Michael Jones shuffled through the dark, barren streets, his face barely illuminated by cheap, city-funded fluorescent lights as he shrugged his jacket on tighter against the chilly Texas air, far chillier than anyone there was used to but immensely warmer than he would be experiencing in his mother state of New Jersey in February. He sighed wearily, faint tendrils of fogged air escaping his lips.
His ears quirked as he heard footsteps behind him but he didn't turn around, assuming it was another person in the same boat as him, stuck in a job that had him overworked and underpaid. He tugged his beanie tighter over auburn curls and vaguely made a mental note to get a haircut soon before cutting down his usual alley, the smell of garbage from the nearby dumpster and stale air assaulting his nostrils and he wrinkled his freckled nose, grunting to himself.
The footsteps followed and he slowed his steps, paying attention to the stuttered rhythm behind him. He knew what was happening; growing up in Jersey, you had to get street smart real damn quick in order to survive. He was about to get mugged.
He took a deep breath as the soft patters of footsteps grew louder as the assaulter came closer, a panic building up in his chest despite his best efforts to qualm it. Stay quiet, hand over your things, cancel all your cards when you leave, he ran through the steps in his head just as he felt a strong hand on his shoulder.
He was slammed into the dumpster, his back smarting against the edge. He faced a man shrouded in a dark hood, knife held within view of his vision to make a point. Michael could tell by his body language that the man didn't plan to harm him, it was merely for show, and the comforting thought steadied his shaking hands.
"Give me everything you got." The man gruffed out, his voice wavering at the end; he was nervous, but that didn't reassure Michael. The nervous amateurs were wild cards, easily startled into doing something stupid and quick to pull the trigger; or in this case, use the knife.
"Okay, buddy. I'll give you whatever you want." Michael's voice was calm and slow and his movements were deliberate and clear as he reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. It was going well until there was a loud bang from across the alley.
The mugger panicked and elbowed Michael in the face, hitting him square in the nose and knocking off his glasses. Michael cursed, clutching at his now-bleeding appendage and blinking the tears of pain from his chocolate eyes.
"Never fear! Vav is here!" He heard yelled from the entrance of the alleyway where a man in blue spandex stood, a red cape flowing behind him.
"What the actual fuck." Michael snorted out, still holding both hands over his flowing nose. The mugger froze for a second before darting for the other exit. The caped man followed him in a blur of color, tackling him to the ground and punching him before pulling a rope from what Michael assumed was tucked into his red underwear, or whatever superheros (was this freakshow a superhero?) called the garment they wore over their weird spandex suits.
The criminal squirmed but was effectively captured under the thin, lanky man. The hero (?) stood, strutting over to Michael proudly.
"No need to thank me, citizen! It's all in a day's work for X-Ray and Vav!" He looked around suddenly as if searching for someone, his eyes shielded by a red mask similar to that of the Incredibles.
"I don't want to thank you, asshole! It's your fault I got elbowed in the fucking face. It was all going fine until your dumbass fucking circus act showed up! And now I've lost my God damned glasses!" He yelled, voice garbled by his hands and busted nose. The hero only looked at him curiously, still grinning, as if he didn't understand what Michael was saying, and he very well might not.