Alain was so lost.
He'd come to Banlieue 13 to try and find a good story about the bomb scandal and the ensuing debate about taking down the wall: he wanted to find a different angle, something fresh. Instead, he'd found himself in a maze of rundown streets and buildings, with a lot of people looking at him with suspicion.
...Or maybe 'with hostility' was the more accurate description. He tried to speed up without looking like he was speeding up, except that was stupid because he still didn't know where he was, or where he was going.
A hand slipped into the crook of his elbow, and he startled, looking down to see a tiny gorgeous girl (woman, his inner voice corrected, sounding a bit like his older sister) smiling up at him.
"Keep walking and don't turn around," she said, still smiling brightly. "You're about to get mugged by that gang."
He turned reflexively to look, and she yanked him back around – she was strong for someone so tiny. "Idiot, you're going to get yourself knifed!" the girl hissed. She sighed in exasperation. "Quick, les bises, like you know me." She pulled them to a stop; out of the corner of his eye, Alain saw a group of men, tattooed and dressed raggedly, and carrying – were those Uzis?
He gulped, and bent to kiss the girl's cheeks.
"Perfect," she said, her smile going a little edged. It looked good on her. She turned and waved cheerfully at the men, who had miraculously stopped following them. "Now you won't die horribly."
"How did you do that?" Alain said, then cursed his curiosity for short-circuiting his brain. He sounded like an idiot.
"No one wants to mess with my brother right now," she said, her tone a strange mixture of proud and bitter. "Lucky for you I was walking by."
"Thank you for the rescue," he said, and felt himself blush when it came out entirely too earnest. The girl – woman – eyed him sidelong: fierce even through the lush sweep of her eyelashes, sharp under the delicate beauty of her face.
"It's a nice change," she said cryptically, then tugged him back into motion. "You should probably get out of here, though."
"I don't suppose...That is, would you be interested in–" Alain choked on his words as she shot him a glare, pulling her hand almost free of his arm. Frantically, he finished, "Can I interview you?"
The woman stopped dead, then started laughing.
"I'm a reporter?" Alain tried, and she laughed harder.
"Not for long, if you don't learn some common sense," the woman gasped at last, clutching her sides as she caught her breath. "Alright, let's see how it goes. You might need to buy me dinner."
"I accept," he said, and offered his arm. His rescuer lifted one dangerous eyebrow, and then deigned to take it again.
Getting lost wasn't so bad after all.