Ravi was questioning why he left the circus, the place that had been his home for years. There he didn’t have to steal food and provide for an eight year old.
But the circus also had the creep who had caused Tao to leave, and he couldn’t have left Heedo there while he fled for himself. So instead, Ravi fund himself scouting out a convenience store, figuring out what he should buy and what he should steal. Doing tricks on the street just didn’t make enough money for dinner for two growing mutant boys.
Ravi ultimately decided to stash some granola bars and chocolate in the bag over his shoulder. A big bag of chips, two large bottles of water, and four pre-made sandwiches were what he brought to the register. The purchase almost used up all of his money. He thanked the bored looking cashier and fled the store as fast as he could while still remaining unsuspicious. He had a lonely child to get back to.
Once outside and in a back alley, Ravi slid his bag and jacket from his shoulders to free his wings. He stretched them out to full length for a moment before taking off. The alley where he’d left Heedo was only a few blocks away, but flying was much faster than walking and he wanted to get back to him as fast as he could.
Ravi landed a street over from the alley that was their shelter. It was easier to not risk being seen and drawing attention that way. He didn’t want anyone to find them and separate him from Heedo. So he quickly rushed over to where he had left him.
When he reached the mouth of the alley, he nearly dropped his bag. Standing in front of the makeshift tent Heedo was waiting in was a man that Ravi didn’t know, at least not from behind in the dark. After a brief moment of panic, Ravi surged forward and inserted himself between Heedo and the man. He spread his wings as far as he could to create a barrier.
“Who are you?” Ravi asked, looking up at the man and only shaking a little bit. The guy backed up a little. He didn’t look that old, now that Ravi could see his face. He also didn’t seem very threatening, not that appearances meant anything.
“My name is Hakyeon. I promise i mean no harm.” The guy introduced.
“He’s nice, Ravi.” Heedo’s voice was accompanied by a tug on Ravi’s left wing. “He was telling me about a house!” Hakyeon chuckled at Heedo’s eagerness, while Ravi just gathered the boy in his arms.
“I have an apartment. It’s not much but it’s better than nothing. You’re both welcome to stay with me.” Hakyeon explained. Ravi didn’t know whether he should trust him or not.
“And why should I believe you?” Ravi questioned.
“Because I know how hard not having a home is. No kid needs to go through that.” Ravi hugged Heedo closer. He knew this stranger was right, but it was still suspicious. The stories that Tao had told him… No one ever genuinely wanted to help two kids. Ravi shook his head. No. He couldn’t risk anything going wrong. The stranger looked almost sad. “At least let me buy you guys something warm to eat.”
Ravi thought about this for a second.They barely ate enough, and there would be people everywhere, so what could go wrong? They’d need to relocate for the night afterwards, but they would need to do that anyway, now that someone knew where they were.
“Okay.” Ravi agreed. The smile Heedo rewarded him with confirmed that he made the right choice. “But we need to pack first.”
There really wasn’t much they needed to do. The blanket that was their tent was packed into a backpack and loose clothes gathered up. When that was done, Ravi put his jacket back on to hide his wings, grabbed Heedo’s hand, and addressed Hakyeon.
“So. Food?” Ravi walked up to Hakyeon.
“Where do you want to go?” Hakyeon asked. Ravi turned towards Heedo. He could choose.
“I want pizza.” Heedo decided, looking excited. Ravi couldn’t help but smile at his enthusiasm. He looked up and saw that Hakyeon was smiling fondly too. Maybe this guy could be trusted, but no, Ravi couldn’t risk it.
“I know a good pizza place that’s only a few blocks away.” Hakyeon told them, leading the way out of the alley. The pizza place he led them to was a tiny family run shop that Ravi had passed several times before but had never been inside. Even standing in front of the restaurant the smell was mouth watering. It had been so long since the last time he’d had pizza.
The three boys were taken to a booth in the corner. Ravi and Heedo sat with their backs against the wall and Hakyeon took the space across from them. In the light of the restaurant, Ravi took a closer look at the stranger’s face. He really didn’t look much older than Ravi himself, maybe just a few years. He also looked genuinely interested in whatever story Heedo had started telling.
He eyes surprised Ravi the most though. They were cloudy, in a way that Ravi had never seen before, and there was a thin white scar across them both. Was Hakyeon blind? That would make him less of a threat at least, if an escape had to be made.
And then he noticed that Hakyeon’s eyes were on him and he almost jumped out of his seat. Ravi hoped that he hadn’t been caught staring.
“Do you want to say something?” Hakyeon asked kindly.
“Uh.” So he did notice the staring. “Your eyes, they’re all cloudy. Are you blind?” It may have been a bit rude, but Ravi wanted to know. Hakyeon didn’t seem bothered by the question though.
“Yes I am. You’re very observant.” Ravi shrugged at the compliment. He had to be observant, to keep himself and Heedo alive and safe.
“Why do you want to help us?” Ravi asked, instead of responding to the compliment.
“I know how hard it is living on the streets. I can’t just stand by and watch kids go through that without trying to help.” The answer seemed genuine, but Ravi didn’t trust him totally. Not yet. Maybe not ever.
But Heedo seemed to be having fun, and the restaurant was much nicer than an alleyway, so Ravi was fine staying in Hakyeon’s presence for a while. Heedo’s exaggerated stories took up most of the conversation during dinner. Ravi couldn’t remember the last time that Heedo had talked to much. It had probably been while they were still at the circus. Before Tao left.
An hour later, after all of the pizza was eaten and the bill was paid, Ravi had to break it to Heedo that they wouldn’t be going back to Hakyeon’s place. A nice meal hadn’t changed his mind.
Ravi grabbed Heedo’s hand as they walked outside into the night air. It had gotten rather chilly.
“Are you sure you don’t want to come stay with me?” Hakyeon asked after a moment. Ravi ignored the hopeful look Heedo sent him.
“I’m sure.” Hakyeon nodded like that was the answer he’d been expecting. “Thank you for the pizza. We have to go now.” Ravi pulled Hedo away from the restaurant, ignoring his pouting. He didn’t look back to make sure they weren’t being followed.
Ravi walked right past the alley that had been their shelter for weeks. That location was known. They would have to find a new one. A couple blocks down seemed like far enough away. They should be safe.
But then a voice saying “children shouldn’t be wandering the streets alone at night” came from behind them. Ravi tensed in panic before turning around. Standing there were two men, one with a flame in his hand, and the other with too much muscle for it to be normal.
“Isn’t that the kid from the circus? The one who does the thing with the ice?” Mr. Muscles asked, tilting his head towards Heedo. Ravi felt the hand in his grow freezing cold. Being recognized wasn’t good. “We could use a couple of mutant kids for our plans.”
“We’re not going with you.” Ravi told the men, trying to sound brave. He hoped he was right. He didn’t think he could take both of them if it came to a fight, not while protecting Heedo too.
“The kid thinks he has a choice.” The bad guy sounded amused. Ravi’s fear grew a bit more as Heedo’s hand grew even colder. He considered running. BEfore he could flee, a burning heat began behind him. Turning slightly, Ravi saw a wall of fire.
“No running.” Fire man spoke to them for the first time, smirking. The men started getting closer. It was times like these that Ravi wished he could fly with Heedo in his arms.
There was nowhere they could possibly run to. The men were approaching and there was nothing Ravi could do. He held Heedo’s hand tighter, and hoped that whatever happened they could stay together. Mr. Muscles reached out to grab them.
And then some kind of laser beam cut between them, ending in a smoking char mark on the pavement.
Ravi glanced over to see Hakyeon standing just past the ring of fire. He looked angry. “You’re not taking them anywhere.” He asserted. With the bad guys distracted, Ravi nudged Heedo forward a bit. Heedo understood the silent message and reached forward to grab fire man’s arm. A sheet of ice grew from Heedo’s hand up the guy’s arm. He let of a cry of discomfort. It was enough to break his concentration, and the flames died down.
Ravi prepared to run, but before he had a chance to flee, police sirens sounded nearby. Someone must have called the police when they saw the flames. The cars were around them in moments. Ravi let out a breath in relief. The police would help, right?
Between Hakyeon and the police officers, the bad guys had no where to hide. Hakyeon made sure they didn't go anywhere, and soon they were cuffed and put in the back of one of the police cars. A police man approached where Ravi was still standing with Heedo.
“Are you boys okay?” He asked in what was probably supposed to be a calming voice. Ravi thought he sounded a little condescending. He nodded anyway. “What are you doing alone at night?”
When Ravi didn’t answer, the officer continued. “We’ve heard about two boys living in an alley. Is that you? We’re going to have to take you somewhere safe. Let’s go for a ride in the police car.” Ravi shook his head.
“No, we’re not going anywhere.” Ravi pushed Heedo behind him slightly, just in case. The officer sighed.
“I can’t leave you kids here alone. I either need to take you home or bring you somewhere safe. Do you have a home?”
“They’re my brothers. They live with me.” Hakyeon answered before Ravi could say anything. The police officer looked a bit surprised.
“Let me escort you home then.”
Hakyeon nodded at the policeman’s request. He grabbed Heedo’s hand that Ravi wasn’t holding and the three of them began walking. The officer followed in his car.
Ravi figured he didn’t have much of a choice anymore but to go with Hakyeon. Staying with Hakyeon for a night seemed like the lesser of two evils. They didn’t talk much on the walk. Heedo seemed excited at the prospect of having a roof over their heads though. Maybe staying in an apartment for a night would be worth it.
The police officer drove off once they made it inside of Hakyeon’s apartment building. Part of Ravi wanted to take Heedo and run, but they were so close to a good place to sleep that he couldn’t do that to him. One night couldn’t hurt. Hakyeon had saved them twice in one night, he couldn’t be all bad. Heedo’s look of wonder in the elevator solidified Ravi’s decision even more.
“I only have one spare bed, but I can sleep on the couch so you both can get a good sleep.” Hakyeon offered. Ravi felt kind of bad.
“But it’s your apartment.” Ravi tried to argue. Hakyeon just waved his hand like it was no big deal.
“My couch is almost as comfortable, I’ll be fine. Although I don’t think I have pajamas that will fit.” Ravi was starting to question if Hakyeon really was blind, the way he knew where things were and relative sizes didn’t quite seem to fit. But Ravi decided that he could look into it in the morning. He seemed to be no threat.
Ravi let Hakyeon show them around the apartment and allowed Heedo to choose which room he wanted to sleep in. Fifteen minutes later he found himself in a bed for the first time in years. The mattress was comfortable and the pillows were fluffy. He was asleep before he managed to turn off the light.