“From a Void of Dark to a Heart of Gold” Part Three As he walked in the snow alone, Asher stopped as he realized the flurry had passed, looking up and seeing the broad range of stars and the near half moon. Asher took a deep breath and closed his eyes, for the first time in his short life really being unsure of what he was doing. Reaching into his trench coat, he pulled out the pistol and looked down at it, rubbing his thumb across it. Wondering what he should do, Asher just shook his head, holding the gun to his side as he turned around and began to walk back down the street from where he had been dropped off. A familiar face rounded the corner, a certain green-haired scientist interested in looking around and sampling some Russian cuisine her boyfriend had introduced her to while she still had the excuse to eat as much as she wanted. As she neared Asher, she was too bundled up to see clearly, not noticing his face at first, though her eyes were drawn to his side. She slowly stopped, and took a step back. Asher noticed the green hair within the bundle, stopping where he was and looking at her with a stoic look, still holding the gun at his side. I was not expecting to see you tonight. Asher stated with his mind, a slight breeze blowing his coat and hair to the side, the operative looking unintentionally menacing. “I… I-I…” Jessica took another step back before realizing it was Asher. She smiled, though the smile half faded when she realized certain implications, and she shifted her position slightly. “That… goes double for me, Asher…” Enjoying your night out? He asked, blinking slightly and looking behind him. Alone I assume? What… is he doing out here? Dumbass! He’s gone rouge! Probably killed his escort, and you’re next if you don’t run! Haven’t you ever seen a single… solitary… slasher flick? Y-you know I… don’t… like… Jessica swallowed hard. “I… yes… I-I mean, no… I… Modya is… j-just around the corner… w-with… guards… going… gun shopping…” Asher rose an eyebrow. You are a horrible liar. The operative took a step forward towards Jessica, his expression still the same, unchanging. Jessica dropped the bags she was carrying, taking several more steps back. “Please… Asher, I… I always… tried to help you… I’m sorry I was annoying…” She wrapped her hands around her stomach. “Please, I can’t…” Asher tilted his head, looking down at the ground and bending over. He picked up the bags Jessica had dropped, putting back a few of the closed items back inside and walking towards Jessica, handing them out to her. Jessica smiled nervously. “Does, uh… does this mean you aren’t going to… you know…” The operative raised an eyebrow. What are you talking about? Asher looked at Jessica and shook his head. You are definitely a weird one. He reached forward, awkwardly hugging Jessica lightly. Yes, you are annoying and all the things under the sun...but I do realize you were just trying to help me so...as much as it pains me...thank...you? Jessica chuckled. “Oh… wow, I… y-you’re welcome. I… I’m sorry I… I’m glad to see you made it after all.” She looked around. “So, uh… what are you doing out here? You… playing hooky?” Hm? No...the person who was tasked to guard me for my excursion out...let...me...go. I walked for a while but I realized that even with the money he gave me...I have no idea how to live on the outside. Plus it is cold out here and I was getting tired. Jessica giggled. “Like when I ran away from home when I was six because I was mad at my mom. I got a whole block away before I realized I was cold and hungry, and had to go home. So embarrassing.” Well, unfortunately my mother is dead. However I have a nagging feeling even if I left, the flower girl would hunt me down with a vengeance and drag me back by the ear...much more embarrassing than your story I believe that would be. “Good point. Besides…” Jessica blushed a bit. “I… I bet she’d be a bit more then mad if you were to disappear on her.” True. Asher scratched his arm, looking down and realizing he still had the gun in plain sight. Oh yeah...you are...probably wanting an explanation, huh? Jessica slowly nodded. “It did look odd when I first approached you. I was afraid you… stole it… maybe used it…” To kill my escort and hunt you down for the annoying devil you are? Eh, the thought crossed my mind in my earlier days but I am done with that train of thought. I just thought it better to approach with the weapon out in the open rather than concealed. Might get in slightly less trouble that way. Asher took the gun and put it back in his jacket to put Jessica more at ease. Before...you grabbed your stomach...did you think I was going to kill you? Am I really portrayed as that much of a monster still? He asked, for once his voice sounding hurt. Jessica expression fell. “No, Asher… I… well… I mean, you did approach me alone, holding a gun, asking me if I was by myself. I-it wasn’t personal, really! Please… don’t take it that way… a girl… a mother… has to be careful…” Asher nodded, closing his eyes and shaking his head. I am sorry. It seemed I was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. And if you are truly not lying...well...you have my thanks for the vote of confidence. “No problem, Asher.” Jessica shrugged. “I mean… you haven’t been around too long. You just need to adjust to certain… social norms, is all. Just… be patient. Your allies will be, too.” Asher nodded. I...guess I should consider you an ally already then, my first. The operative opened his eyes and he nodded to Jessica. Now if you excuse me, I have a top secret facility to break back into. Wish me luck. Asher bolted down the street, back down the way he had first come down, kicking up snow behind him and his coat flapping behind him. Jessica chuckled as she watched him go, silently wishing him luck as she continued on her way. As Asher ran, the snow began to pick up again, this time the snow coming harder and faster than the flurry before. The operative had to constantly wipe his face of the snow, hoping to make good time back to the base. He went over plan after plan of how he would sneak in, but each time his plan fell apart when he realized that there was always a flaw. Finally, he came upon the familiar spot where Bull had dropped him off and continued to run, feeling very little fatigue due to his enhanced body. Asher had to stop though, at first almost not noticing but slowing to a walk as on the other side of the street he noticed the familiar looking car. When Asher finally stopped, the car lights came on and it made an illegal U-turn, though no one was around to see, and it stopped next to Asher. He got in, closing the door and thankful for the warmth. “You took longer than I expected.” Bull noted, waiting as Asher buckled himself back in, taking the pistol Asher had relinquished but refused the money. “You keep it. I have no use for it.” Asher nodded, putting it in his coat pocket. How did you know? “I didn’t. I had just hoped our conversation was enough to bring you back.” Bull put the car in drive and started forward down the road. “Did you enjoy your night out?” You could say that...it is definitely not the worse day I have ever had. Bull nodded. “Good. I want you to remember this night. You are in control of your own path Asher. Whether it is good, bad, or some ambiguous one in between, your choices will shape the man you become. Tonight, you took a step on the right path.” Asher smirked and shook his head How could you possibly know that? “I don’t, but the fact I made you fully smirk shows it.” Bull laughed, briefly glancing at Asher as the neared the headquarters and returned his gaze to the road. Asher shook his head again, the smirk disappearing. He rest his forehead in his hand as he supported it against the window, not long smiling himself and silently laughing along with the big man.