Everyone else in the city was going crazy over the guy after this latest story and the media was milking it for all it was worth. Eli started to watch the news whenever he had the time, if only to amuse himself with the stuff the reporters came up with to embellish the story. Lately, people had taken to calling the guy "Vigilante". It was completely unimaginative and decidedly cliché. Then again, it was all because some reporter decided to call him that. She'd kept with it and eventually, the name stuck. Eli still thought it was all ridiculous.
He might have changed his mind a bit after the third time the masked man entered his life.
Eli had been walking home after his shift ended. His backpack rested heavily on his shoulders, weighed down by the books he needed for his classes. It had been a long day, with difficult lessons in school and a horde of customers that continued throughout the whole day. All Eli wanted was to get home, get something to eat, and get some sleep. Unfortunately, he knew he still had to study if he wanted to pass any of his classes.
Just as he was considering stopping to get some take-out—because he did not feel like cooking and probably didn’t have anything he could arrange into any sort of meal—he was grabbed rather roughly and slammed against a grimy back alley wall. His head met with rough bricks, bouncing off of them and making it rather hard for Eli to concentrate on whatever it was that was being said to him by his attackers. After a moment he was able to get the gist of it and wasn't all that pleased with what he was able to gather.
Of course I'd get mugged, he thought. How else could this craptastic day end?
He was actually already resigned to losing what little money he had in his wallet. All Eli was hoping for was that he wouldn't be hurt by the time it was all over so he could drag himself back to his apartment to wallow in self-pity. Unfortunately, it didn't look like the two jerks assaulting him were satisfied with what was in Eli's wallet—which was, admittedly, not a lot—and to compensate they seemed to be about to do some serious damage to his face.
Eli thought this was a shame as he rather liked his face. It was his best feature, really.
That was when the so called Vigilante made his appearance. Eli had to admit, he was pretty impressed with the movie-like dropkick he gave one of the guys. He bet the guy holding him would have been impressed too if he hadn't been seconds away from getting a fist to the face. It was actually embarrassing how easily the guy put the two muggers down for the count when Eli had barely been able to resist them.
Granted, he had been pretty dazed from having his head smashed against a brick wall. He was surprised he didn't appear to have a concussion, considering he was able to follow the vigilante's movements pretty easily. The masked man used zip ties to make sure the muggers wouldn't get away before the cops got there, and then used what looked like a disposable phone to actually call said cops. Which was actually a pretty funny visual, all things considered.
Eli was still pretty dazed once the vigilante turned his attention back to him, but he was lucid enough to think of how ironic it was for him to be saved by the guy he'd been complaining about for weeks. If Michael could see him now he'd probably laugh and say the not completely uncalled for I-told-you-so that he took so much delight in using on Eli.
"Are you alright?" the guy said, and boy, his voice was pretty deep. It made Eli feel a bit ashamed of his own voice, especially when he practically squeaked out a yes due to his nerves as he let the vigilante pull him to his feet.
The guy was pretty tall, probably taller than Michael who was pretty huge—at least to Eli. He wasn't built like some of the usual comic book heroes though, he was leaner, looking bulkier than he actually was because of the clothes he wore. Even though the dark fabric looked pretty well fitting, Eli could tell there were some protective layers beneath it all. He supposed it was only to be expected though. After all, the guy walked into burning buildings and fought robbers armed with guns and knives and who knew what else.
Eli would have said something about the mask the man wore over his eyes being a bit cliché, but he didn't think it was such a bright idea to anger the guy who had just beaten up two muggers with less effort than it took Eli to complete one of those stupidly complicated coffee drinks that pretentious jerks liked to order at the shop. Besides, he was distracted as the guy actually began checking him for injuries, eventually running a gloved hand through the mess of red curls atop Eli’s head only to retrieve it slightly stained with blood.
"Looks like you took a nasty blow there," he muttered. "You sure you're okay?" The way he asked made him sound genuinely concerned, which was funny considering he didn’t even know Eli. For all the guy knew, he was a terrible person.
Eli still tried to nod, but winced and stopped, answering with another simple yes instead. At least this time it wasn't said in a squeaky tone. It looked like the guy was about to say something else, but then there was the sound of sirens and a moment later the vigilante was gone. It was some serious Batman-ish stuff, and Eli thought maybe he knew how a certain commissioner felt. The whole disappearing act was seriously irritating.
Not nearly as irritating as the cops asking him a bunch of questions about the attempted mugging, though. That sucked.
If there was one good thing to come out of the whole ordeal it was that Eli got a couple of days off to deal with the concussion he'd gotten as a result of the mugging— which he wasn’t sure was actually a mugging when they hadn’t even taken his money. Michael, as was to be expected, had done the whole I-told-you-so routine when Eli told him what happened. To be fair, though, he had expressed his concern for him before laughing and telling him how wrong he'd been.
Of course, with good things came some seriously crappy stuff—as was to be expected when it came to Eli. After the whole Vigilante run-in, he'd gained a sort of stalker and it would have been more unnerving if it hadn't turned out to be so convenient.
"You really need to stop getting into so much trouble," Vigilante said as he zip tied some drunken jerk who'd thought it'd be funny to push Eli around.
"It's not like I actually go looking for trouble," Eli snapped, because he'd gotten comfortable enough around the guy after realizing that he wouldn't kill him for arguing his point.
"Then at least stop wandering around at night through dark streets," Vigilante shot back, not missing a beat.
"I had a night class and it's not my fault the city refuses to fix those damn streetlights," Eli huffed, crossing his arms. Vigilante seemed more amused than frustrated.
"Really though, this is what, the fourth time I've saved you?" the man said after a moment of thought. "I should start charging you," he added with a smirk.
"You can't charge me! What kind of third rate hero charges the people they save?" Eli said indignantly.
"You think I'm a hero? I'm touched." Eli would have been more surprised at hearing the usually ominous looking man joking around if he weren't so used to it already. "Don't worry though, I won't charge you any money," Vigilante went on, and then he got a grin that Eli did not like. "I know, how about a kiss to thank your favorite hero," he said, leaning closer to Eli.
"Wha—you can't, no!" Eli spluttered, face as red as his hair and brown eyes wide. The other man just laughed, earning a glare from Eli.
"It was just a suggestion," he said, grin still firmly in place.
"What the hell kind of suggestion was that? Do you ask all the people you help out to kiss you? That's sexual harassment!" Eli said, hoping he wasn't blushing anymore, but knowing he probably was.
"No, but what can I say, I have a thing for redheads," Vigilante shrugged.
Eli scowled, ready to continue arguing when he heard the unmistakable sound of sirens approaching. He glanced over in the direction the sound was coming from and then back at where Vigilante stood, expecting the man to be gone only to get the shock of his life when the man leaned forward and pressed his lips onto Eli's. The kiss was short and simple and by the time Eli was done having a minor heart attack and his mind had rebooted, Vigilante was gone.