You stumble backwards as a red blur soars into you, slamming into the wall next to you. You drop your bouquet of flowers and grab the wall for balance, a little dizzy from the impact.
You do as told, not even thinking and gasp as a fist rams into the wall, exactly where your head was a few seconds ago. You turn to find yourself face to face with what you can only describe as a super-villain, fist poised to punch.
You duck out of the way just in the time and the man slams into the wall. He starts to get up but a burst of silvery thread shoots out past you. You whip around and find yourself face to face with Spider-Man. Your eyes widen as he shifts back and forth from foot to foot.
“Sorry about your flowers,” he says and you’re surprised by how young his voice sounds. “Were those…from your boyfriend? Girlfriend? Someone?” You can’t help but grin as you shake your head.
“No,” you reply. “They were for my mom.”
“Oh,” he says. “Are you in a hurry?”
“Not really, but-”
He shoots a web upward and just like that, he’s gone. Five minutes later, he swings back onto the sidewalk, two bouquets of flowers in hand.
“Thanks,” you say, reaching for one of the bouquets. “You didn’t have to.”
“I wanted to,” he says. “The other’s one for you, by the way.”
“Oh,” you say, blushing. “Um…thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” he says. You reach for the second bouquet and stand there, unsure of what to say.
“Well, maybe I’ll see you around?” you say, immediately mentally slapping yourself for such a dumb comment. “I’m (Y/N), by the way.”
“Pe–Spider-Man!” he says and you laugh.
“Right,” you nod. “Well, happy Valentine’s Day, Spider-Man.”
Gally promised you no more fighting, so when you saw him sparring with another Glader you ran over to stop it. You approached the other Glader from behind, attempting to pull him away. As you tried, he ducked and Gally punched you right in the face, knocking you out.
You woke up in the Medjack hut, unsure of what happened and how long you’ve been out. You sat up and saw a dark figure in the corner of the room. He apparently noticed your waking up and came out of the shadows, head hung. It was Gally. He kept a distance from your bed.
“You can come closer you know, I don’t bite,” you teased. He took when step forward, “closer than that,” you rolled your eyes.
He shuffled a little bit more.
“What are you scared of?” You asked.
“I-I don’t want to hurt you…again.”
You rolled your eyes again, “Gally it was an accident.”
“It shouldn’t have happened in the first place, y/n.”
“Accidents happen all the time Gally, you can’t control everything.”
“I’m sorry,” his head was still hanging.
“Gally, look at me,” he slowly lifted his head locking eyes with you, “it’s ok, I know you wouldn’t do it on purpose, now come here and kiss me.”
Billy ducks the first punch, feints right and comes up on the left to circle behind the man and break a glass over his head. It’s late and everyone is drunk, him included, which works to his benefit—alcohol makes them sloppy and obvious, but it lights a fire in him, makes him all the more wary for it. Makes him angrier, too.
Dangerous, to drink the way he does, sticking out the way he does. But he’d spent years now, on his own, and he knows better than to drop his guard under any circumstance, drunk or not. And there is so little in his life to look forward too—a man like him can’t begrudge himself too much, for fear of letting life grind him down under its heel. If he drinks a little more than he should sometimes, what of it? He still wakes up every morning. Still hasn’t met a man who could take him down for longer than that.
He slams the last man’s head against the bar, once and then twice for good measure, until the man goes limp in his hands and he lets the body drop to the floor. And that was six of them down for the count, all unconscious if not worse, bar emptied out save for one man staring at him queerly from across the room.
Billy shifts slightly, squares off his shoulders, waiting on the man to lift his rifle; but he doesn’t. Instead, the man deliberately takes his finger off the trigger and gives his full name, which is enough of a rarity these days that Billy pauses.
When he first came to America, he thought maybe that Americans did things differently somehow. But he found out soon enough that the difference lay with him, and not with Americans. All the world over, it seems, people introduce themselves with their full names, quick as anything, in hopes of finding the one person with it printed on their skin. White folk look at him, and it’s not a matter of that hope dying, as much as it is an incomprehension that it could even be found there in the first place. No one gives their name to him because he doesn’t matter.
So the man gives him his full name, a proper introduction of the sort that Billy never gets anymore, and Billy lets the words sink in.