A homeless boy's rise to a head of a company.
| Rain splattered down onto my face in the alleyway which was the closest thing I could call home. I had to scrounge through garbage to get a minuscule meal that only furthered to blacken my teeth as I continued to survive. Less than a cardboard box was where I slept, and my arms were lankier than a worm's body, but that's all I was to other people. My red hair always covered my face, a haircut didn't exist for me. If I got money, it was used for food and food alone, I didn't have anything to spare for anything else. That was how I lived in my earlier years. That's how I thought I would die.
Surprisingly, that's not how it ended. I didn't count the years I had accumulated over my life at the time, it was something that wasn't of any worth to me, it still isn't. But, when he found me, he gave me one. Apparently, to him, I was only ten at the time. I didn't have the facts to prove him right or wrong, so I didn't argue with him. He looked away from me for a moment, he had short black hair, and what he did have on his head was slicked back. He whispered sorry to me and then threw some money my way before leaving. It seemed like an abnormal encounter to me, but only because he took the time to talk to me and give me some money before leaving, it was a hundred dollar bill. All I thought at that time was, Great, I can get a bigger box and some food. It surprised me when he came back the next day. After he left that day, I was surprised to find myself wondering if he'd come back.
For about a week he'd come my way, throw a hundred dollar bill at me while talking to me, then leave. I don't think I responded much at that time. I didn't understand his motives, all I knew was his name, Gaius, and that he was somewhat important for some reason. Was he kind? I'm sure many people would say he was, I suppose I'd say he was at that time, too, but he was abnormal. It always felt strange to me, whenever he left. It's as if I wanted more, but it felt like he wanted something from me, I couldn't put my finger on what it was. After that week, he stopped coming by. Made sense to me, I would've stopped coming by on the first day, but I had saved quite the sum of money from his visits, so I would've been good for a little bit. I hardly used it, though.
After a week, however, he suddenly came back, he had another haircut, shorter than before, as if he was in the military and that was as long as they'd let him grow his hair out. He looked down at me, rather than crouching like before, and he did it with disdain. He suddenly spoke, with a low tone, and said, "What, you still have that same hair as before? Use the money to get a haircut and some clothes."
Ah, there it was, the thought ran in my head. He just didn't want to see my shabby appearance every time he came by, so I snapped back at him, "I don't give a shit what you think." I felt rather disappointed, for some reason, maybe it was because of him, or maybe it was from my response.
Strangely, a grin crawled across his face, something I hadn't seen, and I probably didn't want to see it again. He stared at me and chuckled a bit, "Do you like living in the gutter, kid?"
I couldn't understand his question. Would anyone like to live in a gutter? Of course not, I didn't choose to live here, it wasn't an option to me, it was just the card that I had the misfortune of being dealt. I realized that he knew all this, he was toying with me for his own amusement, and for what reason? I didn't know, nor could I give a damn, so I answered, "Fuck you."
The smile stayed on his face, but he crouched down to say to me, "How would you like to get out of this shit-hole?"
Maybe that was it, I thought, maybe he wanted to take me away from here. "Of course I'd like to get out of here." However, I was naive and hopeful.
He held out a hand, a person wearing a tuxedo came into frame and put a hand on Gaius's shoulder and shook his head, but he just shrugged the tux off, "Then, come with me."
I obviously should've thought about it more, but I guess Lady Luck finally decided to look my way, and just smirk smugly. I got a permanent home, there were a few kids around, however, it wasn't exactly a little slice of heaven. Rather, I got drawn into the mob, in a rather roundabout way. Gaius was the boss, and he hand-picked these people. Most of them, I hated. In fact, I hated Gaius most of all. He was strict, smug, and arrogant. Completely ignoring boundaries, the law, and acting on his own selfishness, I grew to despise him. Two-faced to the core, and I was raised by him to be just the same.
Having no name, and just being thrown into a group of kids, they stared at me in partial confusion and terror. These kids were throwaways, just like me, but I didn't know why they were for a long time afterward. I was fed regularly, thankfully, until I was no longer malnourished. I slowly became what they wanted me to be, I had my hair shaved off when I first arrived, then it slowly started growing out again. Every half year, I'd have my hair buzz cut again. I learned to accept this, to have my green eyes shown, to have my face out in front of everyone, without hiding anything, all the while hiding everything behind a facade.
The other kids all had names, and I somewhat resented them for that luxury. I was simply called, "leper," or "bastard," on a good day. No reason to focus on them, but I'd gain a name in a couple of years, not one I'd like, however. There was only one other kid that garnered a second name other than myself, her first name was Wendy, but the others would regularly refer to her as "Numantia." I didn't understand why, but I didn't care much, we were just two kids in the same sinking boat, somewhere we didn't exactly want to be, but it could be a lot worse.
She came up to me one day, the other two kids were just playing with each other, and I was sitting alone, watching and listening to the conversations being held out in the hallway. Gaius was getting angry at his men for messing up, and they were trying to explain themselves. She tapped me on my shoulder, and I think I jumped, but that was only because I wasn't used to getting touched. I turned to her, she looked like she was about to cry. She was only two years younger than me, as far as I was told.
She asked me, "Could you tell them I'm hungry?" She was referring to the people who guarded the hallway. She had wavy, chocolate brown hair, and strangely deep blue eyes, like they were the reflection of the depths of the sea.
I thought at first that she was shy, but then I realized that wasn't it, after all, we hadn't talked before, so I asked, "Why not ask the other kids? Or ask them yourself?"
She was quiet for a moment, before saying, "They're afraid of me."
"Hm," I grunted, I was mostly uninterested in the situation, "come with me then." I took her hand and casually walked out into the hallway and made our way to the guards. I called out to them and said, "We want to take our lunch now. Is that okay?" They looked at Gaius, who was still yelling, then at each other, then back to us and motioned us to follow them, deeper into the building. Gaius's base of operations was located in a hotel, where most of the income comes from. Eventually, we made it to the table, but the guards left us alone, telling us to go back as soon as we were done. We ate in silence for a little while before she thanked me.
She said, "The others were nice to me at first, too, but then something happened, and then they were all afraid of me. It'll probably be the same with you, too." Her voice was shaky, solemn. Lonely is probably the best word to describe it.
"I don't know what this thing is, but I won't stop talking to you," I told her, "just don't expect me to talk much."
She smiled and nodded, it was a smile I couldn't forget, although she was smiling a lot when I first came here, it felt like this was the first time she actually smiled. I was a little envious of that.
I learned why she was called "Numantia" when I was twelve, according to Gaius, she had a tendency to lose herself, and when she did, she only craved flesh. Losing the ability to feel pain, she'd go into a frenzy. While I was with Gaius one day, she killed the other to kids with ease. When I came back, they threw me in the room with her, she was crying her eyes out, as only bones and scrapes of flesh was left of them. They separated us for a little while they cleaned up the mess, but when they put us back together, she was still crying. I turned to her and said, "You'll be okay, right?" I probably should've picked my words better, but I think I just wanted to recognize my promise to her. It was the first one I made, and I wanted to keep it.
Wendy and I would eventually start talking to each other, as Gaius became busier and busier. People rarely attended to us, but when they did, they were deathly afraid of her. I guess most people there assumed I was going to be her last supper. Two years after the first episode, she had another, this time, I was in the room with her, along with another person. She killed him, and then started eating him. Then, she turned to me. I had learned some self-defense in my days there, and it helped in defending myself. When she almost had me cornered, I only had one more attempt to save myself. As she lunged for me, I grabbed her left arm and tossed her over my shoulder, she landed on her stomach, her right arm landed underneath. I pressed my foot down on her, then twisted her arm, dislocating it. I had almost lost myself during that time as well, but I was snapped out of it from her loud bawling. Everyone knew that she never felt pain while frenzied, I was the only one to snap her back from that mode. From then on, I garnered my first real name: "Monster." After all, it takes a monster to kill a monster.
Gaius was there, watching, and he decided to take me under his wing as the next head of the "company." I learned how to use a gun from him, I learned how to manipulate people, I learned how to make my facade work for me. I learned the layout of the city, our territory, and the other "groups" around us, as well as their territories. I was taught financing, statistics, math from him, but I was never good at it. However, I took to human psychology well. Wendy excelled in math and sciences, but was poor in the fields I excelled in. Between the two of us, we created an equilibrium, something which forced Gaius to keep the both of us.
By the time I was "sixteen," I gained another nickname. The name I use now. While on our way back from a "job," I'd always remember that night. There wasn't a cloud in sight, and the moon was right. However, the fluorescent lights painted everything in a light orange tint. He had started drinking and, whenever he was drunk, he'd get aggressive, and talk-y. It was annoying, but, suddenly, he said something that caught my attention.
"You really surprised me back then, though," he was talking about something else, but now we were on the subject of me, "you're the first kid that survived one of Numantia's episodes, you know? That's quite the feat. What's more impressive is that fact that you snapped her out of it. First time we had to dump a full — well, a mostly full body from her. And here I was thinking we'd have to pick up some more kids," then he started laughing.
"What're you talking about?" I asked, my voice was hoarse for some reason.
"What do you mean? What'd you think you were? Why'd you think you were here? No one would've missed you." He said, stumbling over his words, sometimes.
So, that's how it is. I put two-and-two together. I wasn't in the same boat as Wendy, I was in the same boat as those other kids, in the beginning. I was fodder. I wasn't supposed to survive. It must've been surprising when I survived. I suppose he thought that perhaps I'd be killed in one of these "jobs" we frequently had. Enough was enough for me. I reached behind me, I didn't have an actual holster for me gun, so I kept it tucked in my pants behind my back. I brought it out and, as quietly as I could, turned the safety off. A click echoed slightly in the quiet neighborhood night. Was no one up, or around? I don't know. I stepped closer to him and pulled down the gun's hammer and aimed it at his head. Then, I put my finger on the trigger and fired. The loud burst of gunfire echoed throughout the area and was accompanied by a hard thud on the pavement. Blood started spilling out of his head as I walked away and made my way back to our building.
I stormed into the building, anger was obviously visible on my face, because Wendy asked what was wrong. I ignored her as I made my way to the middle of the lobby. Others had started gathering around me as I walked to the middle, asking me where Gaius was, and what I was doing with my gun out. When I made it to my short destination, I fired my handgun into the air.
"Gaius is dead," I yelled at the top of my lungs, "I killed him. I don't have any obligation to tell any of you why. If you want to leave, do it now, because this place is not going to be the same as before. I'm taking over as the head of this group. Stay if you want, or leave. That's your only two options." Most of the room left. Those who stayed started calling me a new name: "Brutus." I liked it.
I had to start building the company back up, with the new name, the Legionnaires, in keeping with my namesake. Over the next decade or so, I gained a reputation and another nickname to compliment that reputation, "Brute." Another name I liked. Wendy became my second-in-command, and I left the finances and that to her, while I was the face of our group. I was feared. And I liked it.