13

THe problem was, she thought, that rapists looked no different than any other of the scum outside or in.

Sara had been in corners of every dirty alley in Anchorage, it seemed. She sat in the university library, dressed as a student. She sat in the lobby of sleazy hotels, nice hotels, laundromats, everywhere she could think of. She braved the cold and the dark, she was ignored and hit on by men with drinking problems, men with fancy suits on, and homeless men.

But no rapists. That she could tell. As the days wore on and the raw feelings of the attack faded into the near past, her anger wasn’t being fed. She was ready to find someone, anyone, that would try and hurt another woman. She was ready to hurt that man back, to kill him, even, if it meant he wouldn’t do that to anyone else ever again.

The problem was, no one attempted rape in the open. No one was obvious about it. You could tell who the drinkers were, and who the rage addicts were. You could see the druggies, and the sickos, and the perverts. But not the ones who would violate women sexually. It wasn’t written on their faces, like so many other things in life. Sara had done some research in the library in mid town, and had learned that rape usually happened to women by men they knew, and already trusted. How did you find that by randomly walking the streets in the city. You didn’t, and she was getting tired of all the fruitless searches.

Peter was still in the hospital, still in a coma. His vital signs were good, but he was not waking up. She went to see him every day, when she wasn’t patrolling. He looked so…peaceful. So calm and content. She felt like an asshole.

Somedays she talked to him, but mostly she sat, and held his hand, and thought about all the things he’d said to her over the year or so that they’d been roommates. She used to think that all his Spiderman and Superman and Batman and X-Men comics were a bunch of shit, but his voice came back to her while she was sitting in an alley, or watching a couple struggle and make out in the corners of trashy hotel hallways. She’d see a man try and force a woman, just a little, and she’d feel the anger rise. It was still always there, just quiet, like a dormant volcano. She knew if she let it out for a walk, she might not be able to control it.

So she kept hersefl under strict control, mostly because of Peter. Great power, great responsibility: Spiderman. Batman: “We are responsible for each other. That’s part of being human — isn’t it?” Superman’s simplistic yet compelling belief in right and wrong: “In this world, there is right and there is wrong, and that distinction is not difficult to make.”

Peter quoted that stuff like it was holy writ. Sarah didn’t even know she had noticed. But now, in the dark of the night, or in the silent, hand-holding moments in the hospital room, she heard his voice saying those words. Words that kept her from grabbing and killing any rat bastard she met ont he streets, from hurting men who were, by all definitions, assholes, but not, in the balance of right and wrong, wholly wrong or evil. Rapists, child-molesters–those were the evil that stalked this world, she thought.

Sarah Juneau was soon to find out that her own worldview was fairly naive.

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