James couldn't help it, he liked taking his daughter shopping. He felt like he shouldn't enjoy trips to the mall, but they ate good food and it was a bonding experience. Sophie told her father almost everything, while she flipped through racks of clothes she would talk and talk. She told him how her friends were, what teachers she hated -some of which he didn't like very much either-, what books she was reading, and many other topics. There were some things he didn't press her on, which may not have been a great parenting move but it definitely made her like him more, he thought. Weren't your kids supposed to like you anyway?
Emerging from another edgy teen store where he bought her a thirty-dollar band shirt, the father of three was both confused and content, James understood a little bit as to why it appealed to her so much, he wore band shirts when he was younger, he also read the Lord of the Rings four times a year, but he still had band shirts. She was a very different kind of kid than he was.
"I gotta use the bathroom Dad, I'll be right back." She said.
"Okay sweetheart, I'll be by the stairs." He replied. The Mall was shaped like a big plus sign, with four halls branching out from a circular center, shops lined each of these branches, right now he was in the eastern arm, on the second floor, getting a grape soda from one of three vending machines that stood proudly next to a stairwell at the far end of the section they were shopping in, the bathroom was roughly fifteen yards away, toward the center of the building.
While she was gone he saw a man wearing a large blue puffy jacket walk into the Sephora across from where he stood. He thought the jacket suspicious given the time of year, so he watched the man while he entered and approached the counter. He talked to the cashier for a short time, then pulled a long serrated knife from his coat and thrust across the counter, stabbing her in the chest twice, she went down screaming and the man turned to fight the other customers. He brandished his knife at them as they ran from the store, and while they ran away, James ran toward the commotion. He leaped over the banister and across the open air between the two balconies that were the second level, there were bridges across this gap at intervals, but he had no time to cross one of them.
He couldn't go full Knight, Sharon would kill him if he ruined his new jeans, he likely wouldn't have to stop the miscreant. He entered the store, quickly shouting for someone to call an ambulance, he saw one of the fleeing patrons unexpectedly whip out a phone and begin to dial as she ran, he was thankful for that. He came to the counter and confronted his foe, trying to end it first with words.
"Come on pal, just put the knife away." He tried to soothe the attacker so he could disarm him, but the man merely charged. Before he did James got a look at his face, his eyes and nose were streaming blood, his mouth was full of it as well. He looked like he'd been awake for days, but for all James knew this was another side effect of whatever narcotic he had taken, if he had taken any. No normal drug could do this to a man.
He heard security running down the hall, they'd be here in no more than five seconds, he had to act fast. As the junkie brought his knife up to slash down at the Knight, thin whisps of metal shot from his skin on his forearms, they then entangled themselves together and formed a plate of metal so quickly that by the time the knife made contact it clanged against an upraised arm. James grew himself a guantlet and capitalized on the blocked knife, with one strike breaking the man's jaw and sending him to the ground. The attacker got to his feet immediately after this, not feeling the pain of the blow he tensed, about to charge again.
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