“Oh, it’s you,” said Isaac as he drew back his weapon and held out his hand. “Sorry, I must always be cautious. I've made lots of enemies in my past.
“I can imagine.” Josh said as he grabbed Isaac’s hand and pulled himself up.
“Of course, you would know something about that; right Phoenix...” Said Isaac.
Josh’s eye’s widened in shock, “Wait, how do you know?”
“Last night at the village wasn’t the first time we’ve met. I was only a boy then, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Anyway what brings you here?” Asked Isaac.
“I don't know; maybe I'm just a little curious.” Josh answered.
“Last night, you showed up out of nowhere and saved the village.” Said Josh.
“Is that your home?” Inquired Josh.
“Do you have friends, family, or loved ones there?”
“Well, I could say some of them are my friends, but that's about it.”
Isaac’s answer was only bringing up more questions, so Josh finally asked the question that he wanted to know. “Then why did you do it? Why did you risk your life to save them?”
“Do I really need a reason? I care for the innocent.” Responded Isaac.
“Someone has to, without people like me the bad will prey on the weak and innocent. They'll continue to do it, and the world will be a place of pain and suffering. Those who just want to live a normal happy life could never do so. The civilization I grew up in was a bad place. We were relentlessly being attacked. There was no hero to protect us so little by little our people died. I lost my family when I was twelve and there was nothing I could do about it. This continued to happen until one day a hero showed up out of nowhere, and saved the few innocent people that were left. He had amazing powers that I could only dream of. He didn't know who we were; all he knew was that we were in trouble so he saved us without expecting anything in return. He was the one who inspired me to help others.”
“So that’s when we first met.” Stated Josh finally remembering.
“How can I forget? You were the great Phoenix of Arcadia. You left your own city to come and save us. There has never been a better hero.”
Josh closed his eyes, bowed his head and sighed in pain. “You don't know anything about me,” Josh said.
“I know that you were a good man once.” Said Isaac.
“Yes, but I never had the choice like you do.”
“What do you mean?” Asked Isaac.
“You help others because you choose to. I was raised to be a hero since I was a child. That's all I’ve ever known. You say you want to help others so they can live a normal life. Well, I never had the luxury of living a normal life. For a century I’ve been helping others, and was never given a reason.”
“You’ve never needed a reason.”
“I never had a choice, just imagine it, watching the people you protect living out their lives, making friends, being loved, having families, and feeling complete. I could never have that feeling. And when I finally found someone to love that loves me back, I can never be with her. She is only temporary in my life, just like everyone else I’ve known.”
“Sounds to me like you never truly understood how much your people appreciated and cared for you.” Replied Isaac. “You were the reason they could live out their normal lives. You may not have thought it but you were never alone.”
“But I let my people down. I walked out on them when they needed me the most; it's too late now.” Josh added.
“If you think it is, then it is,” Isaac held out his hand, and said. “But there is always hope. If you want me to prove it then shake my hand, and I'll show you how to be a hero even if you are just as normal as the rest of us.”
Josh stared at his hand and thought carefully about his words, then replied. “I'm sorry, but after going through a century of loneliness, I really don't want to go back.” He turned and began to walk away.