Sometimes a doorbell is a welcome intrusion. It can herald the coming of good friends, loved neighbors, dear family members and other such pleasant company into the home. This morning, however, Mathew somehow knew it would not bring anything so fair. He opened it slowly and sighed as he saw what he dreaded to see.

"I have come to challenge you! To prove that I am stronger!" The young man before him said. He wore all black. The pants appeared to be made of imitation leather, bloused into black boots. His shirt was made of a similar material as the pants. His mask just a flimsy ski mask and the cape was a thin silk-like fabric.

'They always wear black,' Mathew thought. The mask covered most of the man's face, though it was clear that he was in his early twenties.

"I know who you are," He sounded like a bad recording Matt had heard for years. "You cannot hide it from me. I feel it in my marrow. You were the greatest hero the wor-"

"Yeah. Yeah. I know," Matt said to the annoyance. He was dressed far more simply, still in his flannel pajamas and slippers. "You got these new powers that remind you of what I used to do, so now you want test them out against the legendary Warrior. I know. I've heard it before." He opened the front door the rest of the way. "Come on in." He led the now very confused young man down the hallway to a dining room. "Sit down. Make yourself at home, kid."

"I have come… to challenge you?" The man in black repeated, stammering in his confusion.

"Yes, I know. I heard you on the porch. Let me finish my tea, please," He sat at the head of the table, lifted the mug of green tea and returned to his newspaper. After a few moments of this, he returned his eyes to his guest. "I'm sorry. Did you want something to drink? We've got ice tea, if you like. Or warm green tea."

"Ice tea, please," the young man, before he could stop himself, answered. It seemed the man's hospitality was somewhat infectious.

"Honey! Could you bring a glass of sweet tea, please?" Matt called to the next room. "We've got a guest."

"Who could be here this early?" Through the door walked a woman who appeared to be in her late twenties or early thirties, like Mathew. She was heavily pregnant. As soon as she noticed the masked man in her dining room, she rolled her eyes. "Of course. They always come in the morning. Hold on."

"Don't be to hard on the kid, sweetie," When she returned with the drink, she leaned over and kissed Matt's cheek softly.

"Yeah. Yeah," Mathew mumbled. "Hurry and get to work or you'll be late. Call me if you pop. I love you."

"I love you too," She left the two. Matt returned to his paper and tea, ignoring the stranger at his table.

"Hold on!" The masked man barked suddenly, his nerve resurfacing following the initial shock of Matt's greeting. He stood and began to walk around the table to Matt. "I'm here to fight you! Don't you get it?"

"Mmm…" Matt said as he sipped the soothing green tea.

"Listen to me, old man!" This man in black almost shouted, his face inches from his host's. "Go get your suit on, Warrior! I will fight you!"

"Listen kid," Matt calmly placed his tea mug on the table and looked up from his paper. "I'm tired, hungry, a little hung over, and still in my pajamas." He narrowed his eyes at his guest. "Sit. Down." His threat, while not violent or angry, got his point across well enough that the masked man in black returned to his seat and drank his tea. After a short while, Matt asked him, "How is it?"


"The tea, kid," Matt lips curled into a faint smile. "It's a little strange tasting, isn't it?"

"Yeah," He nodded.

"Limeade," Matt mentioned. "My wife picked it up from her mother. She puts limeade and a whole lot of sugar in it." He finished off his own drink. "Well, I'm done. Shall we?" He stood and walked further into the house. His guest quickly followed after him.

"Make yourself comfortable, kid," They were standing in what seemed to be an office. Matt opened a closet and began searching for his old suit.

His guest was already staring at the many pictures on the walls. They showed Matt meeting various world leaders, though always as the Warrior. The familiar red mask that covered half his face while deep green leather covered his body as he stood beside two American Presidents, a Queen of England, and a dozen different Prime Ministers and countless mayors and governors. He seemed to have met every prominent leader in the world. The masked man also noticed several newspaper clippings about the Warrior. He remembered all these events so clearly. The only time the Warrior had given a televised press conference…

When asked his name, this living comic book hero answered rather cryptically. "I've had many names throughout time. I have been called Gilgamesh, Theseus and Perseus. The Jews named me Samson long before the English called me Arthur or Robin at different times and the French called me Joan. I am as old as time itself. I am the essence of the Warrior. Next."…

It wasn't long after that interview before the press started calling Matt "Warrior", a name that he hadn't really asked for. In fact, he thought it sounded a little pretentious. But the media needs a name for everything and everyone.

There were other clippings. One described Warrior's fight against a tyrannical South African President's army. He had wasted his nations resources in order to further his own agenda. Warrior had told him that if he did not vacate power and turn himself in for the war crimes he had committed, the hero would attack his forces. Not believing that one man could defeat his army, the leader chose to remain where he was. This proved to be his downfall.

Another clipping caught the guest's attention. It explained that the Warrior had died fighting a deadly Hydra-like monster, the result of the Army's genetic engineering gone awry…

…A man witnessed the Warrior in his final moments. Earth's greatest hero turned to the nearby man, who declined to have his printed, and said, "I'm only going to say this once. You're probably not going to remember it, but I'm saying it anyway. If I don't get out of this one, they'll ask questions. Tell them to remember peace and happiness, but I can't help them anymore." The boy states that the Warrior then began to smile before he added, "It's clobbering time!" Then the Warrior lifted off the ground and soared directly at the monster. In a few moments, the fight was over. The monster was defeated, but there was no sign of the Warrior. He is assumed to have been killed…

"Yeah. I remember that." Matt stood behind his guest and grinned. "Can't think of better last words than those. The media always referred to comic books when they talked about me, so I figured they would enjoy that. Plus this gave me a chance to see my own memorial service."

"Why did you do it, Warrior?" The young man said. "The world still needed you."

"Well, I thought I had done enough." Matt smiled. "I had been playing the hero for five years. I had faced oppressive armies, earthquakes, petty thugs, and crime bosses. I did my part. So after that fight with the Hydra, I just disappeared. It was my turn to relax and be with my family." The door to the office opened.

"Daddy?" A small boy, no more than five, stood there in his pajamas, which depicted several different cartoon characters.

"Hey there, kiddo," Matt smiled at his boy. "You're up early. Its not even noon yet." He reached to the boy and lifted him onto his shoulder. "Daddy's gotta talk to his friend here for a little bit. Why don't you grab a book, go into your room, and read it. Then, when I get done with him, I'll read to you for a while?"

"Okay Daddy." He hugged Matt's head before his father set him down. "Will you read me The Hobbit?"

"That old thing?" Matt laughed. "You always want to hear that one."

"But you make such funny faces and Bilbo sounds so funny!" The boy laughed as he recited a few of his favorite lines from the book.

"Okay. Go grab it and I'll be in there in a flash," The boy ran out the office. Matt turned to his guest. "See, that's why I don't do the hero thing anymore. That boy needs a father much more than the world ever needed me. But if you want to test your strength and all that jazz, come on. I got my old suit and I there's a field not far from here that is perfect for it."

"Others have come here looking for you?"

"Yeah, a few times a year." Matt said calmly. "They show up saying that they could sense my power, and we fight. Sometimes I kill them, sometimes not. Depends on how they would use their powers. Evil ones I kill, good ones I don't."

"I…" The masked man didn't really know what to say. "You were my hero. I wanted so badly to be like you."

"Yep. I get that sometimes," Matt nodded. "I was the modern world's first superhero, after all. You saw all those adventures I had and all the people I saved. Then you started to be able to do things that you didn't really understand. Things like I was able to do. You practiced for a while, all the time discovering new powers. You could fly, had super strength and speed, could do that nifty force field thing, and fire energy balls. Then you began to sense the energy of other people. Then you felt a huge energy and followed it all the way to my house. It didn't take you long after that, did it? To figure that I must have powers like yours? That I must be the Warrior?"

"Where does it come from?" The masked man asked Matt. "Our powers, I mean?"

"That is the million dollar question, kid," Matt just grinned at his young fan. "As near as I can tell, they are an exaggeration of other people's potential. All people have these abilities. They just never learn how to use them to the extent we do. Many people learn a small amount of it. They are the ones who show up here all the time." He shook his head, though he was nearly laughing. "They think that moving a coffee mug or creating a spark of their energy is enough to do anything significant. But you, kid. You're nearly as strong as me, I think. More than capable of defending this world from whatever comes."

"I don't need to fight you," The man in black stared at Matt.

"I know." Matt smiled. "You realize that it doesn't matter which of us is stronger, because we're both on the same side. Get out of here and let me read to my boy," he walked him to the front door. "Go and do the hero thing if you want. Here is my home and here I shall stay."

"If I need you, Warrior?" The young man said, as though he spoke to a king.

"Here is my home, kid." Matt said more firmly "And here I shall stay." The door gently shut the young man out of the home.