Asphalt & Ablution (Part2!)

She could have sworn that Gotham never saw a sunny day. Far too much like her childhood homes in Washington and Maine. Rain came and went throughout the early morning hours, the sun visible as it rose out of the ocean for only a brief time before vanishing beneath the storm clouds. Thunder rumbled, distant and rather soothing to her as it masked her footfalls on wet and worn stonework that composed some of the old alleys. She ghosted past the people of the early hours, doing what she could to shut off the emotional signature she got from them. She found focusing on the patrolling police and soldiers to slightly alleviate the depression. Slightly.

Counting the patrols being made, there was an impression that things had died down considerably since she was last active. Making the shot on Crane-

Her head spiked with pain, throwing her vision out of focus and her balance off the rails, stumbling into a controlled crash with a brick wall. Everything seemed to spin, and the ground simply refused to stay under her feet.

She tried to refocus, but for a moment it seemed as if the whole world had become a fresh painting splashed with water. She brought her breathing to heel, braced between what she assumed was a large garbage can and a pillar, and slowly counted under her breath. At about forty five, most of the world was back to the way it should be, and it turned out the pillar she braced on was actually a person, probably in his late sixties, his dark face framed in the silver of his beard.

They traded looks, he was just as confused as she was, more probably. Sharon held a finger up and motioned for him to keep his silence before slipping away once more into the shadows.

An unlocked door gave a moment’s reprieve, a survey of the immediate interior showing her to be in a sort of access hallway, one where the lights weren’t working too well. She took a knee, and tried to figure out what just happened to her. She thought back, there was the alley people, counting patrols, Crane…

Just at the thought of his name, her world seemed to melt around her. Everything in her head got put on hold and she started her count till some semblance of normalcy returned. This time it was a hundred, or maybe a hundred and ten. This time, the stability to walk didn’t exactly return either, not immediately. The count restarted, and she was back on her feet in sixty, though now she had a nasty throb in her head. Was this an unexpected side effect of Cranes-?

The cycle hit once more, and left her down and out for even longer.

”Okay, no more thinking of that. Not for a while, anyway.”

She drunk walked a few steps before her stride came back in full, and she was on the move again. Crossing streets and back routes to her target, the unfinished high rises near the center of Gotham. Twice she encountered patrols that actually meant business, and one more she observed from afar as they staged outside a house someone must have barricaded themselves in. She waited until they brought the ram out and knocked the door down before crossing behind them.

Suddenly, she very much missed having a team at her back.

Sharon entered the high rise at around noon, winding her way up the stairs at a faster than usual pace. She wasn’t so concerned with checking corners here, the place had plenty of hiding spots for sure, but as the Gotham skyline fell beneath her there was less and less reason for anyone to be up here. To high to jump, too few egress to escape through, and so no criminals of Luthor's laws to chase down.

At the forty second floor, she could recognize the curtains that whipped in the breeze, and a distinct pile of boxes and crates that had been moved into place. Moved by her to serve as a shelter.

She practically raced to the crates, holding her rifle by the rails. A part of her said stop, to slow down, but she chased it out by climbing up over the obstacles set to block the wind and rain. She tore the cover aside and stared down into the hole she had left that girl in nights ago.

The world melted. Her balance left, and she fell against the crates like a ragdoll suddenly gone limp. There, at the bottom of the hole, was the girl, her frail body curled in a frozen ball. Sharon's head pounded, hot tears ran down her face. She turned away from the sight, it was just too much to witness. Around her, the wind wailed through the structure, a banshee's cry that masked her own outcry, the pain of this failure on her exiting through her lips. She had brought this girl, who couldn’t care for herself, up hundreds of feet then abandoned her to die, chasing the chance to get revenge for the last loss she had. How much of a fool could she possibly have been to do something like that? To think that was a reasonable idea?

The inside of her head beat against the walls of her skull. Grinding her palms into her eyes, she cleared the tears out to try and see. Around her the world had grown still, the cry of the wind dropping off to nothing. The throbbing grew worse, and when she tried to stand she lost all balance and slid roughly down the pile, clenching eyes and jaw in pain. When she opened her eyes again, she stared up into the vacant, white eyes of the girl, her jaw distorted, her face gaunt and pale, white as ice. Fear took over, a primal panic that sent her scrambling away, bringing her rifle to bear against the haunting figure. It took almost nothing to find her zero, and she had the apparition’s face between her sights.

Had she been a moment faster, she would have made the worst decision yet. Staring down the scope, she could see the girl's eyes were normal, dark brown that edged on the color of chocolate. She was pale, probably freezing, but alive, her face caught between surprise and fear. Sharon's arms, along with the heavy rifle, fell to her sides as she wept fresh tears, crushed by this new back and forth torture she had, awash with joy the girl she didn’t even have a name for was alive still.

The girl took a few tentative steps forward, illuminated with uncertainty and a touch of fear in Sharon's eyes. Then, she saw probably the most beautiful thing she had ever seen in years. There was a spark of relief in the spectral lines of her emotions, of comfort, of how things would get better. The girl closed the gap, knelt down, and wrapped her arms around the SEAL, pressing the side of her face against Sharon's, her icy skin crashing against the heat radiating out of her from the climb, but all Sharon could feel was her heart, the soft joy the girl had to see her again. Sharon wrapped her arms under hers and traded her physical warmth for that of the girl's heart, kneeling there together in the high rise together.

She didn’t bother to track the time. The sun was almost gone by the time either let go, and then after they did she was too exhausted to travel back down. They reset the ramshackle shelter, or really Sharon did, the girl didn’t exactly have the strength to do much more then draw the rain cover back across. As it turned out though, she hadn’t been idle in Sharon's absence. She revealed two boxes, one of blankets she must have gathered all on her own, and another of food, not in the best state but Sharon wagered both of them had eaten worse. It was small comfort, but felt like gold in her hands. She made certain the girl ate her fill before touching the food, and when they put down, they shared the blankets, banking on the shared warmth to last another night.

In the morning, it would be time to move again, where she didn’t know, but she would decide then. Now, she held a life in her arms, and was content in having saved two.

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