Light in the Tunnel

July 03, 2018:

Zatanna Zatara checks on Tim Drake in the aftermath of the Hell's Kitchen disaster, and gives him some much needed good news about a months-long problem.

Titans Tower, New York

A giant T in the middle of a man-made island, because Tim is ridiculously rich.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Chas Chandler, John Constantine, Cyborg, Raven, Trigon, Spider-man

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

In the short term, it wound up being useful that much of the available lab and workshop space in the Tower wasn't spoken for. The cleanup of the destroyed forensics lab wasn't complete yet - though the hole in the external wall had been repaired, since various people seemed inclined to treat it as an invitation - which made it easier and quicker, if not actually cheaper, to set up another one in an as-yet unused bit of workspace.

Naturally, that's where Red Robin is right now.

A sign on the door says DANGEROUS MATERIALS - DO NOT ENTER - ESPECIALLY YOU IMPULSE though all things considered it's probably a futile effort. In the bare handful of days since the destruction in Hell's Kitchen, the vigilante has hardly left the lab: He worked himself to near collapsing exhaustion during the night of the incident, as surely they all did, but after that it's been the lab. Investigation.

Inside the lab, a space has been cleared out and a tarp laid down, and the disassembled parts of the bomb retrieved from PS 35 while nobody was paying close attention are arrayed on it. They've been catalogued, studied, every detail noted and added to the profile the Red Knight hopes will lead them to the bomb's creator. In the air, a blue-light hologram of the original device floats, along with a similarly generated floorplan of the school. Points have been marked: The locations of the thermite charges that had been intended for use as an accelerant.

As usual, he's thorough. But he misses some things… At the workstation, by the computer, there sits an untouched (now stale) sandwich, a likewise neglected salad, and a bottle of tepid water with maybe two sips gone.

Instead, he turns the model around with his hands, studying it. Maybe hoping for some missed detail to jump out at him.

—-

When Zatanna Zatara arrives in the improvised space, it is largely a silent affair. Teleportation is one of the tricks that she mastered early and the last two years have seen her refining the art. A door is 'drawn' somewhere behind her, the rectangular outline glowing a visible white-blue, before it manifests in reality as a single wooden archway. It swings inward soon after, revealing New York's relatively quiet streetscape beyond - the Hell's Kitchen disaster has pulled the city's usual foot traffic off its avenues and thoroughfares. Behind her, it looks like a ghost town.

She closes the door, carrying an eggcrate with two strong coffees. Much like Red Robin, she has been working with the rest of the Titans on rescue and relief duty, though she has largely been relegated as a healer - and given how her magic works, the worst cases have been given to her, to see if she can pull people from the brink. She has attempted to scrub the soot, grime and blood off her hands, but some of these traces remain. And what is probably expected, her eyes are puffy and red, indicative of a fresh wave of tears. The death toll has been tremendous, there were people that she couldn't save, even with her magic. She has seen more people collected in body bags in the last few hours than she has in the last few years.

There is some comfort, at least, knowing that the souls she couldn't save are presently being taken care of by John, guided safely into the afterlife. But it is difficult when the violence is so nonsensical.

She sets the eggcrate with the coffees down, and wordlessly approaches the Red Knight's back. Without prompting, and presently not saying anything, she waits until he's set down the model before she wraps her arms around his seated form, smelling of smoke, blood and ozone from her magic. She squeezes him into a hug, her face pressed into his cowl and closes her eyes.

She has lost track of how many times she had lost her composure while out in the front, helping first responders and other heroes pick up the pieces of what was once Hell's Kitchen, as always a creature determined to keep an open heart no matter how devastating it is for her.

"You need to eat," she tells him, voice hoarse and thick with smoke and exhaustion. "Or if not food, at least some water."

—-

The change is subtle. Most people would miss it, with their focus elsewhere - to say nothing of the bone-deep mental and physical exhaustion. It isn't as hard as he pushed himself last year, at least, but even microsleep and meditative techniques can only get you so far. Still, the faint shift in air pressure in the room doesn't escape his notice, more subtle than the effects the witch has used in the past. The portal smaller, quieter.

His immediate expectation is, of course, chiding. Zatanna had never approved of the way he ran himself ragged, the way he used himself up. Understood it, maybe. Tolerated it, perhaps. But never approved of it.

Instead, as he lets go of the hologram, ready to offer up some defense of his indefensible negligence of his own health and sanity, he's caught offguard by her arms curling around him, her face pressed into the back of his head. The scent of smoke and sweat clings to his dark hair, mingled with other things - the sharp metallic stink of explosives, of thermite and cordite and who knows what other compounds. The hug makes his eyes widen behind the white lenses of his domino mask, makes his heart lurch with shame and a dozen other things all tangled together in a complicated mess. He can hear it in her voice, when she does get around to chiding him, hear it under her exhaustion, hear it under the temporary damage the smoke and ash have done to her throat. It's not her worry over him that stills his intended defense.

It's his worry about her.

"Okay," he says, quietly, one lightly gauntleted hand lifting to press over Zatanna's bare one, where blood and dirt have smeared over her pale skin, worked in until it seems like the stains might never wash away.

"You don't have to go back out there," Red Robin adds, just as quietly. He doesn't ask silly questions like if she's okay, because he knows that she isn't. "Even you can only take so much, Zee."

—-

You don't have to go back out there.

"Yeah, I do," Zatanna tells him quietly. "It's the job, right? Besides…Chas is still out there, and I promised John I'll try to keep him from running into collapsing buildings." Her paramour's best friend might not be a super-genius, or super-powered, but he is special, though she hasn't divulged any of those details to anyone. It might be destined to be an ace in the hole later, in the event of another disaster.

Giving Tim a squeeze, she slowly draws away, moving towards the eggcrate and pulling out the coffee cups that she has brought. With her back to him, he at least won't be able to see his face, the proud line of her shoulders sagging, as if beset by a heavy, invisible weight.

"It'll pass, eventually," she says, clearing her throat and injecting her more characteristic good humor into her tone. "I wanted to see how the investigation was going, I figured Cyborg's already combing through hours and hours of video footage around the city just to see if we can figure out how all of this started. What about everyone else? Are they doing alright? I know nobody's been injured, but…" They could be working around the clock, too.

Finally, she turns to him, handing him a fresh cup of coffee and cradling her own between both her hands. Ice blue eyes wander down to the plastic top, and then to the hologram he is fiddling with. "Is that…?"

—-

The response she gives could've come from his own mouth. Given the conversations they've had over the year and change since she discovered who he really was, it's practically a guarantee that they have.

Some people might find that sort of thing flattering, or be proud that they'd had such a strong influence on someone else. Red Robin feels a chill trickle down his spine, like slowly running water. The last time somebody he'd cared about had started acting like him, he'd been left thinking she was dead for years.

When the witch draws away, then, the detective releases her hand only reluctantly, only at the last. He turns, frowning faintly, watching her back with those featureless white lenses: His Titans suit might not blunt his humanity as thoroughly as the full cape and cowl he wears in Gotham, but there's still something unsettling about that gaze. The unreadability of it.

His frown deepens, seeing that weight bear down on her, and he rubs at his forehead with the knuckle of his thumb, trying to clear some of the tightness there so he can think. About people, not bombs.

He half starts to reach for her, hoping to offer up some kind of comfort beyond his previous assertion that she didn't have to keep doing what she'd been doing; hesitation, uncharacteristic of the focused, confident Red Robin, stills his hand halfway to her back, to her shoulder. His fingers twitch at empty air, curling in… And drawing back as she starts to turn towards him again with the coffee, so that he can move smoothly to take the offered drink.

"Everyone's been working. I've been trying to keep them from overworking themselves, but it's hard to hold moral authority there when I'm not doing the same. Spider-Man's taking it hard."

So is he, of course. All those people dead. If he'd been smarter, if he'd been faster, gotten the bomb in PS 35 dealt with sooner, they could've gotten a warning out earlier. Could've gotten Bart out there. Someone. Done something to at least reduce the damage, the terrible loss of life.

"It's a model of the bomb. The pieces are over there," he gestures rather nonchalantly towards the currently harmless, disassembled weapon of mass destruction. "Professional work. This isn't terrorists throwing pipe bombs stuff, it's… Demolitions. The initial damage caused by the explosive devices would've been compounded, accelerated by thermite charges placed throughout the building. Someone wanted these buildings gone. Unsalvageable. I need to find out if there were any other bomb threats called in…"

—-

Spider-man's taking it hard.

"Yeah," Zatanna says quietly, once relieved of the second cup of coffee. Her lowered gaze lifts, smiling ruefully at her best friend. "The two of you are the same that way. When something bad happens and you're involved, the two of you always think that if you've been smarter, or faster, or stronger, you would have been able to do more. I think the two of you did - your section's one of the only ones that didn't go up. There's too few of those."

She takes a quiet sip of her coffee, exhaling quietly. Before she knows it, she's looking for a place to sit, to ease her tired bones in something resembling repose. It is difficult, but the effects are profound the moment she feels something soft against her aching body. She practically sinks into the chair.

His revelations about the bomb has her looking up at him, startled. "What do you mean?" she wonders. "As in….military? Someone trained did this?" There are plenty of mercenaries out there, having done tours in some of the most war-torn places on the planet. "Wouldn't that mean it'd have to be someone with a lot of money? I mean, I figured that kind of work wouldn't be cheap…right?"

She's no detective. She isn't like Tim, or Jessica, but it's the aspect of the mundane portions of the investigation that jumps out at her, now that he has brought it up.

—-

There is, fortunately, a second chair right there. The office chairs aren't as comfortable as the ones in the Nest, but they do the job well enough.

Not so comfortable that someone might fall asleep in them either, which is another important concern.

"One building, one school. About one hundred and eighty students… Plus their parents, plus police, assorted lookie-lous who didn't leave in time to get caught up in a blast somewhere else. Call it two hundred and fifty. It's not nothing, Zee, I know that." It is, perhaps, part of the terrible price of the path he started walking as a young teenager, in the shadow of the Bat. Every life saved is a success to be celebrated, yes… But every life lost is a grievous failure. Neither cancels out the other.

"Don't jump to conclusions," is the mild warning from the young man when she suggests the involvement of someone - more likely multiple someones - with military training. "It's definitely a possibility, but without more evidence it's dangerous to get too attached to one theory… There's lots of ways to get training in demolitions. But you're right, whoever's behind this had significant resources at their disposal. The manpower to create and set up all those bombs without anyone knowing about it. The materials to make all those devices. There were a couple of mercenaries at the school but they seemed… Incidental. I think one of them was private security for one of the students' family, and the other one was trying to find the bomb and evacuate the school."

He sighs faintly, leaning back in his chair and taking a swig of coffee, heedless of the heat or the strength of it. But, well, Zatanna's had his coffee before, which might also be the fuel the Redbird runs on.

"Need to trace the materials involved, maybe something will come up. Check for unusual late-night deliveries around Hell's Kitchen, maybe. No operation of this scale happens without leaving some kind of a trace, and when I find it I'll follow it back to whoever's responsible, and they'll spend the rest of their life drinking prison food through a straw."

She'd hear it there, and knowing him she'd know it - what's keeping Red Robin up and focused isn't the fascination of a thorny problem. He's angry. Furious.

—-

Sadly, in the age of miracles, that doesn't exactly narrow down the list of suspects. This is why she leaves such matters to the World's Third Best Detective. Or had he surpassed Dick already? If nothing else, she wouldn't be surprised.

"That could mean almost anyone at this point," Zatanna acknowledges with a sigh. "If I can help with anything, let me know, okay?" There's a glance at the bomb. "Too bad we don't have a precognitive on call, huh? Someone who can just touch the bomb and know who the last few people who handled it were? I suppose it wouldn't be that easy, after all."

There's another gulp of her coffee, her head lifting again when she hears that carefully subsumed fury in his tone of voice. It wasn't like him to threaten that kind of violence on someone else, but here, the anger is justified. The death toll was significant, body parts and humans rendered faceless, embedded in brick and blood painting concrete. In the blink of an eye, Hell's Kitchen was reduced to a single, gory abstract - a grisly masterpiece for some well-connected someone to admire, or find some semblance of gain from it. The idea sparks her own temper, and a sick-sour sensation at the pit of her stomach.

"You'll get him," she says in the end. "I know you. You won't stop. Just make sure you take others with you, okay? You brought all this together for a reason."

It's a gentle reminder, if nothing else. But she is tired, too, and she isn't as forceful about it as she usually is.

After a moment, she continues. "I wanted to check on you," she tells him honestly. "And also so I could update you while we're taking a break. It's not much of one, but…" She sighs, raking her fingers through her hair in a frustrated fashion. "First, it's about Raven. If you intend to keep her around and if you're serious about giving her some safe harbor with the Titans. I asked John if he knows anything about her father, Trigon. He was a little cagey about it but apparently this is something he does." She makes a face. "Sires children. So there may be other people out there like her."

—-

The anger is, of course, carefully controlled. Kept underneath those still waters, deep and dark. Anger won't help him work, won't help him piece together the puzzle in front of him if it's left to rage like it wants to… Instead, it serves as fuel, as incitement.

He didn't used to be so angry, at least he doesn't think so. Was it that bloody night in his family home that did it? That changed the removed ire at the nebulous concept of injustice into something more real, more immediate, more alive? The point at which he had been simply pushed too far?

There are a lot of points that could contribute to that, if he looked back on his life with investigative calculation. Frank self-assessment was important in this business, after all, when there were so many lines to cross so very easily.

"Psychometry would be pretty useful," he agrees, not even debating the possibility that it might exist. Too convenient to just fall into their laps, really, but he could always check: Who knows what sort of abilities Nico and Raven had that Zatanna didn't, sorceresses though they might all be? "But until one of us turns out to be a psychic, we'll just have to keep doing this the old-fashioned way."

But…

Zatanna's assurance that he'll get to the bottom of this, that he won't stop, comes with a warning of its own. A reminder, really, that he didn't need to work it by himself. That if it came down to catching the person or persons responsible, he shouldn't do it solo. It draws a rueful grin out of the vigilante, and he slowly reaches for his mostly stale sandwich. It's not like it would be the worst thing he's ever eaten.

It becomes clear quickly that Zatanna has more to say, and that she doesn't like saying it. It isn't surprising, then, that the topic turns out to be the Daughter of Darkness: Even those donuts from Little Italy couldn't completely smooth over the disagreement there… One which, admittedly, he can't say Zatanna is entirely wrong about.

"He suggested killing her instead," the detective surmises without even turning his head to look at the witch, pensively chewing on a bite of roast beef sandwich. It's not a question, it's not even particularly judgmental in its delivery, but still, you know. It's there. "We'll need to find out if there are any others like her out there, then. I don't really feel like letting some badass super demon take over the world."

—-

He suggested killing her instead.

"Of course he did," Zatanna tells Red Robin quietly. "John and Daddy may not get along these days, but he still learned from him and both would be in agreement if the question were posed. The two of them have made particularly difficult decisions and while they're quiet about it, those decisions have saved this world more than once." Her expression softens. "With that said, I don't think we should even consider the option without exhausting all others. It isn't as if I'm not without my ability to invent a solution to a problem, I just need to do a little bit of research….and know more about Raven, really. That would be key. Maybe she knows something about her other brothers and sisters also, and whether they pose the same threat she does."

Go to the source. "Though considering her nature, we'll have to remember to take what she says with a grain of salt."

She continues drinking her coffee - she is going to need it. Watching Tim's profile from where she sits, she digs out her phone and reaches into it - the magical-digital 'bag of holding' application that she developed has seen plenty of use over the last two years. Here, she produces one of Chas' emergency sandwiches and moves over so she could offer it to him. "It's vegetarian, but it's good," she says. "Chickpea patty, harissa dressing, greens. Take it…" Lips tilt up in a rueful smile. "That sandwich is making me sad."

She leans against the space next to him, taking another solid gulp of her coffee, now that it's cool - one of those sugared concoctions that she loves, the scent of caramel and chocolate in the air. "The next bit is about Emily Montrose," she tells him. "I…well, before I get into it, I have to tell you a story first."

And she does.

It starts with meeting a not-quite-dead, not-quite-alive Aleister Crowley in Loch Ness, which propelled her to seek out the Blood of Isis in the first place, the crimson source of some of Zatanna's more disconcerting changes within the last few months. He knows the vague shape of what she had to go through in order to get it, a harrowing trial that was as strange as it was deeply, intensely personal. He knows he is part of it, somehow, because she tends to be elusive whenever she brings it up, unable to meet him in the eyes when she even hints at that journey. But then…

"Resurrecting the dead tends to be a tricky prospect," she tells him. "I think we talked about this before. The person who comes back isn't usually the same, because either the soul is damaged or the body is at the time of death, or a little after. But with Emily's body perfectly preserved, and her soul residing in…well…you. We can bring her back and obtain some answers. I can use the Blood of Isis to fill the empty shell she left behind - it's better than letting Ally have it."

—-

"We're not considering that option at all," is the flat response from Red Robin. "If Raven's a danger we find a way to make her not a danger that doesn't involve killing her. Which is also why we're not kicking her out," the vigilante adds. "If she's that much of a potential threat, better we're able to keep an eye on her. At least then if we're getting played we get stabbed in the front instead of not knowing when we're about to get stabbed from the shadows."

It's a possibility that has to be considered. Really, it's a possibility that has to be considered with each unknown individual they let into the team: Who knows what Nico, or Iso, or even Kamala are hiding from the rest of them? Maybe not that they're the secret children of a being of unspeakable evil and mind-boggling power that wants to conquer the multiverse, but hey there's degrees of bad.

When he's offered the sandwich, though, the masked young man's expression turns a bit dubious. It's not like it would be the first vegetarian meal he's ever eaten in his life - some of the Batman Diet veers distinctly into the 'rabbit food' territory - but also it was being kept in magical suspended animation or something. Who knows what that does to food?

Relucantly, though, he does take it.

As usual, there's no lack of serious subjects to be discussed, and also as usual Red Robin is good at shutting up and listening when it's time to shut up and listen. What he gets is at least a partial answer to the questions he hadn't been entirely able to ask months ago, when Zatanna had changed. The why, at least, of the trial she'd undergone, that thing so intimately personal she couldn't explain it to anyone else. He knew something of the relic he'd swallowed in that astral space they'd ventured to, the thing that had allowed him to be a life raft for the soul of Emily Montrose. As always, though, he doesn't press. It could be cold calculation, you know: He's trained at interrogation, at knowing there are times to push for information and times to let it come out on its own. It could be, but it could also simply be his care and respect for the Princess of Prestidigitation. Could be both.

He can be that sort of a guy, after all.

The thing is, what she gets around to circles back to that conversation they'd had on his balcony overlooking New York. She'd been strange and aloof, he'd still been trying to cope with the very peculiar sensation of another person in his ontological space. She'd been sure that Emily Montrose was dead, that her end had just been deferred a little while. He'd been insistent otherwise, as of course he would be.

So what happens here is…

"We can save her," Red Robin says, his face lighting up so clearly that for a moment that mask covering his eyes doesn't matter. "Zee, that's amazing. We can really save her." It's pure luck, a one-time deal. It doesn't erase all the loss of life, whether in Hell's Kitchen or caused by the Brujeria or the Cult of the Cold Flame or the twelve young women who fit the same profile as Zatanna Zatara who were sacrificed to Mammon a year and a half ago. Nothing wipes that out. But this… "This one, the bad guys don't get."

—-

She doesn't argue it. The magician doesn't want to kill anyone, or even contemplate the possibility of sacrificing one life for the salvation of everything that exists. Besides, didn't she tell John when she brought it up? Red doesn't kill.

His dubious expression towards her sandwich, however, does earn him a frown. "It's better than stale meat," she tells him, pushing it into his hand. "Plus it's a Chas-wich. He can make hay taste delicious."

There's something to be said about what a bit of light can do after hours spent in a dark tunnel, however. That is what she is reminded of, seeing Red Robin's face light up that way when she finally gets to the part about resurrecting Emily Montrose. Zatanna smiles ruefully, rubbing the back of her neck. "John found a mention of the tyet in an old book," she tells him. "How it was once used to resurrect a woman back in ancient Egypt and who subsequently because Isis' avatar on Earth. Not sure if that's what's going to happen to Emily, I mean, the ritual we're going to use is completely different from what was probably used back then. But we have all the components, Tim. And they're all intact, we just need to put her back together again."

She hesitates for a moment, and why wouldn't she, when he looks so happy to hear some good news? "The Brujeria left her intact for a reason, and…remember how we found her? No ordinary soul can just do that," she tells him. "We're going to have to assume that there were plans for her, so even when we bring her back, we'd have to keep an eye on her. But she'll be alive. She'll probably still be a target, but she'll be back in her own body, and out of yours."

It's a regrettably short digression from the toils that they have to look forward to in the next few hours. Taking another gulp of her coffee and rubbing her eyes, she takes a few steps away from the table. "Anyway I thought…while we were both here, I ought to tell you, didn't seem right to sit on it and wait. I should probably go back out there and make sure Chas is okay, and…see if there's any other wounded that need healing."

—-

There are fuzzy situations, you know. The Rule is unbending but it's also specific, otherwise they'd have to lead some kind of aloof Jainist existence to follow it: They don't kill people. Monsters, true monsters that aren't merely some horribly mutanted person like Killer Croc, are rather less protected, and Red Robin certainly showed a willingness to ply lethal violence against the summoned demons he'd run into while trying to follow the breadcrumbs of Wong's reading, or the hellhounds during the rescue mission that followed… Assuming such things can 'die' in the sense they'd think of it, anyway.

The difference with Raven, in his mind, is that she's still a person. The conversation keeps coming back to her heritage, but whenever it's brought up they talk about her demonic father… But her heritage also makes her human.

It doesn't take much chivvying to get Red Robin to eat the sandwich, because Zatanna is right and because he's pretty hungry. His poor stale roast beef sandwich had been made in an honest attempt to take care of himself, but of course he'd forgotten it once he'd delved back into the work. Almost, he forgets about the new sandwich with the revelations about Emily Montrose's situation, and the solution that had presented itself seemingly out of pure good fortune. But ah, there's caveats, right?

Caveats she might hesitate to share with him, but caveats none the less.

"Yeah, I figured," the vigilante replies when Zatanna warns him. "Especially the exsanguinated body, I had a theory they were using it to store something. But even if they've got plans for her, she'll have a better shot than she did before." Although that might be unfounded optimism on his part. "What about you, though?" the Red Knight wonders after a moment's thought. "Giving up the Blood of Isis… It's going to be a big deal for you, isn't it?"

That she's heading right back out there makes him worry. His first impulse is to go with her, for all that he still has a mountain of work to do. But that's not good leadership, is it? Good leadership is knowing when to delegate.

"Take somebody with you," he says instead, a lopsided grin hiding his concern. "For backup, just in case. Maybe Wonder Girl, that way when you work yourself to exhaustion you've got somebody who can fly you and Chas to safety."

—-

What about you, thought?

Zatanna pauses, glancing down at herself and falls quiet for several minutes. He'd see her wrestle with herself, plain in those ice-blue eyes, trying to determine the best way to explain it. When she finally does, her voice is quiet: "When I finally reached it and the voice told me to drink, I told it that I wasn't doing it to obtain more power. I was doing it because I was led to believe it would save Emily." After a pause, she laughs. "Turns out I was right, and if I have to give it up to save her…it just means I did right by going through what I did to get it, right? The Blood was always meant for her, Tim. Meant to pull her out of whatever hell the Brujeria put her in and obtain answers about their master plan in the long run."

There's a smile and shoulders lift in a shrug. "The journey was the important part, for me."

He tells her to take someone with her, and she nods. "I'll call her," she says, reaching out to rest light fingertips on his cheek. "Don't worry, it's just healing duty, right?"

She slips away so she can draw a door in dead space again. "Keep me updated on your end, okay?" she says, looking over her shoulder. "I'll check in again in a few hours."

And with that, she steps through the portal she makes.

—-

Again, he doesn't push when she falls quiet. Instead, he finishes off the sandwich and the coffee, letting Zatanna figure out how to explain as best she can, coming again closer to telling him about the thing she could not before.

When she does, though, and she smiles, he returns the expression with one of his own. They'd talked about destiny before, about fate. He wasn't sure he believed it still, but it was… Suspiciously fortunate that Zatanna would get the key to helping Emily Montrose in such a circuitous way. And soon, the two of them would be without things they'd been carrying inside themselves for months. It would be strange for both of them, probably.

But if she's okay, if Zatanna says that it was the journey that really mattered for her, what can he do except believe her?

Despite everything, the witch's fingertips are cool against his cheek, and it's curiously soothing. The simple comfort of human contact, maybe, much like the hug she'd given him earlier was for her.

Don't worry, it's just healing duty, right?

"Now's when the predators come out, Zee," Red Robin says. The voice of experience. The voice of someone born and raised in Gotham. "Hell's Kitchen is a wounded beast, its blood is in the air. Everyone in it is shocked and scared, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Someone will try to take advantage, maybe lots of someones. No… Right now, that's the most dangerous place in New York. Take backup. I'll keep you updated."

He watches as she goes, vanishing through her portal, before settling back on his chair, rubbing his gauntleted palms over his face. He doesn't give himself long, though.

There's work to be done.

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