Even in her dreams, Elisa fell. Off of buildings and cliffsides and sometimes nothing at all. Just falling and falling through endless skies, from nothing into nothing, the fact that she fell the only thing tangible to grasp onto. She would wake shaken in her bed, trying to reassure herself that it meant nothing. Just a dream.
She did not like to think about why the sensation had become such a fixture in her life of late. The sight of it, the feel of it was so much a part of her now it had nearly burned itself into the back of her eyelids.
The way the building would just soar away from her, roaring past like a frieght train. That spike of adrenaline that made her stomach jerk. The sharp whistling of the wind tearing claws through her hair.
It made sense, she supposed. She spent so much of her time with people who could fly. Who played and danced in the air. They fought their battles half a mile up at forty miles an hour. What person on two legs could keep up? It made sense, and the life she had with them was certainly worth the risk, and she kept telling herself to get used to it.
Elisa told herself that safety was a small price to pay for a worthwhile life. Most of the time, she felt the truth in that. She trusted Goliath as much as she was able. But she was still certain, as the ground dissapeared and the air caught her, that she was going to die. She was certain. Every single time.
This time, it was simple and stupid. The robot brushed past her, just pushing past, it wasn't even after her...but her heart clenched tight as she realized she was too close to the edge, and there was nothing to grab on to.
A breath of flailing imbalance. Then the robot shot off into the sky, and she fell.
In that instant lightning cracked across the sky and she thought she saw the black arch of a batlike wing against the clouds.
She wanted it to be Goliath. She made herself believe that it was, held the image in her mind.She needed to see him that one last time.
The building swept away from her as she was flung into the air. Nearly flying herself... People didn't know, they didn't understand how close it felt to flying. But then, anyone who'd ever been knocked off a skyscraper before Elisa had landed on the ground, and never told anyone anything again.
A secret she shared with the dead.
She didn't see anyone dive after her, didn't even think to scream in the stupid dumb random shock of it. She heard it anyway. That snap of leather that she'd very quickly come to associate with salvation. He was right there, wrestling with air currents, plummeting through the sky to get to her. Reaching for her.
The look of terror on Goliath's face at that moment was pure and complete as a child's. The utter desperation was blinding in its intensity.Their hands brushed once before catching.
She wondered, seeing the look in his eyes, if she didn't fall in his dreams as well.
When his fingers finally snagged on hers he clamped down on fragile human bones with bruising force and wrenched her close. He abruptly, surprisingly, stole her breath with the paniced strength of his arms.
Elisa looked up with watering eyes past the mad thrashing of her hair to where Goliath's wings extended. Or tried to.
He couldn't spread them out, she realized with a stab of fear. He couldn't lift them out all the way they were going too fast she'd fallen too far this time...
Her inner ear shrieked at her as the word suddenly spun. She turned her face into his chest, clenching her teeth as her memories howled like demons released from their shackles. Pulling at her like a thundering crash of water. Tumbling her down and down and down into the darkness.
They hit something hard and it snapped her head back. Goliath's arms and legs were tight all around her until the world stopped thrashing at them. Protecting her.
It seemed like they'd skidded across something. Dazed, she lifted her head to look around, but it was too dark...
Wait, was that a shovel?
They were in some kind of rooftop shed or-
She pushed herself up, and Goliath's arm fell away limply. Her heart froze in her chest. Still. He was so still. Was he-
She lifted herself off him, scooted up to cup his cheek with one hand.
"Goliath." she called. "Goliath!" She pressed an ear to his chest, shivering under an icy finger of fear. His heart thumped on strongly, uncaring as she slumped in relief. Then Goliath sighed, and she almost laughed out loud in joy to hear it.
Relaxing into the ground under her knees, she kissed the skin over his heart and rested her head on his shoulder a moment, listening to him breathe.
Listening. Was that...
Yes. There it was again. Whirring. Mechanical. One of those robot dog-things must have followed them.
Keeping her breathing steady, she inched a hand inside her jacket. The sound got closer, like it was shuffling around on the other side of the wall. She and Goliath had unfortunately made a rather large hole in that particular wall on their way through it. Her fingers closed around the grip, eased her pistol out of the side holster. Through the fall of her hair she saw red light fill the small shed. She thought about the robots' single, giant red eye, and waited, barely breathing.
She spent a moment wishing she hadn't brought the 9mm. She wasn't exactly sure what she could have brought that could help her, unless she'd gone to Xanatos for one of his science fiction monstrosities. A shotgun, maybe. Miller on days had a shotgun, she'd seen him at the range with it once or twice...
An object filled the hole in the wall but she held off, held off until she saw that red eye.
She whipped the gun up and fired once with no time to aim. She hit something that sparked and the thing ducked back, behind what was left of the wall. Smart, she thought with a sinking sensation. She'd have to...
Elisa turned her head, thinking to look for a way out so she could lead the thing away from Goliath. She found herself facing a flimsy door with a simple obviousness that almost felt like a joke at her expense. She opened it carefully. It looked clear, though she could hear something metallic thrashing around on the other side of the shed. She spotted a satelite dish off to the left and made for it. Once she had cover she made some noise, tossed an empty aluminum can about twenty yards left of her, not quite in the thing's line of sight, if its position was anywhere near where all the noise was coming from.
It sounded broken before she even saw it. The eye was shattered, shooting sparks and spitting furiously. The little rocketter jet-pack thing they all used looked like it had been trashed before she'd shot it, vicious claw marks scoring the metal where the pack had been ripped off.
She sighted carefully. She'd still have to make sure she hit the wiring, not the casing.
Behind her, she heard something land. It landed with a tight, metallic little clack and her heart dropped right down into her stomach. She turned and saw a bright red eye and an undamaged metal claw slashing out to take her head off-
Then, she heard a snap of leather wings.
Goliath barrelled into it with a swooping grace that wasn't quite leaping and wasn't quite gliding. The snarl that came out of him echoed across the rooftop. They hit the ground rolling, Goliath already sending chunks of rended metal flying.
Elisa turned back to the junker. It was moving generally towards the noise, and she didn't want that. She got off two shots into the wiring, but didn't hit anything vital enough to kill it. She thought for half a second, glanced over to where Goliath was peeling back the other robot's metal breastplate like it was a tin of sardines. Recklessly, Elisa put up her gun, jogged over to the blinded dog-thing, and gave it a shove.
She ducked the arm it flailed at her easily and started backing up, stomping her feet. It followed, swatting at her. After a few steps she stopped, not having anywhere left to back up onto. It went to hit her high and she ducked around it swiftly, planting a solid kick on its backside.
Overbalanced, it fell off the edge of the building, claws scraping sparks on the ledge. The crash was impressive-sounding, followed quickly by a bright flash of light and an electric crackling sound. Elisa craned her neck to look, putting her hands flat on the ledge to lean over. She winced. Somebody who owned a cadillac was going to be pissed...
She felt Goliath come up behind her, rather than heard him. He could be eerily quiet when he wanted to be. He rested his left hand on the ledge beside hers, and then his right hand beside her right, framing her in his arms. He leaned over casually. He was tall enough, he could look over her head down at the ashes of the robot. She felt the solid warmth of him like a shield at her back and started to relax.
"Good work." He commented, as if it was casual coincidense that he'd picked that particular spot to lean over and look. It was the right attitude to take with her, and she smiled faintly, wondering just when he'd gotten to know her so well.
"Yeah, well, you too." She said with a smile in her voice. Elisa moved her hands out a little until their fingers were touching. She heard him inhale sharply, surprised. After a moment she felt his thumbs brushing over the backs of her hands. Not grabbing, just touching.
"Are you all right?" His tone of voice was very different. Soft.
let slip half a chuckle, nervously.
"Yeah. You?"She popped off, but he was getting close. He stepped up behind her until they were touching, one long line of heat against her jacket.
"Yes." His voice went deep, rumbling in his chest. She could feel the vibration right through her back. For a moment she was afraid-afraid he would push, he would push her and ruin it-
But he just sood there, close enough that he was nearly holding her, but going no further. She leaned back against him in sudden appreciation and he sighed. It was such a completely human sound that she found herself grinning in amusement. A part of her was gibbering in terror at how good he was getting at going around the walls she put up. The rest of her was doing somersaults that he cared enough to keep trying.
Then a voice called out, and they both jumped.
"Goliath! Elisa!" Broadway was grinning from ear to ear as he landed. Elisa flashed Goliath a smile and ducked under his arm to escape, giving it a quick, affectionate squeeze as she went by.