She knew her mom worried about her sometimes, a lot of times, it was needless. Her entire life was about the hunt, the skills, the speed, the weapons. She had taken on all the monsters the other kids in elementary school had nightmares about. In Junior High she had boyfriends and target practice, in high school she switched cheerleading for several forms of martial arts. Made her less popular, but what did it matter when you could drop kick the skinny girls that were picking on you. Hell, what did it matter if you could drop kick their quarterback boyfriends?
Her mom wanted more for her, normality but it was unrealistic and Ashley didn't want anything that mundane. She wanted this life. Wanted this.
Wanted to be hunkered down behind a dumpster waiting for the signal from her mom, or for the abnormal to pass by her first. It was the adrenaline that got her, the fear, racing through her, knowing that coming down this alley would be a twisted form of a man, capable of ripping her limb from limb.
Will had collared her once, on the upper levels, far from her mom's ears to ask her if what she did turned her on. He'd asked her with a red face, stuttered words and she'd laughed and denied it.
It wasn't far off the mark.
It wasn't cause and effect, it was more keeping the high and the adrenaline going after the capture or kill. Sex was just the best way to do that, to capture the feelings all over again when there were no more monsters to kill.
She'd told her mom that once, a couple of years ago, when they were closer, before her father had torn their relationship apart a bit too much for her liking. Helen Magnus had simply smiled and told her to be careful. On both counts, the sex and the killing. Will needn't have been so careful about keeping his questions from her. She supposed he was worried about being in her radar when she was after sex and not abnormals, it was a possibility, sometimes she wasn't that picky but it gave her the clue that maybe he didn't want to be in her radar. Not with her mom around. In another life maybe.
She caught a glimpse of a shadow at the far end of the alley and looked over to her mom who was flat back against the wall of the opposite building, hidden by the corner. Will was further down, in the protection of both of them, and the thing they had come looking for was coming back to the little home he'd set up in the very dumpster Ashley was hiding behind. He'd attacked four of the refuse collectors that had come to empty the dumpster and nine of the people living in the buildings that used it. Most had lived, all had lost limbs, ripped clean from their bodies. The violence fascinated Ashley, the strength fascinated her mom. She wasn't sure what got Will off about all this.
Maybe she needed to ask him a few questions.
"Lets do this," she muttered to herself, as the shadow came closer, lifting her gun up a little higher. Her mom was waving her down, telling her to stop, stay, not yet but she ignored her. The caution was needless, it so often was and she pounced before the abnormal did, three bullets to the chest before the thing could even react to her presence.
"See mom, no prob-"
Her sentence was cut off by the abnormal grabbing her arms from behind and pulling, pulling. She screamed when she felt her shoulders dislocate, but she didn't pass out, she stayed conscious through the pain as her arms were pulled from from body, as the abnormal tried to rip her arms from her torso. She stayed conscious as her mother put a bullet into it's head and fell back, dropping Ashley to the ground.
Okay, so maybe her mom was right, she was confident, too confident, cocky, it was just, bullets hurt her and she was strong, she sometimes wondered if she was an abnormal too, but bullets still stopped her, stopped so much. She needed to put less stock into weapons and more into her own abilities, her own strength she thought, letting a few tears fall. Ligaments were torn, she could feel then, muscles and bones were out of place, her mom had tutored her in biology. She knew in high school she was never going to college, never going to get A's but in biology she kicked ass because she liked to know where to hurt people, the damage that could be caused to the human body, as much as she liked to know how to cause that damage.
Sometimes she thought she was abnormal for entirely different reasons, just because she had thoughts like that.
She wasn't sure her arms were ever going to be put back in their right place, she could remember if that was possible or not, couldn't remember much from high school biology, not with the pain racing though her body instead of adrenaline. At least she could tell Will that the pain of what she did didn't turn her on. There was nothing hot about wanting to scream down the alley.
Her mom would fix her up, always did. No need to worry. No need for her mom to be calling out her name in that panicked voice, like she did the first time she'd fallen off her bike, when she was seven. Or the first time she'd fallen from her motorbike when she was seventeen. Or the last time she'd fallen from her motorbike if she thought about it.
"I'm okay." Lying was needless too, but she needed to say it, for one of them to believe it. "Just get me the fuck out of this alley." She could only curse at times like this, during the more desperate times, the more severe injuries and Ashley decided this counted, took advantage of it. By her mom's lack of reaction to the word, Helen had decided this was one of those times too. Which didn't make her feel much better. Which made her cry.
"You could have lost your arms."
She opened her eyes and realised she was in the little infirmary, her mom sitting by her side, an old book in her hands. She didn't remember passing out or anything between almost having her arms ripped off and waking up back at the mansion. She felt better though, morphine, the familiar calm and stillness, the lack of excruciating pain making her take a breath and then smile.
"'Tis but a scratch," she said. Helen laughed at the reference to Monty Python and any further conversation was needless.
She needed to be more careful, less cocky. She probably wouldn't do either until she did lose something more than a few pints of blood or a few hours passed out from pain.