Flying Lessons

Summary:
August 2nd, 2014: Falcon takes Sara out for her first instructional flight. Along the way, they run into Jericho, who has yet more injuries for Sam to treat. At least he's keeping his medical skills sharp.

Midtown Manhattan

Situated between 14th and 59th Streets, Midtown Manhattan is *the* tourist destination in New York City. It is also the largest central business district in America. Most of the tallest skyscrapers in the city can be found here, from the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings to Stark Tower and the Baxter Building. It's also home to Times Square, Broadway, and Fifth Avenue.

In the day, the traffic is non-stop. In the evening, bright neon lights light up the street such that it looks as if the sun simply doesn't set on the city. But, then, there's a reason New York is called The City that Never Sleeps. This, right here, is it.


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:


Standing on the edge of a rooftop, Falcon secures his goggles, smiles at his new flying student, and says, "Okay, we're starting up high to keep things fairly easy. We're going to dive off the edge, wings back. About halfway down the building, you'll want to bend your body backward, spread your wings a bit, and tilt the edges downward. That will pull you out of the dive; make sure to keep going until you're pretty much leveled off. You're going to be going really fast, which at first seems scary, but with wings, the faster you're going, the more control you have." He gives her a reassuring smile and touches on a few more points: "Remember what we discussed: Bank to turn, down for speed, up for slow. And if you get freaked, start screaming. I'll be right behind you, ready with the rescue." He extends an arm toward the city below. "After you!"

-

Sara brought her own equipment. Though it didn't look like it at first, when it was time for the lesson, suddenly she was armored in strange, metallic, woven-looking armor in gold and silver, set with cabochons of blue and red. Markedly, it's lacking wings at the moment. Which probably explains why she looks a little bit ill as she peers down over the side of the building. "Uh huh," she says. "Wings spread, edges down. Sure." She looks back to Sam, taking a deep breath. "Don't tell Steve."

And then? She jumps.

-

Grinning like a madman, Sam simply leans back and tips off the edge a couple of seconds after Sara makes her leap. He doesn't even extend his red-tinted metal wings until he's already falling like the proverbial penny dropped off the Empire State Building. He keeps them mostly folded back, even then: at terminal velocity, very small adjustments with very little extension will give you a surprising amount of maneuvering control, and any moves too broad will cause you to overcorrect.

Of course, he went over all that with Sara earlier. At the moment, he's just watching to see how well his words sunk in, and how well she handles the stress of the dive. He's also taking a moment to look over her unusual flying equipment — it certainly wasn't what he expected to see, what with the whole 'no wings' thing. If they don't appear soon, he may have to lasso her with his grapple and abort the lesson before it's really even begun.

-

When Sara jumps, tendrils start to shoot out from her armor, reaching for the building the way vines grow toward the light. That's the easy way. That's what she's almost always done in this sort of situation. And it takes an application of will to get them to do…something else. She's much further down the building than she'd like to be before she sees the results of her efforts, the tendrils suddenly snapping into the framework of veined, draconic wings suddenly spanned by an iridescent material. Just in time for her to overcorrect and shoot directly up at a neck-wrenching speed.

-

"Okay…that works," Sam mutters, his words lost on the wind. He executes a similar, but smoother maneuver, swooping lower than Sara but gaining the altitude back on the tail. This places him behind her again, but a little more distant than he would like, so he pours on a bit of thrust to catch up. "Still okay?" he asks her, engaging the earpiece radios they're both wearing. Ah, military surplus stores. "I'm right behind you, following your lead."

-

"I have no idea!" Sara answers Sam's question on her status. And that sounds like an accurate assessment, given the way she whips up and down through the air at every cross street, as soon as the wind changes or the temperature rises. At least she's so far avoided bumping into any buildings. So far. "This didn't really come with a manual!" There's no real thrust behind her flight. They're wings, plain and simple. And Sara? Well, she doesn't know a whole lot about the mechanics of flight. Or even how to tell the wings to flap. There's a decidedly undignified yelp as a fall, overcorrection, and poor tension in her body cause a sort of spinning flip that brushes by a satellite dish on an apartment balcony.

-

And while with silent lifting mind I've trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space, reached out and- "What the hell?"

Jericho had the worst good night you could possibly ever hope to have, and had just come up here to the rooftops of midtown to look get away from everything. And drink a bit of vodka because at least that helps dull the pain. Now he's feeling relatively human, and a bit reflective. Poetic even. Well he had been until he saw… that. Is that…? His traces flush amber, his eyes going the same as he stares with digitally enhanced sight. Oh it is…

Grinning Jericho sprouts feathered wings made of bright, translucent amber light and he hurls himself into the air, diving down on Sara and Sam from a slightly greater height.

-

"Small moves. Keep it steady. Let the wings do the work — you're just guidance," Falcon says calmly. He has instructed dozens of candidates on the Exo-7, so a bit of wobbling like that doesn't worry him too badly. The near miss with the dish, however, does motivate him to intervene. He needs to get Sara a bit higher, where her way will be clear and the intermittent wind shear from cross streets won't knock her around.

He indulges a bit more thrust, putting himself even with his student and just a bit above. "Wings at four and eight, arms relaxed," he tells her, giving angles based on the clock face. "I'm gonna grab you between the pinions and pull us both up a little higher." He dips a few more feet to do just that.

-

"Yeah, sure. I'll totally hold still for that and not panic. Totally." Sara wobbles still, but despite her inexperience, the Witchblade isn't giving up on her just yet. There's something to be said for someone who's willing to blindly jump off a building and trust they'll have the will to keep from hitting the ground. It takes a moment, but she manages to get steady enough for Sam's help. "I suddenly have way more respect for pilots."

-

There's a shadow that isn't an aircraft or a cloud as Jericho falls in above Sam and to his left. Okay. Flying lessons? Is that what it is? He's seen Sara do something like this only once before, but it was more gliding than flying and she'd mentioned after the fact that she didn't know it could do that. Or couldn't control it. Or something. In any case, maybe not a good idea to startle them. Instead he just brings his right hand up and lets out a sharp whistle.

"Hey? Air's much nicer up here! Just stay away from the news choppers watching the traffic!"

-

"Don't worry, we got this," Falcon reassures Sara, his smile audible over the voice connection even if she can't see his face. "'That Others May Not Faceplant Into The Sidewalk' is basically the pararescue motto." He gradually and gently tugs her upward to level off next to Jericho. He tentatively lets go of the Witchblade armor and tosses Trent a salute.

"Fancy running into you out here," he calls out to the man. Jericho may notice that the Falcon is flying a lot more smoothly than the last time they saw each other — either Sam has adjusted to the wings well or had the wings heavily adjusted.

-

A flying assist is a good thing. And once Sam's dragged her up to clearer air, Sara seems a little more confident. It's like riding a bike, right? No, actually, it's nothing like riding a bike. At all. But at least she had a chance to think about steering without also thinking about staying airborne.

"Trent, fancy meeting you here," she calls over, eyes half-closing as she tries to make a better connection with the blade's sense for this sort of thing. The wings sweep once, steadying her, and she lets out a breath. "Thanks, Sam!" she calls back. "Little less rocky up here."

-

"It's really less fancy than all that…" He grins, easing down a little to put himself off Sam's left wing with a respectable distance so as not to crowd Sara or Sam. Novice flyer lessons are not to be messed with. Too many ways for it to go wrong. He remembers his, after all.

"I see you got that pack working a bit better though." He calls out, nodding to Sam though he's giving Sara's 'wings' a really curious once over. He flies mostly because very advanced computers can figure out how to make it work. Her? It's all magic. And he's gotten curious about that kind of thing.

-

"You're doing great, Sara!" Falcon tells her, his voice encouraging. He extends a few metallic feathers like air brakes, slowing himself to back off and give her a little more room to experiment. Having drilled her on the basics, now he just wants her to get flight time so she can build her confidence before they move on to the advanced stuff. Fortunately, whether fueled by magic or technology, wings are wings. There are enough shared principles for him to offer useful instruction.

He grins over at Jericho and says, "Yeah, I met a guy over in mutant town. He's got a real talent — got the knockoff flying about as well as the real thing. Can't imagine what he could do with the actual prototype. What brings you to Midtown?"

-

There's something very zen about working with the Witchblade. Try too hard to grasp it, and you lose it. Trust and go with the gut, and it works like you've known what you're doing your entire life. At the moment, Sara is working on finding that balance. It means she's flying expertly one moment, and then the next a stray breeze is enough to send her knocking back and forth like a ship in a storm. But at least it looks like she's learning. Sort of.

-

The flap and glide of Jeri's wings is something that he doesn't seem to think about, primarily because it's partly automated by parts of his brain he doesn't have to concentrate on much. Cybernetics. How do they work?

"This is going better than your average first lesson though. To anser your question Sam, I was out here brooding. Which turned into relaxing. Ish." And drinking. It's not visible from here but his entire left side is a massive second degree burn. And it hurts.

"Does that tire you?" He calls over to Sara. For that matter, Sam gets a glance too. He's got to use his arms for that. It can't be effortless.

-

Falcon keeps a watchful eye on Sara's progress, but sees no reason to intervene. It's a little like a baby first learning to walk, or a teenager learning to drive. You've got to give them a bit of room, let them make some mistakes. A harmless screwup is a better teaching tool than any amount of direct instruction.

"She really is picking it up fast," he agrees with Jericho. It's probably a good thing that he can't see the man's injuries; otherwise he would probably ground them all to until he could manhandle Trent into a hospital.

Falcon's wings certainly do take some arm strength to use, but there are thrusters built into the pack, so there's actually not much flapping. It's primarily about stamina, and it doesn't get really trying unless he has to pull extreme maneuvers.

-

"As much as holding yourself like this does?" Sara calls back to Jericho. "My abs are sort of killing me a little bit right now," she admits, wobbling a little bit. She seems to be getting the hang of when to actually use the wings for more than gliding, though, little by little. Of course, as soon as she tries to think about how she's holding her body, there's another solid wobble, earning a frustrated sound.

-

Ah yes, the stiff body bit is kind of a trick. Try planking for an hour. There are ways to eventually train through or get around it. With a chuckle, he catches Sams eyeline and jerks his head toward a landing on a skyscraper about three miles distant. Shouldn't take that long to get to. The question is clear. Land and break?

"I've got some poggie bait with me, if you guys want." It's a military term meaning snacks. Candy bars, soda that kind of thing. Sara may not get it, but Sam probably will.

-

"Don't overthink it," Sam advises Sara with a laugh, noticing the wobble. He follows Jericho's glance and returns an exaggerated nod. "A break is a good idea. Aim for that rooftop and remember what we talked about for the landing. Tilt back, feet forward, brake with your wings. I'll be right with you if you run into any trouble — landings are tricky, and you probably won't stick your first one. Nothing to be ashamed of."

-

"You should've seen me run into the quinjet," Sara replies ruefully to Sam. "And the sub-plane. I've done a lot of running into things, it's like when you're learning to use roller skates at the rink." At least she's not letting her complete lack of clues about what she's doing discourage her.

-

Jericho grins and pulls up and behind Sam so they can all land nicely and in sequence. Mostly because he doesn't want to get in front of Sara and mess up her flightline, nor between her and Sam because Sam's got the safety gear here and while Jericho's probably your man if you want to learn how to fly a helicopter, flying with wings - Sam's totally your guy. His processes are too automated. Sam has to have a lot more knowledge.

-

Falcon laughs. "Yeah, gives you a whole different perspective on birds hitting windows, right?" he says. "Once you've crashed into a few totally visible things, bonking your head on something transparent doesn't seem like such a dumb move."

He glances behind himself, appreciating the extra space Trent gives him, and puts his senses on high alert as they approach the landing zone. This is the trickiest maneuver Sara is going to attempt today, and he'll be standing by to intervene if anything goes wrong.

-

"Thank God for armor," Sara says ruefully, taking a deep breath to psyche herself up for the whole landing thing. "I can do this. I can totally do this." Which is what she said when she jumped out of the plane, too. And she does…something. It's not great. She stops well, at least. Letting her body fall in a bit of a relieved sag, her feet hit the roof. She tilts the wings, spreading them further. And then comes to a dead stop that jerks her right onto the ground, feet slipping out from under her.

-

Jericho doesn't grin as he lands about ten feet away, flaring flapping to slow him before dropping lightly onto his feet. It's not funny. It's not funny. Nope. Getting killed by Sara for laughing is not funny.

Walking over he roots around in the right cargo pocket of his pants and comes out with a handful of energy bars and, shortly thereafter, some of the small gatorades hidden in what turn out to be repurposed grenade pouches.

"Okay, not bad for an early flight. At all. Which I'm sure Sam will tell you." Snacks are offered all around.

-

Sam winces as he watches Sara's landing. "Pretty good, for a first attempt," he says, holding off on any criticism and definitely refraining from laughter. "Make sure to watch Trent and me — you may be able to pick up some ideas on how to improve your technique." He comes in level with the rooftop, then tips his body back, legs coming forward as the wind whistles off of his metal feathers. He runs along the surface as he slows, and he halts not four feet from where Sara came to rest.

He slips his goggles downward to dangle around his neck and grins at his student. "So! That wasn't so bad, right?"

-

"Yep, I'll be watching," Sara assures, making no move to get up from the roof. She's looking right up at the sky, with a perfect view of the pair as they land. It takes another couple of minutes, but then she pushes herself up, the wings slowly retracting back into the armor, and the armor retracting into the bracelet she's always wearing. "Not the worst thing I've ever done, at least."

-

Setting food down for if people want, partly because it makes it eaiser for him to get to, Jeri's wings and traces fade and he flops into a seated position against a wall. "I should say not. Really, any landing you can walk away from…" Old SOAR adage.

"Frankly though that looked pretty good from what I saw." Except for that hitting the satellite dish. We won't mention that. "I'm sure Sam can give you pointers. So should I expect to see you up here more? I'm not one for just flying to sight see, but I'm also not used to a whole lot of company."

-

"Aw, you did fine," Sam says with a chuckle. "Believe me, you should see the way some of the big tough badasses they tried to get to fly this rig crumbled on their first wingsuit flights. One guy was out of the plane maybe 20 seconds before he threw up and then couldn't get his body back under control. I had to literally carry him the whole way down. Washed him out of the program, and when he got back to his squadron, I hear they changed his callsign to HAC — for 'Hurl and Curl.'"

He laughs and shakes his head as he collects a protein bar from Jericho's stash. Then, he spots the injuries on the cybernetic flier's body. "Ah hell, Trent, what have you done to yourself now?" He starts toward him, intending to take a look.

-

"Not something I'm going to do for fun, no," Sara shakes her head to Jericho with a rueful smile. "But it's something I want to practice. Get better at. Be able to use when it's something that needs to be done. I'm…working on a lot of those things lately," she admits, coming over to pick up a gatorade and rubbing a hand at her side as she does. "Going to be great if I ever make it to a beach, though. Talk about abs of steel."

-

"Does that thing accessorize well with bikinis?" Jeri chuckles as he grips a power bar and tears the packaging with his teeth.

Oy… Sam's got good eyes. Falcon indeed. "Long story short?" He sighs. "I suffered a massive feedback burn soaking up an explosion last night. Hence the brooding earlier this morning." Other reasons too, but 'I didn't like the answers I got from interrogating three men with a demon and ice cream' is not open convesation even for this set. Speaking of the demon…

K'nert didn't appreciate the flight because it made it hard for him to keep up. So he crawls out of a shadow on the opposite side of Jericho from Sara, leans over, grabs a power bar and takes to the far end of the landing, hissing at Jeri reproachfully and munching sullenly.

"I'll live, Sam, really."

-

"Not for fun?" It takes a lot to distract Sam from checking on an injury as severe as Jericho's, but that little comment does it. He turns to stare at Sara. "Flying? It's the most fun thing in the world! And a great workout." He blinks at her a couple of times, disbelief written all over his face, but then shakes it off and turns back to Trent.

"Whatever, man. Don't pull that tough guy crap with me. Have you even bothered to have anyone look at this?" He gingerly tugs at the man's sleeve to get a closer look at his hand, then glances at his neck. He has absolutely no problem putting two and two together: probably half of the man's body has suffered serious damage. "You need to get to a hospital. Seriously. Gauze and disinfectant is not going to hack it. Not that you've actually used either of those things, I might add."

-

"It's also super obvious," Sara points out to Sam. "And I try to keep a pretty low profile. This thing doesn't have a stealth setting." She moves over to a wall she can lean against, rather than trying to hold herself up. She leans over to get a look at the injuries while Sam pokes at things, curious. "Unfortunately, the healing trick is another one of the settings I haven't figured out on this thing," she grimaces. "He's right, though. That'll get infected if you aren't careful."

-

"Hospital's not an option Sam. Sara knows why." He nods, though. Sam and Sara aren't wrong, though Sam is close enough to note that there's a green ripple of light over some of the burned skin. "Wouldn't mind some antibiotics though if you know where to get 'em."

The fact that Sara doesn't know how to heal herself with that is kind of surprirsing. "So wait, you know that it can heal you but not how to do it? You said that thing had a mind of it's own right. Is it, like, the worlds most enormous a-hole?"

-

Sam grits his teeth and unzips one of the pockets on his flight harness's shoulder strap. "You're damn lucky I stocked this thing before going out with a novice flier," he tells Jericho. "I don't have antibiotics, but I do have some of this." He retrieves a few packets of burn gel and hands them over. A pocket at his belt contains a couple of rolls of gauze. "You'll note that I explained not one minute ago that this is not enough. If you are really on someone's shit list so bad that you can't go to an emergency room, you find yourself a back alley doc or a mutant healer or something, because you are a mess. As for antibiotics, I have some at home."

-

"Having had a few run-ins with its parents, the Angelus and the Darkness, I'd say it's probably third in line for that title, but it runs in the family," Sara snorts at Jericho's question. "Though, to be fair, it usually takes care of me all right. It's brought me back from dead or as good as dead more than once. It's just…not something I entirely control. And I haven't been able to get it to work on other people." She arches a brow at Sam when he breaks out the burn gel. "What in the hell did you think I was going to do to myself that would merit burn gel?"

-

"I know a guy…" Oooooh wow, that feels better. So much better. Some things are better than vodka for certain applications. "But he's got a lot on his plate and this'll heal in a day or three provided I don't get into it worse." He lets a breath out in relief. "Though infection would be an issue and it hurts like hell… ooooh. Thanks." So much less pain.

"Angelus and the Darkness. Hrm. Not familiar, though my introduction to things arcane has been… rudimentary and very focused on a few… particular applications."

-

"Try not to giggle: friction burns," Sam answers Sara. "If you bite it at speed, they can get pretty serious." He smirks a little himself and points at her. "Granted, at the time I didn't realize you'd be flying in a full suit of magical armor. And, hell, it's part of the standard kit. It's not like I only packed stuff I might use today."

He exhales forcefully enough that it's almost a sigh as he turns back to Jericho. "Three days? So you've got some kind of magical healy thing going on, too, or are you just bullshitting me so I'll leave you alone?" He shakes his head and adds, "Regardless, this stuff should keep the risk of infection down. Check in with me regularly, okay? I don't want you dying in an alley or something."

-

"You know the whole biblical thing? In the beginning? Let there be light?" Sara takes a bite of a protein bar, shrugging. "Sort of like that. Angelus is a pretty big dick. Light. Order. Basically uses its host as a puppet. Darkness is a different sort of dick. Dark. Chaos. Follows a family line. Free will, but it tends to…twist people. And this," she adds with a look to Sam, jangling her bracelet, "Is the balance between them. Long story short, at least."

-

"Which makes you the fulcrum I guess. The, you know, lever point, not the MiG." Jericho shrugs. "I don't BS about injuries, Sam. I will be okay in a few days if I don't catch hell between now and then. And I'll check in though unless you want me to hack your phone and find out, you may wanna tell me where you're living."

Jericho frowns. "Sara, feel free to not answer this, but you seem a bit more easygoing about my associations than… others." Named Paul. "Is that experience or is the Witchblade that different?"

-

"And yet you introduce yourself as NYPD," Sam comments wryly in response to Sara's explanation. "Somebody's being humble." The man tends to respond to things too far beyond his ken with jokes. It's probably a way of cutting them down to size.

He nods to Trent, rattling off a street address in Harlem and an apartment number. "Stop by whenever, but call first if it's late. Don't laugh, but for the moment I'm staying with my mom. With dad gone, she took my deployment pretty hard." Not pausing for any snarky comments, he bulls ahead: "And that's a good policy. BSing about injuries is one hell of a dumb way to die."

-

"Hey, I was NYPD before I was anything else," Sara smirks at Sam, shaking her head. "Runs in the family. My dad was, too." Jericho's question, though, takes a little more thought, as she rubs a hand at the back of her neck. "Let's just say that since I got this thing, I've found a lot more gray areas when it comes to dealing with problems," she says after a moment. "Being a cop means you've got things you have to do. Rules you have to follow. There are…limits. And the methods I use as a cop can't be the answer to every problem. Demons don't exactly keep well in holding, you know?"

-

Jeri nods. He profoundly respects Paul's worldview. He just also profoundly disagrees with it. Ordiarily he's prepared to be quite philsophical about such things but when it gets aimed at him sometimes that goes by the way side in his more paranoid moments.

"Fair enough. Look, you've done me a number of good turns and I want you to know if you need help I'll absolutely do what I can for you. However, I don't want to make your day to day work any harder than I have to, and frankly, I know I'm trouble so… don't take it personally if I don't look for you other than that."

Sam gets a grin. "Sam, I was infantry. We BS about everything except ammo, injuries and the weight of our kit. Those things we complain about."

-

"Good point," Falcon answers Jericho amiably. "But since the lady mentioned demons: isn't that one supposed to protect you?" he asks, pointing over at K'nert. "Maybe watch a little closer for explosions next time," he calls to the creature, cupping one hand around his mouth. His armaments may not be rated for demonic combat, but his smartassery knows no such limits.

-

"I am surrounded by military. No wonder I always feel like such a chump," Sara smirks at the pair, shaking her head and holding back a laugh when Sam mouths off at the little demon. "Careful there, buddy. They tend not to take too much care with anything they haven't been explicitly told to do or not to do. Like eat little men with fancy metal wings."

-

K'nert turns and hisses something at Sam, showing fangs. Jeri throws another power bar at him. "Come off it, you. I'm not really interested in seeing if you can take him or not." No, Jeri does not understand Demon, but he can make educated guesses.

"Not his fault in this particular case, though. I snapped a grenade out of the air and encased it in one of my wings. Kind of deliberate on my part." Because had he not… well the blast wave alone might have been lethal.

"It's got it's applications Sara but frankly I'm real out of my depth most of the time. Being a cop, or having a working knowledge of magical things more complex than 'oooh, pretty lights' would probably be more helpful to me most of the time."

-

"Yeah, tell it to your mom," Sam snarks back to the demon, seeming amused by the exchange even if he can't understand the demon's side of it. (Or, perhaps, because he can't.) "You couldn't, like, bat it away?" he asks Jericho, raising an eyebrow. "You gotta find a less risky way to live, Trent."

Turning to Sara, he tells her, "If it makes you feel any better, you don't strike me as a chump. And I am not inclined to cut the five oh any slack."

-

"You and me both, buddy," Sara snorts to Jericho. "Best I've gotten is a sort of on the job training of trying things and finding out what does and doesn't work. Which usually boils down to beating the hell out of things and being glad the Witchblade tends to just…work. That's what I've been doing for the last six years. Just letting it work. Keeping it from going haywire too, of course. But mostly just hoping it works. Which is why…" She gestures to Sam. "It's time to actually train. So I can be…better."

-

"Yeah, that's definitely important," Sam agrees. "Instincts can go a long way, but sometimes they can take you a long way in the wrong direction. God knows that's true of flying." He cocks his head to one side, giving her an inquisitive look. "But I gotta ask: what's made you decide to buckle down now? Something bad going down on the hocus pocus side of things? Having trouble in fights? Or are you just spending too much time surrounded by us military types?" He grins at her, then finally unwraps his protein bar and starts munching on it.

-

"I got my ass handed to me by a nun," Sara grimaces to Sam's question. She takes another bite of protein bar, chewing a moment before she continues. "I mean, okay. Technically not your standard nun. Descendant of Christ carrying the Spear of Destiny trained her entire life to be some sort of hit woman for the church. But it's the principle of the thing."

-

"I'm not sure infantry training or even my special forces experience would have made me any better." Jericho laughs as K'nert rips the bar packaging open and starts to much. "Unless I could have shot her. From very far away. That usually works well. And Sam, to answer your question ,it was indoors. If I'd have let it go off the blast wave would have killed everyone in there. Well… maybe… a couple would have made it." That last said with a look at Sara. Witchblade is pretty awesome. Maybe she and Mike would have made it.

-

When Sara finishes explaining what's driving her sudden interest in self-improvement, Sam opens his mouth to reply, then shuts it. Then he tries again, holding up a finger and taking a breath, but still finding no adequate words. He puts his hand to his chin, watching her thoughtfully. For a third and final time, he wets his lips and inhales, then blinks twice, grimaces, and gives up.

-

"Pretty much," Sara agrees with Sam's expression. "Pretty much." She drains the last of the pouch of Gatorade, rolling it up and tucking it into her pocket. "The thing is, my partner died because of it. Or should have died. We got lucky in the end, but I'm in deep now. And so long as I've got the 'blade, I'm going to stay in deep. So I need to start getting better at swimming."

-

Isn't that a feelign Jeri's familiar with. The more so since starting to suspect that his traces are irreversably integrated into him. "Yeah. Well if you ask me he's damn lucky he's got the partner he does." The hacker stands. His traces flush amber again and the wings return, sprouting from his shoulder blades like a humanoid hawk.

"Nice seeing you both again. Sam, I'll catch you soon. Sara… I'll catch you some time. Hopefully not under the usual circumstances. And if you guys see me up here in the skies don't be a stranger. K'nert, let's go." And with that he tosses a salute to both airman and cop then casually drops off the ledge and wings away as the demonling melds back into the shadows."

-

Falcon nods, swallowing a mouthful of power bar that he bit off to cover his awkward silence. "Yeah, losing people — even just coming close to losing people — is very, very hard. It takes a lot of strength to harness that kind of scare for a good purpose. He's right — your partner is lucky to have you." Of course, Sam isn't aware of Trent's history with Sara's partner; in fact, he hasn't even put it together that he's met the man yet. He'll probably catch up eventually.

"Same to you, Jericho," he says, giving the man an upward nod as he steps toward the edge of the rooftop. "Please, please try not to have any fresh life-threatening injuries the next time I see you."

-

"Take care, Trent," Sara raises a hand to wave. "Try not to get shot or blown up." Because, you know. That's a thing he needs reminded of. Once he's gone, she looks back to Sam, rubbing a hand at the back of her neck. "He would've been the third one I lost," she admits, lifting one shoulder in an awkward shrug. "If there was anything I could do…"

-

"Hey now," Sam says, slouching and bending forward so that he's on a level eye-line with Sara. "You're in a dangerous line of work. You know that it's not something you can beat yourself up for. You did what you could. You'll keep doing what you can." He reaches out to put a hand on her shoulder, if she'll let him. "Hell, that's probably why you're around all these military guys so much. We know what that's like."

-

"Yeah, I've been hearing that line for a long time," Sara grimaces at Sam's reassurance. "I didn't buy it when I was a kid and they told me Dad was dead, and I haven't bought it since. Doing what you can isn't enough if it doesn't make a difference. You have to change what it is you can do if what you can do isn't enough."

-

"There's no magic answer, though," Sam says seriously. "No amount of skill or preparation or power can make you perfectly safe, or make the people around you perfectly safe. Especially if you're one of the people who risks your own neck to make other people safer. Not to say that your approach is wrong, of course — it's absolutely the right approach. But you have to accept that your limits are not the same thing as your faults. You can recognize them and keep pushing them, but you should never blame yourself for them."

-

"Yeah? So who'm I supposed to blame?" Sara shakes her head, pushing up to stand again. "Call it what you want, Sam. I've had this thing for six years, and I haven't bothered to do more than just trust that it'll work when I need it. That's on me. Next time, it won't be. Next time, I'll be ready." She brushes herself off, armor spreading over her again. This time, though, the wings actually appear at will. "We flying back?"

-

Sam presses his lips together, recognizing that he's reached a limit of his own: pushing the issue any further with Sara right now is going to do more harm than good. He folds the wrapper over the remainder of his power bar and tucks it into the pouch where the burn gel used to be, then puts his goggles back on. "If you're feeling up for it, absolutely," he answers, diving straight into some technical flying instruction. "This time, try to pull out of the initial dive about two seconds earlier, and stay up above the level of the rooftops you pass close to. That'll keep your crosswinds a little more predictable…"


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