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It was pedestrian, yet she made it look preordained. Just a mugging. Victims probably wouldn’t even have gotten hurt. Much, at least. And the mugger’s comments, derogatory though they might have been, had still been amusing.

Would you have bothered? There was probably much worse going on, even now. Maybe not even blocks away. It was Brockton Bay, after all. It was barely responsible to bother with something so plain as a mugging.

And yet, here she was: Recluse. Taking the time to bother. Is this the third time you’ve watched her? Fourth? (Sixth.) Only a couple of weeks since you first saw her, and you want to see her more (have to see).

She’d dropped from somewhere. A roof? A fire escape? As she landed, her baton had extended and hit the mugger’s hands, knocking the knife away. Another short swing hit his knees with a crack.

You felt your own heart beat with excitement. Over something so simple? Really? Yet here you were, and here you are (there she is).

And now, Recluse advances upon him, even as he stumbles and falls onto his side with a funny little scream. He’s at her mercy, now. She could do anything to him. Kill him or hurt him. Perfect control. You relish it (from a distance).

Her posture changes. She’s going to speak. You don’t want to miss it (not that you care).

You fling yourself off your perch and into shadow. You rematerialize in the dark, further within the alley, just out of sight (she won’t know you’re watching) (she probably already does) (you wanted her to, anyway).

“None so weak,” she says, barely a whisper, yet somehow her voice carries to you, nearly unrecognizable for the fury laced within it, “as those who prey on ones they feel weaker than themselves.”

One thought is all you can think (one) (only one): Badass. A badass line for a badass vigilante.

And with that, spiders flow across him, weaving them into their webs.

“Tuesday,” she says, turning away. But you know who she’s talking to. “Four o’clock. Burger place. You know the one. See you there, Stalker.”

Again, you’re left with the cleanup. You pull out your phone.

You sigh (irritated) (only irritated) (not excited (not)).

Friday night, you spot a mugging of your own. The woman pulls her victim from the street into an alley, a knife digging into his side.

You feel yourself smile. Your heart beats just a bit faster. You don’t wait.

You jump down. Feet from the ground, you become shade, and you switch back just as you land.

An elbow to her arm pulls the knife away from his side. Your fist against hers knocks it from her hand.

You feel the thrill go through you (it feels good) (should it?).

Arm around her neck, you pull her away from her victim. She struggles feebly, but although she may be older, her muscles aren’t a match for your own (not when you have leverage).

“None so weak,” you say, the grin on your lips obscured behind your mask, “as those who prey on ones weaker than themselves.”

The grin fades.

It’s not that you think Recluse would mind (she wouldn’t). After all, you’re a badass, too, even if you’re no longer a vigilante (your fingers clench at the thought) (your grip around the mugger’s neck tightens).

But it’s not the same.

You wonder why. You don’t— (don’t know why).