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The Spider of Brockton Bay

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Her neck itched. It did that a lot this morning. 

So Taylor scratched it. Again. She was sure that if she did that anymore, she'd soon be picking skin from her fingernails. So, she ignored the odd itchand instead placed her gaze back unto the shelf. Soups, sauces, and dips of various flavors gazed back at her. There was chicken soup, tomato paste, regular cheese dip made from mostly preservatives... maybe she should just take the ravioli. After all, it was better than mac 'n cheese for dinner again. 

Lasagna would be nice, but her mother's old recipe called for some truly expensive ingredients, and Taylor knew very well how not well off she and her dad were at the moment. A quick glance at anything resembling those ingredients brought a small smile to her lips, as well as the taste of salt. She rubbed her eyes, and Taylor did her best to ignore the resulting memories of her mother, less she be forced to explain to someone why the handle of her basket has a handprint embedded in it. 

A frown graced her features as she thought of her... abilities. It felt much too wrong to say powers, and there was no way in hell she'd call them a gift. 

She ignored the growing itch on her nape to blindly grab some of the nearest cans. She placed them next to the skinny jug of milk, and the small bottle of orange juice that she craved. Taylor let the cans fall from her fingertips, and sighed when she realized, I forgot the butter, didn't I?

Taylor felt like rolling her eyes, especially when, guess what, the itch. Taylor, unwilling to rip out her spinal column, instead pressed her palm against her jaw and popped her neck. While it felt nice, the resulting cracks did little against the growing itch, now a strange pinch. 

At least it doesn't itch anymore, she thought. Taylor walked out of the canned foods isle, ignoring the way the lights above flickered and hummed. Smells of fresh free samples fill her nose, alongside the many perfumes and colognes that seemed to walk in clouds around others. Taylor liked this store, if not for the cheap pricing, than for the feeling of normality amongst the hell that was Brockton Bay. She felt none of that normality as she was forced to take a deep breath to stave off the increasing paranoia. 

Specifically, the feeling of someone's eyes on her. 

Taylor was used to being stared at. She dealt with it everyday at Winslow. But here and now, so soon after her hospitalization? Maybe it's a trick of the light, she tried to convince herself. Yeah! Maybe I'm just... in the way. 

Her mind felt to remind her consciousness that the chances of her being in the way of anyone was slim, but then the pinch stopped. It was gone. There was no itch either. Taylor took that as a sign to look behind her, slowly turning-

Pain. A sudden feeling as though bells were ringing loudly in her mind. Her world surged and moved and churned like water disturbed, and Taylor found herself swaying before she rammed into something hard. 

The bells quieted then. They still existed, as though they were a part of Taylor herself, silent yet ringing and clanging. A shiver went through her body involuntarily, and she found herself apologizing at the man in front of her. "I-I'm sorry..." There it was again. The ringing in her ears, evolving into an electric tingle that sent sparks down her spine and left her muscle tense. Then she got a good look at the man in front of her, and Taylor thought, Oh. 

She was almost immediately reminded of her father. Tall and steady. That's where the similarities ended. This... man, had him beat, with wide shoulders and a thick neck, barely concealed by the man's coat and collar. Muscle bulged from his body as though it threatened to explode, and through his coat, Taylor could've sworn she spotted something green. It didn't help that he was two heads taller than her, and had his face shrouded by his hat. 

Either way, Taylor found that she didn't like the tingle. Or, more realistically, what that tingle represented. Everything about the man, from his posture, to his height, to his almost extreme muscle mass, screamed DANGER. DO NOT APPROACH. 

Taylor knew that she couldn't thank her father enough for the pepper-spray he had gifted her, but as she felt the little thing twist in her pocket, she knew that it wouldn't do shit against the man.

The man's chest seemed to vibrate, and his voice rumbled, as though not used in a while. "...sister?" Or used a lot in a brief amount of time. Hoarse, coarse, and other such adjectives that resembled cruel torture on her ears. "Um... no? I-I don't think we know each other..." What are you doing!? This is such a bad idea, just go back in the isle, pretend to grab soup or something!

Her thoughts then took a steep turn off the cliff as the man's coat swished in place. Taylor looked behind herself, eyeing the AC that sat yards away. He has something under his coat. The man himself hadn't moved, she knew, and he spoke again. "...creature?" Creature? Like what, Leviathan? What do I say, what the hell do I say?! "Um..."

Goddammit. Taylor gave her best smile, something crooked that didn't reach her eyes, and shrugged. "...I don't know?" Why does everything I say sound like a question? The man tilted his head, much like a dog, and leaned over her head and sniffed. Taylor kept herself still and trembled, trying not to let herself crush the basket in her fear. Like a bloodhound, or something, he breathed through his nose and out his mouth. Despite the glare coming of Taylor's glasses from staring upwards for so long, she thought she could see a smile. A smile filled with sharpened, misaligned teeth, surrounded by yellow-green skin. It wasn't any kind of happy, or smug, or mischievous. It was predatory. 

"Spider," he spoke, like it was a fun fact that he liked to tell others. Taylor blinked at the sudden statement. "Me? A spider?" Is that what he meant by creature? The man nodded fervently. His coat swished again, and Taylor found herself drawn to it, almost not catching the parting words of, "Be seeing you." As the man walked, Taylor realized that her spine tingle didn't vanish, but instead died down to a light rattle. Her knees trembled at the encounter, and Taylor swore as she saw something like a tail move from behind him as he vanished behind the aisle. 

"...I might as well get soup."

---

She supposed that encounter left her... nervous. Exposed. Granted, as much as Taylor loved her home, Brockton Bay always made one nervous. But this was more akin to some type of otherworldly encounter. Hell, the closest Taylor had ever gotten to a cape fight was through the news, when Lung had first come to town and beat down everyone who stood up to him. Anyone who thought otherwise about Brockton Bay was either an idiot, dead, or a nazi. 

Or even all three. 

There was the tingle, picking up after the stares of the homeless. Though, from what she could tell of the colors they wore, they might have just been Merchants. 

There was the tingle, again, this time pointing arrows a butch looking girl walking with three dogs. It didn't change in anyway after the grocery store. It didn't have an itch, and there was no physical feeling of a pinch. It all just started and ended with the bells in her ears.

Taylor jumped with her groceries, startled by a car horn going off... somewhere. Though unseen, it was a drill in her mind, melting and solidifying in a macabre sculpture that would put Hookwolf to shame. Taylor did her best to cover her ears without being seen as crazy, but these days she guessed, they took a new definition. 

Also, there may be monsters in the sewers. SHe doesn't know how, but a rat skittering past her feet set off the same bells as the man from the store. The one that may or may not have a tail. 

Taylor shook her head. She was getting too worked up about all of this. She just needed to get home, make dinner, eat alone because her father is likely working right now, and then...

Then, PRT vans and cars raced in front of her crossing. She didn't mean to eavesdrop, just like how she wasn't sure how she did it. But words were heard through the deafening wails. Words that sounded eerily like "a tailed man."

It couldn't be the guy from the grocery, right? It couldn't be. Taylor knew there were other tailed men in the Bay, but her mind couldn't but irrationally supply, But what if it's our tailed man? What if he's the one about to be captured?

Taylor shook her head. That was impossible, she thought. The only way it could be that tailed man is if- the tingle shocked her spine. Her body tensed and released, as though it knew what to do before Taylor could know. She found every bone, muscle, every molecule in her body moving as one. Her world turned over, then sideways, and finally she landed, asphalt burning her hands.

Taylor found herself with her eyes closed and breathing heavily, and in the distance she could hear, "Get the fuck outta the way!" Taylor mumbled under her breath, still struggling to gain control. "Yeah... you have a... great day... too... you asshole." Then she regretted opening her eyes.

Her hands gripped the wall tighter, her meager strength somehow creating divots in the brick as Taylor found herself hanging above the street. She somehow pulled her body tighter against the brick, and felt in her fingertips a pleasant burn. Of course, the pleasantness was overcome by the fact that she was hanging thirty feet in the air on a featureless wall! Panic seized her thoughts and her lungs, and she found herself breathing heavily again, this time with curses under her breath. "Shit... shit! Shitshitshit!"

How?! I'm supposed to be on the ground! She was right before. As she looked at her hands and feet, she saw no handholds, no footholds, except for the ones she made by digging into the wall like it was sand. I'm supposed to be on the ground-

Her thoughts cut off as she suddenly found her hands separated from the wall. Her ass and feet were still stuck, but she found a brief moment to shout, "Yes!' before her power failed her. Gravity dragged her body down with it's usual speeds and velocities, and Taylor found herself landing roughly on her elbow. Dust billowed from her crash, as did various articles of trash. 

Taylor groaned in pain. Then she found that the pain had gone, and she stood up from her three story drop. It was like whiplash, how fast she stood up from the fall. She looked up, barely spotting the little finger divots she made before giving and reaching for her...

Where were her groceries? Taylor looked behind her, around her, and even debated diving into the alleyways trash when she finally looked outside. She spotted the street she was at, where she leaped over that terrible driver, and spotted her groceries... strewn across the street in a gross mix of chicken broth, milk, and orange juice. 

"...fuck," Taylor curse. Dammit, she curse in her mind. She had spent all the money she had on her for the stuff. That was her and her father's dinner! "Son of a bitch!" She yelled, and Taylor turned to savagely kick the nearest object, which happened to be a trash can. But, instead of her holding her foot in pain, Taylor found herself perplexed as the can crumpled under her kick, flying down the alley with a trailing ribbon of trash. Taylor blinked, cursed again, and made to turn out of the alley before her tingle tingled too late. Her foot slipped out from under her, and Taylor again landed harshly on her back, right into a ripped open bag of even more trash. 

Taylor didn't feel the impact. She instead ended up gazing into the reddening sky, doing her best not to cry. 

---

Home is normal. Home is here. Home is...

...empty. Taylor's spine tingled as she near her third step, but it was small and unnoticeable through her exhaustion. 

Her father wasn't home. Obviously. If she checked, there would probably be voicemail on the homeline telling her that he would come back later with takeout. If she had groceries, she would call and tell him she would be making dinner. 

She missed making dinner. 

Still, Taylor tried not to dwell on her feelings as she went upstairs to her bathroom and undressed. She felt dirty, for obvious reasons, and it didn't help that her clothes seemed soaked in some kind of mystery juice from earlier. 

As she stared the shower, she cursed as the her hand stuck itself to the knob. Her skin wouldn't relent, and Taylor pulled with all her strength. Somehow, she had forgotten that was a bad idea. The knob was pulled loose from the wall, and water spewed from the new hoel. Taylor cursed again, and scrambled to slam the dented metal object back in. It worked, it seemed, and Taylor could tell no difference except for the spider-web cracks in the ceramic, and of course, the handprint that the knob now had indented. Taylor felt her teeth grinding. 

"Screw it. I'm going to bed." She remembered she didn't have school until Monday anyway. It didn't help, and Taylor could hear the house pleading with her as more cracks appeared in her doorway.