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just a spark

Chapter Text

 “I knew that I was dying.
 something in me said, go ahead,
die, sleep, become as them, accept.
then something else in me said, no,
save the tiniest bit. it needn’t be much,
just a spark. a spark can set a whole
forest on fire. just a spark. save it.”

— (C.Bukowski)

  


 

Tatsu decides to visit them.

She doesn't know why, not at first. Then she does. It's something invisible and heavy that pulls her to the prison to see them. It's unclear at the start, what she's feeling or why she's feeling it, but it's something that she's carried with her since the night in the city. She carries it with her until she can't. Until it grows and turns into something stronger, and eventually it clears and she knows. Tatsu knows she can't fight it anymore.

Her resolve to stay away from them slowly crumbles, she's still part of the team (and yes, she tells herself, that's what they were that night. It's what they are, or what they could be again one day) and she thinks of them often. They're something fractured and unsteady, and the four of them locked away in Belle Reve Penitentiary are criminals—but they call themselves a team, and she's a part of that now because of what they went through together.

That's why she feels what she feels for them. It's unbalanced but it's clear enough. Tatsu doesn't dream often but there are nights when she does, and sometimes in those moments she sees Midway city again. She sees it on that night and she relives it. Chato Santana dies again and again. He dies for his family, a sacrifice he chooses to make, but one that stays with them all regardless of his choice.

Tatsu hears it all again. His words, and the voices that came before it. She relives the false dreams planted into her mind, over and over. It makes her think about what remains of their team. The team that Santana called his family. She's not sure how or why it worked, or how they were a team at all that night, but they were. It just happened, and that's not something that's easy for Tatsu to accept but she does. She accepts it once she realizes that she won't win this fight against her feelings. She thinks about them more than she would like to admit and it's something she knows won't go away just because a part of her wants it to.

She's changed now because of them, because of what they went through. They're all changed in their own ways, it's just that her way is less obvious. It isn't obvious at all, really. Her change is different, smaller than theirs. She knows what it is, what's different now. Her initial feelings towards them have changed slowly. Her willingness to take them down if they turn rogue remains, but it's changed in a way that Tatsu doesn't fully understand. She doesn't recall the moment this all changed, she just knows it now and it isn't something that she particularly likes, to know that something has changed but to not fully understand it is something she's not entirely used to or comfortable with, but for now she accepts it because there is nothing else she can do.

They're still criminals. That's why the four of them are where they are and it's why she's out here, but it's changed now. It's different. Not by too much, not really. It's just quietly different, and that's why she allows herself to visit them today. It's just the one visit here, she tells herself, because she knows it's only a matter of time before Agent Waller needs to send them somewhere else. It's just that it's been weeks now and Tatsu decides that it's time to see them, so she can assess their situations and conditions to know if they will be ready for whatever comes next.

Rick Flag organizes it for her. He doesn't ask too many questions, even if he does seem confused when she asks to see them. The best Flag can do for her is give her time with them, individually and through the slots or bars on their cells. It's all monitored, he tells her, and there's no risk to her anyway since they both know she could take them out if she wanted to. It's just that Waller says no, to the visitation in the cells. It's Waller's call, and it's something that Tatsu doesn't challenge because she knows how this works. Nothing happens to the members of her Task Force X without her say so.

So that also explains why Tatsu learns not everyone benefited from their mission in the city: Harley receives the espresso machine that she was promised, Floyd is given regular communication with his daughter as well as occasional visits when arrangements can be made, and Waylon receives his TV—and then there's the Captain and well, he gets nothing.

It isn't exactly a surprise to Tatsu when she learns from Flag that Boomerang is exactly where he was before this started; pissed off, unstable, and always screaming to be let out of his cell. His last conversation with Waller explains why he gets nothing when everyone else does, but it's not just the situation with Waller that's made life hard for him here.

Flag tells her it in pieces. For the last few weeks, Boomerang has been difficult. Worse than he's ever been before. It's led to him being sedated several times. The guards claim that due to his increased fits of rage they've been required to put him under. Over and over again. There's more to it though, more to why they're sedating him.

He hurts himself during these moments of rage, or so the guards say. Maybe not intentionally, but it forces them to control him, with force and sedation. Flag tells her this quietly, in confidence, knowing that it will stay between them. He also tells her what Waller's orders have been, when it comes to Boomerang: keep him alive, whatever the cost. And this just happens to be the cost for the Captain.

Waller still needs them, Tatsu knows this. It's why they were given what they were promised, and it's also why they're sedating Boomerang instead of hurting him. They're trying to stop him from permanently injuring himself or someone else, because Waller needs him. She needs all of them and she will use them, whatever the cost. It lingers with Tatsu, and again she's unsure of why it stays but it does. It almost distracts her, and once again this isn't a feeling she's accustomed to or comfortable with.

She considers that maybe she's here because of something deeper. Maybe beneath it all she's here to make sure they're not being treated too badly. They're criminals, Tatsu reminds herself, but she feels like she needs to know more about them to know they're okay. She needs more information than Flag's occasional updates give her, and she feels like she needs to see it for herself. So maybe that's why she visits, just to confirm that they're being treated decently, not that she's sure anyone here is treated decently or that they deserve to be.

Or maybe, Tatsu briefly considers, that it's because she can no longer fight that connection that she feels pulling her to them.

 

**

 

That's how she ends up outside of Floyd's cell, watching as he shows off several drawings from his daughter. She won't stay for long, and Tatsu isn't sure that speaking to him through the square slot on the metal door actually counts as a visit, but she guesses that it's something. It's better than not seeing him at all, and not knowing how he is now that the mission's over. That's when Tatsu realizes just how much she might care about their situation, and she tries to push it down by listening to Floyd again. She tries to use this conversation to distract herself from her thoughts but she can't, they are always there and lately there is no escape. Still, she focuses back on him and why she is here to get her mind off other thoughts.

She's here to see him first because he's the most tolerable out of the four of them, and that's mostly because of the love she can see he has for his daughter. It's a pure, warm kind of love that reminds her of the soft and good things she once felt. It feels like another lifetime ago, like she's not even that person anymore. And it's hard to think about that, but it's harder to be here and feel all of those familiar, heavy feelings when she listens to Floyd talk about his daughter.

It stirs the dull, aching pain that lingers in her chest sometimes. It's something hollow, and off-beat, and dark. And it never goes away, not long enough for her to know what it's like to live without it.

She's learned how to silence it, sort of. Tatsu does that now, and instead of thinking about it she listens to Floyd again—he talks about his daughter for a while, and then he talks about her and tries to make reasonably polite attempts at conversation, but there's really not a lot for the two of them to talk about since he's been in here for the last few weeks and she's not allowed to tell him where she's been.

Then Floyd asks about them.

How's everyone else doing? Harley? Croc? That other asshole? he asks, and then she sees it. In those next seconds when everything is silent and they're looking at each other through the slot in the door, Tatsu sees it. She sees that he cares about them like she does. It's unexpected for both of them to care about the other three, but they do. They care, and it's more than just his words that show her this. It's in his eyes, too. It's something that she notices when Floyd asks how they are. It's easy to see. It's so easy that Tatsu knows exactly what he means without another word.

Belle Reve isn't kind to them. That's what she sees flicker across Floyd's face in that deep, brief moment. It hasn't been kind to them in the past, she can see that, and there's more to it than he says. It's different for them now because they're needed and they're useful, but only for now. Before that? They were nothing. Not useful, not needed. They were disposable, and one day they will be again.

Tatsu nearly scolds herself silently for letting herself feel the way she does when she think about them. She feels sad, almost, when she thinks about their mistreatment here. It's probably worse than anything she can imagine, and it was—What? Unnecessary? She stops and thinks about it for half a second and then it starts to pass. They're criminals, they're here for a reason. She's read their files, she knows what they've done and why they're in here. Tatsu knows their reasons, and she knows the lives they could have had if they weren't in here. It feels unbalanced again, conflicting, and she is lost.

She cares about them when she shouldn't. It's mistreatment, but is it? They're criminals, and yet she feels like she's seen more to them than that. Or at least she tells herself she has, because she can remember it. She remembers seeing it vividly; that night they were brave and selfless for a few rare, unguarded moments. It's something that she assumes they've all forgotten now, and it probably means little to them, but she remembers it.

At the start, Tatsu recalls seeing nothing much in any of them that indicated that they had that inside of them. She remembers being so certain that when things were difficult or if the risk was too much they would run. There was nothing that showed her that they would act any differently, until there was. It just switched suddenly  in the moment they were needed. Tatsu remembers the way Santana showed it. His bravery, and his selflessness—and because of it they all fought together. They were determined that night, to save lives instead of just taking them. And the more she thinks about it, the more she believes that she will never understand what they showed that night or why they showed it. But it was there, and they were there for her, and it stays with her. She wishes it wouldn't, sometimes. But it does, so she accepts it and moves on.

Tatsu assures Floyd that they're fine, even though she hasn't seen them yet. She assumes that when he asks about 'that other asshole' that he's talking about two people: Boomerang or Flag. It's easy to figure out who he means this time, and she's right. She tells him what she knows, about Harley receiving her espresso machine, and Waylon's new TV, and then she tells him about how all Boomerang has is a cell and a guard to scream at. Floyd seems amused by that last part, then he almost looks happy when he talks about Harley getting her espresso machine.

There's more to it though, more to how he feels about them, and she sees it. One look and she knows what it is. Floyd cares about them, and it's similar to the way she cares about them. And somehow Floyd gets that, too. He knows that she cares and he understands it, that she never meant to care, and that she still doesn't want to, but she does. 

Through the mask she's wearing, and the small space between them, he reads her and she reads him, and they both share a silent understanding that she's not sure they will ever acknowledge again. They're in this together. Somehow they've both ended up in this situation where they care about an unstable, irritating group of criminals, but there's almost nothing that can be done about it now.

It's far too late now. They're stuck together now because of Waller, and Flag, and what they went through. And that's just how it is. This is their life now, and they will just have to make the most of it while they're still here.

 

**

 

Her visit with Waylon is brief and she doesn't mind that at all, she actually quite likes it. There's really not that much to talk about, and she didn't come here with the intention of talking too much with any of them anyway. Tatsu's here to see how they are, that's it, and she soon learns the Waylon is well. He's never been too much of a talker and that hasn't changed, but that's fine because Tatsu's never been much of a talker either.

She spends her visit on the outside of his cell, left to talk to him through the metal bars between them. The guard leaves to give them the privacy to talk, but Tatsu isn't really sure it's private when there's a camera recording everything.

Waylon is curious when he arrives, and he even walks over to the bars on the cell to greet her. She's not sure that he's really surprised to see her here, it's more that he seems like he wasn't expecting it. Still, he's polite enough and she senses that he's been well-treated here after his involvement in the Task Force. It's a brief and quiet visit, and she's pleased with that. She spends the time asking him how he is here after what happened in the city, and then she asks about how they're treating him and if he's enjoying his new privileges. It seems like he couldn't be happier with his life here now, and with his new set-up and privilege, with a TV all to himself, and a shelf above his bed filled with alcohol. 

The TV is actually quite large, and Waylon seems very happy with it. He talks about it a lot, and then tells her about a game that he watched last night. Tatsu listens like she did with Floyd and it's like she fades in and out, between her conversation with Croc and her own thoughts about them. She slowly comes to realizes two things; the first is that her concerns about them were apparently misplaced, since they all seemed relatively pleased so far with their arrangements after the battle. Floyd seems happy, with his letters and communication with his daughter. And Waylon seems more than happy. He even smiles at her from across the room, as he's telling her about another game, and she doesn't know what he's saying but she knows she's never seen him smile before.

The second thing that she realizes in this quiet moment with him is that maybe they're fine with what they've been given after the mission, so maybe what they're missing is something else. Contact, with others. Someone to talk to. Maybe Waylon isn't missing it so much, but it almost seems like he is from the way he's talking about the game, and her earlier visit with Floyd, where he spent so long talking about his daughter, confirms that he's missing it, too. It isn't something she knows with certainty, it's really just a thought. She barely knows them at all, but Tatsu decides that it's something that she'll think about after she leaves here today.

Whatever game Waylon is following on the TV suddenly comes back on and that's it. She knows their talk is over now and Tatsu is almost glad to leave, only because it gives her the opportunity to take a moment of silence in the corridor outside. It's quiet there and she's left alone and undisturbed, to the thoughts that stir around in her mind, over again. Whatever the cost, she thinks about it, spinning those three words over. Whatever the cost. 

Maybe she shouldn't concern herself with them so much, but she can't help the way they stay with her. It's the same way Chato's words from that night stay with her. She remembers his sacrifice, and how he did it for them. His family. She's not sure what they are, but she knows that they are something and she can't ignore that, even if she still wants to.

It's something she can't deny. They are stuck with her. In her head, and under her skin. She knows what they, sort of, and sometimes she doubts it. She tries to tell herself that they are only concerns that she can't rid herself of, and then for a minute she is stuck thinking about how they are a team. Or how they were a team, once, for a moment there. Then she thinks about them as memories. It always comes back to her. Dreams of electricity and fire stay with her, along with false thoughts and memories of them on that night.

This is what they are to her (dreams, memories, a team). But what Tatsu is to them? She doesn't know, not with certainty, but she believes that she is likely only a shadow to them. Here in passing, gone by the evening. 

 

**

 

Harley makes them espressos.

Once the confirmation from Flag comes back that it's allowed, Harley excitedly makes them an espresso each and Tatsu is left to get lost in her thoughts. She finds it curious that she's not allowed in their cells with them because of safety concerns—and yet, they fail to see the potential harm in giving an inmate a machine that makes boiling water. She soon decides that it will be a problem for later, and for someone else, and she waits quietly outside of the cage that Harley's in, while on the inside Harley seems genuinely happy to have her here visiting.

Tatsu listens to Harley like she did with Floyd, and at the same time she observes Harley like she did with Waylon. It's odd, she considers, how comfortable Harley really does seem with her here when she's almost certain that they haven't shared a conversation before. She doesn't know why Harley seems so taken with her, but she is. Harley is friendly and excited, while chatting with her about how she'd like Tatsu to keep visiting because of how boring it can get in here with the same old people. She's talking like they're old friends, while all that Tatsu can do is wait and listen as she goes on.

The coffee's ready eventually and Harley brings it over, sits down on the cell right across from where Tatsu's standing, and then she politely offers her the cup. Next, Harley gestures to the spot on the floor for Tatsu to join her and sit with her, and Tatsu's not sure if this is something she would have ever done before that night in the city where Santana died, and they all almost died with him, but apparently it's something she does now. It's something that she does now because of that night.

Tatsu hesitates noticeably, then slowly lowers herself down to sit on the ground with Harley. She takes the cup and listens as Harley tells her all about the espresso machine, and then about the new book she's started to read, and eventually it circles back to the machine and she starts to talk about all the other nice things she might get if they keep doing missions. Harley talks for a while and Tatsu finds it strange that she doesn't mind it at all. She's not sure why she doesn't mind sitting here and listening to her, it's just like how she doesn't know why she says yes when Harley asks her if there's a chance Tatsu could arrange some new books for her to read in here.

Maybe it's because she still feels conflicted about it all. She cares but she doesn't completely understand why, and it bothers her. Tatsu doesn't know what good it will do for her to care about them at all because it leaves her compromised. They're expendable and right now they're useful to Waller, so it's likely they'll all be going on more missions together in the future. So if she cares then it leaves her compromised, and if they don't go on more missions together it leaves her wondering about what will happen to them here.

She cares but she shouldn't, and she doesn't particularly like this place or what it feels like here but she knows she will keep coming back here for them. It isn't uncomfortable here, it's just not entirely comfortable. It's not a physical kind of feeling, it's a different kind of vulnerability and it leaves Tatsu searching again, for answers, for the moment where it all changed and she started to care about them. She searches but finds nothing, and she ends up giving up on her search and returning her focus back to her reality.

Across from where she's sitting, Tatsu sees that Harley's still excitedly talking about something new that she misses the start of but quickly tunes into. It seems to bring Harley some pleasure, or at least little comfort, to sit with someone that listens to her when she talks. Someone that isn't a guard or another inmate, not that she imagines anyone is allowed to sit and talk with Harley much. So Tatsu sits and she listens, and it really isn't the worst day or conversation that she's had.

 

**

 

Maybe it isn't the worst day she's had, but it's definitely not a comfortable one.

Tatsu visits Boomerang at the end of the day. He's the last one she's here to see, and when she arrives the guard outside of the Captain's door tells her that there's nothing to worry about—and that he's 'a little less fucking mad now' because it hasn't been too long since he was last sedated.

Then the guard opens up the slot on the door and walks away, leaving Tatsu to stand alone, just a few feet from his cell. She stays there quietly, waiting. She waits for the sound of his voice, something loud and furious, and when that doesn't happen she half expects to see him run at the door.

He doesn't.

It's quiet except for a nearby voice she thinks she hears. It's a quiet muttering, something low and hushed. Faint, but still there. Tatsu steps closer soon and through the slot in the door she sees him. She finds Boomerang down on the floor of his cell, with his legs stretched out in front of him, and his arms limp by his side. Most of his clothes are gone, and because of this she is free to see him. She is free to see his body, and it looks painful.

His body is marred with scars and bruises, and what looks like a messy combination of dirt and blood. He's been left like this, alone in his cell, half-naked and just in his pale boxers.

Her first instinct is to look away from him and she does, but only for a moment. Something pulls her back to him and she returns her gaze to his body, to roam across his wounds and the blood on his skin. She stays like this for a while, until she realizes that he hasn't noticed her presence here yet. He thinks that he is still alone, and so he is acting like it. He is quiet and still, and his eyes are fixed on something else, away from the door. His eyes are stuck on his knuckles for some reason, and when Tatsu follows his gaze to the spot that he's staring at she realizes what he's looking at. The skin along his knuckles is all torn up and spotted with blood, like he's spent a long time punching at the walls.

It looks painful and raw, and when she looks up to the walls she finds that they are dirty and bloody, just like him. There are little patches of red smeared over the walls, and for a moment she is left wondering if all of that blood is from this fists, punching the walls. And then she wonders if it's even all of his doing.

She recalls Floyd's words suddenly, when he asked how they were, and she wonders how she would answer that question now that she's seen him here like this. Like he's someone else entirely. He doesn't even look like himself and it startles her to see him like this. She can't look away, and Boomerang still doesn't seem to be aware that she's here with him. If he has noticed it then he doesn't let on. He just continues to stare down at his hands and it makes her question just how much they're sedating him, and for how long. Slowly she takes a few steps closer to the door, until there's almost no space between her and the slot and she can look right through it at him. Tatsu peeks inside, looking at him closer, as she draws in a long, quiet breath.

"Why?" she says, to him, to no one.

It falls away into the quiet until he stirs slowly.

It happens slowly. Boomerang seems to almost slip out of whatever daze he was in and he slowly begins to glance over at her. It doesn't happen too suddenly, and Tatsu is left waiting while he takes his time. Her gaze stays fixed on him while she waits (curiously, and quietly, and barely there) and she watches him, noticing the way that his shoulders seem bruised and sort of slumped, and she wonders how it's possible that he bruised and injured his own shoulders. But then she considers who he is and she decides that almost anything is possible.

"Holy shit, luv." Boomerang says, finally speaking. "Twice in one day, huh? You're a keen one. And I'm a lucky, lucky man."

Tatsu blinks quickly and feels her forehead start to twist up into a frown. He stares back at her and she waits, and then he waits for her to speak, and for a long time after this they're both quiet.

"So, what's this? Just couldn't resist me, hey?" he says, a few minutes later, then laughs. "At least you ain't like the other ones. 'Spose that's better. Never thought you were like 'em, anyway."

It quietens again and Tatsu really doesn't know what to say, what to do next, or where to begin. It's a little messy, she thinks, because in just a few seconds here with him she knows that something is wrong. The sedation is either too heavy, or it isn't just a drug to sedate him. There's more to it and she knows that because he's talking like she's been here before when she hasn't seen him in weeks.

"The others?" Tatsu asks quietly.

Her voice is quiet as it carries across the room over to him, but it still reaches him. Boomerang laughs again, for a reason that she also doesn't understand. It's something dry and staggered, and it slowly falls quiet. He lifts his head again and seems to lean back against the wall, like now that she's here he isn't interested in starting at the torn flesh of his knuckles, or the thick blood that's dried around the cuts to his hands.

Boomerang looks amused, and he even smiles. It's a lazy, slow smile that tugs on the corners of his lips and forms slowly.

"You talkin' to me this time?" he asks, eyes glued on her. "So quiet before. Weren't you? Didn't say a peep. Just watched me. Like a lil' mouse."

He doesn't say anything for a moment after, then something dawns on him and he's quick to speak again.

"Oh, hey. Hey. Don't go gettin' pissed with me now, darl. I got nothing against mice. And, hey—listen.."

Another pause follows, and after it Boomerang starts to move a little. He says something that Tatsu doesn't quite hear and then she watches as he moves, so he's leaning against the wall now, one shoulder pressed to it with his eyes set on her again. Tatsu notices that he winces ever so slightly, but it passes and that same smile settles on his face. She finds herself considering if it's a smile or a grimace, and then he makes a quiet noise that confirms that it's not just a smile. He makes a low and muffled noise as he leans against the wall that anyone else would miss it, but she doesn't.

She isn't like anyone else. Tatsu's always been aware of everything. All the little things that others miss, she sees. Tatsu always sees them and she knows it is a curse, to be so aware and to carry it always, but she carries it willingly.

"You are hurt."

It's something that he doesn't seem to hear, or if he does then he ignores it, and keeps going with whatever's on his hazy mind.

"There's nothing wrong with the others, you know? But that wasn't what I was saying, was it? Fuck, I know what you can do. I saw it. My point is..."

Boomerang stops again suddenly, then half-smiles at her. As he leans back against the wall more, he laughs a little.

"Well, fuck. I forgot my fuckin' point."

It happens again. Tatsu finds herself drawn to him, to go in there and help him. Her fingers stretch to open the cell but she can't, she doesn't have the key, there's nothing she can do. Her hand reaches to where she could pull the door open but she can't, there's no way in. Not like this, so she begins to think about how she will get inside. Going to Flag directly to ask isn't something that Tatsu believes would actually have a chance at working but it's all she's got, and it's better than breaking their trust and trying something that probably wouldn't end well for either of them.

"I was here before."

He lifts his head up. "Don't have to remind me, luv."

Tatsu hesitates, unsure if she wants to know.

"Who did you talk to?" she asks soon.

"Y'know." Boomerang shrugs. "Those pricks."

And that's it, that's all she gets. It makes her want to go inside again, and soon she realizes that that thought (of wanting to help him, and do something to make sure that he's fine) is accompanied with those same feelings, the ones she carries when she thinks about how she cares for them.

Why? She doesn't know why, she fears she'll never understand why she cares. It's because of what they went through, but it feels like more than that. Boomerang will likely be fine, she knows this, but right now it bothers her that he isn't. It feels difficult too, with the barriers between them. It's difficult to talk to him with the cell door in the way, but she doesn't see that changing right now, so she tries to do the best she can with the situation that they're in.

"Are you hurt?" Tatsu asks quietly. "What happened?"

It seems to fly right past him again, like he doesn't hear it, or maybe he chooses not to hear it. Then she considers that maybe he's not here at all anymore. It could be that whatever they've put him on is still in his system. Clearly it is, since this is the first time she's seen him since that night and he's talking to her now like it's their second visit.

"Are you hearing me?"

"Yeah? Clearly I'm hearin' you." he scoffs. "What about you? Are you hearin' me?"

Tatsu considers her options briefly, on what she can do and how she can help him. She doesn't want to leave him until she's assessed the situation and his physical condition, and after that she decides that she'll go to Flag. Beyond that, she doesn't have much planned as to what she'll do but Tatsu doesn't concern herself with that yet. It can wait until later.

"Come here."

Boomerang's smile still sort of hangs there, growing slowly as he watches her.

"Huh?"

Tatsu sighs. "Come over here."

Again, it seems to make little sense to him. It amuses him, more than anything.

"I'm right here, darl. Where are you?"

It frustrates her. Despite whatever she's feeling for him right now, whatever sympathy she might feel for the state that he's currently in, Tatsu finds herself still growing frustrated by him. It's difficult not to be irritated by him, she learned this long ago, but it's not just Boomerang that she's frustrated with. Tatsu also finds herself frustrated by her inability to do something about this. She wants to do more but they're stuck on other sides of the door, and right now she's fairly sure that Boomerang thinks she's just in his head.

He doesn't seem fine to her right now, not like the others. It's probably because of the drugs he's on for his sedation, but she still doesn't like it. Tatsu trusts Flag, she respects him, and knows she will always protect him. It's Waller that she's heard the stories about. She's ruthless and determined, and what Tatsu is looking at right now reads like punishment: Boomerang is the only one in solitary confinement, out of the rest of the group. He's sedated, hurt, and totally isolated. And while most of his injuries could be his own doing, there are some that she doubts he could or would do to himself. It leaves her questioning many things, even if she knows that maybe she shouldn't.

She's read his file, she knows what he can do, and fits of rage aren't exactly out of character for him. Tatsu can see him throwing himself at the wall, begging to be let out, and punching at things until his knuckles bleed. She can see that happening, and she can picture his frustration building to the point where he needs sedation, but it feels like there's more to it all than this. She doesn't know why it feels this way but it does, and if there is more to it then she's determined to work out what it is.

"Gone quiet again on me, huh? Damn. Just when I was gettin' used to yer voice again."

Tatsu stares at him for a moment, then speaks.

"How long have you been here?"

He sighs. "Too fuckin' long."

"In solitary confinement, I mean."

Boomerang considers this for a while, eyes roaming across the inside of his dirty little cell before he looks back at her.

"Don't know." he ends up saying. "Like I just said, too fuckin' long."

She waits again, for answers she knows she probably isn't going to receive, and for a confirmation that he's okay which she's almost certain that she isn't going to get today. So Tatsu continues to watch him until she speaks again.

"Can you do something for me?"

Her voice is quiet but there's nothing else in the space between them, so it lingers in the quiet until it passes. And then Tatsu is left to watches as Boomerang stands up from his spot on the ground. He moves slowly and she catches a few muffled noises from him, and then nothing. He takes a step over to the door, stops a minute later, and releases a heavy sigh. And as he stands there she notices it. She notices that there's something off and unsteady about his movements, along with the way his words sound. It doesn't feel right, and it leaves her feeling like there's still more to this than what they've told her.

"Ya want me to do something, Katana? For you?"

"Can you?"

It's not much, not really. Tatsu just wants to ask him to come over here, to come closer and allow her to take a better look at his injuries so she might at least feel like she's done something for him today. But she hasn't, and it weighs on her to know that she's caught up in this now. Because of him, for him. It doesn't matter, she's tied to it now, because she knows that if she walks away without doing something today it will stay with her, and if she does something about it then it will still stay with her. It's impossible, either way it stays with her in ways she wishes it wouldn't.

Tired suddenly, Tatsu sighs. "Can you?"

"You want me to do something for you." he repeats, then takes another three or four steps closer. "That's funny. 'Cos I kept askin' you, and askin', and you wouldn't do nothin' for me. Wouldn't fuckin' do it, would ya?"

His tone changes. Suddenly, quickly. It takes one look at Boomerang for her to know that he's pissed, and she doesn't know why because she's missing something important. It's something that's only in his head, and he won't share it with her. And then he looks at her through the slot on the door again and on the outside of the door she stretches her hand to it, ready to close it, because it feels like this is over now. But she doesn't walk away yet.

Tatsu waits and watches as he continues. Words still drawn out and slow, but angrier and heavier now. She doesn't understand what he wants or what's going on in his head, but when she watches him she almost does. Tatsu knows what he's been longing for, what he's been asking the faces in his head for, so she doesn't ask him. She almost asks, but she silences it and leaves him to do the talking for now.

"Fair's fair. Ain't it? You want me to do something for you? Then you do something for me. And listen, after that I'll do whatever the fuck it is ya want me to do."

What do you want from me? Tatsu is so close to asking, but she doesn't because she knows. It's what they all want, and it's something that Boomerang has never been able to conceal well. He's easier to read than he believes, and Tatsu's never had much difficulty reading him. What he longs for is clear, it always is. It's painted over his face, in an obvious and uncaring way. Blended in with the rage, and the smiles, and the bruises that always seem to be scattered over his face, it's there. And it's something that's much stronger now, much clearer than it's ever been, because of whatever drugs they've given him. Boomerang wants one thing. He wants to get out. It's why he screams at the guards, and it's why he runs at the door half a second later, when she can't give him what he wants.

Tatsu closes the slot on the door when he runs at it. It's a weak attempt on his side, it sounds like he hits the door badly, then messily slides down. And then there's nothing, and she's left to think about him. This is him, this is the man she's read the files on and seen in action. She knows that he carries a rage with him, but at the same time she knows this is what they've done to him. She knows what he wants, despite it all. It's what they all want, but what she knows they'll never have, not like the once did and not the way they long for it.

On the other side of the closed cell door, Boomerang suddenly jumps back up and starts banging on the door. It's all loud and heavy, and even though his screaming is muffled by the closed latch, she still hears him. He hits the door three more times, shouting at them, before he quickly falls silent again. When it's over, his words stay with her;  just like those other fuckin' pricks, that just stand there. And do nothing! They do nothing.

After this, it remains quiet and in it she is left to think about what he wants. He wants to be free. They all do, but it isn't as simple as that. Not for people like them, controlled by someone like Agent Waller. They're the kind of people who will never know the freedom they once had. Not to the same extent, and not in the way they crave it. This she knows, and on some level she thinks they all know it, too. She understands it in her own way, what it's like to miss something so badly that she aches and cries for it.

She also knows what it is like to change; she will never be who she once was. She will never be free like she was, she will never be weightless or light. She is tainted too, in her own way, and in some way she thinks they see this in her.

They're mirrors of each other. With a few very big differences, of course, but the similarities remain. This is it, this is the reason why. It's the unexplainable reason, the connection to them, and the pull she occasionally feels. It's more than just their shared longing to be free, but this is one of the reasons why and she sees it now. They are all trapped in this world together, and now she is trapped here in his world—with a choice to make, and a quiet echo of his words replaying in her head, over and over again.

I'm right here, darl. Where are you?

Chapter Text

She still doesn't really know why she's doing this for them, and it quickly becomes clear to Tatsu that somehow Colonel Flag is even more confused about this whole situation than she is. Half a minute passes between them while Flag takes in it. He stares at her while he thinks about it, and he blinks a lot, while he takes the time to understand why she's asking him what she is. This doesn't last for too long, but while it does it's easy for Tatsu to read Flag. It's also pretty hard for him to not express what he's feeling. It's all over his face, even though he's obviously fighting at keeping it off.

In this quiet moment with the Colonel, while he continues trying to gather his thoughts and find the words (or any words at all) she is left to her thoughts. Tatsu spends the time thinking about why she's doing this, and the more that she thinks about it the more that she knows she's not just doing it for the Captain. It is for him, but at the same time it isn't. It's for their team, and in a way that means it's also for her.

Tatsu rationalizes it as this: Chato Santana died for something, he died for them. It's more than that. She knows that she barely knew him, but it doesn't change the way she sees it. He died so life could go on, so their lives could go on. He wanted them to keep living, and to live the way that Santana wanted them to they need to survive. They deserve to survive better than they are right now, and at the moment it's mostly Boomerang's situation that she finds herself concerned with. So this is why, and she reminds herself of this quietly, while Flag continues to search her eyes for answers or reason. He doesn't find it, she doesn't allow him to, so he is left with almost nothing.

She never lets anyone read her, not even Flag. It exposes her weakness when she lets people in, and weaknesses are used and exploited by people like Agent Waller, who learn to use weaknesses to their advantage. This whole situation with the Task Force exposes Tatsu in a way that she's not comfortable with. Her feelings towards this team are changed and now they're exposed, like an open wound. It's too dangerous to share with anyone, even Flag, so she holds it close and keeps it only to herself. It's safer this way, for herself and for them.

"Sorry, say that one more time. I don't think I'm hearing this right, Katana. Can you say it again?" Flag says soon, gaze stuck on her. "You want to go against Waller's strict orders of no visitation inside cells, even though you know what her punishment looks like. And you don't just want to go into anyone's cell. No, it can't be Croc or even Lawton. It has to be Boomerang. Is this what you're saying to me right now?"

"Yes."

Flag doesn't seem all that surprised, but he needs a minute to think about it again, so she leaves it to him and watches as he thinks it over. Then his eyes brighten like he's suddenly worked it all out.

"Alright, I get it. I think I understand what you're saying now." he says, then pauses and takes a step closer. "You want to kill him. Right? That's what this is. You want to get into his cell to kill him."

Once, she might have killed him, Tatsu considers it briefly and almost confirms it to the Colonel. It's always going to be there, that part of her that will want to stop them through whatever means necessary if the situation requires her to stop them. This includes Boomerang, who is very clearly the most irritating of them all. She already feels it, that he's going to be the one she'll be asked to put down, by Flag or Waller when he goes rogue. It's something that feels like it's only a matter of time, like it's an inevitable end. But it's not what this is about now, it's not about stopping him now. It's about keeping him alive, and attempting to slow his rage to stop it from spiralling into something worse—something heavy and dangerous that they might not be able to control.

"No, that's not what this is." she says soon.

This only confuses Flag further. 

"So, what? You want to visit Boomerang? That's what this is?"

Then his face slowly twists into something heavy and unreadable, but she knows. Tatsu reads it. Flag doesn't understand why she wants this, and she knows why he's thinking that, because it's something that she doesn't completely understand either. It's not a decision that she's made lightly; really, the Captain is the last one out of all of them she would choose to spend time with. It's why she scheduled his visit to be the last one of the day, so it would be over quickly. But things are different now, and this is the situation that they're in. They're in it because they have to be, but she's tangled up in it because of what she feels she must do. She is here because she chooses to be, even though she knows she could walk away from Belle Reve today and never look back.

Tatsu chooses not to walk away today.

"Why are they sedating him so heavily?"

Stern, and still looking weary, Flag hesitates and spends another minute thinking it over. After a while he signs and slowly folds his arms across his chest.

"I already told you, didn't I? It's Boomerang, it's not like it needs much explanation beyond that. You've seen what he was like, you've seen what he can do. My guess is that they're doing what's required."

Tatsu's jaw tightens, then it passes.

"I have seen him, Flag. It is not as simple as sedation. I believe he hallucinated me. He is either too heavily sedated, or they are not just sedating him." she says, watching him closely. "It is changing his reality, Colonel. And it is very obvious. Is this something you missed when monitoring his cell, every minute of the day?"

"Listen, Katana, I don't make it a habit to watch these assholes every minute of the day. They've got other people doing that. And look, it's not like you haven't read Boomerang's file. You know him, you know all of them from what you've read, and what you've seen them do. They're a group of unstable individuals. All of them. Including Boomerang. No, wait—especially him. It isn't exactly concerning that he thinks you visited him before. Is it? They're not sane individuals. I'm telling you, this is a waste of time."

"I still insist on seeing him again."

Flag barely considers it. "I don't understand why you want this, but even if I did I couldn't say yes. I'm not in a position to authorize that. I'm sorry, but it's not my job." he explains, with a small shrug of his shoulders. "Look, I think you're concerning yourself with something that really doesn't matter. He's fine, Katana."

"But he isn't, and I've seen it." she pushes, closer now. "He isn't well. Something is wrong."

"From what I've heard, he's fine. Why would they lie? What would they gain from that?"

Tatsu hesitates, thinking it over for a moment. "Can I ask you something else?"

He nods swiftly. "Yeah, sure. What is it?"

"You believed I was here to kill the Captain, yes?"

"Uh-huh. Yeah. Maybe for a moment there I did think that." Flag pauses, running a hand along his jaw. "And as appealing as it might have seemed, I couldn't let you do it even if I really wanted to. What's your point?"

She stays still, watching Flag quietly for the moment before she speaks again.

"Do you really think I would need to be in his cell to kill him?"

Flag blinks. Twice. Then steps closer. "Wait, so you are here to kill him?"

"I am sure Agent Waller has a file about me, like she has on them. I also know that you are aware of what I can do." she says soon. "I am here asking you to visit him because I am following your rules. I respect them and you, and I intend to follow the rules while I am here. But I do not need to, and that is what I am saying. I don't want to bend them unless I have to, and even then that is not something I would wish to do. But I will do it, if I have to."

Something brief flickers over Flag's face, that almost resembles understanding. But his eyes tell her that he's still against this.

"I get it, okay? I get what you're saying, of course I do. But like I already told you, even if I wanted to do something I couldn't. Even if there was a part of me that really believed you wanted to kill Boomerang, and I really wouldn't miss that asshole—I just can't. You know what Waller's instructions are. We can't go against her orders."

Somehow Tatsu already knows she will end up regretting her next words. It's a decision that requires more thought than what she gives it in the few passing seconds before she shares it with Flag, but it feels like they're running out of time and this is her only choice.

"What if I were to make a deal with Agent Waller?"

And there it is. They're back to the start, with Flag being confused again, only this time it's worse. Flag looks like he's never been more confused in his life than he is right now.

"What do you mean? What kinda deal?" he asks quietly. "You're already with us on the Task Force. I don't see what other deal you can make with her."

"In the future there may come a time when you require me beyond the missions of Task Force X. I am not like them. They are covert—something to be taken from the shadows when needed and thrown away when not. I do not need to hide in the shadows, and I am not locked away with a key when the missions are done. My services are here, and I will offer them outside of the Task Force."

He still struggles with it. "In exchange for, what? Visitation, with Boomerang? Are you really sure that it would be worth it? It really doesn't seem like you're getting much from this when you put it that way."

"I have a few other requests beyond visitation with the Captain."

Flag seems ready to walk away. He even takes a few steps away from her but he stays, because it's her, because he can see it means something to her.

"As much as I would love to stand here and continue trying to understand why it is you suddenly give a damn about these people, I can't. I don't have the authority to make the deal you're asking for. And honestly, I don't even want to know what else you're going to ask for. There's nothing I can do."

Her gaze follows him. "Nothing?"

"Yeah. There's nothing I can do without Waller's say so. And you know that." Flag says. Then, he waves a hand up in the air and starts to walk away. "You already know all of this, Katana. You just have to learn to let it go. It's easy, trust me."

"If you can't help me then I want you to put me in contact with Waller."

He stops walking, and for a minute after it's quiet. Then he turns back slowly, and for the first time his gaze is almost too difficult to read. Still, pieces slip through. He's still lost, he doesn't really get why she wants to do this, but there's more to it. He doesn't want this for her, he wants her to stay away from Waller and her deals, and they both know why.

"Why? Why are you doing this? I don't understand why you'd want to do this, for them of all people. You know who Waller is. You've seen what happened when she gets pissed off. Your new buddy is proof of that. So tell me, why would you risk that? You're smart, and I know that you understand this. You know what Waller's capable of. She won't go for this if it doesn't benefit for her. And if it does benefit her, then it's something you don't want to go for."

Tatsu slowly steps closer. "It isn't a risk for me."

"Why do you think Boomerang's the only one in solitary? Or, if they're sedating him like you say—why do you think it's too much? Think about why this is happening to just him. You were there after.." Flag stops, only for a moment. "You were there after June came back. I know you heard what he said to Waller. We both understand why what's happening to him is happening, and the best thing we can do is walk away. Let him ride it out. He's tough, we know that. And Waller's not the type to forgive easily, since he really pissed her off. All we can do is wait until she gets over it."

She thinks back to the city now. Back to the aliens, the bodies, and all of that destruction. Tatsu thinks of the chaos, and the way they fought, and she's not sure she knows what they deserve but it isn't this.

"We saved the world that night. You don't think he deserves more than this?"

"Yeah, I don't know. I honestly don't know. I read his file and I know what I think he deserves. Doesn't mean I think it's this, but I don't have much say in this. Do I?" Flag sighs, words much quieter now. "All I know is what Waller reports back. They say he's going into fits of rage daily and that's why they're sedating him. He's not my priority to visit every day. I leave that to my men on the ground here to deal with."

Between them, it feels different and in the quiet Tatsu's mind stirs with thoughts. Voices echo in her mind, and they won't leave her alone. It's inescapable, and despite how hard she pushes them away they keep coming back.

"I understand that you are busy. But have you forgotten that they are a part of our team? Yes, they are expendable. But they are also dangerous." she says, taking a few steps closer. "I assume we will have to work with them in future missions. This includes the Captain. If they are not treated well now, especially him, I do not see how this is going to benefit us, or anyone else, on our missions. They are expendable to Waller, but they are also valuable. I assume this is something you are already aware of."

Still seeming tired, Flag combs a hand across his face slowly. It falls away a moment later, to reveal a heavy frown.

"Yeah, you're right. Of course you're right. I get it, and trust me I've thought about it. More than you might think. But it's still not my call. The most I can do is speak to Waller, I can't do more than that. It's her team. I just run them when we're on the ground, and I'll be the one that has to kick their asses back in line when they get over their new toys."

Tatsu waits. "You will bring the deal to Waller?"

It makes Flag smile, sort of. "No, you can do that. You want this so badly? Go for it. I'll set up a time for you to meet with her then you're on your own with your deal. It's on you what happens here, Katana, and I know you can handle it. Even if I don't really know why you care at all, I know you can handle it."

It's like Tatsu knows again somehow, what she's going to say before the words are even pulled together, and once again it's like she's aware that it's something that she really should consider before voicing it to Flag but it's too late. It happens and it's almost like she hears it before she realizes what's been said. It's not a comfortable feeling to have, to feel like she's not in complete control of what she voices and what she doesn't. It's something she decides that she'll have to work on later, because this isn't about her now. It's about them.

"I would like to meet with Agent Waller today."

Flag laughs a little. "Impossible. Last I heard, she was in the city. You won't catch her for a few days, at least."

"A phone-call, then."

"Ahh, Katana. Why?"

He steps closer again suddenly, and with the way his gaze lingers on her in the quiet she knows that he's trying to get a read on her. It quickly becomes clear that he can't, so he gives up and looks back to her, eyes still heavy with confusion. Or maybe it's something else, something that he's hiding from her.

"I don't understand why you're doing this. Not at all. I said I'd talk to her, but you want it to be today. Why? Why are you pushing this so hard?"

Tatsu doesn't hesitate, she knows the answer, she's known it since the mission in Midway.

"Because I am a part of this team," she explains. "And I am forced to think about them as they are of me."

"I think you're giving them far too much credit here. They don't care about anyone else. Lawton is maybe the exception. But the others? They don't care, not in the way you think they do. The only reason they give a shit about you or about me is because they know if we die then they die. That's all it is to them. All we are is a way for them to keep living a little longer."

"Please, put a call through to Waller. If it does not work, I'll leave it. And if it does, I will not ask for more from you."

Once again, Flag shakes his head like he's going to walk away. It's different though, because this time it seems like he's actually considering what she's saying. There's a look on his face now that tells her that she's asking too much, but then he agrees with her and she knows that he gets it.

"Okay, but only if you tell me what the other terms are first. I'm not putting you through to Waller, only to have you piss her off with whatever else you're after. Then she'll come for me when she's done with you. So go on, tell me what else you're asking for."

"Books for Harley."

"Really? Books?" his face falls flat. "What, she's reading now? She wants more books? Or, more likely she needs paper for that fire she's probably gonna start one day?"

Tatsu doesn't dwell on it. "Books. And two other things."

"Alright, let's hear them."

"Floyd is allowed a phone-call to his daughter, once a week at least, when he is here and not on missions. Or, when he can't get to the visitations in—"

"No, absolutely not." Flag's voice silences her. "Waller will not go for that. It's asking too much from her."

Books and phone-calls do not seem like too much, she almost says, but doesn't. There are always some things better left unsaid, and this is one of them. 

"The last request is an hour outside a week for all of them."

Flag thinks it over, just briefly. "You want me to ask Waller to put the four of them back together. Outside. In a confined space. For an hour a week. Together. Are you really saying this to me right now?"

"You will not be asking, Colonel. I will ask her."

"Katana, you know what your best case scenario is right now?" Flag begins, pausing just to sigh a little. "It's that you don't piss her off enough for her to kick you out."

"I can do what I do outside of the Task Force but you cannot know with certainty that you will continue so well without me, or that you will manage the others without me there."

Tatsu hesitates again. You need me, she thinks, but silences the thought because it isn't something that needs to be said. It's already clear to them, it's always been clear to Flag. He understands her as well as she allows him to, and she sees the respect he carries for her. There's nothing but respect there. And she's only ever been loyal to Flag. She respects him, and will always remain loyal to him even if it seems like she's asking for a deal that will benefit the other members of the Task Force. It's something that she's trying to do for him too, because she knows what this could achieve.

It could calm Boomerang's rage and settle the others (not for long, because she's aware that they're not the type of people to be permanently settled). This will give them something more to look forward to, and it will certainly give them something to think of when they're out on a mission and they're given a choice. The same kind of choice they were all give that night. It's only a matter of time before they're put in a situation like that again, and Katana wants all of them to be prepared for it. That includes Flag. She's trying to look out for them and herself at the same time.

"I'm not trying to put you into a difficult position here." she explains quietly. "I'm only thinking about the future of this group. You know there will be a future, as do I. We must think logically."

"Shit."

Flag sighs and then raises an eyebrow at her, but it still seems like he finally gets it now, or like he always has but he's been trying to fight it. He knows that she's right, and she sees it all over his face now.

"Alright, just don't forget this was your idea if it all goes wrong." he tells her. "I trust you, Katana. You had my back, you always have. That's the only reason I'm doing this. I'm not doing it for that asshole, or for any of them. But I get where all of this is coming from, and I understand why you're here talking to me about it. This may be for them, but I'm doing it for you."

Silence floods back in. Briefly and heavily. It gives Tatsu an opportunity to study Flag's face one more time. She sees underneath the roughness and the exterior that he keeps up around him, like a guard, like his own armor.

Beneath his immense dislike for the other individuals in their group, something has changed in him too. It isn't something noticeable or obvious at all to anyone else, and Tatsu isn't sure that even he fully understands it, but she sees it in him. He changed the night June lived and Santana died. Tatsu's not sure that he cares about them, but it's something and it's there. And she almost feels glad to know that she isn't completely alone in this.

He's walking away before Tatsu realizes it, but he stops half-way and turns back to her before he disappears again.

"Forget about calling Waller, it's better that I do it. I'll make the call." Flag calls back  "I'll do it when her business in the city's over. Then I'll let you know. So before you go, let me know if you have any other requests that I'm gonna be taking to Waller. I'll be around if you need me."

 

**

 

Tatsu's always prided herself on how good she is at reading people, and Amanda Waller is no exception. She sees her just as she is; determined, hard-working, manipulative, and ruthless. Agent Waller is all of these things and so much more, especially when it comes to getting the job done. Something that Tatsu learns again about Agent Waller is that she's an opportunist. She remembers this when she's on her way to Gotham after leaving Belle Reve and she receives a call. It comes in from Colonel Flag, who contacts her to deliver message from Waller: yes.

Agent Waller's answer is yes.

The deal's on. With conditions, of course, because it's Waller and she's not going to make a deal that she doesn't benefit from—but it's on, and it's another moment where Tatsu and Flag find themselves sharing the same confusion as earlier. It's not a situation that they expected to find themselves in, but here they are now. Flag calls to tell her Waller's answer and to then inform her of Waller's conditions, because there were always going to be conditions with this kind of deal. 

The first thing Flag tells her is that Waller has granted them thirty minutes of yard time a week. It's not an hour, but it's better than no yard time. He explains that before their missions they were all considered too dangerous and volatile to be outside, and even though they're exactly who they were before the mission, Waller is giving this so they'll see it goes both ways. She wants them to know that she can give and she can take. Now they'll receive half an hour a week outside with the possibility of more time depending on their behavior in and out of the missions. Yard time is optional, not forced, and Flag explains that he's not sure Croc will even be interested in this but now they have a choice, all because of her.

He explains to her that there are also conditions to their time in the yard. The four of them aren't allowed to be outside in the same, designated space together at the same time. It's too risky, so Waller split them up. Floyd and Harley are allowed to spend their thirty minutes in the yard together, in a guarded, confined space. Then, Croc will be out there with Boomerang because in Waller's opinion these individuals are the least likely to start something chaotic with each other. But Tatsu reads through this for exactly what it is—another opportunity for Waller.

It's an opportunity for Waller to place the notoriously irritating, unpredictable, and volatile Captain into a confined space with Waylon. She knows that Croc doesn't actually mind Boomerang all that much, but she also knows that he's not likely to hesitate in reacting if Boomerang starts something or annoys him (which he's very, very likely to do) If needed, Waylon will put Boomerang right back into his place and they all know that. It all reads like another way for Waller to remind Boomerang of who he is and what he is in here, under Waller's control. He's no-one, and he means nothing.

Flag proceeds to tell her about the rest of the deal next, which at least distracts her from her thoughts of the Captain. She learns that Floyd's calls with his daughter have been granted in the down time between missions and when he can't go to visitation. The only condition is an obvious one and it's one that she's sure Floyd already knows: He can't talk about missions, the prison, and he can't mention anything specific about the Task Force and the work they do. That's it, and she knows it will be easy for him to abide to this rule because the last thing he wants to talk to his daughter about is any of this.

She learns after this that Harley's request for books has also been granted, with the condition that she never have too many in her cell at once, as if the books and not the espresso machine are going to be the problem. Then, Waller surprises her and does the unexpected. She agrees to provide them with any other minor items and request they might have, including better food. Better than the loaf that Floyd's been complaining about, at least. Waller is also considering improving their sleeping arrangements and possibly giving them a mattress for the concrete slabs they call their beds. This apparently also happens to be something that Floyd has complained about, Flag tells her. Once or twice, or maybe thirty times. He's mentioned it a lot, and because of this it's something Waller says she'll consider.

So far the conditions seem reasonable, and Waller's willingness to agree to the terms is unexpected, to say the least. Then it reaches Boomerang's and it's no surprise when he's denied time outside of his cell. Flag informs her that Waller is keeping him in solitary because it's called what it is for a reason. It's solitary, there's no break from it, not for him yet anyway. Waller insists that the Captain will remain where he is until she's satisfied with the time he's spent in there, and until she believes he's less of a risk to himself and to those around him.

Tatsu isn't sure that Boomerang's ever going to stop being a risk to himself or those around him, but she says nothing and stays quiet as Flag goes on. The next request for Boomerang, that he be taken from solitary and given the opportunity to use the showers, is also denied by Waller, who believes that his fits of rage and violence are too much of a risk to the others, Including the guards, who he's already taken out his anger on.

Agent Waller agrees to give Boomerang the means to clean himself in his cell (a paper bowl filled with water, a bar of soap, and a few cloths) but that's all. It only confirms to Tatsu once again that Waller's afraid. Not of Boomerang himself, not really, because Waller's a very powerful agent and there's no possible situation where Boomerang could ever be a real threat to her and walk away from it. No, it seems that Waller is concerned with the chaos that he could potentially bring to himself and those around him. She feels that this is why Waller's keeping him there, not just to show him who she is and what she can do, but because she knows he's powerful in his own way.

That just leaves Tatsu's last request to be answered. She expects it to be denied, but it isn't. It's perhaps the most surprising reveal of all, when she learns that Waller has granted Tatsu's request to visitation inside of Boomerang's cell. She offers the visitation to her, giving her the flexibility to visit when she wishes along with continued visitation with the other inmates, with three conditions that must be strictly followed. The conditions are that:

1) Tatsu will pass on any and all information that may indicate disobedience or rebellion from the inmates.

2) From now on Tatsu will not attempt to involve herself in situations at Belle Reve. (Including, but not limited to, situations involving the Captain and his treatment, sedation, and time spent in solitary confinement) since, according to Waller, she does not understand the complexities of the situation.

3) She will assist and complete all requested missions outside of the Task Force, and will not divulge any information about this, or any information gathered on these missions, to anyone except Agent Waller. She will also deny any involvement in these missions, and will only speak to those cleared about it.

That's it. Those are her conditions, and for what she gets from them she believes she will make the right call. But Flag is less convinced. He asks her to think about it. Not just to consider it, but to really think about what it will mean if she agrees to it. Then he tells her that he'll see her when she returns to Belle Reve in two days and they can talk then. And although Tatsu is almost sure what her answer is going to be, she promises Flag she'll think about it before making any decisions. Their call ends after that and she is left to the quiet of the helicopter and the thoughts that hang heavy in her mind.

There's a part of Tatsu that feels conflicted and uncertain about all of this right now, she can't help it and the way it lingers. It's the part of her doesn't want to say yes to these terms just yet because she's not sure she likes all of Waller's conditions. Particularly the ones involving Boomerang. But then she considers it and wonders if she'll ever get more than this for him, and if it's Waller's plan to expect her to refuse. She still wants to see Boomerang. It's more like she needs to see him because of how they're treating him, and because of what she feels. It's just that she doesn't know why it feels like she has to be the one to see him.

She knows her answer is yes. The rational, clear-thinking part of her knows that this is the smart decision. Taking the deal now with the agreements that are in place is the best option for all of them so she'll take it, and she'll follow the conditions set out by Waller as best as she can because it's what she needs to do, and it gives them all something. It gives the four at Belle Reve the opportunity to spend time together. It will give them a possibility of better food, Harley will get her books, and Floyd will receive calls with his daughter. It's more than what they had before, and that means something.

It just leaves Boomerang with almost nothing again. She's not sure what exactly he'll think he gets from this, but it almost feels like it's nothing, or like it's not enough. He isn't allowed out of solitary yet, he's been denied showers and will have to clean himself in his cell, and he isn't allowed yard time. But he gets visitation with her and maybe that's something. She considers that it might mean nothing to him, but she supposes that it doesn't really matter if he sees it that way because it gives him the opportunity to improve his situation.

Tatsu isn't convinced that Boomerang's actually behaving any worse than he was before they took him out of here, but she decides that it's not worth pushing right now—what's done is done and it's best to leave it with the way things are now. Perhaps it will be worth approaching at a later time to reconsider certain parts of the agreement, but at the moment it isn't worth the risk so Tatsu leaves it.

It's enough for now, with the way things are. Floyd gets his calls, Harley will receive her books, and Waylon will remain completely pleased with his TV and his alcohol. They'll get yard time, too. It's more than they had before, and it will be good for them to see each other. That thought makes her think of them, and then it makes her think back to the city and the small things she noticed, like the bond between Harley and Floyd. Something quiet and unimposing, but complex and there. It's clear to her now after her conversation with Harley that she needs someone to talk to. Someone that's good for her. That's Floyd. She thinks it could be good for him, too. They can talk about drawings, and espresso machines, and whatever new books Harley reads. The way Tatsu sees it all, the deal is something they all benefit from. Including Waller and Flag. Improving their lives here will hopefully improve the missions and make things easier for all of them.

They're all still criminals, but they're also people. People with memories and pasts, and souls. They have needs and feelings, and they have friends. Tatsu isn't sure about much when it comes to them. She doesn't know what their souls are made of, but they are made of something.

It feels unbalanced when she thinks about things like this for too long. It's almost like it tips her, back and forth, between what she feels and what she thinks she should feel. Sometimes it's clear but mostly it's hidden, and it leaves her with questions—if she could run from this, would she? And if she really wanted to run, wouldn't she have done so already?

In just two days she'll be back there. Back at Belle Reve, back with them, in a place that she really doesn't want to be in, visiting someone who's definitely not her first choice to visit there, or anywhere really. But it is what it is. She wants to see him still, just to know how he's being treated. There's a small, quiet feeling that's barely there in her chest, and it's concerned for him and how he'll be treated after this. It's the same part of her that worries how this deal might make things worse for him, inadvertently. She's concerned about it and about Waller's intentions, because now Waller knows Tatsu noticed Boomerang's treatment here and she knows that she doesn't like it. She worries quietly about him now, she worries that this will make things worse for him. It makes her want to keep coming back to see him because of this, even if he's not the first person she wants to see here. It's why she'll come back.

For a while, Tatsu sits and thinks of him. In a quiet kind of way, where she wonders if they're still sedating him right now, or if they'll leave him now that there's a deal with Waller. It's something that Tatsu thinks about for a while, and she knows there's nothing that she can do about it tonight. It's just one more thing she will have to face when she returns to see him. And after that, she'll face whatever follows. That includes the missions that wait for her outside of the Task Force, now that she's agreed to Waller's terms.

Tatsu knows that they need her. She knows it in a way that isn't conceited or over-confident. It's simple, really. They require someone with her skills and morals to do what needs to be done. They don't necessarily need her, it's more that they need her skills. Tatsu knows what they need her to be; they need her to be a shadow, with no conscience, and a sharp blade in her hand to do what they need her to. To save lives by taking the bad ones. Waller knows this and she appreciates just how valuable Tatsu is to them.

Agent Waller always knows more than she lets on. It makes Tatsu almost question her involvement in this now, and just how far Waller will ask her to go now because of this deal. Waller's an opportunist, this Tatsu knows and has seen, and now she finds herself thinking of Waller's involvement in this deal and if this was her intention from the beginning. She wonders if it was Waller's intention to show her the conditions that they lived in here and to have them voice their quiet longings of what they need and miss (things like books, and phone-calls, and someone to talk to) while fully knowing that Tatsu would respond this way. She wonders if Waller knows that she's compromised in her own kind of way, by the connection that she feels to them from that night. Tatsu then thinks about the possibility of Waller knowing this from the start and using it against Tatsu to secure her skills on new missions. This deal achieves that. It puts her right there for Waller's use, and she wonders if she hasn't just given her exactly what she wanted.

Tatsu accepts this too, somehow. Whatever it is, she accepts it and then lets it go. There's no other choice. She's here in this position because she put herself here, and sometimes it's easier to let it go then it is to try to fight something she isn't going to win.

Alright, just don't forget this was your idea if it all goes wrong, she suddenly recalls Flag saying earlier. His words are clear and fresh in her memory, and they remain with her, quietly there as she thinks about what she has agreed to and what is to come. All we are is a way for them to keep living a little longer.

Predictably, Boomerang's voice seems to follow those thoughts. It's an echo in her memory. Faintly there, but close enough for Tatsu to relieve it like it's happening again. She relives all of it—and not just the tired, sedated, strange state he was in the last time she saw him—she sees his honesty, that she swears she caught in those few moments. It's small and rare, in his words, but she catches it. It's right there with the quiet desire to be free.

I'm right here, darl. Where are you?

Tatsu's eyes shut briefly and she's left thinking about it. She thinks over the situation that they're in right now, and then she thinks of them back in the penitentiary. She's not sure that they care, or if they even consider her the same way that she considers them, as someone worth making a deal for. Someone worth putting themselves out there on the line for. Tatsu doesn't know what they think of her exactly or how they see her, and she doesn't expect to learn it anytime soon. But she still thinks about it. Her feelings on this, and her clouded thoughts and emotions, are all twisted up and messy, but they're still hers. Just hers. To hold on to, and quieten, and question sometimes, and she doesn't plan on sharing them with anyone else. So she doesn't expect them to share theirs with her.

She expects nothing from, except one thing and that's for them to try out there. She wants just the one thing from them, for them to try to be a team on their future missions. There's nothing else she asks from them, nothing at all, and she's not sure if she'll end up regretting it but she decides that it's probably something that time will reveal to her. She only hopes that it will be all worth something in the end.

Chapter Text

In her dreams, she sees a fire.

Tatsu dreams of a fire in the city. It's wild and covers her skin, and it always feels like it's there, following her around. Tonight it's a different kind of dream. Different from the waves of red that climb up around her. It's unlike any dream she's ever had before, and that's because tonight they're here with her. And she isn't home. She doesn't have a home anymore, not in her reality, and tonight in her dreams her home is hone again. It vanishes, along with the fire that crept up around her. It burns away slowly, and then fades into the landscape of a dark city where there's only ash and rubble left.

She finds herself in a city swarmed with aliens and glowing with electricity and lights. And now they're here with her, too. They often come to her as shadows, or empty bodies without faces, but tonight they look as real as they sound. Their voices are changed, darker too, and strange, but they are still theirs. She watches on as buildings crash and fall around them, and in the distance Tatsu swears she can see the silhouettes of butterflies across the buildings that remain standing for now. They sound like helicopters, but to her their shadows look like butterflies. They disappear before Tatsu can see them for what they are, and then the buildings that remain begin to collapse and fall again.

One building falls, soon followed by another. There's nothing she can do, it's like she's just there to watch. The sky continues to burn red around her, and as it does it reminds her of a painting. A raw, fresh canvas, dripping red, and she is lost in it until her gaze settles on the bodies scattered around them. She doesn't know why she walks to them but she does. Tatsu walks to them soon, feeling as if something is pulling her to a spot in the city. And then slowly, they come back to her.

Colonel Flag looks exactly as he did that night. At first, he's still. He doesn't move at all, and then he does. He steps closer, and it suddenly seems like a spark brings him back to life. He's revived, in a way. Flag moves from the ground slowly, coming to stand across from her. He's dressed in the same gear that he was wearing that night, holding the same gun just like he was then, only this time in his left hand he's holding a heart. But it isn't the heart of the Enchantress that he's holding.

It's not black, or faded green. It isn't hers. It's fresh, and red, and the blood trickles down his wrist—and it's his. It only takes her one more look at him to know that he's holding his own heart in his hand. His chest is opened up, she sees it now. There's a fresh, jagged cut to his chest, and she almost can't look away. When she does manage to tear her eyes away, she finds herself drawn back to Flag. He's just staring at her, still holding on to the heart, like he's going to crush it in his hand, or like he's waiting for her to do something. She can't. Tatsu can only stare at him, and at him, while she feels herself longing to help. She can't. His heart isn't beating anymore. She realizes this soon. She wants to take it from him and revive it, she wants to save him, but she can't. She still can't move yet.

Around the two of them, it stays cold as the battle goes on and continues to tear apart the city. Explosions fill up the sky, surrounding them, and the aftermath of each blast reminds her of so many things (like distant lights, and a life lived not so long ago). The lights burst green and white into the sky, before they fade away to nothing.

And after this, she feels it. Tatsu looks down, past the blood on her hands, and she sees it. A gaping hole cut into her chest, where her own heart should be. She looks away from it and back to Flag but he's gone now. He's vanished, somewhere far away, and she can't find him now. He leaves her alone here, with nothing but a bloody path that she can't follow. She tries to but she can't, her legs won't allow her to follow the path. They lead her somewhere else instead. They lead her to someone else, and that person is Chato. His body is small and lifeless when she appears beside it, and she can't look away. Just like with Flag, she is drawn to this, drawn to him. He looks unlike himself, and he looks so small that it startles her.

Tatsu expects ashes, but his body is only badly burned, not destroyed. He's still dead though, and it twists something tight in her chest to see him like this. Minutes pass by slowly, and soon a pale fog rises up between them. She knows what it is, that it's not a fog. They're souls from Soultaker; she watches them for a moment, and then they all disappear along with Chato's body. But after, his soul remains for just a minute more.

It slips away with everything else, and she is left back to the city of darkness. It doesn't last, and soon she feels the tether pull her away. It's like a cord of rope wrapped around her arms, spreading up her body like a vine, and it takes her away from Chato and to Waylon. He's dead, too. They all are. He's still on the ground, bleeding badly, and she doesn't know where he's hurt but there's so much blood that she knows there's nothing she can do for him.

She wants to help, but she can't. Waylon is gone, but his body remains. He doesn't fade away like Flag and Chato did. He stays there with her, and somehow that feels worse. She doesn't want to leave him but she does, because again she's pulled to someone else. She's pulled to two shadows that she recognizes well. She recognizes them with just a look, only they aren't themselves. They're not the Floyd and Harley that she remembers. They're hollow, empty versions of themselves. They won't stop out of the shadows, but Tatsu can see through the darkness enough to see their wounds. Red seeps out of them, pooling at their feet. And at their feet she finds a pile of bodies, mirrors of themselves, and she feels as if she might sink into the pile of bodies if she stayed. But she doesn't stay.

One more thing pulls her away.

Slowly everything changes around her again. Buildings collapse to nothing but rubble. The sky quietens, even if the battle still goes on, and suddenly there's a little more light. All else remains the same except for them. Except for him. He's different, too. Boomerang is alive, unlike the others. And he's standing so close to her like he's waiting in front of her. He looks just like he did that night, bruises and all. He still looks different though, and she sees it now. His cheeks are more hollow, his eyes are darker, and he looks much worse than he did that night.

A fire grows around them. She sees it now. It circles them, like it's about to consume them and burn them to nothing. And it's like they can't run from it. They can't run. Tatsu feels the flames licking at her skin but this is all she feels as she stands here in the fire with Boomerang. His face is the same, even when everything else about him changes. His clothes become ragged, bloodier, and his bruises become darker, but he mostly stays the same.

Until he doesn't.

The blade appears slowly. It's deep, and long, and pressed into his chest. Tatsu sees it and thinks that it can't be hers, it can't be Soultaker, but when she looks down Soultaker is gone and that's when she knows that it is her sword inside of him. Soultaker is in him, and there's crimson spilling down his chest, and all she can do is watch. He watches her, too. Tatsu doesn't know why, but he won't take his eyes off her. She takes a step closer, to do something, to help him, but it hurts. Her own chest hurts, and when she looks down the wound is still there and it's bleeding heavier now. They're both bleeding and she feels it now. And somehow through the fire and blood, and the chaos around them, they're both still here standing with each other.

They're staring at each other, waiting. For what? She doesn't know, and he doesn't seem to have any answers either.

Soon she feels the tether tightening around her waist, like a cord of rope around her skin, and there's nothing she can do. It feels like it's inside her, too. It's twisted inside of her, deep in her, and there's nothing she can do to get it out. It pulls her closer, drawing her hands out to reach for the end of Soultaker. It wants her to push the sword in. She can't. The blade isn't too deeply in his chest, she sees that now. It's just in deep enough that it's waiting, for the final push, for Tatsu to end this. She doesn't want to, but it feels like there's no choice and like someone else is making her do this.

Her hands wind around the sword and she readies herself, to push the sword into his chest. Into his heart. There is nothing she can do but watch. Tatsu feels that there is no way out, there is only this. And the flames that remain, threatening to swallow them up at any moment. It all feels endless, and through it his eyes never leave her.

Then it all changes. There's a sudden noise, something brief and distant. It's high-pitched. A beep, coming from something that sounds far away. It almost sounds electronic and she recognizes it, and that's when she knows what it is. It's too late. His head is blown clean off in seconds, just like Slipknots, and it splatters back all over her face.

And then she wakes up.

Covered in sweat and thin cotton sheets—and with her thick, dark hair hanging forward in her face—Tatsu wakes up clean of blood, but it feels like she's still drenched in it. Her breathing steadies slowly, after she realizes that she's awake and not caught up in the chaos of the city again, but she still doesn't like the way she feels even after she's settled.

It was just a dream, she tells herself, as if that is supposed to calm her more. It doesn't, even though this isn't new to her. Tatsu dreams often, on the quiet nights and in the secret moments of difficult days. She's had dreams about them before, too. It's just never felt like this until tonight and she doesn't like that. She doesn't like the way that it feels, or how her chest still rises and falls heavily like she's trying to recover from something. It's like a part of her is trying to recover from those last moments in the dream, while she's also working on trying to convince her mind that there's no blood on her skin and that he's not dead.

There's no blood. And he's not dead. He's not dead. She thinks it over several times until it sinks in. Boomerang is at Belle Reve, and there's no blood on her skin. Their blood isn't on her skin. She tries and tries, but it still doesn't really work. So she tries to remind herself of where she is, and what she knows. She's in Gotham. Alone, in her apartment. There's no one here, and there's no blood on her. There's no blood. And the apartment is empty.

She's alone, and her little apartment is small and cold tonight. Tatsu welcomes the feeling as she pushes back the bed-sheets, leaves, and pads across the floorboards to the sink over by the window. It's something she set up on her own, something no one else knows about. It's one of her safe houses in the city, something Waller will never know about. It's small, but it's all that she needs. Everything here is just in the one room, even her bathroom that's sectioned off from everything else by a thin curtain.

Tatsu likes it that way. She likes the quiet, and she likes the little space. Nothing can hide here, and maybe that's why she likes it, too. Soon she reaches the sink, and when she does she uses the water to slick the hair back from her face. It doesn't work the way she wants it to and it does nothing to quieten her mind. Gotham is always loud but tonight it's not the noises from the street that are bothering her. It's what in her head. It's Flag, and Boomerang, and the rest of the team. And somehow it's still Santana.

She knows it's mostly the Captain who's on her mind. When her eyes shut, she pictures them again. Circled by fire, with Soultaker deep in his chest. She remembers the way it felt in her hands and how it was all so real. Tatsu soon seeks out the whiskey in the kitchen and pours herself a glass, but even after the whiskey she still feels the same, like there's blood still stuck to her palms. It stays with her in the worst kind of way, like it always does, and tonight it feels like there's nothing she can do to stop it.

Only Santana died that night. Flag's heart is still in his chest. The others are alive and unharmed. And the Captain? He isn't here with here. He isn't bleeding, and his soul isn't trapped in Soultaker. He isn't dead. It wasn't him. Tatsu knows this, and she tells herself it until she believes it and it begins to feel more like a dream than a memory. With the thoughts of them on her mind, Tatsu fills her glass with some more whiskey and carries it over to the window. Halfway there she changes her mind and leans against the wall instead, trying to focus on the view of the city from her window instead. It doesn't work but she still stares out of her window anyway, welcoming the way the whiskey tastes as it runs down her throat. It helps, but it still feels like she needs more than this, and she knows exactly what she needs right now.

It takes a minute for the water in the shower to heat up, so Tatsu leaves it, strips off her clothes, and leaves them in a pile on the floor. Then she waits. She waits in the dark of the apartment, while the ever-familiar noises of Gotham continue around her. There's a little light coming in from the window, from what seeps in from the streetlights and signs outside, and although it's all distorted and neon, it reaches her. In her reflection of the mirror that hangs above the sink, Tatsu sees herself. Scars and all. They're faint and old, but they aren't from new wounds and there's no blood her skin tonight.

This seems to calm her thoughts the most, so when she's finished observing the old scars, Tatsu steps underneath the running water and closes her eyes to the warm stream. It's soothing against her skin, and she allows it to soak into her deeply, in a way that helps. It washes away the blood she knows isn't there and was never really there, and it also works on removing the thoughts that linger in her head. Thoughts of Flag, and the Captain, and the shadows of butterflies that lingered on the doomed buildings.

She knows that she was never there, and that it was just in her head like it often is, but sometimes it just feels real and tonight it feels too real. Tonight it gets to her because they were there with her. Tatsu's never dreamed of them that way before. Of course, there are nights when she dreams of the city dying again, and when she sees Santana sacrifice himself again and again. But there have never been nights like this one before. It's the first time they've been back in that ruined city together.

Dying, and wounded, together.

This is the first time that Tatsu remembers dreaming about dying with them. It follows her, and she already feels that it will stay with her in a way that taking showers to cleanse away the false blood won't rid her of. It's in her now, just like they are. It's the tether that binds her to this life and to theirs. It feels inescapable again, but in a different way now. Tatsu's eyes shut slowly beneath the stream of water and she almost waits for it to change, she almost waits for this reality to twist and turn into another dream. It never does, and she's almost relieved.

Her eyes open slowly and her gaze is drawn down to the place on her chest where there was once a gaping hole. There's nothing there now, but Tatsu's fingers still stretch to trace over the area and the cut that was never there. It wasn't really there but it stays with her for longer than she likes. It all feels endless again, and like it's not something that the water can cleanse her of tonight.

 

**

 

Of all the things Tatsu could surely think about on her way to see him, she finds herself thinking about Midway city again. Tatsu sees vivid sparks and lights, the false dreams planted into their minds, and the shadows that hunted them and turned into dangerous creatures. And then her dreams find a way to join these memories, mixing reality with the dream that haunted her last night. The city swirls around in her mind again, only this time they all die. It feels heavy, and like it marks her, and she doesn't know how to escape it when it's not something she chose to think about.

She knows why she thought of them, in the nights that came after the mission. She knows the dreams chased her then; it was fresh and recent, and the blood was still faintly there, but now they are still chasing her and after weeks since the city Tatsu doesn't know why. It follows her around her, like a haze of blackness, and it doesn't often bother her but this is all different and that's why it stays with her. She longs for it to go away but it doesn't, and that's why she decides that it's just one of those days.

The kind of day where she longs for the quiet and for a moment of peace, but knows that she will not find it in the way she longs for. She thinks of the city instead, and then of Boomerang, and instead of thinking about how she's here to see him she starts to think about him on that night. Tatsu thinks about him on the night when they were all given a choice. On that night they were all given different choices, along with the chance to take a moment and turn it into something more.

Chato took a moment and turned it into something that made a difference. He changed everything. He used his moment to stand and fight to save them. He chose to die for them, and now Tatsu finds herself thinking about the choice that she was given on that night. It's one that still stays with her. It's the moment that she was given the choice to leave Boomerang to die or to save him from Incubus.

She tells herself that she could have let it happen, that she could have let him die and maybe it would have been easier. Or cleaner, like there was less blood on her hands. Less of a connection between the two of them. But it's not something she believes, and she's really not sure it would have been easier. Something pulled her to him on that night, something guided her to save his life. And so she saved him, and deep down inside of her there's a part of her that feels like she made the right choice. Her thoughts tell her that it might have been easier not to save his life, to let him die and let this life slip away, but then her dreams remind her that she did save him.

The more she thinks about it, the more she doubts that she did save him. He's alive, and he's here because of her. But did she save him? She doesn't know if he would consider himself as saved, now that he is back here at the prison, now that he is not free anymore. She's not sure what it means, or what way he sees it. She's not sure of many things right now, and it all leaves her with so many questions.

(why did she save him? what was the tether? why? is he saved, or lost?)

It bothers her in ways she can't escape or explain. And even as she follows the path to Boomerang's cell, she feels herself carrying it all. She tries to focus on being here now, instead of being lost in her head, and slowly she begins to take in the little things. The walls in this area are dark brown and faded. In places, they are rusted or peeled away to show what's underneath. There's not much to look at after this, and she quickly ends up thinking about her first visit to see him here, when he begged for freedom and then threw himself at the door.

Only two days have passed since that moment, yet it feels like she was just here. She finds herself wondering now what he will be like when she sees him today. After this she begins to wonder how it can feel like she was just here and also feel like it's been weeks since she saw him. She spends another minute stuck on this thought until the closed door to Boomerang's cell comes into Tatsu's vision and she decides to focus on that. On him. she's close now, close enough to read the words on his cell and give herself something else to think about. D-108. The slot on the door is still shut, and the guard that escorted her here soon leaves her after telling her to wait.

For what? She isn't given the chance to ask him before he's off, to speak with the guard positioned outside of Boomerang's cell. She is left alone here, to observe them quietly as they discuss something they clearly don't want her to hear. She leaves it and thinks back to earlier thoughts, and then to her conversation with Flag when she arrived here. It's something she doesn't mind thinking of, she welcomes any distraction from the memories. Earlier today, before she came to Boomerang, she met with Flag in the little space he's been given here to work out of. It's a small office, and it's just his, so it was a good space to talk. She thinks back on it briefly, on Flag's confusion and how he still doesn't seem to get why she wants to do this.

She remembers the way he asked her about it, and then how he accepted it all. It's something he accepts now, and he's promised to have her back like she's always had his, and it means something to her. Tatsu appreciates Flag's loyalty more than she can say. It's not something that even needs to be said because he already knows it, the same way that Tatsu knows he cares about her. It's something they've never spoken about because they don't need to. She cares about him, and she knows him enough to see the way he cares about them.

Flag is convincing enough with everyone else, that he dislikes the four of them so much and doesn't care at all. He talks like he does, and he acts as if he's never hated anyone more than he hates them. But occasionally she sees it. Tatsu sees it in little moments, that he cares in his own way. She's not sure it's an obvious thing on his part, or that he's even aware of it, but she knows he cares. It's the same way that she almost cares about them. Almost. And Flag knows that, too. It's something else they're both aware of, that they're in this together and to survive it they need to have each other's back.

Her brief thoughts of Flag and the group are quickly interrupted, when Tatsu looks up and realizes one of the two guards is gone now. The one that escorted her here is gone, while the other remains, standing quietly outside of Boomerang's cell. Again, she feels unsure but she approaches him anyway. And as she comes closer she realizes that something has happened here. The guard's face is badly bruised, and it all looks swollen and fresh that she knows who caused these bruises. She knows what has happened here, or she at least thinks she does, but she waits anyway.

She waits for answers or an explanation, but she's given nothing.

For a reason that Tatsu doesn't really know, she thinks back to the dream. Back to the bruises and marks on Boomerang's skin in the dream, and then the ones that had marked his skin two days ago. She mostly thinks about how much blood was there, and how it almost felt like she had caused it. Not just with Soultaker, but with her own hands. These thoughts trouble her and Tatsu works on fighting them, while her attention returns to the guard outside of the cell door. He remains silent and unhelpful in front of her, and she is left longing to know more.

"Where did he go?" Tatsu asks. "What is happening here?"

The guard remains stern and still, but he throws a look in her direction.

"You here to see the Aussie?"

She nods once. "Yes. Why?"

"Alright, well, if you'll just be patient you'll be in there soon. He just went to get your shit."

Half a second or so passes and Tatsu waits. She blinks at him slowly and continues to wait for the answers that haven't been provided to her yet, and then she waits for an explanation about what exactly that means. It quietens again, except for the sound of the guard sighing tiredly. He throws a brief and pointed look over at Boomerang's cell, then he walks over to where Tatsu is standing just a few steps away.

"You'll see soon enough." he explains. "I see you're armed there. That's been cleared? By the Colonel?"

Tatsu nods again and continues to wait for more than this. She feels herself slowly growing impatient with this guard and with this situation, because she didn't travel all the way to Belle Reve to be left standing here without any answers. She doesn't know why they're making her wait and she doesn't like how it feels to be left here.

"Well, I'm just gonna let you know that if something were to happen in there.." he says, then there's a pause. A look flickers over his face, something almost hopeful. "If there were to be an accident or worse with the Aussie, I'll just say it wouldn't be the worst thing that could happen. Yeah? You get me? It's not like there would be complaints or much of an investigation. And we all know that nobody's going to miss him."

It makes her think back to the dream once again. Tatsu dislikes thinking about it and she doesn't know why that is. It's not like she would hesitate if she was forced into a position to do what was asked of her but a part of her (something small and barely there) doesn't like the way that Soultaker felt in her hands when it was pushed deeply into Boomerang's chest.

She barely waits to answer, unsure of what's pushing her to speak so quickly now or why she feels as if she must protect him.

"Is his cell not monitored at all times? Do you not see the flaw in that plan?" Tatsu steps closer. "You also know he is of temporary importance to Agent Waller, don't you? You have not planned this out very well at all."

"Yeah, but—"

"What happened to your face?" she asks, glancing him over. "What caused these injuries?"

The guard scoffs, taking a step back. "What do you think? He went nuts. Totally fucking batshit. We sent someone in to clean him up and he just flipped out. Turned out as badly as I knew it would. So I stepped in and this is what I got. He put one of my guys in the hospital, you know?"

Tatsu thinks it over, just briefly. "And the Captain?"

Something resembling anger flashes over the guard's face. "You'll see, soon enough."

She is left waiting again, for answers she doesn't intend to leave without. Tatsu blinks slowly. Once, then twice, while she waits for answers. This time she gets them, sort of.

"Well, I'll say that he wasn't exactly gorgeous before and he's not pretty now. His fault, he shouldn't have started it."

It feels—strange. That's the first thing that Tatsu realizes, that it feels strange. All of this feels strange, but what she feels after hearing those words hits something inside of her. It's indescribable and silent, and it feels hot and invisible. Anger, perhaps? She doesn't know what it is really, and whatever it is doesn't turn into anything more because soon the missing guard returns. With her 'shit', that is really just a plastic bowl, filled with various items, that Tatsu's given a second to look at before they're thrust into her hands.

Her eyes scan the contents inside the bowl quickly, taking it all in. Inside, she finds: a roll of bandages, several reasonably clean cloths, and some kind of antiseptic cream inside a tiny plastic container. Tatsu glances up for an explanation and instead she is given a bottle of water.

"There you go. Guess you're the unlucky one. We heard Waller went and made a deal with one of you." the other guard explains. "So here's his shit. You take it in with you, but it isn't allowed to stay with him unless you're in there. He'll try to start a fire with whatever he can get his dirty hands on. If you need anything just call out, we'll be here."

Tatsu hesitates, loosely clutching the items in her hands.

"I don't understand. What is this for?"

"None of our guys are interested in going back in there after that shit he pulled." he answers. "And Waller said no, to sending in medical. Someone's gotta help him out and I guess that unlucky burden is now yours. Like I said, just say the word and we'll pull you out and kick his ass right back into line."

Her grip on the plastic bowl tightens slightly. "Is he still sedated?"

After this, the guard across from her moves to the slot and hovers by it like he's going to open it up. He stops and turns back to her, just briefly, and as he does he smiles a little.

"Unfortunately, our boy's not sedated today. But tomorrow's always a new day. We're just waiting for him to hit strike three. Again."

With a swift pull, the slot on the outside of the door is opened and the guard by it briefly peers inside. It lasts only a second and then he slides it shut and starts to work on opening up the cell door from the outside. It's all quiet on their side for about three more seconds, maybe two. Then the familiar sound of Boomerang's voice echoes through the door between them. He's loud and erratic, and madly shouting more curses at the guards. And she wishes it wasn't already such a familiar sound but it is.

It quickly becomes clear to Tatsu that he's still unaware of her presence here. He doesn't know she's here, he just thinks the guards are coming in for another round, and that explains why he's shouting out such loud curses and detailed threats to them. She understands why, it's because he thinks they're here to hurt him again. Or maybe he thinks they've come to sedate him and cause more trouble, so it doesn't really surprise her that his first response is this.

She thinks on it for a second as she steps over to the door, closer now. She's much closer, and as she stays there she watches the guard finish opening it up. It doesn't take him long and soon he opens it enough for Tatsu to step inside, but not enough for Boomerang to force his way out of the cell. He's still a risk, because of how badly he wants his freedom, so the guard stays by the door and waits for Tatsu to enter.

It's cracked open just enough that when Tatsu steps inside, Boomerang sees her. He sees her and the first thing that Tatsu thinks when she sees him is that his face is a mess of scattered bruises and dried patches of blood. Her eyes meet his half a beat later and she doesn't know what to think or say, so she says nothing. There's so much that Tatsu picks up from him in those next, brief moments of silence. She can't help it, the way her mind takes it all in. There's so much anger, so much pain, and she is so aware of all of it.

It lingers on his face, along the curves of his cheeks, and it hides in the shadows underneath his eyes. She sees rage and exhaustion, and so much confusion, and then it almost seems to slip away entirely when he smiles at her. It confuses her now and it almost makes her want to know what's going on in Boomerang's head, in these moments together when there's nothing between them anymore. Tatsu quickly decides that she's glad that she doesn't know because there's enough going on in her own mind right now without knowing his thoughts. Still, she finds that she can't completely ignore the quiet curiosity she feels when her gaze shifts back towards him.

She considers that maybe he's thinking they have a new mission, or that somehow she's here to free him from this place and this life. The guard urges Tatsu inside suddenly, and the second that she's completely inside the cell with Boomerang he shuts the door loudly behind her. And it's clear that those thoughts on Boomerang's face (thoughts of freedom, or a new mission) disappear when this happens and he realizes that he's not getting out today.

His face is somehow worse now. It's deeply bruised and there's blood dried across his skin in places, and it all seems worse. Tatsu notices that he's still just in the same briefs and he hasn't been provided a new pair of clothes yet, and when she looks over him once more she discovers bruises that she missed two days ago.

Could he do this to himself? she asks herself, once more. Would he?

Tatsu checks him over again, quickly this time. She does this silently, and then she allows herself a moment to linger on the spot on his chest where the blade had been pressed into him. Deep, in his chest. There's nothing there now except a tattoo near it, so she looks away. She looks away and back to him, and if Boomerang noticed her looking so closely then he says nothing. She's almost certain that he doesn't notice though, because he seems far too caught up in trying to figure out what exactly is going on right now and why she's here.

"Uh—What the fuck's this, darl? This shit is real?"

He's grinning now; it's lopsided, there's dried blood in the corner of his mouth, and she notices that a part of his lip looks split and swollen. But it's still a smile.

"I don't think they put me on that shit today. So that means.." he pauses, smiling more. "That means this is real and you're really here with me. You, in all your gloriousness and beauty, are really here with me. Yeah?"

Tatsu nods, confirming it. Then she gives herself a chance to look around his cell from the inside. There's really not much here, she knows it's solitary but it feels so strikingly bare. It's stripped down and cold. She observes it closely, then steps over to the concrete slab against the wall that's his bed. A second passes and Boomerang's right there by her side, excited to see whatever she might have for him today.

She finds that she almost wants to ask him about his own dreams. Tatsu doesn't ask, but there's a part of her that almost wants to know what he dreams about. That same part of her longs to know if Boomerang dreams of the city, or skies burned with electricity and red, and then she decides that it's better not to know because she's not sure that he dreams of those things. She doesn't know what a man like Boomerang would dream of, she's not sure that she fully knows what kind of man he is anyway, but it's better that she doesn't know.

So she doesn't ask, because asking often means sharing and learning more about him. And Tatsu quickly tells herself that this isn't why she's here. She's not here to learn him and she's certainly not here to share with him. It's better that nothing is said, that way nothing will change and it will be so much easier for both of them if nothing changes.

It's slightly less of a mess this way. Without so many words, it feels a little easier to do this. It feels as if it will make it easier for her to move on from this later and continue as things are. And then Boomerang opens his mouth again and she feels lost again.

"Yeah, no, thought so. Thought it was real. You see, me an' you were wearing much less clothes in those dreams anyway. So it's real." Boomerang says, and seems quite pleased. Then he leans forward curiously, to search through the supplies. "Don't know how you pulled this shit off, but you're a fuckin' legend. What do we got here? Cigs? Maybe some grog?"

She steps away, leaving the supplies. "Will you sit down?"

"Huh?" he stops, and throws a look over his shoulder at her. "What'd you say?"

"Sit down. I will not be here long, and I'm here for a reason. So, will you sit down?"

Boomerang looks more confused by this than seeing her here in his cell, and then it changes again. He raises an eyebrow at her slowly, and she notices the way the corners of his lips tug into a smile.

"Not really sure where this is going, darl, but I already like the sound of it—"

"You are hurt, I am here." Tatsu speaks over him. "That is all. It is not going anywhere beyond that."

"O-kay, alright. You want me to sit? I'll sit. Just, wait one sec. Let me see what we got here." Boomerang says, quickly looking back to the supplies. He quickly seems unimpressed. "What's all this crap? The others get nice shit, and what do I get? Fuck all. That's what I get. A plastic bowl? And what the fuck's this creamy shit in the tube?"

I am working on it, she wants to tell him but she doesn't end up saying anything. There's only so much that Tatsu wants to say, knowing that they're being monitored closely, and there are also certain things she's not allowed to say so she keeps it to herself. It's better left unsaid for now, until a better time comes.

"Please, do this." she looks at him, then she gestures to the concrete slab. "Sit down with me."

Tatsu isn't sure what to expect next. She almost expects to see rage like the last time she asked something of him, but what happened last time doesn't happen again today. There's a sigh from Boomerang then he nods, mutters something to himself and sits down. Just like that. It almost feels too easy, the way he just listens, but she's glad that he does. Boomerang looks up at her once he's seated, with his eyebrows arched a little and a look on his face that she can't be bothered to read today.

In the quiet he watches her closely, too close. And soon she realizes what's happening. He's trying to hide his smile but he can't, and he ends up smiling soon anyway. And she tells herself she isn't curious, but she feels something linger inside of her when he smiles at her like that.

"Oh, of course, luv. I'll do anything for ya." he drawls, and his lips tug into a half-smile. "Y'know what's weird? I had a little dream not too long ago, that went somethin' like this. Sure, we were wearing less clothes but it didn't start off like that. You sure this is real?"

Chapter Text

She begins with the blood on his hands. It isn't exactly the situation that Tatsu expected she would be in on her first visit to see him, but it's the way it is now so she accepts it. She accepts it for what it is, and she starts with the blood on his knuckles. The clean cloths, the roll of bandages, and the cream she assumes is an antiseptic, are all set out on the concrete slab where Boomerang's currently sitting across from her. With his hands stretched out, flat on his knees, while he waits. Patiently, for her to clean them up. She's sure that they're both surprised by how still and strangely patient he seems to be right now. There's a part of her that wonders if her being here has anything to do with it, or if it's more likely that the last of the sedation is still leaving his system.

Boomerang's voice cracks the silence soon, that lasted for about one minute. "Listen, Katana. Luv, I'm not trying to be a pain by asking about this again. But I just have to hear it again, you know? I have to check cos I don't want this to just be in my head. I'll just ask one more time, then I swear I won't ask it again."

A moment passes, and Tatsu raises an eyebrow at him. Her face remains totally shielded. Covered, by the mask there and by her dark hair that she leaves to hang over her face. Through it all, Boomerang doesn't see the look that passes over her face in that moment. Boomerang doesn't see it and right now he doesn't really see her, not the way that she sees him. She sees him clearly and unobscured, and she finds that she's glad he can't see her the same way. Tatsu's not even sure that he could ever really see her, even if there was nothing between them anymore. Soon she nods at him, confirming it, even if she's not sure that she knows exactly what he means. She knows of his hallucinations and that he saw things in his head, but beyond that she doesn't know what he saw in his head in her absence.

"Alright, I get it. And, hey, if I'm anything I'm a man my of word. So I'm gonna leave it at that and be done with it." he announces belatedly. "We went through something that night, didn't we? Something fucked up. So I trust ya. More than I trust any of these assholes. I'm gonna leave it at that and quit asking. How's that sound? Cross my heart, and, well—you know. Cross my heart and hope to die."

Another moment slips between them—as Boomerang makes the motion to cross his heart—and Tatsu leaves it be. She leaves it to fall into silence, and she starts by filling the plastic bowl with water from the bottle. Then, she slides the bottle towards him when she's finished and leaves it for him to drink if he's thirsty. Apparently he is, because he scoops it up a second later and eagerly drinks from it, crushing part of the bottle with his hand. Tatsu leaves him to that, picks up a cloth, and dips the end of it into the bowl to dampen it. She stretches for his hand next, ready to start. Everything that she might need, like the supplies and the cloths, are all set out to her left, on the concrete slab. The slab that Boomerang's somehow still sitting on, patiently. It's the same one that she's standing across from, and the same one that he calls a bed. It's harsh and rough, and feels as cold as it looks.

"Don't drink all of it yet." she tells him, eventually.

Drops of water spill across Boomerang's split knuckles as she carries the cloth over them and wipes the crimson stained there. Her mind begins to swirl and wander then. In an uncomfortable and fast kind of way that she doesn't entirely like, because it fills up the silence with questions. There are almost too many questions, and Tatsu finds that she doesn't know where to start searching for their answers.

(why are his knuckles like this? why is she here? is this what caring feels like?)

She tells herself it isn't, and she leaves the other questions unanswered and forgotten for now. They become something for her to dwell on privately, later. It's not something she feels she can discuss with anyone, even if there were someone else to share it with. There isn't. Tatsu's attention returns to his hand once more, and she starts to think about how badly bruised and torn it is there. It's obvious that he's been hitting the walls. Hardly, and too much, and maybe he's been doing it to hurt himself—or maybe, she considers that there's still more to this than she knows.

"Why?" Boomerang asks her, soon.

Tatsu doesn't know if he's been speaking the entire time that she's been lost in her thoughts, so she waits. She waits for more, as she brings the cloth down over the torn flesh on his knuckles. Then, she pauses. She almost expects that Boomerang will have a reaction to the pain, if there is any, but he doesn't. There's no noise from him, not really, so she continues wiping it away. Her eyes stay fixed on the bruises scattered there, and the silence stays there for a while.

"I am not sure they will bring you more water, if we use it all now." she explains, assuming this is his question. "I know that there is a sink here. But I am not sure if that water is for consuming."

It's because of what they say he's doing. Hurting the guards, and himself, and bursting into fits of rage. She knows that this is something Boomerang's aware of, he knows why they're treating him this way and why they dislike him. It seems that everyone Tatsu's encountered here so far seems to have an immense dislike of the Captain, and it isn't exactly hard to understand why that is. She understands it well, she remembers her thoughts of him on the first day they met. Most of those thoughts and feelings remain, she's knows this, but these are things she can put aside to see through this and know there's more to it than she's seen. It's something that she's been unable to let go of lately, despite her silent efforts to.

"Nah, that's not what I meant. Meant why are you here. Why are you doing this? Think I can take care of myself just fine, darl. So, why are you here?" Boomerang's reply comes back swiftly. "And how's this even happening? I don't get how you worked this shit out with those pricks, since they got it in for me. Don't know how you're here unless you got some secret powers you never told us about. Now, that would be fucking cool."

Once again, Tatsu doesn't answer. Not at first. It's not really because of what he says, but it's more because of what she's not supposed to say. Her missions and activities outside of Task-Force X are supposed to remain between her and Agent Waller, and whoever Waller decides is allowed to know. She assumes this also means that no one is allowed to know about her deal with Waller, and because of that she knows what she can tell him is limited to a few things. It isn't her choice to share it with Boomerang, even if she wanted to.

"Just imagine that, Katana. Imagine if it was the power to teleport." he muses. Loudly, and with a grin across his lips. "Right now, me an' you could leave this place. We could fuck off. Far away. Go somewhere big and bright, and sunny. Yeah. Sounds like a fucking dream, huh. Probably too good to be true. But, wouldn't it be nice?"

Her eyes flicker away from him and down to the blood she's still working on cleaning away.

"You gone quiet on me again?" he asks, then sighs. "Dang. Just when I thought we were getting friendly."

It's almost something she feels she can't stop. Tatsu looks up at him. Intrigued, almost. For half a second. Then, she decides that no, she most definitely isn't intrigued with him, and she's not curious at all.

"Are we?" she asks.

"Yeah. Of course we are." Boomerang says, with such a confidence to it. Then it falters. "Aren't we?"

She goes back to focusing on the blood that stays on his knuckles. Soon, it's gone and she's reaching for his other hand. Boomerang stretches it out to her once he realizes what she's after, and he sets it out flat on his knee, for her to take care of. It's then that Tatsu feels his attention is back on her. It's lingering and hard, and she realizes that he's waiting for answers. He must have so many questions about this, she knows that, and there's a part of her that wishes she could give him the answers he's looking for her. Then, there's the part of her that wonders if he has any idea of all the answers she's still waiting for.

"Why are you doing this? You never said why. Doesn't make much sense if it's not in my head, or if you don't have those cool, secret powers. So could ya clear it up a bit for me, darl?"

"And that makes sense?" Tatsu answers. "That I am in your head, or that I have secret super powers. This makes more sense than my presence here, now?"

"Yeah, well considering how shit's been going for me lately." Boomerang pauses, for a while. "Yeah, it does. I'm really hoping it's the last one. Would love to get outta here right now. Just disappear, like that. Waller would be fucked then, hey?"

The skin over his other hand is torn, it's worse. Tatsu's eyes study his knuckles and the way the flesh is torn badly in places and deeply bruised in other spots. She wants to ask him how this happened, and why he would do this to himself and punch something enough to cause these injuries, but she doesn't. Tatsu doesn't ask, even if it lingers with all of her other questions that are still waiting to be voiced. She decides then that if she's going to receive any answers from Boomerang today, then she's going to have to give him something. He's still searching for answers, he's looking for something he hasn't found yet, and she knows she can give him a few answers, at least. She'll have to give something to get anything from him.

"I am here because I visited the others." Tatsu decides on saying, sometime later. "And because I have learned of your trouble with the guards here."

She's not sure what sound comes out of Boomerang's mouth next, but it resembles a laugh. It's something light and brief, and deeply amused, and it twists into a noise that sounds tired. His knuckles twitch slightly, like he's considering curling them into fists, so Tatsu leans back and waits. She waits for it to pass, and she observes him until it does. Once it's passed, Tatsu continues wiping the cloth over his knuckles to clean the raw skin there.

"Ha. Yeah, sure. Sure, luv. That's one way to fucking put it. We'll just call it trouble."

There's a tension to his words that's unmissable. She longs to know more. "May I ask you a question?"

Boomerang hums a low and quiet noise in response. Then he nods. "Alright, sure. Why not? Don't know what'd ya wanna ask me, though. I got a feeling it's gonna be interesting." he answers, and it's followed by another pause. "Feels kinda weird, I gotta say. To hear you speaking this much. Don't think we ever talked before. Did we? I think I'd remember it, if we did. I'd remember yer voice if we did."

"If you are thinking that you don't know what was real and what was, then yes." Tatsu confirms, meeting his gaze through the distance left between them. "We did not speak until two days ago, when I visited briefly. That was real."

Anything else before or after that isn't real, she almost says, but it feels like something she doesn't have to say. Tatsu glances away and feels his gaze linger, briefly. His attention shifts back to his knuckles and she finds herself wondering if he's thinking about it or reliving it again. It passes a moment later, and when he clears his voice to speak it's just his voice. There isn't any rage there, or anything else lingering there anymore. It's just his clear, loud voice.

"Ahh, yep. Yep. Thought so. Hey, Katana?"

She's silent again, like it's her way of answering him. He knows. Tatsu focuses on finishing up, and soon she's done with his hands. The skin's torn badly on one hand, in particular, and she decides that this one will need a bandage over it. But before that, she needs to know if anything's been fractured or broken.

"Didn't say nothin' weird to ya, did I?"

It's almost amusing, and maybe it could have been if things were different. "You spoke to me."

"Yeah. But was it weird, or whatever?" he asks, and seems to genuinely want to know the answer. "Kinda don't remember parts of what I said. Ya know? So, was it weird?"

Tatsu wants to tell him what they spoke of; she wants him to know that they spoke of the others in the group, and then she wants to tell him of the rage that sparked at the end there, but she doesn't. She leaves it unsaid, leaves it for another day when his knuckles aren't torn and his skin isn't marred with so many bruises.

"No, it wasn't important." there's a pause from her, now. "And it wasn't weird."

It's time to observe his hand now, closely. Tatsu takes it and sets her gaze on it, and on Boomerang at the same time. She finds herself still quietly cautious of him, and almost curious, and she wonders how it's possible that she can feel both of these things at the same time. The bones in his hand feel fine, she discovers this after she begins to search for anything that might indicate a break or a fracture. He says nothing, and keeps his attention on her, studying her silently. It's too close again, and it makes Tatsu want to ask him why he's watching her the way he is, but she doesn't. Instead, she reaches for the bandages to wrap over the badly torn places on his hand.

"Ahh, good. That's good to know." Boomerang draws it out, a moment later. He's very clearly bored now. "Soooo. What'd ya wanna ask me? Go for it. You got no idea how glad I am for just a lil' bit of company. So ask whatever ya heart desires, Katana."

"You are punching the walls."

He makes another quiet, amused noise. "That's it? That's what ya wanted to ask?"

"No." she answers. "But also, yes."

There's a long pause from Boomerang. "So, that's a..Yes."

Tatsu nods and rolls the bandage lightly over his knuckles. She wraps it around a few times, and when she's satisfied it's secured she tears it away and binds it there tightly. So it will stay there and cover the cuts, that she notices Boomerang gives no reaction to. Tatsu thinks she understands it. It's pain but it's likely nothing compared to what he's endured before, or what she can only assume he's endured before.

"Are you punching the walls?" she asks again.

Her next thought is to check his other hand for any signs that it's broken or fractured, or injured in any way, though she's certain if it was that she would've heard about it from Boomerang by now. She discovers there's nothing there soon and she leaves it without wrapping it because it doesn't need it the way the other one does. Tatsu moves on to his wrist next. She takes his hand, turns it over gently so she can reach his wrist, and then she begins.

There's blood scattered along the column of his wrist, and it spreads up to his forearm. It's faded and dark, and she can only guess that it ran down from the injuries to his knuckles. She cleans it away quietly.

"Yeah, a bit. Maybe sometimes, I guess. These guards are fucking pricks, though. I gotta hit something or I hit them, and that usually makes shit worse. Everyone here's a fucking prick, if I'm being honest." Boomerang answers, eventually. "Except, y'know, maybe Croc. He's not so bad. Then, those other two.. Maybe they're not pricks. But everyone else? Yeah, they're all pricks."

There's a pause of quiet between them again, but it never seems to last too long with Boomerang. His eyes settle on her, and it feels faintly heavy, as she finishes wiping the blood from his wrist and moves up to this forearm. Then, she finishes and takes a step back to look him over again—for new injuries, and the next place to begin. She leaves to retrieve a new cloth from the end of the concrete slab.

"Real surprised that they even let you in here with me, considering how that bitch has fucked me over since that night in the city. Bet no one told you that, huh? They're a bunch of fucking assholes. Makes me wanna get the fuck outta here, real bad. Just so I can show 'em." Boomerang announces. Loudly. There's a rage to it, that's seeping through again. "And yeah, of course I fuckin' know you're listening. Bunch of nosy dickheads. I'm telling ya that I'm gonna fuck shit up massively the second I'm outta this shithole."

It's definitely a lot of information to take in at once, that's what it is. It's a lot for Tatsu to consider, so she leaves it to stir inside of her mind while she looks Boomerang over closely. She silently decides to take care of the blood on his shoulders and back, and any injuries there, but after that she'll leave what's scattered over his chest and his waist to him. Then, it will be finished and she hopes it will be the last time that they're in a situation like this.

Tatsu notices now, after allowing herself to look at him closely, that there's blood on his face. It's not just near the spots next to his lip, or across his cheek. It's against the curve of his jaw and forehead, and she stares at it until she looks back to his eyes.

"That isn't wise to say when you know they are listening to everything you say." Tatsu states. "You know they will use what they can against you. They have already said you have hurt them. It isn't wise to fuel their anger with you."

"Who? Me?" Boomerang's voice shoots up about ten more levels. "Well, they're fucking liars. Any of them look hurt to ya? With their gear and helmets. Did they look hurt to you?"

She nods. "The guard at the door, with the bruises on his face."

Boomerang really thinks about it. For about one second. "Yeah, well. Apart from him. Anyone else? Didn't think so."

Tatsu leans away slightly. Still standing in front of him, she continues to hold the thin cloth between her hands while she watches him. He continues his rant, and it seems like something he just needs to get out, so she lets him do it without interrupting him.

"What else did they say? Did you know that Croc got a TV, and booze. He's got fucking booze, Katana. Deadshot can make calls outside. And what'd I get? You don't think I got mates on the outside I wanna talk to?" he continues. Talking fast and loud, now. "You don't think I'd like some grog? Or something to fucking punch in here, apart from those dickhead guards? It's such fucking bullshit."

She stays there, close, watching him. "They have said you beat them. This is true?"

"Oh, that. Yeah. Fuck yeah I did. But it was after the shit they pulled. Wasn't me who started it, mate."

It confirms Tatsu's thoughts, somehow, that there's more to this—more to the bruises on the guards, and the injuries scattered over Boomerang's skin—but he gives her no more than that. It's like he stops himself and then says nothing, and it leaves her waiting for more. She waits but, almost like she expected, he gives nothing back.

"What did they do?" she asks. "Did they start it?"

He shrugs and then leans back. Away from her, and closer to the concrete wall behind him. "Doesn't matter, does it? They do whatever the fuck they want, whenever the fuck they want." Boomerang says, and then sighs. "Doesn't matter, anyway. Rather talk about somethin' else. Like this, and you, bein' here. I do love a TV. Can't say I'd pick it over the joy seeing you here brings me, though. Makes my heart all warm and fuzzy, luv."

And there it is, and he's smiling slowly again. It's like nothing really gets to him, not that he lets show anyway.

"'Cos it's given us a chance. To get friendly. Aye?"

It's barely quiet before Tatsu clears it up. "I won't be here often."

The smile stays. Warm, and big, over his face. "So?"

"It is not just for you." Tatsu says. Then, she's not sure why she says the next part. "And I am not here to be your friend."

Boomerang's smile twists into a laugh. It's more of an echo of a laugh. Something quiet and brief. "Mmm, yep. Yep. Thought as much. Wasn't gonna say it, but it wasn't like I was sitting here thinking that you needed a friend like me. Can't say I blame ya either. I met blokes like me before. Don't get me wrong, some of 'em are alright. But most of them? Fucking dickheads."

It lingers longer than most of the silence and like the other moments Boomerang ends it.

"So, you saw the others? How are those lucky bastards doing? What's Croc's TV like? Fuck, it's big. Isn't it? I bet it's fucking huge. I could use something like that right now. Or anything. I could use any fucking thing that you could get me right now. Except this shit you got here, now. I don't need this shit. But anything else? Yeah. Literally anything else. I could use it."

Then, it's like something in his head just clicks. Suddenly, Boomerang's eyes widen like he's had a light-bulb moment of realization. He sits forward quickly and reaches out to her. Tatsu steps back and Boomerang's hands follow. He reaches out to grab on to her, with excitement and whatever is currently rushing through his mind. It's then that Tatsu's hand, on instinct, almost reaches for her sword. He notices, and he's quick to drop his hands away and hold them up in the air, away from her.

Through it all, his grin stays in place.

"Easy, luv. Easy. My bad, alright? I get it, but I was just being excited. That's all. 'Cos I thought of something in-fucking-genius. Wanna hear it?" Boomerang asks, and then continues with no confirmation from her that she wants to hear it. "Ya know what could work? Croc's got booze in his sewer, yeah? Maybe you could do us a solid and bring us up some grog. I mean, I noticed they let ya stay armed. Means you could probably bring whatever the fuck you want in here. Couldn't ya? That means you could get some grog. Could sneak it up, or hide it under that nice lil' jacket you got on. Or somethin' like that. Hey? How's that sound?"

It doesn't make sense, not entirely. It isn't just that Tatsu fails to understand why Boomerang's voicing this in solitary while there's a camera recording everything he says. That includes every word and every detail of his very flawed plan to get what he wants. It's also what he's saying that Tatsu doesn't full understand.

"You want..Grog."

"Yeah, not much. I'm not asking for much. Fuckin' hell, Katana, I'd owe you a big one if you could do this for me. All I'm asking is for some grog and maybe a durry." Boomerang continues, excitedly, like he believes this is actually going to work. "What's that beautiful green fella got down there for me in his sewer, anyway? Good shit? Couple cold ones? How 'bout some goon?"

Tatsu stares back at him quietly, for a while. She opens her mouth to say something but it just slowly falls shut.

"Just a durry or two would do me fine. I'm not a fussy bloke, really. Not greedy. Won't even ask for a pack, even if I'd probably cut one of these fucking guards for a pack of cigs."

It's silent again. Tatsu isn't surprised by this, not really. She blinks and stares back at him, and then she whispers something to herself that he doesn't understand. It makes him laugh, for a reason that she decides she will also probably never understand. Boomerang's laugh is so loud and genuinely real, considering his current situation, that she soon decides she will never understand him at all. Not even a little.

"Ah, shit. I get it." he sighs. "Ya got no idea what I just said to ya. Right?"

She shakes her head. Very slowly.

"You were speaking..English?"

Boomerang laughs. Harder. His grin widens, and he seems like he's fairly amused right now by this all. "Yeah, Australian. Want me to explain it for ya?"

"No."

He blinks at her, and his smile stays there. "But, then ya won't know what ta ask for." 

"I do not think anyone will understand what it is you're asking for."

"Durry is a cig. Cigarettes. Goon is a drink. Don't mind some wine, now and then. Bet there's a bottle-o somewhere out here. Could get me some cold ones. I'm really not a fussy bloke. Couldn't give a fuck what it is, just want a little bit of something to help. Ya know? Really just need a lil' drink to keep me going in here."

Slowly, Tatsu steps away from him and over to the plastic bowl at the end of the concrete slab. In the silence she feels his gaze waiting for answers, for confirmation that she will do this for him. It feels heavier now, like there's a new kind of weight to it, and when Tatsu looks up a moment later she can see it in his eyes.

"I will try." she says, it's all she can do.

Boomerang follows her. Jumping up on his feet, with a surprising swiftness for someone with his injuries, he follows her. Over to the place where everything's all set out on the slab, and where Tatsu's currently dipping the cloth in the water bowl. To distract herself, to clean it. Her eyes settle on the spots of red in the bowl, and for a while she stares at it.

Oblivious to her private thoughts, Boomerang continues to talk behind her. 

"For real? You mean that you're gonna ask them for that shit, for me? Oh, you beaut. I'd hug you if I didn't think you were gonna cut me." he sighs, and then it slowly turns into a laugh. It's happier and louder than anything she's ever heard from him. "I swear to ya, I'll do whatever you want me to do for this. Hear me? Anything at all, Katana. You name it. You fuckin' beauty, you."

"I will ask, but I cannot guarantee that they will give those things to you."

"That's ace, luv. Really, it is. Just knowing you're gonna ask makes shit a bit better in here."  he says, from behind her. "Can't even tell ya what that means to me. Makes shit seem less bad. Yeah?"

Tatsu turns around. "There is one condition first."

"Oh, fuck, yes. Fuck yes." his answer comes quickly. There's not even a moment of hesitation on his part. "Whatever it is, my answer's already yes. Just say it and it's done."

"Allow me do to this without trouble." she says. "I must look at your injuries so I may leave. I need to look at your back next. Allow me to do this with no trouble, and then I will ask about your requests."

"Huh? My back? Why?" Boomerang asks, confused. Then he attempts to stretch, and somehow look over his shoulder. At his own back, like it's somehow possible. "Don't gotta do that, jus' a bit bruised. That's all. You think I'm gonna cause you trouble? Yer on a list of people I don't wanna fuck with, luv. And it's not a long list."

Through the mask that's still there (tight, and pressed against her face) and her hair hanging there, Tatsu waits and watches him. She watches him in a way she's not sure he understands. It's so close and observing, and if he understands it then he doesn't seem bothered by it. It's still fairly easy to read him, and it's not that she doesn't think he's a complicated man because she does. He is very complicated. It's just that she doesn't know him well enough, or at all really, to know how much there is left beneath the surface. But she feels like there's more and she doesn't know why. It feels like there's more than she'll ever know. Why does she feel like there's more?

"Honestly, outta all of them—You were the one I always liked the best. Was always you, Katana."

She raises her eyebrows slowly. Almost amused, again. Maybe just a little. "Really?"

"Oh, yeah. Shit yeah. See, me 'an you. Us. We ain't like them at all. Are we?"

"Are we?" she echoes.

Boomerang shakes his head, quickly. "Nah, not a chance. Couldn't be more unlike them."

"You are a criminal and a thief. They are also criminals, and thieves, and murderers—"

"Yeah, but I'm not talking 'bout the shallow shit. I'm talking 'bout the deep shit." he says, and then seems to step closer to her. Just a little, just enough that it feels closer. Smaller, suddenly, in the cell. "See, here's what I think: I think we get each other. I think we're more alike than we are to any of the others. Don't mean we're not like them. Just mean we're more the same. Cut from the same cloth, ain't we? Two peas in a pod."

"Peas in a pod." Tatsu repeats, slowly.

"Yeah. Oh, yeah. Don't you think? People look at me an' they think they know who I am. What I am. Do the same to you, don't they? Doesn't mean we're the same kinda people. It just means that people take a look at us and they think they know. One look, and they think they're so fuckin' sure of who we are or what we can do."

It unpredictably hits something in Tatsu. Something she doesn't dwell on. "What is your point, Boomerang?

"It's that I'm not gonna cause ya trouble, 'cos yer not one of the bad ones. And, like I said, I always liked you." he answers, and then there's a pause. "Oh, and I also know what you can do. Last thing I'm ever gonna do is piss you off, I know you'd cut me right in half if I did."

"That is perhaps the only accurate thing I have ever heard you say."

It makes him laugh. It's a light, hearty chuckle, that echoes out of somewhere deep and warm in his chest. "Ohh, shit. Yer a funny one? Never thought so, but damn. That's a good one, darl. Really. That's a damn good one."

She doesn't know what that makes her feel next, but it's something. "Now you will sit down?"

"Yep, sure. Sure. Here I go, I'm sitting down. How's this?" Boomerang calls back, after he's seated. He sits with his legs crossed and his face to the wall, so his back's to her like she needs. "This what ya wanted?"

It's quieter for much longer than Tatsu intends for it to be and she knows why. She just can't control it. It's Boomerang's back, and the way it looks right now. It's a mix of blood, and fresh bruises, blended in with old scars and tattoos. It's mostly the bruises that get to her. Tatsu's eyes linger on them, and she finds herself suddenly certain that he's not responsible for most of this.

Now, her thoughts and earlier feelings disappear—thoughts about the sound of his laugh, and how oddly strange but warm it almost sounded all fade away at the sight of him like this. It all disappears and she finds it replaced with a longing to know why, it's a longing to know more than what she does right now.

"Boomerang?"

He throws a look over his shoulder, then glances back to the wall. "Yeah, darl? What's up?"

Tatsu's eyes barely glance away from his back long enough to look back to the wall. It's still covered with faint spots of blood, but what she recalls being there is gone now. It's all cleaner but it doesn't feel it. She sits on her thoughts for a few minutes, before she reaches for the cloth to dampen it in the bowl again.

"Be honest with me?"

The Captain makes a quiet noise. Another sound of amusement. "Always. Ya see, us thieves we get a bad rep. People think we're dishonest all the time, but we're not. We're just selectively dishonest."

"Then ignore that, and be honest now." Tatsu answers. "You did not do this all to yourself. Did you?"

His reply is almost instant. "Yer a smart one, too What d'ya think happened?"

Agent Waller, she's so close to saying this time. It's right there, waiting, but it's silenced. It seems that Tatsu doesn't have to say anything, she doesn't even have to mention Waller's name, because somehow in the next silent moments, they share something. Quiet, and just between them. They share understanding. Tatsu starts with the blood on his shoulders and where it's scattered there. Dried, and spread out over the space between his shoulders. She's more aware of his bruises now than she means to be, and she works on staying away from them. Careful not to cause him pain, whenever she wipes the blood off them. She really doesn't mean for it to be this quiet but it feels like it's inevitable, and it's all that she can feel right now. The quiet. It's all over her skin. It's like how her connection to them is underneath her skin, now it feels like this is over her skin. Like his blood is on her skin, somehow. Tatsu focuses on wiping the blood away, instead of on the thoughts that linger.

But it's almost too difficult to focus on his crimson spotted back, and then the blood's mostly gone and it just leaves the bruises. They're all different colors and shades. Deep purples and faint yellows. There are just so many, that Tatsu starts to feel something that she doesn't want to feel again. Longing. She longs to, in this moment, stretch her hand out and place it there. Against his back. She wants to leave it against his back, or against one of the bruises there, so it's something soft and gentle for Boomerang to feel against his skin. Instead of something harsh and painful. Tatsu doesn't do it. She denies that thought, and she denies herself what doing that might bring them, and she starts to wipe off any blood that remains. Stained against his spine and lower waist, and along his side.

It's almost too much. Too personal, and too intimate. Too much blood. Tatsu's relieved when she's finished wiping the blood off his back, and he turns back around to face her. She finds it strange, the relief she feels when he speaks a moment later and takes away the silence.

"We all done now?"

She wants it to be, but it's not. Not yet.

"Almost."

"Alright. So, why don't ya tell me something else. Tell me 'bout life outside of this place?" Boomerang suggests, eyes scanning over her again. In a curious kind of way. "See these four walls? That's me, that's all I got. But, then there's you. I bet you've got more than that. What's life like outta this shithole, these days?"

Tatsu considers it; there's really not too much that she can share, not here, not when they're being monitored and everything they say will get back to Waller. It's easier to just say nothing, at least for now anyway.

"Quiet again, huh?" he pushes. "That's alright. Don't mean to be talkin' ya ear off. Just haven't talked to nobody in weeks except those dickhead guards."

She's down by the bowl, rinsing the cloth in the water when he speaks.

"They talk to you?" Tatsu asks, looking up.

"You could call it that."

For a while, Tatsu stays down there. Near him, but not too close. "If you tried, perhaps you could change this."

"What d'ya mean? How's shit gonna change for me?" he nearly laughs. "Be honest with me now, yeah? Nothin's changing for me. Never will, unless I take it and make it happen. You know it, and everyone else here knows it."

"You do know that there will be future missions. You may be needed there." she pauses. "Perhaps, your situation will improve if you attempt to change your behaviour here. Perhaps then, they will leave you alone."

There's more that Tatsu wants to say. She wants to tell him how she sees both sides, his and theirs, and how there's more to this and she knows it. Then, she wants to tell him that change needs to happen both ways, but she doesn't. It's not what he needs to hear right now, and she knows it wouldn't work. The guard's dislike him greatly, and nothing will change that. Boomerang dislikes them back and she knows a conversation won't fix that, but she's not trying to fix it. Tatsu's trying to assist him so he might be able to avoid future mistreatment at their hands.

"Basically, ya want me to play good just so I can get some shit in my cell? Or so I can go out there and do their dirty work, and then get nothin' for it?" Boomerang asks. "I fought aliens for these bastards. Fought those weird fucking aliens, mate. Saved the whole world. Just to end up with nothing. Probably worse off than I was before. How's that fair? And what came from it? Does it look like I got anything? What'd I get for saving this shitty, ungrateful world?"

Nothing, she knows. It's clear from just a look at his conditions to what the others received. It's not like Boomerang was singlehandedly responsible for saving the world, but he played an undeniable part in it. It's just that now, Waller's choosing to deny that role instead of giving him what he deserves for what he did that night. Tatsu doesn't know what exactly he deserves, but she decides it has to be more than this.

"Fuck that. I'm not suckin' their dicks just to get shit. Don't need it, it's not worth it. Waller's never gonna give me shit. And, why? 'cos I was honest? It's not gettin' any better for me here no matter what I do, darl, and ya know it."

"It is not fair." Tatsu says. "But you do not live in such a world anymore. You know this also."

Boomerang nods, then slowly smiles. "Trust me, I know. Had my share of dealin' with these people, I know how to play their games and I'm not doing it anymore. I'm out. Done. I'm playing it my way now, not theirs."

This is not a game, she think, it is your life. It dwells on her. Tatsu longs to say it but somehow, when she reconnects with Boomerang's gaze she sees that he already knows this. She doesn't know if he understands that she knows it, but in his eyes she catches the full depth of it all. He knows that this is his life they're playing with. It's his life that they're hurting here, and beating, and slowly draining away with solitary and sedations. It's his life locked in this cell, where he's left with nothing but a slab of concrete and a toilet. It's quiet again but it feels like a different kind. She still understands this more than he thinks she does.

He's trapped here. In body and in mind. It's a cage around him, filled with pain and anger, and so much frustration. Tatsu understands, just not in the same way. She nearly tells him that, and how not all cages are prison bars, and not all pain is made of bruises and four walls. But he speaks again and she lets those thoughts slip away from her mind for now.

"I wanna know, is this gonna be a regular thing?" he asks, as if the rest of their conversation is forgotten to him now. "You said we're not gettin' friendly. But I mean, you being here. It's too good to happen again anyway, yeah?"

"I'm not sure."

"Nah, it's fine. I get it. Just saying, this is about the only good thing I had in a while."

She watches him, faintly. "I will ask about your request for supplies."

"Need me to tell ya what they are again?"

"No, I think I'll be fine."

Boomerang nods, understandingly. "Plus these pricks are recordin' everything. So I guess it don't matter too much."

Tatsu hums quietly, and then takes a step towards him.

"We are almost done."

Then, she hesitates. It's close again when she leans forward to begin wiping the blood off Boomerang's forehead. Above his brows, and along the space there. It's almost like he pulls away, at first, and maybe it's instinct or maybe it's surprise. Whatever it is, it goes away and Boomerang stays there while Tatsu cleans the blood off his face. She's finishes quickly then steps away to cut some of the bandage away from the roll, to place over a particularly sore looking cut on his right cheek.

She's just about to step back over to place the bandage on his face when there's a sudden knock on the door. It's more like three harsh hits, and then the slot on the door opens up and one of the guard's appears. Peering through, he glances between them and then speaks.

"Five minutes left, inmate."

"Hey, fuckwit." Boomerang shouts. "She's not an inmate, she's got a name."

The guard's gaze is unwavering. "Five minutes."

Then the slot's slammed shut, and Tatsu's left to finish. It won't take five minutes,  and she doesn't mind the limitation too much, it's just that she doesn't recall ever agreeing on an allocated amount of time for visits with Boomerang. It's something she decides she'll bring up with Waller later.

"Shit, that went fast. Five minutes, aye?" he hums lightly. "Hmm. I wonder, what we can possibly do with five minutes. Got any ideas?"

"Stop moving." Tatsu says, and stretches to place the bandage over his face. She's quick, but gentle. "There. You are done."

It feels better now, somehow, knowing that she's done something to ease the situation he's been in here. Tatsu's not sure if it will last, or if it's only a temporary change that will disappear by tomorrow, or even by tonight, but beyond this there's really not too much she can do for him.

"Jus' wondering..."

"Yes?"

"Yer name's not really Katana. Is it?"

Tatsu's not sure why it almost makes her smile but it does. It's so close, that she finds herself glad that her back remains to him, while she's wiping any faint traces of blood off her hands and drying them clean on a spare cloth. She lets it sit, unanswered, for just a minute.

"It is not."

"Got a feelin' ya not gonna tell me. Am I right?"

She nods, and starts to collect the pile of things.

"You are."

"Knew it. Yep. Guess it's something to look forward to?" he sighs, and moves. Over to the edge of the concrete slab. Then he stands, and turns to face her a little more directly. "Hey, so I said it. But thanks, for all this and for the chat."

"I will leave the water with you, and a cloth. To clean anything else up."

"Yeah, thanks. Wasn't so bad having ya here, y'know. And, there's something else. Think I remembered something, from that chat we must've had the other day." Boomerang says, sliding his arms over his chest slowly. "Wasn't sure if I said anything weird, guess I didn't 'cos I couldn't remember. But I remember this. Called you a little mouse, or something like that, 'cos of something I thought. Was something like that, wasn't it?"

"Yes. It was something like that."

"Well, I wanna change it." he states, like it's supposed to mean something.

She frowns slowly. "You want to change, what?"

Boomerang takes another step closer, appearing in much better spirits now. "Didn't mean it like that, not really sure what I meant. But just here, now, when you was cleanin' up my back. Almost felt like a lil' koala back there, hanging off my back. You know. The fluffy little guys. With the cute faces. Yeah?"

Tatsu's not sure she's ever had a conversation with someone confuse her this deeply, or this often.

"I don't understand."

"You're like a little koala bear. Aye?" he answers, smiling wider now. "Get it?"

She still doesn't know what exactly he's saying, or why, but she doesn't like it.

"No."

"Yeah, 'course you are. All tiny, and angry, with sharp little claws. Cute, but fuckin' angry sometimes. And dangerous. You really don't know what they are?"

"Boomerang, think about what I have said." Tatsu's quick to change the conversation, in the hopes he'll forget the name. "They will not make it easier on you, but you can make it easier on yourself."

He makes a low, uninterested noise, then follows her as she walks closer to the door. Once there, Boomerang leans against the concrete wall and fixes his attention back on her, and she isn't sure she's seen him this curious before now. It puzzles her.

"Thought you an' me weren't friendly. But, here you are trying to give me advice. And offering to request cigs and booze for me." Boomerang stops, then leans forward just a little more. He raises his eyebrows at her, and that grin remains there. "Mmm, that seems like something. Seems like maybe you like me, just a bit."

Tatsu blinks at him. Slowly. "I can just as easily leave without asking for your items."

At that comment, the Captain jolts forward. "Nah, don't. I'm just saying."

She raises her eyebrows at him and waits. It's a silent question that he's learned to answer.

"I'm just sayin' that maybe we weren't friendly, but maybe it's more than you let it seem."

It's not something she entertains, not at all. It doesn't seem to deter him in the least, she soon discovers.

"You are wrong about this."

"Don't think I am. Come on, Katana, come here. Bring 'er in." Boomerang says, and suddenly he's stepping closer. Arms opened, grin plastered over his face. He moves in for a hug. "Let's do it. Group hug, hey? Koala's love hugs. Bring 'er in, luv."

"There is no group here." Tatsu says, quickly. Her hand flies up to stop him, and settles against his forearm. It stays there, after he's stopped moving in for a hug. "We do not need to hug."

"Well, there's a lot of things we don't need to do." he makes a point of really drawing out the words. And looking at her closely again, in that same way. "Doesn't mean we shouldn't do it, or that one day we won't."

"Sometimes it does mean that."

Boomerang's smile returns quickly.

"And sometimes it doesn't."

She doesn't realize her hands still there on his forearm, until she feels his skin there beneath her fingers. It's warm and close, and her hand falls away just as the slot on the door is opened. Then, the door follows and creaks open a moment later. Tatsu looks over and her hand falls away from the spot where it was resting. She sees the guard with the bruises at the front, ready to do whatever necessary to Boomerang if he reacts badly. Behind that guard, there's two more, waiting. Tatsu leaves quietly, and only looks back to Boomerang once the door's shut and she can see him through the opened slot.

The first thing that Tatsu notices is his hand. It's resting, faintly, over the spot on his arm where her hand had been. Then he must realize he's not alone, because he quickly comes over to the slot in the door and he sticks his head forward into the space. Getting almost as close as he can without shoving his face right in there.

"Was over too soon. Wasn't it? Already missin ya. It's deep in me, luv. In my chest. You know what that means?" he calls out through the hole in the door. "Maybe it means ya just have to come back again and see me. 'Cos then, it might help me feel better."

"Perhaps."

"Oh, come on. Everybody knows that means no. Can't ya just come back again? Just once? We still gotta have that drink. Remember?"

Tatsu's answer remains and she stays there, looking back at him. "I said I will see."

"Ahh, right. Yeah, yeah. You got that life to live out there. Wish ya the best with that, darl. You go live it, yeah?" Boomerang says. Quietly, and fast. "And hey, hey. Listen, while yer here. How 'bout we have a quick good-bye kiss? For old times sake. Jus' a quick kiss, yeah?"

The slot's closed in less than a second. Tatsu shuts it, and as she prepares to walk away she hears something strange. Something she wishes wasn't familiar, but it is. It's Boomerang on the other side of his door, laughing to himself. It's quiet and barely there, but it's something. It's better than listening to him scream, she decides, as she begins to walk away. Whatever feeling's with her at the sound of it doesn't last for long, since the guard with the bruises abruptly stops her, and gestures in a direction that Tatsu's already familiar with.

"Agent Waller wants to see you immediately."

Chapter Text

Jenn Borhk is Tatsu's next mission.

She's called into Agent Waller's office at the prison to discuss her first mission outside of the Task Force. It really is something that she knows she should have expected, knowing Waller the way she does. She knows she should have expected that, on her first visit to see him, Waller would take it from them and use it as a way to remind them of who will always be in control. It bothers Tatsu, the way that these terms were never agreed on. Things like time limitation for visits, and Waller having the authority to end the visits whenever she decides that she wants to, is something that's never been discussed or agreed on by the two of them. It bothers her enough that she decides she will say something when the time is right but that time isn't now, so instead she waits and listens as Waller continues to discuss the details of the mission with her.

Tatsu takes the file when it's offered and reads it quickly. He's just another criminal in Gotham, she learns this from Waller and the information in his file confirms this. It's just that this criminal is fairly well-liked and useful, in a bad way, to a few powerful individuals in the city. Waller wants him gone, he's causing too much trouble for an associate of hers, and he needs to be stopped. This is all Tatsu is given, no reasons or suspicions about the man are shared with her beyond this information. Waller tells Tatsu the things she needs to know, like what Jenn has done and what his victims have looked like when he's finished with them. It's all that Tatsu needs to know to decide that she will do it, not that she really has too much of a choice anymore, not with this.

Agent Waller tells her to get it done. It needs to be clean and quick, with no mess and no witnesses. Nothing can link back to Tatsu, because that will lead back to Waller and then to Flag, and once it leads back to those two it's only a matter of time before it leads back to the Task Force. This is something that no one here wants, and even if it seems like lately the two of them haven't really had much in common or agreed on much (especially in regards to a certain Captain) this is something that they agree on. It can't lead back to them, none of their missions can, so it won't. Tatsu won't allow it to lead back to them.

She reads the file over again, knowing just what she will do with one more glance. He's one man, one criminal. His name is Jenn Borhk and he's been suspected and arrested of many things, but the crimes he's never been caught for are his worst ones. He's a criminal and a bad man, and he's also a very useful and well liked man. Waller informs her that on Friday nights he likes to have company and after he's done is when Tatsu will move in. It's that simple, and when Tatsu's finished reading the file she offers it back to Waller.

Across from her, over by a long, tidied desk, Waller makes no move to take the file back. "You keep it. Every part of this needs to be done right and professionally. You keep it and you read it, until you know it well enough that when you shut your eyes you see it. You see him, his face, and his list of victims. Then, you get rid of it." she says, pausing only to flick through the pages of a file on her table. "I need you to know something else, Katana. I need you to understand why it's you. Why I picked you for this job. Do you know why? I could have picked anyone here. They're expendable. You're valuable. So, why did I pick you? Why did I risk you, on just another criminal in Gotham?"

There's a pause between them. Something silent and obvious. Tatsu knows exactly why Waller needs her, it's because she's a weapon that can be used and wielded at whoever Waller wants to point her at. She's a valuable, reliable weapon, unlike anyone else here. It's something that she knows, it's something they both already know.

Waller gives her no time to answer, but it doesn't seem like she's really waiting for one. "I could have pulled anyone out of here and used them. Lawton would do any contract I put in front of him, just for more visitation. He would do anything I ask for that visitation. They all would. This makes them useful to me, and I know that they're skilled. I don't underestimate their skills because of what kind of people they are, or because of where they are. I know exactly what they are: they're useful, and dangerous, and I fully intend to use their skills again, for as long as I can."

"Yes, they are those things." Tatsu answers. "But you have said it before, that they are expendable."

"You're right, Katana, they are. They always will be, and one day I'll be finished with them. One day they'll be finished, but that day isn't coming anytime soon. I'm not done with them yet." Waller's reply comes back quickly. "So, back to my question: why did I pick you? Because you're better than thugs. You're cleaner and smarter, and your skills are impressive. I also need to know what you can do. I've seen what you can do, but now I need to know it. I need to know that you can do the simple shit, like killing a low-life criminal. Because sometimes it's harder to get the simple shit done than it is to do the hard shit that needs to be done."

Tatsu doesn't know how to answer that, so she doesn't. She says nothing and she stays there, observing Waller, while her mind drifts back to the electricity that feels like it's lingering there. It's not like the lights from Midway city this time, these are different kinds of thoughts, and colors, and lights. It all leads her back to thoughts of Boomerang in his cell, and thinking of him leads her to thoughts of the others that are here at Belle Reve. Existing, waiting, but not living. Waiting for Waller to take them out of the shadows and use them again, until they're not needed anymore.

It's like a current of colors and thoughts in her mind. Shades of blue, and white, with sparks of red faded into it all. They linger with her like the team does, in that way she's still not sure that she's comfortable with. There's not too much about this that she finds comfortable, really.

"You're a selectively chatty woman. Aren't you, Katana?"

It takes only a moment for her to understand what Waller's implying, and she isn't surprised by it. It makes sense to her that Waller would observe them, while they were together in his cell. It's what she does. Agent Waller takes situations and she uses them, twisting them to whatever way she needs them to be. Tatsu is that for Waller, she's an opportunity, something to use. She's something to use against Boomerang, and now he's become something to be used against her.

"You seemed to get on quite well with the Captain, much better than I thought would be possible for anyone at all. I must say that I'm very impressed by that." Agent Waller continues. "Usually, I hear that he never sits still like that. Not really. So, well done to you. It seems like you're as good at calming criminals as you are at killing them."

Tatsu finds that she needs to press her teeth together to stop herself from voicing her thoughts. Somehow, it seems that Waller still knows what she's thinking about right now. She's thinking of Boomerang's treatment here; the bruises, the sedation, and the way he's been left with nothing, even after he helped to save the world. Waller knows this is what she's thinking, without a word and without a flicker of an expression or thought over Tatsu's face.

It seems that there's almost a smile there, when she looks back at her. It settles into something unreadable. "You do understand that what you're doing is for the greater good. These missions need to be done, by the very best. Despite the circumstances that created this arrangement, I am glad for it. You are one of the best that I've seen, and I have every confidence in your abilities."

She nods, once. Barely. "Thank you, Agent Waller."

Seeming mostly pleased for now, Waller smiles again. "Our deal stands, Katana. Once this mission is completed, you will have the chance to return here to visit. Before you ask, I will think of Boomerang's request in your absence. Cigarettes are out of the question since he's already started fires in his cell with less than that. I will consider the rest. After your mission in Gotham, you will go on to Manhattan to complete a second mission. It's something urgent, that you will be briefed on when you're on your way there. I will consider Boomerang's requests depending on the success of these missions. Do you understand?"

"Yes, I understand, Agent Waller." she says, and it's soon followed by a pause. A hesitation. "There are two things that I'd like to discuss before I leave today, if it's okay."

Waller nods, then waits. "Go on, Katana."

"I was not aware that there were time limitations on my visits here."

"There are none. You're free to stay for as long as you like." she answers, back over near her desk now, to sort through piles of paper scattered there. "I pulled you out today because I needed to see you before I left. And, I wanted to discuss the details of your mission with you. Take the file with you, there's a number to call when it's done. I trust you will keep the details to yourself."

"I will."

Tatsu waits. She finds herself waiting again, to voice her last thought. Her request. It's for him, but in a way it's also for her. She hopes by doing this, and by helping Boomerang in this way, that it will ease the weight of the thoughts of him that linger with her.

"You said that you will consider his request for cigarettes, and I do understand your reluctance considering how many fires he has started in his cell before." Tatsu says, eventually. "I would like to retrieve something else for him, while I am here now. May I see his belongings? There is something I'd like to retrieve for him from there, today."

"What exactly do you want, from his bag?" Waller asks, half-frowning now. "It's not flammable, is it?"

"No, it isn't." she explains. "It's a drink, for the Captain."

This seems to amuse Waller, apparently. "He wants beer? That's it? Fine. I'll allow that. Someone will take you to his belongings, and you may look through them. If there's beer there, he can have one can. You may take one thing for him, and nothing else."

"Thank you."

Waller gives a shake of her head, after she gathers several things up from the desk. Then she's off, towards the direction of the door. It's only when she's at the door that she stops and looks back to Katana, in that close way that feels like she's somehow she knows just what Tatsu is thinking about right now.

"No, don't do that. Don't thank me. I'm not doing this for you, or for him. It's for the safety of this country, and for the world. One beer won't hurt his situation here." Waller explains simply. "I'll find someone to escort you to where their belongings are kept. Don't forget that you leave soon. Transport will be here for you in ten. You get five minutes to see him before you leave, I think you've had enough contact with him today. We'll discuss your other requests upon your return and successful completion of both missions. Good-luck, Katana."

 

**

 

Boomerang's belongings, if one could even call them that, are tucked away in a small room with several other bags filled with the items and personal belongings of the rest of the Task Force. They have their own storage room; it's narrow and hidden away from main corridors, and guarded by men on each door. She understands their caution. Tatsu is left in there alone, with a light on, the bags there for her to search through, and the folder with the mission details pressed between her hands.

She leaves the folder on a nearby shelf that's empty and she navigates her way through the room until she finds the bag with his belongings in it. Tatsu hovers there for a moment, feeling a small uncertainty as she looks down at it. This is personal, and it's more than she ever asked for, but she knows there isn't enough time to spend it like this, waiting and thinking it over in her mind. She's been given five minutes to pick one thing out for him from his bag, and then she will have some time to speak to him through the slot on the door before she leaves.

It doesn't feel like a lot of time but today it will have to be. Slowly, Tatsu kneels down in front of the large, dark-colored bag. She reaches for it, unzips it, and starts to search through it piece by piece. Item, by item. It's filled with so many things, most of them she expected. She isn't surprised to see the piles of money, the weapons, and the pieces of jewellery tucked away in his bag. Tatsu's read his file, she knows why he's here and what he liked to steal. She expects all of these things, and she isn't surprised when she discovers a lot more money hidden away in his bag— what Tatsu doesn't expect is to find a pink plush pony amongst his things.

It's hidden, tucked away inside of Boomerang's large coat. Her fingers clasp around the toy gently and she almost finds herself puzzled by it. She knows that it isn't her place to question it, or him, and yet she finds that she wants to. These are his things and he likely has his reasons for having them, and it isn't something that she's going to push or try to understand, even if she really wants to ask about the pony.

But she finds that she almost wants to. She wants to question it, and to ask more about him, but she won't. The plush toy ends up back in his bag, and Tatsu continues with her search until she finds the beer. Remembering Waller's instructions about picking one thing, she puts everything else away and takes a single can of beer. That's when she hesitates.

It's quiet outside, where there's a guard waiting for her, and Tatsu doesn't know how much time she has left here but it doesn't feel like a lot. She thinks on it, before she goes back for the plush pony. Tatsu doesn't know why, she's only allowed to give him the one thing and yet she can't stop herself from wanting to give him the pony. It's not something that she understands, even as she's doing it. Why? She doesn't know. She just takes it and hides it, concealing it under her jacket. Tatsu tucks the toy away out of sight. Then, she packs away the rest of his things like she was never here and she leaves, picking up the file from the shelf on her way out of the room.

They lead her back to his cell next, like she doesn't already remember the way there. Tatsu stops when they reach the door and she waits, with a can of beer in her hand and a pink toy for a criminal concealed under her jacket. It really isn't how she thought today would go, and yet here she is. She continues to wait, for the guard to move from near the door, but he doesn't move at all.

"Agent Waller has granted—" she begins.

He talks over her. "I know, I know. So go on, talk to him."

"Privately."

The guard makes a noise, when Tatsu doesn't move or blink. "Alright, so you've got two minutes then. That's all. I'll step over here to give you two 'privacy', but I'm not walking away."

Tatsu continues to stare back at him. Quietly, and directly. "Waller agreed on five minutes, not two. We have five minutes."

"Yeah, you're right. She said five minutes, but that included how long it's going to take you to walk out to the helo." he calls out, while stepping off to the side. "What? She left that bit out? That's too bad."

Standing outside of his cell reminds Tatsu of her first visit here, but it all feels different now in just a few days. She steps closer to the door, lifts a hand to the latch, and with a quiet sigh she pulls it open. Boomerang's over by the concrete slab washing his face with some water when Tatsu peers in. She notices that one of the cloths is hanging over the edge of the slab, it looks recently wet, and then she sees that the blood that was scattered over his legs and waist is gone now.

He's trying to take care of himself, or at least clean himself up, and Tatsu doesn't know why it feels like that means something to her but it does. It means something else that she can't explain. It takes only a moment for Boomerang to look up, once the slot to the door is opened. Once he sees her, it changes. Everything on his face changes and he goes from being confused to being extremely happy that she's here to see him again.

Boomerang smiles at her, drops the cloth, and quickly walks over to the slot on the door. "Hey, what's this? You really are a keen one, hey?" he stops, when he's right in front of the slot. It feels like there's almost no distance left. His grin widens. "I knew that you thought the same as I did. That the two of us were peas in a pod."

"I'm not here for that, I don't have much time."

His grin stays there in place; confident, and teasing. "So you keep saying, but you keep coming back. Again, and again. Come back for that quick kiss, huh? I knew it. Ya just couldn't resist me. I have to say that I'm pretty surprised you're back. I'm a man who has seen a lot of crazy shit, so that's saying something, that I'm surprised that you came back. But, like I said, I can't blame ya. The heart wants what it wants. Aye, luv?"

Tatsu stares at him for a while, through the little space left between them. "You know that this is not why I'm here."

He nods slowly, eyes lingering on her in that way that still feels too close. "Yeah, but you're so much fun to play with."

"Do you still have the bottle of water with you?" she asks.

"Yeah, it's just over here. Why?" Boomerang pauses, for a second. He looks away, then back to her. "Ya did just leave, right? Sometimes I think I'm just losing so much time in here."

"Yes, I was here." Tatsu confirms, and nods. "Will you pass me the bottle?"

"Uhhh, alright. Alright, sure. Let me get it for ya." his reply comes back, slowly. Boomerang disappears, then quickly returns, passing her the bottle through the slot. "What's it for? It's a bit weird to ask for it. Didn't just come back for it, did ya? Bet you came back for that kiss, and now yer just using the bottle as an excuse to—"

And then he sees it. Boomerang sees the can of beer in Tatsu's hand, and she's not sure that she's ever seen him smile that much. She thinks about it for a second, and then decides that she's never seen anyone smile that much. It happens fast, after that. Boomerang lets out a loud noise of excitement. Something like a cheer. Then, he laughs so loudly and freely that it's like he forgets where he is. Tatsu cracks open the can and starts to tip it into the water bottle, knowing that it would be dangerous to give him something to turn into a potential weapon. Boomerang doesn't seem at all bothered by what the beer comes in, he's just so very excited by it. He seems to almost be jumping with this anticipation and excitement, it's something he can hardly contain.

"Hey, luv. Oh, Katana. I always liked you the best. Did I ever tell ya that? 'cause I do. I mean it, I do." he says, loudly. Grin wide over his lips, and his blue eyes set on her. "Ah, shit. Don't even know what to say, or how you set this up. But I want to tell you how much it means to me, and how fucking excited I am. Shit, this is just beautiful."

She doesn't remember his eyes being that blue, and she doesn't remember them looking like that—like they're deep, and endless, like small pools of water that are lit up by something bright, and dark, at the same time. Tatsu draws her eyes away from his after these thoughts slip away, quickly forgetting the wild specks of color she caught in his eyes.

"Less than two minutes left, inmate." the guard interrupts, from over where he's standing. "And remember, no contact."

Boomerang sighs loudly. It's a little dramatic, but there's a real anger there when he looks back at the guard. "Oi, fuckwit. Didn't we just talk about this? We just talked about this shit, remember? She's got a name, she's not an inmate."

The guard stays there, amused by this. "Clearly."

It irritates Boomerang, just enough that he shouts back. "Hey, shithead. What's that 'sposed to mean? You got something you want to say to my face, huh? You shitbag. Why don't you come over and say it?"

She interrupts them, knowing that this could go on for a long time. "George, there isn't much time." Tatsu sets a hand on the outside of the door. "Forget the guard for now. I leave soon, so focus on this."

His eyes dart right back over to her. "Shit, that sounds weird. A bit serious, too. You never called me that before." Boomerang says, and there's a long pause after it. "Didn't even think you'd know what my name was. Guess it makes sense that you read it in my file."

Then he stops and bites down on his bottom lip. It quickly turns into a smile.

"Guess that means you have to tell me your name now."

Tatsu almost raises her eyebrow back at him. "Does it?"

He nods, grin widening. "Yeah, 'cos we're friendly. I like to know my friend's names. Like to get to know 'em well, too. Since you know mine, it's only fair that I know yours. Fair's fair. Right?"

Fair's fair. Ain't it? You want me to do something for you? she recalls the words silently and privately. It's clear to Tatsu now that it means nothing to him, that he has no recollection of the things he said to her that day, or the way that he acted at the end of it all. You do something for me and, listen, after that I'll do whatever the fuck it is ya want me to do.

"Leave the guard, for now. Let it be." she says, soon. "I have something for you. Something better than that."

"Yeah, I know. Fuck, of course I know. You got beer, you wonderful thing. That's what you are, Katana. Wonderful."

Tatsu leans closer, choosing to stay silent rather than answer that. She doesn't know how to answer it. It's quiet as she stretches over to the slot and extends the bottle to Boomerang. She lingers, and watches him have his first sip of beer. It's like a million different things pass over his face in the moments after he's swallowed it. He's euphoric, grinning widely in seconds.

"Oh, fucking hell." Boomerang's eyes shut, only for a moment. "Oh. Fuck me, this is incredible."

She stays close, because they're not done yet. "There is something else I have for you."

It seems to make him curious, at least curious enough to stop drinking for a moment. Boomerang looks back down at her through the slot and waits, while Tatsu works out how exactly this will go, and what she will say. She doesn't know what to say, if he asks her why she retrieved this for him. It's instinct, she thinks, or just a feeling. She considers that maybe she retrieved it so it would be something soft in his cell, and something comfortable, unlike the hard walls around him and the harsh concrete slab he calls a bed. Tatsu doesn't know with certainty if this is why, but she feels like it is.

"I was only allowed to bring you one thing. But, I have this with me because it is something I thought you may have wanted." Tatsu pauses, resting her hand on the outside of her jacket. "I have it with me because I may not be back for sometime. I need a guarantee, before you see it."

"Huh? You're going somewhere?"

"Please, try not to make things so difficult on yourself in my absence." Tatsu cuts over him, quickly. It's rushed because they're almost out of time. "Agree to it. Consider it. Then, I will give this to you and you will owe me nothing for  it."

"Your absence?" he almost frowns, then pauses to drink a little more beer. "Where are ya going? Damn, I think I'll miss you just a bit. Was just getting used to this."

"Will you agree to this?"

Boomerang shrugs, sort of. "Yeah, I mean, sure. I can't exactly make that promise, but I can guarantee that I'll consider it. I'll try. How's that?"

Good enough, she decides, and throws the briefest look over her shoulder at the guard behind them. He's currently occupied, removing something that looks like pink bubble-gum from the bottom of his shoe. Tatsu looks away from him and decides that now she will have a chance to give this to him, hopefully without being seen doing so. She looks back to Boomerang and sees it then, the way that he's staring at her. Through it all, she sees that this means something to him. It's the beer, and it's the gesture, that mean something to him. Tatsu moves slowly, to peel open her jacket to show him what's concealed beneath it.

"Don't make it obvious, Captain."

Then she shows him the plush toy hidden away beneath the cover of her jacket and it all changes again. It changes Boomerang's expression, and she's not sure what she expected but it's not this. It seems that lately, everything about him is almost completely unexpected. Boomerang lets out a high, loud noise at the sight of the pink pony. It's something between a squeal, something of excitement, and some noise resembling disbelief. It twists into a laugh, that somehow turn into a few loud words.

"Holy shit, Pinky!"

It's as obvious as Tatsu should have expected that it would be. She sighs and quickly folds the jacket over, taking a few steps closer to the door. Behind them, the guard informs them they have one minute left. She tries to compose herself, while also fighting to ignore the deep and complex reaction from the Captain over a toy, but it's undeniably strange (and maybe for once it isn't actually the bad kind of strange) to see such a response from a man like Boomerang, over something as simple as a plush toy.

"Oh, darling. Oh." he sighs, and smiles slowly. "This just has to be in my head, right? This is too fucking good to be true. How did you even find him? Shit, this is just unreal. Hey, I can't even process this. It's too unreal right now."

Tatsu's eyes linger on his smile again, and then she looks away. "There isn't enough time. Here, take it. Quickly."

She stretches up just enough to slip the toy through the slot on the door, knowing that there's a chance it will be noticed, by a guard or someone watching them through the camera in the cell. Tatsu doesn't know why she doesn't mind that thought, but she doesn't. On the other side of the door, he quickly takes the toy and stuffs it away out of sight. Before Tatsu can stretch her hand back through the slot, Boomerang catches it. Gently, and tentatively. He takes a hold of her hand lightly and holds it for a moment. Tatsu doesn't move at all, not at first, while his hand stays clutched around hers. His hands are large over hers, but gentle. She feels his fingers, lingering against her hand, and pressed softly against her palm.

"Shit, luv. What do I even say?" he asks. It's quiet, like it's just for her now. "Don't even have the words for you. Don't think you know what this means to me. Really, I'm fucking speechless."

"Fifteen seconds left." the guard behind them calls out. He sounds closer now. "And no contact, inmate and visitor."

Tatsu begins to withdraw her hand from his then, but Boomerang holds on. For just a minute longer, he holds on, and then he presses a thankful kiss to her hand and lets go. She pulls her hand back through the slot, hesitates, and slowly looks back to Boomerang.

"I'll be honest, for a second there I thought you were gonna flash me or something. But this, this is better than I can say. I don't even know what to say to you. You are just something else, Katana, and I don't even know what to say."

The guard's standing next to her now, waiting for their time to be up.

 "Five seconds."

"Ignore this shithead. We've still got time. We make our own time, right?" Boomerang starts to say. "So, I'm gonna miss you. When are ya coming back to see me? You didn't say—"

The slot between them is closed suddenly and Tatsu is left to the silence that lingers. She hears it, on his side of the door and on hers, and Tatsu wonders if it's because Boomerang knows when to let the silence stay. Now, he has beer, and his plush toy. She finds herself thinking about it again, and the moment his eyes settled on it.

Tatsu steps away from the door then, leaving on her own, because she's been here enough times to know the way out. It just feels a little different this time, that's all. There's a lot that feels different now, she realizes. She can't keep it down, just like she can't stop thinking about the weight of his hand, around hers. It feels different, in a way that's not sure is entirely bad or good.

 

**

 

It ends quickly.

Tatsu finds Jenn alone at the end of a long night. It's fast and clean, and it's exactly what Waller asked of her for this mission. She completes it swiftly and with no mess, and when it's over she leaves like she was only a shadow. There in passing, never really there at all. She follows Waller's plan and her instructions, and when she's far enough away to make the call she does.

She doesn't speak with Agent Waller directly, it's just another voice on the end of the phone, who says nothing and just listens. They listen as Tatsu confirms that it's done, and then the call ends and the mission's over, and she's left with it all. She's left with what she's done, what she feels she's achieved, and with the thoughts that stay there in the back of her mind. There's a part of her that feels lost, doing this, living like this. She doesn't like that feeling, or the way that the answers to these thoughts and questions still escape her. It's like they're running from her now, and when her mind circles back around to them—and to thoughts of Boomerang, back in Belle Reve—she lets them run away. Tatsu thinks of them too often, she wants to let them go for now, and it's only when she decides this that she seems to think of them even more.

It's hard to distract herself from them, when she knows what tonight was and what it will be again. Tonight was Waller's chance to show Tatsu just how she will use her, and who she will use her again. Waller plans to use Tatsu against any kind of criminal, including the ones in the Task Force. It's difficult to pretend like she doesn't see the similarities here. Jenn wasn't like them, not really, but the more that she thinks on it the more that she notices the way he was like them. They're criminals and they've all done bad things, maybe not like Jenn, but they're still criminals like he was. Criminals that Waller is tired of, and wants to control or kill. It leads her back to these thoughts, and it's now that she's sure that Waller knew just what she was doing when she chose this man to be Tatsu's first target outside of the Task Force. It's supposed to remind her, of who they are and who she is in all of this. It works.

Rain starts to fall from the sky, when Tatsu's finished in Gotham. It's light and scattered, and she feels it hitting her skin. She leaves, on her way to her next mission now, and as she does she wonders if this is what her life will be like, for now at least. She wonders if her life will be focused on moving from criminal to criminal, to silence them and kill them, and then to return to a group of them—to sit with them, and drink coffee with them, and discuss normal things with them. It's something she's not used to, and she's not sure she could ever be. It gnaws at her quietly, pushing her to find answers that are still escaping her. Tatsu allows them to run from her for now, she decides that she's done thinking about them tonight so she lets it go. She lets it go and forces them out of her mind, focusing on anything else that will distract her from them.

Tatsu gets lost thinking about the way that the rain feels on her skin, particularly the way the beads of feel hitting the inside of her palm. It feels cold on her skin, and the droplets feel small. She imagines that they're distantly tainted a deep shade of blue.

 

**

 

She speaks to him with Soultaker in her hands. It's the day before her mission in Manhattan and she feels the familiar pull to him. It isn't like the tether that she dreams of, it's something else entirely that pulls her to Maseo. It's something that can't be seen but is always there with her. It aches in the way that it often does, and through the pain he lingers. He always does. Close to her, and near her. Tatsu's eyes shut slowly and she draws him back to her, she pulls his voice to her so she may speak to him of all the things she carries with her now.

Tell me, she whispers to him, what should I do? It's quiet, it's just for him. Tatsu speaks to him as she always does, only this time she talks to him of things she hasn't before. She tells him of how she feels cursed, since that night in Midway City, and then she speaks of the dreams with the shadows of butterflies, the bleeding hearts, and the burning darkness. Tatsu tells him of these things and more, and in her words she searches for meaning, or answers, of what she should do next. She longs to know what to do about them, and about this, and there is so much uncertainty in her words that she finds no meaning.

Tatsu is lost; this isn't new, it's something that's been there for years. It's only now that there's a different kind of feeling that lingers with it all. There's a part of her that knows what it is. Her mind tells her that it's her connection to the Task Force, this is why she feels the way she does. Trapped and lost, and somehow not trapped at all. She isn't really in this situation with Waller by choice, but then again, yes, she is. Her mind tells her this, while her heart tells her that there's no connection there. It's the guilt, it's the way Santana died, and it's nothing more than that. There's no tether, she tells herself, and then she recalls the dreams, the meetings with them, and what she saw that night in them, and she finds that she doesn't know what to believe. She's felt the tether but she tries to tell herself it doesn't exist, because this would be a simpler life without them in it. Tatsu doubts that there's more to them, or to this, and then a moment passes and she wants to believe that there's more to it all and she doesn't know why she wants to believe it, but she does. She considers that it's because of what she's given to them, and for them, and she wants to feel that it's worth something, or that it will be worth something at the end.

I am lost here without you, with them, Tatsu confesses to the darkness around her, once it's over. He's gone and she still confesses it, to the silence, to the memory of him, and she already knows this. She's lost without him, left here in this life, and she's lost with them. It's one of the few thing she's certain of lately, that she is in this with them, whatever this is. When it's all over and she feels the connection is gone, Tatsu feels tired again. Tired of the weight she's carrying now, and tired of the battle that she feels going on between her mind and her heart.

 

**

 

The mission in Manhattan is messy. She doesn't do messy.

It almost feels like it's something that was always going to happen. It's not out of her control, not really. She handles it and completes the mission, despite the complications, but it's almost out of her control. There are casualties, more than just the one target for the mission, and when it's over it leaves Tatsu with crimson stained hands, and their marks on her skin. The nameless man, the urgent mission that Waller sent her on after Gotham, is like Jenn but he's different. He's not a nameless man anymore, either. She looks into him, and her research tells her that David K. Matheson is many things; he is a criminal, a skilled thief, a suspected murderer, and he is connected to Belle Reve by a network of friends, and a distant cousin, who worked there for some time until he disappeared, leaving nothing behind.

There will be nothing left behind of Matheson when they're done with him. Tatsu completes the mission, despite how it begins, and the way it turns into a mess. She's not like this, she's better than this. It isn't difficult for Tatsu to handle, after it turns out the way it does. She expects one, attempts to take him down, and then she faces five more. She kills five, instead of one, and she kills them quickly. Easily. Because she knows how to do this, she's spent years killing criminals and bad men. It's her nature, it's her strength. It's a will inside of her, and it works with her word. It's a part of her. Her sword is connected to her, and with each breath and movement, it follows her. It becomes a part of her, and it takes them down.

That part of her kills the five of them, and leaves red running over the carpet around their lifeless bodies. It's not her task to clean it up, Waller's got someone else to take care of it now that it's done. It was her task to stop Matheson and Tatsu does this, she's just left wondering if she's really followed the instructions for this mission, like in Gotham, like she usually does. It's messy after because of where they cut her, and it isn't supposed to be messy. She isn't supposed to bleed. Somewhere, between finding them and killing them, there's a vase shattered. A crystal shard is used against her.

It cuts her, leaving a jagged wound on her cheek and a winding cut across her palm. The cut to her jaw is long and thin, and it's nothing compared to the pain that she's felt before but she still feels it. It will heal and fade, and turn into a scar that will stay with her. For now, it isn't a scar. Now, it's open and it bleeds down the side of her face. Drops of crimson spill down on her neck, Tatsu leaves them for now. Her eyes wander down to her palm and over the cut there. In the chaos, caused by them and never felt by her for a second, one of them cut her. It's wide and spans across her hand, along the lines of her palm. It almost makes her think of something else, once slipped around her hand, but Tatsu doesn't allow it and for once, in a long time, her mind listens and stops those thoughts from slipping in. There's no time to think of it now, not after what's happened today.

She doesn't know how this happened. Tatsu knows she isn't like this, she's better than this, except today she isn't. Today she feels messy, and she feels her blood, sticky against her skin. The darkened night welcomes her when it's over, providing a place for her to escape into. For once, she finds that her first thoughts aren't of them, or of him. She thinks of what happened tonight, and the way the sharp cut across her jaw feels. It makes her think of this life again, and what it will be, and then it stirs up thoughts of the life that she once lived. It's not her life anymore, it feels like a life of a stranger, or a ghost of who she was, but she still thinks of it for a moment. She thinks of who she was before all of this—before the scars, the mask, the blood on her skin, the house that burned down, and the tether—and it's almost too much to think of on a night like this one.

Tatsu wipes the blood away and moves on (except it doesn't feel like she moves on at all).

Chapter Text

Manhattan leaves a mark on her, it's why she dreams tonight. Tatsu dreams of an ocean, and there she is alone. Surrounded by darkness at first, that breaks away like broken walls collapsing around her. An ocean slips through the cracks; it's vast, cold, and endlessly blue. There are no burning cities, red skies, or butterflies here. Here the skies are stained blue, not red, and here she is alone in a peaceful, quiet kind of way. The beach is still, empty for miles and miles. In this dream, Tatsu imagines herself here. She doesn't see herself, she just feels that she's there, hovering above the waves at first. It's almost like she's here to see it all first, and to feel it later.

The waves are fast and deep, and it's like they're angry with her. A glance at them changes everything, and soon they're replaced by lighter waves that appear soft and endlessly bright. She's left above them, staring at the way they twist and pull for hours. The deep blue promises her something endless and calm, and Tatsu feels a longing to fall beneath the waves and exist there. Weightless, and free, and calm. Tatsu doesn't feel this calm when she wakes, with sweat running down her spine and a migraine throbbing badly in her head. She stays there for a moment, covered by thin sheets, with her eyes fixed on the ceiling as she tries to go back there.

Back to the waves and the quiet, and a place of peace that doesn't seem to exist anywhere in her reality. Tatsu's first thought after she escapes the blue of her dreams is that her palm stings. It aches from the cut, and from being clenched tightly into a fist. She uncurls it slowly and lifts it out in front of her, noticing the way that the blood has seeped through the bandage tightly wrapped around it.

Spots of red are scattered through the fabric, they're seeping through to the surface of the bandage now. Tatsu lets her hand fall away as she pulls herself over to rest on the edge of the mattress. She curls her hands back together now, tightly, until the feeling passes and she knows that she's out of the dream. It isn't strange to dream of the waves or to feel lost in them, she's dreamt of them before and this reassures her that it's okay. She dreams of them some nights, and on  those nights a wild, spiralling ocean pulls her away from the sticky heat and sirens of Gotham that linger around her.

Tatsu remembers the waves fondly, in her own way. She sees them as they were tonight, and recalls the way they pulled together, crashing and falling alone—only to reach the same place in the end. It's not something that Tatsu understands, why she dreams of this or why she sees it the way she does. It's just there, with all of the other thoughts and dreams that slip through the cracks in her hands.

Sometimes she dreams that she's the ocean, that she is a wave. Violent, forceful, and calm. She crashes, recovers, and pulls herself together only to fall again. Then there are nights when Tatsu dreams she's the shore, instead of the waves that crash and fall onto it. She is alone here, and endless. Something to break apart, and then pull back together. There are also nights when she's not the shore or the waves, she's just herself. A woman, a warrior. Left alone, at the edge of the water, where the waves crawl up around her.

She almost feels it now, the light water splashing against her skin. Tatsu decides after a moment that tonight she was the ocean, it's just something she feels she knows. Tearing apart the dreams, learning from them, and making decisions about what they mean is the only real way that Tatsu finds she can accept them. It's the only thing that calms her mind. That, and the whiskey, of course.

Whiskey always helps her to forget, even if it only really helps for a while. Tatsu finds it in the kitchen near the sink and reaches for it eagerly. She pours a glass, drinks it slowly, and lets her gaze wander back down to her stained hand. There's a thick, tightly wrapped bandage around the cut and it reminds her of the way that Manhattan marked her. It scarred her, it made her bleed, and it kept her from Belle Reve. It's still keeping her away, and she tells herself she doesn't know why but she does.

She starts with the blood on her own hands. In the quiet of the Gotham apartment, Tatsu finishes with the whiskey and begins with the pale bandage wrapped around her palm. She unwinds it, discards it, and returns to the ceramic sink near the tub to clean the wound. There, she turns the tap on and allows the cold water to flow out steadily before she lowers her palm beneath it. It's not a particularly long cut, it's not really a deep one either, but it hurts in its own way. The water helps to cleanse it, to wash the dried blood away from her palm. Tatsu cares for it slowly, using a damp cloth to wipe away the spots of blood that have stained and lingered on her skin.

It's over soon, and Tatsu's left to dry the cut and cover it with a fresh bandage. It feels too tight around her palm, so she readjusts it, ties it again, and then finds a place to sit on the edge of the bathtub. Gotham is loud tonight, in a way that crawls right under her skin and stays there. She hears their voices and the sirens, and it reminds her of their pain, and of the all the things going on tonight that she can't stop. All the pain that she can do nothing about tonight, and all of the people causing the pain that she can't stop. It's always there with her, tonight it feels heavier, she feels more aware of it.

She knows that she could run from it if she wanted, or at least she tells herself that she could. Tatsu knows that she doesn't have to be here tonight, that there are other places she could stay, but she doesn't run. Gotham is close to Belle Reve, and that's where she's needed next. So Tatsu stays there, perched on the edge of the tub for what feels like hours, until she pushes herself back to the sink to wash her face. She barely looks at her reflection once she gets there, but Tatsu still sees it all. She sees the scars, the memories, and what Manhattan left on her face. It's all there, and when Tatsu angles her gaze at the mirror and tilts her head back she's reminded of it all again.

It's a jagged, long cut along her jaw. It's like the other scars but it's different, it's obvious. It feels exposed, and the memory of it feels raw. Tatsu's eyes linger on it for half a second before she dips the edge of the cloth in the cold water and cleans away the faded blood from the cut. The sink is spotted with more specks of crimson when she's finished, it reminds her of many things. It doesn't bother her tonight, the way she thinks of Boomerang and the others. She considers that it doesn't bother her because it feels like one of those nights where she's too tired to fight the thoughts of them, or of him. Tatsu feels them seep into her, the same way that Gotham gets under her skin. It's the Captain that she feels the most. It's unexplainable, but it's there. Seeping into her skin and crawling beneath it, until it feels like he's in her bloodstream and she can't get him out.

Once Tatsu is finished cleaning herself up, she moves back over to the tub and sits down on the edge. Her eyes shut fast, and she feels the wind brushing against the cut on her jaw. She wants to give it time to heal while she sits here, resting in the darkness. It reminds her of being back in Boomerang's cell, she realizes this soon. Tatsu finds herself thinking of his torn knuckles, the red spotted over him, and the mess of purple and black bruises littered all over his back. She remembers the longing she felt next, to stretch out and place her hands on his skin, to let him feel something soft and kind. It's something she didn't allow herself to do, or to feel, but it stays with her still.

Her eyes shut tighter as she thinks about him and what Belle Reve leaves on him. Tatsu remembers his hands next—his large, bruised, and almost broken hands—and how gentle they were against her own despite this. She thinks about the contrast, between the softness of his touch and the blood smeared over his raggedly torn knuckles. It's a thought that Tatsu can't get rid of, it's a memory that's still there. It's like the ghost of his hands brushes against hers in the darkness, and her eyes open quickly.

The apartment is empty when she looks around, and it isn't like she wasn't expecting it to be, it's just that the memory of him weighs heavy on her tonight. Her apartment remains empty as it always is, and shadowed in darkness. Her eyes wander back to the bandage wrapped around her palm a few minutes later, and it leads her back to thoughts of him. Why? It's obvious, she tells herself, but she knows it isn't. She almost fears that she'll never know, why she feels the way she does towards him. There's another part of her that fears that one day she will know exactly why she feels the way she does, and she fears what will happen when that day comes.

A deep, heavy sigh comes through Tatsu's lips after that thought. She finds herself now thinking of his eyes and what she saw in them. Not the colors in them, or the depth that she's certain she imagined in them, but the way he looked at her with them. Tatsu remembers it being curious and close, almost like he'd long to see her the way that she sees him. Vulnerable, and clear, and open. She still doubts he could see her this way, even if she let him, but she soon decides she'll never know because she never intends to put herself in that position with him. Tatsu's certain that she will never let him see her like that, she's determined not to get close (or, as he puts it, friendly) but even as she thinks it, she feels the pull to him and to the rest of them and it's something else that she can't ignore tonight.

It all connects her to earlier thoughts, of Gotham and Manhattan. You got that life to live out there. Wish ya the best with that, darl. You go live it, yeah? she remembers the words quietly, they return to her as an echo. Something there distantly, to remind her of the bodies scattered over the ground and the blood left smeared over her skin once it was over. It never really feels over, and she doesn't imagine that it will be for a long time.

This life is hers, and their lives are woven into hers whether she likes it or not. Tatsu thinks of their lives next, and she finds herself thinking about whether they would consider the life she leads away from them as living. Not compared to the lives she knows they all had before Belle Reve, she decides, or the ones they'd live again if only given a chance to. She's not even sure that she considers her own life as living, and not just completing missions and fulfilling the need inside of her that pushes her to continue with these missions and tasks. It doesn't bother her the way it should, or the way it might bother some. 

It gives her purpose, the life she lives now. It wounds her and leaves her with heavy dreams, new scars, and a group of criminals to watch over. It also gives her a will to keep going, and a desire to do more than what she's done. It gives Tatsu more than she thinks she'd have without it. She kills criminals, takes down their groups and organizations, and she does what she can to make this world better. It never lasts the way it should, and there aren't always any signs that she's even done something to help the survival of the greater good, but Tatsu feels it. She feels it and it makes the scars, the dreams, and the pain worth it. She knows she would do it all over again because of what it leaves her with.

Without it, Tatsu isn't sure where it would leave her. Alone, she thinks. She knows just what this life without purpose would leave her with, or what it would leave her to be.

(alone. a widow. a mother grieving. a warrior, lost. in the shadows)

That's not a life that Tatsu wants, for now she wants this one because of the way the purpose fills the holes in her and the killings wash some of her own blood from her hands. It's after these thoughts stir inside of her that Tatsu wonders if this is one of the reasons why she cares the way she does. She's unlike them in most ways but they are lost as she is. The four criminals are lost and alone, and they are often forced into the shadows that Tatsu chooses to linger in and run through. Now they are together in these shadows, and perhaps for now this life is not as bad as it could be.

 

**

 

"It looks worse than dog food, and tastes like ass. Or, worse—like feet."

This is Tatsu's welcome back to Belle Reve after a few days spent away, and somehow it's only fitting that this is what she's greeted with. It's unexpected, but then again she knows that's their style. They're unexpected like they usually are, and it only takes a moment for her to learn that they're still angry with their conditions here.

Outside of Floyd's cell, in the space between his door and the wire cage that wraps around it, there's not a guard in sight. There's only Colonel Flag, and the guard here with Tatsu, waiting beside her. Flag's chewing on something that looks like a toothpick, while he's got one hand against the exterior of Floyd's cell and the other clasped tightly around something that looks like a candy bar. It's concealed, hidden out of Floyd's vision, and it quickly becomes clear to Tatsu that they're carrying on with their conversation like they're under the belief that there's no one else here.

Tatsu dismisses the guard beside her, lingering quietly outside of the gate around Floyd's cell. She turns her attention back to the two of them, listening distantly as they continue. It's something about them, she quickly decides, and the way they seem to be together that pulls her to listen.

She finds it curious.

"Wait, hold on. Just hold on, go back." Flag begins. "Go back and tell me how you know—"

"You're wondering how I know what feet taste like?" Floyd makes a noise. It starts as a scoff, then twists into a quiet laugh. "Man, I don't know. But I was just imagining that if something was going to taste like dirty, stinky ass feet, it would be that shit they're still serving us here. You don't believe me? Fine, taste it. Be my guest, and after you used a whole lot of mouthwash get back to me on what you think that shit tastes like. Can't wait to get your opinion on it."

Now, it's Flag's turn to speak. He hums, something like disbelief. "You know I'm not eating that shit. And you know that that actually was not going to be my first question, Lawton."

"Here's my question, Rick: I thought shit was improving for us here? You know because we did that thing in the city. We pulled a Superman and saved the world, except—" Floyd stops, to string the words out, and then he steps right up to the slot in the door. "Oh, yeah, except we did it covertly. We did it better. Our Squad did that shit better, didn't we? We did it with less damage, nobody even knew we were there, and we didn't get as many people killed as our boy Superman did. We also saved your ass. We saved you. Doesn't that earn us better food, at least?"

"You really think you did all that?" Flag's voice sounds light, almost like he's enjoying this conversation, and Floyd's company. There's a hint of a smile lingering on his lips, that she catches from the side. "You think you did all of that by yourself, without casualties? And you actually think you did better than Superman?"

"Yeah, I do. He's dead, right? And we're still here. All but one of us. And you know what? I didn't see your ass doing much that night, except getting dragged everywhere by your girls bitches. Hmm? Remember that part, Flag?"

At that, Flag stiffens and almost looks away. "Listen, I'm trying. Alright? Deadshot, I'm trying to set that all up."

There's something so genuine in Flag's voice, something that sounds raw and open, that Tatsu believes. She feels it again, what she remembers from their conversations about their Squad. It reminds her of their conversation about her deal with Waller, and the feelings she pulled from it. Tatsu still isn't sure that he cares about all of them, but standing here, observing him this way (seeing him open, and vulnerable, the way she remembers Boomerang being with her) confirms to Tatsu that there's more to this than Flag shares with anyone, including her. There's more to this than he probably knows right now, and that's something she feels she should talk to him about. Not today, and not here, but she decides that when the time feels right she'll say something.

"Nope, don't. Don't start, don't disappoint me." Floyd cuts over him, shaking his head. "Don't even try that shit with me. Just make it happen. You don't have to eat that shit on the plate. So why do we? We did just as much as you that night. Didn't we?"

Quietly, Tatsu continues to observe them. She notices the way that Flag almost steps away, just like she catches the way Floyd's eyes stay set on him. It's hard to not see it his way, to not agree that after what they did that night that he deserves better here. It's also hard not to notice the way Flag's still here, listening to Floyd, and staying open with him. She remembers their conversation again, she remembers specific pieces of it, and she finds herself wondering in this scenario if Flag is the ocean—crashing, falling, and finding his way back with them—or if he's the shore.

Something for them to break themselves upon.

They don't care about anyone else, Tatsu remembers Flag's words, from not so long ago. Floyd is maybe the exception. But the others? They don't care.

"Come on, you know why. You know why, man." Flag says finally. "Nobody cares about you."

Floyd disappears after that, stepping away from the square slot in the door. His voice returns a moment later.

"Oh, really? Oh, that's cold. Even for you. Always knew you were a stone cold bit—"

"I wasn't done. So calm down. Just calm down, okay?" he pushes quietly. "They don't give a shit about any of the prisoners here. I wasn't talking about you specifically, alright?"

"Yeah, you weren't done. But we done now. Man, we're so far done. Unless you've got some food for me right here and now, I think we done." Floyd returns, back only a moment later. He appears back in the space of the slot and waits, eyebrows raised. "Well, I'm waiting. You got something for me or not?"

That's when Tatsu finds her attention is pulled back to the candy bar that Flag's holding in his hand, fingers curled around loosely now. His hand twitches like he's going to hand it over to Floyd, but then he changes his mind and leans against the cell door. It still feels like there's something here that Tatsu finds curious, something that she just can't disturb or walk away from yet.

"Let me just ask you something first, before I answer that." Flag insists, a moment later. "Let me ask, how do you know feet taste worse than—"

"Okay, first, you don't ask that." Floyd answers, fast. His expression shifts, from what it was before (distant, and almost unreadable) to something with the hint of a smile. "You don't ask another man that. You got that? You don't ask another guy that unless he tells you. And second thing, you hitting on me, Flag?"

It's silent for a while, before Flag clears his throat to speak. He sounds unamused, but like he's fighting it.

"Seriously, Floyd? You did not just say that. Did you?"

Floyd's smile stays there, lingering brightly. "Not a denial, not at all. You think I want to know how your ass—"

"Nope. That was not where this was going." Flag's voice is a little louder now. "Once again, you misread the situation. Completely. But of course you would. Of course you would do just that. I mean, you're the same guy who thinks he's better than Superman."

"Mmm. Yeah, yeah. Sure." Floyd hums, leaning against his side of the door. "So I did that? Just misread it all, huh?"

"Yes. You did. Completely."

"Oh, completely? Oh, okay. Well, let's get a second opinion on it. Alright? Since you've always been biased, let's talk to someone else." Flag's grinning wider now. "Why don't we get Katana's opinion on it then? If I'm remembering right, that girl is good at reading situations."

"What? Why would you suggest that?"

That's when Floyd nods over in Katana's direction and Flag follows. It's only silent for about three seconds, even though it feels longer. Flag pushes the candy bar away into the pocket of his pants quickly, like it's something to feel guilty about. It almost reminds her of sneaking Pinky to Boomerang, the way Flag's so clearly thinking about sneaking Floyd candy. He steps away from the cell door after that, moving fast to the gate to let her inside.

"Katana, I didn't realize you were—I wasn't expecting you here today." Flag stops in front of her. "You were expected here a few days ago, you didn't show. So I wasn't sure when we were gonna see you again. I wasn't expecting you here today."

"Dude, once is enough. Don't have to say it three times." Floyd chimes in.

It seems to take all of the Colonel's self-control to not answer it. Once Tatsu's is inside, Flag drops his hand away and steps back. His eyes scan over her then, she notices it, she always notices the way he looks at her. Flag tries, as they do, to get a read on her. Usually it's for the missions. She understands it then, because on their missions together he's usually getting a read on whether she can handle it and he always knows she can. But this? It feels different, even the way he's looking at her now feels like he's searching for something new. Tatsu doesn't know what it is, but she leaves it for now.

"I had business to take care of."

"Business, like getting our food situation under control?" Floyd calls out. "Right?"

Flag shuts his eyes for half a second, then he pinches his fingers against the bridge of his nose. "Do you want to have this conversation somewhere else?" he suggests, after dropping his hands back to his side. "Somewhere private, maybe. Away from the inmates."

"Oh. You hitting on her too?" Floyd's laughing now. "Man, two in a row. Hey? Boy, you think you got game."

"Why don't you shut up, Floyd?" he shouts back. "Just shut up, for like a minute. Okay, man? Let the grownups talk."

"Okay, okay. I get it. But when you're done, come say hi, Katana. We've got some shit to catch up on."

Once he's gone, Tatsu fixes her gaze back on the Colonel. He seems stressed, but she reads into it quickly. Floyd isn't causing him this stress, not the way it seems. It's likely to be Waller, and possibly June, but once again Tatsu decides that's a conversation best left for later. She leaves it for a time they're not in Belle Reve, and returns her attention back to their current situation.

"Sorry, he's—uh, he's chatty today. Not in a good way." Flag pauses. "Not that I'm sure that there's anything good that ever comes out of their mouths. Today's just not a good day for him, and we weren't exactly expecting you."

"I'm sorry for that. I had business, but I'm here now. Is there anything I missed in my absence?"

"Well, you really didn't miss all that much here. Waller was pissed you didn't show up, but she's happy enough with whatever you were doing out there." he explains, arms now folded over his chest. "I know I'm not supposed to ask you how it went or what happened, I know that. Waller's telling me enough, without telling me anything at all. So I won't ask, but if there's anything you need to talk to me about you know that you can. You always can."

Tatsu appreciates his offer but she dismisses it fast, shaking her head. She's not oblivious to Flag's gaze as it lingers on her, or the way that it stays near the scar that's partially revealed beneath her mask. It's not totally hidden, but it's just something else that doesn't bother Tatsu like it should. For half a moment she looks back to Floyd's cell, to find the space empty. He's gone for now, to do something out of sight in his cell. It gives them a chance to talk privately about this.

She decides now is the best time to ask. "How are they?"

"They're fine. Pissed off, about Waller backing out of a few things. But mostly fine. You know, they're just their usual, charming selves. It's been great, this job is so worth the shit I put up with here."

"What do you mean?" she asks. "Waller backed out of the deal?"

"Like I said, for some things I apparently don't need to know anymore. So I don't know too much about it." Flag says, and there's a hint of annoyance to his voice. "Waller wouldn't say why; she just changed a few parts of your deal. I was hoping you'd show up here soon, so we could talk about it and work this out together."

Tatsu steps closer slowly. "What things did she change?"

"She just hasn't done what was promised, not all of it. No yard time, yet. No improvements on their food. I mean, they get to keep the shit in their cells. So Croc and Harley aren't complaining more than usual. But you know, Boomerang's a professional complainer so I've been keeping my distance. He's the kinda guy who could have everything he wanted in the world and still find something to complain about. Deadshot's just antsy because he's missing his daughter. There have been issues with phones, or something like that. Waller says they're working it out, that's all I get to know. And that's really not enough for them. So they take it out on me, and you know how fun that is."

It starts with a quiet kind of anger that builds up inside of her. It turns into something else, something that she doesn't have the time to think on right now—but it's more than anger, and it's not just frustration. The missions marked her in their own ways, and Tatsu completed them for Waller. She completed her tasks for the Task Force and for things to be improved here, and yet it seems like nothing's improved. Tatsu feels used, and the anger she feels towards Waller grows with that feeling.

"Agent Waller offered no explanation beyond this?" she asks. Words strung out, quiet. "She has changed our arrangement without my consent, and she has offered no explanation?"

"Not to me. She wouldn't say why. So, I'm sure that's gonna be a great conversation for you two to have." Flag answers. "And by great, I really do not mean great. I'll be there if you need me to be."

"I want to talk to her, now. Is she here?"

Flag shakes his head simply. "Nope, she's not. Waller's away. Business, somewhere. That's something else I haven't been told. I just know she's back in a few days. Plus, it's probably better that you cool down before you speak to her."

It doesn't feel like enough, but it will have to do for now. "May I see the rest of them, while I'm here?"

"Yeah, sure. You can spend as much time as you like with them, but there's a catch." Flag looks back, half a moment later. There's something like regret in his eyes, or maybe it's disappointment. "No visitation inside Boomerang's cell. It's Waller's orders for now. And don't, Katana. Don't ask me why, don't look at me that way. Don't ask me why, because you know why. You know it's because of his behavior, and you know that I can't challenge Waller's instructions. She owns everyone at Belle Reve. So it's better to go with it. Fighting it won't make it easier for anyone. You won't win that fight."

Tatsu dwells on it, for longer than she intends to. Anger floods back in like the waves from her dreams, she feels them licking at her skin and pushing her forward but she tries to get away from it because it's not going to help now. There's nothing that she can really do in Waller's absence, she can only visit them, and learn from them what she can. It will all have to wait until Waller's return.

"Why are you here?" Tatsu asks a moment later.

It's something Flag doesn't understand right away.

"What do you mean?"

"I remember what you said that day. You said that they did not care, and that you did not care. And yet, you are here still." she says, fixing her eyes firmly on him. "You are here, for company, and food. You have done just as I have done. So, if this is why you are here then please don't look at me like that."

"Like what, Katana? I'm not looking at you like anything."

"You are, Colonel. You are looking at me like I should not want to challenge Waller's instructions. I have a deal with her, and I don't see how it's fair for Agent Waller to take this deal and change what she wishes. It is not fair to them, is it? Or to me. It's not fair because of what I have done for this."

Something softens on Flag's face, almost. He steps closer, then sighs. "I warned you, didn't I? What you were going up against, what she would get you to do. Tatsu, I tried to warn you to run. I know what she's like. I've seen it myself, but I never believed it. I should have. Waller owns everyone here, including us. There's nothing you can do to challenge her that won't end badly for you, or for them."

Tatsu decides that she doesn't need to hear this, it's something that she's already aware of. It's all different now, because of what she's agreed to do for Waller, which is really something she agreed to for them. It's more than just being in the Task Force, that she volunteered to join and assist. She's supposed to do exactly what Waller wants her to do and nothing else, and it feels much less like a voluntary assignment now. She knows that it isn't, not really, not anymore. It used to feel like she worked for Waller or with her, and she knows that part is still there but now it's like Waller sees her as one of them a little more.

She treats Tatsu the way she treats them—like an asset, a weapon, to be used. A killer, to be wielded like a blade, at whoever Waller wants to point her at. Tatsu doesn't like the way it feels, being in Waller's tight grip. She doesn't like knowing that Waller wants to control her like she controls them, like she probably already thinks she does control her. Agent Waller controls every second of their time here, there's nothing here that's theirs anymore, not the coffee, or the telephone calls, and not even Waylon's TV. It's not really theirs, it never was. These aren't their things, it's Waller's way of reminding them where the power lies.

With her, and not with them.

"I am going to visit them. And I will place myself into any situations I feel I need to." Tatsu says, after some time of silence. It doesn't bother her, the silence never does. "I understand that this is not what you wish to hear, but if it's what I must do then I don't see that I have any other choice. I will stand by my side of the deal, and by them if I am forced to."

He sighs again, then runs a hand over his face. "I really wish you wouldn't, Tatsu. I really wish you wouldn't put me in this position. You know that I've got your back, and I know you've got mine. But you also know who we work for, and what she's capable of. She will do anything that she needs to do. Please, tell me you remember that."

She remembers it, of course. Tatsu remembers all of it, and it's why she decides then that she'll do whatever is necessary today. She doesn't know what today will hold, or what it will lead her to do, but she makes the decision that if it feels like the right thing to do then it's what she will do. It doesn't sit well with her, the idea that Waller's taking apart their agreement and only following through on the things that she wishes to. It also doesn't sit well with Tatsu to think that Waller's trying to control them the way she controlled Flag through June. It bothers her because she cares for him, and she remembers the way Waller used June's heart to get to him.

It reminds her of the dream. She doesn't want to think about it, so Tatsu thinks of Waller instead, and all of the ways that she will never control her the way she wants to. Tatsu's heart is connected to someone who Waller can never reach, and that's all she needs to think about to be sure that Waller will never own her as completely as she owns them, or as much as she thinks she does.

"I remember, and I am aware of what could happen. I will face whatever consequences come of my actions." Tatsu says, then pauses. Her eyes dart to the candy bar, where it's concealed in his pocket. Then she looks back to him. "You should give that to him. He seemed happy with you, for a moment. It may mean nothing to you, but it is different for them. Despite what you believe or see, it means something to them. Their happiness here is..fleeting."

"They are who they are. I'm just—" Flag stops himself, only for a second. "I'm here because they're my responsibility, and according to Waller as long as I'm involved in this they always will be. That's why I'm doing this. That's all, okay? It's just that, it's all it can ever be."

She nods like she understands, like this is why she's doing it too, and though Tatsu feels differently she keeps it to herself. It's not something that needs to be said, or shared here, where there's no certainty that they're really alone. Tatsu leaves Rick by the gate after that, approaching Floyd's cell with a silent hesitancy. It's been days since she visited, and they talked of things like the team, his daughter, and the conditions here. Things improved a little then, and now it seems they've gone back, and there's a gnawing feeling deep in the pit of Tatsu's stomach that's telling her she's responsible for this more than anyone else is.

 

**

 

Harley makes them espressos again, and it's not actually a surprise that she does this—no, the surprise is that Harley's somehow gone this long without hurling boiling water at the guards, or using the machine as a way to start trouble. There's something about her that's different, something Tatsu's really not sure about, but it's gone in a flash and she's back to making their coffees. She skips over to the machine, smiling as she presses a combination of buttons and then waits for the coffee to fill up the small cups.

It's just what she needs, Tatsu decides, after her brief conversation with Floyd (about the conditions here, and Waller's treatment of them). She finds herself longing for a temporary distraction, and Harley's chatter seems to help because there are apparently lots of things for Harley to catch Tatsu up on. That lasts for a while, for as long as it takes for their coffee to be done, and then it changes and it becomes very clear to Tatsu that this conversation isn't going to be like their first one.

"You ever had a dream so real, you woke up and couldn't believe that it was all in your head?"

It lingers in the silence, after Harley asks her. She joins Tatsu soon, sliding a small cappuccino through the bars in the cell for Tatsu to reach. Then Harley settles back down, sitting cross-legged on the ground, with her tiny cup of coffee between her fingers and her gaze—wide, and curious, and open—set directly on Tatsu, and only on her.

"So. Did ya?" Harley pushes, curiously. There's a faint smile on her lips. "I'm not talking about the things you see when you're awake. Not the colors, or pretty lights, or anything like that. I mean the dreams, the ones you feel like you're in. You ever have that? It's like the ones when you wake and you're confused, because the dreams feel more real than what's really around you. You know what I'm talking about, right?"

Tatsu shakes her head, once. It's not something she feels entirely comfortable talking about, especially not with Harley Quinn. This doesn't seem to bother Harley, not really. She just fixes another smile on her lips, drinks a little more of her espresso, and then offers Tatsu a  different look.

"You sure? You never had one like it?" she asks, barely waiting for an answer. "I'm not being pushy, hon. I'm just asking because you seem like a smart kinda girl. So I thought if anyone would know, it'd be you. And it's not like there's anyone else to talk to about it. All the guards are the same, except for Flag. He's annoying in his own kind of way, I guess. He never answers my questions, anyway."

This catches her attention, she looks up at Harley soon.

"You speak with Flag?"

She nods, sipping on the coffee first. "Sometimes. He stops by, when he thinks I'm about to cause trouble. He always says that's why he comes over, but it's because he likes me. And I'm more interesting than anybody else here."

"Have you?" Tatsu asks, feeling like she needs to know. "Have you caused trouble?"

Harley winks at her. "I know a good thing when I got it. But he's so persistent, and chatty. It's hard not to tease him and make him think that I'm planning something. He gets all tense—there's this vein, it pops up right in the middle of his forehead whenever I start talking about all my plans to cause trouble in here. He's so much fun to play with."

She blinks slowly. "He chats with you?"

"Oh, yeah. In his way. He wants to know if I've been stirring trouble, or if I'm planning anything. Usually he comes around when the other guys are tired of listening to me talk. They get real bored because they don't appreciate good conversation, not like me and you do."

"What questions do you ask them?"

"Like, when my new books are coming in. When we're getting that time outside, or when my new nail polish is coming. I've been asking for ages." Harley stops, eyes scanning over Tatsu. "You know, I could ask 'em for something green for you. Or red. I feel like red is your color. Makes your eyes pop. I could paint your nails all nice for you, maybe do something with your hair. It looks real pretty that way, but maybe I could do something with it. Put some clips in it, or some bows. It'd look real nice."

It's not something that Tatsu really knows how to answer, since the only thing that she thinks of (after Harley tells her that red is her color) is the blood over her hands, or Boomerang's blood, lingering on her skin. Tatsu takes a small sip of coffee at this, waiting for the conversation to change to something else, like one of the books that Harley's reading at the moment. It doesn't go this way, not this time.

"You don't talk much. Do you?" Harley tilts her head to the side. "Don't take that the wrong way. I like you, you're nice. I'm just sayin' that you don't talk much and I like that. Some people talk way too much, and that can get annoying. I feel like you're the kind of person that doesn't say that much but you think it. You think it, and you see it all. You see everything, don't ya?"

There's a pause before Harley starts talking again, and Tatsu isn't sure why the words linger but they do.

Harley leans a little closer to the bars, after that. Not by much, and not obviously, just closer. "I heard something, from a little birdy in here." she says quietly. In a sing-song tone, at first. "Something I thought you'd wanna know."

In the seconds of silence that follow, Tatsu waits. Nothing follows, so she speaks. "What do you mean?"

"I want something from you for this. I want something for it." Harley states. "We got a deal, hon?"

It feels like all Tatsu's doing lately is making deals that she knows she'll likely end up regretting, but right now it feels like something that she needs to agree to. So Tatsu nods, accepting it, and then she waits as Harley wiggles closer to the bars. A guard calls out nearby, something about keeping the distance, and after Harley throws him a look she settles her gaze back on Tatsu.

"Just between you and me, okay?"

Tatsu nods again. "Okay."

"A little birdy told me that our boy Boomy's been making a few visits to the hospital lately. And that she has just turned away."

It catches Tatsu completely by surprise; she sets the cup down, leans a little closer, and then waits—for Harley to elaborate, and for her own mind to stop spiralling with thoughts and questions about it all. She finds that she wants to go back and ask Flag why he kept this information from her, and then she wants to take this up with Waller and find out why she's turning away from it, but before that she decides she needs to see Boomerang. No, she tells herself, she doesn't need to see him. She wants to, it's more like something she has to do. She doesn't need this, Tatsu reminds herself, but it still feels like she does.

"Why?" she asks. "Why are they doing this?"

"He makes them mad. Something to do with one of the guards knowin' about him, from before or something. I don't know that, but I do know he's been up to some trouble. Apparently, he started a fire with some plastic. Nobody knows how, he just started it. My birdy told me Waller sends them in to deal with his moods, instead of just leaving him to ride it out like the rest of us. So they put him in there, moved him out, put him back in. I don't know the details beyond that. I just know that he's not doing so good right now, and I don't like that. I don't like knowing he's not doing good, and I don't like not knowing how my friends are doing. You know anything about the other guys?"

Tatsu's not sure how to proceed with this, but she tries.

"Floyd is well. I visited him. They're treating him well."

It brightens something on Harley's face, if only for a moment. "Great, that's great. What a relief." she sighs. "Is he seeing his little girl? And what about Croc? He doing okay?"

"He was also well, the last time I saw him. He was happy."

"I want them to be happy, and I want them okay. That's what I want from you, that's our deal. I want to see them, and I want you to set it up. Okay? I want to see them all at once. Not one on one, not for five minutes. I want real time with them, with all of them. And I don't want to hear that you can't, because I've heard that already. You can make it happen. I know you can, because I heard you were working on fixing things for us here. Better food, better conditions maybe. So I know you have the power to do this. Waller hates us, but she doesn't hate you. You actually have power here. So can you set it up?"

"I can only try."

It seems that Harley accepts this as being good enough, she half-smiles at Tatsu soon. "Just try hard. Okay? Because I think you know we think the same way, on how things are here. I think you know, because me and you—we think the same, we get it. The five of us? We're better together. We both know that. And apart? Just look at poor Boomy's situation. I might find him pretty annoying at times, but he's my friend. I care about him, about all of them. He's not doing so well, and I wanna do something. I can't. Only you can. So, will you?"

All Tatsu can do is nod, her mind is too filled with thoughts to do much else. It's enough for Harley, who smiles at her through the bars in a relieved, pleased kind of way.

"What else do you know?" Tatsu asks. "About this, or any situation here? Tell me anything that might be useful."

"Hmm, okay. I know Croc's hooked on the music videos. Me, personally? I like a lot of music, but he seems really into rap, or so I've heard." Harley stops, to consider it seriously for a moment. "Mr Boring doesn't mind my coffee. So there's that, too."

"Mr Boring?"

"Yeah, Mr Boring is Flag. I made him a cup a few times, he says it's not the worst. He pretends like he hates it, but he loves it. Just like us. We still hate him though, but he's not so bad all the time. He's not like her. Don't tell him I told you that, or he'll get all cocky and shit. " Harley smiles. She's excited now, hopeful for this. "I can't wait to see the guys again. I can make them coffee. We can catch up, get out of these cells for a while. I miss them so much, this is gonna be so much fun."

Harley stops, smile still in place as she scans Tatsu over. It's in the same way they all have, so far. They're reading into her, trying to learn from her, or see into her the way that she sees into them. Tatsu is less sure if it works here with Harley, because it always seems like there's always a part of Harley that she keeps to herself. It's strange, Tatsu thinks next, the way that she connects to that. She keeps a part of herself hidden, always. Tatsu keeps all of herself hidden, this is the only difference, but it doesn't change that this is something that connects them.

It reminds her of her earlier thoughts, those few nights ago. Thoughts of who she is, and how they are lost with her. There's something about Harley's gaze that Tatsu sees now, there's a depth in it that she sees. It's a shadow that Tatsu peers through, only for a second; it reveals to her grief, a longing, and a pain that's buried deep in Harley. It's only a flicker of something, that's gone fast, too fast for Tatsu to look into anymore. She finds that she doesn't want to look any deeper, that this is enough, to know that something's pulling her to Harley the same way that it's pulling Harley to her. It's the first time that Tatsu finds she can't deny it, and that she doesn't want to deny that she catches something of familiarity in Harley's gaze. It doesn't last but that doesn't matter, it doesn't change that it was there.

It feels like it's still there even when it's gone.

"So you really think you can do this?" she asks a moment later. "You really think you can help us?"

It's not something Tatsu can promise, but she decides she'll do what's necessary and whatever she thinks she can do.

"Like I said, I can only try. I can't promise, but I will try."

Harley's eyes light up again. Brightly, and wildly. "Oh, great. That's good enough. This is excellent. I knew I could count on you, hon. I knew it!" she beams, proudly. "Oh, and Boomy will be so pleased to see you. My little birdy told me that he wouldn't stop talking about you. Kept sayin' your name. Asking for you, over and over. He'll be happy to see you again, and I'll get to see them all, too! This is going to be so much fun, we can all catch up and hang out. Just like old times—sorta."

Chapter Text

Deep, purpled bruises cover the guard's pale skin. He stands at Boomerang's cell door still, with shadowed eyes set on Tatsu. It's almost too difficult to not look at his face, and to not question why this is a situation that she seems to keep finding herself back in. It feels like she's caught in a time loop of violence, bruises, and blood. She's caught in it with a criminal, who seems to find trouble as easily as he finds diamonds.

"Here to speak with the Aussie again." the guard says. It sounds more like a statement then a question, she doesn't answer it. His voice is cold and harsh, when he speaks again a moment later. "You speak with Colonel Flag yet?"

Tatsu nods, confirming it. Then she waits for him to move out of her way and allow their visitation to begin, but this doesn't happen. Instead, the guard sighs and tilts his head to the side. He angles his gaze on her like he's trying to get a read on her, and if things were different (and if it weren't very likely that the Captain is unwell, and has been going in and out of the hospital in her absence) then Tatsu thinks that she might be amused that this guard thinks he can get a read on her.

"You know that all the decisions have been left to Colonel Flag, in Agent Waller's absence. Don't you?" he speaks again, eventually. "The Colonel's been left in charge, to make sure all instructions are followed. So, I'll make this shit simple: You want to see Captain Asshole, you follow the instructions. Alternatively, some of us have taken to calling him Captain Pain-In-Our-Asses, or another favorite is Captain Dumbass. Take your pick and follow the instructions, and there will be no problems here today."

"What instructions have been left?" Tatsu asks, ignoring most of his response as she steps closer. Up to the guard, and to the gate behind him where her gaze settles for half a second. "And why have they been left solely in regards to the Captain?"

"That information wasn't shared with me. Even if it was, you probably don't have the clearance to know."

She draws in a long, steady breath, and then continues.

"What can you tell me?"

"Well, what I can tell you is that the Captain has a virus. He can't stop himself from doing stupid shit, and causing trouble for himself. That's what I can tell you. It's like he caught some kind of sickness that he can't get rid of. He's stupid, he can't help it. We have to put him back into place every single time and that's how it is."

It's then that Tatsu feels it, deep in her chest. It's that same pang of concern, with something else that feels like inevitability. In her absence Tatsu recalls thinking that the Captain might behave better, or at least a little better than he had before. Now it seems that he hasn't, and that they're back in the same situation they were on Tatsu's first visit here. She doesn't like the way it feels, and she finds herself hoping this will go differently to how that day did. Despite these quiet hopes, there's a loud nagging thought telling Tatsu it's going to go worse than her first visit here. She fights it down, and fixes her attention back on now.

"What are the instructions?" she asks again, soon.

"For you? That your visitation with him is limited to an hour. Waller has also made it clear that he's in solitary because of what he did, and that he's not here for company. So, you'll have to respect that and our way of life here. As long as this is as clear as fucking crystal, then we won't have any issues. I'm sure it'd be a nice break for Captain Dumbass if it went that way today. I think we all might be glad if we didn't have to kick hiss ass back into line for one goddamn day."

For a few moments Tatsu finds herself observing the guard and saying nothing. There's really not much she finds she has to say to him, and suddenly there's not much time for her to say it before he's walking over to her. Away from the cell, and closer to her, with a look in his eyes that tells Tatsu they're not done here. It's the way he's looking at her and the look in his eyes that tells her there's still more to this and he's about to share it with her. She has her own questions and thoughts that she wants to share about why Boomerang's allegedly been in the hospital lately. For now Tatsu decides against it, wanting to keep that knowledge to herself for the moment.

"One more thing: You fuck up, you deal with it. You deal with me. Understood?"

She blinks once, then waits, eyebrows raised for more.

"Waller's instructions, my words. You fuck up, you face me. You break the roles, you lose privileges." he pauses, half-smiling a little now. "You break half a rule, you're out. You ignore Waller's rules, you're done with visitation. You fuck up at all, you have to earn it back. You face me, then you face Waller. You lose privileges, if you break our rules here. You have to earn those privileges back. Comprende?"

It's then that Tatsu recalls Waller's words, her warning about following her rules. Take one item for him, she remembers, as she thinks back to the moment she made the decision to slide Boomerang the plush toy through the slot in his door. It isn't exactly a surprise for Tatsu to learn that Waller knows they didn't listen, and that they disobeyed her orders and—by they, Tatsu really just means herself. She know that this is on her, she feels the weight of it crawling over her skin in seconds. This is her mistake, and her doing, and knowing that it's likely worsened things for them makes Tatsu feel the weight of it more. She feels a guilt, next. She tells herself it shouldn't be there but she knows that it belongs there, right there with that feeling in her chest that stirs whenever things don't feel okay.

Right now, this feels far from okay and Tatsu knows it's not something she can run from.

"This is the extent of my knowledge on the topic. He's your problem now. Just remember, no contact and no visitation inside the cell. You need to remember that once you're here, you're here. You become one of us. I don't give a fuck who you are, you follow our rules. I'm glad that's clear."

Tatsu turns away from him after that, stretching to the closed latch over Boomerang's cell door. Behind her the guard lingers, before stepping away and giving them the brief illusion of privacy and space. It feels different today. Her hand reaches for the latch, but once her fingers are locked around it she hesitates and leaves her hand hovering outside of it. She waits to feel a pull to do this, to feel the tether tugging her to do it and look inside. It's all there today, waiting, and building up inside of her chest, and Tatsu knows that she's hesitating because there's a part of her that doesn't want to see what's on the other side of his door.

It's almost like she's afraid of what she'll see. She's not afraid, not really, but there's still a hesitation there. She opens it despite this. Tatsu's hand catches on the latch and she opens it slowly. Inch, by inch, until it's opened enough that she sees inside. She sees him. It takes her back to that first moment when she visited Boomerang only it's different this time, and with just a look it feels worse.

Boomerang's dressed. It feels strange, to see him covered up in the pale jumpsuit she's seen the others wearing sometimes. It looks different on him, almost like it doesn't fit, or like it shouldn't fit. His clothes are clean, she notices it next, and his skin appears to be mostly clear of blood and that's a relief. That's where it stops. His face is spotted with bruises. Fresh, dark, bruises litter his skin. Tatsu scans them fast, knowing there weren't that many there before. She knows she would remember if they had been there before, Tatsu remembers all of them.

There's a particularly dark bruise under his left eye that she lingers on. Tatsu finds that she almost can't look away, but somehow she does. She pulls her attention away after that, away from the bruise and back to Boomerang's still figure. He's currently sitting on the concrete slab, with his legs stretched out a little and his back pressed to the wall. It's like the first time, where he hasn't noticed her yet. His gaze is fixed on something else.

Something pink and fluffy clutched between his hands.

It takes Tatsu a while to piece together what's happened. She feels it then and almost wishes she hadn't. Her breathing shifts as she feels it return to her. It all returns, the feelings from before, and the thoughts she carried and ignored in Manhattan. In the quiet outside of Boomerang's cell, she feels the anger crawling back in with it all. It floods back in, seeping right back under her skin like Boomerang was, or still is, but this is different. It leaves her feeling compromised again, it's uncomfortable. It's almost too much. She knows that she's compromised now, and she's been like this since Midway, and Manhattan, and Jenn. It's unavoidable, and for half a moment she almost considers that it's their fault that she's compromised like this.

It's his fault, or a part of it is, that he's inhabiting her thoughts and seeping inside of her. The Captain is the one that follows her to her dreams, and then pulls her to his reality like this. So it's his fault, and it's their fault that she dreams of their blood on her skin. This is what Tatsu tells herself in this moment, only it's as unconvincing as everything else she's tried to believe so far. It's their fault, except it really isn't at all. It's on her; she pushed Waller and ignored the rules, and at the end of it all she leaves and they pay for her mistakes.

The bruised guard's only a few feet away, hovering close, when Tatsu turns around to find him.

"What did you do to him?" she asks, words harsh, heavy. "Why is he like this again? Why is he always like this after I am gone?"

He barely looks up, at first. "Told you, he's got that stupid virus. Makes him do dumb shit. That's what it is."

Tatsu steps closer, quickly. "Open his cell up, now."

"You heard Waller's orders. No can do."

"I won't ask again." she makes it clear, just one more time. "Open his cell up, or I will."

A smile follows the silence. Then, a laugh. He looks up at her, amused. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize that you were under the impression that you called any of the shots here. You may work for Waller, but that's where the line's drawn, sweetheart. You have no power here, none at all. I'm in charge. I say there's no visitation inside of the cell, so that means there is none. That's the last time I'll make that clear. I won't be so nice next time."

She doesn't offer him another look, or another word. Tatsu turns away after that, back to Boomerang's cell, where she steps up to peer through the slot in the door. Now he's stirring, just a little, while his hands are still clutched onto whatever's between them. She knows why, or thinks she does, but she finds herself hoping that she's wrong.

In the next few, quiet seconds, Boomerang's attention wanders over to her and settles. He makes a quiet noise, then fixes a smile on his face.

(why does his smile linger with her? why does she care?)

"Well, shit, luv. Sure took your time comin' back to me."

That's it. It's all that Boomerang says for now, and it's all that's said between them for the next few minutes. Tatsu needs the time to observe him, while Boomerang seems to need it to stare right back at her like he's trying to work out what's real and what isn't. With each look, she finds herself wanting to know how this happened again. It seems that with each look, he's getting closer and closer to working out that this is real. That she's here, that she came back to him.

"Now, just listen. Alright? Before you go getting pissed off at me, just hear me out." he begins quietly. "I tried 'cos you asked me to. Asked me to make it easy on them, and on me. And I did. Tried real hard. Think it lasted about half a day. Don't even think it was that long, to be honest. And you know what the truth is, luv? I tried and I couldn't, 'cos they're all shitheads."

There's a grin on his lips, after that. It almost looks painful, from the way his lip's split and swollen again. He barely seems to notice it though and smiles through it, keeping his gaze intently set on her like now that he's decided this is real he doesn't want to look at anything else. Tatsu finds that she wants more than this, she needs more. There are so many questions brimming at the front of her mind and building there, waiting to be voiced, and to be shared, because she needs more than this.

It all falls away, slipping fast. She's left with only one question, and it's the one that matters the most right now because it will determine what happens next.

"What did you do?" Tatsu asks.

He seems to like the sound of her voice, apparently. It's something subtle she catches on his face. It's brief and barely there, and she's certain that no one else would see it, but Tatsu sees it and she wants to ask him why. She considers that it's because she doesn't treat him like the guards do, but somehow that doesn't feel like it's enough. It doesn't feel like it explains it enough.

"What do ya think I did?" he answers, fast. "What I do best, apparently."

"Which is?"

"Well I didn't steal no fucking diamonds, darl. I pissed them off. Antagonized them." Boomerang says, gesturing to somewhere out of the cell. "Gave her a reason. Yeah, that's what I did. Is that what you wanted to know?"

Boomerang doesn't wait for her to answer, he doesn't wait for anything before he moves. He cradles the left side of his body like he's injured there, as he pushes himself off the slab and starts to walk over to her. Then he's right there with her again, looking at her through the slot. It feels closer now, and Tatsu finds that in this moment she sees him like she has before. He's open, exposed, and always covered bruised.

She almost wants to ask if he's always covered in bruises.

There are new marks and spotted bruises that she picks up on with one glance. They're scattered over his skin, and the only relief she finds in the next seconds is that his knuckles aren't raw or busted. It makes her think that if he caused this as they say, why are there no signs? His hands are marked with old scars, there's nothing fresh there. There's nothing on him that indicates that he caused this, whatever this is, and it confirms to her once again that there is still more to this than she knows.

"Broke the rules." he says, finally. "According to them, I broke their fucking rules."

Pinky's head is gone.

It's completely ripped off, when Boomerang holds the plush toy up in the air. He holds up what's left in his hands, showing that there's only a body left, and Tatsu soon sees that what remains is also torn and partially ruined in places. She shifts her attention right back up to him, first noticing the way his smile is changed. It's bitter now, and almost sad. He lowers what remains of Pinky like he's showed her enough, and then cradles her gently into one hand. After that, Boomerang steps closer, even though Tatsu first expects him to back away.

He moves closer, or at least close enough for her to see that his eyes are red like he hasn't been sleeping well or at all. Or she considers that it means he's been crying, but that's something Tatsu doesn't really want to consider right now so she pushes it away.

"Probably best for you if you just leave now, yeah? Don't want you pissing Waller off." Boomerang states, eventually. He says it like it's a simple solution, like it's that easy for Tatsu to detach herself from him, and from them. "Really appreciate you stopping by, but it's for the best if you don't piss her off. Could you do somethin' for me, though? Give my best to the other guys if you see 'em. Don't think I'll be seeing anything out of this shit-box for a while, so give 'em my best."

It's after she hears this and after she takes another, deeper look at the Captain that something else comes back to her. It's something she can't deny; seeing him hurt, and bruised, and so tired reminds her of the pull she felt earlier. The tug between her heart and her mind. It leaves her with a decision to make, and only a few seconds to make it in. It's really not enough time to consider all of the consequences, and this should bother her more but it doesn't. She knows she's been left with another choice, to take a moment and turn it into something else.

She doesn't have to do this, Tatsu tells herself, it wouldn't be hard for her to walk away now if she really wanted to. It feels weak though, even as she tries to convince herself that she could do it if she really wanted to. It feels weak like there's no way out of this, and like she's already aware that she really doesn't want to walk away right now. It almost feels like there's no choice, like there never was.

It comes down to one thing in the end, really. Boomerang is a criminal who deserves to be here, this she knows, but she also believes that this doesn't mean his treatment here is justified. It doesn't feel like it is, and that's what it comes down to in the end. Tatsu knows who he was before he helped saved the world, and she considers she has some idea of who he is now, and it doesn't feel like he's someone who deserves this.

She doesn't know what this makes him. A good man? She doubts it, she's not sure. The Captain is still a criminal, he always will be, and she knows he'll never be like her or anyone that she knows. It doesn't mean that he deserves to be treated this way and this is why Tatsu makes the choice that she does. It's why she listens to what her heart is telling her to do.

It's like a whisper. Something quiet, and dull, but there. It tells her to stay here, to deal with this together, with them. It also tells her that running isn't something she should do, even if she knows she could do it without looking back.

It feels like a mess, in the first few moments after Tatsu opens the door to Boomerang's cell and steps inside. Her heart tells her this is the right choice, while her mind tells her that she's made a mistake, that it's a mistake just like Manhattan but somehow worse. She wonders if it is, and if she's just created their own mess here at Belle Reve. It's not just hers, it's theirs. It's a little late for any doubt, Tatsu thinks, as her eyes connect with Boomerang's and she closes the door behind her. It's just the two of them in the cell this time, and in these next seconds she's allowed a chance to read him again. It's almost too easy again, she thinks. He's looking right at her like he wants her to see it, to see what he's thinking right now, and then it changes suddenly and he's starting to look at her like something else. Boomerang looks at her like she's totally unlike anything else he's ever seen in his life and it leaves Tatsu afraid to have someone look at her this way, to have him look at her this way.

Tatsu pushes it down and leaves it to linger in the silence, leaving it as something to think on later. Across from her, Boomerang's jaw is hanging slightly open, just for a moment. It's because she's here with him, despite the orders from Waller and the guards. It stays quiet like this for a while, until it doesn't. Boomerang almost seems impressed, and she's certain that if it weren't for the bruises littered across his skin he'd probably look much happier about this than he does right now.

"Holy shit, Katana."

His words echo in the quiet once they're said. Soon, they're replaced by a heavy knocking on the outside of the door. It isn't locked but the guard remains on the outside, like he's hoping knocking on the door will pull her out of there. Several heavy thuds follow, before he calls out to them. Telling Tatsu that this is it, and she's crossed the line, and if she doesn't follow his instructions immediately then they'll act as ordered and use force to remove her from the cell.

Boomerang laughs at this. It feels strange suddenly, to hear him laugh and to see it on his face where all of the dark bruises linger and hang there for her eyes to wander across. His laugh isn't quite as loud as she's heard it before but it almost is, and it reminds her of the sound he made when she gave him the beer and the pony. That's when Tatsu notices that what's left of Pinky is still clutched tightly in Boomerang's hands. For now he doesn't notice her gaze, he seems too distracted by the situation to notice it, or to notice that he's still holding onto the plush toy.

"Yeah? You think you can take her on?" Boomerang yells back. Half a second later, he's over by the slot in the door yelling at the guard. "Go on then, mate. Give it a go. Let's see what you got then, hey. It'll only be your funeral."

Once he's finished taunting the guard, Boomerang chuckles lightly and turns back to Tatsu. He turns away from the guard, and whatever else is currently going on out there, and he looks right at her. Big blue eyes blown wide. His smile stays there on his lips, hanging there loosely while he seems to get lost in her again. It feels unsettling, and then Tatsu notices that it seems to be more than that. He's not just lost in her, it's like he's allowing himself a second to be lost in this and whatever thrill it gives him to see her disobey Waller's orders and ignore the guard's warning. It's a distraction from his life here, she's a distraction. It's only that, she tells herself, and nothing more.

Her eyes search him for injuries again. Maybe she does it to check that he's okay, or maybe it's her way of forgetting for a moment about the way he's still looking at her.

"We don't have much time." Tatsu states, eventually. "You need to tell me what happened in my absence."

"Yeah, I got that." he nods, fast. "Just hang on—I don't get why you just did that. Don't get me wrong, it was fucking badass. Yeah? But, hey—look."

Pinky ends up in the space between them, thrust there by Boomerang's hands. He holds onto it like it's supposed to mean something, and Tatsu knows exactly what it means. It's Waller's message that she will do anything to them, even take away something that was never going to cause harm. It's a reminder of the control that she has here over them, and how she'll take whatever she wants because she can.

"Look, what they did. Katana, look. They ripped—" Boomerang stops, sighing heavily. Then he looks away, still holding Pinky up in the air. "Ripped his head off. Poor little bastard, never saw it coming. He never did anything to them. Why do you think they did it? Huh?  Because they can. Something to do with me breaking their rules. Sounds about right, yeah?"

A few, heavy seconds pass as Tatsu observes him. She watches him and the way he is now, not directly looking at her, but not looking at what remains of the pink pony in his hands either. It's almost like his attention is back to something else, or away to somewhere else. That doesn't last very long either, though. Boomerang pulls himself out of it, half-smiling. It's crooked, and very obviously missing something. There's a spark that she sometimes catches there—something bright, and often annoying, and usually too complex for her to ever fully read—but it's gone now. It's dulled out, empty.

It feels different to see him without it.

"Croc gets a TV. Right? Harley gets her coffee, Floyd gets family." he pauses, taking a few steps around the cell. "And I get one thing. Yeah? One thing, and they rip it's fucking head off. I'm not complaining anymore, not really. Seems like that's just how it goes for me. It's just my luck. So I'm not complaining, I'm just tryin' to show you what's gonna happen if you hang around."

"It wasn't you—"

"It was, and it still is." Boomerang stops, then turns to face her again. "So hey, you better leave. Leave, or you'll piss 'em off and they'll use it as an excuse to take away something you love. You're pretty much the only decent person here, or that I ever met—so, you don't deserve that. Right?"

I have nothing to lose, Tatsu thinks to herself in those passing moments, it has already been taken from me. It's not something she shares, it's something she will never say to anyone. She takes a step away after that, back to the door, but that's it because it doesn't feel like it's over yet. Tatsu doesn't know what's happening outside of Boomerang's cell, it's like everything else slipped away and now it's just the two of them and they're not finished here yet.

"Tell me what they did." she pushes. "What happened while I was gone?"

It makes him uncomfortable, almost immediately. Boomerang tenses noticeably; his shoulders pull together, and there's something that flashes over his face that looks like rage. It settles heavily there, lingering in an obvious kind of way that tells Tatsu it isn't going to go away anytime soon. It's the rage she sees next, longing to seep through and escape. He keeps it down, leaving it to wait on the surface.

"Why? You think it's gonna change something?" his reply comes back fast. "Don't even know why you care. I asked, didn't I? You never said, so I never really got it. But, hey, here's what I get now: This shit isn't good. You being around here, around us, don't really see what good's coming from that. You should run. Away from here, and us, and everyone else here. There's nothing good here. Run while you can, darl."

"I can't."

Tatsu doesn't realize the words are out until he's looking at her the way he is. It's different, she can't read it, and that's just as unsettling as his gaze. It's one of the many things she doesn't understand right now—like why he wants her to run and why she doesn't want to, or why he's still looking at her the way that he is. It seems that right now, the only thing that Tatsu knows with certainty is that she isn't finished with them yet. That includes the Captain.

Boomerang opens his mouth next, parting his lips like he's going to ask why. Then he doesn't. "You should."

It's quiet between them for a long time, quieter than it's been before. Tatsu doesn't move in the silence, and Boomerang stays pretty still, too. His eyes say more than his words right now, and now they're longing to know why. She almost wishes she had answers for him, but at the moment Tatsu finds that she doesn't even have the answers for herself.

"Sometimes what we should do and what we must do are different things." she explains, eventually. Her voice breaks away the quiet, chipping away at it word by word. "I can't leave yet. I can't explain it beyond that."

He stills again, dropping Pinky down on the bed. Then his hands fold over his chest slowly. "What do you think happened, Katana? Think something bad happened and, what—You're here to fix it?" he asks, pulling a face. "There's nothing to fix, darlin', and nothing happened here. I just did what I'm best at, I pissed 'em off and now I'm paying for it. That's really all there is to it. Think you're searching for something that's just not there."

The words feel false, she doesn't believe them, not when they contrast what his eyes are saying. His eyes tell another story, as do the bruises and marks over his body.

"Whatever happened here.." Tatsu pauses. "Did you start it?"

He steps away, over to the slot in the door. There, he peers out of it. "Does it matter?" he answers half a second later.

"Yes, it does. Did you start it?"

"Don't know." Boomerang answers, giving a shrug of his shoulders. "Guess that depends on the way you see things."

"What happened?" she pushes, needing to know more. "Were you sedated? Did they hurt you again?"

Once he's finished looking out of the slot in the cell, Boomerang turns around again. He shrugs his shoulders again, and it leaves Tatsu with nothing; no answers to what happened, no confirmation that what she believes is the truth, and no reason to believe that what she's done today was the right choice. She disobeyed Waller and the guards to step into his cell, and it leaves her doubting what the right decision was. Now it all feels unplanned and rash, and completely unlike her.

The only thing Tatsu currently knows with certainty is that something happened here. The destroyed, headless plush toy and the bruises over Boomerang's skin confirm this, and that's all it does. It doesn't tell her what happened or why, and it doesn't explain the doubt that silently lingers telling her there's still more to it.

"Don't really remember if I'm honest. Sorta just passed in a blur. Ya know?"

It leaves her with more questions. "A blur of what?"

This irritates Boomerang, this becomes clear soon. Her persistence to know, and the way she's still pushing him for answers and the truth, seems to annoy him. She catches fragments darting over his face, that linger and disappear in seconds. Boomerang shakes his head, while idly scratching at the side of his beard.

"Why aren't you hearing me? What's so fucking hard to understand, huh?"

She pushes past it. "You're avoiding my questions."

It bothers him, she sees it dart over his face then. "Whatever this is, it's gotta be done. Don't get me wrong, you comin' here was the best thing I had going on in a long time. And you only came that one time, right? So that was fun. Didn't have much more before that 'cos there's no one to talk to, except those guards and you know there's not a lot of love there. So that leaves this, it's all I had." he pauses, as a hint of a smile darts over his face. It's fleeting; there a moment, gone a second later like it was never there at all. "That's how I know it's what they're gonna take next. Probably want to take it away now, after you walked in here like that. They're gonna take it, so isn't it better if we stop it first? Not like you'll be losin' much, and I'll be just fine."

Tatsu doesn't believe his words, once again. It's because of the look she catches in his eyes, that contradicts what he's trying to convince her to believe. It tells her that even Boomerang doesn't believe it, or if he does then it's because he feels like there's no other choice. It does make sense to her, that this would be something they'd take next to show their authority, but Tatsu knows they won't do that because it's a part of her agreement with Waller. If it's taken, there's no reason for Tatsu to continue working for them.

She knows that Waller's happy to bend and twist their deal, but she wouldn't take it away entirely. Waller needs Tatsu right now, just as much as she needs the others, if not more. It stays with Tatsu and she feels a desire to tell Boomerang, to share this with him and ease his concerns that they won't take this. She can't tell him though, not here and not in his monitored cell. They need time, and she thinks she's figured out how to get that.

"It isn't that simple." she says finally.

Boomerang almost laughs again, it just doesn't form fully on his lips this time. "Pretty simple, actually. You just stay away from here like you did before. What's so hard about that? Just stay away from me for a bit. Makes sense, don't you think?" he answers. "Come on, Katana, you know me. They know me. I'm a criminal. You're not gonna find much here but trouble, and you never really seemed like the kinda girl interested in trouble."

It's almost too much to think on, or too much to question, yet she lingers on the words for a second. Listening to them over in her mind, until she works out what she will say. There's an undeniable truth to his words, especially the last part. It stays with her, because she knows he's right. She doesn't look for trouble. No, Tatsu kills trouble and criminals like Boomerang—and here they are, somehow. He's a criminal, who annoys her to the point where she could easily kill him, only she hasn't. She hasn't, and she's still here with him. Tatsu knows this means something to both of them, only she's certain that her side of it is well concealed. Boomerang's side isn't.

"Come on, darl. It's real easy, yeah?"

"I'm not." Tatsu answers, the earlier part first. "I'm not here for that. Or only for you. I see the others."

His presence feels closer, suddenly. Boomerang takes the slightest step closer and looks down at her, eyes pointedly scanning her over. "Not like this, though. They never mentioned that. Never heard about you going into see the others in their cells. Or helping clean them up. Just me. All nice and gentle with me, but you're still keeping ya distance with them." he pauses, drawing out the last few words. "Said it was just me. But I guess it doesn't really matter what they said it was, or what you won't say it is 'cos I know what it is now."

There it is again, the pull to him. The wait, where she finds herself watching him closely, wondering what he will do next.

"They got their shit—the TV, phone-calls, and the visitation—and maybe this is what I got. Maybe that's not alright anymore."

She's not sure what it is, but there's something about the way he says it that unsettles her. It's not what he says, it's just the way it sounds combined with the look she catches dart over his face. It's gone before she really sees it, and after that it's lost to her. Boomerang remains, staying close in front of her for a very long time. Her eyes wander from the bruises again, over to the faint blood smeared on his forearms and neck. It's not like the last time, when she remembers the Captain being totally oblivious to her eyes wandering over his scars, bruises, and vulnerabilities.

Today he sees it, and today he doesn't like it.

It sets him off, in a way that reminds her of her first visit to see him. It's the anger inside of him and the way it builds up around him, that makes it seem like he's trying to encase himself in it. He wants to keep the anger there as a way to keep it all out. It's his way of keeping her out, along with everyone else. It spreads over his face quickly and he seems torn, between staying there with her and leaving.

Boomerang decides on leaving, and steps away from her. Over to the other side of his cell, where he only glances at her a minute later.

"Jesus Christ, Katana—how many times do I have to say this? They took away the only thing I gave a shit about and ripped it's fucking head off. What about that isn't clear to you?" he snaps at her. "Here's what it means, and here's the last time I'll say it, yeah? It means that you're better off staying away from me. I know the others are a bit nuts like me, too. But you are guaranteed to find less crazy and a whole lot less trouble with them right now than you will with me."

Tatsu doesn't move. She remains still, eyes resting on him. "It isn't your choice to make."

He rolls his eyes. "What, and it's yours?"

"I can tell you're afraid."

Of what? She doesn't know yet, it's still unclear along with pretty much everything else that Boomerang's showing her right now. She looks through it and sees that he's afraid, this is what she knows. He dismisses the suggestion with a dry, heavy laugh, and then he starts to pace again. Before he returns to her, arriving back in front of her. It's then that Tatsu looks into his eyes and sees that he's trying to push her out, far away from this. It lingers in his eyes in a dull way, that confirms that it's more than anything he's telling her. It's there, she just needs to find a way to take it from him.

Boomerang's laugh hangs in the silence, once it rattles out of his throat. "Darlin', I killed aliens. I'm not afraid of anything."

It's the truth, and at the same time it isn't, somehow. Tatsu finds it both curious and concerning how it can be both of these things at once. It echoes between them after, he waits there next to her, expecting her to believe him. She silently wonders if she will regret this and she's almost sure that she will, but right now she can't leave it like this.

"Then tell me what happened. Tell me what is going." she urges, voice gentle. "Things have changed. Why? You are—"

"Me. I'm me. I'm always gonna be me, and I'm fine with that." he cuts over her; the gentleness of her voice means nothing to him right now. "I'm happy with it. Despite almost every person I ever met telling me that I shouldn't be, I am. I'm at peace with who I am."

Tatsu's voice rises now. "You aren't happy or at peace with the way things are here."

"Why do you suddenly give a shit, huh? You know this is as good as it gets for me in here. Can't pretend that it gets better, and I can't pretend that I'm someone else just so I don't piss 'em off. I am who I am. I always will be. And the honest truth is that you know that, even if you don't know me. I was chatty and friendly 'cos I wanted a beer, knew you'd get me one if you felt bad enough. Knew if I sat still and quiet, and did what you asked, that you'd get exactly what I asked."

"You may be a decent criminal, but you aren't a good liar."

After he takes another look at her, Boomerang nods towards the door. "Think it's time for you to go now. Go on, luv. You should piss off now." he says, gesturing to the door again. "See, what you did was awesome. Right? But I think it's probably fucked me again, 'cos now they have another reason to come at me. You should leave before it gets to that."

She doesn't move. "They won't."

"Not while you're in here, because they need ya. Don't really need me, that's the difference."

It's all swirling around, madly in her mind. Tatsu tries to focus on one thought. "I wanted to help you. I put myself into this situation knowing what it could mean. I understand that, and I accept whatever follows."

"What are you gonna do? Kill the guards?" he laughs. "Don't even know why you're doing this. Still won't tell me why."

There's another pause. It's long and drawn out, and Boomerang sighs after. He's got an almost curious look in his eyes, but it's weighed down by that same look of heaviness that lingers there. She keeps her eyes set on him through it all, somehow.

"You hallucinated the first time that I saw you here."

It's unexpected, to say the least. "What?" Boomerang frowns, fast. "Thought I didn't do anything weird?"

"You were stained with blood. Injured, and alone. You spoke like we had.." she stops, hesitating. "Like I had been there before. You believed that I was in your head. I can't explain it more than that, I do not know what else you saw. I only know that I was here for them, and for you also. You were not in a good way then, and you aren't now. That is why I'm here."

Boomerang drags his teeth over his lip, chewing on it for a moment.

"If you're here for us, you're gonna get hurt like us."

"I won't."

He makes a quiet tsk noise, shaking his head. "Don't know that."

"You don't, either." she pushes. "You don't know as much as you think you do."

It's like he's done with the conversation, from the way he steps back. "Maybe not, but I know you better go now."

Tatsu follows him, mirroring his steps. "Tell me something, first. Tell me why you're afraid."

"Already told you, I'm not—"

"Then what is it?" she asks, waiting. "Tell me, and I will leave. Tell me, Captain, so we can be done here."

His shoulders stay tense, when he turns back to face her. "These pricks, they're watching us right now. You think it's gonna be that easy?" he asks. "Think I'm just gonna be able to say it, even if I wanted to?"

"I thought you weren't afraid of anything."

It feels like it almost calms between them. Tatsu's not sure if she images the feeling, or creates it for herself, but it almost feels that way from the look on his face. It's like he understands now that her words are the truth, and that she's here to deal with this, whatever it is. He hesitates for a second, physically pulling away from her, and the he switches. Just like that, he leans in and opens his mouth.

The words are almost there, the whisper builds on his lips, but there's no time.

"We have authorization to use force to remove you from the inmate's cell, if we deem it necessary." a voice suddenly carries in, from the slot in the door. "You are to leave the cell without disruption or confrontation. After this, Waller wishes to see you immediately."

Tatsu catches it, in a heartbeat. She keeps her gaze on Boomerang, as she listens to the guard waiting outside of the cell. Across from her, Boomerang pulls away again. He steps away, far over to the other side of the cell, and then he looks at her like he's waiting for her to leave. She knows she can't, and not just because they're not done here but because this doesn't feel right.

The voice doesn't sound the same, it isn't the bruised guard that was here earlier. It's a new, one she's never heard before. She catches a faint accent but can't pick it. Tatsu waits, listening as he continues.

"I will repeat this one more time, we have been given authorization to use force to clear the inmates cell. We will do so if necessary. You are to leave the cell without any confrontation or disruption. Violence towards the guards will not be tolerated."

Still, and near the door, Tatsu throws a look over her shoulder. "And, what of Waller?" she asks.

Through the opened square in the cell door, she sees that the guard's in full riot gear. Next, she listens and she hears only the sound of his slow breaths. She hears no one else's voice, no one else's breathing. Just his. He's alone, to use force if necessary to remove Tatsu from the cell, and it still doesn't feel right. So she waits for another second, needing just a little more before she leaves.

"As I said, Waller wishes to see you immediately."

Waller's away. Business somewhere, she recalls Flag telling her earlier, I just know she's back in a few days.

It doesn't fit. Tatsu turns her back to Boomerang, eyes locking on the guard outside of the cell. His face is concealed, covered completely by a helmet. She stares at him for a moment, then nods and starts to walk over towards the door. There's nothing from Boomerang behind her, only silence. Tatsu reaches for the door, pushes it open, and then waits as the guard stands there. Observing her, quietly for a second, then he nods.

"Your cooperation is appreciated." he says. "Now, if you would see to Agent Waller. She's waiting for you."

"May I have your name? So I can tell Agent Waller of your understanding and cooperation."

He doesn't move from his place by the door.

"Anderson."

There's a second before Tatsu leaves that she turns back to catch Boomerang's gaze, or she at least tries to. His back is turned to her, and she notices that his hand is back on his side like he is injured there. She reminds herself to see to it later, and steps out of the guards path. He moves outside of the cell, watching her as she leaves. It puzzles her, why he does this, but she keeps walking away.

The guard waits until she's gone to move again. She's concealed around the side of a corridor when she hears the distinctive sound of Boomerang's cell door opening again. Tatsu stays there, waiting a moment, before she follows it. Not too long, because she already thinks she has an idea of where this is going. It's long enough that the guard Anderson will believe she's gone. She's not sure what to expect, but she thinks she knows where this will lead them.

Tatsu returns to Boomerang's cell quietly. She lingers near the walls, moving fast, like a shadow. It's only when she's closer to his cell that she hears it, the unmissable sound of a struggle. It grows closer as Tatsu does, and when she rounds the corner and steps into the open space of his tiny cell she sees Anderson, or whoever he really is, fighting to jam a needle into Boomerang's neck.

It doesn't feel right. Not at all. There's blood running down the side of Boomerang's jaw like he's been hit, and he's really struggling to keep Anderson away. He's not nearly as tall as Boomerang, but he's large, and it looks like he's already weakened the Captain with some of the prison gear. It takes Tatsu about half a second to make a decision she knows she may regret, but it feels beyond her now; her hands wind around Soultaker before she knows it, she only recognizes it and the way it feels in her palms.

An alarm starts blaring in Belle Reve a second later, distracting Anderson for just a moment. It's enough for Tatsu to take her chance to move, and to pierce Soultaker deep into his heart.

Chapter Text

Blood trickles down Boomerang's jaw. Her eyes are stuck on it, even as a shrill scream from the Captain echoes through the air when Anderson falls dead between them. Tatsu grips Soultaker, tight, while Boomerang flattens himself against a wall. He moves one hand to cradle his side, and the other one hangs there, until he gestures vaguely to the body on the ground, over to Tatsu, and then back to the body.

There's something mad in his gaze. Wild, for a second, and then it's not really there anymore. He looks trapped, she decides. Boomerang looks trapped, and then dazed, like he's torn between believing what's here and what's in his head. Her attention stays on him, as she sheaths her sword, but stays alert, for whatever comes next. Something always comes next. Tatsu tries to catch the Captain's attention, and it's only when she steps into his vision that he really sees her and he remembers he's not alone here.

Boomerang looks to her and decides that this is real, and yes, she really did that. In the hollow space of his cell, Boomerang leans back further into the wall, until his back is pressed firmly against it and it almost looks like he's taking a moment to rest there. Tatsu decides then that he's hurt, and that it's something for her to concern herself with later, once they've dealt with this. She lets her eyes wander over him anyway, and her gaze settles over the place on his neck where the needle was almost jammed in.

Her fingers twitch, longing to wipe the blood from the spot there, and then from his jaw. Tatsu leaves and moves to kneel beside Anderson's body. She crouches down beside him and pats his body down, and she isn't really surprised when she finds nothing. Tatsu picks the needle up, inspects it briefly, then sets it down again. Boomerang's voice startles her about three seconds later, only because of the way it sounds.

Breathy. Fractured. Very confused.

"What the fuck." Boomerang sighs. "You just—and he just.. What the fuck just happened?"

He lifts a hand to his jaw and wipes some of the blood away. It only smears it across his face more, but he doesn't seem bothered at all. Tatsu isn't really concerned by it, either. It's only superficial, she decides, after one last, lingering look at his jaw. It will wait until later, like the other wounds she knows are hidden under the cover of his prison uniform.

"Stay here." she says, and that's all.

Tatsu leaves without looking back. She stops by the door and peers around the corner, a hand wrapped tightly around Soultaker. There's no one here now, but that doesn't make her feel better about the situation, or about the alarm that's still ringing. She pauses, sighs, and then returns to him. Boomerang is still by the wall, but he's leaning against it a little less now. His hand isn't cradled around his side anymore, and he's still staring at Anderson like he can't understand it. Tatsu almost tells him that it really shouldn't surprise him, that someone like him would have a list of people wanting to kill him. She doesn't say it though, because Boomerang seems genuinely unnerved by it all, if only for the moment.

"He's in your sword now?" Boomerang drags his gaze up from the floor. "He's just in there, chillin' in your sword right now? He's in there?"

It isn't shock, she thinks. He seems like the kind of man who's seen worse, and done worse. Still, for a second longer, he seems rattled. Then something clicks and he's back to himself, or to whoever he is around her. Boomerang pushes himself off the wall, eyes darting from the cameras in the corner of the room, to the door, and then back to the body.

His eyes find her, eventually. Dull, and blue, and still tired.

"Katana, listen—luv, hey. I wasn't being serious before."

She blinks, observing him distantly.

"When I asked if you were gonna kill 'em, you gotta know that wasn't me asking you to do it. Just so we're clear, so we're all clear, I didn't ask for this. Yeah? You gotta know that, luv."

It isn't guilt either, that she catches in his eyes. She considers that it's something else entirely, and it will be another thing that she doesn't understand about him. Tatsu accepts that, because she doesn't want to know him. It's not why she's here. It isn't why she killed Anderson, or this is what she tells herself, when she finds herself doubting what she believes.

"He was going to kill you. I acted as required."

Boomerang is left speechless, it doesn't last long.

"As required? Don't you think you could have—Oh, I dunno. Maybe just knocked him out, yeah?" he asks, standing a little closer to her now. "Shit. Maybe it was just a big ol' misunderstanding, you know? Maybe he was just tryin' to—"

"Sedate you?"

He hesitates again. "Yeah. I mean, nah. Or, maybe—uh.."

Tatsu leaves him to finish that thought, or to never finish it, and picks the needle up from the ground again. It's unlike him to stay silent this long, but it lasts. Boomerang moves away from the wall and follows her, over to where she's holding the needle, closer to Anderson's body. He bends over to get a look at the man, then leans away. It's clear he doesn't know him, this Tatsu notices. She also notices when Boomerang is closer that his feet are bare, and now sticky with Anderson's blood. It's deep and crimson, and now it's sticking to the soles of his feet.

Boomerang notices about half a second after she does.

"Oh, fuck. Fuck. This is just—well, this is great. Isn't it?" he groans, trying to wipe it on the ground. "Would you look at this shit? Fuck, Katana. What a fuckin' day."

It doesn't work, he just ends up smearing blood all over the floor. She wonders for a moment if there's ever been a time when he hasn't been covered in blood.

"There's no time for this." Tatsu tells him. "Take this, and come with me. We have to leave now."

She offers him the needle, to carry in his pocket. It only takes about three seconds for Boomerang to realize what she's giving him.

"You want me to carry that thing around?" Boomerang steps back, raising his hand. "After it almost killed me? No thanks, sweetheart. Think I'll pass on that."

Tatsu keeps the needle stretched out in her palm. Her gaze is heavy, unwavering. He needs to carry it, for convenience, so they can look into later.

"We need to leave."

"Why can't you take it, huh? Why don't you?" he shoots back defensively. "Don't you have pockets on that little thing, or somethin'? And it's not like anyone's gonna kill you."

Her silence gives him her answer. Boomerang groans, taking the needle and shoving it into the pocket of his prison pants in one, swift motion. He's not happy about it, but he says nothing else. Tatsu steps back over to the door of the cell, taking a longer look outside. There's still no one there, no one except a few stray prisoners, and she's not sure why it bothers her but it does. It makes her question why. It makes her question everything, but there's no time for all of her questions today.

"Where are we goin', anyway?" he asks.

"If there are others coming, you will need to leave."

A hand flies out suddenly, gripping her forearm. Tatsu spins around half a second later, and—of course, she thinks. Of course Boomerang is shirtless now. Minimal clothing seems to be his preferred choice. She moves her gaze downwards, to the blood stained shirt now on the ground. His feet are clean now, she sees, but she still wonders if it was really necessary to take his shirt off to do that.

"Wait, hold up." Boomerang stays close. His eyes are almost bright with hope. "We're breaking out?"

"No. You're not leaving the prison. I am relocating you to a safer position."

And there's the Captain, back to his usual self. He grins at her, half a second later. It's bright, and bold, and familiar (she really, really wishes it weren't). It takes her back, to the little moments in his cell. She thinks back to it all, and then pulls herself back, to now, to him, and to what happens next.

"Ya know, luv, usually the positions I'm into aren't always safe—"

"I am relocating you to a safer area of the prison."

Boomerang's grin grows. "Sure sounds like we're breakin' out, darl. What, we goin' on a holiday somewhere? Sounds sweet. I don't really mind, it's just gotta be somewhere with booze, water, and sunshine. Oh, and of course, you gotta be there. Wouldn't be no fun without ya. And I think you'd miss me a little bit. Wouldn't ya?"

She holds his gaze. "We're not breaking out—"

"Kinda sounds like we're breaking out." he smirks. "Also sounds like you care about me, darl."

"Follow me or die."

"And that kinda sounds like a threat. But hey, I'm not gonna say anything, except Hawaii sounds like a good place to be. Just throwin' that out there for you to have a think on."

Tatsu slips back, away from Boomerang's voice, and into the present. It grinds against her skin, the way the alarm is still blaring through the prison. It's far too loud, and heavy, and not knowing why it's ringing is getting to her, too. It bothers her because there should be guards here now, and there aren't. It bothers her because she knows if Boomerang dies today, it's on her. So now, it's her job to keep him safe, to keep them all alive. Tatsu's first thought is to get Boomerang away from here and to somewhere safe, and then to find the others. She doesn't know what comes after that, but she feels ready for it.

Outside of Boomerang's cell, Tatsu finds several prisoners roaming around. They're scattered, separated. They seem unsure, of what to do next, or some of them do at least. She counts seven. It doesn't feel right. Then it feels strange, when she notices that not all of the cell doors are open. Tatsu turns back to share this with Boomerang, but she turns back at the second that he steps out of his cell and they collide. Her face crashes into his chest. Boomerang doesn't dwell on it, he doesn't try to make a joke. He must understand that it's serious, from a glance at the prisoners roaming around outside.

"Shit, my bad. Sorry darl."

Boomerang steadies her then takes a step forward, outside of the cell. He's not interested in running, not yet. Tatsu sees the concern on his face, and she wonders if it's for himself, or for his friends, if that's the way he thinks of them. She turns back to face the outside of the cells, noticing now that some of the prisoners haven't even left their cells.

"All we gotta do is move slowly, luv. Alright? That's all, that's the key. It's how we do this." Boomerang tells her, taking wide steps but slow steps out into the open. "There's no reason they're gonna hurt us. I'm sure most of 'em are reasonable blokes, hey. I mean, sure, I heard things. Some of 'em were kinda pissed about our 'special' treatment, but we both know I never got that. So I'm sure it's gonna be a breeze. A walk in the park, even, luv. Just you wait and see."

Three prisoners start running at Boomerang after they notice him. She's not sure if it's because they know of the 'special' treatment, or if they're just looking for a fight. Boomerang's off running at them before Tatsu can get a word out. He tackles the biggest one down to the ground, taking him down easily. It reminds her of his strength, of the man she saw in the city that night. It's almost too easy for him to take the first two down. It leaves Tatsu to the third, who's about to get on Boomerang's back while he's finishing up with the last prisoner. Tatsu works fast, and it's over in a second. She's dealt with hundreds of criminals before, killing them is as easy as breathing to her.

Once it's over, Boomerang joins her. His knuckles are bleeding again, and she wonders if there's ever been a time in his life when they haven't bled. Tatsu's gaze wanders to the bloody mess of prisoners on the ground. Her attention is torn up, to the sound of gunfire rattling through the prison walls. It grows closer. Tatsu doesn't even have to think. She grabs a hold of Boomerang and throws him into the nearest cell, falling in there with him. They crash against the wall together. He grabs her side on the way down—a mistake, or an accident, she doesn't care. Tatsu immediately pulls herself from his arms, and from the situation. She steps back to look around the new cell they're in, to meet the bright gaze of a naked prisoner, sitting on the edge of the concrete slab, reading what looks like a recipe book.

Tatsu looks away, peeking her head around the corner of the cell. The gunfire grows closer with every second that passes. Boomerang's too distracted by his new friend to notice what she's doing. Tatsu doesn't listen, as he stretches a hand to the man and introduces himself. She can't think about that, or about anything else, except that this is her job. It's her job, to keep him alive, to keep all of them alive. She can't do this if he's wounded, and she can't let him fall behind. Tatsu looks at Boomerang over her shoulder, then she leaves. She slips out of the cell while Boomerang's making small talk with the naked prisoner. He doesn't even notice she's gone until the door clicks shut.

He stills completely then looks up, eyes blown wide. It's only for now, Tatsu wants to tell him, but she closes the slot on the door instead. Boomerang runs to the door after it's shut. He doesn't run at it, not like the first time. He doesn't throw himself at it, he just runs to it. He's angry, but not with her. He's angry with himself for missing it. Boomerang's voice is muffled on the other side of the door, but it lingers, distantly. It's a reminder, of their past. She turns away, ignoring the sound of the door shaking behind her as Boomerang bangs on it with his fists. She needs to get him out of this alive, she needs to do this alone.

It's only for the moment, Tatsu reminds herself. She runs across to a different section of the wall, where she can conceal herself well. Tatsu slips in there and stays, hidden. She waits for minutes, until they come. The gunfire's gone now, everything is too quiet. That's how she knows they're coming. Tatsu knows they're here, seconds before their boots hit the ground. They're quiet, but she's quieter, and deadlier, and they don't stand a chance.

She listens, and counts eight. It's almost too easy. Tatsu gets a look at them, before they see her, before it begins. There are eight men approaching, all wearing black armor. All holding machine guns. Tatsu knows that if they're here for Boomerang, then they're going to come for the others. She won't let that happen. Tatsu's next thoughts are of them, and she decides she'll go to Floyd, first. Harley's cell is the most secured, the most protected, while Waylon's cell is difficult to find and to get into. She decides to go to Floyd because she hopes that's where she will also find Flag, and then they can work out what to do from there.

It's like Manhattan, but worse. Harder. Tatsu doesn't know why, she considers that it's because there's more to risk. She thinks of this after, when it's over, and she's knelt over on the ground, bleeding. She cuts flesh from bone, and kills all of them, and when it's over she's left weaker. It's not a deep wound, so she wraps it, hides it under her clothes, and pushes on. There's nothing left on their bodies to tell her what they're here for, but she decides that they look like an extraction team. She wonders then if their task was for Anderson to sedate Boomerang, and then to come in, take him, and leave no witnesses.

There's blood all over the ground when Tatsu steps away. She grips Soultaker hard again and follows the path back to Boomerang's cell, a machine gun strapped over her shoulder. It's not for her. Tatsu unlocks the cell and finds a mess. Boomerang's new, naked friend is unconscious, or dead, on the ground. He looks dead. There's blood everywhere, and she's almost certain there's more blood on Boomerang then there was before. She doesn't get a word out before Boomerang pushes his way out of the cell. 

Now she sees it, now he looks wild. There's a gash to his back, like he was stabbed there. Tatsu waits for Boomerang to tell her, about how this is his luck, or about what a day it is, but he says nothing about that. He seems infinitely more concerned about this, and her, rather than the fresh cut to his back, or his new friend who's now dead.

"What the fuck was that—and you just—and they shot the place up like—jesus christ, luv. Jesus fucking Christ."

He stammers over half finished sentences, and then his thoughts dwindle off somewhere and he becomes distracted. First, his attention is caught on their bodies. Then on the gun, hanging off her shoulder. Boomerang seems curious. It's more than curiosity. It's hope, and hunger, and then familiarity. Tatsu gives him the gun. It's fully loaded. It's not a mistake, she tells herself, because for the moment she needs him. She doesn't say it, doesn't even make it clear, but he knows.

Boomerang breaks out into a grin, hands sliding over the gun slowly. Then he takes it into his hands and grips it tightly, like it's almost as easy as breathing to him. She knows it is, she's just more accustomed to seeing him with a different kind of weapon. She can't retrieve those for him, and even if she could Tatsu's not sure she would risk it. For now, the gun will have to be enough. The look on his face tells her that it's much more than that.

"Oh, you beautiful thing." he murmurs fondly to the gun.

He checks if it's loaded, and his eyes become brighter, like that time with the beer. Then, the time with the toy. Boomerang quickly looks back to Tatsu, and she realizes he's waiting for her explain their next move. He's waiting, and she's surprised because a part of her was always waiting for him to run off. She's certain that the gun is only encouraging that voice in his head, that's always thinking about running away. He still doesn't run.

Tatsu doesn't trust him because of it, but she finds that she's not so wary of him, in this moment at least.

"So, we goin' or not?" Boomerang checks. "I'm all ears, darl. Just tell me where to point the gun."

She barely glances at him, as she moves on.

"Forward."

Boomerang rushes to catch up to her. He falls in beside her, scoffing a little to himself.

"Well, obviously."

It's only quiet for a moment. Tatsu's not sure why she breaks it, she's not sure why she cares.

"What happened to your back?" she asks.

He seems surprised, almost, by her question. Then he ignores it completely.

"What happened to yours?" Boomerang shoots back.

It's then that she notices it. Tatsu peers over her shoulder and realizes her back is damp. Sticky, with blood. She looks on, ignoring Boomerang's gaze, and his words. It aches now, but only distantly. It isn't something that bothers her, so she leaves it behind, with her thoughts of Boomerang. She focuses on here, and getting him somewhere safe. Tatsu leads them down a corridor, far away from his cell and the mess they've left behind.

It only seems to get worse from there. All of the cell doors are open in the next section of the prison, and the only thing keeping them separated is the gate between their areas. She realizes they don't have the keys, anyway. Half a second later, there's a voice behind her and Tatsu spins around, ready to cut them down. Boomerang follows her lead, ready to shoot.

She stops him at the last second. Or, more accurately, she knocks the gun as he's firing and the bullet misses the target, which is a very good thing considering the target is a guard. More specifically, it's probably Boomerang's least favorite guard. It's the guard with the purple and blue bruises. She notices a very recent, fresh mark to the top of his head. Then she notices that his gear's all gone, including most of his weapons. He's just got the one gun now, and when he recognizes them and realizes what Boomerang's just done, he aims his gun at Boomerang's head.

Tatsu knows it's pointless, with how small she is compared to the Boomerang. It really wouldn't change anything. She still moves to stand in front of him, to block him from the guard, to protect him. It's also to keep him from doing anything stupid, like killing a guard. That's something he hasn't done yet, and she doesn't want him to cross that line, not when he has to live here and she gets to leave. She wonders if she ever really gets to leave, and then she wonders what comes next.

"Oh, hey. Shit. Would you look who it is? It's Captain Dumbass." the guard calls out, bitterly. "Y'know, I'm not really one to believe in fate and all that crap. But I always had a feeling that I was gonna be the one to kill you."

That's when Tatsu remembers his name, from one of the files she read. Is it Cooper? She's not sure, she doesn't really care what his name is. She just cares about keeping Boomerang alive, and away from Cooper.

Behind her, Boomerang's entire body tenses. Tatsu stays in front of him, a hand close to Soultaker, the other stretched out to Cooper. She stays there, firm, and unflinching, while staring at the end of his gun. It doesn't matter, she knows it. She knows can kill him before he even slips a finger around the trigger, so she doesn't feel unsafe here between the two of them.

Boomerang doesn't feel safe here, though. She notices that he's still unsure of it all, and even more tense now. His breathing is heavy again, she can feel it on the back of her neck. Tatsu stays in front of him, gaze set forward.

"What's happening here?" Tatsu asks.

She knows before Cooper replies that this isn't the man to look to answers for, and that they're wasting time here.

"You don't know?" he calls back. "They came to break your little friends out."

"Bullshit. Mate, this is such utter bullshit." Boomerang nearly laughs at him. "They tried to kill me. You don't know shit."

It makes Cooper step closer. "Not surprising. They're probably as fucked in the—"

"This is not the time." Tatsu's quick to speak. "Are you in contact with Colonel Flag?"

Cooper takes a look around, then gestures to his uniform—or his lack of a uniform. He's just in plain black shirt and boxers. Everything's gone, taken by Anderson not long ago. Tatsu stares back at him, waiting for another disappointing answer she knows is coming.

"Yeah, sure. We're talking right now. It's a telepathic thing, turns out I'm a freak like you guys." he snaps back. "Does it look like we're in contact? Would I be here if I was? Shit, girl. What a stupid fucking question."

Tatsu straightens up slowly. "We need to leave."

There's really no time, to stand here discussing things, with a man who is going to give them no help. She knows they can move on, and that there are other ways out of the prison, and if not, then there are likely gates that are open. With all the prisoners wandering around, they could make it back to Boomerang's cell and go that way, to see if there are unlocked gates, or ways out from there. This is what they need to be doing, but from the way that Cooper's still looking at Boomerang she knows that he's going to make it difficult for them to walk away.

"Yeah, good. Leave, if you want. But he is not going anywhere, except back in a cell."

Boomerang laughs. It's hearty, and too real, considering the situation they're in.

"Oh, mate. Sure. Yeah, why not? Why don't you bring me some dinner while yer at it? I'll sit in an' have a meal. I'll just wait for this to pass over, ey? I'll hide, like you. What a fuckin' brilliant idea, honestly. Sounds like the cowards way out. And I'm no coward. I don't run from a good fight."

That's when it becomes tense again, or it just gets worse. It's always been tense. Cooper grips his gun tighter, knuckles turning paler. She can see it; he wants to do this, he wants to shoot, and it's not even really about Boomerang. It's almost not even about him. Cooper's power has been taken. He's been stripped, literally, of the things that give him power here. All he's holding on to is a gun, and Tatsu has a feeling that it's empty.

"We're looking for the Colonel." Tatsu tells him. "And Boomerang is here, with me. He is not going anywhere with you."

"You heard me. Boomerang's not leaving. And he's not keeping that gun. We can do this the easy way, or the hard way. You really don't—"

Tatsu takes a step closer, followed by another. "I need your keys. If you have still them, give them to me."

He laughs. "You really are stupid."

Boomerang takes a step after Tatsu. He stays behind her, while he points his gun right at Cooper.

"You heard her. Give her what she wants. Keys, now."

Cooper doesn't move. "Go on. Take a shot, dumbass. You miss, you die. I dare you to try it. Let's see who wins that fight."

She sighs, biting down hard on her lip for a moment. It's taking most of Tatsu's self control, to not take the keys with force. She knows that right now, they need guards, to take back the prison. It won't help, to end things like this now. She needs to find a way through it, where they all walk away, without making anyone's lives any worse. Tatsu breathes out, tightly, then speaks.

"We're trying to take back the prison. That's what we're doing, it is all that we're doing. We aren't threats to you."

It's not enough for Cooper, it's not real.

"At least come up with a good lie, honey."

Tatsu reaches into Boomerang's, pocket, pulling out the needle. "See this? They tried to kill him, with this." she explains, holding it out to show him. "I don't know who they are, but I know they are here for him. Your job is to protect him. That is what you're supposed to do."

"But he's—"

"It doesn't matter what you think of him." she speaks louder. "It is your job to protect him. Will you do that?"

There's something bitter on his face. Rough, and bitter, and tired. Cooper lowers his gun, but doesn't let it go. His grip is so tight, his knuckles are ghost white. She sees the stress is getting to him, the situation is breaking him, and he's just waiting for the moment Boomerang makes a mistake. She decides now that his gun is definitely empty, because the fact that he let Boomerang off for almost shooting him isn't right. It tells her that he doesn't have any bullets, and that he's alone here, and that's why he's so afraid.

"How do you even know they're here for him?" he asks, glancing between the two of them. "He's not like the others. What's his power? He can throw little pieces of metal around?"

At that, Boomerang tenses up again. It's more noticeable this time, and he's so close, standing behind her, that she feels it. She doesn't know why, but on instinct she stretches a hand back. She touches his chest, holding him there for the briefest moment, to tell him without words to leave this to her. He does.

"You were knocked out, your things were stolen." Tatsu stares at the guard. "This tells you it has nothing to do with the Captain. Doesn't it?"

"How?" Cooper asks.

Tatsu draws in a sharp breath, wondering why she needs to explain every little thing to this man.

"Boomerang would not be here with me if he were being freed. You know this is true." she says. "And if I doubted his honesty or intentions, he would not be here. So now, tell me, where are your keys?"

There's a sigh from Cooper, before he turns away.

"Don't know. They're gone now."

She wonders why life is this way, why it is so predictable sometimes. Tatsu sighs, dropping her hands down to her side. She steps away from the two men, gaze scanning the area closely. Behind her, she hears the sound of Boomerang lowering his gun. He's still tense, still mad, and looking for something to let that rage out on, but he doesn't make a move on Cooper, and Cooper doesn't go for him, and Tatsu guesses that's something. Until it isn't.

It takes a minute before they start arguing about guns, and Cooper tries to take Boomerang's gun from him. They're struggling over the gun like children fighting over the last toy, when a voice rings through the air behind the three of them, and Tatsu's not sure she ever believed she could feel relief at the sound of Harley Quinn's voice.

"Oh, kiddies. Don't fight. Mom and Dad are here now."

Tatsu's gaze is pulled to the gate, to where all the prisoners are running wild. They're fighting each other, and yelling, and laughing—and somehow, Harley and Floyd have made it through the mess to the other side. They're standing on that side of the gate, both armed with guns that don't belong to them, and both covered in spots of blood. Harley's twirling a pair of keys around one of her fingers and chewing on pink bubble-gum. Tatsu doesn't know how, she doesn't even question why she's got the keys, or how she got the bubble-gum. She's just glad to see them, and that's something else she can't question right now.

Harley unlocks the gate, fast. Floyd slips through, and she follows, moving in behind him. There's more blood on Harley's jumpsuit than on Floyd's, and something tells Tatsu that it isn't hers since she's not bleeding anywhere. She looks to Floyd next, and sees his knuckles are raw, from punching something, or likely someone.

"Want the short story, or the long one?" Floyd asks, like he somehow gets that this is a lot to take in. "I'm gonna guess that right now you want the short version."

There's a pause. He leans in, closer, to Tatsu for a moment.

"And by the way, I don't know what she's saying—but I'm not the Dad of this group."

She wonders if it's Floyd's way, of making things lighter. In her own way, she appreciates it, and she lets him know that with a look of her own. After that, Floyd leans away, and casts a look over the three of them. She follows his gaze, and is relieved to find Cooper and Boomerang have stopped fighting over the gun for now.

Floyd's happy, she realizes soon. Not necessarily about this situation, or about the dead guards and prisoners. He's happy with a gun in his hand, he's happy at the idea of being free, even if it's only a short-lived, false kind of freedom. Tatsu finds relief knowing that Floyd wouldn't jeopardize his visits with his daughter to get out of here. He's not going to try and get out with all this chaos going on, and she finds comfort in that. Then there's Harley, and Tatsu knows she sees the rest of them as family. She's also read Harley's files, and she knows she longs to be free, just like the rest of them. It feels like a dangerous situation to be in. Tatsu knows she shouldn't trust them, she's not sure that she does, but she still feels connected to them, and there's a part of her that hopes this doesn't turn out the way her mind is telling her it probably will.

"Okay, hon, here's the short version of the story: These guys tried to get me from my cell. And they weren't nice guys, not at all." Harley explains, moving to sling her gun over her shoulder. "They killed a lot of people, a lot of guards, which I'm not exactly mad at them for. Y'know? I was almost cheering for them, for that. But then they tried to put something in my neck, and I don't like it when people try to do that. So I killed them, and then I ran into Floyd, and that's how we got here."

For a second, Floyd considers it. Then he steps closer to Tatsu, and there's a smirk on his face.

"Well, actually, I found Harley. In her cell. Smashing in some guy's head. With the coffee machine."

"It was an espresso—"

"Right. Her espresso machine."

"Oh, shit." Boomerang sighs, genuinely frustrated. "Was really lookin' forward to having one of those."

Harley's quick to console him. "Oh, Boomy. Don't worry, I'll get Flag to replace it. He'll have to, after we help." she smiles. "You gotta have one, they're so good. Right, hon?"

Then she turns to Tatsu, like this is actually the time to be talking about the espressos they had together. She knows it should only be expected, that Boomerang becomes almost jealous. It's not really jealous, she decides, soon. It's strange, and unexpected. He reacts strangely to the idea of the two of them having coffees together. It's almost like all the times she told him she was here for all of them, and not just him, that he didn't believe it.

Now he believes it.

"What? You two had coffee and just sat around havin' a—"

"Enough. It's enough, okay?" Floyd steps in. "Of course, I have to be the adult here. Now's not the time, kids."

Boomerang glances at him, grinning slowly. 

"So what's the time for then, dad?"

"Don't call me that." he snaps back. "And you know what it's time for. It's time for us to take this place back."

Tatsu's gaze flickers slowly, between Floyd, and Boomerang. It mostly lingers on the Captain; she notices all the little things about him, so she doesn't miss the tension that floods his features at the mention of the prison. She knows their experiences have been different to his, she knows it's been rough. Tatsu also knows that she doesn't know most of it. There's always been more to it, more that he's never said, and she accepts it. She accepts his rage towards this place, and the people who run it, she just can't allow it to be something that controls this situation. She can't allow Boomerang to be blinded by this rage, and to let that effect what they do to take the prison back.

"Why? Why don't we just let 'em have it?" Boomerang's reply comes back fast. "This place has never done shit for us, except make us miserable. And maybe, they gave us shit to make us forget how miserable we were. But we always remembered, didn't we?"

It sounds painful, and tired. Tatsu's not sure that anyone else picks up on it, but she does. She says nothing, because—what can she say? There's nothing. There aren't any words, not here, and not like this. She's not sure if things were different, and if they were alone, that she would find those words anyway. Tatsu says nothing, and instead begins to piece together a plan in her head, on how they're going to do this. She knows that she needs them on her side. They're volatile, dangerous, and unpredictable, but they're all she has right now. She needs to put her trust in them, despite every part of her body telling her that it's wrong, and that she's going to regret it one day.

Maybe she will. Tatsu's sure that she already regrets pieces of it. There are things she regrets; actions, feelings, and thoughts, mostly. She tries not to linger too deeply on them, because now isn't the time. Now is the time where they come together, to do this. She knows she's not the only one to see it this way, and she finds herself glad that Floyd is here with her, to help them see what they need to do today.

"You know that whoever came here, whoever tried to take us, they're not interested in this place." Floyd says soon. "They're here for us. They don't want this place, they want us."

Boomerang half-smiles. "Don't really care what they're interested in, to be honest. Couldn't give a fuck. All I know is, I'm interested in watching this place burn down right to the ground. And I don't really wanna go down with it. But if Waller's gonna burn? I'll start the fire, mate."

"And you'll burn with her?" Floyd asks. "Really? You'd give her what she wants, just like that? You know that's what she wants. You're just gonna hand it over to her?"

"Yep. If it means taking her with me, then fuck yes, I would."

"Boomy. Come on, you know he's right. They're here for us." Harley sighs, stretching a hand to his forearm. "We gotta show them that they can't fuck with us. Don't we?"

There's a pause, before Harley smiles.

"And you know, it means we get to kill some people. I'm down for that, it could be fun." she adds. "And we could get more shit out of it. I'm getting another espresso machine. Maybe you can get something this time, too."

There's a second after, where Boomerang's gaze connects with Tatsu's and it's quiet. It's not like he's trying to read her, not really. He barely even looks at her, but it feels like it lasts much longer than it does. Boomerang tightens his jaw, then sighs and agrees, nodding his head a little. He's tired, she can see it seeping through. It makes her look at him, closer, and then it makes her wonder for a moment what he sees when he looks back at her.

"Alright. So, you got a plan, Bigshot?" Boomerang asks.

He seems calmer, somehow. Tatsu's not sure why, she doesn't let herself linger on it for too long. He just seems calmer, and suddenly interested in doing this the right way, and not starting fires, or killing guards, or killing Waller.

Floyd smiles. "You know that's not it. But, yes. I do, actually. We stick together, we go in, hard. We take them down that way, and we make sure they don't get back up."

At that, Cooper steps up. "That's stupid. You know you're not actually allowed to be armed. You shouldn't be, and you also shouldn't be making any plans about this when you're—"

"Katana, who is this fool?" Floyd turns to her.

It's like he knows the same thing she does, that if they're going to get real answers it will be from each other, and if they're going to get through this it will be together. Tatsu's about to speak, about to explain who Cooper is, when Boomerang speaks first.

"He's nobody. Doesn't matter. What's the plan, mate?"

"We can't wait for Flag." Harley adds in casually. "He's probably already dead anyway, so.."

"So, we're on our own. We have to stick together." Floyd glances between them. "We can do this. You know we can."

Boomerang isn't impressed by the idea and makes it clear right away.

"That's it? That's the plan? The big idea? That's all you got?"

It takes Floyd a second to answer. "I wasn't done—"

"So then maybe, speed it up a bit. Cut to the chase, mate."

Piece by piece, she's starting to feel that maybe they're not so deeply in this together. She sees that they're weary, and hurt, and they're in the mood for a fight. Harley wants to kill, Floyd wants to end this, and Boomerang just wants to have a little bit of trouble and a little bit of fun. It's a risky combination, and Tatsu realizes she's not so sure that they're up for this.

Floyd chews down on his lip, before speaking again. "I would, if you let me."

"Mate, I'm not stopping you. Spit it out already."

Tatsu's walking over to the corridor to the right, to check that it's clear, when she hears Harley's voice in the distance. She's not sure what pulls her over here. It's just a feeling, that something's there, or that something's coming. Tatsu waits, a hand loose around Soultaker.

"They're here for us. That means they'll go after Croc. He could be in trouble." Harley says. "What we should do is go find him. Then we can kill them all together."

Floyd speaks up next. "Harley, don't worry about Croc. Alright? Be worried about those idiots going in for him. They won't make it. Now, we need to find a way to shut this shit down and make it together. That's what we have to do."

"Listen, there's no guarantee that there are any of them left." Cooper adds in, like he's suddenly a part of this. "And you should know, most of the guards will be on this shit by now. We're trained for it. It's gonna be over long before you ever get your shit together."

"I'm sorry. Katana, who is this fool?" Floyd calls out.

She's too distracted (too tired, suddenly) to answer. It's not that she's tired, not really. Tatsu's side is sore, and her back aches, and she feels a fight coming. She feels a fight coming beyond this. It's more than this. She knows that whoever came here today had a plan. They had intentions, to take them, and if they failed and didn't get any of them, then there will likely be a second attack. Tatsu feels weary, in anticipation of what's coming, and she wonders how often since she met them that she's questioned if her life would be simpler without them.

The three criminals and the guard behind Tatsu are still arguing when she returns to them. They're back on the subject of what to do, and how to proceed, while unaware that Tatsu's worked out a plan of her own. She remembers her own words, to Cooper, only minutes earlier. Your job is to protect him. That is what you're supposed to do, she thinks about it over, again and again. It strikes something inside of her. Tatsu knows that she needs them, or that she thinks she does, but what she really needs to do is protect them and taking them with her doesn't guarantee their safety.

They need to live. She owes it to them, she owes it to Flag. She's here because of him, because he needed her to do her job. Tatsu's not sure when her job changed, from protecting Flag and Waller from the inmates, to now protecting the inmates from intruders, but she accepts it. She accepts it because this is their situation now, and there's no fighting it.

Boomerang's still bleeding. She notices it, on his back, and upper arm. It's on him in places she didn't see before, but she sees it now. There's blood on him that isn't his, just like there's blood on Harley that's not hers. She sees past it though, she sees the bruises on Harley from their attempt to take her. There's a scratch on Harley's neck that looks like it's from the needle. It's raw, and thin, and bright against her pale skin. Then there are Floyd's raw knuckles, and the way he's holding himself like he's bruised under the cover of his clothes.

She's hurt, too. Tatsu is covered in blood that isn't hers, like they all are. The only difference between them right now is that she knows she's up for this fight. Boomerang's tired, and angry, and that makes him compromised. She knows that Harley and Floyd could do it, but she finds herself unsure of where this will lead them. Tatsu decides then that she can't risk it, she can't risk them. It doesn't matter what she thinks of them, it only matters that she protects them, because it's her job.

Tatsu knows just how to do that. She returns to the conversation, where they're still arguing over what to do. For a second she watches them, and she thinks about her plan and if she will regret it. If she ends up regretting it, then Tatsu decides it will just be one more regret. It won't really matter if she gains another one, there are already so many she doubts she would feel its weight on her, or this is what she tells herself so she can do this.

"I know the way to go." Tatsu speaks up. "Back through there."

That part of the prison is wild with prisoners. It looks chaotic, and messy, and somehow it's the perfect place for the three of them to be. There's such a large crowd in there, they'll be lost in it, and then they won't be found. It's what needs to happen. She won't take their guns from them, even if she could, easily. Tatsu will only take their keys, leaving them with no way out, and no way to be found in the sea of prisoners, until this is all over and she comes for them again.

"You're serious?" Floyd does a double take. "There's a lot of crazy shit going on in there. You think that's the way to go?"

"Yes, I know what we can do." Tatsu answers. "Give me the keys?"

Harley doesn't even hesitate to hand over the keys.

"Alright, if you say so, hon."

There's a moment where she almost looks to Boomerang, but she doesn't. Tatsu turns away instead, over to the gate that's surprisingly not too crowded with prisoners on the other side. It's like the inmates are far too concerned, with fighting among themselves, to see what's going on around them. She finds the right key, slips it into the gate and opens it up. Harley's the first one through, followed closely by Boomerang. And then Cooper, who is strangely cooperative, and silent. It's like he's suddenly figured out that the only way through this is with her. Floyd's the last one to go through the gate.

Tatsu acts fast. She slides the gate shut quickly and locks it. Floyd doesn't miss it. He's fast to spin around, to realize what's happening. He grips the bars and looks down at her. His gaze is determined, and a little confused. He's not confused about why she's doing this, because he gets why. It's all over Floyd's face. It's smart to put them in here, with guns, and a big crowd of prisoners creating a really big mess and distraction. Whoever is after them won't come here, because it makes no sense for the three of them to be here, there's no logical way they could have got in there. She knows whoever came after them will underestimate them; they won't expect them to be armed, with keys, and a guard, or in the most dangerous spot in the prison right now.

That's why it makes sense for Tatsu to leave them here. It takes a moment for Harley and Boomerang to figure out what's going on, and they're both quick to join Floyd at the gate. There's barely enough room for the three of them. Harley presses herself against the gate, next to Floyd, and Boomerang's quick to appear behind her. He's so tall, he doesn't even have to stretch to see Tatsu. He's just there, watching her, eyes heavy, and confused.

"Oh, hon. No. Come back." Harley sighs. She stretches a hand through the gate. "What are you doing? Why are you leavin' us here?"

"Harley's right. What are you doing, Katana? You don't have to do this." Floyd calls out, gripping the bars with both hands. "You really don't have to do this. We can help you do this, you know we can. Right?"

She nods, agreeing. Tatsu knows they could help her, she also knows that she could get them killed doing this. It's on her, to keep them safe, and this is the only way she can do that right now.

"So let us help. Come on, come back." Floyd shouts. "We gotta take those assholes out together. Remember? Together. That's how we did it before."

It reminds her of the city. It's like the city, but it's different. She still dreams about it, she still sees the light. Chato Santana. A city, crumbling. Burning. She remembers her dreams, she remembers dreaming of them, together. (fighting together, dying together). It comes back in pieces. Buildings crash and burn. It's not like this, but they die in her dreams, and if they come with her then she feels that one of them will die here today.

She longs to know why it bothers her, but she can't find the words, or the reason. She's not sure she will ever be able to find the reasons why. Tatsu tries to push the thoughts from her head, but she struggles, especially with their voices ringing in her ears.

Boomerang's voice is the next one to reach her.

"Yeah, c'mon, Katana. Luv, come on. Tell us who to shoot at and we'll do it. We can help ya. We got this, just come back. Yeah?"

She remembers dreaming of Boomerang. She could close her eyes and see him just as he was in her dreams. She remembers crimson, running down his chest. A blade, sticking out of flesh. Her blade, her Soultalker. She slips a hand to it, feeling the coolness of it, as she steps away. She remembers bleeding, for him, with him. They were both bleeding in her dreams. She wants to keep it that way, as a dream, as something that will never be.

Harley's is the last voice Tatsu hears, before she turns away from them.

"Honey, I thought you said you had a plan."

"I do."

Chapter Text

It's a mess of color and blood, and Tatsu loses herself to it. She doesn't run from it, even though every part of her is screaming to run. It's telling her to go, to get out now and save herself before she can't go back. It's already too late, though. She can't leave, there's no going back, and she's never been good at saving herself anyway. It's always been about them, the ones she tasks herself to protect, and today is no different. It's about the three of them, it's about keeping them alive, so she stays. She stays, and she loses herself to the chaos that sweeps through Belle Reve.

She loses herself in it completely, and that's how it becomes a blur of everything. She kills them. Again, and again, and again. She kills them until it's over, and she uses Soultaker to do it. Tatsu cuts them to pieces, and tears them apart, and it never really feels like it's over, even when their bodies are lining the halls of the prison. It doesn't feel over because it's not, because she knows there are more coming. Tatsu feels drained. She moves on, to narrow corridors, and then to wide and dangerous spaces, filled with prisoners, and sometimes filled with the swat teams. It leads her deeper into the prison, until she can't go on.

Tatsu winds up behind the cover of a concrete wall, holding her sword tightly in one hand. She sees now that her hands are sticky, and coated with so much blood that it's almost all she sees when she looks down. Her skin feels the same, she feels it clinging to her body, but she can't look yet. There's gunfire rattling through the prison, and it's so loud, so close, that she knows it's coming for her. It isn't here yet, there's still time, only she knows it's running out. Tatsu knows another team is coming through. She also knows this area of the prison is closest to Waylon's cell, so if they're sweeping this area it means they've found him and they're done, or they're still looking. She doesn't know why that thought means something, she doesn't even know what it means. She just knows that it's something, and she hopes they haven't found him.

Maybe, she thinks, if she weren't bleeding then there would be time to think about what it all means. There isn't time. Tatsu sees it now, she sees the blood. She's always known it was there, she just forced herself to ignore it, to keep fighting. She can't do that now, she can't fight it anymore. Her gaze travels down as she pulls her jacket up—to look at the bullet graze, that's torn open the flesh along her her side, near her rib cage. It's all fleshy, and bleeding, and it needs stitches. It needs a bandage, or a wrap, and she doesn't have anything. She breathes through the surge of pain and leaves her jacket to fall over it again, to stick to the wound and cover it up. It barely covers it, and there's so much blood on her abdomen and lower half now, there's really no point in trying to cover anything up.

She takes another breath, shuts her eyes, and tries to draw on her strength. Tatsu draws on Maseo, or she tries to. How do I do this? she asks him, clutching Soultaker, tight. She hears that the gun fire is quiet now, and she knows that doesn't mean they've stopped, it means they're moving in. How? she asks the quiet, over again, hoping it will give her answers. She finds none. Tatsu knows she is alone here, she knows what it means, too. She knows she can end this, and she knows that to do that a sacrifice might need to be made.

Soon her breaths steady. She thinks about it, and she knows that if it ends here then she's ready for the end. They are not. This is not their end, and she does not want this to be hers, but she doesn't see another way. If she keeps going like this (bleeding, and alone) she knows where it will lead her, and it's a path she's prepared to take.

The intruders, clad in black and gear, make their way into Tatsu's area soon. They're unaware of her presence, for the moment least, but she knows they're aware that she's at the prison, fighting back. They have to know. It's why they're still clearing the prison, it's why they haven't left yet. They still want what they came for, and they want to make sure Tatsu doesn't stop them. It only takes one precise swing of her sword to kill two of them at once. She takes them from behind when they aren't looking. It alerts the rest of them, there are seven more here, but Tatsu isn't afraid. She's not one to run away, usually they run from her. She runs to them, letting out a cry as he sword connects with the third man's head and separates it from his body.

Their armor is thick, trickier to break through. Not impossible, just harder than the first kills of the day. She's lost count by now. Tatsu slips out of the way of gunfire, using the now decapitated guard as a shield. It works for a while. She manages to hold him there long enough to reach her fourth kill of the minute. There's a brief struggle, and in it he sends her back to the ground, knocking the mask from her face. It slips away and she leaves it to fall, using her sword to finish him. It's as she's pierces Soultaker into him and pulls it free half a moment later that the bullet clips her. It whips past her head, another graze, only this time its to the side of her head.

It's a different kind of hit. It—stuns her. It gets to her, because it's almost a head shot, and because it aches badly. It grazes her temple and at first it's too much. Tatsu falls back to the concrete, from the shock and the force. She falls and hits the ground, still gripping Soultaker. It never slips from her hold, even in those next, fleeting seconds where the man that should have been her fifth kill stands over her. He points his gun down at her, and as his finger slips around the trigger, he's suddenly pulled away from her and all Tatsu can hear is the distinctive sound of something cracking and then slumping against the concrete.

When she lifts her head, she sees Waylon. He runs at the last two, throwing his full weight down into them. He's got it covered, pretty well. Well enough that he doesn't need her, not at all. Tatsu leaves him to finish up, while she starts to pull herself up from the ground. Her head's aching now and everything is dizzy and loud. It feels like it's split open, and when she puts her hand to her temple she knows it's lucky it's only a graze. It's bleeding a lot, though. It's streaming down her face and into her vision. Tatsu wipes it away, only for more to fall. She leaves it and starts to blindly search for her mask. That's when a hand grabs hers.

It's Waylon. He grips her by the forearm and in one, swift tug, he pulls her to her feet. She notices that he's not hurt, or he doesn't seem to be. His uniform is stained and torn, and covered in blood, but for the most part he looks fine. Tatsu wipes at her vision, clearing the blood away again, while she grips Soultaker and looks back to Waylon.

"Here." he says.

Then a second later, he holds out her mask for her. Tatsu takes it, gripping it lightly in her hand. She doesn't put it back on, not right away. She holds it, and leaves the graze to her temple to bleed freely for the moment. There's nothing to stop it, nothing around her to use to slow the bleeding. Blood spills between her fingers when she places her hand there. It coats her skin, and runs down her wrist, and when she drops her head the blood still falls. It just trickles down her jaw now. She leaves it, focusing on her breathing, and then on Waylon when he returns.

She looks to the bodies left on the ground behind him, then she looks to him and finds him looking back at her. It's sort of in the same way she's looking for him. He's looking at her to see if she's hurt, only she knows that he already has that answer. It's there, for anyone to see. She knows she's hurt, and she knows there's no pretending otherwise. She doesn't like to pretend. She faces things, she doesn't run from them, and that's not what she's doing here. Tatsu's just trying to find a way to go on. She can't stop now. She's already given so much of herself, to this, and to them. She can't stop now, and let them lose the prison. She knows it could be over, that this group could be the last of them, only she knows that probably isn't how this is going to go.

It feels like it's not over. She's lost count of how many she's killed, but she knows that there haven't been that many. It means there could be more. She can't leave them to this, she can't run, even if she's still aware of what this all means. She knows what it means. She's given herself over to this, to them. She's put herself into this position for them, and now she's bleeding, and she's hurt, and it's not even over, but she still knows she's endured worse.

She will endure this. It won't end here, for any of them. She knows that after what she's survived, that a little prison brawl and a few grazes are nothing. She tells herself this quietly, until it's something that she believes. She believes it, because it's the truth, and it's something she always carries with her. It's just that it doesn't really seem like it matters, if she believes it or not. She's still hurt, and she's still tired, and her body still wants her to stop, even if the rest of her is determined to push on.

"Are you hurt?" Tatsu asks soon.

Waylon shakes his head. "You are."

"They're here for you." she says, stepping back. "Did they come for you?"

He doesn't seem bothered, not at all. Tatsu watches him, noticing the way it seems almost fun for him to be out of his cell and running around Belle Reve like this. She doesn't care if it's fun for him, she doesn't really care what it means as long as he's in on this with her. She knows without asking, without a word, that he is. Waylon is like them, in the way that he doesn't want to be here. None of them want to be here. It's just that he's accepted that he's here and that things are pretty good for him now. She knows he won't risk that, and he knows better than to believe there's a way out. He sees it the way she does, that they need to stop this, and Tatsu feels relieved to have him on her side.

"Mhm. They ain't getting me." Waylon answers. "They can try. But they can't get me."

Tatsu looks away, down to the bodies between them. She kneels beside one, pulls up the fabric of his shirt from under his gear, and rips a shred away. It's for the graze, not to her head, but to her side. She sheaths Soultaker for the moment, pulls her jacket up a little, and starts to wrap the graze, while Waylon does a quick check of the area and the open rooms around them. It's not a locked down part of the prison, and the rooms mostly look like storage rooms or break rooms.

When Waylon returns, Tatsu's ready.

"Are there more, where you came from?"

He nods a little. "Yeah, and they can keep comin'. We'll keep knocking them down."

It's then that she realizes what they need, and what will come next. She knows they need to work together, and it needs to be more than two of them. They need all of them. She knows that as hard as she tries, a part of her regrets leaving them there. She only regrets it because of where she finds herself now: in need of their help.

"We need them." Tatsu takes a few more steps away. "The others. We need them."

Waylon looks at her like he agrees, then joins her where she's standing.

"They comin'?"

Tatsu breathes in tightly and then wipes the blood from her vision again. It's still bleeding, but she doesn't know what to do, she doesn't know that there's time. She leaves it, with all of her other wounds, and she starts to walk back, in the direction of the area she left them in. She knows she needs them for this, that they all do, and that she should have trusted that from the start. Tatsu knows she doubted them, and then she was afraid, in a way, of losing them. She wanted to keep them alive, and she knows that she let that get in the way of letting them do this. They wanted in and she kept them out, and she knows if she could go back and do things differently then she probably would.

"I can get them."

For a second Waylon waits, then he nods, and gestures the other way, to where the rest of them must be coming from. She expects that Waylon will join her, that he will come with her to get them, and then they will fight this together, but Waylon doesn't move. He stays there, and she knows with a look what he's going to do.

"I'm gonna hold 'em off." Waylon says, a minute later. "I got this. You get them."

He's decided, she can tell, but there's still something about leaving him here alone that she doesn't like. Tatsu knows that he's skilled, he knows how to fight, how to survive. He's made it this far, and she knows he will be here when she gets back, it's just the thought of leaving him here if another team sweeps through that sort of means something to her.

"Waylon—" she starts.

"Go get 'em. Gonna need 'em."

There's a brief moment of quiet, and then it's broken by a voice. It's a different voice, and it comes from behind them.

"How 'bout me? You need me?"

Tatsu spins around to Flag, relieved. She thinks she could be more relieved, if things weren't like this. If she weren't bleeding, and this weren't happening, she might be more relieved. Still, she's glad to see him here. Flag is—fine. His gear is all bloody and stained, and there's a dark bruise forming on his jaw, but he seems fine. Flag's eyes scan over Tatsu, the same way she's searching him over, and when they meet again she finds his are filled with concern. She wonders if her concern is as obvious, but she knows it probably isn't.

"Shit, Katana. You're—"

Whatever it is, he doesn't say. Flag stops, half-way there. She guesses his next words were going to be hurt, bleeding, or wounded. It's all of them. She knows why he's looking at her like that, she knows it looks bad, too. She wants to tell him that it looks worse than it is, and she knows he might believe it, but she can't bring herself to say it. She's had worse, that much is true. Tatsu knows that it really isn't that bad, the grazes will need to be stitches, and she just needs to clean up and stitch anything else. She's fine, apart from that.

She's fine.

"Are you hurt?" Tatsu asks.

He sighs tightly, moving closer to her. "You're not fine. But you're here. I'm so glad you're here."

Flag seems like he wants to hug her, like he almost does. She's glad he doesn't. Not because she wouldn't welcome the embrace, because Tatsu's not sure how she would feel. It's more that she's just sore, she aches, and it's better to keep her distance. Flag settles on staying close, glancing from her, to Waylon, and then back to her. On his face she sees it all. She sees how tired Flag is and how, unlike Waylon, this isn't fun for him. This is so far from fun for Flag. He's weary, and stressed, and she knows he's lost people here today. He wears it all on his face, with everything else. It's something she recognizes. She wants to do something about that look, she wants to do something to stop him from losing anyone else.

She realizes then that part of her almost wants to hug him back. It's not just for herself, not really. It's to comfort him. She doesn't step closer, and she knows a hug really wouldn't reassure him right now, but the urge is still there. It's fleeting. It's replaced with a determination, to finish this, because it's stretched on for too long and she really just wants it to end now.

"Listen, they're here for—"

"I know." she tells the Colonel. "We know what they're here for."

"The others?" he asks, gaze set just on her now. "Did they get them?"

"I can get to them first. Do you know how many we're dealing with?"

"It was an ambush. They came outta nowhere. They're—everywhere. Most of my boys are dealing with prisoners." Flag says, stopping, to kneel down by the bodies on the ground. "Half of this place is opened up. It's gonna be a fucking mess, trying to get everyone back where they're supposed to be. We've got prisoners killing each other, trying to kill guards. It's such a mess. Goddamn, I don't even know where to start. I just know we need to shut this down now."

Tatsu watches him, while he searches the bodies, then pulls all of the weapons off them. Flag stands a minute later, holding them out to her. She takes them, leaving Soultaker sheathed. She takes a long look at where they are to remember, so she will know how to get back once she finds the others.

"You're gonna need them." Flag explains. "I'm guessing they're already armed somehow, but you'll need more. I don't think shit's done here yet. I don't like this, but I don't see any other choice."

She holds his gaze, while separating the pile of guns and strapping them over her shoulders.

"What of Waller?"

Flag tenses, and then it's gone, and he's standing much closer like there's something he needs her to understand. With just a look she knows. Tatsu isn't sure if it's because of how well she knows Flag, or because they've spent a lot of time together on missions and she thinks she can read him well. She just knows that he needs her to not think of Waller right now. He needs her. It's something she understands, so she decides she will leave it, as something for when this is over.

"We haven't exactly had time to chat. I locked down the prison. No one's getting in or out, not 'till this is over. We can't think about anything else. We can't think about Waller, or what happens after. We have to focus on this, and then after it's over we'll talk. Until then, we're gonna hold them off while you go get us back-up."

Tatsu gets it, and agrees, pushing herself to walk away.

"I'll come back." she tells them both.

Somehow, Flag manages some kind of tired, half-smile.

"I know. Now go get them. We'll be here."

She glances between the two of them left standing there, over the pile of bodies. Then she turns away, pushing herself to move on, back to where she left them not so long ago. It feels longer. It feels endless. Tatsu runs, because she knows soon they'll be out of time. She runs until she won't be able to, because she needs to get to them, and then they need to find Flag and Waylon again, and find a way to end this together like they always should have had.

Tatsu tries not to focus too hard on what she should have done, instead of what's been done. It's all that matters now. She runs faster, bleeding on the concrete, and on her hands, and she realizes she can't fight the voice in her head. If you're here for us, you're gonna get hurt like us. It echoes loudly in her mind, staying with her, while all else slips away for the moment.

It feels endless again, as she weaves through empty corridors, and follows paths into spaces she's already been through. She finds bodies littered everywhere. She doesn't remember killing all of them, but she doesn't know. Maybe she did, or maybe some are Flag's, or the others. She wants to believe they're still locked up where she left them, in that large, dangerous cage, with all of the other inmates, where she felt they would be safe because they were armed, and they know how to protect themselves. She wants to believe they're still in there, and not roaming around the prison, looking for trouble and fun, or worse—she hopes they're not caught.

She thinks of the needle, almost jammed into Boomerang's neck. She thinks about what this all means, and why someone would go to such extremes to catch them. It's not something she knows, and it's not something she's going to find answers to here, but she thinks of it anyway. Tatsu takes a second, to stop running, to breathe, and to rest. She stops against a long, dirty wall. There, she catches her breathing, and calms her thoughts. She doesn't stay there long before she's off, running again.

Tatsu thinks back to the city. It's not like the city, it's not like anything she's ever done before. She knows she'll dream of this, and that's how it's the same. She still dreams of the city, she still sees them. She sees the creatures, and the explosions, lighting up the sky. She knows this is so unlike that, and that they're only fighting against humans, and that it's no different to the ones she's killed before. It just feels different, in a way she's not really sure of. She is sure of something, though. She's sure that the risk is still the same, and that she's still carrying the feeling inside of her, the one telling her that if they come with her and they fight this then one of them will die. It's the same risk, but it's the only choice they have right now.

Flag's fighters are caught up fighting inmates and teams, and that means they're on their own. It means they need all of them. She needs Floyd's skills, Harley's desire to kill people, and Boomerang's rage. She needs it. They don't really need Cooper, but if he's still alive and Boomerang hasn't killed him then she decides that they could use him to fight with them. Together, they might stand a chance. If she can just get to them before anything goes wrong, then there might be a way to end this before it worsens.

She tries not to think of them too much, as she pushes her way to where she left them. Tatsu doesn't have it in herself to worry about the things she let herself worry about earlier. She can't think about what could go wrong if she brings them with her, and it's not just the risks that she can't think about. She can't think of how Boomerang's rage could spiral, or how Harley could use this as her chance to get out. She knows she can't trust them, but she also knows that now there's no other choice.

It doesn't take very long to get there, to get close to them. She expects it to take longer than it does, and she decides that's because it's felt like hours since she left. She knows it hasn't been, not really. It's just that all of that fighting, and killing, and all of the blood—it's getting to her. It's blurred everything together, so much that she's not even really sure how she makes it back to them. Tatsu's almost there when she comes across a stray group of prisoners. She doesn't know where they've come from, but their clothes are all tattered, and stained, and their hands are coated in blood. It doesn't look good, and she waits for them to start a fight but they don't.

One of the men holds up his hands. The others just sort of stay there, like they're afraid, or scared, and Tatsu knows it could be an act. She knows what it could mean, she knows what it could be, but she chooses not to believe that. She chooses to take another risk, one she will probably regret. She chooses not to act, on her past, her experience, and every piece of her that's telling her this isn't going to end well. It's telling her that they're going to cause trouble, because they're criminals, and all that blood on them isn't good.

But she's covered in blood, too. It takes a moment for that to sink in. She's covered in just as much blood, and she knows that it's different. She also knows that right now, she can't play judge, jury and executioner to the three of them. It's not her place, it's not the time, so she lets them leave.

"Go. That way." Tatsu points, to a set of doors far up ahead.

It will lead them to a storage room, where they can barricade themselves in if they're really not looking for trouble. She wonders if she'll regret this, then she wonders if they're looking for trouble, or if they already found it. A part of her thinks they could be running from trouble. She makes this their test. If they leave and barricade themselves inside, they're either running from trouble, or they're running from her.

A second later, they run. She leaves them, but she waits until they're inside and gone for a minute before she moves on. Tatsu pushes the thoughts of them from her mind, focusing on getting back to the ones she's out here for. It doesn't take long from here. Tatsu mostly remembers the way. She takes a wrong corridor, and ends up in a section she can't go through, even with keys, so she goes back and makes her way to them.

The gate's locked when Tatsu finally gets close to it. It's not that she expected it to be unlocked, but there's a part of her that almost considered it might be broken somehow, or blown off its hinges. It's completely intact when she gets there, and the first one she sees is Cooper. He's sitting on the ground by the gate, right by it, and he's staring out of it like he's waiting.

She doesn't know what he's waiting for, but when he sees her there he jumps to his feet.

Tatsu's so close, she can almost see what's on the other side of the bars. Then something hits her, hard, from behind, and she goes down. It hits her head, and sends her down to the concrete, and on the way down she looses a few of the guns. They fall away, bouncing to the ground and sliding away from her reach She knows without even looking what it is. She knows who it is. Tatsu tears the rest of the guns off her, leaving them on the floor, and when she looks up the three prisoners are there. Only two of them have guns. The rest of the weapons are scattered on the ground near Tatsu's feet, and even with two guns the inmates don't look like they're going to move closer yet.

"Hands up. Now." one of them orders.

It's the one who held his hands up, only minutes ago. Tatsu's fingers twitch, and in a second she's holding Soultaker. She runs at them, letting out a scream, as she cuts the three of them open in one move. She uses her sword to cut across their chests. Then she stops, and moves the sword back, precisely. It stops them. She stares at their bodies as they collapse on the ground, still.

There's blood back in her vision when it's over. She wipes it away, but the graze continues to bleed. She doesn't care anymore, she just really wants today to be over. She's used to this, she's used to killing, it's just something she wants to be done with here, and she wants it to be done soon. When Tatsu pulls herself together and then back to their reality, she's breathing heavy, and standing over the three of them. She doesn't collect the guns off them, she's sure the four of them can do that once they're free.

Tatsu sheaths Soultaker, retrieves the keys, and pauses. She stops, long enough to place her mask back over her face. It's only now that she really realizes how it feels without it. She puts it on, and takes a long, deep breath, before turning back to them.  That's when she sees Cooper's still there, and Floyd's there with him. He's got a new bruise on his left cheek, but apart from that he looks fine. She doesn't have time to think on it. She moves to the gate, quickly sliding the keys in.

"Flag needs you." Tatsu says; to Cooper, to all of them, to herself. "He is depending on you."

Once the gate is opened, Cooper is the first out. He rushes away, to pick up one of the many guns on the ground. Floyd lingers on the other side, and for half a second Tatsu looks behind him, to the chaos still going on. She doesn't care enough to look any longer. Tatsu steps out of the way, one hand moving to her side, the other staying locked tightly around the keys.

Floyd looks like he's got so many questions, and even though he knows there's no time for answers, he's still watching Tatsu like he's waiting for something. He looks over his shoulder, calling out something brief and quiet that Tatsu misses. Then he turns back to her, and quickly makes his way out of the cell.

"What the hell happened?" he asks a second later.

Tatsu moves back to rest against the wall, just for a moment. She leans against it, her shoulder pressing into the hard concrete. Floyd steps around her, making a point of examining her. He looks like he's going to say something, about this, or about her and her wounds, but at the last second he changes his mind. He stays there though, like he knows what's coming, and then Harley bounces out of the door.

"So, where are we going—" Harley starts.

She half-squeals, or something, when she gets a look at Tatsu.

"Oh, my god! Hon! You're—Look at you! You're all banged up. You need to come and have a seat with me—"

"Yeah, that's not what we're doing. Flag needs us to save his ass. Again." Floyd cuts in, swiftly moving Harley forward. "Katana's fine. She's tough. She's a big girl, okay? So why don't you pick a gun out, and then we'll move out?"

"Yeah, but look at her." Harley protests, turning back. "Just look at her, she's not fine."

Tatsu glances away from them, and over to the Captain's large figure, as he moves through the gate. He's the last to come through. He slides the gate shut once he's out, then looks over his shoulder, and that's when he sees her there. She pushes to move past him, to lock the gates, but he quickly reaches out and takes a hold of her forearm.

"Whoa, Katana. Darlin'. Take it easy, alright? Take it easy? Shit. What happened to ya?"

She tries to push his grip back, but Boomerang's strong. He doesn't let go. He holds on like he thinks she needs it, and maybe she does, but she can't. Tatsu turns away, ready to lock the gate. At the last moment, Boomerang takes the keys, hovering right over her, as he locks the gate up and then slides the keys away.

"C'mon, darl. Just take it easy." Boomerang says. "Don't gotta push yerself. I got this. I got it."

For half a second, his hand hovers over her shoulder. It's like he wants to do something (wants to touch her, or comfort her) but he stops himself at the last moment. He steps away, giving her space, and Tatsu is glad for it. She needs the space, to think, to breathe. She turns back to the four of them soon, finding that all except the Captain are armed now. Tatsu grips Soultaker, tilting her head up to look at them.

"I was wrong." she tells them.

Harley's the first to speak. "Don't even worry about that, hon. Okay? Just tell us what you need us to do. Tell us who you want us to kill. We got this."

"You said Flag needed us." Cooper steps forward. "Where is he?"

"I'll take you there." Tatsu says.

Cooper laughs a little. "Really? You?"

"Mate, I have had about enough of you by now. I've had more than enough, yeah?" Boomerang snaps back, pausing, to pick up two of the guns. "You say one more thing that I don't like—and who's to say this gun here doesn't go and fire itself at yer head?"

"Flag's in trouble, again?" Harley groans, cutting the tension. "Honestly, I don't know what he did before we came along."

"Waylon is with him."

Floyd steps up now, glancing over them, before eventually setting his gaze back on Tatsu. He nods, to let her know that he's ready, that they all are, and that they're in this together if that's what she wants. She trusts that, even if she tells herself she doesn't trust them. She trusts him, to get this done. There's a part of her that thinks she could trust him, but she doesn't have the time or the energy to think about that right now.

"Alright. Let's shut this shit down for good."

Boomerang pauses, glancing to Floyd. "Hey, jus' hang on—hang on a sec, yeah? Give us a sec."

It's something he barely considers. "You get one second. That's all you get."

"Yep, that's alright." he says, stepping back a little. "That's all we need. We'll catch up."

"C'mon." Floyd says, to the two beside him.

Harley follows willingly, but throws a curious look over her shoulder, before joining Floyd to just walk a few steps ahead. Then there's Cooper, who looks pretty annoyed to be taking orders from prisoners, but he says nothing and follows, and Tatsu wonders why that is but doesn't ask. She finds herself wanting to ask why to someone else. She wants to know why Boomerang's doing this, why he's asking for time with her, when there's somewhere that they need to be and there are people counting on them to be there.

"Listen, luv. I know yer not one to, you know, listen to other people. To criminals. Or to me." Boomerang stops, gaze heavy, and suddenly on her. "And I know you won't be makin' any exceptions now. Jus' hear me out, alright? I know you're coming with us, I know there's nothing that could stop ya. But if you can't do it, just say so. Say the word, yeah?"

"Why?"

"That's easy. You did this shit for us. It's time we paid it back. And don't go tellin' me there's no debt, 'cause that's bullshit. Just say the word, and we got you. How's that sound to you? That sound good?"

She nods, and pushes herself on. Or she tries to. Boomerang moves, blocking her path again.

"You gone quiet on me again, darl? Just when we were gettin' friendly."

"I am—"

Weary, she thinks to herself. Raw, and bloody, too.

"I get it, yeah? Maybe we were never gettin' friendly. An' maybe now isn't the time to be talking about it. But you and I both know, we went through something that night. All of us." Boomerang says, and then takes a small step closer. "And I meant what I said, way back. Said I trusted you, and I meant that. And I'm not asking you to trust me, 'cos I know you can't trust us. You won't. It's different, and that's alright. But hey, luv, trust that I got yer back on this. I wanna kill these fuckers, and I am gonna kill 'em, and keep them from hurtin' you. So if you can't trust us, trust that."

Tatsu's gaze is drawn to him now. She looks up and this time she really looks at him, and she sees now how marked his skin is with bruises and blood. There's no time to dwell on it, so she lets it go. She focuses on now instead, and on Boomerang's words. She knows that if she can't trust them, or anything about them, she can trust that they will end this. She remembers the way they kept Flag alive, because they had to, because it meant keeping themselves alive, and she decides it's just like that. They're going to keep her alive because their lives are tied to hers, and that's what it is. That's all it is.

She nods, letting him know that she understands, and that she trusts it. Boomerang seems relieved, but he says nothing. He stays close when they join the others, and fall into pace with them. Floyd leads the way, gun aimed high, with Harley close by his side, and Cooper trailing behind. Floyd only knows where he's going because of the trail that Tatsu left behind. It's a trail of bodies, of blood. He looks back to her for guidance, and she tells him where to go, while she follows his lead.

It all sort of happens in pieces. There's a moment where they're moving down an empty corridor, and then what feels like a second later, there's gun-fire rattling through the tiny space they're in. Tatsu's covered, well enough, by Boomerang, who hangs back with her. It's easy and fast for Harley and Floyd to take down whoever they're firing at. She doesn't see it until it's over and they're moving again, searching for Waylon and the Colonel. She doesn't know how long it takes before they find them. Flag is a little bloodier, she sees, when they get close. He seems fine apart from that. Waylon is fine, too. They're both still standing, still fighting, and she's not sure why it's such a relief but it is.

They move together after that. The seven of them move together, keeping each other protected, as they work together to clear Belle Reve. Or that's how it goes, until it ends. It always ends. She doesn't know how quickly it happens, but in a second they're surrounded by a circle of the intruders, geared up, with their guns aimed on them. Tatsu's gaze is only on them for a second, before Boomerang moves. His hand comes out quickly and he guides her back behind him, and it reminds her of how she stood in front of him against Cooper, only this is so different. It's all so different. She stops thinking about what it feels like, or what it reminds her of, and she focuses on what it is—and she knows what it is, it's a moment. It's a chance, and a risk, and it's something that she knows will define all of them, herself included.

It all happens so fast after, there's nothing Tatsu can do. She turns around, pressing her back against Boomerang, as Waylon and Harley stay close by her side, ready to fight. She doesn't do anything, before the ones with her (the prisoners and two guards, the team) fire back. It's chaotic and loud, and it's over so quickly that Tatsu doesn't realize someone on their team is down until a scream rattles through the tiny space after the gunfire stops.

Her first thought is that it's Boomerang, but it isn't. She spins around fast, and sees Cooper bleeding and writhing in pain on the ground. She sees the bullet's gone through his chest, and the fight isn't over. There are still some intruders left, fighting. Tatsu moves to Cooper's side quickly. She doesn't remember making the decision to go to him, she just remembers standing, and then kneeling next to him. Her hands press down on the gaping wound and there's blood spilling everywhere. It rises up over her, and her hands sink into it, covering her until all she can see is his blood on her skin.

"Tell—Katie. Tell her—"

Cooper stammers, lifting a hand. It's shaky, and bloody, and tight when it wraps around Tatsu's wrist.

"You gotta tell her. Tell her that I—"

Flag's there, when the gunfire dies again. Tatsu doesn't even realize it's over, with the way her ears are ringing.

"You're gonna tell her yourself. Alright?" Flag says, placing his hands over Tatsu's on the wound. "Just sit tight, and breathe. We're getting you out. Just stay with us."

In the next moments, Cooper is so different, so vulnerable, and she knows he's afraid. Flag presses down harder, glancing away briefly, then right back to him.

"Whatever you were gonna say, save it. You're gonna go home and tell them yourself, alright? Just stay with us and we'll get you home."

There's a moment after where Flag looks to Tatsu, and she realizes that he looks afraid that he's going to lose someone else. It's more than that and she sees it. He's afraid of how many he's lost so far, and he looks like he can't lose anyone else, not even Cooper.

And then Boomerang joins them, kneeling on the ground, and Tatsu waits for him to make it worse. She waits for him to say something idiotic, or inappropriate, but he doesn't. He glances over Cooper, eyes sticking to the blood spilling out of him, and there's something almost sympathetic to his gaze. She doesn't know that this is what she sees, but it's very similar. Then he turns to Flag, and he looks so wild, and bloody, and chaotic, that it really doesn't make sense to Tatsu what he says next.

She considers that maybe it's because she's exhausted, and maybe it's because he is, too.

"Infirmary isn't far. Jus' back there, right?" Boomerang asks. "He could make it."

"Yeah, but it's through—"

"We'll get him there."

Flag is quiet, at first. Speechless, maybe. "What? You're kidding? You're—"

"You gonna carry him? Well?" Boomerang's fast to answer. "Nah, didn't think so. Think the only one who can carry this asshole is me. So yeah, I'm gonna carry him."

For a moment Flag doesn't know what to think. Then he's cutting fabric away from his coat with a knife and wrapping the wounds to stop the bleeding until he gets there. Cooper's mostly quiet. He's not silent, he's just in so much pain that Tatsu decides he's not even hearing them right now. He's here, without even really being here, and she understands what that's like in her own way. She keeps the pressure on the wounds until they're all tightly wrapped, then she pulls hers hands free. They're sticky now, and damp, and there's no time to clean them yet.

"You're gonna get him there?" Flag asks, leaning back a little. "And what happens if they hit that place first?"

Boomerang holds his gaze. "Then we'll do what we can. You got any better ideas?"

Flag looks ill at the thought, but sighs, and looks between the two of them.

"Unfortunately, I don't."

"Said we were gonna take him, so we will." Boomerang says, slinging his gun over his shoulder. "You handle your shit, an' we'll handle ours."

"Fuck." Cooper cries, voice weak. "I'm gonna die. And I'm gonna die—"

"Hey, you're not dying. You're not dying." Flag says, staying by his side. "Nobody else is dying, alright? Trust me. Trust Katana. They're gonna get you there."

While Boomerang scoops up Cooper from the ground, with really no grace and little ease, Flag takes Tatsu aside. He places a hand to her arm lightly, then drops it, realizing they're both so sticky with blood. He takes a long look over her, and she knows that he sees it. He knows she's hurt, they all do, but it doesn't matter. They're all hurt, and this isn't over yet. She will focus on her wounds when it's over, as they all will.

"You up for this?" Flag asks.

She nods a little. "Are you?"

"I don't know." Flag grimaces. "I guess we'll see you on the other side."

Once Cooper is in Boomerang's arms, he turns to the rest of them, lingering for the briefest moment before they leave.

"Yeah, unless we die. Then I'm gonna see all you assholes in hell." Boomerang calls back. "Unless this is hell and we're all already here."

Chapter Text

Cooper lives. He gets to the Infirmary in time, thanks to Boomerang, and then in a twist of fate that Tatsu doesn't see coming they're ripped away from him and surrounded by prison guards sweeping through the area. It happens in a blur of chaos and anger. The two of them are screamed at and threatened, pushed to their knees, stripped of their weapons, and then pushed to the ground. Their faces are pushed harshly into the cold concrete, while Tatsu is held there by the weight of one guard and Boomerang is pressed to the concrete under the pressure of four guards, struggling to keep him there.

They stay there until the order comes to drag them away and throw them into one of the nearby cells. It's a small, empty cell, with stains of blood smeared over the inside of the door and the walls. The door slams shut behind them once they're pushed inside, like threats or stray prisoners. She is treated like this because they don't know how to treat her, so they throw her in the cell with Boomerang and leave them as they are—hurt, and weary, and mad.

From the cell door, Boomerang shouts out curses and threats while banging his raw fists against the closed door. He goes on and on, even as the guards slide the slot up over the door and walk away. He goes on until he can't, until he wears himself out and turns to face the little cell they're trapped in together. It feels smaller than his cell somehow. She doesn't know that it is, it just feels it. Tatsu is already sitting down when Boomerang turns around. She doesn't look up to him but she feels his presence there. She leaves him to his thoughts, to whatever he decides he will do next, and she stays where she's resting on the concrete slab that is large and feels cold against her warm, sore skin. It could be hours later before Boomerang walks over from the door. He's loud, even when he just takes a few steps over to her, and she wonders if it's because he's angry or if it's because she's always so aware of everything, even now. Her eyes close for a moment and she imagines his gaze will be heavy on her when she looks up, so for a while she keeps her eyes shut and she waits.

He is close now. She feels it, and half a second later she looks up and sees it. Tatsu opens her eyes, and through her mask and the dark, chaotic strands of hair hanging over her face, she sees him. Boomerang almost sits on the slab next to her, and then he doesn't. He ends up kneeling on the concrete floor right in front of her, and she guesses that it isn't very comfortable in his condition but he doesn't move, and she doesn't try to persuade him to. She isn't sure why he's keeping his distance, or why he's sitting here with her at all, but she leaves it as something unsaid and watches as his eyes flicker back up to her again.

There's a gash on his shoulder and another deep one his back, and she remembers both without looking at them. His back isn't shown to her right now, he's facing her so his bare, bruised chest is revealed to her, but she remembers his back first. She remembers it from earlier, and how it bled, trickling heavily down his skin. Tatsu sees it now, even with her eyes focused on his face. Her eyes shut once more, only for another moment, and she imagines the dark bruises littered across his skin. She thinks back to the cell, to the alarms ringing and the guard trying to jam the needle into his throat, and it makes her think of his wounds. She remembers Boomerang clutching his side and she knows he's injured there. He's hurt there, and even if his part in their fight for the prison was only short he is likely hurt worse now. Tatsu knows there is more to it, she knows that he needs help, but instead they are here and she feels lost. She doesn't like the way that feels. She doesn't like the way her own body aches, and she doesn't want to think about it now that they are helpless so she thinks about him instead.

He is a good enough distraction. Tatsu finds herself curious, despite all things, and when she looks at him again she finds him kneeling on the ground still. His gaze is on her, and it is heavy, and deep, and tired. Boomerang's eyes pull down to the graze she's hiding under her jacket, and he doesn't know what it is but he knows that she's hurt there. His eyes linger, then travel up over her slowly, before they return to her eyes and settle there. Then he reaches out a tentative hand, stretching to pull away the side of her jacket to look at the wound. Boomerang says nothing, he only moves closer—and Tatsu, she can't help her reflexes. She reacts by stretching forward and grabbing his wrist, hard. She holds it tight, and still, and keeps it away from her because her reflexes tell her to. He shouldn't be close, not this close, she tells herself. She is vulnerable, and tired, and he is too close.

It is more than that. Tatsu is exhausted, it is beyond exhaustion. She is weary, deep into her bones, and her soul, and she is vulnerable right now. She hates the way that feels because she's never vulnerable, but her wounds are making her this way and she can't fight it. She tells herself this is why she grabs a hold of his wrist and keeps him there, but she knows that it is more than that. Maybe it is because she doesn't know what his intentions are, or maybe it's because she knows exactly what they are. He only wants to help her, to show her that fleeting kindness she once showed him, and she knows this. She still can't let go of his hand.

For a moment there is only the quiet between them, and the soft sounds of their breaths. Tatsu's hold on his wrist stays tight, and the Captain doesn't seem too bothered. He stays there, kneeling on the concrete, right in front of her, and he's already so close. Somehow he feels closer, just by moving an inch forward, and she knows it's because he is so big, so tall, and there is such little space in the cell that it all feels smaller, and he feels closer than he's ever been.

Boomerang offers her a half-smile. His lip is split, and there's a bruise above his top lip, but he smiles anyway.

"Was just tryin' to help ya, luv. That's all. Wasn't doing anythin' else, swear it. Only wanted to help."

I know, she thinks, and wants to say but she can't find the words. She's always been able to get a read on him, and when he's weaker and hurt it only allows her to read him with more ease. It's clearer now, and it's there, and she sees that his intentions are only good ones. He wants to help, to show her kindness, and this is why she loosens her hold on his wrist. She doesn't let go yet, though. She doesn't know why she still holds on to his wrist, or why her grip is lighter now. Her eyes study him and she tells herself she doesn't know why, because for the moment it's easier to believe that than to think about what it means.

Tatsu takes this as a chance to look at him now. She looks at him closely, realizing that his wounds are almost as she remembers them. She sees dark blood sticking to his skin. It's dry, and clings to his face and chest. Then her eyes move down to his abdomen, and then to his hips, and she can't see his back but she imagines that it is the same there. She imagines he is covered in blood everywhere. He is used to pain, this she knows. She knows little else about him, but from what she's learned he is used to pain. He is used to it, but this doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt him. She knows that it does. It's there now, in a subtle, small way. He is hurt, as she is, and instead of trying to help himself or rile up the guards he's trying to help her, and this revelation is too difficult for Tatsu to accept or dwell on.

"You alright, darl? Don't look so good right now." Boomerang asks soon, minutes later. "Sorry those shitbags put you in here with me.. You need anything?"

She watches him still, and wants to ask him why he's apologizing. Then she sees it all over his face, and she knows he blames himself somehow. Tatsu wants to ask why he blames himself, when there is no connection between him and what happened here, only that they were after all of them. It's not his fault, and she sees that. She sees that the blame doesn't belong on him, so she doesn't know why he is placing it on himself. She wants to ask why but she doesn't, and she decides that it's better that way, even if it becomes another unspoken thing between them.

"Didn't mean that you don't look good, like hot or whatever 'cos you do." he adds, minutes after. "Just meant that you still look hot, but kinda shitty. Not shitty in a bad way. Just like yer hurt, and it's not real good." 

When she lets go of his hand, releasing her grip slowly, she expects him to pull his hand away. Tatsu expects him to take it as a chance to pull his hand free and far away from her. Then she expects that he might try again, to look at the wound she's hiding under her jacket, but he doesn't do this. He doesn't do either of the things she expects him to do, and that's when she remembers that if Boomerang is anything he is unpredictable. He is a mad, dangerous thief, who is volatile, and a drunk, but he is also unpredictable and sometimes it puzzles her, and this is what happens now.

It's more than unexpected. It's close, and warm, and intimate, when he reaches for her hand. He doesn't tug his hand away, he doesn't try to put distance between them, and doesn't seem even a little startled by the harsh, forceful way she gripped his wrist only seconds earlier. He flattens his palm against her skin, curling his hand around the column of her wrist. His grip is gentle, and new. She stares at his hand, at the way he's holding on to her, and there are many things that she tries not to think about in those next, brief seconds before she looks back to him. She tries not to think about how she's glad that he can't read her the way she reads him, and then she's glad for the mask to cover her face, to keep him out. After this, she tries not to think about what it all means. Her eyes stay stuck on his hand, and then she realizes that he doesn't care that her skin is coated in someone else's blood. It's all over her arms, running down her hand, around her wrist, and between her fingers. It's dry, but still sticky, and he doesn't care, not even a little.

"If ya need it, I can help. Like you did for me."

"You don't owe me—anything." she tells him, half a beat later. "There is no debt."

He smiles a little, holding on gently. "Yeah, there is. After all ya did, for all of us." Boomerang stops, running his tongue across his lower lip. "And for me. Shit, Katana, I can't even begin with what you did for me. But I know ya did a lot, and I know I gotta give ya something back."

"There is no debt."

Boomerang chews on his lip, contemplating all of it.

"Alright, if you say so. I'll take your word, but I just—I wanna show ya, what it means. What it all meant, to me. Feel like I never got to, and I wanna do that now."

There's a moment where he seems like there's more that he wants to say, and then he falls quiet, and Tatsu decides that it's for the best. She also decides that if she weren't so caught up on his words (and she is lost so deeply in them) then she might spend a little more time thinking about the smile that he soon shows to her. It's different. It's less sure, less confident like he often is. It's smaller, and it feels more real than any smile he's ever given her before. Then he sighs and it turns out he's decided, that there is more he wants to say to her and he's going to say it.

"I'm not just talking 'bout that night in the city, you know. I mean all those other times, an' how you fought for us. It was more than you ever had to do."

"I know."

He seems almost happy to hear her words, to hear her answer. Boomerang doesn't move, he doesn't let go of her wrist, even as he leans back to rest, still kneeling in front of her. His grip on her stays gentle, and warm, and it's so still that it's almost like he's afraid that if he moves then she will pull away. She wonders why it is like this, why he seems this way, or why he is holding on to her at all, but she never asks. She never asks because she knows that he will likely never answer, and it's also because she isn't sure that she wants that answer.

"So why'd ya do it, luv? Why us?" he asks. "Did all this shit for us, even though we never did shit for you. I gotta know, 'cos I think about it all the time. Why'd ya do it all?"

Tatsu almost tells him that it's simple: she is assigned to them, to keep them alive, and that is all it is. It is an assignment, a job. It is something she has tasked herself with, and it is only because of today's situation that she's been forced to go to these lengths to protect them. She says none of this, because she knows it is more than that. She knows that her visits to their cells, and those other visits to see him, are more than that. It's about keeping them alive, and making sure that their lives are a little easier. She knows they have not done much, if anything, for her. She also knows that there's a chance they saved her life that night in the city. She doesn't remember all of the moments, she only knows that they survived it together, and that they're tied to each other because of it.

It is the tether she feels to them, to him. She thinks it is the dreams, and the city, and now today. Tatsu's gaze feels heavy on him, and Boomerang endures it. His hold around her stays cautious, and light, and it's strange to see this side of him. It's not that she hasn't seen him differently, because she remembers his quieter, less violent moments. He doesn't treat her like he treats the guards, or even the others. He is different, and today he is softer, and kinder, and she still doesn't know why but it's something she thinks on for a while. She doesn't know if he cares about her, or if he really sees her as a friend or a means of escape, and when she thinks about what she sees him as it only complicates thing further.

There is no simple answer. It is her duty, and it is more than that, and she wants to tell him this but she can't find the words.

Boomerang's hand stays on her wrist, even when he moves forward again so he's kneeling right in front of her. He looks at her closer now, eyes lingering on her mask and the blood that seeps out from under it. She wonders what he is considering doing, because she sees it all over his face, she sees that there's something on his mind. Then he pulls his hand from her wrist and lifts it to her face, to her mask, and for those first seconds she thinks he is reaching out to remove her mask. She acts fast, it's a reflex again. Tatsu catches him by the wrist again, halting his movements, only it doesn't halt them. He is stronger, maybe, or it could be that she is vulnerable, and hurt, and without Soultaker she only feels weaker.

He lifts a hand up to her face, so slowly that it almost doesn't feel like he's moving it at all. Boomerang's eyes wander over her openly, and differently, and even as Tatsu's grip tightens on his wrist he still moves his hand closer. She says nothing, she can't. (why? she doesn't know, she only knows the words will not come). And then she feels his touch, as his hand meets her skin. Boomerang places his hand against her cheek, on the lower part of it. He doesn't place his whole hand there, actually. He sets his thumb against her cheek, against the blood that is sticky and fresh there. He places it over the blood stained on her skin, and over the scar that she knows he can't see under the layer of blood dried on her face. His thumb is soft, and barely there, and then his fingers curl down, stretching gently to rest against her throat and jaw, cupping her face.

His fingers tangle in her hair briefly. Then his hand settles there and stays, and so does Tatsu's. Hers is firm, and unsure, and growing tighter around his wrist. Boomerang doesn't flinch, doesn't pull away at all. He stays there, and his eyes are so close on her now that it feels too close. It's like he's trying to get a read on her, more than he ever has before, and she really doesn't know what to take from it all.

Tatsu knows that he is bigger, and that she is weak in this moment, but she could throw him against the wall in a second with little effort. She is smaller, but strong, as strong as he is, and she knows she could push him away. She doesn't. She almost wants to, because she doesn't know what this is, and it makes her—angry? She doesn't know, she only knows that she's feeling too much and she wants to shove him away. For a moment she leaves it, she leaves his hand there and she waits. For what? She doesn't know. She's been waiting for so long, for something, for nothing. For this? no, she decides, but she isn't sure.

She doesn't know what she is waiting for. She only knows that a minute later, Boomerang lowers his hand from her cheek, but he doesn't pull it away completely. He pulls it over to her hair, stretching to brush away a few strands stuck in the blood on her throat and neck. There's blood in her hair, she feels it, and she watches as his eyes move over it. He leaves it, and runs his fingers over the strands of her dark hair. She feels his fingers slipping through the pieces, and then his hand falls down to rest against her shoulder, as a gentle touch that is barely there.

When Boomerang lets out a sigh and keeps his hand there, pressed to her shoulder, she wonders why it makes even less sense now that his hand is away from her face, and is resting on her shoulder lightly, almost not there at all. She wonders why this means something too, and then she wonders about what it all means. Boomerang's face is heavier, yet somehow still soft, and as his eyes flicker over her face now there's a memory of a smile ghosting over his lips.

He is closer now, too close. Tatsu's eyes linger on him and then she breathes in, closing them sharply, and for the briefest moment she doesn't actually mind his touch. She doesn't know what it means, she just knows that it means something, and that for now she doesn't mind it. She knows it should feel different, it should feel like something she wants to push away, but she doesn't. Her eyes open and she finds herself watching him. He's watching her, too. It's different than any way he's ever looked at her before. She watches as he keeps his hand pressed there, before he moves it again.

His hand strays back to her jaw and rests there, and she wonders what will happen next. He drags his thumb across her bloody jaw, and then his hand slips down to the curve of her neck and it is so intimate, the way he touches her skin there, and how his hand falls down to the back of her neck. She doesn't want to over-think it, she doesn't want to be bothered by it, and she doesn't even want to dwell on it because she thinks she knows what it is. It is only a moment, and moments always end.

And then theirs does, and she's not sure why she feels like it ends too soon.

It feels like it ends before anything really gets a chance to begin. At the sound of the cell door opening up, Boomerang jumps to his feet and steps away from her. It's over, it's like it never happened, and maybe it's better this way. She doesn't dwell on it. She watches as Boomerang's gaze flickers to hers for half a second, and then he's gone. Lost, in his curiosity of what's happening at the door. It opens slowly and at first there's just a guard there, and then she steps away and shoves in a familiar face. Harley stumbles in first. She's covered in so much blood that Tatsu knows with a glance isn't her own blood. It's theirs. It's her victims, the ones she killed. Harley's uniform is so bloody that for a moment it almost looks more red than orange. There's a cut to Harley's temple that looks like it's from some kind of hit to her face and it's bleeding a little, but she looks mostly fine apart from that, and Tatsu tries not to feel it but the relief seeps in to see Harley survived.

Harley's eyes widen when she sees them and she squeals, throwing her arms around Boomerang's neck and hugging him tightly. His gaze connects with Tatsu's for the second that she watches them and then she looks away to the open door, to where Waylon walks in next. He looks the most composed of them all. He walks in casually, from the guard who lets him just walk in and isn't brave enough, or perhaps stupid enough, to push Waylon around. Then Floyd is shoved inside the cell with them and the door slams shut. Floyd's uniform is stained, and a little torn in one place, but it's fine. He's fine. It comforts her to see them here, all alive and not too badly injured.

When Tatsu looks back at them, she sees Boomerang whispering something low and quiet in Harley's ear. A second later, Harley looks to Tatsu and it looks like she really wants to come over and hug her. She doesn't. She casts a look at her, smiles, and then throws a slightly irritated look at Boomerang. It passes and she turns away from all of them, taking a moment to inspect the new cell they're in. Tatsu knows that Harley's interest won't last for long, and soon she will come over and join her, but for now she's glad for a little space from them.

Floyd joins her on the concrete slab a minute or two later. He settles against it with a sigh, and for a while he says nothing at all. She's thankful for that. Boomerang's interest soon follows Harley's, over to a pile of belongings in the corner of the cell that look like they've already been rummaged through. In the other corner of the cell, against the wall, Waylon watches on distantly.

For a while she watches them, taking in what she can, while she tries not to think about the feelings of relief that linger and grow inside of her. Why is she relieved? She doesn't know. She doesn't know what she feels right now, only that she is glad that they are here and alive, and not dead or causing trouble somewhere else in the prison.

Tatsu doesn't know much more than this right now. She takes another look at them soon, gaze wandering over their uniforms. She finds blood on all of them, and a few, dark bruises scattered over their skin. She knows she could ask them what happened, and why, but she doesn't. She lets herself piece it together instead. They are alive, she thinks, and they are here, and it's then that she decides that they wouldn't be here if Flag were dead. She finds more relief thinking that he is alive, and it calms a heavy, unsettled part of her. Her eyes shut again soon, meeting the darkness, while she tries not to worry too much about Flag.

And then Floyd speaks, and she feels that now is not the moment for rest or for peace.

"So you're not gonna ask, huh?" Floyd says. "About Flag, or those assholes? Or if we did it and shut this shit down?"

She sighs and opens her eyes, resting her gaze on the concrete. It's dirty, and there's blood stained across it, but she doesn't linger. She looks up to the ceiling instead, staring at the emptiness of it all for a while.

"Did you?" Tatsu asks, what feels like hours later.

"Well, what do you think?" Harley calls back over her shoulder, before she picks up a magazine from the pile. "Of course we did it. You remember who we are, right?"

Floyd glances to Tatsu slowly, but she doesn't look at him yet.

"Yeah, we did it. And we all made it." he tells her. "Don't know where Flag is right now, but he was alive when we last saw him. It turned—well, it was bad. But like Harley said, of course we did it."

There's something different to Floyd now, at the mention of Flag and things going bad. It's something she picks up on right away, despite the way she's feeling. She hears it in his voice, and she knows that he is worried about Flag, just as she is. He's worried, because he only knows Flag was alive when they last saw him. It worries her, too. Tatsu breathes inwards sharply, and tells herself that he survived this because Flag is a man with many skills. He's a skilled, strong fighter, and she knows he can survive this.

Her thoughts are on Flag, and also Floyd, when Boomerang speaks up from where he's carelessly searching through the pile of belongings that rest in the corner of the room.

"Of course those fucks did this same shit to you. Such bullshit, mate. Right?" Boomerang calls back. "After all we did for 'em, they just dump us in here. And for what? What's happening next? I'm telling you, we're not getting no fucking red carpet treatment and champagne like we should."

It's almost too much to think on. She finds herself thinking about the contrast between this Boomerang and the one with her only minutes ago. Then she begins to think about their frustrations with this, and she feels herself wanting to tap into her own anger and let it out. It isn't just that she's trapped here in a cell without her sword, and with these inmates, that's getting to her. It's more than that, and it's something she can't show because it's not something she's sure that she will be able to hold in.

It's heavy, and dark, the way she feels. It's something that is only growing with time, too. It is what they took from her, what was never theirs to take. It was never their place to take Soultaker from her, to take Maseo, just as it is not their place to put her in this hole with them as if she is one of them. Tatsu doesn't know why she thinks of it bitterly, because she knows she is with them. It's just that she's tired and without Soultaker, and it's all getting to her now.

She wonders why she felt it less when it was just the two of them. It's not something she thinks on for long, and instead she goes back to her earlier thoughts. She knows this is what she wanted, to be with them and to know they were alive, but this is not the way it should be. She wants Soultaker back, and she wants to go anywhere out of Belle Reve and just breathe in the air. She hates the way this feels now, and she hates more than that the way something gnawing inside of her tells her they won't be leaving any time soon.

"They're probably gonna kill us." Harley muses, now sitting cross-legged on the floor with the magazine in her hands. "That way, there won't be any witnesses to their massive fuck up."

It breaks Tatsu's silence, it does more than that. It chips away at her thoughts until she can only focus on Harley's words, and then on the tension she feels filling up the tiny space between them. Tatsu doesn't know if Harley is trying to cause trouble, or if she is just bored, running on adrenaline, and looking for someone to entertain her until whatever comes next happens. She does know that it isn't a good idea for Harley to cause trouble right now, or to try to play with them, because it won't end well. She's glad that for now at least, no one really seems to pay attention to her words.

Floyd lets out a loud sigh half a second later, leaning forward on the slab to rest his elbows on his knees. Tatsu looks to him and notices now that he looks weary, just as weary as she feels and as they all look, except for Waylon. He doesn't look weary at all, if anything he looks like he's bored and wants to go back outside and have some more fun.

"Harley, that's not helping—"

"But it's true. What do you think would happen, if anybody ever found out we helped?" Harley asks, looking up at Floyd. She raises her eyebrows and waits about three seconds for his answer, then speaks anyway. "They don't want us talking about what we did, or what we saw. You really think they'll thank us for what we did? No way. They're gonna kill us, and then blame it on what happened here. They're gonna make us casualties of their mess, and that's why we're here."

And once again it's too much to think about. That's why it's strange that she can't stop thinking about it, even if she doesn't see any truth to it. Tatsu doesn't really think about what Harley's saying, it's more that she starts to think about what's coming next. She begins to think about Waller's plan of action and how she's going to handle this, both publicly and privately. For all the things she doesn't know or doesn't agree with Harley about, she does agree that Waller won't be pleased about this and she isn't going to look for someone to thank. Waller is going to look for someone to blame, and it won't help that it's on them, in a way. It isn't their doing, it's not their fault that someone came after them, but it's tied to them and that's what Waller will see. Tatsu wants to think about how she's going to handle that, how she's going to protect them from that and from Waller, but her mind won't let her. Her body is too tired and won't let her think about it right now.

She looks up to Boomerang instead, and notices that he looks different now. He looks wilder, and more restless, and she can tell he's determined to get out of here now. It's so different to earlier, she thinks. It is almost like a cover, a mask, and she wonders why he wears one for them and a different one for her. He drops whatever he's holding in his hands and looks to them, mouth hanging slightly agape. He looks to them like he's wondering why they're not as concerned or outraged about this as he is.

Harley isn't bothered. She's back to reading her magazine, distracted by it until something else gets her attention. Then there's Waylon, who really doesn't look like he cares and still seems more bored than anything else. That leaves Floyd, who isn't at all convinced that this is what's happening. Somehow Floyd looks wearier, as Boomerang's paranoia appears and grows, blending into his rage.

"Hey, listen—alright, if these fucks think they're gonna kill me then they are bigger idiots than I ever thought they were." Boomerang says, glancing across the four of them. "I'm not going out like this. There is no way I am going out in this fucking shit-box. I mean, no offense to you guys. But I am not dying with ya. This isn't how I go out."

There's another sigh from Floyd, who leans away and back into the concrete wall.

"It's not where any of us want to be, but it's where we are." Floyd says. "We just have to accept it, okay? There's no point losing your shit over nothing."

"Losing my—what? No, mate. I am not losing my shit."

"You kinda are, man."

"I am just being realistic, alright?" Boomerang answers, fast. "I'm not dying here, and I'm not dying like this. That's all I know. So these fuckers can try, but they're gonna regret it."

It's not silent for long between them, but in it Tatsu dwells more on the Captain's words more than she likes. She wishes she didn't, but she can't stop it. She feels them seep into her, and her mind starts to focus on them, until they're one of the only thoughts hanging in her head. And then Harley speaks up, and she isn't sure if it's a welcomed distraction or not.

"You already know how you wanna die?" Harley asks curiously. "What, you got it planned out? Or something like that?"

Boomerang blinks, holding her gaze distantly. "Nah. Not like that. But I do know how I wanna go out." he says, and then pauses uncertainly. "What, you don't know? You never thought about it ever, even in here?"

It feels heavy, in a new kind of way. Tatsu tries to pull herself free of their conversation, closing her eyes and leaning back into the wall a little more. She moves her hand back to her side, pressing it there, hard, against the graze. It still aches, it hurts everywhere right now, and she's still faintly bleeding but the make-shift bandage around the graze to her side is enough for now. Still, she finds it harder to ignore the rage with each moment that she sits here thinking about how they've been thrown in here and left to bicker, bleed, and fight with each other.

"Harley, enough." Floyd starts.

He never gets the chance to stop her, to stop either of them, because Harley is determined. She sits up, gaze focused just on Boomerang.

"Just because you planned something, doesn't mean it's gonna go that way."

Floyd scoffs, and it turns into a small, effortless laugh.

"Oh, good. Good job, Harley. Why don't you freak him out a little more?"

"What, I'm just saying?" she shrugs carelessly. "What's wrong with just saying?"

"Why, though? Why?" Floyd counters. "Why do you have to say anything at all right now?"

There's another shrug from Harley, before she leans back into the wall and pouts a little.

"What? I'm bored. I can't help it."

Through it all, Boomerang stays focused. "I'm going back home to die." he announces, to himself, to all of them. "I got it all worked out. I'm not dying here, I'm going home to do that. I'm going home."

It lingers in the little space between the five of them, and nothing else is said until Harley pulls a face and leans back into the wall behind her. Tatsu dwells on it, and then on what it all means, and she can't stop herself from thinking about his home. Then she thinks of her own and she doesn't want to, so she looks back and uses them as her distraction.

"Really?" Harley pulls a face. "Why?"

"It's home." he says simply.

"Yeah, but it's so hot there. And can't like..everything kill you?"

Boomerang nods, smiling faintly as he leans against the wall. There's something sad about his smile.

"Yeah. But that's the beauty of it."

Less than a second later, Harley's smiling and up on her feet again suddenly. She takes a step over to Boomerang, and it reminds Tatsu of that night. She remembers Harley seeking her out, when she was looking for a brain to open up and play with. Tatsu knows where this will lead now, for both of them. She knows that Harley will push, and keep pushing, and then Boomerang will push back, and it will go on until one of them is bored, or one of them breaks.

"Okay, okay. I wanna know now. Boomy, now I have to know." Harley smiles. "Let's play. Why do you wanna go back there?"

"I told you already. Didn't I? It's home—"

"That's not why. I don't buy it. It's not about the beauty of it. I think it's for you. I think you have somebody there. Somebody you miss, or wanna die with. Or if you don't then there's a place there that you were happy." she pauses, pointing a finger into his chest. "And you've never been happy since. Not here, not before here. And now you're stuck here. So that's why you wanna go back. Because it's different there. You were happy, that one time. You wanna go out like that. And not here, where it's always miserable, and you hate everything."

Boomerang almost breaks. It's not that Tatsu is surprised, it's more that she expected Harley would be the first to give up, to get bored and move on. She watches Boomerang as his smile dissolves and he steps away from the wall, uncertain and a little angry.

"Darl, listen, I am not doing this shit with you right now. Alright?" he snaps, looking back at Harley. "All I'm gonna say back to that utter fucking bullshit is that I am going down in a blaze of fucking glory, or I am dying at home. And that is all it is. Yeah? It's just 'cos it's home. So you better stop now, before you can't go back."

Floyd is the next to jump to his feet. He senses the tension, and the possibility of someone snapping. He acts on it and separates them, scooping Harley's magazine up off the ground and thrusting it into her hands. He leads her over to the end of the concrete slab and she sits there, and then he walks back over to Boomerang, standing in the middle of everyone a minute later.

"Listen, okay? Just listen. No one is dying here today, okay? No one." Floyd glances between all of them, but mostly just the two of them. "Unless you both keep talking, then I'm gonna kill you myself. But if you shut up and stop being so irritating, then you're good. Got it?"

Harley smiles, from her corner of the cell. "Got it."

It doesn't last. Tatsu isn't sure it lasts more than a few minutes. Harley can't stop herself from talking, about what's in the magazine, and the fight, and then the four of them, until her focus shifts to the missing Colonel and Floyd is done. He tells her this, and it's quiet for a while, until Harley skips over to the door and starts to call out sweetly-voiced threats at the guards there. And then there's Boomerang and, while he isn't as loud as she is, he's not exactly quiet.

"Put that down." Floyd snaps, from the edge of the slab.

He's stressed. He's tired, and hurt, and he's done with them. Floyd's gaze is on Boomerang, and so is Tatsu's. The Captain is currently rifling through the pile of things, for the sixth or seventh time. She doesn't know why he's doing it, and she doesn't know how long he's been there. It's all blurred now. Tatsu swears the confines of these walls have never felt so small. It's crowded, and loud, and it feels like they've been here for days.

"But I just wanna look—"

"Nope. Down. Now."

Boomerang sighs, then grins widely. "Alright, mate. Fine. You got it, Boss." he says, still holding on to what looks like an iPOD. "See? It's down. I'm putting it down, yeah? See. It gone. All good, right?"

"You're still holding it."

The smile drops. "Well, why the fuck can't I? This asshole isn't coming back to get his shit. So why can't I have it?"

Floyd doesn't move, and for a long time he doesn't speak. He gets up to stretch a few minutes later, and then he throws another, longer look in Boomerang's direction, and Tatsu is left observing both of them. She knows that they're tired, that they're all breaking from being in here. All of them, except Waylon. He still doesn't care. She wishes she didn't care. Tatsu knows it's only time until they all get worse, and she doesn't want it to reach that. She doesn't know what's happening in the prison right now, and she needs to know. It's not just about them.

She doesn't admit it, not to them, and not really to herself—but she's slowly cracking under it all, too. She needs to get out. She needs Soultaker. She needs air. It's more than that. Tatsu curls the hand that isn't pressed to her wound tighter, into a fist, until her knuckles pale and some of the rage slips away.

Then she releases it and looks back up, to Boomerang and Floyd. They're still bickering and it's worse now. They both look pissed off, over nothing at all, and she knows they're both going to snap soon.

"Yeah, see. That's exactly what I thought." Boomerang throws him a look. "You know I'm right. The bastard's probably dead somewhere, 'ey?"

"You don't know that. You don't know shit, okay? So put it down."

"Well, why'd they put us in some random's cell if he was coming back? Hmm?" he pushes, stepping closer. "Doesn't take a genius to figure that one out, does it?"

Floyd tries to take the iPOD, but Boomerang pulls it back.

"Dude, come on. You know they're never gonna let you keep it when they come get us. She hates you, man. Waller hates you. They are never gonna let you keep it, so just leave it." Floyd sighs, stepping away. "Seriously, you've been through that pile of shit like ten times. What are you looking for?"

"Don't know." Boomerang shrugs. "Maybe some duct tape. To shut you the f—"

"You didn't just say that."

"Didn't I?"

With a loud sigh, Floyd returns to the slab. He sits down next to Tatsu, sighs, and leans back into the wall.

"Shit, man. Have you always been so annoying?" Floyd asks, a minute later. "Or is this what these cells do to you?"

It is only to be expected, she thinks, the way the words make her think of Boomerang. She thinks of her visits to Boomerang's cell, and she remembers it all. Raw, bloody knuckles. A body covered in scattered, deep bruises. Boomerang yelling at the guards, at her. She remembers how he punched the walls, and how he lost it with the drugs they had him on, and the beatings, and she wants to say something. Tatsu wants to say something now, but not to them or to Floyd. She finds that there's a part of her that wants to take Boomerang aside and say something but she can't, so she doesn't.

"Why don't you just ask Katana?" Harley calls back from the door. "She got to visit Boomy a couple of times, after all."

Tatsu says nothing, and she hopes with the way her hair is hanging over her face that it will look like she's sleeping. She waits, and at first Floyd says nothing, and then he pushes back and Tatsu finds herself hoping that this will end soon for all of them.

"That means yes. Just so you know, it means you're annoying." Floyd says. It sounds like he's smiling. "She thinks you're annoying. We all do. So put that shit down, stop pissing us off, and give it a rest."

"Why? I'm bored. And I'm tired of this shit." Boomerang groans, half a second later. "And if I don't do this, then I'm gonna start doing shit you're gonna like even less. Can't have it both ways."

"Really? Like what?" Floyd's voice is lighter. "You're gonna piss me off? Well you already did that. Gold-star for you."

"What I'm gonna do is join Craziness over there by the door and start screaming the fuck out of it. And then we're gonna be in some real, deep shit. So, what do you want? Do ya want that? Or do ya want to back off and let me do whatever the fuck I feel like doing? Yeah. That's what I thought, mate. That's what I thought."

She feels that she is slipping now, more than them, more than earlier. Tatsu shuts her eyes again, and she hopes that when she wakes they will be out of here and she will be far from the prison. She needs time away from this place, time to herself, and she knows that if she doesn't get it soon then she will break, and the anger that she feels thinking of what they took from her will come out. She is too tired to feel that full rage, thinking about how they took Soultaker from her, and then dropped her into a cell after she helped to save the prison. She is too tired, but she knows she can draw on it if she needs to. She hopes that she doesn't, for their sake and for her own.

"I just know that if you don't stop pissing me off, then you're gonna be in some real, deep shit. Okay, Aussie? You know, I get that you're—"

"Guys. Someone's coming." Harley calls from the door, then starts to bang on it. "Hey! Hey, assholes. We're in here. And we don't deserve to be. So you better be coming here to thank us."

Floyd is by the door in half a second. He isn't there for long before the slot on the door is opened. A guard dressed in heavy, black gear opens it up, peers in, then leaves. He leaves the slot open, so it allows Floyd to get close and to look through it, even if it's a limited, small view. He steps away, pulling Harley back with him.

"Yeah. I don't think they're here to thank us." Floyd sighs, an arm curled around Harley's forearm to stop her moving forward again. "There are a lot of dudes out there. And they're all in gear. So I don't think that's how this is gonna go."

"I told you, they're gonna kill us!" Harley says, staying by his side. "Well I don't wanna die in Boomy's home, but I'm not dying here. So that means we have to do something."

"Oh yeah, 'cos us with our fists we're gonna be able to take them on with their guns and all that other shit."

Tatsu breathes in sharply. She takes a long, deep breath, then pushes herself to the edge of the slab. She pulls her hand from her side, stands up slowly, and reaches for the blade concealed on her. It's only small, something she keeps with her to use if Soultaker is ever out of her reach. It's a thin, long blade, but it's small compared to her sword. It's enough. She pulls it out and raises it, waiting as the door begins to unlock.

Boomerang's mouth hangs open when his eyes settle on the blade.

"What the fuck? You had that, the whole time?" he stammers, voice heavy, and loud. "And ya never thought we could use it, to get out. Or something—"

"Now really isn't the time." Floyd cuts in, from a few steps behind Tatsu. "You wanna do that? Or you wanna help us with this?"

Boomerang considers it, then his gaze flickers to Tatsu. He then looks to Floyd and nods slowly, telling them he's in this with them, and that they're in this together.

"Get behind me." she tells him.

He obliges. Boomerang joins the three of them, standing behind her. He is the closest. She focuses on what is ahead and not behind. Tatsu's gaze stays on the door, and in the quiet they stand there and wait with her until the door is opened. Floyd is right, this is Tatsu's first thought. Her gaze moves to the open space outside of the door and she sees that there are many guards out there. She decides that there are too many, and even though Tatsu doesn't think that they're hostile, she still decides that if it turns into a fight then they will need to rely on each other more than they ever have before.

"So, together?" Floyd asks.

Tatsu thinks of them. She thinks of Midway city, and of Flag, and then of Manhattan. It blurs, and she catches fragments. She remembers Flag's voice. Of all voices to hear now, it is his that comes back. They don't care about anyone else, she remembers him saying once, not so long ago. The only reason they give a shit about you, or about me, is because they know if we die then they die.

It feels different. It is. Behind her they push closer, to be near each other, to be near her. She doesn't know what she is to them, but she knows what they are to her, and what they are together like this. She knows separately they are weaker right now, and even when they're not weak they have their own issues, their own griefs and struggles they carry on their own. But together? They are more than that. They are something else and she feels it now, and it leaves her with the belief that all of this has been worth it, even with the way things are now.

That's all it is to them, Flag's voice echoes as a memory, faraway and distant in her head, all we are is a way for them to keep living a little longer. It is more than that. She feels it now, and now that it's with her she knows it will never leave her.

"Together."

Chapter Text

The chaos ends when Flag comes back to them. For so long nothing happens, and she thinks there will be another fight. Then the guards outside of their cell move to the side and Flag appears, and Tatsu knows right away that they will be safe now and that nothing will happen to them. Her first thought is about how they are all safe now that he's here, and then her next thought is about how different Flag looks to the last time she saw him. He looks different in a way that's clear to all of them. Tatsu sees it when Flag steps into the cell, she sees that he is hurt in a more obvious way than they are.

Her eyes wander over him quickly as she takes in the dark bruises scattered along his jaw and neck, to the gash on his forehead that looks like it's still bleeding faintly. Then her gaze slips down to the tight bandage wrapped around his forearm, that tells her he was hurt there and it needed immediate care. Flag looks fine despite all of this, but it's something she sees through. She notices the way he holds himself, how he walks into the room with a little less weight on one leg, and she knows he's worse than he's trying to let on. He's trying to keep it from them, he's trying to protect them.

Flag walks into the cell slowly, almost casually, like they're not all crammed into a prison cell together because a random group of intruders tried to kill them. He glances across the four of them soon as he joins them in the cell, watching the way they stay huddled together for one more moment. Tatsu is the first to step away from them. She lowers her blade, sheathes it again, and relaxes her stance.

Once Flag is inside the cell with them, he glances at Tatsu and lets his attention linger on her for a little longer than he allows it to rest on anyone else. He quickly looks back to the rest of them, watching them like he's still waiting for something from them. She doesn't know what it is, and she doesn't think he really knows either. He's just here with them, and he looks like he can't believe they all made it here too.

"Well, shit. Errand boy made it after all." Floyd sighs. "Wait, don't tell me—I got this one: Waller sent you to kill us."

She doesn't know why it makes Flag smile but it does. Then he even laughs a little, and it's strange to see him smile with the way his face is stained with blood and fresh bruises. He looks so weary too, but he laughs anyway. Tatsu watches Flag as he leans back against the wall, folding his arms over his chest in that way he always does. It's casual, it's normal, and it's still strange. He's tired and she can see it. She feels the same way. She feels worse now that they've been stuck in this cell together for what feels like days. She pushes past those thoughts, focusing on the relief she feels to see Flag here with them.

Tatsu feels relieved that they are all here. It's just with Flag it's a little different, there's more of a history there. She feels like she could hug him, and she almost does. If things were different then she might hug him, but things aren't different so she doesn't move towards him. She doesn't move at all. Tatsu stays there in the quiet of the cell, observing him as he observes the four of them. She stays there and tries not to feel the weariness that seeps in, because she knows once she feels it she will give in and rest and there isn't time to rest yet.

"Yeah, sure. Totally, Deadshot. That's obviously why I'm here." Flag answers, words casual but still a little strained. "That's obviously the only reason I could be here. I mean, what other possible reason could I have to be here right now if not to kill you?"

"I knew it, yeah. I did. And you know what? You can try, man." Floyd says, pausing to take one step forward. "But our girl Katana would cut you in half before you could blink."

It feels a little lighter, at least between the two of them, because of their small attempts at banter. She knows they're just trying to make things a little less tense, and Tatsu doesn't know if it works for anyone else but it feels like it works for the two of them. Then Flag's gaze jumps back over to Tatsu and he tries to read her in that way of his that isn't subtle at all. He tries to take it in, to figure out what's going on with her, but he can't so he settles on just assessing her from afar. She knows that's what he's doing, from the way his eyes move over the marks on her skin, to the patches of blood left on her from the battle.

Flag lingers on the dried blood pooled under her jacket, on the wound she's apparently not concealing well at all. He looks away after a while, smiling faintly at her, at the four of them, and if he's concerned about her then he doesn't say a word around the rest of them and for that she's glad.

It's the same way she knows he's glad she doesn't say anything, that none of them do, about his wounds and about how tired he looks. It's all over his face, and it's not just the pain or the weariness she catches there. It's so much more than that. Tatsu sees the loss and the anger, and about a million other things in those next seconds when Flag looks back to her, half-smile still hanging on his face. He's worried, she sees that now. She focuses on reading that. He's worried about her, and then she sees that he's even a little worried about them.

He will never admit it and she will never ask him to, but she knows he cares about them. Flag cares about the three of them in his own way. He doesn't want them to die or to be hurt badly. She understands it, she feels it too. Tatsu isn't sure that Flag feels the same tether, the same pull to them, that she does, but she knows it's something and that's why he's here with them now trying to make jokes. He's hurting, he's lost a lot of people today, and there's a lot of work to be done at the prison after today—but he's here with them instead of dealing with that, he's here trying to see what he can do for them and how he can help them, and that means more than he could ever say. She thinks it means more than they will probably every understand.

"You sure about that?" Flag smiles back slowly. "Because the thing is, me and Katana go back. We go way, way back."

It reminds her of their past, their history of fighting and surviving together. Then it reminds her of the relief she feels to see him standing with them, and it's more than she can ever say. It's more than she's prepared to say in front of the rest of them, but she decides maybe she will wait for a moment alone with Flag to let him know what it means.

Soon Floyd scoffs, stepping even closer. "Oh, really?"

"Yeah, that's right. Way back." Flag says, nodding. "It's too bad I'm not here to get Katana to cut any of you in half."

There's a second where no one says anything, and instead of thinking about why Flag's here and what it all means—Tatsu gets caught up in how silent it is for those few moments. She knows she only gets caught up in it because of how loud they've been, and how they've been bickering and fighting over nothing at all for almost the whole time they've been trapped in this cell together. For a few moments it is so quiet, so still, that she almost imagines they are all somewhere else. It doesn't last, it never does, but she's glad for it while it does.

She imagines they are somewhere calm and beautiful.

"Then what are ya here for, mate?" Boomerang calls back. "Just a heads up to ya, but none of us are lookin' for a chat."

"I'm here to get you somewhere safe, since you're all children." Flag explains. "And apparently I'm the lucky one who gets to clean up your mess."

Tatsu watches on, as she feels Boomerang tense up behind her. He takes a step closer, a half step maybe. She doesn't see it, she just feels it, she feels that he's suddenly closer. She wishes she weren't so aware of him or of his presence behind her, but lately she always seems to be aware of all the little things when it comes to him.

"Thanks, Dad. But I'm pretty sure we cleaned up those fuckers mess for you, aye?"

This time it's not quiet for long. Maybe it's silent for two seconds before Flag and Floyd speak at the same time, and they talk so loudly that they speak right over each other.

"Don't call him that." Floyd says first.

Seconds later, Flag speaks up. "Don't call me that."

"Alright, fellas. No need to get testy. All I'm sayin' is that we cleaned that shit up."

It's tense for a second, and then Flag smiles again and mostly looks amused. He seems to take a moment to think about it, while tiredly rubbing a hand along his jaw where the skin is bruised and cut a little. Then his hand falls away and she sees that Flag's knuckles are deeply split in a few places. It leaves her thinking about how it happened but she lets it go, leaving it as a thought for another time.

"What I was going to say is that, before you all go getting excited, and stupid, and planning your escapes that I guarantee you will never happen—let me just explain this to you in a way that you all might understand. There are orders. They are Waller's orders." Flag tells them, with a voice that is both soft and tense. "You are going to follow these orders or you're going to get your ass kicked, and then you'll have to follow them anyway. And you don't have to believe me when I say that it's not my call or that I won't be able to protect you this time, but it's the truth so you better listen."

That's all it takes for Boomerang to step closer, right next to Tatsu now. He looks like he's going to snap at the mention of Waller and she knows why. Tatsu wants to tell herself that she doesn't know how things go from being almost calm to being this tense in just a few seconds, but she knows why. It's the mention of Waller, it's what she did to him, and it's all that she can still do to him. Boomerang tries to hide it, he tries to keep it to himself, but he's not good at it. He can't hide it so he stops trying.

"Waller sent you? Huh. Alright, well.. Why don't I make this shit crystal fuckin' clear for you, mate? Fuck her. Fuck all of you." Boomerang takes another step closer, breaths a little heavier now. "I don't want to hear another fuckin' word about this, or about her. Or about any of this shit. She can go fuck herself. Same goes for her orders. I want fuck all to do with that shit, alright?"

It's not the time for this right now, this is almost all she knows with certainty. She understands Boomerang's pain and his anger, but now isn't the time for his rage, or for an argument between him and Flag. It's not about Waller right now, it's about getting them somewhere safe where they can recover from this. Tatsu wants to turn to Boomerang and tell him this, she wants to show him that today isn't the day to fight about it, but she doesn't.

Floyd steps up to do something about it before she even makes up her mind on what she will do, and she's glad that he does. She's glad that it's him, because even though the two of them may bicker she knows that Boomerang listens to Floyd. This time when Floyd moves over to his side, he doesn't try to push Boomerang away or argue with him. He just puts a hand on Boomerang's shoulder and pulls him back a few feet away from Flag, and away from an argument that none of them really want to have right now, not even the Boomerang.

She understands why it's hard for Boomerang, why it gets to him the most out of all of them. For the three of them life has been hard here. For Boomerang it's been much harder. Tatsu only knows pieces of what's happened to him and why it happened. She remembers beatings and bloody knuckles, and then she remembers bruises all over his back. She knows that it's been hard on him but she doesn't know it all, only he does, and she accepts it. She doesn't need to know it all to know that he deserves better. It's why she thinks he's allowed to feel whatever he wants, about this and about Waller, after what he's endured. It's just that letting that anger out now at Flag or at them isn't going to help anyone, and that's why she's glad that Floyd guides him away for a moment to calm down.

Tatsu doesn't look back when Boomerang ends up in the corner of the cell. She wants to but she doesn't, and she knows why she doesn't look back. He's in pain. Boomerang is hurt and angry, and he's in a lot of pain right now. He's in just as much pain as the rest of them are and it's getting to him, and she knows that if she looks back and sees it then she will want to show him what he tried to show her before. She will want to show him softness or maybe some compassion, and now isn't the time for that. It's why she doesn't look back. She looks to Flag instead, who is focused on the rest of them while he gives Boomerang some time to get over his rage.

"On Amanda Waller's orders, you will be immediately removed from Belle Reve and relocated to a secure location for a very brief amount of time." Flag announces, glancing between them. "This is only a temporary arrangement, while we clean this mess up, secure the prison, account for all guards and inmates, and figure out what the hell happened today. Now are you sure you don't want to hear more? Should I stop, or do you want me to keep going?"

It takes Harley less than one second to rush over to Flag's side.

"Wait, so what are you saying? Are you saying we're getting out?"

Tatsu's first thought is about how she doesn't know what this means, for her and for them. She doesn't know if she's going with them, or if she's free to go off on her own. It leaves her with a choice, and it's one she isn't sure about right now. She wants to go with them, to protect them and keep them alive, and at the same time she feels like she needs time for herself. Tatsu knows she needs time to heal, to pull herself together, and then she will come back to them. She decides that she will speak to Flag before she makes any decisions about what comes next, and what she needs to do for herself now that this is over.

"Not out of custody, no. You won't be far from Belle Reve, and you'll be under constant surveillance." Flag continues, after a moment. "In a few minutes, you're gonna hear some choppers going over the prison. Those are gonna take you to a secure location. And no, you're not going together. Because we know what you're like when you're together. We're splitting you up and from there you'll be under constant guard."

Harley glances between them, smiling happily and brightly.

"So, what? We're getting out?"

Flag sighs again, rubbing at the side of his face. "No, you're not—you're not listening to me. So all of you, listen up. Before you start thinking about how you're gonna use this to escape, remember that you still have your nanites. Yeah, remember those? The little things in your neck that blow up if somebody hits a button? Yeah, those old things. I'm warning you before you try to do anything stupid that you still have those in, okay? I'm trying to make sure your asses stay alive, and to do that you need to listen to what I'm saying right now."

"Awww, guys. Look he totally cares about us." Harley smiles wider. "You know, if I didn't hate you as much as I do sometimes—and just so you know, this is making me hate you just a little less—then I would totally kiss you right now."

"Well don't. Don't do that." Flag says, and almost looks amused. He hides it well. "Or you can stay right here. You want that? You want to be left behind?"

There's a sigh from Harley, before she joins them again. "Okay, whatever. As long as I'm with Katana, I don't care where we go. The boys can all go together, I wanna go with—"

"Nope, not up to you. Now go outside and follow the guards." Flag cuts over her, voice firm again. "They're gonna take you to get the shit you need. Just don't try anything. Don't be stupid. Don't listen to the voices in your head. Don't get in the way. Try not to die. Got it?"

He loses Harley's interest after this. Tatsu watches as Harley is the first to leave the cell. She wants to get out of here, to be somewhere else, and Tatsu doesn't blame her for wanting to get away. She wants the same thing right now. Harley leaves the cell cautiously, waving good-bye to them before she steps outside and waits near the entrance for Waylon to join her.

Waylon nods at Flag slightly then leaves, disappearing somewhere to the right with Harley. For the briefest moment, Tatsu feels like she wants to follow them. She almost wants to go with them and find somewhere with open space and a nice breeze. She wants to go and breathe in the cold air somewhere outside of the prison, anywhere outside of this cell, but she catches a look from Flag that tells her she's needed here. He needs her, there's something he wants to talk to her about, so she waits and watches as Floyd walks a little closer to where Flag is leaning against the door.

"So you're—that's your pep talk, huh?" Floyd speaks up again. "You're really trying to work on those, aren't you?"

Flag smiles. "Yep. That's it. Get your shit and go."

"That's real nice. What can I say, guys? He's got a way with words, doesn't he?" Floyd glances between the two of them, then right back to Flag. "You should write poems. Wait, let me take that back. I have a better idea for you: You should write cards."

"I don't have time to write cards, Deadshot. Not when I'm always so busy saving your asses."

It makes her think back to their talk outside of Floyd's cell. She knows from a look at Flag that he's thinking about the same thing. Then it passes and his gaze stays on Floyd, who steps away like he's going to leave but he comes back at the very last second.

"You know what? You're welcome, by the way." Floyd tells him. "For saving your ass. And everyone else's. You're all welcome."

Flag holds his gaze. "You wanna do this now? Great. You're welcome, too."

There's a moment where it's quiet, and then Floyd laughs. "Yeah? For what, man? What'd you do, except get all pissy and shit 'cause you have to do your job?"

"The orders came from Waller to move you. But do you know where she wanted to put you, Deadshot? She wanted to dump you in a crammed, dark little hole somewhere nice and cold." Flag takes a step away from the wall, arms still folded across his chest. "Her idea was to relocate you there. But the idea to put you in a location with a bed, food, water, and a nice warm shower—you wanna guess whose idea that was? Because I can guarantee you that it wasn't hers. It was mine. So yeah, you're welcome."

It's quiet after that, when Floyd lingers again by Flag's side. Then Floyd looks back, glancing between her and Boomerang. She notices a different look on his face but she doesn't dwell on the thought because he walks out of the cell before she can read it. This leaves just the three of them, before Boomerang starts to leave. He gets half-way to the door before Flag moves, blocking his path. Boomerang is quiet as he stops in front of Flag, not putting up any kind of fight, which is so unlike him.

"I'm just gonna say this one time, okay? And I'm gonna trust that you hear me, Boomerang. Here it is: don't cause shit. Don't push them. Don't give them a reason. Don't be yourself is basically what I'm asking of you. Because I won't be there to stop them if you push them and then they push back. So just behave for a couple of days. That's all I'm asking. Then when you get back, maybe we can bring the idea of more privileges for you to Waller. How's that sound? Just a couple days, that's all I'm asking."

Boomerang scoffs, moving to walk away again. "Sure, boss."

She doesn't know why she wants to stop him from leaving. She doesn't where she pulls the words from, or why she speaks before it's too late.

"Colonel, could we have a moment?"

He glances back, nodding. "Yeah, sure, Katana. I was hoping to talk to you about—"

"I meant could I have a moment with the Captain, before he is relocated?"

Give us a sec. We'll catch up. She remembers Boomerang's request to Floyd, what feels like so long ago now but really wasn't. She thinks about how similar it is. She thinks about how he was trying to do something for her then and now she's the one trying to do something for him. Tatsu doesn't know when she will see him again after this so she needs to do this now. It may not change anything, but she knows that she needs to try.

Flag looks unsure but agrees. He nods, glances at them, then takes a step towards the door.

"Uh, yeah. Sure. No problem, Katana. But I gotta get him out of here ASAP. So just one minute?"

"Yes." she nods briefly. "Just one minute."

After lingering by the door, Flag steps away and gives them their minute together. In those first seconds in the quiet together, it reminds her of too many things. She thinks of the visit to his cell, she remembers fighting by his side, and then she starts to think about all the things he's done for her today. Boomerang stayed with her when he could have left and run away. She gave him weapons and a chance to use them, against her or against the guards to get away, but he didn't. He stayed, and it means something to her. She doesn't know if it means that she trusts him, but there's something there now and she can't stop herself from thinking about it now that they're alone and she doesn't know when she will see him again.

She thinks about Boomerang's hand, and not just the moment it was pressed softly to her cheek. She thinks about his hand holding hers, and then back to earlier in the battle when she was weary and he stepped up to help her. Tatsu remembers him shielding her, as she shielded them from the guards only minutes ago, and it means something.

Tatsu doesn't know what it means. She doesn't know if it means anything at all to him, because when she looks to Boomerang she finds that there's nothing on his face for her to read. His expression is empty, and his emotions are hidden from her. He doesn't seem curious about why she wants him to stay, he mostly just looks tired and she doesn't want to add to this. She doesn't want to keep him from his rest or from where he needs to be, she just needs to speak with him before he goes. She needs to talk with him before they leave because it could be their last chance.

"I know you aren't one to listen to other people." Tatsu begins, remembering his words while she finds her owns. "I know that you have trouble with the guards. And you also know that I cannot always be there to help, so I need you to do something for me while you are gone."

Boomerang stops, turning to her slowly. "Why?"

"You talked of all the things I did for you.." she pauses. "You said that you wanted to pay it back."

He tenses a little but it quickly slips away. She knows that it's not her, that she isn't the reason why he's tense, and she knows that it's not even Flag. It's Waller, it's the threat of it all. She watches as some of the tension slips from his features and then fades away entirely, and he is left looking empty again. He looks quiet and different, and she wants to ask him why but she can't find the words. He glances her over one more time, and she knows that he's thinking about the way she looks. Not the way she looks, not like that, he's thinking about her injuries. He's thinking about what happened to her today, and somewhere in all of that he's thinking about what could have happened to all of them today.

Tatsu knows that she looks weary, and if she's right about him then Boomerang is thinking about this. He's thinking about how weary she looks, and how he doesn't want to burden her with all of this today. He also doesn't want to walk away yet, and she's glad that there's a part of him that stays even if there's still a part of him that will always want to go.

"And you said there wasn't a debt."

"There is no debt." Tatsu promises. "I meant that."

Boomerang glances away, over to to the guards near the cell door and Flag's figure waiting outside the archway. Then he glances back to her slowly, and she finds that he looks unsure and a little curious about all of this. He looks like he believes her, like he knows that there's no debt, and now he mostly just looks curious about what this is all about.

"Then what are you asking me to do?" he asks. "What do you need?"

"For you take care of yourself. That is what I'm asking."

"C'mon, darl. Y'know what it's like, how I find trouble. I always do." he says simply, stepping back. "And what's the point anyway? I'm just gonna end up back here in the end. Shouldn't I get to have a bit of fun while I can?"

Then he turns to move, to walk away and leave her, and she can't let it happen. She doesn't know why but she can't let him walk away yet. Tatsu moves, swiftly stepping in front of Boomerang. She stops him, placing a hand to his chest to keep him from leaving. He can still leave easily and they both know this. She knows that he could walk around her and leave, just as easily as she could have pushed him away earlier.

She waits for Boomerang to leave, she's sure that he will, but he doesn't. She watches something in his jaw tighten then fade, and then he looks back down at her and she knows he isn't going to leave. It means something again. She doesn't know what, she's not sure she wants to know, but it does. It's like his hand, soft against her jaw. Her palm flattens against his chest and stays there, and Boomerang looks so different that she's almost lost in the way she feels so curious about it.

"What d'ya want from me? What can I say?" Boomerang asks, looking down at her closely. "Not gonna make you any promises, sweetheart. Not gonna pinky swear on anythin'. See, I don't do that. I can't make promises, 'cos I'm shit at keeping them."

"I am not asking you to make promises. I don't want your promises." she answers, her palm still lightly pressed into his chest. "I don't want anything from you, I am only asking that you take care of yourself."

He sighs and looks like he might leave, but he ends up staying.

"From who? The guards, or from Waller? Or myself?" he pauses, chewing on his lip. "Listen, it's sweet of ya to think of me. But I gotta go. You heard the boss man, I gotta get out of here ASAP, so.."

"You will try." Tatsu stays there, stays close. "Won't you?"

"Yeah, but if only so I can get back here and see my boy Coopy. I reckon that bastard owes me a couple beers now."

Her hands slips away now, as she observes him. Tatsu watches as a small smile hangs on the Captain's lips; it's barely there but she sees it, and she knows why it's there. She knows why it slips. He uses it as a cover, another mask, to hide everything else that's going on in his head right now. She thinks that he might leave because she knows that he wants to, he wants to get far away from this place and she can't blame him for wanting to run. She feels the same, she wants to get far away from this place and take a break for a few days before she comes back.

"Why did you do it?" she finds herself asking. "Why did you save him?"

"Who, Coops? Yeah, I dunno. Don't really think I did it for him, ya know?" Boomerang says, then stops to briefly think about it. "He was such a fuckin' prick sometimes, but I dunno. Maybe I just thought it was a shit way to go out, yeah? Bein' all alone like that, callin' out for somebody who wasn't there. Seemed like a shitty way to die. But I dunno, really. Guess it's just one more thing in this life that I'm never gonna know, hey. Just another unanswered thing 'bout this life."

"He lived because of you. That means something."

"Mm, I'm not so sure about that. But alright, luv. Guess I should be goin' now." he says, but still stays close. "You take care of yerself, yeah? Sure looks like ya need it. I'd hug ya or something, but I think you might stab me an' I'm not real sure I could walk that one off today. So I'm just gonna say take care an' be on my way."

She's still for a moment, she doesn't know why, and then she stretches up to be closer to him. Tatsu doesn't know why, even as she presses her lips to his cheek. Maybe it's because she's stressed about where he's going and what it will be like when he comes back, or maybe it's because she wants to leave him with something kind. His skin is marked from today. He's covered in scattered bruises, and then there are the thick, heavy gashes left along his body, and she knows they are not all from today's fight, and it means something. This moment, her gesture, comes from what happened today and it comes from his past. She doesn't know why she does what she does, but it lies somewhere in all of what happened today and what she fears will happen to him over these next few days.

Tatsu is gentle and brief. She is barely there, as she leans in to kiss his cheek. It's small, a ghost of a kiss on his left cheek, and then she is gone, but it still means something. She feels it, and from the way that Boomerang is looking at her after she knows that he feels it too. His eyes stay on her (light, and endless, and blue) for what feels like so long, and then there's a voice by the door that she know is Flag's, telling them that it's time for Boomerang to go. She finds that she wants him to stay, even though she knows he needs to go.

Boomerang looks so conflicted in those next seconds when he looks back at her. He looks so unsure, that she's not really sure what's going on with him at all. He spares a look back at her then leaves slowly, and after he's gone the cell falls quiet and Tatsu is left alone. She welcomes the quiet, if only for the few seconds it's there while Flag is gone. She doesn't know where he disappears to, she just knows that he's gone when she looks up and she's left to wait for him to return. She's left to her thoughts of him, and then to thoughts of today, and she knows there's nothing she can do to stop them so she lets them in.

Where to from here? She doesn't know yet, but she thinks she will go to Gotham. Her apartment sounds like a nice place to be right now. Her eyes shut for a second and she imagines herself going back there. She thinks of the whiskey, the quiet, and the warm showers she will have there. She thinks she could use it right now, she could use a break in a place where it will be quiet and simple. She doesn't know what Waller will ask of her, but Tatsu knows she needs time for herself and she must take it before she does whatever Waller wants her to do next.

Tatsu knows that she needs time. She needs time to rest, to patch herself up, and to drink some whiskey. She almost thinks that a part of her needs time away from this place, and it's not really just about them. She feels like she needs to put distance and time between the prison and what happened here. She needs distance between her feelings for them. It won't change how she feels, and she knows that. It won't change the way she remembers the softness to his movements, or his gaze resting on her. It's not why she just needs the time. She feels weary now, wearier than she has in a long time, and she knows that she will feel better after she rests.

Flag joins her soon, she realizes it after she escapes from her thoughts and sees him in the doorway to the cell. He returns holding something hidden in his hands. Tatsu knows what it is right away, and then she sees him pull it from a cloth it's been wrapped in. It's Soultaker. He pulls it free and hands it to her, watching closely as she takes it back. She grips it quickly, then sheathes it and lets out a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding for so long. Then she looks up to him and his soft, patient gaze.

"Listen, I know—I know they took it from you, and they had no right to do that. I know what it is, and what it means to you." Flag tells her quietly, taking a small step closer. "And I just don't know what to tell you. I don't know what to say that could fix what happened. I just know that it's never gonna happen again here. I've made it clear to the guards involved, and I'll make it clear to everyone else, that under no circumstances are they to ever take that sword from you again. I don't know what it's worth right now, after everything that happened..But you have my word, Katana."

After a second, she lets out another tightly held breath as she feels some of the tension seep out of her. It's different with Flag, and she realizes this now. She watches as the tension and worry builds on his face and she doesn't want to see it there. She wants to take it from him, because it's not his fault and he doesn't deserve it.

"Your word is important." she tells him soon. "It is worth something. It is worth a lot."

He moves closer suddenly, pulling Tatsu into a hug. It's a gentle, warm hug, and she's quietly surprised by how quickly she eases into it. She doesn't let herself think about it or question it too much, she just eases into it and puts a hand on Flag to hold him back. He holds her tighter, and she knows why. Tatsu knows this has rattled him, just as it has rattled her. She doesn't know what exactly it means to him, but now isn't the time to talk about it all. It will wait until they're rested, for now they can hold each other and forget about it for a moment.

"I'm so glad you're okay, Tatsu. For a while there I thought we were gonna lose you." Flag admits quietly, just for her to hear. "Then I saw your sword, and I thought—I know the guards took it from you, but that wasn't my first thought. I thought something happened to you. And I'm just really glad that you're here and that you're okay."

It's only minutes later when they're still holding each other that she hears the sound of choppers and it sinks in. It reminds her that there's somewhere that they need to be, and that they can't stay here for much longer even if they want to. She knows they should leave but she stays a little longer, closing her eyes as she allows herself to feel it. Tatsu feels the embrace and all that comes with it; she feels the warmth, and his fear, and the bond between them that's deeper now. She doesn't want to leave him, she doesn't want to break the embrace, so she allows herself one more minute.

"For a moment, I thought we had lost you."

Tatsu's words are quiet but Flag still hears them. He says nothing for a while, he just squeezes her a little tighter to let her know that he understands. He knows that she's weary like he is from what they've been through today. For all the things they have endured together, all of the hard battles they've fought and all the moments they've almost lost each other, she is still not surprised that this is the thing that rattles them. She knows it is more than the risk of losing each other, it's the risk of losing them, and it's the chaos that came with it. It's the attack they were never ready for, on such a large scale and with such intensity. It's having to kill prisoners and intruders while trying to still save lives that has worn them both down, and she hopes after this they will both have time to rest. She doesn't see it happening yet, not with Waller, but she still hopes for it.

"What are you talking about? You can't lose me." Flag says, smiling, as he pulls away. "You and me, we go way back. Right?"

He moves a hand to her forearm, squeezing it gently. Tatsu watches him for a second, then nods and places her hand over his. She smiles now, or she tries to, but it's more of a grimace. From the look on Flag's face she knows it passes as a smile.

"We do." Tatsu agrees. "Way, way back."

At this, Flag's smile brightens intensely. "See. We do. And since we go that far back, you know you're not getting rid of me as easily as something like a prison brawl. Because that's basically what it was, you know? Just on a much larger scale." he tells her, then stops for just a second. "And you know, you're Katana. I mean, come on. That speaks for itself, doesn't it? Nothing was ever gonna happen to you. The way I see it, you're gonna out-live us all."

For a moment her smiles stays. I know, she thinks, as her smile slips slowly. I know, and I fear it.

A minute later, Flag leads the way from the cell and Tatsu follows. She barely pays attention to the narrow corridor they wind up in, she only knows that there are more guards here than she's ever seen in the prison before today. She doesn't look at them, she keeps her gaze on Flag and the path ahead. She stays lost in her head, lost in all of her thoughts, and it's worse when she thinks of them when she's like this. She's vulnerable, so she can't stop the thoughts or the memories of the dreams that come back to her. She thinks of Flag holding his own heart, and Boomerang dying, and she doesn't want to see it but she does. She hears the choppers flying over the building and it makes her think of the ones in her dreams, the ones with shadows shaped like butterflies.

It all stays with Tatsu until it fades, until she falls into place next to Flag and he leads her down two more corridors. Then they're outside and she's free, or she's as free as one can be here at Belle Reve. The sky hanging above the prison is dull and gray now, and the small breeze that brushes over her skin doesn't feel half as good as she imagined that it would. She doesn't remember the sky being this cloudy when she arrived here but now it's heavy and dark, and it's starting to rain over the prison.

She doesn't mind it today, she actually likes the way it feels on her skin. Flag leads her half-way down to the helipad where she sees five helicopters waiting. Then he stops, gives instructions to a guard nearby, and leaves her. He tells her that he'll be back soon and that's all she gets before he's gone again.

Tatsu watches him disappear somewhere inside, and then she's led to the helipad where she's told to wait by a guard. Then she's left alone again and she doesn't mind it, she actually welcomes the quiet back in. She's left to think of the rain, her injuries, and then the group. She thinks of the Captain and the kiss she left to his cheek, and his hand pressed to her jaw, and it's almost too much. This is what she thinks of, it's all that she can think of, while she's left out in the rain for a guard to come back to her and tell her where to go next. In all of her thoughts of Boomerang and the prison, she ends up getting lost thinking about the ocean.

Chapter Text

The empty seats in the chopper remind Tatsu of the Squad. Her mind dwells on thoughts of them and what they endured today, before her memories quickly take her back to that night when they flew into Midway City together. She remembers the chaos, the lights, and seeing the five of them for the first time. It's all that she can think about as she climbs into the quiet helicopter. It's all that she can think about until it isn't, and her mind wanders back to their first meeting and everything that came after that moment.

Tatsu remembers the aliens the most, out of everything that she remembers from that night. She sees them, and sometimes she dreams about them, and it isn't just because of what they were. It's who they used to be, and who they could have been. She thinks about the aliens until she can't, until she starts to think about everything else. She sees the sky now. A dark, abandoned city. Rain falling from above and drenching them. Blood on her hands. Bodies lining the empty, ruined streets. And then she sees Flag, crushing the heart in his hands.

It stays with her and she can't escape it. She never really can. Her eyes flicker shut for a second and she remembers the taste of whiskey in her mouth. A warm, fleeting comforting before the battle continued. After this she thinks of Chato. She thinks about the way he fought for them, and how he died for them, to show them that he was willing to sacrifice himself to save them.

And to save the world.

Then Tatsu sees her vision again, when she is done thinking of Chato and the sacrifice he made. She thinks about what she saw in her head, and then what she saw in the empty streets before the final battle. She remembers it all so vividly now. So much death, so much destruction. It haunts her, and it's the only thing that she can think about before she ends up thinking about him and she almost welcomes it. For a second she almost welcomes the way that thinking about him feels like a break from everything else dark and bloody that follows her around.

She thinks about the Captain, as her eyes open and she looks over to the rows of empty seats that remind her of the first time they met. She knew of Boomerang before she met him, from the file she read and the stories she'd heard. There were always so many stories and she thinks about them now, she thinks about all of the things she learned about him and all of the ideas she had about George Digger Harkness in her head—and then she wonders why it feels like there's something gnawing away inside of her (in her mind, possibly even in her heart) telling her that all of her assumptions about him, all of the things she ever read, aren't at all like the man that she's come to know.

Why?

She thinks she could ask herself this a thousand times and still never really know. It's a powerful question, one with too many answers. She can't possibly answer it now, so she tries to let it go and leave her mind to rest. Tatsu finds her way to an empty seat, settles in, and forces herself to not think about him. It never really works and today is no exception. If anything, she thinks what happened today might only be making her think about him more. Boomerang stays on her mind in the quiet of the chopper, then they all come back to her and there's nothing she can do to keep them out.

The only time Tatsu's thoughts aren't stuck on them is when a medic comes by, offering help and supplies. Tatsu rejects his help three times before he gets it, that she's not interested and that she's better at taking care of herself. She doesn't need him, she doesn't need anyone. She's good at taking care of herself, so she refuses his help. But before he leaves, she does take the medical pack filled with supplies from him. She's thankful for it, but she's more thankful for the silence that comes back to her when he finally leaves the chopper.

Tatsu welcomes the quiet and takes a breath when he's gone, before her eyes shut again and she tries to rest for a moment. It's not just a moment of rest though, it's more like a moment where she can lie and tell herself she's not still at Belle Reve. For a second she almost believes it, but like most things it doesn't last.

A group of guards soon file into the empty chopper, and they're not exactly loud but they're not quiet as they pack away their gear, continue their conversations, and find seats for the journey ahead of them. A few of the guards sit on Tatsu's side and buckle themselves in, ready to go, while the rest of them fill up the right side of the chopper and leave only a few seats empty. She finds herself feeling curious about why they're here on the same helicopter as her but she doesn't ask, she finds that she doesn't really care enough to ask or to let her gaze linger on them for too long before she looks away.

Her attention flickers away from them and down to the ramp at the end of the chopper that's still open and she knows why it's open. She knows it's because they're still waiting for someone before they take off. Tatsu doesn't know who they're waiting for but she knows what she's waiting for her. She's waiting for Flag. Those were her instructions, that's all she knows.

Everything else is out of her control for now, and with the way she's feeling she doesn't mind it. She just can't help the way she still feels a little curious. Her gaze flickers back to the guards and she silently counts them, before she takes a closer look at their gear and the bags they're packing away. With just a look at them she thinks she knows why they're here and it's not for her. They're here for a prisoner, for one of them, and it's just as Tatsu is letting herself think about who they're waiting for that she sees the two of them.

She sees Flag walking towards the helicopter with Boomerang trailing slowly behind him, and with just the one look at them Tatsu knows that she's not going to Gotham. She knows that it's her choice what she doe next, to stay or to go off on her own, but after a minute she begins to question if she ever really had any choice at all since all it took for her to decide to go with him was to see him again.

Tatsu's mind stays on thoughts of this as she watches the two of them walking closer to the chopper. The Colonel continues to lead the way, and Boomerang's still walking slowly behind him but he's almost by his side now. They share a brief look before they reach the ramp at the end of the helicopter, and once they climb inside there's not much Tatsu can do to avert her gaze from Boomerang. She doesn't care if it's obvious to him or to anyone else, but she can't look away.

Boomerang is still bleeding in a few places from the battle, and the fight with the guard before the battle, and Tatsu can't look away. She can't lift her eyes off the blood stains that seep through his pale orange prison uniform, which clearly isn't his because it's at least one size too small for him. It may even be two sizes too small, with the way it looks on him.

Her eyes hover on him for a minute, then she looks down to the black duffel bag he's carrying by his side. It's a large bag, probably filled with basic supplies for his trip away from Belle Reve. She's still curious about him, about what happens next, and it's why her eyes linger on him before she finally looks to Flag, who is busy directing Boomerang over to one of the last empty seats on the right side of the chopper.

He leads the Captain down to a seat that's almost directly across from Tatsu's in the chopper, even though there's plenty of room left on her side for the two of them. It makes her question why he's doing it, why he's putting Boomerang so far away that he can't hear anything that they talk about, and that's when she gets it. There's something Flag needs to discuss with her privately, something he doesn't want Boomerang to hear, and that's why he's sitting all the way over there. Tatsu doesn't question it anymore after this, she just goes back to watching as Boomerang tries to settle in.

Boomerang is uncomfortable and in pain, this much she can tell from here. He looks irritated, by this, by Flag, but he hides it well. His bag hits the seat with a loud thud after he carelessly drops it down there, then he sits down slowly in a way that looks painful and like all of this is starting to annoy him. He says nothing though and hides his pain well enough that Tatsu thinks she might be the only one to see it. Her, and maybe Flag. She knows he's much more aware than they often give him credit for.

If Flag notices Boomerang's pain, or his bad mood, then he says nothing and just leans in to have a quiet word with him. When they're done the Captain gives a nod of his head and leans back into his seat. His eyes close shortly after this and he looks ready to rest, and she feels a wave of relief seep into her to know that there's time for him to rest now. He needs rest, he needs more than this, but for now a few hours sleep will do him good.

He looks weary, worse than he did before, and with the way he's still bleeding she knows that he needs to take care of himself. For now she's just glad that he can sleep. That's about all the time she can spend thinking about the Captain before Flag joins her and she places her full attention back on him and ton whatever he clearly needs to speak with her about.

The Colonel sinks down into the seat next to Tatsu with a heavy sigh, then calls out the order to leave and seconds later they're moving and on their way away from the prison. She doesn't know where they're going, she only knows that she needs answers and that if she's going to get them from anyone it will be from Flag.

Tatsu turns to look at Flag slowly, adjusting a little in her seat as she does to feel more comfortable. It doesn't really help but it could be worse. It has been worse. She remembers that old pain now and it's why she endures this pain. She endures it because she can, because she knows it will pass and that it's nothing compared to what she's felt before and what she's lost.

"Where are the others?" she asks him. "And what are my orders now that it is over? Where am I to go?"

Flag hesitates before glancing down at her, and for a second Tatsu starts to think about how well she can still read him even now, even in the quiet. She looks deep into his eyes and then at the weary lines written across his face, and a part of her thinks that she already knows what's on his mind. He's thinking about how it isn't over yet, how it doesn't feel over and that without anyone to put this blame on—how can it be over?

It's not over and they both know it. It's just that for today it is over and all Tatsu can bring herself to think about is what comes next today. What comes after this, what comes after tomorrow morning, will be something they deal with then.

"I made the call to split them up and put them into different choppers. It's much safer this way." Flag explains soon, words low and quiet, only for her. "Harley is going with Croc, because somehow those two just seem less volatile when they're together. So they'll get a TV, some magazines and food. They'll be just fine."

"And Floyd?"

For a minute Flag hesitates and this time Tatsu doesn't try to get a read on him. She accepts his silence, his hesitation, for whatever it is and she leaves it between them until he's ready to speak again.

"Deadshot is on his own with some of my best soldiers looking after him. They're all being looked after by our best soldiers." Flag tells her soon enough. "They're all gonna be safe 'till this is over. There's nothing to worry about. You have my word, okay? Nothing is gonna happen to them."

She considers it for a while, still watching him closely as a million different thoughts slip in and out of her mind. She leaves most of them unspoken and forgotten, and focuses on the Squad for just a moment longer.

"If you did not need so many helicopters to transport them, then why are they here? They are distractions?"

"Yep. The rest of the choppers are decoys. Going out in different directions just to throw off anyone who might be watching. Not that I expect anyone to be watching. It's just that, well—" he stops, for a breath and to gather his thoughts. "Listen, Katana, I don't know what today was. None of us really do. But what we do know is that those people wanted them and they got close. It was too close and we can't risk that again. So we're splitting them up and sending out decoys. It gives us time to figure this out while they get some rest and stay safe for a couple of days."

"And what about me?" Tatsu asks. "Am I free to go now?"

Flag nods, then quickly half-smiles. "Yeah, of course. Of course you're free to go, Tatsu. What you do now is your choice." he promises, as he tries to get a read on her. "You know that, don't you? It's always been your choice when it comes to this place and it always will be. I'll make sure of it."

For a long time after she hears him speak, Tatsu can only think about how she disagrees with his words. She almost tells Flag this, that it doesn't always feel like there's a choice and when there is a choice it's never really been her choice. It's been Waller's choice to give, to take, and to treat them however she sees that they deserve. Then there's the Squad and the choices they make to behave, to act out, or to work together.

It hasn't always felt like it was up to her and it's because of this place. Belle Reve has always been something else entirely. It's a place that's being her choice, beyond her control, when it comes to them. But instead of saying any of this to Flag she ends up focusing on all of the little details she catches in his eyes in the silence that passes between them.

He's holding something back from her. It's something Tatsu can see clearly now. It's not something he doesn't want to tell her, it's more that he doesn't know how to tell her. Flag wants to talk to her, he wants to let her in, he's just trying to find the right words—and even though he barely gives this away she already knows what he wants to say and what he's going to ask of her.

Tatsu knows what he's about to ask and somehow she also knows what her answer will be. Maybe she's always known the answer.

"You know I mean it, don't you? When I say it's your choice and that it always will be, I mean it. I always mean it." Flag tells her, leaning in to be closer. "You can go wherever you want now, because for today it's over. You don't owe Belle Reve anything. You don't owe Amanda Waller anything. You can go as far away from here as you want until Waller needs you for a job with the Task Force. That's it. That's your choice."

She arches an eyebrow. "It is never that easy with Waller."

"If you want out, then you say and you get out. You don't owe this prison a thing. You don't owe these guys anything, okay? And you really don't owe Waller this. Trust me. You do what you need to do. So if that means you want out, then you get out. We all know you've earned it."

"And if I don't want to go?" Tatsu asks slowly, after taking a minute to turn the thought over in her head. "What then?"

"If you don't want to go, if that means you want to stay, then what you do is your call." Flag sighs, looking away for the briefest of moments. "You could always look out for him for a while. Make sure he doesn't get himself into trouble. If that's something you'd want to do.. But like I said, it's up to you. The choice is yours, Katana, and it always will be."

In the minutes that come after it's the only thought that stays on her mind. She can only think about Boomerang, and then she looks over to where he's still sleeping and she knows what he needs. She knows what Flag needs, too. It's the same thing that he can't ask. He needs her to stay, he needs someone to look after Boomerang, and he needs it to be her, but he'll never ask her because he thinks she's already given too much to this place, to these prisoners, and maybe she has.

Today's the kind of day where it feels like she's already given too much, and like there's not much left to give. But somehow she knows she will find a way to give what she doesn't have left, to this place, to Flag, and to them.

Flag's promise echoes in her mind, in the minute she takes to think about all of this. It's your choice. Always will be. She can only think about this, and the more that she thinks about it the more that she finds it harder to believe that there was ever much of a choice when it came to them. It's never been simple, not like it should have been, not like it was that first day when she met them and she was ready to cut them down in the helicopter. This isn't what she does. She doesn't watch over criminals, she kills them. And she's killed so many criminals before she met them. At the start of the Midway City mission she was ready to kill them. But now if Waller gave her that order to kill one of them, to kill any of them—

Tatsu doesn't know. This is her problem now. She doesn't know and because of this, because of them, she feels lost. And different.

It's the city that changed her. All of that chaos and death, and the way they fought it together, changed something inside of her. She doesn't know what it changed, just like she doesn't know if there's ever really been a choice when it comes to them. Not after that night, not after what they've been through together. It's all different now, just like she is, and it's why she's not sure that there was ever a choice.

And maybe she should care that there's never really been a choice but she doesn't, and maybe that's because she never wanted there to be one when it came to them.

"Where will you go if you aren't with them?" Tatsu asks soon, focusing back on this, back on Flag. "You will return to Belle Reve?"

"Yep, I just wanted to fly out with you so we could talk. I'm needed back at the prison, but don't worry about anything." he tells her quietly. "I'm gonna be in constant contact with all groups at all times. Nothing is gonna go wrong. They're gonna be fine, I'm not worried about them at all. What I am worried about is getting them back to Belle Reve after they've had that little taste of freedom. It's always hard to get them back inside after that."

She takes a breath then looks away. "And what of Waller?"

"Yeah, Waller is flying in ASAP. So that's gonna be a whole lot of fun..."

Somehow in the quiet that returns between the two of them, Tatsu just knows why Flag needs her to go and why he needs to stay behind. It can't be anyone else. It has to be them and she gets it now. She looks back at him carefully and knows why now. Flag needs to go back to Belle Reve to make sure that there are no mistakes made and that everything is done right. He needs to make sure that this never happens again, and to do that he needs to know exactly what happened today, how it was even possible, and why it happened at all. But there's still more to it that he's not telling her, and she knows from a look on his face what it is.

"You're staying back to watch over Waller. Aren't you?"

Flag looks like he wants to disagree, like he wants to shake his head and tell her no, of course that's not why. It's just that he can't say it, and he doesn't actually say a word at first, and that's how they both know that she's right.

"Look, whatever you're thinking—I assure you Waller had no idea about any of this. She's really, really angry about this. And she's doing everything in her power to fix this, I promise." Flag tells her, still sounding tense at the thought. "And yeah, maybe I'm gonna be there to make sure I not only do my part but that everyone else does, too. Waller included. But she had nothing to do with this, whatever it was. We're gonna work it out, and I'm gonna make sure people know what the group did to help us get the prison back. It's why I have to stay, to make sure nothing is screwed up. And maybe that's why I need you to go with Boomerang, to make sure that he doesn't screw things up. Because you and I both know it's only a matter of time before he screws something up."

Tatsu takes another, brief look at the sleeping Captain, while knowing that her mind is made up on this. She knows what she will do, and she knows that Flag is right about this and about Boomerang. She knows it because she's seen it, too. Boomerang is volatile, quick to anger, and not always easy to calm. Right now he's the one who's going to cause the most trouble for himself.

He's about to spend the next few days surrounded closely by guards and he's going to hate every moment of it because of the way he hates the guards. She knows it's going to be worse because he's angry, hurt, and tired. He needs someone there to make sure that he takes care of himself and that he doesn't get himself into even more trouble while he's away from the prison.

She has confidence in the others and thinks they may even be happy with this break from the prison. But the Captain? She's worried about him. It's a small, quiet concern, one she keeps to herself, but it still stays with her and it's there because of the way she's seen a side of him. She knows that there's a part of Boomerang that will always crave freedom and a life away from Belle Reve. He wants it so badly that sometimes she questions if he would try to get it at the expense of his life. He needs freedom more than he needs or wants anything else, and it's this desire that's going to get him into trouble while he's away from Belle Reve. And after today the last thing the Captain needs is more trouble.

"Do you think he will be mistreated?" Tatsu looks back to Flag. "Is that why you need me there?"

"No, not at all. These are good soldiers. He's gonna be fine. It's just that, it's him. You know him, okay? You know what he's like. He could start a fight with a wall. He's not good around guards or anyone with any kind of authority. He loves starting fights. He's chaotic, and angry, and right now he's looking for trouble that he doesn't need." Flag says, and for a minute he looks over to the Captain. "I don't want him to cause any trouble, but he will. He always starts trouble. And after what's just happened, it's going to be worse. No one needs that right now. I'm trying to look out for him, for all of them. And with the others? I can manage. But with Boomerang? He never listens to me. He listens to me even less than the others do. And I'm just running out of ideas on how to keep him out of trouble when I'm not there."

It's now that she really sees it, how much Flag needs this and how much he cares about them. He even cares about Boomerang and he really wants to protect all of them. Tatsu doesn't say any of this to Flag because it's not something that needs to be said. It's the same way that Flag understands the way she cares about Boomerang, and that's why he asks her to stay with him without bringing any other parts of it up. He asks her to stay in a simple and open way and she appreciates his honesty. There's still more to it though, more to what he says and what he doesn't say. It's something else he doesn't say and she knows what it is.

He never listens to me. She knows what that means, and she knows that Flag sees it even if he doesn't say it. Boomerang listens to her. Not often, and maybe it doesn't always last, but he still listens to her more than he does with anyone else and Flag sees it just like she does.

It's why it has to be her.

"Don't feel like you need to make up your mind right now. Alright? There's still time, so just think about it before we land." Flag tells her, offering her a tired smile before he pats her shoulder lightly. "Get some rest and take care of yourself. Let me know if you need anything. And thank you for today. I didn't say it earlier but I meant to, so thank you for all of it. Means more than I can say. I know we were all lucky that you were there to save the day."

Tatsu nods slightly and then quickly looks away, because for now it's all that she can do while her mind feels so heavy with these new thoughts. She looks away and leaves Flag to his own thoughts and to his chance to rest behind they arrive at their destination. He leaves her to do the same thing, only Tatsu doesn't think that she will be getting any rest yet. She needs it and she knows that, it's just that her mind is too alert and her body is still in too much pain to sleep yet.

She seeks out a distraction soon, as a way to get her mind off these thoughts and the decision that she's already made. She needs something to get her mind off Boomerang but it doesn't work. It does the opposite of that, and a few minutes later she's watching the Captain rest while thinking about all of the things they've been through. Tatsu spends a minute or two stuck on these thoughts, then ends up deciding that she really doesn't want to think about him right now. She forces herself to look away and takes a long look down at her blood stained body, and that's where she finds her distraction.

It's steady enough in the chopper that she doesn't need to be buckled into her seat. So she pushes herself to the edge, sits there, and drags the medical pack over to look at. It ends up opened on her lap and she takes a minute to look at the contents while deciding what she's strong enough for. She really just wants to clean herself up and maybe stitch a few wounds, everything else can wait until after they land.

Tatsu begins with the wound on her side. She pushes her jacket aside, far out of the way to give herself clear access to the wound, and then she begins. She gathers the supplies on her lap, sorts through the pile, and starts by cleaning the graze to her side. It aches in a sharp, painful way and Tatsu needs to take a few deep breaths before she really gets into cleaning it.

It hurts less than she thought it would. Then the pain comes back and really gets to her, and it hurts more than she imagined it could. It's a necessary pain, she tells herself, over and over again. It needs to be done, she needs to do this and to feel it for it to be over, and sometimes knowing that it will be over is the only way to get her through the pain. She continues to tell herself this, while reminding herself that it could have been worse or it could have been fatal. She was lucky to live. Lucky. The word feels strange to even think about. She spends a long time thinking about it though, while she swaps rolls of stained, bloody bandage for new ones, and works swiftly on cleaning up the wound.

It takes a long time to clean the graze, and the way it stings and aches only slows things down. She pushes on through the pain, and when it's over she's free to stitch the wound. This part is easy for Tatsu and she works with a fast precision to stitch it up. It doesn't take half as long, and when she's all done she takes a long breath and leans back into her seat, with her supplies still scattered across her lap and her blood stained hands loosely clasped together.

A few long, sharp breaths rise and slip away in Tatsu's throat before her breathing starts to feel steady again. She stays there for a while, pressed back into her seat, but it doesn't really feel like rest. She can't even trick her body to rest while she's there, so she stays alert, sorting the supplies and waiting for the pain to dull again before she's ready to start and focus on cleaning up the graze to her face.

With no mirror to look at the wound with, she almost turns to Flag to ask for his help. It's just that when she looks over her shoulder she discovers that he's sleeping and she can't bring herself to wake him. It's why she decides just to clean the wound now and to stitch it later. But if she wants to do any of this then she needs better access to the graze, and to do that she needs to get rid of her mask.

Tatsu draws in another breath, then hooks a finger on the side of her mask, pulls it away, and places it aside on the empty seat to her right. Instead of focusing on the way she feels without the mask on, she focuses on how her face feels from the battle. It feels sore, tight, and crusted over with thick, dry blood. She uses a damp, rolled up bandage to clean the area as best as she can for now, and she works just as swiftly as earlier while ignoring the way it hurts with each touch.

She finds that this time she can only work for so long without needing a moment to rest. She doesn't usually take breaks, but then again it's been a long time since she's physically been through anything like today. They don't usually get close enough to land any shots. She's not really sure she's feeling lucky at all after the day she's had. Tatsu leans back into her seat, thoughts of luck and Manhattan on her mind again. She spends a minute there resting, before she swipes the water bottle free from the pack, drinks half in a few sips, and then allows the coolness of it to distract her from the way everything else aches and burns.

Her attention doesn't linger on the water for long. no, her gaze finds him soon. Her eyes wander up from the bottle, across her bloody hands and the supplies in her lap, to the other side of the chopper where she expects to find Boomerang sleeping. He isn't. He's wide awake, with his pale blue gaze stuck on her. Only on her. With his eyes lingering on her, and with the quiet of the chopper echoing in the space between them, for a moment it feels like it's just the two of them here.

And at first she can't look away.

Boomerang's eyes are both soft and heavy at the same time, and for a while she's lost trying to work out why that is. Then she realizes that this is the first time he's ever seen her without her mask on. It means nothing, she tells herself. He's not the first to see her without it and he won't be the last. It's just that he looks different to everyone else and she almost wants to know more. She tells herself that it's better that she doesn't know and she doesn't spend a minute beyond this thinking about it.

She looks away quickly and back down to the supplies in front of her, and for a while she tries to keep her gaze there and away from him. It doesn't work. She's too curious, too tired. She looks back up at Boomerang again, minutes later, and discovers that he's still watching her in that same, quiet way. It makes her want to know why. It's that same old, complicated question with an answer that she's not sure she ever wants to know. It still enters her thoughts and for a while she wonders why he's looking at her the way he is. Then she gets lost in wondering what he's thinking about while he's watching her.

Right now she can't see herself, but with the blood on her skin she knows what she will look like. She has looked like this a hundred times before, it is nothing new.

(she is a mess of blood, scars, sweat, and smudged eye-liner)

For one more minute, maybe two, Tatsu looks back at Boomerang in the quiet between them. Then she swiftly drops her gaze down to her lap, picks up the bandage there, and continues to wipe the blood from her face. It hurts a little less this time, not that she cares anymore. She just wants to finish it now, it's why she works so quickly at scrubbing the dried blood from her skin. She's not bothered by the blood that runs the side of her face, or still sticks to her skin in places when she's done. She's used to blood, lately she's always been covered in it. Theirs and hers. His and hers. Her victims, her targets, her kills.

And his.

This is all she can focus on, until she spots a shadow nearing from the corner of her vision. It hovers for a second then comes closer, and when she looks up Boomerang's there. He's in the seat next to hers, holding her mask in his hands. She wonders why it suddenly looks so delicate, so small, in his hands, but she doesn't dwell on it. Instead of thinking about it, she starts to think about the way he looks now. Up close his bruises are worse. It's all worse than she remembers it being. His bruises are darker and look deeper, the blood stuck on his skin looks thicker, and there's a long gash on the side of his neck that she didn't notice before. It curves around to his shoulder and looks deep enough that it must be causing him a lot of pain.

He says nothing. He gives nothing away, he just sits by her side and leaves her waiting for an explanation that he eventually gives her.

"Said I wanted to help an' I meant it." he says. "So will ya let me?"

Tatsu stares blankly at him, suddenly feeling tense and uncertain. She's on edge, but not because of him. It's the prison, it's everything they've been through, and it's all that she can think about until she makes the decision that maybe this isn't the worst idea he's ever had. Still, she feels slow and a little cautious to hand over the supplies. It's not just the supplies that she's handing over to him. She's letting him take care of one of her wounds, and it's been so long since she let anyone do that.

He takes the supplies and drops them gently down on his lap. Then he turns back to her and reaches out for her cheek to look at the graze, and her first instinct is to pull away. She does pull back, away from him, and then she remembers why he's here and she leans back to allow him a chance to look at the graze. This time Boomerang doesn't really touch her. His hand hovers by her cheek, and it feels like he briefly presses a finger underneath her jaw to tilt her head back and get a better look at the wound. But apart from this he doesn't touch her, he doesn't linger, and somehow his gaze feels heavier than his hands ever have.

Boomerang's eyes roam openly across Tatsu's face when he's done looking at the wound, like he's trying to take it all in, and it takes all that she has to not close her eyes and pretend that he isn't looking at her the way he is. He spends a minute watching her before he looks away and drops his head down to look at the supplies resting on his lap.

"Are you sure you know what you're doing?" Tatsu asks, finding her voice. "You have done this before?"

He smiles now, amused. Then he looks up and nods a little, and this time he allows his gaze to linger on her in a more casual way. It feels soft, and also a little warmer. His smile slowly starts to turn lopsided though, as he chews on his bottom lip like there's something on his mind, something he hasn't said yet, and it feels so unlike him to keep something in.

"Well?" she pushes, for an answer, for more.

"Yeah, luv, 'course I know what I'm doing." Boomerang answers simply. "Been doing this since I was just a kid. I know what I'm doing."

It startles Tatsu the way his words sound; so genuine, so new. There's something in it that she almost believes. And almost..trusts? No, she thinks, but there's a second where she hesitates and thinks she does. She tells herself that she doesn't know if she trusts him, she only knows that there's a truth to his words that she connects with. There's a sadness hidden deep in it all, too. He says nothing else about it though, and it leaves her mind to go wild with new thoughts.

Since I was a kid. A kid. It lingers in the quiet, as Boomerang pretends to take a second look at the supplies. She can't get it out of her head now, and she quickly ends up thinking about his file. She only remembers it vaguely, only recalls pieces, but they still come back to her now. She read his file, read all of their files, because at the time it was just a job. A necessary thing to do. But now it almost feels like an intrusion into their pasts, especially his.

And she can't stop the way it comes back to her now. His stepfather, Ian, hated the boy. Subjected him to abuse and cruelty. It stays with her, and when she looks down at her hands she wants to use them to hold his. She doesn't. She wants to look up at Boomerang and say something, she wants to say anything, but she can't because now isn't the time for it. She tells herself this and ends up convincing herself that what Boomerang needs right now is a distraction, and not someone to talk about his past with. He needs someone to get his mind off these thoughts and the memories of today, and Tatsu doesn't know if it will work but she knows that she wants to try.

"That doesn't mean that you know what you are doing."

"Alright, well..What can I say?" Boomerang sighs. "Wait, maybe I can't say it. Maybe it's something I've gotta show ya."

He quickly starts to roll up the sleeve of his prison shirt, only with it being a size too small it barely rolls up his arm. It doesn't go up all the way that he wants it to, so he ends up unbuttoning the first two buttons of his uniform and turning around to show her a scar on the top of his left shoulder.

"See?" he calls back. "I know what I'm doing."

"Yes." Tatsu answers belatedly, eyes stuck on the curved scar. "I see a scar on your shoulder. And?"

"Yeah, yeah. And you know what? It was fuckin' gnarly at the time. Really was, luv." Boomerang says, as he turns back around. "But you see, I stitched it up real good on my own. And look, it barely left a scar. I'm good at this shit, alright? I know what I'm doing. But I can show ya more if ya need proof."

"No, I don't need that." she shakes her head once, decided. "Will you just do it?"

"Yep, no problem. We'll get this done, darl. Easy peasy."

Then Boomerang leaves her for a minute, to her weariness, to the thoughts crashing around in her head like waves. Or more like buildings, breaking and falling over. That's what it feels like right now. She focuses on them until she turns to Boomerang and watches as he picks up the bandage she used as a cloth and carries it over to her face, to wipe away a patch of blood that she missed.

Tatsu's eyes shut for the second that he's there, gently wiping the graze on the side of her head.

"That does not reassure me." she says soon, an attempt to distract him.

Maybe she's trying to distract both of them. It works with him at least. He chuckles a little and when she looks up at him she discovers that he's smiling again.

"Don't worry, it just means—"

"I know. I know what it means." Tatsu tells him. "And it still does not reassure me that you know what you're doing."

Boomerang's smile grows into something bigger and much, much brighter. Then he discards the bandage off to the side and leans in to get a better look at the graze. He lingers closely for a minute and when he pulls back he looks pleased enough with the way the wound looks and how it's been cleaned. It gives her some comfort, and even though they're in this situation because there's no other choice she finds that she's still glad that it's him that she's trusted to take care of the wound.

"So you do understand me then, hey?" he smirks again.

It feels like an easy question, but it's one that Tatsu can't give him any answers to right now. Boomerang is a complicated man and she isn't sure that she knows him. She knows only pieces of what he's shown her, what he's shown all of them, and that's all she knows. Maybe for a moment back in the cell there was something else between them, but she's still not sure she could ever really know him even if she let herself.

"I don't think so." she settles on saying.

It just amuses him even more and his smile turns wider, more playful even.

"Well that's alright, 'cos I guess I don't always understand you either." Boomerang says, as he leans back into the seat. "But maybe that's the fun part?"

Tatsu hesitates. "This is fun for you?"

"Nah, not this. Just meant—yeah, so tell me something. Tell me this: how were you gonna fix that shit up if yer knight in shining armor didn't come over here to save the day?"

It's so rare the way that Tatsu almost smiles at this. She hides it well enough, just managing to keep it from him before he sees it.

"That is what you think you are?" she asks a moment later.

Boomerang shrugs, grinning wider, and he looks so free of his earlier burdens and memories that it feels nice to see him like this.

"You saying it's not?"

She can't help it now, the way she almost smiles again. And she's so close to hiding it, but she's not close enough this time. Boomerang sees it, and naturally it only amuses him even more. His smile becomes much bigger, much brighter, after he catches her almost smiling at him. That's when she knows that it's over, that there's no point in trying to hide it, so she doesn't. All Tatsu can do is close her eyes and wait for him to get over it which could take years.

"Ha! Knew it! Knew you thought I was funny. C'mom, darl, it's all good." he chuckles, nudging her lightly in the arm. "Don't have to be shy 'bout having a laugh. Y'know what they say about laughter bein' the best medicine and all that."

Tatsu draws in a long, slow breath then speaks up. "Can we start this now?"

Her eyes flicker over him again when they open, before swiftly settling on a spot on his knees where they brush against hers. Her attention doesn't stay there long before it's pulled to the small patches of blood still seeping through his prison uniform.

"Alright, sorry. Sorry, darl. Was just trying to make ya laugh." he says, then sighs quietly. "You know this is gonna hurt a lot, right? You up for it?"

"Yes. I have had worse than this."

Much worse than this, she thinks but never says. Then it takes her back to old memories, to pain that she's endured before, and as she's lost in this pain Boomerang begins to stitch the graze. It still hurts her, it's just not the same kind of pain. She breathes through it and waits for it to end, and she's not sure if it's obvious to him or if he just senses it, but a minute later Boomerang tries to distract her again and she's almost glad that he does.

"So how were you gonna go it? I'm still curious. If I didn't come over, how were you gonna stitch it up?" he asks gently, focused on the graze. "I mean, yeah, you got all yer skills and that. But even that is a bit tricky."

"If I had nothing else, I would use my sword."

Boomerang's gaze quickly drops to hers and when she catches it she finds that his eyes are wider, with awe, curiosity, or something else entirely. And even when he focuses back on stitching the wound, that look never really leaves his eyes.

"What, like as a mirror?" Boomerang pauses. "Shit, that's pretty badass."

She takes in another, slow breath. "Will you be done soon?"

"Yeah, nearly, darl. Almost done. So tell me something else. Where are they dropping you off?" he asks, curious. "Somewhere good, I hope. Think you deserve a nice, long break after all the shit we've put you through here."

She doesn't know why it comes out at all, but it does.

"That isn't on you." she says. "On any of you."

Boomerang nods along a little. "Yeah, but they were after us. And all that shit—hey, listen, what you wanted me to do before..I dunno that I can take care of myself, but I'm gonna try not to piss 'em off and that's almost the same thing. Right?" he pauses, to look down at her and smile a little. "Just wanted you to know that, 'cos I wouldn't want you worrying about me when ya don't have to. I'm all good, alright? I'm a big boy. I can take care of myself. You just focus on you."

And once again Tatsu answers without thinking about it, or this is what she tells herself when it's easier to lie than to admit that she's known the answer since the start.

"I'm going with you."

He stops what he's doing after he hears it. Boomerang only stops for a second, but it's long enough that Tatsu notices it. Her eyes flicker over him slowly, as a different look begins to spread over his face. It's something she can't read. It's too heavy, too clouded, so instead of trying to read it she gives up on it and leaves him to his thoughts.

"But I thought—Flag said.." he stops, only for a moment. "I thought you had a choice? Thought you could get out?"

Tatsu looks away, down to her hands. "Waller changed the orders, so now I am to go with you and stay with you until your return to the prison." she says, another lie. "There is no choice, but I did not need one. This is my job, and I will see it through until it's over and I am not needed anymore."

She lies because she needs to, because it's easier than telling Boomerang that she made the choice herself. It's not just a lie for his sake, it's for her own, because she knows there isn't any other choice and that there's never been a choice when it comes to him. It's something she doesn't want to think about right now, and something she can't let Boomerang know about when what he needs now is his rest.

But from the way Boomerang is looking back at her, she's not sure he's going to get any rest. He looks angry, not at her but at Waller, and his face is still clouded with too many other thoughts and emotions as he takes his time to think it over. For a while she's curious about what's going on in his head but she doesn't try to read him any deeper than she already has and she doesn't ask him about it. She just gives him a moment of quiet to process it all.

"Shit. I'm real sorry, darl. Seems like that's not fair at all after all that shit you did back there. You pretty much saved the day, an' all of us. Would have been real fucked without ya. If anyone deserves a break, it's you." Boomerang says, minutes later. Then he looks up at her, a new thought clearly on his mind. "You could still go. Couldn't you? You could just go and they'd never find ya. You don't owe us or this place anything. You could run and I bet they'd never find ya. Why not do that?"

She almost tells him that she's tempted, that she's thought about it, or that it's still an option, but the last would be a lie and the other two don't matter.

"I will take time after this is done." she settles on saying.

Boomerang hums curiously, glancing her over. "Yeah? Where you gonna go? Home?" he asks, and smiles a little more. "What's home like? Bet it's real nice."

She thinks of Gotham next, but it's not her home. She lives there, it's where her apartment is, but it isn't her home. Tatsu works in Gotham but that doesn't make it her home. She cuts crime down in the city like she does everywhere else she's needed but those places aren't her homes. She has no home. It burned down a long time ago and left her with nothing but memories, and it's not something she can talk about right now so she's glad that he gives up on it when he does.

Soon Boomerang finishes stitching up the graze without any more questions, and she finally feels like she can breathe again. When he's all done, he pulls away with a quiet sigh and glances her over again.

"Looks like we're all done now. See?" he says, eyes stuck on the wound. "Told ya I could do it. Easy peasy."

Her eyes flicker back up to him again, and for a minute she watches as he takes one last, long look at the graze. Then Boomerang leans back into the seat, satisfied with the job he's done.

"Don't worry, darl. That's gonna heal up real good."

Tatsu takes a minute, then leans back into her seat slowly. "Thank you. For helping me."

When he smiles at her there's a weariness to it that she catches and reads easily. She says nothing, now doesn't feel like the right time. She's not sure there will ever be a right time with him, but if there is then it isn't now. It's why she leaves it all unsaid for now and looks away, down to her hands and then to the mask still sitting on his lap.

"No problem, luv. Happy to help." Boomerang answers a moment later. "Now, you need anything else while I'm here? Or I'm good to go?"

She shakes her head slowly at first, while she sinks deeper into her seat. Back here in her seat it feels comfortable. It all feels better here and Tatsu wants to stay, she finds that she's glad for the time she has to rest before they land. She takes in a breath and leans back more,  and as she does a few messy chunks of hair fall across her face and blur her vision. She leaves them there and closes her eyes to rest, and to also pretend for a moment that Boomerang's gaze isn't as heavy as it is right now.

"No, thank you. I need to rest now and so do you." Tatsu answers, followed by a pause. "Do you need anything?"

"Nah, I'm all good." he says, moving to the edge of his seat. "You get that rest, yeah? Sweet dreams, darl."

There's a second after this where Boomerang lingers, she feels him stay close after he moves the supplies aside. She even knows that he's still holding the mask in his hands. Her eyes are shut but she picks up on it, the way he's still sitting there and how he's clearly fidgeting with something in his hands. He's only there for a minute more before he places the mask aside, gets up and walks away, and even though she's tempted to look up at him again she doesn't. Not right away, anyway.

Tatsu waits a few minutes to look up again. She waits until Boomerang is back in his seat on the other side of the chopper, before she cracks open an eye to look at him. She looks up just as he's settling into his seat, and from the way he's moving she knows that he's still in pain. It's clear in his movements, even in the way he breathes and how he sits down in his seat. Then he moves a hand to cradle against his side and she knows that he needs help, she just knows that now isn't the time. He looks tired, like he really wants to get some rest and to be alone, and she wants that for him. But he still looks like he's not going to get any rest anytime soon.

From all the way over here, Tatsu can tell that his mind is too busy with thoughts to rest yet. He can't stop thinking about today, and about what comes next. He spends a while looking like this, and then he looks up at Tatsu again and she knows from the way he's watching her that he doesn't know that she's still awake and that she's watching him, too. Her messy, dark hair still hangs forward, covering at least half of her face, and because of this Boomerang is oblivious to her gaze. He doesn't know that she's watching him in the same way that he's watching her, and it gives her a rare moment with him.

It gives her a chance to watch Boomerang when he is quiet, vulnerable, and unaware. There are no masks, no sides, and no faces for anyone else. It is just him, just the two of them, and for a while Tatsu is lost in it. She stays lost in it until her pain catches up to her and her body reminds her how badly she needs to rest and escape from her thoughts. Tatsu takes one last look at him before her eyes close, and just as she is drifting off to sleep the last thought on her mind isn't something painful or bloody. The last thought on her mind before she drifts off is the memory of light blue eyes, and a gentle hand pressed against her jaw.

Chapter Text

The last thing Tatsu remembers is the blood. She dreams about it on her skin, and when she wakes up for a second she thinks that he might be there with her. He isn't. Tatsu wakes alone, in the back of a big empty car, with a bottle of water by her side and an old song playing on the radio. Her chest feels heavy and there's a sharp pain in her side, but she can only think about Boomerang and how he isn't here with her.

Blurry fragments come back to her. She remembers quiet words, only pieces. She thinks back to the chopper. His gaze, warm and fleeting. A quiet conversation with Flag, to tell him an answer he already knew. Tatsu remembers all of this and then nothing else, and it starts to worry her that she can't remember seeing Boomerang after being with him on the helicopter. She doesn't know what to do at first and then she reaches for Soultaker, ready to search for Boomerang. She needs to find him, to bring him back, and she can't sit here even if her body needs to rest. So she ignores the pain and turns to the door to open it. And then she sees it. She sees him.

From the back window in the car, she sees Boomerang over by the edge of the road. And he isn't alone. He's there with a group of guards who are either standing with him or next to the four identical black cars lined up by the side of the road. It quickly makes sense to her now, why they're here and why she couldn't see him when she woke up. It all makes sense now and she suddenly feels at ease, to see him here and to know he's safe with the soldiers. He's smiling, and sharing conversations and cigarettes with them, and he looks so calm and so happy that for a while she can't believe that it is real.

After a moment of watching him, Tatsu lets out a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding. He's here. It's the only thing that she can think about, and soon she finds that she can't look away from him. She doesn't know why but she doesn't want to look away. She wants to stay here for just a moment longer and remember the way that Boomerang looks right now.

He's so happy and free, and she doesn't know why she wants to hold on to it but she does. She tells herself that it's simple, that she just wants to have this moment as a memory for when they return to Belle Reve and everything turns to chaos again. Until that happens, she has this. And until then, he is still happy.

In the sunlight he looks golden. Tatsu gets lost in it, and it's why she quickly looks away from him and over to the soldiers surrounding him. They all look as casual and happy as he does and she doesn't get it. She doesn't know if they're smiling because they genuinely like him, or because they're bored and looking for entertainment. She only really knows that from the way they look around him she's almost certain that it's the first one. They like him and they seem to find him amusing, and Tatsu doesn't know what they're laughing about but she's sure it's probably one of Boomerang's wild stories filled with chaos and diamonds.

She looks away from them soon and glances down at herself, at her wounds and dirty clothes. It still hurts but it was always going to. It's better than it was back on the helicopter, some of the pain is even gone now, and that's something. It gives her some relief, even if it isn't much. Her eyes linger on a spot of blood on her stomach for a minute before she looks away again, but this time she doesn't seek out a distraction in Boomerang and his new friends. She looks over to her left out of the window there, out at the view she didn't notice before when she was too worried about him to think of anything else.

Outside of the window her eyes settle on a warm green field lit up in sunlight and it calms her. It looks as if it goes on for miles and miles, and she even spends a minute imagining that it does. It looks warm and lovely, and for a while she begins to dream about how it would feel against her skin. She imagines it would feel so nice right now, and it's why she ends up making the decision to go there and take a small walk through the field.

Tatsu takes a moment, steadies herself, then climbs over to the car door and opens it up slowly. On this side of the road, where she climbs down from the car, Boomerang and the soldiers can't see her and she's glad because it gives her a moment to be alone. She welcomes it, and the way her body begins to soak up the warmth. It's so nice and feels so refreshing after everything that they've been through, and Tatsu lets herself enjoy it.

She closes her eyes, breathes in slowly, and stays there for a while. It feels so much better than she imagined it could and she quickly decides that she wants to stay. It's been a long day and she is so tired of traveling that all she wants to do now is rest.

And where else could she get a view like this?

She can't stay, she already knows this, but for a minute she entertains the idea that she's free to stay here for as long as she likes. It feels nice. It doesn't last, those kind of thoughts never do, but she appreciates it while it's there. When it slips away and she begins to fixate on other thoughts, like what comes next and what will be expected of her, she decides to distract herself with that walk through the field.

And just as her gaze begins to wander over the empty field she finds the perfect place to sit. She finds a small log, half-buried in the long grass, just a few minutes away from the car, and she doesn't know why but it feels like that's where she's supposed to be right now. So she walks to it and when she gets there she eases herself down onto the log, taking a breath once she's seated.

Slowly her eyes wander back to the field, to the little flowers around her and the sunshine bouncing off her skin, and for a while she gets lost thinking about it and the way it feels here. She even lets herself imagine how it would feel to stay here. Tatsu imagines it would be peaceful. It's a calming thought, one she dwells on until she starts to think about running away from all of this. She thinks of running to a place like this one, where she could sit for hours and no one would ever find her. It's not something she considers, it's really just another daydream that slips away as they always do.

It's only a thought, it can never be real. That's why it's so easy to let it go. She can't run. It's not in her to run away from things, she runs to them. She fights, and she pushes on, and it's the way that her life is now. But for the briefest moment when the wind caresses her tired skin, she thinks about running. She focuses on the way the wind and sun soak into her body, and it leaves her dreaming of a world where she could run. A world where one day she might feel peace again.

One day. It sounds impossible, even as just a fleeting thought. It isn't real, it can never be real, and she already knows that. It's been years since she felt peace, and a world like the one she lets herself imagine sometimes doesn't exist. It can never exist for her again, and this is all she needs to know to let the thought go.

Tatsu doesn't think about it after this. Not just because she can't, but also because she's not alone anymore. She notices it now, about ten feet to her left. There's a man walking up from the road. It isn't Boomerang, this much she knows. Whoever it is, he walks quieter than the Captain does. She still hears him though and she listens as he moves closer to her. He stops soon, about five or six steps away from her. Then he speaks up, and when he does his voice is unfamiliar and kind.

"For a moment there I was worried, I thought maybe you'd wandered off." he pauses. "You mind if I join you? It's nice out here. Peaceful, too. Makes me think of home."

Her eyes open after this and she waits, slowly looking down to a patch of blood across her knuckles. It's dry and heavy now, and all she wants to do is wash it away. She can't. She takes a minute then looks away from the blood, while her mind gets stuck reliving what happened today. Tatsu thinks of the prison and all of those victims. She remembers their blood. So much blood. She looks up to the sky again but this time it feels less calming, so she focuses on the man behind her instead.

"Can I help you with something?"

First he lights a cigarette, then he answers her.

"No, thank you. I'm alright. I'm here to chat." he answers warmly. "I didn't get the chance to introduce myself on the trip here. Then you slept pretty much the whole ride. So I'll introduce myself now. I'm Colonel T. Porter. I'm an old buddy of Rick's."

Tatsu almost turns to face him, but stops at the last second.

"Why are you here?"

"Well, Rick called me in for help with this situation. And I couldn't say no." Colonel Porter answers swiftly. "So I know who you are. Knew a bit about you before he told me you'd be here. You're Katana. I think in our circles..It's kinda hard to not know who you are."

But even I don't know, Tatsu thinks, once. Then it slips away and she is left thinking about how sometimes she feels as if she is both something and nothing at the same time. She is no one and she is also Katana. She is Tatsu but she is mostly Katana. She is lost and she is a weapon. It's something she often feels, like she is herself and something else—and sometimes she is no one at all.

Today is too heavy already without these thoughts, so she lets them go and moves on. Tatsu breathes inwards sharply then stands, turning around to face Porter a moment later. As she turns around she is met with the hard face of a tall man, with light brown hair and a scar on his left cheek. Her eyes linger on the scar for just a second before she glances back at him, watching as his face softens and he smiles.

Then he stretches out his hand, waiting to shake hers. Tatsu hesitates but reaches for his hand anyway, shaking it lightly before she steps away and allows her gaze to wander over him again. His gear reminds her of what she's seen Flag wear on missions. He reminds her of Flag, just in a small way, and it leaves her curious about how they know each other.

"You worked with Rick? For how long?"

Porter smiles a little, between puffs of his cigarette. "I did, yeah. We did a couple jobs every few years. And I'd love to talk about it, but most of it is classified. What I can tell you is that he is one hell of a soldier, but I'm betting you knew that already."

"Yes, he is." Tatsu says, after thinking it over. "A good soldier, and a good man."

"He sure is. I couldn't agree more..You know, he's not much of a talker that Rick." he pauses, smiling more. "But he mentioned you. So you must be pretty important to him."

Tatsu tries not to let her mind get stuck on the thought but she can't stop it. She can't stop his words from staying with her. She cares about Flag, more than she thought that she ever could. She knows he cares about her in the same way. They have a bond that she never thought she would have again, and it's hard to think about it right now after how close she came to losing him today. She almost lost them today and it means something. It means so much more than she can admit.

"We worked together, too." she ends up saying. "Why are you here, Colonel? You don't work at Belle Reve. So why did you agree to help Flag with this?"

For a second Porter looks curious, then he smiles again.

"You're right, I don't work there. I hate that place. I don't think you could pay me to work there." he pauses, puffing on his cigarette again. "But like I said, Rick called me in. So in I came. He was just looking for some extra help after what went down. A bit of outside help, I think. Just to be on the safe side of things. You wanna know what I think? I think Rick wanted some of my guys looking out for the Aussie, because they don't know him. Makes them more impartial to him, there's less chance of there being problems that way."

"Your soldiers..They seem to like him."

"He's chatty. And charming enough, too. I know a good bullshitter when I see one." Porter says, laughing a little. "George tells a good enough story. And so far he's been on his best behavior. We've dealt with far worse than him. So I'd say we're off to a good start."

She hums quietly, moving on. "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure. What's on your mind, Katana?"

Tatsu thinks back to the chopper. Back to the blur of memories and quiet conversation she only faintly remembers. She thinks of the missing pieces, and the way the pain is a little better now, and she knows the answer but she asks anyway.

"Did the medic administer something while I slept?"

"Yes, he did. At Flag's insistence. He was worried about you. They both were." Porter nods. "It was about thirty minutes before we landed. How are you feeling now?"

"I'm well enough." Tatsu pauses, glancing around. "Where are we now? And where is our destination? Are we close?"

Porter smiles, before he steps away to crush out what's left of his cigarette. Then he returns to her, that same smile on his lips. It turns into a laugh, and she thinks she already knows why he's laughing. Still she waits, as he sighs and looks back to her.

"I can't tell you where we are or where we're going. Those are your bosses orders." he says, minutes later. "But I'm guessing you knew that already. Didn't you?"

She tenses, thinking it over. "Who would I tell? There is no one else here. Only me. Why can't I know where we are?"

"Our job is to protect the Aussie. And since you are technically a witness to what happened, and you are also wounded, that means our job is to protect you."

Tatsu barely hesitates. "I can take care of myself."

"We're more than aware of that. I assure you. But I'm also aware of Flag's orders and those were to bring you both back, alive and well. So that's what we're here to do, whether you can take care of yourself or not. We're in this together. That's how this works."

It gets to her more than it probably should. It's the not knowing that gets to her, it frustrates her and she can't stop it. Tatsu has questions, so many questions, and she feels as if there is no one here to give her the answers she needs. She wants to know why Waller doesn't want her knowing where they are. Then she wants to know where they are so she can prepare herself for all the situations that could happen to them out here.

It's the way she works, the way she lives now. She needs to be ready, and when she isn't ready then it leaves her feeling vulnerable and Tatsu is tired of that. She needs to protect herself and she needs to protect him, and she can't do that without knowing where they are.

"You really can't tell me where we're going?" she asks belatedly. "Even if I were to guarantee to you that I would never tell him?"

Porter smiles again. "No can do. Anything else?"

"Yes. How long will we be gone?" Tatsu asks, taking a step closer. "And how long will it take for us to arrive at our destination?"

There's another smile from the Colonel in response to her questions. It's that same, kind smile that tells her what his answer will be before he says a word.

"I can't answer that either."

Tatsu tenses and almost turns away. "Can you at least tell me how long we have traveled since the helicopter? Or can you tell me how long we traveled in the helicopter for?"

"Yeah, you're not gonna like those answers. Because you know what they're gonna be. I can't get into any specifics with you, even though I know you'd never tell him. I like him, I do. Really, I don't mind the Aussie all that much. George is fine, so far. But I don't really know him, so I don't want him knowing anything about where we are if the scenario arises where he is given a chance to run."

"He won't." she answers, too fast, too sure.

Porter's smile softens, just a little. "Maybe. Maybe not. But what I do know is, we can all be honest here. We can all admit that we know he wants to run. I'm pretty sure he even knows that we know that." he pauses, pressing a hand to his jaw for a moment. "So..I've got to keep that in mind, with every decision I make. I can't tell you anything about where we are. I can only tell you that we'll be at our destination soon enough, and when you arrive you will have plenty of time to rest. That's all I can give you."

After this Tatsu turns away, back to the fields and the view she doesn't want to leave just yet.

"I'd like to be alone now. Thank you for the conversation, Colonel."

He chuckles a little as he turns away. "No problem. There's a bit of time before we go, so I'll leave you to it. If you've got any other questions for me, you know where to find me. Over by the cars, watching the Aussie."

"Thank you."

He leaves soon and she welcomes the silence that follows. Tatsu eases herself down on the log again, focusing on the way it feels to be here and not on the way her side is starting to throb a little more now. She breathes out slowly and lets her thoughts drift back to Flag and the rest of their group. She can't help the way she thinks of them now. Tatsu starts by thinking about Flag and where he is now, then she thinks about the decoys and all of those dead bodies back at Belle Reve.

It stays with her, and it leaves her wondering if they should be together right now.

There's a part of her that thinks they should all be together after what they went through today. Together they're stronger. She doesn't know how it works, she's not sure she will ever know. She just knows that at the prison and in the city they were a team. They worked well together. It's when they're apart from each other that they're weaker and trouble finds them, and that concerns her. She won't admit it to anyone else or even to herself, but there's something heavy in her chest that tells her she should be worried about them.

She's not there with them when it feels like she should be and it's starting to get to her, because if someone else dies—

Tatsu thinks of Flag, holding the hand in his heart. She thinks of Chato, and those bodies in the city, and then she thinks of Boomerang and it's all too much with the way she feels right now. It's too much but it stays with her anyway. She tries to distract herself with other thoughts but nothing works, and in the end she is left feeling helpless. 

And alone.

 

**

 

Boomerang finds her.

She's still by the side of the road, eyes closed and her mind on the Squad, when he finds her. Tatsu hears him before he makes himself known but she says nothing and waits for him to speak first. It's quiet between them until he reaches her, and in the quiet she is left to listen as he walks through the thick waves of grass to get to her. He stops walking when he's a step or two behind her, waits a moment like he's going to change his mind, and then he walks closer.

"Hey, sleeping beauty. There you are. I was wonderin' when you were gonna wake up."

Her eyes open now and she looks up at him as he comes to stand in front of her. In this light he still looks golden, but he also looks tired. His bruises are darker. Deep shades of purple and blue. And his uniform is still faintly bloody with the wounds he won't show her. Tatsu can't stop the way her eyes linger on the spots, and she even forgets that she is staring at him obviously. But when he notices her gaze on his wounds he just smiles back at her.

"You alright?" he asks, moments later. "You sleep well?"

Tatsu nods a little. "Did I rest for long?"

"Nah, not really. Think I dozed for a bit there so I'm not really sure." Boomerang tells her, while smiling. "Seemed like you needed the rest, so I'm glad you got some."

She thinks back to it now, back to their moment in the chopper, while she watches Boomerang in front of her. He stares back at her for a second then lets out a sigh and tilts his head back to the sky, and Tatsu can only watch him as he stays, eyes shut to the sun for a while. She can't look away, and today she doesn't care.

Boomerang's face is bright, and when he looks at her again she catches a desire in his eyes. It's a desire to run away from all of this and she knows that it's there, it's always been there, and she's not sure anything could take it away. He wants to be free, and his desire to get out is stronger than it's ever been before, but she knows him. She knows him better than they do, at least. Tatsu knows he won't run. He wants to feel free again but he knows there's no freedom in this life for him. Not with Waller, his prison sentences, and those nanites in his neck. He can't be free and he knows it. It's why he's here now and not halfway down the field, running to whatever lies beyond.

"Hey it's real nice here. Isn't it?" he says, minutes later. "If you just ignore the guards hanging around to make sure I don't do a runner, then it's real nice. Kinda feels like a dream, you know? One of the good ones."

For a moment she almost tells him that she understands what he means. Tatsu almost tells Boomerang that she gets it, that she's had dreams like this before, but she's afraid of where it will lead. She fears it will lead to her telling him that those dreams aren't real and they never last and she can't do that to him today. She won't take this from him, so she says nothing and just nods a little to let him know she hears him. Then she glances away from him and down to the pretty little flowers in the grass around their feet.

Minutes later she looks back at him and finds that he's already watching her. But he says nothing, so this time she speaks.

"Do you know how long we've been here for?" she asks.

"Not too sure, darl. Hasn't felt that long, but then again I got hit around in the head a bit today." Boomerang pauses, half-smiling. "So I'm not really feeling too reliable, ya know? But yeah, I think we've been here 'bout ten minutes. Maybe even fifteen. Give or take a few.."

"How are they treating you?" Tatsu pauses, glancing him over. "Have there been any problems?"

"Nah, no problems. And you know it's weird, right, 'cos I thought they'd all be dickheads. Like the ones back at the prison, you know? But it turns out they're not." he answers, smiling a little more. "Like there's Porter and he's alright. He's growing on me a bit more than Flag, but then again Porter likes Flag. Doesn't he? So I dunno. Maybe Flag's not all that bad, when he's not being a dickhead. If you tell him any of this, I'm gonna deny every word."

Tatsu hums quietly while she watches him go on. She watches as he soaks in the sunlight for a little longer, then turns back to look at her again, and for a moment she's glad that he's the one speaking because she is too lost in the way he looks in this light to find the words to speak yet.

"It was Porter who let us stop for a cig. So he's alright. I don't mind him at all. Then there's all the other blokes and they're good boys. I like 'em. I'd sit and have a beer with them if I could." Boomerang says, as he takes a few steps closer to her. "And here I was thinking this would be another shitty arvo, after the day we had. But it turned out to be one of the best I've had in a while. You know, except for the bruises. And everything else. But at least I got something from the docs to feel better for a bit."

Her eyes wander over him slowly, taking in the little things. Then she looks up at him, quiet for a moment before she speaks.

"Are you still in pain?" she asks, even though she already knows the answer. "Does is still hurt?"

Boomerang shrugs a little at first, then joins her on the log. He walks over to the log and sits down carefully by her side, placing one hand against his ribs and leaving the other outstretched, to keep playing with the pieces of grass and flowers around them. He pulls a flower from the grass, twirls it between two fingers for a second, then rips off a petal and looks back at her.

"Yeah, darl. I'm all good. Better now, thanks. How about you?" Boomerang says, glancing her over. "You feeling any better? I dunno if it's gonna be much help or not, but you look better than you did before. That's something, right?"

He doesn't look good. He doesn't even look better. This is all Tatsu can think about, until she begins to think about why he's lying to her. He doesn't look better than he did. He looks worse now, and maybe he's feeling better but it really doesn't look like it. She notices it in the way he moves, and even in the way he sits next to her. She knows that he is lying but she says nothing, because—how can she call out his lies when she so easily shares her own?

"Yes, I'm fine." she tells him, minutes later. "I'm better."

Boomerang sighs like he's relieved to hear this, then turns away to look back to the view. As he does Tatsu glances at him. She lets herself watch him until he looks back at her, and that's when she looks up at the sky.

"That's good, luv. Really is. I'm glad you're better. And hey, it's too bad we have to leave this place." he sighs again, glancing forward. "Don't know where we are, but it's nice out here. Almost wish we could stay a while. I'd never be able to get away, but part of me still wants to try and get out. Sure, they'd catch me. I'd be too slow today. But I'm sure I'd have a bit of fun before they could get me."

Then a new thought dawns on him and he turns to her.

"But you," he grins. "If you went AWOL, they'd never catch ya. I don't reckon they'd ever find you if you did a runner."

Tatsu turns to him slowly, uncertain of what to say back. Or what to do, after she turns to meet his gaze. It feels too close, too personal, and maybe he is too close. Maybe she should look away but she doesn't. She stays there, watching him quietly for a moment as a blur of thoughts slip through her mind.

"You're right, they would catch you. You're too slow."

"Well, just say it how it is then." Boomerang smiles, then leans back on the log a little more. "You really think Flag was being legit? He said we were gonna get food, hot water, and a bed. You think we're getting all of that, or was he just saying that to shut us up?"

It's not something she needs long to think about because she knows Flag. He's honest and good, and in his own way he cares about them. He wouldn't lie about this, not after everything they've been through. Flag wants them to recover and to make it back to Belle Reve, and that's why she knows he will be true to his word and that they will get everything they were promised.

"Yes, I do. He will keep his word."

"Guess that's good to know. But hey, if it doesn't turn out to be all that great then I guess we can get out of here. What do you say, darl? You and me. We'll run off and find somewhere better to go. How's that sound?"

Tatsu feels amused, almost. "I think it would be short-lived. They would find us. By us, I mean you. And you would die."

He grins, then nudges her arm. "Nah, I don't think so."

"Really? What do you think would happen?"

"I don't think they'd find us. You seem like you'd be good at hiding, especially since yer so small." Boomerang answers, smiling even more. "You could just fit into all the little spaces, you know? They wouldn't find you. And I bet you know all the places to go. I think we'd be alright. I reckon you'd keep me safe."

Tatsu glances away now and moves forward a little, away from Boomerang and over to the edge of the log. She moves away because she has to, because they should leave now.

"I think we should return now. They will want to leave soon. We should be ready—"

"Hey, wait. Just wait a sec, yeah? Just a minute, that's all I'm asking." Boomerang quickly says. "There's just—there's this thing, yeah? It's just somethin' that's been on my mind for a bit. I've been meaning to ask you 'bout it and we're here now. So why not go for it?"

In the quiet that lingers between them, she can only watch him. Tatsu watches on as Boomerang searches for the words, searches for a way to start, and she leaves him to it. She leaves him to his thoughts and begins to focus on new things, like that first day they met and how things are so different between them now. It's something she never imagined would happen but it did, and it means something to her now.

It all means something to Tatsu now, and slowly she goes back to old memories. She goes back to memories of the prison and then to the city, and she finds herself remembering small pieces: his plush toy, the EAs, those times she saved his life, and how he fought beside them. Then after all of this, she remembers him on that night in the city.

We should grab a drink sometime.

"What, you're not curious? Not even a little?" he asks, half-smiling. "Shit, yer not even worried. Are you? Usually people lose their shit whenever someone says they need to talk to them."

She tilts her head back a little, watching him before she decides on what to say back to him.

"I'm not curious because I know what you're going to say." Tatsu says soon. "And I never lose my shit."

"Yeah, 'course you don't, darl. And, what? You read minds as well as trap souls?"

"Yes."

His smile slips now, just slightly. "See, it's hard to tell 'cos I'm pretty sure that's you making a joke. But usually when people make jokes they laugh or smile. Or show some emotion. But when you say it like that I can't tell, and it makes me think it's real so then all those thoughts I had about y—"

"What was your question, Captain?" she asks gently. "What did you need a minute to speak to me about before we left?"

In her memory his voice comes back to her again.

You got a boyfriend?

"Back at Belle Reve, did you know who he was?" Boomerang asks, minutes later. "That one who tried to get me. Did you know who he was and what he was doing?"

Tatsu turns to him more, eyes wider. "You're asking if I knew the prison was going to be infiltrated, and that in the process guards and inmates would be slaughtered—"

"Hey, no. Hang on. Just hang on a sec, darl." he says, quickly moving a hand to rest on her knee. "That's not what I mean at all. I swear it. That's not what I meant. So it's alright, yeah? I promise I didn't mean it that way."

She's quick to push his hand away. "Then what did you mean?"

"I was only curious, alright? I swear, I just wanted to know if you knew he wasn't one of the good ones. That he was tryin' to kill us, or grab us. Or whatever the fuck he was doing. That's really all I was asking, not that other thing. I swear it."

"No, I didn't know." Tatsu answers, then looks away. "I didn't know what his intentions were."

Besides her, he makes a low hum. It's quiet, barely audible. But she hears it and turns to look at him, and when she does she discovers that his face is soft again and he's now smiling at her.

"So you thought he was just some rando and you killed him?"

"Yes." Tatsu frowns. "Why are you smiling?"

There's a second where his hesitates, and his smile only grows. Then he leans in, much closer than he ever was before, and she thinks she should look away but she doesn't.

"You picked me."

She knows it's the truth, but the way he says it changes it. Tatsu doesn't know why it sounds different when it comes from him but it does, and it means more than she can think about right now.

"I knew he wasn't who he claimed to be."

"Yeah, but you didn't know he wasn't legit. Not really. Did you?" Boomerang counters, half a second later. "You didn't know what he was doing there, you just walked in and saw it. And you still picked me. You still saved me, didn't you?"

Then he smiles at her again, and she knows he isn't going to forget about this anytime soon.

"Yes, but I still knew that he wasn't a guard."

He shrugs. "Still, I'd say that's a pretty big gamble."

For a minute she considers leaving, or at least looking away from him, but she quickly finds that she can't do either. She wants to stay, so she does. Tatsu doesn't know why she wants to stay, or why his words mean something to her but they do and maybe that's why she doesn't want to leave yet.

"Why are you saying this now?" Tatsu asks him soon.

"Dunno. Guess it's just something to have a think on."

She eyes him off, only once. "But the way that you see it, the way you are saying it, isn't how it was. You're changing it."

"Well, how d'ya see it then? How is it? Why don't you enlighten me, luv?" he goes on, smiling a little again. "If it's not like that, then what is it? You saved me. So you picked me. I don't see how it can be any other way?"

"That is why I'm here. It is my job, to protect all of you."

Boomerang mostly looks surprised by her answer, then it fades away and turns into something else that she can't read. So she leaves it and watches as he glances her over, with something new clearly on his mind.

"So, what..That's all it was? Just you doing your job?"

No, she wants to say. Instead, she lies again.

"Yes."

He waits a second then gets up to his feet like he's going to leave, or maybe he's just going to take a small walk. He ends staying and turning back to look at her, and that's when she knows that this isn't over yet. He needs something from her. Tatsu doesn't know why, but she won't pretend like she doesn't know what it is he's looking for.

She saved his life and he needs it to mean something. He needs it to be more than a job, and she wishes she could tell him that it was more than that but she doesn't know how she can be honest with him about it when so far she hasn't been honest with herself about this thing growing between them.

There is nothing she can say, not here and not today.

"Alright, luv. If that's what you've gotta tell yourself, then you go ahead and do that. But you know what? For me what it means is that you like me." Boomerang tells her, taking a small step closer again. "You savin' my life tells me that all of this crap about you not liking me and us not being friends is all bullshit. You saved my life 'cos you like me and you were starting to enjoy our little chats just as much as I was."

It comes back to her in pieces. She thinks of Boomerang in the cell, bruised and bleeding. Then she remembers him out of his mind on the drugs they forced into him and for a moment she is close to asking him how he thinks she could enjoy those moments when she spent them so worried about him. But before she can even find the words to answer he starts to talk again.

"So? You got nothing to say? Nothing at all?"

She stands slowly, holding his gaze. "I saved your life because it's my job to keep you alive. All of you." Tatsu tells him. "I saved your life because it is what I was there to do. And because I didn't believe that it was your time to die."

Tatsu says this, that it was her job to save him, because it's the truth but it's only part of the truth. She says this when she means so many other things, like—I saved your life because it means something. I saved your life because there was no choice.

For a long time after this he's quiet again, and she doesn't know what he's thinking but she knows from the look in his eyes that he's lost. In the silence that passes it feels tense between them again, and Tatsu doesn't know if the tension has always been there but she's aware of it now. She feels it and she can't escape it, and when she looks up at Boomerang she knows he feels the same way.

"And that's all it ever was?" he asks soon, words low and strung out. "It was never 'cos you liked me or anything like that?"

She breathes in sharply. "Yes. That's all it was."

"Yeah? Okay, fair enough. If that's all it is to you, then that's all good. It really is. But I'm gonna need your help clearin' something up before we finish up here, 'cos I'm a little lost. You see, the thing is, before I left for the chopper Flag was trying to be all chatty with me." Boomerang pauses, eyes glancing over her slowly. "I reckon he was just tryin' to be chatty 'cos he wanted me to feel alright with these new guards. After a bit, we stared talkin' about you. Not much really, just about what would happen to you after you left the prison."

He doesn't have to say anything else after this for Tatsu to know what will follow. He knows the truth. Tatsu doesn't know how he does, but he knows that it was her choice to come here with him. And she knows there's no running from this, not that it feels like that was ever a choice.

"And it's weird 'cos Flag told me you were getting out. He said Waller didn't assign you to anything, that you were free to go. Then later when were on the chopper, you told me Waller assigned you to this. But she didn't. I wasn't gonna say anything but now it kinda feels like I have to because I feel like I'm missing something. You said you had no choice. Flag told me way back that you weren't even assigned to come with me. So, what? Why the lies, if it means nothing? Maybe you don't like me, but maybe you don't hate me as much as we both think you do."

Tatsu feels torn between what she wants to do and what she should do. She knows she should keep it as what it was always meant to be, as a job, a task to complete. He is an inmate she has been tasked with protecting and this is all it should have been, but somewhere between Midway City and this moment now something changed and it's not as simple as it was before.

"I don't hate you, George."

He still seems lost, it lingers in his eyes. 

"Then, what? Because you don't like me and you can't stand me. And it's all just a job to you. But then you saved my life a whole bunch of times, and I swear one time I made you almost smile. So what is it then, Katana? What's it mean? It's just—it's nothing?"

"I don't hate you." she tells him, what feels like hours later. "But I don't know what else you expect me to say."

Boomerang shrugs again. "Say whatever you want. You always do. And I like that about you. I just wanted..I dunno. Guess I wanted you to be honest 'cos I don't know where I stand with you sometimes and it's real hard not knowing."

She sighs and quickly looks away. "I protect you. I protect all of you. This is why I'm here."

"Mmm, alright. So what about the other stuff? The booze, and the visits to my cell? What about Pinky? You helped me, and just back there you let me help you. You even took off your mask in front me and you never did that before. So that's just a part of the job, yeah? You do all that with Croc and Harley too, huh?"

It's all it can be, she wants to say. It never comes out, and maybe it's because she can't say it, or maybe it's because it feels like it would be another lie. Maybe she doesn't want this to be all that it can be, and maybe that's why in the end she doesn't say it.

"Many have seen me without my mask. I don't hide behind it."

"But you wore it all those times you came to my cell. You never let me see you without it. Never really talked to me." Boomerang takes a step over now. "Didn't let me get close at all until now and I'm 'sposed to just believe it all means nothing?"

"It is only a mask." she tells him, when there is nothing else she can say. "We all wear them."

"Yeah. But it's different—"

"One minute, Aussie." a voice calls out from the road.

Boomerang's jaw tightens and he looks back over his shoulder. "Alright, boss. No problem, mate. One minute then we'll be there."

He turns back to her slowly after this, with so many different things lingering in his eyes. He says nothing at first, just holds out his hand, and that's when she spots the silver cuff dangling off his left wrist and she remembers why they're here and where they're going next.

Slowly his gaze follows hers, then he sighs.

"Would ya put 'em back on for me? I got my tricks an' all, but I can't get back into these things on my own."

She nods then gently reaches for his wrist, guiding it back into the cuff. After a moment she clicks it shut and looks up at him, while her mind takes her back to the moment in the cell. She remembers his hand lost in her hair. Tatsu remembers feeling lost, and she feels it again now. It's why she steps away slowly and then turns her back on him, wanting to give them both a moment to their thoughts.

He follows.

"Didn't mean to piss you off." he says, joining her side. "Was just—Look, I dunno. Shit's all messy. Guess I'm just trying to work it out."

"You didn't."

Boomerang hesitates briefly. "Then what is it? You seem pissed off or something. And I didn't mean to do that.."

She wants to look at him but she can't, so she doesn't. She looks ahead to the car, and when they reach it Tatsu opens the door and is ready to climb inside. But something stops her. She doesn't know why but she turns back to look at him, just for a moment.

"I'm not. I'm tired, that's all." she pauses. "And so are you. We both need our rest. That is all."

Once she climbs into the car, Boomerang follows her in and they say nothing else. He settles in beside her, while two other guards climb into the front of the car and join them. A moment slips by before Boomerang turns to look down at her, and as he does he looks like he wants to say something. Somehow she can already tell what it is even though he doesn't say a thing. His eyes tell her that he wishes it were just the two of them, but it isn't. So he says nothing and just leaves it, but she still thinks she knows what he was going to say.

Sorry, she imagines he was going to tell her. She knows from the way he's looking at her that he feels bad. He thinks he's upset her, or that she's angry, but she isn't. Tatsu isn't angry, she's just lost and she feels too weary to talk about all the things on his mind. It's why she tries to move on, she tries to think of other things, but somehow she ends up back at their conversation again.

Boomerang knows it was her choice to come with him. This is another thing that she catches lingering in his eyes. He wants to know why she lied, and then he wants to know why she chose to come with him at all, and Tatsu wishes she could give him those answers but she can't today. She's glad that he doesn't ask for them because she's really not sure she could give them.

In the end, she decides maybe it's better that he knows the truth. Maybe it's for the best that Flag told Boomerang that she was leaving, before he even thought of asking her to stay behind. Flag never intended for this to happen, but it did and maybe it will show Boomerang what she is willing to do for them. This is the last Tatsu lets herself think of it before she looks up at Boomerang, and when she does she finds him staring out of the window, light eyes stuck on the sky as the begin to move forward.

She watches him quietly, in a subtle way that allows her to look at him without making it obvious. She spends a minute watching him before her eyes wander down to his wrists, to the metal cuffs on him, and for a minute she can only think about how they look so restrictive on him. Then her eyes move further down, to his hands, to where his knuckles are red and cut open in places, and it means something to her. She finds that she wants to do something about it again, she wants to help him like she did in the cell and then again in the chopper. But she knows that it is different now and she can't help him like she did back then, so she decides to do something else for him.

Tatsu doesn't want to help him just because he helped her, it's not like that at all. There's no debt between them. It's more that she wants to show him the same kindness he showed her. She thinks back to his cell now, to the moments she spent wiping up the blood from his knuckles, and she starts to think about how it would have felt for him to go from having hands hurting him to showing him kindness. It takes her back to the chopper, to the way he was so gentle with her when he stitched and cleaned up her wound. And for a moment she can only wonder how a man whose life has been filled with violence can still have a gentle side.

It's why she tries to show him something gentle now. She doesn't overthink it, or let herself dwell on what it all means. Tatsu takes in a slow breath then leans against Boomerang's arm. She leans into him slowly, placing her head against his shoulder and closing her eyes a minute later. She waits for another minute, ready to rest, to sleep before they arrive at their destination, but before she falls asleep she hears him. Tatsu hears Boomerang let out a small sigh from next to her, then she feels his body relax just a little, and it's enough to let her know that this means something to him. It means that he's not alone and he feels comfortable now, maybe even calm. And to know this means more to her than she thought that it would.

It almost surprises her how much it means. She welcomes the calm feeling that comes with knowing he is here by her side. Tatsu feels calm again now and all that she wants is for Boomerang to feel the same. She doesn't know why she wants to give him this little moment but she does, and she's glad that she can. After everything that he's endured, he deserves this. She knows this with certainty, even if she doesn't really know what any of them deserve.

Tatsu begins to feel lost whenever she starts to think about what she deserves. Maybe she doesn't deserve anything good anymore, and maybe it's the same for Boomerang—but right now in this moment it feels like they deserve to relax, to feel calm, and to know that they're not alone. So for now, she lets them both have something good.

Chapter Text

The sky is dark and filled with tiny little stars by the time they reach their destination, and when they finally arrive there one of Tatsu's first thoughts is that it's not really what she imagined it would be. She's not sure what she imagined, but a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere wasn't exactly what she pictured when she thought about where they would be spending the next few days away from Belle Reve.

The land is shadowed by the night, so it's difficult to really see anything at all, but Tatsu can still make out a few things as they move slowly towards the house. There's a barn over to the far right, surrounded by a wooden fence, and around it there are tools and other little things that she can't recognize in the dark. To the right of the barn there's an old pick-up truck, and beyond that there's a field of wheat that looks as if it stretches on for as long as the field they were at earlier in the day.

This is all Tatsu is allowed to see before she is swiftly guided away from the car and over to the stairs at the front of the house. A large porch wraps around the old house, and along the front of it there are lots of plants and little ceramic pots filled with flowers. The house itself is large, with two levels and an attic, and it's covered in a faded shade of yellow. And once again, she really is only given a moment to look at all of this before she is urged to move on.

She follows Boomerang up the stairs, and watches him as he is led inside by his new best friend, Reggie, one of the guards he was chatting with when Tatsu woke up about twenty minutes before they arrived here. At the front of the group Porter leads the way inside, with Boomerang and Reggie close behind him. Tatsu listens faintly as Porter explains a few things to the two of them, but mostly her attention stays on the house as they move closer towards it. There's a swing on the front porch that is blue and covered in pretty yellow flowers, and along the windows there are little flowers growing out of painted pots. It looks nice, it looks homey, but she is given little time to look at it all before she is directed inside. She follows quietly, observing everything around her slowly.

Inside the house everything is bright and warm, and it oozes something that at first she can't describe with words. It feels like a home, this is what she soon realizes. It doesn't feel like a safe-house, it feels like a home, but maybe that's what it's supposed to look like. Her thoughts on this slip away soon as her attention is pulled to something else. On the walls around them there are brightly colored children's drawings and it stirs something deep in her chest to look at them. She lingers, but not for long. This time she's glad to be moved on. Soon she is led away by a guard, over to a door that Porter opens up on to a basement, and she finds that she's glad for the distraction that all of this gives her.

Porter stops at the door and turns back to Boomerang, waiting for him to go down the stairs. He just laughs.

"You kidding me, mate? I think not."

"Nope, this is no joke. This is where you'll be staying while you're here." Porter is quick to answer. "It's safer for you down here. Now why don't you go on down and have a look around?"

"How about no, mate? Put me in the barn, or out in the bloody field." Boomerang says, smiling as he takes a small step back. "I don't do basements. I'd rather be out there. We can pitch a tent, get a fire going. Make a weekend out of it. How 'bout that, mate? Sound like a plan?"

"This isn't your choice. George, come on. It's been a long day, hasn't it?" Porter sighs, then reaches out to clap a gentle hand against his shoulder. "Why don't you come on down? You can get some rest, and I'll grab you some shit to eat. If you're good, maybe I'll even get you some cigarettes. That sound good to you?"

She watches quietly as Boomerang barely considers Porter's offer. And she knows that he won't agree to it, even for cigarettes. She doesn't know why this is a problem for him, so in the end she just decides to go first. Tatsu moves swiftly down the stairs, making her way down them into the dark basement, and when she's almost at the last step Porter turns the lights on and everything around her suddenly becomes clear.

The stairs are old and gray, but look sturdy enough. She walks down them quickly, one hand bouncing lightly along the railing before she gets to the last step and moves down into the basement. Her first thought is that it's much bigger than she thought it would be. She imagines it would feel much bigger and nicer if there were more windows down here, or if the two windows weren't just tiny little squares up so high that she can't imagine how a breeze could ever slip through them.

Tatsu doesn't know why it disappoints her but it does. She dreamed of wide open windows in a large, peaceful room, and instead she gets this. It could be worse, she reminds herself of this twice, before she moves on and lets her gaze wander slowly across the rest of the room.

Behind her on the stairs she hears footsteps and knows that they're coming down to join her, so she takes a few steps forward while she lets herself focus more on the little details of the room. Over by the wall, across from the last step, there's a small wooden table with three black chairs around it. The table is pressed to the wall, and on it there are a few empty glasses and a tiny vase she imagines was once filled with flowers. It's empty now, filled with pens and straws. She looks past it and over to the small kitchen counter-tops just a few steps away from the table. There are only two counters down here and one of them is fitted with a sink, but it's enough for a basement. It's much more than she thought they would have here.

She quickly moves on again and over to the tub in the corner of the room. It's covered by a curtain for the moment, but when she takes a step towards it she can see the tub and shower inside it, and she's at least relieved that they have this. It only holds her attention for a few seconds and then she moves on again, listening faintly to Porter again as he talks about what they're allowed to have down here and what will happen next. She can only really think about the room and how it suddenly doesn't feel so big anymore.

In the middle of the basement there's a long gray couch that's covered with a few blankets and three pillows. Beside the couch there's a bookshelf that's half-filled with books, and a small table with magazines and a pack of cards resting on it. As she walks through the basement more, Porter continues talking and now she listens, picking up pieces of what he says: the two of them will stay down here, the guards will rotate shifts at the house, Porter will always be at the house, and most of the guards will stay out on watch or in the barn. He talks about this for a while, then shares a little about the man who owns this place and how he's sheltered witnesses before.

Whatever comes after this, she doesn't hear. Tatsu is lost in the room, and in the way she feels right now. Her eyes wander to the dresser by the wall, and she is left thinking about how badly she wants to feel clean again. She only spends a moment looking at it, before she turns her attention to the last thing in the room. The king-size bed, placed between the bookshelf and the dresser, and as she looks at it she quickly begins to think about how soft and comfortable it looks. At the end of the bed there are two towels, a medical kit, and a pile of clothes that she assumes are for the two of them. Some look like they could fit her, but most of them look far too small for him.

Tatsu is over by the bed, about to open up the medical kit to look through it, when she feels Porter's hand on her shoulder and she quickly spins around. Her eyes dart between him and Boomerang, before she looks back to Porter.

"You catch all of that, Katana?" he asks.

She nods once. "Yes. Was there anything else?"

"Nope. There's nothing else. Get showered, clean up, and get some rest." Colonel Porter says, then turns to Boomerang. "And don't piss her off. Don't piss anyone off. Just be good, okay? You think you can manage that?"

Boomerang scoffs a little. "Yeah, sure. No worries, mate. Shouldn't be a problem. But hey, what about those cigs?"

"Shower. Clean up. Get some dinner. Then I'll grab you some cigarettes. But you have to earn them, and if you screw up then you lose them. Got it?"

"Got it, boss." he grins. "I'll be on my best behavior."

Porter smiles back. "We'll see."

"And whiskey?" Tatsu asks. "Is there whiskey?"

"For you? Yes. For him? I'll think on it." Porter says, as he stops by the end of the stairs. "First, take care of yourselves. Get set up. We'll do the same. Be nice to each other and I'll see what I can pull together. And listen, George: if you're good to us then we'll be good to you. It's gotta go both ways."

"Sure thing, boss."

Tatsu lets out a small sigh as she watches Porter turn away. He follows the stairs up to the door again, and the guards that were waiting on the stairs for him leave after he does. And when he's gone it leaves just the two of them alone again. The door clicks shut from the outside a minute later and she is reminded of where they are and why they are here. Tatsu lets out another deeply held sigh, then takes a step back to lean against the side of the stairs.

Her thoughts soon lead her back to earlier, to the view she had only hours ago and the way the sun felt against her skin. She thinks of it now as she looks back at the tiny windows on the wall, and quietly she tries to imagine that she is somewhere else. She imagines that she is somewhere by an ocean, and for a moment she can almost feel the waves curling around her feet. It all feels so real that she almost believes it.

But it isn't real. She isn't by the beach, she is here with him, and when she looks back at him shortly she discovers that he's taking in all the little details of the room just like she is. Boomerang is over by the bookshelf, head tilted to the side to look at the books piled up on it. She watches him briefly then looks back to the stairs, to the bag he left there, and she feels curious about what's in there but she doesn't ask right away.

Tatsu ends up turning back to the medical kit instead. She walks to the bed slowly, then opens it up and takes a brief look inside through its contents: bandages, rolls of tape, ice-packs and antiseptic creams. It relieves her to know they have this much, and after she is done looking through the kit she eases herself down on to the edge of the bed and moves a hand to her side.

It feels better now but it still aches. It all does. She looks away and over to the windows, and after a minute she feels Boomerang's gaze on her and she looks back to him.

"You reckon if I gave you a boost that you could squeeze through one of them?" Boomerang asks, then turns back to the windows. "Then we could do a runner and go find somewhere better. How 'bout that?"

She doesn't know why she almost smiles but she does. Maybe it's the image in her head of Boomerang trying to fit through one of those tiny windows, or maybe it's just what he brings out in her. Tatsu gets up from the bed soon, still quietly thinking his words over. She gets lost somewhere between thoughts of tonight and all of the days they might have to spend here, and then she begins to think about the last time she shared a space with someone else and she decides to distract herself with him again.

"You wouldn't fit. You would get stuck." Tatsu says, turning to face him. "Your big head would not fit through the space."

Boomerang laughs, as he visibly relaxes in front of her.

"Ouch. Low blow, darl. Guess that one time I called you funny really got to yer head, huh? Your small, tiny, little head."

She turns away, back to the bed, to the medical kit on it, and she almost smiles again. It's so close to slipping through that she's glad that she has a moment to look away. Then she looks back at him, glancing over her shoulder at where Boomerang is now standing by the couch, reaching out to feel the fabric of the blankets and the pillows. It's only now that she realizes how small the couch is compared to him, and how he really isn't big enough to sleep on it. That means he gets the bed. She really doesn't care, the couch is big enough for her. She will just be glad to finally get some sleep.

"It is sad when you try use what I said against me." she pauses. "And when you use three words that mean the same thing to do so..I don't think it is funny then."

Boomerang only smiles more, and as his gaze lingers on her in the quiet she finds that there is something sweet about it.

"That was an insult, yeah? Well I don't really care 'cos you're cute and I know ya like me." he says, then looks back to the windows. "But for real though, do you think you could? I reckon you could. Yer small enough. We could go somewhere nice. If you got tired, I could carry you around on my back for a bit. It'd be easy. I bet we'd have a good time."

Once again, Tatsu almost smiles at him. And she thinks maybe it's the image in her mind of Boomerang trying to squeeze through that little window. Maybe it's even the image that comes to her next, of him carrying her around on his back. Or maybe it's also the way that he's so obviously trying to make things lighter for both of them. She's not really sure what it is, she just knows that she appreciates his efforts more than she can say.

"I could get through the window on my own." she ends up saying. "I wouldn't need you for the boost."

He hums quietly as he begins to walk over to the kitchen.

"Yeah, probably not. And that still doesn't fix our problem of me not bein' able to fit through. I guess this place isn't so bad, you know, for a basement."

Tatsu slowly begins to walk over to where he is, feeling as if she should be closer now. She is also curious about this and about him.

"You fought aliens. And a basement makes you feel..uncomfortable?"

He half-smiles. "How 'bout we talk about other things, yeah? Like where's the TV? Or the booze? Or this hot water Flag said we were gonna have?"

Half a second later she walks over and tugs back the curtain, to reveal the porcelain tub and the metal shower inside. At the end of the tub, a few feet away, there's a toilet and a little sink. It's almost like a small apartment, the way everything is in the one room, and it makes her think of Gotham. It makes her almost want to be there now, but she knows if she had a choice to go back and change things that she wouldn't.

She would still choose to be here, she would always choose to be here. It just makes her think of her apartment in Gotham, and then it makes her think of his cell and how this is so much bigger. She knows that it probably feels so much nicer, too. She imagines right now he feels lucky to have all of this to himself for at least a few days, and she knows he isn't going to risk it or throw it away over a chance to escape that would never work.

"You're not allowed electronics. They think it is too dangerous." she answers slowly. "You build things. You create your boomerangs, don't you? You are too much of a risk with things you could pull apart and build with. So you are not allowed a TV, or anything you could use to create a weapon."

He barely spends a minute thinking about it.

"Don't see how that's fair."

"You have other things, don't you?" Tatsu says, gaze stuck on him again. "You have a bed. Food. Possibly cigarettes. You are lucky you are alive, and to have these things. Aren't you?"

"Yeah, alright. Guess you're right about that."

There's a pause, where Boomerang takes a step closer to her. He glances her over in a way that really isn't subtle at all, but there's never really anything subtle about him anyway. His eyes seem to be brighter when he next looks up at her, and he really doesn't hide his smile well at all.

"You plannin' on sharing some whiskey with me if Porter finds it?" he asks. "We finally gonna have that drink?"

His eyes feel heavier on her than they ever have before and she doesn't know why, but she does know what her answer is going to be. Yes, she wants to share it with him. Yes, they will have that drink. Yes, yes, yes. She looks away, stuck on thoughts of whiskey and the way Boomerang is watching her right now.

"I don't know." she says, then turns away. "You should use the shower. You are hurt and you need to clean yourself up."

"Nah, you go first. I'm alright." Boomerang is quick to answer. "Just gonna sit here for a bit and chill. That alright with you?"

Tatsu nods, then glances over to him a minute later to find him sitting on the edge of the couch. One hand pressed to his side, the other scratching gently along his jaw. She knows she should clean herself up, that she should leave and take care of her wounds, but for a minute more she can't leave him.

"You think other people lived here before?" he asks soon.

Tatsu nods again. "Yes. Other witnesses."

"I guess there are worse places to be. And I guess we're lucky this time it was up to Flag and not Waller."

Lucky. The word feels strange again, for both of them. Tatsu leaves it and turns away, walking quickly over to the dresser to search for clean clothes. She searches through it until she finds what she wants to wear. Her clothes need to be cleaned and then they will need time to dry, so she needs something to wear for the night. She needs something to wear while she rinses the blood out of her clothes, and that's why she takes her time looking for the right thing. And then she finds it. Tatsu finds a baggy black t-shirt, that is soft and looks comfortable, and it's long enough that it will go past her knees and that's all she needs for tonight. She places it with her towel, retrieves clean underwear from the dresser, then turns her attention to the medical kit at the end of the bed.

Tatsu only spends a moment there, setting aside all the things she'll need after her shower, and when she's done she starts by removing her weapons. She puts Soultaker on the top of the dresser, next to her smaller blades. Her mask ends up there, too. And after she spends a minute staring at her things on the top of the dresser, she looks away and begins to remove her jacket.

It comes off easily, and when it does she searches it over for blood. There are a few spots on the side of the jacket, so she takes it to the sink in the kitchen and uses the water to scrub out the blood. While she does this Boomerang stays on the couch, silent and still. He's never been this quiet before, but she says nothing. She leaves it and focuses on the blood running out of her jacket. It fades away slowly, and soon it is gone and she leaves to hang her jacket off the railing on the stairs.

She returns for her towel and clothes after this, and once she's collected them she looks back at Boomerang to find him fiddling with a long piece of string at the end of his shirt. Just like before she knows she should go, that she should take care of herself, but she spends one more minute with him anyway.

"What's in your bag?" Tatsu asks quietly. "Clothes? Some of your things?"

Now Boomerang looks up, nodding slowly at her.

"Yeah, mostly clothes. It's not all mine. Flag grabbed most of this shit for me while I got dressed into these things." he pauses, gesturing to the uniform. "Guess he was just lookin' out for me or something like that, 'cos I doubt there's anything here that's gonna fit me."

She waits, then steps away. "I won't be long."

"It's all good, really. I'm glad to just be sitting down. I'm in no rush, darl. Take all the time you need."

Tatsu spares one last look at him then walks over to the table, to the spot where she decides to leave her clothes until she's showered and ready for them. Then she walks over to the shower and pulls the curtain across, leaving a small space for her to stand and undress between the tub and the pale shower curtain. She starts by hanging her towel off the rack on the wall by the sink, and then she slowly starts to undress.

She begins by sitting on the edge of the tub and loosening the laces on her boots. It takes a while, mostly because her body aches now and it is all she can focus on. But there is no rush, so she takes care of herself and focuses on wiggling her feet out of her boots. When she is done her long black boots end up placed by the sink, underneath her towel. She leaves them there for later. The next thing to go is the red sash tied around her waist. Tatsu removes it slowly, then folds it up and places it in the spot next to her boots. Her finger-less black gloves are then pulled out of her pocket and placed with the sash, and after all of this is done she is free to remove the pale wrap from around her chest.

She sits on the edge of the tub again and takes her time unwinding the wrap until it is off, and when it's in her hands she leaves and places it with all of her other belongings on the floor. This leaves her with one more thing to take off. It leaves her in her black pants, and once they are gone she is left to think about how the only thing between her and Boomerang now is a thin shower curtain.

Tatsu tries not to think about it, or how quiet it suddenly is, and she focuses on the tub instead. She leans over into the tub, quickly turning on the hot water so it will warm up. Then she steps back and waits, and as she waits her gaze slips down to her naked and pale body. She can't help the way her eyes roam over her wounds and old scars, or how her gaze lingers on the spots of blood sticking to her body. She didn't realize she was covered in so much blood until now, and now that she sees it all that she wants is to be rid of it.

She wants to forget, to look away, but she can't. Her eyes move across the blood along her knuckles, to the dry patches stuck to the inside of her wrist and her palm where Boomerang held on, where she still feels his grip even now.

And there's more blood on her face, too. Tatsu knows it is there, she just hasn't looked in a mirror yet. She's almost glad for that. She looks away from her wrist soon and down to her ribs, to the stitches there and the blood smeared down further, on her stomach and thighs, and suddenly she can't look at it anymore so she looks away and steps into the tub.

The porcelain tub is narrow and feels small, but warm water spills out of the thin shower-head so she doesn't care about how anything else feels. She only cares about this. She steps into the shower completely and quickly lifts her hands to the stream of water, watching as the water spills along her palms and slowly begins to rinse the blood away. She watches it for a moment then looks up and begins to scrub the blood off her skin. There's soap in the shower and two clean cloths hanging off the edge of the tub that she could use, but for now Tatsu uses her hands to wipe away most of the blood. She steps back under the heavy stream of water and uses her hands to rinse away the blood from her shoulders, collarbone, and arms. It comes away slowly, and when she's done with that she spends a minute scraping away the blood dried underneath her fingernails.

It's been a long day. Too long. She doesn't know how much blood is hers, Cooper's, or theirs. She doesn't know. Tatsu closes her eyes slowly and takes a minute to just stand there under the water, to let it soak into her skin and rinse the day away. She spends a few minutes there but she knows she needs to wash, so does she. She moves on and quickly begins to clean up her stomach and thighs, and when that's done she works carefully at washing her side, under and around her ribs. She makes sure to take care of her wounds, and when she's clean enough she turns her back to the shower again and lets the water run down her spine.

Minutes pass by before she tilts her head back to let the stream of water really reach her, and for a moment it feels better. It isn't soothing, not in the way she imagined it would be, but it feels better. She feels clean, and maybe that's the same thing as feeling better. If not, maybe it's just as good.

Time slips by slowly, and Tatsu doesn't really know how long she spends there before she picks up the soap and washes herself. She works quickly at this, and when she is finished the last thing she does is tip her head back under the stream. The warm water rinses her hair clean of all of that blood and sweat, and she's glad for that. But it still hurts. There's a spot at the back of her head where it stings and she remembers why it's there. It hurts her side too, when she stretches back too far or moves a certain way that her body doesn't like. So she steps out of the water soon, turns off the water, and reaches for her towel to wrap around her tired body.

Once she's out of the tub and mostly dry she finds herself longing to get back in. She wants to get back under the water, or to even just fill the tub and float in it for a while. Tatsu imagines it would feel nice to fill the tub, climb inside, and spend an hour floating in it and imagining that she is somewhere else. She lets go of the thought quickly though and focuses on wrapping the towel around her body. She is gentle and fast, and when she is done she steps over to the side to pick up her belongings. Then she pulls back the curtain and carries her belongings back into the little space.

Tatsu finds Boomerang still sitting on the couch when she steps out of the shower. He isn't as settled as he was before, and he really doesn't look comfortable anymore. When she walks past him to put her clothes on the edge of the bed, she looks back to find him searching through his bag of things for something to wear. He looks up quickly after he hears her walk by, and his gaze is probably more obvious than he intends for it to be when he looks at her. Or maybe he means to be this obvious. She doesn't know. She is left to think about this as Boomerang watches her, just for a second. He quickly looks away, glancing back down to the bag by his feet, and that's when she decides that he didn't mean to be so obvious. 

And then she turns away, to look through the med kit on the bed, and for a minute she imagines that Boomerang is looking at her again. She imagines that he is watching her now, and that his gaze is traveling across her legs, to her damp hair, and the water dripping down her back. She is still as she imagines his gaze, and then minutes later he speaks and she begins to look through the kit on the bed again.

"Feel better?" he asks.

His voice is softer now, and he sounds different. Tatsu hums a quiet reply, another yes, while she turns to look at him. She meets his gaze for a second then walks over to her fresh clothes on the table, but halfway there she is reminded of the stinging gash on her back and she stops. She doesn't know what it looks like or if it needs stitches, so she returns to the bed and begins to look through the supplies left there.

Over by the couch, Boomerang speaks up again and she doesn't know why she welcomes the sound of his voice this time but she does.

"Need some help?" 

When she looks back to him she discovers that he's finished looking through his bag now, and everything is neatly packed away and pushed to the side. Her gaze lingers on the bag curiously and then it moves over to the small pile of clothes near him, but she soon leaves those thoughts for later and she looks to him, nodding once. She walks to him slowly after this, carrying the bandage in one hand and keeping the towel tied around her with the other.

"There is a wound on my back. I can't see it." she says, then turns around. "Does it need to be stitched?"

Boomerang is quiet for a second after this, she doesn't know why and she doesn't ask. She only knows that he is quiet and she is aware of it, just as she is still aware of that same tension between them. It's different now. She tries to think of other things, but with the way that her body hurts right now it is easier to think of the tension than to think of the pain.

She ends up thinking about the wound on her back instead. She doesn't really remember how it came to be there,  she just remembers feeling it after it happened. And she feels it now. Tatsu takes a breath and waits, as she feels Boomerang come up behind her. He's so close now that she can feel him there, and when she turns her head and looks slightly over her shoulder she can see him standing there, eyes stuck on her shoulder, head tilted just a little to the side to look at the wound.

Tatsu doesn't linger, but he does. He lifts a hand to her back, brushing a thumb lightly over the skin below the graze. Then he lets it fall away and she finds that she wants to ask him so many things: why are you so gentle? why are you so close? why did you stop? 

She closes her eyes and waits, feeling that same tension, as he clears his throat to speak again.

"Nah, it looks alright. Just needs a bandage, that's all. But it looks good apart from that."

After this, there's a second where he lingers. He stays close, and Tatsu can feel him there. She feels his body right behind hers. His hand, ghosting across her shoulder. Then he moves away and over to the bed, where he picks up a towel, slings it over his shoulder, the looks through the kit until he finds the antiseptic cream. Boomerang walks back over after this, taking the same spot beside her as he observes the wound for a minute before gently patting it dry. He is more gentle than she imagined he would be, and she doesn't know why this continues to surprise her but it does. When he's done, he places the bandage gently over the gash and takes a half-step back.

Boomerang doesn't linger for long this time. He walks away when he's done and goes over to the sink where he starts to wash his hands under the cool water. Tatsu leaves him to this while she gathers her things and carries them back to the shower. She pulls the curtain shut and dresses quickly. It doesn't take her long to pull on her clean underwear and the soft black t-shirt that feels nice against her sore skin. It's much longer than it looked at first glance, and once it's on it hangs just above her knees. It's enough for now, she decides, as she rolls the sleeves of the shirt up to her forearms, then pulls the curtain back and returns to the basement.

He's still over by the sink when she returns, and she doesn't know why but the room suddenly feels much smaller than it did before. Tatsu tries to ignore it while she spends a minute outside of the tub, drying her hair with a towel while her gaze slowly drifts back up to him. And this time, the Captain seems to have no problem with letting his eyes wander over her in an obvious way. In fact, he looks proud of it and when he's done looking he looks back at her with that look she's seen on his face before.

This she can't ignore.

"Hey, look at you. You scrub up alright. Don't you?" Boomerang grins slowly. "Listen, you need any more of my help? I dunno what you need. But I know I'm pretty handy when I wanna be. Could be fun?"

"No, I don't need your help." she says, as she walks over to the bed. "You need to clean yourself up. If you need my help, I will be here."

Now he's the one who stays quiet this time. Boomerang nods a little and finishes up what he's doing at the sink, while Tatsu moves her boots and gloves away from the bed. She places them on the floor by the dresser, and leaves everything else on the bed for the moment because it still needs to be washed. From the corner of her vision she watches as Boomerang stays around for just a minute more, before he picks up his towel and clothes and carries them to the shower. Minutes later she hears the water turn on and when she looks back over her shoulder she realizes that the curtain is only half shut.

From her spot by the bed she watches silently as Boomerang starts to lift his shirt up over his head. His back stays to her as he works slowly on tugging off his shirt. Soon it's gone and discarded to the side, and after it's gone he is left standing there, half-naked as he stares down at himself. And as he stays there, Tatsu can only think about the way he looks from here and how—

A second later the curtain is pulled open and Boomerang reappears in search of something in the room. But when he sees her, when he realizes where her gaze was, he smiles. He glances himself over then walks closer to her, still wearing those ridiculously tight prison pants, with that same wide and silly grin plastered across his face.

"Oh, yeah? You like what you see, luv?" he grins, slowly walking closer to her. "You want a closer look at the goods? That it? Well, alright. Be my guest. I'm not shy. Just tell me what you want. I'll give it to ya."

Tatsu quickly glances away, then sits on the edge of the bed to sort through her clothes. Her red sash is mostly clean, but she decides to wash it a little anyway. She can't really focus on it though, not with Boomerang here with her, so she places the red sash aside and looks up to find him still waiting there. Still smiling at her.

"You look ridiculous."

He takes a step closer. "Really? C'mon, let's be real. That's seriously what you're thinking about right now?"

"Yes. It is. And these goods you mention don't interest me." Tatsu says quickly. "I also think one would need to look very closely to find these goods you boast about. And maybe then they would still have no luck finding them."

It takes him a moment to get it, but he quickly brushes off the insult. He's too focused on this to care about anything else 

"Right, 'cos I'm sure you'd look better in these than I do. Actually, yeah, you might. But right, I'm sure you were havin' a look 'cos you think I look ridiculous and not 'cos you were checking me out or anything."

Tatsu moves to stand and then turns away.

"Did you need something?"

He hums happily. "Yeah, just a clean towel." 

She picks it up and throws it at his head, but he grabs it easily and laughs, and she knows why. He is still too focused on what he thinks she was doing to care about anything else. And maybe that is what she was doing. Maybe she was just looking. 

"Good throw. Thanks, darl. And hey, listen, if you need anything..Or if you just feel like cleanin' up again, then you know where to find me. I could sure use the company. It's a bit crammed in the tub but I reckon it'd be real nice and cozy."

Then he follows it with that same bright smile of his and she is left to stare blankly at him, while trying to convince herself that it means nothing when something quiet in her heart reminds her that it does. His smile lingers, before it grows even wider, and for a moment all that she wants to know is how he can be so happy when he is so bruised and so bloody.

He leaves before she can really think about it, or about him. Boomerang turns away, grinning as he steps back over to the shower. Tatsu waits then turns away, focusing back on the clothes in front of her that still need to be cleaned. She spends a minute searching her pants for any stains of blood from the battle, and as she does she listens in the quiet as Boomerang tugs the shower curtain shut. It makes her think of him, and she is too tired to fight these thoughts so she lets them in.

A moment slips by and she turns back to look at the shower, and that's when she finds Boomerang waiting outside of the shower, smiling at her. She doesn't get it at first, and then she does.

It was a trick.

"Ah, see! I gotcha, luv. I gotcha real good." he beams, laughing sweetly. "Knew you wanted to have another look. Shit, can't believe I was right. And hey, for real though, If you wanted to look so bad all you had to do was ask me and—"

It takes less than a second to grab her boot and throw it at his head. It almost hits him. Boomerang just catches it, and after he does he laughs and throws it over to the couch.

"A-lright, I got it. Don't worry, yeah? I think got the hint, and I'm go for real now." he says, holding up one hand defensively. Then he places it over his chest. "But hey, it's sweet to know you think of me when I'm not there. It's real sweet, luv. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside."

She doesn't know why it takes her back, but it does. Back to the prison, back to that little moment between them when their time ran out. Was over too soon. Wasn't it? Already missin ya, he told her what feels like so long ago. And still, it lingers. It's deep in me, luv. In my chest. You know what that means?

Tatsu draws in a breath, eyes stuck on Boomerang as her stays out in the basement for half a second more. Then he leaves her, tugging the curtain shut with a smile, and after he leaves she is left to her thoughts again. Thoughts of that day, and of this moment, and everything in-between. She thinks of him still as she retrieves her boot from the couch and places it back with the other, and then she returns to search her pants for any spots of blood from the battle. They're only bloody in a few places, so she takes them to the sink to wash away the stains. After they're clean she hangs them on the stairs, above her jacket, and she returns to the sink to clean her pale wrap.

Through it all, his voice stays with her.

Maybe it means ya just have to come back again and see me. 'Cos then, it might help me feel better.

Once her wrap is clean, Tatsu returns to the sink to wash her hands again. She's not sure how long she stays there, rinsing her hands and scrubbing away blood that may not even be there, when she hears the water stop in the shower. In the silence that follows, she listens as Boomerang climbs out of the shower. He takes a moment inside, behind the curtain, then he tugs it open and walks out with just a towel wrapped loosely around his waist. She notices immediately the way that he's walking now, and how he's left all of his clothes behind for the moment.

Boomerang walks halfway across the room, to his bag by the couch, but he stops before he gets there and lets out a heavy sigh. Now she turns to him, watching closely, because even before he says a word she can still read him and she knows that something is wrong.

"Did we get the cigs yet? Or the whiskey?"

He knows the answer already, so she says nothing at first and just watches him. She watches as he drags a tired hand across his jaw, and then moves to rest it by his side. He's in pain. He's tired, and the pain is getting worse, and it's all catching up to him now. She knows what it feels like, and she knows that he needs something to feel better. He wants whiskey and cigarettes, and she decides that once she spends a minute talking to him then she will go and get those things for him.

"Ah, fuck." he mutters, looking away briefly. "Shit. These bruises are gonna be here for a while, ay?"

"You're in pain?" Tatsu takes a step closer. "How bad is it?"

Boomerang fixes a half-smile on his lips, but she reads through it easily. She watches as he shrugs then turns away, walking over to the bed where he soon ends up sitting down. He eases himself down on to the edge of the bed slowly, then runs his hand over his face and back through his hair. Her eyes stay on him longer than she means for them to and he catches her watching, but he isn't in the mood that he was before and she knows why. 

"How bad is it?" she repeats, needing to know.

"Nah, luv. It's alright, really. I've had worse." Boomerang tells her. "Doesn't matter. I'm sweet. All good, luv. Nothing to worry about, okay? You just take care of yourself. I'll be good."

More lies. 

Tatsu looks down to his side, to the place where his hand is resting, and then she looks over at his knuckles and the bruises on his skin, and she knows that he isn't fine. This is her job, to take care of him, to keep him alive. It's more than that. Her eyes wander up higher soon, up to the bruises and marks on his face, and she starts to think about how they happened. She starts to imagine the pain he was in when it happened, and then she thinks about what he must be feeling now, and she knows she has to do something about it. She wants to do something about it. She wants to help him.

"That isn't what I asked." she says. "I asked how the pain was. I didn't ask if you'd had worse. So how is the pain?"

"It's really not too bad, luv."

"Your back is bleeding, I can see it from here. And I am aware of the injuries you have over your body. They are obvious and they do not look good, especially the ones to your face. You do not need to lie. You are not very good at it anyway. So the truth, this time?"

Boomerang smiles slowly, and the warmth floods his features for a second. She is almost lost in it.

"Shit. You really know how to make a bloke feel good about himself."

"I'm not here for that." she says, wrapping her arms around herself. "I am here to keep you alive. This means that I have to take care of you. So tell me, how is the pain? And do you need the cigarettes and whiskey now?"

For a second there's something different to him. It's in his eyes. It slips away and she doesn't chase it. She doesn't linger on the thought because she needs to be here, she needs to be focused on taking care of his wounds, because this is what he needs.

"Yeah, it's not real great." he admits soon. "And whiskey couldn't really make it worse, could it?"

Her eyes search him again for his wounds, but she gets caught on his scars and then on the tattoos now visible to her. She's seen them before, she doesn't know why it's only now that she thinks about them and what they mean. It's another thought that she doesn't chase after it slips away, because right now he needs her help. 

"Stay here, I will be right back." Tatsu says, then takes a step over to the stairs. "While I'm gone, don't do anything stupid. And do not touch any of my things. I will know if you do."

"Yeah, no worries. It's not gonna be a problem. I'm never gonna piss you off, 'cos I don't wanna end up in that thing." Boomerang pauses, then calls out after her. "Hey, Katana? Before you go...One more thing?"

She stops on the third step. "What?" 

A deep, almost serious look flickers across his face for a moment. Then he moves, pushing himself to sit on the edge of the bed, and she can't stop the way her eyes linger on the spot above his hip where the towel slips away. She looks for another second then glances back at him, waiting to hear what it is he has to say.

"There was on more thing, if you wanted to help me like you said.."

"Yes." she nods once. "What is it?"

"Dunno. I just feel like—you know, it's been so long. But it's not just that. It's more like..Seeing everything you did for me today, everything you did for us." Boomerang pauses, as a grin slips through. "And with you, wearing that, and looking the way you do. Feel like I could use a hug, you know? Or like a good-bye kiss for old times sake? Maybe we could fool around a bit, if yer up for it—"

"Do you want the cigarettes or not?"  

"Yeah, 'course I do." he smiles back at her fondly. "But, still..It was worth a shot. Wasn't it, luv?"

Tatsu spends one more minute there watching him before she turns away and walks up the stairs, to fetch him whiskey and cigarettes. And maybe she's getting it for herself too, because it feels like if she's going to make it through the night then she's going to need all of the whiskey that she can get.

Chapter Text

Boomerang's eyes are wide and filled with awe when Tatsu returns to him, carrying a cup of whiskey and a lit cigarette. It's all that she could get for him, all that Porter would give them for now, and at first she thought it would disappoint the Captain, but he is far from disappointed. He is happy. She can see it in his eyes, and in the way he looks between her and the whiskey in her hand. He is thankful, and so happy, and he is smiling at her in a way that is tensely warm and thankful, and it leaves Tatsu feeling as if she needs a drink herself. She decides to wait though, knowing that he needs it more than she does.

Tonight he has to come first. Everything else will wait until later, after he's patched up and resting. Then she will have her drink.

"Shit." Boomerang sighs, sitting forward on the bed. "You know what you are?"

She thinks of a few answers but she is too tired to voice any of them. So she simply shakes her head to let him know she hears his question and then she walks over to where he's sitting on the bed. He looks uncomfortable there, but now with his whiskey and his cigarette he looks happy. Too happy for someone who is in the pain that he's in right now. She stops in front of him and places the cup on the night-stand, and then comes back over and hands him the cigarette. Boomerang takes it slowly, fingers brushing against hers as he slides it between his index finger and thumb.

"I reckon you must be some kind of angel."

Tatsu turns away, almost smiling as she walks to the other side of the bed and sits down by the med kit. There, she opens it up and starts to search through it for all of the things that she will need to help him. Boomerang is wounded and he needs her help, he needs her because there's no one else and he can't do this for himself. Not when he's like this and not when he's so tired. So she will do it for him, and not just because he helped her but because she wants to.

"Did you hit your head while I was gone?" she answers belatedly, glancing up at him. "Or at Belle Reve?"

From where she is sitting on the bed, her view of Boomerang is clear and not yet noticed by him. It gives her a chance to look over the small wounds on his back without him noticing it yet. She doesn't look for long though and glances back at him, watching as he starts to smile again.

"Nah, just thinkin' logically. You must be somethin' else, 'cos shit never works out this good for me. Not 'till you came around.."

It is whiskey in plastic cup, she thinks, still watching him quietly. It is something small, just a cup of whiskey and a cigarette, and he is still so thankful for it. She says nothing and just continues searching through the kit, until a few minutes later Boomerang speaks again and brings her attention back to him.

"Really appreciate this, darl."

Tatsu hums, glancing down at the supplies in front of her for another minute. She focuses on setting aside the things she'll need to help him and after she's done she looks back to him. She looks back to his old scars and fresh marks from today's fight at the prison. He got himself into trouble, today and all of those other days. He always does. She is used to that, and used to seeing him like this, but still it means something to her even after all of those times.

"It's fine." Tatsu says, moving the kit aside. "There is a wound to your back that needs to be stitched. May I?"

"Yeah, of course." he nods, quick to answer. "Do what you gotta do, darl. I don't mind. I'm happy here."

She hesitates, staring at the wound for longer than she means to. It looks painful, like the wound he stitched for her, and she knows that it will hurt him. She also knows that delaying the pain will not stop him from feeling it, but for another moment she stays on the edge of the bed, wanting to talk to him and give him a small distraction before they begin.

"Can you sit still while I stitch the wound?"

Slowly he glances back over his shoulder at her. "Don't I always?"

Tatsu lifts an eyebrow. "That is..A joke?"

He smiles again, as the lit cigarette dangles from his lips. Then he reaches it out and offers it to her, and after considering it she takes it. Tatsu slips the cigarette between her fingers, inhales slowly, then passes it back to Boomerang. She wants whiskey, she's wanted it since Belle Reve, but for now this will be enough.

"Yeah." he says, then hesitates. "I thought it was."

"Just sit still."

The Captain nods before he turns away again, reaching for the whiskey by the bed. She leaves him to it, leaves him to his drink, while she climbs onto the bed and makes her way over to where he's sitting. The bed dips a little underneath her weight but barely moves. He doesn't notice it at all, he doesn't notice a thing.

Tatsu stops when she's close enough that she can clean up and stitch his wounds. She stops there, kneeling on the bed as she leans back on her heels to really take in his injuries and decide what she needs to take care of when she's done stitching the wound to his shoulder. As her eyes travel across the scars and marks on his back, she ends up slowly becoming consumed with questions.

What is that scar from? How did that bruise happen? What is that tattoo for?

In the quiet between them, she feels overcome with a rush of curiosity about Boomerang. It leads her to the realization that she's curious because she wants to know about him. It's not because she needs to know, or because she has to know for a task or a mission. She wants to know more because she is curious. It's just that tonight isn't the night to ask, so she leaves it and reaches for the cloth by her side to begin.

"It will hurt." she warns him soon. "A lot."

Her voice surprises him. Tatsu watches as it happens; realization comes to him slowly, that she is close, that she has moved to kneel behind him. After he realizes how close she is, he glances back at her and then turns away almost as quickly as he looked. She hesitates after this, a cloth in her hand as she watches him reach for his whiskey again. He takes a long sip, stops, and then half-turns back to her.

"Don't worry, darl. I've had worse than this. Yeah? This is nothing." he assures her warmly. "So don't you worry 'bout me. Alright? I'm good. And listen, between you and me...You should know, I'm pretty durable."

Tatsu isn't sure why, but she imagines that Boomerang is smiling now. She can hear it in his voice, she can even picture it, and she's not sure why but she thinks it's because she has come to know him. Despite it all she has come to know him better than she ever thought that she could. That thought stays with her as her eyes roam across his back, taking it all in. It still looks painful, and recent, and it leaves her wanting to show him something kind.

It's why she reaches out to him, to show him something soft and different to what he has been through. Tatsu stretches her hand out slowly, placing her fingers over his shoulder blade, above the cut there. He takes in a small breath and then stays quiet, and so she is left to her thoughts of him and the way he tenses under her touch at first and then slowly starts to relax. And then her hand is gone, reaching for the cloth to wipe the rest of the blood away from his shoulder.

She works quickly and when she is done she discards the cloth and begins to stitch the wound. It doesn't take long, she works fast but carefully, and through it all Boomerang stays silent. His breaths are quiet, and sometimes heavy, but mostly he is quiet. She says nothing and leaves him to his cigarette, that he sometimes swaps for whiskey every now and then. When she is finished, Tatsu wipes down the area around the stitches to keep it clean then places her tools aside and climbs off the bed to rinse the cloth in the sink.

"There." she says, coming to stand in front of him. "It's done."

He looks tired again, but he smiles anyway. It makes her want to give him something to take his mind off things, to let him feel something good. Tatsu isn't sure what to do, not at first, and then it comes to her and she finds that she needs to make herself say the words because they are words that she never thought she would say to him or to anyone else.

"Easy...Peasy."

It takes about two seconds for Boomerang to realize what she's said. Then he smiles, grinning proudly up at her.

"Hey, look at you!" he beams. "Looks like you're catching on."

She disagrees, pulling a face to let him know it.

"I wouldn't say that."

"Yeah, you are. For sure. Guess I'm an alright teacher, hey? But I'm guessin' you're a pretty fast learner, too."

After this she turns away, carrying the cloth over to the sink to rinse it. His gaze follows her there. She feels it, and when she looks back at him a minute later she finds him watching her from the edge of the bed. Tatsu doesn't linger. She turns away and focuses on rinsing the blood from the pale cloth. A few seconds later, he calls out after her.

"Yknow..I'm bettin' there are a few things you could teach me. And I reckon I could return the favor."

Tatsu says nothing, even though she is tempted to answer. She says nothing as she presses her fingers into the cloth and works on getting a spot of blood out. When she's done, she leaves the cloth to hang on the edge of the sink while lightly washing her hands with the bar of soap there. Still on the bed behind her, Boomerang goes on for another minute, as if he really thinks he could convince her to take him up on this 'offer'. Maybe that's part of the reason why she doesn't look back yet.

"I'm a generous guy, luv." he adds, voice warm again. "I'd be more than happy to show you what I know."

He sounds curious and playful, but Tatsu is tired and needs to finish taking care of him before they get some rest. She doesn't mind that he wants to talk, she welcomes the distraction. It's just that she wants to get this part of it done so they can finally get some sleep.

"Will you get dressed now?" she calls back, still over by the sink. "We both need to rest, so I have to finish this."

There's a low hum from Boomerang before he gets up from the bed. He's mostly quiet, but she's always so aware and she knows that he is moving over to her before he make it clear. Tatsu listens as he comes closer then stops by the table, waiting there for a second. She doesn't look back yet, she just listens as he collects his things and then quietly lets out a sigh.

"Yeah, sure. No problem, boss. I'll be right back."

Boomerang brings what's left of his cigarette with him while he gets dressed. She notices it as he passes her, tugging the shower curtain shut with a smile. This time Tatsu doesn't look. She finishes up at the sink, carries the cloth back over to the bed and then waits for him there. He doesn't take long to get dressed, only a minute or two, and when he comes back he already looks better. This is the second thought that goes through her head when she sees him again.

Her first thought is that he looks different. Dressed in a thin, v-neck black shirt and a pair of dark green boxers—he looks both familiar and unlike himself at the same time. Tatsu's not sure if she should be surprised by his lack of pants, but she isn't. It's more of a surprise to see him in something so normal, something that isn't a prison uniform or his Captain Boomerang uniform. This is different and it's new, and at first she doesn't know where to look.

"Hey, so just wondering..Do ya think the others are doing alright?" he asks, as he combs a hand through his hair. "I know what Flag said and all, but I know Waller. You get me? I know what she can do. So I just—I dunno. What d'ya think? You think they're alright?"

She nods, not needing any time to think it over. Flag will protect them. He cares for them in his own way, and even if he will never admit it he will still do his job. The attack on the prison will make him want to do his job even more. Tatsu knows him well, she trusts that he will keep them safe, and this is all she needs to know to be certain that they will be safe. But she understands why that isn't so easy for Boomerang to believe after everything that he's been through. She knows that he needs more than that, more than her trust in Flag, to believe that the others will be safe.

"You're worried?" Tatsu asks quietly.

He shakes head, then sinks back down onto the bed. Once he's settled, Boomerang tilts his head back to look at her as if he's trying to get a read on her to know what she's thinking right now. He's searching her for answers like he often does, and tonight Tatsu decides that she will give them to him.

"Nah, not really. It's not that. It's just like..I know they can handle their shit. Right?" Boomerang goes on, as he leans back on his palms. "I've seen it, so I know what they can do. It's just that those people that came after us, they really wanted us. Didn't they?"

She brings him the rest of the whiskey a moment later and he drinks it slowly. When he's finished she takes the cup away and then returns, still feeling that same urge to reassure him and give him something that he can believe in. As she searches for the words and the way to start, Tatsu begins to clean up his face. She takes a step closer, lifts the damp cloth to his jaw, then tilts his head back gently and takes a minute to observe the cuts to his face. When she's done looking at the little marks and bruises she comes closer, stepping between his legs and moving the cloth gently down his jaw.

"There is nothing to worry about. You're right, they are strong." she assures him soon. "I would not worry for them, I would worry for anyone who tried to come for them."

Boomerang half-smiles at this but it looks different. He looks different, too. She doesn't let her gaze linger on him though, she focuses on her task and works on wiping the blood from around the cut on his jaw. He is quiet through most of it, and when she's done cleaning it up she picks up a bandage from the pile on the bed and returns to place it over the little cut.

"You have no reason to worry. They are strong. And Flag will protect them."

He nods a little, saying nothing as Tatsu leaves to retrieve another bandage. This one she places over a thin gash near his temple, where it bled a lot earlier. It isn't bleeding anymore, so she covers it in cream then places the bandage over it. And still through it all, Boomerang says nothing. It leaves them both to their own thoughts again. His thoughts of the others, and her thoughts of him.

Seconds later her hand slips down to his jaw where she quickly brings the cloth down to a patch of skin there that still needs to be cleaned. She works gently, while staying aware of the tension that she feels building between them. She's not sure if she's the only one who is aware of it, but soon Boomerang lets her know exactly what's on his mind.

"Hey, looky here. We're matchin', darl." he grins, pointing between their black t-shirts. "I gotta say..You fill yours out much, much better than I do."

She looks down briefly to her shirt and then to his. Then she moves on again, focusing on the gashes that need to be cleaned and bandaged. He watches her like he sometimes does and most of the time it is easy to ignore, but tonight it isn't. It is difficult to ignore it, or to pretend that he's not watching her the way that he is, when they are so close and he is looking at her like that. But it is still more than that, it's more than Boomerang's curious gaze. She can tell from the way he is right now that there's something else on his mind.

Yes, he is being his usual self. He always is, but he is also trying to make her smile. He's trying to distract her, trying to take her mind off things like she tried to do for him. It's a nice thought, and it makes her want to give him something to smile at.

"You don't..." she stops, needing to find the words again.

The words she may regret. The words that are true, despite what she tells herself.

"You don't..Scrub up. So bad."

The smile she gets from Boomerang makes it worth it. He is suddenly so bright again, so full of life, and then he is laughing in a way that is almost too real and too happy for someone who has been through what he has in these last few weeks.

"Ey, look at you!" he grins up at her. "I knew you were catching on. I guess I better watch what I say around you from now on."

"You are still not easy to understand." Tatsu assures him, with that same look. "So I do not think you have anything to be concerned about."

"Nah, you're a fast learner. I reckon you know more than you let on, too."

She hesitates, loosely holding the cloth between her hands. Tatsu knows that she should go back to her task, back to the wounds that need to be cleaned and covered. It's just that there's something on her mind and it's more than what he's saying to her right now. It's what he's not saying to her about them, about his worries for them and for himself. It's still getting to him, the thought that something could happen, and Tatsu doesn't know if it's going to help but she wants to help ease his worries, for tonight at least.

"I meant what I said. That you have no reason to worry." she says, voice slightly softer. "Nothing will happen to them. No one will find them, and no one will be harmed. You have Flag's word that they will be safe and I trust that. You can, too."

Boomerang looks uncertain at first then it passes and he nods, accepting it. A half-smile slips through on his face shortly after this, and Tatsu quietly finds herself almost longing to know what is going on his head. Then he shares it with her.

"Not sure that I trust him. Yeah, Flag's alright. He's not so bad, but..You? Yeah, I trust you. So I trust that."

She is almost surprised by the way that it feels to hear these words from him. It is unexpected, and it doesn't really come as a surprise because on some level she's always known that he trusted her to keep him alive. But still, in just a small way, it surprises her because she never expected or planned to gain the trust of a criminal.

And now she has it. I trust you. It makes her think of the small moments in his cell. The little things, just between the two of them. She thinks of his beer, and the plush toy, and the way she sometimes catches him watching her. Tatsu thinks of it all, and afterwards she is left feeling as if he might be waiting for something from her. She can't find the words, even if she wanted to.

There's a part of her that thinks she should tell him that he shouldn't trust her. He doesn't know her, so how could he ever trust her? In the end she can't say it because it doesn't feel like it would be the truth. After all that they've been through, all the things she's shown that she's willing to do for them, she's gained his trust. So she can't say that he shouldn't trust her or that he doesn't know her, because in his own way he thinks that he does. And maybe he really does, but Tatsu can't even begin to think about that right now. No, tonight she is caught up in other thoughts—like what she ever did to earn the trust of a criminal like him.

"It's alright, you know. Ya don't have to say it back, just 'cos I said it. That's not why I said it." he tells her soon, smiling again. "I know who I am, and I know that you know, too. Guys like me? Well, we both know guys like me. Don't we, sweetheart? And even I don't trust 'em. So it's all good. You don't have to loot like that."

She breathes in. "Like, what?"

Boomerang shrugs, leaning back slowly. "Just wanted you to know there's no hard feeling's. That's all."

It leaves her to thoughts of him, and then to thoughts of the rest of them. She's not sure that she can trust them, or that she ever will, but after everything that they've been through and how they fought together Tatsu trusts that there is something there tying them together. She may not trust them, she may never trust them, but when they fight together it is different. She trusts that they will keep each other alive and that means something to her. And the Captain? He is something else entirely. She thinks back to him now and then she looks down at where he is sitting, looking up at her like he is just as lost as she is.

Can she trust a thief? A liar? A drunk?

She doesn't know if she does trust him, or if she ever could, but there's something inside of her that leaves her feeling like she wants to.

"It isn't that." Tatsu ends up saying.

"Don't sweat it, really. It's good. And hey, listen. Thanks again for doing this. Really appreciate it."

Tatsu nods, moving closer to him again to wipe at a patch of blood underneath his chin. She says nothing else because she can't find the words, and right now she can only really think about the pain he must be in. He is messy and covered in marks and bruises, and somehow he is still happy. She thinks of this as she lifts the cloth to a cut underneath his eyes and wipes at it slowly. If it hurts, if any of it hurts him, then he never lets it show.

"So tell me, doc. How's the face lookin'?" Boomerang asks soon. "Any better, or is it worse? Am I still beautiful?"

She hesitates, leaning back to glance him over. As her eyes move across his face, Tatsu thinks of all that she could say to him. She could be honest, or she could lie, but in the end she can't really find the words and this seems to amuse Boomerang.

"It is...It will be.."

"What?" he smirks. "It's either good or it's bad."

After watching him briefly, Tatsu looks down again and focuses on cleaning up the rest of his face. She wipes at a cut to his forehead, thinking over his words as his eyes follow all of her movements.

"It will be better in the morning."

And once again, it just seems to amuse him.

"Way to warm my heart, darl."

It goes ignored and unanswered by Tatsu, as she works on cleaning up the last of his cuts. She covers a few more with bandages, applies cream where it's needed, then steps back to clean her hands on the damp cloth. When she's done she throws it to the end of the bed and glances him over, knowing that they are not done here yet. There is one last thing before she finishes, and from the way Boomerang follows her gaze to his side he understands what she needs to do.

Without saying anything, Boomerang tugs his shirt up by the collar and pulls it up over his head. Then he throws it away and leans back, giving her a clear look of his chest. Before she looks, she spends a minute watching him, watching his smile. It is familiar, and silly, and he is in that mood where he is trying to be playful and distract both of them after the day they've had. She takes one more look then tilts her head back to look at the spots and bruises marking the Captain's skin.

She takes one look at his side and understands why he kept a hand there before, and why he tried to keep it to himself. Dark bruises span across his rib-cage, trailing down to his hip and underneath his stomach. It looks painful, and most of it looks fresh, and Tatsu finds that she can't look away. Most of the bruises look recent, from today's fight when they were separated at the prison, but the rest are old and that means the guards did them to him.

Tatsu pushes down the feelings that come with this realization and leans down, pressing her hand softly to Boomerang's ribs to feel for any signs of damage or breaks. He winces at the touch and Tatsu immediately withdraws her hand and takes two steps back.

"Sorry, darl." he's quick to say, smiling softly. "Didn't mean to frighten ya. Just a bit sore, that's all."

Her eyes flicker up to his slowly, as a few dark strands of hair hang forward in her face. Tatsu brushes them away and stares back at him, wondering again how he is still so soft, so playful, even like this. Then he smiles to reassure her that he is okay, and Tatsu isn't sure that she believes it but he wants her to so she doesn't question it.

"You didn't." she says, stepping forward. "I still need to look. Can I?"

Boomerang's smile stays. "Yeah, sure. And don't worry, really. It didn't hurt. It's just been a long day."

That is something that she understands. It's something they both understand. It all feels too long and Tatsu wants it to end, and at the same time there is something that she feels when she is around Boomerang that makes her feel just a little better. She steps closer to him again and leans down, pressing her fingers to his side and feeling for breaks or any signs that his ribs are damaged.

"How does it feel?" she asks a minute later.

Underneath her touch, Boomerang takes in a breath.

"Yeah, it feels alright. Like I said, just a bit sore." he answers, pausing briefly. "I'm guessing if something was broken, I'd feel it. I'd probably feel a bit worse, wouldn't I? And I don't, so I reckon I'm fine. Just need a good sleep, and maybe a bit more whiskey."

Tatsu spends another minute there, fingers pressed to his ribs, feeling for any signs of damage. When she's done she pulls away and stands back, watching Boomerang as he stands, reaches for his shirt, then shrugs it on over his shoulders. After his shirt is back on she is left to think about how strange it is to see him in something like a t-shirt. Something that isn't his usual prison uniform, or the clothes she remembers he wore that night in the city.

There are a lot of things that she remembers from that night, but for now she can only think about the way he fought with them. Tatsu remembers how he came back to them, and how he showed his bravery by taking the first shot at Incubus with his boomerang. That she can trust. That man, the fighter, who risked himself to save them is someone that she can trust.

"As far as I know, nothing feels broken." Tatsu announces, taking a step back. "You need to rest. You are badly bruised there, and in other places on your body. And your head—"

"Darl, don't worry. It's all good, I know how to take care of myself." he's quick to say. "I'll make sure to rest everything, especially my big, fat head. So thanks for the concern. It's touching, but I'm good."

Half a second later he walks over to her, to where she is now standing with her arms around herself. He hovers there, glancing her over in a way that feels different. It is curious, but in a different kind of way. Tatsu is silent as she watches him, with her mind stuck on thoughts of Midway city and the way he is looking at her right now.

"Listen, luv. I know yer great an' wonderful, and all that. But you got hurt, too." he says, thinking it over before he goes on. "And for a while there we weren't sure you were comin' back at all. Then ya did and you looked pretty rough.."

Tatsu's jaw tightens and she stiffens at the memory of the fight at the prison. She almost didn't make it back, he's right about that. It was rough, and painful, and there was a moment where she accepted that it was over because it seemed like it was going to end. But it didn't end and now she is here with him, and she can't help but believe that maybe it's all for a bigger reason.

"I always come back."

"Yeah, I bet you do. I bet you got like 99 lives or somethin', huh?" he answers, smiling slowly. "I still reckon you need to think about yerself a bit more, 'cos I really don't think the four of us are worth dying for."

"We stopped them." she says, it is all she can say.

For some reason it just makes him smile.

"Really? The way I see it is, you did most of the work. Like you always do. We just showed up at the end and got some of the credit for it."

It makes her think of Belle Reve, of Boomerang and his gun. Then she thinks of the way he fought to protect all of them, and how he saved Cooper's life. They all fought for each other, for the prison, and they did it together.

"You helped."

He shakes his head, smiling as he steps away. "Nah, not really. But it's real sweet of you to say."

Boomerang leaves a moment later, walking over to the sink to rinse his hands and retrieve a clean cloth. She leaves him to it and returns to the bed, perching on the edge as she watches him walk back over to her. He eases himself down onto the bed, lets out a sigh, then starts to clean up his knuckles. Tatsu watches him as he begins, and even though she knows that he can do it for himself she decides that she wants to help him. She doesn't want to help because she needs to or because she feels like she has to, it's because he's too rough for himself and she can't just sit here and do nothing.

He doesn't care, not when it comes to himself and his own injuries. He doesn't take care of himself, and he's not taking care of his hands now. All he's doing is wiping them clean and that's not enough. It looks painful, and like it hurts, and Tatsu doesn't want it to hurt. She wants the pain to be over for him, and she wants him to take care of himself. But he's not taking real care of himself and it only leads her to questions about why he doesn't take care of himself the way he took care of her on the chopper.

Before she comes back to help him, Tatsu leaves and fetches a cup from the kitchen that she fills with water. Then she comes back, silently taking the cloth from his hands and dipping a corner of it into the cold water. She begins after this, starting with his left hand. Tatsu is soft as she wipes the blood away and cleans up his knuckles. It doesn't take her long and when she's done she pats it dry, wraps it in a bandage from the med kit, and moves on to his right hand. This one is worse, there's a bad split over one of his knuckles, so she takes her time and makes sure to be more careful with it, to not cause him any more pain. After she's done she wraps it up gently then steps away, holding the cloth between her hands again.

She could leave him now. There's nothing else to do now that his injuries have all been cared for. Tatsu knows that she could leave, and maybe she should, but she doesn't. It's like something holds her there and she stays, watching Boomerang as he turns over his newly wrapped hands. He turns them over slowly, observing them before stretching them out and placing his palms on his knees.

Then he looks up at her and it all feels different again. From the way he's looking at her it feels like there are a million different thoughts going in and out of his head, and tonight she feels the same way.

"Can I ask you something?" he asks her soon, quieter than he's ever been.

Tatsu can only nod, as he brings himself forward to the very edge of the bed. He sits there for a minute, eyes never leaving her for a moment as he seems to really think over what he's about to say and if he should say it. In the end, he decides to just say it.

"Why are you so good to me? It's got me all crazy, Katana, 'cos I just don't get it."

She wishes she could give him answers about why she cares and why she chose to be here with him. Tatsu wishes she could give him something so they could both have answers but the words won't come. The right words won't come. And the words that do come don't feel like they're enough. It's the tether, she thinks, because for a moment that really is all it ever was. A bond that tied them all together from that night, but slowly it became more than that. It's not as simple anymore. It's more than the tether, and the dreams, and Midway city. It's all so much more than that and Tatsu wishes she could voice it for him and for herself.

"Come on, luv. I gotta know why, 'cos I can't think of a single thing that I ever did and I don't think I'm ever gonna know. Not unless you tell me why."

Her mouth opens slowly, to find the words, to give him something, but she can't. Words are messy and hard, and usually they are just forgotten with time. And this feels different now. It feels like she knows what she wants, to be closer to him, to show him something—and somehow she knows without even really thinking about it what she wants to do, so she does it. Tatsu leans closer, reaching out to place her fingers against his shoulder. Her hand comes to rest on the soft fabric of his shirt and she brushes her thumb over the spot.

She wants to show him something soft like he did for her. Tatsu remembers feeling so alone in that cell, so lost in the moment, until his hand came to rest on her jaw and got tangled in her hair. She felt comforted by it, and a little less alone. She wants to give that to him now so that he will know that even though she can't answer his questions that he isn't alone in this.

Tatsu moves closer slowly, feeling a pull to the bed, to him. She doesn't fight it, she lets it bring her forward to him and soon she's standing closer to him than she's ever been before. She's standing between his legs, with her knees pressed against the edge of the mattress and her fingers lightly resting against his shoulder. He stays quiet through it all, even as her hand starts to slip from his shoulder and he catches it, fingers lightly curling around her wrist before he lets go.

Boomerang watches her as he lets go of her wrist, waiting quietly as if he is letting her know that this is her choice now. It's his choice, too. But the way he watches her now, the way he's always watched her, tells Tatsu that his choice has already been made. So now he is waiting for her to decide, to make the choice to stay or to leave, because this is what he wants for her. He wants her to stay but he wants her to want it, and she does.

She doesn't want to leave him. Not tonight, not tomorrow. She just didn't realize that she felt that way until now.

It pulls her even closer to him, closer than they've been before. Her eyes flicker openly across his face, from the bruises, to the bandages, and then to his lips. She looks back at him a second later and discovers that he is watching her, too. He always is. She doesn't mind, she can't even really think about the way that he's watching her before he lifts a hand to rest against her cheek. After his hand settles against her cheek she can't think about anything else, except the way he feels and how she still wants to be closer to him. She comes closer willingly, with his light fingers still gently pressed to her cheek as he stretches up towards her lips.

When he kisses her, Boomerang is cautious and slow. He is so unlike the man she has come to know, or maybe it isn't unlike him. Maybe it has always been him and it is just another side of him that has always been this way with her; soft, and different, and kind. She kisses him back slowly, tasting whiskey on his lips and smelling cigarettes and soap on his skin. Her hands come to rest on his broad shoulders as she leans into him and they kiss as if everything since Midway city has been leading to this moment.

Then it ends. Tatsu feels it has barely even begun before it is over and Boomerang is leaning away. He tilts his head back, meeting her gaze like he wants to be sure that she really wants this, because it's something that he's wanted for so long and he wants it to be real. That thought makes her wonder if he's doubting if it's real or just something in his head. Another dream, perhaps. Tatsu kisses him first this time. He meets her halfway, stretching up to kiss her a little harder, with a little less cautiousness, and for a moment there is nothing else but this.

There is nothing else but his hands resting on her hips. And his lips, soft and sweet, and pressed to hers.

Tatsu lets herself enjoy it. She lets herself feel this moment, and enjoy the way it feels to kiss him and to have his hands around her. He moves them away slowly, around to the back of her waist where he locks them together and tugs her forward. She sinks deeper against him, as one of her hands stretches up to his shoulder again and the other settles against his cheek. Her hand is barely there before he pulls back again.

This time he tilts his head back to really look at her. He wants to know what she's thinking, what she wants, and if she still wants this. And there's a part of him that's still waiting for her to walk away. She doesn't leave, she doesn't even think about it. Tatsu stays there with him, watching as he begins to smile again. At first it's small and a little uncertain, and then it starts to grow wider as he sighs and drops his head forward against her chest.

"If yer gonna stab me, make it quick. Yeah? And tell everyone I went out a happy man."

Her eyes close at the touch, at his grip tightening around her waist. She likes the way it feels, this she can't deny. With his arms around her and nothing between them, it is something else. It feels like something she's been missing. Maybe even longing for. She lets out a soft breath and closes her eyes, moving her hand from his shoulder to the back of his neck. They stay like this for a minute, and then she kisses him again.

It is just adrenaline, she tells herself, as she lifts Boomerang's head up and leans down to kiss him again. He is eager to kiss her back, and he is also surprised. He mostly seems happy though. He smiles into the kiss, nails digging into her hips as his kisses turn a little less tentative and slowly become more certain, more sure of this, of her. It is adrenaline and it is need, and that is all it is. This is what she tells herself as his lips crush against hers, and his hands wind around her waist again, pulling her so close that there really is no space between them now. With his arms tight around her, and his chest pressed against hers—it is so intimate, so close, and it is wanted.

It is very much wanted by Tatsu, who feels as if she could stay here all night. A look from Boomerang tells her that he feels the same. He lifts his head back to look at her again, smiling wider, and he looks so blissfully happy now. He looks quite pleased with himself, too. His hands stay tight around her as if he has always wanted to put them there, and now that he has he doesn't want to let go. She doesn't mind, not at all. She actually likes the way it feels to be here with him. To feel this, to feel something.

"Jesus christ, luv. That was..." he pauses, smiling. "What can I even say? Fuck, I just dunno what to say. Where to start.."

He looks just as lost as she feels. He's still happy but he's lost too, like this has been on his mind for sometime and now that it's happened, now that it's real, he doesn't know where to start. Tatsu wants to tell him so many things. She wants to answer his questions and her own, but tonight doesn't really feel like the kind of night where they're going to get any answers. It can wait until the morning, she decides, as her hand moves from his neck and down to his chest.

"Then say nothing." Tatsu suggests quietly.

She says this but what she really means is: say nothing because it will make it real for both of us. Say nothing because it will only complicate things, she wants to say, as if things aren't already complicated between them. Tatsu never says the words, because when Boomerang smiles up at her a moment later she forgets about all of it.

"Yeah? That's how you want it?" he grins. "I think I can work with that."

Then, with a tug, he brings her closer. Once she's there, staring down at him, she can't bring herself to care about complications or emotions. She doesn't want to think about anything else, except the way that Boomerang looks in this light, and how it feels when she kisses him.

"But you are still talking."

He smiles more, laughing as he slowly starts to stretch up to kiss her again. His eyes flicker between hers lips, to her eyes, and then back down to her lips in a way that makes her feel a rush of so many different things.

"Well alright, guess I got the hint." he grins, much closer now. "C'mere then. I'm happy to oblige, if it means we get to do this for a little more.."

But you are still talking, she almost says. She comes so close to it, and so close to smiling, as he kisses her again. It feels different again. It is sweet, she thinks, and maybe it is because he is so happy now. He isn't burdened with any doubts or uncertainty. He knows that she wants this, and he is lighter because of it. Tatsu can only think about this now. This, and the way it feels to kiss him after all of this time.

(strange. uncertain. and good)

Boomerang's touch is soft as he reaches for her again, bringing her even closer, just when she thought they couldn't be any closer. He hooks his hands underneath her legs and picks her up, lifting her up to sit on him so her knees are planted on either side of his hips and his hands are back around her waist again, locked together at her spine.

Then he starts kissing her again. Small, warm kisses follow. He is gentle, but a little less unsure now. He is eager, filled with need. Tatsu sinks into him, into this moment with him, and they stay here until he moves them again. Boomerang picks her up and turns her over, placing her on the bed underneath him. Afterwards he is left to hover above her, leaving only a small space between them as he stretches down to kiss her.

It only takes one second for Tatsu to flip their positions. She hooks a hand around Boomerang's arm, places the other against his chest, then flips them over on the bed so he's on his back underneath her and she's hovering above him. The bed bounces a little underneath their weight and the sudden shift of their positions, and in the quiet that follows Tatsu can only hear the old springs in the mattress making noise, and Boomerang's small intake of breath after the flip he wasn't expecting.

His faces tells her that he's ready for her to leave. He thinks that's what this means, why she changed things. He's ready for her to leave and Tatsu can't blame him for this, or for his doubts, because the person she was before would leave him. That person would never be here at all. But she is here and it must mean something about who she is now and why she's still here with him.

She is certain of this, and that she wants to be close to Boomerang again. He wants it, too. She can see it in his eyes and the way he tracks her movements, as she pulls herself down to sit on his hips. Her hands come to rest on his chest as she settles on his waist, and after the springs quieten there are no other noises, no other distractions, and so she is left to think about all that is between them right now.

Tatsu takes it all in slowly, eyes sweeping across him carefully. She feels as if she wants to take it all in, so she does. She starts with his curls, his soft eyes, and the lines around his mouth when he smiles. And then she looks down further, down to his hands as he stretches them out and places them on her thighs. He moves slowly, placing his hands on the exposed patch of skin below her thighs where her t-shirt stops. After his hands come to rest there he starts to trace a finger along the inside of her thigh, both curious and cautious again. He watches her while he does this, his jaw tight and his eyes heavy with lust.

She notices that there is something else there, too. Tatsu knows what it is almost right away. He is quiet and uncertain again, and so unlike himself, because he thinks that he knows her so he knows what will come next. He thinks he knows what she is thinking now, that she would break his hands for touching her there and for where he is thinking about touching her.

Tatsu doesn't stop his hands from resting on her thighs. He doesn't move them again, not for a moment, so she leaves them and looks down at him, feeling just as curious about him as he is about her. It's why she lifts a hand to his t-shirt and starts to tug it up. She's seen him without a shirt before, but never like this. She feels like she wants to see it now, she wants to look, and Boomerang is happy to oblige.

He sits forward, rips the shirt off, then collapses back down on the bed and places his hands back on her thighs. He looks quite comfortable there beneath her, with his hands curled on her skin and his eyes glued on her. Then he smiles and stretches up for a kiss, but Tatsu flattens a hand to his chest and stops him. He grins and leans back onto the bed.

"Oh, luv. You are just magnificent, aren't you? Bloody magnificent. I'm out of words. What can I say?"

For a moment she almost smiles, almost answers, but something distracts her. It sounds as if it comes from outside, or maybe nearby, but there is no one else here. Tatsu stops and listens, turning back towards the stairs to listen and see what follows. Nothing changes, but Tatsu waits anyway. She is just about to turn back to Boomerang when she feels his hand moving slowly up the inside of her leg. He traces a soft pattern against her skin and even though it feels good, Tatsu turns back around and grabs his hand, damp hair hanging forward over her face as she looks down at him.

"What?" he asks innocently, lifting an eyebrow.

Tatsu spends another minute watching him before she leans down for another kiss. One more time, she swears, another lie, one more kiss.

"Bloody magnificent, darl." he says between kisses. "You got no idea how long I thought about this, and about—"

"I thought," she pauses, slowly leaning back against his hips. "That we weren't going to talk?"

His grin comes back, much wider this time.

"Oh, darling. How are you so damn perfect?"

There's a cough from behind them. The sound of someone clearing their throat. Then a voice follows and she recognizes it right away as belonging to Colonel Porter.

"Flattery's real sweet, George. But it's not gonna get you any more whiskey than this."

She realizes it now, what the sound what. It was the door unlocking, or maybe it was even Porter on the stairs. Tatsu quickly leans away from Boomerang and turns around to find Porter standing at the end of the stairs, with a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a packet of cigarettes in the other. On the table behind him there are two trays with meals on them but Tatsu can't focus clearly enough on it, or on anything, to see what it is. She can only think about this, and how Boomerang's hand is still curled around her thigh.

Underneath her, Boomerang sighs and collapses back onto the bed with another, much louder sigh.

"Fuckin' hell, mate. Really? You couldn't knock?" he calls out, then half-sits up. "Way to kill the mood. Job well done, mate."

Tatsu takes in a breath then feels Boomerang move again. He sits up even more, gaze pulled to something beyond her, and she already knows what it is and what is now on his mind.

"Ay, is that whiskey? Oh, Porter. You bloody legend. I think I love you a bit now."

She climbs off Boomerang after this and doesn't look back, instead she looks to Porter, who is standing uncomfortably by the stairs. He mostly just looks surprised, and she feels similarly. She also agrees with Boomerang though, something that she will never admit to. Maybe if he had knocked first, all of this could have been avoided.

"Yeah, it's whiskey. And these are some of those cigarettes you asked for." Porter nods, then turns his attention to Tatsu. "Don't let him drink it all. And don't let him play with matches, especially if he drinks a bit. We don't want him starting a fire or anything.."

After this he trails off, and there's a moment of silence between the three of them that feels as if it stretches on for much longer than it actually does. Then Porter clears his throat and speaks up again.

"Oh, and I don't know.." Porter stops, taking a step over to the stairs. "You want to put a sock on the door or something?"

They both answer at the same time, and their conflicting answers seem to amuse him quite a lot.

"That won't be necessary." Tatsu says.

And then there's Boomerang's predictable answer.

"Can do, boss."

Porter half-smiles, gesturing to the stairs. "Well, I'm gonna go. There's dinner if you're hungry." he says, glancing between them. "Have something to eat. Get some rest. And I'll see you both in the morning. If you need anything before then, we're just upstairs."

"Yeah, great. Thanks a bunch." Boomerang calls out from the bed. "Night, mate. Sweet dreams."

She follows Porter as he takes the stairs up to the door and then disappears, and it's only after he's gone that Tatsu feels the tension flood back in between the two of them. She listens as the door opens, shuts, and then locks, and only after this does she turn around to look at Boomerang again. He's still stretched out on the bed, sitting slightly upright, as he looks between the bottle of whiskey on the table and her, as if he is trying to make up his mind on what he wants more. He seems to come to the decision that he can have both, but Tatsu has other plans.

"So are we finally gonna have that drink?" he asks, smiling slowly. "Or d'ya wanna pick up where we left off and see where it goes?"

Tatsu quietly feels torn between what she wants and what she needs. She knows that what she wants to do is go back to Boomerang, go back to where they were on the bed. She wants to kiss him again, to feel close to him, but at the same time she knows that's not what she needs right now. She needs to rest, and have a glass of whiskey, and then she needs to sleep for at least a few hours. Her body needs to rest, and so does his. Despite what he thinks he needs right now, he needs exactly the same thing. Boomerang needs to rest and to recover, and he needs a drink and probably a few cigarettes. It may not be what he wants, or what he thinks he needs, but it is.

After everything they went through, they need to take care of themselves and of each other. So everything else, all of their other needs and wants, will have to wait until the morning.

"Yes," Tatsu says, scooping up the bottle of whiskey and cigarettes. "Let's have that drink."

Chapter Text

The springs in the bed creak loudly when Boomerang joins Tatsu there, collapsing down onto the mattress by her side after he's finished with dinner. She didn't touch hers. Later, she decides, as the mattress shifts underneath the Captain's weight. It's a large bed, more than big enough for the two of them, but after what just happened—the kiss, all of their little kisses, his hands around her, his fingers on her thighs—the space between them just feels too small and he feels too close, but despite this she doesn't move away. Tatsu stays, focusing on the cigarette between her fingers instead of on the man by her side.

Less than thirty seconds go by before the Captain is moving again. First he readjusts himself, settling in and getting comfortable on the bed. Then he's reaching for the whiskey in the space on the bed between them, curling his fingers around the bottle and bringing it up to his lips. As he drinks from it Tatsu can't stop herself from watching him, from thinking about his lips that were just on hers, that she wants back on hers. 

When he's done with the whiskey he swaps it for a cigarette, lighting it with a match from the box on the night-stand. After it's lit he moves again, just one more time to fix the pillows behind his head. Then he's finally still, finally done moving around, and in the quiet that follows Tatsu can't help but wonder if he is doing this to be annoying, or if she is only so aware of him because of what happened between them earlier, what she wants to happen again. She is still too tired, and he is clearly in pain, so she knows that they need to rest. Still, her mind is occupied with these thoughts and wants. And when she finds herself needing a distraction from what she wants she reaches for the whiskey, finishing it in a few sips and then reaching for the bottle—but just as she reaches for it Boomerang swipes it back, far out of her reach.

With a wide grin, he tilts his head back and dangles the bottle out of her grip. There's a new look on his face suddenly, one that is almost daring her to come close again. Yes, she quickly decides, he has always been this annoying.

"What's with the cup, luv?" he smirks, barely able to keep down a laugh. "Afraid I'm gonna give you cooties or somethin' like that?"

Tatsu takes a breath and reaches for the bottle as he brings it back over to her, only to have him pull it back at the very last second. She is left feeling torn between smiling and pinning him down to take the bottle for herself. She could if she wanted to, but she is comfortable here and this seems to amuse him, so she leaves it and relaxes into her pillow, watching him again with a raised eyebrow.

"That would be the least of my concerns."

It makes him laugh, in a warm and carefree way that sparks something old and forgotten in her chest.

"Don't worry, darl. I'm all clean."

She thinks of the dirt on his skin. Blood, and dirt, and grime. Tatsu throws him a look, glancing him over slowly.

"Hey." he arches an eyebrow. "What's that look for?"

"Nothing. I am just thinking."

He hums, glancing her over in a similar way. Then he sighs and brings the whiskey bottle back over to her, letting her take it this time. As her fingers curl around the glass bottle, he holds on for five seconds then lets go.

"What?" she sighs, meeting his gaze. 

"Nothin', darl. Just thinkin' that yer cute and I can't play with ya like that."

Tatsu says nothing back as she swiftly refills her cup, places the bottle back between them, and sinks down into the bed. Next to her, Boomerang lets out a sigh and rolls over onto his side to face her. In the quiet tension that returns afterwards his gaze stays on her, until he gets distracted by the small box of matches and starts to play with them. When Tatsu looks over he's throwing the little box up and down like it's a ball or some kind of toy.

"And you are ridiculous."

Boomerang scoffs, as he tries to hide a grin.

"Yeah,  maybe I am. But you love it. Don't ya?"

She looks away again, feeling his gaze follow her as she looks down to the cup between her hands. Without looking up she knows that he's still watching her, and that he's still playing with the matches like the box is a toy. Maybe he just needs something else to distract himself with, the same way that she needs this drink.

"So you're a whiskey girl then?" Boomerang asks soon. "How d'ya feel about beer?"

She considers it. "I like Whiskey. But not beer, not really."

There's a loud, dramatic groan from Boomerang, as he reaches for the whiskey again and takes a long sip. His question makes her think back to the beer in his bag, and the information that she read about him that she once considered as necessary for her job. Now it just feels like another violation of his privacy.

"Ya don't know what yer missing out on." he sighs, minutes later. "Hey, so. We gonna talk about it?"

Tatsu lifts an eyebrow, turning to look at him.

"Beer?"

"Nah, not beer. Us.. Y'know, me and you. You and me. That was fun for both of us, right?"

She takes in a breath, quickly looking up to a spot on the ceiling. Her instinct is to be honest, to admit to him that yes it was something. Tatsu's not sure what she considers fun, not anymore. It's been years since she had fun, she can't remember when that last was. But tonight for a minute with him, when his arms were around her and he was kissing her, she felt something and that's more than she's had in years.

"I'm not sure what to say."

It's her answer when she's not sure how to tell him that it was important. Maybe even special. She's not even sure where to begin with words tonight when they are so weary, from their wounds and the fight. Tatsu just wants him to know that it meant something, even if she can't talk about it yet.

He doesn't seem to be too caught up on her lack of words. Not at all. He actually shifts closer on the bed, wiggling towards her with that same, bright smile on his lips as he leans in, pointedly glancing to her lips and then back up to her eyes.

"Hey, well, listen—if it's not all that clear, we could always give it another go?" he suggests, smiling in a way that is charming, even for him. "Maybe we can spend a bit of time figuring it out, you know? I teach you, you teach me. We have some fun. How's that sound, luv?"

Swapping her whiskey for her cigarette, Tatsu almost smiles.

"Like something that isn't going to happen tonight."

Boomerang laughs in response, sinking back into his pillow with a warm smile. He moves the cigarette to his lips, inhales on it, then places it between his fingers, where he starts to twirl what's left of it around between his pointer finger and thumb. He's bored, she knows this, and maybe that's why he's so interested in, as he said, giving it 'another go'. And that's exactly why her answer won't change, not tonight. He's bored, and she's tired, and they need to come back at this in the morning.

"Yeah, alright. No worries, darl. Just lemme know when you change ya mind." he winks, still faintly smiling. "I'll be happy to give you a helpin' hand, just say the word."

She hums, focusing on the cigarette and then on the whiskey. She focuses on it, and then on the photograph on the wall—anything to get her mind off what she wants to do and what her body wants her to do. Kiss him, a part of her thinks, while the other part tells her to rest. She finishes her whiskey, fills the glass up again, then turns to Boomerang as he speaks again.

"So, where'd you grow up? Here, or in Japan?"

Tatsu hesitates, a little thrown by the question and how curious he suddenly seems to be about her.

"Why?"

"Dunno." he shrugs. "Just curious. What was it like?"

Her first thought is of home. Of hers, and then of his, wherever it was. Tatsu doesn't know why she thinks of his home but she does, and soon she finds herself pulled back to his conversation with Harley when they were stuck in the cell. He spoke of wanting to go home to die when it was his time, and it just makes her think about how a piece of her died in her home that night. The thought pushes her to finish her whiskey, and to then bring the cigarette back up to her lips.

Minutes later she realizes she's left him waiting, left him without answers, and she decides to change that.

"Japan." she admits quietly. "It was...Nice."

He nods along, interested. "You got any family there? Or are they here, too?"

Tatsu wants to turn to him and ask why he's so curious about her and her past. Why does he want to know? After all of this time, he is asking too much about her, or maybe he isn't and maybe he's just never had a chance to ask her any questions like this. They've never been alone, not like this, not without cameras or someone else around. This is new, and so are his questions, and maybe that's all it is. She considers that this side of him, the part of him that is curious and longing to know more about her, comes from the side of him that is always there but can't show itself, not at Belle Reve and not around Waller.

No, she thinks, and almost says. They are dead.

In a minute Tatsu finishes her cigarette, discards it, and reaches for more of the whiskey. She fills the glass, then sinks back into the bed and tries to move her mind away from those thoughts to ones about the man on the bed next to her. She's not sure how long it takes for him to speak again when she doesn't answer him, but it feels like the silence lasts a while until he breaks it.

"Hey, so. You know what I said before, about you bein' bloody perfect?" he pauses, thinking it over briefly. "Well, I want you to know that I really meant it. I did. You're something else, hey. Can't seem to get you off my mind."

Tatsu answers between sips of whiskey. "I am not perfect. You don't know anything about me."

There's another pause, but it doesn't last half as long. Boomerang seems to be quiet just long enough to find what he wants to say and then he says it, with no hesitation or regret. It's just out there like he needs her to hear it, and maybe she does need it right now.

"But I do, don't I? Just a bit, anyway. Yer a badasss, who is tough as hell. You like whiskey and you don't really like beer. You grew up in Japan. You're the best fighter I've ever seen, and you like us. Might not know it all, but I know a couple things. Why don't you tell me more? Tell me somethin' you do when you're not hanging 'round us scumbags."

For a moment she feels lost in his question, lost in the life she has now and the life she once had. There is not much that she does now, so that makes it harder for her to think about her old life where she felt as if she was actually living. Now she is not so sure; she is in Gotham, or she is here with them, and apart from this and the tasks she assigns herself there is not much else that she does.

"I kill criminals."

Boomerang pauses, the cigarette dangling between his lips as Tatsu turns to look at him.

"Huh." he hums. "Criminals..Like me?"

"Yes and no."

Slowly he turns to her, smiling. "Well..Shit. You reckon you would have killed me if we'd run into each other out there?"

For a second she struggles with her answer, with what she should say and what her first instinct to say is: I couldn't. Not now, not after this. She wants to say it, feels as if she should say it, but that alone is heavy with emotions and feelings that she can't bring herself to talk about tonight. So she will keep it simple, she will be honest but she will keep a few pieces for herself.

"You are serving several life sentences." Tatsu ends up saying. "It will never be you. It could never be you."

He sighs, pushing the whiskey aside as he reaches for a bowl to stub out his cigarette in. When he's done he leans back into the bed, glancing her over again.

"So people pay you to do it?" he asks soon. "Or you do it just 'cos you wanna?"

"Sometimes both. Mostly, it is because I want to."

Another pause. Tatsu reaches for the whiskey, passing it back to him when she's finished with it for the moment.

"Can I ask you a question now?" she glances up at him.

He nods, smiling gently. "Sure. What's on yer mind?"

Belle Reve, she thinks. That is one of the heaviest things on her mind after what they went through, but it's not the only thought there. Her mind is chaotic, filled with too much, and the only time it really seemed to quieten was earlier, when his arms were around her and his lips—

Tatsu finishes her whiskey, places the cup in her lap, and tilts her head up to the photograph on the wall. She knows where those thoughts will lead her, and first she has questions. Then maybe in the morning they will pick things up, or maybe it will turn out that all of this was just a dream. She's not sure what it will be, but for the first time in a long time she finds herself hoping that it won't be a dream.

"Why do you want to go home to die?" she asks. "Why did you say that? Do you want to die?"

"What? Nah, that's not—I said it 'cos I meant when it's my time, not that I want it to be my time." Boomerang answers quickly. "I wanna go home 'cause it's home. There's nothing else like it, and that's all it is. Don't wanna die, darl. I got too many good things going on for me, don't I?"

He pauses just for a second, thinking it over.

"I mean, do I think dyin' might be easier than surviving Amanda fuckin' Waller? Yeah, of course it would be. But I'm not gonna give her that satisfaction, and I'm not ready for this ride to end yet."

Tatsu hesitates then pushes herself to look at him again. He feels like he's closer but she knows that he hasn't actually moved, it just feels that way.

"At the prison, when the guard attacked you.."

She stops when he seems to react at the very mention of Belle Reve. It's subtle, just a brief look across his face, and then it's gone and she's left to watch him as he turns his gaze down to the whiskey bottle in his hands.

"What, did I think I'd die there? Yeah, maybe. Just for a  second." he says, sighing. "But I knew you'd save me, luv. Being my knight in shining armor and all. Anyway, you reckon we can talk about something else now? Go on, ask another question if you want. Let's just talk about something else, yeah?"

It comes to her easily.

"Why do you want to know about me?"

Another shrug. He sounds as if he's smiling, but she doesn't look. Her gaze is turned away again, back to the photograph on the wall.

"Told you, didn't I? Can't get you off my mind. I don't know the answer to that one either, but maybe it's 'cos I've never met anyone like you before. But I'm sure you've met a bunch of criminals just like me."

Tatsu doesn't need much time to think about it at all. She's never met anyone like them before, and when it comes to him she knows without a doubt that she has never met a man like him before.

"I am not sure they have ever been like you."

It seems to please him. He turns back to her, smiling as he pushes the whiskey bottle to the side and slowly starts to lean in.

"Oh. Well you know what that means, don't ya?" he pauses, considering it. "I think it means you like me. Just a bit, don't ya? C'mere then, luv. Bring 'er in for a group hug. Except there's no group, it's just us, and we don't have to hug if you don't want."

Tatsu flattens her palm against his chest, pressing it there to stop him from moving closer. He is drunk now, just a little. She doesn't want him to be drunk and making decisions like this, not that she really thinks this is so far from what a sober Boomerang wants. And there is also something in her that isn't sure that she has ever really seen him sober. Somehow he always manages to have a drink, or to smell like he's just had one. But still, she wants to be sure of this. She wants him to be sure, too.

He seems to get that, and with a sigh he rolls onto his back, smiling.

"Yeah, alright. Alright, I got it. Woman, you are killing me. You and all your glory. And those legs." Boomerang pauses, chewing on his lower lip as a bigger smile breaks through. "Shit, I could die happy between those legs. And not 'cos I want to, but just because you are amazing and even if I died right here and now I'd still die a happy man."

She almost smiles, looking away. "Yes, I understand. I think you are going to kill me, too."

Another laugh comes from the Captain, as he seems to relax a little more, and it feels quietly nice to hear him laugh again and to know that he is smiling and relaxing because of her.

"Nice one, darl. That's cute, you tryin' to make a joke. Real cute." he goes on, sounding as if he is smiling. "Hey, so I guess it's my turn to ask you something now. Right?"

Tatsu nods slightly, closing her eyes. "Okay."

"Great. So tell me..You got a crush on the Boss man or something?"

For a second she considers that she is sleeping and that this is just a strange dream, and then she looks to him and she knows that it's real. He is smiling, even if he looks semi-serious, and it is very much a real question that he has just asked her. Tatsu needs a minute to think about it, and Boomerang must think he's trying to help but he only makes things weirder.

"You know, the boss. Colonel P. The big man. The slightly Silver Fox."

She can't help the way she looks to him, how she stares—and before she can say a word, he takes her lack of an immediate denial as a yes.

"Holy shit! You're crushing on him! Fuck." Boomerang grins, nudging her arm gently. "Who knew he'd be my competition, 'ey? I mean sure, yeah, he's not a bad lookin' bloke. But I really wasn't expecting that.."

Another minute passes. At first, she can only stare back at him while trying to work out just what exactly goes through his head. In the end she decides that she will never know, and so she gives up and answers his question.

"You are an idiot."

"Yeah, maybe." Boomerang grins. "But you've got a thing—"

"No, George. I don't." she asks, turning to face him. "Why would you say that?"

His eyes follow her, glancing her over again as if this is something that he is really considering, if only for a moment, even with what happened between the two of them not so long ago.

"After he came down, you climbed off and never wanted to get back on."

Tatsu stares at him, fighting back several natural responses, like the urge to roll her eyes or to call him an idiot again.

"It was uncomfortable when he interrupted. That is all it was."

Realization flickers across his face slowly and quickly he smiles, looking as if this comforts him greatly.

"Guess that means I'm still in with a chance then." he grins, pleased with himself.

This time, she can't help her response. Tatsu rolls her eyes and looks away, almost smiling, as her gaze flickers onto something else and Boomerang settles back in, like he can only really get comfortable now. She leaves him to it, thinking his words over while the quiet lasts. With him, it never lasts long—and she's not sure why she's glad for it tonight but she is.

Tonight she finds herself welcoming the sound of his voice.

"I got another question for ya. See, you asked me. So it's only fair I ask you." he goes on, minutes later. "Back at that place, at the prison, did you think you were done for? For a while there, we weren't so sure you were gonna make it back."

The words take her back to Belle Reve, back to the fight and how close she came to it all being over. She thinks of the battle, of Waylon and Flag, and then she thinks about the moment Boomerang tried to shield her and keep her safe. It leaves her with another realization that she can't lie to him. But she finds that she doesn't want to lie, not tonight and not about this.

"I thought that I could."

He pauses. "Did you wanna?"

"No." Tatsu answers honestly. "But I wasn't afraid to."

Boomerang sighs between sips of whiskey then hands her the bottle. She takes it, swallows a mouthful, then passes it back.

"Well.." he stops, quiet for a moment. "At least a couple good things came from today."

She turns to him, arching an eyebrow.

"Meeting Porter, you mean?"

For about three seconds he's serious, until he's laughing again as if it's the most amusing thing he's heard in years.

"Oh, I get it. Yer trying to be funny again. Cute." Boomerang smirks warmly. "Nah, what I meant was..We finally had that drink. Not really how I thought it'd happen, but was still good."

Tatsu nods, eyes stuck on him. "You are..."

"Charming?" he grins. "Funny? Irresistible?"

She watches his face as he smiles more, studying the way it looks.

"Persistent."

A minute later he moves again, rolling onto his side to face her. There, he props his head underneath his elbow and looks her over in that obvious, cocky way of his that she's grown to recognize. It's more than boredom; it was never really boredom. She sees that in his eyes now. It is lust, and a need, and it is something more than that, something deeper.

"You wanna know what I think? I think you like me." he says, smiling again. "Deep down.. You like me. Don't ya? But you just don't wanna admit it 'cos you never meant to like me."

"Really?"

Boomerang nods, completely sure of it, and quickly Tatsu is left with the realization that this man, with his messy and unpredictable life, is so sure of this and so sure of her.

"Yeah, of course. You like me, even if you talk like you can't stand me. In the end, you were the one to make the call to come here with me. I didn't ask you to. That was you. Oh, and you did kiss me back. You can't really deny that one. Can ya, darl?"

Tatsu thins a smile, then realizes it might be the first smile she has ever given him. And predictably, he notices it. He's so aware of it, of everything, and he seems to take a minute to study her face as she just did to him. Tatsu almost looks away, she is tempted to, but something stops her.

"I can and I will deny it, to anyone who asks."

He laughs, sinking into his pillow. "Oh yeah, right. I got it. It's gotta be our little secret, hey? Can't have anybody finding out, not with the way things are."

Our little secret. Tatsu wonders why it doesn't sound strange, or like it is new—and that's when she realizes it's because it's always felt like they've had their own little moments and secrets since the city. She is met with a rush of memories after this realization, and when she looks back at Boomerang she finds that he is still watching her in that same, unreadable way.

"Can I ask you something else?"

His voice is softer, a little more serious this time, and for now she can only nod in response.

"If you could go anywhere in the world, where would ya go?" Boomerang asks. "Would you go home, or somewhere new?"

There is no choice; she would go home. Nothing else can compare, even if the memory of it still aches, still burns her. It isn't his fault that he is curious and that he is wanting to know more about her, she feels the same about him. Still it hurts and Tatsu finds herself closing her eyes as she tries to push the memories out.

"No." she answers. "Would you?"

"Yeah, probably. Or maybe I'd go somewhere new for a bit, then go back home."

Her eyes open and she looks back to him, both genuinely curious and in need of a distraction. She finds herself welcoming the sound of his voice again and the way it feels to just sit here with him. 

"Where would you go?"

Boomerang smiles slowly. "Somewhere nice, with water and a real good view. A place I'd never forget."

"And at Belle Reve?" Tatsu asks soon, unable to stop herself. "What did you dream of?"

His jaw tightens and his smile slips, but only a little. He quickly looks away then right back at her, as if he wants to look away but can't bring himself to do it. For a minute or two after this he is quiet while trying to find the words, and Tatsu doesn't push him. Not about this, she never would. She leaves him to his thoughts, watching him silently as he pulls the words together.

"I told you 'bout them, didn't I? It was us, and we were wearin' less clothes." he explains. "It was just one of those dreams, y'know? It was a good one."

"And when you hallucinated me..What did you see?"

There's another pause from the Captain. He lets out a sigh, sits up and almost finishes what's left of the whiskey. Then he offers her the bottle but she doesn't reach for it, she doesn't want it yet. Her attention stays on him, as he leans back into his pillow and looks over at her.

"Don't think it matters all that much, does it? Not real sure I remember anyway. Most of it's just a blur. I think I just kept askin' you to help me get out, but I'm not real sure. Think I was a bit fucked up back then, so mostly it's just a blur. Sorry, darl. Wish I could tell ya more."

She nods slowly. "And after that, did you see me again?"

"What, like in my head or something? Yeah, maybe. Even though I knew I shouldn't, I did."

It leaves her feeling curious about what is in his head now, what was in it before, and then about that last part: even though I knew I shouldn't. She wants to know why, and she is just about to ask him when he seems to read it on her. Maybe she is obvious, or maybe he's always been this good at reading her.

"Wasn't like that. I just meant—Look, all I meant was..Yeah, yer amazin' and all. And I really do enjoy those dreams of us. It's just that I know where this is goin' and I reckon I could save us both some time if I just accepted it. But we both know that I'm not real good at that."

Tatsu sits up more, turning to face him again.

"And where exactly is this going?"

He smiles again. "Thought it was obvious? Yer gonna break my heart. Aren't ya? Y'know, 'cos shit never goes the way I want it to. Even if it did, I'm still me. And I think that sums it up perfectly, don't you think?"

She glances away, still half-sitting up as her gaze shifts down to the bed-sheets they're both stretched out on. For some reason she is caught on her dream, on Soultaker deep in his chest, and the blood that spilled from hers.

"How does your life go?" she asks gently.

"Not too well. I've never been that lucky, you know? Yeah I have my moments, but usually it turns to shit. You grow used to it after a bit. And look, I'm not saying this like it's not all deserved. Some of it is, some of it never was. I know who I am and what I've done, and at the end of it all I'm alright with this life 'cos look where I am right now. I'd say things turned out good for a while. Wouldn't you?"

She dwells on it, on his words and then on the memory of bruised knuckles and torn skin.

"You are not—" Tatsu pauses, but not for long. "You do not deserve for bad things to happen to you."

"Yeah, we both know that's not totally true. Don't we? I'm not exactly a good person, darl."

Tatsu holds his gaze, serious. "But you do not deserve pain. Or a bad life."

A laugh comes from him, as he closes eyes and drapes one hand over his chest. He keeps the other tight around the whiskey, just for the moment. For a while there is nothing else; he says nothing, even though she knows he must be thinking about so much right now. He is quiet, and Tatsu considers leaving him to it, but she can't stop herself. She is both curious and trying to distract him with something good.

"What is your home like?"

His eyes flicker open at the question. "What, Australia?"

She nods, stretching back on the bed next to him. Tatsu settles in again, too. Back into her pillows, to rest her body and to give herself a chance to fall asleep here.

"Oh, it's nice. Real nice. I could tell you about it, or I could show ya. You gotta close yer eyes, though. If you wanna see it the right way, you gotta close yer eyes."

She stares at him blankly. "What?"

"C'mon, luv." Boomerang smiles. "Have a little trust."

For a while Tatsu does nothing, she just stares back at him. Then she turns away, lets her head sink into the pillow, and closes her eyes. This, she thinks. This shows more trust than anything else. She's trying to show him trust, trying to show him that there is something there. She only hopes that it will mean something to him.

A minute later he begins, and all Tatsu wants to do is listen for hours and hours.

"When I was a younger, I went out on this walk in the bush. I was out there all on my own, and I spent ages out there. You gotta see it, alright? It's this real big orange desert. It's big and it's beautiful, and there's this nice warm sun hanging down on ya. Big bright skies. Nothing for miles. There's no one else. Just you, all out there on yer own, and you just walk. You walk around this wonderful land, learnin' things about it and about yerself.  Things you never knew. You starting to see something?"

Her eyes feel weary suddenly, and her mind feels as if it is suddenly filled with the image that he is trying to show her. The image of a young George Harkness out in the Australian desert.

"Yes."

"Good. So, just—out there, all you do is walk. You walk 'till you can't, then you rest and keep going. And it's really not bad at all out there. Yer not lonely, even if it's just you. You don't care, 'cos it's just perfect out there. Everythin' is so bloody perfect and calm, for the first time in ages. So nothin' else matters. That's all there is. Just you, and the outback, and that's it. All this dirt, and sun, and trees. It's just you an' the land, but it feels perfect that way. Feels quiet, y'know? And it was never like that before. Being out there is like finding something that you never thought was real, but it is. And for a little while, it's all yours."

For a few minutes he is quiet again, and Tatsu quickly decides to leave it. She keeps her eyes shut, her attention on the memory he is trying to give her, and she leaves him to it. She expects him to say nothing, to quietly leave her with what he has already given her, but he doesn't. He stays, and she finds that she is glad that he does.

"Everythin' is so good out there. So calm and quiet. And for the first time in yer life, you just feel like you could be somethin'. That you could be more than what you've been. And it's just that bein' out there, it gives that to ya. It's so different to everything else and you never wanna leave. You know life is never gonna be as good when you go back. But you want it to be better, 'cos for those few weeks you let yourself get all these hopes and dreams—and all this peace, that was never there before—and it felt so good, havin' something to believe in. And even if you never had it again, you always had those feeling's out there and that was something...That was something that never left you, even after everything else did."

 

**

 

That night Tatsu dreams of the desert. It is still on her mind when she wakes sometime late into the night, alone and covered in sweat. She wants to discard her t-shirt, she almost does, and then she thinks of him. She remembers that he is here with her and that's when she seeks him out, searching through the moonlight that cascades into their room to find him.

The space where he once was is empty now. He's gone and she is alone, curled up on the bed with a soft blanket draped over her that she doesn't remember covering herself with. Slowly it comes back to her. She remembers drinking with him, and listening to his voice until this, until now. Tatsu sits up slowly, tiny jolts of pain shooting through her body as she comes to sit forward, to find him in the darkness of the room. It doesn't take long, he isn't far. She finds him on the small couch, as stretched out on it as someone his size can be.

Somehow he still looks peaceful, and so she can't bring herself to wake him and tell him to take the bed. Tomorrow, she decides, watching him as she relaxes back against her pillows. Slowly she takes in a breath as she tries to close her eyes and will herself to go back to sleep. She doesn't know what time it is or how long she's been sleeping for, but she knows it hasn't been long. It's still dark out, and her body tells her that she hasn't really rested at all. So she takes in a deep breath, forces herself to keep her eyes shut, and tries to sleep.

She's not sure how long it takes for her to give up on falling back asleep, but it feels like it takes about ten minutes before she stops trying. With a quiet sigh, Tatsu pulls herself to the edge of the bed and eases her legs down onto the floor. She settles there, bringing up a hand to gently brush the hair out of her eyes while the other moves to rest against her side. As she sits there she finds herself thinking of Boomerang. She thinks of him on the bed stretched out beside her. Then she thinks of his voice and how it was the last thing she heard before she fell asleep.

Soon she turns over her shoulder to look at him, watching him for a moment before she makes the decision to get up. Not to bother him, or to wake him, but to fetch a glass of water from the sink. She moves quietly off the bed and over to their little kitchen, but halfway there something catches her attention and for a moment she forgets about everything else and just focuses on this one tiny thing.

Pinky.

She finds the plush toy buried between the sleeping Captain's arms, as if he fell asleep hugging it. Tatsu doesn't know why it makes her want to smile but it does. She takes a small step closer, observing the two of them, and soon she realizes that he's only hugging the head of the toy. The rest of it is still gone. Ripped apart by the guards, by Waller. Her eyes quickly drop to his bag by the end of the couch where she believes the rest of the toy must be, so she goes searching for it. Tatsu kneels down by the bag, quietly opening it up to look around for the rest of Pinky. She finds it and quickly tucks it underneath her arm, zipping the bag shut again and then taking a step closer to Boomerang.

It takes a minute to pry the toy out of his grip without waking him, but once it is free Tatsu lets out a breath and leaves. She carries the two parts of Pinky over to the bed, places them down there, then leaves to go upstairs and ask for the supplies to stitch the toy back together with. She will need the same things later to stitch her jacket back together in the places it was ripped, but for now she just wants it for Pinky. So she goes upstairs, leaves her request with the guard, then waits about two minutes before he comes back with the supplies.

Tatsu returns to Pinky after this, quickly deciding that the toy really isn't in bad shape at all. It just needs to be put back together, and if she does this perfectly then it will look as if it was never broken at all. That's what Tatsu wants, what she hopes this will give Boomerang; a chance to start over, to forget that the toy was broken, to forget what happened at Belle Reve and start again.

After she's seated on the bed, Tatsu begins to stitch the toy back into one piece. The string is white and thin, and will barely be visible once Pinky is back together. She's glad for that, and for the chance to do this for him. She may not know exactly what this means to him, but it is important and that means something to her. It makes her want to take care of Pinky and fix it for him, and it's why she works gently but quickly to fix the toy. It only takes a few minutes and when it's all done Tatsu feels pleased to see the result. It looks as if it was never broken at all.

The string isn't visible, and it looks as good as new. It looks exactly as it did the first time she saw it, and seeing it repaired means something to her. It means too much and she forces the thought from her head, focusing on the toy in her hand as she lifts it to the moonlight to examine it. Tatsu turns it over then stands with the supplies in one hand and the pony in the other. It's just as she gets up, as she's ready to leave and put the toy back into Boomerang's arms, that she looks over and discovers that he's not sleeping anymore.

He's awake and he's watching her, and at first Tatsu doesn't know what to do. She can't seem to find the words to explain why she is awake so late, stitching his toy back together for him. He doesn't even really look like he wants an explanation though, he just looks curious, like he's waiting to see what she does next. She thinks about staying, thinks about going over to him, but first she leaves to bring the supplies she borrowed back upstairs. Tatsu leaves them at the top of the stairs then returns to Boomerang, carrying Pinky over to him and to where he is now sitting up on the couch.

In the distance she listens as the basement door opens, shuts, then locks again. And once again they are left alone, it's just that this time it feels different.

"Here." she announces, offering him Pinky. "It is like it was never broken."

For a long time his attention is stuck on the toy like he can't look at anything else, and then he looks up at her, eyes bright and wide with disbelief.

"You fixed Pinky." he says, glancing back down to the toy. "Darl, you didn't have to do that."

He says it like he can't believe she's done this for him, when really for Tatsu it feels like the least she can do after they broke it. The only reason he had Pinky in his cell was because she gave it to him. She went against Waller's orders and gave him two things, the beer and the toy, when she should have listened. She just remembers wanting to give him something else to keep him going, and then she had found Pinky and it had felt right.

"I know. But they broke it because I gave it to you." Tatsu pauses, then takes a slow step back. "I wanted to do something to fix that."

Boomerang is quick to look up at her again when he's done running his fingers gently over the toy. He still looks lost, still looks filled with awe, and then he smiles and it is sweet and small.

"Was never yer fault, what they did. You were just tryin' to help." he says, then quickly looks back down to Pinky. "Shit, I don't really know what to say. Or where to start.."

She takes in a breath, feeling torn between what she wants and what should happen. They should keep this as it is. Messy, but with a few lines left between them, or this is what her heart tells her, because of the fear of being broken, of feeling too much.

"Then say nothing."

It is better this way, she thinks, as she turns back to the bed. It is better and easier if he says nothing because then there will be no feelings involved and nothing else will change. She doesn't want this, but her heart tells her that she should, that she needs to be careful with him.

When she's almost at the bed, Boomerang calls out.

"Yeah, I wish I could say nothing. But it's not that easy."

She stops slowly, then after a minute turns over her shoulder to look at him again. He is still on the edge of the couch, his bandaged fingers curled around the toy as he continues to watch her, to try to get a read on her. He's still lost, just as lost as she is. Maybe not in the same way she is, but he still is and she understands why.

"Really wish I could say nothing and just leave it be. But I can't." he sighs, dragging a hand along his jaw. "I tried. For a long time, I did. Kept all this shit to myself, but it turns out I'm not so good at keepin' my mouth shut when I should."

Silent at first, she glances him over. Then she turns to face him, taking a step towards him, even though she's still hearing that same warning from her heart.

Be careful.

"I wanted..To show you kindness."

He nods slowly. "And that's it? That's all it ever was?"

There's a part of her that wants to answer differently, it almost does. Be careful, the other voice inside of her head warns her, reminding her off the loss and the grief she once felt.

"Yes."

After this he gets to his feet. With Pinky still in his hands, he begins to walk over to her, not looking at all deterred by her words, or by the distance she has put between them. He closes it, coming closer to her slowly, with a different look on his face. Tonight he is unreadable, so she leaves it.

"Listen, darl, I won't push this. I'm not gonna put words in yer mouth 'cos they wouldn't mean anything." he says, as he comes to stand in front of her. "But I have to be honest and say that this is a lot more than you just doing yer job. Isn't it?"

Then he holds up the pink toy, glancing to it and then back to her.

"You know what this means to me. Knew it was all I wanted and you gave it to me, 'cos you wanted to help. It's special to me and you knew that. Tonight, and that day you gave him back to me. And that all means more than I can say."

Tatsu takes in a breath, tempted to turn away. In the end she doesn't, she can't bring herself to look away from him just yet.

"Then say nothing."

He thins a smile, shaking his head just a little.

"Wish I could. But I can't."

Slowly she takes in a breath, shutting her eyes as she thinks his words over, and then her own. Soon it comes to her, and before realizing it her own words are out there. They are only a half-truth. Something she feels she has to say to protect herself. Maybe there's even a part of her that's trying to protect him, too. If feelings are involved then he will be compromised. She will be the same. And Waller will use it. That's not something that Tatsu can allow to happen, so she's trying to protect both of them from this.

"I wish you would."

Boomerang still doesn't leave. "Why?"

He sounds closer, much closer than he was before, and even with her eyes still shut she can sense that he is only a few steps away from her. Then he stops and it is quiet for a while, for too long, and Tatsu knows that he is waiting for her. Waiting for an answer she really is trying to give him. You know why, she wants to say, because she needs him to know what this means to her. It is new, and different, and so is she, and maybe she is afraid of that.

Be careful, the voice reminds her again, as she thinks about their bond, and the tether, and how she finds herself feeling about him when he's with her, and even when he's gone he's still there. He never really leaves her, and she's only realized tonight that she doesn't want him to.

When her eyes open minutes later she finds Boomerang standing closer to her, with a look on his face that she knows she will never be able to read. So she doesn't try. She doesn't dwell on it and she moves on, focusing on the way he watches her as he takes another two steps closer to where she is and then stops again.

"You ever gonna admit it, darl? That you don't totally hate me?" he asks, voice different, faintly tense. "'Cos I've gotta be honest, I'm going a bit out of my mind here. Tried not saying anything. Really, I did. But it's hard 'cos this thing with us, I've felt it for ages. And I always thought there was no chance. But today, after what happened—I'm more lost than I was. And I think you know why."

His gaze is different this time when she looks back to it, looks back to him, and she knows it's because he is torn between staying and leaving. But it's more than that, it's more than just wanting to stay and it's even more than just wanting to kiss her again. This means something to him, more than the kisses, or the jokes, or all the times his gaze lingers on her. It means something and this scares her, because it was always easier when it meant nothing. Her life has always been easier with no feelings, no more attachments, and now he is bringing all of these things out in her and it is still difficult because she never thought that she would ever feel this way again. And for someone like him.

Boomerang is a criminal. A thief, a drunk, and a liar, too. But he is also kind, and he tries to be funny. He can be soft, and sweet, and for a few fleeting moments she has seen these sides to him that he hasn't shown to anyone else. She has seen something real in him, something she doesn't want to forget.

"You don't want me to talk about it, but you already know. Don't ya?" he asks, minutes later. "Already know what I'm feeling. What's going on here. So what's the harm in saying what we both know is already there—"

"You shouldn't say it. Because then it will mean something."

And it can't, is what she almost adds, but never says. She can't say it because despite her fears, and her grief, and the part of her that died all those years ago—she doesn't want to forget this, she doesn't want to pretend like there isn't more here, and she doesn't really want to believe that this means nothing when she knows that it does.

"Why?" Boomerang asks, quieter now. "Just tell me why. So maybe I'll have an answer for something."

She takes in a breath, closing her eyes again.

"Please."

It's all she can say for the moment while she takes the time to gather her thoughts. To push herself to decide what she wants, what she's always wanted. He gives her this minute and then it ends, and when Tatsu looks up again he isn't as close as he was. He's a step or two away, or maybe he was always that far away from her. He looks as if he's thinking about leaving, but he must make up his mind because he doesn't move at all. He stays there, unwavering gaze still on her through it all.

"What are you so afraid of?"

This. This, and him, and what comes with it. She is afraid that nothing will come of this moment, and at the same time she is afraid that something will come of it and then one day they will lose it because of who they are and the lives that they lead. She is afraid to have it and she is afraid to let it go, and she is not sure how to put this into words that he will ever understand.

"Nothing." she answers, watching him closely. "I am not afraid of anything."

Boomerang doesn't move, doesn't glance away from her, not even for a second.

"I'm sorry, darl. But I don't believe you." he answers swiftly. "I'm not asking anythin' from you that you can't give. But I know there's somethin' here. I can feel it. And I know you can, too. But you don't want there to be something here 'cos you're afraid."

She barely hesitates, but he notices it anyway. Boomerang reads it in her eyes, in the way that she takes in a slow breath, and it confirms something to him.

"I am not afraid."

A second slips by and he moves closer. It's only a step closer, but it feels like it's more than that. As he comes to stand in front of her, Boomerang's eyes flicker across her as if he is still searching for that same thing, that same confirmation, that she is in this with him, and she is. But she is still afraid, of so many little things, and she has already lost so much.

So has he.

This realization comes to her slowly. He has lost other things (his freedom, his old life, possibly even his mind at times). He has lost, too. And it's only after she realizes this, only as she starts to think about what he's been through and what he's lost, that she begins to think about how much this means to him. He is afraid, too. Afraid of nothing, afraid of everything. He's afraid of his cell, and of Waller, and of the life that he will go back to after this time is over. And Tatsu doesn't want that for him, she doesn't want him to be afraid and more than anything she doesn't want him to go back to that life as if all of this never happened, as if it was all just a dream.

"Yeah, you are. You are and I know why. It's 'cos of me." Boomerang goes on, looking as if he wants to come closer. He doesn't. "You're afraid 'cos you know me and you don't wanna feel this thing between us because of what that means."

No, she wants to say. It climbs up her throat and comes to sit on the tip of the tongue, but it won't come out—and maybe it's because he's right, that she never expected to ever know or care about someone like him, or maybe it's just because she is so tangled up in thoughts that the words simply won't come.

"I'm a criminal, yeah? I do bad things, I've always done bad things. And I'm never gonna change." he goes on, eyes heavy with a different kind of need now. "I'm a piece of shit, darl. You always knew that. You knew that coming into things and y'know it now. I remember the way you were before. You were ready to kill me 'till you changed yer mind. Then you were ready to kill someone to save me and I think that says it all. Don't you? And I reckon it scares you, 'cos you never meant for this to happen and now that it has you've got no idea what comes next."

At first she can only think about how he is right. Not about all of it, there are still things that she disagrees with. But most of it comes too close to how she is feeling right now. She was ready to kill him, to kill all of them, and then it changed. It only took fighting aliens with them in the city to begin the change, and then suddenly she went from being ready to kill them to being prepared to kill for them. He is right, she thinks, caught on the words.

It says enough. And still, she can't bring herself to say a word of it just yet. It's like her past and her mind are holding her back from saying any of this to the man in front of her.

"You don't know what you're talking about."

He seems unconvinced and looks almost tempted to roll his eyes.

"Don't I, Katana? Yeah, that's what I've gotta call you since you won't tell me your name. And why? Is it 'cos you don't have one? Nah, it's 'cos you don't want me getting close. You're happy to know about me, but won't say a thing about yerself."

Quietly she is torn again, between saying what she wants to say and what she should say. She wants to tell him that there is nothing to say, that she is a ghost now, just a shadow of her former self, and so there is nothing to say. And then at the same time she wants to admit that she has kept to herself, kept her name and other things from him, to keep the distance between them as if that was going to stop them from reaching this moment. Now she sees that it didn't, and that maybe nothing could have stopped this from happening.

"What do you want, George?" she asks quietly, minutes later. "What do you expect from this?"

Again he looks torn, between staying and leaving.

"Nothing. I want nothin' from you that you don't wanna give." he answers quickly, as if this is a question he has asked himself too many times. "I like you, darl. I like you a lot and I reckon we could have some real fun. And the thing is, I just can't get you off my mind. I know I should. I want what I shouldn't. I want what I'm probably never gonna really have. But I still want it, and I can't stop it."

Tatsu's jaw tightens as Boomerang takes a half step back. So he will leave then, she thinks, watching him quietly as he stops and considers it.

"What I want is to spend time with you, 'cos I like being around you. I feel good when you're around, you know? And I really do like you, even though I shouldn't 'cos I know where it's gonna go and how it's gonna end. But maybe I'm just sick of feeling like I'm already dead. Maybe I wanna live a bit before that, and maybe I wanna do that with you."

It means something to her. It means too much, and she feels overwhelmed, by his honesty and by the way he is watching her now. It means so much to him, too. It isn't something he is just saying. It isn't a lie, or a half truth. It is honesty, and he is sharing it with her, and it leaves her feeling connected to him, connected to his words. She wants that for him. Tatsu wants him to live his life, she wants more for him than what he has right now, and she isn't sure what she can give him but she knows she wants to give him something.

"Think I don't know ya, but I do. You like whiskey, I remember that one from the city. You care about Flag a lot. And us, too. Don't think I'm ever gonna know the answer to that one, but you care. You're an amazin' fighter. I've never seen anybody fight like you. You're fast, and you listen, and I reckon you know way more than you ever let on. You don't laugh or smile all that much. Or ever. But you almost did. You like sunshine, and bein' outside, and you don't have a home anymore but you used to."

A heavy silence follows. It doesn't last, but while it does it feels endless.

"And I know you've been through some rough shit, 'cos I have and I can recognize it in you."

It makes her think of the fire. Her scars, and his. The prison fights, the guards, her victims, and all of that blood. Then she thinks of her home, the one she lost and the one she left behind, and she's not sure that he has been through the same kind of hell that she has—but from the way he says it, and the way he looks as her, she knows he has been through something that has bound them together in a similar way. They've both been through hard times, and maybe in their own ways they are still working out how to survive what they've been through.

Tatsu isn't sure that she will ever be free of her past and what she lost. And right now, she can see in his eyes that it's the same for him. So maybe in most ways they aren't the same, but tonight it feels like they are closer than they've ever been and that what they have been through has drawn them here to each other, to this moment now.

"And you know what? You know me, too. Much better than you probably even think you do." he continues, quieter now. "Y'know I like whiskey, beer, and diamonds. And that I like our little group, as much as those dickheads can piss me off a bit. And ya know I like you. Think you've known for a while. I think you know more than you let on, even to yerself."

Another pause follows. A silence that she both welcomes and hates. In it he takes a step back, glancing down to the floorboards as a tiny smile appears and then fades from his lips.

"I meant what I said, 'bout how this is gonna end. I'm guessin' you know, too."

With this he looks up, away from the ground and back up to her eyes.  And in his eyes she catches that same longing, that same need, for something more. Something from her, that she wants to give but is still struggling with.

"This is gonna go just like everything else does." he pauses, offering her that small smile again. "But just 'cos it's gonna end doesn't mean we can't have some fun before it does."

Tatsu draws in a breath, eyes stuck on him.

"I am not looking for.."

Whatever she is about to say, whatever is on her mind, slips away. She loses the words, loses the will to tell him that she is not looking for something here when she knows that she is.

"What? What are you lookin' for? It's gotta be somethin', right? You keep coming back to us, and I know you don't wanna see it like this but it's the truth. You keep coming back to us.  You think that means nothing?"

For a minute after this he watches her as if he is waiting for her to deny it, and to then turn away and leave him to these thoughts. But that thought, the thought to leave him or to keep denying this to him, doesn't even cross her mind. Be careful, the voice reminds her, one last time, but she is too consumed with a need to be honest that she can't think of anything else.

"You are right. This...It means something." she admits, to him and to herself. "You are stuck in my head, too."

Chapter Text

The Captain tastes of ash and whiskey when he kisses her, his calloused fingers ghosting across her ribs before they come to settle at her waist. Be careful, the voice in her head tells her, only once, before it is replaced with a new thought, a new desire, that replaces everything else. Closer, it whispers, as Boomerang's hands wind around her and he reaches down for another kiss. Her body is still, her gaze stuck on him, as his lips gently crush against hers and she feels herself quickly becoming consumed by it and by the way it feels to be this close to him again.

She wants to stay and so does he. Tatsu lets herself stay, she even lets herself come closer. As his hands stay on her waist, she brings hers up to his skin, wanting to touch him, to feel that connection that she felt a glimpse of earlier, before it ended. Closer, she tells herself, while she lifts a gentle hand to Boomerang's jaw, the other to the side of his neck. It takes her back to the cell and gives her little pieces of that moment. His hand against her cheek, and then his fingers, soft and gentle, playing with her hair. She wants to feel that again, she wants more than that. She wants, and wants, and it has been so long since she has let herself want anything, so this is all new and unfamiliar for her. And from the way that Boomerang looks at her when they separate, she knows it is the same for him.

In the moonlight his eyes look different. She is captivated by it, and the way his gaze roams across her face so openly. With no reservations, no fear, he lets himself look at her as if this is the first time he has really let himself look at her. He always looks at her, she's always known that, but this is different. There is so much about them, and about this moment, that is different, and it will follow them after they leave this place.

He knows the truth now, that this means something to her, that he does, and somehow admitting that truth to him has helped Tatsu admit it to herself. And now she knows the truth, too. She knows her truth, and his, and it feels as if something has been lifted from her, or at least this is what she allows herself to believe, as she moves the hand from his neck down to his forearm and she pulls him down towards her. She kisses him first this time, stretching up on her toes to meet his hardened lips for a kiss that is still too sweet, too soft, for a man like him.

And then it dawns on Tatsu that maybe he is both of these men at once. He is harsh, and sweet, and volatile—and somehow he is still soft, despite all that he has endured. His touch on her waist is light, almost not there at all, and it is always gentle, despite the damage has has done to his hands and the damage he has inflicted with them.

Slowly she sinks deeper into him, as she tries for a moment to forget all of the thoughts that tell her that she doesn't deserve this, that they shouldn't be doing this. They shouldn't be shouldn't be kissing, they shouldn't be this close. But those thoughts slowly leave her and all that she can hear after they are gone is one word. Closer. It is all she lets herself think about tonight, when she is here with him and they are suddenly so close, so honest, with each other. Tatsu doesn't want to think about the complications of this, or about what they deserve. She doesn't know if she deserves this, or if she deserves anything good after all of the things that she's done. She's not even sure that this is good for either of them, but tonight it feels like it could be so she embraces it.

She pulls him closer, pressing her lips hard to his as they take a few steps backwards together. Not to the bed, but back to the couch. It's closer than the bed, and for tonight it's where they end up. Boomerang says nothing, he just takes the steps back with her, following her lead for most of the way. He kisses her as they move back to the couch, and when he's just a step away from it he stretches in for a deeper, longer kiss. It sends tiny little jolts of warmth through her body and she doesn't want it to ever end.

They only separate to sit down on the couch. Boomerang ends up on there first. He plops down onto the soft couch, reaching out to grab her hand on the way down. Once he's seated he tugs her down with him, rough fingers curled around hers as he guides her over to him. His other hand curls around her waist and brings her closer, and soon they end up almost how they were before, only this time it's all a little different.

Boomerang is sitting up on the couch, his back cushioned by the pillows, his hands on her. And Tatsu is sitting on his lap, her knees pressed into the couch on either side of him, his arms around her. It's only once they're settled that she realizes how intimate, how warm, it all is. But she doesn't leave. She makes herself stay, she brings herself closer, despite the way her skin burns. It's a comfortable warmth and it stays with her, as her eyes flicker up through the darkness to meet Boomerang's. His eyes are soft, and happy, and in this light he looks different. She thinks that he always does, that he is always changing, and she doesn't mind it at all.

She takes a minute to remember it; his face, half-covered by shadows. His eyes, bright and sparkling. And his smile, as it starts to spread over his lips. Sweet and lovely. Tatsu remembers it all then she brings herself back to this moment, back to him. She starts by lifting a hand to his jaw, just underneath the bruise near his eye. Her fingers brush across his cheek slowly, as if touching someone else is so new for her, and maybe it is because it's been so long. Years, and years she went without touching anyone like this. Years she went without being touched. And now here is a man, the last person she expected it to be, who she trusts enough to be this close with.

Here is a man who has done nothing but prove himself to her, and now they are here like this and she doesn't regret any of it. Maybe she will look back on this moment and regret it all but for now, for tonight, she doesn't let herself even think about what's coming for them. She only thinks about this, and him, and the way she feels when she's around him.

The taste of whiskey lingers in his mouth when he kisses her. The ashy taste is almost gone but the whiskey remains. She doesn't care. She kisses him anyway, very much aware of the way Boomerang's fingers tighten against her skin, or how he pulls her just a little closer when they kiss again. She quietly wonders for a moment if he's hearing the same thing in his head right now, too.

Closer.

With one hand around her waist, Boomerang tugs her forward while still kissing her. Just enough that now their chests are almost pressed to each other's, and there's almost no space between them anymore, but tonight she doesn't want that. She doesn't want space or distance. She wants to feel close, so she welcomes the way he brings her closer, and how his hand on her waist moves around to her back, to a spot just above her spine. His other hand ends up resting on her thigh, on the open patch of skin where it was before, and Tatsu doesn't mind at all.

She lets herself explore him, too. She lets her hands move over rough and uneven patches of skin, down to his broad shoulders, and then to the places on his forearms that aren't bruised or covered in bandages. Tatsu lets herself explore as much as she can, until she feels as if she needs a breath. She leans back slowly, almost missing the warmth of his lips as she pulls away from him. She doesn't really move away though, she stays sitting on his waist, with one hand pressed to his chest. The other lingers in the air, uncertain, until it ends up on his jaw, on a smooth patch of skin not bruised or covered in a bandage. She lets her thumb rest there, tracing a thin line over the spot, before it slips away and ends up on his shoulder.

It turns out that Boomerang needs a moment, too. A moment just to think, a moment to breathe. When she looks up she finds that his eyes are wide and filled with the tiniest shadow of doubt, as if he is wondering if this is all another dream.

"This means—" she begins, but can't finish.

It means something and he knows that now, just as she does. It means something and she knows that Boomerang can see that in her eyes. She can see it in his eyes, too. This means something to both of them, maybe it always has, but tonight is the first time they've admitted it. There is something intense and unavoidable between them, maybe it's always been there, and Tatsu is fully aware of that now. She thinks that she's always known, she's just refused to feel it, to see it, until now.

Across from her, just inches from her face, Boomerang slowly begins to smile at her.

"Nothing?" he asks, lifting an eyebrow. "Right, darl. I gotcha. I'm good at keeping secrets."

Her hand flattens across his chest, across the fabric of his shirt, as she finds herself thinking about the way her hands felt on his skin for the moment that they were there. It makes her think about the last time she was ever this close to someone. It feels like that was another lifetime, another person, She's not sure what this will be, or where it will take them, but she knows that he is right and that this is a secret. It has to be theirs.

Before she can say a word, Boomerang kisses her again. She feels herself relax as his lips crush into hers, and his hand starts to trace soft circles up her thigh.

"No one can know." she tells him, between brief, warm kisses. "George, you—"

"Yeah, sure. I got it, boss." Boomerang answers, sounding distracted. "It means nothing. No one can know. Right, the usual then."

She quickly leans away from him, a hand back on his chest to keep him there. Tatsu wants to kiss him again. As her hand keeps him there, and as his eyes flicker to hers, she feels herself filled with a longing to go back to kissing him. But first he needs to understand that no one can know about this. She knows that she will have to talk to Porter, to make sure that he says nothing, but for now there is nothing she can do about it. For now she needs to make sure that this stays between the two of them.

"They can't know." Tatsu repeats, holding his gaze. "Tell me that you understand?"

He nods once, a little more serious. Then he pulls a face, the smirk still faintly there, as the fingers at her waist move and begin to lightly run up and down her spine.

"Who am I gonna tell? Them?" he asks, then scoffs. "Yeah, like I'm gonna tell 'em and ruin a good thing."

Tatsu lets out a breath, suddenly overcome with relief—not because she doesn't want them to know, but because Waller can't know. Before any of this started, before Tatsu even knew the Captain or cared for him, Waller found a way to use him against her. And now? Tatsu isn't sure there's anything Waller wouldn't do if she found out. She'd use both of them against each other and there would be nothing they could do. But if they do this, if they really keep it just between the two of them, then they still have the power. It's not Waller's, it's theirs, and that's how it should be. It's how it needs to be, and Tatsu feels relieved to know that Boomerang seems to get it.

"You won't say anything?" she asks.

He smiles, still tracing patterns on her back.

"C'mon, darl. Think about it, yeah? Even if I did say somethin', they'd never believe it. They'd think think I was lyin' or just messing with them. So there's that. And honestly? I don't really want to tell 'em. So it's all good. I won't say anything to the group."

"I was more concerned about Waller."

With an overly dramatic groan, Boomerang throws his head back onto the couch and squeezes his eyes shut. He stays like this for at least thirty seconds, sighing loudly before he speaks.

"Ohh. We don't have to talk about her right now, do we?" he asks, then cracks an eye open. "It's gonna ruin the mood, darl. And I really, really don't want that to happen. I dunno about you but I'm pretty happy here."

She nods briefly, eyes roaming over him again. She doesn't say it but she feels the same way, that she doesn't want to spend tonight talking about Waller, or about anyone at Belle Reve. Tonight is just theirs, and that's all that she wants it to be. Tatsu just wants to be here with him now, everything else can wait until the morning.

"What do you want to talk about then?" 

This seems to amuse him, because for a moment he just smiles at her. Then he comes closer, a hand moving back to her thigh, the other down to her waist, as he leans in for another kiss. And this time she is almost surprised by force of it, not because it is rough but because it is intense. It is filled with that same need from earlier. She feels the same and brings herself closer, one hand pressed to his side as he kisses her slowly.

"I figured that you didn't wanna do much talkin'. But if you wanna do—"

"What you're thinking," Tatsu pauses, pressing a light kiss to his lips. "We aren't doing that."

Slowly grinning, Boomerang kisses her back. 

"Might have to be a bit more specific, darl." he goes on, bringing his hand further up her thigh. "What I'm thinkin'—well, let's just say that I'm thinkin' about a lot right now. So you might wanna narrow it down a little bit."

As her hand slides down to his ribs, just above the little bruises there, she pulls back to look at him.

"And I think you know what I mean."

"Yeah, sure. Fair enough. I get ya, darl. And it's not like there's all that much privacy here anyway." Boomerang says, smiling as tilts his head back. "So, what—you just wanna sit here for a bit? Alright, yeah. That works for me, 'cause right here's pretty good for me. How 'bout you?"

She nods again, just slightly, before leaning in to kiss him again. Tatsu leans into him more this time, her hand sliding to rest against the side of his neck as she thinks back to the prison, to the needle that was almost jammed into his throat. It's why her fingers stay there, gently caressing the spot, and quietly she is surprised by her softness towards him. It doesn't stop her though. She isn't deterred by the realization, that she is being soft with him, that she never thought that she could be. She just leans into him a little more, welcoming the closeness.

"We can stay." she tells him soon.

It's her way of agreeing, of telling him that she likes the way it feels to sit here with him. To have his hands on her, and his lips so close. She can only think of this as he lifts his hand up, away from her thigh and to her cheek. For half a second he nearly hesitates then he reaches out, slowly brushing his fingers against her cheek.

"Can talk, if that's what you wanna do." he pauses, as he starts to smile. "Wanna hear something funny?"

Tatsu nearly smirks, amused. She hides it well enough.

"From you?"

This makes him smile even more, as his fingers stretch to brush the strands of hair away from her cheek. Tatsu swallows tightly and watches him, as he plays with those few strands of hair and seems distracted by them.

"Yeah, yeah. Alright, luv, I get it." he smirks faintly. "I dunno if it's really funny. It's just..You wanna know what I dreamed about? Pretty sure you can guess what it was."

Tatsu hums, watching him quietly as something warm flickers across his face. Then she realizes what it is. She's seen it before, from the moment in the cell when she gave him the beer and the toy. And again in the field, for just a moment there, she saw it. So she knows what it is, but it's only now that she really understands it.

He's happy.

"I'm gonna guess that you dreamed 'bout me, too. Yeah?" he grins. "Maybe just a little bit, hey?"

"It was something..else."

Looking curious, Boomerang's smile grows and she is almost lost in it. Tatsu is almost lost in it, in the way it makes him look so relaxed, so different. And then there are the little lines on his face when he smiles that she wants to stretch out and touch. She doesn't. She just watches him, as his hand returns to rest against her face. He traces a finger there, glancing her over curiously as if he is trying to get into her head.

"Yeah? Something else, huh? Sounds mysterious." he says, serious for about two seconds. "Lemme guess: You had a dirty dream 'bout Waller, aye? That's why you wanted to talk about her before. Or maybe it was about the Big Man upstairs? Shit, darl. I'm a bit jealous I wasn't there instead."

At first she is torn, between rolling her eyes and smiling at him. But in the end she says nothing, she just eyes him off in a close way, until she finds the words to let him know what it was about.

"It wasn't that. It was the desert. The one you told me about."

His face softens and suddenly he is serious.

"Yeah?" Boomerang asks. "Did ya like it?"

She nods, as she thinks of all the answers she could give him. Tatsu almost tells him that she gets it, why he wants to go back there, why he craves it so much, but eventually she settles on something simple, something that it feels like he's looking for right now.

"It was peaceful."

There's a minute after this where Boomerang says nothing, and Tatsu leaves him to it. She leaves him to the thoughts spiralling through his head and she just stays there until he comes back to her. The first thing he does after he comes back is tug her closer with the hand curled around her waist. Then he kisses her, just once, just for a moment.

"Let's stay here for a while, yeah?" he says, watching her closely. "I know, yeah? I know we gotta go. I know someone could come down. Porter could burst in again, or whatever. But just for a while..Let's stay?"

In the quiet of the basement the rest of his words slip away, but Tatsu understands it. She feels as if she does anyway, because she knows him and because right now she feels just as he does. They are both tired, weary from Belle Reve, but somehow this moment takes all of that away. It takes away everything else and leaves them with just this, leaves them with just each other, and for now this is all that Tatsu wants, just to be here with him.

"Yes. We can stay."

 

**

 

In the morning Tatsu wakes early.

Daylight fills her vision when her eyes open and at first she is blinded. Then slowly it fades and her vision clears, giving her a chance to look at the tiny space around her, and after turning over her shoulder she quickly learns that Boomerang isn't curled up uncomfortably on the little couch like he was last night. He's on the bed with her, sleeping with a green blanket pulled up to his shoulder. And he's not alone. There's a small lump between his arms, hidden underneath the blanket, that is identical to the plush toy's shape and size. Her eyes linger on the spot before moving over to the little piece of pink fur sticking out at the top of the blanket that confirms to her that it is Pinky in his arms.

She smiles at this, at the pink toy cuddled between his arms. It's only a brief smile but it lingers as she glances him over again. She soon realizes that she's also smiling because he's resting. He's taking care of himself and this is all she wants. So to see him still sleeping comforts her, more than she can think about right now. It's why she decides to leave, to step outside for a while and give him the space to himself. But before she leaves, she stays for another minute and watches him.

His bruises are darker now. It could be worse though, and this is what she reminds herself of as she assess the rest of his injuries. His face is less puffy, less swollen in places, and the bruises along his jaw and on his shoulder seem to be slowly healing. Her eyes move away from there soon and shift over to the spot on his shoulder, on his back where his stitches are, but she decides to leave it and look later. He looks comfortable like this, covered with the blanket, the soft toy between his arms and a peaceful look on his face. She doesn't want to disturb him, she can't. She leaves him as he is and watches on quietly, and soon she finds herself thinking about last night.

Tatsu finds herself thinking of little kisses. Hands on her hips, in her hair. She remembers her fingers against his cheek, and then in his hair. The last thing she remembers is sitting with him, and then nothing. And then this. She's not sure how or when they ended up here, but she knows that she didn't carry him here and put him on the bed. She also didn't put herself here, or cover herself with a blanket. That was him. She almost smiles at this thought, as she pushes the blanket away and swings her legs over the side of the bed.

It hurts but she pushes through it, gathering her things (her clothes, her weapons) and carrying them over to the tub. Boomerang's asleep but she closes the curtain anyway and it's only once it's shut that she really lets herself feel it. Her body aches from the cuts, the grazes, and all that energy she put into the battle at Belle Reve. She tries not to dwell on it, to let herself be consumed by it, but it's hard. She takes in a sharp breath, wincing as she undresses and discards the baggy t-shirt to the floor.

Her body is bruised. Tatsu can barely look at it, as she steps into her pants, ties on her red sash, and then moves to sit on the edge of the tub. Her breaths come slow and heavy after this; she is tired, and she imagines that she will be tired for at least a few more days. She needs rest, more than what she's had, but it's been a long time since she let herself rest and she's stubborn. She wants to rest, and she wants the same for the Captain.

This place is good for him. She can see that, even with the way he is now. He's quietly sleeping on a bed, cuddled up with a toy and a blanket, and he's at peace. Here he is calm. There is no rage, no pain, and no anger. Boomerang is relaxed, and away from the stress of Belle Reve, and she finds herself wishing that he could always have this.

That stays with her, as she dresses slowly. Tatsu pulls on her wrap, carefully tightening it around her chest until it is secured. Then she ties it away and sits down onto the edge of the tub, to rest and to then pull on her boots. After she ties her boots on she stays there, eyes fixed on a spot on the floor, as the pain slowly subsides. Minutes later when she feels up to it, Tatsu gets back onto her feet, picks up her jacket, and steps out of the tiny enclosed area. Her jacket ends up on the table, to be stitched back together later. For now she is left to the silence, and to the choice to stay and risk waking him, or to leave and go upstairs for a moment of quiet and sunshine.

The stairs feel twice as long today as Tatsu takes them up to the door, leaving Soultaker behind for now. She doesn't need it right now, so it stays downstairs with the sleeping Captain. Her thoughts stay on him, even as she reaches on the door, knocks, and then asks for Porter's permission to step outside. The man at the door leaves and then returns shortly after, confirming to her that Porter's answer is yes. She says nothing and walks through the front of the house, out to the porch and then down onto the pale porch stairs that lead her down to a winding gravel path.

It looks different in the light. The land is vast and her eyes sweep over it closely, taking in the little things. There's a field of wheat near the house that covers a lot of the land, but even after this there is so much space left. It leaves her wondering what it would be like to live here, with endless land and light, where things are quiet and warm, and so unlike the dirt and the haze of noise and violence that she finds in Gotham.

Tatsu's thoughts eventually take her away from Gotham and back to this place, back to him. She starts to think about what he would say, what he would be like, if he were out here with her now where everything is so calm, so hopeful, even for just a moment. This stays with her, as she walks down the narrow path and off to the side, to a swing hanging from an old brown tree. The swing is long and thin, with a wooden seat big enough for at least two on it, and when Tatsu reaches it she sits on it. She doesn't remember making the decision, she just finds herself sitting there soon, her gaze on the sky and her hands curled around the rope tied to the tree.

She's only there for a minute, maybe just a little more, with her feet swinging up and down from the ground, when she realizes that she's not alone anymore. It reminds her of the field, of how she knew he was there before she realized it, and it's the same now. She knows that Colonel Porter is here with her before he says anything, and when she finally turns to look over her shoulder she finds him carrying over two cups of coffee.

"Morning." Porter smiles, then offers her a cup. "Coffee?"

"Thank you."

After taking the yellow mug from him, Tatsu closes her eyes and takes a small sip of coffee. A rush of warmth hits her and she welcomes the way it tastes so good, and how things almost feel a little better already.

"You know, you really shouldn't be out here. Rick would be pissed off with me if he knew." Porter sighs, moving a hand to his hip. "But I suppose a little bit of sunlight can't hurt."

Her eyes open slowly, quickly drawn to the field nearby.

"It looks safe enough." she answers soon. "And if it isn't, I can handle myself."

There's a small laugh from Colonel Porter by her side, as his gaze eventually follows hers out to the field and then over the rest of the farm. He doesn't spend much time looking around and when he turns back to her it becomes clear why that is. There's something on his mind, something that he wants to say but can't. She knows what it is without a word, it's not hard to work out what it is. It's last night, it's what happened with the Captain, what he saw and what he walked away from.

"Alright, I guess I'll make an exception. But just for half an hour." he says, sighing quietly. "Because somehow you managed to stop George from causing any trouble last night. I'm impressed. And I have to say, I'm also surprised. Didn't think he had it in him, to not cause trouble."

It takes her back to last night. The Captain's arms around her waist, her hands on his shoulders, and his lips pressed to hers—

"Yes." she clears her throat, looking forward. "George is...Full of surprises."

Porter laughs again. "Oh, I bet he is." he says, only to pause seconds later. "So, uh..You two got on well then? No problems? Nothing to report back to Rick?"

At first, she just nods in response. Then she takes a sip of coffee, caught up on the thoughts of last night as she tries to answer Porter's questions. They got on well enough, and there weren't any problems, but that doesn't mean that last night won't create any problems for them in the future.

But for now, things are perfectly fine.

"Yes. Well enough."

Tatsu expects Colonel Porter to be done now, to walk away with his coffee and leave her, but he doesn't walk away. He comes closer, bringing his half-finished coffee with him, as he steps forward into her vision with a look on his face that confirms to her that there is still something on his mind that he intends to share with her.

"Great. That's good to know. Let's hope it stays that way." he says soon. "We got word from Rick this morning, should only be here for two more days. Three at the most. Then we'll be on our way back to Belle Reve."

Two more days. She's not sure why it feels so small, like such little time, but it does. Maybe she should feel glad that this will be over, but after last night she's not sure that's what she's feeling at all. And if it surprises her that they only have two days then she's not sure how the Captain will take it. He won't be calm, this she knows. He will be losing his last little piece of freedom and he will be returned to a place that has never been kind to him. It will get to him, and right now she finds herself only concerned with what she can do to help him.

"There will be no surprises from the Captain." she ends up saying. "I will make sure he doesn't create any trouble here."

"That's great. That's good to know, that he seems to listen to you. He needs that, needs someone to listen to. Someone to show him the way..." Porter says, slowly lifting his gaze to hers. "You know, Rick never mentioned that the two of you were—"

"We're not."

She's not sure that she knows what Porter was going to say, but she knows what she needs to do. She needs to make it clear to him that there is nothing there, that what he saw between the two of them meant nothing. Tatsu knows that there is something there with Boomerang and she won't deny it to herself, even if it sometimes feels messy and difficult to understand. She will be honest with herself, but she can't be with Porter. It has to stay between just the two of them, it's the only way that she can protect him.

"Oh, well. It just.."

Slowly Porter trails off, clearly unsure of how to proceed.

"It was nothing." Tatsu tells him. "And I would appreciate it if you said nothing. It would create unnecessary problems. Problems that the Captain does not need."

He nods, quick to agree. "Yeah, of course. I won't say a thing. But while I have you here, there was something that I wanted to say.""

It becomes clear to Tatsu now that this means something to Colonel Porter. It's not difficult to read him, and as she does she discovers that this is personal to him. Maybe it's more than just her, and the Captain, and what he saw. Maybe it's about his past, about someone he once knew. She doesn't know exactly what it means, but it's clear to her now that he wouldn't be standing here with her if he didn't feel like he had to be here

"Just wanted to give you a bit of..Advice." Porter says, faintly smiling. "From a friend to a friend. You should know that this, whatever it is, whatever it isn't..It doesn't end well for anyone."

Tatsu hesitates, despite all that she wants to say and all that she can say. She finds herself running out of the words, of where to start, where to begin—with him and with herself. She can't decide if she wants to convince herself that she doesn't know what Porter is talking about, and then she almost wants to convince him of the same thing, but for a moment she can't bring herself to say anything.

"For people like that. And people like us..."

"People like them?" Tatsu asks, speaking before she's aware of it. "Criminals, you mean?"

As she stands from the swing, placing the coffee behind her, she feels herself slowly becoming with consumed with a blur of emotions and feelings from earlier. But despite these emotions, despite what she may feel for them, she still knows who they are. Tatsu's always known who they are. She is less sure of who she is, but she is fully aware of who they are and what they've done. That has never been unclear to her, even now.

"I know what he is." Tatsu says, to Porter, to herself. "And I know who I am."

"That's not all of what I meant. Look, what I meant—clearly, I've overstepped. And I never intended to, okay? I'm not claiming to know either of you, but I do know about you. I've heard about you, and I read all there is to know about him. That's not the same thing but it's close. I know that you know him, too. Who he is, and why he is where he is."

When Porter quickly becomes quiet after this, Tatsu feels as if she already knows what he will say next. They are different, they always have been. And she has always been keenly aware of this and of their differences, but just because they are different doesn't mean that in some ways they aren't the same. She longs for her old life just as he does, and they are both willing to come together and fight for something more than themselves. This is what she knows, this is what ties them to each other, despite everything else.

She doesn't expect Porter to understand, and she knows from the way that he's watching her that he doesn't. There's still more that he wants to say, but she soon realizes that he doesn't actually look like he wants to say it. He still looks like he's only talking to her about this, about Boomerang, because he feels like he has to and that's all it is. He is still kind, still concerned for both of them, and that is the only reason he is here now speaking to her about this.

"What I mean is, I've seen plenty of men like him to know what he's like. And again, I'm not saying that I know him." Porter explains soon, much quieter this time. "But I have seen good people fall in with people who are never gonna be more than what they are right now. I'm not talking about who he is and what he's done. I'm talking about where he's going back to, where he's gonna be 'till he's an old man and then after that."

Ten years off a triple life sentence.

Tatsu's read their files, she knows who they are and why they're imprisoned at Belle Reve, but sometimes she forgets to think about how long they will be there for, especially Boomerang. He will be there for life. This isn't news to her, she's always known this. She's known it since she read his file. He will never have his freedom, he will never have the life that he still longs for, but hearing it now from Colonel Porter really makes her think about it.

"That kinda thing is never gonna end well."

Soon his voice brings her back, to this, to what she's wanted to say since Porter walked in on them.

"I'm not sure what you think you know or saw, but last night—it was a moment. It was only that, and it is something I wish for you and I to never speak for again. There is nothing for you to be concerned about, Colonel. I assure you of that."

"I fully understand that. And of course, we don't have to talk about this again." he nods, smiling a little again. "Didn't mean to involve myself. I was just trying to pass on a bit of advice, that's all it was. Guess I felt I owed it to Flag to look out for his friend."

Tatsu nods, now finished with this conversation, with the thoughts that linger. And with her coffee. She leaves it behind as she takes two steps away from Colonel Porter then stops, slowly turning back to him.

"I understand. Thank you for the coffee, Colonel." she says, hesitating. "If it's allowed, I'd like to take a small walk before I return downstairs."

From where he's standing by the swing, Porter offers her one last smile.

"Sure, Katana. Be my guest. Just don't stray too far."

Porter's words stay with her, even as she leaves him to walk over to the field, and then over to the scattered old trees planted across the farm. For a minute she considers sitting beneath one and spending her time out here, with the soft wind brushing against her skin and the warm sunlight spilling down onto her through the leaves, but after their conversation about the Captain she's not sure that she'd enjoy it.

Her mind is too messy now. Too messy, too busy, and too filled with thoughts of the Captain. Triple life sentence. She's always known it, so it shouldn't feel this way, shouldn't feel like a surprise. And after thinking on it, she realizes that it doesn't really feel like a surprise at all. It's more that she didn't let herself think about it until now.

The Captain's words from last night come back to her suddenly, in quiet little pieces. I'm a criminal. I do bad things. You always knew that, he'd told her, and she knows it's the truth. It's always been the truth, and she's always known that. Always known him. But there's still more to him, more than even he knows, and this is what stays with her. She doesn't linger on Porter's words, not really, because she knows Boomerang better than he does. She knows him, and in a way he knows her, and this is their own truth. She doesn't care for Porter's observations, or for anyone else's. This is just theirs, and it has been since the moment they met.

They are bound together, and it's been there since the city. Today is just the first morning since that night that she's allowed herself to really accept what this is and what it means. She carries this with her as she walks through the farm, the sunlight still seeping down onto her skin. Somehow it feels less warm now.

You don't wanna feel this thing between us because of what that means.

It's all with her now. He's with her now and she can't deny it. She can't deny what he feels, or what he said, and she can't deny the way that she felt last night. Tatsu's eyes squeeze shut at the thought, of tiny kisses in the moonlight, and calloused hands on hers. His are the first hands that she's let hold her in years. His are the first to touch her, and his lips are the first to kiss hers, since Maseo.

And that means something. She won't deny it, she thinks it would be impossible to. This means something to her, that he is the first person she has kissed since her husband. He is the first and the only one that she has wanted to kiss since Maseo, and this realization means more than she expects it to. She is suddenly met with a rush of guilt, and need, and a truth that only sinks in now.

Boomerang's words mean more to her now that she's realized the truth in them. Her own, quiet truth in his words, in his honesty. Maybe I'm sick of feeling like I'm already dead, she remembers him saying, in a desperate plea to show her the truth, a plea for Tatsu to show him the truth, too Maybe I wanna live a bit before that, and maybe I wanna do that with you.

She decides now that this is why she feels so tied to him, why she feels as if she understands him so much better today than she ever has before. It's because of what she feels now, what she realizes they share in common. Sometimes she feels as if she is already dead, too. Tatsu welcomes death, she always has since the night she lost them. She's always ready for battle, for death, for whatever comes after, because she's always known what dying will mean. It means seeing Maseo again, it means she will finally find peace, and she has been ready for that since the fire. She thinks that she will always be ready for it.

At the prison, she was ready to die. For them, she's always told herself, but the truth is she was ready to die for herself, too. She's been ready since the fire to die, ready for it all to end, but somehow she keeps surviving. That's all it is. It's not living, she hasn't really lived in years. She's been surviving, it's all she's needed to do, and she's learned to be good at it. Maybe she's become too good at it, she thinks now, as her gaze turns back to the house where she thinks of Boomerang sleeping underneath a soft cloud of light.

She can't remember the last time she felt something real, something good or almost good, until last night. Until him. And it is this realization that tells Tatsu what she needs to do next, with this, with him. She can't run, she won't. She wants this, and perhaps somewhere deep inside of her, somewhere deep down, she wants to do more than just survive. Maybe underneath it all, there's a part of her that wants to live. And maybe it's always been there, buried under grief and hate, or maybe it's just been born again, because of him.

Chapter Text

Tatsu is lost in her head, caught between the thoughts of last night and the first night they met, when Boomerang comes outside to join her on the porch. The sky is dark around them, lit up with tiny stars. And with the exception of the song playing on the radio back inside the house, there's no other sounds or noises for miles. For now, with Porter and his team split up between the house and the barn, it's just the two of them out here and for a moment that thought comforts her, that they might have some time to themselves.

It's been a long day, of cigarettes, card-games, and patching up each other's wounds again. But despite spending the entire day in the Captain's company, Tatsu doesn't feel bothered by his presence here tonight. She actually finds herself quietly welcoming the familiar sound of his footsteps behind her, the creak in the floorboards as he comes forward, and the usual over-dramatic sigh he does when he's around her, as he comes to sit by her side on the pale porch stairs.

Once he's settled he clears his throat, lifts his head up to the sky, and spends a minute staring up at the stars as if he is trying to remember what they look like for later, for Belle Reve.

"So..Three days, huh?"

She nods, watching him from the corner of her vision as he gets comfortable beside her. Up close she notices the little things now, like the new bandage on his jaw, the reflection of light in his eyes, and the fact that he is freshly showered. He smells like lavender.

"Three." she says quietly. "Or two."

Boomerang tenses and for a long time says nothing. His eyes are wide, filled with something that she doesn't try to read, as he looks back up at the sky. A minute later he glances down her, a soft smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

For a moment she almost reaches out, almost touches his jaw, almost kisses him. Tatsu comes close, much closer than she means to when she thinks about where they are and how little privacy there is out here. She considers doing it anyway, kissing him like she has wanted to since last night, or just touching him, if only for a brief moment, but for now she doesn't let herself move at all.

"Shit. That's all? Two or three days?" he asks, noticeably frustrated. "Thought it was gonna be a bit longer than that."

Slowly Tatsu opens her mouth, to comfort him, or to agree with him and admit that she always thought it might be longer than this, too. Then she thinks about talking to him about why this bothers him; she still doesn't really know why what happened to him at Belle Reve happened. She doesn't know what went on when she wasn't there, and what he came so close to telling her in the room when it was just the two of them.

He was afraid, she remembers seeing it. And now he is fine, he is back to himself, and even if she wants to ask him about it all she can't. Tatsu decides to leave it for when they return, because for now he is here and he is happy enough, and this is all that matters tonight.

"You're disappointed?"

Boomerang shrugs, as he leans back against the stairs. He folds an arm over his chest, over the top of his black t-shirt, as his eyes shut and he lets out a sigh.

"Yeah, but don't worry. I'll get over it."

For now she says nothing and just observes him. She takes in the small things again, like his silence and the way he seems to be holding himself together. He is relaxed but there is something else there, something small holding him back, and without any confirmation she knows what it is.

"How are you feeling?" Tatsu asks him soon.

He smiles, eyes open again, as he lifts a hand to his jaw and places the other over his chest. It must hurt there, he must hurt all over. His bruises are worse, even if the swelling is better in places. The cuts on his skin look less painful, after Tatsu cleaned them and covered them again earlier, but the bruises are darker and after a day's rest he still doesn't really look any better than he did when they arrived here.

There's a particularly painful looking bruise on his jaw and all that Tatsu wants to do is take care of it, but for now she doesn't reach for it or for him. She stays by his side, watching him distantly as he seems to observe her in a similar way.

His gaze makes her think about her own injuries. Her body is healing slowly but it will need time, Tatsu is aware of this. Her bruises are dark and painful, the grazes still hurt, and she aches all over, but it feels as if in the quiet moments like this with him that she can distract herself from all of that. It won't last, it never does. So while it's here, she welcomes it.

"Much better, honestly. I'm alright, darl." he's quick to say, to assure her. "Think all that sleep I had did me wonders. I reckon I had at least three naps, hey?"

Thinly smiling, Tatsu turns away from him to hide it.

"It was at least seven naps."

By her side, Boomerang chuckles. Then he leans in to nudge her elbow, causing her to quickly turn back and look at him again.

"Hey, look who counted." he points out, with a smile that is both warm and sweet. "You miss me that much, huh? I'm touched, darl."

At this Tatsu withdraws her arm from his reach, leaning back slowly, and as she stares back at him she finds it difficult to not think about all that is still on her mind. Tatsu thinks of poker games, Boomerang's laugh, and the other little moments they had through the day when they were there together, when he wasn't sleeping and when she wasn't upstairs on her own.

She tried to be there, but she needed time and he needed the rest. Now that she has had the time and he has had all of those hours to rest, she doesn't feel as if she needs to leave, or that there is somewhere else that she should be. She feels as if she could sit here with him for hours.

"It was hard not to notice when you fell asleep halfway through our poker game."

The words bring another wide smile to his face, and underneath the thin curtain of moonlight Tatsu can only think about how he looks and how she wants to remember it.

"Did I?" he scoffs, glancing her over. "Don't remember that. Think you might be making that one up, luv."

Tatsu turns to him now, quietly amused. Not just by this but by earlier, by that hour they spent playing cards where it felt like they both forgot where they really were. She's not sure that she ever really forgot, but for a moment she wasn't so keenly aware (of his situation and of hers) and it's like that again now. She can feel it slowly happening, she can feel Boomerang distracting her, and as she becomes aware of it she begins to hope that she is giving him that same distraction from what he's been through and what comes next.

"It was right before you called me a cheat."

Then it clicks. Realization fills Boomerang's eyes first. He tries to hide it but it quickly spreads across his face, and soon he is grinning, unable to hide his smile or the laugh that comes after it.

"Shit, really? Oh, yeah. It's coming back to me now. Think I remember that. Mm, luv, look. I'll admit, that wasn't my finest moment."

She lifts an eyebrow, unconvinced that he doesn't remember it. He's good at playing his role, at getting people to believe what he wants them to, but with her it's different. She may not always be able to read him, but she knows him better than anyone else does and that's how she knows that this is just another one of his games.

"You thought I was too good for a beginner."

His smile softens, changing from one of amusement to something deeply fond and warm. 

"And you insisted it was just beginner's luck, yeah?" he asks, holding her gaze. "'Cos you were smashin' me at all the games. Was a bit of a bad loser, wasn't I?"

Tatsu nods once, still quietly amused. "Yes. A little."

As his memory of the day comes back to him, or as he pretends that it does, Boomerang sits by her side and says nothing at all. He stays there, as if he is taking it in and trying to remember as much as he can, and when he finishes and looks back to her with that same smile of his it confirms to her that he is as distracted by her company as she is by his.

"Well, don't worry about it now." Boomerang announces with a sigh, as he leans back a little more. "I reckon that last nap put me right. Feel like I've slept for about five years. I feel great, darl. How about you?"

She turns to him more, less hesitant as she looks him over. He doesn't look better, but she's glad that he feels it. And she finds that she's also glad that in the morning he will be better than he is right now. His bruises will be lighter, closer to healing. His cuts and gashes will be a day closer to being healed, and he will almost be better. This is what she wants for him. She wants it so badly that she only realizes now how concerned she is with Boomerang healing, and how she might be more concerned with him than she is with herself.

Slowly Tatsu turns away, up to the moon.

"I'm better, too." 

There's a low hum from Boomerang, as he hums something low and warm, then shifts closer. He drags himself over on the stairs, so they are now sitting shoulder to shoulder, his legs pressed next to hers, and his head tilted down to hers to kiss her again. But after he settles there he doesn't lean in, he just clears his throat and speaks.

"Yeah? Good, that's good. I'm glad, darl." he says, sounding as if he is smiling. "You look better. You look real, real good."

She recognizes the tone to his voice, and when she looks up at him she recognizes his smile, too. Tatsu knows what he wants, she wants the same thing, but with where they are and with Porter just a few steps back inside the house it doesn't matter what they want or need, for now this must be it.

"George."

With that same, faint smile on his lips, Boomerang chuckles and looks as if for a moment he will listen and lean away. But then something else tells him to come closer, so he does. He leans in, a dangerously playful smirk spreading over his face, as he makes a point of glancing Tatsu over in that way of his that she once ignored. There was a time it irritated her, but now?

The last thought on her mind is to be irritated by that look, or by that smile of his that is burned into her memory.

"Mm, yeah, I know. I know." he says quickly, voice warm. "I know, darl. Porter and his guys are back inside, that's why I'm whispering. Tryna keep this on the down-low, ya know? Just being subtle, makin' sure this stays between us."

Amused, and almost consumed by the way he is watching her, she takes a breath and looks away.

"I am not sure you could be subtle if your life depended on it."

He laughs, gaze still on her when she turns back to him shortly after. There is something comforting in his eyes, and in the smile he gives her. It tells her that he is comfortable here, he is happy, and this is all that she wants for him. To be happy, and to be free, and if he can't be free then at least he is comfortable.

"C'mon, sweetheart." he whispers, still warm, still close. "Didn't you miss me like I missed you? I woke up a couple times and you were gone. Made my heart hurt real bad thinkin' you'd left."

"I was here. Or I was outside." Tatsu's quick to assure him. "I didn't leave, and I was never far away."

This is her way of telling him that she was close, even when she wasn't there. She needed time, needed to get into her head and work through her thoughts, but she's done with that now. Tonight isn't going to be about any of that. No, tonight is going to be calm, and different, and it is going to be a break from all that lingers in her head.

For now, a few thoughts stay. Mostly ones of the Captain, of her answer; yes I missed you, she wants to say. She wanted to be with him, wanted to come back to him, and she did, but maybe not as much as she could have. She sees that now, and she knows she won't put that same distance between them tonight.

"Yeah, still...Thought maybe you'd done a runner."

It comes from nowhere, his confession, his doubts, and somehow at the same time it doesn't feel like it comes from nowhere. He has his doubts, just as she does. She doubts him sometimes, doubts his motives and his intentions. She has even doubted his sanity before. There are other things she doubts, like why he cares for her, why he's always been interested in her. And after thinking about her own doubts she is left to think about Boomerang's doubts of her.

He must doubt her, must ask himself why she's here, why she cares. The only comfort Tatsu finds in these thoughts is that now he must have some of the answers he has been looking for. Last night she gave him answers, but even when she turns to him now she still finds a shadow of doubt across his face, about this, about her. It's not hard to know why it's there, she understands it well. People leave him. They hurt him, they use (to kill aliens, and as a bargaining chip) and in the end they leave him. So she understands why, even after all of this, he still has his doubts.

"Really?" Tatsu asks anyway, words quiet, almost gentle.

He smirks. "Yeah, 'cos if anyone could it'd be you."

For a while she thinks about it, she thinks about telling him that she wouldn't run, not from this place, not without him. But she quickly decides against saying this and decides to go with something else, something that will give them both a distraction.

"Where would I run to?" 

His smile stays. "Dunno. Just..Away from here."

Tatsu hums, turning her eyes out to the sky. She watches him distantly, while staring up at the little stars above their heads. Why would I run? she almost asks, both him and herself. Things will be tough when they leave this place, for both of them, but for now they are here. They are sitting here underneath the stars, away from Belle Reve, and Waller, and the memory of Midway City.

"Here.." she pauses, only for a moment. "Here isn't is so bad."

It means something to him, this much is clear from the look that crosses over the Captain's face when she glances up at him. She doesn't dwell on it, or at least she doesn't try to, but it stays with her anyway.

"Didn't think you'd ditched us or anything, just thought maybe you'd run off 'cos you were never meant to be here." he admits, lifting a hand to his jaw. "You never had to be here, y'know? So that's all. Thought maybe you'd come to yer sense 'bout all of this."

After running his fingers along his jaw, Boomerang lifts his hand up to his hair and runs it through the light curls there. His hand ends up back by his side a minute later, but after it's gone Tatsu finds herself still thinking about it, about last night and how for a moment her hands were in his hair.

"You really believed I wouldn't be here?"

"Well, yeah. Maybe." Boomerang pauses, smiling slowly. "Remember that arvo we sat in the field? You looked like you really wanted to stay, then you had to leave 'cos of me."

This time she is the one consumed by words and doubts. Tatsu finds herself turning towards the Captain, without making the choice to, and suddenly she is sitting on the stairs facing him, eyes fully on him, as if she needs him to understand this. More than anything, she needs him to hear this.

"I didn't leave the field that day because I had to or because of you." she tells him, holding his gaze. "I left because of the choice I made. And that was to be here with you."

His face softens, as something lighter, something almost hopeful, fills his eyes. Then he turns away, not up to the sky this time but down to his bandaged hands, the hands that held onto her waist last night, traced patterns on her thighs, and kept her close.

"Still never really explained that one to me, did ya? Why? I mean, I think I know but at the same time it feels like I'm never gonna know why. Don't have to keep talkin' about it though, think we've both said enough. What about you, darl?"

In the quiet that follows Tatsu feels lost, if only for a moment, about what she wants to do and what she needs. Her mind is heavy tonight, filled with too much, but it isn't filled only with bad thoughts. Some of them are good, and some of them feel as if they need to be shared.

"I spoke with Colonel Porter about last night."

Boomerang almost immediately confirms to Tatsu, by the look he gives her, that this is something that was on his mind, too. She finds more comfort in that, and in knowing that he really does want to keep this as something that is just theirs.

"Mmm. What'd you tell him, luv? You tell him it wasn't any of his business? And that usually people knock before walkin' into rooms where the doors are closed?"

She holds his gaze, observing him before speaking, before making the choice about what she wants to say to him.

"I told him that he was mistaken, that there was nothing between you and I. And he assured me that he wouldn't say anything, to Flag or to anyone else."

Six or seven different looks dart across the Captain's face after hearing this, only to disappear seconds later, and despite this she still knows what is on his mind again. He is doubting this, doubting her, and at the same time he is also worrying that there is a truth to her words. But there isn't.

This means something. There is something there between them, growing with every moment they spend together. She can feel it between them right now, even as they just sit here by each other's side. It is electric, and alive, and she is fully aware of it now that she has stopped denying it.

"Yeah? Oh. Well, that's.." he asks, chewing on his lip. "That's good. Smart. Real smart, darl."

After considering it, Tatsu takes a breath and reaches for Boomerang. Not to kiss him, and not for a gesture that anyone else could take as meaning something. She just reaches for his forearm, fingers lightly brushing against it as she thinks about holding on. In the end her hand is only on his arm for a moment, but it is long enough to feel that familiar pull to him, and long enough for the Captain to understand.

"I didn't mean it." 

He nods, silent at first. "Mm?"

"What I said, to him. You should know that.."

A smile comes back to his face now, much brighter, and filled with a quiet relief.

"Yeah? Well that's good to know, 'cos for a while there I woke up thinking it was all in my head. Thought maybe it was just some kind of dream, or head injury, after what went down at the prison. Then I saw Pinky."

She finds it strange that this is what almost makes her smile. It's not that Tatsu was expecting him to feel grounded, to see the truth from the dreams in her, but that's where she found it. In him, in waking up next to him. But after thinking on it she decides that it is perfectly fitting that he finds what he needs to decide what is real and what isn't in a pink unicorn.

"Pinky assured you?"

Boomerang nods, something else in his eyes.

"Yeah, well, you weren't around all that much today. And I had all those naps.."

She meets his gaze, quietly regretful for leaving him so much through the day. Despite her regrets, she knows that she needed to sort through her mind, needed time to herself, and even though Boomerang may not be aware of it right now that's what he needed today, too.

"I didn't want to wake you." Tatsu settles on saying. "I could tell you needed the rest."

This is what she says when she can't tell him; you looked peaceful. I couldn't wake you. I need you to get better.

"I did, but I'm alright now." he says, words warm as he reassures her. "I'm all better now, darl. Nothing to worry about. Give me a couple days and I'll be right."

She hesitates, glancing him over in a way that is close and not at all subtle.

"I wouldn't say that."

A frown begins to tug on his features as he turns to her, really looking at her this time, and it is clear that he is searching her, trying to get a read on her, and Tatsu isn't sure if he is obvious or if it's because she knows him but she already knows where this is going and what his next words will be.

"Am I beautiful again?"

Quietly amused by his question, Tatsu hides her smile by pretending to look him over again. This time she is obvious, not like he is but in her own way, and this seems to be more than enough to amuse him. A few seconds later he's smiling again and she is filing away yet another memory of their time out here.

"There is less swelling.." she says eventually, still hiding a smile. "That is all that I can really say."

This doesn't deter him, not even for a moment.

"I'm gonna take that as a yes."

Tatsu shrugs, looking away slowly, but before she fully turns away Boomerang is speaking again and she finds herself drawn back to him, curious as she always is around him.

"Hey, can I ask you something?"

He takes her brief nod as her answer and goes on, and of all the questions he could have asked she isn't at all surprised that this is the one he chooses.

"You really never played poker before?"

She sighs, turning away. "Didn't we talk about this?"

Boomerang reaches out, fingers lightly curling around her wrist. She expects him to stop, to linger and then pull his hand away, but he doesn't. His hand stays, gentle around hers, and in the quiet it takes her back to the prison, back to that moment and all of the others. This time his touch is warm, a soft gesture, and she finds that she welcomes it.

"It was beginner's luck." Tatsu says. "Like I told you, this is all it was."

Satisfied, he smiles and lets go, after gently rubbing his thumb along the column of her wrist for a moment. When his hand is gone, when she can no longer feel it, she misses it.

"Alright, sweet. Well, darl, congrats. You did amazing."

She says nothing at first, watching Boomerang as he leans back with a sigh. He ends up half-stretched back, his attention both on her and the sky, and she understands why it's there, why he can't stop looking at the sky. There is something particularly beautiful about it tonight, something peaceful about it that they haven't had in a long time.

"I'm glad you're feeling better." she admits soon, looking to him. "You look..Slightly better. I'm glad."

"Makes two of us, darl. Three, if you count Pinky. Thanks again for that. Not sure if I really got the chance to thank you."

Why? she almost asks. Why is the plush toy so special? What does it mean? Tatsu wants to know this, there is much that she wants to know about Boomerang, but tonight isn't the night to ask about Pinky and his past. So she settles on something else, on something that has been in her head for a while.

"I didn't thank you, for what you did."

"Might have to be a bit more specific than that, darl."

"At the prison," Tatsu pauses, words quieter than she means. "When I was injured..."

"I had your back?" he asks, lifting a eyebrow. "That what you're tryin' to say?"

She nods, jaw tight. "Yes. And in the cell.."

It sparks that same recognition in his eyes, and that feeling that Tatsu gets when she thinks back to that moment. It's a feeling she can't understand right now, but she's learned to let it in instead of trying to keep it out.

"Was just trying to show ya what it all meant."

Tatsu hesitates, wanting to be closer. She almost moves, almost reaches for his hand.

"That's what I was doing with Pinky." she admits. "Showing you what it meant.."

"Well, I got your message. Loud and clear, darl." he says, offering her another smile. "Been thinking 'bout it all day. And there was somethin' else, wasn't sure if I should—"

"George. Katana. Here you are." Porter's warm voice interrupts, as he suddenly steps out to join them on the porch. "Good to know you got my message. And it's good to see you're both looking a little better. I'm glad."

At the sudden arrival of Colonel Porter they both climb to their feet, turning to where he's standing by the open door just a few steps behind them. In his hands are two glasses of whiskey. For them? She's not sure, but she can't think of any other reason why he's here with whiskey.

"Yeah, well, thanks for this." Boomerang's quick to say, a grin on his face. "Thought maybe I was dreamin' when one of the guys came down and said you gave the all clear for us to come upstairs for a bit."

Porter smiles back at the two of them, in that same warm way of his, and she knows that despite their earlier conversation that he is still the same man as he was before he walked in on them. He is still kind, and still willing to give the Captain a chance, despite what he knows.

"It won't be for long, but it's something." he says, gesturing to the sky. "It's a nice night for a little break. You've got about ten more minutes, so enjoy it while you can. And here..."

He holds out the two glasses after this, offering one to each of them, and at first Tatsu is hesitant. But Boomerang isn't. He quickly takes both glasses, hers and his. After passing over a glass to her, Boomerang turns back to Porter with that same look on his face that he had last night when Porter showed up with whiskey and cigarettes.

If it weren't for last night (the words and kisses they shared) and all of the moments before that, at Belle Reve and in his cell, then she might think for a moment Boomerang was falling for Porter with the way that he is currently looking at him But she knows that this isn't it, that it is much simpler than that.

He respects Porter. The Captain likes him, the way he treats the people around him, the way he's treated him. That's what it is, she's just never seen it before because he doesn't respect Waller. She knows that he respects Flag, in his own, quiet way. But he so often bounces between liking and hating Colonel Flag that it's hard to notice the moments where he respects him.

"More whiskey? Shit, Boss." Boomerang smiles, before taking a long sip. "Shit. You know the way to my heart. There a special occasion?"

By his side Tatsu stays still, a hand lightly curled around the glass as she holds Porter's gaze. Earlier he went out of his way to talk to her about Boomerang, to tell her to be safe and that it never ends well, and now here he is giving them time outside together and bringing them whiskey.

It doesn't make sense, but Tatsu doesn't feel like questioning it tonight so she doesn't. She says nothing and takes a long sip of whiskey, enjoying the taste as it runs down her throat.

"You've been easier to handle than expected. I'd say that's a special occasion, wouldn't you?" Porter smiles. "So enjoy the drinks and make sure you're back downstairs in ten. If you need anything you both know where to find me."

Tatsu nods, silent as Boomerang lifts his glass in Colonel Porter's direction, a toast, to thank him.

"Sure thing, mate." he calls out. "Night."

A minute later he leaves them, letting the door swing shut behind him. When he's gone Tatsu takes another sip of whiskey then moves, walking over to the railing on their left. She stops there, leaning into it, as Boomerang comes up behind her and eventually joins her there. By the time he comes to stand beside her all of his whiskey is gone.

"Hey, so, I've still got something I wanna ask you."

With a sigh, Tatsu turns to him. "George, I told you—"

"Nah, not that. Not about the poker." he's quick to say, moving a hand to her shoulder. "It's something else, alright? That okay?"

His hand lingers, light and barely there, before it slips away, back to his side, while his other hand moves to place the empty glass down on the railing. After placing it there he looks up to Tatsu again, faintly smiling.

"Okay, so, darl..You and me, we've been through a bit. Right?" he asks, then quickly goes on. "So whatever it is, whatever your secret superpower is, you can tell me. I won't say a word. You can trust me with this, luv. Pinky swear. Or, I swear on Pinky. Whatever one works for you."

Faintly smiling she looks away, down at the empty glass in his hands, then at her own, and as she does her hair sweeps across half of her face, hiding another almost smile from him.

"We are not swearing on anything because I don't have any powers." 

He scoffs in response, unconvinced.

"George."

"I'm pretty sure that's what someone with powers would say." he says, leaning forward to get a better look at her. "Hey. What was that? That was an almost smile, yeah? Shit. You almost smiled, darl. I reckon that's a first."

She ignores his smile, ignores the way he suddenly looks smug, as if he always knew that he was going to make her smile one day.

"I am tired. That's all."

Another scoff comes from the Captain, as he holds back a smirk and nudges her arm again.

"You had like nine naps, didn't you?" he asks, then moves on. "Whatever you have to tell yourself. But hey, we both know the truth. You came pretty close to smiling and that would've been nice. Don't think I've ever seen you smile before."

But I have seen yours, she thinks, quietly remembering it. His smile is warm, and kind, and sometimes it is filled with sadness and pain, but there are moments when there is only happiness in his smile and these are the moments that she remembers.

Minutes later Boomerang moves on again. He pushes himself away from the railing and turns to face her, genuinely curious.

"So how'd you manage all this? First night, Porter's rules are all strict and shit. Now suddenly I'm allowed out here for a bit with whiskey?" he asks, frowning slightly. "Yeah, that feels weird. Feels like you must have some kinda power. Bet you can do things with your mind, huh?"

Tatsu finishes her whiskey in a few sips, places the glass down next to his, then turns to face him in a similar way that he turned to look at her. After she is turned towards him, Tatsu simply watches him, as a million different thoughts seem to come and go through his face in the next few seconds. And then he asks the question that she always knew he would.

"Hey, what am I thinking right now?"

And she answers just as she believes he expects her to.

"That you are an idiot."

"Yeah, nice. That's a good burn, luv. But no, I wasn't thinking that." he admits, running a slow hand along his jaw. "I was thinking 'bout you and me. How good this has been. Don't really want it to end, if I'm honest. And I know that it's not gonna be like this when we go back, but still.."

When he trails off she almost leaves it, almost acts as if she isn't aware that there is more that he wants to stay, more hanging around in his eyes. Something stops her. Whatever it is, it pushes her to come closer, to ask him what is still there, lingering.

"What is it?"

"Dunno. Guess I can't help but wish we had a bit more time, you know?" Boomerang admits, as he turns back to the sky. "Guess that makes me a bit of an idiot then, huh?"

She sighs regretfully, coming to stand by his side at the railing. In the quiet that lasts for a minute, or maybe it's more than that, she feels that same pull to say something to him. She can't leave. She doesn't want to leave, and she doesn't want to stay silent on this. He needs to hear something, and it feel as if this is something that she needs to say, to both him and to herself.

"It has been one day. There are three days left."

He's quick to answer. "Or maybe two. Maybe there's just two left and I'm back there in that place an' yer gone again."

Without much thought, she brings a hand out to his. Her touch is soft, barely there, as her fingers curl around his wrist gently, almost like he did for her, but different. It's all different. She keeps her hand there for a moment, lightly curled around his wrist, as he turns down to look at her hand and then shifts his gaze back to her.

"There is still time."

His eyes brighten slowly. "Time, for what?"

Boomerang knows the answer already though. This much is clear on his face, and in the way he is watching her now. He knows what she means, that there is time for this, for them, before they return. It quickly becomes clear to Tatsu that he still needs to hear it, needs to know that there is time, because after so many days spent in a cell, alone, and with no concept of time, she understands why he might struggle with this.

"To see where it takes us."

"Yeah?" he asks, smiling again. "I like the sound of that."

Something in her chest tightens. Her hand stays on his arm, not moving, even as he turns to face her. There is an infinitely warmer look on his face now. It is almost hopeful, almost calm, and once again she is left feeling relieved that this has given him peace.

"You do?" she asks.

He nods, gaze stuck on hers. "Of course I do, darl. Look around..Here isn't so bad, is it?"

After this it feels as if the air between them stills and slows down, and in it Tatsu is more than aware of the Captain's lingering eyes. His gaze is close, closer than it's been in a while, and she is too aware of it and of the way it stays on her.

For a moment she tries to avoid it, as she finds herself caught up in her thoughts of what comes next, but when she looks back to him and finds him smiling again she forgets all of the other little thoughts, that all seem irrelevant tonight, and she gets swept up in this again. In how close they are, in the way he is watching her, and in the smile that he is still giving her.

"Hey, so, serious question: you ever played strip poker?"

With a roll of her eyes Tatsu turns away, close to smiling again as Boomerang follows her there, laughing sweetly.

"Shit." he grins. "You considering it?"

"I am considering something else."

Intrigued, he leans in. "Yeah? What?"

Her attention sweeps over the farm one more time before moving swiftly back to the grinning man by her side, half-lit up in moonlight.

"I am thinking about you."

He nods once, as a broader smile begins to spread over his lips. 

"Yeah? Well, that's alright. Can't help the way the mind wanders sometimes, can we?"

Tatsu smiles thinly, thinking it over. "I am thinking about you and questioning if you are really so bad at poker."

Boomerang scoffs, half-turning away. "I wouldn't say I was that bad. You gotta give me a break, I mean..Look at me. I got the shit beat outta me, darl. Don't think I'm all there right now. You get me?"

"I think I do." she nods, once. "And I also think that you were too bad at poker. I think you were pretending."

Slowly grinning, he glances her over. "What, to get my ass kicked? Yeah, even if you looked real sexy while doin' it..That wasn't my plan."

Tatsu holds his gaze quietly, hiding her own faint smile as his only seems to grow.

"Wait, you really think I'd do this? That I'd go to all this effort of pretending that I suck at poker, just to get you to play strip poker so I'd win?'" Boomerang asks, clearly amused again. "Of course I'd never do that, darl. I'd like to think I have a bit more class than that. I mean, shit, it is a smart idea and all. But like you said, I'm an idiot."

Now that she's accepted his answer, and accepted that he's just really bad at poker right now, Tatsu turns away with a new thought on her mind. She considers keeping it to herself and saying nothing, but for now they are here and they are alone, and it feels as if it must be said.

"Last night you said..You had a different expectation in your head of our first drink."

It surprises him, enough that he turns to her, the smug smile now gone. He is back to being genuine, to being soft, and just here with her. For now there are no walls, for now there is nothing else but his curious eyes and the way they search her.

"Yeah, I just never thought we'd end up in a place like this." he admits. "Or that we'd have a drink the night after we almost died. It was pretty wild, huh?"

Tatsu nods, quietly agreeing. "Tell me, how did you see it? What did you imagine differently?"

Shrugging, he turns away. "Dunno. I guess it would have just been different, y'know? Thought it might be somewhere else. In a bar, in the city somewhere, maybe. Or something like that."

Still curious, she stays by his side, watching him quietly as a different look fills his face. There's almost no time to read it before he's speaking again, and as he does she quickly gets swept up in his words and in his honesty.

"I'd pick you up an' we'd go somewhere nice. Not too posh, you know, 'cos they piss me off. And also..Temptation."

With a sweet smile, he goes on.

"It'd be alright. Nice enough. And we'd have fun."

Tatsu feels consumed by this; by his honesty, and her own curiosity about the way he saw things, the way he wanted them to be. 

"And then?"

The Captain turns to face her again, still half-shadowed in moonlight. Despite this, there is an unmissable warmth to his face that lingers, especially in his eyes.

"We'd get a couple drinks, talk a bit. Maybe play a game of pool or darts, something like that. You an expert in those, too? Or just poker?"

She finds herself smiling slowly, but not enough that he notices. If he does, he says nothing. He just watches Tatsu as she observes him, and as she does she realizes that they are watching each other in similar ways. Always curious, always longing to learn more.

"Some things are better left as mysteries."

"Ha, yeah. Right." he laughs, looking away again. "I'm guessing that means yes."

Quietly she hums, not giving him an answer or any other response, as he seems to get swept up in his own head and in the thoughts that linger there. She watches him as he thinks it over, clearly still caught up on it. And eventually, he lets her know what's on his mind.

"After the drinks we'd take a walk. Find somewhere nice to sit. Somewhere with a good view. Maybe have another drink or two. Then I'd walk you home."

The last part makes her smile but she hides it before he turns to her, and when he does he only catches her next look: disbelief.

"You would?"

He nods, faking indignation. "Yeah, I would. What's that look for? Something on your mind, darl? Something you wanna share with the rest of us?"

"I just didn't..You are persistent, that is all."

The fake indignation slips from his face, as a different look quickly replaces it. Something sweet, and curious, and filled with that same longing to know more.

"So I've heard. Hang on, you really think I wouldn't walk you home?"

Tatsu shakes her head, still watching him closely.

"I think you would. And I think you would also want to come inside."

Deeply amused, the Captain turns away to hide his smile. When he turns back it becomes clear to Tatsu that he is very bad at concealing when he is amused, or happy, and soon he gives it all a way with a laugh that he can't keep to himself.

"Luv, I am absolutely amazed at how well you already know me." Boomerang grins, nudging her arm gently. "Of course I'd wanna come in but..I know you pretty well, too."

Holding his gaze, she takes in a breath.

"And?"

"And this thing, you and me..Isn't just about that."

The realization comes to her again, that this means more to him than he sometimes shows, to her and maybe even to himself. She only lingers on the realization for a second before she moves on, moves back to talks of an imaginary night that will probably never happen.

"So you would walk me to my door?"

He nods, confident. "I'm a gentleman at heart."

Tatsu lingers. "This is really how you saw it?"

As a look fills his eyes, Boomerang almost turns away. He looks tempted to, and she quickly learns why that is. It's in his eyes, and all over his face; this is the way he saw it, but he knows realistically that it will never happen, just as she does. 

"Nah. Always thought it'd happen at Belle Reve, at the end of a mission or somethin'. Or maybe at the end of a mission we'd find a bar and get a drink, like that night in the city but a bit different. Maybe without the aliens this time."

"So, like this?" she asks. "We are here, at the end of a mission, having a drink. Aren't we?"

He smiles back slowly. "Yeah. Kinda like this. Just never thought I'd be here, you know? This place is weird 'cos it's so normal. Never been anywhere like this before and I like it. But it's still weird and I never thought we'd have our first drink in a place like this."

After considering it, she steps closer. It's only a small step, really it's more of a half step, but she comes closer anyway, watching him as she does.

"I'm glad." Tatsu admits. "I'm glad that you're here."

Before he can process the words, and before he can say anything at all, they are interrupted by the sound of the front door to the house opening and closing. Tatsu's attention quickly follows the noise, and she soon finds a guard standing there in the doorway.

"Five minutes." he calls out, then leaves.

After he's gone all that Tatsu can think about is how it is a reminder of how little time they have here, and of the few moments they shared in Boomerang's cell, always too short, always interrupted. Back then she remembers wanting to stay with him, just like she wants to stay now.

"After walking me to my door, what would you do?"

At first he looks curious, about why she is asking him these questions, why she wants to hear the answers, and then he moves on from his curiosity and gives her an answer.

With a casual shrug, he leans back into the railing.

"Depends, really."

Tatsu follows, intrigued. "On, what?"

The smile that comes after her question is bright and filled with something both playful and soft. He shrugs again, as if this is his only answer, and then he sighs and looks over at her.

"On whether you're armed or not." Boomerang says, half-smiling. "Either way I'm not sure it'd make much difference though. I'd still want to kiss ya."

To this, Tatsu says nothing. She is the one who is quiet now, the one who settles on just a look as an answer. She stays silent, caught up in her thoughts of a night that will never happen, as Boomerang pushes himself off the railing and takes three slow steps over to her. When he comes to stand in front of her, he lets out a breath and then half-smiles.

"I'd come up to you like this and I'd wanna do it. I really would." he admits, as he lifts a hand in the air, leaving it to hover near her cheek. "I'd want to kiss ya, but the thing is..When it comes to you, I'm a bit of a chicken."

In the quiet moment that follows, where things feel as if they stretch on and on again, she finds that she is almost consumed by it all and she's not sure why. It is overwhelming, with the way that he is watching her, and how his hand hovers in the air. Perhaps it is because she can feel the pull again, the cord that is tied around the both of them, tugging them closer. And she wants to come closer, she does, but for now her feet are as heavy as cement and all that she can do is watch silently as Boomerang lifts a hand to tuck a stray piece of hair back behind her ear.

It is a gentle touch, one that she allows. He lingers for a second then drops his hand away, the faintest smile on his lips when he speaks again.

"As much as I talk like I'd stay for a kiss, I probably wouldn't.." 

Five minutes, the reminder warns her, as she feels the pull again and takes a step closer. It seems that as Tatsu inches closer, Boomerang takes a half step back. He understands that they are out here, that it is too risky, that this is just theirs, but she still feels that same pull. Tatsu still feels that longing to kiss him. Five minutes, she thinks again, but it is probably less than that now.

She imagines they only have two or three minutes left. Maybe even less. When she is around him time seems to go by too quickly, and it often feels as if there is nothing they can do, but here they still have time. They have two days, maybe three, and that is something. It's more than either of them have had in years.

Tonight she wants more than just a few minutes, a hurried kiss, or a risky moment. From the look in his eyes, Tatsu can tell that he feels the same way, too.

With a breath, she takes a step back towards the door.

"Come downstairs?"

Chapter Text

When Boomerang joins her on the couch, he brings the bottle of whiskey with him. His cheeks are damp, freshly splashed with water. Tatsu understands. Hers feel warm, too. She says nothing, just watches him as he takes a long swig of whiskey before coming to sit next to her. The couch feels tiny already, she finds herself wondering how they ever fit on it at all. She doesn't dwell on the thought and moves on, taking the bottle from the Captain after he settles in. She gives him the whiskey when she's done but he doesn't take it back immediately. His fingers curl around the bottle, lingering on it before he takes it, swallows a much larger sip, then places it down on his knee.

There's something on his mind, this isn't hard to see. Without asking, Tatsu knows what it is. It's on her mind, too. It's this, it's what they both feel, what they are afraid to have, or to even really admit to themselves. For Tatsu, this is what is on her mind. For years she hasn't let herself want anything. She hasn't needed anyone else in so long, hasn't considered caring about anyone in a long time, until him.

Everything else remains unclear. What this is, what it will become, may never be clear. But she still feels as she did on the porch, that for one night she wants more than what she's allowed herself to have, wants more than a few hurried kisses. Tatsu wants it, needs it, even if in the back of her mind she is reminded of all that she's lost and all that she hasn't let herself feel in years.

As if sensing that something is on her mind, Boomerang offers her the whiskey again. She declines, shaking her head once. For the moment she says nothing and this doesn't bother him, not at all. He just takes the bottle back and drinks from it, before stretching forward to place it on the table, covered with magazines, books, and the pack of cards from earlier. After he puts the bottle there he leans back into the couch, moving to rest his hands on his knees.

By his side, Tatsu couldn't be sitting more differently. She is closed off, even though she doesn't even mean to be. She wants this, wants him, and yet she is sitting here like this: her body leaning away from his, knees curled up towards her chest, and her eyes stuck on a spot on the floor. She wants this but for the moment she can only sit here and listen as Boomerang sinks deeper into the couch, moving to prop a fluffy pink pillow behind his head.

"You didn't say anything."

When he trails off Tatsu turns to him, quietly curious as she glances him over, searching for more, searching for anything to help her get a read on him. For now nothing else slips through, so she is left to wait as he silently considers if he will go on or not. When she looks up a him there's a faint smile back on his lips, just like the one he wore on the porch.

"Back at the prison when I first saw you, in that dream I had." Boomerang explains, voice a little rougher. "When I thought you were there but you weren't really. You didn't say anything. Just stood there, watchin' me."

Tatsu understands. He doesn't have to say more for her to know what he means, what he's talking about. It's the moment he dreamed he saw her, the moment he told her about later, except he never really told her about it until now. She watches quietly as he turns to face her more. Boomerang ends up turned to face her, resting on his side in a way that looks comfortable, looks like it's helping him to feel better. She's glad, but she doesn't dwell on it. She gets lost in other things, like the way he's fidgeting with the corner of the bandage on his right hand. And the look she catches, lingering in his eyes.

"I wanted you to, y'know? Just wanted to hear somethin'. But you didn't. Didn't say a thing. You were just..There."

She blinks slowly, holding his gaze as she thinks it over, thinks about that moment and this one. If he is waiting for her to say something, to say more than she has, than he doesn't show it. He just stays there, watching her patiently, and Tatsu finds it strange how open it suddenly feels between the two of them.

"Do you want me to say something now?"

Her voice is quiet when she speaks, quieter than she means to be. She sounds both like herself and someone else, and she isn't sure she recognizes either version of herself. This is the way she often feels about herself, and it is the way she sees Boomerang sometimes, too. He is both himself and someone else, and she believes she knows why he is the way he is around her.

This means something to him, and he isn't used to that. Boomerang isn't used to feeling, and wanting, and having something real like this so close to him. It's the same for her, she's always felt it. As different as they are, they have this in common.

"Nah, not at all. Just remember you asked me about it once and I told you I didn't remember." he sighs, scratching at his jaw. "But I did. I remembers bits, I just lied 'cos..Well, 'cos that's what we do."

Then he smiles, in a way that lights up his face. Tatsu feels relieved to see it, to know that he is not too caught up on this, on his past. She only wants him to be happy, to be free of Belle Reve for just a little longer. She wants this, and so much more. Through it all, the knotted feeling in her stomach remains. And that same cloud (of fear, of something else entirely) hangs above her as she glances the Captain over again, searching for more.

"You didn't do it very well."

He grins slowly, and it sends a jolt of warmth through her body.

"Yeah, well, I can't be good at everything now. Can I, darl?" Boomerang laughs, nudging her arm. "I mean, with my skills, my looks, and my charm? It's not fair to everyone else now, is it? They'd never stand a bloody chance."

Torn between amusement and rolling her eyes, she settles on a half-smile. A hidden smile, concealed by the dark strands of hair that hang loosely over her face. She leaves them for now, watching Boomerang before her eyes flicker away, down to the cards scattered across the table. She still wants this. She wants to sit here with him, she doesn't want to leave him, despite the knot in her stomach, despite everything else she's taught herself in these last few years. She should leave now, but she can't. It doesn't even cross her mind, and even if it did it feels too late to go back, feels like they've already reached a point they can't return from.

Perhaps it should worry her, that she doesn't want to turn back, that it feels like there is no turning back. But tonight it doesn't worry her, not even a little.

"I had a dream about you, too."

His response is predictable.

"Oh, yeah? Huh. What was it like? We have a good time?"

It sounds like he's smiling again but she doesn't look, not right away. Tatsu keeps her gaze on the table, on the bottle of whiskey she thinks about reaching for every now and then. She doesn't want it, so she stays where she is, imagining the smile that is on the Captain's lips at this very moment, as a current of thoughts come and go through her head.

"It was not like that."

Sighing, he leans deeper into the couch. "Doesn't hurt to lie a bit. Does it?"

A quiet hum is all that Tatsu can give him for the moment, before she turns to look at him, to see him still playing with the corners of the cushion before he moves on and begins to strum his fingers against his knee as if he is tapping them along with a song playing in his head. She can't remember the last time she listened to music just to enjoy it, to feel it.

"You gonna tell me 'bout it?" Boomerang asks, minutes later. "I'm curious. You remember much about it?"

"No." she lies. "Just that you were there."

He hums along, quiet at first. "Yeah?"

"The others, too."

A soft chuckle comes from Boomerang next, as he stops strumming his fingers against his knee and settles in, comfortable for the moment. Tatsu isn't sure that it will last. She's noticed many things about the Captain, before and after they came here. One of the many things she picked up on is how difficult it is for Boomerang to stay still, or to really feel comfortable. If he does, if for a minute he's still, it never lasts. This is something else she understands, something she connects to.

"For a minute there, I felt a bit special." he smiles, words light, playful again. "Could'a said it was just me. Bet that would have warmed my heart up  bit."

Without much thought, she answers. "You are."

And then it's out there between them, and Tatsu doesn't regret it because it's the truth. Sometimes she chooses to keep the truth to herself, she decides not to share it because that's often the easier path to take. This time she doesn't give herself the time to think, to talk herself out of it. He is special, in ways that she still doesn't fully understand, and not just because of who he is but also because of what he is slowly bringing out in her. It's more than she can say, more than she can put into words for either of them, so for now this is all that she can give him.

"What? Special?" he asks, frowning a little as he begins to smiles. "That 'sposed to be a compliment?"

For the first time since they've been down here, Tatsu looks at him. She really looks at him, she lets herself get closer, lets herself linger, despite feeling like the knot in her stomach might explode if she looks too closely. Why now? she longs to know, to ask herself. Why do I feel this tonight? It's more than hesitation, more than any kind of anxiety she's felt around him before. It's more than she's felt in a long time and maybe that's why she can't describe it, why it feels like she can't find the words for what might consume her. It's been years since she let herself feel anything at all and now here she is, struggling to let it in.

"You are different from them." Tatsu explains, still watching him. "You are different from all of them."

At first she expects Boomerang to disagree, to scoff or make a joke about it. But then she catches it in his eyes, something soft and sincere, that tells her that he feels the same way.

"Yeah, that's how you an' me are the same. Always thought it, y'know. That we were different from the rest of 'em."

It all takes her back, to old conversations and little moments that don't feel so small now.

"Peas in a pod?"

The words spark recognition in his eyes and instantly his face lights up, in a beautiful mix of familiarity and warmth.

"Hey." he grins, leaning in. "You remembered that, huh?"

"It was hard not to remember it."

With a roll of his eyes, Boomerang gently nudges her arm. Afterwards his hand lingers, softly brushing along her forearm and then he hesitates, only for a moment. He ends up resting his hand on her knee, and tonight it feels different. His touch is different. Still warm, still like the first time his hands touched her, but it's different. His eyes glow with warmth, and need, and want—but there is something else there, something more. He quickly lets her know what it is.

"Ya know I meant it, right? That this thing, you an' me. Us. It's not about that. I mean, yeah, you're amazing. And have I thought about it? Have I thought about you? Absolutely. Every day since we met. Listen, I'm getting off track here. My point is that I'm happy to be here, away from that shithole and those shitbags. Away from all of it. Just being here with you makes everythin' better."

It's a lot to take in so Tatsu spends a minute trying. She struggles with so much of it, with what it means and what she wants to do, how she wants to fix his situation at Belle Reve, only she can't. It isn't her place to change it. She can mend it, help where she can, support him when it needs it, but in the end it isn't up to her what happens there. It's up to him. She doesn't want to think about that tonight though. Tatsu only wants to think about the Captain by her side and how he is happy to be here with her.

"You are?"

There's no doubt in his eyes, not even a little. He doesn't want to be anywhere else, even if he dreams of his home. This is where he wants to be, and for the first time in a very long time he is happy where he is. Boomerang's mind is clear, this is his decision, and to see him this way after what she witnessed in his cell comforts her. Right now he is happy, and this is all she wants.

"Darl, look at where we are. Look at who I'm with. I'd say it's pretty good here, wouldn't you?"

Tatsu nods, for the moment it's all that she can do. It's enough for Boomerang, he doesn't need more. His smile stays, as he squeezes her knee then lets go. He reaches for the whiskey bottle again soon, swallowing two sips then offering it to Tatsu. She takes it this time, drinking only one sip before she hands it back. He puts the bottle on the table when they're done then moves forward to the very edge of the couch, scanning the tiny space over once before he looks back to her.

"Alright, good. Now that's all sorted, let's have a look. We've got whiskey, cards, a couple cigarettes left. And there's a shitload of board games under the bed." he says, smiling as he glances back at her over his shoulder. "Wanna have a go at Monopoly first? I'll be honest, darl, when it comes to Monopoly I don't have a great history of bein' a good loser. But we might as well give it a crack and see where—"

Whatever he was going to say, he loses. Boomerang doesn't finish it, he quickly trails off, distracted by Tatsu's touch as she reaches out and places her hand on his knee. He never finishes, never gets out the rest of what he was going to say, but she already feels like she knows what it was going to be.

See where it takes us.

Here, she thinks. Everything they've ever been through has led them here to this moment now, and as much as she wants to try to have a night like the one he described, there is still something on her mind. There is still a knot, twisting in her stomach, that is both warning her to stay away while urging her to come closer.

Slowly her fingers settle on his knee, and as they do she is left thinking about all their little touches. His hand on her jaw, in her hair, on her sides. A minute slips by before Tatsu even realizes it. When she comes back, her hand is still on Boomerang's knee She doesn't move, he is the one to move this time. He stretches in slowly, lifting a hand up to her face just like he did in the cell.

Boomerang's light eyes wander over carefully, taking in all the little things. She can feel it, his open gaze roaming across her face, from the gashes on her skin, to the scars and the faint bruises lingering there. Then he looks at her as if he is only aware now that her mask is gone and he is trying to remember her, trying to remember all of it. Tatsu's hand stays firmly on his knee as he leans back into the couch, coming closer, pressing his hand to her cheek.

This time her skin isn't slick with blood. Her skin is clean and cold, and Boomerang brushes his thumb against it gently, tracing his thumb over the little marks and scars. He doesn't linger on them, doesn't ask any questions, and for that she's glad. Tatsu's eyes stay locked with his as he comes closer, dragging his thumb along her jaw and then over to her hair. He touches a few dark pieces, playing with them for the briefest moment before he hooks a thumb underneath the strands of hair hanging over her face and brushes them away, back behind her ear, as if he is trying to see her, to really see her, and doing this will give him that.

After this his hand lingers in the air, uncertain, while he thinks about what he will do next. Tatsu never learns what that is because suddenly she is the one moving in, moving closer. She stretches forward, seeking out the kiss she wanted on the porch. The knot in her stomach grows tighter as she comes closer to him, leaning over the pillows stacked up on the couch between them to press her lips to his.

When their lips meet again, she forgets it all. Her worries, doubts, and hesitations all slip away and Tatsu can only think about this moment now. She can only think about the way it feels to kiss him again, and how much she welcomes it. Enjoys it, even. She sinks into him slowly, as his hand ends up pressed gently to the side of her jaw. At first the kisses are small, hurried and rushed like she imagines they would have been on the porch. For a moment they are still burdened with the thoughts of being seen or caught, then slowly that fear slips away and she feels herself relax as Boomerang does.

The Captain pulls away, just enough to move the pillows out of the way. He swiftly discards them to random spots on the floor, not looking at where they end up. He throws them without care then comes back to meet her, kisses a little less rushed this time. She lets herself enjoy it and for a minute she even considers climbing into his lap like she did last night, but things soon take a different turn from last night.

This time Boomerang ends up on his back, stretched out like he was on the bed only the couch is obviously too small for him. He somehow finds a spot that's comfortable and quickly urges Tatsu to come closer, so she does. She ends up sitting on his waist, hovering above him before she slowly leans closer for a kiss. It all feels so strange, so new, but she tries. She comes closer, a hand on his side away from any wounds or bandages. Her other hand ends up near the side of his face, not quite touching him but close.

And then there's Boomerang, who doesn't hesitate to be close, to touch her. He puts his hands on either side of her waist and looks up at Tatsu, staring at her as if he is in awe, as if this is the first time he is looking at her. In his eyes, she sees something fleeting. Something she connects with. He wants to remember this, wants to memorize her as she wants to memorize him. The scars on his body, the lines near his smile, the different colors in his eyes that change with the light. For now she stays where she is even though she knows that it won't last, that this couch is too small for both of them and eventually they will have to go.

"This is good, too." he says, quickly reaching down for a pillow. "Whatever works for you, darl. I'm pretty happy here. How 'bout you?"

Boomerang comes back with a pillow, shoving it underneath his head to prop himself up. Then he settles in and gets comfortable, or he tries to. He doesn't look physically comfortable, but she knows that he won't say anything. He is comfortable here with her, even though the couch is too small and he is still recovering. She wants him to move so he will be comfortable, but she lets them have one more minute here before that happens.

"We weren't going to talk, remember?" she says quietly.

He laughs first then lifts an eyebrow, clearly not convinced.

"Yeah, nice try. But I reckon you find me interesting, don't ya?" he beams. "I can tell, it's alright. Don't have to hide it anymore. Doesn't hurt to be honest sometimes, does it?"

Tatsu says nothing, just hums lightly as she leans in for a kiss. A small kiss, only light, barely there, before she leans back to look at him again.

"If that is what you have to tell yourself.."

He grins, reaching up to kiss her. This time he is far less wary, and she welcomes it. Welcomes the grip of his hands on her sides, and the taste of his lips as they crush against hers.

"Ha. Cute." he says between kisses. "Let's hope Porter doesn't come in and kill the mood again."

Perhaps that should worry her, but it doesn't. Right now Tatsu can only think about how small the couch is. She wants to stay, to be here with him, but this couch is tiny and he barely fits. So she leans away from him, feeling the knot in her stomach twist as she moves against him. Tatsu moves a hand to the spot, while keeping her other hand on Boomerang, just below his ribs. She wants to stay here but she needs him to be comfortable and right now he isn't, even if he wants to pretend that he is.

"This couch is too small."

He shrugs, happy where he is. There's still a look on his face that tells Tatsu that even though he's not comfortable here that he wants to stay. He likes it here, likes it when she's close. She never lets herself get close, never lets herself get this close to him, but tonight she has let him in and he doesn't want it to end.

"Here's not so bad, darl. Not for me, not at all."

She arches an eyebrow. "You look like you're in pain."

"Nah, I'm not. That's just my face when I'm happy." he grins, tugging her down for a kiss. "Let's stay for a minute, alright? Because you are somethin' else and I wanna stay here. Don't worry too much, luv. You ever slept on that chunk of concrete they call a bed back in my cell? Trust me, compared to that this is heaven."

"George," she sighs, stretching away. "You are too big for this couch."

"Never heard that before." Boomerang says, smiling slowly. "Thought I'll be honest, I heard that first bit before. About being too"

Before he can finish, Tatsu is climbing off him. He's quick to follow after her, a hand reaching out to hold hers after he's up from the couch. Once he's on his feet he stops for a sip of whiskey then offers her the bottle, but she refuses again. Tatsu isn't entirely sure what will come after this moment, but wherever it takes her next she wants her head to be clear. She doesn't want the whiskey, doesn't need it. So after shaking her head, Boomerang leaves the bottle behind on the table and takes a few steps towards her.

There's a moment after thisthe briefest moment, a split second of doubtwhere Tatsu almost turns back, almost walks away. Then it passes, as most things do, and for the first time in years she makes the decision to let herself have this, to let herself feel it. And as she does, she hears it. Tatsu hears an echo of his voice from the night they were finally honest with each other. What are you so afraid of? he'd asked her, and she'd lied. She remembers it so clearly, as if she is back there listening to him again. I am not afraid, she'd told him, and in that moment it had felt like a lie.

Tonight she finally believes it.

 

**

 

When they make it to the bed, Tatsu is the first to fall back on it. Boomerang climbs up after her, careful to not just collapse right on top of her. The king-sized bed creaks underneath the sudden weight and then settles, only creaking quietly as Boomerang moves up the bed, coming closer. And as he joins her on the bed, Tatsu is reminded of the first time they did this. The first time they ended up on the bed like this, with Tatsu underneath him and the Captain hovering over her.

She's tempted to flip them again, to settle on top of him, but for the moment she not to, if only because of his injuries and what his body has been through lately. Tatsu stays where she is underneath him, watching as he leans down to kiss her. He brings himself closer, pressing his body against hers (his chest to hers, his legs tangled between hers) and perhaps it should feel too intimate, too close, but they aren't strangers anymore. They have seen and felt things, even admitted things to each other, that they can't come back from now. She doesn't want to.

Tatsu welcomes the closeness, allowing herself to feel it, to find a comfort in the feeling of his body pressed to hers.

"I swear to God," Boomerang sighs, between kisses. "If Porter comes in, I'm gonna kill him."

She's not sure why it almost makes her smile but she does. If Boomerang is aware of it, he says nothing as he leans back to look at her. He just smiles, and Tatsu is left feeling like she wants to memorize it all. Another time.

"George."

"Alright, fine. I won't kill him." he sighs, while placing his hand against her cheek. "How about I just hit him over the head with somethin' really hard, so we at least have a couple hours to fool around? Not hard enough to kill him, just hard enough to knock him out. Don't worry, it won't hurt him. He'll be right, he looks like a tough bloke."

Tatsu's gaze stays on him, close and unwavering.

He sighs again, fighting a smile this time. "Yeah, alright. Alright, I got it. Loud and clear. I won't do it. But look, I can't promise that I'm not gonna throw something at his head if he comes down here and ruins this. Alright?"

Once again, she almost smiles. If her chest didn't feel so heavy she might, but she is still too focused, too caught up on other things right now. Like the soft touch of Boomerang's hand on her jaw, and how he traces a line along her jaw before moving it down further, to the back of her neck like he did in the cell. His touch, the way she feels, is so familiar to that moment, but at the same time it is all so different now and she enjoys it. She likes the way it is both familiar and entirely new at once.

"Can we stop talking about Porter?"

He nods, watching her like he's still trying to get a read on her. Boomerang's trying to work out what she wants, what she needs, and at the same time he's doubting it all. She finds herself wondering if he still thinks it's all just in his head.

"Yeah, sure. No worries. He's outta my mind. I don't even know anybody named Porter. How 'bout you?"

Tatsu's mind is consumed with this, with him. Nothing else. Only Boomerang, and the way they are right now. His body is still gently pressed to hers, he is still closer than he has ever been, and instead of being focused on that she is consumed with how delicate his hand feels against her neck, on the spot where his fingers are gently tracing invisible lines and patters over her skin.

"There is nothing else on my mind."

The admission surprises both of them, and it makes Tatsu consider if she should have held back, should have kept it to herself. She's almost glad that she didn't because she wanted to give him this, to give him something real.

"Nothing but me? Shit, I feel special." he says, smiling slowly. "You lyin' just to be sweet? Or you really mean that?"

She shakes her head. "I'm not lying."

For a few seconds Boomerang stays where he is, just watching her, then he comes closer. He kisses her, a little harder, a little more intense this time. Tatsu comes closer willingly, moving one hand to his side and the other to his jaw. His hand stays by her neck, the other soon finds a place to rest on her waist, so close to the knot she feels building inside of her. It's more than that now, more than a tightness in her stomach. It's more than the tether, and the pull to him. More than the warmth she sometimes felt in his presence but shut down, until now. It is more than anything she's let herself feel in so many years, that it feels like at any moment it could all come rushing in.

"Just so you know, there's nothin' else on my mind but you." he tells her soon, smiling between kisses. "Just you. And that face. And those beautiful, beautiful legs."

She is quiet when she wants to speak, to say something. She is lost in the kiss, in the way it feels to kiss him, to have his hand on her waist. Slowly he begins to move it down, away from her stomach and to her hip. Somehow he manages to keep his hand away from all the cuts and wounds to her body. After his hand is settled on her hip, he pulls away to look at her again, a new thought clearly on his mind.

"Hey. You changed clothes."

Tatsu's eyes flicker up to him slowly, to find him staring down at her, closer this time. She is suddenly struck with an urge to reach out and touch his face, to let herself memorize it all. It still doesn't feel like that kind of night, so it will have to wait. She soon clears her throat, holding his gaze as she speaks.

"I wanted to be comfortable."

He nods, understanding. And then he opens his mouth and, as he often does, he makes a mess of things.

"I'm still tryna adjust, you know." he confesses. "To your face. And the clothes. It's a bit weird, might take me some time but I'm sure I'll get there in the end."

Then it clicks. Boomerang realizes the way it sounds and comes closer, smiling sweetly. The smile sends that jolt of warmth through her body again.

"Hey, look. That came out awful. Your face? Amazing. The clothes? Just different from what you usually wear, but still hot. Very hot."

Tatsu holds his gaze, quiet until he kisses he again, as if he is making up for it, trying to let her know that he didn't mean it and sometimes it just never comes out the way he means for it to. She understands, understands him better than she even understands herself.

"If one of us looks weird," she begins, only stopping to kiss him. "It isn't me."

With a roll of his eyes, he kisses her back. "You gotta stop it with all the compliments, darl. It's gonna go to my head and that's not gonna be good for anyone, trust me."

"Hasn't it already?"

Smiling, he lifts a hand to her jaw and stares down at her. He looks down at her like he's trying to remember this, too. Trying to remember it all. He only needs a minute before he kisses her. A new thought on his mind, somehow she already knows what he will say next.

"Thought you didn't want to talk?"

In the moment of quiet that follows, Boomerang doesn't push her. He stays close, lifting a few pieces of hair away from her face. Then he brings his hand down to rest on her cheek, rubbing his thumb gently over it. His eyes still linger like he's trying not to forget, and she finds herself hoping that he won't forget. She wants him to remember this so when it's over it will be with him the same way it will be with her.

"I don't. I am just.."

Lost.

He seems to understand in his own way.

"I meant it, what I said before. Just tell me, yeah?" he says, words quiet, gentle. "Just tell me what's good for you. I'm more than happy to go back to whiskey and card games. I'm pretty good at Go Fish. I'm maybe gonna need a couple minutes but I'll be right. We can go back to that if that's what you want."

"I don't want to go." she says fast, without thinking.

Her hand ends up on his shoulder, to stop him from leaving, from taking away this warmth she feels between them. Tatsu doesn't want him to leave, she doesn't want this to end yet. I don't want you to go, she almost says, comes so close to saying. In the end she settles on something much simpler.

"I don't want to go back to that." Tatsu says, lifting her gaze to his. "I want to stay here."

Boomerang understands, and she appreciates it. She needs time, she will always need time, and he is happy to give her all of the time that she needs.

"Yeah? Alright, just let me know what you want." he says, brushing his thumb over her jaw. "Whatever that is, I'm happy. Just want you to be happy. I honestly meant what I said before. You know that, don't ya?"

He doesn't need her to say it. He sees it in her eyes, the same way she saw it in his. I know, she thinks, but doesn't have to say. Tatsu knows what he means, knows who he is underneath the chaos and rage. There is something else there, someone else there, that she connects to, more than she can understand. It is the same for Boomerang. Underneath her rage and grief, he connects to something in her. So this, whatever it is, it is more than just their needs, more than physical desires and attractions. But there is still all of that inside her, all of that between them, and she feels it now.

Tatsu starts with a kiss. With the Captain still pressed on top of her, and with her hands still clinging to his body, she kisses him in a way that is soft, and slow, and familiar. It doesn't feel familiar like they've been here before, it's more like they were always meant to be here, always meant to touch each other like this. Boomerang sinks into the kiss slowly, pressing himself against her a little more. She welcomes it, wanting him to be closer, wanting to feel him here with her.

For now his hands stay where they are, one on her cheek, the other on her hip. But after a minute or two, Tatsu moves one of his hands. She moves her hand away from his shoulder and picks up his hand, the one resting on her hip. She curls her fingers around his and begins to move his hand. Still kissing him, she guides his hand down to her thighs, to the spot just below the end of her t-shirt where the pale flesh of her thighs is exposed. She lets his hand fall back to where he touched her before, to where she wants him to touch her now. She places it there gently, leaving her fingers on top of his, as he tilts his head to look up at her.

It's still too much like a dream. Tatsu can see it in his eyes. It is all too real, too good, and it will be over soon. She watches as he forces the doubt away and kisses her again, deeper this time. They both begin to relax as the seconds pass by. Tatsu feels her body relax underneath him, while she becomes aware of the way Boomerang's hand relaxes on her thigh. He stretches his fingers out slowly, and maybe his touch should feel different, should feel new, but it doesn't. It is familiar and soft for a man like him.

Tatsu feels all of it. Every touch, every hesitation, every breath, as he drags his fingers further up her thigh. When his hand comes to rest on the inside of her thigh, he stops and looks up at her, a different look in his eyes.

"You let me know, alright? Whatever it is, if it's anything at all, you let me know. Just tell me what you want."

She nods, holding her breath as she guides his hand up the inside of her thigh. Just a little higher, then she lets go. Tatsu releases his hand and moves hers back to his cheek, to a spot underneath his jaw that isn't marked with any cuts or bruises. In his eyes she catches something that has always been there, He wants this, she knows it, she always has. Tatsu wants this, too. Wants him, wants all of it. She kisses him soon, losing herself to it, to him.

For so long this is all that she can think about. This, and his lips, and his hand pressed gently to the inside of her thigh. His touch is soft, barely there, and then she moves and brings him closer.

"You don't have to stop." she tells him soon, between small, hurried kisses. "I don't want you to stop, George."

He comes closer slowly, and as he does Tatsu's gaze flickers over him, from his light curls, to his wide shoulders and his muscled chest still covered in his black t-shirt. She almost wants to take it off, to let herself look beneath. But she can barely think about that before she feels it, feels Boomerang begin to run his hand up her thigh as he starts to kiss her again. He lifts his hand up higher, running his fingers over soft and untouched skin while he kisses her, only stopping to look down at her.

As he looks down at her, something intensely warm washes over him. He keeps going, until he stops and rests his hand on her thigh, just an inch away from the line of her underwear.

"Whatever you want.." he begins, then stops.

Tatsu already knows what he will say. She already knows what he means, with the little looks he keeps giving her. Whatever you want, we can do. Whatever you don't want, we won't do. She knows it, as he does. Tonight she wants this, wants him. She wants to feel his hands on her, wants to kiss him and stay like this, stay close, for just a little longer. She wants it like she always has, it's only tonight that she's letting herself feel it.

The second that his finger brushes against the line of her underwear, the knot inside of her stomach tightens and then flips. Boomerang's touch is gentle and curious, almost not there at all. She can still feel his uncertainty, he's holding back, and then he starts to pull away.

"George, don't worry. I'm not armed."

An attempt at a joke, to make him laugh. It's been years since she laughed, since she tried to make a joke. But it works. Boomerang chuckles lightly, shoulders relaxing first, then the rest of his body follows. She's pleased to see it, to watch as it happens, and she quickly lifts a hand, running it through his curls. She promises herself that she will come back for small touches, that their will be time for little moments like this. They have time.

Days and days.

Suddenly two or three days don't feel so small at all.

"Good one, darl. That's a good one." he half-smiles. "Real funny. You're a bit of a comedian, aye?"

Tatsu says nothing, she just watches him. Just takes her time memorizing the lines around his smile, and the spark he sometimes gets in his eyes when he looks at her. With his hand on her thigh, and the other curled against her neck, he is silent until he lets out a breath.

"Just wanted you to know.."

"I know." she says, because she always has. "Do you?"

He nods, smiling a little more. "Of course I do. Been thinking about this, about you, for a while. But it's not just about me. This part especially. So, you..You want to do this, yeah? You want me to do this?"

First she leans in, pressing a small kiss to his lips. He relaxes into it, and again she is reminded of what this means to him. She sees it in the way he softens, how he relaxes at her touch. He wants this, but he also wants her to want it, to want him. It means something to him, and that's important, too. But he needs it to mean something to her, too.

And it does.

"Yes."

"Alright." he says, smiling again. "Tell me if you—"

"I will."

Only a second goes by before they start to kiss again. His hand is back on her thigh, not where it was before but still there. She leaves it, lets him take his time as they kiss. And she enjoys it. For the first time in so long, Tatsu lets herself enjoy something. She lets herself feel it. She enjoys the way it feels to kiss him, and how it feels to hold him, to touch his face, to cling to his side. His touch is soft, too. Barely there, before he begins to move. His hand on her thigh moves up further, to the line of her underwear, where he stops again and then moves, shifting on the bed so his entire weight isn't pressed down against her.

When he's settled, he looks back down at her.

"Let me know what you want, what you like." he says, smiling a little more. "I don't wanna brag but I know what I'm doing. I'm pretty good with my hands, just so you know."

She almost smiles, cheeks a little flushed. She finds that she's glad now, for the few pieces of hair hanging over her face, for how dark the room is.

"That remains to be seen."

Slowly he comes closer. "That sounds a bit like a challenge to me, luv. You sure you're up for it?"

Tatsu is about to answer, to almost smile again, when she takes in a breath and doesn't let it out until Boomerang's hand is inside of her underwear. She's not even sure she really breathes then though. There is too much going on, in her mind, in her body—the knot, the warmth, the need—and then there is Boomerang, kissing her gently as her hand slips to his shoulder. She doesn't even realize the tremble to her hands until now, because of how long it's been, because it's him.

Her cheeks feel hot again. From this, from the way he is looking at her. She hides it all easily.

"Is there a problem, George?" she asks, watching him closely. "Are you afraid of a challenge?"

He laughs sweetly, before reaching down to kiss her. The Captain presses a kiss to her lips then leaves a trail of them along her jaw, neck, and collarbone. He spends the most time there, before he comes back to kiss her lips again, like he missed it, missed her. She welcomes the familiarity and how it feels to kiss him, to recognize the taste and the feel of it against hers. As he kisses her he begins to move a finger inside of her, gently, exploring the way that it feels for both of them.

"Not at all, luv. Bit of competition's always healthy, isn't it?"

His breaths are heavy now, like hers. She leans in to kiss him slowly, memorizing it all; his lips, his body pressed to hers, his hands, his smile. Tatsu's fingers curl around his shoulders tighter, nails scraping against the fabric of his t-shirt, as she clings to him, to this moment between the two of them. And as she does he comes close again, kissing her gently.

"Darlin', you are just magnificent." he says soon, quiet whispers as he kisses her, as he begins to touch her. "Like somethin' from another another world. Somethin' from a dream."

If he says anything after this, she doesn't hear it. If she says anything to him, she isn't aware of it. Tatsu is completely consumed by this, by his touch, by these few little words. There is so much she is still uncertain of, so much she doesn't know, but she knows this: if somehow all of this is a dream then she never wants to wake up.

Chapter Text

Tatsu wakes sometime before dawn, to pale light seeping into the room and the Captain sleeping soundly by her side.

Her eyes are blurry, still half-shut, as she lifts her head to find him through the darkness. She finds him close, sleeping by her side, sharing the same soft blanket that is draped across her. Tatsu doesn't remember pulling it on, doesn't even really remember falling asleep here with him. But what came before this—his hands on her hips, his lips so soft, so warm—she remembers that vividly, remembers it as if it were minutes ago, not hours.

With the memory of last night fresh on her mind, she lifts her head to get a clearer look at the man resting by her side. Boomerang is close to her now, closer than he was the last time she woke to find him like this with her. He was so far away then, so closed off, with a large blanket draped over his broad shoulders and a tiny pink toy clutched between his bandaged hands. It's much different this time, he's different. She thinks he seems more relaxed, more peaceful, than he was that morning he woke by her side. He is like that now but different, in the smallest ways that she only begins to notice after a minute spent watching him in the quiet.

Boomerang is sprawled out next to her in bed, the blanket draped over half of his body, snoring peacefully on his chest. He's got one hand tucked away underneath the pillow, propping his head up, and the other is stretched out on her. Tatsu doesn't know why she only becomes aware of it now, the sensation, the weight of his hand on her. She looks down slowly, finding Boomerang's hand stretched out flat over her stomach, across the dark fabric of her shirt, with his fingers curled ever so slightly around her hip, moving up and down with each breath she lets out and breathes in again.

His touch is so soft, so light, that she barely felt it before. But now that she's aware of it, now that she feels it, it's all that she can think about. This and last night. She quickly feels herself becoming lost to the thoughts, to the memory of warm kisses, soft hands, and light blue eyes. Tatsu spends a while in the memory of his eyes before slowly she feels her surroundings return to her and she realizes that she's smiling.

She already knows why, knows that it's because of him. She realizes soon that she doesn't even want to stop herself from smiling, from feeling this, and she knows why. Tatsu knows that she's smiling because of last night, because of Boomerang (and the want, the need, the blur of kisses, and so much more). It makes her smile a little more just to think about it, but it feels tentative, feels smaller this time, because for a moment she is afraid that she will wake up and this will be another dream. Her smile stays for a little longer anyway, tiny but still there, as she looks up at him again slowly, finding his figure through the half-lit room.

The sky outside is still mostly dark, it won't be bright for hours yet but there is still some light out there. It's enough to see him clearly, to see the two of their bodies tucked away in the corner of the room, so far away from everything else. Tatsu feels glad suddenly that it's still dark out, that he has the time to sleep and to rest, because she knows that he needs it. She knows that her body needs it, too. But there's a voice, quiet and hushed in the back of her mind, that tells her she doesn't want to rest right now, that she just wants to be here, just wants to watch, to remember.

So she does.

Tatsu stays with Boomerang for so long, just watching him, observing the way he breathes, how his body moves, and shifts, and how eventually he begins to stir awake. His eyes, heavy-lidded and pale, are the first to open, to let her know that he is awake and not still sleeping. For a moment he watches her, his eyes still mostly shut, before he closes them again and she wonders if he was ever really awake at all, or if he was just so tired that he drifted off to sleep again. Then he moves.

It's only small, a subtle touch, but she feels it. She feels his hand on her waist move, his fingers twitching, stretching out slightly, before he gives her hip a gentle squeeze and he begins to smile. With his face still half-pressed into the pillow, she can't see all of his smile, can't see his face completely, but it is still so lovely, so soft, that for a while after it's all that she can think about. It's all that stays on her until he speaks, clearing his throat twice before his deep voice fills up the once quiet space.

"Mm. Hey there. You watchin' me sleep?" he asks, grinning slowly. "It's not much to look at, darl. But look all you want. I don't mind one bit."

Slowly he trails off, smile still growing, and for now she says nothing. Tatsu opens her mouth, tries to find the words to say something, to say anything at all, but words simply don't feel like enough right now. That's why she stays quiet, watching Boomerang as his eyes open and he seeks her out again. He seems to take two or three minutes just to watch her, just to take it all in, and she knows why.

He's trying to remember this, trying to file away every little detail, every breath, and she knows that because she did the same thing when she woke up, because she's still doing it now. But there's more to it, more that he's trying to do, and she recognizes it easily. He's trying to work out if it's real or not. Tatsu recognizes the look from last night, from every other moment he's spent with her, trying to work it out, to remember it all just in case it isn't real.

Soon he lets her know that's exactly what he's doing.

"So, um. This is real, yeah? Or just in my head?"

At first Tatsu hesitates, not because she really believes it is a dream, even though for a moment she did, but because there's a part of her that will always doubt if this is real. She thinks that she'll always wonder, always doubt if it's real or not, because of who they are, because of what this is. It is unreal, and terrifying, and new, and they are so messy and fractured. But they are here, and she can feel him, and she knows that despite his fears that he can feel her, too. And that will always help remind her that it isn't a dream.

"It's not in your head."

Boomerang seems to let out a breath, small, barely noticeable, before he starts to smile. She can't help the way that she fixates on it, or how she gets lost in his smile and how lovely it looks in the morning. He is weary and he looks it, looks worn from Belle Reve, from all that he has suffered, but his smile is perhaps the softest one she has ever seen from him.

Her chest tightens at the sight and she tries to forget, to not be so aware of the way it makes her feel, how it lingers in the quiet after. She focuses on him instead, watching as he lifts an eyebrow, curious and a little disbelieving, before slowly he glances her over in a way that is different because it is new, because she can tell that he isn't looking just to look. He really wants to know, needs to know, that this isn't just in his head.

The thought makes her curious, to know what he has dreamed about, to ask if he has dreamed of her before. Tatsu already knows that he has, once, maybe twice, back at the prison. But he doesn't talk about it, doesn't talk about any of his dreams, and for that reason she doesn't ask. Not here, she decides, not today. Another time, maybe.

"You sure? 'Cos I've had dreams like this before." he says after a while. "Well, not quite like this. But close. You catch my drift, eh, darl?"

Tatsu simply nods, her gaze flickering briefly across him. From the curls in his hair, to his light eyes and the small lines that appear on his face when he smiles and means it. She doesn't know why, doesn't know what is so special about it, but it stays with her. She lets herself feel it, lets herself dwell on it, for what must be a while, before the sound of his voice brings her back.

Out of her mind, out of her thoughts, and back to him.

"You know, I think this might be the best dream I've ever had." he says, his eyes shut again. "Trust me, I'm not complaining. I'm definitely not complaining. I know it's real, I do, I'm just.."

Happy, she believes, is the word that comes next. It's what he keeps to himself, what he can't say, but Tatsu still sees it. Written all over his face, and in his eyes, it's there for her to see, to understand that he is afraid because he is happy, because it has been so long, and in the last months whenever he has been happy it's always just been in his head, it's always been a dream. But this isn't and it means something to him, means more than he carry right now.

She understands more than she can say, what he must be feeling, what it's like to be happy only for fleeting moments. She has her freedom at least, she isn't locked in a cage, shut off from the world like he is. Still, she struggles. She knows what it's like to be consumed with doubt, to escape into her mind as a way to cope, to keep living. Tatsu thinks about telling him this, she almost does, but she soon decides against it, deciding again to leave it for another time.

They don't have much time left here. Two or three days, maybe less, maybe more. She doesn't want to spend that time dwelling on difficult things and asking questions she knows will have painful answers. Tatsu doesn't want that for him, doesn't want that to be what he remembers, what he feels, when he looks back on his time away from the prison. She wants them to spend their time differently and she knows that he wants the same thing, too. There's just one thing on her mind that she has to know, to ask, before she forces it all away again.

"Do you dream often?" she asks soon, voice soft.

His eyes flicker open now, slowly, carefully, as if for a moment he drifted off and was afraid of opening his eyes to bright, blaring lights. Tatsu watches quietly as he readjusts to the darkness, searching for her in it, finding her, and then letting himself smile. His half-shut eyes make her wonder how long she was quiet, how much time she spent dwelling in her own thoughts. It doesn't matter now though, that she drifted off, that she was gone for a few minutes, because she came back and they're both here now.

"Sometimes, yeah." he answers half a minute later. "But never, ever like this."

Then Boomerang comes closer, smiling as he wiggles towards her, and she welcomes it. She missed it, even, she thinks. The warmth, being close to him. She goes back to the memory of last night again as the curly haired man next to her comes closer, draping his arm across her and bringing her body closer to his. He ends up leaning against her, in a way that is gentle, and soft, and almost feels like they might be cuddling. Maybe they are, maybe she's just forgotten what it feels like.

Tatsu feels tense at first, only slightly, only because it's been so long and she doesn't know how to be or how to feel about any of this. If he notices anything, if he is at all aware of how she feels, he says nothing. She's glad for that, and that he doesn't pull away. He just comes closer, settling into the bed next to her, with his hand draped over her, the other propped up underneath his head to watch her, to take it all in like she did just minutes ago.

He seems a little more awake now, she realizes. More alert, more present, even if he doesn't look it. She sees through it, sees that what he needs is rest and more than just a few days of it. He needs days and days of rest here at the farmhouse, not back at the prison. She knows that he needs it not just because of what they went through in those hours at Belle Reve, but because of everything before it.

Through the dark she can see him clearly and it worries her to see how tired he is, how much pain he must be in. Her eyes flicker slowly across his face, from the dark shadows growing underneath his eyes, to the cuts and bruises scattered across his face. Tatsu knows what he hides under the fabric of his clothes is worse, that he won't show her, won't admit to that, but she hopes that later he will, that he will give her time to help him, to heal him.

Her mind stays on that, on what she will do for him, how she wants to help, until his touch brings her back. It's simple this time, just the flex of his fingers against the side of her hip, giving her a soft squeeze, both to let her know that she's still here and to bring her back to him again. It works. She doesn't know if it he plans to do it, if it's his intention to bring her back with his light touch on her side, but it works and she appreciates it more than she can say.

"Guess this must be real since I can can really feel ya this time." Boomerang says moments later, voice soft, a low hum. "Don't really mind either way though, 'cos I still get you an' after how shit things have been..Just havin' you here has been everything."

Tatsu hums, saying nothing again, even though she wants to, feel as if she needs to. She wants to say so much, to open her mouth, to let it come out. Her eyes stay glued on him despite her silence, as she lets out a quiet, slow breath and feels something shift in the quiet between them. She recognizes it easily, knows that it is the realization from both of them that this is real now. Not a dream, a quiet thought, or a passing desire, unspoken between the two of them. This is real and it will always be with them, long after they leave this place behind.

She quickly learns that just thinking about what is to come, for herself and for the Captain, is almost too much. It both distracts her and nearly overwhelms her and she doesn't want that, can't let that happen, not here, not today. He brings her back again, and she is certain this time that he doesn't even mean to, that he is just being soft with her, just being here with her. His touch is soft and almost familiar, as he places a hand against her jaw, his silent way of letting her know that he's here and so is she.

It takes her back again, to past moments and old memories. Of his hand on her jaw after the battle at the prison, there to comfort her, to show her that she wasn't alone. She feels that now more than she means to, and she doesn't know if that was his intention but she appreciates it. She closes her eyes to it, to the feeling of his thumb hovering over her cheek, brushing ever so gently against her jaw, before it slips back down to her side again, keeping far away from the bruises and hidden wounds underneath her t-shirt.

After his hand is settled again, she thinks for a moment that this will be it. That he will drift off to leave her to the quiet, but he doesn't and this she also appreciates. He stays there with her, close and present, stroking his thumb over her side, and she knows why he is doing it. She knows why he is here, why he is being so soft. He cares, despite her efforts to keep him at a distance, despite his own. He cares and he's trying to be gentle, to be soft with her, and he is. She finds herself quietly calmed by the feeling, by his touch. She enjoys it, enough that she almost closes her eyes and lets herself drift away.

Tatsu knows it would be so easy to slip away, to fall asleep again with Boomerang by her side. But she doesn't want that, she doesn't want sleep yet. It's too early and she wants more of this, needs more of him, before their time here runs out and they're forced to return to what they had before this.

"You sleep alright, darl?"

She nods, quick to answer. "Better than the first night."

"Yeah? Good, that's good. Just thought, maybe somethin' was up." Boomerang admits, soft but hesitant. "Ya just seem a bit quieter than usual, y'now, or at least quieter than last night."

When I touched you, is what she feels, what she hears, unsaid between them. When I kissed you. When you kissed me. She lingers on the unspoken words, on the memory, before reaching for him. Tatsu takes his hand in hers, curling her fingers softly around his, making sure not to hold on too tightly and to be careful of the bandages wrapped around his knuckles. She holds on lightly, barely there at all, like the way he was holding on to her side when she woke, like he's still holding on now.

By her side, Boomerang stays close. Still, and quiet, and close. His gaze sweeps her over gently, as they both take a minute to adjust to the feeling of holding another person's hands. So simple, so new. She knows that it is small, really, compared to their pasts, to last night, but it doesn't feel it. She thinks that must be why she still holds on, why she grips his hand tighter than she means, just to make sure for one last time that it's real.

"I'm just thinking."

He hums, curious. "Yeah? 'Bout what, exactly? You mind if I ask?"

Tatsu shakes her head a little, almost smiling as she thinks it over, thinks about last night and what happened between them. At the same time she finds herself deeply lost in thoughts of Boomerang in this light, his face scattered with purple bruises and small bandages. She wants to reach out and touch him but for the moment she stays where she is, quiet until it comes to her.

"Last night."

It's her way of saying I'm thinking of you without saying it. Her way of letting him know that he is still on her mind, that he will be for some time, and he seems to understand. She isn't surprised, she's always believed that he's far more aware, far more perceptive, than he lets anyone else believe. But she sees it. She sees it and so much more, she thinks that she always has.

The smile he gives her shortly after this lets her know that he understands, just like she knew he would. Boomerang's smile starts off as small but quickly widens, growing into something bright and bigger, something sweet. A small flash of warmth fills his eyes, spreading slowly across his face, and it takes her a moment to understand what it is, what it means, but in the end she works it out.

He is happy.

Here, with her. Last night, in this bed. He is happy with her and it means more to her than she can begin to let herself think about.

"Yeah, that so? Mm. Anything interestin' happen last night?" he asks, chewing on his lip. "Anything good? You have a good time or just an average night?"

Tatsu half-shrugs, just slightly, not enough to aggravate any of her wounds. It makes him smile and she watches as it happens, while he continues to stare at her, his light eyes staying close on her. She stays aware of this and of his hand, soft on her side, tracing little patterns over the fabric of her dark t-shirt.

"There was a challenge," she says soon. "I lost."

Slowly his smile turns into a grin, that turns into a laugh that rattles his entire body. Still laughing, he leans down to kiss her, leans in for their first kiss of the morning. She thinks that perhaps she was waiting for it, maybe even looking forward to it, ever since last night. It's why she lets herself feel it, lets her entire body still and then relax as Boomerang presses his lips to hers, as gentle and as warm as he was last night.

They spend a moment like this, growing familiar with each other, sharing soft and small kisses, before Tatsu pulls away and Boomerang follows. He sinks back down onto the pillow next to her, his arm finding the same place to rest across her, his body leaning into hers like he needs the closeness, like he can't move away now. She feels it, too. It's why she lets herself come close, why she takes his hand, stretched out over her abdomen, and she lets herself slip her fingers between his, because she needs it.

Maybe as much as he does, maybe more.

"Oh, come on. I wouldn't say that, luv." he smirks. "I'd say in the end, we were both winners. Wouldn't you?"

Tatsu nods. "I think maybe you are right."

Warmth fills his eyes and he smiles, letting himself feel it. He doesn't try to hide it or stop it. Boomerang lets it all show, the warmth, the happiness he feels. He doesn't hide it, he lets her see it, and she's so glad that he does. It makes her want to smile as he starts to laugh and doesn't stop for what feels like at least five minutes. By the time he finally speaks again, she is so lost in the sound of his laugh that she almost doesn't hear it.

"I think that might be the first time anyone's ever said that to me an' meant it. And out of everyone, really never thought I'd hear it from you. Next thing y'know, pigs are gonna fly."

She nearly smiles again and he sees it because he's so close, because he always does. But he says nothing, deciding instead to stay quiet by her side. Tatsu thinks another minute must go by as Boomerang tries to get a little more comfortable. He sits up for a few seconds, fixes the pillows underneath his head, drags the blanket back up over the two of them, and then finally he settles next to her again.

"Always sounds nice when ya say it." he says, smiling again. "Think it's just who you are. You could say anythin' at all and I'd still love the sound of it."

Tatsu's eyes flicker up to his slowly, curious. Not just to hear what he has to say, but to come close to him. She wants to let herself come close, to reach out and touch his face. She wants more than that. She wants so much that she can't begin to understand. Why? she longs to know why she wants to get lost in him, in the many lines, scars, and tattoos on his skin.

She wants to promise herself that she will later, because there is time, because they might have days here. But after what she has lost, after all that she has seen, it feels too dangerous to let herself believe that she could have this. She can't, so she simply reminds herself that here and now there is still time. And if there is a way to have more, one day they might.

"What sounds nice?" she asks soon.

"Anything. I reckon you could say anything at all and it'd sound good." Boomerang answers, sounding soft and a little hesitant. "Think I could sit an' listen to you for ages an' ages and I'd never get bored, just 'cos you only say shit you mean and that really makes it mean something. Makes it real, ya know?"

There is a depth, a rare sincerity, to his words that gets to her. It means more than it should to her, perhaps more than it ever has before. She knows why, knows that it's because she can't begin to look into what she feels, how she could sit with him and listen, too. Tatsu doesn't say this though, she just sits in the quiet, focused on his words that echo quietly through her mind until she seeks him out, glancing up in the half-dark room to find his soft, sleepy eyes already watching her.

"How long d'ya think we can stay here for?" he asks, the question that's been on her mind since she woke. "You think we've got a bit of time left before we gotta go?"

Hours and hours, she hopes, but doesn't say.

She wants to believe that there is only time, here on this early morning where everyone is sleeping, and far away, and the sky is still dark enough that they won't be bothered. Not for hours, she realizes soon. That means they have time to be here, to sleep, to stay with each other, to stay here all day if they want. She knows that they can't, that they will have to see Porter, go outside for air, and then clean up their wounds and get some more rest. She also knows that if it were up to Boomerang he'd have them stay here in bed all day.

With the way that she feels with him right now, she knows if he were to ask that she wouldn't say no.

"It is early." Tatsu says soon, her belated answer.

Amused, he smiles. "That a yes?"

"You know that it is."

Slowly he smiles more and leans in towards her, placing his hand gently on her cheek. It stays there for a few seconds before he moves it, to reach out and tuck a piece of hair back behind her ear, to see her, to let himself remember her. Tatsu knows that he is both trying to remember this moment and trying to remember her, because he has never seen her like this before, because he may never again.

She soon learns that there is another reason why his gaze lingers, why his thumb barely touches her cheek, only brushing against her skin in a few places. It's what Belle Reve did to her, the marks and bruises she wears on her face, of what she survived, what they both did. Boomerang's eyes flicker across her slowly, over the tiny bandages and her pale skin turned purple in places, and as he does his rage becomes clearer. It begins to return to him, to fill him up, and she doesn't want that.

Tatsu knows that he is angry with them and with himself. He is angry with what happened that day, what almost happened, and she doesn't want him to be. She can't let him be, not today, not ever. He doesn't deserve that, not after what he's endured. He deserves time, and a place to be calm and free of guilt. She knows that what he needs right now is time, a distraction, to give him something else, something good, to think about. She knows just how to give him that and she thinks it might be just what she needs, too.

Her lips are soft as she presses them to his, careful of his wounds, of what he has survived. The kiss surprises him but he quickly leans into it, eager to kiss her, to be close again. She feels that same longing to kiss him, to be consumed by that warmth, but she takes her time. Tatsu is gentle and slow, he is the same, and for so long they stay like this. For so long they share small and slow kisses, until eventually they separate.

When it's over they stay close, her eyes still shut, his hand clinging gently to her side, and she doesn't mind. She prefers it, maybe even likes the way that it feels to close her eyes and have him right there, to feel his body pressed against her. She tries not to dwell on the thought and welcomes the distraction that his voice brings minutes later.

"Not sure what I know, not anymore. But I'm workin' it out." he says, sounding as if he's smiling. "I know I wanna stay here with you all day, an' I wanna kiss you again. You think we can do that again later?"

Tatsu's eyes flicker open slowly, to find the Captain there looking down at her, smiling in a way that is equally sweet and silly. She knows that he's already aware of her answer, that he is just teasing, and again she doesn't mind. She likes that he is comfortable with her, that slowly he is beginning to show himself, to be himself. She enjoys seeing the change, enjoys even more seeing the rage and pain leave him slowly. He deserves to be free of it, even if it doesn't last, even though she knows it is inevitable and that it will come back to him when he returns to the prison.

For now, he is happy. He is lighter and he feels free here, or close enough to it, and she wants him to enjoy that for as long as he can. She wants this for him and she will do her best to give it to him, to make sure that he spends these next days, or hours, or however long they're here, happy like he deserves to be. Whatever comes after that, for both of them, is something for her to think about later. Not today, not when he is smiling at her the way that he is, not when she feels just as happy to be around him as he is to be around her.

"I think you also know the answer to that."

He hums, arching an eyebrow. "You reckon?"

"I do." Tatsu nods. "I think you know more than you let on."

"Ha, yeah. Right. Really don't think I do. Gonna have to agree to disagree on that, darl." Boomerang smirks, amused. "Hey, so, you said you were thinkin' about last night. Were you thinkin' about anything in particular? Maybe a bloke? A really good lookin' bloke, right? Bet he was real charmin', too. Wasn't he?"

"Mm. There was..Someone."

Her answer amuses him, more than she expects it to. He laughs loudly, while reaching out and brushing another piece of hair back off her face. Tatsu doesn't know why he does it, if it's because he can't see her clearly enough with the dark strands scattered across her face, or if it's because he just wants to touch her, just wants to be gentle. She can't work out what it is but she knows that it means something to her, that it means more than she can let herself think about.

Before she gets lost in her head, he finds a way to keep her here. Without realizing it, Boomerang keeps her from getting swept up in her thoughts. He wiggles closer to her, smiling in a way that lets her know that she's right to think that he is showing a little more of himself, that he is letting himself forget about Belle Reve for a while. She doesn't mind that in this mood he wants to talk, to touch her, to be close. She likes it, likes growing more familiar with him and the sound of his voice.

"Oh, yeah? Go on. Tell me then. Tell me 'bout him. What was he like?" he asks, struggling not to smile. "Hang on, I got it. He was handsome, wasn't he? He was a real looker, I can tell. Yer practically glowin', luv. He must have been somethin'. Must have been real charmin' and good with his hands, ay? That sound about right?"

This time it takes her a minute to realize that she's smiling. It's more of a half-smile, really. She's not sure how big it is, or if he sees it at all, but she doesn't let herself hide it. She tries not to keep it from him and instead she lets herself get swept up in Boomerang and the way that he's watching her right now, how he reacts to her smilebecause it is has been so long since she smiled at him, because she can't remember a moment where she ever smiled at him like this. She thinks it's been even longer since she smiled at anyone and meant it, and that's why she struggles with it sometimes.

It's something that she struggles with, especially now, because it's been so long and she feels as if she's grown so unfamiliar with that side of herself that was once happy, that once smiled, and laughed, and enjoyed things. Tatsu isn't sure who that person is anymore, just like she isn't sure who she is, or where Boomerang fits into any of this, but she wants to believe that there's something in her still there that will be able to smile one day and really feel it.

"Yes." Tatsu says, watching his smile grow. "That sounds..Right."

"Mmm. Tell me more?"

He was kind, she thinks, and comes so close to saying to Boomerang, just to show him a piece of the man he can be, the man he so often is with her. He was soft, and so kind, and for a night he was so happy.

So was she.

This she wants to tell him, to find a way to say, but she doesn't know how. She spends a minute thinking it over, and as she does Boomerang watches her. His gaze follows her as she moves in bed, not to pull away from him but to find a way to be closer, to get comfortable again. Tatsu doesn't go far, not really. She just rolls over on to her side to face him, to let herself be closer, and to spend a while resting on her side and not on her back where it still aches in places.

She's wanted this for so long that she wants to let herself enjoy it and not overthink it. Boomerang says nothing after she's settled, he just moves his hand to her waist, places it there gently, and then he looks back down at her and for so long they are quiet. For so long they stay like this, quietly watching each other, until she finds one of the many answers to his questions.

"He was funny."

"Really? Guess he wasn't sure you ever thought he was funny, 'cos he never saw you smile." Boomerang pauses, his expression softening just a little. "But that's alright. Don't think he smiled all that much 'till you showed up, then you were all cute an' angry. He couldn't stop thinkin' bout you after that. Just thinking 'bout you always made his day, always made shit feel good again."

It overwhelms her more than she expects it to. His words, what it means, and the way he looks at her afterwards. Tatsu spends far too long thinking over his words, turning them over, tearing them to pieces, because it means too much. It is too much to think about and yet she can't stop, can't get the sound of his voice out of her head long after it falls quiet again.

He gives her time to her thoughts, not pushing her to speak, to say anything at all. Boomerang sits in the quiet for a long time, his arm draped comfortably over her waist, as he waits for her to come back. He gives her as much time as he can, to think it over, to work out what it all means, and Tatsu appreciates it. But eventually he breaks, unable to sit in the silence for a minute longer, and she doesn't mind at all.

"Bloody hell, darl. Look at you." he sighs. "You look absolutely beautiful in the mornin'. Wish I could wake up to this every day. Wouldn't that be something?"

Tatsu's eyes meet his again soon, flickering up away from the shadows of the room and back to him. When she looks at him, really looks, she discovers that he is watching her again, in a way that is familiar and warm. There is nothing else, only warmth, and it seeps into her. She lets it, enjoying the feeling, as she reaches out for him. She doesn't let herself think about it, she just stretches out and lifts her hand to his jaw. Her fingers hover in the air for a second before she places her hand against his cheek, watching him soften at her touch.

Then slowly Boomerang closes his eyes, like he is trying to remember this, or maybe he is weary and wants to rest again. Whatever it is she leaves him to it, giving him as much time as she can to rest in the quiet until she breaks. She can't help it, that she is the one who breaks this time, the one who can't sit in the quiet. It's just that there's a new thought on her mind, one that she has to voice, and she can't wait.

"You asked me something once, George."

With his eyes still shut, he begins to smile.

"Yeah? Might have to narrow it down a bit, darl." he chuckles. "On account of all those hits I took back at the prison, especially to my head, you might wanna be a bit more specific. What exactly did I ask ya?"

"About a name."

Seconds later his eyes open, bright with understanding. He knows what she's talking about, remembers the moment he asked her for her name and then later accused her of keeping it to herself. Tatsu sees it now, that there was some truth to that, that she did keep her name to herself. For distance? Maybe. She isn't sure, she just knows that she feels differently now, about this, about herself, and that this might be something she wants him to know.

She feels like she might want to give him this, to share it, and she knows that he can see that. But it quickly becomes clear to Tatsu that, for a moment, he is somewhere else.

"What, the nickname? Koala, you mean?"

Her mouth opens and silently closes in a second, both because she doesn't know how she's supposed to answer that now and because of the realization that she helped him to remember a nickname she hoped he might have forgotten. He clearly hasn't and she immediately regrets helping him to remember the name.

"No, not that—" she begins, but never finishes.

"'Cos I reckon you thought I forgot all about that, didn't ya?." Boomerang points out, grinning smugly. "But I didn't. And now that you mention it, it kinda feels like yer a tiny little koala right now. All warm, and little, and snuggled up against me."

"I wasn't talking about that."

Then it clicks and he gets it, really gets it, what she wants to tell him. Not her nickname but her name, the one he asked for, the one he apparently forgot he asked for until now. She sees almost right away that this is more important to him than his nickname for her, or at least for the moment it is. She already knows that he probably won't ever forget that name, just because he seems like a man who never really forgets things, he only pretends that he does. Still, she welcomes the chance to take his mind off the nickname for a while.

"Oh. So, yer name. The real one." he pauses. "The one you won't tell me. That's what yer talkin' about?"

Tatsu nods, her hand back on his jaw again. She doesn't think about it, she just does it. She just lets her body go where it wants to, and right now her hand wants to stay on his jaw, wants to trace soft lines along his cheek, staying far away from the bandages and marks on his skin. When she's done tracing the lines on his skin she lets her hand settle against his cheek, because it feels nice there. For a moment it feels like it might even belong there.

He seems to feel the same way.

"You tried to persuade me." she says eventually.  "You said that because we were getting friendly that you should know."

For the first few seconds, he doesn't react. Then suddenly his eyes light up, like a burst of light filling the dark, and it lets Tatsu know just how excited he is by this chance to know her name. He begins to smile, stops, then lets himself come closer, as if he is so filled with anticipation and excitement that there can't be any space left between them on the bed.

"Shit, are youwait, just hang on. Hang on a sec." he pauses, smiling. "You're saying what I think you are, yeah? You're saying I get to know?"

She nods once. "I was thinking about it."

Flickers of emotion come and go through his eyes, fading quickly, and afterwards he is quiet. He seems serious, for the briefest of moments, and at first she doesn't understand why and then slowly she begins to believe that she does. He's only just realizing what this will mean, that she wants him to know, that she feels like it's time for him to know. Tatsu isn't sure why, she can't explain it to herself, but there's a part of her that wants to tell him, wants him to know this about her.

She thinks that perhaps she shouldn't, that one day she might regret this. But she is so tired of living her life that way, fearful of regrets, of her past, her future. Right now she wants to stay here with him in this moment that, for a reason she can't begin to explain, feels like it might be the start of something entirely new.

"Why the change of heart?" he asks, half-serious. "Is it 'cos we're friends now? Yeah, must be. I reckon we got real friendly last night, didn't we?

"That isn't why. What you said last night was correct, I was keeping distance. You were right about that."

Boomerang lifts an eyebrow, amused and a little confused. Then slowly he lets himself come closer, his hand finding its way back to her side, to stretch out over her hip, and to slowly trace small circles over the fabric of her t-shirt. His other hand comes to rest against her cheek soon, there only for a minute before he places it lower, down on the curve of her neck, like he wants to touch her but wants to be careful, wants to stay far away from any of the places that she's been hurt so he won't make it worse. She appreciates that, but she appreciates even more the feeling of him being here.

So warm, so close. She feels it all, right there with a longing to close her eyes and let herself fall asleep here in his arms. She wants to hope that one day she might, but for now she just lets herself focus on how they have at least a few hours here like this. It's more than either of them have had in a long time and she thinks that's why it feels so fragile, why she's so convinced it will break at any moment. But there's something in the way Boomerang is looking at her right now that lets her know he doesn't intend on letting that happen.

"Shit. I never thought I'd hear you say that twice in one day." he pauses. "You sure I'm not dreamin', luv?"

"You were right about why I didn't tell you." Tatsu confesses, to him and to herself. "But before I do, there is a question I want to ask you."

"Sure. What's on yer mind, luv?"

"You didn't ask Waller or Flag. You could have, you chose not to. Why?"

He seems surprised but he smiles anyway, spending a quiet minute thinking it over before he gives her his answer, his explanation about why he never asked, never pushed her or anyone else for it. She believes that she already knows why but there's a part of her that needs to hear it from him.

"That's yer question? Mm, darl, it's real simple. Think we both know Flag was never gonna give that up, even if I'd begged him for it. With how much he cares about you, he'd never give that away." Boomerang answers, pauses, then chews down on his lip. "And let's not even talk about Waller, yeah? Let's not even go there right now, darl.  'Cos we both know she wouldn't pour water on me if I was burning."

"Still," Tatsu pauses, quiet. "You didn't ask."

Then she moves her hand slowly, to reach for him, to place it against his chest and leave it there. She's careful to keep it far away from all the bandages and wounds underneath his t-shirt, and she soon learns from the smile he gives her a moment later that it feels nice, feels more than nice. He seems to like the touch, to relax from it, and she feels relieved to see that because she didn't mean to bring up Waller. She doesn't want him to lose himself to memories of Belle Reve or Waller. She just wanted to know, to ask why he never tried to find out from anyone else but her.

She soon gets her answer.

"Can't say I never thought about it, 'cause I did. Pretty much all the time." he admits, sighing. "Just felt like if I was ever gonna know, that it was gonna have to come from your mouth an' not theirs. Wouldn't have felt right any other way, y'know? Just something stupid like that."

"It isn't stupid." she's quick to say.

Her hand ends up on his jaw, touching a spot of skin there gently. Again he softens at the touch, just a little, then he begins to smile in a way that lets her know he isn't convinced but he appreciates her saying it.

"It is, I think. But it's alright. Reckon that's just how it is, that I get a bit stupid 'round you. Don't know why that is, why I'm.."

When he loses the word she tries to help him find it.

"Different?"

He answers with a nod of his head at first, saying nothing else, only watching her as if he somehow knows that there is more on her mind, more that she wants to say about this. He's right. She thinks there is so much on her mind, quiet, and unspoken, and hidden away. So much that she could say, about him, and about herself, and what it is that she feels when they're together. Tatsu doesn't want to talk about any of that tonight, doesn't want to get too deeply into it, so she simply shares with him what is already on her mind, what she believes is true for both of them.

"It isn't a bad thing, to be different. Is it?"

"You want that?" he asks, smile faintly there. "For me to be different? That somethin' you want?"

There is no rage to his words. No uncertainty, no anger, just a quiet curiosity to know what it is that she wants. That's all there is, all he wants to know, and he waits patiently for it. In the quiet he studies her, waiting for her answer, her truth on what it is that she wants, what she wants him to be. The truth is simple, she thinks she's always known it. She doesn't want him to change who he is, to be different, to be someone else entirely. She's not sure that he ever could change, even if she wanted him to. But she doesn't even want that.

Boomerang is who is he.

She would never ask him to change himself.  She would only ever want him to work on things like his rage towards the guards, the way he doesn't take care of himself when he's on his own, or how he sometimes acts without thinking. That she would ask him to change, just to be careful, to keep himself safe. But who he is? She realizes now that she would never want that, not even for a minute.

"Who else would amuse me the way that you do?"

His smile comes back, bright and still unconvinced.

"Yeah, sure. Who else is gonna piss you off like I do? Think that's what you meant to say, isn't it?"

It's only now that something tightens in her chest again. Whatever it is she doesn't recognize it right away and then it's gone before she can dwell on it. But she still feels it linger, feels pieces of it inside of her, as she watches Boomerang and realizes just how serious he is about this. He believes what he just said, believes that this is all he's good at, that this is the kind of man he is and nothing else. And perhaps he is good at it, but there is more to him, there is good to him, and she's seen it.

She hopes that one day he will, too.

"George, you don't—"

"It's alright, darl. I've always known." he assures her, faintly smiling. "Who I am, what it does to people. I know, always have. Kinda hard not to know."

Tatsu nods, moving her hand again. This time she lifts it up to his curls, where she gently brushes her fingers through a few light strands, before eventually finding her way back to his cheek. She places her hand there, soft, barely there at all, and afterwards she lets herself meet his gaze as she exhales a soft breath.

"I was frustrated because I wanted to protect you. And I couldn't do anything, and you wouldn't do anything, and I was—frustrated, but that is all. Nothing else."

He hesitates, briefly lost. "So you really don't then? Really don't want me to be different? To be somebody else?"

For a moment after she thinks that he will doubt it, that he will doubt her, maybe even pull away from her. But he doesn't. Boomerang doesn't doubt her on this and he doesn't pull away like a part of her expects him. Instead of pulling away he comes closer, lightly brushing his lips against hers before he kisses her. Tatsu feels herself relax against him, her fingers pressed gently to his jaw as he presses his body down against hers. His chest to hers, his lips to hers.

"Mm, alright. So, where were we?" Boomerang pulls away, looking happy again. "Oh, the name. That name. Your name."

Tatsu nods, holding his gaze. "The name."

He seems amused by her answer and by the way she pretends for a moment to not exactly know what he's talking about. She watches fondly as he laughs, leaning back against his pillow a little as he runs his fingers through his hair and smiles more, watching her in a way that lets her know he is now very determined to know her name and won't leave this bed without it. It amuses her to see him like this and she decides to try and enjoy it, maybe even have some fun with it, for just a minute or two.

"You were gonna tell me, weren't you?" he grins, bright eyed and curious. "You seemed a bit uncertain but I reckon for a minute there, before we got sidetracked, that somethin' was gonna happen. That you were gonna tell me."

"Was I?"

She feels herself begin to smile as she watches his reaction to her words. Boomerang starts off by smiling, amused, and then he scoops her up in his arms and starts to laugh. Tatsu lets herself smile now, lost completely in his arms and in the sound of his laughter as it echoes through the tiny space. He ends up holding her in a way that feels like he's going to squeeze the name out of her, and she can't help but smile. He doesn't see it, his head is buried into her neck at this point, leaving small and wet kisses along her neck, but she still hopes that he will look up long enough to see it and to know that she is like this because of him.

But before that happens, before anything else happens, she becomes distracted by something she sees over his shoulder, out of the tiny window in the basement. A burst of light, so familiar, just like the city. Just like her dreams of Boomerang in the city, surrounded by smoke, and aliens, and choppers the size of butterflies. Through it all she knows what's real and what isn't.

Tatsu knows that this light outside of their room is real, and not just in her head, not from a dream. She knows what it is, and right away she knows what and who it's here for.

"Yeah, c'mon. Are you gonna tell me, darl? I'm dyin' to know—"

The rest goes unsaid, cut off by the deafening sound of a chopper flying overhead.

Chapter Text

A flash of bright light pours in through the basement window, blurring Tatsu's vision. She blinks it away and reaches blindly for Boomerang, moving to untangle herself from his warm embrace. He is the one who moves first though, his head snapping upright at the sound of the chopper as it circles around the farmhouse. It is so loud now, its vibrations rattling the walls, and she knows that it must be close and that they will come for him soon.

That thought alarms her and she means to do something, to sit upright, gather her things, and run. But for now she is still, stuck in a moment that feels as if it ended far too soon. So this is real? Yeah? she hears his voice again, words soft, echoing through her heavy mind. Real? Or just in my head? She almost wishes she could say that it wasn't real, that it was in his head, or in hers, so then they might have some more time here but she knows that wouldn't be the truth.

This is real and they can't run from it, can't ignore what it might be, who they might be here for. Tatsu is suddenly struck with the fear that they aren't here to help and that they are here to take him away from this place, away from her, again. She quickly turns to Boomerang and realizes that he doesn't seem to share any of her concerns.

"Aw, what?" Boomerang groans, lips pouted. "You kiddin' me? Flag's here to ruin the party?"

Then the tired Australian by her side moves to sit upright in bed, the blankets falling away from his scarred back when he sits up. Forgetting that he is hurt, his body a mess of bloody cuts and puffy bruises, He moves too quickly and regrets it. He immediately lowers himself back down against the mattress, a quiet groan slipping from his lips. Boomerang tries to muffle the sound so she doesn't hear it, so she won't be aware of his pain, but he doesn't hide it well.

Anger flares up inside of Tatsu's chest, strong but fleeting, when she lets herself think about what they did to him. It hurts her to see him like this and to remember that she couldn't protect him, but tonight she will protect him, will do whatever it takes to keep him safe.  Whatever this is, whatever it becomes, Tatsu will protect him no matter what the cost.

This she knows with certainty and promises herself that she will do. Not for herself or what she might feel for Boomerang, but she will do this for him. Tatsu will protect him because he deserves a chance to survive this, to start over again, and to have more than he's been given in a long time. She moves closer to him now, observing quietly as he places a hand over his tender ribs and strains forward in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the helicopter through their tiny window.

Tatsu follows, attempts to do the same, but the light is far too bright and makes it hard to see anything at all. It doesn't help that the window is narrow and high up on the wall, making it impossible to clearly look through. But they can still hear the helicopter hovering nearby, and with every second that slips by she loses more hope that Flag is here.

If this were Flag they would know by now. Porter would have told them, or Flag would have sent word. Tatsu knows this with certainty because she knows Flag, has grown familiar with him in ways she never imagined that she would, so she knows that he wouldn't do this. He wouldn't let them worry, would never show up unexpected and without sending a message through to them. If this were him they would know but no one has come to talk to them, and because of this Tatsu knows that this isn't Flag and they might be alone in this.

The Captain still doesn't seem to share her concerns, he doesn't see it this way at all. He seems completely unaware of what this could be and is still convinced that Flag is here to ruin this. Tatsu watches quietly as Boomerang collapses into the mattress with a sigh, clearly annoyed by the thought that his time away from the prison is already over and that he will have to go back now.

At the moment that is her least pressing concern. Tatsu is far too consumed with thoughts of what comes next, where she will take him if they need to run, what she will do to keep him safe, not that she even knows where they would go. Porter decided that they shouldn't know where they are, or where to go if something like this happened, because he'd been so sure it couldn't happen. He decided it would be better, somehow safer, for the two of them to know as little as possible about their location.

Tatsu thinks of him again now, only briefly. She thinks about where Porter is, if he will come for them, give them answers or a way out. She quickly makes the decision that they can't wait around for Porter to come and they need to be ready to move. They need to gather their things, get dressed, and find their own way out of here if that's what they have to do. But before Tatsu can say a word to Boomerang, he moves again.

His light eyes are clear now, filled with a new realization. He puts the pieces together quickly and soon understands what Tatsu already knows; that whoever this is it probably isn't Flag and that they might be alone in what comes next. He almost seems afraid to not know what comes next, she almost wants to tell him that she feels the same way but she doesn't.

Boomerang springs into action before she can say a word. He scoops Tatsu up in his arms and rolls, keeping her pressed firmly to his chest as they tumble off the bed together, hitting the ground beneath them with a heavy thud. He takes the brunt of the fall, his already wounded back the first thing to hit the floorboards. The Captain hisses out a groan at the impact but says nothing, keeping whatever pain he feels to himself as they settle on the ground, with him on top of her and Tatsu wedged between his chest and the floor.

He hovers above her carefully and stays close, the broad shape of his body covering hers completely. It's only when their eyes meet in the dark room that she realizes what he's doing, that he's using his body as a shield to protect her from whatever comes next. He's trying to keep her safe and she sees it clearly now that he understands this isn't Flag or Waller here for them. He knows they're here for him, just like they were that day at the prison, and still his most pressing concern isn't himself.

It's her.

He doesn't want to run, or find a way to save himself. He wants to stay here and keep her safe. Tatsu can barely think about what that means for someone like him, someone once so isolated and selfish, to want to put her first in a moment like this. But he does. She lets the thought slip away to dwell on again later and she refocuses on their situation. They need to leave now, can't risk spending too much time here in the shadows, waiting for help that might not come. So she decides to move, or she tries to move but can't.

Boomerang gets in the way. He stops her from moving and stays right where he is, determined to keep her there and shielded from whatever is outside of the farmhouse. She understands why he doesn't move, why he wants to stay here, but she knows there's no waiting this out and she needs him to understand this before they run out of time.

"Darl, listen. We gotta stay, alright? We gotta stay here." he whispers, watching her. "We wait 'till Porter comes. He'll get us outta here, yeah? We'll be right if we just stay down here. Trust me."

If she had just a little more strength in her body, if she weren't so worn down from her last battle, then Tatsu knows what she would do now. She even thinks about doing it, despite how weary her body is and how it still needs time to heal. Tatsu thinks about shoving Boomerang aside, gathering her things, and taking him far away from here.

She just can't seem to do that today, can't gather the strength, because she is already so tired. Tatsu knows that they're both still healing from Belle Reve and it only dawns on her now that if they intend on surviving this then they're going to have to rely on each other completely and stick together through whatever comes their way.

"George," she whispers. "We can't wait."

He opens his mouth to protest but quickly stops himself, deciding to stay quiet and hear what she has to say.

"We have to go. We can't wait here. Tell me you understand."

Boomerang sighs and clenches his jaw hard. His disagreement with her clear, but before he can get a word out they're both distracted by the lights again. The bright glow passes by the window, flickering deep inside the basement as if searching for something, and it quickly reminds the two of them that they aren't alone here. Slowly they move together, sinking down against the floor, his body still shielding hers.

It hurts him, she realizes now. She hears it in the sound of his shallow breaths against her ear. It hurts Boomerang to be like this, to have moved so suddenly and to have hit the floor with such force. His body is still tender, still healing, but there is no time to think about his pain. She will take care of him later, mend his wounds, give him a chance to rest, but there is no time for that now.

Her body is just like his, tender from battle and still healing. Tatsu is still wounded and she aches in places just like Boomerang does, and she isn't sure that she's ready for this battle and the chaos that will come with it. But she knows that if she has to fight her way out of this then she will. Tatsu will fight to get him out of this and to make sure that he survives, this is all she knows. It is still her clearest, most overpowering thought.

He will live through this night and many more.

"Look at us, darl. Yeah? Really take a look at the pair of us." Boomerang pleads, his voice bringing her back. "You an' me..We're wrecked, luv. We can't do this, not like last time. Our best shot, our only real shot, is the big man upstairs. We gotta wait for Porter. Tell me you get that?"

He is afraid, she sees it now, hears it in his voice. It's written in the lines on his face, too. Boomerang is never afraid, of anything or anyone. He's a fighter, was probably born one, and he knows how to survive, and yet tonight he is afraid, or at least that's what Tatsu believes she sees in his eyes. He fears what she does, that what happened at Belle Reve will happen again tonight and they won't survive it.

But there is more to it, more that flickers over his face. He isn't afraid for himself, he's afraid for her, worried for her life not his own. Tatsu opens her mouth to speak again and tell him that they can't wait for Porter to come and save them, that they have to do this together. But he is still trying to find another way out of this and Tatsu wishes that there were one.

"George," she sighs, then moves.

This time he doesn't stop her.

Boomerang lets her go and moves out of her way, giving Tatsu the chance to sit upright. He then joins her side and sits with her in the quiet, both of them still very much aware of the chopper circling over the farm, the light still there just a little less blinding now. Tatsu waits a moment, moves to kneel, and then reaches out for Boomerang's hand in the dark. She finds his hand easily and is gentle as she holds it, gives it a squeeze.

"You need to trust me, George." she insists, though it sounds far more like a plea. "Trust that I know what to do."

A soft but firm plea because she needs him here, needs him to trust that they can do this. Tatsu can only see one way out of this and it's together, fighting side by side against whatever comes. She knows that waiting and hiding in the basement won't work, that help may never come, and she can't protect Boomerang here. She needs him to understand this, to trust her, but she's not convinced that he does yet.

His expression is harder now, impossible to read, as he glances down at her hand in his. Tatsu wonders if he will pull away, and is almost surprised when she doesn't tug her hand away first. She isn't sure why she holds on, or why she finds comfort in his touch, but there isn't time for her to think of such things now. She quickly forces herself back to this moment, back to their little room and the tiny window up high on the wall.

She still can't see anything out of it and that concerns her. They are blind down here, they don't know who or what is waiting for them, and it worries her. Tatsu knows that they need to move, that they should already be gone, and yet for a moment she doesn't move. She can't. Tatsu is quiet and still when the sound of Boomerang's voice fills the air, quickly becoming the only sound she can focus on.

"Katana, luv, if you don't.." he pauses, exhales a breath. "If you think I don't trust you, of all people, then I dunno what to tell ya."

Then he squeezes her hand gently, his features soft again, or as soft as he can let himself be in a situation like this with so much danger and so much unknown. His light eyes glance her over quickly, taking in her wounds, or perhaps he is just looking though she's convinced that there's more to it than that. She can't be sure but she only knows that when he's done, he lets himself come close to her again.

Boomerang leans in, puts his forehead against hers, and stays there in a rare moment of softness that he doesn't usually allow himself. It's the same for her, so new and unfamiliar, to be like this with someone else. To be this close, this still, with him. Tatsu releases a slow breath, tempted to close her eyes, only she can't do that right now. They can't stay here, can't spend much more time in this room, but she still can't move just yet.

"I trust you, alright? More than I've trusted anyone in a bloody long time, maybe even ever." he says then pauses, as if startled by the admission. "But I think you're forgetting about that silver fox Porter. He'd never let anything happen. He likes me too much and he thinks you're alright too, most of the time. We're gonna be just fine, darl. I swear it."

But she is still not easily convinced, not at all, and Boomerang still isn't seeing this differently. Tatsu says nothing for the moment and pulls away suddenly, her gaze flicking up to the small window as she quietly works out her plan to get him out of here. She can't wait for Porter, can't trust anyone else to get them out of this. She knows that this isn't Belle Reve, that it's different here, but she can't risk letting that happen again.

Tatsu knows that Porter is different, he is a soldier, so unlike the guards at the prison. He doesn't have a grudge against Boomerang, he actually seems to almost like him sometimes, but she still can't trust that. She can't trust anyone else with his life, only herself. He can't do this alone, he is too wounded, his body tired and still carrying the pain from Belle Reve. He has no weapons, nothing to fight with. He only has his fists and he's in no condition to fight with his already injured knuckles.

It only really dawns on her now just how bad his condition is, how little he will be able to do with his tired body. Boomerang isn't ready for this fight but she will still need him there to fight by her side, to survive this together like they did that night in the city and then again in Belle Reve. She will do what she can for him though, fight where he can't, just to make sure that he gets through this.

She wishes they had more time to heal, that he had a few more days to recover. They were supposed to have more time than this. Two more days, they were promised, but that's over now. Her heart clenches at the realization that this is it and it's over now. They will have no more moments, no drinks or stories in the dark, no time to learn about each other. They only have now and whatever comes after it, though there's no guarantee that they will both make it through this.

Suddenly it hits her, a familiar feeling, that she doesn't know what comes next. She doesn't know what will happen to Boomerang if she can't get him through this. She will fight, will give everything she has to protecting him, but what if she loses? He is still there, kneeling in the dark, when Tatsu turns to him minutes later. His soft gaze is already set on her and there's a clarity in his eyes that wasn't there just moments ago.

It lets her know that he's willing to try this her way because he trusts her. He's never trusted anyone else the way he trusts her. That thought, the heavy realization, that he might trust her more than anyone else, ever—it's too much and she can't let herself think about it now, can't let herself dwell on the weight of his admission and what it means for them. So she forces it away and turns to him, gently moving a hand to his forearm and resting it there.

"Trust me." she says again.

He nods slowly, his mouth parted to answer, the words almost out, when he is distracted again. If Boomerang speaks, she doesn't hear it. Tatsu is suddenly distracted too, by the sound of footsteps coming from upstairs, the noise so familiar to her now. Three or four seconds later, the lock on the outside of their door is dragged across and unlocked, followed by the creak of the door swinging open and heavy footsteps running down the stairs toward them.

Tatsu is up on her feet in a heartbeat, jumping swiftly over the bed to reach for Soultaker. By the time that she returns with her sword, moving to stand by Boomerang's side, she discovers that he is also armed. Not with a random objected grabbed at the last minute but with something much more familiar, something that belongs to him and is somehow with him now, miles away from Belle Reve.

In each hand he grips a sleek, shiny boomerang.

She is immediately struck with a curiosity to know how this is possible, if Boomerang crafted the weapons here—but how? Tatsu quickly decides to ask her questions later and turns her gaze up to the stairs, moving to stand in front of the Captain. She waits there and listens to the sound of the footsteps as they descend further down the staircase, until finally a man dressed in a soldier's uniform appears on the very last step

He is unfamiliar to her, but not to Boomerang.

"Reggie? Oh, mate. Bloody hell!" he shrieks, dropping his weapons. "Nearly took yer bloody head off! Shit. Hey. What's with all the nonsense going on outside anyways?"

The light-haired guard, who she now knows as Reggie, smiles at Boomerang for half a second, apparently amused by his reaction despite their current situation. She almost feels surprised to see someone react to him this way, to show him such genuine kindness. She doesn't let herself dwell on it for long and lowers her sword, watching quietly as Boomerang takes a step over to his new friend.

He spares a look back at Tatsu, one that she reads easily. It's as if he's saying with his eyes; ha, told you so. Tatsu ignores the look and exhales a breath, relieved that someone is here for them. Her relief fades the moment that she realizes that Reggie is armed and doesn't look like he's just here to pass on a message.

"We're compromised." he informs them. "Porter's on his way. You two are with me. Time to go."

Tatsu lets out a breath but doesn't move, aware that they will have to go now and leave everything behind. But she can't move, can't leave behind the things she came here with. She needs her clothes, her belongings too, because they are so much more to her than that. Her things, neatly set out on the dresser, are a part of who she is now and she can't leave them behind.

If this leads to a fight, which she is certain that it will because it always does, then she will need her clothes to fight in and her smaller blades for extra protection should they need it. She's not sure how, or why, but Boomerang gets it. He understands with no looks, no words shared between them. He knows what she needs and he's off in a second, ignoring Reggie's order as he picks up his black duffel bag and leaps over the dresser to where all of Tatsu's things are gathered together.

Moving swiftly and with care, he scoops up all of her things (mask, smaller blades, her clothing) and dumps it all into his bag, while ignoring Reggie's calls and yelling back a mostly playful insult of his own. But whatever comes after is cut off by the sound of gunfire pouring into the basement. The glass windows are the first to break, shattered by the bullets fired through them.

Boomerang moves quickly through the chaos and jumps back over the bed to where Tatsu is standing. He grabs her with a tug, not intended to be harsh but protective, and pulls her down to the ground again. He flattens himself against her and uses his body as a shield to protect her, just like he did before but this time it's different.

Bullets rattle through the air around them, ricocheting off walls and broken pieces of furniture. Tatsu doesn't try to move, not this time. She stays right where she is, her body shielded by his, and she clings to him. Tatsu buries her face into Boomerang's chest and clings to him, as the bullets fly into the wall above their heads. They sink further to the ground together, holding each other tightly. When this is over she will protect him, she decides, but for now she lets Boomerang protect her.

It feels like the gunfire stretches on for hours, never coming too close to them, not like the first few shots. More glass shatters, followed by the sounds of shots being fired back from upstairs. So they aren't alone, she realizes, and wishes the thought could comfort her but it doesn't. He does. Tatsu holds him tighter, very much aware of his heavy breaths and the feeling of his arms around her. She buries herself against Boomerang and he holds her closer, shields her completely from the room.

Minutes later when the fire slows and then stops, her ears are still ringing and she can't hear a thing. She doesn't even know that Boomerang is leaning down over her, speaking to her, until she opens her eyes and finds him there. His voice is muted at first, impossible to hear, then gradually it becomes clearer. His voice starts as whisper, slowly becomes louder, and then she can finally hear him telling her that they should go now, insisting that they follow Reggie and—

Tatsu looks up at where the soldier last was and finds him on the stairs. He's been hit, badly. His body is twitching and there's blood spilling from a wound on his chest, though she can't tell where the wound is, not with all that blood. She barely gets a chance to focus on Reggie before she's pulled away, with a harsh tug, to the moment Cooper was shot down and bleeding in front of them.

She remembers the moment too clearly. His blood smeared everywhere, the fear in his voice, his final plea. Tell her. You gotta tell her. Tatsu forces it away and turns back to Boomerang, who is hovering over her and currently unaware that his friend is wounded on the stairs. He's too concerned with making sure that she's okay, that she hasn't been hit. His eyes dart over her frantically, his hands following, to check her over and make sure that she isn't hurt.

Boomerang's gaze follows hers eventually, over to the spot where Reggie is wounded on the stairs, and he freezes. She can only imagine what slips through his head in the next seconds, what pain he must be relieving. If he thinks of Belle Reve, or his life before this one, then he says nothing, doesn't let any of it through. For the first few seconds he doesn't move at all. He just stays there, his body shielding hers, and then they move together.

She makes sure that they stay low, as close to the ground as they can. Tatsu gets to Reggie first, her hands stretching out to find the wound and slow the bleeding. She finds the wound lower than she realized and presses a hand hard against the spot to stop the bleeding. Reggie winces, lets out a cry, but says nothing. His breaths are ragged, his hands shaking as he looks between the two of them.

Tatsu wants to comfort him, offer him kind words, but she can't. For the moment she can only look at Boomerang when he joins them, a knife in his hand, the silver glinting in the dark as he uses it to cut off a piece of fabric from one of his t-shirts. His hands are shaking though, just like Reggie's, and he isn't at all steady as he cuts the fabric away from the shirt and leans in to wrap it around Reggie's wound. But he can't do this, she quickly realizes.

His hands are too shaky, he can't seem to steady them, so Tatsu decides to take over. She moves in suddenly, takes the fabric from Boomerang's hands, and winds it tightly but gently around Reggie's wound. He lets out a cry again but she doesn't let herself hear it. Tatsu stays calm and focused, ignoring the gunfire rattling off the walls and the pain noises coming from the tired soldier.

Tatsu forces away all sounds and distractions and focuses on the task in front of her. The gunfire ceases just moments after she finishes wrapping up Reggie's wound, though her ears are still ringing moments later, the distant sound blurring together with his voice when he finds the strength to speak.

"Go," he insists, between heavy breaths. "Porter's st—still here. Go."

Her first instinct is to stay because he's wounded and he needs their help. But then she sees it, a clear understanding in his eyes, that he knows what they have to do now. He's exhausted and afraid, in so much pain, but he knows what has to be done and he wants them to do it. Reggie knows that they can't wait this out and they can't bring him with them.

There is no other choice, this is something they both understand. Tatsu wishes there were more that she could do and she reaches out, pressing a hand to the soldier's forearm. He won't be alone for long, he will get help, someone will come for him, but it can't be them. Tatsu knows that they have to go now, but Boomerang still sees it differently.

"No way. Not a chance, mate. We're not goin' anywhere." Boomerang's quick to answer. "Look, I'll just—I'll carry you outta here, alright? It's easy, yeah. C'mere, I got ya. Let's get outta here."

George, she thinks, might even say.

If Tatsu says his name, if he hears it, he doesn't turn to look at her. Boomerang simply reaches out for his new friend, a man she hadn't realized he'd bonded so closely with until now. But she sees it now, sees what this means to him. He can't lose someone else, not here, not again. Tatsu wishes she could reassure him, tell him he won't lose anyone else, but it would be a lie and they'd both know it.

She wishes she had time to tell him this isn't his fault, but she thinks that even if there were time he wouldn't believe it. Tatsu decides to try later anyway and she looks back to Boomerang, noticing how he now seems to understand what it is that Reggie wants, what must be done next. He stops trying to help his friend stand and sits by his side.

The two share a quiet moment while Tatsu moves away, staying low as she gathers the bag filled with their things and returns to the stairs. By the time that she joins his side again, Boomerang is ready to go. Whatever quiet words shared between the two men are over now, unheard by her. She doesn't ask, she simply gives Boomerang his duffel bag and watches as he slings it over his chest. She decides now that there is no time to get ready for this, they will have to stay as they are, with Boomerang in his briefs and t-shirt and Tatsu in her baggy black shirt from last night.

The only have each other now and the weapons they have on them. Tatsu watches Boomerang as he takes the shiny weapons from his bag, aiming himself with a boomerang in each hand. He glances back at Reggie one more time then follows Tatsu further up the narrow stairs. When they reach the door they become completely hidden from the windows and gunfire, and for the briefest of moments they are safe here.

It's not much and it won't last because it never does, but for now they are safe and Tatsu feels like she can breathe again. She lets out a sigh and turns to observe the Captain, who moves to stand close to her while he digs around inside of his duffel bag. He quickly finds what he's looking for and pulls it out, revealing a third boomerang almost identical to the others.

Tatsu still wants to know how it's possible that he's armed, how he has any weapons at all when he should have had none, but for now she doesn't ask. She doesn't search around in his bag, despite how curious she is about what else she will find in there. Now isn't the time, she decides, and quickly reaches for her sword again. There isn't much time for anything, no masks or boots, nothing she isn't already wearing. She doesn't mind so much, but there's something about the way that Boomerang looks right now that she gets stuck on.

He seems so exposed, so vulnerable, with such little protection to cover up his already wounded body. It's then that she reacts on instinct, reaching into his bag and digging around for his coat, the one he wore that night in the city. The same one that he wears in her dreams. Tatsu's jaw tightens and she keeps searching until she finds exactly what she's looking for. Her fingers brush against the soft, familiar collar of his fluffy coat and she pulls it from the bag, quickly glances it over, and then stuffs it into his hands.

Wanting, no, needing him to wear it. For him to have more protection, to keep his body safe somehow. Boomerang seems to understand what she wants, and why she wants it, and he doesn't question her. He simply takes the coat, pulls it on, and then readjusts his duffel bag across his chest. Once the jacket is on, he sighs and bends his head down to meet Tatsu's gaze a little more directly.

"Hey, we're gonna be just fine. Alright?" he says, almost smiles. "It's you, after all. Yer a bloody legend, darl. You got this."

Tatsu nods once and says nothing, despite wanting to. What can she say? She has so many fears about this, so many concerns about what is going to happen to him outside of this room. She knows how this goes, has faced this fight many times, but it has never been quite like this before. She breathes in, looks up at Boomerang, and curls her hands around the door handle, and suddenly she can't.

(can't move, can't think, can't let this be it.)

Boomerang offers her a nod, simple and focused, and it lets her know one last time that he believes in this. He believes that he's up to this and she hopes that his determination will be enough to get him through this. Maybe, she hopes, it will help them get through this together. Tatsu wants to tell him this, that if they stick together and fight side by side then they might find a way out of this.

Before she can say a word, he kisses her.

It's over before it begins, really. The smallest kiss, so light, so fleeting. But there isn't time for more, and he understands that. Boomerang takes a slow step back, nods at her once, then fixes his gaze on the door, ready for this. She feels ready now too, as ready as she will ever be to face what is waiting for them on the other side of that door.

Together.

 

**

 

The house is barely recognizable, once organized and now a bloody mess. Her head spins as she struggles to remember the layout of the farmhouse, not that she ever had much of a chance to look at it, to learn its exits, the safe spots to go and the places to avoid. From memory she recalls the kitchen having the most cover and the living room being far too open, too vulnerable, too many windows and not enough places to stay low.

And yet somehow that is right where they end up, taking cover behind a flipped over couch torn apart by bullets. Tatsu crouches down low and stays there, distantly aware of the sounds of gunfire coming from upstairs. Her sword is already wet, slick with t