melee - confusion; turmoil; jumble • obfuscate - to make obscure, unclear

How many days had it been since the shift?

No, not the last one.

No, not even the first one he had gone through.

No, the one which had seen his experience with them irrevocably changed for better or for worse or because the powers that be might have thought he would have done more good as a former juvenile delinquent who became a hero after picking up the mantle of another --

-- wait, wasn't that the same story?

For all their differences, for everything that set them apart from each other even in a world where, had circumstances not been what they were over the expanse of time and space, they could have even crossed paths, Connor Hawke and Terry McGinnis had been surprising similar when Connor had put together what he knew about the second Green Arrow and what he was finding out about the second Batman... which if he got down to brass tacks might have been the third, fourth or fifth had any one of the children Bruce Wayne had taken under his wings took on the same mantle; but they were individual, they had their own mantles and their own identities away from the Caped Crusader, and their version of Batman hadn't been the same old man who could make it off of the streets without being jumped by a bunch of Jokerz never mind throw on experimental prototype suits to continue to patrol the streets of a much different Gotham than he had been accustom to in his youth.

But those similarities had been hard to reach when the link had been broken, and Connor found himself facing a jumble of memories he didn't know; fighting with an entity unknown who, unlike the archer he had been accustom to, who had been tranquil, peaceful even in moments of stress, held a wild and at times reckless streak which didn't so readily align with a formative life embracing discipline and level-headedness; and trying to navigate a version of San Francisco where his friends were unfamiliar if not entirely unknown to the super hero who had taken the place of the Amber Archer, or, if they had been recognized, it wasn't in the same capacity as Connor Hawke might have remembered them. Those who were once teammates, if they were even around anymore, weren't beyond what paths they crossed in the super hero sphere of existence. Those who were recognizable as a common place in his life were now complete strangers or dead according to records A.L.F.R.E.D. might have had access to. What few remained were a new brand of family and even then, those wards of Bruce Wayne were far younger than he came to recognize as the Batman from the future.

It had been confusing, convoluted, especially as he attempted to maintain a once-keenly known level head against a panicking Barbara Gordon, unable to control the tactile telekinesis she had found at her fingertips to at times disastrous effect, and the anger of an Amazon who, emboldened by a darker side of her strength, only wanted to find her missing sister; and not only that, there had been nothing to show for his place in the super powered zeitgeist except for mental turmoil.

An identity crisis -- yeah, that is what it had felt like, forgotten as soon as it had time to stew and simmer in his brain in lieu of weeks of relative normalcy: He had gone back to work; he had focused on training those who paid a healthy amount of dough a for classes; he had a few visits with family, ignoring the troubles there were to be found within in his own stubbornness towards a father figure he didn't trust; and all at once, the world had turned upside down - not because of super heroes, no because of their villain counterparts, not because there was something in the cosmic power of the universe that had shifted the course of worldly events, but because of people, of carelessness and disease, and all at once, nothing had been right.

But when was anything right?

Nothing was right.
All things good took some sacrifice.

In the quiet of the night when there was no distraction from the thoughts in his head and no consideration given to the meditative practices he had come to rely on not only throughout life, through the stressful moments which hit anyone and everyone at some point or another, but the aftermath of the shifts which afflicted only a select number of residents of San Francisco and the surrounding area, it was all he could tell himself in the sea of segmented memories and jumbled timeline of events.

The memories of Terry McGinnis had been difficult to wrap his head around - not in light of his own, those are sturdy and stable like a steel trap in his mind, but those he had to reconcile from the Amber Archer, a bevy of information read and researched and very well lived as he dealt with the ebb and flow of one existence to another that was seemingly scrapped as soon as Terry had stepped into frame; and then it had happened, that moment when the incompatibility of beings, of one life and another, stopped resembling a car crash and led to a fluid convergence, like osmosis. One flowed into another and they stopped being separate beings, thoughts less conflicting and more in tune with each other in a melded hum of peace that, all things considered, wasn't peaceful to begin with.

Not when he was lying on a cold, hard floor, bones broken from not one, but two attempts to thwart the work of Roulette, escape the Clock King and his Terror Titans, and attempting to help his cohorts however he could when, as powerless as he was in such a moment, there wasn't anything more than shredded lengths of hope that they wouldn't be efforts made in vain. Even in the still of a peaceful night, he found himself stretching his hands, clenching and unclenching his fingers as if preparing for the possibility they would find themselves in such a position again.

Again -- because it had happened twice.

This was a different bleed, the memories he found himself embracing that aligned not with going toe-to-toe with an Amazon and his own kin, one of his fellow teammates, before ripping off someone's head to use as a weapon while his healing came back to him. In fact, he was almost sure he had fought Deadpool in the playback his head seemed to be swamped in, two combatants, trained in martial arts, exchanging blows that Connor barely felt until he was returned into holding with a number of faces that didn't line up the cells in Battleworld; and that was where he had felt it.

The pain.

The broken bones.

The hits laid by She-Hulk and further worsened by warwolves, Roulette once more at the helm of a situation that had only convoluted his life to follow as the seeds of revenge held deep, blooming once more in his chest despite the very conscious knowledge that he wasn't Connor Hawke, and even when he had been, those were memories not his own, not as he had forgotten them in the downturn of the shifts. There had never been peace found after that - not since the moment seemed to disappear...

... or perhaps Connor Hawke had.

Sitting up, careful not to disturb the dog that had decided to lay on the pillow next to his head, commandeered for the night as it was every other night, he ran his hands over his head in an attempt to massage out some of the tension that rested there. His palms pressed into his eyes, rubbing against the pain that seemed to radiate from behind them, casting a darkness against those internal functions in hopes it would simmer whatever strange perception was simmering in his brain; because it didn't make sense.

None of it made sense.


"But that's not possible, is it?"