Lights flashed around her as she tried to get a sense of where she was. She felt woozy and she needed the room to stop spinning so that she could get her bearings. When her head finally settled down, Charlie found herself standing in the middle of a crowded room, music booming so loudly from the overhead speakers that she could feel each beat in her chest. She felt bodies bumping into her without any regard, as if this was normal, as if this was the expectation for wherever it was that they were. She noticed that her left hand felt colder than the rest of her body and looked over, only to see that she was holding a beer in her hand, or so she assumed.
"Oh no," Charlie gasped. "Oh no, oh no, oh no." She looked at her surroundings once again and started to panic as she realized that she was at some sort of bar or nightclub. People were dancing and singing along to the too loud music, and they all seemed to be having a good time. Charlie looked down at herself and saw that she was...wearing a dress? Charlie Gage-Radcliffe didn't wear dresses!
Disturbed and baffled beyond words, Charlie started to weave her way through the crowd, putting her arms (and beer) up as a sort of makeshift barricade between her and the rest of the world. As she navigated her way through the moving wall of people, she came to the broad conclusion that she absolutely did not belong here. She stumbled after a few steps as she tried to figure out how to walk in heels, but it gave her enough time to spot a small opening in the crowd near to the bar. She fought her way over against the club's inertia and breathed a sigh of relief once she got to her newfound safety spot, even if it was only temporary. The air conditioner was blasting but she felt hot and sticky and even felt beads of sweat trickling down her neck. It was unpleasant, to say the least, and she wanted nothing more than to get out of there, and fast.
She worked her way through another group of bar goers and hoped that it was so crowded in there that she could just disappear without anyone suspecting anything. She held her breath and tried her hardest, but...she didn't go anywhere. With a furrowed brow, Charlie tried again, and then again, each time with increased frustration at just how stuck she felt in that moment. She fought her way through more people, this time with more liberal use of her elbows and with less regard for the contents of her pint glass. She sucked in her breath when she saw a familiar face. Babs. Finally, someone who wasn't a stranger. A clumsy drink in her near vicinity was gesticulating wildly as he told a story to a friend of his and splashed his drink everywhere, hitting Charlie's shoes and reminding her of where she was again. Oh, no, she thought yet again. "Babs is going to kill me if she sees me here!" she mumbled under her breath. No sooner than the words were said, Babs turned around and got a perfect view of Charlie, red faced and uncomfortable, very much in a bar, and very much not twenty-one. She glanced at the drink in her hand. "I'm holding it for someone else!" she shouted over the music, unsure of whether her friend could actually hear her.
That was it. The last straw. She had to get out of there, whether it was by teleporting or just on foot, the old fashioned way. Charlie set her drink down on a nearby surface and did her best to make a beeline for the door, not hesitating to elbow people out of the way if she had to again, and this time without any apologies. The warm, humid night air felt so welcoming compared to where she had just been. But...where was she? She looked at her surroundings and tried to find any familiar landmarks. Nothing. She was in a city, she could at least figure out that much. But this wasn't Metropolis. This wasn't Gotham. This wasn't even Platinum Flats.
Wiping the sweat from her brow and off the back of her neck with her right hand, Charlie began to walk. She was headed towards the brightest lights, wherever they were would be the most populous areas at this time of night. She heard a jingle whenever she walked, and she ran her fingertips over her dress, trying to find the source. Was she wearing a bell of some kind? Was it actually somebody behind her? Her finger got caught in the fabric suddenly, revealing that somehow, the dress had pockets. In them she found a set of keys, a phone, and a small wallet. The time on the phone read 12:47 AM and Charlie had to breathe a sigh of relief. It wasn't that light, and it was certainly too early for the witching hour to begin. She did her best to make sure that she had her wits about her, which was hard with the alcohol swirling in her system from earlier in the night. "Focus, Charlie," she scolded herself. "Focus. Get somewhere safe." A few cabs drove by and she flagged one down, climbing into the backseat once it had reached her curbside.
Charlie breathed a sigh of relief as she sank into the car's bench, and then grimaced at the feeling of bare legs sticking to the car's interior. "Where to?" a gruff voice from the front seat asked.
"Huh? Oh," she answered, sort of. "Uh...can we just drive around for a while? Nothing crazy. I just gotta think," she sputtered, as if that were a reasonable explanation.
She heard the cab driver sigh and mumble something that wasn't audible to her. She leaned back into the seat and watched the city go by. More blurry lights, more blurry people, more music blaring as they passed other bars and clubs in the area. She tried to take it all in and studied her surroundings closely in hopes of figuring out where she was. It didn't take long for her to realize that she was in Boston. But why?
She stuck her head out of the window and watched in awe as the city went by, wide-eyed and eager to explore at a more appropriate time. But first, she had to figure out what she was doing here. There were other faces that she had recognized, some better than others, but her relationships to those individuals were of varying degrees that could only be described by different...colors? Certainly that was new.
Charlie remembered the phone in her pocket. She fished it out and clicked on the home button, hoping that it would reveal more clues as to why she was here, why she had just seen Babs at wherever they had been, why...Killer Frost and The Flash and Green Lantern had all been there, too. Maybe there were others that she just hadn't recognized, though that seemed impossible given all of the time she had spent studying Oracle's database of heroes.
"Girly, you've gotta go home sometime. Gimme an address," the gruff voice demanded.
Charlie froze. She knew a few people here, apparently, but not well enough for any of them to expect a surprise visitor at nearly one thirty in the morning. "Um," she stalled, trying to think of what to say. A quiet voice told her 7 Acorn Street, and though she wasn't sure who the voice belonged to or where it came from, other than in her head, she echoed it to the driver. "7 Acorn Street," she repeated. The address meant nothing to her, but maybe it was meant to be more.
She felt slightly more at ease once they arrived at the address. Charlie grabbed a credit card from the wallet she had found and swiped it through the machine, saying silent apologies to the owner of the account the card was attached to. "Nora E Saylor," it read. She left a generous tip and climbed out of the cab. She fumbled with her keys but was able to make it into the home without much trouble. Now she just had to make it to her room, or to Nora's room, without being noticed. She just needed to think.
"Go up the stairs and turn right," the voice instructed. Charlie noticed that the voice sounded more tired this time than it did earlier in the cab, yet still stern. She did as she was told and immediately felt a thousand times more comfortable when she stepped into what she assumed was "her" room. That is, until she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. No red hair, no freckles, just coiffed blonde hair and a clear, fair complexion. She had a friendly face and was all done up for the evening. Just in this glimpse, Charlie knew that this woman was everything that she was not.
She flopped onto the bed and kicked off her shoes in the process, much to the chagrin of the real inhabitant of this body, or whatever it was. She took off her bracelets and let down her hair, getting up eventually to put things on the dresser or the vanity where they seemed like they might belong. Charlie glanced at the time again. She found a pair of pajamas and went through her bedtime routine, though she eyed the various face washes and lotions and toners that sat on the bathroom counter. Was she supposed to use all of those? Finally, she found a pack of makeup remover wipes and ran a wipe all over her face to try to remove the concealer and foundation and sweat that had all co-mingled together over the past few hours. This small act seemed so soothing when nothing else seemed to make any sort of sense right now.
She padded back into the bedroom from the bathroom and grabbed a nearby towel, wiping her face of the excess water. She had to come up with a plan. She still wasn't sure who she was, and this Nora person did not seem to have any idea who she was or what was going on right now, either. Charlie knew one thing, though. If Babs was there, then she would have answers. If other members of the Justice League were there, then they might have answers, too. She had no idea how to reach any of them, but at least she had a start.
Tomorrow, she would find Babs. There had to be a way, and Nora's reaction to that thought revealed that there was an easier way to do this than she would have thought. She thumbed through Nora's phone and found her in her text messages, but under the name Bea. Charlie furrowed her brow, not understanding any of this Bea business. She was Barbara Gordon, Oracle, Bird of Prey. She thought about her friend a little bit harder and realized that she saw two colors, one pink and one blue. She thought back to the others she had seen earlier that night and experienced something similar. These colors were new to her, but Nora did not seem too perturbed by this revelation. Nora thought of other people in her Boston life in an attempt to help Charlie. Some of these faces remained blue and others had with a new pink tint to them, one that seemed to be linked to Charlie. Nora had never bothered to learn too much about her synesthesia; it was just a part of her daily life and nothing more. Her synesthesia was number-form, however, and this seemed like whole new ball game to her. Nevertheless, she brushed the thought aside. This wasn't going to help Charlie, and it seemed like Charlie, whoever she was, was her only hope in figuring out why she suddenly seemed to have two people inhabiting one body: her body.