Maria’s shoulder connects with Sharon’s stomach just hard enough to make mended ribs rattle with a twang of old pain, and Sharon’s so busy breathing through it that Maria manages to sweep one of Sharon’s legs out from underneath her – how the hell –
“I’d be – ” a huff through gritted teeth – “I’d be – god damn disappointed if you did, Director – ”
Sharon would laugh if she had the presence of mind for anything but reacting, her thoughts running a mile a minute to retaliate, flip the script to her favor, think –
(She’d been tasked with grappling training, in Afghanistan, given the cell’s newest recruits and told to break them, make them stronger, hollow them out until they were nothing but loyal and lethal and for a split-second Sharon catches herself calculating how quickly she could swing a knee up to connect with Maria’s face on their way down again.)
Instead, Sharon twists her torso sharply, playing off their imbalance to push Maria off her axis, hopefully letting her take the brunt of the fall again. Her left palm snaps out shove at Maria’s right shoulder with the force of the movement, all her weight behind it, and the harsh breath she pushes out through her nose stings in a way she may very well be imagining.
A huff, strained laughter slipping through her teeth. She’d be damn disappointed in herself if she ever cut anyone any kind of slack they didn’t deserve. Sharon’s willingness to compete acts as oxygen to a spark and she finds herself pleased with the reaction as a whole ( had she expected anything less, honestly? ).
Momentum is surging forward, the contact with Sharon’s stomach incites a fleeting pleased feeling which is gone as soon as she runs out of slack. Hubris is snapped, sending her careening forward, spinning on the spot to position her back to take the fall. Her weaker hand shoots out, securing a fistful of shirt, her off-leg jabbing out in an attempt to tangle with one of Sharon’s- bring them both down together.
It’s a split-second decision, rapid fire thoughts occupying the forefront of her mind as directives only ( the incessant nature of the scrap has reduced the Director to a more instinctual mindset- no real room for critical thought beyond survival and, of course, winning ), but it’s the best course of action by the factor of elimination. Falling and having to get back up again, or worse- parry an attack from the mat, immediately puts her at an obvious disadvantage. But bringing Carter to her level evens out the playing field, if only a little bit.
The second time she hits the mat she can feel that deep, resonating ache in her spine. She’s going to be sore tomorrow, but that thought is decidedly out of reach as she brings her knee upward, using it to apply pressure to get Sharon off of her and ideally take back the upper hand.
( What’s stopping her from using knowledge of Carter’s
medical records to her advantage and— )
Hands grapple for her opponent’s wrists, or wrist, as it seems, using the muscles in her left shoulder to move up off the mat, intent on pinning Sharon and ending this while she’s ahead.