I keep going back to what happened. What went wrong. How one of my screw-ups finally got someone killed. Just 'cause no one else blames me doesn't mean it wasn't my fault.
Donna and I were picking Lian up for lunch. On our way to the latest in a string of "authentic" Greek restaurants. Ever notice there's no authentic Roman restaurants around? Heh. Yeah. Donna gave me "the look" when I mentioned that to her, too. Gotta hand it to her, she knows the best places for a killer meal.
Uhm--poor choice of words. Sorry. Been doing the whole foot in mouth thing a lot lately.
Donna saw the car way before I did. She was in the crosswalk just steps from Lian before I caught on to what was happening. Lian's a good kid. Always does what I tell her to. And dammit if she didn't stop on a dime when I yelled. Right in the middle of the street.
That's what pisses me off. She did everything I taught her to do. Cross at the crosswalk only. Wait till the light changes. Look both ways. Wasn't her fault that some jackass half a block away--.
Wasn't her fault that Donna was paying attention when I wasn't.
See, the hard thing about working as a team is knowing when to get out of the way. Police. Firefighters. We all work on the same idea. You can't help anyone if you put yourself in danger. That's how it's supposed to be. By the book.
Reality on the street, though, no way you're gonna let one of your own go down. If you're a dad watching his daughter about to become roadkill, sure as hell you're not gonna sit back and go by the book. Adrenaline does that to you. Gets you too pumped up to think straight. Superhero training is supposed to teach you how to deal with that.
Because the irony is, Donna could have made it. She had Lian in her arms. Had already taken a step towards the other side. She had it. Until I ran into the street. It was a stupid move.
I mean, I trust Donna, you know? It wasn't about that at all. It's just--this was Lian. This was my daughter. By the time Donna turned and realized I had put myself in danger, time had run out.
I wonder sometimes if she did it on purpose. That extra oomph as she throws Lian to me that knocks us both clear of the street.
A dull thud. Everything stills. Lian--hushed in the way that only really scared kids can be--looks at me, eyes wide, lower lip trembling. I hug her tight. Whisper Dinne reassurances as I check her for injuries. She seems okay. Carry her back to our car and make sure she's safely buckled in.
There's no sign of Donna.
I push my way through the growing crowd and cross the street again. No skid marks. Sonofabitch didn't even try to brake. Each step brings me closer to the cold truth. Closer to slamming home what my racing heart doesn't want to believe. God, don't let this be real.
I find Donna's glove on the sidewalk. I find her half a block away. Crumpled in the gutter. Even as I reach for her--
--I know. Sometimes life sucker punches you in the gut and just like that, it's over. No kick ass battle to save the planet. No great triumph of good over evil. Just some idiot on a cell phone running a red light. Hit and run.
Now the car's gone. The kid's safe. The hero's dead.