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A week before Danny had come back (he was back, he was alive), Sam had gotten a letter.

Well, sort of. It had been in 202. Tacked to a map. The map of Earth. Right where her name was. She'd gone in to find something to eat and then had almost dropped the canned tomatoes, because there had been a worn piece of paper, and it had had her name on it.

And now he was back. And he was exhausted and sad and so broken that she could barely stand it, because that wasn't the Danny she knew. The Danny she knew could make lame jokes about horrible things like death and still face it and come back all the better. The Danny she knew smiled and ate like a teenage boy and thought like a teenage boy. Now he was different, and so sad.

For the fifty millionth time, she opened the worn and torn piece of paper on the roof, beginning to read, tracing the letters absently.


I don't know how much of this will get to you--some of it might wind up blacked out or something. Heck, I don't know if this will even get to you at all.

Obviously, since I'm not back from that patrol yet, I got captured. The first thing I want you to know is that I'm okay. As much as I can be. The one that caught me isn't as violent as he could be. He's a scientist. I haven't really been hurt. Not much--the worst that's happened is I'm even less fond of needles than Tucker is.

Okay, bad joke.

Anyway, that's the good news. The bad news is that I don't know if I'm ever getting out of here. Obviously I'm going to try, but he found a pretty good way to keep me trapped and he isn't looking to let me go anytime soon.

I don't want to be rescued either. I was stupid. I tried going out alone. I thought maybe I could make up for my mistakes. Sometimes all anybody needs is a second chance. That's what I figured.

I didn't figure on fighting something worse than what's back home. I thought I could go it alone, and now I'm paying for it.

But no one else should have to pay for my mistakes. Not anymore. If anyone's looking for me, tell them to stop. If no one's looking for me, it should stay that way.

I really screwed up, Sam. Not just in getting caught. Before. I tried to help people and when I failed, I gave up. Because I was too afraid to fail again. I gave up because I lost faith in myself, because I was a coward, because I wanted the quick fix, wanted to feel happy and blank and stupid again for little moments rather than doing what was right and trying to fix myself so I could help everyone else.

Heroes are supposed to fight whatever they have to, to protect the innocent. Even if they're fighting their own propensity for teen angst.

I didn't do that. People suffered, people died, including someone I considered a friend, someone who had less power than me and did more to help other people, who held out more hope than I did. She died in that place, and the really stupid part is: I could've saved her.

I could've saved her.

She reminded me a lot of you. If you'd been in there, I know you wouldn't have taken it sitting down. You've never taken anything sitting down, especially when helping me fight and it's something that's always kept me going. You--and Tucker--were what helped me win all those fights, you were what helped me save the day in the end. It wasn't anything in me--it was something in the two of you that kept me going.

That and my family.
The ink was blotchy here, as if water droplets had fallen onto the paper and soaked into the ink.

If you ever get back home, please tell them everything. Tell them I'm sorry I never told them, but that I was scared. Tell them about the Reality Gauntlet and how I erased their memories and how it wasn't because I thought they wouldn't accept me--I knew they would then--but because I didn't want them to worry about me.

Tell them I screwed up, but I remembered everything they taught me, and tried to make it right again. I just wanted them to be proud of me. I wanted to be the kind of person they wanted me to grow up to be.

Tell them, y'know, that I love them and stuff. Jazz, too. Jazz, especially, for keeping my secrets and making me feel like I was special instead of a freak.

(Oh, and tell Jazz she can have most of my stuff, but that you and Tucker get first dibs on my cds).

Tell Tucker he was the best buddy a guy could ask for, and that I totally forgive him for killing my hamster.

And I guess that's it. I don't really have much more to say and I don't know how much I can get away with, or if I can even get this to where you are.

As for you, I sort of know about...stuff. I mean, I'm not completely oblivious. Especially after the thing with Gregor, I started thinking, and when I was in the Farm I dreamt about you, apparently, according to the guys I was in there with. I talked a lot in my sleep.

I don't know what it is we are, Sam. But you're one of my best friends, and I wish, more than anything that we could've had the chance to find out what could've happened.
More blurring.

Of course, maybe I'm just seeing things that aren't there. I don't know.

But I wish I could see you again, just one last time. Then again, I wish I could see a lot of things again one last time.

I hope I can get out of here before he justs gets fed up and kills me. I wish I could've been one of those heroes that can save everyone all at the same time, including themselves and maybe I'll become one of those and you'll see me again, but if not:

I'm sorry I couldn't stay the kind of hero you and Tuck believed I was, the kind of hero you believed in.

The kind
I believed in.

That's all I have to say, I guess.


It hurt.

It hurt and she needed to talk to him and she knew it.

She walked slowly into their room with the paper tucked carefully away. "Danny?"

Date: 2006-08-20 06:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Yeah and I bet there's a bridge somewhere you want to sell me.

...Over water that's actually clean, next to a food warehouse," said Danny. "Not buying it."

Date: 2006-08-20 06:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"I want to survive. Harth had a hold over me then. You know it." Wesker sighs. "And I could have killed you before you saw me. But you can't trust anyone's better nature, can you?"

Date: 2006-08-20 06:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It was possible that there was the slighest green spark flaring from Danny's eyes, as he pressed his lips together and said, his voice flat:

"Not anymore."

Date: 2006-08-20 06:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Would you care to rely on my worse nature, then?" That, Wesker has in stock. "Perhaps I made contingency plans. Perhaps I've planted bombs in the apartments to keep people busy when I made my getaway. Or perhaps after I planted the note, I contrived innocent reasons to remain until I saw who was interested in reading it. Perhaps, just perhaps, both of those are true."

Date: 2006-08-20 06:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Once upon a time, Danny would have just done the whole hero thing and just gone "GASP!" ad gone pale with worry.

He...didn't quite have the patience for that anymore.

Those eyes flared a brighter green and very suddenly they were in Wesker's face as Danny shot forward, grabbed him by the throatr and slammed him into the wall.

...Only to find Wesker's hand around his own throat.

"For your sake, you'd better be lying," he croaked, regardless.

Crud. Crud. Mexican standoff.

Date: 2006-08-20 06:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Perhaps I am." How undead is he? His hand is burning, through the glove, as though he's ill with something. "Perhaps I'm the worst creature you could run across: a fiend, a murderer, a traitor.

"Perhaps I was cursed by Harth, caught before I was able to convince another vampire he didn't see coming to give me another option.

"She's a kind girl, isn't she? But she's so aware she's delicate. Have you seen the way she sleeps? Curled up, as though when she's at her most helpless she fears being hurt? Have you seen the way she kicks the blanket off? Or perhaps you've just been with her while she's picking out green tea, or watched her pull the laces loose all the way down to her toes when she's putting on her boots."

His grip isn't loosening in the slightest.

"Attacking her means I become a target, but if I'm such a monster as all that, would I hesitate to drag anyone down with me?"

Date: 2006-08-20 06:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Or I could--urk--just kill you right here," Danny said furiously, a bitter cold in the pit of his stomach. "You're not going to hurt her. I won't let you."

Date: 2006-08-20 06:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Could you?" Wesker's head tilts, and he studies Danny clinically. "I don't believe you could. Not before I finished you off. Of course, while you've been off, perhaps of your own volition, with Harth? I've been here proving my worth. Perhaps you can end my life. Perhaps you're killing an innocent man.

"But--what happens if you try to kill me, and I get you first? Did you even see me move before I grabbed your throat? I can claim self-defense. Or they find our bodies, and no sign of why either of us attacked. Do you want to be remembered as a murderer, Danny?"

Date: 2006-08-20 07:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
("It doesn't matter if I go back in time or not. I'll never turn into you! Never!"

"Of course you will. It's only a matter of time.")

("You could have prevented a lot of loss of life, and you blew it. Playing at the big boy games. Addiction and teenage angst. Leave that to the grown ups, okay? Especially the ones without superpowers. We'll screw it up a little less.")

("Your time is up, Danny. It's been up for ten years.")

"Do you want to be remembered as a murderer, Danny?"

There was a stricken look on his face, as if he'd been shocked into a very bad place inside his own head. His grip started to loosen.

("Snivelling like pissant. You want to blame someone? You just gotta look in hte mirror. You wanted an excuse. You wanted a REASON to be so damn lame. Well, congratulations. You got it, kid!")

He couldn't beat him, he couldn't make sure she was safe enough to tell someone in charge. He had to make sure she was safe, had to make sure he couldn;t hurt her first, because he couldn't...he couldn't take that risk, he just couldn't.

Danny was running out of things to anchor him, to keep him from slipping...

("No, I can tell you're not sweet. But you aren't wicked, either. You're a little boy yet, not certain of what he wants to be when he grows up. You could be anything. Doctor, lawyer, banker, thief, sailor, soldier...

"Bringer of grief.")

His hand slipped away.

Date: 2006-08-20 07:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wesker's grip loosens, almost to the point of gentleness.

"I'm going to be outside. Especially if I lose the bargain I've made for my freedom. I'm not the enemy of the apartments, Danny. I've done good work here. I've saved lives."

Which you haven't, Danny, but let's not mention that or anything.

"But if you're ever going to be the one to give me a whole new enemy?" His expression goes cold, his voice merciless. "I don't have to be in the apartments to reach anyone."

His hand comes up a little further, bringing Danny onto his toes, and then just opens. He sidesteps, and then walks away.

Date: 2006-08-20 07:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Danny crumpled against the wall, shaking and curling in around himself, his hands reaching up to tangle themselves in his hair, and he tugged, jerk his hands hard, pulling steadily, as Wesker's footsteps echoed up the stairwell, fainter and fainter.

Tell and she dies, tell and she dies, tell and she dies...

No. No, I should go and tell, he's probably bluffing, probably...if they stop him, he can't hurt her, and he's going to hurt someone. You're a superhero, you have to stop him!

But Harth, they tried to stop him and couldn't, and he'd gotten in and hurt people right under their noses. Gert's dinosaur was dead, Danny had eaten it. And he couldn't bear the thought of that limp thing Harth dragged to the dogs being...

He was going to hurl.

Don't hurl, don't hurl, don't hurl.

I can't risk it, can't risk it, can't tell, can't tell, can't tell, can't tell...

I'm not a hero anymore. I'm not. I can't protect her. I'm not a hero anymore.

He kept tugging at his hair, trying to let the pain help keep the whole world from spilling into him, from seeping under his skin.


Danny was perfectly calm when he walked back into Sam's room later.

"Told Zuko. Apparently Wesker's spying for our side, but they're keeping it quiet in case one of Harth's spies is still here. They don't want to blow his cover. Obviously we're not supposed to tell anyone."

Date: 2006-08-21 01:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"It's times like this that I'd give my left leg for a nasty burger," Danny said somewhat wryly.

Or even his mom's mutant turkey dinners.

Taking the bowl and fork, he quietly, took his seat again on the loveseat in the window.

"Of course, at least it's better than what we got in--"

He cut himself off, suddenly, preferring not to involve her in those memories and started eating.

Date: 2006-08-21 02:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"If there is any meat, you should eat it. I know you don't like it, but you're going to need protein and you have to take whatever you can get here," Danny said, chewing away, gaze still out the window.

Date: 2006-08-21 02:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That made the corner of Danny's mouth tweak up just a little.

"You haven't changed a bit."

Date: 2006-08-21 03:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Unfortunately, right after that, he went quiet again, concentrating on his food.

Date: 2006-08-21 03:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Whoa whoa whoa, Sam," he said, putting his plate down and standing up to stop her, a hand on her arm near the crook of her elbow, hesistant, as if he wasn't sure he should touch her.

He wasn't used to her losing her cool like this.

"It's okay, Sam. You're right, I didn't want anybody to risk it, not when it was my fault for getting caught, just...just calm down. None of it was your fault--you don't have anything to say sorry for."

Date: 2006-08-21 04:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Danny sat down next to her.

"Sam, if you had tried, you'd be dead."

That was the matter-of-fact truth of it.

Hesitantly, he reached out and took her hand in his own.

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Samantha "Sam" Manson

October 2006

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