The explosion was loud… It made my ears ring. My body was sent tumbling like a rag doll, limbs flopping all over the place. It was out of the corner of my eye I spotted Shego. The other woman was sent flying further, as she'd been closer to the blast.
I watched with muted horror as her body skipped right over the edge of the building. It felt like my heart had stopped.
There are moments in a hero's life when things make you question if you're really a true hero. You save lives, you do the right thing, and you say the proper lines… But what does that really mean? How easy is it to pretend?
I know I haven't been the best hero. There are times I've tread a line I wasn't supposed to. I didn't cross it, but I certainly liked to dance on it, letting my mind play little curious wonders of "life on the other side". It was fun to tease, to taunt. It was fun to pretend. But I always played the proper role when it came to it. But… that didn't feel like it was what was worthy of a true hero.
I found myself kicking off the building ledge, slapping all of my battered limbs together so that I cut through the air faster. I watched the falling green form with narrowed eyes against the buffeting winds. I had only been seconds after her, but those seconds made all the difference in the world.
A lot of people called me a hero. I don't really remember calling myself one. I was prideful of my deeds, but calling myself a hero never really felt right. Generally, I preferred vigilante. It seemed to fit better, as I wasn't someone with super powers or a mask.
I was drawing closer to Shego, my world had narrowed. There was no time. There was no noise. All I could comprehend was the vision of a black and green form falling before me. I didn't have time to wonder if this would work. I didn't have time to care what the consequences of my actions were.
A row of windows rushed past me like railroad tracks. I pulled out my grappling gun and aimed.
Not many people realized I was starting to get bored with hero work. They were always so eager to call, but I was at a point in my life that saving the day wasn't all I wanted to do. I had other interests, other desires. Saving the day would only get you so far in life. I didn't want it to be the only thing I was good at. Once I started college, missions were no longer the priority.
The grappling gun lurched in my hands, claws shooting past Shego's form and smashing into one of the glass windows. It made a loud noise, and a nice long crack.
Shego was looking at me like I'd lost my mind.
I'm sure everyone has ideas of grandeur that dance around in their thoughts, filling their chest with courage and pumping energy into their veins. People always imagine themselves saving the day, doing something miraculous…
I don't think they realized any better than I did that it's all just a mirage. The real thing is just… something else entirely.
I was close enough. I reached for her. I'd already tossed my useless grapple away from me after missing. I knew she thought we were both goners; I could read it in her vibrant green eyes. However, my own determination gave her hope, so her hand reached up to grab mine.
It all happened so fast… I have no idea how I managed to pull it off. I want to say it was all skill, but that would be near impossible. I'll cut my pride and call it luck.
In that moment you're actually challenged… something changes. It's like a light clicks on and you are an entire Being of focus. Time, though you feel threatened by its limit, slows. Your thoughts? They speed up, calculating and planning on such an instinctual level that it makes you feel more than human. Everything else? Well, everything, even though in sharp focus, fades into inconsequential distractions. You only see what needs to be done.
And then you do it.
I spun us, gaining enough momentum it added more force to my following kick and release.
Blood flew from black lips, green eyes wide with shock. I couldn't help the victorious smile that crossed my face, my aim true.
Shego's back connected with the glass and it shattered. Her body disappeared inside.
There's no one there to cheer for you. There isn't anyone telling you "well done". It's just you… and the silence. No one has to tell you that you did the right thing. You know what you did was the thing that makes true heroes. Pride wants to butt in, but your heart fights it into submission, filling your entire body with a warm happy glow. It's the most alive you've ever felt.
The world imploded with a flash of colors and a scream of metal. Pain was overwhelming and numbing. My eyes were still open. The sky looked black… the rest of the world shades of gray.
There was a slight dead ringing tone in my ear. It was faint, hardly distracting for more than a drawn out second before everything went silent.
I wondered if I would see grand-pappy again.
It's something that only happens once in a lifetime. Truly… There is no other way for such a thing to occur. You can't ever give everything more than once. It's the last call, the final line. It's the one chance you have to prove to everyone… but mostly yourself… that you were a true hero.
There's a glint of color…of… green. My eyes focused on it because it was the only color. A pair of familiar green eyes was looking at me. Her black lips were moving, but the sound of her voice eluded me. She looked like shit.
The world was getting darker around the edges. My hand was impossible to move, but a trembling finger managed to touch her wrist. A flicker of hope dashed across her eyes.
I didn't have breath in my lungs to tell her I was going away.
Her hand touched my cheek…
That is your single moment of triumph; your single vindicated act marking you for what you'd always secretly wished was true but had no other way to prove.
It fills you. It makes all the pain go away.
There were a million things I never got to say. I hoped that the Dweebs knew what to do with my secrets. It was all that I had left to share.
It didn't matter though. Everything was nearly black now. I couldn't even see her eyes anymore.
As the warm touch of her tears rolled across my skin… I smiled for her.
She… had lived.