What is wrong with me?

The night at Vine and Tujunga was the first time she asked herself that question. She held herself together just fine through the horror of the attack, the panic of the chase, the shock of the disappearance, the humiliation of looking like a fool in front of a crowd of officers, and the devastation of losing her one chance to prove herself and learning her dream was lost for good, that all those years of training and study and practice and hard work had been wasted. She'd managed to stay strong through all of it, even though by the time she was on the verge of losing her badge, she was too worn down to fight anymore, too overwhelmed to stand up for herself.

It didn't start until after Nick stood up for her, gave her a ray of hope, and assured her at least one mammal (however unlikely) was on her side. It was then that her heart started pounding too hard for her to think clearly enough to speak or argue anymore. It was beating so fast, she gave into the urge to cross her arms and clasp her hands over her heart as if trying to hold it back from bursting out of her chest. What was this? Fear? Why? Was she that afraid? Had Manchas or Bogo scared her that much? She hadn't thought so at the time. But what else could it be? She scolded herself for being such a baby and wondered...

What is wrong with me?

Why did she fall apart like that after the press conference? She didn't have time to process the implications of what she'd said or what it would lead to or how wrong or right she'd been. She'd spoken what she honestly believed, and that hadn't changed in the minute she was off-camera, no matter how angry it made Nick. So why did she suddenly feel like her whole world had collapsed? Why did she run after him, almost in tears, her voice choked by labored breaths of profound grief, desperately searching through the swarm of reporters for something she'd lost?

This time, it felt like her heart had stopped. Why? Was it guilt? No – she didn't believe she'd been wrong or retract what she'd just said or try to fix anything. She didn't think anything needed fixing. Then why was she so sorry she'd hurt him? She should get over it. It was nothing – she'd apologize, and they'd make up tomorrow. Then again, if he insisted on being so irrational, if he took such a dangerously biased view of the danger they were dealing with, maybe she was better off without him... So why did him leaving hurt so badly? How could she let losing a friend get to her this much? How could she be so weak?

What is wrong with me?

Quitting was not like her. Once her eyes were opened to what she'd done, she should have tried to clean up the mess she'd made. It was all her fault, but the heroic thing to do would be to stay and help fix things, not run away and let the innocent suffer because of her ignorance and pride. She never even tried to make amends for what she'd done. She didn't even consider making up for her mistakes by trying to fix things. Instead, she just gave up. Left the problem to others when it was her responsibility.

She just couldn't find the energy to go on. That furious desire to work and fight and persevere that she'd been cursed with all her life was gone. She didn't want to try to make things better; she just wanted to be alone. She really was a coward – she must have been, when it took so little to drive her to despair. Only a coward would give up so easily – apparently, a little guilt was all it took to defeat her. She'd never felt so low and listless, so beyond the possibility of hope. Before this, adversity always made her want to try harder. What was different now? Why did she give into despair so quickly this time? What made her so depressed?

What is wrong with me?

"You are not fine, your ears are droopy." She was entitled to feel down after everything she now knew she'd done, but her mother, at least, thought there was more to it. Her depression was of the passive, quiet, lazy, spiritless variety, that of someone with no energy or desire to find any, not the aggressive, loud, bitter, raging, hostile contempt for everyone in the world you'd find in someone ravaged by guilt and self-loathing. There hadn't been so much as one outburst where, say, she'd blamed her parents for ruining her life with their lessons about avoiding dangerous foxes. No, she wasn't angry at anyone anymore, just so full of sorrow that there was no room to feel anything else.

She was so pathetic, to let one failure get to her so much. She'd been a fool to think she could escape it here. Even 211 miles away, the memory of her mistake weighed so heavy on her mind, she could do nothing but vegetate in front of the produce stand all day, her head hanging, her vacant eyes down, her voice barely a whisper. Was her guilt really the only thing that drove her to this state... or was it something more? But what?

What is wrong with me?

It didn't hit her until that day under the bridge. The day she finally broke down. She knew she was losing any respect he'd ever had for her, breaking his cardinal rule by letting him see how much pain she was in, but she must have lost all his respect long ago, so why hold back? Choking on her own sobs, gasping for breath, she poured her heart out, letting all the grief and shame and loneliness that had been dammed back for weeks break through and flood over her. She had neither the strength nor the desire to control it. Let him see how weak she was – she deserved it. She didn't deserve his esteem or his friendship, and she didn't expect it.

Then why did she come here? Why not go straight to the police? What did she want from him? Not help – none she couldn't have gotten from Bogo and the rest of the force; he had no skills or resources she absolutely needed in this quest. Not his forgiveness – she had no right to ask for that. Had she come here only to cry?

Now was the time for action, not tears! What is wrong with me? How could she be such a crybaby? She hadn't let Gideon see her cry when he'd clawed her face. She hadn't let her parents see her cry after her disastrous first day on the job. Why couldn't she hold it back now? What is wrong with me? How could she stand here wailing and sobbing like this? Did losing his friendship really matter more to her than destroying this city? Than ruining innocent lives? No, it didn't, but it wasn't his place to forgive her for that, so nothing about this made sense. She had no reason for coming here, for breaking down like this. Unless...

Unless she was in love with him. Then it made perfect sense. The thought was formed half in jest before she flashed back to all the other feelings she'd been unable to identify since that tremor in her heart on the sky tram. At the press conference, when she quit, when she returned to the carrot farm, when she came back to him... Suddenly, she had a name for the mixture of guilt, depression, pain, and loss she'd felt each time: heartbreak. That was the feeling that had been crushing her, that was the torture she'd been suffering. It wasn't fear or shame or weakness – it was love.

She was heartbroken. At last, she knew. When viewed through this lens, everything became clear. She wasn't weak or a coward. There was nothing wrong with her. Her only mistake was letting the feeling overpower her to the point of powerlessness. But now that she recognized it for what it was, it would never get the better of her again.

The best part was, she wasn't the only one to make such a discovery that day...

"You know you love me..."

"Do I know that...?" She did now. She only wished she'd known sooner. "Yes. Yes, I do." And now, she knew something else just as important.