Title: Silent Desperation

Author: Shannon/Raindrops on Roses

Rating: PG-13
Category: Angst, Episode Reaction

Spoilers: "Persian Gulf"

Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No infringement is intended.

Author's Note: The title comes from a quote from Thoreau's Walden: "The mass of men lead lives of silent desperation."

It's three in the morning before I finally get out of the debriefing room. The CIA agent who questioned me warned me that everything I heard last night is classified. At this rate, my entire life will be classified.

I won't be able to sleep anytime soon. Not that I want to. Then I won't be able to fight the memories off at all.

I take a cab back into the city. I start to give him my address, but then change my mind and tell him to take me to the Mall. He gives me a funny look, but does what I ask.

I stand at the foot of the Reflecting Pool. The water is so still, so calm. I yearn for that calmness... but my life is a tumult.

I killed a man last night. It wasn't the first time. But it was the first time that anger--that unadulterated rage--flowed through my veins as I did it. I shudder.

I know I need to talk to someone about this. Not many people have security clearance high enough to listen. I could talk to Harm, but he wouldn't understand. Harm sees things in black and white. Sadik was bad, I was good, I killed the bad guy before he could kill me. Harm wouldn't be able to see why I was so conflicted.

I could talk to Webb... but I'm not so sure he would understand, either. He wouldn't understand how I could regret killing a madman.

No. I don't regret it. It was either him or me.

But he was already on the ground when I killed him...

It's sick, and it's twisted, and I know it's wrong... but... but Sadik knew me better than any man in my life did. He knew exactly which buttons to push to get me to react. He knew of my desire for a home, a family. He questioned my reasons for my loyalty. He got under my skin, and I don't know how to get him out.

I swallow. Sadik's words ring in my head. "You are with men who are weak, but their weakness is not your weakness. In you there is strength, and a wisdom that even you don't recognize."

I want to be strong. I do. But it's so hard when I'm questioning everything I believe.

I am an independent woman. I'm a United States Marine. But sometimes I want someone to be there for me... to pick up the pieces when I fall apart. But there's no one there... so I have to pull myself together.

Sadik was a seriously misguided human being, to say the least--but he was a human being. It's so tempting to think of him as a monstrosity, as a thing with no emotions... but I can't. I can't, and I'm so goddamn confused.

I killed in anger. I've never done that before. I've killed in self-defense, or defending my friends, or my country... but never because of that blinding rage. He was down; he was incapacitated. I didn't have to kill him. Now I don't know what to do.

The water in the reflecting pool ripples gently. I look up, confused. Has it started to rain?

I touch my face, and realize it's not rain.

The sky is gray, shot through with shining pink threads. The sun is rising over the nation's capital. A nation with blood on their hands.

No. I swiftly close the door on that thought.

I killed Sadik Fahd. He will no longer live to terrorize myself, my friends, or my country.

And I don't regret that.

I don't.