Author's Notes: Yeah, I know what you're thinking: I need a new series like I need a hole in my head. However, these are short pieces, based on the "Five Times" prompts I've seen in various fandoms, and though we changed things around a little bit, it didn't tax the muse too much. All five character...man...dog...thingies...(see what I did there? Huh? Yeah, I need to stop uploading at 2:30 AM) are done, and a new vignette will be posted each day through the weekend.
Rating is for language, which is minimal anyway. There's also DG/Cain UST and angst to be had. Oh, baby, is there ever. :)
These vignettes are snapshots into the characters' minds during events toward the end of the series, and immediately after.
Thank you a million times over to Alamo Girl for helping me find my flangsty footing again, and for getting Charlie away from the Deformed Plot Bunnies of Doom. (Jeb/Doc babyfic? What? :) ) We're all better for your intervention. Look, Mel, angst! I can has Sara/David now? I be good kid. I promise.
Disclaimer: The characters and situations herein are not mine. This story is meant purely for entertainment purposes. No infringement is intended.
He'd never admit it, but there were so many things he'd never tell her.
He'd never admit that he knew it shouldn't be like that—after all they'd been through, after all the help they'd given each other—secrets and lies had no place. But there were things he could barely admit to himself, let alone to her.
He'd never tell her that he'd known exactly who she was after finding her with the Mystic Man. After the old man confirmed DG's mother had lavender eyes, and in a tone that reeked not of Azkadellia's vapors, but of complete certainty and clarity, he'd known that this was the girl they'd all long thought dead. The first of many casualties.
He'd never tell her that he realized she hadn't had a clue, and the heart he'd need to be able to tell her the truth had rusted away a long time ago, and was buried halfway across the realm.
He'd never admit just how much he'd wanted to leave her then, how he'd wanted to run away from having to watch her discover that the life she'd been leading was a complete and utter lie. He didn't want to stand idly by and watch yet another spirit break.
He'd never tell her how the Mystic Man had sensed his hesitation, and said, in no uncertain terms, that she was his responsibility. She was the key, the old wizard had said, and she had to be protected at all costs.
He'd never tell her that he didn't want to protect her at first, because he knew he'd inevitably fail.
He'd never admit how badly it had hurt when they reached the Northern Island and she was so excited to see if her mother was still waiting for her to return. He'd never say that he didn't remember the last time he saw anyone run so fast in his life, and how his own steps were leaden, bound by the chains of duty, and the knowledge that she wouldn't find anything beyond heartbreak up those marble steps.
He'd never be able to express how broken he felt at being unable to protect her when he urged Raw to show her how Azkadellia had killed her. He'd failed to protect her when he'd confirmed her worst fears—her sister, her own flesh and blood—had actually taken her life.
He'd failed to protect her when he realized the Witch and her faction had followed them as though they'd had a roadmap. He'd failed to protect her when Zero got the best of him. Again.
He'd never admit that it was nothing more than sheer, dumb luck that he'd had enough energy to pull himself from the icy water after he'd fallen; it was also sheer, dumb luck that the Zipperhead hadn't been captured, and had enough presence of mind to drag him back to DeMilo's wagon.
He'd never say that it was sheer, dumb luck that the Witch hadn't killed DG when she'd had the chance, no matter how much he wanted to believe that the gods had a plan, because that would require faith he'd lost before she was even born.
He'd never confess how he didn't want to be there for the fallout when she realized the person they'd been trying to stop, the person they blamed for all the terrible things that had happened, was her.
He'd never tell her how uncomfortable she felt in his arms. When she leapt onto him, his arms had come around her tiny body of their own volition, instinct taking over when his brain clouded; he'd never tell her just how off-kilter she made him feel.
He'd never tell her he wanted desperately to ask why she'd hugged him and not Glitch.
He'd never tell her how he felt like he was killing his wife all over again when he reached for her, at the Resistance cabin, and just before the Eclipse.
He'd never divulge the secret that so many times, when he looked at her, he saw Adora. He'd never admit to her that when she caught him staring at her, he wasn't seeing the princess, but was hoping to see familiar brown eyes smiling back at him, forgiving him for his continual failures.
He'd never acknowledge that when she smiled, especially when it was directed at him, it lit up the room like a beacon, as though the light that blasted pooch droned on and on about could be seen for miles. Just like Adora's face had. He'd never admit that when she got angry, especially when it was directed at him, she'd put her hands on her slender hips and challenge him, testing his limits and pushing him to the brink. Just like Adora had.
He'd never tell her how badly it hurt to be around her sometimes. He'd never admit that part of him did blame her for the Witch coming to power, for Zero being able to find Adora, and ultimately causing her death. He'd never admit just how hard he fought with himself on just how much he should forgive her—and how much he wanted to forgive her—and that constant struggle was what kept him up at night.
He'd never tell her how he'd found a heady combination of temptation and salvation in those impossibly blue eyes of hers. He'd never tell her how her first words to him—Are you okay?—were the hardest things he'd ever heard, because her voice wasn't Adora's, and yet it was the most beautiful sound he'd heard in a long time.
He'd never tell her how much he admired her. He knew what it was like to learn everything you'd held as testament was untrue. He knew what overwhelming confusion and paths diverging in multiple directions felt like. And yet, she took on each challenge with a gracious ferocity that staggered him.
He'd never tell her how he agonized over whether or not he should stay, whether he could admit to—or convince—himself that his promise had been fulfilled. She'd been returned to her family, to her home, safe, sound and just a little worse for wear.
He'd never admit to the fact that he knew in his gut she didn't need him to protect her anymore. He'd never admit that he wanted her to need him anyway; it scared the daylights out of him.
He'd never tell her that in spite of how her absences twisted his gut, he looked forward to her running off half-cocked, leaving him to follow blindly—but faithfully—in her stead. He looked forward to hearing the sound of her delighted laughter, or how it warmed him when she grinned knowingly at him, and how it took all of his energy not to grin stupidly back at her, as though he were thirteen annuals old again and realizing for the first time that girls were okay.
He'd never admit that he'd lay down his life for her in the blink of an eye, or that he'd take another's if it meant protecting her, physically or emotionally.
He'd never admit part of him had loved her from the first time he'd laid eyes on her, wielding that ridiculous stick and an even more ridiculous will of unbendable steel.
He'd never admit she reminded him that some things were worth the risk, and were worth fighting for.
He'd never admit any of it, because some things were better left unsaid.