Her could hear her voice. That sudden realization. And then the footsteps.
The Senator's fingers found the door release before his mind could convince him to let her in. She could argue a point, that one. And she would, given the chance. That's why he couldn't let himself see her, hug her. Kiss her forehead goodbye. Because he didn't have that kind of willpower. The promise of another day with her would have been too much.
So Alan released his breath when he heard the doors clasp shut, right before she hit them. But her voice was still there, calling out, in his mind.
A tear of sweat slid down his temple, catching a tiny cut. It stung, distracting him from his other injuries for a moment.
This wasn't the way he'd imagined it. Somehow, he'd convinced himself that Chloe would be on another part of a ship at this point, chatting with one of the others, helping with one of the injured. Comforting them.
God, she always did feel the need to comfort people in pain, ever since she was little. He might have spoiled her a bit—hell, who was he kidding? He spoiled her a lot. But that didn't mean that he had raised a bad kid.
She'd always cared more than him, about the little things. About people. And she was good at convincing those people that he cared about them as well.
Why was Chloe here? Why did she have to see this? It wasn't fair.
This was never supposed to happen. He was never supposed to go out this way.
Alan clenched his teeth to stop the pain from welling up and spilling out. He didn't want his last thought to be a bitter one. But he couldn't help it. It was there, stuck in the recesses of his mind. A part of him snapping in that arrogant voice his wife had warned him not to use when he was frustrated: it wasn't fair.
He was no hero.
He was just the logical choice.
Alan exhaled. The breath felt short. Air. There wasn't any air. His chest was on fire. It had been for hours, but it was as if he was just now feeling it. His body was trying to tell him to get to safety.
Its message would go unheard. Alan couldn't go back now. It was too late.
He only wished that bitterness would go away. But it kept returning, especially when he thought of people, their reactions to his death. Why would they say he did it?
"Because he's a hero."
"Because it was his sacrifice."
"Because he was dying anyway. . ."
His insides felt tight. He wasn't sure if that was the oxygen deprivation or the anger inside him. Surely they'd realize why he really did it. It wasn't because he cared about all of them. Because he thought it was the logical thing to do. It wasn't that at all.
It was because. . .
He looked up, his voice soft, "I love you."
. . .of his Chloe.
One more day for his Chloe. He closed his eyes.
The Senator's body slumped forward.
End Notes: Written for The Guild of the Fantastic Quill's Jeopardy Challenge.