IV (Tag for Hero)

It's late.

There's nothing new about lying awake in bed. I suspected sleep would not come easily tonight. It seldom does these days. Still, one can hope.

Such a simple man…

Straightforward, well meaning, good heart … I'll do the best I can to help Walter recover. It's the least I can do after he saved all of us, in more ways than he could have imagined.

He wanted to be a hero. More likely than not, it's something he'd wanted all his life, long before he encountered our newest abnormal. An insurance adjuster, his had doubtless been a dull, monotonous life until he became involved with this incredible parasite. And the creature gave him what he wanted, the ability to help people in trouble, help them in extraordinary ways.

Simple, really, it was a simple and admirable symbiosis those two shared. In some ways it's a shame it had to end. Life goes on … so long as one lets go.

My mind is racing as it does so often these nights. I'm tempted to go down and keep watch over Walter. Of course he doesn't actually need that level of observation anymore. Besides, were Will to find me there, I'd never hear the end of it. Such an overprotective protégé he's become!

The last few days have been a whirlwind. Exhilarating in their own way, they've distracted my mind a bit, made life a bit easier to bear. Give me a scientific mystery, a new life form, a new challenge and I'm readily engaged in the hunt.

That doesn't mean for a second I've forgotten you, Ashley.

Hmm… Saying her name out loud hurts. Will and the others, they know that. It's the reason they've avoided talking about her the last few weeks. They want to protect me. In their endeavor, they've monitored my sleeping, my eating habits and my appearance in ways I suppose should insult me. Apparently, they don't like what they see. They tell me I look drained, pale and too thin.

They care, something I should appreciate. I try to remember that when Will looks at me with those sad, concerned eyes and keeps bringing me food. Worse yet is how he insists I get some sleep when I'm certain to be awake throughout the night. At least he's agreed to respect my insistence on professional boundaries when we're working. It won't due for me to break down in the midst of a chase. Then of course in exchange for not pushing any discussion of how I'm doing in those situations, he insists on some private therapy sessions. He doesn't call them that, but I'm quite aware of what he's doing.

And I need him to do it.

Not that I'd ever admit it to him… or anyone.

The recent hunt made it easier for all of us to avoid the pain of Ashley's loss. But it's never far away. And in these moments of silence, moments that are bound to come, her loss robs me of breath and tears at my heart. That is as it should be; the intensity is simply more than I've ever experienced.

I'm not sure how I feel about what happened to the man Kate brought into the Sanctuary. None of it sits right with me. But there's something about the girl that tells me it will work out, that she's someone we can trust. Perhaps it's her rebelliousness, her rough edges … the spunk that was so much a part of my daughter.

You'd like her, Ashley.

I know you would…once you'd knocked her down once or twice.

Time will tell, I suppose. Kate, Will, the Sanctuary network, in time we'll know how all of this plays out. For now, I can only do my part and hope to feel normal again some day soon. Perhaps some day, the ragged hole inside of me will fill up again and it won't hurt quite so much.

Enough of this … I'm going back down to the lab. There's work I can be doing, rather than lying here wide awake. And yes, I'll check on Walter.

Dr. Zimmerman will simply have to deal.

OoOoOo

A/N: Hero was a tough one in many ways. I thought Helen looked tired and worn and I wasn't sure what to make of the Hero.

I'm looking forward to the next episode.