Before The Fade

Summary: She can feel herself fading, but all she can focus on is the fact that they ran towards her, not away. Spoilers up to The Devil Will Drag You Under. Dani-centric.

She realizes it one moment too early, one moment too late. Just enough time to yell out to them, scream at them to run. Her father, his team, and God, Cameron – none of them should have to die for her mistakes. She doesn't want them here, never wanted anything like this. She told them to run away. But the last thing she sees before the blast throws her forward, before all the pain sets in, is them running towards her. Cameron in the lead, her father just behind, both sprinting towards her without regard for their own safety. Even the others, the ones she barely knows, are moving in her direction.

And then her world is on fire, her blood, her bones. Everything hurts, and she's so scared, and then her father is there. She wants to hold on to the image of his soft eyes and remember.

She was his little girl, once, and would talk to him about everything.

They used to play barber shop when she was four; he sat in his favorite chair and she stood on a stool behind him, combing his hair and pretending to cut it with plastic scissors.

She almost drowned once, when she was six and hadn't yet learned how to swim – he jumped into the pool and rescued her, wrapped her in a towel, kissed her head, and began teaching her the next day.

He read her bed time stories, held back her hair when she had the flu, bandaged scraped knees. There was a time when her favorite place was on his strong, steady shoulders. She had a gift, but he was superman.

There was the bad, too. Once he'd really started to see her ability, she'd felt so different, like his experiment, not like his daughter. And he'd used her to try to fix a broken marriage, and it stung, left her feeling isolated and like a disappointment when she couldn't even manage that. She hated him for making her feel that way.

If only she had known then what she knows now. If only she could have accepted that he wasn't superman, that he was human, and flawed, and that all the mistakes he might have made didn't mean for a second that he loved her any less. If only she knew it all before Parish, before the drugs, before the emptiness had settled in her heart.

She understands now. Life is precious and love is real – the love she feels for Cameron, the love she feels for her father. The love her father feels for her. She knows she's dying. Only before dying does one get to gain such clarity.

Dani, I love you.

She wants to tell him she knows, wants to say it back, but her throat is clogged and her mouth won't form the words.

She can feel herself fading now, but even though she isn't nearly ready for this, even though she knows she's too young to die, there is a sort of peace building in her heart.

Because even now, even after everything, he thought she was worth saving.

Because even now, she's still his little girl.

Because even now, he ran towards her when he would have been better off turning away.