In and out. I won't be here long. And I won't come back. Just to show Alfred. I'm not weak. Just to show me.
He's asleep. There's a chair next to the bed. I wish it were a little farther away, but I sit down.
After ten minutes or so, he shifts, wakes up. Norman looks at me, smiling groggily. "Cupcake..."
I wish he wouldn't call me that. I force a smile. "H--hey, Norman..."
He stretches a little, cringing. Stretched too far, I guess. "Mmmwhere've ya been?"
"I...had to go home to do something and then I couldn't leave Alfred alone, I'm sorry."
He blinks. "Oh.... is 'e sick?"
"No, just...lonely." I shake my head. It's probably a good thing he's tired. These excuses are pretty weak.
"Mr. Wayne too busy to keep 'im company?"
"I guess so. I think he left town. We don't really know. But um..." I reach behind and scratch my neck. "How've you been?"
Norman waves a hand at himself.
"Feelin' better now, though. I was..." He looks away. "...startin' ta think ya weren't comin back...."
Bingo. I bite my lip. "What on earth made you think that?"
"You kinda bolted outta here like..." He looks back up at me and pulls himself up a bit, until he's sitting. "Well, it doesn't matter, you're here now."
I look down, wrap my arms around myself. "Yeah..."
"Oh!" He brightens visibly. "Franco came by to visit yesterday! Made my day. He's a real good friend."
I smile a little. Can't help it. He's so happy. "Oh, that's nice. Good you're getting other visitors."
"Yeah, but..." Norman frowns. "They're not all welcome. My brother's coming by today... I'm not looking forward to seein' 'im."
I frown, too. "Why?"
He lowers his eyes. "We've never exactly gotten along...."
"Oh." I pause awkwardly. "I'm sorry."
"It's all right... I mean... No, at the time it wasn't, but I haven't had ta worry about it much since I left. Anyway, when I really needed someone I had Walsh."
"Ah... yeah. A good friend. Best I ever had. Maybe. Franco's working on that one."
"Oh..." Had? "What happened to him?"
"Ah... well...." Norman looks down. "...he died.... a while back...."
I put my face in the palm of my hand. Great. This is great. "Do you--how long ago?"
"Three years, just about. About as long as I've been out in the field."
I don't have anything to say to that. "Was he FBI, too?"
"Yeah. He was good, too." He smiles, a little. "Looked up to him a lot. And he was always lookin out for me..."
He's smiling so sad. I hesitate, then reach out and take his hand. "You miss him?"
He cringes a little, looking down at my hand around his. After a minute he looks back up at me. "Yeah. I do. He..." He's not looking at me. "God, he was so young! My brother'll be the age Walsh was when he died soon and... Well, I mean, Harry's got kids, but Walsh didn't get the chance and-" His eyes squeeze shut. "Clara, shit. It's all my fault."
Taken off base, I stammer, "What do you mean? What's your fault? That he didn't...no, what..."
"God, Clara, I... I killed him! I mean, I didn't kill him, but I let him die! I let him down, and I let him die! That's what I do! I let people down and then people die."
I furrow my brows. "Just, just slow down. What are you saying?"
He's still looking away. "We were out on assignment. I mean... he was. He took me along, ta give me a head start, a little exposure 'cause he didn't like ta see me rotting away at the office. We were after this cop killer.... Farkas. And I figured out where he probably was so we went ta look. We split up and I stopped ta...." He hesitates. "Well, I didn't get back ta him on time. Farkas shot 'im. I was too late. I was too late ta stop him...."
I squeeze his hand. "You didn't do anything."
"I know! That's the problem! I can't do ennethin!"
"You weren't even there."
His voice breaks. "I should've been!" He's crying. Why is that hurting me? "God, I should've been...."
Not letting go of his hand, I move from the chair to sit on the bed next to him. "C--come on, sometimes there's just nothing anybody can do...can't always be there, sometimes things just happen."
"I know.... Some things... some problems... are too big. Too hard for people to handle. On their own, I mean. That's why the ARI is so great. Makes up for so many human shortcomings..."
"Can--I don't... Why did you just jump from your friend to the glasses?"
"Wh-what? Did I? Oh.... Well, I got 'em a couple days after he died. My first day back at work. I was feeling pretty shitty, you unnderstand, pretty worthless. Then I find these glasses on my desk and.... Hell, I was being trusted with this amazing piece of equipment! They must've thought I was worth something if they gave 'em to me."
I close my eyes as he finishes speaking. That. That's it. That's why the Ingrams. There it is. Quietly, I say, "I'm sorry, baby."
Norman sighs. "You don't have ennethin to be sorry about, cupcake."
I wasn't going to come back. "M--everyone has things to be sorry about."
He sighs again. "Look, cupcake, I hate ta ask you this... but could you leave for a bit and come back later?"
Curious, I tilt my head. "Why?"
"I, I, well I need to rest some more....."
"Oh...okay..." I stand up slowly, still holding his hand. "Is there anything you want me to get for you?"
"Ah.... maybe a slice of pie?"
"You got it." Squeezing his hand, I lean over and kiss his forehead before I go. I'll get him some pie.
G: Like helplessness experiments. That's the biggest problem in zombie apocalypses. People who survive will always eventually come to question why they bother.
Seamus: The biggest problem in zombie apocalypses is poor planning and not enough ammo.