Dom nodded to himself at Richard's words. A chance that had better work because I don't know what else to do if it doesn't.
A soft voice spoke in his head, "Me neither."
Dom sighed. "What are you doing here, Deidre? Shouldn't you be watching over Cherie or something?"
"She's in school. What harm can come to her there with so many people around?"
"I bet you thought the same thing when my family walked into that store," he replied tightly.
"No. I knew something was wrong but I couldn't stop it. I tried, Dom. Damn it, I tried. You know that. I couldn't get into those boys' heads because they were so panicked. All they could think about was making their escape with the hostages. It's the same reason they wouldn't listen to you."
"They didn't listen to me because I failed in my job. If I'd handled it differently…"
"The result would have been the same. They were two terrified punk kids, in over their heads. How many times did Samuel and I have to tell you that?" She sighed deeply. "Not enough, because I couldn't stop you from killing yourself."
"I had to pay for my failure."
"Dom, you… never mind. You'll never accept that it wasn't your fault."
"And yours," he said, the pain burning brightly again. Pain he thought he had finally been able to deal with—until yesterday when Deidre had reappeared in his life. He looked up with a shake of his head. Why did you do this to me, Samuel?
"Why did he do it to both of us?" Deidre asked. "Doesn't he know I've lived with my failure since it happened? Every time he gives me a new assignment, I wonder if I'm going to screw up again."
"Have you?" He was genuinely curious to hear her reply.
"No. But then," she said dryly, "he's never put me in a situation where I could have, unlike you. I heard about your last one. The one you worked with Paddy. You two did a good job."
"Thanks." Dom paused, returning his attention to Tim and Richard. "So far, so good." He chuckled. "Now if Tim doesn't drive him to distraction talking about books…"
"Richard seems to be holding his own. Oh my god, did you know Dr Seuss only used fifty words in 'Green Eggs and Ham'? The look on Richard's face when Tim told him that was priceless."
Dom laughed. "I have the feeling Tim will send Cherie home with the book now, so Richard can see that he's right."
"No, Richard will go back to the library with him to check it out."
She nodded. "Oh yeah, because I just gave him a nudge to do that."
"The longer they prolong this… date, the better the chances are there will be a second, then a third…"
"And then we can go our separate ways again."
"Which you'd like," Deidre said sourly.
"We both want it."
"I suppose so."
Dom frowned. "What do you mean by that?"
"Nothing," she said softly.
"What? You were hoping I'd forgive you for what happened? Not a chance in hell!"
"If you forgave me, perhaps you could forgive yourself."
"Dom, when are you going to accept there was nothing you could have done to change the situation? It's been fifteen years. Let it go, damn it. Let it go!"
"What are you? My guardian angel," he replied scathingly.
"I don't think that's allowed, all things considered," she replied wryly. "But if it were, I'd gladly take the assignment if I could help you face the truth."
"You would, wouldn't you," he said, surprise tingeing his words.
"Yes, Dom, I would."
The sincerity in her reply left him speechless for a long moment. Then he said hesitantly, "I almost wish… No, never mind. Let's deal with our charges, who seem to be ready to leave."
With the barest of laughter, she said, "Ten dollars says they're both heading to the library."