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4400 fic: Third Time Lucky 1/1 K +

Title: Third Time Lucky
Author: Purpleyin

Rating: K+
Spoilers: Up to S2 “Lockdown” and briefly the start of “The Fifth Page”
Warning: Minor (canon) character deaths
Summary: She shot them, she had to; now she has to deal with it. Diana angst for “Pilot”, “Carrier” and “Lockdown.”

A/N: Betaread by Fanwoman.
###

She doesn't like guns much, but they're a necessary evil in her job. She's used to handling them, having made sure she understood everything she can about them. Knowledge is a weapon for her, a way to resolve things, and though it sometimes fails her now - as they tread on dangerous ground, venturing into the unknown and often unexplainable - it feels only right she be knowledgeable about any actual weapons, should she be forced to use them.

While she knows what she's doing, it doesn't settle well with her. It's constantly there. At least it has finally become a familiar weight against her, but to have it in her hands, pointed at anyone, is awkward. She knows every little step in the firing process and has logged up plenty of practice on the firing range – but firing at a living, breathing person is entirely different.

The first time had been because she'd felt like her head was going explode, more than literally; it had been the only way to stop Orson. It was regrettable, but if she hadn't done it, they'd probably all be dead. It had been a rational move made by her less than rational mind. It had been survival, and only after the incident had she realised how wrenching it was to have shot someone, to see him lying in so much pain because of her. To know why, to know you're right doesn't change what you've done. She couldn't even comfort him. She couldn't figure out what to do, what to say, so she had crouched close to him, tried to reassure him that help would be there soon. What has stuck with her is she'd only wanted to help – Tom had promised they would help him - and she'd only made his life worse, adding to the suffering of the raw deal he'd already gotten.

The second time, she'd been entirely in her right mind, and it had been just as necessary, if not more so. She knows there are countless people who'd be grateful if they knew what she'd done, but it doesn't change that Jean is dead, that Jean didn't - in the end, as in the beginning - want to hurt anyone. It had been too late, and Diana hadn't hesitated for more than a second about doing what Tom couldn't. Maybe it had been because working for the CDC made it more real to her, what would happen if she didn't. Tom wanted to believe everything would work out, but there was no more time for his way, even if it might have worked. Taking that chance wasn't worth millions of others dying.

It hadn't even been about her own survival; it was cold, cruel logic that had said Jean Delynn Baker had to die. That's what hurts, that it was just a pre-set course of action, a protocol for killing a woman. One life to save millions, it was a hypothetical moral dilemma that few ever face, one that she had so quickly chosen the answer to, because it had been logical. She almost hates the word, how she can very nearly push all her pain away under the guise that it was justified, reasonable. Thinking of someone's death as reasonable seems wrong, but even as she had felt that, she knew she had to accept it because it's the only way to deal with it - impersonally. She, Diana Skouris, did not shoot Jean Delynn Baker – it was Agent Skouris of NTAC who neutralized a threat to Portland, to the nation in general.

She had stood there in the gym, the third time, gun pointed at the door, and had wondered if she'd need to pull the trigger yet again. She hadn't known what to think, who'd be coming, how she could deal with it other than the obvious but despised option. All she'd known was she'd been backed into a corner, scared and she’d have done whatever had been necessary to protect them, especially Maia.

When the door gave way and Tom stumbled through, it had been different, the thought of shooting her partner making little sense, but she would have. She’d held off, wanting to give him that chance she’d not had with Orson or Jean. That time, it wasn't about millions of people, instead it was about Tom – it was personal. Not that she hadn't felt the same with the other two, but she had thought of Kyle, Shawn, Alana... how it would affect Maia, too, to see it happen. She had decided to take the chance because of them all. It wasn't one person weighed against the world, or just her own personal safety; she knew who else she'd be hurting if she shot him. It was worth the risk of waiting, of wanting to believe something better might yet come of the situation.

“I don't want to hurt you,” she'd said as they’d had a stand-off, each with a barrel pointed at the other.

There'd been a pause before he replied, crazed as he’d said it, “Oh, but, Diana, I do want to hurt you.”

She's so glad that she'd hesitated those few seconds more then, quelling the instinct in her that had said, “strike now.” That extra time allowed for Max to tackle him, instead. She was equally glad she hadn't had to pull the trigger on Max after that, because, thankfully, Marco had come through, despite his irritability. Really, they're all lucky he was so calm to start with that even a rage bomb didn't incapacitate him and reduce him to the wrecks it had made of the others.

And now she sits beside Maia's bed, having kept her promise to her daughter, as well as having spared any bloodshed in front of her. Her daughter is safe, but it's not really got much to do with her. Even she can't protect her from things such as this, whatever is wrong with her. They seem to be stumbling into one crisis after another lately. This one simply sticks in her mind because everything had been so off the wall, unpredictable – with no warning. It's hours after the incident, but Diana is still a little scared, fearful because she keeps on wielding that gun, being forced to make that choice. In reality, it isn't about what she wants, and maybe it's not even a matter of choice - just need, instinct, survival. That's what scares her most; it's all out of her control.

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