Some Kind of Superhero
Disclaimer: The characters and the dialogue belong to Richard Kelly and the producers of Donnie Darko. The whole Vampire Slayer thing belongs to Joss Whedon.
Author's Note: This is my first attempt at a crossover. I would love reviews, good or bad!
“Has anyone ever told you that you’re sexy?” Seth said, cigarette dangling from his lips.
“I like your boobs,” the light-haired guy, Ricky, said loudly.
She gave him a disgusted look. She knew she could take the both of them without breaking a sweat. But she couldn’t, she had to remind herself, she mustn’t. He would find out. He always finds out,
she thought, suppressing a shudder.
“Hey,” came a new voice.
Gretchen turned around to see Donnie Darko, the cute boy from her English class. “Hey,” she replied, throat unexpectedly dry.
“School’s cancelled,” he stammered out.
She looked at him, then briefly considered the two jerks behind her. “You want to walk me home?”
She sounded nervous. That was good.
“Sure,” came his soft reply.
“Don’t look so freaked,” she told him once they were a safe distance from the other two.
“I’m not,” he replied tensely. “But you should check your backpack ‘cause those guys like to steal shit.”
“Fuck them,” Gretchen muttered. This annoyance, this anger, was safe. This was what normal girls would do. She shot her companion a smile, then turned around and gave the onlookers the finger. Donnie looked at her appreciatively before nervously returning his gaze to the ground.
“So . . . you just moved here?”
Gretchen took a deep breath, preparing herself for the story. “Yeah. My parents got divorced. My mom has a restraining order against my stepdad. He has–” she stumbled for the explanation her mom had provided “–emotional problems.”
“Oh, I have those too!” Donnie exclaimed, suddenly eager. “What kind of problems does your dad have?”
She gave him a look. He’s an evil blood-sucking fiend,
she wanted to say. “He stabbed my mom four times in the chest.” Good,
she told herself, the plain facts. The things everybody knows.
After a long pause, Donnie responded, “Wow. Did he go to jail?”
“He fled. They still can’t find him.” And they won’t,
she added silently. But he’ll find us.
“My mom and I had to change our names. I thought Gretchen Ross sounded really cool.”
“I’m sorry,” Donnie offered. “I was in jail once . . .”
As he rambled, she thought about this strange boy who was walking her home. Nice looking, decent build.
He wouldn’t stand a chance in her world.
“You know, change things,” he was saying.
It was such an innocent desire: to change things. To do some good. Where had it all gone wrong? Maybe when he turned,
she thought sarcastically. When he turned and came after my mother with a knife, just to get at me.
“Donnie Darko is a cool name,” she found herself saying. It was; she liked the way it rolled off her tongue. “Sounds like some kind of superhero,” she added almost wistfully.
He looked up at her, quirking his eyebrows. “What makes you think I’m not?”
She forced a smile. This conversation was hitting a little too close to home. “I should go. For Physics, Monsanoff is making me write this essay: the greatest invention ever to benefit mankind.”
“It’s Monnitoff,” Donnie said, scratching the side of his head, “And that’s easy. Antiseptics.” Seeing her expression, he hurried to explain. “I mean, the whole sanitation thing. Joseph Lister, 1895. Before antiseptics, there was no sanitation, especially in medicine.”
“You mean soap?” She’d been thinking more along the lines of the wheel. Fire, maybe. But soap?
Her disbelief seemed to have scared him away from that topic.
“It’s a good thing that school was cancelled today,” he said finally.
“We never would have had this conversation,” was his simple reply.
She gave him a soft smile. “You’re weird.”
She had really come to hate that word. Sorry.
Way too overused, in her opinion. “That was a compliment.”
“Will you go with me?” he asked in a breathless rush.
She glanced around curiously. “Where are we going?”
“No, I mean . . . will you go
with me?” he said again, clarifying his intention. “That’s what we call it here. Going together.”
Gretchen didn’t know what to say. She knew what she was supposed to say, what he’d taught her to say: No.
It was too dangerous. She couldn’t protect anyone.
“Sure,” she said, instantly wondering what had possessed her. Later, she attributed it to his eyes. But right now, she had somewhere she had to be. Struggling to maintain her calm exterior, she began to cross the street, her back to her new boyfriend.
“Hey, where are you going?” he called after her, sounding slightly distressed.
She turned around and offered him a wide, reassuring smile. “I’m going home.”Home,
she thought with bitter amusement as she walked up the steps to her front door and slipped inside, locking and bolting the door behind her. She paused inside. The house was quiet. Muscles tensed, she moved stealthily through the house, her footsteps slow and soft, her breathing low and even. With an obnoxious creak, a treacherous floorboard betrayed her and she slipped her backpack to the ground, senses alert for any sign of an intruder.
“Honey, is that you?” her mother’s voice floated down from the second floor.
Gretchen slowly let herself relax, let the sound of her mother’s voice soothe her scattered nerves.
“I’m home, Mom,” she called back up and began walking up the stairs. After reassuring her mother that yes, her day had been fine, and no, no one had been cruel to her, she slipped in that she had met a nice boy who had asked her out. Her mother smiled at the news, and Gretchen was glad. Those smiles were all too rare now.
She remembered better times. Her mother used to smile and laugh and dance to the music on the radio. Gretchen used to love to watch the sun set, and sometimes her mother joined her. Now it was hard for Gretchen to see the bloody sky as anything but a warning.
Leaving her mother, she made her way into her bedroom, clambering over the cardboard boxes that littered the floor. She knelt on her bare mattress and placed her elbows on the window sill. At the end of the street, she could just make out a small figure, backpack slung over one shoulder, uniform shirt coming untucked, and a shock of slightly messy black hair. Oh Donnie Darko, I know you’re not a superhero.
Some superhero she was turning out to be. She couldn’t protect anybody. She couldn’t protect her mother, and she certainly couldn’t protect him
He’d been cold at first, stiff. Her father had just left her and she was terribly lonely. Gradually, they had begun to care for each other. He had met her mother, and the two of them hit it off. Gretchen--though she hadn’t been Gretchen then--had liked the idea of him being a part of their family. Still she had been hesitant to call him Dad.
To her mind, he wasn’t her father. He wasn’t even her stepfather. He was her Watcher.
Until that night when everything had spun out of her control. Because of her ineptitude, her Watcher had been killed. In one night, he’d gone from being a husband, a stepfather, a Watcher, to being a monster. To her mother, he was a predator.
To Gretchen, he was her prey.