Donna couldn’t help her cry of despair. “NO!” She ran after the glossy paper as it flew over the bridge into the river below her. She was about to toss herself over the railing and fly down to retrieve the map when a hand yanked her back to the ground.
She whirled on Roy. Donna was only using a fraction of her strength but he was still having obvious difficulty trying to contain his Amazonian girlfriend. “Roy, we have to get that map! The map! What the hell are we going to do without it? We’re stranded, Roy! Roy!”
Bystanders turned their heads and stared at their noisy display. Roy could only imagine what they must look like, a young couple in the middle of Nowheresville, Oregon, him trying to restrain her as she went ballistic. Donna was most likely the epitome of the term “crazy girlfriend” right now.
Roy sent the other tourists apologetic glances, more for Donna’s sake than his own. This wasn’t Donna, not really. This was a sleep-deprived, frustrated, and irritated Donna. Where she would normally settle for irate glances and subjecting him to the couch for the night, today she snapped.
He kept trying to catch her wrists in his hands as they flailed around her but his grasp kept slipping – or rather, she would use her strengths and wrench her hands out of his. She was still shouting at him, her voice raising an octave higher after each time she cried his name. Roy wished he had packed a power-dampener or something – anything – that would put this Amazon to rest.
Finally, Roy firmly cupped Donna’s face in his hands, and exclaimed her name. He winced immediately after doing so. That most likely didn’t look good on his part, yelling into his girlfriend’s face. But if she had a problem with it, she didn’t show it. Instead, she relaxed. Her eyes snapped back into focus and she sunk into him.
Wrapping her arms around his waist, she leaned in and groaned deeply, voice muffled by his shirt. “What are we going to do? We need that map, Roy.”
He didn’t answer at first. He had to concentrate on the matter at hand and not the fact that he loved the feeling of Donna pressed so close to him and that it had been nearly two weeks since they’d done anything more than hold hands. Roy reluctantly pulled away from her. They stood at arms’ length, although, it might as well have been a galaxy away. “Troy.” Donna’s eyes met his. He couldn’t deny the bolt of electricity that shot through him. It happened each and every time their eyes connected, yet he would never tire of the feeling. “We’re going to be okay.”
An exasperated sigh escaped her lips. “And what makes you say that, Harper?” She lifted a hand and he momentarily thought she was going to flick him like he and Wally would do to each other whenever they felt the other was being a total ass. Instead, she brought it to her head and rubbed her temple. She was exhausted. Purple bags hung under her lower lids, the corners of her mouth turned into a deep frown. She really was going to need this trip.
Roy melted further. Damn, this woman had such a strong effect on him, if she were a different person, he would have been worried. His lips quirked up slightly. “Because there’s a gas station a few minutes away and I’m pretty sure they sell updated maps of the US.”
Laughter bubbled in her throat, first softly enough for only him to hear, then growing in strength until everyone in a hundred-mile radius could hear her. The laughter quickly died out, though, and was soon replaced with sniffling. Donna looked away, biting her lip and blinking rapidly.
Roy sighed. “C’mon, let’s get back to the car.” She followed him as he gently tugged her away to the car.
They were parked on the side of the road where a total of six cars had driven by since they had pulled into the tiny rest area about an hour ago. The Oregon Vortex had been an interesting visit and the Enchanted Forest was next on their site-seeing list. It had been about a month since Roy had suggested he and Donna take a road trip with the kids. Donna had profusely refused. She didn’t want a road trip. Why did they need to drive across the country when they could take a plane? What did they need to miss time away from work and from the Titans for that wasn’t already in New England? The answers had come in the form of Donna’s breakdowns.
It had been a total of three weeks since Donna’s first breakdown that had Roy starting the road trip preparations with or without her consent. She had nearly lost it on a particularly nasty client and had her old time friend, Sharon Tracey, not been there to hold her back, Donna would most likely have ripped the client’s head clean off. When asked about it, Donna had chalked it up to exhaustion. She was a full time mother as well as a full time superhero with a photography studio to look after, she said, she was going to be tired. Lilith was nothing short of apprehensive but didn’t need to say as much, the dubious expression on her face was enough to convince the others that there was more that Donna wasn’t saying.
Donna’s second breakdown had been about two weeks later. They’d all almost forgotten about the first one and were being to believe her excuse. Maybe Donna was just tired and maybe Lilith had just read her wrong. While the second breakdown wasn’t as outwardly dramatic as the first one, it had resonated with everyone. Donna was a calm mother, the kind that never raised her voice and always kept a level head, and it helped that Robbie was a quiet child who never got too difficult to handle. So when Donna snapped at Robbie over something so minute and trivial – her son had accidentally spilled a bottle of Crayola paints over his duvet – Roy had made the difficult decision to leave the kids behind for a full month, in the safe hands of his friends and family.
The Map Ordeal, as he was now going to call it, was Donna’s third breakdown.
Helping her onto the hood of the car, Roy decided on the direct approach. “Donna, what’s going on?” His fingers intertwined with hers as he leaned closer to her, standing in between her legs. He had a momentary flashback to their first date together, those many years ago, back when they were the Teen Titans and Roy was sneaking Oliver’s cars out of the garage for a joyride to impress his dates. Donna had been so unimpressed by the car and indifferent about the fancy restaurant he’d been able to swipe Oliver’s credit card to pay for, he had almost given up on wooing her, up until he’d taken her to one of his favorite spots in Star City. High above the city, where the stars were the brightest, both in that same position they were in right now, was where he’d realized that Donna wasn’t going to be like all of the other girls he’d been interested in before.
Donna sighed. She leaned her forehead against his as she answered. “It’s everything, Roy; the time we lost with each other, the constant world-threatening attacks that we barely get to rest from, the fact that it’s taken me the longest to regain my memories out of all of us, and I still have big gaps in between time, not to mention the fact that I had gaps in my memories since before the big mind wipe. It’s frustrating and I’m just so tired, Roy. I’m so damn tired.” She spoke so lowly, he felt her words more rather than heard her. Her eyes shone with unshed tears. God, it tore him seeing her like this.
“I know, babe.” Looking up into the dark clouds, he wondered how they had managed to have such terrible luck. Both their lives seemed to be a constant fight for their sanities, one life-changing problem after the other. The assaults never ended and they served to further exhaust them. Roy wondered if that was the point: tire out the two young heroes until they had no more fight in them to give and then swoop in and end it all.
But they couldn’t get tired and nothing could be ended. They had friends and families to look after. Lian and Robbie were starting grade school again in the fall and Tommy was going into Pre-K. Karen and Mal were going to renew their vows the following spring. Lilith and Mr. Jupiter had already started planning a big Christmas Eve party for the Titans. They had so much to live for and they would continue to fight even if it meant that they had to drag themselves onto their feet with bloody hands and broken bones.
Fat rain drops began to fall from the roiling clouds. Tourists scrambled to shelter themselves inside the protection of their cars. Only Roy and Donna stayed, letting the rain wash over them. There was something poetic about it all with a deep sense of irony but Roy couldn’t put his finger on it. It was after they were soaked to their bones and shivering in their thin shirts that they reluctantly dragged themselves into Roy’s Jeep.
It was turning out to be one hell of a road trip.
Roy worried for Donna. He glanced over at her periodically as he drove to the gas station he’d seen on their way to the rest area. She blankly stared out of the window, water dripping from her like an open faucet. They had planned for a full month away from New York and the craziness of their lives. He didn’t know how she was going to fair for those four weeks if she was already breaking away from reality two days into the trip. But he knew they were going to endure and Donna would come out of it all as strong as ever. All it was going to take was some time and patience, both of which Roy had in spades.