I should have tasted it in the blood. I should have, but I did not. I was distracted by the feel of her fluttering arms around my neck and her breath on my cheek.
Her name was Blue Jay, and she was a Superhero of the old school. At the age of forty three she had become the grand dame of heroes, the one who kept watch in the Guard Tower, the one who saw everything, who assigned missions to younger heroes, who sent help to those in need. Whenever they came for me, she never failed to send me someone interesting. I always appreciated that. Sometimes, I would even send the bodies back – that’s how much I respected her.
The last time we danced, it was because the heroes had taken something of mine. It really isn’t important what; it was just a toy they shouldn’t have touched. I went to their Tower to get it back. Blue Jay was there in her caplet and boots, standing at the entrance, telling me that I would not pass. We parried and lunged, and after our little dance I took her in my arms and tasted her, blood on my lips, her heart thrumming against my chest, her hands tight in my hair.
I was so enraptured in the moment that I didn’t taste those errant and rebellious cells multiplying in her breast. They were so near her heart, that you think I would have tasted it, that I would have known she was sick. But I missed it. I left her in the Tower, unconscious for her friends to find. I skipped away, oblivious, with my silly toy, confident we would have many adventures ahead of us.
Six months later she was dead. The sickness took her so fast, and she hid it from everyone. Even me. I thought I would have all the time to say goodbye. I thought she would die in my arms, but her body rebelled against her, and denied me.