Deslea R. Judd
Character/Pairing: Lucy, Duke
Rating: PG for dark themes.
Spoilers: Season 1.
Summary: The creature known in this time as Lucy Ripley prepares for the circle to close.
Disclaimer: Characters not mine. Interpretation mine.
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Lucy Ripley gazed down at the body before her. The boy who would be forever known as The Colorado Kid stared back.
They had done this before.
She hadn't known it before. It was her destiny, she thought, to know as the cycle of this place came to its bloody close. Perhaps it was her knowing as much as anything that brought it to a close.
A few times a century, she thought, Haven let go of its bounds. A controlled release of the pressure valve that was this town. Haven was crack in the seams of the earth, a necessary one formed from the depths of a creation too vast to be contained in its own space. It was a fault line that protected the world as much as it threatened it, pushing out power and magic like some long-dormant volcano, then pulling it back before the earth was swallowed whole.
And for a few brief moments the creature known in this time as Lucy Ripley would know, just as the creature known as The Colorado Kid in this time would know, and would end it. He would take the pent up power of the earth into himself, accept its unleashed fury and tame it with his surrender, and the cycle would end. Haven would be protected by the magic of his sacrifice, sometimes for two decades, sometimes three or four.
The troubles, they called it. Her power - it was no trouble - was to calm the troubled. His was to calm the trouble itself. They were creatures of the earth, these two, kindred spirits whose endless cycle mirrored Haven's.
The creature known in this time as Lucy Ripley gazed out over Haven. Her home, the earth from which she came. She felt no bitterness about the troubles, or what it cost either of them. She felt only great love for the earth and the people and the water and the air. This place was at the heart of her; she could no more hate it than an imperfect lover or a childhood home with a few loose boards. It was part of her and it was what it was, and she was what she was, and the two could not be separated and keep any meaning at all.
Dimly, she became aware that there were others with her. That kid Duke. His babysitter Vanessa. A photographer. Gasping. Taking pictures. Vanessa was crying.
They seemed very remote.
She had to go. Suddenly she knew how Lucy Ripley's story ended, and she was glad of it. Glad to let go of the knowledge, and of the troubles. Not because she begrudged it, any of it, but because it was time. She was glad to rest while she could. While Haven was safe.
Duke Crocker was beside her, and she could smell the decay on him. Cancer, she thought with more than a trace of pity. No one seemed to have noticed. He would be dead in a year, this one. A funny boy, smart and wily and sneaky yet somehow good beneath it all. A kid who'd bully someone one day and save their life the next.
And then she knew what came next. Her final healing in this troubled town. It came with a price, but somehow she didn't think he'd mind.
"Come on," she said softly. "Let's close his eyes."
Duke stared up at her. Wide eyed. "Don't the cops, y'know, do stuff? They'll be pissed off that we touched him."
"Some things are more important." She was impressed that he didn't flinch at the idea of touching the dead. A pragmatist, this one. He would complement her well next time she passed this way.
They knelt beside The Colorado Kid. And Duke looked into those glassy eyes.
She felt the knowledge pass through him, carried on the air. He jolted visibly. Paled. Gulped as he grasped his own inevitable demise, and his reprieve, and what it would cost.
"Oh!" he hissed. He did it softly.
Lucy waited while it sank in. Gripped his shoulder gently, through the eternity that passed in only a minute or two on her watch. But a minute or two means less than nothing to the human mind as its stretches its grasp of reality.
"Do you accept?" she whispered. "You will have your life and do great good with it."
He couldn't take his eyes off The Colorado Kid. The atrocities inflicted on him. The violence unleashed on his prone form. "And lose it like him."
He was wise, this one, and brave, despite his age. Not only did he deserve the truth, he genuinely wanted it. She wondered how many times he had asked and she had answered. "Yes. In the end, you will lose it like him." Then, more gently, "We all die, Duke. It's only a question of when and how, and what we do along the way."
He swallowed hard. Then, solemnly, he nodded. "All right."
Lucy said kindly, "You won't remember. Wait until I go, then look into his eyes. You'll still be you, but you'll be...you'll be more than you."
He stared up at her in alarm. "Go?" he echoed.
"We all die," she said again. Willed him to feel it and understand it.
For the first time, his bravery seemed truly shaken. "You came to help everyone else, but you won't help me?" he demanded. Very near tears. It reminded her that he was still a boy - a boy who had just been handed one death sentence and traded it for another.
And then she knew the last thing she had to do.
She took off her locket and placed it around his neck. Joined the fastener. The catch in her throat was sudden and overwhelming, like swooning with sudden heartbreak. In that moment he was her child and her partner and her friend and the other half of her soul. A moment of possibilities and potential, a glimmer of a future that neither Lucy Ripley nor *this* Duke Crocker would ever see. In a very real sense, the people who would see that future and live it had not yet been born.
She kissed his forehead. "I'll always be with you, Duke."
He stared at her. Nodded.
She released him with utmost reluctance, and she walked into the water without a backward glance, until it swallowed her whole.
They found her in a burnt-out squat.
She was born violently, thrust out spontaneously as her teenaged mother drew her final breaths. It was a vicious entry to the world. She landed alone onto concrete, her first breaths smoke, the taste of ash in her mouth, her nameless mother's flesh already limp and dead.
But her eyes were thoughtful and contemplative, and somehow they brought peace to all who attended the grisly scene. Somehow, in the face of all indications to the contrary, they believed that whatever happened to her, this one orphan would be well, and at peace, and bring peace to others.
She went to a Catholic orphanage, and the nuns said she was special. She wanted nothing, asked for nothing, was everyone's friend and did not seek friendship for herself. Like them, she belonged to everyone, and to no one.
She belonged to the world.
The creature known in this time as Audrey Parker knew nothing, but the circle began once more.