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When The Bough Breaks - by Monica T Jordan
Copyright, May 1996.

Timeline:  This story takes place after "Something Wicked."

 

Part 2

Richie yanked the door opened and almost ran into Anne Lindsey and her baby.  Anne stood still, her hand in mid air, about to knock on the door.

"Hi Richie," she said, startled.  "On your way out?"  

"Yeah."  Richie gazed past Anne, he didn't trust himself to stare into her eyes.

"I won't keep you long.  I can't find Duncan.  Do you know where I could find him?"   

Richie's posture stiffened slightly when he heard Duncan's name.  "Mac's... gone," Richie replied flatly.

"Gone?"  

"Yes!  Gone...," Richie repeated, and blinked away tears.  "Look Anne.  I'd love to stay and chat... but gotta run."  Before Anne could answer, Richie went by her leaving her startled and speechless.  Richie bolted down the stairs and out the door.   

*****

Richie secured the backpack on his bike and threw his jacket on.  He felt the sword inside.  A sword a friend had given him.  A friend he no longer had.  Richie jumped on his bike and closed his eyes briefly.   Thoughts of his life in the last four years began to drift into his mind again.

~~~ Mac, Tessa and him going to the opera in Paris ~~~ Helping Mac mourn the passing of Darius ~~~ Being shot by a mugger ~~~ Losing the only woman he'd come to view as his mother ~~~ Waking up after his first death and staring numbly as Mac held Tessa's lifeless body in his arms ~~~ Mac sending him away after he took Mako's Quickening ~~~ Mac hugging him and welcoming him back into his life ~~~ Mac supporting his bike racing ambitions ~~~ Mac and him walking and kidding along a bridge to meet Coltec ~~~

Richie snapped out of his memories when the tapping on his shoulder and Anne's voice registered.  She stood next to him, a concerned look on her face.  Richie stared at her and at the baby she held tightly against her chest.  A thought of the woman he once thought his mother hit him hard.   Like a right hook to the jaw.  Anne touched his arm and Richie flinched away from her touch.   He gunned the engine and took off into the street.

He never saw the truck that hit him.  He only heard Anne's scream echo through his whole body before the world turned black.

*****    

"Thanks, Joe.  I don't know what I would have done without you."  Anne breathed and rubbed a sore spot on the left side of her neck, her eyes closed.

"Good thing you're a quick thinker, Anne."

Anne opened her eyes and smiled at Joe.  They sat in her living room on the sofa next to each other.  Anne reached over and tapped Joe's hand lightly, then she turned to look at Richie's body.  The injuries he had sustained from the accident would definitely kill anyone.  It *had* killed him, she thought.  But she also knew that Richie's immortality would bring him back.  Or so she hoped.

Anne had been confused by Richie's abruptness and followed him to his bike, and watched horrified as he was hit by a truck.  His slim body dragged along for several feet under the truck before it stopped.

The shaken truck driver had called 911 before he exited his rig and told Anne help was on the way.  Anne knew just by looking at Richie's body and how it was positioned and all the blood, that he would be pronounced dead at the scene and taken directly to the morgue.  She couldn't let that happen.  How would she sign out a dead body to her care?  With no time to spare, Anne got her cell phone and called Joe.   

Anne was amazed at how quickly Joe's people had intercepted the ambulance and brought Richie's body straight to her home.  She wanted Richie in familiar surroundings when he woke up.  Immortality.  People living forever?  The very idea perplexed her, her doctor's mind refusing to accept it.  But her bottomless curiosity made her thirst for more knowledge.  Anne's eyes were riveted on Richie's still body.  She was filled with too many questions, none of which she'll ever get answers for.

"Do you how long it takes them to..."  Anne paused, looking for the right words, never taking her eyes off Richie.

"No," Joe answered, smiling warmly at her.

"Duncan got shot once while I was with him in Paris. I saw the wound and was about to treat him... but it had already healed.  But this?" Anne waved her hand toward Richie.  His clothing mostly covered in blood.  "I'm not too sure about."

"I do know the more serious the injury, the longer it takes them to regenerate."   Joe waited for Anne to look at him, when she didn't he cleared his throat getting her attention.

Anne gazed at him, mouth slightly open.  "He sustained some pretty nasty injuries, Joe.  Broken bones in his legs and arms, head trauma, and probably internal bleeding..." Anne looked panicked.  "Are you sure about this Joe?"

Not counting Kirin, Anne had never witnessed an immortal come back from the dead.  And she didn't really count Kirin, because she didn't know at the time that he was immortal. Or knew immortals walked the earth.

Joe reached out for her hand and squeezed it gently.  "I'm sure, Anne."  He looked over to Richie and figured he'd be reviving soon.  "I think it be best if I go before he wakes."

Anne's heart began to beat double time.  She said the words but didn't mean them.  "If you must, Joe."

Joe stood, with Anne following.  "You'll do fine, Anne."

She nodded her head absently.  "About Duncan..."

Joe sighed heavily and the creases in his forehead deepened.  He didn't know how much he should tell her, but with Duncan out there in his current state, he had to tell her something.  "Anne...  Mac... isn't himself right now.  He's very dangerous at the moment and should be avoided."

"What?  Duncan wouldn't hurt a soul, Joe!"

"Yesterday he almost killed Richie and threatened my life."

Anne's eyes grew wide, her lips pressed tightly together, grim.  She was shaking her head refusing to believe what Joe had just told her.  Duncan was the kindest most gentlest man she'd ever had the pleasure of meeting.  "Joe you have to be mistaken..."

Joe wished he'd been mistaken, but he had witnessed Duncan attack a woman at the bar and later tried to take his student's head.  "No, Anne.  I had to shoot Duncan in order to save Richie..."  Joe paused watching Anne's face fill with worry.  He took both her hands and brought them to his chest and gazed intently into her eyes.  "I'll explain it all to you later, Anne.  Right now, take care of Richie.  He will need... a friend when he wakes."

"But..."   

Joe squeezed her hand tighter and glanced over at Richie's body.  "Call me?"

Anne nodded and watched Joe leave.  She turned her attention to Richie and sat next to him, hoping this immortality thing really worked for all kinds of death.

*****

A few hours later, Anne watched amazed as Richie gasped for air.  She watched him run his hands through his hair and sit up slowly.   He was taking deep breaths, and groaned when he exhaled.  She imagined he experience pain when he awoke from death.  Richie began to search around the place, and a surprised gasp escaped his mouth when he saw Anne.  Cautiously, Anne reached for his arm but he panicked and pulled away from her.  Anne jerked her hand back, setting it in her lap.

"Can I get you something?  I don't know what you do after something like this?"

Richie stood up too quickly from the sofa and fell back in groaning when he felt the incredible ache within him.  He vaguely remembered the truck, but he remembered being dragged under it.  He felt like he had put his body through a blender.  Anne sat quietly, staring.  After more deep breaths, Richie leaned forward and rested his elbows on his thighs, burying his head in his hands.

Several minutes were spent in silence, only the sound of Richie's breathing breaking it.   Anne was restless and wanted to help.  It was her doctor's instincts that made her unable to sit still while someone near her was in pain.   

"Richie?  Are you okay?"   Anne felt the question was stupid but asked anyway.   When Richie didn't respond, Anne touched his arm.  Richie flinched back from her touch and sprang from the sofa.

He should leave, he thought as he began to pace in the living room.

Anne watched him.  He resembled a circus tiger as it paced back and forth in it's locked cage, as kids taunted it.  Anne subconsciously wished Joe had stayed with her.  He seemed confident that Richie wouldn't harm her, so why did she feel afraid as she watched him?  He was usually so full of life.  Eager and ready for laughter.  His ready made smile always on his face would brighten the darkest of days.  The gleam she'd come to expect and love in his eyes wasn't there and it worried her.  Anne called to him several times before he snapped to attention.   

Richie glared at Anne.  She was seated on an ottoman, her eyes wide.  She looked like she was afraid.  Afraid of what?, he thought.  Dawson's scared eyes flashed before his and he felt shamed.  His face softened a bit watching her.  He needed to talk to someone about what had happened because not talking about it was eating him up.  He wished Tessa was here.  She always listened to him.  She would understand.  She would know what to do.  She always did.  

Anne's heart sank watching the emotional complexity running across Richie's face and felt empathy for him.  He looked so confused and hurt.   

"Richie.  Please talk to me.   I want to help you."

Richie felt the desperation those words meant.  Duncan had used those words when he first came to live with him and Tessa.  "I don't need anybody's help," Richie snapped.  "I can take care of myself."   

Anne was taken aback by the vehemence in the words, but his scared eyes dictated the opposite.  "I'm sure you can Richie.  I'm not questioning that," Anne said cautiously.  "What I want you to do is tell me what happened with Duncan."

Richie's face hardened and became unreadable.  His eyes became cold and it sent shivers through Anne's body.  She took a deep breath attempting to calm her nerves.  She'd never felt fear with Richie before and wouldn't now.   And just as suddenly as the anger had appeared, it disappeared.   

Anne watched as his shoulders sagged and his eyes watered.  She rushed to him when he began to collapse and they both fell to floor.  Richie stared at Anne, tears streaming down his cheeks.  Anne cradled his face and smiled.  His body started to shake and he bowed his head.  Anne hugged him when a sob escaped his lips and Richie wrapped his arms around her and began to cry out the pain.  A howl came from his lips that resided within the deep wound in his heart.  Anne held him tighter and was unable to stop her own tears as she listened to the agony that poured out from Richie's soul.

A cramp began to set in her legs but she didn't dare move.  Richie was still crying, deep racking coughs escaping his lips and it didn't seem that he planned to let up soon.  Anne began to rock him and say soothing words to him, trying to calm him through this desperate time.  Joe told her he had to shoot Duncan in order to save Richie.  Save Richie?, she thought.  Now she wondered at the depth of the attack.  Anne thought of the many abused children and women that came through her emergency room.  Many of them scarred for life.  But not from the physical wound which faded away with time, but from the wounds that lay below the surface.  The psychological wounds that never healed.

End of Part 2
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