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

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

 

Part 4

"Really?"  There was surprise in Joe's voice.   

Richie had been wanting to talk to Joe.  To apologize, but he'd felt too ashamed to make the first move.  Now he wished he had.  Joe was a good friend and he needed those right now.

"Yes, Joe."  Richie took a deep breath.  "I'm sorry."

"I know, Rich."  Joe tried his best for his voice not to break, but he wasn't successful.  A private smile appeared on both their faces.

"What's up, Joe," Richie asked, his voice back to his normal cheery tone.

"I have good news and bad news."  Joe waited for Richie to respond, but when nothing was forthcoming he went on and said what he had to in one breath. "Adam Pierson has found Duncan and he's trying to help him.  He's in France. He boarded a freighter headed for Le Havre."

Silence.  The tension was felt over the phone lines.

"Is he...  Is he all right, Dawson?" Richie's voice trembled.

"No.  Pierson found him stumbling out of someone's house.  They'd shot him several times.  That's all I know right now.  If he...  *When* he gets back to normal, I'll call you."

"Thanks, Dawson."  Richie heard the phone click and the dial tone rang in his ear.  He stood paralyzed.  His mind frozen on the fact that Duncan had been found, but he wasn't okay yet.  Mary moved in his arm and he remembered he held her.  He immediately went to the nursery and laid her in her crib. Richie walked out of house onto the porch.  Set the baby speaker close to him and sat in a corner of the porch.  His legs drawn to his chest, his arms wrapped tightly against them.   The emotions playing in Richie's heart was overwhelming.  He felt scared and excited at the same time.  He was glad Mac had been found.  So why did he feel so frightened?

*****

The next morning, Richie sat at the breakfast table in Anne's kitchen looking out into the backyard.  Duncan had mentioned to him he wanted to build a play ground for Mary and would start on it next summer.   A lot had been said between them as Duncan rebuilt the house.

"Earth to Richie.  Come in Richie."  

Anne was waving her hands in front of his face and Richie jerked up and smiled bashfully, his cheeks a little pink.

"Sorry, Anne.  But..."

"...your mind was elsewhere.  I know, I know.   Must be something only reserved for immortals, huh?"  Anne smile when Richie chuckled at her joke. "So what happens now.  We wait?"

"That's all we can do."

"How about if we do our waiting somewhere else?"

"Joe will need to get a hold of us immediately if news about Duncan arrives!"

"That's why I never leave home without my cell phone, Richie.  Joe has the number and we won't miss his call."  Anne walked over to Richie and squeezed his shoulder.  He smiled up at her and nodded.

"What did you have in mind?"

"A place where a screaming baby won't be a disturbance," Anne said.  "I was thinking the Fair at Dumbar Street?"

Richie's smile broadened.  He hadn't been on a Ferris Wheel in ages.  "Sounds like fun.  Where do I sign up!"

*****

"Yes, Joe," Anne said excitedly into the phone.  "I'll let him know. Thanks."  Anne rushed toward the backdoor, the phone still in her hand. "Richie!"   She ran out the kitchen door into the backyard.  Richie was in the garage, working on his bike.  He had grease stains on his hands and he wiped them on his jeans.  He rushed to the house, hearing Anne's voice calling for him urgently.  He was scared something terrible had happened.

Richie turned the corner and collided with Anne.  Both had been moving rapidly and fell hard on the ground.  The phone fell out of Anne's hands and landed in a pile of mulch.  She stared at it dumbly, the smile never leaving her face.

"What's wrong, Anne.  Is Mary okay?" Richie asked concerned.  He got to his feet and pulled Anne up.  Anne nodded her head.  "There *is* something wrong!" he said alarmed.

"No, Richie.  Joe just called."   

Richie's mind went blank.  It had to be bad news.  Duncan was dead.   Anne grabbed Richie's shoulders and shook him gently.  "It's Duncan.   He's okay. He's okay."

Anne was laughing and crying.  Richie was in a daze.  He couldn't believe it.

"Mac's back to himself again?"

"Yes!  Joe said he was okay.  He'd spoken with him briefly and he was doing fine."

Richie smiled brightly and hugged Anne.  He could feel the tears roll down his cheek.  He felt relieved.   It was over.   The nightmare had just ended. Everything would be back to how it used to be.  For the first time in weeks, Richie felt an easiness sink into his heart.  All the tension he'd felt was gone.  And now he was filled with an anticipation, and expectancy of seeing Mac again when he returned to Seacover.  The first thing he would do is give Mac a bear hug.  He missed him terribly.  Soon his family would be back together.

*****

Richie paced back and forth at the Loft.  Three weeks had passed and he hadn't heard a word from Duncan.  He thought Mac would be back already, explained what happened and that he never truly meant to hurt him.  But he had heard nothing.  Nothing!    

At first he'd waited by the phone, waiting expectantly.  After three days, he stopped, but would check the line occasionally to make sure it was still working.  Richie would take Duncan's portable phone with him to the Dojo as he practiced and trained.  But still no call.  After the second week he began to worry.  What if Duncan had met an immortal who was better and faster than him?  He had to know what was wrong.  He could wait no longer.  He picked up the phone and dialed Joe's bar.

"Joe's"

Richie sent up a silent prayer that Joe had answered.  "Joe.  It's Richie."

"Hey, Rich.  How are you?"

"I've been better."

Dawson heard the strain in Richie's voice and grew concerned.  "What's wrong."

"I was hoping you'd tell me."

Dawson's brow furrowed.  "I'm sorry, Rich.  You lost me there."

"It's about Mac.  I thought you said he was okay.  Back to his old self?"

"That's true, Richie," Dawson said, curious as to why Richie would ask.

"Do you know where he is?"  Richie held his breath.  He wasn't too sure he wanted to hear this, but needed to know.

"Yeah, Rich.  He's in Russia with Amanda, touring with a Circus."

The senses in Richie's body left him and he collapsed to the floor.  "He's where?" he whispered, not sure he heard Dawson correctly.

"Amanda joined a Circus and Duncan is touring with her as part of her act," Joe said, chuckling.

Richie's sanity snapped.  "The circus!!!   Duncan is in a *Circus* with Amanda?!?!"   The fury that gripped Richie was like a tornado ripping across the land, tearing everything in its path.  Richie leapt from the floor and without another word to Joe yanked the phone off the wall and pulled the cord out of the socket.   

Richie smashed the phone against the wall until it shattered apart, the shards cutting into his palms.  He didn't feel the pain.  He whirled around and stared at the loft.  His eyes blazed with a blinding anger, the likes he'd never felt before.  He'd purposely stayed at the loft and kept it clean so that when Mac returned he'd would find it the way he'd left it.  He'd waited patiently for a phone call from Mac.  Waited for him to return and make it all better.  But no.  Duncan was touring in a circus with Amanda!  He hadn't even the forethought to place a call to him to apologize for what had happened.

What Richie felt now, a deep rupture in his heart, was worse that what he'd felt when Duncan had attacked him at the Dojo five weeks ago.  Possessed by the new anger inside him, Richie trashed the loft, tears streaming down his face, his body shaking from the rage within him.  Richie was on his hands and knees staring at the disaster before him.  His eyes fixed on a broken portrait on the floor.  It was a picture of him and Mac taken by Joe at a fishing trip earlier in the year.  Richie was holding a large fish he'd caught and both he and Mac had huge grins on their faces.  Richie reached for the photograph and ripped it apart.  He got to his feet, went out the door, mounted his bike and took off.

*****  

Anne set Richie's plate in the microwave and began to clean up the remainder of the dinner dishes.  When he hadn't shown up for dinner, she began to worry about him.  He was never late for supper and he was already two hours late. She didn't want to think of the possibilities his tardiness implied so she busied herself with cleaning.

The whistling of the doorbell in the quiet house made Anne jump and she dropped the glasses she was putting in the dishwasher.  It couldn't be Richie because he had a key.  Who could it be at this hour?  she wondered.

Anne walked to the door hurriedly and peeped out the spy hole.  Her knees weakened when she saw Joe.  She backed away from the door, took a deep breath and opened the door.

"Hello, Anne," Joe said, and entered.

"What brings you out here Joe?  Is something wrong with Duncan?"  Anne held a dishtowel in her hands and was wringing it over and over again, making it very tight.

"No.  It's about Richie."  Joe had his back to Anne.  He missed the fright that set in her eyes.  Her legs gave out and she sat down on the handle of the couch.

Joe turned to sit on the couch and became alarmed by the stricken look on Anne's face.  "What's wrong, Anne?"

"Richie's dead isn't he?  That's why he didn't come home tonight.  Is that why you're here?"  Anne now wrapped and unwrapped the dishtowel around her hand.

"No, Anne.  I came to ask you where Richie was?"

Anne narrowed her gaze on Joe.  "You don't know *where* he is?  Don't all immortals have watchers assigned to them?"

Joe sighed.  He'd never assigned a watcher to Richie.  "No, Anne.   I kept Richie's watcher chronicle.  I went to his apartment looking for him but I got no answer, so I came here."

"Richie hasn't been back to his apartment since the accident.  He's either stayed at the Loft or here with me."  Anne stood and went to stand next to Joe.  "Is Richie okay?"

"I don't know.  He called me to ask about Duncan and when I told him that Duncan and Amanda were touring in a circus in Russia...."

End of Part 4
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