"Is everything all right?"
"Of course, why wouldn't it be?" he deflected with ease.
It surprised him sometimes how easily she could read him. She seemed to know the moment his mood changed. Even when she didn't comment on it, he could see the unspoken questions lingering in her eyes when she looked at him.
She shrugged her shoulders lightly in response to his question and turned back to the food she was preparing, "I don't know. You just seem quiet today."
He painted on a smile and slid the pile of chopped vegetables on the wooden plank in front of him into her bowl. He'd been preoccupied all morning with trying to piece together the fragmented memories that kept coming to him without rhyme or reason. He could only remember pieces of his former life, snapshots of fleeting moments that seemed to have no obvious connection.
His inauguration into the Wizard's Guard. Being handed a ceremonial sword that was polished to a mirror finish. Looking around at the burnt corpses strewn by the side of the road near Nimbo. A young boy, laughing as he chased him down the street. A simple home sitting atop a hill in the countryside. The memories of his former life came without warning and he'd spent countless hours since trying to decipher them, desperate for even a grain of truth or recognition.
The memories were becoming steadily darker as well, filled with death and violence. They bled into his dreams, waking him in the middle of the night to the feeling of a chest gripped tight with panic. In those moments he'd look down at Dorothy's head lying trustingly against his chest and slowly feel his shallow, rapid breaths return to normal. Her presence comforted him in a way nothing else could, but with each nightmare his worries over the danger he posed to her rooted themselves deeper in his mind. Perhaps it was better not to know too much about the man he'd been before. A man with that much death and violence in his past couldn't be trusted.
"I'm fine," he assured her, careful to keep his tone neutral. "Don't you ever have quiet days?"
She smiled as her cheeks flushed with embarrassment, "Of course. Everyone does. Sorry, I wasn't trying to pry…"
"Pry all you like," he urged and gestured with the knife in his hand at his head. "There's not much up there to find."
Dorothy rolled her eyes and struggled to bite back a smile, "Your memories will come back someday. These things take time."
His knife sliced cleanly through an apple, cutting it in half before he paused, "And what if I don't want to remember?"
Her hand stopped stirring and she looked up at him, "Why wouldn't you want to remember?"
He lowered his eyes to focus on his hands, watching as they moved steadily to make even cuts through the apple's flesh, "Maybe there are things in my past that are best left forgotten."
Memories flashed through his mind, taking him away from the warm kitchen they stood in to somewhere darker, someplace he had no desire to be. He saw the charred bodies, heard the screams.
"Who knows what I did as a Wizard's Guard," he said gravely. "That apothecary seemed to think we were all butchers. Maybe I was. Maybe I was one of the guards who helped burn Nimbo to the ground…"
"I don't believe that," Dorothy insisted, her gaze fixed sharply on him. "Lucas, for all we know you were up on that post because you refused to follow the Wizard's orders. Maybe you went to Nimbo to help those people and got punished right along with them."
He shook his head and set his knife down before lifting his eyes to hers, "I could be dangerous, Dorothy. I could wake up one morning a different person. I could hurt you."
She responded with an exasperated sigh and resumed stirring the contents of her bowl.
"You're not dangerous," she insisted with a shake of her head. "At least not to me. You've protected me since the day we met."
"But the old me-" he pressed, determined to make her understand the risk he posed.
Dorothy didn't give him a chance to finish, "I'm not afraid of your past, Lucas. Something in that past led you to become the man you are today, so it can't be all bad."
He could do little else but nod, having no desire to continue arguing with her over something that hadn't happened just yet.
He wanted to tell her. Each time he remembered a fragment from his old life there was a part of him that instantly wished to share it with her. Like his name. He'd remembered his name some time ago. Roan. It'd come back to him without any real warning. He'd woken up one morning and just known it to be his. But he hadn't told her. And the longer he thought about it the clearer his decision became to never tell her.
Lucas had grown on him, mostly because the liked the way it sounded on her lips. Lucas was home. Lucas some someplace she felt safe, a place that made her smile whenever she spoke of it. Lucas was a name free of any blood or death. So Lucas he would remain.
He wanted to tell her about the nightmare that'd torn him from sleep in the predawn hours, too, but he didn't dare. Instead he focused on the mundane task of chopping apples and tried to block out any memory of it. The flashbacks came anyway one after the other, vivid, painfully real, and demanding of his attention.
It started with him staring at his drawn sword, its blade gleaming in the sunlight. He'd looked up from his reflection in its polished steel to see Dorothy standing in front of him. She looked upset, terrified even. He turned, searching for the source of her fear, determined to destroy it, but saw nothing. They were alone, she and him.
He took a step towards her and she took a quick step back. Was it him she was afraid of?
"I didn't know," she told him with tears in her eyes. "You have to believe me – I didn't know!"
What was she talking about? What didn't she know? He heard his feet drag closer to her across the dry earth and the sound of her surprised cry as his sword pierced her flesh.
"Bloody witch," he snarled in her face before withdrawing his blade.
He'd woken up with a start to find his hands trembling and his chest tight with panic. He'd dreamt of killing her, sliding his sword right through her chest just like he'd done to that old woman. In the dream he hadn't even hesitated, and that was the part that terrified him the most. Somewhere buried deep inside of him could be a hatred for witches strong enough that he might one day kill his Dorothy over it.
He glanced up at her sweet face. She was smiling as she softly hummed a tune he didn't recognize. He vowed then never to tell her about the dream. To think that he could ever hurt her made his stomach turn. She was too important to him, too special. But all the same, he couldn't take the chance that she would look at him differently if she knew.
It was better not to remember, better not to know that dark and dangerous truth. He preferred this life where his only purpose was to protect her. There was no crisis of conscience associated with that choice. Protecting Dorothy with his life was a blissfully uncomplicated decision. He would do whatever it took to keep her safe for as long as she remained in Oz. Even if it meant protecting her from his old self.
He stepped round to Dorothy's side of the table to slide the pieces of chopped apple into her bowl. When he was finished she turned into him and grabbed hold of his shirt to stop him from leaving.
"You know I trust you, right?"
He nodded and set the wooden plank atop the table so his hand could slide down her back, "Sure."
"I wouldn't have made it this far in Oz without you, Lucas. I trust you with my life, and that's a big step for me." He smiled as his hands settled around her waist and drew her a little closer. She went willingly but held off his kiss with a shake of her head.
"I'm not used to letting people in, but it feels different with you. Nothing you tell me about your old life is going to change that, okay?"
"You can't say that for sure," he replied, his eyes searching hers for any hint of the terror he'd seen in them in his dream. He found none and exhaled an inward sigh of relief.
"Yes, I can," she said just as stubbornly. "I think we were meant to meet here, in Oz. I've felt it since that first day." She hesitated and kept her gaze frustratingly fixated on his shirt.
"You and I…," she added in time, her voice softer than before, "it's important to me. The past is the past. That man isn't who you are anymore. The man you are now is who matters and the man you are now is someone I…I care for a great deal."
His mouth stretched into a wide grin, the light of it reaching his eyes as he looked down at the top of her head. His finger slid along the underside of her jaw, tilting her face up to his, "Is that so?"
A teasing smile pulled up one corner of her mouth, "Yeah, it is."
"Well, all right then."
"Glad you're finally listening to reason," she added, delivering one final parting shot as he leaned in closer.
A soft 'mm-hmm' sounded in his throat just before his lips touched hers. The kiss was gentle and sweet, her mouth soft and pliant beneath his. This was all he wanted in whatever was left of his life. This closeness, this intimacy, a small house on a hill with quiet days spent talking and making meals together.
He wanted all of that and more. He didn't know if it was possible, but when she held him like this he didn't care. His hands cupped her face and as his lips tasted hers he felt his earlier fear and anxiety slip away. The images from his dreams faded, along with the violent snapshots of his past. For the moment at least, he was content to be consumed by her and all the promise contained in her kiss of what his life could be by her side.
Author's Note: A little less angsty than "There's No Place Like Home". I hope you guys liked it! I'm really feeling domestic Lucas & Dorothy right now. This show is going to kill us with these two, isn't it?