Characters: Lucas, Agnes (mine)
Rating: R (disturbing imagery)
Disclaimer: Agnes is mine, but not Lucas or Trinity itself.
Teaser: Responsibility starts at an early age.
Notes: My gift to someone at a holiday exchange. I set out to create something Lucas/Selena but instead Lucas started talking and I've found the hard way, he doesn't talk too much willingly - so my attempt to write something slightly smutty with some Lucas/Selena history twisted into something dark and Lucas-centric, a history lesson of sorts, which will fit neatly into the larger fic I'm currently writing in regards to Lucas before he was the badass evul sheriff of Trinity. By the way, I subscribe to the theory that, although Lucas does age, he ages more gracefully than most people do - not nearly immortal, but his shelf life is better than most other people's.
Lucas is by no means a lonely boy.
He's born a solitary creature, calm-eyed and quiet, watching everything as if it's all important even if he isn't sure how yet. He likes the attention he gets but he refuses to go out of his way to attract any, as if too good to ask for it. His quirks develop further as the years tick by, sink in more deeply but still...
Still, the only one with him is his mother, and while his father comes by sometimes, he never dares to stay very long, not with Agnes breathing down his neck. Agnes is beautiful, dark-haired and dark-eyed, has a smile that could tear out a man's throat— the whole town knows that Buck made a mistake when he decided she would be the best mother for his boy, and while nobody's stupid enough to rub the older man's face in it, nobody has quite the same kind of respect for him.
Mother and son are left in peace, and when the boy heads into town every month to get whatever Agnes may need to handle daily life (and everything else she does that everybody knows about but nobody talks about because whispering behind somebody's back is wrong, that's what Buck always says) nobody's ever stupid enough to touch a hair on the boy's head—
That's like signing your own damn death warrant, that's what that is.
For the older Buck's part, life is becoming unnervingly unbalanced in too many ways— once he'd been sure that the day would come when the boy would be his, cut and dried, but now he's not too sure. He'd bred Agnes based on power, on her sharp intelligence, and that had been his mistake— if he had been smart he'd have found a stupid girl, searched a bit instead of making a greedy beeline for the so-called crazy woman out in the woods.
Yet, for all of Buck's irritation in trying to deal with the woman that had born his only son without going insane in the process (and didn't that alone speak of how damn strong the woman is, that she isn't some gibbering idiot?) Agnes is his match.
It's never a good thing when a Buck finds his match— there's always a good bit of bloodshed before it goes quiet again.
Still, it's always entertaining.
When Lucas is six, he carries a puppy back home, his father following him up the front steps and into the house.
Agnes, coming down the stairs, pauses half-way to meet Buck's eyes above the boy's head, a silent battle of wills that the boy is already dignified enough not to interrupt. The silence is dark and heavy and while the boy is patient, still, understands it after six years of it happening every time the two entered the same space, the puppy whines, a ball of dark fur twisting in small arms.
He shifts the puppy hurriedly, waits, and finally breathes a sigh of relief when both his mother and his father relax, deciding that a truce would be best instead of tearing down the damn house and possibly burying the boy under thousands of pounds of wood and stone.
They always decide that, at least until the very end.
But the end isn't there yet, won't be there until the boy's finally a man with a fever burning in his veins and he understands the truth of everything, until he understands that his power and his intelligence come from two very different places and that he's something very new on a very old path, a very special new something.
Understands what so many people never do— understands why he's there.
Today, though, he's a boy with a puppy in his arms and his parents have come to their usual silent truce.
"What the hell is that thing?"
"It's a puppy, Agnes."
Her teeth click together as she swivels her head around, a serpentine movement that makes a vein in Buck's temple twitch in warning, uneasy as he always is at how the damn woman moves. "I know what it is, Buck."
"Well, it's his dog," he smiles sweetly, and she makes a face, settling a chilly look on her child.
"I told you no dogs, Lucas."
"But he needs me," the boy sputters, and holds the puppy up brightly to let his mother look at him.
When the poor thing whines and twists in an attempt to get away, he quickly lowers the dog again, clearing his throat and shifting to his other foot as he holds the ball of fur close to his chest. "Pa got him for me," he adds flatly, relieved when his mother whips her head around again, gazing at the older Buck with wordless disgust.
"I told him no dogs."
"A boy's best friend is his dog—"
Agnes hesitates, goes still as she flicks a long glance at her child, takes him in and studies him.
Her boy's smart already, achingly smart, but he's still a boy and this proves it.
A moment later, she understands and comes to her decision, tilting her head back to smile up at her son's father. "Maybe you're right," she admits in a long sigh, amused at the way Buck's grin falters, knowing immediately that she's once again slipped between his fingers and is leading the boy along behind her on a leash. "Maybe he does need a dog, for companionship, of course…"
"Of course," he agrees warily, and Lucas swings his eyes between mother and father, unnerved for a moment.
But he has his dog, so he doesn't think too much about it.
Buck is unnerved, but can't take it back.
He goes back to his house and sulks for several days, aware of the fact that he should have bred a stupid woman.
If the damn mother was out of the picture, he wouldn't be having these problems.
Agnes teaches her only son his first real lesson about responsibility.
When his mother comes in to find him eating his dinner one night, the puppy's scratching at the back door.
Pausing in the doorway to the kitchen, she puts down her basket and stares hard at the door where the whines are coming through, finally tilting her head around to narrow her eyes warningly at her son. "Why is that thing still whining?"
"I think he's hungry," the boy explains quietly, even as he drops his gaze, stares hard at his food, curling his fingers around his plate protectively.
"Why is he still hungry?"
He tugs the plate closer, curving a hand around the plate, fingers gripping it tightly.
"He can go one night without food, mama—"
His mother just stares at him, and he falters the way his father always does, shoulders dropping as he slipped out of his chair. "How much do you want me to give him, mama?"
"See how much he wants," she orders and he obediently drops his plate to the floor, knowing better than to bring up how ridiculous it is to waste good food on some animal when his mother's like this. Trudging to the back door, he opens it and steps back, watches with a scowl as his puppy scrambles and proceeds to devour his food, every last bit of it.
"It's your dog, Lucas, so it's your responsibility."
"But it's just a dog, mama…"
"I can get rid of it if it's just a dog," she says softly, and he snaps his mouth shut, rattled.
Agnes likes the dark; she likes the quiet noises around her as Lucas sleeps and she can pretend that he's just a boy.
Most nights, she sits out on the front porch and closes her eyes to relax.
Tonight is no different and she hears his footsteps in the distance long before most people would, silently tracks him towards her home; smirks when they stop close by, and finally opens her eyes to find him standing on the dirt before the porch, glaring at her as if she's stolen his favorite toy.
"You do realize this is my town, don't you, Agnes?"
"I was here first, long before your daddy was." She pauses, cocks her eyebrow smugly. "You keep forgetting that."
Nothing he can say to that— so he moves up the steps, leans back against the railing to give her a long lazy perusal.
"You're going to have to accept that he's going to be mine in the end… you do know that, don't you, Agnes?"
She can't help it; she smiles against the words, drops her head back and closes her eyes, endlessly amused.
"You hear that?"
"Listen," she tells him softly, and he obeys, going still as he finally picks up the quiet whines of some miserable animal. He stands there for a long moment listening to the sounds, pathetic little noises, staring at his son's mother—
And finally realizes where the damn noises are coming from.
"I'm teaching our son about responsibility," she explains shortly, reaching up to tuck dark hair behind one ear, smiling slightly at the way his eyes follow the movement helplessly.
She wonders if he realizes how easy it would be to get rid of him but, no—
There are still a few more years to wait.
Agnes is a patient woman.
Lucas learns his second lesson about responsibility (although it's far from his last) when, two months after he brings it home, the puppy catches something.
He never finds out exactly what it is his healthy young dog catches (although as he gets older, a part of him finally understands) but it's vicious, attacks the puppy's joints until he can't walk, suffering in constant pain, leaves him to whine on the back porch all night long, a still shape in the shadows.
For a week, he tries everything he can think of, and finally slinks to his mother, bracing himself.
"What do you want me to do?"
"Help me," he mutters, digging bare toes into the kitchen floor awkwardly.
"Dog's dying, Lucas, I can't change that."
"But, maybe…" He hesitates, grimaces, finally stares up at his mother. "Maybe you can… help him?"
"It's just a dog—"
"Mama…" and she puts down the jar she's filling, sighing as she slips out the back door to do a quick study of the puppy, check his eyes and paws and he won't understand until later that there's no urgency in her movements.
"This poor thing's suffering, Lucas."
"I know—" and he goes quiet because his mother's staring at him and he suddenly understands. "Oh…"
"We can break his spine right up here," she continues absently, skilled fingers probing absently at the back of the dog's neck, and he swallows at the thought, at what sound it would probably make. "It would be quick, put the poor thing out of his misery, good and clean…"
"You gonna let him suffer, Lucas? Lie here all day and suffer?"
"No," and while most parents would have been disturbed at the lack of hesitation, it makes Agnes smile slightly as she stands up straight, wipes her hands lightly across her dress. Takes in her child for a long moment and gives into the sudden flash of pity, reaching out to swipe the back of her fingers lightly across his face. She's no fool, knows what his future holds, but now he's a child and she's his mother.
Besides, he's learned his lesson, so she can be easy on him now.
"I'll go get something we can slip in his food," she sighs, and heads back into the house, to the cabinet high in the corner, opening it carefully and peering through bottles, finally selecting one farther in the back. Takes it out with her along with a bit of food, helps Lucas prepare the dog's last meal.
Finally backs away and settles on the steps to give him a few final moments with his pet.
"How long will it take?" he asks when he wanders over, face pale but calm in a way that would have unsettled anyone else.
"Not too long," she says lightly, allowing him to settle on the back steps beside her. "He won't feel anything."
"I'm going to miss him," and already, though still a child, he's rarely this honest with anyone, knows how stupid it is to be truly honest, how dangerous it is to hand someone else that power.
"You'll get by," and she brushes her fingers lazily through his hair.
It's okay, he tells himself as he watches his only son bury the puppy with a calm kind of steadiness. It's okay, because men like him have all the time in the world, that's the whole damn point of all of this...
He'd been stupid, had dismissed Agnes' intelligence and seen just all that power, seen more for his son, for himself, and had been determined to get it. He had, and he finally had what he needed, strong son with him running through his veins.
Buck had never been one for history lessons and yet...
He turns away now, leaves his son with Agnes, dully acknowledging defeat yet again, something like a tight panic beginning to brew in the pit of his belly. Panic, and a severely unsettling suspicion.
No, he doesn't have all the time in the world, not anymore - Agnes does.