Disclaimer: Joss Whedon, et al., Alan Ball, and Sam Mendes own nearly all. The Sixth Sense, which is mentioned, belongs to M. Night Shyamalan. Woe. I do own Charlotte.
Summary: She'd died on Ricky's bedroom floor and they never spoke about it, at his father's vehement insistence.
Notes: This is something that has always bothered me about Ricky's past, so I decided to explore it.
Ricky lied when he said he'd never known anyone who'd died.
It wasn't anything he'd intended to do but despite outward appearance he did have a sense of self-preservation. So he didn't tell her about Charlotte about what had happened to his older sister or how his family had fallen apart - not at first. She never asked where he'd lived before, or where he'd been born, so he'd never told her. His mother had taught him that rule since he could talk and breaking it honestly didn't occur to him.
It wasn't just the usual impossibility of being a military family and avoiding death wrapped around them like a heavy cloak on a hot summer day, weighing them down, pulling the life from them as they soldiered on.
Everybody soldiered on, got used to it. Death was as normal as brushing your teeth, tying your shoes.
Death was the neighbor around the corner that nobody ever wanted to come visit - though sometimes Death was purposely visited.
This strictly, even more than the Rule, was never talked about. Rope was rope, guns and shells, clips - a high cliff you weren't supposed to leap off of, but some traipsed its edge anyway, hoping, needing to lose their footing.
Their pain would end and that of everyone around them would begin.
Ricky could never figure out if he felt they were selfish or just being true to themselves. He could see both sides of the fence, whether he wanted to or not.
Felt their pain so acutely he needed to leave, escape. Following them was never his answer.
It would be years before he figured out what could be. What was.
But Death was...a living, breathing swirl - the most gruesome (sometimes comforting) game of Tag you could imagine. It was inexplicable. It ran through his veins, tainting (clarifying) his blood - his vision.
Death was God looking right at you, he knew. Or the Devil. He never knew at first if he was brave enough to look back without letting it grab him. The lullaby was enticing, he'd never deny that.
But life was louder, always calling him back, reminding him of splendor and joy and ecstasy and...contentment.
So in the end, the battle was over and Life always won. Always would, until his turn was his to take and not steal away.
Ricky may have been a criminal, but he wasn't a thief.
It wasn't just the usual watching someone in his class called up to the principal's office or somewhere else private to hear their father had died, their mother - odd cases, their aunt, uncle, cousin/legal guardian because their mother and father had already both died.
This was personal and stuck on him like a burr in his soul, the spikes clinging to his heart, digging deeper the harder he tried to yank them out.
This was watching his father harden further on the outside, his mother slip away into something, somewhere he couldn't - probably didn't want to - follow.
This was him alone.
She was ever only really lucid at night, her voice and mind coming back to her, the memories fading into the background.
They didn't speak of the Council or the Demon Research Initiative hand-picking his father to serve two masters. They didn't speak of those same people asking his sister to do the same.
He'd been the one she'd come to, covered in her own blood. Charlotte's grin had been maniacal, almost, her eyes becoming glassy as her life had slipped away under both their hands.
She'd died on Ricky's bedroom floor and they never spoke about it, at his father's vehement insistence.
Ricky wonders if his anger is more that she'd been taken away from them or that she'd put herself in that situation, as Frank believed it. She didn't follow the rules, didn't rely on the structure of her training, so she'd been killed.
Didn't Ricky see how easily that could happen?
Yes. Yes, he certainly did.
He liked to film living things, breathing, reveling in their prime. Filled with the warmth and ease of movement, the opposite of which he'd seen in his sister. The dead things, like the homeless woman, didn't usually have the same quality.
He always found it irresistible to see it in their eyes, their faces, when he found them.
The homeless woman, the look on Lester's own face as Ricky's eyes had locked onto the open expression, oddly happy in the event of his own demise. The opposite of everything Ricky had ever known.
He needs to film these things so he can remember that death doesn't always have to hurt. Sometimes it can be a release, an escape. He hopes it worked for them. He hopes his sister's pain was over in time.
He's never told Jane about growing up in Sunnydale, his father's assignment once he'd come back from Vietnam. Ricky's known about demons his entire life. They don't frighten him - he had the fear drained out of him a long time ago. He wonders if Charlotte took it with her.
He was nine years old when she'd died.
His mother had been the one to help him scrub her blood out of the hardwood floor of his room, the knees of his pajamas, the bend of her long skirt becoming soaked with soap and blood. The stains never completely went away, despite the cold of the water they were washed in, and his father forced him to throw them away.
Ricky fished them back out of the garbage that night, rinsed them with the garden hose and hid them in the backyard where the sun could dry them into a rigid, crispy shell.
He wonders sometimes if those old pajamas took his soul.
Jane asked Ricky about the hospital, too. He never mentioned meeting The Slayer there or knowing who she was or what she could do. He never mentioned watching them try to drug her into submission, his private glee when she threw off the shackles and bonds of the medication they injected her with, intramuscularly because she wouldn't submit to her captivity.
He remembers being filled with joy when he'd watched her leave after destroying the thing sucking the life out of all the patients. He remembers the last of his fear leaving then, too.
He thinks that's when he was free.
Ricky loves Slayers, mourns their short lives. He thinks Jane is a Potential, her power just under the surface, waiting to be unlocked. If he can coax some of it out, he'll feel he's done something to help God in His fight against the darkness.
He knows God and the Devil can't participate within the world so they have to send soldiers to do their work for them.
He tries to make sure he's on the right side.
He knows people like Angela think he's crazy, knows Jane thinks he's the strongest person she's ever met, but she's wrong.
He's the weak one, he knows. He clings to her, tries to help her, because it's all he can do.
He's not a Slayer, he's not anything other than a man.
He read in the paper a few days ago that his birthplace is now nothing but a sinkhole. They've filled it with water and called it Lake Sunnydale. He read that unexplainable events are now happening in Cleveland and that Los Angeles, while seemingly the obvious target, was left untouched. They were very wrong, but he was the only one who noticed the effervescent bubble that surrounded the city, trapping everyone there in a hell it seemed only he could see.
He doesn't know why and for once in his life, he doesn't care. Money doesn't matter when you can't penetrate the darkness to help those who need it. He hopes no one's starved to death or been ripped apart. He hopes whoever caused this is in as much pain as he is, as he knows his mother is and always will be.
He became angry, enraged, for the first time in so long, tearing the paper to shreds and grinning malevolently as he sprinkled the remains in the fireplace and watched them burn, the ink staining his fingers, the blood he knew was still on his knees, warming, burning. He was too close to the fire but he couldn't bring himself to move.
He finally sat back and rolled himself a joint, exhaling and watching his anger float to the ceiling. By the time Jane returned from the city to give him the various registration papers he'd ignored in the mail, he was no longer a roiling mass of rage. He can't attend another normal school in New England. They're filled with old death and new dead. If he'd written The Sixth Sense, he would have been more graphic; it would be more truthful, at any rate.
Jane thinks he's calm, thinks he's self-confident, strong. Some of this is true, he cannot deny, but most of it is not, in his opinion.
He wishes Jane could have met his sister. Then she would know what strong was. She's not used to her strength, not sure what she could possibly do with it, possibly be.
He thinks it's time for him to break The Rule, break his silence, be a Watcher for her since no one else will.
He's all she has and she, him.