It only takes a moment to realize that you can either get everything you ever wanted, or lose it all. Sometimes in that moment, you realize that regardless of the outcome, you will lose it all anyway. That was Duke Crocker's life. Regardless of the outcome that was pre-destined by his Trouble or by the tangled, screwy triangle between himself, Audrey Parker, and Nathan Wournos, Duke was destined to be on the receiving end of a whole lot of hurt and loss.
He was facing that now. How he always ended up in the same place as Nathan and Audrey, now, when they were dealing with a Trouble he had no idea. Bad luck, fate, whatever. His father would say it was his job now, to end the Troubles. It only meant becoming a murderer.
Duke didn't want to touch the Troubled anymore. Not if it meant his own taking him over and causing him to do things he had no control over. Despite what Nathan thought, or said, he wasn't his father. He didn't want this, didn't ask for it, and had no intentions of using it. If Nathan had half a brain and remembered, he would know that Duke didn't get drunk because he hated losing his senses and control over himself. His Trouble was like that, only much more intense. He hated it.
Now, however, he knew Nathan was thinking that Duke was doing exactly what his father said he would. Even as he felt the blade pull out of his belly, serrating flesh as it went, Duke knew that he couldn't kill this man unless he dared to attempt to kill Audrey again.
Which is how he ended up wrestling with a burly drunkard with a serrated hunting knife.
"She's just some stupid witch. Town don't need her," the man literally spit out at Duke as they wrestled. With his bloodied lip from the brawl he started in the street and the ensuing fight with Duke himself, the man's blood splattered onto Duke's skin. Duke had no idea what this man's Trouble was, but it didn't matter. The blood absorbed and his body loss control. Thrusting out a hand, the man went flying backwards.
"Duke!" Nathan shouted, anger lacing his tone. He ran over to where the man was stumbling to his feet, dazed from Duke's thrust.
"Duke." This time it was Audrey, only her voice wasn't angry, only wary. He lifted his head, looking at her through white eyes that slowly faded and he felt himself coming back.
"I'm-," Duke's eyes widened and he ran over to Audrey, putting himself in front of her. Pain washed over his face and he stiffened as he felt the sharp pain of the knife once again entering his body. Even if the wound to his gut hadn't been fatal, this one definitely was.
"Duke!" Audrey screamed. She collapsed as Duke fell against her. Her hand moved, shaking to his back where she felt the hilt of the knife protruding. Two gun shots rang out, but she didn't care as she focused on the man she cradled as they moved to the ground.
"God, no!" she said frantically. She looked up, frantically looking around. "NATHAN!"
Nathan ran over, skidding on the slick pavement. The Troubled man was moaning in pain, two bullets in him as he lay on the ground surrounded by other officers of Haven Police Department.
"Let me get-," Nathan started to say, reaching for the hilt.
"No!" Audrey said. "It could kill him if you do. Wait for the EMTs."
"Too late," Duke said, pain lacing his words.
"No, don't say that," Audrey said, stroking back his lengthened hair, moving to his cheek. "You're going to be fine..."
"He already did the damage needed," Duke got out, wincing as a new wave of pain hit.
"No, you-," Audrey started.
"Parker." Nathan's voice now sounded pained. He had started looking for ways to get Duke comfortable, parting the jacket he always wore and finding blood from the mortal wound at his abdomen.
"No," Audrey all but moaned, seeing it. "No, Duke, you can't..."
"It's okay," Duke said. "Was bound to happen, 'member?" He coughed a bit. "Just don't tell me if he had that tattoo on his arm, yeah?"
"Duke," Nathan started to say, his voice catching. Despite all their issues and past, they had been friends at one time. Perhaps still were despite all the pain and lies, the uncertainty after discovering Duke's Trouble and the obvious mutual feelings they had for one woman.
"Sorry it wasn't you who could do the deed, Nate," Duke said. "But I proved one thing... I'm not my father."
Nathan winced, his brow furrowing as he gripped Duke's thigh. When the man didn't react, he knew it was bad. He fell silent, allowing Duke to have his last moments with Audrey.
"Hey, promise me you'll be careful," Duke said, focusing on Audrey once more. "Won't be able to look out for-."
"Don't talk like that," Audrey said firmly. "You'll be around to keep me safe."
Duke's lips quirked. "Don't I wish," he said. "Even if some miracle happened for me to-." He hissed, his eyes squeezing shut as a muscle spasmed around his wounds. When he opened his eyes, he noticed things seemed darker.
"Easy," Audrey said. "Save your strength."
"You know it's no good," Duke said, his voice falling more to a whisper. "No miracles for me."
Tears slipped onto Audrey's cheeks. She shifted to hold Duke more, wincing as he moaned from the pain. She lowered her head, her arms supporting his upper body, until her forehead touch his. Her loose hair fell around their faces like a curtain.
"Stay with me," Audrey whispered. "Please. I can't lose you."
"Wish I could," Duke whispered back. "Just promise me..."
"Duke, please," Audrey said, her voice pained.
"I love you, Audrey," Duke whispered. "Promise me you'll be careful. You'll live. Prom..."
Audrey felt Duke's body slacken, life leaving him. A stubborn denial filled the pit of her belly even as she lifted her head.
"Duke," Audrey said.
"Parker," Nathan said.
"No," Audrey said, her tone firm. "No he's-."
"He's gone, Parker," Nathan said. He continued to grip Duke's cooling leg, the other hand moving to grip Audrey's arm. "Audrey, he's gone."
She said nothing, staring at Nathan with anguish clearly written on her face. She barely heard the sirens as the ambulance arrived. She saw, but didn't acknowledge, the arrival of the Teagues brothers and Dwight Hendrickson. She shifted her legs to sit more on the ground, pulling Duke against her. She hugged him tight, not caring that his blood soaked further into her clothing. She said nothing, just sat there and held the man who had done so much despite his supposed fate to destroy her. She grieved for the man, the friend, the love, never once lifting her head as she felt her heart breaking as a piece of her fell away.