This is an ATWT one shot about Lucy and Dusty. It takes place after Jennifer's death.
Lucy Montgomery shivered in her thin windbreaker as she stood at Jennifer's grave, tears of shame and regret rolling down her pale face. "I'm so sorry," she whispered hoarsely. "I am so sorry." Her tears nearly choked the breath of out of her.
She suddenly heard a rustle behind her and involuntarily froze in place. Maybe coming out here in the middle of the night – alone – wasn't the smartest thing she had ever done, among other things …
"Lucy, relax, it's just me," Dusty Donovan's familiar husky voice came from behind her.
Lucy turned to look at Dusty and shivered again – but this time not from the cold. He still got to her. Lord he did he ever …
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
Lucy wiped her eyes discreetly not wanting to let on that she had been crying although it was plainly obvious that she had been. "Apologizing," she half-whispered.
"Don't bother. She is beyond hearing you now," he grumbled bitterly.
"I don't believe that, Dusty, and you shouldn't either. She's here – she's everywhere you and Johnny are."
"Do you actually believe that horseshit you're trying to shovel on me?" He demanded, dropping down onto a hard cement bench. He stared at her when she didn't answer him. "Don't you think you should be heading home now?"
"I don't want to leave you alone," she admitted. And selfishly, she didn't want him to leave her alone anymore either.
"No," she said stubbornly. "You shouldn't isolate yourself all the time, Dusty. It's not healthy."
"So are you a psych major now?" He asked gruffly.
"Dusty, stop please. I just want to say how sorry I am about Jennifer; for not being able to help her. But that said, I am not going to allow you to chase me away like you always do."
"Why do you care so much?"
Lucy scuffed her feet in the dirt. "I have always cared about you. And I care about Johnny. He's my brother and he needs you to stay strong and you can't do that if you bottle up all your emotions and continue being so angry at the world all the time."
"Go away!" he barked.
"No, Dusty, no," she said firmly. "Let's go somewhere and talk please. It's getting really cold and it might rain tonight."
"I don't want to go anywhere," he said. "I want to be here with my wife."
"I thought you said she wasn't here."
"Well this stone with her name on it is all I have left of her."
"That's not true. You have Johnny – that is the best gift she could leave you."
"How could she leave me at all? When I loved her so much?" Dusty murmured softly, almost in a whisper. His words were nearly lost in the blustering sound of the wind rushing by their ears.
"She didn't have a choice. I couldn't save her," Lucy said, equally quietly and then raising her voice, she said, "But she loved you more than anything and that love – well, it never goes away."
"I miss her every goddamn day of my life, every damn moment," he said, clutching his chest. "It's like my heart is empty and dead but I can still feel everything and it hurts. I'm not going to lie about that."
"I know, I know. You always did have a great heart even if you don't want anyone to know it." She walked over and bravely sat down beside him, fully expecting him to tell her to go away but surprisingly, he didn't. She was still careful not to touch him though she wanted to. God, did she want to …
"What did she see in me?" He wondered aloud.
"She must have seen what few people are allowed to see: your heart, Dusty. She also probably loved your quiet strength and your deep soul … Your sweetness and kindness when you think no one is watching . Maybe she liked your dimples too," she said with a little smile.
Dusty sighed weakly. "They won you over, didn't they?"
"Yeah," she admitted with a blush.
"I miss her," Dusty said. "I miss the memories she made with me. I think I always will."
"That's natural. You always miss the ones you love most. I still miss my brother Bryant and he's been gone for years now. I know it's not exactly the same thing but I know what it's like to hurt so badly because you feel like you lost someone way before their time should have been up."
"I know how you feel, Luce," he said. She tingled involuntarily at his use of her old nickname.
She tried to shake it off. "But, Dusty, I promise you, you will get stronger. You never forget but you do find more strength to live your life one day better at a time."
"I don't want to forget her; I don't want Johnny to forget her."
"Then be there for him, Dusty. Make yourself stronger and just be there for him. He'll know Jennifer by the way you reflect her love."
Dusty smiled. "When did you become so wise?"
"I have had a lot of time to think since I left Oakdale," she replied with a shrug. "In fact when I wasn't pouring over a medical book, I was lost in my own thoughts."
"Did you think about me and you?" He asked.
"Yes," she admitted. "A lot."
"I thought about you a lot too. I wondered all the time why you left."
Lucy didn't answer right away and then she said, "I don't know, but it was a big mistake." She really did not want to be having this conversation at Dusty's wife's graveside and she sensed Dusty was finally ready to open up to her. "Maybe we should go," she said.
"I am not sure I can leave her," he said, tears misting his dark eyes.
"Then you stay. There is no hurry for you to go."
"No I need to leave now or I'll end up sleeping here all night, getting drenched by that damn storm that seems to be moving in quicker and quicker," he said, looking at the black, starless night sky.
Dusty stood and walked over to Jennifer's grave. He pressed a kiss into his hand and then bent down and pressed his hand against the cold stone. "Bye, Jenny, I love you so much," he said.
Lucy's eyes filled with more tears at the sight of him bent over, looking so broken and defeated, touching the cold granite like he could actually reach out and touch Jennifer and she would reach back for him.
Dusty finally straightened and turned to face Lucy. "Let me walk you to your car."
"I didn't drive."
"Neither did I," he said. "I'll walk you home."
"I can find my way there just fine. Go home to your son."
"Humor me okay, Luce?" He said, causing another tingle to shoot through her body as they walked out of the cemetery and down the silent, empty street.
They walked in silence for a bit and soon a little rain began to trickle down on them. Dusty hurriedly removed his jacket and wrapped it around Lucy's thin shoulders. She felt his strong, careful fingers brush her neck and shivered this time.
"These summer storms," Dusty mused. "You never know when they'll hit."
"Nope," she agreed as they continued along.
They walked in silence again as the rain began to pour down harder on them. Neither knew quite what to say to the other.
"Luce," Dusty said. It sounded like the beginning of a question.
"Do you think Jen knew I loved her?" He sounded so uncertain, almost innocent and child-like when he spoke.
"I know she did. She must have seen it in your eyes."
"It seems like every good thing comes to an end."
"It does seem that way sometimes," she admitted.
"How have you been, Luce? I mean really?" He sounded genuinely concerned for her.
"I've been fine," she insisted though her heart had ached and felt every mile, every centimeter, and millimeter between them while she was away and still did.
"Did you meet anyone special while you were away?" He asked.
"No one special," she said. "No one could compare to y-" Her voice trailed off, realizing what she had been about to say.
"Compare to – me?" He asked.
"Yes," she admitted in a voice so low he could hardly hear it over the sound of the pounding of her heart and the rain hitting the pavement.
"Why did you leave?"
"You told me to go," she said. "You hated me after what happened with Rafael."
"Oh that is such bullshit and you know it," Dusty said.
"No I don't."
"You must have known my true feelings."
"I am telling you – I didn't. I thought you hated me as much as I hated myself."
"Then you were more naïve than I ever thought," he said bitterly.
"Hey," she snapped. "Why are we even talking about this anyway? We just left your wife's grave!"
"I don't know. I just know that I don't want to be alone right now; I don't want to lose anyone else I care about." He pulled her close to kiss her – he so wanted to stop feeling the pain and thought losing his body and mind in a passionate moment would will all the emotions away, but to his surprise, she pulled away.
"No, Dusty, please don't use me to get over Jennifer," she said. "I couldn't take that; I couldn't accept it."
"Because you're grieving and I don't want to take advantage of you. And I don't want to be a fill-in for anyone."
"What do you want from me, Lucy? You are always hanging around like you want or expect something to me. I thought kissing you, being with you … I really believed that was what you wanted …"
"I do but not this way," she said, hurrying ahead of him.
"Come back," he called after her but she kept walking. He hurried to catch up. "Will you just stop acting like a brat?"
"I'm not. You never notice me until tonight when you're so upset. That is just wrong and it's not fair to either of us."
"You shouldn't feel that way because I do notice you. It's hard not to."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean I notice so many things about you that I have no right to. I'm a married man in my heart still and yet there is something about you that I just can't let go of. And I feel horrible about that because it doesn't seem right in my mind though it does feel so right in my heart."
"Dusty, you shouldn't feel sorry for that –"
"Well I do. I just lost her; how can I even be thinking about you this way?"
"I don't know but I am not going to push you into anything you're not ready for."
"You know what I want?" He suddenly asked.
"What?" She asked, heart hammering in her chest.
"I want to forget everything, every memory, every sorrow, every emotion and just be." He said.
"I know and you will be okay one day. Maybe not soon but eventually. And I'll be there for you, just not in that way …"
He touched her face. "You're right I can't use you. I can't use you to forget. I just lost my head there for a moment."
"It's okay. It will take time, Dusty, but you'll be okay, I'm sure of it."
The rain began to pick up in fervor as they walked slowly and silently back down the road. They were in no hurry to get anywhere tonight.