Disclaimer: I do not own Pandora Hearts.
Back when Levi had asked her to help him with his experiment she hadn't completely understood what he meant. She knew he wanted her to have a child, to give birth in the Abyss, but she had been young, and hadn't understood the complexities that inevitably come with creating a child.
Now she was older, and her time was almost up. She certainly had a good grasp of what Levi had subtly been asking her all those years ago. If she were a normal person, a sane person not chained to the cruel fate of the Baskervilles, she might have been horrified at the audacity he had shown her, at the very perverse picture that conversation painted.
She was far from normal, however, and she despised accepted logic or norms. She had told Jack as much so many years ago, hadn't she? She doubted he could understand just how much she stood by that.
Sometimes she thought she would miss Jack. He was desperately in love with her, obsessed with her, and that couldn't be healthy. But he was also thoughtful, also accepting and naïve, and painfully desperate to please.
Baskervilles have those attributes, too, but they were warped by the distortion that was the family's fate.
Lacie thought Jack would make a good Baskerville when she was gone.
She could hear the Abyss speaking to her. Its voice is melancholy, and quite sad. Lacie was sure this was the only thing that helped her keep her last link with sanity all these years. At least the place she was going would have an understanding of her.
But what about her child? How would it deal with the Abyss? Levi insisted it would be fine even if Lacie herself would surely perish. Even so, she was worried, for even after she had understood all the nuances of Levi's request, she still wanted to help him with his little experiment. She was every bit as loyal to Levi as her brother was, and she had nothing to lose. If she had to die, she wanted her death to mean something. She didn't like the idea of the tragic, noble sacrifice at all; it was weak, and Lacie refused to allow anyone to look down on her in such a way.
She knew Levi was well aware of this, and took full advantage of it. She didn't care. She suspected he knew he would have felt the same had he been in her place.
None of this prevented her from worrying about her future child. She surprised herself with her very real concern; she found herself wishing for all sorts of things that could never be, but she refused to think about those desires. She couldn't afford to go mad now.
In the end she transferred all this nervous emotion into wrath. She knew gentle feelings would never bring strength in the Abyss, and she needed as much strength as she could muster.
Lacie never told her brother about Levi's plan or her participation in it. She suspected he knew, but he never said anything, and she was grateful for that.
On the day of her death (she refused to use the word "sacrifice"), she found herself feeling strangely content despite all the reasons she really shouldn't.
Her life had been a constant torment; she couldn't convince herself to think she would ever be at peace, but at least her final duty would be done.
Oswald wasn't the sort to display his emotions openly, but Lacie always knew what he was thinking. Levi usually knew, but he didn't have the same pinpoint accuracy his sister did.
Oswald tried not to think of how much he would miss her. She had been his family before they had ever joined the Baskervilles, and he had done nothing for her. He had brought her to the Baskervilles when he realized he had been chosen, and now he would be sacrificing her for them.
He knew she was furious with what life had dealt her, and he knew how she buried that fury in the form of fanciful escapes and mocking jibes. What he could never be sure of was whether or not she hated him. She would have had every right to, and Oswald would have felt somewhat consoled if she had. She never told him, though, and now he would never know. It was his job to know these kinds of things, but for once he found himself behaving as a coward would, and he felt terribly disinclined to stop.
He could not claim complete ignorance of what went on between Levi and his sister, though. Levi had once explained his motives to Oswald, perhaps as a form of apology, but Lacie never said a thing.
Oswald honestly didn't know what to make of it. He found himself hoping they loved each other at least a little, but he couldn't put much faith in the idea.
It was painful to think about, so Oswald feigned ignorance on the matter. He couldn't afford to feel anger toward Levi, his master, whom he was still loyal, nor could he afford to feel anymore despair and guilt for his sister than he already did. He couldn't bear that kind of torment.
He had been grateful to Jack, though. There was something intriguing about the man, though his intrigue was the same thing that made Oswald so suspicious of him. Oswald didn't care at all; Jack amused his sister in her final months, and Oswald could forgive him almost anything for that.
And now Lacie was gone, the one person who had ever truly understood him. Furthermore, her daughter was outside of the Abyss, and insisted on being called Alice. She had a great love for meat, and she had a twin sister whom she sometimes switched places with. Oswald wondered if he could find absolution by taking care of his niece. And wasn't that the strangest thought of all? Oswald was an uncle, and his sister was gone. The previous Levi had disappeared, and Jack had returned.
Oswald had never thought acting as Levi would be the simplest facet of his existence. He really hadn't been doing his duty of knowing everything all that well and now he had no idea of how to proceed.
Lacie would have known what to do, but Lacie was gone.
Oswald had never felt so empty.
That is the only word Jack could fully comprehend as he listened to Levi's explanation of the tormented existence Lacie had lived. It didn't help that the previous Levi seemed to view everything with an amused detachment. If Jack had been a normal person, he probably would have punched Levi. Jack mused over this for a while, but stopped when he found his thoughts going in confused circles over the adjective "normal." Had he ever known what that word meant? Most people seemed to think Jack did a lot of abnormal things, so he supposed he didn't.
Jack's thoughts swiftly returned to Lacie as was their wont, and once again all he could think was of torture. Lacie had truly been an extraordinary person, just as Jack had known; he wondered if she had gotten through it all by simply accepting things the way they were. That was how Jack had managed to survive his day-by-day existence.
Levi was leading him to the Baskervilles' home when he decided to mention he and Lacie had had a child.
Jack very nearly did launch himself at the previous Baskerville head then, and was only prevented by the morbid desire to know why, as well as by the curious sensation of nausea threatening to send him toppling to the ground if he dared to move so much as an inch.
Jack wasn't upset Lacie had been with someone. Lacie had never been a conventional woman, and Jack had only truly desired to be in her presence. He had never even gotten around to thinking of anything else.
No, what baffled him, what enraged him, was how Levi could send her to the Abyss with the knowledge she wasn't the only one going.
But Jack was never good at taking action, and he felt all emotion draining from him as Levi went on to explain some more about Alice and the Abyss. Jack simply allowed Levi's words to wrap around him like a frozen blanket.
It was too late to change what had been done, but maybe he could bring Lacie back. Surely she would like to meet Alice, and Jack figured the Abyss must be cold. He had never liked the cold.
As Levi left Jack with his blessing to use Alice as a means to fulfill his wish, Jack knew he needed to speak with Oswald.
Jack's thoughts went back to torture. Lacie had been tortured with the knowledge she was cursed, was doomed to die at her brother's hand for all her life. But Oswald had been tortured, too. Jack was scared of Oswald, and Miranda wanted Oswald for herself, but maybe they could work together for a time. Jack didn't know how to cope with loneliness, and if he were left to his own devices he would simply wither away as he had been attempting for a whole month.
Besides, Oswald looked a bit like Lacie, and Alice looked almost identical to her. Maybe the pain of her absence could be filled with her family until Jack brought her back.
As he clasped Oswald's hand, he almost felt the hope he kept talking about. He would do anything to bring the real thing back, anything to bring his light back. Jack had never been a servant, but he wondered if this is what they felt when they swore to be loyal to someone forever.
Jack would gladly be Lacie's servant if she would only come back.
He never noticed Oswald's look of concern; he was too wrapped up in his fantasy of ruby eyes and raven hair.
Levi sighed as his heart gave a worrying throb. His time really was short. He wished he could have seen the results of his experiment, but he supposed he would see it through the eyes of Oswald after Levi passed.
Levi had always liked Lacie; they had similar fates after all. Both were destined to die. The only difference was Levi would be reborn so to speak, and Lacie would not. In a way he missed her; she had been an entertaining companion.
But he was also elated. He wasn't Glen anymore, and Levi hadn't known how much he had looked forward to being able to say that. When he told Jack the news he had felt a joy so overwhelming he worried he would die from it before completing his conversation with the man. It had been ages since he'd felt any real, strong emotion, so it had been a bit surprising.
Jack was always an amusing person to be around. Levi had never seen someone bury his emotions as thoroughly as Jack did. Really, he had been hoping the man would have some kind of reaction to what Levi was saying, but Jack didn't break his established character, and Levi felt like he had done enough damage. So he left Jack to whatever it was he intended to do. It was none of his business at this point.
He would check in on Oswald later, and he would ask what he had learned about Alice and the Abyss. Maybe that was cruel, but Levi had been alive a long time, and his empathy had withered in much the same way his health had.
He couldn't bring himself to feel sorry for Oswald at all.