Type: Fan Fiction
TV Show: Haven
Time: Season 1, between episodes 10 and 11
Starring: Duke Crocker
Title: The Prize
"So, what's the prize?" Duke asked as he sauntered through the warehouse with his smuggling contact cum underground fight club ringmaster, Knots.
"It's a good one," the other man chuckled. "You gonna fight?"
Duke shrugged as he followed Knots, giving the man a noncommittal smile.
Knowing his friend as well as he did, Knots grinned, "Yeah. You're gonna want to once you see the prize." He walked past Duke and gave pointed to a large dog cage in the corner with as much of a flourish as a guy in a stained t-shirt and ripped jeans could muster. Within, sitting Indian style, a pretty young woman with long blond hair sat, looking resigned and a little scared. She also looked clean and tired in her jeans and chambray shirt but otherwise unharmed.
Duke looked at her for a long, silent moment.
"Are you in or are you out?"
He glanced at Knots. "Slave trade is a bit of a step up for you, isn't it?"
"Ain't slave trade. She was Bobby's entry fee. Hell, the cage was her idea." Knots nodded to his money man and grinned as more fighters showed. "So…in or out?"
He had not planned on fighting tonight. He was more interested in looking for a certain tattooed forearm. But Duke turned once more towards the blond hair that reminded him of a certain agent and said, "In."
The two shirtless, sweating, panting men faced each other. This was the last fight and Duke knew he had to make it a good one. He wanted to win. It was more than just the prize, the girl. It was now all about adrenaline-filled, testosterone-laden competition. Who was Alpha? Who was top dog? By god, Troubles or no Troubles, it was Duke Crocker and this dumb shit needed to remember that.
Duke was able to duck the right cross thrown at his face but not the smack of the meaty punch to his ribs. He sucked in air as the pain, one of many, spread out from the impact point. Jenkins had at least twenty pounds on him and it was all muscle. Duke was tired and his hair, shiny black with sweat, hung in his eyes. The only saving grace was that the other guy was tired, too.
Faking a stumble backwards, Duke baited Jenkins into close quarters where he received two hard jabs to his stomach, followed by a right uppercut to the jaw as he backed away from the assault. Duke pressed his advantage with a sharp kick to the man's left knee. There was a crunching sound as he connected. Jenkins went down, groaning as he presented his unprotected face for a last hard right before hitting the concrete.
The shouts and jeers of the spectators swelled and then subsided as money exchanged hands. Duke stood there, panting, watching Jenkins. The man wasn't out but he was hurt. It was never wrong to make sure the fight was done. No one said anything about the kick to the knee. It was a risk in these sorts of fights. When it was clear Jenkins wasn't going to get up on his own, Duke turned his back on him and walked away.
While he was toweling himself off and getting his shirt back on, Knots came over bearing gifts.
"These are yours. Though you only get to borrow the key." Knots handed over a stack of cash and the key to the lock on the dog kennel.
Duke fanned the bills briefly to get a bird's eye view of what he'd won in cash before stuffing the wad into his pocket. He looked at the key in his hand before nodding at Knots.
"It's a good night for you. Gonna get better," Knots all but cackled at him.
Saying nothing but giving the ringmaster the expected rakish smile, Duke sauntered over to cage with the girl.
The two of them sat in the parking lot of the warehouse in Duke's car. They both watched as the last of the tail lights left their view before the girl ventured, "I was hoping you'd win."
He gave her a charming smile laced with something darker as pain lanced through his cheek with the motion. "I bet you say that to all guys who win you in underground fight clubs."
She slumped back against the seat, looking away from him. "This was the first time…"
"For what? For letting yourself be a prize in a dogfight or being willing to go home with whoever won you?"
She didn't answer him.
He let his rising anger at the situation slide back into neutral and softened his voice a little. "Where the hell have you been, Claire?"
"Around. I wanted to see the world." She still did not look at him but her voice was hard, defiant.
"You see it?"
"How was it?
"And the cage?"
"Safety," she said as she looked at him again. "Didn't want anyone putting their grubby paws on me. I agreed to go home with the winner. Not to be molested all night."
He shook his head. "How did you get there?"
Claire shrugged. "I needed a ride. I needed money. Bobby was coming here. He had no interest in me."
"Bobby. Right. Now I understand."
She tilted her head in a question.
"Why you weren't raped, murdered and left by the side of the road." Duke felt a little of the anger returning and did his best to sit on it.
"I'm not a little girl anymore. I'm not as innocent or naïve as you seem to think I am." She put her hand on his arm. "You should know. You taught me a lot about life."
He half-smiled at her knowing how right she was.
"So," she asked, "now what?"
"I guess I take you home."
Claire looked around as Duke let her into the Grey Gull. She whistled and asked, "This is home?"
"Yeah. One of them anyway." He moved through the darkness to bar and turned on one of the low lights. He walked behind the bar and started rummaging through the bottles. She slid onto one of the barstools, still looking around
"Wasn't this Bill's place?"
"Yeah. It was." His tone was flat, discouraging her current line of inquiry.
"Ah." She took the glass of amber liquor he slid to her. "You remembered. Neat as a peach."
"What are you doing here, Claire?" His question was soft.
"I do believe you brought me home," she said before taking a long swallow of scotch.
"No. Here. Haven."
She shook her head. "I don't know. I guess I just felt like it was time to come home."
"You hate this place."
"Maybe. But it's the only real home I got."
"Your mom know?"
He sighed, leaning on the bar top. "The Troubles are back."
"Color me surprised."
"You always were attracted to trouble."
She smiled pointedly at him and he grinned back before pouring himself a drink. They were silent for a long time, both drinking their drinks and thinking their thoughts. Finally, she asked, "So, what are you going to do with me?"
The question was asked in a coquettish tone but Duke could hear the underlying nervousness. "Well, I could use some more help around here. You ever bus tables or serve drinks?"
"You want me to waitress for you?"
He grinned. "Why not? You could make good tips working here. Plus, it'd give you a chance to get back on your feet. Help you settle in."
She looked him in the eye. "You don't want anything more? We used to be…close."
His smile faded at her world-weary look and shook his head. "No. I want you to be settled. If something were to happen again, I'd want it be because we both want it and not because one of us feels obligated. Besides, isn't there some kind of rule about co-workers not hooking up?"
"Who says I'm going to work here?"
"Who says you're not?"
Claire shook her head with a smile. "All right. I accept the job. But only until I find something better."
"That's the Claire I know."
She raised her glass, "To new prospects."
He clinked his glass to hers, "And old friends."