It was around the sixth ferret that Audrey decided -- really decided -- that full moons on Halloween were completely bullshit and needed to be outlawed. Especially when they came with this sort of craziness every time it happened. She was sure that, eventually, one of the Troubled would be able to take care of that for her.
"One cage?" Nathan had asked when she'd come out of Mrs. Hendrick's house, lugging a huge cage with her.
"They're ferrets," she said, "and this is huge."
He looked at her for a moment, then turned away, saying, "If you're sure."
"I am sure," she called after him as he walked away. "And hey, thanks for helping me with this."
"You're welcome," he said over his shoulder.
He'd been right, but she wasn't going to admit that. She managed to get the sixth one in without the other five escaping, but she wasn't so sure she was going to be able to do it again. At least Nathan was the one doing the actual running around and herding them toward her, so he'd be the one to catch the double escapees.
"Trick or treat!" She could hear a few kids going down the street, ringing doorbells, but most of the parents of Haven seemed to have decided that tricks were more likely than treats this year. She wasn't so sure that they were wrong.
She could hear Nathan off stomping through the underbrush. He was hoping to flush out the last two ferrets that had escaped from the pet store. If they were smart, they'd be long gone already, off starting a new, ferrety life doing whatever ferrets did in the wild.
A ferret scampered out of the undergrowth from the opposite direction from Nathan's noises. She was ready to go after it when it stopped in front of her and started scampering around in circles like a happy dog. It bounced around a little more, and then stopped in front of her when she started to smile and sat up like a meerkat.
"I guess you're kind of cute," Audrey said, and it bounced around again like it could understand her.
When it stopped, she bent down and picked it up, meaning to get it into the cage before it ran off again. But then it got its claws into her jacket and climbed up her arm to drape itself around her neck like a stole that didn't quite know it was dead yet.
"Okay, I guess you can stay there," she said, and it started chittering in her ear. "Those had better be happy noises and not about to bite my ear off noises."
When Nathan came back, grinning triumphantly and carrying two ferrets by their scruffs, she was leaning against the back of the truck and scratching the ferret behind its ears.
"Nice fur collar you got there, Parker," he said. It had braced its paws on her shoulder and was craning its neck out toward Nathan. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see a ferret smile on its face, like a happy dog only a lot smaller. "If it gets away, you're catching it."
She smirked, and took one of the struggling ferrets from him so he could get the other in the cage. "It hasn't tried to get away yet."
He snorted, and took the other ferret from her. "Let's go, before you decide to keep it."
"Like that would ever happen." She paused for a moment after stuffing it into the cage with the others. It had immediately turned around in the crowd of ferrets and stuck its paw out through the bars to scrabble at the latch. When she knocked its paw back in -- there was no way she was chasing down all those ferrets again, or making Nathan do it -- it reared up and complained at her. For a split second, it reminded her of something, but the thought was gone before she could catch it.
Something kept itching at the back of Audrey's mind that night. Something about the ferrets, which they'd left in the back room of the station until someone from the pet store could pick them up. Nathan insisted on leaving the cage door open instead of keeping them stuffed in there for one night. She couldn't wait to see how he was going to explain that to the Chief in the morning.
She kept slipping toward sleep, but the closer she got, the clearer whatever she was missing became. It would get to the point where she would almost have it, and then she would jolt awake and it would be gone. That was how she ended up in the station at dawn, poking at the keyboard of her computer in hopes it would magically toss out something about Lucy, or maybe the Troubles, or maybe one of those cat videos on YouTube.
She was laughing at a video of an angry cat falling into a tub of water (she imagined that was what Nathan would look like if Duke shoved him off the boat one day) when she heard a crash coming from the ferret room.
"Hello?" she called, going to the door and standing by it, listening.
There was a moment of silence, then Duke's voice said, "Can I get some clothes in here?"
"Duke?" she asked, ignoring his indignant "Hey!" when she opened the door. He was standing in the middle of the room, angry ferrets squeaking at him from a corner, and utterly buck naked. She took a long, slow look up and down his body, which just reaffirmed that he had something to be proud about, although perhaps not as proud as he was. When she reached his face again, he had such a goofy grin on his face that she started to laugh.
"Not that I'm not grateful to bring humor to your life," he said, "but could I maybe get some clothes?"
"You were fine without them last time," she said, grinning and closing the door behind her.
"Yeah, well, last time you weren't laughing at me," he said, which just started her laughing again.
"Thanks a lot," he muttered. "You can stop laughing any time now. Really," he added when she kept going. It was like that dream where you realize you forgot to put clothes on that morning, except she was part of the crowd this time, not the naked one.
"How did you even get in here?" she asked eventually, after Duke started to look like he might actually kill her if she kept on laughing. "I've been sitting out there for hours."
"I'll tell you after I get clothes," he said, still glaring at her.
So she took out her phone and dialed the one person she knew would have clothes that would probably fit Duke.
When Nathan answered, he sounded wide awake. "Parker? What's wrong?"
"I wouldn't say anything's wrong exactly," she said, looking over at Duke again and licking her lip. "I need some clothes that are you-sized at the station."
"Why do you..." he trailed off, like he did when he wasn't sure he wanted to hear the rest of what she had to say.
"Duke's here, and he seems to have forgotten his." She almost started to laugh again.
"What's he doing with you naked?" Nathan asked. She could almost see him frowning and hear him telling her that she couldn't trust Duke.
"I'm not naked," she said, "so does it really matter?"
"I'll be right there." He hung up on her without saying goodbye.
As soon as she went to put her phone back in her pocket, Duke said, "You could have just gone to my boat and got something. You didn't have to call Nathan."
"What? And let him miss this?" She grinned and stepped into his space, poking him hard in the chest. "Not a chance."
"Where is he?" Nathan asked as soon as he was through the door.
Audrey looked up from an absolutely engrossing game of solitaire, grinning again. "He's still in the back. Sulking, or something, I think."
"I might have laughed." She tilted her head and amended that. "A lot."
A corner of his mouth twitched up. He only cracked the door open enough to stick his arm in with the clothes. She could hear him mutter something, and Duke hiss something short in return, but they were both too quiet for her to make out the words. She should have moved closer when she had a chance.
Duke eventually came out, in clothes that were slightly too big for him. Audrey supposed it was better than the old man sweaters he usually wore. She wondered if anyone had ever pointed out to him that he dressed like an old man, or if he was doing it on purpose.
"Thank you, Nathan," Duke said, shooting a look at Audrey. "At least one of you is a gentleman."
Audrey snorted. "Oh please, like you were a gentleman."
"You," Duke pointed at her, "don't know that, because you were unconscious."
"Wait, what?" Nathan asked at the same time Audrey said, "Someone had to have taken my clothes off."
"I left you a shirt!" he pointed out, while Nathan made more horrified faces. "And did your laundry. I really don't appreciate the laughing, by the way."
Before Audrey could say anything more, Nathan said, "Undressing an unconscious woman is low, even for you, Duke."
Duke gaped, outraged. "What- Are you kidding me?"
"You're luck she didn't press charges. She should have pressed charges." Nathan was actually angry, and Audrey knew that she should be stepping in and reminding Nathan that she could take care of herself, but she was too busy snickering.
"You're absolutely right," Duke said. "What was I thinking, getting her out of soaking wet clothes and into a warm bed? I should have just left her in the ocean. My life would be a lot easier now if I had."
"Hey!" Audrey said, getting up.
"Everyone in this town would be better off without you in their lives," Nathan ground out.
Duke blinked. "Wow, that almost hurt."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Audrey stepped in between them, putting a hand on Nathan's chest because he looked like he was about to take a swing at Duke. "That's enough. I don't need a white knight, Nathan, I can handle it myself."
Nathan muttered something, which she chose to ignore in favor of grinning at Duke.
"And you totally peeked, didn't you, perv?"
Duke opened his mouth, and closed it without saying anything. Then he smiled and said, "And I didn't laugh."
"Drooled is more like it," she said, and when Duke seesawed his hand back and forth, she started to laugh. "Now that we're all friends again-"
"Hey, I never agreed to that," Duke said.
"Me either," Nathan said. "And even if we were, there'd be no 'again' about it."
"Yeah," Duke said. "He's right for once."
"See?" Audrey said, grabbing them both by the arm and steering them toward her desk. "You're agreeing already!"
She pushed Duke into the chair beside her desk, and pushed Nathan into her own chair, and then leaned against the desk in between the two of them. Duke was still eying Nathan, but Nathan was pointedly -- so pointedly that even she noticed it -- not looking at him.
"So, Mr. Crocker," Nathan said, falling back into formality like he did when he was embarrassed about something. Or felt bad about something. Or was making fun of her for something. "Why were you in the back room, missing your clothes?"
"Really?" Duke said, a small smile on his face. "It's Mr. Crocker now? Even though you gave me your letterman jacket to wear? I thought I meant more to you than that."
"Technically," Audrey said, glad that Duke was back to teasing Nathan instead of being angry, but wanting to find out just what the heck he was doing back there, "it's a flannel shirt. So?"
Duke gave her a thanks-for-ruining-my-fun look. "So, last night was a full moon."
"And?" Nathan said after a moment of silence.
"And naked? With a bunch of ferrets?" Audrey looked at Nathan, but he looked just as blank as she felt. "On a full moon? Come on you guys!"
When they both continued staring blankly at him, Duke sighed and turned slightly so he was directly facing Audrey, "I'm a wereferret."
Nathan rolled his eyes and didn't say anything. A snort of laughter escaped Audrey. "If you wanted to take your clothes off in front of me, you could have just asked."
Nathan blinked and leaned back in his chair a little while Duke sputtered, "I'm serious! I didn't even know you were there!"
"Is this a cry for attention?" she asked. Duke wasn't smiling anymore.
"Screw you guys," he said and stormed out while she was still laughing and Nathan was watching her.
"What do you think he was actually doing back there?" Audrey asked when the door shut behind him.
"Probably something illegal," Nathan said, frowning a little. "Really? Duke?"
"Wouldn't you?" she asked, more interested in coming up with reasons why Duke would be naked in the station than actually answering Nathan. She added as an afterthought, "I mean, if you didn't hate him."
Nathan didn't say anything. When she glanced over at him, he was staring at the wall, a slight frown on his face. "I don't think you can will a window into appearing in that wall," she said.
He turned to her, still looking faintly troubled. "I'm keeping some of my Troubles to myself, to pull out when it looks like you're getting bored of us."
Audrey's laugh was broken by a yawn in the middle. Maybe she could get another couple hours of sleep if she headed home. So she pushed herself off the desk and bent down to kiss Nathan's cheek.
"The same goes for you, if that makes you feel better," she said quietly into his ear. When she straightened, he was staring at her in shock, so she winked, turned around and left.
By the next day, Duke seemed to have forgotten about it, and was back to showing up while they were working to distract Audrey and needle Nathan. He got her to promise to let him cook her dinner, but she doubted she would make this time any more than she had made the others.
It wasn't for another week that Audrey and Nathan had a chance to find out what Duke was really doing at the station that morning. Between the Mulligans' sudden poltergeist problem (an angry teenage son), an entire room disappearing from the Carmichels' house (Mrs. Carmichael had turned it invisible), and a domestic on the far end of town (the Joneses were going through a rough patch again), worrying about what Duke had been doing had fallen off their radar.
Duke had become wise to the way Haven seemed to be trying to prevent him from impressing Audrey with his dinner skills, so when Audrey opened the door to her room Saturday morning, she wasn't all that surprised to see Duke standing there, a backpack over his shoulder and a cocky grin on his face.
"Can I help you?" she asked, leaning against the door jamb, crossing her arms over her chest, and smirking.
"You-" he pointed at her menacingly "-are not getting out of dinner tonight. I am here to kick your ass at video games and whatever else it takes to stop you crime-fighting for one day."
Audrey stepped back and let him in, snagging the backpack off of him as he went by. "What'd you bring?"
"Multiplayer games," he said, "so you can't sneak out to rescue a mermaid from a lobster trap while it's my turn."
Audrey glanced over at Nathan, who had stopped by out of what she figured was boredom, like he did sometimes. He had what she thought of as his "why does Duke exist" face on and his hands on the chair's arms, muscles tensed to push himself up.
"And you!" Duke said, pointing at Nathan. "Don't think you're going anywhere. You're not going to ruin this by playing damsel in distress out there."
Nathan glowered at him for a moment, then leaned back in the chair. "Gonna add kidnapping an officer of the law to your laundry list of crimes?"
"If I need to," Duke said, smiling a small, secret smile.
Audrey, meanwhile, had dug her way to the bottom of the bag and pulled out all the games. The last one was under the console itself, and as she pulled it out, Duke turned just in time to snatch it out of her hands.
"Not that one," he said, sticking the case into the back of the waistband on his jeans.
"What?" she asked while Nathan looked like he was trying very hard not to roll his eyes. "But you brought it."
"By accident," Duke said, stepping back as she made an abortive grab for it. "Resident Evil's in there. Don't you want to shoot zombies? You'll need the practice when someone in Haven starts making them."
"I want to know what that is," she said, making another swipe for it. She caught her fingers on the back of his shirt, but then he spun around and her fingers slipped off. "Is it porn?" she asked, except if it was porn than Duke wouldn't be trying to hide it. "Or My Little Ponies' Magical Rainbow Romp Through the Forest of Feeling?"
"That sounds like porn," Nathan said, a little smile on his face.
Audrey stopped and both of them stared at Nathan. "What kind of porn have you been watching?" Duke asked with a raised eyebrow.
"What?" Nathan said. "Forest of Feeling! That sounds dirty."
Duke looked like he was going to say more, except Audrey grabbed for the case while he was distracted and almost got it. He pulled his shirt down over it and said, "I'll take my toys and go home."
"You're the one who barged in here," Nathan said, but to Audrey, it didn't sound quite so serious as he usually did.
"I was invited in," Duke protested.
"You could just tell her what it is," Nathan said. "You know she's not going to stop."
"Not a-" Duke started to say, the broke off when Audrey pinned his arms between them so they were pressed together, face to face. "Hey!"
She tilted her head so she could see Nathan behind him, and nodded and shifted her eyes in a way that clearly meant she wanted Nathan to grab the game. Except he just stared at her, like there was no way he was getting involved.
"Get it," she said, and he got up with a sigh.
"This is police brutality," Duke said. "And you are not my favorite cop anymore."
"You're not even trying to get away," Audrey pointed out, any more than she was actually trying to hold him there.
"I'm waiting for the right moment," he said.
She snorted, her attention drawn to Nathan. He was standing behind Duke, pushing the back of his shirt up a little. When his hand brushed Duke's skin, she could feel Duke shiver, just a little. She looked up, meaning to make fun of him, but he was already looking down at her, the corners of his mouth barely twitched up like he was having fun and didn't want anyone to know. And his face was right there.
Nathan had frozen, the edge of his palm still on Duke's back, the game in the other hand, forgotten. He was staring at Audrey, and she would swear that he had moved a bit closer. If she just tilted her head up a little more, she could kiss Duke, and if Nathan bent a little forward, over Duke's shoulder, she could-
The three of them stood there like that for a long moment -- that in reality was probably less than half a second -- frozen.
Then Nathan took a long step back, clearing his throat and saying, "Got it."
Audrey let go of Duke's arms and stepped back -- he wasn't smiling that almost-smile anymore -- so she could go around him and take the box from Nathan. "Really?" she asked. "The Sims?"
"Did you build a little Haven in there, Duke?" Nathan asked, managing to sound disapproving, yet almost fond at the same time.
Duke turned around, a lazy grin on his face that didn't quite look right. "What can I say? I like having everyone in town obey my every desire."
"That's kind of weird, even for someone from Haven," Audrey said, but the joking was falling flat for whatever reason, and Duke just shrugged.
Nathan, meanwhile, had moved to the other end of the room -- far away from them -- and was going through the handful of games Duke had brought. He caught Audrey's eye and held up a game, and she shrugged.
"Go hook it up," she said, prodding Duke in the stomach.
"Really?" she head Duke say quietly when he took the game from Nathan. "Katamari?"
"Only game you brought that doesn't involve things I do all day," Nathan said back.
"Have you ever shot a person? Not even a zombie or an alien, just a person?"
"Not yet," Nathan said, "but I have a feeling that's going to change by noon."
Duke laughed and sat down on the end of the bed. Audrey pushed him to one end and sat next to him. Instead of sitting between them like she'd thought he would, Nathan sat on the floor in front of the end of the bed. Which was typical, when Audrey thought about it. So she scooted over a little so the side of her leg was just brushing his shoulder.
His breath hitched, and she was about to ask if he needed water or something when Duke said, "Not that this isn't a nice room and all, but have you ever considered moving to a real apartment, Audrey? It doesn't exactly look like you're going anywhere anytime soon."
"This way, I don't have anything tying me down here, if I do need to leave," she said, shrugging. She hadn't found an at-will apartment in or near Haven yet, and it was just easier to keep staying at the B&B.
Instead of responding, Duke handed her a controller and started up the game.
By lunch time, they had moved on to building robots and pitting them against each other. She had won a few games, but lost enough that she was confident Duke would take the bet.
"This would be a lot more fun if there were gambling involved," she said.
"You don't look like someone who's not having fun," Duke pointed out from the floor where he'd moved.
"I said more fun," she said. "How about, if I win this game, I get to go out and fight crime, and if you win, I have to actually let you make me dinner for once."
Duke twisted around to stare at her, his eyes narrowed. She was almost worried that he would see through her, but then he said, "Deal."
"I'm not hearing this," Nathan muttered, and Audrey patted his arm before hitting the start button.
It was possibly the shortest battle of the day, even the ones she had been purposefully losing. It wasn't even that she didn't want to go to dinner with Duke, it had just become a thing.
"You-" Duke sputtered when his robot had been thoroughly destroyed. He threw down his controller and turned to face her on his knees. "Did you just hustle me? At video games?"
She shrugged, grinning. "I prefer to think of it as strategy."
"I'm impressed, Audrey Parker," he said, and turned to Nathan, who had moved up on the bed next to Audrey. "Do you want to hustle me out of something, too?"
"I wouldn't need to hustle," he said, smirking.
Duke grumbled and leaned back against the foot board. "It's Saturday. You don't even get paid to work Saturdays. What could you possibly be doing that's so important?"
Audrey did not ruffle his hair like a little boy, although the sulky tone was making her want to. "Figuring out how those ferrets got out of a locked cage and a locked store, now that I have some free time."
"I don't think you understand the meaning of free time," he said.
"For once, he's right," Nathan added. "Come on Parker, take a day off."
Audrey laughed, and bumped her shoulder against Nathan's. "I am taking a day off! You two can play video games like a couple of teenagers without me here. Nathan may not care how they did it, but I do."
"I could tell you," Duke grumbled, "but you wouldn't believe me." He paused for a moment. "At least I got you to admit you think I'm cute."
Audrey had started to say "You're not a wereferret," but her mouth snapped shut halfway through when he said that.
"You told him he's cute?" Nathan asked, his voice half surprised, and half disbelieving.
"I told a ferret it was cute," Audrey said. "And if it was Duke, I'm taking it back."
"Oh, so now you believe in wereferrets?" Duke asked.
"I never didn't believe in wereferrets," she said. "I just didn't believe you were one. Although, wereferret?" She snorted with laughter.
"There's no use in denying something we both know is true," he said, and added almost as an afterthought, "And you've seen weirder things than that."
"Weirder, sure," Nathan said. "But more..."
"Pathetic?" Audrey finished. "Not yet."
"That's great guys." Duke pushed himself to his feet. "I come to you, I tell you I have a bit of Trouble-"
"You're not Troubled," Nathan interrupted, glaring. As far as she was concerned, Duke could call it whatever he wanted; they'd dealt with Afflicted who had stranger problems than turning into a ferret once a month. Weirder than Haven's version of normal? Sure. Weirdest thing she'd seen in the past week nevermind the past few months? No way.
"Then what would you call it, Nathan?" Duke asked, coming to stand in front of him, forcing Nathan to look up at him. "Mildly inconvenienced by a monthly cycle?"
"That would work too," Audrey put in. She drew one leg up onto the bed so she could turn and watch the two of them.
"I call it not being Troubled," Nathan said. He had absently started pressing one fingernail into the meaty flesh bellow his thumb. "If you want real Trouble, try-"
"Are you really making this all about you, Nathan?" Duke asked, his hands on his hips. "Didn't your father teach you to share?"
"Can you picture the Chief teaching anyone to share?" Audrey asked.
"Remember son," Duke said in a passable imitation of the Chief, "sharing is caring, and your first job in life is caring for yourself."
Nathan snorted, and Audrey grinned as she patted his shoulder, saying, "See? That's why Nathan doesn't know how."
"He got bit by a mangy rodent-" Nathan started.
"Ferrets are weasels," Duke broke in with.
"The point is," Nathan said over him, "you got bit. You aren't Afflicted, you're just careless."
"And possibly rabid," Audrey added. "Have you noticed any frothing at the mouth lately? Wanting to rip people apart for no good reason?"
"I think I have a good reason," Duke muttered. "Don't worry, Nathan, even though I'm special too, you're still the special-est."
A look flitted across Nathan's face that Audrey couldn't quite place, until Duke said, "Oh my god, you actually think that makes you less special."
Audrey burst into laughter. Nathan shooting her a wounded look while saying, "What? That's- No," just made her laugh harder. It wasn't even really at Nathan. Mostly. At some point she had become used to the idea that Nathan would always be there with her, and Duke would be on her other side. The idea that Nathan didn't know that -- that Duke knew that but Nathan didn't -- was ridiculous.
"Special," she said when she'd stopped laughing too hard to talk. She pointed at Duke and then at Nathan, and started laughing again. "Special-est."
Nathan was watching her sourly, and Duke looked like he was trying not to join her in laughing. "See? She'll always love you best."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Nathan said. His back was rigid and straight; Audrey had a suspicious that if she pushed him right now, he would tip right over like a weeble that had lost its wobble. Or like a battered scarecrow hanging off its weathered pole in a dying cornfield after harvest, its straw leaking out and its burlap sack face covered in tiny rips and bird shit, the pole running up its back forced it to stand tall when all it wanted was to crumple with a dry rustle to the ground and be covered by drifting snow.
Suddenly, it wasn't so funny anymore.
She sat up and touched his back while Duke sat on the other side of her, saying, "You're not any better at pretending you don't care now than you were when we were teenagers."
He had leaned back into her hand a little and she could feel it when he let go. He slumped forward a little, staring at his hands dangling between his knees. "You get this look in your eyes whenever you find a new Trouble, like you've never seen anything as amazing and interesting as what's in front of you right then." He turned his head just enough to be able to meet her eyes. "You used to..."
He drifted off, but Audrey supposed she knew what he was about to say, although she couldn't quite see why Nathan thought anyone was a rival for her attention when she spent nearly every day with him.
"Don't worry," she said. She realized her hand was still on his back and let it drop. "You'll always be my favorite Trouble." She gave him a peck on the cheek to underscore what she was saying.
He reached up to touch the spot she'd kissed with his fingers, a tiny smile on his face, one that she'd started to see more and more often. It was always accompanied by him staring at her, like he was doing now, with something in his eyes that she couldn't quite-
"I'm a Trouble too!" Duke broke the silence, grinning and with eyebrows raised.
She turned and he looked so hopeful that she laughed and kissed his cheek too. "And you'll always be my favorite wereferret."
"In this case, I'll take what I can get." Duke leaned forward, twisting slightly so he could look at both of them at the same time. "Now that we've got that all cleared up, I feel like now's a good to suggest-"
Nathan had touched the exact spot where she'd kissed him, not just his cheek in general. "You felt that!" She pointed an accusing finger at him. "How long have you been able to feel that?"
Nathan looked between her and Duke, who had leaned back and was looking at him speculatively. Audrey prodded him hard in the shoulder and he winced. Served him right.
"A while," he said, still staring at her with that goofy little smile on his face.
Audrey was torn between being pissed and being happy for him. She prodded him one more time for good measure, and said, "I'm going to assume that this doesn't mean you can feel everything again, because you're not crafty enough to keep that a secret." Duke made a noise of agreement behind her. "So, what? Is it like the reverse of numb spots you get when you've had a stroke?"
"Yes," Nathan said. "Exactly like that, because I had a reverse stroke."
"Or, wait," Audrey said. "Maybe because you can't feel anything normally, that's what happens when you have a stroke!"
"I hope you sound less excited if I have a stroke," Duke muttered.
"I didn't have a stroke," Nathan said, exasperated. At some point, Audrey had put her hand over his without noticing, and he kept flexing his fingers and glancing at their hands. "I don't know what happened."
"The Troubles," Duke said, spreading his hands. "Isn't that what always happens?" He didn't wait for an answer. Instead, he reached across Audrey, putting one hand on her back for balance, and slid his hand underneath the one Audrey had covered. He looked at Nathan and grinned. "Can you feel me now?"
Nathan had already started to say "It's just Aud-" when Duke actually touched him. He broke off with a soft noise of surprise and flexed his fingers almost convulsively.
"So me and Duke?" Audrey asked squeezing both their hands and drawing back.
"Don't," Nathan said hoarsely when she had barely started to lean back against Duke. He clutched at her hand, which she gave back willingly enough. "It's you."
"...yes, it is me," she said. "I've been here all along. Are you sure you didn't have a stroke?"
"I mean, it's you. You're the one who's doing it." He lifted Duke's hand and pressed both of theirs between his.
"I'm not doing anything," Audrey pointed out.
"I can feel this -- both of you," he said, pressing his hands together over theirs. Then he let go of Audrey's. "And now I can't anymore."
Audrey leaned forward, sliding her hand down his arm and up to his shoulder, and pressed her lips against his. Nathan made a soft noise in the back of his throat, his lips parting under hers. Her back suddenly felt cold, and it took her a moment to realize that was because Duke had dropped his hand and moved back, sliding his hand away from Nathan's as he did.
Nathan pulled back just enough that he could turn his head. He caught Duke's hand again before he could pull away too far. "Stay," he said, his voice hoarse with want again.
Audrey kissed his cheek, then his temple, her hand sliding up underneath his shirt. "I mean, if Audrey wants you to. If you want to."
She laughed and caught Duke's other hand, pulling him closer to them. How was that at all an if? "Stay," she echoed.
"Not if this is just because of this." He raised both their arms a little, then let them drop loose again. "I'm not going to fuck someone drunk on touch."
"Is it?" Audrey asked, leaning back just a bit. If Nathan was going to regret this in the morning, she was perfectly happy to wait until he actually wanted it. Well, not perfectly. Maybe impatiently.
Nathan looked between the two of them, considering her for almost as long as he considered Duke. Duke was watching him -- watching them both -- with hungry eyes, but the longer Nathan stared at him, the more it faded and was replaced with resignation.
"That's what I thought," Duke said. "You kids have fun, I'll-"
Instead of letting go completely, Nathan pulled him closer, and Audrey did the same. Nathan let go just long enough to grab the front of his shirt and pull him down until they were face to face. "I wouldn't ask if I wasn't serious," he said slowly.
Audrey said simply, "Stop being an idiot."
He leered at both of them in a way Audrey thought was one part serious, two parts joking, and three parts relief. "I knew you couldn't resist th- mphh."
Whatever he was about to say was muffled when Audrey put a hand on the back of his neck, pulled him around, and kissed him. When she pulled back, she met Nathan's eyes and held out a hand to him. He was watching them, his lips slightly parted and leaning forward a little. When she reached out to him, he took her hand and brought it up to his mouth to kiss gently. She shivered a little, and tilted her head at him a little.
"I was going to say I changed my mind," Nathan said, "but if someone keeps his mouth busy-"
"You should be nicer to someone you're about to fuck," Duke said, but he didn't exactly look upset, with Nathan's hands running up his back and Audrey's hand still gripping the back of his neck.
"Will you both shut up?" Audrey got up on her knees on the bed so she could drag Nathan closer and kiss him, with Duke caught between them. "There are better things to do right now." A thought struck her, and she pulled back from both of them. "And if you turn into a ferret while we're fucking you, you're never seeing me naked again."
"Wereferret, huh?" Audrey said later, idly carding a hand through Nathan's hair, Duke half-splayed across both of them. "How long has that been going on? Since the Troubles started again?"
"Give or take," Duke said against her hip.
"Give or take?" she prodded. Nathan propped himself up on one elbow, watching Duke but not saying anything.
"Maybe more give than take," Duke allowed. He kissed her hip, but she wasn't going to be distracted. Yet. "Maybe a lot more give than take."
"I don't think I've ever seen you in town on a full moon since that camping trip with our troop when we were fourteen," Nathan said slowly. He pushed at Duke's leg with his foot until Duke made a grumpy sound and swatted at him.
"How do you even remember things like that?" Duke turned to look at him. "Is this going to be like the tacks?"
"You maybe don't want to bring that up when you're naked and my knee's where it is," Nathan said, and Audrey sighed.
"Back to the important part of the conversation," she said, then asked, "So it has nothing to do with the Troubles being back?"
"No." He swatted at Nathan again, who was poking him in the shoulder. "I'm just that awesome."
"Oh." She wasn't exactly disappointed that it wasn't a Trouble -- being a wereferret was fascinating in its own right -- but she still sighed and frowned a little. The Troubles were all things she'd never seen before, but she was certain the Moonlight Marauder down in Phoenix had been a werewolf.
"That's it?" Duke asked, pushing himself up. "I'm not actually Troubled, so now you don't care? Wereferret!" He gestured up and down his body, and she smirked. "All the time, not just when Haven's gone screwy again."
"Yes, you're very special," Audrey said, patting his head.
"Just not as special as me," Nathan added, putting his hand over Audrey's.
"I hate you both," Duke groaned. "Next time, I'm letting all the animals out of the pet store, not just the ferrets."
"Next time," Nathan said, "we'll keep you in a ferret cage, so you can't cause any trouble."
Duke swore into the sheets and jabbed them both in the sides. "I'm going home," he said, but didn't make any move to get up.
"You still owe me dinner," Audrey reminded him. She slid down enough that she could whisper, "Don't worry, I'll smuggle you into his house so you can chew up his couch."
"I heard that," Nathan said, but he was smiling, and Duke was smiling, and Audrey could feel herself smiling. They were all grinning like fools, and Audrey couldn't figure out how her life had turned out this way -- in bed with two men, one of them a wereferret and the other a man who couldn't feel anything unless she was touching him, both her best friend -- but it could stay like this as long as it wanted.