Duke knew something was wrong the moment he woke up and the first thing he saw was Nathan out on the deck of the Cape Rouge, feet on the table, and a cup of coffee in his hand, his face obscured by the morning's paper. It was not the sight of Nathan on his boat that was strange; what was strange was that it was Nathan lounging in his chair, and wearing his favorite dark-blue cardigan Duke liked to wear on chilly mornings. Nathan, for lack of a better phrase, looked like he belonged, like he was at home on Duke's boat. Duke knew he couldn't keep Nathan from stepping foot on the old gal if his life depended on it, but he'd have liked to have known about it.
Duke got a strange sense of deja-vu. As a precaution, he looked down at himself, and sighed. Well, at least he was still himself; that counted for something. He was pretty sure the way that Nathan was looking at him now, a toothy grin that reached his eyes, like Duke was the best thing he set his eyes on that morning, Duke was afraid for a moment there that he had turned into Audrey. Hey, it was Haven, turning into the former FBI-agent-slash-officer-of-Haven-PD was not so out of the realm of possibilities; weirder things had happened to him.
"Hey, sleepyhead, about time you got up." Nathan got up, suddenly much closer to Duke. Duke's muscles tensed on instinct. He didn't think Nathan was going to hit him again, but then he didn't think that when Nathan went clinically insane, and boy was he proved wrong on that account.
"Hey, buddy, whatcha doing here?" Duke said. But then Nathan's smile slid off his face. It was clearly the wrong thing to say. Duke was feeling discombobulated, more-so than usual when dealing with Nathan.
"Okay, you're acting weird." Nathan said, gripping Duke's arm.
Duke was about to reply that he wasn't the one who showed up, totally uninvited, to his sometimes-friend's boat, but then Nathan started smiling again, and leaned in and kissed him right on the corner of his mouth! And that was not at all platonic, or a buddy-kiss, it was a I'm-running-late-for-work-but-I-promise-I'll-do-dirty-things-to-you-later kind of kiss. Seriously?! What the fuck was going on?
He snuck into the police station when he saw Nathan run out for coffee, knowing Nathan'd be ten minutes, what with chatting the barista and asking how everyone was.
He saw Audrey in the office she shared with Nathan, trying to think of what to say to her. Hi, Audrey, I think someone's trying to make all my dreams come true was to the point and concise but hardly went into why he was freaking out. She had to know what was going on though, right? Audrey's special power was knowing what the weirdness was and setting everything right again—or as "right"-ish as possible.
"Audrey! I think I'm in a weird dream!" He leaned over her desk, trying to get her to help by giving her the puppy-dog eyes. She always responded well to those.
"Hello to you too, Duke, Nathan's not here right now, but if I were you, I'd lay off the rum."
"Hahaha, very funny, that was one time, and I thought we'd agreed to never talk about it again?"
"You agreed. I filed it away as blackmail material for later." Audrey smiled cheekily at him.
He had to concede that was what he'd do too. "Okay, fair enough, but really, I think something freaky is happening to me. Something...Trouble-freaky."
"Duke? Are you alright? You're seriously freaking me out right now. What are you talking about?"
"You know, the Troubles? Afflicted people with weird curses that can do weird, potentially harmful things, remember?"
"Duke, I really have no idea what you're talking about. I've never heard of the...Troubles? Are you sure you're not just hung-over again? It'd explain a lot of things."
"Yes, usually it would, but not right now."
"I'm sorry, Duke, I don't know what to tell ya."
Duke huffed in frustration, resigned to going back to his boat until...something happened that would make things...normal, whatever that meant in Haven.
He left Audrey, but not before he saw the Chief come out of his office. Huh. He should've expected that too. The Chief died in Duke's version of Haven because of his Troubles, but now, in this version of Haven where there were no cursed or afflicted people, the Chief would probably go on to live to an old, ripe age, which he deserved. Duke wondered then what Nathan would say if he told him that the Chief Wuornos Duke knew and loved like the father he never knew died because he was psychically holding together a town that was searing at the edges. Nathan would probably have him committed to the Freddy, and never talk to him again.
His trip to see Audrey and get her to help him a bust, Duke wondered, on the way back to Cape Rouge, why exactly he'd want to wake up from this dream...or weird alternate reality where apparently there were no Troubles, and Audrey was relocated because she pissed off her boss, and not because of her affinity for weird cases. Wherever he was, he wasn't in his normal Haven where Nathan hated his guts, and definitely did not kiss him. Yes, it was a welcome change from harassing Duke, the problem being he was not in on this welcome change, which left him floundering like a fish on dry land.
Yet Duke knew, and he did not know how he knew just that he did, that if something was too good to be true, it probably was. He could be stuck in a wonderful dream, sure, but he wouldn't be living and that would not be a good thing at all. That didn't mean he couldn't enjoy the dream, as long as he knew that he had to fix things eventually. He was sure that this little dream he was having, even with all evidence pointing to the contrary, was not right.
He flashed back to when he and Nathan were eight years old, and he and his friends stuck those tacks down Nathan's back in their contest to see when Nathan would notice. It was cruel; Duke was mature enough now to admit. Not that it'd excuse his behavior, but he was being a boy, akin to a little boy pulling a girl's pigtails he had a crush on, if such an image weren't clichéd and if Nathan wouldn't balk at being equated to a girl in this scenario. But Duke had never learned how to properly talk about his feelings, and his go-to reaction when dealing with any emotions was to annoy and prank Nathan because it was so humanly easy and normal and something that Duke knew how to do without any thought given to it all. Nathan probably didn't feel normal at all, and maybe that was the bulk of their problems with each other and how they related because, somewhere along the way, Duke's feelings had turned into genuine respect for Nathan, with a little bit of an admiration thing going on until it turned into a full-blown crush that whammed him one day until he couldn't breathe and couldn't do much of anything.
He got back to the Cape Rouge, went below decks, and tried to wake up by going back to bed. When that didn't work, he paced around, noticing a glass of water on the bedside drawer that he instinctively knew was Nathan's. There was also the strange occurrence of finding Nathan's clothes occupying half of his closet, a blue toothbrush with green stripes occupying the same cup with Duke's in the bathroom, a set of handcuffs in the bedside drawer and lube. Waking up in a relationship all of a sudden when he had gone to bed previously unattached romantically (with the exception of Evi, but the less said about that, the better) was surreal.
Duke thought he had to have voluntarily put himself into this dream. Nothing else made much sense. He was living his life how he'd wanted it to be when he was younger and naive and thought the Troubles were only stories and that he could escape them if he moved far enough away from Maine.
This time when Nathan stepped foot on his boat, Duke wasn't surprised. He just grabbed another cold beer from the cooler by the lawn chair and held it out to Nathan. If he was trapped in this dream, he really did mean to enjoy it for as long as his subconscious or whatever was the cause would let him.
Nathan sat down on the other chair, taking the beer and taking a sip before looking at Duke. "You okay? You seemed kinda out of it today."
Duke didn't even pretend to consider telling the truth. Nathan would really toss him into a mental hospital. He knew how it'd sound; even inside his own head, it sounded like insanity and if their roles were reversed, Duke would never believe Nathan.
He shook his head slightly, all smiles like his head wasn't filled with how weird this was. It wasn't like he didn't fantasy about Nathan in that way once or twice, but in those fantasies, Nathan was Nathan and not this...creepily happy and expressive copy. This Nathan wasn't his Nathan; sure, this Nathan talked and walked and looked like his Nathan...but he wasn't; Duke knew it with how easily Nathan's eyes crinkled up in happiness when they looked at him, at the constant touching from across the lawn chair when usually the Nathan he knew would fold himself inward to avoid any sort of contact—avoidance that was usually unnecessary because, well, Nathan couldn't actually feel anything, but this version of Nathan did and he was so carefree with his touches like it was nothing to reach across his own personal space and into Duke's when it meant the world had shifted on its axis, and the utter unfairness of it all was that Duke couldn't say anything. He just had to go along with it, pretending that nothing was wrong when that couldn't have been farther from the truth. Oh, not wrong in principle—Duke could get behind it on principle—but wrong in the sense that karma, or the universe, or even his own subconscious, seemed to be playing a great joke on him. Oh, this is everything you could've had if you'd gotten your head out of your ass, Duke liked to imagine the universe/karma/his subconscious saying.
Right about now, Duke probably should've tried to figure out what happened to him, even if he wasn't the detective of the pair of them. But Nathan put his beer down, and licked his lips. Duke stared openly, not caring if he'd get caught. In this weird, but fantastic dream, he didn't have to hide his desire to ogle Nathan at every turn. It was a curse disguised as a blessing because why would he ever want to wake up now? That line of thinking didn't bode well for anyone, Duke thought, well...okay, maybe it bode well for him because he had a feeling he was going to get laid tonight. But getting your heart's desire handed to you on a silver platter...it was too good to be true. And Duke needed to prepare himself for the eventual reality that would come crashing down.
Of course Nathan saw him looking.
The atmosphere of the room changed, of course, to something unnamable, but desirable. Nathan took him by the hand, leading him down to the sleeping quarters.
Duke’s hands felt clammy in Nathan’s own, which was unusual on so many levels. He wasn’t a blushing virgin who never had sex, but the fact that it was Nathan turned his insides out and made him nervous. This was just so far beyond the realm of possibilities, it wasn’t even in the same galaxy as Duke.
Nathan smirked at him before leaning in and kissing him passionately. Nathan's lips on his felt electric, like every cell in Duke's body was responding to Nathan's ministrations. Nathan pushed him toward the bed, the back of Duke's knees knocking into the bed before Nathan pushed him down. Duke's eyes had fallen closed and he let out a moan when Nathan kissed him and palmed his already hard cock through his denim jeans.
With Nathan's tongue mingling with his own, Duke couldn't believe he was here, underneath Nathan.
They broke apart when the need for oxygen became too great, Nathan's nose buried in his neck. Duke was already grunting and they hadn't even gotten to the good part. Oh, dear lord, he tried not to think about Nathan naked. Or about Nathan's cock. Or about Nathan's cock in him. Or his cock in Nathan, he really wasn't picky, just as long as there was penetration of some kind going on. Not that there needed to be penetration of any kind to make it sex, or even great sex, but—the thing was—he greatly wanted Nathan inside him.
Nathan obliged soon enough, undressing him. Nathan's hand was suddenly around his cock, and nothing could've prepared Duke for Nathan swallowing him whole and licking him like a tasty lollipop. Duke didn't last long before he came in Nathan's mouth. Nathan crawled up his naked body and kissed him, and Duke could've woken up right then and there and been happy enough. Happy enough that at least Nathan gave him one hell of a blowjob, but Nathan broke away, and lunged for the lube.
He returned to Duke's personal space, coating his fingers, and, with one hand lifting Duke's leg over his shoulder, squeezed two fingers in. Duke felt like he couldn't breathe, and finally, after three fingers opening up him inside, Nathan drove into him, not slow, but hard and fast. And Duke really didn't last long then either.
When Duke opened his eyes this time around, he knew everything had returned back to normal. For one, he was passed out cold on his work desk below-decks of the Cape Rouge. He swiped at a post-it that was sticking to his left cheek by the sheer power of his drool. He wiped his mouth.
He couldn't remember how Nathan tasted. And maybe that was the cruelest fate of all.