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Thoughts On A Woman

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Duke had known since he was young that he would not be the kind of person who stayed within the confines of the law. It wasn't that he didn't respect the laws or see them as something that applied only to other people, rather that he saw a demand for someone willing to work beyond the law and knew he could fill that void. Since that realization, he had lived his life in quiet contentment without a single thought back. Yes, he had done some things that didn't sit well with him and he had certainly lost people to the stresses of his chosen profession, but that had always been their loss.

Watching Audrey and Nathan across the Grey Gull as they spoke in quiet tones, Audrey looking pale and drawn but still always leaning toward Nathan, he wondered what it was about her that had made him want to change the ways he'd been so comfortable with. He knew without doubt that he was in love with her, but also knew that fantasy was a lost cause. If she was going to get involved with anyone, it would be Nathan. While they weren't holding hands, Duke got the distinct impression that was only because Audrey was so worked up that she was likely to hit anyone who tried to touch her at all, be it comfort or harm.

Nathan was the one who respected the law as she did. Nathan was the upstanding citizen who could be there to support her and fight alongside her, not Duke. Nathan was the man she never cancelled plans with and who she turned to for guidance on her new home. Nathan would be the one with whom she would surely have beautiful children who weren't somehow magically rigged to kill him with a single touch.

Sighing, Duke shook his head and turned away. Now he was just being morbid. Still, he thought, as he went into the back room he was using for an office and pulled out the picture of his child he had insisted Audrey e-mail him and he had had printed, despite the Troubles here in Haven and everything they were going through, the she and Nathan had a much better chance of ever having a normal life.

Melancholy did not suit him, he finally decided as he quickly stashed the photo and poured whiskey into the glass he left back here. He might be a little jealous that Audrey had insisted she tell Nathan her secret before she would consider talking to Duke but he would continue to be a friend to her, no matter how much he wanted to hold her as a lover.

A knock sounded on the door and he barked at whichever waitress wanted to bother him about days off to leave him be. The door opened despite his protest and he glared at the intruder, expecting Wendy's apologetic face. Instead, Nathan's stony visage appeared, completely nonplussed by Duke's foul mood. Duke poured a double shot of whiskey and drained the glass before turning to Nathan.


Nathan raised an eyebrow as he closed the door behind him.

"We expected you to join us at the table," he said, crossing his arms across his chest and taking in the entire scene before him. Duke hated him a bit for doing that, likely seeing everything he would rather Nathan not know and pitying him for it.

"You two seemed to be having a moment. Didn't look like you wanted anyone to intrude." He raised another single shot in Nathan's general direction and drained it.

Nathan rolled his eyes and, in two long strides, was across the room and snatched the bottle away from Duke.
"Hey!" Duke protested, reaching for the bottle but grasping only air. He glared at Nathan and considered pulling out the extra bottle he kept in the drawer but decided he would wait.

"She needs us right now," he said, his mask dropping and Duke realized how tired Nathan looked as well. Something had happened to both of them, it would seem and, as much as he wanted to sit in here and drink away his sorrows, he couldn't leave them to fight this battle themselves after he had signed up for it.

"What happened?"

Nathan let out a gasp of breath that could have been a chuckle and Duke knew the sound of a man trying to keep himself from falling into hysterics. "That's a very complicated question."

Duke narrowed his eyes. "Try for simple."

Nathan set the bottle down on the far table and leaned against it, staring at the wall as if he thought that if he told Duke without looking at him it wouldn't actually be real.

"The Chief is dead. He," he paused, trying to put it into words. "He shattered. Apparently he was trying to keep the town together. He's the reason we keep getting all those cracks in town." Duke reached for the second bottle and ignored the glass in favour of pulling directly from the source. "The Rev is already trying to control who replaces the Chief even though no one knows what happened." If Duke hadn't already declared a side before, he sure as hell would have now and he'd be damned if he saw the town controlled by that man. "Audrey thinks she's not just Lucy's daughter; she thinks she is Lucy, somehow." Duke took another long drink and prayed that Nathan was done. "And there's an FBI agent in town who says she's the real Audrey Parker and our Audrey is some kind of imposter, but they have a lot of the same," he waved his hands in the air, grasping for the word. "Mannerisms, I guess. She's Audrey but she's not."

Nathan was quiet for a minute as he let it all sink in and took the chance to drink from the bottle he'd taken from Duke.

He smiled ironically and raised the bottle. "Oh, and this was all in the last three hours."

"No wonder Audrey looked like crap," he said without thinking and looked up suddenly, afraid that he might offend Nathan with his flippancy. Nathan simply raised the bottle before standing and turning to the door.

"So, care to join us?"

Duke nodded and stood, his trusty bottle never leaving his grip, but he grabbed the glass in a show of common decency and gestured for Nathan to grab another two as they passed by the bar. The two men were momentarily puzzled when Audrey was not at the table where Nathan had left her, but Wendy saw their confusion and pointed to the balcony where Audrey sat on the railing, leaning against a post staring out at the water.

The cold had chased everyone inside so they had the space to themselves. Audrey glanced at them as they came out and silently took the glass Nathan offered. Her eyes slipped to Duke and back to Nathan in a silent question of whether Nathan had told him. Nathan nodded and Duke tried again not to feel the pang of envy over their ability to communicate so effortlessly.

Nathan pulled a table closer to them and leaned against it while Duke sat mirroring Audrey. They all watched the water and sat in silence, each nursing his or her drink in contemplation.

"You wanna talk about it?" asked Duke, to break the silence and because he wanted them both to have a chance to vent if they wanted.

"Not much to really talk about," said Audrey, turning to face him, confusion in her eyes.

"We'll get through this," he assured, and Audrey's eyes wandered across his features. "Somehow, we'll get through it."

"But will we still be sane at the end?" she asked, her face becoming earnest and Duke realized suddenly how much she truly feared that she'd gone completely batshit crazy.

He smiled, attempting charm. "I know for a fact we," he indicated himself and Nathan. "Were never sane to begin with."

Nathan snorted but nodded his agreement and Audrey smiled, looking between the two men, something passing over her features that Duke couldn't put a name to.

"Maybe we'll all be in the Freddie before this is all over."

They all raised their glasses and drank to that.