|A Place To Stand
Author: scarlotti PM
She kisses him. And everything stops... - CHAPTER 8 is up! R&R,pretty please? They make my day shiny. ;)Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Romance - Audrey P. & Nathan W. - Chapters: 8 - Words: 16,800 - Reviews: 79 - Favs: 40 - Follows: 94 - Updated: 01-13-13 - Published: 04-14-12 - id: 8025977
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: What Bitter Wrong
Rating: T to be safe
Pairings: Nathan/Audrey, D/N/A FRIENDSHIP ;)
Spoiler: "You're going to get yourself killed!" Audrey exclaims. It comes out louder than she means it to - harsher - but at this point she doesn't even care.
Disclaimer: Don't own it ;).
I've been lurking and devouring so many of the works on this site, and several stories have been swirling in my head that I thought I'd finally type one up. As this was my first fic, I'd love honest, constructive criticism. The title for the entire work, as well as chapter titles are taken from Sonnets for the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barret Browning
"…Let us stay
Rather on earth, Belovèd,—where the unfit
Contrarious moods of men recoil away
And isolate pure spirits, and permit
A place to stand and love in for a day,
With darkness and the death-hour rounding it."
~Sonnet 22, Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Until the lengthening wings break into fire
At either curvèd point,—what bitter wrong
Can the earth do to us, that we should not long
Be here contented? Think.
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet 22
"You're going to get yourself killed!" Audrey exclaims. It comes out louder than she means it to - harsher - but at this point she doesn't even care. Instinctively, she reaches out to grab Nathan's hand, to somehow emphasize the gravity of her statement. Immediately, she feels the unpleasant twist in her gut when he jerks away before she can touch him.
"I'll be fine." He turns to leave.
"Nathan, you're not invincible." She physically inserts herself in front of him, this time grabbing his forearms. She needs to pound this into his head before he does something really stupid - something that he won't be able to walk away from with a few bloody scratches across his lower back.
Something that he won't be walking away from at all.
Audrey doesn't even want to think about the then, so she plants herself in front of him and holds him in place through the barrier of clothing. Nathan hasn't allowed skin to skin contact since…
"Parker, I'm fine. If you think that I'm going to just stand by," he says it quietly and then breaks off with finality, but what goes unspoken hangs in the heavily in air between them. He's adding another thing to the pile that they don't talk about – and watch you put yourself in danger.
For a split second, she thinks Nathan will crack; thinks he'll move past this invisible wall that he's so firmly planted between them. She sees the near-desperation, the anger, the longing flicker behind his eyes for just a second and she thinks he'll let go; thinks he'll step back to what they were, what they were almost becoming.
Then she sees the mask slide into place.
"I'm doing my job." Again quiet, but this time, it's cold.
Nathan's face is nearly emotionless. It still hits her hard. Every time. She freezes just for a minute, and he's gone, twisting out of her grasp and breezing around her out the door. He doesn't slam it – doesn't even close it – but the effect is the same. Subject closed.
Another thing they "don't" talk about.
"Well, that was….interesting." Duke extracts himself from his deceptively relaxed pose against her desk, arms unfolding.
He's become even better at that, Audrey thinks absently, at going unnoticed, but he's always around lately. Nathan and he seem to have an unspoken arrangement in place. Nathan, Duke, Dwight – at least one of them is always there. On more than one night, she's seen the familiar outline of Nathan's Bronco parked nearly out of sight of her balcony and she's certain that she only sees it a fraction of the time. She's just as certain that the other nights have been divvied up between Dwight and Duke. Audrey has a nagging feeling that Dwight might have somehow bugged the outside of the Gull as well – surely Cleaners do that sort of thing – but thus far, she has found no proof.
"You honestly think that anything we say will change his mind?" Duke's expression is two parts curious and one part caring.
"Do you know how many injuries he's had since…." Audrey stops there.
Since I got back; since you, Nathan, and half of the Haven PD rode up on your shiny white horses in the nick of time.
It has a weird fairytale-esque feel when she thinks about it that way.
The things they don't talk about are starting to bleed into her every waking moment.
They don't talk about how Nathan, Duke, Dwight, and a handful of Haven's finest barreled to her rescue mere hours after her she was taken.
They don't talk about the look of relief on Nathan's face when he saw her unharmed – she's sure similar relief was reflected on her own face, and maybe even on Dukes – but Nathan's expression had her heart in her throat. Relief, elation, and something that made her certain that he wouldn't be letting her leave his side for weeks to come. For a second, she had rather liked the idea.
They don't talk about how that look had been swiftly replaced with one of sorrow, followed by determination, and then just as quickly with the calculated indifference that she has become so familiar with lately. Nathan has stoicism in spades.
They don't talk about the fact that Nathan expressly sent Duke to untie her, while Nathan busied himself cuffing - decidedly more roughly than was strictly necessary – her unidentified captors.
They don't talk about Nathan's hastily bandaged shoulder or that, when her assailants were finally hauled into the Haven PD, the bandage was bleeding through, and the arrestee's had apparently had a few close encounters with a solid surface. Nathan's fists appeared to have met with a similar fate.
They don't talk about Nathan and Duke's newfound confidence in one another.
They don't talk about the fact that when she headed towards the Bronco after her initial checkup on-site, Nathan's swift motion to Duke had Duke steering her towards his vehicle instead.
They don't talk about why, during the weeks she's been "back", she and Nathan have been trapped in this continual dance, one that consists mostly of her pushing the issue and him strategically (or not so strategically) retreating to his truck, his office - essentially anywhere Audrey isn't.
They don't talk about the horrible things that were no doubt going to happen had the rescue team not been so prompt – memory wipe, death, any number unmentionable in-betweens. She still has nightmares exploring countless endgame scenarios from her little brush with destiny.
They definitely don't talk about the nights when she wakes up in a cold sweet from these nightmares with what she is fairly certain is Nathan's name hanging just behind her teeth. No, they have a plethora of items to get to before they hit on that particular subject.
And, apparently, now they don't talk about how Nathan increasingly seems to come home from their escalating sessions with the "Troubles" with injuries that should have been sustained by another member of their party instead - ranging from mild scrapes, concussions, and knife wounds, to instances such as today's brushes with death – often from using himself as a human shield.
"He's going to get himself killed, Duke." The words are sounding more mantra-like by the minute.
"He doesn't care." Duke's uncharacteristically tired words bring her head up with a nearly audible snap. He sighs at her exasperated look, "Look Audrey, none of us can even think about losing you, but Nathan…" Duke pushes a hand through his perpetually mussed hair. "I don't think Nate would come out alive."
It strikes her that his words should be comforting, sweet even, but right now she's tired and confused, and all she feels is frustration. A bark of a laugh escapes her lips, unbidden.
"Yeah, I can see that." Sarcasm thoroughly laces her words.
Duke actually snaps at her, "You don't get it do you?"
"No Duke, I don't. I don't get how my kidnapping causes my partner - my friend – to treat me like a stranger. He hasn't said more than a handful of words to me that haven't been completely necessary since you found me."
The rational part of her realizes that she shouldn't be unloading on Duke, but that part is being loudly overruled by the part of her that aches to understand why the one person that she's allowed herself to fully, truly trust seems to have discarded her without explanation.
Duke gives a characteristic smirk at her answer.
"You really don't get it," his words come out with a rueful laugh. "Audrey, he blames himself. For the kidnapping, whatever" his spiraling hand motions would be laughable under other circumstances, "almost happened to you…for everything. The way he sees it, the Chief warned him off you, he didn't listen, and he almost got you killed. Because he didn't protect you…"
Audrey's eyebrows shoot up in confusion and surprise, as understanding begins to creep across Duke's face.
"But….you wouldn't know that," Duke says with measured slowness, "...because you couldn't see the Chief."
Duke's arms cross, uncross, cross again, and one hand comes up to distractedly strokes his beard. "This really is almost poetic." Another smile, then he visibly relaxes, "I mean, guy falls for girl, guy gets girl."
Audrey's posture visibly changes at this and a slight brush colors her cheeks.
"Guy sets up a date with girl, guy's dad comes back from the dead to warn him not to get involved with girl or it could lead to girl's untimely demise. And then girl gets kidnapped on the eve of their arranged date." He ends with a bemused chuckle. "I mean, you couldn't write a sappier tale."
"So Nathan told you about…"Audrey's mind switches gears automatically, "Wait. The Chief said what?"
"Well, to answer your first question. Yes, and I'm shocked that you didn't ask for my blessing, by the way. And to answer your second, according to Nathan, Old Man Wuornos and I quote "warned me not to fall in love with Audrey or I'd get her hurt.""
"Oh…" comes Audrey's quiet response, "He….?"
"You can't really hold what a guy says against him when he's just been shot." Duke jumps in.
"Wait, what?" Another head snap, at this rate, she's going to get whiplash within the hour. She briefly wonders if whiplash qualifies as a work related injury. "Nathan was shot? Who shot him?"
Duke has the decency to look abashed as he raises one of his hands from its folded position across his chest.
"You shot him?" Audrey hisses in a not so quiet whisper, simultaneously flicking her fingers out and snapping the top of his unguarded left ear.
"Owwwww!" Duke brings both arms up defensively. "Hey, in my defense, he did draw first and his arm did go all Killer Tattoo on me. It was self-defense!" Duke paused. "How was I supposed to know he'd listen to reason at the last minute?"
In hindsight, Duke should have known what would happen next. But, in his defense, he's always been more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants kind of guy.
A/N: Minor Edit 1/5/12 for spelling errors and to include poem stanza