A/N: So here we are at last, the end. The ending went a little differently than I had planned, but Ilike it. I think it fits Bruce and Audrey rather well. I hope you guys enjoyed this story. Be on the look out for a sequel. Please, read, review and for one last time enjoy.
Disclaimer: I own what is mine.
There wasn't enough alcohol in the world. And yet…
Audrey glared mulishly at the amber liquid that swam in the glass she held before soundly tossing her drink back. The cool splash of liquid burned a trail down the back of her throat only to sizzle in the pit of her stomach. The room tilted, blurred and she knew that she was long passed drunk as she slumped further into her couch.
Hmm. She smiled grimly before she scrubbed harshly at her face. It didn't seem to matter how much she drank, her thoughts kept moving and she could still hear – see everything.
He was always so proper, Audrey thought disgustingly. She knew she was staring, almost unseeingly, into the grey eyes of her boss. She didn't know what time it was, but it was late…and he was here. Almost as if he had been waiting for her to step through the door to his office. Cold began to seep inside her and she could not quite keep up with the whirling thoughts of her mind, but she had to know.
"You knew." Her eyes burned, but she couldn't take back the accusation, "You knew that Sean was alive."
Jensen, the aging man with the stern glares and the reapproving tongue lashings, looked away. Regret showed so clearly, but for only a second, "We suspected."
"Suspected?" Audrey almost bit through her tongue as she tried to reign back on the hot rage that twisted with the cold numbness. She laughed bitterly, "When? When he miraculously came back from having his throat slit? Or when he was standing in the middle of Gotham? WHEN!"
"When he appeared with Answar two and a half years ago in Africa." He answered softly, as if his calmness could quail her turbulent emotions.
Answar? Her eyes slid shut as she thought back over the past few months. How had she missed this?
She peered up at Jensen through her lashes as she robotically pressed on, "Tahri Answar was a person of interest, you said. But you were never talking about this case, were you? He had shown up on the Company's radar long before this."
"You wanted me to leave this case. You knew that I would run into my fiancé and you didn't tell me?" Audrey continued as if he hadn't spoken, "You've read my file, Jensen! You know all about what happened in the desert. You knew about my relationship with Sean. How could you not tell me?"
Jensen didn't say anything as he watched her warily. He knew that nothing he could say would make this better.
She shook head, not able to stand the situation anymore, "I want everything. All the files on Answar…and Sean."
Audrey sighed and her gaze unwillingly slid across the room to the table in the corner. Papers and file folders littered its surface, even photos, though those were jammed underneath the mess. She had spent three days reading everything and then another four staring at the dates glaring up at her.
Three years. He had been alive all this time. Her eyes stung with the familiar glaze of tears for what felt like the hundredth time. She clenched her glass in frustration and choked on the sob lodged in her throat. She was so tired of crying…so tired of being angry.
"I didn't know how to tell you." Charlie's soft lit rolled over the air as he spoke quietly to her, slowly cooling the anger she had felt at Jensen.
"You were going to tell me?" Audrey sniffed as she stared unseeingly into the starry sky.
She had come up onto the roof of HQ to clear her head, it figured that Charlie would find her here. She wanted to be mad at him, but she just didn't have the strength.
"I wanted to." He sighed and she didn't have to look at him to know that he had the same regretful look in his emerald eyes that Jensen had in his, "Audrey…it wasn't supposed to end the way it did."
She frowned, "Things never do. You know this, Charlie. So, what was supposed to happen? We clean this mess up and I remain blissfully in the dark?"
The Irish man scowled and looked away from her. He wasn't sure how to make this right. She turned to him then, and he felt like a bug under inspection. He bit his lip as he recognized the gaze he was under. She gave that look to suspects, and to contacts she sized up before deciding if she would trust the words coming out their mouths. He hated that she was deciding if she could still trust him.
"You are probably my best friend." Audrey began softly, painfully, "You've saved me more times than I can count and you've taken care of me, without my asking you to and even when I don't want you to. I just – I didn't –. I know we have to keep secrets in this job, sometimes even from each other…but I never expected you to keep something like this from me. I don't understand it."
Charlie clenched his jaw as he tried to find the words to make her understand, but all he could do was explain, "He came to me with information on Manning. I wasn't going to trust him, but he had proof…and he mentioned you. He begged me not to tell you that he was alive. I asked him: why? And he said to me that he was a disaster. I didn't understand, still don't, what he meant…You have to know that I didn't come to this decision easily. I hate…I hate this."
"I know, so do I." She shrugged, "I'm taking some time. I need to get my head straightened."
"...Okay. If you need me…" Charlie replied solemnly.
She smiled faintly, "Always taking care…I'll call. Promise."
He nodded tiredly as if he could feel the lie in her words, "Audrey…I am sorry."
"Oh, Charlie." Audrey murmured under her breath as she lazily tipped her drinking glass.
She balanced the glass on its edge for a moment before letting it clink soundly back onto the table. She couldn't stay mad at Charlie. He was family. Jensen, however, she had no problem being furious with him. He had his suspicions, more than that he had years of intelligence…he could have warned her. Prepared her.
"This is healthy." A low voice drawled, effectively interrupting her musings.
Audrey bit back a groan as she tilted her head back to see Bruce leaning in the entryway of the living room. Disapproval radiated off him in waves and she suddenly wanted to finish off the bottle of whiskey sitting on the coffee table. Instead, she peered around his lurking form to the door of her apartment. All the locks were still in place.
"Normal people use the door, not my fire escape." She murmured grumpily. She had been giving him the cold shoulder ever since the incident at the wharf. After discovering he had hacked into her computer and gone through her files, she decided that flat out ignoring him would probably irk him enough to satisfy her aggravation. This was fourth time he had broken into her apartment.
Bruce stepped further into the living room and took a seat on the coffee table, moving the whiskey out of her reach as he did so, "You don't answer your door."
"That might have been a hint." Audrey grumbled absently as she eyed the distance between her hand and the bottle. It was too far and she wasn't moving.
"At least you're talking to me."
She swallowed a sulky smile at his dry tone and wondered briefly if he realized how much he sounded like Alfred. Instead, she turned baleful eyes on him as she warned, "I am still irritated with you, that hasn't changed just because I've actually decided to acknowledge your breaking and entering skills."
Bruce's flat stare told her just how effected he was by her irritation. She also knew that he had been slowly losing his patience with her over the past week and she had reveled in his frustration. Vindictive, she knew.
"Oh. So, you have noticed my presence. I was beginning to wonder, considering you've been obsessed with all that paperwork for the past few days." His tone was deliberately light as he gestured toward her paper-covered table…it set her on edge, but she pushed anyway.
"Aw, don't like being ignored?" She smiled nastily and his eyes narrowed.
"Stop trying to bait me, Audrey." Bruce warned, "I won't be your punching bag for whatever is really bothering you."
"You mean you don't already know? There's a shocker."
She huffed slightly before pushing herself into a more upright position on her couch, "You're no fun, you know that?"
"Yes, I'm the epitome of boring." Bruce muttered as he watched her settle, "Since, you seem to be hung up on normalcy. You could try and tell me what's been going on, instead of trying to pick a fight."
Audrey frowned, "You mean actual talking?"
A smirk twitched at the corner of his mouth from her disgusted tone and he suddenly felt a sense of relief. He was finally getting somewhere, "I've heard that's what sane people do."
"Whoever said I was sane?"
He wasn't even going to touch that statement. She hadn't been herself since the day at the wharf. She had been distant and brooding. As much as he didn't want to admit it, he had been waiting for her to break.
Bruce silently slipped away from Gotham's warehouse district as soon as he saw a mob of police head toward warehouse seven. They had arrived sooner than he had anticipated to the rundown building, but it wasn't their presence that he questioned. It was hers. His dark eyes had latched onto her form almost the second she had entered the chaotic square. She had barely spared a glance to the madness around her before zeroing in on the warehouse he had just vacated.
He would have questioned how she had known to go to that particular building, if he didn't already have a sneaking suspicion. Alfred could be annoying like that.
It wasn't until he returned to the Bunker that he began to regret leaving the square so quickly. He had stepped from his motorcycle, ready to listen to the broadcasting police frequencies when he noticed Alfred. His guardian stood silently waiting, a pinched look creasing his weary face and suddenly Bruce knew something had happened.
"What is it?" The words had left his lips before he even had time to register speaking.
There was a long pause as Alfred thought over his own words. It made Bruce nervous.
"There was shooting." The older man finally said, "An officer was pronounced dead at the scene. Another man, who had been taken into custody, was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital. The police band said that a federal agent was involved. A few minutes ago that agent was listed as Agent Peters."
Bruce closed his eyes against his guardian's watchful stare. His mind struggled for a moment to process what he had been told and he couldn't help the sudden powerlessness coursing through his veins. He should have stayed.
"Was she hurt?" He murmured quietly as he opened his eyes again.
Alfred shook his head, "I don't know."
Bruce bit back a sigh. He knew that she would be tied up for hours with just the police alone, and if she was hurt…. He wasn't going to think on it. He'd give her four hours before he called or texted. He did both, but she never responded to him.
It was nearly one in the morning before he was able to track her down. She had shut off her phone, but had used her credit card at a hotel not far from the penthouse. He was at her door within minutes. His hand tapped insistently at the wooden frame. It seemed like a lifetime had passed before he even heard movement on the other side.
Finally, the door swung open, revealing an exhausted Audrey. Bruce paused a she glared up at him belligerently. Her eyes were red and swollen, her cheeks were raw with tear tracks. And for one horrifying moment he thought she would break down and start screaming like she had when he had brought her to the penthouse. When she had been trapt in her drug-induced delirium. But, she wasn't delirious now, in fact she was almost perfectly controlled.
"Are you alright?"He spoke softly as if she would startle at the slightest sound.
It was the wrong thing to say as he watched her expression go blank, "I'm fine."
"Not now, Bruce." Her words were stilted and rough, "I'm tired. It's been a long day and I just want to be alone."
There was a plea in her eyes that he just couldn't ignore. She didn't want him to see her licking her wounds and he didn't want to leave her alone, "I don't think -"
"Please." She uttered and he froze, "I'll call you…just. Please."
He hadn't been able to say no, but he still kept an eye on her.
A week went by and she moved into an apartment. She still hadn't called. It took him awhile to realize she was doing it on purpose, that she had been well aware of his presence and that was when he had started visiting. Even though she never said a word.
"You shot someone." His voice was low, but he gave her a starting point, knowing she would ramble and stall for the rest of the night if he let her.
"I shot a ghost." She clarified darkly.
A ghost. What kind of ghost? There was something in her gaze. A mulishness that made Bruce pause and– did he really want to know, "The police had him listed as John Dane. My files say his name is Tahri Answar. You called him a nightmare once. So, who is he?"
Audrey shifted in place, her gaze barely touching Bruce's before drifting away again. He could see her pain so clearly, but there was a resignation…not just to her eyes, but also to her whole being that had him wanting to reach out. What had happened to the proud woman he knew? What happened to her defiant fire and determine mind?
"Audrey?" When he caught her gaze again, he was almost startled to see the bitter anger that tended to grace his own face. Almost. He waited patiently for her words, her story, and wondered if he had the right to be pulling it from her.
"He killed my fiancé."
She said it so softly that Bruce wasn't sure he had heard correctly. His doubt disappeared as she spoke again. Her tone almost flippant, while her manner was nearly unemotional. Numb.
"Sean Laure. He was a higher-ranking officer than I was, and at one point my commanding officer. We weren't supposed to fraternized and we sure as hell weren't supposed to fall in love, but well…."She gestured lazily as if that one motion explained everything and in a way it did, "Then one day the world stopped spinning and we were trapt in a place where time didn't seem to exist…but Answar did."
"Torture." The word slipped passed his lips and his mind flew back to the photos he had managed to dig up on her. The horrific bruises that decorated her skin, her cracked lips and dead eyes.
"Found that did you?" She smiled grimly, "Answar killed him, right in front of me. I shut down after that…I can't even remember how I got out. But…but I do remember slamming a blade into Answar's chest and hearing the choking sound he made as he fought for air while his lung filled with blood. Only took a few seconds. I don't know how he survived that."
Bruce didn't either. He closed his eyes tiredly as he tried to block out the images her grim words created. He didn't want to think of her in pain, desperate and scared. He didn't particularly want to think about her killing someone. The haunting screams that she had unleashed during the first few days of her drugged induced nightmare still rang in his ears, and suddenly made much more sense. The way she had begged and the tears she had cried. His stomach rolled at the memory. She had called out for a Sean…he remembered.
"He was a ghost." She whispered, her words slurring a bit, "At the wharf – I heard shots. Two. And I ran towards the sound. They were inside a warehouse. There was a body on the ground and Answar was fleeing, but I didn't know it was him until after I had pulled the trigger and he fell. My bullet grazed his neck and he made that same choking sound, someone else had managed to hit him in the chest. He died from the blood loss….When I went to the man that Answar had shot; he was already surrounded by medics and officers. My other ghost. Apparently, you can watch someone die twice."
Bruce's brow furrowed as the implication of her words settled in his mind, "Are you saying you saw Sean die again?"
"I'm saying that Sean did die. I wasn't hallucinating." Audrey retorted lowly. She looked up at him and the distant haze that had clouded her eyes was replaced by a sharp clarity, "I wish I had been hallucinating. It was as if time had turned back three years. The setting was different, but the characters stayed the same. Answar kills Sean, I kill Answar. It's like déjà vu, but worse.…. I don't even know what I'm supposed to be feeling. Anger? Grief? I've already grieved over that man. Am I supposed to do it again? I can't…I don't…"
She broke off as her voice cracked. A floodgate had swung open somewhere inside of her and all the emotion that seemed so muted moments before, clashed wildly within her. She felt like she was breaking. What was she supposed to do? She stared almost beseechingly at Bruce. Too proud to beg for help, but lost enough to know she needed it. She half expected there to be pity resting in his eyes, but there wasn't. He was listening and watching everything she did. There wasn't pity, but an understanding that shook her to the core. And then he did something she didn't expect.
He picked up the whiskey bottle and poured her another glass before taking a swig himself. She would have laughed if the action weren't so tragic.
He slipped next to her on the couch and gazed at her softly, "There are no words to make this better and if there are, I don't know them."
A bitter truth, but she was glad he was not offering her insincere platitudes or whatever polite colloquialism that people were supposed to use. She closed her eyes and let her head come to rest on his shoulder. She was only slightly surprised when he pulled her closer and whispered quietly, "What was he like?"
She smiled faintly, wistfully, "Funny. He was funny. He could make me laugh so hard."
Bruce rested his chin on her head as he tried to picture a happier, less damaged Audrey. He couldn't do it. He buried his nose into her hair for a moment and felt her fingers clench the end of his shirt, "I fell in love once. Her name was Rachel."
Audrey stilled against him, but he had no doubt that she was listening. She titled her head up a bit and he took it as a sign to keep going and told her of the love he had lost.
It was funny, she had lived with him for weeks. She knew how he liked his coffee, what shows he watched. He knew that she secretly enjoyed Alfred's tea more than the coffee in the penthouse, that she preferred reading to watching the tv blare. Yet, never once had they talked about anything personal…. They never talked about her nightmares, barely even acknowledge them. They never spoke of his dour moods and bitter silences. They really only spoke of trivial things or about the case. To be honest they had done it on purpose. As much as Bruce enjoyed Audrey's company, was caught by the puzzle she presented, he never wanted to achieve a greater intimacy with her. He could handle friendship and sex, but he didn't want, no, he was scared to let someone all the way in again. Audrey was no better.
Yet, here they were pouring their hearts out, having and an actual honest, personal conversation. One that revealed scars that both would prefer didn't exist.
Bruce glanced down at Audrey as he spoke. Her sapphire eyes glinting in the dim light as she met his hazel eyes. And they knew. There was no going back after this. They couldn't take back these words. Couldn't take back the emotions they were broadcasting so clearly. The lines were blurring and changing.
So, where did they go from here?
A/N: I wish to thank everyone for there support and continued reading of this story. I appreciate at it beyond all words. Special thanks to: AdaYuki, MusicBeeQueen, shadow-dog18, yaba, Raefhn, Rainbow Haired Girl, Vanafindiel, BleedinLuva1123, and Samlily41 for reviewing. I would also like to thank: Reedy-Girl, Blaugrana, IndigoFades, Aku Tora, SunMoon206, MeikoAlice, sassyandclassy, Rainbow Haired Girl, BleedinLuva1123, and SophStratt for adding this story to their favorites list.
Thank you everyone. I hoped you enjoyed the story. : )