Losing Nathan

Audrey followed Nathan at a fair clip, trying to catch up to him before he reached-

"Duke?" Nathan called, stepping onto Crocker's boat without an invitation - or even an acknowledgement - from the man himself.

Audrey frowned at his behaviour. Truth be told, she was curious what her partner was going to accuse Duke Crocker of now. She sighed, shaking her head. Not that Crocker wasn't a reprobate, and surely he was guilty of something. Still, he was hardly responsible for everything criminal, or . . . otherwise troublesome, in Haven.

"Duke!" Nathan yelled again, having searched the deck swiftly and apparently not found the man he was seeking.

Audrey decided to wait, rather than intercepting Nathan and trying to stop him from having this argument. Again.

Duke's boat was deserted, by all appearances, when she looked back up at it. She was rather surprised to see Nathan gone, without a fuss, or a confrontation, particularly. She turned around, looking back up the marina, but there was no sign of him, and his truck was still parked up the hill. Huh.

Audrey looked around for a few more minutes - even briefly entertained the idea of boarding the boat herself, just to see if Nathan was still there - but decided, eventually, to wait for him back at work instead.

After several minutes with no response, even when he raised his voice, Nathan debated leaving. He decided to check the cabin first, though - even if he didn't know why Duke would be down there in the middle of the afternoon.

He called once more, just for good measure, his tone slipping into the register of 'what've you done now' that would be instantly recognisable to anyone who had witnessed the usual - occasionally explosive - confrontations between them.

A few moments later, Nathan shrugged, heading for the familiar stairs - the door was shut, which was not encouraging. Still, it was worth looking.

"Duke?" he called, voice lower in deference to the close quarters.

This time he actually received a response, however. "Nathan? Hey." a familiar, though unusually quiet, voice, called back.

"Duke? You're actually in your cabin at this time of day?" Nathan asked, following the final, slightly uneven, turn of the steps and ducking into the cozy living space.

He froze just inside the door, seeing that yes, not only was Duke inside in mid-afternoon, he was lying in bed with the portholes open, but almost completely covered, and the lamps off.

"Are you all right, Duke?" Nathan asked quietly, wanting to move closer, but waiting for his eyes to adjust - Duke wasn't the neatest of men, and there tended to be clutter around the floor of his cabin.

Duke let out a sigh that held hints of laughter in it. "I'm fine, Nathan. Just a headache, that's all." he answered. "The sun was aggravating it, especially past noon, when the clouds dissipated and it started reflecting off the ocean."

Nathan nodded absently, straining to see Duke more clearly - wanting to be sure that he wasn't lying, or understating. "You sure?" he asked, finally.

Duke really did laugh this time. "Yeah, Nathan, I'm sure. C'mere." The instruction was accompanied by a beckoning gesture. Nathan's eyes had adjusted enough to the dim lighting, so he picked his way across the small room to sit on the edge of the bed.

Nathan reached a gentle hand to trace Duke's face, lined with the tension of an apparently severe headache. Duke closed his eyes, sighing and relaxing into the soothing caress. "Oh, that feels good." he murmured, brushing light fingers over Nathan's forearm.

Nathan smiled, stroking more deliberately, reassured that he wasn't going to make anything worse. After a moment, Duke dropped his hand, leaning back and sighing.

Nathan paused, then began to comb his fingers through Duke's messy hair - apparently his headache had prevented him from gelling it, today. Nathan couldn't bring himself to be sorry for that effect; he always preferred the softness and general disarray Duke's hair had naturally to the stiffness and angular mess-by-design he styled it into.

Duke groaned, stretching slightly. "Mm. I'll give you the rest of the day to stop that." he informed Nathan seriously, opening his eyes to underscore his point with a solemn look.

Nathan chuckled. "Well, I don't exactly have plans for the rest of the day - after yesterday's crowning fiasco, the Chief sent us home early. Today turned out to be blessedly uneventful. I suppose I don't have anything better to do."

Duke eyes widened in surprise. "Wait, you're here in the afternoon, you're not angry, you're not on duty, and you can stay the rest of the day? What'd I do?"

Nathan quirked a wry smile, not withdrawing his hand. "What, my company that bad?"

Duke resisted the urge to punch him. It wouldn't do any good anyway. "No. Not what I meant." He scowled up at Nathan, who had the good grace to look sheepish as he sat back.

Duke decided to count that as a win, and pushed himself to his elbows. Thankfully, his headache had diminished to a low throb. Not enough for him to want to go out on deck, or even to turn the lights back on, but enough to think straight, at least.

"Come on. As long as you're going to stay, you might as well get comfortable." Duke coaxed, rubbing the sensitive inside of Nathan's wrist.

Nathan looked at Duke's hand for a moment, then shrugged. "Might s'well." he agreed before working off his boots. Duke grinned as the thick, cable-knit sweater followed - though it was laid neatly over the nearby dresser, rather than discarded onto the floor.

Nathan stretched his arms up towards the ceiling, groaning as his spine popped in a few places, and Duke slipped one arm around his waist, pulling him back onto the bed.

Nathan looked over his shoulder at Duke for a moment, brows raised, then shifted over to lie down beside him. Duke waited just long enough for him to settle completely flat, then tucked himself as close as it was currently possible to be, making a noise that Nathan knew he would deny knowledge of later, if pressed.

Nathan laughed softly, then resumed the steady stroking, assuming that was what Duke wanted. His guess was proved right when Duke sighed happily, eyes slipping shut at the renewed caress.

Nathan hummed, allowing his attention to drift comfortably. They lay there for long enough that Nathan was seriously thinking he might just fall asleep.

This thought was still lazily drifting across his mind when Duke's hands slipped up under his shirt, so softly it almost tickled, and began to mimic the smooth sweep of Nathan's own hand.

Nathan inhaled sharply as Duke managed to unerringly find the most sensitive spots on his chest and exploit them, bringing him instantly back to full awareness. Nathan breathed a long, unsteady sigh, one hand coming to rest at the small of his lover's back.

Duke shifted over Nathan's chest, bracing himself there and looking mischievously up to meet his lover's clouded eyes.

"I-" Nathan tried to speak, but his voice caught. He cleared his throat before trying again, twisting his fingers in the shaggy fringe almost obscuring Duke's eyes. "I thought you," Nathan paused, taking a shaky breath as Duke tugged his shirt higher and breathed hotly over his stomach, "had a headache?" he finished, voice tight.

Duke chuckled and pressed an open-mouthed kiss to the taut muscle just beneath Nathan's breastbone. "Mm." he acknowledged absently, "Not anymore."

Nathan took a few moments to properly absorb that. "Ah." he said, cleverly. Duke smothered a laugh against Nathan's stomach, making him twitch at the slightly tickly sensation, which sent sparks up his spine.

Nathan slid his hands slowly to Duke's shoulders, pulling at them, ignoring the slight discomfort of his shirt, rucked up unevenly and now pressed between their bodies.

Duke obeyed the gentle, yet insistent, tugging, propping himself over Nathan on his elbows and smirking down into those familiar grey-green eyes. They were currently displaying a mix of curiosity and suspicion.

Duke snorted a laugh at his absent observation, then, before Nathan could ask about it, leant down to kiss him hotly. Nathan appeared to forget what he might have been about to say, willingly losing himself in the kiss.

Duke's teasing demeanour fell away as he, too, lost himself to the familiar slide of lips and tongue, feeling a happy noise welling up in his throat as Nathan's hand cupped the side of his face, tilting it and encouraging the soft, exploratory moment to stretch out.

Duke couldn't stay that patient for too long, though, and he broke away several times to press soft, fond kisses at odd points on Nathan's face, enjoying the pleasantly startled and puzzled expression blooming on his lover's face almost as much as the sensation of Nathan's skin under his lips.

Nathan's fingers tightened in his hair as he pressed a last, swift kiss to the now-temptingly reddened lips before skipping over his lover's stubbled jaw to move down the smooth lines of his throat, teasing and nuzzling and carefully not biting.

Nathan mumbled something unintelligible, and sat up, pushing him back. Duke paused, unsettled briefly, then sat back, still straddling Nathan's lap as he shot the man a bewildered look.

Nathan smirked at him, dragging his Henley off over his head, not bothering to unbutton it first. "Thought if you were determined to continue in that direction, the shirt might have gotten in the way." he explained, his tone just a little too innocent.

Duke didn't have long to consider that, though, because next thing he knew, it was his shirt being pulled at, and he raised his arms automatically. A moment later he was ducking out of the confining fabric caught over his head before watching - with some amusement - as Nathan tossed it away, not watching its flight or noting where it landed - which was, incidentally, draped over the lamp on Duke's small desk.

Luckily it wasn't turned on, or that could have been a bad thing - a bad thing that he would have had to leave the bed to deal with. Duke shook his head, realising that there was something odd about the direction of his thoughts at the moment. I think the Tylenol made me loopy. Duke thought, mildly amused at himself.

Nathan noticed his lover's distraction, and ducked his head to press a sucking kiss to Duke's collarbone, startling him out of his thoughts. Duke gasped as Nathan scraped his teeth delicately along the line of bone.

Nathan chuckled at the reaction, the low vibrations teasing Duke's shoulder. Duke moaned, his hands settling back on Nathan's shoulders, and stroking softly down his arms.

A moment later he remembered what he had been about to say. "Nathan…" he trailed off, waiting, and Nathan paused, then leaned back to look him in the eye - after pressing a last kiss to his shoulder.

There was a long beat of silence and Nathan's brows rose. He hummed, dismissing the confusion, and began to dip his head back down. Duke pushed him back lightly. "I want to actually see you." he explained, leaning back and away.

Nathan sighed, catching Duke around the waist before he leaned too far and accidentally toppled off the bed. Duke shivered at the solid, protective - and familiar - grip.

Then he leaned just a touch further - noting Nathan's arms tightening - and flicked the heavy blackout curtains away from the two windows above the bed. They'd been open a fraction before, but now the room was half-illuminated by the soft light filtered through the normal curtains beneath.

That done, Duke relaxed back onto the bed, grinning at Nathan, who simply shook his head in wry amusement, with an answering, though smaller, smile. Duke took a moment to appreciate the look of Nathan's skin, now toned a soft blue by the sunlight shining through his curtains, then turned his attention to his lover's now-revealed shoulder.

Nathan worked a hand into the small space between their chests, tracing the slightly-sunburned contours of Duke's muscles. Duke arched into the touch, though he was still unsure whether Nathan's fingers pressing firmly on the still-tender skin was an entirely pleasant sensation or not.

Nathan's steady movements faltered as Duke's hands slipped down his back, then between his skin and his waistband before dragging around his hips to tug clumsily, but with the confidence of long experience, at the fastenings.

Duke pulled away from Nathan's shoulder in favour of looking at what he was doing, noting absently that he had raised a red mark that would likely bruise impressively by tomorrow. Nathan, of course, hadn't noticed a thing.

"You didn't get all the way comfortable." Duke pointed out, before focusing on the well-worn jeans - which came off easily. Nathan leaned back on his elbows and arched his hips helpfully as his lover dragged them off - leaving the boxers beneath alone - to be dropped unceremoniously on the floor.

"You too, then." Nathan insisted, sitting up to tug at Duke's pants before his lover could settle back down. Duke's brows rose, but he bit back the teasing comment that had instantly sprung to mind.

"I think if I'd lain there another minute I might have fallen asleep in my jeans." Nathan admitted, having considerably less trouble with the pants than Duke had with his own.

Duke half-smiled as his trousers landed on the floor. "I could probably use the nap anyway." he said. "I bet you could too, after-"

Nathan interrupted him. "Don't." he said flatly. "I don't even want to think about it." He scowled darkly at the very idea.

"uh, yesterday." Duke finished tactfully, laying back down and pulling at Nathan's arm to get his attention and, hopefully, encourage him to relax again.

Nathan hummed as he settled flat again, his brow still furrowed. Duke leaned over and kissed the corner of his mouth, drawing him handily out of his gloomy musings. Nathan deepened the kiss for a moment before pulling away, and Duke pressed another to his lover's shoulder.

Nathan grinned, smothering a laugh, as Duke mumbled something that sounded roughly like 'I'll fluff the antenna' into his shoulder. He recognised the muffled sounds easily - after long practise.

"I love you too, Duke." Nathan murmured, tugging lightly at Duke's hair until he raised his head. Nathan smiled at him and gave him a light kiss before he pulled away, settling on his back. As soon as Duke wasn't lying on him, Nathan then turned on his side, facing his lover, eyes closing peacefully as he got comfortable.

Duke grinned happily back, even knowing Nathan couldn't see him, before he, too, closed his eyes. The last thing Duke remembered doing was wrapping one hand over Nathan's, which rested familiarly on his chest.

At the end of the day, after several hours of waiting, Audrey was forced to think that Nathan must have simply gone home after confronting Duke - or attempting to, in any case. She had assumed that he would come back here - even if they were technically off for the rest of the day - after having yet another argument with Duke.

She packed away her things - she'd been doing some more looking through the old files, trying to find something about the ever-mysterious 'Lucy' - to head back to the motel. She had wanted to consult with Nathan on a few things, but . . . well. It could certainly wait til tomorrow, at least.

She squashed the small voice in the back of her mind that told her maybe at least one of them knew how to relax. How to actually be off-duty. Besides, he had seemed to be just as focused as Audrey herself was, when it came to work, in his own way.

Audrey sighed, shaking her head as she went out to her car.

Audrey looked up as Nathan came in to their shared 'office'-space. She raised a brow, looking him up and down - it was odd enough that he was only now coming in, when usually he had clocked in before her, but he looked . . . different. Happier than usual.

"Morning, Audrey." Nathan greeted, nodding to her before seating himself calmly at his desk. He was reaching for a file when the pull of sleeve over shoulder revealed a slight, diffuse, bruise over the top of his left shoulder.

Audrey's other brow rose to join the first as she noted the new - she assumed - mark. "Morning, Nathan." she replied archly. "Have a nice night?" she asked, smothering a laugh.

Nathan looked up at her, looking puzzled. "Uh… I suppose so? Why do you ask?" he added, a hint of suspicion rising to his features.

Audrey opened her mouth, but before she could say anything else, Chief Wournos came in and told them they were needed in the park - apparently a stand of trees had exploded out of the ground, breaking to pieces and covering the surrounding area with splinters - some of them fairly sizable - of wood.

That would have been a fairly run-of-the-mill occurrence, had it not been in the middle of a perfectly clear, sunny day. Luckily, none of the many witnesses had actually been injured by the flying branches or splinters.


This one was inspired by the prompt word 'Headache' and managed to budge my muse out of his uninspiring - and annoying - snit rather handily. Also, there will be another Haven fic from me very soon! (By which I mean tomorrow.) It will be a two-part, and I'll probably post it all at once, rather than over two days.