The Phone Call
Audrey's Side

Audrey crossed her arms, frustrated. It seemed like Duke was always on his little boat, but now that she actually needed him - to talk to him, at least - he was nowhere to be found.

She turned and headed off the boat with long strides, only to freeze with one foot just about to land on the plank he used as a ladder.

Well, if she really wanted to talk to him, now, she'd bet that Nathan would know where Duke could be found. Audrey smiled to herself, pulling her phone out and turning her back on the marina. She waited, the annoying ring in her ear echoing for longer than usual, but eventually Nathan picked up.

"Th- This is Nathan." he said, slightly out of breath. "What is it?"

Audrey blinked. Why did he sound like that, anyway?

"Hello?" Nathan said, then waited a moment. There was a sound as if the phone were moving through the air, and Audrey was jerked from her odd - and unprofessional Audrey, focus! - speculations.

"Nathan! Hey, this is Audrey." she managed.

Nathan waited. "…yes? Am I needed- Oh." he stopped with a resigned sigh. "Please tell me there hasn't been another-"

"No! No, no." Audrey insisted, "Um, I just wanted to talk to Duke, you know, see if he had any insights on it, as his boat is almost next door - or whatever - to the last one affected…" she trailed off, taking Nathan's sudden and somehow emphatic silence as a bad sign - and what had that . . . other sound been? "Nathan?"

Nathan sighed. "Yeah, I hear you. So . . . why exactly are you calling me? I would have thought you wouldn't want me around, if you were questioning Duke."

Audrey sighed, looking around at the boat - she firmly told herself that she hadn't just heard Nathan talking in low tones to someone else. Listening in was rude, anyway. "He's not here, and I figured if anyone would know where to find him if he's . . . somewhere else, it would be you." She left out the fact that that was probably because he had followed Duke on suspicion of something.

"You're on his boat?" Nathan repeated, suddenly startled, his voice louder than necessary.

Audrey frowned. "Ye-es… Why? Some reason I shouldn't be?"

"Stop that!" Nathan whisper-yelled, but Audrey didn't think it was at her. A moment later she heard a shakily indrawn breath and the phone hitting something soft - like a pillow, her mind suggested instantly. She quashed it and debated hanging up.

Before she could, however, Nathan came back on the line. "Uh, no, I don't suppose so…" he replied uncertainly. "I'm sorry… I don't know where he might be if he's not there. You might - ah - leave him a note or something?' he suggested fuzzily.

Audrey hummed. "I suppose so. I really ought to get his phone number, I guess…"

Nathan grumbled something half-audibly. Audrey thought it was, "I can't help you there."

She sighed. "Um, Nathan?" she said hesitantly.

"Yeah?" he answered, his voice a little strained.

Audrey suppressed a laugh she was perilously afraid might come out as a giggle. "Tell . . . whoever that is, that I'm sorry to have . . . interrupted, 'kay?"

There was a sound that Audrey thought was laughter - smothered laughter, but it sounded as though it was a man's voice. And definitely not Nathan's. Hmm…

Nathan cleared his throat. "Uh, thanks."

Audrey spoke again, impulsively - she almost wanted to kick herself when she heard her own voice, but… "Is that a man's voice, Nathan?"

Nathan groaned, but he answered quickly enough. "Yes." he spoke shortly, and Audrey thought he might hang up before… There was a slight, near-inaudible murmur, and then Nathan groaned again.

"He says 'thanks' as well, and that you're forgiven, as long as you don't make a habit of interrupting us." Nathan quoted, attempting to be toneless.

Audrey opened her mouth, but there was another, slightly more insistent murmur, and then Nathan continued, "All right, all right! He says that we get little enough time because of work anyway, without it calling me up. Sorry." he added, though Audrey wasn't sure if he was addressing her, or . . . whoever that was.

"Okay. I'll try not to." Audrey said. She supposed it would be unbearably rude to . . . ask? Yes, it would. Pity. "Sorry. Bye, Nathan. See you at work tomorrow."

There was a pause, punctuated by a gasp. "Y- yeah. Bye, Audrey." The connection terminated, and Audrey gave in to that giggle.

She left a note, as suggested, for Duke, telling him that she wanted to talk to him - strictly as a possible witness in her latest investigation - and then left. As she headed back to her car, she found herself wondering if Duke knew anything about the mysterious man who had been with Nathan…

~Fin, Part I~