Nathan glances over at the chair he was tied to. Remembering, it suddenly occurs to him that Audrey had untied him, and he hadn't felt her touch. Was that feeling of her lips on his cheek an aberration?
I can feel her touch. Well, at least I could feel her lips on my cheek. Come to think of it, I felt the pressure of her hand on my shoulder when she kissed me on the cheek the other day. Why didn't I feel her when she untied me?
Thinking about the Chief: "I had to shoot my own partner." A dawning realization follows, filling him with dread and a fear that knots his stomach.
"I need to speak with you" he tells Audrey, separating her from the group still talking about the broken plaster. They move far enough away so they are not overheard by the occupants of the room, and none of the others notice the separation.
Oh, either way, this is gonna hurt. "Do you trust me?" Nathan asks Audrey.
"Yes of course."
He reaches across to her and takes her hand, noting the perplexed look on her face.
He brings his other hand up, and now her hand is pressed between both of his hands. He desperately rubs her hand between his, trying to feel something, anything to prove him wrong.
He feels nothing.
Dread, heavy like wet wool, settles over his heart.
"Nathan, are you all right?" Audrey asks him.
"no, I'm not."
He had hoped one day to kiss her, but not this way, not as a test. He releases her hand, cups her cheek with the palm of his hand, and with a heavy heart he kisses her.
He feels nothing against his skin, his lips, his hands.
Emotionally, though, he's feeling plenty: sorrow that his beautiful partner is dead, sadness that his friend has been murdered, anger that the one chance he had to feel again has been taken away from him.
"What the Hell was that for?" she, or rather it, asks with her voice and her expression of surprise and shock.
He pulls the gun he reclaimed when the lights went out and points it at the Chameleon masquerading as his partner.
"Nathan, what are you doing?" it asks, backing away from him, and he pulls the trigger.
A Blood-red flower blooms over her left breast, his aim was true. She, or rather, it, falls to the floor.
He hears Duke shout something, though he has no idea what Duke says, his whole being is focused on the creature that looks like his partner, bleeding on the floor. "You killed my FRIEND!" he roars, angered and heartbroken in a way he never knew he could feel.
"How did you know it was me?"
He leans in close to the creature, lowering his voice so that the now attentive partygoers cannot hear his secret.
"I can feel Audrey, I can feel her touch. I can't feel yours."
"I thought she could help me, like Lucy Ripley did."
"If you though she could help you, then why did you kill her?"
"She is different, she didn't die like all the others."
Hope roars into him like a hurricane, shoving the grief away and filling the empty places in his heart.
"She's alive? WHERE IS SHE?"
Running. He's running. Shouting for Audrey as if he's yelling for a lifeline. Into the storage room, and to the trunk. It locked her in a trunk? If she's died in this trunk, I'm going to go kill it again.
He opens the trunk, and there she is, his beautiful Audrey. She's still breathing, though it's shallow.
Tears of relief spring to his eyes.
Between the two of them, he and Duke lift her up to a sitting position, bringing her head into the fresh air beyond the trunk.
He llifts her hand, and the heady rush of contact races through him, sensation beyond words, feeling that makes him bring her hand to his lips. He can feel her fingers against his lips, too. More proof that she's alive.
Someone uses cleaning solution as if it were smelling salts to bring her around.
"Audrey? Can you hear me?"
Her eyes open.
And he falls in love.