A shorty one-shot written to fill my need for Nathan and Duke friendship adorableness. Set around the time of episode 11. Be sure to let me know what you think!
Were it not for the chill and the rain outside, Nathan would have gladly postponed entering the Grey Gull for at least another half hour. Unfortunately, Mother Nature herself seemed determined to push him through those doors and into the last place in the world that he wanted to be. When he pushed back his dripping hood, he cursed under his breath. There were no other patrons around tonight. No one else had been crazy enough to brave the weather.
Then again, no one else had received a vague voicemail from the bar's owner requesting their presence.
Seated at a table by the closed doors to the deck, Duke was currently pouring two tall glasses of Jack. He smiled and spoke without looking up. "You came. I'm impressed."
"Not my first choice." Nathan assured before starting his reluctant approach.
"Oh, I have no doubt that volunteering for Chinese water torture is on the list of things that you would rather do than come to see me." Duke joked.
Nathan grunted his agreement of the fact. "So, what do you want?" He asked with an exhausted sigh.
"For you to take a seat," Duke replied, finally looking up at him. "And a drink."
"This isn't a social visit, Duke." Nathan answered tersely. He stopped beside the table, stubbornly refusing to sit down. "You said you wanted to talk to me about a potentially Troubled resident of Haven?"
Duke grinned at that. He had not been lying, after all. "Ah, so I did – and so we shall. But first, sit. Drink." He urged.
Nathan remained glued in place, scowling down at him.
Duke sighed at his stubbornness. "What if I assure you that, here in a minute, you're really going to wish that you were both sitting down and drinking?" Duke posed as he offered up the glass of whiskey.
Nathan frowned at that and studied Duke's expression suspiciously. He did not like this. Duke was up to something here. But after a moment, he decided to take Duke's assurance that whatever he was about to be hit with would go down better with a glass of Jack. Grudgingly, he took the glass and sat down across from Duke.
"All right. I'm sitting. I'm drinking. You got what you wanted; now tell me what I'm here for." Nathan urged impatiently.
Duke smiled and nodded at Nathan's typical discomfort in his presence. "You are always such a joy to be around, you know that? Like one great big ball of sunshine…" he joked until, right on cue, Nathan started to climb to his feet. "I'm kidding! I'm kidding. God, stop being so touchy. I'm just…" He rolled his eyes and shook his head, knowing how tense this conversation was likely to be. "I'm not really sure where to start here."
Nathan arched his brow and slowly sank back down into his seat. Duke – not knowing how to broach a subject? This could not be good. He tossed back the contents of his glass. "Just start," he offered gruffly with a shrug of his shoulders. "Do it quick, like ripping off a Band-Aid."
"Fine…how long?" Duke asked quietly.
"How long what?" Nathan asked curiously as he studied the empty glass in his hands, anything to avoid looking at Duke's face.
"How long…have you been able to feel Audrey?" Duke managed to ask with a wince.
Nathan's eyes widened as those words echoed through his mind. He looked up at Duke in stunned disbelief. "What? What makes you think…?"
Duke shot him an incredulous look for the attempt. "I overheard you talking to the chameleon. At first, I kept trying to tell myself that I hadn't heard you right…but then, the other day, when you were talking about someone like you meeting a woman and feeling her touch…" He shook his head. He had been postponing having this conversation for weeks now. "So, again, how long?"
Nathan shifted uncomfortably in his seat before sliding his empty glass across the table for a refill. "You're not the first person I would choose to have this discussion with," he grumbled.
Duke smiled as he poured Nathan another drink. "Yeah, well, I think we both know that you haven't quite yet worked up the nerve to have this discussion with the 'first person' you would choose. Besides," he said as he handed the glass back. "You gotta talk to somebody about it eventually. If not with me, then who? And if you didn't want to talk to me about it, why did you bring it up when it was just us the other day?"
"You and I are not friends, Duke." Nathan pointed out, almost as a means of reminding himself.
"Typically, no. But it seems like whenever shit goes south in your life, we do a fair imitation of friends," Duke reminded before taking a drink. "I'm sorta like a bad-weather friend, instead of a fair-weather friend, don't you think?"
Nathan scowled at that, mainly because it was the truth. They had never gotten along as kids. Duke had been the popular one with the group of friends following him around all the time. Nathan had been the freak that seemed to be their favorite target for pranks and ridicule. But after his mother had died, when he had gone through a…rebellious stage, he and Duke had somehow come together.
Every act that Nathan regretted in his life had been done with Duke by his side. Every time that he had broken the law as a teen, every time that he had been busted for underage drinking, fighting, vandalism, or burglary, Duke had been right there next to him in the back of his father's patrol car. And maybe that was why he loathed Duke so much now. He had been another person in the days when he and Duke hung out, a person of whom he was not proud.
Duke always looked at him like the best friend that he had lost, but Nathan had long-since buried the impossibly selfish, intolerably cruel, uncontrollably violent teenage boy that Duke had accepted and admired. Duke missed a side of Nathan that he hoped would never again see the light of day. He supposed, if he was honest with himself, that he was afraid of two things when it came to Duke: that Duke would somehow bring out the worst in him or that Duke would be unwilling to accept the best in him.
"So when are you gonna tell her?" Duke asked before tossing back a large portion of the contents of his glass.
"I haven't even decided if I'm going to tell her." Nathan answered glumly and took a drink as well.
Duke stared at him in astonishment. "You've gotta tell her," he insisted, but his once best friend seemed to wholeheartedly disagree. "Nathan, man – you can't just keep that little bombshell to yourself. She has a right to know."
Nathan shook his head. "No she doesn't. It would probably be easier for her if she never found out."
"How the hell do you figure that?" Duke asked.
"I don't want her to feel – I don't know – obligated, I guess is the right word." Nathan offered with a self-conscious shrug.
"What? You think that if she hears about this, she'll feel like a pity fuck is in order?" Duke asked with a smirk.
Nathan's features twisted in distaste at Duke's choice of words. "Yeah, Duke. You could say that." He answered in disgust.
"You really think it would be out of pity?" Duke laughed. "Wow. Nathan, man, I gotta tell you, for a guy who's supposed to be a Detective, you suck at reading people."
"What do you mean?" Nathan asked defensively.
"Did you ever wonder why she and I never got together? Did you ever stop to think about how, when she does come see me, it's only when this place is packed or when Julia is with us?" Duke asked in amusement. "I've been pegged as a beer-bud, Nathan, nothing more serious than that. And the reason for my downgraded status is because she's already got somebody in mind for dating material."
Nathan stared at him with a look of abject perplexity on his face that made Duke laugh.
"I'll give you a hint, Nathan. He's sitting at this table, and he's not me." Duke offered.
"No way," Nathan insisted adamantly and shook his head at the idea. "Parker doesn't…"
"Dude, I'm telling you, she does. And frankly, I'm a bit insulted by your refusal to believe me. Since when have you ever doubted my ability to read women?" Duke asked with an arched brow.
"She isn't like any of the other 'women' that you've read. She's different. She's…" Nathan began.
"She's what? 'Special'?" Duke pressed with a smirk. "Would you please just admit aloud that you're totally into her? I mean get it off your chest already. It's painted on your face every time the two of you are together."
"I…" Nathan began, but stopped himself.
"More whiskey first?" Duke offered knowingly and caught the glass when Nathan slid it across the table for him. He waited after giving it back for Nathan to drain his third drink of the evening. "Just say it. Say, 'I am totally…'"
"I am totally into Audrey." Nathan confessed in a reluctant grumble.
Duke's grin lit up the bar. "Excellent!" He commended before smacking his hand down on the table between them. "We're making progress here."
Nathan fought to suppress a smile, but with three glasses of Jack in him, Duke always seemed far less irritating for some reason. Considering that his discovery of how extraordinarily well they got along had been during his teenage drinking binges, he should have known better than to drink tonight. Duke was setting him up to rekindle a long-dead friendship, to rebuild a bridge that Nathan had assumed he burned from shore to shore. Unfortunately, Nathan was currently too confused about the whole Audrey dilemma to hang onto old grudges.
"Here's to progress," Duke offered.
Without hesitation, Nathan tapped his glass against Duke's. The clink of the glasses brought back old memories. "To progress." He agreed and caught himself smiling at Duke with their glasses still together in the toast, actually looking him in the eyes for the first time in many, many years.
"Ho-ly shit!" A voice gasped from the front door, and both men turned to find Audrey standing with her mouth hanging open in disbelief.
Julia rushed in beside her, pulling off her rain-slicked hood and taking in the scene with similar astonishment. "Holy shit is right," she muttered.
"What universe did I just walk into?" Audrey laughed. When Nathan shifted awkwardly and looked as if he was getting ready to jackrabbit out the door, she held up her hands pleadingly. "No! No, you stay! Just act as if we're not even here. We'll help ourselves. Is that cool with you, Duke?"
Duke fought to hold back his grin. "Fine by me," he agreed. As the ladies set up all the way at the far end of the bar, he turned his attention back to Nathan. "Well…let it never be said that Audrey doesn't have impeccable timing."
"I should head out…" Nathan muttered.
"Or…" Duke began and waited for Nathan to look at him again. "You could take advantage of this situation and have a chit chat with Ms. Parker over there."
"She's with Julia. They're having fun, why should I ruin it?" Nathan asked self-consciously.
"Trust me, what you need to tell her will do anything but ruin her night." Duke assured. "Besides…Julia and I need to have a talk of our own, anyway."
Nathan's brows drew together curiously. "Really?" He asked with honest interest.
"Yes, really." Duke laughed.
"Julia? Little Julia? The one with the pigtails who used to trail along after you like a lovesick puppy dog?" Nathan asked and fought off another smile.
"In case you failed to notice, Nathan, she's not quite so 'little' anymore." Duke said with a smirk. "And I think seeing her in pigtails now would have a whole different effect on me."
"Huh." Nathan breathed in surprise as Duke climbed to his feet.
"I'm gonna send Audrey your way to – you know – give Julia and I some privacy." Duke warned with a wink. Giving Nathan's shoulder a reassuring squeeze (which, despite not being able to feel, Nathan saw and appreciated), Duke leaned down and muttered quietly, "Good luck."
"Yeah…you, too." Nathan answered distractedly.
He watched Duke go and, upon seeing Audrey glancing in his direction, reached across the table for the bottle of Jack. If ever there was a need for liquid courage, it was right then. Watching her cross the bar and make her way over to him, Nathan fought off the desire to turn and run the other way. When she sat down across from him, he swore his heart did a somersault inside his chest.
"Soooo…" She began with a wide grin and equally wide eyes. "How are you tonight?" She asked and he could tell that she was close to bursting at the seams with questions.
"I'm fine. And you?" He asked coyly.
"Fine…fine…I'm good." She answered and knocked on the table. After a moment of silence between them, she finally could not stand it anymore and had to broach the obvious topic. "So, you and Duke, huh? What's that about?"
Nathan looked down at the glass in his hands as a means of hiding his smile. "Just talking."
"Just 'talking'? Since when?" She asked incredulously. "You two don't 'just talk' to one another. You can barely stand to be in the same room as him."
"Wasn't always that way, you know." Nathan offered and looked up at her with a half-smile on his lips. "Actually, he called me down here for a reason."
"Oh, really?" She asked with a laugh. "And what might that 'reason' be?"
"To let me know what a jackass I've been for not telling you something," Nathan replied and instantly his stomach began locking up.
"Oh?" She asked in thorough intrigue. "What haven't you told me, Wuornos?"
Oh God, he thought to himself in panic, I cannot seriously be doing this now…maybe tomorrow…or next week…or better yet, NEVER. But Audrey was sitting there looking just as gorgeous as ever and for some unfathomable reason, his last name on her lips was impossibly sexy and the Jack was drowning out his inhibitions and before he knew it, he was standing and moving to the seat beside hers…
She watched him approach with surprised interest. Once he was sitting next to her, she could not get herself to look anywhere but into his eyes.
"I haven't told you…" Nathan began in a low, gravelly tone that made her knees feel wobbly. He reached out and took her hand in his, running his fingers across her skin and marveling all over again at the sensation. "That I can feel you."
Audrey's eyes just about bulged out of her skull. "What?" She asked in astonishment and instantly sat up straight, moving closer to him and staring down at their joined hands. "You can feel this? Seriously?"
Nathan smiled and nodded. "Yes. I can definitely feel this," he agreed with a chuckle.
"How about this?" Audrey asked and the mischief that flickered in her eyes confused Nathan at first. Fortunately, he did not have to wait long to figure out what was going on inside her devious little mind. She leaned forward, not giving him a chance to think twice or reconsider their close proximity, and claimed his mouth with her own.
Nathan's eyes widened in surprise before rolling closed. He let out a muffled, 'mmm' into her mouth as she climbed into his lap and draped her arms over his shoulders. In an instant, any thoughts he might have had of taking a moment to think things through had dissolved. He kissed her back hungrily and eagerly, running his hands over her back as he pulled her down against him. Audrey let out little moans into their kiss that he was sure would be the death of him. She ran her fingers through his hair, tugging on it lightly and dragging her nails across his scalp. He growled in approval as their breathing became heavy.
Slowly, they became aware of the thunderous applause coming from the bar. Duke was giving them a standing ovation as Julia cheered and whistled.
"Get it girl!" Julia called.
"Hell yeah, Nathan! That's how you do it!" Duke commended.
Nathan and Audrey had to end their kiss as they both burst out laughing. They looked back across the bar to find the other two still clapping and catcalling.
"Drinks on the house to mark this momentous occasion!" Duke declared.
Audrey shook her head and looked back into Nathan's sparkling blue eyes. "Well…I think it's safe to say that further investigation into what you can feel will have to wait until we're not performing before a live studio audience."
"Sounds like a date." Nathan purred. "Though I'd really appreciate it if you didn't stand up just yet."
Audrey laughed at that and wiggled in place. "Fine, I'll stay…but I'm not going to make it easy for you."
"I'd expect no less from you," he assured and held onto her gratefully as Duke and Julia joined them at the table for a celebratory round.
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