Author's Note: This story is set after the events of episode 01x12 and may include spoilers for the first twelve episodes. It is AU after that.
Although this is not my first fanfic, this is my first attempt at a Haven fic. Feedback is cherished. :)
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. I am in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Part One: "Kissing Booths, Ferris Wheels, and Other Oddities"
In her twenty-seven years, Audrey Parker had learned a number of life truths, not that those truths seemed in any way comparable to the abundance of questions she had yet to answer.
However, as she stood behind a kissing booth at the Haven Fall Fun Fest and watched the locals and tourists mingling amid the flurry of activities, three truths seemed applicable. First, it was more sanitary to kiss a person's feet than to kiss on the mouth. Granted not as fun. Second, no good deed goes unpunished. Considering her current predicament—manning the kissing booth—that little fact was obvious. And third, Haven, Maine, got stranger by the minute.
She was at the carnival alone. Okay, so she technically wasn't alone considering that most of the townspeople and plenty of tourists were on-hand. Rather, she was there without backup. She had hoped Nathan Wuornos would come with her. Her partner was so good at smoothing things over for her when she pushed someone too hard, but before she had left the police precinct earlier in the day, he had looked at her with a lopsided half-smile and claimed to have too much paperwork.
At the moment, paperwork would have seemed like a reprieve.
Audrey was not convinced of the appeal of milling around people wearing fanny-packs, but if she was to be part of the town and find some ever-elusive answers, she couldn't hole herself away from everyone. Though after encountering the group of teenage boys she'd sent away from the booth, she was wishing she could.
Still, it was nice to be out in the fresh air. It made her feel more alive somehow.
Gulls circled overhead, their cries periodically piercing the sounds of the crowd. The scent of the salty ocean was still discernible despite the myriad of other scents that wafted through the air. Apples and cinnamon. All things fried. Lobster pups. The day definitely had the feel of fall.
On that crisp late-September day, the sunlight shone in an almost blinding angle, causing her to shade her eyes with a hand to the forehead. But Audrey saw her. A figure that looked all at once familiar and alien. The sounds of the crowd—the laughter of children, the cacophony of voices, the patter of footsteps on the pavement of Main Street—faded in her ears, replaced by a thump and a whoosh. Her heartbeat. Pounding.
"Lucy?" she choked out. She blinked back tears that sprang to her eyes without warning.
And just as quickly as she caught sight of Lucy, a cloud obscured the sun's harsh beams, affording Audrey a better view of the woman. She was not Lucy Ripley.
"You're seeing things," she uttered. Upon recognizing the sound of her own voice, she added, "And talking to yourself. Not a good sign, Parker."
Still her eyes fell on the woman she'd momentarily mistaken for Lucy.
Audrey did not know the woman, but she knew about her. True, it was nothing definitive. More the impressions yielded from watching the blond woman kneel next to her tow-haired daughter, a virtual replica of the mother right down to the matching sweaters they wore, and tie the young girl's shoe. The woman tweaked the little girl's nose, eliciting a giggle from the child, before the two continued toward a fun house filled with brightly colored balls.
The little girl would never have to wonder…or search…or hope for answers that were perfectly content to remain uncovered. No, Audrey did not know the woman, but she knew the woman cared for her child.
Had anyone ever cared for her that way? Not that Audrey could remember. But even the memories she did have, she was starting to doubt. She had always been so sure of who she was before she came to this place, but the more she discovered, the more she became acutely aware that she knew nothing. And her family history—the past that she'd spent years convincing herself didn't matter—consumed her. It was almost all she could think about.
In the few months she'd been in Haven, Maine, she had seen her share of oddities and dealt with what would once have registered as the impossible. And yet none of those had her reeling as much as the two-inch scar concealed behind thick wool socks, boots, and a multitude of unanswered questions.
Was she the woman? Or was she the child?
"You've been holding out on me." Duke Crocker's voice shook Audrey from her reverie.
She cleared her throat before turning her attention to the newcomer at the kissing booth. "Come again?"
With a swagger that reminded her of old-Hollywood era swashbucklers, Duke moved closer to the booth behind which she stood and rested his elbows on the tabletop opposite Audrey. "You've been holding out on me about who you really are."
Her brows furrowed as she tried to process his words. Does he know? How could he know? She didn't even know what to think about what the scar could mean. It was all impossible. Of course, in Haven, the impossible…
"What are you talking about?"
Duke drew in a breath, whistling as he did. "A kissing booth? I never really pictured you as the type."
The thudding in her chest began to subside as she recovered her wits. Duke had no idea what had been running through her mind, thankfully, but if nothing else, he was a welcome distraction. "What? The type of girl you'd kiss?"
He smiled broadly. "I think we both know better than that. I was thinking more the giggly, jiggly type. You know, the type who operates a kissing booth. What's the going rate these days?"
"More than you can afford," Audrey's right eyebrow shot up.
She could read his expression, see the mirth in his dark eyes, though, as always, he played it cool. This was their game, and he enjoyed it. So did she. He chased her; she eluded him. There was a time or two she'd thought about calling his bluff to see what he'd do if she let him catch her, but other than some momentary pleasure, she couldn't imagine what either of them would gain. He would still be Duke—smooth, charmingly shady, and always on the cusp of committing a felony. And she would still be Audrey—curious about things Duke could never share with her, practical, and married to her job.
Duke gestured in the direction of the prices, which were affixed to the 2x4 constructed frame of the booth. "The sign says $1.00." She frowned at him. "What? Shocked that I can read?"
"Then you can read the other sign, too." Audrey pointed to the handwritten CLOSED sign. "I'm just watching the till until Jennifer Sims gets back. You don't think I'm going to let you or anyone else distract me, do you?"
"You think I'd go for the money?"
"I didn't say that," she hedged.
"'Cause, you know, I should be very offended by that. And you really should offer to make it up to me."
"You'll get over it."
"Aren't you the least bit curious what it would be like?"
She looked him square in the eyes. "I have been kissed before."
His brows furrowed. "By someone who actually knows how?"
She brushed off his question. "A kiss is a kiss."
"That's where you're wrong. And for you to say that, he must've been a bad kisser." Audrey shot him a look of exasperation, but Duke continued, "For the sake of argument, since you do like to make things difficult, let's suppose that a kiss is just a kiss. You shouldn't have any problem raising money for charity and puckering up. What's the worst that can happen? You might enjoy yourself?"
His challenge hung in the air.
"Thanks, Agent Parker." Jennifer Sims's approach diffused the tension.
"Officer Parker," Audrey corrected, reminding the other woman and herself, to a smaller extent, that her tenure with the FBI had ended. "Or just Audrey."
"Thanks, Audrey." Jennifer flashed her a smile and waited for Audrey to remove herself from the booth.
Audrey stepped down, and looked to Duke to continue their tête-à-tête, but she was not entirely stunned to see that his tall frame remained at the kissing booth.
"Sorry to have kept you waiting, Duke," Jennifer began, and Audrey thought she detected a sultriness in the brunette's voice that had not been present a moment earlier. Jennifer removed the CLOSED sign, took the money Duke held in his hand, and leaned forward in the booth.
Audrey walked on, not particularly caring to gawk at the occupants of the kissing booth. "And there it is, boys and girls," she murmured to herself.
Her eyes scanned the crowd, not sure if she was looking for trouble or for familiar faces. She recognized several people, though they mostly exchanged nods or smiles with her rather than engaging her in conversation. Audrey didn't find small talk to be particularly easy, so she wasn't disappointed, per se, but she was reminded of hard truths. She was an outsider. An outsider with an insider's connection. Though what exactly that connection was…she wished she knew. She thought she did, but now…
When you've eliminated the possibilities, you have to start looking at the impossible.
She was living in a town where music could drive people mad, where a man's shadow could exact revenge, where a woman could control the weather through her emotions. Was it so impossible to believe that she, somehow or in some way, was Lucy Ripley?
And yet as soon as the thought entered her mind, she drove it out for the umpteenth time.
No, there had to be a logical explanation.
There had to be.
Even if there had been no rhyme or reason for much that she'd seen since arriving a few months ago, there had to be for this.
Hearing long strides behind her, she turned and found Duke falling into step with her. "Where are you going?"
Good question. Where was she going?
Maybe if she went back to the site where the Colorado Kid's body was discovered she would notice something new.
Maybe if she searched the archives at the police precinct she'd find those misplaced files.
Or maybe if she went back through Dr. Carr's records that Julia had offered up to her she would stumble upon a veritable Rosetta Stone that would unlock all the secrets of her past. Yeah right.
She didn't know. Not really. All she knew was that whatever was going on was really sucky and couldn't be fixed by her old standby: double-frosted cupcakes.
"Home, I think," she replied.
Duke's easy smile dropped. "Seriously? Just like that?"
"Seriously. Just like that." She shoved her hands in her pockets, but Duke looped his arms through hers. Audrey was surprised by the contact but did not pull away. They continued to walk down Main Street.
"Are you upset about the kiss?" he teased.
"Hardly. Besides, why should I be upset when you have to pay a woman to kiss you?"
"Jennifer was very satisfied. In fact, she gave me a refund."
Despite the heaviness she'd been feeling, Audrey nearly snorted.
"Have you even been around the whole festival?" Duke took her silence as an answer. "You should. You never know what what's going to happen."
"Somehow, I think I can do without excitement," Audrey replied.
"That doesn't sound like you."
She extricated herself from him and crossed her arms. "How would you know?"
"You live for excitement. Otherwise, why hang around me?"
"You're pretty sure of yourself."
"Yeah. And you like that. You like me."
The two continued to weave through the crowd. Her eyes fell upon different game booths. "This is a racket."
"They all go into it with their eyes open," Duke commented.
"If they don't, they learn soon enough." He continued. "That's what I like about you. Always trying to save the world."
Audrey wasn't convinced it was a compliment. Not so long ago, Duke had been urging her not to take on the world. Of course, that had been the night she'd stood him up while she and Nathan investigated the mysterious deaths of two relatively young men whose accelerated aging left everyone baffled. "Saving the world from one succubus at a time," she muttered.
Duke himself had fallen victim to the woman responsible, and Audrey remembered watching his youth and energy drain from him before she and Nathan realized that Duke's proximity to the child conceived through that encounter was what caused his rapid aging. Audrey had never seen anything like it. She'd also never seen a grown man fuss over an infant the way Nathan had. At the time, she had played it off like she thought Nathan had turned into a pod person, but the truth was, it was endearing to see him smile and just let down his guard as he held the baby.
"Nothing. It was a bad, bad joke." She looked ahead, scanning the crowd.
Relief washed over Audrey when she saw him. Funny. She hadn't even realized she had felt so apprehensive. In general, she wasn't one to analyze relationships. Quite frankly, it had never been much of an issue because her entire adult life had been wrapped around whatever was the case-of-the-moment. However, she was mildly taken aback by her own quiet reaction to her friend. "There's Nathan."
Duke groaned. "Did you feel that?"
"All the fun suddenly got sucked out of the air."
"Behave," Audrey poked Duke in the arm.
"Impossible. Just look at him. If he scowled any harder, he'd send all the small children into hysterics."
"Right. And you'd steal their candy."
"Are you trying to hurt my feelings? I'm a businessman, not a thief," Duke defended.
Audrey sighed. "I really don't understand the two of you. Last time I saw you, you were playing cards and getting along."
"You were watching us?"
"I wasn't watching you. I just…noticed." Her eyes cut to Nathan Wuornos, whose pale blue eyes, in turn, were fixed on Duke and her.
"There's no avoiding him now," Duke murmured in her ear.
"Who says I'd want to avoid him?" Audrey replied as she and Duke bridged the distance between themselves and Nathan.
"Nathan," Duke greeted.
"Duke." Nathan's gaze was steely.
"You look like you're having as much fun as a man going in for an enema."
Nathan's expression did not change upon hearing Duke's insult. "Amazing. What was that? 3.2 seconds?"
Duke shrugged. "I was thinking closer to three."
"I thought you were catching up on paperwork," Audrey interjected.
"Finished," Nathan replied simply, though remembering her annoyance with him over his sparseness for details, he added, "The chief thought it would be a good idea to have another man on the scene. Just in case."
"Always looking for trouble, Nathan," Duke commented.
"When you're around, I don't have to look too hard to find it."
"In our quiet hamlet? Would never happen," Duke assured him wryly.
Audrey's eyes skimmed the crowd. "This is all really disturbing. Jugglers. Face paint. Seriously, how is that a good idea? And balloon animals…"
"What's wrong with balloon animals?" Nathan asked.
"Maybe I'm just waiting for them to come to life," Audrey admitted.
"Then it would truly be a fun fest. For you, anyway." The corners of Nathan's mouth twitched in an expression that came dangerously close to a smile.
"Evidently, I like weirdness," Audrey said with a sigh.
"That explains so much," Duke smirked, gesturing toward Nathan.
Nathan shoved his hands in his pockets. "Haven't exactly figured out where slimy fits in there…"
"On that note, I have an appointment I must keep." He looked to Audrey. "If you're free later, you should stop by the Gull." He held up a handful of dollar bills. "We can further discuss that business venture," he added with a wink before heading on his way.
"Don't wait up." Audrey shook her head in disbelief, but try as she might to deny it, Duke was nothing if not amusing.
Once the other man was out of earshot, Nathan turned to Audrey. "A business venture with Duke?"
"More like a proposition." She paused, realizing how it sounded. "You don't have to say it..."
"Wasn't going to," Nathan replied.
"So have you been to many of these…um…fun fests?"
"What? I like…fun."
"I have fun," Nathan insisted.
"Of course. How silly of me. Nathan Wuornos and fun are synonymous with each other. I mean, there's golf."
"Golf is fun. And so are the games here."
"They're hokey. And rigged."
"But not impossible. Maybe it's in our nature to like a challenge."
"Not when it's unfair."
"Who says life is fair?" The tenor of their conversation was playful, despite their disagreement.
"Certainly not me. So you've played these games?"
"Hell no. They're rigged."
She shook her head, smiling. "Then what's so great about this? I mean, a booth where you kiss strangers. Throwing balls at weighted bottles. Clowns walking around on stilts. Do you realize how easy it would be to just stick out my foot…"
"The rides," he supplied. "The fun fest is all about the rides."
"The rides?" she repeated.
"And the funnel cakes."
"Next thing I know, you'll be telling me they're as good as pancakes."
"Next best thing. Come on." He tilted his head in a gesture indicating she should follow.
"Where are we going? For the rides or the funnel cakes?"
"Both," Nathan replied. "But the number one rule of any fun fest: rides before food."
Audrey could look up and see their intended destination in the distance: a Ferris wheel. "You can't be serious."
"It's a Ferris wheel. You like golf and Ferris wheels?" she asked incredulously.
"An odd combination," he conceded.
As the two came closer to the Ferris wheel, they found the line, which had been partitioned by yellow ropes. "The line's long," she commented. "Maybe we should go for the funnel cakes instead."
"Parker, are you scared?" Amusement shone in his eyes.
"After everything I've seen? Don't be ridiculous. I was just concerned that if something happens, we'll be out-of-pocket. Way up there. Fifty feet up. Suspended."
"Can always climb down," he replied dryly.
"All right, Wuornos. I am a little nervous about this."
The line shifted forward, and Audrey reluctantly moved with it. "Not scared. Nervous."
"What the hell for?"
"Not a fan of heights. Chalk it up to a bad experience."
"What happened?" he asked.
"I was good on the balance beam we had on the playground at school when I was a kid. Fourth grade. Stephanie Mittermeier, total she-devil that she was, dared me to walk the top of the swing set."
"Can see where this is going."
"Yeah, I almost got across the top, but I lost my footing and fell. Broke my wrist, which by the way, really, really sucks."
"I won't let anything bad happen to you." His earnest words hung in the air, and Audrey watched, as he seemed to realize what he'd said and how it sounded almost intimate. "On the Ferris wheel," he amended.
Audrey said nothing but nodded, and soon the two found themselves situated on one of the bench seats of the Ferris wheel being fastened in. They sat arm-to-arm, leg-to-leg, and much closer than they normally positioned themselves as partners and friends. Nathan was a furnace, she decided as they were slowly lifted into the air. Considering the autumn chill that was forming as the day progressed, his warmth was welcoming.
High above the ground, Audrey could see the ocean in the distance, the sunlight shimmering off it, as well as the green and gray of the shoreline. So often she didn't even notice it anymore because she was always doggedly focused on her work. "It's beautiful up here."
Nathan looked at her. "It is."
And then it hit Audrey. She wasn't afraid.
The bench dipped as it began its quick descent. A giggle escaped from her throat as her stomach did a flip-flop. Without thought, she reached out and grasped his leg. "Did you feel that?" she asked in delight. She quickly realized how she sounded. "God, Nathan, I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking."
"Actually, I did feel it," he replied with a slight smile.
For a moment, Audrey looked at him in stunned silence. She wasn't sure whether he was being sarcastic or sincere, but she had the feeling that there was more going on than she perceived. Realizing her hand was on his leg, she pulled away. "Sorry."
"The adrenaline," he explained. "I can feel the adrenaline. Happens when I'm on a rollercoaster, or a Ferris wheel, or sledding down a slope…"
"Or in danger," Audrey uttered, shifting slightly in her seat.
"Is that why you became a cop?"
"Nah. Did it to piss off my old man. The adrenaline—that's just a nice side effect."
They were rising again, nearly to the apex. Then the bench began its descent again, and Audrey felt her stomach drop, though this time she was more prepared for the sensation.
"Have you been okay?" he asked. "You've been quiet—for you—the last few days."
"Pot, meet kettle." Audrey's teeth grazed her bottom lip. Sooner or later she was going to have to tell him what was going on. If anyone could help her sort through it, Nathan could. Of course, as soon as she said something about the scar, about her suspicions, that would make it all too real. Wanting to hold on to a few more moments of normalcy, she deflected. "So what exactly are funnel cakes?"
Lady Cassandra was a fraud.
First off, she was anything but a lady. Years of living on her own and having to fend for herself in any way possible saw to that inevitability.
Secondly, her name wasn't really Cassandra. It was Nancy. But what kind of name was Nancy for a fortune teller? She would have felt ridiculous calling out to the crowds of foolish tourists, "Come, let Lady Nancy tell your fortune." No, Cassandra was much more exotic. Besides which, one of the few things she remembered from her schooling was that Cassandra, in Greek mythology, was a mortal woman who possessed the ability to tell the future.
Not that Lady Cassandra had any such delusions of grandeur. Only once had she felt anything akin to actual psychic prescience. That had been over a quarter century ago.
Like any other performer, the services she provided on the carnival trail were those of smoke and mirrors. She was, however, a keen judge of character. Through the years, she cultivated the ability to study a person for about thirty seconds and fake her way through any palm reading, spirit channeling, or fortune telling. It always amazed her what people advertised without even realizing they were advertising. Body language, accent, clothing, facial expressions, hair style, jewelry—all said a great deal about a person. She used her powers of observation to compensate for what she lacked in actual psychic gifts.
She never thought she'd live out her life as a carnie. Strange what lust could make a person do. She'd been seventeen years old when she had joined up, all for the love of Eddie Mansel. Eddie was long gone, but she continued on the circuit, moving from one town to the next.
In most cases, one town was just like another. This place, for some reason, always made her feel apprehensive. What year was it…1982? 1983?...when she thought she'd spotted a man walking on water? And it turned out that was the most normal thing she saw the whole long weekend. That woman—what was her name? Lindsey? Lucy? That was it. Lucy. Now she had been impressive. When Lucy…
Lady Cassandra pushed aside the thoughts. She had been back to Haven many times since, and everything had been fine. What she really needed to be doing was drumming up business rather than reflecting on what could be written off as a really bad mushroom trip.
She stood, stretched, and walked out of her tent. "Come one! Come all! Let Lady Cassandra tell your fortune."
Some of the people pulled their children close to them when they passed her. Very rude. Others laughed and offered a "Maybe later" to her.
"Come one! Come all—," Cassandra's call cut off abruptly when in the distance she saw a couple walking down the street in her direction. There was something familiar about the young woman. How did she know her?
The blond-haired young woman walked next to a tall, dark haired man, far enough away that she knew they were not lovers. Yet anyway, Cassandra added mentally. But there was another type of closeness between them. The man reached over toward the paper plate the woman held and pulled off a piece of what looked like funnel cake. Yes, that was it. Cassandra would recognize that carnival staple anywhere. The woman laughed and pushed the entire plate toward the man.
And then it hit Cassandra. For the second time in her life, images flashed before her eyes. Snapshots of what had been and what would be.
Not again. Not again!
She cried out, her legs giving way as the paved street came closer to her. She gasped at the crushing weight on her chest.
And suddenly Cassandra found she was not alone as she struggled to catch her breath.
"Are you okay?" The blond-haired young woman was kneeling next to her.
"I'll call am ambulance," the young man said.
"No," Cassandra replied, her voice raspy. "No ambulances." She grabbed the other woman's arm, steadying herself. Seeking the blond woman's eyes, Cassandra could see the concern there. And more.
How had she not seen it immediately? But…but she didn't look a day older than the last time she saw her! "Lucy, I-I can't believe it's you."
To Be Continued….