DISCLAIMER: They're not mine. SyFy and Stephen King are very lucky. Thanks for letting me borrow them! :)
Audrey pushes hard for Jess and Nathan, not just because she feels like Nathan's wingman, but because she feels like he deserves to be happy and Jess seems to make him happy. So she meddles and makes suggestions and does her absolute best to be a good friend.
And, though she'd never admit it to him or anyone else, it breaks her heart a little the whole time.
They're working the midnight shift because Campbell and Bonvegna needed the night off – something about being tortured by their kids' acting at the school play – and the office they share has been unnaturally quiet since they arrived in it three hours earlier, at nine. Audrey had retreated into the arrest reports on her desk while Nathan had pretended not to notice.
The silence is getting to him, though. Audrey talks nearly all the time and he's learned that when she doesn't, something is wrong. So he does what he's good at and he gently – verbally – nudges her.
"You're awfully quiet tonight," Nathan says from behind his desk. "Something up?"
She looks up from the report in front of her, eyes unfocused and distant. She backtracks, tries to process what he's asked, and eventually realizes he's made an accidentally spot on observation.
"I'm fine," she says, attempting to smile. "Just tired."
He leans back, crosses his arms over his chest, and frowns at her. "I thought we had a no bullshit rule."
She sighs, pushes back from her desk, and grabs her coat off the back of her chair. She needs to take a walk, get away from him until her head is clear enough for thinking. The minute she moves, though, Nathan's relaxed posture becomes alarmed and he sits forward, ready to stand, to follow her if necessary. She holds a hand up and he sits back almost immediately.
"I need some air," she says, pausing at the doorway. "The cold should wake me up a little." She refuses to look at him, afraid of what'll happen if she does. "I'll bring you back some pancakes."
And then she's gone, leaving a dumbfounded Nathan in her wake.
She's never been much for attachments, mostly because growing up in an orphanage didn't leave her with much hope for stability, but that seems to change when she arrives in Haven. From the moment Nathan appeared at her car door and saved her from a rocky death to the terrible sounds of Captain and Tennille, she's been undeniably attached to the stoic police officer.
She sees him holding hands with Jess on Main Street one morning and a tiny part of her wishes she'd gone off the cliff with the car that day, weeks ago. It might have been easier than this.
He pulls to a stop outside the Inn and Audrey reaches for the door handle, throws a smile over her shoulder.
"Thanks," she says. She's about to open the door when his voice stops her.
"You're not as good at hiding things as you'd like to think you are," Nathan says, his voice low and quiet. She turns in her seat to look at him, but he's facing forward, slumped down and crushed into the driver's side door. There's something defeated in his posture, like he's given up.
"I'm fine, Nathan," she says, putting as much fabricated fineness into her voice as she can manage (which is a lot, as she's been fabricating fineness since she was eight years old). "Where's this sudden concern coming from?"
He turns to look at her, then, eyes wide. "Sudden concern?"
"The other night, when we were on midnights, and now. I'm a big girl and I'm telling you I'm fine."
He winces like a man who's been slapped and she feels the bottom drop out from under her. The openness in his face disappears and the mask he usually wears when they're outside the confines of his ancient truck takes its place. He nods, turns back to the windshield.
"See you in the morning," he says.
She opens the door and steps outside, slams it behind her, and disappears into the dark. Nathan doesn't wait to see the light come on in the windows of her room; he turns the truck on and leaves before her feet even hit the stairs.
The minute all hell breaks loose in the station, Audrey grabs her phone and calls Nathan. The Teague brothers are fair enough back up, but when the Troubles arrive she really only trusts her partner to have her back. So in spite of the fact she knows he's at Jess' house, most likely naked and trying to remember what it was like to be seventeen again, she finds his cell number in hers and hits talk.
And he answers.
She's so surprised, she almost doesn't say anything, but then Dave Teague screams and she remembers why she called him, and it's Nathan to the rescue.
She can't explain why she kisses his cheek, why of all the times in their short friendship she decides at that moment to invade his tenuous personal space and kiss him, but she does it. She leans up on her toes and touches her lips to his cheek and says something sentimental about being his friend and then, as quickly as she can, she gets into the truck and she waits.
Eventually, Nathan gets in and starts up the truck and they drive towards the Gull in silence. He slows as they reach the road to the bar and as he hits the blinker light, Audrey sighs.
"I was jealous," she says, embarrassed. Nathan's quiet, offering no encouragement, so she decides to continue rambling and ruin their friendship completely because she's never been very good at doing anything half-assed. "Of Jess. Because you're my best friend and as much as I wanted you to be happy, I didn't want to have to share you…because I don't have many friends, Nathan." She takes a minute, regroups. When she feels a little calmer, she finishes her rant, her voice smaller. "I felt like I couldn't compete with Jess."
The words hang in the cabin of the truck and they stay there while Nathan parks the truck, turns it off. He leans back, his hand still wrapped around the steering wheel. Audrey thinks he looks shell-shocked, which makes her feel even more self-conscious about everything she's just dumped onto the seat between them.
"You should have said something," he says eventually.
"I'm having a hard enough time saying it now."
"I knew something was wrong, Audrey." He turns then, offers her a very small smile. "Like I said the other night, you're not as good at hiding things as you'd like to think you are."
She returns his with a very small smile of her own. "Come on, I'll buy you a beer."
He nods and they get out the truck, head down the lane towards the Gull and the obnoxiously loud bass of the house band. He holds the door open for her and, before she can step inside, leans down so his mouth is just inches from her ear.
"For the record, Parker," he whispers, his breath warm on her ear, his hand warm on her hip, "Jess couldn't compete with you. You win, hands down."
He leans back and nudges her forward with the hand on her hip. She's too stunned to reply and the noise and warmth of the bar swallow them before she has a chance to say anything at all.