Author's Note: Well, we've finally come to the end! Hopefully this will answer more questions than it raises. Thanks so much for reading!
Disclaimer: As you know, I don't own Haven. I'm not making a profit, etc. I'm just playing in the sandbox with the characters and dwelling on "what if's". :)
Part Nine: "Life Goes On"
"Driscoll's dead. His followers have scattered, but we have a solid lead on the ones who went to Marion and Conrad's place last night." Nathan's eyes fell on the bloodstained earth where the rev had fallen. Police photographers were packing up. The coroner's office had left several minutes earlier with his body.
When Holly had doubled over in pain, Audrey felt her own insides being twisted. She thought it was to be her end, as well. And then Holly faded before their eyes and the pain subsided.
She wasn't sure how the newspaper could spin this, not when an entire crowd of bewildered people had witnessed Driscoll's end and Holly's disappearance.
Then again, she was so spent she didn't care anymore.
"Holly's gone," Audrey added numbly. "Why aren't I?"
Nathan reached over, took her hand in his, and squeezed it. "I don't know, but I'm not going to second guess it."
"I should be happy that it's over, but I just feel so…empty. She was ours, and we never got the chance to know her."
Nathan pushed Audrey's hair back from her eyes, tucking it behind her ear. "She did something incredibly brave. That tells us what we need to know about her." Nathan swallowed hard, thinking of the brazen young woman with Audrey's smile and his chin. She had blown into their lives like a hurricane, changing everything they thought they knew. Maybe one day he would know her again, albeit in a different life. "Parker, there's something else you should know."
She looked at him quizzically.
"I think the Troubles are over. I can feel a rock in my boot. No telling how long's it been there."
"People can put this behind them. Start to heal."
"Start to heal," Audrey echoed, almost bitterly. "Marion was so scared for Sheldyn. Now her daughter has no mother. How many lifetimes have I lived? And Marion didn't even get to have the one. How is this right or fair?"
"Marion died saving her child."
"And as it turns out, our child died saving me. Us."
"Audrey!" Duke's voice cut through the thick air. He ducked under the yellow police tape, rushed toward her, and pulled her into his arms, picking her up off the ground.
"I'm okay," she said almost as much for her benefit as for Duke's.
Duke heard Nathan clear his throat and held on to Audrey for another few seconds for effect before setting her down. "I heard Driscoll's dead." Duke began. "But you're still here? You found another way!"
"Somehow Holly did," Nathan explained.
"Where is she?" Duke asked looking around.
"Duke, she's gone," Audrey replied wearily.
Duke's smile quickly faded, replaced by a crestfallen gloom. "Gone?"
Nathan briefly sketched the details of the confrontation with Driscoll and his followers, how Holly's blade found its mark, and how she, too, felt its effects before fading out of existence.
"Holly's not dead," Duke said with certainty.
"Duke…" Nathan's warning tone came out low and dangerous. The last thing he wanted was Audrey's hopes being raised without cause. Or his own, for that matter.
"I mean it. Just listen. Holly told me about how you and the rev balance each other. But when Nate here knocked you up in her timeline, it threw everything out of whack. That's why Driscoll was able to gain power. But that energy within other-you was transferred to Holly. When she killed the rev, she took on the effects, not you."
"So that's it? I get to just…live?"
"The beauty of it is I think Holly will, too." He reached down and touched her flat stomach.
"There's no one home down there," Audrey said sullenly.
"You sure? Weren't you two…getting closer last night?"
"It's too soon."
"Just takes once." Duke shook his head. "What Holly did for you was a gift, Audrey. Holly's gift to you and Nathan. Don't waste it."
The light spray of the sea on his face couldn't bring Duke from his thoughts. He replayed Holly's story in his head, determined to preserve some part of the young woman who was.
A lifetime relived in under an hour.
If circumstances had been different, he would have pursued her to the ends of the earth.
He froze. That voice.
He turned and saw she wore one of his denim shirts. It fell mid-thigh.
He grinned at his tall, leggy, blond companion. He wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth, but maybe he would find out exactly what, if anything, she had on under his shirt. "You're looking very fetching and alive."
The weeks ticked by. Slowly life returned to what passed as normal in Haven, Maine. The painful reminders were still around; whitewashing the clapboard siding of Good Shepherd Church couldn't entirely erase the perceived shadow it cast or change the blood that was spilled there. Nor did an end to the Troubles entirely restore trust, but it was a start.
Families began to regroup.
Conrad's sister and brother-and-law took Sheldyn and planned to adopt her. Seeing the baby held by the red-haired woman so tenderly, Audrey knew that Sheldyn would have what she needed most: love. But it still gnawed at Audrey that the baby would never know her mother or father.
Others said goodbye to Haven.
Shortly after the confrontation on Tuwiuok Bluff, Duke set out on the Cape Rouge. Audrey wasn't sure whether Nathan was relieved to have the smuggler out of his hair—or disappointed. Duke promised he would be back, but he had been in one place for too long. When they said goodbye, Audrey thought she caught a glimpse of movement on the fishing boat, as though someone else was there. The knowing look Duke gave her all but confirmed it, but she let it go at that.
Nathan acclimated to life with feeling, though there was unquestionably an adjustment period. He realized certain things quickly. For one, breaking up a bar fight wasn't quite as easy to do when he could feel the brawlers land a few licks on him. For another, the mattress on his bed had to go. Audrey agreed with that, as the two settled into a routine of alternating nights, some at her place, some at his, and she could feel the springs of his mattress poking into her back.
They still worked on cases together from time to time, though these were far more run-of-the-mill than anything Troubles-related. His responsibilities as chief of police frequently had him on an entirely different schedule, from attending town meetings at night to figuring a post-Troubles budget for the police department in the wee hours of the morning. They grabbed lunch when they could or sometimes shared dinner in his office or hers. Though they tried to keep their relationship professional at the station, it was an open secret that the two were more than colleagues.
Both were also aware they were navigating deep waters.
Initially, there was an unspoken hesitancy between them. Were they brought together because of the intensity of their work and the Troubles? Could they sustain a relationship outside of the heightened drama?
And then there was the letter. Nathan had been so angry—so hurt—about the note she left him. That didn't dissipate immediately.
But at the end of the day, he wanted her by his side, and she wanted him by her side.
Physically, they were so attuned to one another that she literally craved him. She had wondered if regaining his sense of touch would lessen the impact of their touches, but he seemed equally effected by her.
"I can feel the whole world, but the only one I want to feel is you," he murmured to her one night in the darkness. Wordlessly, she pressed against him and the two moved in rhythm, slowly at first but later with increasing frenzy, until they were both left panting and sated.
This she would never grow tired of, the fit of their bodies, the fit of their hearts.
One night, he asked her to marry him, but she couldn't say yes. In the back of her mind, she worried. Were they truly free of the Troubles? Would she disappear again? She would stay with him for as long as she could. Forever, she hoped.
If we had a million nights, it wouldn't be enough.
Did the lack of a marriage license make her less committed to him? Though he took her refusal in stride—at least ostensibly—she wondered how he perceived it, especially after the letter. She had caught Nathan looking at it again one night. He had folded it and placed it in his wallet. How many times had he completed that ritual?
She wasn't Audrey Parker and didn't know who she was originally. They couldn't get married without her birth certificate, but she couldn't get a legitimate birth certificate. Yet she had to make him see that she would never willingly leave him again.
One night, she took Nathan's wallet, removed the letter from it, and burned the piece of paper in the fireplace. He watched. Saying nothing, she slipped into bed next to him.
"Why did you do that?"
"Why did you hold on to it?" she retorted softly. She traced the contours of his lips. "I do love you, Nathan," she whispered as she snuggled against him.
"When did you know?"
She smiled. "I think it was when you asked me out for lobster."
He grinned in return, a once-rare expression that, to her delight, was becoming more and more common. "I should've asked you out for lobster a long time ago."
"About that, there's really something we should check on."
"Do you think it's okay for pregnant women to eat lobster?"
His eyes widened. "Are you…?"
"Hungry for lobster?" she finished with a husky laugh. "Yes."
The End (Mostly)*
* Ha! I should probably explain this "mostly" bit. I have several snippets of Holly/Duke related scenes and Holly's life story, as well as Audrey's letter to Nathan that I wrote but seemed out of place in the story. Maybe they'll find their way out into the open as drabbles at some point?
Thanks again for reading!