Title: We Could Leave This Town and Run Forever
Disclaimer: Very much not mine.
Summary: They've got leave. It's the only way.
Notes: First, just wanted to say thanks so much to everyone who's been reviewing and favoriting and being nice in general. It really gives me the warm and fuzzies, and I appreciate it more than you know.
So, WOW, what a finale! Here's the thing, though: because I started this a while ago, anything after 2x11 doesn't apply here.
Also, what happens with the Troubles when they leave is my own stupid speculation. Probably a good thing I'm not on the writing staff at Haven. Hope it doesn't sound too wonky.
It's the only way, they decide.
It's not their first choice, not the way they wanted things to play out, not at all what they could have imagined six months prior.
But they've got leave. It's the only way.
The death threats, they can deal with (sort of).
Things are bad after she kills the Rev, and the situation doesn't improve any with time. The town is divided and angry, a pot of simmering water just waiting to bubble over. There's a lot of anger thrown in her direction, and Nathan doesn't like it.
Audrey tells him that she's fine, that she's a cop and can handle herself, but Nathan doesn't deal with the situation half as well and breaks the nose of a man they catch attempting to break into her apartment.
(He's red-faced when he tries to explain why he was in her apartment half-dressed in the middle of the night.)
After that incident, he tries to reason with her that the Rev's followers are dangerous and relentless, that their memories are long and that she really shouldn't be by herself.
She's refuses to move into his house. Instead, she goes to the hardware store and installs three extra locks.
(They usually spend their nights together, anyway.)
What gets to them in the end is the idea that she could be erased, disappeared, eighty-sixed, just like her previous incarnations, and there might not be any way to stop it.
Lucy Ripley had been in town only a few months before she was gone; going by her timeline, Audrey had already overstayed her welcome.
It's a chance they're not willing to take.
("Maybe it breaks the cycle," she says, and it feels like grasping at straws. "Maybe we're… catalysts, or something. We leave Haven, the Troubles stop."
"And if we leave, maybe you don't get erased. If they can't find you…"
She nods and is quiet. Thinking. He knows part of her is unsure, that she probably wonders if she's trying to rationalize selfishness by suggesting they can save the town.
"There's nothing left for us here," he says.)
They decide to get the hell out of Dodge while they still can.
They plan during their free hours, studying maps and scouring the internet at his kitchen table and talking softly in her bed, deciding the when and the where and the how of their great escape.
It'll be better, they decide, to take their time a little, driving some back roads across the country and lingering when they feel like it. There's no great rush – they'd already put a deposit on a place they'd found online – and he thinks it'll be good to decompress from everything.
"I like a road trip," she agrees.
They've got enough cash for a while, thanks mostly to the Chief's life insurance payout and estate. She tells him she feels bad about not contributing more, and he tells her to shut up.
"You can hold the map," he teases, and there's a grin on her face when she punches him in the arm.
"We're doing the right thing, right?" They're on her couch and she's pressed against his side, worrying her bottom lip with her teeth.
He takes her hand in his. "I can't lose you," he says, and kisses her knuckles.
She smiles and nods, squeezing his fingers. "Me either. I just still can't help but feel… guilt, or something, though. Like we're betraying them."
"I know," he admits. "I feel it, too. I grew up here. I've known most of these people my whole life."
It's quiet for a moment before she speaks. "It's for the best. For everyone." She tugs at his collar and kisses him softly.
They tell Duke, and that's it. They tell him because he's sort of their friend, and they sort of trust him, but mostly because he probably won't betray them and he definitely can get them new identities.
"I still don't get why you need the paperwork," Duke says. They're standing on the deck of his boat late at night, and there's a chill coming off the water.
Nathan shrugs. "Don't want anyone to find us."
Duke looks to Audrey, who stands unwavering next to her partner. "Okay. Well, congratulations. You're now Nathan and Audrey Cole from Providence, Rhode Island." They glance at each other, eyebrows raised, then back at him. "What, you wanted different last names? I just figured… I mean, look, I can do it, but we'll have to start all over, and it'll –"
"It's fine, Duke," says Audrey. She holds out her hand, and he gives her an envelope stuffed with official-looking documents. She glances briefly at its contents and closes it back up, holding it close to her body.
"Are we set on the other thing?" Nathan asks.
"Ready and waiting for you," says Duke. "So is this it?"
Nathan and Audrey look at each other again, having a silent conversation, and he nods. "Yeah."
"Not here," is all she tells him.
They're just standing there, then, and there's both nothing and too much left to say.
"Okay," Duke finally says. He shuffles his feet. "I guess… good luck."
He extends a hand, and Nathan shakes it. "Thank you."
Audrey's next, and Duke pauses before enveloping her in a warm hug. "I'm sorry," he says. "For… well, everything."
She squeezes him tighter for a moment. "Be good, Duke."
"I'll try," he says, letting her go with a chuckle.
She's got tears in her eyes as they head back down the pier.
It's nearing one in the morning when they climb into his truck, wanting to make their getaway when hopefully no one would notice. Everything of any importance to them fills the backseat and trunk.
The keys jingle lightly in his hand as he looks to her, an eyebrow raised. "Are you sure? Last chance to back out."
"Yes," she says confidently. "I'm sure. Are you?"
He puts the key in the ignition and turns the engine over.
Nathan's truck gets ditched about 15 miles outside of town in favor of the nondescript sedan Duke had left hidden for them on the side of a little-used back road. For a minute, they just stand there, staring at the old Bronco and mourning its loss.
(The truck had been on its last legs for months, but Audrey doesn't bring it up.)
"I'm going to miss it," she says. "It was a nice truck."
He nods. "Yeah."
"You didn't drive it off a cliff," she offers, and he cracks a smile.
They stay in cheap motels for the most part, rundown little roadside joints with "VACANCY" advertised in flickering neon lights.
("Do you think they ever light up the 'NO'?" he jokes, and she snorts in laughter and agreement.)
One motel looks just like the other, for the most part. The lobby is always dingy, with ancient computers and cigarette machines and brochures for local attractions. The rooms all have worn carpets and dim lighting and ugly paintings over the beds and cigarette-sized holes burned into questionable bed coverlets.
(Never, ever, does she allow them to get naked on top of the covers.
"Haven't you ever seen CSI?" she cries, pushing the offending item onto the floor. "When they use those blue lights?"
He can't help but laugh at her, and she puts extra effort into pushing him down onto the bleached, starchy, hopefully clean sheets.)
Sometimes they're told a remote control will cost extra; they always decline. Never are they offered a room service menu.
The water pressure usually leaves much to be desired, so she takes to washing her hair in the bathroom sink. They conserve water by taking joint showers.
He still can't feel anything but her. They're not sure what that means.
"Maybe it wasn't enough," she says. "Maybe we couldn't stop them. Maybe we missed something."
"Maybe," he agrees. "You're still here, though. That's enough for me."
They drive for stretches at a time, taking turns behind the wheel, allowing the other to rest their eyes or take a nap. They talk about everything and nothing, or they don't, and sometimes Audrey sings, off-key, with the radio.
("What?" she asks when he groans audibly.
"It's just… Justin Timberlake, Parker?"
"Hey, come on! He's got some great music."
He shakes his head, his eyes on the road. "Wish I'd known you felt this way before we started out on this road trip," he sighs.
She childishly turns the volume up and sings louder, and she doesn't miss the way his mouth is starting to twitch up in the corners.)
They camp a few times, and it's not her favorite thing in the world.
They eat food cooked over the fire she's built and he tells her about Boy Scout trips he used to take as a kid.
("I think there's a bug in my chili," she says, poking at it with her fork and squinting in the dimness. He assures her that it's all part of the experience.)
The ground is hard and cold beneath her and the chill seeps into her bones, making her shiver. He pulls her closer and kisses her hair. They share a sleeping bag in his old tent, and it's not long before they finally heat up.
(The first time, rocks dig into her back with the weight of him above her, and she doesn't want to care, but it's distracting and hurting and she tells him so.
"Let's switch," he says breathlessly. He kisses her collarbone. "You can drive."
It's one of the few times she takes advantage of his condition. She slides on top of him and starts to move, and his fingers dig into her hips, and she's pretty sure he doesn't mind.)
She jokes that, sometimes, it feels like they're on a cross-country tour of Small Town, U.S.A. railroad diners.
"Like that show on Food Network?" he suggests.
"Yes, Nathan," she laughs. "You're the Guy Fieri of pancakes."
They do order pancakes more often than not, and Nathan eats the ones she doesn't finish while she steals his hash browns. Some things, she realizes, don't change no matter how far they get away from home.
He buys rings one day, ducking into a little jewelry store while she fiddles with the dryer settings in the laundromat next door. He presents them to her, plain silver bands in the palm of his hand, when she's sitting cross-legged on a washing machine, reading a tattered old copy of Us Weekly.
"I just figured… I mean, we're the Coles now," he says, stumbling over his words.
Audrey grins at him and hops off the machine. "Let's do this," she says. She holds her left hand out, wiggling her fingers.
His nervousness eases and he cracks a smile. "Mrs. Cole?"
"I do," she says, and he slides the ring onto her finger.
She takes the larger band from him. "Mr. Cole?"
"I do." She puts the ring on his finger, and he wraps his arms around her, kissing her deeply.
An old lady in the corner claps, and they break apart, remembering that they're in a laundromat and laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation.
When finally, finally they reach their destination, a place neither of them have ever seen except through a computer screen, they're almost sad to leave the road behind, having grown used to the grind.
"Yeah, but you know what?" She turns her face up to the sun, breathing in deeply with her eyes closed. "It's nice to be out of that damn car."
They rent a small, furnished house in a coastal college town that boasts bright white walls and scuffed hardwood floors and overgrown shrubs that Nathan vows to get under control.
"Maybe plant a garden out back," he shrugs.
The price is right, and they can walk to the heart of town, and the air smells like the ocean.
It's not quite home, not yet, but it could be, and that's the important thing.
They celebrate their first night in the house with cheap wine and Chinese take-out from the strip mall a few minutes away. He snags a menu to tack onto their refrigerator.
Later, they clean up in the kitchen and he traps her between his body and the old wooden cabinets.
"Why, Nathan Wournos," she purrs. She runs her hands up his chest and around his neck.
"Cole," he corrects her, and steals a kiss. "Nathan Cole."
"Mr. Cole, are you trying to seduce me?"
"Is it working?"
She giggles and boosts herself up onto the countertop, then hooks her fingers in his belt loops and pulls him closer. He dips his head to kiss her neck, and she wraps her legs around his waist.
"Here?" he asks when he feels her hands on his belt buckle.
"I think we should christen every room of the house." There's a sparkle in her eyes when she snakes a hand down the front of his pants. His body jerks, and he strokes her legs. "The kitchen's a good place to start, don't you think?"
They slowly integrate themselves into their new life – greeting the neighbors on walks around town, checking out a football game at the college, wandering around the farmers' market on weekends.
We're new, they tell people. Nathan and Audrey Cole, from Rhode Island, ex-cops (they can't pass as anything else), just two people who wanted to get away from the grind and settle down.
No one suspects a thing.
It takes them two weeks of settling in and sitting around before they get the itch to go back to work.
("I'm not meant to play housewife, Nathan," she sighs, and he chuckles and agrees with her.)
They decide their real experience and fake credentials will allow them to become private investigators, so they get licenses and set up shop and grin at each other over the prospect of taking on cases involving cheating spouses and routine background checks.
(A woman comes in one day and describes her husband as "troubled," and Nathan nearly chokes on his coffee.)
One day, out of nowhere, he can feel again. It's as puzzling as it is wonderful.
They immediately worry about Haven, especially about Duke, and wonder what's suddenly changed to make the Troubles retreat. They're scared to find out, scared to go back and risk the new life they've begun carving out for themselves.
It becomes the moment they truly leave Haven behind them.
"How does it feel?" Audrey asks him later when she's curled up next to him in bed. There's a storm raging outside, rain pattering the windows, and it creates a cocoon-like atmosphere in their little bedroom. He quirks an eyebrow, and she rolls her eyes. "You know what I mean."
He smiles and runs his hand up and down her side. "It's great."
"I thought you'd be more excited," she frowns.
There's a rumble of thunder. Nathan shrugs. "As long as I'm able to feel you, nothing else matters."
"Oh, my. What a smooth talker you are, Mr. Cole," she teases. She raises herself up to kiss his lips, a hand on his chest, and he uses the opportunity to pull her flush against him.
"I could spend every day like this," he murmurs, playing with her hair.
She props her chin on his chest and presses a kiss into his skin. "We can."