Title: Untangling the Webs
Authors: Neoxphile & Faerax
Disclaimer: Haven characters are property of the Syfy channel.
Spoilers/Setting: season two canon through "Lockdown" with AU versions of the last three season two episodes
Summary: After "Lockdown" Audrey is led to an intricate series of realizations about what connects her to Duke, to Nathan, and to Haven itself.
Authors' note: We've added several weeks, and a new case, between "Lockdown" and "Who What Where Wendigo."
New readers: Please leave feedback! We're still reading it, and it'll help put us in the mood to tackle a sequel... you want to know the answer to the question posed in the final scene, don't you? =)
Tami Lawrence always loved the sea. Every day before the school bus came, she would dart across the street and jump over the seawall that kept the sea contained in the harsher weather. Mornings like this one, before she was trapped in a classroom for months on end, were even better and she was probably the only teenager in Haven who wasn't told not to sleep late all summer. Beyond the safety of the wall large boulders slowly gave way to a rocky beach. Dark gray sand littered the rocks, a testimonial to the strength of the sea breaking down all things. There was always one thing the sea gave up though.
The first rays of brilliant morning light were reflected by the relatively calm seas like a stone skipped along the surface of a pond. The sun emerged later and later each morning as the summer fled to the other hemisphere of the world. Still, while Key West was famed for its sunsets, Tami didn't think they could hold a candle to Maine's sunrises.
This morning she deftly scrambled over the rocks and down to the low tide pools where you could see the brittle-stars and crabs if you looked. The tide pools did not occupy Tami's attention that morning. As she had gone down to watch the sunrise, she had noticed something on the edges of the rocks. Something that didn't belong. She didn't know what it was.
Tami edged further down the beach, closer to the receding tide. The rocks grew slippery with algae and seaweed. Her favorite was the brown seaweed with the small bladders that kept if floating when the tide was high. They made a satisfyingly squelchy pop when you squeezed them. There was something that was tied up in the sea wrack. She wandered over it, mindful of the water and debris. The water had deposited the what-ever-it-was on the rocks, and the receding tide still nudged it if the waves rose high enough.
The rocking motion was what had caught the teenager's eye. It wasn't often that you found debris that big on the shore. Her scream as she saw it for what it was, a corpse in rotting clothing, echoed over the water and drew her parents from their house. She backed away in horror. To spare herself she looked out over the water and saw more of the corpses, bloated with rot, in various states of dress and undress. She screamed again, and turned and ran. She forgot the slippery algae and the sea wrack.
The sea broke down Tami Lawrence.
Audrey groaned as she answered the incessant ringing of her phone. She really resented that phone some days, especially when it woke her up out of a sound sleep. She'd spent most of the night tossing and turning and thinking about the relationship she had just ended with Haven's resident marine biologist. It wasn't that she missed Chris so much as she doubted that anyone in Haven actually wanted her for herself. Everyone only ever seemed interested in her for her ability to solve their problems. Of course, it would be hard to be wanted for oneself when you didn't even know who you were.
She flipped open her phone while trying desperately to smother a yawn.
"Parker you need to get to the beach off Mill Road. There's trouble." Nathan hadn't even waited for her to greet him before letting her know that there was a problem. Audrey stared at her clock. It was just past six in the morning. Another glorious day in Haven.
Her voice still rough with sleep, she asked, "Trouble trouble or just regular trouble?"
"Don't know yet." Nathan must have cornered the market on succinct. Audrey figured he must have been trying because he at least added the word "yet." She'd lived in Haven for a few months now and still hadn't figured out why Maine residents rationed words like water in a desert. Idly she wondered if Duke's veritable verbal diarrhea was what had caused him to be labeled the town bad boy.
"Give me a couple of minutes to put myself together, Nathan, and I'll be down. Which one is Mill Road again?"
Audrey had already pulled herself out of the bed, and was walking across the floor boards. She'd had all the windows open last night, as well as the balcony doors, and was miserably hot and humid. Need to talk to Duke about getting the A/C up here and not just in the restaurant, she thought.
Nathan sighed, telegraphing his bewilderment that Audrey couldn't figure out a road naming system that he seemed to feel was obvious. "Mill Road is Route 7 east. Head to west into East Haven and turn south on Farm road. Left at the fork in the road."
Audrey rolled her eyes. Why East Haven was actually on the west side of town was yet another mystery about the town. Why the town had only put signs up on about half the roads was another. Her personal favorite was that if you knew the highway number, the road was named. If you knew the road name, there was only a highway number. How these people lived before GPS was truly a mystery. At least Nathan never gave her directions that included phrases like "Turn left where the Miller's barn used to be. That barn fell down in 1987 in a freak hailstorm. Killed 3 cows." That was the last time she asked David Teague for directions.
Pulling on her pants and pinching the phone between her ear and shoulder, she replied "Ok, I'll be there in a few minutes." With her pants loose around her waist, she took the phone from her ear and disconnected. She tossed the phone on her bed and proceeded to finish getting dressed.
Audrey was putting her gun in her holster as she clattered down the stairs. When she reached the bottom, she noticed that the chalkboard was a flat black. Duke seemed to amuse himself drawing on it almost every day, advertising whatever alliterative special he had going on. She'd asked him if Taco Tuesday was a once-off or a recurring theme. After she had finally explained her day off to him and all the horror it had entailed, he vowed that it would be Taco Thursdays from here on out. Apparently tacos were a popular staple at the Gull.
The board being blank bothered her. If Duke had been there, there would have been something on the board. Ever since she moved in, she'd noticed that Duke frequently arrived at the Gull early in the morning and had put in more than a few 12 hour days covering for one of his employees was out. His stipulation seemed to be that if one of the waitstaff was out, the bartender on duty was demoted and he would cover the bar. It was a little odd that he hadn't shown in the two days since Evi's death considering that he frequently checked in even on days when he hadn't scheduled himself to work.
She vowed to visit him that day, if she could. Duke hadn't been entirely himself immediately after Evi died, and he had nearly exploded again when Nathan and Audrey had explained why they felt the need to hide the cause of her death. She could tell that he didn't trust her and Nathan to actually look into why Evi had been murdered, and she was a little worried he'd go after the Rev himself.
The car crunched down the gravel in the driveway as Audrey backed out of her parking spot and left the Gull's driveway. She only got lost once trying to find Route 7 east, also known as Mill Road. Nathan's directions failed to mention that the left at the fork was then followed by a right at the T-intersection two miles down the road. The ruins of a barn were right at the intersection.
Nathan surveyed the scene before him. There were about fifty to sixty bodies on the beach. The coroner's people had no idea where to store so many bodies. The local hospitals would all have full morgues. Most were men, but there were a few scattered women. The clothing had mostly rotted off, so it had taken a while to determine it wasn't quite right for this day and age. Nearest guesses came from the women's dresses, which looked like late Victorian according to Vince Teague. At least that meant the bodies weren't the Glendowers, which had been his first horrified thought.
Audrey rolled up and parked on the road. She was far enough away from the curb to have earned herself a ticket, if she wasn't a cop. Nathan was annoyed that she was 20 minutes later that "a few minutes." When she got out of the car, she rolled her head around her shoulders, then ducked back into the car. An extra large coffee was in her hand.
Nathan looked out to the sea, wondering how many more bodies would be delivered to Haven by the sea. He had already called the harbormaster, and Beattie had told him that no boats were missing, and that the coast guard hadn't reported any ships lost at sea. There were too many bodies for someone not to have noticed that these people were missing, and yet, somehow they had.
None of the bodies had had any identification on them. The Lawrences hadn't seen anything odd the previous night. They had heard their daughter scream in the morning and ran out to find her seemingly dead on the rocks, where presumably she had slipped in a skull damaging fall. The paramedics took her away while trying to revive her. Nathan hoped they were successful, but it hadn't looked promising.
The girl's father had stayed to make a statement that they hadn't seen or heard anything before going to the hospital to find out his daughter's fate. This was confirmed by the folks living on this stretch of road for a mile in either direction. All had pointed out that the sea'd been calm and there had been nothing but the usual boats out on the horizon. Most of these folks had lived on the street for years and could identify every ship in the fleet.
Nathan started up the shore to the break in the sea wall that held the stairs to get down to the rocky surf. Audrey had started down the stairs, and was looking doubtfully at the wet rocks at the base. He steadied her hand as she took to the rocks. She made it a couple of boulders to the shore before she slipped. Nathan caught her before she could fall, but sadly, her coffee was not salvageable. It had splashed all over the rocks. Fortunately it wasn't near the area cordoned off as the crime scene.
Audrey gasped as she saw the field of dead bodies in front of them. Her eyes went wide and she paused her advance. "What happened here?" she whispered.
Nathan spoke quietly to her. "Don't know. Tami Lawrence found them. Her parents called 911. When they found her, they saw the bodies. Corner's not sure where to put 'em all."
The wind was fortunately blowing out to sea rather than off of it. The smell from the bloated bodies was kept down because of that small mercy. Audrey ducked under the crime scene tape. Stan turned as he heard the flap of the yellow banner. Nathan joined the two on the other side of the flimsy barrier.
"Looks like they drowned," Stan mentioned. Nathan nodded.
"That's what I was thinking, but the corner is the only one that can tell us for sure." Nathan kept looking out to sea, as if expecting more bodies to wash up.
"How many people drown in Haven?" Audrey asked, hesitantly.
Nathan turned to her. "We get a couple a year." He shrugged. "You learn to recognize the look."
Audrey wandered over to one of the bodies and knelt down beside it. It looked to be a man that once had mutton chops, judging by the hair that was still on his face. Something had eaten a couple of his appendages. "What ship sank?" she asked as she examined the body.
"Don't know. Beattie says no one's missing and the Coast Guard hasn't reported any ships lost at sea." Nathan looked at Audrey significantly. "We've got our work cut out for us on this one."
Duke had gone to Haven's lone hospital. This was the second time he'd visited Evi here. The first time she'd run out on him after conning him (again). He'd rather have been conned once more than to face what he was facing now. He was directed down into the basement, to a small office. The attendant looked up at him.
"Duke Crocker for Evi Crocker." Duke's voice was quieter than normal, his whole manner considerably subdued. The attendant nodded and pulled out some paperwork stacked thickly on a clipboard.
Duke took the clipboard and sat down in a small chair that looked like it had tried to be assigned to the lounge, and didn't quite make the cut. He patiently filled out the forms to indicate the funeral home, and then the funeral home's paperwork. Most folks in Haven were laid to rest by O'Michael's and Sons funeral home and the hospital must have decided to just include the basic paperwork with their own. O'Michael's was the only funeral home in Haven.
He finished the paperwork and asked to see Evi again. Some part of him insisted that this was a sick joke, and that Evi was conning him again. The attendant smiled sadly and told Duke that he could see Evi at the funeral home. Because she had been suspected of dying of a communicable disease, she had already been transported to the home for embalming. That at least explained the extra paperwork.
Duke nodded as he passed over the clipboard. He had an appointment with the funeral home shortly anyway to make sure that the final arrangements were made to transport Evi back to her home. He ascended the stairs and found his way to the Land Rover. He started up the car and drove to the home.
Mr. O'Michael welcomed Duke into the home and brought him up to an office that had been tastefully decorated in shades of tan and brown. The entire room had been decorated to evoke a feeling of serenity. Duke appreciated it.
"Mr. Crocker, thank you for working with the hospital this morning to straighten out the paperwork. I do apologize, but unfortunately because of the issues surrounding her death, and the difficulty in securing your marriage certificate, we been encountering some issues with your request to remove the body from the state. Fortunately, your wife's uncle was able to secure a copy of the marriage certificate from San Francisco." Mr. O'Michael handed the copy of the marriage license to Duke. He had long since lost his copy, and had not been in the mood to look for it in years. When he had needed to find it, he couldn't.
Mr. O'Michael continued. "You will need to keep a copy of this, Mrs. Crocker's death certificate, and the following permits on you at all times as you travel across state lines. You will need them if you are questioned about transporting her body. Mrs. Crocker's uncle has contacted the Farmer's funeral home, who will make the final arrangements for Mrs. Crocker in San Francisco."
After that there was more paperwork that Duke had to fill out and the director handed Duke a train ticket, for her. Unlike him, she wouldn't be traveling in a sleeper compartment.
Duke thanked the director and left the home, but not before spending a couple of minutes alone with his wife. Mr. O'Michael had done a good job with Evi's body, and she did look like she had been sleeping. Whatever had cause the inky blackness in her veins had been purged with her remaining blood. Still, the warmth that Duke had always associated with her was gone.
He reluctantly left her. She had brought back so many emotions, good and bad, in the few days she'd been in Haven. They'd been good con artists together, and for a while passionate lovers. Some part of him had wished that he had trusted her enough to believe that she wanted a second chance at their marriage. But he could usually tell when she was lying. Still, he had wanted that bit of a dream so badly he had been willing to overlook her lies and her deceit. It would have blown up again, one way or another though. And he couldn't stand the thought that Evi had brought down Nathan. Duke would have sacrificed himself to Evi, for a while anyway, to pretend he was something "special." But he could not accept her deceiving his friends.
Privately he blamed Audrey. Not for Evi's death, but for causing him to suddenly want more out of life. He was a loner, but he liked being around people. Sometimes. His near death by Helena (he still couldn't stand to think of Beattie as Helena) had changed his outlook. He realized that perhaps his friends were more precious to him than he realized. Then Audrey had shown him his daughter's picture. In a moment, that short span of time between seeing his baby girl and Audrey informing him he could never see her in person, he lived a whole life. He imagined being held hostage to a tea-party. Giving her away at her wedding. Holding a grandchild. There was another life he could have, did have for an instant. It was a surprisingly nice life.
When Evi had shown up, it brought back memories of that too brief lifetime. Evi hadn't wanted children, though. Hadn't wanted much of anything except money and not to work for it. Their cons had been among the best, but he had changed, and she hadn't. Baby Jean had shown him another life, one where he'd wanted to be a better man. Evi still wanted to be footloose and fancy-free. She'd only stay with him as long as it was advantageous for her to do so. Duke wasn't sure he could live that way again.
The drive back to the Gull was a long one. Thoughts and regrets about Evi chased each other around his head like a dog chased chickens. He would try to think about something else, but it always came back to Evi, their life together, and their life apart. By the time he got to the Gull he was ready for a few stiff drinks. Too bad he had to make phone calls first.
Each member of the Gull's staff had been called and told the Gull would be closed for at least two weeks while he buried his wife and took care of her affairs. The staff was more worried they wouldn't be paid than about his trip across country. A few of them were surprised he would travel with her body. He promised them all their pay while he was gone for the shifts they were scheduled to work.
He went out front to the blackboard. He didn't embellish the simple message: closed until further notice. Then he went to his boat, packed his things, and drove down to Portland where he would catch the Downeaster in the morning with Evi and begin the two day trek across the country. Duke Crocker left Haven without fanfare or saying good-bye.
Audrey wanted nothing more than a hot bath and a bottle of wine. There had been fifty-seven bodies on the rocky shoreline that was politely termed a beach. None of them had any identification. None of them was in modern clothing. It was like the crew and passengers of the Mary Celeste suddenly appeared from nowhere, except that the clothing was from about forty years too late to be that crew. The current speculation was that perhaps some folks doing a historical reenactment of some sort ran into trouble. Beattie was contacting Yarmouth, St. John's and other Canadian cities to find if they'd lost anyone. The general consensus was that Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island hadn't noticed any missing ships.
She could tell that the mystery was really bothering Nathan. He had to account for so many dead bodies. There was nothing to say that there was foul play involved. Still it was grating on Nathan's nerves for one reason: there might be someone with a very dangerous trouble out there causing lots of people to die. Descriptions of the dead had been provided to each of the coastal towns. Still, with the bodies were so badly rotted, it wasn't likely that anyone would be able to identify the dead without a genetic test.
In short, the day had ended much as it had begun, frustratingly. The Gull was still dark, with only a single street light in the corner to provide light as Audrey trudged across the parking lot. As she closed the distance from her car to the stairs, she was heartened to see that there was a message on the chalkboard. She hoped Duke had left her a message.
Audrey twisted her lips into a frown as she read that the Gull was closed until further notice. She sighed, realizing that her bath and her bottle of wine would have to wait a while longer. Duke needed someone, and she seemed to be it. It was likely Nathan and Duke were not speaking to each other after they had swung at each other in the station.
She groaned and trudged back to her car, debating calling Duke on the way to tell him she was coming. Sometimes the best way to catch him was to ambush him. If he wasn't at the marina, she was going to be more frustrated than she already was. She ground her teeth as she considered. She was so tired and it had been such a long and depressing day.
With a sigh, she pulled out her phone and dialed Duke's number. It didn't pick up. She called Nathan, who had told her that Duke had not been in contact with him since trying to dislocate his jaw. There wasn't anyone else she knew Duke might actually talk to. She tried calling him again and didn't get an answer. If he was avoiding her calls because he was still up set about the cover up with Evi's death...
She looked at her watch. It wasn't unreasonable for Duke to be out at this hour. She knew that sometimes his other job kept him out. She decided to compromise. She'd go upstairs, have her bath, and see if Duke would share her wine. Maybe he'd be back by the time she was done.
The bath was luxurious and Audrey had added scented oils and a capful of the Mr. Bubble bubble bath that Duke had given her as an apartment warming gift. From the look he'd given her as he handed the bottle over, she could tell that if Evi hadn't been around, he'd've offered to test it out with her. The heat from the water worked loose the knots in her spine and shoulders. After she slipped on a nightgown and robe, she made herself a cup of tea.
After she finished her cup of tea she picked up her phone and called Duke again. Still no answer. Audrey was beginning to get really worried. As aggrieved as he usually acted when asked to help out, it wasn't like Duke to completely ignore her calls. She stared at her phone, looking for answers. Suddenly the phone buzzed in her hand. She nearly dropped it because it had startled her.
There was a text message from Duke. "I'm in Boston leaving for CA tomorrow. Taking Evi home."
Audrey texted back: "Do you want me to go with you?" the thought of driving all the way down to Boston from Haven caused her soul to shudder with exhaustion. Still, she'd do it for her friend.
The phone buzzed again. "Thanks, but no. I've got to do this alone."
"Call me if you need me," she replied. She doubted he would.
A/N: This is going to be a long story. Feedback us, and we'll post more soon =)
FTR, the timeline's mostly based on Nathan's claim in "Business As Usual" that he'd been collecting information on Lucy Ripley for a year.