I've been sleeping on this since the finale back in October. I finally worked it out.
I promise that Lessons in Hypothermia is nearing completion - all I need is a good couple of hours to myself to finish it up. :)
She closed her eyes on an angry mob and opened them on the view from Tuwiuwok Bluff, the summer sun warm on her face and arms. She knew instantly where she was, who she was, and what she needed to do.
It was the how and why she was a little fuzzy on.
Nathan fusses, hovers. She knows he means well, understands why he won't let her out of his sight, but she needs space. After she bumps into him for the third time, she kicks him out, sends him home to rest and eat and drink something other than coffee and Johnny Walker. He leaves, looking like a wounded puppy, and she kisses him on his way out, makes him promise to come by later, after dark. She watches him drive off, the familiar blue Bronco pulling out onto the road outside The Gull and disappearing into the distance.
She waits only a minute before grabbing a sweater and curling up on a chair on her porch to watch the horizon. She feels small, tiny in comparison to the world around her. She thinks of the men and women who took her, who held her captive and threatened her life. She still has no idea how she escaped, has no idea how she ended up on the bluff.
This worries her almost as much as not knowing where those angry villagers are.
Duke finds her an hour or so later. She notices the sling first and his hound dog expression second. The bottle of scotch in his good hand, which gets noticed third, is unopened.
"You're alive," he says.
"Battle wound." He steps closer, keeps a fair distance besides. "Are you okay?"
She shrugs. "I guess so. Are you?"
"I'll live." He holds the bottle up, shakes it. "Welcome home?" He frowns, almost at himself. "Welcome back?"
She smiles, motions to the chair beside her. "Sit, Duke," she says, "stay awhile."
He stays an hour and they sit in comfortable silence. The sun moves behind them and the August air grows chilly. She pulls her sweater tighter around her.
"Did he apologize?" she asks.
Duke looks at her, his expression confused. "Who? What?"
"Nathan. Did he apologize for shooting you?"
His mouth closes, lips thinning to a line. "Not yet, no."
"Trust me," she says, reaching out to pat his hand. "He will."
If he notices the freezing temperature of her hand, he doesn't mention it. He does, however, mention how glad he is to see her, safe and sound.
She's still on the porch, curled up in her chair like a sleepy cat, when Nathan arrives. He looks relieved to see her, as though he thought she'd be gone again the minute she was out of his sight. He smiles, but she frowns.
"You shot Duke," she says. Her voice is soft but he knows better.
He shoves his hands into his pockets, stands firm by his convictions. "I thought he'd done something." His expression darkens. "To you."
"Did you have evidence? Proof? Anything other than a gut reaction and a standing grudge?" Her voice is no longer soft, words echoing off the Atlantic beyond them.
"You saw what happened at the compound," he says, angry. "I told you what the Rev, what Duke's father, said. You read the diary, Audrey."
She stands, stretches her tired body, and turns icy blue eyes on him. "We are not our fathers, Nathan," she says, her voice steady as she recites his own words back to him. "You've forgotten that if you thought killing Duke would save me."
She walks inside and he stares off into the distance, watches the stars disappear behind fast moving clouds. He thinks she's left him, readies himself to go home. He's almost to the stairs when she reappears with two glasses and a bottle of something that glows orange in the half-light.
"Stop running away," she says, holding out a glass. He eyes it warily, walks toward her.
"I didn't mean to shoot him," he says, taking the glass. "It really was an accident."
"I know." She pours out a good measure of liquid.
"Because, if you'd meant it, he'd be dead."
He can't argue with that logic, so he doesn't. Instead, he sips his drink – scotch, Johnny Walker. Quiet, they watch the sea.
"Apologize," she says eventually, turning her head to look at him. "For me."
He thinks of all the things he's done for her, all the things he would do. Of all those things, apologizing to Duke seems the most difficult.
But he will. For her.
Her skin stays cold. Long after they go inside and crawl under blankets and wrap themselves in each other, her skin stays cold. He holds her and warms her and wonders at where she was when she was not here, with him.
She tells him a story of angry people, of murderous intents, and of opening her eyes on Tuwiuwok Bluff with the sun shining down on her face.
"How?" he whispers. "Why?"
"All I know for certain is the who, the where, and the what," she says. He arches an eyebrow, signaling for her to continue. "Audrey Parker, Haven, and I'm here to save you." She kisses him, leans her forehead against his. "All of you."