A/N: Written for the alphabet_soup challenge over at LJ. Prompted and beta read by Tania.
O is for Original
Duke had never cared for cops or special agents. He'd never liked authority figures, yet when he met Parker, there was a spark between them from the word go. At first it was pure attraction. She was beautiful and she needed help. Pulling her out of the water and saving her life allowed Duke to look at her face without the need of pretense. Old memories stirred and he frowned in confusion. It couldn't have been her. It couldn't have been the same girl that saved his life so many years ago. She looked the same, yet there was an innocence the other girl didn't have. It must've been a fluke, a simple coincidence, but it was strange enough so that Duke didn't take her to a hospital, deciding instead to keep an eye on the agent himself.
When she woke up, she was as fierce as ever and the innocence was gone, but Duke still couldn't stop himself from trusting her. Something was different about Audrey Parker, and he decided to give her a chance and prove it.
But of course the Troubles came back, and the world became crazy once again. There were murders and drawings coming to life, and people going crazy thanks to a simple tune. There was a tattooed man who would supposedly kill him, and a reverend spouting hate. In the middle of all that was Audrey Parker and Nathan, and somehow, also Duke. Despite his efforts to stay away from the Troubles, they either found him or he was pulled in by Audrey and Nathan. Somehow, even if he tried to pull back, he was becoming closer to them, which was crazy in and of itself. Nathan and Duke didn't fit. There was too much history between them to let bygones be bygones, and became friends again. Yet Audrey made them push the old hurts aside and focus on the present.
And as time passed, Duke stopped thinking of Audrey as a cop. He stopped thinking about the girl from the past that saved his life. It might've been Audrey's mom, or it might've been Audrey herself – he didn't know. He didn't ask, because that seemed like dangerous territory. He didn't need to know when Audrey was born or what her real name was. All he cared about was the woman he had pulled out of the water, the one that had helped save the town, and his own life, several times. For Duke, Audrey Parker was a friend, a woman he adored and respected. She was a woman that saved everyone, and now his dead father told him she was the root of all evil, that she was the reason the Troubles existed. Audrey Parker was the woman he was supposed to kill, and if Nathan's murderous look was anything to go by, he thought Duke might've done just that. Duke would've laughed at the irony of it if it weren't for the gun being pointed at his face, and the freshly tattooed maze staring at him from Nathan's arm.
Nathan didn't care for the woman that claimed to be the real Audrey Parker. For Nathan, there was only one Parker, and she was standing by his side, throwing confused and angry looks toward the car in which the false Parker was sitting in.
"I know who I am," she said and Nathan nodded, his right hand sliding down to Parker's hand, touching her fingers lightly.
"I believe you," he said and squeezed her hand reassuringly. There, her touch sent a shot of warmth up his arm, right toward his heart. He didn't care for the agent sitting in the car. She could've been claiming to be Mother Theresa herself. There was only one Parker, the one looking at him right now. Only one Parker could make him feel and he would do anything to keep her safe, to keep her by his side.
"But what if she's right?" There was doubt in her voice and Nathan shook his head.
"It doesn't matter, Parker. I will always have your back." 'You will always be the only one for me', he thought, but didn't say out loud. He couldn't, not yet. Not here. "We will figure it out. It must be the Troubles."
She nodded and gave him a small smile, and he knew she didn't believe it, but that she understood. Whatever the outcome, she wasn't alone.
As it turned out, it wasn't the Troubles at all, but in the end it were the Troubles that solved their problem. It was ironic how the original Audrey Parker lost all her memories, while the 'copy' maintained the false ones. Nathan shook his head. No, he couldn't think of Audrey as a copy. She was real, she was the original. He'd met both Parker's and yet, if he were to choose, it would be Parker, his Parker. The only Parker. Despite their shared memories, the same likes and dislikes, his Parker was different.
She had so much empathy, she was fierce and she made him feel. Not just by touch. She made him feel like a person he could learn to like. His Parker made him human, and she was the only person in the world who could do that, with a simple look, a spark in her eyes, or a smile. For Nathan his Parker was the original, and would always be. Maybe that was why he threw aside all his past relations with Duke Crocker and believed he posed a threat to her. That was why he didn't think, why he only acted on his emotions, as he barreled into Duke's home and pointed that gun. There was only one Audrey Parker in this world, and Nathan didn't want to lose her, no matter what.
She didn't know who she was anymore. She'd spent almost a year chasing a ghost she believed to be her mother, only to find out somehow, it was her. Somehow, she moved through time, twenty years of it, without getting a single wrinkle. Somehow she stopped being Lucy Ripley and become Audrey Parker, an FBI agent with memories of a life that wasn't hers. Somehow, she became a copy of a person.
It sickened her not to know how or why. Who was she? Was she Lucy or Sarah? Were there more names, other memories before that? She came with the Troubles, yet she was the one immune to them. Why?
She wanted to run, to leave town and the Troubles behind, but she was scared she would lose herself again. Audrey had the memories of someone else. She'd lived the life of someone else and she couldn't be sure at what moment she'd became Parker. Was it at the hotel or was it on the road? Was it after the Peters case or before that? How long had she really been Audrey Parker? There were so many possibilities that it made her head spin. She couldn't think about it, because she would only get lost. The first defining point, the moment she became Audrey Parker, was the moment she drove her car onto the edge of a cliff and pulled a gun on Nathan. That was when her life had begun, here in Haven. So how could she leave town? She needed Nathan and Duke, she needed them to make sure that she was real, and not just someone's memory. She needed them to exist.
There was also the little fact that the need went both ways. The last two years had given her plenty of signs that the town needed her to stop the Troubles. After all, that was why she was coming back, time and time again. While Duke's father thought she was the one bringing the Troubles, Audrey hoped it wasn't true. She hoped that in all that was strange and crazy, she had a purpose, and that it was to help, not to harm. The woman she met, the original Lucy Ripley, only strengthened that belief. She gave her the courage to tell Nathan the truth, to tell him everything she'd learned and hope he could accept it. For a moment, Audrey didn't care what her name was, or who she'd been first. All that mattered was the now and here. All that mattered was the future she could see, one where she wouldn't be alone anymore. She was almost dancing, filled with hope, when she heard the knock on the door.
"Nathan, you're early," she said with a smile as she opened it. She felt confused for a second when she didn't see Nathan, but that second was quickly gone and her eyes went wide as electrodes touched her skin and plunged her into darkness. Audrey's last thought before the electricity hit her were of Nathan. The Troubles had finally found her and she hoped he would be able to find her too.