'I don't see why she needed to come along.'
Audrey can't quite help the petty edge that comes into her tone as she refers to Jordan.
'Well Duke was there so I just figured we were bringing dates'.
Now it is Nathan's voice that betrays him as the last word comes out over-articulated, a harsh staccato. They are riding together in the Bronco for the first time in weeks due to a mishap to her car courtesy of the latest trouble they'd been tackling.
'Ha ha.' Audrey replies, but there is no humor in her voice- only accusation. 'Look, I'm sorry that Duke was a jerk to you 20 years ago and that you can't get over it. But I need him. I care about him and if we are all going to work together you are going to need to stop squabbling with him every chance you get!'
She does and does not mean these things. Yes she understands where Nathan's anger with Duke comes from. But she also understands Duke is not that little bully anymore, not sure if he ever was. And now with time ticking away and so much she still doesn't understand she is venting her frustration at every opportunity.
She is reckless now with 2 weeks left, opening doors she'd been actively keeping shut and pushing everyone, herself included, to their limits. She's pushing Nathan now, not really sure of her motivations outside of trying to get a reaction out of him.
But Nathan isn't responding, at least not outwardly. His death grip on the steering wheel and the thin line of his lips are the only indication he's heard her. Finally, just as she is giving up hope he'll say anything at all he begins, 'About that, I've been thinking you should partner up with Tommy from now on, unless you'd rather work alone. I don't think us working together is a good idea.'
He says this last bit, eyes from the road, looking directly at her and in a voice so sad and devoid of anger that she feels her own anger disappear in a flash. It is replaced by something far worse, that painful ache in the sinuses that is a prelude to a sob. This is actually a good decision, she thinks. Their partnership is in ruins by her hands, and with only a matter of days left and the smell of Duke's cologne on her clothes she is in no position to fix it.
And yet if there was something that she could take with her wherever she goes when she leaves Haven, just one memory at all, it wouldn't be her cozy home above the Grey Gull, the first home she's ever truly known, or Duke's roguish smile and warm kisses, or even the feel of Nathan's soft lips hesitantly moving against hers right before she pulled away all those weeks ago. No, the memory she'd hold on to if she could, if it were allowed by whatever powers that be, would be of their friendship, her partnership with Nathan.
But the Hunter needn't bother taking that particular memory from her. She'd destroyed it all on her own, poisoned it to the point where the thought of how things once were between them is a painful one. Perhaps pushing Nathan away wasn't as selfless as she'd thought, because for the first time since Duke gave her the terrifying news that she had an expiration date and a rapidly approaching one at that, she finds herself almost looking forward to the Hunter. Maybe love can't be erased, but it can certainly be abused, perverted and transformed into something unrecognizable, the fluttering butterflies turning to voracious maggots that eat at you from within and the rapid heartbeat turning to a strained and painful pulse. What a relief to have all of their suffering vanish in a puff of air leaving nothing behind but a strange foggy pull in the backs of their minds.
'I'll work alone,' she replies and she surprises herself by how unaffected her voice sounds echoing through the cab of the Bronco. Perhaps love can't be erased, but she can.