"And I sit here without identity: faceless. My head aches." – Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
She only has twenty days.
(And then she disappears. But where will she go?)
She decides to spend her remaining days delving into the mystery of her past, of the women she's been before and investigating the Colorado Kid murder.
She wants answers, craves them as if they are the driving force pumping her life's blood.
Duke Crocker goes with her and they leave Haven, heading to Colorado before the first gleam of sunlight greets the morning sky. The stormy overnight clouds seem to melt away when welcomed by the presence of a warm yellow glow.
Now she stands on an unnamed beach in Colorado, the cool water lapping at her feet as her toes sink further and further into the wet sand.
(She's never experienced this before, though she's sure Audrey Parker – the real Audrey Parker – has. The memory is too distant for her to remember, but it doesn't feel like hers anyway.)
He stands next to her, mesmerized by the sparkling water in front of them and watches how the sun starts to dip below the horizon. He reaches out and squeezes her hand gently, knowing that this day's end will be too soon.
A gentle breeze rushes past, ruffling her blonde hair. It's pulled back in a pony tail and she feels the sudden breeze brush against the back of her neck and seep into her clothes.
Something felt familiar about this place.
He had to have been here, right? She wonders, though she doesn't let the thought creep past her lips.
Reaching into her pocket, she pulls out a necklace. The one with the initials LR engraved on it.
Her fingers close around the delicate silver chain as she holds it in one hand, the light from the setting sun reflecting off the engraved letters.
Her curious eyes meet Duke's dark brown ones and, in the next moment, she tumbles into an abyss of darkness.
"I'm scared, James," Lucy Ripley says softly. So softly she wonders if James heard her.
"I know you are," James Cogan replies reassuringly as he wraps his arms around her waist and looks out, noticing how the sunlight glares against the ripples of water. The boots on his feet are planted securely in the wet sand as he leans forward and whispers against her ear. "Everything's gonna be okay, Luce."
"I don't want to disappear." Her voice seems to echo, a striking reverberation against the waves of the blue waters. Glistening tears start to spill down her cheeks.
(Thankfully, the beach is empty. It's just them. Only them.)
"I've got you." His breath is a throaty whisper, but it speaks of promise and hope as he kisses her soft brown hair. "I've got you."
She sighs, leaning back into him wearily and trusts him. She trusts his words are enough.
Lucy looks at the little boy next to her, an inquisitive face full of eagerness and curiosity. She briefly wonders what he's thinking – if he's scared – but she pushes the thought from her mind.
Her eyes wander to the corpse lying a few feet away from them. James. James is dead. He is never coming back.
She tries to fight back tears as she kneels down in front of the little boy.
"Duke," she says softly, gazing into the little boy's warm, inviting eyes. "I need you to do something for me."
She unfastens the necklace she's been wearing around her neck – the one with the engraving LR that James had given her not long ago – and gently places it in Duke's small hands.
"I need you to keep this necklace safe," she continues. "No matter what. You need to protect it and keep it safe."
"When do I give it back?" he asks.
"You'll know, Duke," she tells him. "You'll know."
Duke is calling her name. Why does it seem so far away?
"Keep it safe, Duke," she mumbles as her eyes start to flutter open. "Keep it safe…"
"Audrey," he whispers with greater intensity. His hands are on her face and as she comes to, she feels his breath against her forehead.
"Duke," she murmurs.
"I'm right here, Audrey," he tells her. His thumb gently caresses her cheek as he brushes strands of her hair from her unfocused eyes.
She's lying on the beach, feeling the grains of sand beneath her body and only as she drifts back to consciousness does she start to realize she's cold.
(Is it always this cold?)
"Duke, I… I saw Lucy," she murmurs, a haze of confusion in her eyes. "He loved her, Duke. And she loved him, too."
Duke's brow furrows. "Who?"
"The Colorado Kid. Lucy really… She really was in love with the Colorado Kid."
As Duke tries to process this, he notices the necklace in the palm of her now open hand. He looks back at her, into her eyes, which seem to shift out of focus as her head lolls to the side and she falls unconscious once more.
He takes the necklace and puts it in the pocket of his pants for his own safekeeping and effortlessly scoops her into his arms.
"It's gonna be okay, Audrey," he whispers as he carries her down the length of the beach and treks at a steady pace back to their hotel room. "I've got you."
When Audrey wakes only an hour later, she discovers she's back in their hotel room. Duke sits in a chair beside her, reading the newspaper in Chinese. She smiles, remembering that's what he was reading when they first met.
"Hey," he says, putting down the newspaper and leaning forward. He brushes the excess hair from her eyes again. "How are you feeling?"
"Better, I think," she replies.
(She notices how his hand lingers on her face, resting against her cheek. She notices the small gestures, the little things that he does for her.)
They talk for awhile, in hushed tones, about nothing in particular until Duke gives Audrey back the necklace.
"This was in your hand when you…" he starts to say, but doesn't finish.
She doesn't need to know the rest of his answer and her grateful smile speaks more than words can articulate. He doesn't hesitate to unfasten the clasp and put it around her neck.
(They don't talk about the necklace anymore.)
They sit in companionable silence for what seems like an interminable stretch of time before he offers to buy them both beers from the bar downstairs. She agrees and, a few minutes later, he returns with two bottles and sprawls out across the bed as she opens her beer and takes a sip.
They talk about Funyuns and pizza and hand-rolled cigars and candy from those dispenser things (Pez, he reminds her) and skiing in the mountains and cherry popsicles in hot July summers. All things she's never experienced before. All things Audrey Parker – the Audrey Parker she is now – doesn't know. Might not ever experience.
(In twenty days, she will disappear.)
She sits on the bed with him, her eyes wide with gratefulness and appreciation.
"You are an amazing friend," she tells him, her voice brimming with warmth. "You're here. You… you just left everything and you got on a plane and came to Colorado with me."
"Audrey, I'd do anything you need me to. Hunt down the past… fight your future…"
(She knows he would.)
"The past is gone," she says quietly and there's a trace of sadness in her tone that makes her sound lost. "And the future…"
She closes her eyes, breathes deeply.
"Thank God it's not here yet."
(Only twenty more days.)
"All we have is…"
Her eyes flicker to his lips and she closes the gap between them when she seals her lips to his. In the next moment, she feels his hand stroking her hair as her own fingers comb through his hair and hook around the back of his neck.
(There's a scar there, she notices.)
His kiss feels like ecstasy, warm and inviting. Passionate.
She has this. This moment with him.
This moment when his hands run down her sides and the length of her back, tugging at the hem of her shirt and feeling the skin underneath.
This moment when her hands move down and are flicking the buttons off of his shirt.
This moment when they shed the clothes from their bodies, lips exploring surfaces of skin.
(It's not gentle, but it isn't angry either. It's just what they do. It's all they have.)
Later, they lay in a tangle of sheets, bodies glistening with sweat and palpable arousal. Her head rests on his chest as she lies entangled with him, now fast asleep, as his hand strokes her hair to a rhythm all his own.
(He doesn't tell her he loves her, even though his heart feels otherwise.)
In the morning, they'll deal with the repercussions. In the morning, they'll talk (or maybe they'll just be silent). In the morning, they'll figure out what this very night together means to them.
Means to him.
Means to her.
In the morning, she'll have nineteen days left before she vanishes without identity.
In the morning, Audrey Parker will have nineteen days before the very essence of her existence disappears and the months she's been in Haven will seem like a distant memory.
In the morning, she'll have nineteen days before she's faceless.
(And, because of this, he holds onto her just a little bit tighter.)
Author's Note: I had an extremely emotional reaction (okay, I cried) when I saw the sneak peek clip of Episode 3.07. I multi-ship Audrey on this show, but this story was born from those emotions. Just my own speculation of that one scene and events surrounding it. Don't own any of the dialogue I borrowed from the scene in the sneak peek clip. Hope it will suffice and thanks for reading!