The usual disclaimers apply.
Spoilers? Um…not really? I make a passing reference to something in episode 4x1. I don't think this spoils any major developments from "Fallout."
I do have to say that there was a song within the episode that absolutely grabbed me: "Lighthouse" by Patrick Watson. The title of the story is homage to that, though this is not what I would call a songfic in the least.
There is a smidge of coarse language in here, but not much.
Synopsis: She didn't get a lighthouse in the woods. She got a barn. Pre and post "Thanks for the Memories."
From the look of absolute concentration on Nathan's face—noticeable through the furrow of his brow as he studied a stack of papers—Audrey didn't think the chief was exactly drowning in his sorrows so much as he was drowning in paperwork. But if Vince, Stan, Laverne, and half a dozen others remembered that it was Garland Wuornos's birthday, then without a doubt Nathan did, too. Audrey herself wasn't much for anniversaries, birthdays, holidays—really much of anything that commemorated a special day. After all, her memories were hardly her own, and the ones that were coming back to her were not exactly of a celebratory nature. But it was different for Nathan, and despite the fact that he and his father didn't often see eye-to-eye, it had to be difficult considering all that went unsaid and unsettled between them.
Still, she hesitated at the doorway. In the past, she would have simply burst in, made a comment about his face freezing in a frown (it was Haven, after all), and coaxed Nathan into a coffee break. He would have then proceeded to tease her about pouring a little coffee to go along with her creamer, and she would have temperature tested his coffee so he wouldn't burn his mouth. The usual banter, mild flirtation.
But that was before.
Before she knew she was there on borrowed time.
Before she broke his heart and he'd returned the favor.
Nathan looked up before she said anything, and his back went ramrod straight, as though bracing himself. She fought the urge to flinch.
"May I come in?" The words felt foreign. Standing on formalities had never been their thing. She didn't tiptoe around Nathan. Or at least, she didn't used to tiptoe around him. But now that their thing was…different, Audrey found herself doing many things she would never have done in the past.
"Depends." One syllable response.
Two could play that game. "On?"
"Whether you're adding to my pile."
Yes, she was adding to his pile. Just not the one to which he was referring. But she couldn't let this go.
"Nathan, I know what today is."
"Tuesday?" he asked tapping his pen on a file folder.
Yes. Everything else! And her mind ran the gamut, jumping from one thought to another.
We've been tormenting each other for weeks, and it is all my fault. I don't want things to end this way.
Let's run away. Let's get out of here. Leave the Troubles behind. To hell with everyone else. Let's just be happy. We can be happy. We can. We can.
Why am I here? Why have I been given this life only to have it snatched back in another week's time?
But of course she said none of that. "You want to get out of here for awhile?"
That gave Nathan pause. "For?"
"A walk, maybe." Not exactly an invitation to run away together, but it was the best she could offer. Anything else would be a pipedream.
He was taken aback by her suggestion. "A walk?"
"Yes, a walk. You know. When a person moves one leg forward. Then the other."
The corner of his mouth quirked even as his posture relaxed. "Where are we walking?"
She released the breath she hadn't even realized she was holding. "Anywhere you want to go."
"Beer in the middle of the afternoon. What would the boss say if he saw this?" Audrey teased before taking a sip from the glass bottle she held. Playing hooky in the middle of the day with the boss was the best way to play hooky.
"The boss? He'd probably say it was cheap beer and I should've sprung for the good stuff."
"Oh, but the cheap stuff is the good stuff," she protested. She leaned over and twisted the bottle down into the sand to keep it upright. "Won't be many more days like this." Audrey leaned back on her hands, her chin lifted to feel the sun on her face. "Winter will be here before you know it."
And I'll be gone. She didn't think she would particularly regret missing a Maine winter, but Nathan was the regret she doubted could ever be fully erased even with her memories torn from her.
"What does it feel like?" He had imitated the clothing coverage of those in town; his button-up shirt was discarded in favor of a cotton tee. Yet he could have been wearing a down coat or his birthday suit for all he could perceive. And now, seeing her basking in the glow of the mid-afternoon sun had his imagination in overdrive. It reminded him of another mid-afternoon on the beach fifty-plus years ago and only last week.
"Warm. Mostly. The sand is coarse and soft at the same time. The breeze off the water is cool, though. Makes it pleasant."
"I'll have to take your word for it." He looked out at the water forcing his eyes off her; the sun glistened off the waves as though a million diamonds were caught in the surf. "Why are we doing this?"
"Making small talk."
"We don't have to talk. Not if you don't want to."
"I'm fine, Parker."
"Good. That's good."
"Just another day."
Audrey's patience wore thin, and she wasn't ever sure why. "It's not 'just another day'. Listen, there are things I need to tell you. About him." In case I never get the chance. That part was unspoken, but Nathan didn't need to hear her say it to understand her meaning.
"Audrey—" he broke off.
"I saw your dad—when you were stuck in 1955 and Haven was twisted into something I could barely recognize."
"What was it like?"
Haven without Nathan. Life without her partner. Even now—even with it over—she felt tied in knots and a lump formed in her throat. She couldn't articulate the dread and sadness mired together in the pit of her stomach. "It was wrong. He, uh," she chuckled almost uncomfortably even as her brows furrowed, "had a goatee."
Nathan grimaced. "That is wrong."
"He tried to help me, to keep me safe."
It seemed so long ago that he'd lost his dad, not far from the beach where they sat. The man who tried to keep everything together finally came apart. Nathan wondered if the same would happen to him if Audrey left. Would he come apart at the seams? But she didn't want to hear his doubts, his fears. He had no right sharing them, but that sure as hell didn't mean he didn't feel them. His love for her was the one thing that he did feel acutely, even if it wasn't his place to say so.
"Wish my dad would've helped you here when he had the chance. Did you get to ask him anything?"
"I was a fugitive. And your dad, he wanted our Haven back."
"Did he know that it would mean his death?"
She nodded. "My reaction gave it away. Outliving you…" Audrey's voice trailed off. "In that timeline, you had died saving my life from the Rev's men." Even now with the knowledge it had not really happened, the thought of Nathan's death gnawed at her, made her ache with a heaviness she couldn't quite shake. It seemed as though she couldn't keep him safe no matter what she did. "He was proud of the man you are in any timeline."
Nathan swallowed hard. Garland Wuornos had been a man of action, not words, especially not sentimental ones. But Nathan believed her.
"I wish you could've been the one to see him."
"I actually did see him."
"In 1955." A small smile formed on his lips. "He was a kid. Cute. I think some part of me thought he was always this weary, guarded, secretive man. To see him as a little boy who wanted to be a police officer, his whole life ahead of him, it was a gift." His voice was hoarse with emotion he tried to keep in check.
"I'm glad." She began to reach for Nathan's hand but, knowing what the gesture would imply, stopped short.
If he noticed, Nathan didn't comment on it.
"And it reminds me that I need to get the locks changed in the cells," he added wryly.
"I know things with your dad weren't always easy, but I would give anything to have that. To belong somewhere."
"You do have family."
"My son. Sarah's son. It still doesn't seem real." Her heart clenched in a way that surprised her. She—Audrey Parker—had never met James, maybe never would, but she longed to, not only for the information he may be able to provide, but she longed for him. Hell, she longed for so many things that might very well not come to pass.
"We'll find him, Parker."
Find him before the Hunter. Her own words—Lucy's words—scrawled in the lid of her son's empty coffin. Where was he? And how was she supposed to find a ghost? She tried to push the thoughts from her mind.
"You met Sarah."
"And said she was a nurse and alone."
Nathan spoke cautiously. "She was new to town, but I can't imagine she would have been a stranger for too long."
"Do you think she would've been a good mother?"
Nathan thought of her tenderness and spunk, qualities that seemed to translate into every incarnation of Audrey. "Yeah, I think she would've been a good mom."
"But she had to give him up. I just—I wonder how she knew. Was Sarah the first, or was there someone else before even her?"
"Sarah wasn't the first," Nathan replied quietly. "There was a Sarah Vernon who was a member of the Women's Air Corps. She served in Korea. She eventually married, had children, lived until 2003 in Columbus, Indiana, at which point she moved to Hudson, Florida, after the death of her husband."
"I did a little digging."
"You didn't say anything."
"Because she wasn't you, and we haven't been—"
"Something like that. I've missed this."
"Me, too." The words slipped out before she could contain them, bury them under her tongue, under her heart. "I shouldn't…I shouldn't be here with you like this." She began to move to get up, but Nathan caught her wrist, firm but gentle.
"If not now, then when?" he demanded.
She said nothing.
"Right. Never." He let go of her arm, though he wasn't entirely ready to let her fully go.
He turned his head, looked at one of the steep bluffs lined with trees. "Did you ever see the lighthouse in the woods?"
Had she heard him correctly? "The what?"
"Lighthouse in the woods. If you had, you'd remember."
"Is this another Haven thing?"
"Isn't it always? The story goes back…" Nathan mentally calculated, "about a hundred fifty years ago. Time of the Civil War."
"Maine didn't really see action in the Civil War, did it?"
"No battles but a lot of manpower, ships, and supplies went to support the Union. Josiah Hawkins was one of the men who went. You know Haven Joe's Bakery?"
"Yeah. Joe shoves food at me every time I go near."
"Hawkins was Joe's ancestor. Story goes that his wife Betsy supported the cause of abolition but was heartbroken when Josiah enlisted. It's one thing to believe in a cause; another thing to take up arms. When they said their goodbyes, he told her to keep the light on for him, to show him the way home. So she had the lighthouse built right up there—several hundred yards back from the edge of the cliff."
"In the middle of the woods," Audrey repeated incredulously.
"Was where they had their homestead. She kept the light on for him."
"Folks probably thought she was crazy."
"No more than anyone else around here. Josiah's ship sank, but Betsy never stopped believing he'd return. She kept the lighthouse going. Years later when she was too feeble to climb the steps of the lighthouse herself, she kept a hired hand who tended to the lighthouse and she kept watch. And at the end of her life, Betsy sat on the porch, watching the light, watching for Josiah until the day she died. Her family found her on the porch, wrapped in his uniform jacket with a smile on her face. Was the uniform he wore when his ship left the harbor thirty years earlier."
Audrey swallowed hard. This wasn't what she wanted, to think of Nathan waiting, watching, being desperate enough to build his own flavor of a lighthouse in the woods. She needed space, something to escape the tension, to escape her own compulsion to fall back to the sand and wrap herself around him. "It's not exactly a jacket like Josiah's, but maybe next time I'll come back with a warning label."
Nathan gave his own warning. "Don't."
"Don't accept it."
Did he really think she hadn't considered every alternative? That the thought of leaving him, essentially dying, didn't rattle her to her core? "You think this is what I want?"
"No. But why are you so convinced that because this is what has been set in motion, the course can't be changed? Twenty-seven years from now, I don't want to be the dirty old man gawking at the next version of you. And I don't want to be what my dad became. Weary. Guarded. Secretive."
"We have to face the possibility, the real possibility, that when the Hunter comes and brings the barn with it, I will go away. That is my reality. I don't get a lighthouse in the woods, Nathan. I get a barn. And you sure as hell better not do what Betsy did. It wasn't sweet or romantic. It was sad and…and…selfish. You don't get to quit living, do you understand me?"
"You can't," she cut off harshly. "Okay? You can't."
"You sound like him."
"My father," Nathan uttered. "He told me not to love you, that you were too important."
"Back when Kyle Hopkins's Trouble brought back the chief's ghost and the ghost of every other person he buried."
"He was right. You can't."
His voice was low, resolute. "You're wasting your time telling me that."
Lexie DeWitt's eyes flew open. 4:27 a.m. blared at her in bright red numerals. Another dream. Another very vivid dream. At least, it had seemed vivid until she awoke. Now the vestiges of the dream were faded, leaving her with impressions of the events rather than concrete memories. Great. Weird impressions, a tightness in her throat, and…tears? Strange. Fucking strange.
No man was worth crying over, and the one that was worth it wouldn't make you cry. At least, that's what she had always heard, always repeated as a mantra. But to cry over a man who wasn't even real? She was either batshit crazy or hormonal. Maybe both.
Except that this man in her dreams—his name and face were so unclear now—left her with more than tears. He left her longing for him. Physically. Emotionally. Ridiculous! He didn't even exist, and she ached for him.
Lexie covered her eyes with her arm, willing herself to go back to sleep, to leave this man of her dreams behind. After all, girls like her couldn't afford to fantasize too much about the perfect guy. It only made the real ones seem that much more like frogs. She probably just needed to get laid; that would ease the tension that coiled within her. Yes, she needed to do something other than making a Screaming Orgasm for a customer. She'd prefer to actually experience one because this man in her dreams made her hungry for–
He's not real. He's not real.
But how she wished he were.
Sleep finally tugged at her again, and she gratefully drifted back to its grasp.
Lexie automatically looked up when she saw her manager walk in; it was habit to constantly scan the door. Marcy Callahan wasn't much older than Lexie and was dressed in the same uniform: tight black tank, short skirt, and a big smile. "I signed for the shipment, Marcy."
"Thanks, Lex. Jim give you a hard time?"
"No more than usual. Shut him down when I asked about the wife and kids."
"Good girl," Marcy laughed. "What did we get in?"
Lexie looked at the manifest. "Some specialty stuff, mostly. Microbrews from Tennessee, some from Maine. I thought I'd unpack a few, put 'em on ice, see if we can't get them moving."
"I like the way you think."
Lexie took a utility knife and sliced open a cardboard box labeled 'Calfkiller Beer.' Once opened, she removed the brown bottles with the cartoon cow and grimaced. Like its name suggested, the cartoon cow was undoubtedly dead. Roadkill from too much of the beer?
She opened another box, this time Sea Dog Beer from Maine. The friendly looking dog wearing a yellow hat was far more appealing than a dead calf as a logo. It was the backdrop that captured her attention though: an illustration of the Maine coastline with a lighthouse along the rocky shore.
"Lighthouse in the woods," she murmured.
But Lexie shook her head and laughed. "I have no idea where that came from. It's just a lighthouse."
"Maine's famous for them," Marcy replied. "Helps sailors find their way home."
Lexie considered the bottle. "Yeah. Home." She set the bottle aside and began to wipe the bar.