Title: 27 Years Later
Summary: AU from Season 3 finale. Audrey disappeared with the barn. 27 years later, Nathan and Duke wait for her return.
Characters/Pairing: Nathan Wuornos, Duke Crocker, "Rachel" (future!Audrey). Implied past-Nathan/Audrey and Duke/Audrey.
Warnings: Unbetaed, all mistakes are mine.
Disclaimer: It's not mine.
Notes: Ohai, Haven fandom, I finally have something to contribute to you. Hope you enjoy. :)
Nathan doesn’t know the exact date that the Troubles will return but he knows that one day soon he’s going to wake up and he’s not going to be able to feel his feet or his fingers or his face again. And that means she’ll be coming back. He’s torn between excitement and trepidation.
Twenty-seven years. A lot has happened. For over a year, he and Duke tried to find a way to make the barn reappear and to bring Audrey back, but the longer they tried, the more they came to accept that it wasn’t going to happen. And while it hurt at first, they found ways to keep going. The town needed a lot of rebuilding after the meteor storm turned nasty, and both of them were well aware that Audrey wouldn’t have wanted them to be trying to find her when there were people all around who needed their help.
Still, she was never far from Nathan’s mind. He often wondered if they’d missed something and ran through dozens of “what if” scenarios every week. But eventually that gave way to being thankful for the time he did get to spend with her. He’d sit and smile while sipping a beer after work, thinking fondly of their time together, rather than brooding.
He didn’t know if he would ever be able to open up to another woman, though, and it was four years before he did. He met Laura at a party at The Gull, birthday celebrations for a mutual friend. They had got talking over drinks and Nathan found himself asking if he could see her again. Another two years later, they were married. Laura never filled the spot Audrey had in Nathan’s heart, but she certainly found her own.
When their daughter was born a couple of years later, they called her Audrey. Nathan told Laura it was his grandmother’s name, and she liked the name enough to go along with it. Nathan hopes that she won’t inherit his Trouble, but knowing his luck, he’s not banking on it. Whether or not Laura is Troubled, he doesn’t know. It’s always seemed to be the way of Haven residents to not talk about the Troubles until they force you to.
Lately, Duke has been coming down to the station once or twice a week with the express purpose of punching Nathan in the shoulder to see if he feels it or whether his Trouble has kicked in yet. The morning his Trouble does reappear, Nathan holds up his hands before Duke gets as far as his desk. Duke stops and their eyes lock for a second. Nathan nods and a grin breaks out over Duke’s face.
“She’s coming back,” he whispers to himself a couple of times, settling down into the chair on the other side of Nathan’s desk, and for a moment, Nathan can’t help but share the smile, but his expression becomes sombre soon after.
“She’s not going to remember us,” he reminds his friend, “she’s not going to remember us, Haven, any of it…”
“Maybe it’ll be different this time,” Duke argues, but his eyes don’t meet Nathan’s, and even without either one saying anything else, it’s clear neither of them believes the words.
It’s still a few weeks before she appears. Nathan nearly drops the phone when he receives a call about a car accident and recognises her voice on the other end. She sounds scared and she’s talking quickly, but he finally manages to establish where she is and is practically out the door before he’s hung up the phone again. He texts Duke before he starts the car and then drives to the Gull; Duke is waiting for him when he arrives and he only has to stop long enough for Duke to climb into the passenger seat. They find her a few minutes later, sitting outside of her car with her legs hugged up to her chest. The front half of the car has come off the worse for wear after a meeting with one of the trees lining the road.
When they get out of the car, it’s all Nathan or Duke can do to not just stare at her. Her hair is short and brown, but it is still the same face. She looks up at them with wide eyes and they see she has been crying; that is enough to spark them both back into action. Duke is already shrugging off his jacket as they approach her, and as he puts it around her shoulders when they reach her side, Nathan speaks to her softly, telling her she’s all right now and could she tell him what happened.
“I… there was someone on the road,” she says, her voice shaky, “they came out of nowhere and I swerved… but then there was no one there when I got out. I don’t know what I saw…” She looks up at Nathan. “I’m sorry, you must think I’m crazy.”
Nathan smiles. “I’ve heard crazier,” he promises her. “My name’s Nathan. This is my friend, Duke.”
“I’m Rachel,” she replies.
“Okay, Rachel. I think you’re probably in shock, but if you feel okay to move, I’ll get Duke to drive you to the hospital while I get your car pulled. Do you want to try getting up?”
Audr—Rachel fiddles unconsciously with the edges of Duke’s jacket for a moment before nodding. Duke and Nathan each hold onto one of her hands with both of theirs and slowly pull her into a standing position. Once she’s standing, Duke puts one arm around her waist and Nathan reluctantly lets go of her hand. The two men nod to one another over Rachel’s head, a silent acknowledgement that they will both look after her, and then Duke leads her back towards the car. Nathan wishes he could be the one taking her to the hospital, but he knows it’s his responsibility to get the road cleared up. That doesn’t stop him from feeling a bit jealous as he watches Duke help her into the car and get into the driver’s seat himself.
Nathan visits Rachel at the hospital later, officially to get a statement from her, but really just because he wants to be sure that she’s come out of the accident unscathed. The doctors want to keep her in overnight for observation, but Nathan is assured she’ll be able to leave the following day.
He feels a bit awkward when he first enters the room. Had this been Audrey, he would have sat on the edge of the bed to talk to her, but he’s aware that he’s nearly thirty years older now, not to mention, a complete stranger as far as Rachel is concerned, and she’s the last person to whom he wants to come off as some sort of creep.
He opts instead to take a business-like stance at the foot of the bed, at least while he gets the official part of the conversation out of the way. Once Rachel has signed off on her statement, he sits down in the plastic chair near the bed and initiates a bit of small talk. He discovers that her full name is Rachel Hall, and she was driving home to New York after visiting relatives further north when the accident happened. She had wanted to take a scenic route, but now she wasn’t so sure that had been a good idea. She asks a bit about Haven; she had never heard of the town before and Nathan fills her in on the town’s history, though he is careful to leave out anything pertaining to the supernatural abilities sometimes experiences by the townsfolk. No doubt she’ll learn about that soon enough.
He’s been there a little while when Rachel apologises and tells him that she’s starting to feel tired; it’s been a much bigger day for her than anticipated. He smiles and stands to go, placing a hand on her shoulder briefly as he tells her he hopes she’s feeling better the next day. Once again, he finds himself hoping he comes across as friendly rather than creepy. Rachel smiles back at him, so that’s encouraging at least.
She surprises him by visiting him at work the next day. She is a welcome relief from the paperwork he’s been going over.
“What can I do for you?” he asks.
“I just wanted to say thank you for helping me yesterday,” she replies, “you and Duke both.”
“Just doing my job.”
“I know but… I’ve never been in any kind of car accident before and I know it could have been a lot worse, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my life!” She gives a small laugh; physically she might be fine, but Nathan can tell she’s still shaken by what happened to her.
“So… now the doctors have given the all-clear, I suppose you’ll be off back to New York as soon as you can?”
Rachel shakes her head. “My car’s out of action, obviously, and I spoke to my dad, but he can’t get up here until the weekend so…” She pauses and looks around Nathan’s office before finishing, “so I guess I’ll be sticking around for a few days.”
Nathan makes sure to keep his expression neutral as he replies, “Well, if you need anything, you know where to find me.”
Rachel nods. “Thanks.”
As she turns to leave, Nathan can’t resist adding, “Who knows, maybe you’ll like it here so much you’ll stay her permanently.”
Rachel pauses in the doorway to his office and turns back, grinning. “It’d have to be a pretty remarkable place to tear me away from New York.”
“I think you’ll find Haven can be pretty remarkable.”
“Well, we’ll see.”
With that, she waves and disappears out the door. Nathan lets himself smile the broad smile that had been threatening to break out through the entire conversation. Dealing with the Troubles is going to be very different this time around, but there’s a part of him that can’t wait to see what happens.