WHO: Audrey Parker and Duke Crocker WHEN: February 18, 2020 WHERE: Duke’s apartment WHAT: Audrey’s having bad nightmares and finds out Duke’s been sitting with her TRIGGERS: Nah?
Duke had taken to sitting with Audrey during the nights when she stayed the night. Usually he was back in his room by the time that she realized it, but he was concerned about her. He could see the exhaustion, could see the change from the normal Audrey to the sleep deprived one now. He didn’t want her to know he was concerned, though. He didn’t want her to think he was doing something that she would be upset about later. He didn’t want her upset with him for his concern. Also it was hard to just easily show it when their last heart to heart had ended with a lot of truths being spilled.
Tonight, he’d come back from “work”. He’d gotten some things through customs and turned a profit for it. He’d given Audrey run of the apartment, letting her know he’d be back when he was done with a few errands. He didn’t really want her knowing he was doing illegal things either...even if he was sure she had an idea of it.
After showering to get rid of the smell of fish, he got in his pajamas and sat in front of the couch, leaned back against it as he listened to Audrey’s dream mumblings. She’d said his name a few times followed by concerned noises. He’d carefully reached out, letting his thumb run over the skin on her arm, hoping it would help her in some way. He didn’t show much softness for much of anyone, but Audrey was a different case.
Eventually he fell asleep, the exhaustion catching up with him before he could stop it. Now he was sitting on the floor, legs stretched out in front of him, head resting against Audrey’s leg, and arms in his lap.
Audrey had been reluctant to admit what was happening at first as she didn't want to worry Duke. When she finally had, she tried to downplay some of it. As the days went on, though, Audrey found herself wanting to be closer to Duke. The dreams she had worried her. She knew they were a result of the woman on the network, but Audrey wasn't sure if the dreams weren't promises too. The longer the nightmares lasted, the more frequent Audrey ended up at Duke's.
In her dream, she was back in Haven. Audrey hands were bound to a pole as she stood on a platform surrounded by wood and kindling. Audrey looked out at the group that had massed around her. The Rev stood in front with his self-righteous stare of hate. Her eyes moved from him to Duke who stood close by.
"Duke, please." She watched as Duke looked back at her with a stern expression.
"I'm sorry Audrey. This way keeps people safe."
The Rev said a few loud words about purging sin from Haven and then lit the fire under her. She strained against her restraints. Audrey could feel the heat gathering under her. She pleaded to Duke again, then to the people of the town, but it all fell on deaf ears.
Suddenly as the flames grew large and threatened to engulf her, Duke was grabbed by two other people. He yelled and shouted, but they didn't seem to listen as they hurled Duke into the flames.
It was the sound Duke made that woke her up. Audrey woke up with a start, her heart pounding. It took her a second to realize where she was. This time, though, she realized something was against her leg. She glanced down and saw Duke.
She was a little surprised that he was there. As she took in the scene, she realized he had fallen asleep - had he been there long? Audrey watched him quietly for a minute, waiting for her heart to slow down before she spoke softly. "Duke?"
Duke woke slowly, a hint of a groan as he squirmed a little, changing position in order to get more comfortable. But as his mind started to register the sound of his name, Audrey’s voice, and the general discomfort of his body, he opened his eyes, blinking against the light that shone through the window in the living room. He realized where he was and he nearly swore under his breath. He sat up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
“Hey.” He frowned as he tried to rub the crick in his neck out. He was definitely too old to sleep on the ground like this. “Sorry. It was a long night.” He shrugged. “Must have dozed off.” Obviously he had. He turned to look at Audrey. “Sleep okay?”
Audrey almost regretted saying something so soon. Duke looked peaceful as he slept and kind of adorable. The walls he put up when he was awake weren't there while he was sleeping. At his question, though, she offered a small smile. "No one got dismembered this time." She meant it as a joke, but since she was tired it might have come off as more serious than she meant it to. Audrey was pretty sure fire was not a lot better.
She moved to sit up, yawning a little as she tried to ignore how her eyelids ached despite having just been asleep. "Duke - …. Were you sitting here because of me?" It was kind of obvious, she supposed, and yet she hadn't seen him do this before. Had something changed? Audrey frowned a little in worry. "Have you started getting nightmares too?"
Duke eyed her for a moment, now wondering if anyone had been dismembered any of the other times. “Have you tried the stuff people have been making for sleep?” Because it seemed like something that she ought to have tried if she hadn’t. Had he missed her saying she had or hadn’t before? He couldn’t remember just now, mind still waking up.
The question gave him pause. He debated moving, lying about what he was doing there. He’d sat down and passed out. Weird potion? Drugs? Tranquilizer dart? “Eh. Sounded like a hot dream and I was planning to tease you about it later. Must have been more tired than I realized.” He shrugged it off with a wink before dragging himself up off the floor, stretching in an attempt to feel less like he was dying from sleeping on the floor. Getting old was terrible. “No. No nightmares. I’m terrible dream free.”
If she hadn't been so sleep deprived she might have weathered his statement better, but at the mention of her dream she actually blushed a little. One of the more confusing parts of this whole sleep problem thing was that the nightmares always started off nice. At the beginning her dreams had been split between Nathan and Duke and, on occasion -though she would never admit this- Nathan and Duke. However, after a week and the initial visit to Duke for the night, Nathan made less and less appearances. It seemed it left a lot more creative room for what she and Duke could get up to. That part of the dream felt just as real as the nightmares and Audrey suspected the sudden change was also why she felt so exhausted when she woke up.
She swung her feet over the edge of the couch and ran a hand through her hair. "I haven't tried those drinks. Potions? I'm not sure how I feel about magic, especially since I'm pretty sure Magic's responsible for this." She gestured to her head. "Do we know if it will work or make things worse? I mean, I'm guessing I really pissed her off."
Duke watched her, making note of the exhaustion in the way she looked and sounded. “Yeah, but you gotta admit, it’d be nice if they did work, right?” He felt how unusual it was for him to be the one suggesting trying things in the situation. He was pretty sure he wouldn’t have wanted to touch the potions, too. But Audrey was used to not being affected by whatever shit the world threw at her. This was an all new thing. This was being affected by the Troubles. He tried to think of one that correlated, but he couldn’t except for the girl that made people see their worst fears if she looked at them.
“It’s up to you, Audrey. Unless you want to keep dreaming about my beautiful face all night in addition to dealing with it at any given time when you’re awake.” He was quiet for a moment. “Only so much anything else can do for you. Even me being around.”
She sent him an eyeroll while smiling, but the smile softened afterward and she sighed. "Yeah, okay. I guess I'm willing to try… but if I grow two heads or something I'm going to hold you personally responsible." She was mostly kidding.
Audrey stood up. "It does help, though." She looked at him. "It's easier to calm down when I can wake up and see you're okay." It wasn't always Duke dying that she saw. Sometimes it was Duke turning on her and the troubled people. On the rare occasion no one else made a appearance in her dreams, she was Mara and she did terrible things. "I have to tell you, though… if it's my mind making up this stuff, I didn't realize I had this much imagination… and if it's all dreamt up by that woman, I'm not sure I can be held responsible for what I do if I find her."
“Yeah yeah. What else is new? Whole line of people wanting to do that.” The words definitely wouldn’t have sounded as casual without him making sure to inject some amusement into his voice. “But hey. If it turns out bad, I won’t even argue about it.” He hoped it worked, though. She could use some sleep. He wasn’t really one to be open about caring about people as much as others, but he cared about Audrey. Probably always would.
“Well, you know they say that the mind is a complicated thing. Can think up all kinds of stuff. That’s why people are so easily duped by people using common fears to make people worry. Your account’s been hacked, you need to fix it. That kind of stuff. And we’ve lived through more than our fair share of bullshit.” He shrugged. “But she does have magic, so we should probably consider that before you rush off to do something that could get you killed.”
"I know, I know." She was well aware of how dangerous the woman was, particularly considering the amount of people missing and presumed turned-to-troll. There were pets missing too and the forest seemed to be encroaching on the town. "I'm not too proud to admit that in my current state I'm pretty useless anyway." She would look into the potions, though, to see if they worked for her. A few nights of solid sleep would be great.
She paused and then turned to Duke. Audrey knew him well enough to know he might not answer this truthfully, but the words were pressing out of her regardless. "Was that the first time you did that? Sat with me while I tried to sleep?"
Duke was trying to get more used to the direct line of questioning that was Audrey’s new norm. She’d asked them before, of course, but it had felt more like police work and less like personal enquiries. So those had been the easiest to play off. He could do the wink and lie as well as anyone else and that was because he had a very long history of it.
“At least you realize you’re not at your best. Not everyone is as up to speed on that as you are. I’ve stayed out of it because I’m really not trying to die here. Made it this far with only one incident and that was undone, so it doesn’t really count.” It didn’t count for Audrey either, but it had happened. He sighed at the thought of it. “I’ve been around for it a few times.” He shrugged. “Figure you’re the kind of person that would sit with someone if they were having a bad day. Seen you do it about five million times for the Troubled. Figured it couldn’t hurt since it’s not like either of us have anyone else.” The truth for a change, with a little of it kept back and hidden under the guise of having told ‘enough’ truth to keep her from questioning it too much more.
Audrey smiled. Duke might like to keep the image that he was a loner who was only out for himself, but over time Audrey had seen hints that Duke Crocker was more than what he claimed to be.
She took the few steps toward him and wrapped her arms around his neck to give him a hug. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation or maybe it was just nice to hear him say the truth, but whatever it was, she felt the need to hug him. "Thank you." She spoke with her chin on his shoulder. After another moment she pulled away. "Remind me when this is over that I owe you one."
The hug caught him off guard. He hadn’t been expecting it and he wasn’t sure what to do now that it was happening. His arms instinctively hugged back, but he didn’t really hug too many people these days. He might have hugged Nathan if he saw him again, but there was no telling if he would.
“You owe me a lot more than one, but I might let you get away with only the one.” He winked at her before taking a few steps back. “Coffee?”
“Just one, huh?” She smiled wryly to him, though she realized she was definitely still tired because her normally well-controlled gaze lingered on Duke in a way it didn’t normally. It was hard sometimes not to think about stuff she knew would probably get them both in trouble. She had no desire to ruin the friendship she had with him. Even so, her eyes lingered in a way that for a moment was more than just friendly before she got ahold of herself and she snapped out of it. “Coffee sounds amazing. I mean, I might actually be made of coffee at this point, but I’m still not going to say no.”
Her phone vibrated and she pulled it from her back pocket. She looked down at the words and frowned.
Duke was used to being stared at, but it wasn’t like that with Audrey. At least it hadn’t been. Except maybe when she asked about if he went commando. So the feeling of being watched and looking up to see Audrey watching him gave him pause. It was short lived because they’d been down that road before and she’d been the one to stop it. He let his attention shift to something else by the time she answered him, nodding at the question before the sound of buzzing caught his attention.
When he looked back, Audrey’s expression nearly made him sigh. “Something wrong?”
“I’ve been told I’m taking time off.” She sounded more annoyed than she should have considering someone else would have probably loved that sort of news. The problem was Audrey didn’t really know how to relax for extended periods of time and she hated the idea she was being pulled from work because of something she couldn’t control. Audrey was the one to sigh as she leaned against the wall and pocketed her phone. “Not that I actually blame them or anything, but how am I supposed to try and stop this woman if I’m not allowed to work?” Of course, being not allowed to do something never stopped her before.
She looked over to Duke. The aggravating text gave her something to focus on so the lingerings stares had stopped. “Don’t suppose you need someone helping you with your day job, huh?” Audrey was joking considering she was pretty sure Duke’s ‘day job’ was not the one at the Gull and was something that was opposite to what her actual job was about.
“You of all people are going to let not being allowed to work stop you from figuring stuff out?” The corner of Duke’s mouth quirked up into something between a smile and a smirk. “Never figured you to be that kind of a person.” But did he need help with his day job? He nearly snorted, settling, instead, on shaking his head and walking into the other room. “If you want to do inventory all day, be my guest.” That wasn’t his day job, but he certainly wasn’t going to tell her what his plans for the day entailed. Especially not since it was definitely on the other side of the law.
“I’ve got a few things to do before then, but we can definitely get some errands done after that. Unless you want to explore while I work.”
"No. It just makes things harder." She wasn't going to lie down, but she knew she'd get in trouble if she walked into the station even as a civilian. She would have to just be strategic how she used the badge.
"I'd probably just get in your way." In fact, she knew she would. She'd probably end up asking too many questions and put Duke in uncomfortable positions. "I'll just poke around. I'd been meaning to look into the ever-growing forest, but hadn't had a chance. Guess it's a good excuse to look now." It might be dangerous, but when was her job not? Audrey looked at him. "I promise if I see a house made of gingerbread I won't go up to it without texting you first." Her lips quirked a little, joking…. mostly.
He gave her a lopsided smile before running his fingers through his hair and turning around. “If you see a house made of gingerbread, you should probably burn it down and run the opposite direction,” he called over his shoulder.
As he set to making coffee, he let his mind wander back to the way Audrey had looked at him earlier. It was a dangerous place to let his mind wander, but he wondered if this was Audrey or just a side effect of whatever happened in the dreams. It was hard to tell what was them and what was this place fucking with them. If Nathan turned up, he was sure he’d have to go back to just Duke. It’d be Nathan taking over. He sighed, more because he’d come to terms with this a while ago. Audrey and Nathan were the ones meant to be together. He was meant to be their friend and not hold it against them for being in love. And he did, he was. It just was complicated. Excessively complicated...especially when he was falling back into old habits of letting himself feel anything.
“You hungry or is this just a coffee morning?”
She considered the question for a moment as he watched his back, following him into the kitchen, but leaning on a wall away from him. It was never a hardship to watch Duke Crocker from behind.
"Wouldn't mind some of your famous eggs." And by famous she meant basic, but good. "I'll bring breakfast next time. I could do doughnuts. I am a cop after all." She smirked a little. "or cinnamon buns, which are my preference." Audrey was glad he had his back to her because she was definitely looking more than she usually did. She'd blame the almost-leering on her exhaustion.
He allowed for a laugh. “Cheap shot at yourself, but I’ll allow it.” But since she’d asked, he’d make her eggs. Then they could figure out what they were doing past then. “You know, though, that it would be pretty easy for me to go get you one of those potions now so you could potentially get some actual rest before chasing someone down. If you wanted. We can also wait till later to take it, though.”
“You could do that quickly?” She believed him, she just didn’t expect him to do it so quickly. The idea was definitely tempting. Audrey had a slight worry that she’d find dreamless sleep so nice that she wouldn’t wake up. It seemed like something someone like Maleficent would do as some sort of fail safe for her spell or curse or whatever it was that was happening to her. “Going to be honest here and say I’d much rather be useful if I can help it.” Which meant getting some actual rest.
“I mean, I know where to go to get it since they’ve been advertising, so yeah.” And he’d go and get it, too. He could be a little late if necessary. “I’ll finish breakfast and then go ahead and get one. How does that sound? If it doesn’t work, you can annoy me later and we’ll figure something else out.” Maybe he’d just tell her to shut up and sleep next to him in bed so they’d both be comfortable. But that was definitely dangerous in a way.
“Alright.” She nodded. “I can deal with that.”
Of course, she didn’t realize how strangely anxious she’d be as she waited for Duke to go get the potion. She was pacing more than she thought she was even a pacer. There were worries about the potion apart from being something she had never done before. Things could go wrong. She wondered if Duke purchasing the potion would make him a target. She wondered if it would even work at all.
There was a bit of a sigh when she heard him return and she mostly pushed all the anxiety back into the box so she’d have a neutral, if not tired expression when he walked into the room.
Duke walked in, potion in hand. He’d found the girl that made them, offered her money for her potion, which seemed a little less expensive than what it probably would have been. But he’d gotten it. Dreamless sleep. He didn’t smell it despite a curiosity to what it might smell like. He also wondered about the taste, but it didn’t really matter. He’d go back and get more if they ended up working out for Audrey. If not? Well, then he hadn’t bought more than one.
“Bottoms up,” he said as he passed the potion over to her. “Dreamless sleep potion, so you should be good.” As long as it worked, but he didn’t say that out loud.
“Thanks.” She took the potion in her hand. She had a lot of questions. Would this be an instant thing? Should she lie down before taking it? Were there any side effects other than dreamless sleep? Audrey didn’t voice any of them, though. Instead she looked at the potion and then back to Duke. She was definitely more than a little worried about what might happen.
She paused and then exhaled a little. The next moment she stepped forward and closed the distance between them. It was a risky move and she knew it, but she needed to do it just in case. Audrey leaned up and kissed Duke softly. It was a soft and simple kiss, though it held a bit of lingering to it. She pulled back and wet her bottom lip. “...just in case I don’t wake up.”
Then she turned to sit on the couch and downed the potion like it was a shot. It felt weird, that was for sure. She frowned, looking to him. “...Duke?” Her eyelids grew heavy and Audrey fell to one side, asleep.