Relationship(s)/Characters: Gen, although past Nathan/Audrey; Mara
Word Count: 2,393
Warnings: Spoilers for season 4, especially the finale, like whoa! :) Otherwise, no warnings.
Disclaimers: In case you're wondering: I don't own Haven. I wish I did. Oh, God, I wish I did! Or at least a Nathan of my very own. ;D
A/N: Think of this as being the season 5 finale - LOL. Title comes from Crumblin' Down by John Cougar Mellencamp.
Unbeta'd, all mistakes are my own.
“Do you remember?”
Nathan stands just outside the seal, his shoulders slumped, his hands tucked safely in the pockets of his jeans. He’s trying for casual defiance, but the heartbreak in his eyes is far too clear.
These humans. So defenseless, so vulnerable, so easily manipulated.
The others are there, waiting, behind Nathan. She stands alone against them, and is amused they still believe, even after these last few months, that they have any power at all over her. Or any influence, or are any threat at all.
Duke and Jennifer; Dwight and Vince and Dave. Nathan. All weak, all powerless against her, and once she has William back...
The vengeance they shall wreak will become the stuff of legend.
“Do you remember?” Nathan asks again. His eyes never waver, blue and clear and still hopelessly naive.
“Of course I remember. I’m myself again.”
He nods, slowly, sadly, warily. “I know you remember Mara,” he says, “but we were wondering...”
He turns to the others and Mara feels a sudden intense jolt of arousal at the long, lean lines of his body, highlighted in the cave’s light and shadow (sharp hipbones pressing against soft thighs; husky moans; parker parker audrey).
She slams the memory to the ground with her anger - punished - her - punished for toying with these - these - playthings.
“You have questions of me?” she sneers. “How...quaint.”
Nathan turns back, stoic and expressionless, and now it’s his cheekbones that draw her attention (rough stubble rasping against gliding fingertips; I love you Nathan).
“Let me guess,” she says loudly to drown out Audrey’s voice, and is pleased to see Jennifer and Dave jump slightly at the sound. “You want to know why we did it. You want to know who we think we are, William and I, to play with your lives like this. You want to make me see the error of my ways, so I won’t force you to open the seal and send you to bring William back.”
Nathan never moves, simply stares, unwavering and focused.
“We don’t care why you did it,” he finally says in his slow laconic voice. “It doesn’t matter anymore. We want to know if you remember.”
“The people you were. Agent Howard told you...I’m sorry. He told Audrey that it was her love that protected Haven, and she had to return every twenty-seven years to ‘recharge’ that love.” He tilts his head in that way he has when he’s working a case. “We’ve gotten to know you over the last couple of months, Mara, and you seem to only remember loving William. So we’re curious. Do you remember everyone you’ve been? From the beginning? And who they loved?”
She frowns. “Why do you want to know?” she demands. “It’s not like any of you will live long enough to write the definitive history of Haven.”
“Because we simply want to know.” Nathan smiles, self-deprecating, almost shy, eyes alight with sudden laughter. “If you were human, you’d understand.”
She stares, transfixed (awkward dancing; worried about sex with Jess; drinking beer with Duke). She shakes her head.
“Just open the seal,” she snaps.
“We will,” Nathan says, soothes. He shrugs. “You know, you could just admit you don’t remember,” he adds, and turns to the others.
“Of course I remember!”
He pauses then looks at her over his shoulder with a skepticism that makes her grind her teeth. He simply raises an eyebrow and begins to turn away.
“First was Rachel, in 1659,” she says abruptly, and the gates open on the cage where she stuffed all those alien memories and identities that had been forced upon her, and then built walls as high as the sky and as thick as sin to keep them inside. With her first words, the walls crumble, and now those other women crowd into her mind, jostling for their place in line, for their moment to be given voice.
“She stumbled upon a foundling, and cared for her, claiming her as her own, although she had to pretend to be widowed to do so.”
She flashes suddenly to the baby’s face, small and angelic and long - so long - forgotten, and there’s a waver as she remembers her too-soft heart melting at the first smile. She blinks the memory away, and shakes off the love she felt - no, not her, never her - Rachel, that shadow-woman super-imposed on her, like all the other shadow-women.
Nathan stands easily, relaxed, watching intently now, as if she was Audrey still, and they were discussing a case (nails sticking from his back; blood blooming on his chest; all I feel is you).
“Who else were you?” he asks quietly, pulling her back.
She glares and sneers, but his limpid eyes never change. She can tell he’s resigned himself to going through the portal after William, and she knows he’ll do it, too. For the memory of her, she thinks contemptuously, for that last shadow-woman who was forced upon her.
“In 1686,” she sniffs, “I was Rebecca. I loved a man named Nathaniel, but he was married to - oh!” She blinks as she suddenly realizes the connection. “He married the child I’d rescued, when I was Rachel. How strange!”
Now she’s curious, in spite of herself. Now that she remembers them all, were there other connections she’d never known?
“In 1713, I was Elizabeth, and I loved the land and the town itself, rather than any one person. I was an orphan, a child of the London slums, and I made my way to Haven, in the hope of finding freedom and acceptance. And yes, I knew Nathaniel’s son.
“In 1740, I was Caroline, and I’d inherited property - or rather, my husband had, but he died not long after our arrival. I loved the memory of him and his child, who was also a child of Haven.
“In 1767, I was Mary, and I loved the tavernkeeper’s son.”
She speaks faster now, and the memories are crowding her, jostling her, rubbing against her Mara-essence, and that core part of her begins to protest against this outpouring of names and dates and people she hasn’t remembered for hundreds of years.
“In 1794, I was Abigail, and I loved a veteran of the Revolutionary War.”
She remembers his face, the shy smile, his gentlemanly manners and the way he looked at her, his heart in his eyes.
“In 1821, I was Martha, and I loved him again,” she says, and now she feels almost bruised, as yet another identity and related memories surge forward.
“In 1848, I was Joanna, and I once again loved the town more than any one person.”
Her voice sounds distant in her own ears, now, and she tries to stop, but somehow she can’t. It’s as if now that she has given voice to her past identities, they are insisting upon being recognized, on having their say.
“In 1875, I was Frances, and I loved a handsome rogue. A fisherman.”
She feels the jostling intensify, as if she’s being shoved aside in their haste.
“In 1902, I was Adelaide, and I loved the mayor.”
She is caught in the memories of her identities, but she’s vaguely aware that Nathan hasn’t moved, hasn’t taken his eyes from her, that the others are standing behind him, watching, their eyes wide as she speaks.
“In 1929, I was Margaret, and I loved the local doctor.”
This is enough, she thinks, and struggles to stop. The personalities that are left are the ones they already know and have met. She wants this to end here so she can force them to finally open the door, and then Nathan can go through and find William.
But she can’t stop.
“In 1956, I was Sarah, and I loved you, Nathan, and our son. In 1983, I was Lucy, and I loved our son, and in 2010, I was Audrey Parker, and I loved you. Lexie was only in the barn, and she didn’t have a chance to love anyone.”
She stops speaking, her mouth dry, her throat sore, and she suddenly realizes she’s been talking more, sharing more than she’d known. Nathan’s still watching her, and there’s that soft expression in his eyes, that look of love he always gave Audrey (I love you parker) even when he didn’t want her to know how he felt.
She feels bruised and battered, as if she’s been trampled by a crowd, been in a riot, or in a struggle for her life. Yet she also feels oddly empty, and drained, and wonders why they’re all staring at her, no, not just at her, but behind her. She drops her gaze, and it takes her a moment to see it: gossamer strands, glistening in the torchlight, delicate and light as a spider’s web, stretching silver from her body.
She feels a sudden stab of fear, fear she shouldn’t feel, since she’s stronger and more powerful than any of the humans in this cave, but she’s not sure what’s on the other end of those strands, and she’s afraid to find out.
But she’s no coward; never has been, not even when she was buried beneath the memories of others. She slowly allows her gaze to follow the strands, and finds...
Rachel and Rebecca and Elizabeth and all the rest, made up of the same gossamer strands that are still attached to her body. They stand around her in a semi-circle, and she looks at each one, at their faces, at the memories they embody, at the emotions they carry. She’s struck by the fact that they’re not simply projections: they’re watching her, and she shivers. She understands, now, that by speaking their names and identifying what they loved the most, she has given them form and substance, even if she is unable to give them independent life.
“They’re all part of you,” Nathan says softly, gently.
“No,” she says, but there’s no heat or conviction in the word. “They’re avatars; borrowed personalities. They’re not me.”
“Parts of them are,” Nathan says, and his voice weaves around her, around them, and she can’t seem to take her eyes off them, the fifteen women she’d once been, the fifteen lives she still remembered, and yes, still felt, if she was honest.
“I’m not Audrey,” she murmurs, and she seeks out her most recent incarnation, the personality she’d chosen when she’d escaped the barn, drawn by the sound of Nathan’s voice, calling for her. Audrey looks at her now, expressionless except for her eyes, begging her to listen.
“No, you’re not,” he says now, and there’s a wealth of grief in his voice, “and you’ll never be Audrey again. But these women aren’t simply projections, placed over your core personality.”
She makes a scoffing noise, but she’s still staring at them, and each moment brings back more memories, not just of love, but of fighting the Troubles, of helping the very people she’d cursed, of opening her heart to them and their Troubles, of realizing there was only one way she could save them all, to save the town, and that was to return, willingly, to the barn, where she would be changed into the next woman, and returned to Haven when the Troubles began again.
Howard had acknowledged it felt like she was being punished, but his voice had been kind when he’d said it.
“They began as avatars, as borrowed personalities,” Nathan continues, and now he sounds like he’s speaking to himself rather than to anyone in the cave, “but by the time they went into the barn, they weren’t completely borrowed. They’re also the person they became after they came to Haven, after they began to fight the Troubles. Those memories are as much yours as they are theirs, because you were the same, beneath them all. Those memories are yours.”
She can see the gossamer strands growing thicker, more solid as Nathan speaks, and she knows he’s right. She also knows she’s lost her moment to act, her opportunity to build thicker, stronger walls, or to sever her ties to these women, to remove them from her mind and heart and soul.
“Yes,” she breathes, and “yes,” again, and Rachel reaches out her hand, and Mara takes it, and re-absorbs her with a sigh, and shivering love and grief for the foundling child they’d left behind in 1659.
Rebecca reaches out to her next, and she is re-absorbed along with the memories of Nathaniel, and the unrequited love she’d felt for the man.
One by one by one, she allows each woman back inside, with love and acceptance and gratitude for the burden they’d each borne alone, and she finally understands why the barn had given her a new personality and new memories each time, for the love she carried for this town, for all its citizens, was strong, and the grief she took on each time she returned to the barn was heavy.
She accepts Lexie back inside, and then only Audrey is left.
They stare at each other for a long moment, and then Audrey turns and looks at Nathan, who looks back with regret and longing in his eyes, his face stark in the firelight.
“I love you, Parker,” he says firmly. “I’ll always love you.”
Audrey smiles, then turns back to Mara. She blinks back tears, and holds out her hand.
Mara takes it, and reabsorbs Audrey, and closes her eyes as all the memories swirl, as the personalities shift and twist, as the emotions curl and blend into hers. She realizes, accepts, there can be no more walls between them, nor should there be. They have been alone for far too long.
She becomes aware of the profound silence in the cave, but she knows they’re all still there. Waiting. Watching. Hoping. Duke and Jennifer, Dave and Vince and Dwight.
She opens her eyes and looks at him.
He can’t hide the hope in his eyes, even as she sees he’s braced himself for whatever she might say next.
She opens her mouth, then closes it again. Her eyes shift to the others, standing aligned behind him, and she softens.
“I’m Mara,” she says, and the hope drains from Nathan’s eyes. “But I’m not the same Mara. Not anymore.”