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Title: The Great Pretender
Author: [personal profile] smallearthcat
Pairing: Duke/Nathan
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Duke thought he had understood Nathan's Trouble, until he had to live it.
Author notes: Comments and con. crit. are much appreciated.



Duke had thought he'd understood what it was like for Nathan, not being able to feel anything, because after all, he'd been around for nearly all of it. That lasted only until he was forced to spend a day in Nathan's body, and of course it wasn't a quiet day, where he could take the time to really figure out what it meant. No, it was a typical Haven day, and he had to pretend that he was Nathan and that he not only knew what he was doing, but that he was totally comfortable with who and what he was.

Not an easy task, even for someone who'd known Nathan since they were seven years old and who knew very well how to run a con. He'd managed, with Nathan's help, but it was no walk in the park, and when the immediate crisis was finally over and he had a chance to breathe again, with his own damn lungs, he sat and thought about it. The boat was good for that – thinking and drinking – but the one drawback to it was that pretty much everyone knew to find him there.

He'd thought he'd have time before someone came looking for him, though, now that Audrey was back and should have been occupying all of Nathan's time and attention. Only, then Nathan had shown up on the dock and Duck had watched placidly as he made his way straight to Duke and settled into the chair next to him, popping the top off a beer and taking a long pull.

Duke managed not to stare at him, but only just, because they didn't do this sort of thing, not without Audrey anyway, and they'd been so at odds lately that he couldn't believe there wasn't some underlying reason for Nathan's presence – a lecture, a shouting match, something. They sat in silence for a long time, long enough for Duke to relax a little, let down his guard, which was, of course, when Nathan finally spoke.

"You never told me how bad it had gotten." Duke glanced over at Nathan, keeping his face carefully blank. "Your Trouble."

"Would you really have understood if I did? Because I sure as fuck didn't understand your Trouble until I had it."

"And now you do?" There was a tone of flat disbelief in Nathan's voice, and Duke couldn't blame him for that.

"Probably not. I had it for less than a day, and most of that time was spent running around trying to get both my body and Audrey's consciousness back. There are plenty of things I didn't have time to do." Duke ran his eyes down Nathan's body, not entirely intentionally, and Nathan's eyes widened slightly.

"You would have...why am I even surprised? Of course you would have."

"I'm no saint, you know that, but I wouldn't have gotten any more friendly with your body than I have in the past." Nathan flushed slightly, and Duke grinned, unable to help finishing the thought. "And of course, you'd have been welcome to keep an eye on me, make sure I didn't do anything you didn't approve of."

"Duke," Nathan said, the warning clear in his voice.

"Like you didn't think about it while you were in my body," Duke replied, smirking. "When was the last time you got off while still able to feel your dick?"

"None of your business." Nathan's jaw was clenched in anger now, and it wouldn't take much more to push him over the edge.

"And why is that? Because you left Haven when it was just starting to become my business?"
As Nathan spun toward him, grabbing the front of Duke's shirt in his fist, Duke was pretty sure he was about to be punched. Only, instead of a punch, he ended up with a kiss. An angry kiss, to be sure, hard enough to clack their teeth together, but a kiss nonetheless.

Duke leaned back a little, expecting that to be the end of it, but Nathan followed him backwards, until he was straddling Duke's thighs. Duke wasn't sure if Nathan's anger was abating or what, but the kiss got gentler the longer it went on, until they were essentially just lazily making out like they used to once upon a time. It was surprisingly nice, in a way interactions with Nathan hadn't been since before Audrey disappeared into the Barn.

"We really shouldn't be doing this," Duke said when Nathan finally broke the kiss and backed off for a little.

For all that he'd been trying to get a rise out of Nathan earlier, he hadn't thought that anything might come of it, not really. Nathan huffed out a small laugh.

"Those are words I never thought I'd hear come out of your mouth, especially not in a situation like this."

"Unexpected words for an unexpected situation." They sat like that for a moment, sharing breath, before Duke spoke again. "I really don't see what you get out of it. It has to be a disappointment whenever you touch someone and feel nothing."

Nathan leaned back even further and rolled his eyes. "Of course it is, Duke. But they get something out of it, and if I touch them anyway, knowing I won't get much out of it, it's because I care about them enough to want to."

"You saying you care about me, Nathan?

Nathan sighed. "That's not what I- it was a generalization."

"A generalization that applies to me specifically." Nathan shook his head as he hoisted himself up off of Duke's lap. "I always knew you cared about me, Wuornos. Nice of you to finally admit it."

"Thanks for the beer, Duke," Nathan said as he drained the last of his bottle and turned to walk away.

"You can't hide from it with stoicism!" Duke called out as a parting comment.

Nathan paused and turned back. "There's nothing to hide from. Well, nothing except your obvious tendency to try to make something out of nothing."

"If it was nothing, you wouldn't have shared any actual feelings."

Nathan waved Duke off, but the fact that he didn't dispute it spoke volumes.
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