Prompt(s): Anything dealing with the aftermath of 3x10. Preferrably once they've come home.
Pairing(s), if any: Connor/Abby
Word count: 4820
Author's note: Betaed by my husband, but not Brit-picked, so if there are glaring errors, I apologize in advance!
Disclaimer: I do not own Primeval. Seriously.
“Answer the question, Abby.”
Abby huffs out a sigh, blowing her fringe out of her eyes.
“You know I don’t work well under pressure, Connor.”
“Whatever - the clock is ticking.”
“What clock? Clocks haven’t been invented yet.”
“But apparently stalling has,” he says, raising an eyebrow.
“Alright,” she says. “Pizza. A big, greasy pizza with pepperoni and extra cheese. With lager. And chips.”
“Pizza and chips?”
“Got a problem with that?”
Connor considers for a moment.
“It sounds rather brilliant, actually.”
“What about you?” Abby prompts.
Connor’s eyes go slightly glassy with wistfulness.
“Lamb vindaloo,” he says. “With great fluffy pieces of naan. And gulab jamun.”
“Ooh, galub jamun,” Abby coos. “We could do a whole round just on desserts.”
“I could totally follow that pizza with a Milk Tray. No, two Milk Trays. No three Milk Trays.”
“Jaffa Cakes. “
“Oh, would you two just shut it?” Danny’s voice breaks in from up ahead.
“You’re not supposed to be listening,” Connor calls out accusingly, pointing at Danny with the stripped branch he’d been using as a walking stick. “That’s why you stomped off ahead like a great, pouty baby, isn’t it?”
It had only been a day since they had found Danny wandering in the forest and looking the worse for wear (apparently, he hadn’t found them on the first try – he didn’t tell them how many anomalies had been involved in his journey or what had happened as he’d traveled through them, but they’d gathered that none of it was good) . They were still happy to see each other, but it had become quickly apparent that their coping strategies were wildly different. Danny was all business, but Connor and Abby had discovered that they'd been on the right track with the visualization exercise that first night in the tree. The danger and uncertainty of their situation were such heavy burdens, they had to keep themselves distracted, or the weight would crush them.
Connor’s first suggestion had been to play Twenty Questions.
“You ask first,” he said, looking quite smug. “I have something in mind that you’ll never guess.”
“Fine,” Abby sighed. “Animal, vegetable, or mineral?”
“Are you a person?”
“Are you a male person?”
“Are you Batman?”
Connor’s confident smile had quickly morphed into a scowl.
“You’re not even trying to make this fun,” he’d muttered.
So they’d moved on to Would You Rather?, followed by Shag, Marry, or Throw Off a Cliff, which had gotten them through for a while, but eventually they had moved on to more open-ended question, both serious and silly. Connor felt like he had gotten to know a host of new things about Abby, which just made her all the more attractive to him. Besides now knowing – and hating – the first boy she kissed, he knows that she had been utterly devastated when the Spice Girls broke up; that the first time she’d tried to bleach her hair, she’d fried it and it had all broken off; and that she’d once gotten suspended from school for beating up a boy twice her size who’d been picking on Jack. After living together, he’d thought he knew her pretty well, but these constant revelations fascinated him.
And so it was now that they were discussing what they would choose for their first meal back home. Which Danny wasn't very keen to think about, hence his walking several feet in front of them so as to be out of earshot. Not that it appeared to be working.
"Well, excuse me for not wanting to dwell on my gnawing hunger!" he shouted at them, turning around to walk backward so he could berate them more easily. "It's bad enough to have my stomach constantly rumbling without you lot prattling on about takeaway. On top of which, we have a good chance of becoming a meal ourselves, in case you've forgotten, so it might be a good idea to stay focused and alert!"
Abby makes a face at him as he turns his back to them again, stomping off in a huff.
"Somebody got up on the wrong side of the cave this morning," she mutters.
"Maybe he needs a doughnut," Connor says. "That's what coppers eat in America, isn't it?"
"Yeah, Abby says. "Coppers and Homer Simpson."
It sets not a particularly witty observation, but it still sets them off giggling, and their laughter echoes through the twilight as they make their way into a valley where they will hopefully find shelter for the night.
“All right,” Connor says a day or two later . “If you could go back in time –“
“What do you mean ‘if’?” Danny scoffs. “We’re back in bloody time, in case you hadn’t noticed.”
“As I was about to say,” Connor continues, annoyed. “If you could go back to a particular time, one that you actually wanted to visit, and change one thing to alter the future, what would it be?”
“Haven’t we established that attempting to manipulate history is a bad idea?” Danny says.
“Just answer the question,” Connor replies, holding up a finger just as Danny opens his mouth. “And don’t say you’d go back and kill Hitler.”
Danny looks surprised and slightly affronted.
“Because everybody says that, don’t they, trying to make themselves look noble and that? It’s become a cliché. Pick something original.”
Danny considers for a moment, picking up a stick and swinging it half-heartedly at some bushes they walk past.
“Well, I suppose I’d go back to the day Patrick disappeared and tell him not to go into that house,” he finally says quietly. “Spare my family a lot of heartache.”
He moves ahead a few steps, swinging again at the underbrush. Connor and Abby both walk on in silence, and Connor suspects Abby is thinking about the same things he is: Stephen. Cutter. Jenny. Everyone who’s been lost or broken by the burden they’d taken on. He understands Danny’s answer all too well. He thinks of the awful day when they’d all believed Abby was gone, and he feels his stomach twist. There’s so much that all of them have lost, and so much more that they stand to lose.
Abby’s voice breaks in on his ruminations.
“Well, I know what I’d like to do,” she says. “And I don’t think it would change anything, really, not in a dramatic way, but I’d go back and have a sit-down with Charles Darwin. Tell him that his work is more important than he could ever know. Say, you know, ‘Chin up, Charlie. Don’t let the critics get you down. You’re on the right track’.”
It’s like the sun coming out from behind a cloud, hearing her talk like that, and Connor can’t help but put his arm around her giving her a squeeze. She loops her arm around his waist and squeezes back, and they walk on like that for a while.
“So what about you, Connor?” Danny finally says. “Where would you go?”
“Easy, “ Connor replies. “I’d go to Skywalker Ranch, circa 1994 and convince George Lucas that making Episodes I-III was a really bad idea. I’d kidnap him and brainwash him if I had to, to save the world from those utter disasters. “
Danny and Abby just shake their heads, making disbelieving noises.
“Quite the humanitarian, you,” Danny says drily.
“I don’t see what the big deal is anyway,” Abby says with a shrug. “I mean, I thought those films were at least as good as the first ones, maybe better.”
Danny chokes out a laugh and looks over to gauge Connor’s reaction. But Connor, frozen in his tracks, finds that he’s having a hard time even processing her words, dropping his arm and staring at her open-mouthed.
All he manages to say in response is “Oh, Abby.”
Eventually, Abby gets tired of Connor’s questions and takes it upon herself to ask some of her own.
“If you had to be stuck in the Cretaceous with one other person, present company excepted, who would it be?”
Connor raises an eyebrow.
“Would this be for, erm, business or pleasure?”
Abby lifts her chin, looking almost prim.
“Well, it’s a fantasy, isn’t it? Take that as you will.”
“Hmmm…” Connor says. “This needs some consideration. You answer first so I can think.”
“All right” Abby says. “I could easily go with either Daniel Craig or Johnny Depp. Y’know, depending on my mood.”
“Hmm,” Connor says approvingly. “A super spy or a pirate. We may unearth the geek in you yet, Miss Maitland.”
“Whatever,” Abby says, rolling her eyes. “Who’s stalling now?”
“Got it,” Connor says, snapping his fingers. “Slave-girl Leia.””
“Of course,” he says. “Bloody Star Wars again.”
“Slave-girl Leia is not a real person, Connor,” Abby says.
“Oh, and Daniel and Johnny are such likely prospects,” Connor replies. “You said it was a fantasy. And besides, I think she proved herself rather resourceful, strangling Jabba with the chain of her own bondage to liberate herself in Jedi.”
Danny and Abby stare at him.
‘”What?” he says defensively. “I took a women’s studies class at uni.”
Danny opens his mouth to speak, then closes it again, shaking his head.
“Too many potential jokes there,” he says. “Can’t pick just one.”
Connor makes a face at him.
“OK, Mr. High and Mighty, you answer the question.”
“No,” Danny says. “This question thing is getting old. I’m not taking part anymore.”
“Aw, c’mon, Danny,” Abby says in her best persuasive whine. “Please play with us.”
“It’s only fair,” Connor continues. “If you’re going to mock us, you should have to go out on that limb as well.”
“Come on, Danny.”
“Fine!” Danny finally snaps. “Jason Statham!”
“Wha?!” Connor stammers, his eyebrows shooting up.
“Really?” Abby says, sounding intrigued.
“He’d be much more of a tactical asset than either of you, that’s for sure.”
“Oi!” Abby protests, taking pride as she does is her fighting prowess.
Danny laughs, but then he catches sight of something over Abby’s shoulder and his face darkens.
“Speaking of,” he says, reaching down to pick up a rock. “Duck.”
Eventually, Connor loses patience with the walking stick – it’s awkward and cumbersome and just got in his way– and disposes of it altogether, choosing to make do with just the splint fashioned out of a stick and shoelaces. The pain isn’t as pronounced as it had been at first; in fact, he’s actually rather gotten used to it. For the most part, it’s just sort of there, woven into the fabric of life in the past, blending into the background until he takes a wrong step that leaves him doubled over, pale and sweating, until the sickening white hot pang recedes again into something more bearable. Whenever this happens, Danny stands by quietly, making pained, sympathetic faces, and Abby rubs Connor’s back and murmurs meaningless comforting things that helped to bring him back to himself.
They had found that staying in one place for too long made them attractive to predators, so they kept moving. As time went by, they developed a standard circuit that always led them back to the spot where they’d come through the anomaly from Helen’s future, in some dim hope that one day, there would be an anomaly waiting for them. They all knew, of course, that the chances of that happening were slim, and the chances of any anomaly they found taking them anywhere they actually wanted to go even slimmer, but nobody dared say it out loud. Instead, they just kept walking the same path back to the same clearing, because they couldn’t face the alternative.
So on the day they come around a familiar bend and catch their first glimpse of the tell-tale faceted shimmer, they have a hard time really believing it. Almost as one, they stop dead in their tracks and stare.
“Please, God, tell me I’m not the only one who sees that,” Danny says, sounding vaguely desperate.
“No,” Connor says, his voice catching with emotion, “you’re not the only one,” and beside him, Abby starts to laugh. Without taking his eyes off the anomaly, Connor pulls her into a fierce hug and plants a kiss on top of her head.
But just as the initial shock and joy of discovery are passing, the light wavers and dims. It flares to full strength once more, but flickers again, and with a sickening sensation, Connor realizes what is happening.
The anomaly is closing.
“No!” he yells, and he grabs Abby’s hand and runs. It’s possible – likely, even – that they will cross over directly into a swarm of pissed-off future predators, but it doesn’t matter. It’s their best chance to get home, and Connor can’t bear the prospect of missing it.
Every step is agony, the pain from his ankle shooting up through the rest of his body like electricity, like a living thing, but he doesn’t stop, can’t stop. He hears Abby panting beside him, Danny’s feet pounding the earth behind them, and above it all, his own heart hammering in his chest, so hard he’s not sure he can stand it, not sure it will hold out long enough to get him all the way across the clearing.
But then he feels the world around him shift slightly, like it always does when he crosses an anomaly, and the ground beneath him is smooth tile; the air isn’t warm and humid anymore, but dry and cool and smelling of computers. They’re not in the expected hellish futurescape at all, but in the central control room at the ARC, and their momentum carries them halfway to the wall before they collapse in a gasping heap, fingers still entwined. A moment later, Danny falls through the anomaly as well, and before he even hits the floor, it blinks shut behind him, vanishing as if it never was.
It all becomes something of a blur for Connor after that. Medics are rushing to their aid, poking and prodding and asking questions, while seemingly every employee at the ARC pushes into the room to see what’s happening, and over all of it, Connor can hear Lester’s voice ordering people around and telling everyone to stay back, stay calm. After a minute or two, Sarah’s face appears in Connor’s line of vision, and he feels her take his hand.
“Oh, Connor, thank God,” she is saying. “We’d almost given up hope. Are you all right? Can I get you anything?”
Connor tries to respond but finds that his mouth has gone all dry. Abby’s hand had slipped out of his when the medics had descended, but he can just see her from the corner of his eye, Becker leaning over a doctor’s shoulder and smiling at her. And that’s all really he needs, knowing she’s safe, that it’s all going to be OK. Suddenly, he feels unbelievably tired and closes his eye,, but he can still hear Sarah’s voice.
“Connor, do you need anything? Please, Connor, say something.”
He opens his eyes and licks his lips with a dry tongue. When he speaks, his voice is scratchy, but his words still make Sarah smile.
“I’d like to get the Cretaceous off of me, it that’s all right.”
Once his mind settles on the necessity of a shower, it’s just about all he can think about, but the doctors seem intent on torturing him by forcing him to sit around in month-old dirt as they evaluate his ankle. After a round of x-rays, it’s determined that he has a bad sprain and a slight fracture, and then the doctors insist that he stay completely immobilized and remain at the ARC for observation. It is this that finally pushes Connor over the edge.
“I am not staying here,” he says, his voice low and dangerous and very much not like him. “I’m getting clean and then I’m going home and going to bed for a week. Then we can talk.”
“But Mr. Temple –“
It gets a bit loud then, with not just Connor, but Abby and Danny, too, arguing that if he managed to make it through four weeks in the Cretaceous on that ankle, a few more days in the twenty-first century isn’t going to make much of a difference. The doctors are a persistent bunch, though, and finally Lester has to intervene and tell them to let Connor do whatever he bloody well wants. With a sour face, one of them splints up his ankle, wraps it in plastic to keep it from getting wet, doses him with some (rather excellent) painkillers, and sends him on his way.
Becker appears in the locker room as Connor is getting undressed. It’s obvious Lester has sent him to keep an eye on Connor, to make sure he doesn’t pass out in the shower and drown, but Becker has the tact to give Connor plenty of space and privacy, settling down on one of the benches to clean his already immaculate weapons.
When the warm spray of the shower hits Connor, it’s all he can do to keep from moaning with pleasure. Washing is a bit awkward, what with having to keep his injured leg dry, but he manages, watching as the grey eddies carry the dirt from the world’s ancient past down the drain.
When he steps out, a towel wrapped around his waist, he sees a T-shirt, a pair of track suit bottoms, and a pair of trainers laid out for him. They’ve obviously been scavenged on the fly, and all of them are a bit big on him, but he doesn’t care. They’re clean and soft and wonderful. He looks at himself in the mirror and decides that all things considered, it could be worse. He could use a shave, but the shower had pretty much sapped his last stores of energy, and besides Abby had told him the scruff had made him look dashing (he’s not sure he buys this, but he has long since decided to take what he can get). He pulls his ring out from underneath the neck of his T-shirt, thinking that the leather has seen better days and needs to be replaced. Still, he’s very grateful it made it back with him. It’s one of the few tokens he’s held onto from his childhood, and it would have hurt to lose it.
When he steps back into the control room, he immediately spots Abby. Her damp hair is pulled back from her face with a stretchy cloth band, and she is dressed in borrowed clothes as well – her T-shirt is huge on her, and she’s twisted the bottom into a knot in the small of her back to keep it from completely overwhelming her. The cuffs of her trackies are rolled up past her ankles to keep them from dragging on the floor. Even in that state, she manages to look amazing, and Connor can’t resist walking over and hugging her. She hugs him back, pressing her face into his shoulder and letting out a sigh.
“Let’s go home,” she says.
There is really no question as to which home she means.
She had already retrieved a few things from her locker, she pulls her car keys out as they walk down the hall towards the exit, but they stop as the near Sarah’s office, where Danny is sitting in Sarah’s desk chair and Sarah herself is leaning against a bookshelf, both of them drinking coffee and talking quietly. When he spots them in the corridor, he stands up and comes to the door.
Connor realizes with a start that it is the first time in weeks that they’re going somewhere without him, and it suddenly feels very, very weird. Kind of wrong, even. They’d been a unit, and now it was time for them become separate parts again, to go their separate ways. Connor isn’t sure he remembers how to do that.
“Well,” Danny says softly. “We made it.”
“Yeah,” Abby replies, “we did”, and she goes up on tiptoe to put her arms around his neck. He wraps his arms around her in turn, hugging her close, leaning his head against hers. Then looking at Connor, he holds out a hand that is looped under Abby’s arm. Connor takes it and shakes it somberly.
“Take care of yourselves, yeah?” Danny says as they step apart.
“Yeah,” Abby replies. “Yeah, of course.”
“See you soon,” Connor says, and Danny nods, then turns back to Sarah. Then Abby takes Connor’s hand and leads him out to the carpark.
The drive to the flat feels like a strange, disconnected dream, and Connor is fairly sure it’s not just the drugs. Neon lights seem alarmingly bright in the darkness, and everything is movement and noise, even in the muffled confines of the Mini. Connor closes his eyes and leans his head back against the seat. He’s grateful that Abby is driving, because he’s just not sure he can deal.
Eventually, Abby pulls up to the curb outside the flat and shuts of the engine, but for a long moment neither of them move; they just stare out the window at the buildings in front of them, which seem normal and boring and utterly foreign to them.
“Well,” Connor says eventually. “Here we are.”
“Yeah,” Abby says tentatively, looking unsure, but then she lets out a long breath and slumps against the door, whether from relief or exhaustion, Connor can’t tell. “Here we are.”
Then, suddenly, she sits bolt upright, all weariness forgotten.
“Oh, my God!” she gasps, and the next thing Connor knows, she is sprinting up the path to the front steps. She fumbles with the key for a moment in the darkness, but then she swings the door wide and darts inside.
“Rex!” he hears her shout as he gets out of the car and makes his own way up the path. “Rex, where are you?”
As Connor walks in the door, he sees her running around the flat, flipping on lights and looking on top of and behind things.
“Abby, I’m sure he’s f-“ Connor begins to reassure her, but he is cut off by a familiar chitter, and Abby immediately whirls around towards it.
“Rex!” she cries one last time, as the little dinosaur sails right into her arms.
Glancing down at the counter, Connor sees a legal pad with the words “FAVORS YOU OWE ME FOR FEEDING YOUR SODDING DINO” written in Becker’s bold, blocky hand, followed by a neat row of hash marks. He feels a swell of gratitude for their friends rise up in his chest. Of course they thought to take care of Rex. Of course they did. Quick on the heels of this realization is a sudden flash of longing for Sid and Nancy, and guilt that he hadn’t thought of them sooner, but he knows that if there’s anything James Lester is good at, it’s handling unforeseen disasters. He knows that when he finally does see them, the diictodons will be perfectly fine.
A noise from across the room brings him back to his senses, and he looks up just in time to see Abby’s face crumple and her knees give way as she slumps to the floor. She still has Rex in her arms, squeezing him so tight that he squeaks in protest and wiggles out of her grip, but he doesn’t go far, nudging her knee with his snout and looking at her worriedly. Connor is kneeling beside the pair of them in a second, remembering only at the last second to favor his ankle and fighting back a grimace as he reaches out to smooth Abby’s hair from her face.
“Hey,” he says gently. “It’s OK. We’re safe now.”
“I thought – “Abby stammers, wiping at her eyes and trying to get herself under control . “I thought we weren’t going to make it back, Connor. I thought after everything, we were really going to be stuck there.”
“We never would have seen Rex again, or Becker, or Sarah. Or Jack…” At the mention of her brother, Abby begins sobbing afresh, and all Connor can do is put his arms around her and pull her close, letting her cry herself out on the shoulder of his borrowed T-shirt.
They had gotten much more touchy-feely in the Cretaceous, partly from the very practical necessity of staying warm and partly because they needed the reassurance of each other, the tangible reminder that they weren’t in it alone. It always vaguely surprised Connor how small Abby felt when he held her. He knew she was petite of course – he had eyes, after all, and he had spent a good deal of time using them to catalog every detail of her – but so much about her personality was just so…big. Big attitude, big courage, big heart. It was easy to forget sometimes that it all fit in such a tiny package. He’s especially aware of it now – more than tiny, she feels fragile, as if she is about to shatter right there on the floor of her living room. She’d never felt like that to him before. It sort of breaks his heart.
After sitting there like that for a few minutes, his knees start to ache and his ankle begins to twinge, painkillers or no, so he does his best to shift around from a kneeling to a sitting position without letting go of her. The whole process is somewhat lacking in dignity, but, well, that’s hardly new to him, and in the end, he is more or less successful, with the splinted leg sticking out in front of him and Abby gathered against his chest.
“Sorry,” she says finally, wiping tears out of her eyes.
“For getting snot on you.”
Connor twists a bit and looks down at the damp spot on his chest.
“Don’t worry about it,” he says. “I think this is Becker’s shirt anyway.”
She laughs and then gives him that look, the one that makes it seems like she’s noticed him for the very first time and she likes what she sees. It’s one he’s been seeing more and more lately, and he’s rather partial to it. It makes him feel new – strong and brave and bold, all things the old Connor had never, ever felt. And looking at her now, the way he has gotten to know her over the past few weeks, makes it even better. All of her walls are down - no eyeliner; no big, chunky boots; no miniskirts or tight jeans. Just Abby, with her roots growing out and her oversized T-shirt sliding off her shoulder and her smile looking more beautiful than it ever has.
He can’t stand it. If he doesn’t kiss her now, he’ll die, pure and simple.
She lets out a little squeal of surprise when his lips touch hers, but she gets over it quickly enough, opening her mouth to him and sliding her hands into his hair. He wraps his arms more tightly around her waist, pulling her close and she arches into him, dropping one hand to press against his back and sliding the other further around his head to deepen the kiss. He can feel the length of her through the thin cotton of her clothes, all curves and softness and warmth. He has dreamed of this (which was, it must be said a bit awkward when she was asleep right next to him in a pile of leaves or whatnot, completely oblivious), and while it fills him with a bone-deep happiness, he suddenly feels exposed, vulnerable – no longer brave and bold. Because they’ve approached this point before and always pulled back, and he knows that as much as she has the power to lift him up, so she has the power to wreck him. Which may just be more than he can bounce back from this time.
Abby gently pulls out of the kiss to catch her breath and leans her forehead against Connor’s, eyes still closed. And as much as he hates to spoil the moment, he has to ask her.
“This isn’t going to make things weird is it?”
She pulls back and looks at him, her face equal parts regret and irritation, as if she can’t decide if he’s seeking reassurance or being a smartass. He would be more than happy to help her out if he were sure himself.
“I just want to know because… well, I mean…”
It’s all disturbingly like their first kiss, and again, Abby saves him from himself by laying a finger on his lips.
“Connor?” she murmurs.
“Yes?” he says, slightly breathless.
“Stop asking so many questions.”
So he does.
And then, she does kiss him.
And the answer is, it isn’t weird at all.