Slightly belated birthday ficlet for reggietate.
Disclaimer: Not mine. ITV and Impossible Pictures own them.
Word count: approx 950
Summary: Just what did happen to that present that Helen left for Nick at the end of 1.1?
AN: Birthday fic for reggietate.
Nick had forgotten about the ammonite until he finally returned to his office and slumped down into his chair. The creature was still on his desk, although the slimy, rubbery appendage had retreated back into its coiled shell, after leaving a faint smudge on the wood.
Where had Helen (and it had to have been Helen, surely?) got it from? When had she got it from? He knew that it was possible to date entire layers from the different types of ammonite within them, but his knowledge wasn’t that exact, and ammonites had existed for a very, very long time from early periods right through to the end of the cretaceous. Maybe this one was Jurassic, that was when they were at their most abundant, wasn’t it?
Nick reached out and traced a finger along the curve of the shell. There was a creature from the Jurassic on his desk. Not a fossil, a real live creature.
He frowned. Ammonites lived in the sea, didn’t they? In which case, it was a real live creature that was going to be a real dead creature if he didn’t get it into water soon.
He went into the little kitchen attached to his office and rooted around in the cupboards for anything suitable. The ammonite was too big to fit in a coffee mug, and the kettle wasn’t even a remotely viable option (quite apart from the lime-scale that he’d never got round to sorting out, its absence would be noticed in the morning, and he didn’t fancy explaining it to Stephen). Eventually he discovered an empty biscuit tin that had been shoved on the top shelf last Christmas after they had finished the contents during an all-night admin frenzy. Nick filled it half full with tap water, and then went back to his desk and shoved some paperwork aside to put it down, and carefully placed the ammonite into the water.
It wasn’t quite deep enough for the ammonite to bob into a fully vertical position, but at least it wasn’t going to dry out completely.
Nick sat down and watched it, hoping he hadn’t left it too long.
That was just typical Helen. Leave a poor defenceless creature here in order to make some grand reappearance, without for a second considering the wellbeing of the creature, taken from its natural environment and left to die. What if he hadn’t seen it, and had gone home? It would probably have been dead by the time he returned in the morning.
Bloody Helen. As if this wasn’t all complicated enough, he began to feel the old anger and resentment resurfacing, along with all the other emotions the events of the last few days had dredged up. He had barely got used to the idea that Helen might have disappeared into the past, and then suddenly here she was, leaving him cryptic clues and playing games. He wanted to be relieved, happy even, that she was alive. But instead he just felt blindsided by revelation after revelation.
Why had she gone? Why had she come back? Why now? Why, why, why?
The creature poked a tentative feeler out from the coiled shell, investigating the water.
“Hello there,” Nick said quietly, leaning closer.
More little tentacles emerged, stretching further out and pausing when they encountered the unfamiliar metal surface of the tin.
“Yeah, sorry about that. We’ll have to find you a proper tank when we get home.”
Where the hell was he going to get a fish tank at this time of night? More to the point, what did ammonites eat? If they were anything like their supposed relatives, the squid, they were hunters. It wasn’t going to be happy with a sprinkling of dried fish food.
Stephen or Abby might have a better idea what to feed it, or even Connor and his ridiculous database. But Nick hesitated to call any of them. Telling anyone about the ammonite would mean explaining that Helen might not be as dead as everyone thought after all. Nick needed to work out how he felt about that before he included anyone else. It was too much, too fast, he needed time.
He absently poked his finger into the water and touched a tentacle. The creature recoiled, but after a moment it came back and investigated, and soon the tip of his finger was tangled in surprisingly muscular tentacles.
Nick chuckled. “What are we going to do with you, eh?”
Ideally he wanted to get the little creature back to its own time, but that wasn’t going to happen unless the anomaly opened again. Nick frowned. If this ammonite did come from the Jurassic, then that meant the Permian anomaly in the Forest of Dean wasn’t the only one out there. There might be more, and they might go to other times. That thought was enough to set Nick’s mind racing.
He absently shook the creature off, and stood up.
“Come on, then. Let’s get you home. Maybe I can find you some worms or insects until we work out what you like to eat.”
He picked up the tin, smiling at the ammonite as it darted back into the safety of its shell at the sudden movement. If he could just keep it alive until they found another anomaly, or until Helen made a reappearance, then it might be okay. And if they never did manage to get it back to the Jurassic, well, the little creature would just have to get used to living here.
As his mind whirled with the possibilities of the anomalies, Nick suspected the ammonite wasn’t the only one with a whole new world of discoveries ahead of it.