Series: Three Years, part 12
Title: Here and Now
Warnings: AU, implied non-con, occasional language, smut.
Spoilers: Anything through to episode 1.6
Disclaimer: Not mine. ITV and Impossible Pictures own them.
Word count: approx 4000
Summary: Home at last, but things are still not entirely right.
AN: Final chapter at last. Thanks to everyone who’s stuck with the damn thing for so long. And especially huge thanks to Fredbassett and Telperion_15 in particular for providing masses of moral support and encouragement while I’ve been writing this series. Cheers guys.
Links to previous chapters in the Five Days/Three Years series can be found here.
Ryan flicked through the channels before switching the TV off in vague disgust. As usual, there was sod all on worth watching. He got up and wandered restlessly around his flat. The fridge was full of beer, but he realised he didn’t actually fancy any tonight. Which made a change. Since he’d got out of hospital there hadn’t been a hell of a lot else to do other than watch TV and get drunk. Occasionally Robinson came round and they got drunk together, but Robinson was currently off somewhere, so Ryan was utterly bored.
Even being back at work would be better than this. He had healed now, he was fit for duty. But Thomson was still in charge of the Special Forces team assigned to the anomaly project. Only Lester, Cutter and Claudia knew the full truth of what had happened in 2010, although in private Ryan had told Robinson some of it. The secrecy hadn’t gone down well with Stephen and Abby. Abby in particular had been confused and upset, and then eventually angry after Connor’s second disappearance, and understandably, she wanted to know why he hadn’t stayed.
There had been long drawn out arguments about who should be told, but in the end Lester had decided that the less people who knew about the future the better. And Cutter had been worried about what effect it might have on Abby and Stephen to know that unless they managed to alter the course of events, both of them might be dead in three years. Still, that hadn’t stopped Lester from acting on the advanced warning about the sabre tooth in the shopping centre, and preventing the situation turning into the disaster that Claudia and Abby had described.
Somehow Connor and Helen had managed to find an anomaly that came out only three months after he and Connor had first disappeared. In that time, Thomson had so far only been able to use an incident in the Permian to assert more military control over the field situations. Lester was still very much in control of the whole operation, and when he learned about who Thomson was really working for, and their hidden agenda, he had immediately started working to remove Thomson and his influence by some form of subtle political manoeuvring. Until that happened, Ryan couldn’t be reinstated on the team, and he felt like he was stuck in limbo as more and more time slipped by. And there was never any sign of Connor.
Which was why he was quite so stunned when he answered the door and found Connor standing on his doorstep.
Ryan’s first impressions only took in the differences. His hair was shorter, and even in the darkness outside he looked leaner, tougher, harder around the edges. Older. Then he smiled that small, nervous smile, and it was like nothing had changed.
“Hi. I’m back.”
Ryan couldn’t say anything. He had no words for a moment. He just stared.
“Um, can I come in?” Connor tried, the smile being slowly replaced by a worried look.
“Yeah, sorry.” Ryan let him in. The hallway really wasn’t big enough for both of them because it was a small flat, and there was a slightly awkward crush for a few seconds until they made it into the living room. That was different as well; the awkwardness. But then, as far as Ryan remembered, the last time they had seen each other their relationship had resembled something from an episode of Jerry Springer, so maybe it wasn’t that surprising, really.
Then they both just stood there looking at each other.
Ryan didn’t have a clue what to say. He had almost convinced himself that he was never going to see Connor again, even while a tiny shred of hope had kept telling him not to give up. There were so many ways that he had imagined finding Connor, all of them involving anomalies and dramatic rescues and heroics. Having him turn up like this at his flat was just too… normal. And that was what made it even more surreal.
“Oh, god, I don’t know what to say.” Connor was the first to speak. “I must have planned this conversation a million times over, and now I just can’t think of a single thing.”
Ryan felt an odd squirming in his stomach. Connor wasn’t the only one who had rehearsed this scene over and over in his head.
“When did you get back?”
Bloody stupid opening question, Ryan thought as soon as he said it. Of all the questions spinning round in his head, that had to be the least important.
“Not long ago. I pretty much came straight here. Oh, you don’t need to worry about anything else coming through the anomaly. That one wasn’t open very long.”
“Is Helen here with you?”
“No. Last time I saw her was in the Cretaceous.”
“Is that where you’ve been?”
“We’ve been all over.” Connor’s eyes were suddenly alight with enthusiasm, and his words tumbled over themselves in the rush to be spoken. “God, Ryan, you should have seen it. All those creatures, all those time periods. There’s just so many. There are anomalies everywhere Ryan, all over time. If you know how to find them you can go anywhere, see anything.”
“Sounds like you had fun.” Ryan heard the bitterness in his voice before he even realised he was becoming angry.
Connor hesitated, and suddenly the enthusiasm was gone. “Fun isn’t the word I would have used,” he said carefully.
“Well you were the one that went off into the past with Helen bloody Cutter. Must have been nice for you, having someone who actually knew all the names of the creatures for a change.”
“Is that what you think?” Connor sounded incredulous. “Yes, the creatures were amazing, the past was incredible. But if I had to choose, Helen Cutter was the last person I would have wanted to share that experience with.”
“So why the fuck didn’t you come back? Why did you just leave me like that?” Ryan was yelling now, and he couldn’t stop himself.
“I didn’t have a choice.”
“You abandoned me and pissed off, leaving me to try to explain all this time travel shit to Lester. Thanks a lot for that, by the way.”
“It was the only way to stop you from dying.” Connor was shouting now as well.
“There had to be another way. You didn’t have to go with her.”
“What other way? What choice did I have, Ryan? I did it to save you. I didn’t want to go with Helen.” The frustration was evident in his voice now. And bewilderment. “Why are you so angry with me?”
“Because I just spent the last five weeks not knowing where you were. Not knowing if you were dead or alive. Five fucking weeks, Connor.”
Five weeks of which he’d spent nearly two in hospital, and a large proportion of the rest being grilled by Lester and Cutter about where they had been, what they had done, what they knew about the anomalies, and where Connor and Helen were now. Five weeks in which Ryan’s imagination had created ever more elaborate scenarios of how Connor might come to harm without his protection. Five weeks of just not knowing, and being utterly helpless to do anything about the situation.
When Connor replied he was as quiet as Ryan had been loud.
“It was six months for me.”
Ryan just stared at him in shock. The look in Connor’s eyes suggested he had gone through similar feelings of fear and uncertainty while they were apart. Ryan felt suddenly guilty for lashing out. Somehow his attempt to express how much he had worried about his friend had come out as an accusation, and that wasn’t what he’d intended in the slightest. This entire conversation hadn’t been what he had intended.
“So,” Ryan said slowly, trying to find something non-inflammatory to say. “Are you back for good now?”
“What happened? Did she dump you?” Ryan mentally whacked his forehead for being an idiot again. Foot-in-mouth disease was apparently set in for the night.
“She was pretty much healed. We came to a mutual agreement to part company,” Connor said in a voice that was trying too hard to be patient.
“Right. So she dumped you then.”
Neither of them spoke for a while. Connor seemed to have found something intensely interesting about the carpet, and Ryan couldn’t think of a damn thing to say. No, that wasn’t true. He knew exactly what he wanted to say, but somehow the words kept getting lost in translation between his brain and his mouth.
“I came back a couple of times,” Connor said quietly. “I needed to see you, to know that you were okay.”
“I never saw you.”
“I know. I made sure you didn’t see me.”
“Helen wouldn’t let me.
“She wouldn’t let you?” Ryan was incredulous.
“She said if you knew I was back you wouldn’t let me leave again.”
“She was right, I wouldn’t have.”
When Connor glanced up at him, Ryan saw the quiet pleading in his eyes. “That’s why I didn’t talk to you Ryan. I wanted to, believe me, I wanted to. But I made a deal with Helen, I had to stay with her.”
“So what else didn’t she let you do? What did she let you do?” Ryan knew he was getting angry again. Angry with Connor for leaving him, angry with Helen for keeping Connor away from him, angry on Connor’s behalf for whatever Helen might have done to him.
“Ryan, don’t.” Connor’s voice was a quiet warning.
“Did you sleep with her?” The question was out before Ryan even realised what he was saying.
“What do you think?” Connor snapped back.
Did she force you? But Ryan didn’t voice the question. There was no possible good answer to that one.
After a moment the flash of anger in Connor’s eyes became a silent pleading.
“Don’t, Ryan. Please don’t go there. I did what I had to to survive.”
Nobody spoke for a while. Ryan tried to rein in his temper. The thought of Connor and Helen together was far worse than any of his nightmares about Connor being in danger from creatures. What had she done to coerce him? What if he had done it willingly? What if that was what Connor really wanted after all, a straight, normal relationship with a woman? What if everything between them had only happened because a confused and vulnerable young man had been experimenting with his sexuality? Ryan was angry and hurt and was already preparing himself for the worst. He just wanted to get this over without losing his temper too badly. Now it was simply a matter of damage limitation.
“So what happens now?” Ryan finally asked.
“I don’t know.” Connor looked helpless, frustrated. “I do know that I didn’t come here to fight with you Ryan.”
“So why did you come here?” If you’re going to tell me it’s over, just get it done and leave, Ryan silently pleaded.
Connor looked around the room, at the ceiling, at the furniture, anywhere but at Ryan. Finally his eyes found Ryan again, and he abruptly seemed to come to a decision.
“Oh, stuff this,” Connor said. “Life’s too bloody short.”
He covered the distance between them and reached up and pulled Ryan into a kiss. It held none of the force, or the playfulness of the way they used to kiss. This was tentative, testing. Connor finally broke away, and sighed.
“What?” This is it. It’s over.
“It still felt right,” Connor said. He hesitated, and then explained. “I was kind of thinking that maybe it wouldn’t. Especially after all this time. That we could just put what happened between us down to a stress reaction to being in a dangerous situation together. That maybe now we’re home we’d go back to how we were before any of this started.”
“Is that what you want? To go back to that?” Ryan hardly dared to ask the question, but he needed to know.
Connor only hesitated for a second.
Ryan took a few moments to fully process what Connor had said. When he didn’t immediately reply, Connor started to look nervous.
“Ryan? What about you? Do you want to just forget it?”
Ryan suddenly felt so relieved he was practically giddy.
“God, no,” he breathed.
Connor closed his eyes, his relief just as evident. Ryan took the opportunity to drag him close again. Right then he didn’t think he ever wanted to let go of the young man again.
Ryan wasn’t sure what he expected. He kind of had an idea that Connor would want to take it slowly, and he was quite prepared to wait as long as he needed. Connor, apparently, had other ideas. Connor’s fingers slid around Ryan’s waist and started untucking his t-shirt and sliding over the skin beneath. All of which turned out to be merely a distraction so that Connor could kiss him again. This time it was harder, deeper, more demanding.
If that was how Connor wanted it, Ryan was more than happy to oblige.
Hands seemed to be trying to be everywhere at once, exploring, re-familiarising themselves. Ryan tried to hold himself back, to let Connor set the pace, but he was impatient, he wanted more, now. When he realised that Connor seemed to be trying to remove his t-shirt while they were still kissing, Ryan guessed that he felt the same.
With a little steering and prodding by Connor, they tumbled onto the sofa together, and very rapidly lost whatever t-shirts they had been wearing.
Connor had gained several more scars since Ryan had last seen him. The most obvious was still the bullet scar, white and angry looking against his tanned arms. There were others now on his arms, shoulders, and chest; nothing that looked too serious, but each one held a suggestion of what he’d been through. It was also clear that Ryan’s first impression had been right – he’d got a hell of a lot fitter, his body was leaner, and there was a touch more muscle definition.
“You’ve been working out,” Ryan commented wryly, trailing a finger appreciatively along Connor’s chest.
“The anomaly workout programme,” Connor replied with a smile. “We could market it as a radical new way of tackling the country’s obesity problem. Get fit or get eaten.”
Ryan chuckled. “I like it. The new look suits you.”
Connor’s hand traced along the long line of the claw marks down Ryan’s chest. His face became more serious as he looked at them.
“I think you still win the tough guy award,” he said.
Ryan distracted him with a kiss.
“It’s not a competition,” he said softly.
Connor couldn’t seem to take his eyes off the scars though.
“It was over a month before I even knew if you survived. I know we did our best, and Abby and that soldier guy were there, but I didn’t know if they’d got you to hospital okay, or what had happened, and I was really scared that I might have screwed up or something, and not knowing for so long was way worse than when you went missing in the Jurassic because that was only for a day, but I didn’t know what else to do, Ryan, that was all I could think of. I get why you were angry at me, but I didn’t want to stay away, I wanted to come back, you have to believe that, Ryan, please.”
Ryan let Connor’s words peter out. Then, for only the second time that night, Ryan managed to say exactly what he meant without the words getting lost in translation.
“I missed you, too.”
Connor’s expression suggested he was still trying to apologise when his hand tracked lower and came to rest on the waistband of Ryan’s jeans. He started to undo the button. Ryan hesitated for a moment, and then caught hold of Connor’s wrist and moved his hand away.
“You don’t want…?” Connor looked mortified.
“Stop being an idiot, Connor. Of course I want it. But you once told me you didn’t want your first time to be in a cold tent in the middle of nowhere. So how about a warm bed instead?”
The sudden look of wide-eyed anticipation on Connor’s face was enough. Ryan grabbed his hand and pulled him off the sofa and into the bedroom.
Ryan’s bedroom was a reflection of his personality – neat, organised, no unnecessary clutter. But beyond the briefest of impressions, Connor wasn’t really paying much attention to the room.
He watched as Ryan closed the door behind them, and slowly prowled round him, his eyes roaming all over Connor’s gently trembling body. He wanted this, he had wanted this for a very long time, but intermingled with that was a very real fear that it was going to hurt. He might be inexperienced, but he wasn’t completely clueless about this sort of thing.
“Relax,” Ryan said. To back that up, he started to rub Connor’s shoulders, his hands slowly working down Connor’s back, at the same time kissing, nipping and nuzzling his neck. Despite the hungry expression in Ryan’s eyes whenever he looked at him, Connor still felt strangely self conscious at the attention, surprised by the fact that this man could apparently want him so much. Connor was already so hard it hurt, and yet after the initial eagerness, Ryan now seemed to be intent on working as slowly as possible, teasing every sensation out until, after what seemed like an eternity, the rest of their clothes were pooled on the floor, and Ryan nudged him onto the bed. .
Ryan reached into the bedside drawer, and Connor glanced sideways to see him produce a condom and a tube of lubricant. His heart rate went off the scale just thinking about it, and Ryan must have sensed his trepidation because he suddenly paused.
“Connor, are you sure you want this?”
And that was another first for the night, because in all his previous sexual encounters, not that there had been that many, no one had ever asked him what he wanted before. And he had been too inexperienced, or too desperate, or too scared to notice that fact.
“I want it,” he breathed.
Ryan kissed him again, and his fingers brushed a stray bit of hair out of Connor’s face.
“Turn over,” Ryan said.
Connor rolled onto his front, his heart still pounding.
“Relax,” Ryan said again, breathing softly onto the back of his neck and making Connor’s skin tingle. While he was doing that his hands were apparently busy doing something else, because suddenly he was nudging Connor’s thighs open, and pressing a well-lubricated finger against, and then very slowly into him.
Connor barely managed to stop himself crying out. It hurt. But it also felt bloody amazing in so many ways that he just didn’t have the vocabulary to describe. Way, way better than his fumbled first time with some girl he’d met at a freshers week party when they were both drunk. And while he could have blamed inexperience for that occasion, experience was one thing that Helen hadn’t lacked. And yet, every unwanted moment with her had hurt in far more ways than this brief burst of physical pain.
Abruptly, and welcomingly, all thoughts of Helen were driven from his mind when Ryan added a second finger. Connor squeezed his eyes closed and grabbed hold of the sheets, trying not to make any noises that might sound like they had come out of a bad porn film.
“Connor?” Ryan somehow managed to sound both worried and intensely aroused at the same time.
“Please don’t stop.” Connor hoped to god that his voice hadn’t sounded quite as desperate as he thought it just had.
Ryan’s fingers seemed to twitch inside him, and suddenly his whole body was on fire. Connor shouted, bucking wildly, not knowing whether he wanted it to stop or to go on forever. He had no words to describe it, but when Ryan did that a second time vocabulary became irrelevant.
And then, suddenly, maddeningly, Ryan was working slowly again, and the sensations, the intense bursts of pleasure that rippled through his body started to drive Connor mad. He wanted more, and he wanted it now. He pushed against Ryan, trying to increase the pace.
“Stop being so impatient,” Ryan chided gently. “Wait.”
“I’ve been waiting six months already,” Connor whined with whatever voice he could find.
“So another few minutes aren’t going to kill you.”
Connor tried to squirm again, tried to push back and create more pressure, but his body didn’t seem to want to co-operate any more, his muscles willing but unable to comply with the desire to move. He became aware that Ryan had pulled his fingers out altogether, and Connor almost whimpered. After a brief pause Ryan replaced his fingers with his cock, and in that moment Connor had only one coherent thought.
This was worth the wait.
He eventually became aware of Ryan’s voice saying something.
“Connor? Are you okay?”
He wanted to say something witty, or at the very least complimentary. All he actually managed was a mumbled noise of extreme contentment.
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
Connor opened his eyes and saw Ryan smiling down at him.
“Mmmmmm,” Connor said. “Brain not making complete sentences.”
It occurred to Connor that he probably had a very dopey grin on his face. He didn’t care. Ryan looked quite happy as well, so he suspected that was a good thing. It also occurred to him that he should probably be feeling a whole lot more damp and messy than he actually did. Apparently Ryan had cleaned up while he was still too far gone to notice. He couldn’t bring himself to feel the slightest bit guilty about that, either.
“That was nice,” Connor mumbled. “We should do that again sometime.”
If possible, Ryan’s grin got bigger. “That’s the best idea I’ve heard all day.”
Connor finally managed to will his body into moving. He rolled over to drag the duvet over himself, and snuggled into it.
“Are you quite sure you’re warm enough under there?” Ryan asked with an indulgent smile.
“Haven’t been in a real bed for ages,” Connor said.
“So that’s really why you came here isn’t it?”
“Yeah. You saw through my cunning plan. I only want you for your bed.”
Ryan chuckled. “Makes a change from only wanting me for my body.”
Connor was still smiling happily to himself. “I quite like that too.”
Ryan stole back some of the duvet and curled around Connor, pressing close to him, apparently trying to achieve as much skin to skin contact as was physically possible. This was the first time in a very long time that Connor had welcomed sleep, enjoyed the feeling of being properly relaxed. For most of the last six months sleep had been a necessary evil that only engendered feelings of trepidation.
He knew things were by no means over. In many ways, the hardest part was still to come. He still had to face Cutter and the others. Thomson still had power and influence in the project, and Connor could only hope that Lester and the others would be able to keep him safe from Section 42 once they knew he was back. And sooner or later he was going to have to face the consequences of his time with Helen, and the effect that might have on his relationship with Cutter. And, for that matter, his relationship with Ryan.
Connor knew there was still a hell of a long way to go. But right then, it felt like they had all the time in the world to make things right.