Pairing/characters: Nick, Connor (Nick/Connor implied if you squint a bit)
Warnings: Mild language.
Spoilers: 2.4, 2.7. Set post S2
Disclaimer: Not mine. ITV and Impossible Pictures own them.
Word count: approx 1200
Summary: An accident forces Nick to do some hard thinking.
“Dammit Connor! Breathe!”
Nick slammed the flat of his hand against Connor’s back again. There was a dribble of filthy looking water, and what might have been blood, coming out of the young man’s mouth, but that was it. His body was limp, unmoving. There was no response. No warmth. No breath.
Nick jerked awake, his spine screaming at the awkward angle he had slid to in the chair. It took a moment for him to remember where he was, and the half darkness of the room wasn’t helping his disorientation. Beside him, the quiet, rhythmic beeping of the hospital machinery reminded him of the reality; that Connor had started breathing again. Choking, coughing, throwing up, damn near hypothermic after being in the reservoir for so long, but alive.
Nick stretched, his muscles complaining at every movement, and checked the time. 4.23 AM. No wonder he’d finally given in to exhaustion and fallen asleep. As far as he could tell, and admittedly his medical knowledge mostly went as far as occasionally watching ER, there didn’t seem to have been any change in Connor’s condition. He reached over and brushed a strand of hair away from Connor’s face. Connor still didn’t move. He had been unconscious now for almost six hours, even though the doctor had said he could come round at any time.
Maybe he should call Abby. The fact that she wasn’t here suggested that the anomaly was still open, and maybe the creature was still around somewhere. But what would be the point of calling? There were no new developments with Connor, and if Abby needed to tell him anything about the anomaly situation she would have called. Nick felt a little guilty at leaving Abby out at the site while he went in the ambulance with Connor. Abby was just as worried about her friend as he was. And yet, she had taken one look at Nick and told him in no uncertain terms to go with Connor, and that she would take care of the anomaly situation. Admittedly, by the time Abby and the Special Forces guys had found them, Nick had been half soaked himself, and desperately hugging Connor’s freezing body against his chest.
Somewhere deep inside, Nick knew that hadn’t just been an attempt to keep him warm until the ambulance arrived.
He wasn’t prepared to lose another member of his team so soon after Stephen. Especially not Connor.
Nick felt a sudden movement and looked down. He didn’t remember taking hold of Connor’s hand, but apparently he had, and now Connor’s fingers were curling around his.
“Connor?” Nick leaned forward eagerly.
Connor breathed deeply, and then announced his return to consciousness with a violent coughing fit.
In response to Nick’s slightly panicked waving and flapping, a nurse came over and performed a rather efficient check on Connor and the various items of monitoring equipment, and seemed satisfied when the coughing finally stopped.
“If your throat feels painful, there’s a glass of water on the side,” she advised. “But only small sips. I’ll go see if I can find the doctor.”
Connor’s gaze slid around the room until he finally looked at Nick.
“Was I doing something stupid, or was I doing something heroic?” he asked in a slightly gravelly voice.
“You don’t remember?”
Connor shook his head. “No- Ow!”
“Try not to move around,” Nick said gently. “You have a fractured wrist, and a hell of a bruise on the back of your head.” And you stopped breathing. You almost bloody died on me.
“Whatever I was doing can’t have been that stupid. You’d be shouting more by now if it was.”
Nick smiled at him. “I’m not intending to shout at you. Not right now, anyway.”
Whatever Connor was going to say was interrupted by another bout of coughing, and when he finished Nick held the glass of water for him while he sipped through a straw.
“That better?” Nick asked as he put the glass back on the table.
“Yeah. Thanks.” He eyed Nick almost sheepishly. “Who rescued me this time?”
“I did. Sort of”
Connor’s eyes slid closed, and Nick wondered if he was going to sleep. The doctor had said the painkillers would make him drowsy.
Nick suspected it might be a good thing that Connor couldn’t remember what had happened. That he wasn’t aware of those nightmare moments when something too huge and monstrous had lunged out of the water and dragged his legs out from under him and yanked him into the water. That it had all happened so fast that by the time Connor had managed to scream he was already being pulled under. That Nick hadn’t affected a heroic rescue, so much as scrambled into the water to drag Connor’s barely conscious body out when the creature, for some inexplicable reason, decided it didn’t want him after all.
But now that it seemed that Connor was out of danger Nick was starting to question exactly what had really happened. How it had happened. He played the events over in his mind again, as he had done so many times in the last few hours, trying to work out where there were mistakes, where things should have happened differently. When he realised the truth, Nick closed his eyes.
“Shit,” he whispered under his breath.
Abby and the soldiers had been over the other side of the reservoir. Nick had only been where he was because he had been following another of his random hunches. And Connor was only there with him because he had been following Nick, trailing after him like a puppy, so eager to show his support, so determined that Nick shouldn’t go off on his own.
Connor had almost died because of him.
Another member of his team damn near sacrificed to the altar of Nick Cutter’s ego. Nick tried to shut that thought away before it overwhelmed him. He had almost lost Abby once before. And after what happened to Stephen... No. No more. He would not be responsible for the death of anyone else on his team. Especially not Connor.
He glanced up when he heard the too-quiet voice, and saw that Connor wasn’t asleep yet. The young man’s forehead was ever so slightly creased, and he looked a little puzzled.
“What’s wrong?” Nick asked.
“Are you holding my hand?”
Nick looked down, and noticed that his thumb was very gently stroking the back of Connor’s hand. He hadn’t even realised he was doing it.
“Yes,” he replied. “Is that a problem?”
Connor’s eyebrows rose slightly, and then a tiny smile appeared on his face.
“No. ’S nice.”
Nick smiled back at him. “Is there anything you want?”
Connor appeared to be thinking for a moment. Then he said in a very quiet, slightly unsure voice, “Will you stay? Please?”
“Of course. I’ll be here when you wake up again. I promise.”
Connor seemed satisfied with this, and his eyes closed again. After a few minutes his breathing became slow and even, and Nick suspected this time he really was asleep. He shifted the chair closer to the bed so that he could sit back and still be within reach of Connor’s hand. The one that wasn’t half encased in a plaster cast.
No more, Nick promised himself. No one else was going to die for him.
Especially not Connor.