Pairing/characters: Connor, Cutter, Stephen, Abby, (blink and you miss it Connor/Abby)
Disclaimer: Not mine. ITV and Impossible Pictures own them
Word count: approx 2000
Summary: written as a birthday present for my regular proof-reader, in response to a challenge to write a fic containing the words 'sprong', 'coalesce', and a cake.
Like so many of Connor’s insane plans, this one most definitely fell into the category of ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’.
To be fair, at the time there had been a large predatory creature on the loose, Ryan and his men weren’t on the scene yet, and Cutter had been yelling, “Distract it!” while trying to protect the injured Stephen.
Which was how Connor found himself being chased down a moonlit suburban street on a stolen bicycle with a ten foot tall, flightless, carnivorous terror bird in hot pursuit.
It made a noise like a half squawk, half shriek, and lunged at his backpack for the millionth time. Connor swerved violently on the bike, hit the kerb, wobbled a truly disturbing amount, but somehow managed to stay both upright and moving. And not eaten. All plus points as far as he was concerned.
Where were the others? If he was ‘Team Distraction’ (although ‘Team Bait’ actually seemed more appropriate) then surely ‘Team Guns and a Sensible Plan’ couldn’t be far behind? They weren’t going to abandon him, right?
Abby’s voice shouting his name suddenly seemed worryingly far behind.
The terror bird lunged at him again and Connor was lifted bodily into the air, suspended from the straps of his backpack, and still clutching the bike, pedalling in mid air like that kid in E.T. He panicked, and in his mad flailing managed to hit the police siren on the bike’s handlebars. Connor wasn’t sure who was more shocked by the resulting noise – him or the bird. He suspected he had uttered a particularly unmanly yelp, but on the plus side no one had heard him because the bird was squawking very loudly indeed, but more importantly let go of him. Connor crashed back down to earth and again by some miracle managed to defy gravity and keep the bike going. Between the siren and the bird and the crashing he was fairly certain that half the street would be waking up and coming to their windows any second. In the interests of national security and not getting yelled at by Claudia, Connor pedalled even faster.
This was insane. He couldn’t keep this up for much longer. He was going to crash, or get tired, or fall off in a really embarrassing way. The bike had seemed like a really good idea when he had found it abandoned in the third garden he ran through, although it was now becoming clear that the bike was actually designed for someone who was about eleven. Which was kind of ironic given that the last time Connor had ridden a bicycle he had been about eleven. Funny how the threat of instant death brought it all back.
Connor saw a sign flash past and in that moment formed a plan. The bird was practically breathing down his neck when he hit the turnoff and did a handbrake spin to the right at full speed.
He wasn’t expecting the chain link fence. At the last second he ditched sideways off the bike and skidded to a halt on the gravel path. The bike, however, had momentum on its side and crashed into the gate.
Connor wasn’t entirely sure which part of the bike had make that noise as it broke, but he was fairly certain that it wasn’t going to be fit for riding again any time soon. He got to his feet and started to climb over the chain link gate that formed the entranceway to Sudbury Allotments. Because allotments meant gardening equipment, which meant potential improvised weapons.
He fell over the top of the gate as the bird ran into it. Connor skidded backwards along the path, breathing heavily and for the first time getting a good look at the creature. It was like a really enormous ostrich, only with bigger talons on its feet, and a more muscular upper body, and a disturbingly sharp beak that was as long as Connor’s arm. And carnivorous. In fact, he reflected, it wasn’t really like an ostrich at all.
The bird shook its head, recovering from going face first into the gate, and glared at Connor. It stalked forwards and investigated the chain link, nibbled one a little. Connor’s breathing was starting to return to normal as he figured the bird couldn’t get at him. Score one for opposable thumbs.
The bird suddenly started to rip at the wire with its beak and Connor heard the links breaking.
He got up and ran.
There was a row of sheds at the far side of the allotments and Connor raced for them. He tried three doors before finding one that wasn’t padlocked, but even then it took him ages to pry and kick all the bolts loose. The sounds of angry squawking and snapping wire continued behind him. Connor yanked the shed door open and nearly got hit in the face by a rake. He quickly surveyed the interior, and grabbed the nearest shovel. He hefted it, wondering briefly how hard he would need to hit the terror bird to even make a dent.
Somewhere in the back of his mind Connor could hear Cutter’s lecturing voice saying they should only harm these creatures if absolutely necessary. Cutter wouldn’t be pleased if Connor had to beat the bird with a shovel, even if it was in the interests of self defence. He needed an alternative. He looked up at the shed. It looked pretty sturdy. It was certainly big enough.
Abruptly, all of Connor’s whirling thoughts coalesced into a plan so brilliant he realised he was grinning like mad. Okay, it was a plan stolen almost entirely from a ten year old kid in a Michael Crichton book, but the others didn’t need to know that. And if it worked it would prove to Cutter once and for all that he was both useful and competent.
If it worked.
He dropped the shovel and dived into the shed, twisting the backpack off as he moved. He opened the pack and upended the contents in the middle of the shed floor. Pepperoni pizza, Chinese chicken wings, spicy cocktail sausages, ice cream, and a very small chocolate cake. He had been on his way home from the supermarket when he got the call about a creature sighting, and what with all the running around and creature hunting, everything he had bought was ever so slightly not-chilled any more. And had started to smell. Which was precisely why his ‘Team Bait’ plan had worked quite as well as it did. He tore through the film wrapping on the meat products and tipped them out, just to make sure the bird got the full scent. It was a shame really; he’d been looking forward to eating that lot.
It suddenly occurred to Connor that the sound of squawking and tearing had stopped. He ran out of the shed and saw the bird stooping to squeeze through the hole it had made. Connor dragged the shed door as wide open as it would go, and then threw himself round the side of the building and pressed flat against the wall.
Now that the bird was stalking his way, a thousand panicked thoughts jostled for attention. What if the bird could smell him more than the meat? What if it didn’t like spicy food? What if it preferred its food still moving? What if… what if… what if?
The bird hesitated at the door to the shed. It sniffed the air, clicked its beak. Connor didn’t breathe. Didn’t move. Hell, he was trying really hard not to even think in case it noticed. The bird stepped into the shed. He heard it step forward, further in.
Just one more step, please, he silently begged.
It took another step toward the food, its talons clicking on the wooden floorboards.
Connor hurled himself round the corner and against the door. It slammed shut, and his fingers scrabbled frantically at one of the bolts. There was an almighty squawk from inside and suddenly the bird rammed into the door. It opened a fraction before Connor’s weight pushed it shut again. He couldn’t get the bolt closed. Every time he almost had it the bird managed to force the door open again. He gave up on the bolt and just braced himself against the door as the bird battered the other side.
He looked up and saw Abby, Cutter and Stephen, apparently not so injured after all, climbing through the hole in the fence and running towards him. Connor would have breathed a sigh of relief, if he hadn’t still been trying to hold back an enraged terror bird. At last, the cavalry was here. And they did indeed have guns. Or at least, one really big tranquiliser gun. Connor hoped they would also have a sensible plan.
“It’s in there,” Connor jerked his head at the door behind him, although the warning was a touch redundant what with the banging and the squawking coming from inside.
Cutter quickly helped him brace the door while he issued the Sensible Plan. It was pretty much like all of Cutter’s other plans, and involved Stephen shooting the creature before Ryan arrived and decided to use a slightly more lethal method. On the count of three, Connor and Cutter yanked the door open and dived out of the way. Stephen shot it, Abby on standby next to him with extra tranquiliser ammo if he needed another shot. But one was all it took. The bird had been about to ram the door again, and flew headfirst out when the door was no longer there. It tripped over the slight step and landed in an ungainly heap in the dirt, allowing Stephen to put the shot in exactly the right place for maximum effect.
There was a brief moment of standing around and breath-holding while the bird twitched. Then it was finally still, and yet again Connor had that moment of post-adrenaline-rush near death experience realisations that he was still alive, and likely to remain that way for a while longer.
Then Abby pounced on him.
“You’re alive!” she confirmed his earlier suspicions. “We were worried something had happened to you.”
Connor was too busy being hugged to reply, and he enjoyed the moment while he could. Maybe the night wasn’t a total loss after all.
When Abby finally let go, Cutter patted his shoulder.
“Nice work.” It was as close as the professor ever got to a compliment, but to Connor it felt like the guy had just given him a Nobel Prize.
“Connor, what’s all this stuff?” Stephen was standing over the pile of pungent savouries in the shed.
“I was planning a party. It’s my birthday tomor-” he glanced at his watch. It was gone . “Today, actually.”
Some birthday. He’d been chased, nearly eaten, and all the food he’d bought – which represented the last of this month’s student loan - was now completely inedible. And as for the party, Abby was the only one he’d even told about it, so it was less a party and more a pile of food and probably a DVD or two.
“Celebrate later. Right now we still have to find the anomaly this creature came through.” Might have known Cutter wasn’t the partying type.
“You know,” Abby said carefully, eying the food and the shed and the bird. “This reminds of that bit in the kitchen in Jurass-”
“So,” Connor interrupted loudly. “Anomaly hunting. Let’s go find the anomaly, send this feller back through, and make sure it’s all safe and secure.”
“What if we can’t find the anomaly?” Stephen pointed out. “It could be anywhere. It could be closed already. What do we do with this thing then?”
Connor glanced back at the terror bird and grinned. “Anyone fancy a really, really big KFC?”