This fic is written for fififolle , who is wonderful and did me a huge favour a few weeks ago.
Title: Business As Usual
Pairing/characters: Ryan/Connor, Dan Robinson, Josh Barclay, Scott Tait, Lewis
Warnings/enticements: occasional language, practically no plot.
Disclaimer: Not mine. ITV and Impossible Pictures own them.
Word count: approx 2600
Summary: When an anomaly situation goes wrong, Ryan knows he can rely on his team to get him through.
AN: written for the lovely Fififolle, who is an awesome star and did me a huge favour a few weeks ago. Just a little fic to say thank you.
Ryan woke to the feeling of being held. It was cold, but there was a warm body pressed up close behind him, and an arm wrapped around him. He had a vague feeling that something wasn’t right, but it felt like too much effort to care what that might be. Besides, how bad could it be if there was cuddling? For a few moments Ryan drifted, still only half conscious, and he reached for the hand on his chest and held it.
“Before this goes any further I’d like to point out that I am not Connor, and this is going to get incredibly awkward if it goes beyond hand-holding.”
Suddenly fully awake, Ryan twisted round to look behind, and almost cried out in pain. For a moment he was convinced he could feel broken ends of ribs grinding together. The movement had also brought a pounding headache very forcefully to his attention.
“Hey, keep still.” The hand disentangled itself from Ryan’s grasp and held Ryan’s shoulder, steadying him. “I reckon you’ve got concussion and a few broken ribs, mate. If you need to move, keep it slow and careful, okay?”
“Dan?” Ryan asked.
“Well, that’s a good start at least, you know who I am. You had me worried for a moment there.”
“Why are you...?” Ryan couldn’t make any sense of the situation at all, and Dan’s light-hearted tone wasn’t helping. “What the hell is going on? Where are we?”
“A cave in the Ice Age. I wouldn’t advise going outside, there’s a blizzard out there that’ll have your extremities off quicker than you can say frostbite.”
Moving more slowly this time, Ryan managed to roll slightly and turned his head far enough to see Dan Robinson grinning down at him. It was the kind of grin that told Ryan his best friend was actually shit scared, but neither of them was going to acknowledge that fact.
“What the fuck happened?” Ryan asked.
“Well, put it this way: the next time Professor Cutter suggests ‘let’s just take a small team through and collect samples, don’t worry, it’ll only be for ten minutes,’ the correct answer is ‘no’.”
A vague memory lurked at the edge of Ryan’s consciousness. Snow flying everywhere, creatures, people running. Shit.
“What actually happened, though?”
“What do you think happened? It all went belly up when Cutter disturbed a couple of mating woolly rhinos. You decided to be the big hero and distract the creatures, and I had to pull your sorry arse out of trouble when they chased you over the side of a cliff. Oh, and then the blizzard started.”
Ryan gave Dan a rather pained smile back. “Business as usual, then?”
“Where’s everyone else?”
“If they’ve got any sense they’re already home.”
Ryan’s chest was really starting to hurt in this position, so he carefully rolled back onto his side and tried not to breathe too deeply. Even in the relative shelter of a cave, and with a foil emergency blanket wrapped around the two of them, the air felt like ice on the back of his throat. He lay still, just listening to the howling wind for a little while. Now he was really looking, he could make out the cave opening and the snowstorm that was raging beyond it. Dan was lying behind him, almost certainly deliberately positioned so he could stay close and still see out of the cave entrance in case anything tried to get in. Ryan had the suspicious feeling that he owed his life to his second in command. Again.
“How’s the head?” Dan asked, in the cheerful tone of voice that he usually used the morning after one of their beer and curry nights, knowing full well that Ryan would be suffering from a hangover from hell. Dan was an evil bastard like that, sometimes. “Any headache? Dizziness? Nausea?”
“Yes,” Ryan admitted.
“Ah.” There was a pause. “Maybe we’d better stay here and wait for a rescue party, then.”
Ryan didn’t like the thought of just lying here and waiting, but he wasn’t one hundred percent certain that he could actually stand up and make the world stop spinning for long enough to achieve anything other than just get cold. More cold.
Dan settled down again, pressed close behind him, and slipped an arm around Ryan’s waist.
“Now I know I’ve told you this several times before, but it was usually when you were drunk so you might not remember; I do not swing that way, so if you even think about getting a stiffie from this I’ll tell all the lads you’re a closet Abba fan.”
Ryan couldn’t help chuckling, and regretted it immediately when the movement jarred his ribs.
“Dan, considering the temperature right now, getting a stiffie at all would be a bloody miracle. Besides, sorry to break this to you, but you’re really not my type.”
“I’m sure Connor will be happy to hear that as well,” Dan said.
Connor. Ryan let his mind linger on the thought of his lover. He was sure there was something he was supposed to remember about Connor, but he couldn’t...
“Oh, shit! Connor’s going to bloody kill me.”
“Not the usual greeting when your boyfriend returns from a near death experience, but whatever floats your boat, mate.”
“No, he got his exam results yesterday. I promised I’d take him out for a meal tonight.”
“I think given the circumstances he might forgive you.”
“You don’t know how much he’s been looking forward to the meal,” Ryan commented.
When Dan spoke again after a short pause, the humour was gone from his voice. If anything, he sounded tentative.
“Ryan, can I ask you something?”
“I don’t like the sound of this, but yes.”
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but why Connor? He’s not exactly your usual type.”
Ryan didn’t immediately respond. The truth was he’d asked himself the same question more than once over the last few months and he had yet to find any logical answer. And Dan was right; his usual type was fit, athletic, experienced, and if they came back more than twice it practically qualified as a long term relationship. Connor was the antithesis of all the men Ryan had ever picked up in bars, and yet they’d been together for almost six months, and Connor had all but moved in with him. Ryan was starting to suspect that he may have been going after the wrong type all along.
Out loud he said, “Honestly? I don’t know. It just happened.”
He felt warm breath tickle the back of his neck when Dan laughed.
“Check out the last of the great romantics.”
Ryan closed his eyes again and tried to relax. The simple truth was, Connor made him happy. He liked the fact that no matter how much he thought he knew Connor, the young man kept on surprising him. Much as he hated to admit it sometimes, Ryan knew it was good for their relationship that Connor gave as good as he got in practically all aspects of their lives. Connor wasn’t the type of man who lay down and let Ryan have it all his own way. Of course, it also helped that the sex was great.
“Hey.” Dan shook his shoulder gently. “Don’t you even think about going to sleep. You need to stay awake.”
“Wasn’t sleeping,” Ryan mumbled.
“Good. You know what Tait would be saying if he was here, right?”
“He’d be saying ‘stop whining you soft southern bugger, it’s only a flesh wound’,” Ryan said, in a passable imitation of their medic’s broad Yorkshire accent.
Dan laughed out loud at that. “Probably yes. But he’d also tell us to keep talking and keep each other awake.”
Ryan sifted through his tired brain to find something else to talk about, before Dan started probing into his love life again. Dan was his best mate, but, concussed or no, there were some things that he had no intention of discussing the details of with him.
“How’s the team going? You got a new scrum half yet?”
“No. Me and Lewis keep trying to talk Josh into joining the team, he’s a nippy little bastard, he’d make a great scrum half, but he’s not interested.”
“Too busy trying to work up the courage to talk to Abby,” Ryan commented, his mind starting to drift again.
“Probably. Plus I think he’s a bit worried about having to put up with Cutter, Stephen and Connor all going into protective big brother mode if he gets anywhere with her.”
It was Ryan’s turn to chuckle at that. “I don’t know what he’s worried about them for. Abby’s tougher than the lot of them put together. Besides, I think Connor’s allowed to do the big brother thing for her, considering how many times Abby gets that protective mother bear look every time me and Connor have a fight.”
“Has she given you the, ‘if you hurt him...’ talk, then?” Dan said, sounding amused.
“Not quite, but I’m pretty certain she wants to.”
“Maybe it’s not Abby who needs the protective big brothers. Do you think we should go and loom menacingly next time Josh bottles it?”
Ryan briefly considered it. “I think he’ll kill us all in our sleep if we try it. But it might actually force him to do something.”
“Ten quid says Abby asks him out before he gets the nerve to ask her.”
“Maybe. Can’t you just take him out, buy him a few beers and give him a pep talk?”
“Why me?” Dan grumbled. “You’re the bloody captain. Surely it’s your job.”
“Not when it comes to this. Besides, I’m the last person to be giving anyone advice about women, aren’t I?”
They both became quiet for a while. Ryan was fairly certain that Connor would be having hysterics if he could hear this conversation. Despite all outward appearances of stoic manliness, his squad could be the biggest bunch of gossips on earth if they put their minds to it. Ryan didn’t officially know about it, and would probably have to stop it if he did, but there had been a pool running on how long it would take Barclay to ask Abby out for the last three weeks, and there was now some serious beer riding on the outcome.
Something outside caught Ryan’s eye, a streak of light that was moving a different way to the driving snow.
“Saw it, mate. Looks like the cavalry’s finally here.” Dan was already scrambling out from under the foil survival blanket, and Ryan couldn’t help hunching up against the sudden cold as his friend moved away.
Dan picked something up from their pile of gear and went to the cave entrance, and a moment later Ryan saw a streak of colour as a flare fired out into the whiteout. He stayed at the cave mouth for a while longer, staring out into the snow. Ryan tried to sit up, but despite his friend’s efforts to keep him warm the cold had been seeping into his limbs and he felt stiff, frozen.
“They’re coming,” Dan said, turning back towards him with a grin.
The smile abruptly dropped from his face and Dan’s gaze slid over Ryan and beyond him into the depths of the cave. He swore and was pulling his pistol out even as Ryan heard the growl. Ryan twisted, reaching for his own gun despite the pain in his chest. He heard shots fired, and suddenly Dan leapt over his prone body and placed himself directly between Ryan and whatever was back there.
Ryan forced himself to sit up, ignoring his screaming ribs. There was something huge moving at the back of the cave, but it was all shadows in the darkness. With Dan in the way he couldn’t get a clear shot.
Dan stood firm, firing shot after shot into the darkness. Ryan heard the sound of shouting as he finally struggled to his feet, wobbling precariously as the world spun violently around him. He tried to aim past his friend but the cave wouldn’t stop spinning, and he didn’t dare risk friendly fire. The creature lunged out of the darkness and Dan was thrown across the cave.
“Sir, get out of the way!” Barclay yelled from behind him.
Ryan stepped backwards, his eyes drawn to Dan’s body slumped unmoving against the wall. A loose rock turned under his foot and Ryan felt himself falling. Gunfire raged around him as Tait, Barclay and Lewis let loose on the creature.
Stupid bloody rock, was Ryan’s last thought as his head slammed on the ground and he lost consciousness.
Ryan woke up to the feeling of being cuddled. Slowly memories returned, and this time he decided it was probably safer to check first before he snuggled back.
He opened his eyes. Hospital. Definitely a hospital. That didn’t explain the cuddling, though. He glanced sideways to find Connor lying next to him, pressed up close, his arm curled carefully around Ryan’s stomach. Somehow he had managed to make himself comfortable perched precariously close to the edge of the hospital bed. Ryan didn’t want to think about what might happen if Connor decided to turn over in his sleep.
“Hey, you’re back in the land of the living,” a familiar voice said from his other side.
Ryan turned carefully, so as not to wake Connor. Dan was sitting next to his bed and grinning at him.
“Is he allowed to do that?” Ryan asked quietly, indicating Connor.
“No,” Dan said. “But after we’d seen off three different nurses with my protective hard man act and his puppy eyes I don’t think anyone is going to be telling him to move any time soon.”
Ryan stared hard at Dan. There was bruise on his jaw, but other than that nothing to indicate he had been thrown across a cave like an unwanted toy.
“I’m fine,” Dan answered the unspoken question. “Takes more than a cave bear that got up on the wrong side of bed to hurt me.” Then he grinned and added, “Oh yeah, and Tait wants to know if you’re trying to take the Concussion of the Week award from Connor?”
Ryan didn’t get chance to reply. Connor shifted a little, and then Ryan became aware of a pair of big, worried brown eyes peering at him.
“You’re awake! I was starting to worry.”
“Actually, you were starting to snore,” Dan commented. He received a full blown glare from Connor for a full ten seconds before Connor’s attention came back to Ryan.
“How are you feeling?” Connor asked quietly.
Ran carefully tested to make sure all his limbs were moving okay.
“I’m fine,” he decided.
“Listen, I’m going to go find a doctor,” Dan said, standing up and heading for the door. “I’ll probably be back in a minute so can you two hold off on the X rated stuff until after the doc’s taken a look at you?”
Connor glared again, but Ryan just rolled his eyes.
“Dan,” he called out as his lieutenant got to the doorway. When Dan glanced back at him, Ryan hesitated, and then said, “Thank you.”
This time he knew he owed his life to his friend yet again.
Dan just held his gaze for a moment and nodded. Then he closed the door and left Ryan in Connor’s arms.