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16 September 2011 @ 11:59 pm
Primeval Fic: Master Misunderstanding  
Posted to primeval_fanfic


Title: Master Misunderstanding
Pairing/Characters: Nick/Connor
Rating: PG13
Spoilers: Season 1
Summary: Nick almosts loses Connor after a misunderstanding leads to tragedy
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ


"Connor Temple..."

"Sorry, never heard of it. I think you want archaeology. If you go around up there to your right and keep on walking, it’s on your left."

"No, its not… it’s not a place, it’s my name. I’m one of your students."


Nick ran his hands through his hair; even from the beginning he'd misunderstood Connor, but now...

He got up and went to the window where he'd so recently watched Connor walk down the street, away and out of his life.

Nick half expected to see him coming back, whistling a little tune having completely forgotten their huge row, as if it never happened.

But it did.

One huge misunderstanding - proof Nick hadn't been paying attention, hadn't really cared the way he should about the young man who so obviously doted on him.

Nick had broken something that didn't belong to him and was afraid now he'd never get the chance to try to put it back together.

Or even say he was sorry.

Because now, staring out the window, missing Connor's youthful energy already, he found he truly was.

-

Now he'd done it.

Connor had been telling himself for ages to stand up to Nick, to give him a good telling off so he'd understand how thoughtless he'd been.

Only now he'd done it and stormed out, leaving himself no opening to return.

Letting out a deep breath, Connor rapped on Abby's door. She'd tell him he'd been an idiot - and didn't he already know that before he was halfway down Nick's street - but she'd also help him figure out what to do next.

When it hit him he heard nothing within he knocked one more time for good measure, waited, then huffed as he headed down the street.

It seems no one wanted him around, not even his best mate - though he'd hardly admit that to her.

Connor wasn't sure how long he walked, but when he looked up he was in front of a pub.

A drink didn't sound bad, which probably meant it was the worst possible idea.

Still, Connor figured making bad decisions was something he was good at so at least this couldn't go worse than imagined.

Opening the door he headed inside, intent on just having a pint.

-

"I swear I haven't seen him!" Nick paced as he spoke to Abby on the phone. "I haven't been at my flat all day. The reptile exhibit's got a sick blue-tongued skink and..."

"Just call me if you hear from him, all right?" Nick interrupted, testy.

"You don't want me to just have him call you?"

Such a simple yet loaded question.

"We've... We've had a bit of a row," Nick admitted reluctantly. "So no, don't tell him I called after him. I just want to know he's all right."

"Men," Abby huffed. "It's a wonder our species survives with you blokes being such idiots. Listen, I'll keep an eye out for him, but only because I care about Connor and I don't want you mucking about with his head. He's a silly ponce, but he's my friend and I won't have you treating him like... like..."

"Like one of my students?" Nick finally filled in for her.

A little noise of bemusement came down the line.

"I know you better than that, Professor Cutter," she put a smug emphasis on the final two words. "If he was just your student, you wouldn't even know his name."

That cut a little too close to home and Nick stiffened, not wanting to let her know how much that accusation hurt.

"Just help me find him," he finally said.

"I'll do what I can, but he's a grown man - even if you don't want to recognize that fact," she chided, "and if he wants to disappear for a while because he's brassed off? I'm not going to stop him."

Abby was a good friend for Connor. That fact made the idea that Connor hadn't gone to her all the more disturbing.

"I understand. I just want him home safe."

"That can be done," Abby said. "Just realize that it likely won't be at your home."

-

"Blimey, lad! Is it possible to be worse at darts?"

Connor really sucked at darts, but he found he was enjoying himself too much to care.

"I'd do better if the bloody target stopped moving!" he complained, closing one eye as he tried to aim his dart at the wall.

A smattering of laughter threw him off his concentration and his throw went wide, barely making it on the cork.

"Bad luck, mate! But how about another game?" The man who had challenged him to a game after his third pint - was it really his third - gathered up the darts and offered a set to Connor. "We can take the wager down to five pounds. How does that sound?"

"Yeah, sure... But you go first, okay? I need another drink." He stumbled off to the bar and slouched onto a stool to wait for the bartender to get to him. He dumped the darts on the bartop only to have them disappear a few seconds later. He blinked at where they'd been, but they didn't return.

His cell phone vibrated in his pocket again. He'd turned off the ringer ages ago, but figured it was time to see if Abby had called him back. He probably should eat dinner at some point - a curry would be nice - since he hadn't had anything more than a liquid lunch and a half finished coffee at Nick's.

Nick. The missed calls was filled with his name. Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, Abby, Nick, Nick again, another two Abbys, his mother, the chemists around the corner and another helping of Nicks and Abbys - he'd lost count after the first half dozen or so.

The bartender came near and Connor tried to flag him down, almost falling off the stool in the process.

A not so subtle cock of the head from the bartender brought the doorman over.

"Oi! Time to leave."

"But..."

"Time to leave," the man insisted, taking a fairly liquid Connor by the arm and walking him to the exit.

Once outside Connor squinted at the street lights; it hadn't been dark when he went in the pub.

A little disoriented, he headed towards what looked like the nearest major street, hoping to hail a cab or find a Tube station.

-

It wasn't until Nick showed up at Connor's flat that it hit him: Connor had a key to Nick's place, but Nick didn't have a key to Connor's. He sat down on the stairs leading up to the front door and thought about it. When did they ever spend any time at Connor's? He'd dropped him off plenty of times, mostly to run in and grab more clothes and such for a weekend at Nick's, but in no way were their abodes on equal footing.

Nick had always assumed it was because his place was much nicer, but in truth, he'd never had any interest in spending any time at Connor's place because he preferred his own.

It never occurred to him that Connor might prefer his own flat as well, but he never said anything.

Well, not until recently.

He'd given it to Nick good, as if the firehose had been kinked all this time, pressure building, until it all blew out at once. Nick knew he was selfish, knew he put himself first, even knew he was a thoughtless mate - Helen had made sure he understood that even before she disappeared.

Only Connor had finally told him that that wasn't acceptable.

In truth, he was right - Connor did deserve better. Nick had never done a good job at relationships; he'd mucked up things with Helen on an epic scale and that wasn't in any way an understatement.

But he was getting older now. He couldn't trust Helen or Steven and so many of his old friends had wandered off, tired of Nick's excuses of being too busy to get together.

Letting out a long breath, sitting there on the dark stoop, Nick felt old. Connor's bright energy had staved off the shadow of mortality for Nick, but now that his light was gone, Nick felt the chill upon him - the niggling fear that he might die alone and ungrieved.

He pulled out his cell phone for yet another message, even though Connor had ignored them all so far.

After the tone he spoke, his free hand running through his hair in frustration.

"Look, you were right, all right? I'm a jerk, an idiot. I'm selfish and a prat and all that. But I'm worried about you. Even if you don't want to talk to me, please at least call Abby and let her know you're all right. You're probably still brassed off at me - and I deserve it - but I'd like nothing better to give you another chance to tell me off and this time I swear I'll listen." He paused briefly, anguish tightening his chest. "Just call... Please..."

-

He hadn't told the cab driver to hurry, but it must have been his habit because Connor had to hold on tight in the back of the cab - fighting down the roiling of his stomach.

They passed cars that were just a blur of color to him, signs gone too quickly to read. He wasn't really sure how far they'd gone, but it seemed a bad idea to distract the driver from his weaving through traffic.

He'd actually already forgotten where he'd told the cabbie to drop him: Abby's? His own flat? Certainly not Nick's though there was a slight chance of that purely out of force of habit.

The windows were filled with red almost entirely: buses... Double deckers... Probably filled with tourists heading back to their hotel from some event.

It was Saturday night. He'd normally spend this night with Nick, not that Nick ever really took him anyplace. They'd almost always have food delivered or do local takeout, bringing it back to Nick's place. There was always work to be done, even if it was tempered by conversation, and since Connor loved the work and loved Nick it was never a hardship.

And there it was.

Connor hadn't really admitted it to himself before, but it wasn't just hero worship anymore. Connor really did love Nick. That had to be where the row started: Connor finally ready to be treated as one half of a proper couple, while Nick still treated him as a student, a child, a stranger...

Connor was tired of being kept on the outside, of being treated like a second class citizen.

So he'd told Nick so.

Now he really wanted to take it back and be sitting at Nick's coffee table working on anomaly reports and eating bad Chinese takeout.

Only some words, once said, can never be unsaid.

The red in the windows looked wrong, noises were loud enough to draw him out of his revery and the cabbie slammed on the brakes so hard Connor felt himself fly through the air.

And then it was over.

-

"I am on my way back to my place!" Abby complained in Nick's ear over the phone. "But there's a nasty tailback on the main road - someone on the radio said something about a double decker overturning."

"Well, just call me if you hear from him." Nick shut the phone with a long sigh. He'd been dreading this part of the day - the last ditch effort to find Connor where he hoped he wasn't.

Nick pulled the telephone book closer and dialed the first number he'd marked under Hospitals.

"Hello, can you tell me if you've admitted a young man named Connor Temple? Yes, I'll hold."

Connor could take care of himself. He'd faced down dinosaurs and lived to tell the tale. Clearly he could avoid getting in trouble in just one day on his own.

"Yes? All right. Thank you for checking." Next number. "Hello, can you tell me if you've admitted a young man named Connor Temple? Temple: T-E-M-P-L-E, like the place of worship." He let out a sigh. "Yes, I'll hold."

Connor was a grown man. There was no reason why Nick couldn't just let him go off on his own and sulk for a few days.

But there was a feeling Nick couldn't shake, one that told him that if he cared at all about Connor he needed to find him: now.

"Yes. Thank you." Another number checked off, another tried. "Yes, I hope you can help me. Can you tell me if you've admitted a young man named Connor Temple? Yes, I can hold."

The clock on the wall ticked loudly. The Chinese place would be closing soon - no more takeout tonight.

Such a simple thing to recall: Connor's silly laugh as he dropped lo mein all over the place, his chopstick skills growing abysmal as his attention was focused more on what he was reading.

"Yes, I'm here. Temple, yes. Connor Temple." All the air left Nick's lungs at once. His head felt dizzy and he wavered, losing his sense of up and down in the midst of shock. "When was he admitted?"

-

Hospitals have a smell all their own so Connor knew where he was before his eyes opened. Still, he blinked in surprise when he looked out into the room: Nick was there, pacing the floor actually looking worried.

He shifted slightly in the bed and that got Nick's attention, a flicker of some sort of emotion on his face that Connor could barely catch before the stoic mask went up again.

"You're awake! How are you feeling?" Nick asked as he sat down on a chair beside the bed.

"Not sure," Connor answered, his tongue feeling thick in his mouth from drugs or from drink. Maybe both. He wasn't sure. He felt heavy, immobile, all movement such great effort. "What happened?"

"Apparently you were in a smashup on the motorway. A double decker bus fell over making a turn and your cabbie was one of about a half dozen cars that got partially crushed beneath it."

"Is the cab driver all right?" Connor asked, concerned.

Nick just shook his head as if amused or confused.

"My god, Connor! You haven't even asked about your own injuries and you want to know about some stranger who drove your cab?"

"Yeah."

"I don't know," Nick admitted, scrubbing his face with his hand - and only then did Connor see the shadow of a careless beard there. "But if it's important to you I'll ask the nurse to see if she can find out."

Connor tried to shift again, but the heaviness of his own body stopped him. He looked down but all he could see was his own sheet covered body.

"I want the sheet off."

"Connor... Just be aware it was a bad accident..."

"Now."

Nick drew the sheet back and Connor's breath caught in his throat. Both legs had casts on them, the left up over his knee and the right around his foot and ankle. His left arm also had a cast while his right arm was in a sling. He looked at it and then questioningly at Nick.

"Apparently in all the tumbling about, your shoulder got dislocated. They said your cabbie turned at the last second to avoid hitting anyone, but that the cab rolled. Neither of you had any seat belts on..."

"So a few broken bones in my legs and arm, a dislocated shoulder..."

"A concussion," Nick picked up, "and lacerations from broken glass."

After Connor wiggled his toes and fingers - just to prove to himself he could - he let his head fall back against the pillow and his eyes close.

"I'm tired," he admitted candidly, though from what he wasn't sure.

"Rest," came Nick's voice out of the void, already sounding far away. "I'll be here."

The last part of Connor's conscious mind was realizing that he hadn't doubted that at all.

-

"Excuse me." Nick had waited in a rather long queue at the nurse's station, but with Connor out again it was at least something more to do than sit by his bedside and berate himself for being the cause behind Connor being out there to get hurt. "I wanted to ask about the other man in the car with Connor Temple? The cab driver? I figured they might have been brought in at the same time." He made an apologetic face. "Connor just wants to know the man's all right."

The nurse looked down at her paperwork, shaking her head. "We had over two dozen injuries and a half dozen bodies come in from that crash - some flying glass and bystanders, but mostly drivers and passengers from the vehicles involved. I have names of victims but not who they were with before they were brought in, I'm sorry. If you could find out..." She stopped short and stood up, hailing a bobby walking into the room. "He was here before; he was at the scene of the accident. He might be able to find out the name of your particular cabbie for you."

"Thank you!" Nick moved to intercept the man just as she gestured to the police officer to talk to him. "Hello. I'm a family member of someone involved in the crash: Connor Temple." He knew it was a lie, but it was best to not emphasize their non-traditional status as 'boyfriend' seemed too remote and flighty. "Connor's woken up and was asking about the driver of his cab. The lady at the desk told me you might know his name so I can check on him, let Connor know he's all right."

"Temple..." The policeman flipped through his notes. "Here it is. Driver did a bang up job of avoiding the main crash, but then someone driving askew in a panic hit him head on. Harold Mulligan. Brought in in the same ambulance as Temple."

"Thank you," Nick told him. "Now that I've got the name I can track him down."

"No problem."

The officer departed and Nick - rather than wait in the queue again - flagged down the woman off to the side.

"I have a name," he told her. "Harold Mulligan."

"Mulligan..." She looked on her sheet and her face darkened. "I'm afraid Mr. Mulligan never made it off the operating table - too many internal injuries. They say he bled out about twenty minutes after arrival."

Nick just blinked. Someone in the same car as Connor had died. Connor, somehow - perhaps by virtue of being the passenger in the back instead of the driver in the front - survived.

Nick sank into a chair, realizing just how close he came to losing Connor forever.

-

"They say they've got a special wheelchair - one that can handle your casts..."

Connor opened his eyes as Abby's voice trailed off and he followed her gaze to where Nick stood, solemn, in the doorway.

"The driver?" Connor asked, instinctively knowing the answer. He knew Nick's face; he never could hide anything that major.

Nick just shook his head, something akin to shame in his expression.

Connor turned his head away and let out a shaky breath, needing a moment. The driver wouldn't have been there if it wasn't for him. He wouldn't have died.

"Abby..." He put his hand over hers and she gripped it in her own. "Could you try to find the driver's family? I'd like to pay my respects or even go to the funeral if they let me out of here quickly enough."

"I'll take care of it," she said, rising.

"His name was Harold Mulligan," Nick told them.

Abby just nodded, gathering up her purse and coat. "Call me if you think of anything else you need." She leaned down and gave Connor a kiss on the cheek. As she turned and left she paused in front of Nick, her voice low but still audible. "He remembers... Everything."

Nick just nodded, saying nothing.

As Connor waited, Nick just stood there - barely inside the door - looking awkward, like he didn't belong.

"So..." he finally managed. "Before... We had a bit of a row."

"Heh," Connor huffed out, but said no more, not willing to help Nick through this.

Nick scuffed at the floor with his foot, rather like an anxious schoolboy.

"I just wanted to let you know you were right about everything. You were right. I was selfish and thoughtless and didn't give you the respect you deserve." Connor watched as Nick struggled through his confession, half wanting to help him through it and half knowing it had to be done alone or else it wasn't worth it. "You're a grown man, fully aware of what it takes to make a relationship work, fully deserving of an adult relationship. I was the one who was immature and didn't put the effort into us that I should have."

The way Nick said the word 'us' made Connor choke up. He'd never really acknowledged the two of them as a unit. It had always been Nick as the nucleus and Connor as the buzzing electron in orbit around him.

He shifted slightly in bed to try to get more comfortable, but a slash of pain went through him and he squeezed his eyes shut, grimacing to get through. A soft click preceded a rush of soothing chemicals: pain meds. He breathed through the pain until it lessened and opened his eyes to find a worried Nick had crossed the room and was hovering over him, looking worried.

"Hurts..." Connor finally forced out. "Should rest..."

Nick laid his hand, warm and soothing, on Connor's forehead and he sank into the comfort there as oblivion encroached.

"Get some sleep. I'll be here when you wake up."

Connor tried to smile, thought maybe he managed it, and hoped his final words would be more intelligible to Nick than they sounded slurred in his own head.

"I know you will."

-

It took a fair amount of pillows to prop up all Connor's casts so he just barely fit - no room for Nick to sit with him. He was relegated to the rug by the coffee table, a reversal of their previous set up where Nick had taken over the couch with his papers - leaving no room for Connor - while Connor had sat at his feet, taking over what was left of the coffee table past the takeout containers.

"So once I'm up and about again..." Connor gestured with his fork, his right arm finally free of the sling. "Can we go get eat at this place in person?"

"Eat in the restaurant instead of bringing it home?" Nick asked. The place was only a block away so it had never occurred to him to stay there to eat, but if the look on Connor's face was any indication, it was important to him. He'd learned to read Connor so much better now that he was actually looking and trying to anticipate his needs. "Sure."

Connor beamed like he'd just won a prize and Nick was reminded of the fact that this was all still new to him - being treated like a proper half of a couple.

"Good because I want to try more of their dishes. If their curry's this good? I can't wait to see the rest of the menu."

"Wherever you want to go eat, it's fine with me."

Connor laughed. "I'm pretty sure even you can't get me into high tea with the Queen."

"Point taken, but as far as restaurants go..." Nick put his plate aside. "And things other than restaurants. I know I work too hard and I make everyone else work too hard, but I don't want to be the man who lets life pass him by. Especially in a world were life can be cut short so easily."

"I'm still here," Connor told him, his youthful expression appropriately somber. "I've no plans to go anywhere."

"No, but with the work we do? The anomalies?" Nick shook his head. "It could all be lost in a heartbeat."

"Well then," Connor exclaimed, flourishing grandly with his fork. "We eat, drink and enjoy some fine curry for tomorrow we may be gobbled up by a predator!"

Nick just chuckled. This was his Connor: too in love with life and living to let danger drag him down. Or, as he thought back, letting Nick drag him down. Instead of letting that happen Connor had risked it all to pull him up.

He ran a hand over Connor's long left leg cast, reminding himself that he'd promised internally that once Connor was well again he'd take the time to show him really how much he meant to him.

Until then, he had more to learn.

"Ready for another drink?" Nick asked.

"Sure."

"I'll get another bottle then." Nick paused to kiss Connor on his way out of the room and while he had intended on it being a brief kiss, Connor snuck his good hand up behind Nick's neck, holding him in place a lot longer.

"I'm not broken," Connor whispered against his mouth. "Not all of me anyway." He pulled Nick down for a second kiss, this one almost forceful, demanding in a way that was entirely foreign to Connor, but amazingly hot to Nick.

Perhaps they didn't have to wait for the casts to come off.

He really did have more to learn.

And thankfully Connor was patient enough to teach him.

#
 
 
 
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on September 19th, 2011 06:15 am (UTC)
Confession
This was written for my Primeval and Numb3rs friend telperion_15 as a birthday gift. I promised it like two birthdays ago and only recently was able to get it written. She'd asked for Nick/Connor misunderstanding fic and since I made her wait so long I multiplied it times two (both POVs) and made it a lot longer.

So while it's nowhere near her actual birthday any longer, I figured it's best not to hold onto it much longer! Hope the jumbo edition makes up for the horrid lateness, hon!

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
Acting my shoe size: Primevalwild_force71 on September 19th, 2011 06:39 am (UTC)
Aw, sweet. Poor Connor. And poor Nick, too; he didn't do it on purpose, after all.

Thanks for sharing, Emma!
telperion_15: Rollercoastertelperion_15 on September 19th, 2011 06:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks again for this - I really enjoyed reading it again! And I didn't mind the wait at all! :D
tay_21tay_21 on September 19th, 2011 09:22 pm (UTC)
I'm not typically into Nick/Connor, but that was just lovely. I really enjoyed it and you wove such a great story. Very good. :-)
athene: cutter/connordeinonychus_1 on September 19th, 2011 10:06 pm (UTC)
awww, poor Connor. Glad Nick finally realised how much Connor meant to him.
auntypam: pic#wwcdauntypam on September 20th, 2011 03:04 am (UTC)
Lovely fiction:) Good thing Cutter realized in time how much Connor means to him*G*