Spoiler: Series 1-3
Warning: none, incredibly enough
Genre: romance, hurt/comfort
Summary: This is a birthday fic for the fabulous prehistoriccat! Prompt is at the bottom author note. This is set at series three, just prior to the appearance of Jack. Hope you like, and happy birthday! (A wee bit early, but I wanted it for her first thing in the a.m.)
Connor didn’t look like an action man, but for whatever reason, whenever things went pear shaped, action invariably found Connor. He poked fun at the people in films that did stupid things to put themselves in harm’s way. He was always quick to point out that the lone man rushing into danger after a girl was likely to meet a gristly end. He professed to be the type to avoid splitting up when going into a spooky house, and to be the one that would run away from the monster or serial killer… or enraged dinosaur, but when he’d seen that Abby was directly in the path of a rampaging Dacentrus, he’d not even thought, he’d just acted. In one moment, the situation had gone from normal and somewhat boring to deadly.
It should have been a routine anomaly, an incursion of stegosaurid dinosaurs in an isolated rural area. It was as easy as they could hope for when multiple creatures were involved. Dacentrus were herbivorous and appeared mostly docile, but they were far from harmless; they came heavily armored with two long rows of sharp edged spikes running down back and tail. The longest spikes were half a meter in length; it would be deadly to be struck by them. For that reason, it was best to do the herding by use of the ARC pick-up truck. The team had been doing just that when a lone male had broken free of the herd. Connor and Abby split off to chase after it, and it had gone sour from there. They’d planned to just follow it with no attempts to engage, but the dino had other ideas. Something in the forest spooked the creature, and it went from plodding through the forest to a hairpin turnabout and an all out charge. His heart had nearly stopped when he saw Abby trip and fall. There wasn’t time to get her up and running again so he’d just gotten in between her and the creature.
In the past, Abby had accused him of having a frightening lack of self-preservation when other’s lives were on the line, but he’d never seen it that way. When someone was in danger, he just acted. He certainly wasn’t like those daft fools in films with an overgrown hero complex. It was true that he’d had some near misses, but it was the same as anyone would do, wasn’t it? He couldn’t just stand by and see someone be hurt. Besides, Abby was the same way, wasn’t she? Now if it was Abby in danger, she might be right. If it were her, he didn’t think at all. Couldn’t do. When he’d seen the creature turn on her, he’d thrown himself in front of her before his synapses had time to think to tell him it wasn’t his brightest moment. The large herbivores usually avoided conflict, and he’d hoped it would turn away; he really wasn’t suicidal. At the least, he could buy Abby some time to get away. It had turned away, just not in time. After that, things got sort of confusing.
“Abby? Why am I on the ground?”
She looked down at Connor, pale and sweating, his head lay in her lap. Connor was insanely brave, plain and simple, and she shouldn’t expect that he’d always manage to blunder through things without getting hurt every now and then. Not when he did the daft things he did all the time, like save her life. She’d thought she was going to die. The dinosaur had been charging, infuriated… and then there was Connor. When she’d seen him leap in front of the creature, she’d wanted to rage at him and pull him back. If he’d died saving her, she’d never forgive himself. When she’d seen the creature turn instead of trampling him, and then had reassured herself that Connor was still breathing, she’d wanted to hold him to her and never let go, whether she’d admit it or not. This time, it hadn’t been a close call or a near miss. This time he’d been hurt, and it was her fault. What if next time he died?
“You’re injured, Connor. You need to stay down. You’ve got to stay awake, okay? Help is coming.”
Connor nodded, then grimaced as fresh pain hammered at his skull. A beat later, he opened his eyes, “The Dacentrus?”
“Becker and Danny are rounding him up. They got the others through,” She smoothed his hair back off of his forehead, careful to avoid the gash on his temple, “Just don’t move your head, yeah?”
Connor gave her a weak grin, “I’ll do whatever… whatever… just keep doing that.”
He was really very handsome, especially when he smiled that crooked one-dimpled grin at her. And his body, well, that had been a bit of a surprise. They’d had to cut his shirt open to dress the cut on his ribs, and she couldn’t help but stare now that he was so close to her. Although he was still slender, he’d filled out… and he was well fit. A far cry from the bloke he’d been when they’d met that couldn’t do a proper pull-up. She supposed it was from all the time they spent in the field over the last two years, or perhaps from the fitness regimen that Becker had mandated for the team. She’d caught little glimpses of him as he went from shower to bedroom, or in his vest in the mornings, but she’d ignored the fact that taut muscle had replaced soft student mush just as she ignored everything else she’d rather not face, to include how Connor made her feel. Hard to ignore it when he was in her lap with half his kit off, blinking up at her blearily with those big dark brown eyes.
From the day they met, she’d seen him as somehow lesser, not as much a man. A silly boy that dodged the washing up and was late on rent and loved silly horror films and sci-fi, no matter how naff the effects. He’d grown up since then; the consequence of betrayal and personal tragedy and the weight of responsibility weighing heavily on him. He’d not let it embitter him, and that said more than anything else about the bright shining light of his spirit. Connor was a man, and he was a good man. She’d been blind to not see what was right in front of her. Now sat in the middle of an open field looking after an injured Connor, she found herself realizing how unfair she’d been to him.
“You have the softest hands, Abby. Nice hands, all four of ‘em. You have nice everything. Lovely eyes… your bum is incredible.”
Abby smiled and rolled her eyes, “Thank you.” Definitely a concussion. “I believe you’ll find I only have two hands, Connor.”
She smirked, and then lost it as she realized how long it had been since he’d said something like that to her. Oh, she knew he used to fancy her, and he still ogled her whenever he had a chance to, but he was young and male. That’s just what they did. It meant nothing. She’d gotten used to Connor chasing her, taken it for granted that he always would do, but what if… what if he got tired of waiting and she’d not even noticed? He’d moved on to Caroline fairly quickly… but when the mer-creature had taken her, he’d come after her despite the danger. She’d thought he’d died, then, too. The creature had struck him down; she’d watched as his limp body fell into the water tank. Beyond all hope, he’d survived, and come after her again through the anomaly.
He’d found her trapped on the beach, tried to pull her to safety up the cliff face, almost going over himself. If it hadn’t been for Cutter and Stephen, he would have. He’d refused to let go. Told her no, he’d not let go because... she’d sworn he’d told her it was because he loved her, but later on, he’d denied it. Denied it, and left with Caroline, that treacherous bitch. What if he was tired of her blowing hot and cold, and she’d already spoiled any chance they’d had? He’d be right to be done with her.
“Why ya looking at me like that?” Connor asked.
She’d sniped and rebuffed his clumsy advances, even to the point of acting as if the thought of being his girlfriend was disgusting when Caroline asked if they were together. She’d hurt him, time and time again so she’d not have to face the truth. She hadn’t wanted to see him for all that he was, because it scared the life out of her. He was the best friend she’d ever had. He was safe, and sweet, and definitely did not fit into the category of men she’d dated in the past. She had a horrible track record with men, and it had never ended well. She’d not want to ever lose what she had with Connor. She couldn’t bear it… but losing him scared her more. Losing him without ever telling him how she felt, well, that was worse still.
“You’ve not said anything like that to me in a long time,” Abby answered softly.
His brows drew together, “Like what?”
“Had to stop,” Connor blinked slowly, “M’ kinda sleepy.”
“You can’t sleep. Keep talking. Tell me why you had to stop.”
He made a face, “You are horrid to me, not letting me rest. And course I stopped. Bite me head off and then ask why I stopped sayin’ those things. I’m not daft. I know you don’t—“
Connor’s eyes drifted shut again.
Abby bit her lip, “Sorry.”
He didn’t reply.
“Connor! You can’t sleep.”
“Resting is all. Me head hurts, and I’m cold. Ribs hurt too. Dacentrus’ spikes are sharp, they are. Late Jurrasic, early stegosaurid.”
“Yeah, Connor. You said that already.”
“Can we go home? I’d like to go home now, please.”
She was getting worried. Although he was hurting before, he’d mostly been making sense. Help needed to arrive, and quickly. He needed an ambulance to the casualty department, not temporary field dressings. Connor’s thoughts were flitting around like a butterfly, jumping from subject to subject, and he was in pain… even though he was trying to not make a big fuss. She’d not missed the tight white lines of strain at the corners of his mouth or the tension in his voice.
Connor tried for a smile, his eyes unfocused, “I watch you sleep sometimes. You know, that’s why I’m always there so fast when you have nightmares. I like it when you let me sit on your bed. I like to pretend that we’re more than mates,” he confided, his speech slurring slightly, “And once I held your hand… remember? I always want to hold you, but you--” he gave another long, slow blink.
Abby swallowed hard, “I always wanted you to hold me. I was afraid, Connor. You’re my best mate, and—“
Connor’s brow furrowed, “Mate, yeah. Pals. I get it.” With effort, his eyes focused on her again, “I know what it’s like, you know. I have nightmares… hate the dark, closed spaces. Can’t ever go to you for mine. You think little enough of me already, yeah?”
He gave a short chuff of laughter, “Please Abby, I feel poorly enough, eh? Don’t tell me what you’re thinkin’. Let me dream whilst I’m on my deathbed?”
“Connor, you are not on your deathbed, and I’m trying to tell you—“
“I think I am,” he groaned. I don’t feel so good. I think I’m gonna be sick,” he rolled off her lap and made it a short distance on all fours before he was sick.
She’d been about to kiss him just to shut him up, but maybe she’d do best to just tell him after all. She wrapped her arm around his shoulders, murmuring comfort to him softly as he tried to wait out the tide of nausea. After a few moments, he was able to lie back down without worrying whether or not he was going to be sick on Abby.
“M’ sorry Abby.”
“Don’t be. Just relax and try not to move about too much,” she soothed.
“You’re not horrid. I didn’t mean it.”
“It’s okay. Sometimes I am. I never meant to hurt you.”
“What are you on about? Hurt me? Abby, you let me stay with you and you’re looking after me and you… wait… you want me to leave? Are you… are you saying I have to move out?
“What? No! Connor, would you just shut up for one minute?”
Confusion clouded his face, “M’ supposed to stay awake. Gotta talk.”
She pressed a finger to his lips, “I don’t want you to move out. I’m trying to tell you that I think a lot of you, Connor Temple.”
“What? I must’ve hit me head harder than I thought.”
She gave him a hard glare. This wasn’t easy for her, and he was making jokes.
He winced, “Just kiddin’ Abby,” he looked away, not meeting her gaze, “I think a whole lot of you. I wish you felt like I do. I wish you lo--” It was there in his mind, but he couldn’t untie his tongue. He wanted to tell her, and she was looking at him with that soft gentle look she usually reserved for injured creatures. Perhaps if he wasn’t so sleepy he could sort out how to make his mouth work properly, but he was having a hard time remembering what he’d said and what he’d only thought. He’d better shut up before he said something he couldn’t take back.
He gave a slow blink again and shifted uncomfortably, “Ow.”
“Easy, Connor,” she stroked his hair again, and bit her lip as she tried to work up the courage to ask the question she’d wanted to ask for ages. He had his eyes closed. That made it easier, somehow, “That day on the cliff… you did tell me you loved me, didn’t you?”
At her words, his dark chocolate brown eyes opened wide. His mouth opened and closed, but no sound came out.
“Connor…” She was rubbish at this. She may as well just spit it out, “I think--” The wail of a siren interrupted her train of thought, and then the moment was gone, “the ambulance is here.” She couldn’t say it.
“Stay with me, Abby?” he asked, his hand closing over hers.
“You’ll be fine. They’ll get you patched up quickly and you’ll be home soon.”
Connor looked up at her pleadingly, “Please?”
How could she say no when he was looking at her like that? She swore he must practice woebegone expressions in the mirror, “I’ll stay with you to hospital.”
He gave her a relieved smile, “Good. I hate hospitals, but will you…”
“I said I’ll stay.”
“Brilliant… but I didn’t mean that. I mean me. Stay with me? I mean, I know I said some things, and I can’t tell what I said out loud. To be honest, I’ll likely say more, but I’m not trying to. It just came out, and I’d not want you to toss me out just ‘cos I couldn’t keep me mouth shut. I can act as if I don’t love you or think about you, or—“ he squeezed his eyes shut, “God, it’s hard to think. Me head hurts.”
Abby’d heart pounded so hard she thought it might beat out of her chest, “You love me?”
Connor kept his eyes shut but nodded, “Yes. Always have done, I think. M’ sorry. Rather be your friend than nothin’, though. Sorry. I can’t help it.”
The ambulance was pulling up. She could drop this, ignore it, put it away and pretend he’d never said it. She could pretend that the curious sensation in her chest wasn’t her heart melting, or she could face her fear head on and tell him. She had to tell him. She owed it to him. She didn’t know how they’d make it work, or if he really understood what it meant to be involved with the likes of her, but she loved him and life was too short to deny it any longer.
“Connor, don’t be,” she heaved in a deep breath and exhaled, “I love you, too.”
Connor pressed the heel of his hand to his forehead, “Damn concussion. Mind’s playin’ tricks.”
Abby grasped his hand in hers again and planted a kiss on his palm, “I thought I’d lost you today. I can’t think of my life without you in it. I know I’ve treated you rubbish lately, but it scares me. You scare me. If it goes badly between us, I…”
Her heart fluttered and stalled at the grin he gave her, “Really? You’d be my girlfriend?”
She nodded, her throat too choked to speak.
“You’ll not say this was all my concussion hallucinations later, will ya? Promise?”
Abby winced and then smiled nervously, “I promise. We’ll talk this through properly when you’re all patched up, okay?”
He gave her a watery smile, “Okay,” he brought her hand to his mouth and kissed the top of it, “Okay.” Connor looked to the paramedics they’d sent in the ambulance. He must have been worse off then he thought if they were going to give him medical aid here before even getting him to hospital, but he couldn’t even make himself care. Abby said she wanted to be his girlfriend, and he felt as if he could fly, “Hey, guys? Is it all right if me girlfriend rides along?”
He glanced to Abby, ready for a quick denial, even now.
Abby bit her lip, “Please. I need to stay with him.”
She squeezed Connor’s hand and leaned close, “Don’t worry. I’m coming with you, one way or another. I won’t leave you alone.”
She wouldn’t. Not as long as he’d have her. When she said she’d not leave him, she’d meant it. Not ever. Connor was hers.
A/N: The prompt was “Concussed Connor (pre-relationship)... he's badly injured out in the field and Abby has to try to stop him from falling into unconsciousness by keeping him talking until medical help arrives. A few confessions are made on both sides.”
Hope you enjoyed, and please tell me if you did. Reviews are love and fuel the muse.