|The ReturnAfter a Fashion
Author: SageK PM
Some familiar faces appear through the anomaly.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Friendship - Stephen H. - Chapters: 5 - Words: 6,968 - Reviews: 24 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 22 - Updated: 05-12-09 - Published: 04-23-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5014267
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Though medical had cleared Stephen, Tom and Katie, the trio was restricted to the ARC until Jenny finished figuring out how to resurrect them. Nick had popped into her office earlier to inquire about progress on that front, but had quickly backed out the door when the PR wizard nailed him with a glare that could melt titanium. Apparently, her task was not an easy one.
Even Lester was in a better mood than she was. He informed Nick that the plan was to say Stephen had been in a sort of witness protection program and his death had been faked to provide him a measure of security. Ryan was a bit easier, as they were going with a covert mission that had required more than the usual level of secrecy.
Katie, again, proved problematic. Her body had never been recovered, just a large portion of blood and her father refused to believe his only daughter was dead. Thus, she had never actually been declared dead. The current plan was to say she had suffered traumatic memory loss after the rebel attack and had been living with natives in the rainforest since then, until another British expedition came across her and jogged her memory. They'd do some research, assure that the her of this world had similar enough life experiences to what she had lived, then Katie would be reunited with her family.
After speaking with Lester, Nick made his way out to where Connor was showing Stephen and the others the upgrades he had been making to the Anomaly Detection Device. The young man was speaking rapidly and they looked interested, if confused, in what he was saying. Abby had her arm looped through Stephen's, as if afraid he was going to disappear at any moment. Captain Becker and Danny were trading measuring looks with Captain Ryan, who seemed torn between attempting to stare them down, listening to Connor and stealing bits chocolate from the large bar Katie had found somewhere and was currently making a mess of herself with. The girl didn't seem to be able to get food into her mouth without wearing it as well.
Leaning closer to the ADD, Stephen said, "Well, it's clear you lot are a good bit ahead of us in the tech department."
"Not to mention this place," Ryan said. "The ARC we left was still half built. For the most part we were still working out of the Home Office."
"And the University," Katie added, giving the tech set up a long look. "Wonder if we've all dealt with the same anomalies?"
Connor looked up, obviously intrigued by that question. "Oh, good question! We should figure out what's different in out timelines. You know, besides the whole you three being alive thing…and you had Claudia, not Jenny, right?"
"Yeah," Stephen said, glancing in the general direction of Jenny's office. "A bit weird, that."
With the hand not gripping Stephen, Abby reached out and tapped a monitor, bringing up some data. "Okay, let's see…I'm assuming you three know Rex. Have you encountered…"
"Start with the big differences," Cutter said, approaching the group. "Captain Ryan, the trip to the Permian to send the Future Predators back to the future, that was where I saw you die. The female creature caught up with us and attacked, killing the other soldiers and mortally wounding you, Ryan. Then a gorgonopsid attacked the creature and takes off after it makes a kill."
"You worked out that the skeleton we found the first time we visited the Permian was your own, then died. Helen said that none of the creature's young had survived, and we buried the dead then return through the anomaly. That was when she so kindly revealed the affair and then there was the whole Claudia/Jenny thing…what was different for you three?"
"Well, Stephen and Katie were with us in the Permian, for a start," Ryan said ruefully, giving the woman a playful push. "And as usual, someone was in possession of some distinctly non-regulation firepower."
Cutter eyed the woman, then looked at Stephen, "I would have thought you to be the gun aficionado out of the pair of you."
Ryan snorted. "They enable each other. Anyhow, one of my men was taken down before chocolate-face here hauled out a .50 Caliber Sniper Rifle, which, honestly, she never should have had in her possession, but now we use with great efficacy in such situations. We neutralized the little critters when we realized they weren't going to lead us to any anomaly, then returned to our time."
"There was no Claudia/Jenny thing then, but the…revelation was the same," Stephen added quietly, not looking at Nick, who saw how Katie moved in close to her friend, silently offering support. The young woman tossed Nick such a glare that he wondered how badly his counterpart had reacted to news of the affair. It wasn't the first time he'd had such a thought, but he dreaded what might be revealed if he actually asked.
"All right, so the fact that Ryan lived is a big difference. Also, there is no Katie in our history to have been around with a scary big gun," Connor said, then looked at her. "When did you join the project?"
She shrugged. "Been here since day one. Stephen rang me about the strange animal sighting by the Forest of Dean and asked me to come along."
"And you said I died in Leek's cage room," Stephen said, raising his eyes to meet Nick's. "I hit you about a half second before the cavalry arrived. Never had to go in. We just razed the room…OW!"
Katie had reached up an pinched his earlobe. Hard. "Just a reminder not to go haring off on your own again."
Scowling, Stephen pulled a napkin out of his pocket and swiped the chocolate from his ear. "I've explained that a hundred times," he groused, grabbing her wrists and vigorously scrubbing the remnants of the sweet from hands.
Ryan was eyeing them indulgently and said, "Still, why on Earth did you believe that woman? And taking off without us to exact vengeance…not your finest hour."
"You knew she was outraged that you were avoiding her attempts to influence you away from N…us," Katie said grumpily as Stephen looked her over then tilted her chin to the side and licked the corner of the napkin in his hand. "Are you seriously trying to spit clean me!!"
"No," he said quickly, crumpling the napkin in his fist. "Look, I know it was bad judgment, but…."
"But nothing," Ryan interrupted, giving the younger man a hearty slap on the back. "From now on just accept the fact that, if the she-beast manages to tack you down again, anything Helen Cutter tells you is a lie meant to manipulate you into doing something that benefits her. End of lesson."
"And if you forget this lesson we reserve the right to hide snakes in places you will find them when you least expect to, or where they will freak you out the most," Katie added then grinned. "Remember the snake in the toilet in Brazil?"
The scowl Stephen sent her was good natured. "Why must you continue to torture me about that?"
Abby giggled and Connor let out a little laugh. Nick smiled and said, "Well, if you reacted as you did to the one in your sleeping bag during our trek in Ecuador, there is plenty of fodder for teasing."
It was said gently and Stephen actually grinned when he met Nick's eyes. "I seem to recall someone else reacting unhappily as well," he replied in a tone that clearly said he was attempting to hold on to his dignity, but knew it wasn't going to happen.
Cutter snorted. "Aye, but I wasn't the one hitting glass shattering octaves."
Again there was a round of laughter and Abby shook her head. "Men," she sighed. "Gorgonopsid--No worries. Little snake--The world is ending."
"I think it's the slithering," Connor said. "Snakes are sneaky. Come up behind you and BAM! Bite you. Most of the creatures we chase aren't that big on stealth."
They pondered that for a moment, before Danny broke in to the conversation, asking, "So who wants what takeaway for lunch?"
Reviews Please! Sorry for the late update. I had a bad encounter with boiling water and am contending with a badly burnt left arm and hand, so my typing is quite slow. I'm still writing though!