Stephen drove Nick home after they returned through the anomaly from taking the raptors back to their own time. Nick couldn't help but covertly watch the younger man wondering just how different their relationship was in this time line. In his own world he and Stephen had started a romantic relationship not long after Helen's disappearance but now his lover wouldn't meet his eyes and flinced away from his touch.
They reaced the house and Nick asked if the younger man was coming in. There was a flicker of something unidentifiable in Stephen's eyes before he nodded and got out of the car. Stephen winced as he limped towards the house and moving to his side Nick wrapped an arm around his waist offering him support. Stephen subconsciously leant into his touch and he couldn't help but feel a spark of hope that perhaps their relationship in this time line was the same as in his own. Almost without thinking about it the younger man fished a set of keys from the pocket of his jeans and opened the door. Smiling slightly on realising that he was obviously close to the Stephen in this time line he entered and asked if the younger man wanted something to drink, walking through to the kitchen as he did so. Flopping onto the couch Stephen asked for some water. Getting the drink Nick made himself some coffee, watching as Stephen downed the pain killers he had been given for his injured ankle.
When Nick entered the living room with his coffee Stephen was holding a picture that had been on the table with a sad smile. Sitting by the younger man's side he looked at the picture and immediately recognised it. It had been taken on Stephen's twenty sixth birthday not long after the two men had got together and he couldn't help the smile that made its way across his face.
"H...how different was this world that you remember?" he barely remembered the younger man ever having sounding so insecure.
"I'm not sure," he admitted. "I mean I've got this same picture, there are small differences like that you had more bottles of juice in my fridge this morning."
Stephen chuckled although it sounded strained, "what about us? Were we still friends?"
"Oh," he hugged the younger man. "Of course we were."
"Just friends?" Stephen's voice hitched.
"No," he swallowed. "Not since before that picture was taken."
"Good," Stephen kissed him. "You have no idea how scared I was when you started talking about how things were different."
"I have an idea," he smiled. "I kept panicking that you and I weren't together."
"What about 'Claudia?'" Stephen had moulded against his side. "You seemed really upset she was gone, should I be worried."
He brushed across the younger man's brow, "we were just friends, although she did have a bit of a crush on me."
"But you liked me, right?" Stephen met his eyes.
"Of course," he cupped the younger man's cheek. "I loved you."
Stephen yawned slightly, "Love you too Nicky."
"Come on lets get you to bed," he helped the younger man stand.
"Is that a proposition?" Stephen hissed as he tried to put pressure on his injured foot. "'Cause I don't think I'll be up to much."
"Nah," Nick led him to the stairs. "You need to get some rest."
"'K," they reached the master bedroom. "Will you stay with me?"
"Sure," he settled the younger man on the bed.
Stephen began pulling his shirt over his head and Nick watched him, seeing subtle differences between his body and that of his alternative self. As he began removing his trousers the older man too began to strip, joining him on the bed. He curled up against the older man's side and Nick pulled the blankets over them holding him comfortingly.
Watching the younger man drift off to sleep in a familiar position Nick couldn't help but sigh. It was reassuring to know that at least something had remained the same, he didn't know how he would have coped if he hadn't had his lover by his side. As he joined Stephen in sleep he smiled, perhaps this world wasn't so different after all.