Pairing/Characters: Abby/Connor, Nick
Spoilers: Set just after Season 2, so there are some references to what happens
Disclaimer: Primeval and its characters belong to Impossible Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended. This is fanfiction, written solely for love of the show.
Author's Notes: Many thanks to lj user"temaris" for beta reading. The title was inspired by Robert Frost's poem 'The Freedom of the Moon'.
They don't normally go through the anomalies, her and Connor. She can understand why. The anomalies are unpredictable, too quick to close and strand them aeons in the past, with no way back. When you factor in the fossil record being too sparse, with too many gaps, there is the added complication of the unknown – predators large enough and dangerous enough to threaten them, even when the fossil record shows nothing of the sort.
It wouldn't exactly be the first time they've had to deal with that scenario.
So she can understand why Cutter is a little twitchy about it. With everything that's happened, they all are. They don't know who to trust, who not to trust, how far Helen's little game extended its nasty little fingers into the ARC. She's not even sure that she and Connor know everything that Cutter and Lester know and there are questions they just can't – won't – ask Cutter, not yet.
There are places he's going that they can't follow. Into his own head, mostly. So they're left to try and figure things out on their own, as much as they can.
At least she has Connor. That counts for a lot.
Lester's in the clear, she thinks. Being set up as food for Leek's pet monster gives him a hell of an alibi. But as for the rest…
It doesn't make for a comfortable atmosphere around the office. They've closed ranks, the three of them – her, Connor and Cutter. Not even Jenny can make her way in entirely. She wasn't there from the beginning, not like they were. There were four and now they're three and part of each of them, she thinks, wants to keep it that way.
It's safer. For all of them.
Jenny's pleasant enough and, like Lester, she's come through for them on enough occasions that they can usually trust her to do the rightish thing even if they don't quite trust her with their backs. Cutter doesn't seem to trust anyone with his back, not anymore. Except for her and for Connor. They're the only ones he lets in, even it's only partway. That's comforting and scary all at the same time, having that trust. It leaves Abby feeling something close to awe.
This is awe inspiring too, this place. Being able to follow Cutter through an anomaly, back to when the Earth was new. He's trusting them to watch his back and they're not going to let him down. There's no sign of anything dangerous but looks can be deceptive and she's not going to get distracted, not with so much at stake.
But it's difficult not to get distracted. The world – their world eventually – is new and shiny, more than she ever expected. The air is thin, a little low in oxygen but not dangerously so. It will change, she knows; the oxygen levels will rise until they hit a level that's even higher than it is in her – their – time and poison off the algal blooms that are turning the water vivid shades of green. At least, she thinks it's algae. She could be wrong. It could be… anything really. She'd ask Connor, because he'd know, but Connor's busy and it's not watching Cutter's back.
He's watching the moon.
She can't blame him. It's vast and beautiful, hanging low in the sky. It reflects so much light back from the sun that the whole world is aglow. It's almost as bright as day but the light is silver instead of golden, washing out everything around them except for the green of the deep ocean, and the moonlight casts dark, long shadows that leave everything feeling a little unreal. It's… she doesn't think she's ever seen anything as beautiful, unless it's Connor's enraptured face.
Connor watches the moon, and she watches him.
She stares at him for long that he finally catches her at it. Not at first, of course, because this is Connor and he does have a habit of taking time to notice the obvious. When he does notice, he smiles at her, just looking back, his head tilted a little to one side and eyes gleaming in the moonlight from under the mop of his hair and his ever present hat.
She ducks her head and smiles a little herself. She makes sure that her eyes are fixed on Cutter now rather than Connor, watching as Cutter busies himself at the water's edge. He's not venturing any further than that but she checks – triple checks – that the tranquiliser gun is in reach anyway.
There's another gun in reach as well, one that doesn't hold just tranquilisers. They're not taking any chances, not anymore.
When she glances back in his direction, Connor's still watching her silently. She doesn't look away this time but holds his gaze for a long moment. A soft smile curls at the corner of Connor's mouth again and the dimple grows in his cheek. She can't help but smile back.
Cutter's footsteps crunch up the pebbles – pebbles, not sand, because evolution hasn't reached the point of shelled animals yet, she thinks – and she wrenches her gaze back from Connor, squinting up at Cutter instead.
"You two okay?" Cutter asks, and it's Connor who answers him.
"Yeah, we're fine. You need us to do anything else?"
Cutter's face scrunches up for a minute in thought as he glances back at the glimmering anomaly behind them. She stares at him for a moment before she pulls the bottle of oxygen they've brought with them, just in case, towards her. She and Connor haven't needed it because they've just been sitting still, but Cutter hasn't and he's panting a little.
He takes it from her with a grateful smile but he looks back towards the anomaly as soon as he has it, pressing the mask firmly against his face as he takes in a deep breath. She has no idea what he's thinking – his face is in shadow, his back to the moon. She wonders if he's even noticed its majesty.
It leaves her cold inside, the idea that Cutter – Cutter who saw the beauty in everything – should be so blinded to it now. She shivers and Connor glances over at her, his face falling into a little confused frown. Before he can say anything, Cutter draws Connor's attention back to him.
"Any sign of the anomaly closing?"
"No." Connor stutters a little, his frown deepening. He pats the detector resting in his lap. "Soon as the magnetic field starts to weaken, we'll know."
Cutter looks at him – at them – for a long moment then nods once, curtly, his attention already elsewhere.
"Make sure you get those readings we talked about. The more we know about these things – from both sides – the more likely it is that we'll be able to predict them and maybe even figure out what is causing them."
He's preaching to the converted and if he stopped for a second to think about it he'd realise that. Abby doesn't call him on it, not this time. She suspects that whatever thoughts have been plaguing Cutter since… since they became three rather than four haven't been about the anomalies. Not directly. Helen's still out there and Stephen…
So she gets why Cutter's expression is grim when his face turns into the moonlight. He takes another deep breath from the canister and hands it back without a smile when he's finished. The empty look on his face sends another shiver through her. It catches Connor's attention again but she doesn't look at him until Cutter has already started to move away.
"You know…" Connor's voice is low even though there's no one but Cutter to hear him and she doesn't think Cutter will care. "If you're cold… we could huddle together for warmth…"
He sounds hopeful even though he's used that line on her before and it's not like he got very far with it the first time. She ducks her head to hide her grin. Trust Connor to make everything better.
She takes him up on his offer this time, sliding over until she's pressed up against his side, making sure that the guns are still within reach. She wraps her arms around her knees and, after a second, Connor's arm comes around her shoulders, pulling her in a little closer. He balances the detector on his knee, one hand still wrapped loosely around it, and when she glances up at him, he's looking back, his face still and serious.
Connor's been too serious too often recently. They both have.
"The moon's so bright," she murmurs, and Connor finally looks away, up into the night sky.
"Yeah," he says quietly. "It was closer then… now." He flashes her a grin and she gets what he means. It's difficult, figuring out how to talk about time when you're busy travelling through it. "A little closer, anyway. And there's no light pollution of course, so there's nothing to distract from it, except the stars." She smiles, staring up at constellations that aren't entirely familiar but are brilliant in the velvet darkness of the sky. It's so quiet when Connor pauses for a moment, nothing but the steady shush of the waves and the deeper sound of Connor breathing. She gives into temptation and leans into him a little more, resting her head in the hollow of his shoulder. He tenses for a second, surprised, and then his arm tightens fractionally around her as he continues. "In fact, the ozone layer might not even be up to scratch at this stage, so it's probably for the best we came at night, yeah? Don't really want that kind of sunburn."
No. Not really, even if it might be warmer during the day. She doesn't mind though. Connor's warm and it's comfortable sitting here, his arm around her and the scratchy fabric of his jacket against her cheek. Peaceful even and she needs that.
They all do.
There are only three of them now, although some days it feels like two and one. Her and Connor, and then Cutter, lost out there on his own.
Connor turns his head and his cheek brushes against her hair. For a second she thinks he might even have pressed a kiss there and she closes her eyes, just letting the thought of that chase away the lingering chill. When she opens them again, Cutter is several yards away down the beach in front of them, staring out at the ocean. He barely seems aware of them but this time all she feels is sad, not cold, not with Connor's warmth, right there next to her.
They can keep each other warm. It feels right, somehow, even here, under a younger moon and an ancient sky.
They'll be okay, just the two of them. At least until Cutter is ready to find his way back home.