Connor blinked at her in shock, then took off down the hall, "Ryan?" he pushed open the door.
The room was empty.
"Ryan?" Connor stepped into the room, staring around, "Ryan? Oh no…" he took off down the hall, bouncing off the doorframe of Nick's office, "Have you seen Ryan?"
Nick shook his head. Stephen lifted his head from where he'd had it tucked into Nick's neck and shook his as well. Both looked at each other, then back at the wide eyed Connor.
"Why?" they asked apprehensively.
Connor just swore and took off again. He clattered down the stairs, barely daring to hope that perhaps Ryan was down here. Nick and Stephen exchanged another look, this one alarmed. Stephen slid off Nick's lap and stood up, Nick following suit, and both hurried after Connor.
Connor stopped dead in the middle of Anomaly's foyer and all but fell in a heap with relief, "Jesus Christ, Ryan…"
Ryan looked up from the foyer couch he was flopped on, "Oh… hello, Conn. Thought you'd be with Abby."
"I was," he said, sitting next to him on the couch, "But she knocked some sense into me," Connor frowned lightly, "You idiot, why not say something sooner if you didn't want me and Abby working so closely together."
Ryan shrugged, "It was good for Anomaly?" he offered.
Connor sighed and lightly thunked his head against Ryan's, "But not good for us. I'm sorry."
Ryan smirked wryly, his view filled with Connor's earnest brown eyes, still darkened around the edges with the smudged eyeliner that Abby had insisted 'added to the effect', "Just… warn me next time. Alright?"
"Not gonna be a next time," Connor shook his head, before resting it on Ryan's shoulder, "No, wait… hear me out. I don't think I could handle going from leather, to virgin, to home companion, all in one day. It would mess with me too much."
Ryan nodded, looking up as Stephen and Nick came hurrying down the stairs, "Fair enough…" he began, then frowned, "I wonder what's going on there?" he nodded to Nick and Stephen.
"Oh…" Connor blushed, looking a little shamefaced, "That might've been me."
Ryan raised an eyebrow down at him, "You?"
"I kinda… panicked?" at Ryan's confused look he continued, "When I went into our rooms and you weren't there. I panicked."
Ryan still looked confused, so Connor sighed and mumbled into his shoulder, "I thought you'd left me."
"Well you're stupid, aren't you?" Ryan leaned down and kissed him to take the sting out of his words, "I just wanted some Milk Buttons out of the vending machine," he wiggled the little bag of chocolate to illustrate his point.
"Since you called me stupid, you have to share," Connor arched an eyebrow at him.
"Suits me," Ryan grinned and popped a Milk Button into his own mouth before sliding one between Connor's lips as well.
Nick shook his head, leaning against the banister at the bottom of the stairs, "Crisis averted then, hmm?" he turned to look at Stephen, who rolled his eyes at Connor and Ryan and slid an arm around Nick's waist, allowing the older man to pull him back up the stairs.
They'd only made it halfway before Nick's prediction of 'crisis averted' was proved wrong. Abby smiled at them both as she walked down the stairs, wiggling her purse to show that she too was heading for the vending machines. Then, just as she was sidling past Stephen, she froze. Her darkly made up eyes widened, and she clutched at Stephen's arm.
"What the hell is she doing here?" she bit out.
Nick's shoulders slumped, "What the bloody hell can possibly go wrong now?"
As if answering his question, a throaty, strident voice rang out, "Hello Nick, Stephen… Did you miss me?"
Almost as one, Nick and Stephen cringed, "Fuck."
"Well, well…" Helen pretended to look around the foyer, "So the place hasn't been given the threat of foreclosure. I'm somewhat impressed, Nick."
She eyed Connor appreciatively in his leather, "And I do like what you've done with the 'standing fixtures'," she smirked.
"Get out, Helen," Ryan stood up, Connor with him, "Anomaly isn't yours anymore."
Helen let her eyes travel up Ryan's handsome body to his equally handsome face, "Your arse is still mine, Thomas Ryan, never forget that."
Ryan blanched, pressing back against Connor, who narrowed his eyes at her, "Back the fuck off, Helen. And get the fuck out. You burned your bridges with Nick."
Nick and Stephen had reached the bottom of the stairs by now. Abby stood by them, placing herself between Connor and Ryan, and Nick and Stephen. She narrowed her eyes at Helen, not saying anything. Helen raised a dark eyebrow back. She harrumphed in annoyed amusement and waved a hand at Abby.
"Is this your new fucktoy, Nick? I'm disappointed. She's a little…" Helen screwed up her face, "Well… I'm sure her personality is wonderful."
Abby took a step forward, fists clenching at her sides, but she was stopped by Connor's hand on her shoulder, "Did better than you then," she settled for a cold smirk, "At least I have a personality."
Helen all but bared her teeth at that, before turning to Nick and Stephen, standing too close together at the bottom of the stairs, "Well… you move fast, Nick. Did you even change the sheets before you fucked him in our bed?"
Nick stiffened, then snorted, relaxing into Stephen, "It stopped being our bed a long time ago, Helen. You had me sleep in Stephen's room more often than not," he grinned mirthlessly at her, "And for the record, the day you left, I bought a new mattress and new sheets so I could actually sleep in my bed again."
The smirk that crossed Stephen's face was positively evil, "Your mattress was thrown in the furnace," he put on a mock sad face, "Burnt your mattress like you burnt your bridges."
Helen took a step forward and hissed, "Fuck you, Stephen! I'm the one that pulled you off the streets. Are you forgetting that? I'm the one that kept you from peddling your arse for fat old men and paedophiles! You owe me! Your arse is all mine!"
Stephen's mirth faded and his eyes narrowed, "Not anymore."
He held a hand out and smirked coldly as the glaring receptionist pressed an Anomaly welcome list into his hand, "Now, Helen, if you want my arse…" he sauntered over and pressed the welcome list into her hand and forcibly closed her hand over it, "… you've gotta pay five hundred and fifty quid for the first hour, then three hundred and fifty quid for every hour after that."
He turned and strode back to Nick, wrapping both arms around his waist and leaning into him, "You don't like those prices, take yourself elsewhere. Oh… and Helen? I pick my own clients… so… you might wanna try being a bit nicer to me."
Helen snarled at them all, turned on her heel and stalked out.
Stephen blew her a kiss and grinned, "Ta ta, now, thanks for visiting Anomaly on 15th."