This is pretty damn slashy – past Connor/Stephen, past Connor/Nick and potential or current Connor/Becker, depending on your slash-tinted glasses. It's angsty, but hopefully sweet as well.
Spoilers for 3.4 and 2.7.
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Connor lay on top of the duvet, staring sightlessly at the ceiling. Dressed in only t-shirt and boxers, the cool air licked at his skin and made him shiver, but he was too deep in thought to notice, or perhaps to care.
The apartment was silent around him, nothing to disturb his memories, and he let himself yearn for what he had lost.
First – always, always first – came Stephen. They had been good together, so good, with the potential for even more. Connor had felt truly happy, for the first time in years, and had been on the edge, the very brink of the edge, of falling in love.
A cup of coffee was waved under his nose, and a gentle hand caressed his arm. Connor turned slightly and smiled up at the man beside him. "Hey."
"How's it going?"
Connor pulled a face, then grinned impishly. The work had been going badly, but his day had just improved after the arrival of his – lover? Boyfriend? Whatever Stephen counted as, whatever their 'not- quite- secret- but- lets- keep- it- quiet-ish- anyway' relationship counted as, it made him smile.
With a short laugh, Stephen tilted his head to one side. "That bad, huh?"
"Eh." He shoved himself away from the desk and spun his chair to face the taller man. "Missed you."
Another short laugh, then a slightly sappy smile. "It's only been a couple of hours."
"I know. Still missed you." Connor leant forwards and put out a hand to pull Steven in towards him. They kissed softly, smiling against each other, before Connor pulled away. "Oops. Forgot about work, sorry."
Stephen looked down briefly, then back up to meet Connor's eyes, something giving them a little extra shine. "Forget about work. We… shouldn't have to worry about what people think, if and when they find out. Maybe we should jump the gun."
Something clenched Connor's heart briefly, as the possible meaning of his words sank in.
The stricken look on his face clued Stephen in, and he shook his head, grabbing hold of Connor's hands. "No, that's not what I meant, I just thought maybe we should stop hiding. Tell people; our friends should know. Though I think Abby's guessed."
Connor's face, so pale a moment ago, suddenly flushed pink. "You… you mean it?"
The dark eyed man leant in towards him and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead. "I mean it."
Connor shut his eyes, which let the tears spill over and roll down his face, dripping onto the pillow. Stephen was gone, never coming back, and he'd never… never told him he loved him.
And Nick… Nick, who had comforted him after Stephen's death, and whom he had comforted in turn, and who had given him time, much needed time, before even hinting at something more. Nick, who he hadn't had chance to get to love yet, but who maybe, after a while, he could have done.
Nights curled up on the couch, Connor with his head in Nick's lap, the older man stroking his hair gently to lull him to sleep… No one else knew how gentle he could be, when the pressure was off and there was silence.
The smell of the spices from the Indian food filled the room; the music was subtle and romantic, just loud enough to be heard over the quiet murmur of conversation. Connor pushed the last grains of rice around his plate with the last piece of naan bread. Nick watched him affectionately as he popped it in his mouth, then licked the tip of one finger where the sauce had spread.
Looking up, Connor blushed self-consciously at Nick's expression. It was a little doting and a lot lustful, but the older man noticed his pink cheeks and grinned unrepentantly. "Sorry." He wasn't.
A last drop of sauce lingered on his thumb; Connor could easily have wiped it away on his napkin, but instead brought it to his mouth and slowly sucked at it, swiping his tongue roughly around the digit, keeping eye contact with Nick.
After a moment of silence, where he sat transfixed, Nick shook his head and groaned quietly. "You'll be the death of me." The Scottish burr sent tingles through Connor's body, and he suddenly found himself trying to think calming thoughts.
More silence, as Nick reached out and took his hand, moving his thumb over his knuckles in a way that soothed him even as it brought his feelings up to the surface.
The waiter arrived, discreetly, as he should do in a restaurant of that quality. "Desserts, sirs?"
Nick let go of Connor's hand as he glanced up at the man. "Uh…" A quick look at Connor's face told him all he needed to know. "No, just the bill. Please." He resisted the urge to add, quickly.
The quick grin on the younger man's face told him he had made the right choice.
Yes, Nick had been gentle and occasionally romantic, but both of them had been suffering and had needed the outlet that the odd bout of rough, fast sex had offered.
He and Stephen had never really been like that, it had almost always been gentle. He suspected that had something to do with how Stephen saw him as someone vulnerable, breakable – but he had proven that wrong, recently. It took more than he'd suffered recently to break him. The deaths of two of his lovers (because that's what they were, really – he had loved them, even if he hadn't been in love, at least the second time) had torn his heart to pieces, and yet it was still beating. He'd lasted more than a month now, nearly two, with the agony, and he hated it.
More tears, now, hot and burning as they tracked down his face. It wasn't fair. Every time he found someone he could fall in love with, he always got so close and then they were ripped away from him, leaving nothing but pain and sadness in their wake.
Curling up onto his side now, bringing his hands up to cover his face, Connor shook with the sobs that wrenched themselves from his body.
He didn't hear Abby close the front door, pause briefly to throw her coat and bag on the couch, and knock on his bedroom door.
The first he knew of her was when she lay down on the bed behind him and wrapped her arms around his chest, pulling him close as he wept, murmuring platitudes and promises in his ear.
Some time later, when Connor had stopped shaking and his breath had evened out, Abby pulled away, and he rolled over to face her, though he kept his eyes turned away. "Thought you had a date."
"I did. Didn't go well."
"Sorry." Sorry you had a bad date, sorry for being so pathetic, for not being able to help you with your grief, for falling apart again.
"Don't worry about it." And again, both knew she wasn't just talking about the failed date.
The next morning, Connor drank the coffee Abby made for him, and neither of them mentioned the night before.
They went in together, in the stupid Mini, parking it – as ever – too far from the front door to avoid being late.
In his lunch break – some time after four, but then he'd been busy – Connor left the ARC, choosing instead to buy food from a small bakery a few streets away, with enough of a park outside that he could sit on the grass to eat.
He hadn't long finished his sandwich before a tall, dark haired man approached him. "Captain Becker? Um… hi, I guess." There had been talk of an early morning false alarm – he was probably heading home after the early start.
With a graceful movement, Becker sat beside him. "Call me John." He held out one hand to shake, and it was only then that Connor noticed he had on a casual blue t-shirt, instead of the usual black one (which fit oh, so well, but which he couldn't notice because if he did he'd probably get shot).
Warily, the younger man shook his hand, feeling the callused fingers brush the sensitive skin of his wrist. A grin split the handsome face in front of him, and suddenly there was a takeaway cup of coffee in front of him. "Here. You look like you could do with something to wake you up."
"Thanks, but, uh, I'm fine, it's yours."
John shook his head, hazel eyes dancing. "I'm sure we can share. We're both adults, after all."
"… Thanks." Connor took a sip, smiling as he found it exactly how he liked it, and closing his eyes with a sigh as the caffeine began to hit.
As he watched the world rushing around him, people hurrying back and forth and rarely stopping, the man beside him spoke. He'd relaxed back onto the grass, pillowing his arms behind his head. "You, Connor Temple, are a bit of a legend around the ARC. And yet, you're still a mystery."
It took a moment for Connor to process the words, then he glanced down at Becker's handsome face; the man stared across the park, his eyes taking in everything. "Huh?"
"You… don't seem like much, and yet you've done such a lot."
Connor snorted inelegantly. "Thanks!"
Becker propped himself up on one elbow, his intense eyes making it difficult for Connor to meet his gaze. "That's not what I meant." He took a gulp of the coffee as Connor handed it back to him. "You built the anomaly detector. That's huge; I've not been here long but even I know that."
There was no trace of sarcasm in Connor's voice this time. "Thanks. It's not perfect, but…"
"But it's one hell of an achievement. And you did it." He paused for a second, as though considering his next words, and shifted his gaze across the park again. "People talk, you know. Not just about what you've achieved. There's a rumour that you and Professor Cutter were…"
Connor was abruptly standing, scowling down at Becker, who didn't move and just continued to sprawl lazily at his feet. "You have no right-"
"Connor. Sit down. I didn't mean to upset you." A large hand patted his ankle, then tugged at his trouser leg, and Connor obediently sat, though he wasn't quite sure why.
"All I meant was, I'm sorry you lost him. But, if you were together – and even if you weren't – it would probably have been easier for him at the end, with you there. It wouldn't have been so bad."
Connor bit his lip, blinking furiously at the darkening sky to stave off tears. After a few minutes, he glanced over at the Captain, who was clearly deep in his own thoughts. With a voice that cracked slightly as he spoke, he told him, "We were. Together, I mean. And there was someone before that, and he died too. I just… it's not fair. They… I…" He trailed off, unable to put his emotions into words.
"It gets better, kid." That intense gaze was back, and somehow had his eyes filling with tears again.
"But when? When Stephen… It took me a year. A year, and then I lost everything all over again."
A strong hand on his shoulder pulled him to the ground, and rested under his neck as they stared up at the sky.
"Let me tell you a story, Conn." Somehow, neither of them was shocked by the use of the diminutive. They weren't looking at each other now, but fingers stroked the side of Connor's neck. "It all happened… a long time ago, and it doesn't really matter where. Someone I worked with, he was shot and killed. I was there, I held him while he was dying.
"He told me he loved me. They were his dying words, and I had to lie to his wife, say they were meant for her. Since then, I figured I shouldn't waste time, not with the sort of job I have." He glanced over at Connor, who had his eyes shut, but his rapid heartbeat suggested he was still wide awake, "With the sort of job… we have." Connor's breathing sped up, but he didn't move.
They lay, motionless and silent under the evening sky, before Connor put one hand to his neck, entwining his fingers with Becker's. "I miss them. So much."
"Remember. It gets better."