P is for perseverance. P is for prolific. P is for Primeval!
Blah blah DON'T OWN, blah blah HUMOROUS SPEECH, blah blah y'all know the drill!
It was strange how someone who was in perpetual motion while they worked could turn into a shuffling zombie when the word housework was mentioned.
It was strange how someone who appeared to cultivate "designer" (his words, no one else's) stubble could have such a soft face.
It was strange how you could meet a person and find them repellently annoying, then wake one morning to the realisation you couldn't wait to hear their cheery voice.
It was strange how some men made three clashing colours work as an ensemble.
It was strange how a body could fit into the routine of being both disaster and genius at the same time – a lesser lifeform would burst.
It was strange how sometimes he acted like an alien, then turned around and did such human, humane things.
It was strange that his gawky, adolescent-awkward body held a strange grace at times. When his fingers fled across keyboards with precision and speed; when his knee bounced, unable to contain his nervous energy... When a fluid movement pulled her into his warm embrace.
"... What are you staring at? Abby? Anyone home?"
"Mm?" Abby jerked, and the world came back into focus. "Sorry Connor, think I was sleeping with my eyes open again."
Connor raised an eyebrow. "Riiiight. You know you're kind of a weirdo when you're sleep deprived?"
Abby blushed and hung her head, faking humiliation to hide the very real embarrassment she felt at suddenly being caught staring – drooling – at her best friend.
"S'okay," he replied cheerfully, "Makes me feel at home to know even you are capable of being socially awkward!" Momentarily, his grin u-turned into a frown. "Seriously though Abby, try and rest. We've been here for hours, you must be exhausted. I know I am."
"I know," Abby said, her voice husky and hoarse as it always was when she needed to sleep, "It's just I can't drop off in this place. I can't disassociate it with work and anomalies and red alerts!"
Connor had already turned back to the control centre, and was unsuccessfully attempting to type on three keyboards at once, while timing something on his pocket-watch.
"If I can just rig this right, and override the protocols we'll be out of here... Why hasn't man evolved to have four hands? Sorry Abby, I wish I could help more, but I swear if I don't break the quarantine I'm gonna have a really pissed of Lester on my hands."
"You're right. Sorry, I'll get lost for a bit."
Abby heard, rather than saw him turn a moment later, watching her walk away. She could see his face in her mind's eye, a little stricken at the thought that he'd been tactless, said the wrong thing, upset her. She pictured him struggling to frame the right words. She heard him sigh, and turn around again.
He had saved her life tonight. Again. There would be no more heroism from Connor – when his mind was technology bound, there was no reaching him.
Abby drifted from room to room of the ARC, simply following where her feet took her. She was aimless, her thoughts had no progression – tiny worms of conscious thought occasionally swept past, before being replaced by others.
Suddenly, an odd wall of green block her path. It was textured, woven. Abby reached out and touched the wall with the tips of her fingers. It was a hardy cloth, rough-textured but somehow soft. Abby looked up to see how far the wall reached and jumped as the piercing blue eyes of Nick Cutter looked down on her quizzically.
"Abby," the Professor smiled and gently detached her hands from his tweed jacket, "You need to get some sleep girl, you're practically catatonic with exhaustion."
"Catatonic? Yeah, that's not good is it?"
"No love, it's not good. Here, lie down in there." Cutter led Abby gently into his lab and set her down on his couch. The warm jacket settled on her shoulders a moment later – the small part of Abby's brain which was still switched on whispered, Remember to thank him for this later... When you've stopped being a bloody fool!
Abby thought she heard Cutter mutter something like " What the hell is Connor playing at?"
"Mmm, protocols. Trying to break quaran-" a massive yawn separated the word before she could finish it "-tine. Lester. Big trouble".
Cutter sighed heavily, and that was the last thing Abby heard before unconsciousness claimed her.
Her dreams were bright and vibrant, and the colour of fairytales. When she woke she instinctively knew she had only slept a few hours, yet she felt refreshed. The first thing she saw was Connor, still tapping away at the keyboard.
Wait. Wasn't he in the control room working on the main console?
"What are you doing here, Con?"
Connor gave a little jump at the sound of her voice, "You're awake! Um, hi. Sleep well?"
"Yeeeeeeeeaahh," Abby elongated the word as it became a stretch and yawn, "But you still haven't explained what you're doing."
"Oh this? I rigged the main ADD console so that the software channelled through Cutter's computer, then with the use of another trapdoor..." Connor tailed off at the sight of Abby's blank expression, "Well, basically I patched into the main system so I could work from here."
"I, uh, spoke to Cutter. He said you were tired, and kind of ill, so I thought I should come in. Just keep an eye on you, make sure you didn't... Um, have bad dreams or something."
Abby smiled. "That's really sweet". She felt her eyes beginning to tear up, and felt a little shocked. Strange how someone who's just a friend can cause me such strong emotion... Abby's head was beginning to hurt. She didn't know how she felt about Connor Temple. Abby Maitland did not like being out of control. But then Connor grinned at her, warmth in his brown eyes and she decided that being undecided didn't matter. She just loved being around him. He was Connor, and she was Abby, and for now that was all that counted.
"Abby?" Connor said, "Listen earlier, I was gonna say something..."
"Oh yeah," she giggled, "But your fly was down, right?"
"Yeah. Cringe-factor! Then again, so's saying "cringe-factor", I'll steer clear of that catchphrase, in future!"
"Con, do you notice when you ramble, or does it just come naturally?"
"Yeah. Sorry. Anyway, earlier, what I was trying to say was... Well I'd really like to... Tell you-"
Cutter's computer made a bleep, and Connor's whole body jerked towards it, like the technology (and the thought of Lester) controlled him like a puppet.
"Am I in? Oh, say I'm in!" The computer made another sound, this time a clang. Then another clang. His face fell. "That's not right. That's not... No. No! Nonononono! Oh hell, Abby it's just wiped two hours of work!" Connor's fingers flew across the keyboard, as he tried to regain the lost ground, but his expression told her it was useless.
"This isn't just an error. It's not protecting the protocols, it's not any kind of firewall... Abby, I haven't designed this! This is coming from somewhere else. Someone in the ARC's reprogramming our system!"
The overhead sirens began to flash red, and the on the screen the words Security Breach flashed brightly. Technicians and soldiers ran about, in what looked to Abby like random panic. Cutter appeared at the door of the lab, his face ashen with shock.
"Helen's escaped. God knows how, but she's loose in the ARC somewhere."
"She's rifling through my programming! I dunno whether to be insulted or impressed! I've spent months working on that stuff, I thought nothing-"
"Connor!" Cutter shouted "Now's not the time for your technogeekery, we have to find Helen."
Abby swallowed convulsively, as she looked out of Cutter's lab window. She raised a finger and pointed, "Found her."
In the main control room stood Helen Cutter, her mad eyes triumphantly staring round the ARC. And behind her, stood a flickering, decidedly open anomaly. The panic and sirens slowed around Abby, as she watched the mad woman. The night threw yet another unanswerable enigma in her face.
Strange, Abby thought, How she always seems to get her way.