Disclaimer: I don't own Primeval or its characters…
Author's note: Perhaps not sweet enough to be fluff, but just as pointless… Emily/Matt. Team awkwardness.
Timeframe: Er… doesn't fit anywhere particularly well, but sometime while Emily is living at Matt's flat, after 4x06...
How did these people carry on at all?
The place was utter chaos. Well, organized chaos of a sort, she supposed. Emily stood stock still. She'd never entirely lost her wits before. Not even that first time she found herself stood before the most horrifying living nightmare she had ever beheld. This...this chaos, however, had rendered her completely incapable of action.
It was not so much the loud klaxon or the cacophony of voices and equipment being efficiently packed away that had struck her inert. It was most decidedly the focused people bustling about tasks that had obviously developed into routine. And she had no assistance to render whatsoever in the melee of preparation. Feeling useless was that which she detested most.
Her eyes were inevitably drawn to the enigmatic man whom had insinuated himself into the center of her life. No. Untrue. Her life -lives perhaps was the better term- were over a hundred years in the past and some indeterminate eons spread sporadically throughout time. And it was her responsibility to return to that life. Her mere presence could already have disrupted this time beyond repair. At the very least, this time had already disrupted her, perhaps beyond repair.
And at the precise center of it all, her life in this place, resided that confounding man.
Matt Anderson briskly, confidently traversed the floor, navigating about various otherwise-engrossed persons with an astonishing ease. Good lord, his air of confidence bordered upon the arrogant. If it weren't for the terrible conflict she discovered in his eyes, the endearing sweetness and humour that he couldn't wholly obscure from the world, she would've classified him as the worst kind. Yet, contrary to the facade -doubtless adorned as a means in which to distance individuals potentially called friends- she was drawn to him.
He made his way towards the workspace that looked like it was the mad dream of a disturbed genius, leaning over the shoulder of the girl sitting at the heart of the contraption. Jess expressed herself with a definite clarity and elocution that nearly bespoke a finishing school of the highest caliber, yet there was no doubt in Emily's mind that the proximity of the pair was a necessity to communicate through the din that filled the room.
Honestly, Emily hadn't the faintest notion of how or even what the young woman did. She had overheard Becker once offering as explanation to a blatant newcomer that 'Jess is our Chloe O'Brien... if Jack Bauer's terrorists were dinosaurs and Chloe had the personality of the girl next door.'
The analogy had made absolutely no sense whatsoever to Emily. What little she was able to glean through further observation held no real revelations, either. As far as she could ascertain, Jess somehow compiled all relevant information and guided her friends in the field (with technology Emily still found herself incapable of comprehending). All she knew was that they never had to go into a situation completely blind. Emily could see the benefit of that without understanding the method.
The information Jess had to impart today was obviously less than satisfactory, for Matt frowned. Well, he did so in as profound a display of emotion as generally was his custom. Which was to say that his brow furrowed slightly and there was a small downturn at the corner of his mouth.
Emily smiled to recall the rare occasion that saw the entire abandon of his reserve. How warm, how expressive a person lay beneath the unflappable, cold exterior when he was given reprieve -if only momentarily- from whatever burden bound him.
"What?" Emily exclaimed, jumping slightly as Abby reached past her. She hadn't even noticed the young blonde approach, hadn't heard her words.
"Can I get by?" She reiterated. "I just need that tranq set over there."
"Oh, sorry, Abby," she apologized, realizing that the woman was after some piece of kit lying on the table behind Emily.
When had she leaned her back against the table?
She must have automatically extricated herself from the main course of traffic. But apparently she was still hindering the gateway chasers' preparations.
She shifted, allowing Abby access to the instruments laid across the glass table top. The young woman gave her a grateful look of acknowledgement before tossing the strange item into the pack she was sorting.
And then she looked at Emily again.
"You've got something on your neck," Abby observed, her eyes narrowing slightly with scrutiny.
"Where?" Emily asked, confused. She couldn't recall any reason why she'd have something on her neck.
"This side. Nearer your collar bone," Abby clarified.
Running her fingertips over the skin, Emily found it to be smooth, absent any foreign substance. Thus she answered Abby's studious gaze with one of consternation.
Then Connor Temple interrupted their odd exchange. Unlike his mindful counterpart, he simply squeezed bodily between the two women, reaching across to pluck some sort of one of those computer devices.
"Ladies," he said as way of begging their pardon after he was already wedged between them. He glanced at Abby, then to Emily. One of those genial grins was plastered on his face, the kind Emily had come to discern as the 'I know I've just made a social misstep but I didn't intend to insult' Connor affectation.
And then he said, "Bit of something on your neck there, Em."
What in the Good Lord's name was it? What was so profoundly apparent to the world but had failed to capture her notice?
Connor leaned in unacceptably close by any standards -futuristic society or not!- and squinted in acute study as Abby had done before him. All this scrutiny was beginning to make Emily feel as if she were some sort of scientific specimen. She backed away from the pair nearly a yard before she felt her personal space had been adequately restored.
"Can anyone tell me precisely what the nature of this horrible disfigurement is?" she asked, trying not to sound desperate and annoyed at the awkward attention of which she was the current recipient.
"It appears to be a love bite," Captain Becker announced dryly. A soldier to the core, they none of them had detected his approach.
Oh my! Matt hadn't! The connotation was clear to her, even if the terminology was not. Emily could feel the heat rising in her skin. Desperately she searched the faces of the others in order to determine their reaction.
Despite the flat delivery of the observation, Becker had quirked one eyebrow and the corner of his mouth was curved ever so slightly by a smile. Abby's eyes had widened with realization. But Connor appeared to be lagging behind the curve.
"Who wou-hmmph!" Connor's inquiry was truncated by Abby's impressive reflexes, namely a small elbow to his midsection.
"Anomaly," Becker reminded the distracted pair before determinedly walking off. Apparently, the soldier had garnered enough diversion from her situation. Abby grabbed her pack and gave Connor a pointed look. The young man's expression was one composed of curiosity, embarrassment and much relief for the excuse to depart.
"Erm.. Right," he said, shouldering his own pack before the pair bolted after the soldier. Emily had never seen someone make a strategic withdrawal quite so quickly.
Were her cheeks as flushed as they felt?
Was her shame really that obvious?
The embarrassment was thankfully fleeting, quickly transforming into a humour of an entirely different sort as she laid eyes upon its cause, whom had retired from Jess' side and fast approached her.
That insufferable man!
"Coming?" Matt asked, all gentility and innocence. Oh! The masks he wore! But she could see directly through them. It was that faintest twinkle in his eye and the beginnings of a mischievous smile barely visible in his lips that presently gave him away.
She glared at him.
It made her feel a little less furious.
She should've known better, really. The attentions he had paid to her neck persisted far too long to have resulted from simple innocuous affection. He should've mentioned something about the mark he had left on her skin as they hurriedly dressed and dashed out the door, summoned by the emergence of another gateway. There was no possibility that he was not aware that she was not aware. And after all the insistence on his part that no one know of the nature of their intimacy! He had not encouraged her to hide the 'love bite'. He hadn't even warned her of its existence.
Playing with the collar of his shirt that she currently adorned, she tried to cover the mark, all the while sending every hateful thought in her head at him. Why place it in such a visible location when there had been so many other options? Maybe he hadn't been thinking, caught up in the moment. No. No, she could tell by the not quite hidden look on his face that it had been purposefully done. Not unlike an animal marking his territory, he had placed a blatant display of affection upon her. She had encountered his possessive streak before, but thought she had made it abundantly clear how she felt about such an attitude. And he had submitted to being in the wrong upon the subject.
Stoicism appeared to be his tactic of choice. For presently, he just stood before her, taking all of her fury with a slightly amused nonchalance, which should've made her more angry but for some reason did not. Studying the man for whom she could not deny possessing a significant affection, Emily had to admit that it would not be entirely disagreeable to leave her own mark on him -something that announced her connection to him without having to shout it to the world.
However, he could have been a bit more subtle how he went about it…
Apparently, Matt recognized her weakening resolve, for he smiled and winked at her.
"Shall we?" he asked, motioning for her to proceed first.
Emily sighed and accepted his invitation. She didn't even object when his hand came to rest upon the small of her back. Perhaps it was because she found the warmth and implied support of it so utterly enjoyable.
Contrary to what she had feared, it did not feel like a submission, that which characterized her 19th century relationships. Rather, the 'love bite' said she possessed someone's affection. Not that she was possessed by them.
In that sense, Emily could live with being a marked woman.
A/N: Finding I'm rather stuck on the potential of these two characters… This was going to be a oneshot, but Matt's POV on this situation has started to bubble. We'll see…