Author's Notes: I'm sorry Connor, I keep being so mean to you. But seriously, I know Gillette struggled with its marketed to raptors, but you're not in the Cretaceous anymore. It shall to the barbers with that scraggly beard!
Disclaimer: I DON'T OWN!
Enough is Enough
"Oh, Abby!" Jess stumbled to a stop, her eyes wide, the supermarket plastic bags in her hands rustling loudly, 'I didn't wake you up when I left earlier did I?"
Abby shook her head, smiled reassuringly at the surprised girl as she put the bags on the table in front of them, but she didn't say anything further. While the girl was friendly, and she was good enough to give both of them a place to stay, even though she didn't even know them... she still didn't want to explain to her why it was she had been awake. Abby had always been against letting others into her world, or rather, now "their" world – hers' and Connors. And they had, after all, only just met her a few days ago. She felt uncomfortable telling her anything about why she was sitting on the window sill of their shared room a few hours before the brunette woke up, got ready and left over half an hour ago.
Yes, she was tired – of course she was. She had a year of frightened, often sleepless nights to catch up on, now there wasn't actually anything constantly trying to eat them. But old habits die hard. From the very beginning, all that time ago, she had the morning watch shift. Connor had always been better at staying up late than waking up early, and she didn't mind. Soon it had become natural to them both. Every night, they did this, and it was for their own safety. Often, creatures had come sniffling around their camp. Some were quite innocent. Others were... decidedly not. Safe or not, it was difficult to get back into the habit of sleeping right through the night.
But that wasn't the only thing. A year getting comfortable sleeping on the hard, uneven, dirt floor with only her foil blanket made it difficult now to sleep on the comfortable bed they had been provided with. The duvet, once comforting, was now suffocating. It was heavy, too warm and stifling. The soft cushioning of the mattress felt wrong. The new clothes that Becker had given them both – simple vests and trousers from the soldiers' reserves – felt strange. The clothes they had been wearing all that time had become perfect fits, the material softened to their skin, but these felt scratchy. She felt better when she was watching the city, looking for danger that simply wasn't there anymore, thinking her own thoughts and listening to Connor's gentle breathing.
"Um, well, anyway," Jess continued, her voice still somewhat uncertain, "I'm glad I caught you. I went out to get both of you both some stuff."
"...Stuff...?" Abby said with a deadpan, eyebrow raised as she spread butter on her toast.
Food was another problem. All that time surviving on just a sparse, coarse diet left their stomachs unused to modern, easy food. They had spent all that time, hungry, carefully rationing everything they hunted and salvaged. Now that they finally had a world of food choices, and they couldn't stomach much more than a little of anything. Poor Connor found that out the hard way...
"You know," Jess said, pulling things out of one of the bags – cosmetics, a hair brush and bobbles, shampoo and conditioner, razors, soap, a toothbrush and paste, and some sanitary items, though modesty made her put them back in as soon as she had shown them, "Stuff."
Abby dropped her toast back on the plate, standing up "Jess... you shouldn't have! This must have cost you a-"
"Hey! I'm not gonna hear anything about it!," Jess beamed at her, pulling at the belt around her coat and taking it off, "You're my guests, and I hate to think of you being uncomfortable. I wanted to get you some new clothes as well, but I didn't know your sizes, or what you'd like style wise. I thought we could go tonight, or the weekend, or... whenever..." she grinned, shrugging, hardly seeming to have paused for breath, "I wanted to put all this in the bathroom for you before you woke up..." She twisted her lips apologetically at the anti-climax, "Surprise..."
"Ahh, don't worry about it, it's still a surprise. And Connor still doesn't know, so the surprise won't be lost on him."
"Ooh! I got him some stuff too! I didn't think he would want to smell like my mango shampoo. I'm not used to buying for guys, so I just got some basics."
Abby took the bags from her, still amazed. She felt somewhat uncomfortable taking charity from anyone, let alone when they were not exactly short of cash in the first place. She had never liked it when she was younger, when she and her brother struggled to look after each other. But she knew that Jess wasn't thinking that way; this was just Jess being... well, Jess. Friendly to a fault, and just trying to make them feel at home. She couldn't turn the girl's generosity down because it made her feel uncomfortable. "Thank you. Really, you shouldn't have gone to the trouble."
"Ah pa pa!" The girl interrupted, waving a hand to knock away her comments, "Really, it was my pleasure. I would have only spoiled myself with the money anyway, and if I get any more shoes, I'll have to get another wardrobe, and I hate having to try and work out Ikea instruction manuals," she smiled cheerily, walking past her flatmate to get to the fridge , "And I was thinking, I'm not bad at hair. I could give you a trim, if you want, you know, before you get a chance to get it done properly. I mean, I've seen your file photo; you used to have it so short, and I wouldn't trust myself doing anything that big, but I could get rid of the ends and do something with it for you? Just for now," She noticed Abby studying her, and seemed to panic for a moment, "I mean, not that it looks bad now! It looks good long, you suit it, just, you know, I thought you liked it short and I just thought I could help-"
Abby realised that she had been looking at Jess while she was thinking, and that the girl had misread it, quickly jumping to reassure her, "No, it's fine Jess," She grinned, "I've kinda gotten used to it long, if I'm honest. But a trim would be great, so long as you don't mind. I'm not bothered either way, really, just so long as I get the bits of Cretaceous out of it."
"Great," Jess said, relaxing again, and nodding, "I'll do it tonight. We haven't really got time before work, if you and Connor haven't showered yet," she stuck her head back into the fridge, rooting around for something.
"Right, yeah, I'll go and get sleeping beauty out of bed." With that, she started walking away, peeking into the bag of Connor's "Stuff" as she went. Pausing mid step, she turned back around, a brilliant grin on her face.
"Oh, and Jess?" The brunette leaned back out of the fridge, a teaspoon sticking out of her mouth and a pot of yoghurt in hand. Grabbing the spoon out of her mouth, she made a questioning noise, "Don't ever let anyone tell you you're anything but awesome."
Without another word, wearing a bright smile, and a skip in her step, Abby walked towards the room she and Connor were sharing, both their bags in hand, leaving a bemused Jess to her breakfast.
Just as she approached the door, it opened inwards, the white-painted wood replaced with a half-groggy, half-disgruntled Connor Temple, staring blearily at her. They blinked at each other for a moment, both as surprised as the other. His mouth was set in a worried grimace, and she was about to ask him what was wrong, before he pulled her into a tight hug. Pressing her close against the warmth of his bare chest, one hand cradling her head, the other around her back, pressing his face into her hair.
"Ooft!" Abby said indelicately, surprised by the sudden affection, wishing she could hug him back. Stupid bags in the way... "Morning to you too!"
"For crying out loud Abby," he said, voice stricken and muffled, his warm breath ticking her scalp, "would you stop buggering off when I'm sleeping? You're gonna gimme an ulcer."
She let him hold her close, comfortable in his embrace. This... this was what had kept her sane, back then in that far away time. Finally throwing off the insecurities, the pride, and just letting go. Letting him in. With all that time, laid out in front of her, with only herself and a man that she could no longer deny she loved, she realised that... she couldn't run. And that she didn't want to any more. They had to rely on one another just to survive, and that brought them closer than she would have let them be if they had carried on as they were. She was far too used to self reliance, to staying within her own world, keeping everyone else out, and her emotions in.
But Connor wasn't everyone else.
Neither would he ever be again.
They didn't get enough time like this. They couldn't thank Jess enough for letting them stay, but it was indescribably awkward. After it just been them for so long, to suddenly be living the same space as someone who was so curious, so talkative, so keen to be close to them made them both a little uneasy. Even Connor, who was usually friendly with anyone and everyone that he met – he couldn't find a fault in anyone. He even had trouble, at the beginning, seeing ill of Helen Cutter. He had always believed that if Cutter had been in love with her, she must have had some redeeming feature. But as sweet as this girl was, she was the person that took his job; she took over the running of the ADD, his machine, his job, and made his place at the ARC -at least at the beginning – obsolete. It rankled with him ever so slightly, and the uneasiness in her presence was palpable.
Work at the ARC seemed to be constantly keeping them separate, both before and after Connor was reinstated. Philip kept calling him away to do odds and sods here and there with tech stuff, while Abby went out in the field.
So, just for a few moments, she forgot about everything else. She forgot that any second, Jess could come and interrupt, or that they didn't have long before they had to be at the ARC, trying to fit once more into the team that they had once been so integral to. That now they were spare parts in a world they didn't know anymore. For once in so long... too long, she just let go, standing in his arms, letting him worry about her. Letting him comfort her. Letting him be her Connor, and she be his Abby, as if they were in a fairy tale, and this was all that they needed to worry about; the feeling of each other's warmth. As if all the other troubles of their complex lives could be repelled for as long as they were together.
For a few moments, Abby let go, closing her eyes. She nuzzled closer to him and sighing contentedly, letting herself relax in his hold.
Connor pulled back slightly, smiling at her in that way he often did – heartbreakingly honest, every emotion written in his features; panic dissipating, reassurance, adoration. Studying her for a second, his eyes dipping down to her lips and back again, before ducking his head to capture her lips with his own; soft and caring, worried and loving all at once. The type of kiss that every girl dreamed of.
Well... it would have been. If not for the fact it was insufferably itchy.
Swapping both bags to one hand, Abby reached a hand to the back of his neck. Holding him close, then tracing it around his jaw, twirling a tuft of hair from his chin around her finger. For a second he smirked against her lips, and when she pulled away to look at him, he gave her a grin, thinking that she was finally showing a liking for his facial hair.
Unfortunately for him, he completely mistook the situation.
Turning abruptly on the spot Abby tugged on the hairs painfully, dragging a very scared looking Connor by the chin in the direction of the bathroom. Stumbling along behind her, Connor yelped "Ow! Abby, what are you- Ow! - What are you- Ow! Lemme go! Ow!"
A short time later, Abby came out of the bathroom, leaving Connor to his shower with a victorious look on her face. The blonde seated herself contentedly at the counter, picking at her now cold toast. Jess looked at her curiously, though Abby didn't give any reason for her proud expression. Jess, not wanting to impose on the woman, didn't question, though she did wonder.
Not long after, Connor wandered in, towel wrapped around his waist. Jess let out a surprised "Meep" to find him clean-shaven, and suddenly looked at least five years younger. When Abby left for her own shower, their flat mate was still gushing about how she had assumed that the file photo must have been taken forever ago, and wow you look so different, and other such squealings.
All Abby could think, as she closed the door to the now steamy bathroom, was how now she would be able to kiss the man she loved... without that Bloody Beard.