Abby hummed to herself quietly as she dressed in her bedroom. It was obvious to everyone and his dog that Connor had had a not-so-secret crush on her since the day they'd met, but that wasn't what had put her in a good mood tonight as she spent just a little more time than usual on her make up.
Nope, tonight she was in a good mood because she'd recently discovered she fancied him back. And really, what was more fun than a secret crush on a cute guy that you knew returned the feelings?
Of course, it'd been just over a year ago that they'd met and, until now, she'd ignored every advance he'd tried to make. Connor'd right given up on her, but Abby saw the way he still stared after her sometimes when he thought she wasn't looking. He still liked her.
Not like, she corrected her thoughts, love. Connor had memorised every little thing about her. He often knew what she needed, be it a hug, a cup of tea, or a few hours of alone time, before she even did. And last night, he'd known that she needed a good laugh so, even though it'd been his turn to pick the movie, he'd come home with a romantic comedy that she knew he'd hated just because he wanted to see her smile. Funny how among everything else he'd done for her over the years, it was that one little gesture that'd triggered the sudden realisation that she loved him back.
She hadn't said anything then. She'd wanted to make sure she wasn't just overtired and thinking crazy-like. But now a good twenty-four hours had passed and the more she'd thought about it, the more sure she'd become. She wiped off the lipstick she'd just applied and then tried a different lighter shade, wanting to look perfect for their first proper date.
Finally she stepped back from the mirror and turned slowly to view herself at all angles. Not bad, she thought critically. She wasn't entirely sure her look was as perfect as she'd wanted, but it was probably just herself being cynical and it was as good as she was going to get. Connor thought she was beautiful when she wore combat boots and ragged sweatshirts, so she was sure he'd think it was perfect anyway. She wore a black cocktail dress that fell to her knees in a flare and was accented with sapphire coloured rhinestones in the shape of a flower on the left side of the skirt and an indigo sash around the waist. Her shoes were also indigo and she had a silver and sapphire necklace around her neck and was carrying a blue clutch that was slightly lighter than the sapphire but the closest she could find to matching the outfit in her closet. She grinned at her reflection and blew herself a kiss through the mirror for good luck, before heading out of the room to inform the as-of-yet clueless Connor that they were going out.
Connor was sitting on the sofa playing video games when he heard the door to Abby's room open. He glanced at her quickly and then turned back to the telly, only to drop the remote a moment later and do a second take.
"Abby?" he stammered, "Wow!"
Abby grinned and plopped herself down beside him. "That's a good reaction then, I take it."
"Yeah," Connor breathed and then overcame his sudden speechlessness. "Abby, you look fantastic! Are you going out?"
"Maybe. Or we could just stay in and do something romantic here."
"R-romantic?" Connor squeaked, wondering who "we" was and thinking that if Abby was doing something romantic with someone in the flat, he'd probably better call Duncan and ask for a room for the night.
Abby giggled at his reaction, "Yes, romantic. You don't really think I'd get all dolled up for a night of this?" she gestured towards his electronic systems.
Connor shook his head and wondered whether or not he'd get fired if he threw the guy through the next Silurian-era'd anomaly.
"So?" Abby prodded gently when he didn't say anything.
Connor looked at her, puzzled. She was waiting expectantly for him to answer her, he could see that, but he couldn't for the life of him figure out what the question was. He racked his brain for a few moments before giving up and sighing. "So what?"
"Con-nor!" Abby whined, though in reality she was amused by his confusion. "Snap out of it and pay attention. Which will it be? Do you want to go out, or do something romantic here?"
She saw Connor's eyes widen with shock as he realised what she was asking. "Y-you mean this involves m-me?" he stuttered.
Abby rolled her eyes, "No, Doofus, I want a romantic night to myself. I think I'll go out for a candlelight dinner for two and eat both meals."
Connor stared at her, "Is that an option?"
"What, me going out by myself?"
"No, the romantic candlelight dinner thing for two. Not by yourself, I meant me. Not by myself either obviously. But you and I, like a proper date? Can we do that?"
Abby nodded, "Of course it's an option."
"Like a real, proper, I-can-hold-your-hand-and-tell-the-waiter-we're-together type date?"
"Sure, if you'd like that."
Connor leapt to his feet, "Of course I want to go out, Abs. Much better than staying in. This way I can show you off to other people! Let's go then!"
He grabbed her hand excitedly, trying to pull her toward the door before she changed her mind, but Abby planted her feet firmly into the ground and didn't budge. "Connor! We aren't going anywhere until you at least put some trousers on!"
Connor guiltily glanced down at his boxers and then blushed, "Right, good call actually. I should go do that. Trousers. Where's me trousers?"
Abby saw that he wasn't quite concentrating and grabbed his shoulders, spinning him until he faced the stairs. "Upstairs in the loft, probably, with the rest of your clothes. Go on, go get dressed. I'll wait."
Connor was trying to hurry and get ready, really he was. He knew it was impolite to leave his date waiting downstairs for so long, but he wanted to look perfect and he didn't know what perfect was. He'd gone for the casual look at first, but when he pictured himself next to the gorgeous Abby, he knew that he'd look atrocious and the last thing he wanted to do was to embarrass her.
After that he tried on a suit. It was probably more appropriate for a romantic candlelit dinner, though he was hardly the expert on that, but the more he studied his reflection in the mirror, the more he hated the look. He looked like a stressed-out, serious, no-nonsense business man in the suit and it just wasn't him. Quite frankly, he hated it.
He'd gone even posher with the next look, pulling an old tux out of his closet, complete with tails and a cummerbund. He actually liked the look on him much more than the suit, but he couldn't help but to think he was overdoing it. He wondered if he was over-evaluating everything.
He knew it was just meant to be a fun night out. Abby had been in the mood for a romantic date and he'd been the only one available to take her. It was the only possible scenario that made sense to him. But, she had said it was a proper date and the way Connor saw it, if you went on a proper date and the night went well enough, there was always the option for a second date. Of course you had to be just as perfect on the second date if you wanted a third date and if the third date was successful then maybe, just maybe, you could be considered as "dating". It was probably the furthest thing from Abby's mind, but if he could just prove himself worthy then maybe…
"Connor! Where are you!" Abby's shout from downstairs interrupted his thoughts.
"Coming, Abs!" Connor promised quickly, "but I am having troubles on finding an outfit."
A moment later he heard her footsteps coming up the stairs. "Well let's see what you've got them," he heard her say and he spun around as she entered.
He wasn't sure what the laughter in her eyes meant when she saw him standing there awkwardly in his tux. "Is it too posh?" he asked her nervously.
Abby nodded, "A little bit, yeah, but you do look mighty handsome, Connor Temple. Let's just take a look at what else you've got."
"The suit was rubbish," Connor said quickly. "I won't put it on again."
"Alright then, but maybe we can make the tux look a bit less I-serve-dinner-in-Buckingham-Palace. Why don't you keep the jacket and trousers, but get rid of the cummerbund and bowtie and try a dress shirt with a few less ruffles? Maybe a different colour than white?"
Connor nodded and let Abby ransack his closet and order him around until he dressed in a way that suited her. The shirt she chose was a deep red and after some contemplation she'd gotten him to put a short black tie on as well. "Well," Connor asked, "how do I look?"
"Smashing," she smiled, "Now, can we go out?"
It'd been a long time since either of them had been out on a proper date, and Abby realised they'd both made a very big rookie mistake in not calling to make reservations anywhere. They'd tried eight different posh looking restaurants before they finally found one that could accommodate them on short notice during the dinner hour and even so it wasn't quite as nice a place as Abby'd been hoping for. For one thing, she noted sadly, there weren't any candles.
"But the roses are pretty, Abs," Connor pointed out when she brought up her disappointment in the electrically lit booth. "Anyway, it's probably for the best. I remember this one time on Christmas we were playing charades at me Gran's and the power went out so we used candles. I can't remember what I was acting out, but I do remember knocking over the candle stand and burning down half her living room."
Abby giggled, "So that's why you never want to play that game."
"Trust me, Abs, I've broken many an item when I get carried away with me acting. Charades and me have had it out now, we're just a really bad mix."
"Good to know," she laughed, "are there any other party games I should make sure you never play?"
Connor nodded, "I don't get along great with Twister either, but it's okay if I'm the one spinning the wheel. Truth or Dare is okay, as long as it's all Truth and no Dare and I can play Pin the Tail on the Donkey as long as…"
"As long as there's tape instead of real pins," Abby finished with a chuckle. "Okay, I see the trend and you're right, the roses probably are a better choice for our romantic dinner date than the candles would've been."
Connor felt himself get a bit flustered at the fact that she was still calling it a romantic date but he wasn't about to ruin that idea so he suddenly waved the serving girl over and asked about getting a bottle of champagne. Then he glanced at Abby to see if that was right and she nodded her approval. Unfortunately they'd been lucky enough to even get seats at the restaurant and the only champagne left was way out of either of their price ranges, so Abby ordered some red wine instead and Connor, who really didn't like red wine, settled on a glass of raspberry juice in a really posh wine glass so he could still make a toast with Abby. He wondered if she'd be embarrassed by his choice in beverage, but if so, she didn't show it.
Just in case, when the drinks came, he looked at her sheepishly and apologized. "Abby, I'm sorry I don't like red wine."
Abby looked at him in disbelief. "Why on earth are you sorry about that?"
He shrugged, "I don't want you thinking I'm unsophisticated or anything."
Abby chuckled, "Connor, I live with you. Just because we're in different surroundings at the moment doesn't mean I've forgotten who you are. Besides, the last time I did something like this the guy did like red wine. In fact, he liked it so much that he'd had three full bottles by the time dessert rolled around. I'd just as prefer you did drink raspberry juice after that."
Connor smiled, "Good, at least I won't be your worst date ever then."
"Don't jinx yourself," Abby joked, "but so far you've been the best."
Connor's face registered his shock but he quickly masked it, "Really?"
"Sure, but I knew you would be. Still, it's early on so do try not to ruin that eh?"
Connor nodded and lifted his glass hesitantly, "We should make that toast, Abs. To our first proper date?"
Abby caught the way his voice wavered a bit on the word "first" and knew that his use of the word was intentional, but she didn't let on that she caught the implication of possible future dates as she nodded and clinked her glass against his.
After they'd toasted, someone came and took their orders. Connor got the veal parmesan and Abby ordered a lemon salmon. They were eating silently, but the silence was not awkward, Connor found. Rather it was the same comfortable silence that they often shared when watching the telly together. They were simply enjoying their meals and the others company without words.
That is until Abby broke it suddenly. "Stephen?"
Connor frowned, "I'm Connor, Abs."
Abby rolled her eyes at him, "No, I mean Stephen is here."
Connor turned around, following her gaze across the room to where the hostess was checking his name off from a reservation list while Stephen and a woman Connor didn't recognize watched.
"Do you think that's Jane with him?" Connor asked.
"Jungle Girl from the Amazon."
"Oh," Abby giggled, "You mean Allison. I dunno, might be. You never know with Stephen though, he's probably got a whole crew of girlfriends."
"Yeah," Connor nodded, "What if he sees us, Abs? Maybe we should leave."
He looked worried and Abby reached across the table for his hand. Connor glanced in surprise, but squeezed hers in return. "Connor, you know I'm over him, right? I'd much rather be here with you than him, so let's not let him ruin our night, okay?"
"Okay," Connor agreed, "but…" he'd known Abby was over Stephen, it wasn't what was worrying him, but before he could voice what really bothered him, they'd been spotted.
Stephen grinned and waved as he dragged his date over to their table. "Wow, look at you two!" he laughed. "Fancy seeing you here. You look great, Abs."
"Thanks," Abby replied.
"Oi! What about me?" Connor asked in mock offence.
"Meh," Stephen laughed, "You're alright. Guys, this is Allison. Allison these are my coworkers, Abby and Connor. Don't let their ruse fool you; they aren't nearly as sophisticated as they look at the moment."
Abby chuckled at Stephen's teasing. "Actually, what you see here," she gestured at herself and Connor, "is the real Connor and Abby. That stuff at work is all just acting. Connor and I really are very sophisticated people, aren't we Con?"
"Indeed we are," Connor said in poshest accent.
"And that's why Connor's got his tie sitting in his wine?" Stephen asked with a raised eyebrow.
Connor blushed as he hastily removed it and crossed his fingers that Abby wouldn't tell Stephen it was actually juice, but he was more concerned about the impression he was making on Abby than on Stephen. Abby giggled and kept her mouth shut about the choice of beverage as she said, "Okay, fine, you caught us, but look out behind you, yeah? Our waiter is trying to get our water refills through."
Stephen turned around and stepped back onto Allison's foot, causing her to stumble into the waiter and to Connor's horror, Abby's water suddenly came flying down onto his veal parmesan and splashing all over his shirt. Abby and Stephen started to crack up but Connor was miserable and he could see that Allison, who had gotten water all over her dress, wasn't thrilled either.
"Oi, Connor!" Stephen said, "You are a magnet for trouble aren't you?"
"That wasn't me!" Connor protested, his face red with embarrassment. Abby stopped laughing and came round to his side of the booth, sliding in beside him to help him get dried off.
"Yes, that was all you," she agreed with a glance at Stephen. "It's what you get for calling us unsophisticated. Hmmph." Connor could tell she was still just teasing Stephen, but he felt a little better that at least she was on his side.
Stephen reached over and grabbed a napkin from their table to help Allison clean up as the waiter took the spoiled plate of veal parmesan from in front of Connor and hurried away apologizing and promising to him some more. Stephen glanced at the now empty booth seat where Abby had been sitting a moment ago and turned to Allison. "Maybe we should join them? Make it a double date?"
Connor groaned. This was not the first date with Abby that he'd planned. However, to his delight, both the girls shook their heads quickly.
"Another time, Stephen," Abby said quickly. "Connor and I had a special night planned, just us."
"And remember," Allison said softly, speaking for the first time that evening, "I said I wanted to talk to you about something."
"Oh, right, talking," Stephen muttered, making a pained grimace at Connor. "That's always fun." He turned back to Allison and smiled sweetly at her, "Meet me at the table? I'll be right there."
She nodded and left and Stephen slid into the empty booth seat across from his coworkers. "So?"
They both stared back at him, puzzled. "So what?" Abby asked.
"I'm not blind, Guys," Stephen laughed, gesturing at them and the table. "Obviously this is a date. Hats off to you, Connor for finally getting up the nerve to ask her out, but what's the story? This your first?"
Connor blushed and hoped that Abby didn't tell him that she'd actually demanded they have a date tonight. It was exactly what he'd been afraid of when Stephen had first stepped into the restaurant though: Abby would be embarrassed that she'd agreed to go out with him and deny the fact that it was a date again. Either that or she'd confirm that it was a one-time only deal.
Instead she just shrugged with a secretive smile, "Stephen isn't your date waiting?"
"So talk quickly."
Abby rolled her eyes, "Yes, okay, it's a date and you're interrupting. If you want to know about it, ask tomorrow so we can get on with it please?"
"Right, sorry," Stephen grinned. "Wait until Cutter hears about this one."
He went to stand and Abby suddenly reached for his arm, holding him back a moment. "Stephen, wait."
"Lemme guess, you don't want me to tell? Don't want anyone to know you're going out with the dweeb?"
"Hey!" Connor cried out.
"Teasing, Mate," Stephen chuckled.
"I don't really mind who knows," Abby said with a laugh. "Tell the others what you want unless Connor minds. I just didn't want you to get up just yet."
"Excuse me," the waiter interrupted, "our apologies for earlier and here's your meal," He placed the veal on the table before disappearing again.
Abby turned to Stephen and grinned, "Saw him starting to make his way over and was worried you'd make us loose a second dinner if you weren't sitting still. You can go now."
"Ha ha, very funny," Stephen rolled his eyes with a laugh as he stood up. "See you two love birds tomorrow."
Abby and Connor both gave him a wave and Abby moved back to her spot across from Connor.
"What do you think Allison wants to talk to him about?" Connor asked as he took a bite of his veal parmesan, happy to get back to their date and trying not to look overly thrilled that Abby hadn't denied their date.
"How should I know?" Abby laughed.
"Well, I kinda hope she dumps him."
"Connor! Be nice. Stephen's a pal."
"Sure, to us, but don't you think Allison deserves better. She seemed like such a sweet quiet girl. You know he'll cheat on her. He asked you out didn't he?"
"He was delusional at the time, Con."
"He was also flirting with Valerie and when I confronted him on it he sorta ran Allison down. And don't forget the whole Helen thing, Abs. Trust me, Stephen doesn't care about her and he doesn't think cheating is that big a deal. If he hasn't already, I bet he does."
"Hmmm," Abby murmured. "Think we should warn her? I mean, Stephen'd be mad, he is our friend and all, but… you're right, I do feel bad for her."
Connor shrugged, "Maybe she knows. She did want to talk with him. Let's see how things play out and maybe we should talk to Stephen first. We can give him the whole You-tell-her-or-we-will type speech and make him feel guilty, yeah?"
"Yeah," Abby nodded, her gaze wandering over to their table, but she couldn't see enough to see if it looked like a break up or not, so she smiled at Connor. "But forget them, Con. This is our night, yeah? Didn't I say I was in the mood for romance? That doesn't include mulling over Stephen's so-called love life, you know."
"Right," Connor agreed. "Did you mean what you said?"
"When you told Stephen you didn't care who knew we went on a date."
"Of course, Con. Why would I?" Suddenly she realised and reached for his hand, "Oh Con, you know he was teasing right? I've no reason to be embarrassed by you, and you're not a dweeb."
Connor shrugged a bit, confirming that it was exactly what he'd been thinking.
"Connor, listen, I'm proud to be seen with you. You're brilliant! All that stuff at the ARC, no one else could've thought up those inventions, and it's not just that, I'd be dead by now several times over if not for you. You're like my hero, Con!"
Connor was ready to laugh at that word when he suddenly caught the intensity in her gaze and gulped nervously. "Hero? Me?"
"Of course. So quite worriting about what people think, yeah?"
"You're my hero too, Abs," Connor told her seriously.
She smiled, "Then we're meant to be together, don't you think?"
"How do you mean," Connor asked, looking surprised and hopeful, "how do you mean together?"
Abby giggled because it was the same expression he'd made when she'd first said she wanted to go out with him tonight. "Together, Con, like the opposite of apart."
The answer puzzled him but he didn't want to ruin anything by asking again. Instead he gave a fake chuckle back and enjoyed the fact that they were holding hands across the table again. He took a deep breath and questioned, "So, Abs, how'm I doing so far? Is it still your best date? Even though I dipped me tie in juice?"
Abby laughed, "'Course it is, Con. It's with you, ain't it?"
Connor gulped and nodded nervously, wondering if he was going to wake up soon, but it was enough to make him take a deep breath and ask, "Abby, do you… do you reckon tonight was good enough to merit a second date, sometime?"
Abby laughed, "Well, tonight's not over yet, Connor. But I think a second date is a good idea. Anyway, we sorta promised Stephen a double date at some point too, didn't we? If they stay together that is."
"We did," Connor nodded, a grin spreading across his face, "but that should be more like a fourth or fifth date, don't you think?"
"Probably," she smiled back at him. Then she turned serious for a moment, "Connor, we're gonna make this work, right? I mean us dating when we're living together and working together. You don't think it's too much "us"?"
Connor shook his head vehemently. "Never! Abs, you said yourself we belong together. Anyways, like you say, we live together and work together, so we already are together, yeah? It's not more, it's just different. A good different. We'll still have movie nights, but we'll cuddle when we watch them. And we'll still eat dinner, but sometimes we'll have flowers and maybe even candles if you don't let me too close and we can still carpool to work, but maybe we hold hands when we walk in and maybe instead of just saying goodnight, we kiss goodnight…" he trailed off, wondering if he was going too far, but hoping beyond hope that it would all sound as good to her as it did to him. After all, somehow or another, it'd been Abby who'd just used the word "dating" first.
Abby bit her lip and nodded through her smile, "Yeah, that doesn't sound too weird or crazy. I can handle that."
"Yeah." Abby smiled at him, looking deep into his eyes.
"Is it okay that I think I love you?"
Abby nodded, her smile widening, "Yeah, it's okay. Maybe I even think I love you too."
Connor grinned and was about to make a comment on how this was possibly the best day of his life, but before he could open his mouth, she surprised him again by standing suddenly and sliding in beside him on his side of the booth. "Connor, kiss me."
Connor did so, hesitantly and nervously, but when she kissed him back the nerves vaporised and he let her deepen the kiss.
The broke apart only when Stephen's wolf whistle sounded beside them.