Most biology classes did not offer its students the chance to interact with dinosaurs as part of the course. In fact, Thomas Barkley liked to think that his class was the first and probably only one that would ever do so. Of course, it did help that dinosaurs were no longer quite as extinct as they had been a few months before.
The story of Thomas Barkley and his dinosaurs (or so he always referred to them, and pesky legal issues of technical ownership be damned) really began the previous winter, when someone decided to put history through the spin cycle to see what came back out- and what came out, to Thomas's extreme surprise and joy, were dinosaurs. Oh, there were other things as well. Months later, people were still appearing and disappearing out of the time stream at random. Thomas didn't care much for that though. The only person he actually knew that had been time-napped was the grumpy old woman down the block that always used to let her dogs poop on his lawn. And besides. Dinosaurs.
The only time for Thomas had been actually getting close to them. It turned out you needed some serious connections to get any real dinosaur access. The news had crushed him- seeing actual living dinosaurs was something he would never have dreamed he'd get a chance at. And it turned out he still wouldn't, because he didn't have the right names to drop.
And that was when he heard about the Initiative.
No one knew who they were, how they had been funded, or what they were after. They had just appeared one day (although the word 'appeared' was slightly inaccurate. No one had yet seen any of the people behind the Initiative). They announced their grand plan- to develop a community, based out of that strange area of Illinois where more time travel had been reported than anywhere else. It would be a home to researchers of all kinds- historians, psychologists, physicists, biologists- anyone interested in uncovering information on why, exactly, history had suddenly become undone.
Or, in Barkley's case, interested in researching the dinosaurs that had come along for the ride. Thomas had applied as soon as he heard about the initiative and- after being officially hired- literally jumped on the first plane leaving for Chicago.
There were two distinct parts of the Initiative, formally labeled 'Research' and 'Community Outreach'. They quickly become known as A-Team and B-Team, monikers that stuck. A-Team made the important discoveries, the breakthroughs, the world shattering deductions. Or at least- as B-Team often pointed out- they were supposed to. So far, they had delivered very little, and had made basically no progress toward finding out how time travel worked. In response, A-Team typically pointed out that at least they weren't glorified high school teachers.
The local community hadn't been happy when they learned that a platoon of scientists would shortly be descending on them. So, to appease the complainers, B-Team was quickly assembled. They were based out of a local high school, right in the middle of the zone that had been wiped out by whatever had caused the time problems in the first place. There had been some kind of fight in the school that morning, a violent one. Bad enough that the students were sent home for the day, and nearly two thirds of them had already left the blast radius when whatever happened... happened, and thus were not taken out of time.
Which, Barkley had always thought, was lucky. 'We'll give back to the community by teaching all this cool new stuff we're discovering to your kids' would have gone badly if there were, in fact, no kids left.
Barkley was on B-Team. Normal people would have cared. He just wanted to work with dinosaurs, something he was able to do every weekend in a specially built compound two blocks from the school. And anyway, he liked kids. Mostly. Even if he did have a hard time figuring out. And even if they did occasionally smell like a farm.
There was one particular group that really puzzled him. Four boys and one girl- they kept to themselves, but there was something about them that just seemed off.
Desmond was (possibly) the most normal of the group. Thomas had sometimes wondered why he spent time with such weird friends, but then seventeen was a weird age. And there was something strange about him- it was just harder to see. But it was there, if you took the time to look. The way he never quite relaxed- occasionally seemed to lose track of where he was- sometimes didn't respond when spoken to.
Ezio, on the other hand, always seemed to have something to say. The problem was getting him to be quiet. Barkley knew that teaching high school meant getting used to nobody paying attention to him, but Ezio was an extreme case. Barkley just stuck him in the back and got on teaching as best he could.
And anyway, Ezio's incessant, cheerful chattering was still better than Connor's eternal moodiness. The third member of the group was notable mainly for the way he always seemed to be in a dark mood- emphasis on 'seemed'. His friends never seemed to make too much of Connor's Glowers, and around them, Connor did seem more relaxed. Even the constant grating between him and Ezio was mostly good natured. Probably.
The only girl in the group was Lucy. Maybe that was the only reason she seemed out of place, but Barkley thought there was more. It was there in the way the others looked at her. It was there in the way they never seemed to quite trust her. There was something she'd done in the past- Barkley had no idea what it was, and didn't much care- but it was keeping her at a distance from the others.
And finally, there was Altair, who Thomas thought scarcely fit in at all. He wasn't local, but Barkley had never quite figured out where he came from. Unlike Ezio (who was blatantly and proudly Italian), Altair was more reticent on his past. He kept quiet about most things, actually, and it wasn't just his English. Barkley knew it wasn't his first language, but Barkley knew he was more than capable of making himself understood. So it wasn't that he couldn't speak, it was just that he was fairly... stoic, Thomas supposed might be the best word. He knew many of the other teachers mistook that stoicism for a lack of intelligence, and tended to ignore him. Tellingly, however, Altair was the one the rest of the group looked to for advice. He wasn't exactly their leader- there were too many strong personalities in the group for that- but all of them seemed to respect him. And that was rare enough among teenagers to be notable.
For a while, Thomas was curious. About who his five strangest students were, where they had come from, what had drawn them together as friends. But the feeling faded quickly. There were more important concerns. Like dinosaurs. These days, Thomas was mostly content to let the group do as they pleased. But there were exceptions, and late in the second month of classes, on the day Thomas had scheduled his students to take a field trip up to the dinosaur pen, he couldn't help worry that they might somehow make trouble. Not that they were particularly known as troublemakers.
Meaning, of course, that they were never caught...
So, a few notes about this story I want to get out of the way right away.
1) If you don't like confusing time travel shenanigans, you will probably not like most of this. Most of this story can probably best be described as Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey. (I will try to make that the last Doctor Who reference of this fic, but no promises)
2) I'm not completely sure where this story is going (I actually have no idea), but one of the things I'm thinking about doing means that I'm ignoring the fact that Desmond is descended from Altair/Ezio/Connor through separate bloodlines. I sort of hinted at this in Second Chances, when Connor got put in the animus, but I just thought I'd get that out of the way because it's potentially going to come up in a major way at some point.
3) Apologies for this chapter being all dull and short and from the the POV of a random OC that will most likely never get a chapter again. I really don't know where Thomas Barkley came from. I was just going to write a quick paragraph about this random dino loving teacher but then this happened.