Pairing: Nick / Ryan
Word Count: 1,700
Summary: "Come on, let’s have a look around. And everyone keep an eye out for rogue squirrels with bad language."
No one was entirely sure what had happened. The anomaly had opened early that morning and, so far, nothing had come through except for one small bird. The little blue bird had circled around for a while, twittering happily, before going back of its own accord. It appeared safe and, from looking at the bird, a fairly recent time period beyond the anomaly. As Ryan wasn’t there to stop them, Nick suggested that they ‘take a peek’. Purely for research purposes, he said, with Connor adding his own enthusiastic vote for Nick’s suggestion.
That had been six hours ago, and now, four rather shell-shocked people returned. Well, almost four.
“It was that woman, I’m sure of it,” Connor said. “I’m telling you, it was a curse.”
As much as they wanted to object, to point out that magic didn’t exist, the bundle of clothes that Claudia was carrying was proof to the contrary. From the depths of Nick’s green canvas coat, held carefully in her arms, there was a miserable-sounding,
Claudia shifted the folds of the coat to look down at the frog sitting there, staring back at her.
“It’ll be fine; we’ll think of something.”
“How are we going to explain this to Lester?” Abby wondered aloud.
“How are you going to explain what to me?”
The three humans jumped, the frog taking the wise decision to retreat further into the coat, out of sight.
(Four hours earlier)
Nick looked around as he stepped through the anomaly and smiled. There was nothing remotely dangerous looking, unless he could count the tranquiliser gun in Abby’s hands. All around were open meadows, occasionally interspaced with small clusters of trees. High above them a flock of small blue birds, similar to the one that had come through the anomaly, swooped and dived in the air, eventually coming down to settle in one of the trees. From somewhere in the tree there was a scuffling sound, followed by an angry shout, and the birds took to the air again, moving to a different tree.
He saw Connor wandering over to the trees before he could stop him, the young man looking up curiously to see who had shouted. Connor stood underneath and squinted up into the branches.
“I can’t see anyone- Hey! That hurt!”
As Connor jumped back, rubbing his forehead and glaring at the tree, Nick rushed to him.
Connor pointed. “A squirrel. It told me to piss off and then threw an acorn at me! It was a bloody good shot, too!”
Nick smiled. “Of course it did, lad. Come on, let’s have a look around. And everyone keep an eye out for rogue squirrels with bad language,” he added with a chuckle.
“I didn’t imagine it!”
Maybe he should have believed Connor, Nick thought later from a perspective roughly six feet lower than he should have been.
They had been almost back to the anomaly, ready to return home, when they came across her. The old woman was near to it, waving her cane at it and chanting. When she saw them, her eyes widened and she turned her cane-waving, verse-chanting attentions to them instead.
“We don’t mean you any harm,” Claudia told her in the placating tones she used on Lester when he was getting stressed over the team’s latest mishap. “We just need to get back through that anomaly.”
She didn’t look too placated, Nick thought as the woman hissed ‘Demons!’ at them and began chanting at them again, blocking Abby’s way when she tried to pass by. Abby ducked back as the woman’s cane was jabbed in her direction again. Five minutes later and the old woman was showing no sign of giving up. Rolling his eyes, Nick turned to the others.
“Look, just ignore her and let’s go.”
Connor shook his head. “She threatened to curse Abby when she tried.”
Nick sighed. “Don’t tell me you believe all this clap-trap she’s spouting? She’s just a batty old woman-”
The woman rounded on him, eyes narrowing. “I’ll turn you into a toad.”
Nick smirked. “Yeah right. That? I think I’d like to see.”
Famous last words.
Stephen looked up when Connor approached, frowning as the younger man took a frog out of the open Tupperware box he was carrying it around in and announced,
“I need you to kiss this.”
He really should be used to this place by now, and the craziness it seemed to instil in people, but a frog? He really didn’t want to ask, but the words were out before he could stop them.
“You want me to do what?”
“Kiss him.” Connor sighed. “Look, it’s important. I’ll tell you why afterwards, but will you please just do it?”
Stephen couldn’t believe he was doing this, but Connor wasn’t going to leave him alone until he did, he reasoned. Another thought struck him.
“If I find out there are cameras hidden in here, filming me kiss some manky frog you’ve fished out of a pond somewhere…”
He could have sworn that the frog actually looked offended as it let out a soft, “Rrrrrribit.”
“There aren’t any cameras, I promise. Claudia did it,” he added.
It wasn’t as disgusting as he’d expected, Stephen thought as he gave the frog a peck on the mouth and leaned back to wipe his lips hastily, and only then realising what he’d just thought. This place was getting to him.
Connor was watching the frog, disappointed.
“Nothing happened. I don’t get it. I was sure it would work.”
Stephen stared at him. “Well what did you expect to happen? That thing to turn into a princess or something?”
“Not exactly…” Connor replied.
Ten minutes later, Connor barged into Lester’s office. He had been sure that Stephen and Nick had been together but Stephen had corrected him on that. Nothing but friends, he’d said, despite what people seemed to think. Stephen had, however, pointed him in the direction of someone who might be able to help. He’d checked Ryan’s office, the training rooms, even the bunk room in case the Captain was taking a sly nap but nothing. Then someone told him that Ryan had been called up to see Lester just before he got there.
“Connor, does the concept of knocking on doors before you come in completely escape you, or do you just enjoy working the Saturday shifts?” Lester asked.
Connor scurried back outside again, knocked, then came back in. “Sorry, but I need to borrow Ryan for a minute.”
Lester heaved a sigh of relief; he’d been dreading Connor trying to make him kiss that damn frog. Oh, he knew all about the lad’s hair-brained idea but he’d been keeping out of the way in the hope that Connor would forget about him. But still, Ryan? He raised an eyebrow questioningly at Connor.
“I tried Stephen and it didn’t work but he said that Ryan-” he glanced at Ryan and stopped mid-sentence. “Captain, are you and Cutter seeing each other?”
“Yes,” Ryan said slowly. “Look, it’s not against the rules…”
Connor and Lester shared a look. “Stephen said you’d been together for a few months now… Do you love him?”
Ryan folded his arms across his chest and frowned at them both. “I fail to see how that is anyone’s business but mine.” Seeing Lester and Connor watching him intently, showing no signs of losing interest, he sighed. “Fine, maybe. I don’t know yet.”
Connor shrugged his shoulders. “It’ll have to do.”
Ryan watched in disbelief as Connor lifted a brownish-green frog out of a plastic box and handed it to Ryan. The frog padded its little feet a couple of times before settling down on his upturned palm with a soft croak.
“I don’t get it,” he told Connor, confused. “What am I supposed to do with this?”
Ryan closed his eyes and counted to five but no, when he opened them he was still in Lester’s office holding a frog.
“Well, Captain, do get on with it,” Lester told him, smirking, thoroughly amused by this whole situation now that it looked as though he was safe from being Connor’s next victim.
“Ryan, just do it.”
Whatever Ryan was expecting to happen- he was betting on the footage of this showing up on youtube or something similar- it certainly wasn’t the strange tingling sensation in the air the moment his lips touched the frog, like a static shock. Nor was he expecting to end up with a lapful of naked Nick Cutter.
“It worked!” Connor exclaimed, punching the air before bouncing on the spot and beaming happily. “I knew it!”
Nick looked at Ryan. “Rrrribit!” He slapped a hand over his mouth, looking shocked and more than a bit embarrassed, before coughing to clear his throat.
“Connor, I think I’d like that explanation now,” Ryan prompted.
Still grinning, Connor looked around at them all. “Simple; the fairytales always say that only true love’s kiss can break a curse.”
“You love me?” Nick asked Ryan cautiously, looking relieved when it came out as words this time.
“Surprised me too,” Ryan said dryly. “When you can be such a pain in the arse sometimes.”
“I love you too,” Nick murmured, sliding his arms around Ryan’s neck and kissing him, only breaking off when Lester uttered a loud sigh.
“Gentlemen, if you could maybe save this until later…? I have no desire to have Professor Cutter’s bare arse in my office any longer than I already have.”
Nick glanced down as though only just remembering that fact. “Unless you want me wandering through the ARC like this, someone is going to have to find me some clothes.”
As Connor went off to find Claudia, seeing as she had brought Nick’s clothes back with them from the anomaly, Lester turned to Nick.
“That’s it. No more wandering through anomalies without my express permission. Is that clear?”
“No ‘buts’, professor. I said, is that clear?”
Lester watched them leave a few minutes later, Nick now clad in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, and shook his head.
“Should have kept him as a frog,” he muttered.