Pairing: Connor/Philip, Stephen/Ryan
Word Count: 6,129
Summary: For Philip, the end was only the beginning.
SPOILERS: The finale.
Warnings: Wing kink
It was almost a full time job keeping Connor out of trouble. Last week, for example, when the creature that the team had been herding back toward the anomaly had suddenly changed direction. Instead of home, it headed straight for Connor, who tried to back away and ended up sprawled on the ground after tripping over a branch, right in its path. Another few minutes and he would have been trampled but Philip had distracted the creature, giving Connor time to scramble to his feet get out of the way.
It wasn’t just the creatures -although if someone was going to get in the way of a hungry dinosaur, it was going to be Connor. No, the lad was just an accident-magnet. Earlier today, Connor had been about to step off the kerb, not paying attention to his surroundings as he read a text message on his phone, when Philip had seen what was about to happen. He grabbed the back of Connor’s hoodie and hauled him backwards… just as the speeding car came careening around the corner, right over where he would have been standing.
Connor had turned around to thank his rescuer, frowning when he saw no one even though he looked right at Philip, before continuing on his way.
Philip sighed. One day, he promised himself, when Connor looked around, he would actually be there.
(Six weeks earlier)
Philip looked up, the sky above him a bright mix of blues and pinks of sunset. He was sitting on a cliff top somewhere, the vast landscape stretching out for miles below him. The weird thing was that he had no idea where he was or, more importantly, how he got here. The last thing he remembered he was standing in the control room of New Dawn, the noise of the building being torn apart around him, eaten by the anomaly, was almost deafening. He had a sudden thought about trying to run, to get out, but it was too late. The self-destruct programme reduced the remains of the building to nothing and him along with it.
…And then he was here, wherever ‘here’ was.
“Pretty, isn’t it?”
Looking around, he saw a blonde man standing next to him, one he recognised from the ARC’s personnel files. Beside him was a dark haired man, the pair of them shoulder to shoulder. Two men who were supposed to be dead. Philip frowned as Ryan moved to sit down next to him, staring at a place just over the man’s shoulder. He could have sworn he’d seen… No, he couldn’t have.
Ryan smiled. “Yes, you did.” In the time it took Philip to blink, the wings became visible, going from a shadow in the corner of his eye to full and feathered with an impressive wingspan. Curious, Philip put out a hand to touch but Ryan moved away, out of his reach.
“Sorry- I shouldn’t have done that.”
“Its fine,” Ryan told him, folding his wings down his back once more to sit comfortably. “It’s kind of a personal thing, with the wings; you’ll see what I mean if you get your own.”
Philip blinked at him, not sure what to think or which of the million questions buzzing around his head he wanted to ask first. Start with the big stuff, he decided after a moment.
“I died, didn’t I?”
“Then I don’t understand why I’m here; after everything I did…”
“You expected to end up somewhere else?” Stephen asked. “You were expecting fire and brimstone like in those stupid Sunday-school stories?”
“Something like that. So if none of that is true, what is this place?”
“Africa,” Ryan informed him. When Philip looked confused again, Ryan shrugged, making his wings flex. “I like it here, it’s peaceful, and it’s not as though we have to pay airfare. It seemed like a good place for us to talk. You’ve been given a chance to make things right.”
“But how can I after I nearly destroyed everything? I hurt people. I left Connor in that car to die.”
Stephen frowned at him. “We know, and it was a really shitty thing to do. He thought you were his friend.”
Philip already knew that, felt guilty enough about it without those two reminding him. Of everything he’d done throughout his life, hurting Connor was the one he regretted the most.
“If you’re an angel, should you be swearing?”
Ryan laughed. “There’s a lot of things that we probably shouldn’t be doing,” he said with an affectionate glance at Stephen. Only then did Philip see Stephen’s fingers casually petting the feathers on Ryan’s wing. He’d said that was personal, which could only mean that the two of them were… Oh.
This whole conversation should be making his head hurt, Philip thought, but it seemed completely normal to be sitting on top of a cliff, talking to two angels. Well, possibly only one; he hadn’t seen Stephen’s wings yet but as he never saw the man appear earlier -and how the hell would he have got up here without some kind of mystical assistance?- the odds were pretty good.
“So, here’s the deal,” Ryan told him. “You died, there’s no getting away from that, but what you do next, that’s up to you. You screwed up pretty badly, but sacrificing yourself for them at the end cancelled out some of that. Now, you can go back and help them, like we do, and maybe you can cancel out the rest.”
“So you’re, what? Guardian angels?”
Stephen smiled. “How do you think Matt walked away from that building after it collapsed, with barely a scratch on him?”
But Philip hadn’t seen that; he didn’t even know if any of the others had survived the building’s implosion. He hadn’t seen anything beyond the monitors in the New Dawn control room counting down the seconds, finally reaching zero, and then… the world ended, or at least the part with him in it. It had been over in seconds, and then he’d opened his eyes and he was sitting here in once piece and having the weirdest conversation of his life. Or afterlife, he corrected silently, still trying to get his head around the whole thing.
There was one thing about Stephen’s statement that puzzled him, however. “Why save Matt, and yet let me die?”
Stephen glanced at Ryan. “Same reason he couldn’t save me when I walked into the creature room and locked the door. Neither of us were exactly innocent- me for betraying Cutter by sleeping with Helen and then taking up with her against him, and you almost bringing on the apocalypse. Our acts of self-sacrifice were something that had to be allowed to happen for the sake of the people we did it for. I made the same choice you’re making now and I chose to stay and help them.”
“And you?” Philip asked Ryan. There had been nothing in his file about past sins to atone for.
“I wasn’t ready to leave them,” Ryan replied simply.
After explaining the rest, Stephen and Ryan left him to think about it. If nothing else about this conversation seemed strange, the fact that they vanished as quickly as they appeared shouldn’t have surprised him. All he heard was a faint flutter of wings and they were both gone, leaving him alone.
It didn’t take him long to make his decision. He had expected to need time to think but it all seemed perfectly clear, as though they’d been discussing the weather or something similarly everyday.
“Yes,” he said loudly, turning when he heard the fluttering again. “I owe it to Connor after what I did to him.”
Philip watched as Connor looked around nervously, looking straight through him at one point.
Ryan had warned him about making himself visible around his charge; once done, it could never be undone. So, he shifted himself out of the room silently, going out to the kitchen. He should go really, but he didn’t want to. He missed being around Connor, missed hearing him ramble on about random things that had no bearing on their work. Now, regrets of things he’d done and words he’d never spoken kept him close to Connor even when he didn’t need it. He spent his days trailing around after the lad, just watching him and occasionally helping him out with whatever he was doing.
“What are you doing?” a voice asked, making him jump as he sat on the landing outside of Lester’s flat.
He turned as Stephen sat down next to him, the other man’s gaze steady as he studied Philip.
“Why didn’t you tell him?”
“There’s nothing to tell,” Philip replied.
Stephen smiled. “Sure there isn’t. That’s why you’ve been moping around after him like a lovesick puppy, is it? Look, I’m not saying that you should, or shouldn’t, but you can talk to him if you want.”
“Yes. Ryan came to me just after all of that stuff with Helen, when she dropped her proverbial bombshell,” Stephen told him. “I was glad of his company- once I’d stopped thinking that I was hallucinating- as, at that point, none of the others were really speaking to me. He practically lived in my flat for the last few months, and he was with me in the creature room, too, right to the end; he couldn’t stop me, but he could make sure I wasn’t alone.”
Philip thought back to the times he’d seen them together, to the little touches and glances.
“He’s more than just a friend, though, right?”
Stephen nodded. “Yes, since a few months before I died. Do yourself a favour, Philip, and do something about this. If you think he’ll handle it, and keep it to himself, then make yourself known to Connor and talk to him. If not, forget it and get some distance. You aren’t helping yourself by spending all of your time brooding on it.”
As Stephen vanished, Philip looked around Lester’s kitchen and sighed. He had spent more time in Lester’s flat recently than he ever had in his own when he was alive. A low chattering sound made him look down, and he saw Sid and Nancy sitting in the doorway, watching him curiously. They could see him, even though he wasn’t supposed to be visible.
“Guys, if you’ve chewed something else, Lester is going to be pissed off,” Connor told the two little Diictodons, coming into the kitchen. When he saw them staring, he looked, frowning. “What is it? There’s nothing there.”
But they didn’t move, their gazes still fixed on Philip, heads cocked to the side. Connor looked again.
“Or can you see something I can’t?” he asked them.
It had been stupid to stay this long, Philip thought, vanishing silently. He would have to remember to avoid Sid and Nancy in future, though; he wasn’t sure if they could see him, or just sense that he was there, but it was too risky.
For the next couple of weeks, Philip stayed away from Connor, still watching over him in case he needed anything, but from a distance. All it did was make up his mind; he had to talk to Connor, to apologise to him for a start. Connor needed to know that he had nothing to feel guilty about- as Philip knew he had been- for his role in the creation of New Dawn.
Philip’s determination to make his presence known to Connor was hampered only by his lack of courage to do so. After how he’d treated Connor, the young man had every right to hate his guts.
A few days later, the choice was taken out of his hands.
He, Ryan and Stephen were watching as the team searched the old factory building, room by room, for whatever had come through the anomaly. It wasn’t going well; so far, one of Becker’s men had been sent to Accident and Emergency after falling through a rusted railing on the side of a gantry, while everyone else was getting more and more annoyed at the creatures’ ability to disappear into the darkness without a trace.
Until they got tired of hiding, that was, and decided to fight back.
Abby was casting her torch light around the room one last time before following Connor out to continue their sweep of this floor when something moved in the shadows. Philip heard him yell but, when he reached the doorway, Connor was nowhere to be seen. Abby was calling for backup through the comms, frantically searching, but Connor wasn’t here. In the short time it had taken her to get to the door, he had vanished.
Philip zeroed in on Connor, appearing in a dark basement just in time to see one of the creatures drag Connor down the stairs, dumping him on the ground at the bottom. There was barely any light down here, just what could make its way through the single, tiny, dirt-covered window that was set into the top of the wall, almost at ceiling height. Connor was unconscious, two of the creatures stalking around him and a third leaning down, its breath ruffling his hair as it sniffed him. Philip didn’t know what to do. He needed to get rid of the creatures, or they’d just attack him when he went to Connor, but how on earth was he supposed to do that? The one near Connor swatted at him with one clawed foot, shifting him enough that Philip saw the red blood on the ground under Connor, soaking through the front of his hoodie. His face had two claw marks across it, and Philip could see numerous other grazes and, to his horror, what looked like a bite mark on his arm.
That was it. He wasn’t going to stand by and watch them kill him, he thought, feeling the anger and fear building in him. It was an odd sensation; he could feel the emotions focussing into something else, something powerful, and it seemed almost instinctual to simply focus that power on the creatures before him.
There was a flash, and then the creatures were on the ground, motionless, their eyes wide open as though in fright. When he looked a little closer, he saw the faint wisps of smoke coming from them, could smell the charred flesh. He was just considering whether or not being an angel still allowed him to throw up in disgust when he heard a flutter and turned to see Ryan standing behind him.
“You don’t think that was overkill?” Ryan asked, sounding amused. “You toasted them.”
“I don’t even know what the hell just happened!”
Ryan glanced at Connor, still lying on the floor nearby and his smile faded. “I’ll explain later. First, you need to heal him.”
Ryan shook his head. “You need to do it on your own.”
“Aren’t you supposed to be teaching me this stuff?” Philip snapped, going to crouch by Connor. “Ryan, please! His pulse is getting weaker; he’s losing too much blood.”
“So stop him bleeding. You know what to do; you have to trust that I wouldn’t do this if I had any doubt at all that you’d save him. I like the kid; I don’t want anything to happen to him any more than you do.”
And then Ryan vanished.
Philip turned back to Connor, materialising fully so that he could roll Connor on to his back and check the damage. He still didn’t know what to do! His fear was back now, the thought that he might actually lose Connor. Carefully lifting Connor until he was half sat against Philip, he held him close while silently calling for Ryan to come back. He couldn’t let him die. He wouldn’t.
Movement made him glance down to see Connor shift against him, his breathing returning to normal, and he heaved a sigh of relief. Freeing one hand in order to tug Connor’s hoodie aside, he examined the wounds. They were gone; there wasn’t a single mark on his body, just pale, smooth skin beneath the bloodied rips in his clothing.
Philip froze. He hadn’t intended for Connor to see him, meaning to go before he regained consciousness, but he hadn’t been able to bring himself to leave, not until he knew that Connor was alright. Quickly setting Connor back on the ground, Philip edged away and vanished.
“Well that was stupid, wasn’t it?” Ryan asked, sitting down on the wall next to Philip.
They were outside Lester’s flat, Philip not wanting to go inside in case Sid or Nancy sensed his presence again.
“I healed him, no thanks to you,” Philip replied, with a glare at Ryan.
“I meant letting him see you and then buggering off.”
“What the hell was I supposed to do?”
Ryan shrugged his shoulders. “Stick around?” he suggested. “Talk to him?”
“You said not to let them see you,” Philip reminded him. “I seem to remember that you made that point very clear, right from the start.”
Ryan smiled. “So? I also told you that there are a lot of things that we shouldn’t do, but we do them anyway.”
“How did you know to approach Stephen?”
For a time, Ryan was silent, as though trying to work out what to say. After a moment, he just shrugged his shoulders.
“I just did. I’d fucked up once by not saying anything to him and I wasn’t going to do the same thing again.” He indicated to the flat they were both watching, occasionally seeing a silhouette walk past a curtained window. “Go and talk to Connor.”
It took Philip two days to do as Ryan suggested, working up the nerve to show himself, not knowing how he would be received. And once he did this, there would be no going back; he couldn’t make Connor forget that he’d seen Philip.
Philip stood in the corner of the living room on Saturday morning, waiting patiently until Lester went out and Connor was alone in the flat. He knew that Connor wasn’t working today, and Lester had said he would be out until early evening, giving him the perfect opportunity. Unfortunately, waiting only gave him more time to wonder if perhaps this wasn’t a good idea and making himself more nervous in the process. It didn’t help that, for the past ten minutes, Sid and Nancy had been sitting together in the middle of the room, staring at him. It was quite unnerving, as he suspected it was to Connor, too, who kept asking them what they were looking at and trying to see for himself.
Lester put his coat on and, after a long list of dos and don’ts for Connor, he left. Now or never, Philip thought.
He waited until Connor was sitting down on the sofa before allowing himself to become visible.
As Connor leapt off the sofa, scrambling away as fast as he could, Sid and Nancy began squeaking excitedly, edging forward slowly as though daring themselves to go closer. Philip took a step forward but he could see that it was making Connor panic, instead retreating to stand against the wall. Opposite him, having run out of places to back away to, Connor stood by the window, watching him with wide eyes.
“I know that this is a bit of a shock…”
Still no reaction other than that wide-eyed stare.
“Please, Connor. I’m not going to hurt you.”
Connor shook his head. “You can’t be here; you’re dead. They couldn’t find your body but they said that no one could have survived when the building collapsed.” He pinched himself on the arm, swearing when it hurt, before doing it again.
“You’re not dreaming,” Philip told him. “And I did die. Please, sit down?”
After a few more minutes, Connor edged back to the sofa, still keeping a watchful eye on Philip. He seemed more reassured by the fact that Sid and Nancy thought it was safe to go to Philip, nudging his ankles with their noses in the hope of getting some attention. Bending down, Philip petted the two Diictodons gratefully before turning his attention back to Connor.
“Am I going to realise in a minute that I’m just imagining you, and that I’m really talking to myself?”
Philip smiled. “No, you’re not talking to yourself, and this isn’t the first time you’ve seen me. Connor, do you remember in the basement of that warehouse, after the creature attacked you last week?”
Connor nodded, frowning. “I saw you. Or, I thought I had.” He looked at Philip suspiciously. “There were rips in my hoodie, covered in blood, and I remembered that creature slashing at me with its claws, felt them tear into me, but then there were no marks on me.”
“I healed you.”
“And the creatures were dead,” Connor continued, as though he hadn’t heard Philip’s response. “It looked as though they’d been electrocuted but there was no power in the building.”
“I couldn’t let them hurt you any more.”
Connor’s fell silent, the wary look that had given way to his curiosity a moment ago was back as he eyed Philip with newfound fear.
“You killed them? And you said you healed me, too, didn’t you? What the hell are you?”
Moving to the centre of the room, Philip let his wings materialise. He stretched them out a bit, enough for Connor to see but not enough to actually knock anything over.
“I was offered a second chance,” he told Connor, “and I have been watching over you ever since. I’m sorry for everything I did to you, for getting you involved in New Dawn, for leaving you in that car.” When Connor didn’t reply, he sighed, letting his wings disappear again and getting ready to do the same himself. “This was a bad idea. Maybe I should go-”
Philip stayed where he was as Connor stood up, coming closer. He still looked unsure, but the fear had gone. Connor reached out hesitantly, his fingers barely touching Philip’s cheek, but it felt like sparks racing over his skin. It had been so long since he’d had any kind of contact, except a pat on the back from Ryan or Stephen. That this was Connor made it even better. Connor frowned, and did it again.
“You’re real.” Connor looked over Philip’s shoulder before walking around him in a circle. “This is weird. In a good way, I mean, not weird weird.”
Philip was just glad that Connor seemed to have forgotten to be afraid now that his curiosity had returned. He stood and let Connor look, a shiver running down his spine when he felt warm fingers stroke down the feathers near to the wing joint, making him hiss in a breath.
“Sorry! Did that hurt?”
“No. Quite the opposite, in fact.”
Ryan hadn’t been telling the whole truth when he’d said that wings were personal. This wasn’t the equivalent of pinching someone’s backside; it was more of a lover’s caress over naked skin, something a lot more intimate.
He turned to see Connor watching him, looking embarrassed now that he’d worked out what Philip meant by his reply.
“I didn’t mind,” Philip told him softly, reaching out cup his palm to Connor’s cheek before brushing a kiss over his lips. “I stayed here for you, Connor.”
“So, how did he take it?” Ryan asked a few days later. He and Stephen had appeared beside Philip as he sat on the desk in Connor’s office, waiting for Connor to finish getting cleaned up after a rather muddy chase around a farmer’s field at a call-out.
Philip felt a smile tug at his lips, avoiding their gazes. “Pretty good.”
“That expression says it was better than good,” Stephen observed.
“It’s not like that,” Philip protested. “We talked.”
Stephen smirked. “Are you sure that’s all you did? Because that is the look of a man who got lucky last night.”
Ryan made a valiant effort to keep the amusement off his face as he told Stephen to stop teasing.
“But he doesn’t know what he’s missing,” Stephen continued, ignoring him. “Let him get his hands on your wings and you’ll see what I mean. Or maybe you already have?” he said, seeing Philip avert his gaze again.
“Only once, on the night I told him. He was looking at them and when he touched… It was an accident,” Philip told him.
Ryan grinned. “Piece of advice: Try it on purpose. It’s even better.”
Since making himself known, he had spent a lot of time with Connor but he hadn’t been sure how to ask. The whole situation was strange enough for Connor without Philip reminding him of the fact that he had wings now.
“I wouldn’t know what to say.”
“Who are you talking to?”
They all looked up see Connor standing in the doorway with a bag over his shoulder and his jacket in his hands.
Philip glanced at Ryan but the other man shook his head. Connor couldn’t see them, and it was up to him and Stephen whether or not they wanted the others to know of their presence. Connor looked around the office, squinting at Ryan, or where Ryan would be if he decided to show himself. “Is there someone else here? Someone like you, I mean.”
“Just some friends,” Philip told him, feeling slightly self-conscious as he came forward to kiss Connor with Ryan and Stephen still sitting on the desk, watching them. “Are you going home now?”
Connor nodded, hurrying back out to catch up with Lester before his ride home left without him. When he reached the door, he turned back.
“You are coming by later, aren’t you?”
Philip nodded and Connor hurried out.
“Lester is going out of town tonight,” Philip told the other two. “He’s not coming back until Monday, which means three days of no sneaking around, trying not to let him see me or hear Connor talking to me.”
Stephen stood and clapped a hand to Philip’s shoulder. “Go forth and shag like bunnies,” he said with a suggestive grin, vanishing before Philip could protest. From the look on Ryan’s face when he said goodbye, following Stephen, that was exactly what they were intending to do, too.
The moment he materialised in Connor’s bedroom, wanting to make sure that Lester had gone before he appeared anywhere else in the flat, Connor pounced on him. He must have been waiting, Philip realised, the thought thrilling him; Connor was as eager to see him as he was eager to see Connor. He had worried for a while that Connor might not return his affections, or that he would but out of some kind of misguided guilt over the fact that Philip had died, only later to decide that he didn’t want to continue this. Luckily, Philip’s fears had yet to be realised.
“Lester left half an hour ago,” Connor told him, sliding his arms around Philip’s neck and kissing him. “Which means you can stay. Please?”
“I hoped you’d say that.”
Connor kissed him again and then moved back, biting his lip as he frowned, looking as though he wanted to say something. After a moment’s persuasion, he blurted out,
“Can I see your wings again?”
Philip nodded and, in the blink of an eye, the huge feathered wings appeared. As he looked over to Connor he caught sight of his reflection in the mirror on the back of the door and couldn’t help but stare. He hadn’t taken the time to look before but now he saw himself as Connor did: he still wore the dark blue suit he had when he’d entered the New Dawn building all those months ago, only now any sign of what had happened to him were gone, the material permanently immaculate. The tops of his wings were visible over his shoulders, the tips resting at just above his knees. Spreading them slightly, he turned to get a better look, seeing the faint bluish sheen on the black feathers. They were similar to Ryan’s, his also being black whereas Stephen’s were pure snow white.
“Can I touch?”
He nodded, and even though he was expecting it, he still jumped as Connor’s fingers stroked over the feathers, almost as though he were petting a cat. The sensation had Philip's blood rushing south in an instant.
“They’re so soft… You said it felt good when I touched them last time,” Connor reminded him as he slid his arms around Philip's waist. His hands strayed a little lower. “I think I’m starting to see how good it feels,” he said, palming Philip's cock through his trousers.
Suddenly, he stepped back. “Philip? How do you take your jacket off with these?”
Philip let out a laugh; of all the questions he’d been expecting, that one hadn’t been on his mental list. “Only you would think of that. It’s pretty easy; they’re only solid when I want them to be-”
Connor rolled his eyes. “And people say that I can’t take a hint. What I really meant was ‘get naked’.”
Philip's clothes vanished almost as quickly as his wings, tossed aside before he turned to help divest Connor of his and allowing Connor to steer them toward his bed. It felt so good to be skin to skin with Connor, feeling the younger man’s hands exploring his body, his mouth back on Philip's, kissing him, before moving lower. Connor settled himself between Philip's thighs, sliding backwards down the bed, touching and kissing his way down Philip's body until he could lick a stripe along Philip's cock. Taking the head into his mouth, Connor swirled his tongue around it before sinking down to take more of him in, licking and sucking.
Then he stopped. Philip stared at him in disbelief as Connor crawled back up his body.
“Not just yet,” he told Philip. “I’ve got other plans for you tonight.”
Philip set his book down and looked down at the young man cuddled up against him in the narrow bed, his head resting on Philip's chest. He could hardly believe that they were here; so many months of wanting, watching. Hoping. He still wasn’t sure how this was going to work. They wouldn’t even be able to go out together, at least not with him visible, as it would cause too much of a stir to see a dead man apparently up and walking about, but he could think about that later. Right now, he had exactly what he wanted.
Connor shifted slightly, his eyes opening as he looked to Philip with a huge smile on his face.
“What time is it?”
“Around midnight,” Philip told him, reaching out to run his fingers through Connor’s sleep-rumpled hair, smoothing it down.
“Sorry. It’s been a long day, and then you wore me out earlier.” He glanced at the book on the nightstand and frowned. “Did I disturb you? I tend to shuffle about-”
Philip shook his head. “You didn’t; I don’t need to sleep. We can if we choose but I rarely do. I really don’t mind if you do, though.”
Connor’s smile returned. “But I’m wide awake now and I want…” He paused, only continuing at Philip's insistence.
Five minutes later, Philip knelt on the bed, wings outstretched enough that they almost spanned the small bedroom, as Connor sat behind him. Connor was carefully grooming his wings, straightening any rumpled feathers, though he seemed to be doing a lot more petting than grooming at present. Deft fingers combed through the feathers, hands stroking over the bone at the top, until he felt Connor’s arms go around his waist and Connor’s face press against the V where his wings joined to his back.
“You know, this is getting beyond simple curiosity,” Philip teased. “I think someone has a thing for wings.” When Connor didn’t answer, he added, “Not that I mind, of course.”
“Good.” A soft sigh ruffled the downy feathers near to the joint. “This feels nice.”
Philip couldn’t agree more as Connor resumed his petting. Any pretence of grooming had long gone; Connor’s touches could no longer be interpreted as anything but groping.
“This really does turn you on, doesn’t it?” Connor mused a few minutes later after drawing another groan from Philip. “So I wonder what would happen if I did this…”
Now that he was actually trying to arouse Philip, Connor’s attentions became more focused, testing to see which parts of Philip's wings had the most effect when stroked. When he reached the feathers closer to Philip's shoulders, near to the joints, he smiled knowingly, giving them more attention.
Philip found himself on a familiar mountaintop, once again slightly confused as to how and why he was here. The last thing he remembered was standing in the ARC, in the detector room, watching as Jess and Connor added a few updates to the ADD. He wasn’t surprised in the least when Ryan appeared, sauntering over to him, Stephen close by.
“Bet you’re wondering why you’re back here,” Ryan said, sitting down. “Think of this as the end of your probation.”
Philip sighed. “So you’re here to tell me that I got too involved and that I’m in trouble?”
“No; actually, you’ve done well. I think they’re happy- and don’t ask me who they are because I don’t know. I just think of them as The Powers That Be.”
Philip smiled. “Let me guess: You were an Angel fan?”
“I always liked Wesley. After he stopped being such a wet blanket like he was in Buffy, of course. And when he arrived in those motorcycle leathers…” Ryan said, with a little smile. “We’re getting a bit off-topic, though. We’re here to talk about you. This was only temporary, kind of an assessment, if you like.”
Philip frowned. “Why didn’t you say anything before? How could you neglect to tell me that my time here wasn’t permanent?”
“Because I wasn’t allowed to. Besides, nothing is set in stone, not yet. You have a decision to make now; stay or go,” Ryan told him.
Ryan shook his head. “Don’t make this decision lightly as there won’t be another chance to make this choice. If you stay here, you have to be sure you’re staying for the right reasons,” he said, adding, “Don’t do it just for him.”
Philip didn’t need to ask who Ryan meant and, if he was being honest, Connor was part of the reason that he wanted to stay here. He couldn’t face walking away from Connor now, not after everything it had taken to get to this point. That wasn’t the only reason, however.
He had been helping the team, even if they didn’t know it. He had taken to going in at night, when there was only a small night team present and making improvements to the computer systems, and he and Connor had been working on improving the detector, making the response time even faster. It was just little things, but he knew that even a tiny change could help. It was fun; it reminded him of the old days when he had just begun Prospero. Back then, he had been doing what he did because he enjoyed the work and not for some ulterior agenda as it had become over the past few years. Even if he couldn’t let them see him, helping the team was satisfying.
“I like it here,” he told Ryan. “I like being around the ARC. I know that while I was alive I didn’t make much of an effort to get to know them, but I like the team, too. I want to make sure they’re okay and, if I can help them stay that way then I’d like to do so. And, of course, there’s Connor. I won’t give him up again, not after we’ve finally got started.”
Stephen and Ryan shared a look that told him they’d both had similar reasons for staying.
“I’m staying,” Philip told them firmly.
Ryan smiled. “I thought you would.”
“Yeah, welcome to the club,” Stephen added. “I’m glad you decided to hang around; with you keeping an eye on Connor it frees up a lot of our time,” he joked. “We both adore the kid but he’s a walking disaster.”
Philip really couldn’t argue with that, he thought with a smile. It might have taken his death to make it happen, but Connor was his walking disaster now and he wasn’t going to let anything happen to jeopardise that. He planned be around, keeping Connor safe, for a long time to come.