Pairing: Ethan / Matt
Word Count: 5,260
Spoilers: All of series 4, but in a slightly AU way…
Summary: What if Ethan’s arrival had gone differently and he eventually joined the team?
Matt walked quickly through the cemetery, listening for any sound that might indicate where Emily was. Lester’s voice in his earpiece directed him to where the signal was but there was no sign of her, just the black box tracker abandoned in the middle of the path.
As he walked past a crypt, he thought he heard something. He turned to look at the same time as hands grabbed his lapels, tugging him back behind the stone building and pressing him against the wall.
Matt began to fight back but once he saw who it was, he relaxed. Ethan smiled, leaning in to press their mouths together. Matt’s fingers stroked softly over the nape of Ethan’s neck as he kissed him back.
Eventually, the reason Matt had come here in the first place made him pull away and ask,
Ethan shrugged his shoulders. “She’s fine.”
“That’s not what I asked.”
Ethan’s smile faltered as a hurt look crossed his face. “She’s all you came for, isn’t she? You said you were too busy to come and see me but I knew that if she shouted, you’d come for her.”
Matt reached out to him but he ducked away. “Look, I just want to make sure she’s alright. Tell me where she is.”
“No. If I do that, you’ll leave again.” Seeing Matt begin to protest, he said sadly, “You will; everyone leaves.”
It took a few minutes to convince Ethan to tell him where to look but eventually Matt made his way to the crypt, pushing the heavy stone tomb lid aside to find Emily inside. As he took her back out he looked around but Ethan had gone. This would all have been so much easier if he’d just kept his distance from everyone like he was supposed to.
“It’s alright now,” he told Emily. “I’ll take you home.”
Back inside his flat, Emily sat curled up on one end of the sofa, a mug of tea clutched in her hands.
“Tell me about Ethan,” Matt asked her. He had already heard some of it, but what he heard and what he knew from spending time with the man just didn’t add up. “When did you meet him?”
“Three years ago,” she said. “When I first went through the gateway, I didn’t know what was happening, where I was. I wasn’t alone, though. Charlotte found me and took me into the tribe, helping me to adapt. Ethan was there too; he followed Charlotte around like a puppy. She once told me that she met him in her own time when he saved her from being attacked by a thief in the street, and she said she felt sorry for him. He had been on his own for a long time, and so she befriended him, looked out for him. She could never see what a monster he really was,” she added bitterly.
Matt remained silent though he wanted to defend Ethan. He had asked Ethan about this once and he knew that when the man first went through the anomaly which left him stranded, he was just fourteen years old. He had to learn to survive in a hostile and alien world, to kill or be killed by the creatures there. It was years before he found his way back to his world, back to civilisation, but even then he had no one. How could he when he had arrived back to a time that was not his own, with no real understanding of what had happened? He did the only thing he knew to continue to survive- he killed and he stole.
What he had missed out on was the social interaction that shaped young adult’s lives, the step from a fourteen year old kid to an adult had passed in seconds as he was forced to grow up quickly. He spent years on his own, then in the strange worlds through the anomalies, and it would be hard for him to suddenly switch back to living by society’s moral codes. In Matt’s eyes, he was nothing like the monster that Emily described; he might be older now but he still acted like a kid sometimes, playing by schoolyard rules. If he thought someone was trying to bully him, in any way, his first thought was to lash out, his defence being ‘well he started it’. Unfortunately, Ethan’s violent skills had been all that kept him alive for a lot of years and so they were what he used to solve his problems now.
“It was him who went through the anomaly that trapped them; Charlotte followed him, to stop him, and it left them both stranded,” Emily continued. “Perhaps that was why he listened to her, he felt responsible for putting her in that situation.”
When Emily was asleep that night, Matt slipped quietly out of his flat. It didn’t take him long to reach the run-down building where Ethan had been living but the man wasn’t there. Setting the bag of food he’d brought with him on the table, Matt sat down to wait. He didn’t have to wait long as a few minutes later, Ethan returned.
“What are you doing here?”
Matt stood, going to him. “I told you that I was coming back, didn’t I?”
“Are you going to stay or do you need to get back to her?” Ethan asked, though he already knew the answer. If Matt was gone in the morning when she awoke, she would wonder where he was, get suspicious.
“Please don’t start this again.”
Ethan frowned at him. “She’s pushing me aside again, just like she did with Charlotte. Charlotte was my friend but then she turned up and everything was about her. Even here, she’s doing it. She calls and you go running. You even let her live with you.”
And now they were getting to it, Matt thought. Ethan was jealous and that’s why he was doing stupid things like earlier today, making Matt chase about after him. He wanted to get Matt’s attention, and unfortunately most of Ethan’s methods of showing affection tended toward violence.
He hadn’t meant to get involved but a few weeks ago he had found Ethan’s hiding place. After realising that they didn’t really want to kill each other, they realised that there was something a lot more interesting that they could be doing.
“Yes, she’s staying in my spare room,” Matt agreed, hooking his index finger into the man’s belt, pulling him closer. “But I’m here with you, aren’t I?”
Ethan didn’t bother to reply just crushed his lips to Matt’s, taking his mouth in a rough kiss.
A week later, Matt sat in Lester’s office, his fingers worrying the cuff of his leather jacket, despite the defiant expression on his face.
“Let me get this straight,” Lester said eventually, sounding as pissed off as he looked. “Not only did you assist this woman-”
“- Emily in evading the security teams, but you have also been in contact with a mass-murderer who came through the anomaly with her and has been running wild in this city ever since.”
Matt nodded. “That’s about the size of it, yes, but he’s not been ‘running wild’. Ethan may have done things in the past but you need to understand that he’s not a bad person. He just made do with the hand he was dealt,” he said. “He’s willing to come in to the ARC, but I’ll only bring him if you can promise me that he won’t be locked in a cell for ever more.”
Lester glared at him. “And what would you have me do with him? Give him tea and biscuits, perhaps, before handing him a gun and telling him to go out and have fun?”
Choosing to ignore the sarcasm, Matt continued. “He has experience with the anomalies, as well as knowledge of some of the creatures. He could be an asset to the team. And he won’t hurt anyone; he gave me his word.”
“His word? He has already injured one man at the theatre in his bid to escape. What makes you think you can trust him?”
The difficult question, Matt thought. If he told Lester that he knew Ethan pretty well, as he had been seeing him in a less than professional capacity, it wouldn’t help his argument, and other than trusting his instincts he really had nothing else.
“I just do.”
There was another short silence before Lester seemed to reach a decision.
“I want him under guard at all times and he is not permitted to carry arms,” Lester said. “All security areas are off-limits to him, and I will be holding you, Mr Anderson, personally responsible for him.”
Matt nodded. Now all he had to do was tell Emily.
Emily’s reaction to the news that not only was Ethan going to be present at the ARC on a daily basis but that Matt had been meeting him in secret for weeks was roughly what he had expected.
“He’s dangerous! He kidnapped me and left me in a tomb and you want to let him into your life? Are you insane?”
“I understand him a little better than you think I do and besides,” he added coldly. “I wasn’t asking your permission. I just thought that you would prefer to hear it from me rather than walk in and see him here.”
Half an hour later, he was back in Lester’s office, only this time he wasn’t alone. Emily sat to his right, as far away from Ethan as she could manage without sitting out in the corridor. Ethan just sat quietly beside Matt, eyeing Becker and especially the gun he was carrying, suspiciously.
Lester spoke to the pair of them, laying out the ground rules and making sure that there would be no trouble whilst they were here. He also requested that they both remain in the ARC, offering them temporary quarters until they could find a way to get them home. Emily accepted immediately, her eyes flicking to Ethan as she agreed, knowing that there was less chance of the other man getting to her again if she was surrounded by security personnel.
Ethan just shook his head, looking to Matt with wide eyes. He looked like a rabbit caught in a truck’s headlights, one that was likely to resort to violence if they tried to force him to stay here.
“You said they wouldn’t lock me up.”
“That’s not what Lester meant. He’s just offering you a place to stay, not a prison cell,” Matt explained, but the look remained. “Since Emily is staying here, I have a spare room,” he told Lester. “He’ll be fine with me.”
Ethan seemed to calm down again, smiling at Matt. The rest of the day was taken up with collecting Emily’s meagre belongings from Matt’s flat and taking them to the ARC for her, and then showing them both around. There had been a bit of trouble when Becker first tried to escort Ethan around the facility, Ethan taking objection to the gun he carried. Eventually, Becker agreed to leave the weapon behind and he found they got along rather well after that. The other man was enthusiastic and inquisitive, wanting to know everything even though he didn’t understand some of it.
At his office window, Lester watched with Matt as Becker showed Ethan around.
“Thank you for this,” Matt said. “He’s really okay when you get to know him, he just has a few problems.”
Lester uttered a long-suffering sigh. “Just make sure you keep his problems out of my way,” he grumbled as he went back to his desk, a sign that Matt should leave now. “I have enough to do trying to keep the rest of you out of trouble.”
Ethan did prove to be a mixed blessing, Matt discovered the first time he went out with the team to an anomaly. He was skilled at tracking creatures but he didn’t like being told what to do, a problem when he was expected to work as one of a team. Becker quickly grew angry with him as he ignored orders and did as he pleased instead, and Matt thought he was going to have to intervene when Ethan began reacting to Becker yelling at him. What Ethan couldn’t seem to understand was that Becker was right; by running off on a one-man creature hunt, he had endangered the people who had to go after him as well as himself.
It was the use of one of Becker’s security team, already injured by the rampaging creature, as bait in order to catch it that finally made Becker snap. Instead of getting the trampled man to safety and letting the rest of the team handle the creature, Ethan had taken the man’s gun, ignoring his protests, and waited calmly until the creature returned, drawn back to the smell of blood from the gash on the man’s leg.
His first shot was a direct hit and the creature went down almost immediately. Becker had come running over, snatching the gun from Ethan’s grip and launched into a pissed-off tirade, which only encouraged Ethan to fight back.
As Ethan’s eyes darkened angrily and he threw a punch at Becker, Matt moved in between them. Ethan stopped his fist in mid swing, unwilling to hit Matt, even accidentally.
“Enough,” he said quietly, looking Ethan in the eyes. “Just wait here while I have a talk with Becker, okay?”
With a glare at Becker he nodded reluctantly, stuffing his hands into his coat pockets and scowling like a petulant child. Matt took Becker aside.
“Don’t get me wrong, I actually quite liked the bloke but he’s a fucking menace! Sean could have been killed by that thing and what does that lunatic do? He leaves him in the middle of the fucking street!” Becker began as soon as they were far enough away. “He’s going to get someone killed.”
Matt sighed. “But no one did get hurt. He didn’t let that creature get within reach of Sean, and he took it down with one shot.” Matt wasn’t who he was trying to convince at this point, Becker or himself. “Maybe that was how they worked through the anomalies, when he was with the others.”
“Which gets us back to the fact that he won’t bloody listen to me! If he’d followed orders and done what I asked, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.”
“He’s just not used to the way we work around here. Anyway, I seem to remember you telling me that most of the members of this team, past and present, have that same problem with following orders.”
Becker glared at Ethan over Matt’s shoulder. “I suppose…”
“Let me talk to him, try and get him to co-operate more,” Matt offered. “But you have to stop being so hard on him; half of the reason he’s playing up is because you’re always going on at him. He doesn’t like being pushed around.”
“I am not pushing him around!” Matt cast him a disbelieving look and Becker relented. “Maybe I have been watching him more closely than the others but I would do the same with any new member of this team. And it’s a damn good job that I was. I could have lost one of my men due of that stupid little stunt he pulled!”
That one, Matt really had no explanation for. The injured man had been treated and shipped off to the hospital to be checked out properly and have the claw wounds on his leg dealt with, and Matt had made a mental note to keep Ethan out of his reach for a couple of days.
“I’ll make sure he doesn’t do it again,” he promised, wondering exactly what he’d got himself in for. He just hoped that the other man actually listened to him or it would be both their necks on the line.
Glancing over at Ethan he met the man’s eyes, Ethan’s scowl fading as he smiled.
“Fine, talk to him,” Becker said eventually. “I’ll ask Sean not to report this, not yet, but I can’t guarantee it. I’ll tell you now, though, if he does anything, and I mean anything, like that ever again I will have him confined to a very small cell in the depths of the ARC.”
There were no more alerts that day but by the time they had finished the paperwork caused by the anomaly that afternoon it was late and Matt was ready to go home. He collected Ethan and drove them back to his flat. All he wanted was to go to sleep; he could deal with Ethan and Becker and everything else tomorrow. Unfortunately, Ethan had other ideas.
Matt was almost asleep when the click of his bedroom door opening woke him again. He sat up and blinked himself awake, seeing Ethan standing there by the side of his bed in the darkness. When the other man had moved in, Matt gave him the spare room but in the two nights he’d been here, he’d stayed there for one. This morning, he had awakened to find Ethan lying next to him, on top of the covers. Now, he was here again.
He glanced at the clock; it was half past two in the morning. Matt groaned. He had to be up again at six.
“Becker doesn’t trust me, does he?”
Matt shivered at the cool night air in the flat and lay down under the covers again. Holding up one edge, he glanced up at Ethan.
“Get in.” Once they were under the warm bedcovers, he turned to face the other man.
“When he took that gun from me today, I could see it in his eyes.”
Matt thought back to the lecture he’d had from Lester on that very subject and wondered if Becker had received the same one.
“Lester made it very clear that you weren’t to have an EMD. You were meant to be there to assist and then get out of the way once the shooting started.”
“But that’s what I did; I assisted,” Ethan insisted. “Lester doesn’t want me there. And Becker hates me too. Maybe it was a stupid idea, me going to the ARC with you.”
“Just give them time to get to know to you,” Matt told him. “You get along with Connor and Abby and Jess. As for Becker, he likes you but you need to stop antagonizing him, then he won’t get so pissed off with you.”
Ethan frowned. “I don’t antagonize him. He keeps ordering me about like I’m a child.”
“It’s his job to order everyone around. His job is to keep the team safe, and he can’t do that if you keep running off to do your own thing. Just try, okay? Try and co-operate with him, do what he asks.”
There was a moment of silence and then, “Alright.”
“And no more using people as bait, especially not Becker’s team.”
“Okay, I get it,” Ethan grumbled.
Matt heaved a sigh of relief and closed his eyes again, determined to get at least a few hours sleep before his alarm clock went off.
The next couple of days were better; they received one anomaly alert but it turned out to be a wasted trip. The anomaly had opened and closed again within minutes and, although they checked carefully, nothing seemed to have come through. Becker looked pleased that Ethan actually obeyed to him, as much as the others did at least, and Ethan was less argumentative now that Becker had eased up on him a bit. He even made an attempt to apologise to Sean, although the man wasn’t entirely inclined to accept, everyone else appreciated the gesture.
Ethan’s nightly wanderings were still happening, and Matt woke up with the other man in his bed, pressed against his chest, almost every morning. After a while he even stopped the pretence of going to his own room first, just settling in next to Matt each night. As Matt didn’t object, Ethan moved into his bed instead.
Matt had got used to waking with his cock pressed against Ethan’s arse, fighting the urge to remove the layers of material in between them and see how it would feel flesh to flesh. Or better, to see how good it would feel to slide into that tight little arse… Despite the fact that he’d been meeting Ethan for the just over a month, he had been trying to take things slowly. From what he’d heard of Ethan’s past from both Emily and Ethan, he got the impression that the man had been a loner, letting only a few people near him. He had never mentioned having lovers, either male or female, and Matt hadn’t wanted to push him.
So, he held back.
One evening, as they got into bed, Ethan crowded closer to Matt.
“Don’t you want me?”
Matt frowned. “What?”
“The others all think we’re fucking like bunnies,” he said. “But even though we sleep together, we aren’t.”
Fucking like bunnies? Those definitely weren’t Ethan’s words and Matt wondered just who had been speculating about his love life.
“I wasn’t sure if you were comfortable with that, so I didn’t pressure you,” Matt told him.
Ethan shifted closer still, letting Matt feel the hardening cock pressing at his hip. “I am. I want it; I’ve been waiting for you to want me.” He brushed his lips over Matt’s throat. “Want to feel you inside me.”
Matt smiled as Ethan nipped at the side of his neck, the decision made. He rolled them so that the other man was pinned beneath him, dipping his head to claim Ethan’s mouth in a heated kiss. Their bodies pressed together as Ethan’s arms wrapped around him, keeping tight hold of him. Matt’s imagination over the past few weeks had nothing on this, of the feel of Ethan here, now.
Two days later, as they struggled to contain an anomaly outbreak, the arrival of one dirty, unkempt man stepping out of the anomaly threatened to shatter the contented life Matt had settled into. Matt watched as the others welcomed Danny Quinn back, joking with him, catching up on the time they had all missed. As they made their way through the old prison where the anomalies had been appearing, to take Danny back to the ARC, Matt saw Ethan approaching. He was about to introduce them when Danny pushed past him, a look of total shock on his face.
Ethan frowned at him before recognition hit. “Danny.”
Dodging Danny’s attempt to reach out to him, Ethan turned and ran, leaving the man staring after him, visibly upset at being rebuffed. Matt nodded to Connor to look after his friend and followed Ethan out.
Ethan was leaned against one of the vehicles, hands in his pockets, looking at the ground as he scuffed the dirt with the toe of one shoe. When he heard Matt approach, he glanced up, not saying a word. A lot of things were starting to drop into place now that Danny had arrived, things Ethan had said that at the time hadn’t made sense. Ethan had mentioned that he had a brother, though he never mentioned his name. He had told Matt how he had gone through the anomaly whilst playing with his friends, that he had been just fourteen at the time.
Matt had never put it together; had he known Danny Quinn, heard him talk of his brother, he might have made the association.
“So, you’re Patrick Quinn,” Matt said. He knew a little about the situation from what the others had told him about Danny. “I would have thought you’d be glad to see your brother.”
Ethan pushed himself away from the side of the vehicle. “Well, I’m not.”
They had been back at the ARC for almost an hour before Ethan could finally be persuaded to go and see Danny. As he walked into the room, Danny jumped to his feet and dragged Ethan into a tight hug. Ethan immediately squirmed free, backing away until Danny sat down again.
“I’ll leave you to it,” Matt told them, but Ethan shook his head. “Okay, I’ll stay.”
He could see Danny casting him curious glances as he sat down, trying to keep out of the way, then turned back to his brother.
“I can’t believe you’re here. They all thought you were dead, but I didn’t.”
Ethan just glared at him. “Yet you just left me in that place. You used to say that you’d always look after me and so I waited for you to come for me, but you never did.”
“I’ve spent half my life looking for you! It’s why I joined the police, then the anomaly project. It wasn’t until that first anomaly, at the old house where you disappeared, that I realised where you’d gone.” He paused, studying his brother. “They said you’d done things, killed people. Why?”
Ethan shrugged his shoulders. “I was good at it. I had to kill those creatures if I wanted to survive.”
“But people, Patrick?”
“My name is Ethan. And I did what I had to. You have no idea what it was like!”
“Yes, I do,” Danny told him. “Believe me.”
Matt slipped quietly out of the room about ten minutes later, once he was sure that they were getting along. Or at least not likely to injure each other. The anomalies at the prison were now locked at last, and Connor was still playing with his latest toy. Apparently it could accurately date an anomaly, pinpointing which year it opened up into. As he approached Jess’s desk, she turned to him, a huge smile on her face.
“Isn’t it great?” she asked. “Connor says the anomaly leads to 1867, to Emily’s time.”
Matt knew it was good news but he just couldn’t muster more than a forced smile in reply. Sure, Emily could go home now; that was what she had wanted all along. It was also what Ethan had wanted in the beginning. The question was, would he still want to go? Ignoring the curious looks Jess was sending his way, Matt ignored her. He couldn’t deny Ethan the opportunity, wouldn’t do it, but in the short time he’d been here, Matt had got to like having the other man around.
Emily had already been told the good news and now Matt had to tell Ethan. He went back to the room, apologising for interrupting Danny and Ethan’s reunion.
“Is something wrong?” Ethan asked, frowning, concerned.
Matt forced the blank expression back onto his face and shook his head. “Connor has managed to put a date to the anomaly.” He paused, then said quietly, “It goes to 1867. You can go home, just like you wanted.”
For a long moment, Ethan glared at him, before getting to his feet and storming out without a backward glance. Danny and Matt stared after him before glancing at each other.
“What was that about?” Danny asked him.
Matt thought for a moment, debating whether to go and find out. Eventually, he headed for the door again.
“I should go and find out,” he said, offering Danny an apology as he left.
Matt found Ethan leaning on the window that looked out over the menagerie, watching as Rex flew past. When he heard the door open he didn’t even look around.
“I get that I’m meant to be apologising, but I’m still not completely sure what for,” Matt said.
“You’re an arsehole.”
“Okay. You’re going to have to give me a bit more than that.”
“Fine, you’re a pi-”
“I meant, a hint.”
Ethan turned to him. “Is that really what you thought? That I was just passing the time with you until that damn gateway opened again?”
“I don’t… It was what you wanted.”
“Yes, was,” Ethan pointed out. “Don’t you get it? This is home now, at the ARC. With you.” He hesitated before asking, “Unless you want me to leave?”
“No!” Matt reached up, winding a hand around the other man’s neck and pulling him close enough to brush his lips over Ethan’s. “I don’t want you to go.”
They said farewell to Emily a few hours later, watching as she stepped though the anomaly and back to the life she had left behind years earlier. Of course, to everyone else there it would only be a matter of weeks, maybe even hours.
When she was gone and the anomaly had closed behind her, Ethan glanced at Matt.
“Well that’s it, you’re stuck with me now,” he joked.
Matt smiled. “I think I can live with that.”
They headed for home, where Danny would be staying until they found him something more permanent. Lester had offered him use of the flat that the ARC kept but Matt just announced that he already had somewhere to stay. Ethan had agreed, their earlier conversation dispelling a few of the resentments he had harboured toward his brother over the years. It might be good to have time to get to know Danny again. What he wasn’t sure of was how much Danny knew about his relationship with Matt. It could be awkward if he didn’t know.
They left Danny to get cleaned up, finding him some clothes to borrow until they could get his things out of storage. About an hour later, hair still damp from the shower and dressed in some borrowed jeans and a sweatshirt from Matt, Danny wandered into the living room and sank down into an empty chair. Matt and Ethan were already on the sofa, eating pizza and watching Lethal Weapon. They were sitting close together, talking softly between themselves, Ethan laughing at something Matt said to him. When they saw Danny enter they had stopped, falling silent and Danny didn’t miss the fact that they edged apart a little too. Matt hurrying off after Patrick- no, Ethan- at the ARC made a bit more sense now.
Matt handed him a beer, holding out the pizza box for him to get a slice. Danny took a long drink from the beer; he’d dreamed of beer and pizza over the past months, stuck there with nothing but whatever he could find or catch to eat. As he chewed on his pizza he looked between them both thoughtfully. His brother had always been chasing the girls when he was a teenager but obviously things had changed. He was surprised, but he didn’t let it show.
“I really appreciate letting me stay, mate,” he told Matt. “You sure you don’t mind?”
“It’s fine; the spare room is yours as long as you need it,” Matt said. “It’ll give you two a chance to catch up, too.” Seeing the question in Danny’s eyes, Matt clarified. “Ethan lives here too.”
Danny could see them both waiting with baited breath for him to react, expecting him to be angry about it from the looks on their faces. He could feel the smile tugging at his lips as he eyed them both, his gaze finally focussing on Matt.
“So,” he began, a mischievous gleam in his eye. “Is this where I ask you what your intentions are toward my baby brother?”
Matt bit back a laugh as Ethan’s cheeks turned red. Danny laughed; he’d forgotten how much fun little brothers were to tease.