Pairing: Nick Cutter/Claudia Brown, Nick Cutter/Tom Ryan
Word Count: 1,033
Summary: Nick is in trouble…
Notes: Written for this prompt by talliw: Claudia and Ryan have something in common. They both want Cutter and neither of them is willing to give up on him
Claudia just didn’t get it. Much of the time it seemed that Nick Cutter was interested in her, those little smiles he flashed her way or the touches he always managed to get in. They had been for drinks a couple of times, just the two of them, and he’d kissed her goodnight after taking her home. He wouldn’t have done that unless he was interested, right? And then, earlier, she had been certain that he was about to ask her out again, but that was when he wandered in.
Captain Ryan. Presently standing next to Cutter as the professor showed him something on the computer screen. Ryan made a comment, too quietly for her to hear, and Cutter smiled, nodding. Cutter’s arm brushed against Ryan’s as they stood close together, closer than they needed to.
She had wondered to begin with if it was just Cutter’s way, that maybe she had misinterpreted, but she had been watching him closely and he didn’t behave like that around Connor or Abby. Just her and Ryan. He was definitely reacting to Ryan’s flirting with him, and whatever Ryan might argue, he was definitely flirting.
Claudia sighed loudly and Cutter looked up as though suddenly remembering that she was there. She tried to think of something important to tell him he had to do, right this minute, to get him away from Ryan, but she came up blank. Making her apologies, she escaped back to her office, casting one last glance at the two men as she left.
It seemed that Ryan was getting in her way at every turn. Just the evening before, they had been sitting in the pub with the team and she and Cutter were at a small table, chatting, and Ryan had somehow ended up as part of the conversation. Then he’d been invited to join them, and despite the fact that Nick’s demeanour toward her never altered, it still seemed that Ryan had Nick’s attention instead of her.
Two weeks later, Claudia sat in the passenger seat of the Hilux, the door open as she waited for Stephen, Abby and two of Ryan’s men to finish checking the area for creatures while Connor and Nick studied the anomaly. She looked up as Ryan climbed into the driver’s seat.
“Everything okay, Captain?”
Ryan sighed. “No problems with the anomaly, if that’s what you mean.” He glanced across at her. “Have I done something to annoy you?” he asked suddenly.
“So why have you spent the past few weeks alternately blanking me or scowling at me?”
Claudia swore under her breath, not realising that she’d been so obvious about it. Whatever her personal feelings, she should never have allowed them to interfere with her work, making her behaviour toward Captain Ryan extremely unprofessional.
“So I have done something,” he said, studying her reactions. “Look, maybe I’m overstepping my bounds here, but I thought we were friends. Tell me, please.”
“You and Cutter seem to be getting along.”
Ryan smiled, looking a bit confused by the sudden change in conversation. “We’ve had a meal, a few beers. He’s a pretty cool bloke once he stops being such an insufferable know it all.” He paused, frowning. “Is that what this is all about? Nick Cutter?”
“No. Yes. Oh, he’s just so bloody infuriating! At first, it seemed as though he was interested in me, and then you and he… Oh, I don’t know.” She wished now that she hadn’t started this. “Can we just forget we ever had this conversation, please?”
But Ryan shook his head. “You fancy him,” he teased lightly.
Claudia glanced at him. “And you don’t?”
Ryan’s smile gave her the answer without him saying a word.
She wanted to ask how far it had gone between them. Ryan had only mentioned dinner and drinks, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t more; Ryan wasn’t exactly the kind of person who would kiss and tell. Had they kissed? Claudia wondered. Nick had kissed her so did that mean that she was still in with a chance? Maybe he and Ryan had progressed beyond a simple kiss. For all she knew, the spent every night together. A small part of her was intrigued by that idea, but the rest of her decided that she was better off not knowing.
“You know, I could remind you of official policy regarding relationships between colleagues,” Claudia said. “Especially as you and Nick work as closely as you do.”
Ryan grinned. “And I could point out how inappropriate it would be for you to get involved with a man who is regularly under your command.”
“I guess it’s a good thing that neither of us is that petty then, isn’t it?”
Ryan nodded, agreeing.
“Why does it have to be so damn difficult?” she mused. “I finally meet a nice bloke and it has to be someone as confusing as Nick Cutter.”
Ryan laughed. “I couldn’t have put it better myself.”
Claudia glanced across at the soldier. If nothing else, she felt better about having cleared the air between them. “I’m sorry I’ve been acting like a brat toward you,” she told him.
“Sorry I was oblivious as to why you were-” He paused. “Hang on, why are we the ones apologising?”
Nick Cutter looked up from the pile of papers he was reading through, his bored expression changing to surprise.
“Ryan? Claudia? What’s wrong? Is there another anomaly?”
Ryan indicated to the chair in front of Cutter’s desk, removing a pile of notes that had been weighted down with a fossilised ammonite so that Claudia could sit, before pulling up another chair for himself.
“Nothing like that, Nick,” Claudia assured him. “Ryan and I had a long chat the other day. About you.”
At the desk across the room, Stephen looked between Claudia and Ryan and put down the thesis he was reading. He stood, looking amused as he announced that he had an errand to run, but not before giving Cutter a look that told him he wanted to know the whole story when he got back.
“Oh?” Nick looked suspicious now, glancing between them.
“Yes, and we’d like a few answers…”
Part 2 - http://ebonyfeather.livejournal.com/93253.html