Title Don't Make The Grave II
Characters/Pairings: Ryan/Matt, Nick/Stephen, Lester, mentions of slight Ryan/Becker and Matt/Becker, couple of OCs.
Prompts: Mystery and in the nick of time.
Genre: Angst, humour,
Rating: 15 for swearages.
Summary: The things men do to get a happy Christmas.
Author's Note: The second part of my Primeval Secret Santa. Hope it turns out okay and people enjoy! XD Thanks again to fififolle for the beta, but all mistakes are mine not hers. :)
As soon as he saw him, Ryan couldn’t help himself.
He completely forgot about the suit and his rant and sprinted towards the exit. The glass in the door shook and nearly shattered when he flung it open, but that didn’t even stop him.
Thankfully the street wasn’t crowded, so it was very easy to spot the man he was after.
There was no mistaking it was him. It was the Irishman.
Ryan didn’t care about the looks he got as he chased after the other man. He just ran and pushed past the few people who got in his way. When he caught up with Anderson, he grabbed hold of his arm and spun him to push him against the wall but Matt had lightning reflexes and turned them both around.
Ryan felt the wall hit his back. He heard some cries of alarm from the other people around and instantly both he and Anderson assured them it was okay by-strangely-smiling and laughing and even hugging each other. When it was no longer an issue with the other members of the public, Ryan hauled Anderson down a small alley, and when he was sure no one was looking, Ryan pushed the man against the wall.
“Right, you have exactly ten seconds to start telling me what the hell you’re doing following me and what this is all about!” Ryan pulled from one of his pockets the note Matt had given to him and he threw it in the younger man’s face. “Or I’m taking you in to my superiors.”
As Matt unscrewed the piece of paper, Ryan stood back a little.
Something was off. Matt had followed him to the Home Office and he had run after being seen, so there was definitely a motive or intent of some kind, but as Matt looked at the note, there was the slight hint of confusion in his normally blank expression.
He clearly didn’t remember writing this note.
Then everything else was wrong. Matt looked thinner, younger, his face wasn’t as full, his goatee was scruffy, stubble covered most of his cheeks and the jacket on him appeared just a bit too big for him. There was no sparkle in those blue green eyes either, no crafty and mischievous smile on his lips.
Was this the same person?
Oh god, he was a twin. This wasn’t the same man who kissed him…it was his identical brother. He had to be.
“What is this?” Anderson waved the note. “Why is it in my handwriting?”
Okay. Maybe he wasn’t a twin then.
Ryan was not amused. This was getting ridiculous.
“You gave me this last night,” he said, pointing at the note. “You followed me home and you gave me this, you also gave me some cryptic message about not making a grave and that I wasn’t to shoot once. You said that when the time came, I had to keep my distance, keep safe and keep firing too. How the hell do you know what I should be doing eight months from now? What’s going on?”
“I never followed you home. I didn’t speak to you or say any of that and I really don’t have a clue what happens in eight months.” The man had a completely unreadable look on his face. There wasn’t a hint of any emotion or expression at all. He’d had some training for sure.
He was hiding something.
“You were at my local pub. I saw you and now you were outside the Home Office. Why are you following me? Are you under orders?”
Yes. He was. Matt’s eye twitched ever so slightly, a clear tell through his stoicism.
“Who is your superior officer?”
“I don’t have a superior officer. I’m not in the military anymore.”
If Ryan believed that, then he would believe that pigs would fly and Satan would be skating to work. Whatever this man was after, Tom wasn’t going to make it easy for him. Seduction or no, he wasn’t going to be swayed. Ryan was going to get answers first.
“I don’t believe you and any flirting or kissing on your behalf isn’t going to make me think otherwise.”
“Any what now?”
“You kissed me. Just because I like guys doesn’t necessarily mean I go all gooey and love struck at every single one that crosses my path. I don’t like being played.”
“I kissed you? Really?”
“How could you not remember?”
“So you’re telling me that I kissed you last night?”
“Well, you are kinda hot, so it’s understandable that I did.”
Anderson was smiling now, there was a slight upward curl to the corner of his mouth and there was a trace of something wicked in the man’s eye, as if a thought had crossed his mind that was very obvious.
“I’m not in the military, Captain Ryan,” Matt said, that accent of his soft and so reassuring. “My orders are not from them, okay? I can confirm that I was following you, but not for reasons you’re probably thinking. I was supposed to watch you and find out whether you have any connections to the man and people I’m really investigating, but I’ve obviously screwed that up. You say that I gave you this note? That
I kissed you? What was it like?”
Didn’t he know? He was there!
Matt smiled again. “Tell me about it. Was it good or did I have bad breath?”
Ryan told him. He said how upset Matt had been, how adamant that Ryan follow the instructions on the note.
Upon hearing that, it made Matt Anderson smile more. There was a look of utter relief and joy as he then gave back the note and he let his hand linger on Ryan’s, closing his fist over the note. Ryan didn’t understand why that had made him happy.
“Ryan,” Matt kept hold of his hand and strangely Ryan didn’t feel the urgent need to pull away. “I will gladly explain to you what I can, for it looks like I will come to more than trust you and that’s something I’m looking forward to very much. But tell me this; do the names Helen Cutter, Philip Burton or James Lester mean anything you? Does New Dawn or Convergence ring a bell?”
Only James Lester did. Ryan had just met the with man moments ago. Matt didn’t need telling, he seemed to already know.
“What about Connor Temple?”
“Why are you asking me this?” he asked. “What’s my part in any of it?”
The playful smile vanished and once again Matt was stoic as a statue.
“I’m asking you because those names are connected to a project, that simply put, it’s not good.”
“It’s really not good. I can’t explain anything beyond that. It’s more than anyone else should know. Suffice to say, your name was linked to Lester’s, along with several others. They mean nothing to you?”
“I only met Lester a couple of minutes ago. You saw me talking to him, as for the others…no. Seriously, what’s going on here? If this is some kind of joke, if you’re having me on, I’m going to be extremely pissed off. ” Ryan ground his teeth and kept his temper restrained for now. “I should take you back to my CO. We should discuss it with him.”
“No. He’ll only complicate matters. He’ll involve others and like you they’ll want answers I won’t be able to give them. You are a different matter. I’m willing to be open with you, Captain Ryan, if you allow me to meet with you again tonight, at your local. I’ll explain what I can. No funny stuff, promise.”
Before Ryan could say no and demand or object any further, he looked down at their hands which were still touching. Anderson’s palm curled over his knuckles and gently squeezed. Matt let his hand slip off and he walked to the main street, backwards so he was still facing Ryan.
He was smiling again.
“I’ll see you later, Captain, at six. I have a feeling we’re not going to regret this.”
Matt had already turned the corner and disappeared.
When Ryan reached the street, the Irishman was nowhere to be seen.
It was night.
Snow was floating on the cold air like petals, swirling in circles before dusting the ground, settling only moments before melting.
There was no sign of him. Had he been gone that long?
His fingers were numb and frozen when he pulled out his phone. He could barely press the buttons as he messaged the young genius, the words didn’t make sense either—damned predictive text—but he managed to send it. He got no reply.
He walked home, wishing that he had a warmer jacket, but when he reached his front door, he made no move to go in. Instead, he checked his phone again. While there was still no text back from Connor, the screen was now highlighted on a different contact. His finger must have swiped the screen and scrolled down to that name. Typical.
Any rational person would have deleted a contact that had been out of use for years, but instead of doing so now, he found himself pressing the call button.
Why did he expect anything else other than the tones that indicated an unavailable number? He knew he had failed as soon as he came back, so why was he calling? Connor wasn’t where he was supposed to be and there was no one else either.
Nothing had changed.
The apartment was still empty and dark. There was no one to greet him home, no Christmas lights or decorations. There hadn’t been for years. The heating hadn’t been on and the lack of furnishings made the apartment as cold as it was outside.
He didn’t care about the cold anymore. He stripped off to nothing and for a moment stood naked, rolling his soles on the bare floor, rocking backwards and forwards as he tried to figure out where he had gone wrong. Could he have written something different, been more precise?
He walked to his bedroom. He shivered as goose pimples rose across the surface of his skin, his teeth chattered uncontrollably and when he slipped underneath the cold sheets, every part of him shivered more in an attempt to get warm.
So this was how it would remain. He had somehow coped with the loneliness before, barely, but now, knowing that nothing he did could make a difference, that he would be alone for the rest of his life, it pained him. It hurt, his insides felt like they were being wrung out, squeezed until every drop of life out of him was gone.
Sleep took him over eventually, but it wasn’t quick enough. His thoughts and memories made his consciousness linger far too long. His unconsciousness, his dreams weren’t that much help either.
Matt didn’t know when his dreams changed, but the feeling of strong arms enveloping around him and pulling him up against a broad thick warm body made him ease. Legs coiled with his and stroking hands lovingly caressed his chest and thighs. A mouth breathed and kissed tenderly around Matt’s neck, whispering for him not to worry, to sleep.
“I’m sorry. I did what I could,” he murmured, placing his hands over the ones that roamed over his shivering body, rubbing warmth back into him. “I went back to save you, to change things. I failed…it didn’t work.”
“Ssh. It’s okay. I’m here now. I’m here and I’ll still be here in the morning.”
“Will you make potato wedges?”
“For breakfast? Really? Are you kidding me?”
“They’re nice. I like them. They’re my favourite.”
“Sure. I’ll make you your damned wedges. Now sleep.”
“I’m already asleep. I’m dreaming. All this is just a dream.”
“You’re dreaming of potato wedges?”
“It’s a good dream.”
One of the hands holding him slipped down beneath his legs and a light chuckle puffed against Matt’s neck. He allowed himself to smile.
Matt woke to the smell off cooking.
He must be imagining it. He was still half asleep.
Yawning, Matt sat up and stretched, kicking his bed sheets off in the process. Then like the undead, he rose up, put on some boxers and shuffled into the other room.
His confusion increased. He could definitely smell cooking.
What the hell?
There was a Christmas tree. It was small, on the verge of tiny, but it was there sitting on the counter. Tinsel lined the edges of the counter, there were a few other tiny little hand-made decorations along with it and on the floor were some presents.
“I shouldn’t be doing this.” There was a clanging of pots and pans and a slight cuss. “I shouldn’t be pampering you and I know Christmas is a huge source of confusion for you, so I’ve decided to tone it down…a bit, oh and I’m making breakfast, just like you asked.”
He couldn’t believe his eyes. Matt rubbed them and had to shake his head.
He was there. Tom was there, standing in his kitchen and making…potato wedges.
He was alive.
Matt’s heart nearly leapt out of his throat. The joy overwhelmed him so much that he began to choke, his legs buckled beneath him and his hands completely missed the edge of the counter and he fell to the floor. His eyes stung as tears swelled and spilled down his cheeks when they could no longer contain them.
He was unable to form any words, there were too many in his head but they couldn’t form as sound as the joy and shock racked his body. They intensified further as he was hauled up to his feet and arms coiled around him, holding him and steadying him until he was able to stand himself. But those arms never let him go.
Matt wrapped his arms around Ryan and clung to him with all his might. He held onto him for quite a while, content in his embrace and knowing that Tom wasn’t a dream, Tom was real.
A soft kiss was placed on top of Matt’s head and then he was eased down on to the sofa, where he was held until his shakes stopped, where he was held until he was able to focus.
“Oh god, you’re here. You’re really here. My warning to you worked. I thought…when I came back…that it hadn’t.”
“Very nearly didn’t.” Matt could feel Ryan smirking as he hugged him tightly. “Connor’s invention wasn’t made for us to alter the past, he made that clear. You can’t predict what will change. So. You came back and changed my future by handing me that note. You changed our first meeting…didn’t you?”
Eight months with Tom was not enough. When he heard news of Ryan’s death, Matt had been devastated and it had taken a while before he was able to function again, to gain a position at the ARC. But without Ryan, it wasn’t the same. Not even the one night stand with Becker helped.
New Dawn was stopped, life went on, but without the one thing Matt wanted so much.
Connor eventually devised the means to open specific anomalies into the past, he had constructed a device and so Matt had to try and change the past.
“Lester is going to be pissed if he finds out this time line happened because of you,” said Ryan.
“Are you going to tell him?” Matt broke out of the hug and sat up. Tom didn’t look angry or disappointed in the slightest. In fact he looked a little guilty about something. “Tom?”
“Yeah… about that. You changed the timeline so I lived? I’ve changed the time line too.”
Nick was getting fed up with the woman waving the light and moving her finger in front of his eyes. He was fine, but he was worried. Connor was still pacing up and down in front of him with his phone to his ear and a concerned expression on his face.
“Call Stephen again,” Nick said, giving the medic a scowl which made her leave.
“He’s not answering,” Connor said. When the Professor gave him the same look he gave the medic, Connor pressed redial and walked over to where Abby was cuddling Rex in her arms.
“It’s 18:55,” Claudia stated, looking at her watch. “I want you back no later than 20:00 hours. If first contact works out, we’ll take it from there.”
Nick blinked a couple of times to get the light spot out of his eyes, but when it cleared, he saw a soldier, all kitted out in black combat gear, standing next to Claudia. He didn’t want any military jock to babysit him when he went through the anomaly. He wanted to have Stephen here. Stephen was the one who needed to share this moment with him.
“What’s he doing here?”
“This is Captain Ryan,” Claudia said, smiling. “He’s a gulf war veteran with extensive desert experience. We don’t know how dangerous it will be on the other side of the anomaly. No arguments, Cutter. He goes as well.”
Nick recognised this man. As he got to his feet and shook hands with the Captain, Nick immediately recalled a meeting, eight years ago, outside the university. It was strange. He looked younger here, less battle worn and he was clean shaven instead of having stubble growth hiding his good looks. He was still remembering the meeting whilst they prepared to go through the anomaly, Abby handed him Rex to take back, and Claudia gave some last minute orders for the military jock.
“I need to thank you, Captain.”
Nick closed his jacket around Rex, who nestled and squirmed in his arms to get comfortable, and Nick stopped just before the anomaly. Nick could feel the warmth and pull from the anomaly and he was more than eager to see what was on the other side…to see the Permian for real.
Again he wished that Stephen was here. He hoped he was all right. The worry hadn’t diminished, but he knew that Stephen could handle himself in any given situation.
“When we met, it was you who made me confront Stephen,” he said smiling softly. “It was on your advice that I asked him and because of you, we’ve shared eight wonderful years together instead of pining after a woman who didn’t love either one of us, and who quite frankly has been a right pain in the arse, and not in a good way.”
“Don’t quite know what you mean, Professor. I haven’t met you until today.”
That was a bit of a shock, but Nick didn’t accept it, he knew he was right. He was always right.
“You can’t deny it, I know it was you. Stephen and I owe you a lot.”
“You must be confused. It wasn’t me.”
“Oh. So it wasn’t you who brought me and my partner together, or shared your potato wedges with me?”
“I--? Potato wedges?”
There it was, a recognition; of sorts. Something clearly registered with the man, something clicked. Ryan looked into the anomaly as if it was responsible, as if he had some kind of inkling of what was to come, of what was on the other side.
He whispered something, Nick barely heard it but he didn’t let on that he did.
“Matt. What have you done?”
Now wasn’t the time to question the man further.
It wasn’t the top priority on Nick’s list.
One was to see the other side of this anomaly.
The other was to know if Stephen was okay.
“You went back into the past? What? How?”
Ryan pointed to the ledge by the stairs by nodding his head and Matt saw two of Connor’s devices sitting there, side by side.
“Why? What did you do?”
Ryan smiled and pulled Matt back into an embrace.
“Your memories obviously haven’t changed yet. It gets a bit tricky like that. Everything we’ve experienced together, everything we’ve done after that future predator mission you don’t remember, but you will. Give it a few days and they’ll come to you. Matt, getting that note changed the other you…he knew that I was going to die…that was the only reason you would come back to save me. I noticed how worried he was the closer the time came, I noticed how afraid you were but I understand now why he couldn’t say anything. You will still remember losing me and I don’t know whether you’ll forget those memories or not…but you’re here now.
“When Stephen died, I saw how it affected Nick. I saw how it tore him up and no matter how hard I tried there was nothing I could do for my friend. I think I would have been the same if I lost you, Matt. No…I know it would have been.
“Nick confessed to me how much Stephen meant to him, how he regretted not saying something sooner about how he felt and that nothing happened between them. Without Stephen, Nick became this empty shell of a man, he took more risks on missions and ignored my orders in some hope he would die. He had a death wish, Nick actually wanted to die. Our friendship ended, on his behalf, when I stopped Helen from shooting him. He hated me a lot after that and one day we went on a mission through the anomaly and he never came back. He refused to. The anomaly closed and he died in some era in the past, alone.
“That was no way for a man like Nick Cutter to die. I never wanted that for him or any one.
“It was about two years after we stopped New Dawn, Connor invented the Anomaly Openie Thing. Yeah, that’s what he called it. AOT. He had worked himself beyond exhaustion getting it right but he was so proud of it. I knew then that was what you had used to come back. So I had to try something, for Nick and Stephen. I had to.
“The result was…that instead of being just friends, Nick and Stephen were lovers. Helen couldn’t come between them, she tried, but failed. Stephen survived. They were happy together and I kept two great friends. Stephen was there to save Nick’s life and well, now they’re both leaders of their own teams and they drive me and my XO Becker utterly insane. Well, just about everyone does. You included. But Matt, we were very lucky. We’ve changed things for the better, but it could have very easily changed for the worse. The ramifications could have been affected the whole world…”
“I know…but right now as long as you’re in the world that’s all that matters.”
Ryan was going to make a joke about Matt being a complete and utter soppy bastard, but he kept his mouth shut and pulled Matt tightly to him, resting in a hug that had Matt lying on top of him. He agreed with that. All their efforts, of changing time, of bringing back lost friends…it was all worth it.
Matt Anderson was worth it.
He gave Matt a heartfelt squeeze and coiled one leg around his. For a moment, it was wonderful just cuddling, holding one another but saying nothing. Words weren’t needed anymore and soon Ryan felt Matt go limp as he drifted off to sleep.
Matt’s snores billowed against Ryan’s chest. It tickled and puffed and Ryan had to restrain from laughing or jerking and waking Matt up. He nearly dozed off himself he was that comfortable, his head bobbed a couple of times, but in the end, they were both startled at the smell of burning.
“Shit! Shit, shit, shit!”
Ryan tipped Matt off him and onto the floor and scrambled towards the kitchen. Thankfully Matt didn’t protest about it, he just quickly followed to help.
The black smoke set the alarms off when the oven door was opened. Matt opened the balcony door and turned on the fans to air the place. When the room was a lot clearer and the smoke detector didn’t keep going off, both men went to look at the damage.
It was not good.
“We have changed time and history,” Matt said, picking up a fork and prodding the burnt black remnants on the smouldering tray with dismay. “We’ve saved the lives of people who died in another timeline, but we couldn’t save the potato wedges. How sad is that? Is there anything else we can have for breakfast?”
Ryan shrugged his shoulders and began to open cupboards.
He was hungry too.
When he opened one cupboard door, in amongst all the rice, pasta and other assorted food stuffs, Tom spotted something that made him even more ravenous. He snatched them off the shelf and turned round to Matt.
The look on his face was priceless. The frown was just adorable.
“Breadsticks? Tom…that’s not breakfast.”
“Well…think of them more as a Christmas treat.”
“How are breadsticks even remotely Christmassy?”
Tom walked up to him and slipped his arm around Matt’s waist. He kissed him, slapped him firmly on the behind and handed him the breadsticks.
“Get yourself back to bed, get naked and I’ll show you they can be.”