Summary: Surely that's not possible? Surprise fic written for doylefan22.
Spoilers: General S2 spoilers.
A/N: Betaread by fififolle and rodlox.
Out of the corner of his eye he sees a flash of red, stark against the white walls of the ARC. A brief flash of worry consumes him, fearing blood; death and danger. But that emotion is replaced by confusion as he notes there's no red in sight now, peering down the corridor, whatever it was has passed him by.
He sits back down at his desk and strains to listen, a noise he'd tuned out that now he hears in the distance, a click of heels that belies most likely Jenny's presence. He thinks nothing sinister of it until it grows steadily louder, a clipped sound that increases into a staccato that stops abruptly too close for comfort. Nick glances up to the open door to see a face peering round it, unsure of what will be found. Like every other time he swears he's looking at Claudia Brown but catches himself before he voices her name.
It's when he notices the hair that he swallows and struggles to breathe properly for a moment. Surely that's not possible? He'd seen Jenny not twenty minutes ago, chiding him about shooting his mouth off at Stephen when a reporter was within earshot. Jenny with sleek dark brown hair pinned back into an elegant bun.
Her voice could break his heart, she sounds so utterly different from the cool tones of either Jenny Lewis or the efficient Claudia was used to. Though it was Claudia alright, plainly scared; like she knows she's out of place, like she feels alone - just like he'd felt for months. His mind boggles at how and why and is this Helen's doing? Honestly, though he doesn't give a shit; he'll - they'll - figure it out later. The first thing he does after getting over the shock is get up decisively and walk right up to the door. He stares at her, taking in all the details of her face, her hair, the way her mouth curls up a little as he moves closer, trying to be sure he's not hallucinating. In the end he decides there's really only one way to be sure.
Claudia Brown kisses him back, he's pretty certain of that. It's not a hesitant first kiss, instead it mirrors the last one they shared. Her lips tease at his, pressing urgently against, trying to capture his and then pulling back, yet unwilling to break contact and the pressure returns. There's a passion to it which he thinks is based on the underlying fear that she thought she would never see him again. This time he feels it too. Ever regretful of dismissing her warnings, he'd thought this day would never come. It's nothing short of a miracle. He understands now that there are some things better saved for later, and others you should never put off - never ignore and hope for the best.
For once in his life Nick Cutter battles his brain, puts science on hold and gives in to instinct. He wraps his arms around her waist, one coiling round and tracing up her back, clasping her body absurdly close to his. He hasn't been this close to a woman for years but it feels right, not awkward like he'd imagined before, back when he'd been avoiding how he'd possibly felt. The months without her have put it all in perspective. He never thought he'd have this opportunity, the opportunity that's disturbed by the security alarms...
Claudia breaks their embrace, smiling guiltily. "I have a feeling that'll be because of me."
Nick just smirks, holding her hand because he can't bring himself to let go of her.
"I think I can buy us some time."
In one swift movement he pulls her through the door, shutting it behind them and entering a very special passcode Connor set up for him when they thought there was a conspiracy going on. Luckily Connor isn't very forward thinking about removing unnecessary security measures, nor informing anyone higher than him that they exist in the first place. One tug and the shutters are drawn too, leaving the only obstacle to privacy the camera in the corner.
"Can I borrow your jacket?" he asks bluntly.
"Okay...but what do you intend to do with it?"
"Making sure," he flings it at the intended target, missing the first time, "...we're," he grunts as he puts more effort into it and turns out to be second time lucky, "alone".
He knows it's only an illusion of privacy. The camera's microphone probably won't be fully blocked out, it'll sound muffled he imagines and who knows if his office is also bugged, but it will do for now. All he needs is now.
"I've missed you" He says it genuinely and yet she seems confused.
"Why, where have I been? What's going on? Somehow I feel like I've stumbled into the wrong world," she says, finishing with a charming smile like it's meant as an endearing joke.
His throat feels dry as he considers the truth of her statement. "That you have, we both have. But it may be all we have now."
She looks into his eyes, suddenly serious, realising this quite possibly falls under a whole new level of strange than she's used to.
"But we have each other," she all but asks.
"Yes. Yes, we do."
And it's likely the most direct answer, perhaps the only real answer he's given her - the one she was waiting for and he just wishes it could be under better circumstances. He doesn't know how long it will be until they break the code or the door down, whichever succumbs first, but he wants to make the most of it. This time it's simply a hug, no more words needed. Each finding a small amount of comfort, solace in the others arms for a short while. Nick smiles into her neck even though he knows it's premature, that there will be more rough times shortly before there's a chance of normality, of happiness truly ensuing, but it's a start. Lester won't believe it, he'll want answers - proof. Jenny will either accept it like a professional or freak out entirely, he's not sure which but one thing is for certain, he won't back down, he won't let go this time.
"We're in this together," he whispers into her ear, meant as a reassurance, and what he gets as a reply is typically Claudia.
"Really? I don't see you being hunted down by musclebound men with guns."
He has to laugh or he might cry and she can't help but do the same, it's a bizarre situation. When he catches his breath again, looking at the woman in front of him he wonders if he might still cry, just from sheer joy, but he'd rather push that feeling aside and opt for more kissing. It has been a long time for him but gratefully there are no complaints from Claudia so he can't be too out of practice. It's just a shame they're working with limited time, there are some things he definitely wishes didn't have to be saved for later considering how long they've waited already. Nobody would call him an optimist, especially not recently, but right now he prefers to go for wishful thinking - he's already got one wish out of three.