Spoilers: up to 2x03
Summary: Written for the Top 40 Titles challenge at ARC using Nickelback's “Rockstar” as broad inspiration. Connor ponders if things were different, of the world different not because of what Helen Cutter does but because of what they could have done.
A/N: Thanks to fififolle for betareading.
It's ironic that he, Connor Temple – previously self-admitted world's biggest conspiracy theory fan – is working for Her Majesty's Government in a cover-up of what is probably the world's most important scientific discovery of the 21st century. He supposes it's the most significant, the most mind-blowing, but isn't sure, because after all, couldn't there be plenty of other “projects” just the same? Somewhere half-way across the globe there might be another Jenny Lewis, glamorous PR woman designed to charm and grin and bare her teeth – whatever it takes, they have access to almost anything – to make sure Joe Public doesn't suspect a single thing is out of the ordinary.
Usually secrecy is the bone of contention between Nick and Stephen, with him and Abby taking a backseat, taking their cues from the people really in charge. He's learned his lesson on dropping any hints about the project, it's too dangerous to let the other people he cares about in on it – it's their stonkingly big, life-threatening, secret and he's glad to keep it most of the time. It's just sometimes he wonders.
Is there a reality out there where everyone knows? Where they're like a British Fantastic Four - minus the skin tight suits and the superpowers (but he wouldn't mind some leather) – saving the world every other day.
He can picture it: names flashed across the papers with regularity - luckily his is a decent enough name for a hero, really it could only be better if it was Templar, but Nick might have to rethink Cutter, it suits villains better. Plus there'd be more free tech and gadgetry than he could shake a fist at via “celebrity” endorsement – he likes the sound of that because when have geeks been celebrities before? Oh and maybe there'd be cheap figurines of them, probably made in China and not looking a thing like him. Probably wouldn't put off the fan mail though, nor the requisite hordes of admirers you had to get for being a hero.
Of course the downside would be paparazzi and all the admirers...who'd be after Abby. They'd never get a moments peace. Maybe, after consideration, he can concede it wouldn't be all it's cracked up to be in his imagination. Next time he sees Jenny he tries to open the door for her - out of gratitude, figures he should keep her happy so she doesn't quit, he doesn't trust Leek is as good as her - but all he gets for the effort is a curious stare that turns rapidly into defensiveness because she thinks he wants a favour. The problem with explaining is he can't really admit to the actual reason without looking foolish, so instead he blurts out the the first excuse that comes to mind.
“You look really...nice today.”
Jenny does a double-take at the words, before a smile appears on her face. It was as if she'd never have expected that to be said by him... Only then she starts blushing a little and she appears to be resisting the urge to laugh.
“That's very sweet, Connor,” she says in a cooing voice whilst she struggles to keep an entirely serious face. “It's nice to know chivalry, whatever the reason for it, isn't dead, but I'm good to open doors on my own in the future.”
With that she sashays through the still open door and for a minute he's simply pleased to have gotten out of that tricky situation mentally unscathed, but he's mildly puzzled at the same time. He mulls over her words to the sound of her heels clacking in the distance. Then it clicks and the hand left wrapped round the door handle is suddenly withdrawn in order for Connor to use it to slap his forehead at his idiocy.
Oh god, she thinks he has a crush on her.
The door slams shut and he realises there's worse things – now he has an almost free pass to push the limits of what he can do because she'll assume he's trying to impress her or something and instead of lecturing him she'll try to let him down gently. It's not lying to let her think it's true, especially since he does sort of fancy her, so she is partially right. And she might well go easy on his suggestions she usually ridicules...
Nope, definitely not the worst outcome, even if his life is so incredibly far from his fantasy. Of course he can't help but hope Ameyo writes to him soon – penpal letters, fan mail; sort of the same...almost, right?