Spoilers: Up to the end of Season 2 finale.
Summary: A short ficlet about Lester and Nick's interaction. Slash.
A/N: Written for fredbassett, who asked for “Lester/Nick + exasperated”.Thanks to fififolle for betareading.
Lester doesn't ask why, not anymore. It could be because of Nick's strongly held beliefs, his principles, his gut feeling. It could be a favour to Helen as far as he knows, or even because the dinosaurs looked cute this week.
He's still exasperated; he makes a smart quip that notes Nick's defiance, present as always, with the appropriate scornful look that clearly states how distasteful it will be to have to explain this to the higher-ups. There might have possibly been a few more quips thrown in for good measure if the mood had suited him, but, nothing further is said or asked past the initial revelation.
He doesn't want to know, in fact it's better if he doesn't. He sleeps better and it also helps him lie more effectively when he gets reproached for “bad ARC protocols”. At least he manages to resist the urge to correct them that it's the not following protocols that is the issue. Otherwise he'd have to let up the who as well as actual whys and let's just say he likes the current personnel more than any fresh new recruits, who will gape at him when he tells them what happens here - the majority waste exactly the amount of time it takes to sign an Official Secrets Act.
Nick carries on his debriefing, ignores the sarcasm and snark with no more than a slight quirk of the lips in recognition, and walks out when he's done. Some of the people have the good nature to wait to be dismissed, Nick doesn't. Perhaps Lester should be relieved since it's not exactly a sign of good character if Leek was anything to go by.
Their interaction is neat, not truly professional, just enough to balance between antagonism and how they should behave. It is what everyone expects from them, a well-practised routine that is easy to understand and practically background noise should anyone actually eavesdrop. Sometimes they do overhear, sometimes Nick leaves the door open and it probably would be put down to his generally casual but frenetic demeanor – that's sly in precisely the way no one would see coming, because it's small and not noteworthy, and it's Cutter for God sakes.
He wonders occasionally if the man has secretly watched a myriad of spy films or TV shows, and though he won't admit to ever using the battered looking television he owns, there's always the chance Nick has learned far too well from Connor's internet habits. Whatever the reason, it works, their mask in place, the truth protected, private.
For each time Nick walks out of Lester's office, he walks back in through James' door later on, in the night. And whilst nothing further is said, plenty more is done.
They are heavy handed and messy, making for some fuss over how much this is costing him in dry cleaning and tailors repairs. Of course, it is bad form to complain too much whilst shagging but thankfully Nick tends to let James have the last word in any arguments that result, and it is invariably something along the lines of “Less talk, more action”. It is perhaps the one thing they both agree on.