Title: Call Me Irresponsible (aka Never Get A Lizard To Do Your Dirty Work For You)
Challenge: Easter 2007 (Option 1)
Characters: Nick, Claudia, Abby, Connor, Rex
Pairings/Ships: A little bit of Nick/Claudia
Length/Word Count: 1605
Disclaimer: I don’t own them....Bugger... (although if anyone at Impossible Pictures wants to offer me a job that’d be great...)
Short Summary: You’d think by now Abby would have learnt not to leave Connor unattended...
“I thought it was only the emergency services who worked on Easter Sunday.”
Nick smiled gently as he looked up to see Claudia walking down the stairs into his office. He had to admit that right at that moment he couldn’t think of a more pleasant distraction from some rather tedious research work. And he supposed it was Easter after all, the season of salvation.
“The way things have been going we pretty much are the fourth emergency service now,” he joked, recalling just how many times recently they’d been called out on short notice due to a strange animal sighting or unusual activity.
“Or actually the fifth,” he added after thinking about it for a moment, “Since the AA already bagged the fourth spot.”
She smiled in return as she walked to his desk, carrying a small box. He nodded at the chair, indicating for her to sit down.
“Seen a dinosaur, who you gonna call?” she suggested.
He laughed a little.
“So,” he asked, putting his pencil down and pushing the journals he was reading aside slightly, giving her his full attention, “Since we don’t seem to currently have any impending disasters this is what? Just a social call to cheer me up on a boring Sunday afternoon?”
“I’m afraid not,” she said, her sigh a little regretful, perhaps wishing she had more time in her life for social calls, “Rather in keeping with the season though, Ryan brought me these. One of his men found them near the anomaly that closed yesterday.”
She placed the box that she had been carrying on the desk between them, opening the lid and revealing a small clutch of eggs carefully packed in shreds of newspaper.
Nick frowned in surprise.
“Did you tell him you prefer chocolate?”
“Very funny,” she said dryly, “Do you know what they are?”
She rolled her eyes a little, shaking her head, “Well I’m so glad I consulted an expert.”
“They are reptile eggs,” he confirmed, deciding to stop winding her up, “They could be native I suppose but what with them being found in such close proximity to the anomaly there’s always a chance...”
“That they’re teeny, tiny dinosaurs,” she finished.
He nodded. “Something like that. What are you going to do with them?”
“Well, Lester suggested omelettes...”
Nick raised an eyebrow.
“The anomaly’s closed so we can’t just put them back,” Claudia continued, obviously looking for a more humane solution than the one her boss had suggested, “So that’s why I thought I’d ask you – don’t suppose you fancy adopting a bunch of prehistoric lizards, do you?”
“ Being a single parent wasn’t exactly what I had in mind,” he joked, before his face grew a little more thoughtful as something struck him that he’d never really consciously considered before, “Probably a good thing then that Helen and I didn’t have kids.”
“She doesn’t really strike me as the mothering kind,” Claudia admitted, willing as always to take any opportunity to find out a little more about his past, knowing that the moments where he offered such insights were few and far between.
Nick shook his head, “No, not at all. That was one of the many things we were arguing about before she disappeared.”
Claudia frowned, the reason she had actually come here momentarily forgotten in light of that revelation.
“You wanted children?”
“Yes,” he said simply, “What’s so surprising about that?”
He wasn’t annoyed by her reaction, simply curious. Wondering once again what it was she thought about him. She could be remarkably deft at hiding her feelings at times.
“Nothing,” she said hurriedly, a little embarrassed, a little apologetic, “I just...It doesn’t matter. I’m sure you’d be a very good father.”
It was meant to be a compliment, a way of reassuring him that her surprise hadn’t been based on the notion that she thought he’d not be suited to fatherhood. The idea she’d consider him a potentially good father though gave him pause, leading him to a momentary vision of a pleasant future that was very premature considering that he’d barely even kissed her. Feeling uncomfortable and a little embarrassed, he hurriedly changed the subject.
“Maybe...Look, there’s a good chance in our climate that whatever’s in those eggs has already perished but if you want I could give them to Abby, see if she can hatch them.”
“That wouldn’t be dangerous, would it?” Claudia checked, obviously wanting to be absolutely sure that Abby wasn’t at any unnecessary risk. He guessed however that she was likely more than smart enough to already know the answer to her question.
He shook his head, “Size of those eggs, they’re probably only small reptiles. Shouldn’t cause any problems.”
“And what if they’re poisonous or something?”
“Abby knows what she’s doing,” he reassured.
“Okay,” she conceded, “Then what do we do with them once they’re hatched?”
“Well if they turn out to be native we can release them,” he suggested, “And if they’re something more....exotic....”
“I don’t know. Team mascots maybe?”
Connor had to admit that he’d always considered that there’d be numerous perks to staying at Abby’s flat. The fact that he’d get a legitimate excuse to sit around in his underwear playing video games however was not one he had expected.
Abby scowled at him slightly as she came down the stairs into the open plan lounge area, bag slung over her shoulder, yoga mat tucked under her arm.
“Couldn’t you put a t-shirt on or something rather than sweating on my sofa?” she asked with a slightly disgusted grimace.
“No, too hot,” he explained simply, not taking his eyes off of the screen.
“I told you,” Abby said, looking skywards, having had to put up with many similar little comments from him in the last twenty four hours, “I had to turn the thermostat up because of the eggs. It’ll only be a few days.”
“They’re in an incubator,” Connor said with a frown, “Why does that mean we have to be in one too?”
Abby whacked him gently on the back of the head with her yoga mat.
“Don’t argue okay? I know what I’m doing.”
With that she said something about going off to her class which was followed by the sound of the door closing. Not that Connor was really listening. This ‘Blood of the Devine’ level was hard – four bosses in a row was a type of cruelty that game makers should not really inflict on people.
Which was why beating them was such a cause for celebration. Victory pose, nearly throwing the controller across the room in his exuberance, head held back, arms flung out in triumph.
He really should look before flinging his arms out in the future.
And what kind of stupid place was that to leave an incubator anyway?
Hearing the clatter and releasing what he’d done, he froze. They’d be okay surely. They were reptile eggs. Reptile eggs had soft, squidgy shells.
Except, he remembered with a sinking feeling, these ones didn’t. He himself had noted that when Cutter had first brought them over. He’d taken great pride in telling the Professor and Abby that it probably meant that they were from the procolophonomorpha order of the late Permian. They were considered to be the ancestors of turtles and tortoises, one of the few reptiles that actually laid hard shelled eggs.
That was not good.
Getting up, hoping in every means and language he could remember that they were okay, he walked around the sofa in an attempt to rescue the incubator which was now lying upside down on the floor. Sure enough however as he picked it up egg was already oozing out.
This was definitely not good.
Looking around him in a panic – what was he going to do? Say they escaped? – he laid his eyes on his only possible salvation.
Opening the reptile’s cage, ignoring the creature’s curious chirping, he picked Rex up and took him over to the remains of the eggs. Just as he suspected, the little creature thought it was his birthday or something and eagerly tucked into the sticky, eggy mess, quite effectively cleaning up the evidence.
It was simple really. He’d say he’d let Rex out for a bit of exercise and then, when he had gone to get a drink – which was her fault because she had left the flat far too hot – he’d come back to find the reptile had somehow gotten into the incubator and had eaten all the eggs.
He assumed that it was a figment his own guilty conscious but Rex looked up at him then, the most innocent expression on his face, as if to say ‘look how cute I am. You couldn’t really do this to me, could you?’
Unfortunately he really could.
“I’m sorry mate,” he said, stroking Rex on the back, willing him to eat faster, “But she likes you more than me and she won’t kill you.”
He didn’t know whether Rex’s replying chirp was admonishment or agreement.
“It can just be our secret” he said, wondering how on earth he’d come to a stage in his life when he was confiding in a lizard, “Abby will never have to know, right?”
“Abby will never have to know what?”
He froze for a moment, wondering just how long he’d taken to beat those bosses and whether it was longer than your average yoga class. Apparently it was.
He slowly turned with a grimace to see the woman in question standing just inside the door way, hands on hips, glaring at him.