“Have you found it yet?”
“Just a couple more places to try,” Nick muttered, bending down to check the cubby holes underneath the counter. “Hang on a sec, I think…bingo!”
He dragged the box out on to the floor, and then lifted it up on to the counter. The words ‘Lost Property’ were scrawled across one side in black marker, and as Nick started rifling through it, his expression was by turns worried and amused.
“Slim pickings, I’m afraid,” he announced after a moment or two. “We’ll have to make do with what we can get.”
He chucked a garment at Stephen, who caught it deftly, and then regarded it in horror.
“No. No way. Isn’t there anything else?”
“Only this.” Nick brandished a chunky brown sweater that looked like it had seen better days, but would nevertheless do the job.
“That’s not fair! How come you get that one?”
“Because I’m the one who went searching while you huddled on that chair looking pathetic.”
“I’m wet, I’m freezing, and I’ve just been chased by a pack of raptors. How do you expect me to look?”
Nick raised his eyebrows. “Beggars can’t be choosers, Stephen.”
“But it’s pink!”
There was no denying it. It was pink. And fluffy. The cardigan dangled from Stephen’s hand as he continued to look at it like it might bite him.
Sighing, Nick started stripping off his top, pulling the sweater over his head. “Put it on, Stephen,” he instructed, his voice slightly muffled. “You’re shivering, and if you’re not careful you’ll catch your death.”
“Yeah, well, I wouldn’t even be seen dead wearing this,” Stephen muttered, but as Nick finished pulling the sweater over his head, he saw that Stephen was following his example and taking off his soaking t-shirt, dropping it on the floor in a sodden heap and ill-naturedly shrugging into the cardigan.
Nick grinned. “It’s suits you,” he said. “I think pink’s your colour.”
“Oh, sod off,” Stephen grumbled. “It’s not funny.”
Nick’s smirk told a different story, but he wisely refrained from commenting further.
“So, do you think the raptors will find us in here?” Stephen asked, in a very obvious attempt to change the subject.”
“I hope not,” replied Nick. “The rain will make it hard to track or scent us, and so long as we keep the lights off, there will be no visible evidence we’re in here.”
“What do you think Lester will say about the bill for the broken window?”
Nick grimaced. “Maybe I won’t tell him about it. But really, we had no choice. We had to get inside somewhere. It wasn’t safe to stay out on the street.”
They fell silent after that, both wondering how long it would take Ryan and his men to deal with the raptors, and then come looking for their team-mates. They both also hoped that the soldiers would deal with the raptors before the raptors dealt with them.
Stephen was still shivering, and Nick went over and sat beside him, wrapping an arm around the other man and pulling him close in an effort to share body heat. However, he couldn’t stop his lips twitching as his eyes flicked over Stephen’s new attire again.
Stephen noticed and scowled. “Stop it! It isn’t funny.”
“But I really do think pink suits you.”
“Next you’ll be wanting me put on a matching skirt,” Stephen muttered.
One of Nick’s eyebrows rose speculatively. Stephen’s eyes widened slightly.
“No! Absolutely not! I am not prancing around in heels and lipstick, even for you!”
Nick grinned. “Now there’s an interesting image…”
“I said no!”
“Relax, I’m only teasing you. You may be hot as a man, but I think you’d make a very ugly woman.”
“And now you’re insulting me…” But Stephen was smiling slightly too, even if it was accompanied by a long-suffering eye roll. “Just promise me one thing, though.”
“That Ryan and his lot will never ever find out about this.”
There was a sudden banging from outside. “Professor? Hart? You in there?”
“I think it’s too late for that.”