“I’m going to get you out of here,” Connor said, but as he attempted to get Nick to his feet, the professor cried out in pain. Not wanting to hurt him further, he stopped.
Nick looked up at him and he knew by the look in the other man’s eyes that getting him help wasn’t going to make any difference. The worst part was that Nick knew it too. He knew he was going to die.
“Just stay here with me,” Nick said quietly.
Connor sat down next to him, trying to keep the tears from his eyes as he looked at the man before him. There was a spreading, dark patch of blood on the front of his t-shirt, his face pale and smudged with soot from the fire and smoke. If he had any sense at all, Connor would be getting the hell out of here, with Nick, he thought. It didn’t seem to matter any more, though.
For a few moments, they sat in silence. Connor had gone over this so many times and every time he had chickened out. Now, he might never get another chance.
“Professor, I need to tell you something,” he began. “I wanted to before, and I should have, but there was never a good time, what with the monsters and the anomalies and then Helen and Stephen and-”
He stopped then, taking a deep breath, avoiding meeting Nick’s eyes as he blurted out,
“I-I love you. I have since you came into the lecture hall my first class and I know that you’re straight but I had to say it.”
“Connor.” The young man finally turned to look at him and Nick saw the tears shining in his eyes. “I wish you had said something. Why do you think I took such an interest in you when I didn’t with my other students? If I had seen any sign that you were interested…”
It took Connor’s mind a few moments to process what his ears had heard; Nick could see the second it dawned on him as his eyes widened and a huge smile spread across his face. Then he had an armful of Connor as the younger man hugged him. He couldn’t help but suck in a breath as a flash of pain shot through him and Connor jumped back.
Nick pushed himself up awkwardly, so that he was sitting upright, and reached out. His hand caught the front of Connor’s jacket and pulled him forward. Connor protested for fear of hurting him until Nick’s mouth closed over his. Nick felt Connor relax, lips parting to allow Nick entrance, kissing him back as he carefully moved his body closer.
Eventually, Nick drew away again, wincing as he moved. He indicated to something near to him, a long metallic object.
“Connor, I need you to do something for me. This is important, but I don’t know why. Promise me you’ll find out.”
Connor nodded and dragged it toward him as Nick fell sideways, his head resting on Connor’s shoulder.
Outside, after Becker had taken Nick’s body from him and everyone was shouting for help, Lester demanding that someone call an ambulance, Connor sat down against the wall. His knees were pulled up to his chest, arms resting on them, and he found that he couldn’t stop the tears that he had been holding back inside for Nick’s benefit.
He didn’t look up at the sound of Abby sitting next to him, only when she slid an arm around him and leaned in.
“I told him, Abs,” he said softly. She already knew how he’d felt about Cutter and he wished now that he had listened and had the courage to tell the professor how he felt earlier. “He kissed me, and then I had to watch him die.”
“Oh, Connor, I’m so sorry.” She hugged him again. “At least you got the chance to tell him, right? You were there for him; he wasn’t alone at the end.”
She was right, and he was glad that Nick hadn’t been alone as Helen had intended when she shot and then abandoned him.
Maybe in a few days or weeks that might bring him some comfort.