Characters: Connor/Lester, Becker, Abby, Danny, Leek
Rating: PG (note, part 3 is NC-17)
Words: 5,578 (25,340 total)
Disclaimer: Not mine, as nice as it would be
Spoilers: Set in season 3, assumes knowledge of season 2
A/N: Very sincere thanks to fredbassett, for betaing this for me so thoroughly in such a short time!
Summary: Lester has been having headaches, and they're getting worse.
Previous parts: ( Part 1 ) ( Part 2 ) ( Part 3 ) ( Part 4 )
“Connor, was that...?” Abby started, pausing for confirmation before uttering the words that both of them had thought but neither of them wanted to say out loud. Connor nodded, dumbly, then touched his hand to the spot on the back of his neck which paralleled the location of the chip in Lester's.
“The chip in Lester's head... It's changed, it's smaller and less powerful, but it's the same basic mechanics. That's why it looked so familiar. Professor Cutter and I dismantled one after… You know, afterward...”
Danny looked at one of them, then the other.
“I don't suppose one of you might like to fill me in? Only I think I might have missed a chapter,” he interjected.
Abby nodded, apologetically.
“Sorry, there was this man, before you started. He worked with Lester, but he was nuts. He was collecting all the creatures to create his own prehistoric private zoo, or in the case of the future predators, an animal army,” she explained.
Connor joined in.
“And he had these little hat things, kind of like a cross between a mechanical brain slug and a fez, which he stole from the future and put into the brains of the predators so that he could order them about, only it didn't quite work how he intended and they ended up killing him.”
“Wait,” Danny interrupted. “Are you talking about that Leek bloke? That's who you heard on that goon's radio? Because he sounded pretty lively to me.”
“I guess they didn't kill him all the way.” Connor replied, sounding distracted. He looked at Lester, brow furrowed in thought.
“Connor, Leek used those things to control the future predators... Does that mean that he's able to control Lester as well?” Abby asked.
Connor shook his head slowly.
“That's what Becker thought, too, but it doesn't make sense. Lester's been supervised pretty much the whole time since the headaches started to cause him issues, so someone would have seen if he was acting really suspiciously... And it doesn't make sense with the chip, either. It's hooked into the wrong parts of his brain, for one, and it's too small. The ones Leek used for controlling the predators, they were big for a reason. The one in Lester's head is relatively tiny. It's more like it was... transmitting something?”
“You mean like a GPS?” Danny suggested.
Connor tilted his head to the side.
“Maybe, but that would be pretty pointless too. Lester's schedule isn't exactly a state secret. At least, no more so than anything else which happens here, so if all Leek wanted was to know where Lester was there are much simpler ways of doing it. It doesn't explain all the connections to the different parts of his brain though. I think...” Connor trailed off, looking at Lester.
He walked over to him, crouched down, and touched one hand to Lester's knee until Lester opened his eyes.
“I rather hope that's you, Connor.” he said.
Connor squeezed in response, then caught Lester's chin and angled his head so that he was looking directly forward.
He raised a hand directly in Lester's field of vision, then flicked his arm rapidly out to the side. Lester's eyes darted after it for a second before slowly rolling back to a resting state.
Connor cast his mind back to the hospital, where the doctor had done a more complicated version of the same test. At the time he had called it blind sight, a rare but specific symptom of cortical visual damage. The simple translation had been that, while his eyes were still working fine, as was the part of Lester's brain with received and handled the sensory inputs, those signals were getting lost before they reached the part of the his brain which let him interpret them as something meaningful.
Connor spoke slowly, as his words were still catching up with his own racing thoughts.
“I think that it's a transmitter. I think it's supposed to intercept everything he sees and hears then transmit a copy to Leek. That would give him access to all Lester's accounts and passwords, samples of his voice codes... He'd be able to log in as Lester, playback recordings of anything he's said, he'd even have every security code Lester's used since he's had that thing in him.”
“Wait, so that chip is sending data directly to Leek's computer systems?” Danny asked.
“If my theory's right, then yeah, it's never stopped transmitting.”
Danny grabbed Connor's sleeve, dragging him out of sight and hearing range of Lester. He waved Abby over to join them, whispering just loud enough for them both to hear.
“Could you hack it? Could you use that open connection to get into Leek's systems, do something to stop him?”
Connor pulled back, looking aghast.
“Are you nuts?” he whispered back, stress making his voice a little louder than Danny's had been. “This isn't just a PC we're talking about, it's not like it's got a keyboard and a monitor which I can use to see what's going on. We're talking embedded systems from the future. I wouldn't even know where to begin!”
Abby looked at him with hopeful eyes.
“It's the same sort of design as the controls he used on the predators though, right? Those things had a radio remote control. Leek used it to send them instructions. Maybe this one works the same way, and you just need to find the right signals.”
Connor chewed at his lip.
“That's all fine, but even if that does work... This isn't some mindless predator with a chip in its head, we're talking about Lester here. One wrong move, and I could fry his whole brain. I could kill him with a bad guess!”
“And Leek could kill us all just for the hell of it once he gets here. From what I heard, he wasn't exactly the poster boy for sanity before he set out for revenge.” Danny put a hand on Connor's shoulder.
“Maybe you could ask Lester what he thinks? You know, with those hand symbols you use?” Abby suggested, trying to placate him.
Connor tipped his head back in frustration.
“It's not that easy, Abby. You couldn't even have a conversation with him about your pets using those hand signals, and you want me to try and explain all of this?”
Abby just nodded. After a few seconds, Connor's shoulders slumped and he went back to Lester.
He struggled to find the words, to explain. Lester had stiffened when he had signed “Leek”, but Connor had also warned him not to speak the details out loud in case they were heard by the wrong person. After several frustrating, confusing minutes, Lester spoke.
“Connor, you're being cryptic, and I am in far too much pain to try and make sense of you right now. Can we skip the complications if I just say that I trust you to do the right thing, whatever that may be?”
Connor squeezed his eyes shut. He didn't want that decision on his shoulders, the implications for Lester were too huge, but it seemed he was left without an alternative. He took Lester's hand, made the sign for 'yes', then got to work.
Connor scrubbed at his face with his hands. The others had no idea how risky this was. He was doing the radio frequency equivalent of throwing pebbles at a fence in the dark, hoping that one of the pebbles would somehow find a hole through to the other side. Except the fence was made of paper. And if the paper got a tear, Lester would probably end up a vegetable. Okay, so as metaphors went it wasn't really one of his best, but to be fair most of his attention was on the bits and pieces of electrical equipment he'd been able to wire together from what he had on hand. Trying to hack his lover's brain and turn it into a weapon. The idea made him feel sick.
He sighed quietly and tried another signal frequency and pattern, one which felt familiar from their brief attempt at decoding the protocol for Leek's old creature control devices.
He jumped in his seat when he heard a short chattering sound, head jerking up sharply. One of the guards looked down at his portable radio, the one that Leek had so recently spoken through. He gave it a little shake, then pressed a few buttons, before returning it to its normal place on his jacket. Connor watched thoughtfully for a moment, then looked back at the various wires hooked up to a tiny micro controller on the bench in front of him. He touched the tip of one wire to the board, and the guard's radio gave another little chirp.
He adjusted a few things quickly, then touched the wire down again. The guard's radio didn't make a sound this time, but Connor felt a surge of optimism. He moved around to Lester's side.
“Hello? Can you hear me? It's Connor,” he said quietly. Lester showed no signs of responding, although Connor did draw Abby and Danny's attention.
“Connor, have you found something we can use?” Danny asked, but he was interrupted by a muddle of activity at the door.
A second later, Leek swept into the room.
There was no doubt that he was the same man, and that he had been mauled by the future predators. He bore all the marks of one who ought to have died from his injuries, with deep scars disfiguring his face and scalp, and one eye permanently closed. He was wearing loose-fitting clothes, but even that was insufficient to hide the fact that one of his arms hung limp and useless at his side. But even under all that, it was clearly Oliver Leek.
Leek presented them with a sneer, made crooked by a scar down the left side of his face.
“Oh look, Lester's merry men are all here. Or at least, all those who are left.” Leek's eyes settled on Lester, lighting up with a vicious glee. “And Sir James, such a pleasure, of course. For me, obviously, not for you... And even now you are oblivious to your surroundings, just as you always were.”
“Leek,” Connor said, not sure what he was going to say next, just wanting to distract Leek away from Lester.
“Connor Temple. I'm starting to think maybe I made a mistake in paying a pretty girl like Caroline to distract you. From what Sir James has been showing me, you're rather more inclined to drop to your knees for small-minded men in expensive suits,” Leek leered.
“Nah, I always found you pretty repulsive,” Connor replied, false bravado once again trying its best to get him into trouble.
Leek simply laughed, a strange, distorted sound from his misshapen face, eying Connor up and down.
“A shame, I suppose, but no matter. Right now, you have something else I want. A device, retrieved from the future anomaly. Perhaps you would be so good as to point me to it?”
“Why would I do that?”
“Because you want to know what it does more than anything.” Leek held up something which looked a lot like a chiseled piece of glass, about an inch thick. “Do you know what this is?”
Connor strained to look at it, but couldn't get much of an idea of what he was seeing. He shook his head.
Leek almost beamed at the admission.
“This, young Mr Temple, is an anomaly opening device. I point it towards a weak point in the fabric of time, and I dial up an anomaly. Didn't you ever wonder how I was able to acquire quite so many future predators?”
Connor was stunned. Of course he had thought about the possibility of a device able to open and close anomalies at will, but there was too much they didn't know about the anomalies and how they actually worked. If Leek actually had such a device, if he'd been using it...
While Connor mused, Leek had turned his attention once again to Lester. He waved in front of Lester's face, clapped his hands next to Lester's ears, and generally delighted in Lester's infirmity.
“It's funny. I knew the chip reacted badly in proximity to strong magnetic fields, that's why I chose Lester in the first place. Any of you would have been rendered unusable the very first time you went out in the field, but he should have been a safe bet. I hadn't reckoned on him following you out to the anomalies like a pathetic little puppy.”
“But if you can just dial up an anomaly, what do you need me for?” Connor interrupted, trying to draw Leek's attention again. “Why bring us all here, to the main lab?”
Leek wasn't ready to be distracted though. He flicked a finger at Lester's shoulder, watching him startle at the touch. Leek smiled to himself, drawing what was obviously the control device from his pocket. He pressed a few buttons, then leaned in close to Lester, so that his mouth was bare millimeters from Lester's ear.
“Hello, Sir James, it's been a while,” he said loudly.
Lester jerked away from the sudden noise, almost falling off the chair in the process. He recovered quickly.
“Leek? Well fancy that. Last I heard you were dead. I must have been misinformed. A shame, to be sure,” Lester replied.
“Clearly you are just as ignorant now as you were while I was still working here. I'm not surprised to see that so little has changed.” Leek swaggered back a few steps, so as to better address his full audience. “I was just about to explain to Connor here that there was something I needed. You see, I now have the ability to open an anomaly at any time and in any place, but selecting the destination is still something of a complication. Luckily, Sir James, while watching the ARC through your eyes I was able to identify the exact thing I needed. A metal cylinder, about so long?' He demonstrated the size with his hands. “It contains the information I need to correctly target my anomaly opener. You've been keeping it in this lab. And now you will give it to me.”
“Even if we had any idea what you were talking about, what possible reason would we have for handing it over to you?” Danny asked, speaking for the first time since Leek had entered the room. Leek looked him over.
“Danny Quinn. I can see that hiring practices are still has haphazard as ever. I don't actually expect you to give it to me, I expect Connor to.”
Connor blinked in surprise.
“Connor, I've seen and heard far more of your personal life than should be inflicted on any person, and I know how you dislike seeing Sir James in distress. If you give me the device, I'll restore him to you, in full working order. Sight, hearing, the works. He won't even have those pesky headaches any more.”
“And if I refuse?”
Leek bared his teeth in a lopsided predatory smile, and pressed his control device. Lester gave a little gasp and his whole body tensed. A soft whimper forced itself out of his mouth.
“If you refuse, things will get very uncomfortable for Sir James, very quickly.”
Connor glanced automatically at the storage container where the artifact was being kept, realizing a second too late that doing so would give away its position as readily as walking over there and picking it up. Leek's grin spread further, and he gestured to one of his guards to go and search the area. A few moments later the artifact was in Leek's hands.
“Okay, so you've got it. Congratulations. Now fix Lester,” Connor said, hoping to be able to claim some small success. Leek very obviously took the control device and placed in back in his pocket, patting the area smugly. “You promised!” Connor argued.
“I lied, Connor. Really, it's no wonder that Caroline was able to convince you so easily. In fact, I'm starting to wonder if I might have overpaid her. No, I have something far more fitting planned for Sir James.”
“You've got what you wanted, why don't you just go?” Abby interrupted, face flushed with anger.
“Oh, I have the device, certainly, but that's not all I wanted. In the anomaly detector room at this precise moment is an anomaly to the heart of predator territory. Lester watched as I fell victim to their violence, now I shall watch him experience the same fate. But unlike him, I will watch it in a direct, first person transmission. A fitting and topical revenge, don't you think?”
“A repeat performance? But then you always did lack imagination.” Lester commented dryly.
Leek glared at Lester then, hate radiating off him.
“You want imagination? Fine. Sir James, I'll give you a choice then. Walk through that anomaly now and get yourself ripped to shreds while your pretty young boy watches, or I put through each of your team members, one at a time, starting with Temple.”
“Ah,” said Lester.
Under Leek's direction, Connor attempted to undo Lester's bindings. He fumbled badly, and Lester couldn't tell whether his clumsiness was the fault of the bindings or Connor's shaking hands. After a few seconds, Lester felt the twang of the cable tie being severed. He heard, then felt Connor kneeling just to his side, and turned his still-sightless eyes toward him.
Connor's voice was as shaky as his hands as he spoke, addressing himself to Lester.
“Don't do this. Let him put me through, let him put all of us through. We'll be okay, we can see and hear just fine and we'll find cover, and then we'll find a way back. Please? If you go, you won't have a chance. If the proximity the anomaly doesn't make that chip fry your brain, being blind on the wrong side of a future anomaly will kill you just as much.”
Lester took his newly freed hands and ever so gently used them to find Connor's face, stroking a thumb along the line of his cheek bone.
“Connor, you are aware that I love you, yes?” He waited until he felt Connor nod before continuing. “That means that all of those things you're feeling about me going through the anomaly, you understand that I feel the exact same way about you going through in my place?” This took a few seconds longer, but eventually felt another tiny nod. Lester nodded with him. “Good. So with all the emotional arguments rendered moot, you understand that I have, however unwillingly, been compromised. Our best hope for surviving whatever is happening requires you here, alive, and far away from me. Do you understand?” Lester could feel the play of muscle in Connor's face, knew that he was pressing his lips together in that way he did when he was trying his hardest to be strong, but failing. Then there was another nod.
Lester tilted Connor's head towards his own, letting their foreheads touch. He could feel Connor's breath on his lips, coming in short gulps.
“Go on then, James, don't be shy,” Leek sneered. “Remember, I've been watching through your eyes for months now, there are no secrets between the three of us.”
Lester pushed his feeling of disgust and violation aside because he didn't have long. There were far more important things for him to feel. He tilted his head back so his nose brushed against Connor's.
“I think you had better kiss me now,” he said gently.
Connor needed no second invitation. Their lips met, and Lester was caught up in the strange thought that this was the last time he would ever be this close to this brilliant, wonderful man. A slow clap from Leek brought them apart again, and Lester sensed Connor stepping back.
“Very nice, almost brought a tear to my eye,” Leek mocked, wiping at imaginary moisture from his cheek. He switched to the rougher voice he used to address his henchmen. “Escort Sir James to the anomaly, then run the video feed through to here. I want to watch him get torn apart. Just like he watched the creatures tear at me.”
Lester felt a heavy hand on his shoulder, but did not fight. It would do Connor no good to see him further manhandled.
Connor's voice rang out, words tumbling over themselves in their haste. “When you get through, try to get away from the anomaly as fast as you can, because it will affect the chip. And be quiet, the predators hunt by sound. And try to find shelter, so when we Becker gets here we can...”
Every step he took made him a little more nauseous, as he moved closer to the anomaly and further from his the team.
“Don't fret, Connor. Everything will be fine, remember?”
He almost couldn't get the last few words out, as the pressure in his skull blossomed into an almost crippling pain.
“Goodbye, Sir James,” Leek's words drifted past, but they were masked by a swirling, rushing sound, then a high pitched squeal of auditory interference. He couldn't tell if he was still walking or being dragged, or even how far he was taken. The shove to his back was almost entirely unnecessary, he was falling already, through the anomaly. He fancied he heard a chatter of gunfire, then hot sticky air hit him full in the face and his hands scraped on gritty yellow sand.
And it was yellow. Even through the painful twisting of the light and the sharp whining in his ears, he could make out shapes and colours. Whether it was a malfunction in the device or whether Leek's receiver was simply out of range by a few hundred years he couldn't tell. He also didn't really care.
Connor's advice repeated itself in his head. Get away from the anomaly, stay quiet, find shelter.
He reached an arm out, dragging himself along the ground and away from the sparkling source of pain behind him. The movement sent his world spinning. Sharp spikes of light screamed across his field of vision. He gagged automatically, clawing inch by painful inch from the anomaly.
For the briefest of moments he looked up, and even through the nauseating light show he could see movement, dark gangly nightmares with bulbous heads and stick-thin limbs watching him, bat faces trained on his every move. He knew he would never make it to cover. Lester thought a silent apology to Connor, hoping that he would at least have the good sense to look away from Leek's gruesome show.
There was a loud, concussive sound, like someone driving a jackhammer into the back of his head, and Lester's arms gave out. He tried to push himself up again, but there was a weight holding him down, arms trapped in a firm grip, turning him, moving him. He tried to kick out at his monstrous captors but hit nothing. Shadows wove tendrils through his limited vision, and he lost consciousness.
The sound of gunfire was deafening. Instincts hard-won over the years involved in the ARC project had Connor on the ground out of the way of the flying bullets. He risked a look up, hoping to see Becker, or at least one of his Special Forces soldiers, but almost everything was a blur. He thought maybe he saw Leek's face, flushed red with fury, the white lines of his scars standing out in stark contrast, but if he had it was only fleeting.
Abby grabbed at his sleeve, pulling him towards the limited cover of a lab bench. He slid over to join her, both of them keeping their heads low under the uncontrolled chaos around them. Connor felt her eyes on him, and looked up at her.
“Becker's here now, don't worry. We'll find him,” Abby tried to reassure him. Connor wanted to believe her, so with lips pressed tight together he nodded, but he was so very aware of the ticking seconds. Every second they were here was another second when Lester could be getting torn to shreds.
It felt like he was waiting for hours, but it was probably less than a minute.
“Is everyone okay?” Becker called, arching his neck until he caught sight of the bright blonde that was Abby's hair, and came over to extract them from their hiding place. “Your radio cut out a few minutes ago. Did Leek find out about it?”
Connor shook his head frantically.
“No, that wasn't my radio, I had to leave that in the other lab, it was the transmitter in Lester's head. I couldn't figure out how to use it to get into Leek's systems, but I found how to change its transmission frequency, so I tuned it to you so you'd know what was happening and where we were. But Leek turned it off so Lester could hear him, and now he's on the wrong side of the anomaly!”
“Who, Leek?” Becker asked, momentarily confused. He looked over his shoulder, where one of the soldiers was inspecting the still shape of a fallen, unmoving body.
“Not Leek, Lester! Please, we have to go now! The creatures, they'll kill him, and he won't be able to see and...”
Becker gave a curt nod and signaled his instructions to his men. Leaving only the bare minimum in order to assess the wounded and count the fallen intruders, the team headed out to retrieve their lost employer.
Lester was aware of motion. It was a regular, smooth motion, not at all jarring, and there was a familiar, mechanical-sounding background rumble.
He did a mental stock take. Aside from a few aches, his pain level was lower than it had been for weeks. All his body parts still seemed to be attached, and his hand was firmly ensconced in something warm.
He turned his head to the side and opened his eyes, not sure what to expect. Certainly his vision had come back in part when he had gone through the anomaly, but that didn't really mean anything. His eyelids were stiff and his eyes dry, but after blinking a few times he saw the source of the warmth around his hand. Connor was peering at him with wide eyes.
“Connor? What...” Lester asked, then paused, surprised by his ability to hear his own voice.
“You can see me?” Connor said, hope lighting up his entire face.
“Evidently, yes. And hear you.” He replied, marveling at the sound of his words and their effect on Connor.
“Leek's control device didn't really come with instructions, so I had to guess what to do to turn it off, and I wasn't sure if I got it right until, well, now. You can really see and hear? Like normal?”
Lester blinked a few times. He had grown used to conversations happening at a much slower rate, and Connor's mile-a-minute approach to communication left him feeling a little flustered. Even so, it brought with it a warm sense of familiarity. He nodded in answer to Connor's question.
“Not wanting to sound ungrateful, but I wonder if you could explain to me why exactly I'm not dead on the wrong side of an anomaly? Preferably slowly, and using words with fewer than three syllables.”
“Oh. Um... Okay. You're not on the wrong side of the anomaly, because we brought you back. And you're not dead, because Becker has really, really good timing at rescues. He found us really soon after you left and he had like, a million guns, and Leek's dead now, and so are a whole lot of his minions, but don't worry about that because the important thing is we got you back safe.”
Lester closed his eyes for a moment.
“I see. Clearly you and I have differing definitions of the word 'slowly', but I think I follow. Dare I ask where we are now?”
Connor looked around them in confusion.
“I thought you said you could see.”
“I can, but in case you haven't noticed I'm a little disoriented. Perhaps you'd be so good as to humour me?”
“Oh, right. We're in an ambulance. You were unconscious when we found you, and even when we turned off the brain thingy. I think they'll probably be able to take it out, now that it's turned off.”
“Oh marvelous,” Lester let his head fall back to the stretcher he was strapped to. “I'm recovered, yet I'm still going back to the hospital.”
Connor squeezed his hand, then looked furtively from side to side before giving Lester a peck on the cheek.
“At least this time you'll be able to harass the staff properly,” he consoled.
It was dark. Lester's heart beat started to race, his breathing hitching in his throat. They said it was over, that he wouldn't be stuck in that interminable dark again. His hand darted to the back of his neck, where the short spikes of regrowing hair scraped at his fingers. The waterproof dressing was still there, albeit a much smaller one now than the one he had worn while he was still in hospital.
His eyes gradually adjusted to the low light from the digital clock beside the bed, and listened to his own heavy breathing. He was neither deaf nor blind. He rolled onto his side, intending to lie quietly until his heart stopped racing and he could sleep again. Instead, he came face to face with a very bleary eyed Connor.
“Hey there,” Connor said, a dopy smile accompanying his sleep slurred words.
“I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you, you can go back to sleep.”
Connor's smile spread further then.
“Good, cause that was the intention.” Connor rearranged himself under the blankets until he had an arm wrapped around Lester's neck, carefully drawing the two of them close. He drew his head back a few inches and pouted. “Your pulse is really fast. Are you okay? Should I get the car, take you back to the hospital?”
Lester shushed him with a soft but insistent kiss. Even as he withdrew, his lips lingered close enough to taste Connor's breath.
“I'm fine, I just... woke up badly. Go back to sleep.”
Connor creased his brow, pout becoming more pronounced, but acquiesced after a moment. He closed his eyes and snuggled back into the blankets, arm still draped around Lester's shoulder.
Lester just lay there watching for several minutes. He had been so sure that he would never see his lover again, and it had almost broken him.
Connor cracked open a suspicious eye.
“Why are you still staring at me?”
Lester allowed himself the indulgence of stroking a stray piece of hair out of Connor's face.
“For a while there I thought I'd never get to watch you sleep again. I'm making up for lost opportunities. You could make it a lot easier for me by going back to sleep though.”
Connor grinned. “Well, at least we confirmed that you don't just like me for my looks, or my sexy northern accent.” His smile wavered in the face of Lester's pensive expression. “Are you sure you're okay?”
“You're beautiful. I want you to know that.”
“And tomorrow you'll deny this conversation ever took place?” Connor tried to joke, but Lester's seriousness persisted. “Oh, well just you know, you're not so bad looking yourself.”
Lester stroked at Connor's hair again, drinking in the details.
“You really should go back to sleep. Remember what the doctor said, you should get plenty of rest and not exert yourself for a few weeks.”
“I don't want to sleep. Every time I close my eyes...”
“Oh,” Connor said, in the same way he did when he'd suddenly discovered the secrets to some device or other. “You're afraid of being in the dark again? Like, if you close your eyes you might open them and not be able to see again?”
Lester's averted gaze was as good a confession as he was willing to give.
“James,” Connor said, softly and earnestly. “I promise you that I will still be here tomorrow when you wake up. And so will the rest of the world, and you'll be able to see and hear it in all its glory. Trust me.” Connor watched Lester for a few moments, before pulling in close once more.
Lester felt Connor's arms wrapped around him, Connor's legs tangling with his own. He let out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding, and was relieved that Connor didn't mention how shaky that breath had been.
After a few minutes, they both fell asleep.