iEvenstarEstel wrote the wonderful "Cloudy with a Chance of Connors", in which Connor accidentally opens anomalies to 17 possible alternate timelines, leading to Abby meeting 17 other Connors. Iellix then produced "Triptych", a sequel of sorts, in which one of the alternate Connors (fondly known as EyePatch) returns, leading to interesting possibilities for Connor and Abby. On the LJ comm ConnorAndAbby, these two lovely authors decided to open up the option to all ficcers, to write stories for any of the OTHER Connors introduced in iEvenstarEstel's original tale.
In this story, we learn a little bit more about the Connor who's family moved to California when he was only ten.
Connor Temple sat on the beach, staring out over the waves at the gorgeous autumn sunset, moody and unseeing. He thoughtlessly took a pull from the beer bottle in his hand.
His friends glanced at him, but didn't try to draw him into their conversation. He'd been withdrawn and snappy for two days now, and no-one wanted to get their head bitten off again.
The wind off the water tugged at long dark hair, streaked lighter from the sun and stiff with sea salt. He'd only tossed on a tee shirt after a morning on the waves. To an observer, he appeared the perfect California boy, hair pushed back off his brow, face to the wind and waves, sitting barefoot and relaxed on the beach with a beer in hand and no worries in the world.
But Connor's thoughts were in turmoil. Two days ago, he'd woken from an afternoon nap – necessary when one gets up at four AM to surf – to stumble to the john for a leak. He walked out of his bathroom in just a pair of gaudy board shorts, and into a blinding sparkling light. When he opened his dazzled eyes, he'd found himself in a large laboratory-like room, surrounded by clones of himself, and she was there, flashing her goods for all to see.
Two and a half years ago, he and his buddies Adam and Mike had gone on the traditional 'endless summer' trip, chasing the good weather and best waves around the globe. Traveling with only their boards and hiking packs of extra clothes, they went from California to Hawaii, to Australia, then Indonesia, Cambodia, and India. They'd just about run out of money upon arriving on Madagascar. They took a room at a dive of a hotel in the capitol, and all three guys went looking for jobs, to earn enough to keep going. Connor got lucky, scoring a job as a bar-back at a resort bar. He was working the night she walked in.
The resort was popular with European tourists. She was with a group of other Brits, all of them students down for a semester study. It was the sound of her laugh that first caught Connor's attention, all bright and sweet. She was gorgeous, with a mane of sun-bleached blonde hair sweeping just below her shoulders. She wore it loose, with little braids at her temples to keep it out of her face. Her skin was the color of cream tinted with gold, not tanned, but shining, burnished.
When she came to the bar to get drinks, he got a good look at those deep ocean-blue eyes, and was utterly smitten. He had no trouble starting a conversation with her, enjoying the lilt of her accent. Her name was Abby, and she was down for 10 weeks on the study program, working on her master's degree in zoology. Her advisor was the trip's leader, a prickly Scotsman called Cutter.
The second night, she came in with fewer people, and spent more time at the bar talking to him. He found out she liked lizards. "I'm a lizard girl," she announced cheerfully, and he grinned at her enthusiasm.
She was intrigued by his lifestyle – all footloose and fancy free, never tied down, just following the waves. She was also impressed by his smarts. Though Connor had put off, and kept putting off, college, he'd read everything he could get his hands on. A childhood fascination with dinosaurs gave him a good foundation for talking with Abby about the lizards she loved. They shared stories of their lives and adventures.
They talked about their homes. She'd been surprised and delighted when he told her he'd been born in England, but hardly remembered it. "Cold," he told her. "I remember cold and rain, mostly. And some of the jerks in primary." He told her about the wide warm beaches of California. She told him about the clubs and the cafes of London.
He got her to agree to spend her day off with him. He woke her early, taking her out to the beaches to teach her to surf. They laughed and played in the waters all day. Connor loved showing her his life on the water – the pulse of the waves, like a heartbeat for the world; the dolphins, the sharks, the colorful reefs. That day they kissed for the first time, their lips tangy with the salt of the sea.
They became inseparable. He'd surf in the mornings and sleep through the afternoons, while she went off with her fellow scientists to study the rainforests. At night, if he had to work, she'd come in to the bar and sit all evening, chatting when he had a moment. After closing, they'd steal a couple hours together.
They made love on the beach at midnight, with only the glow of the moon on the waves and the distant light of tiki torches to illuminate them. The first time, he felt like he'd found a piece of his soul he hadn't known was missing. Her gasps and sighs were the best music he'd ever heard as he explored her body from her toes to her head. She in turn electrified him, tormented him, and when they came together, he thought the top of his head might just blow off. No woman before had wrung that much pleasure out of him, leaving him lightheaded and exhausted.
She shared a room with two other students; he shared his hovel with Mike and Adam. So they found their own places, secret places where they could be alone. Sometimes Connor found himself just staring into her eyes, as entranced by their depths as by the ocean itself. She'd run her hands over him softly, tracing the tattoos on his arm and wrist with a gentle finger to make him shiver.
They were drunk on each other, and the warm unreality of the island itself. He convinced his friends to stay on the island longer and longer. Every day, Abby was excited by the things she saw and learned of the forests and the lizards. Every night Connor touched her with a reverence normally kept for holy relics, his heart pounding out of control when she was near. On the surface, they kept it casual, laughing and talking, never mentioning their true feelings or the future. But both felt the burn beneath their skins, a sort of mutual gravitational pull that forced them together, making each other's company a drug, each other's touch a jolt of lightening, each other's passion the fuel to their fire.
Nae man can tether time or tide, Connor reminded himself. It was perhaps ironic that the quote from Robert Burns, a Scottish poet, popped into his head when Abby reminded him that her study semester ended in four days. They sat on a beach, a small fire burning in the sand at their feet, Abby wrapped in his arms, seated between his knees as he leaned against an old fallen tree trunk. She turned in his arms to look up at him.
"You… you could come to London, you know. You might like it." She offered up the suggestion hesitantly.
Floored, shocked by the reminder that she would leave, that he ought to move on, Connor's brain stuttered to a halt. "Not much surfing in England," he commented stupidly, flatly.
The flicker of hope in Abby's face vanished, leaving behind only a slightly sad little smile. That night, their lovemaking was bittersweet, tainted by impending separation.
Connor tried so hard to think of a way to make things work. He wanted to beg her to stay, or go with him to California. He tried to imagine life in England, a life in which he'd put away his board and settled onto the land. But they never spoke of feelings or wishes, not before, and so he couldn't begin now. He didn't know where to start. Somehow, they both knew they'd lose this what-ever-they-had, and in the brief nights remaining to them, they clutched one another, desperation seeping into their kisses.
Abby had to pack, and so Connor spent a few hours with her and her roommates, chatting idly about home and travel and what they'd learned. Her roommates smirked at each other over Abby's 'summer fling' with the American surfer boy. The surfer boy just watched Abby fold her clothes into suitcases, his heart cracking a little more with every item.
"Here," Abby said quietly, handing him a folded piece of paper. "My contact information. In case, you know, you're ever in London…"
The day Abby flew away, Connor drowned the heartbreak with as much alcohol as he could get his hands on before Mike and Adam locked him in the bathroom, to vomit out all the booze and pain.
The three Americans hopped a plane for Cape Town, South Africa three days later. Connor discovered he had a problem within a very short amount of time: every time he caught sight of a petite blond woman, he'd stare until he realized it wasn't Abby. From Cape Town, they worked their way northward to the Ivory Coast, then to the Canary Islands.
In Morocco, word caught up to them that Adam's dad was sick. They scrambled for flights, managing a convoluted trip from Morocco to London, then to New York, and home to San Diego.
Connor had groaned in horror and dismay sitting in a terminal at Heathrow when he discovered that sometime in the four months between Madagascar and Morocco, a little folded piece of paper had gone missing. He spent the entire six hour layover at a payphone, calling university after university, trying to find out if they had an Abby Maitland as a student. He still hadn't found her by the time his flight to New York was called.
In the two and a half years since Madagascar, Connor Temple never found another woman he wanted as much as he wanted Abby. Though he never talked about it, he compared every woman he met to her, and none ever made the cut. He had his share of flings and one-night-stands since, but every time, he had to bite back her name from his lips. Every time, he'd close his eyes, and the woman beneath him would become her.
Then, suddenly, surreally, one afternoon he found himself transported from his beach bungalow to a chilly laboratory, and there she was. It was like a dream. He considered the possibility that he'd fallen and hit his head. Nothing felt sore…..
Numbly, he'd followed all the other Connors to the break-room. Funny how every one of him would obey Abby without question. It didn't take long to catch on to the idea that they were all variations of him, alternate universe Connors. After all, he'd watched Star Trek as a kid.
He was alternately surprised and horrified as he looked around at the other Connors. He hid a little sneer at the version of himself in a suit. First of all, he thought he looked stupid, and secondly, if the jackass didn't shut up about his crack-berry not working, he was gonna get punched.
No one wanted to get close to the Connor in biker leathers with the eye-patch. Dude looked like serious bad news.
Most of them had shorter hair than him, which was a dumb thing to notice, but hey, if he's gonna dream or hallucinate, he gets to be stupid about it.
When Abby returned a ripple of heightened awareness went around the room. She couldn't have any idea what she did to them, to him. She started quietly talking to each Connor individually.
Connor had just about convinced himself that this was all a bad acid flashback – he knew that San-Fran stuff would come back to haunt him someday – when Abby sat down on the coffee table in front of him.
"Hi," she said softly with a smile.
You cut your hair, he wanted to say, but still trying to convince himself this was all a hallucination, he said, "Got any pot?" He could really use the chill out at this point.
She blinked. "Sorry?"
"Pot? Ganja? Weed?"
"No, I don't." Her tone carried a hint of disapproval. "Where are you from? You sound different."
You know where I'm from! His heart cried, but he answered her question casually. "California, in the States. We moved when I was ten."
She seemed interested, asking about his life. He launched into a number of stories, about surfing, about travelling the world hunting the perfect wave, about the various escapades and hijinks he and his buds got into. He didn't talk about Madagascar. He tried to keep it cool, and managed right up until she asked, "So, do you know an Abby in your world?"
His response froze on his tongue. How could he answer that? Yes, I know you. I know every curve of your body. I know how your eyes light up with excitement over interesting lizards. I know about the mole on your left hip, the spicy-sweet taste of your arousal on my tongue, the way you throw back your head when I slide into you, the way your lower lip quivers when you come around me. I know the beat of your heart almost better than the pulse of the waves.
Instead, he shrugged. "Knew an Abby once. Had a thing one summer." He forced his tone to be too careless, and her eyes narrowed.
"Just a thing?" she asked suspiciously. Connor shrugged, but obviously this Abby knew him well enough to see through it. "Miss her, do you?"
He couldn't lie. "Yeah, a little," he admitted, his voice cracking, giving too much away. She smiled then, unsurprised and sad. "Lost track of her, though."
"Well, don't worry, we'll get you back to your world soon," she assured him. He didn't want to go home – he wanted to be wherever she was. She stood and turned to move onto another Connor, then paused. She gave him an evaluating look, and then said, "You could try the Galapagos. It would be a dream job for a lizard girl."
Connor's heart jumped in his chest as she walked away. A lizard girl.
They sent him home, just like they said they could. He stepped through the light, away from Abby, and back into his crappy little bungalow by the beach, his mind completely blown by the short hours spent in another world, where a Connor and an Abby lived and worked together. He wondered if that Connor had any idea how goddamned lucky he was.
Now, the sun dipped below the ocean horizon, but he didn't see the orange and purples of another perfect California sunset. His vision was filled with bleach blond hair and blue eyes.
Absently, he took another pull on the bottle in his hand, only to discover it was empty.
"Conn?" From nearby, Mike's voice distracted him. "Dude, you ok?"
"Yeah," Connor answered, his voice a little rough. He cleared his throat harshly.
"'Nother beer?" Mike offered.
"Yeah, thanks." Connor dropped the empty to his side and took the fresh Dos Equis from Mike's hand.
"Dude, you were like a million miles away," Mike commented, obviously hoping Connor would explain why he'd been such a prick for two days.
You could try the Galapagos. It would be a dream job for a lizard girl.
Abruptly, Connor said, "What d'you think about another trip?"
"I was thinking…. the Galapagos Islands. Wave report off San Cristobal is awesome."
"The Galapagos. Yeah, that'd be cool. Y'know, Mark and Jason are looking to do something new. Maybe we can get them to cover a trip." Mark and Jason were surf-film makers they all knew.
Connor thought about it. "Yeah. Maybe they can, like, tie in a conservationist theme."
Mike nodded. "That would be cool."
Several phone calls and conversations later, a project got into motion. The filmmakers liked the conservationist angle, and managed to work their connections to secure funding. Connor, Mike, and three other surfers were hired, and weeks later on an overcast November day, they all boarded a plane for Ecuador.
Connor went though periods of nerves punctuated by periods of sheer terror. What if she wasn't there? What if she was? What if she hated him now? They'd said a sweet goodbye back in Madagascar, but he'd felt the disappointment as bitterly as she had, he knew it. He'd blown it, not promising to come to England, not contacting her again. Losing her contact information was just an excuse. What if she already had a boyfriend? What if she was married? Two and a half years was a long time.
He tried to tell himself that the other Abby wouldn't have given him the hint if she didn't think it would work out. He tried to remember that all the other Connors had had Abbys, like it was some sort of cosmic fate they be together. Unfortunately, these little mantras didn't help much.
From LA, they flew to Quinto, the capitol of Ecuador. There they changed to a charter plane to the island of San Cristobal. The trip took almost all of a day.
Connor was the only person not completely exhausted by the time they checked into a hotel on San Cristobal. His nerves and fears kept him wired. He killed time on a laptop, finding out about the various research stations on the islands. Unfortunately, the websites weren't inclined to list the names of scientists on staff.
He found out the main station was on Santa Cruz. The next morning, while most of the guys went off to scout beaches and surf, Connor slipped away to catch a ferry to Santa Cruz.
Once at the research center, he almost chickened out. He was about to turn around and leave when a brightly smiling woman asked in a thick Spanish accent, "Can I help you? You looking for tour?"
"Um, actually, I think I have a friend here. Do you have a scientist named Abby Maitland on staff? British girl, blonde hair?" Connor's heart stopped beating as he waited for her answer.
"Si! Abby! One minute." The woman picked up a phone from behind the desk. She held a chattering conversation so fast, his high school level Spanish couldn't keep up, and then she said into the phone, "Abby? There is man here says he knows you. Oh, I ask." She turned to him. "What's your name?"
He swallowed hard against the lump in his throat. "Connor Temple."
"Is Connor Temple… uh-huh." She hung up the phone and grinned. "She be right up."
Terror swept through him. What could he say? How could he explain his presence here? Hi, Abby – See, I talked to this alternate-universe version of you that made me think that maybe I still had a chance…
Minutes passed. She'd changed her mind, she didn't want to see him, she hated him, she… was coming through the door at top speed towards him!
She still had long hair, still held back in those braids. Her skin still glowed. Her eyes were still as blue as Caribbean waters. Their gazes met, and Connor's knees went weak.
"Connor." Abby breathed his name, shock and surprise on her face.
"Abby." His voice cracked with relief and longing.
She hesitated for only a second, searching his face. Whatever she sought, she found, because in the next moment she'd thrown herself into his arms, laughing as she hugged him.
"Oh god, Abby," he moaned, holding her as close as he could.
"How did you find me?" she asked.
"Galapagos. Someone told me, it would be the ideal job for a lizard girl." When she laughed again, he bought up his hand to caress her cheek. "I – I'm so sorry, Abby. I lost your contact info somewhere in Africa, and I tried to find you, I called every university I could find." He got carried away, babbling his explanations at her. "They all either said you weren't a student, or they wouldn't tell me one way or another. I should've… I should've followed you to London, I should've told you–"
Abby laid a finger against his lips, silencing him. "It's alright, Connor. You found me now."
"Abby, I love you," he blurted, unable to hold back any longer. When her eyes went wide, he continued, "I loved you then, and I've loved you since, and I can't live without you any more." When she remained silent, panic set in. "Please, please say something. Even …even if you tell me to get lost, I mean, I know it's my fault and you've probably totally moved on, and I'm just some jerk who didn't treat you as well as he should, and–"
This time she solved his babbling problem by kissing him. He nearly stumbled, the weakness in his knees compounded by the desire that lashed him from her kiss. He clutched her hips, tilting his head to deepen the kiss, moaning as she opened her lips to let him taste her. Her fingers grabbed at his shoulders and neck, tangling in his hair. He could feel her melt against him, pressing her body to his. The sweetness of it all almost broke him, and when they finally pulled apart, he could feel tears in his eyes.
Abby sighed, then grinned. "Took you long enough," she declared.
Connor gaped a moment, before grinning. "Well, you know, never did go to college."
"But I know you're a smart bloke."
"Nope, I'm a damned fool, that's what I am. Can you forgive me?"
She ran her fingers through his hair, leaning into him. "I forgive you for being an idiot."
"There isn't-" He licked his lips and tried again. "There hasn't been anyone else for me, since you."
Abby's smile warmed him to his toes. "Nor for me, either." She kissed him again. "I waited. I knew, just knew we'd sort it out eventually."
Connor let out a breath, amazed and humbled. Abby was the most wonderful woman in the world, any world. "God, I love you, Abby," he whispered.
She rubbed her cheek against his, and whispered in his ear. "I love you, too, Connor."