After ‘Constance’s Recruitment’
“Welcome to the team, Agent Sims.” Althea reached out and slapped the red button on the console, then leant over to read the message.
“Wait, wait.” Constance held up her hands. “Wait-wait-wait. Important question.”
“It’ll have to be quick,” Althea said. “The console gets tetchy if we take too long.”
“You said no bedrooms,” Constance blurted. “So where do we sleep?”
Althea grinned and gestured around the Response Centre. “You’re looking at it,” she said. “The Quartermaster should be able to fit you up with a sleeping bag, so you just pick a corner.”
Constance frowned. “And you’ll be sleeping here too?”
“Well, yes.” Althea chuckled. “Separately, though, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
Constance’s heart skipped a beat. Was there a twinkle in Althea’s eye? Could this be It? And she’d called her ‘sweetheart’... “And what if I wasn’t worried?” the new recruit asked, amazed that she hadn’t stammered.
Althea’s expression turned serious, and she stared at Constance. “Come on, Constance,” she said. “You’re, what, twelve?”
“Thirteen,” Constance snapped. “But I’m mature for my age. What, is there an age of consent in HQ?”
Althea actually spluttered. “Not as far as I know, no,” she admitted. “But you’re still younger than it.”
“I’m old enough to kill Mary-Sues for a living,” Constance said stubbornly, folding her arms over her chest. “I think that makes me old enough to-”
“Connie.” Althea held up a hand. “No. Just… no. Not interested, not happening, not here.”
“... fine.” Constance stalked over to the console and scowled at the screen, trying to make sense of the report. “And don’t call me Connie.”
During ‘The Reorganisation’
True love was trickier than it should be, Constance decided, staring down at the unconscious man in the bed. Obviously, love at first sight had to be mutual - otherwise it would just be depressing - but how did you know if another person had fallen in love with you the instant they saw you? Take Emily, for instance - the redheaded nurse was pleasant enough towards Constance, and seemed to spend more time around her than she necessarily needed to. But was that love, or just a helpful member of Medical helping out the temp from Mary-Sues?
I mean, Constance mused, there was that time in the locker rooms. There was, in theory, a full set of changing rooms with attached showers somewhere in Medical. Unfortunately, it had been built way back, right at the heart of the maze of rooms - which meant no one had actually managed to find it for years. They’d asked Operations to build a new one, but the Wisteria had pointed out that the original was still perfectly servicable - probably.
Constance felt sure that the cold war between Doctor Fitzgerald and the Wisteria would eventually thaw in Medical’s favour, but for the moment, the nurses had to make do with what they had. That meant getting changed in the open-plan locker room, which had a solitary shower tucked into the corner.
Department etiquette said that a nurse should knock before she went into the locker room. Constance, being only a part-time nurse, hadn’t known that, and had walked blithely in on a nude Emily Newton.
I’m positive she could have moved faster than that, Constance told herself. The fact that the redhead had practically sauntered across the room to grab a towel and sensually wrap herself in it had to mean something - right?
Only she hadn’t said anything about it, then or later. In fact, she hadn’t given Constance any hints at all that she might be interested in her. It was all too confusing for a seventeen-year-old to handle.
Constance sighed, and her gaze returned to her patient. Then there was him, of course. She’d give him a pass while he was in his coma, but ‘patient wakes up, sees beautiful (Well, she vacillated, ‘adequate’) nurse, world goes into soft focus’ was a tried-and-tested way to start a relationship. And he was at least moderately handsome.
But… her gaze flickered sideways to the silver sash hanging from the bedstead, and the black cat pinned to it. How would she cope if her true love turned out to be a Guard - one of the bad guys? Maybe it would be better to be out of the room when he woke up… or maybe her love would sway him back to the side of good.
Constance sighed, rubbed her eyes, and sat back in her chair, reaching for her book. Yes, it was all much too complicated. She’d have to complain to the management.
Constance slipped into the bathroom, leaving her new partner to hover in the Response Centre, and stood in front of the mirror. She was somewhat shocked to see she wasn’t literally glowing, and that her chest wasn’t flexing with each frantic heartbeat. Maybe the mirror doesn’t work properly, she thought absently. It had, after all, been stolen from a Sue’s chambers; there was no telling what might be wrong with it. But that was beside the point.
This was It! It had to be! She was certainly old enough now, though she still cringed at the thought of her attempted flirtation with Althea in this very RC, seven years ago. And while she had for several years been somewhat dubious about the desirability of men as a general concept, this man in particular would be sharing her room. All right, that hadn’t gotten her anywhere with Althea, but Althea had known her since she was a little kid - way too young for love at first sight to have kicked in. Steve, though - he was probably already daydreaming about their life together.
Nothing wrong with a little insurance, though. Constance rummaged through what might politely be called a pile of clothes - Althea had insisted she keep at least some of her stuff out of the RC proper, and in the six weeks she’d been gone, Constance hadn’t quite circulated it all back out - until she found the bra she was looking for. It was red, with rather frayed lace, but most importantly, it gave her some truly impressive cleavage. If she combined that with the old shirt she kept around for emergencies - the one that was ever so slightly too small - and made sure to leave a couple of buttons unfastened…
A couple of minutes later, Constance was admiring the effect in the mirror. There wasn’t a lot she could do about her jeans - all her other pairs were out in the RC proper, and were all chosen for comfort rather than style regardless - but her bust, straining at the black fabric of her shirt, was now (she hoped) enough to render any man speechless. She’d added some lipstick Althea had left behind, eyeliner (a little too much, she had to admit, but not bad for a rush job), and even perfume. The overall effect wasn’t perfect, but it was far better than nothing.
Nodding in satisfaction, Constance reached back and unbraided her hair. Her friends back home had always claimed she looked better with it down, and now wasn’t the time to let a little thing like massive annoying tangles get in the way of true love. Taking one last look in the mirror, Constance turned for the door. Now all I have to do is not make a fool of myself, she thought.
Constance stepped through the portal after her temporary partner, and was just in time to catch her shoulder and arrest her fall. “You ought to be a bit more careful,” Constance said.
Aella regained her footing, nudging the fallen chair out of the way, and swallowed. “I’ll do my best,” she promised.
Constance looked at her for a long moment. She was willing to admit that she hadn’t been in the best of moods when their joint mission had started - or, for that matter, at any point during it. So she hadn’t really, properly looked at Aella yet. You could hardly fall in love at first sight if you never truly saw someone, could you?
Now she was looking, she was… underwhelmed. Insofar as she had a type, Aella wasn’t it - too skinny, too tall, and far too blonde. But, Constance reminded herself, true love overcomes all barriers. And Aella had worked with her through one of the most traumatic missions Constance could remember. So maybe she was worth taking a chance on.
“You did well back there,” she said, squeezing Aella’s shoulder. “How about a drink?”
Aella turned, incidentally moving out from under Constance’s hand. “A… drink?”
“Yes,” Constance agreed. “You know, beverages? Alcohol? An excuse not to go back to our RCs?”
Aella gestured dubiously at the cafeteria around them. “But there’s no-one here,” she pointed out.
“Scared to be alone with me?” Constance asked, trying for a teasing tone. Apparently it failed - Aella looked distinctly worried about the whole idea - so Constance shook her head and changed tack. “The Bleepka Bar should be quiet - but not,” she chuckled, “too quiet. So what do you think? Go and wipe out some memories, and see where we go from there?”
“Um.” Aella shook her head quickly. “I should get back. My partner - she wouldn’t - well, a mission might come through or something. Um. Bye.” And she turned and fled the cafeteria.
“Maybe some other time?” Constance called after her, but the only reply was the door swinging shut. Scowling, Constance aimed a kick at the chair Aella had tripped over.
“Ow! What is this thing made of?”
After ‘Brown DragonRider of Pern’
Constance looked around one last time before knocking on the door. She was reasonably sure this corridor was part of DOGA, but there were no clues as to which part. The grey door had a mount for a number, certainly, but all it contained was a torn strip of paper reading ‘... all hope, ye who...’. The previous doors she’d knocked on suggested it was in the 7200s, but given that two knocks had gotten no answer, and the third had nearly left her with a crossbow bolt through her leg, there was no-one around to ask.
This time, the shuffling feet behind the door didn’t sound like they were lining up a deadly attack. Not that that kept Constance from standing well to the side - she wasn’t stupid, after all. The door clicked open, and all Constance could see was darkness.
“Do you know what time it is?” a woman’s voice mumbled from inside the room.
“Neither does anyone else in this place,” the voice agreed, “but at least they know it’s late. Come back in the morning. Or at least in a few hours.”
“I can’t really do that,” Constance said. “I’ve got one of your agents.”
“‘Got one of’...?” The door swung open, and Constance realised that the darkness hadn’t just been an unlit room. The woman who stood in front of her had skin almost as black as her hair, and her extremely skimpy black nightdress didn’t help matters. Constance swallowed hard. She’d never had a clear idea of what her ‘type’ was, but this woman pushed all the buttons as far as appearance went. Forget all her previous false starts - this had to be what love at first sight felt like.
“You clearly don’t have anyone with you,” the woman said. “So why don’t you explain what you mean by that - and why it was worth getting me up in the middle of what I laughingly call the night?”
“Good idea,” Constance said, unable to hide the quaver in her voice. “But it’s a bit… complicated.” She blinked rapidly, and took the plunge. “Can I come in?”
“Come… in?” the woman repeated, staring at Constance as if she’d sprouted a second head. “Come in here? Into my archive?”
“... all right,” the woman said. “But don’t touch anything.”
As it turned out, the DOGA Archive was a mess of filing cabinets and stacks of paper. Terri (they did eventually manage to exchange names) got increasingly twitchy as Constance tried to find somewhere to sit, lean, or ultimately stand, and finally let out an exasperated sigh. “Look, just come into the bedroom,” she said.
Constance couldn’t keep her eyes from widening as her heart nearly leapt out of her chest. If Terri was moving this quickly, maybe it genuinely was love at first sight. “I, er, I’d love to,” she managed.
Terri rolled her eyes and pushed the door open. “At least in here you won’t keep wrecking things,” she said, walking across to perch on the edge of the bed.
Constance hovered by the door for a few moments. Now that she was sitting down, Terri’s nightdress barely came halfway down her thighs. In the dim lighting, Constance couldn’t be sure if the fabric was truly as transparent as she thought, but her mind’s eye was definitely having a visual feast.
Realising she was staring, Constance hurriedly crossed the room to sit next to Terri. “You have a lovely room,” she said, trying for small talk.
“I guess,” Terri said dubiously. “So go on - tell me this ‘complicated’ story.”
“Well, it’s Dafydd - Dafydd Illian.” Terri nodded, so Constance went on. “He just finished a big mission, and came over to talk to me about it - but then he fell asleep. I just wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to get in trouble.”
“You’re at least thoughtful about someone, then,” Terri observed. “Come to think of it, Dafydd’s been rather… cheerful these past few weeks. Are you and he…?”
Constance blinked. That wasn’t where she was expecting the conversation to go. “Me and Dafydd?” she repeated, trying to laugh it off. “No, we’re just friends. I mean, we kissed a few times, while we were avoiding a game of Truth or Dare, and I suppose we’ve had a few of what you could technically call dates since, but I’m definitely single.” She shook her head quickly. “I mean, no, we’re not together.”
Terri tilted her head and looked at her. “And yet you came all the way to DOGA to make sure he didn’t get into trouble,” she said.
“I’d do that for anyone,” Constance protested. “Except Steve, he’d deserve it. And Althea wouldn’t have appreciated it anyway. As for Aella, she’s-”
Terri held up a hand, but Constance barely noticed the interesting ways her nightdress shifted over her body with the motion. “Three things,” she said. “First, I really need to get back to sleep. Secondly, thank you very much for the interest, but I’m not looking for a relationship right now.”
Constance blushed furiously. She hadn’t realised she’d been that obvious. “I was just-”
“I’m sure,” Terri said gently. “And third… go back to your ‘friend’, Constance. I think he’ll be happier if you’re there when he wakes up.”
Constance Sims stared down at the newspaper in front of her, and marvelled at her own fury. Objectively, it was pretty clear that the report on ‘Agent Dafydd and his Many Women’ was about as truthful as a Mary-Sue’s claim to have married Legolas - but that didn’t keep Constance from feeling an irrational, jealous rage at the words on the page.
Dafydd was just a friend, she reminded herself. He had to be. She’d been on the lookout throughout their first mission, and had seen no signs of him falling madly in love with her. Yes, there had been the Maglor thing, but that had been the necessity of the Duty, not a romantic revelation.
And, all right, the kissing might cast some doubt on the idea that they were only friends, and the various get-togethers they’d had since (she refused to think of them as dates)... and she supposed there was the incident during the blackout. “But he’s still only a friend,” she told the console. “Just… one with… extras.”
Constance shook her head in exasperation and looked back at the Multiverse Monitor. ‘Surely she must be aware of her "friend's" loose sense of commitment,’ it claimed. But why would she care? It wasn’t like Dafydd was supposed to be ‘committed’ to her!
Constance took a deep breath, then let it all out in an explosive sigh. “I’m lying to myself, aren’t I?” she asked the impassive console. “It’s just… I know what love is supposed to be like. Your eyes meet across a crowded room or somesuch, you both feel this instant connection - it’s easy.
“But Dafydd? That’s not Dafydd. Sure, we got on well enough - but that was just a mission. He didn’t swoon over me, or… anything.”
She grimaced, scrunching the newspaper up in one hand. “And, all right, the kissing was nice - as, you know, practice.” A smile flickered across her face. “All right, it was nice in and of itself. And I guess I enjoy his company. And he’s good-looking, which I guess makes sense, he’s an elf. But he’s never… I never…”
The door to Constance’s RC clicked open, but no footsteps sounded on the Generic Surface. Constance knew only one person who could move that silently. She bit her lip, hard enough to draw blood, and pretended to read the paper. This was not when she needed Dafydd to show up! Couldn’t he see she was wrestling with her emotions?
In the seconds it took him to cross the room, Constance must have gone over all their interactions a dozen times. The facts were clear. There was no moment when they had suddenly fallen in love. They’d met on a mission, gotten together several times - in the cafeteria, in bars, whatever - kissed a bit, and then gone back to their previous dynamic. Love at first sight simply hadn’t happened. Which meant it couldn’t be true love - could it?
A hand touched her shoulder, and Constance folded up the paper and turned around. Dafydd stood over her, tall, ridiculously handsome… and something inside Constance leapt to see him. It wasn’t the same reaction she’d had to Terri, or Emily Newton, or Althea a decade earlier - but this time, she knew what it meant at last.
So I do love him, she mused. You learn something new every day.
“Ah, Dafydd,” she said, in response to her name - the nickname she had hated ever since Althea’s rejection, but which had never sounded more natural than it did on Dafydd’s lips. “I was just reading about you…”
Disclaimer: The Protectors of the Plot Continuum is the creation of Jay and Acacia. All agents featured belong to me or to Kaitlyn. All canonical elements are the property of their respective creators. This story is defined as ‘canon-friendly agentshipping’ - for the purposes of continuity, all non-shippy elements are deemed to have happened, while the shippy components are possible (‘canon-friendly’), but not determined to be either canonical or uncanonical.