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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Primeval fic: Anything (and Everything)

January 19th, 2012 (06:58 am)
Tags: ,

Title: Anything (and Everything)

Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: I saw this prompt on primeval_denial from reggietate: Stephen discovers what Leek is up to, and decides to prove himself to Nick by pretending to betray him in order to infiltrate Leek and Helen’s operation. My brain came up with this. It’s mostly S1 and S2 canon from a different POV with some AU-ness at the end to make the resolution a little less tragic.

A/N 2: Beta’ed by sendintheklowns, though it’s not technically Brit-proofed. My apologies for that; I hope it doesn’t suffer too much for it. I'm open to volunteers if anyone has the time or patience to offer such services :)

Summary: If Stephen had known then, if Stephen had understood from the beginning, then maybe he would have made a different choice.



-o-

When Stephen was at university, he fell in love with Helen Cutter. It was stupid and naïve, but she was beautiful and brilliant. No one had ever given him a second look, not like she had. So when she kissed him, told him right here, right now, he hadn’t had the willpower to say no.

She was married, he knew. But it wasn’t working out; it was already over. She’d said so. Dumb sod had left her, off on some expedition. All they needed to do was file the damn paperwork to make it official.

Afterward, when he ducked his head, breathing into the cavity between her breasts, he felt full and alive, grateful for everything. “I’d do anything for you,” he promised, and he meant it, meant it more than anything.

Helen smiled down at him, stroking his head. “We’ll see, Stephen,” she purred, fiddling with his ear. “We’ll see.”

-o-

Stephen met Nick Cutter when he came back from expedition. He came into Helen’s lab, where Stephen was working under Helen’s supervision. She had almost squealed with delight, and when she embraced her husband, Stephen understood.

-o-

It had all been in order. Stephen had an acceptance letter to another university. Someplace far away from Helen Cutter and her husband.

He hadn’t told her. He told himself that it wasn’t any of her damn business but he was afraid he’d lose the courage, that she’d call on that promise he’d made and he wouldn’t have the willpower to say no.

He put the letter in his notebook and looked at it to remind himself. To tell himself what was coming, to be prepared.

Then Helen disappeared. When the investigation dried up, Nick Cutter came to him looking like hell.

“You’re Stephen?” he asked.

Stephen blinked and nodded.

“I’ve picked up most of Helen’s students for the term,” he said, scrubbing at his hair absently. He seemed to be looking for something but couldn’t find it. “So I thought we should be properly introduced.”

This would be a great time to tell him thanks but no thanks, to tell him he planned on transferring.

But Nick Cutter was standing there, looking lost, looking alone. Stephen made a promise to Helen – I’d do anything for you – and somehow he wondered if this was part of it.

Because Stephen knew what Nick was looking for – from research notes to equipment to the Helen-sized hole in his heart – and Stephen always knew just where to find it all.

-o-

Eight years passed. Stephen had been in love with Helen but Nick Cutter’s a better best friend. He learned Cutter’s quirks, became his right hand man.

At night, sometimes he still dreamed of Helen, the same promise on his lips as he gasped back to reality.

I’d do anything for you.

He was worried it was still true.

-o-

It wasn’t a hallucination.

He’d been bitten and he couldn’t feel his legs but he knew reality. He hadn’t been sure, of course. He’d seen Helen in his dreams more times than he could count.

When she kneeled down, ran a hand through his hair; when she smiled and let her fingers drift across his cheek. “Stephen,” she said, almost cooing the word just like in his dreams.

In his dreams, she held him until morning, traded promises with kisses until the sun.

This time, though, her message was for Nick. When she was done, she left him helpless on the dirty floor and Stephen remembered that it was real.

-o-

Stephen was good at half-truths. Lies of omissions were lesser sins.

So when Nick found him, when Nick picked him up and got him out, it would be easy to say nothing.

Still, the truth came out, the entire message.

Later, Stephen told himself it was for Nick’s benefit, that he deserved to know.

But his promise to Helen still weighed his tongue down, keeping him numb even after the antivenin cured him.

-o-

He might still love her; Stephen wasn’t sure. But she treated him like nothing had changed, like he was still the same schoolboy he’d been.

But it had been eight years and people change, so maybe promises do, too. If Stephen had known then, if Stephen had understood from the beginning, then maybe he would have made a different choice.

Stephen didn’t know; he thought maybe someday he’d find out.

-o-

It was foolish, maybe, to think his secret was safe. With Helen gone, he’d had a chance, but thinking she’d spare him the embarrassment now that she was back had been nothing short of stupid.

He knew Helen, after all. Smart and cunning and devoid of sympathy when her mind was made up. He could also see now that it was always about Nick, that he’d only been a ploy then, just like he is now.

Still, she stood there, beckoning. They were his words, I’d do anything for you.

He’d uttered them as a testament of love, devotion. She threw them back as a cruel carrot, a double-edged sword.

Suddenly, it wasn’t a hard choice, not like he thought, and when he let her go, he felt free for the first time in years.

-o-

It wasn’t easy, being honest. Stephen had spent eight years lying, and the guises were hard to drop. They were a part of him and he felt naked now, awkward and uncertain. No one looked at him like they used to and Stephen wasn’t sure who he was anymore.

He’d lied to all of them, so much; this was expected, he rationalised.

Though, really, he began to think the person he lied to the most was actually himself.

-o-

He wanted Cutter to trust him.

First, Stephen had to trust himself.

But Stephen’s heart was a fragile thing and his self-doubt was pervasive. Mostly, this was easier said than done.

But I’d do anything for you. Maybe the promise could still stand for someone, and Nick was all that was left.

Stephen kept it for eight years with Helen; Cutter could have just a bit more.

-o-

He wasn’t surprised to see Helen. It would have been too easy for her to walk into the past and just stay there. He had hoped somehow. Poor Stephen, always gullible.

Still, when he saw her, his heart skipped a beat and desire panged. She was coy and easy, just like when he first fell for her.

This is how he knew it was a lie. Everything she’d ever done had been for her own gain. Helen didn’t love him.

The fact that he might still love her didn’t matter, even if he wanted it to.

-o-

At work, Nick deserved to know that Helen was back, still mucking around. He deserved the truth. Stephen might tell him if he had any idea what the truth was.

-o-

When Helen showed up a second time, he realised there was more to this. It wasn’t just about making Nick jealous; Helen had a plan.

It wasn’t clear to him what Helen wanted; there had been things about Helen he’d never quite grasped. She wanted more than the simple things of life; she wanted greatness, discovery, power.

She had an angle, then. She had an angle, now. The key was finding it out before it was too late.

-o-

The pieces were hard to put together. Helen was leading him one direction and Cutter was holding things back in another. Stephen didn’t know which truths mattered and which lies were still holding. He pulled back entirely, kept himself from both of them until he could figure it out.

He was working late, half asleep in a lab at the ARC in fear of seeing Helen again, when he noticed another light on. When he walked through the empty halls, he heard Leek before he saw him.

The phone conversation was hissed and angry; something about a plan in motion, about the pieces in place. Then, Leek said the one piece that Stephen was missing:

“You know I’d do anything for you,” he said, a promise and a curse. “Anything at all, Helen.”

-o-

The rest didn’t quite fall into place, but it was someplace to start. Leek was the traitor; Helen was leveraging everything for some kind of access to the ARC and the project on a whole. To what end wasn’t clear, but he knew Helen. It wouldn’t be good.

The problem was, it was speculation. It was insubstantial and he had no actual evidence. Just his suspicions and his logic and his instincts.

None of which had any credibility anymore.

He needed a plan; he needed proof.

He needed a lot of things, but those were at least a place to start.

-o-

When Helen came back again, he realised that she needed him for her plan to work. More than that, she expected that she could use him now, even after everything, just like she had then.

The revelation was hard to bear, and he wanted to kick her out for the sake of his fledgling pride alone.

But, he didn’t. Because he could use her, just like she was using him. If Helen trusted him, he could find out what the plan was. Then, he could stop it.

Then, maybe, he could do the right thing for once.

-o-

Using Helen was an easy decision, but he didn’t understand the consequences until later. It was hard showing up to work each day and keeping the truth from Cutter. It was hard turning his back on his friends to earn Helen’s trust.

But he had to.

I’d do anything for you.

Nick was worthy of that promise, and Stephen owed him that. He could still remember the lost, wounded look in the Forest of Dean when Helen had outed them, the lonely desperate look in the arid past when Stephen had gone back for him. Stephen could remember and vowed to fix that, change that. Somehow.

Even if it meant lying and tricking. Even if it meant betraying him altogether.

-o-

It came to a head with a mammoth. His team needed backup; Helen needed him to show his loyalty.

I’d do anything,
Stephen reminded himself.

But it was still a bitter pill when he listened to her talk while his friends fought the battle without him.

He liked to think someday they’d understand, even if he knew they probably wouldn’t.

-o-

He was close. Helen was close. But he couldn’t play both sides anymore; he needed to prove his loyalty.

Provoking Nick wasn’t hard. Stephen knew exactly what to say but he still hated saying it.

Cutter’s returning punch was hard and bitter, and Stephen held his head high as he walked out, feeling the relief of a plan finally coming together.

-o-

Still, Stephen hadn’t counted on Helen holding out so long. Even with Stephen’s snooping, he came to the menagerie too late. The plan was already in motion and Stephen was nothing more than a foil. He’d been a backup plan.

When it came to a question of the three of them, it wasn’t a choice at all. He hadn’t had the time to tell Cutter everything yet, and Stephen knew he’d die a traitor in their eyes, but it didn’t matter.

I’d do anything,
Stephen reminded himself. Even if it meant letting Helen go.

Compared to that, the circling beasts were just an afterthought.

When it came to an end, his eyes never left Cutter’s.

I’d do anything, he thought, and after all this time, it was finally a promise fulfilled.

-o-

The military showed up; Stephen had taken that precaution, filling in Lester and ordering them to the site. When they stormed the room, Stephen was still breathing.

Broken and bleeding, but still breathing.

Cutter came to him, hoisting him up against his chest and cradling him until their eyes met.

The movement was jarring and left Stephen breathless, but Nick’s hands were in his hair, tears in his eyes as he looked down. “Why?” he asked, pleading and demanding as only a Cutter could.

It took effort to speak – each breath was jagged and painful, ripped from his lungs – but he pressed dry lips and made these moments matter.

Eight years and if this was all that was left, he wanted to make them count more than the rest.

And really, there was only one thing to say. “I’d do anything for you.”

Not a promise, but a fact as he took one last breath and finally let go.

-o-

When he woke, Cutter was still there.

He was tired and bent, hand clutching at the rail on Stephen’s bed as his eyes burned into Stephen’s.

“You betrayed me,” he said. “You let me believe the worst when you were the one who saved us all.” His voice caught on a sob. “You would have died for me.”

The emotions were hard to fight, pulsing through Stephen even in his weakened state. He couldn’t move – he could barely thing – but his mind was clear enough on this. Even though his throat was raw and his body was numb, Stephen could finally speak the truth without hesitation. “I had to,” he croaked, because there was more than that, but that was the only truth that mattered. “Anything. Anything for you.”

Nick leaned close, his hand closing on Stephen’s arm now. “Okay,” he said. “But this time, it has to go both ways. No arguments; no lies. Just anything.

This wasn’t a promise; this time, it was a hope. A reason to keep fighting. A reason to be.

With care, Stephen managed to nod. He felt small and weak, but not alone. “I think I can manage that,” he said, and he felt alive and full, grateful for everything.

“Me, too,” Cutter said, face splitting wide with a smile. “Me, too.”

Comments

Posted by: freddiejoey (freddiejoey)
Posted at: January 19th, 2012 01:35 pm (UTC)

Oh, this is just lovely and moving and wonderful.

Love it to bits.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2012 05:33 pm (UTC)
stephen up

I'm actually mostly relieved it didn't suck :)

Thanks!

Posted by: fredbassett (fredbassett)
Posted at: January 19th, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC)
Stephen -gun

That's absolutely fabulous! A great take on what Stephen was doing and why.

*claps paws*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2012 05:34 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

I do wish we'd gotten something more about Stephen's motivations from the actual show, especially considering how it ended up, but I guess that's why fic exists.

Thanks!

Posted by: reggietate (reggietate)
Posted at: January 19th, 2012 03:09 pm (UTC)
stephen-neckporn

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Terrific fulfilment of my prompt :-D

A lovely fic.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2012 05:37 pm (UTC)
stephen angsty

I was so worried you wouldn't like it! So I'm very relieved that you do.

Thanks!

Posted by: nietie (nietie)
Posted at: January 19th, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC)
Dial Denial new

Gorgeous. There are tears in my eyes.

Poor Stephen. That was quite a struggle. But I'm so glad that he realised Helen was using him.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2012 05:39 pm (UTC)
stephen smiles

I really do wish he'd gotten the chance to redeem himself a bit more on screen, or, at the very least, to make amends before his untimely fate. Mostly, I think I just wish he hadn't died at all!

The angst of it all will keep me writing fic for quite some time, I think.

Anyway, thanks :)

Posted by: nietie (nietie)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2012 06:22 pm (UTC)
Dial Denial new

Angst is a wonderful inspiration for fic, but I agree, I also wish he'd gotten the chance to redeem himself a bit more on screen. But it all had to lead to the scene we deny.

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: January 19th, 2012 06:22 pm (UTC)
Stephen Gun

Yay, fix-it :)
I loved intelligent Stephen and finding out that Leek was behind, even if it was by chance.
Pity that that didn't happen in the show, but then we probably would have James Murray as Billy.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
stephen's eyes

I do wish we'd gotten a bit more of intelligent!Stephen, or at the very least a bit more insight into his screwed up head in S2. I still have not fully coped with his end, but you are right. Him leaving the show and ending up on Chaos is definitely the silver lining or I might not have discovered the wonder of James Murray at all :)

Thanks!

Posted by: knitekat (knitekat)
Posted at: January 19th, 2012 09:52 pm (UTC)

Yay! Lovely look at Stephen not losing his IQ ;) and double yay for a fixit.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2012 05:41 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter

He did do some less than brilliant things in S2. Even if he had his reasons, I wanted to shake him to his senses sometimes.

Thanks!

Posted by: knitekat (knitekat)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2012 08:13 pm (UTC)

A good twack around the head would have made him see sense ;)

Posted by: clea2011 (clea2011)
Posted at: January 19th, 2012 10:02 pm (UTC)
Stephen

Lovely fic and fixit and yay for Stephen being smart :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2012 05:42 pm (UTC)
stephen hair

I'll be wanting to fix this show for quite some time, I think.

Thanks!

Posted by: talliw (talliw)
Posted at: January 19th, 2012 10:39 pm (UTC)

Poor stephen. He really had it bad. For both Cutters.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2012 05:43 pm (UTC)
stephen skeptical

Yeah, I'm pretty sure Stephen was totally in over his head when it came to the Cutters. And it ended up costing him everything.

Anyway, thanks for commenting!

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: January 19th, 2012 10:48 pm (UTC)
Blurred


////some AU-ness at the end to make the resolution a little less tragic.////

I got nervous at the 'little less tragic', but I'm happy now *G*

Thanks so much for doing this - yay for Stephen having had a plan and going to such lengths to see it through, and for him having contacted Lester to send reinforcements.

So many heartbreaking lines, and I'm so glad that Nick & Stephen are together at the end, healing, where they should be!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2012 05:44 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

There are few shows that I want to fix like I want to fix this one. The way it ended up with Cutter and Stephen was just so painful that if I don't envision a happier ending then it's just too much sometimes :)

Anyway, I'm very glad you enjoyed and LOL, I do like to think that Stephen and Cutter got a happy ending after this :)

Thanks!

Posted by: Cordelia Delayne (cordeliadelayne)
Posted at: January 19th, 2012 11:59 pm (UTC)
[primeval] connor temple

Aw, this was great! A really good twist on what Stephen was up to.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2012 05:45 pm (UTC)
stephen's eyes

I'm glad you liked it (and sort of relieved it made sense!).

Thanks!

Posted by: Celeste (celeste9)
Posted at: January 20th, 2012 10:04 pm (UTC)
primeval: team

This is brilliant. Really moving and I love the reversal of Stephen making Nick the same promise he'd made Helen. I think my favorite bit is the first section, it's such a great set-up of what's going to happen.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 22nd, 2012 05:46 pm (UTC)
stephen angsty

In a lot of ways, I think poor Stephen sealed his fate before any of it began when he first fell for Helen. Given how she came back into his life and mucked it all up again, I'm not sure he ever stood a chance.

Anyway, thanks!

Posted by: lsellersfic (lsellersfic)
Posted at: January 29th, 2012 02:35 am (UTC)
Primeval:Helen/Stephen

Clever use of of Stephen's promise to drive everything!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 30th, 2012 04:43 am (UTC)
stephen cutter

If only he'd known what he was getting into at the start.

Thanks!

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