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Primeval fic: The Life You Save (May Be Your Own) 4/6

April 24th, 2013 (09:36 pm)
bouncy

feeling: bouncy

PART ONE
PART TWO
PART THREE
PART FOUR
PART FIVE
EPILOGUE



PART FOUR



Leek went to work.

He wasn’t sure why; he wasn’t sure what the point was. Of course, that wasn’t exactly true. He had a job, and he needed the paycheck. More than that, he knew his position at the ARC was vital to Helen’s plans.

But as he sat at his desk, looking at all his diligently completed work -- it suddenly didn’t make much sense. What was he doing? How sure was he? The ARC was a bureaucratic nightmare but was it really the bane of the future? They treated him poorly, but so had everyone else, including his mother, so what was the point?

Maybe the man was right.

But what was he supposed to do?

There were no answers, though. There were no answers in the paperwork; there were no answers from Lester. He was starting to wonder if there were even answers from Helen.

Just more questions.

-o-

Leek worked; he did his paperwork, went on calls. He managed things for Lester and worked as a liaison between the team and Home Office.

At night, he went to the facility and prepped it as best he could. As the days turned into weeks, he thought maybe this was okay. Maybe the man had been wrong. Maybe Leek had imagined the whole thing. Helen was entirely concerned with safety and the continued well-being of mankind. Helen was dutiful and dedicated and purposeful.

Maybe the entire thing had been a dream.

-o-

One night, when Leek got off late, bringing the latest computer system, Helen was waiting for him eagerly. She took him by the arm, eyes shining bright. “I have a surprise for you.”

Leek put his equipment down. “A surprise?” he asked hopefully. “Really?”

“You’re going to love it,” she told him, leading him down the hallway.

He chuckled. “I feel silly,” he said. “I haven’t got you anything.”

“This is more than enough for both of us,” she said.

He smiled in anticipation as she led him into the menagerie. But when he came in, past the filled cages, his stomach went cold. There was a new cell filled, the creature stalking through it, watching Leek with keen, knowing eyes.

He swallowed, mouth going dry. “Is that...?”

Helen beamed. “It is,” she said. “It wasn’t easy, but I thought it’d be the perfect addition. The anomalies aren’t just gateways to the past, after all.”

Leek licked his dry lips. “So it’s a...”

“Future Predator,” she said. “Hopefully the first of many.”

-o-

A Future Predator.

He’d read the file, of course. He’d seen pictures. He’d been new enough during the ARC’s first encounter that he hadn’t seen more than that. Up close, they were even more terrifying than the team had described them. They were clearly intelligent and horrifyingly sentient. Leek had never expected...

It was just like Hart had said.

Has she brought back a Future Predator yet?

And now, she had.

And now she had.

-o-

Leek didn’t know what to do.

Helen was more excited than ever, clearly energized about how close their endgame was. She talked about weeks now, not months, before they’d finally be ready to make their play.

At the ARC, Lester’s wrath was unforgiving. The team was barely functional, and they had more near misses than not.

Part of Leek wanted to back out, but there was no good way to do that.

Of course, there was no good way to do anything at all.

You have to decide.

Except all the choices were bad.

-o-

When Jenny stopped by his office, she had to knock a good twenty seconds before Leek realized someone was at the door. Inside, she peered at him carefully. “Are you sure you’re all right?” she asked.

He feigned a smile. “Of course.”

She did not seem convinced. “You don’t seem it,” she said

Leek had nothing he could say.

“The whole team is a mess right now,” she continued with a small shake of her head. “I’ve always appreciated that I can trust you to get the job done.”

A compliment -- such a rare and fragile thing. He’d wanted one so long, and now that he got one, it made him want to cry. Because he was betraying her -- he was betraying all of them, day by day.

“I’m not sure I’m really the person you think I am,” he said thickly.

She chuckled dryly. “Are any of us? Cutter’s holding a grudge; Abby’s running around like a jealous girlfriend; Connor’s too enticed by the promise of sex -- and who even knows what Stephen is doing,” she said. “I wonder how we make it some days at all. Luck, I suppose. But it is reassuring that when it counts, we’re all on the same team. When the moment comes, we fight together.”

“Yes,” Leek said pathetically. “There is that.”

“Anyway,” she said. “If you ever need to talk...”

“Of course, I’ll let you know,” he replied.

She offered him one last smile from the door. “I keep telling myself, it’s got to get better. Right?”

“Right,” he said, hoping it was true.

-o-

At the facility, Helen was more productive than ever. They had the schedule under control, and the Future Predator was fully compliant. But each success made Leek more nervous.

“Something’s wrong,” Helen said.

He didn’t try to deny it. “I wonder sometimes,” he said. “If we’re doing the right thing.”

Her face creased with concern. “I thought we were past this,” she said. “What’s going on?”

He sighed. “Nothing,” he said. “I just...this is ambitious. If it goes wrong...”

“You’ve seen our progress,” she said. “It’s not going to go wrong.”

“But if it does--”

“We have contingencies,” she said. “Oliver, I wouldn’t ask you to do things I thought we couldn’t pull off. In a few weeks, the facility will be operational and we’ll have the leverage we need to force Lester to see our point of view. The transfer will happen seamlessly. You’ll see.”

“But if he doesn’t listen...”

“Hey,” Helen said. “It’s perfectly reasonable to be scared. But I promise you, there’s no need. I’m in complete control.” She hesitated. “More than you know. Timing is entirely on our side.”

He felt silly, but he had to know. He had to know. “How can you be sure?”

Reaching down, she pulled her anomaly detector out of her pocket. “This is more than a detector,” she said.

Leek’s stomach dropped.

“It controls the anomalies,” she continued. “I can open and close them as I see fit. Which means when we’re ready, all we have to do is push a button and we’ll create chaos that Lester can’t ignore and put pressure on him to accept our position.”

Leek’s ears started to ring, his fingers going numb.

Has she told you that she can control the anomalies?

She smiled at him. “See?” she said. “Everything is under control. Just like I said.”

-o-

Just like she said.

Leek reeled. At his flat, he couldn’t eat, he couldn’t sleep.

Just like she said.

Just like Stephen said.

All the missing details were true. She’d brought back a Future Predator. She could control the anomalies. Hart hadn’t been lying about that.

And if he hadn’t been lying about the rest...

Then Leek had sold his soul to the devil -- and offered the ARC as collateral.

With the whole bloody world in the balance.

-o-

He got sloppy. Maybe he was just tired; maybe he was doubting. Either way, his work was a mess. His paperwork at the ARC was shoddily done, and his efforts for Helen were lackluster. He had no news to report from Caroline, and Helen was growing restless.

“I’m just not sure,” he tried to explain, not for the first time.

She’d always been patient with him, listening to him and hearing him out. Her reassurances still meant something.

But this time, her eyes darkened. “It’s a bit late in the game for that.”

“Maybe we should wait,” he suggested.

Just that fast, her face hardened. “I’m not going to wait,” she said curtly. “Not when the stakes are this high.”

“But that’s the point,” Leek said. “With so much to lose, we should be careful.”

“I’m not disputing that,” she told him sharply. “With this much to lose, you should be careful. Because you’re forgetting whose name is on all the paperwork. You’re forgetting who signed the documents and siphoned millions from his employer. You’re forgetting who has lied and defied his oath and betrayed everyone who has ever trusted him.”

Leek’s insides roiled.

She leaned closer, eyes narrowed in on him. “If this falls, you will fall with it,” she told him. “I’ve held your hand through most of this, and you’ve been very helpful, but do not mistake my thanks for power.”

Her gaze was unrelenting, her posture stiff and predatory, and Leek felt his heart skip a beat as he half-wilted under her eyes.

“We can do this as friends,” she said. “Or we can do this as necessary allies. You have to pick, Oliver. The hard way or the easy way.”

His throat was tight, his chest hurt. His mind raced and his eyes stung.

“Now,” Helen said, easing back. “Any more questions?”

The words had all died on Leek’s throat, so he merely shook his head.

“Good,” she said, wiping her hands on her pants. “Now let’s get back to work.”

-o-

Leek found his attentions strained. He looked for conspiracy around every turn; he was certain that the entire thing would come crashing down at any moment. Lester would find out; Helen would up the ante, the Hart from the future would be right about everything.

At the ARC, he was short with the team -- he had no patience for their overly inflated sense of importance. They had no idea. Cutter balked and Lester sniveled and the rest followed after when they were nothing more than pawns in a chess game.

Caroline’s results weren’t fruitful enough. When he went to Helen, he didn’t have enough to offer her. He didn’t have enough to know if any of it would work the way she said it would.

And Helen showed no signs of slowing. When Leek wavered, she cowed him, and there was nothing he could do except keep going.

At the ARC; with Caroline; with Helen. He trusted none of them; wanted none of them, but there were no other options.

Every night when he gave the creatures their last snack, he stood in the middle of the menagerie and felt their eyes upon him. Sometimes he thought about letting them loose, turning off the mind control and just letting them attack.

He wasn’t sure if that would be a coward’s way out or not. He couldn’t decide anything -- the time wasn’t right.

Maybe the moment just hadn’t come.

-o-

When Helen came in one night with food, Leek knew something was wrong. She smiled at him as she poured two glasses of wine, offering him the first before taking a long sip herself.

Leek held his -- stiff and frozen -- staring at her until she said, “I think we’re ready.”

His heart stuttered in his chest. “Ready?” he asked feebly.

She nodded. “Everything is in working order.”

“There are still kinks,” Leek said. “The security--”

“Is something we can fix after the transition,” she said smoothly. “We’re at an operational stage and I don’t want to risk any further delay.”

Leek’s swallowed, the lump in his throat nearly choking him.

She was slow in her words and gentle in her demeanor, even as she continued on without hesitation. “I think I have a way to make sure Lester listens and minimize the risks,” she said, sounding positively hopeful. “What we need is a way to clear out the most experienced ARC staff, which is why I think we can time the perfect anomaly to get the team and all trained employees out of the ARC so we can do what we need to get done.”

Leek almost flinched. “The perfect anomaly?”

“Yes, I think we can arrange one to bring a Mammoth back,” she said. “It’ll do some damage but they’re not carnivores, so it will be a dramatic show of force without being overly dangerous, especially if the ARC team responds promptly.”

Leek’s breathing stuttered and he felt a fine sweat break out on his forehead. “The Mammoth alone will have Lester worried about a leak to the public, but I think we’ll need a little extra incentive,” she said.

“Incentive?” Leek asked, too aware of the waver in his own voice.

Helen nodded. “We’ll use our creatures,” she said. “Put several around London in secure facilities -- and the threat alone will make Lester want to deal with us.”

Leek shook his head. “But we’re supposed to be the good guys--”

“It’s just the threat,” Helen reminded him. “Lester won’t go easily.” This time she hesitated, wetting her lips. “Which is why we need to release one last predator at the ARC.”

“But there are civilians who work there!” he protested. He’d been prepared, he’d thought. He’d expected the worst. Did she tell you people are going to die? “Most of whom are scientists! Some of the best in the country!”

“And you forget we can control the creatures,” she said, a small tinge of exasperation on her voice. “Lester will just need to see a Future Predator in the halls and he’ll listen.”

“But the security at the ARC--”

“Is not as good as they think it is,” she said. “With the Mammoth rampaging, there are going to be plenty of gaps in the system. You won’t get caught.”

She had it all worked out. She had the plan. It was the endgame he’d agreed to, but had never understood. She talked about how it was going to be safe, about minimizing losses...but could it be that easy? Had any of it been that easy? The factors they were playing with -- they were too big to fully control. What if Hart was right...

What if this was Leek’s moment. The moment between Helen’s future and Hart’s. The future for all of them.

And Leek had to decide.

But decide what? To go along with her? To tell her no?

“It’ll be easy,” she said. “Once the Predator is in place, we’ll have all the leverage we need. And with the team at odds, they’ll be too busy blaming each other to make sense of it in time.”

Leek shook his head. “Cutter and his team aren’t stupid.”

“So we throw in a failsafe,” she said with a shrug. “If they try to track anything within the system, you can see it before they do and throw them off. I mean, if you’re really worried, we can make a mock-up explosive and attach it to the computer system. They’ll be worried about going bang and won’t have time to do anything else.”

He tried to breathe, but found his chest still tight.

She looked at him, cocking her head slightly. “Don’t get scared on me again, Oliver,” she said with a vaguely menacing air. “I’ve taken great pains to make sure that we’re safe and that no one is unnecessarily put at risk as long as they cooperate.”

“And if they don’t?”

A muscle twitched in Helen’s jaw. “They will,” she said. “I’m not going to be trifled with. That goes for the ARC -- and you.”

The threat was there, and Leek pressed his lips together. “We’ll do it together?”

The foreboding look faded, and she softened her shoulders. “Well, not exactly--”

Leek shook his head. “But we’re partners--”

“Of course we are,” she said. “But putting us together is far too much of a risk. If something happens to one of us, we need to be split up in order to ensure the other’s safety. Getting Lester to finalize a transition will take some time, and if we stay together, it’ll be too easy to take us out.”

Leek’s stomach plummeted. She’ll probably tell you that it’s not safe to put you both together.

“It’s going to work,” she said, almost like a promise. “All your hard work is going to pay off. You should enjoy the moment.”

The moment. Decisions to be made.

Because when the time comes, you’re going to have to decide. Not for Helen; not for Lester. Not for me. For you.

But Helen raised her glass, and Leek had no other options. Woodenly, he lifted his glass, clinking it to hers for the lack of something better to do.

Hart said Leek had choices.

Leek just had no idea what they might be.

-o-

Helen had plans -- so many plans -- and Leek found himself obliging every one of them. He performed tasks by rote, tackling the big and little alike. He arranged for transportation, secured sites to house the animals, and helped Helen procure the parts to make a fairly convincing facade of a bomb.

He drank bitter coffee he couldn’t taste and lived on sparse food from vending machines. His stomach hurt and his hands were shaky, but he just kept going.

Sometimes, when he was at the ARC, he found himself dozing at his desk, but Hart’s words in the park always came back to him.

You have to decide, the man said, his blue eye piercing deep into Leek’s soul. What do you really want.

But when he startled awake, Helen’s threats still came to mind and Lester’s ingratitude was always fresh. There were no good choices; just the lesser of two evils.

What did Leek want?

Mostly, he just wanted it to be over.

-o-

Everything was almost in place; Helen had timed the anomaly; the creatures were transported. Leek just had to wait for the call so he could bring in and secure the Future Predator before setting up the bomb facade. Helen promised to take care of the team, leaving him with explicit instructions to not meet privately with any of the team and suspect the worst at all times. When things got started, he was to report back to the safety of the facility and begin negotiations.

It would be that easy.

“Hey,” Helen said, reaching out and squeezing his arm. “This is what you wanted from the start.”

She was probably right. Leek couldn’t remember the beginning anymore, so he couldn’t say.

“Come on,” she cajoled. “It’s time to go.”

-o-

When it started, Leek was oddly numb. He went through the motions, upheld his end of the plan with alarming ease. He set up the bomb; he tracked the system; he got the Future Predator in place.

No one noticed.

When he made his way back up to the research labs, the team had just returned from their incursion with the anomaly. The mammoth was stowed, still stamping and bucking intermittently, but the team was otherwise preoccupied.

But not with the mammoth; not even with Leek.

With themselves -- and each other.

They had been self-destructing for a while, but as Leek stood there, he realized what was happening. This was the breaking point, the critical turn.

This was the moment.

It wasn’t just computer systems and creatures, not just plans and coups, but people. All making their choices. Doing what they thought was right and inevitably mucking it up.

Cutter finally vented his frustration, severing ties with his right hand man definitively. He didn’t listen and he didn’t share, and when he threw his punch, that was the end of that.

Connor and Abby stood by, passive and idle, even if worried. They looked like they wanted to intervene, maybe like they wanted to fix things, but they didn’t know how. At any rate, perhaps they didn’t think they could help.

Stephen Hart played all his cards and voiced all his concerns. He held nothing back, hoping for some kind of response, even if it wasn’t the one he necessarily wanted. He took the punch and when he walked out, he looked back only briefly, before walking away entirely.

Choices. To end friendships; to stand by; to walk away. To shut down and segment and close off. They’d all drawn their lines in the sand, in the staunch belief that they were right.

The problem was, they were all wrong.

Leek could see it now. With Caroline in the mix, he’d managed to cripple Abby and Connor. They couldn’t share everything, and they couldn’t stand strong together when it counted. Helen had pitted Nick and Stephen against each other, working one while alienating the other, until they couldn’t even work together.

If they’d just talked; if they’d just worked it out; if they’d just tried...

But now the moment was gone. For the team, there was no turning back and the entire thing would fall apart. It would unravel from underneath them, and Helen had promised that no one would get hurt but they were already hurt. They weren’t perfect people and the ARC wasn’t a perfect building, but if they all worked together, it might work out for the best.

The moment.

When everyone walked away, Leek was still standing there.

The last moment. This was why Hart hadn’t gone to Cutter or Abby or Connor. This was why Hart had picked him. No one else had the power he did. No one else could bring them all together -- for better or for worse.

Leek could destroy them, follow through with Helen’s plan.

Or he could fix them, heed Hart’s advice and stop this madness once and for all.

You have to decide.

And this time, Leek did.

-o-

One moment changed everything -- and nothing at all. Because Leek had resolved to stop Helen’s plan, but it might already be too late. There were too many things in motion, and with Helen’s insistence that they work apart, there was probably no feasible means to talk her down or delay her any further.

No, his only option was to alert the team and enlist some help. If he told the team that he knew about a traitor in their midst, maybe he could convince them to work with him to stop her -- maybe he wouldn’t even have to tell them his role in this. If Hart was right, Helen would cut her losses and walk away, and Leek could help clean things up from within and better gird them all from any possible future incursions from Helen’s machinations.

It was risky, but the whole thing had been risky from the start. At least this way, he could chance himself on something he knew was right.

It was right, he knew suddenly. Helen had always been too good to be true, and Leek had spent too much of his life on the losing end of things to think that this would be any different. There were no quick fixes. Men like him didn’t get revenge -- they got used. By powerful people, by beautiful people. This was why Hart’s words had haunted him all this time -- because Leek had known Hart was right from the start.

From that first night, Leek had wanted to believe and had forfeited everything to make himself commit. But if Lester would ignore him, if the team would barely tolerate him, then someone like Helen -- would use him up and leave him dry.

Even if not, Helen didn’t have what he wanted. Not really. He’d been foolish to ever think she did.

Suddenly, he wasn’t scared anymore. Suddenly, there was no more doubt. There was no anger and there was no hesitation.

Leek’s moment had come, and Leek was going to live it with everything he had.

-o-

He went to Abby and Connor first.

The pair was still standing there, which made them convenient targets. But more than that, being the junior members of the team, Leek also knew that they were probably more open to listening than anyone else. If he could convince them, they could convince Cutter, who would convince Lester. Then by the time it got up the food chain, it wouldn’t seem like Leek had much to do with anything at all.

All in all, it was a good plan.

Approaching them, he lowered his voice. “We need to talk.”

Connor laughed breathlessly, still staring down the empty corridor in shock. “Not sure that’ll do much good now.”

Leek shook his head. “It’s not about that,” he said. “Not exactly.”

Abby drew her lips together. “We don’t really have time--”

“You have to have time,” Leek said, feeling his agitation start to build. “If you don’t make time, then it’s going to be too late.”

Connor turned to look at him curiously. “Too late?”

Abby snorted. “The team’s already falling apart.”

“That’s the point,” Leek hissed. “You don’t think this is just happening on its own, do you?”

Abby’s eyes narrowed, but Connor’s face lit up. “You know something,” he said. “About the traitor?”

Leek blinked -- Helen had been right to suspect the team might be onto them. He’d always known that it was a possibility, but the sudden realization that his secret activities were not so secret...was somewhat unsettling.

He swallowed. “Yes,” he said, doing his best to stay calm. “I think I’ve worked out their plan.”

Abby shook her head. “You shouldn’t be telling us.”

Leek frowned. “But I can’t stop them alone,” he said.

“And you think we can?” she asked. “Cutter hasn’t even told us everything he knows.”

“He was going to before we got the call about the Mammoth,” Connor said. “I reckon he’s got other things on his mind now.”

“Well, we need to get our minds back on this,” he said, his desperation bubbling to the surface. “The ARC is about to be very badly compromised and if we want to stop it, we need to act.”

“Which is why you need to talk to Cutter,” Abby said. “He’s the one who will know what to do.”

“Oh, like going around and firing people?” Leek asked testily.

“You weren’t there,” Abby replied coldly.

“It got pretty heated, mate,” Connor said. “Stephen brought Helen into this.”

“And what part of Helen Cutter makes you think any of it was Stephen’s idea?” Leek asked. “Of all the bloody times--”

Abby pulled back slightly, face going hard. “If you know something about the traitor, take it to Cutter,” she said. “If he thinks there’s something to be done, we take our orders from him.”

With that, she walked off toward the holding area. Connor looked at Leek, shrugging helplessly as he inched after her.

“Don’t forget to check in with your girlfriend,” Leek muttered after him, watching as Connor turned and started after Abby, leaving Leek alone.

Holding back a curse, Leek took a breath and held it, garnering whatever strength he had. He glanced at his watch, making a face. If Abby and Connor wouldn’t help him, he’d have to take a more direct approach. The idea of it made Leek want to waffle, but there was no time for that. He’d spent weeks and months not sure what to do; he’d taken a lifetime of walking the middle of the road because he wasn’t sure which way was easiest.

Not this time, Leek decided. Not with the stakes this high.

-o-

He found Cutter in one of the labs, angrily entering data into a computer console. His shoulders were stiff and his actions were pointed -- all sure signs that Professor Nick Cutter was not feeling particularly sociable.

Given Cutter’s general demeanor, that was saying something.

Still. Leek had come this far.

Clearing his throat, he made a point of stepping heavily to alert the other man to his presence. He came closer, lingering a few feet away, waiting in vain for Cutter to acknowledge his presence.

Seeing that Cutter had no intention of being helpful, Leek gathered his wits and nodded. “I know you’re looking for a traitor.”

Cutter looked at him. “What do you know of it?”

“Just that the ARC has been compromised,” he said.

“By who?” Cutter asked.

Leek did his best not to flinch. “I -- don’t know,” he said, faltering a little on the lie. He shifted his feet, furrowing his brow.

Cutter straightened, turning fully toward Leek. “Then how do you know?”

Leek scoffed. “I am the only person around here who keeps track of any paper work,” he said. “There have been signs--”

“What kind of signs?” Cutter interjected.

“Just...suspicious signs,” Leek said, gesturing lamely. “I think something’s going to happen. Soon.”

“I’ve been trying to work that out,” Cutter told him. “But all the trails go cold.

“Well, not all the trails,” Leek said. “I believe if we act now, we can stop it from coming to fruition--”

“Stop what?

Leek hesitated. He’d known Cutter would demand answers. Anyone would. If Leek was going to stop this, he would have to be forthcoming with something. He wanted to do the right thing -- he didn’t necessarily want to hang himself. “I think Helen has something to do with it,” he finally said, his voice lilting on the name.

Cutter went still, his face freezing. “Is it Stephen, then?” he asked. “Was he working with her?”

Surprised, Leek shook his head. “I don’t think so,” he said. “Hart is reserved but he doesn’t seem like the duplicitous type.”

With a sharp laugh, Cutter’s expression was almost a snarl. “He lied to me from the start about everything,” he said. “Then he shows up late to the bloody anomaly with Helen in tow. I wanted to believe that he was just stupid enough to follow her, but if he’s been plotting--”

Leek shook his head again, more adamant. “Stephen’s not the problem--”

“Then what the bloody hell is?” Cutter snapped, yelling the words. He lashed out, hitting his hand on the counter. “He’s been talking to her for weeks, probably, and I didn’t even know it. If you say Helen’s the problem, then Stephen’s knee deep in it by now.”

“Surely you know your wife better than that,” Leek said. “If she’s involved Stephen, I suspect he hardly knows how.”

“So you’re defending him now?” Cutter asked.

“I’m merely saying that I don’t think Hart is the leak we’re looking for,” he tried to explain. “We need to do a full security sweep and lock down, if possible, alerting Lester and Home Office to a possible infiltration--”

Cutter cut him off with another laugh.

Leek stopped, hesitating. “Is this...funny to you?”

Cutter took a breath, shaking his head. “No,” he said. “None of this is funny to me. My best friend is sleeping with my wife. My wife can’t be trusted. And apparently we still have someone running around the ARC trying to ruin everything.” He shrugged. “Look around. What’s left to ruin?”

“With respect, Professor, a lot more than you think,” Leek said. “If you’d just listen--

“I’ve done enough listening today,” Cutter said gruffly.

“Oh, and you’re going to hit me now, too?” Leek asked.

The minute he said it, he knew it was the wrong thing to say. He wasn’t even sure why he said it -- it wasn’t like Cutter didn’t have some justification if half of what he said was true. And since Helen had promised to “handle” Hart, Leek was beginning to suspect it was more true than not.

Which was probably why Leek felt more sympathetic to Hart than Cutter at the moment.

Which would have been fine if it wasn’t Cutter he was trying to win over.

Cutter’s face went red, his jaw locked. “I’m done here--” he said, starting out.

“Wait,” Leek said, following after him. “The traitor--”

“Take it to Lester,” Cutter said. “I’ve got bigger things to deal with.”

Leek tried to protest, but Cutter was already gone.

Sighing, Leek stared after him. “No,” he said. “You really don’t.”

-o-

This was stupid.

That was all Leek could think. This was utterly mad. He had no business doing any of this. If he had half a mind, he would walk out of the ARC and never look back. He could get a plane ticket, leave the country, just go. Then, maybe he’d be safe.

Maybe none of this would matter.

But if he walked away now, Helen would probably still get her way -- and there was no telling what might happen. It could be for the better, he knew, but it could also be for the worst. He could still remember the sight of Hart’s mangled face in the future -- the eyepatch, the synthetic hand. That wasn’t better.

This wasn’t better. Cutter and Hart at odds; Abby and Connor not quite talking; the entire program hinged on the precipice of disaster and instead of helping, Leek had set out to topple the entire thing. For something better, he’d presumed, but there were right ways and there were wrong ways.

He’d thought he was right before; he’d thought a lot of things. But seeing everyone else make their mistakes had made him realize his own.

One moment changed everything.

Not just his perspective -- but what he was willing to do. He’d been willing to risk a lot with Helen’s plan. As much as he wanted the easy way out this time, he couldn’t. Abby and Connor had taken the easy way out. Even Hart and Cutter had. Walking away was easy.

Facing things, owning up to the truth: that took work.

That took courage.

Leek had never been one for courage. But then, one moment...

Leek knew what he had to do.

When everyone else walked away, he would walk forward -- no matter what.

-o-

Lorraine shook her head when he approached, but he merely waved her off. “This is important,” he said, moving past her desk.

“I can buzz him--”

“No,” Leek said, walking right up to the door. “I’m doing this.”

When he opened the door, Lester scowled from his desk. “I’m rather busy--”

Leek shook his head, sitting down purposefully. “This is important.”

“It’s all important,” Lester snapped. “My entire job is filled with decisions of grave implications, which is why--”

“Someone is plotting against the ARC,” Leek blurted.

For a second, Lester was frozen. Then he closed his mouth, brows knitting together. “I assume you’re going to elaborate after such an accusation.”

Swallowing hard, Leek nodded rapidly. “Helen Cutter,” she said. “She’s staging a coup.”

Lester raised his eyebrows. “A coup?”

“Yes,” he confirmed. “I think she intends to create an alternative ARC and compromise this facility so you have no choice but to recommend to Home Office to use her facility.”

Lester’s eyes narrowed. “How would she possibly hope to achieve such a thing?”

“It doesn’t matter how,” Leek said. “It just matters that she can and she has.”

“Even if she could set up an alternate site,” Lester said, “what possible leverage could she have to make me concede control over to her?”

Leek wet his lips. “I believe she has predators, sir.”

Lester looked unimpressed. “Predators?”

“She’s got her own collection -- and she’s not afraid to use them as threats against the public,” Leek explained.

Lester blinked. For a long moment, he was silent. “Tell me, Leek,” he said finally. “How is it that you came by this information?”

It was the right question to ask, of course, one Leek surely knew was coming. One he’d hoped to avoid, but no one had afforded him the easy way out in this.

He was pretty sure no such path existed for him anymore. Though, he reflected bitterly, it probably never had.

Pressing his lips together, he took a steadying breath. “Helen Cutter was in contact with me.”

The admission was simple, and with so few words, he hoped there would be some leeway in interpretation.

But the words sounded damning even to Leek.

At first, Lester said nothing. He didn’t move, eyes piercing Leek with a cynical detachment. “When?” he finally asked.

Swallowing, Leek felt his palms start to sweat. “It’s hard to say--”

Lester rolled his eyes. “Ah,” he said. “I see.”

“It doesn’t even matter now,” Leek added hastily. “The important thing is that we stop her before it’s too late.”

“Too late?” Lester asked. “Is that a threat?”

“Not from me,” Leek said. “I just want to help--”

“Which is why you’ve been gallivanting with the enemy,” Lester said.

“She’s not the enemy,” Leek tried to explain.

Lester’s eyebrows went up. “So what exactly are you warning me for?”

Cheeks burning, Leek sighed. “I didn’t know she was the enemy,” he tried to amend.

“So you have been working with her,” Lester clarified.

Leek’s frustration spiked. “You’re missing the point!”

“The point?” Lester asked. “Oh, I think I see the point.”

Leek dared to hope. “So you’ll listen to what I have to say?”

“Absolutely not,” Lester said. “I will, however, sack you immediately with no severance and no hope of ever doing work in the public sector again.”

Leek blinked, surprised. Not that getting fired hadn’t been a possibility. But...

He shook his head. “But you haven’t even heard her plan.”

“I know she’s enlisted your help, Mr. Leek,” Lester said with a wry smile. “So the chances of anything being imminently dangerous are slim.”

It was an insult, of course. Leek shouldn’t have expected anything less. But it was also completely avoiding the problem. “She’s going to act soon,” Leek said. “If you’d just hear me out--”

Lester shook his head. “I’ve heard quite enough today. I have Cutter throwing punches, team members running off, and Mammoths trampling people on the road,” he said with a melodramatic flick of his hand.

“But Helen--

“Please, don’t tell me you shagged her, too,” Lester said. “That woman is causing me enough headaches--”

“But--”

“But nothing,” Lester said, harsher now, an air of finality in his voice. “You’ve just confessed a major breach in responsibility. I never counted on you for much to begin with, but the fact that you’ve been cavorting with Helen Cutter on any level is cause for immediate termination.”

“Fine,” Leek seethed. “But you have to listen.”

“I don’t.”

“But she’s going to attack!” Leek exclaimed.

“Spare me the dramatics,” Lester said dismissively. “We’ll take it from here.”

“But you don’t know what she’s planning--”

“Worldwide domination? Sleeping with every eligible man on my staff?” Lester asked sarcastically. “I think we can work it out.”

Desperate, Leek tried to interject. “But she has--”

“I don’t think you realize I’m being kind right now,” Lester said. “I could call the police and have you arrested.”

Leek’s heart started to hammer.

“Fortunately, I don’t think you’re a traitor,” Lester said gruffly. “I just think you’re as dimwitted as Hart, only without being nearly as much use under pressure. Now please, leave, before I change my mind.”

It wasn’t that Lester was being nice; it was that Lester didn’t believe that he was worth the effort. That Leek couldn’t have been effective enough against the ARC; the Leek couldn’t have given Helen anything of worth. Lester didn’t think Leek had the guts, nerve or capabilities to assist with anything substantial.

Even when Leek was sitting here, confessing as best he could, Lester just didn’t think Leek was capable of it.

It was a strange grace, and the epitome of insults.

It was also a death knell for the ARC. Lester would pilot his ship right into the ground.

All of Leek’s sacrifices would be for nothing. He wouldn’t stand with Helen -- and now he wouldn’t stand with the ARC.

Leek was alone.

Terribly and frustratingly alone.

No matter what Leek said, Lester wouldn’t believe him. Just like Cutter and Abby and Connor. Leek thought he could find one last ally, and instead he’d found himself on the outside -- again.

He sucked in hard, nodding and blinking fast to keep the tears at bay. “Keep your teams mobilized,” he advised. “Up the security on the building.”

“Thank you for those brilliant suggestions,” Lester said. “Things we do every day. Drop off your badge at security and I’ll send someone to your flat in a few days to finish the paperwork.”

“Please, understand,” Leek said. “If Helen has her way, you won’t do anything of the sort.”

Lester forced a smile. “I’ll take my chances.”

Leek hesitated. He’d made the choice to help, but no one wanted him. He’d drawn his line in the sand but nobody was willing to join him on the other side. Part of Leek wanted to stay and fight, to keep talking until Lester, until somebody listened.

But this was why he’d turned on the ARC. This was why he’d trusted Helen.

There was nothing for him here. He had no friends, no voice, no credibility.

Now he didn’t even have a job.

So he stood on numb legs, and shakily moved toward the door. He hesitated, looking back, but Lester was already busily back at work, as if Leek had been nothing more than an inconvenience.

Like Stephen, like Cutter, like Abby and Connor -- Leek finally walked away.

-o-

In his car, Leek realized what he had done.

Not only had he got himself sacked, but he’d left the ARC with no means of re-entry. While a Future Predator lay in wait and a would-be bomb sat ready to foil the trail. Leek had sided with the ARC but left all the elements in place for Helen to do whatever she wanted.

And Leek knew what she wanted.

He closed his eyes, trying to breathe. It was a difficult thing, though. In truth, he just felt sick. He was shaky, and his stomach was in knots. Sweat drenched through his shirt, and he was hit with the nagging reality that he’d just made the biggest mistake of his life.

Well, biggest mistakes. It was almost comical -- there were so many mistakes that Leek didn’t even know where to begin. That was why he’d asked for help -- he’d never been a leader. He’d rarely been one to take initiative.

Not anymore.

Because this was Leek’s moment. If no one would stand with him, he would do it on his own.

-o-

There was no easy way to undo everything, but Leek could easily avert the worst of the disaster by simply stopping the system. Helen had always planned to be located remotely -- she’d been rather vague about exactly what she intended to do -- but Leek had had a strict itinerary to follow in order to field the inevitable calls of protest from Lester to begin the process of negotiation.

If Leek didn’t do that, then the majority of Helen’s plans would be badly undercut. She would be left without backup, leaving her far less of a threat.

If Leek went to the site and disabled some of the systems, then Helen would be essentially impotent. He could start the clean up himself, and maybe things would be okay.

When he arrived at the alternate site, he felt a stir of hope. He got through the front door with no problem, and he was relieved to see that the place was mostly abandoned. With the clones out about the city staging the creatures, he’d have the time and space to get into the computer system and stop all this. At the main work console, he worked calmly and efficiently, but when he tapped in his security code to the system, it beeped at him.

Frowning, he tried again, typing more carefully this time.

It beeped again.

His heart skipped a beat and he pressed his lips together, watching his fingers with every keystroke as he typed in his password to override the security system.

It beeped one last time, before definitively telling him that log in would not be allowed.

Looking up, he realized all the systems were on and working -- and fully automated. He’d knew they’d built fail safes, but he’d never approved this.

Though, Helen had never asked. She’d never even said.

She’s not going to be by your side and when it falls apart, she will walk away. You won’t.

Hart had predicted this; Helen had used him and set up her own safety nets -- regardless of him. In spite of him. So no matter what he did, she had her way out.

And Leek had nothing at all.

-o-

There had to be another way. When the numbness receded and coherent thought started again, Leek reminded himself that this had been Helen’s plan but Leek’s heart and soul. He’d found the facility; he’d come up with the finances. He’d spent almost as much time here as Helen -- he knew the circuitry, the systems -- everything.

He’d never fancied himself equipped to do much in life, but if anyone was going to disable this, it was him.

It had to be him.

The security clearance wasn’t his only option. If he could log-in as a guest, it was possible he could at least see what systems she was running and possibly find a way to disrupt it. But every entry code he typed was greeted with the same rejection.

Chewing his lip, he thought about the things he was supposed to do. Curious, he typed a few positive commands and found that he was able to lock and unlock all the doors, control heating and cooling, and administer positive commands to the creatures.

But nothing more.

Wiping his forehead, Leek chewed his lip. He could manually shut down the system -- hell, he could just cut the wires and stop the whole damn thing -- but there was too much at risk for that. Not Helen’s plans, of course, but the creatures. They were controlled by the system; disconnecting that system would allow them to revert to their more natural state. While there was a chance they would retain some training...

Well, that wasn’t something Leek was counting on. Which meant that he couldn’t shut down the system by force without creating more havoc than he was trying to prevent. At least in Helen’s plan, no one was supposed to get hurt.

Or so she had kept insisting…

Then, an alarm blared. Curious, he turned back to the console, studying the output.

His eyes went wide. He shook his head, hoping he’d read it wrong.

Because according to Helen’s automated system, the first predator had been released.

With instructions to kill.

-o-

For a moment, he could only stare. Despite the fact that he was locked out of the systems, he still could still read the screens, which detailed the phases of the plan, step by step. What Helen had promised was only leverage was now becoming cold hard reality.

The first creature was one at the beach. Leek had scouted the location himself and shown one of the clones where to set up the truck. He’d thought the proximity to recreational areas would be apt motivation, and Helen had been quick to agree.

But it was just leverage.

It wasn’t actually going to be released. Certainly not with a kill order.

Has she told you that people are going to die?

Hart had told him. Hart had told him and he’d done nothing and now it was too late.

He closed his eyes, tears burning behind his eyes. The creature was released and he had no control over the system -- he couldn’t order it to stand down or return back home.

Then he opened his eyes, taking a shaky breath. If he couldn’t stop it from the alternate site, he’d just have to do it in person.

-o-

By the time he arrived at the beach, Leek was numb. His heart was throbbing and he could hear the blood rushing in his ears. His fingers were clammy and he could actually feel his jaw trembling in absolute terror. In truth, though, he didn’t know what scared him the most: the consequence of people dying because of his work or the idea of facing a dangerous predator face to face with no skills to feasibly stop it. He’d loaded up the car with as many tools as Helen had left behind -- a smattering of tranquilizers and one loaded gun -- but his experience with this was negligible. He’d spent most of his time around predators almost getting killed. The notion that he could help at all was fairly laughable.

And yet, still necessary.

He had to do what he could, even if that meant putting his life almost assuredly on the line. Leek didn’t have a death wish, but he also didn’t have much to live for. Lester had fired him, but once he realized the enormity of the plot against the ARC, Leek had no delusions that Lester would see him arrested.

He had to wonder, though. Prison was at least safe with regular meals and mail service. It probably beat being dead.

He could live as a condemned traitor or die as a redeemed hero.

Climbing out of the car, he reckoned his choice was clear enough.

-o-

With his bold posturing, it was a bit of a letdown to see that the beach was already abandoned. The long stretch of sand was devoid of life.

It was also a bit of a relief. Maybe Helen’s plan hadn’t worked.

Or maybe the creature had already left.

Stomach knotted, Leek pressed on, trying not to step heavily, until he saw the lone figure standing at the far end. As he approached, he frowned.

“Hart?” he called out.

The figure looked up, large weapon still in hand as he studied Leek cautiously. “I told Lester no men,” he said.

“Lester didn’t send me,” Leek assured him as he came closer. “He sent you?”

“Apparently,” Hart confirmed.

“But didn’t Cutter sack you?”

Hart’s expression went stony. “Desperate times.”

Leek shook his head, glancing around. “So have you found the creature?”

As if on cue, there was a scuffle and a growl and the scorpion darted out from underneath the pier. Leek startled, jumping and yelping, half hiding behind Stephen, who didn’t even flinch.

That was when Leek realized the creature had been secured.

“Oh,” he said. “I guess that’s a yes.”

Stephen shrugged. “I just did what I had to do,” he said. “People were going to die.”

It was a simple statement. Straightforward and honest.

Noble.

Stephen Hart had been fired, probably with cause, but here he was, doing what needed to be done because there was no one else to do it. Yes, the man had made mistakes, but maybe people were more than their worst decision. Maybe there was room for second chances.

Maybe he and Stephen Hart weren’t as different as he might have thought.

There was a reason, then, that Future Hart had come to Leek of all people. Not just because he had no other friends, but because Hart knew something of redemption, what it meant to crave it with every fiber of his being.

Hart knew what Leek wanted.

And Leek knew what he had to do.

“Look, Stephen,” he began, careful and hedging. Hart eyed him warily, but Leek didn’t stop. “I think we need to talk.”

-o-

This time, Leek held nothing back. He told Stephen about Helen, about what he had done with her. He told Stephen about her seduction, about the alternate site, about her ability to control the predators. He explained about the predators around London, about the Future Predator and the bomb at the ARC. He told Stephen that he’d tried to stop it, and realized he couldn’t.

It was as much as he’d told anyone, and he’d half expected the man to laugh him off. To ignore him. To deflect him. To act like Leek just wasn’t worth it -- just like everyone else.

But Stephen listened, his blue eyes dark and inscrutable. And when Leek was done, he drew a deep breath and pressed his lips together for a long, interminable moment.

“Helen’s been coming to me, too,” he said. “She’s the one who’s been pushing to go public. She said she was looking into the traitor at the ARC.”

“Of course she did,” Leek muttered. “Because I am that traitor.”

Stephen’s lips quirked into a rueful smile. “And looks like I joined the club.”

There was an awkward, lingering silence even while the scorpion scuttled restlessly in the sand. “I need to stop her,” Leek said.

Stephen looked at him. “No,” he said, and Leek felt his stomach sink as he thought for a horrible second that Stephen would rebuff him, too. But Stephen’s gaze was steady and he met Leek’s gaze with honesty and determination. Mostly, he looked at Leek before he said, “We need to stop her.”

Hope: it wasn’t an impossibility after all.

-o-

It was an awkward partnership. Leek agreed to go in Stephen’s car, if only because the other man was much better armed than he was. Sitting in the passenger’s seat, it occurred to Leek that he’d never ridden in the same car as one of the team in a non-official capacity.

To think, this was the closest to a social life as he’d ever had.

For his part, Stephen didn’t seem much on talking, and Leek thought it was something of a grace that Stephen didn’t need to ask about the how’s and why’s. If anyone would understand, it would be Stephen.

Then, before they could get on the road, Stephen’s mobile rang and he pulled it out, frowning, studying the screen. “It’s Helen,” he said.

Leek’s eyes widened. “She’ll probably know I’ve broken ranks,” he said. “You can’t tell her you’ve seen me.”

Stephen smirked humorlessly. “I won’t,” he said. “But if we want to know what she’s really up to, I should take this.”

It was the smart thing to do, but it still made Leek inexplicably nervous. He wasn’t even sure what their plan entailed just yet, but the idea of Helen meddling further... Well, he was to keenly aware of just how much of a threat that could be. If she suspected Stephen, then Leek would have no plays left.

They were still parked, and Stephen answered simply, “Where are you?”

He couldn’t make out Helen’s words, but the sound of her voice was still enough to send a shiver down Leek’s spine. Then, the blood drained out of Stephen’s face.

“No,” the other man said, shaking his head. The grim determination was gone; in its place, shock. “That’s not...”

Helen’s voice picked up again, without hesitation. Stephen said nothing; he didn’t move or blink. When Helen’s voice finally stopped, Stephen didn’t move.

Leek waited a moment. “Stephen?” he asked, when he was sure she’d hung up. “What did she say?”

Stephen’s hand fell from his ear, lying limp in his lap. “They’re dead,” he said hollowly. “Cutter and Abby and Connor.” His eyes turned to Leek, and the once vibrant expression had gone distant and numb. “Everyone’s dead.”

Leek’s own breathing stuttered, his throat almost closing. Hart had told him this, that people would die. That was part of the reason he was doing this.

But he’d also set up predators around the city; he’d put a bloody Future Predator in the ARC. As if he could actually stop that.

Stephen swallowed with visible effort, blinking his eyes rapidly as he breathed raggedly. “She said--” His voice broke and he winced. “She said Lester killed them.”

Just that fast, Leek’s shock and grief turned to doubt. He cocked his head. “She said...”

“Lester,” Stephen concluded with an agonized nod. He dropped his head and let out a muffled sob. “I should have been there.”

The emotion was raw and hard to watch, but Leek was struck by the sudden realization that things were not as they should be. Lester wasn’t involved in anything; the man hardly knew what was going on at all. To think that he’d be working against the team was unfeasible -- to think that he’d kill anyone was ludicrous.

So why would Helen say such a thing? Why would she offer such a bald-faced lie?

Leek’s eyes settled more carefully on Stephen, watching the bend of his shoulders as he struggled to breathe.

He could see another version of Stephen, from the future. The scarred skin had marred his looks, and the hardened look in his one working eye hadn’t been enough to squelch all the pain. Hart knew.

Helen’s good at finding what you want and using it against you.

Helen wanted Stephen’s help, for whatever reason. And she would use any leverage possible to achieve that. First, she’d alienated him from the team. And now she was using that sense of failure to fuel his further obedience. Telling Stephen that the team had been killed would make Stephen want to help whoever was left against Lester, no questions asked. His guilt at not being there would make him easily manipulated into anything.

It was brilliant.

And it was working flawlessly.

“Stephen,” he ventured quietly. “It’s not true.”

Stephen choked on a bitter laugh. “Then why would she tell me that?”

“What else did she say?” Leek asked.

He swiped a hand across his eyes. “Just to come and meet her,” he said. “She’s at the facility.”

Leek paused, considering this. Helen would have to be at the facility to orchestrate any kind of takeover. If she needed backup, that meant things were going wrong.

He chewed his lip. “Lester didn’t have the team killed,” Leek said finally. “There’s no way. He’s an arrogant bastard, but he’s not a murderer. He’s actually on your side.”

Stephen looked up at him, brow furrowed. He shook his head. “But she said...”

“She lied,” Leek blurted. “She’s lied to you all along, probably. I suspect you’ve known that deep down all along, which is why you didn’t ignore me from the start. She’s manipulating you into doing what she wants, which is apparently to back her up at the facility.”

Stephen’s face screwed up. “You think I’m so easily fooled?”

Leek’s shoulders sagged. He sighed. “No,” he said quietly. “I think she’s that good.”

Stephen looked away again, shoulders shaking as he tried to pull himself together. He sniffled, wiping his nose. “She’s not a monster,” he said, voice small. “She’s not.

“That’s what I thought, too,” Leek told him gently. “But then I realized she’s much, much worse.”

Craning his neck, Stephen eyed him once more. “You’re sure about this.”

“Stephen,” Leek said. “I betrayed my job, my boss, my coworkers and my country. All for Helen Cutter. I wouldn’t believe a single word that came out of her mouth ever again. And the only reason I know any of this is because I have experience. Way more than you.”

Stephen held his gaze, eyes still wet and red. But finally he nodded. “Either way, I guess,” he said. “We have to get to that site.”

Leek nodded. “We’ve played by her rules long enough, I think,” he said. “What do you say about finishing this our way?”

“Well,” Stephen said as he blinked away his tears and put the car into gear, “it’s not like we have anything left to lose.”

-o-

At the facility, Stephen parked before pulling out his arsenal. He shouldered a rifle for himself, packing extra ammunition, before handing Leek a handgun.

Tentative, Leek took it. “I’ve never really fired one of these before,” he admitted, feeling sheepish.

“Safety, aim, fire,” Stephen said, nodding gruffly toward the firearm. “If you get it wrong, you won’t have much time to regret it.”

“Somehow that isn’t very reassuring,” Leek said.

“You’ve just confirmed that I betrayed my friends, trusted someone out to manipulate me, and my friends may or may not be dead,” Stephen said crisply. “I think we’re past reassuring.”

Considering that Leek had stolen, falsified reports, lied, and generally committed varying degrees of treason, Stephen probably had a point. He nodded grimly. “Fair enough,” he said. “You ready?”

Stephen slammed the door shut. “Not really.”

“Me neither,” Leek said with a dour chuckle. “So, um...shall we?”

Stephen nodded, gesturing with one arm. “After you.”

-o-

It was a weird thing, leading. Leek felt conspicuous and excessively self-aware. He wondered about every little action, every small movement, thinking about how Stephen was gauging him.

It was a weirder thing, though, working with someone. That was what he’d liked most about his time with Helen -- two people, unified in purpose. He’d thought he’d been her equal.

Working with Stephen, however, he was beginning to reconsider that. Stephen didn’t order; Stephen didn’t seduce. When Stephen listened, he responded in kind. There was no ulterior motive.

The last few months felt even more like a lie.

Leek realized that maybe he had more now to lose than ever.

-o-

At the door, Leek used his code and found that the door opened without incident. To his relief, it still opened. He undid the latch, but hesitated, realizing now that running in blind would be a mistake. If Helen was in there, they had to be safe.

He made eye contact with Stephen, who seemed to know exactly what he was thinking. Stephen nodded at him, moving around to the other side of the door. He waited a beat, nodding once more before, pushing the door all the way open and moving stealthily inside.

Leek followed close behind, but let Stephen do a preliminary sweep of the entry corridor. When he was done, Stephen looked back at him.

“Where did she say she’d be?” Leek asked, looking nervously at the security camera. There was only one centralized hub with security access, and it was out of the way. The chance that Helen was there would be slim, but he also knew that he’d helped make this facility function smoothly. If Helen had rewritten the entry protocols, the system would probably alert her to his presence.

“She said she was hiding in one of the unused rooms along the north side of the building,” Stephen reported.

Those were undeveloped portions of the building, parts he’d once hoped to turn into offices or laboratories. Right now, they were still bare bones; perfect for hiding in the abandoned nooks and crannies.

“Did she say why?” Leek asked.

“Hiding from Lester,” Stephen said.

Leek chewed his lip. “She clearly wants you to think she’s in distress,” he said. “She didn’t tell you about her takeover.”

“No,” Stephen said. “Just that she wanted out.”

She will walk away. You won’t.

Leek stifled an urge to curse. “You’re her exit plan.”

Stephen looked confused.

“Things aren’t going the way she wants,” Leek said, shaking his head. “Maybe Lester’s not playing; maybe she lost control of the predators -- I don’t know. But she wants you to help get her out with no questions asked. That’s why she’s hiding when she’s the one in control. That’s why she told you the team was in danger -- she wants you to save her so she can escape and try again.”

“But what does she need to escape?” Stephen asked.

Leek shrugged. “Like I said, maybe Lester. Maybe the team worked it out,” he said.

His line of thought was shattered when there was a distant howl. Stephen tensed, bringing his gun to bear in the empty corridor.

Pausing, Leek listened and heard the sound of heavy footfalls moving away.

Stephen took a few tentative steps. “Is that...?”

There was a whine and a growl, closer now, and Leek’s eyes widened. “She did lose control,” he breathed, fresh terror washing over him.

There was a scuffle and a flash of movement across the end of the corridor. Stephen jolted and Leek felt his skin prickle.

“The predators,” Leek said, his voice dropping low. “She let out the predators.”

Comments

Posted by: knitekat (knitekat)
Posted at: April 26th, 2013 11:29 pm (UTC)

Yay for Leek trying to do the right thing and telling Stephen the truth - the only one who listened. *paws crossed*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 2nd, 2013 08:34 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

The idea of Stephen working with Leek was the original idea behind this fic -- it just took me a while to get there :)

Thanks!

Posted by: reggietate (reggietate)
Posted at: April 27th, 2013 09:32 am (UTC)
stephenonthebeach

Never thought I'd see Stephen and Leek joining forces to save the day - I hope they succeed in averting the future! *clings to edge of seat*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 2nd, 2013 08:35 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter

The idea of them teaming up was one of my original ideas with this fic -- it just took me longer than I expected to get there.

Thanks!s

Posted by: fredbassett (fredbassett)
Posted at: April 28th, 2013 12:28 pm (UTC)

Bloody hell, Leek's attempts to alert the others were positively painful in their futility. I really wanted to bang heads toegether. But I love the idea of him teaming up with Stephen.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 2nd, 2013 08:36 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

By the end of S2, everyone was such a mess. If any of them had just worked together, it probably would have ended up differently.

Thanks :)

Posted by: goldarrow (goldarrow)
Posted at: April 28th, 2013 10:04 pm (UTC)

I really loved the two most damaged characters joining forces to try to save what they could.

And I really wanted to smack the rest of the team, sit them down, and MAKE them listen. :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 2nd, 2013 08:36 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

I wanted to smack almost everyone in S2, but if anyone was going to understand Leek, it would be Stephen.

Thanks :)

Posted by: fififolle (fififolle)
Posted at: April 30th, 2013 08:07 am (UTC)
Primeval - Leek (reggietate)

Oh. My. God.
This chapter was amazing. Just the frustration of Leek not being listened to by *anyone* even when he tried to turn things around. Having him team up with Stephen is brilliant.
Really enjoying this!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 2nd, 2013 08:36 pm (UTC)
stephen and cutter

Aw, I'm so glad you liked it! That makes me really happy :)

Thanks!

Posted by: lsellersfic (lsellersfic)
Posted at: May 1st, 2013 06:46 am (UTC)
Primeval:Leek/Stephen

Oh yes! Stephen is the obvious person to join forces with!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 2nd, 2013 08:37 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

The idea of putting Stephen and Leek together was one of the original intents of this fic, so I'm glad it makes sense!

Thanks :)

Posted by: Cordelia Delayne (cordeliadelayne)
Posted at: May 6th, 2013 11:53 am (UTC)
[primeval] trio

So many people need their heads banging together! Yay for Stephen and Leek teaming up though.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2013 02:48 am (UTC)
stephen shocked

They do make an apt pair :)

Thanks!

Posted by: basched (basched)
Posted at: May 8th, 2013 12:41 pm (UTC)
Mecker02


This is amazingly powerful writing, lass. To read Leek so desperately trying to get through the team, to tell them what was going on, but to have them reject him? It was so frustrating and agonising! You've made this so emotional I was like ARGH!

But I was so pleased that Stephen was the one who listened! And shix! The predators are out!

I cannot say enough how lovely this fic is! I am getting there, but oh gosh, this is a true masterpiece! XD

*squidgy hugs*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2013 02:49 am (UTC)
stephen hair

You really are too kind :) This show was just so fraught with angst and unrealized potential -- that's why fic is so fun to write :)

Thank you so much!

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