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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Primeval fic: The Skies I'm Under (1/1)

March 30th, 2014 (08:55 pm)
accomplished

feeling: accomplished

Title: The Skies I’m Under

Disclaimer: I do not own Primeval.

Spoilers: 2.01 through the end of S2, but still a fix-it.

A/N: For kristen_mara. Beta by the always magnificent lena7142. Same old fix-it with a (hopefully) new twist.

Summary: Cutter’s holding the gun. Stephen never heard a shot.



-o-

And hold me fast, Hold me fast
'Cause I'm a hopeless wanderer
I will learn, I will learn to love the skies I'm under
-from “Hopeless Wanderer” by Mumford and Sons

-o-

Stephen can hardly move with the raptor coming at him. As it attacks, Stephen feels a rush of blood in his head and his life flashes before his eyes.

He sees his childhood, the lonely years as a teenager. He’s sharpshooting; he’s tracking large game through the jungle. He’s at university; he’s falling in love.

He’s working hard, but it’s not enough. He’s working with Cutter, but it’s never enough. All the good Stephen’s done, and Helen pulls the bottom out with one little confession.

If this is it, then at least Cutter knows. Stephen needs to say sorry, he needs to explain how stupid he was and how scared it left him, but at least Cutter knows. Stephen has a lot of regrets, but it’s nice to think of dying with no secrets left.

Dying is easier anyway. Facing life -- that’s the hard part.

So it figures that he doesn’t get eaten. Even so, it’s a near thing, and nothing but luck that saves his life.

When he gets up, Cutter’s holding the gun but Stephen never heard a shot.

“It jammed.”

All things considered, Stephen can’t help but think that’s rather convenient.

-o-

In his head, Stephen apologizes every day. He says I’m sorry every time he sees Cutter.

But when they’re face to face, the words never come. It’s like he’s stuck on repeat, reliving the same horrible moment time and again. It’s like being caught in a bad dream, and he’s tossing and turning but he can’t wake up.

There are monsters in this dream, sabre tooth cats and water creatures, but the thing that makes it a nightmare is the weight in Stephen’s chest, the words caught in his throat that never go away.

-o-

It all starts to blur together. Stephen goes to work, and he does what he has to do, but it’s getting away from him. The team doesn’t mean what it did before, and they’re all poor facsimiles of who they used to be. Like the soul’s been ripped right out.

Connor and Abby may be in love, uncertain and tentative even if everyone else can see it.

Cutter grows brusque and distant, obsessed with a woman who doesn’t exist.

Lester rubs his head wearily, and Jenny adjusts her dress as her heels click upon the floor.

Stephen goes home each night and lies in bed, thinking about how it used to be, thinking about how it should be, thinking about how this can’t be real.

-o-

When Helen shows up, he wants to throw her out. Inside, he yells and screams and rages.

He can’t make her leave.

Just like he can’t make himself hate her.

He grinds his teeth in the shower and closes his eyes, swearing to himself.

Damn it,
he thinks, curling his fists against the tile. He just wants to wake up.

-o-

Stephen chooses Helen. He wants to say no, but he can’t.

He can’t, he can’t, he can’t.

So he doesn’t.

-o-

It happens fast after that. It’s a blur of events Stephen hardly understands. He’s on a road, asking Cutter to be reasonable. He’s in a lab, getting punched and getting sacked. He’s kissing Helen in his flat, and lying alone in his bed because this isn’t his life, is it? How is this his life? It seems like yesterday he was fighting raptors in a shopping centre, joking with Cutter about better times and hopeful futures.

Nothing makes sense anymore. Nothing makes sense at all.

But then he’s standing on the wrong side of a door, saving Cutter’s life, and that’s what matters.

The predators circle and Stephen’s heart skips a beat.

That’s what matters.

-o-

The first one charges, and Stephen’s scream is caught in his throat.

Pain rips through his chest, and it’s the most intense feeling he’s ever experienced. It’s so real. It’s so horribly and painfully real.

He struggles to breathe, struggles to think, and when he opens his mouth the cry he lets out is the loudest thing he’s heard in years.

-o-

Cutter’s holding the gun.

Stephen never heard a shot.

-o-

On his back, he’s surprised that he’s still alive. Above him, Cutter is pale and terrified.

“Hang on, Stephen,” he says. “Hang on.”

It doesn’t quite make sense, Stephen thinks. This isn’t the cage room; there are no predators. He’s hurt, but he’s alive, and last he thought, he was about to be eaten.

Cutter squeezes his shoulder, trying to smile. “It’s all right,” he says. “It’s all right.”

That’s nonsense, of course. Nothing’s been alright, but for some reason, Stephen believes this. The words are real; the sentiment is clear.

It’s the first real thing in months.

Ironically, he thinks, it may also be the last.

-o-

After that, there is only dark.

-o-

When Stephen opens his eyes again, it’s a slow and tenuous thing. His throat feels scratchy, and his head feels strange. His vision is oddly haloed, and he’s stiff and sore.

He feels like he’s been sleeping forever, but as he blinks a few times, he comes to the keen realization that it’s not been so long.

He turns his head and sees Cutter, half asleep by his side. He looks weary and worn, and it takes several seconds before he realizes Stephen’s awake.

He startles, falling forward a bit before leaning in toward him eagerly. “Stephen,” he says. “Are you okay?”

Stephen frowns, and thinks about that. He remembers predators in the cage room, but suddenly he’s not so sure about that. Because he also remembers raptors. He tilts his head. “I don’t know.”

Cutter looks concerned. “Should I call a doctor?”

That’s probably not a terrible idea. He feels weird, and to be honest, he’s not sure why he’s here or what happened. Which is probably also why he shakes his head. “No,” he says, swallowing with difficulty. “I--”

Cutter stays close, watching him.

Stephen struggles for the words. “What happened?”

Cutter’s expression flickers, and something in his jawline hardens. “You don’t remember?”

Stephen frowns. “It’s all hazy,” he admits. “There were predators. And Helen. And I thought I was going to die.”

At that, Cutter goes pale again. “Well, you nearly did,” he says.

“The predators?” Stephen asks, even as he glances down and tries to make sense of it. There’s a large bandage around his chest, but no scratches. No missing limbs.

Cutter looks away. “The raptors didn’t touch you.”

Stephen cocks his head. “Wait, raptors--”

“At the shopping centre,” Cutter says.

“We were at the shopping centre?” Stephen asks, confused.

“Maybe I should call a doctor--”

“No,” Stephen says, a bit more insistently. He rallies what he can of his strength. “Do you mean we were just at the shopping centre?”

“That was three days ago, Stephen,” Cutter says.

Three days.

Three days.

Stephen remembers months. He remember all those missions, all those awkward conversations. All those stupid lies and the same damn mistakes. He remembers Nick’s punch and Helen’s kiss and the breath of the predators as they closed in.

Except, he doesn’t. The more he’s awake, the more the memory fades like a dream.

Just like a dream.

Stephen’s eyes widen. “Three days?”

Cutter sits back guiltily. “I’m sorry.”

“Wait,” Stephen says. “Why are you sorry? I’m the one who’s sorry. Cutter, I slept with Helen. It was stupid, and I have no excuse. I should have told you but I was just so scared. I didn’t want to ruin what we had, and it was selfish. I’m sorry.”

Those are the words, the ones he’d been trying to say all along but could never force out. But the dreamscape had been rigged by some force of his subconscious, keeping him tied down and tortured. The very essence of a nightmare.

Cutter’s face almost breaks. “Damn it, Stephen,” he says. “I don’t care about that.”

Stephen wrinkles his nose. “But I slept with your wife--”

“And I shot you!” Cutter explodes.

Surprised, Stephen doesn’t even know what to say.

Cutter inhales raggedly, running a hand through his hair. “It was an accident,” he says. “I was aiming for the raptor, but it all happened so quickly and I wasn’t careful. I pulled the trigger--”

And the gun didn’t jam.

Stephen realizes.

“And you just went down,” Cutter continues, almost helplessly. “There was so much blood, and you almost died, and I realized that none of the rest matters. None of it. We can get past the rest, as long as we’re both alive.”

Cutter’s upset, but Stephen can’t help it. He laughs.

“This isn’t funny,” Cutter says.

“No,” Stephen agrees, unable to stop chuckling. “It’s not.”

“So, you’re laughing?” Cutter asks incredulously.

“You shot me,” Stephen says. “And I slept with your wife. At least we both know there are worse things. So thank you. Thank you so damn much.”

Cutter stares at him for a long moment. “You’re serious?”

Stephen finds himself grinning. “Call it a fair trade,” he says. “If you can get over the fact that I slept with Helen, then I can get over the fact that you shot me.”

“You’re sure?” Cutter asks.

Stephen shrugs. “Are you?”

“I...guess I am,” Cutter says. “But I’ve had three days to think about this.”

Stephen smiles, settling himself deeper against the pillows. “I’ve had more than enough time,” he says. “Trust me.”

And Cutter does.

-o-

Sometimes, life seems like a dream. Everyone is happy he’s alive, and the team dynamic is stronger than ever. Abby and Connor get together; Cutter moves on with Jenny. When Helen shows up, Stephen shows her the door.

If this is a dream, it’s one Stephen never wants to end.

Comments

Posted by: goldarrow (goldarrow)
Posted at: March 31st, 2014 02:12 am (UTC)

What a fascinating idea!

I love the twist where Cutter actually shot Stephen instead of the gun jamming. It could so easily have happened that way the raptor was moving so quickly.

When Helen shows up, Stephen shows her the door.
Is there something wrong with me that I actually laughed in relief at that line? Wish that had happened. Or that he'd shown her to a cell!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 4th, 2014 02:41 am (UTC)
stephen and cutter

It's sort of funny that Nick shooting Stephen is actually the happier option. Ugh, S2 is just so tragic.

Thanks :)

Posted by: goldarrow (goldarrow)
Posted at: May 4th, 2014 03:54 am (UTC)
Stephen UhOh

LOL. You're absolutely right. On both counts.

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: March 31st, 2014 02:42 am (UTC)
Blurred


Am on lunchbreak but squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, what a lovely surprise, thank you!

Most of Season 2 being a drug/injury addled dream of Stephen's makes perfect sense *G*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 4th, 2014 02:41 am (UTC)
stephen cutter

Wouldn't it be grand if we could write of S2 like this? If only!

Thank you :)

Posted by: reggietate (reggietate)
Posted at: March 31st, 2014 09:26 am (UTC)
stephen-nick-m25

Now that's an S2 I can get behind ;-) Lovely fixit!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 4th, 2014 02:41 am (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

I think most of us would prefer S2 to be like this.

Thanks :)

Posted by: nietie (nietie)
Posted at: March 31st, 2014 12:35 pm (UTC)
Nick/StephenBW

The gun didn't jam. That is a great fix-it.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 4th, 2014 02:42 am (UTC)
stephen goodbye

Anything would have been better than how S2 actually ended.

Thank you :)

Posted by: knitekat (knitekat)
Posted at: March 31st, 2014 07:52 pm (UTC)

Great fix-it and yay for Stephen showing Helen the door.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 4th, 2014 02:42 am (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

Thanks so much! I know we'd all prefer a universe where things didn't go like they did.

Posted by: lsellersfic (lsellersfic)
Posted at: April 1st, 2014 06:07 pm (UTC)
Primeval:Nick/Stephen

Great fixit/Twist in the tail!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 4th, 2014 02:43 am (UTC)
stephen up

Thanks so much :)

Posted by: Cordelia Delayne (cordeliadelayne)
Posted at: April 2nd, 2014 01:36 am (UTC)
[primeval] captain tom ryan

A very clever twist! Really beautifully written.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 4th, 2014 02:43 am (UTC)
stephen happy

Thank you!

Posted by: fredbassett (fredbassett)
Posted at: April 4th, 2014 09:43 am (UTC)

That was a fabulous twist. I certainly wasn't expecting that. I really like this take on season 2. Beautifully done.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 4th, 2014 02:43 am (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

You know, it was a twist I wasn't quite expecting when I sat down to write, but it certainly would have been an improvement over the actual S2!

Thanks :)

Posted by: fififolle (fififolle)
Posted at: April 9th, 2014 07:12 pm (UTC)
Primeval - Nick/Ryan shake

Hee! That's brilliant.
Cutter shot him, OMG! But thank goodness none of *it* happened :D
Great fic!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 4th, 2014 02:44 am (UTC)
stephen goodbye

If only S2 hadn't happened. Ugh.

Thanks :)

Posted by: goldarrow (goldarrow)
Posted at: August 21st, 2015 04:38 pm (UTC)

Loved it the first time, and loved it just as much this second time through.
Perfect.

Posted by: knitekat (knitekat)
Posted at: August 21st, 2015 07:54 pm (UTC)

Lovely to re-read this again.

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