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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Primeval fic: A Joint Decision 1/1

June 30th, 2011 (07:30 am)
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Title:  A Joint Decision

Disclaimer:  Not mine.

A/N:  Random preseries speculation because the whole Nick/Helen/Stephen dynamic completely fascinates me.  Beta’ed by sendintheklowns  who has thoroughly indulged my love of floppy hair :)  I also feel compelled to note (again!) that I didn’t try with British spellings and if there is American dialogue that doesn’t fit these characters, I apologize!

Summary:  Nick and Helen choose a lab technician.


Helen comes in with a smile on her face. 

For Nick, this is always good and bad, and he mentally braces himself for either while still trying to keep a keen eye on his work.  Helen is passionate in all things, and her emotions are always like raw energy, as prone to electrocute as they are to invigorate.

Still, Nick can’t help but love her when she smiles.  Her vibrancy is contagious and her genius sparks even more than usual.  He’s found that being around her is often worth the shocks, especially since her enthusiasm often excites her sexual passions just as much as everything else.

But her joy is not without its drawbacks.  Helen’s moods are never timed with his, and Nick knows that the paperwork he’s trying to finish up for the night is likely a lost cause.  He would much rather deal with whatever exuberant news she’s clearing bearing after he’s finished this latest analysis. 

Then again, it’s never been much about his convenience or even his choice, for that matter.  Helen’s good moods, even more than her bad ones, have a tendency to throw kinks into his research that no amount of control can account for.  Most of the time, Nick finds himself just hanging on for the ride.

She eases up next to him, tossing down a file.  It seems innocent enough, but Nick knows Helen better than that.

He stands up and glances at it, wary.  “What’s this?”

“We have enough money for a lab assistant,” she says.

Nick sighs, rolling his eyes and moving back toward his work in true frustration.  “We don’t need a lab assistant.”

“Don’t be silly,” Helen says easily.  “With the amount of work we’ve got going, a lab assistant will be very helpful.  Besides, I’m dreadfully tired of having to fill out all our grant forms.  I could use someone to do a little grunt work around here.”

Nick snorts in amusement, looking back down at his work.  Helen’s never been one for mundane tasks, but Nick would rather deal with the paperwork himself than trust someone else to screw it up for him.  But if having a pet around the office will make Helen happier, Nick figures that’s really a win-win for everyone.  “Then by all means, select your indentured servant and show me where to sign.”

Helen sighs in melodramatic fashion, plucking Nick’s paperwork away from him.

“Hey!” Nick protests, moving to go after it.

She holds it over her head and squares her shoulders in warning.  He could reach it, he thinks, but he has a feeling she might hit him if he tries.  “You can have it back after you help me pick.”

He shifts back to his heels, shaking his head.  “I don’t know why you want my opinion,” he says, crossing his arms over his chest.  It’s a familiar pose of defiance that he likes to adopt in counter to her arguments.  Mostly because opposition seems to turn her on.  “I know you’re still going to pick the one you want anyway.”

She feigns hurt.  Helen is no simpering female, but she can play the part very well when she’s inclined.  “Come now,” she says cajolingly.  “Surely you know that I value your opinion more than that.”

Nick simply grunts, the flirtatious facade falling for a moment to pure amusement.  “Right, just like you valued my opinion about paint colors in the flat.”

At this, she has to smile.  “Well it’s not my fault that you think that beige is an acceptable accent color.”

“Beige is very practical,” he says.  “It matches everything we have.”

“Ah, yes,” she says, smirking at him coyly.  “My Nick, ever practical.”

He tilts his head, grinning.  “My Helen, ever impulsive.”

“Not impulsive,” she counters, lifting her eyebrows slightly.  Then she leans in.  “I just know what’s best.  And I see no reason to compromise when I’m certain.”

His smile widens.  If Nick cared about home decorating it might bother him, but Helen’s certainty is all he needs to make the house feel like a home.  “Fine,” he relents, and he brings the issue back around as a concession.  “Who are our options?”

She relaxes, but still keeps his work out of reach.  She nods to the file.  “I already took the liberty of selecting our top four candidates.”

Since he’s humoring her in earnest now, Nick picks up the file.  When he flips it open, he groans.  “Geoffrey Callahan?” he asks in total indignation.  Flirting aside, the thought of spending more time with Geoffrey Callahan is reprehensible.

“He’s our brightest student,” she says.

“Yeah, and he knows it,” he mutters.  “The pretentious prick would make life miserable here.”

“Fine, then what about Diana Waylen?” Helen pushes.  “Her work has always been creative and daring.”

Nick rolls his eyes.  “Just what I don’t need,” he says.  “Another overzealous female trying to outdo me.”

Helen smirks.  She has to know he’s right.

Nick flips to the next page and makes a face of disgust.  Turning to the last, he pauses, then nods.  “This one,” he says, nodding at the last page.  Then he closes the file and hands it back to her, feeling very satisfied with his choice.

She’s too shocked to take it.  “Him?” she asks.

Nick nods.  “Sure.”

She still looks like she can’t believe it despite the fact that Nick was very clear.  “Are you serious?”

Nick shrugs.  “He’s in your top four.”

“Because I was stretching and wanted to give you the idea that you really had a choice,” she says.  “I didn’t think you’d take him seriously.”

“Why not?”

“Why not?  Nick, why would we even consider him?” she asks in sheer incredulity.  The humor has abated now, given way to the heart of her opinions, which, as usual, stand in stark opposition to his.  “I mean, his grades are good, but his work isn’t exactly revolutionary here.  Did you read his term paper?”

Nick nods, and holds his ground.  Giving in would be too easy, and that’s not what either of them want.  If they flirt with effective fire, they can debate with the truest passion as well.  He didn’t fall in love with her while trading sexual innuendo, but first through their scientific back and forth.  After endless hours arguing about evolutionary theory without ceasing or abating, he had realized quite certainly that this was the woman he wanted to be with the rest of his life. 

“Sure,” he says.  “On the changes in climate throughout the Cretaceous Period.  It was very thoroughly researched.”

“And thoroughly mundane,” Helen reminds him.  “Hardly an innovative idea in the entire thing.”

“It showed an adept understanding of the concepts and a dedication to the work,” Nick argues back.  “Plus, he’s always in class, taking notes, unlike the rest of your so-called proteges.”

“Because he could never pull those grades without it,” she says.  “He’s a middling intellect, Nick, and you know it.”

“But he’s teachable,” Nick tells her.  “Of all your choices, he’s the only one who really seems to want to learn.  The rest, they want to be stars.  That one--he just wants to get better, and that’s what we need in a lab assistant.  No prima donnas, just hard workers.”

Helen’s eyes narrow, and for a moment, there’s a flicker of defiance in her eyes.  But then she lifts her chin, regarding Nick with growing certainty.  “Okay,” she says.  “Stephen Hart it is.”

Nick is actually surprised; he’s not used to winning arguments so easily.  Or at all.  “Just like that?”

She shrugs seductively.  “What can I say,” she muses.  “Your impeccable rationality got the best of me this time.”

Nick eyes her with mock suspicion; this is part of the game they play.  A back and forth so well rehearsed that if he didn’t like it so damn much, he might worry that there wasn’t anything more. 

“Besides,” she says, handing his work back to him.  “I could use a nice arse to look at during our long nights here, and I might say, he certainly fills that roll better than the rest.”

She turns on her heel, hair tossing over her shoulder as she makes her way to her office, leaving Nick to stare after her.  After a moment, he laughs to himself, picks up his paperwork, and has a sudden and well understood pang of pity for the unsuspecting Stephen Hart.


Posted by: goldarrow (goldarrow)
Posted at: April 11th, 2014 09:58 pm (UTC)

Definitely Poor Stephen!

The dynamic between them is very accurate and well drawn. And just as icky, to me, as it seemed in the show. Neither one comes across as a very nice person... :D

But then I can't imagine a happy relationship where the whole thing's based on winning debates LOL.

This was very good.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 4th, 2014 04:14 am (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

There's something very wrong about the whole Cutter/Stephen dynamic. I mean, it fascinates me, but no matter how you look at it, it's a bit squicky. I always find it interesting that the show glosses over the circumstances of why/how the affair happened, when I think it's all very important. I mean, issues like how well Stephen knew Nick and how well Nick knew Stephen are important to understanding the overall context. And for goodness sakes, Helen was Stephen's boss/teacher/etc. He was an adult and what he did was wrong, but she holds far more culpability as a person in power. There's a reason that schools make rules that restrict such behavior.

And really, Nick/Helen interests me, too, because what kind of marriage did they have? What were they like in the best days? How did it fall apart? Because it did fall apart if Helen was running around having at least one affair.

Mostly, preseries spec with this trio is endlessly fascinating to me. This was one of my earliest attempts to write about it :)


Posted by: reggietate (reggietate)
Posted at: April 12th, 2014 01:00 pm (UTC)

Always interesting to get a look at Nick and Helen before things went pear-shaped.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 4th, 2014 04:14 am (UTC)
stephen broken

I do think the early days of their relationship would be interesting to know more about from a canon perspective.

Thanks :)

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2014 08:48 am (UTC)

I like this missing scene and seeing Nick and Helen 'back in the day' and what Nick thought about Helen back then. The foreshadowing is great!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 4th, 2014 04:15 am (UTC)
stephen breathing

These three are always going to be horribly tragic, even when it hasn't gone wrong yet.

Thank you for the recc!

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