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Chaos/Primeval fic: Happenstance 1/1

July 28th, 2011 (07:31 pm)

 Title:  Happenstance

Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: As with many things for me in this fandom, this started because of eviinsanemonkey. After a conversation about multiple Billy icons, somehow we got on the notion of a Chaos/Primeval crossover where Stephen meets Billy. While the original bunny was funny, I’m afraid this turned a bit angsty in the end. Thanks to sendintheklowns  for her super amazing beta awesomeness. Also thanks to lukadreaming  for giving this a Brit-proofing, which it clearly needed :)

Spoilers: Preseries Chaos (AU/spec) and set in S2 of Primeval with references to 2.7 by the end (so sadly, this does deal with canon character death). The timeline probably doesn’t exactly fit canon for either show, but I hope that when you see the way I’ve played it out, you’ll forgive that :)

Summary: When Billy Collins shows up at an anomaly site, there are more questions than answers for everyone involved.

-o-

It’s something of a fluke all around.

Connor’s at work early, which is something of a first, but it’s really because he’s just been at work late, as in, he didn’t go home. He’s prone to this when his mind can’t stop working, and he’s been working non-stop on ways to improve the anomaly detector, especially given the insights he’s got from Cutter’s interactions with Helen.

All things considered, he’s ready to get some sleep and so when the newly revised device starts beeping at him, Connor half-thinks he’s imagining it.

He’s not, of course, because Connor is lucky in unlucky sorts of ways.

There’s only a skeleton staff on call during non-business hours, and so Connor flails a bit in working out who to tell. He ends up calling Cutter, who tells him to send a secondary military team out and that he’ll be there as soon as he can.

Connor does, and hitches a lift with the unit and when he gets to the anomaly, it’s the most spectacular thing he’s ever seen.

And Connor’s seen anomalies before. He’s seen dinosaurs and dodos and other prehistoric beasts and creatures. He’s chased raptors and hunted sabretooths and this still, hands down, takes the biscuit.

When Cutter shows up, Connor greets him at the perimeter. “I just feel like I need to warn you,” Connor tries to explain as he stands in Cutter’s path.

Cutter looks annoyed, trying to glance around Connor as Connor dodges and turns to block his vision. “Warn me about what?”

“About what we found,” Connor says.

Cutter stops and looks at him in exasperation. “After all this time, I don’t think I’m capable of being surprised. I’ve seen everything.”

Connor inclines his head and can’t help but smile. “Not this you haven’t.”

-o-

Cutter has learned to believe everything Connor says but to believe it with restraint. Connor usually has the facts right but skewed interpretations. It’s part of the younger man’s brilliance, Cutter supposes, and after enough time, it has become more endearing than annoying.

Though, it’s sort of annoying this morning.

After all, Connor dragged him out of bed with the promise of a new anomaly and then has stalled him purposefully from seeing what it’s all about, as if Cutter’s some kind of awe-struck newcomer who still has something left to wonder about in this line of work.

Not any more. Not after seeing his first anomaly, not after going to the past. Not after discovering that his wife had been flitting through time and brought futuristic creatures back on her trail. Not since Claudia Brown ceased to exist and his best mate slept with his wife.

Though, really, if anyone should know about the perils of over-confident intellectualism, it should be Cutter.

So maybe that’s why the surprise smacks him so hard.

He stands short of the anomaly, which is winking and twinkling, and looks at the soldiers, who have the most impossible thing in their custody.

For a second, he stares, gaping ever so slightly. Connor comes up behind him, Abby not far behind. “Bugger,” Cutter says.

Connor nods sagely. “I told you.”

Abby’s mouth is hanging wider than Cutter’s. “Has anyone told Stephen?” she asks.

“I wouldn’t know how,” Connor replies.

There’s a silence and Abby shakes her head. “How do you think it’s possible?”

Cutter doesn’t answer, but he certainly has some rather unsavoury ideas.

-o-

When Stephen shows up to work, he gets the distinct impression that something has happened and that he hasn’t been informed. This feeling of separation isn’t entirely uncommon; he often feels like he’s walking into a room of people talking about him these days.

Still, that’s mainly his own fault, so Stephen endures it.

But this feels different.

When he walks in, people actually stare at him. Usually they’re more discreet.

Feeling awkward, he makes his way in when he’s stopped abruptly by Cutter.

His mentor looks agitated, eyes sort of wide and hair a little wild. He holds his hands up, stopping just short of touching him. “There’s, um, been an unusual incident,” Cutter says but he can’t quite meet Stephen’s eyes.

Stephen frowns, his own eyes narrowing. “With Helen?”

Cutter looks up, surprised. “No, I mean--” His look turns suspicious. “Why would there be something about Helen?”

Stephen shrugs, trying not to think about Helen showing up at his flat and the lies he’s conveniently told. “There aren’t many things that can get you looking as bothered as you are right now,” he says, and it’s mainly the truth even if not the truth that matters.

Cutter nods. “Right, well, we’re not sure what it is,” he says.

Stephen is curious now. “But it is an anomaly?”

“It’s what we found near an anomaly,” Cutter amends.

Stephen feels his hackles rise. “And why wasn’t I called?”

“Well,” Cutter says, and he’s clearly hedging in a very un-Cutter-like way. “It’s a bit complicated.”

Still feeling defensive, Stephen tries to move past him. “I think I can deal with complicated,” he says. “What is it? Some kind of predator?”

“Not exactly,” Cutter says following after him. He works his way around and gets in front of Stephen again.

Stephen looks at him pointedly. “What’s going on?” he says. “You don’t trust me with this?”

Something flashes in Cutter’s eyes and Stephen feels like he’s not too far off. Stephen can’t help the hurt that follows. “You can trust me with this,” he says, his voice low.

Cutter’s shoulders seem to fall and he sighs. “Okay,” he says. “But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

The acquiescence is only marginally mollifying. Cutter giving up isn’t the same thing as trust, and they both know it. It hurts that this is all Stephen can count on any more.

Still, he wonders what the big deal is. He’s still good in the field, no matter what he’s done. His pride is wounded but he refuses to keep his head down.

He strides to the observation window, expecting some kind of dinosaur or maybe a future creature. Hell, even seeing Helen in there wouldn’t surprise him at his point.

When he sees what it is, for a second, all he can do is stare.

Cutter walks up, standing just behind him.

“Bugger,” Stephen breathes, his mind not quite working and his heart pounding in his ears.

Cutter inclines his head. “That’s what I said.”

And for a second, they stand there, shoulder to shoulder, in equal states of shock as they look at the lone figure in the observation room who just happens to be the spitting image of one Stephen James Hart.

-o-

Cutter thinks this is a problem. Another Stephen means that someone has been messing with the timelines again or that Helen’s scientific advances are far more sophisticated than he feared.

Stephen knows it’s one. After all, there’s a mirror image of himself preening in a three piece suit, smiling like a cat in some kind of canary cage. Stephen’s learned to dislike his own presence well enough in the last few weeks, and with two of him, it seems like a prime opportunity for double his misery.

Either way, they need to tell Lester.

Lester doesn’t care what they think or know. He just cares how it happened and what it means.

“So, you mean to tell me,” Lester says after Cutter reports the news, Stephen studiously by his side, “that there are in fact now two Stephen Harts running around in my ARC?”

“The one we found by the anomaly says his name is Billy Collins,” Cutter says.

Lester looks at him, face pinched. “And he’s not?”

“No, he seems to be,” Cutter reports. “I had Connor and Abby pull up his records.” He holds out some papers.

Lester takes them, almost reluctantly. He glances through them. “Wonderful,” he says. “So we have a British citizen who just happens to look exactly like one of our own intrepid team and just happens to show up outside a top-secret anomaly.”

“Too coincidental to be chance,” Cutter says, as if in agreement.

Lester smiles at him. “Too coincidental to be someone else’s problem mostly,” he says. He sighs, rubbing a hand against his forehead. “Are we quite certain he’s a duplicate so to speak?”

Stephen seems to pale.

Cutter’s lips flatten. “We’re waiting for permission to run tests.”

Lester forces another smile, waving his head. “Yes, yes,” he says. “By all means, violate this man’s personal rights and find the evidence we need to determine if he is who he says he is.”

“And if he’s a match?” Cutter presses.

Lester sighs, looking at the ceiling. “Then we’ll work out if the time space continuum is about to explode or something equally exciting,” he says. Then he looks back at Cutter and Stephen with purpose. “Until then, keep this under wraps. No one leaves or goes.”

“I’d like permission to talk to him,” Stephen says.

“How sweet,” Lester says. “Hoping to reconnect with your long-lost potential clone?”

Stephen frowns.

Lester shakes his head. “For now, Cutter may talk to him,” he says, ignoring Stephen’s look of obvious protest. “Until we know for sure what’s going on, I’d like to minimise our risk of exposure. We already keep top government secrets here; there’s no sense in alarming this man with his potential double until we know that he’s in fact a problem.”

Cutter shows no emotion; Stephen may be sulking.

Lester waves his hand at them. “That’s all,” he says. “Now go, do your tests and please, if you find any more strays of yourself, next time just leave them by the side of the road.”

-o-

At first, Cutter thinks that talking to Stephen 2.0, as Connor has affectionately dubbed their guest, will be a good thing. After all, he needs to work out what’s going on here and just what kind of problem they’re dealing with. Cutter is practical and intuitive. His gut instinct is telling him that talking to this bloke will help, and he’s inclined not to doubt that until he ends up in a room with him.

They’ve moved him from the main observation lab to a smaller room. It has a pane of one-way mirror and Cutter wonders vaguely if the ARC has been anticipating this kind of issue.

Either way, Cutter’s certainty and confidence last him until he’s in the room and the man smiles up at him brightly.

“A visitor!” he says. “I was wondering how long before someone would come. A nice interrogation room such as this, seems only proper that someone should come in eventually. Otherwise that perfectly nice chair would go to waste.”

Cutter looks at the vacant chair across from the man and feels his stomach churn. Up close, it’s uncanny. The clothing is different--a prim and proper suit, slightly rumpled, but more polished than he’s ever seen on Stephen--and there’s two-day scruff on his face and shorter spikes of hair that look decidedly less like the man has rolled out of bed and more like a dashing choice of smoothness.

And he’s smiling, which is something increasingly rare with Stephen. Despite the fact that he’s locked up in a government facility where no one can or will tell him anything, the man is still positively beaming.

But the features--the long face and full mouth--are entirely the same.

The man--Billy Collins, Cutter reminds himself---frowns. “Are you feeling all right, mate?” he says. “You look a mite sickly.”

Cutter swallows purposefully and moves across the room, pulling out the chair and sitting. “Who are you?”

“Billy Collins,” the man says easily. “And may I ask who you are?”

“It’s not important,” Cutter says.

Billy nods. “Of course,” he says. “So this is one of those need-to-know sorts of things.”

Cutter lets the superfluity pass. “What were you doing in the forest?” he asks.

“You mean in front of that large twinkling hole in the air?” Billy asks. “That was something, wasn’t it?”

Cutter forces himself to stay calm. “Why were you there?”

Billy sighs a little, clearly disappointed that his friendly overtures have got him nowhere. “I was lost,” he admits, shrugging. “I’m supposed to be at a banking convention in London but my car broke down. I was walking for help when I stumbled across the mystery lights you seem keen not to talk about. Your military friends showed up a short time later and here we are.”

These details match the information Connor found on the internet. Cutter wets his lips and looks critically at him. “So you just happened to be there?”

“Wrong place, wrong time,” Billy says easily. “I mean, at least that’s what I’m assuming given the cold reception here.”

Cutter watches him, looks for any sign of something off. But there’s no indication of anything amiss. Except for the fact that he still looks exactly like Stephen. “And you want me to believe that you had no other intention?”

“What intentions could I have?” Billy asks. “Unless there are ways to find new investment strategies in said mysterious lights, then I think they’re actually rather useless to me.”

“So you’re not working for anyone?”

Billy looks at him, smiling. “Come on, mate,” he says. “I’m an investment banker. I work for more bosses than you could shake a stick at, running all the way up the government food chain.”

It’s a good answer. They’ve all been good answers. Too good. Because yes, Billy Collins is supposed to be an investment banker, and yes, Billy Collins has all the right answers, but what kind of investment banker sits in a top-secret government facility with no fears whatsoever? Who sits through questioning with nothing but a smile and a friendly air?

Cutter’s been duped before, but not again. He’s trusted those eyes too many times, and Cutter’s not prepared to make the mistake again.

Still, Cutter doesn’t know how to ask anything else without divulging too much. If this is a plant from Helen, then it’s a damn convincing one. And if Collins is here to spy on the ARC, then his tactics are hard to follow. The man is lying, clearly, but there’s nothing proactive in his efforts. If he wants something, it doesn’t seem to be anything to do with the ARC.

Which makes Cutter think that Helen has done something to this timeline. Merged it with another. Created a duplicate, oblivious and innocent, for her own later purposes. With Helen, nothing is ever simple and nothing is ever clear.

Ultimately, it’s all a matter of DNA.

He collects a breath and lets it out, taking some comfort in the cold, scientific process of it all despite the boiling frustration in his gut. “We’re going to have to run some tests,” he says.

Billy raises his eyebrows. “I’ve always been spectacular at tests,” he says. “Multiple choice? Essay? Maybe something oral.”

Cutter pulls the plastic cup from his pocket.

Billy tilts his head. “Then it’s a good thing you fellows haven’t been kind enough to offer me a bathroom break,” he says.

Cutter slides the container across and waits.

Billy blinks at him, intently surprised. “I’m sure you’re quite a nice sort of bloke,” he says, leaning forward a little. “But this is something I’d really rather do in private. Unless, of course, you intend to totally deprive me of my rights without any kind of proper explanation or charge.”

Cutter frowns and gets to his feet, feeling inexplicably flustered. “Of course,” he says. “I’ll get a guard to take you to the toilet.”

“That’s very kind of you,” Billy says, far too cordially. “Maybe next we can work our way up to a drink of water.”

Cutter doesn’t even bother to reply as he heads from the room.

On the outside, Cutter has to stop, leaning against the door, telling himself to breathe. He closes his eyes, takes one breath then another, before he gets back to work.

-o-

After arranging for a guard to take Billy to the toilet and offer him something to drink, Cutter needs a break. He makes his way back toward the lab but he only makes it halfway when Stephen stops him.

Which is really not what he needs.

“So?” Stephen asks.

Cutter looks at him and then just keeps walking.

Stephen falls into step beside him. “What was he like?”

Cutter doesn’t slow down. “His story matches the file,” he says.

“That doesn’t mean anything,” Stephen says. “What sense did you get from him?”

Cutter shrugs. “He talks a lot,” he says.

“So did he tell you anything?”

“Nothing I wanted to hear,” Cutter tells him.

“Do you think Helen had something to do with him?” Stephen finally blurts.

Cutter comes to a halt.

Stephen stops with him and flusters for a moment. “I mean, is he--I mean, is he...me?”

Cutter stops and looks at him for a long moment. Looks at the man who he’d trusted for years. Looks at the person he thought he could always count on.

His jaw works. “Well,” he says. “You look exactly alike.”

“And what about personality?” Stephen pushes.

“You’re both spectacular liars,” Cutter tells him.

A flash of hurt crosses Stephen’s face, but he doesn’t disagree and Cutter can’t bring himself to take it back.

Instead, Cutter swallows hard and starts walking again. “We’ll find his secret,” he says. “One way or another.”

Stephen keeps step, this time just one step behind him. “I want to see him.”

“That’s not a good idea,” Cutter says.

Stephen reaches out, puts his hand on Cutter’s arm. They come to an abrupt stop and Cutter looks down in surprise.

Stephen blushes and pulls his hand away. “I need to be part of this,” he says. “If I’m going to look at myself in a mirror, I have to know more.”

There’s a need in Stephen’s voice, and no matter what Cutter wants, that still matters to him. And if this is a mystery, it’s one for both of them.

Cutter sighs and nods. “Fine,” he says, “but you can’t tell him anything.”

Stephen’s face brightens.

Nick holds up one finger in warning. “This is still a top-secret project.”

Like with most things, Stephen holds up his hands and doesn’t disagree.

-o-

When Stephen walks inside, all of his resolve to be calm and professional evaporates. Because it’s him. It’s like looking in a mirror, but it’s a trick mirror. Because this version of himself is suave and happy, cool and smiling.

It takes a moment for Billy to register what he’s seeing, and just like that, his pretences fall. He gets to his feet, eyes wide in wonder. “Well, I’ll be damned,” he mutters, moving closer to Stephen. “No wonder they’ve been keeping me sequestered like some prisoner.”

Stephen doesn’t even know what to say. All of his questions are lodged in his throat and his mind has stopped working.

Billy comes closer, crossing his arms over his chest as he continues to appraise Stephen. “And aren’t you a handsome devil,” he says, shaking his head again.

Stephen manages to breathe, wetting his lips. He shakes his own head in denial. “There’s no way this is a coincidence.”

Billy’s eyebrows rise. “I agree that this seems highly unlikely,” he says. “But really, in the best possible way.”

Stephen doesn’t want to hear it. Cutter’s right when he says this man is a liar. Stephen’s lies are never so ostentatious but he senses dishonesty all the same. “Who sent you?”

Billy doesn’t seem fazed by the sudden start into aggressive questioning. “As I’ve told your less dashing friend, I was sent by my bank, but I dare say I got a bit turned around when I ran into your military friends,” he says easily. “Not really a friendly bunch, are they?”

This is deception by way of diversion. Stephen refuses to engage it. “That doesn’t explain this,” he says, gesturing at himself and then to Billy. “There has to be an explanation.”

“And that’s a proposition I heartily endorse,” Billy says. “And I propose we find the answer together. Two handsome-looking blokes like ourselves should be able to sort this mess out in no time over drinks. Let me hazard a guess: Scotch, maybe?”

Stephen would take anything at this point but as much as getting falling-down drunk is appealing these days, the truth seems more important. “No,” he says. “There’s something not right here.”

“There’s something entirely right here,” Billy says. “It’s like God himself looked down on his handiwork and was so impressed he decided to do it again!”

“It’s just not possible,” Stephen insists desperately.

“This is remarkable!”

It’s one thing to handle the surreptitious looks from Abby and Connor. It’s something else to deal with Cutter’s passive/aggressive new form of authoritarian unilateral teamwork. But this level of genuine excitement and emotion is causing Stephen to almost come undone. Simply put, he’s staring at a version of himself that he wants to punch and to be all at once. He doesn’t know why or how and Helen keeps showing up and Abby doesn’t like him and Connor doesn’t joke with him and Cutter can’t even look at him and Stephen just wants to make sense of this since he can’t deal with any of the rest of it.

Unfortunately, even alternate version of himself seem to be fundamentally flawed, and Stephen feels his self-control wavering. “You’re a liar,” he accuses.

Billy nods sympathetically. “Very possibly,” he says. He leans forward. “But trust me; I’m not lying about the things you seem to think I am.”

It’s an awkward sort of thing, and Stephen feels uncomfortable with this closeness; he stiffens. “Then tell me who you really are,” he says, hoping that something in his life will finally work out right.

Billy steps back a little and sighs. “Billy Collins,” he says.

Whether it’s true or not is still to be determined. It is, however, an entirely unhelpful answer. “What do you do?” Stephen presses, not bothering to hide his accusation.

“Investment banking,” Billy reports back dutifully.

“And why were you at the site?” Stephen asks.

Billy shrugs. “Car trouble,” he says. “You can go and check the car. The check engine light is probably still flashing, but it did seem decidedly less important when I saw your mysterious light. And really, what was that thing anyway?”

Stephen bristles at the change in questioning. It’s subtle, but he still feels the pressure shifting back to him unduly. “That’s none of your concern,” he says back, remembering Cutter’s warning.

Billy blinks his blue eyes with far too much sincerity to be legitimate. “Then, pray tell, why on earth would I be there on purpose if I have no concern with such things?”

The twist in logic is impeccable, and Stephen feels his patience slipping. He feels like he’s been the butt of someone else’s joke for weeks now, and he has to take it from the people here because of what he’s done, but he doesn’t want to take it from his own alter ego. “Just answer the questions,” he growls.

“Mate, I’m trying to, honest, but you’re not helping.”

Finally, Stephen can’t help it. Protocol, he vaguely understands. A direct order from Cutter, he completely gets. But sometimes answers are more important, and Stephen has already proven that he has his limits. “Do you know Helen?” he blurts.

Somehow, Billy shows no sign of recognition at the name. “I know quite a few people,” he says lazily.

It’s more than Stephen can take. Because his reputation is hanging on by a thread and his loyalties feel like they’re being torn without his consent and he needs to know what the hell is going on so he can deal with it, once and for all. “This isn’t a joke!”

Head inclined, Billy looks like he can’t help himself any more than Stephen can. “But it is a little funny,” he says. “I mean, look at us.”

Stephen sighs, his anger deflating. Billy’s right, of course. Just like Cutter’s right and just like Helen’s right and just like everyone on the damn planet is right and Stephen just isn’t. He almost wants to cry, but it wouldn’t do him any good. He’s not sure anything would at this point.

With this, Billy actually looks apologetic. “I don’t know why you’re so worried about all this,” he says. “It’s a coincidence. Strange and somewhat unnerving, but nothing more than pure luck.”

Stephen’s jaw works. “You have no idea what this place is about,” he says, wishing not for the first time that he didn’t either.

“Clearly,” Billy agrees. “But, if I may make a suggestion.”

It makes Stephen wary, but he doesn’t have the energy or willpower to stop him. Billy Collins, clone or investment banker, is practically a force of nature.

With Stephen’s attention, Billy steps closer again. “Maybe it’s not as bad as you think,” he says. “I mean, look at us. How bad can it be?”

Stephen doesn’t have a reply. He’s torn between laughing and crying and ultimately, all he manages to do is stare. Because this man makes it seem so simple. This man can smile his way through a lie and laugh his way through danger. He can be friendly with strangers that threaten him and easy-going even when things are clearly bad.

He’s everything Stephen’s not and yet everything Stephen is, and Stephen sort of hopes the tests show this is a clone so maybe he can learn a thing or two about how to deal with himself.

When Stephen doesn’t reply, Billy takes a step back again, hands in the air. “Then again, maybe it is,” he says. Then he shrugs. “Which, really, is all the more reason for the drinks.” He looks at the mirror. “Drinks? Anyone?”

Stephen can only sigh as he heads back out the door.

-o-

The tests come back negative. There’s no sign of cloning and despite familiar genetic traits, the strands are clearly distinct and totally unrelated.

It’s entirely a coincidence after all.

Connor scoffs. “One hell of a coincidence,” he says.

“The resemblance alone,” Abby says, shaking her head.

Stephen is stiff; silent.

Cutter shakes his head. “That still doesn’t explain why he was by the anomaly.”

Lester sighs, holding up the file in his hand. “Well, then,” he says warily. “Maybe this will.”

-o-

“MI-5!” Connor explains, not for the first time.

“You mean, he’s actually a spy?” Abby asks in total disbelief.

“It definitely appears that way,” Lester confirms. “I’ve just got off the phone with the director.”

Stephen looks like he may be sick.

Cutter is still adamant. “That doesn’t mean Helen didn’t have something to do with this,” he says. “I mean, the physical likeness--”

Lester holds up his hand. “It’s uncanny, I know,” he says. “But I have talked extensively with the director who has explained to me in great detail the importance of Mr. Collins’ operation. Which has nothing to do with Helen or the anomalies.”

“So, what then?” Stephen interjects. “We just let him go?”

Lester shrugs. “I see no other recourse.”

“But can we trust him?” Cutter says.

Everyone in the room flinches a little except Lester, who gives Cutter a tired look. “MI-5 doesn’t want its operative compromised. We don’t want our facility exposed. Both sides have a vested interest in keeping this quiet.”

Everyone is silent, but no one looks convinced.

Lester rolls his eyes. “It’s already done,” he says. “Operative Collins had a video chat with his director and will be released immediately.”

Cutter seems to be sulking, but Connor looks vaguely disappointed. Abby still looks half in wonder.

Stephen shakes his head. “I want to talk to him,” he says. “One more time.”

Lester sighs. “Oh, all right,” he says. “Go and bond with your genetic freak and then get him out of our hair once and for all. This entire ordeal is giving me more of a headache than usual.”

-o-

It’s a closed case. MI-5 doesn’t want details of its operative leaked; the ARC doesn’t want to explain its real happenings. Reaching a conclusion of mutual silence and dropped issues is easy enough to attain.

Ultimately, all that’s left is to say goodbye.

Cutter doesn’t want to see him; Connor and Abby can’t find a reason to talk their way in. But Stephen makes his request and Lester rolls his eyes and says, “What’s another potential loose end wafting in the breeze?”

When Stephen gets to Billy’s room, he finds himself hesitating. When he gets inside, he’s met with a smile. “I hear things are looking up,” Billy says brightly.

Stephen nods. “You’ll be released soon.”

“Yes,” Billy says happily. “As nice as your accommodation is, I do have other things to attend to.”

Stephen hesitates.

Billy seems to notice and he gives the other man an apologetic look. “I’m sorry about the lies,” he says.

“Yeah,” Stephen says, voice hoarse. “So, MI-5.”

Billy nods. “So,” he counters. “Top-secret government facility.”

“Why didn’t you just tell us?” Stephen finally asks, genuinely curious.

Billy’s shrug is nonchalant. “Nothing personal, mate,” he says. “Just orders. I couldn’t be sure who you were and I have to keep my cover.”

This sounds reasonable. It sounds rational and justified. But a lie is still a lie, and people could have been hurt because of it.

Stephen shakes his head. “Just because we’re told to lie doesn’t mean we should.”

Billy looks vaguely bemused. “Says the man who hides the fact from the British public that there are rifts in time,” he says.

Stephen wants to protest, but Billy’s right. Stephen is a liar in more ways than one. He lied to Cutter for eight years and he’s more sorry for that than anything. But how can he prove that he’s learned his lesson, how can he show how much he’s changed, when he’s still living a lie day in and day out?

“Yeah, well,” he says. “It’s not as easy as you make it seem.”

“But it’s only as hard as you make it,” Billy tells him.

“Well, maybe it’s not the lies we tell but the reasons we tell them,” Stephen says, shrugging slightly. “At least, that’s what I think I’m figuring out.”

“Stop figuring and start acting,” Billy advises. “Heroes aren’t made in their indecision. They’re made in the moment. That’s what you can control.”

“Seems easy enough to say,” Stephen says.

“Try it some time,” Billy advises. Then he winks. “You might just be surprised.”

Stephen can’t help it; he laughs. “Yeah,” he agrees. “And you might, too.”

-o-

It’s not even a month later when Billy sees the obituary. Stephen Hart is dead, killed in a freak accident close to his job at the university. Something bloody involving a wild animal.

Billy knows it’s a cover-up just by looking at it, and something about it sits entirely wrong with him. After all, he doesn’t like the notion of meeting his doppelganger just to find out the bloke met an untimely end. It seems like bad karma.

Despite his training and his promises to the ARC, Billy is still young enough to think that he can work out the truth and make some sort of difference to the entire thing.

He picks up a few leads--a mysterious giant scorpion on a beach and a bombed facility with traces of unknown DNA--and when he learns that instead of burying poor Stephen, they buried an empty casket for lack of remains, he’s about to do something with his knowledge.

That’s when his investigation falls apart. He’s charged with treason and accused of violating national security. His supervisor looks apologetic but unyielding when he serves him his deportation notice and tells him that he has no choice in the matter.

And that’s that. Billy’s career as a spy is over just like that.

In truth, there are probably plenty of jobs Billy could excel at, some he may even enjoy, but he doesn’t want to leave this life. Besides, somehow it seems like he owes it to Stephen to keep at it, to keep one ear close to the ground, just in case there are rumours of what really happened back in London last March.

This is how Billy finds himself alone in the USA, not even a month after Stephen Hart is buried and mourned. His own life is in disarray and he’s working to ingratiate himself into the only agency in the world that will give him a second look and not make him feel like a total traitor.

Even after he’s been hired by the CIA, Billy keeps this story close to his chest. Because Stephen Hart has taught him something important--that he’ll never forget. It’s not that some secrets aren’t worth keeping; it’s just knowing which ones are worth risking everything for. He hopes Stephen worked it out in the end. And Billy thinks maybe there’s still hope for his own life, yet.

Comments

Posted by: Evil Insane Monkey (eviinsanemonkey)
Posted at: July 29th, 2011 12:52 am (UTC)

so, I'm going to read this first thing tomorrow morning (because it's computer turn off time or I won't get off all night and that's just no pleasant), but I just wanted to tell you how very excited I am to read this :D

ETA: This is absolutely fantastic. The interaction between everyone is perfect. And the ending, oh the ending ♥ Thank you so much for writing this, it's wonderful!

Edited at 2011-07-29 12:39 pm (UTC)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 1st, 2011 02:34 am (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

It really was going to be cracky when I started but you know how Stephen is. And then the idea of Billy investigating and getting deported was just too intriguing to let go of. Wow, and now I'm thinking of sequel possibilities as if I need more bunnies.

Thanks!

Posted by: hiddencait (hiddencait)
Posted at: July 29th, 2011 01:52 am (UTC)

OK this was absolutely fantastic! I haven't seen any of Chaos, but it was easy enough to figure out Billy for me. You did a fantastic job of making sure they remained 2 seperate characters. Still sad we lost Stephen, but at least someone out there remembers!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 1st, 2011 02:35 am (UTC)
stephen's eyes

I'm glad it still read well for those who haven't seen Chaos. I'm still sad we lost Stephen as well, but it worked with the plot.

Thanks!

Posted by: squeezynz (squeezynz)
Posted at: July 29th, 2011 05:36 am (UTC)

Excellent. A brilliant intertwining of these two characters lives....well done.

and just a little bit sad, as well.......*sniffles*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 1st, 2011 02:36 am (UTC)
stephen skeptical

It did turn out sad despite my best efforts. Stephen is just too angsty!

Thanks :)

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: July 29th, 2011 07:04 am (UTC)
Stephen and Abby

I love that crossover and a nice way to explain Billy's deportation :)
And you've managed to crasp the feelings of the different characters spot on.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 1st, 2011 02:37 am (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

The twist with Billy's deportation came at the last minute but I liked the way it worked :)

Thanks!

Posted by: SamuelJames (samueljames)
Posted at: July 29th, 2011 09:07 am (UTC)
Chaos

I love the back story for how Billy ended up with the CIA. Fantastic fic in which Billy was utterly charming and I felt bad for Stephen not being trusted by Cutter.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 1st, 2011 02:38 am (UTC)
stephen cutter

I so enjoy Billy's charm. And I really do enjoy Stephen's angst, no matter how much it breaks my heart.

Thanks!

Posted by: lukadreaming (lukadreaming)
Posted at: July 29th, 2011 09:31 am (UTC)
Billy hoody

This is such a neat idea and such a plausible reason for Billy being booted out of the UK! I really like the way you've nailed the separate personalities.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 1st, 2011 02:39 am (UTC)
stephen angsty

I'm still glad you liked it! And very thankful for the beta!

Posted by: fredbassett (fredbassett)
Posted at: July 29th, 2011 10:22 am (UTC)

This is absolutely fabulous!

Brilliant backstory, and the way you drew the two very different personalities was awesome.

*claps paws happily*

The ending was a definite gut-punch as well.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 1st, 2011 02:40 am (UTC)
stephen broken

I'm glad the characters seemed definitive--and that the ending worked :) It wasn't the ending I'd originally planned on but I liked the way it turned out too much to change it.

Thanks!

Posted by: Lym (lymricks)
Posted at: July 29th, 2011 07:47 pm (UTC)

I was so embarrassingly excited to read this, and it lived up to every expectation. This is my favorite Billy background spec yet.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 1st, 2011 02:40 am (UTC)
stephen smiles

Aw, I'm so glad it didn't disappoint! Thanks :)

Posted by: knitekat (knitekat)
Posted at: July 29th, 2011 08:06 pm (UTC)

Great, not that I've watched Chaos, but this looks good.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 1st, 2011 02:41 am (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

I'm glad you enjoyed it even without Chaos knowledge :)

Thanks!

Posted by: reggietate (reggietate)
Posted at: July 30th, 2011 10:09 am (UTC)
circleofglass

*meep* That was a terrific crossover, and a brilliant portrayal of Stephen (and Billy, though I haven't seen the show).

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 1st, 2011 02:41 am (UTC)
stephen angsty

Stephen sort of makes me get all wobbly inside, so I'm glad I still pulled him off :)

Thanks!

Posted by: Cordelia Delayne (cordeliadelayne)
Posted at: July 30th, 2011 11:33 pm (UTC)
green shirt stephen

This was fantastic! Great way of tying them together and I loved your Billy voice :D

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 1st, 2011 02:42 am (UTC)
stephen skeptical

Thank you! Sometimes it's hard for me to get Billy's accent down in my head, so I'm never quite sure how it translates for readers :)

Posted by: May (rain_sleet_snow)
Posted at: August 1st, 2011 10:36 am (UTC)

Oh, I love this! It ties into canon so beautifully, and I don't know Chaos very well so I can't comment on Billy, but your Stephen is just perfect.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 2nd, 2011 12:42 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

I'm very glad my Stephen reads okay. He's a character I'm still feeling out in writing--and he's particularly difficult since he never actually said a lot about his feelings/motivations on screen.

Thanks!

Posted by: nietie (nietie)
Posted at: August 1st, 2011 03:29 pm (UTC)
Sad

Great crossover, but so sad *sniffs*

You got the differences in these two characters wonderfully.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 2nd, 2011 12:43 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

Almost anything with Stephen ends up being sad, all things considered.

Thank you :)

Posted by: go fuck yourself! (metaphand)
Posted at: August 4th, 2011 03:39 am (UTC)
( good )

jesus christ everything is beautiful here and i love it. great dialogue on lester, absolutely great interaction between billy and cutter and billy and stephen and a nice explanation why the hell he was kicked out from the mi-5.

all in all, brilliant, and i wish for more crossovers between these fandoms♥

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 20th, 2011 12:47 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

I'm so glad they all seemed in character! Writing Primeval still makes me nervous for some reason :)

And I agree--I wish there were more crossovers between these two shows as well. I have one that I finished in which Stephen becomes Billy but I haven't got around to editing that one yet :)

Thanks!

Posted by: go fuck yourself! (metaphand)
Posted at: August 20th, 2011 03:59 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Starrylizard (starrylizard)
Posted at: August 21st, 2011 02:40 am (UTC)
NT - Primeval Stephen

This is brilliant! Love Billy under interrogation, with his calm demeanour and cheerful smile putting them all off. And the Stephen pov for the meeting of Stephen and Billy was brilliant. With poor Stephen in such a bad place and both frightened and jealous of the possible clone. Interesting ending too. Great stuff! :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 22nd, 2011 01:13 pm (UTC)
stephen's eyes

S2 Stephen really about kills me just to think about it, so whenever I try to write him, he's an angsty mess. It's quite the contrast to Billy, although I think most of us suspect there's a lot of angst under his friendly demeanor that Stephen would probably relate to.

Anyway, thanks!

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