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When We Collide 1/16

June 3rd, 2012 (10:57 pm)
nervous

feeling: nervous

Title: When We Collide

Disclaimer: I do not own Primeval.

A/N: Happy birthday, kristen_mara! She requested another take on a Chaos/Primeval crossover, and this is the fic that resulted. Somehow, she managed to get me to write an 80k fic in less than a month! That alone is a testament to her utter enthusiasm! Much thanks to lukadreaming for helping beta this one. Also, thanks to lena7142 for helping me talk through some details and providing opinions when I needed help :) She’s been incredibly kind while I flail.

A/N 2: This fic is finished. I’ll try to post as regularly as possible as I get the revisions done. I normally wait until I have an entire fic ready to go before posting, but for kristen_mara, I’m getting this started sooner rather than later. For full chapter listing, see the MASTER POST .

Spoilers: Set pre series Chaos and starts in 2.06 of Primeval. It’s canon-ish, only not quite, running through 3.03. This is much more heavily Primeval than Chaos, but a rough idea of Billy Collins as a character is probably recommended.

Pairing: Stephen/Cutter (but it’s really more pre-slashy, than slash)

Summary: When overwhelmed with Helen’s secrets and Cutter’s cold shoulder, Stephen turns to an outside source for help. The help he gets, however, isn’t exactly what he counted on.



-o-

When we collide we come together
If we don’t, we’ll always be apart
I’ll take a bruise, I know you’re worth it
When you hit me, hit me hard

From “Many of Horror” by Biffy Clyro

-o-

The official story is that Helen Cutter and Oliver Leek created a rogue facility, trying to use the anomalies and the creatures that came through for their own personal power play.

This plot, however, was foiled. Leek was too ambitious. Helen underestimated the ARC team.

Leek was destroyed by his own project. Lester regained control of the project. Cutter was hailed a hero. Helen escaped. Stephen Hart died, sacrificing himself for his friends.

The ARC reorganised. Changes were made to ensure the safety of the team.

It didn’t matter.

Helen Cutter returned, and in an unexpected move, nearly destroyed the ARC and murdered her husband.

All of this was well documented and indisputable fact.

In an unrelated incident, Billy Collins, a top operative for MI5, was unceremoniously decommissioned and deported for an internal incident that was not proper to disclose. He negotiated a trip to America, and was quickly welcomed into the ranks of the CIA.

This is the official story, anyway.

What really happened, however, remains classified. The three people who know it best have taken oaths, swearing themselves to secrecy. For the sake of national security, no one can know the truth.

But for those involved, ultimately it is the truth that matters most.

-o-

Stephen knew a thing or two about secrets.

For starters, he understood that most secrets started with the best of intentions. After all, when he’d first started lying to Nick eight years ago, he’d thought it the best solution. The man had just lost his wife – literally – and although Cutter’s was a quiet kind of grief, Stephen recognised it for what it was. The added weight of her infidelity had been a pointless issue, insult to a still raw injury.

More than that, his affair with Helen hadn’t really been much of an affair. Just one night, working late, Helen all over him so hot that no matter how many times he said no, he’d still ended up with his boxers around his knees making her moan in ecstasy.

Of course, the next morning he’d felt so guilty that he’d called the whole thing off, offered to transfer to another supervisor. Helen had said all along that she was separated from her husband, and Stephen had never seen her husband around, but it still didn’t feel right. Nothing had felt right, and the guilt just hadn’t been worth it.

Then, after Helen disappeared, Stephen had been reassigned to Cutter and it turned out the marriage hadn’t been as over as Stephen had been led to believe.

The lie was more of an omission, and Stephen knew it wasn’t entirely altruistic. But it had been a moot point. A non-issue. A lie for the greater good between them.

Or so Stephen had believed for eight years. Eight good years, even. The best years of Stephen’s life.

In this, Stephen understood why Cutter had come to desire keeping the anomaly project under wraps. The public was prone to hysteria and the media certainly wouldn’t help protect innocent people. Sometimes ignorance really was bliss, and the country would certainly have an easier go of things if the ARC was just an anonymous government project with an ambiguous mission statement and an undisclosed line in the budget.

But secrets, Stephen knew, rarely stayed that way. Eight years, eight months, eight decades: the truth always came out, and the longer kept, the more damaging it was.

The public deserved to know. Not because it would make their lives easier but because the truth had no purpose in being hidden. Stephen knew that now, knew it in the way Cutter couldn’t look at him, didn’t talk to him. Knew it when Cutter called Connor or turned to Abby. Knew it when no one could look him in the face. They saw him for a traitor.

Never mind his good intentions. Forget the last eight years. Ignore the reality of the mistake Stephen had done his best to atone for ever since.

It wasn’t just the act; it was the lie. One falsehood was a destructive force. If it could bring down his relationship with Cutter, it could destroy a nation.

And Stephen wasn’t about to let that happen. Not when he had the power to stop it.
But Cutter was right. Going to the press was a bad idea.

But Cutter was also wrong if he thought sitting around and keeping more secrets would make things better. After what had happened in the Silurian, Cutter had called the team together for a secret meeting in the morning. It wasn’t clear to Stephen what Cutter was ready to divulge, but Stephen was getting the sense that pretty soon it was going to be too little too late. They’d already lost their best evidence with the stolen headset. They had to recognise that what was happening was beyond their ability to control, and that sort of admission had never exactly been Cutter’s forte.

Secrets always destroyed things. Stephen was living proof. And if Cutter was ready to talk, that was good. But with Helen on one shoulder and Cutter half on the other, Stephen wasn’t sure who to count on any more. Or who really counted on him.

It was all too much, and Stephen couldn’t sit by idly. Not any more. No more secret meetings with Helen or Cutter. It was time for action.

In his car, Stephen squinted up through the windscreen. MI5. He knew there was a good chance they’d think he was mad or, worse, a terrorist, but he had to try. Someone had to know the truth, someone with more power and control than he had.

After all, sometimes telling the truth wasn’t so much a matter of the facts but knowing who to tell. If Cutter wouldn’t listen, then Stephen would find someone who would.

-o-

Collins, Billy Collins.

It was all rather clichéd, but it still appealed to Billy. In fact, some mornings, he was so excited to come to work that he got up early and came in before most of the rest just because he could. Because Billy had worked and trained and finally nabbed a spot with the British Secret Service.

MI5. The home of threats.

As a child, all his mates had wanted to grow up to be James Bond. And Billy had.

Not exactly, of course. James Bond was MI6 and kept his theatrics abroad, but a spook was a spook, no matter where they worked. There was mystery! And intrigue! And lives on the line! Glory and danger in the name of national security.

True, he was still the new guy. He spent more time doing paperwork than anything else. His biggest mission to date had been serving as a temporary clerk in an embassy in Croatia, looking for clerical inconsistencies. The operation had failed to net any major intelligence but he had been solely responsible for catching an accounting error that had the British government paying a caretaker no longer employed at headquarters, thereby saving queen and country thousands of pounds.

This was how it was, though. There was no such thing as a small mission, only small operatives, and Billy was determined to do each and every task that came to him with flair and precision. Because someday he’d get to the big things. Some day, he’d get to do the real things, the heroic things, the dangerous things. Some day, his country would call on him and he’d be ready. More than ready.

Someday.

Until then, Billy was happy to do his paperwork. Even spies did paperwork.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. Billy looked up, expectant. Timothy Fredericks, his immediate boss, was standing in the doorway. During Billy’s short tenure at MI5, Timothy Fredericks had mentored Billy with an inconsistent and weary hand. He had inherited Billy from his former boss, the man who had recruited Billy out of the military. That had some weight, but it was clear to Billy that Fredericks had his hands full most of the time, and taking on Billy was one extra chore he didn’t seem keen on.

That didn’t stop Billy from being an ever enthusiastic student.

“Hey, boss,” he said, grinning.

Fredericks looked put out. “You’re not busy, are you?”

Billy blinked, as if the stack of papers in front of him should have been self-explanatory.

“Doesn’t matter anyway,” Fredericks said with a shake of his head. “You’re needed.”

Billy stared at him for a minute. “What?”

Fredericks rolled his eyes. “Some super spy you are with reflexes like that,” he said. “Up and at ‘em, boy. We need you in the observation chamber outside of conference room B. Now.”

With that, Fredericks ducked back out into the hall, leaving Billy alone again with his paperwork to make sense of the orders.

Conference room B. That was across the building, near the major offices. The division director had an office in that wing. The meetings there were big and important, bigger and more important that Billy usually had access to.

You’re needed.

The realisation settled.

You’re needed.

Billy launched himself up from the chair, almost tripping over it as he tried to find his feet. His paperwork scattered and he flailed for a second while he tried to keep it from falling off his desk. He finally gave up, leaving the pile somewhat askew as he adjusted his tie and straightened his suit. He had to hurry – now.

Because finally, after so much work and preparation and anticipation – Billy Collins was needed.

-o-

After five hours, Stephen was starting to have his doubts about this choice. It was well after hours by now, but no one seemed remotely concerned. Stephen hadn’t showered after work and he hadn’t even grabbed a bite to eat after coming directly from the ARC. He’d counted on this process taking a few hours, but by the way things were going, he was going to be lucky to be back home in time for work, never mind sleeping.

After being thoroughly frisked, finger-printed, scanned and questioned thoroughly at the security checkpoint, he’d been ushered to something that looked like a holding cell. There, he filled out a stack of forms – all standard procedure, he was assured – and then was questioned again before being led to another section of the building.

This room was moderately more comfortable, and his interviewer had smiled and called him Mr Hart before proceeding to ask him a series of long and involved questions about who he was and what his so-called claim was.

After that, he’d been left alone, although he suspected that the nearby mirror wasn’t there for him to check the state of his hair.

In all, he’d been treated like a lunatic and a criminal, and really, after everything he’d been through in the last few months, the weight of it was wearing. It would be easier to just sign a statement saying he’d made the whole thing up and walk back out, hoping they didn’t put him on some kind of watch list.

But then he thought of Cutter. Their time in the Silurian had shown Stephen a few things about his friend. First, Cutter didn’t want him to die. That had been something of a surprise to Stephen, but probably expected. Cutter was a good man. He was brusque and pig-headed at times, but always with the best intentions. He wasn’t going to let Stephen die, no matter what had happened between them.

Second, though, was more important than the first. Something had happened between them. Cutter was keeping secrets now – and not just about how he felt, though Stephen suspected the lingering resentment. He was keeping secrets about the project in and of itself. Those secrets, coupled with Helen’s hints, were a dangerous thing.

Cutter didn’t want to talk about the project any more than he wanted to talk about what had happened between them. That was Cutter’s prerogative – Stephen really wasn’t in a position to protest – but that didn’t mean that Stephen could let it slide. He had to accept the fact that Cutter might never trust him again but he couldn’t sit around idly while something dangerous unfolded in the ARC.

If he couldn’t fix the former, he would fix the latter. He’d already taken the easy way out once in his life, which was what had got him into this mess. Not this time. Not with the team on the line – and the whole country, for that matter.

So he’d sit there, answer the questions and fill out the forms and hope that this time, when he told what he knew, someone would listen.

The door opened again, and a new man came in. This one was older than the others and far more polished. His suit looked expensive – not that Stephen had any real sense of it – and when he sat down across from Stephen, he smiled with genuine interest. He hesitated, leaning back in his seat for a long moment, studying Stephen closely enough to make him squirm. Finally, the man tossed a file on the table in front of him.

“My name is York. And you’re Mr Hart, I’m told,” he said, opening the file to the first page.

Stephen glanced down, seeing pictures of Cutter and himself, Abby and Connor. They all seemed to be taken from non-official sources. One of Cutter from the university website. Abby at the zoo. Connor at a comic book convention. His own from an expedition to South America. “You already know that by now,” he replied, somewhat cautious.

“Indeed,” York agreed. “We’ve had to do some extensive checking but you do seem to be who you say you are. Which just makes me wonder why you’re here.”

“I told the other men,” Stephen said, leaning forward intently. “I have information regarding the ARC.”

“Yes, yes,” he said. “You really shouldn’t run around mentioning that name, not even here. The level of clearance involved has exceeded all your previous interviewers.”

Stephen frowned. He hadn’t considered that.

York sat back, adjusting his jacket primly. “As it is, your being here is highly unusual. I have half a mind to phone Lester right now and get to the bottom of this.”

Stephen perked up, shaking his head vehemently. “You can’t do that.”

Bemused, York lifted his eyebrows in coy exaggeration. “Any particular reason why I shouldn’t contact the head of the ARC for issues regarding the project?”

Swallowing, Stephen reined in his emotions. He had his suspicions, but they were unconfirmed. Helen had hinted that she agreed, but Stephen was beginning to wonder if that meant anything at all. She wasn’t exactly being any more straightforward than Nick was, which did nothing to assuage his growing fears and isolation.

Which was why he had to be calm and collected. Smart.

Resolved, Stephen forced himself to continue. “Because I don’t know who can be trusted and who can’t be trusted,” he replied as evenly as possible.

York’s eyes narrowed thoughtfully. “And what exactly do you think is going on that is such a pressing matter of national security?”

“I don’t know any specifics,” Stephen admitted. “But what we do at the ARC, it’s dangerous stuff. I joined to help protect people, but in the wrong hands, the creatures and the technology could be used for worse things.”

York didn’t look particularly surprised. He shrugged. “This is all speculation.”

“There’s a traitor,” Stephen said, with emphasis now. “An operation working with its own purposes right under the official ARC directive.”

“And your proof?”

“I met one of them,” Stephen snapped. “Not to mention I watched him get eaten by a bloody giant arachnid in the Silurian.”

York paused at that, pressing his lips together and forcing a smile. “A covert operation with covert personnel,” he said. “This isn’t exactly shocking.”

Stephen sighed, his frustration mounting. “I’m not the only one with suspicions,” he said. “Nick Cutter knows something, too, but he won’t say what. He’s called a private meeting about it in the morning.”

“Nick Cutter is a scientist who can barely attend to his own life,” York said dismissively. “What reason do we have to think he’s managed to unearth a conspiracy in one of the best guarded secrets in the entire country?”

Stephen forced himself to breathe. “Nick Cutter is more than that.”

“Then why didn’t you just go to his little meeting?” York pressed.

Sighing, Stephen ran a hand through his hair. “Because Cutter probably doesn’t know what he’s up against. There are factors at play here.”

“Factors?” York repeated dubiously.

“Factors,” Stephen said again, harder this time.

“And if Nick Cutter can’t know them, why do you?” York asked.

“Because Helen Cutter told me,” he spat.

That caught York’s attention. The man stiffened, just enough to notice, eyebrows tweaking before he regained composure. “Helen Cutter?”

“Yeah, she was one of the first people to discover the anomalies—“

York held up a hand. “I know who Helen Cutter is.”

Stephen frowned, cocking his head. “Why would you know who Helen Cutter is?”

“Because I know everything about your little project – far more than you do,” he said. “And Helen Cutter’s been at the top of our watch list since she disappeared eight years ago. We were less than pleased when she disappeared from ARC custody last year. Not Lester at his best.”

The new information was something to process. Stephen swallowed, trying to get his head around it. He had to wonder if he’d ever known Helen, if she’d ever been the woman he’d thought she was.

Mostly, though, it cemented his certainty in being here. Eyes steady, he nodded. “She’s been talking to me, away from the others.”

“She’s been in contact with you?” York asked, sounding genuinely interested now.

“More than once,” Stephen confirmed. “She’s been telling me about the traitor, but she won’t say who it is. She’s been so vague that I half think it’s her.”

The moment he said it, his stomach went cold. The hard, unyielding look in York’s eyes suggested that the possibility had been on his mind from the beginning. “She didn’t mention any names, though?”

“No,” Stephen said, trying to fight back his conflicting feelings now. He’d wanted to believe Helen, but he had his doubts. Finding out that they could be legitimate…was hard to take. “I suggested Lester and she didn’t deny it.”

York studied him, tapping one finger on the table. “Okay,” he said.

Stephen waited for more. “Okay?”

Nodding, York adjusted his seat. He gathered a breath, the same perfunctory smile returning. “Okay, Mr Hart,” he said. “I want you to start at the beginning and tell me everything you know.”

-o-

It was all Billy could do to keep himself from running down the halls. As it was, he walked at a brisk clip, forcing his legs not to gallop, no matter how anxious he was. Appearances, he reminded himself. James Bond never skipped like a schoolgirl on the way to a conference room.

By the time he got there, he was reasonably together. His excitement was competing heavily with his nerves. He took a moment, gathering a few deep breaths in an attempt to gather his wits and still his shaking hands.

When the door opened, Billy nearly jumped clear out of his shoes.

The amused look on Fredericks’ face suggested that he’d seen the reaction. “God help us all that you’re the one we need on this,” he muttered.

Billy stared for a moment, heart hammering so hard that he almost forgot to be insulted.

“Now, look,” Fredericks said. “What you’re about to get in on is big. Above your pay grade, really, and well above your clearance level.”

The weight of the words was not lost on Billy. He nodded, quite seriously.

“And what you’re going to hear is more than a bit of a shock,” Fredericks continued. “I know it was for me, but with the secrecy they’ve got around this thing, I don’t dare doubt the validity. You’re about to be introduced to one of the most secret projects in the entire country, possibly the world.”

The implications were almost too big to understand. This was like dialogue from a movie, a preface given from M to Bond.

And in the right light, Fredericks did look a bit like Judi Dench.

Not that it mattered. This was no act. This was no movie. This was real life. Top secret real life, and Billy was being read in.

Fredericks was watching him with growing apprehension. “Are you sure you’re up for this, Collins?”

Billy nodded quickly, head bobbing convulsively. “Yes, sir,” he said. “Anything for my country.”

It was a good answer but Fredericks still seemed vaguely put off by it. Still, he gathered another breath, pursed his lips and continued. “For the last several years, the British Government has been aware of certain atmospheric anomalies,” Fredericks said, holding out a file in his hand.

Curious, Billy opened it. “You mean like in weather?”

“I mean like in time,” Fredericks clarified.

Billy stopped, looking up. At first he was sure his boss was joking. He had been the butt of more than one office prank, so it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that this entire ordeal was just one hoax to see how high Billy would jump before pulling the rug out from under him to watch him fall.

And Billy had fallen, spectacularly. Even when he knew it was coming, he could never pass up on the inherent chance to serve the greater good. He understood that cunning was an important part of the job, but his innate desire to act was so pervasive that his eagerness often played the part of naïveté among the ins and outs of office politics.

The problem was that Fredericks and the rest of the lot were bloody good at what they did. They could work any mark, even those who called themselves colleagues.

Frowning, Billy tried to be discerning.

The prospect of a mission, though, was pressing. “In time?” he asked, looking at the file again.

Fredericks nodded. “Didn’t believe it myself at first,” he said. “What you’ll see in that file is pretty remarkable.”

Billy scanned the text – names and dates and histories – and then saw the pictures. Of giant bugs and insects. Dinosaurs.

Billy laughed. “You really expect me to believe this?” he asked.

“You think I doctored the file?” Fredericks asked indignantly.

It was such a well played response that Billy almost believed it. Except he recalled the last dozen times he’d bought into it. His eyes narrowed. “Dinosaurs?” he said. “It’s like you’re not even trying.”

“I know how it sounds,” Fredericks said. “If this hadn’t come down from York himself, I would have chucked the file in the rubbish bin and had a thorough laugh.”

York, the head of the department. A man Billy had met several times but still felt tongue-tied whenever he entered the room. Fredericks was upping his game if he was throwing around big names like that.

Of course, Billy’s scepticism could have induced the need to up the ante.

He opted to retain his composure. He closed the file, shaking his head. “When I walk in that room, I’m going to be a laughing stock again, aren’t I?”

“If you don’t walk in that room, you’re going to be ignoring a personal request from the boss himself,” Fredericks said.

Billy scoffed. “You want me on a mission with dinosaurs,” he said.

“And time travel and top secret government projects,” Fredericks confirmed. “This is the big league, so to speak.”

“So, what, I go in there all wide-eyed so you can snap my picture?” Billy asked. “Should I hold up the file for you, just to make sure that the scope of my stupidity is on display when you post the pictures on the noticeboard?”

Fredericks sighed. “You’re being a wanker about this,” he said. “You act like we do this to you all the time.”

“You do!” Billy protested.

“You’re exaggerating—“

“The mission in Wales,” Billy reminded him.

Fredericks rolled his eyes. “That was nothing.”

“The Colbert mission,” Billy added.

“A small thing—“

“The mission to Antarctica,” Billy said with due force now.

Fredericks couldn’t help it. He grinned. “I still can’t believe you actually flew all the way down there before you worked it out.”

“On my own money and time, no less,” Billy said. “Do you know how many airline miles I had to use? I had to forfeit a trip for my mum to Spain for that.”

“Okay, okay,” Fredericks said, holding up his hands. “So you’re not without cause, but I swear, I’m not messing around this time.”

Billy lifted the file. “Dinosaurs!”

Fredericks sighed. “Look, just go inside,” he said. “Take a peek through the observation window. You’ll see.”

Billy was primed to protest.

“I promise you, Collins,” Fredericks said. “You’ll believe me when we get inside.”

Dubious, Billy determined that he had to keep himself together. Going inside the room wouldn’t be a disaster. Not if he kept himself cool and calm. Collected.

To make his point, he cast Fredericks with a wary eye.

Fredericks opened the door. “Trust me,” he said, holding it open and gesturing for Billy to go through.

Billy gave him one last look as he walked through. He was about to say, trust has to be earned or something equally cliché and trite, when he saw the room. A high-level analyst was there, papers spread out on the table as he looked out into the conference room. Then, through the glass, Billy saw York, prim and neat behind the table. There was another figure, younger, with wild hair. He wasn’t official because he was wearing a plain t-shirt and orange cargo pants.

Curious, Billy stepped closer, eyes focusing in on the man.

And then his heart nearly stopped, his throat going dry and eyes widening.

Fredericks sidled up next to him. “Told you,” he said, smirking. “Smile.”

Billy turned, gaping at him right as Fredericks took a picture on his phone. Billy would have been indignant, but he was too busy turning back to look at the man seated at the table with York.

Early 30s, fit and casual. Hands steady but worn, the sign of someone who worked with some amount of manual labour. Maybe guns, given the calluses. The attire was suggestive of someone without a formal occupation, someone with no interest in appearances. The keen blue eyes were indicative of intelligence but the hunched posture and bouncing leg told Billy he was nervous.

All of this was interesting and probably relevant if Billy could get his head around the central issue. Because if Billy could explain all those features away, he still had to contend with the fact that the man in the chair was the splitting image of himself.

-o-

The story was harder to tell than Stephen thought it would be. He’d meant to keep it entirely impersonal, a simple recitation of the facts as he knew them, but it was almost impossible to separate all the disparate emotions.

Because when he talked about Helen, there was embarrassment and anger and an inkling of trust he couldn’t shake. He wanted to explain how he knew she could be trusted because she’d possibly been the first woman he’d loved. All that aside, he also needed to say why she couldn’t be totally trusted, because he still felt his stomach bottom out when he thought about the cold way she’d outed their affair.

When he had to explain about Lester, it was a bit easier, though his shame and frustration was hard to parse. The way the man barely knew him, judged him so easily, found him expendable – it irked him. Irked him more because he couldn’t say that it was entirely without reason. There was something about him, though, and Stephen didn’t know quite how to justify it outside his pride.

The rest was hard, too. He had to explain his role in the team, the way he was put upon to protect the others while also doing as little damage as possible. It was a tightrope and one that they didn’t always walk correctly. People died. People with names and families and lives.

And he almost couldn’t speak at all when it came to Nick. In simple terms, Nick’s doubts were obvious. He knew something was going on, and Stephen’d had eight years to justify that. That was the simple truth of it, and probably the only truth that mattered. Nick’s doubts made Stephen’s worth pursuing.

The fact that Nick wouldn’t open up to him any more, the fact that Nick was keeping things from him – hurt. Ached, even. The impotency of that was what had driven him here in the first place. Stephen knew Nick didn’t owe him anything, and if he couldn’t be by Nick’s side to work this out, he’d make sure someone else was.

And no one was better equipped to face Helen and the ARC traitor than MI5. Cutter wouldn’t trust them either, but if the MI5 did their work right, he would never have to know.

This could all go away.

The man in front of him took diligent notes. When Stephen finished his rendition, York paused, chewing his lip and looking carefully at his paper.

Finally, he looked up. “Let me be frank, Mr Hart.”

“I’d appreciate that,” Stephen replied.

York inclined his head with a semblance of appreciation. “Your doubts substantiate much of the intelligence we’ve been gathering over the last few months.”

Stephen straightened, surprised.

York nodded and continued, “The ARC is a project we’ve watched closely and we’ve long suspected it to be open to compromise in a way that makes all of us uncomfortable.”

“Do you know who the traitor is?” Stephen asked.

“No,” York replied. “Whoever it is, he or she is well embedded and has passed all vetting procedures. It’s our belief that they were turned after their employment.”

“So it could be Lester?” Stephen prompted.

“Or it could be you,” York said with a rueful smile.

Stephen bristled.

York waved a hand. “You miss my point,” he said. “It has always been our belief that the traitor is not working alone. Your intel about the man you saw in your foray in the past only further confirms that, though it does raise more concerns that the scope of the plan is beyond what we’ve so far suspected. Mostly, at this point, we don’t even believe that the traitor you’re looking for is the mastermind of the operation to undermine the ARC and compromise national security.”

“Then who?” Stephen asked.

York’s smile was slightly condescending. “I had half hoped you’d see it by now, but she still has power over you.”

Stephen raised his eyebrows. “Helen?”

“You suspect it yourself, or you wouldn’t be here,” York said. “Your file suggested that she had dominance over you. That’s not unexpected, mind you. Women who abuse their authority over the men under them – no pun necessarily intended – often inflict certain long term consequences. In fact, we’d long suspected that she’d try to use you to achieve her ends, so we’re pleasantly surprised to see you here trying to prevent that.”

It was a mixture of horror and embarrassment. It was in his file? He had a file? And they knew about the affair?

More than that, they thought he could be turned? “I’d never betray my friends,” he said, bolstering himself, chest puffing slightly.

“Not intentionally,” York agreed. “Dr Cutter’s manipulative wiles are rather impressive, and given your history, you are a ripe target. You do still care for her.”

“Of course I do,” Stephen said, feeling himself flush. “I mean, she wasn’t always like that.”

“You’re protecting your first love,” York said. “It’s almost sweet were it not so misguided. You have to consider now where your true loyalties lie. With Dr Cutter or the rest?”

It wasn’t even a question. Helen or Nick. No matter how he felt about Helen, it would always be Nick. He’d survived eight years without Helen; eight weeks on Cutter’s bad side and he was falling apart.

York was watching him carefully, discerningly. “That’s what I thought,” he said. “Which is why we have a plan.”

This struck Stephen as odd. He’d just arrived this morning. “How could you have a plan already?”

York nodded toward the one-way mirror. “We have been monitoring the situation for a while,” he said, looking steadily back at Stephen. “As I explained, we’ve pinpointed you as a likely source of infiltration for quite some time.”

“I still don’t understand,” Stephen said.

“It seemed rather fortuitous,” York continued.

Behind him the door opened. Stephen looked up. The first man who entered was nondescript. The second…

Stephen’s heart stuttered.

York grinned in amusement. “And here’s our backup plan,” he announced.

Stephen was still struggling to breathe as the other man stood in the doorway.

“Stephen Hart,” York said, “meet Billy Collins.”

NEXT

Comments

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: June 4th, 2012 08:22 am (UTC)
Stephen and Abby

You do know that this will be my new head-canon now, right?
I love the involvement of MI5 and the doppelganger. And yay for Stephen and thinking rationally :)

You just definitely made my next few weeks with two major fics :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 6th, 2012 11:52 am (UTC)
billy guitar

I'm always glad to provide fun head-canon. Given how Primeval ended up in S2 and how short Chaos was, sometimes head-canon is the only reprieve.

And I love Stephen but he was seriously stupid sometimes in S2. I mostly blame the writers but he certainly did suffer for it on screen!

LOL, I just have to see if I can remember to keep posting this fics on time! Thanks!

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: June 4th, 2012 08:22 am (UTC)
Blurred


*runs around excitedly in ever-decreasing circles until I trip over myself*

I love the title! And the prologue bit!

****Somehow, she managed to get me to write an 80k fic in less than a month!****

LOL. Let's see how fast we can get you to do the sequel ;) Your dedication was wonderful, and I apologise for my birthdate leaving not much room to get it done in. Hee.

I like the idea that Stephen did say 'no' to Helen and that he did break it off and why. I love that Stephen heads to MI5 because he's worried for the team and everyone, and that MI5 already know so much about things. Yay for Billy! He can do my paperwork. And anything else he fancies turning his hands to.

Great look into the heads of Stephen and Billy and setting up. Thanks so very much!!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 6th, 2012 11:54 am (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

Only you would be badgering me about a sequel when I've barely started posting this one :)

It seems increasingly annoying that the writers did what they did with Stephen's storyline when we've come up with endless ways that handle the situation so much better. I mean, could they have picked a more frustrating way if they tried?

That said, I'm glad you're enjoying this AU. Since I did write it for you!

Thanks!

Posted by: freddiejoey (freddiejoey)
Posted at: June 4th, 2012 10:57 am (UTC)
pic#117539188

This is fantastic.

Big yay from me!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 6th, 2012 11:55 am (UTC)
stephen shocked

So glad you like it! Thanks!

Posted by: scwlc_fic (scwlc_fic)
Posted at: June 4th, 2012 01:55 pm (UTC)

"And in the right light, Fredericks did look a bit like Judi Dench."

I'm sorry, I've been stuck there for a while. I haven't seen this show and I'm still stuck right there. Also, I do love the other series doppelganger fics.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 6th, 2012 11:55 am (UTC)
stephen hair

LOL, I'm glad you've liked the start :) Thanks!

Posted by: knitekat (knitekat)
Posted at: June 4th, 2012 04:19 pm (UTC)

Ooh, great idea. Yay for Stephen being sensible about everything and not (totally) believing Helen. More now ;)

Edited at 2012-06-04 04:21 pm (UTC)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 6th, 2012 11:56 am (UTC)
stephen's eyes

I really do prefer to think of him having some common sense, even if canon is not totally supportive of that.

More should hopefully be up tomorrow.

Thanks :)

Posted by: goldarrow (goldarrow)
Posted at: June 4th, 2012 04:54 pm (UTC)

This is great.
Glad it's going to go long! Looks like the beginnings of an intricate plot, which well deserves time to unravel threads!

And the lead-in paragraph is really fantastic.

One thing that's always driven me nuts about Stephen is his insistence that they tell people about the anomalies. I never could understand that, considering the possible consequences of general knowledge of them. This gives a brilliant reason for that need of his. Kudos!

Awaiting next installment with bated breath!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 6th, 2012 11:59 am (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

It's been my working theory for a while that since one lie basically ruined Stephen's life, he might be a little wary of dishonesty as a policy in the aftermath. I'm sure he probably wished he could go back and just tell the truth, no matter how bad the fallout, because it would surely be better than where he ended up.

Anyway, I hope the rest doesn't disappoint. I'll be trying to update tomorrow!

Thanks!

Posted by: reggietate (reggietate)
Posted at: June 4th, 2012 07:36 pm (UTC)
stephen-nick-m25

Am liking this muchly :-) Looking forward to seeing what;s going on.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 6th, 2012 11:59 am (UTC)
stephen skeptical

I'm glad the start intrigues you. I hope the subsequent parts aren't a let down :)

Thanks!

Posted by: fredbassett (fredbassett)
Posted at: June 4th, 2012 09:17 pm (UTC)

This is a great opener!!

I love these two shows crossed together and I'm definitely looking forward to the rest.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 6th, 2012 12:00 pm (UTC)
billy knows

I find these shows have good crossover potential. They're fun to mesh.

Thanks!

Posted by: Cordelia Delayne (cordeliadelayne)
Posted at: June 4th, 2012 11:09 pm (UTC)
[primeval] nick cutter

This is fantastic! I can't wait to see where you're going with it. I really like the idea of Stephen wanting the anomalies to become public because he knows the damage lies cause.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 6th, 2012 12:01 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter

I'm really glad it's working so far! Hopefully the rest isn't a disappointment :) And if anyone knows the damage of lying, it's Stephen.

Thanks!

Posted by: flaccidduck (flaccidduck)
Posted at: June 5th, 2012 02:03 am (UTC)

Fabulous beginning!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 6th, 2012 12:01 pm (UTC)
stephen goodbye

Thanks so much!

Posted by: joshinator (joshinator)
Posted at: June 5th, 2012 11:08 am (UTC)
pic#117536650

Awesome start

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 6th, 2012 12:01 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

Thanks!

Posted by: lsellersfic (lsellersfic)
Posted at: June 12th, 2012 05:03 pm (UTC)
Primeval:Stephen

I've not seen Chaos (keep meaning to), but I like the set up here and you give a good sense of who Billy Collins is, even though I haven't seen the show.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 13th, 2012 03:51 pm (UTC)
billy thinks

Chaos is a very enjoyable show. I recommend it, and not just for obvious casting choices.

I'm glad you liked the start of this! Thanks!

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