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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Primeval Fic: Night Terrors (Second Life verse)

October 4th, 2012 (09:57 pm)

feeling: uncomfortable

Title: Night Terrors

Disclaimer: I do not own Primeval; lena7142 created Feral Stephen.

A/N: More in the Continued Adventures of Feral Stephen. Beta given by lena7142.

Summary: Stephen has trouble sleeping. Cutter mostly just has trouble.


Cutter woke up. Blinking his bleary eyes, he smacked his lips together and started to roll, ready to go back to sleep.

Then he saw the figure looming over his bed.

He came to with a gasp, sitting straight up and grappling for anything at his bedside with which to defend himself. His fingers encircled the lamp and he had it raised, when the figure cocked its head.

In an all too familiar way.

Cutter squinted. “Stephen?” he asked in disbelief, hoping this was a dream.

Stephen grunted. “A lamp?” he said. “You were going to defend yourself with a lamp?”

Cutter glared at him. “You’re the one barging into my home at -- what time is it anyway?”

“3:33 AM,” Stephen told him.

Cutter put the lamp down, glancing at the clock to confirm it. “Shite,” he muttered, flopping back and throwing a hand over his eyes. “What the hell are you doing here anyway?”

“I was out for a walk,” Stephen said.

Cutter moved his hand. “At 3:30 in the morning?”

Stephen shrugged. “I couldn’t sleep.”

“So you decided to break in and make sure I couldn’t either?” Cutter asked.

“You keep saying I should stop by,” Stephen said.

Cutter swore, a colorful line of curses that Stephen didn’t flinch at. Finally sitting up, Cutter turned on the lamp and got a good look at the other man.

He was only half dressed, wearing a pair of gray sleep pants without a shirt. He looked no more unkempt than usual, with no clear indication that he’d been to bed at all.

“During the daylight,” Cutter muttered. “Try ringing first. Or at least using the front door.”

“I did use the front door,” Stephen said.

Cutter gave him a look. “You’re not supposed to break in.”

“But otherwise I would have woken you up,” Stephen said.

Cutter stared.

Stephen nodded. “Point taken.”

Sighing, Cutter knew it was pointless to argue. He scrubbed a hand through his hair. “Since I’m up, you want a cuppa?”

Stephen brightened.

Groaning, Cutter threw back the covers and got out. “Alright then,” he said. “Let’s go.”


With the tea poured, Cutter found himself marginally awake. Or at least, coherent enough to recognize this behavior as odd -- even for Stephen.

The other man had walked around mostly naked, shied away from all human contact and generally been socially unacceptable during his transitionary phase. He’d also attempted to subdue angry predators with nothing more than a knife and good timing. Overall, he’d been a walking disaster, either too rusty with social convention to employ it properly or simply too annoyed to be bothered.

But sneaking into Cutter’s house at 3:30 was outside the realm of normal, even for Stephen’s more feral nature.

Which meant something was wrong.

The man hid it well, of course. He didn’t show much emotion other than disgust or annoyance during the best of days. But there was something just slightly off in his posture. He sat more stiffly than usual, fingers wrapped around the cup as he stared at it nervously.

“So,” Cutter said. “Something you want to talk about?”

Stephen looked up at him, almost surprised.

Cutter shrugged. “Or is this going to be a new thing,” he said. “We’re supposed to be nocturnal now?”

Stephen’s brow furrowed and he looked back down. “I didn’t think it’d be such a big deal.”

It was a lie, and Cutter knew that plainly. Stephen had never been a good liar, and though this natural version was often better at most things, he was actually worse when it came to deception. He simply didn’t have the nuance. He’d spent years training himself to live simply and survive. The idea of perpetuating falsehood hadn’t been necessary. Now that he was back, it was clear that Stephen found people too annoying to lie to them most of the time.

Not quite all of the time. When it came to things that really bothered Stephen -- things about his doubts and his fears, his uncertainties and his regrets -- he clammed up quickly, acting as awkward as a teenager on a first date. He got defensive; he got quiet.

He started breaking into people’s houses at 3:30 in the morning.

“Stephen,” Cutter said.

Stephen sighed.

“If you didn’t want to talk, you would have throttled me while I slept,” Cutter pointed out.

“Maybe I just like your company,” Stephen offered.

“Maybe you should tell me before I throttle you,” Cutter returned.

Stephen snorted. “I’d like to see you try.”


Stephen’s face went tight and he glared at his tea as though it had mortally offended him. “I can’t sleep,” he said, his voice so low it was barely audible.

Cutter leaned closer. “What?”

“I can’t sleep,” Stephen repeated, louder this time. He looked up, eyes burning. “I can’t bloody sleep at all. The flat is too quiet, there are cars instead of insects and every time the upstairs neighbor goes to the bathroom, I think it’s a gorgonopsid I have to kill.”

Cutter blinked. It wasn’t quite what he had expected. “It’s going to be a bit of a transition--”

Stephen blew out an angry breath. “I’ve tried to transition,” he said. “I sleep on the floor to be more comfortable. I tried a bloody CD of nature sounds but they aren’t the real thing. And every time I close my eyes, I--”

His voice caught, and he swallowed back hard, looking away. There was more to this.

Cutter inched forward. “You what?” he pressed gently.

Stephen drew a long breath, letting it out. “I have these dreams.”

Cutter waited. “What kind of dreams?”

Stephen shrugged, clearly uncomfortable. “Bad ones,” he said. “Dinosaurs and predators, people dying all around me. Helen comes back and starts mucking things up.”

“Have you always had these dreams?” Cutter asked.

“Before it was just me, and I could always take care of myself,” Stephen said. Then he shifted uncomfortably. “But now it’s other people. It’s Abby and Connor. Claudia and...you.”

And Cutter understood. He probably should have figured it out sooner, all things considered. The doctors had said Stephen would probably have some lingering issues, and Cutter had just been foolish enough to believe that poor social etiquette would be the worst of their problems. Stephen handled everything so well. Despite what had been done to him, what he had survived, he’d readapted back to modern life with relative ease.

But he’d spent nine years in the past, most of that on his own. It would have an impact -- and a lasting one. It was why Stephen still flinched at being touched, why he was still withdrawn in social situations. It was why people annoyed him -- because annoyance was easier to deal with than concern.

“They’re just dreams,” Cutter began.

Stephen’s face darkened. “I know that,” he snapped.

Cutter rubbed his eyes, the night catching up with him. Clearly, Stephen didn’t want to be coddled. And at this time of night, Cutter was in no position to do the coddling. “Well, since you’re here, do you want to crash on the couch?” Cutter asked finally. “Claudia is gone for the week.”

Stephen tried his best not to look relieved at the offer.

Cutter put the cup down, and got to his feet. “If you need something else--”

“I know where to find you,” Stephen concluded.

Which wasn’t very reassuring at all.


In the morning, Cutter was exhausted. When he stumbled out of bed, he found Stephen in the kitchen.

“What are you making?” Cutter asked.

“Steak,” Stephen replied.

“For breakfast?”

Stephen looked at him. “It sounded good.”

Cutter rolled his eyes. “Of course it did.”

Stephen frowned. “If you want something else--”

Cutter sat heavily at the table and waved his hand. “No, no,” he said. “Steak’s fine. As long as there’s coffee.”


Cutter felt miserable that day. If Stephen was dragging it was hard to tell since he was his usual taciturn self.

That night, when he went to bed, Cutter locked all the doors. And the windows.

Just to be safe.


That night, he woke to a dark figure over his bed.

Cutter rolled over, burying his head into his pillow and bellowing in frustration.


“You know, you have a problem,” Cutter said as Stephen made breakfast again.

“Lots of creatures are nocturnal,” Stephen replied.

“You work all day,” he said. “We both need to sleep at night.”

Stephen shrugged, poking through the fridge. “Do you have any bacon?”

And Cutter poured himself the largest cup of coffee he could find.


After work, Stephen made to say goodbye.

Cutter just shook his head. “You might as well just come over now,” he said. “Or I’m going to start sleeping with a cricket bat.”

“It wouldn’t make a difference.”

Cutter looked at him.

Stephen had the decency to look sheepish as he followed him out, head ducked as he climbed willingly into Cutter’s car.

Starting the engine, Cutter sighed. “When I rescued you from the Permian, this wasn’t what I had in mind.”

“I seem to remember doing most of the rescuing.”

Cutter glared at him.

Stephen shrugged.

And Cutter drove them home.


That night, Cutter made no pretenses. “You will sleep tonight,” he said. “On this couch. All night. You will not get out of bed.”

Stephen nodded dutifully. “It’s not nearly as much fun to walk in on you when you don’t get as scared anyway.”

This time, Cutter was too tired to even glare.


Cutter slept.

It was a deep and beautiful sleep. He was dreaming about Claudia, about her smile and her lips and her body next to his--

And then she screamed.

Loud and unrelenting, like something was trying to eviscerate her.

Bloody and awful and rending and--

Cutter woke up.

It wasn’t Claudia, but it was screaming. It was--

Scrambling to his feet, Cutter ran to the door. “Stephen!”


By the time Cutter got to the living room, Stephen was thrashing on the floor. His entire body was flailing, his yells guttural and desperate. He appeared to be attempting to defend himself -- he also appeared to be scared out of his mind.

Frantic, Cutter ran to him, going to his knees as he tried to settle him, ducking the flailing limbs as best he could. “Stephen,” he said. “You’re okay. Stephen!”

The thrashing didn’t slow, and Stephen made a whimpering sound.

Cutter reached out and touched his arm; the man responded violently, lashing out powerfully and half lunging at Cutter. It sent him sprawling back, and it was all Cutter could do to defend himself as Stephen landed on top of him, face twisted in a vicious snarl with his hand raised to strike.

His eyes were open, but not quite seeing.

“Stephen!” Cutter tried again, squirming ineffectually as the other man seemed ready to bear down.

Then, recognition.

Then, understanding.

Then, horror.

Stephen’s face crumpled and he shifted back, tripping his way off of Cutter and landing hard on his bottom, back pressed against the couch. His eyes were wide and terrified, his breath in fast, short spurts as his entire body trembled.

For a moment, Cutter could only lie there, heart pounding. Stephen could have killed him -- almost killed him.

It was sobering.

Looking at Stephen, it was also heartbreaking.

The man was strong and independent, capable and purposeful. And he looked like a small child who had just woken from a bad dream. Cutter remembered Stephen’s screams in the thicket, his entire body bucking desperately. He’d attributed it to the throes of the fever, but maybe it’d been more than that.

Maybe it’d been more normal than Cutter could have imagined.

Years of fighting to survive, of existing always with the threat of death -- it had to have a toll on the psyche. Stephen couldn’t have become the hardened man that he was without some compromises. If he brutally squashed all emotions, they had to come out sometimes. Like in his dreams.

In the past, there had been no one there to comfort him. No one even there to hear his screams.

Now that Stephen was back...

It didn’t have to be that way anymore.

And if Cutter had his way about it, it wouldn’t be.


It took some time before Stephen seemed collected enough to speak. Cutter made tea again, putting Stephen’s cup on the table by the couch. He settled across from Stephen with his own and asked, “So how long has this been going on?”

Stephen shrugged miserably. “I lost track of the years,” he said.

“But it has been years,” Cutter confirmed.

“It wasn’t a big deal before,” Stephen said.

“Yes, I’m sure you had bigger issues back then,” Cutter said. “But you don’t have bigger issues now. You need to deal with it.”

Stephen looked at him with a scowl. “Why do you think I told you I couldn’t sleep?”

“You blamed it on your neighbor sounding like a gorgonopsid.”

Stephen looked down again, duly chagrined. “It didn’t matter when no one heard me,” he said.

“And you think that’s why it matters now?” Cutter asked, incredulous.

“It’s stupid.”

“Stephen, it’s your mind’s way of trying to deal with what’s happened to you,” he said. “If you push all your emotions back, they’ve got no other place to go.”

“I just need to learn to sleep heavier,” Stephen said.

“No,” Cutter countered. “You just need to learn that you don’t have to do everything on your own.”

“I’ve been better with the team,” Stephen said, a bit defensively.

“On the job, maybe,” Cutter agreed. “But you can trust them with the other things, too.”

Stephen looked uncertain.

“You can trust me, anyway,” he said. “I mean, you already break into my house at 3:30 AM, so you might as well just start to talk to me during the day so we can try to avoid these little sessions.”

“You think it’s that easy?” Stephen asked. “I talk about my feelings and suddenly I’m cured?”

“No,” Cutter said. “But I think it’s a good place to start.”


They didn’t sleep that night. But in the long hours when Stephen talked about the worst things he’d seen, the worst scrapes he’d come through, the things he’d feared the most, Cutter didn’t yawn once.

And in the morning, when Stephen was sleeping peacefully on the couch, Cutter decided the sleeplessness was worth it in the end.


Cutter rolled over and wrapped his arms around Claudia. She snuggled deeper next to him, giggling while half asleep. He nuzzled her and she mumbled something happily back as their lips met.

As Cutter rolled over, he saw the figure and groaned. “Stephen,” he said. “I told you, just go kip out on the couch. You don’t need to wake me every time.”

“You didn’t leave out a pillow,” Stephen said.

Cutter groaned and threw his at Stephen, who caught it easily. “Thanks,” he said, retreating back out.

Claudia was sitting up, looking at him curiously. “Now that Stephen’s squared away,” she said, pulling Cutter closer. “My turn.”

And Cutter was only too happy to oblige.


Page 1 of 2[1][2]
Posted by: flaccidduck (flaccidduck)
Posted at: October 5th, 2012 03:08 am (UTC)

fabulous fic. Made me smile and brought a tear to my eye.

“You think it’s that easy?” Stephen asked. “I talk about my feelings and suddenly I’m cured?”

“No,” Cutter said. “But I think it’s a good place to start.”

Yes indeed.....

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 03:01 am (UTC)
stephen broken

Thank you so much :) I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Posted by: freddiejoey (freddiejoey)
Posted at: October 5th, 2012 03:47 am (UTC)
Nick -sally

I love this fic so so much.

Bravo and Wow and Wonderful!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 03:02 am (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

Aw, thank you!

Posted by: joshinator (joshinator)
Posted at: October 5th, 2012 03:56 am (UTC)
Nick - sally


really awesome.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 03:02 am (UTC)
stephen smiles

Thanks so much!

Posted by: lukadreaming (lukadreaming)
Posted at: October 5th, 2012 07:15 am (UTC)
Stephen bruise

Lovely fic. I may have snivelled a touch ...!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 03:02 am (UTC)
stephen smiles

Aw, I'm very glad you liked it. Thanks!s

Posted by: reggietate (reggietate)
Posted at: October 5th, 2012 08:19 am (UTC)

I spent the whole fic alternately howling with laughter and going, oh, poor Stephen! Splendid fic, just right for a dreary Friday :-)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 03:03 am (UTC)
stephen and cutter

I'm so glad it hit the spot :) Thanks!

Posted by: natchris (natchris)
Posted at: October 5th, 2012 08:50 am (UTC)

Moving and poignant and really humorous at the same time.

Brilliant mix.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 03:03 am (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

Thank you!

Posted by: squeezynz (squeezynz)
Posted at: October 5th, 2012 10:54 am (UTC)

still reading, still loving this AU....and loving the depth, the insights and explanations.


Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 03:04 am (UTC)
stephen cutter

I'm glad you're not bored of it yet! It's been a lot of fun to explore.


Posted by: judithjohn (judithjohn)
Posted at: October 5th, 2012 11:27 am (UTC)
Abby in orange

Friday and Feral Stephen!


Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 03:04 am (UTC)
stephen cutter

Aw, so glad you like it :)


Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: October 5th, 2012 11:58 am (UTC)

LOL. I hope Stephen has earphones along with a pillow in that last scene. Love how Claudia and Nick have adjusted to their nocturnal houseguest too.

So much going on in this fic, so much fun stuff and deeper stuff and poor Stephen and poor Nick and dwindling coffee supplies *G*. Great tie-in with Stephen's dreams in the original fic. Hee at Stephen's solution to his problem.


(Edited to roll out an icon that I'm sure you'd appreciate)

Edited at 2012-10-05 12:01 pm (UTC)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 03:05 am (UTC)
stephen skeptical

Heh. That icon is wonderful :)

Stephen's dreams in the original fic was one of my favorite moments, so I was thrilled when Lena prompted me with more.


Posted by: fredbassett (fredbassett)
Posted at: October 5th, 2012 01:24 pm (UTC)

Oh, poor Stephen! Night terrors are vile, and there never seems an easy way of dealing with them.

I love the way Nick just manages to cope with it all. I can almost see the expression of exasperation on his face when Stephen keeps appearing, but through it all he's still there for him.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 03:06 am (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

I imagine Stephen has a whole lot of baggage that they've just started to deal with. It's a good thing Nick is committed, no matter what, this time around.


Posted by: aunteeneenah (aunteeneenah)
Posted at: October 5th, 2012 05:16 pm (UTC)

I do enjoy this 'verse and appreciate the way you don't make it all go away just because Stephen is back in the 21st century. Cutter has been wonderful and accepting of Stephen and this particular one was very, very good. Well, they've all been good but this one really touched me. Well done.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 03:07 am (UTC)
stephen blue wonder

There are so many issues to explore with this Stephen that I don't know if I ever really want to stop writing about him. He fascinates me!

Thanks :)

Posted by: knitekat (knitekat)
Posted at: October 5th, 2012 08:29 pm (UTC)

Lovely look at the effects of being alone had on Stephen.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 03:07 am (UTC)
stephen blue wonder

He really does have a lot of issues to sort through.


Posted by: clea2011 (clea2011)
Posted at: October 5th, 2012 10:38 pm (UTC)
stephen monster

Great installment, both funny and moving at the same time. Poor Stephen.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 03:07 am (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

Thank you :)

Posted by: nietie (nietie)
Posted at: October 6th, 2012 05:58 pm (UTC)

Great fic. *giggles at the ending*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 03:07 am (UTC)
stephen smiles

So glad you liked it :)


Posted by: lsellersfic (lsellersfic)
Posted at: October 11th, 2012 06:05 pm (UTC)

Poor Stephen!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 03:08 am (UTC)
stephen and cutter

And poor Nick :) And even poor Claudia!

Thanks :)

36 Read Comments
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