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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Primeval fic: One Unlucky Mugger (Second Life verse)

October 11th, 2012 (09:59 pm)
tired

feeling: tired

Title: One Unlucky Mugger (Two Lucky Friends)

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

A/N: Again, with credit for all things to lena7142 and thanks to everyone who continues to read :) Part of the Continued Adventures of Feral Stephen.

Summary: The problem was that Cutter had been mugged in London with Stephen.



-o-

Muggings happened.

Cutter knew this logically. He had read the paper; he had heard stories. But it had never seemed especially pertinent to him, especially when he spent most of his time fending off dinosaurs or trying to investigate rifts in time.

Or rescuing long lost friends who were longer lost than he’d believed. Or trying to re-integrate said long lost friends back into regular society.

All of which was easier said than done.

So Cutter wasn’t paying attention to the young man with the oversized coat walking down the street. He and Stephen were on their way to lunch -- he’d managed to convince the man to use a fork today by offering to buy him something. Stephen, of course, was being difficult, trailing after Cutter while they wound their way through the quiet afternoon streets.

But when Cutter had turned the corner, there the kid was. He looked skittish and Cutter was about to skirt around him when the kid stopped cold in his path and pulled a knife.

Dinosaurs, anomalies and knife-wielding kids.

“Give me your wallet!” the kid said, too high pitched and squeaky to be threatening.

Cutter was about to say no, but the young man held the knife closer. It wasn’t particularly big, but it was sharp and it occurred to Cutter that even as dim witted as the lad seemed, he could probably stab Cutter just fine.

Glaring, he pulled out his wallet. “You don’t want to do this,” he said, shaking his head.

The kid grunted. “I think I do,” he said, snatching the wallet before Cutter could protest and running off down the street.

Stephen picked that moment to come around the corner. “What was that?” he asked.

Cutter glared, not sure what annoyed him most: the kid with the knife, the fact that Cutter had let it happen, or Stephen’s uncanny timing. Mostly, it was all of the above. “Well,” he said, gesturing angrily down the street for true melodramatic effect. “The sod just mugged me!”

-o-

In retrospect, it wasn’t so much that he’d been mugged that was the problem. Really, his modest exclamation in the busy streets of London was entirely reasonable, perhaps even understated. Rather, the problem was that he’d been mugged in London with Stephen.

The Stephen he’d used to know probably would have gone after the mugger, broken into a brisk jog and followed him through the alleyways in hopes of cornering him and reasoning with him. It undoubtedly would have been a fool’s errand, since muggers knew their area and knew their escape routes. Still, it would have been a nice gesture. An understandable gesture while Cutter gaped and rang the police.

This
Stephen had the same sense of justice it seemed. Only he didn’t take after the kid with a brisk jog. He ran. It was a flat-out sprint, not carefully sidestepping the other pedestrians, but half-bowling them over, darting in and out, dodging into the street and leaping up and over a car before landing lightly on his feet and running lightly across the pavement with the grace of a damn cheetah.

And as the kid rounded a corner, attempting to disappear, Stephen rounded right after him, with a speed and agility that was frightening. The poor bloke wasn’t going to get away. If Stephen could stalk and kill predators from the future with nothing more than a hand-made blade and his wits, a daft mugger in the streets of London didn’t have a hope in hell of escaping.

Then it occurred to Cutter that this Stephen probably wasn’t going to sit quietly and talk the kid down.

This Stephen didn’t like to talk much at all. He preferred to act. To execute.

“Bloody hell,” Cutter muttered, realizing he had a worse problem than a missing wallet at the moment.

And he took off running.

-o-

It was probably quite a sight. A mugger, a half-feral man, and a bumbling Scottish professor running down the street. It sounded like a bad joke.

It felt like a bad dream.

And when Cutter finally rounded the corner, winded and desperate, it was nothing but a bad reality.

-o-

The kid was on the ground, legs flailing. He yelped, his voice high pitched and terrified. “I just took the wallet!” he wailed. The knife was lying uselessly next to his restrained hand. “You can have it back, I swear!”

Stephen, however, didn’t appear to be swayed by his compelling pleas. Instead, the man had straddled the lad, poised high on his chest, legs effectively pinning him at the shoulders. With one hand, he had the kid’s head pulled back by the hair, exposing his throat while the kid strained in vain.

The other hand was at the kid’s throat, wrapped around it but not quite squeezing even as Stephen knelt lower and snarled, teeth bared.

For a moment, Cutter remembered this. Remembered Stephen was as much a predator as anything back in the Permian. He was skilled and honed, and even if he wasn’t living among prehistoric beasts any longer, those instincts hadn’t gone away. Might never go away.

This
was why Stephen still had trouble sleeping at night. This was why he resisted using silverware and wearing clothes. This was why he flinched when people touched him, why he sometimes growled instead of spoke.

Almost nine years, surviving on his own. Stephen had adapted to survive, and even bringing him back home couldn’t change that. Cutter could talk him into getting dressed and using forks. He could help show him human interaction again, coax him into conversation and help him talk through the nightmares. But he would never change these reflexes, which were as much a part of Stephen as anything else by now.

This
was Stephen. For better and for worse, and Cutter needed to understand that. Needed to accept that.

Needed to stop that before he murdered a kid over a couple pounds and some extended juvenile malfeasance.

“Stephen!” Cutter yelled.

Stephen didn’t seem to hear him, fingers tightening while the kid started to cry.

Cutter moved forward, faster now. “Stephen!”

Stephen’s entire body was tense, coiled so tightly that he looked ready to spring. And he probably was, in full on fight or flight. But there was no indecision with it. Just fight.

Cutter could help cover up a lot, but he wasn’t sure anything would spare Stephen from the consequences if this went wrong--

And Cutter couldn’t let that happen. Too much had happened to Stephen. The idea of him being kicked out of the ARC or worse, facing charges -- it wasn’t possible.

Cutter had worked too hard to bring Stephen back, to save him. Now he had to save Stephen again -- this time, from himself.

Jaw clenched, he reached down, fingers locking around Stephen’s bicep. “Stephen,” he said. “Look at me.”

At that, Stephen flinched, twitching as he shook his head.

“I think you’ve got him,” Cutter cajoled, ignoring the kid as he whimpered pathetically.

Stephen seemed to hear him, and after a few slow moments, Cutter saw the white in his knuckles abate. His posture eased just slightly, and he shook his head again. “He’s a thief. He threatened to kill you.”

“I know,” Cutter said, gently and evenly, keeping his hold unyielding. “And he’s also just a kid.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Stephen snapped, seething a little. “There’s a natural order. He defied it.”

Cutter didn’t move. “Maybe,” he said. “But that’s what humans do, isn’t it? What makes us all the same?”

Humans made mistakes; humans fixed mistakes. Humans did the right thing and they did the wrong thing. They were capable of that, of right and wrong, good and evil. It separated them from the other creatures on this Earth. It defined them.

It was what made this kid’s life worth saving. It was what made it possible to forgive Stephen for sleeping with his wife.

Ultimately, it was what kept Stephen from becoming a predator like the rest of the creatures in the Permian.

At least, that was what Cutter had to believe now.

Finally, Stephen’s grip went lax, hand pulling away. He released the boy’s hair, sitting back just slightly. He seemed to breath -- once and twice -- before blinking slowly with a nod.

Cutter saw his opening -- and he took it. Carefully, he pulled back and this time, Stephen allowed himself to be moved. He stood, stepping off the kid, who curled up pathetically on the ground.

“Good,” Cutter said, glancing from the boy to Stephen. “Now I think maybe we should talk.”

-o-

Cutter got his wallet back, and the boy took off down the alley at a sprint. Sullen, Stephen watched as the kid ran off, disappearing down the street and becoming lost in the foot traffic beyond the alley. When he was gone, Cutter turned to Stephen, who pinned him with a disdainful look.

“He deserved to be punished,” Stephen said.

Cutter chuckled. “I think you nearly ripping his throat out was punishment enough,” he said. “I doubt we’ll be seeing him around these parts again.”

Stephen didn’t look convinced. “He threatened you.”

“It’s a wallet,” Cutter said.

“He had a knife,” Stephen reminded him.

Cutter shrugged. “Still,” he said. “There are more important things.”

“Like what?” Stephen asked harshly, reminding Cutter that this wasn’t his Stephen. This wasn’t the man he’d known. Or maybe, it had been once, before Helen had used him and left him and time had forced him to change.

Cutter sighed. “Like human life,” he said. “Like second chances. Don’t you remember? A second life?”

Stephen’s face registered the reference, and for a moment, all the hardness was gone and Cutter saw the lonely, worn man who had nearly died to save his life in the Permian. For just that instant, Stephen wasn’t feral and he wasn’t a predator; he was just a man who had been through more than anyone should and survived.

It had been a struggle, of course. It still was. Maybe that was the point.

Stephen’s shoulders slumped. “I just wanted to do the right thing,” he said.

“And I appreciate that,” Cutter replied readily. “I do. But it’s about balance. Killing a kid for stealing a wallet isn’t the right thing. It’s too much.”

“Letting him go isn’t right either,” Stephen pointed out.

“Maybe,” Cutter relented. “But maybe it makes us more human.”

Stephen thought about that, his blue eyes inscrutable. There was indecision; there was uncertainty. Finally, there was acceptance. He straightened just slightly and nodded. “I suppose I could do with being a little more human,” he said, with a twinge of resentment still in his voice.

Cutter had to smile. “I reckon we all could,” he said. Then he nodded down the street. “Come on. I still owe you that lunch.”

Stephen didn’t look particularly thrilled.

Cutter sighed. “I’ll even waive the fork requirement, just this once.”

Stephen’s face brightened a little, and as Cutter led them back down the street, he felt a little more human himself.

Comments

Page 1 of 2[1][2]
Posted by: natchris (natchris)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 04:42 am (UTC)
Stephen

You've made my day with this wonderful fic

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 16th, 2012 07:33 pm (UTC)
stephen and cutter

Aw, that makes me happy. Thanks!

Posted by: freddiejoey (freddiejoey)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 04:49 am (UTC)
Nick eriah

Stephen didn’t look particularly thrilled.

Cutter sighed. “I’ll even waive the fork requirement, just this once.”

Fic that makes you cheer and laugh and go 'aw' all at once

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 16th, 2012 07:33 pm (UTC)
stephen hair

I like my angst to have a happy ending :)

Thanks!

Posted by: lukadreaming (lukadreaming)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 06:30 am (UTC)
Stephen bruise

One of the many things I adore about this series is the way you can make my smile one minute and then want to cry the next ...!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 16th, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
stephen smiles

I love writing angst, but I tend to prefer things to be (mostly) resolved by the end.

Thanks!

Posted by: flaccidduck (flaccidduck)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 09:23 am (UTC)
Nick and Stephen

*applauds and cheers and sniffs*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 16th, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
stephen goodbye

Thank you!

Posted by: reggietate (reggietate)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 09:56 am (UTC)
stephen-nick-m25

*does a happy dance* This is splendid, a fine addition to the series.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 16th, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you!

Posted by: fredbassett (fredbassett)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 11:00 am (UTC)

I suspect that kid will be taking up a new hobby now!

Great look at both Nick and Stephen's reactions to the mugging.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 16th, 2012 07:35 pm (UTC)
stephen broken

Yeah, I would think that kid would seriously reconsider his life choices after that run in.

Thanks!

Posted by: judithjohn (judithjohn)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 11:50 am (UTC)
Cute Racoon

Stephen thought about that, his blue eyes inscrutable. There was indecision; there was uncertainty. Finally, there was acceptance. He straightened just slightly and nodded. “I suppose I could do with being a little more human,” he said, with a twinge of resentment still in his voice.

I'm in love with feral Stephen.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 16th, 2012 07:35 pm (UTC)
stephen hair

I'm rather fond of feral Stephen myself :)

Thanks!

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 12:08 pm (UTC)
Hair!


Stephen is protective of Cutter, no matter what version ;)

LOL at the end enticement. And that was great about Cutter thinking about mistakes and how Feral Stephen had been forged. Brill!

Stephen is very high maintenance *G*

"malfeasance" - every time I see that word now, I imagine Michael Dorset saying it and the funny scene it was part of! Hee

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 16th, 2012 07:36 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter

I do love that icon of yours :)

And heh, malfeasance is a good word, more so thanks to Michael.

Stephen may be high maintenance but he's so worth it.

Thanks!

Posted by: nietie (nietie)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 02:16 pm (UTC)
Nick/Stephen

"I just wanted to do the right thing." I love feral, protective Stephen, although he is a teeny bit scary *g*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 16th, 2012 07:36 pm (UTC)
stephen skeptical

He is a bit scary, though with the best of intentions. Most of the time.

Thanks!

Posted by: knitekat (knitekat)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 08:51 pm (UTC)

Nice look at protective Stephen.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 16th, 2012 07:37 pm (UTC)
stephen up

Stephen was on his own for so long that opening himself up to others would be a huge thing to him. And he'd have no coping mechanisms for all the complications that brings, especially when it comes to physical threats.

Thanks!

Posted by: clea2011 (clea2011)
Posted at: October 12th, 2012 09:52 pm (UTC)
stephen monster

Lovely addition to the series. Hopefully that kid has mugged his last person. And lol at the fork waiving. *g*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 16th, 2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
stephen smiles

I would think that kid has moved on from his mugging ways. And I'm not sure Stephen will ever willingly use a fork :)

Thanks!

Posted by: joshinator (joshinator)
Posted at: October 13th, 2012 02:34 am (UTC)
Nick - sally

Feral Stephen is awesome here!!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 16th, 2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

Thank you!

Posted by: aelfgyfu_mead (aelfgyfu_mead)
Posted at: October 13th, 2012 03:34 pm (UTC)
Nick & Stephen

Again, I feel bad for everybody! For Stephen, who really doesn't know how to handle the situation; he has lost much of whatever sense of complexity and nuance that he had before he was trapped in the past. I feel bad for the boy, though I hope he has been scared straight.

I feel a little bad for Nick, who constantly has to negotiate between present reality and a man whose instincts are all formed by the past. At least he got through to Stephen in time!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 16th, 2012 07:39 pm (UTC)
stephen skeptical

Stephen and Nick are have such an interesting relationship in this verse, which is one reason why I still find it so compelling to write about. There's an intense codependency and neither of them know quite what to do with that. It's complicated, to say the least.

Thanks!

Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: October 13th, 2012 07:10 pm (UTC)

I loved it!! Oh, the confusion, conflict for both of them for opposing reasons, for different frustrations, human frailty or not, right and wrong, morality and survival.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 16th, 2012 07:40 pm (UTC)
stephen shocked

The juxtaposition of Cutter and Stephen is really pretty fun to play with in this verse :)

Thanks!

Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: October 13th, 2012 07:13 pm (UTC)

Sorry, I clicked post by accidentally.

My fave part:

Stephen’s face registered the reference, and for a moment, all the hardness was gone and Cutter saw the lonely, worn man who had nearly died to save his life in the Permian. For just that instant, Stephen wasn’t feral and he wasn’t a predator; he was just a man who had been through more than anyone should and survived.

--sigh and thud. Wonderfully vulnerable description

Loved this!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 16th, 2012 07:41 pm (UTC)
stephen smiles

I love that about Feral Stephen. That he's so capable and so very, very vulnerable.

Thank you -- again!

34 Read Comments
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