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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Primeval fic: Tooth and Claw (Second Life verse)

November 22nd, 2012 (08:49 pm)
full

feeling: full

Title: Tooth and Claw

Disclaimer: I do not own Primeval; feral Stephen was created by lena7142.

A/N: Next in the Continued Adventures of Feral Stephen. Thanks as always to lena7142 for her help.

Summary: Stephen and Cutter realize which things are worth fighting for.


-o-

Stephen was frustrated.

Cutter was keenly aware of this, though he was not certain how he wanted to respond. Stephen was often frustrated. He found showering daily frustrating. He found the cumbersome use of forks frustrating. He found small talk, speed limits, meetings, and weaponry laws frustrating. Sometimes it seemed Stephen had two emotions: frustrated and annoyed.

That wasn’t entirely true, nor was it exactly fair, but in Cutter’s defense, the person who helped diffuse said frustration was him more often than not, and in addition to chasing dinosaurs, he sometimes found that managing Stephen’s transition back to normal life was, well, frustrating.

Though Stephen’s feelings were not without merit. The man had been stranded in the Permian for eight years after being used and left by Helen. He’d struggled to survive, suffering more turmoil and isolation than Cutter could appropriately envision.

Plus, this was Stephen. He’d failed enough Stephen Harts. He wasn’t going to mess it up again. Especially since Stephen deserved a second chance.

With that in mind, Cutter approached the other man. He was seated at a research table in the lab, hunched over and glaring. His forehead was wrinkled, eyes zeroed in with the utmost concentration.

“Trouble with the results?” Cutter asked before he got closer and saw that Stephen was staring at his mobile.

“No,” Stephen said without looking up.

Cutter waited for him to elaborate. Instead Stephen studiously punched a few keys before blowing out an angry breath and deleting furiously. Hesitating one more second, Cutter committed himself to this conversation and edged closer still. “Mobile acting up?”

It was actually a legitimate question. Cutter had procured a mobile for Stephen fairly quickly, thinking it would be the best way to keep in touch in case of some sort of emergency or uncertainty. Stephen had figured out how to use it fairly quickly, but he had also taken a sure dislike to it. For two weeks, whenever the thing rang, he sprang to, alert and ready to eviscerate something before he realized it was just his ringtone.

Plus, Stephen was rough on phones -- and all other breakable objects, for that matter. When Cutter finally coerced him into carrying it with him, he had a tendency to destroy it. It got trampled by dinosaurs, eaten by giant insects, crushed when Stephen fell off roofs or jumped in front of cars. In the months Stephen had been back, he’d gone through no less than seven phones, so Cutter wouldn’t have been surprised to find that Stephen had managed to mangle another.

But Stephen scowled and shook his head. “The mobile is fine.”

Cutter raised his eyebrows. “Then why do you look like you want to murder it?”

Stephen pursed his mouth disgustedly. “Connor texted me.”

Cutter made a grunt of commiseration. “He has a habit of that,” he said, thinking about the random texts he received at 2 AM that were nothing more than obscure song lyrics Cutter had no interest in knowing. Curious, he moved closer, trying to get a peek at the screen. “What did he say?”

Straightening, Stephen sighed. “Sorry -- can’t make lunch. Next time.”

Cutter frowned nonchalantly. “That’s surprisingly coherent for Connor,” he said. “What’s the problem?”

Stephen’s shoulders slumped. “I can’t text back.”

Overall, Stephen had acclimated to the advances in technology fairly well, though sometimes he was still a little hesitant to use touch interfaces and seemed wary of computerized security protocols. In general, Stephen just stayed clear of Jess’ centralized hub altogether if he could help it. It was easy to forget sometimes how much could change in a decade. “It’s not hard,” Cutter said, leaning forward to demonstrate. “You’ve already got the keyboard right, so you just need to--”

Glaring, Stephen jerked away. “I know how to do it,” he said tersely. “I’m not an idiot.”

Surprised, Cutter blinked at him. “Well, then what’s the problem?”

Stephen sighed, a bit melodramatically. “I just don’t know what to say.”

“What do you mean?”

Stephen pointed at the mobile. “There are certain etiquettes to abide by,” he said. “Certain standards that vary for every person. Responding to Connor is different than responding to you or to Abby or to Sarah or Claudia. He has an offbeat sense of humor. He requires a different interpersonal approach in order to appropriately engage him.”

At that, Cutter gaped just a little. Stephen had distinctive thought processes -- that much had been made apparent to Cutter from the beginning -- but the odd monologue was something different entirely. It was clinical and it was thoughtful, something Stephen had been thinking about for a while.

Helpless, Stephen shrugged. “Being able to fit in with a peer group requires speaking in the appropriate lingo,” he continued. “And Connor is making every effort to incorporate me into his peer group, and I need to find the right response in order to show my continued interest and appreciation.”

Cutter blinked again, trying to process it all.

Frustration mounting, Stephen continued. “And I keep trying to keep in mind his personality and his interests, but I lack the cultural context to make witty retorts in a timely fashion,” he said. He tossed the mobile down in disgust. “I’ll never become fully integrated into this group; you should have just left me in the past because dinosaurs make far more sense to me, and--”

Cutter shook his head, holding up his hand. “And stop,” he said, cutting Stephen off. “Just stop.”

Stephen stopped, sulking as he looked up at Cutter.

With a breath, Cutter gathered his thoughts. “You’re thinking too hard,” he said, as lightly as he could, trying to smile.

Stephen didn’t return the smile. “I have been back long enough,” he said. “I should be more natural in my interactions by now.”

Cutter laughed, just a bit.

Stephen stiffened, face defensive. “You’re mocking me.”

“No--”

“You think I’m pathetic,” Stephen said.

Cutter’s eyes widened, a bit surprised. Stephen was bad at expressing his emotions, and he seemed to pride himself on being stoic. That made it easy, sometimes, to forget that he had an unusual emotional vulnerability, made worse because he didn’t know how to express it at all. “No--”

Stephen shoved his chair back, getting noisily to his feet. “That’s probably why you keep me around,” he said. “Good old Stephen is always good for a laugh.”

Glaring now, Cutter reached out, snagging Stephen’s arm. He could be hurt -- that was fine and normal and to be expected -- but Cutter wasn’t about to let Stephen push him away so he could wallow in his misery.

The younger man whirled, eyes flashing, but Cutter didn’t back down as he held eye contact. “I said stop,” he said, slowly and clearly now. “Because you are thinking too hard.”

Stephen looked ready to protest, but said nothing, jaw clenched dangerously.

Carefully, Cutter released his arm. “I know you’re used to fighting tooth and claw for everything in your life, and I’m not going to stop you from being dedicated and determined,” he said. “But in some things, you have to remember that you’re not the only person.”

Stephen’s face was hard, eyes unwavering.

“I’m glad you want to start building more friendships,” he said. “And they do take effort. But you can’t always analyze your way into someone’s life.”

“Well, it doesn’t come naturally to me,” Stephen said. “When Connor texts me, I still want to throw the mobile against a wall.”

“Okay, so maybe you need to analyze a little,” Cutter relented. “But really. You think Connor expects you to have exactly the right thing to say? You think that anyone has that expectation?”

Stephen’s eyes flickered and he flinched just a little. “Everyone has expectations,” he said.

“But a relationship is two people,” Cutter reminded him. “It’s not just for one person to expect and the other person to perform. It’s a back and forth.”

“I know,” Stephen said. “And I need to know the right thing to say back--”

Cutter shook his head, cutting Stephen off again. “A back and forth that’s equal,” he said. “You don’t have to change yourself just because you think we want you to be or act a certain way.”

“Then why do you get on me about forks?” Stephen asked.

“Because you’re disgusting when you eat with your fingers--”

“See, that’s what I mean,” Stephen said. “You don’t want me the way I am--”

“Compromise,” Cutter interjected forcefully. “And besides, your personal grooming and sanitation habits aren’t you. How you respond to a text is. Connor isn’t looking for a set response. He’s trying to get to know you -- for better or for worse.”

Stephen swallowed, clearly hesitating. “I just don’t want to seem ridiculous,” he said quietly.

Cutter snorted. “Connor texts us Comic Con updates,” he said. “Trust me, you’re never going to seem ridiculous.”

Cautiously, Stephen glanced back at the mobile, still discarded on the table. “I still don’t know what to text back.”

“How about Sounds good. Maybe tomorrow?

Stephen made a face. “Isn’t that too simple?”

“Isn’t that the solution you came to when he canceled?”

Stephen couldn’t deny it. Thoughtful, he finally reached over and picked the mobile up. Giving Cutter one more look, he typed in his message carefully. After sending it, he looked up, almost proud.

“There!” Cutter said. “Problem solved. What did you text him anyway?”

Stephen lifted his head, grinning. “Just that tomorrow’s better because Cutter’s buying.”

Cutter frowned.

Stephen’s mobile binged. He pressed a button. “Connor says, great! c u both then!

“Stephen--” Cutter began, quite seriously.

Stephen just grinned. “Thanks for the advice,” he said, scooting out of the room, not looking back. “Worked great!”

Cutter stared after him for a moment. He thought about chasing Stephen, but doubted he could catch the younger man. Besides, some things shouldn’t be pushed too hard.

And, thinking of the brightness in Stephen’s eyes, the smile on his face, Cutter knew that other things really were worth fighting for, tooth and claw and text messages and lunches -- and everything in between.

Comments

Page 1 of 2[1][2]
Posted by: Lena7142 (lena7142)
Posted at: November 23rd, 2012 03:00 am (UTC)
feral stephen

This fic packs so much nuance and insight into Stephen's thought processes and his interactions. And the end still makes me laugh out loud. Brilliant. :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 28th, 2012 01:00 pm (UTC)
stephen broken

Feral Stephen never ceases to intrigue and entertain me. I really do need to write more ficlets about him. LOL, with all that time I have...

Thanks :)

Posted by: goldarrow (goldarrow)
Posted at: November 23rd, 2012 03:22 am (UTC)

Loved it!
Stephen may not be sure how to interact, but he certainly knows how to get what he wants LOL.
Beautiful twist at the end. *g*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 28th, 2012 01:01 pm (UTC)
stephen skeptical

LOL, Stephen has a knack for surviving :) Though he does try hard. He just isn't always sure what the right response is.

Thanks!

Posted by: freddiejoey (freddiejoey)
Posted at: November 23rd, 2012 03:46 am (UTC)
Stephen and coffee

"Cutter stared after him for a moment. He thought about chasing Stephen, but doubted he could catch the younger man. Besides, some things shouldn’t be pushed too hard.

And, thinking of the brightness in Stephen’s eyes, the smile on his face, Cutter knew that other things really were worth fighting for, tooth and claw and text messages and lunches -- and everything in between."

Beautiful fic. I love feral Stephen.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 28th, 2012 01:01 pm (UTC)
stephen wary

I'm quite fond of Feral Stephen myself :)

Thanks!

Posted by: raptor_moon (raptor_moon)
Posted at: November 23rd, 2012 03:49 am (UTC)

I think Cutter buying lunch is a small price to pay for a happy Stephen. Nicely done.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 28th, 2012 01:02 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

I'm pretty sure Cutter doesn't mind, even if he will protest for appearance :)

Thanks!

Posted by: natchris (natchris)
Posted at: November 23rd, 2012 03:56 am (UTC)
Stephen blue

Fabulous interaction and dialogue between Cutter and Stephen. Each chapter of this verse just gets better.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 28th, 2012 01:02 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

Thank you! I'm really glad it's still holding your attention :)

Posted by: flaccidduck (flaccidduck)
Posted at: November 23rd, 2012 04:06 am (UTC)
The S2 team

Wow! Brilliant writing as always.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 28th, 2012 01:02 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter

Aw, thank you :)

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: November 23rd, 2012 08:07 am (UTC)
Hair!


Nick is so adorable in his attempts to help Feral STephen, and Feral Stephen is adorable in his attempts to fit in socially ;) Love their conversation and solution!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 28th, 2012 01:03 pm (UTC)
stephen shocked

Pretty much, they are adorable together!

Thanks :)

Posted by: joshinator (joshinator)
Posted at: November 23rd, 2012 08:43 am (UTC)
Sexy Stephen

it's fantastic as always and it made me laugh :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 28th, 2012 01:05 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter

That's good to know! Thanks!

Posted by: lukadreaming (lukadreaming)
Posted at: November 23rd, 2012 08:51 am (UTC)
Stephen bruise

Lovely. Just lovely. I really adore the way you balance pathos and humour.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 28th, 2012 01:06 pm (UTC)
stephen shocked

I'm glad the balance works :) Sometimes I think I'm just spewing nonsense and it's hard to tell otherwise!

Thanks :)

Posted by: judithjohn (judithjohn)
Posted at: November 23rd, 2012 10:41 am (UTC)
Stephen -sally

I cheer whenever a new story in this verse appears. They're uniformly wonderful.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 28th, 2012 01:06 pm (UTC)
stephen skeptical

Aw, I'm so glad! I have a handful more but then I'll have to start writing again :)

Thanks!

Posted by: nietie (nietie)
Posted at: November 23rd, 2012 01:51 pm (UTC)
Stephensmile

O, Stephen, you're priceless *g*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 28th, 2012 01:06 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

He really is :)

Thanks!

Posted by: fredbassett (fredbassett)
Posted at: November 23rd, 2012 02:18 pm (UTC)

Nice to see everyday things through Stephen's eyes.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 28th, 2012 01:07 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

He has a unique perspective.

Thanks!

Posted by: Evil Insane Monkey (eviinsanemonkey)
Posted at: November 23rd, 2012 02:56 pm (UTC)
PE: Danny Quinn

Aww, I love this one :)

Especially the ending. Heee XD

and this: “Connor texts us Comic Con updates,” he said. “Trust me, you’re never going to seem ridiculous.”

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 28th, 2012 01:07 pm (UTC)
stephen up

I imagine Connor would have some interesting texts. Though considering how little I text (i.e. not at all!), I wouldn't really know!

Thanks :)

Posted by: aunteeneenah (aunteeneenah)
Posted at: November 23rd, 2012 03:41 pm (UTC)

I love feral!Stephen! Hey, I know how he feels. I have that problem (of know what to text back) and I've never spent a moment through an anomaly! lol Well done and I loved his solution and of course, Nick's patience with his friend.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 28th, 2012 01:08 pm (UTC)
stephen skeptical

LOL, when it comes to actual texting, I'm even more clueless than Stephen. It's not a part of my wireless plan! But I do know I flail over writing simple emails sometimes :)

Thanks!

Posted by: knitekat (knitekat)
Posted at: November 23rd, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC)

Lovely interaction and brilliant last bit.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 28th, 2012 01:08 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter

Thank you :)

36 Read Comments
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