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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Primeval fic: The Life You Save (May Be Your Own) 6/6

April 24th, 2013 (09:43 pm)

feeling: giddy



It wasn’t easy, but Leek had always been a stickler for the details. Of course, in the past, the details had never been so entirely relevant to his continued freedom, but paperwork was paperwork. It had always been the one thing he excelled at.

The lawyers were quite happy, and the science team was increasingly impressed with the feats in the alternate site. Lester was surprised about the amount of information Leek was able to provide, and apparently Connor Temple was already working on his own version of Helen’s anomaly device. All things considered, Leek’s help was able to advance the ARC by years, and his information on Helen Cutter answered a lot of questions.

In all, Leek found himself to be a hot commodity. When the lawyers weren’t sorting out the legal matters, the scientists were racking his brain and the tech team was talking through the systems. Connor was a frequent guest, gushing over the accomplishments, and Abby had plenty of questions about the creatures. They came for work at first, but then they brought meals and stayed to watch silly shows on the telly.

Jenny stopped by as well, mostly under the pretense of official business, but she lingered around for chitchat and to make sure he was okay. She was the only one who seemed to know exactly what was going on with Stephen, but she was sparing in her updates, and Leek didn’t feel it was his place to push, given how tenuous his position with the team was.

It was ironic, to be sure. By the time Leek was ready to be discharged, he had never felt more appreciated.

The whirlwind of activity left him exhausted and invigorated at the same time. When he was finally given his discharge papers, he was almost sad to think about leaving.

Then, Nick Cutter showed up, knocking on his door.

Leek had been packing his belongings -- somehow he ended up with more than he’d bargained for after so many visitors -- when the knock had come. He’d looked up, half expecting to see Connor or Abby or one of the other staff, so when he saw Nick Cutter scowling in the doorway, he’d been more than a little surprised.

“Oh,” he said, stopping awkwardly in his packing. “Well, come in.”

He gestured stupidly to one of the chairs.

Cutter eyed him warily, stepping through the threshold slightly but lingering by the door. His face was set and the cut on his face was healing now, scabbed over and ugly. He lingered, but said nothing.

Leek cleared his throat, offering a smile. “I’m glad to see you’re no worse for wear,” he said.

Cutter didn’t smile. “You’re being released today.”

Leek nodded. “Still have some therapy to do, but it’s coming along well.”

Shaking his head, Cutter laughed humorlessly. “So you’ll just go free, like nothing ever happened.”

“I wouldn’t say that,” Leek said. “After all the documents I’ve signed with Legal, I’ve mostly sold my soul to the government, and I’m going to be a star witness at the trial intended to keep Helen locked away where she belongs for a very, very long time.”

“That’s not punishment,” Cutter spat at him. “That’s nothing.

Leek’s throat constricted, and he flinched.

Cutter gritted his teeth. “People died because of what you did,” he said, almost seething now. “Good people. Innocent people. They will never get to go home again because of the choices you made.”

The words were harsh, and they physically hurt to hear. Tears stung at his eyes, and the condemnation of his nightmares was ever present -- and not undeserved. He took a tenuous breath but didn’t let himself look away from Cutter’s unforgiving gaze. “That was never my intent.”

“That was still the consequence,” Cutter said.

Holding his head high and steady, Leek said, “I’m sorry.”

Cutter’s face contorted. “You think it’s that easy? You get to say I’m sorry and offer some information and then it’s like it never happened? Like you didn’t set up a Future Predator in the ARC? Like you didn’t put predators all around London? Like you didn’t trust Helen and turn on all of us?”

Leek didn’t dare blink, not with his eyes burning as much as they were. “I’ve done many things I regret,” he said. “But I can promise you, Professor. None of this has been easy.”

“Says the man who will pay nothing for his crimes,” Cutter almost yelled now, blue eyes blazing as he stared at Leek with a frightening intensity.

There was no argument against that. There was nothing. Nothing Cutter was saying was wrong; nothing he was saying was unreasonable. Leek had never expected the grace he’d been given, and he could not justify it.

He could not justify himself.

All he could offer was his regret, his apologies -- and his hope.

“Professor,” he said, slow and even. “I haven’t earned this second chance. But I will spend the rest of my life trying to make sure that I am worthy of it. I will do anything and everything I can to earn a place at the ARC. I’m not asking you to trust me -- I’d never be so presumptuous -- but I can assure you, I want to do the right thing. More than anything in my life, I want to do the right thing for the team.”

There was a silence, and the look on Cutter’s face was hard to read. There was anger -- and frustration -- and then something else. Cutter closed his mouth, breathing heavily through his nose for a long moment before his shoulders visibly slumped. “I would have thrown you in a cell with her,” he muttered finally. His voice softened, his disposition relaxing if only by a few degrees. “But it’s not my call.”

Leek tilted his head, not sure what to say. “I’m not sure I understand.”

Cutter drew a deep breath and let it out. “Stephen’s awake,” he blurted finally, with a half desperate shrug. “And seeing him, I realized how long I’d blamed him for everything that was going wrong. He was such an easy and convenient scapegoat, but when I saw him bleeding and half dead...I had never been more scared in my life. So then I started to blame you, since I couldn’t blame him anymore. But now I’m standing here, and I don’t know. It’s not that easy at all, is it? Helen’s played us all, and we all nearly lost everything. If anyone is to blame, it’s her. And each of us for trusting her in our own ways.”

Leek felt himself tremble slightly, and he tried to swallow. He opened his mouth, but the words failed him. “Is Stephen okay?”

Cutter regarded him for a moment. “Everything I said, and that’s your first concern?”

Leek shrugged feebly. “He gave up a lot to help me -- and the rest of you. He doesn’t deserve what’s happened to him.”

“No,” Cutter agreed. He nodded, holding Leek’s gaze. “Maybe you and I have more in common than I thought.”

Confused, Leek frowned.

Cutter sighed again. “Come on, then,” he said, jerking his head toward the door.

“Where are we...?”

“Stephen,” Cutter told him, matter of fact. “He’s asking to see you.”

Leek’s mouth fell open. “So, he’s--”

“Okay,” Cutter said, a small smile tugging on his lips. “Looks like we may all be okay.”

To Leek, that was something. Someplace to start.


Leek’s leg ached and he could barely limp along. By the time they got up to the ICU, he was winded and sweating, and he felt half like keeling over but he didn’t dare ask Cutter to slow down for fear of eliciting the other man’s wrath after the tentative olive branch.

Plus, he needed to see Stephen. The surreal string of absolution was hard to grasp, and he knew it all began with Stephen. If Stephen hadn’t believed him, then none of this would have been possible. Leek probably wouldn’t have been alive to see any of it, at any rate. He owed Stephen his life. Of all the blood on his hands, Stephen’s had somehow been the hardest to bear.

Probably because Stephen had trusted him. Probably because Stephen was the one he’d seen sprawled and bloody on the floor. The rest had been so abstract -- Stephen had been real.


What was real now, though, was Stephen, sitting propped up in the bed, looking pale, haggard and tired, but awake. From all accounts, this Stephen had avoided the massive damage incurred by his future doppelganger. He was battered, but all his limbs were in place and the scarring to his face was minimal.

He was okay.

Cutter left him alone in the entrance, and Leek stalled, suddenly feeling stupid and out of place. He was half-gaping, staring in shock and awe until Stephen looked up, smiling faintly. “Fancy meeting you here.”

Leek startled, limping inside. “You’re awake.”

“So it seems,” Stephen replied, his voice like gravel as he shifted on the bed with a wince. He gave Leek a careful if weary once over. “You look well.”

Leek laughed slightly, shuffling closer to the bed. “Better than I have the right to be, in truth,” he said sheepishly.

Stephen nodded, his eyes drifting closed for a long second while he breathed evenly. When he opened his eyes again, he fixed Leek with a stare. “They told me you were okay,” he said. “But I needed to see it. There have been a lot of lies lately.”

Leek snorted. “I’ve told more than my share.”

“Cutter told me they cut you a deal,” Stephen said.

Leek wet his lips, looking down for a moment. “It’s more kindness than I deserve,” he admitted. “Sometimes I still don’t know how it happened.”

“I know the feeling,” Stephen mused. “Imagine my surprise when I woke up with Cutter holding vigil. I thought he’d be ready to sock me again.”

“Stephen, you didn’t do anything,” Leek said quickly. “What happened -- that was more me than anyone.”

Stephen shook his head. “It was Helen, all of it,” he said. “Though I reckon that doesn’t excuse our choices.”

Leek chewed his lip, his stomach churning a little. “You weren’t part of any of it,” he said, trying to be emphatic. “Helen knew that if she told you anything of substance, you’d never go along with it. She knew what you’d be willing to do and toed that line. You didn’t do anything. Helen knows what people want and finds ways to get them to do anything for it.”

Stephen paused, thoughtful. “So what did you want?” he asked. “What did Helen offer you?”

Leek tried to remember, all the way back to the beginning. He tried to think about the thrill of her touch, the allure of her affirmation. He thought about the way she made him feel, the way she listened. She’d promised him power and redemption.

It hadn’t been worth as much as he’d thought.

He sighed, shaking his head. “Nothing that I really wanted after all, I think,” he said.

Stephen cocked his head. “So what changed your mind, then? After all you did, everything you put into it, what made you turn away?”

If the other question was hard, this one was easy. He lifted his eyes and locked onto Stephen’s without reservation or doubt. “You did.”

Stephen made a face.

He could tell Stephen about the visitor from the future, about the scarred and jaded man who had warned him about what was coming. He could have told Stephen about all the doubts from then, about the prophecies that came true.

But that wasn’t really it, he realized. The Hart from the future had given him the tools, but that hadn’t been what changed his mind in the end. No, Leek’s moment had come later, when Cutter threw a punch, when Stephen walked away.

It had come when no one else believed Leek, and Stephen stood firm.

“I tried to tell everyone,” Leek said, shrugging helplessly. “They didn’t believe me. You did.”

“That’s not why you changed your mind, though,” Stephen pointed out.

“No,” Leek said. “But you were determined to do the right thing, no matter what. You saw your moment and you grabbed it. I thought, if you could do it, so could I.”

Stephen smiled. “So we did it together.”

Leek nodded, his own smile starting to spread. “There’s a lot of things I’d change about all this,” he said. “But I wouldn’t change that.”

Stephen nodded. “You know,” he said, relaxing back into the bed. “Neither would I.”


It started with Helen Cutter in a pub, buying him a drink and telling him everything he wanted to hear. It started with Helen seducing a student, taking from him what he never had never intended to give away at all. It started with Helen agreeing to marry Nick, promising to love, honor, and obey and then never following through.

There were lots of moments that mattered, some more than others. But the moments still changed everything.

The moment Helen disappeared; the first time Stephen lied. The night Leek gave himself to Helen, the anomaly when Stephen trusted Helen over the team. These moments changed everything.

But they didn’t define them.

Leek knew that now. In the days and weeks that followed, things weren’t easy. There were nonstop demands for his testimony, and he found himself on constant call to answer questions about the creatures and technology at the alternative site. Leek had always put everything he had into his job, but the demands from Lester were more exhausting than ever. Even so, Leek took some pleasure in the fact that people were finally listening to him. What he said finally mattered.

Still, it wasn’t easy. They held a memorial service a week after Leek got out of the hospital, honoring those who had been killed. Leek didn’t dare show up, but he came to the monument after the fact, looking at each name and trying to remember who they were. He went over them in his mind, each person he’d inadvertently killed, before going home and crying himself to sleep.

Life went on, though. The ARC reopened, and Leek was on hand to see the transition. He oversaw many of the security upgrades, and when he reported to Lester, the other man listened with interest, nodding in approval or offering critical suggestions that Leek happily took under consideration. The first anomaly calls were awkward and haphazard, but with new Special Forces staff, things were safer if not easier.

Helen Cutter was in prison, for what it was worth. It was high security, and she oscillated between being helpful and utterly repugnant. Lester was ready to write her off, but Leek insisted they keep their guards up. He knew Helen too well to think that bars would keep her in. He wouldn’t be surprise if she turned up missing one day, no trace, no clues. When he told Lester this, the man sighed and said there were only so many contingencies they could plan on, and they still had work to do.

And lots of work. The mystery of the anomalies was still ever-present, and the risks got greater with every incursion. Despite Helen’s advancement, they still didn’t know why they occurred, and it was increasingly difficult to keep the animals in check and safe.

They did what they could, though. As team leader, Nick was as competent and dutiful as ever. But Leek could still see the subtle changes, the way Cutter listened, the way he took the time to think things through. His paperwork was still poorly done, but Leek noticed that he was making an effort now. Even so, Cutter rarely spoke to Leek, and when they were forced to interact, his gaze was always icy at first even if the man was surprisingly professional.

Though Leek suspected Jenny had something to do with that. He wasn’t sure exactly what was going on between the scientist and the PR genius, but it made Jenny quite happy and it made Cutter almost sociable.

Connor and Abby were more so. With second chances abounding, Connor finally worked up the nerve to tell Abby how he felt, and Abby, probably against her better judgement, agreed to give it a go. They were well paired, and Leek had to admit it was more fun rooting for them to work it out than it was to plot their romantic demise. Caroline had come clean about her role, minimal as it was, and Leek had verified her story and ensured she suffered no ill repercussions. What she did with her second chance, Leek would never know but he certainly hoped she made as much of it as the rest of them did.

Still, the team dynamic was a bit off, and it was felt by everyone in the ARC. Maybe it was the new influx of Special Forces members -- Becker was rather by the book, even for Leek’s tastes -- or maybe it was the subtle pall of failure. People still spoke the names of the dead with reverence, and no one’s heart broke more than Leek’s for that. Yet, when Lester flustered over the difficulties of keeping the team together and safe and alive, Leek reminded him that they weren’t whole yet, not with Stephen still out on sick leave.

With the damage and the infection, Stephen was out for quite some time. It was enough to rebuild and recuperate, enough to start again.

It was enough.


One moment changed everything.

Many of the moments had been bad for the ARC, but this one -- well, Leek had to think this one was the best.

Of all people, it had been Cutter’s idea, but Abby and Connor had taken to it quickly and ran with it. Leek had only been too happy to help, and he’d spent the last week making sure everything was perfect.

When it was done, Stephen walked in the front doors of the ARC and everyone yelled, “Surprise!”

Still thin and a little pale, Stephen’s face froze for a moment. Then his brow furrowed as he stole a furtive look at Cutter, who had driven him in that morning. “You knew about this.”

Cutter grinned, slapping Stephen on the arm. “Planned it, actually,” he said with a smirk.

Connor and Abby came rushing up, half-tackling the man with a hug. “He had some help, though,” Abby assured him.

“Lots of help,” Connor agreed.

Stephen cleared his throat, shuffling awkwardly. “Well. Um. Thank you,” he said, nodding to the crowd that had assembled.

“Oh, don’t thank us,” Jenny said, coming up and squeezing his arm. “We’re always looking for reasons to bring in cake.”

Lester walked into the room, scowling. “I believe I approved a small celebration,” he said. “Not a full on staff distraction.”

“It’s my fault,” Leek said, shrugging. “Things got a bit…out of hand.”

Lester gave him a look, harrumphing. “Don’t let it happen again,” he said. Then he turned to Stephen. “So glad to have you back. This time, avoid almost dying. At least for a few weeks.”

Stephen smiled. “I’ll do my best,” he said. His eyes flitted from Lester to Jenny, to Connor and Abby. To Nick, then to Leek. “Shouldn’t be too hard, with a team like this.”

With a team like this.

Funny. Helen had offered Leek power and redemption, and it had been tempting, but in the end, it wasn’t what Leek had wanted. He hadn’t wanted that at all. No, all he had wanted -- even from the very start -- was this.

A team; friends. A place to belong.

To think, Helen had helped him attain that after all.

One moment changed everything.

Leek had a lifetime to sort out the rest, though.


Posted by: knitekat (knitekat)
Posted at: April 27th, 2013 12:01 am (UTC)

*purrs* And everything is (or will be) alright. Brilliant fixit fic, redeeming both Stephen and Leek.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 5th, 2013 03:10 am (UTC)
stephen goodbye

Thank you for reading!

Posted by: joshinator (joshinator)
Posted at: April 27th, 2013 01:49 am (UTC)
Stephen Oh Yeah

Your fic is absolutely amazing.

<3 <3 <3

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 5th, 2013 03:11 am (UTC)
stephen sad

Aw, thank you so much :)

Posted by: reggietate (reggietate)
Posted at: April 27th, 2013 10:02 am (UTC)

That was lovely - and I think I have something in my eye! *sniffs delicately* The whole story has been an absolute joy to read, well done!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 5th, 2013 03:11 am (UTC)
stephen blue wonder

Aw, I'm so glad you liked it. Thank you :)

Posted by: natchris (natchris)
Posted at: April 27th, 2013 02:42 pm (UTC)
Lost my lunch

Bravo and brava!

Stunning fic.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 5th, 2013 03:12 am (UTC)
stephen up

Thank you so much!

Posted by: nietie (nietie)
Posted at: April 28th, 2013 07:58 am (UTC)

Oh, Faye, what a gorgeous story. Such an in-depth look at Leek. His struggles. The way he watches the team crumbling. The way he and Stephen try to fix things.
With Future!Stephen FTW.

I so love it when a character is not black or white, and Leek definitely deserves to be shown like that.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 5th, 2013 03:16 am (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

I never intended to write that much about Leek, but he sort of demanded it. And Future!Stephen deserves his own fic someday :)


Posted by: fredbassett (fredbassett)
Posted at: April 28th, 2013 01:02 pm (UTC)
Leek 3

That was an absolutely fabulous story!!

I loved it all, the way you worked through everything utterly believable, seeing the team through Leek's eyes was very raw, but very powerful.

I'm glad they all got their fix it.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 5th, 2013 03:17 am (UTC)
stephen's eyes

I'm glad it all seemed to come together! I always feel out of my league with this kind of fic, and I always ends up freaking out before I post. So that's quite a relief :)


Posted by: Sat (wallflower18)
Posted at: April 28th, 2013 06:52 pm (UTC)
Primeval: S: Heartbreak world

Epic, epic, epic! I still can't stop flailing at the fact that this fic exists, and words keep failing me. Like I said I've always hated what they did with Leek, and thought if there was something could have been done to stop everything from falling apart, he'd be a part of it. I agree with others, I don't know why there isn't more Claudia-less universe fic around, and your take on it was totally innovative. I'm so glad you gave us the chance to get inside his head and see the things through his eyes even though it was heartbreaking and painful, and his need/determination of doing the right thing just felt right too. After all, that's what everyone was wanting/trying to do in the series... except, ugh :'( There's so many lines and things that made me cry but I think this is what really got me:

If they'd just talked; if they'd just worked it out; if they'd just tried ...

Because that is my biggest regret for them, where my mind goes in the dark hour - you all let that happen, you never really tried to stop it! (I know it's irrational and unfair, but still can't help it.) It's as if Leek was saying all those things I've always wanted to scream at say to everyone at the ARC in the fic. There was a point where I wanted to strangle some of them for not seeing it or listening (especially Cutter and Lester lol), the times I cried with/for both Leek and Stephen, a moment I was so afraid if they wouldn't make it, but in the end they came through, did the right thing and got the chance to start all over again and... guh. I think I'm getting all emotional again. To me, this entire fic is like a therapy - catharsis in the fic form.

Such an amazing, riveting story! Thank you so much for writing and sharing it with us.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 5th, 2013 03:21 am (UTC)
stephen skeptical

Aw, you are so kind! Your art really motivated me on this one, and it took on a life of its own without my consent. I never actually intended to write in the Claudia-less S1, but it just sort of evolved naturally as the fic developed.

And I agree, there is something so tragic about the way S2 plays out. It's all so avoidable and it's not that any of them were overtly wrong but they were all just so isolated and self-focused.

So I'm really glad this fix-it resonated for you. Thank you for the art that inspired it -- and for the additional work you did for it!

Posted by: goldarrow (goldarrow)
Posted at: April 28th, 2013 10:11 pm (UTC)

That was a truly amazing story. I loved it the first time, and I love it still.

Fixit and redemption, for both Stephen and Leek. A place to belong; isn't that what we all want?

Oh, and the chapter heading pictures are absolutely fantastic. Perfect for each section.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 5th, 2013 03:23 am (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

Thank you again for everything. I know I've said it before but you were a huge life saver for me. I freaked out after writing this fic and you helped me focus enough to fix it and post it.


Posted by: goldarrow (goldarrow)
Posted at: May 5th, 2013 03:53 am (UTC)

Posted by: goldarrow (goldarrow)
Posted at: May 5th, 2013 03:57 am (UTC)

Posted by: judithjohn (judithjohn)
Posted at: April 29th, 2013 06:09 am (UTC)
Cute Racoon

Seriously just wonderful. I loved every word and the whole thing wows me. <3

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 5th, 2013 03:24 am (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

Thank you so much :)

Posted by: 47eleven (47eleven)
Posted at: April 30th, 2013 03:16 am (UTC)

It's beyond brilliant :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 5th, 2013 03:24 am (UTC)
stephen goodbye

Thanks so much :)

Posted by: fififolle (fififolle)
Posted at: May 1st, 2013 06:24 am (UTC)
Primeval - happy hugs

AW! Yay!! I'm glad you worked in a happy ending :D

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 5th, 2013 03:26 am (UTC)
stephen shocked

I am a sucker for happy endings :)


Posted by: lsellersfic (lsellersfic)
Posted at: May 3rd, 2013 04:37 am (UTC)

This was a great fic. I love the way you didn't gloss over everything Leek had done and how difficult it was still going to be at the end. It's also so unusual to get a sympathetic Leek POV.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 5th, 2013 03:27 am (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

I was so worried about this fic so it's such a relief to know it turned out okay. And I didn't mean to write so much Leek! But once I got started, I had to finish until he was redeemed :)


Posted by: aelfgyfu_mead (aelfgyfu_mead)
Posted at: May 4th, 2013 09:24 pm (UTC)

You've written the most sympathetic view I've read of Leek. I had a hard time with it at first, but I persevered and found that I could sympathize with him, somewhat. Lester is too sarcastic. Cutter . . . Cutter is just a mess. Abby and Connor are a bit too young and a bit too impressed with Cutter to make their own decisions, and Stephen competes with Cutter for worst mess.

I can see why Leek would find no friends here and desire appreciation from somewhere, and Helen does a horrifyingly good job of figuring out how to motivate people to do what she wants and think it's for the best.

This story was well-plotted, and I'm very pleased with the ending.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 5th, 2013 03:28 am (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

I can't say I've read any Leek fic before, so this really did come out of nowhere for me. So I'm glad it turned out okay and seemed to make so much sense for readers :) I worried a lot about it, so it's such a relief to know it worked!

Thank you!

Posted by: Cordelia Delayne (cordeliadelayne)
Posted at: May 7th, 2013 11:40 pm (UTC)
[primeval] team cutter

Oh, this has been great. A really fab journey through Leek's eyes and I'm so glad everyone got a happy, hopeful ending.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2013 02:38 am (UTC)
stephen hair

I like angst, but I also like my endings happy.


Posted by: basched (basched)
Posted at: May 16th, 2013 09:55 am (UTC)

A fitting, lovely and happy ending to this epic story. You've done so well with this, you really should pat yourself on the back!


Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: May 23rd, 2013 02:39 am (UTC)
stephen angsty

Thank you! I'm glad you stuck with it and found it worthwhile :)

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