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Primeval/Pacific Rim fusion: Ten Steps to the End of the World (2/2)

June 3rd, 2014 (09:41 pm)

feeling: hopeful

Notes and etc. in Part One.

6. Desperate Times.

Their work was top secret and very hush hush. They all signed the Official Secrets Act and had to maintain cover identities while they conducted their work and research.

Until Gipsy Danger fell outside the Miracle Mile in Anchorage. Until Rangers went out and didn’t come back. Until Shatterdomes were stretched thin and resources were scarce. Until Nick realized that Stephen was right: a con pod wasn’t a victory carriage.

It was a tomb.

Until Lester called them all into his office and had Claudia shut the door behind them and said, “I’m afraid we have a problem.”

Cutter almost scoffed. Lester was knighted and he was the head of this mess with a direct line of Home Office itself, but Cutter had never found that much reason to revere him. There was a reason he used Stephen as his professional liaison. Nick had issues with authority in that he didn’t recognize it until it was earned.

It was some saving grace, then, that Connor was even more impertinent than he was.

“I think we have more than a problem,” Connor said grimly. “The latest reports aren’t good.”

“I’ve said it all along,” Abby insisted. “The data in K-science is directed at charting the evolution of the kaiju. We need to be extrapolating that data for future scenarios.”

“There have been some elite teams shifting toward that mindset,” Claudia said quietly, coming around toward Lester’s desk. “Gottlieb and Geizler have been especially useful.”

“Not useful enough,” Connor said. “Did you see what Knifehead did to Gipsy Danger? Cut through her like a tin can.”

“That’s because we’ve been sacrificing quality for production schedules,” Nick said, shaking his head. “We’ve mastered the drift but we still need to work on making Jaegers that can move and withstand more pressure. If we take the fight to them, move confrontations further out into the sea--”

“We don’t have the tracking equipment--” Connor started.

“Even if we did, the Jaegers need better deep water capabilities,” Stephen interjected for Cutter. “That’s what we’ve been saying from the start.”

“That’s all well and good,” Lester said. “But you’re still all missing the actual problem.”

Nick fell silent at that. Stephen furrowed his brow and Connor rocked on his feet.

“Which is?” Abby finally ventured.

Lester looked at Claudia.

She sighed. “The PPDC has lost an unprecedented number of Jaegers in the last year,” she said. “Attacks are increasing in frequency and the kaiju are gaining in strength and size. All resources are being redirected to step up the fight or projections suggest that the damage will start to become catastrophic.”

“In other words, we’ll lose,” Nick concluded grimly.

“You missed the or,” Claudia said softly. “We do have other resources. Better resources.”

Nick frowned.

Lester sighed. “Must we spell it out?” he asked in frustration. “They’re calling up all hands on deck. Ranger training is opening up again; governments are being tapped for extra funds. Production of Jaegers is being sped up across the globe.”

“Well, that makes sense,” Nick said. “I’ve always wanted to be more aggressive--”

All resources,” Lester said. “Meaning that our top secret project? Well, it’s not so top secret anymore.”

That wasn’t actually a surprise. The project could never stay top secret. With production underway, it was only a matter of time before it became officially confirmed. There was no way, after all, to hide a Jaeger.


Nick’s eyes widened. “Wait, this doesn’t mean that our operational parameters are changing--”

Lester sighed. “There’s simply no way you can expect them to remain the same,” he said. “The PPDC cannot support multiple missions at once. All resources must be directed toward the end objective.”

“Secondary projects will be on hold,” Claudia confirmed gently, eyes diverting from Cutter. She’d been holding this secret -- from him, more than anyone. The past few months, she’d been more distant and quiet. “Indefinitely.”

Nick swallowed hard, not sure what to say. It was petty perhaps, but it felt like betrayal. He’d signed on to study the Trench of Dean. He’d agreed to help build a Jaeger for exploratory purposes.

Next to him, Stephen snorted. “So the Trench of Dean?”

“Will remain under our purview,” Lester said. “We do have your current equipment in place to continue monitoring it, and we will support the staff as we are able to financially.”

“It should actually get easier,” Claudia said. “Once we sell the Jaeger.”

Nick’s mouth fell open. “You’re going to sell the Jaeger?”

“But we haven’t even built it yet!” Stephen exclaimed.

“And we haven’t even named it,” Connor protested.

“After the attack last month, Panama is looking to add another Jaeger to their arsenal,” Claudia said. “The compensation will be more than generous--”

Nick stiffened. “This isn’t what we signed up for.”

Lester signed. “This isn’t what any of us signed up for,” he said. “I wanted a nice, simple government job. Instead, I got this lot. But no one was counting on giant monsters coming up from the bottom of the ocean, so all we can do is make do with what we have.”

“But we’re not making do,” Nick objected. “You’re selling it all off.”

“Oh, Professor,” Lester said with an air of exasperation. “To think, we haven’t even told you the part I thought would be most problematic.”

“There’s more?” Nick asked in absolute incredulity.

Lester rolled his eyes. “Ms. Brown, could you please put Cutter and his minions out of their misery?”

Claudia swallowed hard. “The staff will have to be divided,” she said. “They want Connor and you to go with the Jaeger to Panama. Stephen and Abby would stay here and lead the efforts at the Trench of Dean.”

Abby made a squawk. Connor’s jaw dropped open. Stephen went ramrod straight next to him. Cutter grinded his teeth together.

“Oh, and the cherry on top,” Lester said.

Claudia pressed her lips together. “And they want the sale in six months.”

There was a long silence as everyone processed that.

“Wait,” Nick said, certain he was misunderstanding the implications. “They want us to have the Jaeger finished in six months? You’re joking, right?”

“Have you known me to be regular comedian?” Lester asked.

“But it can’t be done,” Stephen said.

“And we won’t divide the team,” Nick said.

Connor was beside himself. “And I don’t even speak Spanish!”

“You can’t let this happen,” Abby protested.

“You are mistaking my acceptance with approval,” Lester mused dryly. “I’m afraid the matter was very much out of my hands.”

“But you’re the head of this would-be Shatterdome,” Nick said.

“As touching as your loyalty is,” Lester said wryly, “you and I both know it is farcically misplaced at best. Whether we’re talking about home office or the PPDC, this was never our choice. We had autonomy as long as it was convenient. Unfortunately for us -- and the rest of the world -- that is no longer an option. I expect to see revised timelines on my desk first thing tomorrow morning. If that is a problem, then I kindly invite you to remember how easily you can find yourselves back where you were before. The University is still there, as are those sad little tourist islands. If you won’t serve your country, then I’m sure we can find someone else who will.”

It was a hard line, and some of it was for show. Nick knew Lester was something of an egotistical jerk, but he wasn’t as heartless as he let on. He was a practical man, though. He knew when he had no choice.

And he did the best he could with it.

In his place, Cutter couldn’t say he’d do much differently. What else could they do? What other options were there? At the end of the world, they were trying to hold too many things together. Something had to give.

Nick just worried that surrendering the little things was a slow but inevitable defeat in the making. It was getting away from them, all of it. First Gipsy Danger, soon the rest of the world. It was a contest of biggest, strongest, smartest, and someone had to lose.

No one had dared say that it might be mankind.

“There is one other thing,” Claudia interrupted.

Nick looked up and met her eyes. What they had between them still wasn’t defined. Shared laughter and a few stolen kisses; they were on the precipice of something. In another life, they might have had the time to know what.

“With the increased timetable, we haven’t had time to properly prepare any pilots,” Claudia explained.

“Well, isn’t that Panama’s problem now?” Nick asked bitterly.

“If we want it to be, yes,” Claudia said. “But if we want our Jaeger to perform the way we intended, then we simply need to provide two Rangers as part of the package deal.”

“But you said it yourself,” Connor said. “We’ve barely started recruitment.”

“And full compatibility tests will take months,” Stephen said.

“We’d have to have a team already identified,” Abby said.

Claudia held Nick’s gaze.

Suddenly, Nick understood.

“They do,” he said, the realization settling cold and hard in his stomach. His head felt light.

“What?” Connor asked.

“But how--?” Abby asked.

Stephen looked at him, shaking his head. “No,” he said, the same conclusion coming to him.

Nick looked back at him. “We’re a match,” he said. “You’ve seen the data.”

“More than that,” Claudia explained. “We’ve been running more analyses--”

Stephen’s face suffused with red. “You have no right,” he said, eyes flashing angrily toward Lester. “I told you, we’re not Ranger candidates. We’re scientists.”

“There’s no reason you can’t be both,” Claudia argued. “This way you’d get to retain control of your Jaeger.”

“At the sacrifice of our work here!” Stephen objected.

“But we’d be together,” Nick argued.

Stephen glared at him. “That’s wonderful, isn’t it?” he said. “We’d be together until we died.”

The blood drained out of Nick’s face.

“That’s the problem with this war,” Stephen said venomously. “We act like the only heroes are the ones who sit in the cockpit.”

“What would you recommend?” Lester asked facetiously. “That we wow the kaiju with a philosophical conversation? That we only let inexperienced and worthless candidates get in cockpits?”

Stephen shook his head. “We have to play to our strengths,” he said. “Cutter is too valuable--”

“Oh please,” Nick said, his anger rising. “I’m too valuable? Or you’re just too scared?”

Stephen stopped short, eyes going wide.

“That’s what this is, isn’t it?” he asked. “You always back out, coming out just shy of your potential. You never finished your thesis. You never finished your sharpshooting competitions. Just because you’re too scared to succeed doesn’t mean the rest of us are.”

It was harsh -- harsher than Nick intended -- but it wasn’t entirely wrong. Stephen was a good right hand man -- the best -- but only because he never saw himself beyond his limitations. Stephen was someone who settled. He was content with where he was. He lacked drive and ambition. If not for Nick, he reckoned Stephen wouldn’t even be able to stand up and call himself a scientist.

He was a best mate.

He was also a codependent mess.

It had never bothered Cutter before. If anything, Nick liked someone who took his lead. But he couldn’t stand there and pretend like it was okay now.

Stephen closed his mouth, letting out an angry breath. “I’m not scared,” he said. “I’m just thinking about this clearly.”

“Then you’d see that we’re the best choice!” Nick exclaimed.

“You’re just too proud to give up control!” Stephen exploded. “And you’re just angry that I don’t agree with you for once!”

Nick’s fists furled as he started to seethe. Lester watched with raised eyebrows, and Claudia looked ready to intervene. Abby and Connor had shrunk away. They were all too shocked to know quite what to do.

Not that Nick could blame them. In five years, they’d never spoken like this. In five years, they’d never stopped to consider.

What were they, after all? Coworkers or best mates? Would they be either after this?

Stephen shook his head, stepping away. “The answer is no,” he said. “I’ll stay here; I’ll go to Panama; I’ll do whatever you want. But I’m not getting in a cockpit with Cutter. Not even close.”

Without another word, Stephen turned and stalked out of the office, the door slamming behind him.

“Well,” Lester said. “That could have gone better.”

Grimacing, Nick turned on his heel and stormed out after Stephen, turning abruptly in the other direction and not looking back.

7. Living History.

Nick didn’t know what to say.

Stephen clearly didn’t either.

So, neither of them said anything.

They arrived at work the next day and revised their timetables. They pushed forward on the production end, scaling back their research for the time being. Production started in earnest, and with so much to do, they almost didn’t have time to remember that they’d fought at all.

Not that they could really forget, though. The shift was palpable, and Nick was cognizant of it every moment of every day. He knew everything Stephen was going to do before he did it, but he no longer knew what he was thinking.

Though, maybe he never had.

All those years, he’d taken it for granted. Maybe he’d been wrong about their relationship all along. Stephen was more sullen now, and more prone to voicing his disagreement. They squabbled over the details, and they didn’t know what to talk about if it didn’t involve giant robots or monsters.

Their friendship, it seemed, was just another victim of the kaiju. Even so, they could work together; they were the best damn scientific team anyone could ask for. But the inherent camaraderie was gone. The fondness was strained.

It was all work now.

And with the looming deadline, it wasn’t even certain how much longer that would last. Even without pilots, Nick was scheduled to move to Panama with Connor and some of the other staff. Claudia had been immensely helpful. Whereas at one point he would have asked Stephen, she was there to help organize his flat and get it on the market.

He was even considering asking her to come with him, things were going so well. She would easily find a job at the Shatterdome. It might make sense.

There was still time to decide that, though. The world was ending, but it wasn’t quite over yet, and they still had several more months before the Jaeger was ready to ship across the Atlantic. Nick tried not to think about what came after. He tried not to think about leaving London or taking the next step with Claudia. He tried not to think about giving his Jaeger over to someone else, letting some pair of strangers take control of it, while he sat back and watched.

In fact, he was so set on not thinking about these things that he didn’t realize someone was in his flat before he walked inside.

He stopped short, surprised. He was about to apologize -- Claudia did mention that it was listed now, so that some visits might commence -- but then he stopped again, tilting his head.

Then the figure turned -- and smiled at him.

“Hello, Nick.”

Nick swallowed, shaking his head. “You can’t be here.”

“Why not?” she asked. “It’s my flat, too.”

“No,” Nick said. “You’re dead, Helen. You’re dead.

She tsked her tongue. “Does that mean you’ve mourned?”

Nick had envisioned a reunion with Helen a thousand different ways. He’d imagined a tearful reunion; he’d imagined apologies and heartfelt explanations. He’d imagined regret and passion. He’d never thought her to be truly dead (not truly, not Helen), but he’d never let himself consider her like this.

Trite, sarcastic, bitter.

Absence made the heart grow fonder, and maybe he’d forgotten just what she was capable of.

And he’d been angry before. He’d been sad and he’d grieved and he’d raged.

Now, though.

Now, he hated her. “You’ve got some nerve,” he seethed. “You left me.”

“Oh, like you didn’t leave me?” she shot back. “How long did it even take for you to notice I was missing?”

“I was working--”

“And so was I!” Helen said. “You always put your work first--”

Nick’s face turned furiously red. “We had agreed that was how we wanted it--”

“But you weren’t even there!” Helen exclaimed. “I had needs!”

“Well you could have talked about it!” Nick yelled back.

“When? When would you have listened?”

“So running away was to get my attention?” Nick asked incredulously. “You thought you could leave and I’d realize how much I missed you?”

“It wasn’t about you,” she spat.

“Oh, I know that,” Cutter said. “I doubt it was ever about me.”

She breathed heavily, but obviously bit back her frustration. Whatever she’d hoped for, this clearly wasn’t it. Even so, she pressed her lips together, eyeing him carefully. “I didn’t come here to fight.”

“And did you come to apologize?” Nick asked. He wouldn’t say that was what he wanted; that was what he needed. “It’s been years, Helen. Years.

Her face was serious; her eyes were dark. “I came here to help you.”

Nick couldn’t help it; he balked. “You think there’s any thing you can do for me after all these years?”

“Yes,” she said, as a matter of fact. “I’m here to offer myself as a drift partner.”

Nick’s mouth fell opened. He hadn’t thought he could get more surprised. But this--

He shook his head. “What do you even know about it?”

“It’s not exactly a secret anymore,” she said. “The UK’s great bid at Jaeger design. And I know you; you wouldn’t want to give up control of that, not even a little.”

“Have you been stalking me?” he asked.

She rolled her eyes. “Oh please,” she said. “You’re using my research as a foundation for all of this. Don’t even pretend like you’re not.”

“But where have you been--”

“Continuing my research in places and ways you can’t even imagine,” she said.

“You know, if you’re looking for trust, more lies aren’t really going to get you there.”

Helen sighed. “Do the details matter?”


“Well, then drift with me and you’ll know everything!”

His mouth opened. Then closed. When he found his composure, he crossed his arms stubbornly over his chest. “So what makes you think I don’t already have a drift partner?”

“If you did, it’d be in the news,” she said.

“You think you’re so certain,” he muttered.

“I am,” she said, a smile tugging at her lips. “I am your wife, after all.”

“You’re dead,” he said pointedly. “It was made official a few years back.”

Her smile widened. “Then why am I still all over this flat,” she said. She turned toward the bookshelves, which were still lined with her things. “You haven’t changed anything.”

“I haven’t had the time,” he said defensively. “And you’re still avoiding the issue. Where were you?”

“Explaining it would be hard,” she said, turning back toward him. “Seeing it--”

“Even if I did agree,” Nick said. “They’d never let you in a cockpit.”

“Oh, and they’d let two amateurs with no sense of the machine in there instead?” she asked.

“You don’t even know we’re drift compatible,” Nick argued.

She sidled closer. “Oh, come now,” she said, soft and seductive. “You surely haven’t forgotten everything. We were good together. Perfect.”

She was closer now, almost leaned close enough to kiss him.

He remained stiff, backing away. “Until you left me without a word.”

Sighing, she turned away. “I promise you, it wasn’t personal.”

“Not for you--”

“It doesn’t matter as much as you think it does,” Helen hissed.

“It does--

“No,” Helen said, rounding on him again. “What matters -- what has always mattered -- is saving the world. This is bigger than you think it is. Much bigger. And we can make a difference in this war -- and all the conflicts to follow.”

Nick’s face screwed up. “What are you talking about?”

“Drift with me and find out,” she said with fresh fervor.

“They’d have to run tests,” Nick said. “I’ve been trying to talk Stephen into it for months--”

Her face contorted. “Stephen?”

Nick nodded. “Stephen Hart,” he confirmed. “Your student. Whom you also left, by the way.”

She looked surprised. “Wait,” she said. “You took him in?”

Nick shrugged. “Someone had to--”

“Wait,” she said, chuckling now. “You’re working side by side with Stephen Hart.

“We’re drift compatible,” he said. “We were going to pilot together, but Stephen refused--”

At that, she laughed outright. “And you don’t know why?”

Nick frowned. “He says it’s a risk he won’t let me take, but I don’t think he’s just protecting me--”

“No,” she agreed. “He’s definitely not protecting you.”

She wasn’t saying something. She was being obtuse. There was something more to this, and Nick wasn’t sure he wanted to know.

Which was all the more reason he had to know. “What are you talking about?”

She laughed. “You really don’t know? He never told you?” Her gaze flicked behind Nick, and that was when he became aware of another presence in the room. “Did you, Stephen?”

Nick turned, surprised to see Stephen standing in the doorway. He was holding some files, stunned and silent, eyes on Helen. Paperwork for the test drive tomorrow, no doubt. Their first drift was scheduled, and Stephen had been working round the clock to get the Jaeger ready.

But neither of them had counted on Helen. But if Nick were surprised, Stephen was--


Helen moved past Nick, smirking coyly at Stephen. “We never meant for it to happen,” she cooed, lifting a gentle hand and brushing Stephen’s cheek. She turned back, smiling at Nick. “But you were gone so much. And Stephen was so willing.”

Nick shook his head. It didn’t make sense. It couldn’t make sense.

“And I suppose I knew better,” Helen continued with a shrug. “But Stephen always said he’d do anything for me, and it felt good to know someone meant that.”

“Wait,” Nick said. He looked from Helen to Stephen. “You--”

Stephen swallowed hard, looking down.

Nick’s eyes widened, his heart started to pound. “You--” he started and stopped, throat constricting at the realization solidifying horribly in his gut. “You slept with my wife.

Helen feigned innocence. “I can’t believe he stayed with you all those years,” she said. “A guilty conscience, no doubt.”

Stephen’s cheeks reddened as he looked up at Helen. “Something you never suffered from,” he said tersely.

“Oh, don’t even,” Nick said. “All these years, and you never told me--”

“It was in the past,” Stephen said. “It was a mistake--”

The past. A mistake. Stephen wanted to put it behind him, but it was still new to Nick. It was still so damn new.

“And this is why you didn’t want to drift?” Nick asked, putting it all together. Stephen’s reticence, his total refusal. Hell, his outright devotion all these years wasn’t respect; it was penitence. “You were protecting yourself?

“It would have ruined our drift,” Stephen said. “And our friendship--”

“What friendship?” Nick demanded callously. Because looking back, nothing seemed like it had before. Every action, every moment was tainted. Most people would remember K-Day as the day that changed everything. For Nick, it was this day. The day he learned the truth, not about aliens or giant monsters or the sovereignty of the planet. But about marriage vows and best mates and total betrayal. “You slept with my wife!”

Stephen’s face shifted. “I loved her--”

“She was my wife,” Nick insisted, still trying to make sense of it, to imagine how it could possibly happened.

“I didn’t even know you,” Stephen tried to explain.

Nick’s chest tightened. “So that makes it okay?”

“No,” Stephen said, fumbling now even as Helen took a step back. “I never meant for it--”

“But that didn’t stop you,” Nick said acidically. All these years, and Stephen had played him for the fool. “And you never told me--”

“There was no point--”

“For you!” Nick yelled, closing the distance between him and Stephen as the rage started to boil beneath his skin. “There was a difference to me!”

“She was unhappy!” Stephen yelled back, straightening defensively. “I didn’t want to hurt your memory--”

“Oh,” Nick said. “And you made her happy?”

Stephen’s mouth opened, and he faltered. “If you’d just listen--”

And Nick saw red.

In all the years; with all he had trusted Stephen with. Stephen had been his best mate; his most trusted ally.

It was a lie.

All of it was a lie.

From the first moment to the very last.

“You slept with her,” Nick hissed. “You stand here and you tell me you loved her and that she was lonely, but she was my wife--”

“Well, it certainly never seemed that way!” Stephen finally exploded. “These years you’ve searched for her, but I never saw you miss her. Not once. Not like I did!”

The blood drained out of Stephen’s face.

Nick’s fingers were curled into a ball, letting loose before he even realized it. The impact was jarring, his fist across Stephen’s cheek. The younger man stumbled back, dropping his papers as he steadied himself against the door.

“You’re fired,” Nick said coldly, flexing his sore fingers as he looked down at Stephen. “I don’t want to drift with you; I don’t want to work with you. I don’t even want to see you.”

Stephen found his footing, blue eyes clouded. He looked at Nick; he looked at Helen. His eyes settled on Nick one last time, and there were countless explanations there.

And not one of them mattered.

Stephen knew Nick well enough, at least, not to even try. Instead, he touched his cheek tenderly, turning and walking out.

For a few tense moments, there was silence. “Well,” Helen said finally. “That clears up that--”

“Get out,” Nick said, not even looking at her.

“But you need a drift partner,” Helen argued.

Nick growled, turning angrily toward Helen. “Get out.”

Helen’s mouth opened.

“So help me God, Helen,” Nick said. “You need to leave.”

She drew herself together, brow darkening. “You’ll regret this, Nick.”

Nick grunted as she made her way to the door and let it clatter shut behind her. He lashed out, kicking at the sofa violently before crashing down onto it, heart twisted painfully in his chest.

“Trust me,” he muttered. Thinking of Stephen and Helen, StephenandHelen. His best mate and his wife. “I already do.”

8. Drift Compatibility, Take Two.

Nick slept through the alarm.

That wasn’t entirely true.

When his alarm went off, he’d yanked it out of the wall and thrown it across the bedroom. He normally wasn’t quite so easily provoked, but most mornings he wasn’t waking up to a world where his best mate slept with his wife and lied about it.

Giant monsters trying to take over the Earth? Not a problem.

Betrayal of the basest kind? Nick deserved a lie in.

He’d put his entire life on hold for the Jaeger program. They could give him one morning.

By the time he rolled out of bed, it was late. It was later still when he found his way into the shower and managed to drink a spot of coffee before driving into work. At the check in, he was surprised to find Connor and Abby waiting for him.

“We were just about to come get you!” Connor said.

Abby’s eyes were wide. “We called your mobile--”

Nick grunted. “I must have lost it,” he said. Or maybe he’d just thrown it across the room, too.

“Well, you should have told us yesterday, then,” Connor said.

Nick showed his badge, stepping through the security checkpoint. “Told you what?”

“About you and Stephen,” Abby said, as though it were the most obvious thing in the entire world.

Nick’s stomach roiled. What went on between him and Stephen was nobody’s business. He didn’t want to talk about it; he didn’t want to think about it. He had no intention of dragging his dirty laundry through the PPDC.

And how did they even know? Why would Stephen lie to him for all these years and then tell Connor and Abby like it was nothing?

“He told you?” Nick asked, moving past them and making his way inside.

“Well, he had to!” Connor said.

“With the test being today and everything,” Abby said. “Lester is going mad--”

“Lester?” Nick asked, looking at them in confusion. “What has he got to do with it?”

Connor and Abby looked back at him, totally blank. “What doesn’t he have to do with it?” Connor asked.

“And Claudia’s been all out trying to calm him down,” Abby said. “But he wants the test to go on as scheduled--”

Nick shook his head again. “What’s wrong with the test? Everything should be in order--”

“It is,” Connor said. “Stephen came in early--”

“Wait,” Nick said, turning and stopping abruptly. “Stephen came in?”

Abby blinked. “Well, yeah.”

“But--” Nick spluttered, trying to work out how the younger man had that much gall. Cutter had fired him last night, after all. Why would he dare to show his face here? And tell everyone? “What’s he doing?”

Connor scoffed.

Abby shook her head. “What you’re supposed to be doing,” she said. “Getting ready for the drift test.”

Nick scrunched up his nose.

“He’s already in the cockpit,” Connor said. “Lester’s almost apoplectic--”

“Wait,” Nick said. “Stephen’s in the cockpit?”

“Well, where else would he be?” Abby asked. “Since you two finally agreed to drift together.”

Nick stared.

Then he realized.

Stephen didn’t confess to anyone about the affair. He also didn’t leave quietly like Nick had hoped. No, Stephen had gone behind his back and set up a drift, just like Cutter had wanted from the start.

Only this wasn’t about saving the world.

This was about the drift.

The closest connection between two people. Two minds; one thought.

Cutter cursed, starting off down the corridor at a jog.

Connor and Abby yelled after him, but he didn’t look back. When he got to the Jaeger Bay, he pushed his way passed the guards, scooting around the technicians when he saw Claudia in the control room.

“Nick!” she said. “Oh, thank goodness!”

Nick skirted around her, looking up toward the Jaeger. “Is he in there?”

“Yeah, just waiting for you,” she said. “He said he’d get everything ready so you’d just have to strap in--”

Nick stifled a curse. “Where the comm system?”

“Over there,” Claudia said, pointing to a far control panel. “But it doesn’t matter. We’ve already finished the checks. I had to keep Lester from sending out the MPs to drag you here.”

Nick stalked toward the comm panel. “And he was okay with this?” he asked. “Letting Stephen drift?”

“Well, that’s what we’ve wanted all along,” Claudia said. “It was what you wanted.”

“But we haven’t even trained--” Nick objected.

“Your scores are higher than any other candidates by far,” Claudia replied. “It was an easy choice--”

“And it didn’t seem strange?” Nick asked. “That Stephen changed his mind, just like that?”

“He said you changed it for him,” Claudia said. She huffed. “Nick, is everything okay? You’re acting strange.”

Strange didn’t begin to cover it. Nick was tired and he was angry. He was confused and he was hurt. Everything he’d come to count on was a lie. “I’m not sure I’m ready to talk about it,” he said, trying to blunt his anger. If everything else had failed him, he still had Claudia. “But first, we need to get Stephen out of there--”

An alarm blared. The technicians scrambled.

Nick turned, concerned. “What is that?”

“Stephen initiated the drift,” someone said.

“By himself?” Nick asked incredulously.

“But I thought the strain on any single mind would be devastating,” Claudia said in shock.

“It is,” Nick said, stepping forward to look out the bay window up at the con pod. “Can we disconnect it manually?”

“The override system is only for emergencies,” the technician said. “If we pull the plug on the drift, it could damage anyone hooked up to it.”

“But that’s stupid!” Nick said.

“We can disengage the Jaeger,” the technician clarified. “But the only way to stop the drift--”

Nick looked up grimly. “--is to go inside it with him.”

More alarms were sounding, but Cutter wasn’t listening. Instead, he turned hard, jogging back through the bay and pushing passed the other workers as he scaled the ladders up to the con pod entrance. It took time -- too much time -- and when he forced his way past the last of the technicians, he found himself inside.

His suit was laid out. The machines were on and glowing warmly. On the left, Stephen was fully suited, arms poised and helmet dark as he was caught up in the drift.

“Stephen!” Nick yelled, coming around to the front. “Stephen, you need to disengage.”

The other man didn’t hear him, though. His expression was blank and distant. He twitched once.

Then a trickle of blood came out of his nose.

Cutter hissed a curse. Stephen was going to get himself killed. It was a stupid gamble to take, hoping that Cutter would show up, hoping that Cutter would drift with him, hoping that Cutter would give him any chance at all. Stephen was willing to risk his life, and all Nick had to do was nothing and the bastard would get what was coming to him.

But that wasn’t justice. Stephen had betrayed him, but that didn’t mean Nick wanted him to die.

He couldn’t stand here and watch Stephen die.

Not when he had the ability to save him.

Nick swallowed, looking at the suit.

He looked at Stephen.

It was time to drift.

9. Chasing the RABIT.

One second, Cutter was in the con pod, strapped in and ignoring Claudia’s voice over the comm system.

The next--

He was drifting.

The initial rush washed over him violently, pulling him through his own body and sucking him upward into a vortex of memories. For an instant, he remembered everything. He remembered growing up in Scotland. He remembered digging for rocks in the hills. Then he was at school, at university. He was playing football and falling in love. Helen’s eyes twinkled and she said, “We can do it all -- together.”

He was getting married; he was graduating from school. He was getting his PhD -- he was finishing his first dig. He was traveling, his marriage was falling apart. Helen said, “We said together.

Cutter kept moving; Helen turned away.

Monsters rose from the ocean. Cutter would fight them, with Abby and Connor and Claudia and Stephen--


Nick’s breath caught and the speedway of memories stalled. He faltered, sorting through the chaos until he honed in on the one thing more real than the rest.


Finding him in the drift was almost instinctual, though it only took Nick a moment to realize the other man had been there all along. He skipped through Stephen’s childhood -- lonely and quiet, with his books and his sharpshooting -- through the failed relationships at university and the string of classes he could never quite get interested in, and then--


She had her back to the class, and Stephen was sitting in the back. The other students were taking notes, but Stephen was staring, watching, mesmerized. When Helen turned around, he didn’t even blink and when she smiled at him, he finally smiled back.

He got help tutoring, and Helen made a face. “I don’t really make exceptions.”

Stephen swallowed, desperate and needy. He’d never wanted anything like this, never felt this alive. “Please,” he said. “I’ll do anything.”

Helen quirked her head. She looked at him again, eyes trailing up and down. She picked up his paper again. “We’ll see what we can do.”

The tutoring became frequent. Stephen looked forward to it; it was the highlight of his week. He studied harder, focused more. He had found his calling, but it wasn’t robotics.

It was Helen.

She was perfect and passionate. When she smiled, his world brightened. A word of praise was all he needed to keep going; any sign of approval and it was everything he wanted. Stephen was a lonely, uncertain student, but Helen gave him purpose.

It was infatuation.

It was a crush.

It was love.

She smiled more, touched his arm. Then his cheek, then his hair. When she looked at him, Nick could see it in her eyes. Not infatuation; not a crush; definitely not love. A means, though. A means to an end.

If Stephen knew, he had no way to fight it. He did her grades; he did her paperwork. He lived up to his promise -- I’ll do anything.

Anything to feel alive.

Anything to feel like he belonged.


And Helen knew it.

On K-Day, Stephen was distraught, watching the television in shock. Everything changed; everything was different.

This time, when Helen touched him, she didn’t stop.

Nick stood taught, too stunned to intervene. Cutter could see the tension in Stephen’s body, how much he wanted this, how much he’d dreamed about this.

But not like this.

Never like this.

But it wasn’t real, just like the monsters on the telly. None of it could be real. It was a dream; a nightmare.

And Stephen closed his eyes.

When it was over, Helen smirked and told Stephen to clean up.

On the floor of the lab, still half dressed, Stephen tucked his knees to his chest and cried.

Helen disappeared after that; Stephen spiralled. He was failing school; he was losing friends. He had no prospects; no interests.

Then Cutter called him in.

Seeing himself was a strange thing, because he was more disheveled than he remembered. His hair was mussed and his office was buried under papers. He was a mess.

“I can help you,” Stephen offered, swallowing hard as he looked anywhere but Nick’s eyes. “If you want.”

Behind his desk, Nick grinned. “I think maybe we can help each other.”

The years that followed weren’t penance; they were a coming to life. It was two minds, coming together; two souls that needed each other. The forgetful husband and the infatuated student. Both better off without the thing that linked them together.

But Stephen was still there, curled up on the floor of the lab.

Sighing, Nick stepped closer. “Stephen.”

Stephen didn’t reply.

Kneeling down, Nick reached out, tentative and uncertain. “Stephen, please.”

Stephen flinched, but didn’t look up.

“Stephen, it’s not real,” Nick said. “None of this is real.”

“It is, though,” Stephen cried. “I see it every day. I can never let it go.”

Nick pursed his lips, his shoulders falling. “I think maybe you can,” he said. “If we work together.”

Stephen looked up, eyes red-rimmed and scared. “Nick?”

Nick smiled. “Come on,” he coaxed. “Let’s get out of here.”

Stephen reached up to take his hand -- and the lab dissolved and the bond was broken. Cutter blinked his real eyes and realized he’d disconnected the drift. Removing his helmet, he unlatched himself and scrambled over to where Stephen was still attached to the harness.

“Stephen,” he said, fumbling with the other man’s helmet. He pulled the cords free and then released the seal. It hissed and came off. “Stephen!”

Stephen’s head lolled forward, the blood smeared across his lip. His face was pale -- too pale.

Nick stifled a curse, running a hand across Stephen’s clammy forehead. “Come on, come on,” he muttered. “Come back to me!”

Then, Stephen’s eyes fluttered. His eyes were bloodshot and clouded, but when he looked at Nick, there was recognition. “Nick?”

Cutter grinned. “That’s right.”

Stephen swallowed with obvious difficulty. “Do you see?” he asked, almost inaudibly. “Do you see now?”

Nick’s chest clenched, the flood of emotions almost too much to handle. What Stephen had done was wrong -- it was horrible -- and it couldn’t be so easily absolved.

But one mistake--

Even two--

Cutter was more than his worst mistakes.

So was Stephen. And nothing made Stephen’s mistake okay, but that also didn’t negate all the years that followed. Stephen hadn’t betrayed Cutter as much as he had betrayed himself. Helen had used him, just like she had used Nick in the end.

Because more than the betrayal, was the regret. The hurt and the guilt and the tortured fact that nothing would be good enough to pardon him. Stephen made a mistake, and he’d spent all the years that followed paying for that. He’d never let it go; he’d never let himself forget. Stephen was more than sorry -- he’d fashioned an entire life trying to make up for the wrong he’d done.

None of that changed the fact that Stephen was good for Nick. Or that Nick was good for Stephen.

And Cutter understood. God help him, he did. He didn’t know how to explain that; he wasn’t even sure he wanted to. He didn’t need anything more from Stephen -- that was the power of the drift. The words didn’t matter; the memories spoke volumes.

It was the drift.

The drift could tear them apart.

Or it could make them stronger.

“Yes,” he said, his chest so tight that it hurt. He held Stephen close and refused to let go. He trusted Stephen, he needed Stephen, he loved Stephen. And he didn’t want that to change. He breathed, ducking his head and leaning his forehead against Stephen, hoping for absolution as much as he was giving it. “I see everything.”

10. Winning the Fight.

Stephen didn’t remember everything.

He could still remember the look on Nick’s face when he found out the truth; he could still feel the shock in the pit of his stomach when he saw Helen standing in front of him. And he could remember the devastation when she outed the truth and his whole world fell apart.

He could hear Nick firing him; he could feel Nick’s knuckles across his face.

There had been nothing he could say.

But there was one thing he could do.

Even now, he remembered going in early. He remembered convincing Lester that he and Nick had agreed to drift. It had been a bit of a trial convincing everyone, but it was what they all had wanted -- so they had ultimately acquiesced.

He’d hurried himself, getting set up and ready to go, waiting for just the right moment. He needed Nick to be in the Jaeger Bay before he hooked up. That way, when Stephen started drifting, they’d still have a chance.

It had been a risk, to be sure. If Cutter had decided not to drift, the consequences could have been catastrophic. Even in the aftermath, Stephen had a persistent headache and had received a stern talking to from every member of the staff from Lester to Abby.

But Stephen had known there was no other way.

Nick had to see.

Stephen remembered the drift; he remember delving into himself and reliving the worst of everything. He remembered the loss of his parents; the uncertain grief of figuring out what he wanted to do at college. He remembered thinking Helen would save him before she used him and left him.

It was obvious now -- he had been nothing to her. A pawn; a convenient out. He’d thrown so much of his life away over a woman who had never cared for him much at all.

In the drift, it had been a lifetime in a minute, an eternity in a heartbeat. He would have died like that, lost in his own regrets and grief.

Until Nick came.

He followed Nick out, and that was all that really mattered after all.

Things were a bit hazy, though, and he seemed to sleep more than he was awake. He roused for questions and mumbled his answers, drifting off as the doctor ran him through more machines and his friends started their tirades again about his stupidity.

Stephen didn’t care, though.

Because through it all, Nick was by his side.

They didn’t touch, and they didn’t speak; they didn’t have to. Stephen could feel Cutter, more acutely than he ever had. All he had to do was turn his head to the side--

Nick glared at him. “Are you going to stay awake this time?”

Stephen offered a small smile. “Depends,” he murmured. “Is this a dream?”

Nick huffed. “They say you don’t have brain damage,” he replied tersely.

Stephen winced. “Feels a bit like it.”

“That’s because you went into the drift by yourself,” Nick said, gearing up for what would probably be a predictable lecture.

Stephen sighed. “So I’ve been told.”

“Well, you didn’t really listen to the others!” Nick cried indignantly.

“I never listen to Lester,” Stephen said in his defense. “And Connor and Abby were too hard to follow. Claudia, though. She scared me.”

“Enough to learn your lesson?” Nick asked.

Stephen furrowed his brow. “And what lesson is that exactly?” he mused. “Not to sleep with my best mate’s wife?”

The color drained from Nick’s cheeks. “How about not to risk your life so carelessly,” he said. “You’re the one saying how valuable we are.”

“How valuable you are,” Stephen corrected him, swallowing hard to work some saliva back into his throat. “I’ve never been anything without you.”

Nick’s face pinched a bit, and he settled himself uncomfortably in the chair by Stephen’s bed. “And you think I’m anything without you?”

Wetting his lips, Stephen grew somber. “You’d have been better off without me.”

“Do you really think that?” Nick asked.

“I slept with your wife--”

“Yes, and then you stayed and became my best mate,” Nick continued for him. “Stephen, you were so caught up in your own memories that you missed something big.”

Stephen tilted his head slightly.

Nick sighed, sounding positively put out. “Because I saw your life and everything you’d done and regretted and realized you were more than that mistake,” he said. “Helen exploited you, and you should have said no, but it was more her fault than yours.”

“And you can forgive that?” Stephen asked, incredulous.

Nick shrugged, almost helplessly. “I think I have to,” he admitted. “Because I didn’t just see your life. I saw mine. And I saw how much better I was once you were in it. How much more organized and grounded. How much more human. Helen was never wrong for giving you extra attention, it’s just a pity she missed what you were really good for.”

“A yes man?”

“A mate,” Cutter said. “I don’t know, maybe with her, it was just never meant to be.”

Stephen grew tentative, uncertain about what to say. This wasn’t outright absolution; it wasn’t rejection, either.

“Or maybe there’s just something about us,” he said. “We’re better together, Stephen. And as much as I hate it, your time with Helen gave us a chance to get to know each other.”

Stephen raised his eyebrows. “Are you saying you’re grateful that I slept with your wife?”

Cutter sighed heavily, narrowing his gaze. “I’m saying there are forces in this world we can’t control,” he said. “Things happen that aren’t suppose to happen. Giant monsters come out of the sea and kill people; people have affairs. We can’t change these things, and if we draw back and play defense, hoping it just gets better, then it’ll ruin everything in the end.”

“So the solution is?” Stephen prompted, because after all these years, he didn’t want any more ambiguity. He just wanted to know.

Nick shrugged. “We build giant robots, of course,” he said, nonchalant as a smile tugged at his lips. “And then we pilot them together.”

Stephen stared, wondering if he had the implications right. “You mean…”

“I think you know what I mean,” Nick said. “You and me, of all people. We were meant to drift together. We’re better together.”

“Sure,” Stephen said. “But that doesn’t change the fact that most Rangers die. I don’t want that for you.”

“And I don’t want it for you, either,” Nick said. “Seeing you after the drift, watching them cart you off -- I never want to go through that again.”

There was a surprising amount of fear in that admission -- fear grounded in genuine concern and affection. Cutter did care about him, all truths and lies withstanding.

It was a strange and solidifying realization, coupled uncomfortably with the task Nick was setting before them. There had to be a middle ground, somewhere between being enemies and being copilots saving the world. Stephen had spent much of his life thinking he didn’t have much left to lose. Now that he did, he found himself reticent to put it on the line.

“So we don’t have to be Rangers, Cutter,” Stephen said.

“Yeah, I think we do,” Cutter said, giving Stephen an honest look. “And I think you know it, too.”

Of course Stephen did. No matter what he didn’t want to lose; no matter how scared he was -- Stephen had probably always known. That was why he’d started the drift; that was why Cutter had joined him, no matter how much he’d hated him at the moment. Stephen could have walked away; Cutter could have let him fry his own brain. But they were connected.

Drift compatible.

That was what the tests said, but it was also what they had lived all these years. No matter what started it, no matter what truths were omitted; they were better together. There was no middle ground, not here at the end of the world.

Apart, they’d self-destruct.

Apart, the whole project might just fall to pieces.

Together, though.

Together they could quite possibly save the world.

“So, we’d die together, then,” Stephen ventured, shifting nervously on the bed.

Nick chuckled. “I prefer to think of it as living together,” he said. “Until the world ends, either way.”

Still sore and hurting, Stephen felt himself start to smile. Because in all the years since K-Day, he’d lived in fear. Fear of the end of the world; fear of the end of a friendship. Now, all his secrets were out, and there was nothing left to hide. His shame was laid bare; his mistakes were known. The bottom had well and truly fallen out.

But for Stephen Hart, the future had never looked brighter.

(And One Step Back to Salvation)

They hit the water hard, the impact jarring them as they rocked heavily in their harnesses. Nick bit back a cry as the pain from Stephen’s torn side reverberated through the drift.

Sorry, sorry,
Stephen hissed between them. I can’t--

Not your fault, Nick thought, pulling himself together as he tried to get a better grasp of their status. There were alarms blaring, with one system failure cascading into another. Raptor Incursion was failing--

She’s gone,
>Stephen interrupted him. You and I know that better than anyone.

They knew because Raptor Incursion was theirs. They’d built every circuit, approved every connection. They’d made her, and they’d lived in her. She was a part of them, just as much as they were a part of her.

And she’d fought hard. She’d given everything she had to beat the kaiju. Her fourth kill -- an impressive tally.

Her fourth.

And last.

Nick sighed, tuning out the catastrophic failure notices now resounding loudly as water started to flood the con pod on Stephen’s side. She did good.

She did great,
was Stephen’s only thought. The only woman worth coming between us.

Nick snorted. You’re thinking of Helen?

Stephen smiled. You know better.

It was true. Nick did know better because every thought Stephen had, he had too. In an instant, he relived their entire relationship, from that first meeting to this last moment -- and everything in between. The good times; the bad times. The friendship; the lies; the ultimate truths they could never deny.

We didn’t have to be Rangers,
Nick realized, even though it was Stephen who had told him so all those years ago.

Stephen replied, even as the pain built in his mind, eclipsing his consciousness. We did.

Nick’s chest clenched, and he looked over at Stephen. The other man was slumped in his harness, looking straight at Nick. He smiled. “No regrets,” Stephen said.

Nick swallowed hard. “I’m sorry.”

Stephen’s consciousness faded even more precariously, his eyelids fluttering. “I’m not.”

With that, Stephen’s eyes slipped close and the drift went still.

Nick stared, heart in his throat. Waiting and hoping--

But it was over.

It was over.

They’d fought; they’d conquered. They’d lived.

Now, it seemed, there was just one thing left.

Together, until the world ended either way.

Nick closed his eyes, swallowing hard against the inevitable.

Maybe this was fate; maybe this was what they’d been resigned to the day kaiju made landfall, the day Stephen slept with Helen.

Maybe this was it.


Nick opened his eyes and looked at Stephen again.

Then again, maybe it wasn’t.

With fresh determination, Nick reached up and undid his harness. Disconnected from the drift, he lurched through the water-slogged con pod toward Stephen. It was hard to work against the influx of water, and he struggled to keep his balance as the Jaeger started to sink. He almost fell once, holding onto Stephen as he undid the last of the safety releases and freed Stephen from the harness.

Without the harness, Stephen slumped forward, and Nick struggled to catch him. The force nearly took them both to the ground, and Nick stumbled in the water as he tried to right them both. Desperate, he looked back toward the escape pods -- but the circuits were underwater already. Going back there would probably get them killed.

He looked toward the hole ripped through the con pod. That was probably suicide, too.

The proverbial rock and a hard place. All those years, and there was no way out.

He pulled Stephen closer, the responsibility heavy on him. Stephen had trusted him; he’d followed him…

To this.

They were heroes; they were together.

But that couldn’t be it.

It couldn’t.

Grieved, Cutter closed his eyes, dropping his head against Stephen’s one last time. He wouldn’t let go, at least. He wouldn’t let go.

The water rose; the Jaeger shifted deeper into the ocean. Stephen was still and heavy against him.

Then, Nick opened his eyes--

And blinked.

In front of him was a bright light, twinkling and rotating, splinters of refracted light dancing across the surface of the water as it oscillated before him.

His fear forgotten, he stared in wonder. Maybe he was hallucinating. Or maybe this was an invitation to the next life.

Nick didn’t know what it was.

All he knew was that it was a chance.

He wasn’t sure how; he wasn’t sure why; but he felt drawn to it. It seemed familiar, and it called to him.

Inching forward, he dragged Stephen with him, reaching out with a tentative hand. He could feel the pull on the metal in his suit, persistent like a magnetic force. Suddenly the loose circuits started to move toward it, as if drawn in as well.

Curious, Nick moved even closer, sticking his hand close enough to touch it--

Just to see it disappear.

Startled, he pulled it back, surprised to find his hand whole and unaffected.

This wasn’t a light.

This was a portal.

Stunned, he looked up again.

The proverbial rock and a hard place. And a light was their only way out.

Nick looked at Stephen. He looked at the light. He wasn’t sure where it would take them; he wasn’t even sure they’d survive the trip, but they’d be together.

Hefting Stephen into his arms, he gritted his teeth and muddled forward through the pitching water. The downward force almost made him fall as he dragged Stephen through the light, uncertain but together to face what came next.

Until the world ended.

Either way.


Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: June 4th, 2014 06:56 am (UTC)

*curses whatever is wrong with my internet connection* Okay, I’ll try this again…

Thank Heavens for the drift allowing Nick to find out not only exactly what happened but to experience it to, and to see himself and everything and be able to forgive Stephen and mean it, and know how much Stephen had wanted to belong and the overwhelming guilt and how he blossomed with Nick. And how Nick needed him as much.

I love the scenes where he is holding Stephen and saving him. And yay, an anomaly! Hope! They really can save the world.

Great fusion of Pacific Rim and Primeval and another great way to save Stephen and Nick. Thank you so much!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 12th, 2014 01:55 am (UTC)
stephen goodbye

The drift is such an interesting prospect for these two -- on one level, they're very compatible. On another, not so much. But I do like the idea of no secrets between them -- and that words would be irrelevant, which is what they need!

Thanks! And I hope your day was lovely :)

Posted by: reggietate (reggietate)
Posted at: June 4th, 2014 03:42 pm (UTC)

Woot! Superb finish! And I'm sure they'll have many adventures together on the other side :-D

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 12th, 2014 01:56 am (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

Adding the anomaly at the end was too tempting not to do :)

Thank you!

Posted by: fredbassett (fredbassett)
Posted at: June 4th, 2014 04:33 pm (UTC)

Wow, that was hell of an ending! Great story. I loved the way the drift enabled Nick to see what really happened, and the way this gathered pace towards that singer of an ending was really impressive. Great stuff.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 12th, 2014 01:56 am (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

I'm very glad you enjoyed it! I was trying hard to keep things moving along, so I'm glad it all came together.

Thanks :)

Posted by: knitekat (knitekat)
Posted at: June 4th, 2014 06:36 pm (UTC)

Great story, with the drift allowing Nick to see the truth. Yay for them surviving and going through the anomaly.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 12th, 2014 01:56 am (UTC)
stephen angsty

I'm really glad you liked it :) Thanks!

Posted by: fififolle (fififolle)
Posted at: June 8th, 2014 12:16 pm (UTC)

Eeeee! Fantastic!
That was brilliant. Nick going in to save Stephen and everything he saw was so powerful. What a great read. I loved the fusion, I was on the edge of my seat.
Raptor Incursion! Yay :D Connor must have been very proud that they got to name it. Even if they had to sell it?!! Awesome fic. Thanks :D

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 12th, 2014 01:57 am (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

It's gratifying to know the fusion worked. It was a bit of a trick to shift the show to fit the movie but I did like the idea of Nick and Stephen drifting, so I tried my best :)


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