Title: Primeval Season Two
Sequel to: Primeval Season One
Characters: Chloe/Becker, Stephen, Nick Cutter, Abby, Connor, Lester, Leeks, Jenny, Helen
Disclaimer: Don't own
Summary: Chloe's trip to the past has changed their present and many other very important details in their lives, though some more than others. Is there a Ben Becker and a Claudia Brown in this universe? And what is Helen up to NOW?
A gasp escaped her lips as he kissed her deeply, pinning her to the bed with his body as she cradled him between her thighs, her hands running up and down his back as he kissed her deeper. It'd been two weeks since she'd decided to truly give Stephen a chance, and intimacy was still a very new stage to their relationship. She'd only ever been with two men in her whole life, Jimmy Olsen during her teenaged Daily Planet internship, and Ben...and she still felt very new somehow. It was why she was grateful that Stephen was giving her time, was easing her into the relationship he was already used to having with her...the other her... Maybe she should start referring to the other her as Alternate!Chloe or Chlother. It was all so confusing!
Chloe pushed those thoughts out of her mind, fought not to think at all, and only concentrate on the feel of his lips against her, his body pinning her to the bed.
They'd been playing this slow-burn game, and during the last couple of 'sessions' she'd known...could feel...that the time to take it all the way was fast approaching.
Stephen's tongue teased hers as he reached down and freed himself from his boxers when suddenly their pagers went off at the same time.
The petite blonde and tall brunet groaned in despair.
"It can't be time already." Chloe complained, reaching for her pager and staring at the message. "Great, just great. Why couldn't they tell us from yesterday that today they were going to test run Connor's Anomaly Detector?"
"I think they did." Stephen tossed his pager behind him on the bed, concentrating on her neck, licking and nibbling it distractingly.
"I don't...remember.." Chloe was breathless as her eyes rolled back in her sockets in pleasure as she felt him at her core. "Stephen...we have to..."
Stephen covered her lips with his as he moved his hips and proved to her just how much he didn't care about being a little late that morning.
"Where are they?" Lester looked at his watch.
"Mr. Hart phoned in saying that he and Miss Sullivan-Cutter would be late and to start without them." Leeks declared. "Something about a flat tire."
"Flat tire." Lester scoffed disbelievingly, folding his arms over his chest with a shake of his head. "It's the damned yankee. She's corrupting the british punctuality out of him."
"Actually, sir, considering she's Professor Cutter's and his wife's daughter, she's British, not yankee."
Lester made up his face. "She was bred yankee, Leeks, thus she's yankee. Nurture forms nature."
"Of course, sir." Leeks sighed.
"She's apparently corrupting the whole damn team." Lester went on to say, the only two members of his team actually there were Cutter and Jenny, who seemed awkward with each other. "Even Mr. Temple isn't here, and it's his presentation!"
"Ms. Maitland called to say they were in a traffic jam." Leeks informed.
"What's with the sudden automotive problems this morning?" Lester raised an eyebrow, clearly disbelieving. "Apparently there's an epidemic."
"Apparently, sir." Leek nodded agreeably before clearing his throat. "Speaking about Miss Sullivan-Cutter-,"
"We'd actually gotten off of the subject of her." Lester declared.
"Have you gotten her to reconsider allowing the ARC to run those tests on her? It could truly benefit us to know what sort of affects being a Time Child has had upon her body or DNA or quite possibly her brain functions."
"She's refused and frankly there's nothing that we could offer her which tempts her to accept. Not even a raise. Or a puppy." Lester gazed at the documents on his desk, forgetting about the Command Center and everyone's lateness. "Go be useful somewhere else until everyone arrive."
"Yes sir." Leeks sighed, leaving the office.
As Chloe sang in the shower about sucking a lollipop, Stephen at by her side of the bed, rings on the sheet, the fake bottom of her jewelry box to the side, and the picture of her and the man who could only be this Benjamin character in his hands. When Chloe had made it a habit of keeping that specific jewelry box near her bed all of a sudden Stephen had grown curious and had inspected it, coming upon the picture a while back. It was very recently slightly torn at the top, obviously showing that she'd started to rip it apart and yet hadn't been able to, instead folding it away and hiding it amongst her valuables.
They were slowly getting back to how wonderful things had been between them before, he was going to move back into their room...and yet he knew deep in his heart that this man could ruin everything. Stephen was a tracker, he knew how to sense danger, and this man was a danger.
A muscle jumped in Stephen's cheek as he gazed down darkly at the picture of the man who was a ghost between him and Chloe. His hair was dark, his eyes hazel, and his arm possessive around Chloe, the sheet the only thing covering their decency, as they smiled up happily at the camera he held in the air above them on the bed. Stephen could see in the way the man held Chloe, in his expression...this was a man who was possessive and deeply in love.
And what was worse was the fact that Chloe's body language said the exact same thing.
Stephen had never hated someone the way he hated this guy.
It was why he took out that picture whenever he could and just studied it, putting to memory everything about that face so that if Benjamin existed in this timeline and Stephen stumbled across him, Stephen would know to keep Chloe as far away from Benjamin as possible. Things were finally going well between Stephen and Chloe, and even Nick was coming around to the fact that they were together, and Stephen wasn't about to let this other guy just waltz in and mess this up for him. He didn't care that technically this Chloe might be Benjamin's and not his, the moment the timelines merged or changed or whatever the hell they did-Benjamin's Chloe had become his Chloe, and Stephen wasn't giving her up. And he wasn't afraid or unwilling to fight dirty.
Putting the picture away in its hiding place, Stephen fixed everything so that Chloe would continue believing her secret was safe, before going to the bathroom, the need to claim her once more fierce in his chest.
Hands in his jeans pockets, Nick wondered where everyone was this fine morning. They were about to try out one of the most important inventions of their time in his opinion, and not even the creator, Connor, was here for it. Cutter doubted anything had happened to the four missing members of the Anomaly Research team since bad news traveled fast, but still he worried at their absence. Then again, it could be just that things were extremely awkward between him and Jenny Lewis, and they usually had someone to use as a buffer between them but now it was just them...and apparently Lester and Leeks, who had appeared from their respective offices.
"So," he tried to start conversation. "How's your boyfriend?"
"Fiance actually." Jenny replied, gazing at the interconnected computer system and screens that made up Connor's work. "Fine. Thanks."
Leeks gazed down at his watch once more.
"Yeah, just waiting for Connor." Nick announced. "He should be here in a minute."
Suddenly Connor and Abby burst into the Command Center. "Sorry. Sorry." Connor hurried towards his baby. "Mr. Mr. Karr, would you kindly put me in the driver's seat, please?" He hurried to the keyboard and began typing in codes, bringing the screens to life, turning to face those there with a proud grin on his face. "I'd like you to meet the Anomaly Detection Device...or ADD for short." He turned towards them, a sheepish expression on his face. "Actually, that's probably not the best acronym for it is it..."
"Connor." Nick grinned at how Connor was rambling on so rapidly in excitement. "Breathe."
"Sorry." Connor nodded and took in a deep breath, trying to go slower as he turned to the computers system. "What you're looking at is a fully-integrated graphic representation of the radio communications matrix, networking the whole of the UK's transmitters."
"Congratulations." Jenny announced with some attitude. "You built your very own satnav."
"I believe you can get them dashboard size nowadays." Leeks joined in on the slight taunting.
Connor made a face at them before turning his attention to Cutter. "This watches over the UK 24/7, so..." he pressed a button and a loud alarm blared throughout the ARC, the words ANOMALY DETECTED flashing bright red across the screens.
"What is that?" Leeks made a face, hands on his hips.
"That is just a demo." Connor declared. "But when a real anomaly appears this machine can alert us within seconds."
"Good one." NIck praised.
"Thank you very much." Connor grinned, obviously very proud, turning off the alarm and pulling out a smaller handheld device. "Here's one I made earlier. This is a palm-held detector for us in the field."
Leeks' pager sounded and he gazed at it, frowning.
"It's a shortwave radio and it's got effective range of about 100 meters or so." Connor passed the device to Nick for inspection.
"I was hoping for something a little more compact." Nick admitted.
Leeks went off to the side and called someone on his mobile phone.
"Yeah, it's just a prototype for we can work on that." Connor assured him.
"Have you tried beaming up with it yet?" Jenny asked, proving just how unlikable she could be.
Connor turned to her, eyes narrowed. "Are you here to help or just to be sarcastic? 'Cause this is a serious piece of kit...or it will be when I've ironed out the kinks."
Leeks returned to Jenny's side. "Technical question."
"Yes?" Connor asked.
"Is the detector online now?"
"It is." Connor nodded.
"Hmmm." Leeks raised an eyebrow. "So it should be picking every new anomaly?"
"Yeah." Connor grinned.
"So why have I just been told that we have a new creature attack?
Everyone shared glances and turned as one to look at the silent Anomaly Detection Device.
"Dodo birds? Really?" Chloe asked in surprise as she took a sip of her coffee, walking arm in arm with Stephen towards the car from the coffee shop they'd stopped by to get warm beverages for the team as an apology for being so late, before heading to Blue Sky Park. "There were dodo birds in this timeline?"
"Yeah." Stephen nodded, amused by her surprise, holding the container with the warm cups. "They were silly things but the parasites inside of them were less funny. Connor's two friends got mixed up in it and one of them got infected and ultimately died in Connor's arms after nearly hurting Abby. The whole situation nearly killed Connor, he blamed himself for the longest time, wasn't sure he wanted to continue on the team."
"Wow." Chloe shook her head, obviously fascinated. "It didn't happen like that at all in my timeline."
Stephen hated how she always made a distinction between his timeline and hers, as if she was subconsciously still drawing a line between them. "So what happened that you remember?"
"Basically? I got kidnapped by mum, that's about it. There were no dodos involved and Connor's friends never found out, no one ever died." Chloe replied, the plastic bag with the pastries around her wrist as they made it to Stephen's 4x4. "Did the pterodactyl episode when I came back happen in this timeline?"
"Huh?" Stephen made a face. "There was a pterodactyl in your timeline?"
"Right," Chloe nodded as she opened the passenger side door, slipping into the truck, waiting until Stephen had gotten into the driver's seat to continue. "Claudia featured heavily in that incident, so I guess since she was written out of this timeline that episode was written out as well." She smirked. "But considering how you tasted the dung and freaked out all the manly security personnel, Tom in particular, it's a bit of a disappointment that it didn't happen in this one."
"You can tell a lot from feces." Stephen defended his actions in the past timeline with a smirk.
"I know, but the look on Tom Ryan's face when you recounted it! It was priceless!" Chloe laughed, before suddenly pausing, turning to look at Stephen as he merged into the traffic. "Did he work with the Home Office in this timeline?"
"He did." Stephen nodded with a sigh.
Chloe's gaze lowered. "Did he die the same way?"
"In the past by a future predator?" Stephen supplied his timeline's version.
"So he did..." Chloe frowned. "Why didn't any of us attend his funeral?"
"His family wanted a private affaire and we respected their wishes." Stephen responded softly.
Chloe opened her mouth to ask where he was buried so she could pay her respects...when suddenly a car slammed into them from behind, sending them flying into the crossroads...where a hummer promptly rammed into them, crashing into her side of the vehicle...and as she hit her head, everything went black as she was knocked unconscious.
"I've seen enough, Abby." Nick sighed as he straightened up, shaking his head. "Zip up the body."
Abby did as told, shaking her head.
Connor walked around them with the portable anomaly detector prototype and a look of growing confusion.
"Claw marks everywhere." Nick sent Abby a look. "He's been ripped to shreds."
Abby looked at the body bag as if unable to get the sight that it covered out of her mind. "If I was back at the zoo, I'd say it was a lion. See how the bones have been gnawed?"
"All right. Big cat then." Nick's gaze went to where Connor continued to pace with his device.
The techie turned to the group leader as if he had felt his gaze upon him. "No radio interference. No magnetic field. No sign of an anomaly." He flinched at the silent glances at him. "You know, I checked, I double checked, every chip and circuit board in that detector. It's working I'm telling you."
Nick gazed down at the body bag.
"If there was an anomaly it wouldn't shown up." Connor insisted. "I stake my life on it."
"You may have to." Nick admitted, thinking about the less than favorable way Jenny, Leech and the others had behaved earlier.
"Maybe he's got a point." Abby suddenly spoke up. "Maybe there's another explanation for this. There are thousands of big cat sightings every year. Pumas, leopards, lynxes."
Connor looked desperate to grasp onto one of those excuses.
Nick hated having to take away that little hope. "None of them are big enough to do this kind of damage."
"It could've escaped from a private zoo." Abby tried once more.
"Yeah, well, find out if anythings been reported." Nick turned towards her.
Abby left to do as told.
Connor sent her a look before going towards Nick, tapping a hand to his mobile detector. "If it is just an ordinary big cat..."
"Just?" Nick asked, realizing just how odd their lives were when a puma attack was considered something 'ordinary'.
"Well, yeah." Connor nodded. "If it's a normal explanation for all this stuff, the anomaly detector would be off the hook, right?"
Nick hesitated a second, thinking once more of the behavior of the higher ups at the Arc. "Maybe."
Connor nodded, taking that answer.
Nick frowned and looked around him before gazing at his watch. "Where exactly are Chloe and Stephen. And our coffees?"
"Probably having a problem finding parking." Connor shrugged.
"Right." Nick nodded, not understanding why he felt so uneasy.
"Stephen you really need to go." Chloe urged as she sat waiting for the doctor to get back with results from her x-ray to see if her arm was broken or just very badly injured. Her forehead was bruised and bandaged, swollen slightly, but other than having awoken in the hospital she was fine...thankfully not having suffered a concussion as feared.
"I can't just leave with you like this." Stephen looked up at her in exasperation.
"It's not broken, I promise you. I'm not a doctor or anything, but if my arm was broken or fractured I'd be in a lot more pain. And I'm not good when it comes to pain...so you'd know." She assured him. "I'll be fine, but I'm worried about Cutter and I'd feel better if I knew you were there with him."
"Cutter's a big man who can take care of himself." Stephen mumbled, bending on his knees in front of her as she sat. "He doesn't need me to hold his bloody hand."
"Please." Chloe whispered, reaching out with her good hand and cupping his face, thumb caressing his cheek tenderly, giving him a pleading look.
"Oh god, not the puppy dog eyes." Stephen groaned, closing his eyes before letting out a little sigh. "Call me the second the doctor has your results?"
"I promise." She smiled, relieved.
"And if you're even the least bit fractured you call me and I'll come get you and take you home myself." Stephen continued with his conditions, blue eyes determined. "I don't want you in a cab if you have a broken arm. I just don't."
"Scouts' honor." Chloe grinned.
"You were never a scout." He reminded her, pressing a kiss to her lips. "Keep me informed. And go and rest. I'm not kidding love."
Chloe pressed back as he rose, straightening. "Go."
"I mean it!" He called as he turned and raced out of the hospital, having only suffered minor bruising and cuts from the accident they'd been involved with
Chloe smiled and shook her head, allowing her face to show her pain now that he was gone. She'd known that he even suspected that she was in this amount of pain he'd have never left, and she wouldn't allow herself to keep him from the job. She was a big girl, and she could handle this...even if it was broken or fractured. Though the thought of waiting until getting to the flat to take the hardcore pain meds since they'd probably knock her out cold was daunting, especially since she felt a little woozy. The doctors had said it was a miracle she didn't have a concussion, but she wasn't out of the woods just yet.
Chloe froze, unable to believe it, turning her body rapidly in her seat, eyes widening in shock as her green gaze fell upon someone she'd convinced herself that she'd never see again. "Ben."
Benjamin Becker stood in front of her, eyes narrowing slightly, an odd look on his face. "What did you call me?"
Realizing how insane she must seem acting so familiarly with him, Chloe looked down and took a deep breath, trying to calm herself, before looking up at him. "I'm sorry, I just barely escaped having a concussion, my mind isn't all here." Her heart was racing a million miles per minute as she gazed up at him. "Can I help you?"
This wasn't her Ben.
She needed to remember that.
"I-," he cleared his throat and assumed a very military stance, obviously seeming somewhat uncomfortable. "It was my vehicle that ran into yours. I wanted to make sure that you were fine."
Her breath was knocked out of her lungs at the uncanny circumstance. "From behind or the side?"
"The side." He replied, clearing his throat once more before reaching out his hand to her. "I'm Hilary, Hilary Becker."
His name had changed to Hilary?
No wonder she couldn't find him in any of her searches!
Like Claudia he'd been born as someone else!
But at least...at least he'd been born.
And was still a Becker at least.
Thanking whoever may be listening for his existence, Chloe gazed at that familiar hand before slipping her uninjured one into his, closing her eyes against the tears that sprung in her eyes. "I'm Chloe."
"Chloe." His voice took an odd dip, their hands still connected. "Were you hurt badly?"
She took in a deep breath and slowly slipped her hand from his, using it to wipe at the two rebellious tears that skidded down her paled cheeks, before her gaze rose to his worried face. "No, just a little shaken up that's all."
"Miss Sullivan-Cutter?" The nurse appeared. "The doctor will see you now."
"Sullivan-Cutter?" He whispered with a small frown.
"Yes, my last name."
Or it was in this timeline...she was still trying to get used to it herself.
She stood, giving him a sad smile, telling herself not to cry.
She could do this.
"I have to go now." Chloe whispered, voice thick. "It was nice meeting you, Hilary Becker."
He looked up at her, silent, face disturbed though she couldn't understand why.
She lowered her gaze and moved passed him towards where the nurse was waiting. "Goodbye."
The blonde followed the older woman, never looking back, tears silently falling down her cheeks.
By the time Stephen finally arrived and let them know what had happened the team had already interviewed Valerie Irwin, the Deputy Park Manager, who informed Jenny that one of the guests who'd been out running had stumbled upon the body and called the police. The only one who knew exactly what had happened was the Managing Director, Peter Campbell (who was, unofficially, one of the largest arsewipes Nick had ever had the misfortune of ever meeting). Jenny had informed Valerie that she wasn't to tell anyone of this and had then interviewed the man who'd found the body, who'd been given a hospitality suite.
Apparently finding a dead, mauled body warranted an upgrade in your housing.
The Managing Director wouldn't even consider closing down the park and evacuating it since this was apparently 'peak season' and his concern was more geared towards the money they'd lose and not on the fact that everyone at Blue Sky Park could be in immense danger.
Nick really wanted to kill him.
Jenny had managed to get the little arse-wipe to agree to closing down the paint ball section, which was where the killing had occurred, while leaving the rest of the park open. It was a monumentally terrible idea considering this animal, prehistoric or not, was definitely going to kill again given it had already discovered that this was an ample hunting ground.
Nick wanted to hope they were lucky...that the noise would keep the predator away...but he wasn't feeling optimistic at all today, and he felt much less so after Stephen arrived, cut and bruised, and told them about the accident and having to leave Chloe at the hospital waiting for some x-ray results.
With Stephen out searching for prints, Nick called his daughter.
"Yes Nick?" She answered, still varying from calling him Nick, Cutter, or dad.
"Are you alright?" He asked, wanting to know immediately how serious the injury was.
"I've only badly sprained my wrist, it isn't broken, but I'm not supposed to be doing any heavy lifting for a while." She replied, voice cheerful if not slightly pained. "The doctor's given me these pain meds but says they'll leave me drowsy and so I shouldn't take them if I'm going to drive or operate heavy machinery. There goes my daily routine."
His lips quirked at her attempt for humor. "Should I call and tell one of the ARC people to come and pick you up? Take you to the flat so you can pass out there all heavily drugged and medicated?"
She laughed softly. "Don't worry dad! I'm-." She then paused and gasped. "What are you still doing here?"
Nick frowned. "Chloe?"
A male voice he didn't recognize murmured something he couldn't understand.
"You didn't have to do that!" Chloe's voice was shaky, filled with shock and something else. "I didn't expect-I-."
"Chloe what's wrong?" Nick frowned deeper, not liking this.
"Dad, I'll call you later. My, uh, ride, is here. Love you, and take care." She then promptly hung up on him.
Nick was about to call her back and demand to know who exactly was there with her, when Stephen raised him on the radio.
Putting away his phone, Nick tried concentrating on the job once more as he pulled out his walkie-talkie and brought it to his lips. "Stephen."
"I picked up a trail near an old farm." Stephen declared. "It's about a mile west of the paint balling area."
"We'll meet you there." Nick declared before turning to Connor and Abby. "Abby, let's go. Connor, keep an eye out. If you see anything suspicious, call me."
"Hang on." Connor frowned. "What am I supposed to do if I do see something?" He raised his walkie-talkie. "Talk it to death?"
Nick hesitated before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a set of keys, passing them to the younger male. "Here are the keys to the gun cases. Only as a last resort. You got that?"
"Loud and clear." Connor nodded.
Nick motioned with his head to Abby and she nodded, the two of them heading off towards the woods of the paint balling area, heading towards Stephen's current location. They ran, keeping an eye on their surroundings, and making sure that they weren't being chased.
As they were nearing Nick stopped and pulled out his radio. "Stephen, did you see anything?"
"Fresh tracks." His voice crackled on the walkie-talkie. "I think it's doubled back on us."
"What?" Nick frowned darkly. "You mean it's headed back towards the park?"
"Looks that way." Stephen replied.
Nick turned to Abby, who was looking at him with worry in her blue eyes.
"You really didn't have to do this." Chloe said for what felt like the millionth time as she sat in Hilary Becker's powerful black truck, still unable to believe that he'd waited for her to get through with the doctor, had gone with her to get the medicines prescribed, and had insisted that it was the least he could do to drop her home to her flat. This was unreal, like a dream, and she'd pinched herself subtly a couple of times just to make sure that it wasn't. And yet it wasn't, here she was, next to him, and he smelt just like her Ben.
What sort of freak was she? She was smelling him. Not obviously of course, but she took in a deep breath and could smell his natural, masculine scent mixing with the minty freshness of the car-freshener. If she just closed her eyes she could trick her mind into thinking things were back to the right timeline and she was with Ben, but there be monsters...and if she deluded herself they'd eat her up and spit her heart out when they were finished with her.
This wasn't the right timeline, this was the new one.
This wasn't her Ben.
"Please, don't mention it again." He said softly, eyes on the road, expression blank. "I want to do this."
"Thanks." She whispered.
He cleared his throat, sending her a sideways glance before returning his attention to the road. "So, your accent...you are American?"
"Yes and no." She replied, wondering exactly how much she could tell...how much she should. "I was born in America and raised there by my adopted parents, but my biological parents are British. My father is actually one of the reasons why I'm here living in jolly old England."
Ben...Hilary...he sent her a surprised look. "Your father is English?"
"And he's lost all hope of me picking up the accent." She declared with a nod, the pain meds having her woozy and probably making her a little more talkative than she normally would be. "He didn't know about me, my mother adopted me out without even telling him she was pregnant." She paused for a moment, figuring out her story in her mind. "I came to London unexpectedly and we...met quite coincidentally. I was in some trouble and he saved me. We found out later that we were related."
"That's quite the story." He declared, seeming genuinely fascinated. "And your mother? Was she still with him?"
"She was...dead to him...at the time." Chloe's lips twisted at the irony of that statement. "They still don't get along." Her gaze then slid to him. "And your parents?"
Her Ben's father had died in an accident a little before his birth, his mother had remarried a nice man who'd raised him as his own.
"My parents are still together." Ben/Hilary declared with a smile. "They were childhood sweathearts and they're still going strong."
Chloe was fascinated by the change in this timeline. "He's the one who named you Hilary."
He turned to her surprised before nodding. "How did you know?"
"A lucky guess." She whispered.
He eyed her before returning his attention to the road. "My mother and he fought over my name the whole pregnancy. She wanted my first name to be Benjamin after her father, and dad wanted it to be Hilary after his father. In the end he won and Benjamin became my second name."
"You seem more of a Ben to me." Chloe leaned her head against the headrest and smiled at him, the meds leaving her slightly groggy and high...she hadn't felt this at peace for a very long time.
He sent her a sideways look, lips curved slightly. "I feel more like a Ben too sometimes."
Chloe looked away, feeling on very dangerous ground, before suddenly she frowned as she eyed the interior of the truck. "Wait a moment. A hummer rammed into us. I remember that because it hit us from my side and my last thoughts were 'that's a horrible shade of red'." She then gasped as she realized that she'd basically just insulted his car. "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to-I-maybe I should shut up right about now. Or, well, I could blame everyone on the pain meds you insisted I take since I wouldn't be driving. They do make you drowsy you know, and unable to think clearly."
His lips twitched and his hazel eyes slid towards her for a second before he chuckled, shaking his head. "I had a mate lend me his car. He's a mechanic and so he drove my hummer back to his garage while I took his truck out with the express orders not to even scratch his beauty."
"It is beautiful." Chloe leaned her head against the glass, taking in a deep breath, feeling so relaxed thanks to the medication kicking in.
"You know, I live close to here. Only a couple of streets down actually." He declared in an odd way, clearing his throat. "I usually come through this neighborhood everyday jogging."
"Really?" She asked, shocked, having never seen him.
Then again she'd been either rushing to get to work in the mornings or dead tired and arriving home with Stephen at all sorts of irregular hours of the night just wanting to collapse in bed and sleep forever. Ben could have jogged right by her and she never would have noticed.
"Yeah." He nodded, parking outside her flat. "Have you called anyone to come and keep you company? Considering you just barely escaped having a concussion you should call a girlfriend or-."
"My boyfriend knows." She replied, purposely saying boyfriend and not Stephen, needing to remind herself that she had one, a very good one, and that it was not a good idea to reach over and hug Ben...Hilary...Ben. He'd always be Ben for her no matter what name he had in this alternate timeline. But then again it wasn't healthy to associate him with her Ben, was it?
Suddenly she could understand her father and his issue with Jenny Lewis so much better.
"Boyfriend." Ben's gaze lowered and he gulped, shaking his head. "Right."
"Right." She echoed, mind screaming for her to thank him, say goodbye, and rush to her flat...heart begging her to stay and never leave.
"If your...boyfriend...knows you're hurt then where is he? Why wasn't he there to pick you up from the hospital?" Ben surprised her by acting very much out of character as he turned towards her, eyes slightly narrowed. "You could have been seriously hurt. I don't care what the doctor said, you say you lost consciousness until the hospital, you could very well have a concussion, even if it's a minor one. Your boyfriend should have been there with you."
"He was there in the accident with me..." Chloe frowned, eyeing Ben in confusion. "But you should know that, you...you ran into us. You should know he was in the truck with me...you would have seen him when we and the people from the car who rammed us from behind got out."
"Right." Ben suddenly looked away. "You're right. It must have slipped my mind."
Chloe felt a trickle of confused suspicion...but why in the world would Ben lie about being the one who ran into her? It made no sense. He didn't know her in this timeline. He would have no reason to do such a thing.
"Where, uh, is he then?" Ben asked, staring at the steering wheel.
"Work." She replied, intrigue blossoming inside of her. "I sent him off. We work together and there was an emergency and he wouldn't leave until I assured him I was fine. Which I am."
"Right." Ben nodded, gaze still on the steering wheel. "If you don't mind, I'll wait here until you enter your flat safe and sound."
"Thank you." She whispered, realizing this could be the last time she ever saw him. "You've gone out of your way to help me without even knowing me...people don't do that anymore."
For some reason a look of guilt crossed his face as he stared harder at the steering wheel. "My pleasure."
Chloe couldn't stop herself, didn't really want to as she leaned over and pressed a goodbye kiss to his cheek, taking in a last whiff of his scent as she pulled away. "Goodbye."
As he turned towards her she slipped out of the truck and hurried up the steps to her flat, unlocking the door and hurrying inside, locking it as she rested her back against the wood before sliding down to the ground, not even noticing Baby as the dinosaur hurried towards her happily.
"I know he's alive and okay now." She whispered to herself, closing her eyes tightly as she leaned her head back hard on the door. "That's enough. It's enough. It is."
Baby didn't seem to believe her. She settled in the blonde's lap, head resting against Chloe's knee, and let the human pet her as she cried.
Things had not gone any smoother for the team. There'd been a false alarm that'd culminated in Connor shooting at Peter (the arsewipe) in full mascot costume glory, and that had caused somewhat of a panic amongst the families in the park. Then again, the sight of Connor with a gun of any size (or any thing that could be used a weapon for that matter) struck fear into the hearts of his teammates so Cutter could somewhat understand their panic.
Peter had wanted to call the police but Jenny had done her bullying magic once more (for the first time Nick was quite happy to see her intimidate someone) and Peter had agreed to telling the public that it was a silly stunt that had gone wrong, and Jenny had agreed to buy him a new costume...since Connor's bullet had shot the top of the lion costume's head...just barely missing the human beneath.
On a more progressive note, Jenny had been able to find out that the farm Stephen had mentioned when he'd raised them earlier on the radio belonged to a man called West who used to import exotic animals yet had lost his license three years earlier for illegally bringing in lion cubs for a private zoo. All the clues pointed to this being just an 'ordinary' big cat situation as Connor had put it, but Nick's gut told him otherwise, and it continued to do as as he'd headed towards the farm...with Jenny declaring she'd meet him there.
Obviously she didn't trust him with the public, which Nick thought was unfair considering Connor was the one who'd gone and shot the arsewipe mascot and not him.
The West Farm in itself had been interesting in a horror-movieesque way. The place looked rundown, abandoned, and there'd been a locked section in the barn with something vicious and snarling. He'd tried to bullshit his way into getting Mr West to open up the barn but it'd taken Jenny's long eyelashes and amazing ability to flirt with fat, unattractive and smelly men to get that door open, proving that there was nothing more than very vicious, tied up dogs whom Mr West was using as guard dogs.
With that lead dried up they returned to the only true one they had, the large forest where the murder had occurred.
"You're smashed." Stephen chuckled, amused, into his mobile as he stood a little distance away from them. "What's the dosage they have you on?"
Abby and Connor shared amused looks.
Jenny eyed Nick. "How are you dealing with this?"
"Just peachy." He replied to her, getting the things ready.
"Yeah love, we'll be careful." Stephen ended the call and joined them. "The doctor said it's just a sprain. She's home, high as a kite on her pain meds, and watching old lassie reruns with Baby."
"And then she doesn't understand why that poor thing is so confused and thinks its a puppy." Connor shook his head.
Abby grinned in amusement.
Nick began passing out gear to his team.
"What are these?" Abby wanted to know, eyeing the headgear.
"They're heat sensitive cameras." He replied. "The creature knows this territory well. It's made a kill here and I think it's gonna come back. Now most likely it's nocturnal, so it's sense are going to be sharper than ours. I shouldn't have to this but be careful." He gazed at his crew, feeling guilty for the relief that Chloe was injured and would have to sit this one out. "Any questions?"
Connor raised his hand. "Can I have a gun?"
Nick snorted. "Take a wild guess."
Connor pouted. "No?"
"Good guess." The blonde praised as he passed out guns to Abby and Stephen. "And if you're worried, stay close to Abby."
Stephen and Abby shared amused grins.
With the sun setting, the wood darkening, they took off in different directions, Connor with Abby, and Stephen and Nick on their on. Stephen soon phoned in to say that he'd met up with Valerie Irwin, the Deputy Park Manager, whose van had given out in the middle of the forest as she'd been heading home, and so he'd have to leave the search for now to drive her safely to her place before returning in the truck he'd borrowed from the ARC since his own had been damaged pretty badly in the accident. That left Cutter without his best tracker but he agreed fully, the safety of the civilians extremely important.
Of course, that ended up fortunate considering that it was thanks to that that Stephen managed to hear a scream for help and stumble upon the dead body of Peter Campbell, now deceased, his killer a creature too shadowed and fast to make out in the darkness of the night. If only Valerie hadn't been as stupid as to chase after Stephen, fearing for her safety, he would have probably been able to get the creature...but it escaped.
Thankfully though there's been a train spotter taking pictures, quite well hidden, and had managed to take pictures of the attack and attacker...pictures Jenny confiscated and managed to bribe the photographer into silence by massive flirtation and the promise of VIP access to the train deport of his choice.
Some men's prices were just too low for Cutter's taste.
But considering it got them the pictures...and the identity of their creature...he really shouldn't complain, should he?
"A smilodon? You mean a sabre-tooth?" Chloe asked in surprise as she accepted the cup of tea Stephen passed her before sitting down next to her. "Isn't that the same creature my mother used as an excuse to kidnap me that time?"
"Yes, it was. They're fast, elegant, and a real natural born killer." Stephen frowned, nodding. "And this time it isn't a hoax. It's out there, killing people, and I let it escape."
"It's not your fault, Stephen." Chloe sighed, turning in the sofa to eye him better. "You did what you had to do. And if that woman had stayed in the damned truck like you told her to then you would have gotten it. I know you would have."
He turned his gaze on her before sighing. "We're the good guys, right?"
She frowned at the unexpected question. "What do you mean?"
"It's just, sometimes, I just wonder sometimes if we shouldn't be doing what we're doing." Stephen admitted, holding his own cup of tea, eye on the liquid. "These anomalies have happened in the past and I don't believe people have messed with them then. What if...I don't know...what if we aren't supposed to mess with them? To cover things up? People are getting hurt because they don't know what's happening."
She could understand the reasoning, could see both sides of the issue...believing as well that people should know...but knowing that mass hysteria was never a good thing.
Unable to answer, the blonde sipped her tea, feeling tired as the pain meds she'd just taken began to kick in. She only managed to finish her tea and place it on the coffee table before resting her head against Stephen's shoulder, eyelids heavy.
"Come on now Sleeping Beauty." He finished his tea in a quick gulp and put down his cup, turning and gathering her in his arms as he stood. "Time to take my junkie girlfriend to bed."
"Shut up, I'm not a junkie." She mumbled, cradling her injured arm to her chest as he moved them towards the bedroom, Baby trailing behind. "And I'm going to work tomorrow, that was my last drowsy medicine and you couldn't keep me away from a sabre-tooth even if you tried. They've always fascinated me. Prehistoric cats."
"That was no kitty babe." Stephen lowered her onto the bed and then bent down to pick up Baby, lifting the small dinosaur onto her own bed, but not before pressing a kiss to her head. "Night you."
Baby settled down on her large cushion, obviously blissful.
Chloe smiled sleepily at the loving relationship those two had. "If I wake up and you've gone without me, I'm withholding sex from you, buddy."
"Wow, this is serious." He chuckled, stripping down to his boxers. "Maybe I should try and get some now then."
She chuckled but it turned into a yawn.
Stephen slipped into bed and turned off the lights. "Night."
She hesitated, wondering whether she should tell him about Ben.
But why do so?
It wasn't as if she'd ever see him again...and to bring Ben up...she'd finally gotten into a good, steady relationship with Stephen. She knew Stephen had a complex where Ben was concerned and she couldn't see mentioning him do any good.
So she just closed her eyes, whispered a good night, and let the medication lull her to sleep.
Stephen figured Chloe was going to drag on the 'no sex' punishment as long as she could take the arrangement herself, and considering he knew for a fact how much she loved it he felt confident that although she'd be pissed that he'd left her sleeping at home and hadn't awoken her...that things would sort themselves out quickly between them once this was over. He didn't mind risking her wrath as long as she was safe, and considering she was injured and on meds he thought it was foolish of her to want to be in the field considering they had an extremely dangers smilodon on the loose. Thankfully, this was something Cutter agreed with him on, so he knew that if Chloe should take this horribly, he'd have her father to back him up.
"There." He pointed at a point on the map he, Cutter and Abby had been going over. "If we lay a second trap there we'll have got the whole area covered."
"Okay." Nick nodded, trusting his judgment as always. "Take Connor with you."
The sound of a car door slamming caused them to turn to see Valerie descending from her vehicle, heading towards them.
"Hey." Stephen smiled. "You got it fixed."
"What?" She asked, confused as she cam towards them.
He hesitated for a second. "The van."
She looked behind her at her vehicle before looking at him once more. "It seems to be okay now." She placed her hands on her hips. "What are you doing here?"
"We're just working out where to lay traps." Cutter declared, and when he noticed her disturbed look his continued quickly. "No, don't worry, we'll leave the place looking as good as new."
"Surely you should be looking by the railway." She replied.
"No," Cutter shook his head. "It won't stay there. Too many people."
She looked at them before turning and heading hurriedly back towards her car.
Stephen frowned. "Whoa. Whoa. Valerie. Valerie." He hurried after her. "What's wrong?"
"This shouldn't be happening. None of it." She replied, tears in her eyes before she hurried passed him to her van and slid inside, slamming the door and driving away.
Stephen turned toward Cutter.
Cutter sighed. "Let her go."
Stephen nodded and did as told, heading back towards his team.
"She's been through quite a lot." Cutter added.
Just then Stephen got a message on his mobile, and he pulled it out, smirking when he saw Chloe's number and the two words written in capitals across his screen: YOU ASSHOLE!
Slipping the phone into his pocket, he grinned.
He was in so much trouble.
It'd taken Helen a little while but she'd finally found where Stephen and Chloe were...and she wasn't ashamed to admit how utterly shocked she was at the fact that they not only were in a romantic and sexual relationship, but that they lived together. It was obviously one of those many little differences that had been quite mind-boggling for her since she'd come back to the present and she wondered what exactly had been done to change the timeline the way it had. She also wondered if Chloe had any memory of the timeline change.
After extensive research of Nick's behavior, especially towards that damned Claudia Brown (or Jenny Lewis as she was called now) Helen had realized that her husband did remember the events of the past timeline, but considering how at ease her daughter seemed to be in this relationship with Stephen Helen had to wonder. Hadn't Chloe been in love with some other boy?
Helen had to admit she was somewhat peeved by this change as part of her plans had been to seduce poor, lonely Stephen into joining her side and causing grief to the team, but with this change in circumstances she would have to alter her plan somewhat. Still though, Stephen was the weakest link, and Helen was sure that he was the one she could use.
But how to get to him?
So deep in her thoughts she nearly missed the powerful looking black truck stopping in front of Chloe and Stephen's flat, an extremely handsome young man she didn't recognize gazing up at the flat with a mixture of feelings. He seemed to be arguing with himself, looking up at the door and then down at the steering wheel and back.
His obvious struggle amused and intrigued her, as she watched him reach into his pocket and pull out a wallet, which he opened and in turn pulled a folded picture from its depths, unfolding it and staring at it as his emotions deepened on his face.
She wondered what was in the picture.
Finally he put the picture and wallet away, and with a deep sigh he got out of the truck and headed up the small flight of steps to the door, hesitating only a second before knocking.
Helen drew a little closer yet kept hidden as she watched.
The door opened and Chloe appeared, eyes wide, hair messy, still in her pajamas. "Hey."
"Hey." He smiled, looking somewhat embarrassed and awkward but utterly pleased to see her. "I just wanted to pop by on my way to work and make sure that you were okay."
Helen was shocked to see the profound emotion on her daughter's face. It reminded her of the way she herself had gazed at Nick once upon a very long time ago.
"I'm fine, thanks. You didn't have to go out of your way like this. That's...so very sweet." Chloe's gaze lowered, as if frightened to look him in the face. "But you don't have to worry, my...my boyfriend has been taking care of me."
Helen noted the way the male's face fell at that one word.
She also noted the way Chloe said that word like a shield, was obviously putting up a barrier between them...though it wasn't out of disinterest that was obvious. Most probably the girl was doing it because she was very much interested in this boy and wanted to remind herself and him that she had a boyfriend.
She was definitely Nick Cutter's daughter.
"I'm glad." The man declared, taking in a deep breath. "I should get to work."
Chloe looked up at him, almost as if wanting to ask him to stay, before she lowered her gaze and nodded, smile anything but happy. "You probably should."
He sighed, lowering his gaze, fists clenched at his side as he turned and left without a goodbye.
Chloe looked up at watched him as he entered the black truck and pulled out onto the street, joining the lax traffic. "Oh Ben..." she whispered to herself, voice breaking, tear forming in her eyes. "Why are you making this so hard for me?"
And with that she closed the door.
Helen's eyes widened as she turned to see the truck turn the corner and disappear from sight.
Was this was the boy Chloe had loved in the original timeline?
A cunning smile tilted Helen's lips.
Things had just gotten more interesting.
Stephen might be in trouble but Nick had to say he was extremely glad that the other man had left Chloe at home. Not only had Nick been attacked by the smilodon and barely got away with his life, but while digging a hole to trap the creature they'd disappeared the savaged remains of yet another victim. He thought about what might have happened had Chloe been there with him, injured, medicated...and the thought sickened him somewhat...even more than the body that was still very much buried, only it's hand sticking out through the side of the wet mud in the deep whole they'd been making when the smilodon had attacked.
And Leek's arrival didn't help much either.
Nick didn't like the little man. He couldn't like anyone who was James Lester's little bitch like Leeks was.
"How long's he been there?" Abby called from up above, bending down to get a better look at him.
"I don't know, about a week, a month." Nick guessed, looking up at her, Connor, Stephen and Leeks.
"If the body's been there that long then the anomaly could've formed before the detector came online." Connor grinned, obviously pleased with this. "That would mean there's nothing wrong with my invention."
"There's a problem with all of this." Stephen frowned, arms folded over his chest. "The sabre-tooth may well have killed the guy but it sure as hell didn't dig a trench 10 feet deep and bury his body."
"Stephen's right." Abby agreed. "Someone knows and has been protecting it."
"West." Leeks nodded.
"What?" Nick turned to him in confusion. "What?"
"Jenny needed someone to pin an escaped lion story onto and she said this man West fitted the bill." Leeks explained. "She wanted to create a cover story for the press." He sighed. "She left half an hour ago."
Stephen turned to Nick as he started heading towards his truck. "You better stay here in case he comes back."
Nick turned to the others. "Go with him, I'll be fine."
Connor and Abby raced after Stephen.
Leeks turned to him. "I'll go and inform Lester of the new developments." Whipping out his phone, he began walking back towards his car.
Nick sighed, shook his head, and returned his attention towards the hand sticking out towards him. "It's just you and me then, eh?"
In this universe Clark wasn't flying around saving the world while wearing tight tights but instead was working on his parent's farm married to Lana Lang. There was an article about him having survived some explosion involving some rare and never before known of gold colored meteor rocks and that said everything to Chloe about how his happy, normal life with Lana had come about. Lois Lane, on the other hand, hopped from one temp job to the other. She was also, according to her facebook page (which should really have a more secure setting), in a relationship with some guy Chloe hadn't ever heard of, and didn't have Lucy listed as her sister. But that didn't exactly mean Lucy didn't exist in this timeline. Lois hadn't had Lucy listed as her sister in the other timeline either, mostly because of their very poor relationship.
Chloe had read up on her very own disappearance in this timeline, which apparently happened right after her father's funeral. Apparently according to the police report her mother declared that Chloe had disappeared from her bathroom in what seemed like a matter of seconds.
In this timeline Gabriel Sullivan was dead, and yet Moira Sullivan was alive and quite well.
Bringing her hand to her mouth, Chloe closed her eyes, tears falling down her pale cheeks.
Apparently James must have given her a coverup in this timeline as well, because Chloe's 'body' had been found two years later, the cause of death had been ruled suicide. There'd even been a note which she supposed she herself had written, in which she'd apparently asked her mother to forgive her for this cowardice on her part.
Hearing her phone ring, she looked down at the caller I.D., STEPHEN flashing on the screen.
Wiping at her eyes and clearing her throat, she answered. "Hello?"
"I know you're mad...but just pretend you're not for now." Stephen sighed, voice heavy.
She frowned, worried. "Are you okay? What happened?"
"Remember I told you about the Deputy Manager, Valerie?" He asked, seeming so tired.
"Yeah." She nodded, pulling a strand behind her ear.
"Turns out the anomaly that brought the smilodon here happened years ago, and she found a sabre-tooth cub in her garage one day." He replied. "She and her boyfriend raised it until it was an adult, during which it killed her boyfriend and to protect the cat she buried his remains."
Chloe gasped, bringing a hand to her lips.
"She loved it, thought we'd created it in some sort of genetic experiment and that we were back for it." Stephen's voice was so thick. "She's dead, Chloe. During the whole mess it attacked and killed her."
"Oh my god." Chloe whispered, horrified.
"It should never have happened. We could've saved her." Stephen's voice was filled with emotion. "How many more Valeries are there gonna be before we start telling people what's going on?"
"I'm sorry Stephen." She whispered, needing him to know she was there for him.
"And you know what makes this even more screwed up?" Stephen asked. "Apparently, according to Leeks the sabre-tooth died for no reason while it was being transported to the ARC and they had its body burnt because of the risk of diseases the carcass might have." He laughed, and it was a haggard sound. "We couldn't even save the creature, Chloe. We're not saving anyone. What good are we?"
"Stephen..." She whispered. "Come home."
"Right, that is it." Connor declared, eyeing his Anomaly Detector. "This machine is officially double-triple-checked."
Nick gazed at the boy, and then up around them as the lights dimmed, a red light flashing as an alarm began beeping.
"Demonstrations prove nothing, Connor." Jenny declared as she came towards them.
"It's not a demonstration." Connor whispered before turning to them, excitement on his face, pointing to the screen. "That's a real anomaly. Yes! It's working! It's actually working!"
Nick had to smirk at the excitement in the lad.
Jenny paused, having no sarcastic remarks now.
"All right." Nick straightened. "What are we doing standing around here for?"
"That's a good point." Connor grinned, hurrying to his side.
"Let's go." Nick started towards the doors.
Connor suddenly stopped, wincing. "Oh, no, I can't. I've got a date with Caroline. Remember I told you about her? The hot chick that picked me up at the video place?"
"A hot chick picked you up?" Jenny raised an eyebrow.
Connor pouted at her. "It could happen you know."
Nick paused at the door. "Is she pretty?"
Connor nodded. "Yeah."
Nick smirked. "Bummer." And with that he walked out of the door.
With a groan, Connor hurried after him.
In a previously agreed on, isolated location, she walked towards the car parked and slid into the passenger's seat, giving the unappealing man in the driver's seat a raised eyebrow.
He pulled out an envelope filled with money and passed it over to her. "Your payment."
She slid the money out and counted the bills.
"I think you'll find it's all there." He assured her.
She put the money back into the envelope. "It's not enough."
He raised an eyebrow. "It's what we agreed."
"You haven't got that little creep Connor trying to put his tongue in your mouth." Caroline replied, disgust obvious on her face.
"Sometimes you have to take one for the team." He replied, obviously amused. "But, for what it's worth, you have my sympathy."
Realizing she wouldn't be getting more for this job, Caroline sighed. "He's okay, I suppose."
"Stay close to him and find out anything you can." Her employer ordered.
"What's this all about anyway?" She asked, intrigued, then off her look she snorted. "None of my business. I get it." Opening the door she slid out and turned towards him. "I'll be in touch."
Oliver Leeks watched her as she closed the door and walked away, a cunning smile on his face.
Stephen stepped out of his truck when she emerged from the shadows. "What do you want?"
"Is that how you talk to your future mother in law?" Helen's lips twitched in a smirk, eyes intent on him.
"Go to hell." He sneered at her, locking his truck and heading towards the flat.
"Does the name Ben mean anything to you?"
He stopped, feeling sick as he turned to face her. "What games are you playing, Helen?"
"He's found her you know." Helen smirked the words he'd prayed he'd never hear. "And even though she's fighting to keep him out of her life it's obvious she still cares for him." She tilted her head slightly. "Let's be brutally honest. She loves him. Not you."
Stephen's eyes narrowed as he snarled and took a couple of menacing steps towards her. "Shut up!"
"Hurts, doesn't it? Knowing that the one you love is in love with another?" She asked, remembering the kiss between Nick and Claudia Brown...remembering watching his pathetic attempt outside of Jenny's house. "And I doubt Nick's too happy about you screwing his wife and then his daughter. I'm sure, should he find out Ben's found her again and is obviously interested in her..."
She let the rest hang.
Stephen's hands tightened into fists, remembering the conversation he'd overheard between Cutter and Chloe.
"You know better than I that Nick means well, but sometimes he's very wrong." Helen declared, taking a step towards him. "He's wrong in assuming this other boy is better for her than you are, and he's wrong with how he's going about dealing with the anomalies and the creature incursions. You know that."
Stephen narrowed his eyes on her. "What do you want, Helen?"
She just smiled and turned, disappearing back into the shadows.