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?
Something was up with Stephen. Chloe wasn't sure what exactly it was since he didn't seem mad at her or at anyone in general, but he was obviously preoccupied, his mind constantly somewhere else. It wasn't that he was so distracted that his work or their home life was suffering, that wasn't the case at all, but Chloe prided herself in knowing her boyfriend. Sure, she was still newish when it came to having an intimate relationship with Stephen, but she'd known him extremely well in the original timeline, had been very close, and knew when something was on his mind. It was the way he'd sometimes zone out while looking out of the window, or while gazing at her...there was a flash of darkness before it was gone and he was back to the Stephen everyone knew and loved.
She doubted anyone else was picking up on his oddness, but they didn't know him as well as she did. Sure, her father had known Stephen for many more years than she had, but she knew things about Stephen only a lover ever could...and she knew that something was seriously bothering him. It worried her. She wished he would confide in her and tell her what was wrong but she respected his need for space and privacy, and it wasn't as if she didn't have some secrets of her own.
Thankfully, Abby's constant complaining about Connor's pseudo-girlfriend, Caroline, always being around and being a pain in the 'arse' was a good distraction and kept Chloe from getting paranoid.
That, and the anomalies, kept both her and Stephen from over-thinking their issues she supposed.
"The boy's name was Lucien Hope." Jenny declared as they gazed down at the uncovered manhole, an anomaly had opened and closed before anyone could get a reading on where it'd been exactly, and a boy had been reported missing in the same general region. "His friends said he seemed to be struggling with something."
"Did they see anything?" Nick asked, bending on his knees alongside Stephen, both staring into the dark abyss below.
"No." Jenny shook her head.
"Maybe he just lost his footing." Chloe mumbled, gazing at the basketball court across the street. The victim, Lucien, had been playing over there when he'd fumbled a ball and had come here to retrieve it.
"No, this lid's been lifted clean off." Stephen shook his head.
"Water pressure?" Jenny chanced a guess.
"Could be..." Nick narrowed his eyes at the opening. "But the rainfall's been below average for the month and floods don't happen for no reason."
"So that means the anomaly's under water." Chloe sighed as she turned to face them once more.
"I believe so." Her father nodded, turning to Jenny. "Where does this drain go?"
"Back to the canal." She replied.
Nick thought for a moment. "Seal it off and tell Abby and Connor to meet us at the other end."
"Okay." Jenny nodded, sludging away in the mud with her expensive heels, arms flung out for balance and yet still managing to somehow make it look classy.
Stephen stared into the darkness below. "You think he's still alive?"
"I don't know." Nick replied truthfully. "But I'm not giving up on him until I know for sure."
Chloe groaned. "We're going down there, aren't we?"
"Come on," Stephen looked up at her and grinned. "It'll be fun."
"Fun? Fun?" She glared at him. "Stephen, you know I'm claustrophobic!"
He frowned. "You're claustrophobic? Since when?"
She made a face at him. "I don't know?" She brought her hands to her hips, voice higher in pitch and sarcasm. "Since Deputy Gary Watts kidnapped and buried me alive in a coffin under the windmill in Chandler's Field?"
"What?" Nick snapped, looking up at her.
"Why haven't you ever told me this?" Stephen frowned darker, standing.
To be honest, Chloe was shocked herself.
Why hadn't she told Stephen about that?
She'd told Ben...
Chloe looked away, shaking her head.
She wasn't going to do that.
She needed to forget about Ben and put him behind her for good.
Then again, now that she thought about it, this version of her had never lived in Smallville and thus had never been buried alive. This version of her was probably not claustrophobic at all, and that would explain her lack of story telling or previous claustrophobic instances. There was just so much confusion due to this timeline being so different from the original one.
"Its not important." Chloe took in a deep breath, shaking her head. "That kid might be still alive down there and hurt, and we need to get him to safety."
Stephen stared into her face before nodding. "We'll talk about this later."
"There's really nothing to talk about." She mumbled, yet the look he gave her before they grabbed their gear, flashlights on, and lowered themselves into the drainage system below was one of promise.
Chloe tried concentrating on her job, tried keeping calm, but sometimes flashes of her in the coffin caused her to shiver and jump at every little shadow. She scolded herself and kept up with Nick and Stephen, holding onto her flashlight tightly, taking solace in that beam of light.
The passageways were like arching catacombs, all dark and murky and having seen better days.
Suddenly a whale-like song sounded in the distance, causing the three to stop in their tracks.
The sound was hauntingly beautiful.
"What the hell is that?" Stephen whispered, shining his light in the general direction of the sound. "Lucien?"
The whale-like singing returned.
"Stephen, it's not human." Nick informed, listening to the sound intently.
Something crashed in the distance.
"Lucien!" Stephen yelled as he hurried after the sound.
Nick and Chloe hurried after him, following Stephen towards where the brick hallways led to a water-filled area which no doubt traced back to the canal just in time to hear splashing as something dove into the murky depths and out of sight.
"Come on," Nick turned to them. "They can only get out into the canal."
They hurried back the way they'd come from, never noticing the man hiding in the shadows, watching them.
Leading the trio as they raced unto the boat, Nick ignored Connor and Abby, who were arguing as per usual while loading things into the boats, and gazed at the canal, knowing he wouldn't be able to see anything but that it was no doubt there.
"Is there any way out of this canal?" He asked, turning to Abby urgently.
She shook her head, wearing a life jacket as were Connor and Jenny. "The locks have been closed. It's completely sealed."
"Then it's still in here." He replied breathlessly, his suspicions confirmed.
"What is?" Connor asked.
"Not sure, but we have to find out fast." He replied, turning to look back at the water. "It's going to be dark in a few hours." He turned to Jenny. "Jenny, go in that boat with Abby and Connor. You see anything, call us." He turned to his daughter. "Stephen, Chloe, you're with me. Let's go."
He watched as his people got into their assigned boats, Stephen giving Chloe a hand as she stepped aboard.
They took off into the canal, searching, trying to find the anomaly or a sign of the creature, but the sun continued to lower in the horizon and the sky continued to grow darker with no sign of either thing they searched for.
By the time Stephen finally spoke, it'd been night for some awhile. "We've been searching for hours. We're never gonna see anything in this light."
"What's that over there?" Chloe asked.
"Where?" They turned to where she was huddled on the seat, hugging herself.
"There." She pointed.
Nick turned to their driver. "Can you get us a bit closer here?"
As the driver did as told Nick pulled out a hook and reached for the thing Chloe had noticed, Stephen's light shining on it revealing to them.
"It looks like skin." Stephen frowned as he gazed at the thing.
"Yeah, from a mammal." Nick agreed as he examined the specimen. "Looks like whatever it is just shrugged it off."
"Okay, that's nasty." Chloe declared, making no attempt to come survey her find.
"This is fascinating." Stephen mumbled. "What sort of mammal sheds it skin?"
Nick looked up at him.
That was a good question.
"Um, guys?" Chloe asked. "What's Jenny doing in the water? And are there supposed to be sharks here?"
"What?" Nick turned rapidly, following Chloe's gaze to find Jenny swimming desperately towards the boat, a fin in the water behind her, gaining speed. "Get us there! NOW!"
Their driver turned them and sped towards the creature and Jenny, Stephen grabbing his gun.
The fin continued to gain speed on the woman.
Nick's heart raced, pained him. "We have to go faster!"
"Swim!" Chloe yelled out at the woman who probably couldn't hear them over the terror she must be experiencing.
As they neared Nick reached out. "Come on Jenny, here. Quickly!"
"Cutter!" She cried out, grabbing his hand as the fin grew dangerously close.
Stephen opened fire on the creature with rapid precision, blood tinting the water red as Nick pulled Jenny into the safety of their boat.
"Good shot, Stephen!" Abby could be heard yelling from the other boat.
"Jenny, are you alright?" Chloe asked. "Were you hurt?"
The body of the creature floated on the surface of the water.
Stephen spoke into his headset. "Get the body to the ARC ASAP."
"Great shooting, baby." Chloe smiled up at him, wrapping her arms around Stephen as she pressed a kiss to his lips.
An arm went around her as he pecked her lips before turning to Jenny. "Are you okay?"
She shivered, in shock, and clung to Nick.
Had it been another situation Nick Cutter would have been in heaven right now, but as they made their way to the dock and started their way back to the ARC, he couldn't help but feel disturbed. Something wasn't right.
He continued to feel that even once they made it back, and the body of the creature was returned. Then again, maybe he couldn't feel right when Jenny was wrapped in a blanket, just sitting and staring at the body of the creature that'd nearly killed her as it was sustained in the air by its tail by a forklift truck.
The scientist sighed as he made his way to her, gaze going to the creature before returning to her. "How are you doing?
"Three months ago, my idea of a life and death issue was getting front row seats and London Fashion Week." She replied, unable to take her eyes off of the creature. "How do you think I'm doing?"
"You don't have to do this." Nick's heart hurt at the thought of not seeing her daily, but it'd hurt more to see her in danger. "You can quit."
She took in a deep breath. "I think I'll take my chances."
"Look Claudia..." he flinched when she reacted to that. "I'm so sorry. Jenny."
"You know what?" Jenny turned to him. "You saved my life. So, just for tonight, you can call me anything you like. But for the record, I really hate that name."
He nodded, unable to keep a small smile off of his face. "Okay." His smile though, it melted off of his face as he gazed back up at her. "Does your fiance, does he know what you are doing?"
"He knows I'm working for the Government, that's all." She took in a little breath. "Luckily, he's not very curious. Not about my work anyway."
He nodded once more, not sure what to say.
"So, what about you?" She asked curiously. "Do you have someone?"
"Erm...No." What a can of worms that question was! "I'm not particularly good at that. My wife, Chloe's mother, left me eight and a half years ago to travel through the anomalies and the next woman that I liked, she..." he hesitated, the wound still so very fresh. "She left." He nodded, clearing his throat. "Yeah, I don't seem to be a particularly attractive romantic proposition at the moment."
She giggled softly as she watched him.
He couldn't help but smile too although his heart was breaking. "And on that note, if you'll excuse me, I have a hot date with a dead shark."
He walked away to the look of a smile on her face, and that was all he could truly ask for, wasn't it?
Nick's autopsy of the creature had proved that it had a large, tooth-covered tongue that shot out of its body and wrapped around its victims to drag them back into its mouth. Her father was sure that this was the future evolution of sharks, and that was both exciting and terrifying because while once more an anomaly to the future was opened, the last time something from the future had crawled into the present things had been tricky. The only good thing was that an examination of its insides proved that this thing hadn't eaten Lucien Hope, but that also meant that there was either another shark, or another creature, still in the canal, and Stephen and Nick were differing on opinions as to what had to be done about it.
Nick believed that all evidence pointed to a marine mammal that shed its skin like a seal or a walrus.
To be honest, Chloe hadn't even realized that seals and walruses shed skin and that made her feel somewhat ignorant.
To be up to par with her colleagues she was really going to have to read up so much more than she was doing at the present.
Stephen believed the shark was to blame, and that put him against Nick on what they were up against and how to deal with it.
And Chloe was stuck in the middle of her father and lover.
It was a place she didn't quite like being in.
Stephen wanted to drag the canal, sure that whatever the thing was it had to be in there.
Nick disagreed, his point being that if it was a mammal it could leave the water so they should widen the search.
Surprisingly enough, Lester had favored Stephen's course of action, and had ordered the canal be searched once more in the morning. Only if nothing turned out was he apparently willing to consider widening the search.
And their problems weren't the only ones on her mind.
"In the fridge?" Chloe gasped, horrified, gaze going to where Baby was laying on Stephen's stomach as he rubbed the dinosaur's head, watching the television in bed. "How did he get there?"
"It's that witch I tell you." Abby hissed into the phone. "She locked him in the fridge, I know she did! Stupid Connor and his stupid girlfriend!"
"Is he alright? Rex I mean?" Chloe asked, going to the balcony and closing the french door behind her, not noticing a jogger in the distance on the street below. "Do you need anything? Can I help in any way?"
"He's fine." Abby replied with a sigh. "Thanks for offering, but I have everything under control."
"If you need anything just let me know." Chloe insisted.
"I will." Abby nodded. "I might need you to give me an alibi in case Connor is found dead tomorrow."
Chloe chuckled, understanding Abby's protective anger, if anyone had hurt Baby she'd be the same way. "Try not to commit double homicide tonight?"
"Double?" She asked curiously.
"Well, I doubt Caroline will get off free." Chloe replied as Stephen lowered a sleeping Baby on her bed and slipped out, shirtless and wearing his pajama pants low on his hips as he stalked her towards the balcony, opening the door and peeking his head out. She smiled at him, still speaking to Abby. "Are you sure you're not just jealous about her relationship with Connor?"
Abby sputtered. "T-that's ridiculous! This is Connor we're talking about here!"
Stephen grinned as he stepped around Chloe and wrapped his arms around her waist from behind, leaning his chin against her shoulder. "I think she's just pissed because the girl can cook and fight."
Abby growled. "Chloe, don't be telling Stephen what I tell you!"
"You told me that while the three of us were in the truck! I hardly told him anything!" Chloe defended, leaning back against Stephen, enjoying his body heat.
Abby paused. "Oh. Right. I apologize."
"Stephen..." Chloe gasped as Stephen began to nibble on her neck, his fingers slipping passed her slacks' waistband.
He chuckled, tasting her skin with his tongue, as he slid his hands completely underneath and pulled her back against his hard on.
Abby groaned. "Eww. Don't think I can't hear you. See you two perverts tomorrow, go jump each other in peace." With a chuckled she ended the conversation.
Stephen turned them around quickly, pushing her back against the balcony, gazing down at her. "How's your arm?"
"It's fine." Chloe smiled. "I've told you that it's only slightly sore now. I'm fine."
His hands on her hips, Stephen opened his mouth to say something when suddenly his gaze focused on something behind her, and darkness flared in his eyes.
Chloe frowned, concerned, and was in mid-turn when suddenly he was kissing her with a desperate intensity that left her breathless and barely able to keep up as she kissed him back.
Stephen walked backwards, never breaking their kiss as they pushed through the doors and collapsed on the bed.
He'd been outside their flat.
He'd been outside their goddamned flat!
Stephen couldn't keep the edge off as he walked with Cutter the next day towards where the boats were waiting on them so they could search the canal.
He'd known what Helen had said, and god knew that he'd gone over her words and insinuations over and over again these last couple of weeks while Chloe healed from her injury...but he'd never expected to see the damned bastard jogging outside of his own flat! And the bastard had obviously known that Chloe was there because he'd been watching, and the man had looked damned hurt when he'd seen Stephen with her. Stephen was her boyfriend for fucks sake! It pissed him off so damned much! And then he'd had that moment's panic when she'd noticed his reaction and had turned to see what he was looking at.
He hadn't been able to let her.
He'd kissed her, proving to that man and her whom she belonged to.
Or maybe, just maybe, he was trying to prove to himself.
And dammit, that pissed him off even more!
He'd never been like this when it came to a woman and he doubted he ever would again. He loved and hated how much she'd changed him, how much she'd made him realize he could care for someone else! It was scary and frustrating and utterly marvelous!
And he wasn't about to give that up.
"Look," Cutter spoke up, breaking into Stephen's dark thoughts. "There's something about this that doesn't add up."
Stephen stopped and turned to look at his friend and mentor.
"I think we should widen the search to the canal's side." Cutter declared.
"This is another one of your hunches, isn't it?" Stephen asked. "We can't just drop everything, you know. There's a plan in place. Good plan."
"Well, when have I ever been wrong?" Cutter cried out, and then paused and flinched off of the look Stephen sent him. "Except about women, generally."
Stephen chuckled, some of his poor mood melting into amusement. "Look at the odds, Cutter. It's got to be in the canal."
"Look, just give me a few minutes." Cutter just wasn't letting go. "I want to look over there."
"What am I going to tell Lester?" Stephen wanted to know, his annoyance slightly creeping back in.
This was a good, solid plan.
Why couldn't Cutter see this?
Why was he always doubting him?
Second guessing him?
"Cover for me."
"No." Stephen shook his head. "Because you're wasting time."
Cutter gazed at him in silence for a second before: "Ten minutes."
And then he walked away.
Stephen watched him go and let out a little growl, throwing his hands in the air.
"Where's my father going?" Chloe reached his side, eyeing Cutter's retreating figure.
"He wants to check the side of the canal despite the fact that it's senseless to do so." Stephen replied, running a hand over his hair.
"Why is it senseless?" Chloe asked in confusion, turning to look back at him. "There is the possibility that there's something else here, Stephen, I mean sharks can't sing...and what we heard yesterday was definitely-."
"So you're on his side?" Stephen snapped, unable to control his anger and mounting frustration.
Her eyes widened and she stepped back. "Whoa there, I'm not taking sides. I'm thinking logically."
He looked away, swallowing back a mean-spirited retort.
"Stephen, what's going on?" She whispered, putting her hand on his arm. "You know you can tell me anything, right?"
"Like you tell me everything?" He growled at her.
Her eyes widened. "What?"
He snarled at himself, not wanting to bring up this Ben guy. That was the last thing he wanted to do! "It's not important."
"No, Stephen, something's been bothering you and obviously it has something to do with me. If you want me to be truthful I'll be truthful." Chloe held on tighter, face grim. "We need to talk."
He flinched at those four dreaded words. "I'm going ahead with the Alpha Team, you, Connor and Abby wait for Cutter to finally deign to join us."
And with that he shrugged off her hold and walked away, calling himself all sorts of idiot.
Everything was quickly going to the shit house.
As Chloe paced the dock while her father dropped a microphone into the water and listened for whatever he was expecting to hear, she couldn't help but curse silently in her mind. Not only were things deteriorating with Stephen now that she'd finally been ready to truly commit, but her father had been attacked by some man and knocked unconscious. Of course Cutter had seemingly chosen to forget that due to the fact that when he'd awoken in the belly of one of the ships he'd chased the man onto he'd heard some sonic noise or sonar call or whatever the devil it was...but Chloe wasn't. Her boyfriend was pissed at her and her father had some madman attacking him.
"You know that guy that hit you?" Connor decided to bring up, as he sat across from Nick, a pair of headphones around his neck as well. "What if he comes back?"
Abby stood agitatedly behind him.
"He won't." Nick declared. "I've seen him before."
"What?" Chloe turned from her pacing. "Where?"
"In the mall." Her father replied, hands on the headphones he had on. "It was the cleaner."
Chloe's eyes widened as she turned to Connor. "Didn't you say you'd seen him too?"
"What?" Nick's eyes widened as he lowered his headphones. "Where?"
"At the ARC." Connor replied. "He was...uh...he was dressed like a soldier."
"You sure?" Nick frowned.
Connor nodded. "Yeah."
Nick turned to look at all of them. "All right, something's going on. We're being watched."
"Lester." Connor guessed.
"Maybe." Nick nodded as he put back on his headphones.
Chloe frowned, gaze going to the boat out in the distance, where her pissed off boyfriend was. "We should get Stephen, let him know."
"Shh." Nick motioned for her to be quiet as he listened intently. "Are you recording this?"
Connor nodded as he put on his on headphones and listened.
"What does that sound like to you?"
"Don't know." Connor admitted. "But like something I heard once in Glastonbury in a chill out tent."
Abby scoffed. "Glastonbury?"
"Yeah." Her flatmate nodded.
"Like you've ever been to Glastonbury!" She snorted.
"How would you know?" He glared at her.
"Look, what's going on with the pair of you?" Nick snapped at them, pulling off his headphones.
"Connor's dating Cruella de Vil." Abby grumbled.
"Oh, for crying out loud!" Connor cried. "It was an accident! How many times do I-?"
"Shhh!" Nick hushed.
Chloe took the headphones from Connor and put them on herself as she sat down next to him, listening to the whale-like song in the water. "It's the same singing from yesterday."
Nick nodded, turning to Connor. "All right. Grab those recordings and let's get into the boat."
They gathered up the recordings and the equipment and loaded them into their boat before heading out deep into the water.
"Okay, here's what we'll do." Nick declared as they lowered a machine into the murky water. "We'll play back the recordings and see if we can invite him to come and see us."
"Do we really want to be in the middle of the water if it comes at us?" Chloe asked, closing and flexing the fist of her injured hand, which was somewhat sore with the weather.
"We'll be fine." Her father assured her, listening intently to the headphones, gazing at the water around them.
Abby kept searching around the boat, gazing at the water.
Chloe sat listening to the sound of the whale-like song, a headache growing in her skull, almost as if her mind was telling her she should know this, should know what it was. But she didn't, and that headache grew.
Abby gasped and stood up. "Guys..."
Chloe pulled an ear of the headphone off as the others turned to Abby expectantly.
The pixie-like girl stared at the water before shaking her head. "Nothing."
Connor sighed and stood as well. "Maybe no one's home, eh?" When Nick didn't react he made a face. "I think this is silly. We should be back helping Stephen search the canal, Cutter."
"It's not in the canal." Cutter replied, not taking his eyes off of the water.
Suddenly a roar behind them caused them to turn to see a large creature leap out of the water and grab Abby, yanking her off of the boat and into the water.
"Abby!" Chloe screamed, tearing off the headphones and going to the side of the boat.
"Something's taken her!" Connor panicked, grabbing a gun.
"Put that down!" Nick yelled as he tore off his jacket. "You could kill Abby!" And with that he dove into the cold, murky water.
"I can't see her." Connor whispered.
Chloe gazed over the side at the darkness of the water. "Come on Abby, where are you?"
Nick surfaced, looking around, sputtering. "Get help! Now!"
He dove back under but couldn't find her. No matter how many times he surfaced and went back under he couldn't.
Even half an hour later, with a helicopter flying above and scuba divers in the water...no one could find a trace of her or the predator that'd taken her from them.
Connor was destroyed, especially as the search had been finally called off, and had had to be taken off of the site and escorted back to the flat he'd shared with the pixie-blonde.
Lester was, as always, accompanied by that sniveling Leek and ever unpleasant as he clasped his hands behind his back and spoke to Nick. "I suppose being a team player for just once in your life was completely beyond you."
"I'll take responsibility for this." Nick nodded.
"You couldn't have known this would happen!" Chloe exclaimed, yet went for the majority ignored.
"But it's still out there." Nick told Lester. "We are very close and we still have to finish the job."
"This job's already finished. For you." Lester replied point blank. "Go home."
"Wait, you can't fire him." Chloe glared at the annoying, little man. "If it wasn't for him-."
"Miss Maitland would still be alive." Leeks declared.
"Do not put all the blame on him! He was right! The creature was there!"
Lester eyed her before turning to Stephen. "You're in charge now."
Stephen frowned and turned to look at Nick.
"Oh, don't look at him, look at me." Lester ordered. "Come on. What do you want?"
Chloe turned to Stephen, waiting for him to champion her father's cause.
Instead he turned to Lester. "Something better than sonar."
"Stephen." She whispered, horrified.
He ignored her, eyes on Lester. "We have to go over every inch of the canal again. A remote control submarine could do it."
Lester turned to Leek. "Get it for him."
"You're looking in the wrong place." Nick whispered.
Lester turned to Stephen. "Do you agree?"
"No." Stephen replied firmly.
Her father shook his head and walked away, purposely bumping his shoulder in Lester's as he left.
"Nick!" Chloe called after him. "Dad!" She went to try go after him but was stopped by Stephen's arm on her shoulder. "Let me go!"
"There's no time for this." Stephen told her before turning to Lester. "Whatever took Abby is in the canal."
"You were wrong before." She whispered to him.
Stephen flinched and looked away.
The blonde turned to Lester. "You're making a huge mistake firing my father, and you're too stupid and pompous to even realize it. The ARC is nothing without him."
Lester raised an eyebrow at her before sliding his gaze towards Stephen. "Get her in line or she'll be fired as well."
Chloe shook her head. "You don't have to fire me. I quit."
And like her father before her, she walked away, the CD with the recording of the creature's song in her pocket.
She fumed as she reached Stephen's truck, rummaging through the back before pulling out a CD player. Plopping the CD in and putting on the earphones, the whale-like singing returned, louder and clearer, a haunting melody echoing in her head. The sound was achingly familiar, an itch in the back of her mind she couldn't quite scratch. What was it about this sound? Where had she heard it before? Weren't these creatures supposed to be from the future? She'd never been to the future. The only time she'd been through anomalies they'd all been connected to the past...even the one in which she'd been found in after her two year stint.
So why would the song of a future creature seem so familiar?
Turning up the volume of the recording, Chloe brought a hand to her head as she leaned against the outside of the truck, feeling slightly dizzy.
The song called out hauntingly like a forgotten dream.
Chloe felt her feet beginning to move on their own, and she felt drawn, turning up the volume on the CD player until it was the only thing she could hear, the melody completely drowning out any outside noise. Flashes of the creature who'd taken Abby, of water, of rocky shore, flickered before her eyes as she moved, feeling like in a trance.
The song called...and she couldn't not answer.
By his truck, Nick looked out of the water, images of Abby getting taking taunting him over and over again. It was his fault. It was all his fault. The girl had been so young and beautiful and intelligent, with such a wonderful life ahead of her, but because of his wounded pride and his unwillingness to call for backup he'd gotten her killed.
He turned and headed back towards his truck, towards the open map there.
"You're not supposed to be here."
He looked up to see Jenny approaching. "Well, where else am I going to go?"
"I could have you thrown out." She commented in a conversational matter.
"Yep, you could." He agreed, eyes going back to the map.
She reached into her pocket and pulled out a folded paper, handing it to him. "Thought you might be interested in this. A local builder has lodged a complaint. He can't get in and demolish an old warehouse because the basement flooded in the tidal surge."
He looked up at that.
Jenny smiled smugly at him. "Maybe you're right. Maybe we are looking for the creatures in the wrong place. At the very least it's definitely worth checking out."
Nick turned to look at her, unable to believe it.
Jenny smiled at him before turning and beginning to walk away.
"Hey." He called out, waiting till she'd turned to look at him. "As petty-minded bureaucrats go, you're the best."
Her lips twitched in a grin as she nodded and left, hips swaying.
He watched her go, shaking his head with a smile, falling just a little bit more in love with her.
Claudia Brown, or not.
Nick pulled out his phone and dialed Chloe's number, but it rung out.
He sighed, realizing she was probably out with Stephen looking in the wrong damned place.
He hesitated, gazing at his phone, before calling Connor. It rang and rang before the call was answered, and yet there was no greeting. The boy was obviously suffering somewhat terribly, and Nick hated himself for being the cause of all of this.
"Connor, I know how you feel, but I need your help." He took in a deep breath, gaze going to the water. "I think I know where to look." There was silence. "Connor." He closed his eyes. "Look, listen to me. It's my fault. I should have asked for backup and I didn't. That arrogance cost the life of a very brave, very beautiful girl. And you...you're right to blame me. But surely, if there's even half a chance that we can stop the same thing happening to somebody else, then we owe it to Abby to do it." He took in a deep breath. "And this time I'm asking for backup, so will you come and help me, please?" He waited...and yet other than breathing heard nothing. "Connor." He hung his head low. "Okay... If you change your mind Jenny Lewis knows where to find me."
And with that he hung up the phone.
He had an old, abandoned warehouse he needed to check out.
Helicopter flying overhead, Stephen tried pushing all the many thoughts and problems out of his head as he sat with another agent of ARC, looking at the mini sub's camera as it combed the canal.
"We've swept the whole canal." The sub's operator declared, looking up from the controls.
"Sweep it again." Stephen declared, eyeing the video feed, refusing to doubt himself and his choices. Everyone else that mattered had, Cutter, Chloe...he couldn't let himself doubt as well. "Paul! Back it up! Back it up!" He gazed at an entrance large enough for a man to swim through. "There. Try there."
"Listen, the opening's too small." Paul shook his head. "We're going to smash up the sub."
"I'll buy you a new one." Stephen insisted. "Just keep going."
He wasn't wrong.
It was only when she tripped and nearly fell that Chloe realized she was walking in a dark, damp place. Where exactly she was or how she'd found herself there were questions she couldn't truly answer, but given the fact that her legs were slightly sore she guessed she'd walked, quite a good distance. It disturbed her that she couldn't remember doing any of this walking though. The last thing she truly remembered was leaning against the truck listening to the creature's song and if she hadn't almost fallen would she still be in that trance-like state heading to only god knew where? Was it the song? Was listening to it so intently entrancing? Was it hypnotic? A means of getting prey? By somehow hypnotizing them with their song like the sirens of mythology?
Frowning, Chloe pulled off the headphones and rested them around her neck as she reached into her jacket's pocket and stopped the recordings, instead looking around her.
She seemed to be in some sort of warehouse.
Reaching into her pocket she searched for her cellular yet couldn't find it. She must have either left it in the truck or dropped it on the way here...wherever 'here' was.
It was some sort of warehouse, obviously, and she seemed to be in the basement, where there were large crate boxes stacked around. That in itself made her wary as she was standing on top of one of said large crates, water covering three fourths of these large containers. And not only that. The only way she could have gotten to where she was would have been to jump from another higher walk around on top of the closest crate and then jump from one crate to the other...
And she had no memory of this.
This wasn't just normal walking.
There was Olympic sort of jumping involved.
How could the thrall of the song be so strong?
"I need to get out of here." She whispered, turning to head back in the direction she must have come from.
Suddenly light errupted behind her, and she could feel the throbbing of heat and life.
Chloe breathed in a gasp, feeling each throb as if it were her own as the energy seared through her.
Slowly she turned, eyes widening as it fell upon the anomaly.
This was it.
This was ground zero.
Ahead of her...was the future.
Following the directions on the paper, Nick had found the warehouse and snuck inside, finding his way as down as he could, until he came upon the entrance to the lower chambers, which was grated and padlocked with a chain. He bent to test the strength of the lock and chain, finding it proper strong, and without the right tools he'd be unable to get any further.
Hearing a sound behind him, Nick saw Connor.
"This help?" Connor raised the crowbar in his hand.
"Yeah." Nick nodded, reaching for it. "Yeah, that will do the trick." Uncomfortable silence fell upon them as he gazed at the padlock. "Thanks for coming."
"With respect, I'm not doing it for you." Connor replied truthfully, still so horribly pale and haunted looking. "Its what she would have wanted." He gulped. "We had an argument. A lot of things we said to each other were mean and stupid."
Nick's gaze lowered to the crowbar in his hand. "She knew how much you cared about her."
"You think?" Connor's voice broke with emotion.
"Yeah, I know." Nick assured.
"Yeah." Connor cleared his throat and came to bend down next to Nick, a handheld Anomaly Detector in his hand. "Why isn't Chloe here helping you?"
"She's with Stephen and the others in the canal." Nick replied, eyes on the crowbar.
"And you're sure that's the wrong place." Connor took in a deep breath.
"Okay then." Connor declared, gaze lowering.
Nick eyed him. "You alright?"
Connor turned to look at him and nodded. "Yeah."
"You know, Lester fired me."
Connor blinked. "Did he now?"
Nick nodded, before getting to work on the padlock.
A beeping sound coming from his bag caused Stephen to look up from the video feed of the sub's progress. He stood and hurried to his duffle bag, rummaging through it before pulling out the handheld Anomaly Detector, which was picking up the opening of an Anomaly very close by.
"The anomaly. It's reopened." He took over the control of the sub, steering it in the direction shown on the Detector.
"You'll crash it." Paul frowned.
They'd finally made it down into the subterranean level when Connor's Detector went off, sounding the alarm that the anomaly had reopened once more and was in close proximity. The signal had led them to a brick wall, and Nick had taken out all of his pent-up frustration against it with the help of the crowbar Connor had brought. He'd pounded away at it, remembering over and over again the second Abby had been taken from them. It was his grief and guilt which had fueled him, giving him the strength he needed to break through a clear a path big enough for Connor and himself to pass through...and when they did...they were greeted to the sound of someone screaming for help.
Lucien Hope was still alive, and when they rescued him from the bottomless tank of rising water he'd been trapped in he'd immediately sputtered five words that had caused both Nick and Connor to freeze.
"We have to save Abby."
Abby was alive.
She was alive!
Just before they'd managed to break through one of the creatures had grabbed her and pulled her through one of the pipes, and as soon as Connor found out he looked at the handheld Anomaly Detector and took off running, screaming her name.
"Connor!" Nick called after him, but the boy was gone. He turned to the boy still with him. "Lucien, what did it look like?"
A creature growled as it pulled itself out of the tank they'd just taken the boy from.
"Like that!" Lucien cried, hurrying to his feet. "I ain't going back in those tanks again!"
Nick stood as the things growled at them, flashing large tusks. It was huge, seeming like some amalgamation between a seal, a walrus, an ape and possibly a snake.
It was terrifying and magnificent.
"What the hell is that?" He whispered, unable to look away from this new and fascinating creature. "Lucien, just stay where you are."
The boy disobeyed, grabbing a chunk of crumbled wall and throwing it to the pipes next to the creature, the piece bouncing off and landing hard on the creature's head, knocking it unconscious. "Yes!" He fist-pumped the air. "Two points! Who says I can't play?"
Nick patted the boy's arm, impressed. "Nice shot."
Suddenly another of those things came sliding out of one of the pipes and crashed into Nick, sending them both flying into one of the bottomless tanks of water.
He surfaced, taking in a desperate gulp of water, the sound of growls behind him alerting him to the presence of the creature.
Slowly, gulping, Nick turned to find himself face to face with the thing.
This was it.
There was no escaping.
Suddenly the water bubbled up between them, and a mini submarine surfaced, its video-camera aimed straight at Nick's face.
He frowned at it. "What the hell?"
"What the hell?" Stephen frowned at the video feed of Nick Cutter, before suddenly something attacked at the sub and the last thing he saw before everything went black was Lucien Hope helping Nick quickly out of the water. "Give me a gun." He stood. "Give me a pistol."
Paul gave him both.
Securing them, Stephen took in a deep breath and jumped off of the boat into the murky water beneath.
Below the cliffs where she stood, thousands of ape/walrus/seal/something creatures gathered upon the rocks, soaking up sunlight. The world around her was unlike anything she could recognize, then again she could be in a part of the world she hadn't been in before. She wondered if this was the same time in the future that her mother had traveled to when she'd left them to go through the future anomaly. She wondered if she didn't have more Helen in her than she wanted to admit. Her friends were back home, trying to find the creature that had murdered their close friend, and yet she'd been unable to turn down the temptation of stepping into the future and seeing it for herself.
Helen had once told her while they were traveling together through the anomalies that once one had a taste of them life couldn't truly satisfy...and while she'd scoffed at the time Chloe wondered if it wasn't true. Walking through that anomaly, feeling the energy of it flow through her as she crossed, feeling that oneness with the universe and all within it...it'd felt right.
What if she was much more like her mother than she wanted to admit?
"Stay there, Lucien." Nick stood before him, holding the crowbar, trying to protect the younger lad but there were three of those things and he knew they truly didn't stand a chance. "Stay back! Back!"
The creatures closed in for the kill.
Suddenly Stephen emerged from one of the water tanks, brandishing a shotgun.
Nick's eyes widened as he turned to Lucien. "Down!"
As soon as they'd hit the floor the bullets rang out, the large creatures falling victims to Stephen's deadly accuracy.
Connor crawled through the anomaly to the other side, his mind replaying the sight of Abby cornered by the larger, redder version of the creature they'd faced in the lake. He'd tried to race towards her but the thing had thrown him into the water, and by the time he'd managed to get back onto a crate Abby and the red one were gone. He hadn't thought twice, following them through to the other side, finding himself in a seaside on top of jagged rocks, desperate to find Abby and save her, bring her back home.
"Abby!" He yelled, unafraid for himself or the attention he might attract.
There was no answer but he didn't despair carrying on, keeping an eye out for the creatures that obviously lived on these seaside cliffs.
Suddenly Abby's scream echoed, and his eyes widened as he pressed on, hurrying towards the sound.
"ABBY!" He treaded carefully close to a ledge. "Abby!"
"Connor!" Her voice called from below.
He went to the edge, finding her below, corner by one of those things.
Looking around him quickly, Connor grabbed a large rock and dropped it on the creature's head, knocking it out cold. "Okay, Abby. Come here, grab my hand!" He laid down on his stomach and reached down as far as he could.
She looked up at him and nodded, boots trying to get purchase on the side of the cliff as she reached up towards him, fingertips almost touching.
"Come on." He encouraged. "Just climb up. You can do this."
Her fingers clawed into the rock as finally she was able to pull herself high enough for his hand to grab hers.
"That's it. I've got you." Connor groaned, trying to pull her up while keeping himself anchored onto the ledge with his other hand. "Grab hold of this."
Abby grabbed hold of a part of the cliff with her hand.
"That's it. You're nearly there, you're so nearly there."
"Connor, I'm slipping." She cried the words he refused to hear. "I can't hold on!" She screamed as as she lost footing and her other hand lost its purchase on the ledge, the only thing keeping her from falling to her death his grip on her.
Connor let go of his purchase on the ledge and grabbed her hand with both of his, trying to dig the toes of his boots into the rock, trying to stop his slow progression towards the edge of the ledge.
Beneath, the smaller, greener creatures, and the larger red one were attracted by the noise and began making their way towards them.
Connor gulped before turning to Abby, already half, hanging off of the ledge himself. "Okay. You need to come up now. Come on."
"I'm pulling you over, Connor." Abby shook her head. "Just leave me."
"No." He shook his head, fighting to grasp her wet, slippery hand. "I'm not letting you go. I've lost you once, Abby, I'm not losing you again, okay? Come on, we can do this."
He tried pulling her up but he just wasn't strong enough.
All the while the red creature continued making her way towards them, shoving everything else out of her way.
"There's no point in us both dying." Abby pleaded with him. "Just let me go. Let me go."
"I can't." He couldn't look away from her either.
"Please!" She sobbed.
"I love you." His voice cracked, eyes filling with tears.
Abby's eyes widened in shock as she gazed up at him.
"I'm not leaving you here." Connor swore, voice wavering with emotion, his grip on her beginning to slip, as so was his body. He was forced to let go of her with one hand to grab purchase with it on the ledge as he too began slipping over.
Abby's hand began slipping through his.
"No!" Connor groaned.
"NO!" He prayed.
Suddenly someone threw themselves down on the ledge and grabbed Abby's other hand, lessening the weight and giving Connor the split second he needed to get a better grip on the pixie-ish blonde.
"Fancy meeting you two here." Chloe grunted as, like him, she had one hand gripped to the ledge for support. "Really, I cant go anywhere without you two popping up and disagreeing with each other, can I?"
Connor could kiss her right now, yet he refrained from doing so as slowly they pulled themselves and Abby back unto the ledge and out of the way of the creatures below.
Abby fell onto Connor and held onto him tightly, shivering.
Chloe breathed heavily, hand on her stomach as she laid on her back. "I suppose we should be going home now, before we get eaten and all."
"That would be preferable." Abby whispered. "We wouldn't want to be stuck on the wrong side of the anomaly should it close."
"Are you okay?" Connor asked her.
She nodded, looking up at him in silence.
Suddenly gunshots rang out, piercing into the creature that'd managed to sneak up on them.
Connor looked up to see Stephen and Nick appear, carrying a shotgun and a pistol.
"Time to go, kids." Nick announced.
Connor was more than happy to comply.
"Has the anomaly closed?" Lester hadn't even given them time to breathe once they'd come back, the anomaly surrounded by armed guards waiting to shoot anything else that dared venture through it until it closed back up.
"No." Nick shook his head, Stephen at his side. "It's still there and it's likely to recur."
Lester took in a deep breath as he folded his arms over his chest. "You know what, Leek? I think this whole area could benefit form a Government Redevelopment Grant. We'll start by sealing the anomaly site with a few thousand tons of concrete. That should do the job."
Leek looked around him and nodded before turning back to Lester. "Shall I speak to the contractors?"
"No, don't worry." Lester shook his head. "I'll get myself a shovel and a cement mixer and do it myself." He sighed in exasperation. "Yes, of course you should speak to the contractors, you idiot."
Leek cleared his throat.
Nick shook his head.
Lester sighed as he turned to him. "Next time I sack you, you might at least pretend to stay sacked for more than five minutes."
Nick's lips twitched.
Lester shook his head. "Still, I suppose it's just as well you decided to disobey my orders. If it'd been left up to Stephen we'd all still be looking in the wrong place," his gaze went accusingly to Stephen. "Wouldn't we?"
Stephen's face was blank.
Lester turned to Jenny. "Would you like to join us?"
She smiled and nodded, following him and Leek as they headed towards their limousine.
The silence was taunt between Nick and Stephen until Nick cleared his throat. "That's unfair."
"No." Stephen shook his head, gazing ahead of him. "No, I called it wrong."
Nick patted his back before walking away to go and check up on Abby and Connor. "I was lucky."
"Yeah." He heard Stephen mumbled emotionless behind him. "You were."
Abby hurriedly met Nick halfway, drawing his attention from Stephen's odd behavior. "So is that it, then? Is that what our future is going to look like?"
"No, not ours." He was sure of it. "The earth's. Humanity will be long gone by then. Or, perhaps, we do survive and we just evolve back into the water where we came from."
Her blue eyes widened. "What? You mean those things could be our descendants?"
"Yeah," he nodded. "It's possible."
"Wow." Abby blinked. "Didn't fancy yours much."
He laughed and hugged her tightly. "I'm so glad you're safe."
She hugged him back. "So am I."
She sat upon one of the back crates, out of the way of the soldiers, and yet still close enough to feel the vibrations and throbs of the anomaly, to feel its life. It was oddly comforting in this time of chaos and confusion. For a moment, for a split second she'd been tempted to just lose herself in that anomaly, in that future, and escape all the problems she had here...but then she'd realized just how proud Helen would be of her if she had.
Stephen sat down next to her, silent.
She kept her gaze on the anomaly.
"How did you make your way down here?" He asked. "Cutter told me how he and Connor got here, but how did you?"
"Stephen, we need to talk." She finally looked away from the anomaly and turned to face him. "I know this isn't the best time but we need to do it now."
He looked away, a muscle jumping in his jaw.
"I realized I was being a hypocrite." She took in a deep breath. "How can I expect you to fully confide in me if I don't do the same with you?"
His eyes narrowed as he finally looked at her.
"Stephen, I've met Ben, the Ben from this reality." She finally admitted, staring deep within his troubled gaze. "He was driving the truck that ran into us."
"No he wasn't." Stephen frowned.
"Yes, he was, he told me himself." Chloe argued. "It's why we met. He found me at the hospital."
"Chloe, you don't get it. Ben was not the one driving the vehicle that ran into us." Stephen's disturbed expression grew.
"How would you know? You've never seen him before, you don't know what he looks like." She rolled her eyes at him. "Stephen, I'm telling you, he told me himself. And he felt so guilty he stayed until after I finished seeing the doctor and drove me home since I was high on pain meds. He then came by the next day to make sure that I was fine. That's all. I swear. I haven't even seen him since then."
There was a moment's pause where Stephen looked like he wanted to say something before swallowing it and clearing his throat, blue orbs meeting her own green. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I was scared doing so would change things between us." She admitted, licking her lips. "You have every right to be uneasy when it comes to him, I've made things like that, but Stephen, I want you to know that you can trust me." She turned so that she was sitting facing him. "When I decided to give us a chance, when I gave myself the chance to see all the reasons why I fell in love with you in this timeline, I didn't do it with a clause that stated that Ben's appearance would change anything."
"You love him." Stephen replied, voice uneasy, expression closed off.
"Yes and no." She replied truthfully, knowing he deserved to hear the truth. "I loved my Ben, not this one. I don't know this one and he doesn't know me. We don't have that connection, those memories, that I had with my Ben." She took in a deep breath, knowing this would be hard for Stephen to hear but he needed to if he was to understand what she felt. "I really want to give us a chance, I-I really care about you." She lowered her gaze to her lap.
There was silence.
She quickly hurried on. "I know that this is all so unfair to you, but-."
Stephen reached for her and cupped the back of her head, bringing her lips to meet his in a torrid kiss.
Eyes fluttering closed, Chloe melted into him.
"You realize you might have compromised this whole project?" Leek glared at the Cleaner through the video conference.
"It was a mistake." He declared. "Cutter weren't meant to be there. Won't happen again."
"Well I hope not." Leek declared from the privacy of his car. "Because the consequences for you could be very bad." He let that sink in for a second before continuing. "Now, please try and stay out of sight in the future. It would make life easier for everyone."
The Cleaner nodded and ended the video conference.
Leek took in a deep breath. "Hopefully Cutter won't remember him."
Helen Cutter leaned forwards from the backseat. "Nick has an excellent memory for faces, and I hope this isn't going to go wrong, Oliver." Her voice was low and threatening. "I'd hate to think I put my faith in the wrong man. Now that I see people very rarely, its hard to know if my judgement is as good as it used to be." She paused before continuing. "I hope you can deliver what you promised."
"I can." He hurried to assure. "Remember, I have a lot riding on this as well."
She reached out and played with his necktie. "Then I'm sure everything is going to be just fine."
He nodded and gulped. "Chloe quit the ARC today."
She paused, tightening her hold on his tie. "Did she?"
He nodded quickly. "L-Lester fired Cutter and she took up for him, quit on the spot. He rehired Cutter after the end of the day, but I don't think he's addressed the issue of her job still being available." Despite his fear, he couldn't help but smile. "She called him stupid and pompous to his face."
A soft chuckle escaped Helen's lips. "She gets the mouth from me."
He didn't know whether it was safe to comment to on that or not, so he remained silent.
"Lester will give her her job back, he's not fool enough to let the only person with a personal connection with the anomalies get away just like that." Helen pulled away and the sound of the door opening and closing betrayed her departure.
Leek closed his eyes tightly, taking in a shuddering breath, absolutely terrified.