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A Fractured Start

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“You should have got that taken care of before,” Cutter said, his tone making him sound angrier than he truly felt. Stephen just looked up at him and raised a weary eyebrow. He really wasn't in the mood for Cutter's concern when his whole body was aching and he was seeing two of everything. Not that he had told anyone about that. He was just thankful that the Gorgonopsid was so big, otherwise he might have been shooting bullets at a phantom image, rather than the real thing.

Then he blinked and realised what he'd just thought. “Shit,” he muttered. He could have seriously injured someone, not to mention himself.

“About time you realised just how much danger you put yourself in,” Cutter said, in his best attempt at a professorial voice.

Stephen just stared at a him for a beat and then Cutter was calling the medic over and insisting that Stephen be seen to. Stephen blinked somewhat at the choice of phrasing, but he allowed himself to be poked and prodded, not really having the wherewithal to object.

“He'll need some observation over night. That's quite a blow he had to his head.”

Stephen opened his mouth to deny that he needed any such thing, but Cutter's glare was upon on him, and for once it was the one that Stephen actually paid attention to. The “my wife is missing and I'm not in the mood for any of your nonsense.” Stephen realised that it was his own guilt talking, rather than Cutter's more persuasive abilities, but that was all the more reason to do as Cutter said at moments like these.

Besides, while he might not feel like he needed a baby-sitter, he did still feel the adrenaline rushing through his veins, and he needed to do something.

“He's coming back with me,” Cutter told the medic, who just nodded and moved off, apparently satisfied.

“He clearly hasn't seen your attempts at First Aid,” Stephen said, aiming for levity.

“Get in the car, Stephen,” Cutter said instead of rising to the bait.

Stephen sighed, but did as he was told. Sometimes there really was no arguing with the other man. And really, his headache was starting to make itself known again.

* * * * * *

Stephen sat in the kitchen whilst Cutter made tea. He'd point blank refused to go lie down, pointing out that Cutter would only have to disturb him anyway and Cutter had reluctantly agreed. Cutter made an unnecessary amount of noise and mess as he put on the kettle and got two mugs from the cupboard.

“Do you need a hand?” Stephen asked.

“No,” Cutter snapped, and then he sighed. “Even I can't muck up making tea,” he added in a gentler tone.

Stephen gave a hesitant smile. “Oh, I don't know. Remember that time in Borneo...?”

Cutter found himself laughing as he did remember a disastrous attempt at tea-making that almost resulted in a forest fire.

“Well, perhaps with your supervision, I'll be all right,” he said. Stephen smiled and nodded.

Once tea was made they moved into the living room and sat down on the sofa next to each other, Stephen curling his feet on the sofa and curling his fingers around the warm mug of tea. He took a sip and sighed; it really was amazing just how much a mug of tea could make everything all right.

“I can't believe you drove a car into the Gorgonopsid,” Cutter said, after a few moments of companionable silence.

Stephen shook his head. “Neither can I.”

They turned to each other and grinned.

“It's real Stephen. These creatures are real.”

“They've always been real,” Stephen said, still grinning, “but I know what you mean. Seeing them up close... Do you think it was a one-off, or do you think there are more of these, anomalies?”

Cutter shrugged and immediately became more serious. “I think that's what happened to Helen. It has to be. Her theories about jumps in evolution, fossils turning up where they logically shouldn't, it all makes sense if you take these anomalies into account.”

Stephen sobered. “You think she's out there then? Trapped, unable to make her way home?”

Cutter stared off into the distance. “Maybe. Maybe she just doesn’t want to be here with me.”

Cutter, Helen loved you...” Stephen stopped, the words tasting bitter on his tongue even as he spoke them. Cutter mistook his look of disgust at himself for pain though and immediately took the mug of tea from his hands.

“Here's me rattling on and you need looking after. If that school teacher hadn't reported that she'd found you, would you have even told us what happened at the school?”

Stephen looked uncomfortable under Cutter's glare. “Yes?”

“Stephen, what have I told you about leaping in to situations?”

Stephen laughed. “I'm sorry, pot calling kettle? Who just went through a strange glowing light into the past?”

“That was different. I had back-up.”

Stephen's expression became even more incredulous, but he kept his mouth shut. There really was no arguing with Cutter some days.

They lapsed back into silence until Stephen’s head began to droop and his eyes insisted on closing despite his best efforts to the contrary.

“You need to get some sleep,” Cutter said, resting a hand on Stephen's thigh. “Use my bedroom. I'll wake you up in a couple of hours.”

Stephen wanted to argue, but found himself yawning instead. “If you're sure that's okay?”

“Of course. Why wouldn't it be? You're my friend.”

“Right. Your friend.”

Stephen attempted to get up, but Cutter's hand squeezed his thigh and he stilled. “Cutter?”

The kiss was soft, barely there before it was gone again. “You're much more than that Stephen. You know that. But things, things are getting so complicated now. Rain check?”

Stephen nodded. Cutter was right, now wasn't the time. Especially if Helen was back in the picture. Especially when he had so many lies that needed unravelling.

“Okay,” Stephen said, “but there are some things I need to tell you.”

“Sleep first. I'm sure whatever it is can wait.”

Stephen nodded, though he didn’t feel sure about that at all. He'd just have to pick his moment carefully, that was all. Pick a moment when he and Cutter were alone, and not being chased by or chasing dinosaurs.

But he would fight for his chance with Cutter, no matter who or what got in his way. And, as he put his hand in Cutter's and pulled him up, whispering that he wasn't about to go to bed alone, he felt sure that everything was going to be all right. He and Cutter were together, and that was all that mattered.