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fanfic: Hero - part 11 - athene
deinonychus_1
deinonychus_1
fanfic: Hero - part 11

The end is in sight! Thanks to everyone who has read and commented on this fic, thanks for sticking with it. I'd been saying for a long time that I wanted to write something that explored Cutter and Connor's onscreen canon relationship, and this fic was the realisation of that aim. It just took rather longer than I'd expected to do it!


Title: Hero (part 11 of 11)
Author: Athene
Fandom: Primeval
Pairing/characters: Cutter, Connor, Jenny.
Rating: 12
Warnings: Occasional mild language 
Spoilers: Anything up to ep 2.4
Disclaimer: Not mine. ITV and Impossible Pictures own them.
Word count: 2605 (total 44,591)
Summary: All Connor wanted was a positive paternal role model. Was that too much to ask?
AN: Big thanks to fififolle for the beta. Written for the Big Bang fic challenge. Also sort of incorporates Era of the Month: Triassic.
AN2:This fic is set in the latter half of series 2, a while after 2.4, and ignores canon after that point. Also appears to ignore the existence of Leek.



            Connor winced and tried to find a position that was comfortable without involving the heavy plaster cast on his right forearm in any way coming into contact with the big patch of gauze padding covering the stitches in his side. The hospital bed wasn’t helping at all. Were these things designed to be as uncomfortable as possible? At least Lester (he presumed it was Lester) had managed to wangle him a private room, but Connor was already desperate to go home, and he’d only been in here a day.

            There was a knock at the door, and Mark stuck his head round.

            “Can I come in?”

            “Yeah, course you can.” Connor grinned and tried to shuffle into a slightly more upright position as Mark came in and closed the door behind him. He only managed to get comfortable when Mark moved his pillows for him and propped them up so he could sit upright.

            “How are you feeling now?” Mark asked as he sat down in the chair next to the bed.

            “Okay.” Connor suspected the painkillers he’d been given an hour ago probably had a lot to do with that, although he was definitely feeling a lot more alert than the last time he had seen Mark earlier that day.  Mark had been sitting at his bedside when he woke up, and Connor had a nasty feeling that he may have said some faintly embarrassing things while he was in a drug-induced haze. Although he did remember quite a lot of hugs, which he felt made up for any embarrassment.

            “Good.” Mark nodded. “Good.” He took his glasses off and started cleaning the lenses again. Connor wondered briefly if they were the cleanest glasses in the word after all the times he had done that during his earlier visit.

            Connor frowned. “Are you okay, Da- Mark?”

            Mark avoided his gaze for another moment, and then jammed his glasses back on and finally met Connor’s eyes.

            “I’m leaving the Anomaly Project, Connor.”

            What?

            “I think we both know I’m not cut out for this job. I’ve already been to see Lester and told him I don’t want to be part of it any more. He agrees it’s probably for the best.”

            “No, Dad. You’re doing okay. You can help, you know stuff about dinosaurs. You went to get help and saved me and Cutter.”

            Mark flinched.

            Connor remembered what he had said to Cutter the previous night about how he didn’t think he worked well with his father. Had Mark found out about that? Was he angry? Connor suddenly realised that no matter how awkward he found it working with his father, he didn’t want to see him go.

            “Please. There has to be something. Maybe if you don’t want to do the field ops you can work on the research side. I won’t be out in the field for ages again now, we can work together on stuff. Please Dad.”

“Don’t, Connor. I’m sorry, I wish it could have worked out better, and I really appreciate you trying so hard to make me part of the team. But this is your life, Connor, not mine. I’m not like you. I can’t do this job.”

            Connor thought he heard his father’s voice starting to crack.

            “I can’t be at the ARC. When they pulled you out of that place last night and I saw the state you were in, I lost it. I thought that you’d died. I can’t go through that every time the ADD goes off. Even if I was just in the labs, I couldn’t keep working, knowing that you were out there putting yourself in danger. I can’t just sit there every time, waiting to see whether you come back in one piece or not. I just... can’t.”

            Connor swallowed and nodded. He knew exactly what Mark meant. He had felt it himself for a moment when he had realised that Mark had been on his own with the coelophysis.

            “Do you understand?”

            Connor nodded again, not quite trusting himself to speak.

            Neither of them spoke for a few minute. Eventually Connor decided his voice was probably steady enough, and asked, “Where are you going to go?”

            “There’s a job in Whitby Museum, Lester says he’ll pull some strings and try to make sure I get it.” He forced a laugh. “I think I’m better with fossils than I am with the real things.”

            “Whitby?” He had only just got his father back, and now Mark wanted to move halfway across the country? “Can... can I come and visit, maybe?”

            Mark stared at him in shock.

            “God, Connor, of course you can! That wasn’t... I didn’t mean... I want to get away from the ARC and the anomalies, not you.” The look of relief on Connor’s face must have been all too obvious, because Mark dropped his gaze and made a frustrated sound. “I’m not doing this very well, am I?”

            “It’s okay,” Connor said. He paused and then added, “Maybe once you’ve got a flat sorted I could come up for the weekend and we could go fossil hunting? Like we used to?”

            Mark nodded. “I’d like that.” He looked up and met Connor’s eyes again. “I am proud of you. You know that, right?”

            Connor nodded, unable to speak again. Maybe it was the medication, but Connor was suddenly sure he was about to burst into tears if this conversation went on much longer. For once, Mark seemed to understand what was going on in his head, because he abruptly stood up.

            “Well, I should go. Lester has about a thousand different forms and disclaimers that he wants me to sign before I can go, and you know what he’s like.”

            Connor nodded again. “Yeah. Yeah, you should...”

            “Yes.”

            Mark hesitated and then leaned down and wrapped an arm around Connor in a somewhat awkward hug. Connor tried to get the arm that wasn’t in plaster around his father, but Mark pulled away before he could untangle himself from the bed sheets.

            “I’ll come back later, if you want.”

            “Yes, please.”

            Connor waited until Mark had left before he sank back into the pillows, blinking rapidly and willing the room to stop being blurred. Everything was almost back in focus when there was a second knock and this time Cutter was the one who came in, not waiting for a response before he opened the door and limped over to Connor’s side.

            “Just thought I’d stop by and see how you were doing,” Cutter said.

            “Fine,” Connor lied, hoping his voice didn’t sound as close to cracking as he thought it did. “You?”

            “Yeah, fine. Few stitches, that’s all.” Cutter already sounded grumpy about that, and Connor suspected he was going to be like a bear with a sore head until his leg healed.

            “So, Mark talked to you?” Cutter asked, with his usual bull in a china shop approach to tact.

            Connor looked away. He didn’t want to talk about it. He didn’t want to think about it. He didn’t want to cry in front of Cutter, again.

            “Connor? Are you okay?” Cutter asked, sounding concerned.

            The floodgates broke and Connor couldn’t stop the tears. He ducked his head and tried to hide his face with his one good hand, knowing it was pointless, but doing it anyway. He felt the bed dip and suddenly Cutter was pulling him in, wrapping his arms around Connor and holding him close to his chest. Connor buried his face in Cutter’s shoulder and sobbed, his good arm curling around Cutter and hanging on tight. He could hear Cutter making quiet soothing noises, feel Cutter’s hands gently rubbing his back, and he finally let himself feel safe and wanted in Cutter’s solid, gruff, comforting presence.

 

 

            “You’ve told Connor, then?” Jenny said. She was waiting in the corridor after Cutter had gone in to see Connor, and caught Mark on his way out.

            “Yes.”

            “You don’t have to go, you know.” Jenny fell into step with him.

            Mark glanced at her. “You’ve changed your tune since yesterday. Thought you’d be glad to see me go.”

            “What I said about earning respect, I think after last night you’ve done just that.”

            Mark stared at her, obviously surprised.

            “You had useful knowledge that helped us deal with those creatures, and you got help for Cutter and Connor when they needed it.”

            Mark gave a bitter snort of a laugh.

            “No, I didn’t.”

            Jenny gave him a quizzical look.

            “Do you want to know what actually happened last night?” Mark said. He sounded angry, all of a sudden, although Jenny was fairly certain that anger was not directed at her.

            “Go on.”

            “I hid.” Mark paused and then turned to look at her. “I saw them fall and I heard them shouting, telling me to get help, and I saw the dinosaurs still prowling around and going down into the cellar, and I hid. I should have got Stephen and Abby a lot sooner, but I thought if I ran the dinosaurs would come after me. Even when I knew they’d gone down into the cellar where Connor was, I couldn’t bring myself to move until I was sure they had all gone.”

            Jenny had no idea what to say. It was a hell of an admission to make, and she wasn’t entirely certain why she was the one who he had decided to tell.

            “It’s not even the first time,” Mark continued, not looking at her any more as they walked.

            Jenny waited for him to elaborate.

            “I wasn’t entirely truthful in my report about what happened in the Triassic. What happened to my wife. She... it wasn’t that I couldn’t get to her in time when I heard her scream. I didn’t try to get to her at all. I hid. I ran to our shelter and I hid until the predator was long gone.”

            He took a deep breath and turned to meet Jenny’s shocked look.

            “I’m not like Connor. He’s a hero. I’m just a coward. My cowardice got my wife killed, and yesterday it almost got my son killed as well. I think it’s safer for everyone if I stay as far away from the anomalies as possible, don’t you?”

            When Jenny had no answer for him, Mark turned and walked away, the self-contempt all too clear in his eyes.

            Jenny felt a sudden wave of sympathy for the man as she watched him go. She suspected that admission was quite possibly the bravest thing he had done in a long time. She also hoped he would never decide to tell anyone else.

There were some things that Connor did not need to know.

 

 

            Cutter limped into the atrium, unsurprised to see Connor hunched over the computer in front of the ADD, despite the fact that most of the day shift had gone home over an hour ago. Abby and Stephen and Jenny were on their way back from a thankfully uneventful anomaly, and all was quiet, for a change.

            “Any luck with those sunspots, yet?” Cutter said, more to make conversation than because he was particularly interested in the results at that moment.

            “No.” Connor looked up at him with a smile that Cutter now recognised to be entirely fake. He had been missing the real smile for the last few days since Connor had come back to work, far too early in Abby’s quite vocal opinion.

            “We’ll find something eventually,” Cutter said.

            “Yeah. It’s just a bit harder to write analysis programmes with only one hand. And my off-hand, at that.”

Connor waved his left hand to demonstrate the point. His right arm was still supported in a sling, although Cutter was aware there had already been some debate amongst other members of staff about whether that was entirely necessary, or merely a bid for sympathy. Cutter actually agreed with Abby that Connor probably shouldn’t even be in work yet, but at the same time he understood the need to be doing something, just to avoid sitting at home and wallowing. It was something he had done enough times himself.

            “Come on,” Cutter suddenly decided. “What do you say we pack up for the night and go for a drink at that pub you were telling me about?”

            Connor stared at him like he had announced that Lester had spontaneously given them all a day off.

            “What, do you want to discuss the sunspots some more?”

            “Well, we can if you want, but I was thinking of getting a pint and something to eat, and just seeing where the conversation goes from there. Unless you have any objections?”

            “No, that sounds great.” Connor flashed the first genuine smile that Cutter had seen since before they had fallen into the cellar on the building site. It was gone in a second, but it was there, and it was real.

            Connor quickly logged off and switched off his computer, and they headed out together.

            “Can we see if the others want to come as well?” Connor asked. “They’ll be back soon.”

            For a moment Cuter almost said no. He had wanted this to be about him and Connor, to have each other’s undivided attention for a while without all the distractions of the ARC. He hadn’t had much chance to talk to Connor alone for the last few days, especially not with Abby hanging around him like an overly protective mother bear.

            Then he saw the hopeful look in Connor’s eyes, and relented. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt them to spend a little time relaxing together as a team. There would be other times for him and Connor. Besides, Cutter knew that really, Connor wasn’t the only one that he needed to talk to.

            Even amidst all the chaos and adrenaline, it hadn’t entirely escaped Cutter’s notice that when it all went to hell, Stephen was the one he wanted. Stephen was the one he instinctively thought of. And he hadn’t been the least bit surprised when Stephen was the one who had made the first kamikaze leap into danger to save them.

            He knew there was still a long way to go, but maybe working on that trust thing wasn’t going to be as difficult as he had thought.

            “Cutter?” Connor prompted, pulling him out of his thoughts.

            “Yeah, all right, then. Let’s give them a call once we get to the pub.”

            “Cool.” There was that smile again, and Cutter couldn’t help smiling back.

He held the door open for Connor, and let his hand briefly rest on the young man’s shoulder before they fell into step side by side. 

What Connor had said in the cellar before he lost consciousness had, by some unspoken agreement, been consigned to the list of things they didn’t talk about. Cutter wasn’t even sure whether Connor remembered saying it, although he suspected he did, if some of the embarrassed, awkward conversations between them in the aftermath had been anything to go by. Cutter had spent a lot of time thinking about it over the last few days and was rapidly coming to the conclusion that the reason why he had felt so awkward was the residual feeling that Connor was his student, and that he needed to maintain a professional distance. But the university was long gone now, and Connor wasn’t his student any more.

            And, all things considered, Cutter was inclined to agree with the last thing he had ever heard spoken by someone else who he’d had less than professional feelings about. In the words of Claudia Brown - stuff professionalism.

 

 


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Comments
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taricha From: taricha Date: December 30th, 2010 06:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was fantastic! I loved that you didn't make Mark out to be a cookie cutter copy of Connor, and that he was flawed and didn't work out and had to leave the team. And that fight in the last chapter, with dinosaurs darting in and trying to get at Connor rather than trying to bring down Cutter too - awesome.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: December 30th, 2010 08:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed this fic. None of the characters are perfect, they all have flaws and weaknesses, and that's what makes them such fun to play with. Poor Connor did have a hard time in that fight with the dinosaurs *pets him carefully*
prehistoriccat From: prehistoriccat Date: December 30th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great ending! I agree with Jenny - Connor doesn't need to know how his mother died, or that his father is a coward when it comes to the physical stuff.

I like how Cutter finally accepts that he doesn't have to keep up the Student-teacher thing any more, suspect things will get a lot better for them now.

And a "blink and you'll miss it" Conby moment ;)

Really sad this has come to an end - I have enjoyed every single word from start to finish.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: December 30th, 2010 08:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. Poor Mark just wasn't cut out for the dangerous lives they lead, and that wasn't going to change, no matter how much Connor wanted him to be the hero that he'd imagined.

And lol, yes, there was blink and you miss it C/A going on there. I'm actully surprised how little Abby ended up being in this fic. I'm sure I planned for her to be around more, but in the end she seemed to keep disappearing every time the boys started having angst, and only came out for the action scenes.
tay_21 From: tay_21 Date: December 30th, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was a great story. Fantastic job.

For this chapter: I loved Connor breaking down and Cutter finally allowing himself to comfort him. Great stuff. I suspected Mark of something like that. I actually though initially that he was much more complicit in his wife's death than he actually was, but this somehow seemed much more damaging. And yes, Connor should never find that out.

I'm so glad you wrote this. I really enjoyed it. :-D
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: December 30th, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yey! I got the 'you made Connor cry' icon! At least Cutter was around to comfort him this time.

I have to say I was quite intrigued by all the theories people were having during the earlier chapters about what had really happened to Connor's mum, but I couldn't say anything that might spoil the final revelation of the truth in this chapter.

Thanks for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
nietie From: nietie Date: December 30th, 2010 07:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think Mark is no coward confessing these things, even if it wasn't to Connor (yet).

Wonderful series. Great last line.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: December 30th, 2010 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, glad you've enjoyed reading it. I think they'll all be happier if Mark never tells Connor the full truth about what happened to his mum. But then again, this is primeval, and secrets from the past have a tendency to come back and haunt people!
lukadreaming From: lukadreaming Date: December 30th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great team action. And I like the way you've explored Connor's relationships with Cutter and Mark. And Cutter talking things over? Is that pigs I see doing stall turns? *g*
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: December 30th, 2010 08:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks. I think the whole thing poked Cutter into stopping taking Connor's hero-worship for granted, once he suddenly had a rival!

lol, Cutter has been known to talk sensibly about issues. Occasionally *grin*
jaynedoll From: jaynedoll Date: December 30th, 2010 08:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had a feeling it would turn out Mark had something like that when his wife died, it is sad that him and Connor couldn't have the classic father-son relationship but I guess too much had happened.

It was nice that Cutter was there for Connor and that he realised he didn't have to keep a professional wall up with Connor all the time. It was great to read a fic that explored their relationship. I wonder what would have happened if Cutter had survived for S4/S5.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: December 30th, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks. Hopefully with a bit of distance from the ARC and the constant reminders for Mark of what happened to him in the Triassic, he and Connor might be able to start building a proper relationship.

I'd have loved to see Cutter and Connor open up a bit more to each other in canon, to actually really become friends. Right until the end, there was always still that sense that it was unequal relationship of teacher/student, even when they weren't teacher or student to each other any more.
reggietate From: reggietate Date: December 30th, 2010 08:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Superb ending :-) I'm glad Mark finally came clean, if only to Jenny, and made the sensible decision to start a new life elsewhere. I suspect his relationship with Connor will be much better for it. And I'm pleased to see Cutter has realised he needs Stephen's friendship, too.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: December 30th, 2010 08:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, glad you've enjoyed the fic series.

Yes, I suspect that Connor and Mark can start fresh on neutral ground, away from the ARC, and they might be able to rebuild their relationship together. And hopefully if Cutter and Stephen start talking to each other and trusting each other again, we can avoid all that unpleasantness at the end of series 2!
bigtitch From: bigtitch Date: December 30th, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
This has been a brilliant series. Poor Mark, but it's the right decision.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: December 30th, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, glad you enjoyed it. It wasn't an easy decision, but it's probably for the best, and he and Connor can start fresh now.
canadian_jay From: canadian_jay Date: December 30th, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
*applauds*

Love it! Poor Mark - he's a great character. And I love the Claudia reference in the last line. *g*
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: December 30th, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. Poor Mark, he was an interesting character to write, flawed, but ultimately a good guy, and hopefully likeable.

I was having real trouble deciding how to end it (that may have been because it was gone midnight at the point when I was writing the final scenes), but then that Claudia thing came to me and somehow seemed just right.
rodlox From: rodlox Date: December 30th, 2010 10:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
a perfect finale.

how long was Mark in the Triassic? its possible his memory is emphasizing certain parts, to reinforce the guilt that he lived and his wife died.

>Connor stared at him like he had announced that Lester had spontaneously given them all a day off.
:D

> “Well, we can if you want, but I was thinking of getting a pint and something to eat, and just seeing where the conversation goes from there
isn't that how dates work?
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: December 30th, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, glad you enjoyed reading it. Mark was only in the Triassic for two months, although I don't think it was ever specified how long they were there before Gwen died, that probably happened much more recently. Although he may be being a little hard on himself after what happened to Connor as well.
fredbassett From: fredbassett Date: December 30th, 2010 10:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd been edging in the direction of there being more to Connor's mum's death than met the eye.

I'm glad Cutter recognised that Stephen was the one who jumped (literally) into danger for them and that he was showing signs of letting go of the past in that respect.

And yes, Mark wasn't cut out for anomalies.

I've enjoyed the series, thanks :)
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: December 30th, 2010 10:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks, I'm glad I've finally got it finished, it's taken several months out of this year, and was originally started way back in the summer of 2009!

All the way through I'd had it in mind to have a subplot involving Cutter and Stephen finally making moves towards a reconciliation, it just took Connor to give them a push in the right direction.
fififolle From: fififolle Date: December 30th, 2010 10:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
DOES NO ONE ELSE SEE THE SLASH???!! Just me, then. Okay.

I still get the punch in the gut when Mark confesses to Jenny. Poor guy. He was a great character and I'm glad he got back safe and got to be reunited with Connor, even if they are so very different. *hugs them*

Lovely story, and a wonderful Cutter :)

Well done you!
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: December 30th, 2010 10:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sporfle! Yes, Fi, it's just you that sees the slash here *rolls eyes* (either that or everyone is being too polite to mention it).

Thanks for doing the beta and poking it into shape (especially all those final final *final* revisions at the last minute!). And it had a more or less happy ending for everyone after all that angst.
aelfgyfu_mead From: aelfgyfu_mead Date: December 30th, 2010 10:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lovely wrap-up. I end up feeling quite bad for Mark, to my surprise. He's going to have a hard time living with himself.

Jenny made the right decision, though: Connor doesn't need to know. Connor can get along just fine visiting his father on weekends, and Nick seems to be doing a pretty good job as a surrogate father, amazingly enough! (I can't help but think when Connor's worried about his dad moving halfway across the country, "At least you live in a small country!" My parents are a thousand miles away!)

It's good to see Nick getting over some of his problems, too. He and Stephen seem to have gone a good ways towards patching things up.

I really enjoyed the whole story!
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: December 30th, 2010 11:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. Nice to know you ultimately liked Mark. He was flawed, but none of them are perfect, and he wasn't a bad person, just out of his depth in the situation he'd ended up in. LOL, yes, I see your point about the distance! I think it would be maybe a four or five hour drive from London to Whitby, so it's a long way, but certainly not impossible for a weekend.

Cutter seems to have worked out one or two of his relationships along the way, so it's a more or less happy ending for eveyone.
From: sdkptibor Date: December 31st, 2010 12:18 am (UTC) (Link)

Thanx

Really enjoyed your story. Thought that your characterizations were awesome
Please write more

D
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: December 31st, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thanx

thanks, glad you enjoyed it.
cordeliadelayne From: cordeliadelayne Date: December 31st, 2010 12:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Aw, this has been a great fic! Poor Mark, but he definitely made the right decision and nice to see them all working together and trying to make things right again.
deinonychus_1 From: deinonychus_1 Date: December 31st, 2010 03:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks. It was nice to have the team all working together at the end there, and hopefully starting to sort out their issues. Not everyone can be a hero, but at the same time not being a hero doesn't necessarily make someone a bad guy!
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