Disclaimer: Dragonfly does not own any aspect of Primeval. She owns the plotline and a hamster who insists on chewing on metal all night long.
Word Count: 3,767
Thanks to: My beta, L, who is also one of my closest friends and always knows how to tell me to buck up when I'm down. To those reading this, and hope you enjoy it.
Other: A sort of alternate break-up for Jenny Lewis and her fiancé. Maybe set just after 2.5? The Jenny/Nick-ness could be seen as friendship (but I meant it romantically). Take it how you like. Just for those fans of 'ITYWS', the next chapter is in the pipeline, but I'm really stuck on it at the moment. This is not me stalling, or trying to sate you. Honest.
Nick Cutter looked up at the stars. He was standing outside his office, alone as usual. It was about half-past-ten at night, and most of the other staff of the University had gone home. The only people left was those few lecturers who had to stay late, or those who resided there.
His dirty blonde hair was mussed from the thousand times a frustrated hand had raked through it in attempt to solve a problem. A smattering of stubble covered his lower jaw, giving him that rugged, Harrison-Ford-from-Indiana-Jones look that so many women craved for in a man. The roughed up academic.
Unfortunately, Nick hadn't had much luck with women. His first love, and wife, Helen Cutter (formerly Ambrose), had walked out on him after seven years of marriage with no explanation. Eight years later, he found himself being drawn to his colleague, Claudia Brown. They had been working together on the anomalies – doorways in time – along with some others. They could have had something, Claudia and Nick. There were definitely sparks between them. Hell, they even kissed twice. Two beautiful, surreal moments.
Claudia left as well, but unlike Helen, not by her own choosing. Cutter himself had gone through one of the anomalies, had come back, and she was gone. Not only those, but the rest of the team – Stephen, Connor, and Abby even Lester – didn't seem to know who she was. It was as though he had stepped into a parallel world without even realising.
That broke his heart a second time.
It most certainly did NOT help when he met Jennifer Lewis.
Jenny Lewis was Claudia Brown in every single way. The appearance was spot on, the personality was almost exact. She had the same kind of job, the same kind of disbelief when she was told what/who she was working with.
But Jenny Lewis was certainly NOT Claudia Brown. She was uptight, a stickler for the rules. She was a bit bitchy, to be honest. Nick reckoned she hated him too, most of the time.
He leaned on the railings of the balcony, head in his hands. Jenny Lewis was a person he could do without in his life. Aside from being Claudia's biological double, she was the stereotypical, politically obsessed official. A female version of Sir James Lester, in a way. There was no way she could ever click with a 'maverick' like Cutter.
He sighed to himself. Sometimes he thought – he knew – that his life would have been so much easier if he had just ignored that newspaper headline, shown to him by Connor so long ago. If he hadn't traced it, and become a part of the anomaly team. Just stayed a normal, palaeontology professor, studying Darwin and missing his own lectures at the University.
Weird to think that if he HADN'T followed up the Gorgonopsid sighting, that he would never have met Abby and Jenny/Claudia. Stephen was an old friend, and Connor was one of his students. However, Abby was a zookeeper and Jenny/Claudia was in the government.
Wrapped up in his own thoughts, Cutter had failed to notice the approach of a person. He didn't turn around. The voice was easy to recognise. After all, it was said in her voice.
"Sometimes I do wonder what goes on in your head."
"What are you doing here?" He asked. Now, and only now, did he turn around. He raised an eyebrow in surprise, and felt a twinge of something in his stomach. Jenny was watching him carefully. She looked a lot less uptight than usual.
Wearing a plain black skirt and white blouse, her hair was still tied back. She looked pretty much the same to the untrained eye. However, Nick, who had been working with her for months, could see that her hair WASN'T in its customary bun. Instead, it was a simple ponytail. Sure, the make-up was still there, but it was just a little mascara and eyeliner, with no foundation. Plus, she was wearing a smile.
"It's a free country." She replied smoothly to his question, coming to stand beside him. She leaned on the railings. Nick was a bit unnerved by her presence.
"So what are you doing here?" She shot back. Nick gave her a lopsided smile.
"In case you hadn't noticed, this is my office." He raised an eyebrow towards her, causing her to chuckle lightly. That surprised him even more. Jenny didn't have a sense of humour.
There was an uneasy silence.
"No, seriously, Jenny, what are you doing here?" He asked. This brought a sigh from her. Nick watched as emotions flickered across her face, before settling on blank and unreadable.
"I needed some time to think."
"Here seemed to be the best place to do it?" Nick inquired, a gentle smile appearing on his features. Jenny nodded. Another silence divided them. Why was talking to her so hard? Nick silently wondered. He realised that, despite having worked together for so long, they had made little effort to get to know each other. He barely knew anything about her.
"Nick, do you like stars?"
How incredibly random. He hadn't heard that one used as an icebreaker before. He glanced up, to where the tiny dots of light sparkled brilliantly in the darkness of the sky.
"Sometimes. They're very pretty." He gestured towards them vaguely. Jenny was quiet for a few seconds, wrapped up in her own thoughts. Then she turned, looking at him properly, as though she wasn't just looking, but seeing.
"Cutter, what's the scariest situation you've ever been in?"
God, what was this? Question Cutter Night?
Obviously he couldn't tell her one of the truest scary situations he had been in. That would have been way back when, when he and Claudia were trapped in the golf course hotel. Just a flash of fear, when he saw that explosion from the windows of the hotel kitchen. A flash which tingled from the pit of his stomach, through his bloodstream, freezing every cell in his body. When he thought that she might have been…she was…dead.
"It's got to be a tie between two. One, when I first saw the future predator. Nobody had ever seen one, so nobody knew how to fight one. Two…when I read the note that Helen wrote when she left." He said, feeling obliged to answer somehow. To his absolute horror, a tear streaked down Jenny's face. He didn't want pity. Not from her. Then he noticed she was rubbing her hands together, in an obsessive-compulsive type of way.
On the fourth finger of her left hand, the platinum, diamond-set ring, was missing.
"Jenny…is this about your fiancé?" He asked gently. She breathed deeply, trying to force herself to take control of the situation.
"What's going on?"
She stared straight ahead, resolute that she was not going to show a 'weaker' side to her companion. This made Cutter even more worried than he already was.
"I'm doubtless that you have your own problems to deal with, Nick, but I needed someone to talk to, and you just happened to be the person who came to mind." Her voice was shaky, usually stern visage crumbling.
"I found out that Mark…that he's been having an affair for six months."
Nick watched, unsure what to do, as she slowly broke down.
"The woman…She's pregnant. When I confronted Mark, he said it was 'just sex'. He said, 'it's just sex, Jen, it doesn't mean anything." Jenny slammed a fist half-heartedly onto the railing, face dropping into a mix of sorrow and anger. Cutter didn't know what to do. He turned, just to pace away a little. A voice in his head stopped him.
Nick, don't leave me!
"How can it be 'just sex' if she's pregnant? Am I not good enough for him?" She accused herself fiercely. That was it. The metaphorical straw that broke the camel's back. Nick Cutter had had enough. He didn't want Jenny beating herself up over some jerk. He marched back to where she was standing, with her head in her hands. Gently, hesitantly, he folded his arms around her.
"Don't beat yourself up. He's a bastard. A bastard who doesn't deserve someone like you, Jenny Lewis." He said softly. He was startled when she turned around, pressing her face into his khaki T-shirt, dampening it instantly with her tears.
Well. When Jennifer Lewis walked onto the scene all those weeks ago, he'd never have conjured up this situation. He stroked her hair comfortingly, breathing in the scent of expensive perfume, the clean smell of her shirt, the warm smell of her hair. The scent of…no, not Claudia. Jenny.
"Do you know what the worst thing is? I believed that he could give me everything. A nice house, a secure finance plan, love, maybe a couple of children in the future. And in a single moment-that's all gone." She murmured. Nick held her close. It was strange. When he thought of the team, it had always been Stephen, Connor and Abby. Jenny was the outsider, the government tagalong. Now, however…
"I know, I know." He soothed, words muffled by her hair.
That Mark must have been a right moron to reduce Jenny to this. He made a silent vow to introduce the man to the business end of his fist.
"Now I don't have anywhere to go. It's Mark's house. We split the mortgage between us, but his name's on the papers. I suppose that his 'bit on the side' will move in now." She said, smiling humourlessly. Cutter tightened his strong arms around her. For such a loud and authoritative woman, Jenny seemed very small.
"I would ask Connor and Abby to let me stay for a couple of nights, but there's the fact that there's already two of them. Stephen also came to mind, but…you know…"
Nick understood. Stephen and Jenny didn't see eye to eye, to put it frankly. Connor and Abby were out of the question, seeing as they were already squashed in, with all Abby's reptiles, Rex and the two of them.
"I'd suppose you'd better come with me." Cutter let her go and gestured for her to follow him.
He locked up his office, making sure that it was all still in it's perfectly organised messy state. He jogged down the steps to his 4x4, followed by Jenny. Looking around, he didn't see another car. Realising his confusion, Jenny nodded.
Her old house was several blocks away. She had obviously been quite anxious to see him.
"Get in." He told her. She did so, strapping herself in as Nick pulled away from the kerb. In the short journey, he found himself wondering. Were Jenny and Claudia as different as he had first assumed? Jenny came across as a nose-to-the-grindstone businesswoman. Was this the real her?
He risked a glance in her direction. She sat very straight in her seat, yet her eyes were a little red around the rims to prove that she had been crying.
He parked outside the garage of his home. The home he'd bought just two months ago, after shedding his old one, as he had with many of the possessions he had shared with Helen. The house had been her choice, and he had clung to it in the hopes that maybe she would come back to it, to him, one day. His new one was a bungalow. Rather squat, it stood in tangles of roses, ivy snaking along the path and creeping up the buildings. Nick hadn't bothered to trim them. He rather liked it like that, in fact.
"Here we are." He declared, leading Jenny up the unintentionally-crazy-paving path. Surprising him again, she stopped to stroke the petals of a withering cream coloured rose.
He opened the wooden door and allowed Jenny to enter first. She breathed in quickly.
"Home sweet home." She murmured. For a second, Nick saw a flash of Claudia-esque wonder in her face. And oddly, standing slightly behind her in the doorway, he thought that, even in her posh suits and everything, she looked right in his house.
His front room was decorated with fossils, skeletons, heavy books and lots of pine furniture. A big fish tank dominated one corner. It's inhabitants, two red-eared terrapins, watched Cutter enter, a look of curiosity on both scaly faces. It had been a long time since he had brought a new person home.
"Come on. The bedroom is this way." He led the way through a set of double doors, indicating the toilet on the right. Jenny nodded, taking everything in with a silent fascination. It was strange, being in another mans house after being with Mark for so long. As if by magic, her phone buzzed, signalling an incoming text. She held up a hand to Nick while she read it quickly. Of course, it was Mark.
Jen, come back. I said I was sorry. If you love me, you'll come back. I'm not whole without you. M xxx
It made her feel physically sick, his emotional blackmail. Cutter noticed her expression, and frowned with concern.
"Something wrong?" He asked. Jenny shook her head hastily.
"Nothing. Just my…balance." She lied quickly. Furiously she typed back,
Not coming back. Am staying with friend. Would appreciate if you dropped stuff off at my mothers. Please don't text back. Jennifer.
Cutter watched her. He wasn't convinced. You didn't reply to balance messages. He pushed the door open to the one bedroom in the bungalow. Jenny, again, entered first, absorbing her surroundings.
The walls were practically bare- just two frames hanging on the wall. A certificate, designated for a Mr. Nicholas Cutter. And a picture of a young man. He had thick, straw coloured hair cut short. He was wearing the robe and hat of a university graduate. He had a cheesy grin on his face as he accepted the award from an older man. The young man seemed to be the kind of guy who was surrounded by friends but had maybe three close ones.
Nick walked past Jenny as she studied the photograph.
"Yeah, that's me." He said dismissively. So this was what the scholar Nick Cutter looked like. Jenny observed the unfamiliar face. It seemed as though the young Nick had nothing to worry about but exams. His carefree good looks had seen nothing of the hardship which his older self had experienced.
The rest of the room was completed with a large, white double bed, a saggy black couch that seemed to be on he verge of collapse, a wardrobe and a small table. The wardrobe reminded Jenny of something.
Cutter turned to hear her out. However, her mobile momentarily distracted her again. She put up a finger, indicating him to wait a moment. Mark had replied to her text, much to her annoyance.
I bet you're with that Carver man. Fine, do what you want. You tore us apart, Jen. I'll drop your stuff off at your mothers tomorrow. Mark.
She didn't bother to reply. Instead, she turned to phone off, throwing her hands into the air as if she didn't care. To her absolute chagrin, another tear trickled down her chin. She took a deep breath, but it didn't help. Nick gazed at her.
"It's that fiancé of yours, isn't it?" He asked. Jenny sniffed, and nodded. He held out his arms to her. Another dampening wouldn't matter.
"Come here." He offered. Jenny took him up, moulding her body to his. She couldn't believe that a five-year relationship could end so fast. She was glad that steady, dependable Cutter was here. Gentle, handsome Nick…wait where did that come from?
After a brief embrace, Cutter moved away.
"You can sleep on the bed. I'll go out to the sofa in the other room." He offered generously.
"Yes…about that, Nick…I haven't got any of my things. No night-clothes or anything." She sounded awkward, and that was how she felt.
Nick looked incredulous.
"What did you do? Find out about Ms. Pregnant Woman and leg it?" He asked.
That was precisely what Jenny had done. After entering her house and finding Mark, unusually home from work and on the phone, she had gone to greet him. As she had rounded the corner into the kitchen, she found him, twirling the phone cord around his finger like some schoolgirl, back to her and murmuring,
"I know, baby, I know…I'll leave her soon and then you an' me an' the kid can all be together as a family."
She had fled. Mark obviously heard the door slam or something, as she had heard him swear, before pounding after her into the street, resulting in a full-blow no-holding-back row in the middle of the street.
She nodded in response to Cutters question, mouth drawn into a thin smile. Sighing deeply, he opened his wardrobe and rooted through, until he found a large, baggy cream t-shirt. He handed it to Jenny, suppressing a smile. She really was one of a kind, and he was being a little too generous, but what did it matter? She was a friend in need. He'd do it for Abby, Connor or Stephen. He'd even do it for Lester. Okay…maybe that was a bit far.
"Change into that. You want a drink?" He asked. She raised an eyebrow at him, taking the t-shirt.
"No thanks." She replied, eyeing it with an element of distaste. Nick smirked, but not in a nasty way. Just in a you-haven't-changed-at-all way. She was still Jenny after all. He meandered back to his kitchen and poured himself a strong coffee.
When he returned, drink in hand, he found Jenny lying in bed, eyes closing slowly. He chuckled.
"Night, Jenny." He said lightly, pausing to study her. She looked so small in that big bed on her own. He wondered how long it had been since she had slept alone. He began to walk out of the room, ready to kip on the sofa. However, just as he slid out of the door, he heard her.
"Nick…please don't leave." She murmured sleepily.
Nick froze. Did she want to sleep with him? That was ridiculous. She was still stinging from the break up probably. He didn't want to play any part in rebound sex. Not only was it stupid, it lead to extreme awkwardness afterwards.
Then again, he supposed he should stay. She was in a new place, so surely she'd be rather scared if she woke up alone. He set his mug down on the bedside table, and grabbed a manky old blanket from under the bed. He spread it on the dying couch, and sat down, sipping his coffee and watching Jenny.
Jenny had only been in two situations in which she had felt completely and utterly safe with a man while she was sleeping. Once had been with Mark, a feeling which had continued throughout their relationship. The other was right now, here with Nick. Somehow she didn't want him to leave her alone. She felt far safer knowing that the blue-eyed Scotsman was there. There was a warm feeling in the pit of her stomach, knowing that he cared about her so much. That was quite new. She would have to investigate such feelings more in the morning.
It had been a long day for Jenny. Although there had been no anomaly reports, Stephen seemed insistent on driving her crazy by contradicting everything she said or did. Connor was all in airy-fairy land about his girlfriend, which, in turn, made Abby irritated. Nick had been a constant throughout all the madness. Then, of course, there had been the fiasco with Mark.
Just as she began to drift off, she heard Cutter pad closer to her. She knew he wouldn't take advantage of her – he wasn't that kind of man – but, unconsciously, her heartbeat quickened. He put his face very close to hers. She could smell coffee-sweetened breath on her face.
Nicks lips brushed her forehead very gently.
Jenny sighed lightly in her 'sleep'.
"Goodnight, Jenny Lewis." He whispered.
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