Characters: Nick, Claudia, and Helen
Spoilers: None because the series isn't defined in this
A/N: Thanks to telperion_15 for the idea and fredbassett for the push to write this. Also a big thanks to lukadreaming for being my beta on this! It's a little fluff-drabble inspired by the discussion of Nick's hair in series three. Also, I own nothing of "Primeval" that belongs to Impossible Pictures and I make no money from this, clearly.
Summary: After a run-in with some compsognathus (compys), Nick isn't feeling well and Claudia tries to comfort him. Complications arise when Helen shows up at Nick's house and confronts Claudia
III. Mad Woman - Gumption
"I asked you a question," growled the icy woman. There seemed to be a slice of delight in the woman's voice as if the mere thought of intruding upon something serene was but candy to a child. The question repeated itself, "What do you think you are doing with my husband?"
Forcefully driven awake by the cruelty in the voice, Claudia had no choice but to accept that she could no longer rest. Lifting her head from the back of the couch, Claudia stared at Helen and repressed a smirk. By the holes running across Helen's pants and the mess of mud and grass stains running along whatever wasn't torn it appeared as though Helen had a fight with nature itself. This would not surprise Claudia if it was true. To her, Helen was as untamed as a tiger and just as cunning.
Regaining a sense of composure, Claudia ignored the previous question and instead inquired lightly, "Was the great spirit of the past too much to handle this time Helen?"
The older woman gave a sniff of amusement before she responded in an even voice, "It was quite the contrary Miss Brown." She took a few steps forward and in her arms was a compsognathus. Helen observed Claudia tensing at the night of the small creature and grinned in delight. Her voice purred, "I found it to be quite pleasurable."
The bird-like creature with a thin neck and pointed face twisted its head around and chirped at Claudia. The coldness of its screech caused Claudia to jump slight and she began rubbing Nick's chest furiously. But Nick slept on, blissfully unaware of the danger that stalked in his living room. Claudia felt her heart quicken at Nick's unresponsiveness and immediately upon hearing Helen's voice again jerked her head up. This time she found that Helen was standing only three feet from the couch.
"I do not want to have to ask you this again, Claudia, but what are you doing with my husband?"
Claudia swallowed hard, her hand now at rest over Nick's chest. In a voice that reflected her unwillingness to be intimidated by this scornful woman, Claudia replied, "I am making sure that Nick got home safely from the last adventure."
"Why wouldn't he be all right?" Helen asked as she shifted from one foot to another. The tiny predator in her arms emitted a guttural caw, causing Claudia to cringe some. She hated those spiny little cretins! Inevitably her gaze was drawn back to Helen as the woman pressed, "He was able to drag himself to his sad little home and well... fall asleep. I would say that he's doing just lovely."
Claudia looked back down at Nick and saw contrary to Helen's statement. It seemed that Nick was even more sickly than she had remembered. Wasn't it only a few seconds ago that he had color in his cheeks? Now he seemed to show no color whatsoever. Closing her eyes, Claudia tried to calm her racing heart. Was he getting sicker? But how could he be sick when the medics said that he was fine? She furiously thought, "Get a grip Claudia! It's just the dim light in the house playing tricks on your mind!" Opening her eyes, Claudia absently took her hand through Nick's long hair and thought, "See, he's fine, just fine."
Smoothing the fringe back, Claudia let her hand slide gently down Nick's cool cheek as she finally responded, "I'm also making sure that Nick is getting his proper rest since he has been pushing himself to make sure that none of these creatures hurt others or themselves."
"Oh yes, Nick is quite the compassionate sort," said Helen with a sneering chuckle. "But clearly my husband is fine and you can go about on your way now."
Instinct told Claudia to leave however as her eyes rested on the crafty little hunter in Helen's arms she knew that she couldn't leave. After all that was said to Nick and all his gratitude for her being there, Claudia would not go. Letting her right hand travel tenderly over Nick's chest, Claudia concentrated her gaze upon the man she loved while responding to Helen in a firm, defiant tone:
"Nick invited me to stay. He is not well and I am looking after him."
"That is my job."
Nick had been courageous that day, saving the corner man with the business sign from the pack of compys. Fearlessly Nick had drawn the pack of savage hunters away and providing the escape for the man. However, such heroism could not go without consequences. Claudia knew how close that she had come to losing him. As she took in a quiet breath to calm herself, Claudia touched Nick's chin lightly with her fingers. Her love wove through the gentle care that she gave him, an endless stream of affection.
"Helen--" Claudia lifted her head at last and stared directly into Helen's dark and ominous gaze, "You left Nick over eight years ago. You came back through and watched him grieve for all these years. He could never forget you because he could never stop loving you. Yet you, you still left him with his bleeding heart. Do you honestly think that if you are caring for him, that you are doing a very good job?"
The warrior stiffened at the harshness of the words. Though delivered like a gentle breath, it was nothing but a cold wind in the dead of winter. Helen's eyes narrowed and she took another step forward, this causing Claudia to promptly wrap her arm protectively across Nick's chest.
Helen sneered, "Finally bold, are we Miss Brown? Don't forget that it was I who saved you from death. Where was Nick when you were really in a fix? He had left! What makes you think that he even remotely cares for you? What gives you such audacity to ask me if I actually care about him?"
Nothing could stop the pounding in Claudia's chest. She wanted to yell at Helen, expose her for the devious woman that she was! What woman could be so cruel to their husband and watch him suffer every second of his life without wanting to intervene? Helen was human but seemingly without compassion! How could she expect warmth returned to her? Claudia forced her gaze away from Helen for a moment and quieted her rapid breath. She couldn't respond in anger. That was precisely what Helen wanted.
Taking in a quiet breath, Claudia replied in the most patient voice that she could muster, "Because... because I love him, Helen." The words drew silence from the sulking woman and for a moment all that could be heard was the soft growling of the compy. The evil little thing! Ignoring the creature, Claudia continued, "Even if he does not care for me as I do, I will continue loving him and showing him all the affection that I have to offer simply because he changed my world and I am so deeply in love with him."
"Is that so?" Helen inquired with a raise of her brow.
Even though the woman said very little, Claudia could tell that Helen was plotting something. It was evident within her dark eyes the constant calculating that Helen was doing. Slowly Claudia began to move Nick and as she did so she hoped that Nick would wake up. But he was so lifeless in her arms that Claudia doubted that anything could wake him at this point.
"I wonder..." cooed the cold voice of Helen, "...if something were to happen to Nick and let's say he was..." the woman tilted her head and grinned wickedly at Claudia, "unconscious... would little Miss Brown be able to defend herself?"
Claudia froze, her fingers gently gripping at Nick's shirt. More of the compys's growling filled Claudia's ears and slowly her breathing increased. A single compy couldn't kill her, could it? Surely not! Claudia gently pulled Nick up into her arms and watched as his head rolled against her shoulder. Panic turned Claudia's blood cold and she gingerly began brushing Nick's cheek, calling out loudly to him:
"Nick! Wake up! Nick!"
"Sorry... but he can't hear you right now," smirked Helen as she began stroking the back of the small predator. The olive creature began chirping and waggled its arms briefly before nuzzling the woman affectionately.
Claudia turned a tear-filled gaze at Helen, demanding, "What did you do to him?"
"What I did?" Helen tossed her head to the side and let out a short laugh. "Oh, it wasn't me... the funny thing about these compsognathus is that they learn to trust things, especially those who are nice to them."
"What did you do to Nick!" Claudia nearly yelled, fighting the rage that was turning her fear into rage.
Amused at Claudia's grief, Helen replied in an infuriatingly serene voice, "Compys are better than watchdogs. They're small and agile, and in large groups, no human can defeat them."
"You -- tamed-- them?"
"That," smirked Helen as she puffed her chest with pride, "and more..."
Claudia slowly moved from under Nick and set him carefully back down on the couch. She pushed his hair back and placed a loving kiss t o the side of his nose. Though what Helen had in mind to do to her sent sold waves of fear down her spine, Claudia was determined to protect Nick. Taking one last look at Nick, Claudia gently caressed Nick's cheek before rising. She faced Helen and squared her shoulders.
"Your quarrel is with me Helen," said Claudia. "What is it that you want?"
Helen took another step closer to Claudia, the little compy growled at the other woman and snapped at her clothing. However Claudia remained still and simply lifted her chin slightly in absolute defiance to what she knew was on Helen's mind. The devious grin of Helen's grew but Claudia would not be bullied by this woman.
"I want you to disappear," whispered Helen. "And I am going to make sure that happens... by the very person whom you love..."
"I'm not afraid of you," said Claudia in an unwavering voice full of confidence. "You will find that I am not so easily defeated."
"Is that so?" Helen smirked a little before nodding her head in the adjacent kitchen. "Then what do you propose to do about all of them?"
Was this a trick? Finding herself unavoidably drawn to this mystery, Claudia adverted her gaze. Her eyes widened and her knees weakened. In an instant her heart began beating against her chest and it took all that was within her not to back away for along the table, the counters, and across the floor, was the pack of compys that they had earlier sent back through the anomaly.
"My my..." grinned Helen coolly. "What a predicament we have here. Are you not happy to see all twenty of them? Tell me Miss Brown, what is your grand strategy now that your brave hero is not here to save you?"