Disclaimer: Don't own Primeval/Smallville.
Sequel to: Primeval - Season Two
Somehow, despite the agony in her ankle Chloe managed to make it out of what would one day become Leek's secret hideaway into the night. The air was chilly and she hugged herself as she limped along, wondering just how far back she'd gone. It was obvious to her that for some unknown reason an anomaly had opened and tore her from the time and place where she was to meet a most gruesome death, and she was grateful yet confused. Why would an anomaly do so? Why that exact moment? That exact place? It seemed too precise to be coincidental. The fact that only she had gone through indicated that the anomaly had lasted mere seconds, not giving the menagerie of monsters around her any time to join her in this time. It was near miraculous but Chloe had spent too much time with scientists to take something like that at face value anymore. She'd learned that there was nothing coincidental. There was a pattern to everything, and this only added to the growing questions she had about her association with anomalies.
And her mother.
Chloe remembered what had seemed like seconds ago, her father and Stephen begging with her not to do what she was doing-but Helen hadn't spoken once. The blonde had seen the horror on her mother's face but there'd been awe there as well, and that didn't make sense. And then there'd been her mother's comments before about an experiment, about changing the past and seeing how it changed the future.
She went cold, wondering if this was just that experiment. Helen had said that the experiment would all depend on Chloe.
What if her mother had somehow managed to control anomalies?
What if she'd somehow programmed one to take her daughter to the past, knowing that Chloe's mere presence there would mess things up?
Fear filled her and Chloe's first instinct was to find her father, Nick would know what to do, but then she paused realizing that she didn't know exactly how far back she'd gone. Nick mightn't live in the same flat he'd been staying at, he mightn't have the same number...she might be playing right into her mother's games by going to her father before he even knew about her or about anomalies or-dear god-what if he hadn't even met Helen yet?
Her mind screamed its fear as she continued to limp down the busy street, no one paying her any mind despite her obvious injury.
She nearly didn't see the discarded newspaper, but gave a cry of relief when she did, picking it up and hobbling closer to the light of a store, reading the date. The blonde reread it once more, just to be sure that she was reading it correctly, before closing her eyes tightly. Three years. She'd only gone back three years. In this timeframe she had yet to step into the anomaly and start the chain reaction of events which would end up with her working for the ARC with her father and Stephen.
Helen's comments on Chloe's ability to change the circumstances of her entering the anomaly rang suspiciously in her mind, convincing herself even more that this was somehow all orchestrated by her mother for her own personal entertainment. This was a game to Helen, to see how the Time Child could change the past and thus force nature to...how had she put it again when talking about Claudia/Jenny and Ben/Hilary? Something about nature only allowing a certain amount of variation? Was Helen trying to see just how far she could push mother nature before mother nature started pushing back?
The whole concept was mind-boggling, and Chloe was terrified that just by the fact that she was here was going to do something horrible and change the future yet again. There was another her out there, in Maine if she remembered correctly. This her had never been in Smallville, had never known Clark or any of the others. This Chloe never met Ben. This Chloe was out there somewhere, doing something Chloe would never have any memory of because in three years time this Chloe would cease to exist and Chloe would take her place.
Chloe groaned, her head beginning to hurt her almost as much as her ankle.
Mind not on where she was going, Chloe bumped into someone, crying as her ankle throbbed with a vengeance and would have sent her tumbling ungracefully to the ground had someone not reached out and grabbed her. She whimpered in pain.
"Are you hurt?"
Chloe's eyes widened.
Her gaze rose from the broad chest to gaze into the face of a younger Hilary "Ben" Becker. He looked slightly different, and not just the age. His hair was longer, silky locks falling into his face, his clothes much more casual, two silver rings adorning his finger. The scar on his eyebrow was still there though, and that look in his hazel eyes...
Chloe gulped, unable to breathe, unable to look away. "I wasn't looking where I was going."
Her mind raced, trying to calculate the odds that something like this could actually be happening. How was it that out of all of the times that she could have been sent back that it was in the day and time in which she could stumble into Ben of all people? And yet there was no way that her mother was this omniscient. She couldn't have known what direction Chloe would head to once she escaped the building or that she'd bump into Ben reminiscent of their very first meeting.
"You're hurt." Ben's hazel gaze was narrowed on her leg, his grip still steel around her shoulders.
Chloe gazed down at her foot, which she wasn't touching the floor with, keeping it bent. "I am."
His gaze rose to her in narrowed confusion as he seemed to only now notice the disheveled, torn and slightly dirty clothes she wore. "You need to go to a hospital."
Her eyes widened in horror, knowing there was no way she could get out of that nest of dragons if she allowed him to take her to the hospital. She couldn't show her papers, which were issued three years in the future, and with no passport or any legal records of how she'd actually gotten into the country-no. There was no way she could go to a hospital!
Her horror must have shown on her face because Ben gave her a reassuring squeeze, eyeing her. "Why don't we sit down over there and have a coffee then? Help keep you off of your feet?"
She wanted to say no, to scream and race away, knowing that just by seeing him and talking to him she'd messed up something in her future. But she was in pain, alone, and Ben was the first and only friendly face she'd see.
How could one coffee really screw things up, anyway?
So despite the fact that her every instinct was screaming for her to say no, Chloe nodded. "Thank you."
He wrapped an arm around her and helped her limp towards one of the outside tables, seating her down before sitting across her. He eyed her in silence.
The weight of that gaze burnt her and she couldn't look at him.
"Are you running from someone? Were you attacked?"
What could she say? What should she say? Was there anything safe? Would a lie be as problematic as the truth?
"I'm fine now," she opted for instead of answering directly, gaze on the table.
The way he watched her betrayed that he didn't quite believe that, but Ben nonetheless didn't challenge her statement. "I'm Becker."
It was odd, hearing him introduce himself by his last name, and yet she figured it would be weirder than to hear him call himself 'Hilary'. "Chloe."
"From your accent I'm guessing you're American." He commented. "What parts of the great US of A do you hail from?"
What to answer? "All over, really. I've been doing a lot of...moving...lately." Oh how depressingly true that was. "Every time I feel like I can finally make heads and tails of my life I get unexpectedly uprooted and placed somewhere else."
"Job makes you move, huh?" He guessed.
"It seems more like a calling, than a job." She shrugged, hurrying to turn the conversation from her to him before he asked her what it was exactly that she did. "And what about you? From your accent you're most decidedly local."
He grinned, his eyes twinkling at that as he nodded. "Born and bred."
The waitress came and Ben ordered his poison of choice while Chloe ordered her own.
When the woman had gone Ben turned to Chloe. "I don't mean to make you uncomfortable, but would you mind if I have a look at your ankle? If you don't wish to go to the ER I'd like to take a look at it and make sure that it's fine."
"It's just a sprain," and yet Chloe didn't do anything to stop him as Ben changed seats to be closer and carefully raised her leg so that her calf was rested against his knee.
Ben's gaze was on her ankle as he rolled up her pants leg and then frowned at the bandages. He unwound them slowly, revealing the horribly inflamed skin beneath, a hiss escaping his lips as he saw it. "How exactly did you hurt yourself if you don't mind me asking?"
She minded very much. "I twisted it while running away from a rampant mammoth."
Ben looked up at her, lips twitching in amusement. "Were there a sloth and a sabretooth tiger involved in this incident?"
Chloe couldn't keep the chuckle from her lips, realizing that had a true prehistoric sloth and sabretooth been involved in her accident it really wouldn't have been a special day.
He smiled back at her, dimples deep, before his gaze returned to her inflamed ankle as he examined it. "Does this hurt?"
She jerked and cried when he touched it. "Yes!"
"This looks bad. You might have torn the ligament in your ankle." Ben frowned. "You really should go to see a doctor about this."
Chloe looked away.
He gazed at her before sighing. "My uncle's a doctor, if you like I could ask him to look at this when he's off shift in a couple of hours."
She really shouldn't. "I really shouldn't."
He poked her ankle, causing her to jerk and cry out in agony. "You really should."
"That's called bullying!" Chloe pouted.
Ben raised an eyebrow. "Where I come from, that's called being a Good Samaritan."
"I'm sure the Good Samaritan didn't poke the wounded dude while he was dying on the roadside." She pointed out before realizing that they'd had this very same discussion in her timeline.
Thankfully the coffees arrived, and Chloe had an excuse not to speak, Ben having left her foot resting up on the spare chair before returning to his own once more. They remained silent, staring at each other over the brims of their coffee, eyeing the other, sizing each other up. Chloe wondered what he was thinking, knowing she looked a mess and her story was spotty at best. He was probably thinking she was a crazy person who'd escaped a mental ward.
"I'm not an axe murderer." He finally declared.
The blonde choked on her sip, coughing. "What?"
"Are you okay?" Ben leaned forwards, frowning. "Didn't mean to scare you like that."
"You didn't scare me." She snorted at the very thought of Ben being scary. "You...surprised me. That was completely out of the blue. Random as hell."
He continued to watch her as she coughed slightly. "It's just that you were examining me so intently...I felt the need to clarify my offer as non-axe-ish."
This odd sense of humor was sharply surprising and Chloe found she liked it, even though it confused her somewhat. "Although axes were definitely not on my mind I'm much obliged to you for getting that future question out of the way."
"You're welcome." Ben smiled, taking another sip of his drink and leaning back against the seat. "Now that we have that clear, you should have no problem with my uncle giving your foot a look. He isn't fond of axes either."
Chloe held her cup to her chest, just eyeing Ben, fascinated by this side to him. "So axe-murdering isn't a time-honored family tradition."
"Most definitely not." He agreed, his face utterly serious. "I doubt most of the men in my family know how to properly handle an axe, much less wield it for nefarious purposes."
Chloe let out a bark of laughter before blushing, bringing her hand to cover her mouth at the loud, unattractive sound.
Ben smiled at her, dimples deep. "There. I knew there was a laugh somewhere in there."
She pouted at him, blush still lingering on her visage, before taking in a deep breath. "Thank you, for all of this. You don't know me and yet you're going out of your way to help me."
Just like he had in the future.
He cleared his throat and gazed down. "You can repay me by having my uncle give your ankle a look, make sure the ligament isn't broken. You won't get far on your own if it is."
Well...when he put it that way...
Chloe took in a long sip of her coffee.
She'd already changed something in the future by just being seen by Ben...how much more damage could she do by accepting a little much needed help?