faye_dartmouth: (stephen broken)
[personal profile] faye_dartmouth
A/N: I suppose we should see what mess the boys get themselves into this time…

Previous parts in the MASTER POST



PART EIGHT

-o-

“Collins?”

The sound of his name tweaked his consciousness, although he couldn’t say that the tone of the voice calling him was overly inviting. Too monotone, too devoid of life and personality. Mostly, too banal.

“Come on, Collins, I know you’re coming round.”

Banal and annoying. Somehow managing to be miserable and frustrating all at once.

“You can’t hide from your mess now.”

And there it was: the blame and the disappointment.

Billy groaned. “Bugger off, Fredericks,” he muttered, squeezing his eyes shut tighter as he tried to pull away, wondering by which cruel right this man saw fit to disturb his slumber.

“I’d love to,” Fredericks replied. “But unfortunately we still need you no matter how much you try to foul this mission up.”

The mission.

The ARC, the giant scorpion, Lester, Helen. Stephen.

Billy’s eyes shot open. “I’m supposed to be at the beach,” he said, the memory coming back to him with a sudden force.

Fredericks looked grimly rueful. “Yes,” he said. “And you were supposed to be briefing an entire special operations team to go with you. Instead, we found you here, taking a nap.”

Billy frowned. The motion aggravated the fresh soreness in his cheek and jaw. “Stephen punched me,” he recalled, although he couldn’t remember the hit that did him in.

“So it seems,” Fredericks replied. “Can you sit up?”

Billy pushed his way up, the room tipping just slightly as he found his equilibrium in a seated position. From his spot on the floor, he looked up to see Fredericks had been joined by the two guards from outside the room. Fredericks looked annoyed; the men looked mildly chagrined, and Billy realised what had happened. “He pretended to be me.”

“Went straight out,” one of the guards said.

“No reason to suspect anything,” the other added.

“Apparently Mr Hart managed to exploit one obvious weakness in our plan,” Fredericks said. “While you are adept enough to imitate him, he can do the same to you.”

Billy shook his head, half in wonder. “It’s a metacognitive mess,” he said. “He was impersonating me, impersonating him.” Billy looked up, a bit mystified. “I’m not certain, but that may defy the laws of physics.”

“Who knows, it might cause rifts in time that let out giant scorpions,” Fredericks said dryly.

Billy’s first response was to be annoyed. His second was to be duly embarrassed by all of it. But the reality of it overwhelmed those impulses. “The scorpion,” he said, struggling to his feet. Everything swayed for a moment and Billy put his hand out to steady himself. Fredericks lingered close but made no overt show of support. Determined, Billy shook his head clear. “Stephen is going after the scorpion. Alone.”

“So stupidity must be another genetic side effect you two share,” Fredericks said. He sighed. “Are you well enough to move?”

Billy nodded, choosing to ignore Fredericks’ predictable baiting. His instincts toward self defence were notable but his concern for the mission still had to take precedence. Now, more than ever. “I think so,” he said, feeling his cheek carefully. “Caught me good, but it wasn’t a serious hit.”

“That’s something, I suppose,” Fredericks said, somewhat resigned. “This is your mess, so you need to clean it up.”

Shaking his head, Billy said, “I don’t understand.”

“Hart,” Fredericks said as if it should have been obvious. “You need to get out there and find him. Now.

Fredericks demanding his help was still an odd reality to behold, but that wasn’t what gave him pause. “Why haven’t you sent out a team already?” Billy asked in pure incredulity. He didn’t know how long he’d been out, but he worked for the world’s premier spy agency. Surely they had contingencies and back-ups and measures for this sort of thing.

“Because you said you needed a few minutes alone with Hart before finishing the briefing,” Fredericks said shortly, clearly not impressed with Billy’s implications. “I assumed you were just taking your time, but then when you didn’t return, we had to search the building. When we found Hart missing, York ordered a bloody lockdown and for the team to mount a full search of the building until we worked out via surveillance footage that he’d left. He used your ID to get out and we can only assume he’s taken his car. If not for your phone, we’d have had to run a fingerprint test to confirm your identity. You let yourself get knocked out and now the entire mission is compromised.”

Billy’s stomach churned and his chest twinged. He wanted to defend himself, but the fact was, he couldn’t. Fredericks was right; he had screwed up. Stephen Hart had been his responsibility and he’d underestimated him every step of the way. He hadn’t thought the other man to be capable enough. More than that, he hadn’t anticipated the man’s desperation.

His first mission out, and Billy had misjudged everything.

Now the intel was at risk, the mission could be foiled, and Stephen Hart might die because of Billy’s ineptitude.

MI5 had contingencies, but Billy had been part of that contingency. Stephen’s knowledge had been the second part. And Billy had let himself get taken out of the game and let their main source of current intelligence escape. With one punch he hadn’t seen coming, Billy had compromised everything.

He took a breath. He couldn’t let it end like this. If not for his career, then for Stephen. He’d made a promise to the man – and another to his country – that he intended to keep.

“So we just go to the beach,” Billy said, looking at Fredericks with resolve now.

“Thank you for that brilliant insight, Collins,” Fredericks said. “Hart seems to be ignoring our calls, but tracking his GPS confirms his intentions. We’re still mobilising the special forces team on site with the proper tools. As a result, you’re going to have to head out on your own and hope they catch up quickly. The goal is to stop Hart and wait until proper back-up arrives. You are not to engage and you are not to let Hart engage.” He hesitated, clearly uncomfortable with his own decisive proclamation. “Can you handle that without consequence this time?”

“Shouldn’t be a problem,” Billy said, his bravado returning. “Besides, Stephen knows what he’s doing.”

Fredericks scoffed. “He knows about as much as you do, it seems.”

“He is good at what he does,” Billy said defensively. “Or he wouldn’t be alive, given what he does for a living.”

“Possibly, but have you not been living the mess that is his life?” Fredericks asked pointedly. “He’s a bloody civilian who just lost his friends and his job all in one day. He’s been sitting around here, moping, trying to break his way out because he has the most ridiculous martyr complex imaginable. Which was why we had him in here. For his protection.

And Billy had let him go. Billy had let him go to sacrifice himself.

“Anyway, we can’t take the time to properly fit you out properly, but we have finished with your watch,” Fredericks said, holding it.

Billy took it, feeling a mite sheepish. “The radio mic?” he asked.

“We’ll send it along with the tactical team,” he said.

Billy nodded. “Time is of the essence, then,” he commented, putting his watch back on.

“Like I said: it’s your mess, Collins,” Fredericks said. “So that means it’s time for you to clean it up.”

Fredericks’ intentions weren’t kind, but he was right. Billy didn’t like to admit it, but it was true. It was his mess; and he would clean it up.

Standing tall, Billy refused to let his doubts show. Not now. Not when it mattered most.

Fredericks inclined his head. “And for the record,” he added, “don’t worry too much about your job.”

The sudden softness surprised him. It sounded suspiciously like comfort.

Fredericks smiled. “Your career will be the least of your concerns if you single-handedly compromise national security with the most important intelligence issue of our time,” he said. Then he patted Billy on the shoulder. “That’s what you should worry about.”

And that was the Fredericks he’d come to know and loathe. Because really, as if the stakes weren’t high enough already.

-o-

Stephen couldn’t lie; capturing the scorpion alive felt good. He’d done it alone, trusting his own instincts, managing to protect the public, control the situation, all without further bloodshed or incident. He hadn’t needed Lester or Cutter. He hadn’t even needed Billy and the rest of MI5.

And he certainly hadn’t needed Helen.

He kept his call to Lester short and to the point, staying on the beach just to keep an eye on the scorpion until ARC special forces arrived. Besides, he hadn’t been sure what else to do. He wasn’t sure what the mission’s status currently was, and if he stayed here, surely someone from MI5 would be along soon enough to chew him out for leaving like he had. He could only hope that Billy was okay and that he wouldn’t suffer too much for letting Stephen get out.

Really, whatever wrath Stephen had coming his way was probably well-deserved, to some extent, considering that Stephen had assaulted an MI5 agent, assumed his identity and left in violation of what appeared to be a direct order.

Of course, said agent was impersonating him first, so he wasn’t sure that counted. And considering that he’d gone in voluntarily, he also wasn’t convinced they had any right to hold him.

Though, knowing Fredericks, he wasn’t sure that would matter.

He considered calling MI5 straight out, but he wasn’t sure his phone was secure and he didn’t want to get Billy in any more trouble than he was already probably going to be in. So the best option was to wait and hope the aftermath wasn’t too harsh.

Suddenly, his phone rang. Surprised, Stephen looked down. Helen.

It probably made sense, given that she’d said she was just going out to meet someone. Stephen had suggested tracking her phone based on the number he had, but the tech team had had no luck. With time, maybe, but Helen was smart and probably had access to technology that even MI5 had no knowledge of. She knew what she was doing.

At this point, it sort of made him hate her.

Fredericks would not be happy about Stephen handling this portion of the contact, but letting her call go unanswered was an even bigger risk.

Frustrated, Stephen answered. “Where have you been?” he asked, forgoing any pretence of caring about her. At this point, he was too tired, too confused, too everything.

There was a small inhalation of air on the other end. The small hesitation was uncharacteristic of Helen, and Stephen felt his senses tingle at the possible implication. He’d been through too much in the last day not to be wary.

“There isn’t much time,” Helen said, her voice hushed and breathy. “Lester kidnapped me. I got away but I need you to come and get me.”

Of all the things he’d been expecting, that really hadn’t been one of them. More lies, more seduction, more bitter truth, more teasing – all of it had seemed possible, probable even. But this—

Kidnapped. Lester had kidnapped her.

“Kidnapped!” he repeated, trying to get his mind around the idea. He might write it off – he wanted to – but given what he’d seen today… Given the depth of the plots. It could have happened.

What if Helen was legitimate? What if she had stepped on the wrong toes and got caught? MI5 was after her, couldn’t someone else be?

“Nick and the others are dead.”

The words came so sudden, so unexpected that Stephen thought for a moment he’d imagined them.

He had to have imagined.

Because…

They couldn’t be dead.

Nick couldn’t be dead.

It didn’t make sense. It couldn’t make sense. Stephen hadn’t even got to say goodbye. The last time he’d seen him, it had been via surveillance footage and the man had been firing him and punching him and—

None of it made sense. Nothing had made sense. Not since he’d gone to MI5. Not since Helen had come back through an anomaly and made a mess of everything. The world had stopped making sense, life had stopped making sense. There were too many lies, too many betrayals, too many hard truths.

If Nick was dead.

Then that would be why he wasn’t available to handle scorpion. Nick would never leave such a job unattended.

Unless he was dead.

The weight of it was stunning. Stephen’s breath left him and his head went light and his knees gave way. He didn’t try to stop it as he crashed to the beach, knees in the sand not far from the surf.

“Lester had them killed.”

Stephen wanted to protest, wanted to deny it. She was a liar, after all. She’d used him, time and again. He’d trusted her and she’d hurt him purposefully. She was trying to manipulate him and had been all along.

But it could happen. Lester as the traitor still made sense. Stephen had known the mole was a serious threat and someone up high. He’d known there were dangerous implications. That was why he’d done what he’d done, to protect his team…

He’d been worried about them getting hurt…

Getting killed, even.

He almost dropped the phone, almost passed out right there. It was too much. It was too much.

That was what he’d done. He’d tried to save them but by leaving them alone, instead they’d died on his account.

“Stephen, listen,” Helen’s voice came on the line.

Stephen couldn’t breathe, couldn’t stop himself from lifting the phone back to his ear numbly.

“Lester’s going to call you,” Helen continued. “Whatever he says is a trap. I’m going to tell you where I am and then I want you to throw your mobile away. They can trace you with it.”

If she only knew. Stephen had been off dallying with MI5 all day, and Helen was worried about him being traced. As if it mattered.

Stephen was a pawn in this. MI5, Lester, Helen, the mole. He’d been pushed and prodded, manipulated and manoeuvred. All he’d wanted was to do the right thing. Now he didn’t even know what the right thing was. He almost doubted there was a right thing. Short of making things better with Cutter, what else mattered?

Nothing.

Nothing.

Helen told him her location and he numbly committed it to memory. When she was finished, he hung up without saying goodbye. He had no farewells to offer; none that mattered anyway.

For a moment, he stared at the phone. Maybe it was a lie.

He was dialling before he could stop himself. Fredericks would be angry; Billy would be compromised but this was bigger than the mission. This was his friends. He held his breath while it rang. Cutter had a longer ringer, specially programmed because he always lost his phone and it took his twice as long as most to find it. It went to voicemail.

He redialled, still refusing to accept. When it went to voicemail again, his throat was so tight, it felt like he was choking.

Numb, he tried Connor. And Abby. Jenny.

Nothing. None of them answered. One or two, it could be a coincidence.

All of them…

Helen was telling the truth.

They were gone.

They were gone.

Stephen had tried to save them, and they were gone.

Stephen would go back if he could. Go back to yesterday, confront Cutter and thrash the whole thing out. He’d go back two weeks, two months, eight years – back to when this all began.

It was Cutter, he realised. Above all things, that was why he was here at all. That was why he hadn’t left when Helen disappeared. That was why he’d stuck around when she came back. That was why he’d gone to MI5 and that was why he was going to find Helen now. Because he’d do anything for Cutter.

On his feet, he looked out across the water and threw the phone as far as he could. It was a significant move, he knew. Fredericks would have 40 fits, but Stephen didn’t care. He might not ever see Fredericks again. Billy would take the mission’s failure hard, but Stephen couldn’t worry about that now. Not when Abby and Connor and Cutter…

Empty-handed, he turned back toward the beach, a broken determination building in his stomach as he faced the remnant of his life.

-o-

It wasn’t hard to find him.

For one, the beach was abandoned. Billy had pulled rank to get past the police barricades, and even then, they’d been reluctant to let him through. Half a mile or so past them, it was clear that they’d done a thorough job. There were no stragglers. It was a veritable ghost town.

He saw the massive scorpion first. It was tied to the pier and angry as hell. Billy didn’t scare easily, and the thing was smaller than the mammoth but no less terrifying. It lashed out recklessly at Billy, trying to spear him with its tail, hissing angrily when its leash pulled him back. Billy was more than happy to give it some space.

Billy was suddenly quite glad he hadn’t been here to lasso the thing. He was brave and trained and skilled, but no doubt this thing would have skewered him and had him for tea.

Which was the second point in why finding Stephen was inevitable. If the scorpion was restrained, then Stephen had been successful, which meant he was surely in the vicinity. He’d done it – alone.

And on the whole, Billy was looking for himself, which could never be difficult, even if he wanted it to be.

So when he saw the bedraggled figure coming toward him, Billy’s first instinct was relief. Because Stephen was alive; in practical terms, this meant the mission was salvageable. He also couldn’t deny a twinge of frustration, because Stephen’s rash actions had got Billy thoroughly bollocked by Fredericks and damaged his standing within MI5. Plus, the man had taken a cheap shot, so a little resentment was probably in order.

But then Stephen looked up.

At first, the other man didn’t seem to see him. His expression was one of shock – Billy had seen it before – when mothers lose their children, when husbands lost their wives.

Something had happened. Not just the scorpion, something else. Something bad. Billy approached him, standing in Stephen’s way and even then the scientist seemed to have trouble registering his presence.

“Are you hurt?” Billy asked, his mind dredging up the most obvious culprit. He scanned the other man, seeing nothing to suggest any kind of injury save for the graze on his cheek from their scuffle back at MI5’s home office.

Stephen blinked, his eyes finally settling on Billy. There was a flicker of recognition, but it was muted by a profound sense of loss. Shock, most definitely, though not of the physical variety.

More careful now, Billy approached. “What happened?” he asked. Somewhere in the distance, the scorpion hissed again. “Nothing wrong with our angry prehistoric friend, I hope?”

Stephen showed no sign of further comprehension. Instead, he took a breath and it hitched precariously, as if on an aborted sob.

Closer now, Billy reached out tentatively. Any lingering resentment he may have felt for Stephen’s stunt evaporated. “Stephen,” he said, gentle and quiet, his hand touching the other man’s arm.

The contact seemed to startle Stephen, and he flinched visibly. Then he swallowed, eyes focusing in on Billy. “They’re dead.”

Billy worked to keep himself calm. “Who’s dead?” he asked, refusing to let his mounting concern grow.

“Abby, Connor, the team,” he said. His countenance wavered. “Cutter.”

That would explain the shock, then. But that didn’t explain how or why. “How is that possible?” he asked.

Stephen blinked. He gathered a breath. “Lester,” he said, the words faltered. He took a ragged breath. “Helen said—“

Helen said. And that was explanation in and of itself. “Helen was here?” Billy asked.

Shaking his head, Stephen moistened his lips. “She phoned,” he said. “Told me Lester had her kidnapped. Had the team killed. I—” The words trailed off and he seemed to shudder. “She said she escaped and wants me to pick her up.”

In a few simple sentences, Stephen had just provided a wealth of information. Although, Billy had to admit, it wasn’t a lot of information that made sense. He had long entertained Stephen’s suspicions of Lester, but the ARC boss’s information regarding the scorpion had been accurate and his appeal for Stephen’s help had been earnest. Hardly the sign of a conniving traitor.

Unless, of course, the reason Cutter was missing and the team was unavailable was because of Lester’s own actions. He could be plotting something and still have a veritable emergency. In that case, Stephen would be a logical choice, able to handle the problem without risking compromising whatever plans Lester already had in motion. And people did have the remarkable ability to lie, some with more finesse than others.

Lester would have the resources and the capabilities, but the source of this information had to be in question. Helen had already proven herself to be manipulative, even in the most extreme ways. She had willingly ruined Stephen’s life and readily seduced Billy while believing him to be Stephen despite her obvious affections for Nick. This spoke loudly of her likely moral depravity and the depths of her schemes.

But would she lie about Cutter’s death? It seemed extreme, even for Helen. But, if she wanted to guarantee Stephen’s participation, then that would be sure to clinch it. She clearly knew Stephen’s weaknesses, and taking advantage of his concern for his team would be an ideal way to get him to do exactly what she wanted.

“What else did she tell you?” Billy asked, trying hard to keep his voice even. The last thing Stephen needed was another person telling him what to do.

“Nothing,” Stephen said, shrugging almost pathetically.

Billy wanted to demand answers, wanted to know why Stephen hadn’t asked for proof or more information or something, but Fredericks had been right about this much: Stephen was a civilian. He was capable and skilled and smart, but not trained in deception and prolonged manipulation. Given what Billy had seen of the mammoth and the scorpion, Stephen had been under extreme psychological and physical pressure for months now.

The fact that he was handling working on a top secret project was a feat enough; the unending machinations of Helen Cutter and a potential mole in the ARC was more than he could be expected to deal with.

In many ways, Billy was beginning to suspect this was Helen’s ploy. By emotionally sabotaging most of Stephen’s relationships, she was creating an excessive vulnerability in him that was much easier to exploit. And exploit it, she had. The broken man in front of him was plain evidence of that.

“Okay,” Billy said, resolving to be calm. “But she told you where she is.”

“Yeah,” he said, looking away from Billy absently.

“You have your phone?” Billy asked. “Can we call her back?”

Stephen shook his head vaguely. “No, I—“ He suddenly seemed confused as he looked at Billy. “I threw it away. She said it could be traced.”

That was true, and the fact that Helen was thinking that way didn’t encourage Billy’s faith in her. “But you remember?”

Stephen nodded again. “The abandoned Ministry of Defence site,” he said, relaying the exact coordinates numbly.

Billy mentally mapped it out, roughly gauging its location. There wasn’t much else there, which made sense with at least part of Helen’s story. If someone wanted to stage the kidnapping and murder of multiple public servants, then an abandoned site would definitely be the best option. Of course, it was also a great place to lure someone to set up some final plan, whatever that may be.

“Good,” Billy said, forgoing his own thought process. “That’s good. I can work with that.”

Stephen looked suddenly surprised. “I have to go and get her,” he said.

Billy’s heart stuttered a little, his sympathy panging in earnest. “I’m going to recommend against that.”

“But Cutter—“

“You can’t help Cutter by rushing in blindly after Helen,” Billy told him gently.

Stephen shook her head. “But if she’s telling the truth—“

“Then I’ll help her,” Billy said. “I promise.”

Stephen was looking at him readily, eyes wide. “The team…”

Billy reached out, squeezing Stephen’s arm again. “We don’t know anything for sure,” he said.

“I should be there.”

“You’ve done everything you can for them,” Billy said. “You were right to handle the scorpion. But you know I’m the better choice for dealing with a mass conspiracy and potential cover-up. If Helen’s telling the truth, I have the skills and backup to help. If she’s not, I’ll be better equipped to deal with her.”

There was the faintest hint of protest in Stephen’s eyes, but his willpower was clearly depleted. His burst of rebellion at MI5 had been impressive, but the knowledge of his friends’ fate had undone him.

For this, Billy felt responsible. If something had happened to Cutter and the team, their blood was on Billy’s hands. He’d made the choice to cut ties with the ARC. He’d deemed Helen the better source of information. He hadn’t believed that whatever was going on would reach a tipping point quite so soon. He’d believed he was protecting the others.

He was wrong.

And Stephen Hart was paying for it.

“I promise,” Billy said, earnest. “I will do everything I can.”

Stephen seemed to have trouble understanding. His brow furrowed, pain spiking in his eyes. “Cutter—“ he said, swallowing the word. “I never – I didn’t – he can’t be—“

Billy breathed, but his chest hurt. Thanks to Billy, Cutter might have died thinking Stephen an unredeemable bastard. The guilt was hard to deal with, so he channelled it to determination instead.

“I might not be able to bring him back,” Billy said. “But I’ll do my best to make it right.”

Stephen looked ready to break but he finally nodded. “Okay.”

“Okay,” Billy said, a fresh certainty welling up in him. “Stay here and a team won’t be far behind. Go with them, do what they tell you, and I’m sure this will be over in a jiffy.”

Billy let his gaze linger one more moment before turning back toward the car park. It was hard to leave him there, but this was for the best. Stephen had been through enough already. This was how it had to be.

But behind him, Stephen didn’t move, and if Stephen looked like he didn’t believe Billy, this time he wasn’t sure he could blame the man.

-o-

A few hours ago, Stephen had been ready to fight – and die, if need be. He’d wanted to take responsibility, to prove himself. He’d wanted to protect the public, protect Billy, protect his friends.

Now, Stephen didn’t know what he wanted.

He just wanted it to be over. Better yet, he wanted it to have never happened at all.

But it was pretty clear by now that Stephen wasn’t going to get what he wanted. Stephen wasn’t going to get anything at all.

Standing on the beach, he hesitated for a moment, watching the scorpion. It was angry, and rightfully so. It seemed impossible to think that not long ago, he’d almost been eaten alive by one, but Cutter had helped save his life.

And Stephen hadn’t returned the favour.

He wanted to believe that Helen was lying about the death of his friends, but there was just no evidence to prove her wrong. And with the way his luck had been going, it was far too easy to believe.

Turning away, he looked back towards the road in time to see the black vans pull up. They were barely parked when men started pouring out. They looked as well armed as Lester’s men, but the gear was slightly different. So this was Billy’s backup.

He had to hand it to MI5, they knew how to put on a good show. Pity they were too late.

That didn’t stop the men from fanning out, a large contingent moving toward the secured scorpion. More moved around, seeming to form a new perimeter when another familiar figure got out of the car.

Fredericks squinted in the bright light, but he seemed to find Stephen straight away. With a grim face, he jogged towards Stephen. “Collins?” he asked.

Stephen laughed bitterly. “You just missed him.”

Fredericks slowed as he approached, blinking in surprise. “My, the similarity,” he said, half awed. Then he shook his head. “You said I just missed him?”

Stephen nodded.

Fredericks looked confused. “How come?”

Stephen took a shaky breath, Helen’s voice haunting his ears. “I got a phone call from Helen.”

Fredericks’ eyes widened. “And you weren’t wearing any kind of monitoring device,” he said. “Of course. And it was pressing enough that Collins had to leave right away?”

Stephen couldn’t help but resent the man by his sheer exacerbating presence alone. “Helen wanted me to go and pick her up. She said Lester had her kidnapped.” He hesitated, the words still painful. “She said the others are dead.”

The words had their due impact, and Stephen felt some satisfaction at watching the shock register. Because this was Stephen’s fault, but it was Fredericks’ too. He’d been the one directing this mission, and he’d assured Stephen that the team was as safe as they could be.

Now they were dead.

Fredericks recovered, but the confidence was wavering in his eyes. “Did she have proof?” he asked.

Stephen almost rolled his eyes. “What? You wanted me to see the bodies?” he asked.

Fredericks proved himself to be marginally human and looked chagrined. “So I take it Collins is going to pick her up,” he said.

“Yes,” Stephen said.

“And he thinks it’s Lester?” Fredericks confirmed.

“That’s the only lead we have,” Stephen said.

Fredericks shook his head. “No,” he said. “Not any more.”

The weight of the day was wearing on him, and Stephen didn’t have the energy to play MI5’s mind games. “I don’t understand.”

At that, Fredericks sighed wearily. “You have the address for Collins’ destination?”

“Yes, but—“

“But nothing,” Fredericks said. He gestured to the car. “You’re going to want to come with me.”

Stephen’s instincts balked and he stiffened, stepping back defensively. “You’ve done enough—“

Fredericks’ expression was imploring. “I know it doesn’t mean much if I ask you to trust me,” he said, “but this time I think I have something you’re going to want to see.”

This time, Stephen believed him. He just wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing.

NEXT

Date: 2012-06-28 11:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] reggietate.livejournal.com
Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

That is all *g*

Date: 2012-06-29 11:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] faye-dartmouth.livejournal.com
That review kind of makes me smile. A lot :)

Thanks!

Date: 2012-06-28 12:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nietie.livejournal.com
OMG! The angst! The confusion!
This is so awesome!

Date: 2012-06-29 11:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] faye-dartmouth.livejournal.com
Sometimes I almost feel guilty for putting them through all this. Almost :) But it doesn't stop me.

Thanks!

Date: 2012-06-28 01:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] scwlc-fic.livejournal.com
Poor Stephen. Much more of this and his head will explode and there'll be no way to make it up to Cutter because his head will be all exploded. I'm delightedly awaiting the fallout.

Date: 2012-06-29 11:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] faye-dartmouth.livejournal.com
Fallout will come soon enough. First there are a few things like the cage room to take care of....

Thanks!

Date: 2012-06-28 01:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] judithjohn.livejournal.com
What sort of mess are the boys in? A right fine fic mess -and I love every messy word!
Edited Date: 2012-06-28 01:13 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-06-29 11:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] faye-dartmouth.livejournal.com
Ha! Yeah, it is quite messy -- and will just get messier :)

Thanks!

Date: 2012-06-28 05:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] goldarrow.livejournal.com
Ouch: “Your career will be the least of your concerns if you single-handedly compromise national security with the most important intelligence issue of our time,” he said. Then he patted Billy on the shoulder. “That’s what you should worry about.” Double ouch.

Whew for the scorpion/beach scene. I was terrified that Stephen was going to take off.

I read this entire part with my heart in my throat. Gulp.

Still loving it! And I have GOT to get some Chaos...

Date: 2012-06-29 11:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] faye-dartmouth.livejournal.com
Both Billy and Stephen have a lot riding on this mission, so we'll have to see how it turns out for them.

I'm thrilled you like it! And I totally hope you get some Chaos :)

Thanks!

Date: 2012-06-28 08:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] natchris.livejournal.com
*bites nails, then fingers in excitement*

Well worth, every ouch!

Date: 2012-06-30 07:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] faye-dartmouth.livejournal.com
I'm glad the building action is keeping you into it :)

Thanks!

Date: 2012-06-28 08:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] freddiejoey.livejournal.com
The twists and turns just keep coming at breakneck speed - and I have no idea where it's all hurtling to.

Terrific chapter.

Date: 2012-06-30 07:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] faye-dartmouth.livejournal.com
There was a lot going on in these eps to work with.

Thanks!

Date: 2012-06-28 09:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] knitekat.livejournal.com
Twists and turns and meep!

Need more.

Date: 2012-06-30 07:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] faye-dartmouth.livejournal.com
More will be up on Monday. Thanks!

Date: 2012-06-29 01:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] x-tremelylost.livejournal.com
Nooooooooo!!!!, I´m afraid for Stephen!!!!!!! and for Billy too!!! is just that Stephen is so vulnerable, and gullible!,
it was that way in the series! and you capture him just perfectly!!

Date: 2012-06-30 07:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] faye-dartmouth.livejournal.com
Poor Stephen just has no idea which was is up anymore. He did some dumb things in the series, but I always believed he did them with the best of intentions.

Thanks!

Date: 2012-06-29 01:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flaccidduck.livejournal.com
A brilliant read.

Loving this crossover.

Date: 2012-06-30 07:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] faye-dartmouth.livejournal.com
Thank you :)

Date: 2012-07-03 12:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kristen-mara.livejournal.com

I love Fredericks mistaking Stephen for Billy *G*

Poor Stephen and Billy reeling from Helen's announcement about the team... Knowing how things had been left between Stephen and Cutter. Eeeeeep.

Interesting summaries/observations about everyone, including Fredericks about Stephen!

Date: 2012-07-04 04:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] faye-dartmouth.livejournal.com
I still love the idea of Stephen and Billy coexisting. All the pretty...

I'm glad you're still enjoying it!

Date: 2012-07-05 11:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cordeliadelayne.livejournal.com
I love the way you're writing this! It's all one big eeek! *g*

Date: 2012-07-09 11:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] faye-dartmouth.livejournal.com
Eek is inevitable when working with these eps.

Thanks!

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