fredbassett: (Ryan 6)
[personal profile] fredbassett
Title : The Sky’s the Limit
Author : fredbassett
Fandom : Primeval
Rating : 15
Characters : Claudia/Ryan
Disclaimer : Not mine, no money made, don’t sue.
Spoilers : None
Summary :
A/N : This forms part of my Claudia/Ryan series that follows the events of each episode. This is for Episode 5 of Series 1, the Pteranodon ep, and is being posted now 52 Weeks of Primeval on [livejournal.com profile] primeval_denial.

“Four hours? I told you to seal the perimeter, not dry stone wall it! I want it done in an hour. Where’s the golfer’s body?” Claudia knew her tone was sharp, but it took more than her sarcasm to rattle Ryan’s composure.

“In the casualty clearance centre in the main house.”

“Are there any more victims?”

“None we know of.”

“Good. Keep me briefed.” Claudia allowed a small smile of apology onto her face.

Ryan gave her a slight nod and moved off to chase up his men, leaving Claudia to talk to Cutter and Stephen, who’d been trying to get some sense out of the shocked golfer, a man called Jeff who’d had the misfortune to find the gory corpse of his friend, but the good fortune to have been in the undergrowth when whatever had carried out the attack had come calling. He probably needed a mug of sweet tea and treatment for shock rather than one of Cutter’s none too sympathetic debriefs but, as ever, time was of the essence and they couldn’t afford to pussyfoot around people’s sensitivities any more than strictly necessary.

Oh God, even to herself, she was starting to sound like James Lester. And speaking of which…

“What did he see?” she demanded, knowing Lester would want a report.

Cutter shrugged. “All over by the time he got there.”

“Have you found the anomaly yet?” Yes, she was definitely starting to sound like her boss.

“Well, we’re not absolutely sure there is one yet. And I need to see the victim.”

Presumably sensing her impatience, Stephen gave her an apologetic look and went back over to the golfer. She’d have to hope that Stephen could charm some sense out of him.

Claudia took a deep breath and focussed her attention on Cutter. She had something she needed to say, and it wasn’t going to improve with keeping, as her grandmother had often said. “Look, I think I should warn you. Lester’s getting impatient. Thinks you cause more problems than you solve.”

Cutter fixed her with a hard stare from a pair of very penetrating blue eyes. “What do you think?”

“I think it would be helpful if I could show him we’re making some kind of progress.” And that was nothing short of the truth. Like Lester, she still felt that they were very much working in the dark, and she agreed with him that Cutter was a maverick who lacked direction, but he was the only person who seemed to know anything about what they were facing. Despite Lester’s views on the man, she couldn’t exactly look up ‘dinosaur hunters’ on Google, or add the rider ‘extensive experience preferred’.

“Or what?” Nick demanded, not giving an inch in his usual combative style

“Or it becomes difficult,” Claudia conceded.

That was all the excuse Cutter needed to fire up. “Look, Lester doesn’t own this. The government doesn’t own this. If you really want to help, keep him off my back!”

Claudia knew delivering Lester’s ultimatum had been a bad idea, but if she hadn’t said something, she would only have been left to pick up the pieces from Lester’s own particular brand of gunboat diplomacy.

“Please don’t make me take sides, Nick,” she said, not even trying to disguise the note of entreaty in her voice.

* * * * *

Claudia desperately needed some fresh air.

The site of the dead golfer’s – Andy’s, the man had a name, damn it – dead body had made her feel sick. The flesh had been torn from his bones, leaving them almost stark white in places, reducing a man to something that wouldn’t have looked too out of place in a butcher’s shop. Her own butcher kept trays of bones for dogs that looked pretty much like what she’d just seen, although they weren’t laid out in the form of a man.

Cutter was right; they were looking for a creature of devastating power and savagery. Something that had, without a doubt, come through an anomaly, and she needed to make sure they found it before it reduced anyone else to the same state.

* * * * *

Claudia heard Abby and Stephen yelling Connor’s name. With a nasty sinking feeling in her stomach, Claudia started to run towards the fairway of the gold course.

When Cutter started calling for Ryan, she knew the creature had been sighted.

The both arrived from different directions almost at the same time. The black uniformed captain and two of his men outstripped her for speed, but she wasn’t far behind them. Her time spent in the gym was obviously starting to pay off, not that she’d had much time for recreational running recently. As she ran, she caught sight of Connor at the far end of the fairway, holding onto his hat and chasing something that looked remarkably like the small lizard that Cutter had taken back into the Permian.

“Get into the trees!” Abby yelled.

Stephen was somewhat less diplomatic. “Run, you idiot!”

Claudia watched as something that even she recognised as a Pteranodon swooped down over the green strip flanked on either side by trees and followed Connor who, true to form, was obeying one instruction while completely ignoring the other one.

Claudia made a rapid assessment of the situation and then declared, “Shoot it.”

As expected, her instruction didn’t find favour with Nick. “No, wait a minute! There’s something about this that doesn’t add up.” He hesitated a moment and then added, “I’m just not entirely sure what it is yet.”

As far as Claudia was concerned, this wasn’t time to indulge one of Cutter’s hunches. Clear and present danger to a human being far outweighed Cutter’s desire to preserve the creatures at any cost.

“Do it,” she said without hesitation.

“No! We should only kill these creatures when there’s absolutely no other choice!”

“Choice? What other choice?” Lester was right, the man was a dangerous maverick. “In a matter of seconds, Connor’s going to be ripped to shreds!”

“We can’t take that chance.” Stephen, at least, was on her side.

“Follow your orders, Captain,” she told Ryan, knowing that he wouldn’t hesitate to do her bidding.
.
“Yes, ma’am.” The soldier tracked the Pteranodon with his rifle for a heartbeat and then squeezed the trigger.

His shot went wide as Cutter pushed him to one side.

“Nick!” Claudia felt hot anger rise in her.

Ryan fired again then declared in a voice of steel and ice, “It’s out of range.”

Claudia watched helplessly as the Pteranodon swooped above Connor and the small lizard just as they launched themselves into a small incline on the course. Even at that distance she could hear Connor’s relieved laughter. Ignoring the babble of voices around her, Claudia did her best to wrestle her anger under control, but that became even harder when it became clear that the lizard was the one that Cutter was meant to have returned to its own time. It seemed that Abby and Connor had been keeping the creature as some sort of pet. How the hell that had happened, she didn’t know, but she was damn well going to get to the bottom of it…

“Lester was right,” she declared angrily, cutting across all of them. “You people are a menace! What do you think we’re doing here, Nick? Playing some kind of game?”

Refusing to be placated by Cutter or Stephen, Claudia stormed off, with Ryan at her heels.

* * * * *

After his idiocy on the golf course, Claudia wasn’t entirely sure how she came to allow Cutter to persuade her to allow him a chance of bringing down the Pteranodon with a tranquilliser dart rather than a steel-jacketed bullet. But as the huge creature swept towards her, possibly the most majestic and terrifying sight she’d ever seen, she wished she’d been a lot less soft-hearted.

Stephen finally took the shot, and this time the feathered dart hit its intended target. The Pteranodon crash-landed on the rooftop, skidding towards her as she backed up into the corner, rapidly running out of anywhere to go. Just when she thought it was going to spear her with its long, menacing beak, the creature juddered to a halt at her feet.

“That’s it, Cutter. No more favours.” The words positively exploded out of her mouth as all the pent-up frustration of dealing with this rag-tag bunch of amateurs seemingly hell-bent on chaos and destruction combined with the sharp rush of fear and swept away any reticence she might have felt over giving orders. “From now on we do this my way! I take the decisions.”

A sudden screech from the Pteranodon stopped her intended diatribe in her throat, but before Claudia could react, the creature suddenly flailed at her feet, something struck her very hard under the chin, snapping her teeth painfully together and then everything went black.

* * * * *

Claudia’s day had deteriorated even further. Knocked out by the Pteranodon, she came around back in the old manor house, almost blind from the effects of concussion. She’d then been nearly eaten alive by a swarm of vile little winged creatures, the ones that had stripped the flesh from the golfer’s bones.

What Claudia didn’t understand was why Helen Cutter had suddenly displayed an altruistic side to her character that no one had suspected existed. She was still shaking with reaction when Ryan had approached the smoking ruin of kitchen, a quizzical expression in his concerned grey eyes as he’d eyed Cutter standing there with the cigarette lighter in one hand and the gas canister in the other.

Ryan, ever the consummate professional, did no more than cast an appraising eye over her, taking in the bloodstained clothing, her probably still unfocussed gaze, and the fact that she’d lost her shirt somewhere along the line. But he had enough experience with injuries to realise the blood wasn’t hers.

In response to Ryan’s quizzical glance in his direction, Cutter said wearily, “What? Yeah, it was me. It was me with a Zippo and a bottle of flammable gas.”

Ryan allowed himself a small smile. “Looks like you’re auditioning for a place amongst my lads, Professor.” Ryan’s respect for Cutter had always been evident. Claudia knew the captain admired the man’s belligerent intelligence even if the two of them didn’t always see eye to eye in the field. She also knew that Ryan had come very close to decking Cutter again after the episode with the Pteranodon and she wouldn’t have blamed him. Cutter’s self-belief could be particularly trying at times, especially when he was unable to explain his flashes of intuition.

Claudia was desperately tired, her head hurt and her legs felt like jelly, but she still had a job to do.

“Cutter, I take it we still have a dinosaur to deal with?”

“It’s not actually a dinosaur,” Cutter began. “Technically….”

Claudia held up both hands in a defensive gesture. “Nick, no lectures, please. Let’s just get on with whatever needs to be done.” Her head hurt, she was tired, confused and didn’t want to think too closely at the moment about the fact that Nick Cutter had kissed her when she’d woken up in the temporary casualty centre that they’d set up in the hotel. That had been unexpected, and she hadn’t handled it the way she should have done. But a smack on the head from a Pteranodon coupled with the terrifying inability to see had played havoc with her professionalism. She’d wanted to tell Nick he was barking up the wrong tree, but her head had been in a whirl. She would have to find a way of letting him down gently, but that would have to wait until she was back on something resembling her normal form.

* * * * *

Cutter had a plan, naturally. It involved commandeering a cherry-picker from some telecom workers and reprising his trick with Stephen’s red tee-shirt, only this time he was using a large flag. Yet another of his madcap plans, but almost against her better judgment, Claudia had let herself be sucked into his plan. All she had to do was keep ignoring Lester for a little while longer…

“Guys, you’d better be quick,” Connor said, a note of undisguised urgency in his voice. “I don’t think the anomaly’s going to hold much longer.”

At exactly that moment, Claudia’s phone rang. She checked the display and promptly hit the off button. Lester would just have to remain the dark a little while longer.

Nick looked at her, a question in his eyes.

“Lester. What can I say? The battery was down and I just didn’t get to the call in time.” Claudia shoved the phone back in her pocket.

Nick looked surprised and delighted. “You saying Lester doesn’t know about this?”

“Wouldn’t be happy if he did.” And that was nothing less than the truth.

“I thought you weren’t going to take sides?”

Claudia shrugged. “It’s a one-off. Against my better judgement.”

Despite her words, a few minutes later, after watching the Pteranodon fly home through the anomaly, Claudia couldn’t deny the sense of elation she felt as, along with the other members of the team, even the soldiers, she cheered wildly as the creature disappeared and, a moment later, the anomaly winked out of existence.

Claudia felt the light touch of Ryan’s hand on her arm and she smiled at him, not afraid to let him see how bone-weary she was. Her head still hurt and she just wanted to go home to bed.

“You’re not driving, not after that knock on the head,” the captain said quietly. “I’d feel a lot happier if you’d let me take you to hospital to get properly checked out.”

Claudia shook her aching head. “Must as I admire the NHS, I’m not up to sitting around in Casualty for the next few hours.”

Ryan looked down at his uniform and grinned at her. “I don’t think it would take you that long to get seen, ma’am. Not if I came with you dressed like this.”

“No weaponry on display,” she said, the pain in her head making her capitulate quicker than even she’d expected.

After leaving his weapons with the military Range Rovers, Ryan drove her to the nearest A&E to her flat. He pulled a civilian jacket on over his tactical vest, but his whole get-up screamed military, as did his bearing, but to reinforce the message, he flashed an identity card at the harassed casualty clerk. Claudia was quickly issued into a cubicle and examined by a doctor who looked too young to be out without his mum, but he was as competent as he was quietly spoken. He checked her over, clearly unhappy with the knowledge that she’d temporarily lost her sight.

He gave her some painkillers for the headache and the painful jaw. She already had a bruise spreading from under her chin where the Pteranodon’s beak had smacked her and it hurt like hell.

A scan was ordered. While Claudia waited, Ryan plied her with a cardboard cup of hot, sweet tea and wrapped his jacket around her when she started to shake, despite the heat of the hospital. She knew as well as Ryan did that reaction was starting to set in. She been knocked unconscious then damn nearly had the flesh stripped from her bones by the same nasty little sods that had killed the golfer and Ryan’s medic. Only Helen’s surprise intervention had saved her life. That wasn’t something she wanted to think too closely about. She didn’t like the woman, didn’t trust her, and wasn’t in the least bit happy about owing her a favour. A favour that Helen would no doubt try to collect at some point.

Claudia snuggled inside Ryan’s padded jacket, comforted by his presence at her side. She didn’t want to think too much about how she’d reacted to Nick in the hotel. He’d flirted with her several times, but she hadn’t wanted to add any further confusion to their working relationship. The man was difficult enough to manage at the best of times, without any added complications. Besides, it was Ryan who was sitting next to her now, not Cutter.

And it was Ryan who accompanied her down to the scanner and waited for her in the corridor. When the young doctor finally gave her the all clear to return home, it was on the basis that she wouldn’t be left alone overnight.

Ryan simply nodded, smiled reassuringly, and took her hand.

She held onto it all the way back to the car.

And it was Ryan who held her in his arms when she woke up screaming in the middle of the night, convinced she’d heard something scratching at the window, trying to get in.

Date: 2017-03-25 02:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bigtitch.livejournal.com
Great fic! Love the interaction between her and Ryan. I don't envy her any part of that other than the snuggle in Ryan's coat!

Date: 2017-03-25 03:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
Thank you! I entirely agree.

Date: 2017-03-25 07:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] knitekat.livejournal.com
Lovely addition to the episode and yay for more Claudia/Ryan.

Date: 2017-03-25 08:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
Thank you!

Date: 2017-03-25 09:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] goldarrow.livejournal.com
Loved the interaction and background thoughts for Claudia.

And that last line gave me goosebumps!

Date: 2017-03-27 06:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
Thank you! I was rather hoping I could end it on a shiver. *g*

Date: 2017-03-26 05:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rain-sleet-snow.livejournal.com
This is a gorgeous take on the episode - I love how clear Claudia's frustration was, and Ryan being so caring. Also, I'm fascinated by the way you've weaved in Nick's kiss - I look forward to seeing where you go with that aspect.

Date: 2017-03-27 06:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
I was hoping you'd enjoy it!

I felt I had to deal with the kiss somehow. It would have been true to the episode to have ignored it.

Date: 2017-03-31 09:21 am (UTC)
fififolle: (Primeval - Claudia/Ryan glow)
From: [personal profile] fififolle
Ooh, that last line was rather chilling (but awesome *g*) and the first line was hilarious :D Fabulous fic all the way in between as well, a really enjoyable read.

Date: 2017-03-31 12:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredbassett.livejournal.com
Thank you! I don't think I can take credit for the first line, though. *g*

Date: 2017-04-01 06:39 pm (UTC)
fififolle: (Primeval - Claudia)
From: [personal profile] fififolle
That was in the show? Hah, so it was :D Very good *g*

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