fredbassett: (Stephen -gun)
[personal profile] fredbassett
Title : Talk to the Animals
Author : fredbassett
Fandom : Primeval
Rating : 12
Characters : Stephen/Ryan, Connor, Abby, Claudia, Cutter, Finn, Fiver, Kermit
Disclaimer : Not mine (except Finn, Fiver and Kermit), no money made, don’t sue.
Spoilers : None
Summary : You’ve read ‘gerbil stroking with Stephen Hart’, well now it’s time for ‘cow petting with Tom Ryan’. I kid you not.
A/N :The call words used here originate from Lancashire, and are the ones I was taught as a child, so I’ve taken some artistic licence, as the setting for this fic is unspecified but likely to be further south. The words are quite genuine and there’s a theory that animal call-words such as these have a very ancient linguistic origin.

Connor looked up from his tablet and declared, “According to the Health and Safety exec, 74 people have been killed by cows in the UK in the last eight years. Told you they were dodgy!”

“The H&S people or cows?” Finn asked, his rifle cradled in his arms as he looked out over the field, his expression as wary as anyone else’s.

Abby rolled her eyes, but didn’t make any move towards the five-barred gate between them and the large herd of cows currently clustered around something small and furry on the ground in the middle of the field. Fortunately, the cows seemed more interested in whatever was on the ground than they were in the anomaly, turning lazily on its own axis in the corner of their field.

“We can’t leave whatever it is to get trampled on,” Stephen said, clambering over the gate. If truth be told, he wasn’t much happier than the rest were about tangling with a herd of cows, but someone had to do something.

“Lester won’t be happy if we have to pay compensation to the farmer because someone ends up blowing holes in his prize herd,” Claudia pointed out.

“EMPs only,” Cutter ordered quickly.

“Aw, we’ve got a barbi coming up soon,” Finn commented. “Beef’s bloody brilliant with horseradish sauce.”

Claudia’s glare would have done a good job of freezing hell, although Cutter was looking amused.

Ryan slung his M4 over his shoulder and climbed over the gate as well. “No one’s blowing holes in cows on my watch. I’ve got this one, Hart. Keep an eye on the anomaly and warn me if it looks like anything is coming through. And if anyone gets a clear look at what they’re interested in before I do, I want to know about it. But for fuck’s sake use the radio. No yelling.”

There was a murmur of ‘yes, boss’ from his lads. Stephen looked at his lover in surprise, but knew better that to argue with Ryan on an anomaly shout. Or at least not unless he was about to do something wholly suicidal, and no matter how dangerous cows could be en masse, between them all they had enough firepower, as well as non-lethal weapons, to take down the entire herd if necessary.

Ryan walked slowly but purposefully across the field towards the mass of black and white cows crowding around the same spot. Stephen didn’t know much about cows, but he thought they might be Friesians, and a long-buried memory from somewhere seemed to be telling him that they could be particularly skittish, but Ryan didn’t seem overly concerned. The time spent dealing with anomaly incursions and other stressful events had left Stephen attuned to Ryan’s non-verbal responses and all that he was picking up now was quiet self-confidence of the sort he normally saw Abby display around animals and reptiles.

Stephen moved silently along the line of the hedge so that he had a clear view of the anomaly, as well line of sight on the cows without Ryan in the way. He thought the animal on the ground might be a dog, and relayed that to Ryan over the comms link. Stephen’s senses were alive to any change in body language from the herd, but all he could hear was the wet huffing of their breath through wide, snuffly nostrils and quiet chewing noises. One of the cows lowered its head and started pulling up the grass in large mouthfuls.

Ooo-shuck…” Ryan held his hand out, as you would to a dog, keeping his palm low and turned upright. “Ooo-shuck…

Stephen listened with growing interest as Ryan continued to make the same soft, almost hypnotic call in a sing-song voice as he approached the loose group of cows. One turned, head lowered, and blew through its nose in Ryan’s direction. The soldier simply carried on advancing towards them, hand held out, repeating the same words – or where they just sounds? – Stephen couldn’t be sure at that distance. If they were words, they were not in any language he recognised.

The cow nearest to Ryan barged into the one next to it and snuffled at Ryan’s outstretched hand. Ryan let it smell at him as he continued to make the same low, soothing sounds. Still moving slowly, Ryan ran his hand down the cow’s long nose stroking it like you would a horse. The animal pushed back against his hand and allowed him to walk past it, through the circle.

Ryan bent down and picked up whatever the cows had been staring at. “It’s a wolf cub,” he said quietly into his radio mic. “It’s unharmed, but I don’t want mother coming to join the party. Hart, I want you and Finn on standby to take this little fella back through the anomaly. I’m coming back to you, some of the cows will probably follow me. Meet me half way. Move slowly and confidently. Don’t spook them. Take the cub and work your way around the field, staying by the hedge. Kermit, Fiver, go with them and get a perimeter established. The herd’s not a thread. I’ll keep them occupied.”

It was one of the longest set of instructions he’d heard from Ryan on a shout for a while. The special forces captain was usually a man of few words when he was on a job. Stephen listened and exchanged nods with Finn. They walked slowly out to meet Ryan.

As he’d predicted, a few members of the herd turned and followed him, their heads pressed closed to him and the small bundle of fur cradled firmly in his arms. Stephen heard a quiet whimper from the cub, quickly hushed by Ryan. Even dressed in black combats and bristling with weapons, Stephen couldn’t help getting the warm fuzzies at the sight of his tough boyfriend gently stoking the cub whilst continuing to make the same low crooning noise to the cows.

“Do wolf cubs speak cow?” he asked, holding his arms out for the cub.

“No, but it’s bloody lucky this lot understand the same call-words I grew up with,” Ryan said as he relinquished the bundle of grey fur.

The cub, missing its protector, tried to squirm out of Stephen’s arms. He tightened his grip and looked quizzically at Ryan.

“I’ll explain later. Just get him back through the anomaly, I don’t fancy dealing with a protective mother.”

With the cub held firmly in his arms and Finn covering him, Stephen followed the instructions he’d been given and made his way steadily around the outside of the field, taking care not to slip on the wet grass. Kermit and Fiver were steadily approaching from the other direction. As if secure in the knowledge that someone nearby understood them, the cows stayed mostly together, staring placidly at the group by the gate.

As he approached the anomaly, Stephen felt the familiar magnetic pull on the rifle slung across his back, but all the team now knew better than to carry anything that could be inconveniently whisked off them. Even Connor rarely lost his keys or mobile phone these days.

“Count to ten,” Finn instructed, following their standard protocol.

Stephen stood there, talking quietly to the cub, as Finn and Fiver stepped through the glittering shards of time. He counted the time down in his head then with a nod to Kermit, he stepped through. He knew Kermit would give it another ten seconds before following. The anomaly washed over his body with a faint static prickle and then he was through. The air was cooler and his feet sank slightly into white snow, not the brown mud he’d just left behind. Finn had dropped to one knee and had his rifle pointing into the trees. Stephen stepped sideways, making sure to remain behind Fiver so as not to foul any shot the young soldier might need to take, the movement also allowed room for Kermit to follow him.

It took a moment for Stephen’s eyes to become accustomed to the glare of the snow, but it was obvious from Finn’s body language that he had something in his sights. A second later, Stephen recognised the large, grey-white body of an enormous wolf. The creature’s pale eyes were staring warily at them, ears flattened to its head as its black nose twitched at the unaccustomed scent of man. The cub gave a sudden, loud whine and the adult wolf’s nostrils flared and its ears pricked up.

“Time to say goodbye, little fella,” Stephen said, taking a pace forward and setting the cub on the ground.

The little animal looked up at him, confused, before setting off at a run towards the adult wolf, yipping happily.

Stephen and the soldiers wanted to be sure that the pair wouldn’t follow them back through the anomaly, but any fears on that score were promptly laid to rest when the female wolf picked up her offspring and loped off into the trees.

“Nice one,” Finn said appreciatively.

Stephen had been around the soldiers long enough to know that every single one of them were suckers for baby animals, and far preferred to repatriate creatures alive whenever possible. The days of Cutter complaining about trigger-happy shooters were long gone. He now knew that every single one of the military team would only fire live rounds as a last resort. The souped-up tasers they been given by the French anomaly team had made their lives easier, even though their military back-up still carried conventional weapons as well.

“No, you can’t keep it as pet,” Stephen said, unable to suppress a smile. “Come on, let’s get back before daddy comes along and tries to pick a fight…”

Once back through the anomaly, the three soldiers stayed behind to maintain a perimeter, while Stephen made his way back around the edge of the field to where half a dozen cows were now clustered around the gate, being stroked by both Ryan and Abby. Even Connor had tentatively stretched out his hand to join in, but a spray of snot from one of the cows made him snatch it back and wipe his palm on his trouser leg, much to Abby’s disgust.

Ryan paused in the act of scratching one of his admirers behind the ear to ask, “Safely repatriated?”

“Carried off by a doting mum,” Stephen told him. One of the cows turned its head and butted him gently in the chest. Stephen took a leaf out of his boyfriend’s book and started to scratch the friendly creature behind the ear. It lowered its head and snuffled loudly, its fat-lipped mouth moving rhythmically from side to side. “So what’s the trick to successful cow-wrangling, soldier-boy?”

“Speaking the right language,” Ryan said, with what Stephen could only describe as a shit-eating grin. “My grandfather had a dairy farm 20 miles away from here when I was a kid.” He carried on stroking as many of the cows as he could reach, smiling and looking younger than he usually did on duty.

“No, you can’t take one of them home with you. You’re as bad as Finn.”

Ryan grinned, and bent his head to the ear of the nearest cow, murmuring softly, in the same sing-song voice, “Ooo-shuck…Ooo-shuck…”
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