Title: Give Me A Reason To Love You
Word Count: 2,202
Challenge: written for the 2015 Secret Santa challenge of primeval_denial
Pairing: Ryan/Stephen, with a mention of other characters, including Ditzy and Lyle, both OC's of fredbassett
Warnings: Mention of sex. Some strong language. A bit of angst. A bit of fluff.
Disclaimer: Not mine, no money made. Primeval and its characters belong to Impossible Pictures
Author Notes: written for lukadreaming. I used the prompts "Give me a reason to love you" and "He lives in a house, a very big house, in the country". Happy holidays and may 2016 be a great year for you! *hugs*
Thank you, fredbassett, for the beta!
All remaining mistakes are mine.
It was over.
Connor's friend, Tom, was dead.
Ryan lowered his gun.
He felt the adrenalin rush gradually fading away.
Cutter was comforting Connor, joined by Abby, who could desperately do with a hug too.
Ryan looked at Stephen Hart, who had been standing next to him when they’d tried to persuade Tom to let them help him.
Stephen was still aiming his handgun at the dead boy. The man seemed to be in shock.
"Stephen, it's over," Ryan whispered and gently touched Stephen's arm, so the man finally lowered the gun.
Whilst Ditzy took care of Tom's body and talked to the other team members, Ryan and Lyle re-assessed the situation and prepared for the debriefing.
Cutter, Connor and Abby left soon afterwards, but Ryan noticed Stephen was still hanging around.
"I have to go back to the Home Office for my report. It's very understandable that you don't want to be alone after a situation like this. Would you like to join me?"
"Thanks, that would be great. As a matter of fact I don't want to go home now."
"You acted well, though," Ryan said, whilst they walked towards the car. "Have you ever shot at a person?"
"No, and if I really had had to shoot Tom, I don't know if I would have been able to pull the trigger. I kept repeating to myself that the boy was lost anyway. That he probably had to die to save others."
"Good thinking. And speaking from experience, you'll never get used to a situation like that. But for the better. To be a good soldier you have to assess the situation over and over again. We're no killer robots."
"You have the basic skills to be a good soldier, I think," Ryan continued. "Great marksmanship for starters."
They were silent until they arrived at the Home Office.
Stephen helped Ryan to write the Special Forces report regarding the anomaly incursion. When pizza arrived they tried to relax a bit.
"What's that between you and Mrs Cutter?" Ryan said, munching on a pizza slice.
Stephen's cheeks went crimson.
"I noticed some tension with you when both Cutters were present in the same room, but also some familiarity between you and Mrs Cutter."
"We…. we had something when I was a student," Stephen confessed. "It was a short affair. It happened. Somehow. It's no excuse, though. I deeply regretted it, especially when I became Nick's assistant."
"Does he know?"
"No, I don't think so. I've never told him. And Helen disappeared soon after that, so I don't think she told him either."
"And now Helen is back and you're confronted with the past again."
"I hope she stays away!" Stephen said vehemently. "She’s nothing but trouble! Look at what she did today. She's only thinking about her own goals and needs."
"And Cutter? How’s your relationship with Cutter?"
"We're friends. Sort of. I… I've always wanted to tell him about the affair. But I'm too scared to lose our friendship."
"The only advice I can give you is that whenever you feel the need or see the opportunity to tell him: do it. Keeping secrets is tricky. They tend to come out and lash you at the most inconvenient moment. Whenever you want to talk or go out for a pint or a meal, I'm here."
"Thanks. I appreciate it."
In the following weeks, Ryan and Stephen went out for the occasional pint, sometimes followed by a pub meal or a curry. And soon by a casual shag.
To Ryan it all seemed more of a release of the stress this job was giving than caring love making.
But at the moment he didn't mind. Stephen was a pretty distraction. The sex was good. Stephen wasn't shy in bed. He seemed to be hungry. Hungry for feelings, even if it was pain or short term pleasure.
But after a few months their so-called relationship started to nag Ryan's conscience. Was this really what he wanted? Christmas was coming and he didn't want to spend another holiday alone at home, drinking and eating Waitrose Essentials.
He wanted more than a pretty shag. Stephen seemed to be a decent bloke. Someone he could fall in love with…
It was a Friday afternoon.
Ryan reluctantly approached Stephen in the armoury, where he was cleaning his guns.
"Any plans for the weekend?" Ryan asked casually.
Ryan swallowed. "I'm going to the family house in Oxfordshire. Taking Christmas presents to the caretaker and his family and taking a look a the house. It's been empty for a few years now, since my parents died…. Would you like to come along?"
Stephen looked at Ryan. His bright, blue eyes were impenetrable.
"Okay. When are you leaving?"
"Tomorrow morning. There's a forecast for heavy snow later in the day and I want to be back in London by then.
Stephen kept on cleaning his gun.
"Okay then," Ryan said. "I'll pick you up at eight."
"See you then," Stephen answered, without looking up.
The drive the next day was mostly spent in silence.
Stephen fiddled with the car radio, trying to avoid the Christmas carols, choosing a hard rock station. They talked about music and favourite songs for a bit.
Around noon Ryan drove the car up the stately drive towards the house. Giant, old trees lined both sides of a drive that opened up after about 500 metres and showed a stately, Jacobean style manor.
Stephen seemed impressed.
Ryan parked the car in front of the house, next to a Land Rover with a man in it.
"Hardgate! It's good to see you," Ryan said when they'd all stepped out of the cars. They shook hands.
"The house is ready for inspection, sir. All repairs are up to date, including the leaking roof in the west wing."
"I totally trust you, Hardgate. I'm here to take a quick look at the house, but mostly to bring you Christmas presents. I understand your wife loves Godiva chocolate. I bought it at Harrods, so it has special wrapping."
"Thank you, sir. She'll be chuffed." Then Hardgate pointed at the overcast sky. "Lily is worried you won't be able to leave before the snow starts falling. And she might be right about that. She has made a quick lunch with cold meat for you. It's in the kitchen, and I’ve already made a fire."
"Very kind. Stephen and I are going into the house now and we'll let you know when we leave."
Ryan gave the bags with Christmas presents to Hardgate and then he and Stephen walked into the house.
"One of my ancestors was a prosperous wool merchant," Ryan explained to Stephen, when they walked through the giant entrance hall.
"You grew up here?"
"Yes. It was fun and torture at the same time. Fun because it was a great playground for my sister and I, complete with a secret room. But it was cold and impersonal too, with family members scattered all over the place, avoiding each other."
They walked from room to room. Although white sheets covered the furniture it was possible to get a clear idea of the abundance of the manor. Dark wooded panelling, chandeliers, paintings, they all showed the wealth of the house.
"Let's go to the kitchen. We could do with some lunch and I'm sure Lily’s made lots of it."
Of course the kitchen was huge, but in contrast to the rest of the house, it seemed warm and cozy.
A giant inglenook fireplace dominated the room. There was a range with pots and pans hanging from the ceiling. The bespoke kitchen cabinets looked modern, although in country style.
A large table with comfortable chairs stood in the middle of a beautiful flagstone floor.
Ryan walked to the refrigerator and took out the plates with food. A thermos with coffee was on the table.
Lunch was excellent.
"Well, we'd better check the grounds now,” Ryan suggested. “I see it’s started snowing already,"
"This place is magnificent," Stephen said in awe, whilst they walked through the gardens.
There were immaculately landscaped parts, with trimmed hedges and rose bushes. But there were also wooded areas, a fish pond and even a large vegetable patch.
"It is a pain, though. Costing too much money. It's in a family trust, but I'm the only one of the family left. I don't know what to do with it. It's too big to live in and it would be too much of a hassle to start a museum."
"It has all kinds of possibilities,” Stephen said. “Look at the place where they filmed Downton Abbey. Maybe you should ask Claudia what to do with it? She would know what would work nowadays. Renting it out, having a B&B maybe."
"That's a good idea. I’ll ask her."
"I have another suggestion. Let's stay the night. I noticed you have blankets and sleeping bags in your car. We could make ourselves comfortable in the kitchen. There's still plenty of food."
"And wine in the cellar." Ryan grinned. "We'd probably wouldn't be able to make it home before dark now anyway and it is snowing heavily. I like your idea."
They finished checking the grounds by going through the empty stables and sheds.
Ryan decided to park the car in one of the sheds, so they wouldn't have to clear snow from it the next morning.
Carrying the blankets and sleeping bags, they finally went back inside, into the warm kitchen.
It was already getting dark.
Ryan opened a few bottles of red wine and they had a feast eating and drinking. They ended up on the blankets in front of the fire place, drinking more wine.
"Where did you grow up?" Ryan asked. He noticed his voice was getting slurry and he did feel a bit drunk.
"Herefordshire. A rural area. Nothing as posh as this. But after my mum died, my dad decided to send me to boarding school." A giggle escaped Stephen's mouth.
Ryan laughed. "Oh boy. The wine is heavy, isn't it? But it's good…. really good….. Any brothers or sisters?"
"No. I was a bit of a loner. Even at boarding school. I hated it. I never seemed to fit in… I still don't." Now Stephen's voice sounded a little whiny.
"You’re too hard on yourself," Ryan hiccuped.
"Says who! The man who went through military training and is hard as steel."
"That's my professional side. Privately I'm nothing like that."
"Yeah, right. I never noticed. Not when you fucked me in the arse, not when you slapped me."
Ryan was hurt. "I thought you liked that."
"Well, I don't. But I guess I learned to bottom really well." Stephen sounded bitter. He gulped more wine.
Ryan suddenly felt sober again. He took the wine glass from Stephen's hand, preventing him from drinking more alcohol.
"Stephen! That is such a sad thing to say! I think we’ve both learned how to hide our feelings too well, after all we've been through, but that doesn't mean we should keep every person far away from us. Did Helen hurt you that badly? Are you so afraid of Cutter's anger and feelings of betrayal if he finds out? Don't you think somebody could love you?" And Ryan added whispering: "Could love us?"
"OK, give me one good reason to love YOU," Stephen said harshly, but his eyes were filled with pain and sorrow.
Then, out of the blue, he stood up and stormed out.
Ryan was flabbergasted. What the hell was that all about?
He got up too and started looking for the other man. But he couldn't find him. Not in any of the ground floor rooms, not outside in the courtyard.
It was still snowing. There was already an ankle deep layer of snow on the ground.
He saw foot steps in the white and followed them into the garden.
He found Stephen, standing near a fish pond, in the moon light, shoulders hunched, looking at his reflection.
Ryan approached him and softly grabbed Stephen's neck.
"You! You are the reason!" Ryan pulled Stephen’s forehead against his own. "You are a beautiful person, Stephen. Inside and out. You care. You are loyal….. You are the first person after a long time that I could fall in love with…. that I AM in love with. You make me a better person. A whole person. I could give you the love and warmth you want, we both want. You deserve that!"
Stephen's blue eyes were full of shock.
"No! No don't say that. I don't deserve this."
"Yes, you do!" Ryan felt so frustrated. He wanted to beat the truth into the other man, this beautiful man. But he knew that wouldn't work.
"I'll show you," he said softly. "Come back inside."
"I'm no good. I'll only hurt you."
"I'm tough. And we're all a bit broken, one way or the other."
"Cutter…. Helen… I have to face them."
"One thing at a time. For now, we're stuck here. There's food, wine, fire and… us."
They walked back into the house, Ryan's past, their present, not thinking of the future.