|Guilty (pre-slash, PG)
||[Mar. 23rd, 2015|01:39 am]
Fandom: The Imitation Game
Pairing/Characters: Hugh/Peter (pre-slash)
Word Count: ~1200
Summary: Peter is distraught. Hugh surprises himself. Missing scene. H/C.
Notes: I struggled with whether I wanted to let this stay gen or push it to slash. Hugh/Peter isn't a ship that flows naturally out of canon the way, oh say, Alan/Hugh does. But, on the other hand, I love Peter and I want him to have hugs and love. So, long story short, I ended up with something awkwardly in the middle. I guess it can be considered pre-slash.
Hugh finds Peter crying out back of Hut 8 several days after they failed – chose not – to stop that first German attack they had knowledge of thanks to the cracked Enigma code. He stands slumped with his back against the wall, one arm wound around his waist in his usual defensive gesture, the other hand holding a crumpled telegram, strands of hair falling into his eyes. The telegram came for him earlier – it is not one of their intercepted enigma messages.
“Peter,” Hugh says quietly, a gnawing, sick feeling rising up from the pit of his stomach. We did this. I did this.
“Go away.” The words are half-hearted, forced out with the last of Peter’s composure, of which there is little at the moment as it is.
He could turn and go inside, leave the boy alone to his grief. Hugh almost does just that – Peter has every reason to not want to talk to any of them at that moment. Or ever again. The German’s would not get suspicious because we stopped one attack. But he makes the choice to stay because he simply can’t stand seeing Peter like this. Hugh doesn’t know why it hurts s0o much, but the thought that he could have prevented this, that they had all the means to do just that… But Alan was right, of course he was right.
Knowing that they had done the right thing does not make this any easier.
Hugh reaches out and carefully puts one hand on Peter’s shoulder. Peter flinches away from him and stares determinately at his feet. “My brother is dead, Hugh,” he says in the same chocked, quiet voice. “I could have stopped it but I didn’t.”
“No, you could not have.”
“Yes, I could. I knew it was going to happen and I didn’t do anything…”
Hugh takes two steps forward so that he’s standing in front of Peter instead of beside him. “This is not your fault.” Hugh realizes that it is guilt as much as despair that is driving Peter mad at the moment, and thinks of just how sleepless his own nights have been lately.
“Yes it—“ Peter breaks off and goes very quiet for a moment. Hugh tenses, waiting for the inevitable outburst. When Peter looks up, his eyes are overflowing with anger and betrayal. “You’re right. It’s not my fault. It’s yours. All of yours but especially yours. Alan’s all in his own head and Joan’s sweet on him and John could never stand up to the bastard. But you. I thought at least you—“ Peter doesn’t finish. He seems incapable of finding the right words and perhaps a little fearful of what Hugh might do to him.
Whatever reaction Peter expects, it is not the one he gets. It isn’t even the one Hugh expects of himself. “You can blame me if you like. If that makes it easier.”
“Y-you’re not going to hit me?”
“Or tell me I’m daft. Because, go ahead and say it. I’m not being logical. What kind of bloody mathematician is not logical?” Peter sniffs helplessly, still looking at Hugh with the same wide eyes, except the anger is gone. The betrayal isn’t and Hugh does not think it ever will.
“It’s your brother, Peter,” is all Hugh can say. Let me help you.
What little remained of Peter’s defiance goes and he practically collapses into Hugh’s arms. Hugh wraps his arms around the younger man – still just a boy, really – and runs one hand comfortingly over Peter’s hair as the latter sobs quietly into his shoulder. “It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault,” he mutters quietly, almost inaudibly against Peter’s ear, pressing his cheek against Peter’s temple.
Hugh is not very good at analyzing his own feelings. Numbers, chess, talking to women – those things he understands how to do. They’re games, logical progressions of events, logical conclusions from given information. But whatever is happening to him in this moment makes no sense. He has no idea what makes him want to stay here in the cold without a coat, consoling an utterly distraught fellow code-breaker. He does not understand why he would allow Peter to hold a grudge against all of them when they only ever did the logical thing if it made things easier for him. He certainly does not understand the strange desire to hold onto Peter and never let go. If it had been Joan, Hugh might have suspected himself of having developed a crush on Alan’s fiancé. But Peter is not a girl.
“Every day we make these calculations. We decide who dies and who lives. Alan decides and we—we all help him. Like this is a game. This is not a fucking game. People are dying because of us.”
“No,” Hugh says, attempting to be reasonable even as he runs one hand soothingly over Peter’s back and struggles to breath. “People are dying because of Hitler. We are saving millions of lives. Nothing is free, Peter. Try to see the big picture.”
Peter goes quiet. He knows Hugh is right but it is obvious that everything in the boy is rebelling against this concept – that they must let people die for a greater goal. He’s too young, Hugh thinks, the guilt is killing him. Hell, it’s even taken a swing at me. After some time, having quieted, Peter steps back, but just barely. His forehead is practically touching Hugh’s and they’re close enough to kiss.
“I don’t really blame you, you know.” Peter makes a small gesture at the telegram, still clutched tightly in his hand. “I know that you are right. That Alan is right. I’m angry, but…”
“Why don’t you take the night off,” Hugh suggests. “We can manage without you for an evening. You would be little help in this state anyway.”
“I know, I know, I need to stop being such a girl.” Peter smiles weakly and takes another step back, running a hand over his face and grimacing in self-condemnation.
“That’s not what I said,” Hugh says, but smiles nonetheless. He fights a strong urge to pull Peter back into his arms and protect him from the word. The stupid boy just looks utterly adorable like this – all doe eyes and mussed hair. Take hold of yourself, Hugh. What, in the name of God, are you on about? “Get some rest, Peter. I’ll tell the others you’re not feeling well. I’ll say dinner disagreed with you.” Hugh has a feeling Peter would not want their colleagues knowing about his moment of falling apart.
It seems he is right as Peter only nods and murmurs a quiet, “Thank you.”
Hugh gives Peter’s shoulder a small, supporting squeeze, then watches him walk away, a tight warm feeling spreading from his core outward. Peter, in his youth-driven petulant idealism, gives him some hope that they are not all completely lost in the world of numbers and analysis and cold reasoning. Peter makes him feel strange, warm things that could simply be friendship, could be something else. But Hugh has never been good at analyzing his own feelings. So he doesn’t.
He simply goes back to work. Peter will come around and get through this – we all will.