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Primeval Fic: All of Our Ships Are Sinking 1/1

November 3rd, 2011 (07:11 am)
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Title: All of Our Ships Are Sinking (And No One Here Can Swim)

Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: I wrote this several months ago as part of my way of coping with the way S2 of Primeval ended. I’m not sure I’ve totally dealt with it but decided to post fic anyway :) Beta provided by sendintheklowns, who seriously, puts up with a lot from me and I’m not just talking about my typos. Remaining mistakes are my own. Also, not Brit-Proofed, which is why this probably will never be posted anywhere outside this journal :)

Warning: Spoilers through 2.07. Canon character death.

Summary: Maybe Stephen Hart’s death is a good place to start.



-o-

Here we can’t stop moving, can’t let that fear creep in
That all of our ships are sinking and no one here can swim
Truth, we turned that word away, the truth that welcomes us to stay

-Every Moment by The Normals

-o-

Helen has given her life up to the pursuit of truth and discovery, and she’s never looked back. From one anomaly to the next, she’s survived in hostile environments and confirmed theories that most intellects only debate in clean and sterile labs. She’s broken the rules of time and bent the powers of the universe to her hand, and with everything she learns, it seems there’s still something left to discover.

She knows that truth is messy and complicated, that the history of human evolution is finite and meager. She sees the way the story goes, from inception to climax to quiet denouement. For her, the only regret is not grasping it more firmly, not using what she knows to exact the perfect future she knows exists. Power is an awesome responsibility, and no one believed her when it mattered and now no one can stop her from doing this her way.

Because Helen sees. She sees more than any of them. More than the measly civilians who twiddle their lives away. More than Lester and his government cronies at the ARC. More than Nick and his intrepid team of misguided do-gooders.

Helen has seen the past and she’s seen the future. She knows that man rose from dust and returns to it and she’s reached out and tweaked it for the greater good. She dabbles in broad strokes: the evolution of man, the fall of earth, the rise of beasts more fearsome than anyone could imagine. In this, she’s seen death and the very end of the human race, and she’s only slowed down to make a few observations on how it all ends up and theorize on ways to affect the course of time for what surely must be the greater good.

It’s a good plan, but she finds herself still frustratingly human as her plan unravels at the seams. Leek gets power hungry and Nick is stronger than she anticipates. It’s not going to work, and she’s ready to go back and try again when Stephen dies.

Stephen dies.

It seems sort of simple. One of them had to die, and she’s not going to give up her life and the thought of losing Nick that way is just too painful. Stephen is an easy and logical choice in this. He’s a mere human; a tool to her. He was means to an end, a purposeful play to her ultimate achievement.

She could stop him if she wants, but she doesn’t. Instead, she watches with a clinical detachment. When his screams stop, she is ready to acknowledge that it could have been much worse. After all, this is just one death of many; even one death of many she’s caused. She doesn’t love him and never has, so the fact that she doesn’t know what to do with his death is a strange and foreign feeling.

She’s not used to uncertainty. She’s not accustomed to doubt. And mostly, she’s entirely unfamiliar with the human notion of guilt.

After all, she walked away from her husband without a second thought. She seduced his best friend without so much as a pang. She’s let people die, manipulated entire species, and never thought twice. But then Stephen dies, and there’s a gnawing feeling in her chest that’s harder and harder to keep in check.

At his grave, it’s a surreal sort of thing. A pile of dirt and a marker on the ground: these things will wear away and be gone, nothing more than traces in years to come, relics that the future will turn its nose up at and ignore.

It’s a cruel fate they’ll all endure, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Not for her, not for Stephen, not for any of them.

The power over life and death, the ability to control the past and dictate the future: these are the feats that Helen has strived for since this began, and though this attempt has failed, she has infinite options to start another. This time, she thinks, maybe Stephen Hart’s death is a good place to start.

-o-

Lester doesn’t like making phone calls. This seems rather ironic to him since the largest portion of his job consists of endless hours on the phone, playing nice with news agencies and government officials.

“I know you’re a busy man,” Lester says with a semblance of patience and a measure of deference. “And I certainly don’t mean to imply that your men can’t be well used elsewhere, but I’m not sure you understand the full extent of our needs.”

He’s been having this unfortunate conversation for almost an hour now, and his counterpart at the military division has been slow to understand that Lester is not so much requesting as he is demanding. Politely of course.

“James, you have a team of what, four? Five people in the field? And you want a full military detachment at your disposal?”

Lester rolls his eyes and takes a breath. “Four now, actually, in case you were counting,” he says icily. “And these four people have the monumental task of protecting the British public and the entire world, for that matter, from these incursions. Without their intellectual insight and tactical genius, I simply do not think this program would be remotely sustainable.”

“James--”

Lester shakes his head. “I’ve had quite enough of this debate, Phillip,” he says curtly. “Your men are trained to serve God and country, to protect the lives of the public from all forms of peril. Let me assure you, in no uncertain terms, that there is no peril greater than this. My team needs backup. I don’t want second rate teams or half-filled contingencies. I want your best, and I want it now.”

“That’s very presumptuous of you, don’t you think?”

Lester works to keep his cool and plays the last card he has. “You mean, the way you were very presumptuous with Admiral Foster’s wife last year?”

“You wouldn’t,” comes the reply, low and deadly.

“I would,” James says coolly. It’s not a card he wanted to play, one he was saving for a very rainy day, but really, Lester is fairly certain that coming from Stephen Hart’s funeral is about as rainy as he’d like to see it during his career.

“You’re making a mistake,” growls Phillip.

Sitting back in his chair, feeling his impending victory, he smiles tersely. It’s not the first time that Phillip has been wrong, and Lester has great confidence that it won’t be the last. “Either way,” Lester says easily. “I’ll expect my new men in two weeks, not a day later. Good day, now.”

He hangs up before Phillip can protest, sitting back smugly, trying not to think how their arrival will be two weeks late to begin with.

-o-

Of all the events at the ARC, it’s strange to Jenny that this one is actually the easiest to contain. The scorpion on the beach was something, of course, but Stephen’s quick and thorough response was uncomfortably effective. A quick story about an oversized crab from the ocean seems to satisfy the public well enough.

As for the rest, all the events occurred within confined space, mostly involving ARC staff. Caroline is an exception, certainly, but given her role in it, keeping her quiet is more a matter of applying appropriate guilt than anything else. Helen is the other loose end, this much is undeniable, but if Jenny knows anything about Helen Cutter, it’s that no amount of PR could contain a woman like that anyway.

All other property damage and loss of life was thoroughly invisible to the public eye, thanks to the heroic efforts of Nick Cutter and Stephen Hart. She doesn’t even have to explain the events to Stephen’s family because Nick takes that responsibility upon himself, and that’s really that.

Except it’s not. Stephen is dead, and that loss hangs over the ARC like a cloud that just won’t break open. It’s the first death she doesn’t have to lie about and yet it’s the first death that makes her question if what she does is right at all.

Jenny tries not to think about, but she can’t help herself. She thinks, what if it had been her? What if it had been Nick? She’s not sure why that would be worse, but for a moment, she’s very, very grateful for Stephen Hart’s sacrifice.

As the days go by, Jenny watches Nick grieve and thinks she might be able to help him. Might be able to help him move on. Might be able to help make Stephen’s death not in vain.

-o-

It’s funny. Stephen was the first one who made him realize that this job could get one of them killed.

And then Stephen went and got himself killed.

Really, that’s not funny at all, because Stephen was smart and he was a good shot and he listened to Connor and had his back and Stephen’s dead.

Dead, just like that. He won’t show up to work anymore and he won’t be able to offer Connor advice. He’s just gone.

It’s unnerving. Because if someone like Stephen can die, then how does someone like Connor survive? To think, Connor’s fought to be a part of the action when he should have been running all along. Stephen wasn’t being mean to exclude him; he was trying to protect him. To save his life.

Connor has no choice now. He’s too far in this to back out now. But it’s not fun and games. It’s not an adventure. It’s a risk--an important risk--and Connor isn’t sure how to go out to each anomaly knowing that it might be his last.

He isn’t sure how, but when a call comes, he grabs his gun, checks his ammo and goes anyway. Somehow, it seems like Stephen might approve.

-o-

When Nick comes out alive, Abby is overjoyed.

When Nick explains in broken sentences about the sacrifice Stephen made, Abby can hardly make sense of it. Some of the staff head back to the ARC, but Abby doesn’t see the point. She doesn’t want to talk about it, not with government suits or anyone else for that matter. She’s alive and Connor’s alive and Cutter’s alive and Stephen’s dead and beyond these facts, Abby can’t think of much else.

Instead, she goes home. She feeds Rex, stroking him slightly, before going to her bedroom. She thinks about how angry she’d been at Stephen for asking her out when he was dating someone else. She remembers how scared she’d been when she thought Stephen might die. She remembers being so disappointed to find out he’d chosen Helen over the team. She remembers wishing he was there with them, when Leek had them captive.

She remembers. His blue eyes and his easy smile. His hair on end and his rumpled clothing. She remembers thinking maybe she had a chance with him, maybe there was something there.

She remembers. The look on his face when the truth came out. How she could never look at him the same. How every time he asked her opinion, all she could see was the hurt on Nick’s face. The world is black and white to Abby; right and wrong are right and wrong and Stephen wasn’t the man she thought he was.

But she remembers. The last time he talked to her, he wanted to do the right thing. He wanted to save people, not the way Cutter did, but save them all the same. He was still Stephen then. Not the guy who slept with Helen, not the one who left them to deal with a woolly mammoth on their own, but Stephen. Strong and flawed. Human.

She remembers. That she’s told her own lies and lived in her own shades of gray. Talk of moral absolutes seems silly in a line of work that couches itself in untruths. She remembers that the best of them are human and the worst of them just don’t know how to admit it.

She remembers.

Curling up on her bed, she clutches her pillow and a slow sob shakes her body. It’s followed by another until her cries fill the flat.

She remembers. She joined this project with hopes of understanding new creatures, of protecting the animals as best she could. It’d seemed so simple. So noble. So black and white.

But now she thinks, if should could kill them all, if she could eradicate every one that came through the anomaly, she would.

She’d pull the trigger, no second thoughts, no hesitation at all. Because it’s still black and white, even if the shades have shifted and grown since this first began.

-o-

Nick doesn’t even miss a day of work. He doesn’t shed a tear at the funeral and doesn’t let himself slow down. He’d trusted his hunches and his knowledge and now Stephen was dead.

Never again.

Nick won’t call anyone else’s parents and tell them that there’d been a tragic accident. He won’t lie to the family of someone he cares about and say there’s nothing left of their son to bury from an animal attack on a remote dig. He won’t hold back when he should let go. He won’t let Helen win.

He understands now, what Stephen wanted. He understands why the lies were so hard for Stephen to stomach. He understands that it wasn’t just Helen’s influence that made Stephen want to tell the truth. The truth is better. The truth is necessary.

The truth is a luxury that the public doesn’t have, but it’s a necessity he won’t deprive his team of. Nick’s lapse in judgment cost his best friend his life, and he won’t lose anyone else. He’ll work harder, focus clearer, and make sure that nothing escapes his notice or control. He’s relied on luck too long. It’s time to be thorough, to be certain.

This determination is strong enough, but during the late nights at the ARC, sometimes Nick can’t help but remember. He’s given up his office at the college because he can’t stand the memories, but Stephen’s just as readily here as he is there. Stephen’s inside of him, and Nick was a fool for ever thinking that he could close the door on their friendship over someone like Helen.

Stephen betrayed him, but Nick betrayed him, too. He should have told Stephen more about Helen. He should have told Stephen that it wasn’t the affair that worried him, but Stephen’s trust of her. He should have made Stephen stay until he understood. He should have made Stephen stay until Nick understood, too.

Shaking his head, Nick breaks out of the reveries, trying to erase the image of Stephen’s body being broken, the blood on the floor, that look of apology and acceptance in his eyes.

Never again, Nick promises.

Never again.

Comments

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: November 6th, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC)
Stephen Anomaly

This one just brakes my heart.
I love how you portrayed the different characters and how they felt after Stephens death and how the world changed for them.
(And it's okay to not deal with the S2 final, I haven't excepted it either :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 6th, 2011 06:37 pm (UTC)
stephen smiles

In my attempts to come to grips with the way the second season ended, I think I needed to live it through the characters. It helped but I'm still not there. I may never be!

(And I'm glad you reviewed not only because reviews are nice but now I've been reminded to finish beta'ing for you!)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: November 27th, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC)

I agree, this is truly heartbreaking :( It's amazing how carefully you capture each character and how each of them moves so delicately right along the edge between what was and what is now becoming their new reality.

I'm really impressed with your writing style. One of my favorite sentences was Abby's

"Talk of moral absolutes seems silly in a line of work that couches itself in untruths."

Fabulous.

SeanJ

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: December 7th, 2011 09:29 pm (UTC)
stephen's eyes

This show completely kills me when I so much as think about it. I'm still trying to come to terms with it and until then, I'll probably have to keep writing angsty fic to cope.

So I'm glad there are a few people out there to read them :)

Thanks!

Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: January 4th, 2012 07:01 pm (UTC)
LOVE THIS!

LOVED these POVs about Stephen's death and how it affects them. Helen's is predictable cold and cruel and it hurts the most to read in many ways because she uses him and doesn't care about his death. The fact that it doesn't phase her other than a twinge of something she barely identifies, is true to character.

Fav Parts:

It seems sort of simple. One of them had to die, and she’s not going to give up her life and the thought of losing Nick that way is just too painful. Stephen is an easy and logical choice in this. He’s a mere human; a tool to her. He was means to an end, a purposeful play to her ultimate achievement.

She could stop him if she wants, but she doesn’t. Instead, she watches with a clinical detachment. When his screams stop, she is ready to acknowledge that it could have been much worse. After all, this is just one death of many; even one death of many she’s caused. She doesn’t love him and never has, so the fact that she doesn’t know what to do with his death is a strange and foreign feeling.

She’s not used to uncertainty. She’s not accustomed to doubt. And mostly, she’s entirely unfamiliar with the human notion of guilt.

--SO PAINFUL!

All other property damage and loss of life was thoroughly invisible to the public eye, thanks to the heroic efforts of Nick Cutter and Stephen Hart. She doesn’t even have to explain the events to Stephen’s family because Nick takes that responsibility upon himself, and that’s really that.

Except it’s not. Stephen is dead, and that loss hangs over the ARC like a cloud that just won’t break open. It’s the first death she doesn’t have to lie about and yet it’s the first death that makes her question if what she does is right at all.

Jenny tries not to think about, but she can’t help herself. She thinks, what if it had been her? What if it had been Nick? She’s not sure why that would be worse, but for a moment, she’s very, very grateful for Stephen Hart’s sacrifice.

-- LOVE Jenny's POV as her feelings for Nick grew.

Really, that’s not funny at all, because Stephen was smart and he was a good shot and he listened to Connor and had his back and Stephen’s dead.

Dead, just like that. He won’t show up to work anymore and he won’t be able to offer Connor advice. He’s just gone.

It’s unnerving. Because if someone like Stephen can die, then how does someone like Connor survive? To think, Connor’s fought to be a part of the action when he should have been running all along. Stephen wasn’t being mean to exclude him; he was trying to protect him. To save his life.

-- THIS WAS JUST SOB!! Connor's POV is so moving and so realistic. That someone as capable as Stephen could get killed, what chance does a person like Connor have? Of course Stephen's downfall was less about skill than about misguided trust. I think the scene where he captures that creature all on his own just before he's "lured" to his demise with Helen was proof of that.

She thinks about how angry she’d been at Stephen for asking her out when he was dating someone else. She remembers how scared she’d been when she thought Stephen might die. She remembers being so disappointed to find out he’d chosen Helen over the team. She remembers wishing he was there with them, when Leek had them captive.

She remembers. His blue eyes and his easy smile. His hair on end and his rumpled clothing. She remembers thinking maybe she had a chance with him, maybe there was something there.

--Another GREAT POV!!!

Nick won’t call anyone else’s parents and tell them that there’d been a tragic accident. He won’t lie to the family of someone he cares about and say there’s nothing left of their son to bury from an animal attack on a remote dig. He won’t hold back when he should let go. He won’t let Helen win.

Shaking his head, Nick breaks out of the reveries, trying to erase the image of Stephen’s body being broken, the blood on the floor, that look of apology and acceptance in his eyes.

Never again, Nick promises.

Never again.

--THUD!!!!!

*Off to do more sobbing! Wonderful!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 5th, 2012 02:24 pm (UTC)
Re: LOVE THIS!
stephen cutter sit

In order to cope with Stephen's untimely demise, I had to write a decent amount of fic and having other characters grapple with it was sort of therapeutic (though, not entirely effective as I'm STILL not really over it). I love your point about Stephen's downfall not really being his skills (and you're right with the juxtaposition of his successful solo capture just hours before his death) but his misguided trust.

Makes me really hate Helen all over again. I should never fall for characters who die; I simply do not cope well!!

Anyway, thank you for reading and reviewing! It always means a lot :)

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