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Primeval fic: Whatever Waits Beyond

January 29th, 2012 (10:20 pm)
Tags: ,

Title: Whatever Waits Beyond

Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters.

A/N: I sometimes have the random desire to just write from prompts, so I perused the teamfest prompts at primeval_denial and saw this one from kerry_louise: Nick/Stephen – and, when you can’t go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward. A quick beta was given by sendintheklowns but remaining mistakes are because I fail at typing (and sounding British).

Spoilers/warnings: Strictly canon based, with spoilers through mid S3, and this is definitely not denial friendly. But still maybe sort of a happy ending? Also the start is a bit violent.

Summary: It’s not heaven, but it’s not hell.



-o-

The last thing Stephen sees isn’t Nick’s face. That’s one of the last things, to be sure. He holds eye contact as long as he can, keeps his eyes fixed and focused because it’s the one thing left that matters. He’s lost sight of that for too long and now, when the end is coming, he wants to hold onto that and nothing else.

But when the first predator moves at him, Stephen is pushed to the floor. Pain sears across his back and something warm and sticky spills out of his stomach. He’s tossed, rolled onto his back and he sees the flash of teeth as the animal buries its snout into the flesh of his chest.

Head back, Stephen screams, mouth open and eyes wide in disbelief as something latches onto his leg and rips.

It’s getting away from him now, slipping further and further and there’s nothing he can do except lay there and wait for the end to come.

He looks up. His eyes are still open. The sounds fade; the world dissipates. And when he sees the bright light, he thinks it’s not so unlike an anomaly, but instead of the past or the future, this one takes him home.

-o-

It’s not heaven, but it’s not hell. Stephen’s not sure what it is, but the landscape is vast and barren. There’s not much to eat or drink, but that’s okay, because Stephen discovers he’s not thirsty or hungry.

He’s not anything. He just is.

It seems like there should be more, something to do. There’s not.

So Stephen starts walking, and he might look back if there were anything left to see.

-o-

Stephen remembers his life; he remembers Nick’s punch and Helen’s kiss. He remembers Abby saying she sided with Cutter and Connor still asking for advice. He remembers the scorpion on the beach and that Lester’s not the enemy.

He remembers everything, from the look on Nick’s face outside the door to the time Helen stripped him down and told him to just let go.

He remembers wilderness research in South America. He remembers sharpshooting in school. He remembers playing football on the pitch; he remembers skinning his knees and crying to his mother as she washed him up.

He remembers.

It seems like all that matters, but at this point, in this place, he’s not sure how.

-o-

The sun is always shining here, bleak and lukewarm. The sky is painted in shades of gray and blue, muted against the expanse. When he climbs the mountains, he is never out of breath and when he runs down into the valleys, it’s all the same.

Stephen wonders if this is the point. Maybe this is hell. Maybe the emptiness is what this place is about. Maybe he’s supposed to spend this afterlife working but never gaining, moving but never achieving. It’s an apt punishment, he thinks. For trusting the wrong people, for forgetting the things that matter.

He should have done so much different. He sees that now. But with all the time he has to know that, there’s still nothing he can do to change it.

There’s just nothing.

-o-

Stephen jumps off the highest cliff. He dives into the deepest ocean. He blasts through mountains and digs through the ground.

He fights against the landscape until his fists are bloody and his clothes are ragged. He tears at his hair and walks over rocks in his bare feet. But the wounds heal and the stitches repair themselves and Stephen’s right back where he began.

Frustrated, he kicks the earth and screams at the sky, fighting – and failing – against the inevitability of his fate.

-o-

He doesn’t know how much time has passed. This makes sense, he supposes. Eternity is an impossible concept to grasp, and every second is a day is a month is a year. It’s been millennia since he was with the people he cared about and he’s as close to them as he is far apart.

Because they still matter. His mistakes still matter. He can see that now, more than ever. He can see every misstep, from believing Helen’s last phone call to sleeping with her in the first place. She used him all along, and he always believed her. Always followed her.

He’d been stupid and naïve. He’d never meant to hurt Nick, but he’d never meant anything. That’s the greatest sin in Stephen’s life, not the mistakes but the lack of prescience to fix them. He let them fester, grow, mutate, until there was nothing he could do.

Stephen stares out across the empty land. It rises and falls, and the horizon is gray where the sky meets this new and lifeless earth.

There’s nothing he can do.

-o-

Stephen learns to accept. He learns to accept that he deserves this. He learns to accept that his mistakes are entirely his own. He learns to accept that his life isn’t justified by his death. He learns to accept that this place is all he has left.

He hopes that he saved the rest of them. He hopes that Nick understood in the end. He hopes that Helen hurts no one else.

It’s a meager hope, but it’s all he has.

A bleak eternity and the flicker of possibility. It’s not much, but as Stephen walks on, it’s enough.

-o-

There is no day and there is no night. Stephen’s never walked the same two plains here, and no matter how many times he tries to mark a trail, he’s still as lost as he was when he came here.

He knows he could stop. He could just sit still. But somehow, he can’t. It’s not in his nature, so he just keeps walking.

Then, something changes.

It’s so unexpected that for a moment, Stephen thinks he may be imagining it. Because there, in front of him, is a glittering vortex.

It’s an anomaly.

He stops and stares, not sure what it means. He considers running to it, jumping through. Maybe he’s not dead. Maybe there’s something more, something better.

Maybe it’s a trick. Maybe it’s a mistake.

None of it matters.

The anomaly flickers. And starts to fade. Then it bursts brightly and a form comes stumbling through before the thing winks out entirely.

Stephen can’t pay any attention to that, though. He’s too busy looking to the ground where the bedraggled figure is pushing up to his feet.

The man rises. Blue eyes meet Stephen’s and recognition dawns.

Stephen’s chest is tight, his stomach clenched. “Hello, Nick.”

-o-

Nick died in Connor’s arms. The ARC was on fire and Helen had a clone following her around. She was trying to do something, but Cutter wasn’t sure what. All he knew for certain was that she’d gone mad completely, put a bullet in his gut and left him for dead.

Cutter tells this story with clinical detachment. Stephen listens with much the same. Here, life and death are less pressing, no more or less important than the other things they remember. Together, they’re seated side by side, not far from where Cutter appeared from nowhere.

“Where is this place?” Nick finally asks.

Stephen glances around and shrugs. “Don’t know.”

“And you’ve been here this entire time?” he asks.

Stephen offers him a wan smile. “You’ll get used to it.”

-o-

Now they walk side by side. Nick asks questions and he tries all the things that Stephen’s already mastered. They climb the mountains; they run in the valleys. They try flying off the cliffs and swimming through the seas.

They talk about what used to be, sometimes. They talk about regret. Stephen says, “I’m sorry I lied to you.”

Cutter laughs, not bitter, just resigned. “Me, too,” he says.

And they walk on.

-o-

They carve through the rocks and build caves, then homes, then cities. While they work, Cutter says, “I never got over your death.”

Stephen doesn’t stop. “You should have,” he says.

Cutter stands still and looks at him until Stephen stops what he’s doing and looks back. “I couldn’t,” he says. “I never knew how.”

“Well,” Stephen says, looking out over their work. “I guess it doesn’t matter now, does it?”

At that, Cutter laughs – relieved and agreeing – and they get back to work.

-o-

Most of the time, it’s okay.

Sometimes, it’s not.

They still remember, after all. They remember what it was like to be alive, and they remember why they died. “You were stupid,” Cutter tells him.

Stephen nods. “I know.”

“I wanted to hate you.”

Stephen inclines his head. “You should have.”

“I didn’t,” Nick admits.

Stephen looks at him. “Why not?”

“Because the past was always behind us,” he says. He sighs and shrugs. “That’s what Helen lost track of, in and out of time. She thought it still mattered. She was wrong, though. The past doesn’t matter. What’s ahead, that’s what matters most.”

Stephen’s smile is wry. “Now, more than ever.”

Cutter claps him on the shoulder, and they walk on.

-o-

Eternity is unsentimental. It’s neither hard nor easy; it just is.

Together, they discover more. They learn how to paint pictures with their blood on the vast sands of the deserts and create weather with their tears to play across the expanse of the sky. They chart new lands and plot expeditions into the unknown. They have nothing but they need nothing.

This makes Nick happy. He starts to smile more, and his eyes are alive with the never-ending discovery. They make disturbances in the universe and watch time and space meld to their wishes.

It’s fascinating to say the least, and Stephen will do anything Cutter asks of him. But it’s not this plane, not this place that fascinates Stephen. It’s Nick.

He realises: it’s always been Nick.

-o-

They learn each other in a whole new way. Over eight years in life, Stephen had become Cutter’s go-to man. He’d been his best friend.

He knows more now.

He knows every nuance of Cutter’s disposition. He knows what he’s thinking; he knows what he’s going to say before he says it. They’re a perfect set, implicitly matched, and Stephen feels like this is how it was meant to be, how it could have been. Two souls, bonded together. Not by convenience, not even by choice. Just by their very nature, by all that they are.

And eternity suddenly doesn’t seem so long.

-o-

Stephen no longer thinks about what once was. He doesn’t think about what might be. He doesn’t need to. He doesn’t even want to.

He is happy here. Happy to watch Nick, happy to create and explore and be. He wants nothing more than this. Ever.

This isn’t hell after all. The emptiness is not a punishment, it’s a second chance. He just needed to fill it with something better. Mostly, he just needed Nick.

This is enough for Stephen.

Then, another anomaly appears.

It’s been so long and life seems so distant that Stephen hardly remembers what it is.

Still, Cutter’s breath catches. He’s stopped in his tracks, transfixed with the spectacle as though it’s the first time, all over again “Where does it go?” he asks, voice filled with awe.

Stephen shrugs. “I don’t know.”

“Is someone coming through?” Cutter asks, still staring, still trying to understand as only Cutter could.

Stephen still doesn’t know. They wait, but no one comes. It just remains where it is, flickering and glittering brightly in the world they’ve created.

“I think we should go through it,” Nick says suddenly, and he turns to Stephen, eyes alive with hope.

Stephen stiffens at the thought. He is happy here. Happier than he’s ever been. He’s not sure he wants to leave.

But it’s clear in Cutter’s eyes: he wants to go. He needs to go. Cutter is drawn toward the unknown like a moth to a flame, and now that he has the thought of it, he’ll never be content to stay.

Stephen knows this time he has a choice. Go or stay. Choose Cutter or everything else good and perfect in this existence.

Really, that’s no choice at all. Stephen has chosen everything else in the past, and he won’t make that mistake again. He can’t change the past and he can’t control the future. But he knows the best way to move forward is by Nick’s side.

Always.

Even if that means giving up everything else.

Resolved, Stephen nods. “Okay,” he says.

A grin breaks out over Nick’s face and he turns back toward the anomaly. He hesitates, pressing closer to Stephen.

Stephen presses back. He should be scared, he thinks. He should be afraid of leaving, afraid of screwing up again.

He’s not, though. Not this time. Not with Nick.

Always with Nick.

They’ve found each other in two lifetimes, he thinks they can do it again. Do it as many times as it takes until time just runs out altogether.

Buoyed by this, Stephen takes the step forward and together they disappear into the anomaly into whatever waits beyond.

Comments

Page 1 of 2[1][2]
Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: January 30th, 2012 05:22 am (UTC)
Sparks


Love the idea of a place where Nick and Stephen can build cities together and explore, until they're at a point where they can move on - together!

Great imagery and yay for "They've found each other in two lifetimes"

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 31st, 2012 12:41 am (UTC)
stephen's eyes

They deserve their happily ever after. If not in this life, then another.

Thanks :)

Posted by: freddiejoey (freddiejoey)
Posted at: January 30th, 2012 08:43 am (UTC)

Loved this.

Full of beautiful lines.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 31st, 2012 12:41 am (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

Thank you so much :)

Posted by: clea2011 (clea2011)
Posted at: January 30th, 2012 09:13 am (UTC)

That's absolutely beautiful. Lovely fic

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 31st, 2012 12:41 am (UTC)
stephen cutter

I'm glad you liked it :) Thanks!

Posted by: talliw (talliw)
Posted at: January 30th, 2012 09:54 am (UTC)

That's a wonderful description of an afterlife. A place to refect on his mistakes and learn to value what really counts. Really neat idea.

They learn how to paint pictures with their blood on the vast sands of the deserts
A scaring but nevertheless poetic image.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 31st, 2012 12:43 am (UTC)
stephen broken

I definitely think Stephen could use an afterlife or two to make sense of how everything ended for him.

Thanks :)

Posted by: The Libran Iniquity (tli)
Posted at: January 30th, 2012 10:30 am (UTC)
Nick Cutter

Oh, wow.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 31st, 2012 12:43 am (UTC)
stephen smiles

Hopefully that's a good wow. Thanks :)

Posted by: The Libran Iniquity (tli)
Posted at: January 31st, 2012 06:23 am (UTC)

Posted by: reggietate (reggietate)
Posted at: January 30th, 2012 02:53 pm (UTC)
prettyboys

That's so very beautiful and moving. *wipes away a happy-sad tear*

As long as they're together they'll be all right.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 31st, 2012 12:45 am (UTC)
stephen angsty

Yeah, I have enough trouble accepting their fates on the show, so I do like to think they got another chance to make it better.

Thanks!

Posted by: nietie (nietie)
Posted at: January 30th, 2012 03:02 pm (UTC)
Nick/StephenBW

The emptiness is not a punishment, it’s a second chance. Gorgeous. And both Stephen and Nick deserve that second chance.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 31st, 2012 12:45 am (UTC)
stephen up

They really do deserve a second chance. Thanks!

Posted by: Celeste (celeste9)
Posted at: January 30th, 2012 03:22 pm (UTC)
primeval: team

This was lovely. In the beginning it seems so bleak, and Stephen's frustration is so palpable, but I love how it ends up being a place where Nick and Stephen can come to terms with everything so that they can finally move on. Really nice imagery.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 31st, 2012 12:47 am (UTC)
stephen cutter

It's not necessarily how I envision the afterlife, but it seemed appropriate for Stephen and Nick.

Thanks!

Posted by: lukadreaming (lukadreaming)
Posted at: January 30th, 2012 03:38 pm (UTC)
Nick and Stephen distant

*Snivels a little*

Lovely lines and vivid images.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: March 17th, 2012 07:09 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter

Somehow I missed replying to this comment. For that, I apologize! I sometimes don't have a lot of time to do replies, and this must have gotten lost in the shuffle :)

But still, thank you! Even if I am a few months overdue.

Posted by: fredbassett (fredbassett)
Posted at: January 30th, 2012 04:10 pm (UTC)

That was lovely! Beautiful imagery and very moving.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 31st, 2012 12:48 am (UTC)
stephen smiles

I'm very glad you liked it! I had a good time writing this one. Thanks :)

Posted by: fififolle (fififolle)
Posted at: January 30th, 2012 08:36 pm (UTC)
OMG!! cat

OMG! I wonder where it goes!! This was really fabulous. Fantastic story! *claps loudly*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 31st, 2012 04:35 am (UTC)
stephen cutter

I sort of wish I knew where it goes, too!

Thanks :)

Posted by: knitekat (knitekat)
Posted at: January 30th, 2012 08:50 pm (UTC)

Brilliant.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 31st, 2012 04:35 am (UTC)
stephen up

Thank you :)

Posted by: jooles34 (jooles34)
Posted at: January 31st, 2012 09:14 am (UTC)

This was just beautiful. Fabulous imagery and lovely look at Stephen and then Stephen and Nick getting a second chance to deal with everything.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 6th, 2012 05:42 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter

It's nice to think of them getting another chance that they were denied on screen.

Thanks :)

Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: February 1st, 2012 01:00 am (UTC)
Wow!

I LOVED what you did with this. There is this lovely sense of closure you create here. You give them a happy ending that they were robbed of in life. It's poignant and it's beautiful. It focuses on the beauty of their friendship and how eternal it really is. WONDERFUL!



Fav Parts:

But when the first predator moves at him, Stephen is pushed to the floor. Pain sears across his back and something warm and sticky spills out of his stomach. He’s tossed, rolled onto his back and he sees the flash of teeth as the animal buries its snout into the flesh of his chest.

Head back, Stephen screams, mouth open and eyes wide in disbelief as something latches onto his leg and rips.

It’s getting away from him now, slipping further and further and there’s nothing he can do except lay there and wait for the end to come.

He looks up. His eyes are still open. The sounds fade; the world dissipates. And when he sees the bright light, he thinks it’s not so unlike an anomaly, but instead of the past or the future, this one takes him home.

--SO AMAZING!! I FELT IT! And sobbed for him!!

It’s an apt punishment, he thinks. For trusting the wrong people, for forgetting the things that matter.

He should have done so much different. He sees that now. But with all the time he has to know that, there’s still nothing he can do to change it.

There’s just nothing.

--SO ACHINGLY HOPELESS!!


Nick died in Connor’s arms. The ARC was on fire and Helen had a clone following her around. She was trying to do something, but Cutter wasn’t sure what. All he knew for certain was that she’d gone mad completely, put a bullet in his gut and left him for dead.

Cutter tells this story with clinical detachment. Stephen listens with much the same. Here, life and death are less pressing, no more or less important than the other things they remember. Together, they’re seated side by side, not far from where Cutter appeared from nowhere.

-- I LOVE this idea that they might meet. When Nick died shortly after Stephen, it left such a useless hole both in the plot and on the show itself. The two primary characters that drive the discovery of the anomalies, both gone within a short time of each other. It was both pathetically futile and sad.

They carve through the rocks and build caves, then homes, then cities. While they work, Cutter says, “I never got over your death.”

Stephen doesn’t stop. “You should have,” he says.

Cutter stands still and looks at him until Stephen stops what he’s doing and looks back. “I couldn’t,” he says. “I never knew how.”

“Well,” Stephen says, looking out over their work. “I guess it doesn’t matter now, does it?”

At that, Cutter laughs – relieved and agreeing – and they get back to work.

--BEAUTIFUL resolution of sorts! And you know I LOVED the admission by Nick and Stephen's matter of fact response.



GREAT STORY!!!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 6th, 2012 05:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Wow!
stephen cutter

I know I've said this before, but your reviews truly do make me smile.

As much as I love to write Billy (and you know how much I love to write Billy!), there's a different drive when it comes to writing Stephen. With Billy, I just want to beat him up; with Stephen, I want to fix him. And I'll probably write countless fics trying to do just that. (And countless more just hurting Billy, LOL!)

And I've tried to talk myself into watching later seasons of Primeval but I just can't find it in me. For me, the show was Nick and Stephen (and also, by extension, Helen). I mean, yeah there were other characters who I loved and dinosaurs that I enjoyed but that relationship and that conflict was what drove it for me. And as weird as it sounds given my JM love, I could probably watch the show without Stephen, but without Nick? He was the heart and soul. For him to be gone...just doesn't parse.

Really, I just want Nick and Stephen to work it out and TALK. There was so much there between them that just got lost and we never got to see the much needed reconciliation.

Anyway, I'm rambling a bit. I find that this show does that to me :)

Thank you!

Posted by: Cordelia Delayne (cordeliadelayne)
Posted at: February 3rd, 2012 11:48 pm (UTC)
[primeval] armed!becker

Oh, this was wonderful. Fabulous imagery.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 6th, 2012 05:46 pm (UTC)
stephen hair

Thanks :)

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