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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Primeval fic: Thou Art Thyself (Second Life verse)

August 5th, 2012 (09:36 pm)
pessimistic

feeling: pessimistic

Title: Thou Art Thyself

Disclaimer: I do not own Primeval or feral Stephen.

A/N: This is the next bit in the Continued Adventures of Feral Stephen. Continued thanks to lena7142 who humors me, betas for me and generally makes my life awesome. And she also created feral Stephen, so she wins at everything.

Summary: Coming back here, it became apparent to Stephen that it wasn’t that everyone else had forgotten him -- it was that he had forgotten himself.



-o-

When Helen had first left Stephen in the Permian, he thought often about going home. He thought about continuing his studies and kissing the cute girl in his anthropology class. He thought about playing football with his mates and buying a flat of his own after graduation.

Almost a decade later, none of those things had happened. None of those things were going to happen. Stephen came home to a life that wasn’t his own, to friends who had forgotten him and coworkers who had already mourned him.

Someone had lived his life, and now Stephen was left with the aftermath.

When he was finally released from the hospital and cleared by Lester to resume his life, he found that there wasn’t much life to resume. The things of his days at university were long gone, only distant memories in someone else’s life. Now he’d been given those remnants, for whatever they were worth.

And they were sparse remnants at that. His clone had only been dead for a few months, so apparently no one had got around to cleaning out his flat or tidying up his locker at the ARC. Stephen wondered what this said about the man, who was liked and well-regarded but still ultimately alone.

Stephen at least knew how that last part felt. As for the others, no one had really known what to say to him since he’d got back, and everyone but Cutter still made him want to run in the opposite direction. He knew they meant well, but they made him nervous. People had obscure motivations; they weren’t transparent in their desires and intent. He couldn’t trust them -- couldn’t trust anyone except Cutter. Because Cutter hadn’t left him when he had the chance. He had endured Stephen’s dourness, his bitterness, his crassness. Cutter had taken it all and still saved his life.

It wasn’t so much that Stephen owed Cutter, just that he believed Cutter wanted what was best for him. He trusted that. In this surreal new life, that was the only constant he had.

The rest of them he barely knew. They came and they hemmed and hawed, and they seemed nice, but Stephen had no way of knowing if they truly wanted what was best for him or if they would leave him when it was convenient.

But what else was he going to do? Find an anomaly and run back to the past?

No, that was what Helen had wanted. She’d left him there to die, and if he had any motivation to make sense of his life, proving her wrong was it.

That was all easier said than done, of course, and the minute he stepped into his clone’s flat, he began to realise just how daunting this task was. Predators were easy to understand. Surviving this, on the other hand...

Stephen wasn’t even sure where to begin.

The flat wasn’t anything special, Stephen reckoned, but it had all the amenities someone in the modern world would want. Some mornings, Stephen still marveled at electricity and he had to admit, there was something enjoyable about a warm shower even if he couldn’t quite justify the habit daily. The flat was also well lit with natural light, which Stephen found that he appreciated more than he might have before.

And it was a simple space. At first, Stephen had thought his clone’s friends had cleaned the place up a bit, but a closer look suggested otherwise. It wasn’t just that his clone had been tidy -- that much was painfully obvious -- but he’d been woefully boring.

Maybe that wasn’t fair, but Stephen wasn’t so big into things being fair.

He also wasn’t particularly into streamlined modern decor.

Or mirrors.

The reflections made Stephen tense, and every time he saw himself move, he tensed, ready to strike before he realised that the only person there to fight was himself.

It was an apt metaphor, he reckoned.

Still, that didn’t mean he had to like it.

Some of the old music and books were his, though his clone had added a few odd choices over the years. There were research articles and academic journals to consider, but when Stephen started to read them, he began scribbling notes in them about all the flaws and inaccuracies.

Which of course reminded him that he could barely remember how to write.

Ten years in the Permian and he could kill any predator, but the fact was, he was only marginally literate any more. That would have bothered him once, but he wasn’t sure there was a point to it now.

Not that he was sure what the point was.

There he was. Healed and healthy and home. By all accounts, it should have been a happy story. One of triumph and dedication and the glory of humanity’s ability to survive.

Stephen, however, just felt stupid.

Stupid because he’d slept with Helen in the first place. Stupid because after a decade of doing things on his own, he barely knew which way was up or down now. Stupid because all the things people cared about here weren’t things that mattered any more. Stupid because these people who wanted to be his friends didn’t know him at all.

Stupid because no one in his life had even realised he was gone. Stupid because everyone had loved his clone and didn’t even know one thing about him.

Not that he could blame them. He didn’t even know himself any more.

A decade on his own had given him ample time for self reflection. However, as the years had passed, he had thought less and less about himself and more and more about everything else. About how to make better clothes. About how to catch food more efficiently. About how to set up his camp so it was virtually impenetrable. About how to sharpen blades.

Coming back here, it became apparent to him that it wasn’t that everyone else had forgotten him -- it was that he had forgotten himself.

So he cleaned the flat. He took the job at the ARC. He learned to shower and shave, to dress and make small talk. He had no choice but to accept Cutter’s guidance, trusting him to lead him around the modern world since Stephen couldn’t manage it on his own. He endured Connor’s odd stories. He humored Abby’s shy glances. He tolerated Claudia’s determination to cover things up and Lester’s exhausting superiority. He went to pubs, worked out with the others. He trained, researched, went on calls. He helped people. He did the right thing.

Because that was what one did to survive. You adapted. You changed. And someday you might flourish.

If you didn’t, then you died.

So Stephen didn’t know who he was; didn’t even have a clue. But the one thing he did know, the one certainty he had, was that he wanted to live long enough to find out.

Comments

Posted by: goldarrow (goldarrow)
Posted at: August 6th, 2012 03:00 am (UTC)

Wow, that is both sad and wonderful at the same time.

"Someone had lived his life, and now Stephen was left with the aftermath."
Beautiful line. Perfect!

"It wasn’t just that his clone had been tidy -- that much was painfully obvious -- but he’d been woefully boring."
*snorfle*

Love the bit about him thinking less and less about himself and more about other things. Very good description of the changes he went through.

"But the one thing he did know, the one certainty he had, was that he wanted to live long enough to find out."
Yay for Determined!Stephen. If he can survive the Permian, he can make it through modern society - always assuming he can figure out how to let the others in. . .

More? ;D

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 8th, 2012 08:52 pm (UTC)
feral stephen

As amusing as feral Stephen can be, he comes with his own share of angst, given what happened to him. Anyway, I'm glad you liked it.

Thank you!

Posted by: flaccidduck (flaccidduck)
Posted at: August 6th, 2012 03:21 am (UTC)
Abby

Just fabulous!


"Because that was what one did to survive. You adapted. You changed. And someday you might flourish.

If you didn’t, then you died."

*hugs Stephen*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 8th, 2012 08:52 pm (UTC)
feral stephen

I imagine adapting back to the modern world would be more challenging than we think.

Thanks!

Posted by: freddiejoey (freddiejoey)
Posted at: August 6th, 2012 05:46 am (UTC)
Lester and Jess Pri

This is a magnificent 'verse and I'm loving all your insights into post-Permian Stephen

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 8th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter

I'm really glad you're enjoying it! It's been a blast to write.

Thanks!

Posted by: lukadreaming (lukadreaming)
Posted at: August 6th, 2012 08:30 am (UTC)
Stephen bruise

This is absolutely gorgeous fic - both sad and uplifting at the same time. I loved it.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 8th, 2012 08:54 pm (UTC)
stephen skeptical

Stephen's story is very much a mixed bag -- there's good and bad in there, and sometimes that has to be hard for him to cope with.

Thanks!

Posted by: reggietate (reggietate)
Posted at: August 6th, 2012 09:22 am (UTC)
sadstephen

Lovely and slightly bittersweet. Of course, it would take a long time for Stephen to find himself in the modern world, and you've captured it beautifully.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 8th, 2012 08:55 pm (UTC)
stephen's eyes

It's just nice that he's back IN the modern world to have the chance to figure it out!

Thanks :)

Posted by: fredbassett (fredbassett)
Posted at: August 6th, 2012 09:52 am (UTC)
PriWriMo - Stephen - plot

Great look at all the changes Stephen would have to endure to survive in this world.

The idea of someone having lived his life is a very strange one and this captured that stangeness beautifully..

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 8th, 2012 08:56 pm (UTC)
stephen skeptical

It would be strange -- I'm glad it came across in the fic!

Thanks!

Posted by: nietie (nietie)
Posted at: August 6th, 2012 12:57 pm (UTC)
Sad

What an intense insight. So sad, but thank god that the last sentence showed Stephen's optimism and resilience.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 8th, 2012 08:56 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter

Stephen's a survivor at this point, so he's going to make it one way or another. It might be harder than he thinks, but when he starts letting himself trust others, that'll get easier :)

Thanks!

Posted by: knitekat (knitekat)
Posted at: August 6th, 2012 09:25 pm (UTC)

Lovely bittersweet insight into feral!Stephen.

Any more?

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 8th, 2012 08:57 pm (UTC)
stephen smiles

More should be coming in the next day or so. Just need to get it ready to post!

Thanks!

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: August 6th, 2012 10:27 pm (UTC)
Blurred


I love this! The mixture of the angsty and the humorous, and Stephen being in quite a unique situation in a life that was hijacked on two fronts...

Yes, those mirrors would cause him to react! Again, Stephen is adapting to his new environment and is determined to conquer it. Yay *G*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 8th, 2012 08:58 pm (UTC)
stephen shocked

Poor Stephen. No matter what version of him we have, he's seriously angsty.

And the mirrors would be horrible for someone like him! Poor guy!

Thanks :)

Posted by: natchris (natchris)
Posted at: August 6th, 2012 10:29 pm (UTC)
Wolfbane

Terrific stuff in every way

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 8th, 2012 08:58 pm (UTC)
feral stephen

Thanks!

Posted by: judithjohn (judithjohn)
Posted at: August 6th, 2012 10:36 pm (UTC)
don't mess with us

"Stupid because no one in his life had even realised he was gone. Stupid because everyone had loved his clone and didn’t even know one thing about him.

Not that he could blame them. He didn’t even know himself any more"

This is so powerful!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 8th, 2012 08:59 pm (UTC)
stephen up

I'm really glad you enjoyed it. Thank you!

Posted by: clea2011 (clea2011)
Posted at: August 7th, 2012 09:36 pm (UTC)
Stephen

Gorgeous addition to the series.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 8th, 2012 08:59 pm (UTC)
feral stephen

Thank you so much :)

Posted by: lsellersfic (lsellersfic)
Posted at: August 9th, 2012 07:10 pm (UTC)
Primeval:Stephen

Cool examination of the aftermath of Point of Origin!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 13th, 2012 09:19 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

Thank you!

Posted by: aelfgyfu_mead (aelfgyfu_mead)
Posted at: October 6th, 2012 11:47 pm (UTC)
Primeval

Stupid because no one in his life had even realised he was gone
And that must hurt most of all, I would think!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: October 15th, 2012 09:27 pm (UTC)
stephen goodbye

The angst of everything he's been through -- it's hard to even imagine!

Thanks :)

Posted by: Evil Insane Monkey (eviinsanemonkey)
Posted at: November 17th, 2012 01:09 pm (UTC)

Aww, Feral Stephen!! ♥

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: November 20th, 2012 04:17 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter

He is rather lovable despite his best intentions :)

Thanks!

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