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Primeval fic: No Matter What the Ending (7/7)

June 28th, 2015 (08:53 pm)
thoughtful

feeling: thoughtful

A/N: Sorry that I'm just squeaking this part in -- the day ended up a bit unexpected for me. Nonetheless, I do appreciate those who stuck with this fic. I know it was more than somewhat complicated, so I hope the ending pays off. Again, much thanks to kristen_mara, who really was a saint to put up with this beta. And none of this would be possible without lsellersfic, who deserve all due credit once again.

PART ONE
PART TWO
PART THREE
PART FOUR
PART FIVE
PART SIX



-o-

They’ve jumped into a fire; they’ve slipped into a room with circling deadly predators. They’ve killed the villain of the story and saved the heroes.

All in all, it’s been quite an adventure.

Which makes this last stop seem somewhat anticlimactic.

They’re in London, though Abby hasn’t actually been to this particularly location. She recognizes the name of the university from Cutter, Stephen and Connor, but she’d never had need to go there herself. In fact, as they’d started the anomaly project, the university had seemed more like a convenient cover story than an actual part of their lives.

This is where it started, though, in a very large part. This is where Helen Cutter had worked, where she had posited her theories and been thoroughly discredited. This was where her marriage had fallen apart and where she’d seduced Stephen when he was a student.

This was where she’d disappeared from, where her wild theories turned into practical nightmares for everyone involved.

This was where she took her first steps toward ending the world.

It was also, not so coincidentally, where Connor Temple had been this close to failing out of school before he found a newspaper article about the Forest of Dean.

They need to change the ending of this story, but the beginning is still important for what it is. For Helen, for Cutter, for Stephen.

And even for Connor.

“This is it, then,” Jenny announces, snagging a newspaper from outside the girls dormitory where they’d made the jump. The building is not only conveniently next to Connor’s place, but they’d jumped into a bathroom. Within five minutes, they’d had time to change and get cleaned up. Now, armed only with a newspaper, they are ready for the last task at hand.

“University life,” Sarah muses. “I can’t say I miss it.”

“Oh, to be young and stupid again,” Jenny chuckles.

Abby looks at the dormitory next to them, feeling suddenly out of place. The feeling is only intensified when she sees Connor come out the front door, his friends no more than a step behind.

Suppressing the urge to yelp, Abby turns quickly and then tries to look inconspicuous. Her fear is slightly irrational, she realizes a beat too late. Connor won’t recognize her. He can’t. They haven’t met yet.

Even so, a little secrecy isn’t a bad thing, and Sarah and Jenny follow her lead, studiously looking in the opposite direction while Connor sighs dramatically on the steps.

“If I don’t come up with something, I’m not going to pass the class,” Connor says.

“I thought your last paper was brilliant,” one of his friends replies.

“I don’t think Professor Cutter agreed,” Connor bemoans.

“You can’t afford to fail another class, Conn,” the other friend says.

“I know!” Connor says. “Why do you think I’m feeling so bothered right now?”

Connor would have people believe he’s a wonder kid, and it is true, he has a knack for things that other people don’t. But his skills are well suited for a place like the ARC.

Anywhere else, however, he’s something of a hopeless cause.

Too eager about all the wrong things. Too impractical about what he chooses to deem important. It doesn’t help that he surrounds himself by people who are too much like him, and not strong, stable forces like Cutter or Stephen.

No wonder Abby hadn’t thought of him like that in the beginning.

Connor Temple still had to grow up.

That was why he needed the Forest of Dean.

Because the rest of them needed the man Connor would become.

Abby closed her eyes.

She needed the man he would become.

It wasn’t outright attraction; it wasn’t love at first sight. It wasn’t fate or star-crossed lovers or any other such nonsense.

It was just something that Abby knew.

Between Robbie Dayton and a lizard, Abby probably would have picked the lizard.

Between Stephen and a lizard, she actually might have picked Stephen.

With Connor, though, she’d get both.

With Connor, she’d get everything.

With Connor.

She grits her teeth and tries to remind herself: not quite everything.

“Anyway,” Connor continues, sounding a little dejected. “I should probably go. Maybe Professor Cutter will actually show up to lecture this time.”

His friends offer him warm platitudes as he leaves, passing close enough to Abby that the hair on the back of her neck stands up and she lets out a breath, finally opening her eyes again. Glancing behind her, she sees Connor disappearing down the street, his familiar dark head bobbing through the crowd and toward the campus. It hurts a little, to remember how he’d been in the beginning. It hurts a little more to think of the man he’d become.

Turning back, Sarah is watching her intently. Jenny holds out a newspaper.

“Are you ready to do this?” Sarah asks.

“I don’t mean to rush you, but we are on the clock,” Jenny says.

Her hands are shaking when she reaches out, taking the paper. Jenny has folded it to the article, and Abby feels her mouth go dry.

“We’ll be right here,” Sarah promises.

Abby shakes her head, almost out of instinct. “But the plan--”

“The plan is fine,” Sarah says.

It cuts through the haze, the sudden memory of the plan. It’s remarkable how distant it seems, almost like a dream. But it’s an important dream, one she won’t let them compromise for her sake.

“No,” she says with more vehemence than she expects. It startles her, and she remembers herself. “No.

Jenny’s expression softens. “Abby, we know this is hard--”

Abby shakes her head with even more force. “Of course you do,” she says. “Because you each did it. You did what you needed to do, and you didn’t need to be coddled. We’re a team, and we’re better together, but this is my part. This is my turn. And if I’m going to do it, then I need you to do yours.”

Sarah looks a little surprised, but Jenny starts to smile.

“Please,” Abby adds, faltering just a little now.

“We’ll get the car,” Jenny says.

“And we’ll be back for you,” Sarah promises.

“Five minutes,” Abby tells them, summoning all her confidence. “I’ll meet you in five minutes.”

“If you change your mind--” Sarah starts.

“I won’t,” Abby vows.

Not in this lifetime, anyway.

-o-

Abby feels like she’s been here before.

Robbie Dayton is putting that lizard down her shirt, and a little boy chases a lizard into the Forest of Dean. She’s lying about her credentials, and secretly she’s relieved when Connor’s invited back on the team.

These are the moments, she knows. The moments she’s going to remember, even when time stretches so far that she forgets to keep track. The moments that count; the moments that put everything else into perspective. The moments that a lifetime are built on.

The moments that underpin eternity.

With all that, it seems almost comically simple that it comes down to this. That, at the beginning, all she has to do is give a boy a newspaper and change the world.

It’s simple.

And so desperately complicated.

That’s why she needed eternity.

Just to get through this one moment.

With a steadying breath, she looks at the paper, running her fingers along the creases as she climbs the steps. Connor’s friends are still there, leaning against one of the flower beds outside their dormitory. She knows them from her research, of course, but she remembers them from real life as well. Theirs had been a brief acquaintance, and a tragic one at that. She wonders briefly if she can change that now, if there’s a way to keep Tom alive, too, but she knows that’s not why she’s here.

More than that, she knows the part they play in Connor’s story.

That’s how Connor learns about consequences.

It’s a lesson he’ll need to learn time and again.

Abby forces back the thoughts and smiles inside. “Hey,” she says.

Both boys look surprised. One seems to think she must be talking to someone else. The other -- Tom, Abby knows -- blinks in surprise.

They’re not going to make this easy on her. “I’m a friend of Connor’s,” she says, and it’s as much the truth as it is a lie at that moment. “And I know he’s been looking for a way to get on Professor Cutter’s good side.”

The one boy seems unable to digest the first tidbit Abby offered.

Tom, however, manages to collect himself enough to respond to the second. “Are you in Cutter’s class, too?”

Abby shrugs. “Last year,” she says. “So I know how to make him listen.”

Tom is so clearly trying to stay in control of himself, and when he smiles, Abby almost can’t take it. “Yeah?” he asks.

She has to, though. “Sure, he’s got his things, just like everyone,” she says. Then she holds out the paper. “This ought to do it, though.”

Tom hesitates, glancing down at the paper. “The Forest of Dean?”

Abby nods, offering it to him again.

Tom appears to doubt this. “What’s the big deal about the Forest of Dean?”

It’s an innocent question; he has no idea.

What’s the big deal about the Forest of Dean?

It’s just the start.

The start of everything.

Abby pushes the paper a little closer to him. “Show this to Connor,” she says. “And find out for yourself.”

It’s a little hard this way, not being certain of how it’ll turn out. But she’s giving him the thing that matters most. Even in the scope of eternity, even when she knows the ending, the power of a choice can’t be understated.

Maybe they don’t all deserve a happy ending. Maybe not everyone will get the fairy tale.

But they’ll all get to choose.

That’s the crazy thing about choices.

The first one is just as important as the last.

-o-

The first step is hard.

Behind her, Tom chuffs in disbelief to his friend.

The second step is harder still.

Tom tucks the paper into his bag and starts off after Connor.

The third step almost breaks her, and it’s all she can do to stop herself from following him.

She’ll never see Connor again. If she walks away, she’ll never personally experience the life they’re meant to have.

The fourth step threatens to bring her to her knees.

This could be the wrong choice. Her heart is pounding in her chest, her stomach churns.

The fifth step is instinct.

Because she knows this is the right direction.

She knows.

Everyone makes their choices.

And this is the one she made a long, long time ago.

She’s making it again.

She’ll make it every day to follow.

For the rest of her life.

And into eternity.

-o-

When she makes it around the corner, Jenny and Sarah are already there. She gives the car a once over and raises her eyebrows as she gets in.

“This is what you picked?” she asks.

“An older model was always going to be easier,” Sarah reminds her from the backseat.

Jenny smirks in the driver’s seat, adjusting the sunglasses she’s managed to pick up from somewhere. “I think it suits the mission, don’t you think?”

“A bit plain, for you,” Abby points out.

Jenny puts it into gear. “This mission isn’t about the journey,” she says. “It’s always been about the destination.”

“No more beginnings,” Sarah agrees. “Just endings.”

Jenny pulls them into traffic, cutting through seamlessly and aggressively taking the corners.

“You know how to get to the waterfront?” Abby asks.

Jenny doesn’t even look at her. “You have the car charger?”

Abby pulls out the device, unwinding a few of the wires and finagling them into the antiquated lighter system. “You really think the coordinates we set will work?”

Sarah is perched at the edge of her seat, jiggling her knees restlessly. “It’s a theoretical leap to a theoretical place that might only exist in theory.”

“So we can’t be sure at all,” Jenny says, honking as she cuts someone off.

Sarah winces, holding onto the seat. “I think it’s probable--”

Jenny veers the car hard left into another lane and starts to accelerate. “With the little added boost I gave the engine, it better be probable,” she says. “Or we’re going to end our story a lot sooner than we intended.”

Abby watches the device, watching as its power signal builds as Jenny presses on the gas. “It’ll work,” she concludes.

“And you’re sure of this because?” Jenny asks.

“Because we did it together,” she says. “Besides, I think we know the ending.”

Because it’s the story they started, even if they didn’t know it.

And they’re going to finish it.

-o-

It doesn’t take Jenny long to get them to the rundown waterfront district they identified a long time ago for just this purpose. The device whines and crackles, ebbing and flowing with the influx of energy. The coordinates are set.

“Okay,” Jenny says, hands on the wheel.

Sarah exhales. “Okay.”

Abby wets her lips, nodding. “Anyone want to turn back now?”

“Not now,” Sarah says.

“Not ever,” Jenny agrees.

Abby nods again. “Okay,” she says.

And that’s that.

The decision’s made.

-o-

Jenny revs the engine; Sarah braces herself in the back.

Abby watches the device.

The car rattles, shimmying as Jenny grinds the engine faster. She aligns them along the abandoned dock, pressing her foot all the way to the floor.

They’re out of space; they’re out of time.

There’s nothing left.

Except to fly.

-o-

Sarah gasps, and Jenny yells. The engine flames out as the wheels turn on air and the dock explodes behind them with the added force from Jenny’s machinations. With the ensuing fireball, the device reaches a fevered pitch, the coordinates locking in as the energy climbs higher and higher.

After everything, this is how it ends.

Then, in front of them, the anomaly appears.

Abby grins.

This isn’t how it ends.

This is how it begins.

-o-

Abby still remembers the moment she knew, beyond all doubt.

Robbie Dayton puts a lizard down her shirt.

A little boy shows her a lizard no one can identify.

It’s the Forest of Dean, and she can’t walk away.

There’s a centipede in the sewers, and she tells a simple, audacious lie.

Nick Cutter is easy to follow.

Stephen Hart is easy to love.

Connor Temple is the most annoying person in the world, probably.

He’s also the person she needs more than anyone else.

Abby chases Rex through her flat and wakes up in a castle outside of time with two women she’s never met but has always known.

A man named John tells her she’s going to save the world.

Three women decide they’ll save themselves, too, while they’re at it.

These are beginnings.

These are the moments when Abby knew what she was meant to do with her life.

So it’s funny now, as the light swallows her, that she has no idea what the future will hold.

But she’s ready to find out.

-o-

Most people dream of happy endings.

Abby will let them have those endings.

For her, though, Abby just wants the beginnings.

Comments

Posted by: goldarrow (goldarrow)
Posted at: June 29th, 2015 05:12 am (UTC)
Team 2 - PWM

Terrific characterizations, lovely timey-wimey that worked beautifully.

Posted by: nietie (nietie)
Posted at: June 29th, 2015 01:16 pm (UTC)
abby

Abby's task seems so easy. Just handing a newspaper. But it must be so difficult.

Beautiful, bittersweet fic.

Posted by: fredbassett (fredbassett)
Posted at: June 29th, 2015 03:48 pm (UTC)

That's a lovely ending :)

The girls made a great team, and I liked the way you brought everything together.

Posted by: knitekat (knitekat)
Posted at: June 29th, 2015 05:55 pm (UTC)

That's a lovely ending. Abby's task seems the easiest of them all, but isn't. Great timey-wimey fic.

Posted by: fififolle (fififolle)
Posted at: June 29th, 2015 07:31 pm (UTC)
Primeval - Abby car Naughty Girl

Whee! Wonderful fic. I loved the touch of back to the future *g*
Loved it. Thank you!

Posted by: The Libran Iniquity (tli)
Posted at: June 29th, 2015 08:34 pm (UTC)
Totally Awesome

The ending was lovely. I love how everything came down to those three moments, and then the girls saving themselves as well as the world.

Posted by: lsellersfic (lsellersfic)
Posted at: July 2nd, 2015 08:57 pm (UTC)
Primeval:Jenny

This is a great conclusion to the story!

7 Read Comments