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Primeval Fic: Time is a Slow Sword

August 11th, 2011 (07:14 am)
Tags: ,

Title:  Time is a Slow Sword

Disclaimer:  Not mine.

A/N:  A random Primeval ficlet.  Unbeta’ed and not Brit-proofed.  Spoilers up through mid season three, so it deals with various canon character deaths.

Summary:  Ignoring history means sacrificing the future.  Of all people, Nick knows better.

-o-

Time is a slow sword that can pierce any armor
As we drown our hearts hiding from the ghost of one another

-Don’t Hold Back (Full On) by The Normals

-o-

Nick has always said that it’s the pieces that don’t fit that make the past worth studying.

It’s that motivation that propels Nick to spend his life digging into history.  And he does it with a flourish.  He can list all the major geological eras and identify a multitude of obscure ancient species at a glance.  He’s dedicated his life to making sense of the past, making the pieces that don’t fit parse.

So really, it’s a little ironic that it’s his own past that he doesn’t want to deal with at all.

Helen.  Stephen.  Their betrayals.  Nick’s failure to both of them.

Nick knows better than to let that slide.  Ignoring history means sacrificing the future.  Of all people, he knows better.

-o-

Sometimes, Nick thinks about how it could have been different.  He thinks he should have seen it coming.

Helen was always ambitious.  She conquered the mysteries of the past and present; the future was her only boundary left to break.  He should have known that he could never hold her, not with a stable job and a comfortable house.  Not even with a loving marriage.

If he’d tried, maybe he could have stopped her.  Maybe if he’d gone with her.  Maybe if he’d asked her to stay.  Maybe if he’d never fallen in love with her at all.  Maybe then she wouldn’t be a monster.

But she is.  She flits in and out of the past and present and uses anyone to get what she wants.  She taunts him with their wedding vows and leaves the one person who believed in her to die for it.

Some monsters don’t know better.

Some do.

Looking to the past can answer questions but it can’t fix problems.  That doesn’t seem to stop Nick, though, tackling one monster at a time.  He tries not to think about the way he fails when it counts; he hopes it’s still enough.

He thinks of the day he married Helen and hopes it’s enough.

-o-

He’s a man of science.  Looking at the facts and forming hypotheses is totally natural.

If he had talked it out when Stephen tried.

If he had told Stephen everything Helen had done.

If he had trusted Stephen’s judgment just once.

If he had known to save his punch for the time it really mattered.

But a hypothesis must be tested and he has no way of knowing the results of such theories.

-o-

Helen’s his wife. 

Stephen was his friend.

It seems funny that he wants another chance to make things right with Stephen, but the further along this gets, the more he wishes that he never met Helen at all.

-o-

Sometimes, all Nick sees are moments.  Snapshots of time, fossilized pieces of history.  He catalogues them and classifies them, but there are some that just stand out.  These are the ones he dwells on, even when he’s trying not to.  These are the moments he can’t let go of, no matter how hard he tries.

Stephen telling him that the affair was in the past.

Stephen asking if what they were doing was right.

Stephen saying that he knew why Helen turned to him in the end.

Stephen looking so surprised when he found out Helen was lying to him.

Stephen surrounded by predators and not looking away, not even for a moment.

Stephen ripped in two, bleeding and broken.

These pieces are so vivid and strung together; it seems like his entire friendship with Stephen can be told in these jarring tidbits, a series snapshots punctuated by an irreversible end.

This is why Nick comes to hate the past.  He can see all the pieces and they still never tell the whole story.  Even if he satisfies all the questions, that doesn’t change the answers.

-o-

If he should have seen Helen’s turn coming, he thinks Stephen’s betrayal might have been less of a surprise.  Helen’s never had time for students, and Stephen had always been ready to please.  That’s why Nick always depended on Stephen.  He could count on Stephen to follow a decisive lead, no matter what.

He’s mad at Stephen, but Nick has no illusions of whose idea it was or who got their heart broken in the end.  Helen used Stephen each time, leaving him broken in the aftermath.  Leaving him to die.

If Stephen’s betrayal is a surprise to him still, Stephen’s redemption never is.

-o-

Helen wants to change the past to save the future.  She thinks Nick doesn’t understand.

But Nick remembers the sound of Stephen’s screams and he understands.  Better than Helen ever could.

But if the last few months have taught him anything, it’s that you can’t change the past, no matter how much you want to.  Time is not a series of disconnected moments but a progressive story that builds to the same inevitable climax before it’s over.

This is Nick’s comfort and his curse when Helen finally pulls the trigger.

-o-

When it’s done, Nick still wants to change the past.  He still wants to mentor Connor better.  He still wants to stop Helen from destroying the future.  He still wants to make things right with Stephen.

But he doesn’t want to take this bullet out.  He wants to let it bleed and bleed all the way through because he’s been bleeding all along.  Since Stephen died, since Helen came back, since he first fell in love, since he dedicated his life to the study of the past.

Of all people, Nick knows that it’s the pieces that don’t fit that make history interesting.

But he knows now, at the end, that even the most disparate pieces don’t really matter because they don’t change the story. 

Not even a little.

Comments

Posted by: Vampisticated (youkeyh)
Posted at: August 11th, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
Vampisticated

Beautiful.
I cried the first time I watched the episode where Stephen died. I was like 'Helen should've died instead! Dammit'

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 15th, 2011 12:42 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter distance

I knew it was coming so I managed not to cry but, I admit, Stephen's death is something that will probably bother me for quite some time to come. He just deserved better--and he and Cutter deserved better. And yeah, Helen deserved to die right then and there :)

Thanks!

Posted by: Vampisticated (youkeyh)
Posted at: August 19th, 2011 01:45 pm (UTC)
Vampisticated

I knew it too. I saw a spoiler while looking for links to watch the show online. But whatever, I still cried, dammit. I agree. Even if he had an affair with Helen, it was made clear that she just used him. And he was better of with nick. He just trusted the wrong Cutter.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 20th, 2011 12:32 pm (UTC)
stephen angsty

Every time I rewatch it, I get all angsty about it. I always got the impression that Helen was the instigator of everything between her and Stephen--which, of course doesn't absolve Stephen, but certainly makes me feel sorry for him a bit. Because he clearly tried to be good when she reappeared, despite her temptations and Cutter's coldness.

I also sort of figure that Stephen's always been a little in love with Helen--which is why he wants to believe in her so much when she reappears. He was better with Nick--and I think he knew that, but when he lost Nick's trust, he sort of flailed and ended up with Helen anyway.

But I can ramble on about Stephen endlessly--he's the kind of character that just gets into my head and who I so desperately want to fix.

Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: August 13th, 2011 05:41 pm (UTC)
Stephen and Abby

Now you've made me a bit melancholy. But great insight into Cutter's mind and how he suffers after everything that happened.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: August 15th, 2011 12:43 pm (UTC)
stephen cutter sit

Primeval in general makes me a bit melancholy. I love the show but the whole thing with Stephen is just hard to deal with. I so want better closure between these characters!

Anyhow, thanks for reading :)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: November 27th, 2011 10:26 pm (UTC)

"If he had known to save his punch for the time it really mattered."

That was brilliant. That statement really got to me. This whole piece was very powerful, beautifully written. I came here hoping to find a story with an alternative ending written by you since you write so fabulously well, and while this isn't exactly that, I very much enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing your amazing talent!

SeanJ

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: December 7th, 2011 09:31 pm (UTC)
stephen broken

Someday I hope to write out a fix-it for the way Stephen left the show but I haven't quite gotten there yet. It is on my to-do list, though. (LOL, my really long to do list!)

Despite the angst, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks!

Posted by: magnifica7 (magnifica7)
Posted at: December 22nd, 2011 11:08 pm (UTC)

So very touching. Every time I read about Stephen in a story I mourn his loss. For me, it destroyed my love for the series...

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: December 28th, 2011 02:32 am (UTC)
stephen up

Stephen's death still causes me massive amounts of angst. I keep trying to cope through fic but I haven't found my closure yet. I still haven't watched beyond the early part of S3 because I can't conceptualize the show without Stephen (or Nick).

Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: January 7th, 2012 10:58 pm (UTC)
SIgh, never get tired of introspection

I LOVE this. I never tire of the lovely POVs and introspections, often too late to help or cure that you make and have here.

Fav Parts:

Stephen telling him that the affair was in the past.

Stephen asking if what they were doing was right.

Stephen saying that he knew why Helen turned to him in the end.

Stephen looking so surprised when he found out Helen was lying to him.

Stephen surrounded by predators and not looking away, not even for a moment.

Stephen ripped in two, bleeding and broken.

These pieces are so vivid and strung together; it seems like his entire friendship with Stephen can be told in these jarring tidbits, a series snapshots punctuated by an irreversible end.

--*sigh


He’s mad at Stephen, but Nick has no illusions of whose idea it was or who got their heart broken in the end. Helen used Stephen each time, leaving him broken in the aftermath. Leaving him to die.

If Stephen’s betrayal is a surprise to him still, Stephen’s redemption never is.

-- That last line just kills me!!!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 8th, 2012 08:06 pm (UTC)
Re: SIgh, never get tired of introspection
stephen up

I may never get over the angst of how things were left unsaid between Cutter and Stephen. LOL, I still want them to fix it so badly!

As always, thanks :)

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