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Primeval fic: Life, the Universe and Anomalies (1/1)

June 9th, 2015 (01:54 pm)
tired
Tags: ,

feeling: tired

Title: Life, the Universe and Anomalies

Disclaimer: I don’t own Primeval.

A/N: For kristen_mara as a belated birthday gift. She prompted me with inspiration from the number 42 from Life, the Universe and Everything. I didn’t know anything about that, so I did a quick read up on it from Wikipedia and wrote this ficlet. Therefore I have no idea if it even remotely captures any essence of the prompt, but here it is :) Beta with regards to sendintheklowns. Happy (belated) birthday, Kristen!

Summary: You can’t figure out the answer. But once you ask the right questions, that’s all that matters.



-o-

When Stephen Hart is 22, he falls in love with his professor. There’s something about her, something in her passion, something in her tenacity, something in her certainty, that Stephen finds inexplicably attractive. Of course, he’s 22 and not sure what he really wants to do with his life, so it’s easy enough to understand. That’s what you do when you’re 22. You think of impossible things and try the stupidest notions and hope it all works out in the end. As for Stephen, he’s got a thousand questions, and the only answer he can come up with is Helen Cutter.

Unfortunately for Stephen, it’s the only time in his life he gets exactly what he wants.

-o-

Nick Cutter means well enough, but he’s sort of an idiot about a lot of things. This isn’t uncommon among academics, and the scatterbrained professor is certainly a well-worn cliche. But he’s silly enough to think -- honestly, he believes it -- that when he promised to love, honor and obey, that it would last a lifetime. He didn’t think he’d have to work for it.

More than that, he never knew just how long a lifetime could be.

He doesn’t think to ask the question, not when he thinks he has the answers.

It’s a bit of a shock to find out that he’s wrong.

-o-

Stephen is crushed when Helen Cutter disappears, but he’s not so heartbroken that he doesn’t see it as the obvious answer to all his problems. If Helen’s gone, then he’s free to do whatever he wants. He’s free to leave the program and continue his studies elsewhere. He’s free to quit school altogether and join an environmental group like Allison keeps pestering him to do. He’s free to start over, to do something that doesn’t involve married women and their dogged pursuits.

He can’t help it, though, the questions running through his mind. He keeps asking, what if, until it makes him a little numb inside.

Then he meets Nick Cutter, and God help him, all he can think is why not.

-o-

Nick grumbles about it, of course, taking on his wife’s work. He’s got too much to do, and the mess Helen has left him is more than a little difficult to contend with. He’s not sure how to handle the legal ramifications of her disappearance, and the police are mostly useless in their haphazard investigation. There are a lot of theories about what might have happened to her, ranging from amnesia to things more sinister.

It has to be asked, however, if Helen just up and left.

Nick will let other people ask that because he’s not sure he wants to. Instead, he takes on Stephen Hart as a testament to the commitment he made to her. After all, if he holds onto Helen’s students, then maybe she’s coming back. Maybe there’s no reason to ask the questions if she’s coming back.

At any rate, Stephen Hart, as far as Nick is concerned, is the easiest answer.

-o-

(Helen Cutter slides in and out of time. She thinks she’s looking for answers.

But all she finds are more questions.)

-o-

It starts as months and turns into years. Stephen keeps wondering why he’s doing this, what he hopes to gain. His degree has stagnated, and his life has fallen into a rut, and he has no hope for future advancement or personal gain. This is a dead end for him, and he knows it.

Every day, he asks himself why.

And every day, Nick smiles at him until Stephen’s chest hurt.

-o-

Not that Nick will admit it, but Stephen is perfect. He’s the ideal right hand man, and he’s a better partner than Helen ever was. Nick’s work is flourishing with Stephen, and he’s never been more excited about any of it before.

Stephen is dependable and consistent. And he’s likeable, too. It takes a while to get to know him, but he’s got a keen sense of humor and he’s handy in the field.

This is the best time of Nick’s life.

-o-

Stephen wonders if he should tell Nick the truth. He wonders if it’d be okay now, if it’d be like water under a bridge. He thinks about Nick’s possible reactions, if he’d rage and yell or tell Stephen that the last few years mean more than anything so far in the past.

He wonders if somehow Nick’s always known.

Stephen asks himself who he’s protecting, if he’s trying to preserve what little Nick has left of Helen or if he’s just terrified of being cast out from the only life he knows.

These are questions he’s pretty sure he knows the answers to.

Which is why he’s so afraid to ask them at all.

-o-

Nick publishes papers. He gains academic acclaim. People credit him with advancing the field.

For providing answers.

That makes Nick feel pretty damn good about himself.

Answers.

-o-

(It’s the questions, Helen knows.

The questions will drive you mad.)

-o-

It takes eight years for Stephen to feel like he’s getting there. Eight years to think, maybe there are answers after all.

But then they find an anomaly in the Forest of Dean.

And the questions never stop.

-o-

If Nick’s honest, it’s not just the anomalies. Yes, he has an inherent intellectual curiosity regarding them, and what they represent to their current (and likely obsolete) grasp of the world. And of course, he’s fascinated by the concrete answers the anomalies provide to so many of his academic ventures. It’s remarkable to see theory made fact, right before his eyes.

It’s more than that, though. It’s the promise for the answer he’s wanted to know most for the last eight years.

Helen.

What happened to Helen?

-o-

When Stephen gets the answer, it’s not the one he’s hoping for. Even so, he expects that it’s one he deserves.

Maybe that’s why, when Helen tells Nick the truth, that Stephen can’t bring himself to apologize. Because he knows that Nick has questions that warrant answers about why and how after all these years.

Stephen would give Nick those answers, if he could.

He has to find them for himself first.

-o-

Helen’s a mad woman who left him without a second thought. The timeline has been shifted so the woman he loves never even existed. And his best friend slept with his wife and lied to him for eight years.

Nick’s always believed in the power of answers.

But never quite like this.

-o-

(The problem is, Helen learns, that answers aren’t that much better.)

-o-

In the end, there are just too many questions.

The good news is that they all have the same answer.

The bad news is that the answer is to lock himself in a room full of predators and die.

Stephen thinks fleetingly that it’s probably a fair trade.

-o-

It’s the most obvious answer of all, when Nick is face to face with it. That Stephen stayed for the same reason he never told the truth.

It’s the same reason he locked himself in the cage room and died so Nick wouldn’t have to.

It’s the answer that’s been there this entire time.

It’s the answer that Nick just never looked for.

Until it’s too late.

-o-

The questions don’t stop. They pulse and throb, pounding through him in the absence of a heartbeat.

Where is he?

What is he?

Is he going to be here forever?

Will he always be alone?

Mostly, though, he asks the same question, over and over again until he screams it against the backdrop of eternity.

Is Nick okay?

-o-

Nick’s too tired to run away. He’s too tired to fight it. Helen’s offering him the last of the answers, and Nick takes them.

Nick takes everything.

Even the bullet to the chest.

-o-

(Helen remembers when it was easy.

Six time seven, after all, is 42 no matter what time period you’re living in or what universe you create.

If only all the answers were that simple.)

-o-

Stephen’s there when Nick shows up.

Like he’s the answer to everything.

-o-

Nick doesn’t know if he’s going to smile or cry. He does both as he pulls Stephen into a hug.

It feels like the last piece of the puzzle, sliding into place.

Nick’s waited so, so long.

-o-

Stephen asks the questions, all of them from the very start. He asks why Helen is so easy to fall for and so hard to keep. He asks why it’s so hard to walk away. He asks how anyone could forgive him for all the things he’s done.

-o-

Nick has the answers, just like he always has. He knows that Helen is a catalyst, but this isn’t about Helen. It hasn’t been for nearly 10 years. He knows that forgiveness isn’t so hard, once you recognize what really matters.

-o-

(This is the lesson Helen should have learned:

You can’t figure out the answer.

But once you ask the right questions, that’s all that matters.)

-o-

Stephen knows suddenly, they’re connected, him and Nick. They always have been.

They always will be.

-o-

Nick wonders, out of nowhere, if this is what equilibrium really is.

Asking questions, having answers.

They cancel each other out.

And then all that’s left is the beginning.

-o-

Stephen Hart is 22, he falls in love with his professor. That’s what you do when you’re 22. You think of impossible things and try the stupidest notions and hope it all works out in the end. He’s got a thousand questions, and the only answer he can come up with is Nick Cutter.

-o-

Nick Cutter means well, but he’s sort of an idiot about a lot of things. He doesn’t think to ask the questions, not when he has the answers.

In the case of Stephen Hart, it’s more than a bit of a relief to find out he’s right.

Comments

Posted by: kristen_mara (kristen_mara)
Posted at: June 10th, 2015 11:01 am (UTC)
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Thanks very much! Yay, they ended up together, complete, and finally sorted *G* I like how we got their POVs too and the theme with the questions and answers

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