A belated birthday present for Fredbassett, a terrific friend.
Author : Keenir.
Fandom : Primeval
Rating : PG(13?)
Characters : Helen Cutter, Thomas Ryan.
Disclaimer : I own none of them, nor am I making any money or other recompense.
Spoilers : 1.01, 1.06
Summary : To paraphrase an old saying, he's really quite sincerely not dead.
"Thomas Ryan is not dead," said the hooded-and-robed figure standing before her.
By this point in her life, Helen knew enough to know that she was not suffering from the heat of the sun or the composition of the atmosphere or the emptiness of her stomach, or even a mix of all three of the above. And for better and worse, she was not her younger self, off scurrying through time. So she listened.
"Not dead?" Helen asked. The Future Predator envenomated him. I saw the wounds, and saw the signs of blood poisoning and all the other evidence of... Not dead?
"That is correct," the robed figure said from the shadows of that hood. "So you know," as an Anomaly opened behind the figure. And then both were gone.
Leaving it in my hands, my choice. Which left Helen alone - nearly so - in the Late Permian. And she bolted up the hills to the overlook where she and Nick had buried Ryan, where Helen proceeded to scrape away clods of dirt from the cairn.
And just as Helen was beginning to have doubts about what she had been told, Ryan sat up, breaking through the thin earthen crust remaining. Oh my... thankfully not dead, Helen thought.
"What?" Ryan asked, then noticing how he was just shy of being in her arms.
This has never happened before. Will it happen again? "Welcome back, Captain."
"What are you doing here?" Ryan asked her.
"Living archaeology, it seems," Helen said with an amused look.
"What did you do to me? I was dead."
"What makes you so certain it was me?" that look still going strong.
"Nobody else here."
"We need to get you patched up," Helen said to him, the amusement gone.
"I'm not dead," he observed.
"Astute as ever, Captain. In a roundabout way, there's a long story as to why."
"Give me the short story," Ryan said.
"This is it," Helen said.
"Tells me nothing."
Helen looked out to the horizon and stood up. "You need to get up now. There's a storm coming." She looked down and said, "I'll answer when we're walking."
"Fair's fair," Ryan said and made his slow way to his feet, accepting Helen's hand when she offered it. When they started their way down one side of the hill, "And we're walking."
"We are," Helen agreed. "You understand what a time loop is, I'm sure, Captain."
Ryan nodded. "I found my bones and handled them in the ground, before I died and was buried. Cause appeared to come after effect, because of the placement of Anomalies." Knowing there was more to it than that, Ryan added, "The loop happens because Cutter probably buried me where he did, because that's where we found my skeleton on that first mission."
Helen nodded. "A loop remains in existence, no matter how frayed it becomes, no matter how many outcomes spin off it."
"And how many is how many?"
She shrugged, knowing he wouldn't believe her if she said she didn't know, no matter how much truth the statement had. "Future Predators are venomous. By the looks of it, someone found a chemist to develop an antivenom. Bought you some more time."
"But that's still my skeleton Cutter and I found in the Permian," Ryan said. "Isn't it?"
"It certainly was," Helen said. In a rare fit of uncertain-soundingness, she said, "Will it continue to be? I don't know; it may be someone else's bones there now."
"And everyone back home thinks I'm dead, even though I'm not."
"You're welcome to go back and convince them otherwise, Captain," Helen said. "Other options include you taking up lodging at another point in time, going off on your own, e-t-c as they say."
"I'll think it over," Ryan said.
He was still contemplating it that night - it would've been late morning Permian time, but going through the Anomaly had meant a sharp shift from dusk falling, to a late sunrise - as the two of them sat on opposite sides of a fire which had finished cooking something roughly hog-sized and native to this early Cenozoic.
Having a feeling what might be the hang-up her traveling companion was stumbling over in his thoughts, Helen said, "It isn't an either-or, if you're concerned. I don't cease to exist when you change my past. So I'll ask you again, do you want to travel with me no, or with one for whom all this is new?"
"When did I change your past?" Ryan asked, poking the fire enough that sparks and bits of ash erupted out.
"I asked first."