abby, connor, fic, primeval, solstice
Primeval fic: Guide You Home | Connor, Abby | G
(Sorry for posting in such quick succession like this, but I'm going to have to be offline for most of the day.)
Title: Guide You Home
Characters: Connor, Abby
Rating/warnings: G; episode tag for the series 3 finale and contains spoilers for that
Notes: Thanks to travels_in_time and elspethsheir for being my extra eyes on this. Written as my 2009 Solstice fic and posted for Day Twenty-One of consci_fan_mo.
On their first night in the tree, Connor didn't sleep, terrified that they had chosen a nest to perch in and the original builder would return. After a few hours he thought he was going to go crazy, so he nudged Abby with his good foot.
"You awake?" he whispered.
"Yeah," she answered softly. "But you shouldn't be. Go back to sleep, Connor."
"I just woke up," he lied. "It's your turn to sleep."
"You were injured, you need the rest."
"No, listen, tomorrow we have to search for Danny, look for food, probably dodge predators. I won't be much use, you'll have to do most of it. You'll need some sleep to be at your best."
Abby was silent for a moment. "All right," she said finally.
Connor listened to Abby turning, settling into the lumpy plant material. He couldn't resist teasing a bit. "I'll just be sitting back tomorrow, waiting for you to bring me my pipe and slippers. 'Where's my scotch, woman?'"
Abby kicked at him, connecting with his injured leg. He yelped, she sat up and apologized profusely, he took the blame, and it was another while before they were settled down again. After awhile Abby's breathing evened out, and Connor was alone.
Earlier in the night, the forest had been almost noisy. He had guessed there were dozens of nocturnal creatures moving below them, snuffling through the pine needles, chirruping to one another, crunching twigs with heavy feet on the prowl. He'd thought he heard wings once, though he couldn't imagine what nocturnal flying creatures there could be in this time period.
Now it was quieter, and somehow it seemed even darker. He had never seen dark like this — not in London, certainly, but not even camping. He was sure this blackness was thicker, and he began to imagine it was tangible, that if he reached out in front of his face, he could place his hand against it. It was enclosing them in the nest, they were trapped, what if he couldn't breathe...?
The moment before he succumbed to panic, Connor looked up. There was something — light. Just a small triangle of stars framed by the branches and needles of the tree. He took a deep breath, regained his bearings, and concentrated on that triangle of light. Even in the small bit of sky he could see, there were a lot of stars.
He felt better after that. Still, hours later when he finally saw pink light streaking across the horizon and knew the sun wasn't far behind, Connor was so relieved, he could have cried.
When it was light enough to move around, they decided that Connor would remain in the tree to keep watch for predators while Abby searched for Danny. Their alert system was embarrassingly low-tech: if Connor spotted danger, he was to shout.
From his perch, he watched Abby head off in the direction Danny had gone. He scanned the forest and the horizon diligently until Abby had moved out of his sight. Then, feeling useless, he decided to climb down and search for water.
An hour later, he was limping back when he spotted Abby running toward him from the direction of their tree.
"You were supposed to stay there!" she said accusingly, panting, and cuffed him on the shoulder.
"Ow! Hey, I'm injured." That earned him an annoyed glare. "I got us some water," he announced with what he hoped was his best charm. Abby brightened and had a long drink, then wiped her mouth on her sleeve before speaking again.
"No luck finding Danny, obviously," she said. "But look!" She pulled from her pocket an anomaly controller.
Connor stared at her, stricken by the significance of the find. "So if Helen opened the second anomaly on the route we saw, and Danny followed—"
"They're both stuck." Abby nodded. "But we could follow him, right? Or at least see if this has been used?" She handed him the device, looking hopeful.
Connor pressed the button to activate it, but nothing happened. He tried twice more, then turned it over to inspect the casing. "Oh, god," he moaned.
"Look, there's a crack running right around. It must have been damaged when it was dropped."
"Or something stepped on it. Can you fix it?"
Connor frowned. "With what tools?"
On their second night in the tree, Connor was exhausted, but he was kept awake by the bitter discouragement of his failure to repair the anomaly controllers. He had tried using one device to power the other, using tree resin to repair the cracked one, and had finally even cannibalized the second device to provide parts for the first, but nothing had worked. He kept thinking with regret of the torch batteries they had left behind in the future ARC.
"Connor, go to sleep," came Abby's voice in the dark. "You're fidgeting. It makes me nervous."
"Sorry. I just can't stop thinking about the controllers."
Abby sighed. "Let's sing," she suggested.
They squabbled briefly about whether singing was more likely to attract nocturnal predators, or scare them away ("They'll never come back once they hear your voice," Abby said) but eventually agreed they hadn't much to lose.
Connor was homesick for his bed, or even Lester's sofa, in England, so they sang "Jerusalem" until Abby declared it made her more homesick.
Then she admitted that the song she knew best was one called "Bring It All Back" by some manufactured pop band Connor was barely aware of. After she performed it, Connor waited for a few moments before he responded.
"I'm honored that you trust me enough to sing that for me."
"...Because it's the most embarrassing song I've ever heard."
Silence again, and finally Connor sputtered with laughter.
"Do you want me to break your other ankle?" Abby threatened, but she was giggling too.
On their third day in the Cretaceous, things began to seem more grim. It wasn't that anything worse happened; Abby had a close call with another raptor and Connor failed to steal a pterosaur egg for their supper, but by the end of the day, they were both still alive and relatively uninjured. On the other hand, they were so hungry, it was hard to see the good in things. Roots and seeds wouldn't sustain them for long.
And at the end of the day, while they were climbing their tree once again, Connor couldn't think of anything they'd accomplished beyond not getting eaten. He still couldn't fix the anomaly controllers, they hadn't found a trace of Danny, and they didn't have a reliable food source. For the first time, Connor admitted to himself that they might die here. If they did, it would be his fault.
"Abby," he said when they had settled uncomfortably into their places. "I don't think we're gonna find Danny."
There was still a faint glow behind the mountains to the west, but he couldn't see Abby's face. There was no reply for a moment. Finally he heard her draw a deep breath and sigh. "I know," she said.
"What do you think happened to Helen?"
"I hope she jumped off a cliff," Abby whispered forcefully.
Connor grinned in the dark. It was a satisfying thought. "Eh, but we're not that lucky," he replied. "The woman is indestructible."
"I guess," Abby agreed. There was another pause, then she added, "I hope Sarah and Becker are all right."
I hope they still exist, Connor thought, but it seemed useless to say it out loud.
He must have managed to fall asleep, because when he was next aware of anything, the last light was gone from the horizon and his back ached from avoiding a branch poking his ribs. He shifted, trying for Abby's sake not to make noise.
He was beginning to get used to the depth of the dark. His hearing gave him a good sense of spatial relationships, and he had found that his eyes would eventually adjust enough to see some shapes like the mountains against the sky, the trunk of their tree, his hand in front of his face, and Abby's hair. There was no moon, but apparently the stars did give off some light. It was a fact that was much easier to comprehend when you were millions of years from streetlamps and glowsticks.
He didn't expect he would panic any more, but it was still breathtakingly lonely, this darkness.
He looked up at the patch of stars through the branches, then let his eyes wander to the horizon where the stars began. Strange, it looked like some of the stars were positioned below where he judged the horizon to be. They were brighter, too. And... moving?
They weren't stars. They were tiny luminescences, floating from right to left in his field of vision, blinking on and off at long intervals. Their point of origin was very distinct; it was almost as if a glowing tap had been turned on and was spewing them out.
"Abby," he whispered. She must have turned around while he was asleep, because instead of her legs next to his, she was resting her head on his knees. No wonder his feet were numb. "Abby," he whispered again, and reached out hesitantly to stroke her hair. "Wake up. You have to see this."
Her arm tightened around his legs, then he heard an intake of breath and her head lifted from his knees. "Connor, what's wrong?" she whispered.
"What kind of glowing insects would there be in the Cretaceous?" he asked.
"What? Insects... I'm a reptile girl, you know."
"I know, but I just want to check. Would there be... glow-worms here yet? Fireflies?"
Abby groaned softly as she shifted and sat up. "I'm not sure. I thought I saw a bee today, but I haven't seen any beetles. And adult luminescence is... evolutionarily advanced."
"I thought so. But look," Connor said, putting a hand on her shoulder, turning her to the direction of the lights.
After a few seconds, Abby chuckled with wonder. "Does it look like they're coming out of a cave? Or..."
"An anomaly," they said in unison.
It wasn't easy getting out of the tree and feeling their way through the forest to the valley where they had seen the lights. Twice they thought they were being stalked by something in the dark. But they held hands and stayed near the trees as much as possible. They couldn't pass up this chance.
Finally they were standing in front of the anomaly, its brightness dimming the glow of the insects flying out of it. The swirling light was so familiar, it almost felt like home to Connor. How could he have come to miss anomalies this much in only three days?
"It's got to lead to a later period than this," Connor reasoned. "But it could be just as dangerous there. Or more. It could be an alligator-infested swamp. There could be murderous Neanderthals waiting on the other side." He felt he should warn for everything before they investigated.
"But it's worth a look," Abby said. "We can't stay here."
Before he could stop her, Abby stepped forward and stuck her head into the anomaly and remained there for several seconds. Just as Connor was about to reach out and pull her back, she stepped out and turned to look at him. Her face was glowing, and it wasn't the light of the anomaly, or the fireflies.
"Houses," she said.
"I'm sure I saw electric lights in the windows."
Connor took a deep breath. "Sounds promising. But you know, if we go through, we might never get back here. Danny's trapped. We might never get to our own time."
Abby's grin didn't fade. "You've got the anomaly controllers?"
Connor nodded. "Yeah."
"I believe in you, Connor. We'll find a way."
Connor smiled reluctantly. "Okay."
"Okay, then, come on."
Abby grabbed his hand, and they stepped toward the light, into the future.