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Title: (It's not the end of the world) it's the world you have to live in (2/8)

Author: smaragdbird

Fandom: Primeval

Pairing: Becker/Ethan, Ethan/OMC

Rating: R

Warnings: violence, character death, killing of animals, discussion of political assassinations and mercy killing

Summary: 16 years ago Patrick Quinn and his friend Matt were stranded on the wrong side of an anomaly and were shortly separated as well afterwards. When chance brings Ethan Dobrowski back to the present he joins the ARC to wait for Danny's return, to reenact his revenge on the brother who he believes abandoned him.

Matt, having returned after being stranded in a desolate, dystopian future filled with monsters, has returned as well to prevent said future from ever happening by any means necessary.

As Ethan becomes more and more drawn to Becker he begins to question his decisions and Matt's as well but all that holds them in the ARC is a closely spun net of lies that would unravel as soon as one of them would tell the truth. But time draws near and in the face of the looming extinction on most life on earth and his personal feelings Ethan will have to make a decision.

A/N:Written for au_bigbang.

Lots of love for fredbassett for the quick and thorough beta-reading :)

Technically this is the extremly long prequel to Tried and True

The not so serious character sheet

Basically I took the idea that Ethan might spent his 18 anomaly years in Tsarist Russia and ran

Matt couldn’t breathe. The sulphur stole the air from his lungs and tiny silicate crystals bit into his skin. In the distance they could hear the roar of a predator, followed by the cry of an ant.

Ara drew his weapon but Mandras shook his head, gesturing for them to move on. Somewhere further behind someone collapsed and Kate hurried to see if she could help them.

This time it was Isaiah. Matt could see that Anjali was trying to wake him up, shaking him increasingly harder but from the way he hung limply in her grip Matt already knew he was dead. So did Kate who took Anjali by the shoulders and dragged her away but her anguished howls could be heard even over the storm.

“Quiet,” Marama hissed to her. “Or you’ll draw the predators.”

Matt’s foot slipped on a stone and he fell down to his knees. A few people were giving him looks as they walked past him as if they had always known that he wouldn’t make it. Most, however, kept their faces down, eyes on the ground, stoically taking one step after the other.

“Get up, son,” Gideon held his hand out to him and Matt took it, heaving himself back to his feet.

Paavo passed him, carrying Izar on his back, and gave him an encouraging smile that Matt returned. Gideon urged him to move on, keeping a comforting hand on Matt’s back as they followed Mandras to the next shelter under an eternally yellow sky.

In the present the sky was blue. That was the first thing Matt noticed when he woke up each morning and it was the first thing he forgot when he fell asleep. The sky had been yellow for so long that he had forgotten nearly everything that had happened before. His parents’ faces had long since been replaced by Gideon’s and his friends with the other Nomads. The only face that remained was Patrick’s with the blood on his shoulder and the look of shock and horror on his face as the beast had hunted him through the anomaly.

Matt splashed water into his face to get rid of the dream and climbed into the shower. As he stood under the spray he could hear Ara’s voice in his head, scoffing at the water he was wasting.

Ethan had his arm wrapped around Charlotte’s waist, holding her up as they followed Emily through the theatre. Charlotte coughed weakly and her skin was burning under Ethan’s fingers. They had taken too long to find a gateway back to the human world.

Emily pushed ineffectively at a couple of closed doors.

“Let me,, Ethan told her and helped Charlotte to sit down on a chair. “It’ll be fine,, he told her encouragingly. “They have medicine here.”

But the doors wouldn’t budge. He could hear Emily whispering to Charlotte. “There must be another way out,, he said quickly trying the next door.

But they wouldn’t open either.

He felt it the moment Emily looked at him, the moment Charlotte died. He fell down on his knees next to her, taking her hand between his. It was still warm but limb. Emily was saying something to him but he didn’t care. There was only emptiness and the knowledge that he had just lost everything all over again.

“This is all your fault,, he pressed out between gritted teeth.

“We have to get back to the others,, Emily told him sternly. “It’s what Charlotte would want. She understood our rules.”

“She died because of you and your rules,, Ethan replied angrily. “We should have gone through the last gateway no matter what the risk. We shouldn’t have left it for so long.”

“It looked too dangerous!”

“You said – “

“Shh!” Ethan heard it, too. Footsteps. Someone was coming. Too late.

“She can’t be found,, Emily said, quickly moving to get away from the footsteps.

Ethan was following her, move out of instinct than because he wanted too. They had to get back to the gateway and give Charlotte a proper burial. When she had fallen ill he had promised her to bring her home but who could there where they were now?

The man was standing at the gateway. Ethan could only see his back but he heard him talking with someone in English. So they were in Britain, maybe even close to the year when he had vanished and – the man turned around and Ethan could see his face.

“That’s not possible,, he whispered.

“What?” Emily asked. Somewhere else in the theatre something moved and Matt, could it really be Matt? Moved quickly away from the anomaly. “We need to leave, now, Emily urged him.

“I’m not leaving. I gave Charlotte a promise. I won’t go.”

“Who’s there?” Matt called into their direction.

Ethan decided to take a chance.

“Don’t shoot me, okay, Matt?” He said, stepping out between the requisites.

“Patrick?” Matt asked disbelievingly. “I thought you were dead.”

“It’s good to see you too,” Ethan replied with a wry smirk.

“You came through the anomaly.”

“The gateway, yes. Seems like you found a way home sooner than I did. Where are we?”

“London, 2011,, Matt replied.

“Matt?” Someone was calling and Ethan used the distraction to slip back into the shadows. He wasn’t sure what was going on here but he had learned not to put too much trust into people carrying weapons.

“The dead woman belongs to you?” Ethan heard a man ask.

“We’re a group of travellers through the gateways”, Emily answered. The blonde girl and the dark-haired man exchanged a look at that.

“Please,, Emily started again, I need to find-“
“Is there anyone in your group called Danny Quinn?” the boy asked.

Ethan listened closely. First Matt and now Danny? How much of this could be a coincidence? Or maybe the universe was playing a cruel joke on him again. Old anger burned at the back of his mind. Danny. Danny who hadn’t come for him.

“No, I know no one with this name,” Emily answered.

Matt looked surprised at her answer and Ethan decided to act before he could say too much.

“Do you have a photograph?” he asked, stepping out of the rafters. The man, younger than Ethan had first guessed him, trained his weapon on him. “Some people use different names after coming through the gateways,” he explained politely while fixing his eyes on Matt.

“And you are?” the solder asked.

“Ethan Dobrowski,” Ethan answered.

Matt raised his eyebrows but didn’t say anything.

“Here.” The man showed him a picture on a futuristically looking phone. “That’s Danny.”

It was his brother. Older, sure, but unmistakably his Danny.

“Sorry, never seen him,” Ethan said out loud.

Another roar interrupted them.

“Tree creepers,” Emily said, looking up the same moment as did Ethan.

“We need to get you out of here,” the man said.

“We know these creatures,” Emily argued. “You don’t.”

“It’ll get to the highest point and attack from there. It uses its tail to catch its prey,” Ethan explained, drawing his revolver. From the corners of his eyes he could see the blonde girl scowling at him but the man looked approving.

“So what?” Matt asked.

“We can help you,” Emily said without taking her eyes off the ceiling. She and Ethan had their backs to each other so that the tree creeper couldn’t catch them from behind. They had always made a good team despite Ethan’s misgivings.

“Watch out,” Ethan yelled, pushing the soldier out of the tree creeper’s path, trusting Emily to have his back. He could hear shots and the sound of a body collapsing on the ground. When he looked up the tree creeper lay unconscious on the ground.

“Nice shot,” he told the blonde girl.

“We have to get it back through the anomaly,” she said, giving Ethan a short nod.

But the soldier shook his head. “We can’t. The anomaly just closed.”

Emily gave him a shocked look but Ethan didn’t know whether to feel glad or sad. Sure he had told Emily that he wouldn’t go back with her but choosing not to go and being stranded were two different things.

“But we need to get back to the others,” Emily insisted.

“You heard him. We can’t,” Ethan replied. He was starting to regret his decision to come out to them. Who knew what they were going to do with him and Emily.

“We could bring them back to the ARC, talk to Lester,” the girl said.

“It’s not like we have much choice, don’t we?” the man replied but he didn’t look happy.

“We’re right here,” Ethan said, never having liked people talking about him as if he wasn’t in the same room with them.

“Sorry,” the man said. “I’m Captain Becker and these are Abby Maitland and Matt Anderson. We’re working for the ARC.”

“The Arc?” Emily asked confused.

“Not that one,” Becker said quickly.

“I’m Lady Emily Merchant,” Emily introduced herself. “I was born in London in 1840.”

“Ethan Edmundovich Dobrowski,” Ethan said, “I’m Russian.” He could see Matt raising his eyebrows at him and returned the gesture. “What’s the Arc?”

“We’ll explain that on the way,” Matt said.

Lester listened to Matt’s explanation of the events with an unmoving face.

“Well,” he said finally, looking at Ethan and Emily. “It seems like you’re stuck here for the time being. I can’t exactly let you run around so you’ll have to stay here until we find an anomaly back to your time.”

“We can help,” Ethan said, taking a step forwards. “You fight against the creatures coming from the gateways, am I right? We have survived for years out there.”

“He’s right,” Emily stepped forward as well. “Let us make ourselves useful.”

Lester gave them a sceptical look. “How exactly would that better than keeping you here?”

“We know those creatures better than you do. We have travelled through many gateways and fought against creatures from all time streams,” Emily said fiercely.

“I saved your man’s life,” Ethan added, nodding in Becker’s direction who didn’t look particularly happy that Ethan had brought the incident up. “You need every backup you can get.”

“Fine,” Lester sighed resigned. “But only until we can bring you back to your own time. And you’ll follow every order Captain Becker gives you. Is that understood?”

Both Ethan and Emily nodded.

“One thing,” Ethan said, ignoring the exasperated look Lester was giving him, “I promised Charlotte to bury her in her family’s grave.”

“Is that the woman who died?” Lester asked.

Emily nodded. “She…her name is…was Charlotte Cameron. Her family is buried in the Tower Hill Cemetery here in London.”

“How do you want to explain that you found their great-great-great grand aunt or whatever she was and that she died yesterday?” Matt interjected.

“We don’t have to tell anyone,” Ethan told him more sharply than he probably should have.

“Technically that would vandalism,” Lester pointed out with a sigh.

“It’s a burial. Do you think her family would object if they knew all the facts?” Abby asked.

Lester looked as if he doubted that the 21st century descendants of the Cameron family would be very understanding. “I’ll see what I can do,” he said finally. “Jess and Matt will show you around. One slip up and you’ll never leave this building again, understood?”

Jess took care of Emily while Matt steered Ethan away from everyone else until they reached a deserted corridor.

“What are you playing at, Patrick?” Matt hissed between his teeth, his grip like an iron clamp around Ethan’s arm.

“Don’t call me that,” Ethan wrenched himself free. “I could ask you the same question, Matt Anderson is it now, isn’t it?”

“You don’t know what I’ve been through, what I’ve seen.”

“Yeah? Neither do you.” Ethan smiled dangerously with all his teeth showing.

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“The rest of your team doesn’t know, do they?” Ethan asked. “Let’s make a deal, you don’t tell them who I was and I don’t tell them who you are.”

“Why should I trust you?”

Ethan rolled his eyes. “It’s not about trust, Matt. Just keep your mouth shut and so will I.”

“Fine,” Matt said at last but reluctantly.

He and Emily were each given a small windowless room with a bed and a separate bathroom. In the corner next to the door stood an empty hanger with a mirror. It was the most luxurious accommodation he had ever lived in. Ethan opened the bathroom door and eyed the shower with some curiosity when someone knocked on the door.

He had expected Matt but it was Becker. He was holding a bunch of clothes in his arms.

“Thought you might like something different,” he said, holding the clothes out to Ethan.

“Thanks,” Ethan said surprised and took the bundle. Then he saw that Becker had his revolver. “Can I have that back?”

“Once you proved to me that you can shoot with it,” Becker replied. His loose stance, the easy slope of his shoulders and the look he gave him told Ethan that Becker was challenging him. He had seen the same gesture too often, both with the movement and in prison.

“For a soldier you’ve been pretty sloppy today. Maybe you should prove the same to me,” he smirked at Becker.

“Should I?” Becker’s tone changed from casual to challenging as well.

“Give it a thought,” Ethan replied, his smirk widening. “Twenty minutes?”
“I’ll see you.” It didn’t escape him that Becker looked back over his shoulder at him as he walked away.

Russian Empire, Tambov Oblast, Rasskazovsky, 1887
Ethan never remembered his first week in 1885. Irena told him after that he’d called out for Danny again and again in his fever but Ethan never recalled that memory or even how Irena and her father had found him in the snow.

The first thing he did remember was waking up in an unfamiliar room with his side burning like fire.

“Oh, hello.” The girl that sat at the small table close to his bed smiled.

“Where am I?” Patrick asked. His throat was dry and hurt.

“You need water,” the girl decided with a thick accent he couldn’t place. Something east-European. She moved quickly and held a cup to his lips from which he drank greedily.

“Where am I?” he repeated, clearer now.

“You’re in my father’s house. I’m Irena Aljonova Dobrowski and my father is Edmundo Alexeivich Dobrowski.” She waited for his reply but Patrick only stared at her. Her answer had told him nothing.

“Patrick Quinn,” he said finally.

Irena giggled as she tried to pronounce his name but it came horribly mangled.

“You came from the light, didn’t you?” she asked with excitement glittering in her eyes. “Like that terrible creature you’ve slain and-“

“Irena,” a male voice said sternly.

“Papa,” was all Patrick could understand before she continued to speak in a language he hadn’t heard before. The man, her father doubtlessly, was a tall, broad-shouldered man with a black beard and warm, dark eyes.

“You must excuse my daughter,” he said, sitting down in Irena’s vacated chair. His accent was less strong than Irena’s. “I’m afraid we don’t get much excitement here.”

“Where is here?”

“You’re on my estate in Rasskazovsky in the Tambov Oblast of the Russian Empire.” Most of these words meant nothing to Patrick but he swallowed at the last one.

“Which year?”

“17th of January 1885.” Edmundo gave Patrick a moment to digest the news before he asked, “I understand you came from the light?”

Patrick nodded.

“And that light leads to a faraway place?”

He nodded again. “What happened? The last thing I remember is suddenly standing in the dark with snow around me and that creature coming closer.”

“From what I’ve seen when we found you, you grabbed a stone and smashed its head in. Which was very brave. We have seen a creature like this before and the last time it killed four men before we put an end to it.”

“I killed so many of them, I guess I got good at it,” Patrick said more or less to himself and Edmundo nodded.

“The light is it…is it still there?” he asked.

“No, it vanished quickly after we found you,” Edmundo explained. Patrick swallowed against the rising dread in his throat. He was stranded more than a hundred years from home. Edmundo put a large hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry. Out here we say that when one tree falls another is planted.”

“Was…was there someone else coming through the light? A boy, red hair…”

“No, I’m sorry,” Edmundo said, rubbing Patrick’s shoulder lightly. “You should sleep. We will talk when you feel better.”

After months of living inside ruins under the constant threat of the shadow jumpers, Edmundo’s house was sheer luxury. None of the other people living in the house spoke English and mostly Patrick was sleeping anyway. Irena came by often, always bubbling over with questions.

A man, probably a doctor, came by once to look at the wounds on Patrick’s side. He said a lot of things Patrick didn’t understand but he looked satisfied when he left.

Finally when he was strong enough to walk again they made him take a bath for which he was grateful and Irena took him downstairs into what had to be her father’s study.

“How do you feel?” was the first thing Edmundo asked.

“Better, thank you,” Patrick replied. It hurt to sit down so he remained standing. Edmundo was an impressive man, naturally demanding attention and respect.

“I understand that you have no family and no friends in this world?”

“I’m alone,” Patrick confirmed. “And I have nowhere to go.”

“I am offering you a place here,” Edmundo said, looking him in the eyes. “You would help out at the estate, keep Irena company – you’d have a place to sleep and to eat.”

“But you don’t know me,” Patrick blurted.

“I know that you are brave. I told you that already. And my daughter seems to like you.” At his words Patrick looked at Irena who smiled at him.

“I…I don’t know what to say.”

“Just say you’ll stay,” Irena admonished him. She seemed excited at the prospect of keeping him.

“Yes…I…I mean thank you,” Patrick stuttered. Under Edmundo’s dark eyes he felt the need to prove himself, right now in this moment.

“He needs a name,” Irena said.

Patrick gave her a confused look. “But I have a name.”

“What she means is that we need to explain your presence here. People talk and it wouldn’t do you any favours if it was known that you came from the light,” Edmundo explained.

“He could be Ethan,” Irena threw in quickly. “That’d explain everything.”

“Ethan?” Patrick asked.

“My brother married an Englishwoman and lived and worked in London. They had a son, Ethan. They all died last year but no one outside my family knows this. If I explained that you were Ethan Dobrowski, my nephew returning home after his parents’ death it would take all suspicion from you.”

“And it explains why he only speaks English,” Irena added, quickly warming up to the idea.

“Ethan Dobrowski,” Patrick said and managed to smile. “I like it.”

Winter was colder than anything Patrick had ever experienced. Snow was piling up to the window sill and buried all and every road beneath it. But that didn’t make the work any lesser. Wood needed to be

“Drink that,” Abram, the old cook said, and handed him a steaming mug.

“Tea?” He asked taking a sip.

“Hot vodka with lime and honey,” Abram answered and laughed when Patrick started coughing. “Drink it boy, it brings back the bones into your bones.”

Just as quickly as winter passed summer came. During his time between anomalies seasons hadn’t existed. In Russia summer had meant warm, sunny days back on the estate. He and Irena took out horses or walked to the lake in forest, eating summer berries, swimming, splashing until their skin turned red whenever they could find the time.

“I wish this would never end,” Irena said. She lay stretched out next to the small fire where they fried the rabbits they had shot earlier.

“Me neither,” Ethan admitted.

“You just don’t want to go back to school,” Irena teased him.

“It gives me headaches,” Ethan tried to defend himself.

Irena laughed, clear and high, like a bell on St. Peter’s day. In the summer sunlight her long tresses glinted like gold. Ethan smiled slowly.

“I don’t want it to end because everything’s perfect right now,” he told her.

“Yeah,” she agreed softly. “It is.”

Fun fact: Dobrowski is a Polish name and Western, especially English sounding names were fashionable in late 19th century Russia hence people running around with Edmundo or Ethan


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 16th, 2012 05:04 pm (UTC)
The idea of travellers through the anomaly has always fascinated me, and this plays very well on that side of things. Great background.

BTW, you've got one of my beta comments left by accident in the early part of the story.
Sep. 20th, 2012 01:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I always liked the idea that people who timetravel are changed by what they see and experience. Like how in the show Emily is way more independent and pragmatic than normal for a Victorian woman or that Ethan's morality was largely based on his 18 years away from 21st century Western culture.

(I corrected it now, thanks for pointing it out)
Sep. 16th, 2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
Yes, really nice set-up for the story.
Sep. 20th, 2012 01:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks :)
Sep. 16th, 2012 08:16 pm (UTC)
Timey-wimey intrigue.

'Just as quickly as winter passed summer came. During his time between anomalies seasons hadn’t existed. In Russia summer had meant warm, sunny days back on the estate. He and Irena took out horses or walked to the lake in forest, eating summer berries, swimming, splashing until their skin turned red whenever they could find the time.'

And lovely vivid descriptions
Sep. 20th, 2012 01:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you think so since I actually tend to go overboard with descriptions and adjectives and such.
Sep. 17th, 2012 07:09 pm (UTC)
I'm enjoying your take on this, on how Ethan and Matt came to be who they are now.

Not sure if you know, but there are a couple of lines where you've still got the beta notes in (below)...
“Quiet,” Marama hissed to her. “Or you’ll draw the predators.” The punctuation always goes inside the inverted commas.
“Fine,” Matt said at last but reluctantly. (Changed to avoid repetition with fine and finally)
Sep. 20th, 2012 01:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you like it so far :)

(and I corrected it. Thanks for pointing it out :)
Sep. 18th, 2012 05:30 pm (UTC)
Aw, that's lovely, them looking after him. And I love the fact he knows Matt.
Sep. 20th, 2012 01:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks :)
Sep. 23rd, 2012 01:31 pm (UTC)
Interestingly I could load this into my ereader when I followed the link from denial, I can't think why it didn't like it originally! I like the AU-ishness and the way it changes the character interactions!
Sep. 26th, 2012 05:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you like it :)
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )



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