fredbassett: (Default)
[personal profile] fredbassett
Title : Silk and Steel, Part 93
Authors : fredbassett & munchkinofdoom
Fandom : Primeval
Characters : Lester/Ryan, Thomson, Connor, Nick, Stephen, Abby, Ditzy
Rating : 18
Disclaimer : Not ours, no money made, don’t sue
Spoilers : None
Summary : The Forest of Dean anomaly is open and Nick is able to return to his own world.
Warning : Slave!fic.
A/N (1) : The links to all previous parts can be found HERE. Captain Thomson appears by courtesy of [ profile] deinonychus_1.
A/N (2) : This is it, folks, the final part of what has been a story that has spanned three years of writing time and now runs to something over 250,000 words. Including the prequels and other unnumbered pasts, there are in the region of 100 chapters. Thanks to everyone who has encouraged us and stuck with us through thick and thin. It’s been a fantastic journey with you all, and this is the end we’ve always had in mind for the series. Thanks again, guys!
A/N (3) : Many thanks to [ profile] lsellersfic for the fabulous book cover (under the cut) and matching icon.

The anomaly spun slowly in the air, wreathed in the low cloud that covered the forest like a shroud. The ground was soft under foot and the leaden sky held the prospect of more rain but for now, a slight break in the cloud cover allowed a single, slanted beam of light to shine through the trees and sparkle on the broken fragments of time.

Lester watched as Thomson spoke briefly to the four wet, cold, tired soldiers that had now been in duty for something over 24 hours without relief and sent them off for a change of clothes and something to eat.

Once the men were out of sight, the rear doors of the black transit van opened and the science team led by Connor promptly set up instruments to measure the magnetic field and take various other readings. A brief foray through the anomaly by Stephen and Ditzy had confirmed that it still led to the Permian and, more importantly, that they could see another anomaly a mere kilometre away, shining like a beacon amidst the dark sands of the past.

Ryan stood at Lester’s side, dressed in full black combats, carrying the same Bergen he’d brought with him to the ARC in what now seemed like another lifetime. Before they had left the ARC, Lester had handed his lover an envelope containing the photographs of Ryan’s daughter that he’d taken during the awful job of clearing his lover’s personal possessions from his room. Ryan had blinked away tears and stowed them in his pack without a word.

They’d spent three all too brief hours alone in Lester’s rooms, not talking, simply holding each other and taking what comfort they could get from soft kisses and gentle hands. They had said their goodbyes on the morning of Ryan’s execution and now there were no more words.

Lester stood to one side as Nick said his goodbyes to the team he had worked with since his arrival in their world. The professor embraced Stephen and was hugged hard by both Abby and Connor.

Nick turned to his counterpart and extended his hand. “Look after them,” he said quietly. “I wouldn’t have lasted any time in this world without their support.”

Cutter nodded and shook the other man’s hand firmly.

Nick stepped up to Lester and shook his hand as well. Neither of them spoke. They’d gone from antagonists to allies as Nick had finally come to understand some of the ways of a world that he had hated with every fibre of his being. But for all the changes Nick had undergone, Lester was still deeply thankful that when it came to containing the fall-out from Helen Cutter’s machinations, he now had at his side a man who knew exactly how this world functioned. Lester had never envisaged a coalition consisting of himself, Cutter, Leek and Thomson, but that appeared to be what he’d ended up with and between them they would do everything in their power to ensure that the Anomaly Research Centre would rise like a phoenix from its own ashes for a second time.

But this time there would be no Captain Tom Ryan to stand at his shoulder the way Lyle was now no doubt standing beside Oliver Leek, in another quirk of fate that no one would have once anticipated.

“Goodbye, James. Thank you for not having me shot in the head and buried in a bunker.”

Nick’s words managed to draw a laugh from him. “You’ll never know how close you came to that,” he acknowledged. “If I’d realised quite how extensive Norman’s underground kingdom is I can assure you I would have found it hard to exercise restraint.”

Nick grinned at him. “I’ll remember that when I’m driving your counterpart to distraction.”

Nick turned and made his way to the anomaly, wearing the same clothes he’d been wearing when he’d arrived in this world and taking nothing away with him. With a final smile and a wave of his hand, Nick stepped through the anomaly.

Lester turned to Ryan.

His lover was still wearing the steel collar that he had fastened around his own neck the morning they had said what they had both believed to be their last goodbye.

Lester drew the small unlocking device from his pocket. “Tom?”

Heedless of the presence of the others, Ryan dropped to his knees at Lester’s feet and bent his head forward, exposing the back of the collar. Lester inserted the key and opened the lock, gently drawing the warm metal away from Ryan’s neck. He rested the backs of his fingers on Ryan’s skin, feeling the slight callus that that he knew so well.

“Stand up, Tom,” Lester murmured. “You’re a free man now and no one will be able to take that from you again.”

As Ryan stood, Lester drew back his arm to hurl the collar into the ball of fractured light, but Ryan stopped him, taking the slim band of metal out of Lester’s hand and gripping it firmly against the magnetic pull of the anomaly.

Ryan bent his head to cover Lester’s lips in a final kiss.

Lester fought the natural urge to close his eyes as their tongues touched and he gave himself over to sensations rather than conscious thought. He wanted to commit every moment that he had left in his lover’s company to memory. Ryan’s eyes were as grey as a winter sky but held warmth and offered comfort. As they kissed, Lester reached up and ran his fingers down the stubble on Ryan’s jaw, wanting to preserve the memory of touch as well as sight and taste. When they finally drew apart, Ryan stepped back, the collar still held in his hand. He shouldered the Bergen, giving no sign that the weight pained him.

Ryan hesitated for a moment and opened his mouth to speak but Lester shook his head. There was nothing more to be said but there was one thing left that had to be done.

He captured Ryan’s right hand in his and drew it to his lips, pressing a kiss into Ryan’s palm the way Ryan had so often done with him, then Lester stepped back and smiled, holding his emotions in check with the same iron resolve that had stood him in good stead in what felt like a lifetime of political machinations.

Ryan returned his smile and then turned and stepped up to the anomaly, pausing for a moment to exchange a brief embrace with the man who had risked his life for him.

Lester heard Ditzy’s murmured words, “Good luck, boss.”

Without looking back, Ryan stepped into the anomaly.

Lester watched time take his lover from him and let out a long, slow breath. What mattered was that Ryan was alive and would find a home in another world rather than face a lingering death at the end of an executioner’s whip or a lifetime in hiding.

He stared at the anomaly flickering in the sunlight and realised that the grey clouds had parted slightly more to reveal a hint of blue in the sky. Lester tried to picture the world that Ryan had just stepped into. He’d read countless reports but had very little real idea of what lay beyond the rips in time that the teams dealt with on an almost daily basis. On impulse, he stepped up to the anomaly, waving the others back with an imperious gesture.

“Tell me if it appears to be closing, Lieutenant, but otherwise I would appreciate some time alone.”

Without waiting for a reply, Lester held his breath and stepped into the anomaly, exchanging the watery sunlight and soft, reddish earth of the Forest of Dean for the harsh glare of the Permian sun and the coarse-grained black sand that crunched under the soles of his shoes. He took two paces away from the anomaly and blinked in the light.

He was standing on the side of a low hill that sloped gently down into a wide valley. The only vegetation consisted of low, scattered bushes, bright flashes of green in a dark, volcanic landscape. As had been reported, high on the opposite slope of the valley, an anomaly hung in the air like a broken diamond. The anomaly that would take Nick Cutter and Ryan into a world that Lester could barely imagine.

A world without the system of Indenture.

He watched as Nick and Ryan made their way down into the valley and then up the final slope. Neither of the men looked back. It took them just under ten minutes to reach the twin anomaly. When they did, Nick walked through with barely any hesitation, but Ryan stopped, no doubt thinking that he was alone at last in an era that held the bones of a man he had never known. The other Tom Ryan whose place he was about to take.

Slowly, Ryan turned around and, seeing Lester on the opposite hillside, lifted one hand in a gesture of farewell. Lester did the same and for an all too brief moment they were alone again and nothing else mattered other than the simple fact that Ryan was still alive.

The pain of loss would return later, but it was better this way than any other.

They held the moment for a heartbeat longer and then Ryan followed Nick Cutter out of the past and into a new world.

Lester waited long enough to bring his heartbeat back under control and then he too left behind the bright sunlight of the Permian for a greyer, damper and altogether emptier world.

As he stepped away from the anomaly, Lester realised that it was already starting to fade, and he could see the look of relief on Connor’s face at his return.

Lester stopped and stared at the rapidly diminishing light. He stretched out his hand, opening his fingers to reveal the key to Ryan’s collar. The magnetic pull of the anomaly was still strong enough to snatch the small piece of metal from his palm and drag it into its depths.

The anomaly winked like a distant star and was gone, leaving behind nothing but footprints that led to nowhere on this earth.

Lester wondered if the key was now glinting in the sunlight on the black sand or whether it had been swallowed up by time itself.

Either way, Ryan was now free.

And that was how Lester would remember him.

Date: 2012-08-15 02:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Congratulations on a beautiful finale

*dissolves into puddle of weepy goo*

Date: 2012-08-16 10:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! *offers you a floppy ear for clean up purposes*

Date: 2012-08-15 03:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"They held the moment for a heartbeat longer and then Ryan followed Nick Cutter out of the past and into a new world."

It's just lovely and......

*bites lip to stop wailing*
Edited Date: 2012-08-15 03:05 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-08-16 10:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks :) The ending was very hard to write, even though I new what was going to happen, I still needed to find what I hoped were the right words.

Date: 2012-08-15 03:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh bloody hell! I am sitting here bawling my eyes out! That was an absolutely incredible ending - absolutely in keeping with what's gone before, and both beautiful, dramatic and heart-wrenching.

This has been one rollercoaster of a story. I've read bits of it from between my fingers, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I can safely say it's the most impressive achievement I've read - and a million times better than a lot of the drivel that gets published professionally!

*Strews flowers at yours and Munchkin's shapely paws*

Date: 2012-08-16 10:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you :) I had a little snivel myself, both when I wrote it and when I posted it.

*scratches happily around in the flowers*

Date: 2012-08-15 04:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, *sniffles* That was wrenching and beautiful.

"Lester had handed his lover an envelope containing the photographs of Ryan’s daughter that he’d taken during the awful job of clearing his lover’s personal possessions from his room"

"They had said their goodbyes on the morning of Ryan’s execution and now there were no more words."

"Lester had never envisaged a coalition consisting of himself, Cutter, Leek and Thomson"
*snicker* Um, yeah! Is this the four Musketeers or the Four Horsemen?

"But this time there would be no Captain Tom Ryan to stand at his shoulder"
*wibbles again*

Oh, good grief. If I comment on every line I loved, I'd just quote the entire thing back at you.

This was a simply amazing work, and the time, labour and imagination it took to start and finish it deserves many, many pats on the back.

Congratulations to both of you!

Date: 2012-08-16 10:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*hands you and ear for mopping up*

Thank you :) It's been a wonderful journey and a huge amount of fun.

Date: 2012-08-15 05:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That was a lovely ending to a magnificent story! I always thought you'd end up sending Ryan back with Nick; I'm so glad I was right :-) *swallows lump in throat*

Date: 2012-08-16 10:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It was always going to end that way. We though a few people wouldn't be surprised. It was really the only ending it could ever have had.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] - Date: 2012-08-16 01:58 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-08-15 05:16 pm (UTC)
fififolle: (Primeval - Ditzy (munchkin indus))
From: [personal profile] fififolle
OMG. I had no idea what to expect, but this... this was amazing. Nooooooo! Ryan! Don't leave James! But... he's free now, and alive, and maybe that's all that matters. And Nick gets to go home. He'll be thinking THANK GOD. Waaaaahhhhhh!!!!!!!
A truly brilliant and captivating and utterly fitting end to the series. I wish it could never end, and there are so many possible futures for them all that it's just fantastic.
*claps hard* *wipes away a tear*
Bravo! Bravo! Encore!

Edit: Oh! and wonderful book cover! Really lovely. Clearly everyone is so caught up in the story to remember the top of the page *g*
Edited Date: 2012-08-15 05:17 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-08-16 10:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm so relieved it worked for people, as there was ultimately no other way out for Ryan. And yes, nick gets to go home.

*lends you my ear for wiping purposes*

Date: 2012-08-15 05:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
**applauding** Excellent result. I think we were all wondering how you were going to resolve the whole Ryan-is-alive issue and although this isn't so satisfactory for either of them, neither is a slow death so again, an excellent result. I too have to admit to getitng teary eyed but there could be no other way out. Now I have to find other reasons to look forward to Wednesdays. Very well done.

Date: 2012-08-16 10:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you. As I've just said to Fifi, you're right, there was ultimately no other way out for Ryan.

Date: 2012-08-15 06:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*Snivels softly* Such a bittersweet and gorgeous ending.

Thank you both for this amazing journey!

Date: 2012-08-16 10:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for sticking with us through thick and thin!

Date: 2012-08-15 07:37 pm (UTC)
ext_27141: (Lester Phone)
From: [identity profile]
I know it makes sense, but...WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! After everything they've been though! Beautifully bitterweet, though :)

Wasn't actually expecting it to be the end tonight (it's entirely possible I haven't been paying attention when I should have been, mind you!), so that was a bit of a shock!

Date: 2012-08-16 10:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*g* That's what I felt about your Stephen/Ryan AU. I was gutted, but it was right for the story.

LOL, oh dear, that must have been a bit of a shock if you hadn't noticed the header recently. Ooops, sorry!

Date: 2012-08-15 07:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's a fabulous ending to a magnificent story

Date: 2012-08-16 10:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for reading and commenting!

Date: 2012-08-15 07:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I know we're supposed to like happy endings and everything (and I do) but that's a GREAT ending, really poignant and heartbreaking and yet upbeat in a way as well because yes at least Ryan is alive. (Also I think it would be to the detriment of what you two have built up if this series had a totally happy ever after ending.)
Great fic, and HUGE fic, what an achievement, congrats both!

And the cover is lovely.

Date: 2012-08-16 10:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
As we've said, it's the ending that we've always had in mind. It's in our very first notes. The exact details of it still needed working out and writing, but I certainly knew how it would play out.

Originally, the idea was to have a big denouement in the Forest of Dean, but for logistical reasons, it just didn't work out, so we had the mayhem in the ARC instead, and this almost as an epilogue.

As you say, some stories just can't have happy endings, and this isn't a universe that can be manipulated to provide that.

Thanks for your kind words.

Date: 2012-08-15 08:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*SOBS* Oh that was just beautiful. But so, so, so bitter sweet. :'-( I can't believe they couldn't find a way to be together. *Wails* That being said, I'm so glad RYan survived. Maybe he can have a measure of happiness in the other world. *Wipes away tears* I'd still like to chop HELEN! into a million tiny bits for causing all this in the first place. With out her interference, Ryan and Lester might have been able to stay together.

*Rereads and continues to weep* Just gorgeous.

I feel so sad that it's really over. What will I have to look forward to on Wednesdays now??

Oh and I forgot to mention. The cover is gorgeous. Lester in his suit and a kneeling Ryan. :-)
Edited Date: 2012-08-15 08:17 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-08-16 10:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm afraid that there was no way in this universe of giving them that happy ending. To do that would have been to fundamentally disregard the way the world works and we couldn't do that.

It's rare for me to write sad endings, but this one was always on the cards.

Yes, the cover is stunning, isn't it?

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] - Date: 2012-08-16 11:44 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-08-15 09:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Eek and meep! S&S can't have ended! Poor Ryan and Lester, parted forever but I suppose it had to be. *pouts* for no happy ending for the boys. *purrs*

Lovely cover too.

Date: 2012-08-16 10:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, maybe forever isn't the case, but that's a tale in my head that may never see the light of day.

Thanks for all your support :)

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From: [identity profile] - Date: 2012-08-16 09:29 pm (UTC) - Expand

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From: [identity profile] - Date: 2012-08-16 11:45 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-08-15 11:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"They’d spent three all too brief hours alone in Lester’s rooms, not talking, simply holding each other and taking what comfort they could get from soft kisses and gentle hands. They had said their goodbyes on the morning of Ryan’s execution and now there were no more words."

Incredibly moving......

Date: 2012-08-16 10:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you :)

Date: 2012-08-16 01:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My lovely new icon and I love the ending - although we're devastated it's over.

Thanks for sharing this amazing story

Date: 2012-08-16 10:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's a beautiful icon!

Thanks for your support.

Date: 2012-08-16 03:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Although the ending is bittersweet, it was the oh so right one. I bow at the the paws of the masters :) I plan to do a complete re-read in the very near future. I've posted all the icons I've made over the years and also a banner I forgot I made. I'll be looking forward to the new series your going to start any day now rignt?

Date: 2012-08-16 10:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you :) I'm so pleased you think the ending is the right one.

LOL, that's a story that might never see the light of day.

Date: 2012-08-16 08:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

OK maybe I shouldn't have read this at my work desk.

It's been a brilliant ride - thank you to you and Munchkin for taking us on it.

What am I going to do with my Wednesday's now?

Date: 2012-08-16 10:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh noes! Not the place to be reading this :)

Thanks for all your support, sweetie! Despite all the changes en route, the end was still pretty close to the notes you saw all those years ago.

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Date: 2012-08-16 04:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That was an incredible ending - I didnt expect it yet it totally made sense & was very touching.

This has been a brilliant series from start to finish, to keep the storyline and characterisation going over so many episodes is a great achievement so well done to you & munchkin! *Virtual party yay*

And Silk & Steel is something I use as an example of what fanfic can be - in the sense of creating an alternative canon that fits in with the existing canon so the characters are all recognisable yet they get taken in different directions. And lots of mansex *g*

Date: 2012-08-16 07:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! I'm very pleased that some people anticipated it and others were surprised. It means we didn't telegraph all plot points in advance.

Thank you, that's an awesome compliment. But it did all start from the mansex. *g*
Edited Date: 2012-08-16 07:04 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-08-17 04:27 am (UTC)
celeste9: (PriWriMo: ryan)
From: [personal profile] celeste9
Oh, shit, I figured out what you were doing right before you did it. *is a weepy mess*

But still, that's really a perfect ending. Really beautiful, gorgeous ending, perfectly in keeping with the tone of the story. This fic was so amazing to read, loved every bit of it, even when I was peering through my fingers or sobbing like a baby! Which I think you know happened a lot. :)

Also that is an amazing cover.

Date: 2012-08-17 10:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you so much :) Following your progress through the series when you came to it was a great joy!

Date: 2012-08-17 08:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Awww, that was such a gorgeous ending! This has been a fabulous read.

Date: 2012-08-18 08:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you :) It's been lovely to have you on board.

Date: 2012-08-29 04:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow! It's amazing to think this is finally over! It seems like a really appropriate ending to me - Nick, Ryan and Lester have been so central to the narrative and the Silk and Steel Ryan going back with Nick seems to round the connections off nicely - and that final scene of Ryan and Lester beside opposite anomalies is stunning!

Date: 2012-08-29 07:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, it's finally over. I'm glad you think the ending is fitting. It was the one we always had in mind for it, but the final scene you mention only came out in the actually writing. The plan was only for Ryan to accompany Nick. The details happened as I wrote it. It' probably the hardest scene I've ever written, so knowing it worked is very comforting.

And thank you again for teh wonderful fic cover and icon! The cover has now been added to the first chapter as well.

Date: 2012-11-28 03:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That was beautifully written, and really I suppose the only logical end... but WAAAAAaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!

Poor, poor Lester, and poor Ryan. Afterall he'll probably find it very difficult to adjust to the other world he'll find and possibly to being around a Lester who isn't his Lester, and a daughter who isn't his daughter... while Lester of course is just alone. *sniffles*

Date: 2012-11-28 06:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for sticking with us :)

Yes, as you say, it really was the only way it could have ended.

*lends you an ear for your sniffles*


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