TW: Suicidal discussion, themes of sexual abuse
Note, I am not a psychologist, and have no idea if any of the assessments I am making are accurate. FYI
Also, I do not own Primeval, or any of the main characters including, Connor, Abby, Stephen, Becker, Jenny, Cutter/Nick, Lester, Tom, Duncan, Helen
this takes place in a weird universe where Stephen did NOT die at the end of season 2, so this is currently beginning of season 3 with Stephen.
Duncan cracked the door open with a surly expression on his face. "Yeah?" he looked them up and down. "Hot blond and muscle man, what do you want?"
"We wanted to know a bit about Connor before he met us," Abby said trying to be as gentle as possible.
"Why?" Duncan said skeptically
"he is just being a little un-Connor, and we thought you would have some insights!" she was obviously trying not to make him worry… it wasn't working. Duncan's eyes narrowed.
"For goodness sake Abby!" Stephen said, getting frustrating and pushing her aside. "Do you know anything about any past relationships Connor has been involved in?" that got Duncan's attention
"What'd he do? What's wrong with Connor?" He asked letting go of the door, eyes wide. He backed into the apartment and let them come in after him and shut the door. Duncan sagged onto the couch
"He collapsed yesterday, and one of our coworkers saw him at a pub with someone who is apparently not very friendly." Abby said sympathetically.
"Not again…" Duncan moaned, his head in his hands. Stephen and Abby looked at each other, surprised.
"This has happened before?" Stephen asked, almost accusatorially.
"When we were first becoming mates, he would show up all the time with weird bruises or cuts all over." Duncan started. "One day, Tom and I followed him to this pub, and saw him being led away by these really scary looking guys. We didn't know what to do, they were a lot bigger than us, we couldn't do anything." He looked apologetic then continued "The next time we saw him head that way though, we stopped him and led him back to our place. Connor nearly had a fit. Something about 'I have to' and he said please a lot. Tom was always much better at dealing with Connor when he was in those sorts of moods."
"When was this?" Stephen asked.
"The first time was beginning of our second year of uni" Duncan thought back. "He hadn't gone back home for the summer. He's from Yorkshire, but I've never heard him talk about his family, and he has never gone home. I never wanted to pry because I always assumed he had bad memories of them,"
"Why would you think that," asked Abby "They may be dead, that's why I never go home."
Stephen shook his head. He understood. "If they were just dead, you would still talk about them. If they were abusive and he escaped, you wouldn't want to remember." Duncan nodded.
"So, Tom helped Connor?" Abby prompted.
"Yeah, it took a while, a few months I think, but finally Connor went straight to Tom and we didn't need to detour him anymore. I'm not sure exactly what happened, it was all in Tom's room, I heard them talking, then a lot of crying, Connor shouting sometimes, but towards the end they would always turn up music really loudly for a few hours and Tom would leave the room when Connor was asleep." Stephen and Abby looked at each other perplexed. They understood now why Tom's death was so hard on him. He had basically been an anchor for Connor, keeping him from being too reckless.
Duncan continued "Connor came over a few nights a week at first. But it slowly got to be less frequent. I could tell he wasn't going to the pub because his injuries hadn't returned. He was also happy. Genuinely happy in a way I had never seen before."
"So, was Tom his boyfriend?" Abby asked Duncan looked surprised
"Why would you ask that?" Duncan asked. Apparently, the kid was pretty dense. "Wait, do you mean when they were in Tom's room they would…?"
Abby and Stephen almost laughed at the reaction. Duncan thought about it for a minute then shrugged "Guess its better than a bunch of abusive jerks in a pub," he said. Then shook his head, "No, I don't think there was any of that romantic stuff. I think Connor just really needed someone to talk to and be gentle with him. So, for relationships, I have never heard him tell of any. I don't know if he thought he was worth liking anyone."
Stephen looked concerned by that statement. "What do you mean by that?"
There was a pause, "He told me once while we were working about his professor's assistant that he thought was really cute, and who he couldn't take his eyes off of during their lectures." Abby stared at Stephen. "But then he laughed and said something like 'caring is idiotic' and I caught him mumble something like 'I'm not worth shit like that'. I mean, I understand low self-esteem. I have low self-esteem. But even I hope I will find someone who I will love. This was different. It was almost a broken sense of self-worth."
There were some glimmering pieces that were starting to make sense about Connor's personality. How he would ask for more work, from anyone. He would bound in to any room in the ARC to help anyone when he thought he heard any sign of trouble. He would complete any task, no matter what department asked it. Stephen even thought that he caught him cleaning the locker room once. It seemed that they were the ones that now needed to help him.
Pierce sat next to Connor's bed, just watching him. Connor was ashamed, and frustrated, and embarrassed. He looked around, anywhere but at the Psychiatrist. There was no one else around, everyone left to give them privacy. Cutter was around, watching from a distance.
"Connor," Pierce said gently "Your friends are concerned about you."
Tears started to pool in his eyes as Connor shook his head slowly "No, no, no no no no!"
"What do you mean 'no?'" Pierce asked, "'No,' they aren't your friends, or 'no' they aren't worried?"
Connor was still shaking his head, finally he dropped it into his hands and pulled his knees up to support his elbows. "I can't –" he started crying, "It's not –"
"Words, Connor," The therapist urged gently, "use your words,"
Instead Connor flung himself at the man's trousers, going for the zipper. Pierce saw Cutter jump up watching the interaction, and held him back with a look. The therapist had been confronted by this before, so he put his hand on Connor's shoulder and gently pushed him back into bed. Connor hung his head in shame. "Connor, look at me" Pierce said firmly
Slowly brown eyes raised to meet hazel. "Why would you think you don't have friends, or they aren't worried?" Pierce said, his eyes gently prodding the student's soul.
"They shouldn't" he said softly. "I'm not worth caring about." Then his eyes glazed as if reciting words he had heard a thousand times, "I am worthless, I will never amount to anything, a quick shag is all I will ever be useful for, I should give up while I can, no one will ever love me, I am dirty, I am -," Pierce placed a finger over his lips, cutting him off.
"Do you really believe all that Connor?" the brown eyes that were staring into the distance started welling with tears again. "So why do you work here?"
Connor shrugged "I can, I'm here, they haven't found a replacement yet. It's ok, they will." He nodded as if reassuring himself. "I'm useless so they should find someone better." He stared down at his lap. Then suddenly he went after Pierce's trousers again, with a pleading look in his eyes. Pierce pushed him back again gently.
"let's get something to help you sleep, yeah?" Connor was curled up in a ball again, with his head in his hands, tears flowing silently. Dr. Blaine came out and administered a strong sedative and Pierce watched it take effect while Cutter came into the room staring at the boy who was slowly relaxing into his pillows. There were residual tear tracks running down his face and his face had a pained look upon it. Footsteps came up behind them and they turned to see Abby and Stephen join the crowd by Connor's bed, watching him sleep.
"What did Duncan say" Cutter asked.
"It seems that something happened back at home that he doesn't talk about, but it's pretty bad. He has never returned since he moved to London." Stephen started, "He also doesn't ever talk about his family. Apparently, Tom and Duncan started pulling him away from the same pub Becker found him in early on in their second year at Uni. But they think he was going there all first year. Tom became kind of his own therapist/sex relief. Whenever Connor needed to unload, he would go to their place and talk/cry/yell to Tom, and then Duncan said they would 'play really loud music for a few hours and when Tom came out Connor was asleep' so basically, shag him to sleep." Cutter looked thoughtful. "Duncan also said that the times he came over seemed to decrease in frequency over time, so whatever was happening seemed to help. He didn't seem to be going to the pub because he didn't have any new injuries. He also seemed genuinely happier."
Abby added "He also said that he didn't think there were any romantic entanglements going on because he didn't think Connor was actually consider himself worth it."
"That lines up with our consult," Pierce said thoughtfully
Abby continued, "It seems that Connor once told Duncan about" she winked at Stephen, "'Professors cute assistant', but that he shouldn't let things go further because 'caring is idiotic, I'm not worth shit like that.'"
Cutter looked at Stephen, "Do you think those feelings may have resurfaced when he started working closer with us?"
Stephen shrugged, "I always assumed he liked Abby, he always asked me about how to get her to notice him."
Abby snorted, "ever hear of an excuse? We were mates, he is basically my best mate, but no, I don't think he ever actually liked me." she looked sad again. "At least, I thought we were…"
"By the way," Stephen asked, "Where are Jenny, and that new guy, Becker?" realizing that they weren't there with a start.
"They went to the Pub Becker saw Connor at, to look for some more answers" Cutter said, with a sigh. Clearly, Cutter was not happy about this.
"I should tell all you," Pierce addressed them, "Connor sees sex as a weapon – against himself, for him it is a punishment. There is a point that he may try to engage in some sort of sexual act with everyone. Please do not let him." Stephen shifted guiltily. Pierce pretended not to notice. "He is in a very fragile state of mind right now. Think of him as an addict. It's not the sex he needs, it's the punishment. We need to get him off of that. Mostly he believes that he holds no value. Starting from a young age the people around him have continually shattered his self-worth. So, it's not even what he believes anymore, it's become who he is. It seems that he had someone who was able to pull him out for a while, even if it wasn't in the healthiest way possible, but he was doing better. What happened to him? Do you know?" Pierce asked them.
They all looked at each other. "He died," Cutter said. "About 8 months ago. In Connor's arms." Pierce's brow furrowed
"That would cause a nasty back spin. He was already working for you when this happened?" He asked. They nodded. "That explains it. He would need to continue doing what he thought was expected of him. Especially if someone he cared about died because of it. But without the confidence Tom provided, he probably wouldn't have gotten involved in something like this. I don't know what it is you do, but considering the secrecy and everything, it must be important, and he must be intelligent and someone valuable?"
"He's a genius," Cutter said matter-of-factly. "He does his own work, which isn't by any means easy, is always inventing things, and helps all of us with our work as well, sometimes coming in at the exact point when we ourselves figure out that we need help."
"Not to mention constantly putting himself in danger when he has barely any field training" Stephen muttered.
"He saved your skin!" Abby snapped at him, "He has saved my skin, he has saved Cutter's, and Jenny's. Field training or no, we are all lucky to be alive thanks to him."
"He's lucky to be alive too, actually" Cutter said, "How many times has he been injured 'saving our skins'?"
They all fell quiet.
It was Pierce's turn. "I know you think he is just doing it because he cares, and is brave, and he is, but the fact is, Connor is genuinely self-destructive right now. He will do whatever it takes. Your job, overwork, a shag. He is passively suicidal and genuinely does not care about what happens to himself. You guys have to look out for him."
"Passively suicidal" Abby said quietly, "What does that mean?"
"It means he won't try to kill himself intentionally, but he also won't try and avoid anything or anyone that tries to kill him. So, if going out in the field is genuinely that dangerous, don't let him until he is a little better. Or, keep a sharp eye on him. I would also recommend half hour daily sessions with me for at least two weeks and get him to see a Physiatrist for some medication."
"What good are half hour sessions?" Cutter asked
"I'm not going to try to push him, this must be a slow process." Pierce explained "Just a little at a time. Some days he may not want to talk, which is fine. Right now, Connor just need to learn to trust me. In my experience with abuse cases like this, trust is the first thing to go." He anticipated their thoughts saying "I hate to say it, but I honestly don't think he trusts anyone in the world right now. Himself included."
Stephen's heart physically hurt while looking at Connor in that sterile bed. He looked so small and plain, with the single light blue hospital gown rather than his vibrant array of colours and layers. He was on his side, his hands curled on top of one another by his face, it was the first time he had ever seen his hands without the fingerless gloves. They were covered in burn scars. The wrist of his lower hand showed evidence of a few old deep cuts that were normally covered. He wondered if they were on the inside of his other wrist too. He wanted to check, but he also didn't want to move the boy. Dr. Pierce left while Stephen was staring sadly at Connor, without thinking, he made his way to the chair next to the bed and sat down. He went to gently move the hair away from Connor's eyes, but Connor flinched away from the hand and let out a small whimper. Stephen retreated.
Cutter watched the interaction but didn't say anything. Abby went to sit on Connor's bed, but Cutter held her back. "I don't think we should touch him right now." He said quietly. "Why don't we leave him to rest. We all have work to do. He isn't going anywhere. I will tell Dr. Blaine to inform us when he wakes, and to not let him leave."