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Persephone by Yahtzee (NC-17)

Title: Persephone
Fandom: Prometheus
Pairing: David 8/Elizabeth Shaw
Categories: Drama, Angst, Character Study, Post-Canon
Length: (22,902 words)
Warnings: Major spoilers for the film, deals with medical trauma, grief over canon character deaths, unhealthy relationships

Author on LJ: yahtzee63 / [personal profile] yahtzee
Author Website: faviconYahtzee / Yahtzee's website

This whole rec contains major spoilers for the film, though most references are oblique, so it's going behind a cut.

Summary:
Elizabeth repairs David - but slowly he begins to realize he is malfunctioning in a way she can't fix. And he doesn't want her to.

Review:
The Alien films have been hit-or-miss for me, and the recent prequel Prometheus was more miss-than-hit. However, the two most interesting characters for me (Elizabeth Shaw and David 8) end up stuck together at the end of the film and left me wondering WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. Yahtzee does an incredible job completely accepting and working with the film as it is, yet weaving in more context and fleshing out the characters in ways that make sense. Trapped together, Elizabeth needs David to survive and David relies on Elizabeth to give him meaning after losing all his directives.

The story does not flinch away from hard truths in the aftermath of the films events: Elizabeth's grief, her faith and how that affects the situation, David's lack of boundaries, his voyeurism and his reprehensible acts, and the damages done to them both. Neither are they only seen through a lens of their faults and difficulties. Both of them show their strengths, including Elizabeth's indomitable will, and David's peculiar methods of staving off boredom, especially with his obsession with Lawrence of Arabia. Isolated, they must rely on each other as they move toward the only goal Elizabeth has after everything.

Their relationship seems thoroughly bizarre at first (and second and third) glance, yet the buildup is believable and--as the author's tags put it--the "extremely unhealthy relationship turns borderline healthy and confuses participants." This is a perfect and accurate description. There is anger and hatred, weird intimacy, robot sex, struggles with religion and free will and forgiveness. The sex is shockingly hot, and the growing intimacy (the haircut, the conversations) is even more resonating.

This is not an easy story. It made me cry several times, especially in reaction to Elizabeth's grief for her lost lover. However, it thoughtfully deals with this grief, with dealing with tragedy and growing from it, with the issues of free will and sentience. Ultimately, it's about giving up something you're attached to for something that you do to get by and surprises you by turning into something precious. It's bittersweet and breaks your heart, but by the end it feels somewhat mended and hopeful. It's a great follow-up to the film, but beyond that it's just great fiction.

David finds he would rather have her hatred than her indifference.

Surely this, too, is a sign of malfunction.

That afternoon she goes for her first run. David watches her through the intra-ship sensors. They weren’t fond of screens, the Engineers; they preferred three dimensions, not two. So Elizabeth is a figure made of swirling motes of light, only a few inches high. He watches her dash along holographic corridors as he sits there, flute in hand, waiting to play her back into privacy and darkness.

At one point she trips. She doesn’t fall, but instead catches herself against the wall. Still, her free hand goes to her scar, and even through the sandstorm effect of the hologram, David can see the agony on her face. Instantly he rises, ready to go to her aid.

But Elizabeth straightens herself. Though she is still in pain, she takes a deep breath, then another, then another. And then she is running again, refusing to stop. Such fierce determination – such sure knowledge of herself, even here –

David whispers, “Truly, for some men nothing is written unless they write it.”


Persephone

[ETA: correcting about a million typos]

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
mothlights
Nov. 17th, 2012 06:10 am (UTC)
This was incredible. So much thought and attention went into it (and as you said, no flinching) and I couldn't stop reading. Thanks so much for the rec!
jenna_marianne
Nov. 22nd, 2012 02:23 am (UTC)
:D

Same with me re: couldn't stop reading. I think I stayed up to 2 or 3 am the night I read it. So absorbing!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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