Pairing: Evan Lorne/Peter Kavanagh
Rating: PG13 for coarse language
Disclaimer: Vague spoilers for season one and mention of canon deaths
Author's Notes: This story is a remix of the wonderful movie Just Like Heaven starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo. I hope the writers and producers know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In case you're wondering, Evan gets to play Reese's part.
The title is from the song Weighty Ghost by the most fantastic band Wintersleep.
I would very much like to thank hoktauri and taste_is_sweet for their excellent, kind and incredibly accurate beta!
Merry Christmas Eviljr! Thanks for the opportunity to get these guys together.
Summary: Not all ghosts go to heaven.
( A Ghost Just Needs a Home - Part 1 of 2 )
"Tell me about Major Lorne," Peter said to McKay when he arrived (only slightly late) for his shift.
McKay looked up sharply from his tablet. "Lorne?" he repeated. "Why'd you want to know about him?"
"I don't know," Peter said, handing McKay the cup of coffee he'd brought him from the mess. It had been Lorne's idea to bring McKay coffee, as a way to soften up the grumpy scientist and get him talking. Peter just hoped it wouldn't make him look like he was trying to suck up.
McKay blinked at the coffee. "Thanks," he said, sounding more surprised than grateful. "You didn't poison this, did you? Slip some lemon juice into it when no one was looking?"
Peter rolled his eyes. "If I wanted to kill you McKay, I'd make sure everyone would know I did it so they'd know who to thank."
McKay actually laughed. "Strangely enough, I believe it," he said, and took a long drink. "So, Evan Lorne," he said after he'd swallowed. "Nice guy. Smart, strong, incredibly sarcastic, but his team loved him. It's been hard on Parrish and the others since he's been gone."
"Yeah?" Peter said, leaning against McKay's desk. Lorne was standing in front of McKay, hip deep in the desk and strangely quiet as he listened to Peter and McKay talk about him. "So, what else?" Peter said. So far McKay was only repeating what he'd heard from Cadman; that Lorne was a great guy, but there were no clues to his continued existence on the Earthly plain.
"What else?" McKay said, looking surprised. "What else is there?"
"Any dark secrets? Hidden torments? Skeletons hiding in his closet? Anything?"
McKay scowled at him. "What kind of crazy novels are you reading? The Major didn't have any 'dark secrets!' he was just a nice guy." McKay looked at him again. "Why are you asking this stuff?"
"Great," Lorne muttered, "and my gravestone will read 'here lies a nice guy.' The end."
"Oh," Peter said, feeling strangely disappointed. He had been hoping the mystery would be easier to solve. He moved so that Lorne wasn't in his line of sight. "I was just curious," he said. "Everyone says he's so nice, and I was trying to figure out if it was true."
"It's true," McKay said without hesitation. "Hell, I don't even like the guy that much, but I trusted him with my life. You know," McKay said, eyeing Peter sharply, "it wouldn't do you any harm to take a page out of the Major's book. There's nothing wrong with being nice."
"Like you know what you're talking about." Peter said bitterly.
"Maybe it takes one to know one," McKay said, not unkindly. "Just think about it."
"Thanks, Dr. Phil," Peter spat, and fled back to his desk, stung more than he wanted to admit from McKay's words.
"McKay's right, you know," Lorne said quietly, leaning across Peter's desk. "It wouldn't kill you to be a bit nicer to people."
"Nice doesn't get you anywhere," Peter snapped.
Lorne grinned. "Seemed to work for me."
"Nice didn't get you anywhere but dead." Peter snarled at him.
Lorne narrowed his eyes. "At least I'm missed." And then he disappeared.
"Oh yeah, that was nice" Peter mumbled to himself, but it didn't make him feel any better.
Peter didn't see Lorne for the rest of the day, and Peter didn't talk to anyone else about the Major out of spite.
He was still angry by the time he left the lab, and debated grabbing his toothbrush and sleeping in his old room instead of risking another run-in with the ghost, but Lorne's bed was far too comfortable and he didn't feel like punishing himself. If Lorne appears, I just won't talk to him, he decided.
But Lorne was conspicuously absent, and it was really difficult for Peter to fall asleep.
At least I'm missed. Lorne had said, and in the quiet of Lorne's empty room, Peter couldn't help but wonder what it would be like if he were the one who had been mortally wounded.
Would anyone put my picture on the Wall? he mused, or cry when they spoke about me? Or even give a shit that I was dead?
The truth lodged like a stone in Peter's chest. No one would mourn him if he died, because no one knew him at all. He was sharp and harsh with everyone, a left-over reaction from his unhappy and empty childhood that, right at that moment, he wasn't sure he knew how to break.
"I could be nicer," he murmured into the dark, unsure of what that would look like. But even McKay, for all his gruffness and brutal honesty, had friends who cared for him. If McKay could do it, surely Peter could, as well?
I could be nicer, he thought. He cleared his throat. "I'm sorry we fought," he said to the empty room.
"It's okay," Lorne's voice drifted out of the darkness. "Now get some sleep."
Peter laughed softly and closed his eyes.
"Major Lorne?" Sgt. Stackhouse said, shovelling in a bite of something that looked like greenish spaghetti. "Best officer I ever had."
"Oh yes, definitely," Dr. Parrish agreed with a wave of his fork. "Well, not the best officer I mean, because, well, I'm not in the military. But best boss. He's definitely the best boss I've ever worked with. Or for. The best boss I've ever worked for," Parrish said finally.
Peter resisted the desire to roll his eyes. While it was gratifying to hear, once again, what a great guy Lorne was, none of these conversations were getting him any closer to the truth. According to everyone that Peter had spoken to, Lorne had no faults. He was kind, considerate, a total 'officer and a gentleman,' and apparently had no reason whatsoever for not having fully shuffled off the mortal coil. Peter forced himself to smile. "Anything else?"
Lorne was standing behind Stackhouse, clearly only half-listening to the conversation. He crossed his arms and huffed out a sigh. "Fantastic," he muttered.
"He was a great shot," Stackhouse said, around a mouthful of pasta, "and he could fly the jumpers like stink!"
"Even better," Lorne said sarcastically. "Now say that I bake a great pie and I'll ascend bodily into heaven."
"I think he was lonely," Parrish said quietly.
"What?" Peter and Lorne said at exactly the same time.
Stackhouse was looking hard at Parrish. "You don't know that."
"Yes Danny. I think I do." He turned back to Peter. "I don't know if anyone else thought this, but I always thought Evan was lonely. Like, as good friends as the four of us were, there was still something missing."
"He wasn't lonely," Stackhouse said decisively, glaring at Parrish, "he was just busy. That's all."
Parrish smiled at the younger man. "Loneliness isn't a crime, Danny. Everyone feels it sometimes."
"Yeah, well, he had us!" Stackhouse's expression was mulish.
"Yeah, I had you guys," Lorne echoed. He looked at Peter. "Why does he think I was lonely?"
"But we aren't everything he needs," Parrish said to Stackhouse.
"What about Teyla?" Stackhouse said. He turned to Peter. "The Major and Teyla hung out together all the time. I think they were dating." He said the last sentence directly to Parrish, who just shrugged in response.
"Yes, Teyla and Evan are good friends." Parrish's smile grew sad. "I should probably say 'were' good friends, shouldn't I?" he continued. "It's not like they've been able to talk in a while."
"Teyla," Evan said, thinking. Then his expression cleared. "I know her!" His eyes were shining, and wow, Peter was amazed at how much that hurt knowing it wasn't for him.
"Well, I got to get back to the lab," Peter said, standing quickly. All of a sudden he couldn't take the thought of even one more second talking about the Major and his love affair with the Pegasus Liaison. The man's dead. Peter reminded himself viciously, but it didn't help.
"Good luck finding what you're looking for," Parrish said. His eyes flicked across Stackhouse to rest briefly on Lorne before looking back to Peter. "And if you're talking to the Major, tell him I say 'hi.'"
"Sure," Peter said, frowning. It was on the tip of his tongue to ask Parrish if he knew Lorne was there, but then changed his mind. Parrish was probably just high from sniffing too much alien pollen.
He bussed his tray and started walking slowly towards the labs, his heart feeling like it was twisted in his chest. Lorne had been in love with Teyla! kept repeating in his mind over and over. She must be his unfinished business. Lorne probably needed to share one last, poignant goodbye before he could pass into the great beyond.
"So, you and Teyla, huh?" Peter said bitterly as he trudged along the corridor.
"What?" Lorne said, apparently having been deep in thought. "Me and Teyla? No."
"No?" Peter repeated, "but she's smart, and beautiful--why the hell not?"
"Because... because. No." Lorne said with a decisive shake of his head. "I wouldn't have dated Teyla."
"Oh," Peter said. The sudden joyful rush flowing through his body caught him off guard. And he really, really didn't want to think about that too hard. "So, no girlfriend?"
Lorne's mouth was a thin line. "No."
"So, Parrish was right, about you being lonely," Peter mused. He glanced at Lorne, whose expression had only become more closed. "I wonder if that's your unfinished business?"
"Loneliness?" Lorne scoffed. "Like David said, it's not a crime."
"No, but it might be enough to trap you here," Peter said, warming to the idea. "What if your unfinished business is to tell your crush that you love her before you disappear into the ether?"
"That's not it." Lorne's voice was nearly a growl.
Peter turned to look at him, slowing his steps. They were almost at the labs, and he wanted to finish the conversation before going inside. "How do you know?"
"I just do, okay?" Lorne said.
Peter shook his head. "No, not okay! This is the first suggestion I've had in days about what might actually be your ghostly purpose and you're completely dismissing it! How do you know that this isn't it?"
"Because there wasn't anyone I was crushing on!" Lorne snarled, "Because I'm gay! It would have ended my career if anyone even thought I played for the other team, let alone if I'd 'confessed my undying love!'" He threw up his hands. "Jesus, Kavanagh! Of course I was lonely, but nothing would have changed that when I was alive, so how the hell do you expect me to fix it now?"
Peter blinked. "Wow."
Lorne made a face. "Sorry that's not what you were expecting."
"Oh I don't care!" Peter said quickly, his heart starting to pound and for a fearful second he thought he might faint again until it settled into a more normal rhythm. He's gay! He's gay! Was singing over and over in his head like a cheerful chorus. "In fact, I'm fine with it. More than fine. It's great!"
Lorne was looking at him strangely. "'It's great,'" he repeated.
"Yeah!" Peter said. "Totally great!"
Lorne's confusion became more pronounced. "Are you having some kind of strange reaction to the green pasta?"
"No! I'm fine," Peter said, "it's just--I'm gay too!"
Lorne's eyes narrowed. "Bullshit."
Peter started. "What?"
Lorne started walking towards the labs. "Don't fucking humour me because I'm dead."
Peter had to jog a few steps to keep up. "I'm not humouring you! I am gay! Why else would I say it?"
"Because you feel sorry for me." Lorne spat. He kept walking.
"I don't feel sorry for you!" Peter said loudly. "Well, except for the dead part--"
"--You feel sorry for me, because you know how tough it is to be gay in the military, so you're trying to be supportive," Lorne cut in. "Stop trying."
"I'm not trying anything!" Peter nearly yelled.
Lorne stopped and turned to face Peter suddenly enough that Peter's shoulder slid slightly into Lorne's chest, making him shiver. "Look," Lorne said angrily, "I came to terms with being gay a long time ago. So I really don't need this--" He waved his hand, "misplaced sense of pity to make me feel better."
Peter crossed his arms. "You're an idiot."
"What?" Lorne said, crossing his arms as well.
"I said you're an idiot," Peter glared at him. "Do you really think that I would pretend to be gay to save your big dead feelings?" He snorted. "You must have been shot in the head; because I'm sure you weren't this stupid when you were alive."
Lorne made a small movement like he was going to say something, and then he laughed. "Yeah, you're right, I'm an idiot."
Peter found himself smiling. "Knowing is half the battle."
Lorne looked at Peter then looked away. "So, gay too, huh?"
"Yep," Peter said, "And I'm a 'Gold Star,' too."
Lorne laughed again. "Congratulations."
"I bet you've had sex with a couple of girls though," Peter said with a grin. "Football hero like you; probably had a reputation to protect."
"It was baseball, not football. But yeah, that's right," Lorne chuckled. "How'd you know?"
"You had to do something to make up for that queer artist thing," Peter smirked. "Plus, I'm a genius."
Lorne rolled his eyes. "So, genius," he said, emphasizing the words with air quotes. "What next?"
"I think," Peter mused for a second, "that we go find Teyla, and then we ask her which lucky guy you were panting after. And then we find this guy, and you tell him, and then you cross over into the next world."
"You think that's it, huh?" Lorne said on an exhale. He shrugged. "I don't remember 'panting' after anyone, but then again, I didn't remember my name until you told me."
"Teyla will know," Peter said with confidence, "and then you'll be able to finally rest in peace." Except that the idea felt like a stone in his stomach.
"Great," Lorne said, but he didn't look at Peter when he said it.
They started walking again. "So," Peter said, gesturing at the lab doorway. "You, uh, going to come in?"
"Yeah," Lorne said with a small smile. "I kinda like watching you work."
Peter smiled back. "I wish we'd met when you were alive."
"Yeah," Lorne said again. "Me too."
"Got it!" Peter felt his mouth stretch into a grin as he managed to send the electrical surge back towards the main power grid. He'd been working on that particular problem all afternoon, and it felt very satisfying to have finally wrestled it to the ground.
Lorne was standing just behind the perch Peter had chosen for himself that afternoon. It was a little off to the side of the main lab, and offered him some privacy from the other scientists. It meant that he and Lorne could talk quietly without drawing any attention.
"Good job!" Lorne said from over his shoulder, and Peter turned to smile at him.
Their eyes met, and Peter felt himself suck in a breath. The connection was strong and powerful, crackling like the electricity through the grid that Peter had just tamed. Only he didn't want to tame this feeling.
Only Lorne was dead.
"Peter--" Lorne said, putting his hand out as if to touch him.
Peter took a small step back, unwilling to shatter the illusion that he might feel the contact of Lorne's fingers if they were close enough.
Lorne dropped his hand. "I'm sorry," he whispered.
Peter nodded his head, knowing what Lorne was trying to say. I'm sorry I'm dead. "Me too." He said softly. It felt like his heart was chipping into pieces in his chest.
Peter turned back to his display, all the joy gone from his achievement. After his shift, he was going to talk to Teyla, and then Lorne would be gone.
"I saw the surge capture on my display," McKay said as he wandered over. He had a mug of coffee in one hand and some sort of Powerbar in the other. "That didn't take you as long as I thought it would."
Peter bristled at McKay's tone. He opened his mouth to make a biting retort; then slammed it down behind his teeth. He had made a promise to be nicer. "Thank you." He said instead, only choking slightly on the words.
McKay blinked. "You did a good job," he said. "And, uh, you're welcome."
Peter looked up at him. McKay looked wary, and almost shy, like he was worried Peter was going to bite his head off. "Thanks." Peter said again, and he smiled.
McKay blinked again. "Okay," he said, and turned to leave, then suddenly turned back. "I like this," he said, gesturing with his Powerbar in Peter's direction. "You being nice. It works. So," he paused, clearly at a loss. "Uh, carry on."
It was Peter's turn to blink. "Okay," he said.
"Good!" McKay said, and practically ran back to his laptop. "Get to work!" he shouted at Simpson as he passed.
Lorne was grinning at him. "You got a compliment from McKay," he said. "That never happens!"
"I'm a nice guy," Peter said with a shrug.
"I think so," Lorne said, and the energy pulsed between them again, more electric than before.
"Of course you do," Peter said lightly, trying to change the intense mood that had sprung up between them. "I'm the one helping you to stop raging against the dying of the light."
Lorne's smile fell. "Right," he said.
"Yeah," Peter said. He turned back to his computer, wishing he hadn't said anything at all.
Peter found Teyla in the training room after his shift at the lab.
He was gratified to see that the lights were dimmed as Teyla moved through the meditative motions of the stick fighting patterns. It was nice to see that his idea was working.
"Dr. Kavanagh," she said formally when she saw him, gracefully lowering her weapons. "Have you come to learn to fight with the rods?"
"No," Peter said quickly, "thank you for the offer," he added, remembering his vow to be nicer to people. She inclined her head in acknowledgement and he smiled, pleased. "Actually, I've come to ask you about Evan--Major Lorne."
"Ah," Teyla said. She gestured at the bench resting against one wall. "Come, sit."
Peter sat, and watched as she towelled off her neck and took a drink from her water bottle. She tilted her head to the side.
"Go ahead," Lorne whispered from behind his ear, "ask her so we can get this over with!"
Teyla was looking at him, clearly waiting for him to speak, and suddenly Peter was at loss for words. As soon as she answers, he'll have his unfinished business, and disappear, Peter thought, and the realization closed up his throat.
"There is something troubling you about Evan?" Teyla asked gently.
"Yes," Peter choked out. He swallowed down the lump, and took off his glasses, pretending to clean them while he fought to get his emotions under control. Lorne is dead! Peter admonished himself. It was fitting and proper that his soul would be able to pass through the veil, or go to heaven, or reincarnate, or whatever it was that happened after someone died. But Peter knew now that he cared about Lorne--cared a lot more than he should. And when he was finally and truly dead, Peter knew he'd be devastated.
"Hey," Lorne said softly by his ear. "If--if this is getting rough on you, it can wait."
Peter held up his hand. "No, I'm okay," he said to Lorne. He turned to Teyla, but found it was easier to look down at his feet. "I need to know who--who he was in love with when he was still alive."
Teyla took her hand away, sitting up straighter. Her eyes had grown huge. "What do you mean 'when he was still alive?' Has something happened to him?"
Peter gaped at her. "He's dead."
Teyla's mouth opened and closed. A sheen of tears appeared in her eyes. "When did this happen?"
Peter's mind was racing. Teyla was his best friend! he thought fiercely, why doesn't she know?</i> "Three months ago. He got shot off--world and died in the Gate room," Peter continued in the same cautious tone. "Didn't anyone tell you?"
Now it was Teyla's turn to look like Peter had lost his mind. "He survived that incident," Teyla said. "Who told you otherwise?"
"What?" Lorne shouted, "What thehell?"
"Cadman did." Peter said, glancing at Lorne, "and McKay--" But as soon as the words were out of his mouth, he realized that wasn't true. No one had actually said Lorne had died, just that he had been badly injured. Peter had assumed the worst from the description Cadman had given him and the fact that Lorne's ghost was following him around.
Teyla was shaking her head. "Cadman would not have said that."
"I'm not dead?" Lorne was still shouting. He was standing in front of Peter, a wild look in his eyes. "Then where the hell is my body? And why am I like this?"
Teyla's head snapped up. She looked right at Lorne. "Evan is here," she said. It wasn't a question.
"Can you see him?" Peter gasped at the same time Lorne said "Can you see me?"
"His spirit is here with you," Teyla said with certainty. She was looking in Lorne's direction; but obviously she couldn't see him. She put her hand out towards him. "Evan."
Lorne tried to grasp her hand, but his fingers passed right through her. "Damn!"
"He is upset," Teyla said. She turned to Peter, expression beseeching. "Can you speak to him?"
"Uh, yes. Yes I can," Peter said.
"Please tell him that he must return to his body," Teyla said. "The body cannot heal if the spirit has left it." She took Peter's hand. "Please."
"I can hear you, Teyla," Lorne whispered.
"He can hear you," Peter repeated.
"Tell her...tell her I miss her," Lorne said, and there was a crack in his voice.
"Take him to Carson," Teyla said. "Carson will help."
"I will," Peter said, standing. He squeezed her hand, "He misses you," he said.
Teyla smiled and turned her head towards Lorne. "I will see you soon." She said to the air.
"That's a promise," Lorne said. He turned to Peter, a wide smile splitting his face. "Take me to Carson!"
Peter ran to the infirmary, ignoring the strange looks people gave him as he dodged around them.
Lorne's alive! was the single thought going through his head, and he was desperate to reunite Lorne's soul with his body. He had no idea why the two had split apart, and up to five minutes ago, it never would have occurred to him that anything like that could happen. But this was the Pegasus Galaxy, where the Expedition's military commander had turned into a blue bug--man, so clearly anything was possible.
Several corridors later, Peter skidded into the infirmary, "I need Carson!" he shouted, "right now!"
"I'm here," Carson said, handing the file he had been holding to one of the nurses and coming straight over. He put a hand on Peter's shoulder. "Come sit down before you fall down, lad!" he said in his strong Scottish accent. "What's happened?"
Peter grabbed Carson's forearms, "I need to see Evan!"
Carson blinked. "Evan? Why?"
"It is literally a matter of life and death," Peter said, emphasizing every word. "Where is he?"
"In the back," Carson said, clearly completely stymied, "I'll go with you."
Carson led Peter to the far end of the infirmary and then down a short hallway. There was a drawn curtain around one end, and it was quiet enough that Peter could hear the beeps and whirrs of unseen equipment.
Carson held the curtain aside and gestured behind him. "He's in here."
"Thanks," Peter said absently, and walked in.
Evan Lorne was lying in the bed. Eyes closed, face pale with at least two days stubble on his chin. His mouth was covered by a soft white bandage that was holding the ventilator tube in place. He had an IV stuck in the back of one hand, and other tubes and wires running from the beeping and whirring machines to disappear under the bed linens, attached somewhere on Lorne's body. His hair was too long and he was far too still, like someone had put a life--sized doll in the bed in place of a real person.
"Oh my God," Peter breathed, moving closer. He turned to Carson, shock and wonder mixing in his voice. "He's alive."
"Aye," Carson said, "If you can call this living." He sighed and ran a hand through his short hair. "I wish I could tell you there's been some change recently, but..."
Peter went to the side of Lorne's bed and gently stroked a hand over Lorne's hair. The hair felt clean to the touch, and he smiled. Clearly Lorne was being well cared for.
"So, you knew the Major before you came to Atlantis, then?" Carson said, more of a statement than a question. "It must have been a shock when you heard what happened."
"What did happen?" Peter said, not taking his eyes off Lorne's motionless features. Not even his eyes moved beneath their lids. "I heard that he was injured off-world, but that's all."
"It happened about three months ago," Carson said tiredly. "His team was ambushed by the Bola Kai. They shot him with some kind of barbed arrow, attached with a long wire, like a fishhook. It hit him in the side and went deep, and then they started reeling him in, like a prize catch."
Peter felt like he was going to throw up. "Oh my God."
"Needless to say, his team prevented that from happening," Carson continued, clearly sickened by the memory. "But in the process, the arrow was torn out of the Major's side. It had gone deep enough to nick his liver." Carson paused and shook his head. "By the time they came back through the Gate, it looked like the four of them had been swimming in blood."
"But you saved him," Peter said, looking at Evan again. Except for the tube coming out of his mouth, and the collection of wires and tubes hanging around him, there was no indication that there had ever been anything wrong with him at all.
"Aye, if that's what you'd call this," Carson replied with a note of disgust. "He'd lost so much blood that he was nearly dead. Who knows how much oxygen was getting to his brain?" He made a purely Scottish noise. "So, we brought his body back, yes. But he's been like this ever since."
"How long has he been like this?" Peter said. He picked up Lorne's hand in his, feeling its solid weight beneath his fingers. It was limp and cool, like something newly dead.
"Since the incident," Carson said succinctly. "He's never woken up."
"It's been three months?" Peter breathed, thinking of Lorne wandering the corridors of Atlantis with no memory and no one to talk to, and how desperately lonely that must have been.
"And he's been here the whole time," Carson nodded. "Three months in a coma, nearly no brain waves to speak of, and Sheppard totally unwilling to let the man go home to his family, for them to make their goodbyes."
Peter whipped his head around. "He has a family?"
"A mother and a sister, and two wee nephews," Carson said. "Didn't he tell you that before?"
"We, uh, didn't know each other that long," Peter said quickly, but his mind was spinning.
"Well, the Major's going back to the SGC tomorrow," Carson said, "so his family can finally have their chance to say farewell. Sheppard didn't want to send him home," Carson continued, "I know he was hoping for a miracle. But the IOA decided it, and that's that." Carson's voice dropped to a murmur. "I wish we could've done more for the poor lad."
"Tomorrow?" Peter cried. "You're sending him home tomorrow? But he's not dead!"
Carson looked at him strangely. "Aye, I know that lad, but he's not getting better, either. The blood loss was just too much for his body to take."
"No, you don't understand!" Peter was all but yelling. "Evan's alive! He's alive and he's here now, his spirit...soul, whatever, is in the room with us! You've got to believe me!"
Carson straightened his shoulders. "Now Peter," he said, hands held out placatingly, "I know this has been a shock for you, but Evan is not alive. Not like you mean it. His brain--"
"No!" Peter said, and he was yelling now. "His spirit got separated from his body! He just needs to go back in or something!" He moved towards Carson and grabbed him by the lapels of his lab coat. "You can't send him back!"
"I can and I must!" Carson said, gripping Peter's wrists. "Now listen to me, man! Evan's brain was badly damaged by his blood loss. He can't recover from this! His family has already decided to discontinue life support, and tomorrow they'll have their chance to see him one last time. And no matter how much I, or you, or Sheppard or anyone else might want it otherwise, that's the way it is!"
Peter dropped his hands, feeling his heart lurching in his chest, the rhythm starting up its erratic pounding that always signalled a faint. "No," he said, weaving a little on his feet. "No. He's here. He's here, and I can show you..."
Carson's expression was full of worry. "Peter, I think you need to sit down."
"No," Peter repeated, brushing off his hands. He turned and surveyed the room, his heart pounding too fast in his chest. "Evan?" he said, black spots beginning to blur his vision. "Evan!"
"He's not here, lad," Carson said, gripping the front of his jacket.
"I can't see him," Peter whimpered, and then everything went black.
Peter woke to the wonderful sensation of spikes being driven through his temples. "Ow," he muttered, squinting against the light.
"Hey," Lorne said quietly. "You gave everyone quite a scare."
Peter blinked at him, then felt for his eyeglasses on the side table and slipped them on. The world came blessedly into focus. "Where were you?"
"I've been here all night," Lorne said. His hands were gripping the railings of Peter's beds, the palms of his hands half--way through the metal.
"No," Peter said, struggling to sit up. There was what seemed like hundreds of wires attached to his chest, which was bare, as were his feet. Someone had covered his legs with the awful scrub pants that passed for hospital garb in Atlantis, and Peter was thankful for small mercies.
"Careful!" Lorne said as he moved to help. His hand passed right through Peter's shoulder, making him shiver.
"Don't," Peter muttered, "its cold." He shuffled into a sitting position, and rubbed his face. His head was still pounding, and he felt dizzy and out of it, his heart stomping around in his chest like a one-footed monster.
"Sorry," Lorne's smile was sad. "I wish I could touch you."
"Me, too," Peter said, returning Lorne's smile. Then he frowned. "Where were you last night?"
Lorne blinked. "Here," he said again. "Like I said. I was with you here."
"No," Peter said, "before that. When I was with Carson."
"Oh, yeah," Lorne said, and rubbed the back of his neck. "I was there."
Peter made a face. "No, you weren't."
"I was," Lorne repeated, "I just wasn't in there, okay?"
"Not really," Peter frowned, "Carson didn't believe me. I kinda needed you there to help me out."
"How?" Lorne said, sounding both frustrated and puzzled. "He can't see me, remember?"
"Uh, yeah?" Peter snapped, "but it was your body in there. I was hoping that you'd just slide back into it, and we'd be done!"
Lorne was shaking his head. "I can't."
"What?" Peter said. "What do you mean--"
"Hello Peter," Carson said, pulling back the curtain around his bed. "How are you feeling?"
Peter tore his gaze away from Lorne. "Like a Wraith is trying to suck out my brain through my eyeballs."
"It's to be expected," Carson said with a sympathetic expression. "Your heart rate and blood pressure are all over the map, and the drugs we've given you tend to cause headaches. Hopefully we'll soon have it sorted, and you'll feel better." He put his hand on Peter's shoulder. "Can I get you something for the pain?"
Peter started to shake his head; then winced. "Yes, please."
"I'll ask the nurse to get you something," Carson said. He huffed out a breath. "And then, I was wondering if you'd like to go see Evan? We'll be sending him home in less than an hour."
Peter squeezed his eyes shut, feeling his heart slam in his chest. "Thank you," he whispered.
Carson patted his shoulder. "I'll ask Marie to get you a wheelchair," he said, and left, pulling the curtain closed behind him.
"I'm going home," Lorne said quietly. "I heard Carson tell you that last night."
Peter opened his eyes, feeling the hot press of tears. "You're going home to die!"
Lorne made a small motion with one shoulder. "I'm already dead Peter; my body just doesn't know it yet."
"No!" Peter cried, "No! It's not true! It can't be! Look, all you need to do is go to your body--"
Lorne took a step back, shaking his head violently. "No!" he cried. "No! I won't look at it! I can't!"
"Evan!" Peter said, hearing the note of pleading in his voice, "You have to! We have to get you back."
"I can't," Lorne said again. "It's--it's too much." He took a deep breath. "I don't expect you to understand, but I can't go look at it. It's like it's not mine anymore. It'd be like digging up my own grave."
"But your body is fine," Peter said, forcing a small laugh. "It looks great! Your hair's too long but--"
Lorne laughed. "You should talk," but then his expression grew serious. He closed his eyes for a moment, and when he opened them again, their light grey was almost dark blue with misery. "I'm sorry, Peter," he said softly, "but maybe it's for the best. I'll get to see my mother and my sister one last time, and then I'll go." He smiled and moved towards the edge of the bed. "Take care of yourself, okay?"
"Don't," Peter said. He reached to grab Lorne's arm, but only touched air.
"I have your medicine, Peter," the nurse said, coming around the side of the curtain. Peter turned to look at her, and then turned back.
"Evan!" he shouted.
But Evan was gone.
The nurse gave Peter something for the pain through his IV, and within minutes the pounding in his head had returned to tolerable levels.
"We're going to do some tests today," she had said while efficiently delivering the medication through his IV port, and then chattered on about what the tests were and what they were looking for, but Peter wasn't even pretending to listen.
"When is Evan being taken to the Gateroom?" Peter said, interrupting the nurse mid-sentence.
She stopped, and blinked at him. "I don't know," she said after a moment, "soon, I guess."
"Great," Peter said, and sat up, tearing the leads that connected him to the heart monitors off the electrodes stuck to his body.
"What are you doing?" The nurse shrieked, making a grab for him. "You can't do that!"
"Watch me," Peter snarled, and levered himself over the bed rails and out of the hospital bed, landing almost gracefully on his bare feet.
He tore open the curtain that had surrounded his bed, and took a second to orientate himself. The nurse was still shouting for him to stop, and now others in the infirmary were beginning to look over, clearly confused by the commotion.
Another nurse came towards him, hands held up. "Dr. Kavanagh," he said, "I can see that you're upset right now, but we really need you to get back into bed. Your heart--"
"Fuck off!" Peter shouted, and started running towards the end of the infirmary where Lorne's body had been kept, dodging around equipment and people as he moved.
Within seconds, he had reached the curtained area, and tore it back.
The room was empty.
"Shit!" he swore, looking full circle to see where they might have gone, but there was no sign of Lorne anywhere, neither ghost nor body.
But there were two security guards bearing down on Peter with steady determination.
"Dr. Kavanagh," the larger of the two said, his face set, "The nice medical staff here says it's really important for you to get back into bed and get your tests done."
"I know," Peter said, edging away from them. He could feel his heart rate increasing, and knew they were right. "And I will, but I've got something I need to do first."
"We're not asking," the second guard said. She was chewing gum and looked more bored than anything. "So, get back into bed before I have to do something to make you go there."
Peter felt his heart rate kick up a notch. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a secondary exit from the infirmary, and he angled his hips so that he was facing it. "No."
"Have it your way," she said, and rushed at him.
Peter twisted wildly, just escaping her grasp, and managed to push a tray table in front of her before dashing for the exit.
In an amazing feat of agility the guard jumped the tray and slammed into Peter, tackling him to the floor, the impact sang all the way from his shoulder to his wrist.
"Mehra!" The other guard admonished her, but Mehra didn't even hesitate as she wrestled Peter, and within seconds he found himself face-down, arms trapped behind him, with Mehra's weight pinning his hips to the ground.
"Gotcha!" she crowed.
"Get off him!" The other guard bellowed. He grabbed her shoulder and pulled her up. "Jesus Christ, Mehra, he's a patient!"
Mehra started arguing with the other guard, her grip on Peter's hands loosening, and he had his chance.
He pushed his hips and flipped, ending up on his back, with her gun securely in his hands, pointed straight at the two guards. "Get the fuck off me," he growled.
The guards backed up, hands in the air.
"You are so going down for this, Mehra," the first guard muttered.
"Shut up, Reed!" Mehra said, not taking her eyes of Peter.
Peter got to his feet, gun never wavering. "I'll give this back later," he said, and ran.
He didn't have a clue what the hell he was doing.
Peter ran towards the Gateroom, weapon in hand, feeling like a cross between The Fugitive and the biggest idiot in the City.
I'm dead when they catch me, Peter thought. He'd be arrested for sure when they caught him, and thrown in jail for the rest of his life. Or maybe he'd just be spaced out a convenient orbiting Stargate with a sad 'MIA' letter written for his uncaring relatives.
His photo wouldn't even make it to the Wall.
Peter grit his teeth at the thought. It didn't really matter what happened to him. The important part was that Lorne would have a chance to live.
Peter gripped the gun tighter, his mind made up. He would do anything to help reunite Lorne's soul with his body.
Of course, he really didn't know what that anything was, but he was a creative guy; he'd think of something.
And then he'd turned the corner and was in the Gateroom, and he didn't have much time for thinking at all.
The Gate had been sparked up, with its circle shimmering blue like the most perfect of impossible vertical oceans. In front of it stood Carson and Weir and Sheppard and Teyla and Lorne's team, all in suits or dress uniforms, ready to accompany the Major home.
And there, lying in the centre of the mournful half-circle was Lorne himself, still ventilated and wired, so motionless it was like he'd already died. They were clearly ready to step through, and then Lorne was going to die for real.
"No!" Peter cried, skidding to a halt nearly at the Gate.
"Peter," Carson said with a wan smile. "We were waiting for you lad..." his voice trailed off as he apparently took in Peter's appearance; half--naked, electrodes stuck to his torso and arms, and the gun in his hand. "Peter?" he said again.
"You can't take him through!" Peter said, running up to Carson. "He's still alive! If you take him, you'll kill him!"
"We've been through this before," Carson said gently, but his eyes were wary as he flicked his gaze to Peter's gun. "Now, why don't you just give me the weapon--"
"What do you mean, 'still alive?'" Sheppard said, moving closer. "Carson! I thought you said he was brain dead!"
"He is!" Carson said, "I'm not sure where Peter got this bampot notion--"
"It's because he's seen Lorne's ghost," Parrish interrupted, stepping forward. He looked at Peter. "That's right, isn't it? You've seen his ghost?"
"Yes," Peter said, turning to Parrish, "I have! I--I thought I was the only one."
"I have felt him too," Teyla said, also moving closer. "But I could not speak with him. How is it that you can?"
"I don't know," Peter said, "I just...do,"
Dr. Weir was looking around slowly. "Is he here now?" She turned to Carson. "Maybe we shouldn't be doing this?"
"No," Carson said, and he turned to the group. "Look, I know how hard this is on everyone," he said. "Trust me when I say it's been killing me every day for the last three months!" He gestured at Lorne's body. "But the man has no brain waves. There is nothing there!"
"But David says he can see his ghost," Stackhouse cut in. He looked at Sheppard. "Doesn't that mean he's dead?"
Sheppard shrugged. "Stranger things have happened than someone who's not dead having a ghost." He cocked his head at Peter. "Does this ghost say that he's alive?"
"Yes," Peter said, "yes, he does." His heart was pounding more fiercely than before, the ache of pressure starting in his chest.
"How do you know?" Cadman said, and there was such anguish in her voice that Peter actually winced. "I mean, how do you know that it's the Major, and not just a fantasy or, or, wishful thinking?"
"I--I just do," Peter said. Cadman's face fell, and he knew she wasn't convinced.
"Look," Carson said, taking a ragged breath. "Peter, I know you mean well, but this isn't helping anyone. The Major must go home, and we must say goodbye." He held out his hand. "So, please, just give me the gun. You're sick, and distraught, and I'm sure that Dr. Weir and Colonel Sheppard won't hold your actions against you, but this obsession of yours must end now."
Peter looked around the group. They were all waiting expectantly for him to give up the gun and back down; waiting for him to let Lorne take his final journey home. Lorne's ghost was nowhere in sight. He had left, just like he had promised that morning. There was no soul for him to save. He cleared his throat, barely trusting himself to speak. "Will you put his picture up on the Wall in a frame? He should have a frame."
"Of course, lad," Carson said, and Peter heard Cadman's broken sob somewhere behind him. He raised the gun to give it to Carson, his hand shook, his heart pounded in his ears.
And then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Lorne.
Peter whirled towards Lorne, ignoring Carson's surprised cry behind him. "Evan!" he howled. "Don't let them do this to you!"
Lorne raised his hands. "I'm just here to go through the Gate with--" he gestured towards the near--corpse on the stretcher, "--with that," he said. "There's nothing left."
"That's not true!" Peter screamed. He felt Carson's hands on him, and shook them off. "If you'd just go to your body--"
Lorne's eyes went hard. "No."
"Then you can come to mine," Peter said, and placed the barrel of the hand-gun to his temple.
The collective gasp was deafening, and then everyone started speaking at once, shouting and cajoling and yelling at him to put the gun down, but Lorne was the only one Peter was looking at.
"What are you doing?" Lorne demanded.
"The only thing I can," Peter said. His heart was a jackhammer in his chest, the heaviness building there until he was pressing against his sternum with his free hand. The black spots were beginning to swarm in towards him, his vision becoming fragmented, and he knew it was only a matter of moments before he passed out.
"Don't," Lorne said. "Don't, please, I'm not worth it."
"You're worth everything," Peter said, "and I can't just let you die. Go to your body, Evan," he begged. "Please."
"Okay," Lorne said, "okay, I will. Just -- just put the gun down and I'll go."
Peter shook his head, squinting against the blackness. His heart was going so fast that he felt like he couldn't catch any air. "You first."
"Okay," Lorne repeated, and Peter could just see Lorne's ghost approaching his still form on the stretcher. He put a hand out, and tentatively stroked his own face. "I feel warm," he said with wonder, and disappeared.
The gun slipped from Peter's hands as he was pulled into the blackness.
When Peter finally clawed his way into the light again, he promptly leaned over and threw up.
Luckily the nurse at his bedside was quick on the draw and put a kidney bowl underneath his chin to catch the refuse. "Easy," he said, patting Peter's shoulder. "The drugs you're on are probably making you nauseous. We'll get you something for that in a minute." He looked over his shoulder. "Carson! Peter's awake!"
"Thanks, son," Carson said, bustling over to Peter's bedside. Peter was lying back down on his pillow, feeling like twelve different kinds of shit. His mouth tasted awful, and there was a painful twinge in the middle of his chest, like a deep-set bruise.
Carson said something to the nurse who left with the full kidney bowl, then he peered down at Peter, worry in every line of his face. "How are you feeling lad?"
"Like shit," Peter said, voicing his thoughts. "My chest hurts."
"Yes, well, that's to be expected," Carson said, "Laura's very strong."
Peter felt his eyebrows draw down. "Laura?"
"Lieutenant Cadman," Carson said, and blushed. "She performed CPR on you in the Gateroom after your heart stopped."
Peter blinked. "I died?"
Carson shook his head, "Oh, no! You weren't anywhere close to dead. Now if we hadn't been with you, it might have been a different story..." At Peter's blank look, Carson continued. "You have a defective node in your heart. It makes your heart beat too fast when you're under stress, which means you don't get enough oxygen circulating in your blood, which means you pass out." He shook his head again. "It's amazing no one caught it before."
"I guess my life hasn't been that stressful," Peter quipped, struggling to sit up. His chest hurt like a bitch. "Did she break my ribs?"
Carson blushed again, "Only a couple." He gently helped Peter ease into a sitting position. "Better?"
Peter nodded, having an easier time looking around the infirmary now that he could sit up.
"We'll have to run a few more tests," Carson said, "to locate the aberrant node. And once we find it, we'll cauterize it, and you'll be right as rain. So for the next little--"
"Where's Evan?" Peter interrupted. He couldn't see any sign of the Major.
"Oh," Carson said. "Well, we sent him home, lad." His eyes were painfully sympathetic. "Don't you remember?"
"No," Peter spat, "I was lying on the floor with your girlfriend pounding on my chest!" And then Carson's words sunk in, and Peter felt all the blood drain from his face, "Evan went home?"
"Yes," Carson said simply. "It was the right thing to do."
"Of course," Peter murmured, sliding back down onto the bed. There was a sharp pain stabbing through his chest which he knew had nothing to do with his broken ribs. He closed his eyes and turned his face away. "I think I'd like to sleep for a bit."
"Good idea," Carson said, patting his shoulder briskly. "I'll come check on you in a little while."
Peter nodded, eyes closed. But he waited until he was sure Carson had left before he let the tears fall.
They kept Peter in the infirmary for a week.
Everyone complimented him on how quickly he was healing, and except for the lurid scar down the centre of his chest, and the fact that his ribs were still sore, none of the medical staff could believe he'd once had a life-threatening medical condition.
As for Peter, he smiled in all the right places, and answered all the questions as politely as he possibly could, and quietly marvelled that his heart had healed at all, when he was sure that the news of Evan's death had broken it beyond repair.
When he was finally discharged late one evening nearly eight days after he'd collapsed in the Gateroom, Peter took the long way back to his quarters, unwilling to pass by the Memorial Wall and see Evan's picture once again.
When he reached the corridor where his and Evan's rooms were, he paused, unsure where to go. They must have moved my stuff back, Peter thought to himself. It would have made sense if they had cleared out Evan's things by now. He squeezed his eyes shut against the flair of pain that thought caused, and entered his own room.
And as he thought, all his stuff had been brought back.
With a deep sigh, Peter took off his clothes, pulled on his sleep pants, brushed his teeth and climbed into bed. It was as small as he remembered, and barely as comfortable as his cot in the infirmary had been.
But even worse, there was nothing in the room to remind him of Evan at all. He was out his door in the next minute.
Peter waved his hand in front of the door sensor to Evan's room; then frowned when it refused to open. Makes sense, he decided after a moment, man's dead for real. Time to change the locks. He took a shuddering breath at the thought, then grimly set to work, taking only seconds to re-set the crystals so he could enter.
The door chimed softly and Peter stepped inside the darkened quarters. The curtains leading to the patio had been closed, so the room was plunged into shadows, dark enough that Peter could barely make out the shape of objects in the room.
He stood with his eyes closed, extending all his senses around him--for what he wasn't sure. Evan's ghost had been a spirit of the living, after all. There was no reason to think that it would actually exist now that Evan was truly dead.I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye, Peter thought, feeling a lump form in the back of his throat.
Something cold and hard was pressed none-too-gently into his temple, followed by an audible click. Peter's eyes flew open.
"Any sudden moves," Major Lorne said, "and I will blow your fucking head off."
"Evan?" Peter breathed; excitement and fear battling for supremacy in his chest. Absently, he realized that there was no light-headedness accompanying his increase in pulse, which was pretty cool considering he had a gun pressed to his head.
The lights blazed on, making Peter wince. "Ow."
"Peter?" Evan said, uncocking his gun. "Peter!"
And suddenly he was in Evan's arms, and Peter was holding onto him with every ounce of strength he had, nearly overwhelmed with the sensation of actually touching him, of being able to feel his arms around him; Evan's hands on his back. Peter buried his face in Evan's neck. "I thought you were dead." He could feel tears slipping down his face, wetting Evan's shoulder.
Evan shook his head. "No," he said, "No! I didn't die. It worked. Just like you said. When I touched my body, I just slipped back inside. And then I woke up. Just like that."
"Wow," Peter gasped. "It was really that easy?"
"Yeah," Evan said, and there was laughter in his voice. "I should've done it months ago."
Peter laughed, but it ended on a sob. "Carson said you went home. I thought you had died!"
"No," Evan said as he gripped Peter tighter. "I mean, they did send me home, but it was the next day, after Carson had seen my miraculous recovery and run about a million tests." Evan rubbed Peter's back. "Except for being really weak, I was fine, so they let me go home to see my mom and sister for a while. I came back through Midway late this afternoon."
"I thought you were dead." Peter muttered.
"Not dead," Evan laughed. "Tired though. That's why I was in bed." He gently untangled himself from Peter, and Peter stood back a few steps, drinking in the sight of the other man.
Evan was in scrub bottoms and nothing else. He looked thinner than his ghost had been, more pale as well, and his muscles were less defined, but he looked healthy and real and so alive and Peter knew he was grinning like an idiot but he couldn't care. He wiped his eyes with his fingers.
Evan's fingertips brushed the still healing scar on Peter's chest, fear evident in his dark grey eyes. "What the hell happened to you?"
"I nearly died in the Gateroom," Peter said, taking Evan's hand. "My heart."
"But...you're okay now?" Evan said. "Your heart's okay?"
"Better than it's ever been," Peter smiled, and he pulled Evan in for a kiss.