habilelapin: A sketch of Fifi Lapin in the rose dress, black and white (Default)
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Tomorrow the Dreamers

Chapter Two:



Evan was in bed.

Only it was wrong. It was really wrong.

Because Parrish was beside him.

“This isn't real.” He said out loud.

“How do you know that?” Parrish turned over, to face him, and he looked, god, he looked exactly like Evan had imagined he would. He couldn't resist the image, so he buried his face in Parrish's neck, warm skin that smelled like dirt and green things, and just a little bit like Evan's own aftershave, like he'd been close enough to get some on him. “You feel real to me.”

“Because you don't want me.” He confessed into the crux of his shoulder, and indulged in the dream, wrapping an arm around his waist, pulling him close.

“Why do you think that?”

“Because men like you don't want men like me.” It was the most honest he'd ever been with himself about the subject, and it hurt. He'd put it off with excuses, telling himself it wasn't the right time, it wasn't a good idea to push Sheppard's good will, anything that took away the thoughts that told him it was no good because Parrish would never stay. Maybe he'd let Evan have him, for a night, a month, but it would never be what Evan wanted.

This was what Evan wanted, more than anything. He wanted Parrish to stay the night, to wake up to him, to come home to him.

“Why are men like you different from men like me?”

He opened his eyes in the desert, in his uniform, his real uniform, with a gun. There were bodies around him, bleeding into the sands, flies buzzing around them, but not yet starting to smell.

“This is how I'm different.”

“Lorne, let's move!” It was Anderson, in front of him, and he jogged after him, towards the helicopter, their ride out. “Before their friends show up!” He hooked himself in beside Anderson, the rest of their boys already inside, ready to go, Pattins putting pressure on Roman's injury.

“You alright there?” Lorne asked. Roman said something in Spanish that was probably “Fuck off”, but Pattins nodded over him.

“He's just whining, bitch is fine.” Roman swore again in Spanish.

“Shut up and stop swearing.” Lorne ordered, leaning back a bit so that he could look out, onto the unchanging landscape. It said a lot about him that he found this place beautiful, in its own unique way. He'd grown up by the ocean, and never in his life had he seen anything like this place. It was like a storybook, Arabian Nights or something.

“Lorne, careful there.” Anderson was looking at him funny, so he pulled himself forward a bit. Everyone had been a little on edge since last week, and him acting reckless was not going to help anything. Fuck, he still couldn't believe that Malavo had done it, outside his tent of all places, where people could hear him. How desperate did you have to be, he wondered, to eat your own gun? How had he not seen it coming? It was his job to keep these guys safe, and he hadn't even seen Malavo falling apart.

“You couldn't stop it from happening.” Anderson broke into his thoughts in an unfamiliar way. He was normally quieter about this kind of shit, waiting for you to come to him. “He had things going on that you had no idea about. Divorce right before his tour, the ex not letting him talk to his kids. Then all this? It was a wonder he lasted as long as he did.”

“That's not true!” Lorne shouted, the hum of the helicopter somehow lower than it should have been. “That's not what happened! I had training for this, I know how it happens. You have one bad day you think you can get through, but if I had seen it, if I had stopped him, he wouldn't have tried again. Most don't!”

“Does that make you feel better? To think that if you could have saved him, he would have stayed saved? This is war. He could have been blown out of the sky the next day. You have no control over events like that. You're just one man.”

“I'm the CO, I have to be more than that! I have to be! If I'm not, then everything goes to hell!”

“Why though? Most CO's, they don't think like that. They don't care. Why are you different?”

“Because I actually believe in this! I'm part of something greater, something way more important than me! I have to be the better than any man, or I'm not doing my job!”

“Is that why SGC recruited you?”

It was the hallway, the one that smelled like antibacterial soap, with just chairs and white walls. Lorne breathed hard for a minute, and squeezed his eyes shut. He remembered this, remembered walking down this hallway with some aide, being told to wait. But he also remembered the helicopter, and Anderson, and a conversation that had a tinge of wrongness to it.

“Captain Evan Lorne?” He stood and saluted to the officer who had entered, a blonde woman he didn't recognize. She saluted back almost absentmindedly, with a pleasant smile. “I'm Lieutenant Colonel Carter, I'll be in charge of you here.”

“I'm sorry ma'am, in charge of me?”

“This area is very high-security. You'll require an escort at all times, until we make a decision. That will be me. Now, if you'll just follow me,” She gestured towards the door at the end of the hall, and he followed dutifully, confused, but curious. “Tell me Captain, what have you been told about this program?”

“Um,” He struggled for footing, not wanting to sound like a braggart, especially not in front of this woman. She had an air of unimpressed. “I was trained to be a pilot ma'am, but I also have leadership experience, and quite a bit of field experience. I was told my record spoke for itself. They thought this could be a good fit for me, and I was interested. I admit though, I'm a little lost. What exactly is this program?”

“You seem like a smart man Captain. So I have a question for you.” She turned around, with a smile on her face.

“Yes ma'am?”

“Have you ever once considered Captain, that there might be something more out there?” Lorne almost bit his lip, an old nervous gesture, but he stopped himself, and mulled the thought over.

“Seems possible ma'am.” Her smile grew wider, and she gestured for him to come along, through some doors, into a hangar, where a giant stone circle sat on a ramp. And just like that, Lorne's whole life changed.

“You were excited.” Carter had turned to him, her smile changed, less warm, more clinical. “Thrilled even. Why?”

“Every kid wants to meet aliens.” He strolled towards the 'gate, remembering the briefings, the endless non-disclosure agreements, the ones that threatened charges of treason if he ever breathed a word about SGC, and how he signed every single one eagerly, barely skimming them. To go to alien worlds, to just go anywhere else, it was a breath-taking idea, and he'd never wanted anything so bad.

“But you have a family, don't you?” She asked.

“My parents, my sisters. My nephews.” He shrugged, unconcerned. “I told them I was getting the opportunity of a lifetime. They understood, mostly.”

“Denial.”

“What?” He turned to her, an odd feeling between his shoulder blades. “What did you say?”

“Denial. Self-denial. Your mother barely understood at all. And then they offered you Atlantis.”

Atlantis.

The word rang a bell, an important one, and the itchy feeling increased. Atlantis was home, he loved it, had loved everything about the idea, and had gone easily, without a care in the world.

Right?

“I just don't understand!” Carter had become his mother, small and dark-haired, beautiful normally, but not now, with red-rimmed eyes and a twist of grief in her mouth.

“Mom, it's the opportunity of a lifetime!” He protested, the excitement thrumming through his veins. He was so eager to share, so eager to make her see, but she just couldn't.

“You said this last assignment was the opportunity of a lifetime! I barely see you now!” The kitchen was full of grey, gloomy light from the overcast sky, leaving a longing in his heart for sunshine. It was almost always overcast in San Francisco, but his mother loved it, loved the rain and the softness of the sky. “Please, turn this down. I want you to request a normal assignment, one that lets you call me, lets you talk about your job. For God's sake Evan, I don't even know what you do!”

“We talked about this.” He sighed, and rubbed his hand through his hair. “My job has very high clearance. I can't even tell you where I work, much less anything about what I do.” She shook her head stubbornly, refusing to see his point.

“I just can't believe you're happy somewhere so far away from us, and so alone. How will you ever settle down, have a relationship, have children, if you can't even talk about your day? How is that a life? You are wasting away out there, doing whatever it is you do, and don't think I don't know it's dangerous.” She slammed her hand down on the table suddenly, a loud smack that had to have stung her palm. “I am your mother Evan, and I am asking you not to do this.”

He looked at the tablecloth for a long minute, frustrated, unbelievably frustrated with her, that she couldn't see that what he was doing was important, world-changing. How would he ever have a relationship with someone who couldn't imagine anything beyond the world they lived on? How could he ever have a normal duty assignment again, after SGC? And now they were offering him a post on Atlantis, as the 2IC.

“Can't you see it my way?” She cajoled. “Can't you see why I think you should stay?”

“I'll think about it.” Her face relaxed, and she smiled at him, before standing and walking to the counter.

“I'll start dinner. Your sisters are coming over tonight. Maybe you could ask to be assigned here, or nearby. You know, your sister was telling me about a friend of hers, sweet girl, she's a teacher. You and her could maybe get together while you're here on leave. You never know.” Just like that, his mother had left reality, off in her own world of perfection, where her son never went to war and wanted to marry a woman.

He sat quietly at the table and didn't argue with her, because after thirty-odd years of life, half of which had been spent telling her what she didn't want to hear, he'd given up.

He ended up going for a walk, a long one, down the streets he'd grown up on and knew so well, or at least thought he did. Shops had changed, a lot of them, and he ended up lost. He eventually found a supply store, and wandered in. Before he could stop himself, he'd bought charcoal, vine and pressed, pencils, erasers, tons of erasers, a dozen sharpeners, pastels, brushes, inks, and paints, along with twelve sketchbooks, the hardback kind. Just because he could. SGC pay was good, and he hadn't touched his savings once in five years.

Back at the house, he packed away the items carefully, and wondered about what he could draw in Atlantis. He'd never seen so much as a picture, but he couldn't imagine the Ancients living somewhere ugly. No, Atlantis had to be beautiful. And even if it wasn't, they'd told him it was a floating city, in the middle of a vast ocean, and he's always love drawing the water.

His mother had cooked a full meal to welcome him home, and was dropping hints about Ashley's friend before they'd gotten to coffee. Ashley shot him a puzzled look, but he shook his head in response. Best to let his mom keep her delusions.

After dinner, Ashley found him outside, followed by Jessica.

“So, where are you going next?” She asked. She didn't sound happy, but she didn't sound angry either.

“Farther than ever.” He confided. “I won't be in much contact. And it's dangerous.” They both nodded.

“Mom thinks you're going to come here and marry Arwen and give her more grandchildren.” Jessica told him, her hip resting against the railing.

“I'm sorry, Arwen?” She rolled her eyes and gestured at Ashley as if to say Her friend, not mine, but Ashley just shrugged. His sisters, identical to the fingernails, suddenly turned serious on him, a matched set of disapproving expressions. “What is it?”

“You're going to have to tell her Evan.”

“Make me.”

Evan.”

“I know. I know. It's just...you know how she is. I just can't do it.”

“So you just left. You sent her a letter. You know it had to have devastated her, but you did it anyway. Why?” He was pretty sure it was Jessica who had asked, but it was easy to get them confused, especially in the dark. “Was it selfishness?”

“A little bit.” San Francisco air was so different from Atlantis. Atlantis, all you could taste was the salt of the ocean and the tang of metal. Here, there was too much going on. And the stars, the stars here were nothing compared to home.

“Atlantis is home now? Isn't this your home though, where your family is?”

“There are different definitions of family, and home. My team is my family, and home is where the Air Force sends me. No place has ever felt like Atlantis. It's everything now. I'd die for it.” Ashley leaned into his view, dark hair swinging free over her shoulders.

“There's many things a man like you would die for, isn't there?”

“Not really.” He refuted. “I say I'll die for whatever the Air Force wants me to die for, but that's not so true anymore. I'll die for Atlantis, and for our people. I'll die for my team.”

“The doctor especially.” Ashley was looking at him an a strange way, and an oddly familiar tingling started between his shoulder blades. “The depth of feeling you have for him is extraordinary. How do you keep it hidden from him? How can he not feel it every time you two speak?”

“Parrish deserves a better man, I know that. But I can't stand the thought of losing him. If he sees, if he ever suspected, it would ruin everything. I need him. He's everything I ever wanted in a man, and I can't risk it.”

“Why not?” It was Jessica this time, a gentle hand against his back. “Why can't you tell him?”

“Because I can't.” He whispered. “I can't ask him to make that commitment. I'm an airman, in a war. I could die any day, and I can't ask him to sit around and wait for that day. It would break him.”

“What else?” Ashley's eyes were on his face, forcing him to meet them. “What else is holding you back?”

“I kill people.” He confessed, to them, to the street lamps, to the damp night air. “And I'm good at it.”

“You think you are tainted.” He couldn't even be sure which twin was which right now, and he didn't even care. He'd missed them so much, the sisters he'd annoyed every day until the day came when they were the only ones he could confide in. A distant father, a mother who refused to face reality. It was just the three of them, closely knit and fiercely protective of each other.

“Yeah.”

“And because of this you don't deserve love?”

“Yeah.” He repeated dully, feeling stripped raw. He couldn't ever remember his sisters being so stubborn about questioning him, or his choices.

“Doesn't your team care for you?”

“Well, yeah, but, it's different. That's just how teams work.” He leaned down on his elbows on the porch railing. “I wish you could meet them. You'd like Reed, and everyone likes Parrish. Coughlin is a bit harder to know.”

“Yes, but he is full of hidden depths.”

“Yeah, he...” He stood up straight, the feeling in his spine suddenly making sense. He backed away from his sisters slowly, standing up straight. They watched him with curious gazes, stances relaxed, casual. “You've never met Coughlin. Or my team. I've never told you anything about where I am. Especially not the name. So how did you know I was in Atlantis?”

His sisters, or whatever it was wearing their face, said nothing.
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habilelapin: A sketch of Fifi Lapin in the rose dress, black and white (Default)
habilelapin

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