Rating: PG-13 (no violence, but kind of dark themes)
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Warnings: since it's part of the timeline part of "The Last Man", there's character death
Pairings: mainly Lorne/Cadman
Spoilers: mostly "The Last Man", but just to be sure, all Seasons up to Season Four
Summary: Revisting TLM-Timeline!Lorne from "The faith that cleans your wound", this time two years after returning to the Milky Way and burying his wife, a certain Captain Laura Cadman.
A/N: Seems like the Evan Lorne that became a General in "The Last Man" just won't leave me alone. And after I told you about his part in letting Rodney through the 'Gate, he obviously wanted me to tell you how things were when certain wounds were still not healed. So... there you go.
BTW, the translation for the lyrics used this time (because they are in German) is at the bottom of the story, behind the cut, for everyone who's interested in it.
„Und dann stehst du da
Und dann denkst du nach
Und plötzlich wird dir klar
Es war schon wieder ein Jahr.
Zwei Sommer ohne sie
Sind wie ein Lied ohne Melodie
Die Sonne scheint, die Blumen blühen,
doch ohne sie…“
He’d never wanted to bury her here, so far away from everything she’d loved, so far away from him, but they hadn’t left him any chance. It had been their way of reminding him that marrying her had been an act that, had it taken place anywhere else than in Atlantis, would have had resulted in both their dishonourable discharge. Their way of reminding him that if it hadn’t been for their benevolence, he wouldn’t be still wearing the uniform.
And he feels like wearing the uniform is the only thing holding him together nowadays. It’s unfair to a lot of people and he knows it. He knows it’s unfair to his family, his new team at the SGC, the few Atlantis friends he still has left… but that’s just how it feels. If he didn’t have his posting at the SGC, his routine, his off-world missions… he’d simply fall apart, he’s sure of that. The strict military protocol belonging to the uniform is the only thing creating a wall – however flimsy it is – against the raw pain fully overwhelming him.
So here he stands in his Dress Blues – Laura would have loved seeing them – on the green fields of Arlington, dotted with white headstones, with a soft summer breeze wafting through the air and the scent of the nearby forest accompanying it, and the only thing he feels is regret.
Not regret for marrying her – he will never regret that – but for all the things he’ll forever miss out on. Nights on Atlantis with her, with the lights and the two moons and exotic star constellations, summers in San Francisco, winters in Chicago… having a family with her, seeing their children growing up, retiring with her… would it have been different, if she’d shipped out before him, when she had had the chance to do so? Would it have been different if they’d gone through the proper channels, waiting for one of them to be reassigned another posting and taken their time with marrying?
He rubs his hand over his eyes. She wouldn’t want him to play “Coulda, woulda, shoulda”. With a sigh he crouches down in front of her headstone. “I know you’d never believe me but you know what? They’re promoting me today. You’d be proud, I know, but I’m pretty sure you’d never stop teasing me.” And by God, yes, she would. She’d say to him that they were just promoting him because there was no way around it, with him being a war hero and everything or maybe because he’s got friends in high places he’s never bothered to introduce her to… He takes a deep shaky breath. “God, Laura, I miss you.” He squeezes his eyes shut and tells himself that the wetness in his eyes is only because he must be allergic to something flying around here.
He suddenly remembers walking up to her family’s home in the suburbs of Chicago, alongside the lake, on a summer day just like this… well, with slightly more wind. It had taken him a lot of hassling, but he’d managed to wrestle the permission from the brass to be the one telling Laura’s family about what had happened rather than some anonymous SGC representative. And so he’d flown to Chicago, with no idea how to break it to them that their daughter had died in some place far away, in a war he wasn’t allowed to speak to them about. He knew she hadn’t been able to tell her parents that she’d married, simply because there had been no possibility for it.
So when he’d stood in front of her family’s door, in civvies and with too much pain to speak about it in his heart, he’d felt like breaking down from everything he’d been carrying around ever since Jennifer Keller giving him Laura’s dog tags and his life crumbling to pieces right in front of him. Then her mother had opened the door, and all he could say had been “I’m sorry, Mrs. Cadman.” The look on her face had effectively robbed him of everything else to say, but that had been okay because ever since Laura’s death he’d felt speechless anyway.
In the end the visit had taken him over a day, and he still doesn’t quite remember how he had managed to tell her parents that he hadn’t been only Laura’s superior but, much more important, her husband as well. At first they’d been simply at a loss for words, then there had come the incomprehension, after that… the reproaches… but in the end, very slowly and tentatively, the acceptance that their daughter had married without telling them. He’d found it very hard to express that he hadn’t ask her to marry him out of some war-sparked whim, but because he genuinely loved her and would have done so anyway, but – and that had surprised him – her mother had understood him nevertheless.
He takes another shaky breath. “Two years, Laura. Two years and I still miss you like hell.” He wants to say so much more. Come back to me., he wants to say. Forgive me for not urging you hard enough to ship out before the attack., is another thing that comes to his mind. Make the pain go away., is what he wants to beg of her… or scream it at Fate, God, Michael… whoever he can blame for all of this.
And he wants someone to stop this questions that still keep coming at him in every possible and impossible moment. Would anything of this had happened if Sheppard hadn’t disappeared? Would anything of this had happened if he’d never acted on his feelings for Laura? Would… A small hand on his shoulder cuts his train of thought short. For a short insane moment he thinks that out of some intergalactic time-changing miracle the universe has granted him his wish of Laura returning to him, but then his mind kicks him and tells him that it’s Anna, his sister who lives in D.C. with her family and wants to celebrate his impending promotion to Lieutenant Colonel with him.
The hand is withdrawn as soon as she has made her presence known – ever since returning to Earth he’s become averse to every close bodily contact, even with family members – and he stands up. He doesn’t turn around to face her, though. The look of sympathy mixed with slight disapproval on her face is something he already knows anyway. And so he’s not surprised when she says: “You need to let her go, Evan. You need to forgive yourself.”
They’ve had this talk over and over again ever since his first visit to his parents after returning from the Pegasus Galaxy. And just like always, there’s only one thing he can answer: “No, Anna. I’ll never let her go, and I will never forgive myself. She was my wife. She deserves that much.”
Usually, that’s already the point where his sister – the only one in his family able to pry it from him that he’d married and become a widower in only the space of a few months – gives up and changes the subject, but obviously today something has compelled her to stay on the subject. “What she deserves, Evan, is peace. And it’s what you deserve as well.” She is his sister, she has to think this way. But just for once she doesn’t understand him.
She doesn’t understand the mix of guilt, pain, regret and the insane fear to forget Laura and what she means to him, even though she’d been patient and persistent enough to make him tell her everything about Laura – how they met, how the fell in love, how she died. At least everything he could tell her without compromising the SGC, that is.
He takes a deep breath of Virginia summer air, this time a little steadier than the last two. “Peace, Anna… peace was wherever she was.” Now he finally turns around. “How am I supposed to be at peace when she’s gone?” For a moment, his sister just stands there, oddly looking out of place in her flowing summer dress, but then she takes a step towards him and does something he hasn’t allowed anyone to do for two years: She hugs him, fiercely.
His first impulse is to draw back, but she just won’t let him go – just like she still refuses to let him withdraw completely behind his walls of work and uniform – and so he leans in and hugs her back. In a voice thick with emotion, she urges him: “Let her go, Evan. Don’t forget her, just let her go.” With that, his sister draws back from him, and it dawns on him that he was wrong. Anna does understand him, maybe even better than he understands himself. He swallows.
“I’ll try.” At that, she gives him a little smile, as if to say “Fine by me… for the time being.”
What she does say, is: “Just don’t try it alone. Now, come on, the boys are already waiting to see their uncle getting promoted. And Charlie wants to talk to you about some work-related stuff.” He knows that this means his time here is up for today – being an Air Force wife and the mother of two sons, his sister has learned to deal with stubborn males – so he straightens his Dress Blues and simply follows her, after one last look at Laura’s grave and a silent goodbye.
But just as they reach the edge of the cemetery, an impulse makes him stop and half-turn around for one last time. There they are again… the endless rows of white headstones, with the wind blowing over them… and suddenly he hears it… a faint sound, like laughter. Like Laura’s laughter. In that moment he just knows that a part of his heart will always be lost to her, always will be feeling incomplete without her – like a song without a melody – but that he hopes to be, in time, able to let her rest in the peace she deserves.
"And then you’re standing there
And then you’re starting to think
And suddenly you realize
Another year has gone by.
Two summers without her
Are like a song without a melody
The sun is shining, the flowers are in bloom,
But without her…"
TBC in You And I Will Meet Again