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Title: Defining Moments: Never Gonna Say Again
Fandom: Stargate
Rating: K+
Genres: Drama
Summary: Again, TLM!Lorne is back, telling us about the moment he realized something fundamental about himself, eight years after his wife's death.
A/N:Gah. If anyone remembers the Defining Moments, you probably also remember that I said All of my Heart would be the last. Obviously, it isn't (this, by the way, isn't the last one, either, just to give you a heads up). Anyway, this takes place a few days before All of my Heart, and [ profile] mackenziesmomma said she had to *censored because I'd get disbetaed if I wrote this* at this, so I guess this is not exactly a happy story. Not that this is the fact with any of the Defining Moments, but I thought I'd give you a fair warning.

And as always: Not a native speaker, so please excuse any weird grammatical constructions, run-ons and typos. Feedback will earn you a cookie, flames will roast my marshmellows.

PS.: Wherever did the options for text alignment go???

Never Gonna Say Again
“Now I'm dancing with a broken heart
Ain't no doctor who can make it start
These are the words that I'm never gonna say again.”
James Blunt, “These are the Words”
Whoever just rang on his door will have to go home empty-handed. It’s his sole day off this week and he’s not in the mood to see anyone, not even…not even his current girlfriend, Christine. It’s been a bad week for his team so far and he needs nothing more than a couple of hours alone on his roof terrace with a book and just the sky above him. Ever since leaving Atlantis… there are those days when he can’t bear walls around him and a roof over his head, time and again.
However, there’s another ringing keeping him from picking up his stuff and simply heading up the stairs and despite knowing better, he sighs and puts down the book and the beer at the third ring and kind of drags himself to the door. After all, he knows there’s no such thing as privacy or spare time for a Lieutenant Colonel at the SGC.
Then he opens the door and… regrets it immediately. Okay, and that… immediately makes him feel guilty. The person in front of him… is Christine. She’s… smiling at him, a tray with some cupcakes in her hand and a look of pleasant anticipation on her face. And the only thing he feels is… annoyance. Not a good thing, he knows that, so he tries to ignore it.
When he doesn’t say anything, Christine takes it upon herself to kick off a conversation, “So, I just realized we’ve been going steady for almost a year now and… you never asked me to your home. I thought I really should change that.”
His first reaction is an inward groan. Why… why did she have to do that, he wonders, getting more annoyed by the minute. It was going so well between them. Nice, casual, calm. No dramatics, or at least none mentionable. They’re both in their forties, have had a couple of relationships… Christine is divorced from a soldier so she knew what she was getting herself into and hey, they really got along well. And now she ruined it all.
“Well… aren’t you going to ask me in?” No, he wants to answer her but she doesn’t even wait, just brushes past him into the living room, over to the kitchen counter. Resolutely, she puts down the cupcakes on the counter and moves to look for… something in his kitchen. As if she’s been here a dozen times before.
It finally shakes him up enough that he can at least mutter a little lamely, “Christine…”
“What?” She looks up, somehow reminding him of Laura with that absolutely undisturbed look on her face and suddenly, for the first time ever since he has known her, it bothers him immensely to see something of Laura in her. It never did before because he always knew that she had a few personality traits that Laura also had had but he always knew that she wasn’t like Laura. But right now… for some reason, he can’t stand to see it.
He moves his fingers, tries to find the right words… and ends up with, “I don’t think this was a good idea.”
That… was apparently not the right thing to say because she looks kind of confused… and irritated. “Evan… we’ve been together for almost a year now. Yes, I do think that it was a good idea to come by… since you never invited me.”
Well, he wants to spit, there was a reason for that but… he realizes that it’s probably not the best idea. Resisting the temptation to rub his neck and look away from her so she doesn’t see the guilt flaring up – because, after all, she’s right with her accusations – he says, “That’s… you’re… you’re right. Of course you’re right.” She seems to relax a little and so he adds, “It’s just that… it’s not… a good day. For me.”
She crosses her arms in front of her chest. “I… can see that. But lately… it’s never been a good day for you. What’s going on, Evan?” Well, the thing is, his team got run over by a tank, quite literally, just two days ago and now his sniper is on convalescent leave for at least two weeks, among other things. But the thing also is that the SGC still isn't public and after the fiasco in Atlantis will probably never be and well, a social worker employed by the city council of Colorado Springs just doesn’t have enough security clearance for even taking that last exit before the Mountain.
He shakes his head. “Christine, you know that I can’t…”
“Can’t or won’t, Evan?” Well, that’s a good question… but apparently, it was just rhetorical  because she also shakes her head… and then stops, looking as if she’s looking right through him. She rounds the counter, comes walking over to him… past him… up to the fireplace. All of a sudden… the sketch he made of Laura is in her hand. Almost accusingly she holds it up and looks at him. “Who’s that?” For a moment, the question makes him speechless. Actually, it chokes him up and ties his tongue into tight little knots.
Then, the only thing he can utter in a raspy whisper is, “My wife.”
Christine is silent for a moment and he can see it working in her head. Then, “What the hell? You’re married? And you never actually had the guts to tell me? What kind of officer are you? One of those guys leading a double or a triple life, one girl on every base, so that he…”
“I’m widowed, Christine,” it quietly slips from his lips and it shuts her up pretty effectively. That is, until she starts talking again and all of a sudden… everything about her is grating on his nerves, even though he knows it’s unfair.
“You never talk about her,” she says, her brows knitted in confusion. “I mean, where did you…” now she picks up the picture of Laura in her Class A’s, “She was a soldier?”
Feeling the muscles in the back of his neck tense, he nods a little stiffly. “A Marine. We served together.”
Christine puts the picture away, takes up the one that shows Laura laughing on one of he beaches on the mainland back when things weren’t half as bad as they’d become in the end. She takes a short look at the picture, frowns, then asks with a slightly sarcastic undertone, “In that highly secret hush-hush thing you never talk about either?”
Yes, he wants to say, that’s where I served with Laura. That’s where I lost her and could you please stop touching her pictures because I can’t stand the sight of you looking at her like the stranger she is to you? That’s what he wants to say, so when he sees Christine reaching for the wedding picture all he manages is a simple, controlled, “I think it’s better if you leave now.”
“But I just want to…” He shakes his head.
“I don’t, Christine.” Her hand freezes mid-air and she turns to him again, looking… hurt and he really does feel sorry for her but he feels a lot of bad stuff coming up again and protecting himself… and Laura… is all that matters right now, and yes, he also kind of feels ashamed for that.
Then she can shake the hurt off it seems and actually rolls her eyes. But she doesn’t touch any of the pictures again. For now. “Oh come on, that was what… eight years ago? You can’t seriously…”
“Yes, I can.” Because he’s starting to get angry. Doesn’t she see it? “And I will. Please just go.”  
Something… in his tone that’s almost pleading because he really isn't sure for how much longer he can take all this – her in his home, the fact that a neatly built house of neatly wrapped up little lies just got some major cracks in its wall, the whirlwind of guilt and shame when realizing that all his efforts to make it work with Christine were in vain – seems to finally make her see that he’s not in the shape to discuss things right here and now. Slowly she nods. “Alright. I’ll… I’ll call you?”
He struggles to take a deep breath and shake his head again, feeling himself relax a little at the realization that Christine just agreed to leave. Trying to soften his voice, to make it sound less stinging, he says, “No, I’ll call you.”
For a moment, there’s hope in Christine’s eyes that maybe this was just a minor set-back and that after a few bumps in the road they’ll get back on course… but he can see the exact moment she realizes that no… they both probably have neither the strength nor the will to get over any obstacles in their way together. She starts to say something but ends it with, “Oh. Oh, okay. Well… uh… I’ll just…”
He nods, forces his legs to move to make the effort to see her out. He wants to reach out and politely open the door for her but she does so herself, walks out… and turns around again, trying a little smile. “I’ll… we’ll…” the little smile turns into a sad little smile and it looks a little like she knew something like this could happen, “I really liked you, Evan.”
For some reason… for a moment… he feels relief. Because he can see that “like” is not another word for “love” for her. She really did mean that she liked him. It’s feels a little unfair to be relieved about it… but he’s also relieved about being able to say the truth when telling her, “Yeah, I liked you, too,” with a sad little smile of his own. He really did. Still does, actually, despite everything. Which is why he says, “I’m… sorry, Christine. For… everything.”
He hopes she sees that he’s honest about it, that he really is sorry it didn’t work out, for a myriad of reasons… only now realizing that… this… was a break-up. It seems she realized it, too and he can see the hurt in her face again when she replies, “Yeah, I’m sorry, too, Evan.”
For a very short moment, he wants to take back everything, tell her he didn’t mean it and that they can talk about everything, work their way through this… but his gaze falls on his left ring finger that looks so empty, did so ever since he took off his ring shortly before meeting Christine on one of the school visits his team sometimes does and then on the woman who was supposed to be a new start for him… and he finally realizes and accepts that the experiment went wrong and that it’s better for both of them if they stop it right fucking now.
So he simply nods and lets her turn around and walk away and he’s not even sure if he will call her again or if that was it. He probably should but… what would it change? What would it make better? He already told her he was sorry and even if he told her again, he could never explain to her why and what he was sorry for because the words for that still seem to be firmly lodged in his throat, even after all those years so when he shuts the door… he most probably shuts it on them forever.
Slowly, he walks over to his couch, sits down, his face in his hand. He’s sitting like that for what seems like an eternity, unable to grasp the thoughts running through his head. He just knows that something significant just happened, something that went beyond breaking up.
With that thought in his mind, he gets up, not quite sure what to do or where to go for another moment… until his feet walk over to his desk nearly by themselves and he finds himself opening one of the drawers… and there they are. Simple white gold – or the Pegasus equivalent of it – no stones or inscriptions. Just two weddings bands, one smaller than the other. He takes the one that’s his and slowly turns it over between his fingers.
Standing there, his wedding band held between two fingers, he thinks about the day he married Laura and about the day he lost her and about the day that was Jennifer Keller-McKay’s funeral. About the day Matthew Kemp had married Jenna Wells and the day Will Meyers called him to tell him about the miracle of his wife becoming pregnant years after every doctor they knew had told them they’d never have children. About the day his nephew Felix ruined his shoulder so badly that he would never be admitted to the Air Force Academy and the day Rodney McKay called him his friend in an aside and in earnest.
He thinks about all the days he had wanted Laura so badly by his side that it sometimes had caused him a physical ache, deep down in his chest, as if there was a knot there, unbearably tight and ready to burst any moment. Even… even when Christine had been there. In the end, it had always been Laura he’d longed to be able to call from the SGC or talk to over dinner about whatever news he’d learned. So he doesn’t hesitate anymore, just slips the ring back on his finger and it just feels so… good.
Because, and that’s both frightening and liberating, he finally realized that she’ll always be the one he’ll want to share things with first and whose voice he wants to hear singing in the shower in the morning and who he wants to wait for him at the gate when coming home from deployment – or who he’d want to wait for at any airport’s gate.
There’s something inside of him that will never quite heal and that will always fill him with a cutting longing when someone tells him about a marriage or a birth or funeral of someone he knows and maybe there will be even days when he feels that pain when he hears the damn weather report on the radio because they’ll say that it’ll be a rainy and windy day, just like those on Lake Michigan that she used to love… but somehow he doesn’t think he’ll mind it much anymore.
In fact… he’ll welcome it because it’ll always remind him of her, just like that ring on his finger and he doesn’t want to forget her or the joy that she brought him… not even the pain that she – or rather her death – brought him. He knows what happened was unfair to Christine because she’s a great person, so full of life and sometimes not unlike Laura but the point is… she’s not Laura and she’ll never be and it would be even more unfair to try to make himself and her believe that he doesn’t want anyone else besides Laura.
He really wishes he could have talked to Christine today, like she deserved but… he’s not ready for it now and he’ll probably never be. It’s not Christine’s fault, though, and he’ll make sure to tell her that some day, tell her how great she is and that she deserves someone who can love her, doesn’t try to make himself forget about his dead wife with her. And that he never wanted to deceive her with not telling her about Laura.
Apart from those who were there and Anna and Laura’s parents there’s no one who knows what happened back in Pegasus. They saw the ring on his finger when he still wore it but they never asked and he was glad about that. Hopefully… they won’t start asking now.
But even if they did… he’d just shrug and they’d stop asking because they always do when he shrugs and ignores their questions. Okay… Anna will ask when he sees her in D.C. next week and Jenna and Matt will probably ask as well when he has dinner with them the same week… and maybe they’ll get an answer.
Oh well. Anna probably will because she never stops until she has her answer but at least Jenna and Matt had – and maybe still have – enough of their own demons to know when to ask and when to keep quiet. He’s thankful for that and maybe he’ll even tell them some day.
He moves the ring on his finger again and something like a half smile crosses his face. Well. Now that he admitted a couple of things to himself… somehow some things seem to be a lot clearer to him. Some are embarrassing; like realizing what an idiot he’d been with lying to Christine and to himself. Some are painful; like knowing he’ll never have what a lot of other people he knows and cares about have.
But some are also relieving; like realizing that accepting that Laura will always be the only one for him was a lot easier and a lot less painful than he ever thought it would be. All of that, though, mostly makes him hope that now that he saw all of this, things can only get better, at least a little bit. That’s all he wants and all he needs, for now.


TBC in Time Keeps Burning On.


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