They had let him see the bodies. Doctor Beckett had been against the idea; he had argued that David did not need to go into the room. But David had insisted. He had to take several deep breaths, had forced himself to be calm as he firmly insisted that he had a right, as next of kin, to see the proof that Evan was gone.
In the end, it was the law that convinced Beckett, because David was right in this; he was permitted this demand. But David had to appeal to Sheppard first, and it was Sheppard that had reminded Beckett of the law.
He stood outside the cold room being used as a morgue, gathering his thoughts and his courage. Doctor Beckett walked up to him and reached a finger out to dab a bit of menthol cream on David’s upper lip, just beneath his nose. “You’ll be needing that, lad. Just breath normally, that goop will help keep the burnt smell from overwhelming you.”
It was so very much worse than he had expected. Two charred forms rested on the tables in the room. He gasped in a breath, unsure if he could do this. Why had he needed to see?
“Do you still want to do this, David?” He heard John Sheppard’s voice, quiet near his ear, as a warm hand clasped his and squeezed.
He was now. He wasn’t alone. He could do this. He nodded forcefully, the motion of his head sending tears spraying in all directions.
“You’re going to hyperventilate, David. Just breath slowly.” John squeezed his hand.
“This isn’t bothering you, seeing them like this?” David whispered the question as he took a few small steps forward into the room, Sheppard matching his pace and staying right with him.
“It is. But I’ve seen them already. I’m here for you David. Evan would want me to be here for you.”
He went between the two tables, and stopped between the heads. “Which is…?” He looked helplessly at John.
John pointed, “That’s Evan.”
He looked down, but the ghastly corpse there was not his beloved. His panor’eten was color and light, and warmth and love. This was not his beloved. The air had gotten thin, David couldn’t catch his breath. He gasped, looking at John in a panic.
His knees went all wobbly and he started to slump, but Sheppard was there and caught him with an arm around his middle. “You’re all right David. Easy, just breathe. I’ve got you, come on, let’s go now, maybe you’ve had enough.”
He was led from the room.
He couldn’t look back.
Until he was gone and a ceremony dedicating a segment of wall in the Memorial Garden had been held for his panor’eten, David had been unaware of all the friends Evan had in Atlantis. There were many, many messages on the wall. It hurt David to read them, so he avoided the wall these days. David thought that perhaps John Sheppard had the right idea, the Sub Commander also pointedly avoided coming here to the Memorial Garden.
But David could not leave the Garden. It was all he had now, with Evan gone. He had trees and plants to tend, that was his purpose, he still had a purpose, even without Evan. So he still came, every day, after his work in the botany lab was completed. It was quiet, no one bothered him here. No one forced him to talk.
He had his own little memorial for Evan, one which did not hurt quite so much to look upon, not like the wall hurt. David knelt on the grass beside the small plaque that one of the Athosians had carved in exchange for a zucchini plant and two tomato plants. It simply said ‘Evan Lorne’ in Athosian script. There were lovely curlicues that Evan would have liked. Evan had always appreciated hand crafts. David had not wanted the date on it, he didn’t need to see the date. He didn’t even need to see Evan’s name, but he had thought there should be something to the marker other than curlicues.
The marker was nestled in a flowerbed, ringed by flowers. David had planted bulbs and seeds in a pattern that would ensure there was almost always something in bloom in this spot for Evan. He had picked the plantings carefully, with a great deal of forethought. Thinking was hard these days and it had taken him a long time to decide what to do here.
The flowers that were blooming now were from one of the last missions he and Evan had gone on together. David remembered that he had found the twilight blooming night blossoms just as they were heading back to the Gate. He had made Evan wait, impatiently, while he dug up samples to take back to Atlantis. He thought it quite appropriate that these particular flowers be planted here.
Black blossoms, rich and dark, almost a true black. The flowers were so very appropriate for this place. There shouldn’t be bright and cheerful flowers here, not for Evan. Not now. David wasn’t ready yet. These blossoms were right. The heavy scent was mournful, as it should be, in this place of mourning.
Black blooms for his heavy heart.
Tell Me About Evan
The door chime bleeped. Kate checked her watch and was glad to see that her patient was right on time. It was always a concen with him, that he was so far detached from reality that he would miss the appointment. “Come in!”
The door swished open and David Parrish hesitantly stepped in. “Hello, Doctor Heightmeyer.”
“Hello, David, you’re right on time.”
He held his wrist up to show her his watch. “I set the beeper. I was involved, it made me stop.”
“Please, come and sit and tell me what you were involved in.” Kate gestured to the sofa, but David avoided it and sat in the hard-backed chair, one of the mess hall chairs. Unusual choice.
“I was transplanting a few pallets of a grain plant called rocoba, the seedlings were finally big enough this week to move them from under the heat lamps,” David explained with a small smile. “I think this batch will actually take hold.”
She smiled encouragingly. “It seems that this makes you happy.”
“Rocoba tastes a lot better than tava beans.” Pulling a face, Kate had to agree that this would be an improvement.
“We need to talk about Evan, David.”
“I don’t want to talk about Evan.”
She could see already that David was going to be stubborn today. She sighed. “Then let’s talk about Sub Commander Sheppard.”
He tilted his head. “What about him?”
“Have you spoken to him lately?”
He shrugged. “I saw him in the mess hall. I said hello, he said hello.”
“Don’t you think he would like to talk about Evan? He was Evan’s best friend. He is grieving too.”
David looked away, towards the windows where the sun was beginning to set. “You are more than welcome to talk about Evan with anyone you like, Doctor Heightmeyer, including Sub Commander Sheppard.”
“You need to work through the pain.”
“I happen to like my pain, Doctor Heightmeyer, it is one of the few things I have left now that truly belongs to me. I resent you trying to take it from me.” David refused to look at her again.
When ten minutes passed in unnerving silence, Kate sighed again. “David.”
“I’m not trying to take anything from you, but why do you wish to continue on like this? You are not doing Evan’s memory a disservice if you move on with your life.”
“I do not wish to move on.”
“Would Evan want this for you?”
He turned on her, rising up out of the chair slightly as he pointed at her, “Don’t presume to know what my panor'eten would or would not want!”
“I asked you to tell me what he would want, David. I didn’t know Evan, I never met him. I only know of him through the things you and Sub Commander Sheppard have told me. Please, I am trying to understand all of you better. I cannot help you unless I can understand.”
He looked lost. He sat back in the chair, wrapped his arms around himself and began to rock slowly.
“David. We don’t have to talk about what you’ve lost, about Evan’s death. Talk to me about Evan. Tell me how you met, tell me about his childhood, tell me about your favorite vacation you had together. Anything, David, just talk to me about Evan, help me understand this person that meant so much to you.”
He was silent for a long time. Kate began to think she might never get through to him, he might never talk to her beyond simple pleasantries and social niceties. Then he cleared his throat and slowly, haltingly, quietly, he said, “Evan liked to paint…”