The Wraith had surprised Evan’s Gate team on P8T-332, taking them completely off guard. They had used a new tactic; staying cloaked and quiet and lying in ambush, waiting for the Lanteans when they entered the village.
There was a whine, and a ‘Fzztt’ and a ‘zap’ and the next thing the major knew, he was gooped up and stuck to a wall in a hive awaiting death by desiccation. All in all; not a successful mission.
He was glad David was back in Atlantis, sidelined with the flu. Sniffling, sneezing coughing and aching had saved his lover’s life. The Wraith came and dragged Sergeant Peterson kicking and screaming from his slimy containment. They didn’t stand on ceremony, and drained him right there. Unable to move, caught up in the webbing and stuck to the wall, Lorne threw up. He hoped a wraith slipped in his sick.
Another Wraith turned and came towards him, one hand outstretched. Lorne wriggled uselessly against the living hive restraining him. He couldn’t believe it was going to end like this. Where was Sheppard? With all the times Lorne had rescued his ass, he couldn’t return the favor? Bastard. Lorne decided then and there that he was going to haunt John Sheppard for the rest of his fluffy-headed life. He figured if he fixed the thought in his head, maybe it would follow him to the afterlife.
The chemicals in the stuff holding him were quite possibly making him a little crazy. But hey, death, incoming. Wraith suckie-hand coming straight for his face! He was entitled to a little crazy, wasn’t he?
But he couldn’t hold onto the idea of haunting Sheppard; his last thoughts were instead of David, of course. He closed his eyes and saw David’s smiling face, right before a surge of electrical-like energy hit him and the world flared with blue light.
Damn, dying hurt.
And it was hard on the eyes.
Oh, God, no. He was a zombie!
“Oh, you’re awake! How delightful!”
“David!?!” He awkwardly turned his head this way and that but couldn’t see his boyfriend, though he knew he’d heard his voice somewhere nearby. “David, where are you?”
“I’m up here, behind the containment field. I do not sully my person with germs. Now, be a good soldier, follow orders; open your mouth and let the ‘bot take a saliva sample.”
A saliva sample? ‘bot? “What the hell, David?” Evan tugged at the heavy metal manacles binding his wrists to the table to either side of his face. There was a band around his throat which prevented him from lifting his head to check, but he could feel constriction at his chest, waist, thighs and ankles that were probably caused by more of the same heavy bands.
“Stop squirming, you’re only making things difficult for the ‘bot,” David’s disembodied voice was coming through an intercom system. When Evan cast his eyes up, he could see the edge of a window, and movement beyond it. It seemed that he was in some kind of observation room.
“What’s going on? How’d I get here? Where is here?” This wasn’t Atlantis, the ceiling tiles were all wrong. And Atlantis didn’t have ‘bots.
The intercom conveyed David’s sigh perfectly, making it echo around the room. “So many questions. Just stop squirming and comply and it won’t hurt… quite so much.”
“You’re not my David!” Evan shouted as he quickly came to the conclusion that it was so, based on tone of voice and the callous disregard for the safety of Evan’s person..
“I’m not anyone’s David. Shut up and lie back, let my ‘bots do their work.”
Since pounding his head against the table in frustration only resulted in an ache, Evan stopped doing it. He opened his mouth when the little steel ‘bot jabbed at his lip and let the thing take a sample of saliva. The greedy little thing poked him again and took a scraping from the inside of his cheek. He choked a little as it swabbed around for a throat culture.
Figuring it couldn’t hurt to ask, he rasped, “Water? Please?” A ‘bot appeared and squirted a stream of water into his mouth when he opened it. It tasted metallic, but it was water, at least.
“What are you doing to me? Why does my chest hurt?” Evan wished he could look, but the band at his throat kept him from seeing anything.
There was an echo of laughter through the room and then with amusement the Not David replied, “It might be the experiment.”
A new ‘bot, a bigger one, suddenly floated past Evan’s head and hovered over his chest, a motor humming at an irritating frequency that was bringing tears to his eyes. Slots opened on the rounded sides of the ‘bot and spindly arms extended out towards Evan’s chest. Attached to the arms were tools; scalpels, needles, metal scoops, tweezers, the thing was a mobile surgical tray!
He felt the cold press of steel against his chest. He screamed in protest, “I feel that! Your anesthetics aren’t working! I’m not numb!”
“Well of course not, how can I make proper observations of responses if you’re unable to experience the sensations and convey the information?”
That was definitely not his David. His David wouldn’t do this. His soft-hearted botanist moped when his plants were wilted.
“Now, on a scale of one to twelve, with twelve being the extreme end, how difficult is your breathing?”
“Screw you!” Evan screamed as the ‘bot cut deeper into his chest.
“I’ll take that down as a two then.”
The ‘bots continued to carve on him, Not David asked him questions, Evan screamed a lot. He didn’t know the purpose of this; Not David mocked him any time he begged for an answer. By the time the pain faded away, Evan didn’t care any more.
So, Evan had been right, Sheppard had known about them after all. The Colonel was trying to offer comfort, David understood that, but right now, David was so angry, so very angry with Sheppard for being just a few minutes too late, for not bringing Evan home. Parrish knew his tone was cold as he snapped, “Thank you, Colonel.” Then he turned and walked away.
“He was Evan’s friend too, David. You were a bit hard on him. He’s torn up about this,” Laura followed him out of the memorial service and tugged on his sleeve.
“Not now, Laura. I’m still too angry.”
She nodded. “Fine, you’re entitled. Come drink with us; liquid counseling. I have a couple of bottles of merlot.”
“You mean Allie has a couple of bottles of merlot.”
She wrapped an arm around him and squeezed. “Same difference.”
As they walked towards Laura’s quarters, Doctor Heightmeyer came walking towards them from the other direction. “Doctor Parrish, might I have just a moment of your time? I promise not to keep you.”
Laura squeezed his shoulders and backed away, though not too far, ready to swoop in and rescue him if he made any indication that he needed such drastic action from his marine. He looked at the doctor expectantly. She looked sincere as she said, “I wanted to offer my condolences. I know that you and Major Lorne were close friends.”
He snorted. Where had all this lovely support been when Evan was sneaking through the corridors in the wee hours so he didn’t get caught? All these people had KNOWN, and Evan had lived in fear of anyone finding out. It made David so angry. Everything was making him so very angry.
Heightmeyer ignored what was certainly an ugly expression on his face. “If you need to, if you want to talk to someone, I’m here. Come at any time, I’ll listen.”
He wanted to scream in her face, he wanted to scream in everyone’s face. Evan was gone! But she was only trying to help. He nodded and turned back to look at Laura. She pushed away from the wall she had been leaning on, grabbed his hand tightly and led him away.
“Yeah, well, you’re not the David I asked to see, so we’re even, buddy-boy.”
“Lippy too! You’ve be wise to keep a civil tongue in your head,” Not David advised as he stood up and walked away.
Evan struggled, but he was once again securely bound to a lab table. What was this, a tour of the multi-verses so that he could meet each and every version of David Parrish out there? He had yet to meet any like his own, which frightened him a little.
“No use struggling, those are heavy duty strappings holding you down. The SGC uses them for hauling cargo.”
Oh, good, the SGC, he was closer to his own reality. “They aren’t going to take kindly to you doing testing on an officer, Doctor Parrish.”
“What they don’t know won’t hurt them. They have no idea you’re here. You’re a gift from the gods, you just popped into my greenhouse, “Pop!” and just when I was wondering how I was going to test the next stage of my project. You’re like an answer to a prayer!”
Oh, wonderful, another crazy one.
“I’ll help you. You don’t have to tie me up.”
“Yes I do. I’m not stupid.” Oh, this was bad. Those were batshit crazy eyes glaring at him.
“I never said you were stupid, who mentioned stupid?”
“No one knows you’re here. I found you so you’re mine,” Not David declared as he filled a syringe from a vial of green fluid.
“What’s that, David? What’s in there?” he wriggled instinctively as crazy Not David came to his side.
“Deflagria Intestium Pegasus,” Not David swabbed Evan’s forearm and pressed the needle to a vein. “I had to put Pegasus in there since the source species came from there.”
The fluid was cold as it hit his vein. Evan sucked in a breath as he felt it spread. “Medical research, Doctor Parrish? What is this going to cure?”
Not David tilted his head and looked at Evan oddly. His voice was distant and vague as he said airily, “Cure? Why nothing, pet. I don’t do medical research. Not anymore.” He patted Evan’s arm and turned away.
“What is this for, what does this do, what are you researching?”
“They didn’t take my plants seriously. I need to show them.”
His entire arm was suddenly on fire. He clamped his jaw shut against the pain, panting through a wave of heat and fire. “Show… them… what?”
“Alternative methods of questioning. You’re going to tell me everything I want to know, aren’t you, pet?”
Not David injected him with dozens of variants of the drug over the course of the next few days. Evan was left a shaking mess, shivering despite the heat of the greenhouse. He’d lost control of his bowels sometime on the second day. Luckily, Not David was keeping him on a liquid diet, when he remembered to feed him.
Evan knew his mind was slipping, but there was not much he could do about it, strapped to a table without access to proper medical care or psychiatric counseling. There was a plant over his head. It had long vines that dangled down, just brushing the top of Not David’s head when he stood over Evan. He had started to imagine scenarios where the plant would suddenly leap to do his will and wrap around Not David’s neck and strangle him dead. When that didn’t happen, he started to talk to the plant, some part of him theorizing that if he made an ally of the plant, it would be much more willing to do his bidding and choke the crap out of Not David for him, when he asked. He named the plant Boo, after a character in a cartoon he’d watched with his niece the last time he’d been home on leave.
Boo was not a very effective ally.
There was a moment when the leaves at the end of the longest vine curled against Not David’s neck, and for a moment, he had a glimmer of hope that his plan was working. But the Not David brushed Boo off.
“This might be the one. I improved it,” Not David said as he plunged yet another syringe of poison into him.
He felt himself drifting, floating. It didn’t hurt very much. He felt his breathing slow. He could hear his heartbeat, a slowing thud, thud, thud in his ears. Oh, good. Not David had killed him this time. He was dying. He was out of here.
She took a swig and made a face. “This is vile! Is this that crap from Zelenka’s still?”
Shrugging, David took his bottle back. Let her complain, he didn’t ask her to be here, and he didn’t offer her the bottle. He took another drink. It numbed the anger. It was the only thing that did. It numbed it long enough for David to sleep. Sleep gave him enough energy to drag himself to the hydroponics lab and do what was expected of him.
There were seventy seven more days until the Daedalus came. Seventy seven more days until he could leave Atlantis, leave his memories of Evan, leave all the pain behind. He could certainly produce enough grain alcohol to keep himself numb until the departure day came.
Laura slung an arm over his shoulder and pulled him close, kissing the side of his forehead. She was one of the few who understood, who knew just what he had lost, who didn’t badge him to talk. She’d shouted McKay down and made him back off when David had gone silent. Laura was a good friend. He’d miss her when he left. But she reminded him too much of Evan.
“Sweetie, you have to stop drinking. You’re going to make yourself sick. Really. And Evan wouldn’t want this for you.” She tried to take the bottle again, but he held it out of her reach, over the edge of the pier, he could do that, his arms were longer.
His little friend could be very sneaky and underhanded. She dropped her hand and sniffled, then she burst into tears. Trickery! David had thought a marine was above this sort of trickery. He set the bottle down and put his arms around her, rocking her. Such a little nose produced an awful lot of snot. His shirt was covered with it by the time she finished bawling.
“You’ll stop drinking this crap?” Laura waved a hand at the abandoned bottle.
With a heavy sigh, David gave a half shrug and a nod. He’d try. It was all he could promise.
“Are your toys broken, Not David?”
“Would you stop calling me that? I am David.”
“You’re not my David, Not David,” Evan slid to the floor of his cell and tilted his head back against the wall.
“You listen to me, you muscle-headed flyboy! I’m as much a victim in this as you. This is not my reality either! These are not my machines, these are not MY experiments!”
Evan closed his eyes; he’d heard it all before. This Not David was a whiner.
“This was an accident!” Not David ran to the bars and crouched down in front of Evan. Please believe me. His tone was, as usual, whining, “You have to believe me. This wasn’t supposed to happen this way. I’m not supposed to be here.”
“Awwww, did your evil plans go awry?” Evan liked that word, awry. He let it roll over his tongue and repeated it a few times, because it was fun. “Aw-ry. Awry, awry.” And then, because it made Not David nuts when he babbled nonsense, he said it a few more times. “Awry, awry, awry, awry.” Evan had waved tata and bye-bye to his sanity weeks ago.
Not David pressed his face to the bars. “Is a little sympathy too much to ask?”
“From the guy on this side of the bars, you fruitcake? Yes! Your little accident is going to get us both killed, isn’t it? Isn’t it, Not David?”
“Unless I can fix it, yes, quite likely.”
Not David interrupted his suggestion with a clucking of his tongue and waggle of a finger. “Language, Lorne. I honestly don’t know why I bothered keeping you. Some of the other Lornes were much more accommodating.”
“Then put me back, you lunatic twerp! Put me back in the stupid Wraith hive where you found me. Or where the other Not David found me, I don’t care whose fault it is anymore. I’m asking you to let me go. I’d rather die a quick death than go through this crap over and over with you.”
Not David looked at him with absolute betrayal. “You don’t love me!”
“I hate your guts you dimwitted little psychopath!”
“I didn’t want you anyway. You were a mistake too. I pressed the wrong button. I wanted Sheppard. I got here and I got you by accident.”
“So you have told me, repeatedly.” Evan smacked his forehead. “Just send me back.”
Not David crossed his arms and shook his head stubbornly. “My experiment isn’t done; I still have data to collect. I can do that with the machinery here, if I can fix it.”
“The lab is falling down around our ears, twit-for-brains! Send me back before the stupid machine explodes. Do one thing right.”
“Stop yelling at me!”
At that, Evan stood up and grabbed the bars, bringing his face even and level with Not David’s. “I have been kidnapped. I am being held against my will. Do you expect me to be happy about that?”
“You were going to die anyway.”
“How do you know that? Are you omnipotent? I don’t think so, or your stupid lab wouldn’t be exploding. Send me back where I belong!”
Not David winced as yet another machine exploded behind them. He chewed his lip and then reached for the keypad. “No rough stuff. If you hurt me, I won’t send you back, and we’ll both die because if I’m hurt I can’t fix the machines.”
Clasping his hands behind him, Evan nodded. “Fine. Fine. I promise not to wring your neck. Just hurry up.”
Evan ran along beside Not David to the far side of the lab. Not David gestured to a glass door on the wall which slid open as he pressed a button. “Get in there.”
As the door closed, Evan realized that he was very likely rushing from one death to another, from possible immolation to draining at the hands of the Wraith. But he’d meant what he said, he preferred the quick route. Besides, maybe Sheppard would actually turn up and rescue him from certain death on the hive.
“Now, on a scale of one to twelve, how well does the chamber insulate you from outside noise?” Not David asked through a small speaker set into the wall.
It insulated very well, Evan assumed, since Not David didn’t chastise him or even blink at the stream of profanity Evan hurled at him in answer to the question.
Parrish was just as out of it as he’d been told to expect, not even looking up at Evan’s approach. “David?”
Slowly, painfully, he sat down beside him, using David’s shoulder to brace himself on the way down. David glanced over at him and then looked away quickly.
“Still not speaking to me? They said you stopped talking about two weeks ago, just after the memorial service.” They had more friends than Evan had realized. The stream of visitors to his bedside in the infirmary had been a shock. Everyone had come, everyone except David. And almost all those who came told him he needed to help David, expressed their concern about David, or were worried about David.
As Evan stared at his lover, David’s head dropped down. He reached a hand out to touch near his ear and stroke down his neck before letting his hand drop away. The touch was obviously unwelcome as David leaned away.
“I remember other Davids. I got stuck in some kind of reality shiftie-thingie. The other Davids were not very nice. You have the potential to be a really evil little creep, you know that?” Evan looked out over the waves and let his feet dangle over the edge of the pier.
“I missed you,” Evan rolled his eyes as David slid away when he reached for him again. “Come on, David, look at me, talk to me.”
“Go away,” David hissed. It was something; words were something, after all the silence.
“I did, I didn’t like it, so I came back.”
David’s eyes were angry as he looked at him. Angry in a way that Evan had never seen before, and it made his heart hurt. “David?”
“I can’t do this again. I can’t go back to secrets and lies and sneaking around. You were dead. You were dead and I was nothing. I couldn’t even grieve you properly. People had to offer their sympathies on the sly. Do you know how much that hurt, on top of losing you?” David turned away again.
Okay, this Evan could deal with, this was pain, this wasn’t hate. He had been so afraid David hated him. He scootched over until he was pressed against David’s back and wrapped his arms around him. David struggled for a few moments, trying to get free, but Evan held tight, his chin tucked into the crook of David’s neck. The scent of David was in his nose. He gave a sob as that hit him.
“You were dead!” David screamed as he continued to push at Evan’s arms. “Let me go, let me go! I can’t do this anymore…” he eventually began to sob in frustration as he couldn’t get out of Evan’s grip. For a moment, Evan was afraid David would lean forward and topple them both into the water, but he didn’t.
Evan squeezed him and mumbled near his ear, “I didn’t want it to happen. I didn’t ask for it, if I could take it all back, I would. I don’t want you hurt, oh, lord, David, I hate this. I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Evan felt the teardrops falling onto his bare arms where they were wrapped around David’s chest. He wasn’t certain if they were his or David’s, maybe it was both. “If I could, I would take it all back; I’d never have asked you to be on my team, I’d have stayed at the SGC and never come to Atlantis. I’d never have met you and you’d have been spared all this.”
At his words, David suddenly stopped struggling and let out a huge sob. “No!” He twisted around and threw his arms around Evan’s neck, burying his face there. “Don’t wish that; don’t think that, it could happen. Don’t tempt fate like that.”
“David, it could happen again. Any time, any mission, you’re right, we can’t keep on the way we were, not if you’re going to end up like this.”
If anything, the words made David cling more tightly to him. Since this seemed to be the end, Evan clung back, memorizing the scent of David’s hair, the feel of him in his arms. He closed his eyes and breathed in David, taking comfort before the pain to come.
Which was delivered in a completely different way than he expected as David pushed back from him suddenly and smacked him on the cheek, hard. “Ow! Still injured here.”
“You’ll live. You jerk. Some comfort you are. You come out here and break up with me? No way. We’ve done things your way long enough. I say when we’re done,” with that, David pushed completely away, climbed to his feet and stalked off, leaving Evan sitting there alone on the pier wondering what had just happened?
“He hit me!”
She nodded and titled her head sideways. “Do you think he was angry?”
“I know he was angry. But I don’t think it was all because of me being dead… mostly dead… reported dead.”
“What else could have caused it?”
Evan sighed and looked out the window for a bit before answering with uncertainty, “The hiding? Keeping our relationship a secret?”
“Are you asking me or telling me? Were you happy with the way things were?”
He looked out the window again. Twenty years of hiding wasn’t the sort of thing to be easily tossed aside. “No, it made David really unhappy.”
“And David’s happiness is important to you?”
“What did he say, after he hit you?”
Shifting in his chair, Evan replied, “That we’d done things my way long enough, and he would say when we’re done.”
“How did that make you feel?”
“Helpless? Out of control?”
“Maybe, a little.”
“Was it, is it your responsibility to control David’s happiness?”
“Huh? No. I don’t… was I doing that? I wasn’t doing that.” Evan hated therapy; he always got all turned around.
She smiled at him lightly as he squirmed. “Do you think perhaps David has been feeling helpless?”
How could he not have been? Everything had been on Evan’s terms. Maybe he’d deserved more than a slap upside the head.
“Hi, do you want to come in?”
“Yeah,” he was relieved when David stepped aside to let him pass. He went directly to the couch and sat down. He tried not to think about the many trysts they’d had on this couch in the past.
David sat on the desk chair and faced him. “So? I assume you want to talk. And I assume it’s private or you would have used the radio.”
“I wanted to apologize. For the sneaking around and the lying and keeping us from everyone for keeping you a secret, so, how can I make it up to you, what do you want to do? Do you want to make out in the mess hall or the Gate Room or in the front row at Movie Night and out us to the whole expedition?”
“You’re an idiot,” David shook his head at him, though he smiled slightly. “I don’t need big, Evan. I don’t want big. I never wanted big. I just want our friends to know. I want to tell my mother. I want to meet your mother and sister. I want to mean something.”
Just a few words could hurt so much. Evan launched him self off the couch and yanked David roughly up into his arms. “I am so sorry if I made you feel like that. I didn’t think. I just didn’t think. I’m sorry David.”
“You’re not ashamed of me?”
“No, David, I’m just a paranoid and oblivious soldier. Of course I’m not ashamed of you. I was never ashamed of you. I’ll take you to meet my family when we go back to Earth, I promise. Heck, we’ll do a video letter and I’ll introduce you to them.”
“Sheppard knows about us, you know.”
“Yeah, I figured that out too, in the infirmary. I’ve left instructions, David, if anything happens to me; you’re listed as my next of kin.”
“Yeah, I did the paperwork today. I’m really sorry for all the hurt.”
David’s arms slid around him and they fell into a comfortable embrace. They both started to chuckle after they sighed and sagged into each other at the same time.
“I’m glad you aren’t dead.”
“Me too, I missed you. Please tell me this is real, and it isn’t just another reality shift. Please don’t go all evil on me and tie me up.”
David chuckled and gave him a little pout, “You used to like when I tied you up.”
“I don’t like it anymore,” Evan shuddered and David hugged him. “Not anymore.”