Website: Fly With Me
Date: April 22, 2009
Word count: 2,600
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Pairing: Carson Beckett/Evan Lorne
Disclaimer: The characters of SGA are not mine.
Spoilers/setting: Some time after "Whispers"; no spoilers for the rest of season 5.
Summary: "So is playing cards the only reason you're here?" Carson asked before Lorne was done dealing the first round of cards. / "Not really," Lorne admitted. "But can we pretend I am just a little while longer?"
Note: Written for lgbtfest, prompt #1215: Stargate: Atlantis, Carson Beckett/Evan Lorne, clone!Carson Beckett/Evan Lorne, Lorne came out to Carson once before, he isn't sure he can do it all over again. What if the outcome is different this time? Carson isn't who he was; Lorne has already mourned for him, but he finds himself unable to move on.
Thanks to mireille719 for the last minute readthrough.
Lorne shouldn't be there, waiting for Carson--not the real Carson, he reminded himself, as much as he looked like him, felt like him, talked like him--to open the door and let him in. He'd mourned his lover a long time ago, but he'd come to the realization just a few hours ago, that it didn't mean he had to keep away from a man who thought of him as a friend.
After all, this Carson, cloned and all, had Carson's memories, and at least a whole year of those included late card games and beer with Lorne. Carson had even tried to teach Lorne to fish without either a fishing rod or actual fish.
"Major, what a pleasant surprise," Carson said when the door opened, forcing Lorne to think of the present instead of the past. He really did look surprised.
"I thought we could--" He held up the beer and the pack of cards.
"Oh, of course! I should have mentioned it before. I suppose I wasn't sure you'd agree, what with--"
Lorne stopped him before Carson could mention the clone thing. He didn't need that right now. "Hasn't been easy to get you alone since you got back, then I thought tonight might be a good night for a game of gin. And you're the best player on Atlantis."
Carson flashed him a grin, and stepped out of the way to let Lorne in. "Let me get these things out of the way," he said, picking up piles of paperwork and files from the top of the small table in the corner.
The quarters were different from what Lorne remembered. They were the same ones Carson had been in before, but everything about them was different: curtains, bedspread, even the artwork on the wall wasn't the same. "Got to a bit of decorating?"
"I thought it best." Carson didn't say anything else, but Lorne could hear the meaning behind the words.
He settled the beer and the cards down on the table, and sat himself with his back to the door. "Just cheap beer," Lorne apologized when Carson looked at the six-pack with a frown. He didn't need to, Carson knew the quality of the stuff you could get from the Daedalus' runs, but for some reason, he felt like apologising for something inane.
"So is playing cards the only reason you're here?" Carson asked before Lorne was done dealing the first round of cards.
"Not really," Lorne admitted. "But can we pretend I am just a little while longer?"
"Sure," Carson replied, nonplussed. "How is it you're dealing this round, and we haven't cut for it?"
"I lost the last game, remember?"
"How can you remember that? It's been over two years."
"I just do," Lorne said, shrugging. "I have a good memory." The game they'd played just before the showdown with the Wraith was something Lorne remembered pretty clearly; it'd been the last time they'd played and not ended up in bed. Lorne wasn't going to mention that to Carson, though. Not yet.
"So, how is it going between you and that doctor lady?" Lorne asked, two rounds and a beer later. He was already halfway through the second beer, and he knew he'd need the liquid courage to get to where this evening was going. He'd needed a near death experience and three beers the first time.
He was only hoping they could get through it this time without the almost dying thing.
"Uh?" Carson frowned looking up from his cards. He'd just picked up his card; Lorne was waiting for an eight to call gin.
"Porter, I think her name is?" Lorne wasn't going to mention the gut-wrenching jealousy he'd felt when he'd heard from Sheppard that Carson had an obvious crush on a pretty woman right in his league.
"Oh, Alison," Carson grinned, picked a card from his hand and threw it into the pit.
A ten; Lorne sighed and went for the pile of cards, putting the six randomly in his hand. He threw an ace, and groaned when he saw Carson reaching for it. "Yes, you've been working together a while, figured from what I heard you guys got close."
"Are you looking for gossip, Major?" Carson teased, throwing his card.
Lorne bypassed the seven. Considering the king he picked up, he probably shouldn't have. "Not gossip, just conversation."
He threw the king back down, and waited for Carson to make his move. The first time they'd played, they'd agreed not to bet on the outcome. Used to dealing with airmen and marines, Lorne had thought it'd be boring, but he kind of liked the no-stress approach. Sure, there was nothing to gain, but there wasn't anything to lose either.
"Not that close," Carson replied after he'd thrown an eight.
Lorne's grin could have cut glass. "Gin," he growled, putting the eight in his hands, and throwing his last ace down.
Carson rolled his eyes at him.
Lorne wasn't sure what he was most happy about; that he'd won his first game of the evening--he was going to have a talk with McKay about the possibility of that cloning thing having enlarged Carson's brain--or that Carson was denying a personal relationship with the pretty Dr. Porter. He was going for a mix of both.
Carson gathered up the cards to deal, after having put down the scores, and reached for his beer. "It's not that I wouldn't have liked to take things further, but she and I weren't compatible as much as I'd hoped."
"Oh, why is that?" Lorne attempted the "I'm not really interested look" but he was pretty he was failing at it. Carson had his eyes on the cards, thank God.
"She can't stand my wee turtles." Carson pointed his head at the corner of the room where Lorne remembered the turtles living in--but that was after what this Carson should have been able to remember. Sure enough, the aquarium was there.
"McKay cared for them after... well, you know. I've always liked turtles, so while they weren't technically mine, I thought it'd be best for them to come back to live here."
Lorne looked away took a deep breath, then turned back to the table, picking up his cards. It wasn't until he had put them in order that he realized he was missing three cards, and Carson had stopped dealing.
And was looking at him, puzzled.
Lorne stared back.
"Is something the matter, Major?" Carson finally asked after ten seconds of eye contact; Lorne wasn't going to back down.
Except that he was. "Nothing," he said, voice tight and his eyes lowering to his hand--it wasn't going to be an easy one. "Just wondering why you stopped dealing. Still missing three cards."
Carson relented long enough to deal the last cards, but he came back to it the moment the top card had been turned on the table. A six of hearts. "You can't tell me there's nothing that is bothering you when the moment I mention the little fellows you look like someone's ripped your heart apart and then stomped on it."
"I don't know what you're talking about." Lorne picked up the red six and placed it next to his seven, sending the king down on the pile. Definitely not going to be an easy round. Maybe he should have more beer. He hated how perceptive Carson was. Sure, it made the whole doctor thing a lot easier for him, but Lorne loathed being an open book.
"All right. If I win this round, you tell me what's on your mind, Major. Deal?"
"And if I do? What do I get?" Forget about their no betting rule; Lorne knew an opportunity when he saw one. He'd come here for a reason after all. He'd figured in college that coming out was always easier after a few beers and a stinking loss at cards--it had landed Lorne the single longest relationship of his life before Carson had come barging in. Three weeks and about two times the number of firsts than there were days.
Maybe that could apply twice in a lifetime.
"Whatever you want," Carson said. "Name your price."
Maybe Lorne shouldn't be letting it get that far. "Did McKay say where you'd gotten the turtles from?" he asked instead of saying anything about a price. He threw his ace before he remembered to pick a card. "Sorry," he muttered.
"No harm done," Carson replied. "And no, he did not say. I supposed he didn't know. Said I'd gotten them while we were thrown out of Atlantis for six weeks."
"I gave them to you," Lorne wanted to say. It was right there on his heart; the memory of how he'd wanted to leave something Carson could remember him by when he was offworld on missions still so vivid. It'd been just weeks before Carson's death. Instead, Lorne shrugged. He looked at the five of hearts Carson had thrown and decided to leave it there and went for the top of the pack instead.
A king. Just what he didn't need.
"Ah, thanks," Carson said, picking up the king with a grin. "Gin."
"Don't you look at me that way. You're the one who threw me my winning card. Now pay up." Carson smiled, flattening his card face up on the table.
Lorne sighed and sagged back again the chair. He left his hands on the table. "I bought the turtles at the pet shop on Main in Colorado Springs."
"Wha--?" Carson's frown almost reached his hairline.
"I'm gay, Carson," he said, as clearly as he could manage with his throat a little too tight. "You and I... Well, the other you--"
Carson interrupted him by standing up and going for the aquarium. He put both hands on the dresser and hung his head. "How can you stand to be here, Major?"
"I don't know. I guess I figured it'd be easier to just..." Lorne lifted his shoulders in a shrug. He walked to the window, just a few feet away from Carson. "It's like a bandaid, you know. The faster you get it over with, the less it hurts."
"We were friends," Carson said softly. "And then?"
"More," Lorne answered, barely louder than a whisper. "Lasted a bit over six months. Then... Your mother wanted me to speak at your funeral."
"Oh, Lord," Carson groaned sympathetically.
"Oh no, I wouldn't have minded if there hadn't been a platoon of marines there and my superior officer. I already had a speech all planed up when Sheppard said he was coming too," Lorne said, keeping his voice as even as he could. "Ended up sending your mom the speech."
"She didn't mention it when I was there," Carson whispered.
"Maybe she thought I was part of it. The whole covering up your death stuff they cooked up for the people who were there when we buried you."
The silence stretched. Lorne kept his eyes on the sight outside the window; Carson watched his turtles swimming. Lorne sighed, but it was Carson who spoke.
"I was already interested," he deadpanned.
Lorne knew that; Carson had told him his crush had been building for months before they had the guts to do something about it. He didn't mention it.
"I had no idea that you were gay, though; that's quite a shock."
Smiling, Lorne patted Carson's shoulder. "That just means I'm good at keeping my sexuality a secret. It's a good thing when you're in the American military."
"I'm aware," Carson said.
"More of a shock than to learn we were in a relationship for six months?" Lorne asked. He turned his back to the window and leaned against it. He was trying hard for a composed attitude, but he was pretty sure he was failing at it. Inside he was quivering. He'd risked everything for Carson; his career, his place here on Atlantis... Then Lorne had lost him. Could he do the same thing again?
Coming out wasn't the most difficult part after all.
"I suppose you know I'm bisexual, not entirely gay," Carson said, looking up into Lorne's eyes. He didn't look half as scared as Lorne felt, but Lorne knew Carson pretty well, or at least, he'd known him before; he was pretty good at feigning to be fine when he wasn't.
Carson sighed, passed a hand over his face and straightened up. "I'm not sure exactly what I'm supposed to say now."
For the first time all night, Lorne felt a twinge of anxious laughter building up. "I don't think there's a script, doc. It's all on us."
"I guess it is," Carson agreed, nodding. "I'm not sure how long I'm going to be on Atlantis before they send me away again," he added wearily.
"No idea where you're getting at," Lorne admitted. He didn't think, from the papers the IOA had sent them--which Lorne wouldn't have seen if Colonel Sheppard did his paperwork--that Carson was going away for a good long while.
"I have no idea what you want me to say, Evan. I can call you Evan, yes?"
Lorne bit the inside of his cheek to keep from... he wasn't sure what, but his heart ache at the sound of his first name said exactly like his lover used to. It was difficult to remember that this wasn't his Carson. "I don't need you to say anything; just figured you ought to know," he said, letting the other issue go without an answer.
"I am not the same man you remember, Evan," Carson said apologetically.
"I didn't think you were," Lorne replied. "I figured two years as a prisoner, then the whole cloning thing--you're bound to be different." Heart hanging in his throat, Lorne crossed his arms over his chest, and hung in head. "In any case, I'm not looking for a relationship, especially--Nah, I'm going to hang myself with that one, but just--"
Before he could finish his thought, the sound of an explosion made him jump, head snapping back up, and he was at the table putting his radio back on his ear before he could count to two. "What's going on?" he said, clicking the thing on.
Sheppard's voice came on. "Major, we got a situation on level seven, get a platoon of marines down here, we might have casualties."
"I'm with Dr. Beckett, I'll let him know."
"Roger that. Hurry."
With that, Lorne clicked off the radio, and turned to Carson. "Might be casualties. Better get to work."
"The outside world always intrudes at the most inopportune moments."
"You telling me," Lorne muttered, grabbing his vest and shooing Carson out of the room.
"Rematch tomorrow?" Carson asked hopefully, halfway down the corridor.
Lorne, who was standing with one hand waving at the transporter panel, smiled at him. "You bet. Gonna kick your ass this time."
Carson was shaking his head when Lorne stepped inside and touched the screen for the armory. He was still smiling when the doors opened to reveal a platoon of marines readying up.
So things were different, and Carson wasn't Carson--at least, not in the way Lorne thought of him--but that didn't mean it couldn't improve from there. It'd beat rescue missions any day of the week.