Season: AU would be season 6 ... Atlantis is still in Pegasus though.
Summary: If he could cancel Halloween, Major Evan Lorne would do it in a heartbeat, because surely he had some kind of cosmic target painted on his back. And this year he couldn't afford to be delayed ... not with his bride to be waiting for him back on Earth. Lorne/Cadman ship Follows on from The Veil.
Classifications: Romance/very mild horror.
Pairings: Lorne/Cadman; Ronon/Jennifer; John/Teyla
Spoilers for: None – this follows on from my Halloween story last year, so some references to that.
Disclaimer: I am unfortunately not associated in any way with the creators, owners, or producers of Stargate or any of its media franchises. If I was then I'd be writing a whole session of Lorne being part of the action! All publicly recognizable characters, settings, equipment, etc are the property of whoever owns them. Any original characters, plot, settings, and anything else I made up are the property of me, the author. No copyright infringement is intended.
Copyright (c) 2010 ShaViva
This is a short story that follows on from The Veil.
Lorne was starting to think something mischievous and mean spirited and hooked into October 31st was out to get him. It was the only explanation for his current predicament. Last Halloween he and Laura had been literally sucked through the veil between Atlantis and another realm. On the other side they'd been confronted by a bad assed spirit ... thing with a fifteen thousand year old grudge. It had tried to glue his feet to the floor to keep him there and he'd almost had to sacrifice himself before he and Laura got out.
And now, this year, when he should be signing off for a month of leave on Earth, instead he was delayed off world, compelled to lead 'a quest' by a bunch of mostly harmless but very insistent and useful locals. Earth ... where Laura Cadman – his fiancé and soon to be bride - was waiting to marry him.
"You just had to mention the whole Hericus and Lore thing," he muttered to Coughlin grimly.
"I'm sorry Sir," Nate repeated his apology again. "How was I to know they'd take it so literally?"
True, it hadn't been Nate's fault. Talk had turned to traditions, as it usually did when they were forging new relationships off world, and because it was Halloween back home Lorne's 2IC had decided to regale their new friends with the tale of last Halloween, complete with the fact that Lorne himself bore a striking resemblance to that long dead hero. Was it too much to hope that the locals wouldn't have heard the classic tale? Apparently yes, because they'd latched on to Evan like he was Hericus in the flesh and begged him to find their sententia. Lorne had enough grasp of Ancient to translate that loosely as some kind of symbol representing the meaning the people placed on their past. He could have said no ... but these people had crops in short supply on Atlantis, including a bean close enough to coffee that Parish was almost bouncing in delight and eagerness.
"How far away is this sententia?" Evan asked.
"It is not the distance that has stopped us from reclaiming our path," the village elder had intoned in that 'wise man' way a lot of the Pegasus leaders had. "The path lies just outside the village ... only one worthy of notice by the Ancestors will be shown the way."
"Right," Lorne nodded, mind racing. It sounded simple enough, assuming being worthy of notice by the Ancients just meant someone who had the gene. Lucky for Evan he did, so with any luck they'd only be delayed an hour to two, tops. He should have known it wouldn't be that easy!
"Reed, take Parish back to the gate and report in to Atlantis," Lorne ordered. "Tell them we'll be delayed a couple of hours and not to dial Earth without me."
Parish laughed. "It'd be pointless for them to go without you Major," he said. "You're kind of the guest of honour, right?"
"Where have you been buried that you don't know the bride is the centre of everything?" Lorne laughed. "My part is about making her look good." His eyes twinkled as he added "Since Laura would look good heavily armed in a set of week old BDUs there's every chance she could do this without me."
"I'll tell them you'll be along soon," Parish promised.
"Coughlin, with me," Evan waited for the rest of his team to head out before turning back to the village elder. "Which way?"
"As the sun sets and the river dwindles to make music against a rainbow of pebbles, shadows against the hills will reveal the way inside."
"Right," Lorne held back the urge to complain that just one he'd like to hear something 'ancienty' that didn't come surrounded by a bunch of indecipherable mumbo jumbo. "Okay, leave it with us," he promised, walking around the man and his fellow elders and continuing on the path that had led them to the village.
"You understood that Sir?" Coughlin asked in a low tone.
"West until you hit the river, cross at the ford, look for a cave up a hill," Evan summarised. "If that doesn't play out we'll run it again."
"Yes Sir," Coughlin fell into step beside his CO, the two men covering ground in long strides that saw them at the river only a few minutes later. The stones on the bottom did cast prisms through the water where the sun hit them, visible as they walked the river's edge until Lorne was convinced it wasn't going to get any shallower.
"Let's go," he splashed into the creek, carefully making his way across and up the other side. Stopping, he looked at the hill rising on the other side, eyes narrowed as the sun cast shadows down the slope.
"There," Evan pointed up and to their left, where an arch of blackness was just visible.
"That looks like it Sir," Coughlin agreed.
It was an easy climb up the grass covered hill ... and as they got closer the arch looked more and more like a cave entrance. Once there, Lorne pulled a torch from his vest and turned it on, shining it from left to right as he stood at the opening. "Man made," he commented, noticing the smoothness of the walls and the symmetry of the space inside. "Stay close," he told Nate, taking that first step inside.
The reaction from within was immediate. A flash of blue light engulfed Lorne's vision while an invisible force drew him inwards despite his efforts to resist. He felt hot and his heart was racing in time with the sudden throbbing in his head. "Crap," he muttered, trying to turn back to warn Nate. The sensory overload was too much for Lorne, which was how he found himself stretched out on the floor of an Ancient made cave on the eve of his wedding day. Before he lost consiousness there was only one thought in Evan's head.
Laura was going to kill him.
When he came to it was quiet and dark. Slowly feeling the ground around him, Evan's fingers stumbled across his torch. Switching it on didn't give him anything though – he must have broken it when he'd collapsed. "Great ... a guy can't even get a little light!"
As soon as he said it, illumination from an unknown source bathed the cave in a soft glow. "That's ... creepy," Evan muttered, slowly dragging himself to his feet and looking around. What he saw had dismay rising inside ... because there was literally nothing there. No altar, no pedestal housing the sententia, no console he could attempt to power up ... nothing. Yeah, the only thing to grab his attention was the shimmer covering the entrance, just visible in the artificial light. He couldn't have said whether it was day or night on the other side because visibility was zero. He couldn't see through the shield and he couldn't hear through it either. Keying his radio to the standard off world channel produced nothing, not even a burst of reassuring static. He was truly on his own.
Moving closer, Evan reached out a hand reluctantly, feeling the feedback while his fingers were still a few inches away. He'd learned his lesson about Ancient shields the previous year and had no interest in repeating that particular pain. Opening a pocket on his vest, Evan pulled out a note book, ripped out a page and screwed it up. Throwing it lightly at the shield he wasn't reassured when a bolt like mini lightning shot out and incinerated it. "Oh, that is not good," he swallowed, stepping back a pace. "How the hell do I get out of this one?"
On the plus side, Coughlin wasn't trapped with him which hopefully meant he'd kept clear when the shield had slammed down and was now back in Atlantis raising the alarm. Lorne would be grateful when Colonel Sheppard turned up to rescue him – and he had no doubt it would be his CO because that was just the way his Halloween luck seemed to be going – just as he knew he was never going to live this one down. Unless he could rescue himself first ...
Standing in the middle of the room, Lorne thought ... what was it the elder guy had said? "Only one worthy of notice by the Ancestors will be shown the way." Maybe having the gene wasn't just about getting the lights to switch on. Maybe there was more to it than that.
"Okay," Lorne murmured resolutely. Closing his eyes, he concentrated on his thoughts ... when it was Puddle Jumpers or closed doors he didn't even have to think about it. Instinct or something automatic programmed in by the Ancients gave him the ability he needed. Maybe this time he just had to be more deliberate. "Show me the path," he thought firmly.
A sliding, rock grating against rock sound had his eyes snapping open again. A door had appeared in front of him ... but before he could think about stepping through, a dark presence slithered from inside, gliding across the floor towards Lorne.
"Fuck!" Evan leapt back, only just avoiding the shield behind him. Pulling his pistol he fired directly into the darkness. The bullet passed straight through without its speed being reduced, hitting the wall and ricocheting back towards Lorne. He threw himself to the ground as the bullet shot over his head, hit the shield and sparked a shower of tiny fires that rained down around him.
Leaping up, Evan slapped at his upper arm where one had landed, feeling it burn through his shirt before he brushed it away. "Nice going Evan!" he shouted, spinning to confront the darkness again. "This is not happening again ... I've done my bit ... its someone else's turn to play nice with the Pegasus spirits!"
The darkness stalked him now ... gliding soundlessly over stone. It didn't seem that menacing, not like last year's entity had been. Maybe fight and flight wasn't the right approach.
Stopping, Lorne turned to face whatever it was. "Okay ... ah ... I'm Evan Lorne and ah ... the locals want their sententia back so if you'll just hand it over we can both go back to better things."
The darkness didn't pause ... once it was within reach a piece of it shot out, hitting Evan squarely in the chest and sending him flying. As he struck the ground hard, Lorne rolled quickly, getting up and leaping out of the way before it could hit him again.
"Stupid move! Stupid!" he growled out, eyes darting around the cave looking for ideas.
Light shimmered across the shield and in a burst it came to him. His foe was all about darkness ... if he could lure it close enough maybe the lightning from the shield would be enough to neutralise it. Since he didn't have a better idea it really was his only course of action.
It took him a few circuits of the room, skirting ever closer to the shield, before he felt ready to get down to business. "This better work because if you get yourself incinerated Laura will find some way to make you pay," he tried to gee himself up for action. Switching directions abruptly, Evan leapt directly at the shield, twisting and rolling into a somersault on the floor, only millimetres from the shield. Over his head the darkness flowed – unable to change direction without the prior warning he'd had a portion of it brushed the shield.
The fireworks were spectacular ... lightning struck the creature, growing and spreading to cover it completely. The sudden noise had Lorne wincing as he slapped his hands over his ears. Screaming denial and a harsh clash like thunder made the cave tremble, raining a shower of gritty dirt down on Evan. It went on for minutes until abruptly it was over and he was once again alone in the cave.
Getting to his feet slowly, Lorne ran a hand through his hair, dislodging the dirt and sending him into a coughing fit. When he'd recovered enough to assess his situation, he wasn't a happy man. The shield was still up and it was again deathly quiet. Why wasn't he being released?
"This is really starting to annoy me," he ground out, hands on his hips as he glared at the wall closest to him. "I passed your test," he called out impatiently. "How about revealing the sententia so I can go home sometime this week?"
Lucky for him impatience tinged with rudeness wasn't a deal breaker ... another opening in the wall appeared with more grinding of stone. This time it revealed that pedestal he'd been expecting, complete with a small stone tablet with neatly carved columns of Ancient running up and down it.
"Finally," Evan moved forward, putting his hand on the tablet cautiously first before feeling like he had permission to take it. No doubt there'd be some explanation included for why the rigmarol he'd gone through to acquire it had been necessary, but at that point he didn't really care. Tucking it inside his vest he turned back to the cave opening, relieved to see the shield dropping away ... until he saw what was on the other side.
"Damn it," Lorne put on an easy expression as he moved into full night time on the planet, greeting his CO with a rueful smile. "Sir," he said blandly.
"Major," Sheppard replied, looking around Lorne to the empty cave. "Something you want to tell me?"
"Not particularly," Lorne replied.
"Well, your timing is impeccable," Sheppard added. "We were just about to try C4 to shut down that shield."
Evan winced - John's team must have been there a while to get to that stage in the rescue process. "How late am I Sir?" he asked reluctantly.
"You missed the scheduled dial out a few hours ago," Teyla moved forward to put a hand to his shoulder bracingly. "Do not be concerned Evan. Laura will understand."
"Yeah, after she lays on the guilt for worrying her," Evan pointed out.
"Get used to it," Rodney said unsympathetically. When Teyla turned a disapproving look at her team mate Rodney's brows rose sharply. "What? Like he's not already fully aware of all the various methods Cadman has for getting her revenge. That woman could give lessons to Todd ... no offence Evan."
Lorne grinned. "None taken," he shot back, pride and amusement warring to dominate his expression. "Can we get out of here now Sir?" he turned back to John hopefully.
"You sure you're done?" John queried. "Don't want to go looking for any more thousand year old legends to solve?"
"Crap," Lorne thought. Coughlin had told them the full story of why exactly it was that Lorne had been in that cave. He really was never going to live this down. "Maybe next year Sir," Evan said complacently. "It's my new rule ... along with 'if it sounds too easy to be real then it probably is'."
"Good rules," Sheppard complimented, a smirk playing over his face. "Well then, lead the way Major. We have a wormhole to Earth waiting for us."
"Yes Sir," Lorne strode forward, intent on ditching the Ancient tablet on the village elders with all possible speed so he could get out of there.
It wasn't quite that simple – the elders insisted on thanking him profusely until John had to step forward and promise that Major Lorne would return for some kind of tribute ceremony at a later date. Evan shot his CO a grim look but played along, hoping to hell John wasn't serious.
When they stepped through the gate to Atlantis, Woolsey graciously offered Evan the chance to take some time to get cleaned up. Lorne declined ... wanting nothing more than to go home. He'd kept Laura waiting long enough.
"Dial it up," Sheppard ordered. Standing beside Lorne, he grinned. "No more adventures Major," he ordered. "Teyla's been looking forward to this for months – Jennifer too. You mess this up and it won't just be you who suffers."
Ronon chuckled, slapping Lorne on the shoulder. "No pressure though," he said.
"Understood Sir," Evan grinned, glancing back to see the girls talking, heads bent together, smiles in place. Laura had been adamant they'd get married on Earth and Lorne was grateful Sheppard's team, along with Jennifer had been given clearance to attend. Coughlin and Reed were also on the guest list, both of them hurrying in moments later, Nate holding up the bag Evan had packed that morning and getting a grateful nod in return.
The kawhoosh claimed his attention and suddenly Evan's focus was entirely on what was waiting for him on the other side.
"Evan!" Laura rushed forward the instance he cleared the wormhole, her eyes racing over him quickly. "What have you done to yourself?" she demanded, grabbing his hand and pulling him down the ramp.
"Why do you assume this is my fault?" he complained, letting her take control.
"You're covered in dirt and ... is that a burn?" she leaned forward, touching his cheek.
Trying to down play his instinctive wince, Evan gave her a charming smile. "It's nothing ... and the dirt will wash off," he pointed out. "I'm really sorry I'm late Laura," he added sincerely.
"As long as you're okay I won't complain," Laura replied, her eyes still taking in his features with concern.
"He's fine Lieutenant," Sheppard joined them at the bottom of the ramp, smirk letting Lorne know he wouldn't like what the Colonel said next. "You might have to keep him away from Ancient legends though. It seems the Major here can't resist throwing himself in to help out the locals."
"Yes Sir," Laura's expression went suspicious. "You never said why you were late," she pointed out to her fiancé.
"No, I didn't," Evan agreed. Putting an arm around her he tried to urge her to get moving, throwing an irritated look at his CO over her shoulder. John just grinned, unrepentant, even when Teyla moved to stand beside him, her disapproval clear. Jennifer and Ronon and the rest of Lorne's team completed the clutter on the ramp, no one willing to draw attention to themselves by moving first. Laura was obviously thinking about grilling someone else and would haveif Rodney hadn't pushed his way to the front of the group.
"Oh, for god's sake," he said impatiently. "Lorne traded finding a useless to us Ancient artefact for the usual crew of underdeveloped Pegasus locals in exchange for an unlimited supply of what could be better than Earth coffee beans. I'm sure you'll agree that was worth a few hours of your time Cadman."
"I see you're still as charming as always Rodney," Laura shot back, glaring at him pointedly.
"Of course," Rodney was impervious, looking at everyone else expectantly. "So ... rehearsal dinner, right? I don't know about the rest of you but I skipped a meal to go and retrieve the Major here and I'm sure no one wants to see me go into hypoglycaemic shock."
"We could do without that excitement," Sheppard agreed, following after his team mate. Ronon nodded to Lorne, Jennifer throwing him an encouraging smile as the two passed. Coughlin and Reed looked like they wanted to disappear through the floor until Lorne took pity on them and waved a hand for them to clear out, leaving him alone with Laura.
"Okay?" he looked down at her, brow raised.
"Okay," Laura agreed with a smile, finally letting him lead her from the Gateroom too. "I'm glad you're okay."
"So am I," Evan agreed lightly.
"But don't think you've gotten out of telling me the full story," Laura added.
"Wouldn't dream of it," Lorne returned with a faint smile. All things considered his Halloween really hadn't turned out that bad. He'd defeated another bad spirit ... thing, retrieved the 'treasure', and rescued himself in time to still make it to his own rehearsal dinner only an hour late. And tomorrow he was marrying Laura Cadman. Life really didn't get any better than that.