Title: Five ghosts that haunt the Destiny
Author: Shenandoah Risu
Content Flags: the f-word, canon character deaths
Spoilers: end of Season 1; Season 2
Characters: Alan Armstrong, Matthew Scott, Nicholas Rush, Sgt. Spencer, Robert Caine, Everett Young, Tamara Johansen, Kiva, Dale Volker
Word Count: 2,272
Summary: "So, you're a ghost?"
Author's Notes: Written for prompt set #125 at the LJ Comm sg1_five_things.
Disclaimer: I don't own SGU. I wouldn't know what to do with it. Now, Young... Young I'd know what to do with. ;-)
Thanks for reading! Feedback = Love. ;-)
Five ghosts that haunt the Destiny
Matthew Scott's first thought is that somehow he managed to get another alien tick on himself, when he sees Senator Armstrong – the late Senator Armstrong – lounging on a couch on the observation deck. "Hello, son," Armstrong says with a broad smile, and Matt turns on his heel and makes a beeline for the infirmary. No ticks are found, so he checks in with Eli – no mysterious simulations are using up power, either. And when he returns to the deck the older man is still there.
"Come – sit," Armstrong gestures at the next couch. Matt scoots as far away as he can, but despite his fear he manages to put half his butt down.
"Are you a ghost?"
Armstrong furrows his brow. "I'm not sure, to tell you the truth. I guess so."
"Why me? Why can I see you?"
Armstrong shrugs. "I can't tell you that – I simply don't know. How is Chloe?"
"She's fine," Matt nods. "She misses you. She didn't want to let go of her tick, just so she could spend some more time with you."
The senator smiles. "Well, that wasn't really me. It was her hallucination, but I had nothing to do with it."
"I can't believe I'm talking to you."
Another smile, more wistful this time. "Yes, well, what can I tell you… It's strange for me, too."
Matt looks at him thoughtfully. "Are you happy, Sir," he finally manages to get out.
Armstrong nods. "Yes, I am. Why?"
"I always thought ghosts are unhappy souls and haunt the place of their death if it was tragic, or they have unfinished business, or if the living can't let go."
"Check, check and check," the old man confirms. "But I'm happy. I'm not out for revenge, or to scare people. I'd do it all again if I had to. It was my choice. If I can figure out how to stay invisible, I'd prefer that." He leans towards Matt. "I get to see my daughter, and I'm travelling among the stars – what could be better?"
Matt smiles. "There is that," he admits. "Is there – anything you want me to tell her?"
Armstrong turns serious.
"Remind her that she's braver than she believes, and stronger than she seems, and smarter than she thinks."
"I know that for a fact."
"Well, good, then. Take good care of her, and all of them."
And in the blink of an eye, he is gone.
"You used me," Spencer's ghost says without preamble. Rush whips around only to see Spencer – just the way he remembers him – sitting on a bench in the control interface room, wearing his usual hostile expression.
Rush rolls his eyes and slaps his console. "Stop that, Destiny. It's neither funny nor clever."
Spencer scoffs. "That old rust bucket's got nothing to do with it."
He gets up and comes closer.
"A guy can't even shoot himself in the head in peace without someone else coming along and taking advantage of the situation," he says, looming next to the console.
Rush swallows hard as he notices the hole in Spencer's temple.
"You were already dead," he replies hoarsely.
"That doesn't give you the right to use my body for your own nefarious purposes," Spencer points out.
Rush nods. "I admit, I'm not proud of what I did. But I saw an opportunity, and I took it. And what are you gonna do about it, anyway? You're dead. End of story."
Spencer runs a hand over his bald head. "I'm here now, aren't I?"
"So what – you're going to haunt me for the rest of my life? Oh, please. Killing yourself was your decision entirely. I had nothing to do with that."
Spencer looks at him sadly. "You're a selfish bastard, you know that? I'm… I was a human being. Show some respect, man. You're not an island, despite what you like to think."
Rush balls his fists in anger. "I'm very well acquainted with death, thank you very much. I lost my wife –"
"And you weren't even there for her, at the end," Spencer finishes for him. "Word gets around."
Rush turns away and sits down. "My life's biggest regret," he admits.
For a few minutes there is silence. Finally Spencer sits down next to him.
"It was a relief for both of us," he says eventually.
"Your wife, and me. Different ways our lives were hell. At least you honored her death." Spencer leans back against the wall. "And maybe that's why you treated me like crap. To tell yourself you're over it. It's just a body. Former flesh and blood."
Rush shakes his head. "That's not true."
"Look at me, man."
It takes him a while, but when Rush looks up at Spencer's ghost tears are rolling down his face.
"I'm sorry," he whispers.
"Okay, then. Remember, they're only human, warts and all."
Rush wipes his face on his sleeve, and when he looks up again, Spencer is gone.
Young looks up from where he was doing paperwork at his desk. There, in the middle of his room, is Dr. Robert Caine, deceased.
Young takes off his glasses and rubs his eyes tiredly.
Caine spreads his arms, lets them fall back by his sides.
Young touches the back of his head.
"Nope, no ticks, no simulations, just little ole' me," Caine pats his chest.
"So you're a ghost?"
Caine nods with a smile. "Must be."
Young gets up. "What do you want?"
Caine wanders over to the sofa and sits down. "I'm not exactly sure, Colonel. But I'm here. What shall we do about it?"
Young grunts noncommittally. "How's life as a ghost working out for you? Are the others with you?"
Caine shrugs. "They're probably around."
Young sits down across from him.
"Do we have any unfinished business? You didn't like the memorial service? The planet where we buried you and the others?"
"Don't be flip, Colonel."
"Sorry. Air Force training doesn't include dealing with ghosts."
Caine smiles. "It's all right."
Young looks at him and sighs. "Such a waste," he finally says. "You and all those good people, on that planet, and dying like that." He looks at his hands, fiddles with his pinkie. "Wish I'd brought you all back."
"Trussed up like chickens?"
Young chuckles. "Maybe. You'd still really be here."
"But you didn't. You left the choice up to us. We chose this, Colonel. I for one appreciate that."
Young doesn't respond.
"So maybe that's it? You can't let go of us? You feel responsible?"
Young looks him in the eye. "When you came back, you guys creeped my out like nothing I'd ever experienced. Like… like zombies, or something."
"You knew we were dead."
"Maybe. Something. TJ felt the same way. She was devastated, seeing you all go through that again."
"Double the knowledge, double the guilt," Caine nods. "For what it's worth, Colonel, I'm sorry. We all are. We were unfit to survive on our own, and we knew that. We were so – blinded by hope. We should have listened to that grump, Dr. Morrison."
Young smiles at that, despite himself.
"He's still a grump, but he knows his shit."
"And you need to take care of him, and the others. Don't worry about us, Colonel. We'll be around. Maybe that's what They intended all along – so we could die here, among our own people. I for one am glad it worked out that way."
Young gets up.
"Do I still creep you out?" Caine asks.
Young contemplates him for a long moment. "No," he finally says. "I know it's you. It feels right, this time."
They share a smile.
"I need to get back to-"
"Oh, don't let me keep you," Caine hastens to add. "Be well, Colonel."
And then he's just – gone.
TJ yelps in surprise and drops a box of tea leaves as she turns around and nearly bumps into Commander Kiva.
Kiva tilts her head and glances disapprovingly at the box at her feet. TJ rushes to pick it up, then inches towards the door. As she leaves she hears Kiva call out after her.
"I killed your daughter, you know."
TJ stops dead in her tracks, biting her lip. It's been a long time now, but the memories of being pregnant are still fresh and raw.
She turns back.
"It was friendly fire," she says, coldly. "One of my colleagues tried to play the hero."
Kiva shakes her head.
"He may have pulled the trigger, but it was still my fault."
TJ comes closer.
"So you came back, just to tell me that? You feel bad about it now? Wish you'd never set foot in this place?"
Kiva looks at her.
"Guilt is unproductive. It won't get you anywhere."
TJ laughs bitterly. "Yeah. Look where feeling no guilt has gotten you. Just a ghost, now. And I know it's you. I just had my tick check. And Destiny is not running any simulations, either."
"That is correct," Kiva replies, in her precise clipped voice.
"So, why the visit?"
"I wanted to tell you that I accept responsibility for your daughter's death. I know now that I've failed at a great many things. But this is the only thing I truly regret."
"You're here to say you're sorry?" TJ gapes at her.
Kiva gestures at one of the beds. "May I?"
TJ nods and takes a seat herself, opposite of her.
"I'm not going to apologize. But I want you to know that if there is a final checks and balances kind of reckoning, your daughter is on my tab."
"Is that supposed to make me feel better?"
Kiva looks puzzled. "No, I-"
"Because she's not just another item on a list, something you can inventory and claim. Carmen is dead, along with a number of good people, colleagues, friends, and I'm not even thinking of all the others you've offed in your time. If you don't care, then all the responsibility in the world is not going to do you any good."
Kiva stares straight ahead, then lowers her head.
"I think I do. I do care." She looks at TJ, confused. "This is new to me. I'm trying to understand."
And suddenly TJ feels a stab of sympathy in her heart.
"Look," she says more gently, "What's done is done. Nothing's going to bring her back. But evidently you're still here-"
"I saw her. I held her. After that bullet ripped though me. She was there."
And then tears start running down her cheeks.
TJ feels like crying herself.
"If you're looking for forgiveness, I can't help you. But it looks to me like you have a lot of grief to work through, a lot of guilt, and learn to forgive yourself first. No one can do that for you."
Kiva wipes her nose.
"I will try. Thank you."
TJ nods. "Good luck."
She sits down, alone now.
"No. Oh no no no no no. No!"
Volker slowly backs away, scared out of his mind. There, on the other side of the Bridge, is a spitting image of himself. A little on the transparent side, but in every way his identical double.
"Uh…" He reaches over and checks Destiny's data screens – no unusual simulation programs, no ticks reported missing.
"Hi," the other Volker says awkwardly, waving at him.
"Who… are you?"
"Dr. Dale Volker, astrophysicist," the other one answers. "It appears I might be a ghost. Or some sort of interdimensional phenomenon. But I'm you, all right. And I'm here, you're not making this up."
"But I'm not dead. Aren't I?"
"Nope, you look pretty lively to me."
"So… wow… I thought you'd have to die before you can be a ghost."
"True," ghost-Volker nods. "And you did. Well, parts of you, anyway."
"Is this about Lisa? Because I can still love her all the same. Broken hearts don't usually kill you. Not to ghost status, anyway."
Ghost-Volker shakes his head. "Nope. And seriously, dude, you knew for a long time you had a thing for her. You should have moved faster. Before Ronald got to her."
"I could never compete with Ronald, come on, seriously. They guy gave me one of his…"
"My kidneys? You're my fucking kidneys?"
"Maybe. I certainly have no clue how this all works. But I admit you have a very unique dilemma: the guy who you'd rather have off the ship and out of your life is the one who saved your sorry ass. Who risked his life for you and almost died himself."
Volker starts to sob. "It's so not fair."
"Nothing ever is, buddy. A kidney for the love of your life. What would you have done?"
"The same, probably," Volker sniffles.
"So there you go," ghost-Volker says, looking pleased with himself. "At least this way…"
"… I can still be her friend," Volker finishes for him. "So this was a trade, arranged by – what? Fate?"
The ghost chuckles.
"No. Now that I know for sure. It's just another shovel full of crap that life hands you, instead of the spoonful of ice cream you want."
"So why are you haunting me then?"
Ghost-Volker shrugs. "Don't know. But listen, instead of feeling sorry for yourself, just be glad you're still around to be her friend. It's not the worst thing in the world."
Volker smiles a little. "I guess you're right. I probably knew that. But thanks anyway for-"
He looks around, but the other one is gone. After a moment he nods to himself and gets back to work.
Thanks for reading! A comment or feedback would be very much appreciated.