From his peripheral vision Carson caught sight of Lorne pass by and immediately called out, "Major..."
When Lorne kept going, Carson stood there dumbfounded, for a few seconds. It wasn't the first or third time the Major had ignored him. He called out again and watched as the man continued on as if he didn't hear him. It took Carson a moment to decide before he found himself giving chase calling after the man -- still Lorne didn't turn around.
Around the corner from the elevator Lorne slowed down. It was just enough as Carson increased his pace. At the right second he was able to latch onto Lorne's arm, calling him even though he was slightly out of breath. "Excuse me, Major..."
Looking at the hand holding him, Lorne curtly replied. "What can I do for you?"
"Dincha hear me, Major? I was calling you."
"Well you got me, something I can do for you?"
Carson met Lorne's eyes, and for the life of him couldn't figure out why the major was behaving so oddly. The man rolled his eyes impatiently. For a brief moment Carson thought Lorne was about to snap out Doc, but at the last second he swallowed the familiar nickname – one Carson hadn't heard from Lorne in long time. "Look, I have things I need to do, was there something you needed?"
Whether or not he meant it, Lorne's words came out cold and abrasive. Taken back by the reaction Carson just shook his head and swallowed nervously, before he quietly replied. "No major."
Lorne didn't bother to hide his irritation and turned around leaving Carson standing there to stare at his back.
Carson was still standing there when John and Ronon came up behind him.
John leaned forward, peering around the corner in the direction he'd been staring. "Hey Doc, you waiting for someone?"
Flustered he answered, "What? No."
John shrugged, "Oh, all right."
He was about to take off when Carson stalled him. "Colonel, could you have major Lorne report to the infirmary. I'd like to have his hearing tested."
"Lorne? What did something happen?"
"Yes. No, not really."
"Ah Doc, you sound a little confused, want to tell me what's going on?"
"I would if I knew." He bit back then heard himself. Exhaling, Carson tried again and inhaled then exhaled, shaking off his irritation. "It was the major. I called out to him – several times and he kept going. Didn't seem to hear me but kept walking. Then when I caught up to the man, he was ..." Carson swallowed, and dropped his head as he replayed the scene in his head. "I dinnae know..." Carson trailed off, suddenly feeling like he was betraying Lorne, but the encounter did leave him confused like John had suggested -- confused and frustrated.
Carson looked up in time to see John and Ronon sharing a look. "What? You know what happened?"
John shrugged and looked away from Ronon, only to stare at the ground. Carson shifted his gaze to Ronon, waiting for an explanation.
The man held his gaze then shrugged and clearly stated, "You're back." Like that was the answer.
It only further confused Carson. However he knew Ronon never spoke frivolously; he cautiously asked, "From where?"
Something resonated with those words. As if some part of his self anticipated Ronon's answer. His anxiety climbed as Carson made the connection and his breath caught in his throat. Somehow this was because he wasn't the original Carson Beckett.
Finally he swallowed and turned away not knowing how to deal with this news.
"Doc, Carson, it's not really you..."
"Aye, I know, I'm only a poor copy, a 2.0 version."
John cleared his throat as he answered. "No, that's not what I meant."
Upset, Carson waved John away, and turned needing to make a speedy exit. Over his shoulder he replied. "No, need to explain Colonel. I get it, the Major preferred the original version." Saying it out loud, Carson felt a stab in his heart. It was peculiar. He liked the Major always had, but they had been no more than friends – even if he had on occasion wished otherwise.
He barely registered John's profanity. "Shit." However it was Ronon who reached out and stopped him from going any further.
John moved in front of him. "Okay, listen. I get you don't remember because for you it didn't happen."
Carson just stared at the man trying to decide if he wanted him to make sense or not.
"All right let's back up a bit. So we already established you're..."
Dryly Carson furnished for him. "Not the original Carson."
"Right, but you have the same history, the same memories?"
Apprehensively Carson nodded, waiting for the other shoe to fall.
"Okay, but that's up until M8G-352 from there, you and your original differ, right?"
"Yes, we've established that." Carson snapped.
"Well there you go." John stated smiling as if that cleared everything up.
Carson couldn't help but stare at the man, considering if he should run some tests on the man.
At Ronon's snort, he looked up to see Ronon shared his sentiments. Slightly pleased to know he wasn't the daff one.
His eyes still on John, Ronon filled in the missing blanks. "After M8G-352, Lorne and the original Beckett were together," He paused for a brief moment then added, "sharing the same quarters."
At the news, Carson's mouth gaped open then he stuttered out. "We did..."
Ronon nodded a confirmation, "You were happy."
Carson was stunned.
Quietly John offered his compassion, "See Doc, it's not about you really. Honestly we're happy to have you, but for Lorne..." he hesitated then added, "you're not the right one – understand?"
"I see." And for the first time, Carson did see.
John muttered out a sorry. Distractingly he replied, "No, no, thank you for telling me. Now if you'll excuse me."
Carson didn't wait for their reply, but started walking. He needed to think, his mind in a whirl as he replayed the earlier scene with Lorne.
From his first waking moments when he had been held in Michael's clutches up to his rescue, he had thought he was the original Carson Beckett -- instead his world had flipped on its axle. It had certainly been strange to find out he was a clone however no stranger than dealing with everyone else's weird glances. Everyone but Rodney had kept their distance.
Part of the problem was he felt like himself, had and was able to share all of his memories and experiences with Rodney or anyone who'd care to listen. Bitterly he corrected, but that wasn't the truth was it, he didn't live those moments. It was no more than an echo, downloaded information from the original Carson.
Although he didn't dispute their evidence or that his original died, but it wasn't until now that he faced a clear distinction from his original – one that mattered.
He wasn't sure how long he had been walking around, or when he had decided to face Lorne until he was standing in front of the man's door.
Nervous, his palms sweating profusely, Carson was about to change his mind and make a quick exit, when the door swished open, and he heard a startled, "What..."
"Oh Major..." but it came out more like a startled squeak. Clearing his throat Carson tried again, "Major, I was wondering if I could have a moment of your time."
It was obvious he had caught Lorne off guard where Lorne just stared at Carson – his pain evident.
Now it all made sense to him, Lorne's anger was nothing more than camouflage to deflect the look he saw in the man's eyes right now – a haunted look of losing a loved one.
Carson swallowed against the lump in his throat, realizing it was his very existence that was causing Lorne pain. John was right he wasn't the one Lorne wanted. "I won't keep you... I have a hard time living with regrets...." Inhaling Carson paused for a moment to gather courage before continuing then added with more conviction than he actually felt. "I just wanted you to know I understand. That from now on I'll stay out of your way. I'll reassign Dr. Keller to take over as your physician - for you and your team."
Lorne shifted just slightly that Carson caught a glimpse of the easel standing in the middle of the room behind Lorne. However it was what was on the easel that drew his attention, a portrait of him.
Lorne saw him staring and instead of being defensive and blocking him he moved just enough to give him a better view. Carson couldn't say why but the portrait propelled him forward. The next thing he knew he was standing in front of it staring at in awe. It wasn't just the likeness that got to him, or even Lorne's obvious talent, but it was what he saw in the eyes. Only it was a look he had never seen, grace his face: a man who was happy and deeply in love.
At that moment Carson couldn't deny that he was filled with envy.
Forcibly he turned away from the painting and met Lorne's gaze where his eyes shone bright with unshed tears. His own resolve crumbled under the weight of Lorne's pain and he moved to leave. At the doorway he paused, and choked out. "I'm terribly sorry for your loss."
He'd started to rush off when Lorne stopped him with one word, "Don't."
Carson stopped but was nervous to turn around, afraid of what he'd see in Lorne's face – hatred? Regret?
Lorne's voice was heavy with emotion as he continued. "Don't reassign me." Carson heard a rattle intake in Lorne's breath. "You're not him, but you share ... no regrets, okay?"
Carson nodded his own emotions close to the surface. "No regrets." Then he heard a swish and turned around to see Lorne was gone, back into the safety of his room. Tears escaped falling as Carson whispered, "Aye, no regrets."
Summary: Beckett doesn't understand why Lorne's trying to ignore him.