Haunted

~2300 words :: Jude Law/Ewan McGregor :: 8/7/06
As a scavenger, Ewan’s used to finding weird shit on old ships, but he’s never seen anything like this before. (Note: This is a mashup of Ruth’s EVA and Maneuvers written for Fandom Mashup.)


The ship is old, huge, one of those colonisation ships Ewan’s only seen in history lessons. There’s no colony here, though, or if there is, it’s not official. From the looks of things, the planet’s inhospitable, but not uninhabitable – he doesn’t even have to wear a breather – so maybe there is a settlement hidden somewhere.

Ewan could do with some company other than Pertwee. It’s been weeks since he’s seen anyone else, and even then, the last two stops they made were just quick refuellings. They haven’t the money for anything else, which is not Ewan’s fault, no matter what fucking Pertwee says.

The job before this, that was fucked from the beginning. A complete waste of time. And the one before that, they’d had a good haul only to find the little weasel who hired them lying in wait to rob them blind when they got back.

“You sure know how to pick ’em,” Pertwee’d said, sounding more resigned than anything else, but how was Ewan supposed to know? And if Pertwee could do so much better, why the fuck doesn’t he get the jobs himself?

As if on cue, the comlink crackles and Pertwee’s voice in his ear says, “What’ve we got?”

“Late-model colonisation ship,” Ewan says. “I’m not inside yet, but the outside looks to have held up pretty well. Here’s hoping there’s something salvageable in there.”

“There’d better be. I can’t afford another fuckup.”

The comlink goes dead before Ewan can respond. Fucking Pertwee. He’s just looking for an excuse to ditch Ewan now, and even if this job netted them a million credits, he’d still find a reason. Not that Ewan would mind, maybe. Staying on-planet’s right out, but there are plenty of other jobs like this, plenty of pilots who’d hire him for his looks alone and be pleasantly surprised that he had any skills to speak of. What the fuck does he care about Pertwee?

As he gets closer, Ewan can see a half-open hatch on the underside of the ship. His is not normally the most physically demanding of jobs, and it takes a few tries to haul himself up on platform. And then he’s got to get right back down again because all the wriggling and flailing managed to knock his torch off his belt and God only knows whether the generators will still be working after all this time.

He drops back to the ground, grabs the torch, and manages to make it back up on the first try this time.

Shoving the torch back into his belt, he scrambles up the ramp, twice sliding back, but managing to catch himself on the hydraulic pole before falling off completely. After the second time, he decides a new tactic is in order and, bracing himself against the pole, stretches up to grab the edge of the floor. He can just reach it if he stands on tiptoe and jumps up a bit.

Clearly it’s useless to try and pull himself up from here, but if he can hang on long enough… Yes, there. He’s managed to inch over far enough that his toes are touching the ramp again. A bit more and he’s standing properly, and then it’s easy enough to walk up the ramp using the floor as a sort of handrail.

About halfway there, he swings one leg up and rolls onto the floor. He lies on his back and stares up into the darkness. His lungs are aching from the planet’s thin air and it takes forever for him to catch his breath. He keeps expecting to hear Pertwee’s voice in his ear demanding an update, but the comlink stays silent.

When his sweat’s dried and his breathing’s evened out, Ewan rolls onto his belly and pushes himself up. The floor is thick with dust; his jumpsuit’s probably coated with it. Not that it matters. No one here to see him anyway.

It’s a good job he’d gone back for his torch, though, because even right here by the hatch, the faint light from outside barely makes a dent in the darkness. The sudden light when he switches it on hurts his eyes and he squints as he looks around.

Typical ship hangar, empty for the most part, though there’s a couple skimmers in a corner and he makes a note to take a look at them once he’s explored the rest of the ship. If they’re in working order or look to be reparable, that alone could make the trip worth it.

It takes him a while to find the control room – he’s never been in a ship this big before – and once there, it takes him even longer to find the switch for the main generator. Nothing happens when he flips it, but the backup generator works, and nearly gives him a heart attack when it powers up.

He shields his eyes against the flickering lights and shuts off the torch, shoves it back in his belt. He unzips his pocket and digs out his handheld, leaning against the wall as he waits for the screen to come on. After jotting down a few notes about the ship, he sketches out a quick map. If his estimate of the dimensions is correct, he came through a good third of the ship before finding the control room. The place seems pretty empty, though, which is not a good sign. Of course a lot of that was wrong turns and rooms he’d just poked his head in, and he’ll have to go back anyway and look things over with the lights on to make sure he hasn’t missed anything that might be valuable.

The ship itself looks to be in pretty good condition, though. They can’t haul away something this big, but if they could find an interested party, maybe they could earn some extra cash by pointing him this way. It’s useless to them, after all; Pertwee’s a good pilot, but he hasn’t any experience flying a monster like this, and Ewan’s not good with anything over a single-occupancy craft.

Slipping his handheld back in his pocket, he pushes off from the wall and runs his fingers through his hair, trying to decide on the best course of action. He should probably check out the rest of the ship first, then come back and give the other rooms a more thorough going-over on his way out.

When he finally hears from Pertwee again, he’s pleased to be able to report that the ship’s not as empty as he’d first thought.

“Sick bay’s still well-stocked,” he says, his voice echoing through the room. “Even a small stash of stim. Dunno if the doctor was a junkie, or if he’d confiscated it or what. Bloody odd, though, but fuck if I’m complaining.”

“You’d better not be shooting up, McGregor, or I’ll fucking dock your pay.”

“‘Course I’m not,” Ewan snaps. He rubs his arm. “You know I wouldn’t fuck with you.”

“Sure you wouldn’t. Anyway, that shit’s gotta be ancient.”

“I should let you try it first and make sure it’s still good, eh? I’m not- Fuck, this one’s locked.”

It’s the first door Ewan’s come across that wasn’t at least partially open, much less actually locked. Ignoring Pertwee’s “What’s going on?”, he presses the button again, hoping it’s just stuck.

Nothing.

“There must be something good in here, fuck.” Ewan gives the door a kick. “Why else would they lock it?”

“Why would someone abandon an entire colonisation ship? Who knows what the fuck happened.”

“Point,” Ewan concedes. “Still…”

“Yeah, well, I wasn’t suggesting you give up,” Pertwee says, and Ewan can practically hear him rolling his eyes. “Give me a buzz when you’ve got something to report.”

The comlink crackles for a moment and goes silent and Ewan curses Pertwee under his breath. “Why the fuck do I have to do all the work?”

Unzipping another pocket, he notes how filthy his jumpsuit’s got. God only knows how many years of dust have built up in here. His hands are coated in it and he wipes them off on his arse. Doesn’t do a bit of good.

He drops to his knees, spreading his toolkit open on the floor. It’s easy enough to pry the control panel open and get to the wires. He’s pleased to find it’s nothing he hasn’t seen before. It takes only a few moments to find the right wire to cut. This time when he slaps his hand against the button, the door slides right open.

The silence feels oppressive now, and he almost wishes he still had the connection open. Even Pertwee’s bitching would be better than nothing. His knees crack as he stands. The clink of his toolkit as he drops it into his pocket nearly makes him jump.

He swallows and pokes his head inside. “Fucking hell…”

Row upon row of cryo chambers fill the room. He should have expected it. Colonisation ships like this, that’s how they operated. It’s not old enough to have come from Earth, but it came from somewhere pretty damn far away; of course the passengers would have been frozen.

They’re empty. All empty. Whatever happened to these people, it happened after they were thawed. Except that one, he thinks, shuddering as he passes one with a freeze-dried husk inside. Can’t even tell if it was a man or a woman.

When he looks up from the corpse, he frowns, rubs his eyes, but the light a couple chambers down is still blinking steadily. It wasn’t when he came in, he’s sure. Or even just now before he looked down. He would have noticed. He would’ve thought it strange.

There shouldn’t be any blinking lights, especially not green ones. Green means fine and dandy, and you can’t be fine and dandy after God knows how many years with the power off.

It must be a loose wire. Something got fucked up when he fiddled with the door, or maybe it was already fucked.

It’s not only the status light. The inside of the chamber is lit, too, so all Ewan sees when he bends down to take a look is his own reflection. His hair sticking up every which way and his cheeks are flushed under the smudges of dirt. His eyes are wide, pupils dilated. Have to do something about that before Pertwee sees him.

He cups his hands to the glass and looks in and a voice says, “McGregor.”

He’s in the middle of a fucking heart attack before he realises it’s just Pertwee. “Christ, you startled me.”

“Aw, is ickle Ewan scared?”

“Fuck you.”

“The sooner you get back here…”

“Yeah, yeah,” Ewan says, smiling despite himself. He bends down again, peering into the cryo chamber. “I-”

No fucking way.

It’s Jude. Impossibly perfect as always, and now impossibly here. Impossibly alive, and not a mummy like that other bloke (or woman, whatever).

“Jesus fuck,” he breathes.

“McGregor?”

“I- My God, there’s a-” Ewan straightens up, one hand over his mouth, the other braced against the chamber. His lungs hurt again and his heart’s beating so fast, he’s sure it’s going to give out at any moment. The glass is hot beneath his hand. “My God…”

“You okay? What the fuck’s going on?”

“I can’t, I don’t…”

The last thing he hears before he disconnects the comlink is, “Ewan? What-”

He rips it off his ear, lets it clatter to the ground. Blood pounding in his head, he presses his face to the glass. His breath fogs it up and he rubs it clean with his sleeve.

It’s Jude, no doubt about it. Perfect like the last time Ewan saw him: messy curls, long lashes fanning out on his cheeks, lips slightly parted. He looks well-fucked more than anything else.

It’s Jude, but it can’t be. This ship’s from God knows when and God knows where and there’s no way it can be Jude, but it is.

Ewan doesn’t know what to do. The glass is burning his hands. He can’t look away. He says, “Jesus fuck,” and Jude opens his eyes and there’s a rushing sound in Ewan’s ears, so loud he’s sure he’s going to go deaf.

Jude is blinking slowly and then he’s across the room, across the club, dancing with some stupid blonde bint while Ewan sulks in the corner and nurses a drink. He’s high on stim, laughing and looking over to make sure Ewan’s watching. Back then it was always Jude who was hopped up.

The more pissed off Ewan gets, the more Jude flirts with everyone but him, or maybe it’s the other way round. Either way, they’re both wound up so tight by the time they reach Ewan’s flat, the door’s barely slid shut behind them before Ewan has him up against the wall. Neither of them say a word.

His hands on Jude’s hips are burning, burning on the glass.

He’s looking straight at Jude again, through glass fogged by his breath. He wonders if Jude is breathing on the other side. Without moving his mouth, without fogging the glass, Jude says, “It doesn’t have to end like that.”

Ewan’s fingers tremble on the latches. The last one sticks and he starts to panic. He’s shuddering, puking his guts up. Jude’s the one puking and it’s bright red with blood and Ewan’s holding Jude through it, too drunk and too scared to call for help.

“No. No, don’t…fuck you, don’t!”

The glass is cold and dark. The last latch clacks open and the chamber is empty. Ewan slides to the floor, stomach still seizing with dry heaves. He can hear footsteps pounding down the corridors, Pertwee yelling his name.

He runs his hand over his arm, making sure his sleeve’s down. He’s already thinking of excuses. It’s not his fault.