danagryphon: (PotA)
[personal profile] danagryphon
Title: The Lies That They Gave You, Chapter 1
Author: Gryph ([livejournal.com profile] gryphon2k)
Artist: Tarlan ([livejournal.com profile] tarlanx)
Fandom: Planet of the Apes (TV)
Characters/Pairings: Pete Burke/OFC, Alan Virdon, Galen, Sally Virdon, Chris Virdon
Rating/Category: Rated R, Het slash
Genre: action, homecoming
Word Count: 3,999 (11,338 total)
Warnings off-screen torture
Summary: When the astronauts and Galen find a way to return to Earth of the past, things don't go quite the way they had hoped. And things are not quite what they seem.
Notes: Written for [livejournal.com profile] smallfandombang. Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] kassidy62 as always for being my beta-reader, cheerleader, and fellow PotA nut. I was also thrilled that [livejournal.com profile] tarlanx chose to do some beautiful art for my story.

Link to art master post: AO3

Chapter 1

Chapter 2
Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, "It might have been.”

Virdon paced the room, unable to sit still. Forcing himself to stop and take some deep breaths, he moved to the sideboard, past the carafe of coffee, to a metal pitcher covered with condensation. He flipped the paper cover off one of the heavy-bottomed glasses and poured it full of ice water. His hand shook as he raised the glass to his lips, but after gulping down half of it, he felt a little calmer.

Thirty-two years. Thirty-two years. He couldn’t wrap his mind around it. From his perspective, only two years had passed, most of that stranded in the future version of Earth that still haunted his nightmares. When he’d learned that that reality was 3085, more than a thousand years after he’d left Earth on a sunny day on Cape Canaveral, he'd imagined his family living out the rest of their lives without him and bitterly mourned that lost time. But he'd also vowed to return to them so that his family would not pass the remainder of their days wondering what became of him.

When he dreamed of the day he was reunited with his wife Sally and his son Chris, they were still the way he'd left them. As time passed for him, his imagination aged them the same amount. Maybe he wouldn't return to them the day after he'd left on the mission, or even by the original six months, but within a year, two years tops, of their time. Chris would still be the little boy overjoyed at his father's homecoming, snatched into a tight hug, spun off his feet and deposited on Alan's shoulders. Sally would still be young and beautiful, and he could watch the melancholia melt from her smile when they embraced.

Instead, his wife—assuming she was still his wife and had not remarried—was an old woman of almost seventy. And his son... his son was a grown man, the same age he was.

Virdon’s eyes stung, but he scrubbed them with a shaky hand and took another swallow of water.

At least they were alive, and he could be part of the rest of their lives.

The door to the conference room rattled. Virdon quickly put the glass on the table, wincing at the heavy thud when it hit harder than he'd intended. His heart thudded just as hard in his chest.

The door slowly opened. A tall, stocky man entered and closed the door quickly behind him, hanging onto the knob with one hand behind his back as he leaned against the door. His blond hair was trimmed short, as was his beard. But the shape of the face was familiar.

“Alan?” The baritone voice was tentative, heavy with emotion.

Virdon’s world tilted off its axis, the room retreating into an unfocused background as his vision narrowed to the man before him. “Chris?”

Chris Virdon’s throat worked, his jaw trembled. Thirty years melted away, and the man who was taller and broader in the shoulders and chest than Alan suddenly became a young boy who missed his father. “Dad—,” his voice broke, and he strode forward to pull Alan into a fierce hug. “Dad,” he said again, his voice muffled into Alan’s neck, “Oh my god, Dad. I can’t believe it’s you. I can’t believe you’re home.”

Alan just held onto his son as the minutes stretched by, afraid that he would disappear if he let go. When they pulled apart, Alan wrapped a hand around the back of his son's neck. “I can't believe you're taller than me!” he exclaimed, pulling smiles from both of them, but his was short-lived. “God, Chris, I... I missed so much. I want to hear everything. But first, where's your mom? Where's Sally?” His eyes pinched with worry. “Is she... she's okay, right?”

Chris stepped back and blew out a deep breath. “Yeah, she's fine, she's waiting outside.” His eyes dropped, and he scuffed his foot just like the ten-year-old boy Alan remembered. “It's just that she's—”

Alan's heart sank. “She's remarried, isn't she?”

Chris jerked back. “What? No! No, it's not that.” He grabbed both Alan's arms. “Look, Alan, Mom's... she's almost seventy. She thinks she's too old... that you'll only see an old woman, and not your wife.” He shook his head. “She never gave up on you, even after NASA declared you dead. She said you’d be back some day, because you had to see...”

“See what?”

“I should let Mom tell you.”

Alan looked past Chris, at the door. “I want to see her so much, Chris. I don’t care how old—” his voice broke again, and he struggled to get the words out. “I love her. She’ll always be my wife, for as long as she’ll have me. Please convince her to come in, would you?”

Chris nodded and, with a final reassuring squeeze of Alan’s arm, left. Alan gripped the back of a chair to quell the shaking of his hands and to steady himself as the room spun. A trickle of sweat ran down his back. Sally. He was finally going to see his Sally.

Except she wasn’t really his Sally anymore. The concerns that Chris had aired weighed on his mind. Would he really be able to think of this old woman as his wife? All he knew was that his heart swelled at the thought that in a few moments, they would be reunited.

The door swung open again, and she was there, peering shyly into the room, hovering on the threshold.

Tears welled in Alan’s eyes, and the ache that had settled in the pit of his stomach released its hold. He gulped lungfuls of air to ease the tightness in his chest. “Sally.” He barely got the name out.

Sally Virdon’s face lit up. “Oh, Alan!”

They came together in a rush, clinging to each other, repeating the other’s name over and over.

Sally pulled away first but still held on her husband. “Alan, I have something important to tell you. Something I didn’t know about when you left.”

Confusion blossomed on his face. “What is it, Sal?” But he was distracted by trying to drink in the sight of her, to stroke her hair, now snowy instead of pale blonde.

Sally turned slightly and pulled forward the unnoticed woman who had trailed in behind her. Virdon did a double take when he got a good look at her face. She was young, younger than Chris, but had the same flaxen hair he remembered on Sally. In fact, her entire countenance was eerily similar to a younger version of his wife.

“Alan, this is Allison. She’s... she’s our daughter.” Sally’s uncertain smile turned quickly to concern as Alan staggered backward only to be held up by the strong arms of his son. Chris helped him into a chair.

“Daughter? When? How?” he sputtered.

Sally laughed. “My memory is thirty years older than yours, but surely you remember the night after the White House reception. You know, before you went into quarantine for the mission?”

Virdon blinked a few times. Their last night together had been filled with desperate passion, an attempt to make up for a seven-month absence. “But after Chris, the doctors said—”

“I know what they said. Obviously they were wrong. She’s our miracle, Alan.” Sally reached over and squeezed Allison’s hand. “She’s the reason I knew you would come home some day.”

“Mom,” Allison drawled, the tone complaining. She pulled over another chair and sat in front of Virdon. “Hi, Alan. Dad.” She paused, clearly uncomfortable. “Sorry, that’s going to take a little getting used to.”

“I’ll agree with that!” Virdon exclaimed. He took a calming breath. “Allison.” He rolled the name on his tongue. “I have a daughter.” He looked up at Sally with a wide-eyed expression then tilted his head to the side with a smile. “We have a daughter. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”
******

“Pete?” Virdon knocked on the door frame of the lounge where Burke and Galen were watching television. Burke looked up from trying to explain situation comedies to Galen.

“Hey, Alan, how did things go?”

“See for yourself. Sally and Chris wanted to say hello.” He stepped to the side and ushered his family into the room.

Burke approached Sally Virdon carefully, like he was afraid he was going to break her if he rushed her. “Sally?” he asked with a smile.

“Hey, Pete,” she exclaimed, pulling him into a hug. Her voice was choked with emotion. “Welcome home.”

His eyes grew wide when he spotted Chris over her shoulder. Sally relinquished her hold, only for him to be enveloped by the larger man. “Damn, Chris, you got big!”

“Thanks, Uncle Pete. Thanks for bringing Dad home,” he spoke softly in Burke’s ear while he thumped him on the back.

The final member of Virdon’s family made Burke’s brow furrow. “What are you doing here, Allison?”

“This is my daughter, Pete.” Virdon sounded as confused as Burke felt.

“Daughter?” His expression darkened as he turned toward her. “So, Allison Virdon? That’s not what you told me.”

“Mom’s maiden name is Hayes. It’s not easy working for the government while being the daughter of one of NASA’s infamous lost astronauts.”

“You could have told me!”

“Wait a minute, wait a minute,” Virdon interrupted. “This is the woman you were talking about putting the moves on? My daughter?” His voice rose in volume, as the color rose high in his cheeks.

“Well, she didn’t bother to tell me she was your daughter!” Burke threw back at him, his posture turning defensive.

“And if she had, would you have kept it in your pants?”

Allison stepped between them, putting hands on both their chests. “Knock it off, both of you!” She turned toward Virdon. “Alan, I may be your daughter, but I’m not a little girl. I’m thirty-one, the same age as Pete. I know you need time to adjust to the idea, but don’t start out on the wrong foot.” She rounded on Burke next. “And can you imagine your reaction if I had told you that my father was your best friend? Besides, you weren’t putting the moves on me,” she finished smugly. “I grew up hearing all about you, Peter Burke,” she glanced sideways at her mother, who rolled her eyes, “and how you could charm the socks off of everyone. Can you blame me for wanting to get to know you better?”

A cough broke up the tableau. Galen shuffled toward them.

“You must be Galen,” Allison stuck her hand forward, pointedly ignoring the two men. “I’m Allison. Nice to finally meet you.”

Galen clasped her hand between his fingers, like he wasn't sure what to do with it once he had ahold of it. “Allison. I didn't know Alan had a daughter.”

She chuckled. “Neither did he. I was an 'oops.' Mom didn't even know she was pregnant when he left on the mission.” She gestured to the rest of her family behind her. “Galen, this is my mother, Sally Virdon. And the big burly guy is my brother, Chris.”

Each of them shook Galen's hand in turn. Chris stared at Galen, an enormous grin on his face. After a moment, he realized he was staring and dropped his eyes with a nervous laugh. “Sorry, Galen. It's just so fascinating to find out about another civilization developing from the ruins of ours. I'm a cultural anthropologist, and the chance to find out about a non-human culture is just... it's just amazing,” he rambled. “I'd love to pick your brain sometime about it all.”

A horrified look crossed Galen's face. “Pick my brain? Is that like the brainwashing that Pete told me about?”

Burke and Virdon exchanged a knowing look, and both men began to smile. The tension was broken for the time being, but Burke had a feeling that he and Virdon were going to have some long, uncomfortable talks in their future.
******

Burke twitched in his sleep, floating in that hazy void where, even though he knew he was dreaming, the circumstances felt viscerally real. He, Virdon, and Galen were running from a gorilla patrol, an all too common occurrence during their time in the future. Burke could feel the burning of his leg muscles, the pain in his side as his chest heaved, the sting as branches and brambles slapped and snatched at his face and hands. He could smell the stench of his own unwashed body made more pungent by fresh sweat, the muskiness of Galen trotting upwind. He could hear the beating of the horses' hooves and the grunting yells of the pursuing soldiers. In his bed in 2012, his body jumped and jerked as adrenalin surged through him.

In the dream, Virdon whistled loudly and pointed toward a vine-covered cliff. Then he disappeared when he pulled apart some of the foliage and slipped between the thick mat. Burke angled toward the wall, Galen right next to him. He yanked a handful of  branches aside to find an empty space behind them instead of solid rock. He held the plants open while Galen ducked past, then stepped within and rearranged the leaves from the inside to hide the disturbance.

The filtered sunlight penetrated enough for them to see that the cave extended deeper, disappearing into inky gloom. With a jerk of Virdon's head, the three of them trotted further back, hoping that the darkness would hide them should the gorillas discover the secret cavern. They listened for long minutes, holding themselves still and silent, until the sound of the hoofbeats drew nearer and then faded. Once they breathed a collective sigh of relief, they began exploring the cave.

When Virdon discovered a rusted metal door set in the wall, Burke assumed they'd stumbled onto another ancient bomb shelter, like the one Farrow had hidden them in after the crash. But when they opened the door, a bright light blinded him momentarily. The noise of machinery hummed through him; the way it enveloped him and throbbed painfully on his eardrums was like diving into deep water. Despite the discomfort, he stepped inside, unable to resist the lure of technology. Electricity meant machines, and machines could mean computers. And with computers, the possibility of a ship or the ability to make one became very real.

Even as he exchanged a wide-eyed look of wild hope with Virdon, the noise intensity began to rise. It quickly passed uncomfortable into painful, as the almost subliminal rumble became a high pitched squeal, then started cycling like a klaxon. He covered his ears, shouted his friends' names, and watched their lips move as they called his name in return. They doubled over in pain, and the edges of his vision began to gray.

“Pete!” The buzzing sound ceased abruptly, so completely that he though perhaps he'd gone deaf. But then someone called his name again. “Pete! Wake up!”

He jarred awake, his arms flailing aimlessly to be caught and held by his companion. He jerked upright, his lungs heaving, wildly searching for the source of danger, then flopped back onto the bed. The pillow and sheets felt damp beneath his back and neck. Allison still held his wrists, her tousled blonde hair brushing across his chest.

“You're okay. You're safe. You're home,” she crooned. She released his arms and cupped his face, rubbing soothing circles over his temples. “That was some nightmare. Urko?”

He'd had many nightmares in the first couple of weeks after they'd started sharing a bed on an almost nightly basis. In the last month, they had faded in intensity and frequency. While they usually featured the big gorilla general and sometimes other apes like the sadistic Wanda, this one was different. But the details were already fading from his memory.

He took a deep breath and blew it out, willing his racing pulse to slow. He raised his trembling hands to caress her shoulders in reassurance. “Sorry.” He shook his head to clear away the last of the panic. “I don't remember.”

She searched his face, looking for lingering traces of the terror that had wrenched them both from sleep. “You sure you're okay?” Concern creased her forehead.

He flashed a quick smirk, knowing it was a half-hearted. “Yeah, I'm fine.” His hands wandered south, brushing her breast, and the grin spread, now more genuine. “Feeling better by the minute, in fact. But there's always room for improvement.” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

When she slapped playfully at his hands, he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her tighter as he closed his eyes and made pleased humming noises.

His companion shook with mirth. “Pete. I need to get up and go to work,” Allison reminded him, even as she dropped soft kisses on his collarbone every few words. “Maybe you get to lie around being a man of leisure, but some of us have to earn a living.”

He peeled open on eye, then swooped in to capture her lips, running his hand down her spine and raising gooseflesh on her skin. When he broke the kiss, he brushed her hair back from her face. “Not today. I promised Galen I’d take him shopping again. He wants to get some new clothes for the warmer weather.”

Allison smiled as she pushed herself off him and sat on the edge of the bed. “More new clothes?” she chuckled.

“Yeah, who knew apes could be such clothes horses?” Burke reached over to retrieve his cell phone from the bedside table. “Do you know he even has shoe designers falling over themselves making custom shoes for those big monkey feet of his? When he finally moves off the base, he’s going to need a three bedroom place. One for him, one for his clothes, and one for his shoes.”

As Allison padded into the bathroom, Burke admired the view before scrolling through his short list of contacts to find Galen’s number. He tapped the screen to begin the call as the sound of running water and a cloud of steam came from the bathroom. He listened to the phone ring on the other end, then switch over to voice mail.

“Hello!” Galen’s excited voice exclaimed. He could hear his own voice in the background urging Galen to say something more, to state his name. “Oh, this is Galen. If you are getting this recording—isn’t it marvelous?—then I suppose that means I’m too busy to answer this telephone. But when it beeps at you in a moment, you can record a message of your own, and I will listen to it. Oh, and I’ll return your call.”

Burke was still smiling when the promised beep came. “Hey Galen, it’s Pete. I just wanted to make sure we were still on for our shopping trip today. I’ll be over there around,” he peered at the bedside clock to check the time, “ten. Lunch is your treat this time!” He closed the call, and deposited the phone back on the table. With an impish grin, he made his way on quiet feet into  the bathroom. As he pulling back the curtain to the shower, denser steam rolled through the small space. He stepped into the tub and pressed up against Allison’s wet, slippery back. He was going to do his very best to make her late for work.
******

Burke whistled as his long legs ate up the sidewalk from his car to the front door of the Langley facility. He pulled open the heavy glass door to a blast of cool air that felt wonderful after the brief walk in the building heat of the morning. He didn’t remember June being quite so hot in the DC area, but the air held a promise of scorching temperatures by midday. 

He flashed his military ID card at the guard and was waved through to the elevator. He’d tried to call Galen again from the car on the drive over and once again got voice mail. He hoped the chimp hadn’t forgotten in the week since they’d last talked. He was waiting for the elevator when a man in a dark business suit jogged up to him.

“Major Burke.”

Burke took a step back and turned to face the agent. He didn’t need to see the man’s ID to know he was a spook; the nondescript, attention-deflecting dark suit was like a uniform with these people. “Yes?”

“I have a message for you from Galen.” The man’s expression was unreadable.

“What is it?”

“He’s feeling under the weather and doesn’t want to be disturbed.”

Burke pursed his lips. Galen was sick? “I just tried to call him a few minutes ago and he didn’t answer. Is it serious?” He remembered from his training that without the immunity present in the general population of a new place, even the most innocuous diseases could be deadly. It had been one of his and Virdon’s biggest concerns—that either they would expose the humans of the future to a deadly virus they carried, or they would catch something themselves.

“No, sir, nothing serious. Perhaps he was resting and didn’t hear the phone.”

Burke reached forward to push the button again to summon the elevator, which had mysteriously gone dark. The agent grabbed his arm, and his voice dropped into a dangerous register. “He asked not to be disturbed, Major.”

Before Burke could shake off the agent’s grip, the elevator he’d summoned arrived with a ding, and the door began to slide open. Except behind it wasn’t an elevator car.

The space behind the doors opened into a larger room, poorly lit, that had a crowd in dark business suits. From the middle of the knot, he caught glimpses of a form prone on a table. A scream echoed off the walls of the chamber as a hairy hand thrust through the press of bodies, the fingers opening and closing convulsively.

“Galen!” Burke shouted. He tried to rush the door, only to be blocked by the agent. The men and women surrounding the chimpanzee turned to look at him with surprised looks. One of them moved out of sight, and the elevator door slid closed.

Burke struggled to push past the agent, who spun him around and slammed him into the wall next to the elevator bank. A strong forearm pressed against his throat. He lashed out with fists and feet, knocking the agent backward. The guards from the front reception area were running toward the scuffle. He had to get out of there, or he wasn’t going to be able to help Galen.

He began running, dodging around the first guard like he was shaking off a tackle. The second had better reflexes and got a hand on his arm. Burke punched the man in the throat; he went down hard, gasping and coughing. Continuing across the lobby, Burke heard footfalls behind him. A quick glance confirmed more agents coming from the elevator that wasn’t an elevator.

He hit the bar across the glass door and pushed hard, escaping into the heat. Retracing his steps from just a few minutes ago, he jumped over the door of his convertible and slammed the fob into the ignition as he slid into the seat. The engine roared to life and the tires squealed as he drove away.
******

“Sir, we have a situation.” The voice was panicky.

“What?”

“It's Burke. He's suspicious. I did predict that pushing the program too fast could wreck the whole thing.”

“We need that information from the ape. Plans have been set in motion. Time is of the essence.” Strident impatience.

“I understand, sir, but now Burke is rejecting the reality of the program.”

“Damn.” Pause. “Neutralize him. Keep him within the construct, but isolate him from the other two.”

“Yes, sir.”

Continued in Chapter 3
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