John’s buzzed but not drunk when he spots the guy at the other end of the bar. He holds John’s eye when John
catches his inadvertently and tilts his beer bottle at John like a salute. John matches the gesture and smiles, not looking
away until the other guy smiles back.
He glances round the bar, feeling stupid and paranoid: he’s an hour from
the base, in a backstreet bar where he’s never seen anyone he recognizes, but there’s something about the guy,
something maybe military, and John likes his job.
He’s done things more stupid than this, though, and it’s
the reason he came here, so when the guy takes the stool next to John’s and leans in to offer to buy him a drink, John
gives him his most charming smile and says thanks.
The guy – he doesn’t offer his name, and John’s
not asking – blows him in the men’s room, and John returns the favor. It’s the best he’s felt in weeks,
on his knees with his mouth on a stranger’s cock, the guy’s moans and curses falling round him.
you around,” the guy says after, sitting at the bar and watching John shrug on his coat, and John thinks, or not. He
says, “sure,” because he wasn’t raised to be anything other than polite, and leaves.
days later, back from his weekend pass off the base, John gets called into his CO’s office to meet their newest Major,
just promoted and sent to replace Jenkins, and ends up face to face with the guy from the bar.
He doesn’t even
know why he’s surprised.
“Major Lorne, Major Sheppard,” Colonel Mathers says, and they exchange handshakes.
John keeps his eyes firmly on Mathers until he shoos them out of his office with instructions for John to show the new guy
– Lorne – to his quarters then take him along to the officers’ briefing.
starts, but when he looks up, Lorne’s grinning at him, cheerful and a little shame-faced, and under it all, the same
look he gave John in the bar, and John laughs. “You’re stationed here too.”
Lorne agrees. He obviously finds the whole thing pretty funny, and he looks good in his dress blues, neat and perfectly pressed.
wants to take him somewhere and mess him up. “You want to see your quarters?” he asks, and Lorne grins.
not exactly friends with benefits, because they’re not exactly friends. John’s been on the base five months, there
to fly, and Lorne’s there to work with the cartographers.
Whatever they are, though, it’s got definite
benefits, not least of which is the constant threat of being caught. John’s always tried to keep it to other airmen
when he’s with men – less risk of getting turned in – but he gets the impression, after a couple of weeks,
that Lorne, for all of his knowing attitude, isn’t all that used to hiding the fact that he’s fucking someone
he works with.
It’s good, though, great sex and nothing serious, and at least Lorne can hold up his end of a
conversation if he needs to, even if he does profess to hate football. John’s convinced he can bring him round, and
if he can’t, conversation isn’t exactly essential.
Lorne’s been there three months when
two of his cartographers get taken captive while he’s out surveying with them. Lorne was the senior officer on the expedition,
so he gets called into Mathers’ office; Mathers can yell like no-one else John’s ever served under, and he doesn’t
He spends most of the next five days in the air, helping with the increasingly fruitless search effort,
so he doesn’t see Lorne again till the evening of the day that the bodies of the cartographers are returned.
heading for bed, cutting between two accommodation blocks, when he sees the shadow, leaning up against one building, his head
down, and he doesn’t know when it got so he’d recognize Lorne from his shadow, but he does. He contemplates, for
a few guilty moments, pretending he hasn’t seen him, because he’s not good at comfort, never has been, but in
the end he tells himself Lorne’s pretty observant and probably knows he’s there, and approaches him, making a
little extra noise. “Hey.”
“Major Sheppard,” Lorne says, and it’s usually a joke, but
not this time.
John gets close enough to touch, if he wants to. It’s too dark to see Lorne’s face, not
that it really matters – he already knows what grief and guilt look like on a person. “It wasn’t your fault,”
he says quietly, not because he expects it to make a difference, but because later on Lorne will remember hearing it and then
it will matter that someone said it. “There wasn’t anything you should have done differently. It’s going
to get better.”
“Fuck,” Lorne says on a shaky breath, and grabs John’s shirt and kisses him,
hard, pressed together in an indeterminate shape where no-one will see them.
A week later, Lorne’s gone,
no explanation. John gets a letter eventually, saying that he’s been re-posted to the deep space telemetry project in
Colorado, which John can completely see needing pilots, and that he’s going to be out of the country a lot, and hard
to get in touch with.
And that’s that.
Except, story of John’s life, it’s
The siege is over, Wraith seen off, at least for the foreseeable future, Ford gone, cleanup started and
all John wants to do is fall into bed and sleep until he can wake up and have it all be a bad dream. Instead, he’s standing
with Elizabeth and the IOA rep in the gateroom, waiting to be introduced to the guy who’s going to do his job while
he’s on Earth. He doesn’t let himself think about what happens after – that’s another thing he’s
hoping will turn out to be a bad dream.
They’re late, he knows, because the guy came through the gate with Everett
and his reinforcements, and he’s somewhere in the city helping put it back together, which is all very admirable, but
John’s seeing two of everything and wishing he could at least lean on something, and honestly, he’d rather the
guy was here on time, even if he’s off saving drowning orphans and their kittens.
“Sorry I’m late.”
might’ve been years, John still doesn’t need to look to know who’s attached to that voice. He can hear the
IOA representative introducing them – “Dr Weir, Major Sheppard, Major Lorne” – but apparently that’s
one too many crazy moments and his body drops him on the gateroom floor to be confined to bed by Beckett with exhaustion.
not exactly the reunion he would have imagined.
He’s too preoccupied on Earth with the thought of not
being allowed back, and then he’s too preoccupied on the Daedalus with his promotion and fighting off an alien
computer virus, so it’s not until he’s standing in Atlantis’ gateroom, being welcomed back – saluted,
and even John’s Marines have stopped doing that – by Lorne that he really thinks about the situation. About how
the guy he spent three months sneaking around an Air Force base with just became his XO, and it’s clear from Lorne’s
face, his salute, that he’s been thinking about it the way John obviously should have been.
her throat next to him and John returns Lorne’s salute, trying not to wince. He’s got to get it together, or this
is never going to work.
It’s possible it won’t work even then.
He doesn’t say anything
because he’s suddenly got a hell of a lot more mental distance from Lorne than he would in most other postings, what
with being ranking military officer for the base, and Lorne doesn’t say anything because he’s presumably got more
It’s Atlantis though, which means they’re barely unpacked before they run into Ford, which
slides smoothly into the Cadman craziness and they’ve got no choice but to fake a work-only relationship; by the time
McKay’s blown up most of a solar system, John’s been turned into a bug and back, and they’ve dallied with
Ford’s crew, they’re pretty much not faking any more, something between colleagues and friends.
when John gets himself trapped in an Ascension cult.
He’s got nothing but time in there, once he realizes
he’s not getting out unless he ascends, once it becomes obvious that the others can’t – won’t –
come for him. He tries not to think about Atlantis, because it doesn’t do any good, an unpleasant mix of regret and
anger, depending on the day. The truth is, he can’t stop: wondering whether Caldwell took over, who’s leading
his team now they’re not his team any more, if they started up the second round of civilian self-defense classes that
he and Lorne just finished plotting out. Whether, if by some miracle he manages to get back, he’ll find Atlantis empty
and dead, fallen prey to the Wraith or the Genii…
The rest of the time, it’s all regret: things he should
have done for Atlantis, for his people, things he can’t regret not saying because he knows he never would have, but
regrets not showing, somehow.
He doesn’t miss them, but that’s mostly because he’s still so fucking
angry at them for leaving him behind.
When Teer says she senses them, he can’t even speak, choked up with relief.
lasts until about five hours after he gets back to Atlantis, when Cooper asks him about a mission proposal he was going to
approve, and John can’t remember what she’s talking about.
No big deal, Cooper barely notices John’s
hesitation before he promises to get onto it, and goes on her way without a backward glance, leaving John in the middle of
the corridor, trying to get his head together.
No-one knows the truth, beyond his team and the command staff, though
it’ll be all round the base in hours after he came back with a beard he didn’t leave with. No-one knows, and he’s
got six months of memories stuffed between now and this morning, six months of things he expected to happen that no-one else
had time to think about.
He curbs his instinctive impulse to go looking for Caldwell, and makes his way to the military
residential quarters instead.
Lorne’s voice calls, “come in,” but the door slides open before
John can move, Lorne standing on the other side, bare foot in jeans and a white shirt, expectant. There’s a pause, then
Lorne’s expectant expression fades into something else and he says, “Is there a problem, sir?”
first inclination is to say no, because Lorne means Atlantis, means, how fast do you need me armed?, and Atlantis is fine,
as far as John can tell. His second inclination is to say yes, except he doesn’t know how to explain, doesn’t
What comes out of his mouth is, “I want you to fuck me,” and he watches Lorne’s face flicker
between confusion and want before he forces it blank.
“Excuse me?” he says, but he doesn’t step back;
the part of John’s brain not demanding to know where the hell *those* words came from takes that as a good sign.
I come in?” he asks. It’s getting late enough that people will be heading back to their rooms for the night, and
he doesn’t think either one of them wants this conversation overheard.
“Sure,” Lorne says, obviously
thinking the same thing, and steps back to let John inside.
That’s when it hits John just how odd the whole
situation is, and he finds himself standing blankly in the middle of Lorne’s obsessively neat – because some things
never change – quarters, Lorne leaning against the door and watching him apprehensively.
John says. “It’s just –“
“Been a weird day?” Lorne offers with a wry smile.
a weird six months,” John corrects. He thinks about it, decides what the hell, Lorne’s not the type to turn him
in to Caldwell, and says, “I meant it though.”
Lorne flushes, which John’s never seen him do before,
and shoves his hands in his pockets. “I’m not sure… Sir, I don’t think…”
think you can probably call me John for the purposes of this conversation,” John tells him, fighting a sudden mad urge
to laugh, until Lorne does it for him, shaking his head and losing his flush. “Look,” John says, “at the
risk of sounding like a teenage romance novel, we had a good thing going before, and I really have had an unimaginably shitty
few months, so I think the least you can do is take me up on my offer of really very good sex.”
lot of teenage romance novels in your time, have you?” Lorne asks, still laughing, but he rests his hands lightly on
John’s waist when John gets close enough, and kisses back with plenty of enthusiasm.
Later, lying on
Lorne’s bed, which really isn’t wide enough for both of them, mostly naked and still trying to catch his breath,
John says, “deep space telemetry, my ass,” and Lorne laughs.
He thinks no-one on Atlantis apart from possibly
Elizabeth, if she read their service histories that closely, even knows they knew each other before Atlantis, because they’ve
neither of them said a word about it, an unspoken agreement that everything that happened when they were together was best
avoided at all costs.
“If I’d said I was going through a wormhole to another planet to mine for trinium,
would you have believed me?” Lorne asks, which, OK, fair point, but still.
“I didn’t believe you’d
gone to work on a deep space telemetry project,” he says instead.
“Neither did I, when they asked me.”
Lorne turns his head to look at John. “Feeling better now?”
“Yeah, actually,” John admits.
Less crazed, more like…
“Good,” Lorne says and rests his hand high on John’s thigh.
More like he’s up for round two.