Pairing: Lorne/Sheppard pre-slash
Series: Dramatic Exit
Notes: Set immediately post-Return II, and follows Salve ad Domum, but reading that's not required. More stories in this series are in the works. Thanks to archae_ology for betaing.
Sequel: It's Character Forming.
John looked down from the balcony at the gate as a jumper slid through the wormhole, and as it rose he walked through the empty control room to the stairs to the jumper bay. The city was deserted except for his team, because O’Neill had flown the jumper back to Earth along with Elizabeth, Carson, and Woolsey to start organizing the expedition’s return and soothe ruffled feathers. It suited everyone just fine for John to stay in Atlantis, safely out of sight. Now a few essential personnel were being shuttled in, although most of the expedition and equipment were going to have to wait for the Daedelus.
Reaching the bay, he found that Rodney had beaten him there and was already dragging Zelenka towards the transporter. John couldn’t quite make out what he was saying, but he was pretty sure it was the same thing as it’d been for the last few days – “Three ZPMs! Increased computing power! Auxiliary shields, since when have we had auxiliary shields?!” He would have felt sorry for anyone else, but he knew the Czech was just as exited and experienced with dealing with Rodney in this sort of mood.
John saw Evan standing at the jumper’s ramp, watching the scientists with an amused smile on his lips. That smile wavered for a moment when he spotted John approaching, but then broadened. “Colonel.”
“Good to see you, Major,” John replied, nodding. He glanced into the jumper, where about a half-dozen familiar marines and airmen were crammed in with a bunch of supplies. “You too, guys.”
Evan turned around and told the men, “Stackhouse, go ahead and get things set up like we planned. Miller, as soon as they’re done, take the jumper back for the next round. The Colonel and I need to talk about a few things.”
John raised an eyebrow but walked along with Evan towards the stairs. They continued on in companionable silence until they reached the control room balcony. Leaning against the railing and looking out to sea, John said, “Work first. How are things going with getting the battalion back together?”
“Fairly well,” Evan replied after a moment, leaning beside John. “Most of the guys were on leave and not reassigned yet, so that worked out nicely. Captain Cadman’s still doing her thing with the marine cadets, but hopefully she’ll have us some new recruits by the time the ship leaves.”
“No trouble getting people to come back, then?” John asked hopefully.
“No, pretty much everyone we’d want back volunteered the instant I asked.” Evan waved a hand upwards towards the bay, and added with a little smirk, “Stackhouse was practically begging me to come the first trip, he was so antsy to get back.”
John smiled at that, because he knew about the sergeant’s on-again off-again relationship with one of the Athosian women, and was pretty sure Evan knew too. Turning around to lean on his back so he could see Evan’s face, John then asked in a cheerful tone, “So, how much trouble am I in?”
This time Evan frowned. “Depends on whom you’re talking about.”
“Oh, is there a list?” John’s grin only widened, and Evan sighed, obviously torn between frowning more and grinning back.
“Yes, there’s a list.” Evan started counting on his fingers. “Let’s see. There’s General Landry, who looks like he’s about to have a stroke every time your name gets mentioned. Quite a number of people at the Pentagon are calling for your head. Most of the SGC thinks you’re nuts, although SG-1 seems to find it amusing. Siler’s a bit peeved, but honestly he’s used to being shot at this point.” Evan tapped the side of the balcony wall, then added, “One of your team members was crying in a storage room.”
John finally had the good grace to look a bit guilty at that last remark. “They’re good guys, just a bit…clumsy. If any of them volunteer, make sure they get a space.”
“Oh, and then there’s me.” Evan took a step backwards and crossed his arms, glaring at John a bit.
“You?” John asked, confused. “What’d I do to you?”
“You left me behind!” John opened his mouth, but Evan cut him off. “Yes, I was off world, but you could have waited five more hours! Instead, I come back and Landry throws me in the brig. The only reason he didn't leave me there was that Caldwell and SG-1 vouched for me.”
John hung his head with a tired sigh. “There wasn’t time. You have to believe me, if we could have waited, we would have.” He could tell from the way that Evan pursed his lips that he wasn’t entirely buying it, and John couldn’t blame him. He wasn’t convinced himself that he would have stuck around longer than strictly necessary, because it had been pretty hard to wait long enough to come up with a plan.
“I suppose it worked out better this way, anyways,” Evan said when John didn’t add any more after a minute. “Landry’s now convinced that I’m a moderating influence on you. I get the feeling he wants a watchdog, too.”
“You are a good influence,” John said, with his grin returning. “I think I get paperwork filed twice as fast with you nagging me.”
Evan rolled his eyes and retook his place beside John. “Speaking of paperwork, I’ve got my tablet upstairs, with about three dozen forms that I need you to-” Evan stopped mid-sentence and jumped when John brush his hand against Evan's. John quickly withdrew the offending hand, first resting it against his side and then crossing his arms.
Evan quirked his eyebrow, and asked, “Didn’t we have a conversation about this before? I distinctly remember the phrases, “I’m flattered,” and “I’ll admit to being finding you attractive and liking you a lot,” followed by "but I’m sorry, it wouldn’t feel right dating someone under my command."”
John set his jaw and looked back, a defiant gleam in his eyes. “Yeah, but I changed my mind after we got back. We talked about it.”
“You talked about it, I was busy driving,” Evan retorted, trying to keep a straight face but failing as grin started to break through. “A, you were drunk at the time. B, we weren't in the same chain of command, but now we are again. C, you ran off to another galaxy. Excuse me for thinking I was getting mixed signals.”
"I left you a note," John protested, but before he could say more, Stackhouse's voice crackled on the radio.
“Uh, Colonel, Major, this is Stackhouse. I’m down on level thirty-four, and something I touched just started to glow and hum.”
John sighed, and touched his earpiece. “We’ll be there in a second.” Clicking it back off, he hesitated and then simply asked, “So, want to give it a shot?”
"All right,” Evan said after a moment, and as he turned and headed for the door, he said over his shoulder, “At the very least, it’ll work off some of your self-destructive tendencies in a way that doesn’t give me a heart attack.”