Title: Spiraling Towards Disaster
Pairing: Lorne/Sheppard, referenced McKay/Sheppard
Series: Dramatic Exit
Notes: Beta'd by archae_ology
. This turned out way longer than expected. Set at various points through Seasons 2 and 3.
Summary: Evan never intended for something like this to happen, and he knows it can't possibly end well. It just sort of took on a life of its own.
The first time Evan Lorne met John Sheppard, it was in a quiet bar in Colorado Springs, just after he'd gotten home from mission. Evan didn't go out a lot, too busy with work to have the time, and he didn't put much effort into seeking out other guys when he did. He'd never been one for casual sex, and there was always a certain paranoia lurking in his brain. It wasn't as risky as it had been when he'd first joined up, and the SGC was rather more flexible than most posts about that sort of thing, thanks to some Asgard 'suggestions' regarding policy, but he still didn't want to risk the best thing that had ever happened to him. Somehow, though, that night he ended up sitting across the table from a guy named John, nursing a drink and smiling like mad. Evan wasn't even sure what'd made him join John - maybe it was the absurd hair, or the sly grin, or just something in his voice. All Evan knew was that by the time they'd left, after a couple hours talking about flying and Firefly and long-term deployments, he was already moving from attraction to full-blown crush.
The next morning, he woke up to find himself alone in bed, pleasantly relaxed and loose-limbed after a night of energetic sex. He was a little disappointed that John was gone, but not too surprised. He was surprised, though, when he left the bedroom and found John really was still there and was making pancakes.
"Good morning," John said cheerfully, setting out a plate for him. "You were still asleep, but I figured you'd want something to eat."
"Thanks," Evan said, a little dazed. He'd almost forgotten he had pancake mix around, given that he almost never had a chance to actually cook in the morning. "You really didn't have to."
"Naw, it's no trouble." John sat down across from him and started to eat. "'Sides, might be the last good meal I get for a while?"
"How's that?" Evan asked. He hesitantly took a bite - after all, who knew if any of the ingredients had actually been within their use-by dates - and nearly fell out of his chair. The only reason he didn't drop to his knees and profess true love on the spot was that it'd have meant moving away from his plate.
"I'm being deployed. Leaving this afternoon, actually."
"Oh. Damn." That seemed to be the way Evan's life went usually, but it never stopped being disappointing. "How long are you going to be gone?"
"I'm not sure. Could be a few days, could be months or a couple years." John's grin wavered for a moment, like he wasn't sure he liked the thought of that. "Don't ask where I'm going. You wouldn't believe me even if I could tell you."
"You'd be surprised." Evan hesitated, worked up his courage, and asked, "I was wondering. You want to maybe look each other up when you get back?"
John's lips quirked up. "I'd like that."
After John left and reality started to reassert itself, Evan knew that he'd probably never see the other man again. Besides, it wasn't like they really had a chance anyways. Relationships between people in the SGC, and especially people on SG teams, with people outside of the program tended to be difficult. There were only so many times you could explain away alien chickenpox or month-long lockdowns before a person threw up their hands and left. Still, hopes springs eternal, which is what Evan was thinking right up until later that day, when he spotted a familiar fluffy head in the crowd going to the gateroom, and he started to kick himself for not volunteering for the Atlantis mission.--------
The second time Evan met John Sheppard was a year later when General O'Neill introduced them to each other. Evan recognized him the instant he stepped into the room, and from the way John's lips quirked up, he suspected John remembered him, too. It wasn't quite the reunion he'd imagined, though, because finding out that John was his new boss put a slight crimp in his plans. When he'd put his name forward to go to Atlantis, he'd known that John would probably be the base XO. He'd even known that John would probably be up for promotion - he tried to tell himself it was just his normal thoroughness that had made him check, not a stalker-like obsession - but he'd thought they could work around that. John being the CO, though, was different and a line he wasn't sure he wanted to cross. Still, he had some small hope that they could at least give it a try. After all, John broke plenty of other rules, didn't he?
When O'Neill left the room, John asked, "We going to be able to work together?"
"Don't see why not," Evan replied.
"Cool." John sprawled into the chair next to him, and said, "Okay, then. We need to start making plans for how we're going to integrate all these new marines we're getting into the existing structure."
Evan didn't bring anything up even once they'd finished for the day, deciding it would be better for them to get settled into a routine before trying to see if John might still be interested in him. He'd waited this long, after all, and a few more days couldn't hurt. He managed to carry that hope until he walked into the mess on the Daedalus
on the first day out and saw John sitting with McKay, laughing and waving his hands. It only took a few seconds of watching them together to decide that, even if John was willing to break the rules, it was pretty clear who he'd be breaking them with. Evan sighed and resolved himself to just being the best friend he could be for John. Turning away from the pair, he found a table in the corner to eat at.
"Mind if I sit here?" he asked the tall, lanky man already there.
The scientist looked up from his tablet, which showed some sort of fern. "Of course not, go ahead."
Evan sat down and started eating, although he couldn't help but keep glancing over at John. Honestly, what he could see in McKay, Evan couldn't tell. He was loud, rude, more than a little obnoxious, and kept stealing from John's plate. It wasn't like he needed more food, the little -
"Do you think they're doing it?" the botanist asked, completely matter-of-fact, like he was only discussing a flower. Evan, on the other hand, nearly spit out his fake scrambled eggs.
"Doc, you really can't ask that sort of thing!"
"Right. Sorry. You just seemed rather interested."
Evan sighed and resisted the urge to bang his head on the table. "No. Not at all."
"Okay." Evan started to eat again, hoping that he wasn't really being that horribly obvious. He managed to get a few more bites in before the botanist spoke up again."
"Is that a 'not interested in him' or a 'not interested in men'?" Evan glared, but his companion didn't seem phased at all. "Just wondering."--------
"Would you go out with me?" Even as the words slipped from his mouth, Evan felt his stomach drop out. The shocked expression on John's face made his next sentence completely redundant, but of course he said it anyways. "Oh, God, I didn't just say that, did I? Shit. I hate aliens."
"Yeah. Yeah, you did," John replied after a second. "Is this just the truth roofies talking?"
"No, not at all, well actually yes it is, because otherwise I'd have never told you. I mean, I've had a crush on you since we met, and haven't said anything yet no matter how many times Parrish said I should,"Evan babbled out, before clamping his hand over his mouth in a desperate attempt to shut himself up.
"That's, uh, flattering?" John looked like a caged animal. Evan didn't blame him, because he was pretty sure that the last place John wanted to be was sitting in the infirmary at the beside of his executive officer while said officer was in a drugged stupor and saying things about how he might, maybe, possibly love him. John's face turned red, at which point Evan realized that he'd just said all of that aloud, too.
"Could you ask the doctors to maybe give me something to put me to sleep? Or maybe get me my gun, it'd be quicker than slowly dying from embarrassment here."
"Calm down, Lorne," John said, putting his hand on Evan's arm. "It's okay. I'm not going to freak out. Much."
"Want to give me an answer then? Not that you have to. I mean, I'd really appreciate it, but oh god I fucking hate aliens."
John chuckled and nodded. "Well, it's like this. I'll admit, I'm tempted. You're attractive, you're a nice guy, you're fun to be around. You're the best XO I've ever had." Evan waited for the inevitable 'but', and sure enough John sighed before finishing, "But you're my XO. I can't sleep with someone under my command."
"You slept with McKay," Evan says, and he and John both wince at how accusatory that sounds. "And don't give me crap about how he's not under your command, because off-world he is."
"Yeah, well, doesn't everyone end up sleeping with a teammate from time to-" Evan crossed his arms and John gave up on that line of thought, clearly realizing how lame it was. "Okay, it wasn't like that, but you saw how well it ended."
"That's not because he works with you, though. It's because he wouldn't know romance if it bit him in the ass." It's only through shear force of will that Evan manages to leave, 'I could do better,'
"It's too dangerous. Even leaving aside the regs, if rumors got started it'd ruin your reputation, destroy your career. We could both lose our jobs, lose Atlantis,
" John said, waving around at the bronze walls and everything beyond them. "I'm not going to risk doing that to you."
"It's my choice," Evan protested, knowing it wouldn't do any good.
"I'm sorry, but I wouldn't be comfortable with it." John stood up and bit his lip. "If things were different, I would. But I can't."
John turned and fled the room, leaving Evan to sit in silence. He sighed to himself, and curled up in the bed. He knew where he stood, now, and maybe David would stop trying to shove him at the Colonel. That would be something, at least. And maybe now that he'd been shot down, he could give up on this entire stupid crush. Evan didn't have a lot of hope for that, though.--------
Evan was lounging around his living room and reading a book when his cell phone started to ring. He looked over at it with annoyance, wondering why it was the damned thing always rang when he was getting ready for bed or to go out, and not for the first time wistfully remembering the radio he'd had on Atlantis. He was pretty sure he'd hated that at times, too, but at least it wasn't so damned loud. It was one more thing to adjust to, he supposed, like the seemingly endless commute and hot water that could run out.
He opened to phone and said into it, "Lorne."
"Lorne!" came a slightly slurred echo.
Evan frowned as he realized who it was. "Sheppard?"
"Lorne. I need an extraction," John carefully said. "A rescue, even. Just like that time from you-know-where."
"Sir, are you drunk?" Evan asked, scratching his head in confusion but already shucking off his pajamas and looking for his jeans.
"Yes, Lorne, I am. Falling-down drunk. Sloshed. Shit-faced. Ebrius. As Rodney'd say, je suis ivre...tres, tres, tres ivre. You could probably say-"
"I get the idea, sir," Evan said to cut him off. Trying not to drop the phone, he pulled on his jeans, then shrugged on a jacket and grabbed his keys. As he stepped out into the brisk night air, he asked, "Any reason you're calling me about this?"
"I can't call Rodney, because he's in fucking Nevada. And Elizabeth doesn't answer her phone. Mitchell's off-world and you know what Carson would say." Evan wondered if he should be offended at being the last choice, but John answered that question a moment later. "'Sides, you always rescue me. That's what you do. Rescue people. And watch out for me. Always watching me."
"Just doing my job, sir," Evan replied, now wondering what had set the other man off on that particular tangent.
"A good job. Real good job. Not like my new team. My new second is twenty-three, Lorne. I don't think he even shaves yet."
Given that Evan's team currently consisted of Parrish and whatever random marines happened to be available on a given day, he wasn't in a terribly sympathetic mood. "You want to tell me where you are, sir?"
Thirty minutes later, he was pulling John out of the bar they'd first met in, glad that he'd gotten far more experience than was reasonable at hauling half-conscious pilots around. With John safely buckled in, Evan pulled out of the parking lot and started to drive home. He wasn't quite sure where John was living - he really hoped that he'd gotten off-base housing by now, but knowing John, it was entirely possible he was still in denial - and he wasn't about to try to get directions out of him, because even sober his land-nav skills left something to be desired.
When he glanced over, Evan saw that John was leaning against the window and drooling onto his shirt. It would have been almost cute, if it wasn't so worrisome. It wasn't like John to get this drunk, not without the having the excuse of a party or overly hospitable hosts off-world. A beer or two on his day off, that was normal, but going out and drinking himself silly was another thing entirely. Loosing Atlantis had hit everyone hard, especially those with the gene, and it was worst for John, who'd also had his best friend reassigned across the country. Evan hoped this was a one-off thing and not something more serious, because he didn't have a clue how he'd deal with John falling apart.
They finally got back to Evan's building and Evan guided John inside. It wasn't long before they were in Evan's bedroom and he was pulling John out of his clothes. John was oddly silent most of the time, but Evan kept catching him looking furtively at him. He guessed that maybe John was just embarrassed, although it wasn't like they hadn't seen each other drunk and naked before, usually with a horde of equally-drunk natives or Athosians around.
"Hey, watch the hands," John said as Evan undid his belt and fly. "You know, I'm not this easy. I don't put out on the first date."
"That's not what I remember," Evan returned. He helped John step out of his pants, and when he looked up he saw a thoughtful look on John's face. "Sorry."
"Have you ever wondered what'd have happened if I said yes?" John said suddenly. "When you wanted to, you know. Date or something."
Evan hesitated, and decided the truth wouldn't hurt. "A few times, but I try not to think too much about things I can't change."
"Would you..." John stopped, looked down and away, and took a deep breath before carefully saying, "Maybe still want to try?"
Evan's heart almost stopped. "Don't fuck with me, Sheppard."
"I'm serious," John said.
"I'm not going to talk about this now, sir," Evan insisted. "We can chat in the morning if you want."
Evan started to turn away but John's hand shot out and grabbed his arm. "I really mean it, Lorne - Evan. I'm not your CO anymore, and the rank thing isn't what was important. Hell, another year and you should be up for promotion anyways, unless Landry's a complete idiot."
"John." Evan didn't need to hear this right now, didn't want to hear it.
"Look at me, Evan," John begged, expression earnest and voice full of sincerity despite being slightly slurred. "I'm stuck on a planet that I barely recognize anymore, doing the stargate equivalent of scut work. My best friend's in Nevada, my other closest friends are in another fucking galaxy entirely. Elizabeth doesn't return calls and can barely look me in the face when we see each other. All I do at night is come home and chat with McKay - the last time I actually did anything was when Cam dragged me to a football game two weeks ago. I haven't had a real date in five years. I just want to have someone that I can talk to, depend on, maybe have a halfway normal relationship with.
"I'm tired of being alone," he finished quietly. "I know I don't have any right to ask you, but...please?" Evan stood there in silent thought for a minute, until John sighed and clumsily started to move back towards the living room. "Sorry. I'll call a cab or something."
"John. You're not going anywhere," Evan said before he could take a few steps. He closed the distance and started to guide John back towards the bed, where he helped him sit. "If you're still willing once you're sober, and if you can convince me that this isn't just some post-traumatic fling, then the answer's yes. But for now, you just get some rest and sleep this off."
Evan gently eased John down, and he fell asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow, curled up and snoring softly. Once he got a few blankets pulled over him, Evan stepped back, sighed, and shook his head. This wasn't exactly how he'd planned on getting John back into his bed, and he especially hadn't been intending to spend the night on his own couch when it happened. Sometimes, Evan really hated having a sense of propriety. He hesitated for a moment, then pressed a gentle kiss to John's forehead before getting out the spare blankets and leaving the room.
The next morning, he made sure to leave a note before heading in to the SGC: I'm off-world for the next few days. We'll talk when I get home. I mean it. - Evan
God knew it was going to be hard to get John to talk about this, at least when he was sober, but Evan would be damned if he let John get out of actually discussing what'd he said. No, this time Evan was going to get a straight answer, and there was nothing John could do to escape.--------
Four days spent with Daniel Jackson and a bunch of smelly Unas had left Evan almost wishing for the good old days of Wraith and jilted priestesses. Sure, things had gone better than last time, but given that he'd nearly been killed by a horde of giant lizard-men then, that wasn't saying much. He was ready for a nice, long shower, some real food, and a nap on something other than a military cot. What he got instead when he stepped through the gate were a bunch of marines and a pissed-off looking general.
"Uh, hi?" Jackson said, giving the guards a little wave. "Please tell me this is the right universe."
"Take him away," Landry growled, and a moment later Evan was being neatly disarmed and marched off to the infirmary, leaving a surprised Jackson behind. After a cursory exam, a five-minute shower to get the mud off, and a change of clothes, Evan found himself sitting in front of a table in one of the SGC's interrogation rooms, alone except for the blinking camera in the corner. It wasn't long before exhaustion started to get the better of him and his mind began to wander.
After a few minutes, he started to wonder what odds Chuck was giving for a foothold situation with alien mind-control, then suddenly realized that he wasn't even sure where Chuck was. Or, for that matter, what had happened to all the money in the pool. Of course, money was a loose term, given that it was candy credits, but it was the principle of the thing, and why was he thinking about that while he was locked up? Something must have happened, or maybe he was inhabited by some alien creature. Wouldn't he have noticed that, though? Unless it was removing his memory of being inhabited, and great, now he was starting to have an existential crisis.
Evan really hated Unas food. It always made him loopy.
The door buzzed and swung open and Landry stormed in, followed by Colonel Caldwell. Evan started to push his chair back so he could stand at attention, but Landry put his hands on the table and leaned forward menacingly, making Evan think better of it. "What is Sheppard planning?"
Evan's eyes bugged out with surprise. Landry couldn't possibly be talking about what Evan thought he was. Surely John hadn't done anything that stupid. "I, uh, don't have a clue what you're talking about sir."
"Don't play games with me, Lorne," Landry rumbled. "He had to have been planning this before now. You're going to tell me everything you know, and you're going to tell me the names of any other conspirators involved."
Plans? Conspirators? Evan wondered what the hell had John gotten himself into this time. "I honestly don't know what's going on, general. I haven't spoken to Colonel Sheppard since I gave him a ride home a few days ago."
"I see." Landry stood up a little straighter. "Spend much time together, do you?"
"We're friends," Evan said hesitantly. "And with McKay in Nevada, he doesn't really have anyone else to hang out with." He didn't mention Teyla and Ronon, because he was starting to get the feeling that it wouldn't be wise.
"Sir, I think we're wasting our time," Caldwell said from behind Landry. "I personally doubt very much that Major Lorne would ever be involved in a mutiny like this. I believe him when he says he wasn't involved, and if he doesn't know anything, I need to get my ship moving."'Mutiny?'
Evan thought as he shot Caldwell a grateful look. 'John, what have you done this time?'
"Hmph." Landry turned and left the room, Caldwell following him again. Evan called out, "Sir, if you don't mind telling me, what's-" the door slammed shut, and he plaintively finished, "-going on? Damn it."
Apparently, Landry didn't bother to order anyone to release him, so Evan found himself trapped in the room for several hours. As much as he tried to stay calm, he found he couldn't stop worrying about what was happening. John must have done something truly spectacular to make Landry that angry with, by all appearances, everyone who'd ever said hello to him. Eventually he stopped pacing and rested his head on his arms in an attempt to get a nap in. He'd just started to drift off when the door swung open again, this time revealing Jackson.
"Hey. Come on, I'm here to spring you."
Evan stood up and stretched, then followed Jackson out into the corridor. "Thanks. I was starting to think I'd be stuck there all night."
"Sam and I managed to convince Landry you're not a threat." They entered an elevator, and after punching in the top level, Jackson said, "Atlantis was attacked by replicators yesterday. They took the city."
"What?" Of all the things that he'd thought might be wrong, that hadn't been one of them. "What are we going to do?"
"Landry decided to try to nuke the city and asked McKay to figure out a way past the shield." Jackson saw his incredulous expression and shook his head. "Yeah, that's about how I reacted. Sheppard, McKay, Weir, and Beckett stole the jumper and took off on some kind of rescue mission. Landry, to say the least, did not take it well." The elevator came to a stop, and Jackson headed out towards the security checkpoint. "Come on. Vala's taking us out tonight and we've got room for an extra."
Evan stood in the elevator for a moment, too shocked to reply, then followed. He couldn't believe Landry would immediately resort to destroying the city. John and McKay running off with the jumper, though, that he understood. "What, they just waltzed off to another galaxy?"
"Took Dr. Lee's access card, stunned Siler, overrode the gate controls, and off they went." Jackson had a broad smile on his face as he recounted what had happened. "As escape plans go, it was a nice one. Teal'c and Sam gave them a full ten points, but I had to knock a couple off after I found one of Sheppard's airmen sobbing in a supply closet."
"What, really?" Evan shook his head in disbelief as he tried to sort through everything. His mind seemed to be spinning in circles and he didn't know whether to laugh, cry, or jump through the gate after John just so he could strangle the man. "I can't believe this," he softly said as they rode the second elevator the rest of the way to the surface, speaking as much to himself as to Jackson. "He knew I was due back, why did he leave me behind?"
"Us behind," he quickly corrected so Jackson wouldn't get the wrong - well, right idea. Then he groaned, realizing what he'd said was still unwise. "Not that any other expedition members would have gone along with his horrible order-breaking ways."
"I'm sorry, did you say something?" Jackson looked down at him with an innocent face. "Sometimes I have trouble hearing. Too many encounters with ribbon devices, I think."
"Just talking to myself, doc," Evan said with a grateful look. "You know, I can see Sheppard and McKay doing this, and even Weir, but I'm really wondering - damn it."
Jackson glanced over at him. "What?"
"I'm going to have to make sure someone's feeding Carson's turtles." Evan shook his head as they passed through the final security checkpoint and out into the parking garage. He wondered if there was some rule in the universe that said he always had to be the responsible one. Sometimes he really got tired of cleaning up everyone else's messes, and Team Sheppard certainly made a hell of a lot of them. Intellectually he knew that they never meant to make them - well, almost never - and he could understand the need in this case to act quickly. That didn't mean it wasn't frustrating, or that it didn't hurt. Maybe he'd made a mistake in letting John convince him to open up again, because if this had happened a week ago, he'd have just been a bit annoyed and shrugged it off. God only knew he could only expect more of this in the future, assuming that replicators didn't kill everyone.
"You okay?" Jackson asked, startling him out of his introspection.
"Yeah, I'll be fine." Not as fine as he'd have been if he'd had Radek to get drunk and commiserate with, but he'd get over it.
"I know it's hard to be the one left behind." Jackson glanced around and stopped Evan when they were out of view between two trucks. "Listen, I've got something to give you. Found it in my office when I got back, had your name on it." He handed an envelope over. It had already been opened, and when Evan gave him a questioning look, Jackson shrugged and looked sheepish. "I had to make sure there really wasn't some evil conspiracy."
Evan nodded and pulled out the sheet of paper inside. He immediately recognized John's messy scrawl as he took in the single line. I'm sorry to leave you behind. If I don't see you again, I meant what I said. - John
Evan closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Thanks for giving me it, doc."
Jackson gave him a little shrug and a nod, a silent 'no problem,' and quietly asked, "What are you going to do now?"
"I don't know. Call Radek, he needs to know. Maybe to Parrish and a few other expedition members, get the word out." Evan shook his head and laughed bitterly. "Then again, that'd probably just get me locked up again."
"Don't worry about it, we can run interference for you. They have a right to know, and besides, it could be helpful to have other people aware of what's going on."
"How's that?" Evan asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Well, if we don't hear from Jack and Sheppard's team, someone's going to have to go rescue them," Jackson said with an innocent tone and a sly grin. "Easier to do with more than six people, don't you agree?"
Evan felt a giddy laugh start to bubble up inside him, and he wondered if this was the way Team Sheppard or SG-1 felt when doing something beyond absurd. "Daniel, I like the way you think."--------
When Evan stepped off the jumper and found a grinning John waiting for him, he felt the urge to do two things: wipe the stupid grin off his face and kiss him right there. Given that there was a jumper-load of marines behind him, neither seemed particularly advisable. They were still nice thoughts, though. Evan stepped aside so that McKay could grab Zelenka and run off babbling about ZPMs, then finally returned John's grin. "Colonel."
"Good to see you, Major," John replied, before looking past him into the jumper. "You too, guys."
Evan turned to the other men and ordered, "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." He turned back to John and added pointedly, "The Colonel and I need to talk about a few things."
John raised an eyebrow at that, but allowed Evan to lead him down the stairs to the control room and out onto the balcony. They leaned onto the railing and stared out into the sea, and Evan took a deep breath of the fresh ocean air. The sun was shining, there was a pleasant breeze coming off the water, and Atlantis was humming around him. It was good to be home.
After a minute, John said, "Work first. How are things going with getting the battalion back together?"
"Fairly well," Evan answered. "Most of the guys were on leave and not reassigned yet, so that worked out nicely. Cadman and Ramirez are still doing their thing with the marine cadets, but hopefully they’ll have us some new recruits by the time the ship leaves." It was actually a pain in the ass, trying to get everything straighten out so that they'd have all the equipment and personnel in place by the time the Daedalus
returned to Earth, but he'd had plenty of time to get things organized while they waited for the OK to return.
"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, before turning around to lean backwards and look Evan in the eye. He had a mischievous gleam in his eyes as he asked, "So, how much trouble am I in?"
was a loaded question. For a brief second Evan reconsidered violence, but instead he just frowned. "That depends on whom you're talking about."
John only grinned more. "Oh, is there a list?"
“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. At this point, he'd cooled down - God knew he'd had enough time - but there was no need to let John know that. The last thing he wanted was for him to get even more bad habits.
“You?” John asked, confused. “What’d I do to you?”
Then again, maybe revenge was best served cold, and defenestration had such a nice ring to it. "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 sighed, suddenly looking horribly tired. "There wasn’t time. You have to believe me, if we could have waited, we would have."
Evan pursed his lips, not entirely convinced, but he couldn't stay angry at John. After all, he had at least left a note - although John hadn't made any mention of that. After a minute of silence, Evan said, "I suppose it worked out better this way, anyways. Landry’s now convinced that I’m a moderating influence on you. I get the feeling he wants a watchdog, too."
John's grin returned instant. "You are a good influence. I think I get paperwork filed twice as fast with you nagging me."
Returning to his place beside John, Evan chuckled and resigned himself to waiting until they'd gotten things up and running again before confronting John further. Speaking of paperwork, I’ve got my tablet upstairs, with about three dozen forms that I need you to-"
He cut off and jumped a little when he felt John's hand brush up against his. John immediately withdrew the offending hand and started to fidget, first resting it against his side and then crossing his arms. Evan took a few steps back, raised 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, I wouldn't feel comfortable with someone under my command.""
John set his jaw and glared defiantly at him. "Yeah, but I changed my mind after we got back. We talked about it."
"You talked about it, I was trying to make sure you didn't puke in my car." Even as he said it, Evan felt a feeling of euphoria start to come over him, and he tried without much success to fight a grin. He hadn't been sure what John would do when they saw each other again. After all, things had changed since they'd seen each other that night, returned to the status quo ante exsilium
as it were. Speaking of which... "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." He looked at Evan, a trace of doubt on his face, and asked, "So... want to give it a shot?"
Even after all this time, Evan still had to pause to think about it; compare the risks and benefits, decide whether they really had a chance at all. It didn't take him more than a moment, though.
Sure, maybe he'd never be quite as close to John as McKay was, but Evan didn't mind. They were good for each other, even if they hadn't been that good together, and Evan was willing to share if it kept John healthy and happy.And yes, there would always be the risk of exposure hanging over them like the sword of Damocles, but they had loyal friends and allies who'd fight for them if it came to that. Maybe it was professionally irresponsible and risked interfering with their judgment, but everyone in Atlantis took absurd risks to protect each other anyways, and Evan could count on John to make hard choices.
"All right," he said, because when it came down to it, what mattered was that he had John. The rest was just details.