Title: Still Running
Rating/Word count: PG-13/2420
Written For: prehistoric_sea
Prompt: Lorne/Sheppard; angst, I never broke regs before you, rimming. This has two out of three, and you can probably guess which one it doesn't have from the rating.
Author's Notes/Summary: Forget what you shouldn't remember.
“Major,” Sheppard says with a nod when they pass in the corridor between Sheppard’s office and the marines’ third gym. It’s quiet, but not empty; Evan slows slightly.
“Morning, sir,” he says. He’s wearing his thigh holster, which he doesn’t usually bother with in the city, but they’ve only been back a few days, and it’s his first day back on duty. He still feels unsettled, and being armed helps.
He’s never seen Sheppard in the city without a weapon.
“How’s the arm?” Sheppard stops, stepping to one side of the corridor.
Evan touches the bandage, hidden under shirt sleeves and jacket. It wasn’t really bad to begin with, one bullet that came a little too close when they were escaping; by the time rescue came, it was mostly healed. He can still feel Sheppard’s fingers, warm and careful as he checked the bandages every day.
“Fine, sir,” he says.
Sheppard frowns. Evan grits his teeth, stands still. There’s more space between them than there has been since Evan first came to Atlantis, when neither of them had any idea what to make of the other. Standing closer isn’t safe.
“Are you sure you’re okay to be back on duty?” Sheppard asks after a strained moment of silence. “You don’t look too hot.”
It’s like some kind of switch in Evan’s head, a rush of panted breaths, half-gasped words, skin against skin, straining for sounds of intruders, the whole memory washed through with fear and adrenaline and want so strong he had to give in.
He’d thought Atlantis would never come for them – couldn’t come for them. There was only so long they could run and hide, and he’d thought they’d die on that planet, alone. There hadn’t been a reason not to give in.
He smiles, trying to look reassuring, and it feels wrong. “Dr Keller signed off on me coming back, yesterday, sir.”
“I know that,” Sheppard says, sounding frustrated. “I’m not asking if you’ve got permission, I’m asking if you’re all right.”
“I’m fine, sir,” Evan says. He’s not. He’s tired, because he can’t sleep in Atlantis now, and he’s jumpy because they were running for their lives for a month and it hasn’t worn off yet, and he doesn’t want to be having this conversation. Doesn’t want to have to look at John Sheppard, because three days off duty haven’t been enough to pull everything together again, but Sheppard looks like nothing happened.
Sheppard sighs, shifting closer to Evan. They’re still in a public corridor, but it’s empty, for a moment. “Drop the fucking sir,” he says, so low that no-one would hear if there was someone around. He sighs again, sounding defeated. Sounding like Evan feels. “You’re not the only one who –“
He stops there, of course, just when Evan wants to know what he’s going to say.
“If that’s all, sir,” he says; he didn’t lose the words, the formalities, of being commanded when he came to Atlantis, just put them away. They’re still there, waiting for him to dust them off.
Sheppard looks at him, worn and unhappy. When he looks away, it’s a clear capitulation; Evan feels like he’s finally managing to draw breath again.
“Dismissed,” Sheppard says.
Evan is a good officer, and a good soldier – a soldier, now, not an airman, not a pilot, when their civilians fly into battle and he leads rescues on the ground. He’s always been a good officer, good at his job and good at being the way he ought to be, and he may not know what got him into the stargate program, which draws in the mavericks and the people who don’t follow the rules, the Jack O’Neills and John Sheppards and Laura Cadmans of the world, but he knows that now he’s in it, he’s doing a good job of being part of it. No-one’s going to regret taking him.
He wonders some days if he’s going to regret letting it take him, and keep him, and send him to Atlantis. He wonders if the way he wonders means that he already does.
He was never supposed to be working for Sheppard.
“Good evening, Major,” Radek says when Evan finds him standing on the bench in Jumper Five that evening, swapping crystals around and tapping at his tablet. Jumper Five is Evan’s jumper, his first choice, the one he would have been flying if Sheppard hadn’t –
“Perhaps you should not be standing up,” Radek says, frowning down at Evan, crystal still in his hand.
Evan doesn’t smile – learned his lesson with Sheppard, hours earlier – and he can’t lean against the open doorway, however much he wants to, every part of his body aching from too much stillness, too much safety. “I’m fine,” he says. Then, because it’s Radek, because Evan came looking for more than just the jumpers and somewhere away, he adds, “Just tired.”
“Yes, well,” Radek says. He’s unhappy, worried still, even though they’re safe now, home. Evan knows just how easily normal doesn’t come back sometimes, worse the more you want it. He wants it badly this time, a chance to forget all the things he shouldn’t remember, shouldn’t have known to begin with; a chance to go back to half-pretending, not saying, and never, ever asking.
It wasn’t him who asked, on the planet. He’s protected by that, and it only makes things worse.
“If you intend to stay,” Radek says, turned back to his crystals, “You may sit here and test if there is a working C-12 crystal amongst these.”
Evan takes the offered box, and the offered seat by Radek’s legs, and starts looking. C-12 crystals look a lot like B-14s, and he has to concentrate to pick out the right ones. Somewhere in the bay, two people are working on another jumper, their voices drifting down, irregular enough that he can’t float away.
It’s still a surprise to realize that he has, for the last minute or so, been listening to a third voice, more familiar.
“Do you have one?” Radek asks.
“I –“ Evan says. He wants to gesture for silence, someone coming and don’t give us away, but he’s in Atlantis, he’s perfectly safe. There shouldn’t be anything here to fear.
“Perhaps you should go back to your quarters,” Radek says, closing up the panel and stepping down from the bench. “Come, I will walk with you.”
“I’m fine,” Evan says. He doesn’t want to leave the jumper.
“You don’t look fine,” Sheppard says from the doorway. Radek starts; Evan doesn’t look up. Doesn’t remember when he looked down, fixing his gaze on the jumper floor. “You’re not supposed to be over-doing it.”
“I’ve been cleared for duty, sir,” Evan says. It’s true. There’s nothing wrong with him, with either of them. He doesn’t even have nightmares this time.
“Great,” Sheppard says insincerely. “But if you pass out in the jumper, you can bet Keller will unclear you pretty damn quick. Come on, I’ll walk you home.”
“I’m waiting for Radek, sir,” Evan says.
“Yes.” Radek nods. “In fact, I am almost finished. I’m sure you have other things to do, Colonel.”
“Nah, I’m good. Up and at ‘em, Major, let the good doctor get on with his work.”
He sounds so normal. Like nothing ever happened, like they didn’t – like they don’t… Like he didn’t gasp out Evan’s name, didn’t press up behind him, warmth and comfort and defiance and defeat, every night for nights and nights.
Walking back to the military residential corridor, Sheppard’s arm brushes against Evan’s, and he has to choke down the sudden urge to say, Don’t, please, please, don’t,
because he can’t, he can’t –
And he already knows that he will.
Evan knows how to fit, how to seem like everyone else, whoever that is. He learned it, along with how to properly render a salute and the fastest way to clean and reassemble a weapon, and it’s as much a part of him now as saluting and gun maintenance, so far into his bones that he doesn’t even think about it.
It’s ironic, in a way, that the thing which he tries so hard to hide, that makes him unlike everyone else, is, in Atlantis, the thing that makes him fit right in. Everyone in Atlantis is caught in Sheppard’s orbit, follows him, believes in him; wanting to be with him doesn’t make Evan special, not here.
“Good night, sir,” Evan says when they get to his door, and Sheppard’s face goes complicated, like he’s trying to hide something and can’t quite do it. He’s better at it than most people Evan knows; not as good as Evan is, but Sheppard was married, Sheppard doesn’t care what people think of him, or tells himself he doesn’t care, enough to believe himself.
“Let me come inside,” Sheppard says, low and intent. There’s no-one on the corridor but the two of them, too early for most people to be heading to their quarters. “Lorne. Let me in.”
Evan nods, touches the crystal. The phantom touch of Ancient technology against his gene makes him shudder. It shouldn’t be worse than six weeks on Earth, but it feels like the first time he came to Atlantis, overwhelming and too much present.
There’s never been anyone else in his quarters but him, in three years in the city. No real reason, just habit, and now Sheppard’s standing in the doorway, not quite looking at him, and Evan doesn’t know where to put himself. He only has one desk chair, and neither of them should be sitting on the bed.
He shifts, stands against the window, where he only has to turn his head slightly to see sky and stars, the east pier and a jumper coming in from the mainland. Atlantis is supposed to be better, to be home; he’s pretty sure he’s still waiting. Maybe he’s just forgotten what home feels like.
“Look.” Sheppard scrubs a hand through his hair, round the back of his neck, then lets it drop, looks up at Evan. “We probably should have had this conversation before.”
The sharp shock of fear surprises Evan; this isn’t what he thought, and now he doesn’t want to hear it, even knowing he should. “Sir –“ he starts.
Sheppard shakes his head, cutting him off. “What happened on that planet, I shouldn’t have -. Regardless of what was going on, it wasn’t appropriate and –“
Evan’s been telling himself no for four days, that they can’t, in the city, that he shouldn’t and Sheppard won’t. He thinks of himself as reasonably self-aware, but he’s obviously wrong, because this is worse. He can’t stand in his room and let Sheppard say no.
Sheppard’s body is warm against his, familiar in how they fit together. Even the sharp, broken sound he makes into their kiss is something Evan knows, can play back from a dozen different memories. Sheppard’s hands come up, pressing closer, and Evan shudders under it, the exact same way he does under Ancient technology right now –
And lets go.
Evan doesn’t let people see what they’re not supposed to. It’s more than seeming to be exactly who and how he’s supposed to be; it’s something more subtle, harder to do. It’s lying to absolutely everyone he ever meets, because that’s easier, better. No-one in the Air Force knows he sleeps with men; none of the men he sleeps with know he’s in the Air Force. He has days – more and more, since he came to Atlantis – where he can’t control anything, but he’s never not been in control of that.
He spent three years keeping that one thing locked down so tight he was half-hiding it from himself; it took a week and a half of thinking they were lost forever on another planet, tossed through so many gates they lost track, before they finally escaped. No time at all, really, just seeming that way with capture and escape and constant evasion. No time at all, and the locks got broken and the two halves collided.
He’s never had to fix this when it’s already broken.
“We have to stop,” Evan says into the silence, after. He can feel Sheppard next to him, even though they’re not touching, hyper-awareness that he knows will fade with time. He had it with his team, before they were stunned and he and Sheppard were taken. He wants that back, rough marine concern and Parrish’s anxious friendship, nothing like the spiky, uncomfortable, nearly-died, us-against-the-world bond he has now with Sheppard.
Sheppard nods. It should be too dark for Evan to know that, but it’s not. “You kissed me,” Sheppard says.
Evan won’t say that Sheppard kissed him, the very first time. In his own head, it sounds like an accusation, even though it’s not. Probably not. He feels like he’s being coerced, knows he isn’t, can’t untangle the two. Too many briefings on fraternization and sexual harassment, and now he forgets sometimes that he’s safer than Sheppard, in the eyes of the Air Force, the SGC. If anyone has to go, it won’t be him.
He thinks he’d say yes anyway, that he’s forgotten how to say no.
“I don’t do this,” he says instead, confessing a secret no-one’s ever known to look for, never mind ask about. “I’ve never –“
“Never what?” Sheppard asks, soft and curious, and not at all like he already knows. He has to.
“Broken regs.” It sounds better, like that. Sounds like Sheppard, running off on rescue missions without permission, instead of like Evan, naked in bed with his CO because Pegasus teaches you to grab what you want before it’s gone, and he’s always been a good student. “I never broke regs before you.”
Evan is a good officer, knows how to fit, keeps his secrets so very close, except Pegasus changes people, and there’s no way to know how it will happen until it does.
“Evan…” Sheppard says quietly, and Evan’s name sounds unfamiliar, wrong, in that voice. No-one calls him by it here. “I thought…” He sounds scared, overwhelmed, surprised. He didn’t know. Evan wasn’t confirming, he was telling, and he never does either. He’s slipping, slipping up. Losing control.
“We have to stop,” he says again. It sounds desperate, pleading. He means it, but he means, you have to stop
just as much.
“We will,” Sheppard says. “We’ll stop,” except promises made after sex don’t count, and Evan already knows.