There's nothing shippy yet, but in upcoming chapters it will start to turn Shep/Lorne. I figured I'd better work my way to that point, at least for my first fic with the pairing. I've got a nice and fluffy established-relationship oneshot coming up, too...
Title: Unusual Circumstances
Summary: Sheppard and Lorne are trapped off-world and must depend on each other for survival. Eventual Shep/Lorne.
The lithe form moved among the trees as quietly as possible, the occasional rustle of leaves or the snap of a twig the only sounds except for the labored breathing of the figure. Whoever they were, they moved with the unmistakable gait of someone who was injured, and with the slowness of someone in unfamiliar territory. A cloud shifted, exposing one of the planet’s moons, and the figure was bathed in light, illuminating their face. Unmistakably male, and with very distinct hazel eyes and a seemingly permanent case of bedhead, Lt. Colonel John Sheppard limped his way over to the cover of a clump of bushes and knelt among them, taking stock of the situation. He set a hand on his thigh, and pulled it away quickly, breathing in sharply as his hand touched the warm, sticky substance saturating his BDUs that could only be blood. The lighting wasn’t the best, but he examined the gash on his thigh all the same, trying to see if the bleeding was slowing yet or not.
Rather than risking infection, he dug through the pockets of his tactical vest until he found the gauze, and proceeded to wrap his leg carefully. The end product wasn’t the best, but it was tight enough to stay in place and put pressure on the wound. Carson would’ve done a much better job, but Carson wasn’t there, and John wasn’t exactly working under the most ideal circumstances. Taking deliberately shallow breaths, he scanned the forest around himself for activity, making sure that he wasn’t being followed. He started to slip out of his tac vest, but his ribs protested the action. He was positive he’d at least bruised them in the scuffle at the gate… gritting his teeth, he eased his vest off and laid it beside him, within easy reach. His P-90 was set next to it, but he left his 9mm strapped to his thigh, just in case.
Next, he pulled off his jacket and curled up under it, trying to fit as much of his body under the clothing article as was humanly possible. Despite that, he was soon shivering from the cold, and twitched at every sound, no matter how slight. He knew he was probably being paranoid (how likely was it that they were tracking him, at night, through the woods, when they knew he wouldn’t get far and they could just as easily come looking for him at first light?) but he didn’t want to be caught off guard again. Clenching his jaw to keep his teeth from chattering, he rubbed at his arms to warm them, ineffectively. He sighed; it was going to be a long night. Well, at least he (probably) wouldn’t be attacked by anything. He really didn’t want to have to shoot anything- that would be a dead giveaway of his position, and he really didn’t want to have to relocate so soon. As if on cue, the brush off to his left rustled, and a figure appeared, crouching low in an effort to stay as inconspicuous as possible.
“Colonel?” the figure hissed quietly, startling him. It had to be someone from his team or Lorne’s- they’d been sent on a joint mission, and were ambushed at the gate, almost as soon as they’d arrived. He couldn’t recall exactly who’d made it back through to Atlantis, but obviously at least one other person had been cut off from the city along with him.
“Over here,” he replied as loudly as he dared. The figure turned to him, staying low to the ground, and he strained to see who it was, but shadow still obscured the other man’s face. Taking care not to make too much noise, the other Atlantean made his way over and joined him in the safety of the underbrush. The close confines of the brush forced John to move over to make room, and for a moment he was thankful that it hadn’t been Ronon, or there never would’ve been room for both of them. As it was, it was a fairly tight squeeze, with the other man’s shoulder wedged behind his, and his thigh pressed against his own, thankfully the uninjured one.
“Fancy seeing you here,” the other man whispered, and John recognized the voice this time. He turned to his second-in-command, noting for the first time that the Major’s hair was nearly as wild as his own at the moment, silhouetted in the moonlight like it was.
“Ditto. Are you ok, Major?” he asked, casting a concerned glance at the other man, not that Lorne could see it, as dark as it was. He already knew exactly what Lorne was going to say, though- what most military men and women said. As far as he could tell, the Major wasn’t missing any limbs or packed full of bullets, so unless he was sporting some fatal internal injuries or a really bad hangnail, he looked like he would survive the night. Even if he’d been bleeding out onto the grass, though, there was only one thing that would’ve come out of his mouth:
“I’m fine, sir.” So predictable. “What about you?”
“I’m just peachy,” was the reply. Sheppard shifted, trying to make himself more comfortable on the hard-packed dirt, but he could already feel his abused ribs starting to protest the position he was lying in, and the night air was starting to get to him, not that he was going to admit it. Sleep wasn’t going to come easily, at least not within the next hour or so, no matter how exhausted he was. There was too much to think about, worry over, and contemplate, not to mention the fact that he was starting to develop the headache from hell but didn’t want to take any pain meds if it wasn’t absolutely necessary.
“Did everyone else make it through the gate?” he asked. Lorne nodded and waved in the direction he’d come from with a hand. Focusing on his 2IC’s face, trying to determine his expression, John noticed that there was a cut above his eye, probably from an unseen tree branch.
“Yes, sir. I think so.” Lorne bit his lip, worrying it between his teeth, and John could sympathize. It wasn’t exactly easy being separated from the rest of your team without knowing if they’d all made it through the gate.
“I’ll take first watch if you want to catch some shut-eye.”
“Are you sure?” Lorne asked, though his eyes were already starting to drift closed.
“Honestly, I don’t think I could sleep right now anyway.” He tried to keep the pain out of his voice, but, judging from the concerned glance Lorne shot him from under half-closed eyelids, he hadn’t been very successful. Instead of commenting, though, Lorne just stripped off his tac vest and lay down, hugging his jacket around himself in a desperate bid for warmth. Looking at the violently shivering Major, John sighed theatrically and draped his own jacket over the other man. The Major rolled onto his side, looking up at the messy-haired Colonel with a frown.
“Keep it, sir. It’s cold out here and–”
“Exactly,” John cut in. “I’ll be fine; I spent a year in Antarctica, remember? You, on the other hand, are probably from California or someplace like that and can’t handle the cold.”
“I’m from Indiana, actually,” Lorne retorted. “I’m not the one that’s half polar bear, though…” he muttered to himself, turning away from the Colonel, unconsciously hugging the extra jacket closer and burying his face in the rather course material. Admittedly, he was rather thin-skinned compared to the Colonel, but then again Sheppard wasn’t fazed by a whole lot, either. Except for bugs or clowns, or that the mess had run out of turkey sandwiches. After a long moment, Lorne said quietly, “Thanks.” John looked down at his second-in-command and smiled slightly.
“Don’t mention it.” Sheppard ran a hand through his hair absently, suppressing a yawn. He was tired, yeah, but there was no way he was going to fall asleep. Lorne could zone out for a few hours without feeling guilty.
The night passed uneventfully, and by the next morning, both men had decided that sleeping out in the open would be worth the risk, if they didn’t have to deal with the cricks in their necks from the unnatural angles they’d been forced to sleep in. Lorne woke first and, after making sure the coast was clear, found a bush out of sight to answer the call of nature. After washing his hands off with water from his canteen, he returned to their hiding place and checked up on the Colonel, who was awake by that point. Careful not to jar his ribs, the wild-haired flyboy stood, pulled on his tac vest, and went looking for a convenient bush. When he returned, he found Lorne seated, back against a nearby tree, staring gloomily at the small pile of powerbars and MREs in front of him.
“Broccoli casserole or mac and cheese?” he asked, eyeing the former with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. Grimacing in agreement, Sheppard nodded at the mac and cheese.
“Did I ever tell you I hate broccoli?” John said conversationally as he went about the task of making himself comfortable, aware of the Major watching him with concern as he eased himself to the ground.
“You might’ve mentioned it,” Lorne said with a mock innocent tone. Then, taking on a more serious tone, “Sir, is there something wrong with your ribs?” he asked suspiciously, having had his own fair share of rib injuries over the years and recognizing the gingerness in his CO’s movements. He finished preparing the MREs and set the Colonel’s in front of him, eyes taking in his slightly pale cast and the hand pressed against his side in a deceptively casual fashion.
“They’re fine,” Sheppard lied, digging into the meal. Between bites, he tried to start a conversation. “So, Major, you got any pets back home?”
Lorne frowned at the blatant lie, but answered the Colonel’s question. “Yep. A happy-go-lucky mutt my sister insisted on naming Karter. I left him with my sister when I joined the expedition… can you believe it was harder to leave him than it was to leave my family?” His expression was wry as he said that, as though he wasn’t sure his CO would understand the feeling.
“I know what you mean. I’ve got a Doberman called Cujo back in Michigan. He’s staying with an old friend right now, but Andy said he can’t keep ‘im much longer… I’m not really sure what I’m gonna do with him now. I don’t really know anybody else back home I’d trust with him.” He laughed slightly bitterly. “Look at me, whining to you about my dog. Not exactly the picture of a hard-ass military commander, huh?”
Lorne shrugged. “They’re like family.”
“Yeah.” They sat in silence for a while before Sheppard broke the silence again. “They’ve got chocolate cake in the mess today, I heard the cooks talking about it before we left yesterday.”
Lorne sighed wistfully. “It’s been months since I’ve had chocolate cake. Damn locals… I hope they save us some. Not likely, though… I’m pretty sure they’re not expecting us to want cake first thing after we get back.” He frowned, falling silent again, and John couldn’t help glancing over at his second-in-command with something akin to amusement as he watched a US Air Force Major sulk over not getting any cake.
“Don’t worry, Lorne. We’ll make their lives hell if they don’t have two big chunks of triple chocolate cake waiting for us by the stargate.”