Characters/pairing: lorne/sheppard (appearances by sam and colonel edwards)
Word Count: 2979
Summary: set in the timeframe of two episodes, Rising and The Intruder, with reference to Enemy Mine
Author's Notes: the story references events from SG-1: Enemy Mine, SGA: Rising and SGA: The Intruder, but basically if you know Lorne and Sheppard are both part of the Atlantis Expedition, you won’t be spoiled. This story is about windows: glass windows, silicate windows, balcony windows, windows of opportunity.....
Written as a bribe for sarspasm…
Sheppard turned away from the observation window and the Gate that occupied the room beyond. It was impressive and terrifying and sort of innocuous sitting there cold and quiescent.
“Hi,” he returned, thumbs hooked into the back pockets of his uniform.
He narrowed his eyes at the dark haired man who’d addressed him, sizing him up like John did everyone he met. The guy was younger than he was by a few years but not many, fairly straight-laced looking and had an easy smile.
“I was supposed to meet you in the briefing room,” the guy was saying.
“Oh yeah, right, sorry about that, I…had to go to the bathroom,” John filled in lamely.
“Bathroom’s one deck up - same floor as the briefing room.”
“I’m Major Lorne. I was asked to show you around and kinda introduce you to the place.”
John held out his hand. “Major Sheppard.”
“Yeah, I got that - see?" He held up a folder. "It says right here: Air Force Major, new guy, looks totally lost..."
"I do not," John scoffed.
"Liiiittle bit. Wanna come this way and I’ll show you to the guest quarters.”
“You guys got guest quarters down here?”
“No. But it sounded better than ‘criminally bare, concrete-walled quarantine cubicle with a bed in it', didn't it?"
"Little bit," John agreed, following the Major out of the observation room.
Lorne took the stairs the two levels up and showed John down a long corridor interrupted by blast doors. Sheppard pushed the door open and glanced around.
"You were right. It's pretty criminal. Still better than I had in Afghanistan."
"But we got AC, not that you need it much this far underground."
Sheppard dropped his duffel on the gray wool blanket neatly folded at the foot of the cot.
"Hey. I'm supposed to show you the place, show you the gate, talk it up, but it’s late. General O'Neill said to sell it to you. But honestly, if you're gonna buy it, you're not gonna buy it here. Why don't you head out with me, I'm catching a few beers tonight with Colonel Edwards and a couple of the guys from SG-6. Believe me, if anything's gonna sell you on the e-ticket, it'll be the airmen, not the building."
"How about you?"
"How about me?"
"You sold on all this?"
“More than you will ever know,” Lorne grinned. “Come on, how about those beers? And bring your stuff, you can bunk down at my place tonight. There’s no guest room, but my couch beats the hell out of this place any day.”
“Lead the way.”
They dropped John’s stuff off at Evan’s apartment, left the car and walked the five blocks to a small bar that John liked instantly. It had an overall sports theme, with enough people to fade quietly into without being crowded. Edwards was at a table near one of the larger screen TVs and he motioned them over when they entered.
“I’ll grab us a beer,” John offered.
“Heineken,” Lorne answered, waving and calling out to the bartender. “Hey Stacey!”
“Long time, flyboy! Where you been hiding - Mars?”
“Not quite!” He winked at her.
She turned her attention to Sheppard, pushing away long golden curls with the back of one hand. “What’ll it be?”
“Two Heinekens and whatever those other two guys are drinking,” he smiled.
“Coming right up. You new around here?”
“Just in town for a couple of days, checking out a job situation.”
“You work with those guys,” Stacey indicated the table with a nod.
“Not really,” he hedged.
“Contractor,” she guessed knowingly, setting the four bottles in front of him.
John handed over a twenty and Stacey handed over his change, dipping her head appreciatively when he dropped a five back onto the bar.
“Ya’ll come again, okay? Anytime.” Her tone was full of promise and innuendo and John smiled in return, wrapping his fingers around the necks of the cold bottles and moving to the table.
“Oh, no, no, no…you would’ve had to have seen this. There’s Lorne, shirt all ripped up, warpaint on his face, yelling at the top of his lungs while one of their guys is beating all to hell on some kind of drum. Scariest. Thing. Ever!” Colonel Edwards described to a loud round of laughter.
“It wasn’t nearly that bad,” Lorne protested. “But that crap didn’t come out of my hair for two weeks! Cultural exchange my ass…they were getting back at me for those artifacts I moved!”
“The native artifacts?” John was having a hard time wrapping his brain around all this.
“Don’t let him fool you,” Edwards interjected. “They loved this guy! They wanted to keep him when we rotated out!”
John glanced at Lorne, who nodded.
“They were excellent cooks, too,” he added. “I gained like ten pounds in a week with them, in spite of all the running and uh, rituals…”
“Rituals my ass, you were dancing like a bad version of Kevin Costner!”
“Thank you for that, Colonel,” Lorne smirked. “And that definitely calls for another beer. Or ten.”
“I got it,” John pushed away from the table quickly.
He was glad for the moment to get away from the men. He liked them, he had almost instantly, but he was more of a loner than a joiner and the break was welcomed. He was leaning casually on the bar, waiting for the next round, when Edwards joined him.
“Two more, Diesel and Carter just showed.”
John motioned for the extra beers and glanced back at their table at the cute blonde casually sizing Lorne up.
“That’s a waste,” the pretty bartender offered with an easy, appreciative note of envy, setting the six bottles in front of Sheppard.
“She’s not his type.”
At Sheppard’s raised eyebrow, Edwards stepped in.
“Blondes. He doesn’t go for blondes,” Edwards elaborated.
“Practically pathological about it,” he added, with a pointed look to the bartender as he picked up four of the bottles. “But the Major here doesn’t need to know all that.”
The bartender exchanged an apologetic look with Edwards and faded towards the other end of the bar.
John Sheppard followed Edwards back to the table, deciding right then and there that he liked the Colonel.
Carter pulled out Sheppard’s chair and he stepped across it, settling into the seat while Lorne offered introductions.
“Sam,” Carter amended.
“I’ve been assigned to convince the good Major here to join our little fraternity,” Lorne explained.
“Why wouldn’t you?” she asked point blank.
“I’m thinking over my options,” John replied.
She stared at him, genuinely puzzled.
“I beg your pardon, you’re thinking about it?” Sam said. “Have you any idea of what you’re passing up?”
“Not really, and that’s the problem. That’s why I’m thinking it over.”
“Don’t take too long. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that might not stay on the table forever.”
“So you think it’s a good deal, too?” he asked rhetorically.
“I think you’re whacked for not already saying yes.”
“Yeah,” John sighed. “I’ve been getting that a lot lately.”
Another of the bars patrons approached the table.
“Any of you boys interested in a game of darts?”
It was barely past ten when everyone began excusing themselves – the Air Force kept early hours and everyone except John and Lorne was on duty the following morning. They walked the distance back to Lorne’s apartment, declining Edwards’ offer of a ride in favor of the cool early fall air of the Rockies.
“I haven’t played darts in forever!” John mused.
“Did you see Carter wipe the floor with that one guy? I thought he was going nuclear when she hit those three bulls-eyes in a row! How about you? Did you have a good time?” Lorne asked as he turned the key in his lock.
“Yeah, I can knowledgably say it was better than spending the night in the quarantine room.”
“You make any decisions yet?”
“None I can talk about just now.”
“Let me know when that opens up for you.”
“You’ll be the first.”
John closed the door behind him and stretched, arching his back and raising his arms over his head.
Lorne grabbed two beers from the fridge and motioned John to follow him.
“I’ve got a great view from the balcony back here.”
John trailed him through the bedroom, decorated tastefully in deep yellows and browns but absent of a lot of personal items. A typical military lifestyle, John thought, joining Lorne on the balcony. It overlooked a large park.
“I pay a fortune for this place,” Lorne remarked, handing over a beer, “that’s why.”
The streetlights left enough light in the park to make out the trees and a small lake.
“Okay. Maybe a lot better than the quarantine room.”
“Don’t be so quick to judge,” Lorne quipped, “you haven’t tried sleeping on my couch yet.”
“Yeah, about that…”
Lorne waited for John to continue. When he didn’t, Lorne reached over and patted him on the back.
“Enjoy the fresh air. Tomorrow you get to sit in the conference room and read old mission reports, just so you know what the program is all about.”
“Can I ask you something personal, Evan?”
“Sure, you can ask, might not get an answer.”
“I was told you don’t like blondes.”
“You wanna know if I like blondes?”
“I wanna know if it was a metaphor. Because I think it was a metaphor.”
Evan swallowed. “What kind of metaphor do you think it was?”
John reached over and slid his fingers along Lorne’s cheek into his hair.
“Stop me if you’ve heard this one.”
“Nope,” Lorne murmured, “but it’s starting to sound pretty good.”
“Then flip a fucking coin!” Lorne said exasperatedly.
Lorne’s words jerked John back from the million miles away he’d been.
“I said, you’ve been here for two days and I don’t think you’re any closer to knowing what you’re gonna do than when you got here,” Lorne said over the lunch meal in the commissary.
“It’s more like thirty six hours and I told you…I’m weighing my options.”
“You don’t have that luxury. This mission is a go whether you’re on it or not. Keep dragging your feet and they’ll send somebody else. You’ve read the reports, this is for real. Do you really want to be sitting on your ass watching it all happen? This expedition may be the key to weapons we need to win this war. Don’t you want to be a part of that?”
They’d sat in the conference room for most of the day, going over old mission reports, Gate reports, Daniel Jackson’s brief synopsis of the Gate program and variety of extremely dry scientific explanations for how the Gate System worked. The latter held John’s attention for less time than they had Lorne’s when he’d sat and read them originally.
“Here’s how I see it, you’ve got two options and they’re pretty simple – stay or go. If it’s that hard to choose between the two, they must be equal – nothing to keep you here, nothing to pull you there or everything to lose here, everything to gain there. You’ve made a big show out of how uninvested you are, if that’s true, then just flip a coin. If it makes no difference, it shouldn’t be that tough a choice and you’re putting a lot of thought into something you say you don’t care about. Quit wasting your time.”
“What about your time?”
“What about it?”
“You’re spending all this time selling me on a one-way ticket to Alpha Quadrant. If I don’t take it, it’s all wasted.”
Lorne grinned. “One: I’m on stand-down. If you weren’t here, I’d be sitting around taking care of cascading mountains of catch-up paperwork. Two: I’m not considering the time to be all that wasted.”
“Why’d General O’Neill assign you to show me around?”
“My charming personality; he thought we’d hit it off,” Lorne dismissed.
John waited. It’d been his experience that most people didn’t care for silence. They liked to fill the void left by not talking. Lorne didn’t disappoint him, finally pushing the tray of food away from himself and sitting back.
“I got passed over for the Pegasus Project,” he admitted. “It’s a limited roster and they weren’t looking for a geologist. The General thought maybe, since I’d wanted it so bad, I’d be the one to sell it to you. And I’m available since I also happen to be between teams.”
“I requested a transfer to another team a couple of months ago. SG-11 is a scientific team and lately I’ve been wanting to get a little more hands on in the fight. Colonel Edwards approved the transfer and got a replacement for me. There’s a spot coming open on one of the front teams, SG-3, and I pick up with them in two days.”
John digested all this while he gave up on the military-issued macaroni and cheese.
“That’s the part I’m not sure about,” he said abruptly.
“If I want to be a part of an expedition to find some advanced alien weapons. I’m not sure I’m the guy for the job. What if we just make it worse?”
“Yeah. We could sit around here, wait for the Go’auld to break through all our defenses, slaughter most of the humans in the galaxy, hope it doesn’t get any worse. I read your file jacket, Sheppard. I don’t believe you could sit on the sidelines, not if there was something you could do, not if it meant saving lives.”
“I’m not the guy for the job…” he said quietly.
“What’s tying you here?”
“Then let something pull you there.”
John didn’t answer for a long time.
“Guess I don’t have to ask you what you’d do, huh?” He dropped his fork back onto the tray. “Wanna go get some real food?”
John finished the last of his chicken wings, pushing back away from the table and picking up his glass.
“Those were, indeed, the best chicken wings I’ve ever had,” he announced, finishing off the beer. “We’re kinda close to your place, right?”
“Yeah. About a mile - south to Hanover, one street over to Morell.”
“I think I’ll walk back.”
“Okay. Take off, I’ll get the check and catch you back at the apartment later.”
John nodded and stood, hesitating a moment.
“Thanks. For everything.”
“Dé nada,” Lorne grinned.
Back at the apartment, Lorne tidied up the kitchen and spun through a load of towels and sheets. He’d folded the towels, put the sheets back on the bed and walked out on the balcony. One of the main reasons he’d had taken this apartment was the park. He liked the activity, the greenness, the families that came and went, the shirtless college kids who let him tag in on their games of Frisbee and Hackey-sack after a long run.
He also liked the “no glass containers” law that allowed you to enjoy a beer at the rickety wooden picnic tables while the sun slid behind the Rockies. He glanced towards where John had been sitting in the grass for the last couple of hours, watched as he tossed something into the air, watched the late afternoon sun glint off of it, watched him sit a long time before looking at it.
Lorne grabbed two cans now and headed down the back stairs. Halfway to where John was sitting, he slowed down, realizing a part of him was ambivalent about Sheppard taking the assignment. Reaching John, he handed one of the beers down to him.
“So - what’s it gonna be?”
One year later
Sheppard stepped through the hatch, joining Lorne at the forward starboard observation window. Lorne glanced around at him, grinning like a little kid.
“Sir,” Lorne acknowledged casually. The rank difference between them hadn’t changed their easy friendship, but publicly protocol was protocol.
“So – “ Sheppard prompted again.
“So what do you think?” Sheppard motioned generically towards the noise and interference that translated into iridescent streaks of blue as the Daedalus moved thru hyperspace. “It’s your first time off-world, other than through the gate, right? Is it what you expected?”
“Yeah, and a hell of a lot more. It’s as amazing as you said. And you were right; this is definitely the best spot on the ship. This is the first time I’ve walked by that someone wasn’t in here.”
“Could be ‘cause it’s 0200 ship time and the only people awake are on watch,” Sheppard noted.
“Maybe,” Lorne conceded.
Lorne shook his head. “Too excited. This is the ultimate e-ticket ride.”
He stared back out into space as it rushed towards the fused silica and alumino-silicate glass of the observation windows.
“Ships?” he finally said.
Sheppard hesitated then smiled. “Yeah,” he confirmed, “puddlejumpers. Like the one that SGC has only we got lots of them.”
“Spaceships,” Lorne repeated and they both laughed, the sound dying comfortably between them.
After a moment of companionable silence, Sheppard spoke.
“I’m really glad you took the assignment, did I mention that?”
“Did I mention how really glad I was you selected me?”
“You were a shoe-in as soon as you applied,” Sheppard said.
“Yeah. Nobody else wanted you and SGC had to stick you somewhere.”
“You’re a riot.”
After another moment of silence, Sheppard bumped Lorne with his elbow.
“Know what the best thing about this particular room is?”
Sheppard turned and glanced out of the hatch, pulling it closed when he pulled his head back in. He forced the handle down hard, “dogging” it closed and turning back to Lorne.
He stepped close to Lorne, his hands slipping into Lorne’s dark hair, his mouth closing over Lorne’s, soft against his lips.
“I missed you.”