Pairing (if applicable): Lorne/Sheppard
Rating (use the MPAA as a guideline): PG-13
Warnings (if any): Slash/mpreg
Author's Note (if any): Please check your disbelief at the door, I pushed a few liberties but the medical reasoning is based in fact.
Summary: Sometimes you have to improvise when you're far away from home - an mpreg from a different point of view.
Beta'd by the fabulous drkcherry
Sheppard sat quietly across from Elizabeth while she dictated the letter into her laptop. He wrote letters to the family of every fallen soldier under his command or, like Sumner, under his purview. It was the job of a commanding officer, one of the most important and one of the worst. Elizabeth did too, writing letters for every member of her expedition who would never be going home again, including the Marines who she felt the loss of as keenly as she did every scientist, every technician. Elizabeth was just that way.
Beckett appeared in the doorway, looking drawn and tired. "There's one more of those you're gonna need to write," he informed her as she finished the letter. "He had a fiancée."
Elizabeth sighed, rubbing her temples with both hands. "Do you know her name?"
"You can deliver it in person," Carson said softly. "She's one of my technicians."
Elizabeth looked at Sheppard quickly who shook his head, indicating he hadn't known about the arrangement at all.
"And she's pregnant," Carson added.
A week later Carson found himself in Elizabeth's office again.
"Her body is rejecting the fetus."
"Technician Summers is RH-negative, the fetus is RH-positive. In some rare cases during a second pregnancy the mother will produce Anti-D anti-bodies that attack the fetus. In certain severe cases, the fetus is damaged beyond compatibility - "
"I know the medical breakdown, Carson."
"Apparently Summers had a child four years ago that died around her first birthday."
"I assume you're following standard protocol?"
"The RH-immunoglobulin isn't working," Carson confirmed.
"What are the options?"
"Actually, Rodney thinks he might have a solution."
"Something he found in an Ancient medical database. A procedure - "
"First, there'd be a series of injections, to make the host body compatible," Carson explained patiently. "Then it would be necessary to continue the injections periodically until the fetus can be harvested and placed in another host for the duration of term. The Daedalus is on its way from Earth bringing her sister. It will arrive here in a month but at the rate of deterioration, the baby won't last that long. It probably won't last another 24 hours and honestly it will take that long to get the host body ready for transplant. The parameters for compatibility are very specific and there's only one person onboard who qualifies."
"And I take it this potential host is military," Lorne asked, a little confused at why exactly Carson had contacted him. "You should be talking to Colonel Sheppard about borrowing a Marine, Doc, there's not much I can do to say yea or nay to using someone under his command."
"I've already talked to Colonel Sheppard. He's okayed the procedure, based on the willing participation of the soldier. There are some risks, as there are in any surgical procedure, or pregnancy of any kind, particularly, of course, a high-risk pregnancy."
"I can't imagine anyone would tell you no under the circumstances."
"I was hoping you'd say that."
"Give me a name, Doc, I'll go talk to them right now."
Realization dawned a little slow on Major Lorne as the shock set in.
"Excuse me, Doc."
"You're the only person currently available with the right blood type for the transplant to take place."
Lorne sat perfectly still, staring at the Doctor, not moving, not blinking.
Carson waved a hand in front of his face. "Major?"
"I'm still here," Lorne assured him. "I'm gonna need some time to think about this."
"There isn't any time. We'd have to start the injections now and perform the transplant no later than tomorrow morning."
"Risks," Lorne said simply, his breathing a little shallow.
"Beg your pardon?"
"You said there were risks. What are the risks?"
"The pregnancy might not take, there might be reactions to the injections, to the pregnancy itself, and quite frankly, I've no idea of how you might react physically or mentally. Being pregnant is an extreme situation emotionally...in your case, it would be even more so - "
"I'll do it." Lorne looked calm and determined and just a little terrified around the eyes.
"Are you sure, Major?"
Lorne smiled uncertainly. "Never leave a man behind, Doctor."
Lorne lay on the medical bed just beyond the glass partition and looking none the worse for wear save for the collection of monitors humming away beside him.
"The procedure went well," Carson was saying to Elizabeth and John, the two people Lorne had agreed should be briefed on all things concerning the matter. "He's asleep right now, but that's a normal side-effect of the hormone injections and the serum Rodney developed."
"What other side-effects might arise?" Elizabeth asked.
"I explained everything to Major Lorne before we began, he understands the effects estrogen might have on his body - he spoke to Dr. Heightmeyer at length prior to the first injection. He understands there might be physical as well as emotional consequences. The thing to remember is that the very nature of this process is unnatural. We need to avoid anything that stresses his body or mind, anything that upsets his system or fatigues him in any manner."
"What should we be doing right now?" Elizabeth again, John was still having a little trouble assimilating the situation.
"Offering moral support, don't make a big deal out of this, and don't upset him. He'll wake up on his own later but I've confined him to Medical for at least a week so he'll need something to entertain him."
Elizabeth and Carson looked expectantly at John.
"I'll, uh, take him off the off-world rosters and reassign his duties on Atlantis to someone else," he offered.
"And come back later to offer moral support," Elizabeth added pointedly.
"And come back later to offer moral support," John agreed. "And maybe popcorn?"
John sat in a chair opposite Lorne who was sitting on the med-bed, his feet hanging off the side. The week of observation had become two and still Carson hadn't let him out of sickbay for more than a stroll around the halls with a medical escort. John had done his part by showing up on a regular basis to fill Lorne in on missions, updates on the Daedalus' arrival, the latest version of mystery meat served up in the cafeteria.
"So, how's things?" he said, going for a casual, it's-not-like-you're-pregnant-or-anythin
"I'm pregnant," Lorne deadpanned back.
John winced internally, still kinda unsure how to deal with all this but determined to follow Carson's orders to keep Lorne "not upset".
"No missions, no working out, no hanging out in the labs, no extremely hot baths, no spicy foods," Lorne ticked off the things Carson had prohibited. "I'm not even supposed to watch sports right now, because I might get too excited, my feet hurt, my stomach's inside out and everything itches. How do you think things are going?"
"At least Carson is going to spring you from incarceration - "
"Did he tell you I have to check in with him for monitoring and injections three times a day?"
"Beats living in here," John wisely noted. "Come on, I'll walk you to your quarters, we can grab something to eat on the way."
"You're not going to throw up, are you?" John squinted at Lorne's decidedly green complexion.
"No promises," Lorne grimaced, "but I definitely could've done without smelling that casserole."
Not to mention the stares of half the people in the cafeteria, he thought to himself before saying as much aloud.
"You're just imagining it," John dismissed, "it's not like it's common knowledge."
"It is among the med-techs. They all know."
"And they're sworn to secrecy, patient confidentiality and all that stuff."
Lorne didn't look convinced.
"Look, why don't we blow this place, get you back to your quarters and I'll find us a couple of movies to watch."
"As long as it doesn't involve any more popcorn," Lorne warned, watching John turn green at the memory of the last time he'd brought popcorn.
"Tammy keeps coming by," Lorne said as they watched their fourth night of movies in a row.
John waited silently, figuring the statement had a lot more to it.
"It freaks me out a little, I have no idea what to say to her," Lorne confessed. "And she obviously doesn't know what to say to me - we spend the entire time avoiding looking at each other."
John hit the pause button, freezing Clive Owen midway of crashing through a door.
"I mean, I know she agreed to the whole thing, I know it was the only way Dr. Beckett could think of to save the baby, but somehow I still feel like I took something from her. Especially now, with Weathers being gone and the Daedalus due in a few days. It's just - it's overwhelming."
John wiped a hand across his face, squinting at the screen as though Clive might have some answers.
"Have you talked to Heightmeyer?"
"NO," Lorne barked, leaving the small couch and pacing across his small quarters, "not everything I feel right now means I need to talk to Heightmeyer!"
"Okay," John placated, "just don't get - "
"I AM NOT UPSET!"
"I'm gonna guess raging hormones right now."
The look on Lorne's face made him realize not only had that been the wrong thing to say, he had no hope of saying the right thing no matter what he said. He opted for the fall back position of silence. Lorne returned to the couch and sat back down, head in his hands.
"Beckett started me on anti-rejection drugs today," he said softly.
John cocked his head around, not sure he'd heard correctly.
"Prednisone and Azathioprine."
"You're gonna have to fill me in here, buddy."
"I had the blood tests this morning, this afternoon Beckett called me back in and started me on anti-rejection drugs."
"I'm not sure I'm following..."
"My body is starting to reject the fetus."
"Will the drugs stop it?"
"He doesn't know." Lorne laughed, a harsh, guttural noise. "I can't fail at this. Not when it's this important."
John put his hand on the back of Lorne's neck, rubbing lightly. "I'm right here," he offered, for lack of anything else he could think of.
To his surprise Lorne folded over into his lap, arms around his waist. John rubbed his back, slow, lengthening circles of soft scratches.
"Don't worry," he whispered, listening to Lorne's breathing even out in sleep. "It's just another week. Try not to worry."
They walked together to Lorne's next medical appointment.
"I appreciate you, you know, hanging around," Lorne told John just as they reached the doorway.
John clapped a hand on Lorne's shoulder.
"Gotta take care of my men," he said, keying the door open.
Lorne's look wasn't the happy, reassured one John had been aiming for. The expression was confused, almost hurt. Grabbing his arm, John pulled him back from the door and into the corridor, glancing around to make sure no one was watching.
"Okay," he admitted quietly, leaning toward Lorne. "I like it. So there. I'm a sadistic, strange person and I actually like hanging around you right now. And if you tell anyone, I'll make you go one on one with Ronon for a solid week in the gym."
Lorne grinned, trying to hide it. "Yes, sir."
The door opened again with Beckett waiting on the inside and giving them an impatient look.
"I haven't got all day - it's hard enough to clear the place out three times a day without having to wait on you two to show up."
With Lorne quickly ensconced on the bed, Carson set to work drawing a small vial of blood and running through the rote of questions he asked on every visit. John wandered off to poke at various medical experiments strewn about the lab tables.
"Nausea subsiding at all?"
"Dizzy spells, fainting?"
Carson pulled at Lorne's pant legs. "Swelling any better?"
"Some - a nice, HOT bath would help..."
"No hot baths. Going to the bathroom okay?"
"Yes," Lorne said, becoming embarrassed. "Nothing has changed over the last eight hours. Nothing," he added pointedly.
"You mean the - "
"Yes!" Lorne hissed, keeping his voice low.
"Exaggerated sexual desire is common during pregnancy, particularly the first stages; it's just your body adjusting to the sudden increase in estrogen. Is it causing problems for you?"
"Other than walking around with a boner 24/7 and wanting to hump everything in sight no, none at all," Lorne assured him.
"I doubt there is much that I can do to counteract that, and I wouldn't want to unless it is causing you some sort of harm. Anything we do right now is a threat to the fetus."
"No, it's fine," Lorne brushed off, "nothing I can't deal with. But," he added, not seeing Sheppard walk around the corner and back into the room, "if women are this horny throughout their pregnancies, I don't see how they ever get anything done. I'm ready to hump a wall."
Sheppard raised his eyebrows. "I should probably wait out there," he said, motioning toward the door to the corridor.
Beckett finished with his questions and took the blood for testing. One of the nurses came over and held up a hypodermic.
"What side'll it be today, Major?"
Sliding off the bed with a grimace, Lorne pushed his BDU's off his right ass-cheek, baring it to her.
"You know, you should really take advantage of this opportunity," she said.
Leaning in close she whispered, "Fucking while your pregnant is out-of-this-world," accenting her words with the jab of the needle.
They'd managed to go through just about every movie on Atlantis and Sheppard was forced to resort to borrowing Cadman's laptop and her barrage of "chic-movies". After the first one made Lorne tear up again, Sheppard suggested a game of cards which Lorne promptly vetoed.
"What do you want to do, then?"
The couch was small and Sheppard was right there and he was warm and he smelled like clean soap and fresh laundry and Lorne leaned into him, mouth pressed to John's, lips pulling at John's. He moved closer, lips apart, tongue slipping into John's warm mouth and John reacted...
...not at all. He didn't move, didn't flinch, didn't say anything. Lorne sat back abruptly.
"No, it's okay," John reassured him.
"It's just the hormones," Lorne blamed, sitting back against the couch. "Doctor Beckett said they'd take some getting used to."
"Did the hormones suddenly make you gay, by any chance?"
"No, the hormones didn't."
John sat still, not sure what to do, trying to think of the best thing to say, trying not to think of how Lorne hadn't really denied being gay.
"You're, uh, not upset or anything that I asked about the gay thing, are you?" he asked lamely. "You're not supposed to get upset."
John knew the question sounded lame but it was all he could manage at the moment while thinking about how oddly not upset he was that his Second-in-command had just kissed him. He was also trying not to think about how soft Lorne's lips were and how much he was noticing.
"No," Lorne sighed, dropping his head onto the back of the sofa. "I'm just really needy."
"Okay, needy. Needy I can do," John smiled.
Lorne raised an eyebrow and John blushed to the roots of his hair.
"As long as you're not upset."
It took him a minute to realize Lorne was crying. Not sobbing, his eyes were just quietly filling up with moisture. He reached over and pulled the Major into his arms. The hormones really were wreaking havoc in the man's body, wringing him out, flooding him with an intensity of emotion he wasn't equipped to deal with. It wasn't his fault the estrogen was making him horny as hell.
"Four more days, buddy, that's it, four more days," he soothed, stroking Lorne's hair.
Lorne lay against his CO's chest, trying to gage the eternity of four days.
"Sorry about kissing you like that," he offered.
"Don't even think about it," John replied. "The whole world's a little crazy right now, ya know?"
Lorne had a great room. It was located, like the other living quarters, on Atlantis' outer corridors, giving the occupant an unimpeded view of the ocean. Lorne, one of the later arrivals, had gotten a room on the East side, farther away from the initial hub originally settled. The result was a gorgeous view of the sunrise - something Sheppard had not noticed until this morning. Of course, today also marked the first occasion he'd found himself in Lorne's quarters at sunrise.
Lorne definitely had a better view than he did and he said as much as the younger man woke up, stretching awkwardly before bolting upright out of his CO's lap.
Lorne blinked at the fuzz in his sleep-fogged brain.
"Morning, sunshine," John tried again.
"You've been here all night?"
"Right here," he grinned stiffly. "All night."
Lorne grimaced. "Sorry. And thanks?" he added, not really sure what to say.
"Don't mention it. Although I kept expecting you to get up and have to go to the bathroom. Aren't you supposed to..."
"That's only when the baby presses on your bladder, and it isn't big enough to do that," Lorne corrected.
"Oh," John answered in that I'm-not-really-having-this-conversation sort of way.
"I asked Dr Beckett about it already," Lorne supplied without his asking.
"Right," he accepted, thinking how that was so much more than he'd wanted to know. "Listen, I'm gonna go get a shower and clean clothes..."
"Yeah, me, too," Lorne winced; he hadn't felt this awkward since high school. "I've gotta hit medical first thing this morning - "
"That's cool, I'll be back to walk with you."
"Yeah?" Lorne said brightly and winced again, even he could hear how teenaged-girl that'd sounded.
"Yeah," John said, as if any other option had never been considered.
The door to Lorne's quarters opened as John approached it. Lorne was leaving his quarters fast, a little wide-eyed and a whole lot panicked.
"It hurts, I can't - I don't know...it just doesn't feel right, something isn't right."
John opted not to point out that being a pregnant man was a whole new category of not right in itself.
"Come on," he said instead, slipping his shoulder under Lorne's and heading for the end of the corridor.
"No transporters," Lorne said. "Beckett doesn't think I should use them right now."
"Fine," John scowled. "Just take it easy, walk slow."
The trip to the infirmary lasted forever. When they finally arrived, John ushered Lorne in without waiting for the staff to clear the room.
"Get Beckett," he ordered the closest nurse, pushing Lorne onto the nearest bed.
He grabbed Lorne's feet and propped them on the end of the bed. Lorne looked at him like he'd lost his mind.
"They always tell you to put your feet up," he muttered, playing off his actions.
"Fever? Dizziness?" Beckett asked as he hurried over.
"Pain," Lorne replied, "it just hurts."
John faded into the background as Dr Beckett and his team went to work, standing quietly to one side, feeling helpless and angry and something else...something lying underneath all of that.
"Is he okay?" John beat Elizabeth to the question when Beckett entered his office.
"For now, yes, I've given him something to sleep and increased the anti-rejection drugs intravenously. I've also ordered bed rest until the Daedalus arrives. After the intravenous course of prednisone, I'm willing to confine him to quarters if someone will stay with him," Beckett looked pointedly at John.
"Sure," John shrugged.
Elizabeth nodded her agreement. "What are the chances...." she asked carefully.
"Seventy-two hours is a long time," Beckett confirmed. "Right now, we can only hope for the best."
"I'll contact Daedalus, let Colonel Caldwell know what the situation is."
"What are the dangers right now? To Lorne?" John asked abruptly.
Beckett understood that Sheppard's first priority was to his men, the soldiers under his command.
"Physically, very little. There is always a danger of rejection, or reaction to the anti-rejection drugs, but the Major has had good tolerance for both the medications and the procedure. Plus he's physically fit and healthy which lessens any risks considerably."
"What happens if it...the baby, is rejected?"
"At this stage of development his body might simply absorb the tissue or we might have to surgically remove - "
"But there's no danger to him if that happens, right?"
"Not unless the tissue becomes infected in which case it would have to be removed surgically and that would carry the routine risk of surgery, but emotionally - "
"Not everything that happens means he needs to talk to Heightmeyer," John bit out, echoing Lorne's words of earlier.
"Of course not," Beckett tried to placate the Colonel.
"Listen, Doc, I'm all for this thing, nothing would make me happier than you guys pulling this one off and you've got my total support. But at the end of the day, that's one of my people you've got in there," he jabbed a finger in the general direction of Lorne's bed. "If things go south, I'll pull the plug on this, you got me?"
"Yes, Colonel," Beckett agreed.
"Can I see him?" John asked.
"Certainly," Beckett replied, he and Elizabeth watching John leave the room.
"I'll contact Daedalus," Elizabeth said softly. "Thank you, Carson."
Lorne stirred slowly, trying to shake off the feeling of bone deep fatigue that pressed him into the bed.
"Hey," John leaned forward. "Nice to see you back."
"Is everything okay?" He blinked fuzzily, squinting around the darkened room.
"Other than you being handcuffed to the wall for the next twelve hours or so," John indicated the IV line and bag hanging from a hook on the wall. "I'd say yeah, everything's great."
Lorne levered himself up on his elbows with considerable effort. He flexed the hand connected to the IV and frowned. "Swell," he commented dryly.
"Hey, have you got any idea how many cool points you're gonna rack for this?" John asked, hitching his eyebrows to indicate the potential was pretty hefty.
He was rewarded with a heartfelt grin, the first he'd seen on Lorne in a couple of days.
"Look, if you wanna take off, don't feel like you need to stay around - "
"I'm staying," John said pointedly.
"I just hate for you to feel - "
"Here's the thing, Major. I understand that you felt you had to do this, that you felt you had a responsibility because of the position you were in, but there's something you need to understand. I'm in a position here, too, and you're my responsibility. You take care of what you have to take care of, but I'm here to take care of you. Understand?"
"Yes, sir," Lorne breathed, relieved the enormity of that decision was off his shoulders. He would never have asked, but he should have known Sheppard would think of it.
He would think of his men first. Always first.
"Why don't you try to sleep until that bag is empty," John suggested. "Doc says you can go back to quarters when it is. Weir's calling Caldwell and telling him to kick Daedalus in the warp engines and we've still got three episodes of 'Second Sight' to get through."
"Yes, sir," Lorne repeated, laying back against the pillow.
Shifting restlessly, Lorne propped his feet on the small table that served as a workspace in his quarters. After a moment he dropped them down again, crossing them at the ankles. A moment after that, he propped them back on the table, bumping the laptop again. He grabbed for his glass of water, displaced by the computer.
"My feet are swollen," he mumbled.
"It's a reaction from the prednisone," Lorne explained. "Just one of the many fun reactions I've gotten to experience. I normally shave every day and put up with a little five o'clock shadow, but now? Twice a day, sometimes three times. And the really fun part? I break out in a rash from the shaving gel. I itch for an hour every time I shave!"
"Let it grow," John suggested.
"Against regulations," Lorne vetoed.
"I think maybe we can let it slide, you know, under the circumstances."
"I'm trying not to let myself go," he joked.
"I never thought I looked all that good in a beard, anyway. That's one regulation I'm happy to comply with."
"I don't know, I've always been a little fond of the scruffy look. Makes me look rugged," John returned, canting his head to a side so Lorne could be impressed.
Lorne snorted the water he was drinking through his nose.
"Why'd you do it?" John asked, suddenly serious but there was no reproach in his tone, just simple curiosity.
"It's not like I had a choice," Lorne said.
"What? Wait-a-minute - this was strictly voluntary, that's why I okayed them talking to you about it. Did Beckett - or Weir - put pressure on you?"
Sheppard was immediately on the defensive. He was the consummate team player until something threatened one of his people - then he was quick to rally to the defense, no matter the opposition or the odds.
"No, nothing like that," Lorne corrected him quickly.
"Then - "
"What would you have done if you'd been in my place?"
John pursed his lips, his eyes anywhere but on Lorne. "I don't know," he admitted, finally looking up at Lorne.
Lorne sat up, shrugging, his large, long-fingered hands worrying the edge of the couch. "See what I mean? Tell me that was any kind of choice."
John reached out but Lorne pushed off the couch abruptly and walked over to one of the windows. John followed him across the small room, putting a hand on Lorne's shoulder. Lorne was by no means a small man but his size belied the true strength of his body. He was compact and solid and beautiful and John wondered why he'd never really seen that before. He pulled Lorne around gently and this time when their mouths met, it had been John who had initiated the kiss.
Lorne hesitated half-heartedly, even tried to draw away.
"You don't...have to..." he said against John's mouth.
"Shut up," John growled without reproach.
And froze. And pulled away quickly.
"I'm sorry - I didn't mean, I mean, that wasn't an order..." he stammered.
"Way to spoil the mood, Colonel," Lorne sassed, balling his hands in John's shirt and pulling him back.
"Colonel Sheppard, Major Lorne?"
John stumbled back fast, fumbling for his earpiece.
"Yeah, go ahead."
"I've just spoken with Colonel Caldwell," Elizabeth was saying. "The Daedalus will be arriving at 0400 Atlantis time. Dr Beckett would like Major Lorne in Medical in order to prepare for the surgery."
"We're on our way."
Lorne knocked on John's door, short simple raps.
"Come in," John called, the door sliding out of the way. "Hey - you ready for those last three episodes of 'Second Sight'? I wasn't sure about the popcorn yet, so I got chips from one of the guys in the engineering lab - "
John trailed off when Lorne didn't move into the room, remaining hovering at the door instead.
"I uh, just thought I should come by and tell you Doc's keeping me off the off-world roster until I'm completely off the prednisone."
"That's another week, right?"
"Yeah, it's not good to quit cold turkey. Side effects can be bad."
"But everything else is good, right?" John asked cautiously.
"Yeah," Lorne agreed too quickly.
"And you're okay with everything that happened?"
"Yeah," he agreed again.
When John didn't say anything else, Lorne backed into the door awkwardly.
"Well, I guess I'd better get going."
"Do you want to stay and watch the show?" John offered.
"I, um, don't really...." Lorne shrugged.
His body language, his tone, everything was wrong and John caught on.
"It was the hormones," John offered, leaving them both a way out. "And it was okay. It is okay."
Lorne froze, wondering how brave he was, wondering if it would be worse to just walk out of the room - or harder to stay.
"I just didn't want to," he groped for words, "to...expect....anything."
"Then don't," John allowed. "We'll play it by ear, make it up as it goes."
Lorne reached out, his hand on John's arm.
"It wasn't the hormones," he blurted, "but without the - situation....I didn't think - do you think - I mean, what do we - do we have - "
John shrugged. "We could always get a puppy."
Lorne grinned, snatching the disk out of John's had and walking out of the quarter's doorway.
"HEY! Where are you going with the movie?"
"My screen's bigger than yours," he smiled, popping his head back in. "And my room's got a better view. At sunrise."