blue flamingos

Hide and Seek

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Category/Rated: Slash, R

Year/Length: 2008/ ~3746 words

Pairing: Ronon/Lorne

Spoilers: major spoilers for SGA 4.04 Doppelganger

Disclaimer: No, I don't own them, for which I should think they're profoundly grateful.

Summary: Some things are only seen in their effect

Author's Notes: For [info]14valentines Day 10: Peace Movement

Beta: by [info]domtheknight.

Feedback: Yes please. Even if it's bad. Especially if it's bad.

hr

Ronon's not surprised when he finds Sheppard in the conference room, well into the third shift. He's got his computer open in front of him, but he's not looking at the screen. He's not paying attention either, because he doesn't look over when Ronon approaches, despite Ronon not trying to be quiet.

The two marines in the gate-room look up and nod to him, then go back to whatever they're doing – like every one of these nights over the past couple of years, he doesn't care enough to find out. They're too used to his presence, and Sheppard's, to bother making conversation.

"Hey," he says, leaning in the open doorway.

Sheppard blinks, coming back to himself. "Everything okay?"

"They're not due for another two hours. Come spar for an hour."

"It's half past one in the morning," Sheppard says, but he's just protesting because he always does; his hand is already on the lid of his laptop.

"So?" Ronon asks. "You doing something more interesting?"

Sheppard makes a twisty, caught out face. "No. Unless you consider duty assignments for next month interesting."

"I don't," Ronon says. "Come on, let's go."

"All right, all right. No-one ever tell you patience is a virtue?" Sheppard asks, closing the computer and standing up.

"Nope," Ronon says. Patience wasn't considered a bad thing on Sateda, but it wasn't considered an exceptionally good thing either. He's never seen much evidence that it is here, either.

Sheppard shrugs. "I can tell."

hr

Ronon thought it was weird, the first time he found Sheppard in the conference room, late at night, long after everyone else had gone to bed. He'd only been on Atlantis a couple of months then, still adjusting to living in one place, with all these people who could be his friend, his colleague, who called him by name every day. Sometimes, he just needed to be out of his room, moving around; sometimes, once he was certain it was allowed, he went through the control gallery, just to see the ring, and one night Sheppard was there, not doing anything that Ronon could see, just sitting in the conference room.

Ronon didn't want to talk to anyone, so he didn't stop, and Sheppard didn't see him.

It took him three more nights where the same thing happened before he realized that Sheppard was only there when a team was due back late at night, or very early in the morning, waiting for them.

It was another in a long list of things that made Sheppard nothing like Kell, that he'd give up his own comfort just to make sure his people were okay when they got back. Ronon couldn't remember Kell ever being there when his old team had come through the ring after a trip to a world that was having their day during Sateda's night.

Next time, he tried dropping by, sitting at the table with Sheppard and waiting; Sheppard never objected, or even said anything, and after a while it got to be habit.

hr

Sparring with Sheppard isn't hard the way sparring with Teyla, or some of the better marines, is; it's hard in the way he remembers from teaching young kids on Sateda, having to pay attention to not hurting Sheppard, rather than just falling into the rhythm of the movements.

It still works for what he wants, shutting his mind off in a way that he still hasn't managed while meditating with Teyla. He can see the evidence, like this, of what he's taught Sheppard since he got here, and the shape of the kind of fighter Sheppard could become, if they keep going. He'll never be a great hand-to-hand fighter, coming to it too late in life, but Ronon likes to think he and Teyla are helping Sheppard to get better.

It's a good feeling.

Sheppard pushes it hard, like he's trying to distract himself, and they're both sweating after half an hour. Ronon's glad for the chance to slow down and circle, waiting for Sheppard to make his move.

Instead, Sheppard gives him a sharp grin and says, "I know why you're really here"; the split second of surprise on Ronon's part is enough for Sheppard to make the hit Ronon would usually have blocked.

Sheppard's expression flashes to something childishly gleeful for a second, then falls. "Shit, Ronon, you're bleeding."

Ronon touches his fingers to the spot where Sheppard hit him. The cut doesn't feel too bad, but his fingers are stained when he lifts his hand away. "You hit me pretty hard," he says mildly.

"I thought you'd block it," Sheppard protests. "Come on, I'll walk you to the infirmary."

The city corridors, like always, seem to swallow the sound of their feet in the dim light. Ronon's often wondered if this is something the city actually does, or if he's imagining it. He's never conscious of hearing or not hearing, people's footfalls in the day, when they make so many other noises that let him know they're coming.

"What did you mean?" he asks as they make their way to the nearest transporter.

Sheppard, commendably, doesn't pretend not to know what he's talking about. "I know the real reason you're staying up with me," he says.

"I always do," Ronon says, but he knows Sheppard really does know; he's got the same I know something you don't know I know look that he gets when he manages to impress McKay.

"Yeah, but usually you're just keeping me company while I wait," Sheppard says, following Ronon into the transporter and touching their destination. "You're waiting as well."

Ronon doesn't say anything; it usually works to shut up the Earth people. Besides, he doesn't fully understand all the regulations, only that Lorne worries about Sheppard knowing and asked Ronon not to say anything, even after Ronon pointed out that Sheppard clearly doesn't care. They've not been doing this long enough for him to push it yet, especially since it's not that long since he nearly left Atlantis to rejoin his old team and Lorne's still a little pissed about it.

"Fine," Sheppard says with a sigh. "But you could tell him that I couldn't care less what you two are getting up to in your off hours, though I'm a little insulted that either of you thought I would."

Ronon doesn't want to try to explain how things really are, so he settles on, "Thanks," which seems to satisfy Sheppard for long enough that he leaves Ronon alone with Keller.

hr

Lorne and his team come through the gate ten minutes early, fifteen minutes after Ronon got back to the gate-room.

"I think I can cope on my own for a half hour," Sheppard said when he got there.

Ronon let Sheppard check his stitches and didn't say that he had to come by, just to check everyone was still here. He understood, then, why Teyla and Keller had been so unnerved by their dreams of Sheppard.

"Fine," Sheppard said, giving up on getting a reply, and leaned next to Ronon on the balcony rail until the gate activated.

The four men look pleased with themselves as the gate closes down behind them.

"Welcome back, Major," Sheppard calls down.

"Sir," Lorne returns. "Ronon."

Ronon nods back.

"Good trip?" Sheppard asks.

"Yes, sir. They've got a machine that they say protects them from the Wraith, though I'm not sure if it really does."

"It had a lot of flashing lights," Reed adds.

"Okay, we'll discuss it in the debrief, I'll get McKay to send someone from engineering." Ronon watches Reed and Henderson exchange a look that clearly says they know it'll be McKay in person, and that they'll have to listen to him complain about the lack of engineers on Lorne's team and how a botanist is one step up from a historical anthropologist in terms of usefulness. "If there's nothing else, all of you get some sleep. We'll debrief with Colonel Carter at 1030 tomorrow, you're all off duty till then."

hr

"Ugh," Lorne says, falling back on his bed, fully clothed. Ronon sits on the foot of the bed and starts taking his own boots off. "I hate these kinds of missions, my body's got no idea what time it is."

Ronon understands that – he's been on a couple of similar missions with Sheppard's team, where they're not on the planet long enough to adjust, then come back from the middle of the day to the middle of the night. "You tired?" he asks.

Lorne lifts his head to grin at Ronon. "Not that tired," he says, and pulls Ronon down on top of him.

hr

Ronon wakes up a couple of hours later, just enough light coming through the window for him to pick out Lorne's features, relaxed in sleep. He's lying on his stomach, face turned towards Ronon, one hand tucked under his head, sleeping the utterly still sleep of the exhausted. Probably didn't get much sleep off-world.

He climbs reluctantly out of bed – it's not that he can't function perfectly well on a couple of hours' sleep, it's just that he's still tired and would prefer not to. He's arranged to meet Sheppard to go running though, and if he's not there, Sheppard will come looking for him. Not that finding out Ronon's sleeping somewhere other than his room will come as a shock to Sheppard, but he might say something to Lorne, who is, in Ronon's opinion, unnecessarily paranoid. Of course, Ronon never belonged to the kind of military that cared about who you slept with, so he'll admit he doesn't really understand.

He finds his left boot under Lorne's desk, which is weird since he put them both under the bed, and decides he'll just shower after their run.

Lorne's sleeping in the same long-sleeved shirt and soft pants he always wears in bed – and always insists on dressing in before going to seep, ready for when he gets called out to deal with an emergency in the middle of the night. He still looks cold. Ronon pulls the covers up to his shoulders again, tucking them carefully round him. Just for a second, he lets his hand rest on the back of Lorne's neck, soaking up the touch. Lorne shifts a little under his hand, and Ronon removes it before he can wake Lorne, heading out to meet Sheppard.

hr

Three hours later, Ronon's on his way to the gate-room to brief Stackhouse's team on Insit greeting rituals, ready for their mission tomorrow, when a door slides open and Colonel Carter hurries through.

"Everything all right?" he asks. Carter always looks flustered and like she's in a hurry to be somewhere, but there's an added urgency to her this time.

"Ronon," she says, slowing down slightly. "Come with me please?" Ronon obligingly falls into step with her. "Your gun has a stun setting, doesn't it?" she asks. They turn a corner, heading towards the transporter.

Ronon nods again, waiting for her to get to the point. She's a lot like Dr Weir in that way. "We've got an incident in the quarters' atrium, I'm not entirely clear on what exactly it is. Security are down there, but I'd really rather avoid anyone getting shot for real if it goes that far."

"There's a raised walkway," Ronon offers. "I can stun whoever it is from up there." Not for the first time, he thinks about suggesting they go to the world where he found his blaster, see if there are more. He's not sure why he hasn't done it yet.

"That sounds good." They step into the transporter and out again a couple of levels above the atrium. "Use your best judgment," Carter tells him, then turns to go down the stairs.

Ronon makes his way towards the atrium walkway, guided by the voices below, one agitated, one trying for calm and not quite managing it. He's used to crises happening in the gate-room, surrounded by half a dozen marines armed with P-90s – the city sensors usually pick up any problems before they get this far in.

He steps quietly out onto the walkway and, without the walls to distort them, recognizes the voices: Carter's down there as well now, her tone the same fake calm as Sheppard's; the other, raised in agitation and frustration, is Lorne, and it's only then that Ronon realizes the security detail have their guns trained on him for a reason. He's holding the pistol he keeps by his bed, aiming it at Sheppard.

Ronon has a moment to wonder what's happened, when Lorne was peacefully asleep a couple of hours ago, then Lorne swings his weapon round to cover Carter as well. "Shoot them!" he says, and Ronon thinks, Sorry, and stuns him.

Lorne's whole body convulses and he goes down hard. Ronon doesn't want to look – it's a much better option than someone getting hurt trying to take him, but lately, shooting his own people has taken on an exceptionally bad taste.

"Thanks," Sheppard says when Ronon joins them. He's crouched at Lorne's side with Heightmeyer, who has her fingers against Lorne's pulse. "He's okay. Someone get a medical team down here."

"Are you sure it's a good idea to take him to the infirmary?" Carter asks, looking down at Sheppard and Lorne. "We don't know what caused this. We don't even know if this is really Major Lorne."

Ronon takes great care not to look at her or let his expression change. He's sure he'd have known last night if the man was an imposter using Lorne's skin.

"Well, it's better than tossing him in the brig," Sheppard says, standing up. "Getting stunned kind of hurts."

"I wasn't suggesting we should," Carter says. "Just that –"

Ronon tunes them out, crouching next to Lorne and sliding his gun from his slack fingers. He's still in his sleep clothes, barefoot, and he looks incredibly vulnerable, knocked out and surrounded by people with guns. Ronon hopes the medical team is on its way.

It's strange for Lorne not to be wearing his boots. They've had two call outs in the early morning while Ronon's been in Lorne's quarters, and both times Lorne's stopped to put on his boots and his thigh holster, which he isn't wearing either. Even if he's in his sleeping clothes, Lorne likes to be dressed properly for whatever's happening, and not at risk of being taken down by someone stepping on his toes.

"Ronon," Teyla says quietly, touching his shoulder. Ronon hadn't even known she was there. "The medical team is here."

"Right," Ronon says, backing away.

The doctor kneels to check Lorne's pulse, then gestures for her team to get him on the gurney.

"Isolation Room One, please," Carter says to them, and they head off.

"He will soon wake up and be able to explain what happened," Teyla says. A marine comes over to take the ARG she's holding, and Lorne's gun. "I was hoping to spar with John, but clearly he is busy. Perhaps you would like to join me?"

With Carter and Sheppard both busy with Lorne, the briefing, which was supposed to include Carter, will be postponed, so he has nothing else to do. "Sure," he says.

hr

They're cooling down, sitting against the gym wall, when Sheppard's voice comes in his ear piece, explaining that Lorne was sleep walking, that he had one of the nightmares, but that he's okay.

"Guess he must have brushed up against you in the gate-room last night," Sheppard adds, his voice giving nothing away.

"Must have done," Ronon agrees.

He doesn't mean to go down to the room where Lorne's still being held, but, when Teyla goes back to her quarters to shower before meeting with Carter and the others, his feet seem to take him there anyway.

The big window looking down on the room below reminds him of prison cells on Sateda, except that there would have been several dozen people in a room this size, instead of just Lorne, still barefoot, sitting at a table in the middle of the room, staring at the opposite wall.

Ronon presses the button to talk and says, "Hey," startling Lorne into looking up.

"Hey," he says. He tilts his head slightly, indicating the guards above him. Ronon nods – message received.

"You okay?" he asks.

"At least I got an excuse to miss debrief with McKay," Lorne says with a shrug that's obviously intended to be casual. He doesn't quite manage it, the lines of his body too tense. Ronon can't imagine Lorne likes being locked in by his own people any more than Ronon would. "Might have just been easier to go," Lorne adds.

"Sorry about the –" Ronon makes a hand gesture that even he can see doesn't show anything, meaning, sorry for giving you energy crystal nightmares so you nearly shot your CO and got locked up. He remembers how it felt to run through the empty city, to look at Sheppard's face while he was burying Ronon alive.

"You didn't know," Lorne says.

Ronon's ear piece beeps. "I gotta –" he says over Sheppard asking where he is.

"Right," Lorne says. He's a little too far away for Ronon to see properly, but he thinks there's a moment of longing on Lorne's face – for escape, for the chance to be involved in the meeting. "Thanks for stopping by."

"No problem," Ronon says. He wants to say something else, to apologize for stunning Lorne, but he can't with an audience. "Later."

hr

Ronon knows that Lorne gets let out once the entity gets into Heightmeyer, but he still hasn't seen him when it's all over, the entity trapped ready for them to take back in the morning.

Sheppard and McKay, when Keller finally unhooks them from the machines, are shaky and dazed, and they can't seem to stop looking at each other. "Bad?" Ronon asks Sheppard quietly, under cover of McKay and Carter talking science.

Sheppard nods, his eyes going back to McKay. "Bad," he agrees. He shrugs. "What's one more nightmare, right?" Another look at McKay, who's looking back this time. They look at one another for a long moment, then Sheppard snaps out of it. "Carter's ordered everyone affected by the entity to take the afternoon off, in case of any lasting after-effects. That includes you."

"Sure," Ronon says. He's fairly certain Sheppard will let him count hand-to-hand with the marines as downtime; he always has before, unless Ronon's been physically injured.

"Lorne as well," Sheppard adds.

hr

Lorne's fully dressed down to his boots when he swipes his door open in answer to Ronon's knock. He looks like he should be in bed, his eyes dark and tired. "Hey," he says.

"Hey," Ronon says. The corridor's empty, but he gives his excuse anyway, holding up the DVD case. "Wanted someone to watch this with."

"Sure," Lorne says. "Come in."

The door slides closed behind Ronon with its usual thump, but it sounds louder. He can't remember ever being in Lorne's quarters in the daylight, and they look different in some indefinable way, like he's moved everything a couple of inches from where it normally is.

He puts the DVD carefully on the desk and turns back around. Lorne's standing over by the bed, about as far from Ronon as he can get, hands in his pockets.

"This okay?" Ronon asks, suddenly unsure. They bonded early on over the trials of being Sheppard's second – Lorne in the city, Ronon in the field, since Teyla is, technically, more civilian than military – but he still finds Lorne hard to read sometimes.

"It's fine," Lorne says. He laughs a little, self-consciously. "I guess I'm just – I keep forgetting I can't infect you."

"Yeah," Ronon says, waiting for the rest.

"Not that it helped with Doctor Heightmeyer," Lorne adds, frowning.

"Wasn't your fault," Ronon says.

Lorne gives him a sharp smile. "Not much consolation when it killed her."

There's only one response to that, as far as Ronon's concerned, especially since Heightmeyer's death really isn't Lorne's fault. He pushes Lorne up against the wall and goes to his knees to suck him off.

hr

When they eventually make it to the bed, lying next to each other, sweaty and half-naked, Ronon looks up at the ceiling and says, "Sorry I stunned you." He feels like he's been waiting to say it for weeks instead of a couple of days, and it's a relief to have done so.

"That was you?" Lorne asks, turning his head to look at Ronon. "Sheppard didn't say."

"Yeah. Sorry."

Lorne shrugs, as much as he can lying on his back. "It's Pegasus, someone's always getting shot by our own people. At least it wasn't set to kill."

"Yeah," Ronon says. He doesn't mention that, if he'd had to, he would have killed Lorne to protect Sheppard. He's fairly sure Lorne feels that same about him anyway, so there's no point in saying it.

hr

It's a couple of days later, the crystal returned, the reports written and everything back to normal, the schedule pushed back slightly, when Ronon, passing by Sheppard's and Lorne's offices in search of Sergeant Reed, hears Lorne finish saying, "- strange energy readings off world before bringing the sources back to the city."

"You don't have to convince me there, Major," Sheppard says.

"I was going to resend the reminder about not touching strange devices as well," Lorne adds, sounding a little strained. Ronon, leaning against the wall and eavesdropping shamelessly (he has a reputation to uphold in the city), imagines Lorne's expression of this means you, but I'm too good an officer to say so.

"Message received," Sheppard says dryly. "Maybe we need to add 'touching people' to that."

"Sir?" Lorne asks.

"Well, it was passed by touch. I never realized you and Ronon were that close." Ronon recognizes Sheppard's teasing tone, but he's less sure that Lorne will as well.

"Must have brushed against each other in the gate-room after the last mission, sir," Lorne says, proving Ronon right.

"Is that what they're calling it these days?" Sheppard asks.

"Sir?" Lorne says, still in his tight, professional voice.

"Oh, relax, Lorne, for God's sake," Sheppard says, exasperated. "You're giving me a stiff neck just looking at you." There's a shuffle that might be Lorne doing as he's asked. "Do what you like with Ronon. Just don't send him back to the team with any new bruises."

"Colonel –" Lorne protests, sounding equal parts amused and horrified. "That's –"

Sheppard makes a strangled noise. "I thought the 'don't, please God, give me details' was implied."

"Sorry," Lorne says, now wholly amused. "But you did ask."

"Doesn't mean you have to tell."


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