blue flamingos

Meanwhile, Back On Atlantis...

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Category/Rated: Gen, G

Year/Length: 2008/ ~1210 words

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

Summary: what Sheppard did while Lorne was off-world.

Series: The Return 'verse

Author's Notes: Time stamp for For [info]_la_la_la.

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

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Lorne had been gone for two days, chilling out (John hoped) with the botanists, when Ronon sat down opposite John in the mess and said, "Clark."

"Yeah?" John asked, trying to place the name. "The marine biologist who came on the Daedalus at the start of the year?"

"Yep." Ronon stole John's muffin, which John considered fair payment (especially since it was poppy seed and he hated the way the seeds stuck in his teeth). "Couple of different people said so."

John didn't doubt the truth of what Ronon was saying; he had no idea how Ronon did it, but he got all the gossip in the city within hours of it starting, and what he didn't hear, he knew how to find out. It was just that Clark hadn't ever been off-world in his eight months in the city, had had minimal contact at best with the marines and Lorne; John couldn't imagine why he'd want to start that kind of rumor. "Thanks, buddy. I owe you one."

Ronon paused between bites of muffin. "Lorne's a good guy. Everyone talking about him was making him unhappy. About time someone sorted it out."

"Yeah," John agreed, feeling weirdly guilty. Better late than never.

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Clark had to know why he'd been summoned to John's office, but he was doing a good job of hiding it when he walked in, nearly five minutes late; head up, shoulders back, giving off intelligent, twenty-something years old, three masters and a PhD confidence so hard John thought he should have felt it coming.

"Take a seat," he offered. "How're you getting on in Atlantis, Dr Clark?"

"Very well, thank you," Clark said with a small smile. John remembered him, vaguely, from arrival day, the startled expression on his face when the marines had explained that no, they wouldn't be carrying his bags for him. "We've been doing some really interesting work with the –"

"Yeah, honestly?" John said, leaning forward, elbows on his desk, and letting a little bit of the threat show through. "I'm more interested in what you've been doing outside of work."

"Outside of work?" Clark parroted. It was a good act, apart from the way he was pulling at the edge of his right thumb nail.

"Yes, outside of work. Like starting up the rumor that's been going around about two of my men."

"I don't know what you mean," Clark said.

"Dr Clark, I don't know if you've noticed, down in Marine Biology, but over the last couple of months, we've lost our expedition leader, set up two new major research stations on other planets and gone through a large scale change to the military regulations, so I'm sure you'll understand me when I say that I'm a busy man." John smiled, putting an edge into it and watching with satisfaction as Clark dropped his gaze for a second. "I've got a lot to do and not a lot of time in which to get it done, so I'll get straight to the point. I know you started up this rumor, and you know I'm telling the truth –"

"It's hardly a rumor if it's true," Clark interrupted, meeting John's eyes again.

John didn't sigh, but it was a near thing. "I would have thought, as hooked into the rumor mill as you apparently are, that Sergeant Grayson's repeated statements that nothing happened would have reached you by now." Grayson, at least, had been easy to deal with; a quiet word, a quick threat of unspecified but implicitly unpleasant duty, and he'd happily agreed to shut up about it. "Regardless, I'm not interested in hearing why you thought this was a good idea, or even where you got the idea from."

"Isn't the point of this new policy that everyone can be open about their sexuality?" Clark asked. Brilliant marine biologist or not, he clearly wasn't the brightest button in the box. "If he's not ashamed, why should he bother about what people say?"

"How would you like having everyone talk about your private life, Doctor, after you'd spent the last fifteen years making sure nobody did?" John gave it a few seconds to sink in, not that it seemed to be doing so. "Here's what I got you here to say: stop spreading rumors about my men. Stop spreading rumors about anyone in the city, anyone connected to the city, or anyone at all. Stop spreading this rumor in particular. Continue, and you'll get a look firsthand at just what the marines will do to protect their own."

"Major Lorne's not even a marine," Clark said, once again missing the point spectacularly.

"Major Lorne is a member of Atlantis' military forces, one of the people responsible for keeping you safe, and my second in command. Without a civilian leader in the city, I have the final say on everything from duty assignments to who gets to stay. Am I making myself clear?"

"You're threatening me," Clark said. "I could report you to the IOA for this."

"I am," John said, still smiling. Clark was starting to look a little unnerved. "And you could. But you won't. Want to know why?" Clark didn't say anything. "You won't, because I've been serving on a team with Rodney McKay for eight years now. Between us, Major Lorne and I have saved his life more times than you've sat in a lecture theatre, and believe me, Doctor, if I ask him, he will quite happily destroy any prospects you might have for an academic career anywhere in this galaxy or any other."

He paused, watching the realization of just how deadly Rodney could be to a man's career spread over Clark's face. Clark didn't need to know that Rodney, caught up in the latest breakthrough in creating ZPMs, wasn't even aware that the rumor existed.

"Is that clear?" He got a glare in response, and upped the brightness of his grin a little. "So glad we had this little chat, Doctor. Don't let me keep you any longer." He waited until Clark was reaching for the door crystal. "And Doctor? You might like to know that we finalize the passenger manifest for the next Daedalus run to Earth at the end of the week. It's with Captain Fields until then."

Clark didn't slam the door, but John suspected this was only because doors on Atlantis couldn't be slammed.

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He didn't see much of either Ronon or Teyla for the rest of the day, which was unusual, but probably explained why no-one even mentioned Lorne's name that evening in the mess. When he mentioned this, Ronon shrugged and Teyla smiled; John took that to mean he was right, and didn't ask.

When he went back to his office, he found a packet of good coffee and a half dozen green and pink lollipops (his favorites) sitting in the middle of his desk. There wasn't a note or anything, but everyone knew that Zelenka hoarded coffee for when he needed to bribe Rodney, and that Keller kept the lollipops for the Athosian kids.

John tucked the coffee into the bottom desk drawer to wait for Lorne's return, stuck a lollipop in the corner of his mouth, and wandered out into the city, grinning.


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