blue flamingos

Been Five Years

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Category/Rated: Slash, PG-13

Year/Length: 2008/ ~3604 words

Pairing: Lorne/Sheppard

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

Summary: It's not often fate works for them instead of against them. Evan's planning on making the most of the one time it does.

Author's Notes: Written for _la_la_la who correctly guessed which mcshep_match story I'd written back in... ok, July, wow, I didn't realise it had been that long, and who wanted to see how Lorne and Sheppard got together, pre- or posr-Pegasus.

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


Evan's out on the edge of the tarmac, mostly hidden from the main buildings by the bulk of the F-117 he's taking up that afternoon, so he's not really expecting anyone to be saying his name anywhere near him.

Even if he had been, it wouldn't have lessened the shock of that voice saying, "Lorne?" sounding as surprised to be saying it as Evan is to be hearing it.

He says, "Yeah," already ducking round the nose of the plane, convinced he's mishearing, but he's not, of course. It's not an 'are you..?' question, it's an 'is it really..?' question, and there's not many people who'd need to ask.

Sheppard is wearing black boots, smart gray pants and a white shirt, open at the neck, sleeves rolled up. His eyes are covered by his sunglasses, which Evan envies, sick of squinting in the early summer sun, and he's leaning on a dark, wooden cane. And he's smiling. Wary, unsure, still kind of surprised, but smiling. It makes Evan feel blank and stupid, cycling through his own surprise too slowly, one more in a long list of combat skills he's slowly losing.

"I thought it was you," Sheppard says, sounding pleased. "I'd shake your hand, but..." He makes a meaningless gesture towards the cane in his right hand, and for a second, Evan's caught in a whirl of memories. Keller explaining just how far she might have to go to save Sheppard's life, if not his leg; Sheppard white-faced and drugged to unconsciousness in the infirmary; Sheppard utterly removed while Keller explained that he still had his leg, complete with a set of metal pins and what that meant, like they didn't all know; Sheppard at the memorial, gasping for breath when he tried to stand, sinking back into the wheelchair in utter defeat under Ronon's careful hands. It's been five years, and it could have been five minutes, the memories glass sharp and just as cutting.

Sheppard's still smiling, and Evan's hyper-conscious that he's said one word in the last few minutes. "What are you doing here?" he asks, which isn't exactly what he meant to say, but isn't exactly *not*, either.

Sheppard's smile turns into an outright grin, one Evan's always associated with the jumpers and his team. "Couple of my kids are out here," he says, looking vaguely over his shoulder. "Weekly check-in to make sure they're not stealing government secrets or talking the pilots into letting them up in anything too dangerous."

"Kids," Evan says, changing it from a question at the last moment, getting it. The two high school kids they've had around the place for the last couple of weeks, on some kind of volunteer work/internship for aspiring pilots, set up by a guy who used to work there, until he quit to teach high school math. "You worked here."

Sheppard looks down and away, his free hand coming up to touch the shiny nose of the plane. "Yeah," he says, all the animation gone from his voice. "Yeah, for a while."

He'd been an advisor to the engineers, Evan remembers from the gossip he'd heard when he first arrived at Lockheed-Martin, two years ago, and how had he not known it was his Sheppard? But Sheppard's not an uncommon name, and Evan hadn't listened that hard – hadn't wanted to listen, hadn't wanted to be one of these people, still raw from losing Atlantis, from his own decision to leave the Air Force.

He thinks Cadman would say that it means something, the way they both ended up here, even if Sheppard left. Cadman, though, thinks he's an idiot for a lot of reasons, and they've agreed not to talk about Sheppard any more.

"I didn't know you worked here," Sheppard says hesitantly, like he's not sure whether Evan's happy to see him or not. Evan wonders if Zelenka wasn't as discreet about keeping Evan's secret from Sheppard – from someone who might tell Sheppard – as Evan thought he'd be, or whether Sheppard's just guessed on his own. "I was just –" He waves vaguely at the planes and shrugs, taking his sunglasses off to fiddle with the arms.

"It's fine," Evan says, as if he has any control over where Sheppard goes or what he does. "It's good to see you," he adds, a little surprised to realize he means it. He hadn't thought he wanted to see Sheppard, after everything that happened, but now that Sheppard's standing in front of him, it's easier to remember the good stuff, as well as the disastrous way it ended.

Sheppard ducks his head again, but not before Evan can see the smile on his face, shy and pleased. Oh, Evan thinks dimly. Not just me then.

"I have to go," Sheppard says abruptly. "I'll never hear the end of it if I'm late, but we should –" He breaks off, looking away over the empty airfield, then back to Evan, and his expression now is completely serious. "I've got a parents' meeting this evening," he says. "I should be done by six, seven at the latest. We could – maybe have dinner? You're living in Lancaster, right, I could pick you up?" He sighs, then, before Evan can answer, adds, "I missed you. Miss you," low and serious.

Evan tells himself firmly that this isn't a bad idea any more, and that Cadman is often right. "That sounds good," he says. "We should probably meet somewhere, though, I'm not sure what time I'll finish work."

"Okay," Sheppard says quickly. "Give me your number and I'll book somewhere." He sounds like he's fighting the urge to make it a question, hesitant and unsure, and Evan can't remember the last time he felt this awkward making a date.

"Yeah." He pats down his pockets for a business card, but of course they're in the pocket of his suit jacket, not in the dark combats he wears when he's going to be flying. He comes up with a scrap of paper and Sheppard hands over a pen.

"You're going up later?" Sheppard asks, sharply casual, as Evan writes down his cell number, then his office line as well.

"Yeah. They've been tweaking everything they can lately, it's..." He trails off, hit all over again by the memory of Sheppard's face when Keller said that he should walk again, but he'd never fly. "Sorry."

"It's okay," Sheppard says, and Evan can't tell if he means it or not. He's never been able to tell what Sheppard's really thinking. Sheppard reaches out, touching Evan's wrist with the very tips of his fingers, cool against Evan's sun-warmed skin. "Evan, it's fine. It's been five years. I'm not –"

There's an awkward, charged silence. Sheppard breaks it. "That's your number?"

"Yeah," Evan says. He passes it over, Sheppard's fingers lingering against his, and that makes it easier to breathe, a little. "I should probably –"

"Right." Sheppard looks down at the paper for a moment, then shoves it into his pants pocket. "I really should go, I don't think I want to explain to Kara and Andrew exactly why I'm late."

It makes Evan laugh, the last of the tension fading away. "See you tonight," he says.

"Yeah," Sheppard says. He looks up at the plane for a moment more, then turns and starts across the tarmac, barely limping at all, despite the cane.

Evan's still watching him when he turns back. "Hey, Evan?" He's not far enough away yet to need to raise his voice. Evan waits – Sheppard can undoubtedly see his expression well enough to know he's listening. "You should call me John, okay?"


Everyone noticed Sheppard on Atlantis – it seemed like he was everywhere, Evan's first few weeks in the city, almost too casual for someone who was in charge of 130 soldiers from five different countries, until one of his people was threatened. Then, it was like watching genial, friendly Sheppard slide back, to be replaced by dark, sharp, angry Sheppard, and it shouldn't have been a turn-on, but Evan was only human.

Only human, but not stupid, well aware that another galaxy wasn't far enough away to be really safe, and he'd had years of practice at ignoring an attraction, sublimating it into respect and something that might become friendship, eventually.

With hindsight, he should have known better than to get even slightly drunk around Sheppard. He definitely should have known better than to do it less than a week after Sheppard was finally unbugified, still coming down from the combination of adrenaline and fear.

Evan was sitting on the very edge of the fire's light – Teyla insisted it was the date of a traditional Athosian celebration, but Evan was pretty sure she just wanted an excuse to get Sheppard out of the city, somewhere he could relax without everyone watching him – when Sheppard sat down next to him, clay mug in one hand.

"You okay, sir?" Evan asked, wincing at the slight slur on the s. Definitely time to stop drinking.

Sheppard nodded, slowly. "You did good," he said, somehow managing to sound drunk without actually doing so at all. "When I was... You did good."

"Caldwell was in charge," Evan said. It still rankled, not least because they were still working on unpicking all the changes he'd tried to make, just one more problem that they didn't need.

Sheppard shook his head, but didn't say anything else. Evan swallowed the last of his drink – he'd never actually found out what it *was*, which should have clued him in that drinking too much of it was a bad idea – and shifted slightly, meaning to stand, offer to get them both some of the coffee that had to be floating around. Sheppard caught his arm, still not looking his way, and said, so low Evan could hardly hear him, "Don't go yet."

"Sir –"

"Don't call me that," Sheppard said, sounding desperate. His grip on Evan's arm tightened, and he had his eyes closed. "Please, just – don't –"

"Okay," Evan said quietly. He hesitated a moment, then figured they really were in a very dark shadow, and most of the others were throwing themselves into dancing – badly – with the Athosians, and put his hand over Sheppard's. Sheppard turned his hand immediately, holding onto Evan's, hard. "It's okay."

"It's not," Sheppard said. He laughed, high and a little hysterical. "I got turned into a *bug*, that was not on the job description. My lieutenant's running round the galaxy addicted to Wraith enzyme, McKay just destroyed most of a solar system..." He shuddered, and Evan gripped his hand a little harder, wondering why Sheppard had picked him for this freak-out, instead of someone like Teyla, who might actually know what to say. "Fuck," Sheppard said softly, his head dropping forward. "Fuck, I just – I really want to kiss you."

"You can't," Evan said automatically, which got him another strained, unhappy laugh.

"I know," Sheppard said. "Sorry, I shouldn't have – you probably didn't want to hear that."

"I'm sitting in the dark holding your hand," Evan pointed out, trying to lighten the mood.

Sheppard laughed, though it sounded more like a sob than a laugh. "I don't think it's a good idea for the entire military command to be fucked up," he said, obviously getting what Evan couldn't quite bring himself to say.

"There's still Caldwell," Evan said quietly, and Sheppard didn't say anything else, just sat next to him, holding onto Evan's hand. After a while, McKay and Teyla came and got him, pointedly not mentioning the hand-holding, Sheppard leaning into both of them, barely awake.

It didn't take long for the whole evening to feel like a slightly bizarre dream, something neither of them mentioned, for all that it was there every time either of them was injured, or captured, the way they couldn't seem to help circling closer for a while after. It was what it was, and it wasn't going to change, being who and where they were,


The cave-in happened right at the end of Evan's fourth year in the city, Sheppard's fifth, and Evan found himself taking back every wish he'd had to be on the other side, when he'd been trapped in Michael's compound with a broken leg. Sheppard was down there, along with Ronon and Teyla, though not Rodney, who'd stayed in the city to deal with some power problem; Reid was up on the ridge with Evan, but Henderson had gone in with Sheppard's team, along with Stackhouse and Morris.

It took twenty-eight hours to dig everyone out: Ronon and Teyla first, with fairly minor injuries, considering, then Henderson, rushed back to Atlantis unconscious, then Morris, who was dead, and Stackhouse, who nobody would give a prognosis for. It took another four hours after that for them to find Sheppard, in which time, McKay, who'd come out to help, made two of the engineers cry, and one marine threaten to hit him, and the only reason Evan didn't threaten the same thing was that he wished he could vent some of his own fear by yelling, and couldn't.

Sheppard was conscious when they found him, and he screamed when they dragged him out, white faced with pain.

Three weeks later, he went through the gate to Earth for more surgery on his shattered leg, and Evan, who'd been given a promotion and command of Atlantis a couple of days earlier, watched him go and pretended, like everyone else, not to notice Sheppard's silent tears.

It was easy enough to avoid hearing what Sheppard was doing, how he was doing; easier than thinking about how he'd ended up in charge, easier than choking down the pavlovian guilt over trading a month of battalion paperwork for not having to go into the cave. And when the IOA declared that nearly a decade in another galaxy was too long, too much of a security risk, a mental health risk, and pulled most of the expedition back to Earth, it was easier to say thanks for everything and leave it all behind, easier to ask Zelenka to lie to McKay about where Evan was and what he was doing.

Sheppard probably didn't want to see him anyway.


Sheppard's message names a pizza place in central Lancaster, and of course parking's a bitch when Evan's already running late after stopping home to change and having a crisis of indecision that he knows Cadman will find hilarious when he tells her.

Sheppard – John, Evan tells himself again, but it's refusing to stick at the moment – is leaning against the bar, and Evan's glad he bothered to change because Sheppard's in jeans and a soft gray sweater, and Evan would have looked incredibly out of place in his suit.

He wonders when he turned into the kind of person who puts this much thought into what he's wearing, even for a date. Actually, he doesn't wonder at all – he's not that kind of person, it's just Sheppard. John. Sheppard. John. Fuck it.

The bell over the door jangles cheerily when he steps inside, and John looks up. "Hey. You made it."

"Yeah. Sorry I'm late."

John grins, and it makes him look younger, happy. Evan thinks it's a look he could get used to seeing. "No sweat. Want to sit down?"

Evan nods, and John pushes away from the bar, hooking his cane out from the shadow of the high stool where Evan hadn't noticed it. "In the back?" he asks the bartender, who nods.

The restaurant is nearly full, but they're tucked away in a corner where it's fairly quiet. John leans his cane against the wall and sits slowly, carefully, one hand on the table, the other on the back of his chair. Evan twitches, wanting to offer a hand on his elbow, knowing it won't be welcome.

John winces slightly as he settles himself and reaches for the menu, catching Evan watching him. "It's fine," he says. "I'm used to it."

It's possibly the most personal thing he's heard John say since he clutched at Evan's hand in the dark and confessed to wanting him. "I'm sorry," he says, which definitely wasn't what he meant to say.

"For what?" John asks absently, like he's about to apologise for something trivial, hogging the menu, or not asking what John wants to drink.

Evan scrambles madly for something innocuous to make it about, but nothing comes to mind. That's what two years of not having to cover diplomatic mistakes does to him, apparently. John looks up from his menu and his expression goes troubled. He leans forward, like he's going to touch Evan, but doesn't.

"Don't," he says. "It's not your fault."

"I know," Evan says, aware that he's lying, and also that this is not a good way to start a date.

John shakes his head. "Even in Pegasus, you couldn't have known that cave was going to collapse on us. It happened, it sucked, it's over." He shrugs. "I'd have had to leave with the rest of you anyway."

Evan gets a brief, sharp flash of John, going through the gate in a wheelchair, his face wet with tears, physical pain and grief for the home he was having to leave. He seems happy now, settled, but Evan, even when he was trying not to know, heard enough snatches of conversation between John's old team to know how much he struggled in the first couple of years.

"Evan." John stops, like he has no idea what comes next, and Evan spent four years backing him up and helping him side-step diplomatic crises, and he still remembers how to do it.

"How was your parents' meeting?" he asks, letting himself grin a little – the idea of John as a teacher is strangely fitting, and yet also incredibly weird.

John smiles, like he knows what Evan's doing, knows it doesn't mean Evan believes him yet. "Good. One of my seniors is applying to MIT. I never thought telling people that Rodney McKay will be there would be reassuring."

Evan laughs. "Tell me he doesn't teach a freshman class."

John makes an exaggeratedly horrified face. "God, no. But he'll keep an eye on her, if she gets in. He always does."

Rodney McKay is no different from the rest of the ex-Atlanteans – they may be spread across the globe, but they haven't stopped looking out for each other, even if it is in some really strange ways, like Katie Brown, who knits scarves every winter, for all the people living somewhere it gets cold. It freaks Cadman the hell out, but it makes Evan laugh, every time.

"Are you ready to order?" a teenager with a notepad asks. "Oh, hey, Mr. Sheppard."

"Matthew," John says, not quite smiling. He catches Evan's eye, and Evan has to bite his lip not to laugh. "I hope you're not planning on staying out too late."

"No, Mr. Sheppard," Matthew says. It's like watching John with the marines; Evan half-expects Matthew to salute when he finishes taking their order and leaves.

John watches him go and groans. "So much for keeping this quiet," he says, dropping his head into his hands. "It'll be all round school by lunch. Earlier, probably."

Evan laughs, ducking his head so John won't see the flush of pleasure he can feel across his face at the thought that there's something worth John's kids gossiping about.

"Ah well." John shrugs, lifting his head again. "At least I can't get fired for it now."

Dinner is easier than Evan was half-expecting, considering they don't need to catch up on their (many) mutual friends, that Evan's already decided he's better off avoiding talking about his job, and that they can't actually discuss Atlantis in public. They talk about John's kids instead, about living in California, about Evan's plans to fly to New York in a few weeks for his sister's birthday, and before he knows it, Matthew's collecting their empty plates and showing off to John by splitting the bill, with tax and tip, in his head.

"Very good," John says. "Don't think that gets you out of the test on Tuesday."

"Of course not, Mr. Sheppard," Matthew says, smiling. "Would you like an after-dinner mint?"

John looks at Evan, who goes bright red, which makes John laugh. "Thanks," John tells Matthew, taking two mints and handing one over to Evan, and this time Matthew goes red and makes a hasty exit.

"Guess that was more than he wanted to know about his tutor's love life," John says dryly. "You want to get out of here?"

Evan bites down – again – on the urge to offer John a hand up. He's probably going to be biting it down for a while, but the thought of being around enough to need to feels really good. It's not often fate works for them instead of against them.

"So," John says on the side-walk. "You want to come back to my place for coffee?"

"You asking me to sleep with you after one date?" Evan asks, trying not to sound too much like the answer would be yes if John did ask.

John grins, stepping closer. "I'm far too much of a gentleman for that," he says. "But we've been waiting nine years. I'm pretty sure that's at least worth a goodnight kiss."

And, really, Evan's spent long enough saying no, long enough wanting and knowing he wasn't going to get.

"Yes," he says, and kisses John on the sidewalk, under the pizzeria's awning, not goodnight, just because he wants to. Because he can.

Been Five Years tag

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