Word Count: 2,590
Notes: For i_want_to, my recipient in this year's slashing_lorne exchange. My prompts were 'action scenes' and 'couple moments.' I hope you like it! Thanks to race_the_ace and padfootthegrim for giving this a beta.
Evan looks up as Sergeant Greenly, one of the Gate room techs, walks in. “Sergeant,” he greets. “What can I do for you?”
“AR-1 is six hours overdue,” Greenly says without preamble. “Colonel Sheppard has given direct orders that we’re not to alert you unless it’s been twelve, but it’s four for everyone else, and there have been reports of Wraith activity on M4X-028 recently, so I figured…”
“Good thinking,” Evan tells the man as he rises form his seat. “Better safe than sorry, especially with Sheppard’s team.”
Evan calls for his team and a backup team of Marines, goes over the rescue plan, and settles inside his Jumper. He watches as Jumper Three lifts from its docking slip and glides through the floor, then pulls his own Jumper from the floor and follows it down.
He resolutely does not think about how terrified he is that this will be the time that John’s luck finally gives out.
Evan hadn’t meant to fall into bed with John. It was one of those things where they knew about each other in that not-knowing way – a lifted eyebrow, a tilt of the head, all is acknowledged without words – and it just sort of happened. Evan was wrung out after three days of searching for John and his team; John was still a little loopy from the pain meds that Keller had forced him to take. He’d been walking John back to his quarters, just being the responsible second-in-command, but he’d ended up helping John into his bed and taking him out of most of his uniform while John grinned at him dopily. And Evan had meant to leave, but John had grabbed his wrist and tugged until Evan sat down beside him, and John had smiled, wide and goofy, and said, “Stay.”
Evan hadn’t resisted. He’d just bent over to take off his boots, peel off his jacket, and he’d stretched out beside John, who had promptly latched on as if he were an octopus and dropped off to sleep.
And then the morning hadn’t been awkward – it had been easy, almost natural, to wake up with John everywhere around him, to smile back across the pillow at John, to close that space between them and kiss John’s lips. John had kissed him back just as easily, and Evan has spent every night since in John’s quarters, curling together on his tiny bed, talking or making out or making love or, more often than not, just curling into actual peaceful, restful sleep.
The thing about being involved with John is that it’s not a monogamous relationship; it’s Evan and John and all of Atlantis. Sure, he’s only sleeping with Evan, and Evan knows that he means to John what John means to him, but he’s not under the illusion that he’ll ever have John to himself. John’s got this suicidal mindset towards his City and his people, and Evan’s come to terms with the fact that the time they get to spend together is always going to come after John’s commitment to Atlantis.
M4X-028 is dark, cold, and windy. It’s not the conditions that Evan would have wanted for a rescue mission; then again, he’d rather not have to rescue John at all. He’d rather John have rescued himself; he’d rather John not need any sort of rescuing in the first place.
“Three life signs, up ahead,” Stackhouse’s voice comes from the other Jumper. “Reading Dr. McKay’s hail.”
“Respond and put down,” Evan replies, angling towards where Stackhouse is doing exactly that. He can hear McKay’s rant as soon as the Jumper’s door cracks open.
“-stupid, self-sacrificing idiot,” the scientist spits out. It’s clearly the end of a longer thought.
Evan jogs out of the Jumper and takes in the three individuals that Stackhouse had located. He already knows who they’ll be, and sure enough, his eyes land on McKay, Ronon, and Teyla.
John’s nowhere to be seen.
“The Colonel offered himself in exchange for McKay,” Stackhouse summarizes. “Captured by Genii raiders.”
“Well, fuck,” Evan says evenly. “Coordinates, identifying marks, anything?”
“Nothing,” McKay spits out, but Ronon shifts behind him.
“They’re not Radim’s,” he says. “They were using different weapons, wearing different clothes.”
“This may be the group that Ladon told us about,” Teyla adds, and Evan recalls hearing about Radim reporting some sort of splinter cell, a faction who’d up and left because they disagreed with the new, more peaceful outlook of the Genii.
“Great,” Evan sighs. “Stackhouse, take them back to Atlantis. I’m going to do a once-over, close scan, see if there’s any chance they’re still on the planet.”
They’re not still on the planet.
Evan returns to Atlantis three hours after Stackhouse, idly hoping that John will be waiting in the Gate room, grinning and asking what took Evan so long. He’s not that lucky, though, and as soon as Evan has parked the Jumper and gone through his post-flight check, he’s headed for the meeting rooms.
“Major!” Sergeant Greenly calls, so Evan detours to the Control room. Greenly gestures to a screen. “We’ve got an incoming transmission, audio only, no IDC.”
“Patch it through,” Evan orders, and there’s a sudden coughing sound from the speaker. “This is Major Lorne of Atlantis.”
“Major Lorne,” a raspy voice replies. “Just the man I wanted to speak to.”
“Who is this?” Evan asks, signaling to Greenly, who nods and taps a few keys to start recording the conversation.
“Doesn’t much matter,” the voice continues. “They have your Colonel, Major, and they’re going to kill him.”
Evan’s stomach twists, and he forces himself to take a calming breath. Going to means haven’t yet, he reminds himself. “And you can help me get him back, for a price,” he fills in.
There’s a pause from the other end, and the coughing from before starts up. “In a manner of speaking, yes.”
“Medicine,” Evan guesses. “You’re sick, you know we can help you, and you want to trade for medicine.”
“For myself and my son,” the man confirms. “I’ll tell you where they’re keeping your Colonel, how many men to expect, the fortifications, everything you need to know. In exchange, you allow my son and I safe passage into your City and treat what ails us.”
“Let me contact the medical team,” Evan says. “Stay on the line.”
Carson and Keller are both there in the blink of an eye, and they do some sort of nonverbal communication involving head tilting and eyebrow raising as the man repeats his request. When he finishes, there’s a small pause before Carson speaks. “We’ll be happy to provide treatment,” he says cautiously, “but you have to understand that we cannot promise that you or your son will be healed.”
“Better to try than to face certain death,” the man replies, and there’s another long stretch of coughing. “Here’s what you need to know.”
Evan sends two Jumpers ahead to scout out the area and check the intel that the man had provided while he gates to a different planet to meet their informant. He sets the Jumper down in an open field and scans the area, but doesn’t see anything; the HUD shows two life signs ahead, probably just beyond the treeline.
“I’m Major Lorne of Atlantis,” Evan calls, still within the safety of the shield, should this turn out to be a trap. “Is there anyone here?”
There’s movement off to the left, and Evan turns just in time to see a man much younger than he’d expected emerging from the treeline. He’s tall and far too thin, and there are dark circles under his eyes. He’s got a sling around his neck, and as the man gets closer, Evan can see a tiny fist waving from inside.
“I am Moris,” the man gasps as he comes to a stop a few feet away. “It was I who called you.”
“Yeah, I get that,” Evan says grimly, lowering the shield. “Are you contagious?”
“No,” the man replies, curling an arm around the baby. “This is the radiation sickness. I have suffered for many years, as did my son’s mother.” His fingers stroke the baby’s face, still hidden inside the sling. “She died a few nights ago. It is what finally convinced me to beg for your help.”
“No begging required,” Evan tells him, moving aside to allow Moris to walk in and settle in the back of the Jumper. “If you guys are still sick, you just have to call us up. There’s no need to trade treatment for Sheppard. We’d just help.”
“I am not behind the kidnapping,” Moris says, and he might sound indignant if he could get enough air into his lungs to manage it. “I thought that Sora’s path was the future of the Genii, so Lida and I left with her. It has become clear, though, that she has no idea what she’s doing.”
“Sora,” Evan repeats, the sick twisting in his gut coming back full-force. “She’s the ringleader?”
“She is,” the young man confirms. There’s a weak cry from the sling, and Moris pulls the baby out, holding him to his shoulder and patting his back gently. He looks up at Evan. “He has not eaten well since Lida passed. I fear for him.”
“Let’s get you back to Atlantis, then,” Evan says, heading for the front of the Jumper and lifting off.
Stackhouse knocks on Evan’s office door about an hour after Evan settles Moris and the baby into the infirmary. “Seems to check out,” he confirms as soon as Evan looks at him. “We can be ready to go in twenty, sir.”
It’s less than half an hour before Evan is setting his Jumper down in a clearing on the planet that Moris had led them to. He’s got his team and AR-4 in the Jumper; Stackhouse has his own team and AR-7 on the other side of the base. Evan clicks his radio three times and hears three clicks in response, and then they’re on the move, guns drawn as they fade into the treeline and head for the camp.
The first few guards go down easy, but the ones right near the door take a bit of a fight. Evan’s pretty sure that it wasn’t loud enough to alert anyone inside but he’s still cautious as he signals for Coughlin and Reed to head in and sweep the room just inside the door. Janes and Vronsky head in next, and Evan brings up the rear, sweeping his gun up and down as they make their way in, room by room.
There’s the sound of a slap from ahead, and Evan holds his hand up for his team to freeze as he keeps himself from running forward. It’s followed by a moan, a low sound that Evan would know anywhere as John’s, and Evan’s face hardens as he signals to his team.
They creep to the door, taking positions that allow for maximum coverage of the room, and Evan ticks the seconds in his head before nodding and bursting into the room.
It’s chaos for a few minutes; John sees them the second the enter and tosses his weight to the side, pulling his chair down, and then there are bullets flying and the sound of stunners whizzing through the air. When it’s over, Vronsky is pale and bleeding on the floor but still responsive, and the Genii are all down.
John’s down, too, sweating and shaking against the rope binding him to the chair. Evan makes his way to John’s side and crouches, fingers beneath his jaw. Relief floods through him when he feels John’s pulse, too fast and too strong, but present.
“Colonel,” Evan says loudly, sharply, right next to John’s ear. John’s eyes blink open fuzzily, and he smiles up at Evan.
“Evan,” he slurs. “Missed you.”
Oh, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Evan thinks as John tries to move his still-bound arms towards Evan, frowning when his wrists are caught. John’s clearly been drugged.
“Let’s get you out of here, sir,” Evan says, hoping that John just sort of fades into unconsciousness and doesn’t out them to four different Gate teams.
He has no such luck, of course; once untied, John can’t stop petting at Evan’s hair, holding Evan’s hand, murmuring into Evan’s ear. Evan grits his teeth and winds his arm around John’s waist, taking most of his weight as John slumps into him and sighs.
“Sora said she was going to kill me,” John confides, and Evan resolutely doesn’t think about how close she’d actually come to doing just that. “Retribution. Atlantis killed her father, she kills Atlantis’ father. Or something.”
“I’m glad that didn’t happen, sir,” Evan tells him. It’s the most honest thing he can say right now, the closest he can get to telling John about that feeling he’d gotten when John had gone missing, and how it had only gotten worse when Moris had found them.
“Me too,” John agrees, collapsing entirely into Evan as they reach the Jumper and step inside. Evan slides them both to the floor and takes a quick moment to run his hands over John’s body. No broken bones, no visible injuries; small mercies, Evan thinks.
Stackhouse sticks his head in the Jumper. “We’re rearranging the Jumpers, sir,” he tells Evan, resolutely looking at a point over Evan’s shoulder. Plausible deniability, Evan knows; he’s done the same for Stackhouse on more than one occasion. “Your team plus myself, Saunders, and Janes in here; the rest can go in the other Jumper.”
They all know, at least peripherally, about him and John, Evan realizes as he reviews the list in his head. He nods his thanks and Stackhouse pulls his head back out. Evan can hear his voice, instructing the rest of the teams to their respective Jumpers, and then there’s the sound of people approaching. Evan tries to pull away from John, to at least create that illusion of plausible deniability again, but John has wrapped his arms around Evan’s middle and is holding on for dear life.
Evan watches as all of the men file past where he and John are huddled, not looking down once. All five crowd into the front compartment, and the bulkhead doors slide shut with a hiss.
Privacy, Evan thinks as he listens to the click of the lock. They’re giving him and John privacy, room and time to collect themselves.
Evan wraps his arms around John and draws him in. “I was worried,” he confesses, and John hums against his neck.
“Knew you’d come,” John sighs. “Trust you, Evan.”
“We might not have found you if it wasn’t for Moris,” Evan tells him.
“Good old Moris,” John says, smiling as his eyes slip closed. “Remind me to thank him. Or her. Whoever Moris is.”
“Him,” Evan replies, smiling for the first time since Greenly had told him John was missing – this morning, Evan realizes, tugging John in a little closer. He presses a kiss to John’s temple. “I’m glad you’re okay.”
“Knew you’d come,” John repeats, lips brushing Evan’s neck again. “Love you, Evan.”
Evan freezes completely. He’s thought the words, imagined what they’d sound like in John’s voice, but never really thought he’d hear it. It’s a little typical that it comes out while John’s drugged to the gills, but Evan will take what he can. He wraps his arms snugly around John and rests his face in John’s hair as he speaks. “Love you, too.”