Word count: 2,910
Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate: Atlantis.
Summary: Lorne Fest. "Lorne/Sheppard - A hail of gunfire ended Pegasus' last chance for peace as far as John is concerned."
Spoilers: 5x13, Inquisition
John was much more wary this time.
The Coalition had contacted them again, the same group that had tricked them into that ridiculous trial three years before, requesting that they come for a meeting to discuss the possibility of trade and alliance. John had insisted that the meeting be held on ground of Atlantis' choosing this time; the last thing he wanted was a repeat of last time, or to end up running for their lives through unfamiliar territory. The Coalition had agreed to the terms, and John had sent the address of the designated planet through.
John was taking three teams along as backup, as well. Major Teldy's team would be posted visibly around the meeting location, while the other two teams set up patrols, guarded the Gate, and kept an eye on things. John surveyed the men and women he was taking with him and wondered if he was overreacting.
"You're not overreacting," Evan said from somewhere near John's elbow. John grinned as he looked down at his partner. Evan was sitting on a bench, checking first his P90 and then his 9mm before strapping them both to his body. "Last time, they jumped you and took you hostage and you had to rely on Woolsey to save you." It was clear from the tone in Evan's voice that he would have preferred doing the saving, that it would have involved less negotiating and more shooting of the assholes who had kidnapped his lover and his team.
"Yeah, that's what it keeps coming back to," John agreed, strapping his own 9mm in his thigh holster. The assorted servicepeople were wandering out, most having geared up already, and John soon found himself alone with Evan, who stood.
John grabbed his arm as Evan started to walk past him towards the door. "Be careful," he said, almost blurting it out. It wasn't like him to warn the other man; Evan was more than capable of taking care of himself and his team, and there was no one John trusted more to save his own ass when John inevitably got himself captured.
Evan looked up at him, his eyes unguarded, and John saw surprise mingled with affection there. "I promise if you promise," he said back lightly, and John tugged on his elbow until Evan stumbled back into him. He leaned down and kissed Evan on the lips; a brief, almost-gentle kiss, before he pulled back and walked from the room himself.
John frowned at his weird emotional state. That was definitely not their normal pre-mission ritual. Evan followed him from the locker room a few moments later, moving to stand right beside him, close enough to let their arms brush together.
"It's going to be fine," Evan said, and John heard both the words and their message: it will all be over soon and we'll come back home safe.
John nodded. "Yeah. And hey, if they try to take us captive this time, shoot them." John grinned at the wicked gleam in Evan's eyes as he bumped against the younger man before yelling, "Dial it up!"
The wormhole stabilized, and they were all through in no time at all.
They quickly worked to set up a perimeter and a rotation schedule. John let Evan handle the details; he would be in charge of running the behind-the-scenes security, while John and his team led Atlantis' part in the peace talks. He felt a bizarre moment of envy, wishing they could trade places; Evan was better at people than he was, and he'd much prefer the ability to look out for Evan.
They separated an hour before the delegations were to arrive. John watched as Evan moved from the meeting site to the treeline, turned, and waved before melting into the shadows.
"He will be fine," Teyla said, right next to him, and John jumped. "Do not worry, John. Major Lorne is able to take care of himself as well as those around him." Her large brown eyes blinked up at John. "Is that not why you asked him to come?"
John smiled down at her ruefully. She had a way of reading him that should, by all rights, scare him, but he found it refreshing at times to know that she could always see through his bullshit. "Yeah."
She smiled at him again and patted his arm before moving away.
A little over an hour later, the delegations were seated in the clearing around tables that John had had set up for the meeting. There were representatives from six different groups including Atlantis, and John recognized representatives who had been at the other meeting – trial – as well as the Genii.
"Let's do introductions," he said once everyone had settled. "John Sheppard, Atlantis, and my second, Teyla Emmagan."
They went around the circle, and John filed the names away: Kelore's second was a young woman called Senche; Shiana's an older woman named Ariva; Dimas was accompanied by an older man called Krahn. The Genii was a man named Prenum, whom John recognized from somewhere in their collective pasts, and he found himself surprisingly happy that the harsh-looking man's second was Dahlia Radim, Ladon's sister. The last representative was a slim young woman with startling blue eyes, who introduced herself as Avi Lerron of the Cossam, with her second, an even younger man with the same eyes who was named only as Makin.
Probably related, John decided, studying their features before filing the information away. The rest of the participants he could predict, to a point; this duo would be the wildcard.
Teyla leaned forward as the introductions ended. They had agreed that she would lead the talks; she was, as John had pointed out, much less likely than he was to incite some sort of mass riot by saying the wrong thing.
She didn't even get a word out before the sounds of gunfire came cracking through the forest.
John glanced around quickly and noticed that most of the delegates looked as shocked and worried as he felt; he didn't really spare it much thought as he clicked on his radio. "Lorne!" he barked.
"Sir!" Evan's voice immediately called back, tense and slightly breathless A burst of gunfire sounded over the radio. "You all okay?"
"Fine here," he said, glancing around. He motioned to Teldy, directing her to gather and protect the delegates as he spoke. "Report."
"About thirty," Evan said. "Heavily armed. Came through the Gate and started shooting. Didn't say anything, just-" More gunfire. "Just shot," he panted, and John was already moving, signaling to the rest of his team, who nodded and dispersed.
"Location, Major," John said into the radio.
"Half a klick southwest of your location and headed your way," was the immediate response. "Stackhouse is down, sir," he added, and John swore.
"On my way," he reported, and set off towards Evan. He heard the gunfire getting closer and hid behind a few trees, taking aim at where the sounds were coming from. If he could get a bead on them, maybe catch them off guard…
Evan came through first, about a minute later, hobbling backwards as quickly as he could. John saw a field dressing tied hastily around Evan's thigh; a graze, if the way he was moving was any indication. John turned back to the attackers and found, to his surprise, that they were human. For some reason, he'd expected the Wraith.
He raised his weapon and fired, taking the first of four down, and two kept chasing Evan while the last stopped and looked around for the source of the shot. John didn't give him the chance to locate him before he shot again, dropping the second man.
A burst of gunfire and a scream made John's heart leap into his throat, and he turned in a panic to see Evan falling backwards, blood spurting from everywhere, and the two remaining men still advancing towards his prone body.
John came to slowly, lying in the infirmary, wondering how he'd gotten there. He slowly pieced together the last bits of information that he recalled.
He didn't remember shooting the last two men, didn't remember dragging Evan's body back to the meeting ground, didn't remember cradling him, begging him to hold on, to live, as Rodney flew the Jumper in and settled it down. He didn't remember fighting with Ronon when the larger man tried to move Evan away from him, didn't remember refusing to let go of him in the Jumper bay, didn't remember carrying him down to the infirmary himself and shouting help him, oh God, help him until a nurse snuck up and stuck him with a sedative.
Until, suddenly, he did.
John lurched from his bed and staggered to a washbin, into which he promptly threw up. He gagged and retched until he felt the world stop spinning beneath him, felt a soothing hand on his back and a calm voice in his ear, saying his name. Teyla.
"John," she repeated, and he let his head fall forward, hanging over the bin. He opened his eyes slowly and saw his hands, shaking against the sides of the washbin, and then his arms, his clothing, covered in blood, Evan's blood-
He retched again, and Teyla's arms were strong around him, keeping him upright when he would have slid to the floor. She murmured comforting nonsense into his ear as he shuddered and gagged, until he finally calmed and let her lead him back to the bed he'd been sleeping in.
John slumped down, exhausted, needing to know but terrified to ask, because what if Keller hadn't been able to do enough, what if Evan had been too badly injured, what if…
He raised his haunted eyes to Teyla, and she squeezed his hand. Her face gave nothing away, as if she could sense his internal struggle, weighing his need to know against the fear that he was only just keeping at bay.
Finally, he closed his eyes tightly. "Evan."
Teyla squeezed his hand again and looked out of the small room they were in. "He is in surgery," she said quietly. "He has been there for many hours. Dr. Keller says," and here she paused, looking back at John. "She is doing all that she can. He was… badly injured."
John felt his world tilt, felt his stomach turn, and Teyla was bringing him a basin as he got sick again. She frowned.
"I think you may be having a reaction to the sedative," she said, moving away to get a nurse, and John wanted to bring her back, to tell her not to leave, to make her realize that the only thing that he could think about was losing Evan and the thought hurt so much that it made him sick. Instead, he bent over the basin again, shuddering, until Teyla returned with a nurse.
Teyla held his hand reassuringly, as if he were a child, as the nurse looked him over, but John was too grateful for the contact to protest. The nurse hooked him to an IV, and though she told him what she was administering, John didn't listen, didn't care. Teyla nodded and spoke with her, looking back at John a few times as she lowered her voice. He laid back against the pillows and closed his eyes, waiting for her to come sit back down.
He woke some time later with a gasp, the scene in the forest flashing across his eyes again, watching Evan fall in slow motion as the soldiers chased him, only this time there were hundreds of them and John couldn't get through, couldn't get to Evan, and Evan was screaming and screaming and-
"John!" Teyla was by his side, holding onto his arm and shaking him. The screaming stopped, and John realized that the sound had been coming from him.
He closed his eyes. "Sorry," he said, his voice raw. She handed him a glass of water, which he sipped slowly. It burned as he swallowed.
Teyla sat in the chair beside his bed. "Would you like an update on our situation?" she asked, and John nodded. She told him about the soldiers they'd captured; they were from the forces of the sixth participant, the Cossam. Nobody was certain why they would attack, but their identities had been confirmed. They were holding the two Cossam representatives in the cells in Atlantis.
"We're never meeting with the Coalition again," John said finally. "Last time we get kidnapped, this time we get shot at."
Teyla nodded. "I told the other delegates that you would react as such. They are all rather shaken as well. I think, perhaps, that we can hold a meeting here when you have regained some strength."
"No," he said simply. "I'm done with it." Done putting my people in danger, done getting people killed because others are pissed off at me.
Teyla leaned back in her seat and cocked her head, thoughtful. "We can discuss it further when you have regained your strength," she repeated.
John didn't argue. "Evan," he said quietly, staring at the clock on his bedstand. He'd been out another four hours; there should be some new information by now.
Teyla opened her mouth, but closed it again as Dr. Keller walked in quietly. She looked exhausted, and John couldn't read any other emotions past that on her face.
"Doc," he said slowly. "How is Ev- how is Major Lorne?"
Keller gave him a tired smile. "Don't bother," she said, waving a hand. "You're not nearly as discreet as you think you are." John's eyes widened in momentary horror – Keller knew – but then the tone sank in, and John felt something inside of himself uncoil and calm. She wouldn't be so blasé if Evan wasn't okay.
"It's going to be a long recovery," she said more seriously. "He was shot through and through six times. Three of the bullets went through his lungs, one in his stomach, one in his shoulder, and one just below his heart."
Jesus. John paled, thinking for a moment about how close Evan must have been to-
"I'm actually a little shocked he didn't bleed out, to be honest," Keller said. "You guys must have kept some pretty serious pressure on those wounds."
John remembered clutching Evan to him, refusing to let anyone else take the man from him, holding on as tightly as he could. He just nodded at Keller.
"He'll be out for a while still," Keller said, looking at his chart and removing his IV. "But you're welcome to sit with him if you'd like."
Evan was pale, dressed in the hospital-issue gown, and John could only tell he was alive because of all the monitors around him. The steady beeping of the heart monitor and the slow hiss of oxygen were his only companions in the room for almost an hour.
Rodney came in and sat in the other chair, silent and nervous. John looked over at him, keeping Evan's hand clasped firmly in his own, and Rodney shoved a bag at him. "I brought you a change of clothes," he said hurriedly. "Teyla said they'd left you wearing-"
John remembered his bloodstained clothing and shuddered. "Thanks," he said quietly, taking the proffered bag. Rodney stood and walked hastily to the door, but paused just before exiting.
"Sheppard, look, we're all pulling for him," he said awkwardly, and he left.
Ronon stopped in some time later with food, which he didn't force John to eat, and took the ruined clothing away. John hoped he was going to burn it.
Others drifted in and out – members of the other teams who had been offworld with them, some of the scientists, a few of the Marines he hadn't known Evan was friendly with. Stackhouse, the only other Lantean who had been injured, hobbled in on his crutches at some point.
"He saved my life," Stackhouse said, staring down at Evan, lying so still in the bed. "Shot the guy who tagged me, dragged me into the brush himself, told the evac team where to find me."
John nodded. That sounded exactly like Evan.
"Will you let me know when he's up for visitors?" Stackhouse asked a few minutes later. "I'd like to say thank you to him while he's conscious." John nodded again. He'd been doing that a lot lately, finding it easier than speaking. Stackhouse hobbled back out of the room and John was alone again.
He slept in short bursts – fifteen minutes here, ten there – with his head resting against the side of the bed or the back of his chair, his hand always wrapped around Evan's still one. Sixteen torturous hours after John first sat by Evan's bedside, he was snapped awake by the feeling of Evan's hand moving in his.
"Keller!" he called over his radio. She was in the room a moment later, checking the machines and Evan's appearance as he slowly blinked his eyes open.
He began to cough and choke on the breathing tube, and the doctor leaned over and removed it smoothly. Evan looked blearily at John.
"I'm alive?" he asked, then winced. "Yeah. Hurts. I'm alive."
John leaned forward, bringing Evan's hand to his own forehead. He closed his eyes and breathed out. The tension around him seemed to have dissipated entirely.
"Yeah," he said, forcing the words out past the lump in his throat. "You're alive."