Word Count: 1,339
Rating: PG-13/offscreen OC death, some swearing, non-graphic three-way sex.
Prompt: Lorne Fest: 'Lorne/Sheppard/Mitchell- drinking at a flyboy bar after a fellow pilot crashes leads to a night of sex for comfort/consolation.'
John and Cam are already sitting at a table in the corner when Evan walks in. He slides in next to John without so much as a hello, grabbing the first pint he comes to and downing whatever’s left of it before meeting Cam’s eyes across the table.
Cam just pushes his own glass over, and Evan drains that one, too.
“He was a good guy,” Cam offers, and that’s all it takes for the memories to flash through Evan’s head.
“He was a fucking kid,” John growls from next to Evan, and the memories keep coming, of a bright smile and happy laugh, of startlingly red hair and green eyes, a slight accent and skin so pale they’d made his callsign Ghost.
“He was both,” Evan mediates, because it calms both of them down and because it’s true. He has spent years as the go-between for these two, soothing ruffled feathers and patching holes that neither man knew they were punching into a relationship none of them could admit to having. “He was both.”
Cam is the first to deflate, his eyes dropping to his now-empty glass. He signals for three more to the bartender, who brings them over in a hurry; this place is full of flyboys, too close to base for it to be anything different. News travels fast here; the barkeep probably knew what had happened before John and Cam set foot in here tonight. They’d be taken care of.
John raises his glass to the far wall. Evan can’t see it from here, but he recognizes the gesture and does the same, waiting for Cam to raise his own glass before they clink them together and tip them back. Evan tries to focus on the far wall, but it’s too far away to see clearly; anyway, Ghost’s picture won’t be there yet, not until one of the three of them gets it together enough to put it up there. It’s always been that way. You put your own teammates’ pictures on the wall. Nobody would dare do it for you; nobody else has that right.
Evan wishes they didn’t have the right.
Neither of the others seem to want to talk about Ghost, and that’s fine with Evan; his own thoughts are hard enough to handle right now, thinking about the mission, the bad luck, the funeral, where Ghost’s mother had looked at the three of them with haunted eyes. She hadn’t said it, was far too polite to ever verbalize it, but Evan has heard her ask it, anyway: why him? Why not one of you?
Evan doesn’t have an answer for that because really, it could have easily been any one of them instead of Ghost, and there was this sick, twisted part of him that was glad it hadn’t been. It wasn’t that he hadn’t liked Ghost, but the two other men sitting here with him now are his life, his everything, and if it had been two of them putting the third in the ground… Evan shakes his head, dislodging the thought that’s been plaguing him since Ghost stopped screaming over the radio, knowing that it will be coming back, that he’ll hear it rattling around in his head tonight, after he goes home and faces his empty apartment.
Except, he thinks as he looks around the table, he won’t have to.
They’ve been doing this for long enough that they all know the cues, so when Evan taps John on the elbow and nudges Cam foot as he speaks, they both know to ignore the words, because they aren’t what he means, what he’s asking. “I’m done for tonight.”
“Yeah,” John says roughly. “So’m I.”
Cam plays with his glass. “Colonel gave us the rest of the week off,” he says. “Might as well go home and get trashed there so we don’t have to find a cab.”
“Your place?” Evan asks. It’s always Cam’s place, but they put the show on for everyone else. Nobody in the bar would object to the three of them leaving together, not tonight. Nobody will blink when they all disappear into the same car and go to the same house and don’t come out for days.
It’s sickening to think that it’s almost worth it, so Evan doesn’t think it.
“Let’s go,” John says, that same rough, uneven voice that means he’s about to do something suicidally stupid, and Evan shuts down that train of thought, too, because think about John dead makes him think about John’s plane almost being the one that got clipped, about how close they were to losing John instead of Ghost.
He’s shaking when they get to his car, and Cam doesn’t ask, just grabs the keys from him and shoves him towards the backseat. John’s already strapped into the back, and before Cam even gets the car out of the parking lot John’s got his arm around Evan, puling him close and burying his face in Evan’s hair. Evan’s not crying, not exactly, but he’s drawing in huge gulps of air and he’s still shaking, damn it. John’s silent, but he’s holding Evan, and Evan takes his time boxing away the emotional trauma that he just can’t deal with right now, saving it for later, when he can contemplate thinking.
The drive to Cam’s is farther than to either of their other options, but that’s partially why they go there; John and Evan live in base housing, and it would be pretty conspicuous for the three of them to disappear into one of their small apartments and not come out again. Cam, though, has an actual house off-base, with real walls and a driveway and no neighbors to be suspicious about who was there, or why.
Cam pulls the car into the driveway and shuts it off, turning around to lay his hand on Evan’s shoulder. He’s still leaning into John; John’s face is still buried in his hair. “Come on,” Cam says. “Let’s get inside.”
They somehow uncurl from each other and head to the house. Evan walks straight into Cam’s bedroom and strips off his shirt while he’s shucking his boots; he can hear John doing the same somewhere behind him, while further down the hall, Cam’s busily locking the door.
Evan turns when he’s down to his boxers, walking the two steps between himself and John and wrapping him up in a powerful embrace. John immediately clings on, pushing his face down into Evan’s hair again and breathing deeply. Evan tucks his own face into John’s shoulder and closes his eyes. They stand there, taking and receiving comfort, listening as Cam comes in the room and strips out of his clothing. Then Cam’s there, too, holding both of them, and Evan starts to feel whole again, begins to remember that while Ghost is gone he still has this, still has them.
They move to the bed and everything is slow and sweet and almost careful, which is unusual but exactly what all of them need. It’s a reminder, this time, of what they nearly lost but didn’t, of how none of them will ever say the words (of how none of them know what words could be said) and of how utterly, insanely thankful they all are to be here, to have the others here too.
Nobody says anything when John’s the first to break, later, when he just lets out a wrecked sob and crumples into Evan. Evan wraps around his front and Cam around his back, and they take turns losing their composure, offering words when they’re needed and silence when that’s better. They all know what each others’ needs are.
It’s a long, slow process, grieving and healing, and it won’t happen tonight or tomorrow or next week, but each day will be better. And, Evan thinks as he wraps himself a little more tightly around John, feels Cam’s arm over them both, at least they still have each other, for what that’s worth.
He thinks it’s worth a lot.