Rating: Adults Only For Graphic Sex, Adult Situations and Violent Imagery
Category: POV Vignettes; Angst; Non Con (see warnings)
Pairings: Caldwell/Sheppard (AU); Dex/Sheppard/McKay; Lorne/Sheppard; Sumner/Sheppard/McKay (Mensa Universe AU); Mitchell/Sheppard
Warnings: Dubious Consent (#1 & #2) and Non Con (#4)
Notes: I spent days brainstorming possible scenarios for Kimberlite's Secret Santa request -- and concerned that I wouldn't finish the story I started on in time, I've pinch-hit myself. The first is the background from the section I wrote in the real fic and then cut. If/when it gets done, it'll still be inspired by Kimberlite's request.
For the 2007 SGA Secret Santa Fic Exchange
3. Simple Man some time after Common Ground
(Oh don't you worry, you'll find yourself; follow your heart and nothing else.)
Standing in front of the door to his COs quarters, Major Evan Lorne knew he was taking his life, not to mention his career, into his hands. Lorne had been on his own off-world mission when Sheppard's team had been successfully extracted, something a part of Evan was profoundly grateful for. Had he been here, someone else's team would still have handled the rescue while he was stuck playing Military Commander and, while normally it was rather a kick to be in charge, that wasn't the case when he was the one forced to stay behind. Too, having been there an hour ago to witness their return and the fallout over what had happened on the planet in real time would have precluded his attempting this -- would have guaranteed he wouldn't now be let in.
Assuming he was going to now be let in.
"Sir, it's Lorne," he said over the private military command channel, knowing that no matter what or who else Sheppard was ignoring; Sheppard wouldn't have turned off his radio. Some things were just too ingrained and no matter what outsiders might think, Sheppard was a responsible commander.
Part of the problem in this instance, Evan feared.
No response came back over his earwig, but the door before him slid open.
Had Sheppard been a thirteen year old girl, the room would be dark and he'd be hiding in the deepest of the shadows, no more than a shadow himself. Evan wasn't quite prepared for the complete opposite that he found, however. The lights not only were on and at the normal day illumination, but the curtains were also open to the bright Lantea sun and the gentle afternoon breezes. Having only taken the time to watch the gateroom video and not read through the entire debrief, it wasn't hard to imagine the Z'kresians as being yet another civilization who bought into to whole dark, dank dungeon for their prisoners.
Sheppard's team had been overcome at the beginning of their mission three days ago, although Atlantis had only learned of this a few hours previous. In time to mount a rescue, but not in time to, perhaps, save a friendship because of what Sheppard had had to let happen.
Sheppard himself was sitting cross-legged in the middle of his bed wearing civies -- a butter-soft looking button down shirt that wasn't buttoned although the sleeves were rolled up to his forearms, and a pair of old Air Force Academy sweats. Obviously he'd recently showered as droplets of water still clung to the hair on the nape of his neck and sparkled through the spikes on the top of his head; his dogtags were a brilliant flare in the light; and he was barefoot. Evan didn't think the welcoming light and air -- or the guitar in Sheppard's hands -- was solely for his benefit, but Evan also wasn't fooled into thinking upon seeing them that Sheppard was anything like alright. He didn't need to see the faint smears of blood from washed but untended cuts, nor the hint of bruises elsewhere on Sheppard's face or on the wrists not yet covered up with the accustomed black band and watch, to know that Sheppard had been hurt during his captivity, even if it was the rest of his team asleep in beds in the infirmary. Evan only had to look into Sheppard's eyes to know that.
"Your team came back okay?" Sheppard asked, and it was telling that he hadn't asked if Evan's mission was successful.
Evan nodded. He stepped into the room to let the door close behind him. "No harm, no foul. No real treaty either, but more because they're in the midst of a several year drought and don't want to commit to something they won't be able to deliver. They said they'll be in touch if they come up with a surplus --"
"Or if they need help from the Wraith," he and Sheppard spoke together.
"Same shit different day," Sheppard finished.
Evan nodded again. "You got a first aid kit in here?" he asked instead of going for the obvious and reminding Sheppard that he hadn't completed his after-mission medical. Evan also knew the answer was yes, but his asking did give Sheppard the chance to say no and hurry Evan out.
Sheppard just jerked his chin toward his bathroom.
Evan found it without having to look; it was already lying on the back of Sheppard's toilet, although it didn't look as if it had been used. Opening it now, Evan gave it a quick check to make sure it still had what he needed, then looked for a larger bottle of hydrogen peroxide, which he found in the small cabinet Sheppard had to have brought at some point from Earth. He also grabbed up the washcloth Sheppard had already used.
When he returned to the main room, Sheppard had set the guitar aside, but hadn't moved from his position in the middle of his bed. Evan was used to Sheppard's passive-aggressive behavior when it came to anything personal, so he simply plopped himself down in front of his commanding officer, one leg curled up under his butt and the other balancing against the floor.
Every member of the off-world teams had to pass basic first air training, and generally at least two people per team undertook more extensive training, including CPR, stitching wounds and setting bones if they didn't have a medic or corpsman as part of their team. Carson was good at checking qualifications and the missions themselves handle a lot of the practicing part. Carson was good, but Janet Fraser had been an absolute devil, and Evan had spent many more years under her domain than he'd yet had under Carson's. Fraser had been a military doctor and so could manage the detachment Carson seemed to fail at, yet never by losing her compassion.
Evan figured he fell somewhere in between.
For long minutes neither of them spoke. Evan cleaned the cuts on Sheppard's face briskly yet with care and, he hoped gentleness, although Sheppard barely winced when Carson cleaned out gunshot grazes. There was more bruising than there had been bleeding; it looked like the Z'kresians had only used fists on Sheppard. But then, Sheppard had to be the one awake and talking, and so anything more violent would have worked to cross-purposes.
A couple of the marks could probably take a stitch or two. Evan simply applied butterfly bandages, knowing that Sheppard would eventually turn himself over to Carson.
"Anything else that needs looking at --"
Evan had purposely kept his touch impersonal, kept his eyes from the exposed torso that held hints of unnatural shadows, or so he thought.
Right up until the moment that Sheppard's fingers cover the ones that were maybe lingering a little too long over the skin that was darkening over one cheek. Until Sheppard leans forward and brushes his lips against Evan's before drawing back and just sitting there again, meeting Evan's gaze but not saying anything. Not looking apologetic or fearful or expectant. Not really giving any indication of what he's just done other than a certain soft contentment in his eyes.
Evan let his own eyes convey acceptance.
He'd known of course, or at least Evan thought he had. Even the Marines occasionally joked about the hair and the way Sheppard slouched against the walls and tactical dummies when he watched their training instead of engaging in the more normal posturing to show off his own level of testosterone. There was also the way Sheppard would only accept a hug from Doctor Weir or even Teyla with great awkwardness, and the fact that he and McKay argued and finished each other's sentences and thoughts to a degree only normally attainable after many years of a relationship. It could have simply just been a team thing; coming under fire had a way of turning teams into brothers.
The Marines noted and commented and so didn't believe. They liked the masks they were offered, were comfortable with their easy-going commander who could still stand on the front line and hold his own with the best of their semper fi and so didn't want to know that the man underneath might be something different.
Kissing Sheppard is different. Evan isn't new to sex with men, but he isn't all that experienced, just as it appears that Sheppard isn't either. Evan's previous fuck buddies didn't bothered to shave -- and there wasn't usually that much kissing anyway -- because shaving meant dates and soldiers functioning within the DADT aren't about to give away the game over something so simple. Of course Sheppard hadn't had access to a razor for three days, and so removing the beard has probably been the first thing he's done upon his escape to his room.
By virtue of being Sheppard's 2IC, Evan had gotten to know at least a little of the man behind the commander, even if the glimpses were rare and normally only came out around Sheppard's team. Everyone knew Sheppard would to anything for any one of his team.
Evan liked to think that he was the one who saw that Sheppard loved and was probably in love with all of them too. Discounting Teyla, but then she had insider information, and discounting Zelenka because of the Czech scientist had been convinced that Sheppard and McKay had already started a relationship after those first moments in Antarctica. Despite that and the small pool amongst the scientists that Zelenka was running, Evan was also absolutely positive that Sheppard hadn't crossed that line yet -- with anyone here on Atlantis.
Until now. Until with him, as Evan guides the loose shirt from Sheppard's shoulders and begins to press kisses against the shadows that are not a trick of the light.
Neither his own certainty or Zelenka's pool had stopped Evan from making a bet with himself that one of these days -- after the IOA and Caldwell and everyone else back on Earth finally came to their senses and realized that Atlantis was its own colony with its own rules and priorities -- Sheppard might actually take that next step with McKay if not with Teyla or Ronon. He'd be glad for them, for any combination of them, when it did happen, because life was so damn precarious here in the Pegasus Galaxy and love shouldn't be.
He knows this isn't love, neither of them would seek love in one another even if their attraction smolders beyond this one time. But comfort has its own place, and that they can do this right now is yet another expression of the support and trust between them.
Evan wasn't quite ready to let go of that bet, and he absolutely wasn't going to examine whether he was turning masochistic or opportunistic in what he had offered here. After the events on Z'kres though, Evan knew the bet's resolution would be a long way off. He wasn't sure McKay would ever really forgive Sheppard for not giving in; that this mission would become another Doranda between them. Something maybe overlooked eventually but never forgotten (not with the permanent damage and the other scars that McKay would now bear), and any type of relationship could only handle so many fundamental differences before the similarities were no longer enough.
There were very real concerns that today's fallout was only the beginning. On the video from the gateroom Evan had watched Sheppard let McKay act out even in a manner well beyond his normal belligerence, even as McKay was being helped onto a gurney to follow his other two unconscious teammates. That Sheppard didn't accompany them, that he wasn't there in the infirmary waiting …
Evan suspected Sheppard would continue to let McKay figuratively beat him up, to yell at him or ignore him or even resign from the team once McKay was out of the infirmary. Not so much out of guilt on Sheppard's part, but from a profound understanding of just what had truly been broken in McKay beyond the bones.
Because Sheppard is broken too. Not in the same way, but in fractures that would still fit snug up against McKay's. Evan and Sheppard don't fit quite so well; there is their disparity of size as well as rank between them. But they fit well enough and it is Evan's strength that holds them together now.
Doctor Weir would want Sheppard and McKay, if not the whole team, to talk to Heightmeyer soon. And while Evan could agree that psychiatrists had their place, that Kate was actually a pretty decent woman when she wasn't in charge of that portion of your fitrep, there were certain things that would never heal in the retelling, no matter what their degrees told them. And just like after Doranda, eventually Kate or Doctor Weir would get fed up with the damaged dynamic and go too far to try to fix things yet again. Evan could just see one of them reminding McKay that Doctor Weir had faced a similar choice only months ago against Kolya and that she had been promptly forgiven even though the threat of Sheppard's death had been just as close and real as McKay's had been today. As if making the comparison would do anything but push McKay into feeling even more victimized and persecuted.
Of course Sheppard had been able to forgive Doctor's Weir's actions against what amounted to a terriorist's threats. Evan would know that, even if they hadn't discussed that mission in great detail to determine how to frame the after action reports so that Doctor Weir wouldn't have to. Not giving in was the only possible response. He would have made the same choice -- in both instances -- had he been the one forced to comply with untenable demands. And had he been the one whose life had been threatened by Kolya instead of Sheppard's, he would have forgiven her too.
Just as he would if Evan had been in McKay's place today.
Only Sheppard doesn't want Evan's forgiveness. He seems grateful with Evan's understanding. And with his attention. Coaxing Sheppard to lie back on the bed so they can settle more comfortably and not worry about pushing and overbalancing, frees Evan to expand his attention. And to receive a little in return.
McKay saw it as something wrong -- something inhuman -- that soldiers were trained to accept that those kinds of decisions might one day be made about them, that officers were trained to accept having to make them. He didn't understand that training didn't make it easier to be on either side of the equation, that it only gave you the tools to learn to survive with your choices, but you never really forgave yourself either. McKay would think that he'd been the only real victim here and never notice that every remark made to or about Sheppard, or every time he turned away, he would be driving John's knife deeper and drawing the torture out so much longer than that McKay had been forced to endure when John refused to compromise Atlantis to end it.
Evan plunges his fingers deeper, but with exquisite care, and his strokes are bringing pleasure instead of pain. Or so he hopes.
Evan won't do it right away. He'll give McKay some time to figure things out on his own. Because Rodney McKay was a certifiable genius and maybe even not as self-centered as he appeared. Evan could be selling him short. But if he needed to, Evan wasn't above reminding McKay of his own Sophie's Choice moment back when Rodney had been brought to the SGC from Area 51 and he'd been ready to sacrifice Teal'c because on paper Samantha Carter's plan wasn't going to work. Maybe if Evan reminded McKay that not only had Carter and Teal'c both forgiven him, McKay had also expected to be forgiven since, intellectually, he'd done nothing but try to save the Stargate and, therefore, the Earth.
Just as John Sheppard had done nothing but protect Atlantis from the villains of the piece, who were more than ready to kill McKay to force Sheppard's hand.
Sheppard's hands are gentle on Evan's face as they come down from their climaxes together, as Evan gathers Sheppard into his arms and Sheppard lets him. As they both mourn the injury left by cruelty and necessity -- and the knowledge that it's not the Z'kresians that McKay is blaming for his pain.
(Title and lyric from Shinedown.)