Pairing: McKay/Sheppard and possible pre-Zelenka/Lorne
Spoilers: Through 4.20 The Last Man plus 5.02 The Seed, 5.06 The Shrine, 5.10 First Contact, 5.11 The Lost Tribe and 5.14 The Prodigal
Word Count: ~13,670
Prompt: Preferably John/Rodney. Perhaps from another character's POV? Lorne, perhaps? Episode codas are fabulous, my absolute favorite.
Author's Notes: This started with the very second I read the prompt. McShep through Lorne's eyes? Easy! Let me just see what episodes Lorne has been in... and The Last Man was simply too good to resist. Awesome beta by shaenie (thank you for finding my issues and stomping on them all while giving me exceptional advice and ideas). All remaining mistakes mine.
Evan sighed as he watched Sheppard jog back through the gate. He turned to the three marines with him, pointing to the nearest. "All right, Welliver, you're with me. Shah, Feliciano, you're on gate duty. We'll check in on the hour."
Waiting for the Genii contact wasn't the most boring guard duty ever, but it came pretty close. He and Welliver traded off their best made-up firearm names for the gun/not gun game they foisted on the scientists when their smug superiority about prime/not prime got to be too much.
Halgar showed up forty minutes late, unapologetic and angry-looking. "The Genii did not sanction the attack on your people," he announced as he entered the clearing.
"Okay," Evan said, though he didn't believe the guy, not at all. "Then why did they have Genii uniforms, guns, and radios?"
Halgar bristled. "There were a number of men with Kolya, and we have not yet caught them all." A good lie. Credible-sounding, impossible to disprove.
"Colonel Sheppard wants to talk to you," Evan said, clicking his radio on. "Shah, dial Atlantis. Tell Colonel Sheppard Halgar's here."
"I'm not armed," Halgar said, looking pointedly at Welliver's raised gun.
Evan hadn't raised his gun when Halgar came into the clearing, but he wasn't going to tell Welliver to put his down, either. "That's nice," Evan said.
"Major Lorne, sir?"
"Sir, Colonel Sheppard never made it to Atlantis."
"What did you do to the gate?" Evan asked, training his P90 on Halgar.
"Nothing!" Halgar said, raising his hands placatingly. "We do not toy with the Ancestor's circles as your people do. Perhaps he keyed it incorrectly."
"I watched him dial," Evan said, circling behind Halgar and shoving him in the back with his P90. "You'll need to come with us."
The moment he stepped into the gate room, McKay was at his side, asking questions. "You saw him dial?"
"The whole address?"
"Everything but the last couple of numbers."
"Yes, because those aren't important. This isn't horseshoes, Major!"
"McKay," Evan warned, and McKay took an apologetic half-step back and gathered his thoughts for a precious few seconds, long enough for Evan to tell Feliciano to escort the prisoner to the brig.
"Okay, so that's a couple hundred addresses tops. We can narrow that down and search them in a couple of hours, right?"
"McKay," Evan started, but McKay'd been on Sheppard's team long enough to fill in the blanks, and his face fell.
"Oh god, it's not. If he had misdialed, he would have just turned around and dialed home! He was attacked, or walked himself right out into space or something!"
"Or dialed a planet with a broken DHD," Evan said. The white lie was worth it to see McKay's shoulders come down a little.
"Yes, yes, of course," McKay said, and before Evan could excuse himself to debrief Carter, McKay added, "I'll get Ronon and we'll be ready to go in ten."
"We have to interrogate the prisoner, McKay. If this wasn't an accident-"
"Fine," Rodney interrupted, glancing up at the balcony. "We can do both at once, right Sam?"
"No, Rodney," Colonel Carter answered, and no disrespect to Dr. Weir, but Evan sure was glad a civilian wasn't in charge of Atlantis any more. "We'll interrogate him first; I can't risk sending teams on a wild goose chase - not if the Genii have booby-trapped the gates."
"Me and Ronon, then," McKay insisted, and Evan's heart went out to the guy. He didn't know what he'd do if he lost a teammate, much less two of them. "We can start gate-hopping. We can take a jumper-"
"No, Rodney," the colonel answered, "and that's final."
Evan couldn't shake McKay or Ronon for the next several hours. Ronon stalked outside the brig as Evan interrogated Halgar, and McKay called him on the radio every few minutes offering another idea about what might have happened or to ask whether they could check on the addresses yet. After McKay's third call, Evan took off his radio and signaled Gunderson to keep an ear on it in case McKay actually said something important.
Evan hoped Colonel Carter was getting further with Ladon than he was with Halgar. Two hours of interrogation so far and he had nothing.
"Let me in there with him," Ronon said, and Evan was dying to, but he knew better.
"I don't think he knows anything," Evan said, smiling in the face of Ronon's glare. "Let's go check on McKay."
McKay had been busy, dialing all the possible address combinations, and Evan knew he had only gotten away with that because Colonel Carter was with Ladon in the conference room and couldn't see him bullying Chuck.
He had narrowed it down to twelve addresses, a short list on his laptop, curled protectively to his chest. He was geared up, complete with P90 and sidearm.
Colonel Carter came out of the conference room with Ladon, and Evan had to move quickly to get between Ronon and the Genii. Luckily, a pissed off Ronon was a mostly silent Ronon, so he glowered but didn't speak. He didn't need to; Ladon got the message loud and clear.
"We will be in touch as soon as we have any information about Colonel Sheppard or Teyla Emmagen," he said, bowing slightly. "Halgar can stay as our good faith offering."
It chafed that he was so willing to leave one of his people behind. Evan couldn't decide if Colonel Carter was that tough a negotiator or Ladon felt guilty about something.
"Sam, we gotta go," McKay said plaintively, and Evan sliced a glance his way. He looked like he was barely holding on. When Colonel Carter looked to him for confirmation, Evan nodded gravely.
"All right," Colonel Carter said. "Major Lorne, Lieutenant Shah. With Dr. McKay and Ronon, please."
"Jumper bay, ten minutes," Evan confirmed, and hit the locker room.
Three of the gates were space gates. Evan took his time turning around and dialing out, giving McKay long enough to sweep for the life signs they both knew weren't going to be there.
Two of the gates were on planets with poisonous atmospheres. Evan moved a little quicker on those.
Four gates on planets with no evidence of any civilization. It made Evan wonder, when the Ancients seeded the Pegasus galaxy, whether they kept an eye on their colonies at all.
Trawling these planets was more difficult. Sheppard had only been gone a few hours; if he was just hanging out on one of these planets, waiting to be rescued, they would have picked up on his transmitter by now. McKay refused to be rushed, though, so they flew out several miles and circled the gate, looking for life signs. One of the planets had been home to a runner fairly recently - there was a campsite that looked pretty new. It wasn't until Ronon confirmed that it wasn't Sheppard before they could drag McKay away from that one.
The three inhabited planets had taken the longest. They were friendly with the Botrani who even helped by organizing search parties and combing the woods between the town and the gate.
One of the two cultures they hadn't come in contact with was overtly friendly and understanding when they explained what they had come for. They didn't help, but they let the team search in peace.
The last planet just had to be the one with natives that were suspicious and mean. Some kind of projectile weapon was thrown at the jumper and Evan was never gladder for the cloak as he pulled up and away from the people. There was a small settlement half a mile from the gate, but it was heavily guarded, and Evan wasn't about to set down and traipse into a potentially dangerous first contact situation with a keyed-up McKay and Ronon.
They did a sweep for outliers and McKay confirmed that Sheppard's transmitter signal wasn't coming from the planet. Evan made the executive decision to return home and let a fresh, less-invested team come back to try first contact.
"Major, we have to try to get in there. If Sheppard dialed this planet, he's probably in a holding cell of some sort. We can break him out if I can just locate him."
"It's been nineteen hours, McKay. We need to rest, and we need to try diplomacy on these guys. Let Carter send Dr. Sing to them. She'll have them wrapped around her little finger in no time."
"No buts, McKay. We're heading back to Atlantis."
When Evan parked the jumper, he was surprised to see Zelenka waiting for them in the bay. He watched them patiently as they stumbled off the ramp, thrusting a tablet into McKay's hands as soon as he was near enough. "Here is all the information I could get from M4S-587."
McKay's eyes lit up and Evan groaned inwardly. He didn't have the authority to order McKay to sleep, but he really wished he did. "I'm sure if there was anything obvious he would have told you already."
McKay sneered at him. "Maybe it's only obvious to a genius."
Zelenka rolled his eyes. "There is nothing obvious or not obvious, I have been over the data a hundred times already."
McKay turned his sneer on Zelenka. "If you don't mind, I think I'll take my superior intellect and go over it one more time." He clutched the tablet to his chest and bolted out of the jumper bay.
Evan looked up at Ronon, who was looking after McKay thoughtfully. "He needs to sleep," Evan said, and Ronon shifted his gaze to Evan.
"We'll sleep when Sheppard's back."
Evan wondered how long they had gone without sleep after Teyla was taken. Probably a lot longer than nineteen hours. He sighed.
"He needs food," Ronon said, heading out of the jumper bay.
"I will get it," Zelenka said, scurrying along next to Ronon.
Evan shoved the heels of his hands into his eyes. He could keep the military running while Sheppard was gone, but he was never going to be able to control Ronon. He hoped Sheppard got back before it became a problem.
SGA3 ran a mission to the hostile planet and ended up in jail; Evan took his team in and broke them out. He hadn't really expected Colonel Sheppard to be there, but it was cold comfort to be right, especially when McKay stopped speaking to him and holed up in his lab for days at a time.
Twelve days after Colonel Sheppard disappeared, Dr. Zelenka came to visit him in his office. He'd never had a civilian in his office before - it must have shown because Zelenka approached cautiously.
"Major Lorne," he said, and damn, Evan hated conversations that started with his rank. "I need your help."
Evan opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Zelenka didn't seem to notice.
"You see, Colonel Sheppard... how can I put this delicately..." Zelenka sank down in the chair in front of Evan's desk. "The colonel babysat Rodney."
Evan chuckled at the image, but when he thought about how often Colonel Sheppard spent time with McKay, it made sense. They were together for most meals, and movie nights, not to mention senior staff meetings and missions. "And you need my help with...?" Evan prompted.
"Babysitting," Zelenka answered. "He is terrible to work with when he's simply arrogant. When he's exhausted and hungry he is impossible. He has been sleeping in the labs."
"Ronon," Evan started, but Zelenka waved the thought away with a curt, McKay-like gesture.
"Ronon does not feel that Rodney needs a babysitter. I believe he thinks Rodney should stay chained to the lab until he finds out what happened to the colonel."
"You've talked to him already?" Evan asked. He had been hoping they'd take care of each other, since they were all the team they had left.
"In a way, yes. I believe he is proud of Rodney's persistence."
Evan nodded thoughtfully. "I don't know that McKay will listen to me."
"I think he will," Zelenka said simply.
Evan nodded. He could do this.
"I said, no."
Evan took a deep breath and blew it out noisily. "McKay, you're not doing Sheppard any good by killing yourself."
McKay tilted his chin up and crossed his arms. "It's my turn, Major. I have to save Sheppard, and I won't leave here until I do."
"McKay," Evan said, trying to imagine what it would be like if he lost Parrish or Shah or Donaldson. He took another deep breath. "Sheppard would want you to sleep."
"How do you know?" McKay shouted, his arms going wide. "Maybe he's in trouble or lost, cursing my name like he did when he was stuck in the time-dilation field."
"McKay," Evan said, and put a hand on his arm. That was more than he wanted to know, he didn't want to see the threads that ran through this team so deeply. "Don't. You need sleep. Zelenka said you're making mistakes."
"Oh, Zelenka said? Now we're trusting the second-rate physicist?"
"Hey," Evan said, but it was watching water coming to a boil. McKay was going to keep going until his anger was spent.
"I am the only one who can figure this out, because that's what I do. Sheppard is out there somewhere, counting on me to come get him. I shouldn't even be talking to you. Every second I waste-"
"McKay!" Evan interrupted, at the end of his rope. "I'm escorting you to your quarters now, and you are going to sleep."
McKay scoffed. "And if I don't go?"
"Then I'm coming back with a couple of Marines, Dr. Keller, and some sedatives."
McKay's eyes went wide, and Evan could see him trying to work out whether or not it was a bluff. Finally McKay's shoulders sagged and he nodded, closing the lids on the three laptops on his desk. He stopped to put a post-it note on each and wrote in big block letters, TOUCH AND YOU WILL DRAW BACK A BLOODY STUMP.
Evan followed McKay through the halls and into his quarters, surprisingly neat considering how messy his lab was. He let the door close behind them and McKay turned on him in surprise.
"Are you going to watch me sleep?" McKay asked, though he didn't sound nearly as abrasive as Evan expected.
"It's that or station Marines outside," Evan answered evenly, and wandered over sit on McKay's desk.
"Hmph," McKay said, falling face first onto the bed. His breathing slowed almost immediately. "You're more like Sheppard than you know," he said breathily, and Evan settled in, waiting for McKay's soft snores.
Over the next two weeks, Evan and Zelenka worked out a code so Evan knew when to bring something to eat, coerce McKay to sleep, or just get him the hell out of the lab. He really needed an alarming amount of supervision.
Evan sat in on the senior staff meetings, ignoring the uncomfortable looks thrown his way by the two remaining members of Sheppard's team. This was his fourth report with nothing on Sheppard or Teyla, and Ronon's glare would have made him nervous if he didn't think he deserved it.
After hearing the report, Colonel Carter sighed and looked around the table. "We have the word from SGC. Colonel Sheppard is being listed as KIA."
The wave of nausea took Evan by surprise, and he closed his eyes momentarily to pull himself together. When he opened them again, he saw Ronon prowling the room, his face set in a scowl and Rodney staring straight ahead at his computer. Evan wondered if he might have tuned out the meeting and missed the announcement entirely until he said quietly, "I failed."
"Rodney," Colonel Carter said, and shit, Evan thought, McKay looked like he was powering down, closing himself off, all the lights off for the night.
"It's not your fault, Rodney," Colonel Carter continued, putting a light hand on McKay's arm. "At least half of this is political."
"You couldn't hold them off?" McKay asked flatly. "They hated him so much?"
Colonel Carter shook her head. "The memorial service is Earthside in two weeks."
The memorial service was nice, Evan supposed, if a little surreal. Pegasus wasn't like Iraq; Sheppard could still walk through the gate, or be found in some hellhole prison, or come back from ascension. Hell, anything was possible. He couldn't believe the SGC would so easily declare him KIA.
Watching McKay as he passed a hand over the casket, Evan knew he was thinking much the same thing. McKay had never faltered in his belief that Sheppard was still alive. He had started to comb through every mission report and sensor log he could get his hands on when the information Zelenka had pulled from the DHD from M4S-587 yielded nothing.
Evan followed McKay through the viewing line. It was one of the stranger aspects of the service, since the casket was empty and everyone knew it. They walked past the casket and most took a long look at Sheppard's picture before taking their seats. They all had those portraits done for exactly this sort of thing, and Sheppard hadn't kept the smirk out of his eyes, even if he had managed to keep a straight face.
Evan waited for McKay, putting his hand as unobtrusively as possible on McKay's arm when he looked like he was going to touch the picture. Evan had felt the same urge, as if touching Sheppard's image could make him real again.
McKay glanced at him, and Evan felt his face bunch up in sympathy. McKay wore absolutely everything right there in the open, and Evan could see the utter faith that Sheppard was not dead warring with the sorrow that they were all treating him like he was.
Evan firmed his grip on McKay's arm, guiding him away from the portrait and into one of the uncomfortable folding chairs. Ronon sat on McKay's other side, looking menacing in the dark suit he had been forced into. He put a hand on McKay's back, and Evan let go of McKay's arm, concentrating on ignoring the cold feeling of finality that crept over him.
To his complete and utter surprise, Evan hadn't been immediately replaced as acting military commander of Atlantis. He was too young to be promoted, so he assumed it was a temporary situation until they could get all their ducks in a row. That was fine with him, he sure as hell didn't want Sheppard's job. Doing his paperwork was one thing; taking strategic command of Atlantis was another.
He thought of himself as keeping the chair warm for Sheppard; it made things easier on a number of levels, not least of which was babysitting McKay. He was 'Rodney' more often than not now, and Evan had a harder time keeping his distance than he would have guessed, if for no other reason than the man's dogged determination to find Sheppard and bring him back.
It was three days after Colonel Sheppard's memorial service when Rodney barged into Evan's weekly security meeting with Colonel Carter. "Sheppard's not dead."
Colonel Carter positively glowed. "I knew you'd figure it out, Rodney!"
Rodney beamed at her. "It's in the sensor logs. There was a solar flare when Sheppard dialed the gate. He's time traveling."
Colonel Carter's mouth dropped open, and Evan thought his might have done the same, if it hadn't already been open from giving his report on the marines' hand-to-hand training.
"Do you know when?" the colonel asked, and Rodney looked at her like she was insane.
"I only just found the anomaly," he snapped. "Give me some time, and I should be able to pinpoint it."
"Are you sure?" Evan asked. "I thought the gate wasn't supposed to lock when there was a potentially dangerous solar flare."
Rodney looked at him like he had grown a third head. He knew McKay thought he was stupid. It didn't bother him most of the time; Rodney thought everybody was stupid. "Yes, well." Rodney coughed. "There may have been some trouble from the updates to the operating system."
"Trouble?" Evan asked, leaning forward. "That's one hell of an understatement."
Rodney's whole demeanor changed, and Evan cursed the flippant answer. He should never have let his guard down around McKay. "I'm sorry," Evan said, but the damage had been done. Rodney turned and marched out the door.
It was two months to the day when Ladon Radim showed up in Atlantis again. He had reliable intel about one of Michael's facilities, and Colonel Carter released Halgar to him. Evan probably would have forgotten all about Halgar if he hadn't had to schedule the two guards for his 'guest quarters' every week.
It had been two weeks since Rodney figured out what happened to Colonel Sheppard, and Evan continued to play babysitter, but he gave Rodney a bit more distance. Now that he had something concrete to sink his teeth into, he seemed more able to take care of himself.
He was in the gateroom today, though, suited up to go find Teyla with Ronon and the twelve marines Evan had hand-picked for this mission.
When they came back with Teyla's body, Rodney holed himself up in his room for four days and didn't speak to anyone.
Teyla's service was beautiful, a funeral pyre worthy of a Viking goddess, and music so stirring Evan felt a quiet sense of peace when the singing stopped.
Ronon gritted his teeth angrily throughout the service, and let out a wail when they lit the pyre that made Evan grimace in sympathy. Rodney sat absolutely still, an eerie cold despair vibrating off him.
There were several people openly crying; Halling and Dr. Keller, as well as Jinto and some of the other children. They threw handfuls of spicy flowers on the pyre as it burned and chanted something Evan didn't need to speak the language to understand.
Evan had known that Ronon would be impossible to command. He had only stayed in Atlantis for Sheppard, and when Sheppard was gone, it was to find Teyla. It wasn't two days after Teyla's funeral when Colonel Carter informed him Ronon was planning to leave.
Evan agreed to help him with supplies. He would have offered personnel as well, but he didn't think Ronon would take him up on it. Ronon had been training most of the Marines in hand-to-hand and survival skills for years. There wasn't anything they could teach that Ronon couldn't teach better.
Colonel Carter got distracted about the same time. Clearly Evan had underestimated her diplomatic skills when she came back from Earth with the newest Asgard-model ship.
He was pleased to see Rodney assisting Colonel Carter with getting the Phoenix functional. He still worked obsessively on figuring out when Sheppard had been sent, but he seemed to be coming out of his shell, moving on to acceptance.
Meanwhile, Michael spread the Hoffan drug across the entire galaxy. The next eighteen months was a whirlwind of accompanying humanitarian medical efforts, taking over Atlantis while Colonel Carter made her guerilla attacks on Michael's ships, and supporting Ronon's guerilla attacks on Michael's facilities.
Everything fell apart all at once. Colonel Carter blew herself up while taking out three of Michael's hives. Evan evacuated the personnel of the Phoenix as commander of Atlantis, something that would have made him hyperventilate if he'd had the time to think about it. The IOA and SGC hadn't made the time to replace him as military commander of Atlantis; he clung to the hope that they would find someone to replace him as the commander-in-chief of Atlantis before he absolutely lost his mind.
Rodney helped him with a surprising amount of support during his time as interim leader of Atlantis, and in return, he turned a blind eye to the resources he was committing to the search for Sheppard. When Rodney figured out that Sheppard had been sent thousands of years into the future, the requisitions for space and power stopped coming. Dr. Keller had taken an interest in Rodney's welfare, though, so at least Evan was off babysitting duty for a little while.
Ronon blew himself up less than two weeks after Colonel Carter. His ragamuffin band informed Evan that he had sacrificed himself so his people could get out, and Evan let Zelenka go off-world to find the Satedan colony on Manaria and organize a warrior's funeral, complete with funeral games.
Mr. Woolsey arrived in time for Evan to be able to attend. He participated in the hand-to-hand contest and made it to the third round before being knocked out by a Satedan who towered over him. McKay participated in a sharp-shooting competition and made it to quarter-finals, flushed with pride. Dr. Kusanagi entered the swordplay competition and came in a surprising fourth place. Evan hadn't even known she fenced, but he overheard her tell Rodney that she practiced with Ronon as part of her physical training. Atlantis had a good showing, one Evan thought Ronon might be proud of.
The interment was short and solemn, and the only ones who stayed were himself, Rodney, and Halling, as it was considered an insult if the attendees indicated any sort of grief. Parrish, Kusanagi, Keller, Zelenka, and Beckett visited the gravesite the next day to say their goodbyes, and Evan made sure to keep his eyes to himself as he ferried them all home.
Mr. Woolsey's arrival signaled the end of Evan's reign not only as commander of Atlantis, but as military commander as well. He didn't mind stepping down, but he was surprised to be reassigned to Colorado, even with the promotion that came entirely too early in his career. He just took his orders, smiled and shook hands with all the brass, and spent a ridiculous amount of money on a noise machine that made the right ocean sounds.
Evan happened to be around for the Daedalus's arrival a couple of months later when McKay and Dr. Keller disembarked. They were holding hands, and Evan certainly hadn't seen that coming, but he was happy for them. They exchanged emails and became irregular pen pals for a while, Rodney complaining about his idiotic underlings and Evan hinting at his more ridiculous missions, which earned him dinner invitations to tell the whole story.
Before he could actually plan a trip to visit Rodney, he was back in the SGC and Dr. Keller was in the infirmary, declining rapidly. Evan stayed with her while Rodney slept; it wasn't often, and it was never for more than a few hours at a time. He told her stories about his new team (good people, all of them, but it was never the same as his team of misfits on Atlantis), and she wheezed through a couple of stories about living with Rodney that Evan forced himself to smile through, even though they made his guts twist.
Jennifer's funeral was in Wisconsin. Evan missed it, having to go out for emergency backup of SG12. He flew out to Vancouver as soon as he got back and helped Rodney pack up his house. Rodney spent the entire time talking about Sheppard, which was nice in that Evan had an easy time following and contributing to the conversation, and heartbreaking in that Evan wanted to be able to help Rodney talk about Jennifer but couldn't come up with the words.
Rodney's sister arrived the day after Evan to help. She took over the organization of the move with a deft hand, and chattered away easily about Jennifer. Rodney occasionally smiled or laughed, and once broke down and started crying. It didn't last long, and he changed the subject back to Sheppard after that. Jeannie was able to chatter on about him too, so the hours rolled along without too many bumps.
The night before Evan left, Rodney pulled out a couple of shot glasses and a bottle of Chopin vodka and they took turns one upping each other's mission stories until they were laughing so hard they were crying. And then they were crying and Rodney was holding on to Evan for dear life, wiping his nose in Evan's t-shirt and mumbling his confession so softly Evan only heard the litany of names, Peter and Brendan and Carson and Elizabeth and Teyla and Ronon and Jennifer and John, oh god, John.
Suddenly Rodney was trying to kiss him - no, scratch that, he was kissing him, whispering John softly against his lips. Evan put his hands on Rodney's face and gently pulled away, waiting for Rodney's eyes to focus.
"I'm not John," Evan said softly, and it only took a second for the confusion in Rodney's eyes to resolve itself. The look of horror that followed wasn't unexpected, so when Rodney tried to jerk away, Evan dropped his hands to Rodney's shoulders and tugged him into a hug, holding on until the tension left Rodney's body and he was sobbing quietly on Evan's shoulder.
It took two years for Evan to call Rodney again. He figured near-death by giant rat terrier was one of those things you needed to share with someone who understood. He showed up at Rodney's with a bottle of Glenfiddich and a fresh black t-shirt, and Rodney laughed and let him into his less-than-impressive apartment.
They traded off buying the booze from then on, Rodney usually going with light (the gin was not a fun year) and Evan with dark (cognac was a very interesting drunk for the pair of them). Evan stopped by every six months or so, then every year or so, then after his promotion to full-bird colonel, five years got away from him before he even noticed.
He didn't have much of a life outside the SGC. They tapped him to help train new recruits after he outlasted three teams, just when he was finally getting the hang of not getting too attached to his teammates. That same week he got word that Parrish had been killed by a crazy flying monkey-thing, and without a ZPM and the Daedalus on its way back from Pegasus, there was no way for him to get to Atlantis in time for Parrish's burial-at-sea.
He took two weeks off and spent most of it obliterated on Rodney's couch. He only remembered bits and pieces of it afterward, but Rodney's creaking joints as he bent to cover Evan with a blanket was a highlight.
Evan made General at the ridiculously young age of fifty-one and Rodney sent him a bottle of outlandishly expensive tequila with a note that said, Have to sample this one without me.
The choppy rhythm of their friendship ground to a halt when Rodney came to visit him at SGC. Evan had been thinking about it for years, ever since he pieced together some of the calculations on the whiteboards littering Rodney's apartment and emailed them to Zelenka for independent confirmation. Zelenka was thrilled; Evan was not.
"General Lorne," Rodney said, and Evan still hated conversations that started with his rank.
"Are you sure you know what you're doing?" Evan asked, playing with his ink blotter idly. "What if you make things worse?"
"How could I possibly make things worse?" Rodney asked, crossing his arms defiantly, then changing his mind and wagging a finger at Evan instead. "Why didn't you get married?"
Evan shook his head, sure he misheard. "Married?"
"Yes, married. Children? You seem like the type, General."
"I never..." The myriad of ways to finish that sentence left him undecided. "I never thought about it."
"I know, Lorne. Can't you feel it? This isn't right. It wasn't supposed to happen like this. If Sheppard had been there, everything would have been different."
Evan hadn't really been sitting on the fence; at the very least, he figured he could pass Rodney off as a harmless old geezer on a last search for his Nobel. His reservations were more for Rodney's sake than Atlantis's, or the timeline in general.
In the end, it was Rodney's quiet, "It's my turn, Lorne," that clinched it.
Rodney passed away at the ripe old age of seventy-one. Evan had become known at the SGC for bringing home ZPMs. He had done it after Parrish to ensure his ability to travel to Atlantis. He had to call in a favor to go through the gate; they didn't like to send Generals to Pegasus, not since O'Neill's time. He kicked up a minor fuss, and arrived in time to organize Rodney's funeral. He was planning on retiring soon; using up all his favors on Rodney's last wishes seemed strangely appropriate.
He finagled invitations to Atlantis for Jeannie and Madison (it hadn't been particularly difficult, since the SGC had been actively trying to recruit them both for years) and convinced Zelenka to help him find a way to cremate Rodney's body in Atlantis. He sweet-talked the new commander of Atlantis, a worn-looking Colonel Teldy, to let him borrow a puddlejumper to spread Rodney's ashes.
Flying the jumper was exactly as exhilarating as it used to be, and for a long moment, he couldn't do more than grin and thank Rodney for one last ride. He headed straight up, breaking atmosphere and flying toward the sun, settling his nerves for a moment before setting a course and checking on Jeannie and Madison.
Jeannie sat behind Evan, head in her hands. Madison sat next to him big-eyed and silent, and he knew damn well there was going to be another McKay taking care of Atlantis in the near future.
He let Jeannie release the ashes, and Madison got up long enough to hold her mother's hand as she hit the release button on the outside hatch. The fine spray was visible onscreen, and Evan sighed heavily as he listened to the sound of Jeannie's sobs.