Word count: ~6,200
Disclaimer: SGA is so not mine, I'm just having fun.
Notes: Thanks, as always, to splix for encouragement and beta.
Summary: Discoveries are made and connections forged.
It was their last night on Earth. Lorne looked at the constellations, then down over the water of San Francisco Bay to the lights of home. Familiar, cherished, and yet he was excited they'd finally been given permission to return to Pegasus, a home he and so many others had created for themselves.
Following the curves of the city, he walked along the pier, quickly noticing the dark shadow of a man sitting alone, feet dangling over the edge. Lorne slowed, not wanting to disturb Sheppard and yet drawn to him like the proverbial moth.
It seemed funny to him now that when he'd first been assigned to Atlantis he'd been wary of the relaxed style of their commander. However, it hadn't taken long for Sheppard's loyalty and self-sacrifice to win him over. And if he now recognized he felt more than he should, he would never tell Sheppard, just continue to be there as his 2IC and quietly support him.
Lorne was about to go back when Sheppard raised his head and turned to look at him. "Hey, Lorne."
Quirking his lips into a small smile, Lorne moved closer. "Colonel." It was impossible not to notice that Sheppard, usually surrounded by one or more of his team, was alone. Of course, each of them had found someone else, which made Sheppard's loneliness all the more apparent. "Mind if I join you?"
"Just as long as you're not going to hit me with paperwork."
"Not tonight, sir, promise."
Sheppard grinned. "Then by all means..."
Lorne sat down next to Sheppard, letting his feet hang over the pier but resisting the urge to swing them. "I still can't believe we finally got the okay to leave."
"You know it wouldn't have happened if General O'Neill hadn't pushed it through."
"It's a good thing he understood our reasons, then," Lorne said. And wouldn't he have liked to have been a fly on the wall during Sheppard and O'Neill's meeting and the IOA one that followed...
Sheppard nodded. "Yeah, it is."
Silence stretched between them but it felt more comfortable than not and Lorne went with it, hoping his presence was helping.
Lorne stood off to the side, watching Sheppard in the control chair. Although their flight back to Pegasus had been remarkably smooth, it never hurt to have backup, and it was interesting to see Sheppard in his element.
"Entering the atmosphere," Sheppard reported, eyes closed and attention focused inward.
Lorne followed their descent and touchdown, impressed by Sheppard's skill.
McKay's voice cut in from the gate room. "All systems nominal. Nice landing, Colonel."
Sheppard remained connected to the city but opened his eyes, meeting Lorne's. "Welcome home."
Lorne looked up, surprised to see Sheppard hovering in his office doorway. "Colonel."
"Hey, Lorne, have a minute?" Sheppard asked.
"Sure, come in." Lorne started to stand up but Sheppard waved him back to his seat and settled in the chair across from his desk.
"Just wanted to thank you for reorganizing those forms. I'm sure it took a lot of time to figure out, but it will make my life much easier."
Lorne smiled at the praise, happy to be acknowledged. "It didn't take that long and you've expressed your feelings about paperwork before, sir."
"Probably too many times." Sheppard rolled his eyes. "So you're telling me it was merely self-preservation."
Lorne laughed. "Curses, you've seen through my nefarious plan."
"Does your plan include lunch?" Sheppard asked.
Lorne's heart started beating faster but no doubt Sheppard hadn't meant anything so he was careful not to let his reaction show. "Sure thing."
"They've missed check in," Lorne stated, "and my team is geared up. Permission to go see what's wrong?"
"Granted," Woolsey agreed tersely. "Be careful."
"Thank you, sir." Lorne waited with his men until the gate activated, then led the way through. The planet seemed peaceful and the weather was pleasant, but that did nothing for the knot in his stomach and the feeling in the back of his head that something was wrong.
"There are a large number of life signs about three miles to the north," Parks reported.
"Okay, let's head in that direction." There were several paths leading away from the gate. The one going north was well-established and they had no trouble following it.
After about two miles, they ran into Ronon, loping back to the gate. He stopped in front of them, relaxed and breathing easily and a bit of tension left Lorne. "Ronon, is everything okay?"
"Yeah, we found a town with an underground outpost. The people have made it a temple and will only let gene carriers in so Sheppard and McKay are investigating while Teyla talks with the leaders. I was coming back to check in."
"Glad there's no trouble. Parks and McIntyre, go back to Atlantis and report. We'll go with Ronon and make sure everything's still stable. McKay will probably want time to explore so suggest that Woolsey sends a team with a jumper so we can cut the commute time."
Ronon took Lorne and the others to an inn near the temple. Teyla was sitting in the common room, speaking with several townspeople, but she looked up as they entered.
Lorne went over, nodding at the group. "Hello. Teyla, it is good to find you well," he said formally.
"Major Lorne, your concern is appreciated but not needed. We have made new friends." She proceeded with introductions and they made small talk for a few moments.
"I think I should go see if Dr. McKay needs any help," Lorne suggested.
"That would be wise," Teyla agreed. "We have graciously been provided with rooms."
"Thank you," Lorne told the townsfolk. "We appreciate your hospitality."
Lorne followed Ronon across the square to the temple. He could feel the subtle pull of Ancient technology as they entered the building.
"Good day, Ronon, I see you've brought a friend," the priest greeted.
"This is Lorne. He is gifted."
The priest bowed. "We are honored by your presence. We are here to serve."
Slightly taken aback, Lorne bowed in return. "Thank you. I would like to see Sheppard and McKay."
The priest led them to an impressive doorway decorated with symbols. "Place your hands here."
Lorne touched his palms to the indented rectangles and the panels lit up, glowing with swirling blue light. Then the doors slid to the sides, revealing a dimly lit staircase.
"If you will follow me," the priest offered, descending into the outpost.
"There's some kind of interference blocking the radios," Ronon said.
"Okay, we'll check back within the next two hours."
"I'll be with Teyla."
Lorne nodded and turned to follow the priest underground.
"We are very excited by your arrival," the priest said as they reached the bottom of the stairs and entered a chamber that was obviously of Ancient design. "Only some of our people are gifted, and none to the degree of your people. We are blessed that you are able to open more of our sacred temple and return it to its former glory."
"You honor us." Lorne groaned silently, aware that they were treading on dangerous ground. He hoped that the goodwill would remain but he'd seen enough situations turn ugly that he wasn't going to assume anything.
They went through a long corridor until they emerged into the control room. McKay had his tablet connected to a console and was engrossed in the work. Lorne waited but he didn't acknowledge them. "Dr. McKay..."
"What?" McKay asked sharply, not looking up.
Lorne took a calming breath and resisted the urge to make a rude comment. Asking if McKay needed help was likely to get an even more obnoxious response. "Where's Colonel Sheppard?"
McKay finally glanced at Lorne. "He found a ship."
"What kind of ship?" Lorne asked, his interest piquing.
"A nice one. He's exploring it so go ask him and let me work."
"Sure thing," Lorne replied, trying to keep the bite out of his tone.
Lorne politely dismissed the priest, assuring him that he could use the life signs detector to find Sheppard. It didn't take long to reach the ship but Lorne had to stop and stare at the gorgeously sleek lines of the craft before he could enter.
He found Sheppard in the control chair.
"Colonel?" Sheppard's eyes were closed, his face serene but Lorne was concerned that he'd connected to the ship on his own and therefore without backup.
"Major." Sheppard sat up, grinning widely. "You're not going to believe this ship."
Lorne smiled back then asked seriously, "Do you think it's safe to do that alone?"
"It's fine. And I just couldn't resist." Sheppard got out of the control chair and walked over to Lorne. "Let me show you around."
"Sure." Sheppard's obvious excitement was catching, and Lorne didn't want to bring him down by nagging that he should be more careful.
Sheppard led them around the ship. "It was designed for a crew of about two dozen for shorter term strike missions. It's much more powerful than the jumpers but more maneuverable than the big war ships."
"It's really amazing," Lorne agreed.
Lorne barely made his check in with Ronon and Teyla. "McKay and Sheppard didn't want to leave the outpost."
"The people have been gracious and friendly," Teyla said, tilting her head and looking at Lorne. "Are they truly wrapped up in the information they are collecting?"
"Or are they not free to leave?" Ronon asked suspiciously.
"Everything is fine," Lorne assured them.
"It is already dusk," Teyla said, placing her hand gently on Ronon's forearm. "Perhaps you might suggest they join us for dinner."
"Of course," Lorne agreed, anxious to dispel any concern.
Lorne went back to the outpost with Teyla's request. McKay grumbled that he had work to do but Lorne's reminder of dinner finally changed his mind.
Finding Sheppard back in the ship's control chair sent up warning signals. "Colonel? Teyla would like all of us to have dinner together. Colonel?"
Lorne was about to shake Sheppard's arm when his eyes snapped open and he gave Lorne a brilliant smile. "Hey, what are you doing back so soon?"
Lorne bit his tongue and didn't ask what Sheppard was doing in the chair. Instead, he said, "I spoke with Ronon and Teyla and they would like to have dinner with us."
"Oh, okay, that's great." Sheppard closed his eyes and didn't get up.
"Sir, I think she meant right now," Lorne tried. "McKay has already gone up."
Sheppard opened his eyes. "I figured it would take a while to detach Rodney."
"No, sir," Lorne said patiently. "He hasn't eaten for hours."
"Right." Sheppard sat up and the chair stopped glowing. "Let's go."
Lorne spent much of the next two days helping McKay. The priests had suddenly balked at allowing a team of scientists inside, even if they were gifted, and since they didn't want to find themselves banned entirely, they hadn't pushed the issue. While many systems were in good working order, time had taken its toll on others.
Lorne tried to watch out for Sheppard, but he was notoriously good at slipping away for apparently valid reasons. Finally, Lorne excused himself and tracked Sheppard to the ship's control chair. "Do you really think it's such a good idea to spend so much time connected to the ship?" he asked bluntly.
"I'm fine, Lorne." Sheppard didn't sit up or open his eyes. "You don't need to worry about me."
"Just think about it, please."
"Okay, I think we're good," McKay stated. "Try the control chair again."
Lorne settled in and leaned back, immediately feeling the flow of energy as the chair powered up. "It's working," he said unnecessarily.
"Good. See if you can find a diagnostic for the outpost's main systems."
Over the next hours, Lorne acted as a conduit, running through anything McKay asked for even though he didn't understand half of it. It was both exhausting and invigorating. During a brief lull in McKay's instructions, Lorne reached out, looking for the ship.
He gasped when he found both the ship and Sheppard. They were so closely interconnected that Lorne wasn't sure if he could distinguish them. Sheppard? It was incredibly weird to try to touch a disembodied person. He attempted to visualize himself reaching out, catching Sheppard's attention.
Lorne? How did you get here?
Lorne felt Sheppard's surprise. I'm in the outpost's control chair, sir.
Oh, that makes sense.
Lorne waited but Sheppard didn't continue. I have to say, sir, that I'm concerned by how closely connected you are to the ship.
I'm fine, Lorne. You don't need to worry.
If our positions were reversed, I don't think you'd let it go at that.
Sheppard's sigh rippled through their connection. Try to understand. The ship's been alone for so long.
I'm not even sure what that means. Lorne tried not to freak out even more.
The ship needs a pilot, a symbiotic relationship between man and machine. I can't explain it better. Here, let me show you.
Lorne felt himself being drawn into the connection, could see Sheppard, how he fit with the ship, completing it. It was powerful and alluring and Lorne understood Sheppard's desire to remain.
I understand. Sheppard released him and Lorne felt adrift before he pulled himself back together and began worrying again. But you can't stay connected all the time. What about Atlantis, your responsibilities to your people? You're being consumed by the ship.
There was an uncomfortable silence before Sheppard responded. You don't need to worry. I'm going to find a balance. Please don't tell Rodney. I'll work it out if you just give me a little more time.
Don't shut me out. Let me help.
"Lorne! Snap out of it. Why aren't you listening to me?"
McKay's voice cut through, breaking the connection with Sheppard. Lorne blinked, trying to focus. "I'm here."
"What the hell was that?" McKay barked, clearly torn between annoyance and fear.
Lorne opened his mouth to report, to betray Sheppard. "I just got caught up, wasn't paying attention and didn't hear you. I'm sorry if I scared you."
"More like wasted my time," McKay huffed.
"I'm sorry," Lorne reiterated, glad to see McKay looking relived rather than suspicious. "I think I need to take a break."
"Fine, I could use some food anyway."
Lorne went straight to the ship's control chair and put his hand on Sheppard's arm. "You need to come back now."
"I'm okay," Sheppard insisted. "You don't have to worry."
"Open your eyes and look at me, Sheppard. We're not done. I lied to McKay to protect you so you'd better get up and talk to me."
Slowly, Sheppard sat up and faced Lorne. "Thank you for not telling."
Lorne nodded. "Get out of the chair."
"Jeez." Sheppard rolled his eyes. "It's not like the ship has taken control of me."
Lorne added a silent 'yet.' "I just think it would be better if we put a little space between you and the chair. Come with me."
"Okay." Sheppard stood up and followed Lorne out of the ship and into one of the outpost's living areas.
"Have you eaten or slept recently?" Lorne asked.
"Yes?" Sheppard looked guilty.
Lorne raised his eyebrow and looked at Sheppard steadily.
"Well, I don't actually know what time it is so..."
"You can't keep doing this," Lorne said gently. "You're going to make yourself sick."
Sheppard sat down and ran his hands through his hair. "When I'm connected I feel perfectly fine."
"We have no idea what's happening, what it could be doing to you." Lorne sat down next to Sheppard, wanting to establish a connection in the real world. "Please promise me you will eat and get some sleep and that you won't connect again without me there."
"But I just need a little more time to make it work. You said you understood," Sheppard said, voice somewhere between pleading and accusation.
"I did feel it, and I do understand that belonging like that is a powerful incentive to go back." Lorne took Sheppard's hand and squeezed. "Remember that there are many people out here who...care for you. Maybe we can find a solution if we work together. But first and foremost we need you on Atlantis. I don't want to lose you."
"All right." Sheppard took a deep breath and covered their joined hands with his free one. "We'll work on it together."
"But first we take care of you."
Sheppard nodded. "Okay."
Lorne startled awake when Ronon called his name. "What's wrong?" he asked automatically.
"Sheppard's taken the ship out."
Lorne froze momentarily then continued dressing. "What?"
"Don't know more than that," Ronon said gruffly. "The priest didn't say anything else."
Lorne followed Ronon across the square to the temple. "Where's McKay?"
"He was down there when it happened. Sent the priest to alert us that he needed you."
They moved through the eerily quiet temple until they reached the doors. Lorne placed his hands in the rectangles to open them. "Okay, I'll let you know what's happening as soon as I can."
Lorne ran down the stairs and into the control room. McKay was hovering over the console, mumbling and typing furiously. "Dr. McKay, report."
"About time," McKay said under his breath before turning to face Lorne. "The ship started emitting odd power readings, they were beginning to spike and I couldn't stop it. Sheppard went in and it stabilized but then the ship took off. Initially he didn't respond to my hails but then he sent, 'Get Lorne in the chair.' So go and see if he'll tell you what's going on."
"Okay." Lorne ran to the control chair, trying not to think why Sheppard was with the ship instead of sleeping at the inn like he'd agreed to do. He sat in the chair and sought out Sheppard. The connection was immediate and intense.
Lorne caught his breath as he merged with Sheppard and the ship and felt the excitement of flying in space. The vastness was nearly overwhelming but it was balanced by the freedom to explore the beauty all around him.
After a time, Lorne was able to mute the connection so he could think more clearly and not get so caught up in the excitement of flight. It was clear that Sheppard was in his element, but the ecstasy radiating from him was streaked with rising panic. It was quite possible that the ship was taking control.
Lorne thought frantically while trying to project acceptance and understanding. The ship had been alone, without pilots for centuries. It wanted to fulfill its mission, to do what it was made to do. But if Sheppard was having trouble controlling it, what would be a stronger authority figure? Something the ship would obey? By calling for him, Sheppard had given Lorne the answer.
Lorne gathered himself, trying to visualize and project the outpost and the authority it held over one of its ships. You will return to me.
The ship slowed but didn't change course. Lorne could feel Sheppard siding with the ship and its longing to stay in space. Grasping at straws, he reached out and stroked against their consciousness, coaxing and demanding. Your orders are to return to base. He felt the ship shudder and strengthened his voice. It is unacceptable to disobey me.
The ship turned gracefully, heading back to the planet. Lorne could feel Sheppard and the ship quivering with energy, the desire to submit to Lorne and the authority of the outpost, to belong again. He encouraged them, praising them for listening to him, promising order and fulfillment.
As the minutes sped by, Lorne realized that he was feeling more of Sheppard individually and their connection was becoming more and more intimate. His body reacted as Sheppard's pleasure amplified his own. By the time the ship landed, his body was desperate. Sheppard?
Yes, we're back. Waiting for you.
Thankful there was no one in the corridor to see him, Lorne went to the ship. He felt his already fast pulse ratchet up a notch when he found Sheppard naked and hard in the command chair. "Sheppard?"
Sheppard met Lorne's eyes. "Yes."
The desperation in Sheppard's voice overcame all the logical reasons Lorne should resist. He opened his pants and climbed on top of Sheppard, gasping as their cocks rubbed together.
"Please," Sheppard whimpered, pulling his legs back, opening to Lorne.
Lorne spit into his palm and slicked his cock before pushing into Sheppard, fucking him with short, sharp thrusts. Sheppard grunted and Lorne looked at his face, seeing it twisted in something resembling pain. Lorne froze, panting as he asked, "Are you okay?"
Sheppard grabbed Lorne's hips and thrust up, begging, "Don't stop."
Lorne gave in, moving deeper and harder into Sheppard. In the midst of the intense pleasure, Lorne was startled that he could still feel the connection with the ship. He focused, realizing that the ship didn't want to give up Sheppard.
He needed to break the connection. Lorne pulled out while still kissing Sheppard. "I want to fuck you on your hands and knees," he whispered into Sheppard's ear.
"Can't wait," Sheppard moaned, resisting as Lorne tried to get him out of the chair. "Just do it now."
"Get on the floor, Sheppard," Lorne ordered. He moved off Sheppard and followed him down.
Dropping into position, Sheppard pleaded, "Please fuck me."
Lorne slammed into Sheppard from behind. "Fuck, so good." He reached around and closed his hand on Sheppard's cock, stroking and demanding a response. Their bodies were so closely attuned that they came within seconds of each other.
Lorne caught his breath before pulling back and turning Sheppard toward him. He was shocked by how ravaged Sheppard looked. Running his fingers along Sheppard's face, Lorne murmured, "You are doing so well. You need to obey one more command, can you do that for me?"
Sheppard licked his lips and nodded before closing his eyes.
"Okay, good, stay with me." Lorne got his pants back together quickly but was unable to see where Sheppard's clothes were. "You need to follow me." Lorne knelt up, tugging on Sheppard to move.
"Don't want to leave," Sheppard said hoarsely.
Fearing that his time was running out, Lorne stopped worrying about Sheppard's clothes. He took a firm grip on Sheppard's arm and put one hand on the back of Sheppard's neck. Using his best command tone, Lorne said, "Get up and follow me."
Sheppard's eyes snapped open and he started moving. "Yes, sir."
Lorne directed Sheppard out of the ship. He cringed at the thought of seeing McKay and the questions he'd have but kept moving.
"Finally! What part of 'keep me informed' didn't you understand?" McKay said sarcastically before pointing his finger at Sheppard. "And you, Colonel, you don't get to go galavanting --"
Lorne watched McKay's eyes go wide as they processed the sight before him. Lorne gritted out, "I have to get him away from the ship."
"Oh my god, what the hell happened?" McKay sputtered as he disconnected his tablet. "Get going."
Lorne urged Sheppard back into motion. When they reached the steps, Sheppard resisted. "You need to obey me, Sheppard. We have to go up."
"Don't want to leave the ship alone," Sheppard managed to say.
Lorne held Sheppard's face in both his hands. "I promise we won't abandon the ship. But I need to be sure you're safe first."
Sheppard leaned into Lorne's touch. "Okay."
They reached the top of the stairs and stepped into the temple. Ronon and Teyla were waiting by the door. "We needed to get him away from the ship," Lorne said.
"Here." Ronon took off his coat and draped it over Sheppard.
Lorne adjusted, keeping Sheppard upright. "Thanks."
"Is the inn far enough?" Teyla asked. "If not, the jumper is nearby."
"I'm not sure," Lorne said, getting them all moving again. "Let's go to the inn first and see how he's doing."
By the time they reached the room, Sheppard was able to stand on his own. Lorne stepped back and asked, "How are you feeling?"
"Better." Sheppard looked at the ground.
"You can't get away with that," McKay said, surprisingly gently. "You're completely wrung out. You need to go back to Atlantis and get checked. Teyla, see if you can find him some clothes." McKay turned to Lorne. "You need to tell me exactly what's going on so I can try to fix it."
"Right," Lorne agreed.
Ronon moved closer to Sheppard. "I'll help him get cleaned up while you do that."
Lorne stood to the side while Dr. Keller scanned Sheppard one more time. It appeared that she hadn't found anything horribly wrong but thought if she just kept looking she could find something. Sheppard's team was there so Lorne should have gone but he couldn't bring himself to leave.
"I'm really fine," Sheppard tried for the umpteenth time. "I'm just tired and would like to get out of here."
"Come on, Jennifer," McKay chimed in. "You know he'll rest better in his quarters."
Keller gave McKay a look before turning to Sheppard. "I would rather hold you for observation." She held up her hand to forestall any disagreement. "But I'll agree to let you out if you stay put and check back in the morning."
"Of course." Sheppard smiled disarmingly.
"I'm serious," Keller warned.
Lorne stepped forward. "Since Dr. McKay is planning to go back to the outpost, I'll walk Sheppard to his room and be sure he's settled."
After Sheppard said goodbye to everyone, Lorne followed him through the corridors. He couldn't read Sheppard so he stayed silent until the door had closed behind them. "I'm sorry, sir."
"Please, don't." Sheppard sat on the edge of the bed and buried his face in his hands. "I should be the one apologizing. I don't think I would have come back if you hadn't made me."
The words were muffled but Lorne understood their meaning clearly. "I wasn't lying. Your team needs you. We all do."
"My team." Sheppard gave a short, tired laugh. "They've each found someone else. And I'm happy for them, don't get me wrong, it just leaves me alone again."
"You're not alone." Lorne stepped closer, trying not to get his hopes up but afraid to be too direct. "Atlantis is lighting up for you."
Sheppard looked up, gazing out the window onto the city. "You feel her, too?"
"Yes." Lorne took a deep breath. "And I'm here for you, if you want."
Sheppard tilted his head. "I didn't freak you out entirely?"
"No," Lorne said honestly then smiled. "I totally get being swept away by flying in space."
"Yeah, that was really cool." Sheppard grinned back at Lorne. "But what I needed..."
"Isn't a problem for me." Lorne met Sheppard's gaze and admitted, "I've wanted you for a long time."
"Wow, I didn't know." Sheppard stood up and stepped closer to Lorne, reaching out to touch his face. "Is this okay?"
"Yeah." Lorne mirrored Sheppard's touch, lightly rubbing his thumb along Sheppard's cheekbone. "How about this?" Lorne brushed his lips over Sheppard's.
"Very okay," Sheppard confirmed, deepening the kiss. Eventually he pulled back and rested his forehead against Lorne's.
"Good." Lorne wanted more yet his practical side knew it was unwise. He stepped back and dropped his hand from Sheppard's face. "But you need to rest. McKay will figure out how to help the ship and we'll need to be ready."
"Yes, sir." Sheppard dipped his head and quirked a smile.
A jolt of excitement raced through Lorne and he couldn't resist taking Sheppard's face in his hands and kissing him firmly. "That's not helping."
"Sorry. You're right, I really am drained and need to sleep. And you must be tired, too."
"Do you mind if I stay for a while, just to be sure you're okay?" Lorne asked, suddenly unwilling to leave Sheppard alone.
"I don't mind." Sheppard sat down and unlaced his boots. "But I don't want you to worry about me. I feel fine."
"The last time I left you to rest you ditched me, so forgive me if I'm a little cautious." Lorne tried to keep his tone light and teasing but he was sure some of his fear came through.
"Damn, I'm sorry," Sheppard said. "I think the connection has been broken so I shouldn't bug out on you."
"Don't apologize." Lorne smiled and tugged Sheppard into a loose hug. "I'm just glad you're back."
Sheppard rested against Lorne. "Me, too."
Lorne walked them back toward the bed. "Sleep now."
Lorne sat down at the desk and watched Sheppard strip to his boxers then climb under the covers. He thought the lights down until there was only the ambient glow of the city brightening the room. It wasn't long before Sheppard's breathing evened out.
Lorne watched Sheppard for a little while. He was stunned at how radically things had changed in such a short time, leaving him excited yet terrified. His eyes grew heavy and without conscious thought, his head nodded and he drifted into sleep.
Something, perhaps a sound that wasn't right, woke Lorne. His head jerked up and he blinked his eyes, momentarily disoriented in the dimness of a room that wasn't his own.
There was a groan from the bed and he realized it was Sheppard. Lorne stood, stretching out sore muscles, and went to him. "Sheppard?"
Sheppard rolled, tangling himself further in the sheets, but didn't wake. Lorne reached out and gently put his hand on Sheppard's shoulder. "Wake up."
Sheppard's body tensed, and Lorne let go immediately. "It's just me. It's okay."
"Lorne?" Sheppard turned, relaxing as he saw Lorne.
"Must have been some dream," Lorne said awkwardly, realizing Sheppard seemed vulnerable and hoping asking him to talk about it wasn't crossing a line.
"Yeah." Sheppard's voice was shaky and he rubbed his face. "Sit down?"
Lorne sat on the side of the bed and tentatively touched Sheppard's arm. "You okay?"
"It was the ship." Sheppard covered Lorne's hand with his own. "It needs...I need..." Sheppard sighed in frustration. "I don't even know, anymore."
Lorne slowly moved his free hand to Sheppard's stubbled face, stroking lightly when Sheppard didn't turn away. "How can I help?"
"Keep touching me." Sheppard groaned as Lorne's hand traced the chain of his dog tags down to his chest.
"That's not a hardship," Lorne said, fingers circling Sheppard's nipple.
"Mm..." Sheppard arched into the touch. "I'm not good at talking about stuff." Sheppard waved his hands between the two of them.
"You don't have to say anything," Lorne said, understanding Sheppard's discomfort.
"But I want you to know it's more than sex. You keep me grounded."
"Thank you." Lorne kissed Sheppard softly but with growing intent. "I want more, too."
"Good." Sheppard tugged until Lorne was stretched out on top of him.
Lorne groaned as his body settled between Sheppard's legs and their cocks nudged each other. "Tell me what you want."
"Fuck me," Sheppard said without hesitation.
"God, you're so hot," Lorne said, burying his hands in Sheppard's hair and kissing him soundly. "Let me touch you."
"Get rid of your clothes first."
"Yeah, good thinking." Lorne disentangled himself and got naked. He hadn't had much of a chance to explore Sheppard the first time but since he himself hadn't removed any clothes, he figured Sheppard deserved to see him.
As he watched Lorne undress, Sheppard kicked off the covers and his boxers and sprawled out, offering himself to Lorne. "Nice."
Lorne raised an eyebrow. "I think that's my line."
Sheppard reached out his hand. "Come here."
Lorne went willingly, resettling between Sheppard's legs and leaning in for a kiss. He brushed his lips down Sheppard's neck and nibbled on the hollow by his shoulder. "I want to take my time."
"Anything," Sheppard gasped. "Anything you want."
Lorne stilled, breathing in the scent of Sheppard's skin, feeling its warmth. He was stunned that Sheppard would open himself so fully, and determined to appreciate the value of the gift.
He began making his way down Sheppard's body, pausing at nipples and navel to lick and nip. Lorne avoided Sheppard's cock, but ran his hands up and down Sheppard's legs before spreading them and kissing his way along the smooth inner thighs.
Finally, Lorne took Sheppard's cock into his mouth, sucking then swirling his tongue around the head. It felt so good, and judging by the noises Sheppard was making, it was working for him, too.
Sheppard threaded his fingers into Lorne's hair. "Too good." His hips bucked up even though he was obviously trying to stay still.
Lorne pulled off. "Hands above your head, crossed at the wrists," he ordered.
Sheppard's cock twitched, and as he obeyed he groaned out a breathless, "Yes, sir."
Smiling, Lorne knelt back and petted Sheppard's thigh. "Very nice. Bend your legs...that's right, get your feet flat on the bed...now spread them for me." Lorne widened his legs, helping to hold Sheppard's thighs apart.
"Please," Sheppard whispered.
Lorne sucked on two fingers then pushed one slowly past the slight resistance and into Sheppard. He thrust in and out a few times before adding the second. "Doing okay?"
"Yes." Sheppard tightened on Lorne's fingers then relaxed. "Please fuck me."
"Lube?" Lorne asked.
Lorne looked at Sheppard. "I was asking where, not if."
"I'm good with spit." Sheppard met Lorne's eyes. "I want to feel it."
"I was afraid I'd hurt you before."
Lorne pulled his fingers out. "Turn over and let me be sure."
Sheppard rolled his eyes but got onto his hands and knees. "See?"
Lorne couldn't find any problems. "Okay, good." He leaned down and licked around Sheppard's hole then worked his tongue in.
"Stop teasing and do it," Sheppard begged.
Lorne gave one sharp smack to Sheppard's ass. "You'll get my cock when I'm ready. Understood?"
Sheppard dropped his head down between his arms and panted, "Yes."
Lorne kissed the hand-shaped bloom of red on Sheppard's ass. "Good." He spit in him palm and slicked his cock, holding Sheppard's hips so he could control the speed of penetration. "Slowly."
"Fuck," Sheppard moaned.
By the time Lorne was all the way in, he was trembling with the effort of controlling his need. "Ready?" he warned.
Lorne pulled back and thrust in hard, gripping Sheppard's hips and forcing him to stay still as he set up a fast pace, pushing them both closer to orgasm.
Lorne brought his hand down to fist Sheppard's cock, loving the harsh sounds he tore from Sheppard. "That's it. Come on."
Sheppard pushed back, taking Lorne in as deeply as possible before crying out as he came.
Lorne felt Sheppard clamping down on his cock and lost any remaining control, thrusting madly until the pleasure burst through him like a supernova.
They lay collapsed together, catching their breath. Lorne stirred first, taking his weight off Sheppard before moving to the side. He nearly fell off the bed but Sheppard twisted acrobatically and tugged him close. "Thanks," Lorne laughed.
"My pleasure." Sheppard grinned and kissed Lorne sleepily.
Lorne kissed back, relaxed and sated. "Still a few hours until morning."
Sheppard snagged the blanket and settled against Lorne. "We should sleep."
Taking that as an invitation, Lorne closed his eyes and slept.
Sunlight was streaming into the room when Lorne opened his eyes. He tightened his arms around Sheppard and breathed deeply just to be sure he hadn't been dreaming.
Sheppard's door slid open and McKay walked in. "I have a plan --"
"Rodney, knock first," Sheppard whined.
Lorne wanted to bury his face in Sheppard's hair and hide but couldn't turn away from the disaster that was about to happen.
McKay looked at the bed, waved his hands dismissively and continued with his thought. "I stalled for time by telling the ship to stand down until Atlantis sent new orders. Teyla sweet-talked the locals, so we're still good on that front. I need you to bring the ship home."
Trying not to look stunned or embarrassed, Lorne sat up. "I can't let Sheppard pilot the ship unless we know it won't hurt him."
"You're going to fly the ship." McKay gave Lorne his 'you moron' look. "You'll connect with the outpost and give the ship orders to return to Atlantis with you."
"How do you know it will obey me?"
"It needs pilots and a purpose," Sheppard said. "You can make it understand that Atlantis will give it that."
McKay nodded. "But it needs to happen soon."
"Give us a minute and we'll meet you in the gate room," Sheppard said calmly.
Lorne and the ship dropped out of hyperspace and headed for Atlantis. It wasn't long before Lorne felt Sheppard's mind brush against their connection and he and the ship opened to it. Hey, Sheppard, we're good.
In Atlantis' control chair, Sheppard smiled as his mind embraced them both. Atlantis welcomes you home.