denyce: (SGA: KS Lorne)
[personal profile] denyce
Title: Maintaining
Author: Denyce
Fandom: SGA
Pairing: Lorne-Sheppard friendship, Rodney/Ronon
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Lorne’s not exactly jolly and John wants to know why
Spoilers/Warnings: S3 Sunday
Disclaimer: Not mine; no infringement on any rights is intended. This is not for profit & is intended only for enjoyment.
Notes: This wasn’t exactly what I originally set out to write, but here it is. Late! of course, but done, finally. Hugs & a thank you! to [livejournal.com profile] infinimato for the beta. Lastly, ANY mistakes are mine & mine alone!





“Hohohoho…” John burst out playfully as he swung around the pole revealing himself to Lorne.

Lorne stood there gaping as he took in the comical image of his CO. Whether it was from the Santa or elf hat Lorne couldn’t decide since he had never seen anything quite like it. Only the shape reminded him of traditional Santa hat though it was a bit longer, so maybe it was suppose to be an elf’s hat, though a strange purple-patched version of an elf’s hat. Another key difference beside color was the tip. Instead of just hanging down, it kind of bounced about, more like Pooh’s Tigger. He wasn’t sure how, since logic told him it shouldn’t, not with all that stuff weighing it down. In place of the customary snowball fluff of a Santa hat were long ragged strands of ribbon streaming from the end, each strand braided and decorated with beads of various sizes and colors. It sounded and jingled like bells, although he couldn’t find anything that resembled bells within the long strands. On top of that, it continued to dance a jig as the thing somehow stayed propped on Sheppard’s head.

Finally, he closed his mouth, tilting his head down the hide his smirk. Biting the inside of his lip, Lorne swallowed the mirth that threatened to merge then shook his head in order to compose himself and asked, “Teyla’s creation?”

Undaunted John smiled, “Yeah, she made it for me. Cool, huh?”

Lorne didn’t know what to say, or if John was serious or just kidding. Unable to read his CO’s eyes he decided it was better to play it safe. Plus, one thing he knew for sure, nobody sane would ever turn down a gift from a woman who could easily kick your ass with one arm tied behind her back. “Oh yeah, very cool!”

“Yup.” John leaned forward, looked to the side then back to Lorne, in a conspiratorial whisper added, “Good to know we’re on the same page.” He leaned back. “But that’s not why I’m here.”

Lorne raised his brow in question and waited, wondering. It couldn’t have been too important, or else Sheppard could have radioed him. On the other hand maybe it was important, but on the personal side, something that he didn’t want to be accidentally over heard.

“So, I was going over the roister and your name keeps popping up. Thing is, I’m pretty sure that’s it’s not the schedule I originally signed off.”

Again he had no clue what to say, because if he had to admit it, he did alter things a bit. Shrugging his shoulders, he just asked, “Problem?”

John rolled his eyes, “Well, yeah, the way it stands now doesn’t leave you any time off. You know, for some holiday cheer.”

Relieved it was nothing serious, Lorne shrugged his shoulders, “Really, it’s no big deal. Didn’t have any plans anyways and this will give Johnson more time with his kid.”

“Yeah, well, that was nice of you, but you didn’t have to also fill in for Morris, Gains, and Rosen.”

“Don’t really celebrate holidays like the others do. It’s just another week, and if I can help out… Don’t really see the problem. Sir.”

Puzzled, Sheppard frowned, “Whether you celebrate or not isn’t the point…”

Feeling defensive, Lorne straightened and unflinchingly glared his CO down. When he spoke his tone was harder, more clipped than he intended, “It’s not? Then what is, Sir?”

Sheppard felt himself straighten in response. He had no clue what the fuck just happened. Teeth pulled and tugged on his lower lip as he returned Lorne’s stare as tension between them increased. The only sound was a light jingle that vibrated from Teyla’s creation, anchored to his head.

The jingle reminded John why he was here—he had wanted to make sure Lorne got time off. He deserved it, more than most. The why Lorne wouldn’t want it had him a bit concerned. If Heightmeyer was here, or if they had a replacement he’d of ordered Lorne to a few secessions to try to solve things. As it was, at the moment he didn’t have an alternative recourse.

Suddenly Rodney was there, interrupting, “Oh there you are, you ready? Let’s go already.”

John didn’t look over or reply, just continued to stare at Lorne, trying to decide what to do.

From behind Rodney, Ronon asked, “Problem?” as he glanced from one soldier to the other, obviously seeing the tension between them.

“I don’t know,” John responded. “Major?”

Lorne’s jaw clenched before he forcibly broke Sheppard’s fixated stare. “No sir, no problem here.”

Hesitantly, John nodded and commented, “Right,” although he didn’t really believe it. Whatever this was, it didn’t classify as immediate danger, but it didn’t change any of the warning bells going off in his head. Even though Rodney and Ronon were silent through this little exchange, whatever it was, he could feel every one of their unasked questions. John’s hands swept over his face rubbing his eyes in frustration.

Taking a deep breath, John decided what to do. “Alright. For now I’m gonna let this slide. But, Lorne, this isn’t over, understood?”

Undaunted, Lorne nodded.

“Fine. You’re dismissed. I’ll stay and wait here for Miller”. John glanced over at Ronon and Rodney. “Why don’t you two go ahead, Miller will be here soon…”

“What? Why? I thought you were going with us to MR-17…” Ronon’s hand grasped and squeezed Rodney’s shoulder. Without looking up at the bigger man, Rodney sighed and asked, “What?”

Lorne ignored them and just kept his focus on his CO. “With all due respect, Sir, I can finish out my shift.”

Pleased, Rodney brushed Ronon’s hand off his shoulder. “See there you go. Come on, we’re going to be late.”

“Rodney!” John pronounced through gritting teeth.

“What? It’s true. What, you want Lorne to come. Fine! But you can tell Teyla why we’re late.”

Ronon grunted then added, “She won’t mind.”

“Now that’s using your head, Rodney…” Smirking, John addressed Lorne, saying “As soon as Miller gets here then we can all take off. A little holiday R&R… ”

“No!” Lorne nearly shouted. Surprised by this outburst, each man just stood gaping. Lorne shook his head, “Look I’m sorry. I appreciate the offer, but it’s not necessary. I’d rather just work.”

“Honestly, I have to say I’m kinda of thinking that’s the last thing you need.” John explained. “So as of right now--officially your choices are: go with us for some needed rest or holiday cheer whether you want to call it, or be off duty here.”

“Sir?”

“Major, that’s an order. Listen, I can’t have one of my officers overworked and for no reason. At the moment things are quiet, this is something we need to take advantage of when it’s offered.”

Smiling, pleased by the solution John started to rock on his toes, his hat jingled louder as he moved.

Lorne, clearly devastated, nodded, then addressed his Commander. “Sir, permission to return to my quarters?”

Clearly baffled, John stopped rocking in mid stride. He hesitated before quietly stating, “Granted.”

Even more rigid, if that were possible, Lorne stood at attention and waited. Finally, John angrily added, “Dismissed.”

As soon as the word left his CO’s mouth Lorne saluted and turned on his heels. The only thing he could hear was his own heart pounding a mile a minute, his mind screaming to do anything else but follow orders. He hated being cornered more than that he hated being vulnerable. And right now he was close—too close—to falling apart. A part of him wanted to break out in a run; instead he just kept walking quickly as he could back to his quarters.

Rodney and Ronon continued staring down the corridor that Lorne left.

Frustrated John turned to his teammates and hissed, “What the hell was that?”

Rodney flinched.

There was something about the flinch or the way Rodney avoided looking at him, John couldn’t put his finger on it, but intuitively he made the leap. His finger pointing for emphasis, John glared at Rodney, “You know, don’t you?” he accused.

Rodney backed up and bumped into Ronon. Instead of pushing him away, Ronon closed the reminding distance between them until Rodney’s back was plastered to his chest. A hand clamped down Rodney’s shoulder, then slithered down and until Ronon’s arm twined around Rodney’s waist anchoring him there.

John blinked as he watched the intimate hold between them. It wasn’t that he was surprised; he wasn’t—not that they were together as a couple, as he had gathered they’d been together for a while now. What was surprising was they were being openly intimate. And it wasn’t Ronon’s usual thing to give them away; Ronon was the embodiment of discrete. Not that Rodney was the kiss and tell type—he wasn’t, but a continual chipper, polite and happy Rodney meant either John was dealing with alternate universe Rod, or Rodney was getting laid. Add to that the fact that whenever Ronon was around he was inertly hovering over Rodney, and Rodney never discouraged it. It didn’t take a genius to figure it out, over half the base knew. Though he never said anything because they never said anything, or did anything to give themselves away—until now.

And John couldn’t help but ask himself, what the hell did this had to do with Lorne?

As if reading his mind, Ronon spoke, “You need to tell him.”

Almost distractedly, Rodney nodded, “You’ll go after him?” John’s stomach tightened he barely heard Ronon’s “Yeah” as he bent down and brushed his lips across Rodney’s ear before stalking out. Whatever Rodney had to tell him John instinctively knew he wasn’t going to like it.

“Rodney?”

Rodney looked up—his looked haunted.

~*~*~*

Ronon didn’t rush; he knew he’d find Lorne in his quarters. If anything, Lorne was a man who followed orders. His mind went to his teammates. He knew it was only a matter of time before Sheppard found out—not that he was really concerned about it. He trusted John, and the kind of man that he was.

On the other hand, Rodney hedged every time the subject came up, saying that Ronon couldn’t really understand the politics of it. What Ronon did understand was they were stupid ass regulations, and what he did gave a shit about was his teammates and the people he knew here and now, in Atlantis.

Ronon slowed as he turned the corner coming up to Lorne’s quarters. It wasn’t that he and Lorne weren’t friends, they were and had been for almost a year now, and sharing a secret emphasized and strengthened it. Facing the door, his hand raised about to announce his presence, he stopped as he heard Lorne swear and move about. The sounds were muffled but distinctive enough to tell things were being thrown, crashes as objects hit their target and fell to the floor. Minutes later his own fist hit against the wall before he abruptly turned around.

There was nothing he could do but allow Lorne time. With a deep sigh, Ronon braced his stance in front of Lorne’s quarters, his arms crossed, to shield Lorne from anyone who would come near.

~*~*~*

Still on sentry, Ronon heard Sheppard long before he rounded the corner, the jingling hat still in place. Ronon just stared at the hat.

Realizing where Ronon was staring, John waved his hand upward with obvious annoyance, indicating the hat. “She weaved it into my hair.”

John waited, but Ronon didn’t respond. Not a snicker, grunt, or a placated nod, and that worried him even more.
“How is he?”

“Now? Quiet. Rodney told you?”

Distracted, John nodded then looked directly at Ronon, his irritation clear. “Yeah and by the way we’ll be having a discussion about that—this later.”

Ronon arched a brow in question to Sheppard’s stare. Sheppard, for his part, didn’t cave under his menacing glare for a whole twenty seconds. Then John folded, rolling his eyes.

“It wasn’t about trust.” Ronon stated.

“Just the lack of it?” John countered. Ronon didn’t answer and continued to glare. “I get it, alright. It’s just it would have been nice if you’ve have told me…” John gestured toward Lorne’s door, “before now.” Head bowed, John’s hand automatically reached up to rub his neck in frustration. “Listen you better go. I’m sure Rodney’s climbing the walls by now.”

Solemn arms still crossed, Ronon turned and frowned at Lorne’s door then back at Sheppard. He silently accessing his friend before nodding his consent, and turned to leave. Three steps away Ronon paused and planted a comforting hand on Sheppard’s shoulder.

Before John could become accustom to the weight of Ronon’s hand, the gesture and Ronon were gone leaving him alone to stare at his SiC’s door.

John inhaled and exhaled once, then twice. Holding his breath John hit the chime.

Naturally. Locked and no answer. John took another deep breath and used his code to bypass the lock. He stepped in as the door slid open and automatically closed behind him.

The room itself was standard for most military on the base and usually Lorne’s was: pristine, orderly, and sparse of personal possessions unlike the clutter of his own room. At the moment it looked closer to John’s room on a good day as things were scattered all over. The silence was deafening, but John jerked ten seconds later from the sound of water coming from the bathroom. The soft echo of bells barely registered until he turned and saw his reflection.

The ribbons billowed. John could only sigh in exasperation—definitely not a look that conveyed strength and confidence in someone’s time of need. An hour ago he was proud and honored to wear it, but now… with a quick glance toward the bathroom, now wasn’t the right time. Stepping up to the mirror John fingered the hat, feeling around, lifting to see exactly where Teyla had braided and weaved the ribbon from the hat into his hair to help keep it anchored.

By the sixth ribbon, John was feeling a mixture of sadness for letting Teyla down, though he was sure she’d understand, and of feeling cocky as his dexterous fingers worked quickly to effectively unfasten each ribbon. Bending his head to a better angle, John tilted the hat toward the side to see the last ribbon that was held secure. The hat’s weight pulled heavily, tightening the braid further. Reaching behind him John tried to start unraveling it. Hearing the hum of water turn off, he panicked and began to pull.

Frustrated he pulled harder with each pull ripping fabric that also yanked actual hair from his scalp. The bathroom door slid open and stream waffled into the room, preceding Lorne, who walked in half naked. He wore gray sweats that hung loosely on his hips and a towel over his head, rubbing his hair dry. With a last fierce yank, John swore with the pain, sure he had pulled hair straight from the root, his fingers itched to sooth his scalp—instead he fumbled with the hat, holding it behind him. He looked up guiltily when he felt Lorne’s stare more than heard him.

Startled by a voice and unexpected sounds of bells, Lorne looked up. Confused, he could only ask, “Sir?” before military instinct kicked in and he expectantly stood at attention.

Waving his free hand, “Not… at ease, Major.” John took a deep breath. He sucked at moments like this, but his comfort wasn’t the point. Nervously glancing up from under his lashes. “Look Lorne… Evan…” John took a couple of steps forward. The unexpected crunching sounds under his foot drew his attention.

It was shattered glass, the glint of silver catch his eye. Instinctively he moved to retrieve it.

Whether it was out of anger or fear, Lorne’s hissed, “Sir!” and moved to stop him. Without glancing his way, John ordered, “Stop!” It echoed harshly in the room. Then more gently he added, “Don’t move, Major, the glass,” and pointed to Lorne’s bare feet.

John carefully bent, his fingers reached for and grasped the thrown object—a silver picture frame. Standing, he delicately brushed away the remaining bits of glass from the frame then stepped away from the fallen mess, his eyes never leaving the image within the frame.

He had no clue when it was taken or where exactly. He only recognized the people within it, both Lorne and Carson. It looked like it was taken on Earth, probably during the time when they had to evacuate Atlantis. Both were openly laughing raucously, their mouths twisted and caught open. Lorne partially bent over an arm flung over Carson’s shoulder keeping him intimately close, both oblivious that the picture was being taken.

Glancing down at the picture, John’s thumb caressed the image of Carson. He should have known, but wasn’t that the reason he was here now.

Hesitantly he glanced back to Lorne. The man stood ridged, pale and so very lost. Silently John cursed himself that he hadn’t seen it sooner—maybe he did, but had long ago conditioned himself to ignore anything that came near militaries ridiculous DADT policies.

Now realization dawned. Not only had he lost a friend, a really good friend, but, sadly he had to confess that the man in the picture was someone he didn’t know—and Lorne, he had lost so much more.

“How long were the two of you…”

Lorne looked away unable to voice any denial. Then he straightened, words rough and clipped, “When… How much time, Sir?”

Confused, John shook his head, “Huh? What’d I miss?”

“To pack, Sir.”

Peeved, John shook his head as he got it. Lorne automatically assumed John was going to write him up, send him home. Looking back at the picture, he quietly said, “Not happening, Major.” He pointedly stared at Lorne so there’d be no misunderstanding. “Look, this is one of those things where I don’t give a shit about government policies. We’re not there, and if nothing else we can take a page from Vegas.” At Lorne’s confused look, John crocked a brow, “You know what happens in the Pegasus galaxy stays in Pegasus, wraith and all—Got it?”

Lorne barely nodded, but John decided it was good enough.

“Listen, I’m not exactly good at this kind of thing—ask my ex.” His lopsided grin slid as he heaved a sigh. John looked at the picture then up again. He added, “Lorne… Evan, I like to think we’ve friends, real friends,” pausing to swallow the oversize lump in his throat, “not just colleagues out there... I… Evan, I’m really sorry…and I want you to know if you do need a friend—at anytime, I’m here.”

Long seconds passed before John moved, hoping to give Lorne time to digest what he had just said.

Distractedly he glanced down at the shattered glass; grateful for a task, he set about to clean it up. He gently sat the picture on a shelf. John’s fingers slid over a wall panel until a small hover vacuum appeared, a small beam immediately detected the glass and headed over toward the mess sucking up broken shards of glass as it hummed along.

The vacuum beeped when it finished and automatically returned to its storage space, the panel closing behind it. John looked back toward Lorne, he hadn’t moved. Nodding to himself, John licked his lower lip, trying to determine if Lorne was gonna be ok. Finally, deciding there was nothing more he could do, John moved toward the door, bells sounded at his movement.

Still clutched in his hand, John raised to his chest the ridiculous though cherished holiday hat Teyla had made for him. His step faltered, and he swallowed dryly in shock. His eyes widened when he noticed more than just a few strands of hair entangled around selected ribbon. Again, fingers itched to examine the damage.

“Ah Sir?”

Pausing John’s heart sank at hearing the Sir. Disappointed, he turned around only to come face to face with Lorne.

Still lost, Lorne glanced away, then, back at John, “Sir…” clearing his throat only to swallow audibly several times before he spoke again. “John, thank you!” Blue eyes implored that John understand what he couldn’t say.

Pleased, John just grinned and nodded, then raised the hat in salute, plopping it back on his head before turning and briskly walking away, the door swished shut behind him.

Lorne stood transfixed and listened to jingle of John as he moved further down the corridor until Lorne couldn’t hear him anymore. He turned toward the shelf that held a picture of his Carson. Walking over he picked up the picture, his thumb caressing Carson’s image. Heavy hearted with everything he was feeling he couldn’t stop the smile that tugged at the corners of his mouth as he heard Carson’s told you so dance through his mind. Laughter escaped as memories of Carson filtered in. Many were highlighted by numerous arguments all over whether or not they should tell friends about their relationship followed by long satisfying makeup sessions.

The laughter was bitter, hollow, and hurt as his throat closed. Raw with emotion, Lorne nodded staring at his beloved “Yeah, yeah so you did.”

FiN~

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