Author: jenn (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Codes: Lorne, Sheppard, Bates, McKay, Sheppard/McKay
Summary: Lorne likes Atlantis.
Author Notes: Lorne's continuing adventures. Set roughly during current Crimes Against Humanity timeline.
ETA: For those new to this 'verse. I just realized it's been eight months since I wrote anything in here. God. Neglecting sociopaths: never a good idea.
First story in this series, Recruitment, is here.
Crimes Against Humanity can be found here (livejournal) or here (webpage).
Warnings: Please see this entry for series warnings.
Contrary to popular belief, Lorne doesn't hate McKay. And not because he's in no hurry to visit Carson and the sarcophagus again for regeneration, either. The guy annoys him, sure. Just hearing his voice is enough to make Lorne tense as it echoes through Atlantis like the man has a megaphone; if McKay's not happy, everyone knows it.
And when McKay's not happy, neither is Sheppard, and that's just dangerous.
But McKay's okay. Whatever the fuck happened here (and Lorne's still not sure of the entire story, but he figures eventually he'll work it out), McKay keeps Sheppard grounded better than anyone's managed in--well, Lorne's memory. God knows Mitchell couldn't, and Lorne's never fooled himself he could do anything but make sure Sheppard didn't get himself killed.
So he doesn't have to love the guy; as long as he's watching out for Sheppard, Lorne is just fine with him.
Sitting back against the couch in the common room, Lorne stretches his regenerated hand. It's mostly as good as new, though the muscles are still tight. Biro, finally out of the catatonic state she'd been in since they'd come to Pegasus, had given him some exercises and a muscle relaxant, sighing when she read his chart.
"You had to know better," she says with a rueful frown, and honestly, she's right.
Lorne likes Atlantis. Mornings dawn yellow-pink, unpolluted by city and industry, spilling through the stained glass in all the colors of the rainbow. His quarters have a balcony that looks over an ocean that stretches out forever. God, he has *quarters*, not a cell; not quite his familiar, cramped room on Sheppard's ship yet, but they're getting there. There's Bates and Ramirez, Stackhouse and Markham, Biro: friends and comrades, his family in all the ways that count.
And there's Sheppard, a little different, but still Sheppard. Lorne looks at his hand ruefully and winces as his fingers cramp when he makes a fist. He's been overdoing it.
"Still tight, huh?"
Lorne looks up just as Sheppard drops on the couch beside him, taking his hand. Too surprised to react, Lorne blinks as a thumb rubs slow circles into the palm, loosening the tense muscles in ways the injections haven't even come close to doing. Swallowing a groan, he wonders if Biro told him how to do it or he figured it out himself. "How was clean-up?" Sheppard says, sounding so normal that Lorne just goes with it.
It's not like Sheppard's ever been predictable.
"Fast. We burned the bodies. I left a team to keep watch; they'll report if anything comes up. I have a second team ready to relieve the first in a few hours; we'd better keep watch for a while." And not just for the Wraith; Bates is suspicious of the Athosians, which Lorne is in no particular hurry to discourage.
"Good call." Sheppard's thumb slides to the heel, pressing in; Lorne fights the urge to moan and melt into the Ancient cushions. "Got a job for you."
Lorne nods. Verbal skills are a little beyond him at the second; Sheppard's a *miracle worker*.
"Go over the recruits and start organizing the teams."
Lorne opens one eye: interesting. "You aren't going to do it?"
Sheppard wrinkles his nose fastidiously. "They're all competent. Run them in groups, get rid of the dead weight. We can't afford stupidity out here."
Lorne nods; he's disposed of unsuitable recruits before. "So far, they seem okay."
Sheppard nods absently. "Bates is handling base security; go over the rosters with him and get his input. What you don't want, hand over to him." Sheppard touches his radio with his free hand. "Bates, get down to the common room off the mess."
Lorne would have done that anyway. He learned early on that pissing off Bates was way too easy and just not worth the effort; the guy holds a grudge longer than Sheppard and never forgets a slight. "I have the inventory manifests," Lorne says, thinking of the tablet the little Asian scientist had given him; he's still going through the various functions. Security here is amazing; if they'd had someone half-competent in charge, even Sheppard might have had a problem figuring out how to get out. "They were arming for something; fifty naquada generators and enough supplies to build at least fifty more."
"I got a glimpse of the armory; anything on drones?"
"Enough to fuel a few full-scale wars." Lorne's still sorting through what they have and the manifests from the mainland armories; apparently they kept several on the mainland. He makes a mental note to tell Sheppard and start assigning teams to explore. He's betting that there are more that aren't on any of the maps. "They knew about the Wraith."
Sheppard nods thoughtfully. "Question is, were they retreating or getting ready for a war?" It's an interesting question; the Milky Way's been free since the Goa'uld were contained, and from what he remembers before leaving the galaxy, their allies were getting a little antsy. Peace has never worked out all that well.
"They could have been considering an alliance" Lorne says as Sheppard turns his hand, pressing his thumbs into the center of the palm; Lorne hisses softly as the muscles slowly unwind.
Sheppard pauses. "Huh. If what the Wraith want is food--" Sheppard trails off, mind already putting the pieces together. "The SGC would have something to offer."
Yeah. Lorne was thinking that, too.
Sheppard finishes up with a final slow rub that Lorne can feel to his toes, long fingers expertly teasing out the remaining cramps, stretching the new muscles with deliberate strokes before sitting back, staring at the far wall with an expression that Lorne's become familiar with since he got to Atlantis, even if he's not sure yet what it means. Sheppard has a whole new language here that Lorne's just beginning to learn.
"Sheppard?" Bates pokes his head in, looking vaguely irritated; Lorne interprets that as Bates having a really good day. Sheppard doesn't so much as change position, but Lorne can feel his attention turn on like a spotlight.
Bates nods, handing over the tablet pc, waiting patiently as Sheppard reads through. Looking over his shoulder, Lorne glances over the duty schedule. Not too bad. With a nod, Sheppard passes it to Lorne. "Double check it against who we have guarding the scientists. And get Stackhouse to watch out for McKay; I don't want anyone so much as breathing around him unless I trained them myself." Sheppard gives Bates a saccharine smile. "You get to keep Elizabeth."
Bates snorts; Bates and McKay didn't exactly hit it off. Looking at the tablet on his lap, Lorne tries to figure out why Sheppard's giving him this. "Shep, what do you--"
Sheppard stops him with a look, one hand going to his ear. "Sheppard here."
Even if Lorne can't hear him, he knows by Sheppard's face it's McKay. Sheppard grins, eyes flickering down as he listens, standing up with a wave at Bates to take his place. "Right, give me five minutes. Right. No. Yes, I'm currently torturing my staff. Lorne's got the rest of the night. Fine. Sheppard out." Sheppard's still smiling when he turns back to them; Lorne's almost used to it. "Lorne, you're commanding third shift tonight so Bates can get some sleep. Assign someone for Elizabeth and her people. Bates, clear your choices for future shifts with Lorne; I don't want him on base security. He's second team and I want him in the field. I'm off until morning. Call if it's an emergency, but keep in mind McKay controls your plumbing." With an wave, Sheppard's gone, already reaching for his radio. "On my way."
Lorne watches, bemused, as Sheppard vanishes down the hall, then looks at the roster in his lap. "He's in a good mood."
Bates looks glumly constipated; Lorne interprets that as amusement. "Noticed that. Anything you want changed on the roster?"
Lorne looks back down, mind automatically scrolling through the names, the duties. "Cadman's going to be on team three," he says, taking the tablet pen Bates provides and making a note. "Stackhouse is on the fourth when he's not on McKay-sitting duties. Both can pick their own people."
"Yeah, I kind of figured." Bates sighs, taking the pen to make the notation by Stackhouse's name. "Anything else?"
Lorne blinks his incomprehension. "Why are you asking me?"
"Because you're Sheppard's second, and he hates to deal with this kind of shit," Bates says patiently. "Plus, he sucks at it. Anything *else*?"
Numbly, Lorne makes a few more notes, arguing with Bates by rote, and eventually, Bates goes away with dark murmurs about emailing him when he's done. That probably means that somewhere, someone set up an email address for him. He'd better check that out.
When he's left, Lorne lets himself collapse back into the couch, glancing down at his right hand, remembering Sheppard's careful touch, following the imaginary path of Sheppard's touch with his own.
Sheppard must have forgiven him.
Atlantis isn't that different from any of their bases as far as procedure goes, and it occurs to Lorne that he's apparently been Sheppard's second for a while and just never noticed. The SOP is reflex, learned at the SGC, polished working on Sheppard's bases. Security schedules are set; potential team members are organized; three groups are ready to explore the mainland and check on the released prisoners in the morning.
Lorne stares blankly at the inventory sheets and decides that rank should have some privileges; he's getting someone from the mainland for a secretary.
Bates reports to him as morning dawns white-gold on the balcony outside the mess; he almost seems cheerful.
"Nothing interesting," Lorne tells him, taking a drink of coffee; Jesus, *coffee*. It's been too damn long. "Sheppard around?"
"Running," Bates says with a shrug. "He's getting better."
Lorne keeps his eyes averted; this is probably as close to a confidence as Bates is going to get. "Yeah." Flexing his hand, Lorne takes a slow breath. "Anything I need to know?"
Bates hesitates, resting his elbows on the balcony rail. "Sumner."
Lorne closes his eyes. Fuck. "He dead yet?"
"Sheppard's got him in one of the cells." The corner of Bates' mouth curves up. "Ford, too. Seems McKay thinks Sheppard needs a pet."
Lorne can imagine what Sheppard's going to do with him. It'll take a while. Years, maybe. Thinking of Sheppard last night, light and easy, the jagged, razor edges finally sheathed, Lorne takes a slow breath. "I want someone with McKay every second he's not with Sheppard," Lorne says quietly, glancing at Bates to make sure he's understood. "One of ours. No one else."
Bates nods; message received. Lorne pushes off the balcony; it's been a long night and he's tired, the good kind, the kind before he got caught, when they were in the Milky Way and could do anything they damn well wanted. Mitchell was right and wrong; he's not good at some parts of the job, but he makes up for it in others. "I left the schedules on the mainframe. Double check against the people Sheppard wanted for the first few teams; otherwise, we should be good until we start training them."
Bates nods, looking a little too enthusiastic; Bates has always liked this part of the job.
From the corner of his eye, he sees McKay coming into the messhall. Stackhouse is only a few feet behind him but probably invisible to McKay, who Lorne knows isn't fully conscious until he's had at least four cups of coffee. Bates follows his gaze as McKay pushes through the line and grabs for a cup and a carafe, looking like a man on the edge of homicide.
Lorne finds it kind of funny how even their people skid out of his way.
To his surprise, McKay and his coffee start toward the balcony; from the look on his face, he'd rather be doing pretty much anything else. Lorne can count on one hand how many times McKay's spoken to him since the incident in his quarters; fear or hate, Lorne's not sure and really doesn't care.
But it's interesting. Lorne takes another drink as Bates gives him a look; right, don't fuck this up. He's got it. As Bates goes out, McKay straightens, looking at his cup for a second before he comes out. "Lorne."
"McKay." Lorne keeps his hands where McKay can see them; the guy's paranoid and tends to panic first and think later. Intrigued, he watches as McKay comes up beside him, cup cradled in both hands; something, definitely. "Something bothering you?"
The conflict on his face is almost funny. "I need you to do something," McKay says, hands wrapped around the cup so tightly his knuckles are yellow-white from the strain.
Lorne takes another drink of his coffee. "What do you need?"
"I--I need someone to watch out for John." Frowning, he stares at his cup. "He likes you for some reason, so you seem to be the one to set it up."
Interesting. "John's pretty good at taking care of himself."
"Elizabeth wants to implant him."
God, and it had been such a good night. Lorne keeps his expression blank, but McKay gives him a flat look. "And I know you know about it, so stop pretending you don't."
Lorne almost smiles. It wasn't that hard to figure out when one of the labs went into lockdown; he'd wondered how Sheppard was going to handle population control; their usual methods aren't applicable out here. They need the people. At least some of them. "Fine, I won't. If it's any consolation--"
"John didn't tell you, I know." McKay waves a hand, but the worry on his face is real. "She--I don't know. I don't want him alone."
"He isn't. I assigned two people to him when I got here." Yeah, he *has* been Sheppard's second for a while. Shaking his head, Lorne leans against the balcony rail. "Markham's pacing him on his run and Ramirez gets him when he's done. We don't leave anything to chance."
"He got sent here, didn't he?"
Lorne winces. He's right. They lost him once, and look what the fuck happened. There's no way that's going to happen again, not on Lorne's watch. "Anything else?"
McKay takes a drink, eyes fixed somewhere on the horizon. "You've been with him for a while."
Lorne nods; McKay's going somewhere, but hell if Lorne can figure out where. Before he can get to the point, though, Sheppard's coming through the doors, freshly showered and looking--pretty damn good, actually. From the corner of his eye, he sees McKay gulp his coffee before turning around with an annoyed look. "Five in the *morning*? Are you kidding me?"
Sheppard grins back. "And good morning to you, too, Rodney. I thought you could use the exercise." Hazel eyes flash briefly to Lorne, warm and pleased with the world. "Morning, Lorne."
Lorne raises his cup briefly. "Morning. They were holding out on us; this is damn good coffee."
"It's an offense against nature," McKay grumbles, looking at his empty coffee cup with a forlorn expression. Not that it'll stop him from getting another carafe before he leaves for the labs. Lorne sees Ramirez and Stackhouse conferring briefly; probably working out their schedule. "Come on; I'm hungry and unlike you, I have actual work."
Sheppard rocks back on his heels, amused. "Right. Go ahead, I'll catch up."
With a quick look at Lorne, McKay goes back in; Lorne watches Ramirez casually follow him into the line for breakfast, trying not to smile as the line scatters at McKay's scowl. Sheppard's watching, too, a smile curving up one corner of his mouth.
McKay's good for him.
"Night was uneventful," Lorne says when Sheppard turns back around. "We organized the shifts, so all that's left is testing the potential teams and some basic training."
"Start that tomorrow morning," Sheppard says, looking more relaxed than he has in years. "Go to bed, take the rest of the day off. Go hit on Biro."
Lorne raises his eyebrows in polite disbelief. "You never give days off."
"You never take them." True. "Go. Bates can handle whatever comes up, and you could use the rest."
"Yes, sir." But Lorne doesn't move. "I didn't get a chance to patrol the cells yet," he says slowly. "I'm going down there before I go to bed."
Sheppard looks at him for a moment, weighing Lorne's request. The thing is, they may be Sheppard's, but Sheppard's theirs, too. There are medical files that need context, regeneration logs that carry six months of history that Lorne needs to know. "You're already cleared for the prison blocks," Sheppard says finally. "Get the codes from Bates."
He salutes briefly, watching the hazel eyes lighten, flashing green and gold. "Sir. Permission to--"
"Oh Jesus, I thought I broke you of that." Sheppard waves a hand before pushing off the balcony, following him into the mess. "See me tomorrow morning"
"Got it." Lorne watches as Sheppard gets a tray, McKay materializing beside him for seconds, bullying Sheppard into more than toast and coffee, getting him to a table and eating before Sheppard's even aware he's being manipulated. Lorne grins as he touches his radio, checking his gun from habit. He really does like that guy.
"Bates. What block is Ford in? I want to have a little talk with him."
There are some parts of the job he learned just fine.
ETA: Final Note: miss_porcupine pretty much formed my entire impression of Lorne. I'm trying to keep from using anything specific from her fic, but honestly, I know I'm going to slip; she's pretty much my canon on him. *sighs* My apologies in advance on that; if there's anything that shows up that's too specific to your verses, tell me. I seriously will *not* realize it's not canon.