Actions

Work Header

The Rise and Fall of APUAHTACROFOTS, or, The Legend of the Traveling Lunch Club

Work Text:

1. It starts in the infirmary.

Lieutenant Amy Kirsh goes out with her team on a routine check of an abandoned planet one morning and comes back draped over her CO’s back, seriously wounded after she shielded Dr. Harris from a poison-tipped arrow with her own body.

Colonel Sheppard’s offworld(A), of course, so it falls to Evan to check in on her once Dr. Beckett’s found an antidote to the poison from what Parrish helpfully informs Evan is a fern common to several planets in the Pegasus Galaxy (Athyrium Aubreyan, which Parrish informs Evan he named himself with a certain amount of professional glee-until he remembers that Kirsh almost just died from it, at which point the glee disappears, because Parrish, like the rest of the civilian crew, is not as tone-deaf as a lot of the military units seem to think).

Evan hunts down Dr. Beckett in his office—“Good news, lad; a week of rest and she’ll be good as new,”—and steps out into the infirmary proper to look for Amy’s bed so he can tell her good job—

--and spots Amy lying on a bed with the curtains drawn almost but not quite all the way around it, looking pale and drained. Dr. Lisa Kepler, a physicist, is sitting at Amy’s side with her back to the narrow gap between the curtains, holding her hand and stroking her hair in a way that speaks of months of intimacy.

The thing about Evan is, he’s not a dick.

Granted, he has moments of occasional dickitude: he’s a human being, and human beings-especially five hundred workaholics stuck in a floating crock pot of a city several million light years away from earth-are fallible. Emotions, unfortunately, aren’t easily quantified; you can’t write a chemical equation of what you get when you take the irritation of long days, short nights, and neverending work and add a drop of whatever the hell the word is for ‘the stress you feel when you’re in imminent danger of death from life-sucking aliens’. However, Evan usually tries to apologize or make amends every time he fucks up in someone else’s direction, and he tries to avoid doing so in the first place. It’s just common courtesy(B), and, in Atlantis, common sense; the guy you’re cursing out today might be the guy in charge of saving your life tomorrow.

And also, generally speaking, once everything is said and done, the measure of Evan’s metaphorical scale leans heavily towards ‘not a complete and utter asshole’.

So, not being a dick, he immediately turns around and starts to walk back out.

“Major!”

Of course, Evan is also most definitely not a ninja, and Amy sees him before he makes it away. Evan turns back again and smiles genially as Kepler draws the curtains back.

“Lieutenant Kirsh,” he says, ignoring Amy’s paler, oh-god-no look of fright. “Doctor Kepler. I’m so sorry. Doctor Beckett keeps the lights so bright in here that I couldn’t see a thing when I came in. Great to see you’re doing better, Kirsh. I’ll expect your report by the end of the week.”

He nods and turns again to leave. Amy still looks like shit, but at least she doesn’t look like she’s going to have a heart attack. Evan thinks his work is done, but he’s halfway to the transporter when he hears his name called and sees Dr. Beckett running towards him.

“Major,” Dr. Beckett says, “Radek and I need to discuss an-an operational matter with you. Would 1900 tonight work for you?”

 

2. Evan assumes it’s actually about an operational matter, because-well, because it’s Beckett, and when Beckett has a personal concern he usually takes it right up to Colonel Sheppard or Dr. Weir, so Evan is understandably surprised when Beckett and Radek carefully lock the door they sit down across from Evan’s desk.

“We weren’t sure who to bring this up with,” Radek starts. He has a USB drive in his right hand that he fidgets with.

“Because something needs to be done—at least until your government gets its head out of its ass-no offense, lad—“

“And obviously Rodney and Colonel Sheppard were out of the question, the—“ And here Radek dissolves into what Evan assumes is an impressive string of Czech profanity while Beckett nods along.

“Hold up,” Evan breaks in after what must be a good thirty seconds of cursing. “Something needs to be done about what?”

Radek and Beckett look at each other, look at him, and look at each other again before Radek gestures at Evan’s computer with his USB drive.

“May I?” He leans over at Evans’ nod and plugs it in. It’s got two folders in it, one labeled ‘pics’ and the other ‘reports’; Radek clicks on ‘pics’ and brings up the first one, then sits back.

It’s a picture of someone’s locker, near the armory, where personal mission gear gets stored away when not in use. The name on the locker’s been blacked out, but the word ‘fag’, scratched into the front of the locker with a knife, is clearly legible.

Evan’s jaw hurts.

The next picture’s a CF uniform with paint splattered on it; the next, a DVD case-one of the Star Wars movies-that looks like it’s been stomped on; the next, a paperback book dunked in an overflowing sink. There are more pictures, clearly taken from different cameras and featuring several different uniforms and personal items, of a dozen aggravations that could be passed off as pranks or accidents if anyone were to ask questions. No incident, barring the vandalized locker, is sufficient for any serious sort of disciplinary action even if someone made an official report. And Evan knows there won’t be any of those forthcoming, not when speaking up could cost someone the chance to be on Atlantis, or their entire career.

The ‘reports’ folder is similar. There is not the remotest whiff of anything official about any of Beckett’s files; they’re all informal, personal anecdotes about sustained harassment, noted with no names (though Evan’s sure Beckett got his patients’ permission).

Patient 1X3Y says two marines cornered him in the gym and asked him about his relationship with the lead military officer on his team.

Patient 04XSG mentioned science officer X53Z continues to use homophobic slurs against women in his lab, despite respected requests to stop.

Patient I3B7 says two members of his team often describe S314 and R314 as ‘cocksuckers’ and speculate on their personal relationship.

The list goes on and on. It’s most of it small shit, again-stuff ten years ago most soldiers wouldn’t have batted an eye at, would have dismissed as inter-team banter and moved on, but-but that was ten years ago, and-goddammit, but Atlantis should be better than this.

“Okay,” Evan says when he finishes looking over the files. “What were you thinking?”

Radek and Beckett conduct yet another conversation with a glance and a shrug.

“Well,” Beckett starts, “We’ve bloody got rid of-that is, we have good reason to believe the main instigator of the most overt actions transferred back to the SGC for personal reasons-”

“With a note in his file for General Landry-”

“But the fact remains that he didn’t act alone, and-well, besides that, Major, no one spoke up, did they? He felt comfortable enough that no one would report him, or even disapprove of his actions, that he did all this and word never got out. And I’d say that points to what could be a very serious problem on Atlantis.”

“Yes, yes, is big problem, not just among your military, but in the science labs as well, but, of course, we feared bringing this to Colonel Sheppard or Dr. McKay, as heads of their departments, and forcing them to act might expose their-”

“It might expose them to a witch hunt the next time someone from the IOA wants an excuse to start one,” Beckett cuts in with a sharp look. Radek nods along in agreement. Evan’s pretty sure he knows exactly what Radek was going to say, which only confirms his previous suspicions. “But something has to be done, and we thought we, and you-”

“Usually fall below the IOA’s radar. Fair enough.” Evan leans back in his chair and scrapes his hand across the back of his head. Now here’s a clusterfuck. He can’t overstep his authority and start disciplining scientists and officers alike, especially not without Sheppard and McKay noticing, and Beckett and Zelenka are right: Sheppard’s definitely let certain parts of the uniform code go unenforced in Atlantis, which could open him up to an absolute crapton of shit if the IOA gets wind, and Evan not only likes the guy, he respects him as a CO and would rather he didn’t get transferred off Atlantis. Not to mention, he’s pretty sure military discipline won’t fix the problem. It might stop overt, physical displays of intimidation or vandalism, but Evan knows bullies, and he knows how that just because it doesn’t leave bruises doesn’t mean it’s not happening, and problems that take root keep sending up weeds unless you dig them out entirely.

No, this calls for something far more imaginative than confining someone to their quarters or restricting someone from days off on the Athosian settlement.

“Well,” he says after thinking it over for a moment, “The important thing’s going to be working together, so it’s clear this isn’t just one department looking for a fight.

“Exactly,” Beckett replies. He leans forward and taps his fingers on his armchair. “Which is why we wanted you in on this, Major. We just weren’t sure-not that we thought you would ever stand for harassment by anyone in your command, but-whoever’s in charge of this won’t need to ask in order to find out, if you catch my drift, and-we just weren’t sure, son.”

“Yeah.” Evan ejects the USB drive from his computer and hands it back to Radek. “I don’t know what we can do about this, but—I’ve been here two years, doctors, and I’ve been kidnapped several times, held hostage by enemy combatants, had my mind taken over by an alien entity, and—hell, Doc, I lost count of how many times I’ve been shot at my second month here. And I know every man and woman under my command has had my six, and that’s what matters to me. Not their sleeping arrangements.”

Beckett smiles; Radek beams.

“Good lad,” Beckett says. He leans forward and puts his arm around Radek's shoulders. “So, Radek and I have some ideas.”

 

3. For all the three of them talk it over, their ideas remain nebulous and unfeasible until the next packet of letters from Earth arrives aboard the Daedalus. Evan’s second-youngest sister recently started teaching high school drama after five years as a theater director, and she includes several snippets about her students: how one of her students, a girl whose parents died, to be followed a few years later by her adopted mother, is setting up a support group for students who have suffered a loss or trauma; how two others collaborated on a play for an anti-bullying initiative for the talent show; how the school's GSA is so much bigger than the one at their own high school, back when she and Evan were teenagers.

"Huh," Evan says out loud when he reads those bits. He rereads the paragraphs, thinks for a minute, and yells out for Dr. Beckett.

Carson comes right away, because the reason Evan actually has time to sit and read his sister's letter is due to a stab wound he sustained the day previously on a mission backing up SGA-1 which has him laid up in the infirmary, along with two other members of his team.(C)

It takes Evan about half a second to realize he maybe should have asked one of the nurses to call Beckett instead, but once Beckett and the staff he brings with him at a dead run are assured Evan is in no imminent danger of death, save perhaps from Beckett throttling him, he gets Beckett to bring Radek around after their shifts finish.

 

4. “We’ll need a name,” Beckett says two days later in Evan’s quarters.

“A name, Doc?” Evan asks—or, rather, starts to ask before he chokes on his spit and starts coughing (and, boy, does coughing make stab wounds hurt like a mother, and not even all the fluffy pillows Carson piles up behind his back help).

Parrish—because Parrish is a part of the club, apparently, since Beckett showed up with him in tow twenty minutes earlier—pours Evan a glass of water without asking and hands it to Evan once Evan starts coughing. “Yes,” he says. He jots something down on the notepad he has in his lap. Evan looks over and it has ‘Name ideas:’ underlined twice next to a doodle of Godzilla cowering before a stick figure that looks suspiciously like Ronon. “Something that hints at what it’s about without stating it outright. Something we can make an innocent acronym out of.”

“Yes, yes,” Radek says. “Something descriptive-you know, Atlantean personnel united against harassment—homophobia— towards any colleagues, regardless of, eh, flag on their shoulders.”

“Well,” Beckett says, “Aye, but something more snappy. Major, any thoughts?”

Evan looks up from watching Parrish draw, very badly, stick-figure Sheppard shooting what Evan thinks is that carnivorous tree they found on M4A-367.

“We can figure it out later,” Evan says. “We should focus on getting it up and running as soon as possible. Now, what are we thinking about meeting space? Radek, you said there’s empty offices over by Rodney’s?”

“Hmm, everyone thought it best to give him some space. We should have plenty of room.”

As Radek brings up the plans on his tablet, Evan lets his eyes slip back down to Parrish’s notepad, where stick-figure Rodney is being attacked by sentient bits of bark from Sheppard’s tree.

 

5. They meet two doors down from Rodney’s when SGA-1’s offworld. They each try to find two people to bring: Parrish brings two other scientists, Doctors Baxter and Gerrard, Carson brings Maria Lee, a nurse, and Lieutenant Lahm, and Evan brings Doctors Higuaín and Johnson, who are both openly out.

“It’s like a buddy system,” Evan says, “But several times larger. We can’t take overt action, but if anyone’s getting harassed, we can be there to support him and make it clear to everyone else that he’s got friends in every team and department on Atlantis.”

“I have set up an email account we can all log into,” Radek said. “If you’d like to be included, please send me an email and I will send you username and password.”

“If you see anyone being harassed, you can send myself, Dr. Beckett, or Radek an anonymous email, and we’ll look into it. If the person agrees, we’ll send out messages and come up with a schedule to buddy up with them until the situation is handled.” Evan doesn’t fidget with the hem of his t-shirt, but that’s only because of the years of practice he has giving orders. He made sure to wear his most casual civvies, a paint-splattered Red Sox t-shirt and cargo shorts, to make things as informal as possible, but he has no idea if this is going to work.

Gerrard shares a glance with Lahm and raises her hand. “Not to seem cynical, Major, but do you think this will actually work? Just a peer support network stopping all the shit that goes on?”

Parrish breaks in before Evan can answer. “Like the Major said, he can’t do anything overt. But at the very least, it’ll be a start.”

“Right,” Evan says. “We can do more later, but for now, we think this is the best way to go. Remember high school? Bullies like to pick on outsiders, stragglers, people who don’t have anyone to lean on. Let’s make sure there’s no one in Atlantis who doesn’t have friends.”

“Also,” Parrish says, “Radek and Carson and I are heads of our departments, and Major Lorne is the 2IC of the entire city, which I imagine would discourage most, uh—”

“Idiots,” Evan finishes for him.

Parrish flashes him a brilliant smile.

 

6. Word doesn’t spread to everyone affected right away, and it takes even longer for anyone who hears about it to feel comfortable enough to report an incident, but eight days later Evan answers the door to his quarter and finds Dr. Spatz from anthropology waiting outside. To be precise, he finds Dr. Spatz from anthropology halfway down the corridor, but Evan calls after him and invites him in. He asks Dr. Spatz to sit and make himself comfortable and have a beer if he wants one. Dr. Spatz obliges with the sitting, fails utterly at looking comfortable, and takes two sips of the beer—Atlantis Prime(D)--before he proceeds to fidget with the bottle.

It takes a quarter hour of beating around the bush before Dr. Spatz opens up: his friend, Lt. Eric Morales, has been helping Dr. Spatz with his hand-to-hand after their shifts, after which they usually get a bite to eat or grab a beer. Last night, Dr. Spatz found the change of clothes he’d left in the gym locker room soaking in a sink; from statements Lt. Morales made, Dr. Spatz realized Eric had been ‘getting some shit’ from an unnamed teammate about his choice of friends. Eric didn’t want to bring it up, so Spatz had decided to keep quiet about it until he’d mentioned it to Lisa Kepler, with whom he’s conducting an experiment on M2A-771.

Once that comes spilling out, a lot of other things do too; Dr. Spatz—Daniel—is twenty-five, a genius straight out of academia for the first time in his life with all the social awkwardness that goes along with it, and there’s all sorts of things he doesn’t know about Atlantis that he’d feel stupid asking Radek or McKay, and then it turns out he did a semester abroad at Evan’s alma mater, and—well, it’s past eleven by the time he leaves, and Evan eyes his pad, still full of unfinished paperwork, ruefully before he sends out a message to the group.

Mess, 1300. Dr. Spatz & Lt. Morales.

 

7. “Doc Parrish, pass me some—what are these things?”

“Lupiyaardk,” Parrish says by Evan’s elbow as he hands over the bowl of deceptively delicious slimy white tubers. “And it’s David.”

Evan grins and spears a whole lupiyaardk on his fork, savoring the taste of sweet potatoes with half the carbs with a breathy ‘mmmmm’ of satisfaction.

Delicious.

“David, then,” he says when he looks up and finds the botanist staring at him with a bewildered look on his face. “So, how’s the plant from M2A-847? The spiny one?”

David fumbles around for a second before he stutters out an answer, and Evan takes the opportunity to take stock.

On his other side sits Daniel, then Eric, who’s having a very intense conversation with Marie and Dr. Higuaín about the latest Toro tournament. Drs. Baxter and Johnson are huddled with Radek around the end of the table, plotting, if Evan’s not very much mistaken,(E) to cut Rúnarsdóttir’s coffee with decaf and see how long it takes for her to notice.

Evan makes a mental note to make sure they never target McKay, though he doubts they’d be stupid enough to try.(F)

Next to Johnson, Dr. Gerrard and Lt. Lahm are sitting across from Daniel and Evan; they’ve focused on the young Doctor, distracting him with pictures Lahm got in her mail from her sister, who’s a PA on Spiderman 3 and who says they’re bringing Venom and the Sandman in.

“Dude,” Lahm says, “Freaking Venom. And Two was so good, you know it’s going to be awesome.”

Carson, lastly, sits across from David Parrish. He’s clearly off shift, dressed down in bedhead, shorts, and a well-worn Queen at Wembley t-shirt, and from the way he keeps blinking he looks like he woke up in the middle of a good sleep just to come to lunch.

Which, if Evan remembers his schedule correctly, is probably exactly what happened.

“You know, it’s not mandatory for you to come,” he says the second time Carson starts dozing off in the middle of chewing. “We can take turns. We’ll have to for supper, since we’re all on shift. You can go back to bed, Doc.”

“Aye.” Carson yawns. “But then I’d miss the meatloaf.”

“I thought you didn’t like meatloaf, Carson,” Gerrard pipes up from down the table, interrupting a contentious debate over who’s stronger, Eddie Brock or the Symbiote, and starting an entirely new debate about which is better, meatloaf or spaghetti.

Lt. Rick Holder, who’s been two tables away since Evan walked in and is pretending to read something on his pad while he eats but is actually watching Daniel and Eric and looking very stern, gets up and dumps his nearly-full bowl of salad in the trash halfway through lunch.

Evan counts it as a win and serves himself a second helping of lupiyaardk.

 

8. “Large crowd,” Ronon says two weeks later when he’s finished kicking Evan’s ass in the gym.

Evan shrugs. Personally, he doesn’t think three scientists waiting by the door constitutes a crowd, but then he’s not Ronon. “We’re watching a movie in the rec room in ten minutes. They probably just wanted to make sure I’d live long enough to make it.”

Ronon barks a laugh and claps Evan on the back. He misses both bruised spots on Evan’s shoulder even though Evan’s skin is hidden by his t-shirt. The big guy’s way more thoughtful than most people give him credit for.

Ronon’s toweling off and Evan’s just got his pants on when David jogs into the locker room.(G)

“Evan!” he calls out. He stops short and sucks in a breath when he sees them. Evan guesses he must have news.

“I’ll be right there,” Evan says as he pulls on his shirt. He stifles a groan when his right bicep twinges.

“Right.” David turns on his mega-watt smile and tightens his fingers around the pad he’s holding. “Hope you finished the book, Major, we’re discussing the ending today.”

“Funny,” Ronon says once David’s gone. “Thought you said you were watching a movie, not going to a book club.”

Evan very carefully doesn’t look at Ronon and picks up his bag. “Did I? Must have misspoken, it’s been a long-”

“And I bet this doesn’t have anything to do with Lahm and Morales and your lunch club,” Ronon says.

“I don’t-”

“Or your military’s stupid sex rules.” Ronon leans against the wall when Evan looks up at that and crosses his arms over his chest with an incredibly smug look on his face. “Thought so. I want in.”

Which is really not what Evan was expecting, though, in retrospect, it makes sense: Daniel told him that Ronon caught him sneaking out of Eric’s quarters before dawn one morning and had only made a terrible joke about using protection.

“Well," Evan says after a moment. "Welcome to the lunch club."

At Ronon's look, he adds, "We're still working on a good name."

 

9. Mess, 1430. Lt. Alonso

Evans set up his message alerts so that anything from Radek or Carson gives the noise alert, so the message wakes him up just after 1400.(H) He's only slept two hours, having gotten in from a negotiation on P3X-118 late this morning, but he gets up and pulls on a clean t-shirt and some shoes.

There's usually at least a couple hours' notice, and he figures he should make sure everything's okay.

Everything is not okay.

Carson looks angrier than Evan's ever seen him when he gets to the mess. It doesn't take long to see why. Derek Alonso's hunched over in his chair, dressed down in a T-shirt and cargo shorts, and he's got a black eye the size of Texas.

Evans squashes his knee-jerk rage and takes a seat next to Alonso, where Parrish has saved him a space. Alonso doesn't look up. Carson, on Alonso's other side, gives him a tight-lipped shake of his head.

"You okay, kid?" Evan asks.

Alonso, who only been on Atlantis a couple months, dropped his fork with a clatter. "Sir," he starts.

Evan gives him what he hopes is a disarming grin and lightly bumps his shoulder. "So, you settling in all right? Everyone treating you well?"

Alonso swallows. "Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."

"Good." Evan realizes that, distracted as soon as he saw Alonso, he forgot to grab a plate. He snags a strange green vegetable off of David's plate and tries it. It's good. Not unlike broccoli, but with a mellower taste. "Well, if you have any problems, my door is always open."

He doesn't say a lot more, since he is not an idiot. He knows how intimidating it can be to talk to a higher ranking officer, and that's without the restrictions of the uniform code involved. Evan turns back to David instead. David's pretending to scribble notes about a plant in his notebook but is actually doing more doodles. There's one of Teyla murdering Casper, the friendly ghost with a meat cleaver, a really good one of Colonel Sheppard's hair jumping off his head and running for freedom, and one of the stick figure Evan hasn't seen before, dressed in what look like Air Force blues, standing in front of what it takes Evan far too long to recognize as an easel.

David snaps the notebook shut when he notices Evan looking at it.

 

10. It's not Evan the kid goes to, after all. The black eye gets written off as a sparring accident on the official record, but Alonso spills his guts to Radek, of all people, three days later.

It was a civilian. And it wasn't hazing, it was domestic abuse. That's part of the reason why Alonso was so worried about telling anyone. Not only was he worried about exposure, he knew he'd get a lot of shit about getting beat up by a freaking astronomer.

There's not really a lot they can do to get rid of the guy, officially. Alonso won't-can't-make any allegations or he'll get a dishonorable discharge, and the guy hasn't done anything else that would merit so much as a verbal reprimand.

It's not one of Evan's proudest moments, but in the end they frame the guy for vandalism and send him off to General O'Neill with a note in his files.

"Of course," Carson says after they've done it. "Rodney and the Colonel can never find out about this."

Radek nods vigorously. "Yes, yes. It would be most unfortunate if the IOA ever find out they had anything to do with something like this."

"Yeah." Ronon straightens where he is sitting on the floor with his back against Evan's nightstand.(I) "If the IOA ever finds out they're sleeping together, they're going to need to be as clean as possible about everything else."

“Huh,” Evan says once his brain catches up.

David, sitting next to him on the bed, pats his shoulder.

"Ronon," Carson starts. "Lad.”

Radek puts a calming hand on Carson's shoulder and squeezes.

"Oh," Ronon says. "Sorry, Doc."

 

11. Carson dies the next weekend.

After the ceremony by the gate, there's a wake in his honor. All twenty-seven members of the group push tables together in the cafeteria and sit with Radek.

 

12. Teyla, Ronan has explained, has figured out what the group's for and wishes him good luck but is too busy with her duties as an Athosian leader to take part on a regular basis.

After Carson's death, though, she starts coming when she can. She can't always stay the whole meal, but she always takes care to have a personal conversation with whoever it is they're supporting- and to make sure it's noticed.

"This is a good thing you're doing, Major," she tells Evan one time when they happen to be off world. "Not only are you protecting members of your group, but you're creating loyalty and trust between those who might otherwise never even hold a conversation.”

 

13. Things happen.

Dr. Kepler is injured in the puddle jumper crash and paralyzed from the waist down. She transfers back to Cheyenne Mountain, and Lt. Kirsh goes with her. A few months later, they send back a USB drive full of ebooks, TV shows, and an encrypted file containing a marriage announcement from a newspaper in Massachusetts. Evan and the others sneak them back a bottle of Atlantis Prime and have a party in their honor.(J)

Someone vandalize Dr. Baxter's office decorations a couple of weeks before Christmas, and as a result of this the first ever Atlantis Gingerbread House Making Party, co-thrown by Dr. Baxter and his friends, Teyla (the fierce alien warrior who knows how to kill you thirteen different ways with one hand tied behind her back) and Radek (the man so fearless he stands up to Dr. Rodney McKay on a regular basis). The first year, forty-two people show up to the party. The second year, ninety-eight. Dr. Weir praises the creativity of the first party and sends out a memo congratulating Dr. Baxter on the novel idea to build steam morale.

By the time the second party rolls around, Dr. Weir's been declared MIA.

Derek Alonso dies holding off four wraith so his team can make it back to the gate on a blown away mission. He is twenty-three years old.

Colonel Carter takes charge of Atlantis. Things are tense for a couple weeks, because everybody knows she's a stickler to the rules compared to General O'Neill or Colonel Sheppard. It quickly becomes obvious that this is true; however, it also becomes obvious that comparing someone to General O'Neill or Colonel Sheppard is a low, low bar when it comes to rule sticklerism. Evan has no doubt she figures out what the club is within a week-she is, after all, an actual genius, and it quickly becomes obvious when she never tries to fool anyone away from it unless it's an emergency, but as far as Evan knows, she never so much as mentions it to another soul.

Seven days after. Derek's death, Rick Holder apologizes to Lt. Morales. The next time there's a lunch, he sits down at the end of the table between Sasha and Stephanie and starts a table-wide argument about whether American Football should actually be called football.

Another year rolls into the next, and the group rolls on.

 

14. Two weeks after Richard Woolsey takes command of Atlantis, Evan goes off world to P19-31X on an overnight mission. Everything goes well, but the new antihistamines Dr. Keller gives him keep him awake all night and make him so drowsy the next day that Sasha has to help him walk back to the gate. Dr. Keller sends them off to bed as soon as he gets back and tells him not to move until he gets at least six hours of sleep.

Seven hours later, he wakes up to the familiar ping of the message and grabs his pad off the nightstand.

Mess, 1230. Dr. Parrish.

Evan stands up so fast his head spins.

 

15. "It was nothing, really," David tells him when he goes to David's office at 1215 to walk him to the cafeteria. "Just a couple of offhand comments. I wouldn't have even brought them up, but Ted overheard them and mentioned it to Ronon.”

"David," Evan starts.

David sighs. "I know. But it's different when it's you."

They round the corner that spills out towards the cafeteria, and the entire cafeteria is full.

"I saved you a spot!" Radek calls out when he sees them.

There are two spots, actually, both of them next to him. Evan and David take their seats and dig in. It's lupiyaardk and meatloaf day again. David forks over his excess lupiyaardk onto Evan's plate-because he thinks it's all right, but Evan's snacking on it has become something of a legend.

Halfway through lunch, Richard Woolsey walks into the cafeteria and blinks at the fifty or so people who have all decided to eat lunch at the same time, despite its being the middle of the night for some of them, depending on their shifts.

Everyone make space at their tables, but Woolsey takes a plate to go. He does stop before he leaves, taking time to note to Radek that this meatloaf must be a very popular lunch item and to tell Evan that Dr. Keller's going to send him a new antihistamine later in the evening.(K)

"He has no idea, does he?" Ronon,who Radek notes already ate lunch with Colonel Sheppard and his own team earlier but is nonetheless digging into his meatloaf with unfettered enthusiasm, asks.

"I don't think he's really a people person," Dr. Baxter says.

It's probably for the best.

 

16. The wraith are defeated.

Carson comes back. Sort of.

Atlantis travels to earth.

Atlantis goes back home.

The number of reports archived in the secret files drops every year.

Things happen. Things change. Things stay the same.

 

17. One morning before breakfast, Evan's eating breakfast with Daniel Spatz when Chuck comes running up.

"Sir," Chuck says. He leans on the table to take a breath. "Mr. Woolsey did his check-in with Earth this morning."

Evan grabs the table.

"There's been a change in the uniform code."

 

18. "Mr. Woolsey," Colonel Sheppard tells Evan a couple days after the announcement. "Is worried about personnel issues due to the recent changes. I told him you'd come up with something."

Evan smiles. "You know, it might be a good idea to start a support group."

 

19. They decide to hold a party.

Mr. Woolsey agrees that launching a club-a sort of gay straight alliance for Atlantean personnel, civilian and military alike, to come together and support each other if at all necessary-is a great idea, and he fully supports Radek's idea to launch it in style.

Two weeks later, a banner reading APUAHTACROFOTS hangs over a large buffet table in the cafeteria and at least a hundred Atlanteans mill around making small talk.

"I suppose we never did think of a name," Radek says in a mournful tone.

Carson pats his shoulder. "Eh, it'll do. I think it captures the spirit of the endeavor."

Ronon makes a thoughtful noise. David scribbles something in his notebook. Evan steals a glance at it and sees a doodle of himself diving head first into an enormous cactus.

"Nice turnout." Colonel Sheppard walks up with a grin on his face and Rodney at his side. "Good cake."

Rodney takes that moment to squawk inelegantly and take off across the room after Dr. Kusanagi.

"I think it's excellent," Radek says with a sly smile, “That everyone is now free to be open about themselves. And it will be interesting to have some fresh gossip.”

“Gossip?" Sheppard asks with an upraised eyebrow.

"Yeah," Ronon says. "Like, I heard Rodney-"

David stomps on his foot, and Ronon cuts off mid-sentence.

It's funny, though, because Colonel Sheppard's not paying Ronon any attention. He's turned back to study Rodney's back, a strange look on his face, almost as if-

-almost as if he's seeing Rodney in an entirely new way for the very first time.

"Huh,” he says, and walks off.

Ronon swallows. "Wait."

"Oh for fuck's sake," Carson mutters.

Radek says something very rude in Czech.

“Are you telling me," Evan asks. "That we kept this a secret from Colonel Sheppard for six years with absolutely no reason to do so?”

David tucks his notebook into his pocket. "Apparently."

“Huh,” Evan says.(L)

 

20. Two weeks later, Colonel Sheppard sent out a memo that the club formally known as APUAHTACROFOTS will now be referred to as the AGSA, for the sake of everybody's capslock keys.

Time passes. People leave Atlantis. People move to Atlantis. People die. People marry. People live.

They are bid farewell. They are welcomed. They are mourned. They are celebrated. They are loved.

Atlantis carries on.

 


(A) Evan’s not saying that Colonel Sheppard schedules himself to be offworld every month on days when the cafeteria serves Barinjian grits as its main course. Evan, like the rest of Atlantis, is sure it’s merely a coincidence.

 

(B) Evan’s dad is a kindergarten teacher. Evan knows all about common courtesy. There were sticker charts.

 

(C) SGA-1, naturally, escaped unscathed (save for Rodney, who was afflicted with bad sinus allergies). Turns out what Atlantis thought was the sounds of them getting kidnapped and tortured by wraith worshippers was actually atmospheric interference distorting normal radio chatter, and they’d managed to hole up in a cave well before the wraith worshippers reached them and were in fact about to execute their flawless plan to get out when Evan’s team came running in to rescue them.

Evan’s pretty sure that hating them for a couple of days doesn’t actually make him a dick.

 

(D) The history behind the choosing of the name ‘Atlantis Prime’ for the name of Atlantis’ home brew is a long and murky one, with several conflicting accounts. The basic facts, as far as everyone can agree, are as follows: in early June of 2005, Dr. Miko Kusanagi and Dr. Nastya Yarmolenko were playing Toro Ball (a modified version of squash native to Atlantis) when Dr. Yarmolenko stated she and her brother, Sasha, also an Atlantean, could brew a better beer by themselves than the entire physics department working together.

Dr. Kusanagi vociferously disagreed.

Accounts vary as to the next events, but records show that on June 15, the physics and engineering departments jointly posted a note to the online messaging system challenging ‘Botany, anthropology, and everyone else who wouldn’t know hard science if it smacked them in the face’ to a beer-off, with the winners decided by an impartial jury of soldiers.

The night of October 17 was the date settled on by both parties (in an agreement presided over by Lt. Colonel John Sheppard in exchange for a personal, one-month supply of beer from both sides). That evening, a group of soldiers led by Corporal Dusty Mehra were in the process of judging the contest when Lt. Sasha Yarmolenko and Dr. Stephanie Gerrard, recently returned from a mission, collapsed and began exhibiting signs of acute Colanthe poisoning. Corporal Mehra, who had been on the mission with them, showed no signs of poisoning, and it was quickly determined that the grain Team Useful (AKA Team Soft Science) had used as a base for their beer was a natural antidote to Colanthe, resulting in the successful recoveries of Dr. Gerrard and Lt. Yarmolenko and the seizure of all stores of the grain by Dr. Parrish, under the orders of Dr. Weir, for the use of aiding two villages on Alnea, a planet with large quantities of Colanthe.

Team Actually Relevant to Atlantis’ Safety (AKA Team Hard Science) were declared winners by default, though Team Useful were commended by Lt. Colonel Sheppard for creating a drink that both made you drunk and saved your life and received congratulatory fist-bumps. Although Dr. Lisa Kepler claimed the Lt. Colonel told her Team Useful would get to name the brew, this claim has never been verified by Lt. Colonel Sheppard, who later claimed he was “way too drunk to remember what the hell [he] said”.

Following the contest, members of Team Useful began referring to the beer as ‘Sunken City Brew’, while members of Team ARtAS put out a city-wide memo stating that Nebula Beer was now for sale with orders taken in Dr. Johnson’s lab.

Reports on the resultant inter-deparmental fracas vary, but in March 2012 Major Evan Lorne posted a picture to the Atlantis board with the caption ‘Hey, remember this? My first two months on Atlantis were crazy’ of what is allegedly an excerpt from Dr. David Parrish’s notebook showing several pages of scant notes titled ‘Bot Dep Meeting 11-18-05: Vendetta’ surrounded by extensive doodles. The doodles appear to show Dr. Rick Branton reprogramming Dr. Gerald Baxter’s alarm clock, Dr. Dimitris Archimedes attempting (and failing) to enlist Teyla’s help in sabotaging Dr. Rafaela Esposito’s spice rack, as well as numerous games of Toro featuring bloodied noses and bandaged wrists. One doodle, which was later cropped by Major Lorne with the editing caption of ‘whoops’, depicts a shirtless male figure with dark hair clad in a pair of shorts featuring the Air Force logo.

In early December, Dr. Weir sent an email to Lt. Colonel Sheppard, Dr. McKay, and Dr. Baxter whose content has since been redacted save for the subject line which read “End this. Now.” The following day, a person known only by the handle ‘Pi Eater’ hacked into the Atlantis messaging server and replaced all references to the contested beer with ‘Atlantis Prime’. As both sides logged over twenty memos complaining about the name each, Lt. Colonel Sheppard then sent out a memo that it was the perfect compromise and that would be the name used on all message boards and official memos for the beer.

It was later rumored that ‘Pi Eater’ was none other than Lt. Colonel Sheppard himself; some went further and alleged he was behind the entire thing, having instigated the original fight between Dr. Kusanagi and Dr. Yarmolenko while waiting for the Toro court with Specialist Ronon Dex in order to teach Dex about the particular Tau’ri customs surrounding beer brewing and Oktoberfest.

These allegations have never been confirmed.

 

(E) When it comes to figuring out what people are saying, Evan is usually not mistaken.

Shortly before the SGC first hears from Atlantis, Evan’s team is surveying a system of mines on P3X-414 when something very unfortunate happens with a truly impressive amount of dynamite and Evan ends up with ruptured eardrums.

Three days later, he’s finishing up his paperwork and facing three weeks of recovery time with 80% temporary hearing loss when Dr. Jackson pops his head into Evan’s office with a note that says ‘Siler said you needed something to do! Heard you can draw??’ with a smiley face. Evan distrusts the smiley face, but—well, you just don’t say no to Dr. Jackson unless you’re a member of SG-1 or an actual general, and Evan is neither, so Evan follows Jackson to his office.

Three hours after that, he’s tracing some hieroglyphs onto a piece of wax paper, for God knows what, when Vala Mal Doran sort of flops her way into the office, collapses into a chair, and mouths what looks like ‘I am so bored’ in Evan’s general direction.

Long story short, Evan teaches her about art movements of the 19th  century and Vala teaches him to lipread, which comes in handy a surprising amount as Atlantis’s 2IC. (Also, two weeks into Evan’s enforced desk work Jackson gets knocked unconscious by a stack of books falling off a tall shelf and ends up held hostage by an astronomer affected with a previously unencountered offworld illness while in the infirmary, because of course he is, Carter synthesizes an antidote for the illness overnight out of caffeine and sugar, because of course she does and Teal’c convinces the astronomer, whom it is later discovered attacked Jackson because of the unusually high amount of caffeine in Jackson’s system, to try a piece of the antidote voluntarily and saves the day. With coffee cake. Because of course he would.

Evan transfers four weeks later.)

 

(F) He’s seen what happens when McKay’s deprived of caffeine during a non-life-threatening situation. Four people cried, one fainted, and someone threw up into someone else’s bucket hat.

No one messes with McKay’s coffee on Evan’s watch.

 

(G) It is, of course, not an actual locker room, the Ancients having never had any apparent use for lockers. While personal lockers were installed in some of the armories, the changing rooms next to the gym use baskets on shelves and pipes running near the bottom of the wall which function as shoe racks. The use of the term ‘locker rooms’ was in fact a hotly contested issue among the linguists who came originally with the expedition, with Dr. Harlowe eventually winning the day on the strength of a twenty-three page thesis written during several lunch breaks.

Evan's takeaway on learning about the whole thing is that he seriously underestimated the level of nerdery inspired by Atlantis.

 

(H) Getting Atlantean software to accept noise alerts is a major pain. Evan knows this, because he's the one who dealt with all the complaints submitted to Colonel Sheppard while the software patches were being written.

Still, though, he's pretty sure that the line "Sorry, but the only sounds we could get to work were the Star Trek ones" is nothing but complete and utter bullshit.

 

(I) While official meetings of the group of Atlantean personnel united against harassment towards any colleagues (regardless of flags on their shoulders) are still held in the empty rooms next to Rodney's office, unofficial meetings of the ringleaders and occasional others tend to happen in Evan's room. Evan would like to think that this is because he's succeeded wildly in his 2IC duties, putting forth a stern yet welcoming demeanor that says 'Please, feel free to bring up your issues with me instead of the colonel', but is probably more due to the fact that his room's more or less at the midpoint between everyone else's.

He can't take the minds, even if it does occasionally cause a drop in paperwork productivity. It is a little awkward, though, the couple of times that Colonel Sheppard or Dr. Weir happened to knock on his door while everybody's there.

Carson explains it away as a sort of on and off club to learn about different cultures.

Colonel Sheppard, oddly, buys this more easily than Dr. Weir.

 

(J) It starts out as a simple toast in Kirsh and Kepler's honor. Unfortunately, it turns out one bottle of Atlantis prime does not split enough ways for everybody to have a fully satisfying drink, so Radek and Ronon volunteer to go get 'another bottle or two'.

In retrospect, sending the two of them is quite possibly the stupidest decision Evan makes that year. Neither Radek nor Ronon have a proper understanding of your average human's alcohol tolerance, and Keller reports no less than eleven senior Atlantean personnel who stop by her office the next morning for a hangover remedy.

 

(K) Keller does give Evan a new antihistamine later that evening, but instead of calling him to the infirmary for it she sends it via Colonel Sheppard, who tells her he's going to pass by Evan's quarters on his evening jog.

It's all well and good, except that Radek offered to bring by the USB drive with some movies when he gets off shift, so when Evan opens the door he's definitely not expecting to see his superior officer.

And, unlike every other time he's opened his door in a similar situation, he doesn't tell David, who's wearing one of Evan's spare T-shirts and sitting on Evan's very-visible-from-the-door bed, waiting to start a movie marathon with his boyfriend, to hide in the bathroom until Evan makes sure it's safe to be out.

Evan opens the door and actually feels the grin slide of his face.

“Sir,” he says.

"Lorne," Colonel Sheppard says. "Keller sent these. Instructions are on the packets. You should really think about turning your lights down a bit. They're so bright I can't see a thing."

Colonel Sheppard jogs off with a friendly nod and doesn't look back.

 

(L) Colonel Sheppard and Rodney tie the knot seven years later. They're far from the first couple on Atlantis to do so, however. On June 28, 2015, Atlantis receives word of a recent change in U.S. law regarding marriage. Two hours later, Daniel asks Lt. Morales to marry him in the middle of the cafeteria, to much applause when Lt. Morales kisses him in response. However, according to scuttlebut, the first person to pop the question on Atlantis after Obergefell v. Hodges is Lt. Colonel Evan Lorne, except he does it in private.(M)

 

(M) David says yes.