Atlantis had never spoken to Lorne much. She would respond to his requests, promptly and politely, but never with the same swiftness, almost yearning, that Sheppard could command from her. The only times Lorne had caught even a glimpse of that eagerness was when John was out of reach - when he’d been taken by the Genii; the three days that for Sheppard had been months, trapped with those hoping to ascend. Then, Atlantis would behave for Lorne. And only for Lorne.
It was if she mourned the loss of Sheppard, refused to obey like a recalcitrant dog waiting for her master to return. But Lorne, she would follow. She would speak to him then, usually no more than faint impressions. Approval hummed through her corridors and halls when her Sheppard was returned to her, and once more Lorne would have to adjust to coaxing what he needed out of her systems.
So when the city yearned for Lorne’s command once more, he knew that things were bad. And considering that they were flying through space, with only Rodney and Zelenka’s brains, and Sheppard’s willpower, keeping them together…it was really bad. He hadn’t seen John in three days; too busy with damage control, moving the most needed equipment to the central spire in case they lost one of the arms of the city. Three days alone, with no warmth in his bed on the rare occasions he’d managed to snatch a fitful sleep. And now this.
He hurried through the hallways from the West Pier, hand rising to his headset almost before he’d realised.
“Control Room, this is Lorne.” He stepped into a transporter, not even having to think about where to go, the City pre-empting him.
“Is there a problem in the Chair Room?” he asked hesitantly, hoping to hear a ‘no, why?’. To hear Shep’s voice over the comms, good-naturedly berating him for fussing. But there was (a long, to Lorne’s worried mind) silence.
“…Not a problem, as such,” came McKay’s dry tones, laced with worry that had Lorne speeding his step, pushing past scientists and Marines as he made his way towards the Chair Room.
“As such? Care to vague that up for me, McKay?” he snapped, regretting his words as soon as he’d spoken. Sheppard spoke to McKay like that. He didn’t.
“It’s just a simple malfunction, nothing to worry about…” McKay’s voice, a little more fraught and snappish now, came over the comms once more. Sighing, Lorne drew to a halt outside the Chair Room, looking at the closed doors.
“Colonel Sheppard is refusing to leave the room. And we can’t override the doors.” Rodney’s voice was weary, and fraught, a whole new level of stressed past his normal clipped tones. Sighing again, Lorne lent his forehead against the door, placing his palm over the door mechanism.
Please… He asked silently, hoping the City knew enough to understand him. I know you like him better. I know he’s special. But you have to let me help him.
There was the comforting brush of a non-consciousness against his, almost a sigh of approval as the door opened with barely a whisper. He stepped through, coming abruptly to a halt as the door slid shut again behind him.
He’d seen John in the chair before. But that had been Before. It was always capitalised, in his mind and in the journal he’d never admit to keeping. Before Sheppard. Before he had seen what Sheppard looked like when he was doing his damndest not to come. Waiting for Evan to give him permission, face crumpling, that look of utter concentration as he bit his lip, willing himself not to come, not to give in.
That wasn’t the face he had now. No, this was when he was trying to ignore Evan, when Evan was whispering in his ear, so soft and so sweet, filthy words that had him rock hard, the smallest of furrows between his brows as he frowned, impatient roll of his body. To see that face, even under these circumstances, had Evan’s step faltering, breath catching in his chest as his pulse began to race.
“…John?” He’d switched off his radio, voice soft as he carefully walked towards the chair. Sheppard seemed not to hear him, lying back in the Chair, his hands smoothing over the controls the way they would over Evan’s long limbs, down the muscles of his back. Evan was close enough now to see that Sheppard’s BDUs were tented a little, despite the rings of exhaustion around his eyes, the stubble that never seemed to entirely leave his cheeks.
Evan could feel the City all around him, watching, waiting to see if he would try to take her Sheppard away. He wasn’t stupid enough to try. He stepped up onto the platform, hand shaking just a little as he reached out, touched John’s hand. Hazel eyes slowly drifted open, pleasure and exhaustion blurring his usually sharp gaze.
“Evan?” Sheppard looked confused. “I thought Zelenka…” Lorne knew for a fact that Zelenka hadn’t been near the Chair room in two days. He sighed, folding his arms.
“You need to take a break, sir. Eat. Sleep. Whatever, just…stop.” He pretended not to see Sheppard wince at the use of ‘sir’, knowing he hated it when Evan called him that, when they’re alone. And they were alone now, just them…and Atlantis.
“I’ll take a break when we get there,” John muttered, his jaw clenched as he sat back in the chair, eyes closing once more as he sank down into that empty space in his mind, the place Atlantis lived.
“Damnit, John!” Evan snapped, pushing the foot of the chair with his toe so that it sat upright once more, Sheppard glaring at him. “You’ve been in here since we left Lantea.” John shrugged, not caring.
“That was five days ago. Have you even slept once?” At least John had the decency to look ashamed. Sighing, Evan looked at him.
“Please, John?” he asked softly, brushing his fingers against John’s hand, the inside of his wrist, trying to tempt him away from the chair. But John just shook his head, lying back down resolutely. Evan squared his jaw, walking away. Let John think he had won.
He walked out of the Chair Room, heading for a transporter that immediately dropped him off in the mess hall. Not where he had been headed, but it seemed that Atlantis had a plan.
A plan, and the colonel’s favourite lunch. Turkey sub on rye, potato chips, and not-pear for dessert. He filled a tray with double portions of everything, adding a tuna sandwich and an apple for himself. Once again, the transporter behaved perfectly, dropping him back off at the Chair room.
“Fine,” he said, as he stepped through the door, “if you won’t come to food, it’ll come to you.” He laid the tray down on the raised dais around the Chair, looking at a thoroughly unresponsive Sheppard. After a long moment, John opened an eye and looked at him.
“No. I’ll eat when we’re safe,” he bit out, going back to ignoring Evan. Eyes closed, John breathed out heavily, his whole body sinking into the chair. He frowned after a moment, pushing harder at the shape in his mind, growing frustrated when she refused to respond. Evan watched, worried and fidgety, brows knotted as he stood over his CO.
After a long pause, Shep sat up.
“She won’t…she’s not responding to me.” He was close to pouting, looking confused and more than a little forlorn.
Sitting down at John’s feet, Evan munched on his sandwich.
“Maybe she’s trying to take care of you,” he smiled faintly, trying to keep his voice soft, trying to hide his worry. John must have picked something up, his face crumpling a little as he slid down to sit beside Evan, ducking his head.
“She’s not the only one,” he murmured, looking at the food Lorne had brought. Reluctantly, he began to eat, only realising how famished he was after taking the first bite, the smell and taste making him groan throatily with how damn good it was.
Looking away, Evan’s cheeks flushed a bit, that groan not helping him focus on anything other than John. Even exhausted and half-starved, John was gorgeous, and suddenly Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, was seeming like a distant warning. He chewed slowly on his sandwich, looking at the floor, not even noticing when John finished both turkey subs and the other half of Evan’s tuna.
It was only when John stood, stretching his back, that Evan was jerked out of his reverie. He dropped the remains of his sandwich onto the tray, frowning when Sheppard stepped back up towards the chair.
“What are you doing?” He stepped in between John and the chair, one hand pressing against the centre of his chest, stopping him.
“I’m going to fly the city,” John explained in a slow voice, as if to an especially difficult child.
“No you’re not.” Evan shook his head, pushing John away from the chair. The lights died as they stepped away, the city purring approval in his ear, in his mind.
“You’re going back to your quarters, and you’re going to sleep.” John opened his mouth to argue, glaring at Evan.
“I’ll have you relieved of command if you stay awake one more day, sir.” It was low, and it was cruel, and Lorne knew it. Didn’t stop him from trying anyway.
“I’m not leaving this room, Major.” Sheppard bit out, eyes cold, his fists clenched as if he’d like very much to punch Lorne in the face. There was a low hum from the city and both men turned to see a wide panel slide up the wall, a pallet mattress sliding out of the wall.
Evan laughed, softly, feeling more than hearing the quiet voice in his head, the silent plea to look after her Sheppard.
“Fine. But you’ll sleep.” He walked John back towards the bed, pushing him down on it. Looking like he was going to protest, Sheppard shut up as Lorne glared at him, tugging off his boots, helping him out of his tac vest. Pushing at John until he lay down, Evan made to move away, the curl of slender fingers around his wrist stopping him from moving.
He looked at his wrist, and then at John, swallowing thickly at the pleading look in John’s eyes. He knew that look. Knew exactly what it meant. It was the same look he’d gotten when they’d got back from Kolya’s kidnapping, when John thought he’d lost Lorne. The same look he’d given John after he nearly turned into a Wraith.
“…I can’t,” he whispered, so tempted to just give in. And the crushed look that Sheppard quickly hid did nothing to help. Cursing his own weak will, and his CO’s puppy eyes, Evan lay down carefully on the bed, wriggling out of his own vest but leaving the boots on, for now.
As soon as he lay down, Sheppard reached across, holding his jaw with one hand as he gently brought their foreheads together, as he and Teyla did when they sparred.
“Thank you.” He murmured, tilting his head to kiss Evan softly. He was trembling a little, eyes flicking to the chair, needing to be back there, back sitting in his place. Distracting him, Evan kissed and touched and pressed until at last John fell into an exhausted slumber, his shirt twisted up around his ribs, lying on his front with one hand curled against Evan’s side.
Evan lay and watched him, watching as those deep shadows faded, just a little. Just enough to give him hope that John wasn’t broken. Not quite. He brushed a finger down John’s neck, just catching his hairline, disturbing a few unruly strands. Eventually, he heard McKay’s voice in his ear, asking him for a report on his progress. Straightening his clothes, Evan sat up, carefully activating his comm.
“Colonel Sheppard’s asleep, McKay. I suggest we keep it that way for at least 5 hours.” He kept his voice quiet, trying not too move too much.
“But...” McKay sounded as tired as Sheppard, though Evan knew he wouldn’t be sleeping for hours yet. With Dr Weir in the infirmary, and Sheppard dead to the world, McKay was in charge. “We need….” He began, and Evan knew exactly what was coming. He slid smoothly off the low bed – a crash couch for whoever wasn’t in the chair, he presumed – and walked over to the dais.
“I’ll do it. The best I can, ‘til he wakes up.” He sat down in the chair, fidgeting a little. He had never been as comfortable as Sheppard, never as immediately at home. But slowly, he relaxed, letting Atlantis fill him, surround him. He tuned out the soft chant of notSheppardnotSheppardnotSheppard, trying his best to reassure the city that he would look after her. Here, in this chair, he heard her voice clearer than anywhere else.
You are Sheppard’s. The soft, lyrical voice in his head spoke softly. You belong to our Sheppard? Gently questioning, probing his mind. Clearly Atlantis had not been keeping a close eye on him, and had not intruded on Sheppard enough to know.
Yes, he answered in kind. I am. I am yours, if you’ll let me? Please, I want to help. There was a long pause, one in which he barely dared draw breath.
Very well, the City acknowledged him, power flaring up just a little, enough that he could faintly hear McKay’s yelp of glee through his comms. Continue, bondmate of ours.
Wait, what? He couldn’t help but panic, just a little, shifting uneasily in the chair. Bondmate? Uh…
We have seen our Sheppard’s mind. You are his, and he is yours. Our creator told us this is true, this is what it means to be bonded. Just as our Sheppard is to us.
Evan swallowed hard, taking a shaky breath. Yes, I’m his. It would do as enough of an answer, for now. How could he explain to a city about prejudice, about fraternization rules and the need for secrecy? How could he explain the fear of backlash keeping them apart?
We shall change our systems accordingly, the infuriatingly calm voice continued, Evan nodding, trying to relax. What do you wish of us?
Just…let me… He began to explore her simpler systems, flying through the city, through the hallways, feeling Atlantis’ joy at having people walk in her halls and her chambers once more. That always got to him, the sheer glee that the City had felt, lighting up for them with every step they took, further into her depths. He shifted in the chair, his hands stroking and caressing the armrests, a shiver running through his body.
It was hours and yet seconds before he stirred from the chair, opening his eyes to see Sheppard watching him sleepily. He began to sit up, move away from the chair, stilling as John shook his head.
“Stay there,” John murmured, voice still husky with the last remnants of sleep. He sat up smoothly, hair tousled on one side, utterly flat on the other, and Evan couldn’t help but smirk a little at the rather child-like appearance of his CO. He relaxed back in the chair, eyes still open, though the chair lit up underneath him, hum and purr of the city in his mind and his ears.
John walked over to the dias, stepping up onto it, ignoring the brighter pulse of light, the chatter of the city that continued, look at this, touch this, let me show you, fix this. Evan’s breath caught in his throat, eyes wide as John stopped at his feet, sleepy and rumpled and looking at Evan like he was water in the midst of an endless desert.
“Sir,” Evan began, the words dying as John slid into his lap, pressing Evan’s hands down onto the pads embedded in the arms of the chair. John shushed him quietly, his knees bracketing Evan’s hips, leaning close to kiss Evan, gentle and yet fierce at the same time, full of an aching need that had Evan kissing back almost before he was aware of doing so.
“John, we…” he tried to speak, to pull away, but the combined effort of his lover and the city were too much. Atlantis was purring, lighting up hallways long silent and dead, rerouting pathways of circuits through the city as she drank in the hunger from her Sheppard, the lust coiling through him and his bondmate, through the chair which linked them to her.
Evan moaned as John moved in his lap, their hands linked, palms pressed against the chair. The kiss became fiercer, more desperate, both of them shuddering as their arousal fed the city, which in turn sent more power through the chair, through their bodies until their minds were dizzy with lust.
Sheppard bit at Evan’s lower lip, tugging gently, drinking in the low throaty moan he received in response. Uncaring of surveillance, trusting the city to keep them undetected, he ground down hard in Lorne’s lap, broken sob falling from his lips.
Need this, he thought, not sure exactly who he was talking to. Need you, please… He couldn’t break the kiss long enough to say it out loud, but somehow, Evan heard him. He could feel him in the edges of his mind, the city replaced by a soft voice, hard hands.
John pulled one of his hands away from the chair, growling as Evan tried to do the same. He fumbled with Evan’s pants, lips never breaking the kiss as he undid the buckle and zipper, freeing Lorne’s cock. Groaning, Evan arched up a little, cock jumping in John’s hand, blue eyes gone hazy as the city and John tag-teamed him into a swirling haze of lust and need and power. His fingers dug into the soft, giving pads, feeling a responding throb of power from the city’s censors.
By now, McKay was squawking in Lorne’s ear, completely taken aback by the power fluctuations, sudden reserves of immense energy that hadn’t existed moments before. His calls went unanswered, Evan’s mouth too busy mapping the planes of John’s stubble-rough jawline to respond.
Shoving at his pants, John wriggled out of the restricting cloth, boxers following, both men moaning as their cocks brushed, precome mingling as John wrapped his free hand around both, pumping slowly. Atlantis whispered and purred and moaned appreciation, power surging through her halls, nearly overloading the earth-made systems McKay had patched in to the city’s own networks.
Trembling so hard he felt like he might fly apart, John knelt up, dragging lust-heavy eyelids open to look down at Evan. He slid two fingers into Evan’s mouth, gasping quietly, hips hitching against thin air as Evan sucked, all hollowed cheeks and lowered lashes, soft hums of pleasure in the back of his throat.
Drawing back with more than a little reluctance, John slid spit-slick fingers into his body, back arching, bursts of colour behind his eyes as yet another long-dormant system came online with another burst of ecstasy from Atlantis.
“C’mon,” Evan muttered, kissing John’s chest through his t-shirt, knuckles white as he gripped the chair, hips moving restlessly. “Please,” he moaned, nearly incoherent already, and they had barely touched. The city wasn’t talking, nothing as clear as that, but her hunger was overwhelming, lights throbbing in time with the pulse in his aching body as he watched John prepare himself.
That was all the incentive John needed, all the encouragement. He shifted, sinking down with a low hiss, one hand still entwined with Evan’s on the arm of the chair, the other braced beside Lorne’s head. The lights faltered as John’s breath stuttered roughly, Evan clutching at the chair, feeling a nail split at the end, bend back as he tensed every muscle in his goddamn body, trying to stop himself from just pushing up.
“Fuck,” John cursed softly, head falling forward as he slowly sunk down, little shifts of his hips bringing Evan deeper inside him, inch by inch. He stilled when he was seated in Evan’s lap, Evan’s hips rising up that last bit until he was buried balls-deep inside John.
“Any time you feel like moving, sir…” Evan ground out through clenched teeth, eyes on John’s face, chest heaving as heat prickled at his palms, the city eager and impatient, trying to coax more out of her favoured children.
John laughed breathlessly, resting both hands over Evan’s, slick with sweat as his palms touched the pads, slowly rising up until Lorne’s cock nearly slipped free.
“That better, Major?” He asked with a smirk, sinking down once more, oh-so-slowly. Evan growled and twitched, hips jerking up, bringing a breathless, whining moan to John’s lips. They both groaned in tandem as feedback from the city surged through them, bright and white and pleasure and heat until they were both blind with it.
“Fuck…” laughing softly, John dipped his head, catching Evan’s lips with his as they settled into a rhythm, slow at first, each thrust sending lightning bolts of pleasure down John’s spine, his hands slipping on the arms of the chair as he tried to get a better grip, tried to move faster, harder. Evan was groaning with every thrust, trying to meet John’s movements as best he could, pinned by his body and loving every damn minute of it.
“Major, what the hell is going on down there?!!!” Evan tore his earpiece out, throwing it across the room as John slammed down in his lap, Evan practically howling with pleasure. There was no way he was going to last, mind and body utterly lost, haze of needandwantandhaveandtake clouding his mind. John wasn’t far behind, his thighs shaking as he fucked himself on Evan’s cock, his back a taut curve as he fought to sink down impossibly deeper.
When it happened, Evan’s climax was almost a surprise. He groaned, body jerking, vision whiting out as he spilled deep inside John, his lover following him almost immediately. It took him a moment to realise that it hadn’t just been his eyesight; the lights in the entire damn city had flashed brilliantly bright for a moment, slowly fading to normality.
As Evan slumped in the command chair, John’s body pressed against his, he could still feel the city in his mind, warm contentment spreading through corridors and rooms, low throb that was so close to a purr as she pushed herself, new systems coming online with each slow exhale as Evan fought to breathe.
He craned his neck to look down at John, who was close to passed out, cheek against Evan’s shoulders.
“ ‘Gotta do that again,” the colonel mumbled, dragging heavy eyelids open, looking down at the mess across his tshirt with a grimace. He pulled his earpiece out of his shirt pocket, fitting it on carefully.
“Control Room, this is Sheppard.” He spoke quickly, but there was no disguising the husky note to his voice. He was still sitting in Evan’s lap, BDUs tangled around his thigh holster, feeling Lorne’s cock slowly slip out of him. He bit down on a groan as he tried to stand, and mostly succeeded.
“Colonel, I don’t know what you did, but…” McKay trailed off, his voice radiating disbelief. “We might actually make it out of this mess without dying horribly.” And that was as close to a ringing endorsement as they were likely to get.
“Good. Do you need me for anything else?” Sheppard smirked at Evan, who was still suffering from an inability to move anything more than his eyebrow, slumped in the chair with his pants around his knees.
“Well, no, but,”
“I’ll be back up there in an hour, then. Sheppard out.” Tugging up his BDUs, John fastened them, smirking at Lorne.
“Problem, Major?” He murmured, leaning forward to tug Evan’s pants up a little, Evan trying to lift his hips to help and failing miserably.
“I’ll be fine once I find my legs, sir,” he murmured wryly, slowly peeling his hands from the control pads on the chair, catching hold of John for a long, slow kiss that left him breathless once more.
“An hour?” He questioned, managing to stand slowly, glancing down at the mess on Sheppard’s tshirt. Following his gaze, John buttoned up his shirt, running a hand through his hair.
“Enough time for a shower,” he grinned, cocking his head at Evan and backing towards the doors. “Don’t you think?”