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You can’t admit, even to yourself, exactly why you step out on the balcony of your quarters every morning at precisely 6:00 a.m. Atlantis Time to drink your coffee. You tell yourself this quiet moment is necessary to your mental health—fifteen minutes with only the rich and astringent aroma of dark roast and the ocean breeze on your face for company. And then far below you, Colonel Sheppard and Ronon round the corner on their morning run. Sheppard’s black shirt is even darker under his arms and down the middle of his chest. His breath sounds loud and ragged to you even at this distance. He is grinning.

You finish your coffee as they disappear around the bend, and then you sign off on some off-world mission reports, and you read the weekly reviews from each division, and by the time you are ensconced in your office of glass, you have made yourself forget that you are a man who feels and quite deeply. You have buried the hope that you might play any other role than the leader of this expedition. Sheppard’s grin—that you keep. You learned early to make the most of what little you have.