When John first saw Evan on the Daedalus, he was startled, surprised, because - Evan. Evan, who’d been a fresh-faced, high-flying combat pilot in Afghanistan with him, a fellow captain and the one person who’d listen to John’s post-divorce woes without trying to offer advice or over-sharing his own divorce woes (he’d never been married). John had gone from occasionally sharing drinks and woes with Evan to sharing a bed with Evan.
Evan had been the perfect casual lover, fun and adventurous in bed, courteous about coffee or some kind of snack after, but never demanding of John’s time or something more.
Then John lost Mitch and Dex on a particularly harrowing rescue mission, and once again Evan was there to listen to John’s woes. To drink with him. To fuck him into dopamine-bliss oblivion. To hold him after and say nothing, just be.
And then one day, Evan was transferred. He’d been working on his masters through ACASC, looking for that promotion to field grade, some kind of very specific logistics-geophysics thing that John never did quite wrap his head around (he was getting his masters in topographical combinatorics), and he was almost done. One day John swung by to ask if he was interested in beer (and sex) and Evan was packing up.
John’s blood ran cold.
Had Evan been caught? Did someone suspect what was going on between them?
Evan glanced up from where he was folding his shirts perfectly one foot square. “New post. Beyond classified. I’m transferring back Stateside for training, and then - I don’t know. Not sure I’ll be able to call or write much, where I’m going.”
John, leaning in the doorway and trying for casual, said, “Packing your bags for outer space?”
Evan smiled. “Waiting for the right kind of pilot to come.”
It was their little joke, from that cheesy pop song that had been popular on the radio, that more than one opportunistic airman used as a pick-up line.
John said, “Well, congrats. Godspeed and good hunting.”
“Thanks.” Evan finished packing the last of his gear, closed up his duffel bag. “You be careful, you hear?”
“Aren’t I always?” John asked.
Truth was, he wasn’t. And he kind of fell apart after Evan was gone. Evan vanished off the face of the Earth, responses to emails were brief, postcards were hand-drawn without messages, postmarked Colorado Springs.
Then everything went down with Holland, and -
And John had been the de facto military commander of Atlantis after Sumner died, after John mercy-killed him, and John had been prepared to nuke himself to save Atlantis from the Wraith siege, and then he’d been beamed up.
Perfect timing, Daedalus.
And after a debrief with Caldwell, Evan.
Evan, who was now a major, same as John.
John saw him in one of the Daedalus’s numerous, confusing corridors and decks. “Evan. Major Lorne.”
Evan paused, and he smiled, his expression polite and just friendly enough but not quite readable. “John. Major Sheppard.”
“You - this is where you disappeared to. Stargate Command.”
Evan nodded. “Heard you got picked for Atlantis. I have the Gene too, but - couldn’t risk the one-way trip. Not with people waiting for me at home.”
Did that mean he had a family? “Oh yeah? How are Tally and the boys?”
Evan’s older sister had two boys. Evan adored them. He’d be a great father, one day. “They’re good. Great. Mikey just started pre-school. What about you?”
“You know me. It’s just - me. Everyone’s got a theory about the bitter one,” John said. He was pretty sure he was reading Evan right. Evan didn’t have anyone back home.
Evan looked him up and down. “So - sounds like you had a long day. Want to grab a beer? When it’s all done.”
John stared at him, incredulous. “You have beer?”
“Well, I am going to be the new logistics officer for Atlantis,” Evan said.
“Then yes, definitely, beer.”
So much sex.
It was like they were making up for lost time, the two of them touch-starved for seven years. Any spare moment they had, any private place they could find - or lock down, with the combined use of their strong Gene expression - and they were on each other, mouths on mouths and hands under clothes, petting and caressing, stroking and teasing and playing.
John had been pretty much celibate since Evan, not daring to risk hooking up with another man, what with the brass already watching him for the slightest misstep after Holland’s death. Either Evan had gotten better - at sucking cock, at fucking John - or it had just been too damn long.
And then once the post-siege fervour and relief died down, John, Elizabeth, Rodney, and other members of Senior Command shipped back to Earth for a lengthy debrief, with Evan, Teyla, and Radek in charge while they were gone, breaking in the new personnel and Evan learning the ways of Atlantis for himself.
When John got back to Atlantis, after he made sure the new military personnel were settled in, after he caught up on Evan’s reports, he went to find Evan.
Evan was in the military command office. He’d reorganized it so there were two desks in there, him and John facing each other, and added more office supplies and space for storage and shelving.
John thought the door closed, thought the windows opaque, thought the door locked.
He stood just inside the door, hands on his hips, surveying the office. “Love what you’ve done with the place.”
Evan glanced up. “Thank you, sir.”
John, who’d been about to cross the office and give Evan a proper hello, froze.
He’d been promoted back on Earth. It was the only thing that made sense. He was the one military officer with the firsthand experience to continue to act as the military commander of Atlantis, but since the SGC was sending over a batch of O-4’s to round out the command structure - where before there’d been a massive gap from O-6 (Sumner) to O-2 (Ford) - John got promoted below the zone so as not to make the chain of command awkward.
Evan was still a major.
John took a deep breath. “Evan -”
“Sir?” Evan sounded perfectly polite and respectful, like a good subordinate should.
“Is that it, then? You and I are just...done? Because I got promoted.”
Evan powered down his datapad, set it aside. “That depends on you, I suppose.”
“What does that mean?”
“Given that we had a sexual relationship prior to your promotion - pretty much immediately prior, if you don’t count the commute back to the Milky Way - it’d be pretty hard for someone to argue that you coerced me into a relationship,” Evan said. “But frat regs are what they are for a reason. You’re my commanding officer now. Can I trust you to make the right decision about utilizing resources and assets and personnel for the good of the mission?”
Could John order Evan to his death?
John said, “You can.”
Evan smiled. “All right then. Welcome back, John.” And he rose up, crossed the office, pulled John into a kiss.
John’s life couldn’t be going any better. Space vampires and nuclear-capable Amish aside, life was great. He’d been promoted below the zone. His team was like clockwork, even as new as Ronon was. And he was getting laid on the regular.
But something with Evan was...off. John couldn’t quite put his finger on it. When he went over it in his head, it was like that seven-year gap had never happened. They talked and drank and fucked. There was cuddling and coffee and delicious home-baked snacks after, either as a pretext before John left or fuel for a second round. Evan listened whenever John need to vent. Their relationship was as good as it had ever been.
Evan had his own gate team, was a thorough and helpful logistics officer, oversaw the commissioned officers with aplomb. Compared to John, he was an Air Force poster boy.
And yet John continued to have the sense that Evan was - closed off from him. Sure, Evan vented to him about his teammates, gave him regular updates about how his sister and nephews were doing, even let John have free access to his sketchbooks.
John found out what was wrong when he stopped by Evan’s quarters unexpectedly one night - after that whole disaster with Project Arcturus and Rodney destroying most of a solar system.
He initiated the door on Evan’s quarters, but it didn’t open.
John frowned, waved his hand over the door mechanism again. Still no response.
He reached out with his mind, prodded Atlantis. The door was locked.
Sometimes a guy needed some privacy. John could appreciate that. He turned and headed for his own quarters again. On the way, he tried to raise Evan on the radio. Since Evan was off-duty, he might not respond right away, and if there was an emergency there were other ways to reach him.
John got back to his own quarters, plopped down on his bed, and tried to read some War and Peace.
He managed to sit still and stare at the book’s pages for half an hour before he couldn’t take it anymore, and he headed back to Evan’s quarters. He got there just in time to see Radek stepping out of Evan’s quarters. He was nibbling on one of Evan’s famous anise pizzelle cookies.
“Thanks for sharing, Major,” Radek was saying as he left.
John ducked back into a nearby door alcove and waited till Radek’s footsteps faded, his heart pounding.
Evan was sleeping with other people.
John’s heart roared in his ears, and his stomach dropped into his shoes. He’d never told Evan not to - never asked him not to - had never been promised anything -
He surged out of the alcove and marched to Evan’s door, swiped a hand over the mechanism.
The door opened.
Evan was sitting with his feet kicked up on his desk, sketchbook open across his knees. His bed looked perfectly made, but John knew.
Evan looked up. He didn’t looked shocked or guilty or upset. He flicked his wrist, and his door closed, locked. “Got something against Radek?”
“Back in Afghanistan - you didn’t - not with anyone else.” As soon as John said it, he realized he wasn’t sure.
“No, but that was Afghanistan. This is another galaxy.” Evan closed his sketchbook and set it aside, sat up straighter. “I’m not your boyfriend. Sure, we have fun together, but - that’s not what this is. This can never be that.”
Evan stared at him. “Because you’re my commanding officer.”
“But you asked me if I could - and I said I could -”
“We don’t get to fall in love with each other. We can spend time together, have fun together, care about each other, but love can never be part of the equation.”
John was dizzy with confusion. All those nights in Afghanistan, all those nights here on Atlantis, and he’d thought Evan was his.
What John wanted to ask - what he’d never even dared to ask Nancy - was don’t you love me?
Because he did, he realized. He loved Evan.
Evan said, “If this kind of relationship is beyond you, we should stop now. Before things between us get worse. Professionally as well as personally.”
Worse? Like Evan loving him back?
Only John was John Sheppard, the man who’d made it to major despite his COs’ doubts he’d even make it to captain, who could corral Rodney McKay and had somehow hung onto to Atlantis by the skin of his teeth for a full year without any help from Earth.
So he nodded and said, “Of course. I understand. You’re right.” And he walked out of Evan’s quarters and didn’t look back.
He realized how much time he’d been spending with Evan now that he had that time to himself and didn’t know what to do with it. After some consideration, he started spending more time with his team, teaching Ronon about classic horror and action flicks, sharing popcorn with Teyla, playing chess with Rodney.
Evan was still as friendly and polite as ever, as efficient and hardworking as ever. If anyone noticed the increased distance between him and John, no one said.
John couldn’t help but watch Radek out of the corner of his eye when he happened to be in the same room as Evan, couldn’t help but look at other attractive men in the ranks and among the science personnel and wonder: who else?
And then Doctor Lindsey came back from a mission early. Major Lorne’s team was under fire, she said. Major Lorne told her to fall back to the gate and request backup.
When John found Evan’s dog tags on a burnt corpse, his world turned upside down. But he had a job to do and a mission to do and it was just a little bit easier to do, to focus on the problem of Ladon Radim and the Genii and trust the question of AR-3 to Ronon and Teyla, if he hated Evan a little bit. Hated Evan for not being honest with him, for not loving him, for being so fucking cold-hearted to him. He hated himself, too, for not being brave enough to tell Evan what he really wanted, to find out the truth early on and step back before he got really hurt.
Of course the Genii were double-crossing them; of course Cowan was behind everything. If John hadn’t been angry before, he was furious now. So when Ladon went to shove him into a cell, John was this close to lashing out and taking the man down. He’d done it before; he could do it again.
Only Ladon opened the cell - and there was Evan. And the rest of AR-3. They were wearing strange, dusty clothes, and they looked tired, bored, frustrated.
“Come to rescue us, sir?” Evan asked.
“Up till a second ago I thought you were dead, so give me a minute to think of a plan.”
“Anything my boys can do to help, sir, you let us know.” Evan still sounded perfectly polite, the right combination of familiar and respectful people expected from a couple of long-time acquaintances.
“Will do,” John said. What he wanted to do was hold Evan tight and never let him go.
But Evan wasn’t his, never had been.
At the end of the day, between John fast-talking and Elizabeth fast-talking and Ronon and Teyla kicking ass, everyone made it home to Atlantis, Evan included.
After the debrief, John headed for Evan’s quarters. When he swiped a hand over the door mechanism, the light flared red. Door locked. John tried Evan on the radio. No response. He didn’t care. He reached out to Atlantis, spoke to her in a way he rarely did, told her to open Evan’s door.
John took a breath, steeled himself for whatever he would see - Evan with someone else in his bed, in his body.
Or Evan sitting on the edge of his bed, face buried in his hands.
That brought John up short. “Evan?”
Evan lifted his head sharply. He hadn’t even heard John come in?
“John. Sir. What are you doing here? I thought I locked my door.” His eyes were too bright, his face pale. He scrubbed the back of his hand across his eyes quickly, then stood up.
John remained just inside Evan’s door, which slid shut behind him. “Just came to see if you were all right.”
“I’m fine, sir. Thank you, sir. Not my first rodeo with the kidnapping. As I’m sure you well know, it’s kind of an SGC tradition.” Evan tried for a smile and a laugh, failed.
“Where are the others?” John asked.
Evan blinked. “Others?”
“Radek or -” John didn’t know how many others there were, hoped it was just Radek.
Evan shrugged. “They’re not here. Obviously. Why would they be here? I’m not in love with any of them.”
“I’m here,” John said.
“That you are. Can I do something for you?”
“Pretty sure that’s my line.”
They stood looking at each other for a long moment. Too long. John turned to go.
Evan said, “Thanks for checking on me.”
“No problem.” John went to swipe the door open.
Evan said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to - I’ve been colorblind.”
John turned to look at him.
Evan continued, “This - us - is a journey I just don’t have a map for.”
John stared at him, confused.
Evan shook his head. “Sorry. Never mind. Thanks again, sir. Good night.” He inclined his head politely, like he did in lieu of a salute, and waited for John to go.
And John remembered. Their song. Their stupid, stupid song. He took a deep breath and said, “I’ve got a ticket for a world where we belong.”
The tension in Evan shattered. He flung himself into John’s arms and held him tightly, face buried against John’s neck.
John hung onto him, unsure of what to say or do. Usually their roles were reversed, John upset and Evan being there for him. Just - being.
John held onto him and waited.
“I’m sorry,” Evan whispered. “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry. I couldn’t let myself - but I wanted -”
“Yeah,” John said. “I wanted, too. So, are we doing this? Gonna take a dive? Push the shift to overdrive?”
Evan nodded. “Yeah.”
John said, “Can I keep sleeping in your bed?”
Evan nodded again.
John bent his head and whispered, “I would fly you to the moon and back.”
Evan kissed him.
After that, there were no words. They tumbled onto the bed together, slipped under the sheets together, and for the first time fell asleep together.
When John opened his eyes the next morning, Evan was still there.