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On the second look

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The first time was some time after his imprisonment and the coup. Ladon came to Atlantis to apologize for the treatment of Lorne and his men. Lorne doubted that he really regretted it but it was a gesture of an ally and he was willing to see it as such.

It was still awkward.

'I hope you accept my apology.' Ladon's gesture's were a bit different to what Lorne was used to. It made him feel even more awkward: 'And although I'm sure you don't see it now, I hope than in the future you will see that I had to act like I did.'

'There was no harm done.' Lorne answered politely.

'I hope you won't think badly of my people because of this…unfortunate incident.'

'Not at all.'

Ladon moved his hand in a way that looked vaguely like acceptance.
'I hope our ways will cross again, Major Lorne. I'm sure you will like Genia.'



The second time was when Kolya kidnapped Colonel Sheppard. Lorne felt that Ladon was honest with them when he said that he didn't know if he would act the same if their positions were reversed.

Lorne was pretty sure that he wasn't supposed to feel sympathy with the leader of a nation they had only a shaky alliance with, but he did.

He wanted to put a hand on Ladon's shoulder, which is absolutely unprofessional. They did not know each other that well. Lorne has been on Genia only a couple of times – Ladon's request as a way to apologize – and while Ladon did try to spend time with him, the man had a state to manage and couldn't just take a vacation every time Dr. Weir decided to send Lorne over.



The third time is more than half a year later, after Sheppard shot Kolya. Lorne was still the designated contact to the Genii by Ladon's request. When Lorne told him the news, the change in Ladon was immediate and visible, as if a great weight had been lifted from him.

'It's a good message.' Ladon told Lorne: 'But Kolya was a great warrior. It's regrettable that it has come to this.'

He nodded to his assistant and suddenly they were left alone. Ladon rolled his shoulders.

'I need a drink. You?'

Lorne was about to decline, when Ladon said: 'Please.'

It was a rather efficient word to stop Lorne's protest. The drink Ladon handed him smelled minty and felt smooth in his throat. He was half tempted to ask about the plant his drink was derived from, Parrish loved information like this, and did. Ladon looked like he desperately needed some light small talk.

He did. The tension bled from him like insults from McKay's lips and it occurred to Lorne after a while that they had never done this before. Just sit down somewhere with a drink and talk. They had met several times over the last year but there had always been only shirt, polite conversation.

They had more in common than one would have thought at the first look: non-military family background, a younger sister they loved very much and an interest in drawing and painting. It kept them up half the night before either of them noticed how late it was.

Ladon brought him back to the guest room, which was labeled with 'Lorne' since he slept there every time he was on Genia (it was late and the hallway was deserted except for them).

Lorne turned to Ladon and confessed (mostly because he was slightly drunk on the drink and something else, a feeling that he was doing something forbidden, which he wasn't):

'When you told me that I would like it here, I didn't believe you.'

 Ladon made a gesture with his hand as if he wanted to start apologizing but Lorne didn't let him.

'I was wrong.'

The breath Ladon exhaled sounded like relief and Lorne felt a bit giddy that Ladon should care so much about his opinion. The Ladon laid a hand on Lorne's arm (and it was only then that Lorne noticed that they were standing close, too close) and said:

'I'm glad you think so.'

Before he kissed Lorne.

Ladon pressed his lips against Lorne's long enough for Lorne to understand that he waited for a reaction. – to be pushed away or to be kissed back. It was less of a conscious decision and more of a natural conclusion to the things that happened between them since the coup and during this evening, when Lorne kisses him back.

It was not one kiss, more like two dozen kisses, but it was impossible to say where one kiss began and the other ended. They were just there, pressed against each other and the door with their arms around each other, kissing as if the world would end if they stopped.

They didn't have sex that night. They parted with kisses and lingering touches as if they had to part but didn't want to. They were probably as ridiculously and recklessly in love as they could be but there were too many reasons for both of them to never let this happen again. Never.



The fourth time wasn't actually one time but more like a number of times, because it did continue. Everywhere. Every time Lorne came to Genia. At every opportunity: in Lorne's room, in Ladon's office, in the shadowy hallways of the underground facilities, out in the woods in broad daylight where they could be found by Wraith or any of the Genii, one time on Atlantis when Dr, Weir decided to invite Ladon.

Things happened: Replicator and Wraith attacks, Dr. Weir's death, elections, alien induced nightmares, new alliances, illnesses, Dahlia married, Reed broke his arm, the Athosians went missing, Colonel Carter met with Ladon, Teyla's pregnancy, Ladon's brother Drevin threw a big party for his daughter's acceptance into the Genii military and Ladon asked Carter to send Lorne as a representative and Lorne got what felt like a one week honeymoon, Michael turned up again and took Teyla hostage, they found a Dr. Beckett clone and lost Sheppard.



The fifth time was also the last time. Sheppard was missing for five days (or not missing according to McKay but the knowledge that Sheppard was alive 48.000 years from now didn't calm Lorne's nerves), Ronon threatened alternatively the scientists or the soldiers to work harder and find Sheppard and Teyla and Colonel Carter also has to deal with the IOA on top of it all, when the message came in.

Manaria was one of the planets that succumbed to the Hoffan disease and it was an ally of the Genii.

'Bad luck.' Ladon said. He knew that Lorne knew that there were enough capable people left, who could take over after him and continue the alliance with Atlantis. Both, vice president Kalice Tarish and Ladon's chief of staff Tas Achontas are trusted and reliable. Nothing to worry about. Still, it didn't mean that Lorne was ready for this to end like this.

Ladon wouldn't let anyone come too near, the risk was too high to get infected, too. So, Lorne stood with Kalice and Tas and Drevin and Dahlia in a respectable distance to Ladon's bed. When all he wanted to do was to take Ladon's hand.

He almost envied Sheppard. 48.000 years in the future didn't sound so bad if it meant that he wouldn't have to see the death of the man he loved.
After they had said their goodbyes he was left alone with Ladon.

'I'm really glad you were wrong.' Ladon gasped, but he smiled and it made Lorne smile, too.

'Me, too.'