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Running on Borrowed Time

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They were out at a restaurant, officially celebrating Atlantis being cleared to return to Pegasus, when everything went to hell in a handcart.

The evening started pleasantly enough. It was a big crowd gathered to celebrate - General O’Neill, Colonel Carter, Colonel Mitchell, Dr. Jackson, Teal’c, Vala, Woolsey, Teyla, Kanaan, Ronon, Keller, Beckett, John, Rodney, Zelenka, and Evan. They’d picked a restaurant that was pretty quintessentially American so as not to get into a terrible debate over food types - and so Ronon, Teyla, and Kanaan could enjoy more American cuisine - and had burgers, fries, and milkshakes.

The joint had had an old-fashioned jukebox, the kind with bubbles, and Vala, Teyla, Kanaan, and Ronon had each picked a song. They danced in the little space in front of the jukebox, and they shared stories - carefully edited and elided in case of eavesdroppers - and they laughed and talked. John hadn’t socialized with SG-1 much, but he had a good relationship with Carter and Mitchell, and Rodney and Jackson had come to some kind of truce after the encounter with the Vanir, so there wasn’t any awkward tension.

After the meal, they headed out to the parking lot to go their separate ways, and Kanaan pressed his forehead to Jackson’s, and there was a sharp comment in a foreign language, loud laughter from somewhere nearby.

Jackson reeled off a reply in the same language. Evan stepped between Kanaan and the two strangers, young men with dark hair and dark eyes wearing jeans and t-shirts and sporting complicated tattoos on their arms.

Mitchell looked uncertain, but he stepped in front of Jackson when the two strangers straightened up, challenge in their eyes.

One of them called out, and his friend laughed in vicious amusement.

Jackson spat back at them, and Evan said, “Doc, don’t.”

John saw both strangers reach into their pockets, and for a moment he was sure this was going to end in disaster, that after everything all of them had done, fighting intergalactic wars, they were going to meet their untimely ends on Earth, in the parking lot of a diner, over a couple of punks who were probably being homophobic. It wasn’t like Jackson to lose his cool like this.

“I’m tired of it,” Jackson said. “Of all of it. I didn’t spend a decade flinging myself through the gate so I could feel unsafe on my own damn dirt.”

“Daniel,” O’Neill said warningly, hand on his shoulder.

The two strangers called out again, sneering, and Jackson opened his mouth to retort, but it was Evan who cut in, swift and sure.

Jackson blinked. “Since when do you speak Armenian?”

Rodney closed a hand around John’s and squeezed, hard.

The two strangers looked a little uncertain, but then one of them peered at Evan, and he said, “Bluebell?”

John’s heart crawled into his throat.

“Pardon?” Evan asked, sounding confused, but then one of the men said,

Hovhannes Davytyan?” Recognition lit in his eyes.

“I’m sorry,” Evan said in English, “I think you have me confused with someone else.”

But then the man looked at John and said, “Baby John Sheppard, yes? Father Tigran has been looking for you. He wants to thank you, for helping ease the transition from the Sheppard empire to the Flanigan empire. Though some of David’s men still have a price on you, I think.”

“Sheppard,” O’Neill said, “what’s going on?”

“Just a case of mistaken identity, like Major Lorne said.” John flashed the men his brightest, sharpest smile, but his heart was beating a tripping tattoo in his chest. “Let’s be on our way, shall we? Early days ahead of us all.” He started toward the car, but Jackson spoke in rapid Armenian, and all of the color drained out of Evan’s face.

“Doc,” he said tightly. “Sheppard’s right. We should go. Now.” He started for the car, towing Rodney with him.

The two strangers answered Jackson, practically tripping over each other in their excitement, and John knew the unholy glee in their eyes.

“You cannot escape us, Cousin!” the men called after Evan as he unlocked the car John had driven to the restaurant. “Your family has missed you.”

John climbed behind the wheel, and the others got settled into the car.

“I didn’t realize you were one of them too,” Ronon said to Evan.

John glanced in the rearview mirror and saw the two Armenian men talking on their cell phones. Evan drew his gun, checked that it was loaded. He told Teyla and Kanaan to ride with Mitchell and Vala and to take Rodney with them, protect him.

“John?” Teyla asked, but he shook his head.

“Go,” Ronon said.

Teyla cast Evan a look, and he nodded. Rodney yelped when Teyla slid out of the car and tugged Rodney with him.

“Wait,” Rodney protested. “I’m involved in this too. I know all about -”

John didn’t dare imagine what would happen to Rodney if Evan’s cousins figured out what Rodney meant to the both of them. “Doesn’t matter. Go with Teyla and Kanaan. You need to tell Carter and O’Neill and Woolsey if things go sideways.”

“How sideways?” Rodney demanded.

Evan leaned in and kissed him. “Go, Rodney. I love you.”

Teyla blinked. Kanaan blinked. Ronon blinked.

“I thought -” Ronon gestured between John and Evan.

John leaned in and kissed Rodney as well. “Take care of yourself. I love you too.”

Ronon huffed. “That’s just greedy.”

Rodney tried to protest, but Teyla and Kanaan hustled him over to Mitchell’s car.

“Now what?” Ronon asked, once John had pulled out of the parking lot and into traffic.

“Now we hope and pray they don’t stir up ancient history,” John said. “Evan and I are both out of the family business. Shouldn’t be an issue.”

“Except for the part where you sent your own brother to prison,” Ronon said.

Evan’s hands were trembling. “I should’ve kept my damn mouth shut, but I recognized their tattoos, and Jackson was just - egging them on. I’m sorry, John, I -”

“We always knew we were both running on borrowed time. Let’s go back to Atlantis.”

They made it halfway there before they realized several cars were tailing them.

“Let me try and shake them.” John gripped the steering while tighter.

They were almost to the dock where the puddle jumper was waiting when the first tail car opened fire.

“Do we shoot back?” Ronon asked, ducking as glass rained down on him.

Evan and John looked at each other.

Evan swallowed hard and said, “Call the cops. I’ll cover you back to the jumper.”

John searched his gaze.

“This is my fault,” Evan said. “I’ll handle it.”

“No, Bluebell. I’m here right beside you.”

“You don’t have to be Baby John anymore.”

Before they could argue further, spotlights flared to life all around them, and a man said over a megaphone,

“This is the FBI. Everybody come out with your hands up.”