John paused at the open curtain stunned to see Laura hovering over Lorne fussing with his covers and when she leaned over and kissed his forehead – he pretty much had a nuclear meltdown on the inside. “Lt. Cadman.”
Laura jerked upward and flushed. “Sir. I was just leaving.” She hurried past him with a rushed good bye in Evan’s direction.
John jerked the curtain shut and rounded on Evan. “Major Lorne, care to explain that?”
Evan frowned. “Permission to speak frankly, sir?”
“As long as it’s quick and on point,” John snapped, his tone of voice an exercise in controlled fury.
“What the fuck have I ever done or said to you that would make you think I would do something like that to you?” Lorne winced as he struggled with the controls of the bed. “Christ. You’re the second man in two fucking days that has questioned me about… shit. Come fix the bed before I pass out.”
John frowned but did as ordered, raising Evan up until he could sit upright in the bed and then adjusting the back of the bed. “There. Who was the other man?”
“Ronon asked me if I was in love with Jennifer,” Evan snapped.
“You took a sword for her. It’s not a invalid question.” John sat down in the chair. “And let’s face it – all the women on the base treat you like you’re the next best thing to chocolate ice cream.”
“I know you’ve got feelings for Laura. Any man that watched you dance with her at Ronon’s wedding celebration knows that. I mean, I’ve known you for a long time and never known you to be that fucking transparent.”
John rubbed his face with two hands. “You trot around in the woods and watch two of your closest friends have some of the best sex you’ve ever seen or even been involved with in your life and you tell me how well you hide anything. So, what the hell was she doing in here and why did she kiss you?”
“Her and Jennifer are best friends, you know that. She was thanking me for what I did yesterday and fussing over me so she would feel better about not being there herself. You do realize that Cadman makes it a point to get on any team that takes Jennifer off world. The two women are practically joined at the hip and have gotten closer since the staff started rotating out and most of the replacements are male. They are having a hard time sending women out this far these days. It was easier when a woman was leading the expedition – more reassuring for the women they might send out here in uniform or as a civilian.” Evan reached out for his glass and grabbed it despite the fact that his face blanched with the pain of extending his arm fully. “You and the rest of the men on this base lucky enough to snag the woman they want are perfectly safe from me. Everyone is safe from me and any romantic/sexual notions I might have.”
“What are you evolving into an asexual being?”
“I’m in a relationship, Sir. A serious, committed, doesn’t even cross my mind to look at other people, relationship. They are not military and I’d rather not say who.”
John held up his hands without another word. “No, that’s fine. I’m sorry for thinking what I thought—I’m pretty sure she’s going to punch me in the face for it later though.”
“Yeah she probably is.” Lorne grinned at the thought. “Really hard. You’ll have to give her an excuse to do it so you won’t have to write her up for hitting a superior officer. I guess sparring with platoon three is on your agenda then.”
“You and I both know that I can’t let her and I…” John shook his head. “Can’t happen.”
He jerked. He could count on one finger the number of times Evan had called him by anything other than his rank or just his last name. “Still speaking frankly, I see.”
Evan smiled. “We live on the edge of an ugly death – keep a low profile but don’t deny yourself a much needed haven from this bit of fresh hell we’ve found ourselves here. No one here will hold it against you.”
“They aren’t going to take you from Atlantis, Sir. Your dominant Ancient gene makes you pretty irreplaceable. No one can work the systems, fly the city, or defend the city with the chair the way you can. This is your city.”
“Tell me about the bullet that Jennifer pulled out of Jakes.”
“One of the Bola Kai pulled a glock. He was the only with one and he only had a few rounds but it was a surprise- the rest of them were just armed with stabbing weapons.” His hand went to his wound, situated on the upper left portion of his chest. “You know what sucks about this wound?”
“It goes all the way through like a bullet but it hurts like ten times worse.”
* * * *
Laura leaned against the counter and watched Rodney deftly crack the case on an inactive weapon they’d found on the Bola Kai ship. She moved in closer. “See, see—that’s exactly what the scans were telling us.”
“Why the hell would they have a bomb without a trigger mechanism inside it? It makes no sense.”
“They obviously stole this- they aren’t the type to actually build anything right?”
“Yeah they are like cavemen Go’uld in that regard. Far more interested in stealing than inventing their own shit. The ship looked like fifty or so different societies got together and had a baby. But we did manage to pull out a fantastic amount of crystals. Never can have enough of those babies.” He paused. “How is Evan?”
“He’s good. He asked about you and was disappointed that he slept through most of your visit. I kissed him on the forehead for you.” She grinned when he flushed. “Good thing I didn’t give him the kiss you asked for—Sheppard walked in on us.”
Rodney laughed. “I bet that was a shock to his system.”
“Yeah, well, Colonel Stupid Hair is on my shit list anyways.”
“So, why skip the lips?”
“I can’t kiss your boyfriend on the lips for you.” Laura snorted.
“Didn’t stop you when you when you were in my head—kissing people left and right.”
“Yeah, yeah. I just liked the reaction. Your physical reaction. It’s pretty cool to what it feels like when a man is aroused.” She wiggled both eyebrows. “I just wish you could have gotten laid while I was in that cavern of yours. That would have been seriously hot.”
Rodney blushed which made Laura laugh. “You are not a nice woman.”
“You are not a nice man.” She grinned. “Makes us pretty even on that front I think.” She looked at the useless bomb. “I want to take that and work with it in the armory. We shouldn’t leave it in here.”
* * * *
John found her in the armory lab—a place not used that often as the IOA still hadn’t approved his request for a weapons development department. She had the bomb he’d heard about in pieces on a table in front of her. “Learn anything?”
“It’s like a pipe bomb on crack.” Laura slid off the stool and stretched her back. “I’ve already put away the explosive compound they used. I’ve got a few friends in the Chemistry department who are going to enjoy the hell out of that stuff. I’ll want to do some testing on it but it had the consistency of C-4. We’ll have to spend sometime with it see how proactive it is.”
“But you like it?”
“It’s reactive, stable, easy to handle. Depending on it’s chemical make up—it could make for a pretty bang and a safe product for us to construct on Atlantis. Also, if we could make our own C-4 type stuff that would make room on the Daedalus for more interesting stuff… like you know grenade launchers and and the rail guns I want for the city defense system.”
“We have the chair.”
“That two people in this city can use the chair effectively and really it prefers you.” Laura frowned at him. “By the way, the snappy behavior in the infirmary was unnecessary and you have retarded gaydar.”
His mouth dropped open. “What?”
“You heard me. How can you not know that Evan Lorne prefers men?”
“What happen to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?” John demanded.
“So don’t ask him, just don’t go accusing him of shit he would never do in a million years. Besides, you aren’t exactly in a position to report him for sexual misconduct.”
That was certainly true – his gaze ripped over her. “He told me I was being an idiot about wanting to keep my distance from you.”
“Well, maybe we should just agree that he’s relationship retarded. We said this was a mistake.”
“You said it was a mistake,” John corrected.
Her mouth dropped open and then she turned back to the components on the table. “Would you like to hear what else I’ve learned from this?”
“I’ll read the report.”
Laura snorted. “Yeah.”
“I always read your reports, Cadman.” She stiffened when she realized he’d moved to stand behind her. “Even before you started complaining about personal droughts in the gym for me to hear.” His mouth grazed her neck. “Do you think perhaps I’m taking this attraction between us for granted? Are you going to make me work for it? Because I’m willing. I’m very willing to work for what I want.”
Teeth scraped across her pulse point. “Tell me it was a mistake again, Laura, and I’ll take a hand to that pretty little ass of yours.”
Then he was gone. Laura sagged toward the work table and looked over her shoulder but he was already completely out of the armory lab. She’d started it, she knew that and it was becoming clear that he’d gotten over his distraction problem. It occurred to her that intentially rousing the interest of man like John Sheppard had probably been
stupid but her body was screaming for her to chase after him and maybe talking him into spanking her ass just on general principal.
* * * *
John had seen that look on Rodney McKay’s face more times than he liked to think about – so when Rodney ran past him at a dead run towards the armory – he turned and followed the scientist. When he got there – Laura was taking a small box apart and McKay was hovering like his life depended on it.
“Goddamn it, McKay—I told you to get behind the blast shield!”
“No way.” Rodney took a deep breath.
“John.” Cadman didn’t look up from the device. “Get McKay to the observation room. Now.”
John grabbed Rodney by the back of his uniform shirt and shoved him bodily into the observation room. “Don’t make me hurt you.”
“You, too,” Laura said softly as she lifted the small lid. “I mean it, John, the observation room – right now.”
He clenched his jaw but joined in the observation room. “What the fuck is going on, Rodney?”
Rodney pressed his forehead against the glass. “We scanned that thing thoroughly before we opened it. We did. There was nothing going on with it- no power source, no trigger mechanism. When we cracked it, I still had a scanner going. I picked it up a few minutes ago and realized that after we opened it something inside it turned on. Laura has isolated it to that small box.”
“Is it an explosive?”
“Unsure. Just an energy signature. I told her to leave it alone over the radio but she was already opening it when I got here.”
“McKay.” Laura’s voice was moderately under control but the edge of panic in it had both men moving. “McKay, please tell me this isn’t what I think it is.”
Rodney moved out of the observation room, ignoring John as he hurried to Laura’s side. “Yes, yes, you idiot, of course it is.” He picked up a hammer and smashed the small device before John could react and then he turned to him. “We’ve had a Wraith tracking device actively broadcasting in the city for more than five hours.”
“You’re fired. Everyone is fucking fired!”