Series: Left Behind
Genre: SGA, OT4 [nothing explicit in this part]
Length: 2225 words
Rating: This part, PG.
Synopsis: A chance meeting nearly four years after being left behind.
Author's Notes: AU starting roughly after the very beginning of Season 4.
Disclaimer: I don’t own them, people with a lot of money do. I’m just borrowing them to play and making no profit from this. I would like to claim rights to this specific alternate universe if possible, though it’s probably not going to happen.
It was Major Lorne that found him first. It was in a back alley that passed for nowhere in this town, full of nooks, crannies, and eyes that would cheerfully see nothing for the right price. “Sir? Colonel Sheppard? Is that you?” he asked, disbelief heavy with every breath.
It would have been easy to turn away, to pretend he did not hear him, to hide back in the shadows again. He never did choose the easy route.
“You shouldn’t have come here,” was all he said, knowing his voice sounded lower, more like a growl than it ever had while in command. He had other things to worry about now; soldiers could and always would take care of themselves.
“We’re just here on a routine trade mission, we never thought...” Sheppard watched as the other man gathered himself, dared to look him in the eye and saw, of all things, hope. “You’re alive, sir! We were told there was no chance, I should have known better...”
He seemed so earnest, John almost wanted to fall for it. “Go, report your findings. When you come back, we’ll be gone and you won’t have to worry about us returning,” he directed. He was certain he could never issue another actual order again.
Lorne looked confused and, again, so truthful when he asked, “Us? Sir? Are the others with you?”
“You could say that,” Ronon agreed, appearing behind him with his gun to his head. John smirked. Lorne was getting rusty if he hadn’t heard the Satedan approach.
He had apparently heard the whine of the weapon charging though as he rushed to say, “You don’t understand, we’ve been looking for you!”
“I’m sure you have,” Sheppard drawled. He pulled out his own gun, registering the shock on the Major’s face when he recognized the make and model. John simply narrowed his eyes, knowing the other man had no idea what it took to get one of these, just what he had been willing to do for the opportunity to protect himself, and his team, one last time. He motioned with the weapon, trying to get that old edge back into his voice as he said, “Put down the comm.”
Lorne obviously knew when to give in, letting his hand complete the motion he had already begun and reach up to unhook the unit. He held it out, wincing when Ronon’s big hand closed around it and snapped it in two.
John watched as he held up his hands in a placating, and rather demeaning, fashion. He licked his lips nervously, hands fluttering slightly as he said, “Colonel Sheppard, sir, you have to believe me... We looked for you, all of you. Even when they said you were dead, no one believed it. Officially, the search was called off but unofficially, every planet we’ve been to, we’ve looked for you.”
John fought the urge to roll his eyes, settling for a sneer instead. “It’s been over three years, Major,” he pointed out, stressing the title. “Don’t you think you would have found us by now?”
Lorne shook his head, looked like he was grasping for something, anything, to prolong the conversation. That was a sign to John that they needed to speed things up a bit. “Sir, Colonel Carter...” the younger man tried.
“Colonel Carter’s the one who left us to die!” John snapped.
“It wasn’t her!” Lorne protested. His excuse, as expected, was both emphatic and readily at hand. “It was the Trust! They implanted her with a Goa’uld that the scans missed. There was something about masking and her already having naquada in her blood from the last time and I know I’m doing nothing to convince you, but you have to believe me, it wasn’t her!”
“Sure seemed like her when she sent us on a suicide mission,” Ronon countered. “Seemed like her when she ordered us shot down when we returned.”
Lorne shook his head, and something that looked suspiciously like tears welled up in his eyes. “We didn’t know. Please believe me, we didn’t know!” He turned to look at Ronon, and then back again at Sheppard. “She was on the Daedalus with Caldwell. The Trust had gotten to both of them, implanted them again. Most of the crew was either loyal to them or Trust operatives. We didn’t know until they infiltrated Atlantis, changing orders and routines. Keller and Zelenka got suspicious and altered the scans; it was the only way we knew. We lost almost a third of our people in the fight, but we won, we took back the city.”
Sheppard blinked, forcing the part of him that wanted to believe the tale off to the side. It could be true, or it could be a trap designed to finish them off once and for all. “Nice story, now let me tell you our side of it,” he commented with forced casualness. He knew Ronon still had Lorne in his sights, but didn’t bother lowering his own gun. He had learnt that lesson the hard way.
“We get sent out on a mission with limited intel and end up flying right into culling. We take out as many as we can and call for backup. Backup that never came. Sensors indicate the Daedalus is within range, so we call them. Not only do they do nothing to help us, they fire at us and hit the drive pod, leaving us disabled and surrounded by Wraith.” Lorne was hanging his head, but Sheppard caught the look of horror in his eyes. He couldn’t stop though, had to let him know the killing blow of the betrayal. “And then they ran away.”
“We didn’t know, I didn’t know,” Lorne kept repeating. He looked up and met his eyes, and Sheppard had to give him credit for having the balls to do at least that. “It was weeks before we even thought to question their story. By the time we tracked down where it happened, there was nothing but wreckage. I’m so sorry.”
“You’ll forgive me if I say sorry doesn’t cut it,” Sheppard snapped back.
“Come back with me,” Lorne pleaded. “Come back and we can let people know what happened. We can fix it, or at least try. It hasn’t been the same without you, any of you. Please, come back.”
Sheppard shook his head. “Sorry, Evan,” he said, purposely refusing to use his title this time. “Not going to happen.”
“Then at least let me bring you things,” Lorne tried. “Supplies, medicines... I know life can’t be easy living in this galaxy, away from technology, away from basic needs.” His eyes traveled over Sheppard’s form, and John knew he was taking in the scars and tattoos that were not there the last time they met. “The doc, she could bring you medical supplies, or you could go to her and have her check you out...”
“You just don’t get it, do you?” Ronon asked, joining John in shaking his head.
“Get what?” Evan asked, proving his point.
“What separates you from us,” John told him, finally lowering his weapon. “We don’t leave people behind.”
“We didn’t mean to,” Lorne repeated, voice wavering once more. “God, we didn’t mean to...”
John had no idea if he kept repeating that or not, his attention focused on something new. “It’s okay, Lizzie, come on out,” he cajoled softly. “Peter, you too.”
A little girl no more than three with tanned skin, auburn curls and huge hazel eyes poked her head out from around one of the many corners. Her thumb drifted towards her mouth, but she stopped herself and resolutely shoved it in the pocket of her pinafore dress. “Daddy?” she asked, eying the stranger warily.
“It’s okay, sweetie, let’s get mommy and go home,” he told her, crouching down to her level.
She started towards him, pulling another, smaller, child by the hand. When the boy resisted, she grabbed him by his leather wristband and pulled him out into the light. His skin was a shade darker, his hair in little tufts at the top of his head. He obviously did not have the same issues as she did and placed his free thumb securely in his mouth. “Come on, Peter,” she urged, mangling the name into something closer to “Pea-der” instead. “Mommy promised treats if we got daddy without ka-cha-...”
“Chaos,” the little boy dutifully supplied around his thumb.
“Yeah, that,” she said, dragging him along. She walked right up to Sheppard, the little crystal attached to her dress flashing green as it came within range of the matching one on his wristband. He scooped her up and she wrapped her arms around him, tucking her head under his chin.
“Did you have a fun time shopping with mommy?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she nodded, and he instinctively raised his head a bit so as not to be hit in her enthusiasm. “She’s one row over taking down a botan-bot-...”
“Botanist,” Peter said offhandedly.
Lizzie nodded again, curls flying. “Papa Rodney says botanists are evil, he’s not a botanist, is he?” she asked, looking accusingly over at Lorne.
Sheppard bit back a smile at the look of shock on the other man’s face. “No, honey, he’s not a botanist. We were just having a discussion, and now he’s leaving,” he assured her.
“Da Ronon likes to discuss things with his gun,” she reasoned.
“Yes, yes, he does,” he agreed. He stood up, ignoring the slight creaking in his knees as he lifted his child. “Come on, let’s go get mommy and go home.”
Ronon tucked his gun away, grabbing Peter with one hand and tossing him up to his shoulders, the faint green glow of their crystals almost an afterthought. The child shouted with glee as he grabbed hold of several dreadlocks for leverage.
“One month, Sheppard,” Lorne called out to their retreating backs.
By the time John had turned around, Ronon’s gun was drawn again and aimed at his former XO. “I don’t think he means it as a threat, big guy,” he drawled, though he was quietly contemplating how to draw his gun and not drop his daughter the way he was currently carrying her.
Evan put his hands up to show he was meant no harm. “I’ll come back in one month with supplies and a status update. Zelenka should be able to cobble something together for you by then and McKay can take a look at it.” His face blanched suddenly. “Um, McKay’s still okay, right? He and Teyla? We haven’t heard anything from the Athosians, so I’m assuming she’s still with you?”
John nodded, feeling Lizzie get sleep-heavy in his arms. “McKay’s alive and as crabby as ever,” he assured him. He looked down at the bundle in his arms and sighed, “Teyla’s good too. We’re okay. All of us are okay.”
Lorne nodded. “Do you need anything for now? I don’t have much, just some Power Bars and ammo, a couple Band-aids maybe?”
Ronon cocked his head to the side, though it was hard to tell if it was in thought or due to Peter’s incessant pulling. “McKay’d love the Power Bars and we could always use Band-aids with these two,” he commented.
Sheppard wasn’t too proud to turn it down, not after the past few years had taught him to take what you could when you could. The ammo was useless – the weapons it would work for being outdated and traded for something without such a finite firing power long ago. He watched as Evan emptied his pockets and placed the contents on the ground beside him, ever aware of Ronon’s weapon trained on him throughout the process.
“I’ll bring more next time,” Lorne pledged, backing away. With a near hopeful look, he asked, “Will there be a next time?”
John pretended to mull it over. Though he knew there was the safety of his family to consider over the curiosity of the happenings back on Atlantis, he also knew this planet and its allies like the back of his hand. It would take a hell of a lot for the SGC to get the drop on them, especially if he called in some allies of his own. “What do you think? Will we be around these parts in a month?” he asked Ronon.
“Maybe,” he agreed. Turning to give Lorne one last look, he added, “No promises.”
Lorne swallowed and nodded once more. “No promises,” he agreed.
“Go on now,” Sheppard shooed him away. “You have a botanist to collect and we have to get these little ones home for dinner.”
He watched as Lorne darted away, noticing the one last look he threw over his shoulder before rejoining the main avenue. His own shoulder was leaning up against Ronon, gathering strength he didn’t want to admit he needed. “What do you think?” he asked with a sigh.
“I think we’ll know in a month,” the larger man shrugged. He paused for a moment, just an extra breath or two, before bending down to collect the booty Lorne had left behind, tucking it into pockets after looking it over for transmitters.
“Fair enough,” John agreed. He turned to head back towards their transport home, adding an idle, “Peter, put the knife away,” as he felt Ronon step up beside him. He thought about the saying, “Some things never change.” Apparently it was yet another thing not true here in the Pegasus galaxy.
Feedback is always welcomed.