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[ like diffusing a bomb ]

Lorne was walking with Parrish down the hall, smiling easily as the man raved about some sort of hybrid of plants that he was fascinated with, not understanding a word of it, when he heard the loud voice and the crash.

"God damned…"

"Son of a…"


He froze and looked at Parrish, who was looking at him with wide eyes and a slack mouth. "You should probably continue without me," he said, smiling and patting his shoulder.

Parrish closed his mouth. "Is that Colonel Sheppard?"

Lorne just raised an eyebrow and cocked his head. "Go on, Parrish. Get back to your… hybrid… whatzitfuck."

Parrish's mouth quirked up in a smile. "Hybrid flo--"

"Don't care," Lorne sang, backing up towards Sheppard's office and holding his hands up. "Go!"

He paused outside of Sheppard's office and made sure the hall was empty before he knocked on the door.

"Whoever the hell you are, go away. Nobody's home."

"All due respect sir, but if you weren't home you wouldn't be answering me," Lorne said, his fingers resting on the doorknob.

"Well maybe I had McKay set up a… doorknocking… answering machine… thing."

Lorne smirked. "While I don't doubt he could do it, I don't know when he would've had the time, or inclination, to do so."

The door swung open and suddenly a very rumpled, and obviously furious, Sheppard stood before him. "Since when do you talk like that? Inclination?"

Lorne shrugged. "Hanging out with Parrish too much?"

Sheppard's eyes darted past him into the hallway. His hand coming down on Lorne's shoulder he nodded and lowered his voice. "Okay, fine, fine, come in, but tell no one where I am when you leave."

Lorne waited until the door was shut to turn around and look at Sheppard, who was leaning back against the door with his eyes shut. "No offense, sir, but you look like you could use a hot bath and a nice cozy bed."

Sheppard snorted and shoved off of the door, charging back across the room, sidestepping the four binders that were on the floor. Obviously thrown, their pages were in disarray and there were already footprints on them, and several of them had jagged tears through them.

"Yes, Calgon take me away," Sheppard muttered, sitting down in his chair with enough force to make even the chair groan. "Lorne. Lorne? We should talk. I should talk to you."

Lorne frowned and nodded, lifting his gaze up from the floor to look at him. "Okay."

Sheppard gestured agitatedly to the chair opposite his desk as he stood and walked around it. "Sit. Just… sit."

Lorne's frown deepened but he sat, because he's never seen Sheppard like this and his Dad always said you should do what the crazy people tell you to or they're liable to snap and break your neck. Especially in the military. "Sitting."

Sheppard leaned back against his desk and crossed his arms, frowning at him. "You're my second in command."

Lorne nodded, arching an eyebrow. "Yes."

"That means, my back up."

Lorne nodded again, his other eyebrow arching up to meet it's partner. "Correct again."

"So, it would stand to reason, that were I to become incapacitated in some fashion, you should be the one to step up and take over my duties, right," Sheppard said, his hand flying through the air. "Like say, I don't know. When I'm turning into a bug."

Lorne tensed up, straightening his shoulders. "Ah. Well."

"Don't worry, I'm not pissed at you," Sheppard said, rolling his eyes and hugging his arms to his chest. "I'm just stating that the chain of command is very clearly fucked up in that regard, because in no way should Caldwell have been the one in my god damned chair!"

Lorne's eyes widened as Sheppard's voice rose to a fevered pitch and he leaned forward. "Well, sir, Dr. Weir felt that I would be of more use in the field."

"Yes, I understand that, and perhaps you were, but…" His hand jerked through the air and then landed in his hair. "I'm pissed at her too, shit," he said, rubbing his hand over his face. "Right now I think the only person I'm not pissed at is you."

"Well." Lorne leaned back in his seat and tried out his most appeasing smile. "May I say that's a relief?"

"I was down for a few hours, Lorne," Sheppard said, looking at him like Lorne was supposed to explain it all away. "And he waltzes in here like he's got the right to… like he has the right… And, God damnit, he did have the right, because Elizabeth…" He clenched his jaw and Lorne looked down at his hands, clamped down so hard on the desk now that they were white-knuckled.

"There's nothing he's done that you can't undo, Colonel," Lorne said, trying for calm reason.

Sheppard shook his head. "Did you see this," he said, picking up the memo that had been circulating for the past few hours. "Did you see this? He changed nearly every god damned thing!"

"I did, and some of them are good ideas," Lorne said, immediately regretting it because of the way Sheppard's eyes flashed at him.

"Of course some of them are good ideas, Lorne, he's been doing this a while." His jaw clenched again and he squeezed his eyes shut, blowing out a long puff of air. "The point is, I was only down a few hours and he was already acting like I was god damned dead."

"Well you're not," Lorne said reasonably, gesturing to him. "See? You're standing up and breathing and getting pissed off. Not dead at all."

Sheppard's mouth twitched on a half smile before it fell again. "Yes, I know that. I just. It shoulda been you. You're my second in command."

"Well, at any rate, now we know that we need to do something about the chain of command," Lorne said, standing up and walking over to lean against the desk next to Sheppard. "That's one good thing we got out of this. We can make steps to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Sheppard shrugged, shaking his head, and Lorne could feel the stress and tension radiating off of him in waves. "I just don't understand. What the fuck Elizabeth was thinking?!"

"She was thinking that you were turning into a Wraith, that Carson could fix it if we got the eggs, that I would be willing to lead my team into a cave full of the things that were currently turning you into the Wraith, and that my skills would be better utilized in saving your ass than they would be sitting in your office and twiddling my thumbs," Lorne said. Then he blinked and said as an afterthought, "Sir."

Sheppard's narrowed eyes turned to him. "Saving my ass?"

Lorne licked his lips and tried out another smile. That 'I just stuck my foot in my mouth but you've gotta kinda love me for it, right?' smile that worked on about half the people he turned it on. "Doing what was necessary in order to ensure that Dr. Beckett could… cure… you?"

Sheppard's smile is half of it's usual radiance but there, and Lorne starts to relax. "No. You were right the first time. You were saving my ass."

Lorne shrugged. "Nothing you wouldn't have done for any of us, sir."

Sheppard took a deep breath and closed his eyes again. "So you're saying I shouldn't be pissed at Elizabeth."

"Dr. Weir was doing what she felt was right," Lorne said, leaning a little closer and smirking at him. "Besides, I heard that after this memo went out she ripped him a new one. Parrish heard it all the way down the hall."

"Caldwell though," Sheppard said, his expression darkening again. "Still an opportunistic asshole, right?"


Sheppard glared him him. "Well?"

Lorne grinned. "Yes sir. Opportunistic asshole."

Sheppard nodded, crossing his arms again. "Damn straight."

"Yes sir."


"Yes sir."

"And. And." Sheppard frowned, sighing. "But. You're right. There are a few things… a few things… we should. Possibly. Consider. Maybe implementing."

"Maybe," Lorne said, nodding. "Once he's left of course."

"Yeah," Sheppard said laughing. "Cause no way am I gonna give him cause to smirk that 'told you so' smirk of his. No way."


"Still," Sheppard said, pointing a finger. "He had no right. Coming in here and taking over like that. I bet he conned Elizabeth into it, ya know," he said, turning to look at him. "He did. I bet he did. He just walked in there and conned her into it."

Lorne frowned. "I'm not sure Dr. Weir is necessarily… easily conned."

"Still," he said, nodding. "He saw she was weak, and he took advantage. He. Planted the idea in her head."

"To be fair, she probably would have thought of it on her own eventually, even if he hadn't," Lorne said, raising his eyebrows.

Sheppard frowned at him. "Will you stop being so god damned reasonable, Lorne? I need you with me here."

"Oh," Lorne said, clearing his throat. "What I mean to say, of course, is that yes. Obviously. He took advantage. He obviously wasn't raised right."

"Right," Sheppard said, smiling at him and nodding approvingly. "He wasn't. I bet his parents didn't fuss at him when he stole the other kids toys."

Lorne snorted. "Right. As soon as Timmy's back was turned, his Tonka was gone."

"And. He's an asshole."

"He is."

"And he's opportunistic."

Lorne grinned. "As opportunistic as they come."

"And he's bald."

Lorne out and out laughed at that, jostling Sheppard's shoulder. "Actually they say that bald men are very good in bed. Something about needing to compensate for--"


Lorne's laugh faded. "I mean. Bald. And ugly."

"Also, please don't ever, ever, mention Caldwell in bed to me ever again," Sheppard said, wrinkling his nose and visibly shuddering.

Lorne smirked and nodded. "Sure thing, boss."

Sheppard sighed and ran his hand over his face again, picking up the memo again to look over it. "See? He just. This is so unacceptable."

Lorne nodded. "Completely."

"Stubborn old mule," Sheppard grumbled, ripping up the memo. "That's what I have to say about that memo. Not worth the paper it's printed on. I wouldn't use that memo to wipe my ass."

"Yes, well. Papercuts." Sheppard looked at him, eyebrows going up. Lorne grinned. "I'm assuming."

Sheppard nodded, mouth turning down in a frown again. "Why did you come here," he asked suddenly, looking back up at Lorne. "I mean. Was there something you needed?"

"I heard you yelling," Lorne said, smiling and tilting his head. "I thought I should probably diffuse the bomb."

Sheppard's frown deepened. "I wasn't a bomb!"

Lorne laughed. "Sir? The way you were acting when I walked in here is the reason they invented the safety on our guns."

Sheppard rolled his eyes. "Ya know, Lorne, sometimes you don't talk to me like I'm your superior."

Lorne grinned. "Yes, sir. Would you like me to stop?"

"No," Sheppard said, smiling softly. "It's kind of refreshing."

Lorne nodded. "Okay."

"All right," Sheppard said, sighing. "Well, Major, good job. Bomb diffused."

Lorne grinned. "Always was good at that. It's like my Momma always said."

Sheppard tilted his head. "What did she say?"

"Don't go running into a fire with ants in your pants." Off of Sheppard's look he laughed and shrugged. "Yeah, she was a weird lady, but basically what she meant was that you should calm down before you go telling people like Caldwell off."

Sheppard laughed. "Well then, it's a good thing you came along."

Lorne grinned back. "Yes, sir."

All feedback much appreciated!
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