Regulation Risk

Author: ShaViva

Rating: T+

Content Warning: Adult themes, coarse language, sexual references, sex scenes.

Season: Season 4

Summary: What would you be willing to risk to be with the man you love? What would you give up for the chance to be together? For Laura Cadman the surprising answer was everything. Stand alone one shot ... Lorne/Cadman pre-ship/ship.

Classifications: Romance

Pairings: Lorne/Cadman

Spoilers for: None

Acknowledgements: Nothing really – this one is probably the result of ten + years of Stargate viewing - and strangely for me I didn't look up a single thing to write it!

Disclaimer: The Stargate characters, storylines, etc aren't mine. I am unfortunately not associated in any way with the creators, owners, or producers of Stargate or any of its media franchises – if I was Lorne and Cadman would both have been in a LOT more episodes. All publicly recognizable characters, settings, equipment, etc are the property of whoever owns them. The original characters and plot and anything else I made up are the property of me, the author. No copyright infringement is intended.

Copyright (c) 2009 ShaViva

Authors Note:

This is set somewhere in season four ... since we don't really know Laura's place in the world I'm going to assume she was originally stationed on Atlantis during season 2 and has been there ever since – she's just one of the many faces that have to be there in the city that we never see on TV!

There are so many stories out there where the non frat regs are either ignored or made to longer apply, usually via special circumstances of being posted a whole galaxy away which I don't necessarily disagree with. I've always been a little confused about how strict the rules really are and have pushed the boundaries myself in other stories, contriving to put Laura in the city but out of Lorne's direct chain of command and hoping that would be enough to be plausible. For this one though I decided to take the strict line and explore instead the choices that exist with the rules standing firmly in the way like they did for Jack and Sam in SG-1. Since the show had Rodney paired with a member of the senior staff I'm going to assume there are no regulations prohibiting relationships for the civilians.

Regulation Risk

It was interesting how life still had the power to surprise her, even after everything she'd already seen and done ... and felt. Falling in love was just another item to add to the list. She wasn't sure why now but Laura had always thought that love would find her like an explosion in an enclosed space, taking over everything and using up all the available oxygen until it left her breathless. It was the way she lived the rest of her life after all.

Instead love had crept up on her gradually ... so gradually that she hadn't even realised she was in trouble until it was too late to take that necessary step back.

Necessary because of who she'd fallen in love with – part two of the surprises love had in store for her.

Laura had believed that when she let herself fall – and yes, she'd really believed the choice would be hers - it would be for someone available, suitable, attractive and impressive in all the ways that counted. And while she'd been right on most of that, the key part – the suitable part had gone completely and horribly wrong.

Because she'd fallen in love with Major Evan Lorne.

Not her direct commanding officer. Not her team leader. Not even a fellow marine. But on Atlantis that hardly mattered because Lorne was second in command which meant that every serving member of the military was in his chain of command. Including her. That put him so far out of bounds it wasn't even worth contemplating how she could possibly get around the regulations that prevented them from being together. Not that it would matter ... Evan Lorne was as honourable and straight forward as they came and there was no way he'd side step the spirit of the non fraternisation regulations even if they could work out how to still keep to the letter of them. It just wasn't in him.

Laura had realised something about herself recently, since she'd first discovered the full extent of the cruel trick love had played on her. It wasn't in her to be so close to Evan, to want him so completely there was nowhere she could go in the city to escape it. It wasn't in her to pretend she felt nothing when she felt so much at times she feared it would consume her unless she could share it with him.

Which left her with only one choice. As she made her way to Colonel Sheppard's office to make her request, Laura could only cross her fingers and pray that he wouldn't make it too difficult for her.

He noticed Laura arriving, narrowed his eyes when she cast a surreptitious glance in the direction of his own office across the corridor before disappearing inside Colonel Sheppard's, swiping to door closed behind her.

A closed door meeting with the city's military commander when Lorne was the one in charge of 99% of the things she could possibly want to discuss had his suspicions firing on all cylinders.

Not that it necessarily had anything to do with him ... or was even his business. Sure, they were friends ... if he was honest with himself, a hell of a lot more than that, if only in his own mind. Lately though Laura had been different ... less open ... quieter. He'd caught her staring at him more than once in the past few weeks, her expression defying description until she'd blush and then look away quickly. That one was easy to read – she was embarrassed – he just wasn't sure why.

Thinking back, his eyes still on that closed office door, Evan tried to work out exactly when things had changed between them. The answer came swiftly.

M5L-991. The village of Tira.

That was when everything had gotten ... weird.

Laura had been in the Gateroom when he'd finally returned to Atlantis, a surprise in itself because she'd never been waiting for him to get back before. Of course he'd never been missing for two weeks before either, never come back battered and bruised and looking like he hadn't slept for days.

Which he hadn't. It had taken him a week to get his captors to even let him defend himself, and another week to convince them he wasn't the bad guy the people of Tira had believed him to be. It galled that a simple case of mistaken identity had taken so long to resolve. That he'd had to take more than one beating in the place of the ones who'd raided the village and killed three men before they finally believed him to be innocent. He'd been so hyped up on pain and frustration and good old fashioned anger by the time he'd made it through the first week that sleep had been an impossibility.

Of course Atlantis had spent those two weeks trying to get the Tirans to let them send a delegation through to argue for Lorne's release. His team had been sent back the first day, the villagers deciding to fix all of their retribution efforts on Evan as the leader, and therefore the one responsible. That had been the only positive in the entire experience; that he'd only had himself to worry about. Lorne wasn't sure what he would have done if they'd used his team to extract their revenge – luckily they hadn't realised that would have been a more effective punishment than beating the crap out of him every couple of days. In the end it had been his own words that had finally convinced them to let him go.

So he'd stepped through the gate, pissed off, in pain, and tired to the point of collapse and the first thing he'd seen had been Laura Cadman standing there, her expression a strange mix of relief and some other emotion he couldn't put a label on. His own emotions however had been all too easy to label.

Relief of his own because there had been a few days there when he'd thought maybe he wouldn't see her again. It wasn't simply relief at seeing her though ... there was also a strong measure of relief that the things he'd promised himself he'd say to her one day were still a possibility. To go along with the relief he'd felt a wave of sheer joy because that's just what being in the presence of Laura Cadman did to him. She was ... life ... beautiful and brave and so damned determined to do whatever it took to be the perfect marine. She took his breath away that day, just as she always did ... and in that one unguarded moment when their eyes had met everything he had inside for Laura surged forward to the verge of overwhelming him.


As he watched Laura reappear at the doorway of Sheppard's office, as he overheard John telling her that if Colonel Carter approved it then it was okay with him ... whatever 'it' was ... Evan feared that Laura had done a better job of reading him that day than he was doing reading her.

Because unless he was mistaken, the look she shot him before she hurried off in the direction of the control room and Carter's office was one of knowledge.

Crap! She knew he loved her ... not the 'you're a great friend I'd be sad if something happened to you' kind either. The 'I can't image being with anyone else even if I never get to be with you' love.

That explained the meet with Sheppard ... she wanted out of Atlantis. That was the 1% that wasn't under Lorne's purview, the 1% she wouldn't talk to Evan about first which meant he was completely screwed.

Unless there was something he could do to stop her.

"Ma'am," Laura stood in the doorway of Colonel Carter's office, waiting for her acknowledgement.

"Lieutenant, come in," Sam invited the younger officer in with a smile. As Laura moved to sit in the chair across from the city's leader, Sam continued. "John radioed that you wanted to meet with me?"

"Yes Ma'am," Laura's voice wavered, and she smiled awkwardly. "It's a ... personal matter. Permission to speak freely?"

"Of course," Sam replied, her expression shifting into concern. "Is everything alright Laura?"

"At this point? No, not really," Laura admitted. "I do have a plan to fix things though. I just need your approval."

The irony of the situation wasn't lost on Laura ... that's she'd fallen for a superior office in the direct chain of command and was now forced to admit it to the one person in the entire city most likely to understand all the things she couldn't say. Knowing about the Carter-O'Neill thing was a given for anyone who'd spent time at the SGC. Evan would know about it ... Laura certainly did. Initially she'd wondered how someone as smart as Samantha Carter could do something so stupid as falling for her CO. Now? Well now, sitting in the same boat, she completely understood ... and sympathised.

"Okay," Sam shifted forward a little, her 'I'm listening' body language clear. "Why don't you start by telling me what you need ... we can take it from there."

"Sure," Laura took a visibly deep breath and then just launched. "I've resigned my commission and I need you to approve my employment as a civilian explosives consultant to Atlantis. You'll still need someone to do all the duties I currently undertake and there's no-one else in the city who's qualified ... and no reason why it couldn't be done by a civilian." Laura was counting on the IOA still wanting to limit the number of people who knew about Atlantis ... that and the fact that she really was a top level explosives expert.

Sam blinked, frowned, eyes on Laura as she digested the completely unexpected request. "Can I ask why?"

"You can," Laura cringed. "I'd rather you didn't but given the circumstances I realise you need to know some of my reasons before you can approve my request."

"Anything you say will remain off the record Laura," Sam said reassuringly.

"I know," Laura's eyes landed on the folder she'd brought with her and clutched tightly since she'd sat down. "Before I explain can I give you this?" she held out the folder uncertainly.

"What is it?" Sam asked even as she took it.

"My application, resume," Laura shrugged self deprecatingly, "a justification for why I'm qualified to be hired to the expedition. I wouldn't want anyone to think I'd gotten special treatment. If you don't think my qualifications are up to scratch I don't expect you to take me back."

"And if we don't hire you?" Sam queried.

"I don't know," Laura bit at her bottom lip worriedly. Realising what she was doing she quickly shifted into as good a smile as she could manage. "Colonel Sheppard has already accepted my resignation Ma'am so that's a done deal."

"So ... you'll leave the city rather than stay on maintaining the status quo?" Sam asked in surprise.

"Yes Ma'am," Laura said with certainty. It would be a blow – the kind she might not recover from – but hopefully losing Atlantis could still lead to other ... compensations.

"Right," Sam nodded, her eyes intent. "I think you had better tell me what's driving this decision then Lieutenant."

"Love," Laura winced as the one word explanation burst out of her abruptly.

Colonel Carter got it immediately though, her brows rising as she met Laura's eyes. "You're in love with someone here in the city – someone military?"

"Yes Ma'am," Laura admitted. Feeling compelled to explain the unexplainable she began talking rapidly. "I didn't plan for it to happen but it did. And I know how that sounds! I'm a marine for God's sake – you'd think I'd have a little more control than to blow my career over a man but I just ... couldn't help myself. I tried ignoring it but it's not going away and you know, the regs are pretty clear. Frankly I'm not sure I'm not already in violation of them feeling this way about a superior officer even though I haven't acted on it and I just can't waste what could be the only chance I have for something so ... amazing just to stay in the military when ... ," Laura skidded to a halt, putting a hand over her mouth as if trying to stop more words from gushing out.

"When in all likelihood we'll value your skills enough to keep you on anyway?" Carter asked lightly.

"I'm so sorry Ma'am," Laura said intently. "I know that you more than anyone else would understand my position – not that you ever did anything to violate regulations – and I didn't mean to suggest anything by -,"

"It's okay Laura," Sam interrupted the other woman before she could put her foot any further in her own mouth. "Nothing stays secret in a place like the SGC." She looked at Laura for a few moments, her expression thoughtful. "You're sure this is what you want? What you both want?"

"It's what I want," Laura said firmly. "I've thought about it for a while now ... it's not a spur of the moment thing. To be honest I don't know if it'll be what he wants ... this is my decision, one I have to make on my own."

"You're doing all this without telling him?" Sam didn't think Laura could surprise her anymore than she already had.

"I know," Laura laughed suddenly. "This is insane – I know it. But if I allow Evan to have a say he'll override me, tell me my career is just as important as his. It is but he'll be too stubborn to see I can have that career and us as well. Even if it's not exactly how I planned, with him in my life it'll still be more than I could ever have hoped for."

"You're in love with Major Lorne?" Sam wasn't sure why that fact surprised her – she'd seen the two around and noticed their strong friendship. She'd just never realised there was more to it than that – which meant they were either very good at hiding their feelings or she needed to get more observant on the status of her staff.

"Oh, didn't I say that?" Laura grinned. "Yes, I'm in love with Evan ... and I can't believe I told you that before telling him!"

"Wait," Sam held up a hand when Laura looked like continuing. "Let me get this straight. You're giving up your commission for Major Lorne without telling him first and he doesn't even know you're in love with him?" She paused before continuing. "How does he feel about you?"

"He's never admitted anything – Evan is a by the book man so there's no way he'd even hint at anything inappropriate while it's against the regs," Laura admitted, "but I do believe he loves me too."

"How can you be sure?" Sam's tone was wistful now, her focus seeming as much on her thoughts as it was on Laura's situation.

"Remember that day when Evan finally came back from M5L-991?" Laura asked, waiting for Sam to nod before continuing. "I was there Ma'am – in the Gateroom. There was this moment when he saw me standing there ... the expression in his eyes was just ...," she smiled and shrugged. "That's when I knew how he felt about me. That's when it all became unbearable. It's one thing to love someone and think you don't stand a chance in hell that they'll love you back. I've done that for going on a year now and it's uncomfortable sure, but doable. But loving someone and knowing they feel the same? Knowing that everything you want is right there within your grasp and that all you need to do to get it is take the biggest risk of your life? It scares the crap out of me but I'd hate myself if I didn't take the chance." She looked at Colonel Carter, seeing the faraway look in the other woman's eyes and regretting that she'd probably put it there. "I know this could all blow up in my face but I trust Evan with my life. How could I do less than trust him with my heart?"

Sam was silent for a few moments before she blinked and seemed to return to the present. "You couldn't," she agreed softly. "I admire your courage Laura. I hope this works out for you."

"So you'll look at my application?" Laura asked hopefully.

"I'll do more than that," Sam promised. "I'll put your name forward for immediate transfer to our civilian ranks." She nodded to Laura's folder. "Everything you've submitted will go to the IOA with my personal recommendation to approve. With any luck you should hear something positive back within the week."

"Thank you Ma'am," Laura couldn't stop the crazy big grin from sweeping over her face, barely restraining herself from jumping up to hug the other woman. Calming herself she thought for a moment and then made a final request. "Can I ask you not to announce anything until I've spoken to Major Lorne?"

"Of course," Sam agreed with an amused smile.

"He's gonna be pissed," Laura offered, "but once he's had a chance to calm down he'll see there wasn't any other way. Once I'm no longer military there's nothing stopping us." She looked at Sam suddenly. "That's right, isn't it?"

"Yes," Sam said reassuringly. "And if Major Lorne is as smart as I think he is, he'll know how lucky he is to have you," she added firmly. "I'll let you know as soon as we've heard back from the IOA on that transfer."

Laura stood, thanked Carter again, and then almost danced out of the office ... right into the path of the one man she wasn't prepared to talk to yet.

"Ev – Major!" She corrected herself quickly, shooting an almost guilty glance back to where Sam was watching the proceedings with interest.

"Lieutenant," Evan didn't miss the guilty expression. He kept his own expression bland but inside his heart was beating too fast for the situation, as though his body was preparing for action. "I need to talk to you," he added, taking her elbow firmly and urging her towards the stairs, nodding politely to Colonel Carter on his way past her open door.

"Right now?" Laura swallowed nervously, wondering if he'd heard any of the tail end of her conversation with Sam. "Because I should really start getting ready for my shift, Sir."

"You've still got two hours," Evan shot back, resolutely walking them down the stairs, across the Gateroom floor and over to the nearest transporter, ignoring the looks they were getting along the way. He said nothing as he pressed a spot on the map, waited for the doors to open again and then walked them down the corridor.

Laura frowned when she realised where they were heading ... his quarters. Not that she was in the habit of spending time there. Her quarters were in the same section and they often ended up walking each other home after various social events. Obviously what he wanted to say was something he didn't want anyone to overhear ... which only had the nerves jumping even higher inside.

"Okay," he turned as the doors closed behind them, sealing them inside his room. He'd thought hard before deciding where this altercation should take place. It probably was bordering on inappropriate but he didn't want to run the risk of anyone interrupting them. To that end he reported in that he was off duty and would be out of contact for a while before removing his radio ear piece purposefully, holding out a hand for hers expectantly. She handed it over, her expression curious and nervous all at the same time.

They were silent for a few moments, Evan looking at Laura, his arms folded over his chest as she returned his appraisal silently, waiting for him to speak first.

"You're leaving?" Evan finally asked.

"You overheard what Colonel Carter said?" Laura didn't answer directly.

"Just the bit about the IOA," he admitted unrepentantly. "That and the closed door meeting with Colonel Sheppard make it pretty clear you're quitting Atlantis. Why?"

"I'm not leaving," Laura hadn't planned to tell him what she'd done so soon, when the end result was still unconfirmed, but he'd forced her hand and there was nothing left but for her to go with it.

"But ...," Evan frowned. "Colonel Carter said IOA transfer. What transfer then?"

"Before I explain you need to know there's nothing you can say that's gonna change my mind," Laura began, moving forward until they were standing close enough for her to feel his heat.

"Change your mind about what?" Evan asked exasperated. "Just tell me what the hell you did Laura!"

"I resigned my commission and requested a transfer to the civilian side of the expedition," Laura admitted, watching his expression carefully. "I need confirmation from the IOA but Colonel Carter thinks it's almost certain they'll approve me to stay in the city."

"You what?" Evan looked at her incredulously. "Why the hell would you do that?!"

"Because I can't go on like this," she said simply.

"Like what?" Evan ran an impatient hand through his hair, turning to pace away before returning to confront her. "I thought you were happy! I don't understand how you could do this without talking to me first Laura. I thought we were friends."

"We are," Laura moved forward, taking his hands and gripping them until he met her eyes. "I know this seems like something out of the blue –"

"Oh, you think?!" he interrupted, brows raised.

"Just let me explain," Laura moved forward, invading his personal space purposefully.

Evan frowned, watching her carefully but standing his ground. "Laura ... ah ... what are you doing?" he asked when she let go of his hands so she could cup his face, her palms hot on his skin.

"Explaining," she said in a soft voice, going up on tiptoe as she pulled him towards her. And then she touched her lips to his, all the while waiting for him to pull away in protest.

It took Lorne longer than it should have to remember who he was, who she was ... and the reasons that existed to keep him from acting on his feelings. Long enough for him to turn her light kiss into something darker ... hotter.

As soon as he felt her lips on his he couldn't help but react ... burying his hands in her hair he pulled her closer, deepening the kiss. She opened for him then, pressing against him and moaning low in her throat as she wrapped her arms around his waist. It was their first kiss but you wouldn't have known it from observation alone. He'd imagined kissing Laura Cadman more than enough to shoot straight past hesitant exploration into a prelude to the greater intimacy he wanted more than anything.

Evan wasn't even sure what made him stop ... just that at the point when he was thinking about picking her up and taking her to his bed something had him pulling away instead. "We shouldn't be doing this," he ground out, breathing erratic as he tried to get himself back under control.

"Yes, we should," Laura insisted, closing the gap he'd opened up between them.

"Laura!" Evan held up a hand, letting her force him to take a step back he was so surprised by her actions. "What the hell is going on here? Did you go off world and drink the local hooch or something?" The forceful behaviour was like her when it came to being a marine ... he'd just never seen her apply it in a personal situation before.

"No!" Laura retorted. "Maybe you didn't understand what I said before. I resigned ... which means I'm no longer a marine and in case that's not obvious enough, it means I'm no longer in your chain of command. We're free to fraternise to our hearts content ... and right now I'm thinking we should do a whole lot of fraternising!"

She took another step forward, forcing him to take another step back until his back hit the wall and he could go no further.

"Okay, that's it," Evan grabbed her wrists, one in each hand and used his hold to spin them around until she was the one boxed in between the wall and his body. "Just ... stop, okay?! Stop. I need to think here."

"You think too much," Laura grinned suddenly, leaning up and kissing his jaw.

"And clearly you're not thinking at all!" Evan tried not to visibly shiver as she continued pressing kisses along his jaw line. "Laura ... please," he said in a low tone. It wasn't that he didn't want what it seemed she was offering ... man did he want! He just didn't understand why she was offering what had always been the impossible ... and until he did there was no way he could act on her obvious invitation.

"Fine," with a sigh Laura slumped back against the wall and looked up at him.

"Just tell me why," Evan pleaded.

"Because I love you," she said simply, bracing herself for his reaction even as she continued speaking. "I mean I really love you Evan ... at first I hid it because I honestly didn't think you'd be interested in someone like me. And I was handling it until you came back from Tira and I saw the look in your eyes and I just knew you felt the same. Now it's all I can think about." She let him see the certainty in her eyes as she finished it. "I want you enough to change whatever I have to change for the chance to find out what we could be together ... if you'll have me."

"Let me see if I understand this," Evan's tone was deceptively mild as he let her go and started pacing slowly back and forth in front of her. The leap of emotion at her declaration was buried quickly as anger took its place. "You decided, without even talking to me first, to give up your military career for a relationship between the two of us, based on the expression in my eyes after I'd been held captive for two weeks?"

"When you put it like that it sounds a little crazy," Laura replied, trying not to let her sudden nerves show. What if she'd totally gotten it wrong? Oh God ... he didn't feel the same! Humiliation and terror wared for dominance but she made herself look at him. As soon as her eyes met his she remembered that she trusted him, that she knew him ... and her resolve returned, along with her confidence. "You're angry," she said in a small voice.

"You're God damn right I'm angry!" he returned harshly. "Let's say for a moment that you're right – that there is something there between us. What makes you think I'd be happy with you giving up your career for me? Because I'm telling you now Laura I'm not! I'm fucking pissed is what I am! You should have talked to me about this first!"

"I knew what you'd say," Laura said simply, letting his anger wash over her without impact. Taking a different tact she pushed off from the wall and walked around him, sitting on his couch and waiting, knowing he'd join her eventually. He did, choosing to sit on his bed facing her, elbows on his knees as he leaned forward.

"If you knew how I'd react, what the hell possessed you to take such a mammoth step?" Evan's tone was only slightly calmer as he waited for her reaction.

"Would you ever break the regs for me Evan?" Laura asked simply. "Sneak around? Leave my quarters in the wee hours so we don't get caught? Steal a quickie in a supply closet because there's no other place? Would you ever even let yourself admit to feeling something more than friendship for me?"

Lorne sighed, burying his face in his hands for a moment before looking at her reluctantly. "No," he said simply.

"Right," Laura nodded. "Even if I was willing," she grinned suddenly, "and believe me I'm more than willing, Major Evan Lorne would never go there." She ignored his pained expression at the implied praise for his squeaky clean reputation. "Next question ... what would you have said if I'd asked for your input before I resigned?"

"Laura," Evan protested, seeing where she was taking this.

"No, answer the question!" she insisted impatiently.

"Fine," Evan thought for a moment before answering. "I'd have tried to talk you out of it," he finally admitted. "Your career is just as important as mine Laura. In another year you'll make Captain ... you could have your own team." Reaching forward he took her hands, looking at her intently. "Listen ... we won't always be in the same chain of command. If we just wait there'll be a time when it won't be against the regs for us to be together."

"How long?" Laura asked simply.

"I don't know!" Evan shot back. "A year ... two, three ... things will get better here eventually. We can request transfers back to Earth then."

"We'd tell ourselves that," Laura said sadly. "Use it to keep the hope alive. And then five years down the track we'll have turned into another Jack O'Neill and Samantha Carter."

It was harsh – and sounded a lot less sympathetic than she'd intended – but it got her point across better than anything else could have.

"We're not them!" Evan protested, even though his expression said he thought she was probably right.

"I'll be thirty this year Evan," Laura said simply. "About the same age Colonel Carter probably was when she started to have inappropriate feelings for her CO. Do you think she wanted to be sitting up in that office ten years later – single, no children ... still waiting? That isn't going to be me Evan," Laura finished determinedly. "This is a done deal ... Colonel Sheppard has already signed off on my resignation and I'm not taking it back even if he would. As of 1200 hours today I became a civilian again. The only question you have to answer is whether I'm going back to Earth heartbroken or staying here ... with you."

"Laura," he couldn't remember a time when he'd felt so confused, so unsure of the right thing to do. A large part of him wanted to be selfish and say to hell with it, gather her up and never let her go. The other part of him was worried though ... they'd never even tried to be a couple – what if they sucked at it? "Being a marine is who you are. You're giving up a part of yourself ... it's too much."

"It's not," Laura insisted. "Yes, being a marine is a big part of who I've been for almost ten years and I did think about what I'd be without it. But I want the rest of it too Evan ... marriage, children, the whole box and dice. And it's a fact of life that I couldn't continue the way I have been and have all of that as well." She met his eyes, her expression sure. "I'm doing this as much for me as I am for you. I need to know and this is the only way."

"There is another way," Evan returned. "I could request a transfer back to Earth ... we could try this long distance for a while ... see if ...," he trailed off, troubled even as he made the suggestion, her expression already telling him her answer. He couldn't let her do it though - give up so much. What if he screwed it up somehow? Surely he wasn't worth that level of sacrifice?

"Don't," she pleaded softly. Sliding from the couch she dropped to her knees in front of him, kneeling up so their eyes were on the same level. Bracing her hands on the bed on either side of him she leaned in and pressed her cheek to his. "I'm sure," she whispered close to his ear. Kissing his temple she shifted, switching to repeat the same process on the other side. "This is what I want," she promised, kissing the other temple. Leaning back she smiled. "Just tell me you want it too."

"You have to ask?" Evan moved swiftly, wrapping his hands around her upper arms and lifting her until she was sitting on his lap, her knees around him. "I think I've wanted this ... you ... since the day we met." Fitting his hand around her head he pulled her in and kissed her.

"Then you hid it well," Laura said breathlessly once he'd moved on from her lips, making her shiver as he kissed his way down her neck. "I thought there was no chance until that day in the Gateroom when you returned from Tira."

"Yeah, well I was tired," Evan excused his lapse with a teasing grin. Leaning back he looked into her eyes, his expression unguarded so she could see what he was feeling. "Just so we're clear," he began. "You love me, right?" She nodded wordlessly. "You're Ms Laura Cadman now and that doesn't trouble you at all?" She nodded again, smiling. "You want us to be a couple in every sense of the word?" This time her nod was emphatic as she watched him intently. "And you know I love you too?"

Her eyes went wide and a little misty as his words registered. "You do?" she asked hopefully. "Really?"

"I do, really," Evan confirmed seriously.

"Thank God for that!" Laura exclaimed, only then letting go of the nerves she'd been holding tightly inside.

"You weren't sure?" Evan asked, surprised.

"No ... yes ... no," Laura shook her head, laughing as she dropped her head to his shoulder. "Not a hundred percent," she mumbled.

"And you still took the risk?" Evan put his hand to her hair, urging her to look at him. When she did, giving a helpless little shrug at his incredulous expression, he dropped backwards to his bed, taking her with him. Wrapping his arms around her, he rolled them until he was the one on top, pressing her into the mattress. "I'm going to have you now," he promised intently, waiting for the protest that never came.

Instead Laura pulled him down to her, openly inviting more. "As long as I can have you too," she returned, already busy pulling the back of his shirt from his pants so she could get her hands under it and touch skin for the first time.

That got the reaction she was after ... he shivered at her touch, pupils dilating with desire. And then he was kissing her ... desire blazing hotly between them.

It was funny the things she remembered after. How blue his eyes got as the passion built between them, the way he devoted his entire being solely to her. How they fit together ... like they'd been constructed with lovemaking in mind. Their equal partnership ... neither really taking the lead for more than a few minutes until they were both naked and Evan had arranged her under him, poised to complete their union.

"We better not regret this," Evan said, his voice low and heated.

"We won't," Laura promised, shifting upwards, unconsciously urging him on. "Now," she pleaded breathlessly.

Surging forward, they both groaned as he slid home, movement suspended as they each reacted.

"Oh God," Laura felt as though her whole body were flushed from the inside out with liquid heat, barely able to contain the emotion of finally experiencing the entirety of being with Evan Lorne. She felt connected to something grander than she could ever be alone ... to a greatness created by who they were together.

"You got that right," Evan's voice didn't sound like his own. It was a cliché to admit it but at that point he realised he'd never been with anyone he loved before. Not with the depth that he loved Laura ... it did add an extra dimension to the intimacy that made it seem new, that made it more than merely physical. Rearing up, weight resting on his forearms, he met her eyes. "Laura," her name was an endearment, a promise, a plea.

"Evan," she smiled, understanding, reassuring.

He kept his eyes on hers as he began to move.

That was enough to shift the tempo from slow and steady to urgency. Dropping his head to her shoulder, Evan kissed and touched where the mood took him, everything focussed on her. Laura wrapped her legs around him, her arms too, clinging tightly as he took her with him on an ageless journey. It had been her actions that had brought them to that point and she was happy for him to lead them beyond it ... there was a balance in that that pleased her.

Maybe they should have taken it slow, built to the conclusion they were racing towards gradually over time. But they weren't at the beginning of their relationship ... they were already somewhere along the path and it seemed right for their first action together as a couple to be the ultimate act of love.

Laura felt the pressure building inside ... the wave of release sweeping over her hard enough to pull her from 'fully with the moment' to hovering somewhere magical and shivery. With her all the way, Evan cradled Laura's head, breathing hotly against her neck as his own release overtook him. Laura felt treasured, adored, loved beyond measure ... enough to make her teary ... and girly in a way she didn't even mind.

It took Evan a while to come back to himself and realise he was probably crushing her. When he made to move Laura clung tightly.

"Not yet," she protested, smoothing her hands down his back.

"I'm heavy," he pointed out, raising his head to look down at her.

"It's nice," she smiled.

"You're beautiful," he smiled back, noting her faint blush with amusement. "Surely that's not a surprise to you," he said.

"Being beautiful to you is," Laura insisted.

"Well it shouldn't be. You're hot Ms Laura Cadman," Evan leaned down, speaking close to her ear. "In fact you've got me thinking about all the things I want to do to you ... with you," he pressed his weight down onto her to make the message clear. "It's gonna take a good long while."

"So you're not angry anymore?" Laura couldn't help but ask.

Evan paused before shifting to lie beside her, gathering her in close to his side. His breath wafted her hair as he spoke. "Do I wish there had been another way for us to get to this point? Yes, of course. Would I take it back now I know how good we are together? Hell no!" He sighed. "I'm not sure I'm worth the sacrifice but I'll take it just the same and count myself bloody lucky."

"Love is worth any sacrifice," Laura said softly, shifting to rest her head on his chest, her lips brushing his skin as she spoke. "And I love you ... whether you think you deserve it or not. Now that I'm no longer military you're exactly what I always wanted Evan Lorne." He felt her smile. "Available, suitable, attractive and impressive in all the ways that count ... not to mention sexy as hell."

"I try," he tried not to flush himself but knew he wasn't entirely successful when she chuckled before hugging him exuberantly.

"I should thank Colonel Carter," Laura said softly after a few minutes of silence. "Maybe I wouldn't have felt so driven not to delay without seeing what waiting can do to a relationship."

"Maybe," Evan returned. "I don't know though ... you're not exactly the patient type." Laughing when she reared up and whacked his shoulder, he pulled her down to him again. "All I know is if it had been left up to me we wouldn't be here now. I would have let the regs stand between us indefinitely, so anything we achieve from this point is down to you."

"See ... this is why I'm head over heels for you," Laura rolled over on top of him, rewarding his romantic words with a teasing kiss that quickly turned more serious. Before she was totally overwhelmed by their passion, a single thought flickered through her mind.

This was forever ... she knew it as surely as she knew her own name. In the end the risk she'd taken hadn't really been a risk at all but a certainty, because she and Evan belonged together.

The End!