PART IV: Don't Call Me Baby

Sheppard was pacing up and down the hall. It had been two weeks since he'd had sex with Lorne. He'd been avoiding Lorne for two solid weeks. At first, it was simple confusion—the mix of pleasure and pain was fucking confusing, because pain reminded him of the Wraith and the war and his shitty past. His ass was sore, but he couldn't very well go to Beckett and say why. So he'd sparred with Ronan, sprained his wrist, and gotten treated for that instead.

He wasn't ready to talk, but Lorne was leaving for Earth tomorrow, and it'd be months before the Daedalus brought him back—if he came back at all. Lorne would let him go—no strings, no shame. That was the way Lorne was. And Sheppard was falling hard for that sweet smile and gentle heart.

Keying the code to unlock Lorne's door, Sheppard let himself in. He took a deep breath, but couldn't seem to get out any words. Evan was packing like he was getting ready to leave forever. The man hardly owned anything, so it didn't take much for this space to feel empty.

"Hey," Sheppard said nervously.

"Hey," Lorne said, smiling like nothing was wrong. Apparently Lorne was more accustomed to these casual, once in a blue moon trysts.

"I've been avoiding you," Sheppard blurted out.

"I noticed," Lorne said, folding his clothes demurely and packing them into his duffle. "Should I arrange a transfer back to Earth while I'm there?"

Sheppard flinched. "What if I get an itch?"

"What if," Lorne repeated emotionlessly. He was trying not to make this hard, but it hurt like hell.

"You know, if you ever get an itch, you can come to me too," Sheppard said, coming to stand next to him. He raised his hand, but didn't know where to put it. Friendship and casual sex didn't mix in his mind; the boundaries were too confusing.

"Yes, sir."

The disconnected look on Lorne's face was pissing Sheppard off and he couldn't think of anything else nice to say. So he spanked Lorne on the butt and spun him around, pinning their bodies together, and giving Lorne's crotch a rough grope. Lorne fought the hold, anger and emotion surging. Maybe it was the family shit that had him on edge. Lorne swung his fist, but the blind anger behind it made it easy for Sheppard to duck. Sheppard was ready to drop the sex and let it be a fight to blow off steam, but then Lorne dug a hand into Sheppard's pants, grabbed his dick, and held on.

Sheppard froze, bracing his body against Lorne's, not wanting his favorite part ripped off. Lorne's grip was tight and vicious, his eyes flashing maliciously. Craning his neck to meet Lorne's eye, Sheppard made a face, speaking without words, offering Lorne an apology. Lorne cocked his head, but his grip loosened and he gave Sheppard's cock a few firm strokes.

"Want me to suck you or fuck you?" he asked, still edgy.

"Whatever you want," Sheppard leered, pulling Lorne's hand out of his pants so the other man would know that nothing was required. "Whatever you think you can get."

Tension rippled through Lorne's body as he considered his options. Moment by moment, the anger and angst was shelved until all Sheppard saw was the emotionless drone that had pissed him off in the first place. Then that façade faded through confusion, vulnerability, and finally intrigue. Finally, Lorne broke into a wide, wholehearted grin and Sheppard's heart leapt with joy.

"I want you to beat eight minutes," Lorne smiled, dodging out of the way as Sheppard immediately launched into an attack.

Sheppard was glad it was just a blow job; he wasn't ready to fuck again. And he was glad to see Lorne laughing and enjoying himself. They wound up rolling on the floor, pants at their thighs, trying not to gag on each other's cocks, but neither could seem to resist triggering each other's sweet spots. Sheppard loved it, and he couldn't believe that he loved it. He shouldn't care about this man as much as he did, and he was starting to want things.

"Will you ride a Ferris wheel for me," he asked suddenly, the words muffled by Lorne's cock still half filling his mouth. "When you go to Earth?"

Lorne paused, looking between their bodies, tapping Sheppard's dick thoughtfully on his chin. "If I can find one," he said, sounding confused.

"And I need tapes of all the latest football games," Sheppard continued. He'd ask any other friend to bring those back for him, and Lorne was his friend now. "Oh, and popcorn."

"Sure thing, baby," Lorne laughed, patting him on the ass. "We should finish up. Trippett's coming by sometime soon to coordinate our departure."

John sat up and curled over so that his face was near Lorne's. He squeezed Lorne's hand and rested cheek to cheek.

"Don't call me baby," he whispered threateningly in Lorne's ear.

Lorne laughed at him again, pulling him into a bear hug tackle, and giving his nipples a tweak. Their cocks wagged in the air, clashing as they wrestled, and Sheppard could not stop laughing. He was so glad he'd taken a risk and let himself close to this man.

-ooo-

It had been fifty-one days since Lorne had left for Earth. Sheppard hadn't meant to count them, but the fact that Lorne hadn't come out of his quarters in three days since his return left Sheppard a lot of time to consult his calendar. Theoretically, Lorne should have been back in the swing of things on day forty-nine, and Sheppard had expected some quality fucking to happen on day fifty. But Lorne had circumvented him and gotten Weir to take him off active duty for who knew how long.

It wasn't just about the lack of quality fucking. Lorne was his friend. Or he would be if Sheppard ever found the time and the courage to make it happen. So he took a cold shower and headed to Lorne's quarters, ready to kiss him and hold him, and apologize for not warning him that going home might be a huge mistake.

His hand was poised to key in the lock code, but he rang the chime instead. It was always good to be polite. Lorne answered wearing civilian clothes, and he stood straighter when he saw Sheppard there.

"Sir?"

All the friendly opening lines Sheppard had come up with on the way here suddenly fled. He searched for something—anything to say. "There's a mission next week. I'd like your team on it."

"Yes, sir," Lorne said, not expressing any of his characteristic excitement or curiosity about the world. The mission wasn't made up. Sheppard had been arguing with Weir just that morning that Lorne's team should go, since they'd made first contact on the planet in question. That was how he'd found out about Lorne being off active duty.

"Briefing for it tomorrow," Sheppard said. "Will you be back on duty by them."

Lorne shrugged. It was subtle—the way he slowly brought himself to attention. Irritated by the distance in his expression, Sheppard stalked into the room, letting the door close behind him.

"How was the wedding?" he asked, sitting in the chair by the window, turning it to face the inside of the room.

Lorne's lips parted and he stared at Sheppard. The cool, unaffected aura broke and he sat on the bed, hugging his knees to his chest.

"Didn't go," Lorne finally said, his body wilting with self-disappointment. "Made it to the door and—"

"Family shit?" Sheppard finished. "Damn. I really wanted to fuck."

Lorne huffed a laugh, burying his smile against his knee. Sheppard laughed too. He hadn't meant to say that, and he certainly hadn't meant it to come across so insensitively. The cold shower was wearing off, and Lorne's smile was alluring. Coming to sit behind Lorne on the bed, Sheppard snaked his arms around Lorne's shoulders and licked his earlobe. Lorne laughed again, tilting his face toward Sheppard's tongue.

"How do you do that?" Lorne asked, releasing his legs and relaxing into Sheppard's arms. "You make me forget it all. When there's only you, I can laugh again."

Sheppard hummed against Lorne's skin, feeling a warmth in his belly, growing with the smile on Lorne's face. "I only want one thing from you. I think you find my single-mindedness endearing."

"That I do," Lorne said, laughing again. He sighed as Sheppard kissed down his neck, but then he stood up and walked away. Sheppard was a little disappointed, but he hadn't come here for sex, so he bit his tongue.

"I have some things for you," Lorne said, pulling a stack of pictures from his duffle.

"I'm guessing those aren't wedding pictures," Sheppard said. "Damn, I really wanted to see you dressed up."

Lorne smiled and sat on the bed, nestling into Sheppard's arms again. Sheppard hooked a chin over Lorne's shoulder so they were resting cheek to cheek and they could both see the pictures. It was nice, feeling their bodies pressed together, not worried about being pulled into a headlock or getting roughed up.

"This is a Ferris wheel I found," Lorne said, showing him the first picture. It was a pretty standard wheel, with cylinder seats in every color of the rainbow. Sheppard liked those kinds for the panoramic views.

"And this is me on the Ferris wheel," Lorne said, showing the next picture. It was a crotch shot. Sheppard chuckled and slid his hand over Lorne's belly, forcing himself not to go below the belt.

"This is the popcorn guy," Lorne continued, ignoring Sheppard's wandering hand. "And this is the crate of popcorn being loaded onto the Daedalus."

The crate was huge, and Sheppard got excited by the thought of popcorn and movie nights. Lorne stood again, going back to his suitcase and puttering. Sheppard wondered if the hand was too much, but then Lorne pulled out a giant, clear, plastic bag full of popcorn.

"This is your private stash," he announced. "I hope it hasn't gone stale. I popped it right before I left. Then I have…" he pulled out some video tapes; "every football game so far from this season, all of last season, and a decade highlights. And because our library seemed to be missing this one: The Indiana Jones Trilogy."

Sheppard put his hand over his mouth, then over his heart. He was beyond joyous laughter. Lorne's gifts were more precious than he would ever know, mostly because Sheppard lacked the courage to tell him. Leaping off the bed, Sheppard wrapped himself around Lorne, forcing himself to hug and not hump his friend.

Lorne had no such qualms. He crushed their bodies together, grinding hard, letting the tapes spill onto the floor as he pinned Sheppard to the wall.

"I missed you, baby," Lorne said with a grin, reaching for the buckle on Sheppard's pants.

Sheppard smiled back, snapping their hips together so that Lorne could feel how much he'd missed him. "Don't call me baby."

-ooo-