Distracted, Evan belatedly realized his housekeeper Rosa hadn't heard him come in. A second later, when she turned around a startled eep escaped that was quickly followed by, her breathless, "Oh hello General, you're home early. Is everything alright?"
In his rush to get started, Evan dismissed his housekeeper's scare as he one-handedly took off his jacket, transferring the package from one hand to the other refusing to let it go of the bag maintaining his tight grip, mumbling, "I'm fine."
"Hmm, you don't look very fine. If you'll go sit yourself down, I'll go and get you a drink then fix something for lunch. Hmm, maybe a Ruben sandwich? "
Shaking his head then added a bit harsher than he intended "No don't." Then more softly, "Rosa please, I'm fine. In fact why don't you just take the rest of the day off?" In response, he heard a quiet gasp and knew it had nothing to do with him giving her the day off, but more that he was turning down the opportunity to eat something concocted from her skilled hands; and turning down Rosa was something he'd never done.
This time he looked up, imploring that she'd understand. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to offend, but I got some new paints and I just need to get started."
Relieved Rosa nodded, hiding her smile as she shooed him toward the stairs. "Then go, I won't disturb you. I'll let myself out right after I fix you something. I'll leave it in the fridge; you can heat it up later whenever you get hungry. Now go. I'll see you tomorrow."
Evan didn't argue, but reached out his hand landing on her shoulder silently offering his thanks that she understood.
She nodded, patting his hand before moving toward the kitchen.
Moving up the stairs, Evan's hand gripped the railing, pulling himself forward as he tried to ignore the deep ache in his knees. His heart rate increased as memories surfaced persuading him to move faster.
Years prior they had abandoned Atlantis. In his military career he did what was expected, what he was ordered to do – and left Atlantis, and the Pegasus galaxy. On Earth he threw himself into his work and took mission after mission to forget however not a day had gone by that he hadn't wondered, what if...
Now things were finally in motion, there was no going back. McKay had asked him if this was how it was supposed to be - McKay knew the answer as well as Lorne did. Nothing was right; it hadn't been not since he was forced to leave Atlantis- when he left his heart with another.
It turned out the timing for McKay's quest was apropos and coincided with SG40's return and with his acquisition of paints. Tomorrow, under his orders McKay will dial out to MH-17. There unmonitored he'll be able to secretly dial out in route to Atlantis.
Half way up the stairs Evan saw his reflection in the entryway's mirror – he was old, tried, only a shadow of his former self.
Once he reached the upstairs landing he had to pause in order to catch his breath, his excitement getting the better of him. Then he turned and walked down the hall passing his bedroom toward the studio. Opening the panel he touched several numerical pad keys to unlock the door, a combination that was memorized eons ago. It quickly shut and locked behind him.
Inside he stood there, breathing in the memories as he stared at each mural that covered the four walls. Each wall showcased Atlantis' seasonal beauty – from the dark oceanic sprays of Atlantis' waves crashing against one of the towers in Winter, another depicted its calm water reflecting the luminosity of the moon, a new wall was splattered with burnt reds of its fall sky, the next showcased the clarity on a midday's hot Summer. Although Atlantis's seasons didn't rotate as they did on Earth, or fall into a simple pattern that were easily recognizable, Lorne was grateful he was there long enough to experience each season.
Intersected, hanging on each wall over the murals were canvas paintings. They were all of Atlantis, the city from different viewpoints. Some views were from various docks and balconies, others from puddle jumpers. Then there were portraits of people. Those represented were of those he closest to on Atlantis, who he respected, friends he lived and worked with, and several of whom who had died there. Once the walls were filled, lined up on the floor in stacks, were more paintings.
For all of those that were immortalized and hung on the walls or the paintings that were stacked knee deep against the wall and decorated on various easels throughout the room - none were more predominant than the paintings of the warrior, his teammate, friend, and lover Ronon Dex.
They hadn't been together for very long before things changed – when Sheppard disappeared.
From the beginning, once Ronon realized they weren't the enemy, there was an easy camaraderie between them. It was slow to start, but at some point it turned almost flirtatious. As Atlantis' military force he was obligated to follow most of Earth's military protocols, including DADT policies. Within the first week as Sheppard SiC he quickly learned that Sheppard also prescribed to the policy of What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and adapted it to Pegasus.
Still Evan struggled. Once he acknowledged it, he tried to put a stop to whatever it was between them and started to distance himself from Ronon. Although nothing had happened between them, he couldn't allow a fling to destroy his career. Ronon didn't understand the DADT policy, but he respected his decision – at least that's what Evan thought at the time.
It wasn't until later, under the ruse of a mission when he had escorted Ronon to a planet on what Evan thought was a business trade.
Once they arrived on MG-H17, he quickly discovered he was actually on leave with a seventy-two hour pass, and Ronon left him no doubt what his intentions actually were. To say he was shocked would have been a gross understatement. Then it hit him that Sheppard had to of known the truth and had done more than turn just a blind eye at Ronon's request for his leave.
Stepping forward, to the center of the room, Evan gripped the drop cloth and pulled it off of the large easel to reveal a full sketch of Ronon that was partially painted.
It was a depiction of Ronon in the meadow, sprawled out on his back. The look of pure delight and satisfaction reflected within his eyes, as he looked up into Evan's face. Ronon was overt and met his gaze head-on, the declaration of his love clear. At the time Evan didn't see it or want to see it, to deal or acknowledge their growing love for what it was.
That first day on leave, it had taken several drinks just to calm him down. Especially after discovering that the planet was known for new partners, Pegasus' version of some kind of Honeymoon resort. Half in the bag, he had started a running commentary that McKay might have been proud of. Ronon wasn't much for arguing - at least not verbally. With Ronon everything was physical. Though he started it, first pushing, then it built up to him punching Ronon – begging for a response. He got it. Next thing he knew, he was on his back, Ronon's body laid over his, easily showcasing his dominance.
He vaguely remembers struggling. Ronon waited. Whether it was because of the alcohol, or his subconscious it was a short wait. He remembers blurting out, "What the fuck do you want?"
He's not sure, but he thinks Ronon told him, yeah just before he kissed him. That started a new struggle, this time it was one they both wanted as Ronon aggressively fucked him into the proverbial mattress. At some point that night he finally relented and stopped blushing whenever he thought about his CO knowing about him - them.
On the second day, they actually got out of bed to find something to eat. They decided to go out and hike toward the settlement. It was beautiful. Everything around them was lush, vibrant, beauty unspoiled. They had only walked a klick before he dropped to his knees and took Ronon right there in the middle of a meadow. He ended up gagging, it had been his first attempt to deep throat - by the end of the weekend he had made progress, but still hadn't achieve the depth he wanted. Together they had agreed he needed to practice, a lot. Later that day he tried again, but not until after Ronon slowly showed Evan how skilled and practiced he was.
Their three-day leave had gone by too fast, but each moment was permanently etched into Evan's mind. The truth was he didn't need the paintings to remember the warmth of waking up under the weight of Ronon's body, or how sore and empty he felt the first time – or to vividly recall the last time they were together. Nor did he need a reminder of his eagerness to have Ronon fill and take him again.
His memories that weekend are filled with Ronon's fearlessness to open up, to go after what he wanted, his willingness to be in the moment – that Ronon gave everything, didn't waste time and demanded next to nothing, only that Evan meet him half way. Ronon tried to tell Evan he needed to grab a hold of life, to take what was offered whenever you could that there might not be a tomorrow. Evan certainly understood the sentiment. He had lived more than half of his military life under the threat of war, always near the battlefield, but those experiences paled under the losses Ronon had to endure.
Evan was sure if he had been in Ronon's place – he would have lost his mind just before taking a bullet to end it all.
That weekend before they returned to Atlantis, Evan sat mesmerized as Ronon marked himself. Using a mirror he tattooed another Sateda symbol on his chest, a circle within a ring. Ronon had explained it was Sateda's way to declare one's importance. To Evan it sounded something like what a promise ring or engagement ring meant. When Ronon finished, Evan shocked himself when he asked Ronon if he was going mark him as well. Ronon didn't say anything only nodded. Ronon's hand held steady as he slowly guided the needle into his skin, marking a matching symbol over his chest. Afterward he added a salve, gently rubbing it into his swollen skin. When Ronon's fingers didn't stop Evan looked up. Only to see Ronon's smile stretched out into a ridiculous grin. He caught Ronon's eyes, then knocked his fingers away, and proceeded to push, knocking them to the bed. It was a declaration of Ronon's importance to him, and that afternoon away from everyone else, Evan willingly accepted.
It was shortly after their return to Atlantis when everything changed.
He was only starting to grasp what Ronon's mark really meant – by the time he did it was too late.
He understands it now; initially it was what kept him going – that he always had a part of Ronon with him.
Years later on a mission to rescue Vala was when Evan discovered paints that could alter realities by a painter's hand, and he actually saw the paints in action. What they did was extraordinary, opening a window to a dream, another reality. It quickly became his dream, a possibility to somehow fix it, to once more be in Ronon's arms.
It wasn't easy and had taken him over ten years of searching throughout the galaxies to acquire enough paints.
Slowly he emptied the bag, placing ten small jars beside the other five empty on the stand set by the easel. The array of colors spanned his imagination. He finally had enough to finish the painting.
It was ironic, and didn't matter what McKay did. Tomorrow if McKay succeeds, none of this would have happened and Evan will be with Ronon - if McKay fails, is somehow stopped, dies in the attempt, it still wouldn't matter, not now that he has the paints to complete what he started. Either way within a few hours he'll be with Ronon.
His hands trembled as he started to unscrew the jars. He didn't have a lot of time and needed to finish it tonight before McKay had a chance to dial out in the morning. In this time-line he needed to be with Ronon one last time.
Hours crept by while he worked meticulously finishing the background before he was able to start sketching his own body lying next to Ronon's body. Once he finished the sketch Evan picked up his brush and dipped the tip inside a jar before scraping the excess paint off the jars edge.
The color seemed dull and lackluster until it hit the canvas. One soft brushstroke and it shimmered, expanded turning into a vibrant hue, its color changing before his eyes. The stench of the paint was different from anything Evan worked with before. Its compound undecipherable and he didn't have to be told its fumes were dangerous, he could tell with each breath. How difficult it was to draw a breath, the increased pain in his fingers that stretched out to every limb of his body - aching.
He squinted, moving in closer to view his work. Mentally and physically he was pushing his body. Biting his lower lip, his eyes dull and clouded over. He felt out of sync, that he was there in the room, but not.
The aura of the room was alive, molecules felt tangible, he could almost taste the static electricity – the coming storm was here. Only the energy was around him, in the body of the painting, but the feeling of his body was weighted. He pushed through as if he was running a marathon, his heart racing. One hand held the other as he continued to paint, his heart singing a mantra he had to, had to be with Ronon again – it had to work.
One bottle after another he used finishing using every drop. By the last jar, he was nearly blind; the paintings image ingrained within Evan's mind. He held the canvas' edge, his cheek pressed against the painting squinting to see. Drops of the paint hit the tips of his fingers, the skin scorched like acid to bone. The pain rippled throughout his body knocking him and the painting to the floor. Crashing with him was the easel followed by the small stand and the cluttering of jars.
Failure seized Evan's heart he couldn't open his eyes. He screwed up, fell destroying everything; he didn't finish... if McKay doesn't fix it...
Though that did nothing to ease his mind, not when he had wanted this Ronon, his Ronon to know, but that was never going to happen.
"You plan on opening those baby blues, or you going to keep pretending to be sleep?"
Evan's head snapped toward the voice. Instead of opening his eyes he winced and squeezed them shut, fear and adrenaline controlling his actions. Though he couldn't look, afraid it'd only confirm he was going mad though he couldn't resist and asked, "Baby blues? Yeah right."
"Okay, I'll give you that. It was McKay's expression, but it fits." He felt lips against his, a tongue pressing over and in-between his lips trying to pry them apart. The tip of his phantom lover's tongue slid into his mouth, the taste, the smell, it was one he remembered and knew. Needing more he opened his mouth wider, but those familiar lips pulled away. Evan tasted his heated breath hovering over his lips and basked in what had to be dream one he never wanted to wake from. "It's been a long time, too long. Open your eyes Evan, this... it's not a dream."
Nervous laughter bubbled forward, "Yeah no, I don't think so. I like this dream and want it to stay that way. Once I open my eyes you'll disappear, and it'll just be another nightmare."
"Fine if that's the way you want it." He felt the phantom body shift, his head moving over his body. His nose pressed against his neck trailing it over and downward. Evan felt a wet tongue slick a trail across his chest, their mouth opened over his nipple, hovering. Suddenly teeth clamped over the nub pulling until he yelped in pleasurable pain, his eyes flying open in shock.
The first thing he saw was the stock of dark hair. Suddenly it was Ronon looking down at him, his smile wide and lopsided. Ronon tilted his head, and from the new angle the sun hit Evan's eyes.
Blinking against the sun's glare unable to believe what he was seeing. He was young, lying on his side beside Ronon in the same meadow he had painted. He closed his eyes then opened them again - it didn't change and Ronon was still there.
Ronon leaned forward and nipped at his lip. "It worked. You did it."
"Does it matter? In here, we're together."
Smiling, Evan's hand cupped Ronon's neck and pulled him down. "Together. I'll never leave you again."
"General, are you there Sir? General Lorne, please answer...."
Just ahead of him Lorne could hear McKay asking Sheppard if he still had hair, and bites back a laugh when Sheppard says no. Though they were in a time constraint to find Teyla, John told him had made it to General, that he helped McKay so he could get back.
He was pleased he could help McKay. Even enjoyed hearing he made General. Knowing that at he had achieved what he had strived for years to have, a successful military career. But after his initial reaction, and realized he left Ronon behind that Ronon died without him. From the moment he heard, his fingers repeatedly caressed over the tattoo Ronon had marked on his chest.
He caught Ronon's gaze, and knew once they had Teyla back safe, they were going to be spending a few days together, getting reacquainted. In this time-line, although they were together just last night somehow it wasn't enough, it would never be enough.
Evan didn't know what he'd have to do, but willingly leaving Ronon's side... No it wasn't going to happen - not in this lifetime.
Summary: Au of the episode of: S4's Last Man Standing. What Lorne goes through to get back to Ronon.