A/N: Written for ShaViva's Birthday. This is about as close as I can get to giving you Lorne for your birthday, Sha. Happy Birthday!
I did review this chapter repeatedly, but I'm sure I missed something. All errors are my own.
Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Stargate Atlantis or any of its wonderful characters.
Spoilers: None really.
Major Evan Lorne took a steadying breath to calm his nerves. This was ridiculous. There was no reason to be this anxious about anything. Even still, he ran his palms against his pant legs for good measure. It had been a conversation not meant for his ears a week ago, that had put him in this situation…
Evan plopped his tray down on the table in the mess hall with little care. He was exhausted and eating a quick meal was the only thing keeping him from his bed. It had been a hard and grueling mission today, on a planet whose temps had been hovering at about a hundred degrees for most of the day.
His team had headed off to eat while he'd had to give a briefing to Woolsey first. Lorne had seriously regretted being the team leader for a few minutes when his team had given him a weak salute and headed toward the mess hall, leaving him standing in the gate room feeling abandoned.
Now as he sat in the nearly empty mess hall he found he didn't have the motivation to finish his half eaten meal. On the other hand though, he wasn't sure he had the energy to get up, bus his tray and walk to his room. He opened his second bottle of water and chugged half, deciding to sit for just a few more minutes.
A couple of tables to his left sat a group of women who seemed to be planning a "girl's night" from what he could tell. While over by the entrance, two men were finishing up their meal and looked to be cleaning up the table, preparing to leave. The only other occupant of the mess hall was a man he recognized as one of the gate technicians, reading a book while he absently picked at his food.
The Major finished up his water and placed the container on his tray in preparation for leaving when the girl's conversation peaked his curiosity with a single word, or in this case, name… Jennifer. He leaned back in his chair to eaves drop for just a couple more minutes.
Just last week Jennifer had left a card in his room wishing him a happy birthday. Although she hadn't actually signed the card he knew it had been from her. He'd thought he'd made it through that day with no one being the wiser to the fact that it was his birthday. He had to say that if someone had to know it was his birthday, he wasn't upset it'd been her.
"So Friday after work instead of our poker game." The redhead looked at the nurse, Marie, for confirmation.
"Yes, since her birthday isn't until Saturday, she won't see it coming," Marie confirmed with a grin as she gathered her tray and stood.
"I can't wait," the shorter woman to Marie's left chimed in. "I know for a fact she doesn't think anyone knows her birthday is coming up."
"Well, if she finds out, we'll all know it's you who gave it away." Marie laughed, pushing her chair in.
"Hey," the shorter woman instantly cried, pushing her own chair in before gathering her tray, "that hurts."
The redhead laughed as she started to walk away, "We love you girl, but you are our weakest link."
Marie patted the friend's shoulder, "I have faith in you, Starla, but maybe try not to spend too much time around Jennifer this week."
Evan couldn't hear what Starla grumbled as she walked away with Marie, but he wasn't really paying that much attention. His mind was already playing with an idea he was warming to quickly...
Acquiring a birthday card in Atlantis was no easy task and without sufficient notice, there really was no way to procure one from Earth. Not that he'd want to raise such speculation by actually trying to requisition one. He was a man of a few talents though and was proud of the solution he'd employed.
Picking the subject matter had been difficult, but once he'd settled on a night view of Atlantis, the sketching had been quite enjoyable. He'd forgotten how much he enjoyed sketching. Since coming to Atlantis he hadn't had much time to be creative and when he did find time he'd spent it painting on large canvases. This smaller format had actually been fun and he'd promised himself he'd do a few more when time permitted.
Lorne gave the card one more scrutinizing look before slipping it gently between his button down flannel shirt and the navy blue t-shirt he wore beneath. Safely secured out of sight and in no danger of being bent or damaged, Lorne had no other excuse but to actually get on with delivering the card.
Evan had barely taken a few steps from his room when a familiar sound at the end of the hall caught his attention. With only a whisper of a hesitation in his step when he saw Marie, Lorne continued toward the transporter, a warm smile at the ready.
"Good evening, Marie."
"Good evening to you too, Major."
Lorne nodded his head with a smile as they drew almost even with each other.
"Date?" she asked, pausing on her way to her crew quarters.
"What?" Evan asked, not quite understanding the question. He'd admit that he wasn't paying proper attention, his mind on the card hidden in his shirt.
"You look like your heading out on a date, all spiffed up."
"Don't let my guys hear you say that. You'll just get them going," he said with an exasperated sigh. "They're always speculating on my personal life."
"Ah, they just want to see you happy."
He grinned at the sincere smile she gave him, but felt the need to set her straight. "More likely bored."
"Possibly," she conceded with a laugh as she turned and walked away from him, "though I did notice you didn't deny you had a date."
Evan opened his mouth to do just that, but he saw Marie hold up her hand to halt him without missing a step or turning back around. He shook his head with a chuckle as he resumed walking toward the transporter. He really needed to get this card delivered. It'd seemed like a perfect plan at the beginning of the week, but now he was thinking there were probably better ways to get a woman's attention.
Evan approached Jennifer's door cautiously, the adrenaline of the moment pounding in his ears. This was ridiculous. He should just ask the woman out on a date. Surely that wouldn't be as nerve racking as he was finding this task to be.
With a quick look up and down the corridor to assure himself no one was observing him, he slipped the card from between his shirts. He gave one last look at the front before turning it over and reading his words.
Hope this brightens your birthday as much as your card brightened mine.
He hadn't bothered to sign the card. Jennifer would know who it was from. He inhaled deeply before stooping down and sliding the card under her door.
He wouldn't say he had a moment of regret, but he did stand in front of her door, staring at it with his breath held, wondering what he had just done. There was no going back now though, the deed was done. He took another fortifying breath and turned toward the transporter. He wasn't sure what happened next, but obviously it was something he needed to figure out.
He was only a few steps away from Dr. Keller's door when he heard it open behind him. The sound stilling him in his tracks, he didn't want to turn around. Maybe it wasn't her door that had opened. He should just continue down the corridor. The transporter stood at the end of the hallway practically mocking him and the distance he still needed to transverse before he was home free.
Evan heard the quiet, but unmistakable voice behind him and knew he was busted.
"Good evening, Dr. Keller," he greeted her when he turned around. He watched her glance down at the card, her gaze lingering there before looking back at him.
"Did you umm…" she halted her question, looking back down at the card in her hand before stumbling on, "of course you did. Umm... thank you."
Unsure of what to say, Lorne took the few steps back to Jennifer's door. "Happy Birthday."
"This is beautiful."
Her praise was filled with such awe, he couldn't help but feel a bit of pride. "Thank you," he responded simply.
"Did you make this?"
"Yes, ma'am," he said with grin, tickled that she liked it. "A few days ago in fact."
"It really is amazing," she commented, finally looking up at Evan. He noted the high color on her cheeks and found that it pleased him immensely.
"Well, I thought I would reciprocate. Didn't think you'd actually be in your room though," he admitted with a chuckle.
"Sorry about that," she apologized with a laugh. Evan was about to ask her if she'd had a good birthday, but the straightening of her stance gave him warning that she was about to bid him goodbye. Before he could respond, she spoke in a more formal voice. "I should let you get on with your evening. Thank you again, Major. It's beautiful."
He noticed the formality… the distancing she seemed to be employing. "You're welcome, Jennifer," he responded, purposely bringing the situation back to a personal one.
He watched her smile of acceptance and small nod. "Good night, Evan."
Lorne grinned at the doctor, "Good night," he replied with a mischievous wink before turning to leave.
It only took one step to realize he didn't want to go. "Doc," he began, turning back around.
"Do you want to go to movie night or maybe a walk with me sometime? Dinner even?"
She may have looked surprised, but she also looked happy at the invitation. "Sure. Tonight?"
"Umm… yeah." He hadn't been expecting her to agree quite so readily. "Tonight would be nice. It is your birthday though, so I understand if you want to spend it with friends or in some other way."
"Are you reneging?" she teased him, and he found he liked this side of her.
"No. Since you're the birthday girl, you get to pick which you'd like to do."
"Then I pick all three. A quick meal in the mess hall, then the movie, although we'll be a bit late… and then you can walk me home?"
This night was shaping up to be an actual date. He wondered if it would include a goodnight kiss at her door. He shook his head slightly to dislodge the image. "I'd be honored," he assured her. He turned so he was facing the transporter and crooked his arm for her to take. "Shall we begin?"
With a quick smile she shut her door and looped her arm through his. "You realize if we're seen anywhere in this city arm in arm, that people will talk."
"Not going to bother me, Doc."
"Me either," she agreed with an answering grin.
"Happy Birthday, Jennifer."
"Thank you, Evan."