Seven Minutes Out

Major Sheppard is reporting the drone appears to have been incapacitated. General O'Neill's helicopter is unharmed and on its way again. Seven minutes out.

Sheppard's reaching for the controls when a gloved hand reaches out to tap him on the arm.

"Wait," O'Neill says, his voice crackling in Sheppard's ears. "Take a minute."

"I'm fine, sir." He's not. He's got snow all over him, and he's still dealing with the rollercoaster ride of the last five minutes.

The general's gaze slip-slides sideways and down and he's staring right into Sheppard's lap, for fuck's sake, where the full, hard swell of his dick is nicely hidden in one hell of a lot of layers of baggy, thick material. No way he knows, no way.

"Used to happen to me. Not any more, of course."

"You're not that old." The words play back in his head, and it's too late to add a 'sir' and, really, would it help? He's fucked. So very, very fucked.

O'Neill's mouth twitches in a tight grimace that might, just might, pass for a smile if you were terminally optimistic.

Sheppard isn't. Not when it comes to superior officers being lenient and understanding, anyway.

"Old enough not to get a kick out of nearly dying," O'Neill says finally. "And like I said; it's not something new for me. Happens all the time. Not so much now I'm flying a desk, but enough. I got like that --" he nodded down, "every time, I'd have a problem, now wouldn’t I?"

Sheppard can think of a solution to that particular problem, one that's always been available to him no matter where he was stationed, but he wasn't sent to Antarctica for being suicidal, so he doesn't share it with the general.

And, really, the man has to know as well as Sheppard does, that there's always a willing, discreet, helping hand (or mouth, or hole) around, especially after a mission where some of you didn't come back, and those of you that did had still left something behind, in the empty blue sky.

"It's not a good way to be," O'Neill tells him flatly. "You don't need to be scared of dying, but you shouldn't fall in love with it either. It's really not that much fun, take it from me. And you're too damn good a pilot to lose, so get this piece of junk in the air, and get me to where I'm supposed to be. I'm keeping people waiting."

He does just that, his hands steady, his body back under control again. And he watches O'Neill as he walks towards a geek with glasses, greeting him like they go back a long way, and wonders how O'Neill knows death well enough to dismiss it like that.

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