by Nel (pretty coverart by the kickass Danvers)

Rating: R
Category: Angst, action/adventure, humor, first time
Pairing: Sheppard/McKay
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Spoilers: Some for Sanctuary, but nothing really revealing and really vague ones for Rising.
Summary: Rodney goes online and John has bad dreams. A story wherein no new confidence in the Ancients is found, but new stuff is.
Author's Notes: This story started out so easy to write, but was more like pulling teeth in the end. Hopefully, both of these things worked to make it better.

So so many thank you's to Danvers and Suz.

Without Danvers, this story wouldn't have been finished until sometime next year and it wouldn't have been half as good. She made the bad stuff good and the good stuff better. Thanks to her, I don't think I've ever enjoyed writing something as much as I enjoyed writing this.

Suz, my darling, my hamburger. She read through this in one go, shredded it so beautifully with her pretty red pen and made me all happy. Nothing like someone catching all the small things that you totally missed yourself. You kick so much ass.


”Rodney,” John says slowly, patiently, carefully moving closer, “you have to get out of that thing.”

Rodney smiles at him, crazily. “Why? This is the best thing that’s ever happened to us.”

“It’s killing you,” he moves a little closer, “I don’t think that’s a good thing.”

Rodney shakes his head, words tumbling over each other in his rush to say them. “Nononono, don’t you understand? This is just the beginning. When we get out of here, I could, I could build impenetrable defenses for Atlantis that wouldn’t require ZPMs. I could build weapons like you’ve never *imagined*.” His face is almost ecstatic. “I could destroy the Wraith.”

“McKay,” John says through gritted teeth, more afraid for Rodney than he’s ever been before, “you’ll die.”

Rodney tilts his head to the side. “No, Major. I’ll be immortal.”


Atlantis, 2100 hours (24 hours earlier)

“So, you found another chair,” John stated.

“Not just another chair,” Rodney said eagerly.

“A *different* chair,” Zelenka enthused, looking excited.

John studied it. “Different how?”

Rodney made a face. “Well, we don’t know-“

“Yet,” Zelenka added.

“-but we think that it could be something big.”

It appeared slightly different, now that he looked more closely. Wires ran down the sides of it and the head-rest had a kind of shade attached to it. It also lacked the more decorative patterns that the Ancients seemed to love putting on everything.

“It looks unfinished.”

“Well, we think that the basics are done, but that they were adding functions to it. They probably went to Earth before they had time to finish it,” Zelenka said as Rodney punched something into the pad he was carrying.

John quirked an eyebrow. “You two seem to ‘think’ a whole lot of things.”

“Everything is a theory until you have facts to back it up, Major,” Rodney said in annoyance. “Give us a few hours and we’ll know what we’re dealing with.”

“Okay,” John said agreeably. “Let me know if you find anything interesting.”

“Yes, of course,” Rodney mumbled absently, turning his back to him.

John rolled his eyes and walked out.


It was the same dream he’d had for over a week. It was as it always was; he knew he was dreaming but that wasn’t enough to wake him up, no matter how much he tried.

He looked up through the dark and misty world of water, looked up and longed for the sunlight he could see filtered through the cool mass swirling around him.

Then he suddenly broke the surface, gasping in a lungful of air even though he’d had no trouble breathing underneath the water.

He looked around frantically and there she was. He shouldn’t have been able to see all of her from where he was treading water, but somehow he did.

She was magnificent, no lack of energy limiting her. She *glowed* where she lay on the surface and he knew that that he was seeing her in her full glory, the way she was *meant* to be.

Then the change in him started. He could feel his limbs starting to stiffen even as he began swimming towards her, his lungs not accepting the air he inhaled, his heart ceasing to beat. He opened his mouth to scream, but his vocal cords had already turned into something else.

He closed his eyes, trying to fight it, trying to breathe, move, shout; anything.

When he opened his eyes again, he saw everything.


He woke up with a gasp and somehow it was reassuring. Gasping meant breathing; he was still himself. In the small moment between dream and consciousness he always expected to wake up and be different. Something else.

He rubbed a hand across his face and turned on the lights with his mind. He reached for War and Peace on his bedside table, settling in to read the last hours before dawn.

He always woke up at the same time and if the dreams hadn’t been freaking him out so much, that would have. As it was now, he opened the book and started reading page forty-five. At least he was keeping up with his schedule.


Atlantis, 0710 hours (13 hours and 50 minutes earlier)

Rodney plopped down on the chair opposite the Major in the mess hall, putting his tray down with a bang and sighing deeply. He eyed the Major. “Where did you get that?”

Sheppard pulled the headphones down from his ears to his neck and smiled. “Grodin borrowed them to me.”

Rodney’s eyes narrowed as he heard the tinny music faintly coming from them. He thoughtfully studied the Mp3 player lying on the table. “Is that ABBA?”

The Major’s smile widened happily. “Yeah.”

Rodney took a bite of his scrambled eggs. “Huh.”

“Up all night?” The Major studied Rodney’s face and Rodney had an inane wish that he’d shaved before coming here.

He took another bite of his breakfast, trying to look alert and not like he hadn’t slept in way too many hours. “What gave it away?”

The Major’s smile seemed almost fond. “Your lack of scathing comments about ABBA.”

“I like ABBA,” Rodney objected, not quite sighing in bliss as he took his first mouthful of coffee.

The Major seemed surprised. “You do.”

“Sure,” Rodney smiled. “Pretty blonde. Not short hair, but she didn’t need it. She was gorgeous anyway.”

Major Sheppard smirked. “I bet you don’t even know her name.”

Rodney didn’t stop smiling, nostalgia gripping him almost forcefully. “Of course I do. Agnetha. Such an exotic name.” He sighed. “My first crush.”

The Major rolled his eyes, but he still shut off the Mp3 player; to preserve batteries or in order to listen to Rodney, Rodney wasn’t sure.

“What about you?” he asked.

“What about me?”

“You look like I feel,” Rodney said, taking a bite of his sandwich and trying not to be too obvious as he studied the Major’s tired face. The Major did usually look ridiculously relaxed, but his eyes were a little red and his smile seemed wan.

The Major made a face. “Freaky dreams. I suspect yesterday’s dinner. Have you figured out the chair yet?”

Rodney perked up. “It’s fascinating, we think that it, or something similar, was used to build large parts of the city.”

Major Sheppard frowned. “They used a chair to build the city?”

Momentarily forgetting about the food, Rodney put the sandwich down. “We still haven’t been able to translate the database we found about it, but we think that once they got the Atlantis main frame running, they constructed the chair and whoever sat in it got linked directly to Atlantis and possibly some sort of building drones.”

“Then how come there aren’t any of those still around?”

“Zelenka theorizes that they were all dispatched to the warships in the fight against the Wraith in order to speed up repairs, and,” Rodney added a bit reluctantly, “I think he could be right.” He couldn’t believe he hadn’t thought of it first.

The Major looked interested. “So, can we use it? Does it still work?”

“We haven’t got that far yet, we're just trying to figure out how it works so far. Funny you should bring that up, we were hoping we could get someone to sit in it.” Rodney looked expectantly at the Major and had to suppress the urge to smile winningly. God, he had it bad. Since when did he try and *ask* people to do things?

“How flattering that you thought about me for your experimenting,” the Major said slowly, the gratitude seeming so genuine. Rodney shivered slightly. The sarcasm was just so *good*.

Rodney smirked. “We have to use whatever talents you have.”

Something glinted in the Major’s eyes and he leaned over the table towards Rodney. “Oh, you have no idea how talented I am, Rodney.”

Rodney swallowed hard and tried to ignore the urge to rub his suddenly sweaty palms against his pants. “We’ll have to check with Elizabeth first, of course,” he babbled, “but I don’t think she’ll have a problem with this.”

The Major tilted his head a little, still looking at Rodney with that look in his eyes, a strange little smile at the corners of his mouth. Then he nodded and leaned back again. “Let’s go talk to Dr Weir then.”

Rodney carefully let out the breath he’d been holding and gulped down the last of his coffee before they stood and prepared to leave.


Atlantis, 0830 (12 hours and 30 minutes earlier)

“I’ll be back before you even know I’m gone,” John assured him as they walked towards the jumper bay.

Rodney didn’t look convinced. “It’ll take me no time at all to translate more of the database, enough for Elizabeth to be satisfied of its safety, and then you’ll be off on the mainland, watching potatoes grow.”

John rolled his eyes. “It’s just a drop-off of some supplies.”

Rodney didn’t reply, he just let out an annoyed burst of breath. The uncommon lack of a snappy retort made John look closer at him. He looked tired, lines around his eyes deep with fatigue and more than a hint of darkness beneath them.

“This is really important to you, isn’t it?”

Rodney looked unimpressed. “Whatever gave you that strange idea, Major? Oh, maybe the fact that this might be the best chance of defeating the Wraith that we’ve had so far and it’s right under our *noses*?”

“Well, the Ancients had it as well, and they didn’t do so good,” John pointed out.

“They were under constant attack, the Wraith destroying anything new almost the moment it was completed. We need to do something now *before* we’re under attack.”

They stopped in front of the doors to the jumper bay. “I see your point,” John said.

“Oh, thank you, Major, now I can die a happy man.” Rodney almost smiled.

John grinned back at him before sobering. “But I see Dr Weir’s point, too. We really should make sure we know what we’re doing before trying that thing. Knowledge is power.”

“Fine, fine,” Rodney waved his hands and turned to leave, “go run your milk errand and I’ll save Atlantis. Say ‘hi’ to the potatoes for me,” he said over his shoulder.

John shook his head, but he was still smiling as he walked into his puddle jumper.


Atlantis, 0915 (11 hours and 45 minutes earlier)

“What were they on when they wrote this?” Rodney complained. “Crack?”

Radek rubbed his neck tiredly. “That sounds like a good plan.”

Rodney looked at him. “What have you got so far?”

"Well, so far 'the chair on which the great city was built is mighty'.” He looked thoughtful. “Or 'the city has a chair which is mighty great'."

Rodney rolled his eyes. "Well, I think we can disregard the last one since John Wayne probably didn't have a hand in building Atlantis."

Radek nodded. "The way he walked, I am not sure he could swim."

"All the riding," Rodney said, nodding sagely.

Zelenka looked skeptical. "Of course."

Rodney closed his laptop. “This is going nowhere. I propose we pick the chair to pieces and figure it out that way.”

“Here here,” Zelenka said fervently, closing his own laptop. “Perhaps we should give the database to Dr. Harris.”

Rodney shrugged. “Sure, she can probably make more sense of it, once she gets past that ‘look at that verb, that’s beautiful’ phase.” He pulled open a console at the side of the chair and studied the crystals inside.

“You give it to her, though.” Zelenka squatted down on the opposite side of the chair, opening a console of his own. “The last time she spoke to me she was going on about Shakespeare and how she’d love to give me English lessons.” He peered at Rodney over the armrest. “Do you think my English is bad?”

“Please,” Rodney snorted, “your English is better than the English of all the Americans combined.”

Radek smiled and pulled out a crystal. They worked in silence for several minutes before Zelenka said, “It’s been very quiet lately.”

Rodney didn’t look up. “What has?”

“Things. You know, no viruses, no alien clouds, no Genii. Quiet.”

Rodney looked up. “Huh.”


“That probably means something will happen soon.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Um, Atlantis? Galaxy filled with life-sucking aliens? When is it ever quiet here?”

Zelenka made a face. “Good point.”

“Not so good, really,” Rodney muttered and pulled out another crystal.

“No, I suppose not,” Zelenka agreed and went back to work.


Atlantis mainland, 0955 (11 hours and 5 minutes earlier)

“Well,” John said, walking towards the puddle jumper with Teyla. “That was interesting.”

She smiled at him. “Then I am certain you will find the actual ceremony even more interesting.”

“That wasn’t the wedding ceremony?” he asked warily.

“No,” she said, “that was just the celebration before the wedding.”

“Wow,” John said, impressed. “Yes, then I’ll definitely find the ceremony interesting. They were very…hyper.”

Her smile was a little sad. “The cause for celebration is so rare. Every opportunity is a cherished one.”

He studied her. “Do you miss it?”

She looked at him in surprise. “They are my people,” she said with a nod, as if that answered everything.

“You know,” he said slowly, looking down and adjusting his radio which didn’t need adjusting, “you could spend more time on the mainland. I mean, if you want to.”

“Atlantis is where I can be of more use,” she said, calm and matter-of-fact.

He looked at her. “Well, Atlantis isn’t exactly boring, but we don’t have parties like your people do.”

She smiled again, the sadness fading away. “I am not so sure of that. The Atlanteans are quite amusing when they have consumed some quantity of alcohol.”

“Thank you,” he said, overly sincerely, and her smile widened.

“Also,” she added, “perhaps Atlantis has become home too.”

“I’m glad,” he said softly.

“Now, Major” she said as they stopped outside the jumper, “perhaps you will allow Sergeant Stackhouse to fly home so that you can rest.”

He opened his mouth to say something, then closed it. “I look that bad?”

“I would not say bad,” she said diplomatically, which meant that most likely he looked like a mess, “but you seem as though you could use some sleep.”

He shook his head ruefully.


Atlantis, 1002 (10 hours and 58 minutes earlier)

“We should just try it,” Rodney said, breaking the silence.

Zelenka didn’t look up from his laptop. “Dr Weir told us not to.”

“Yeah, but if we just do it, there’s not a lot she can do about it, is there?”

Radek looked at him, eyes narrowed. “Which is probably why she told us not to, so that we wouldn’t.”

Rodney shook his head in frustration.

“Why are you so impatient about this, Rodney?”

“Because we’re wasting time,” he snapped. “We should be using this, making things, building a defense. Time isn’t exactly something we have a lot of.”

Radek nodded. “And if we do not know how to use it, would not that also be a waste of time?”

Rodney started pacing, waving away Radek’s words. “Someone could learn by using it while someone else continued to study it.”

He could feel Radek’s thoughtful eyes on him as he paced, but the other man didn’t say anything. Finally Rodney turned to him, snapping, “What?”

“I am just trying to pinpoint the exact moment you turned irrational.”


It was the same dream, which he supposed was a good thing as it meant that at least he was sleeping.

He tried looking around instead of up, despite the unpleasant feeling that something else might come towards him through the dark water, but it wasn’t long before his head turned upwards again.

He gasped in air as he broke the surface and marveled over Atlantis’ beauty as she shone like a diamond.

Catching movement in the corner of his eye, he frowned. The dream wasn’t supposed to change. It never changed.

He turned his head away from Atlantis and half expected to see a giant shark coming towards him, ploughing through the water with its ugly mouth opening to devour him.

Instead he saw that something was floating at the surface of the ocean. His eyes widened.

It was a body, floating face down.


Atlantis, 1005 (10 hours and 55 minutes earlier)

“I’m not being irrational!”

“You’re making up reasons for doing something and acting like they make perfect sense; I think that counts as irrational.”

“They *do* make sense, you’re the irrational one.”

Radek looked concerned. “Are you alright, Rodney?”

“Apparently not, seeing as I’m *irrational*.”


“Fine, I’ll prove it to you!” And he sat down in the chair.


Puddle jumper 3, 1005 (10 hours and 55 minutes earlier)

John woke up with a gasp. “Increase speed, we need to get back to Atlantis.”

Stackhouse looked alarmed. “Sir?”

“Do it. I’ll explain later.”

With that he hailed Atlantis.


Atlantis, 1020 (10 hours and 40 minutes earlier)

“Correct me if I’m wrong,” he said slowly, “but weren’t you supposed to *wait*?”

Rodney looked impatient. “It went fine, didn’t it?”

The chair was glowing blue, the light pulsing slightly. John had to admit that things seemed to be going fine, but he couldn't shake the feeling of dread he'd had ever since he'd woken up.

As he’d hailed Atlantis, he’d known the moment Dr Weir’s voice came through the speakers, tight with anger, he’d just *known* that Rodney had sat down in the chair, the arrogant idiot. Dr Weir told him that Dr Zelenka had raised the alarm straight away and that Dr Beckett was there right now.

She didn’t have to say it, but he knew that she hadn’t gone there yet. Her philosophy was that not a lot of good things came out of anger, and he was willing to bet that she was pretty pissed off at the moment.

“How did you know, Major?” Teyla had asked as Atlantis grew larger in their sights.

He remembered the dream, remembered Atlantis, remembered the feeling of longing he’d felt even through the panic of his transformation.

The body floating next to him in the water.

“Just a hunch, I guess,” he’d lied.

Now, Zelenka was sitting on a box next to John, tapping on his laptop, face closed off. John had a feeling Rodney hadn’t consulted him either before activating the chair. Ford was standing at the door, looking carefully blank and Teyla was seated on another box across the room, studying Rodney. Dr Beckett had attached some electrodes to Rodney’s forehead and was looking at readings on machines John wasn’t entirely certain how he’d gotten all the way over here.

“Hey,” John frowned, looking at the crystals lying next to the chair and the wires hanging out of open consoles, “are you sure it’s working the way it’s supposed to? You removed stuff.”

“As we don’t know how it *is* supposed to work,” Dr Zelenka said frostily, glaring at Rodney, “it is difficult to say, Major.”

“Fine,” Rodney snapped, “I’ll show you.”

The lights in the room went out, except for the chair, which still glowed. The blue light that shone around Rodney made his face look sickly.

“I’m sorry I ever doubted you, Rodney,” John drawled, the uncomfortable feeling he couldn’t put his finger on growing, “turning off the lights is very impressive.”

“Shut up, I’m trying to work here,” Rodney said tightly, closing his eyes. “I needed the power for something else.”

“Major,” Dr Weir’s voice came over the radio, “what’s going on? We’re detecting activity at the Northern pier.”

Rodney’s forehead creased in concentration and John frowned. “What kind of activity?”

“Something dropped into the water and it seems as though it’s bringing something back.”

“Need some material,” Rodney muttered, not opening his eyes.

“Stand by, Dr Weir. Rodney,” John said carefully, “what are you doing?”

“Making you understand why the chair is important.” His eyes snapped open. “There.”

The lights went on again. Rodney frowned. “The process shouldn’t take up as much energy as obtaining the material did, but I think I’ll make some sun cells just in case, so that we don’t use more power than we have.”

“Rodney,” John snapped and Rodney’s eyes moved to his. “What did you do?”

Rodney beamed at him. “The ocean floor is covered with a kind of metal alloy. I’m building you a canon, Major.”


Atlantis, 1340 (7 hours and 20 minutes earlier)

"Will you stop hovering? It's really distracting."

"I'm not hovering," John denied, wondering how Rodney could know that when his eyes were closed and he was controlling things all over Atlantis.

It had been more than three hours since Rodney had sat in the chair. In that time, he'd finished some sort of energy canon that had almost made Ford come in his pants, manufactured solar cells (that alloy at the bottom of the ocean sure was handy) as well as several power banks where the solar energy could be stored.

Rodney had admitted that the energy levels of Atlantis were now below what they called normal, but if the next few weeks were sunny, they'd pretty much be back to their former levels.

He'd seemed guilty over the fact that they wouldn't be able to replace the ZPMs, but had brightened a bit before announcing that at least it'd mean that they could move around the city a lot more without having to constantly worry about the energy levels.

Yes, John was possibly somewhat intimidated. Three *hours* and Rodney had made them a weapon *and* an alternative energy source.

It almost seemed too good to be true and nothing made John more nervous than things that seemed too good to be true.

“Well, could you do your non-hovering somewhere else?”

“No, I’m good.”

Rodney let out a long suffering breath.


Atlantis, 1430 (6 hours and 30 minutes earlier)

He'd thought Ford had been exaggerating. People said 'you won't believe it unless you see it' all the time without actually meaning it. He had to admit, though, that had Ford told him over the radio that it was snowing inside Atlantis, John probably wouldn't have believed him.

He released a breath and watched white smoke form in front of his face. He blinked as a snowflake caught in one of his eyelashes and he looked over at Grodin.

"We first noticed it when Lab 3 started getting blasts of freezing air through the ventilation system," Grodin said, rubbing his right arm absently while looking at some readings on his pad. "Fortunately, this station only modulates a small part of the city."

"Like Lab 3," John drawled, regretting that Kavanagh worked in Lab 4.


"But why is it snowing?" Ford asked. "I mean, I get that it's gotten colder, but where is the water coming from?"

"It's the condensation," Grodin explained. "The room recycles air and regulates the temperature, which means that the air that comes in here occasionally has to release water as colder air can't carry as much moisture. So, when the temperature dropped to subzero levels..."

Ford nodded. "It started snowing. Neat."

Grodin smiled briefly at that. "Well, yes. Unfortunately, we don't know what caused it. It would be considerably less neat if this turned out to be an occurrence all over Atlantis."

"Yeah," John mumbled, staring at the flakes that were leisurely making their way down from the ceiling and piling up on the floor.


Atlantis, 1450 (6 hours and 10 minutes earlier)

“It’s not a problem.”

“Of course not. You just made it snow inside Atlantis without noticing it.”

Rodney glared at him. “Didn’t we have this conversation already? About me not being Superman?”

“As far as I know, there has yet to be anyone to make that claim, Rodney.”

“Fine. I’m sorry I made it snow. Next time, I’ll wait till Christmas.”

“I don’t care about the snow. I’m just saying that next time it might be something bigger than snow.”

“You’re overreacting. It’s my first time, I think I’m allowed some kind of margin for error.”

“You’re admitting you made a mistake?” John frowned. “Who are you and what did you do to Rodney?”

“Har har,” Rodney said, closing his eyes. “Now shoo. Very busy man, here.”

“I swear to god, Rodney, if I find hail in my room, I’m kicking your ass.”

“Oh, I’m so scared. Why are you still here?”

John shook his head and went to get a sandwich. He’d noticed that Rodney was easier on his nerves when John had eaten something. At this rate, he’d need a smorgasbord.


Atlantis, 1600 (5 hours earlier)

“So, the readings are a little high. That’s hardly strange, my brain is very advanced.”

“Yes,” Beckett said in that dry tone he seemed to reserve especially for Rodney. “Very advanced. Your very advanced brain usually doesn’t give off these readings, though.”

John frowned. “Is he in any danger?”

“Not at the moment, but the readings weren’t this high a few hours ago. If they continue to rise, he might be.”

“So tell me when they start getting dangerous,” Rodney said impatiently.

“It’s not like a break would kill you,” John said. “You could grab something to eat. The chair will still be here.”

Rodney waved away his objections. “You brought me a sandwich, I’ll be fine.”

“Yeah,” John said, “because you’re always full after one sandwich.”

“He’s right, Rodney,” Zelenka agreed. “You should take a break. We won’t get anywhere if you wear yourself down on the first try.”

Rodney frowned, looking pained for a moment and warning bells started ringing in John’s head. Then his expression cleared and he looked like his normal patronizing self. “Fine. One more hour and I'll go."

Carson eyed Rodney suspiciously. "We're serious, Rodney. You don't get out of that chair soon, you can forget about anyone bringing you coffee or food. You can bloody well eat the chair if you get hungry."

John nodded in agreement. "What he said."

Rodney looked troubled. "Okay, give me another half an hour then. In the mean time, you think one of you could bring me a coffee? A Powerbar maybe?"

Carson turned around and left, Rodney giving John an imploring look. John folded his arms across his chest, not budging from the spot.

Rodney patted down the front of his jacket, then reached inside, pulling out a Powerbar, holding it up for John and Zelenka to see. John rolled his eyes and left, wondering exactly how many more of those things Rodney had on him.


Atlantis, 1700 (4 hours earlier)

“This may hurt a little.”

The arrogant little shit.

John resisted the urge to punch a wall as Zelenka opened the console next to the locked door, two corridors away from the chair room. He should have dragged the back-stabbing bastard out of the chair the moment he’d gotten back to Atlantis.

“Well?” he asked, fighting for patience.

“Trust me, Major, this will be much easier if I actually get a chance to review the situation,” Zelenka said patiently, but John could hear the strain in his voice.

John nodded reluctantly. “Sorry.”

Dr Weir turned the corner of the corridor and walked quickly towards them. “Any progress?”

“Zelenka’s just gotten started.”

She nodded and eyed the three of them. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” John said, ignoring his aching body.

Zelenka waved his hand at her without turning away from the console, which John guessed meant that he was fine too.

“Doctor?” She turned to Beckett, who was leaning against the wall next to John, looking a little pale.

“I have a headache, but nothing fatal.”

“How did Rodney manage to active the transporters when you weren’t even close to them?”

//”Rodney, don’t be an idiot,” Beckett snapped. “You need to get out of the chair. If those readings are correct, the interface could damage your brain.”

“You’re being overly cautious,” Rodney said.

“Rodney.” John’s words were clipped and hard. “If you don’t get out of the chair right now, I’ll carry you.”

Rodney looked him over, eyes traveling up and down his body. “I have full confidence in your physical fitness, Major, but I doubt you’d manage that.”

John smiled tightly. “Well, I guess we’ll find out now, won’t we?”

“Why are you being so stubborn about this, Rodney?” Zelenka asked. “You may be arrogant, but you’re not stupid.”

Rodney snorted. “Thank you, Radek, that warms my heart.”

John had had enough. He strode towards the chair, only a few steps away when his nose smacked into something hard. “What the…?”

A field shimmered in front of him before disappearing. He lifted his hand and slowly pushed it in front of his face. The air shimmered again, a glowing blue, and he was really starting to hate that color. He pushed harder, but it was no use. It was like trying to press through a solid wall.

He looked to his sides to see Beckett and Zelenka in similar situations; Beckett was experimentally tapping the field in front of him while Zelenka was staring at Rodney in incredulity.

Rodney looked apologetic. “I’m sorry, but you’re getting in the way. If I can’t convince you, I’ll just show you how important this is.”

“What the hell are you playing at, Rodney?” John said, dangerously soft. “Let us out.”

“No.” He closed his eyes and his forehead creased deeply. “This may hurt a little.”//

“Apparently the transporters aren’t as stationary as we thought,” John said, rubbing his forehead, anger running out of him to be replaced by weariness.

“The transporters probably worked anywhere in Atlantis before,” Zelenka said, back turned to them as he worked. “Having stationary ones were most likely a way to preserve power.”

“Handy that Rodney should know that,” Beckett muttered.

“He didn’t,” John said with conviction. He’d heard more than one rant from Rodney about the waste of having transporters so sparsely spread over the city. “Not before he sat in that chair.”

“He doesn’t seem very concerned with conserving power,” Dr Weir said, looking troubled.

John looked thoughtfully at her. “No.”

“He’s up to something,” Beckett said, pushing away from the wall.

“Well, I plan to be in on anything he's up to,” Dr Weir said firmly. “Get him out of there, gentlemen.”

John made a face. “I doubt we’ll be of much use to Dr Zelenka.”

“Do not put yourself down, Major.” Zelenka turned to look at them. “It seems I’m in need of an errand-boy.”

John’s eyebrows rose. “Oh joy.”


Atlantis, power station 1740 (3 hours and 20 minutes earlier)

“Are you at the power station, Major?” Zelenka’s voice crackled through the radio.

“I’m here. What do you want me to do?”

“They’re sending you to do this? My, you must be really desperate.”

John spun around and stared at Rodney, who was standing just a few feet away. “Rodney?”


“Hang on, Zelenka.” His eyes didn’t leave Rodney as he closed the channel. “How the hell..?”

Rodney smiled in excitement. “Yes, amazing, isn't it? The interface actually allows me to project a virtual image of myself so I can communicate with anyone.”

John took a step forward and stretched out his hand. Rodney watched in interest as it moved right through his chest.

John pressed his lips together hard. “Too bad it's virtual. I was thinking about punching your lights out.”

Rodney tsked. “Now, Major, that's no way to talk to the man who's saving Atlantis.”

John stared intently at him and wished that it was the *real* Rodney standing in front of him. Somehow, he couldn’t read the hologram at all. “And exactly how are you saving Atlantis, Rodney?”

“You really want to know?”

“I wouldn't be asking if I didn't.”

Rodney took a deep breath and looked as though he was bracing himself. John was vaguely amazed that he seemed nervous when he so obviously had the upper hand. “Okay. Imagine if the Wraith came here…and there was no city.” He started smiling. “Imagine if we could *move* the city.”

John frowned. “You mean submerging it again?”

Rodney shook his head. “No. I mean moving it to a different planet altogether.”

His first thought was that Rodney had finally lost his mind. His second thought that it was the chair’s fault and damn it, *he* should have been the one sitting in it, not Rodney. "And the reason the Ancients didn't do this is...?"

“They did, remember? They moved it from Earth to Pegasus and before they could move again it was probably too late.” His expression went from intent to slightly crazed. “But I know how to do it. I can *see* it all. It’s so *simple*. This city can fly, Major. It's time we tried it.”

John was silent for a long time. He was talking to Rodney, something they hadn’t been able to since he, literally, threw them out of the chair room. This might be his only chance to get Rodney out of there. “Okay.”

Rodney looked surprised. “Okay?”

John nodded. “Okay. As soon as you get out of the chair and make it safer to use.”

Rodney sighed and looked superior. It actually made John feel a little better. “I don't think you fully grasp the severity of our situation, Major. The Wraith are on their way and they're not going to slow down just so we can understand the chair better. We have to do this now. Before it's too late.”

“You've been obsessed with the chair since before you even knew what it could do,” John said slowly, eyes narrowing. “Something isn't right here, Rodney, you have to see that.”

Rodney tilted his head to the side. “You wouldn't say that if you were in the chair.”

John took a step closer, and had Rodney actually been in the same room, there would only have been a foot of air between them, if that. “Look me in the eye and tell me that you wouldn't have broken into the chair room and dragged me out by now, had our positions been reversed.”

Rodney’s mouth twisted. “That's hardly a fair comparison. All you have is the gene. I can make the chair work. I can make it do what it was built for. It's a little harder than just opening doors or turning on lights, Major.”

John shook his head and gave a little laugh. “That you or the chair, Rodney?”

“This is pointless. Stop trying to get into the chair room. Even if it was possible for you to bypass the system, you wouldn’t have enough time. I’m making Atlantis fly whether you like it or not.”

The image of Rodney flickered and disappeared.

John cursed and spun around, slamming his hand against the wall. He gritted his teeth and took a deep breath before clicking on his radio. “Dr Weir. We have another problem.”


Atlantis, 1825 (2 hours and 35 minutes earlier)

He saw it coming but wasn’t fast enough to avoid the slap on his wrist. The fact that he’d seen it coming in the first place told him that he wasn’t the only one who was preoccupied. He still thought she enjoyed doing that a tad too much, though.

“You are not concentrating,” Teyla said, flicking hair out of her eyes with a snap of her neck, a sheen of sweat on her face.

“Sure I am.” He proved it by slamming his sticks against her faster than he’d known he was able to.

He was proud of himself for a full second before she easily got beneath his defenses and hit his left side. He swallowed a curse and gritted his teeth as his ribs ached.

“Perhaps this is not a good idea right now,” Teyla said, lowering her sticks slightly.

“It’s a very good idea.” It was. When being thrown out for being in someone’s way and rendered useless, John couldn’t think of anything better than hitting something.

It felt safest doing it with Teyla; they didn’t have any punching bags and he knew he couldn’t hurt her. Not with sticks, anyway.

The circled each other, the floor beneath their feet sending vibrations through John’s body. Atlantis had started shaking shortly after Rodney’s “appearance”. At first, it had been nothing but a small ripple in the coffee cup on Dr Weir’s office.

Soon, though, they could feel it; steady and increasing tremors in the floor and walls around them. Zelenka had thought that Rodney needed to power up Atlantis before he could try and lift her. He wasn’t sure how Rodney would acquire all the power he needed, but knowing Rodney, *he* was certain that the power would be enough.

Of course, normally Rodney wasn’t rendered mad by an Ancient-made chair, but something told John that even mad, Rodney’s calculations wouldn’t be wrong.

At least not when it came to Atlantis. He seemed less concerned with himself, which told John everything about his state of mind. He knew enough to know that Rodney had the guts when they were needed, but he was a long way from a martyr.

Teyla studied him thoughtfully then nodded. “It is good to think of something else, even if it is just for a short while.”

This was what John liked about Teyla; her ability to get to the heart of the matter. He hadn’t seen a lot of her in the last few hours; him running errands for Zelenka, her accompanying Ford in patrolling the city, making sure that the things Rodney had set in motion weren’t doing anything hinky. It was good to have her company.

“We’ll get him back,” John said firmly, sounding surer than he felt.

She nodded. “We will.”

He drew strength from the certainty of her voice. “Good. Let’s get back to you kicking my ass.”


Atlantis, 1905 (1 hour and 55 minutes earlier)

John and Ford were hanging around in the control room, trying to stay out of the way as Grodin, Zelenka and a bunch of other scientists ran around, moving crystals here, punching buttons there, trying to both power down Atlantis and find a way into the chair room. His body was aching from his work-out with Teyla, but it was a good kind of ache. It made him feel like he’d done something, even if it was just venting until he could think properly again.

“Makes you feel kind of useless, doesn’t it?” Ford observed, his shoulders tense even as he was standing at ease.

John shrugged. “I would be more worried if it was our expertise that was needed in the end.”

Ford looked unconvinced. “I don’t know, sir. A few well-placed charges…”

“And Rodney would probably erect a force field.”

Ford nodded. “That does sound likely.” He looked at John dryly. “He’s a real pain.”

John couldn’t help but smile. “Yes, yes he is, Lieutenant.”

“It’s weird, though. That he’s not the one saving the day.”

“Well,” John scratched his neck, “he *thinks* he’s saving the day.”

Ford made a face. “Yeah. And the worst part is that he really might be.”

“Letting him do it isn’t an option, Lieutenant, we have no idea what it’ll do to him,” John said shortly.

“Of course not, sir.” Ford gave him his best ‘don’t be an asshole’ look while keeping his voice professional.

John sighed. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to snap.”

Ford shrugged, said, “No problem.” and that was that. You had to love a guy that held a grudge a total of two seconds.

They silently watched the scientists work for a several minutes.

“You’re thinking that it should have been you, right?” Ford stated.

“If Rodney can’t handle it, I doubt I’d last long,” John said dryly.

Ford looked at him. “That wasn’t what I asked.”

John smiled slightly. “I know.”

Ford nodded, as if satisfied. “We’ll get him out and find another way.”

And John remembered why he’d picked these people to be on his team.


Atlantis briefing room, 2000 (1 hour earlier)

Zelenka looked tired. “I have tried everything I can think of, but whatever I do, Rodney seems to know I’m doing it. Before I’ve finished one phase, he’s already destroyed what little progress I’ve made.” He shook his head. “I would never tell him this, but he does know Atlantis better than me, and the chair links him directly to her. He knows what we’re doing the second we do it.”

John nodded. “And he’s patched into our radio transmissions too. I don’t think it was a coincidence that he sent the hologram just after our radio contact.”

“So, what you’re saying,” Dr Weir sighed, “is that whatever we do, Rodney will stop it?”

Zelenka looked her in the eye. “Yes.”

“We need a diversion,” Ford said, looking a little excited and John knew exactly how he felt. Zelenka being out of ideas meant that it was their turn, and Ford was as incapable as John was of just sitting by and doing nothing.

“Such as?” Dr Weir asked.

“I don’t know, an explosion? An overload of something?”

John nodded, starting to smile. “Yes, but not just one, we’ll have to spread out, set off a chain reaction, make as much noise as possible.”

“Where will that get us?” Dr Weir asked.

Grodin nodded as well. “If we can get Dr McKay to look elsewhere, he might not be able to counteract every move we make.”

“And we can get into the chair room,” Zelenka finished.

Beckett shook his head. “I doubt we could distract Rodney long enough to keep the doors open.”

John leaned forward. “So we just keep them open long enough for me to get in.”

Zelenka looked somber. “I could open the first door for you, Major, but you’d have to open the other two on your own.”

“What kind of diversions are we talking about?” Beckett asked.

“I could overload a couple of power grids, Lieutenant Ford could set off a few charges,” Grodin suggested.

“We could start some fires,” Teyla interjected, “Atlantis would automatically start counter measures.”

Dr Weir. “Sounds like a plan. Get started. I’d give you all the time you need, gentlemen, but I’m a bit short at the moment.”

“Yeah,” John muttered, “no undue pressure.”


Atlantis corridor, 2047 (13 minutes earlier)

John took a deep breath and centered himself, ignoring the vibrations from the floor, moving up through his boots. They’d only get one shot at this. He looked over at Zelenka who was crouched in front of the console next to the door, looking up at John. Zelenka nodded. John clicked on his radio once.

He waited tensely as Dr Weir’s voice came over the speakers. “Rodney? Can you hear me? Please, I’d just like to talk.”

Hearing Rodney’s voice was like a punch in the gut. “Elizabeth. Going to try and talk me out of this?” John kept his focus with some effort, still waiting. If they moved too soon, the plan would be useless.

“I’m just trying to understand, Rodney. You’ve locked us out, you won’t let us in. We’re supposed to do this together.”

“Yes, well, this really doesn’t require more than one person.” He paused. “Why are there people at one of the power stations, Elizabeth?”

Dr Weir, to her credit, kept her voice steady. "We’re just taking precautions, Rodney. We’re not as sure as you are that this thing won’t harm Atlantis.”

Rodney snorted, sounding so much like his normal self. “This thing *is* Atlantis, and as far as I know it’s not suicidal. Quite the opposite.” His voice turned speculative. “You wouldn’t be lying to me, would you, Elizabeth?”

Every muscle in John’s body was poised and ready to move. Zelenka moved his hands to the sides of the console, not touching it yet. Just a few more moments…

Dr Weir’s voice was dry. “I doubt that would be productive to our talk.”

Rodney sounded amused. “It sounds like you’re trying to talk me off a ledge. I don’t think telling the truth is imperative for someone trying to do that.”

John clicked his radio three times, two short bursts and one longer and Zelenka’s hands flew to the console.

The corridor around him went dark and Zelenka muttered something that John didn’t understand as he quickly moved a few crystals around. The door hissed open and John ran through, clicking his radio again, this time two long bursts and one short.

He ran down the corridor as fast as he could, the next door seeming miles away. He just needed to get through two more doors, two doors, and he’d reach Rodney.

The blast, when it came, shook the floor even more violently under John’s feet as he ran and he barely skidded to a halt before moving his hand in front of the panel of this door. The door opened, but as he moved through, it started closing fast. He tore his arm through just as it was about to get stuck.

“Eliz-a-beeeth,” Rodney sing-songed and John’s heart thudded in his throat as he ran towards the last door, “you lied to me. I’m hurt! I thought we were friends.”

“I am your friend,” her voice was firm. “That’s why I can’t let you do this.”

“Your concern is heartwarming, really it is.” John slowed down and moved his hand over the panel to the chair room. Nothing happened. “But what makes you think that I won’t empty the air of the corridor outside of here? I assume you’ve sent someone to try and get to me.”

Dr Weir’s voice was still steady, which John admired, because as the ventilation system started hissing, sucking the air out, John figured his voice would be far from steady if he spoke. “Rodney, would you kill someone to get your way?”

John moved his hand over the panel as another bang shook the corridor. Nothing. Breathing was getting harder and the hiss of the air seeping out filled his ears, louder than before.

They hadn’t moved fast enough.

“The needs of the many, Elizabeth,” Rodney said, sounding sad.

“Damn it, Rodney.” Her voice cracked, but she still sounded determined. John moved his hand over the panel again. Nothing.

He closed his eyes, deepening his breathing even as air was getting harder to come by. He pushed his mind into the familiar hum of Atlantis, pushed deeper than he ever had before. At first, he didn’t feel anything else than the circuitry underneath his hand, the glowing crystals that refused to obey him.

Then Atlantis opened to him, not reluctantly but swiftly, like a suddenly warm knife cutting through butter.

John gasped. It was amazing. The city, pulsing with energy, the ocean around, the heat, the sounds of the water, the *power* of it.

He heard Dr Weir’s voice, sounding far away. “-n’t think Major Sheppard appreciates you taking his life when he’s trying to save yours.”

John *pushed* again, harder, expecting resistance, but Atlantis complied, moving the energy he wanted moved, activating the controls he wanted activated, almost caressingly.

When the doors opened before him, he didn’t think, he just moved forward before he was closed out.

Pushing Atlantis away, he looked into Rodney’s narrowed eyes and cherished the feeling of breathing properly again. “Hello, Rodney.”


"Major." Rodney says, sounding unimpressed. "Trying to get in here was incredibly stupid. I should have realized that you'd be the one to do it."

John smiles easily. “That’s what friends are for.”

“I would have thought that sucking the air out would have been a big hint that I didn’t want any visitors.”

John quirks an eyebrow. "Please. I don't think protecting the people of Atlantis includes killing them. I called your bluff; live with it."

Rodney gives a thoughtful nod. "Always figured you to be smarter than you look."

"Rodney, whatever you think the chair is capable of, it's not worth the risk."

"You're only saying that because you have no idea of its power. If you did, you would do the same thing, Major, and don't even pretend you wouldn't."

”Rodney,” John says slowly, patiently, carefully moving closer, “you have to get out of that thing.”

Rodney smiles at him, crazily. “Why? This is the best thing that’s ever happened to us.”

“It’s killing you,” he moves a little closer, “I don’t think that’s a good thing.”

Rodney shakes his head, words tumbling over each other in his rush to say them. “Nononono, don’t you understand? This is just the beginning. When we get out of here, I could, I could build impenetrable defenses for Atlantis that wouldn’t require ZPMs. I could build weapons like you’d never *imagined*.” His face is almost ecstatic. “I could destroy the Wraith.”

“McKay,” John says through gritted teeth, more afraid for Rodney than he’s ever been before, “you’ll die.”

Rodney tilts his head to the side. “No, Major. I’ll be immortal.”

John frowns. “What?”

“Atlantis isn’t unreasonable, Major. Sure, my body might not make it, but she’d take good care of my mind.” He smiles again, no less crazy. “There’s nothing I wouldn’t be able do, and I’d have all the time I’d need.”

“Yeah, well, *I’m* unreasonable. I don’t *care* that your mind would make it. I don’t *care* what you’d be able to do.” He tries to put in every ounce of persuasive powers he has into his words, every ounce of desperation. “It’s not worth the price.”

Rodney’s shakes his head in pity. “I see I won’t be able to convince you. You’d better go.”

John can hear the doors hissing open behind him.

He shakes his head. "I'm not going anywhere."

"Major?" Weir's worried voice sounds over the communication system. "We have a problem."

John looks up for a moment and then back at Rodney. "What kind of problem?"

"The systems are showing a power surge in the control room, Major," Zelenka answers. "What is happening?"

John stares at him in disbelief. "Is this you? Is this how you're protecting the city?"

Rodney is staring in awe, as if looking at something far away. "No," he whispered. "You don't get it. It's her. She's doing it all by herself, Major."

Had this been Rodney, John would have smirked and called his bluff.

Now, he spins around and starts running.


He enters the control room at a full run, barely avoiding knocking down Dr Weir. “What's going on?”

Zelenka looks at the controls in confusion and John hears a faint whine from them, though it’s quickly fading. “I do not understand. It's all normal. What did you do?”

John looks across at Elizabeth whose troubled face seems to reflect his own. “I left Rodney alone.”

Ford and Teyla arrive a few minutes later, shortly followed by Grodin and they gather in the briefing room.

“Well,” Ford says, “it was a good plan.”

Dr Zelenka sighs. “Unfortunately, not good enough.”

“We have to get him out of that thing.” Beckett’s face is drawn and tired. “His body, not to mention his brain, wasn’t built to handle that kind of strain.”

Dr Weir’s lips are pressed together tightly. She looks tired as well. John wonders if Rodney realizes how many people have gotten attached to his annoying presence. “How long do you think he can keep it up?”

Beckett sighs and shakes his head helplessly. “It’s not an exact science. Staying alive? Maybe twenty-four hours; his organs had started showing strain, but they seemed to be holding up relatively well. My greatest concern is his brain.” He looks at John. “The chair is linked to his mind, which is taking the brunt of it all. If we don’t get him out soon, I’m concerned that there will be brain damage.”

The words sound so clinical to John. The look in Dr Beckett’s eyes says otherwise.

Teyla looks down at her hands that are clasped tightly in front of her on the table. “We cannot reach him by any other means than speaking to him, and that does not work.” She looks up again, eyes unhappy. “Is there anything else we *can* do?”

The silence that follows her question makes John’s chest hurt and he closes his eyes. He’s so damn tired. His entire body aches, especially his head. Pushing into Atlantis may have seemed relatively easy at the time, but now his head is throbbing. He remembers being a part of Atlantis for that short moment and there’s a glimmer of understanding of Rodney. All that power. All that power, just there to be harnessed, to be used.

John isn’t sure that he wouldn’t do the same if he were in Rodney’s place. With all that potential, his own life would seem like a small price to pay.

The complexity of Atlantis, the endless possibilities-

His eyes snap open. “The chair.”

Dr Weir frowns. “What about it?”

John shakes his head. “No, not that chair. The other chair.”

Dr Zelenka’s eyes widen. “Of course!”

“Care to fill us in?” Ford says, looking from John to Zelenka.

“I could use the chair and try to turn Rodney’s chair off.”

“I thought that chair was only used to launch drones,” Dr Weir says slowly.

“It is,” Zelenka says, excitedly moving his hands, “but in theory, the chair is as much part of Atlantis interface as Rodney’s chair is. With some modifications, it should be able to affect things *inside* Atlantis as well.”

Ford looks skeptical. “Just like that? I thought we didn’t have a power source for it?”

“We didn’t until Rodney made a new one for us,” John points out.

“It is not guaranteed that it will work…” Dr Zelenka admits.

Teyla looks worried. “Do you not think that it would be dangerous, Major Sheppard? If Dr McKay discovers what is happening…”

“He could fry your brain,” Beckett helpfully fills in.

John makes a face. “If I have anything to say about it, his chair will be turned off before he does any frying.”

“John, are you sure about this?” Dr Weir’s forehead is creased in concern. “I don’t want to lose Rodney anymore than you do, but I’m not prepared to lose the both of you either.”

“He’d do it for me,” John says simply.

She looks at him for a long moment and John can see her weighing all the options against each other. Then she presses her lips together and looks at Dr Zelenka, nodding tightly. “Do it.”

Zelenka stands and leaves the room quickly.


Beckett fastens the final electrode to John’s forehead. He gives John a wan smile. “I hope they won’t be needed, but just to be on the safe side.”

John nods. “I’ll just activate the chair briefly. If it doesn’t work right away, I don’t think it’ll work at all.”

Beckett makes a face. “It’s just, with Rodney...”

“Yeah,” John agrees. The man is way too unpredictable for his own good.

Zelenka stands quickly from where he’d crouched next to the chair. “Alright, I’ve rerouted the energy to the chair and I overrode some of the basic commands so that it’ll do what we want it to do.” He frowns. “It should work, but I don’t know for how long.”

John clicks the radio on his shoulder three times. They’re ready. The radio clicks two times in response. He has a go.

“Okay,” John takes a breath and wills his headache away, “ready when you are.”

Zelenka steps back and John sits in the chair. With a final smile to Beckett and Zelenka, he activates the chair and tells Atlantis to shut down Rodney’s chair.

He draws in a sharp breath


He stands at the back of a puddle jumper facing Rodney. It seems to be the size of a normal puddle jumper, but when he stretches out his arm to the side, he touches thin air. He turns his head to look and his hand is a good three feet away from the wall.

“Where am I?”

“Your attempt to try and stop me linked you to my chair and created a virtual reality.” Rodney smiles in delight. “It may be pointless, but it’s neat.”

John wants to ask why they’re in a puddle jumper of all places, but then the obvious answer comes to him. It makes perfect sense; as if Rodney’s mind would be in a place that stands still.


“Let me guess.” Rodney starts to drawl. “‘Rodney, this is a bad idea. Let’s wait until the last second and figure out a suicide plan instead. That way, I’ll get to blow something up.’” His voice changes to its normal impatient pitch. “I have things to do, Major. If you’ll excuse me.”

The puddle jumper disappears and suddenly they’re flying through space. John looks down on his feet, standing on nothing. Under different circumstances, this would be very very cool. As it is now, he grabs Rodney’s (virtual) arm hard. “You're killing yourself!"

Rodney smiles a strange little smile. "It's nice to know that you worry about me, Major, but I assure you, I'm perfectly fine."

John grits his teeth and focuses. The puddle jumper materializes around them again. "I'm not planning on getting online in order to talk to you, Rodney.”

Rodney frowns. “What’s wrong with you? You have to see what a good plan this is. This is what we’ve been looking for; a chance against the Wraith.”

John shakes his head. “The chair is killing your body."

Rodney smiles again and John goes cold at the insane edge to it. "Don't you think it's worth it in order to save Atlantis?"

John laughs humorlessly, shaking his head. "See, the Rodney I know would never say that."

Rodney stops smiling and frowns. "Well, maybe you don't know me very well."

“I know you better than you think, Rodney,” John tightens his hold around Rodney’s arm, trying to get through to him. “And I know you've got more sense than this."

Rodney sighs. "This conversation is boring, not to mention pointless.” He pulls his arm free and steps closer to John. “Get out of my way."

John’s eyes narrows. "No."

They’re standing almost nose to nose, both refusing to back down.

“I don’t have time for this,” Rodney says tightly.


Something flashes in Rodney’s eyes. "I said, get out of my way!"

He doesn’t move, but suddenly John is, flying through the air and against the jumper’s wall. He hears a sickening smack before landing on the floor.

There is no pain, but he feels incredibly weak. He pushes himself up to his knees, head bowed down as lifting it seems like an impossible effort. There’s something warm on his lips and he touches his hand to them. He stares in fascination at the crimson smear on his fingers. This virtual reality is starting to feel a bit too unvirtual to him. He looks up at Rodney who is staring at his bloody hand in horror. "Are you going to kill me too? Is that a worthy sacrifice?"

Rodney’s wide eyes rise to meet John's. "I didn't mean..."

John stretches out an arm and thankfully the wall is there this time. He stands unsteadily, keeping his balance as he leans against it. "What? I thought it was worth it. Come on, Rodney. It's easy." He takes a careful step towards Rodney and notices with some surprise that he has no trouble standing at all. "It's for Atlantis’ sake." He’s just…bone weary.

Rodney shakes his head, frowning. "No. You're part of what I'm trying to protect."

John tilts his head. "You're as much a part of Atlantis as I am. If you're expendable, so am I."

Rodney hasn’t stopped shaking his head. "No."

“Then stop this!” John takes a step closer, his feet like lumps of led. “Because you'll have to kill me if you're going to end yourself."

Rodney finally stops shaking his head, swallowing hard. "I...Major, I can't..."

John grips Rodney's shoulders hard. "I've got you. End this. End this now."

Rodney closes his eyes, lines of pain on his face. " I..."

John yanks Rodney forward and presses his mouth against his, forcing his tongue into Rodney’s mouth. Rodney’s eyes shoot open in surprise and then he moans, sucking desperately on John’s tongue.

Then John is falling, engulfed in bright white, and he never hits the ground.


Things are pretty blurry, which should annoy him to no end, as Rodney likes clarity. Not that there were always clear answers in astrophysics, but at least Rodney’s mind was. Nothing cleared his mind like trying to figure out a seemingly impossible enigma.

Which was probably why he found John Sheppard so interesting.

Because the man should have been easy to figure out. Rodney had figured him out half a dozen times already only to find anomalies in his calculations.

His first error: Air Force nobody with no clue of what to do with the Ancient gene (and did everyone and their grandmother have the gene except for Rodney?). The first error of many. He’d figured that statistically, the error margin would lessen for each mistaken conclusion, as every conclusion would lead towards a final correct answer.

Looking at the Major’s pasty face and the machines that were breathing for him, Rodney concluded that he wasn’t much of an expert on the Major after all. Of all the stupid things for the Major to do, Rodney could never have predicted that one. Yet, he couldn’t summon up one ounce of annoyance.

All he could think about was sitting in the chair, remembering the rush of being able to control all those things, to figure out so many things that he wouldn’t have been able to before (which were amazing things indeed, if he might say so himself). Remembering the taste of John’s mouth and how it was impossible that Rodney would know it so intimately; it hadn’t been real. Not even the metallic taste of blood. Remembering waking up as Carson and at least half a dozen nurses rushed towards him as he was half-draped over the chair.

Looking around, not hearing Carson’s questions, searching for him.

His voice, rusty and unused. “Where’s Sheppard?”

The look on Carson’s face, the speed with which two of the nurses rushed out of the room, Carson’s face as he heard something in his headset.

Being laid down on the stretcher and carried to the infirmary.

Seeing the world from the side as they rushed the Major’s body in. Having just enough time to see the blood seeping down the Major’s pale cheek from the corner of his mouth.

Rodney flinches violently at the hand touching his shoulder, the memory of the color red being replaced by Radek’s concerned face.

“Are you alright?” he asks, watching Rodney’s face carefully.

“Yes yes,” Rodney mutters, “I’m fine.”

“You don’t look fine.”

“Well, I’m sorry I’m not meeting up to your criteria,” Rodney snaps.

“At least you sound like yourself,” he says mildly and pulls up a chair.

They sit in silence, listening to the hissing and beeping of the machines.

“We dismantled the chair,” Zelenka finally says. “All of it. No one can sit in it now.”

Rodney nods. “That’s good.”

They sit in silence for a while longer before Radek pushes the chair back and stands. “Well, I should get back to the lab.”

Rodney frowns and looks up at him. “That’s it? That’s all you came to say?”

“Well,” Radek looks at him dryly, “I could try and cheer you up, but knowing you and your arrogance, you’d insist on taking all the blame anyway, so there would be no point.”

Rodney looks at him. “Your delusions are astounding.”

“Yes, I know, and ridiculous and silly and laughable.” He places his hand on Rodney’s shoulder again. “Do not blame yourself, Rodney,” he says gently.

“Right,” Rodney snorts, “because I just sat in the chair. I’ve got nothing to feel guilty about.”

“You did not know what was going to happen.”

“Which was the main reason I shouldn’t have done it at all.”

“If there was a way to prevent what happened, you would have found it,” Radek said, his voice resolute.

Rodney swallows. “Finally admitting who’s the better man, eh?”

Radek rolls his eyes. “I know who the better man is, I just have not had the heart to break the news to you yet.”


He was walking through a seemingly deserted Atlantis and it was freaking him the hell out. Where was everyone?

Everything seemed intact, so there hadn’t been a Wraith attack at least, but that didn’t explain where everyone was.

He stepped into the control room, consoles blinking cheerfully at him, but no one sat behind them. The briefing room was empty. Dr Weir’s office was empty. The lights in the gateroom were turned off.

He stood staring at the dark outline of the Stargate as he caught a movement in the corner of his eye. He spun around just in time to see someone leaving the control room.

He started walking fast, the walk turning into a jog after a few steps. “Rodney?” What the hell was going on here?


Carson had kicked him out of the infirmary after a ridiculously short time, telling him to go and sleep or he’d sedate Rodney himself. Clearly an overreaction in Rodney’s opinion. He’d brought work, it wasn’t like he didn’t normally spend at least six hours in front of his laptop. He’d even taken a break once, going to the toilet and for a sandwich in the mess hall.

Carson had been adamant, though, damn his thick Scottish head. He’d gone on about how it had almost been Rodney who’d been laid up on a bed and at that point Rodney had walked out without a word.

Because Carson was right. The thing was, Rodney could handle the thought of being in an infirmary bed. Because a) it meant that he wasn’t dead and b) he wouldn’t worry about it until he was actually conscious.

Having the Major there when it was Rodney that should be lying on that bed, tubes down his throat, machines keeping him breathing…

He veers sharply in a corridor and turns towards the lab. It’s time to finish translating the texts about the chair.


He turned around the corner of the doorway outside the control room and he was out on one of the big balconies. It was dark outside, stars peering out from behind scattered clouds.

He stepped closer to the railing and looked up. One of the moons was up, but hid behind cloudy strings. They were thin enough to let through light to show that there was something behind them, but thick enough as to not reveal what.

It looked like a giant glowing creature trapped inside a cage of clouds. It made John think about Chaya.

He heard the hiss of the door opening and turned to see the back of the same someone who’d left the control room earlier exiting. He was sure that he’d been the only one out there, but apparently he’d been wrong.


He hurried back inside.


…added functions…cut off from reality…prevents rest…cannot handle strain…too volatile to continue.

So, if Rodney had been the one to write that particular report, what would he have done? Hmm. Oh yes. He would have DISMANTLED the fucking thing. But then, he was just human, not an enlightened Ancient. He just didn’t see things as clearly as they did, being all *enlightened*.

Rodney slams his hand against his desk and curses as pain shoots through his hand.

He can’t blame the Ancients. Well. Not beyond the ‘how stupid can you get?’ point. *He* had been the one to use the chair. Why would the Ancients put up a “DO NOT TOUCH” sign for their own people, who knew the risks of the chair? And most likely, adapting the chair had been their last desperate attempt at saving Atlantis. Once that failed, evacuation would have been the next step on their to-do list.

That didn’t make Rodney feel any better. That didn’t change the fact that his best friend was in a coma. It didn’t change the fact that Rodney was completely unharmed by something that should at least have driven him bonkers.

“Fuck this,” he mutters and stands, walking out of the lab and heading back to the infirmary. If Carson wants to sedate him, let him. At least it’d shut Rodney’s brain up for a while.


The balcony door closed behind him and he was in the puddle jumper again, Rodney standing with his back towards John, doing something with an open console.

“What are you doing?” John asked.

“Saving our lives, obviously,” Rodney said absently, moving crystals around.

John frowned. “From what?”

“Imminent destruction, painful deaths, the usual,” Rodney said, scratching his neck.

John raised his eyebrows. “O-kay. Thank you for the clear and specific update.”

“Sure,” Rodney said without sarcasm and John’s eyes narrowed.

“Where’s Ford and Teyla?”

“Around,” Rodney said vaguely, sounding uninterested.

John looked up towards the ceiling of the jumper and around at the walls. It looked like a jumper.

He looked at Rodney. It looked like Rodney.

“Where am I?”

Rodney turned to look at him seriously. “I would have thought that was obvious.”

John swallowed. “Am I dead?”

Rodney rolled his eyes. “What are you, a firm believer that hell is other people?”

John tilted his head to the side. “Who said anything about hell?”

“You saying heaven is inside a puddle jumper?” He snorted. “How very poetic.”

John glared. “You know, you could be a little bit nicer considering that I just told you that you would be a part of heaven.”

“I’m not even going to touch the absurdity of that. Besides, I’m a figment of *your* mind, it’s hardly my fault that you don’t see my inherited charms.”

“Well…” John said slowly. “Figment of imagination sounds better than the dead thing.”

One moment Rodney was standing by the open console, looking at him, and the next he was pushing John backwards, kissing him, and as his back hit the wall John wondered how Rodney could move so fast. They kissed passionately, Rodney’s kisses perfect, but when John pulled back for air, head thumping against the wall again, he looked into the face of Chaya.

He swallowed hard, frowning. “What did you do to me?”

She smiled gently. “I only enhanced what was already there.”

He shook his head. “I don’t want it.”

“It does not matter. It’s what you were made to do.”

She touched his face and Atlantis was right there, just like when he’d been trying to get to Rodney, only now it wasn’t just a brief moment of contact. He was Atlantis; Atlantis was him. He didn’t know where he started and Atlantis ended.

“Oh god,” he said, and Atlantis trembled with his voice.

And he opened his eyes.


He doesn’t notice at first; he’s too busy watching for Carson to try and sneak up on him. When something touches his hand, though, his head snaps around and he looks into the Major’s confused eyes.

“Carson!” he yells, grabbing a hold of John’s hand and squeezing. “Hang on,” he murmurs and raises his voice again. “Carson!”

Carson walks in, annoyance on his face. “What is it, Rodney?” When he looks at John, his eyes widen and the annoyance disappears as his face breaks into a smile. “Well, it’s nice to see you, Major. You had us a wee bit concerned there for a while.”

Rodney wants to say something about how he shouldn’t make the Major’s head even bigger than it already is, but he’s too busy noticing how much his hands are shaking. The Major’s hand squeezes his and he looks up again.

Major Sheppard regards him steadily, eyes heavy but awake. The question in them is clear.

“I’m fine,” Rodney says thickly, “you’re the one who got hurt.”

Then he lets go of the Major’s hand and lets Carson and his people do their thing.


"He's really okay?"

"The interface was too much for his mind to handle, so it shut down as a defense mechanism."

"So, he's really okay?"

"I'm going to recommend that he rest for the next few days, but yes, Rodney, he's going to be fine."

Rodney releases a slightly shaky breath and claps his hands, rubbing them briskly together. "Good. That's good."

Carson regards him steadily. "Will you go and get some sleep now? You were lucky to come out of this unscathed, but your body was still under a lot of stress. It needs to recuperate."

"Yeah, fine." Rodney waves his hands at Carson and turns to leave. He looks over at the Major's bed on the other side of the infirmary.

Sheppard still looks awfully pale, but at least he’s breathing on his own now. Major Sheppard breathing is very very good. It makes breathing easier for Rodney as well.

He leaves the infirmary, not looking back again, wondering if it had meant something. Probably not. It hadn't been real and the Major had probably just been trying to get Rodney off balance by kissing him.

It wasn't a kiss meant for pleasure or love. It was a kiss out of desperation.

Rodney closes his eyes briefly as he walks towards his quarters. Knowing all that still doesn't make the memory seem any less real or pleasurable. Despite the situation at hand, despite the taste of blood he'd only remembered afterwards, there’s no denying that kissing Major Sheppard had been...

Nice. Really nice. Pathetically nice.

Pathetically because it hadn't meant anything to the Major.

But then Rodney has to consider the fact that this is John Sheppard, and so far, Rodney hasn't been able to draw the correct conclusions about him.


Rodney starts talking the moment the doors to John’s quarters are fully open. “I know what you’re going to say.”

John looks up from page fifty-three. “Hello, Rodney.”

“It wasn’t my fault, I was under the influence of the chair,” Rodney continues as he paces across the small room, “I wasn’t responsible for my actions-“

“Actually,” John puts the book down on his bedside table, “I think you were.”

Rodney stops pacing and looks at him. “What?”

“I think you were responsible,” John says coolly.

Rodney pales. “You do?”

John rolls his eyes. “Of course not. I’d appreciate if you didn’t put words in my mouth, though.”

Rodney’s eyes slide to John’s mouth and the look in his eyes is far from the one John wants Rodney to have while contemplating his mouth. “Hey,” he says as he stands, “I’m fine. Dr Beckett wouldn’t have let me go if I wasn’t.”

Rodney nods, eyes slipping away from John’s face. “Of course.”

“How about you?” John studies him, noticing the shadows under Rodney’s eyes. “You okay?”

Rodney starts laughing, an ugly sound. “God, how can you ask me that? I almost killed you.”

“Rodney, no,” he shakes his head, “you didn’t.”

“Stop it, just stop it,” Rodney says angrily. “I was the one who had to think I was so smart, I had to sit in the chair, I-“

Rodney has time to puff out a surprised breath as John slides his hand behind Rodney’s neck and pulls him into a hug. He holds himself stiffly as John cradles the back of Rodney’s head with his hand, but he doesn’t try to push him away.

After a few moments, he relaxes, almost slumping against John.

“That’s it,” John says quietly.

“God.” Rodney’s voice is raw.

“It wasn’t your fault. You were under the influence of the chair. You weren’t responsible for your actions.”

Rodney lets out a sound and John can’t tell if it was a snort or a sob.

He tugs at Rodney and, backing up, he maneuvers them to his bed. Turning them around, he pushes at Rodney’s shoulders until he’s sitting on the edge of the bed. Rodney looks up at him with unreadable eyes, slightly red around the edges.

John studies the bed. It’ll be a tight fit. He hopes that Rodney doesn’t move a lot in his sleep.

He crawls across the bed and pulls up the covers, managing to get beneath them with Rodney still sitting on the left side of them.

He touches Rodney’s shoulder and Rodney kicks off his shoes before crawling beneath the covers as well.

It *is* a tight fit, he concludes with a grunt as Rodney elbows his ribs for the third time.

“Hang on.” John shifts, moving closer to the edge on his side while tugging Rodney closer to him.

Arranging Rodney to his satisfaction, head on John’s shoulder and arm slung over his waist, he tries to ignore the niggling worry at Rodney’s passivity. He takes a deep breath and relaxes into the comfort of the bed.

Rodney shifts. “Major,” he says quietly.

“Don’t think it to death, Rodney,” John advises, eyes sliding closed as Rodney’s body draped over his warms him more than his covers ever have.

Rodney’s reply is a final wriggle and then John falls asleep.


When Rodney wakes up, his ass is nearly hanging off the bed, his left arm has gone numb and he’s lying on top of John Sheppard. For a single panicked moment, he thinks he’s lying on top of John’s dead body, but then reality kicks in and he notices his head being lifted steadily up and down by the Major’s deep breaths. Rodney can even hear the dull thud of John’s heart beating through the warm t-shirt beneath his cheek.

He turns on the lights with a thought and dims them, refusing to think about how easy it suddenly seems.

John’s head is tilted away from Rodney, five o’clock shadow covering his cheek and Rodney distantly wonders why he isn’t freaking out. He slowly reaches out and traces the outline of John’s lips with his fingertips.

He’s thought a lot about John’s lips. Well, he’s thought a lot about a lot of things of John’s. His smiling eyes. How his hair would feel if Rodney ran his fingers through it. How his mouth would feel around Rodney’s-

John sighs deeply and turns his head down towards Rodney, his blinking eyes even more heavy-lidded than usual. Then his eyes meet Rodney’s and he smiles as though waking up with Rodney on top of him is the best thing in the world.

Rodney’s heart does so not start beating faster.

“Hey,” John says, his voice still rough with sleep.

Rodney fails to come up with a single line of sarcasm. “Hey.” He blames the lack of caffeine.

“You okay?” John’s hand runs down Rodney’s back and Rodney shivers.

Rodney considers the question, the hand running slowly up and down his back distracting him. “Yeah.” He notices with some relief that he actually does feel kind of okay. He’s still freaked out about the whole almost killing John thing, not to mention the almost dying thing, but... John’s hand against his back is warm and definitely alive. It makes Rodney’s freak-out seem far away.

Which is probably a good thing as this doesn’t seem like a good time to demonstrate his total inability to lie convincingly.

John’s eyebrows rise. “Yeah?”


John smiles. “Cool.”

Rodney shudders as John’s hand strokes down Rodney’s side, fingernails scraping against his t-shirt.

“Ticklish?” John murmurs.

“You wish.” He tries to make the words sound sharp and patronizing, but suspects he’s closer to content than he’d like to think.

“Hmm,” John says, but instead of trying out his theory like Rodney is expecting, he continues to slowly stroke, up and down. Up and down. The movement is hypnotic and Rodney thinks that he could fall asleep again.

“I know what you’re up to,” he says, closing his eyes.

John stops his movement for a moment. “You do?”

“Mmmhmm. You’re thinking that now that you’ve got me all relaxed you’ll get into my pants.”

It’s funny hearing John laughing when Rodney’s ear is against his chest. It’s also kind of nice.

“Will I?”

“Get in my pants?”


Rodney pushes himself up, looks down at John’s smiling face and snorts. “Please. You’re so not my type.”

John’s expression turns outraged. “I so am!”

Rodney screws up his face and slaps John’s chest. “You’re missing stuff.”

John quirks an eyebrow. “You’ve obviously not seen the whole package.”

“You’re going to brag about your package?” Rodney says in disbelief.

“I don’t need to brag.” John smirks. “My performance speaks for itself.”

“Oh yeah?”

John’s eyes change as they run down Rodney’s body. “Yeah.”

Rodney leans over on his other hand, lowering his head and pushing his tongue into John’s mouth before hastily drawing back, hissing in pain.

“What? What?” John asks in alarm.

“Pins and needles,” Rodney tries to lean further down on his right arm and shake the numb one.

Strong hands grip his arm and Rodney lets out an explosive breath as the pain mixes with pleasure at the gentle rubbing.


Rodney nods in relief, stretching his fingers.

John’s eyes are a different kind of sleepy now and he pulls Rodney’s hand to his mouth, drawing the index finger into his mouth.

“Oh god,” Rodney says faintly, pushing his now rock-hard dick against John’s leg.

John sucks hard, his tongue hot and soft and wet and Rodney desperately grinds against him, so turned on he can hardly breathe. He imagines his cock where his finger is and has to bite the inside of his cheek not to come.

“Wait,” he gasps and pulls his finger out of John’s mouth with a pop. He pauses for a second, just long enough to notice John panting, staring up at Rodney with wild, dilated eyes before Rodney crushes his mouth to John’s again.

He doesn’t think he could be gentle even if he wanted to; he bites and licks and sucks at John’s lips and John’s mouth opens, making encouraging sounds as his slick tongue pushes into Rodney’s mouth, egging Rodney on.

He leans on his now pin-and-needle-free arm and clumsily pushes his other between them. He strokes John’s cloth-covered cock roughly and John bucks against him, making pleading noises into Rodney’s mouth. John’s sweats are loose and Rodney starts jerking him off fast, wanting John to come right there and then.

John’s back arches off the bed and Rodney pulls his head back, allowing John to suck in gulps of air as he groans and shakes, his cock twitching in Rodney’s hand, dampness spreading through the material. Rodney stares at John’s open mouth and into the eyes that are locked on Rodney’s face and thrusts sharply against John’s thigh.

John’s shaking hand cups him through his pants, and that’s it, he comes so hard he isn’t even sure if he’s making noise or not, the blood is pounding so hard in his ears.

He slumps down, his arm unable to hold him up any longer, pushing his face into John’s damp neck. God, he smells good.

“So,” John says slowly, still breathing hard, “you’re okay. That’s good. I think I’m going to have to rest up a bit for ‘good’, though.”

Rodney smiles helplessly against John’s skin. “Yeah, me too. Not that I couldn’t outlast you any day of the week, of course.”

John pats his back, his hand somehow ending up stroking up and down again. “That’s much better. Wake me when you’re ready to bite my head off.”

“Sure,” Rodney murmurs and closes his eyes.

“Wait, don’t fall asleep. Roll off me first.”

Rodney snorts.

“Rodney,” John says warningly.

“Injured man trying to sleep here,” Rodney objects.

“Injured?” John sighs, or at least tries to. Rodney could feel him trying to take a deep breath and fail. “You are so never having sex with me again.”


He’s with Chaya in the shuttle again, only this time when she touches his face, he’s breaching the surface of the ocean, sucking in air. He looks around frantically for the floating body, but thankfully it’s not there.

He starts swimming towards Atlantis before he begins changing, barely giving a thought to the fact that he’s able to affect what he’s doing the way he’s been unable to before.

Suddenly, his limbs stiffen and he grits his teeth against the change he knows is starting, but instead, he’s moving faster, Atlantis growing larger at a phenomenal speed as the water around him blurs.

He raises his arms to protect his face just before he’s about to smack into the wall and-

The change is complete. He doesn’t need air anymore because he’s not human anymore. Time has lost its meaning because to him, time doesn’t move the same.

He can sense them, sense them searching for him, sense them giving up, sense them grieving; sense them die. All in such a short amount of time that he barely has time to register it.

When the Wraith invade, he kills them, one by one. The Wraith may be tough, but unlike him they are living creatures. They need oxygen. They need nourishment. Some rooms he fills with the liquid that surrounds him, letting the corpses flush out along with the water when it’s done. Other rooms he removes the air from. He considers submerging and opening all the doors, but even as he tries, he is frozen.

He can’t do it. He doesn’t want to die.

Finally, they’re all gone, but he is weary. He doesn’t have a lot of energy left, and even though he’s killed thousands of them there are millions more coming.

And all the ones he cared for are dead. He wants to weep, but he can’t. Not anymore.

His whole world is gone and he’ll be there to grieve it for eternity, even when he’s run out of energy.

Because he’s not human anymore and he can’t die.


He surges upwards with a gasp as he wakes and almost smacks his head against Rodney's.

"Whoa, hey, easy." Rodney grabs a hold of his shoulders, steadying him, and John stares at him, breathing hard. "I take it you weren't dreaming about scantily clad ladies."

John looks around, unsure before seeing Rodney, really seeing him. He lets Rodney gently push him down against the pillows. "You okay?"

John laughs shakily, his heart still hammering away in his chest. "Yeah, just a stupid dream."

Rodney smiles, putting his hand flat on John's chest, but John doesn't miss the concern in his eyes. "That looked very scary for a stupid dream. You almost knocked me out."

John swallows, the dream still lingering on the periphery of his waking. He lets his hand drift to where Rodney's is against his chest and he covers it, looking down at them both. Rodney’s hand is warm under his. "Sorry."

Rodney frowns as if he sees through the apology. "It's okay. I’ve been told I have a very thick skull.”

John smiles and starts to relax. “That’s true.”

“Want to talk about it?” Rodney asks lightly.

John considers it. “Not really.”

“Good. Never been much of a listener.”

John slides his hand behind Rodney’s neck and pulls him down, kissing him hard. When he pulls back, Rodney is panting and John runs his thumb over his slick lower lip. “You listen just fine.”

Rodney eyes are dark as he swallows. “Well. That’s good.”

“Do we have to get up soon?” John cranks his neck to the side, trying to see the clock on his bedside table.

Rodney tilts his head back and bites at John’s mouth. “We’ve got the next several days off. We don’t have to get up at all.”

John quirks an eyebrow. “That sucks.”

Rodney frowns in confusion for a moment before rolling his eyes. “You’re so lame.”

“You started it!”

“Ha! Who started talking about getting up?”

Instead of answering, John kisses Rodney again. Rodney licks his lips. “Okay. I’ll drop it. For now.” With that he moves down John’s body and starts pulling down John’s sweats.


He leaves Rodney in bed, snoring. He feels a little bad about going while Rodney is still sleeping, but he doesn’t really want to explain to Rodney why he’s leaving.

If he stayed in bed any longer, Rodney’s warm body pressed to his, he’d fall asleep. And he really doesn’t want to fall asleep. He’s never been in control of his dreams, though he’d wished he was more times than he can remember, but he’s never been this out of control either.

Because how *had* he known that Rodney sat in the chair? It was as though his dreams were more than just that, and that scares the hell out of him.

He’s used to being scared; he isn’t used to being scared about stuff he doesn’t know what to do about.

Frankly, he’s getting pretty sick of it.


He finds John in the recreation room, watching that football game. He stands in the doorway, eyes shifting between the game and the Major. “Don’t you ever get tired of watching that?”

John doesn’t flinch, but Rodney can see him straightening up a little. He doesn’t turn around. “It’s a classic.”

Rodney makes a derisive sound. “Oliver Twist is a classic, that’s just a step from torture through boredom.”

“No one’s making you watch it,” John says easily and Rodney frowns.

“Are you okay?”

“Sure.” He still isn’t turning around and Rodney can feel the doubt starting to gnaw at the back of his mind.

He pushes it away. “Okay, so you want to join me for some lunch? I hear that they brought over fresh vegetables from the mainland.” He makes his voice exaggeratingly enthusiastic. “There might be things fresher than two month old pudding being served!”

“I’m not hungry right now.”

Rodney nods, trying not to feel disappointed. It’s not like he’ll enjoy the food less just because the Major isn’t there. “Okay. Will I, uh, will I see you tonight?”

“I’m not sure, Dr Weir wanted to go over something things, said it might be late.”

Which sounds perfectly reasonable. It would sound even more so if he’d just turn his head around and look at Rodney.

Rodney opens his mouth to say something but closes it. Maybe he shouldn’t push it. He’ll freely admit to never having been too good with the whole relationship thing.

He won’t push. He can do that.


John is sitting on the mess hall balcony, pushing his dinner away and looking at the sunset when Rodney sits down opposite him, a determined expression on his face. “I realize I’m not exactly good at this, but really, if you need a real apology, I can actually do that.”

John blinks. “What?”

“I just get a bit thrown when you say that you're not blaming me for something when you clearly are.”

John frowns. “What are you talking about?”

“I'm talking about ‘sorry, Rodney, I’m busy’ and ‘maybe later’ and all the other lame excuses you’ve come up with when I’ve tried to talk to you. Just yell at me or something, it's what normal people do.” He swallows but doesn’t look away. “Or if you want to break it off, just tell me. I can take it.”

“No! That’s not…” He sighs. “I screwed up, Rodney.”

“Okay,” Rodney says slowly, “you screwing up sounds better than me screwing up.”

“I don’t regret it,” and it shouldn’t be so gratifying to see the relief in Rodney’s face, but it is. “And I don’t blame you. You were out of your mind, it wasn’t your fault.”

"So…" Rodney looks at him intensely. "If it's not that…what's going on?"

"I've been having these dreams."

Most of the time, he likes that Rodney catches on so fast, but this isn’t one of those times. “That nightmare wasn’t the first one, was it?”


“How long?”

“Little more than a week.”

“And they’re really messing with your head,” Rodney concludes.

John snorts, but nods never the less. “Yeah.”

“Are they…” Rodney hesitates. “Are they about Sumner?”

John looks at him in surprise. “No.” He pauses, then continues. “I haven’t had those for some time.”

Rodney nods. “Okay. Then what are they about? If you were anyone else, I’d guess they were about the Wraith, but…”

John frowns. “You don’t think I dream about the Wraith?”

“Well, I’m sure you’ve dreamed about them at some point, but if that was what you were dreaming about right now, you’d be acting guiltier.”

John stares at Rodney. “When did you start knowing me so well?”

Red crept up Rodney’s neck. “I’m just a perceptive guy, Major,” he huffs, but he looks nervous.

John smiles slowly. “You like me.”

Rodney snorts, “No, I always sleep with people I don’t like,” then hurriedly looks around to see if anyone was close enough to hear.

“Don’t worry, Rodney,” John says lightly, but he’s still smiling, “I always sleep with people I don’t like too.”

Rodney looks hopeful. “Yeah?”

John nods. “Yeah.”

“That’s…that’s a relief.” Rodney smiles but then his eyes narrow. “But while it’s nice, it’s not distracting me from the subject at hand.”

“Damn,” John mock-grouses, but his mirth fades all-together.

Rodney sighs. “Look. You don’t have to tell me. Just…stop avoiding me. It freaks me out. My track record when it comes to relationships isn’t exactly impressive. More like frightening.”

John looks at him for a long time, long enough for Rodney to start fidgeting. “What?”

“In the beginning,” he starts slowly, “I was in the ocean, turning into something but waking up before knowing what. Then the dreams changed, and Chaya was there.”

Rodney frowned. “Chaya?”

“She does something to me, saying that she’s only enhancing what was already there. And then…” He breaks off, looking away.


“Then I turn into Atlantis, you all die and I start killing of the Wraith that arrive to the city.”

Rodney’s eyebrows rise. “Wow. That’s different.”

John nods.

“I was wrong, you do dream about the Wraith. Just not the dreams I dream.”

“I figured.”

“So, not to sound insensitive…” At John’s incredulous look, he adds, “For once.” He studies John. “But…what is it about the dreams that freak you out?”

This time, John’s eyebrows rise. “Besides me turning into Atlantis?”

“Hey, I once turned into Big Bird, that’s trauma.”

John smiles, but from Rodney’s expression he can tell that it’s a weak smile.

“What aren’t you telling me?” Rodney asks, and damn it but he *is* perceptive.

“I thought you said I didn’t have to tell you,” John stalls.

Rodney is unfazed. “Yes, but then you did.”

“I think…that the dreams aren’t just dreams.”

“You think you’re turning into Atlantis?”

“Well, obviously not. Right?”

“Right,” Rodney agrees.

John looks out over the ocean; the sun has almost set completely, leaving the sky sharp red, the water reflecting a slightly darker color. “But, I can feel it. Her. Atlantis. Not just in my dreams. All the time.” He looks back at Rodney, whose face is unreadable. “And I felt it when you sat in the chair.”

Rodney’s eyes narrow and he looks disgruntled, but John recognizes that he’s just thinking. “So, the connection between you and Atlantis is deeper than we thought.”

“You think that Atlantis is making me dream these dreams?”

Rodney looks out over the ocean as well, and this time John can read his expression clearly; he’s uncomfortable. “This might sound crazy…”

“Hey,” John interrupts, “considering what I just told you, I think you can safely tell me anything without me judging your sanity.”

Rodney’s lips twitches. “Good point.” He takes a deep breath. “When I was connected with Atlantis, it was like…it was like the city had a life of its own. I wouldn’t say that it’s a sentient being, but it’s not simply a city either.” He looks at John, his face troubled. “To be honest, I don’t know what to make of it.”

John frowns. “Well, that’s…freaky.”

“Well, yes. I sort of expected living in a city, nothing else.”

“No, I mean that you don’t know what to make of it.”

Rodney laughs quietly. “Asshole.”

“So…we’re both crazy?”

Rodney nods. “Either that, or we’re incredibly sane.”

John nods as well and they say in chorus, “Crazy.”

Rodney picks up a sandwich that John left and takes a bite. "Maybe the dreams aren't a bad thing. Maybe it's your way of understanding the city. You could always talk to Heightmeyer, I'm sure she'll have theories. You, um, you might want to see Carson too."

"Why? I'm not sick."

"Maybe he can give you something to make you sleep and- what?"

John shakes his head, still smiling. “I'm touched you care.”

”Oh, I don't,” Rodney assures him, “I just don't want you to try and kill me in your sleep.”

“Uh huh.” John grins. “Wanna go watch a movie?”

Rodney opens his mouth before closing it again, looking entirely lost by the non sequitor. “Um. What kind of movie?”

“I hear that Bates finally ‘fessed up about bringing Barbarella.”

Rodney’s face is one of disbelief. “Are you trying to reinforce your heterosexuality?”

“I think that it’s probably too late for that,” John says, taking the sandwich out of Rodney’s hand, their fingers brushing.

“Good. Then maybe we could go to my room.” Rodney’s smile makes John feel warm. “I’m confident that my bed is actually bigger than yours.”

“Hmm. Definitely calls for further investigation,” John agrees and they stand, Rodney accompanying him as he returns the tray.

He doesn’t notice that as they leave the mess hall, the hum that has been in his head ever since he got here quiets down to a murmur and that when they enter Rodney’s quarters, frantically kissing and groping, the temperature is lowered slightly.

Afterwards, he sleeps without dreams.


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