Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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
“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.”
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
“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,
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.
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
“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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
Rodney rolled his eyes. "Well, I think we can disregard the
last one since John Wayne probably didn't have a hand in building
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
“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
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
“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
“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,
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,
“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
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
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
“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
“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
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
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
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
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
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,
“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,
“I swear to god, Rodney, if I find hail in my room, I’m kicking your
“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
“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
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
“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,
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
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
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
John frowned. “You mean submerging it again?”
Rodney shook his head. “No. I mean moving it to a different planet
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
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.
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,
“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
“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
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
“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,
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
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
“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
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
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
”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
“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
"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
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
“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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
They sit in silence, listening to the hissing and beeping of the
“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
“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
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
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
John frowned. “From what?”
“Imminent destruction, painful deaths, the usual,” Rodney said, scratching
John raised his eyebrows. “O-kay. Thank you for the clear and specific
“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
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
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
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
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
It wasn't a kiss meant for pleasure or love. It was a kiss out of
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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.
“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
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.”
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
“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 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
“Sure,” Rodney murmurs and closes his eyes.
“Wait, don’t fall asleep. Roll off me first.”
“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
"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
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
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
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
“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
“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
“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
“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.”
“I was wrong, you do dream about the Wraith. Just not the dreams
“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
“What aren’t you telling me?” Rodney asks, and damn it but he *is*
“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
“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.