Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate: Atlantis, the characters, or any part of the Stargate Franchise--that honor goes to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (herein after "MGM"), Syfy, Gekko Media, Acme Shark and all other ancillary production companies. This is their world, I just play in it.
Summary & Inspiration: Sparky is accidentally put into an alternate dimension. Of course, no one can see them, but THEY can see and hear everyone. You can write just Sparky's viewpoint or add in various people on Atlantis (which I would love to see). It can range from humorous to angsty plus everything in between. Not really looking for smut, but a little lovin' might be fun.
Beta Reader: the wonderful the_scary_kitty . Muchas gracias, amiga, especially the quick beta'ing!
Author's Notes: This was written for lady_xan over at the Sparky Santa fic exchange. Special thanks to bluewillowtree and anuna_81 for their patience and inspiration in getting me to finish this up despite some difficulties in December.
“And that, my friend, is that.” Doctor Rodney McKay stepped back from the Ancient machine he’d been tinkering with, watching as it whirred to life, and turned a triumphant face towards Radek Zelenka. “Come on, pay up.”
The Czech scientist frowned. “You have still not made it work, Rodney.”
“And what do you call that?”
“The power is on. But you have still not determined what it does.”
“There was nothing in the bet that specified we needed to know what it does—just get it working again.”
“Working again implies it is working at what it does.” Zelenka fluttered fingers towards the device. “Bells and whistles—or lights, perhaps in this case—do not indicate it is working properly, just that the power is on. Would you not agree, Colonel Sheppard?”
John Sheppard glanced over at them from his position near the door, shifting his weight to his other side, and crossed his arms. “Zelenka does kinda have a point, Rodney.”
“Oh, well, thanks for the support! I thought you were on my team.”
“Actually, you’re on my team. And hey, I’m not the one who bet a month’s pay—again—on whether he could get this thing working in ten minutes or less. All I’m saying is that if you’re going to bet on whether you can figure out how a machine works, you’d better figure out how it works.”
“Fine. I’ll have it there,” Rodney huffed in return, toying with some of the wiring. “Give me a minute.”
“You have four left.”
John maneuvered himself a little closer to the scientists, studying the circular machine with interest. “Any indication what this thing is supposed to do?”
“Not exactly,” Zelenka said. “Apparently the Ancients did not keep many records on any of the laboratories here on Atlantis. But the fact that this structure is located not far from the Ascension machine may be indicative of the properties it possesses.”
“I thought we weren’t going to mention the Ascension machine again,” Rodney muttered, popping his head out from the back of the device.
“That was your rule.”
“I still don’t understand why Elizabeth doesn’t let you guys follow up on that,” John said, leaning on the device. “We could learn some very useful stuff from it.”
“Uh, hello? Almost died of super-brain,” McKay remarked. “As it stands, though, I did mention to Elizabeth that if you wanted to become some sort of Wraith-Ancient-Hybrid Super Ascended, you were more than welcome to try.”
“Thanks,” John smirked back. “I’m touched you care.”
“There.” Rodney popped a panel back on the machine, stepping back and
punching the button on the side once more. The machine whirred as the front piece, a circular pane of glass, lit up for a moment. John and Zelenka took a few rapid paces back as the machine seemed to max out, then promptly died.
“Two minutes,” Zelenka said.
“I’m getting it, I’m getting it. Just a few crystals to tweak.”
“I’m not saying I need to be a super hero. Just that we might, you know, really benefit from a device that can make us more powerful than the Wraith.”
“Does not the fact that Rodney nearly died cause you any concern?”
John shrugged. “I’m sure the two of you can figure it out how to make it safe.”
“That’s only if Elizabeth would let us try,” Rodney said. “Which she will not.”
“Perhaps if you asked her, Colonel.”
“What difference would that make?”
Zelenka’s normally stoic expression lightened into a sort of grin. “Perhaps some.”
John raised an eyebrow, leaning forward on the machine again. “Well, forget it. Besides, I’ve already tried. Twice. And why would you think my asking Elizabeth would make some kind of difference? I don’t have any more influence over her than anybody else.”
“Perhaps you are right,” the Czech scientist said. “I should perhaps ask that oceanographer who came on board from the Daedalus last week. He has been spending a great deal of time in her office.”
John’s grip on the machine slipped and he stumbled forward, knocking into the device and causing the column to rattle. “Oceanographer?”
“OW!” Rodney shouted, his head popping up again from the back of the device. “Watch it! Are you trying to kill me? You know how these things can get if you mishandle them! I could have grown another arm!”
“One minute left, Rodney.”
“I get an extra thirty seconds for the interruption by Colonel Clumsy,” McKay
muttered, poking back into the machine.
The Czech scientist’s grin widened as he turned his attention back to John. “I am not familiar with him, only that he is young and I’ve been told considered ‘handsome’ by the female scientists.”
John frowned. “Handsome, huh?”
“It’s not that Ricketts guy, is it?” piped Rodney from somewhere behind the device again. “The one with the big nose and the crazy hair?”
Zelenka eyed Sheppard’s hair for a moment. “I believe that is the one.”
“Oh, wait…the one that dresses like he just got back from Abbey Road?” John asked, nose wrinkling. “They think he’s handsome?”
“There is no one to account for taste.”
“That’s what I’ve always said,” Rodney murmured. “I mean, the guy’s nose is the size of Nebraska.”
“Well, you are perhaps not the best judge of male handsomeness, Rodney.”
“Maybe not,” John replied. “But there are some standards we can all go by. Like how not to look like you just stepped out of 1972.”
“Perhaps we should ask Doctor Weir,” Zelenka returned. “She may be able to judge.”
“Judge what?” asked a familiar voice from the doorway. Elizabeth Weir, head of the Expedition, marched into the lab with a smile on her face.
“Nothing,” John said quickly. “What’s up?”
“I’ve been trying to radio you. How goes the progress, boys?”
“Slow,” said Zelenka triumphantly.
“Got it!” Rodney shouted. “Ten seconds to spare!”
“I’m happy for you, Rodney,” Elizabeth returned, on-cue. “And do we know what it is your little ten-second project does?”
“We’re about to find out,” Rodney replied.
“Well, it’s going to have to wait. I have a meeting with Doctor Ricketts in fifteen minutes, and Colonel, you have an assignment.”
“What? But I have to see if it works!”
“You can do that when you get back. In the meantime…John?” She frowned as he didn’t respond, just stood where he was, eyeing her with a frown on his face.
“Colonel Sheppard?” Zelenka reached out and tapped him.
He snapped out of his reverie with a start. “What?!”
“John, are you alright?”
His eyes widened. “Uh, yeah. Sorry, just thinking about...someone. What were you saying?”
“I need you to take your team—that includes you, Rodney—out to M14-535. Apparently there’s been some kind of a disturbance out there.”
“Oh, great. Wraith or Replicator?”
“Neither. Energy field. Nothing serious, just something to check out. Maybe we’ll get lucky and get our hands on another ZPM.”
“Why didn’t you radio us?” John asked.
“I have been. For the last five minutes. Apparently whatever you’re doing here,” she gestured at the machine, “is interfering with the radio signals.”
“So it was working!” Rodney snapped. “Pay up, Zelenka!”
“It was not working, Rodney. It was functioning. There is a distinct difference, even you must admit this.”
“It was interfering with the radio! That means it’s emitting some kind of energy field and therefore it was working!”
“And the whales from a few months ago were interfering with the radio; that does not mean they were working like Ancient equipment.”
“Oh, don’t go blaming Sam because you lost a bet,” Rodney snapped back.
Elizabeth watched them amusedly for a second, then turned back towards the door. “Ten minutes, John.”
“Got it,” he murmured. “Rodney…”
“You want to know if it’s working? Fine! Let’s find out, shall we?” McKay slapped his hand down on the initiation button, the machine roaring into life once more. This time there was a keen whistling sound accompanying the whirring and flashing lights.
Elizabeth turned, watching the machine with a mixture of surprise and concern. “Rodney?”
The panel on the front began to glow, slowly at first, and then gaining in intensity, the prism of light directed right where Elizabeth was standing.
John reached out a hand towards her. “Elizabeth, get down!”
She wasn’t moving quickly enough, and they all knew it. He launched forward, managing to throw himself in front of her as a high intensity beam shot from the device, engulfing them in a bright, yellow light.
After a few seconds the machine exhausted itself, and the light in the room died away.
Rodney pulled himself from the floor, surveying the damage. Around them the room looked relatively untouched and where he’d expected at least a huge black hole in the wall, or maybe a spattering of the blood and guts of his leadership, there was, thankfully, nothing.
Zelenka crawled to his knees and adjusted his glasses, which had gone askew following his rapid face plant. “What just happened?”
“I don’t know,” Rodney replied, a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. “I just turned it on, and…”
“More importantly,” Radek interrupted, eyes wide as he surveyed the room, “where are Colonel Sheppard and Doctor Weir?”
Elizabeth blinked, trying to clear the spots from her vision. She was lying on her back, that much she could tell, and her body felt strange, like someone had shoved her into one of those velocity rides at the amusement park.
There was a weight lying across her chest; she lifted her head slightly and caught sight of John’s arm draped across…well, she’d rather not think about what it was draped across. She wriggled a little, forcing it down around her stomach, then raised a hand to his head, which was turned away from her.
He groaned, which, for him, was a good sign.
“What the hell just happened?” he muttered, lifting his head from the floor and pushing up. Turning to face her brought them nose-to-nose, and he blinked for a moment, eyes widening, before shoving himself to his knees. “Uh…sorr…you alright?” he stuttered.
She offered up a poor excuse for a smile. “I think so. You?”
“I’ve been better. As far as being hit by weird beams of energy, this rates about a six.”
Elizabeth raised an eyebrow at that, then motioned with her chin towards Rodney and Zelenka, who were arguing over the device that had just emitted the light. “Their concern is touching.”
John pulled slowly to his feet, reaching down to assist her up and turned to the scientists. “Hey! I know that sometimes we human beings aren’t as interesting as Ancient tech, but we’d appreciate at least a little show of support. You know, on principle.”
Zelenka gestured frantically to where they were standing, yelling something at Rodney. Or it least it looked like he was yelling something, because nothing was coming out of his mouth.
She moved closer to John’s shoulder. “What’s going on?”
He frowned. “Rodney! Zelenka!”
Neither scientist paid them any mind. John shifted uncomfortably and moved closer to them, waving a hand between their faces. They continued their heated argument as though he wasn’t there. Rodney turned and Elizabeth winced as he looked to knock into John.
McKay walked right through him, moving over to study the area where they’d just been.
John’s eyes were wide; he turned to her for a second, testing the physicality of his own body. “Well, that was…weird.”
“Radek?” Elizabeth drew closer to the Czech scientist, then reached out a hand and tried to grasp his shirt. As had happened with Rodney, her fingers grazed right through his physical form, feeling a little odd, but acting transparent. She glanced back at John, panic fluttering in her chest. “John?”
“Calm down,” he soothed. “We just need to figure some way of communicating with them. Obviously that machine did something…weird...and we need them to find out what it is.”
“And how are we going to tell them that if they can’t see or hear us?” She replied.
He bit his lip, thinking. After a moment, he grinned. “Got it.”
A pad of paper was lying near Zelenka on the desk. John darted over, grabbed it and scribbled something on it. “They can’t see us, but maybe they can see this.” He held the paper in front of Radek, fluttering it. The Czech focused on it for a moment and Elizabeth held her breath.
He walked right through it. John frowned as Elizabeth crossed her arms. “So much for that idea.”
“This must be some kind of alternative dimension…type…thing…” John replied. “Like in Poltergeist. That machine must have zapped us into another plane of existence. That, or we’re dead and that machine brought us back as ghosts.”
“Well, that’s comforting,” she scoffed. “So, is this Heaven or Hell?”
“Just you and I trapped in Atlantis where no one can see us or hear us, but we can see everyone else. Is this Heaven or Hell?”
“Uh…” he licked his lips, suddenly looking extremely uncomfortable. “Would you settle for somewhere in-between?”
She laughed softly and shook her head. “Alright, so what exactly are we supposed to do now?”
“There’s got to be some way to communicate with them. I mean, it’s not like the Ancients created these devices without running into a few problems themselves. They had to have created a way to reverse the process.”
“Yeah, well, the problem is the two guys who are best qualified to figure that out have no idea we’re even here…wherever here is.”
“The radio,” he murmured. “You said you had a problem with the radio when you tried to call down here.”
“Yes,” she said slowly. “You think…”
“It is based on frequencies. Maybe this machine’s beam is built the same way and there’s a way to communicate…somehow. Let’s see,” he tapped on his headset. “Rodney? Zelenka, can you hear me? Atlantis? Damn,” he said after a few moments. “Nothing but static. What about yours?”
“I really doubt that…” she tapped the button on the headset in her ear.
“We need a science team down here…STAT!”
She nearly leapt out of her skin as Rodney’s voice barreled through the radio. He was standing near the device, wearing a peeved expression. “Rodney?”
“What is it? Do you hear something?” John questioned, drawing closer to her. She held up a hand to silence him as Chuck’s voice cut through. “Doctor McKay? Doctor Weir isn’t…”
“I know Elizabeth isn’t responding. That’s the problem!”
There was silence for a moment, and then Teyla spoke up. “Rodney? Has something happened to Doctor Weir?”
John was nearly bouncing on his toes. “What do you hear?”
“They’re reporting our disappearance. Hold on.”
“No…I’m ordering a full science team into deployment because I want to have a picnic. Yes! She and Colonel Sheppard pulled a disappearing act a few minutes ago. I need every available member of the science team that specializes in physics down here ASAP.”
“Colonel Sheppard has also gone missing?”
“Technically, they went missing together,” Zelenka cut in. Elizabeth studied him for a moment; his lips looked like they were off by a millisecond or so.
“And every additional second we spend explaining wastes the time we could be using to find them!”
“I understand, Rodney. You shall have the personnel you need.” The radio cut off, and Elizabeth smiled. “Well, at least Teyla’s keeping a cool head.”
John’s face was so close to hers she could feel his breath on her neck. “What did they say?” She turned to face him, bringing them nearly nose to nose again, and raised an eyebrow.
He took the hint and backed off a little, clearing his throat and shrugging sheepishly. “Sorry.”
“They’re ordering science teams down here. Teyla sort of took charge, thank God.”
“You try communicating with them?”
She frowned, then tapped the headset again. “Rodney?”
As before, they did not respond.
“Rodney.” Elizabeth took a breath. “RADEK!”
The Czech scientist jumped, shaking his head for a moment and withdrawing his headset, studying it. He reinserted it, and she bit her lip.
“Radek, can you hear me? It’s Elizabeth.”
Zelenka frowned, removing the headset once more and shaking it.
John nudged her arm. “He heard you.”
“He heard something,” she returned.
“Do you have battery?” Radek asked, his voice being picked up by Rodney’s mic. “I am hearing static in my headset.”
McKay frowned, then tapped the button on his headset, shutting it off. Elizabeth sagged back. “Great.”
“But he heard you,” John said, energized. “He just didn’t hear something he could understand.”
“How is that possible? And why didn’t your radio work?”
“I had it on a different frequency,” he replied after thinking for a moment. “To check the military com.” He toggled on the device, until he found a channel that was relaying something. “I can hear one of the other science teams now. We must be able to pick up the communications transmissions from our Atlantis.”
“Okay, well, we can hear them, but they can’t hear us.”
“Yet. They can’t hear us yet.”
She studied him with an interested expression. “What are you thinking?”
“Maybe if we play with the communications settings we can reverse what’s happening here.”
“So they can hear us.”
“Well, it’s worth a shot. What else do we have to lose?” Elizabeth uncrossed her arms. “We need to get to the control room.”
Teyla Emmagan stood awkwardly in front of Elizabeth Weir’s desk, offering a small smile to Major Lorne and Ronon Dex.
“They’ve both gone missing?” Major Lorne was saying, looking perturbed. “Both of them?”
“Until Rodney updates us further, I cannot fully explain what has occurred. Only that Doctor Weir and Colonel Sheppard have somehow disappeared from the city. I believe it is in the best interests of everyone not to know this until absolutely necessary.”
“You think that’s what Weir would want?” asked Ronon.
“Doctor Weir would not want to cause an unnecessary panic, especially if Rodney and his team are able to rectify the situation quickly.”
“What if they can’t?”
“Then we will need to contact Earth and speak with them about the situation. Until the time when it becomes necessary, however, keeping the exact nature of the disappearance from as much of the expedition as possible may be the wisest option.”
“What are we supposed to tell them, then?” Lorne asked.
Teyla smiled uncomfortably. “I thought perhaps explaining they were trapped together in an unexplored region of the city. Most of the expedition members know enough of Atlantis to believe this could happen.”
“How is that going to give anyone peace of mind?”
“They can be assured that for the moment both Doctor Weir and Colonel Sheppard are safe and well, just waiting on Rodney to find a way to release them.”
“Works for me,” Ronon crossed his arms, looking vaguely interested. “Any idea what might have really happened?”
“Doctor McKay was not terribly forthcoming with details,” she murmured, smiling despite herself. “But it sounded as if they had been involved in an accident with an Ancient device.”
“That’s never good,” said Lorne.
“Wasn’t Sheppard supervising McKay and Zelenka in a lab near that Ascension machine?”
“Yes,” Teyla said slowly. “Let us hope that this situation does not escalate
to that which Rodney experienced.”
“I’m sure they’ll be fine,” Lorne remarked. “I mean, they got zapped together, right?”
“Yeah, so?” Ronon raised an eyebrow.
“Well, come on,” said the Major with a grin. “Presuming they are trapped somewhere and alright, who better to be trapped with than the one person on Atlantis who worries about you most?” His smile faded as Ronon and Teyla stared at him confusedly. “I mean, they both worry about everyone equally…it’s just that, when it comes down to when the other is in trouble…I mean…uh, I’m…just…going to go down to the science labs, see if Doctor McKay wants a detail assigned.”
Teyla watched him go. “I hope he is right.”
“That Doctor Weir and Colonel Sheppard are both fine.”
Ronon reached over and squeezed her shoulder. “Hey, it’s Weir and Sheppard. If anyone can find a way to survive, it’s them.”
Walking through Atlantis in an alternative dimension was surprisingly easy, John found, especially as you didn’t have to worry about crowd control or someone stopping Elizabeth every five minutes to ask her a question. They made it to the control room in record time, and after a few disconcerting minutes trying to figure out how to get around the techs who were there—eventually realizing they had no need to go around them—they got their hands on the communications console.
Elizabeth had a slightly better understanding of communications than he did, so he played with his radio settings as she toggled with the frequency, then switched the headset to one of the common channels Rodney used.
“McKay...this is Sheppard…can you hear me?”
The response was useless static.
He shook his head, prompting Elizabeth to try another frequency. Twenty minutes later, they still had no signal, and John was beginning to be weirded out by the number of people walking through him.
“Why don’t you try city wide?” he asked as Elizabeth rubbed her forehead in frustration. “At least we can see if anybody is reacting.”
She stared at him for a moment, then flipped the switch for city wide, switched to another frequency, and gestured for him to try again. “McKay, do you copy?”
As soon as he released the “TALK” button a cacophony of sound burst into his ear and he yanked the headset out. “Ow.”
“What happened?” Elizabeth had her own headset out, one hand over her ear. “You can hear everything through here.”
“Yeah. Kinda like city wide on reverse.”
“Hmmm.” She took a few steps around the control room, walking towards the gate technician, Chuck. He was saying something that John could make out. “I can hear him better over here.”
John moved closer to her. As he drew near Chuck, the muddle of sounds died away, and Chuck’s voice became clearer. “That’s weird.”
“I don’t even think his radio is on. It’s as though the city wide frequency picks up the ancillary sound like a giant microphone.”
“And the closer you get to the speaker the more clear his voice is going to be?”
“Looks like.” She frowned. “Well, at least we can keep tabs on Rodney’s progress. It does nothing for us, though. There is still no way to let them know we’re here.”
“Guess we’ll have to keep trying.”
“Keep trying,” she repeated, sounding unconvinced.
He shrugged. “I don’t have any better ideas.”
Elizabeth made a face, crossing her arms. “Well, neither do I at the moment. Guess that means we’re stuck.” She turned towards her office.
“Hey,” he called, jogging to catch up with her. “I know it’s frustrating, but don’t worry, Rodney will figure it out.”
They entered the familiar space, Elizabeth moving to her desk and John standing in front of it.
“I know Rodney will try,” Elizabeth murmured. “But if he doesn’t know where to look—or even how to look—what good will it do? We could be trapped her for…” she paused, shaking her head. “It might be a while.”
“Is there something wrong with that? I mean, at least we’re together, right?” Her eyebrow rose and John immediately realized how that how come out sounding. “Uh, that is we, you know, don’t have to be apart...alone, I mean...we’re together, so...um...?”
Her face scrunched in amused concern. “We won’t get bored?”
“Something like that. We can offer the other support. You know, I’ll rub your back, you rub mine. Not literally,” he added quickly as her eyebrow rose again. “Uh, I think I’ll go back to the communications console, try out a few more frequencies.”
“You do that,” she said with a smile in her voice. He turned and tossed her a wry grin as he moved through the door.
Chuck met Radek Zelenka near the staircase, taking the Czech scientist’s headset from his hands. “I’m not sure what I can do with this, Doctor Zelenka.”
“Whatever you are able. I heard strange sounds in it earlier today and was unsure of what might have caused them. I would prefer not to be without a functioning headset in case something should occur.”
“It’s true, then?”
“What is true?”
“What Doctor McKay said about Doctor Weir and Colonel Sheppard getting zapped somewhere in the City this morning.”
Radek studied him for a minute, lowering his voice. “Nobody knows this. As far as the rest of the expedition is concerned, they are trapped somewhere safe, yes?”
Chuck nodded an affirmative, then leaned in a little closer. “What are we supposed to do in the meantime? They’re not going to believe that forever.”
“If you have questions, you may ask Teyla.”
They neared the communications console, which was flashing an odd sequence of lights. Doctor Zelenka frowned. “What is wrong with this?”
“We don’t know.” Chuck punched one of the lights. “They’ve been doing that for the last hour or so. We had one of the techs check it out, but she said nothing was being affected by it.”
“It started happening an hour ago or so, you said?”
“Yeah, it would be about an hour, I guess.”
“Interesting.” The Czech scientist looked distracted. “Please excuse me. I must return to the lab.”
“Sure.” As Radek made his way down the back stairs, Chuck glanced at the communications console again, which was still flashing, a few odd sequences at a time.
“Charlie,” said a smooth voice to his left. One of the new scientists—Rucketts, or Ricketts, the same guy who'd been bothering Doctor Weir every day since his arrival—was strolling through the control room. “How goes it?”
Chuck frowned at him. The guy had already moved past him down the hallway towards Doctor Weir’s office, giving him no time to reply. If there was any luck in the current situation, at least Doctor Weir had been spared his constant annoyances today.
“Good thing Colonel Sheppard doesn’t know you’re hanging around that office,” he muttered. “You’d figure out your place in Atlantis real quick.”
John stopped toggling with the console as a vaguely familiar figure strolled past the operations center.
“Charlie,” the guy smirked in an annoyingly high-pitched voice.
“Good thing Colonel Sheppard doesn’t know you’re hanging around that office,” Chuck said in response as John moved past him. “You’d figure out your place in Atlantis real quick.”
“Nice one,” John replied, as Chuck turned back to his console. “Remind me to buy you a beer later.”
The man paused and glanced around Elizabeth’s office with a frown on his face. She looked up from trying to initiate her datapad as John came up behind him.
“Who’s this?” John asked over the guy’s shoulder.
“Him? That’s Doctor Ricketts—the new oceanographer? He came over via the Daedalus last week. He was doing a few studies in the outskirts of the Milky Way before docking here for a while.”
“Ricketts, huh?” The man had cleaned up a little since John had last seen him. At least, his grungy hair was pulled into a sleek ponytail, and his blue science jersey fit a little better over the bellbottom jeans. “He the one all the girls are going nuts over?”
Elizabeth’s eyebrow rose again, and she fixed him with a coy smile. “I suppose so. Look at him.”
John frowned again, studying the guy up and down. “Doesn’t look that impressive to me.”
“Well, you’re not a girl. Rumor has it he has a tattoo somewhere you’d have to get personal to see.”
“Yes,” her grin faded. “Not that I would be interested.”
“No...the hair’s too...”
“Too what?” John’s hand was suddenly on top of his head.
“Long,” she finished. “Didn’t you say you were going to work on that communications problem?”
“Right.” He snapped his fingers, pausing as a smile crossed Ricketts’ face. The oceanographer strode around Elizabeth’s desk, moving close enough to where she was sitting that she had to roll her chair out of the way to avoid coming in contact with those ‘personal’ parts.
She watched him with a humored expression as John resisted the urge to rush him, despite knowing he’d be swinging at air. The oceanographer took a piece of paper from one of her calendars, scribbled something on the back, then strolled away jauntily.
John watch him go with a petulant expression and looked back Elizabeth’s way. She was studying the note amusedly. “What does it say?”
She returned his gaze with a frown, her face flushing a little. “Uh…I…it’s…it’s really none of your business, Colonel.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that it’s a personal matter—between me and one of the research staff.”
John furrowed his brow. “You’re playing the civilian versus military line now? Now?”
She folded her arms, giving him that ‘try-and-cross-me’ look.
“I guess you are. Alright, well, if you don’t mind, Doctor Weir, I’m going to go check on Rodney and Zelenka and see if they’ve figured anything out on how to get us the hell out of this dimension.”
He didn’t bother to wait for a response. It wasn’t as though she had any of the power to restrain him from doing whatever he felt like anyway.
And there was somewhere he wanted to stop, first.
Elizabeth frowned as John stormed out of the control center and down the gateroom steps. He’d truly seemed offended she didn’t want to show him Ricketts’ note.
She hadn’t wanted to tell him the real reason for not handing it to him. Ricketts annoyed her, and to show his foolish excuse for a message to John was, frankly, embarrassing.
Sorry I missed you, it read. Can’t wait until our next meeting. Remy.
“Remy. That fits.” She raised an eyebrow. The man must have an incredible ego to be so forthcoming and sure of himself, but she hadn’t expected John, of all people, to get bent out of shape by it. Ricketts had nothing to do with him and it bothered her that the oceanographer bothered him.
She walked over past the control room, heading to her favorite spot, uneasy by the lack of attention paid to her passing. Generally she was hounded by people asking questions, needing something approved or signed, or just acknowledging her presence. To have no one say anything felt very strange.
The balcony was cool and quiet, just as she liked it, though at this moment it’d be that way even if they were having a reception on it. A wave of panic passed through her as she contemplated having to see these familiar faces, day after day, without being able to speak to them.
Except, of course, for John.
Her heart gave a little flutter at the thought of that.
“It’s just the stress,” she murmured, trying to shove back the memory of his hurt expression as she’d defended Ricketts. “Just…”
His eyes had been so intense. So...
But her heart gave another little flutter at the thought of it.
Atlantis, Ronon thought in regard to no one in particular, was a very well put together place.
A few hours after the two most important people on the base had gone missing, not one person seemed affected by it. Most of them, of course, were unaware of the real problem, or the frantic urgency with which McKay and his team were testing and re-testing the big cylinder that had apparently zapped Weir and Sheppard out of existence, but even if they did, most of the Expedition members were handling themselves with control and poise, as though nothing was wrong.
At this particular moment, there was nothing more Ronon could do to help, so he’d retreated to the gym to work on some stances and generally ease his mind. He had faith McKay would figure out the issue and he was more than certain—in a strange, Teyla-kinda way—that Sheppard and Weir were fine. Which meant there was no point to wasting time worrying.
One of the storage closets on the far side of the room doors slid open and he turned, expecting to find someone there. Instead, the door hovered for a moment then slid closed again, with no one exiting.
Things on Atlantis didn’t malfunction. Not without Earth interference, anyway. He moved over to the door, studying it.
The gym door opened, causing him to jump a little. Teyla moved through, dressed for their workout and smiling at the expression on his face. “You look as though you have seen a ghost. The echoes of the Ancestors are not haunting us again, are they?”
“No,” he muttered with a half-smile. “Something strange with the door this time.”
She raised an eyebrow, moving over next to him. “A malfunction? That does not happen with most Ancient equipment.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.” He touched the door with his hand. “Must be something activated it.”
“Any word on Sheppard and Weir?”
“No. Rodney’s last response was, I believe, ‘if I found something I would let you know, wouldn’t I?’”
He tossed her a knowing look. “Typical McKay.”
She smiled, drawing her banto sticks from her bag. “Yes.”
He allowed her the time to get her stuff together and met her on the floor, setting into their assumed positions.
“You still worried?” he murmured as she whirled around him, twirling her sticks.
Her first move was a straight thrust attack. He dodged it as she moved past him. “Not as much. I have faith that Rodney and his team will discover the cause of their disappearance and retrieve them.”
“What about Weir and Sheppard?” He reached out, striking at her. She ducked smoothly and danced around him.
“What about them?”
“You still concerned about them?”
“Providing they are unharmed, I believe Doctor Weir and Colonel Sheppard will be fine. They are together, as Major Lorne mentioned.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Ronon ducked and rolled as Teyla leapt towards him.
“They seem to be stronger when they are together,” she returned, coming to a halt across from him.
He straightened and took a breath. “Wonder why that is?”
“I am not sure,” she shrugged. “Perhaps it has to do with their both being from Earth.” She crouched down before him again. “They are simply quite comfortable together.”
“Yeah.” He swung out at her, which she once again dodged. As she straightened, he grinned. “Heard one of the scientists call them ‘the old married couple’ the other day.”
He shrugged. "In a way it's kinda true."
“They are...extremely comfortable with one another at times, I will concede,” Teyla’s grin widened. “But I believe it would be best not to mention that to either of them.”
“Don’t think they could handle it?”
“I do not think they would know how to respond. Neither of them realizes how they act when they’re together. Or that many on Atlantis refer to them in that manner,” she returned, stalking to the side.
“They can be clueless about things.”
“Another trait of which they should not be made aware,” she said with a humored expression.
She’d moved, but a sharp knock across the room near one of the columns caught his attention, distracting him enough to allow her a sharp thwack to his side with one of her sticks. She fixed him with a grin as he went staggering to the side. “Concentration, Ronon.”
The door to the gym opened with the familiar beep of someone running their hand over the controls—but there was no one there. He studied it with a frown, Teyla joining alongside him as they watched the door open and close.
“Hm. Perhaps your ghosts are real,” she murmured, echoing his thoughts.
John stalked down the corridor from the gym, his shoulder smarting and ears, for lack of a better word, burning.
“‘Clueless’,” he snorted, making a face. Showed how much Ronon and Teyla knew. “We do not act like we’re married.”
He’d wanted to go to the gym and blow off some steam—the punching bag made a nice version of Ricketts—which had been working quite nicely until Ronon came in. At that point he’d abandoned punching and attempted some kind of contact, but despite his efforts, neither Ronon, nor Teyla when she entered, noticed his presence. The only thing that had caught their attention was when he opened the storage closet to put back his equipment, and presumably the door opening.
He wasn’t normally an eavesdropping kinda guy, but with their voices carrying easily over citywide it wasn’t difficult to overhear their conversation.
Who knew Teyla and Ronon were a bunch of gossips?
“Married,” he muttered again. “Why on earth would they think…?”
A vision of Elizabeth waiting for him in his quarters flashed through his mind. He froze mid-step, flexing his fingers and trying desperately to push it out of his head, especially as she suddenly changed from her traditional red-shirt-black-pant-ensemble to something much more provocative—though still red.
“Get a grip!” he snapped to himself, trying to focus on something—anything—that would suffice for a cold shower.
Two members of the science team walked by, arguing about something having to do with stars and parsecs, which immediately reminded him of Rodney. “Thank you!”
McKay was probably still in his lab, trying to figure out the machine. John decided to resume his original task, and check to see if they’d figured out a way back to their dimension.
The sooner, the better.
Elizabeth turned, frowning as the doors slid open. She didn’t know how long she’d been standing on the balcony, but apparently even being alone you couldn’t really be alone.
“...as unfortunate, but I feel much better knowing they’re together,” Doctor Biro was saying in her chirpy way to her companion—a recently relocated French scientist named Francoise Dubois. “Colonel Sheppard can get them through anything and if there’s anyone worth trusting to keep a calm head it’d be Doctor Weir.”
“True,” Dubois returned, “and they certainly won’t get bored.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well? I can imagine they’re taking the time to enjoy themselves away from prying eyes.”
Biro frowned. “Away from prying eyes? Why would Doctor Weir and Colonel Sheppard want to be away from prying eyes?”
Dubois grinned suggestively, shaking her hips a little. Biro’s mouth dropped open as Elizabeth straightened indignantly.
“What on Earth gave you the impression they were doing that?” shrieked Biro. “I mean, I know they’re together all the time. And he does go into her office a lot. And she certain spends more time than a mother hen worrying over him when he goes on missions. But...”
“It’s in the eyes,” Dubois returned, her French accent sliding over the words seductively. “They stare at each other ALL the time.”
“We do not!” Elizabeth snapped.
“And you couldn’t shove them together any closer if you tried. Half the time they are...how do you say it? ‘Glued at the hip?’”
“No!” Biro giggled, shoving off Dubois’s shoulder. “Not really. But you’re right, they are.”
“So,” Dubois waggled her fingers, “if they really are trapped—alone—you can only imagine what they’d be doing. I can imagine what I’d be doing if it was Colonel Sheppard.”
“You’re so awful,” Biro giggled again. “Come on, we’ve got to go back and help Doctor McKay.”
Elizabeth pulled to her full height as they straightened, making a mental note to reassign Doctor Dubois somewhere far on the other side of the Milky Way.
Rodney, as usual, was snapping at everyone getting in his way by the time John reached the lab. But at least he was still working diligently on the machine.
“Zelenka! Where the hell is Zelenka?”
“Right here, Rodney,” the Czech scientist murmured, entering the lab. “What has happened?”
“Nothing, so far. Where have you been? I need you to…well, technically I don’t need you, but who else understands when I order them to do something?”
“My headset was broken,” Radek responded, presumably ignoring that last remark. “But something strange has occurred.”
“You mean beyond our Expedition heads getting zapped into oblivion?”
“The communications console was malfunctioning this morning.”
“And that is relevant because...”
“Our radios were affected by this machine.”
Rodney turned back to him, now either vaguely interested or more annoyed that Radek was taking up his time. “And?”
“I thought when my headset malfunctioned I was hearing voices.”
“This is not the time for you to be having a mental breakdown.”
“It was not...Rodney, I believe whatever happened to Doctor Weir and Colonel Sheppard may have something to do with communications malfunctioning.”
“There you go, Radek,” John murmured excitedly.
“That’s ridiculous. This machine could have zapped them anywhere, at anytime, in any place. Why would it have anything to do with our communications?”
“The fact that it interfered with radios before the accident and then afterwards we are having all these occurrences is not a coincidence for you?”
“Frankly, no. Stuff malfunctions all the time.”
“Well, no.” Rodney paused, waving around a wrench. “I’ve never seen that malfunction on its own...”
“The console was lighting up this morning without anyone touching it.”
Rodney frowned. “The Ancient console?”
“Yes. And I have just come from the jumper bay. They are also experiencing difficulties with their radio frequencies.”
John bounced on his toes eagerly. “Come on McKay, put the pieces together…”
“Probably just a power issue,” Rodney said finally. “The experiment more than likely affected one of the power conduits. Now if we’re done here, I’d like to get back to something important. Like finding our leadership!”
John sank back into a slouch.
“The voice I heard sounded like Doctor Weir.”
Rodney’s eyes snapped back to him. “Why didn’t you say that in the first place?”
“You did not ask!”
“Hey,” McKay snapped his fingers, gesturing to two of his science team, “you. Here. Keep an eye on this. But don't touch anything. We’re going to the control room.”
Elizabeth managed to calm herself enough to consider going back to her office—and restrain herself from filing a notice to ship off Doctor Dubois.
For a little while.
She marched back through the balcony doors and knocked straight into John, who managed to prevent the both of them toppling over by seizing hold of her waist. She locked eyes with him in surprise, grasping hold of his shoulders.
I know what I’d be doing if it was Colonel Sheppard...
She felt the blood rush to her face and she stuttered an uncertain apology. His expression melted from surprise to subdued as he steadied and released her quickly. It appeared he hadn't yet forgotten their recent argument.
“I was just coming to get you," he said stoically. "Figured you’d be out here since you weren’t in your office.”
“You...you know me pretty well.”
“Yeah, well,” to her surprise his expression lightened and he colored a little bit. “Looks like Zelenka’s onto something.”
“Yeah. I always thought he was smarter than Rodney.”
She followed him to the control room, where Rodney, Zelenka and Chuck had gathered near the communications panel, shooing away the other technicians.
Rodney was bent over the back side of the console, glancing at the keys. “When did you say the keyboard stopped functioning?”
Chuck blinked. “It didn’t stop functioning. It started lighting up. As though someone was pressing it.”
“As though someone was pressing it to change frequencies,” Zelenka added.
“You. Move.” Rodney flicked his hands at the technician and moved to the front, punching one of the transmission buttons. “Elizabeth. Can you hear me?”
She turned to John. “I can hear him, but only because we figured out how to hear him.”
“Try talking back to him.”
She shrugged, pressing the TALK button on her headset. “Rodney?”
He did not respond; just played around with the frequencies again. “Elizabeth?”
“This is so frustrating,” she murmured. John narrowed his eyes, then reached over to the console and punched a few keys on the board in a rhythmic sequence. Elizabeth studied his movements, then grinned. “Of course.”
The group in front of them stopped.
“Did you see that?” Zelenka murmured.
“Not blind,” Rodney snapped back, studying the keys. “What happened?”
“It wasn’t anything we pushed,” Chuck said. “It was an SOS.”
“Again, not blind. I can read Morse code. How did it happen?”
“What if it is them?”
“It is Morse Code. Who else would know it besides Colonel Sheppard?”
Rodney eyed Zelenka for a moment. “Elizabeth, Colonel Sheppard—is that you?”
John tapped back on the keys a series of signals, Elizabeth moving closer to observe him.
Rodney followed closely until the sequence stopped. “Oh my god, it’s them.”
“Thank goodness,” Zelenka replied.
“Where are you? Are you physically intact? We need details here.”
John rolled his eyes and started tapping on the keys again.
“Sheppard says they’re physically fine. He says...are you kidding?”
Zelenka frowned. “What?”
Chuck raised his eyes to Radek. “Colonel Sheppard says they’re in a version of Atlantis where they can see and hear us.”
“Another version of Atlantis?”
“It must be another dimension,” Zelenka returned, arms crossed. “The machine must be an interdimensional transporter.”
“Really? And was it his mention of being in another version of Atlantis that tipped you off?” Rodney glared at him. “How different is it over there?”
Elizabeth tapped her fingers impatiently as John did his best to explain in Morse code.
“Okay, not different at all, except we can’t see or hear them.”
“But they can hear us?”
Zelenka ignored the attitude. “So they can pick up our signals, but we can’t pick up theirs. Probably because their headsets got zapped back with them.”
“What would that have to do with anything?”
“Well, the Earth technology on ‘this side’ is confined to ‘this side’. We cannot see them but they can see us; we cannot hear them but they can hear us. I believe the technology they took with them would be affected by what we do but not what they do.”
“And what about this?” Chuck gestured to the communications panel. “Why can they use this?”
Rodney made a face. “I don’t know...because it’s Ancient? Since the device was developed by the Ancients it’s probable they developed it to allow people zapped by it to interact with Ancient equipment. They wouldn't have created it to accommodate our technology.”
“This is all very interesting, but what the hell are we going to do to get out of this ‘alterna-Atlantis’?” John sniped, punching furiously.
“Doctor McKay...” Chuck read the keys with a confused look on his face. “A-l-t-e-r-n-a A-t-l...oh...I think he wants to know what they need to do.”
“Right now? Nothing. We need to go back and test that machine for frequency variations. If radio signals can cross the boundary between us and them, then getting them back may follow the same principle.” He turned, gesturing towards Zelenka. “Any day you feel like solving this?”
“Of course. Doctor Weir! Colonel Sheppard!” he said, his voice ticking up a notch. “Do not worry! We will have this figured out quickly!”
The rest of the control room staff turned to look at him confusedly.
Rodney stared at him for a moment, then rolled his eyes. “We’ll radio them when we’ve got something. If they need us, punch,” he gestured to the console, turning back to Chuck and dropping his voice to a whisper. “Oh. And don’t mention this to anyone. I mean, you can tell Teyla but better if the rest of the expedition doesn’t know their leaders are trapped in Atlantis with the ability to spy on them.”
“Spy on them?” Elizabeth turned to John, feeling something between amusement and irritation. Chuck suddenly looked really uncomfortable, casting his gaze around various parts of the control room. “We’re the ones who got stuck here and he’s worried about us spying on people?”
“Well, I guess it’s sorta true.”
“Maybe it is but that doesn’t mean we’re going to go out there and deliberately spy on people.”
“Not even Mr. Personal Tattoo?”
“Well,” he leaned his elbow on the console, ignoring the fact that Chuck was currently swinging a hand through his head, “if you wanted a good look without having to worry about non-fraternization rules, now’s the perfect time.”
She crossed her arms, narrowing her eyes. “I can’t believe you’d even think that I’d do something like that. I guess I take it back.”
“Take what back?”
“You don’t know me that well.” She twirled on her heel, marching towards the control room steps. She paused at the landing to look back up at him. “And in case you’ve forgotten, Colonel, I’m not bound by non-fraternization rules.”
She enjoyed the dismayed look on his face as she marched out of the gate room.