ShaViva's Stargate Fan ... Stuff

Inconceivable!

Fortunate Journey Season One Part One

Rating: M

Content Warning: Some adult themes, minor language, minor violence

Season: 1

Summary: An accidental trip through the Stargate turns out to be fortuitous when a potential weapon to defeat the Wraith is discovered. This is the story of season 1 from the first person perspective of an original character – I have followed the basic sign posts for season 1 but AU’d everything to include my character and a relationship for Sheppard into the mix.

Classifications: Drama, Romance

Pairings: John Sheppard & Original Character

Spoilers for: Everything in Season 1 but especially Hide and Seek, The Storm, The Eye, The Gift, Sanctuary, Before I Sleep, and The Siege Pt 1, 2 and 3.

Disclaimer: The Stargate characters, storylines, etc aren’t mine – I’m just taking them out for a little test drive. I am unfortunately not associated in any way with the creators, owners, or producers of Stargate or any of its media franchises. All publicly recognizable characters, settings, equipment, etc are the property of whoever owns them. The original characters and plot and anything else I made up are the property of me, the author. No copyright infringement is intended.

Authors Note: This hasn't been checked by anyone else so any errors are entirely my doing (despite the many many many times I've read and reread it looking for them!). Also note that this is the first fan fiction I've ever written and also the first thing I've written that I ever let anyone else read.

Copyright (c) 2008 ShaViva


Chapter 1: You need to get out of here – NOW!


I know what you're going to say - that it would be impossible for someone to end up in another galaxy by accident. Before it happened to me I would have agreed! I was between jobs and had decided to head down to Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado for no particular reason other than that I'd never been there before and it was a long way so I'd get to do some real driving. That first night I stumbled across a place called O'Malleys - it was pretty busy but I managed to find a seat at the bar.

"Is this seat taken?" I turned to see the voice belonged to a young, good looking guy with a crew cut almost standing to attention beside me.

"No," I admitted in a neutral tone, not wanting to encourage any unwanted attention.

"Greg Evans," he held out a hand to introduce himself.

"Sabina Scott," I replied, shaking his hand quickly before pulling away.

He sat down and before too long we were engaged in amicable conversation. Turns out he was really Private Greg Evans, newly graduated and now stationed at the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force base. Apparently they did deep space radar telemetry there. When I expressed my surprise that he'd be involved in something so ... geeky, he admitted that there were also a number of other "top secret" projects based there and that he was part of one of those.

I was surprised to find I'd been talking to Greg for almost two hours - we'd struck up an easy friendship very quickly, which was handy for me because Greg pointed me in the direction of cheap accommodation and said he'd show me around during his off hours.

I did all the touristy things over the next week or so, based on Greg's recommendations and sometimes with him acting as tour guide. Greg was good company but I could see he was perhaps getting a bit too fond of me and I was thinking it might be time to move on again. I wasn't sure if he was just trying to impress me but when Greg offered to take me to see where he worked I jumped at the chance.

"They just let civilians on the base?" I asked in amazement.

"Not exactly," Greg admitted. "There's a big project starting tomorrow and there'll be a lot of civilians around."

"So you can just sign me in?" I persisted.

"Uh ... no," Greg hesitated. "I'd need to get you the right clothes first and ... "

"Is that legal?" I interrupted. "I don't want you to get in trouble."

"It'll be so busy no one will be any the wiser," Greg said confidently. "If anyone asks I'll just tell them you're someone else and get you out of there before they can check to confirm it. It'll be a piece of cake."

I can't believe that I agreed to a plan that clearly had so many holes, but the next day I found myself dressed in a uniform that looked anything but military, milling around in the foyer of NORAD with a whole bunch of other people dressed very similarly. Some of them were clearly foreign as there were a lot of conversations going on around me that I couldn't understand a word of. Turns out part of Greg’s job was signing people in, issuing visitors passes, and escorting them around the base. No wonder he'd been so confident he could smuggle me in and out without detection!

Greg had pointed out that I'd have to pretend I didn't know him and recommended I stay in the middle of the group so there'd be less chance that I'd draw attention to myself. The plan was I'd follow with the group until Greg had escorted them to a briefing room down on level 28 at which time I'd hang back and he'd then take me for a quick tour before getting me back up to the surface.

Everything went according to plan - we made it to level 28 and through the final check point with no problems, and headed down a long concrete corridor towards the briefing room. That's when things started to go wrong - Greg was called back to his post upstairs to bring down a couple of civilians who'd been running late. I exchanged a pointed glance with him and he just motioned for me to go with the flow until he got back. Great, I thought, sitting at the back of the room and slouching down in my seat.

I barely listened to the guy at the front who was talking about their mission and how they had to all carry their own pack and as many other supplies as they could handle through the gate. There were a few other comments about safety and obeying the orders of the military before the briefing closed and everyone started getting up. Greg still wasn't back and I didn't know what else to do except follow along with everyone else. We proceeded down the corridor and when we turned a corner I was confronted with the sight of fifty or so people milling in groups of a similar size to my own. There were also metal cases, probably containing those supplies they'd talked about, stacked along one side of the corridor and hiking packs resting against the walls. A military guy stood at doors leading into a room I couldn't see and was motioning each group through at a steady pace - they'd pick up their packs and some boxes before disappearing through the doors. I did wonder briefly how it was possible to leave for a mission when we were 28 floors below the surface but my worry at being caught where I wasn't meant to be was taking up most of my active consciousness.

When it was my groups turn to head through those doors I looked desperately back down the corridor hoping that Greg would appear and get me out of this. He'd told me up front that under no circumstances should I admit to anyone that I didn't have real clearance to be there - I was peeved that he'd gotten me into this mess and that his plan had gone so badly but I didn't want to get him (or myself) into trouble so I stuck to that. Realising he wasn't going to appear any time soon I just followed my group through those doors, hoping I'd come up with something before it was too late.

We entered a very large room dominated by a metal ramp leading up to a really really really big circular device that was suspended at the end of the ramp by huge clamps coming out of the floor and walls. The most amazing thing was that the inside of the device enclosed a blue sparkly substance that looked like a puddle of water. I watched as the group before mine walked up the ramp and then straight through the puddle– there was no room behind the ramp so it was as if they’d just vanished into thin air. I could feel a horrible rush of panic sweeping over me as my brain tried to process the impossible sight I’d just witnessed.

“You need to get out of here ... NOW!!” that little voice in my head that we all have was yelling at me. I turned against the mass of people heading for the puddle and spotted the military guys with BIG guns in the corners of the room. Did I really want to be arrested for being somewhere I was clearly not meant to be?

Greg would work out what had happened and find a way to get me out of this - I knew I'd be held accountable too because there was no way I could deny I'd known he was doing the wrong thing. I really should have checked before coming here what the penalty was for running around a military base without proper clearance. Because I didn’t know how serious that might be I decided in my panicked state that my best move would be to just keep going with the flow. Whatever was on the other side of that puddle seemed much more attractive at that point than a concrete prison cell inside this mountain.

So I just followed along in the middle of all the people, holding tight to the boxes I'd picked up before I entered the room, and walked up the ramp. Up close I could almost feel the energy being emitted from the puddle – it really was a spectacular sight I would have liked to study more but the mass of people moving behind me pushed me forward and I stepped through.

No words I have at my disposal could describe the sensation of being drawn into the puddle, nor the disorientation I felt moments later when I stepped out into an even huger room than I had just left. I looked around me and could see nothing familiar about where I was – how was it possible for me to arrive somewhere so far removed from where I had just left?

The mass of people carried me along out of the range of the puddle still glowing behind me, casting much needed light over the darkened room. A military guy who was clearly in charge was directing people to find a place to put down their burdens and wait until everyone had arrived through the “gate”. I'd heard that same reference in the briefing room - was that what they called the puddle thing?

I looked around in amazement. Directly ahead of the gate was a flight of steps leading up to another floor with balconies that overlooked the gate room. I could see people up there looking at consoles and gesturing excitedly. Without meaning to I made eye contact with another military guy standing on the balcony looking down at the gate room – this one had dark messy hair and an expression that made me think that he too was wondering where the hell he was and why he thought it had been a good idea to step through that puddle. He was looking at me and I was looking at him ... to be honest thinking how hot he was ... I know! How could I be thinking that when I was god knows where in what was clearly a heap of trouble caused by another guy I'd also thought was cute? Then I remembered where I was and after giving a small nervous smile I broke eye contact and turned to find a spot somewhere out the way – very far out the way - so I could figure this all out.

People were still stepping through the gate and all attention seemed to be on directing the new comers so I just kept walking down a corridor with my boxes in tow until I couldn’t hear the sounds of excited voices anymore. I found a door and it opened as I approached. The lights came on automatically which I thought was kind of cool but also very worrying if someone noticed. The lights dimmed again once I was inside with the door closed behind me. There was just enough light for me to see that I was in some kind of personal quarters with a bed and everything. I put down the boxes and collapsed onto the bed, dropping my head tiredly into my hands. What was I going to do now?

I hadn’t slept the previous night because I’d been so nervous about sneaking onto a military base. Either that or my trip through the “gate” had taken more out of me than I realised. In any case, a huge wave of tiredness swept over me and I flopped myself down fully onto the bed – it was very comfortable so it didn’t take much for me to drop off to sleep. My last thought before sleep overtook me was the desperate hope that no one would discover my hiding place before I woke up.

I didn’t know where I was at the time but that’s how I ended up on Atlantis in a whole other galaxy.


Chapter 2: Aren't you forgetting something?


The shaking of the city woke me some time later – after a few moments the tremors stopped and I relaxed back onto the bed. I had the sense that I’d been asleep for a long time and at first I had no idea where I was. It was quiet and dark and actually pretty creepy waking up in that strange room. The lights came on a little and I scanned the room as my brain filled in the gaps and reminded me I was as lost as any person had ever been. And pretty damn hungry too. I didn’t really have any plan in mind about how I was going to get out of the mess I had gotten into – all I knew was that I didn’t want to get caught and tossed into jail which seemed like the only outcome I could imagine now that things had gone so far.

So food – how was I going to deal with that if my intention was to hide? I searched the boxes I’d carried through the gate and found a bunch of electrical components that might have been useful to someone else but not to me. Looking in my bag I discovered the bottle of water and package of nuts I’d put in there the morning this whole mess had started. Realising that there was no point in rationing such a meagre set of supplies, I decided to assuage my hunger and worry about my next meal later.

After eating I explored my little room some more and discovered that I had another door leading out onto a little balcony. It opened automatically as I approached (how cool was that!) and I got my first very worrying sight of where I was. All I could see was water ... lots and lots and lots of water. So – no chance of escaping and finding my way home out that door. My heart was beating super fast and I felt that horrible wash of sensation come over me that you only get when you think about something really scary. I sat down right where I was and put my head on my knees, breathing deeply. I had expected to see mountainside because that’s what I’d seen just before I entered the NORAD base. A big ocean of water was as far as you could get from that. Was I in some other country completely and how had that happened and more importantly how was I going to get home now?

Not knowing what else to do, I decided my only priorities right then should be survival and NOT getting caught. The room had bathroom facilities so that wasn’t going to be a problem. Although my desire to remain hidden would give me the motivation to go as long as possible without food I knew within a day or two I’d have to go in search of supplies.

You know how in movies when someone stows away and is then discovered they emerge from their tiny box or whatever they’ve been hiding in showing little sign that it was even a hardship? So not the case in reality! After only one day in my spacious (especially compared to a box) hiding place with absolutely nothing to do I began to feel very frustrated. The fact that I didn’t know anything about what was going on outside my room was driving me nuts and I decided that that night I’d risk it and try to find some supplies as well as a little more about where I was.

I say “night” because although I’d been using my watch to determine how much time had gone by I couldn’t reconcile night and day – when my watch said it should be midnight it was blazing with light outside on my balcony so either there was something wrong with my watch or I was in a completely different time zone.

The waiting for darkness was killing me – seriously I hate waiting for anything in general and this was worse because at the back of my mind I was coming up with various ways I could explain my presence when I got caught by the very scary looking military guys I was sure would be jumping me as soon as I opened my door.

Luckily all that worrying was for nothing because when I peeked out my door no one was there. Hoping that no one would find my room while I was gone I checked to make sure the door did close automatically after me (still cool – like being on Star Trek without the people with pointy ears) before creeping off down the corridor.

I decided to head in the opposite direction I’d come from to avoid the whole gate area that I assumed would be busy no matter what time of the day it was. I heard voices from down the corridor and quickly ducked into a side passage to wait for them to pass. And that’s when I had my truly great idea – it had only been a couple of days – would everyone really know who everyone else was? Maybe I could hide out in plain sight instead of creeping around and looking suspicious. It was late so the number of people around would be small and as long as I behaved as though I belonged here I could totally get away with it.

Taking a deep breath and trying to put on an expression of serious belongingness I stepped out of my hiding spot. I tried to imprint on my memory enough markers so I could find my way back again before I walked confidently down the corridor, following those voices I had heard previously.

The voices led me to an area that was clearly some kind of commissary – it looked like they only had military rations but I couldn’t afford to be fussy. I grabbed a tray like the two guys I’d followed and continued to emulate them as I picked up a packaged meal, a coffee (yeah – caffeine!) and a bottle of water to take back to my room. I sat a few tables away from my “tour guides” and bent my head down, trying not to rush the first meal I’d had since arriving here. Once done I sat for some more thinking about my next move and frankly being surprised that I was still “at large”. That’s when it happened ... I spotted that military guy I’d admired my first few minutes here. And he was looking right at me with a puzzled look on his face ... I knew he was trying to remember where he’d seen me before.

“Oh crap” I thought. “He’s coming over ... what do I do? What do I do!”

Pasting a weak smile on my face I looked up when he stopped in front of me and said Hi.

“Hello,” I replied. Geez, could I sound any more nervous?

“I don’t know your name,” he said “but I remember seeing you when we first got to Atlantis.”

“Yeah – been pretty busy since then,” I said, trying to sound like I had a purpose, other than trying not to pass out because I’d suddenly forgotten how to breathe.

“Major John Sheppard,” he introduced himself, holding out his hand.

“Nice to meet you,” I replied, shaking his hand and then quickly letting it go when I felt a not altogether unpleasant jolt pass from his hand to mine. “Sorry to rush off but I really have to get back to my ... work,” I added, gathering up my tray as I pushed my chair back and away from him.

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” he asked.

I turned back to look at him ... noticing again how seriously hot he was especially now that I could see he had these deep hazel coloured eyes and a quirky grin on his face – did I do something amusing?

“What?” I asked. That came out sharper than I'd intended but I seriously wanted to get out of there and I didn’t know what I was going to say if he asked me for my name. Should I tell the truth or just make something up?

“Your laptop,” he said, pointing to the computer I hadn’t noticed was sitting on the table when I’d sat down.

I smiled again in thanks, grabbed it quickly, and then make a hasty exit. I turned to look back once I’d got to the entrance and saw he was still standing at my table watching my retreat with that same puzzled look on his face.

Once back in my room I sat on the bed breathing deeply. It had been a very nerve racking experience but well worth it. I now knew I was in a place called Atlantis – the very name of which sent a chill mix of dread and excitement through me. And I had a laptop which even if it didn’t contain more information would at the very least have games (please not just solitaire – I hate that game) to relieve my boredom.


Chapter 3: This was a one way mission


I know what you’re thinking – sure I had a laptop but I didn’t have a password so I wouldn’t be able to use it. And I still had to risk more trips from my room because I had stupidly forgotten to grab anything more than the water in my haste to escape from the Major.

It just so happens that I have a particular talent for computers. Trying to crack someone’s password is pretty difficult given the number of possible combinations and not knowing anything about whoever’s laptop this was. But you don’t have to actually do that – I got myself access to the laptops base code and set myself up as an administrator to bypass the old user and to give myself access to everything. Within a couple of hours I had full use of the laptop which contained a lot of information about an expedition to Atlantis.

I could hardly believe what I was reading – was the owner of this laptop a fiction writer in their spare time? If not then I was clearly in the twilight zone because apparently the gate I heard referenced my first day here was actually called a Stargate and it was a portal for interplanetary (or in our case intergalactic) travel between planets through means of a stable wormhole.

CRAP!

Earth had enemies – parasitic beings bent on domination of all lesser species like us. I lived on Earth and had never thought of it as “Earth” before so that was hard enough to grasp let alone the whole idea of scary alien enemies. The expedition to Atlantis was partly to search for weapons or technology to defeat this enemy.

That’s when I discovered the worst part. This was a one way mission. We were so far away from Earth as to make any hope of returning without the Stargate impossible. They’d used something called a ZPM to power the Earth gate but didn’t have sufficient power to do the same with the Atlantis gate. I was stuck here forever!

Again that same horrible wash of “I am scared witless and in danger of a serious panic attack” sensations overcame me and I sank down on my bed to concentrate on the suddenly difficult task of breathing properly.

After I don’t know how long I got up again and went back to the laptop to see if there were any maps of Atlantis on it or any other information I could use. Clearly I needed a new strategy because the idea of giving myself up was even less appealing now I knew my jail cell wouldn’t be a concrete one under a nice mountain but an alien one a million light years away from my home.

I read about a race we called the Ancients. Apparently they had evolved in our galaxy millions of years ago. The Ancients were the gate builders – seeding the Milky Way with Stargates so they could travel easily between planets. There was some kind of plague or something else happened that prompted them to leave our galaxy, taking their city with them. This all happened between 5 and 10 million years ago, after which we became the second evolution of humanity in our galaxy. The Ancients came to this galaxy, which we called Pegasus, and did much the same thing – seeding life throughout the galaxy and putting Stargates everywhere so they could travel easily.

Wanting to know more I kept searching and managed to hack into a sort of intranet I guess – mission reports and other official looking documents – which I could use to find out what was going on right now. That’s where I discovered that scary alien enemies back on Earth and being stuck here forever was not the worst news I could discover. That’s when I found out about the Wraith who rather than seeing me as an enemy would only see me as a possibly tasty appetiser in a big human banquet.

DOUBLE CRAP!

The Wraith were an enemy so powerful that even the Ancients had been unable to defeat them. Rather than see their city fall to the Wraith they submerged it beneath the sea and retreated back to our galaxy.

After reading all about the rising of Atlantis (apparently I slept through that one) and Major Sheppard waking the Wraith on practically the first day we were here I realised there was no way I could hide in this room forever. It was now not a matter of if I were caught but when and how I was going to take some control of the situation. Still, I could probably get away with at least one more in plain sight exploration and maybe I could find a way to give myself up but not end up in the brig.­

I used the laptop some more to try to find out about the people who would leave their homes behind knowing up front that they probably would not be returning. Although I couldn’t find things like personnel files or such I did find out enough to know that these people really were “the best of the best” in their fields. I so did not belong here since the closest I’ve even gotten to being the “best” at anything was the time I had briefly been number one on the Bejeweled 2 Xbox 360 leaderboard! I’m guessing that a talent for matching little coloured shapes was not going to be of much use in Atlantis.

I realised that Major Sheppard would probably be suspicious that I hadn’t given him my name, especially if he found out the laptop he gave me wasn’t mine and was now missing. I planned my next outing for that night, hoping that Major Sheppard wasn’t already looking for me.


Chapter 4: I think you're gonna need a bigger boat


I’ve read that just before danger is about to descend people often sense it – part of that primordial survival of the species stuff. Sadly I was obviously too far removed from those prehistoric roots because I didn’t sense anything. In my defence though I had been dreading and expecting danger since I realised how bad my situation was so how was I supposed to sense the specific danger I was about to face?

I made my way to the commissary much as I had before. This time the room was empty which did make me pause to start with but I just thought maybe there was something going on elsewhere and that’s where everyone was. I was just about to enjoy a BIG mug of coffee when the power went out and I was left sitting in complete darkness.

“Don’t panic” I coached myself. “It’s an alien city – maybe someone flicked the master switch without realising it.”

After a few minutes with still no power I decided my best course of action would be to return to my room as quickly as I could. I’m not sure how but I ended up in the wrong corridor with no idea how to get back. I walked down the hall, checking each room I came to for something familiar. Glancing into the last room I was startled to see Major Sheppard standing in front of a strange looking device.

“Oh sorry,” I stammered, quickly turning around to escape once I’d noticed the incredulous look on his face.

It hardly seemed possible but when I turned to head back down the corridor I discovered that there was something darker than the complete blackness of an Atlantis corridor devoid of light. That darkness was creeping towards me at an alarming rate.

RUN,” that little voice in my head screamed.

“Don’t move,” a too familiar voice whispered in my ear.

I turned my head slowly to see the intent face of Major Sheppard. Looking more closely I realised I was seeing his military persona in full works. He was kitted out in a black vest with lots of pockets and carrying a seriously scary looking weapon. Motioning me behind him he raised that weapon and pointed it at the darkness.

“Get behind me,” he commanded. Without even thinking I obeyed that command – so not my usual way as I hate being told what to do without explanation.

“It’s too late to get you back to a safe area,” Major Sheppard told me in a grim voice. “That thing will be here any second so you need to do exactly what I say.”

Without even waiting for my reply he motioned for me to stand as far away from the device as I could get.

“Okay Major. Go ahead,” a female voice came from the Major’s radio.

Major Sheppard flipped a switch on the device before taking up a position facing the doorway.

Suddenly the lights went off. Being in the dark set off a deep fear inside me that was only slightly lessened when Major Sheppard switched on the light attached to his rifle. The seconds ticked by with neither of us moving. Major Sheppard raised his rifle – looking towards the door I saw that the cloud of darkness had started to ooze its way inside the room.

“It's coming,” Major Sheppard reported. “I think you're gonna need a bigger boat.”

“Size doesn't matter,” a different, male voice responded.

“That's a myth,” Major Sheppard quipped.

“It'll fit” that same male voice returned. “The device traps the creature in subspace. You just need to make sure it gets all the way inside the containment vessel.”

I had no idea what they were talking about. Luckily the Major seemed to have forgotten I was even there – hopefully I would be just as invisible to whatever that dark cloud was. Major Sheppard backed away as the entity made its way further into the room.

“Alright, come on,” Major Sheppard challenged.

The entity reached the device, its mass filling up half the room. It seemed to pause like it was checking out the device, and Major Sheppard standing behind it. A huge sense of relief came over me as I realised the entity was beginning to retreat from the room. Within seconds it had disappeared.

“Son of a bitch!” Major Sheppard cursed. Perhaps the entity leaving wasn’t a good thing after all.

“What happened?” the woman’s voice came over the radio this time.

“Damned thing took one look and went away,” Major Sheppard reported in annoyance. “It's a lot smarter than we thought.”

Something must have been said in reply but it didn’t register with me because that was the moment when I realised I was no longer invisible and that all of the Majors “military” attention was fully engaged on me.

“WHAT DID YOU THINK YOU WERE DOING?” he yelled (yes yelled – made me jump too because even though he looked seriously pissed off I wasn’t expecting that.) “That thing almost killed Lieutenant Ford and you’re just wandering down the corridors?”

At this point he was right up in my face and I felt a strange heat flush through my body. Who knew that being yelled at could be so ... arousing. God did I just think that? Get a grip girl!

“Didn’t you hear the announcement about staying in quarters?” he asked at a slightly lower volume.

“No,” I replied in a very small voice that I’m not sure he even heard. Although he had found me where I was clearly not supposed to be he still hadn’t realised that I was in fact not supposed to be anywhere on Atlantis. I was so dead.

“Dr Weir is probably going to ream you out as well,” he said. “We’ve still got to do something about the entity though so for now I’ll have to escort you to your quarters where you will wait until you hear otherwise.”

“Oh that’s not necessary,” I said quickly. “I can find my own way to my quarters.” That was clearly the wrong thing to say because I could see his anger starting to resurface, as well as see the suspicion in his eyes.

“Listen ...” Major Sheppard began and I could tell that was the point at which he realised he didn’t know who the hell I was.

“Who the hell are you anyway?” he demanded.

“Crap, crap, crap,” was all I could think as I looked up at him in misery without answering.

“I don’t have time for this right now,” he growled, grabbing me around my upper arm and giving me a small shake. “Just tell me who you are or I will throw you in the brig until this whole entity thing is resolved.”

But still I couldn’t seem to make my vocal chords work and so with a look of utter frustration he dragged me out of the room to a small closet looking thing and shoved me in ahead of him. Touching the screen in front of us made a white light appear and when we stepped out we were in another, different corridor.

“Transporters” I thought giddily. “This really is like Star Trek.”

Stumbling along after the Major I ended up being dragged not to the brig as I had expected but towards that room I had noticed above the Stargate the day I arrived.

“Dr Weir will sort this out,” he growled again, at which point I dug in my heels and tried to pull my arm out of his grasp. I say try because he was seriously strong.

“Don’t,” I pleaded, pulling on my arm again without success. “Put me in the brig ... I deserve it ... I’m no one ... seriously.” I knew I was jabbering at this point but the voice I couldn’t find before suddenly wouldn’t be silenced. “I can wait until everything is ... fixed ... just don’t take me in there with all those people!”

Major Sheppard looked at me closely, clearly weighing up his options. “Since you won’t tell me your name or where your quarters are you leave me no choice.”

And that's how I ended up in the brig of Atlantis.


Chapter 5: And you are?


So – the brig in Atlantis. Actually not as scary as I imagine an Earth jail would be. I was in a sort of cage within a big room. I had tried to touch the bars of the cage but got a nasty shock for my pleasure and made sure to stay well clear after that.

This was not how I was hoping things would go when I gave myself up. Not that almost getting ambushed by a big black ... thing ... and having to be saved can be counted as giving oneself up. I was in so much trouble that I just couldn’t see how this was going to end any other way but very badly. Realising that it was still night I settled on the bed and tried to get some sleep.

It took a while the next morning before anyone came to check on me – I suppose they were all off getting rid of the black shadow thing. After what seemed like days but was probably only hours I heard the sound of the door opening and looked up to see Major Sheppard enter the room. He still had his I’m seriously pissed off look on so I knew I was in for a bad time.

He stood as close to the bars as he could get without shocking himself and just looked at me for a few moments with a thoughtful look on his face.

“So, let’s start again,” he said. “I’m Major John Sheppard, the ranking military officer of this expedition. And you are?”

“Ranking military officer?” that voice in my head squeaked. “You had to go and get caught by the guy in charge!” Suddenly I was very nervous and once again my vocal chords just ceased up.

“Look, there’s no point in not answering,” he said irritably. “I will find out who you are but it’ll go better for you if you save me the effort and just cooperate!”

“I don’t know what to say,” I whispered in misery. “I can tell you my name but it won’t mean anything.”

“Why the hell not?” Sheppard shot back at me.

“Because I’m no one and I’m not supposed to be here. Not just here in this cell, but here ... on Atlantis ... at all. It’s all just a huge mistake!” I said. And then I’m ashamed to say I started crying. Not just dainty little tears either but big fat ones accompanied with that horrible crying sound you make when you’re really really upset about something.

“Don’t,” he pleaded, holding up a hand as if that would stop me. “Please don’t do that. I’ll go get Dr Weir – she’ll sort this out.”

“NO!” I shouted. Even though I was scared I still preferred talking to him rather than some other person I’d never met and who didn’t know me. Not that he exactly knew me but at least he was familiar with me.

And that’s when I told him the whole thing. He was not impressed to say the least. In fact he yelled at me some more – all those things I’d been expecting about infiltrating a military base, stealing uniforms and supplies, and of course stowing away on a mission to another galaxy. The worst bit was when he asked me how I could possibly be so stupid as to step through the Stargate with no idea of what it even was. Stupid – that was me all right.

And then he just turned around and left! Seriously – without saying anything about what would be happening to me. It was only after I’d calmed down a bit that I realised I still hadn’t told him my name. The break did me good though because it gave me time to work out that I was actually relieved to have been caught – being “on the run” was a lot more stressful than I would have guess. By the time he came back a little later I felt almost calm.

This time he brought a woman with him who I could only guess was the Dr Weir he’d mentioned previously.

“Hello,” she said almost gently. “I’m Dr Elizabeth Weir. Major Sheppard neglected to get your name.”

“Sabina,” I said reluctantly. “Sabina Scott”.

“Well, Sabina,” Dr Weir said. “Could you tell me more about how you were able to hide on Atlantis for so long without detection?”

Although I was puzzled by her question I tried to answer it as honestly as I knew how. “I found a room the first day we were here and I just stayed. I didn’t do anything special to hide – the room just seemed to do it for me.”

“The room 'did it for you'?” this time Major Sheppard questioned me.

“I guess,” I replied. “I didn’t notice it at first but after a while I realised that when I wanted the lights to go dim they did, just like the doors always opened automatically when I approached – seriously cool by the way.”

The small smile I saw Major Sheppard trying to hide encouraged me to go on. “To be honest I didn’t think anything of it – I just assumed it was Atlantis doing what it’s supposed to do.”

“Doors opening automatically – yes. Lights coming on by themselves – yes. Rooms 'hiding' you inside them – not so much.” Major Sheppard told me as he exchanged a glance with Dr Weir.

“Oh,” I replied is a small voice. “Is that a problem?” I asked nervously. What was that glance all about – had I done something wrong?

“No,“ Dr Weir replied. “It’s just a little unusual is all – so far only a handful of people have been able to operate things in Atlantis the way you’ve described. We should do a few tests but it’s not a big deal. Now about your being on Atlantis - I can understand how you were carried along by the circumstances and ended up here. You should have revealed yourself straight away but I’m happy for Major Sheppard to apply whatever punishment he deems fit – given that the whole idea of a stowaway clearly fits into the definition of a military situation.”

I looked at the Major apprehensively. “Punishment?” I asked.

Before Major Sheppard could reply Dr Weir added “You will report to Dr Beckett in the infirmary for a full series of tests with which you will fully cooperate,” she ordered. “Once all that’s done we’ll work out what your place will be here on Atlantis.”

“Thank you,” I smiled gratefully. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my chest. That is until I turned back to glance at Major Sheppard and saw the look on his face. Dr Weir said her goodbyes and left me alone with the still silent Major Sheppard.

“So, “ I said feeling just a little more confident now that I knew Dr Weir was not opposed to finding me a place on Atlantis. “What’s my punishment going to be?”

Major Sheppard glared at me for a few more moments before turning away, obviously still thinking about it. He waved his hand over a panel and the cell door opened. Instead of letting me out he entered the cell and did a bit more pacing before stopping in front of me.

“I’m pissed at you,” he stated. “Three times you had the chance to come clean with me and three times you chose not to. Now while I can understand some of your reasoning, dishonesty and a lack of trust have no place on a mission like this.”

“Wait a minute,” I interrupted. “I never lied to you!”

Don’t interrupt me!” he did that whole command thing with his voice and I just shut right up. “As I said a lack of trust is a serious issue on a mission like this. I need to know that everyone will do what they’re told in an emergency situation without having to have things explained to them first. “

He glanced at me to see if I was going to interrupt again and when I remained silent he gave a little nod and then continued. “So your punishment,” he almost smiled evilly before delivering my sentence. “will be to undertake all the military training expected of an entry level member of one of my teams as well as any other training Dr Weir sees as essential for members of her teams. You will also help out in any capacity we see fit without question or complaint. Agreed?”

I nodded without comment, looking anywhere but at him. I didn’t want him to see the glee in my eyes as I realised I would have the chance to participate and learn more than I’d ever dreamed possible. I knew I wasn’t going to be anywhere near as smart as everyone else on Atlantis but right then that didn’t even seem to matter.

“First lesson Sabina Scott,” Major Sheppard had somehow gotten back into my face and the look he gave me said he was still pissed at me. “For the duration of your time in basic training you will be under my command. When I ask a question you answer it promptly and finish with a Sir – are we clear?”

“Yes ... Sir?” I replied hesitantly.

Major Sheppard frowned before asking me again if I agreed to the terms of my punishment. I looked up with a grin I just couldn’t hold in and said in a sing song voice “Yes Sir”.


Chapter 6: How much running have you done?


Things were finally looking up. After Major Sheppard had assigned me some real quarters (remarkably similar to the ones I’d already been living in but sadly without the balcony) he got someone to show me around. Atlantis truly was the most amazing place. Design and technology so obviously alien to anything I’d ever seen before. Stylish and somehow beautiful while still being functional. By the time I begged off to return to my quarters for some sleep I was simply overwhelmed – it was almost more than my brain could take in. Needless to say I fell into a deep sleep and didn’t awaken until I heard a beeping sound.

I lifted my heavy head from the pillow and squinted around looking for the source of the beeping. Oh ... right ... the door. I dragged myself off the bed and stumbled to the door still half asleep. Nothing happened when I got there though – where was my automatic door opener?

“WHO IS IT?” I yelled.

“Major Sheppard,” came the disgustingly cheerful reply. “Time for your first training session!”

“THE DOOR ISN'T OPENING,” I was yelling again.

“Swipe your hand over that panel near the door,” Major Sheppard replied with what sounded like a chuckle.

“Oh,” I said, doing said swiping. How was I supposed to know the door did that?

The door opened and there on the other side was Major Sheppard looking very alert and frankly way too attractive for that time of the day, speaking of which ...

“What time is it?” I demanded looking for my watch, a pointless habit because Earth time had no meaning there and I still had no idea how they were running all of that.

“6:00am” Major Sheppard replied, looking me up and down and reminding me that I was dressed in a long t-shirt and not much else since the only personal things I had were the clothes I’d borrowed back on Earth.

“I figured you wouldn’t have anything to train in so I got you these,” the Major held out a pile of clothes which I automatically took. “Sorry if the sizes are wrong – I had to guess. You can requisition whatever else you need from supplies. Five minutes Sabina – get moving!”

The door closed while I contemplated the personal implications of Major Sheppard picking out clothes for me before I shook myself and ran into the bathroom to tidy myself up.

Six minutes later I stepped up to the door which did open automatically this time to reveal Major Sheppard pacing around outside. He glanced at his watch but otherwise didn’t comment.

“How much running have you done Sabina?” he asked me.

How could I make none sound any less pathetic than it was? Nothing came to me and I looked at the floor as I mumbled “None”.

“I didn’t hear you,” Sheppard barked the comment.

I looked up quickly to see he was deadly serious. “None, Sir” I replied.

“Well, you won’t be saying that again. We’ll start out slow ... try to keep up.”

And with that he took off. Slow did he say? I didn't think so unless full out sprinting could be considered slow. Before I’d gone 50 metres I was puffing and sweating. Before I’d gone 100 metres I was cursing Major Sheppard for the bastard I knew he was because he was clearly enjoying my suffering. How had I ever considered him attractive? At 6:00am with sweat dripping into my eyes as I chased his smug back up the corridor I was starting to revise that opinion.

Finally the torture was over and after escorting me back to my quarters so I could attempt to recover (my face was still red an hour later!) Major Sheppard took me to the infirmary to begin all those tests Dr Weir had mentioned.

“This is Dr Carson Beckett,” Sheppard introduced us. “Do what he says. I’ll see you the same time tomorrow morning.”

“I am so looking forward to that,” I mumbled under my breathe.

“What was that?” I looked up to see Major Sheppard hadn’t actually left as I’d supposed.

“Nothing, Sir” I said with a cheeky grin. Shaking his head Sheppard left me to Dr Beckett.

“Let’s get started Lass,” Dr Beckett said with a friendly smile and a lovely lilting Scottish accent. Now he was attractive and clearly not the type to enjoy other peoples suffering like someone else I was no longer going to think about.

The relief of finally talking to someone who seemed to be pleased to meet me almost brought tears to my eyes. “What do I have to do?” I asked a bit nervously.

“Nothing to worry about,” he replied. “We’ll start with some basic medical questions, then some blood tests and while we wait for those results there are some written tests I want you to do. It’s all pretty easy – just be yourself.”

Dr Beckett started out with some basic questions.

“Age?”

“I’m a 29 year old Sagittarius who likes long night walks on the beach and ... yes I am taking this seriously!”

“Height?”

“ 177cm (I know – on the tall side for a girl)”

“Hair?”

“Yes – long and painfully straight. Oh sorry – brown. In fact if the answer is a colour just put me down for brown.”

“Weight?”

“Is that really necessary? Oh all right! I was 70kg but with my lovely diet of practically nothing for the last few days who knows!” After a proper weigh in I found out that I had lost 5 kilos and was instructed that I should eat more than usual until I’d gotten back to a healthy weight range.

“Illnesses?”

“None that I know of but it’s early in the day and I am on a strange planet light years from Earth so who really knows!”

My whole family history was collected and then it was time for me to have some blood extracted. I realised as Dr Beckett prepped my arm for the blood test that he hadn't actually touched me up until that point. I only noticed it then because when he did I felt a slight electric jolt at his touch - no where near as powerful as the one I'd felt with Major Sheppard, but puzzling just the same. Dr Beckett turned back to me with the needle and I shivered just a bit – do needles really have to be that pointy and glinty? Why hadn’t he found some kind of Atlantean instrument that could take your blood without sticking a pointy piece of metal in you?

I had no idea there were so many tests they could give me. It literally took hours – I had to have lunch there and we still weren’t done. Apart from the medical tests (scans etc) there were personality tests where Dr Beckett would ask things like “What does that black blob look like to you?” and I would reply “You mean apart from a big black blob?” There was even an IQ test – Dr Beckett didn’t call it that but I couldn’t see what else it could be. I was mega apprehensive about that one as I didn’t really want to know how much less intelligent I was than everyone else on Atlantis.

“These results are confidential aren’t they?” I asked Dr Beckett, rather casually I thought.

“Of course,” Dr Beckett replied. My relief was short lived though when he admitted that Dr Weir and Major Sheppard would of course be informed of all the results so they could find the best place for me. Damn!

The blood test results also seemed to cause a little bit of concern. Dr Beckett took the printout from one of the nurses and his eyebrows shot up as he read the results and not in a good way I thought.

“What’s wrong?” I asked

“Oh nothing lass,” Dr Beckett replied lightly, still looking worried to me. “One of the things we looked for in staff for Atlantis was what I call the ATA gene – the Ancient Technology Activation gene. We think the Ancients used the gene as a sort of genetic key so that only their kind could operate their technology. Some things require the user to actually have the gene, others only require the gene for the first initialisation, after which anyone can use them. It’s really quite rare actually so I was just surprised to see that you have it.”

“I have an ancient gene?” I asked. “How is that possible?”

“We don’t know why some people have it and some don’t. There also appears to be varying degrees of strength to the gene too because for example Major Sheppard is very proficient at operating the ancient technology while yours truly can barely get anything to work.”

“So Major Sheppard has the gene too?” I asked. If he had it then it couldn’t be that bad. He had been put in charge of the military side after all and they wouldn’t have done that if there was something wrong with him.

“Aye lass, as do I. So there you go – nothing to worry about.” With a smile he turned back to my blood test results. “Your blood type is O negative which is handy too if you’d be willing to donate blood every now and then.” I nodded without replying, still thinking about that ATA gene thing. Was that why the room had hidden me – because I had the gene and Atlantis had somehow recognised that? I wasn’t sure whether that made me happy or really really nervous.

The rest of my tests passed without incident and Dr Becket released me for my chat with Dr Weir. I then spent an hour listening to her talk about the history of the Stargate program and Atlantis. Some of it I already knew from my stolen ... sorry borrowed ... laptop but I didn’t want to admit that because then I’d have to admit that I’d hacked into their system. Once done, Dr Weir pointed me in the right direction to grab some dinner.

I chose a table well away from the bulk of people and tried to eat as quickly as possible, hoping that nobody would notice me. I retired to my quarters to think about my day and try to soak away my aches from that mornings run. All too soon I’d have to get up and add some new aches but I was determined I’d never give Major Sheppard the satisfaction of seeing or hearing me complain.

Authors Note: I KNOW - stranger comes to Atlantis and just happens to have the ATA gene - how convenient! And it's been done before ... many many many times! Apologies for the lack of originality BUT I had to give my character the gene otherwise she won't be able to do all the stuff that's coming up!


Chapter 7: Let’s give it a few more weeks


It’s hard to believe that I’d already been on Atlantis for over three months before I had the energy to contemplate my existence again. Major Sheppard had kept me busy the first week just with the morning runs and afternoon workouts. I’d then spent the rest of the day with one of Dr Weirs staff for training in the ancient and earth based technology which I luckily found a little easier to assimilate than all the physical stuff. Then I’d stumble to my room and sleep the sleep of the almost dead before doing the whole thing again the next day.

When Sheppard felt I was sufficiently fit enough to begin basic training my days changed. Mornings were basic training – after the first day of orientation these were lead by a grim faced marine named Sergeant Jones. I liked to call it basic torture – but only in my head of course. Major Sheppard sadly had no sense of humour when it came to my training which I found out after the first day when he knocked me on my arse for wisecracking. Afternoons were Atlantis training and then some of the evenings were again basic training - the theory stuff also known as the boring stuff which involved reading large volumes of material handed to me by Major Sheppard.

I did the physical training as well as weapons training including shooting practice – who knew it would be such a huge kick to shoot at things or that I’d actually be really really good at it – I think even Sergeant Jones was impressed although he never said anything. I also had to do first aid, survival and field training too.

I liked to put on a reluctant attitude each morning with Major Sheppard but really I was starting to enjoy the whole thing and I had never felt as good within myself. I even had a nickname – Scotty – yeah I know, not original, but Major Sheppard seemed to get delight out of calling me that and I had been thinking this was like Star Trek so it did seem to fit nicely. I of course only got to call him Sir .

There were a few days in between where I had to do the morning run by myself – Major Sheppard would just tell me he’d been off world on a mission (how cool does that sound!). Once though I knew he’d been hurt because I had to see Dr Beckett about something and saw him asleep in one of the infirmary beds. It really bothered me to see him looking so vulnerable like that and even Dr Beckett telling me the Major had been bitten by a particularly nasty bug but was recovering well didn’t alleviate my concerns. I didn’t visit him but I did ask Dr Beckett if he would pass on my regards – I don’t know why he was so amused that I’d want to check on the Major! Only when Major Sheppard returned to our morning runs still able to kick my arse did I relax in the knowledge that he really was all right.

No one mentioned the ancient gene to me again which began to nag at me. I wanted to know more but Dr Beckett told me it was too soon. I was still in training and hadn’t been assigned a permanent place on Atlantis. As for all those other tests – yeah you guessed it – didn’t get to find out about the results of them either. I did assume that I wasn’t nuts though because surely if the personality tests had shown that they wouldn’t have let me run around the base and look at their computers.

Somehow Major Sheppard had forgotten I still had that laptop so I never gave it back. It had some basic information but the only new thing I learnt was that Dr Beckett had found a way to deliver the gene to those who didn’t have it naturally. Someone called Dr McKay had this done first around the same time as that black shadow entity had been creeping through Atlantis. It worked on Dr McKay but in general only 49.8 percent of such treatments proved successful.

After all our morning runs I felt I’d gotten to Major Sheppard a little bit, finding him to be a lot more laid back than I had first supposed. This was a two edged sword because of course I wasn’t as intimidated by his whole military tough guy routine anymore but as a result I was back to being much too aware of how attractive he was. Still I didn’t feel up to confronting him about the gene either and ended up just going through the motions of each day getting more and more frustrated.

Thank god for the power of eavesdropping. Not that I set out to deliberately spy on anyone but if you heard your name mentioned before you entered a room wouldn’t you pause for just a bit to see what was being said?

“When are you going to tell Sabina?” I overheard Dr Beckett’s voice asking.

“Not yet,” Dr Weir replied. “She still has a lot to assimilate before we throw something like that at her.”

“She’s gonna start asking questions Elizabeth,” this was Major Sheppard’s voice.

“She may work it out for herself,” Dr Beckett added. “I’ve never seen the ATA gene so strong in anyone, even Major Sheppard. It’s quite possible she can do things in this city that no one else can – she could stumble across something dangerous because she hasn’t been told. She will need to do some practice to learn some control before we can just let her roam around the city more freely.”

“Let’s give it a few more weeks,” Dr Weir urged. “Between the Majors training program and mine there’s been little time for her to go off exploring. She’s unsure of her position here – once she completes our training I’m sure she’ll be receptive to helping us research the ancient technologies.”

Was she kidding? Of course I wanted to explore Atlantis and try out any technology they’d let me get my hands on. I couldn’t really see what the problem was and was all set to storm in there demanding to get started when I heard Dr Beckett’s last comment.

“What about the other genes I couldn’t identify?” he asked.

“Until you know what they do I see no point in worrying Sabina,” Dr Weir replied. “Keep running your tests and let me know when you learn anything new.”

Other genes? What the hell did that mean? Even though I had a meeting with Dr Beckett I found myself walking back to my room instead. Was I some kind of mutant human? Once again that horrible wash of panic and fear crept over me except this time it was more “there is something wrong with me am I going to die?” than “there are scary aliens who want to eat me”. Suddenly I wasn’t so keen to start exploring the city because the more I explored Atlantis the more I was sure I’d be exploring myself and that I wouldn’t like what I found.

I decided not to say anything about what I’d heard. The only thing I could do was continue as I had been, hoping that Dr Beckett wouldn’t discover something I really didn’t want to hear.


Chapter 8: Now who’s getting personal?


The next morning I met Major Sheppard for our usual run in the same pensive mood from yesterday.

“You know Scotty, basic training usually only lasts for 3 months.” Major Sheppard spoke to me as we jogged down a deserted corridor. “If I decide to stick to that you only have a couple of days to go.”

“That’s nice Sir,” I said, hardly even registering what he was saying. Yeah – I could even talk and run at the same time now and keep up with Major Sheppard although I suspect he was still taking it a bit easy on me.

“That’s nice?” Major Sheppard asked, almost stopping to get a good look at me.

I of course didn’t notice because my mind was fully engaged with worrying about how mutant I actually might be. I don’t think I’d have even noticed that he wasn’t running with me anymore if he hadn’t caught up with me so he could grab my arm and pull me to a stop.

“Is something wrong Sir?” I asked, trying to pull my arm away but finding out that even though I'd been lifting weights he was clearly still a lot stronger than me.

“Is something wrong?” he queried in surprise. “I think the more pertinent question is, is something wrong with you? You’ve been quiet and distracted since we started running and that’s not like you.”

“You just said it yourself Sir,” I evaded the question. “You’ve known me less than 3 months so you really don’t know what’s me and what’s not. Maybe it’s just that time of the month.”

“Hey, no need to get all personal!” Sheppard let me go with a faintly disturbed look on his face.

I know it was cruel but seriously all men are the same – any mention of “women’s” anything and they'd run for the hills. I didn’t point out that if he’d known me 3 months then clearly he’d already experienced me during more than one of those “times of the month” and he didn’t seem to work it out for himself. We continued our run without incident and parted ways. I fully expected him to have forgotten the whole thing by the next morning when I’d be seeing him again.

Usually I had all my meals in the commissary either by myself or sitting with some of the junior staff who were also doing some of the military training (not the early morning runs though – for some reason Sheppard reserved that particular torture just for me.) I hadn’t been introduced to many of the senior staff apart from Dr Weir, Dr Beckett and of course the Major so if none of the junior staff were around I’d just sit in the darkest corner I could find and eat very quickly. That’s what I intended to do that night so imagine my surprise when I’d just settled myself in a nice quiet corner only to be interrupted.

“Anyone sitting here?” that same cheery voice I’d begun to both dread and enjoy spoke loudly.

I looked up to see the Major with that smug smile he has, before looking down again with a mumbled “No Sir.”

“Good, then you won’t mind if I join you.” Sheppard sat down and began to eat his dinner while completely ignoring the fact that I didn’t want to chat.

“So you know, I was thinking about what you said this morning and I realised that I do know you well enough to know it’s not that time of the month – didn’t that happen like two weeks ago?”

“Geeze, now who’s getting personal?” I asked in a harsh whisper, forgetting to Sir him as I looked around to see who might have overheard.

“I could continue asking you these very personal questions in a very loud voice,” Sheppard threatened, “or you could just tell me what’s bothering you and then I’ll leave you alone.”

“Fine ... Sir,” I grumbled. “I was just worrying about the whole ATA gene thing,” I semi lied because there was no way I was admitting that I’d eavesdropped.

“Sure you were,” Sheppard nodded, looking at me intently. I tried to maintain eye contact but seriously than man has the most compelling eyes and I was beginning to think he could actually read my mind so I had to look away.

“Nice try,” he approved, still smiling. “How about we give that another shot? And remember what I said about trust being an essential characteristic for Atlantis team members.” Suddenly his face had that serious all business look. I knew he couldn’t throw me out of Atlantis but he could see to it that I never got to do any of the really interesting exploration stuff that he knew I really wanted to do.

“I overheard you talking with Dr Beckett yesterday Sir,” I rushed the words out really fast and quickly looked back down at my mostly uneaten dinner.

“And which bit has you the most worried?” he questioned in a tone that made me think somehow he was amused by me. Did he think this was funny?

“Oh I don’t know Sir,” I began in my starting to get annoyed voice, looking up again. “How about the fact that I’m in danger of setting off some ancient gizmo without meaning to because apparently I have too many ATA genes? Or the fact that I’m some kind of mutant human with DNA even Dr Beckett can’t figure out? Or the fact that for some reason you all saw fit to keep it from me meaning it can’t be a good thing?!” By the time I got to the end of that sentence I was almost shouting and my heart was beating so fast I’m sure he could see the beats if he just looked in the right place.

“Calm down,” he grabbed my hands as I twisted them together in agitation. “First, there’s no such thing as too many ATA genes. Even I have to be careful touching new stuff because we don’t know what any of it does.”

“Okay, well what about the mutant gene thing and not telling me about it?” I quizzed him in a low fierce whisper.

“No one ever said those genes were mutant,” he said in an exasperated manner. “Just because Dr Beckett doesn’t know what they are doesn’t mean they’re bad. We just want to make sure we understand them because in this galaxy who knows what could happen. We could send you to some planet and find out those genes make you a rare and extra tasty dish for some neighbourhood Wraith!”

“Oh very reassuring Sir! Thanks for putting that mental picture in my head.” I realised at that point that he was still holding my hands and it was getting me all worked up. I tugged on them but for some reason he didn’t let go.

“Sa-bin-a,” he elongated my name with some frustration. I felt a little thrill when he said my name because he hadn’t called me Sabina since I’d started basic training. “You know you’re being ridiculous don’t you?”

“Stop calling me Sabina like that and stop holding my hands Sir,” I commanded, still whispering of course. “People will talk!”

That only made him hold on tighter as he looked around the room to check out who was there. Most of his team were sitting at another table – he nodded at them and received some smiles in return before turning back to me.

“They already talk!” he said. “Even if there’s nothing to talk about people just make stuff up. If you ever bothered to talk to anyone but me you’d know that!”

“Hey, I talk to people,” I said starting to feel upset. Did he think I was antisocial or unfriendly? “I just don’t gossip Sir! And since when was this conversation about my social habits instead of being about the fact that you were all lying to me?”

“We didn’t lie to you,” Sheppard said emphatically, dropping my hands to run his fingers through his hair in frustration. I knew this was something he did a lot which partly accounted for why his hair was always so messy.

“It doesn’t matter Sir,” I said jumping up quickly and grabbing my tray. “I have to go. I’ve got lots of studying to do and you know how Dr Weir gets if she thinks I haven’t been doing enough.”

“You can run Scotty, but it'll all catch up with you in the end” he said making it clear that he was letting me go ... for now.


Chapter 9: Call me John


I fully expected that the next morning’s run would be awkward but it wasn’t. Major Sheppard greeted me as usual and we set off at a brisk pace. Do you know how absolutely cool it is to run a long way and hardly even break a sweat? It is totally cool! Even with everything I had on my mind, and believe me there was a lot including some things I hadn’t even admitted to myself yet, somehow going for that run just put everything into perspective. I glanced across at the Major as we ran only to find him already looking at me. I raised an eyebrow in query and he smiled in return. “Busted” I thought. He knew how much I enjoyed all this and that my show of reluctance was just that – a show! I laughed and picked up the pace a bit, challenging him to keep up.

Usually at the end of the run we’d part company with just a wave and a “see you same time tomorrow” but not that morning. I was worried he was going to talk about the previous night but he didn’t.

“So Scotty,” he began. “Have you decided what you want to do to celebrate graduating from basic training?”

I looked up suddenly to find him grinning at me. “Graduating? You mean I’ve finished ... Sir?”

“Yes you’ve finished. Sergeant Jones tells me your skills are exemplary and you can almost outrun me. I’m really proud of you.” Major Sheppard nudged my shoulder gently as we walked to cool down.

“Thank you Sir,” I said quietly. Wow – I couldn’t remember the last time I’d received praise like that.

“You know, now that you’ve graduated you’re not under my command anymore and you don’t have to call me Sir” Major Sheppard reminded me.

“But you’re still the military leader,” I protested.

“Key word there Scotty – military. So unless you were thinking of enlisting you don’t fall under my jurisdiction except in matters of military security. I still expect you to train regularly and I hope you still want to join me for the daily run.” Major Sheppard seemed to be almost hesitant when he said the last part which didn’t gel for me because he was usually the epitome of confidence.

“Of course,” I agreed quickly. “I’m still hoping to beat you one day!” I added as we continued down the corridor. I felt a bit numb actually – shouldn’t I be more excited about this? I refused to acknowledge that a very tiny small deeply hidden part of me was just a little bit disappointed that I probably wouldn’t be seeing as much of the Major any more.

“You don’t seem as happy as I thought you’d be” Sheppard stopped walking to look at me more closely.

“I am of course but now I’m nervous too. Have you or Dr Weir worked out what my position is going to be?” I didn’t add the Sir bit but at the same time I couldn’t bring myself to call him anything else. I was so used to calling him sir or carefully calling him nothing at all.

“Call me John,” he didn’t ask so much as order – quite a contradiction since he’d just finished telling me I was no longer under his command. I noticed too that he’d completely ignored my question too.

“What am I going to be doing now ... Major?” I asked again, putting extra emphasis on his rank and making it sound like an insult.

“I’m not going to talk to you if you’re gonna be like that!” he turned and started to walk away.

“Okay Okay JOHN!” I said it a bit louder than I’d intended making his name almost echo off the walls. I grabbed his hand and tried to pull him around to face me again. I'd forgotten about the jolt I always got when I touched him and flinched before quickly dropping his hand again. Since getting a similar jolt from Dr Beckett as well as from one of the scientists I’d met in the commissary a while back I'd decided my best bet was to avoid physical contact with anyone on Atlantis as much as possible.

He stopped and looked down at me in all seriousness. There was an intent look in his eyes I’d never seen there before and I began to feel that nervous rush like you get just before you know you have to get up in front of a group of people to speak. I tried to look away but found I couldn’t. He gazed into my eyes for an eternity before seeming to find what he was looking for. Giving me a satisfied smile he put a friendly arm around me and steered me towards my quarters.

“You need to get changed and then we’ll go see Elizabeth. She’ll get it all sorted out and then you’ll know where you stand. That'll be one less thing for you to worry about!”

“Hey – I don’t worry about everything you know. Just the important things ... like what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life!” I protested. In all honesty I did worry about nearly everything but it bothered me he knew me well enough to know that.

“Sure, sure,” he agreed while letting me know he knew I was completely lying. “After we get your day job sorted out you can think up some excuses for not going to dinner with me tonight.”

“Dinner?” I squeaked. “Didn’t we just do that last night?”

“Yeah but last night I was Sir and tonight I’ll be John so it’s a whole different thing. Like a date.” I could see that John was trying not to laugh at the look on my face.

“A date? I’m not going on a date with you! I don’t even like you!” I tried to protest but it was like trying to pin custard to a wall. Where did he get an ego like that and could I get even a small part of it for myself?

“Sure you like me – what’s not to like?” Now he was laughing at me.

“Laugh it up fuzzball,” I almost growled that Star Wars classic. “There are things I like about you but they are far outweighed by the things I don’t like about you!”

“You like things about me?” He was such a kid at times. Trust him to only focus on that part of what I’d said. “Go on, tell me more.”

“Mmm, let me think,” I mused. Maybe this was a chance to get my own back. “You’re tall – that counts for something.”

“Is that it?” he asked sounding almost disappointed. “That’s just an accident of genetics, not something about me.”

“Okay ... well I like the fact that you’ve got buns of steel. Gives me some motivation on all those runs!” I laughed now at the look on his face. Seriously he didn’t know whether to be pleased or insulted by that one.

“Also not really about me – I didn’t know you were this shallow.”

Now that hurt a little. I forgot that I’d been trying to knock a few inches off his mammoth ego and took the whole thing to a serious level. “I like the fact that you always see the good in people first ...even though they might let you down from time to time. Doesn’t really sit well with the Earth ideal of a military commander but somehow that’s a strength in the Pegasus galaxy.”

I looked down so I wouldn’t have to see how he had reacted to that one and so jumped a little when I felt his hand under my chin lifting my eyes back to his.

“Thank you,” he said with dignity. He still held my face up towards his and I seriously felt like he was ‘leaning’. Was he going to kiss me? Crap, crap, crap! I was so not ready for that. Ducking under his arm I quickly walked the last few steps to my room, making sure the door was open before I turned back to him.

“See you tomorrow morning ... John.” I tried to finish off our morning conversation on a predictable note.

“I’ll pick you up at 19:00 hours,” he replied. And then he just turned and walked off before I could protest.

“I’M NOT GOING ON A DATE WITH YOU!” I yelled at his retreating back.

“Sure sure,” his voice carried back to me.


Chapter 10: How about this one?


After I’d cleaned myself up for the day I was at a bit of a loss. John had mentioned going to see Dr Weir (I was a little ... disturbed at how easily Major Sheppard had become John ... at least in my head) so I decided I’d just do that by myself.

I paused outside her office just watching her tapping away at her computer. She was actually a pretty small woman but you didn’t notice that because Dr Weir has an almost visible air of command about her. I was almost going to turn around and find somewhere to hide rather than interrupt her when she looked up and saw me standing there.

“Sabina,” she greeted me. “Was there something you wanted?”

“Hi Dr Weir,” I replied. “J – Major Sheppard graduated me from basic training this morning and I was just wondering ... have you worked out where you’re going to place me yet?” I didn’t meet her eyes both because I didn’t want to see if she’d noticed I’d almost called Major Sheppard by his given name, and because I assumed she didn’t know I’d overheard her in the infirmary the day before.

“Did he?” Dr Weir asked. “That’s a few days earlier than I was expecting. Well done.”

“Thank you,” I acknowledged the praise with a small smile.

“I haven’t had time to work out where we’ll place you on a more permanent basis but for now I think Dr McKay could use your help with working out some of the ancient technology. Not many people have the ATA gene naturally and it seems that some of the rooms here just work better for people who’ve always had the gene. Would you be willing to help with that?”

“I’d love to,” I agreed enthusiastically.

“Okay then, I’ll introduce you to Dr McKay and he’ll get you started. I’d still like you to continue with the training program I’ve been setting out for you. And if you’re interested I’d like you to start learning to translate the ancient writing. We don’t have enough people here who can do that – it might help with working out what some of the labs were for.”

I felt a leap of nervous excitement at the idea of learning to translate ancient. Dr Weir had said not many people could do that and I admitted to myself that this was a large part of my interest in doing it. At the back of my mind I was always aware that I had stolen a spot here at Atlantis – not that I’d pushed anybody else out but I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been swept along in that group of people who DID belong here. If I learnt something that was really useful that most of those people didn’t know then maybe I’d begin to feel more like I belonged here too.

“Thanks Dr Weir,” I said gratefully. “I know I shouldn’t ... that is I know it must be hard to find somewhere for me to fit in and I really appreciate the opportunities you’ve given me.”

“Not at all Sabina,” Dr Weir denied. “It’s great to have someone with the ATA gene to help Dr McKay. Major Sheppard is usually his first choice but the Major can’t often spare the time Dr McKay needs. You’re helping more than I can tell you – Dr McKay can be ... difficult ... at times when he feels the same priorities aren’t being placed on the projects he personally feels are the most important.”

With that we headed down to Dr McKay’s main lab where I was introduced to the man I’d heard was the smartest person on Atlantis for the first time.

“Yes yes,” Dr McKay hardly acknowledged my presence when Dr Weir introduced us before departing for a meeting. “Welcome and don’t touch anything you don’t understand by which I mean don’t touch anything ... at all”

“Okay,” I replied. “but I thought the reason I was here was to touch things you hadn’t worked out yet ...”

“I know what most of the things we’ve found do,” Dr McKay protested, looking at me for the first time. His blue eyes shone with sharp intelligence and I fully believed that he really was the smartest person here. “I just need someone with the gene to power things up so I can take readings, map power levels, that kind of thing.”

“That I can do,” I agreed with a smile. “And if it means you get to progress things without having to rely on Major Sheppard making time for you then I like that even better.”

“Already acquainted with Major Sheppard’s views on our priorities are you?” Dr McKay suddenly seemed a lot friendlier. “Shoot first and do the science research after – and if you can’t understand what it does then just blow it up!”

I laughed, and almost at once relaxed the muscles I didn’t know I’d been holding so tensely. I could tell I was going to like Dr McKay. I know his manner of always speaking exactly what he thought, and in a condescending way at that, would offend a lot of people. Not me though – I had always been a “what you see is what you get” kind of girl and I fully respected someone who would tell it to you like it was and not pull their punches.

“So when do we get started?” I asked.

Dr McKay wanted to get an idea for how proficient I’d be with the ancient technology first so he took me to another lab and showed me an array of gadgets he’d been trying to work out.

“These are some of the things we’ve found in our explorations,” he said. “So far only Major Sheppard has been able to get any of them to work easily – unfortunately they seem to be the type of Ancient technology that requires the user to have the ATA gene.”

“Okay,” I said a bit nervously. “What do I do?”

“Just pick something and we’ll see what happens when you touch it,” Dr McKay instructed me, already bending over his data pad.

“Right,“ I said, looking more closely at the gadgets I had to choose from. One seemed to draw my attention more than the others – it was large and round in shape, with a series of ancient markings carved around its edges.

“How about this one?” I indicated my choice.

“That will do fine,” Dr McKay said a bit impatiently. “Put your hand on it.”

I placed one hand carefully on top of the device in the middle of the circle. Blue lights immediately lit up inside it and the nearest display screen began churning out lines and lines of characters I could only assume were the Ancient language.

“What is all that?” I asked curiously.

Dr McKay motioned impatiently for me to stop talking as his eyes moved rapidly over the display.

“It’s some kind of weapons research inventory I think,” he muttered. “Most of it is incomprehensible but I recognise some of it as being statistics on some tests they were doing with the command chair. I’ll need to download this to my machine to analyse it further,” he added, beginning to walk out of the room.

“Uh Dr McKay?” I called out to him. “Are we done here?”

“Oh,” Dr McKay looked back at me with that puzzled look I was to learn he often got on his face, the one that said the next step should be obvious and why was he surrounded by people too stupid to work that out for themselves.

“I’ll be back with my laptop in a minute,” he said distractedly. “Just wait here.” And then he just left me there, muttering to himself as he continued down the corridor.

I closed my eyes and enjoyed that first feeling of having accomplished something in Atlantis. As I did so I couldn’t help but think how badly I really needed to know more about the ancient gene and whether those extra unknown genes were connected in any way. I opened my eyes again and noticed that one of the other gadgets had lit up. It was a small data pad, again displaying lines and lines of Ancient text – they seemed to be calling out to me and even though I knew I’d probably get in trouble later I reached out and grabbed the device. I didn’t want anyone else to read what was on there because I assumed it would be something about my mutant genes so I consciously tried to think “off”. The device became dormant again and I quickly shoved it in my jacket pocket just as Dr McKay returned to the lab.

Feeling a bit breathless, I helped Dr McKay get all the information he could from the circular device. The whole time I was so aware of the data pad in my pocket it surprised me that Dr McKay noticed nothing. I was relieved when he told me he had enough for now but not to go too far in case he needed me again.


Chapter 11: This is not a date - - it’s just two people meeting to consume their necessary daily nutritional requirements.


Dr McKay had cut me loose earlier than I’d expected which allowed me to head back to my room without having to make up excuses. The palm pad (that’s what I’d decided to call it because it was a data pad that fit into my palm) was burning a hole in my pocket and I desperately wanted to check it out further.

Once locked in the privacy of my room though I found only more disappointment. The palm pad powered up again as soon as I held it in my hand but no matter how much focus I put into thinking that I really needed the symbols translated into English nothing happened.

Dr Weir had already offered to get me learning ancient and now I had even more motivation to make that happen as soon as possible. I was so frustrated because although the ancient language just looked like a lot of boxes and lines rather than writing I felt that if I just looked at them for long enough I’d be able to understand what they said.

Realising that staring at the palm pad was only giving me a headache I resolved to accept that it would be some time before I’d be able to access the information it contained. Now I just needed to find a hiding place. As usual, as soon as I thought about something I really needed my room provided the solution. Even though this wasn’t my original room the same principle still seemed to apply. A panel on the wall started blinking those same blue lights at me that all ancient technology seemed to emit. I walked over to discover some kind of wall safe. Placing the palm pad inside I stepped back and watched as the panel returned to looking like every other panel on the wall. Worried that I wouldn’t be able to get it out again I waved my hand over the panel and was relieved to see the safe reopen.

Okay, so there was another problem I had been forced to put on the back burner. I still had most of the day free so I went back to Dr Weir to get my first “let’s learn to read Ancient” lessons. She set me up with my very own laptop (making me feel even guiltier about the one I’d borrowed and not returned) with the lessons already loaded. Apparently someone called Dr Daniel Jackson back on Earth had set up the programs to try to encourage more researchers to learn to translate themselves rather than rely solely on him.

Rather than return to my room I decided I’d find a nice, out of the way spot to begin. Not because I was avoiding anyone (honestly) but because I really didn’t want to have witnesses to my first clumsy attempts at even understanding the basic constructs of the ancient language and because I knew if I stayed in my room the very presence of that palm pad would drive me to distraction. As far as I knew, no one even knew where my old hiding room had been and I decided the balcony would be an ideal place to study.

The hours dissolved without my notice and the only thing that reminded me of how late it had gotten was my stomach letting me know it had been too long since I’d last put anything in there. I hadn’t forgotten Major Sheppard’s threat to pick me up at 19:00 hours but it wasn’t actively at the forefront of my mind. I headed back to the commissary and grabbed my usual tray of dinner items before finding a dark and quiet corner to eat in.

The Ancient language was so fascinating, particularly the links between it and our Latin. I was already obsessed with learning as much as I could as rapidly as I could - I’d set up my laptop so I could read and eat at the same time.

And that's how Major Sheppard found me just a few minutes later.

“Sabina,” he greeted me. “I’m kinda hurt that you didn’t wait for me.”

“Huh?” I looked up having not registered his actual words and was surprised that I hadn’t noticed his approach. “Major Sheppard,” I greeted him. “Did you want something?”

“Oh I want a lot of things Scotty but now’s not the time to get into that,” he replied with a sly grin. “For now I’ll just settle for that dinner date we planned this morning.”

“You mean that date you planned that I never agreed to?” I asked in exasperation, deciding to ignore the nervous feelings the first part of his response had provoked.

“That would be the one.” Clearly he was not moved at all by my reluctance. “Move over so I can sit down would you?”

I could see that he wasn’t going to be swayed on the whole eating together thing so I reluctantly closed off my laptop program and shifted to make room for him.

Looking up at him I couldn’t help but add “But this is not a date - it’s just two people meeting to consume their necessary daily nutritional requirements.”

“Sure sure,” he replied, sitting down and taking up way too much room.

Have you ever noticed how some men do that – take up all the space in a room no matter how big it is? It’s not even solely a physical thing – with John it was as much his command presence as it was his physical size that seemed to absorb all the air around us, making me feel both crowded and short of breathe.

“So,” he said after a few minutes of silence. “How was your day dear?”

“Funny,” I said with a straight face. “Actually it was pretty good. I got one of those ancient devices to power up – Dr McKay was really excited because it was something about weapons research!” I couldn’t help but brag about my small victory.

“Really? Cool! Now Rodney can pick on you to be the guinea pig for all his “what does this ancient doohickie do?” experiments.” Major Sheppard didn’t seem at all bothered that his reign as the most proficient ATA gene carrier might be over – not that I thought I was as good as him by any stretch after just one morning of good luck.

“I really don’t mind,” I said. “I’m looking forward to working with Dr McKay.”

‘Wait a minute,” John protested. “You actually liked Rodney? The same Rodney who thinks that everyone is his intellectual inferior and makes sure we all know it?”

“I am his intellectual inferior,” I reminded him. “Why would I take offense that we both know it? Besides, it’s kind of refreshing to be around someone knowing where you stand and what they really think of you. I could do with a little more of that in my life.”

“Listen,” he had a hold of my hands now and was using them to pull me closer to him. “One – you are not intellectually inferior just because someone else happens to know more about a subject than you do!”

I could hear the frustrated tone in his voice but I really wasn’t interested in having my ego artificially propped up. I tried to pull away but he held on.

“I’m not done yet,” he said. “Two – it’s not always a good thing to know exactly what everyone else is thinking about you. You might not be ready for that big a dose of honesty.”

“Maybe,” I agreed because we both knew I was so not ready for any level of honesty about his opinion of me. “But I still think things are being kept from me deliberately and I really hate that feeling!”

“I can understand that,” he replied. “So long as you try to understand that we’re not keeping things from you that have any bearing on what you’re trying to establish here.”

“So you are keeping something from me?” I jumped on that one part of his statement.

“NO,” he squeezed my hands to emphasise his point. “There are some things to do with the security of this base and this mission that you cannot be privy to but that makes you no different from 90 percent of the members of this expedition.”

“Oh,” I said in a small voice, looking down as I realised that I’d been making my situation more important that it could possibly be to the leaders of this expedition.

“Now don’t go all timid on me,” John protested. “I will try to keep you informed whenever I can but there will be some things I won’t tell you for your own safety. Wouldn’t want the Wraith getting hold of you and sucking compromising information out of you just because you’re in with the boss now would we?”

“Geeze, would you stop putting nightmare inducing Wraith scenarios in my head!” I pulled away from him and stood up to leave the table. “And I’m not ‘in’ with the boss ... don’t treat me any different that you would any other person you’ve trained!”

“See now that’s a problem,” he drawled as he got up and followed my hurried dash from the commissary. “Like it or not, you are different from all the other people I’ve trained.”

“No I’m not,” I disagreed. “And stop following me!”

“My grandmother always told me I should escort a lady to her door after a date,” he said, using his longer legs to easily match my strides as I turned down the corridor towards my room.

“THIS IS NOT A DATE!” I yelled the words, turning and using my hands against his chest to push him away. In my annoyance I had clearly forgotten that he was much stronger than me and that trying to push him away would be no more successful than trying to move a mountain.

“There’s no need to yell,” he grabbed my hands and held them against his chest, clearly not at all bothered by my protests. We’d arrived at my room and even though I had believed that only I could activate the controls John proved this to be incorrect when he swiped open the door and backed me inside.

Can I just say at this point that I was seriously worked up and not thinking clearly? Some tide of emotion had me in its grip and I really don’t think I can be held accountable for my actions.

“What are you doing?” I asked a bit breathlessly.

“Well if you have to ask then I’m obviously not doing this right,” John replied in a predatory, quiet voice right before he backed me against the adjacent wall and kissed me.


Chapter 12: It’s not just lust you know


Authors note: Warning ... this chapter contains some sexual references

That panicked and yet excited wash of emotion I’d started to become too familiar with stormed over me immediately, along with a heady rush of adrenalin. It wasn’t your average “Hello - nice to kiss you for the first time” kind of kiss either. John drew me in like he’d been kissing me forever. He was fire and passion – lips melding to mine, tongue instantly blazing through my defences to claim every inch of my mouth, body rocking against me in all the right places as his hands began to explore. I was kissing him back just as feverishly and straining to get closer before I knew what was happening.

I can’t speak for him but I felt a connection to him like I’d never had with anyone else that contributed to how quickly those intense sexual emotions overtook me. I have no doubt that I would have participated to the obvious conclusion if he hadn’t pulled away before we got quite that far.

My hands were buried in his hair and his were up my shirt and splayed across my bare back still holding me tightly to him. Breathing deeply John rested his forehead against mine as we both recovered from the storm of emotions.

“Okay, that was a little more intense than I was expecting,” he said, trying to lighten the mood.

I was starting to come back to myself and the realisation of what I’d just willingly participated in. What had I been thinking!

“That was a mistake,” I said, ignoring the fact that he’d obviously been thinking about kissing me before he’d actually done it. I attempted to pull away with the hope I could put some distance between me and his disturbing presence but he wouldn’t let me.

“Oh no,” he said. “We’re not going back to the whole denial thing. I only stopped because I don’t want to screw this up by going too fast. There’s no way I’m gonna let you forget what we’d be doing right about now if I hadn’t called a halt - with both of us fully participating!”

“So I’m not immune to the effects of lust,” I tried to make light of my feelings. “But like I said – it would be a mistake for me to act on those feelings with someone in your position, Major.”

“Don’t put my rank up as a barrier between us,” he said, finally letting me retreat to the other side of the room. “There’re no rules or regulations governing any kind of relationship between us.”

“So we just engage in a few bouts of mindless sex and then go our separate ways?” I asked in disbelief. “That might work for you but for someone like me it would spell disaster. Atlantis is a small place – it would get around before you’d made it all the way out my door and I’d be the one no one would ever take seriously again.”

“Someone like you?” John was clearly getting angry with me now. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Don’t play dumb Major,” I almost sneered. “We both know that I’m teetering on the lowest rung of the Atlantis ladder and that if we could have dialled Earth I’d have been shipped back before the dust had even settled.”

“Sabina,” he protested, anger suddenly gone. He tried to reach for me again but I was having none of that.

“Stay over there,” I ordered him. “I can’t think when you get up in my face like that.”

“You think too much,” John muttered under his breath, running his hands through his hair. God I loved his hair ... and his eyes ... and the way he towered over me ... and ... oh god what was I doing?

“Look, I’m not up to discussing this any further tonight.” I stated firmly. “I’ve had a long day and my brain feels like it’s about to explode with too much new stuff. Can we just drop it for now, please?”

“Sure, I can do that,” he agreed. That had been almost too easy – what was he up to now?

“Same time tomorrow morning?” he asked casually as he headed for the door.

“Um ... okay” I said hesitantly, following him without even thinking about it.

Once in the corridor again he turned to face me. I had assumed that he wouldn’t want anyone to see us together in a non platonic sense and it was still early so I felt safe in standing in the doorway to see him off.

“Goodnight Scotty,” he said before pulling me to him and giving me a passionate farewell kiss. My brain went into overdrive. He didn’t hold anything back and I was feverishly participating with no thought for who might be walking by.

Oh the humiliation of realising that once again it was John with the control enough to pull away leaving me wanting more ... and I seriously wanted a lot more at that point.

“It’s not just lust you know,” was his parting line before he turned and swaggered off down the corridor whistling a jaunty tune.

I floated in a daze back inside my room, troubled by what had happened. Even though on the surface it seemed John was interested in me I knew that when it really counted he was light years out of my reach.


Chapter 13: There is no we!


When Sheppard (I’d decided that from now on I was only going to call him ‘Sheppard’ – just like his other friends did) greeted me the next morning for our daily run his manner was such that no one would have believed only a few hours prior he’d had his hands up the back of my shirt.

Maybe our run was a little more ... competitive ... than usual but for me that was more about trying to outrun the thoughts I really didn't want to be having about my companion than anything else. As we turned the last corner heading back to my room Sergeant Bates approached and told us Dr Weir wanted to see both of us straight away.

“I wonder what she wants,” I worried, feeling a bit like a school kid being called to the principal’s office.

Sheppard said nothing as we changed direction and headed for Dr Weirs office, and his silence only made me worry more.

“Sabina, John,” Dr Weir greeted us in a friendly yet reserved tone.

“Elizabeth,” John replied, raising an eyebrow to query the need for both of us to meet with her.

“This is awkward,” Dr Weir admitted after a prolonged silence. “Dr Beckett came to see me this morning to warn me about the latest gossip making its way around the city. Do you want to guess what that might have been?”

My face reddened as I realised where she was going with this – someone had seen us last night. I kept my eyes away from Sheppard and firmly fixed on the floor, I’m sure giving the appearance of a naughty child.

“Since when has Atlantis gossip been of interest to you Elizabeth?” Major Sheppard’s tone said he was both surprised and annoyed that this was what Dr Weir had wanted to talk about.

“Since it involved the ranking military officer and someone supposedly under his command!” Dr Weir replied in a more heated tone. “What were you thinking John, or were you even thinking at all?”

“I didn’t realise I had to clear how I use my personal time with you first!” John retorted. “Sabina has finished basic training and I made it quite clear that she is no longer under my command – what we do in our own time should be of no concern to anyone but us.”

I’m sure my face got even redder at that point – he was making it sound like a lot more was going on than there actually was.

“There is no ‘us’,” I protested weakly, glancing up to see both Dr Weir and Major Sheppard frowning at my interruption.

“You’re right,” Dr Weir directed that one at John, ignoring me completely. “I’m sure it will get around just as quickly that Sabina has finished her basic training but it would have been better if you’d waited until that was the case. You have every right to engage in a relationship with any of the civilians here BUT you have to be aware of the strain this might place on Sabina.”

“People are going to think I’m being favoured because I’m,” I glanced at Sheppard and queried “how did you put it ‘in with the boss’, aren’t they?”

“Maybe initially, until they get to know you,” Dr Weir admitted.

“This is all bullshit!” Major Sheppard protested.

“Major,” Dr Weir cautioned. “I didn’t call you here to reprimand you, just to warn you. I’m sure you don’t want people gossiping about Sabina, and burying your head in the sand because it annoys you that they are isn’t going to help either of you.”

“Okay,” Sheppard admitted. “We appreciate the heads up.”

“THERE IS NO WE!” my shouted comment effectively silenced both the Major and Dr Weir. “Perhaps you could spread that piece of gossip around instead,” I suggested in a quiet voice to Dr Weir before turning and making a hasty exit. I knew that was beyond rude and that I would have to apologise later but I seriously hated the idea that people’s opinion of me would be dictated by something I hadn’t even done. That fact that I really really wanted to do what I was being accused of only made it worse.

I paused outside the door to try and get myself under control, and I couldn’t help but stay there once I’d begun to overhear the rest of their conversation.

“Shouldn’t you go and talk to her?” Dr Weir asked.

“Nah – she just needs a little time to realise that this isn’t as big an issue as she thinks. I know what I’m doing,” Sheppard reassured her.

“Do you John?” Dr Weir questioned. “Because I have to say I’m a little surprised at the way you’re going about this. I never expected you to let personal situations get in the way of your command on this base.”

“I haven’t let personal anything affect my command, Elizabeth,” he protested heatedly. “I’ve known Sabina for 3 months – have you noticed in that time that I’ve put anything ahead of my military duty?”

“Of course not,” Dr Weir admitted. “To be honest I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary between you and Sabina until Carson brought it to my attention this morning.”

Thank you,” Sheppard almost overemphasised. “Look, I’m just as surprised as you that I even have any personal situations to deal with! But there’s a connection there Elizabeth, something I felt the first day when I saw Sabina step through the gate before I even knew anything about her. And my gut is telling me it would be a mistake to ignore that connection – that somehow the good of this whole mission might rest on it.”

I didn’t even want to hear what Dr Weir might make of that – turning quickly I ran back to my room. Once there I almost collapsed on the floor, putting my head in my hands as I leant on my bent knees. He felt it too? Rather than relief that I wasn’t the only one I felt scared. There was something about Atlantis, something about me ending up here that had always seriously worried me. And now knowing that Sheppard felt some of that too just worried me more.

What did it all mean? Rubbing tiredly at my forehead I frowned in concentration. It was all tied in with the ancient palm pad I was hiding – very glad I hadn’t told anyone about that – I had to be able to understand what was on there and to do that I had to understand ancient. So really I was back where I’d started out this morning – learning ancient was still my top priority and I resolved to let nothing get in the way.

For the first time I tried to deliberately command my room to do something for me. “Let no one including Major John Sheppard in” I commanded. A few minutes later when I heard Major Sheppard outside my door I was relieved that this time he wasn’t able to open the door without my permission. Putting everything else out of my mind I settled down with my laptop. It was time for some serious studying.


Chapter 14: How long are you going to do this?


Luckily for me Sheppard had a lot of responsibilities on Atlantis and he did seem to take them all very seriously. A part of me had been expecting him to be waiting to ambush me when I left my room several hours later but thankfully that wasn’t the case. Hopefully I’d be able to pick up some food and make it back to my room before anyone I didn’t want to see could find me.

Once in the commissary though I realised there was at least one person I couldn’t avoid. Dr Weir was sitting at a table by herself, obviously finishing her lunch. I made my way slowly over to her, trying to decide what I was going to say.

“Uh, Dr Weir?” I interrupted her lunch, standing nervously across from where she was sitting. “Have you got a minute?”

“Of course,” Dr Weir replied in her usual professional way.

“I just wanted to apologise for my outburst this morning,” I said quickly. “You were just trying to help and I shouldn’t have taken my frustration out on you.”

“That’s quite all right Sabina,” Dr Weir’s smile was both friendly and forgiving. “I can appreciate how you must be feeling right now and to be honest I don’t envy you having to deal with a determined Major Sheppard. He can be ... difficult ... to derail once he’s decided what path he’s going to take in a military situation and I’m not surprised he’d be similar in his personal life.”

“Yes well,” I began to feel uncomfortable with the personal turn the conversation had taken. “like I said there really isn’t an ‘us’ and I’m sure before too long that will all be resolved. In the mean time I just wanted to reassure you that I’m fully committed to earning my place here and that I don’t intend to let personal issues get in the way.”

“No one expects you to work 24/7 Sabina and only the military have rules about fraternisation,” Dr Weir said with an almost amused look. “I wouldn’t underestimate John – it’s been my experience so far that he’s a lot smarter than you might expect and that he seems to always find a way to get what he wants while making you think it was your idea.”

I made a non committal sound in response to that, thinking I should really leave before this got any more uncomfortable.

“If you ever need to talk to someone Sabina, about anything,” Dr Weir’s tone held a hesitant caring quality now. “I hope you know that my door is always open.”

“Thank you,” I said gratefully, determined that I’d never take her up on that. “I should let you get back to your lunch.”

I decided that the only way to deal with the situation was to avoid Major Sheppard. I could have just sat down with him and explained all the reasons why I thought us spending personal time together was so not a good idea. But I knew what would happen - he'd listen to all my protests and nod like he completely agreed and understood my position and then before I knew what was happening I'd be waking up in his quarters instead of mine.

The first chance I got I had asked Dr McKay why is was such a big deal that I'd remained hidden on Atlantis for a few days and he told me about the life sign detectors and city wide sensor system. I should have shown up on those when they were looking for Jinto during the day that he was missing after letting that ... shadow entity ... out of its cage. The sensors couldn't pick out a particular person but a lone signal in an unoccupied part of the city would have given me away. Dr McKay said in thinking about how much I wanted to stay hidden I must have accessed the sensor system and made myself "invisible" - told the system to ignore my specific life sign. Pretty cool huh?

Over the course of that day with a bit of reshuffling I made my daily schedule pretty much Sheppard proof. Mornings I'd organised to train with Teyla, who seemed happy to accept my explanation that I wanted to learn the fighting sticks with her. When she was not off world we would warm up with a run before she conducted my training session. She had tried to talk to me about Major Sheppard before agreeing to train me but I think my genuine desire to learn defensive techniques as well as anything else I could to make myself a useful member of Atlantis convinced her that my motives were not just about avoiding the Major. I don't know why but Sheppard never tried to interrupt these sessions so I could only assume that Teyla spoke to him about it.

Once I'd completed my session with Teyla I'd head straight to the mess to get breakfast with all the other junior members - I'd worked out a group of them met the same time every day and I just insinuated myself with them. I'd seen Major Sheppard come in a couple of times and look for me - I guess Dr Weir's warning about how people would talk was enough to hold him back from just coming over and yanking me away. The first day I did this, the day after my meeting with Dr Weir, I was put on the spot when one of the junior scientists asked me outright what the deal was with me and Sheppard. I laughed and said it had all been a misunderstanding and that now I was no longer in basic training I hardly even saw him anymore. I guess that was convincing enough because no one asked me about him again after that. Luckily they didn't seem to mind my presence so I was able to join them for the evening meal too.

I'd spend the mornings with Dr McKay or Dr Zelenka if McKay was off world, doing all those guinea pig tests Sheppard had complained about. Afternoons I'd hide out in my old room learning ancient and continuing the other lessons Dr Weir had set for me. I'd asked Dr Zelenka for some other learning materials to do with the ancient technology and he happily overloaded me with gigabytes of information to read. Having the ATA gene helped because I'd just make the sensors not register my presence at all - in fact I did that pretty much all day. At first the mental effort of maintaining that sensor blind spot was so great that I found it hard to concentrate on anything else. Over a few days I learned how to keep the block at the back of my mind so I could concentrate on other things. In the end it was just like breathing – I didn’t have to consciously make an effort to do it, it became part of my brains usual activities. I also made sure that Major Sheppard couldn't override the lock on my room like he had that one disastrous time - even with a sensor blind spot he would know I was there every night.

It helped that there was a crisis in Atlantis at the same time that I began to avoid Major Sheppard. Teyla told me that in five of their last nine off world missions they had been ambushed by the Wraith. That couldn’t be coincidence ... horrible as it seemed, the only thing that made sense was that there was a Wraith spy in Atlantis. I was glad there was no way I could be suspected – being a stowaway and all.

I could tell Teyla was troubled one morning – when pressed she admitted it saddened her that the Athosians had left Atlantis to settle on the mainland ... more so when it was discovered that there was no spy at all, just a hidden necklace transmitting their position to the nearest Wraith ship. Major Sheppard decided to use that fact against the Wraith, managing to capture one and bring it back to Atlantis for questioning – a fact that frankly freaked me out.

Crisis aside, my avoidance plan was going really well which bothered me a little - didn't Sheppard want to talk to me? He didn't seem to be making much effort to find me - not that I wanted him to but still it would have been nice to be able to more actively show him that I was avoiding him! I was in Dr McKay’s lab one morning a few days after the Wraith spy thing was resolved when all that changed.

"Rodney," I heard Sheppard’s voice from the doorway and tried to hunch myself down low so he wouldn't notice me. "I need to borrow Sabina for a moment." Okay so obviously he already knew I was there.

"No no no," Dr McKay protested. "I finally have someone who's willing to help me - I might have the ATA gene myself but I can't concentrate on operating things and take all the readings I need at the same time. Sabina's a natural ... in fact she's better than you in some respects." Dr McKay looked slyly at Major Sheppard at that point to see if his little barb had hit home. He should have known that Major Sheppard just didn't care about that sort of thing.

"I only need her for a minute McKay," Sheppard drawled, not looking at me. "You can have your guinea pig back after that."

"Oh, all right. Just don't upset her because her control gets a little wobbly when she's upset." Dr McKay turned back to his laptop without even glancing my way. He really was in his own little world and completely oblivious to the undercurrents between the Major and me.

"Hey," I protested more heatedly than the situation really demanded. "Don't I get a say in this? I don't think we should interrupt this experiment - I just got the right ... hey!" I protested again as Major Sheppard grabbed my arm and dragged me out of the room after him.

Still not saying anything to me he swiped his hand over a door panel just down from Dr McKay's lab and I found myself in a storage room crowded with boxes. Sheppard released my arm as soon as the doors closed behind us and took a step back so we were as separated as we could be in such a small space. He stood there just looking at me but I was determined he would speak first.

"It's been two weeks,' he finally said. "How long are you gonna do this?" he asked without any hint of the anger I was sure he must be feeling by now.

"Do what?" I asked innocently, before relenting when I saw the knowing look on his face. "Okay okay," I admitted. "I didn’t want to talk about ... anything ... with you right now and I didn't think you'd feel the same way so I just thought a little space would be a good idea."

"I'm not gonna jump you every time I see you," he was teasing me now. "I do know how to control myself ... pretty sure I already demonstrated that when I ..."

"Don't!" I interrupted before he could finish. "Don't you dare bring that up now - you pulled back first but we'll never know whether I would have pulled away myself if things had gone any further!"

"Oh I'm pretty sure we both know exactly how that would have ended if I hadn't stopped us," he was getting a little riled up, "an action I'm regretting now I know how good you are at the whole avoidance thing!"

"You may be the Poster boy of Atlantis but that doesn't mean every woman wants you mauling her," I hotly tried to redirect the conversation.

“Mauled? Poster boy?” Sheppard suddenly looked a lot more than riled and I realised that challenging him had probably not been the smart thing to do.

I put my hand out at chest level when I saw he was about to step closer. "You stay over there," I directed weakly.

Instead of replying Sheppard just grabbed my outstretched hand and used it to pull me roughly the rest of the way to him. All the breath rushed out of me as our chests collided and before I could take another one I was overwhelmed by the kiss of an angry Major Sheppard. This one was different from those first kisses - he still kissed me like he had every right to but this was a little rougher and a lot less controlled.

I'd like to say that I held firm to my resolve and didn't participate but we all know that's not what happened. It only took moments for me to lose it - that jolt of energy I always got from him was so strong this time, forcing me to cling to him in order to remain standing. The next few minutes were all about mouths engaged in battle ably assisted by hands roaming where they really shouldn't have been during working hours. I was completely lost to myself and I think this time so was John. We really would have consummated our relationship on top of a box of notepads and spare laptop batteries if the sound of his radio beeping hadn't pulled us back to reality.

I pulled away almost guiltily, rebuttoning my shirt (when had he opened that?!) and smoothing my hair back into its usual pony tail. I then slumped onto one of the boxes and put my hands over my face, wondering how many times that radio had beeped before it registered.

Major Sheppard was talking into his radio but I only registered the last bit of his conversation. "Yes I’m sure I’m okay! I'll be right there Teyla," he confirmed before turning the radio off and looking back to me.

"There's a problem on the mainland and Teyla needs me to fly her over," he said. I resented the fact that he appeared unaffected by what we'd just been doing while I felt that standing up right now would be more than I could manage.

"Look, I ..." he began, running his hands through his hair - maybe he wasn't as unaffected as I thought.

"You don't have to say anything," I stopped him. "You go help Teyla and I'll just go back to avoiding you."

"You do that,' he said with a laugh. "I'll ambush you again later," he added before turning and walking out the room.

Rather than wait for Sheppard to find me I decided to go on the offensive instead. I didn’t want anything too private so when I saw him sitting in the commissary by himself the next morning I joined him.

“Can we talk?” I asked quietly, sitting across from him.

“Not avoiding me today? Major Sheppard teased.

“Wasn’t really working, was it?” I admitted. “Look ...” I paused, trying to organise my thoughts into some kind of logical order. “I’m not ready for this ... whatever this is between us. I’m still finding my way here and I can’t concentrate on what I need to do when my focus is so divided.”

“I’m not trying to makes things difficult for you,” the Major protested.

“I know, I know,” I let him off the hook. “It’s me. I just need some time to get used to everything because frankly the fact that I’m even on another planet still freaks me out.”

“I can give you time,” Major Sheppard agreed easily, “so long as we’re clear that you’re not gonna go messing with anyone else in the mean time.”

“I think that’s a pretty safe bet,” I laughed, thinking it was doubtful there was anyone else on Atlantis crazy enough to want to get involved with me. “Friends?” I asked hesitantly, holding out a hand to shake on the deal.

“Friends,” he agreed, grasping my hand and squeezing it firmly.

“Good,” I said with relief. “I’m glad that’s sorted.”

“Helping McKay again today?” Major Sheppard queried, thankfully changing the subject at last.

“Yeah – he’s still excited about that weapons thing – even though we haven’t been able to get much more than that inventory from the first day. The Ancients weren’t very good at leaving instructions, were they?

“Not so much,” he agreed as he rose and gathered up his rubbish. “I’ve got a mission so I’ll catch up with you later.” I smiled as he sauntered away, stopping at the entrance to throw me a half wave. It was a relief to be on better footing with the Major again.

The next month passed very quickly. I got to know Major Sheppard much better and found that, overwhelming attraction aside, he was an entertaining and interesting companion. The bonus was that I got to know Teyla, Dr McKay and Lt Ford much better as well and could see why the Major had begun to consider them his surrogate family. Although Sheppard made no further physical advances, he flirted with me at the least opportunity, often making me blush with his innuendos. Sometimes he’d ask me out on a date but I always managed to find a way to change the subject without offending him. I found it difficult at times to resist his boyish charm and good looks but I was unwilling to risk our budding friendship for something I was sure wouldn't work out in the end.

Sometimes I would get to sit with Major Sheppard and his team after they’d returned from an off world mission and hear about what happened – details I wouldn’t have heard otherwise. To be honest, those missions all seemed a bit sad to me, in different ways.

I couldn’t decide whether the mission to M7G-677 was good or bad. It horrified me that there was a planet of children who believed that the Wraith would stay away as long as they killed themselves before they turned 24. I was sad for all the 24 year olds who never made it to 25 but at the same time happy that Major Sheppard had managed to convince their current leader Keras not to follow that blind tradition.

The situation on Hoff was especially troubling to me. Here was a race so desperate to defeat the Wraith they were willing to sacrifice half their people to make it happen. Would there come a time when we would feel that desperate? The fact that we had been willing to give them our Wraith prisoner when we knew they would be experimenting on him seemed to suggest that maybe we would – although I found it hard to ignore the sense of relief I felt in knowing that the Wraith was no longer on Atlantis.

The worse mission of all during that month was the one to the Genii home world. I could see that this one troubled Major Sheppard on a number of levels. The fact that a potentially strong ally would rather use us and betray us instead of joining our fight against the Wraith angered him. Going to that Wraith hive ship and knowing there were prisoners still alive there that he couldn’t save frustrated and sickened him. Finding out that there could be as many as sixty Wraith hive ships making their way to our corner of the galaxy was a mixed blessing – to know what we were up against but also to know that at this point we really didn’t have a way to defeat them.

Even their visit to M5S-224 had a disturbing element, despite the fact that it had taken place mostly within their minds. To go home only to find it was all a dream would have been so disappointing but at the same time to believe for just a little while that you were home must have been wonderful. Teyla shared her journey through Major Sheppard’s eyes and took delight in telling me about her trip and how much she had enjoyed ‘shopping’. Major Sheppard only said the experience was deeply disturbing, the sight of Teyla searching for hours for one outfit maybe only slightly less so than shooting Lt Ford or seeing friends he knew to be long dead.

I wondered how they did it sometimes – kept putting themselves out there only to be disappointed by their lack of success in finding allies or weapons we could use against the Wraith. I was glad my role on Atlantis was a lot lower key – apart from my brush with the shadow entity I had been kept well clear of the multitude of dangers that seemed to exist in the Pegasus Galaxy. When I heard a few days later that Major Sheppard and Teyla had discovered a huge storm heading straight for Atlantis I realised my safe run might be at an end.


Chapter 15: What the hell are you still doing here?


Authors Note: Warning ... this chapter contains some sexual references ... and some violence ... nothing strong though ...

It's amazing how a grim situation can permeate even to the lowest levels of an organisation. Although I wasn't privy to every detail about the storm or what was being done to address the problems it would cause I could sense straight away the change that came over Atlantis. Very quickly the plan came down from Dr Weir's office that all the non essential staff would be evacuated to wait out the storm with the Manarans.

I was pretty sure that a stowaway would be considered extremely non essential. I don’t know why but for some reason I really didn’t want to leave Atlantis. Maybe deep down I was still worried that if I did they’d never let me back in. Major Sheppard had shown me the jumper bay a while back and I decided that one of the puddle jumpers would make an excellent hiding place to ride out the storm. I had the ATA gene and was confident I could raise the shields if I needed to. Major Sheppard would no doubt check at some stage to make sure I’d evacuated but I was counting on the confusion with the number of groups going through the gate to make it easy for him to assume I was gone. I knew they’d scan the city to be sure no one had been left behind but they wouldn’t find me in the puddle jumper.

McKay and Zelenka came through with a plan that involved utilising the lightning rods by opening all the grounding stations. The power from lightning strikes would be collected and then directed through the very floors of Atlantis to power the shield. The last of the groups had been evacuated by the time the storm was less than 5 hours away. Teyla, Beckett, Ford and a group of Athosians were on their way back from the Mainland and would have to be evacuated when they got back.

After about half an hour inside the jumper I was startled from my thoughts by the sight of two men I didn’t recognise. They were dressed in uniforms I knew weren’t from Earth and carrying guns. I watched as they separated, clearly checking out the jumper bay and counting the number of ships we had. When I saw one heading straight for my position instinct and 3 months of basic training took over. Choosing my position carefully I waited quietly until just the right moment to strike out. Although he was bigger than me, the element of surprise allowed me to disarm him quickly and then render him unconscious with a well aimed blow to the back of the head. Unfortunately the noise he made when he fell to the ground drew the attention of the other soldier. He came running over, gun raised to fire at me. Before he could, I raised the gun I’d appropriated from the first guy, firing quickly and accurately just like I had in target practice. I ran to check his pulse and found that he was dead ... I felt a queasy sensation in the pit of my stomach as I started to come down from the adrenalin high. Steeling myself I dragged his lifeless body into one of the other jumpers. Finding some things to restrain the first soldier I dragged him to the other jumper too – bound and gagged and hopefully out for a few more hours to come. I went back to my puddle jumper and sat down shakily in the pilot’s chair. Bringing up the control room HUD I could find nothing to explain the presence of those enemy soldiers. Searching around I found a spare radio and decided it was worth the risk to try to contact someone.

"John?" I whispered softly into the radio.

Sabina?” Major Sheppard’s incredulous voice whispered urgently back at me. I knew he’d be angry but I still felt a huge sense of relief to hear his voice. “What the hell are you still doing here?”

“No time for that,” I ignored the question. “There are enemy soldiers in the city.”

“It’s the Genii,” he said bitingly. “They’ve got McKay and Weir hostage. Where are you?”

“I’m in the jumper bay ... I had to um ... take two of them out,” I admitted sickly.

What!” the Majors voice was a heated whisper this time. There was a pause during which I resolved my best move was to say nothing. “Are you okay?” he asked in a calmer voice.

“Yes,” I said reassuringly. “All that training must have paid off. What do you want me to do now?”

"Stay in the jumper until I come get you,” Sheppard ordered me. “Don't do anything! And maintain radio silence!" That was the voice of 'Major Sheppard military leader', not my friend, so I knew the situation was grim. I followed his orders without question.

It made me uncomfortable to sit there doing nothing while he was out there facing danger, but then I came up with an idea that might possibly work. I assumed the Genii would be trying to track him with the sensors – maybe I could block his signature much like I did my own so that he could move around freely. I tried hard for some time but I didn’t have much success. I couldn't maintain control with Sheppard moving too much and too quickly for me to keep up. With practice I could probably do better but for now I would have to be physically with him to pull it off and I knew he wouldn't go for that. I resigned myself to the fact that there was nothing else I could do to help.

I'd been sitting there contemplating my act of murder and worrying about the Major for a while when Jumper Two returned carrying Lieutenant Ford, Teyla and Dr Beckett. I was so relieved to see them, even though Ford refused to let me join them to help Major Sheppard. "The Major would have me for breakfast before demoting me back to private if I let you come," were his words when I asked.

So I sat there for what seemed like a very long time until Dr McKay's words came through the radio telling me he was activating the shield and that I should activate the jumper shields and hold tight. It all went as he'd planned, proving once again that he really was the smartest person on Atlantis.

I found out later everything that had gone on, how brave Rodney had been at the end, and how Major Sheppard had almost singlehandedly taken out the bulk of the Genii force, including killing who knew how many when he closed the iris on an open wormhole while Genii reinforcements were coming through. He was a military man who I assumed had killed enemy soldiers before - now I knew firsthand how dangerous he could be in protecting his people and the city.

It was just another piece in the puzzle I'd been trying to solve. Clearly Major Sheppard was both smarter and much more deadly than his demeanour would suggest. He was a strong and confident leader of Atlantis who really should have been above personal concerns - why the hell was he bothering with me? Sure, everyone needs a release but if it was just that then once I'd shown myself to be unwilling to have a casual fling, he should have moved on. I resolved that no matter how embarrassing it might be, I would have to talk to Dr Beckett because I had a sick feeling that the ATA gene had something to do with it.

Rather than gather with the others as they waited for everyone to return to Atlantis, I retired to my room to try and assimilate the events of the day. I had killed ... something I never thought I would even contemplate and it bothered me on a number of levels. I was so tired and yet I couldn't seem to relax my brain enough to sleep. I was lying there staring up at the ceiling, tears silently running into my hair when the door to my room opened. I didn't remember letting go of my hold on the door controls but maybe I was more exhausted than I had realised.

I turned away from the open door because I knew who it would be and I couldn't bear for him to see me upset. He didn't say anything, just silently made his way to my bed, lying down next to me and gathering me up so that he was spooned behind me. That made the tears come harder and I couldn't resist turning and burying my head in his chest, letting the tears wash away my conscious thought. I began to speak softly – somehow telling him what I had done in the dark was much easier than it would have been if I’d had to watch his reaction.

“It’s okay,” he reassured me. “This very situation was one of the reasons for training everyone in basic combat skills. You did what you had to do to defend yourself and I’m glad that it was them and not you. You need to put this out of your mind and accept it as something you can’t change.”

I nodded, knowing he was right. He hugged me tight once more and again I felt the tears come – this time they felt more healing than guilty. Eventually I must have wound down to the point of exhaustion because when next I opened my eyes there was daylight streaming through the windows, illuminating the eyes of John Sheppard as he lay next to me, watching me sleep.

"Morning," he said softly, tightening his hold on me like he knew I'd just been about to jump from the bed.

"Um ... morning?" I said it more like a question than a return greeting. "What time is it?"

"Still early," Major Sheppard replied. "Teyla turned up for your morning training but I told her you needed to sleep. She wants to talk to you later."

"Teyla saw you here with me?" I asked with dread.

"She's not going to go posting it up on the commissary notice board you know!" he retorted. "Your reputation is safe for another day."

"Ha Ha," I said, while in my head a light bulb had gone off. I'd spent some time last night worrying that somehow the ATA gene was 'making' him pursue me but maybe it was much simpler than that. Maybe he was just so competitive in nature that my refusal to give in to what we both knew was there between us had made this a kind of game for him. He was the hunter and I was the prey. Maybe if he 'caught' the prey, the challenge would be satisfied and then he'd move on so we could go back to being friends. And yes I am aware of how naive it was to think I could sleep with the guy and then just go back to being friends like it never happened. I know I was fooling myself too that I could go the full distance with him and not walk away damaged when it ended but at the time I just didn't have the strength to resist anymore.

I looked at his tousled hair, his beard darkened face and then into his beautiful hazel eyes. And then I smiled. He was the one who looked worried as I leant forward and gently placed my lips against his.

"Sabina, what are you doing?" he pulled away to question me.

"Well if you have to ask then I'm obviously not doing this right!" I replied, moving in to kiss him again. He laughed weakly but I could tell that his instinct to question my sudden turn about was being swamped by his instinct to get me naked while he had the chance. Giving in, he took command of the kiss, moving us straight into a heated embrace.

It was those other times between us all over again, burning passion overriding sensible thought. It was almost a duel between us as we each strained to get closer, feel more, give more. This time there were no radios to interrupt us and no scruples on John’s part that somehow this was all happening too fast. Events ran their course without pause for breath until that moment when we became one when we both stilled almost in shock.

I don't know if I can describe the connection I felt that was far beyond the mere physical to have John's body joined with my own. It was all the jolts of energy I'd felt at his every little touch multiplied by a million and then dispersed throughout my entire body. Before I could think any more he began to move and I was carried along on the tide of a passion like I'd never experienced. I could feel the climax building in every part of my body and when John surged forward and took us both over the edge I could not tell where he began and I finished.

Exhausted, we collapsed back onto the bed and just lay there together. John’s hand rested on my naked back and his thumb absently stroked my skin, soothing me into sleep.


Chapter 16: She came here because of you!


Now that I had let myself be seduced into being with John Sheppard I wondered why I had protested so much. It got around the base apparently within hours that we were together, aided by the fact that John seemed to need to maintain some kind of physical contact whenever we were out together. After some initial comments and a fair bit of ribbing from our friends, interest in us just died. Clearly it was more fun to speculate about who might be with whom – once the speculation had turned into fact it was no longer interesting. In fact, everyone got used to me being a part of John’s life with surprising ease. I resolved to relax and enjoy it, and to ignore that voice now buried somewhere deep at the back of my mind warning me this was too good to be true.

I’d always worried when I knew Major Sheppard was out on a mission but it was different now as I felt all eyes on me in concern whenever his team was late returning. I waited anxiously when John and Dr McKay failed to return from a scouting mission and hovered just as anxiously when John came back with a gunshot wound and a mass of bruises. “I know it looks bad,” he said painfully when I went to visit him in the infirmary, “but you should see the other guy!” It was Dr McKay who told me it was a lone Wraith who had killed the other two members of their mission, and how close he and John had both come to being fed upon.

In fact, worrying about John Sheppard seemed to be turning into my second job. One afternoon I was studying in my room when Dr Weir’s voice came over the city wide communications system.

“May I have everyone's attention please? We have run into a questionable medical situation and at Dr Beckett's suggestion we have decided to put the city into a self-regulated quarantine. For at least the next couple of hours, I need everyone to stay where they are, and report anyone moving freely through the halls. I hope you'll understand. Thank you.”

Before I could even think of putting in my own call, John’s voice came from the radio he’d insisted I carry at all times.

“Where are you Sabina?” he questioned, his voice sounding somewhat frustrated.

“My quarters,” I replied. “You?”

“Stuck in the gym with Teyla,” he growled. “Dr Weir won’t let us leave.”

“It is a medical quarantine John,” I pointed out. “Not much the military can do about that.”

“I know,” he admitted. “But I’m gonna go crazy in here wondering what’s going on.”

“I’m sure Dr Weir will keep you up to date,” I said, knowing him well enough to appreciate how frustrating he would find not being able to act. “Please don’t do anything stupid.”

“Me, do something stupid? When has that ever happened?” he quipped before getting serious again. “Look, I have to check back in with Dr Weir – stay in your room until you hear that the quarantine has been lifted.”

“Okay,” I said before he signed off. Putting the radio down I worried about what John would do if he had to spend too much time stuck in that lab. And sure enough, he admitted later that he’d defied the quarantine so he could go after Peterson, putting the whole city at risk and undermining Dr Weir’s authority in the process. I was upset when he told me he’d taken a jumper out so he could drop of a nuclear bomb to take out the nanite virus – as much because of the risk to him as because he hadn’t taken the time to contact me before he did it. I knew there would be many situations when he’d put the city before his relationship with me and that I would have to get used to it if I wanted to continue to be with him.

Then one day John returned from a routine mission with a beautiful alien woman and a look of utter captivation on his face. “I TOLD YOU SO!” the voice in my head was screaming. When John didn’t come in search of me as he usually did after a mission I felt darkness come over my heart. It seemed my time of belonging with Major Sheppard was already over after a few short weeks.

The humiliation of being completely ignored by Major Sheppard was only slightly worse than the humiliation I felt when Teyla, Ford and Rodney gathered around me with pity in their eyes. Teyla tried to excuse John’s behaviour by telling me Chaya’s planet had a weapon of unrivalled power that could defeat Wraith ships in space and that John would do anything to secure it or a place for as many refugees from the Wraith as he could. Rodney took a different tact, telling me how suspicious he thought Chaya to be and how he wouldn’t be surprised if she’d put some kind of alien hypnosis on Sheppard to make him act that way. He said he’d prove it and then everything would be back to the way it was. Ford just patted my hand as if to tell me it would all be alright in the end.

When it turned out that Chaya was actually the ancient Athar, exiled from the ascended ancients because she had interfered with beings beneath her, it only seemed to make things worse. She went back to her planet and Major Sheppard of course returned to Atlantis. I retreated back into that defensive place I had been in before the storm changed everything.

“SABINA, OPEN THE DOOR!” I could hear Major Sheppard yelling at me from the hallway. “I’M GONNA STAND OUT HERE ALL NIGHT UNTIL YOU LET ME IN!”

“What can I do for you Major?” I asked in my chilliest voice, standing in my open doorway in an attempt to stop him from coming in.

“We need to talk about what happened,” Sheppard replied, muscling past me and swiping the door closed on his way through.

“You don’t owe me anything Major,” I countered. “We never made any promises to each other – you’re quite free to sleep or meld or whatever the hell it is you did with anyone you want.”

“It wasn’t like that,” he protested. “She was an ancient – there was just something about her and even though I knew I should tone it back a bit I just couldn’t seem to do it. She just wanted to learn more about our cultures and for all I knew she had a planet we could send everyone to for protection!”

“She came here because of you!” I retorted – I’d questioned Rodney mercilessly until he’d caved and told me the whole story.

“Okay, she said that, but it wasn’t like what I have with you,” he tried to excuse his behaviour.

“Well I guess I don’t have as many ancient genes as she does, given that she’s fully ancient!” I hurled that one at him.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” John’s question was laced with the frustration he was feeling.

“You work it out Major,” I almost taunted him. “Just do it somewhere else because right now I really don’t even want to look at you.”

“Sabina?” he almost pleaded, more than I would have expected from someone I knew would never beg for anything. “I didn’t cheat on you ... I never intended to cheat on you.”

“Not with your body maybe,” I agreed. “But we both know you cheated on me in your mind, and you know what? I think I’d have preferred it if you had just screwed her.” This time my voice echoed with the sadness I was feeling – I’d gone over and over this in my head trying to put a different spin on it but I just couldn’t. My trust was broken and I didn’t think I’d ever get it back and right then all I wanted was for John to just leave me alone.

I felt him come up behind me and I knew he was about to put his hands on my shoulders. Without thinking I shot an elbow out behind me and had the satisfaction of hearing his breath whoosh out as he grunted with the unexpected pain.

“This was the reason why I didn’t want to get involved with you in the first place,” I said quietly. “I knew this would happen.”

“You knew an ascended Ancient would come to Atlantis? Sheppard asked with a confused look.

NO,” I growled. “I knew that you’d move on when something ... better came along. We were never more than two people capable of really hot sex,” I said those callous words without looking at him. “I’m sure both of us will be able to find that ... outlet ... with someone else.”

“It was more than sex and you know it!” Major Sheppard straightened and moved towards me again, daring me to look at him directly.

“Maybe, “ I said. “Maybe not. Maybe it wasn’t even about us at all.” I could tell that what I was saying was confusing him but I had no intention of explaining myself further. “Now I’d like you to leave – I will call security to come down and remove you and we both know how awkward that would be.”

“Okay, clearly you need time to calm down and think about this rationally,” he excused all my comments as though they were just a symptom of the anger I felt towards him. He didn’t seem to see that I was well past anger and into resignation. “I’ll leave quietly, so long as you agree that we can talk about this again in the future.”

“Sure,” I agreed easily. I knew that no amount of talking was ever going to fix what had been broken inside me.

With relief, Major Sheppard left me to my thoughts. Rather than dwell any more on how miserable he’d made me I turned back to my ancient lessons. I’d been neglecting them and my desire to read the ancient palm pad during my brief sojourn as Major Sheppard’s girlfriend. It was time to refocus.


Chapter 17: Maybe you could turn it off somehow


Saying you’re going to do something and then actually doing it can be two very different things. I had every intention of carrying on as I had before I’d made the mistake of sleeping with Major Sheppard but inside I just felt so miserable and I missed him so much – even though I was still both angry and disappointed in him.

I pretended that I was fine with everyone but inside I was tormented. I couldn’t sleep and I’d lost what little interest I’d had in food, helped by the fact that it was easier to just skip meals than have to sit there pretending I was enjoying myself when I just wasn’t. I couldn’t help but wonder too what people where thinking as I sat there so clearly no longer in the Major’s favour. I went back to avoiding Sheppard and when I couldn’t do that, I just refused to talk to him.

The only thing that seemed to take my mind off things was my studies and so I pursued them almost to the point of obsession. I was making quick progress and started to feel that it would not be long before I’d be able to make some headway in understanding the ancient palm pad.

“She won’t talk to me Elizabeth!” I heard Major Sheppard’s frustrated comment as I was coming up to Dr Weir’s office to discuss some ancient symbols I was having trouble with.

“What did you expect John?” Dr Weir’s voice came back to me sounding almost incredulous. “Sabina doesn’t strike me as the type to trust easily and the fact that she trusted you after so little time must make this even harder for her. You broke that trust ...”

“But I didn’t do anything!” John protested. “Nothing that was real anyway.”

“John, this isn’t about what you think happened,” Dr Weir counselled him now. “It’s about what Sabina thinks happened.”

“I really care about her Elizabeth,” John’s voice had gone all quiet so that I could hardly hear him. “I don’t know what I was thinking with Chaya but I never meant it to be anything.”

“You have to give Sabina time,” Dr Weir said. “Step back a little and let her find her balance here again.”

“I know,” John said it grudgingly. “But I really really hate this – we all know how completely I suck at the whole talking about my feelings thing. I need action ...”

I decided I’d heard enough and turned away before I could hear the rest of that statement. I’d been ignoring the need before but now I felt it was time to go and talk to Dr Beckett, embarrassing as it was going to be. Even more so than it would have been if I’d spoken to him when I first thought of it. Knowing that Sheppard was occupied with Dr Weir I decided there was no time like the present.

“Ah ... Dr Becket?” I called out as I entered the infirmary.

“Hello lass,’ he greeted me. “What can I do for you today?”

“Can we talk privately?” I almost whispered.

“Of course lass, come into my office.” Dr Beckett put a guiding hand on my shoulder and led me towards his office.

Once there I sat and then just looked at him, trying to work out how I was going to do this.

“Just spit it out girl,” he advised. “I won’t be judging you.”

“I know – I’m just not sure where to begin.” I hedged, chewing nervously on my bottom lip. “Okay, first off I should tell you that I know about those mutant genes you found when you did my initial blood work – I heard you and Dr Weir talking about it.”

“I know Sabina,” he said, putting a wonderful Scottish lilt on my name. “Major Sheppard told me ages ago.”

“Oh,” I said, momentarily speechless by that. I didn’t know Sheppard had talked to the Dr about me.

“If this is about those genes, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Just because I haven’t worked out their purpose doesn’t mean they’re dangerous and it certainly doesn’t make them mutant.’”

“It’s not about them,” I discounted that before thinking some more. “Well it is about them but only in a roundabout way. Do you think there could be some genetic imperative for those with the ancient gene to be drawn to each other?” I rushed the question out and almost cringed waiting for his reply.

“Why do you ask?” Dr Beckett’s voice was intrigued.

“Well, I’m sure you know that Major Sheppard and I were ... intimate for a time,” I almost mumbled that one, face flaming as I looked anywhere but at the Dr. “It was really intense – the um ... sex ... I mean ... it was really really intense and I was thinking about it because that can’t be natural right? I mean why would the Major be interested in ... why would he be compelled to do anything of a personal nature when he’s got such an important professional role here. And look what happened with Chaya – John said he couldn’t seem to pull back from her and she was brimming with ancient genes. Of everyone on that mission it was John she was drawn to ... I mean he is very attractive but what if it wasn’t just that? And so I thought that maybe it was the ATA gene trying to make us get together to preserve the gene ... you know ... how else would it still be around almost 10,000 years after the ancients ascended?” My words ground to a halt and I wondered if I could possibly be any more embarrassed.

Dr Beckett was silent as he tried to sort through the jumble of what I’d just told him.

“Because if that’s the case I thought maybe you could turn it off somehow because I really don’t want to go on like this!” I continued without waiting for his response, feeling on the very edge of tears.

“Oh lass,” he said gently. “I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time of it right now.” He put a hand on my shoulder in an attempt to comfort me – I was so miserable I hardly even noticed the usual jolt I got from his touch. “There’s really no evidence to suggest the ancient gene does anything like you’re describing,” he began.

“Well, maybe it’s the ancient gene plus those other ones,” I said, unwilling to hear that there was no connection between the genes and the way I’d been feeling.

“Have you felt anything similar with anyone else here who has the gene? Dr Beckett asked gently.

“Well you know,” I hedged, getting embarrassed again. “Not as strong as Major Sheppard but I do get a jolt when people who have the gene naturally touch me.”

“You never said anything,” Dr Beckett scolded me.

“I didn’t make the connection at first because there aren’t that many people here who already had the gene. I just thought it was because you and the Major were just really good looking.” I tried to make a joke and was relieved when Dr Beckett chuckled. “After a few weeks I just avoided touching anyone so it wasn’t an issue and I pretty much forgot about it.”

“Well I can run some tests if you feel that strongly about it but I’m not sure what I’ll find,” Dr Beckett suggested. “Even if I could, I wouldn’t advise turning off any genes because I don’t know what the effect of that would be.”

“Oh,” I was disappointed that it wouldn’t be that easy. “Okay then, well thanks for listening,” I was very eager to leave Dr Beckett’s office right about then.

“You know Sabina,” I paused to hear what he was going to say. “When two people love each other sexual intimacy can be as intense as you’ve described.”

“John doesn’t love me,” I said in a quiet, sure voice.

“But you love him,” Dr Beckett said it like there was no room for denial.

“Let me know if you find out anything,” I requested in a trembling voice before I bolted out the door.


Chapter 18: Everything you need is in the room


We found Elizabeth - not our Dr Weir but an Elizabeth who had gone back 10,000 years and then travelled forward to ensure that Atlantis wouldn’t fall to the sea. I was staggered by that kind of sacrifice and wondered if there was any chance that I’d get to talk to her myself.

It had been a couple of weeks since I’d talked to Dr Beckett and things had settled as much as I expected them to. Major Sheppard and I had reached a truce of sorts once he’d accepted that while I was no longer avoiding him I had no intention of reforming our previous relationship. I greeted him as I had when we were just friends while refusing to talk more about the Chaya incident whenever he tried to bring it up. He gave the appearance of having given up on us as a couple – it was what I had wanted but knowing that he had done so only made me that much sadder.

I was still not sleeping well ... troubled within myself as though an essential part of me was missing. Surely I had not gotten that used to having John around that I could no longer sleep without his presence?

When I did get to sleep strange dreams plagued me – in some I was surrounded by ancient symbols I couldn’t understand and in others I was walking down the corridors of Atlantis searching for something.

Still, the extra time to study had ensured that I was now able to read most of what was on the palm pad. Read it but not exactly understand it. From what I could tell it was talking about a special room located somewhere within the bowels of Atlantis that was only operated by just a handful of the original ancients. This was where those ‘mutant’ genes I had asked to find out about came in.

The technology in the special room, much like that in the rest of Atlantis, had been designed to ensure that it couldn’t be operated if Atlantis fell into the hands of an enemy. I couldn’t understand what the room had been designed to do though – ‘send forth the repelling breath upon the enemy and bring healing to the galaxy’ was as close as I could get to a translation. I had the sense that the room was dangerous, more so than other ancient machines we’d found reference too, which is perhaps why only a small subset of the ancients were able to operate it. I’m not sure if they engineered the extra “ancient” genes or if they took advantage of an evolutionary difference that was already there.

I really wanted to talk to 10,000 year old Elizabeth so I could ask her myself. Imagine my excitement when Dr Beckett called me to tell me ancient Elizabeth had asked for me.

“Elizabeth?” I asked softly, walking quietly towards her bed.

She had looked to be sleeping but at my approach she opened her eyes and smiled in recognition.

“Sabina?” her voice was that of an old lady but at the same time held hints of the Elizabeth I knew.

“Dr Beckett said you wanted to see me,” I queried.

“Yes child,” she held out a wrinkled hand to draw me nearer.

I sat beside her bed as she began to speak. She told me that I’d been there that first time Atlantis fell and that although she hadn’t known me well, events had happened during her time with the Ancients that had made her realise how important I would be to the Atlantis mission. I was about to question her further but was shocked into silence by her next question.

“Have you found the room yet?” She asked.

“No, I only just succeeded in translating most of the text,” I admitted, knowing immediately what she was talking about and looking around to make sure no one could overhear us.

“You must hurry,” she urged me. “10,000 years ago the ancients were reluctant to make use of the weapon once it was completed. They thought they had time to come up with another solution but they didn’t protect the only ones who could use it until their very numbers were threatened. They let things get too far until the Wraith inhabited every corner of this galaxy. Believing they could find a solution if they had time they retreated to Earth, taking the last of those special ones with them.”

“And never got the chance to come back,” I commented softly.

“Yes. Janus believed that the time would come when we would return to Atlantis and make use of the weapon. He researched the problem until the very last moment when he was forced to abandon his work – his notes are on that palm pad you discovered. Rodney should be able to make use of Janus’s research but it falls to you to learn how to operate the weapon itself. Everything you need is in the room with the weapon.”

“But where is this room, Elizabeth?” I asked hurriedly.

“The city itself will show you when you are ready Sabina,” Elizabeth’s eyes drifted closed and I knew she had fallen into sleep.

I sat there for some time thinking about what she had said, until Dr Beckett returned and urged me to get some sleep. I don’t know why I chose not to confide in anyone – at the very least Dr McKay could have helped me decipher the more technical aspects of what was on the palm pad. I just felt that this was my mission here on Atlantis – this was the reason why I had ended up here against all the odds. It was for me to solve the puzzle, and I didn’t want that taken away by people who were no doubt more qualified than me. It was selfish and I would probably regret it later, but just this once I didn’t want to be the dummy who was brought in at the last minute to put my hand on something without being required to understand why I was doing it.

Ancient Elizabeth completed her story and not too long after slipped into her final sleep. I don’t know how our Dr Weir felt about that - I was saddened at her passing but happy that she had gotten to see that the sacrifice of her entire life had not been in vain.

On to Part Two