But right, enough on that. More glee, more darkness, more mayhem. Sort of. I swear, I'll be getting back and answering all comments this week, I'm just--not doing too great at it right now.
Warnings: Please see this entry for series warnings.
John doesn't waste time on dramatics--three minutes on the dot, the gateroom is introduced to the sound of something blowing up, a rain of gunfire, and John Sheppard drawling, "Miss me?"
Rodney breathes out and catches Elizabeth doing the same thing. It's weirdly comforting. "Not really. Please tell me you're actually getting work done, not blowing up things for fun."
"I live for my work." There's a pause, and Rodney thinks he hears Bates in the distance. "Right, go for it, but don't do anything stupid. Drop the forcefields, Rodney."
"All at once?" But Rodney's already pulling up the screens. "Or
John seems to take a few seconds to think and commit homicide before answering, if the sound of a P-90 is anything to go by. "All of them. One third staff terminated during the initial explosion. A breakout should take care of the rest of them." Even from here, Rodney can see his head shake. "Stupid. No defensive measures in the administrative residential area at all. I could have walked in with a pipe bomb. Rodney, anything on internal sensors?"
Rodney pulls up the interface, taking a quick survey. "Not really. Unless you count people moving en masse toward the outside doors."
"Cool." John pauses at another round of fire. "Have you got all the computer stuff you need? Bates is setting the C4 on the mainframes."
Rodney glances at Elizabeth, who's already nodding. "We're good. Go for it."
There's a brief silence livened only by gunfire, and Rodney weirdly wishes he were there with them. And that's just crazy. "All right," Sheppard tells someone. "Everyone back."
The explosion is loud enough to knock both him and Weir back in their chairs, and Rodney grabs for the earpiece, massaging the skin at the back of his ear where he still thinks he can feel the vibrations. "What the hell, Sheppard?"
From somewhere distant--probably the result of permanent damage to his
eardrums--Rodney hears, "Cool." Then, "Hey, you Kavanagh? No? Too bad."
Turning his head, Rodney sees Elizabeth shake her head ruefully, but she's smiling. "John," she says, "don't eliminate the other prisoners if you can avoid it. We may need their skills." Or other things, she doesn't say, but she watched Carson going off to the infirmary. And it's not like a lot of the guards survived John and Bates.
"I'm not," John says, sounding aggrieved. "I'm sending them outside to wait. Hey, Block C--and let me say, these are the worst guards I've ever seen in my life--"
"And how many prisons have you been in?" Rodney asks, thinking that soon, he should think of pulling up John's file.
"Eight, if you don't include the Asgard brigs." John pauses. "Now they understood security."
"You still got out." Faintly, Rodney remembers hearing about that on the news, but at the time, he'd been a little busy in court.
"Anyone but me wouldn't have." Because John can kill easily and fly anything that could get in the air. Rodney still wonders what John did with that Asgard cruiser. It's not like that's a subtle machine to have lying around. "Okay, we're wrapping this up. I'm getting bored." John sighs, sounding faintly disappointed, and Rodney hears the sound of many feet running, fairly close, followed by gunfire. The lack of screaming tells Rodney this must be Bates' idea of incentive for them to move quickly. "Their systems are toast, if there are guards left there won't be much longer, and I'm starving. I say let them fight this out and we'll check out whose left. Rodney, Liz, I need a list of your people--"
"All of M," Elizabeth says steadily, hands clasped in her lap, eyes shining.
"Gaul," Rodney says, searching his memory for the name. "Simpson, Kavanagh, some other people--Simpson knows, she'll tell you who else to bring back. You'll need another jumper--"
"I can take forty," John says over the sound of Bates yelling orders, "the way I'll be carrying them. Liz, what, twenty of yours, hey, Lorne!" Another burst of gunfire. The noise becoming enough to give Rodney a headache. "All right. Packing everyone up for home. They'll be
unconscious, so have someone down there with the sedatives and get some cells opened up. I'm not risking them out and about until we have population control ready. You up for some fast and dirty inventing, McKay?"
Rodney snorts, leaning back in his chair. "Please. Give me an actual challenge." He pauses to listen to John rounding up his people. "How long?"
Someone who is definitely not Bates says something about weapons, which John replies to with a grunt and, "Sure. Why not?" Another pause, longer this time. "All right, should be finished in about two hours," John says.
"We'll do a quick sweep for supplies and weapons. Anything in their
inventories you just have to have?"
Rodney thinks about it, then pulls up the manifests. "Bring all the computers that aren't damaged. Clothes, staples, you get the idea. Any Ancient tech--that means, anything that makes pretty lights when you go near it." Rodney smirks at John's snort. "Anything that looks
"And come by Lab A when you get back. We'll look at some options while Elizabeth does orientation for the new arrivals. And the ones still locked up for that matter."
Elizabeth gives him a sideways glance but nods affirmation. "Good job, John. Bring them home."
"Yes, ma'am," John says jauntily. Rodney can almost see him salute. "See you later."
When John signs off, Elizabeth straightens, shaking her head. "That was--faster than I expected."
Rodney watches her smooth down the front of the prison uniform, mouth pursing as she hits a patch of dried blood, picking at the loose waist with a frown. "Hoped it would be harder?"
The dark eyes fix on him, one eyebrow arching. "I'm not stupid, Dr. McKay," Elizabeth says steadily. "I can't run this place alone."
"Maybe you can with your people from the mainland." Though he doubts it. Elizabeth tended to attract religious zealots, failed sociologists, South American guerrillas without a leader, and terrorists in need of a cause. Getting competent security had always been a problem of hers. "I'm monitoring all computer activity until they're back."
"And if you know my file--which I presume at some point, you have
read--you know I don't have a background in Ancient tech. Relax, Rodney. At least give me the benefit of the doubt until I have people here." With a quick, charming smile, she moves off, dusting her hands against her pants, nose wrinkling as she rubs her palms together. "Where are supplies? I need to change."
"Near the mess," Rodney says, glancing at his laptop and tapping a few keys. "Or try quarters. All the doors should be open."
"Thanks." With another smile, she heads to Sumner's former office.
Beside him, Grodin tenses. "I don't trust her."
"Never trust the soft sciences or a beautiful woman who can speak
Goa'uld," Rodney says sharply. "Monitor her, tell me where she goes, what she does, and how she does it. I'll be in my lab. Anything goes wrong and you fuck up, we'll test out the gate's power levels on you first." Standing up, Rodney unplugs the laptop. "Radio me when Sheppard's back in the city."
"Aye aye, sir."
Rodney can't help the smirk as he turns away. "I knew I kept you alive for a reason."
John reports as ordered, still spotted with blood and black-streaked from the fires, grinning from ear to ear as he hops onto the lab table, thrumming with energy. He makes Rodney tired just looking at him. "Whatcha got?"
Christ, is he never not attractive? "You didn't shower," Rodney hears himself say, reaching out despite himself to rest a hand on one dirty knee.
"Did you want me to?" John's smile widens, then he reaches across, tapping Rodney's screen. "You have something."
"Kind of." Pulling his attention from John, Rodney frowns. "It's a little crude, but I can make something better when we've got things under control. This," he says, pointing at the screen, "is the program the Ancients used for interface with the computer. It reads intent--in a very, very general way. Luckily, this variation doesn't require the gene.
But this part--" Rodney points to his own quickly added code, "is a
little different. It has a direct link to the brain and sends very specific signals to certain sections."
John's eyes light up a little as he reads it. "If I'm reading this right, you plugged into the pleasure and pain centers."
"Set to certain unpleasant intentions, and a manual control and override," Rodney says, enjoying John's pleasure. It's always nice to be
appreciated. "It can be individual, group--I'm going to need Carson to double check and help design the actual delivery method and the best place for implantation. Once it's in, in the best of all worlds, it should fuse to the spinal column. Not easy to remove."
John's eyes widen. "Wow."
Rodney crosses his arms, feeling smug. "What you were looking for, hotshot?"
"Pretty much read my mind." With another grin, John slides off the lab counter. "Everyone's tucked into a cell nice and tidy, and last I saw, Elizabeth was telling them how they're part of a grand new adventure or something." Scratching the back of his head, John frowns as blood flakes off. "She's good."
"That she is." Finishing up, Rodney saves and closes the laptop. "Grodin's watching her."
"So's Lorne." John's eyes flicker over him. "You're frowning."
"Lorne's not with the others? You trust him that much?"
John raises an eyebrow. "Guess who sold an Asgard cruiser on the black market?" Rodney feels his mouth tighten. "Right. Bates is with him, and yes, I trust them both that much. If I didn't, I wouldn't have gotten him out."
Rodney stares until John sighs, rubbing his neck. "If they so much as twitch the wrong direction, I'll shoot them myself, okay? Now. We have a little time while the new people are locked up and briefed on the
situation. Let's get some sleep before Elizabeth wants to start a crusade or something."
Rodney frowns but lets it go, making a mental note to get Grodin to watch Lorne as well. "But the lab--" God, all around him. The computers are *fast* and he hasn't even scratched the surface of the databases.
"And food," John says, a hand sliding under his elbow and pulling him unresistingly toward the door. "We don't have kitchen staff anymore--and hey, we should do something about that--but there should be whatever was left from breakfast. And the supply rooms." The doors open for John with a liquid slide, and Rodney tries hard not to envy him the ease of use. "And I need a shower," John says, frowning down at his shirt. Rodney brushes his fingers across the front, feeling the stiffness of the material. "Seriously."
They go back to the room they'd originally appropriated, and Rodney sets himself to methodically searching it for anything interesting. A laptop, some photos, a hidden cache of candy, an impersonal room, but then, guards didn't stay here long. Stripping the sheets and blankets, Rodney finds clean linens and remakes the bed, then tosses a pile of unearthed clothes at the foot for John to go through. He seems attracted to the monochrome look.
Pilling the discards in the corner, Rodney sits down with peanut butter cups and a considerably improved frame of mind after a quick chat with Grodin, listening for the shower to turn off. John comes out wrapped in a towel, and free of dirt, Rodney can see the exhaustion coating him like a second skin. Drying his hair, John surveys the pile of clothes with disfavor. "Ford's started hyperventilating. I should think about feeding him."
"He can wait." Sitting back on the bed, Rodney watches John dress, approving of the lack of underwear. "Hurry."
"Anything from Cadman about Carson? Speaking in full sentences yet?"
Rodney thinks of the two missing guards from where John had the few survivors stashed. "He's probably fine." John snickers softly as he sits down to pull on his boots, so Rodney guesses he must know, too. "Done? Food? You mentioned it? I'm holding you to it."
"Got it." Grabbing his holster, John straps it on, and Rodney takes a few seconds to watch John arm himself like someone about to engage in single combat with a battalion. "I'm thinking we need to--hmm." John stops thoughtfully, head tilting as he looks at Rodney.
"What?" Standing up, Rodney palms the door open, hoping John will follow.
Suddenly, food seems like the most appealing thing in the world.
"Just hmm." John follows him, though, eyes flickering down both sides of the hallway. "The SGC on Athos. They check in here pretty regularly."
Rodney stops, catching John's wrist. "How do you know that?"
"About once a week," John continues, eyebrows raised as he tilts his head.
Oh. That's how. "They checked in at night?"
"Athos evening, something with the regular gate cycles." John pulls gently, and Rodney starts moving. "So should be today or tomorrow sometime. You break Sumner's files yet?"
And no, they haven't, and Rodney can't even fairly blame it on Grodin, though he thinks he might anyway. "Not yet. We have access to the computer core, but not the command codes, either. I've disabled all the SGC protocols I can find, but that doesn't mean they didn't leave a nasty surprise somewhere. Do they actually--is it communication or visit?"
John shrugs. "He leaves, but that doesn't mean much. It never took long, so probably databurst for a report to Earth." Turning the corner, John eyes a vaguely familiar man hurrying by them with a wary expression, shoulders hunched, like if he moves fast enough and small enough, they won't notice him. Rodney makes a mental note to find out who he is, locking the face in his memory. "Hmm. Actually, there was more than one last week," John continues, steering them down another corridor. How the hell John is finding his way is anyone's guess--Rodney's got the route between the gateroom, his new lab, and their quarters and hasn't tried deviating yet. The abject humiliation of having to call Grodin to help him find his way around Atlantis tends to defeat his curiosity.
"More than one?" Something on Earth, maybe. As they turn into the wide mess hall doors, Rodney takes a second to appreciate the huge windows and wide open spaces, stepping over a body and ignoring the smell of spoiling food. Keying his radio, Rodney follows John into the kitchen. "Grodin? Sumner's files. I want everything he has, and find all transmissions between here and earth and here and Athos. Something could be going on, and I'd kind of like to know before it shows up and screws us."
"Yes, sir," Grodin says, not sounding mocking at all, but Rodney bets he's rolling his eyes. "I need another tech up here--"
"Get--God. I don't know. Probably lost by now. That little Asian girl--get her up to help."
"What's her name?" John says, touching his own radio. Rodney's
blank--she worked in his lab, but damned if he knows much more than that.
"Miko," Grodin says, and Rodney passes it on. "Miko."
"Bates? Do a floor to floor, little Asian girl, Miko, get her to the gateroom to help Grodin."
Keying his radio off, John sighs, looking around at the food--*God*, real food, not the crap they've been serving them the last month. "The bastards were holding out on us," John says, and grins. "Come on. I want to sleep before Elizabeth decides she wants a holy war."
John gets about two hours, mostly due to Rodney taking his radio and hiding it as soon as he drifts off, one arm slung across Rodney's waist, head buried against his shoulder. If there's an emergency, and only if there's an emergency, Grodin will call, and Rodney's not sure if Bates or this Lorne knows the difference.
"Anything with Elizabeth?" Rodney whispers, but John pretty much sleeps like a brick when Rodney's there, so there's not much chance he'll wake up to his voice.
"Still talking. Glorious age, bright future, she's been at it for hours." Grodin sighs. "There were references to revered Ancestors, but that could be for Teyla's benefit. Miko's taken over decryption--she's better at it than I am."
Hmm. Possibly true. "She make any progress?"
"Short databursts, she says. Something about potential communication blackout, but without context…" Grodin trails off and Rodney nods, feeling John shift against him, nuzzling sleepily before drifting off again.
"Right. Keep me informed what she comes up with. Athos is calling in the next two days and I'd like to be ready for them." Carding his fingers through John's hair, Rodney thinks of his lab, but he can't quite find the motivation to get up just yet.
"Will do." Communications cut, Rodney closes his eyes, drifting off to the sound of John's slow, even breathing, the warmth of his body, and the fact that environmentals are back at normal and they don't live in a meat locker anymore.
They open again at the sound of a pounding at the door.
"What the--" Sitting up, Rodney shifts John over, mumbling unhappily, and grabs his pants, jerking them on as he goes to the door. Palming it open, he comes face to face with a man he doesn't recognize but guesses maybe he should. From the startled look on his face, and the way he cranes his neck to look over Rodney's shoulder, Rodney's going to go out on a limb and guess this is Lorne.
"I'm looking for Sheppard," Lorne says, about to push by. Setting himself in the door, Rodney pushes him back.
"And that would be a no, he's sleeping," he says, "and what the hell is--"
A fist wound in the top of his shirt stops the flow of words, pushing him up against the wall, and Rodney has just enough time to think, bad idea, before the sound of a gun cocking cuts through the room like a bullet.
Lorne drops him like a sack of potatoes. Rodney catches himself on a knee and a hand, rubbing his throat and looking up to see John sitting up, perfectly awake, a gun pointed at Lorne's head with very, very little chance of missing.
"Step back." Lorne takes a slow step back, arms out, no sudden moves here, and Rodney pushes himself up, shaking his head a little. John's eyes flicker over him briefly before fixing on Lorne again. "You okay, Rodney?"
Rodney takes a few seconds to think about it, wondering if John will shoot if he says no. From the look on his face, there's a very good chance he will.
It's tempting. But. "Fine. Though if your friends are going to visit, maybe they could, I don't know, *learn some manners*--"
"We're going to have a talk about that," John says pleasantly, and even from the wall, Rodney can see his finger pressing on the trigger. A twitch and Lorne will be a dead man. "Wait outside, Lorne."
Lorne takes another step back, eyes never leaving the gun, and the door closes with a satisfying slap of Rodney's palm. "So, that's Lorne?"
John sighs, uncocking the gun and lowering it to the bed. "Lorne. You sure you're okay?" Crawling out of bed, John walks over, thumbs pressing beneath Rodney's jaw, tilting his head up, peering at his throat for a few seconds before gentle fingers trace the sides of his neck. "You seem okay. What did he want?"
"Didn't tell me," Rodney huffs, but he leans into the touch anyway. "I'm going to like him, huh?"
"When I get done with him, you will like him a lot," John says with a smile, brushing a quick kiss against Rodney's mouth. "Or you won't see him again." Stepping back, John dresses quickly, frowning as he searches for his radio. "McKay--"
"In the bedside drawer."
"Right." Taking it out, John shakes his head. "Okay, I'm going to go chat with Lorne and see if Elizabeth's still having a religious
experience. You need anything?"
"Athos should check in soon, so I'm going to the gateroom. If it's just communications, we should be good. If they want to visit--"
"We'll let Teyla have them." With a brush of fingers against his shoulder, John backs toward the door. "Tell me when they call in. I want to hear it." With another smile, John goes out, and Rodney gets a satisfying glimpse of Lorne's pale face before the door shuts between them.
Sitting down, he picks up his shoes and keys his radio. "Grodin, I'm coming up. Have everything Miko's done ready for review. Also, thought. When I said, keep an eye on Lorne, what did you think that meant? Not telling me when he appeared at my door?"
Grodin's quiet for a long second. "Dr. McKay--"
"You're fucking lucky I don't have anyone else right now. That will change. McKay out."