Following Entanglement Theory, because seriously, this totally had to happen at some point.
Entanglement Theory II
by jenn seperis
The real problem, Rodney thinks, staring in blank disbelief at the webcam, is that they forgot the Milky Way is way more fucked up than Pegasus could ever be.
Case in point.
"You *lost him*?" Rodney says, because repetition seems the most obvious way for someone (Carter) to stop and correct his assumption based on the fact that she just said they lost Sheppard on a pastoral planet of friendly natives with a healthy Ancient-worshipping religion and oh my God, did no one read the first year mission reports before letting Sheppard step foot on rural, religious planets?
Strangely, though, she doesn’t correct him.
"McKay--" Carter starts with the soothing tones of a woman who realizes what she just said really doesn't sound any less stupid no matter how it's phrased. "Reports were regular up until yesterday--"
"When the evil unAscended bimbo intergalactic league got word the easiest boy in the Pegasus galaxy got a new address?" And maybe that's out of line--Rodney's got a working theory that Chaya used evil mind control and the power of amazing Ascended kinky sex rituals to make Sheppard act like a *total fucking moron*--but on the other hand, *missing lieutenant colonel*. "Have you sent Marines?"
Sam sighs. "Rodney--"
"To kill everyone?" Rodney's hand goes to his earpiece before he remembers that he's on earth and everyone here uses stupid cellphones with sucky range and horrifying ring tones--one more repetition of Some Like It Hot and he's blowing up the nearest cellular tower he can find. "Tell me there are marines using unspeakable interrogation techniques on everyone they can see *right now*."
Sam pauses, eyebrows screwed up in an unhappy frown. "There is a team on location trying to trace where Sheppard's team went after they left the temple--"
Oh my God, Rodney thinks in horror, an actual *temple*!
"But so far, they've been unsuccessful, as the priestess--"
Priestess! Rodney thinks hysterically.
"--believes they are currently seeking spiritual enlightenment--"
"Code for *Ascended sexual assault*!" Rodney breaks in. Then. "It's been a day? You waited a *day* to call me? If I may, what the *fuck*? What did Elizabeth say? Is Carson--" The look on Sam's face stops him short, frown smoothing into something worried and a little sad.
"Rodney," Sam says slowly, "I called you. As his friend." She pauses, licking her lips nervously. "This isn't--official."
Because Elizabeth's no longer his boss, Rodney's not a teammate, and Carson's just this SGC doctor whose been growing things on Petri dishes and pretending that he never ran his own department.
Sitting hard on his stool, Rodney swallows hard. "Sam."
"I'll keep you updated," Sam says carefully, then her voice goes light and easy and so utterly transparently forced that he wonders why she's even bothering. "It's only been a day, Rodney. For all we know, they got lost on their way back to the gate."
Rodney stares at her until she looks away. "It's been too long if it's been an *hour*," he says, and hears his voice breaking a little before he can stop it. "Sam. Please--"
"I'll keep you informed, I promise," she says gently, and Rodney makes himself nod, because Ford was a long time ago but Kolya wasn't, and she'll never understand, not in a way that will make any difference at all. "It'll be okay, Rodney."
"Right," he says, and cuts off the cam.
The way they tell the story, Rodney thinks, feverishly pouring over the forwarded mission reports, Sheppard up and defected to become a religious leader while halfway between negotiating for something or other that Rodney can't pronounce and doesn't care to and offers of food and drink, without warning.
Rodney dials his cellphone one handed while on page two of Lieutenant Perky's strangely vivid description of the exact color of Sheppard's eyes as he declared himself born of the sun gods and the way his hair rippled in the wind. Which is such bullshit that Rodney hurts inside, since Sheppard's gel stands up to hurricane force winds with his new unrestricted access to salons and Bed Head hair care products.
"Did Perky learn to write mission reports via the Danielle Steele school of narrative form?" Rodney says when Sam finally picks up.
"Perky?" she says, like that's the *important* part of the conversation. Rodney grits his teeth and reminds himself that he hasn't yet perfected the art of killing people with his mind. He's close, though, if the throbbing red haze that coats his line of sight is anything to go by.
"The. Report. Of. Amber. Eyes. Like. Nuggets. Of. Gold." Rodney grits out.
"Oh." She pauses. "Rodney? How did you get those reports?"
There are so many things wrong with that particular question that Rodney can't be bothered to answer. "What's going on there? Is there a crack team of black ops Marines currently closing on his position to rescue him?"
Sam makes a sound like someone who swallowed something wrong. "Rodney, we're still investigating what happened. All of his team claims he went willingly and seemed in no way altered--"
"Other than declaring himself a deity. That's normal. Please tell me this is some kind of obscure military code for yes, black ops is on the case and tracking him down with P-90s and tranquilizer darts. Sam." That break again, and Rodney clears his throat. "Sam. What are they doing?"
"They're working on it," Sam says, and she sounds so sure, so right, that Rodney wants to believe her more than he's ever wanted anything. "They'll get him back. We'll get him back. We just need some time."
Rodney closes his eyes. "Okay."
It's one of the sadder moments in Rodney's life, that a closet blowjob--and so unbearably, humiliatingly appropriate that it's in a closet that he lacks the words to explain the irony of this entire situation--clarifies what's been circling in his mind like a tweaking rodent for three long, silent days. Where orgasm and enlightenment go hand in hand in a dramatic moment of revelation that ends with Rodney jerking his pants up and tripping over God So Not Straight Jesus This Can Only Lead to Some Sort of Hate Crime lab assistant, falling into a hallway, flagrantly ignoring his wide-eyed colleagues while buttoning up his jeans and trying to remember that only weeks ago, he could run a mile in under seven minutes.
From the tightness in his chest--and his jeans--he needs to consider exercising more often.
"Carson, pick up," Rodney says, tapping frantically into the laptop, staring at SGC's best security, hybridized programming that's as effective as a wet paper bag when he's in the middle of a post-orgasmic moment of pure inspired genius. "Pick up pick up pick up--"
"Rodney?" Carson answers, sounding a little breathless. "Lad! What are you--"
"Our files," Rodney says, and Carson says, "What?" And Rodney thinks that he may need to divert some time on working on his ability to Make People Understand Him On a Psychic Level very soon now. It will take time from Killing With Mind, but he'll make the sacrifice if it can lead to less mind-bogglingly stupid questions.
"Our files--our next of kin, emergency contact, that bullshit we had to do when you threw that tantrum about a living will--"
"It was not a tantrum, Rodney--"
"Jesus Christ, are you listening? Did Sheppard update his?"
Carson pauses. "Rodney--"
"Look and tell me if he changed it since we signed it," Rodney says, and Carson sighs, put upon, dramatically tapping on keys so slowly that Rodney pulls up Amazon and looks up Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, beginner edition, and has it on-route to Colorado before Carson finally sighs and says, "No, not since we returned. I reminded him last week--"
"Send me a copy of it."
Carson's fingers stop. "Rodney--"
"Thanks, Carson," Rodney says, and hangs up, adding Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, intermediate, because honestly, Carson's supposed to be smart, and he should know this stuff already.
Ten minutes later, his email pings, and Rodney opens a new message and attaches the file, closing his eyes as he hits send, and wonders if Sam knows a declaration of intent when she sees it.
Rodney learned to sleep in grad school, random couches in various lounges, the bathroom, sitting on a stool, knocked out on the floor, sleep hard and fast and dreamless, waking like a lightswitch turned on. Pegasus hadn't changed that, and Area 51 can't either, not the way he learned to wake up reaching for his sidearm and his scanner if it's his left shoulder touched or lay still if it's his right.
Rolling off the couch, he hits the floor so hard he can see stars, hand wrapped around his remote control pointed at the door. It should say something, that it pisses him off more that he shoved his remote control in front of his gun beneath the sofa cushion rather than the fact that in his peaceful Nevada apartment, the first thing he thought of was his gun.
Dropping it, he pulls out his gun and shoves it down the back of his sweats. When he opens the door, Sam stares at him with dark, unhappy eyes. Behind her, two marines look on in stoic disapproval, so standard and faceless and forgettable that he can barely care.
He remembers marines who stood between him and death and smiled at him afterward with affectionate disdain, who guarded his life and his lunch and his laptop against all enemies, played poker and gin rummy and taught him how to cheat at five card stud, and suddenly, he can't stand this one more second. "We all signed them," he says, and Sam stares at him, than sighs, motioning behind her before pushing by him.
He shuts the door in the face of the marines. They're not his and they'll never be anything close. "He's no longer able to make his own decisions, obviously."
"It's been three days. If you could find him, you'd have him."
Sam sits on the arm of the couch, tracking him with wary eyes. "If he was in medical custody--"
"Medical can make the call from the evidence in those reports. He wasn't even speaking fucking *English*, and Sheppard has a lot of talents, but an instant understanding of spoken Ancient is not and will never be one of them." Rodney watches her eyes dart to his back as he turns away, widening at the holster of the gun he took from the armory at work. "He's altered and he's no longer able to make his own decisions. I'm the only one in this galaxy who has the right to speak for him. Sam--"
"Rodney, you can't think you can do anything from the control room at the SGC. I get wanting to be there--I *get that*," she says, standing up, and he knows she does. She does. And that makes it all the more unforgivable that she's standing there, the words pouring out of her mouth. "I do. We will find him--"
"You don't *know* him," Rodney says, and the look of pitying understanding is the last straw, camels, backs, deserts, Atlantis. "I want to go after him," he says, when he'd meant to say, please let me come back.
She stares at him blankly. "To the--you want to go to the *planet*?"
Rodney nods jerkily.
"Rodney, you're not on any offworld teams--"
"And whose fault is that?" Rodney shoots back, before he can catch himself, and Sam hears the bitterness he never meant to reveal; he can read it on her face, the sweep of startlement and confusion, chased with blank dismay.
"Rodney," she says softly, standing up. "The offer was made--"
"Heading up Area 51 or a tertiary scientific gate team with a limited field of research and half a fucking lab," Rodney says, biting out each word. "Secondary contact, research only, pending SGC approval. Oh still my beating heart. Sorry I didn't leap all over *that* shit."
He prays she won't say what they said. What they implied. What amused glances and shaking heads and offers of more money than even he had imagined, heading up his own lab with the budget of a small, nuclear-capable country, and the words *invaluable* and *risk assessment* and *we need you here*.
The utter humiliation of knowing that three years meant so little, that they thought that this would be all he could ever want. And it's not even their fault; he hadn't known either. "Rodney, it wasn't an insult to you," but even she knows better than that, stopping with a shake of the head. "Look, I--"
"It should have been me there," Rodney breathes, and he's *shaking* with it, weeks of hopeless, helpless frustration, labs and worshipful sycophants and Sheppard a thousand miles away and getting further with every passing hour and every stuttered call. Elizabeth not answering the phone. Carson quieter and less sure with every day, *less*. "I want to go after him, Sam. I know him. I can find him."
The blue eyes go unfocused briefly, turning inside herself, and they're standing feet apart in a gateroom more years ago than he can count, their first meeting and their first fight, and then he hadn't known, hadn't understood what it meant to lose a team member, lose a friend, family, all of the words that have narrowed to a single group of people that flash neon on his mind, all that's left of the city he misses like he misses air.
But now he knows, and so does she. Sam hesitates, then nods slowly. "I can't promise anything--"
"I'm already packed," he says, and it's like he can breathe again after being underwater for years, rich and heady and he's almost sick with the relief. Sam's mouth crooks in a sad smile. "Give me five minutes."
ETA: I'm running corrections on my spelling as we *speak*. I suppose it sounds insane to say I forgot, but I totally did. God.
ALSO: Part 2