Sentinels of Atlantis: Dean Bates & Graham Simmons ~ Art by FanArts Series
Title: The Sentinel
Author: Keira Marcos
Series title: The Sentinels of Atlantis
Series Order: 13
Fandom: Sentinel/Stargate Fusion
Rating: NC-17 (lots of Male/Male sex, violence, adult language & situations)
Pairings: McKay/Sheppard, Grodin/Tyre, Bates/Simmons
Warnings: No beta, Adult themes, extreme violence, and sexual situations.
Summary: Bates comes online during a hostage situation off-world, Tyre and Peter take some time to themselves on the mainland, and John has an unexpected visitor.
– – – –
Dean Bates sat down on his footlocker in the large room the entire city used for mission prep. The men under him in the company had taken his potential change of status better than he’d suspected they would but then John Sheppard had worked hard to make sure he didn’t bring any assholes on the expedition. His Sentinel gifts were hovering on the edge of his mind. Graham had come online in his sleep over a week ago. Dean hadn’t been able to do anything but hold his Guide and talk him through the construction of his primary shield. It had rankled but he’d had no choice but to allow Sheppard and McKay to come to his quarters to help Graham.
It had been relieving, however, that they’d included him as much as possible in the process and never made him feel like he wasn’t enough to help Graham through the event. Now, sixteen days later, he felt close and Simmons had evened out beautifully. He’d added his Guide to his gate team shortly after he came online because Bates couldn’t fathom leaving him on the city when he left it. The other guys had accepted the engineer with a lot of good grace and a few leering grins that Bates had nipped quickly.
The other men around him in the barracks had smirked at him a few times and but none of them had made his life or his job difficult when it had been announced. He’d discover that his affair with Graham had never been much of a secret.
Dean glanced up from the check he was doing on Graham’s 9mm. The scientist was late for pre-mission briefing but that wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. “What’s up, Franklin?”
Franklin flushed. “You were staring at the gun pretty hard—I just thought you might have zoned…” He trailed off and shrugged.
Dean shook his head. “No, not yet.” He waved a hand in the air around on him. “I’m close.” He glanced up as Graham came into the room pulling his shirt over his head. “You’re late, again.”
“Yeah, but I’m really attractive so I’m forgiven for my little issues with time management,” Graham offered cheerfully as he went to his locker and opened it up.
“Is that what you really think?” Bates asked with a raised eyebrow. “The Air Force ruined you.”
“We could take a vote,” Graham offered him a smirk as he shoved off his shoes and shimmied out of the science uniform pants without another word.
“Not a single one of these bastards would say you were attractive,” Bates responded and leaned back on his locker. “They all like living.” He looked over his Guide with undisguised interest. The fitted boxers the scientist still wore did nothing to hide what he had to offer and he found himself a little irritated with the display. One swift glance around the room made him relax. The other four marines on his team were studiously looking anywhere but at Simmons.
Graham laughed softly and quickly dressed. “Besides, you plan for my inability to be on time. This is why you save forty-five minutes for pre-mission brief while everyone else only does thirty.”
“You’re predictable,” Dean allowed and watched as Graham quickly laced up his combat boots and donned a TAC vest. “And can dress quickly.”
Graham smirked. “Well—I did do six years in the Air Force and never once got caught coming out of another guy’s quarters.”
Dean rolled his eyes and the rest of the team snickered. “It’s in your best interest and theirs that you never point out any of those guys.” He paused. “Are there any past partners here?”
Graham shot him an amused look. “Don’t ask, don’t tell, dear one, for your own peace of mind if nothing else.” He frowned and walked over to where Bates was seated. With a sigh, he grasped the sergeant’s chin and tilted his head to the side. “You’re getting a rash. Did you wash this shirt in the Sentinel friendly stuff we got from the Quartermaster?”
“No, I didn’t. Don’t nag.”
“Fine, fine, be stubborn. I do hope you didn’t take the same cavalier attitude with your boxers as you did with the rest of your clothes. I’d hate to see that kind of rash develop elsewhere.”
Dean swallowed back a horrified groan and tried to remember if he’d tossed any of his underwear in that load of laundry he’d done. They had three washers they’d brought from Earth and he’d been using them instead of the Ancient cleaning units. His own ATA gene had activated within a few days of his taking Graham to bed for the first time but he tried to stay away from most of the Ancient equipment on the city.
Simmons laughed softly. “You don’t know, do you?”
“Shut up,” Dean muttered and stood up. “I’m pretty sure I didn’t.”
Graham quirked one eyebrow in disbelief and took the 9mm when his Sentinel offered it. “The closer you get to coming online—the more you have to pay attention to these things.”
“I’m not fragile.”
“No, that’s the last word I use to describe you,” Graham responded evenly and tilted his head with a frown. “Are we about to have a fight in front of the team? I was pretty sure you decided we weren’t going to do that.”
Dean pursed his lips briefly as Graham put on a thigh holster and then accepted the P-90 Franklin offered him wordlessly. He said nothing as Franklin handed Simmons a weapon and then sighed. “Right, I did make that decision. It was a very good decision.”
“It was an excellent decision,” Franklin exclaimed cheerfully. “Cause you know it’s one thing to know that you two are banging it’s a whole other thing to know when one of you is riding the sofa.”
Graham smirked and Dean glared at the younger Marine. “Keep talking, Corporal.”
“It’s one of my better skills, Sergeant Major,” Franklin offered with a grin.
– – – –
PX6-Y43 had been a dream first contact mission as far as the mission reports read. Cadman and Ford had claimed the people eager to trade and happy to have visitors.
Two hours into the mission, he couldn’t disagree with what had been reported. The Penarians were very eager for company and for trade. They had this kind of grain that Teyla had assured the expedition would be good for bread and hot cereals. Dean wasn’t so keen on hot cereals as he sort of hated oatmeal with a passion unmatched in his experience.
Graham had gathered samples of various textiles, minerals, and local vegetation with a lot of goodwill. Dean knew he had a checklist for several departments since they weren’t letting the rest of the geeks go off world much.
Franklin, Givens, Lloyd, and Phillips were taking turns following their geek around while Bates went over the finer points of the trade deal. He’d managed to keep an eye on Graham through most of it so he was aware of the religious leader’s overt interest in the scientist.
There had been several hushed conversations among the clergy in the village but nothing that was remotely threatening had happened so far. Just too friendly people supplying them with food and offering them all manners of drink. Dean didn’t worry that anyone on his team would indulge on a mission but he kept an eye on it just in case.
Graham sat down on the bench beside him and divested himself of his backpack with a smile. “I’ve done everything on my mission list.”
“Good. Dalem has invited us to the afternoon meal and then we’re due back home.”
“Sounds good. The snack I had earlier was excellent.”
– – – –
Dean woke suddenly, his tongue thick and dry in his mouth. He reached out blindly and encountered a body. A warm body—thank God. He turned his head and forced his eyes open. Derrick Phillips had only been the Marines a year when they’d stepped through the gate to Atlantis.
He was a bright kid, impressive as hell in all respects—the higher ups in the Corps had paid special attention to him practically from his first day. Derrick was unconscious but breathing steadily. Dean rolled to his knees and dry-heaved. He pushed hard against the ground and leveled himself upright.
It took three seconds to realize that he was a teammate short. His stomach dropped like a stone in his body, tightening with agony and fury. He shook Phillips roughly but got no response. They’d taken the guns—the peaceful villagers who had been so eager to trade—but they’d left their knives.
Dean thought that was quite a stupid thing to do considering how seriously fucking pissed off he was. He pulled a knife from his own boot and then grabbed the one off Franklin’s leg as he made for the door of the ridiculous little prison. It was surely the flimsiest off-world prison cell he’d ever been put in. The door split under his weight with a satisfying crack.
The guards on the hut turned to look at him in shock. “Where the fuck is my Guide?”
– – – –
Graham had managed to, in his entire career with the SGC, have never once been taken hostage or forced to participate in some weird ass alien ritual until now. His last memory before waking up had been sitting beside Dean at a big meal. He made a mental note to never trust natives who want to feed him ever again.
A wasted mental note if he didn’t survive his very first weird ass alien ritual. Graham pulled on the ropes that had him bound to the altar and then took a deep breath. A brief glance around the stage assured him that his team wasn’t part of the ritual as well.
Mentally, he reached out for his Sentinel and what he found wasn’t soothing at all. Bates was up and moving—hard, vicious, and fully online. The people around Graham—they couldn’t hear the havoc his feral Sentinel was causing in the village. The temple was too far away but Simmons could feel it and it wasn’t pretty.
“There, there—special one—calm yourself. It is nearly time.” Cold fingers brushed his cheek. “Our gods will be most pleased with you. You are special and you have no protector to shield your mind. Those warriors who guard you—none of them value you but we have found a purpose for you.”
“You don’t know that,” Graham whispered, his voice hoarse the emotional pain his Sentinel was unwittingly projecting on him. He turned his head and glared at the priest. “He’s going to kill you last.”
“The warriors you brought with you will sleep for many hours… by the time they wake you will be already be gifted to our gods.”
Those cold fingers trailed down his cheek and then down the center of his chest—reminding him of the nakedness he’d took note of the very second he woke up. Graham reached out for his Sentinel and wrapped his thoughts around the unending wildness that he found in Dean. He nurtured the bloodlust and fury that burned in his lover. Then with one final push, he poured his fear and desperation on top of it.
He regretted it but he had to give Dean a reason to keep fighting—to keep coming toward him. It was the one lesson that McKay had drilled into them. Graham could almost hear McKay in his head—“Center your Sentinel. Guide your Sentinel. Above all things give him something to fight for. Be his partner in life and in war.”
The screams came first—bodies thudding against the stone floor of the temple but he couldn’t turn his head in the direction of the noise. The head priest started screaming and blood sprayed in the air above Graham—hitting his skin like a warm summer rain. Suddenly, Dean was crawling onto the altar and on top of him.
Graham gasped as Bates moved fully on top of him. “Dean.”
“Yes,” Graham whispered. “Yes. You have to untie me, Dean. I’m not safe here. Your Guide isn’t safe.”
“Safe,” Bates murmured. “Safe with me, Graham.”
“Always.” Graham took a deep breath. He gagged briefly when a blood slick blade slid underneath the rope on his left wrist and took a deep breath as Bates made quick work of the other ropes that bound him to the altar.
Their eyes met in the torch lit temple and Graham sucked in a breath at the fury that burned in the Marine’s eyes—his pupils were blown wide, cheeks were flushed red, and the heat pouring off his body was warming the air around them.
“Hurt?” Dean questioned softly, pulling Simmons up off the stone and curling one arm around his bare back. “Guide,” he moaned softly and buried his face against Simmons’ neck.
“No, not hurt,” Graham promised. “They didn’t touch me.” He curled his hands into Bates blood soaked t-shirt and shuddered. “We can’t do this here, Bates. We need to go home.”
“Atlantis,” the Marine whispered and shuddered. “I’m trying to hold on. It’s so hard.”
“I know.” Graham pressed a kiss against Dean’s throat and clutched at him. “I know. I need clothes and we need to get the rest of the team on their feet.”
“Your things are in a small room in the front of the temple. I found them first.” Dean inhaled deeply against Graham’s skin. “They drugged you… I smell it on your skin.”
“Not for long,” Graham promised. “They wanted me awake for the sacrifice.” He glanced around the temple then and wasn’t remotely surprised by the ten bodies in the room. “How many did you kill?”
“I don’t know,” Dean whispered, his voice breaking softly against the skin of Graham’s forehead. “I lost count. No women. No children. I let those who would run—run and those who didn’t died.” He sucked in a deep breath and slid off Graham. “Let’s get you dressed.”
– – – –
John thumbed off the safety of his P-90 the moment he stepped through the gate. He signaled the two teams of Marines he’d brought with him to the left and to the right then clicked his radio. “Cam, if the smell is anything to go by we’ve got at least twenty to thirty dead. I’ve got heart beats on all of our people in the village and at least a hundred a mile out from the gate.”
“Understood, sir. Do you need team six as well?”
“No, Bates is online but he’s not feral anymore.” John took a deep breath. “Clear the gate room and let Jennifer know what to expect. He isn’t nesting but post mission medical is going to be a real problem.”
The bodies were no less than John expected—quick, efficient, bloody kills that left little to the imagination. The path of destruction stretched out from the temple closer to the gate to the heart of the village. They found Bates standing guard over a small structure that had clearly been designed to jail people.
John looked around. “What did you do with your evening, Sergeant Major?”
Bates scuffed the ground with his combat boot. “Got drugged, thrown in a shitty jail, nearly had my Guide sacrificed, and killed some Wraith worshippers. My team is still out cold and I didn’t want to leave them defenseless.”
“Understood.” John walked away from the structure and motioned Bates to follow. “You two come over here with me. Your instincts are still primed and I don’t need you to perceive any of our people as a threat.”
Bates grabbed a handful of Graham’s TAC vest and removed them both from the front of the shack. “I think I’m okay, sir.”
“Yeah.” John acknowledged and then concentrated on Graham. “You’re shields are a mess. Do you think you can handle returning to Atlantis at this point?”
“I think we’d both relax if we could go home, Colonel,” Graham murmured. He glanced around the village. “The people hiding away from the village are petrified and that’s pretty distracting.”
“Well, Bates certainly put on a show.” John smirked at his fellow Sentinel. “But then, it seems like they had it coming.” He focused entirely on Graham. “Any trauma I need to be aware of before you’re exposed to the online Guides and latents on the city?”
“They tied me to an altar naked but that was the extent of it before Bates started killing people,” Graham admitted roughly. “Nothing too concerning in the big scheme of things. I’ve been naked in front of a crowd of people before.”
Several Marines close to them laughed and Bates glared at him. “Excuse me?”
“Well, the Air Force Academy is one big party and sometimes naked things happened. Isn’t that right, Colonel?”
John chuckled. “I remember some naked things, sure. One could say too many naked things actually.”
Bates glared some more at Graham and pulled his Guide closer. He inhaled sharply and tightened his grip on his 9mm. “Sir, we’d like to go home.”
– – – –
“And they don’t need me?” Simon Wallace questioned as he watched Bates and Simmons ushered quickly into a private room in the infirmary by Keller. “Colonel?”
“No, there was no sexual trauma that I could determine but Bates is holding on by a proverbial thread. I don’t know how he had the strength not to just…” John sighed. “You know.”
“A feral Sentinel with an unbonded Guide in danger?” Simon questioned. “You’re right, of course. The strength he had to tap into not to take his Guide the moment they were reunited is extreme especially considering the relationship they already have as lovers.” Simon paused to consider his next words. “Bates has seen a lot of action—had his share of kills but this is different.”
“Very different—this won’t keep him up at night,” John returned. “Our genetic imperative makes guilt over a feral combat drive kind of impossible, Doc. The first priority is always the safety of our Guide. He’s not proud of himself but he isn’t going to have any kind of PTSD episode related to it either. The bond prevents that kind of mental issue. You know that.”
“In theory,” Simon admitted. “I’ve only ever treated two other Sentinels who’d had feral episodes and they were both female. I’ll make appointments for them both to see me together and privately after they’ve finished their nesting period.”
“We’re going to combine their quarters and move them into the tower with the rest of the pride to lower the stress level among the mundanes. It’s hardly a secret what he did at this point—the space will be good for everyone.”
“Agreed. It’s one thing to know that a Sentinel can kill like he did on that planet—it’s another to see it firsthand. Every man you took with you on the recon mission and his entire team will need to be evaluated before I can authorize their return to field duty.”
“Understood and agreed.” John glanced around the infirmary and motioned Keller towards him when she came out of the isolation room. “Can we move them?”
Jennifer shook his head. “No. Considering how far gone Bates is I’d prefer to keep him in the infirmary. His Sentinel has fully asserted himself and there is no getting in between them until the bonding phase is complete.”
“You speak as if the man and the Sentinel are separate,” Simon pointed out softly.
Jennifer smiled at him, understanding and something else playing on her features. “There is a divide between rational thought and instinctive drives within each Sentinel that makes them feel like two distinct minds sharing one body. This is especially clear when they are in a feral or near-feral state. The bonding or nesting drive is the strongest outside of a combat drive that a Sentinel can surrender to, but you know that.”
“I do but I’ve never seen it in action,” Simon admitted. “Will you keep me in the loop? I want to see them as soon as it’s safe and productive to do so to make sure they’ve made a healthy transition from lovers to bonded pair.”
– – – –
“Should we return to the city?” Peter asked as he watched Tyre come out of the back of the Jumper they’d used to fly out to the small camp the Sentinels had created for a private retreat.
Tyre shook his head. “They’ve recovered the whole team and Bates is nesting. It’s clear that he had a…” He paused as he searched for the right word. “Feral episode.”
Peter smiled. “What did your people call them?”
“It depended on the situation. In Bates situation with his Guide in so much danger—we would’ve called it a Wilding.” Tyre stretched and glanced out towards the blue stretch of lake that spread out in front of the rough cabin structure they’d built. It had only taken a week for them to complete it and he was glad that Sheppard had agreed to its construction readily. He’d lived to long in the outdoors not to have some kind of outlet to it beyond the missions they had off world.
“And if it were something else?”
“Like a mating imperative?” Tyre questioned with a smirk. He walked over to the blanket Peter was spread out on and dropped to his knees between the splay of his Guide’s legs.
Peter pretended to frown at him. “Did you smirk before you came to us or did the Marines ruin you, too?”
Tyre laughed softly and crawled over Peter. He settled his weight on his Guide with a soft sigh. “You ease me in ways that I didn’t even know I needed.”
Peter ran his fingers through Tyre’s short hair. “I’m really glad you gave in.” He spread his legs and rocked up against his lover with a sigh. “You’re beautiful.”
Tyre clenched his teeth briefly and harmlessly on Peter’s bottom lip. “You know the Marines told me that men don’t like to be called that.”
“The Marines are just jealous of how gorgeous you are,” Peter assured. He rolled his hips in a semi-circle and then sighed when Tyre hooked his arms under his knees and pressed his cock into his still slick opening.
“This good?” Tyre questioned softly.
Peter nodded. “Yeah, so good.” He felt gloriously used already but the hot glide of his Sentinel’s cock into his body was beyond perfect. “I feel like I was made for this—made for you.”
Tyre shifted carefully to his knees and ran one hand down Peter’s chest and over his stomach. “You were—you were made for me. If I were still a religious man I might even think the Ancestors brought you here to this city for me—as a reward for surviving.”
“A prize?” Peter questioned softly.
“The only prize I’ve ever desired,” Tyre promised.
– – – –
Dean curled his hands around the bars of the bed and pressed his feet into the bed to keep from thrusting up into the welcome heat of his Guide’s body. “You’re fucking killing me.”
Graham braced himself on Bates’ chest with both hands and shuddered as he worked himself down on the cock stretching his body open. “You’re the stubborn Sentinel who wanted me on top when I would be content to be on my back getting fucked stupid.”
“I don’t want to hurt you,” Dean snapped through clenched teeth. “Just fuck—Graham—God—give me more!”
Graham rocked back carefully as if he had all the time in the world. “I’ll give you everything you need, Dean. You can take whatever you need from me. I’m yours. I belong to you.”
Bates pushed against the mattress, his body and mind straining against the primitive nature of his feelings for his Guide. It hadn’t been this way before—the first time he’d slid into his lover he’d been overwhelmed with new love mixed with things like gratitude and relief. What he wanted right now wasn’t love. It wasn’t anywhere near deep emotions he had for Graham.
He growled and released the headboard with a hissed breath. Bates rolled them in one smooth movement and pinned Graham to the bed—anger and lust burning in him. “Why are pushing me?”
Graham relaxed under his Sentinel, his body going boneless with submission. “If you fight the Sentinel inside of you—you’re going to damage our ability to bond fully. You can’t be in control of every fucking thing, Dean. Let go!”
Dean trembled with restraint and then lowered himself to his Guide’s body carefully. He pushed back into Graham’s asshole with practiced ease. His scientist adored being fucked—reveled in being pounded as roughly as possible on a regular basis. He’d never once asked Dean to be on the receiving end but the Marine did wonder if he ever wanted it. Bates knew he would never even consider denying him anything he wanted… not even his previously straight ass.
He thrust into Graham roughly again and then again just to watch his Guide’s gorgeous blue eyes go wide with pleasure. Bates wrapped his fingers around Graham’s cock and started to jerk him hard and quick—matching the relentless pace of their bodies working together for the harsh pleasure they were finding together. Graham gasped and came with a deep groan. He arched off the bed and clenched down on Bates invading cock.
Dean groaned as his fingers were covered with hot semen, instinctively he lifted his hand to his mouth and sucked the cum from his skin. The taste of his Guide on his tongue—so basic and elemental—stimulated his senses so intensely that he came long before he was ready.
– – – –
Peter really thought that playing hide and seek with his Sentinel was somewhat ridiculous but that didn’t stop him from taking the jumper a few miles from the cabin and landing it. Then he’d trudged about three miles further in land taking time to wet himself down to make it a little more of a challenge.
Learning to pilot the jumper had been fun and required because of his ATA gene. He hadn’t fought it at all because who wouldn’t want to pilot a space ship? After a small sigh, he shrugged out of his backpack and started setting up the picnic he’d packed. He figured if he was going to play ‘bait the Sentinel’, that he might as well get some kind of date out of it.
A check of his watch confirmed that his Sentinel was definitely up and moving. Tyre had spent most of the last few weeks imprinting on Peter in a variety of situations so he’d have no problem finding Grodin in any manner of off-world missions. Now he was testing them both on Peter being in a calm unharmed state. In retrospect, it was probably the most difficult search for a Sentinel to do. Without fear, stress, and adrenalin pumping heavy in his blood—Peter’s scent pile was soft and indistinct compared to what it might be otherwise.
He knew from experience that his Sentinel could do a two-minute mile. The Marines on the city had taken a great deal of time to investigate the combat skills and physical abilities of both of the Sentinels from Sateda. To say they’d been blown away and kind of giddy would be an understatement. They weren’t super human but they certainly weren’t human neither and they skewed very high on the scale for Sentinels on physical ability and reflexes without being in a hyper or feral state of awareness.
Peter picked up his binoculars and grinned when he found Tyre at the top of the ridge leading into the small valley he’d chosen for their picnic. “You’re so bad ass, love.” He felt Tyre’s amusement and affection drift over their bond gently. He put down the binoculars and finished setting out the food.
– – – –
John walked out onto the small balcony and stretched in the evening air. Ocean damp wind brushed over his skin in a way that was just stimulating enough. He felt Rodney stir in the bed and then smiled as his Guide woke and rolled off the mattress to search for him. Warm hands drifted over his bare back seconds later and he shivered as McKay pressed a kiss against his shoulder.
“Before I met you and bonded—there were nights when my mind and body would race with all of this pent up energy. Sometimes I felt like I could burst right out of my skin,” John murmured and sucked in a breath as Rodney moved close and wrapped his arms around him. “I think it was you—even then.”
“Yeah?” Rodney questioned. “That would be the kind of thing Sentinel/Guide researchers on Earth would have kittens over.”
John laughed softly. “I just bet.”
“Why haven’t we done the pride imprint?”
John curled his fingers against the railing and took a deep breath. “I’m waiting on Elizabeth. Her and Cadman are… I have this responsibility toward them that I don’t feel prepared to explain but I think it’s important to do a full imprint only after Elizabeth comes online. It’s important to our dynamics and her integration into the pride.”
“She’s strong,” Rodney acknowledged. “Do you think she’ll be strong as Ronon?”
John paused for a moment and then nodded. “Yeah, actually I do. I don’t know that we’ve ever had an Alpha female on Earth but I have a feeling she’ll be at least a six. She isn’t stronger than me—because I don’t consider her a threat. I think I would consider her a threat to my authority on some deep level if she was going to be that strong. But she is head strong and has demonstrated the tendency to be argumentative in the past. She’s also developing a serious territorial imperative when it comes to her husband. I think she could butcher Kate Heightmeyer in the right circumstances.”
“Heightmeyer wants Wallace?” Rodney frowned. “Seriously? I’ve never gotten the vibe that he was remotely interested in her.”
“She wanted him up until she found out he was a Guide,” John murmured. “And she really didn’t care that he was married. He’s blind to it, of course, but I saw it on Earth. She was qualified and a lot of the civilians are very comfortable with her as a counselor—it’s the only reason why I didn’t put her off the mission in the first place. I figured they needed someone out here they were comfortable with. I should’ve delved deeper when I scanned her but on the surface she seemed perfectly okay.”
“She has a pretty severe bias towards Guides because her father left her mother for his Sentinel,” John explained. “I started tuning into Wallace when he isn’t with a patient after Jennifer diagnosed Elizabeth as a latent Sentinel. Female Sentinels can be territorial about their partners because of reproduction issues. Kate was, at one point, a fairly big threat whether Simon realized it or not.”
“She goes out of her way to keep away from him,” John admitted. “Heightmeyer is absolutely petrified of Elizabeth.”
“She should be,” Rodney muttered. “It really isn’t cool that was she interested in seriously after he got married, either. That kind of thing is very bad for the dynamics of the entire expedition.”
“I tried pretty hard to bring strong, moral people out here,” John admitted. “People who were forward thinking, unbiased, broad minded, and open to new experiences. I made a mistake with Kate.”
“You had a lot of work to do what with the Marines and the rest of the stuff for the expedition. I think you did an amazing job of cutting the dead weight off the expedition before we left,” Rodney murmured. “I know O’Neill was impressed by how you handled the job and the fact that you found Vala.”
“How are those two?” John questioned.
“Good. Better than I could’ve ever expected. Being here as helped a lot—the mission, the change of scenery, the adventure, and all of the challenges of the expedition has done a lot to put them both in a good place,” Rodney murmured. “She has a hard time meditating sometimes but I think that’s mostly because she was very used to doing that with Daniel Jackson leading the way. My mind is ordered up a little differently from his.”
“You’re stronger than him—I would’ve thought you would have lead group meditations in the mountain.”
“He was bonded and I wasn’t,” Rodney admitted. “You really have no idea how much you’ve done to balance me since we bonded. I can barely remember what it was like not to have you in my mind.” He pressed his mouth against John’s shoulder blade and closed his eyes. “You’re such a gift to me, John. Truly.”
“When we first got here… when we thought perhaps Sentinels had been engineered by the Ancients to protect people with gifts like yours…” John took a deep breath. “It was painful to think about. To think that the synergy you and I create was somehow artificial. Meeting Ronon and finding Sateda—it was such a relief to realize that the Ancients found our people. I felt disconnected from the natural world for a while.”
“I know,” Rodney murmured his fingers rubbed a small circle against John’s flat stomach. “There is so much we don’t know—so much we’ll never know about how our people developed on Sateda or how the Ancients realized that the Guides could be used to combat the Wraith.”
“I have an idea about that actually,” John admitted roughly. “It’s not… I don’t feel good about it at all but when I think back to that Iratus bug that was attached to my neck and the experiment the Ancients were running on that world…”
Rodney shifted away from his Sentinel and turned John so they were face to face. “What?”
“You know it felt like a Wraith only—less polluted. It wasn’t feeding like a Wraith—I don’t know how I know that but I know it was different somehow.” John touched Rodney’s cheek with hesitant fingers. “I think the Ancients made the Wraith—maybe not entirely on purpose but I know deep in my gut they were the engineers of their own defeat.”
“So they accidently…” Rodney took a deep breath. “Colonized the home world for those Iratus bugs? The cleaning procedure the city made us go through with your wound was extreme. There was a book on how dangerous it was to get fed on by an Iratus bug and how important it was clean out all of the DNA from the creature.”
“Because maybe the Ancients weren’t so careful in the beginning with survivors of Iratus attacks and the result was…” John waved a hand negligently. “A species of humanoids with powerful mental gifts comparable to the Ancients themselves and the appetite of an Iratus bug.”
Rodney took a deep breath and then nodded. “It’s… the Wraith didn’t feel anything like a Guide to me or even a Sentinel with a sixth sense but I’ve never had any exposure to an Ancient at least not one that wasn’t Ascended unless you count O’Neill we had the Ancients knowledge downloaded into his brain which I really don’t despite his really cool super powers.”
“We know from SG1 mission reports that Ancients had powerful mental abilities because they were close to Ascension—the ability to use their own body energy to heal, telekinesis, empathic communication, and extremely high cognitive functions,” John murmured. “What if they tried to use the Iratus bugs for that final push and accidently created the Wraith instead?”
“What to let something literally suck the last of their life out of the mortal body?” Rodney grimaced in distaste.
“Ascension was easiest for those who are already dying.”
John put himself between Rodney and the direction of the whispered words. They both took a deep breath when a man appeared before them. “Jesus.”
The man offered John a wry grin. “Not even close, John.” He glanced over Sheppard’s naked form with a curious interest. “Your pride comes running already. You chose your people well and you lead them with the kind of skill we have not seen in many hundreds of years.”
John returned the visual inspection with a frown. Taking in the man’s icy blond features and light blue eyes while mentally poking at the shields that shimmered around his mind. “You’re an Ancient.”
“No.” He glanced around the city and didn’t even look over his shoulder when the outer doors of Sheppard’s quarters opened. In short order, he had fourteen weapons pointed at him. “My name is Marius.” He quirked an eyebrow at John. “Are you going to tell them to lower the weapons?”
“No,” John said and then prodded Rodney back a few paces. “I don’t think I will. It’s probably pretty futile to take shots at an Ascended guy but they seem to have their hearts set on it. You even got Bates out of bed and in clothes for the first time in a full day.” He glanced over the Marine who was wearing a pair of BDUs and nothing else. “At least a little dressed anyways.”
Marius looked once at Ronon and then his gaze drifted over the water towards the mainland. “I did all I could to keep young Tyre sane until now—it was difficult because he was willful and had not been trained in mental disciplines before the fall of Sateda. We were worried that he would not last until someone skilled enough to remove the tracker would find him. I petitioned the others to save him—to protect one of the few Guardians that remained in this galaxy but I was denied.”
“Are you going to get into trouble for being here?” Cameron questioned, his gun lowering slightly. In response, Vala leveled hers up just a little bit higher. “Daniel said you weren’t allowed to interfere.”
“I’m just having a conversation.” Marius walked to the side of the balcony opposite Sheppard and leaned against the railing with a small smile. “Besides, I can meddle a little in the affairs of Sentinels and their wondrous Guides—it’s allowed.” He looked at Teyla. “Teyla of Athos has always been very receptive to my words and her self-confidence allows her to act when others might falter.”
Evan Lorne took a deep breath. “That’s how she knew Sheppard was in trouble. You told her?”
“Not so many words but I did nudge her in that direction. She’s intuitive and has always embraced the natural energy that flows through the universe easily. It was easy to dip my fingers into that energy and disturb it in just the right way to make her question the safety of her Alpha.” Marius glanced towards John and then nodded. “But, I cannot interfere physically and I can do nothing about the Wraith. The Alterans would drop me naked and clueless on a planet so fast it would give this galaxy whiplash.”
“So if you aren’t Ancient, what are you?” John questioned.
“Something closer to home, John,” Marius admitted with a smile and then he held out his hand to thin air. Another man shimmered into place, his hand clutched firmly in Marius’. “Meet my Guide & Consort, Bastien.”
Sheppard cleared his throat and all the weapons were abruptly pointed downward. “Were you born on Atlantis or Sateda?”
“On Earth actually—in Rome in the year 23 B.C. within days of each other,” Bastien explained with a small smile playing on his lips. “I would not meet him, of course, until much later. He purchased me at a slave auction—it took a couple thousand years but I’ve forgiven him for the collar.”
Marius blushed. “I was a man of my time. My father said finding my Guide would change me—Sentinels were a family secret—passed down for many generations. When my gifts manifested I thought I would die and then suddenly he was standing before me and I sold everything but my sword to buy him.” He brought his Guide close. “To free him—even if he did wear the collar for a few years after the fact.”
Jennifer poked Evan suddenly. “I would not look hot in a collar!”
“Yeah, you would,” Evan returned and chuckled when all of the men on the balcony grunted their agreement.
“Why are you here?” John questioned. “Do the Ancients want us to leave Atlantis?”
“No, they are not concerned with such things.” Marius glanced out over the ocean again. “My Guide and I fell in the same battle and as we lay dying—a woman came to us and offered us the chance to live for eternity together. I can name no one would turn down such an offer. Afterwards, when I realized the woman was not really an angel and that my concepts of the universe were without foundation built on facts we spent many hundreds of years exploring the universe. We were drawn to Pegasus suddenly—we’d never once come here before that so discovering the Wraith as we did was a surprise.”
“The fall of Sateda brought you to Pegasus?” Rodney questioned.
Bastien shivered. “All of those Guides dying—thousands in the same day? Yes, the pain of it was overwhelming and difficult to ignore. It tore at the flow of energy that we all use to center ourselves and left gaping wounds that did not begin to heal until your expedition came here from Earth. We helped a few people on Sateda Ascend but so few were ready for it and we could not reach out to them all at the same time.”
Ronon cleared his throat. “How many?”
“A few thousand,” Marius answered. “Not nearly enough—many of them were children and all of them were Sentinels or Guides. They were the easiest to reach; the easiest to draw over the line and into Ascension. They accepted the peace of death and let go of their burdens far more easily than the others—the ones that descended from the Alterans. That was why they were so interested in our people on Sateda in the first place. Ascension had been a natural part of the spiritual life of Satedians for thousands of years. The last act of a vital and vivid life.” Marius frowned. “It’s one reason you won’t find primitive burial grounds on Sateda when Daniel Jackson comes to research our history there.”
“We should go,” Bastien murmured. “We’ve stayed longer than was agreed already.”
Marius nodded and focused on John. “You were right about the Iratus for the most part.”
“What was I wrong about?” John questioned.
“It was by no means an accident,” Marius returned evenly.
John blinked when the two snapped away in a flash of light leaving him alone with the better part of his pride. “Jennifer, first thing in the morning I want you to prod the database into giving up everything it has on Iratus research. If they made the Wraith then maybe we learn a little bit more about our enemy than is obvious.”
“It didn’t help the Ancients,” Rodney murmured.
“They were all much more interested in dying than in living,” John responded. He raised an eyebrow at Vala who was staring openly at him. “Questions?”
“Nope, just admiring the view. You don’t have an ounce of shame, do you?” She laughed when Cameron pulled her close and prodded her through the doors.
“Shame is not sexy,” John called after her with a small laugh. He said nothing else until they were alone again. “There goes any doubt I had in my mind that we have sex in private.”
Rodney chuckled. “Sentinels listening, Guides and mundanes feeling it, and Ascended people hanging out to watch the show. It’s a good thing that you’re shameless.”
He pulled his Guide close and wrapped his arms around him with a small sigh. “I can’t even be bothered to really care, you know.”
“I do know,” Rodney admitted. “Maybe he’ll stick his fingers in the flow and point Teyla towards a fucking ZPM.” He glanced up at the sky. “That would be great ya know!”
John was silent for a few seconds and then just started to laugh. “Christ, McKay, I would’ve sold everything but my sword to buy you, too.”
“Why not the sword, too?” Rodney questioned.
John touched his face with gentle fingers and then kissed his forehead. “How could any man find what is most precious to him and strip himself of the ability to protect what belongs to him?”
“You think I belong to you?” McKay asked with a raised eyebrow.
“I know you do.” John prodded him towards the doors and back into their bedroom. “I’ll give you a demonstration.”
“I adore your demonstrations,” Rodney promised sincerely and just laughed when John pushed him back onto the bed.
Read the Next Episode: The Aftermath