Title: The Legacy
Author: Keira Marcos
Series title: The Sentinels of Atlantis
Series Order: 10
Fandom: Sentinel/Stargate Fusion
Rating: R (language and sexual content)
Pairings: McKay/Sheppard, Weir/Wallace, Bates/Simmons (many secondary pairings—see the series index page for a full listing)
Warnings: Adult themes, extreme violence
Summary: John has to tell the latent Sentinels on the city of their Satedian genetic legacy.
* * * *
“Sir, I was tested twice on Earth and both times they said no.”
John nodded. “Jennifer is pretty confident concerning her results, Dean.” He glanced at Sergeant Dean Bates and found the man a study in confusion. “The thing is that the gene the people on Earth that indicates Sentinels is just a… remnant left over from the Ancients. Not the ATA gene—that’s artificial but another gene that most of the Sentinels on Earth have. Probably upwards of ninety-five percent of Sentinels have it but there are a few who don’t and you’re one of them. You do have the gene we’ve identified that come from the Satedians. And you have a latent ATA gene.”
Bates exhaled sharply and looked out over the ocean. “When you brought me out here—I thought it was to discuss Stackhouse and Markham.”
“Are they a problem?” John asked mildly.
“Not for me, but they could stand to be a little more discreet. I won’t tolerate bullshit from the men under me and they know it. As far as I know, we don’t have any that would have a problem with it personally. They are, however, in violation of the regs and we have a few on the city that take regulations and rules very seriously. I can’t say that I’m not one of them. Regulations have always provided me with… security.”
“I understand that,” John admitted. “The regulations, however, really no longer apply to either one of them.”
Bates paused and then nodded. “I see. Well, that explains all the touching they do. I always thought it was more than sex for Stackhouse. He’s edgy and put out when he goes on missions without Markham. Do you think they’ll come online together?”
“Markham wants to get in the chair and bring his Guide gifts online so he’ll be ready when Stackhouse finally emerges. I’m still on the fence about allowing that. It would be better if they came online naturally. Less trauma when it comes gradually than what happened to Zelenka.” John admitted. “There are ten latent Guides on the city, Dean so we can hope that one of them is going to start interest you.”
Dean cleared his throat and shook his head. “I’m not sure… I’m not sure I could be intimate with a man, sir.”
John laughed softly. “I hate to tell you this, Dean, but if you come online you aren’t going to give a shit if your Guide has a dick or not. You’re going to want to crawl all over him like a house on fire.”
Dean frowned but nodded. “Even if… well hell…sir… I wouldn’t have the first fucking clue what to do with another guy.” He exhaled sharply. “So all of the latent Guides are male?”
“Yes, and they are content remain anonymous so I won’t be releasing their names. If there is a Guide for you on the city—you won’t have a problem finding him. If there isn’t—we’ll do our best to train you and protect you until we can find you a Guide.”
Dean nodded and leaned forward against the railing. “I need some… space, sir.”
“Sure.” John patted his shoulder. “Set up an appointment with Dr. Wallace. He’s expecting you and he can probably provide you with some literature so you’ll… know what to do with another guy.”
Dean blushed and focused intently on the ocean. “Thanks, sir.”
* * * *
That could have gone worse, John thought as he walked down the hall towards the transporters. He was grateful that McKay had found the glitch that had made them painful to use and fixed it. It made getting around the city a lot easier.
Simon had insisted on being present when Elizabeth was informed of her status and while it wasn’t John’s preference, he couldn’t very well deny the man the right to be with his wife.
The science labs were bustling with activity. The information from Sateda and especially the generator had really gotten the geeks excited and had in turn gotten everyone else a little excited as well.
Elizabeth and Simon were in the large open office that Wallace had claimed for himself shortly after they’d gotten settled and had started mapping out lab and office space.
John paused at the open door and watched Elizabeth for a few seconds—taking in the lines of stress around her mouth. She was worried and had been since Simon had revealed his latent Guide status six days before.
“John, right on time.” Simon offered him a small smile and Sheppard slid into the room and waved his hand over the sensor to shut the door.
“Simon, Elizabeth.” John nodded abruptly and then walked to the chair they’d left them. “I just finished speaking with Dr. Keller about the final set of DNA results on the expedition.”
Simon glanced at Elizabeth and then nodded. “The results?”
“She thinks she’s found information that will help with compatibly when it comes to matching pairs on Earth—creating better situations for the Guide search that every Sentinel must go through.”
“That’s good, right?” Elizabeth questioned.
“It could be,” John admitted. “But it could be misused by the government—to identify strong Guides and Sentinels. We’re going to be very careful with the information. It won’t be handed over to the SGC or the government.”
Elizabeth lifted an eyebrow. “Are you sure that’s wise?”
“It’s Sentinel/Guide business as far as I’m concerned,” John returned. “But that’s not really what I’m here to discuss.”
“It’s about the latent Sentinels on the city? You think one of them is a good match for Simon?” Elizabeth asked, her voice was careful—even neutral but John could hear how fast her heart was beating, could smell the agony burning on her skin.
John leaned forward then, slid forward in his chair and took a deep breath. “Elizabeth, I really don’t know what to do with you—that’s why I saved you for last. Every single female Sentinel I’ve ever encountered was military or police. They were strong, aggressive women who lived and played hard.”
The blood drained from her face and she shook her head abruptly. “No.”
John shared a knowing look with Simon and pounced. “Would you rather I say it wasn’t you? That your husband is destined by instinct and genetics to bond with someone other than you? Because I can’t do that.”
Elizabeth exhaled sharply and curled up in her chair. “But… there are no… never anyone in my family.”
“There are instances like that on Earth—my mother was the first online Sentinel in her family in generations. We don’t even know who was online before—it’s not in any of our family records.” John picked at the seam of his BDUs and took a deep breath. “So, your Sentinel gene is very strong and your ATA gene is on a medium level. When you come online—and make no mistake—you will come online—you’ll probably be around a level five. We’ve never had a female Sentinel rate higher than that but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.”
“It’s not…” Elizabeth wrapped her arms around her legs and exhaled sharply. “I can’t be… John… I don’t want this.”
“I know,” Sheppard responded gently. “I know you don’t want it and I don’t know how to make that better for you. You’re surrounded by a strong pride and I can’t foresee a circumstance where you’ll remain latent.” He stood up abruptly. “You have a responsibility here, Elizabeth.”
“To the pride?” Elizabeth demanded roughly, her eyes hard.
“No, to your Guide.”
* * * *
Elizabeth shuddered briefly when the door closed gently on John Sheppard’s retreating form. It was the last thing she expected and she couldn’t imagine wanting it.
Simon urged her out of the chair and onto the balcony. “Easy.”
“It’s not… I can’t imagine being like them. I can’t… they are so primal and strong. I’m nothing like them.”
Simon chuckled and pulled her into his arms. “Ah, Liz, you are more like them than you can even imagine. You are territorial, possessive, intensely passionate about the things and people you care about, and you’re so strong and capable.”
Elizabeth moved closer to him and sighed. She loved being close to him—to feel the heat of his body against her own. The scent of his skin was always enough to soothe her. “Oh.”
“Oh?” Simon questioned.
She blushed and averted her gaze. “I’ve always liked the way you smell.”
Simon ran a hand down her back and pulled her closer. “It’s okay. I’ll keep you safe and I’ll teach you everything I know about how to deal with your gifts whatever they might be.”
Elizabeth nodded. “Okay.”
“And I have some more data for you to read—things I couldn’t share with you before.” Simon cupped her head and tilted it back so he could look at her face. “You’re intelligent and courageous. I think I’ve loved you since the moment I set eyes on you…even if I fought it every single inch of the way. We’ll get through this together and everything will be okay. I promise.”
“I love you, too. I don’t know how I could be out here without you.”
* * * *
“You look like you just came out of a battle by the skin of your teeth.” Rodney pressed a beer into John’s hand. “Only one—so make it last.”
John nodded. He actually did okay with beer but it wasn’t worth the risk. “Yeah. She just took it badly that’s all. I knew she would.”
“Elizabeth is an accomplished diplomat and while it might not have occurred to her, yet. Her career in politics on Earth is over. Sentinels and Guides can’t actively participate in mundane politics.”
“Right.” John nodded and shook his head. “It hasn’t all hit her, yet. I think she’ll suppress her gifts for as long as she can. Her scent pile has been changing since we came here but I was labeling it as a by-product of our stressful situation. I didn’t know… Stackhouse and Bates aren’t changing that way.”
John sighed. “So she’s even closer to coming online than Stackhouse? I find that hard to believe.”
“Her body chemistry will start cycle, her scent pile will get stronger, and then she’s going to come online. That’s what all of the research tells us. We have studied Sentinels as they have emerged, John. It isn’t some giant mystery.”
John grimaced and shook his head. “She’s going to fight it hard and I don’t know how to ease her. It’s my place, right?”
Rodney used his fingers to rub John’s muscles as he considered that question. “It’s your place to lead the pride and maintain the integrity of our relations with the mundanes in the city. Elizabeth has a Guide to ease her way into the gifts nature has given her. On an instinctual level, the entire pride will seek to protect and nurture her. Female Sentinels bring that out in males. They are rare and intensely valuable on an evolutionary level for our kind. They help the genetic spread of our people.”
* * * *
Laura Cadman dropped down on the pier beside Elizabeth Weir and offered her a beer. “Be careful with it—you’ll notice that some things will start to make you go wacko. That’s how I knew I was coming online.”
“You’ve been online since you were a teenager?”
“Yes, I was lucky to find my Guide in my first Guide search. We had a platonic bond until we were old enough to live on our own. We joined the Marines together, went to college together, went to OTS together, and now we’re here on Atlantis together. I don’t even really remember a time when I wasn’t a Sentinel.”
“It’s…” Elizabeth sighed and looked out at the ocean. “It’s not something that I can even conceptualize really. I’ve always worked so hard for peace and for understanding. I was working for the UN by the time I was twenty-two. Did you know that?”
Laura shook her head. “Pretty cool.”
“I did translation work—oral and written for the UN. I already spoke six languages. Languages came very easily to me—I learned Japanese first and was fluent by the time I was fourteen.” Elizabeth huffed suddenly. “Christ, is that part of this Sentinel thing?”
Laura chuckled. “Perhaps—we got a briefing on you. Keller and Sheppard both think you’ll probably be a Level 5. We all have excellent memory skills but we utilize them differently. Your ability to speak and learn languages could be the by-product your ability to understand and hear the nuances of human speech far beyond what a mundane is capable of. Most of us can find skills and past behaviors or reactions that can be linked to our gifts.”
“I probably would’ve never come online if I’d stayed on Earth,” Elizabeth murmured.
Laura shook her head. “You can’t think like that and you certainly can’t continue to wallow in self-pity. Colonel Sheppard is right—you do have a responsibility.”
“To my Guide,” Elizabeth whispered. “That’s what he said.”
“Yeah, and you do. It’s your job and will become your sole purpose in life to protect him and to shelter him. It’s odd for us—females I mean. I have these urges and drives that I can’t even explain to myself concerning others—especially my pride. I have to stop myself from checking to make sure they all eat.” Laura blushed when Elizabeth laughed. “I do the same thing with the whole city, you know. I monitor everyone to make sure they’re eating properly and that no one is unduly stressed. I corral the geeks into the mess hall or alternately to their quarters to sleep. I can’t help myself. I mother this whole fucking city and you will, too.”
Elizabeth sighed. “Sometimes I get up at night—when most everyone is asleep and walk around. I know John knows I do it—I don’t know why I do it.”
“We all wake up at night to check on the population in the city. You can’t do it without leaving your bed because you’re senses aren’t online so you do it the only way you can.” Laura shrugged. “If you fight it, Elizabeth, you’ll suffer for it but more important than your own suffering—your Guide will suffer and that’s unacceptable. You said you didn’t want to break Simon’s heart—turning your back on your gifts and the bond he offers you would damage him as much as your death.”
“He’s not online.”
“He’ll come online soon,” Laura said then. She drank half of her beer in one swallow. “Then he’ll have this dark, hard empty place inside of him that is meant for you to fill. If you hide from your gifts—push aside the gift of his mind that place inside him will remain so empty and painful. Aidan said it was like carrying a part of himself that was dying—continuously dying.”
Elizabeth blinked rapidly, her eyes burning with tears at the thought of her husband suffering such pain. “I wouldn’t want that. Not ever. How do unbonded Guides even survive that on a daily basis?”
“Some don’t—it’s why when a Guide is found our communities work very hard to support, train, and protect them. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if we still lived in small tribes but Earth is teeming with humanity and the end result is that we often find ourselves surrounded by the worst kind of people with motivations that are so sick it can be difficult to be in the same room with them. The only true defense a Guide has from such crap is his Sentinel.” She looked at Elizabeth then. “When you come online—your mind will create a shield and your body will project it on your Guide. I can’t explain the biology of it but there is some data for you to review on that subject.”
“I have an appointment with Jennifer to do some testing,” Elizabeth murmured. “They actually think I’m pretty close to coming online.”
“I’m here if you need me,” Laura finally said. “We gotta stick together if we’re going to mother the whole city.”
Elizabeth saluted Laura with her half-empty bottle and sighed. “I’ll probably take you up on that.”
* * * *
Simon pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. “Kate, we’ve been over this. I can’t discuss the list of latent Guides with you. Those that were on it will remain as anonymous as they chose to be until which time they come online. If they aren’t already my patient at that point—they will become my patient per Colonel Sheppard’s request.”
“He doesn’t trust us to take care of his pride?” Kate demanded.
“He trusts you—if he didn’t you would’ve never left Earth with him.” Simon took a deep breath. “The fact is that you will remain the psychologist of record for one of the Sentinels and one of the Guides. There won’t be a choice in the matter but that will be discussed when the time is right and not before.”
Kate held up her hands in defeat. “Alright. You know, Simon, I only push you because it’s my job. I’m your second in command for a reason.”
Simon grinned. “To keep me honest and to overhear all the crap no one wants to tell me? You’re great at your job and I know you hate playing the devil’s advocate all the time but it works well for the rest of the team.”
Kate flushed and shrugged. “Want to grab some dinner?”
“No, he doesn’t.” Elizabeth leaned in the doorway of the open office and offered Kate a tight smile. “He’s busy.”
Kate stood abruptly. “Elizabeth.” She blushed and then smiled. “I’ll just be going. Have a good evening.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes as Kate hurried out and then glared at her husband. “Do you often get offers like that from her?”
Simon chuckled and watched his wife glide into the room. “I bet your spirit animal will be a cat—a big, man eating jungle cat.”
Elizabeth quirked one eyebrow at him as she strolled around his desk and slid astride his lap. “I’m serious. Does that witch swish around in her little skirts and hit on you all the time or did I just pick a stellar time to come check on you?”
Simon pulled her close, letting his thumbs press into her hipbones. “The only way this could be hotter would be if you were wearing that leg holster and a gun. Because I have to tell you, baby, that is hot. I hate guns—don’t get me wrong but seeing you walk around with one really does it for me.”
Elizabeth shuddered as her husband rubbed his mouth against the skin of her neck and ran her fingers through his short hair. “You know, I’ll kick her ass if I catch her hitting on you again.”
“She was not hitting on me,” Simon denied with a laugh.
“Yes, she was.” Elizabeth moved closer, her body relaxing against him with relief. “She smelled like a brothel in Hong Kong. I can’t believe she didn’t shower after sex. She must’ve had a quickie at lunch or something.”
Simon grew still on her and set her back abruptly on his lap. “Liz?”
“What?” Elizabeth demanded. “She did and then she’s in here hitting on you.”
Simon took a deep breath. “Baby, you should not be able to smell her like that. I didn’t and I doubt seriously that she’s had sex with anyone today. We’ve been in meetings all day.”
Elizabeth frowned and then her mouth dropped open. “Oh.”
“Yeah, oh.” Simon pushed her hair back and took a deep breath. “Wow.”
Elizabeth swallowed hard. “So, I guess I smelled her pheromones or something?”
“Pheromones, hormones—she probably finds me attractive physically but she would never act on it. Kate and I were co-workers for years before I left Colorado over that mess with Sumner. I regret bugging out but I was so furious with him and yes, a little hurt that you were still going to go on this mission without me.” Simon sighed. “But, never in all that time have we ever even had a moment of mutual interest. She’s a beautiful woman, granted, but that’s the extent of it.”
Elizabeth looked away briefly. “I don’t think—I wouldn’t have gone through the gate without you. I was actually getting ready to quit and join you in New York when suddenly Sumner was replaced with Sheppard.” She waved a hand. “Then he was in my face rearranging things and making everything just the way he wanted it whether I liked it or not.”
Simon grinned. “I bet that really messed with you. Since you like things to be just the way you want them.”
Elizabeth blushed and moved closer. “You aren’t even close to coming online are you?”
“Shh,” Simon whispered and kissed her temple. “Nature provides.”
She sighed. “What if—what if you aren’t my Guide?”
Simon frowned at that and sat back abruptly in his chair. “I’d have a really serious fucking problem with that to be honest. I mean… huge problem.” He shook his head to clear it and took a deep breath. “Okay, close your eyes.” He laughed softly when she immediately complied. “Now, think about your Guide. Tell me what you see.”
Elizabeth was silent for a long minute but her hands stopped trembling and she relaxed again. “He’s actually quiet pretty.”
Simon pinched her thigh. “Take this seriously.”
She opened her eyes and grinned. “I think only of you when I think Guide. I’ve been thinking about it since Sheppard told me and I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know how to think of anything else. You’re mine. I’ve always known that—since the moment I saw you rushing across that airport in Denver. I bribed a girl at the ticket counter to get on your plane and into a seat beside you.”
Simon laughed. “God, really? I had no idea.”
“Yeah. I had to bribe her and pay for a first class ticket for the guy who was supposed to be sitting beside you. Then I get on the plane and you’re sitting there with your laptop and those cute glasses you wore before you got Lasik.” Elizabeth shrugged when he laughed again. “I really liked the glasses. Anyway, I kept trying to talk to you but you were trying to look busy so I wouldn’t. I could tell but I just couldn’t let you get away with that.”
“You looked complicated,” Simon admitted. “And I didn’t think I had room in my life for complicated.” He rocked in the chair and grinned. “I was right. You are really complicated and I couldn’t be more pleased that you bribed that girl to get on that plane.”
Elizabeth blushed. “We should probably go to the infirmary?”
“I don’t know,” Simon admitted. “I don’t think I want everyone in the city to know this yet. It’s personal.” He clicked his radio. “Dr Keller this is Dr. Wallace—do you have time to come to my office?” He relaxed when the Guide confirmed quickly that she did. “Thank you.”
“So, what do I tell her?” Elizabeth questioned.
“Your sense of smell is… extending. She’ll have some tests for us to work through to see how developed it is and she’ll want to take more blood from you to see if your genes are still off line.”
* * * *
Dean Bates was a Marine—never in his life had he wanted to be anything but a Marine and now there was something lurking in his blood that would change that and it pissed him off. He’d been jealous of his brother when his brother had manifested Sentinel traits but he hadn’t wanted them for himself. His father had been so proud and pleased to have produced a Sentinel. There had always been this edge of disappointment about his father where Dean was concerned as a result. He was proud that he’d chosen to serve—Dean knew that.
His Daddy loved to brag about his son, the Marine—the decorated war hero. However, Dean was mundane and that had always surfaced in the conversation eventually—especially when they’d been at pride gatherings. No one had ever been cruel to him because of it. In fact, if anything the pride took extra special care of the mundane children they produced. He’d never known anything but love, acceptance, and support in that community because his father was a Sentinel and his mother was a Guide.
With his stomach churning, he walked down the pier to the area everyone had been using for swimming. It was probably the best place in the city to hang out—even at night. He was surprised to find that deep pool was actually occupied. He checked his watch and found it close to 0200 hours.
He dropped his towel on the side of the small balcony that jutted out over the pool and sat down on the edge. When they’d finished cleaning out the area (with the timely help of the city), the balcony had slid further out and the railing had disappeared into the floor so smoothly it was like it had never been there—turning into a nice place to dive off of if one chose. There were other areas where people could ease into the water easily and they’d hung up six rope ladders in various places.
The man in the water stopped swimming a few feet from where Dean was perched. The light from the two Lantean moons bathed him in blue light—it was a pretty good look for the guy. “Dr. Simmons, it’s pretty late for a swim. I’m pretty sure we told all of the civilians no swimming alone.”
Graham Simmons smiled. “I’m not alone. You’re here.”
Dean flushed. “I wasn’t here when you started, Doc.”
“No, but you’re here now and that’s all that matters.” Graham pushed back in the water and floated on his back. “It’s great—you should come in.”
Dean didn’t even know why he was out by the pool to begin with. He’d never been one for night swimming but he gamely pulled his shirt over his head and dropped it on the balcony. With a little sigh, he scooted off the edge and right into the water. It was cool but not cold—he swam under water for a few feet and surfaced just a few inches from the floating engineer.
Graham laughed. “Stealthy even in the water.” He rolled off his back to tread water. “Couldn’t sleep? I have a hard time sleeping when there is so much to think about and explore. I hate wasting time sleeping when we could be out there checking things and searching the city.”
“It’s dangerous,” Dean said. “I hope you don’t wander about by yourself.”
“No way,” Graham grinned. “Your Marines don’t let us get far out of bounds, Sergeant. They are well trained and besides the last time I tried to sneak out to explore, Colonel Sheppard caught me. I got lectured all the way back to my quarters by Dr. McKay who was really pissed to have his… sleep interrupted.”
“Sure, sleep.” Dean laughed.
Graham shrugged and swished his hands in the water. “Sleep, sex—I’d be pissed to have either interrupted.”
“It doesn’t bother you? That they sleep together?”
“It’s better to sleep beside a warm body than alone,” Graham responded cheekily.
“You know what I mean,” Dean muttered.
“Oh,” Graham wiggled his eyebrows. “Does it bother me that they fuck? God, how could it? It’s so great when Colonel Sheppard is having a good time—the whole city goes all mellow and sweet. We get twice as much work done in the labs when McKay is in a good mood. On the whole, I’d say their continued good sex life is best for our mission.”
Dean laughed and nodded his agreement. “Yeah, okay. So, it doesn’t bother you at all?”
“I’ve slept with a few guys,” Graham responded and then smiled. “But I shouldn’t tell you that, huh? Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?”
“You’re a civilian. You can tell whoever you like,” Dean responded as he followed the scientist over to a shallow part of the pool that would allow them to sit in the water. He settled into one of the seats and started in surprise when the water heated around him and started to bubble. “This is the best city ever.”
Graham grinned. “You didn’t know it did this?”
“We put a report last week about the pool and how it worked,” Graham explained. “This is basically a hot tub area—it uses the energy generated from the hydropower plant so it isn’t even taxing the generators we brought with us. There is also an endless pool area at the other end—so you can exercise—there are controls so you can manage the speed of the current and vary the workout. Very slick. We sent out a how to guide so you guys could use it for PT.”
“I’ll be sure to look for it in my in box. I tend to file the scientific reports for later but later never seems to come. It’s pretty busy—what with the trade missions and the Athosians.”
“I’ve been helping them evaluate building materials on the mainland,” Graham admitted. “They are an interesting people—with very hardy personalities. They lost nearly everything and they are so strong not to just fall into despair over it. I don’t think I’m that strong.”
“You walked through the Stargate to another galaxy to an alien city on what we all assumed could be a one-way mission. You step through the gate regularly with your team with a P-90 strapped to your vest. That’s pretty hardy, Doc.”
Graham smiled. “Well, I’m ex-Air Force so the gun isn’t too big of a deal.”
Dean nodded; he knew that about the engineer’s past. He’d memorized the personnel files on all of the expedition members. “Why did you leave?”
He sighed. “Because I like to fuck men just as much as I like to fuck women and it was pretty hard to keep up that front. Besides, I joined the Air Force for the educational opportunities. I did my undergrad work at the academy. When I left the Air Force—I went to MIT to get my degree in engineering. McKay was in the audience when I graduated. I’d been a part of the SGC for years before I left the Air Force and had worked with him in the field.”
“So, he tracked you down?”
“He handed me a job offer and told me not to be a fucking idiot.” Graham laughed. “I’m anything but a fucking idiot so I packed my shit and headed back to Colorado Springs. They had ID waiting on me at the front gate. I signed my confidentiality agreement and five days later Colonel Sheppard was asking me to go to another galaxy with him. I’d only been back at the SGC for a month when we left Earth.”
Bates trailed his fingers through the water. “I wasn’t on the original mission list either. Sumner and I—we weren’t on good terms. He had a real problem with gays and was always after me to hunt them down in the mountain. I never agreed to participate in his little maneuvers so he cut me from the Atlantis mission pretty early on.”
“Is that why he isn’t here now? He couldn’t handle Sheppard and McKay?” Simmons asked. “I heard rumors.”
“We all heard rumors but I never had anything confirmed for me. It’s a good thing he’s not here—it would’ve been a fucking disaster from minute one. Men like him aren’t explorers. They are warmongers and there are enough warmongers in this galaxy already.”
“Couldn’t agree more,” Graham admitted. “Does it bother you that I’m bi?”
“Nope.” Dean leaned back against the wall and sighed. “My brother is a Sentinel and his Guide is male. My father didn’t raise me to treat anyone with disrespect—he is a strong Sentinel. The Beta Sentinel for his pride and bull shit like that was just not tolerated in his home or in his community if he had a thing to say about it.”
“That’s cool.” Graham swished around in the water with one hand and sighed. “Can I call you Dean?”
“Dean, I have this stupidly huge desire to crawl into your lap. I’m doing my best to not do it but if I end up making a pass at you—it would be great if you didn’t kill me.” Graham blushed when Bates just laughed. “I’m serious.”
“I don’t normally swing that way, Doc, but I won’t kill you.” Dean splashed a little water at the scientist. “I might kick your ass a little.”
“So would you kiss me back first?” Graham asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Is that what you want to do when you get in my lap?”
“Yep.” Graham edged a little closer and just grinned, unrepentant, when the Marine shot him a look. “Right on the mouth.”
“You’re kind of brazen.”
“It’s a character flaw,” Graham declared. “My only one as far as I can tell.” He leaned in. “The day I resigned from the Air Force—I made a pass at General O’Neill.”
“Did he kick your ass?” Dean asked unwillingly amused and irritated in way he couldn’t really explain.
“No, but he did drill me nice and hard right on his desk.” Graham flushed. “It was fucking fantastic but that’s our big fat gay secret, Dean.”
“I won’t tell a soul,” Bates promised seriously. “You don’t tell that story often, I hope.”
“You’re the first person I’ve ever told,” Graham murmured. “I don’t know why I told you. I trust you. I trust you most of anyone on the city even if you might kick my ass when I make a pass at you.”
“Already decided you’re taking that risk, huh?” Dean asked with a laugh. “I think I need to take you to the infirmary for an evaluation.”
“Nope, she’s already gotten my blood sample for the day. I’m supposed to get my blood tested every thirty-six hours because I’m…” He trailed off and sighed. “Part of some research she’s doing.”
“Ah, hell, Doc.” Dean let his head fall back and he found himself focusing on the big moon that dominated the sky. He’d heard one of the geeks say that the bigger moon was almost as a big as Earth.
“Are you alright?” Graham asked, reaching out to touch him.
Dean started at the first touch of the scientist’s fingers. His whole body got hot in an instant. “Fuck.”
“Well, it’s a little early for that. Normally, if I set my eyes on a straight guy—especially one in the military I have to work for weeks to get any action.” Graham moved closer. “Seriously. You look upset. Do I need to call someone for you?”
Dean reached out and wrapped one hand around Graham’s right wrist. He pulled the scientist through the water to him and right into his lap. Concerned or not, Simmons was astride his thighs in heartbeat. “No, you don’t need to call anyone.”
“I can get my radio,” Graham whispered. “Or you know just shout for Colonel Sheppard—one of the Sentinels would come running.” He let his hands rest on Dean’s shoulders. “You look like you saw a ghost or someone died.”
“My heterosexuality recently fell over dead,” Dean admitted roughly. “Does that count?”
“Well, I’m very attractive but I don’t think I’ve ever been accused of killing someone’s heterosexuality before.” He wiggled on Bates’ lap for a few seconds and hissed in a breath when he encountered the erection the Marine wasn’t making any effort to hide.
“Wow, how long on that?”
“Since I got close to you,” Dean admitted roughly. “I’m in trouble here, Doc. Serious trouble.”
“I can keep a secret, Sergeant and Sheppard isn’t going to get all bent. You know that.” Graham moved closer and settled his ass right against Dean’s cock. “You’re really big—that’s pretty exciting.”
Dean blushed. “Jesus, you aren’t seeing anyone on the city, are you?”
“No.” Graham relaxed in the water as he realized that Bates wasn’t going to get overly physical with him. “No one for a few months before we left Earth actually. I was dating this guy but he lost his funding when his dissertation committee suspended him for missing a deadline. He tried to get me to help by writing his work for him when I refused he dumped me.”
“He’s a prick,” Dean muttered. “If we ever get back to Earth—I can go kick his ass for you.”
“That’s a plan,” Graham responded and patted his cheek. “Did this help—me being closer to you? Because you seem a little calmer now.”
“It helped,” Dean admitted. “How do you feel about being in Keller’s experiment?”
“I’m pretty excited actually. I was never tested…” He trailed off. “You know, right?”
“Yeah, Graham, I know what the research is. I don’t know the names of the participants and I didn’t know you were in it until you said.”
“Right.” Graham sighed. “Okay, so I was never tested because my parents didn’t want me to end up in the government’s care and there was some concern that it might happen. We didn’t have a strong pride in the area and my mother was a latent Guide. She never came online. When I got into the Air Force—I refused to sign the waiver to be tested. I was a little surprised to find out that Keller had tested everyone on the expedition but once she explained why it was pretty cool.”
“So you’re fine with it?” Dean edged.
“Yeah. I mean there is no use being an asshole about it when they are just trying to figure out what will happen to us and if the city is affecting us. My ATA gene has already been activated when it wasn’t on Earth. We don’t know if the city turned it on for me or not. I haven’t been near the control chair.”
“Maybe just being in close proximity to a lot of Ancient tech did it.” Dean ran his hands down Graham’s back, cupped his ass, and then pulled him closer. “Is this freaking you out?”
“No way, this is pretty much a fantasy come true except for the part where I’m not getting fucked. You’re really hot, Bates. I love it when you yell at the Marines.” Simmons blushed when Dean lifted one eyebrow in surprise. “My lab/office is right above the South Pier where you do morning PT. I watch you and the Marines every morning. It’s almost better than coffee.”
Dean blushed and sighed. “I think you’re too much for me to handle on top of everything else.”
“Oh yeah?” Graham leaned in let his forehead rest on Bates’. He sighed. “Sentinel.”
“Guide,” Dean responded in the soft tone. “At least I know what I’m dealing with now. Why couldn’t I get a nice, quiet, unassuming previously straight Guide?”
“Because you would’ve eaten him for breakfast,” Graham admonished. “I wondered if I would be one of the ones… when Keller said there were only three latent Sentinels on the city I was really disappointed. I didn’t think I’d get one. I never thought in a million years I’d get you.” He leaned in further and pressed his mouth gently against Dean’s.
Dean stiffened underneath him—rigid mostly with shock and the desire to both push the man away and bring him closer. In the end, he just opened his mouth and pulled the scientist to him tight at the first taste of his Guide’s mouth.
After a few long minutes, Graham lifted his head. “Besides—you definitely don’t want a Guide who is as straight and narrow as you. The sex would be a disaster from minute one. I think we have the potential to have some really hot, sort of mean, rough sex up against the wall and I’m really looking forward to it.”
He reached down between and slid his hand right into Dean’s swimming trunks. Graham smiled a little when Bates hissed and wrapped his hand around the hard cock he found. “Let’s take care of this so we can both get some sleep.”
“Jesus. Fuck. Graham.” Bates exhaled sharply. “We could have a platonic relationship, you know.”
“Right.” Graham agreed with an easy smile. “I can tell you’re all about a platonic relationship.”
Bates pulled him close with a growl and shut his smart mouth with the strategic placement of his own.
* * * *
John relaxed on his bed and ran his hand down his Guide’s back. “Nature does provide.”
Rodney shifted closer in his sleep, half-awake he asked, “You ‘kay?”
“Perfect,” John murmured. “Sleep. You have a long day of bitching and life changing discovery tomorrow.”
“Fucker,” Rodney muttered against John’s shoulder and relaxed back into sleep.
John laughed softly and reached out to touch each of his Sentinels—the ones that were asleep barely stirred but Lorne who was in the control room reacted to the touch with a little push of his own. John knew he wasn’t doing it on purpose, because he had no empathic gifts of his own. He figured it was just a natural response to having his mind touched by someone other than his Guide.
John slid out of the bed and went in search of his clothes. He needed to have a conversation with Jennifer and he knew she was on duty in the infirmary.
* * * *
“Is this city changing them without the chair?” John demanded roughly from the doorway of Jennifer’s smallish infirmary office. “Why are you in this cubby hole? We couldn’t find you something bigger?”
“I have a bigger office down the hall. This is just the space we are using for the doctor actually on duty in the infirmary.” Jennifer motioned him inside and relaxed when he shut the door. “And I don’t know. I know that several people who didn’t have active ATA genes the first time I tested—have them now. I don’t know if that is a response to something they touched or just being in the city itself. Still testing. The best results will come from testing the people who have no real access to any of the objects in the labs—then only the city would be able to affect them.”
John nodded. “Okay, pay close attention to Dr. Graham Simmons. He’s probably close to coming online.”
“He’s ATA gene activated in the last week,” Jennifer admitted. “It’s in the new report I’m filing in the morning. It wasn’t active five days ago but it’s active today as of the last blood tests. I questioned him about his activities in the lab but he’s mostly been on the main land with the Athosians.”
“And flying around in the Jumpers,” John pointed out dryly.
Jennifer blushed. “Right. Geez. I’m an idiot.”
“No, you’re an overworked genius.” John corrected. “Anyways—pay attention to him. He made a personal connection with Bates tonight so that’s pretty much accounted for the three latent Sentinels we have.”
“Provided that all three of them have the right connections,” Jennifer pointed out. “If they haven’t then we have the potential for a lot drama and heartbreak.”
John grimaced. “Let’s hope that instinct has given them the tools to make those decisions even when they weren’t aware because we don’t need that kind of drama out here.”
* * * *
It was the screaming that woke John completely—pulling him from his nearly automatic scan of the city. He left his quarters—half-dressed, barefooted, and wielding the first weapon he found on the way out the door—a carbon stainless steel k-bar that Ronon looked at covetously every time he saw it. The screaming wasn’t stopping—if anything it was worse, high pitched and absolutely horrific. The man was moving away from the occupants in the city—his breath catching in harsh sobs. John caught the edge of a door way and swung into a dark hallway on pure momentum. He could hear the others moving with him—alerted by his own response but Ronon was the closest and he was a full minute behind him.
He saw it from distance—huge, moving with an unnatural speed. Chuck Campbell saw John first and did what any mundane would do in the face of a near feral Sentinel and a Wraith—he fainted. Sheppard hit the Wraith soldier at a dead run—slamming his k-bar into the back of its head as they both hit the ground. He jerked the knife free of the skull—spraying blood, grey matter, and shattered bone across the floor of the hall and shoved it into the base of the Wraith’s neck—jerking to the left and to then to the right until all of the bones in the thing’s neck broke free.
John rolled off the dead Wraith with a furious exhale of breath and barely acknowledged the herd of people heading his way. He wiped blood on his sleep pants and went to Chuck. Without a single hesitation, he ripped the kid’s shirt open down the front and went slack with relief at the smooth, pale skin that greeted him. Sheppard let his body rest against the wall and slid down. Adrenalin and fury pumped in his blood as he closed his eyes and forced himself to push it down and away.
Bates squatted down in front of him. “You blurred on the security screens.”
John swallowed hard. “I have enhanced adrenalin response. I need…”
“McKay is coming,” Bates assured.
He was replaced by Cameron Mitchell who was silent for a few seconds before he put both of his hands in John’s and helped his Alpha off the floor. “That was righteous.”
John laughed softly and just sighed because suddenly Rodney was there—sleep mussed, dressed in sleep pants and a t-shirt—wrapping his arms around him. John shuddered and buried his face against his Guide’s neck briefly to center himself. After a few near silent minutes, he disengaged and cleared his throat. His fingers were still clenched in McKay’s shirt but his pupils were back to normal and his heart was slowing down gradually.
Jennifer looked up from Chuck’s prone form. “No physical damage as much as I can tell. I think he’s had one hell of a fright and we’ll keep him in the infirmary for the next twenty-four hours.” She motioned some of her people to come to her with a gurney. “He isn’t in on my list, John. How or why did he end up out here and find a Wraith?”
They were at least two miles from the city center—the base of the entire operation. It wasn’t a big distance for a city that was nearly sixteen square miles with nearly seventeen towers full to the brim with dangerous, stupid things to discover.
“He managed to get from his quarters to here without a transporter between my perimeter check and yours, Sheppard.” Ronon nudged the dead Wraith with his foot. He reached down and pulled the knife from the neck—scraping against the broken bones as he did so. “Excellent kill.” He glanced down the hall at the squad of Marines who had responded to the alarm raised by Sheppard’s feral sprint across the city. “You guys come get this body. You’ve got to have some geeks who want it. It’s probably ten thousand years old at least.”
“Why do you say that?” Jennifer asked as she pushed past them with Chuck on a gurney.
“Because he’s probably been hibernating in this city since the Ancients left,” Ronon answered.
John leaned against the wall. “And we didn’t notice him because he was hibernating? How did…” He looked at the still unconscious Chuck and looked at Rodney. “Is he a sensitive mundane?”
“It’s entirely possible. He’s from a Guide family—I had Jennifer check his results twice to make sure he wasn’t latent like the others we’ve found in the city. He doesn’t even have any genes for the city to activate. It skipped him entirely.” Rodney ran his hand down John’s side in a gesture of comfort. “But mundane sensitives—are just like psychics. They can’t be measured, tested, or confirmed. The only time we know when a mundane truly is sensitive is when they blow during a huge empathic event. Then it’s normally too late for them because they have no mental shields—no innate defenses against the psychic pain being projected on them by someone else.”
“Or something else,” John murmured and stared at the Wraith corpse. “He was screaming like this thing was trying to eat him alive and it hadn’t even touched him. It was ripping his mind to pieces so the poor kid couldn’t run—couldn’t evade capture.”
“You okay?” Ronon questioned.
“Yeah, I just don’t think I’ve killed it nearly enough.” John glanced from the corpse to the knife. “You can keep it.”
Ronon looked at the k-bar in his hand for a few seconds and shook his head. “We should put it in the gateroom. On Sateda—when an Alpha Sentinel made his first up close and personal kill of a Wraith—the knife he used to do it would be buried at the foot our gate.”
* * * *
The knife ended up mounted on the center of the gate itself after Keller cleaned it so thoroughly it almost didn’t even smell like steel anymore. John felt his Guide come down the stairs behind him and sit down directly behind him a few steps up. He leaned back into the comfort of Rodney’s body with a soft sigh, his gaze focused the knife.
“Primitive,” Rodney murmured against the shell of John’s ear.
“Makes my blood rush every time I see it.”
“Effective,” Rodney continued and smiled against the skin when John laughed.
John sobered quickly. “We have to suspend all off world travel and search this fucking city top to bottom. Then I want to do a thorough scan of the planet—every square mile of land and ocean as deep as we can go. If there are more of these fucking things here—we have to find them and kill them before they sense us and wake up.”
Rodney nodded his agreement. “I’ll make a plan and get my minions started on a plan. They’ll be all for it—every single one of them dreams about taking over a planet.”
John grinned, his eyes intent on the knife. “I’ve never enjoyed a kill more.”
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