Rodney’s medical testing took place while John lay recovering in an isolation ward. Atlantis erected shields around him to allow his mind to heal and further his training. His gifts of telepathic interaction had exceeded her estimations. John had become the human equivalent of a lie detector.
In a moment, he could gather information at will, invading a person’s mind with military precision. It was a startlingly complicated gift but he found it very easy to control with everyone he touched except for Rodney. The weakness of that galled him. His emotional attachment to Rodney had overridden his own ethics.
By the time Rodney was ready for the Citizen Induction Center two days later, John was on his feet and pretending everything was absolutely normal so he could at least observe. The mental shields Ally had taught him to build in the CIC were flexible and easy to erect.
If he didn’t think about it—it was almost as if he’d always had the gifts the gene therapy had given him. Keeping himself out of everyone’s head was pretty easy to do as long as he wasn’t around McKay. He’d done his level best to give his friend the privacy he deserved but more often than not, that meant he couldn’t even stay in the same room with him for a long period of time.
The most startling part of the whole thing had been when he’d gone to shave and had found himself looking at a face he hadn’t seen in probably five or ten years. He’d known going in that the therapy would repair cell damage—reverse the obvious signs of aging but knowing it and looking at it were two entirely different things.
It was sexist, but they’d determined that Elizabeth would go last of the three of them—giving them two test runs to make sure it was safe. After Elizabeth, Carson and Radek would be offered the choice. They knew that Carson wanted it—wanted to control his domain and do the best he could for his patients and that required at least the advanced ATA genome therapy. Radek had helped with the procedures, had run diagnostics on equipment and been on hand as much as possible but he hadn’t made any comments about the therapy for himself.
Rodney was of the opinion that the Czech scientist wouldn’t ask for it—would consider asking the city for anything very rude and John didn’t disagree with that. Radek had always treated Atlantis with gentle, reverent hands but now—with proof of her life and sentience in their everyday lives he was even more respectful. Ally seemed to dote on the man; she always knew where he was and guarded his safety zealously to the point of annoyance at times.
Rodney’s training lasted as long as John’s did and when he emerged from the chamber, he was a Citizen of Atlantis. Carson and Ally had worked on the system between John and Rodney’s induction so that the chair provided vital fluids necessary to keep the subject hydrated and healthy during the process.
“How are you, lad?”
“Toes are a bit tingly,” Rodney murmured. “Results, Radek?”
“Telekinesis is off the chart, empathy is low, telepathy and healing are on par with Colonel Sheppard’s results.” Radek hovered a few feet away from him, a tablet PC in hand. “How do you feel?”
“Brand new,” Rodney murmured. “I feel new.”
“You look years younger,” Radek tilted his head and looked him over. “Much like Colonel Sheppard did when he emerged.”
Rodney nodded. “Yeah. Atlantis said there would be some changes.”
Radek nodded. “Do you…” He took a deep breath. “Colonel Sheppard seemed off balance when he first emerged. You have the same level of telepathic ability that he does.”
“But my empathy is lower?”
“Yes, significantly,” Radek returned dryly. “Not so different than you were before perhaps, except with a little more hair.”
Rodney laughed at his friend’s attempt at making light of the situation and ran his fingers through his hair. That was freaky. “Maybe that combination is the reason John is so in tuned to people’s motives and the like.”
Radek nodded. “Yes, perhaps. Heightmeyer is devising tests for his abilities as well as for you and Elizabeth.”
“And you,” Rodney murmured. He watched Radek flush with pleasure that he would never acknowledge. “You have to know you will be invited as well, Radek.”
“I assumed most of the city occupants would be invited in some form or another,” Radek admitted. “She needs us as much as we need her and that requires gene level access for most of the population. As to how many will be given the advanced genome… that remains to be seen.”
* * * *
“People are wondering why we haven’t made contact with Earth now that we have a full ZPM.” Elizabeth turned and looked at John. “I don’t know how to tell them that unless we have something concrete to offer them—they simply don’t care what happens to the expedition.”
John grimaced at the hurt he felt radiating off of her. It had been two weeks since they’d come back to the city with a full ZPM. “We don’t know that for certain, Elizabeth.”
“Yes, we do.” Elizabeth sat back in her chair. “Ally, tell Colonel Sheppard what you told me this morning.”
The avatar appeared to the left of Weir in a prim little business suit, glasses perched on her nose, and sitting in a chair. John grinned at the image. She had a habit of changing her appearance to fit the task requested of her. He’d seen her in the Jumper Bay in overalls and pigtails the day before teaching a few Marines basic Jumper maintenance.
“Dr. McKay is on his way; should I wait for him?”
John tensed but then forced himself to relax. He’d watched Rodney leave the induction chamber from the observation deck and knew the man had recovered much more quickly from his training than he himself had.
“Yes.” Elizabeth nodded and stood up. She walked to the window and looked out over the control room. “Ally thinks that only a little over one third of us will qualify for the advanced genome due to physical limitations. It’s not great news but the better news is she believes everyone in the expedition will at least be able to take the basic gene therapy.”
“If we don’t get more people from Earth; I think we need to start looking around this galaxy for people to invite into the fold.” John watched her absorb the words, take them in and make sense of what he said and what no one had said aloud, yet.
Elizabeth nodded and then went back to her chair as Rodney entered the room. The door shut behind him. “How do you feel, Rodney?”
“Different. New.” Rodney frowned as he sat down. “I want to do some physical training and the like but I figured that could wait until after we’ve made the offer to the rest of the population.”
“Has anyone said anything to you, John?” Elizabeth turned as she asked the question, focusing her attention entirely on him.
“People are curious,” John murmured. “They understand we’ve both had the advanced gene therapy at Atlantis’ direction but they aren’t afraid of us or what has happened. Mostly they are curious and perhaps a little envious. These people are our family, Elizabeth. At most, they want it, and at the least, they are relieved that some of us are getting it. I hate to say this, but the people who couldn’t have handled this are already long gone. The people we have left alive are the ones that can adapt and roll with change quickly.”
She nodded her agreement. “Very well. Ally, report on the status of Earth.”
Ally adjusted her glasses and Rodney chuckled. She sent him a snotty look but softened it with a smile afterward. “Earth is currently experiencing an increase in global temperature resulting in a severe loss of glacial mass at both poles. Long term, the situation is dangerous. To that end, the research and defense station I left on Earth has started to generate reports and solutions for the problem. Power is limited within the station. Their power source, which you call a ZPM, is at twenty percent but they have less than a thousand drones.”
“You can contact the outpost on Earth?” Rodney paused and held up a hand. “Wait. What is the outpost? Is it your offspring?”
Ally paused briefly, her avatar flickering slightly as she processed his question. Her obvious distress was a surprise. “No, Theseus and I were not allowed to reproduce for many millions of years. It was only after the Wraith became a threat that we were given the materials we needed to create offspring. The outpost on Earth is simply a very advanced structure. We built it before we left Earth and the Alterans obviously upgraded the technology within it when they returned.”
“Right.” Rodney took a deep breath. “So you can communicate with it?”
“Yes, I have a subspace communication network and communicate with all of my outposts, labs, and defenses stations in this galaxy and the galaxy you call the Milky Way.” Ally waved a hand and a holographic display of Earth formed in front of her. “There is heavy fighting in the Middle East, oil reserves on the planet are depleting at an alarming rate, and the atmospheric conditions are not ideal for a human population to remain in residence. Current population is estimated at 7.9 billion. Stargate Command has two ships with Asgard hyperdrives and a third in construction. There was another ship—different than the two they currently have in operation but it was destroyed.”
Rodney’s jaw tightened. “They have two ships? They could have come out here at any time to help us? When we called the first time? They had a ship—that could’ve helped us?”
“The second ship was commissioned six months ago,” Elizabeth murmured. “So, yes, they could have helped us. They are fighting some kind of war as far as we tell—off planet. Ally’s defense post can’t get information out of the SGC because it isn’t a true AI. It can only gather information from the public sources at this point and access sensory data. But if for some reason Sam Carter had to go down to the outpost and plugged in one of her computers…”
Rodney nodded. “Ally, can you convince the outpost to break in such a way that would it would require Colonel Carter’s personal attention?”
“Yes.” Ally nodded and her head tilted slightly as she started to communicate with various systems. “They’re no reports of enemy vessels near the planet; we can risk taking the weapons platform offline. I can keep it offline until it gains the attention of this Colonel Carter.”
“Will you be able to gather intel without them knowing?”
“I’m creating a program to do just that. Even if she finds it on her machine, she will believe it to be a security protocol from the outpost. It will leave nothing behind once it enters the network at Stargate Command.”
“Good.” Elizabeth nodded, her eyes dark. She didn’t feel even remotely guilty about spying on Earth and one glance towards John and Rodney confirmed they didn’t either. When she thought about all the people they’d lost—people who would’ve given anything to be able to return to Earth—it sickened her.
“They won’t be interested in sending a ship out here; so we need to make it easy for them to send us supplies and people. But we don’t want to give away our ZPM,” John said and frowned.
Ally sniffed indignantly. “It’s not as if I can’t make more.”
They all three turned to look at her. “What?” Rodney asked, his voice a little high pitched.
Her gaze darted between the three of them. “I thought you understood… I apologize for not being clear. With the new ZPM installed, my nanite labs are functioning at twenty-five percent efficiency. I can produce one fully charged ZPM a month at that level. Within the next four months I’ll have full power once more. Theseus designed the ZPMs and the stardrive when it became clear that the Alterans wanted to leave Earth. Before that we were powered with geothermal energy plants on the ocean floor.”
“We probably don’t want to tell Earth that we can build ZPMs,” Rodney muttered. “They’ll come out here and try to gut the city.”
“They should be informed that I’m very capable of defending Theseus even at my current power levels,” Ally said, her voice icy.
“It is in our best interest if we keep Atlantis’ current abilities under wraps as much as possible.” John shot the avatar a look and Ally just smiled back at him. “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.”
“Yeah,” Rodney said. “So, how about we open a wormhole and send them the one we have that only has a twenty percent charge? It would be enough for them to open a wormhole and send us some supplies. Even if they trade it out with the one they have at the outpost… we could get some people and supplies out of them.”
John nodded. “Perhaps, but they could also try to replace me. My field promotion to Colonel was done by a civilian and if they have the chance to change the situation out here militarily they might take it.”
Elizabeth shook her head. “No, if they are involved in some heavy off-world conflict themselves, they aren’t going to waste a high level officer out here… especially since they’d need to send one with ‘gate experience. You might get a new second in command however, which would relieve some of the pressure off of Ford and Bates.”
“New officers would be a help long term but short term they could be nothing but problems.” John frowned thinking about Aiden Ford and Dean Bates—both of whom he’d come to depend on heavily. Bates had been enlisted and one of the first things John had done was promote him to Captain. Essentially making the combat veteran his second in command. Ford hadn’t liked it but he’d adjusted after a few weeks. “Still, it’s a risk we should take. We need infantry and even if I start recruiting from our allies today—it would be six months before I had field ready troops.”
“So, let’s get Elizabeth in the CIC and after that—we’ll contact Earth for supplies and offer them the mostly empty ZPM.”
Ally made a small sound that was clearly designed to garner their attention. When they all focused on her, she spoke. “I would prefer to have all of the population be offered the gene therapy before you contact Earth again. I believe it would make them feel safer, more in control of their destiny, and ultimately better about their situation if all of you are ‘on the same page’.”
She shrugged when they all stared at her, shocked. “Dr. Heightmeyer and I have had several long conversations about how I can best serve the remaining expedition members. It is my goal to provide a home for you and to that end we must all feel like family.”
* * * *
Rodney hesitated and then with a growl waved his hand over the chimes on John’s door. It opened a few seconds later. Glare firmly in place, he walked in and thought the door shut behind him. “Look, I can’t help the way I feel. I never intended on telling you because your friendship means everything to me. That being said, I never thought you’d be so much of an asshole that you’d avoid me completely.”
John closed the book he was reading and carefully set it aside. “You have no secrets from me, Rodney. Not a single one.”
“I know. I figured that much out when I realized you wouldn’t look me in the eye.” Rodney waved both hands in defeat and dropped down into a chair near Sheppard’s bed. “Damn it, John. You’re my best friend and I… Christ, I know you aren’t interested in me that way but do you have to act so fucking offended?”
“I’m not offended that you’re in love with me!” John hissed. “Fuck.” He rolled off the bed. “Since I woke up from in the Induction chamber, I made it my business to meet with every single person in the expedition, Rodney. And you were the only one that I didn’t have enough self-control with to stop at a surface scan. I dug as deep into your head as I could the first chance I got. No one else on this city even tempts me to do such a thing. I don’t even know how you can want to remain my friend after that!”
“John.” Rodney frowned.
“No, please, do you have any idea what it was like to take a trip in your head? It lasted seconds… just seconds and it changed my entire… I don’t even look at the universe the same anymore.”
“I’m sorry,” Rodney murmured.
“No, no, don’t be sorry. I’m sorry. But don’t be sorry you changed that for me. It’s beautiful – I didn’t even know how beautiful everything was until I saw it through your eyes. But, it doesn’t change the fact that I invaded your privacy and took information from you that you never intended on giving me. I took from you, violated your mind. I don’t know how to fix that.”
“John, I trust you.”
“You shouldn’t!” John snapped. “Jesus, Rodney.” He dropped down onto the bed. “I even cheated myself.”
“What?” Rodney frowned. “I don’t understand.”
“I’m so in love with you, McKay, it makes me crazy sometimes. And I know how you feel about me—so there is no build up, no anticipation, no—it’s all just there.”
“But you’re straight!” Rodney snapped.
“Not so much,” John returned dryly. “And frankly, you’re about the only person on the entire expedition who thinks so. Most of them are pretty convinced that the two of us have had a secret, torrid love affair since we met in Antarctica.”
Rodney sputtered. “I haven’t had secret, torrid sex in…well…fuck… never. I’ve never had secret, torrid sex.”
John looked him over. “Have I told you how hot you look? Cause, damn.”
“I know.” Rodney chuckled. “You should see my ass. I could bounce a quarter off it. I forgot how great it was being this young. Carson thinks I regressed physically back to around 30.”
“Me, too.” John wet his bottom lip. “You know I think I could muster up some hot, filthy, torrid, secret, gay sex if you’re interested.”
“I thought I was supposed to be mad at you and feeling all violated because you took a ten second vacation in my head.”
“I think blow jobs make for excellent apologies.” John slid off the bed and onto his knees. “I can give the kind of apology you’ll think about for years.”
Rodney touched his face as soon as John got close enough and tilted his head just a little so their eyes met. “I know I don’t need to say it—I know you see it all when you touch me but I do love you, John. I love you more than I’ve ever loved anything in my entire life.” He watched Sheppard’s green eyes darken with emotion and pleasure, a light pink staining his cheeks. Rodney rubbed his thumb over soft full lips and took a deep breath. “You’re my everything, John, and I would have spent my whole life at your side as just your friend. I would have forced myself to be content with that.”
John reached out, cupped his hips and pulled him right out of the chair and into his lap. Their lips met in a furious crush, strong hands clutching and demanding everything from each other. He settled back on his legs and urged Rodney’s shirt up as quick and impatient hands made a grab at his belt. They struggled for a few seconds before John pulled Rodney close again—urging his legs around his waist and then stood up from the floor.
“Show off,” Rodney muttered and then just laughed when John dropped him down on the bed and covered him with his own body. “This position isn’t going to help us get naked either.”
“We got all night,” John said and nuzzled against his jaw. “And I know this gay thing is mostly theoretical for you.”
“Don’t treat me like some shy virgin. I’ve had plenty of sex…” Rodney trailed off with a soft groan as John clenched his teeth on his neck. “John.”
“I’m not treating you like some shy virgin. First, you’re not shy. Sometimes you’re bad at social situations but it isn’t because your shy, it’s because you don’t give a fuck. Second, you haven’t been a virgin since you were 15. Third, your high school girlfriend was a complete and total freak—and a pedophile. Just how old was she?” John demanded roughly.
“It was college and she was twenty-three,” Rodney admitted with a self-satisfied smirk. “But she was a freak and I was one lucky geek.” He grew serious. “If you aren’t treating me like a virgin—what are you doing?”
“I’m treating you like someone who matters,” John murmured as he shifted to his knees. “Because you do matter.” John pushed Rodney’s t-shirt upward and smiled when McKay lifted off the bed enough to allow him to pull it over his head. “God, look at you. So hot.” He leaned down and flicked his tongue over one pink nipple.
“Did you want me before?” Rodney asked quietly. “When I was getting old, soft around the middle, and losing my hair?”
John lifted his head and settled down on top of him. “You really can’t see into my head the way I can yours, can you?”
Rodney shook his head. “No, it’s like you’ve got this wall.” He touched John’s face. “You’re beautiful.”
John kissed him again, softly and with all of the emotion he didn’t think he could fully express. Finally, he lifted his head. “I’ve always wanted you. I don’t remember when I didn’t. My world was black and white—mostly white before I met you. I let myself get lost in Antarctica—lost in anger and grief. But then I met you and every moment since has been vivid and…” He blushed. “Blue.” He smoothed one of Rodney’s eyebrows with his thumb. “I love you so much.”
Rodney smirked. “I think that’s the most you’ve ever said to me at one time.”
“Fuck you,” John muttered and smacked McKay’s thigh as he lifted up to pull off his own t-shirt. He quirked an eyebrow when Rodney shivered a little. “Looks like you’re a bit of a freak, too.”
“Is that a problem?”
“God, no.” John tossed his t-shirt aside and then pulled his dog tags off. He dropped them on the floor beside his bed. “I’ll try anything twice just to make sure I know how I feel about it.”
Rodney trailed his fingers down the center of John’s chest and then spread his legs. “Come down here.”
John slid back down and kissed him carefully. “I’m sorry.”
“For what?” Rodney questioned, his fingers drifting down John’s side.
“How hurt you’ve been these last few days—I didn’t know. I was doing everything I could do to not get in your head again,” John murmured as he nuzzled against Rodney’s jaw.
“It’s okay—you can take a ride in my head anytime you like.” Rodney curled one leg up around John and sighed when the soldier settled fully on top of him.
John relaxed against him and found his mouth for another kiss. Rodney’s hands were impatient on his body—moving, stroking, sliding into his pants to clutch at his ass. John broke the kiss with a laugh. “For a man who’s had one hand job from a guy in a closet in Siberia—you’re very comfortable trying to get in my pants.”
“I’ve wanted in your pants since I set eyes on you,” Rodney muttered. “Stop playing hard to get. I did the brave thing, you know. I came over here and made you talk to me when I thought you hated me and you were going to kick my ass for the gay thing. The least you could do is suck my cock.”
John grinned and then without another word slid down Rodney’s body. He made quick work of his belt and then unbuttoned his BDUs. Sitting back on his heels, he jerked off Rodney’s shoes and socks—tossing them in different directions. Rodney helpfully lifted his hips when John worked his pants and boxers down over his already erect cock and down his legs. McKay laughed when the clothes were tossed aside just as carelessly as his shoes had been.
John ran his hands down Rodney’s thighs with a groan. “God, Rodney.”
He ran the tips of his fingers over the silky skin of McKay’s balls and then leaned down to suck on them. John rolled them on his tongue gently as he shouldered his way between Rodney’s thighs and pressed his new lover’s legs forward out of his way. Rodney shivered under the attention and groaned when John licked the length of his dick with one wet swipe of his tongue.
“Fuck, John,” Rodney gasped as Sheppard sucked the head of his cock into his mouth. His fingers tangled in John’s hair briefly. “Why aren’t you naked?”
John released McKay’s cock with a soft popping sound and left the bed. He jerked off his socks and shimmied out of his track pants and boxers in one move. Rodney reached out for him and pulled him back into the bed the second he could. John shuddered as he slid against Rodney’s warm body and they settled on the bed together. Their mouths met in a heated kiss. John rubbed his hard cock against the soft skin of Rodney’s hip and moaned into his mouth as McKay started to shift underneath him.
Rodney spread his legs wide and shivered when John immediately settled between them. “Fuck me. Fuck me.”
John groaned and lifted his mouth from McKay’s. “You can’t say shit like that in my head.”
McKay lifted one eyebrow in query and then he pulled John back down to kiss him some more. “I put my fingers in my ass when I jack off.”
John moaned softly and slid one arm under Rodney. “You’re a filthy bastard, McKay.”
Rodney laughed against his mouth and sighed when John shifted to his knees. He used one foot to rub John’s thigh as Sheppard moved to the right and pulled out a tube of lube from the bedside table. “A few fingers aren’t anything like a cock, ya know.”
“I know,” Rodney murmured and looked at John’s cock—jutting thick and hard from his body with interest. “I considered making myself a dildo last year but I couldn’t figure out how to do it without involving other people.”
John grinned. “Do you like fingers in your ass? Does it get you off?”
“Yeah, the first time I did it—I came so hard I almost passed out,” Rodney murmured and wet his bottom lip as John slicked up several fingers. “This is going to make me come—your fingers, I mean.”
“I’m still going to fuck you,” John responded and grinned when McKay nodded his agreement. “Maybe I’ll make you come and then fuck you until you get hard again.”
“You make the best plans,” Rodney murmured. “Suck me, please.”
“Yeah,” John agreed. “I can do that.”
He nuzzled McKay’s balls as he moved onto his stomach so he could run his slick fingers over Rodney’s entrance. He pressed one finger in as he sucked the head of Rodney’s cock into his mouth. John groaned as Rodney shifted under him and rocked on his invading finger. It was easy to add a second finger and he started to twist them as he sucked as much of McKay’s cock into his mouth as he could. The plump, tender head brushed against the back of his throat and Rodney moaned softly.
“So good,” Rodney whispered, his voice slurring. “More.”
“So greedy, McKay.” John swallowed around the head of his cock and added a third finger. He twisted them to stretch the muscle and rocked against the cool cotton of his sheets as Rodney fucked himself on John’s fingers.
“I’m gonna come,” Rodney gasped and writhed against John. “Ah, fuck, John!”
John sucked harder and pressed his fingers in deep as he sucked down Rodney’s cum with a moan. He released Rodney’s cock reluctantly and pulled his fingers from his clenching asshole at the same time. He picked up the bottle of lube and slicked up his dick as he watched McKay sprawled out on the bed in front of him. “I’ve wanted this for a long time so I don’t know how long…” He blushed when Rodney grinned. “Shut it.”
“You are so pretty,” Rodney said with a grin.
John glared at him and then shoved Rodney’s legs back decisively. “You ever call me that again, McKay, and you’ll be sleeping on the couch for a year.”
“You have looked at yourself, right?” Rodney asked with one raised eyebrow and then gasped softly when John pushed the head of his cock into him without answering his question. “Right, you’re a very manly handsome.”
“That’s better,” John murmured and then rubbed Rodney’s thighs as he started to press steadily into him. “Relax—if you tense up this is going to hurt. I want this to be so good for you.” He rubbed his thumbs over McKay’s balls. “Yeah, that’s great. Just take it.” He took a deep breath as he pressed in as deep as he could until his pubic bone was flush against Rodney. “That’s perfect.”
He moved carefully—thrusting gently in and out until Rodney was moaning softly and his cock was half-hard on his stomach. John picked up the lube and poured some into his palm. Rodney lifted up against John and groaned when one of his legs was prodded up onto Sheppard’s shoulder. John wrapped his slick hand around Rodney’s cock and started to jack him slowly to match the easy penetration of his dick.
“Love you,” Rodney gasped and then came with a shudder.
John released Rodney’s cock—aware that his lover was getting too sensitive for the additional stimulation and then pressed into him one last time before coming himself. He rocked against Rodney’s body and let himself just get lost for a few seconds in the pleasure of orgasm.
He moved Rodney’s leg off his shoulder and then gently pulled from his body—watching McKay’s face for any indication of discomfort. John sighed when Rodney reached out for him and pulled him down on top of him. He rubbed his mouth against McKay’s jaw and relaxed on him. “Love you so much.”
* * * *
Miko Zelenka had set up camp in the observation deck above the CIC and after one cool eyed glare in Carson’s direction—no one had suggested that perhaps she’d be more comfortable in her quarters. They’d kept her fed and piled blankets on her whenever it was allowed during the twenty-two hours that Ally kept Radek in the CIC. When questioned about the length of time—Ally had simply said that Radek’s gifts were complicated.
Miko looked up from her cup of tea and regarded the city avatar with dark serious eyes. “I’ll never forgive you if he’s hurt by this process.” Her hand strayed to her flat belly. “I would have my child know her father.”
Ally moved closer and perched in a chair beside Miko. “You believe you’re having a girl? Dr. Beckett hasn’t done any tests to know that for certain.”
“A girl,” Miko murmured decisively. “I just know. I’ve always just known some things.” She inclined her head towards the CIC. “Perhaps some by product of the ATA gene I carry?”
“Maybe. We discovered that the children of gene carriers don’t receive the full genome from their parents but usually only get a single gene out of the genome. The gene varies from person to person. The reason you and Colonel Sheppard were so adept at handling my technology from the beginning was you both inherited genes from the advanced genome. I’ve been researching both of your genetics so that I may determine who your ancestors were.”
“The women in my mother’s family have had the ability to know things as far back as can be remembered,” Miko offered. “We call the gift precognition on Earth. Do you think I will develop a stronger gift after gene therapy?”
Ally paused to consider this and then nodded. “I don’t know for certain but it seems likely that the advanced therapy you’ll be offered will strengthen any mental gifts you might have.” She looked down into the CIC. “Radek is very concerned about protecting you and his offspring. He insists on extra lessons and training so that he may use his gifts to the best of his ability to protect you both.”
Miko blushed and nodded. “He is a good husband. Did the Ancients marry?”
“They formed pair bonds for various reasons but rarely for love. It’s been a joy to see so many loving couples together on the city,” Ally admitted. “Theseus finds the human capacity for passion very interesting. We’ve been reading romance novels from Earth. He’s fond of Pride and Prejudice.”
“It is a good book,” Miko agreed. “I could make a list of books I recommend?”
Ally nodded and then turned back to the CIC. “He’s ready to leave the chair. I’ve informed Dr. Beckett. Would you like to go below to greet him when he wakes?”
* * * *
The six day trip to Planet Naquadah, as Rodney had dubbed it, had officially become a Big Fucking Deal somewhere between Ally confiscating one of the Jumpers for modifications and the rest of the expedition being offered the gene therapy.
Bates had gone into the CIC and had come out an advanced genome carrier. He’d quickly got himself up to speed on flying the Jumper and then insisted John curtail his off world missions and pass the six day trip to him and a few Marines. John understood the man’s point of view—and was even a little overwhelmed by how much loyalty, trust, and ferocious protection radiated off Bates in his direction.
Aiden Ford had surprised them by refusing the advanced genome but consenting to the basic genome. He’d discussed his reasons with Ally and she’d been satisfied with his choice. John hadn’t dipped into his mind to find out why the younger man was so afraid of the advanced gene therapy, because the fear had practically poured off of him when Ally had offered it.
Out of the thirty-six soldiers and fifty-one civilians left on the city, forty-six had qualified for the advanced ATA genome and only Ford had requested the lighter version of the therapy. John thought he might have refused the gene therapy outright if it weren’t for his sense of duty. Ford loved Atlantis and he desperately wanted to protect her and their people and that dedication had been enough to help him push through his fears in order to take the Lantean legacy being offered.
It had taken six weeks to get everyone through the CIC and Ally had requested that John not leave the city until the entire population was taken care of. They’d put off any missions off-world unless they involved 911 supplies for the city or trade goods for themselves that they couldn’t easily do without. Miko Zelenka was the only person left on the city who had not received her gene therapy. Carson and Ally had decided that her pregnancy would be risked by such drastic changes in her physiology. But since she had a gene naturally—her life on the city hadn’t changed. In fact, if anything, Ally focused more of her attention on Miko than was strictly necessary.
The baby was a source of wonder for the AI who hadn’t gotten to interact directly with the Athosian children before their departure to the mainland. Radek had joked that he was afraid to sleep with his own wife because he feared the AI would determine he was a threat.
The command staff were in the conference room vehemently discussing the trip Ally wanted Rodney and John to take. Bates didn’t think it was a good idea for them both to leave the city at the same time, Elizabeth felt she needed McKay on the city to continue directing repairs, Radek thought he should go, Miko thought her husband should stay his ass at home, and Ally was giving them all the silent treatment.
McKay whistled sharply and they all stopped talking at once. “Okay, Ally has requested that John and I go on this mission. I think we can all agree that we owe both her and Theseus our consideration since they saved our asses from the Wraith. Theseus needs the naquadah, desperately, to repair and regenerate parts of his structures that were damaged by the Wraith, the Genii, and ten thousand years of neglect on the bottom of the ocean. It is our duty to provide for Atlantis the best that we can and that means as soon as Ally pulls that Jumper out of the NCL—John and I need to go through the gate and spend at least six days not killing each other traveling to another planet to figure out why the gate isn’t working. Sensors in the sector are barely responding to Ally’s pings—so it could be that the entire planet is gone.”
“And that concerns me a lot,” Bates snapped. “If there is someone out there that can blow up a planet…”
“Oh please,” Rodney waved him off. “I could blow up a planet. It isn’t even all that hard.” He paused and blushed when everyone but John turned to stare at him horror. “Well, I could.” He crossed his arms and lifted his chin. “I’m not saying I would—unless I was mightily provoked.”
John rocked back in his chair and smirked. “I could probably blow up one if I put my mind to it… and maybe a ZPM.” He sighed and concentrated on Bates. “Okay, I do realize you have a point and perhaps I shouldn’t be the one risking my ass out there but the main reason for that way of thinking no longer exists, Dean. You’re just as capable of using the chair in the defense of this planet as I am. In fact, we have forty-six people on this city that could rock out in it including Miko who hasn’t even gotten her therapy, yet.”
Bates huffed and then blurted out, “You’re the First Citizen.”
They all paused to consider that in silence. John shifted uncomfortably in his chair and cleared his throat. “Where did you… what?”
Bates blushed and averted his gaze. “It’s… when I was getting my training in the CIC—that’s how Theseus referred to you.”
“You interacted with Theseus while you were training in the CIC?” Rodney asked surprised.
“You didn’t?” John turned to him in surprise. “Really?”
Rodney frowned and turned his glare towards Ally. “Well?”
Ally’s image flickered slightly and then glanced upward towards the ceiling. “Theseus found the military minds that went into the CIC very interesting. His species were divided into castes—military purposes and scientific research. Theseus would’ve been in the military caste if his race hadn’t been brought to near extinction by the great enemy. He meant no insult, Dr. McKay, but he felt that many of the civilians would have found his presence in the CIC difficult to comprehend. He’s more than happy to interact with you at your leisure. He finds you… stimulating and amusing. That’s why…” She trailed off and glanced away. “That’s why he couldn’t let you die.”
“Let him die?” John demanded. “What are you talking about?”
Ally’s eyes darkened and the avatar shifted in the light spectrum in a way they’d never seen before—going almost transparent. “During the first year, Dr. McKay had a heart attack in his lab and lay dying on the floor. We knew it would be hours before anyone missed him and even if you’d found him immediately—his chances of survival were slim.”
“I thought…” Rodney took a deep breath. “I thought that was a dream.”
“We’re aware that you thought so,” Ally admitted. “It was for the best.”
“What did you do to him?” Elizabeth questioned, her voice subdued and shocked.
“They used nanites to repair my heart,” Rodney finally said. “It’s the only thing they could’ve done—the nanites would’ve used my own body for power. Do I still have them in my body? Are you hiding them on my medical scans?”
“No, of course not.” Ally frowned at him. “I would never leave nanites in a purely biological organism. After they completed the task, I recalled them from your body and they went dormant within the city structure. I had to use the repair nanites that are in place for Theseus’ maintenance so I wasn’t entirely sure they would work. The next day we pushed Dr. Beckett to schedule you a physical. He was receptive.”
“They came out of the floor,” Rodney murmured. “I didn’t even want to go barefooted for weeks after that. It was the most vivid nightmare I’ve ever…” He trailed off and sighed. “I guess thank you is in order.”
“Just returning the favor,” Ally admitted and then smiled. “I’ll let Dr. Beckett know to expect you for a scan after this meeting.”
John figured he was going to need some time to process all of that information in a way that didn’t involve screaming and hitting something. “It was before the first Wraith siege wasn’t it? When we were racing around trying to find a ZPM and Radek and Rodney were so hyped up on stimulants I thought they’d learn to fly without the benefit of wings.”
Ally inclined her head. “Yes, two days before the Wraith arrived.”
“So,” Radek said loudly. “We all should thank you. If Rodney had not been there when the Wraith came—we might have all died. It was his stupid idea to cloak the city and pretend we were blown up.”
“Yes, and what a horrifying plan that was,” Ally admitted dryly. “It’s a good thing that I wasn’t able to offer my own opinion about it.” She smiled when they all laughed but then she focused on John. “Theseus calls you the First Citizen because you were the first to enter the CIC and become a Lantean. The others never swore an oath of loyalty to us—never promised to keep us safe to the best of their ability to do so. We were tools to them and very little else. But from the very beginning you and your people were different. You can’t imagine what a relief it is to have you all here with us after sleeping for so long.”