The corridors all looked the same to her; muted colors interspersed with bubbling columns leading onto another corridor filled with the strange yet familiar square panels, and then back to more of the metallic blues, gold and greens brightened only by flashes of vibrant orange, yellow and red in the geometric stain-glass of the occasional door or window. Finally, she had to admit that maybe she should have gone left at that second junction rather than right but she'd never been that good at recalling directions. Unless she should happen to stumble across someone then she figured her best move was to find a transporter and let it take her back to the populated areas of the city.
A murmur of distant voices caught her attention and she whispered, "Thank God!" but when she reached the corner she found no one in either direction. She frowned because the voices were closer, whispering at the outer edge of her hearing, enticing her onwards down the left hand corridor. She stopped when she realized it was a dead end, confused because the voices were coming from ahead of her still. Slowly, she moved forward and reached out, her hands sliding over the warm, metallic wall looking for a seam or a control panel but seeing and feeling nothing obvious until... A door slid open smoothly before her, the voices louder within. She poked her head through the doorway and looked into a large, seemingly empty room.
"Hello? Is there anyone there?" Soft, familiar laughter drew her across the threshold. "Rodney?"
She took several more steps inside before realizing the room was far smaller that it had appeared from outside. A shiver raced down her spine and she turned, deciding to retrace her steps in the hope of finding the transporter, but the doorway was gone.
The voices died away, leaving her alone in the silence of a long disused room.
"Rodney?" She pressed her hands where the door had been moments before. Frantically she began to smash her fists against the wall. "Rodney! Colonel Sheppard! Anyone! Please help me!"
The search went on for days but, just like Jinto all those years earlier, Jennifer had stepped into a transporter and simply disappeared, except no amount of fine tuning brought up a life sign outside of the main areas, and all those dots visible on the scanner were swiftly identified. Rodney had tried everything, including a scan by the Daedalus from orbit using the Asgard technology but to no avail.
Eventually Woolsey insisted that they had to scale back the search and Rodney was told to accept that Jennifer was either dead or no longer in Atlantis. Another month passed and Rodney gave up too, moving on with his life as he fell back into the old pre-Jennifer routine, finding comfort in his work and with John. They resumed their chess and golf games, previously abandoned when Jennifer demanded more couple time, but moved the games to the solitude of Rodney's room so they could talk more privately as they played. Often, they finished the evening by slowly catching up on the movies and TV shows they had missed while in another galaxy. They went back to sharing at least two meal breaks a day, sometimes as a team but more often just the two of them, mostly breakfast before the daily round of meetings and then later John would pull him from the labs for dinner.
On one particular evening, many months later, the lab door opened behind him but Rodney had come to recognize the light footsteps. He moaned as John came up behind him and began to massage his stiff and aching shoulders from where he'd been hunched over his laptop for most of the day. Strong fingers dug into the knots at the base of his neck and he groaned, tense muscle loosening until he relaxed back against John's firm, warm body.
"Dinner?" He asked, suddenly aware of the time.
John smiled softly. "How about we eat while watching a movie."
Looking back, Rodney would call that their first official date, starting the evening with good food and decent Canadian beer, and somehow ending it between the sheets of John's new, larger bed. It had taken five years but, finally, Rodney discovered that everything he had ever wanted was wrapped up in the very male, handsome package of one Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, and he never looked back.
Jennifer was forgotten.
On the first anniversary of Keller's disappearance, Lorne wandered down a corridor in one of the smaller residential spires to the south of the main tower, whistling softly. No one ever came here for it had taken a major asteroid hit during the flight from the Replicators, making it unsafe for habitation especially when there were other towers closer to the center that had not suffered so greatly. As he walked along the empty corridors, passing bubbling columns and bronzed panels, he thought about this amazing city and her two favorite sons, openly together once the stupidity of DADT was finally lifted.
Sheppard was the best commanding officer he'd ever had and, like a good 2IC, Lorne knew it fell to him to ensure Sheppard remained happy, and he had discovered early on that Rodney McKay made his CO happy.
He turned a corner and carried on until he reached the dead end. Gently, Lorne pressed his hand against the hidden door panel and smiled, patting it twice before turning away.
As he walked slowly back towards the transporter, Atlantis darkened the section behind him, and if he did happen to notice how the section ahead shone much brighter than usual as he passed through, then he simply put it down to Atlantis showing her approval.