Premeditation isn't really John's strong suit, but he's trying, because it's been an insane freaking week. He's barely left the conference room all week, and yeah, for the most part, his head's where it needs to be. Here, on Atlantis, on Earth. At the same time. He's not sure why it's so hard to get the equation to balance in his head. It's home but it's not, it's two homes canceling each other out.
At least in here, with the one window pointing out towards the ocean- the Pacific- it's possible to imagine that nothing's really changed. It's been three days, and it's not even real yet. Maybe it would help if he could get out of this damned meeting. It's the same one they've been having for hours, for days, and though his presence is a foregone conclusion, he's checked his attention at the conference room door.
Stuck in here, listening to Woolsey and O'Neill and the IOA swarm, he's had a lot of time to think. He just hasn't been able to get much by way of new data. He knows the stats, has all the reports, but there's nothing qualitative to balance it out. He can feel his head circling, always coming back around to the same point.
Outside of McKay and Lorne and Woolsey, none of whom have had more time outside this room than he himself has had, he really has no idea how his people are doing, and it's gnawing at him.
Unfortunately, it has little to do with the timeframes for the reassignment and reintegration of Atlantis expedition members, but Woolsey's clearing his throat, they're moving on to agenda item 28B, and his head's got to be back here in the room again, not up in the jumper bay, where Zelenka's crew is trying to assess the structural vulnerabilities created by Atlantis's crash landing- hopefully without killing themselves in the process. Not down in Teyla's quarters, where there's still a cot for a baby that's millions of light years away. Not down in the infirmary, which is probably exactly where Ronon isn't, anyway.
"Before reallocating our resources too far," he begins, not even needing to check his notes, but if he doesn't glance down at his tablet, he's going to start staring at his watch again. "We need to ensure that we've got enough personnel remaining on Atlantis to get the repairs done within the timeframe we want..."
They break for lunch- three hours, this time, because even Woolsey's looking ready to mutiny- and finally, John's able to make his escape. Walk the halls a while, convince himself that the floor doesn't feel any different underneath his feet, that the waves supporting the city are as strong as the ones he's used to.
Teyla looks tired, but she won't stand still, and John's been there. As long as she's busy, as long as she's working, she doesn't have to think. With everyone else stuck in bureacratic hell, she's stationed herself in the offices on the lowest deck of Atlantis, where the ferries are taking away as many people as they're bringing. In conversation, she only says San Francisco, never the mainland, and though she's always been one for clarity, it seems more deliberate than usual.
She says she's okay, but once she's finished orienting the newest additions to the city's population- another repair crew, at least they're not IOA- the welcoming smile drops from her face. There's another ferry coming out, it'll be docking in a few minutes, and even though John knows she'll have it together by the time the first of them start coming down the gangway, he pulls her into a quick hug.
"Three months," he promises her, pulling back to press his forehead against hers, because what he means is you won't need to keep our customs for long, we're going back, I promise.
Laughing, she pulls back with a determined look in her eye that hadn't been there a moment ago, and turns to watch the ferry draw near.
He hasn't seen Ronon since the first time he'd snuck out of the infirmary, and though Banks assures him- her eyes are a little wide, she seems worried that John's question's about to become an order that he hasn't even begun to string together- that she'd returned him to his assigned bed, she hasn't seen him since. Either have the doctors, but they're just a skeleton crew, now, and most of them haven't been here for more than two days. The worst of the expedition's injuries are being handled on the mainland- no, at the Oakland Naval Hospital, and the med staff had followed them en masse.
Ronon's newly assigned doctor seems nervous that he'd disappeared without being discharged, and John spends more time calming him down- it's not like the guy's attuned to their habits, after all- than getting any sort of information. He promises to send Ronon down the moment he finds him, and moves on.
"Everyone's okay," McKay'd assured him during the coffee break this morning that seems like it had happened years ago. "Jennifer wanted me to tell you," he'd said, holding up the data pad, showing John an email that he'd been too bleary-eyed to read. "She'll be coming back on one of the boats tomorrow."
He grabs a shower; the water pressure's wrong, but it's probably only in his head, and changes clothes because he'd been running late this morning, thanks to the interstellar jetlag that he hasn't yet shaken. Afterwards, he swings by Ronon's room, but it's a formality. He's not actually expecting to find him there. The gym and the mess are full of people, but half of them are strangers, and any other time, it would be liberating to pass through so quickly.
Enough of the city's systems are offline that the life signs detectors aren't working, but he doesn't really need them; it's the transporters being down that irritate him, because he knows exactly where he needs to go.
Eighteen flights of stairs, out the doors to the uppermost observation deck, and John's finally found Ronon, hands on the railing, leaning over to stare at the city. He nods his head back like he's acknowledging John's presence, but doesn't say anything.
All premeditation aside, all fifty hours of it, and all John's thinking right now is that taking a shower before coming up here had been a waste, even if the wind is drying the sweat off of him. It feels like being sandblasted.
He gives it a minute, watches Ronon's back, his side, looking for evidence of bandages or worse as he steps up to the railing next to him. He's not going to bother reminding him that he hadn't actually been discharged from the infirmary, but he can't ignore it completely. "How're you holding up?"
Ronon nods down at his hands. It feels like he's making a joke, and maybe he is. "Fine. Just."
The first time he'd seen the mainland- San Francisco- from here, he'd been grinning wide, happy, but he's had three days, now, to get over the shock of still breathing, of being anywhere.
"Three months," John says. "Maybe four, and we're heading back out."
There's going to be more to the conversation at some point, but now's not the time to hash out details, to wonder about Woolsey's phrasing or McKay's repairs timeline or whether or not the IOA is actually going to hold up their end. John's still got about a hundred hours of meetings- starting in about an hour- to start rehashing that all over again. There's an entire other conversation- what do the wraith know, what'll we find when we get back- that everyone's still months from having in anything but the vaguest of terms.
Ronon just nods, doesn't seem interested in talking about any of this, either. It's a relief, but it's small.
They're still standing up here. Ronon's still staring at the mainland like it's going to attack at any moment, and John's had this idea, this plan, that he'd be able to help when he got up here. But the city's huge, the mainland's even larger, and they can barely see the people on the dock from here. If any of them are glancing up, if Teyla's down there, looking for them, it's doubtful she'd even see them.
And it's a good thing, because if his eyes were showing as much white around the edges as Ronon's are, avoiding John's as much as they are, John's not sure he'd want to be seen, either.
He keeps his eye on the shoreline- needs something to focus on to forestall the vertigo because the city sways, here, in this water, the way it never does. But he moves closer, into Ronon's space, puts a hand up on his back, because even if Ronon's never needed the warning before, everything's just off, now, and he's not going to take the chance.
He's careful of the injuries, but Ronon's not, turning into him, hands off the railing and moving around John's shoulders. John's face is buried in Ronon's dreads, he can feel his breath against his neck and in his arms.
They're both hanging on tight, and it's only a little bit about keeping their balance, or maybe it's entirely about keeping their balance.