Lantea was an old world, older even than the Ancients realized. Sentience had grown up around them without the need for a seed of humanity. The forests were overgrown, and the vines twining through the branches were shriveled up, dried seed pods hanging from them in clusters. The forest canopy had grown tall, interweaving and bringing the ground into shadow.
The wind blew across the tops, leaves waving about, and with a crack, one branch fell toward the ground. Seed pods broke open and small tufts of down scattered in the storm, blowing across the land and ocean.
If the Ancients had still been on Atlantis, they would have had computer alarms. The air filtration systems would have come online and scrubbed everything out before it reached the city's inhabitants. As it was, the air filters had been submerged for ten thousand years.
If the city could think - and maybe it could and didn't tell anyone - it might say something like "oh, hell."
First: Morning Surprise
It wasn't like Laura noticed it when she woke up. The sunlight filtering through her windows was normal, and Lorne snoring his head off next to her was also pretty normal first thing in the morning. She was scheduled for PT this morning, after all, and Lorne got to sleep in. When she stretched and rolled out of bed, something felt a little off, but she brushed it off as feeling weird from sparring with Ronon yesterday.
It wasn't until she'd padded into the bathroom to brush her teeth and pee that she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Her startled yelp brought Lorne running. Sure, the guy slept like the dead, but that was only so long as nothing was out of the ordinary.
Between going to sleep last night and waking up this morning, Laura had managed - some-fucking-how - to sprout delicate, gauzy butterfly wings in a light spring green. They almost glowed. Her skin was a little bit more luminous than usual too, not to mention it the chartreuse tint it had developed overnight.
There wasn't anything ordinary about that. Goddamnit.
"Christ, Laura, what's wrong?" Lorne asked, and then he scrubbed one hand over his eyes and stared. "Holy shit. Are you a goddamn fairy?"
"Fuck off and die," muttered Laura. She turned to look at her back in the mirror and frowned. They were attached to her skin at the shoulderblades, and when she flexed her delts, they moved. She reached behind her and tugged hard on a wing. Sharp, jagged pain raced down her back, and she winced. "Ow! They're real!"
"Did you just sprinkle glitter on the bathroom floor?" asked Lorne. He crouched down and swiped a finger through shimmering powder that Laura didn't want to see, especially since she'd just grown some goddamn wings. He looked up at her and curled up one corner of his mouth in a smirk. "You just spewed fairy dust all over your bathroom."
"Shut up!" exclaimed Laura. She rolled her eyes and whirled around to look at herself in the mirror again. "I look like fucking Tinkerbell!"
Lorne straightened and gave her a once-over. "Infirmary," he said. He paused, and Laura crossed her arms under her breasts when he leered at her. That only made it worse. Lorne was a pig. "Clothes first."
Second: Special on Wings Today
"I look like a girly girl." Laura stalked toward the infirmary. She figured waking up with wings was reason enough to be out of uniform, so she was in a pair of black track pants and a black bra that closed in front.
"You look the same as always," said Lorne, walking next to her. He shrugged offhandedly as he tried not to stare at her breasts. "Except for the fairy wings and the glitter."
"I can't even get a shirt on!" exclaimed Laura. She rounded the corner and stopped dead ten feet from the infirmary. "Shit."
"That's one way of putting it," said Lorne. His hands were shoved in his pockets, and Laura glanced over. No expression at all, which was probably because Dr. Weir was standing in the middle of the infirmary with wide eyes, gesticulating as she talked to Carson.
The red butterfly wings that were sticking out of her back and fluttering slightly with her agitation as Colonel Sheppard stood to the side and stared was unexpected. Neither were the red cheeks. Dr. Weir always got a bit flushed when she got upset. Her skin had the same odd gleam to it that Laura's did. Not that she was staring. She was too busy giving Lorne a 'what the hell is up' glance.
She could bet Dr. Weir never thought she'd be wandering Atlantis' halls in a bra because she had wings. God knew, Laura had never thought that either. She glanced back at her own wings, then took a deep breath, squared her shoulders, and walked into the infirmary. "This day is getting weirder and weirder," she said.
Carson dropped his clipboard when he caught sight of her. "I'm going to check Dr. Weir's test results," he said. Laura waved as he fled to the safety of his laptop.
"You're telling me," said Dr. Weir. She met Laura's eyes and smiled ruefully. "Are you all right, Lieutenant?"
"Only thing suffering is my dignity," said Laura. She was trying to be cheerful, but since she'd just woken up with wings, it pretty much fell flat.
"That's gonna happen when you turn into a fairy overnight," said Lorne.
Laura whirled. "Call me a fucking fairy again, and I'll punch your lights out." She probably wouldn't. But he'd better not push her.
"Isn't that striking a superior officer, Cadman?" Lorne just smirked at her while Colonel Sheppard and Dr. Weir gave each other wary looks.
"I think Colonel Sheppard will excuse me on account of you being a total dick, sir," snapped Laura. Which he would, because if he wasn't going to, he'd have already said something.
"Or we could all just calm down," interrupted Colonel Sheppard, stepping between them and giving them his most charming smile, the one that didn't reach his eyes. Laura rolled her eyes and shrugged. "So what happened?"
"I woke up with wings," said Laura, shrugging. "Other than that, I don't know."
"They're certainly a part of your musculo-skeletal structure, Elizabeth," said Carson. He looked helplessly at Laura. "I'm afraid getting Elizabeth into the scanners was difficult enough. D'you mind--"
"Whatever," said Laura. She flexed her shoulders, just for the hell of it, and felt the wings wave back and forth. "You think I can fly with these?"
"I wouldn't try--" started Carson, but Laura had already started fluttering the damn things harder.
"This is great!" she exclaimed, laughing as she rose three feet up in the air. Dr. Weir smiled at her. "Seriously, Dr. Weir. This is totally awesome. You've got to try it."
"Can you get down here already?" asked Colonel Sheppard, and Laura thought there was a hint of something else behind the irritation. It wasn't her fault that the only two Air Force officers in the city weren't sprouting butterfly wings and couldn't fly. Hell, they'd probably start whining that butterfly wings weren't manly enough.
Which meant Laura really hoped Lorne sprouted a set some time soon.
"Aw, Colonel!" she pouted, and she really couldn't help that she was going up a few more feet in the air. The fact that her toes dangled in front of Lorne's face was just a coincidence. Really. He grabbed at her ankle and yanked, and Laura windmilled for a few seconds before she recovered her balance and kicked him in the arm. "Play nice, Major."
"Get down here, then," he said, and Laura rolled her eyes.
"Lemme go first," she said. She pouted when he did, but managed to lower herself back to the ground without falling flat on her ass, though she wobbled a bit. "Wow."
Dr. Weir was checking her watch. "This is about the time everyone else gets up," she said. She looked around at all of them. "Either this is an isolated phenomenon, or the infirmary staff is about to get a whole lot busier."
"It's going to get busier." Kate was standing just inside the infirmary. She frowned at them, then looked down at the sheet wrapped around the top of her body. Rose-colored wings spread out behind her, with dark tracings of magenta that looked like veins. Laura would have to get closer to be sure. "Teyla's on her way in, and I just saw Jennifer. If there are five of us--"
"Then this has likely happened to all the women," finished Dr. Weir.
"Bloody hell," said Carson, dropping his face into his hands.
"You're not the one inconvenienced here, Carson," said Laura, sighing. "It's gonna be cold today."
"I think we need an emergency shipment of halter tops from Earth, Elizabeth," said Kate. She glanced back at her wings, which gleamed in the infirmary lights. Her skin was about the same, but Kate had great skin before all this. Laura kind of hated her for that. "Front closing bras too."
"Don't forget bar stools!" added Laura. She fluttered her wings. That was fun.
"Jesus," said Colonel Sheppard, scrubbing his hand across his face. "I need a drink."
"Maybe we should just order a bar," added Laura, watching as Kate frowned back at her wings. "I think we could all stand getting sloshed off our asses."
Third: Fear of Heights
Elizabeth waited in the door to Kate's office. She was sitting on her chair, leaning forward and trying to tap at her laptop while curling her wings around her body. Elizabeth had never seen her look frustrated before, not even after a marathon session of therapy with Rodney.
"Damn," muttered Kate. She pushed away from the chair and stood up to stretch, then froze when she caught sight of Elizabeth.
"Having a hard time adjusting?" asked Elizabeth. She stepped inside the office, relieved that the Ancients had at least made the doors wide enough to accommodate wings.
"Aren't you?" asked Kate. Instead of going back to her desk, she moved to sit at one of the gray chairs she usually saved for therapy sessions.
"A little," admitted Elizabeth. She smiled wryly. "We're going to have to do some fast trading in this galaxy for stools and halter tops. Earth can't get them to us until the Daedalus gets back there, re-supplies, and leaves again."
"Except our best trader and our negotiator are both confined to Atlantis, because the women have all come down with a severe case of fairy wings." Kate leaned forward and let her hands rest on her thighs. "Is John going to have to do the trading?"
"I was thinking I'd send Major Lorne with Dr. Zelenka out for some field experience," said Elizabeth, which Kate only answered with a knowing look. She sat down across from Kate and leaned forward to give her wings room. She studied Kate's tight face. "Are you all right?"
"Not really," admitted Kate.
"Do you want to talk to someone about it?" asked Elizabeth. She tried not to look down. After they'd left the infirmary, she'd gone back to Kate's quarters with her and helped fasten a bra around Kate's wings.
Before this morning, Elizabeth had been able to stop herself from staring at Kate's chest. She glanced down, then thought better of it and snapped her eyes back up to Kate's face.
"They're a little obvious right now," said Kate dryly. "It's fine. Better than some of the looks I've gotten this morning."
Obvious hadn't been the word Elizabeth was thinking of. Lush, maybe, with Kate's near-perfect skin, and an inviting sway as Kate had let the sheet drop when they'd been getting dressed, as she'd moved toward her dresser to try to find a shirt. Elizabeth had been overwhelmed with the urge to draw Kate to her, and they'd kissed, before Elizabeth pushed her to sit on the bed. She'd knelt on the floor and pushed Kate's thighs gently apart.
When she'd looked up, there was Kate staring down at her, with her lips red from kissing, her skin dusky and almost glowing, and wings that neither of them had a chance to get used to fluttering behind her. There wasn't a hope in hell of Elizabeth resisting the urge to unbutton Kate's pants.
Kate had shimmied out of them and kicked them off to the side, not saying a word, and Elizabeth had her mouth on Kate's breast without a pause. The urge to touch Kate had been irresistible, and Elizabeth hadn't bothered trying. They'd kissed again, and Kate had tugged at Elizabeth until she'd moved onto the bed.
"We should be doing so many other things," Elizabeth had murmured. The touch of Kate's fingertips brushing against her wings as she'd slid Elizabeth's bra straps along the curve of her arms had been too distracting.
"I know." Kate had pushed the cups of Elizabeth's bra away and smiled. She'd tugged at Elizabeth's nipple, sending a sharp jolt of pleasure through her--
Elizabeth shook herself out of her distraction. "Well," she said.
Kate was watching her with an amused expression. "Something I should know?" she asked.
"Have you tried flying yet?" asked Elizabeth, in a rapid change of subject.
Kate shook her head. "I don't think I want to."
"Lieutenant Cadman seemed to think it was fun," said Elizabeth. She smiled and fluttered her wings. "I know Carson said they shouldn't be able to bear our weight, but they manage it somehow."
"You've tried?" asked Kate. "I--"
"You what?" prompted Elizabeth. Kate shifted in her chair. Elizabeth thought she was uncomfortable from more than just the wings. She leaned forward and took Kate's hands. Both of them shivered a little at the contact, and Kate's mouth parted while Elizabeth drew in a deep breath. "Kate, I'd like to think we're friends. If there's something I can do--"
"Elizabeth, are you blind?" asked Kate. Her bluntness was unusual, to say the least. "You'd like to think we're friends?"
"I don't know what you mean." Elizabeth couldn't control her expression, not when Kate swept her thumb across the back of Elizabeth's hand. "We've been close for years. Close friends."
"I'd never even consider admitting to acrophobia to anyone that was just a friend," said Kate.
"You're afraid of heights?" asked Elizabeth. She glanced at Kate's window, which had no glass, and then back at Kate, looking perplexed. "But you never act as though you are."
"I know all the coping techniques, and I've been through as much therapy for it as I can handle," said Kate. "That doesn't stop the phobia from triggering. You're avoiding the subject."
"Kate, I'm not avoiding anything," said Elizabeth, with an awkward shift of her weight in the chair. "You know that--"
"That you're using your position as an excuse to avoid confronting the idea of a relationship?" asked Kate. She used that expression, the one that Elizabeth hated, because it looked so very innocent, but she knew Kate only used that when she'd hit on the truth.
"You just had to say it, didn't you?" asked Elizabeth, narrowing her eyes. "Kate--"
"I'm not talking to you as a therapist," said Kate, and she looked unbelievably smug. "I'm talking to you as the woman whose hands you've been holding onto for at least five minutes now."
"I never thought you'd be like this when I hired you." Elizabeth knew she sounded petulant, but she didn't care. She'd woken up with wings. It was difficult to maintain an impartial, commanding demeanor when she had to wander the halls of Atlantis in a bra.
"I'm sure you didn't think you'd end up in my bed when you hired me," said Kate. Her chuckle was throaty, and Elizabeth knew she'd just flushed as red as her wings.
"Fine," said Elizabeth. She sighed and stood, tugging Kate to her feet too. "If I admit we're more than just friends, will you fly with me?"
"It's an acceptable trade-off," said Kate. "Let's take it slow."
"That's not what you said when we slept together." Elizabeth never smirked, but one was lurking just underneath her smile. She let her wings move in a long, slow beat, then started fluttering them. The stretch of muscle in her back was almost unsettling. "Just match my movements."
"I'll try." Kate's wings moved slowly, and Elizabeth rose off the floor without her. She looked down at Kate, whose mouth was pressed tightly together. She flexed once, her wings moving back and forth, but stayed on the ground.
"It's only me here," said Elizabeth. She smiled to coax Kate into relaxing. "I won't let you fall."
Fourth: Life Sucks, But At Least We Can Have Sex
"My life is totally derailed by these stupid things." Laura threw her duffel bag into the corner of Lorne's room. It hit the wall with a loud thunk and then fell to the floor. "Kate can barely wrestle herself into a bra, Dr. Weir is hovering in her office doing paperwork, and Teyla's hitting the meditation and the stick fighting like there's no tomorrow. It just gets worse from there."
Lorne was leaning back on his bed and flipping through Laura's latest issue of Modern Mercenary. "So tell me, honey, how was your day?" he asked, grinning at her.
"Son of a bitch, Lorne! I haven't even read that yet!" exclaimed Laura. She stalked over to him and snatched it out of his hand. "It's bad enough that Miko and Simpson are talking about staging a rebellion. Those two have the combined patience to handle Rodney and Kavanagh, and they've had it with this. So how do you think I'm feeling about it?"
"Do I need to answer, or are you going to tell me?" asked Lorne. He pillowed his hands on his head and watched as Laura flopped onto her stomach.
"I'm going to trust you're smart enough to figure it out." Laura tossed her magazine onto the floor, then glared when Lorne moved to pick it up. "No way in hell. You wanted this to be more than sex with no strings, so you get to deal with listening to me bitch about growing fucking wings, Relationship Boy."
"Laura," said Lorne. He sat up and leaned over to stretch out next to her. "You know I'm good with the wings, right?"
"I know, I know," admitted Laura, picking at her blanket while she kicked her feet idly in the air. "If I hear one more goddamn comment about believing in fairies, you'd better believe there'll be ass-kicking."
"Sheppard and I need to step in?" asked Lorne. Laura saw him go more alert now that he was realizing that there was a military issue here.
"You think the women on this city aren't taking care of each other already?" asked Laura. She rolled her eyes at him. "Hate to break it to you, sweetie, but we've been wandering around in bras all day long. We're not letting each other out of sight."
"Don't need a big, strong man protecting you?" asked Lorne. He was lucky he wasn't serious, or Laura would have kicked his ass. Hard.
"Fuck, no," said Laura. She put her flattened palm on Lorne's shoulder and pushed him onto his back, then straddled him. "You think Miko and Simpson didn't go around handing out homemade tazers today? That new shipment of Marines hasn't had the stupid beaten out of them yet."
"You think you're going to be able to manage it in one day?" asked Lorne. Usually it took them at least a month to make sure all the new military personnel weren't congenital assholes.
"I think pain is a powerful motivator," Laura said, only half-joking. She shifted her weight, trying to get her knees comfortable, then paused and smirked at Lorne. "Seriously? You're hard already?"
Lorne moved one hand to rest on Laura's hip. "Hate to break it to you, babe, but you're hot."
"If I'd known you were this turned on by fairies, I'd have bought a goddamn Tinkerbell costume for Halloween," muttered Laura. She bent down, her hair falling past his shoulders and kissed him. His body was warm underneath hers, and, hell, maybe she could work off some of today's tension. "It would've been easier."
Lorne reached between them and undid the clasp on Laura's bra. "I'm good with this," he said, tossing it off to the side. Laura scooted back enough for him to sit up, and then tugged his shirt off to throw on top of her bra.
"I'm not, but I'll let it slide for now," said Laura. She unbuttoned his pants and shoved them down, along with his underwear. Watching Lorne strip was usually half the fun, but she'd make an exception for today.
It took her a couple minutes to get her boots unlaced and thrown in a corner, not to mention her pants off. Laura stood next to the bed, wearing just her panties and with her stupid green wings waving in the stupid air, wondering if she really wanted to try having awkward, what-the-hell-is-going-on-with-my-body sex. Lorne reached out and dragged her panties down her legs.
The way he looked at her, she knew he'd been waiting to get her naked and on top of him all day. It made Laura decide that she'd skip the "what's going on with my body?" and go right to "what the hell?"
Laura shoved Lorne back down on the bed and straddled him again. "You going to be okay with fucking me while I'm a freak of nature?"
"I'm supposed to give a damn?" Instead of pulling her down for a kiss, Lorne slid his hands up Laura's bare legs. He teased at her with his fingers, sliding them along her labia and moving his thumb against her clit until Laura was wet and thrusting her hips against his hand.
Laura whimpered as Lorne sank his fingers deep inside her and groaned. "Not what I wanted," she said. She leaned down, gripping his shoulders tightly, and Lorne got the idea. He moved his fingers and, even though it took some adjusting, slid his cock inside her.
"Better?" asked Lorne, his voice low in her ear. Laura didn't answer, just held on and kissed him as they started moving together. Laura slipped her hand between their bodies and stroked her clit, grinding down against Lorne until she shuddered and let out a quiet sigh.
"That was easier than I thought it would be," said Laura, her voice breathless. She smirked at Lorne as he glared. "What? I've been stressed."
"Wonder why?" asked Lorne dryly.
"Don't worry about it." Laura grinned and sat up. She rocked back. "You going to be good like this?"
"I wouldn't have any problems if we were in hard vacuum," said Lorne.
"I don't think it's the vacuum that's hard." Laura leaned back on her arms and moved, slow and sure, as Lorne thrust up. They started to move faster. Lorne was panting. Laura's damn wings were fluttering. His palms were pressed hard against her skin, and Lorne groaned as he thrust up one last time and came.
"I feel much better now," said Laura. She gathered her hair up and held it off the back of her neck. "You?"
Fifth: Equal Opportunity
Laura had started sleeping on her stomach. She had to because the wings were stupid and annoying and she didn't want to crush them. On the plus side, she got to hop out of a window and fly around Atlantis when she got bored.
They'd ordered brooms on trade from one of Athos' partners to sweep away the fairy dust piling up in the corners.
Kate's office wasn't off-limits since it was open to the air, the tower had a constant flurry of women flying around it, and there was less of a line for ATA-having pilots to fly the women on the expedition to the mainland.
They were getting used to it, which was good. Carson was no closer to figuring out where they came from or how to get rid of them. He was, however, insisting that no one call the glittery powder that shook from their wings "fairy dust," and had come up with an arcane Latin term no one bothered to remember.
"Cadman." Lorne shook her, and Laura sneezed as more goddamn fairy dust dropped on her. "Cadman, wake up."
Laura blinked, scrubbing her hand over her eyes and peered up at Lorne. "It's too early. I'm going to kick your--"
Lorne had pretty, pretty butterfly wings, in orange with mottled brown on them, and the whole bed was covered in stupid orange and brown fairy dust.
"Carson's going to be pissed," said Lorne. He groaned and rolled out bed.
"Are you kidding me?" asked Laura. She jumped up and started rummaging through her dresser. "I'm getting my camera. McKay's going to be a laugh riot."