Eppes in Atlantis
When the Eppes brothers arrive on Atlantis, Don spends most of his time on balconies; the crisp salt air pushing against his face and the blue of the ocean nearly blinding him. Charlie spends all his time inside; staring at equation filled whiteboards and consulting reels of data with the kind of singular concentration that forces Don to intervene every few hours to make sure his brother eats. It's something he's used to; he's done it all his life. That shouldn't change now.
They usually never quite make it to the mess hall, at least Charlie doesn't, but Don doesn't mind going alone and bringing back enough for two. It makes him feel useful, vital; something of which he hasn't felt since they left Los Angeles a few weeks ago. He doesn't mind, not really, but it's what leads him to spending all his time here, outside, leaning against a balcony's railing and staring out at an alien sunset turning the sea a molten gold he's never seen on Earth.
Don doesn't know many people on Atlantis. He's met one or two along the way, names he remembers thanks to so many years in the FBI, but he doesn't know them. Not in the way he does Charlie. Not in the way he did his team. That's uncomfortable, at first. He misses talking to someone, having someone back him up, having someone be his friend. It's easier for Charlie, who's basically among his peers, but not so much for Don. It doesn't take long to realize that's probably a good thing. Especially after meeting Rodney McKay.
The majority of the people around him from day to day are geniuses like his brother. It makes keeping up with conversation hard, though Don isn't a slouch in the brains department, so after a while, he just doesn't bother. There are only so many times he can hear about algorithms before his eyes start glazing over. Luckily, after the first week, people start labeling him the silent type and don't try to draw him into conversation. That's probably his fault; he rarely ventures farther than the lab Charlie works in, a few hallways, the mess hall, his assigned quarters, Charlie's assigned quarters, and a whole lot of balconies. Sometimes he can hear his father's voice in his head telling him he needs to get out more but then, he's in another galaxy, how much more out can he get?
He doesn't know why but after their first meeting, John Sheppard manages to be everywhere Don is; which is a feat, since he's rarely where anyone else is. That alone made him leery in the beginning. He barely knew Sheppard and suddenly the man was there, right there, almost elbow to elbow with him on a balcony, staring at the sunset, brown eyes glittering like the ocean. Sometimes, he'd talk. Tell Don about his time in Antarctica. How he liked it, how he didn't like it. He'd tell him about surfing and Ferris wheels and pulling G's. He'd tell him how he cried when he found out his first pet, a dog named Rockefeller, was hit by a car while he was at school in ninth grade and couldn't be saved or how he'd actually flipped a coin for his trip, Atlantis or Bust. Don doesn't really say anything but he thinks that's what John is counting on.
Don gets his first taste of what being in another galaxy really means when he has an allergic reaction to some food that they're serving in the mess. He's hot and sweaty, his throat burns and his fever keeps on spiking, and there isn't much anyone can do for him save for pump him full of drugs and hope for the best. The best, he finds, is suffering a weeks worth of fever dreams and being laid up in the hospital for another two, too weak to think straight. Which is, unsurprisingly, a hell of a lot better than being dead but the damage, so to speak, is already done, and when Don can finally think of things aside from his immediate needs, he realizes he could have died light years away from the majority of the people he cares about.
It's easier to make friends when you've almost died. People you don't even know seem to know your name and ask you how you're doing. Don finds it strange until he finds out Charlie had turned into a basket case and had locked himself in his room; unwilling to work on anything save for a problem that is light years away from being important while he was sick. He also finds that John spent most of his nights at his bedside, holding his hand and talking, telling him things that not even Don remembers now.
Elizabeth Weir's office is open and organized and reminds Don of his office in Albuquerque in its sterility. Elizabeth herself is much the same and he finds he likes her for that alone. She's something familiar in on an unfamiliar world.
John kisses Don after he comes back from a mission. He's soaked in blood, mud, and rain and looks miserable as hell when Don opens the door. He barely opens his mouth before the man is pulling him in, kissing him hard, almost too hard, and leaving muddy handprints on his favorite t-shirt. He doesn't mind, even when John is trudging away, squishing as he goes, to leave Don to clean up the mess and stare after him, wondering what the hell had happened and if he should have invited him in.
There's at least three ways that Don has found to get from the mess hall to Charlie's lab, all of which force him to pass a lab that smells faintly of burning ozone and rotten eggs. He hasn't worked up the courage to find out why yet but resolves to when a loud explosion sounds just as he passes and a dazed Marine comes stumbling out, a harried looking scientist following. It's times like these he's glad his brother's into math.
The utter look of excitement on John's face is hard not to admire, especially up close, where Don is. He's like a schoolboy with a new toy, showing it this way and that, pushing the Puddle Jumper to its limits so that he can only laugh when the man starts doing loop-de-loops as if this were an air show. It's then that Don realizes he loves John Sheppard and that he needs to make sure that Charlie has eaten something when they get back.
Ronon Dex is like a big hulking statue and manages to kick Don's ass nine times out of ten when they finally get around to sparring with one another. They both take it in stride; falling into an easy friendship that has a lot to do with bruises and blood. Ronon's a survivor and Don can respect that.
Rodney McKay has a black eye. It takes a while for Don to figure out that it's Charlie who gave it to him but when he does, he ruffles his little brother's hair affectionately and tells him good job. He never liked bullies, especially ones who thought they were smarter than the known universe.
Charlie's oblivious to a lot of things so when he shows up at Don's door a half-hour before his follow-up at the infirmary, he's secretly touched and a hell of a lot surprised. Even more so when Charlie asks him if he wants to go home but all he can think is home, where? There's a lot of places he can call that and he's not even surprised when Atlantis is one of them.
Teyla Emmagan is restful. Don doesn't know what else to call her. She reminds him of peace and justice and the same kind of rightness he felt when he signed up for Quantico. He wonders if she's like that for everybody else.
The first time that Don sees a Wraith is the first time he goes off world. It's standing over John, needle point teeth bared, hand extended, ready to feed. It's like a dream when he blows it's head off, the wonder of a new world dying a premature death as he goes to John, jerking him to his feet and shoving him forward to run. Pegasus or Milky Way, he knows how to do this.
The letter from their father is addressed to both he and his brother but it's post marked to Don. He reads it on his balcony, surprised at the lump that forms in his throat when he realizes the pages smell like his father's favorite cologne, the stuff their mother picked out for him all those years ago. He gives it to Charlie a few hours later, a sympathetic smile stretching across his lips when his brother brings it to his face and inhales.
The feel of John's hand on the small of his back is warm and comforting in the cool breeze of Atlantis midnight and he doesn't bother to check the urge to lean into it. It's then that John asks him back to his room, his voice oddly hesitant and small, but Don can only smile and lead him to his own. After all, it's closer.
The room is empty when Don finds it. Not surprising since he finds out later it's in a section of the city that hasn't been explored yet. He explored it though and is amused to find that even the Ancients had a recreation center. When he sees John later, he asks him to requisition a basketball for him.
The first time that Charlie is taken, Don goes a little crazy. He screams at Weir, punches John, and even manages to scare McKay. No one says anything when Carson gives him a sedative or when, a day later, he, John, Ronon, Teyla, and Rodney come back with his brother, bloody and grim, the screams of the Genii still ringing in their ears.
John holds him when he starts to shake, dragging him away from Charlie's bedside, which is kept vigil on by, amazingly, Rodney, when he's away. They make love slow and thoroughly, the little shocks of pleasure he gets when John cants his hips is like a soothing balm. They kiss lazily afterwards and Don tells John he loves him.