It's possible, maybe, that the whole thing is Brendon's fault. "Okay," Brendon says. "Okay, this could be my fault."
"Urie," Bryar growls.
"No, no, I know. Give me a minute, I'll think of something."
"Don't." Bryar gets up to loom over Brendon. He's really good at looming. "Don't think of anything, Urie. Just sit tight."
Brendon isn't going to argue with Bryar, mostly because he's never been so scared in his entire life as he is right now. He'd never even seen a Wraith before that day, before the darts screamed onto PX1-300. He figures maybe he was overdue for some Pegasus horror.
The little girl on his lap whimpers, makes this horrible little-lost-puppy sound, and Brendon rocks her, says, "Hey, hey, it'll be fine, okay? Sergeant Bob'll get us out of here, and we'll be fine." He's not sure he really believes it, but the words make him feel better anyhow.
See, it's Brendon's fault, yeah, but he hadn't really had a choice, not when he'd seen her frozen in fear, all alone, out in the open - and didn't their parents teach them how to hide, how to blindly run at the first sign of Wraith? - in the direct path of a dart's beam. He just hopes the rest of their teams didn't get caught, too.
Bryar sighs, rubs a palm over his forehead. "I have two knives," he says, and Brendon nods his head slowly.
"Okay," Brendon says, then adds, "I've got Spencer's knife in my boot."
Bryar blinks at him. Brendon thinks he sees a little twitch of a smile at the corner of his mouth. "Good, good," he says. "You hang on to that." He stares at the cell bars for a few minutes, hands on his hips.
Bryar's kind of quiet and intense, but Brendon's always really liked him. He's got an air of competence, and he doesn't act like an asshole around the scientists like most of the other Marines do.
Brendon knows, because they all know, they'd had to know, how every hive ship works, even if they were lucky enough to never encounter one during their entire stay in Pegasus. He knows how it's created out of organic matter, which is awesome for repairs and stuff, is largely fascinating and generally icky, and how it's definitely to their advantage, since a well-placed severing can deactivate their prison doors. You just have to aim really well. It's also better when you have more than three knives to throw at the control panel.
Bryar shifts on his feet. Brendon can read the reluctance in his stance, but it's their only option, other than settling down like mindless cattle, waiting to be eaten. Brendon's pretty sure neither of them wants to just give up like that, if only because Brendon's heard the feeding process is incredibly painful. Brendon's not a big fan of pain.
He considers giving Bryar a You-Can-Do-It! pep talk, but he thinks maybe Bryar would punch him. He settles on a low, half-desperate, "Come on," that he's not even sure Bryar hears.
And then Bryar mutters, "They're coming," and Brendon just. He sort of gains resolve. Like this is how it's going to be, how it is, and it's not okay, not even close to okay, but it's going to happen anyway, and Brendon's going to take it. He thinks maybe this is what living in the Pegasus galaxy, living in the middle of a war, does to you.
Brendon has a couple of regrets. If they're going to die - and Brendon's usually a pretty positive guy, but they're going to die; unless they get some sort of intervening miracle, they're really going to die - he might as well admit that he's definitely got some regrets. He doesn't normally hold himself back, he does exactly what he wants to do, except where Spencer's concerned. Where Spencer's concerned, Brendon doesn't go by his own pace. That's all Spencer.
He regrets not telling Spencer he loves him. Like, loves him, not just in love with him, although he never mentioned that tidbit either, but even if. Even if, for some reason, Spencer doesn't want to be with him anymore, even then. Even then, Brendon would love him, because Spencer is a pretty special person. Brendon really just wants Spencer to always be happy, always be grinning, no matter whom he's with or where he is. They're friends. They're close; Brendon likes to think they're best friends occasionally, even though Ryan officially gets that title, since they've known each other for forever and a day.
He regrets not having leftover chocolate cake for breakfast. Dr. McKay had gotten away with it, but Spencer had frowned at Brendon and seriously, seriously, they were living on the edge of nowhere, could die at any moment, and he'd given up his chocolate cake. For Spencer. Because they were going on a mission and Brendon needed something nutritional to start his day, and maybe he didn't regret making Spencer happy on that point, but he regrets the fact that never, ever again will he be able to taste chocolate cake. God. He's going to miss food when he's dead.
Brendon doesn't, however, regret running out into the open to grab this little girl, this skinny little thing who's got her fingers clenched in his tac vest, face pressed into his shoulder. He'd do exactly the same thing, over and over again - and he feels bad that he got Bryar into this mess, that he was the closest, that he'd tried to stop him; but at the same time he's kind of relieved he isn't there alone - but he doesn't think the Wraith will kill the girl. Worse, he thinks they'll treat her as a pet, raise her to be one of those freaky Wraith worshippers the colonel's told them about. He doesn't like the thought of that.
So when the door slides open, drones flanking a worker bee - the jagged sharp teeth, the tight gray skin, the claws - he hides the girl behind him, makes himself a bigger target, ignores Bryar's warnings, hisses of being quiet and staying still, and he makes such a fuss that the drones grab him first, before Bryar can do anything about it.
Brendon knows, he knows what the military mind is like on Atlantis: protect the scientists at all costs, protect their invaluable brains. He knows that if they left him in that cell with that little girl, if they took Bryar first, then they'd have no chance at all; there wouldn't even be a question. It's not that Brendon's helpless, but he's got lousy aim, and at least now Bryar can try to escape, can try to disable the door and hijack a dart or whatever, take that little girl back to her family. He's bought them time, he knows this, even while Bryar's cursing him out, worry threading his voice as he yells, "You're a fucking idiot, Urie," after them.
Urie's a fucking moron. That's the only thing Bob's dead certain of. Christ, now he has to figure a way out of there and save Urie from getting himself fucking killed, and the truth of it is, the honest-to-god horrifying truth, is that Bob would've let them take the girl. If they'd taken her, they'd have had a chance of escaping, and he's not exactly proud of that fact, but he's almost completely sure that they wouldn't have killed a kid, anyway. Out of everything he's gleaned of the Wraith culture, he doesn't think they're indiscriminately cruel. They're too smart for that.
Bob isn't exactly green, even though Atlantis is his first assignment in the Stargate program. He's been gating off-world for a solid year now, and he's come across more than a few Wraith, up close and personal, been detained by rebel Genii forces, but it's the first time he's ever been trapped on a hive ship, and he's lost his fucking scientist. Hell, Urie isn't even his. Smith's probably going to rip him a new one if he comes back without Urie.
He squeezes his eyes shut, pinching the bridge of his nose, racking his brain for plans, anything - he's heard the story, everyone's heard the story of Atlantis' first CO, and he really doesn't want to have to shoot Urie, he doesn't want the Wraith to gain any more knowledge of Atlantis or Earth - and when he looks up again, that little girl is staring at him, all big, wary eyes, spindly limbs tucked up, dirty hands clutching her knees.
"Hey," he says, hoarse, then he clears his throat and says again, "hey."
She doesn't answer, but he didn't really expect her to.
He nods, walks towards her slowly, lowers himself to his knees. She's still just watching him, but she doesn't flinch away. "Hey, look, it's gonna be fine, okay?" he says as confidently as he can. He's basically lying his ass off because how in hell is everything going to be okay?
"Okay," she says, voice small, and Bob forces a smile.
"Just like Urie said, you'll be fine," he reiterates. He reaches out, tentatively sweeps her hair back from her face.
He knows kids, people, aren't trusting in his galaxy; he knows they can't afford to be. The girl looks about six, maybe seven, and there's no way her village let her just be defenseless, even in the supposed lull between Wraith feedings.
"I've got two knives," he says, repeats from earlier, even though he knows she'd heard him.
She's smart. Her mouth moves, curves into a grin, a flash of pride in her eyes. "I've got one, too."
"You," Bob says, tweaking her nose - he's got sisters; he doesn't like to think about them, not when they're so far away, but he's got two little sisters - "are my favorite girl ever."
Spencer should not be in charge, so he's really glad that he's not.
"Right now," Toro says from the pilot seat, "there's nothing we can do."
Spencer feels like he's being torn up inside. He wills his face to remain stoic, but from Ryan's grimace, he's not sure he manages it.
Spencer should not be in charge, because he'd probably order a reckless on-the-spot rescue mission, and it's completely unfeasible. The hive ship jumped orbit immediately after recovering their darts - they'd dialed the last coordinates, 'gated through in the puddlejumper just in time to see it shift into hyperdrive, and Spencer's damn heart had been in his throat - and Toro's right; there's nothing they can do.
Ryan reaches over, threads their fingers together, and for once Spencer lets him. He lets him, despite Iero's position behind him. Despite the fact that Toro could glance back, catch the desperate grip Spencer has on Ryan's hand, white-knuckled. It helps him school his face, though, helps him collect his composure.
Toro says, "Dial Atlantis, Joe," and he sounds defeated, too.
They'd both lost a team member, god, but Spencer has to remind himself that it doesn't matter, doesn't count that Brendon was closer than a friend, a coworker, a teammate. He can't hurt worse than the rest of them, not where anyone can see.
When they slide through the event horizon, fly into the 'jumper bay, the familiar blue-gray walls, everything seems so final, and Spencer is utterly fucked.
"Look, I think you're all forgetting that this is Bob," Joe says.
Frank's expression is pinched. "Joe, I know you think Bob"
"Bob," Joe says, tone lazily daring anyone to contradict him, "is awesome," and it would've been funny, Joe's unwavering confidence in Bob, Ray's sure of it, if that fact actually helped them at all.
They've been debriefed, Carson has cleared them, and now it's a waiting game. Sheppard's just crazy enough to want to send a rescue mission, and Ray plans on leading them in.
"Bob escaped that Genii prison," Joe says. "He dug his way out of that underground bunker with his bare hands."
"Joe," Frank shakes his head, "Joe, you fucking exploded the shit out of that place first."
Joe blinks at him. "Oh. Oh, yeah, that was pretty cool, you're right," he says, but despite his words he seems mostly dejected, and Ray can relate. They all can, really, because Bob was really good at keeping them together, getting done what needed to be done, competent and focused and solid and always there.
They're silent then, staring down at the commissary table. No one wants to think about Bob being gone, but it's the kind of gaping hole that's hard to ignore.
A chair screeches, echoing throughout the mostly empty mess as Gerard drops down across from Ray. He sighs, tugs a hand through his dark hair. "Smith's taking this really hard," he says.
"Smith's in love with Brendon," Frank says, and Ray gets to his feet, because there're some things he's not allowed to know, even though he totally knows them anyway.
He gives the table a smile that doesn't reach his eyes. "And that's my cue," he says.
Frank grabs his sleeve. "Hey, hey, you'll"
"I'll let you know as soon as I hear anything," Ray assures him, even though there's not a chance in hell any of his scientists are going on a rescue mission that'll most likely take them into the belly of a hive.
Things have been a little weird between Ryan and Jon for a while. Mostly because of what had happened on PX4-MM0. The happening that they don't talk about. Ever. Jon sometimes looks like he might want to bring it up, but Ryan? Ryan doesn't want to go there.
He gets red-faced just thinking about it, and it's not that he's a prude or anything, but it was sort of more than embarrassing. Jon could've maybe stopped him, yeah, but Jon's not the kind of guy who'd ever hurt Ryan, and Ryan might be skinny, but he's got a grip on him that, in the midst of all that tenacity, that fire - god, natives and their fucking drugs, right? - Jon probably would've had to break his arm, knock him out or something to get him off.
Ryan is very good at pretending. He's not so good at compartmentalizing, but he can make sure his preoccupation doesn't show on his face. Somehow that doesn't make it any easier to deal with Jon, though, not when it's just the two of them.
The door to the balcony whooshes open and Jon's there, hands deep in his pockets. He nods at Ryan, more solemn than he's ever seen him - Jon's, like, this irresistible force of good nature and charm, smile almost constant - and Ryan feels his damn eyes start to prickle.
He rubs his fingers over the side of his nose and turns away to look out across the ocean.
"I thought you'd be with Spencer," Jon says, stepping up beside him.
Ryan shrugs. "He's not so much for company right now," he says, and he thinks Jon understands, that he's known Spencer long enough now to know that Spencer needs to grieve, rant, salvage some hope, maybe, and that he wouldn't let any of that out around other people, not even Ryan.
Jon nods, says, "Toro thinks they'll send out a team."
"You'll be on it." It's not a question. It was never a question, because if Toro's going, then Jon's going too. After nearly a year on the same team, Ryan knows this. "Not Spencer, though."
"Probably Spencer, yeah," Jon says, and that surprises Ryan, because he doesn't think that's such a good idea, expecting Spencer to be clear-headed when Brendon's on the line. Jon jostles his shoulder, like it's a joke. "You think we'd be able to stop him?"
Ryan purses his lips. It might be a colossally bad idea, but no. No, he doesn't think they could actually stop him, short of a direct order from Toro or Sheppard, and then that'd be coming too close to asking and telling. Ryan sighs. He says, "I think Spencer's more of a mess than he thinks he is."
Jon doesn't flat out disagree. "We don't leave men behind," he says instead, off hand, light, belying the utter seriousness of the words. "Spencer would never leave you behind, either."
Ryan stills, body quiet but belly doing tiny somersaults. Jon's good. That's kind of exactly what he'd needed to hear, because apparently he's still a teenaged girl where Spencer is concerned. He forces himself to say, "Yeah, I know."
"Are you crazy? No, seriously, have you lost your mind?" Rodney demands, leaning a finger into the conference table. "We have no idea where they are, what hive ship they're even on, and you want to just, what? Blindly go after whatever ship is closest?"
John grins. One of his wide, I am doing this to piss you off grins. "That's the plan, yeah."
"Are you doing this to piss me off?"
"No, Rodney." John sighs, deflates a little. "It's a good"
"It's a horrible plan. Tell him, Elizabeth." Rodney waves his hand. "Tell him how terrible this plan is."
Elizabeth pinches the bridge of her nose, takes a deep breath, and says very carefully, "John."
"There, you see?" Rodney tips his chin up. "She thinks it's a ridiculously bad plan."
"John," Elizabeth repeats, sending Rodney a small frown, "we don't know if they're even still alive."
"It's barely been a day," John points out. "They never." He shrugs, the deliberately lazy one that always manages to spin Rodney into even more of a rage, because it means John's going to be reckless and stupid no matter what anyone else says. "They're probably not going to drain them, not all at once."
"Like you would know," Rodney scoffs, even though out of all of them, John probably does know.
"It's worth the risk," John says stubbornly. "Elizabeth, it's worth the risk." Rodney recognizes his look. It's his I want you behind me on this but you're not going to stop me look, and it's, okay, it's a sexy look, Rodney isn't going to lie, but that doesn't make John any less completely insane.
"Look," John goes on, "this was a feeding, not an attack. Chances are better than good that there was only one hive ship."
Elizabeth seems contemplative, and Rodney snaps, "Oh, you can't even be considering this, Elizabeth," but he knows she's already made up her mind.
She leans onto her elbows, hands clasped, shoulders sharp, one brow raised. "Fine, John," she says. "I want three teams, one on the ground."
"Toro should be involved," John says, and just as Elizabeth's nodding Rodney cuts in with, "Wait, wait, we don't have the Daedalus," but he's already thinking ahead. He hates wasting his brain power on fruitless arguments, and he's learned when to switch gears when John's involved.
"If they're feeding, they'll drop out in a centralized location near several inhabited planets," Rodney says, opening up his laptop. "We won't know where, but"
"I think you and Zelenka can figure that out, Rodney," John drawls, leaning back, smug half-grin on his face.
Rodney flaps a hand. "Please, we've done it before," he says, and they can do it, this could work, but it still doesn't make it anything more than a suicide mission.
William's always been fond of little Brendon Urie, the adorable wee lad. He's a smart cookie, one of the very best handy men Atlantis has - though Urie prefers the term engineer, but whatever - and he rounds out Tuesday night poker games over in Captain Gabe's quarters. He mainly loses spectacularly, too, and that's important to William. It's important, because Urie always has the best stash of chocolate, and William has a demanding sweet tooth that must be soothed, or he's bound to get bitchy.
"You'll bring him back hale and hearty, of course," William tells Gabe sternly, or as sternly as he can manage, which perhaps isn't very much, since William's hair has been doing this whimsical feathering thing ever since he borrowed Greta's conditioner, and it's hard to be serious when his hair is having so much fun. He pushes it back behind his ears, tries to keep his lips from curling up at the corners as he stares at Gabe.
Gabe tucks a few cigars into his tac vest and grins at William. "Of course," Gabe echoes.
Gabe's confidence does not exactly ease William's mind, since Gabe's confident about nearly everything, even when he's got no hope of winning - the mud wrestling tournament comes to mind, and William never would have guessed Gabe would be so horrible at it, except that might've been Gabe's point, getting tossed around and pinned in the slick, slippery mud.
There's the small matter of Jesse Lacey, too. William absolutely does not like or trust Jesse Lacey. Jesse Lacey is a slimy rat bastard. William has no proof of this, but he's absolutely certain it's true.
"You won't let that rat bastard Lacey shoot him by accident?" William asks, eyes narrowed.
"I can't speak for Lacey, Bills, you know that," Gabe says, still grinning, and William normally likes Gabe's grin - it's creepy, and always gives him the nicest shivers - but Lacey just ruins everything, right?
"I'm depending on you, Captain Gabe."
Gabe snaps a smart-ass salute.
William pokes him in the chest. "Don't make me set Maja on you," he says, and Maja might be Gabe's teammate, Gabe's trusty astrophysicist, but she doesn't stand for any of Gabe's shenanigans.
"Don't worry, Bill." Gabe grabs his sidearm, buckles his thigh holster and tugs the straps tight. His eyes are nearly black. "If Urie's there, we'll bring him back."
If they weren't murdering alien scum, William might feel sorry for any of the Wraith that happen to get in Gabe's way.
Brendon seriously has the worst ideas. This one is easily in the top five, right up there with the whole miniature dragon planet last month - and, hey, how was he supposed to know they actually breathed fire, right? They were so cute! - and that time he traded some native kids a chocolate bar for those beans that tasted like licorice but apparently made you invisible. And okay, that one had been pretty cool, at first, until the degenerative skin disease came into play. So, yeah, he has bad ideas. This is not a surprise.
"Hey, so, you really don't want to eat me, right?" Brendon babbles when the drones shove him in the middle of the back, make him stumble to a halt in front of this toweringly huge Wraith. "I'm kinda small and, like, stringy."
The Wraith - Queen? King? Royal ugly dude? - bares its teeth and hisses.
Brendon wishes he were witty, quick on his feet, 'cause he kind of just wants to pee himself and huddle in a corner. He's never telling Spencer that, but, hey, he guesses that doesn't really seem likely to happen, seeing as how the Wraith are just going to suck him dry. Like those evil Skeksis in The Dark Crystal, only even they were pretty neat looking. Jim Henson was a freaking genius and, oh god, he's never going to have another Muppet conversation with Wheeler - "Boober, Nick, you can't like Gobo over Boober, seriously, are you retarded?" - and that's. Well, that's the least tragic of all this maybe, but it's still on the list. The List of Things Brendon Will Never Do Again. Because he'll be a dead and dried-out husk. It's vain and all, but he hopes Spencer never has to see his old-man corpse.
Brendon suspects he's a little hysterical.
The Wraith cocks its head at him, and things didn't normally take this long, right? It's, like, dinner time, Brendon supposes, and it's leaving him hanging, and then the Queen - King? - says, "Kneel, human," in this horrible wet voice, and, okay, Brendon would have totally kneeled if his brain was functioning properly.
But it doesn't really give him a chance to respond, just reaches up a clawed hand, barely touching his temple, and repeats, "Kneel."
It hurts. God, it hurts, even though he's not resisting. He doesn't care. He'll do whatever the hell the Wraith wants if it means Bryar has time to plan an escape. And then its hand is on his forehead, the pain spreading faster, harder, snaking through his nervous system and expanding and he thinks, Shit, right before his mind whites out.
It's pure dumb luck. Three knives, three fucking chances, and he gets it on his second try. The one time he knows about this plan actually working, he'd heard it had taken dozens of knives to trick the door mechanism - and he's always been curious about how they'd hidden that many knives on them, but it was Dex, and Dex is the sort of guy who's prepared for any contingency - and Bob really hadn't been holding out any hope at all.
When the bars slide back, though, he doesn't waste any time pondering the fucking miracle of things going his way for once. There're others, he knows - trapped in similar cells, probably villagers he's met down on the planet, people he's greeted with a handshake and a guarded smile - and he's a shit, maybe, but he does a cursory scout, clicks his radio, and after none of his own people respond he grabs the little girl, tucks her fingers into his belt and tells her to hang on, stalking off as quietly as possible down the closest hallway.
He's not there to save everyone. He needs to find Urie, needs to get to him before the Wraith pick his brain apart, because Bob's been there before, he's got the marks on his chest to prove it, but it hadn't been a Queen who'd interrogated him.
Urie, Bob suspects, is sort of unbelievably easy to break.
The air in the lab is eerily subdued. Ryan tries to convince himself that he likes it, that it's a break not having Brendon sprawled all over his desk, his notes, talking his ear off.
Patrick resettles his hat and stares at him, and Ryan tries not to let on that his skin itches, that his brain's basically numb, because his best friend is off on what is possibly the most dangerous mission in a series of dangerous missions - although normally Ryan's with him, and that makes a difference - trying to rescue his other best friend, and Ryan has never before thought of Brendon like that, but he is. He really kind of is.
And then there's Jon. Ryan is not sure what to do with him yet, but there are no guarantees, right? Jon may not come back, either.
"Ryan," Patrick starts, slow, and Ryan shakes his head.
"Yeah, no, I don't want to talk about it."
Patrick narrows his eyes behind his glasses, but it isn't any sort of glare. He's wearing his thinking face, the one reserved for particularly hard puzzles and Pete on his gloomy days.
The thought of Patrick comparing Ryan to Pete makes him grimace. "I'm fine," he insists, scrounging up some kind of smile.
Patrick draws back, hands curled over the edge of his desk. "Looks it," he says, but he smiles back, fleeting. "If you ever want to talk, you know." He nods his head.
He looks earnest, and Ryan's head feels tight, like someone's squeezing a band around his skull. He forces out, "Jon."
Patrick's brows climb up his forehead. "Jon," he repeats. His lips quirk, and he fists a hand, props his chin on top of it. "Jon's pretty hot."
Ryan covers his face with a palm, skin heated. "That's not. I mean, he's." God, Ryan's so embarrassed.
Patrick laughs, though, and some of the stillness, the quiet, gets jostled aside.
Frank once found a quantum mirror. It'd been freaky, getting spilled into alternate universes, one where Frank Iero was a repressed accountant who had this blinding expanse of bare skin - and, sure, he might've found that out by tackling his other self to the ground and stripping off his staid button-down, but seriously, there was nothing, not even one tiny tattoo, and it'd been like looking at a stranger, a total ghost version of himself - and Frank's pretty sure he'd been some sort of serial killer, too, because a Frank Iero that calm had to have a special brand of crazy behind his eyes. He'd had a wife there, Jamia, two stubby-legged dogs, and a baby girl.
He'd jumped through two worlds where he'd never lived past age ten, cut down by all those fucking childhood illnesses. There'd been one where he'd never gone to Atlantis, where he'd gotten infected by the Ori like a damn red shirt, mind boiling past anything survivable, even though his body was technically still living, hooked up to a machine in a VA hospital just south of DC. He'd landed for a couple days where he'd been a rock star, seriously, with Gee at the mic, Ray and Bob the boys in the band, and Mikey. Fuck, that'd been a shock, to see Mikey so alive, and he'd never told Gerard about that one, even though he probably would've loved to hear about it, anyway.
In this world, in his real world, Frank's friends could get eaten by space vampires, have their brains destroyed by nanobots, get shot or stabbed to death by hostile natives, the Genii brotherhood, if they're feeling ornery. Sometimes, Frank can't sleep at night.
He feels Gerard shift behind him on the bed. He sits up and hooks his chin over Frank's shoulder. "You're worrying," he says.
"Yeah." Frank never bothers lying to Gerard. He'd just call bullshit and tickle him until he caved. Frank doesn't feel like laughing, right then.
"Bob?" Gerard asks, and Frank just half-shrugs, because he's not specifically worrying about Bob, but he's not not worrying about him, either.
"Okay." Gerard yawns against the side of Frank's head, wraps his arms around Frank's waist. "I'm worried about Bob."
"Ray's got Saporta and Lacey with him," Frank points out. Gerard is warm against his back, and he smells like the noodle casserole they'd served at dinner, heavy with that tomato-like plant they're growing on the mainland.
"Yeah, somehow that doesn't make me feel any better."
"Oh, come on." Frank jabs Gerard in the gut with his elbow, grinning at his pained oof. "If anyone's gonna pull this off, it'll be Gabe." Gabe's a creepy motherfucker, ruthless to a fault, and it wouldn't surprise Frank at all to hear he'd blown the entire fucking hive to smithereens. He likes getting a job done, and getting it done as destructively as possible.
Gerard makes a sleepy sound, tugs on Frank's body until he's got him lying down again, pulled half across his chest - the beds are fucking tiny, and Frank's small, but he still wishes the Ancients had been a little bit more into comfort, seriously - and Frank shuts his eyes, listens to the lazy thump-thump of Gerard's heart.
If Frank had to pick a favorite animal, Joe knows he'd pick seals. He's a freaking xenobiologist, studies alien life forms, animals that have fucking furry beaks or saber teeth or horns for eyes and shit, but Frank loves seals. He doesn't have to say it - Joe doesn't think he ever has, actually - but it's pretty obvious whenever he catches any of Frank's documentaries. Leopard seals, specifically, although Frank's voice gets kind of soft whenever he talks about Weddells, too.
They haven't found anything that even remotely resembles any of them yet, not in the water, anyway, and for some reason that makes Joe a little sad. Frank should have seals to play with.
Joe strips off his boots and socks and sticks his feet in the little pool. It's late, the lights dim, and the little silver fish shimmer and flash as they skim past his ankles. The pool mostly just houses Tito, though, Frank's giant red starfish.
He feels a tickle on the bottom of his foot, and a thick arm slides over his ankle, up his calf, the tip just peeking out of the water, wiggling.
"Careful, he'll pull you under," says a voice behind him, and Joe nearly topples over into the pool.
"Pete, fuck," Joe says, twisting around.
Pete beams down at him. His eyes look tired, though, dark smudged, and Joe wonders where Patrick is.
"Can't sleep?" Pete asks.
Joe rubs a hand under his nose. "Half my team's gone."
Pete bobs his head. He doesn't offer any words, which is good, because Joe knows that everything Pete loves is on Atlantis. He drops down next to Joe, though, folds his legs up away from the edge but reaches forward, slapping the surface lightly with the flat of his hand.
Tito's clearer now, a huge dark red mass directly below them. Another arm comes up, playfully pushes against Pete's palm. The pool is open to the ocean, way down deep, but Tito always finds his way back. Joe thinks it's for the food. He's seen Urie tossing in Doritos after Daedalus runs.
"Bob'll be fine," Joe says, because he knows Pete isn't going to say it. "Bob'll be fucking golden."
"Yeah, Joe. Okay." It isn't quite an agreement, Joe knows. Pete wraps his other hand around Joe's wrist, shakes it a little. "Okay."
Saporta's singing. Saporta's singing something about fucking snakes, and Spencer kind of wants to punch him in the mouth. He clenches his hands into fists on his lap, stares down at the metal floor.
There are five of them in the puddlejumper. It's not crowded, but Spencer feels hot, stifled. Walker sits down next to him on the bench in the back and nudges him with his knee.
"Hey," he says.
Spencer doesn't look up. He says, "Remember when you said you'd tell me." He takes a deep breath. "You'd let me know if, if this was making me reckless."
Walker doesn't ask what he means by 'this.' He just nods his head. "Yeah, Spencer."
"Okay. Okay, as long as you remember," Spencer says, slanting him a glance.
Walker's watching him, mouth an unwavering line, but his eyes don't look judging. Finally, Walker smiles. He reaches over, tugs on the front of Spencer's tac vest. "Leutenant Smith," he says, "we don't just let our scientists die," like it's that simple. Like Spencer's heart won't be carved out if they only find Brendon's remains, if they don't find him at all.
It helps, though. Fuck, it helps, because Walker promised, Walker won't follow orders he doesn't believe in, and thank god, thank god Spencer gets to try.
There are cocoons tightly lining the corridors, one after the other in seemingly endless rows. Bob knows what's inside them, but he doesn't look. There are no noises. Bob doesn't know if that means the people encased in them are dead, or if they've just given up hope, and he doesn't want to know.
Patrol drones almost catch them once or twice, but Bob's quick, and the little girl is quiet, solemn, hands tight on his belt. Bob spares a fleeting thought of pity for her. He never had to grow up that fast.
It's like a honeycomb inside, hallways spawning more hallways, a maze of twists and turns that just go deeper and deeper into the hive. When they spill out into a circular chamber, Bob stumbles to a stop, frozen, because there's a table in the middle, huge chairs pushed snug up against its wooden edges, and Urie's on the ground, curled into himself, a tiny, unmoving lump.
"Fuck," Bob breathes.
There's no Wraith, he sees that straight off. They've just left him there - dead? - and for the first time Bob starts panicking, because they don't teach you these things at boot camp. They teach you how to follow orders, how to not get your fucking face smashed in, but they didn't say anything about finding your fucking scientist dead, or how to deal with honest-to-god B movie monsters whose main goal in life is to eat you, and find out where there's more of you to eat.
Maybe they were right about his lack of experience at the SGC. Maybe if he'd gated off-world from Earth before, been involved like Walker, he wouldn't have found this so hard. He'd been attacked himself before, yeah, but it's different, it's apparently much worse, when it's a civilian under his own protection.
The girl makes a sound, a small sound, and then the pressure at Bob's waist is gone and she's darting in front of him, falling to her knees next to Urie.
She tugs at Urie's arms, pulls him over onto his back, and even from where he's standing across the room, Bob can see how pale he is.
He makes his feet move, rushes even, and then he's staring down at Urie's body, and. His chest moves. Urie's chest moves, a slow up-down, and his face is unlined, hair not even peppered gray, and it's fucking unheard of, maybe, but Urie, he's. He hasn't been fed on, not by any outward signs.
"Jesus, Urie," Bob mutters, hunkering down to check his pulse. "You're so fucking lucky."
Urie's heavier than he looks. That isn't the problem, though. The problem is that their only way off the ship is in a dart, and Bob isn't a pilot. He isn't a pilot, he has no idea how to read Wraith, and he'd have to dematerialize both Urie and the girl to fly them out. So, basically, they're still screwed. They're just all screwed together again.
Bob knows, in theory, where the dart hangar is. They'd all seen diagrams in their prep for going off-world. But he's pretty sure they're lost. Everything looks the same, every turn an exact replica of the one before, all the corridors lined with the exact same cocoons, pillars of flesh and veins.
When a couple drones stumble on them Bob's almost relieved. It's something different, at least. Except they're kind of powerless, with Urie a limp weight over his shoulder and the kid clutching at his waist, so Bob does the only thing he can think of. He slides Urie to the ground, pushes the girl behind him and launches himself at the nearest Wraith.
He's tossed aside easily - Wraith are freaky-strong - his back hitting a cocoon with a sickening squelch, and then the drone has a Stunner raised, and Bob doesn't remember anything past the first bright flash of pain.
Sheppard radios them from the other 'jumper just after they make orbit around PX4-00S. He says, "Let's keep things quiet, kids," and they're cloaked, hovering, clock slowly ticking down to the ETA Zelenka and McKay had given them.
They'd 'gated to the largest inhabited world that was directly in route from PX1-300, leaving Kennerty's team on the ground and praying for the best. There'd been several smaller planets between there and here, and it was a risk, skipping them, but if the hive ship had jumped into hyperspace, this is the first one that actually makes sense as a feeding stop.
They're waiting now. Spencer looks pale, but determined, and Jon meant every word he'd said to him.
Spencer might only be thinking of Brendon right now, but there's no doubt in Jon's mind that Spencer would've reacted the same exact way had it been Ryan on that ship, or even Jon. They're remarkably like a family.
It isn't really odd, thinking that. Jon's heard Dr. Vogel talk of his Atlantis family before. He's seen Dr. Simpson lean into Lieutenant Miller, seen them laugh, give one-armed hugs. Patrick says it's the first wave syndrome, that all the original expedition members are like that, except Dr. Parrish seems just as close to Major Lorne, and Lieutenant Cadman and Dr. McKay have this strange sort of sibling rapport, and Jon has always loved that. Jon thinks maybe a family like that so far away from home is one of the best things ever.
He hears Spencer suck in a noisy breath and glances up towards the front of the 'jumper, his own inhale catching at the site of the enormous hive ship. He's never actually seen one before, a huge black-green mass, lit intermittently with eerie yellow lights.
"That's motherfucking ugly," Saporta says. He looks eager, like he wants to blow the shit out of it, and Jon's never been quite sure about Saporta. There's a chance he'd take any opportunity to destroy the Wraith, destroy any of their enemies, without any regard to human life.
Lacey's got an unlit cigarette hanging from his lips, hands resting on the butt of the P-90 angled down across his chest. He grins at Saporta. "Thing's practically alive, man. I wonder if it bleeds."
"I fucking hope so," Saporta says, and Jon's just really glad he's on their side.
They maintain radio silence as they land precariously on the beams crisscrossing the dart hangar. Spencer memorizes their position, stepping out the back hatch of the 'jumper. Several beams away, he sees Colonel Sheppard and Dex do the same, followed closely by Teyla and Dr. McKay. Sheppard catches his eyes, motions to the exit. Spencer nods, nudges Walker, and they slip towards the doors, then move aside for McKay and his deft fingers to trigger the release. He shoots them glares until they back away even further, and Spencer can tell he's just dying to say something, biting his lip in the effort to not comment on how mammothly stupid they all are.
Spencer knows McKay isn't too thrilled with the whole rescue, and he's honestly not sure why McKay's along, anyway, other than the very obvious fact that he knows his way around a hive ship and is familiar with Wraith technology. Still, Sheppard hovers, eyes sharp, lips pressed together, and Spencer thinks he isn't very happy with having McKay along, either. If he had to guess, Spencer would say McKay bullied his way onto the mission against Sheppard's protests.
The door slides open with a quiet hiss, and McKay tips his head back to smile triumphantly at Sheppard. Sheppard rolls his eyes, but claps McKay's back companionably as he stands.
There're three corridors winding away from the bay. Sheppard jerks his head to the left, indicates that Toro should lead the other way, and Spencer points directly ahead, waiting until Sheppard nods before gesturing for Walker to follow.
Communication's reduced to Morse code, clicks of their radios, as they split up. Even that's risky, though, so they keep conversation to a minimum, the burble and hum of the hive ship around them more than a little unnerving. Spencer steels his spine, passes the yellow pods, the cocoons lining the hallways with barely a shiver.
Bob can't fucking breathe. He can't move, can't feel his face, the tips of his fingers or toes, and he knows that's partly because of the Wraith Stunner. He's been hit by one before, is familiar with the paralyzing numbness, the pins-and-needles pain creeping slowly back into his limbs. The other reason he can't move, though, is because he's surrounded by some seriously disgusting goo. Fuck.
He can see, and if he calms the fuck down he can breathe, too, because the Wraith aren't going to suffocate their meal before they can properly feed, right? He can feel his left arm. Kind of. But that doesn't exactly matter, not when it's pinned in place, stuck fast to his side, but he wriggles his hand anyway, testing the elasticity of the cocoon, sees how far he can squirm before the sticky stuff stretches taut. Not very far.
And then he thinks he's so far gone he's fucking hallucinating because Ray, Major Ray fucking Toro, who has these manic curls springing out of his bandana, testament to too much time away from Earth and not enough downtime to worry about a proper military buzz, is slinking down the hallway, P-90 up, Lacey and fucking Captain Saporta holding steady behind him.
He can't talk, he finds, mouth muffled by the goo, but he can make sounds, and thank god Ray isn't like him, that he turns at the first sign of life in one of the pods, eyes widening as they lock with Bob's.
Ray's on him almost immediately, fingers tangling with the strands around his head, his mouth, and Bob finally breathes out, "Urie," and Ray just shakes his head, one shoulder jerking up in what could be a shrug, but could just as easily be the effort he's taking in stripping Bob out of the cocoon.
Lacey helps, Saporta poised behind them, alert and angled away, and soon Bob's stumbling into the corridor, a sticky mess, his whole body tingling as feeling races back to all his limbs. He shakes his hands, his legs, his arms, rolls his neck and takes deep breaths.
"Urie," Bob says again, ignoring Ray's signal for quiet. He says it in a hush, eagerly taking the sidearm Lacey holds out to him. "There's a girl, too."
Lacey rolls his eyes, and Bob mouths, "Kid," because he gets the need for silence, but Bob doesn't have his radio anymore, it seems, and some things are important to get across. There's Urie, yeah, but that little girl had been depending on him, no matter how much he'd been bullshitting their chances of survival, and Bob may occasionally be a shit, but he's not going to just leave her there, not if there's a chance they can find her.
Ray gives him a sharp nod, and Bob falls in line behind Lacey, in front of Saporta.
When Spencer crosses paths with Sheppard again, Sheppard has a small army of villagers behind him, gray-faced and grim, obviously reserving happiness at their release until they're off the entire fucking hive ship.
Spencer hasn't seen anyone. His belly is hollow, throat sore from constant swallows, the effort it's taking not to shout Brendon's name. He recognizes some of the natives, though, knows they're on the right ship, and a little bit of hope swells, makes him blink his eyes rapidly to tamp down any premature relief.
And then he spots Dex, towering behind the civilians, a familiar figure cradled in his arms, face pale against his brown leather shoulder, and he doesn't know if Brendon's okay, if he's alive or if they're carrying back his body for a proper goodbye, but a surge of joy rushes through him anyway, short-lived and so strong Spencer thinks, fuck; fuck, I'm in love with him.
He doesn't have time for any freaking out, though, not with Bryar - thank god, Bryar - racing towards them along with Toro's makeshift team, not with the sudden burst of sound, the high-pitched whir of the hive ship alarm.
They're only one level up from the hangar, and Sheppard shouts, "Run," all orders for silence revoked.
Spencer hangs back, waits until Dex scowls at him and grunts, "You should move it, Smith," before picking up his pace, making sure to keep a length behind him. It's ridiculous, because Dex can handle ten times the amount of danger that Spencer can, but it makes him feel better anyway.
Spencer thinks maybe the look Dex throws him as they dive into the hangar, the last ones through the door before McKay jams it closed, is a little amused at his expense. Spencer doesn't really care.
"Fuck," Bob says, dropping his head into his hands.
Jon clamps a hand on his shoulder. "All right?" he asks.
"Yeah," Bob breathes. "Yeah, that was just really fucking close."
Jon completely agrees. He'd seen Spencer's face as he'd blindly followed Dex onto the other puddlejumper. They'd instinctively split the villagers that Sheppard had picked up, shoving them in wherever they could, and now that they're out of the hive, Jon can afford to be a little amused by that, how Sheppard always manages to rescue more than his fair share of victims.
"Sergeant Bob," someone squeals, and then there's a blur of movement and a little girl practically throws herself at Bob, wraps her arms around his neck and Jon has to bite his lip to keep from laughing, Bob's bewildered face shifting into happy relief.
Bob pulls her into a brief hug, says, "Hey, kiddo," and when he tries to set her back a space, her fingers lock and she just climbs right up onto his lap.
Jon does laugh then, because Bob's pained expression is pretty hilarious.
Bob shoots him a glower, then tentatively cups the girl's head, fingers tangling in the spill of dark hair. "Told you we'd be fine, right?"
She nods against his shoulder.
"Right," Bob says, and sighs.
When Brendon wakes up, Spencer is going on his fourth hour at his bedside. He would've been there longer, but they'd had to debrief, and he'd had to go back to his quarters to at least pretend to sleep before Carson would even let him past the infirmary doors.
Technically, Brendon's been unconscious for fifteen hours, but god knows how long he'd been out on the hive ship. Spencer's just relieved Carson had only found him suffering from dehydration, a few cuts and bruises, one nasty slice high on the back of his shoulder.
There are no marks on his chest. Carson had assured him of that, but Spencer had checked himself, once he was alone, pushing up Brendon's scrub top, running his fingers over his ribs, sternum, pressing his palm flat against Brendon's heart.
And when Brendon's eyes finally flutter open, Spencer shoots to his feet, shouting for Ritter, the night doctor on duty.
Then Spencer says, "Brendon," curling his fingers tight around the bedrail to keep from reaching for Brendon's hand.
Brendon glances up at him, licks his lips, and rasps, "Who?"
It's fucking classic, that's what it is, Joe thinks. Urie has amnesia, and he's holed up in the infirmary and he's pretty sure they're all shitting him with this outer space crap.
"Fucking classic," Joe says.
Bob looks up from his mashed potatoes, which he'd been studying pretty fucking intently. "Joe," he says.
"No, I mean, he's practically untouched, right? So of course he doesn't remember anything."
"Joe," Bob says again, stepping on Joe's foot and pressing down. Really, really hard.
Joe grimaces. "We up to footsy now?" he asks, because they have this thing. This buddy-fuck thing, and Joe's totally happy with it, don't get him wrong, but he's maybe getting a little attached. He wouldn't actually say no to, like, anything soft like that. He's not a girl, but it would be cool to fucking cuddle or whatever occasionally, you know?
"Hey, hey, I'm not Urie, right. You don't have to keep repeating my name for me to remember it, dude." Joe thinks he's funny. Bob, apparently, does not.
Bob slides his chair back with an awful screech as he stands up, leans forward, knuckles resting on the tabletop. Joe flinches back at the pure fury in Bob's eyes.
"Just shut up, Joe," Bob growls, and Bob growling is totally hot, and he's trained Joe so well, really, even with the scary anger present.
Joe's turned on in the middle of the commissary at lunchtime, and he would've been embarrassed by that, except Joe doesn't get embarrassed. Joe doesn't really care what other people think of him.
And it looks like Bob's still a little raw from his hive ship captivity, Joe totally gets that. There was that adorable little girl, too, and they'd sent her back to her world even while she was wailing for Bob not to leave her, and, okay, probably not Bob's best week. "Bob, seriously," he holds up his hands, "sorry, man. I"
"Joe," Bob cuts in, and he leans down even further, and people are starting to stare, Joe can feel the unsaid chant fightfightfight in the attentive tension around the room, "my quarters. Fifteen minutes."
Joe straightens up, beams, which makes Bob glare even harder at him. Cool.
Brendon - his name is Brendon, which is weird, since he feels like a Lorenzo or a Caesar, something exotic sounding, but whatever - is so sorry, he really is. "I'm sorry," he says, because Ryan - the guy's name is Ryan and he's skinny and intense - is sort of scary with this pinched scowl.
He's pretty sure this is one huge joke - another galaxy? Seriously? - but he doesn't want to piss anybody off.
Spencer - Lieutenant Spencer Smith, apparently, and he's kind of really hot - grabs Brendon's arm and, hey, manhandling? Totally one of his kinks. It's sort of fun to collect all these little details of his old life, even if he'd rather just remember it all.
"Urie," Spencer says, pulling him over to a window - and the surname Urie totally deserves a Ramon or something, seriously. "Does this look like Earth to you?"
"Hey, we're on an island?" Brendon asks. There's blue as far as he can see, a calm stretch of ocean.
Spencer sighs, a short, exasperated sound, passes his hand over a box at the edge of the pane of glass, and the wall slides open onto a balcony.
"Just look, Urie," Spencer says, urging him outside, and when Brendon turns around to protest - manhandling's one thing, but he can live without the pushing, thanks - his gaze flicks up. And up.
"Is this a castle?" Brendon glances back down to find Spencer scowling at him.
"It's a city," Ryan says from behind Spencer, hand hovering over Spencer's upper arm, but not quite touching.
Spencer's shoulder twitches, like he can feel the touch anyway, and then he spins on his heel and stalks off.
"What's wrong?" Brendon asks, bewildered. He can't help it that he doesn't remember, and he's already apologized, and it's not like he even had to, right?
Ryan shrugs, says, "He's always grumpy," and that's fair enough; likely, even, but for some reason it doesn't exactly ring true.
"So Brendon doesn't remember anything?" Frank asks, sitting down across from Ray.
Ray nods, swallows his mouthful of turkey sandwich.
Andy - Andy the Vegan, who isn't really a vegan, not anymore, anyway, because it's tough to be a picky eater on Atlantis, but they named him Andy the Vegan to separate him from Andy the Butcher, even though it never really stuck with anyone other than Joe, who likes shouting, "Andy the Vegan!" because it's the one thing that's sure to get a rise out of the laconic biochemist - twirls his pen between his fingers. It's a space pen. Frank's had his eye on it for a while.
Office supplies are kind of limited, and a pen that can write upside-down is coveted above most other things.
"One hundred dollars," Frank says, and Andy arches an eyebrow. It's his are you fucking kidding me? look, because money is sort of laughable there. They all get paid exorbitant salaries, and it's not like they need any Earth currency at all on Atlantis. Frank debates offering his hoarded pile of Cadbury bars then realizes Gerard would fucking kill him. Gerard doesn't understand Frank's lust for new age writing utensils.
Frank pouts, stabs his fork into his macaroni and cheese. He keeps requisitioning them, but pens always end up up-for-grabs the minute they beam down off the Daedalus, and Frank's pretty sure it's some sort of conspiracy. Frank never gets first dibs on the supply crates.
Andy asks, "How's Smith taking it?" and Ray gets his Shultz on - "I know nothing, I see nothing" - and Andy rolls his eyes.
Frank shrugs a shoulder. He's pretty sure Smith isn't taking it well at all, but you'd never know it to look at him. "Who the fuck knows, right?"
"Tough break," Andy says, grimacing. Andy's, like, the Casanova of the science team - he's even got military groupies, and Frank's not sure how that even came about - so it's not like Andy can relate.
Which maybe isn't a nice thing to think, but Frank can't help but wonder if it'd been him or Gerard, can't help but think about how tenuous their grip on life is in Atlantis, how much between them would be left unsaid if something, anything, happened to either of them, and fuck. Fuck, Frank's been a melancholy asshole for weeks now, ever since the alternate dimensions incident, and he's really surprised Gerard hasn't called him on it.
He needs to cheer the fuck up, because an emo Frank is almost as bad as a suspected psycho Frank - with paisley ties, seriously. "I'm gonna go toss Joe's Cheetos to Tito. Who wants to come with?"
"Was this thank god I'm alive sex, or just a let me shut you up with my dick fucking?"
Bob watches the curve of Joe's back as he bends forward to grab his boxers off the floor. "Does it matter?"
Joe looks over his shoulder at him, hair a loosely curling mess, expression sort of amused. "What if I said it did?"
Bob shrugs, tugs the sheet up over his stomach. It's not like he doesn't like Joe. Joe's great, when he isn't being an insensitive asshole. Joe's loyal and funny and competent, when he isn't completely stoned. He's pale under his tattoos, and Bob reaches out, curls his hand around a hip, eyes locked on his thumb as he brushes the pad over soft skin.
"Bob?" Joe asks, low.
Bob's fingers clench, pull. "Lay back down," he says.
"Really?" Joe twists, eyes big, boxers hanging from limp fingers.
"Yeah," Bob says, gripping Joe's waist more firmly, tugging at him until he tips over, back almost touching Bob's chest, side-by-side on the bed. "Yeah. We've got no where else to be."
Jon does not exactly understand Ryan, but that's okay. Jon's a patient guy.
Ryan's a little stiff, expressions doled out in these tiny, small amounts that take practice and dedication to spot. He's not closed off like Spencer, but that somehow makes it even harder to read him.
He's affectionate, in his own way. Little touches, standing closer than warranted, holding hands even - holding hands seems to be his favorite, linking loose fingers, callused thumb a slow rub. There's nothing big or sweeping or enthusiastic about Ryan, and Jon kind of likes his strange quietness.
And then he got to experience the extreme opposite, and kind of likes that, too. Likes Ryan out of control, and if it hadn't been for the fact that alien drugs had made him do it, Jon would be panting at his door every night, begging for more. As it is, he figures that's kind of presumptuous. Ryan mainly seems painfully embarrassed by the whole thing, like it's something he wants to forget ever happened.
Or maybe not. Jon's learned a lot about Ryan in the past year, but he's never exactly sure what Ryan's thinking.
"How's Spencer?" he asks, hitching a hip up onto Ryan's desk.
Ryan doesn't look up from his laptop. He frowns, says, "Not great," but the tops of his cheeks are red. He's been flushing an awful lot around Jon the past month. Jon's pretty sure that's some kind of sign. He's just not sure if it's a good one or not.
"Maybe we should try a team bonding night," Jon suggests, because Brendon always used to enjoy those. "We can put on one of Brendon's favorite movies."
Ryan flicks a glance at him and their eyes catch, and Ryan flushes even more, lips pressed together.
"Ryan, hey," Jon starts, but Ryan just shakes his head, says, "Movie night sounds good. I'll let Spencer know," and just like that, Jon's been dismissed. He can hear it in Ryan's tone, and Jon's torn between being pissed off and amused.
He settles for an odd mix, knuckles Ryan's shoulder. "Someday, Ross," he says.
Ryan's eyes widen. "Someday what?"
"Someday I'm not gonna let you get away with this shit." He leans down, plasters on his best wolfish grin - and Jon's really sort of easygoing, but he didn't spend months doing recon deep in the Amazon for nothing; he just hides his hard edges really, really well - and says, "Fair warning."
Spencer is kind of irrationally pissed. He knows it's stupid, to be angry about Brendon, about something that can't be helped. So Brendon doesn't remember anything. He doesn't remember anything about his life, about Atlantis, about Spencer, and there's no way to tell when or even if any of his memories will come back at all. And Spencer doesn't know how to react to Brendon, doesn't know if he should take a step back, be just the team leader again, and fuck. Fuck, he really doesn't want to do that.
It surprises him, how much he really doesn't want to do that.
Asking William for advice about it is an accident, honestly. He's running on little sleep, frustration humming in his bones, and it's totally an accident that he blunders into William's lab and lays out everything on the table. It's not like he can just take it back, though, now that he's said it. William would never let him get away with that, not without public humiliation being involved.
William leans back in his chair, fingers curling over Zippy. He flips the geode from hand to hand, lips pursed. "Are you sure you're not secretly in love with Dr. Ryan Ross?" he asks, and Spencer just stares at him, incredulous.
"What?" He'd known this was a bad idea. William may have his fingers in every pie on Atlantis, but that doesn't make him actually helpful, right?
"Never mind." William waves a hand, grins. "So. Urie. Feelings aren't memories, you know," he says, and Christ.
Spencer isn't a fucking girl. He doesn't want to talk about feelings, especially not with William Beckett.
"What I mean is, Smith," William says, still with that bright, manic grin, like he's making fun of Spencer deep down inside - and this is seriously his worst idea ever, to visit William - "it's not going to traumatize him if you jump him."
"It's not," Spencer echoes, because, okay, it's not exactly what he'd wanted to hear, but it's a step in the right direction.
"He's still Urie and you're still you." William shrugs, tosses his hair over his shoulder. "Buy him a pony and you'll be set."
The sad fact is that if Spencer had the ways and means to buy Brendon a fucking pony, he would. He suspects William knows this, too.
"This is entirely unfair," William says, shuffling his cards. Urie's won three hands in a row, and they'd had to re-teach him the whole game.
Gabe rolls his cigar between his teeth, staring at Urie thoughtfully. "Makes me think you were losing on purpose before, Dr. Urie."
Gabe flicks Travie a look, one of his darkly amused grimaces that William finds endlessly sexy and equally, wonderfully scary, and says, "You can't say you haven't thought the same thing, McCoy."
Travis laughs. "Yeah, because this is Urie. Not like he doesn't live for sugar, right?"
Urie blinks, half a chocolate bar stuck in his mouth. "Huh?" he mumbles, and Travis slaps his back.
"Man, don't listen to Gabe. Beginners luck. Happens all the time," Travie says, because apparently Travie's just rolling in chocolate, and he hasn't been sharing with William. It's tragic.
"It happens," William mutters petulantly. "Doesn't mean we have to like it."
Gabe's door chimes, and then Jon's standing there, hands in his pockets, leaning on the doorframe. "I'm here to collect Brendon for dinner," he says. And then he straightens up, growls, "Oh, hell, you gave him sugar, you assholes?" and suddenly William feels much better about the whole thing.
"Lots of sugar, dear Jonny," William says, grinning.
"I hate you all. You realize Spencer's going to kill him, right?"
"Hey, you know, I'm sitting right here," Urie says, arms folded over his chest.
"If by kill, you mean"
"Bill." Jon narrows his eyes at him.
"We'll settle this on the mat," William says grandly. "Would you like to settle this on the mat, Jon Walker?"
"You can't take Walker, Bills," Gabe says. He tosses in a few chips, and Travis says, "We haven't even dealt a new hand, dude."
Gabe shrugs. "I'm feeling lucky. Care to play, Walker?"
"I need to get Brendon here some wholesome food before we end up scraping him off the ceiling," Jon says, crooking his finger at Urie. "Come on. Spencer's waiting."
"Spencer scares me, Sergeant Walker," Urie says, getting to his feet. "I think he wants to eat me."
William snickers. There are so many places he could go with that.
Travie kicks him under the table, though - and he knows it's Travis, because Gabe doesn't really care if William spills out a few innuendos; looks forward to them, even - and now Travie is no longer on his short list of possible denizens of William's Naked Paradise. There's a planet in the database with hot springs, and if he can just get rid of the fire ants and depressing villagers, he's planning on retiring there one day, bringing along his own fleet of sexy bodies. "You've been back-listed, Travie," William tells him. "It is indeed a sad, sad day for all mankind."
The melancholy atmosphere of his labs is strangely off-putting. "Why are you all whispering?" Rodney demands, and there's barely a ripple of response from his minions. They all look tired, but they've been tired for years, so this marked lack of flurried activity is uncalled for, not to mention completely irresponsible. They have things to do, projects to work on every second of every waking day.
Radek pushes his glasses up the slope of his nose. "Dr. Wentz has disappeared," he says, and Rodney rolls his eyes.
"Yes, like that's a new development. This should be an incentive." Productivity always slows with Wentz dancing around the lab, flashing his donkey smile and tight pants.
"Badminton finals start this afternoon," Simpson says, frowning, and his entire department has lost their minds, seriously.
"Do I look like I care?" He might have, once, but then Teyla and Katie had pummeled his team two rounds in and he'd realized badminton was stupid.
"Pete's missing," Salpeter says, "and Maja kissed Patrick."
Rodney jerks his gaze to Ivarsson's console, and she just gives him an elegant, unconcerned half-shrug.
"Patrick is sweet," she says, her grin sharp, and Rodney thinks she probably instigated the whole mess on purpose, because Ivarsson lives to be a pain in Rodney's ass. She's like a tiny waspish insect, intent on him dying of anaphylactic shock.
He jabs a finger at her. "Keep your harpy tendencies under control, Ivarsson," he says, but she just laughs.
Gerard finds Pete in his room. He walks into his quarters, sees Pete curled up under the unicorn blanket Frank had given him for Christmas, and he stands there, hands on his hips, wondering what the hell he ever did to deserve Dr. Pete Wentz in his bed.
"The fuck, Pete?" he asks, because it's not like Pete's even sleeping. He's just lying there, staring up at the ceiling.
Pete flicks a glance at him. "I got lost," he says, and that's bullshit, because Pete had to have spent a goodly amount of time jimmying his lock open. He'd known exactly what he was doing.
"Spin me another one," Gerard says, but he drops down on the bed next to Pete, pulls his legs up and hooks his arms around his knees.
Pete wiggles his feet under the covers. "You and Frank are easy," he says, and Gerard goggles at him, slightly incredulous.
"Gee, thanks," he says, because, seriously, what the fuck?
"You and Frank. How'd you make that work?" Pete asks like he's genuinely curious, leveraging up onto his elbows to catch Gerard's eyes.
Gerard shrugs. He's fucked up a lot of things in his life, beginning and ending with Mikey, although he can only blame himself, he knows it, and when he'd joined the SGC, well. It's just something that he isn't going to fuck up, no matter what, and Frank kind of comes part and parcel with that plan. "We just do," he says. It's not something he wants to question. He'll take Frank any way he can have him, and that's that.
"Patrick kissed Maja," Pete says. He's gone from blue to petulant, though, so Gerard thinks he's already on his way to shaking off his funk.
"You might want to flip that."
Pete nods. He says softly, mostly to himself, Gerard's sure, "I can make it work, too," and Gerard doesn't say anything to that. Pete may be incredibly smart, but he has even less common sense than Gerard does, and Gerard can be pretty flaky sometimes.
"I'm going to nap," Gerard says, pushing himself further up onto the bed and flopping down next to Pete, leaning halfway onto him, arm across his chest, because that had been his original plan. Afternoon nap, while practically everyone else is down on the south pier watching the last few cutthroat games of the badminton tournament. "You staying, or are you gonna go help Greta and Wheeler kick team Walker's collective ass?"
"Shit." Pete pushes at Gerard roughly, rolls out of bed with a thump and a muffled, "Ow," as his face hits the floor.
"Did you guys know you have a space sea monster in that room with all the pools?" Urie asks, following Walker into the common lounge. "It almost ate me."
"It's a starfish," Walker says. He's smiling, though.
Urie squishes in between Smith and Ross on the couch. "It's huge. So, movie night?" he asks. "What do I like?"
"Dogs," Ross deadpans.
"Puppies, kittens and bears, little Urie," William says, long limbs sprawled all over the far couch. "It's adorable."
"Fuck, you're watching Milo & Otis again, aren't you?" Urie turns big eyes on him, and Bob sighs. "You'll love it, Urie," he says, and maybe it'll jar his memory or something, because god knows Smith looks like a fucking zombie, sleeplessness rimming his eyes.
Urie actually doesn't look much better. He's in a good mood - Bob's pretty sure Urie's always in a good mood, no matter what - but he's pale, and if he looks close enough, he can see tiny shakes in his hands.
Bob's comm. link clicks, and Joe's distinctive giggle is followed closely by, "Bob, Bob, seriously, I think I broke Patrick, seriously, dude."
Bob pinches the bridge of his nose. "Where are you?"
"Uh, um, I don't. Wait, wait, we're in that," there's a snapping sound, "you know, that hydroponics lab," Joe says, and Bob gets to his feet.
"Do I want to know how you broke Patrick?" Bob asks. He wonders idly when it became his job to clean up after Joe, but he figures it must be a trade off for all the hot sex. Plus, teammates. That actually means something out here.
"He's. He's an adorable pumpkin, right?" Joe says, and Bob doesn't honestly know what that means, but he's pretty sure it has to do with Joe's stash of pot.
"I'll be down," Bob says. It looks like he's babysitting scientists for the rest of the night. Better than watching Dudley fucking Moore talk out of kittens and puppies, though.
"Hey, hey," Joe says, "bring my bag of Cheetos with, 'kay?"
Spencer makes Brendon nervous.
He makes Brendon's skin itch, makes him jittery and dry-mouthed, and Spencer insists on seeing Brendon to his quarters after the movie is over. It's good, it is, because after a week Brendon's still getting lost - the city is huge; Atlantis is huge, and, seriously, he'd been so sure they were joking but another galaxy, Christ - so it's really helpful of Spencer. To help him. That doesn't make Brendon any less uncomfortable, though.
"Home sweet home," Brendon says, pressing the crystals next to his door, and Spencer crowds up behind him, pushes his way in, grabbing Brendon's arm, twisting so they're looking at each other. Brendon's heart is pounding so hard he's pretty sure Spencer can hear it.
Brendon thinks the lights on, and then Spencer narrows his eyes and the room dims again, so Brendon can't see their color - blue, he knows, this awesome clear blue - but can still catch their gleam, and he says, "Spencer, what"
He doesn't finish. He doesn't finish, because Spencer is kissing him. He's kissing him with his whole body, and Brendon doesn't know how that's possible, but it is. Spencer's completely open; his stiff, parade rest posture that he's been holding all freaking week melting into this boneless, unrecognizable boy, a desperate, almost pained whimper in the back of his throat, and Brendon has to kiss him back, he has to, because he thinks it might break Spencer, otherwise.
Spencer moves from his lips, slips his hands up Brendon's back, up under his shirt, and Brendon braces his own palms on Spencer's chest.
"Oh," Brendon says as Spencer's teeth nip his jaw line, because that's. That's really sort of incredible, actually, Spencer's mouth. He asks, breathless, "So we do this?" and Spencer hisses, "Yes," against his neck.
That's pretty much okay with Brendon. Better than okay, maybe, and he let's Spencer maneuver him backwards towards the bed.
Frank likes Tito well enough. He's no seal, but he's friendly and weird and he sometimes gets in these moods where he'll cling to Frank's ankle and won't let him go. In a way, he reminds Frank of Gerard.
It's getting late, and Frank's seriously hungry. Tito already ate all the Cheetos.
He sprawls back on the cool tile floor, kicks his free foot in the lukewarm water and sighs. And then Gerard is smiling down at him, hair tucked behind his ears.
"Hey," Gerard says.
Frank grins back, and Gerard's smile widens, lights up his whole face, and Frank feels like a dick for not giving Gerard that more often. He says, "Sit with me?"
Gerard sinks onto the edge of the pool next to him, catches Frank's hand and squeezes. "Mission tomorrow?" he asks.
"Routine trade." Routine trade missions are boring, but Frank isn't going to complain, not after their last time off-world. It's hard to predict hostiles, but they've been to this planet three times before so chances are good that they'll make it out alive.
Frank doesn't know what's tougher: leaving Gerard behind or having him along, like Joe and Bob. Joe and Bob might think they're being discreet, but it's really kind of obvious; the near hero-worship shining out of Joe's eyes, Bob gruffly overprotective.
"Frank," Gerard says, and it isn't really a question, but his brow is furrowed, smile falling on one side.
"You know," Frank reaches up, tugs on a chunk of hair hanging over Gerard's eyes, "in this one universe? You were a total rock star."
Patrick is feeling fine. He's a little fuzzy, mostly tired, but he smiles at Pete when Bob shoves him into his quarters. Pete is fiddling with his laptop, minesweeper up.
"Patrick, Patrick, hey," Pete says, snapping the computer shut and getting to his feet.
Patrick shakes his head. "Bed, seriously," he says, snagging Pete's waist, 'cause Pete's nice and warm, and Patrick's been in the damp hydroponics greenhouse all night, and the recycled city air is making him chilly.
"Hey," Pete murmurs against his temple, and Patrick can feel his smile, the stretch of his lips on his skin. He says, "I'm sort of not easy."
Patrick snorts. Like that's any kind of revelation. He seriously doesn't feel like having a Wentz-talk right then, though; he wants to sleep, wants to snuggle into his covers and if Pete's going to stay, he's going to have to snuggle, too. Thems the rules.
"Later," he says, pushing Pete down onto the mattress and climbing under the blankets after him, "you can tell me how hard you are later," and, oh man, that totally came out bad. He giggles into his pillow, presses his knuckles up against his mouth.
Pete says, "You are so high," but he wraps an arm around him, pulls him close. "You're not allowed to hang out with Joe anymore. Joe's abused his Patrick privileges."
"Joe's awesome," Patrick says through a yawn. Joe is so awesome. "Joe has soft hair."
"Yeah," Pete agrees. He flops over onto his back, bringing Patrick with him, tugging off Patrick's cap and tossing it aside, pushing and pulling him until he's half-draped over his body, head tucked under Pete's chin.
Patrick sighs into his chest. He says, "G'night, Pete," and closes his eyes.
It's weird going off-world without Brendon. Normally, Weir would've put their whole team on temporary stand-down, but Spencer had been going stir crazy, Ryan could see it, so they'd set off with just the three of them on little scouting missions; boring, uninhabited planets with mildly promising stats.
Of course, their third planet in, they find habitants. The yelling would be a lot funnier if they didn't have guns.
"A plague of santolanos on your house!"
"May a clardike piss in your well!"
"I shake my thumb at your overly-large breasts!"
"What the hell kind of feud is this?" Spencer asks. They're hiding in a line of trees just outside the tiny village. There are five houses, each packed with about ten or so natives, gun barrels poking through open windows and broken slats of doors.
They can't actually see who's shouting what.
Jon's laughing his ass off. Ryan just wants to get back to the 'gate.
"You sagging piece of morlong crap!"
Jon laughs harder. "Do you think they're just making up words?" he gasps, and Spencer slaps the back of his head. "Oh, come on. It's funny."
And then, of course, Ryan gets shot.
Jon instantly sobers. "Fuck, Ryan."
"Um." Ryan's clutching his arm, and he can. He can smell the blood already, and is that possible? Is that fucking possible? Because he doesn't even really feel it, he just knows it should hurt, but he's kind of numb, honestly. And then he panics, starts to hyperventilate a little because that's shock, isn't it, and shock is bad, he knows this, they've all had, like, emergency medical field training.
Blurrily, he registers Spencer hovering over him, something tight winding about his arm until it does hurt, fucking kills, fire exploding out of his shoulder and upper arm, and he can't pass out, he can't. They need to make it back to the 'gate; he needs to be able to walk. He clenches his teeth, breathes through the pain and keeps his eyes shut tight, face screwed up.
"I'm fine," he manages.
"Jesus, fuck, Ryan, you're not fine," Jon says, and hey, that's nice, except Jon's voice is kind of shaky with worry, and Ryan's been shot so he's going to make some allowances for Jon's un-soldier-like - unsoldierly? - behavior.
He hears Spencer growl, "Shut up, Walker," and then there's even more pressure on his arm, and stars sort of sparkle in front of his closed eyes and then everything goes dark.
The klaxons sound at the unexpected wormhole activation. It's Walker's IDC, and they drop the iris, but they only get a radio transmission.
"Ross is shot," Walker says, and Weir's already calling for a med team when he goes on, "Fucking planet has warring tribes. They're not letting us leave, and I don't think they'd appreciate anyone else stopping by. Sundown's at approximately 0700, Atlantis time."
Ten minutes later, Ritter and Gaylor are in the 'gate room surrounded by cases of medical supplies, and Sheppard's team is tacked up, snapping the last snaps on their thigh holsters, vests.
Bob feels no desire to get involved, but Urie's vibrating beside him, hovering on the steps leading up to the control room. "All right?" he asks, slanting him a glance.
Urie licks his lips, bobs his head. "Sure."
Bob smirks. "You suck at lying."
"It's just. They're my team, right?" He twists his fingers together, tangling with the hem of his shirt. "I should be with them."
"You don't remember anything, Urie. You're a fucking liability, and there's nothing you can do." It's maybe not what he'd wanted to hear, but it's the truth. Bob doesn't believe in pulling punches, especially not with lives on the line.
Urie doesn't flinch, though. Maybe he's got more sense than Bob gives him credit for.
"I." Urie pauses, screws his face up. "It all seems so familiar," he says. There's a thread of frustration in his voice, and Bob claps his shoulder.
He doesn't tell him it'll all come back because Bob isn't a fucking doctor. He has no clue what's going on in Urie's brain. But familiar's good. Familiar's better than nothing, right? "That's something," he says.
Urie shrugs. "Still means I'm useless, though," he points out, sliding his hands into his pockets.
Bob rolls his eyes. He's got no patience for self-pity, and it doesn't suit Urie, anyhow. "Come on," he says. "We'll swing by the labs for Joe and check out what the mess has for dinner."
"Food will not cheer me up, Sergeant Bryar," Urie says, but he's smiling a little. "Food is not the answer."
Before he can even fully register his words, Bob's saying, "But Joe is," and Bob doesn't do denial. Bob's enlisted infantry, yeah, and he loves his job and he's careful, as much as he can be, but he's not ashamed, and no matter what anyone else says, the higher-ups, the government, the MPs, harsh words and a slip of paper, a kick to his ass, nothing's gonna make him a disgrace, not in any way that really counts. Hell, he's been skirting the edge of dishonorable discharge since he smart-mouthed his drill sergeant and his nose and front teeth had ended up casualties in a disagreement with a brick wall.
Urie's grin widens, turns sly, like he knows something he shouldn't. "I talk to Joe. I talk to Joe when he's high," he says, and Joe's got no filter when he's stoned, Bob knows.
That isn't something Bob worries about, though. Getting eaten, yeah, surviving his tour, seeing the other side of thirty, maybe, but Joe. Joe's golden.
Ryan is really uncomfortable and cranky and he wants to be back on Atlantis, wants his own bed, and the hillbillies of MG3 are really starting to piss him off. It's dark out. Clusters of fat candles are burning low on a wobbly table in the center of the room.
Jon's kneeling by his pallet, frowning in concentration as he cleans and redresses Ryan's wound. "We need to get the slug out," he says, and that is absolutely the last thing Ryan wants, at least not without a properly licensed medical doctor present.
Spencer ducks inside the clapboard building and says, "No luck yet. No sign of anyone from Atlantis, either. Are you sure they understood?"
Jon nods, bites his lip, tugs the bandage tight.
Ryan hisses, but the pain is banked by their emergency supply of morphine. It makes him slow, tired, but he still hears Jon say, "I'm worried about infection," to Spencer, still hears the concern in his voice.
"I'm fine," Ryan says. He's fine, because he can't be not fine. Felled by a rogue bullet on a planet where no one can even write their name - Ryan's convinced they're all first cousins or siblings or something - is possibly the worst way to die. That's not even cool. Only Ryan could get shot and killed by Jed fucking Clampett in outer space.
"Sure you're fine," Jon agrees this time, curling his hand around Ryan's wrist. "You're peachy. Just relax, and we'll be out of here in no time."
Ryan can't see his face anymore, but he's pretty sure Jon's talking out of his ass. "Right," he says.
Spencer's not talking to him at all, hasn't said one word directly to him since he woke up in this fucking shack, and Ryan so knows why. Spencer thinks Ryan's going to die. Spencer is a sucky, unsupportive best friend.
"Hey, hey," Jon says, and Ryan realizes he's panting, breathing hard, and he clenches his fist, his uninjured arm, and says, "Spencer, you better not have me fucking buried yet," because he knows Spencer, and Spencer has this annoying habit of always thinking the worst.
And then a radio clicks, and Sheppard asks for their position, and Ryan silently thanks god for minor miracles.
Spencer's shaking by the time he makes it to his quarters. He's not sure if the surge of adrenaline's from intense relief or delayed panic, but he just wants to curl up in bed and wrap his covers tight around his body. He doesn't even want a shower yet, doesn't want to wash off the reminder of just how close he'd come to losing Ryan. Morbid, maybe, but morbid's gotten kind of commonplace in Pegasus.
When his door slides open, though, there's a familiar figure sprawled out on his mattress. Brendon's on top of the blankets, fully dressed, a pillow hugged to his chest.
He smiles. Christ, Spencer smiles, despite everything, just looking at Brendon hollowing out his stomach, making his heart speed up in what he reluctantly admits is a giddy dance.
Spencer sits down gingerly on the edge of the bed, bends over to unlace his boots, strips down to his boxers and then starts in on Brendon's clothes, easing him out of his pants and shirt with little regard to his sleeping state, but Brendon doesn't even really stir. He just snuffles a little, makes a smacking sound with his lips and tongue, and obediently rolls under the covers when Spencer shoves at his shoulder.
Spencer crawls in after him, shifting in the narrow bunk so he's curled over Brendon's side, arm tucked around his waist, and Spencer's out as soon as he closes his eyes.
He's woken up less pleasantly, he doesn't know how long after, by a muffled shout and a kick to his shins and an elbow in his face, fuck, so hard blackness sparks behind his eyes for a few seconds, and there's no way he's gonna be able to explain away the shiner he'll have in the morning.
Brendon's thrashing, small whimpers in his throat, and Spencer thinks the lights on, dim, sees that Brendon's eyes are still shut tight, sees that he's too pale everywhere, that his expression is caught somewhere between pain and fear.
"Brendon," Spencer says, getting up on his knees, shackling the tops of Brendon's arms, shaking him. "Brendon, hey, you're okay, wake up."
Brendon pulls and twists in his grip, but Spencer holds on. Holds on 'til the jerky movements become shakes and the whimpers become harsh pants of breath.
Brendon blinks open his eyes, dark and haunted, and a band tightens around Spencer's chest. "God." Brendon drags in big gulps of air, his body falling limp.
Spencer loosens his grasp, keeps his fingers light on Brendon's upper arms. "Hey."
"That," another shaky breath, voice only just above a whisper, "that really happened, didn't it?"
"What did?" Spencer asks, soft. Brendon looks small. He looks confused and broken, and Spencer swallows hard, throat dry.
"Those. Those things, right?" Brendon says. "Those monsters, they're real."
"Wraith," Spencer says. "Yeah." He moves again, up and off Brendon, slides his hands down to Brendon's wrists, and then Brendon unexpectedly lurches up, kicks the covers aside and wriggles his way onto Spencer's lap, straddling him.
He wraps his arms around him, tight, and Spencer tentatively slips his hands up Brendon's back, cups one around his nape.
"I wish I could remember everything," Brendon murmurs, mouth hot against Spencer's neck.
Spencer's not sure why he would want to. He's a little scared of what Brendon will see, of what had actually happened on that hive ship, but on the other hand, it seems like it's all spilling out into his dreams, nightmares, anyway.
"I wish I could remember you, before," Brendon goes on, and Spencer automatically tightens his hold, drags Brendon even closer, his legs falling open on either side of Spencer's hips.
Spencer wishes that, yeah, but he's not going to let that change the here and now. "You were and are the most annoying guy alive," Spencer says. He feels Brendon smile against his skin.
There are a couple things Pete needs to get straight. "There's some things we have to get straight, you and me," Pete says, looming over Ivarsson's console. He's pretty crap at looming, but Ivarsson's tiny, and if Greta would stop giggling - he shoots her a glower, but that sets her off even more - he's sure Ivarsson would be properly impressed.
As it is, she just arches an eyebrow. "Yes?"
"Yeah." Pete nods. "You don't get to kiss Patrick."
She smiles. It's got sharp corners. Catching his hand, she digs her fingernails into the soft under skin of his wrist. "Then you will make sure it is not necessary, correct?"
Pete narrows his eyes. "It wasn't necessary then," he says, and Ivarsson laughs, husky and mocking.
"Patrick is sweet," she says. "He should always be kissed." She loosens her hold, pats the back of his hand, then turns to her computer again.
Pete stares at her. He's pretty sure Ivarsson just gave him her blessing or something which is weird and still totally unnecessary, but whatever.
"You may go now," she says without looking up from her laptop. Her sharp nails click gratingly on the keys.
Pete huffs, mutters, "Witch," under his breath but obediently stalks off.
"If you're going to hide, and I'm not saying you are," Patrick says reasonably, "this is probably not the best place to do it."
Patrick can't exactly say he isn't surprised to find Ryan by Tito's pool - Ryan doesn't normally interact all that well with living creatures - but it's a fairly high traffic area. Tito's pretty popular among the city's denizens.
Ryan blinks up at Patrick. He's still in a set of scrubs. He's got a sling on, bandages keeping his arm tight along his chest. "Patrick," he says. "I have a severely inappropriate crush on Sergeant Jon Walker."
Well. Patrick thinks maybe Ryan's on a high dosage of painkillers, too. He nods slowly. "Okay. Are you even allowed out of the infirmary yet?" People escape from the infirmary all the time on Ritter's watch, so it's entirely possible.
Ryan crooks his finger at Patrick, beckoning him closer, and Patrick sits, bends his legs, and presses his palms into his kneecaps.
"What's up?" Patrick asks.
Ryan leans into him, props his chin on Patrick's shoulder so his mouth is right by his ear. "Jon, Patrick," he whispers. "Jon. And I've already had sex with him."
"Whoa." Patrick reels back, because that's a little bit too much information.
Burying his face in his good hand, Ryan mutters. "Seriously, god. Fucking aliens."
Patrick's slightly confused, but he doesn't really want to encourage more sharing. He stares hard into Tito's pool, nods, blindly agreeing with whatever Ryan wants. He's contemplating how he's going to get out of here without offending Ryan - he's kind of sensitive, especially on the rare occasions he's in a talky mood - when Ryan starts snoring. Soft, whiffling breaths, head curled down, mashed up against Patrick's arm.
He taps his comm. link. "Walker?"
Patrick grins. "I've got something for you. Down in marine lab five."
Jon catches his wrists in a loose hold. "Hey, wait, are you okay?" he asks, and Ryan feels great, feels like his skin is glowing, and he groans, because Jon's fingers are hot, so hot, and he needs more, needs everything, and he's sorry, he is, but he can't help himself.
"Sorry," he says. "I'm sorry, Jon, I can't"
"Ryan," Jon says, and his voice vibrates against his lips, and Ryan suddenly realizes he's got his mouth pressed into Jon's throat, slow, sucking kisses, his body frantically sliding along Jon's, and he can't stop, doesn't want to stop.
"It's okay," Jon says, and Ryan's closer, Jon's hands on his back, smoothing up under Ryan's shirt, petting him lightly as Ryan almost shakes apart. "It's fine."
It's not fine, though, Ryan's pretty sure it's not fine at all, but that doesn't seem to be making any sort of difference.
"Fuck." Ryan hisses in a breath, covers his eyes with his palm. The steady beep of monitors, hushed voices in the next room, harsh scent of astringent - he's back in the infirmary.
A deep, throbbing burn radiates down his arm, over nearly his whole left side. Painkillers must have worn off.
Ryan shifts his hand down, catches Jon's eyes.
"You all right?"
"Hurts," Ryan says, and he doesn't mean to sound like a whiny kid, but it fucking hurts.
Jon pats his good arm, smiles softly. "Soon. Ritter gave me strict instructions."
Ryan nods, and Jon's smile hardens at the corners, grows determined.
"Ryan," he says, and Ryan knows that voice. He hears that voice in his sleep, a low, husky slide.
Ryan swallows. "Jon"
"No, hey, how 'bout you let me talk this time?" Jon moves closer, and his fingers are gentle on Ryan's forehead, pushing back his hair, and he doesn't say anything for a while, just looks.
He doesn't say anything for so long that Ryan ventures a small, "Jon?" and Jon shakes his head.
"I suck at words," he says, and then he takes a deep breath, cradles Ryan's cheek with his palm and leans down.
Ryan is sure Jon is going to kiss him. He's really, really sure, actually, and he freezes, eyes wide as Jon's mouth hovers just over his. They stare at each other until Jon's eyes start twinkling like he's laughing inside, even though it never spills out into the air. And then they flutter closed, and Ryan marvels briefly at how light his eyelashes are, how the tips are almost blond.
Jon bites Ryan's lower lip. He whispers, "Stop thinking, close your eyes," like he can feel Ryan's bewildered gaze on him, and Ryan isn't exactly sure what this means, why Jon's doing this, but he's used to trusting Jon. He's used to doing what Jon says.
Ryan slips his eyes closed, and Jon murmurs an approval, and the kiss is soft, a tentative sweep of his tongue across Ryan's dry lips, and then he's pulling back, bright-eyed.
"I want to do that again," Jon says, and his cheeks are flushed. "Sometime."
Ryan nods. "Okay."
The day that Brendon remembers his fifth grade teacher - "Mr. Appleton! He wore sweater-vests and jelly bracelets and I was totally going to marry him when I grew up!" - is the day a single hive ship shows up on their long-range radar scans.
"This is not good," Zelenka says, pushing his glasses up his nose. "They should not know we are still here."
"Well," Sheppard says, hands on his hips, "either we didn't get the thing-a-ma-jig in time"
"Thing-a-ma-jig?" McKay cuts in, half his face scrunched up in disgusted disbelief.
"or they plucked the information right out of Urie's brain," Sheppard goes on, ignoring McKay. "What are the chances that they want their pet back?"
"You think they're after Urie?" McKay asks, incredulous.
"Hey, one hive ship." Sheppard shrugs. "It's a possibility."
Spencer isn't exactly sure what they're saying, but he doesn't want to interrupt the colonel.
Brendon says, "Wait, what?" though, and they all turn towards him, hovering behind Chuck's control console. He's got wide, panicky eyes.
McKay flaps a hand. "You were implanted with a chip; your mind was wiped clean; logically they were keeping you as a pet, Urie," he says.
"I was. I was microchipped?" Brendon asks, and Spencer clenches his hands into fists, because, hey, that information would have been nice to have weeks ago.
They'd fucking tagged him, and if they hadn't rescued Brendon, he'd be one of those freaky Wraith worshippers, and he wouldn't. He wouldn't have remembered them at all, ever, and that thought is fucking frightening.
"How long until it arrives," Weir asks, and Zelenka taps the screen.
"Five days," he says. "Maybe sooner."
Brendon is totally not scared of Ronon Dex. "I'm not scared of you," he says with this great conviction in his voice, and Ronon arches a furry eyebrow.
"Good," he says. His voice is all gruff and deep, and Brendon's stomach does a nervous somersault.
He's not sure why Dex is there standing in the doorway of his quarters. Dex has barely said two words to him - unless manly grunts are considered words - and Brendon doesn't get the impression they were all that close before he lost his memory.
And then suddenly Dex is whipping off his leather tunic and hey, hey! He's got great muscles and all, but Brendon's pretty sure Spencer'll kill him if this goes where Brendon thinks it's going.
"Um." Brendon takes a step backwards, hands up. "What are you"
"Beckett did a good job," Dex says, turning away, shaking his dreads aside. "The scar's mostly from my own attempts."
"Oh," Brendon breathes. Dex has a dark, puckered mark high on his back. "Is that?"
"Wraith," Dex says.
Brendon reaches out a tentative hand then yanks his arm back before he can touch the skin.
Dex shoots an amused look over his shoulder, a half-grin on his mouth. "You can touch it," he offers.
Brendon shakes his head. "No, that's. It's okay," Brendon says. He really doesn't want to touch it. He can't even reach his own - he'd tried, twisting in front of the mirror - so he doesn't want to touch Dex's. "So you were, uh, a pet?"
Dex grunts, drops his tunic. The curve of his lips turns feral. "More like big game," he says, and at Brendon's blank look - what? - he goes on with, "They tagged me, set me loose, then tried to kill me."
Brendon's eyes widen. "Oh. That's, um. Sorry?"
Dex laughs, a short bark, and he punches Brendon's shoulder lightly. Which isn't all that light for Brendon, and he staggers a little, catches himself on the back of his desk chair.
He feels a smile twitch across his lips, though, and then he thinks, wait, and scrabbles at the hem of his shirt. "Do you want to?" he asks, because fairs fair, and Dex had shown him his.
Dex says, "If you want," and Brendon knows it's because Dex is doing this for him. Dex's scar is years old from the looks of it, and it's probably not something he'll ever forget, no, but Brendon doesn't think he goes around flashing his hurt for his own peace of mind. This is for Brendon.
Brendon doesn't have to, but he pulls his shirt up anyway, turns his back to Dex.
Dex says, "Not bad," and Brendon doesn't know if he means it doesn't look bad, or if the scar is suitably impressive. He finds he'd be okay with either, honestly.
Dex doesn't touch him, and Brendon never would have told him not to, but he's glad. He thinks of Spencer, of Spencer's softly callused fingers, and he wants those hands telling him it's okay, not Dex's.
They share a look when Brendon faces him again, though. Brendon thinks, wow, and, cool, and hey, I'm bonding with Ronon Dex!
He can't wait to tell Spencer.
Growing up, Gerard had always wanted a hamster. He'd begged his grandmother for one, and he'd never gotten it, and then he'd realized that he couldn't even keep track of his brother, so how the hell was he supposed to take care of this little animal; a tiny fuzzy body that would depend on him for everything? Of course, that revelation had come during the fucked-up period of his life, and he'd been mostly drunk and sobbing like a giant fucking baby, and that's in the past now, so he can totally take care of the little mousey thing Frank had given him.
The thing with Brendon is fucking with his mind a little, though. "Do you think Craig likes his cage?" he asks Frank. Craig looks like a naked mole rat, except he has soft cream fur and isn't blind.
"It's a fucking awesome cage, Gee," Frank says absently.
"No, I mean." Gerard kicks up his feet. He's on his stomach on his bed, watching Craig munch on Cheeto crumbs, and, okay. It's a pretty kick-ass cage, that's true. Pete had helped him make it - Gerard's an excellent engineer, but Pete's kind of brilliant at making things out of practically nothing - and it has all sorts of cool levels and tubes that wind around half of his room. "Do you think he's happy?"
Frank looks up from his book - his actual book, the one he's been writing for the better part of a year on alien marine invertebrates, and that's just so cool - and says, "He's not unhappy," because he knows better than to patronize Gerard. It's one of Gerard's favorite things about him.
"But. You could argue that Brendon wouldn't have been unhappy, either," Gerard points out.
Frank nods slowly. He puts down his manuscript - seriously, his manuscript, how awesome is that? Sometimes Gerard thinks he's more excited about the book than Frank is, although it's not like he can publish it anytime soon - and moves over to the bed. "Okay," Frank says. "We can let him go, if you want."
Gerard's heart beats a little faster. The thing is, he doesn't want to give Craig up, and that's kind of bad, right? But Craig is super healthy and his coat shines, and Gerard is doing the greatest job ever taking care of him, and that's new. That's different and nice.
Gerard says, thoughtfully, "He's sort of domesticated now, though." Craig hops on Gerard's palm to be petted and sits by his bowl every morning, waiting for food, and what if he's forgotten how to forage?
Frank smiles at him, digs an elbow into his side. "You're so the best at taking care of him, Gee," he says cheekily, and Gerard says, "Fuck off," with an affectionate grin.
"Patrick," Pete says. "Patrick, if you were ever kidnapped by Wraith I'd totally rescue you."
Patrick arches an eyebrow. Pete kind of wants to lick it. "I never go off-world, Pete," he says.
"Still. If it ever happens, you can depend on me." Pete would be so good at rescuing Patrick. Except for the part where he'd have to hold a gun. He'd sort of failed most of his field tests. "Only if Sheppard would let me go, though," he amends. "Which he probably wouldn't, since I'm a scientist, and I accidentally shot Saporta that one time, but it's the thought that counts, right?"
Patrick stares at him.
"I'm serious," Pete insists. He thinks maybe Patrick doesn't believe him, but he'd do fucking anything for Patrick, he really would. Patrick is his best friend in the whole entire world, in all the galaxies.
"Okay," Patrick finally says. "Thanks." He smiles a small Patrick smile, and it's pretty awesome. His cheeks are pink.
Pete tugs on the brim of Patrick's hat. "See," he says. "We're easy."
"Dude," he slaps Pete's hand away, ducks his head, "speak for yourself."
Jon hears the soft rustle of fabric, the slight hitch of breath, and he spins, catches the front of William's shirt and pins him up against the corridor wall in one smooth motion.
William grins this huge grin down at him. "Point to you, Jonny Walker," he says, hands up and out in surrender. Jon isn't fooled. William is a sneaky fucker, and he's been hanging around Saporta a lot lately.
Jon glances up and down the hallway cautiously before letting him go, because William isn't above bringing in help to get the drop on him. When he doesn't spot anyone, though, he flashes William a smile and steps back, smoothing the wrinkles in William's away science uniform.
"Got a mission?" he asks. William isn't on a team, but his skills are in high demand. He's awesome with C4.
"Back to M45," William says cheerfully, tugging on the hem of his jacket. Jon knows the mining planet is a favorite of William's. "We're blowing up the north face this time. I'm hoping to find dinosaurs."
"Dinosaurs," Jon echoes. He shakes his head, amused.
"Mayhap a handy ZPM, too, you never know. Oh, oh, and listen." William grabs his arm, face schooled as serious as he's capable of. Which isn't much, but it's the effort that he puts into it that has Jon's ears perking up. "I heard about Urie, poor lamb."
Jon blinks. "Okay."
"Yes," he says, nodding. "Truly horrifying." He cocks his head, flipping his hair over his shoulder. "Although kind of cool when you think about it."
"When you think about it."
"Jon Walker, think." William holds up a finger, presses it into the center of Jon's forehead. "The biggest bad-asses in the galaxy want Urie as a pet."
William's eyes turn dreamy, and Jon's pretty sure he's imagining lying around on satin pillows, being handfed chocolate kisses, and, okay, Jon's not gonna knock the image, except the hands that would be feeding him are clawed and have a soul-sucking mouth in the middle of one palm. It takes away from the whimsy, honestly.
"Okay," Jon says. "I don't think I'm going to tell Brendon that."
William shrugs. "Whatever you fancy, my friend. I'm off to the armory."
Impending Wraith invasions should probably have meant the halt of all off-world activity, except William and Travis have had this trip off-world planned for weeks, and there's the small matter of a rumored ZPM. Preliminary energy readings had been promising, so it wasn't as if the mission wasn't very important. That was William's winning argument, at any rate.
They hadn't been expecting any complications.
William never dwells on the unpleasant, though. He's a great supporter of good things, so perhaps the mission to M45 isn't going quite as smoothly as he'd hoped, but there are brighter sides to focus on.
"How can you be smiling, dude?" Travis asks, and William holds up a finger.
He holds up a finger and pauses dramatically, long enough that he sees a smile twitch at the edges of Travie's mouth, too, and then he says, "I fished my wish."
The adorable Corporal Wheeler rolls his eyes. Or at least William thinks he rolls his eyes since it's dim where they're hiding. He senses Wheeler's silent sarcastic disbelief. William's excellent like that.
There's a screech and then a huge shadow passes over the grassy field spread out in front of them.
Asher snaps her gum, shifts the P-90 in her hands. "Can we shoot it down?"
Kennerty scratches the back of his neck, squints out into the sunlight. "I think it had babies."
"Seriously, you and your dinosaurs, Billy," Travis says, shaking his head.
William had been hoping for bones, but the pterodactyl is almost as good. Almost, of course, because the geological find surrounding alien dinosaur bones would have been fascinating, and now they just have a giant leathery bird intent on eating them.
"I don't see how we could have missed this fucker the last time we were here," Wheeler says. He's inching towards the mouth of the cave on his knees, one hand flat along the rough wall. He tips his face out into the sun, and the pterodactyl screams again, swooping so low its talons drag into the ground, spinning up clumps of grass and dirt. Wheeler jerks back with a curse.
William grins even more brightly and asks, "Well, Sergeant?" to Kennerty, because this is not William's problem. Getting them safely back to the 'gate falls squarely on the military contingent of their little team, no matter the fact that it's probably William's fault the thing is even awake. Or Travie's. He's not taking all the blame here, not when Travis had been recording all those hieroglyphics for Patrick, his voice echoing in the underground caverns.
Granted, William was the one who'd poked it with a stick.
"We'll miss a radio check-in at 1300," Kennerty says. "We miss two, they'll send someone through after us."
"Who will immediately get eaten by Pterry here," William adds cheerfully.
Asher smacks the back of his head, and that isn't nice at all - she's mussed his hair! - and William mentally crosses her off his list of military grunts he'd like to get horizontal with. She has spectacular breasts, but a bad attitude and lethal aim. Or perhaps not exactly a bad attitude but certainly an unfortunate one aimed at all of William's important parts. For sexing.
And then Kennerty's radio crackles, and he starts slightly but taps his ear and says, "This is Sergeant Kennerty, over," and Captain Gabe nearly hoots back, "Jee-sus, Mike, what the hell is going on here?"
Maja is all legs, and William can appreciate that. He also appreciates the way she'd probably eat him if he got overly handsy - she's very particular with who she lets in her personal space - so he sticks to leers and lip-licking and hopes one day all of his prettiness will lure her closer.
"This is cozy," William says, and from the other side of Maja, Captain Gabe gives him one of his huge, evil grins and asks, "So we got a plan?"
Gabe's team had been dispatched before they'd even missed check-in, mainly because Nolan had gotten overexcited about the readouts Travis had sent back through to Patrick a few hours earlier, so now there's nine of them wedged in the little cave, that rat bastard Lacey puffing away at a cigarette, Nolan blinking at them behind coke-bottle glasses, datapad hugged to his chest, gorgeous Maja taunting William with her perfect, BDU encased ass, and Captain Gabe with a gash on his arm that seems to have made Pterry more irate than she had been, scent of blood thick and metallic as it steadily seeps through the hasty bandage Asher had wrapped around it.
"Wait until Atlantis tries to hail us," Kennerty says.
Wheeler - who is seriously adorable, William has always thought so, and he can't imagine him in the Marines, really, but he's got the patches to prove it - rubs a hand over his chin. "You sure we can't just blast it?"
"Fuck, yeah, we can," Gabe says, but Kennerty just stresses, "Babies."
Maja cocks her head and asks curiously, "So you would like there to be more of these monsters?"
"I just." Kennerty waves a hand. "Whatever, my mission. No killing the giant flying dinosaur, okay?"
Gabe can technically overrule Kennerty, but he only shrugs, tugs the cigarette out of Lacey's mouth and sucks it down to the fiery orange end.
One of the arguably good things to come out of Sergeant Bryar and Brendon's capture and subsequent rescue from the Wraith is a pretty awesome camaraderie that's spouted between Jon's team and Toro's.
Somehow, it's fallen to Jon and Spencer to join forces with Toro and Bryar whenever they're gearing up for a rescue mission. So when Sheppard tells Toro to get a team together, Spencer and Jon just wordlessly show up, thigh-holsters already strapped on and P-90s slung over their chests.
They've got nine men trapped on M45, four of them scientists, one of them William, and Jon's got a soft spot for William, it's true. William isn't quite as accident prone as Brendon - he's had more experience going off-world from his years at the SGC, at least, and Jon's seen him in action - but that doesn't stop Jon from worrying.
"Holy shit," Bryar says in a hush when they crest the first hill.
There's a huge bird-thing circling the valley, wings sharp and bony, head jutting out like a hammer's, only really, really pointy. Jon's just glad they'd thought to lug a couple AT-4s through the 'gate.
Toro whistles almost soundlessly, and the four of them duck into some brush, lowering their bellies to the rocky ground.
"It's big, but they're not helpless," Bryar points out right away, and Toro nods.
Spencer catches on and scowls. "We leave it alive, then," he says, and Jon's not a fan of taking lives needlessly, but he'd been looking forward to shooting that thing out of the sky. AT-4s are sort of awesome to use.
They decide on a distraction through almost silent signals - and it's nice, Jon thinks, to have that kind of relationship outside his own team - relaying it as best they can and just as quietly to Kennerty and Saporta, and then Toro's sliding down the hill, gravel spitting out from his heels, P-90 pointing directly up, bandana slipped down around his neck, freeing his curls in an afro to rival Joe's, loud hollers pulling the animal's attention across the valley from the trapped teams.
Toro runs for a separate set of caves, skidding in between rocks and ducking whenever the bird - dinosaur? William's mind is an eerie place, really - gets too close, and Jon thinks they're really fucking lucky it doesn't breathe fire. And then he thinks that he shouldn't think that because with their luck, seriously.
Afterwards, after Toro finds a trail winding away from the valley, loops back around with this triumphant grin, he says, "Hey, look what I found," with something that looks suspiciously like a ZPM tucked under his arm like a football. "Did they normally just leave these things lying around in random caves?"
And when they're sprinting towards the Stargate, a haphazard, panting group, scientists herded protectively in the middle, Dr. Ivarsson says to Toro, between one breath and the next, "You were magnificent," and Jon almost laughs himself silly in relief after they spill back into the Atlantis 'gate room.
Miss Maja has soft hands and sharp nails, and Brendon sighs under the attention as she pets his head. He's lying across her lap in the common lounge, head resting on the armrest, a pillow wedged between her thighs and his torso - she's kind of bony, really - and he's got a killer migraine, and they're watching Frank's documentary on Elephant seals. Miss Maja says it always makes him feel better.
Frank's got this fun, manic energy onscreen so Brendon thinks she's probably telling the truth. It's hard to judge with Miss Maja. She doesn't have a very open face, and lately Brendon's been relying on the kindness of strangers.
She trails a finger down his cheek and says, "You're thinking too hard, darling."
Brendon hasn't seen Spencer in a full day and a half. It's a little hard to avoid someone on Atlantis, but Spencer's been off-world with Toro's team - again, and maybe Brendon's a little jealous; with Ryan and Brendon out of commission, Jon and Spencer have been going on a lot of missions with Toro and Bryar, sometimes Miss Maja, too, and Captain Saporta sort of freaks Brendon out, but whatever. If Spencer really, really wants to not see Brendon, well. It's certainly possible. "Do you know where Spencer is?" he asks.
"Spencer's here," Spencer says, suddenly looming in front of him like Brendon willed him there with the power of his mind, and he seems tired. Really, really tired, but Brendon's still totally happy to see him.
Spencer shoots Miss Maja an unreadable look, and she laughs. Brendon can feel it along his back.
"Bed?" Brendon asks, reaching a hand out and Spencer only hesitates a moment before taking it, pulling Brendon to his feet.
Miss Maja pats his ass. "Good night, Mr. Brendon," she says, mocking laughter still in her voice.
Brendon catches her grin over his shoulder, though, a surprisingly soft one, and he grins back.
When they step out into the hallway, Spencer drops Brendon's hand, and Brendon totally understands, he does. He hooks his thumbs into his belt loops and follows Spencer onto a transporter.
Spencer sighs and closes his eyes, leaning back against the wall.
"Were you avoiding me?" Brendon asks, and it comes out almost in a whisper, even though he hadn't meant for it to.
Spencer cracks open one eye, brow arched, then opens the other one, too, just as the transporter doors slide back on themselves, revealing the corridor outside Spencer's quarters. "No," Spencer says, and Brendon believes him, because Spencer has his bitchy face on, and when Spencer lies to Brendon he always smiles. He isn't always lying when he smiles, but the other way around, yes.
And hey. Hey, Brendon totally just remembered that! "I remember how you lie," Brendon says, snapping his fingers, which in immediate retrospect was probably not the best thing to say.
Spencer purses his lips. "Okay," he says, then spins around to stalk down to his room, and Brendon rolls his eyes.
"Spencer, wait, I mean. I remember that." And Spencer's the one who'd told him that any little memory that came back to him was good, back when he'd gotten a jarring mental flash of Pete's dick. Apparently, Pete had pissed Zelenka off and some of his very private files had flooded the entire Atlantis database.
Spencer pauses, shoulders tight. "You"
"I remember how you lie to me," Brendon repeats softly, and suddenly he remembers more, like the vision of Spencer's smile had wedged a crack into his brain, spilling out all these secrets, and he remembers watching Spencer sleep; night after night for months, like some creepy stalker, only. Only it was because he hadn't been able to close his own eyes, couldn't stop his body from vibrating, a mess of nerves and happiness, and he hadn't wanted to disturb Spencer, so peaceful and slack and soft. Soft like he never is during the day.
He remembers the almost stifling pressure in his chest; he remembers and he feels it, like he's been kind of feeling it for weeks, only it'd been dampened by everything he hadn't known, and wow. "Okay, wow," he says, eyes wide on Spencer's face. "I'm in love with you."
When the Wraith hive ship gets within hailing distance, the Daedalus is still two days out.
"We have a fully functioning ZPM," McKay says, tapping away at his handheld datapad. He's grinning, just a little, since he'd nearly died of rapture - there'd apparently been some squealing involved, and hyperventilating, and there's a rumor he hugged Cadman - "If we need to, we can hold the shield for hundreds of years."
"Or until Colonel Caldwell gets here."
McKay gives Sheppard a scowl. "Yes, or until the Daedalus arrives."
Sheppard rocks back on his feet, hands on his hips. "I still say they want Urie." He cocks a finger at Brendon. "It's sort of a compliment."
Spencer can feel Brendon tense up next to him, though, and Spencer agrees. Compliment or not, it's still fucking scary.
Weir has a pinched look on her face that says maybe she agrees, too.
"We could just destroy them with the chair," Sheppard suggests.
McKay brightens behind him, eyes lit, and he says, "Elizabeth, we don't have much of choice here. They know where Atlantis is. If the Daedalus doesn't arrive in time to"
"Dr. Weir, Colonel Sheppard, sir," Chuck says, and everyone turns to look at him, hovering over his console. "There's an incoming transmission from the Wraith ship. Should I open up radio communication?"
Weir nods, and a voice almost immediately rasps, "You have something of ours."
"They actually came for Urie?" McKay asks, incredulous.
Sheppard shoots McKay a frown, then asks, "Do you expect us to believe you came all this way for that?"
There's a pause. Then, "He has an amusing mind."
"The transmitter was destroyed," Weir says, her hands curled over the back of a chair, white-knuckled. "He's not yours anymore."
"If he ever was," Sheppard mutters, and the Wraith laughs, says, "Human bodies are so fragile, so soft. How do you know that is all that was done to him?"
"We're pretty advanced," Sheppard says dryly, but McKay starts eyeing Brendon warily, like he's carrying some sort of Wraith disease. "Cut it out, Rodney," Sheppard hisses.
"Give us the human." The voice is harder now, less amused.
"Not gonna happen," Sheppard says tightly.
"Give him to us or we will destroy you."
"Can they do that?" Brendon asks. He's antsy, can't stop shifting.
Spencer clamps a hand on the back of his neck. "No," he says, but he's not completely sure about that. He slips his hand away and folds his fingers into a tight fist but moves closer so their shoulders are nearly brushing. Brendon needs the support, and somehow that's more important than any impression they might be giving.
Hell, Spencer needs the support, too, and god. God, Brendon's revelation the day before had rocked him even though he'd known. He'd known because Brendon isn't subtle, doesn't know the meaning of the word, and for months before the Wraith incident he'd been staring at Spencer with this total dreamy expression, like he'd been imagining babies and puppies and picket fences in Canada, and he'd hum under his breath and maybe Spencer had never really acknowledged it, but it'd always been there.
Spencer isn't sure he knows how to say the words back to him, but that doesn't make the feeling any less real.
"They're bluffing," McKay says.
"You're bluffing," Sheppard echoes. "If you were going to attack, you'd have brought a hell of a lot more friends."
Brendon is making squeaky sounds next to Spencer, his breathing harsh.
McKay glares over at him and asks, "Should Urie even be here for this?"
Spencer takes the hint and grabs Brendon's arm - it's for the best, to get him out of there - and Weir leans in as he passes, stops him with arched eyebrows.
She quietly says, "Escort Dr. Urie down to the infirmary, please. Have Dr. Beckett run another full-body scan on him."
Gerard is pretending to run diagnostics on puddlejumper four - Sheppard calls her Sheena, and she's being temperamental and keeps burning the tips of Gerard's fingers; he's got bandages on his thumbs, even - but really he's eavesdropping on Dr. Zelenka.
"No. No, Rodney, we have not finished testing the ZPMwell, I suppose, yes, but we have no idea how it will function. Yes, that could work if youonly there is aof course, do you think I'mif Colonel Sheppard is willing toI will not owe you peanut M&Ms forthree minutes with the shield dropped, maybe less if weYes, yes, and then we canit is ridiculous, but if you believe"
The problem with eavesdropping on Dr. Zelenka when he's talking to Dr. McKay, of course, is that rarely anything made sense. It's even harder to parse when he can only hear one half of the conversation.
Gerard ducks inside the jumper, switches to one of the little used science channels and taps his comm. link. "Pete, you there?"
"Y'ello." Pete's voice is almost a whisper.
"You anywhere near the control room?"
"I'm hiding behind Chuck. Dude, this is awesome."
Only Pete would think a Wraith threat was awesome. "Do you know what's going on?"
"They said they'd attack us if we didn't give them back Urie," Pete says in a hush. "I think we're going to attack first?"
"The chair," Gerard says. The Ancient chair, the one that Sheppard can turn on with his mind, control the entire city through. They're going to power it up and send a few drones their way.
"Man, how cool would it be if the Daedalus showed up now?" Pete asks, and Pete's like him, they hardly ever travel off-world, but even Gerard seems to have more of a survival instinct than Pete.
"This isn't some kind of video game, Pete," Gerard says.
Pete's silent for a weighted moment. Then he says, "Hey, hey, I gotta get my jollies where I can, right?" and his voice is considerably more subdued.
Gerard sighs. Pete's more right than wrong, actually. Their lives are so bizarre.
The Daedalus hasn't shown. The Daedalus hasn't swooped in for a last minute rescue, and John finds himself down in the chair room, Rodney hooked up to its base with a monitor, because they needed to blow the shit out of that hive ship, before it told any of its buddies that Atlantis is actually still standing. If it hasn't already.
In the chair, hands pressed into the controls, John feels the entire city under his skin, pulsing along his synapses, pushing into his brain. Easy now, he thinks, and then everything goes blank. That. Isn't supposed to happen.
"I know, hang on, I'm not"
"There's no power, Rodney," John growls, thinks on on on on. "Don't tell me the whole city's out."
"The whole city isn't out," Rodney says, and John pops his eyes open, glances down at Rodney.
Rodney waves a hand without looking up from his datapad. "I know."
"That's great," John says, mouth tight. "Now fix it."
"Oh, of course, sure, I'll just snap my fingers and"
"Hang on," Rodney says, taps his finger to his radio. "Radek. Run diagnostic onyes, yes, there's somethingno, don't send. Don't send Wentz, are you"
"Rodney," John says.
Rodney holds up a finger. "Just a minute, Colonel. Radek, Radek, don't you dare"
"Dr. McKay," Wentz says, bounding into the chair room, huffing, a gaggle of lesser scientists at his heels. "I think it's the ZPM, the new one, we'll have to reroute"
"All power through the generators, hoping against hope we have enough juice to last long enough to launch an attack, get that online, do it now, you imbecile, oh my god, I'm finishing Wentz's sentences"
"Rodney," John says, reaching out to slap the back of his head.
"I can do this, I can so do this, Dr. McKay. Give me five minutes," Wentz says, ducking back out of the room, and Rodney yells after him, "You have two," then mutters, "Hell, hell, we're all going to die," as his fingers fly over the screen.
Gerard races after Pete, scooting into the transporter right before it slams shut, huffing, and he'd quick smoking, like, years before, but he thinks maybe he needs to keep in better health, maybe jog a little with the Butcher in the mornings or something - he blocks out the little voice in the back of his head that's laughing kind of hysterically at this - because his lungs feel like they're going to burst.
"Second level," Gerard gasps, and Pete nods, presses two fingers against the destination corridor on the map, and the doors are opening again before Gerard can even catch his breath. Fuck. He really, really needs to get in shape.
Pete sprints, and by the time Gerard slip-slides into the room, Pete's already got the ZPM out of its slot.
"Wow, this thing is fucked," Pete says, gingerly holding the ZPM. He sniffs it tentatively, and Gerard resists the urge to knock it out of his arms, because less than two minutes; they don't have time to dick around.
Pete places it aside, pats the top absently. "Now we know why it was just lying around in a cave, seriously."
"Pete, Pete, we have," Gerard flicks a glance at his watch, "a minute and a half to get this rerouted. Let's"
"Concentrate, right," he cracks his knuckles, "I'm totally great at concentrating, Gerard, just"
"I've got it." Gerard pries off the generator casing, dives into the mess of wires and crystals, Pete less than a half-step behind. "We need to connect everything through"
"Ow, fuck, shit, no, no, don't worry," Pete hisses, fingers parsing out wires, Gerard's working in tandem, their shoulders touching, "I'm fine, just get that other crystal"
"It's in, I heard it click, Pete"
"I've got it, just flip that"
"Other way, other way," Gerard yelps, and Pete bites out, "This way, we need to make sure it communicates with all of them. There, there"
"Fuck, do you think that worked?" Gerard asks, settling back on his heels, swiping his hands, damp with sweat, over his pants.
"We'll know in a second," Pete says, grinning manically at him. "It'll be totally worth losing a few layers of skin, dude. We can even lord it all over McKay, right?"
Gerard doesn't disagree, but he rubs his forehead and radios Dr. McKay, tells him they've done what they could do, and McKay just grunts in his ear, cuts off in the middle of yelling, "Sheppard, Atlantis better be murmuring sweet nothings in your head right now or"
Gerard grins. He shakes his head, and then an explosion ripples out, the reverberations in the floor so subtle they might have gone unnoticed if he hadn't been anticipating them.
"Thank fuck," Pete says, and, "Dude, we totally saved the day. We're motherfucking heroes."
Joe's not exactly hiding, but he's totally hanging out in the hydroponics lab, behind some twining lianas and a row of squash, back against a wall of sweet corn, legs folded up.
He likes the hydroponics lab. The recycled air of Atlantis is so perfect and dry, and sometimes he just needs the wet warmth, the thick scent of flowering vegetables. It's different, without the dirt, but it's close enough, and he'll take any comfort he can get.
He hears a distant explosion, then another, and his hands tighten over a thin vine. Joe isn't stoned since he's still on working hours, and Joe is not a complete degenerate. Also, Bob totally hid his latest stash. Bob is the devil.
"Thought I'd find you here," Bob says. He's standing in front of Joe, hands behind his back.
Joe frowns up at him. "I'm a nervous wreck, Bob," he says. "I'm like McKay and Gerard without coffee. Combined."
Bob arches an unsympathetic eyebrow. Seriously, he is so mean. "Combined, huh? That's pretty tough."
"Bob, Bob, dude, what do you want?" Joe asks desperately, because they've got a Wraith hive ship hovering in their orbit, and Joe has no pot, none at all, and that is so very wrong the entirety of the Pegasus galaxy is likely to implode. Or something.
"It's a gateway drug, you know," Bob says, and he looks like he's having way too much fun with this.
"To what? Seriously, I could die tomorrow," Joe says, because it's true. "Nanobots could take over my brain, I could get shot by a fucking arrow off-world, I could get eaten by Wraith, Bob, and you're worried about a little marijuana?"
Bob frowns. "You're taking all the fun out of blackmail, Trohman."
Joe brightens. "Blackmail?"
Bob reaches down, curls a big hand into the front of Joe's shirt and pulls him to his feet. He's not quite grinning, but his mouth is certainly threatening to. "I want you to visit PX1-300 with me."
Joe blinks. "That. That little girl," Joe says slowly. Bob wants Joe to visit that little girl with him, the girl they rescued from the Wraith, and, okay, maybe it's a team thing, but it probably isn't, not if he's taken this round about way of asking him to go.
Bob doesn't say anything, just gives him that same, steady look, hand still gripping his shirt, and Joe finally shrugs. He presses a palm flat against Bob's chest and says, "Okay."
Brendon's never been scared of small spaces before, but the dark tube surrounding him has him breathing hard, fingernails biting into his palm. It's just as likely to be the Wraith, though, than the scanner; the thought that something could be wrong with him, something that the Wraith had done to him, other than mess with his memory.
Distantly, he hears Spencer's voice, hears William, for some reason, and it sounds like he's singing This Christmas, and then somebody squeezes his left foot, thumb pressing into the sole.
There's a hum and a flash of soft light, and then the scanner's sliding open, folding back on itself.
"There now, not so hard, Dr. Urie, was it?" Carson says, smiling. He pats Brendon's hand.
William looms up behind him. "It's entirely possible, dear Urie, that you're pregnant with my loveoof, Smith, watch your viciously pointy elbows or I'll set that rat bastard Lacey on you."
Carson sighs. "Dr. Beckett"
"No relation," William and Brendon chorus, and it's weird, having all these little details, memories unfold in tiny bits and pieces. Brendon thinks maybe he's almost got all of it back now.
William lights up. "Finally," he says. "Maybe now I can win all my caramel bars back."
"Why are you here, Beckett?" Spencer asks, eyes narrowed.
"To sing lullabies to all the needy children, Smith. To spread joy through my wondrous voice, to celebrate Christmas upon the highest mount"
"It's February," Brendon says.
"Ah-ha!" He jabs a finger at him. "Good show, Urie. Good show."
"Dr. Beckett," Carson says, curling a hand around William's arm and steering him away from Brendon's bed. "Please go back to your own bed and stay there, lad. I swear I'd think there's more wrong with you than that knock to your noggin if I hadn't witnessed last month's karaoke night."
Brendon thinks he hears William say, "Gabe," and, "fighting sticks," and, "ninja prowess," as their voices fade farther away.
And then he's looking up at Spencer, and Spencer's catching his hand in a tight grip, and Brendon's a little surprised by that. He glances around, because anyone could see them. "Spencer, you can't"
"It's fine," Spencer says. He shrugs. "It's fine, okay?"
"Um." Brendon bites his lip, looks down at their linked fingers. Slowly, tentatively, Brendon rubs his thumb along Spencer's skin.
He hears Spencer's breath hitch and tries to pull his hand away, but Spencer just holds on harder, squeezes until maybe it hurts a little.
"Ow," Brendon whispers.
Spencer's grip instantly lightens. "Shit, sorry," he says. "Sorry, Brendon. I'm." He stares down into Brendon's eyes. He stares into Brendon's eyes and it's awesome, it's so awesome, because Spencer doesn't have to say anything at all, and Brendon knows exactly what he's telling him.
"Patrick. Hey, Patrick." Pete catches both of Patrick's arms, right above his elbows, and Patrick drops all his very important papers in the middle of the corridor.
"Did you hear? I saved you from possible Wraith destruction," Pete crows, shaking him a little. Patrick can see all his teeth. "Me. Pete. I'm awesome."
Patrick snorts. "Okay. That's great, can you" Patrick cuts off with a yelp as Pete sort of tackles him, and Patrick loses his footing, slipping on his spilled manila folders, and they both go down. Hard. Patrick's pretty sure he's broken his tailbone.
Pete sprawls over him, though, still grinning. "I deserve kisses, Patrick," he says.
"You do," Patrick says slowly, fighting off a smile of his own.
Pete nods. "I burned my fingers a little, too." He waggles his hand in front of Patrick's face, fingertips red and raw, and Patrick frowns, grabs his wrist.
"They're starting to blister, Pete," Patrick says. "You should be at the infirmary."
Pete wriggles until his legs fall open on either side of Patrick's hips. His eyes are huge when Patrick glances up at him, teeth digging into his lower lip.
"Hurt?" Patrick asks softly.
"Not anymore," Pete says, and then he twists his wrist, skims his fingers down the slope of Patrick's nose, hisses and grimaces as their skin touches.
Patrick murmurs, "Dumbass."
"Totally," Pete says, and then, "I'm going to kiss you now," and, "Marry me?" and Patrick's laughing when Pete mashes their mouths together.
Patrick sputters, flails his hands behind Pete's back, because he always figured Pete had more finesse than this, more game, but then Pete pulls back so his upper lip is just resting between Patrick's.
He whispers, "Patrick," and Patrick feels it all the way down to his toes.
"No one knew about the chip," Ritter mumbles around a spoonful of reconstituted mashed potatoes. He swallows. "Patient confidentiality."
"Brendon didn't know, either," Ryan points out.
"Brendon thought we were all pulling an elaborately huge joke," Ritter says. "Sheppard and Weir knew for security reasons, obviously. And McKay, of course, since he's the one who took the thing apart. I'm just saying," Ritter shrugs, "Smith should think twice before going on a rampage."
Ryan rolls his eyes, and Jon snickers. He can't picture Spencer going on a rampage. He's way too collected for that, but silent, deadly revenge is not out of the question. He occasionally reminds Jon of Zelenka.
Ryan elbows him in the side.
Jon shoots him his best you really want to start with me? look, and Ryan flushes. Jon's beginning to really love when Ryan flushes. He knows exactly what it means, now, and enjoys all of the ways he can color Ryan's cheeks.
Across from them, Ritter's grinning stupidly, and when Jon catches his eye, he ducks his head and laughs, big hand wrapping around the back of his neck.
And then Brendon declares, "I'm one hundred percent Wraith mutation free," clattering his tray on the table. "Wraith are big fat liars." He's smiling so wide his lips are thinned and he looks sort of manically gleeful. Spencer seems only slightly more reserved standing behind him, eyes nearly twinkling, and that's a fucking novelty right there.
"Good to hear," Jon says.
"It is. It is indeed good news, Sergeant Jon Walker," Brendon says. "And," he sits down next to Ritter, "Dex is going to let me play with his gun later."
Ritter laughs again, then claps a hand over his mouth and watches Spencer with the slightest tinge of fear in his eyes, but Spencer just shakes his head.
"I don't know, Urie," Spencer says. There's a grin at the corner of his lips, just barely hiding. "Dex's gun might be too much for you to handle."
"Are you implying something, Lieutenant?" Brendon asks, brows peaked over his nose.
"Okay, can we leave the thinly veiled innuendo for someplace less public?" Ryan asks, but he's smiling, too, and under the table Jon squeezes a hand over his thigh.
Ray's a little bewildered when Dr. Ivarsson interrupts his lunch.
She curves her red lips up and cocks a hip. "Major Toro," she says, flashing bright white teeth, and Ray's instantly wary.
He's heard stories about Ivarsson. Mostly from Dr. McKay, but the rumor about her eating her partners after mating sounds strangely accurate when faced with what Ray's sure is a predatory smile.
It's pretty awesome, actually.
"Dr. Ivarsson," Ray says, nodding.
She tilts her head slightly, runs a hand over her neck, through her hair. "Please. Call me Maja."