"I still think you're nuts," John said, but Rodney was running--running--ahead of him, stopping every few minutes to make sure the others were keeping up.
"I'll prove it!" he called over his shoulder as he lingered at a corner. "Just you wait!"
In a low voice, Ronon asked, "McKay's not going insane again, is he?"
"No," John said, but without much enthusiasm. When Rodney showed up ranting and raving in the middle of the night, wearing a two-day old uniform and stubble to rival John's own, and insisted he had found—well, he'd better be temporarily insane, because it was the only thing standing between him and John's revenge.
"Perhaps he truly has a significant discovery," Teyla suggested, mid-yawn.
John shook his head. "Look, long story short, what he's suggesting is impossible."
"And you know this how?" Teyla asked with her eyebrow raised.
John would've shot back, but they had reached the end of the corridor. Back in the days when they had explored Atlantis regularly and thoroughly, John would've considered this hallway a safety risk--it had the dark, damp feeling of a potential flood hazard, and though Atlantis sat higher in Earth's saltier oceans he was pretty sure they were still below the water line. These days they had a better handle on the database--not to mention more exciting things to do away from home--and so they didn't do much exploring of the city anymore, at least not the free-range let's-see-what's-out-there kind of exploring that had always managed to turn up something unexpected. (Good or bad, it had always been unexpected.)
But still....still, Rodney had lost it. Probably.
"Open the first door, Colonel," McKay declared, bouncing faintly from foot to foot. He didn't have the usual manic glee of a shiny new toy, either; in fact, he looked faintly unsettled, and kept wiping his hands on his thighs like they were sweating.
"What am I looking for?" John asked, studying the three doors at the end of the hall—bog standard Ancient doors with the usual controls and no labels.
"Just open it!"
John sighed, and palmed open the first doors. Inside was nothing but a closet, perhaps four feet square, empty of anything but a faint coating of silt that rose to John's shoulder. "What," he repeated, "am I looking for?"
"Touch the walls," Rodney said.
"Why should I--"
There was a vein bulging on Rodney's forehead. "Colonel!"
Ronon, helpfully, pushed John aside and knocked firmly on all three walls and the floor. "Solid," he declared. "What next?"
Rodney then put them through the same charade with the last door, which opened on to an identical space. That left the door in the center, which was, coincidentally, about four feet away from the doors to either side. "So what am I looking for now?" John asked, his fingers just hovering over the control crystals. "A blue box?"
Rodney raised his chin. "Do you honestly think I'd stake my professional reputation--nay, my sanity--on something this...this this, if I didn't have conclusive proof?"
There was that. Squaring his shoulders, John opened the center door.
It opened into a cathedral-like room with soaring, almost Gothic arches, every inch of the space straining for the stars that were visible through its glass ceiling. They let in enough light for John to make out the curvaceous pattern inlaid into the floor, something like an hourglass, or infinity.
John stepped inside and listened to his footsteps echo in the vastness that spread out right and left and forward. He stepped out again, and looked at the other two doors. Just for reference, he opened them. "No fucking way."
"Exactly," Rodney said fiercely, and his shoulders dropped in relief. "I told you."
"What's the big deal?" Ronon asked.
Teyla stepped through the center door and was immersed in starlight. She looked around in wonder and confusion. "It appears to be bigger on the inside."