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Things Could be Worse

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Disclaimer: I don’t own Supernatural, Stargate Atlantis or Stargate SG-1. I don’t own any characters nor I making any profit from it.

Warnings: Language and violence.

Notes: SGA/SPN Crossover. SGA – Early second season, after Trinity; SPN – Pre series, completely AU.

 

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Simply a Ghost Hunt

 

Lone Peak Hospital, Sandy, Utah

 

The steady sound of the medical equipment and the heavy footsteps in the corridor were the only sounds in the late night. A young man was lying in the bed with several broken ribs, an abdominal wound and a severe concussion; in a chair near him, his father sat with a broken arm in a sling.

"Dean, we did it. We killed that bastard."

The young man shifted, trying to find a comfortable position. The morphine was doing a great job. He wasn't in any pain, but it was hard to breath.

"Dad… I know… I was there," he said with a feeble voice and a little cocky grin as he remembered the face of Azazel when he fired the Colt.

Eight months earlier, John Winchester returned to their motel room so drunk that Dean had to carry him from the door to his bed. His eyes were red and Dean was there when he finally gave up the secret that was eating him alive.

Dean should have left several hours prior for a possible job in the next town, but he had an encounter with a pretty waitress and decided to stay another night. John hadn't counted on meeting his oldest son that night so he had drowned his worries in alcohol.

When John regained a bit of lucidity, after he finished spilling half his fears with incoherent words, he told Dean about all the information he had collected on the yellow-eyed demon and the demon's plans for Sam and the other children like Sam. When the morning came, they decided to fix the problem together.

No more solo hunts at opposite sides of the country.

They had just two missions: Find the Colt built by Samuel Colt and kill the demon before he could touch Sam. They searched for months for the so called weapon capable of killing anything; it was a long and hard search. When they finally found it, word spread in the supernatural community, like a fire, and Azazel showed up in no time with a bunch of demons ready to kill them.

They were prepared or so they thought.

"No listen to me Dean, you were in coma for four days…you almost died!"

"Dad, it's okay," Dean slurred, tired after just a few words spoken.

"What I'm saying is… you…you can stop now, from hunting."

John had a desperate look in his eyes, but at the same time he watched his son, demanding his complete attention.

"We killed the demon who killed your mother, Sam is safe at Stanford, no one will harm him, and you can choose what you want to do with your life."

"Dad… who's gonna hunt with you?"

"I hunted without you son, both of us worked alone in the past years, don't even try this bullshit with me… beside I almost lost you, and I realize… I realize what Sam said that night was right."

Dean held a deep breath. They never talked about that fight. It was like a taboo.

"I took your childhood. All I cared about was…was keepin' you boys alive, always running from hunt to hunt, always trying to get revenge. You and Sam never had a place to call home or a normal life. That ended tonight. "

"Daaaad…" he had to stop this chick-flick moment right now.

"Shut up and listen. I found your papers… your MIT's online courses."

When Dean paled, John put a hand on his shoulder.

"Dean, I'm proud of what you have done, even while we were hunting… but now you can choose for yourself what you want to do. If you want a normal life, so be it. You're not just a hunter. You're so much more."

"But dad, what about saving people?" the young one asked with a sleepy and sad voice.

"Dean."

John closed his eyes for a moment. It seemed like he was trying to reason with a soldier who wanted to go back into a war zone after medical leave. He knew all too well that feeling. They had done a similar speech to him during his second tour.

John's thoughts came to a sudden halt. Since when had talking to his son become like talking to a soldier? How long has it been since he talked to his son like a father should?

"If Mary could see us now… she would kick my ass, you know? She would be very angry with me for imposing this life to you and your brother… You have the right, and ability, to do something else. Just think about it, okay?"

Dean nodded, not sure what to say. Just mentioning his mother's name silenced him. The pain of her loss was still too intense for both of them.

John nodded too, as if the discussion was over. Four days in the hospital watching his son fight for his life while he could do nothing took all his patience. He needed to move. He had to stop thinking and just do something.

"Caleb called. There's a hunt near Seattle and he needs help. I need to leave now. You take the time to rest and heal. That's an order, Dean, you hear me?"

"Yes, sir."

"I'll call you in a couple of weeks."

John picked up his duffle bag and left without waiting for an answer.

"Yeah, sure whatever," Dean said after a while, alone in his crappy hospital bed.

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One month later, Twin Falls, Idaho

 

"This is John Winchester. I can't be reached. If it's an emergency... leave a message."

"Dad, it's me. Listen, I'm fine. I think I found a simple case in a little town in Idaho. I'm gonna check it out. Call me if you need help."

In the late night, Dean parked his beloved Impala near a huge house. In the past few weeks, three people and the owner of the house, himself, were killed without any reasonable explanation.

He did a general search of the house in the local library but there were no strange incidents in Twin Falls up until now. However, he got lucky at Mickey's Diner where he heard all kind of gossip about the latest victim, Victor Pierson, and his love for antiquities.

That night, after evading the alarm system, Dean went into the house with his duffel bag to check the place with the EMF meter for signs of ghost activity. After wandering through several rooms on the second floor in what looked like a section of a museum, he found the dead body of a soldier on display in the middle of the room. The delivery papers left on a table nearby matched the time of the first death.

Only crazy rich people could think that the well preserved skeleton of a soldier from the Civil War would be a must have in their private collection.

Without a second thought, Dean cut the alarm near the corpse and poured salt on it. Usually he had to dig in several libraries, or in the sheriff's computer documents, to find a connection about a ghost and where its body was buried. Sometimes he had to spend a week in a town just to put the pieces together and then a couple of hours in a graveyard digging.

He smiled. This could be one of the quickest hunts he ever did.

A minute later the temperature of the room dropped. The ghost appeared and threw Dean into the wall with a sickening crash. The wall was covered in old weapons and Dean became breathless due to the pain. He felt an ache on his right side so definitely a cracked rib. He really hoped it wasn't a broken one, because they tended to hurt like hell.

"Sonovabitch!" Dean raised his rock salt loaded shotgun and fired two shots.

With three large, quick steps, Dean was near the soldier's body again when he noticed something protruding from his left upper arm.

"Shit! Fucking arrow."

With pain written all over his face, he broke the shaft of the arrow protruding from the back of his arm. Before he could completely patch himself up, he had to finish the job. He covered the skeleton with gasoline and, with just his right hand, tried to strike a match.

Suddenly, movement to his left was the only warning he got before he was again thrown away from the corpse. The Union soldier's ghost screamed like a madman as his rage intensified after he'd been shot and he tossed Dean near a shelf, throwing the hunter's shotgun away from him.

Dean blinked as the screaming ghost started to come at him for a third time. He quickly looked to his left, at the shelf he landed near, where there were weird objects which were mostly old, painted jars and ceramic plates, but nothing that looked like it was iron. So when the ghost was within striking distant, which happened in mere seconds from when he looked away, Dean did the only thing he could. He took the arrow from his left arm, pulled it out and swung it through the ghost. With a hiss, the soldier dissipated while Dean grunted with pain. Then, he got up, took out a match and finally burned the body.

"Fucking iron arrowhead…lucky me."

With a sigh, he sat down to rest near the shelf, watching the flame burn the soldier, and checked on his own injuries. The room was a mess.

After a few minutes, he heard the sound of police's sirens approaching the house, causing him to curse. He was bleeding and the pain was starting to hit him. He didn't want to stick around to answer the incoming police questions. Even with his colorful cover stories, this would be hard to explain. So his best choice was to escape the crime scene before they arrived.

Dean stood up and took a glance at a weird object similar to a Greek pot with an azure light that had his blood on it. It was strange, between all the other things it was the only one that emitted a soft light; Dean wondered if it wasn't a lamp modeled as an antique jar. There was also some sort of phrase in a weird language but Dean didn't put any effort into trying to read it.

Tired, hurt, and just wishing to get the hell out of there, Dean tried to clean his blood off the pot; it was best if he didn't leave any DNA evidence behind. However, after the fight he knew it was impossible to clean up all his blood. Anyway the huge spot on the pot was too evident to leave it behind. He was going to have to take the pot with him.

He had just touched it with his hands when a massive white surge of energy enveloped him.

When the cops arrived with blazing guns, there was no one in the house: Just an antique grey jar on the floor, the ash of a body, a bloody, old arrow, a shotgun and a duffle bag with salt and gasoline in it.

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It was a pleasant week in Atlantis: No Wraith attack, no strange disease, no one was kidnapped and neither had Doctor McKay blown up something; just a few simple trading missions.

So it was no wonder when an alarm appeared on one of the monitors in the control room, most of the technicians let out a sigh, wondering what catastrophe would hit them…Again.

"Come on kids, what do we have?" asked Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard with a little amusement in his tone. He was bored. He had to catch up on all the paperwork during this long, peaceful week, and that alarm sounded like a good diversion from boredom.

"Sir, there was a spike of power in one of the rooms in Section Eight. It was previously submerged and I checked the schedule, none of the scientific teams are supposed to be there for… at least two weeks. "

"Thank you, Chuck. Rodney, can you find out what's going on?"

Doctor Rodney McKay impatiently pushed one of the guys away from his station and was already typing and mumbling.

"I swear, if Zelenka is messing with something, I'll put him to work with Kavanagh for a month!"

Hearing what Rodney was saying while entering the control room, Zelenka glared at his colleague.

"Vole... Rodney, I'm right here. I didn't do anything."

"Oh okay. Then do something because according to these readings someone beamed in that room."

"Rodney, are you saying we have an intruder?"

Doctor McKay turned around to face Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard with his hands on the hips and Doctor Weir behind him.

"Am I speaking Alteran? Yes, yes that's what I'm saying. Someone, probably using a teleportation device, beamed in there. I don't know why, yet, that specific room but that's what the readings are showing. Now is any of that unclear?"

Sheppard gazed to Doctor Weir, who nodded in response.

Sheppard tapped the radio that was in his ear while gesturing to one of his marines on 'Gate duty to get him a vest and said, "Sheppard to Ronon come in. We have a situation in Section Eight. Meet me there. Sheppard out."

Then the Colonel took out his gun, accepted the vest from the marine, put it on, and headed toward the elevator. Near it he met Major Lorne, whom heard the commotion on the radio.

"Lorne, take two marines. We're going to meet our guest."

"Yes, sir."

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"What the hell!" Dean said as he took two steps back from a console in a room with strange architecture and a faint azure light from several vertical lamps on the walls. An uneasiness from the "travel" caused Dean to hold onto one of the chairs and take some deep breaths. He never felt car sickness but he was sure it had the same effect: He had nausea and vertigo. Dean took a moment to focus his eyes on a single spot before he examined his surroundings.

One moment he was in a house in Twin Falls, Idaho and the next, he was in what it seemed like some kind of sci-fi control room which included a big panel in the center, three chairs – one for each monitor – and several metallic circles on the floor. This room looked more like something coming from one of the Alien movies than a real place, just less creepy. At least the lights were on and there wasn't any acrid smell in the room.

Another side effect of his travel was the sensation of his skin crawling with needles. As the minutes passed by the overall feelings faded, leaving him only a little dizzy and hungry, very hungry.

Suddenly, in the back of his mind, he heard some kind of gentle humming, like something was welcoming him. Dean tried to ignore it, even if the tiny presence was almost calming to his erratic thoughts.

While searching for a way out, he found a door with a strange panel near it. Deciding it was his best option to leave the strange sci-fi lab, he headed that way, taking his gun out from his back. He cautiously tried to open the door by touching the panel. Lucky for him the door opened on his first attempt.

There was a corridor outside the room which went in both directions. Dean waited near a wall trying to hear if any footsteps were coming his way but the place appeared to be deserted.

Dean took a moment, since all was quiet for the moment, to think about what type of object brought him here. It had to be some kind of magical object, maybe a cursed one too. If it was a spell, a witch could be involved.

Dean started to think about all the information he had on the object. Maybe the antiquities in that house weren't harmless, old items but all kinds of ingredients for witchcraft. Was Victor Pierson a witch? Who knew what kind of spell was imbued on that pot.

Maybe a teleportation spell? That could be useful if a witch had to escape fast from a hunter. If Pierson was the witch, what was he doing with a ghost? Was he trying to be a wannabe necromancer?

Perhaps Pierson was just the unluckiest man on Earth and by accident he acquired a cursed pot and a vindictive spirit for his collection. He didn't have enough information to uncover the truth.

Best way to deal with this situation, he thought, was to quickly find an exit, get back to the Impala, rest for a week and forget everything. After all the ghost was dealt with and Pierson was dead; he just had to find a way to secure and lock away that cursed thing and the hunt was over.

Without any map he chose to go left and after several closed rooms he found himself near the end of a corridor, by what he guessed was an exit. As was habit he always looked at his surroundings and Dean noticed that the entire building was strange: Every frame was made of metal or some other alloy and the doors had an eccentric design.

When the door itself opened, men with guns and military tactical vests stepped out.

Dean mentally cursed the whole situation. He took cover in a nook, although the rapid movement caused him a lot of pain from his left upper arm and right side. He didn't let any sound escape his lips but small drops of blood were visible in the corridor leading to his position and Dean wasn't in his best shape.

Great from a fucking hunted house to a freaking military complex.

If it was a teleportation spell for an easy escape, it sucked.

The military team took position near the elevator. The man visibly in charge of the group, with a black uniform and black spiky hair, was scouting the area. His hazel eyes stopped on the blood near Dean's cover.

He was so screwed.

"Hello there," stated the guy in the black BDU as he raised his gun toward Dean's cover. "Who are you and how did you get in here?"

Dean decided to show a little of himself and point his gun at the man, just enough to have a better aim at him. The militaries behind their leader were all in position near what could only be an elevator with their guns aimed at him. They had a standoff.

"How the hell would I know? I don't even know where here is. Who the hell are you?"

Sheppard was dumbfounded. The blonde guy was wearing a leather jacket, denim jeans and worn out boots, definitely not the kind of things people wore in the Pegasus Galaxy. Plus he had what looked like a Colt M1911 in his hand, his accent was clearly American and from what he saw the young man was bleeding from one arm.

"I asked first… I'm Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard of the United States Air Force, you're not supposed to be here. Again, who are you?"

"I'm Ripley," the guy said with a small smirk on his face, but Sheppard doubted it was his true name.

"Are you American?"

"Do I look like a freaking Canadian?"

After a long glare, he went stiff.

"Look I'm not a spy, I didn't know I stumbled in a military station. I don't spend too much time in Idaho and I don't care. I didn't do anything. Let me go on my way and you'll never see me again."

"Idaho," repeated Sheppard. The young man didn't know he wasn't on Earth anymore or in the right galaxy for that matter.

"Listen kid…" John began.

"I'm not a kid," the guy snapped.

"Listen…We can't let you go. For all we know you could be a threat to…this facility or you could carry some kind of disease you're not aware of and I can't risk the safety of my people. I have a duty to protect them. So drop your weapon and face the wall with your hands behind your head. If everything is right, we'll solve this mess without any problems."

Sheppard threw the disease problem in the mix hoping to scare him a little. He had read some reports at the SGC where the military used strange excuses as cover ups, like new diseases and malfunctioned prototypes, to explain to the people of Colorado Springs the weird things that kept happening around NORAD and their city.

Looking at him thoroughly, the young man appeared to weave a little, like he couldn't decide what to do and probably due to the fatigue and blood loss.

The young man needed a medical team, but Sheppard couldn't let his guard down to call it. Every move could set the kid off. As if he was reading his mind, Major Lorne communicated the situation to Doctor Weir and requested a medical team in Section Eight over his com-link.

"I understand…sir…but I don't have any disease neither am I a threat to you or your people. Step aside and let me go." His arms were again steady and his eyes were fixed on John.

He hadn't bought the disease threat. Sheppard considered as he reanalyze the kid's attitude. The guy wasn't acting like a normal civilian. He was too calm regarding the situation; no one would face four armed people without sweating a bit, only well- trained soldiers had that kind of confidence.

However, he was in a four versus one situation and had no way of escaping. If things went south they risked a bloodshed. So Sheppard was stalling, hoping to find a solution without a shoot-out.

A cat-like movement behind the corner and a red shot was the last thing Dean saw before he lost consciousness. His body went still for several seconds before hitting the floor.

Sheppard ran toward the kid, took the gun and went to check his pulse. He stared at the big guy with dreads, gun in hand and a grin on his face, standing at the opposite side of the corridor.

"Ronon…was that thing set to stun?"

 

To be continued…

Chapter Text

You're not in Kansas Anymore 

 

Doctor Carson Beckett was finishing all the exams when Doctor Weir, Colonel Sheppard, Teyla and Doctor McKay came into the infirmary. Ronon was already there near the door.

"Hello Doctor Beckett. How is your new patient doing? What can you tell about him?"

"Hullo Doctor Weir. The lad is resting for now. He’s in no danger. He is definitely human, hasn't a Goa’uld  in him nor does he have an intergalactic disease and with his antibodies I can say, without doubt, that he came from Earth.”

“Also he has the ATA gene. I dinnae ken what level of expression, that will be assured only if we try to give him some device to turn on."

"Ah! That's funny Carson. I almost believed your joke! There's no way we let him near some of Atlantis' equipment”, McKay said with a biting tone.

The doctor looked at Rodney with an annoyed face, then he kept talking, completely ignoring his friend while his Scottish accent thickened at the brisk remark.

"I already immunized him from this galaxy’s diseases we ken of, and took care of his arm. The poor fella lost a good amount of blood before we arrived. He had a cracked rib and his body was very exhausted."

"What weapon hit him?" Sheppard asked with a bit of curiosity.

"I dinnae ken for sure but from the shape of the wound I can easily say it was a cold weapon. There are two holes:  One in the back and one in the front. Also I found traces of wood, iron and rust in the wound so maybe a spear, an arrow or something like that."

"Who is this guy? Robin Hood?" retorted McKay rising his head from his datapad.

"Rodney, he was shot with it, not the opposite."

"No, in fact Colonel, he pointed a gun at you, is that right?"

"Yes Elizabeth. He had a Colt, two knives, a backup gun on his left ankle and a set of lock picks in his leather jacket."

"When we can speak to him Carson?" She wasn't amused by the little arsenal the young man had on him.

"Not today that’s for sure. The lad is unconscious, and he need rest. I think... probably tomorrow or the day after."

“Is he restrained?”

"Aye a bittie. Also Ronon is here since we came back from surgery."

Sheppard and Weir turned their faces towards Ronon, who only shrugged.

"He is a fighter. The second he wakes up, he’ll try something. I stay."

“Okay, Carson call Sheppard the moment he wakes up.” Then Elizabeth turned around and faced Doctor McKay.

“Rodney, could you please go down in Section Eight and find out how he got here? Take a team. I want that lab secured."

"Yes, I'm already working on a program to more promptly warn the main tower of incoming intruders. I'm going there to add the patch right now."

Elizabeth nodded, then with an elegant turn, fixed her gaze on Sheppard.

"Colonel interview him, try to find out what he did before arriving here and where.

"The SGC has to contain whatever he encountered – to see if it was something completely alien in origin or if he found something or someplace connected to Atlantis on Earth. Also, I want to know who he is and if we can trust him so try to do it without revealing too much."

"Yes ma'am."

Sheppard had a little glee in his voice. Ronon assertion had him wonder what the Satedan had seen in the guy.

"I mean it John. Best case scenario is he is a civilian. I don't know what we can do with him. This is a serious security breach and my report to the SGC is due in seventy-two hours."

"I understand Elizabeth. I’ll do my best."

Teyla was silent for the entire conversation and was watching the man in the bed.

He had delicate features and blondish brown bristly hair. He was a young man but she could see the muscles and the bruises beneath the sheets.

She agreed with Ronon, he was definitely a warrior. After the leader of the Atlantis Expedition left the room, Teyla turned to the colonel.

"Sheppard, does it mean he'll stay here?"

"I don't know Teyla. It's complicated. On our world, only a select few people know about the Stargate Program, the presence of other species in the galaxy and even fewer know about Atlantis and the Pegasus Galaxy. First, we have to find out what he knows and how he got here. Then we'll see. We got to be careful."

"I understand. Thank you Colonel."

Although Teyla understood his words, she had problems trying to imagine a world where a few people decided to keep the Stargate a secret. Her people traded with others among the stars for generations and they learned a lot from each of their friends. Such isolation and ignorance could only protect their people to a certain degree.

 

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Dean woke up slowly in what looked like an infirmary. He felt the leather around his wrists and the softness of the bandages around his left upper arm, his shoulder and torso.

The memories of the past twenty-four hours came to him all in a rush.

He was restrained in a hospital bed and in an odd military complex.

He cursed in his mind.

The last thing he remembered was a red shot, and it felt like some kind of taser but much more painful. Despite the situation, he wished to have a look at the gun capable of such a thing.

In his line of work that could be handy.

After a brief check-up of himself, he turned his head to observe his surroundings.

Near one door a big guy with dreads was sleeping in a chair and on the other side of the room, there was a doctor who came to him as soon as he noticed his eyelids were open.

"Hullo, lad. I'm Doctor Beckett. You should rest. Don't worry, we can talk in the morning.”

He had a funny accent and non-nonsense manner written all over him.

Dean tried to say something but his mouth was dry.

Dean assessed him and saw the name on the med coat: Beckett.

"Aye, do you want a cup of water?" said the doctor and Dean nodded.

Doctor Beckett took a cup with a straw and approached the head of the bed, positioning the straw near the mouth of his patient.

With slow sips, Dean drank the water while with one of his restrained hands attempted to pick the pocket of the good doctor.

It was tricky and he took only a pen, but that had to be enough to slacken the leather around his wrists.

Drinking and stealing surprisingly tired him; his eyes were sluggishly closing again.

 

The second time he woke up, he didn't open his eyes. He was feeling better and, luckily for him, no one discovered the pen he had stolen.

The humming inside his head was still there, soft, and was spreading in him like a sixth sense. Again, he dismissed it as nothing.

After a few minutes of listening to every sound in the room, he began to try to loosen the leather on his right hand.

It was a long and silent work but after a while, he had a free hand; then, without raising the sheets, he succeeded to roll the pen on his stomach to the other side and did the same.

He was halfway done, when he heard footsteps approaching his bed.

"Hey Carson. How’s the kid?"

Dean nearly rolled his eyes under his eyelids, but he restrained himself, just barely. 

The lieutenant colonel sounded as thrilled as a child with a new toy or a cat with a mouse in his paw.

"Hullo Colonel. The lad seems to be better. His pulse is steady and I think if you don't push too much, you can talk to him. He was awake near midnight but just for a few moments. Now excuse me, I must tend to my other patients."

"Thank you, Carson."

That little conversation frustrated him and a soft huff escaped his mouth.

He was in no way a kid or a lad or whatever they were calling him. Besides he didn't need a doctor to check his wounds; it was a small thing compared to his last trip to the hospital.

"So did he cause any trouble?"

Ronon, who was near the door, grinned at Sheppard. He had seen the little gasp from their new guest.

"Why don't you ask him, Sheppard? He is awake."

John took a chair and, moving it near the bed, sat down. He looked at the kid in the bed before he asked, "Oh…are you?"

Dean gave up the charade and opened his eyes while saying, “Like I could sleep with all this chit chat going on.”

"Good morning to you too, kid."

"I'm not a kid,” he barked back.

John chuckled.

"And I'm Colonel Sheppard, as I said yesterday, and the big guy there is Ronon. So do you want to tell me your real name? See I was a little confused when I found in your wallet the driver license of Dean Winchester, the library card of David Ragsdale and the credit card of a certain Dave Hope. I must say, you don't look like any member of Kansas.”

Dean cursed to himself. He forgot to leave his wallet in the Impala. It was such a rookie mistake that if his father knew, Dean would never hear the end of it for the rest of his life.

His two cover identities were found pretty easily as well. He was amused and a little annoyed by that:  Usually no one took the time to recognize the names and now two of his fake identities were burned.

There was no point in lying for now.

"Winchester, Dean Winchester. Can I go now?"

"Not so fast. We have a few question, then we'll see. So…Where were you before… you happened to be here?"

Dean eyed the colonel with suspicion. He was vague and gestured to indicate the place. That was odd.

"You're not a marine, not with that absurd hair…so what? Air force? Am I in an Air Force Base? You know I have rights.”

He started to think fast. Air Force. Wasn’t the I-84 near an Air Force Base? He had seen the signs on the interstate while he was driving toward Twin Falls. Had he traveled 98 miles with a single touch of a cursed pot? 

If that was the truth, Dean had to quickly find a solution to his predicament.

Despite the fancy stuff in here, if it was an Air Force Base it might be difficult to get away, but not impossible. Surely it was better than a base full of marines. The security wouldn't be that strict.

He had just to wait for this bunch of pilots to fly somewhere and he could put into effect his escape plan.

"And you're not stupid so answer my questions."

John was a little offended by his statement but that wasn't what rubbed him.

From Dean’s overall attitude and witty remarks it appeared the guy had a well refined tactic to irritate the law enforcement and now him.

He knew by experience as he used the same tactics when faced with an enemy because irritating the bad guy and tearing his patience down was the best way to not give away any information and let the captor make a mistake.

However, right now his main problem was figuring out how a civilian from Earth got in Atlantis without using the Stargate.

Several bad case scenarios ran in his mind.

Wraith, Genii, Ori or even a single Goa'uld with that kind of technology would be a tremendous threat to Atlantis and its people.

Elizabeth was right; it was a huge hole in their security if an intruder could freely walk in the city by using a teleporting device without some pre-emptive measure to prevent it.

They couldn't keep Atlantis' shields up all the time, it would drain their ZPM in no time, and what if the shields didn’t work on this technology?

This guy had to talk and fast. If he had to use his experience in Afghanistan to get his answer, then so be it. 

"Where were you before yesterday?"

The grim tone, his stern eyes and the commanding voice reminded Dean all too well of his father's way of questioning him after he had left his little brother alone the night the Shtriga attacked Sam.

Dean's shoulders tensed and he sat more composed in the bed.

Just that simple movement sent spikes of pain down his left arm; his boldness dropped too, showing a more neutral face.

It was an ingrained habit and Sheppard saw years of military's drill in that brief action.

The guy took a long time before answering, like he was evaluating the value his information was worth.

For a moment Sheppard thought he would only spit out his name, rank and serial number. If nothing else, it would give them something real.

"I was in Twin Falls, Idaho…sir." He took a long pause before he added the title.

“Where did you serve?”

John was curious about the kid's mixed attitude and was relieved that he didn't have to crack him to have some answers.

"I didn't serve." When John frowned at the statement, he added “My father’s a marine."

"Ah. Where’re you from?"

"Lawrence, Kansas." The city name was barely audible.

"So what were you doing in Idaho?"

Dean thought for a long time what to say.

Usually he just avoided being questioned or irritated the law enforcement enough to be put in jail for the night and disappeared the next day before they even knew what to charge him for.

But with the militaries involved, it was different.

Maybe it was because of how his father trained him and his brother, but he couldn't bring himself to be disrespectful as he was with the usual police officer.

This air force colonel had the stance of a veteran, and to be a colonel at his age, he must have fought in pretty serious fights. Even if Sheppard was a little more relaxed, he was demanding answer, just like his father.

He hoped one of his cover stories used for the police would work, even for the Air Force.

It was his best bet at the moment.

"…I am a PI. I worked for…for Victor Pierson in Twin Falls. Three people died in his house, all in strange circumstances. I was employed to find out who the culprit was before something happen to Victor himself. I was too late to save Mr. Pierson but I kept going on with the investigation."

He secretly thanked Bobby for suggesting he get a PI license a few years back. If they did check his story, it at least had some truth in it.

Also Pierson wasn't around to tell them he wasn't actually his employer.

Dean only had to stick with this version of the story until the end.

"Ok, so how did you get a wound in your upper arm?"

"Yesterday night…I went inside the house to see if I could find evidence that the police overlooked and there was a guy.”

He shifted to a more comfortable position.

"I fought with him but I didn't see him clearly… tall, all in black, and he threw me into a wall near some old stuff. I got an arrow in the arm while I was on the ground... Mr. Pierson was a collector of antiquities, he had lots of old stuff around.… I don't know what happened next…there was a fire. He got away and I pulled the arrow out of my arm. End of story." 

He tried his best to sound like a normal civilian who only took his job very seriously.

A theft problem seemed the right thing to throw in the mix of truths and lies. If they found his duffle bag, the room in a complete chaos and his DNA all over the place, at least he had something he could use to legally defend himself.

It was a good thing he had sat in the background of one of Sam's lectures months ago while he was checking on his little brother. Some of the stuff the professor said could be, and had been previously, handy when faced with law enforcement. 

"So you didn't see or touch anything strange?"

He answered without thinking, so caught up in all the details he wasn't saying to take in account what the colonel was asking.

”The body on fire and a stupid Greek pot with my blood on it. I picked it up from the floor and then I was here, being chased by you and your people. What kind of place is this?"

"Body?" Sheppard questioned with surprise.

"A dead guy from the Civil War. You didn’t answer,” he shot back.

Dean was looking at Sheppard with narrow eyes.

He did a mistake mentioning what he guessed was the cursed object, but something didn’t add up. Was it possible that he had it all wrong? Could it be that this military base was using witchcraft or some weird old artifacts as weapons? Did they know of the supernatural?

Usually telling a story about staying one moment in a place and the next in another was the perfect recipe to be sent in jail to sober up or, worse, in a loony bin right next to the crazy guys who thought they were abducted by aliens.

This colonel however was too calm listening to his explanation, like it was something he expected, and that was weird on so many levels he just couldn't place it.

The whole situation had him on edge and, right on cue, the medical machineries monitoring him started to increase their pace.

"Take it easy, Dean. We didn't do anything."

"Yeah, right because I always find myself in a weird military base, wearing stupid hospital pajamas and what’s the IV here for?"

"You were injured and my medical team operated on you. We couldn't let you stay with your bloody clothes.”

"Yeah. Sure. Whatever. What are you doing here?"

Sheppard didn't answer. Instead he threw out some more questions about his story, retracing it back to the beginning and adding a few others in the mix. Why he was in Twin Falls, where he stayed during the investigation, what happened during the fight, what hair color did the thief have, what kind of pot he touched and so on.

They retraced his story three times and the guy always told Sheppard the same things without slipping once.

The colonel finally stood up, abruptly ending his questioning. It was almost a relief to know that the thing was on Earth in a crime scene and probably, by Dean's description, was some kind of artifact related to the Ancients.

So no imminent treat.

However he had to be sure; the ATA gene could be the trigger that activated the device but if it wasn’t, anyone would be able to teleport into Atlantis at any moment.

Memories of the Genii’s invasion and Kolya's face while he held Elizabeth as hostage flooded his mind.

He wouldn't let that happen again.

John approached a guy near some mobile equipment. He requested the device from the Science Department the night before so they could test it on their new guest. He trusted his gut but it was necessary to be able to have a guideline in their interrogation.

"What's….the reading…. Say? ….Is he….telling the truth?"

Dean was only able to grasp brief pieces of words from the two men talking near a big weird machine with two small cables attached to his chest.

Oh crap! A truth machine? Hope they believe my story or I'm so screwed.

While he thought that, he felt as if the humming in his head was happy to help him. Something tingled near the two cables attached on him.

That was enough. Now he heard voices? Voice, buzz, whatever that was happy to help?

He was losing his mind. After all he had been through in his life, he had to wondered how he didn’t become crazy sooner.

The surprise and concern for what he felt was all over his face in a mix of confusion and poor wonder.

"Something wrong?" Ronon who was watching him like a hawk.

"Uhm…no…I think,” Dean had totally forgotten the big guy with dreads.

"What's up guys?"

Maybe it was this place that was screwing with his mind or some drugs they injected him with, or perhaps the colonel and his flippant tone that set him on edge. All he knew was he had to get out.

"What the hell is this place? When am I free to go?"

"It's classified and I'm sorry Dean, but you have to stay here for a while. You were trespassing after all.”

Sheppard tone was more relaxed, but he was no less professional.

Like hell.

Crazy or not, his hands were free, the pen hidden in his sleeve and he just needed a good old fashion distraction to escape from them.

He touched the weird machine near him that was monitoring his vitals. He was carefully searching for an outside wire or something like that.

He had to shut it off or maybe overload it to make a distraction big enough for his wacky plan. He couldn't wait for another time to flee, he had to leave now.

Suddenly a surge of power from the medical device led to some sparks of electricity and a little smoke.

Sheppard and Ronon were nearby and the possible fire distracted them for a few moments. They turned their backs to him to assist a technician who came in at a fast pace to shut down the device.

Dean took the opportunity without hesitation. He got up and fled the other way.

He avoided a nurse and sprinted down a corridor, towards a door near a large window.

Windows were a good thing to use to plan an escape route, he just had to get a brief look outside. If they were on a first floor, he could even consider jumping from there and running. Glass shards would be a problem but he could deal with it later, when he was out and possibly far away.

He paused near the big window and his jaw opened. He couldn't believe what his eyes were seeing.

"You gotta be kidding me!"

From the window he saw a huge futuristic city, the ocean for miles and a big pale moon in the midday sky.

The sounds were muffle but he could see a city full of life, with strange towers lit up like Christmas trees and smoke coming from a distant sector.

It was like seeing a  hi-tech city directly from Star Trek or Star Wars. For a second, he glanced up to see if there were any spaceships like the Enterprise.

Sheppard and Ronon arrived moments later behind him, Ronon with a strange gun in his hand pointed at him.

"Well…" began Sheppard scratching his head, “Dean, you're not in Kansas anymore."

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ sga~spn ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Elizabeth Weir attended a meeting for an update with the senior staff on their newest problem. While she sat on her chair, she noticed the quiet atmosphere. It was so unusual for her people that she watched her staff in the conference room with a bit of wariness.

They were avoiding her eyes, especially Sheppard.

Several scenarios passed through her mind wondering what went wrong to make some of her staff…twitchy. She felt a headache coming.

"Gentlemen, what happened?"

"We put the lad in one of the isolation rooms,” Doctor Carson stated in a soft voice.

"Why? Is he dangerous?"

"He has a high level of expression of the ATA gene, similar to Sheppard. The isolation room is a precaution,” cut in Doctor McKay without moving his eyes from his datapad.

"And how do you know that?" Now she was very suspicious. They were stalling.

"Elizabeth…he overload an Ancient device in the med wing. The thing distracted me and Ronon enough for him to attempt an escape. Then he looked out of a window and stopped when he realized he wasn't on Earth anymore."

She closed her eyes for a second. Her week kept getting better and better.

"Sheppard didn't we agree to try to avoid this kind of result? Ahhh…What did he say?"

"Nothing. He chose to remain silent from that moment on."

"What did you find out about him?"

"Not much. His name is Dean Winchester and he came from Kansas. He is a PI, had some sort of military training and he was in a house in Twin Falls, Idaho when he touched a pot with some markings. After that he was transported here.”

"A PI? Isn't he a little young for that?"

"According to his driver license…he’s twenty-five."

"What is a PI?" interjected Teyla.

"An investigator, a private one. He was following a lead regarding the deaths of four people in the same house where he was. He said he fought with someone who escaped after the fight."

"Do we believe him? For all we know he could be the thief,” barked McKay.

"I think he’s telling the truth or at least part of it. Also we put to use that Ancient truth machine."

"Aye, the result came after the attempted breakout. His pulse was steady for the entire interrogation. He wasn’t lying." Carson nodded as he looked at the paper in his hand.

“Uhmf,” Rodney wasn't so trusting.

"Gentlemen, please. John, did he give you the address of the house?"

"Yes, when he was in the isolation room he asked for paper and used a stolen pen to write an address and sketch an object. The address is 234 Franklin Street, Twin Falls, Idaho and here’s the outline of what he’s referred to as a Greek pot."

John handed the paper to Elizabeth.

"Well, at least this will be useful to Stargate Command. They’ll retrieve the object and probably study it at Area 51. We need to find out where this device came from.”

She sighed looking at the paper.

"Shouldn’t we be the ones studying it? Look at it! It's probably Ancient technology!"

"Rodney aren't you a bit greedy? You have that control room to examine. When they finish the early report, you can ask for it."

John was teasing McKay.

"Uhmf…I can learn much more about the device and the control panel if they’re together.”

"You just want to test it, admit it."

"Well of course I do Sheppard! Do you understand how useful it could be to us? Every time we stepped into a bad situation we...ZAP! Just use this device and go back and safe in Atlantis!"

"I don't think this technology was used with much frequency, Rodney. The exhaustion Dean’s body was in was considerable. Probably the only thing that prevented him to suffer greater damage during the travel was the high level of adrenaline in his system."

Carson looked at Elizabeth too.

"The human body can't sustain this kind of stress without consequences. I’ll write it in my report to the SGC. I suspect it is only an emergency travel device. We dinna ken what kind of consequences this thing would have if used more than one or two travels or on our physiology for that matter."

"Oh well, let them test it."

"Rodney!" Carson's indignant shout was eloquent.

"Gentlemen, please! I'll report the situation to Stargate Command. In the meantime, I want all of you to evaluate him and write your report on the incident. Sheppard, go to him and try to get to know our guest better and let him sign our non-disclosure papers. However tell him…just the minimum. Dismissed."

They all took their leave and Elizabeth went into her office. Her report with General Landry was schedule in a couple of hours, just enough time for her to figure out what options she had in this matter.

She hoped Landry could be helpful to solve this problem.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ sga~spn ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

John walked down the corridor towards the isolation room with Ronon beside him.

He was thinking about their guest and, although the kid was a little smartass, John already liked him; somehow the kid reminded him of Ford.

"What do you think Ronon? About the kid."

"When we'll spar, I'll know."

John grinned. That was to be expected. If Ronon didn't beat the guy, he wasn't eager to judge.

Before entering the isolation room, however, they heard an impatient knocking and then a loud voice.

"Is anyone out there? Damn it! If I have to spend any more time in here at least give me some real clothes!”

John grinned again. Well at least the kid stopped the silent treatment and was talking again. He hoped he could get more information about him.

Sheppard moved to the guard near the door.

"Sergeant, go and get a physical training uniform, please."

"Yes, sir!" and the sergeant took off at a swift walk.

"Hello Dean," Sheppard said stepping into the room with Ronon following one step behind him.

”Colonel."

He was near the bed, eyeing the exit and then him, Ronon and their movements.

"Are you up to a little walk?"

"I have a wound in the arm, not the leg. Of course I can walk. Where’re we going?"

"Well, how about the mess hall? Hungry?” 

Dean's stomach grumbled in response and the sergeant came in the room with the uniform.

After the change of clothes, they could see he was more at ease in the uniform than the hospital's scrub. Again his stance reminded him more of a soldier than a civilian, and John could only imagine how growing up with a marine led to resemble one.

Dean walked with the colonel and his silent, big friend, watching his surroundings.

"Cut the crappy Dorothy thing. Where are we?"

"Dean, welcome to Atlantis."

"Atlantis? As the lost mythical city? Dude I said cut it out.”

From what he saw, John decided the kid needed to know something, otherwise he would try to find any piece of information by himself.

One escape attempt was enough for the day. 

"For you it's still Colonel and I’m telling the truth. This is Atlantis, a sentient city build by a very old race of aliens we called the Ancients. We are on another planet, as you saw yesterday, and we are explorers in this galaxy.” 

Dean was silent for a while, trying to find another explanation for what he saw and what they were telling him.

Putting aside the witch and the cursed object theory, if this was a supernatural monster or another dimension, it was too complex to sort it out without any of his weapons or his dad.

It could be the work of a Djinn, but at this point I would already be dead.

Beside the complexity of the things around him and the explanations weren’t in their modus operandi.

The Djinn's drug led the victim to death with simple dreams, the kind people find easy to confuse with reality, and the victims were always so weak from the blood loss that they were easy to manipulate.

That was what his father told him.

He wasn't in tiptop shape but he could think clearly and he knew this wasn't a dream.

"Aliens…other planets…okay. I buy it for now…you said this galaxy. Where are we?"

Smart kid.

John grinned.

"We're in the Pegasus Galaxy."

Now the insignia on the arm of the colonel made sense.

The strange fact there was a horse with wings on the patch was clearly a reference to the Pegasus.

The humming in Dean's head was still there and seemed more active each time they crossed a door.

"What did you do to me? Since I came here, I have a strange buzz in my head."

"…We didn't do anything…the buzz, as you call it, is Atlantis, and as I said she’s a sentient city."

"She?"

Dean smirked. The way Sheppard spoke of Atlantis reminded him of how he talked of his Impala.

"Well…she is a very fine presence. Also you can hear her because you inherited the gene of the Ancients. We call it the ATA gene."

"Wait, are you saying I'm a damn freak?"

Freak? Why would he think that? An alien maybe but a freak?

Sheppard shot him a curious look while Ronon just held up an eyebrow at Dean.

"No, I have the ATA gene too. Some people of Earth are, in small part, descendants of the Ancients. A few of us express this inheritance better than others. The people with a high level of the ATA gene are rare, and it's thanks to that that you can hear Atlantis and we can use the devices left here."

"SHIT!" said Dean and then he continued with several curses in a low voice.

John grinned again.

"Not the words that I would use..."

"What's so damn funny?"

Dean was wary about his wicked smile.

"Nothing just admiring your….extensive vocabulary."

"Do you want me to panic like a girl? No way."

"We're almost in the mess hall. Let's eat something. We’ll talk later."

"Do you have pie?"

His face lit up while they entered the mess hall. Cherry, peach or even better apple! He really hoped they had some delicious pie.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ sga~spn ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Elizabeth was near the technician, ready to send a transmission to Earth.

"Chevron eight locked. Wormhole established ma'am."

"Thanks Chuck. Get ready to transmit the compressed data and then secure me a line in my office with General Landry."

"Yes ma'am."

"Hello campers! How’re things there?”

The technicians working in the control room lifted their heads up for a moment:  Some exchanged brief incredulous gazes, others glared at their monitors with murderous looks and somebody went still, before all of them returned to their respective duties.

Like things in Atlantis weren't always…full of surprise.

"General O'Neill, it's nice to hear your voice…I had a meeting scheduled with General Landry."

"He is in the middle of a diplomatic mission with the Tok'ra, Carter and Daniel. You know how picky they are. I'm here just for a few weeks. Any good news?"

"We're fine. No Wraith attack for the moment but we have a lot to talk about. We’re sending some high priority data. I have to inform you that we believe there is an Ancient device on Earth to retrieve ASAP.”

"You folks…always having fun, aren’t you? We're receiving the data now. Doctor Weir a private word."

Elizabeth moved swiftly from the Control Room to her office. Both officers on each side of the wormhole had secured communications for their leaders on a secure and private channel. In her screen, General Jack O'Neill looked like a restless kid. Even though she talked several times with General Landry, she missed O'Neill and his humor.

His presence was a small relief for her.

"So…what happened?"

"Two days ago we found a young man in a section of Atlantis. We tested and interrogated him. It seems he is from Earth, his name is Dean Winchester and he arrived here by touching what we guess is an Ancient device. General…his blood test, clothes and weapons seem to confirm it; also he tried to escape thinking he was in a military complex and discovered he was instead on another planet."

"A civilian got in Atlantis!? You kids, always touching things…Hang on. Walter! Find me everything on Dean Winchester and send the data to Atlantis ASAP!"

"General I sent the location of the alien device with the data transmission. According to Winchester, he interrupted a robbery but we don't know if the thief was searching for that specific device or something else to sell. About our guest, he also appeared to have the ATA gene, Beckett and McKay think with the same level of expression of Sheppard and yours.” 

"He can use a lot of Anciety stuff, got it. So what now? Do you have some of those nasty non-disclosure papers to let him sign? The Daedalus could pick him up but they don’t return to Atlantis for two weeks or you can send him through the Gate…wait…Did you say weapons?"

"Jack, he said he is a PI and has the right to carry weapons with him. He had a Colt, two knives, a second gun and a set of lock picks."

"Not a regular PI then. Are we dealing with a rogue NID agent? Some fanatic militia's guy?"

"No and no. Although Sheppard said he had some kind of military training and that Winchester said his father was a Marine."

"Ah…marines…tough people, always a bit edgy."

For a couple of minutes they both stayed silent.

For Elizabeth it was like playing chess or working on a UN treaty again, every word had to be calculated so she chose them wisely.

"General, I have to ask, what will happen to him?"

"The NID will be on my ass in the next few hours once the news is out. I don’t need to remind you that this is one hell of a security breach. If people start to pop up on the other side of the universe with a click of fingers, things can get ugly very fast."

He ran his fingers through his hair, while she nodded at his words.

"I don't know Doctor Weir…The upper levels of the NID, the President, hell! Even I for the Homeworld Command will want to question him further and he can't be released for security reasons until we’ll deem it safe. In the meantime the NID will have jurisdiction on this case, they could pin him with some stupid charge and put him away in a secret facility. Or worse."

O'Neill face changed from annoyed to pissed.

"You said he had the ATA gene? It would have been better if he hadn’t had it. You know he could be the perfect target for the Trust. If I had a nickel for every time those bastards show up and screw things around…"

He let out a sigh.

"Besides them, you know how the politicians work. Some fussy guy probably will demand to keep him in Area 51 to try and test every Ancient device we have in store."

He rubbed his head again. This story was one hell of a mess.

"In the remote case he is free to go...if he talks to someone, spreads rumors…first conspiracy theorists then the press will be on us and the Stargate Program, everything, will be at risk. Detaining him could be the better option. I don't have to remind you what are we dealing with in both galaxies. We don't need any more problems."

"General I understand but he didn't do anything wrong. He accidentally got into this! We can't do something like that!"

"I can try to find a job for him with Landry here at the SGC, but even if I pull all my strings I don't think they’d let me do that. He can't go back to his life anymore."

His eyes were fixed on hers. He was worried, she could tell.

The war with the Ori probably wasn't going very well.

"He knows too much. It could be too dangerous for too many people. He'll be watched for the rest of his life. Hell! Probably some egghead will advise to use the Dargol on him just to be safe!"

Walter came briefly in the camera with some documents for O'Neill.

There was a brief moment of silence between the General and Doctor Weir and an idea popped in her mind.

"What…what if I offer him a job here, in Atlantis?"

"What?" O'Neill spat aloud.

"General this is a civilian expedition. I have the right to choose the civilians members of the expedition so I can offer him a job, can’t I?”

"Yes…but…For cryin' out a loud! Elizabeth…Do you realize you are risking your position? 
The IOA probably can't wait to have a reason to replace you with someone more agreeable with their agenda."

"I understand, Jack, but as you said, he is an ATA gene user and we need more people who could use Ancient devices here than on Earth. Also in the Pegasus Galaxy, he can't reveal anything that would compromise the Stargate Program, and he’s a civilian, he'll be under my jurisdiction. I already sent the SGA-1 to evaluate him. I'll tell him about his future options and I'll inform you of his decision."

Jack considered the idea.

It wasn't such a bad and absurd plan. He had made worse choices in the past during his time on SG-1 and her offer could save him a lot of worries and paper work.

"Doctor Weir, I have to inform the President and the Joint Chiefs of this matter. I hope he'll accept your offer."

"What will happen if he comes back to Earth and tires to escape?"

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Let's hope the kid uses his brain first."

"You don't want him around do you?”

Now that she had done all she could, Elizabeth was less tensed and tried to joke with him. 
Even with a frown, O'Neill too was more relaxed.

After reading some of the lines from the files in front of him, a small tight smile escaped his lips.

"Ah from what I see right now nope, nada, nyet. He’s trouble."

"Ohh? What kind? Jack O'Neill's kind?"

"Something like that. Time's up. Try to stay safe."

"As always. General O'Neill."

"Doctor Weir."

The communication was over and the wormhole to Earth disappeared.

Elizabeth was astonished about the conversation she just had; before she came up with that question she hadn’t considered the option of a job offer to their guest.

On Earth he would be trapped as a criminal or as a guinea pig just because he discovered the biggest secret on the planet. It was unfair and she intended to try to do everything to avoid that fate.

A job offer was her best idea. Thinking about it, she realized it wasn't such a bad plan. Sheppard had offered a place in Atlantis to Ronon, why couldn't she do the same to Winchester?

He could be useful in the Science Department helping them to activate the Ancient devices; he could learn to fly a Puddle Jumper and be a Jumper pilot; in the meantime the young man could be assigned to the kitchen or any other civilian duty.

Atlantis was a big city after all, she could find him a job to do.

The only problem was convincing him that staying in Atlantis was in his best interest.

"Doctor Weir? This is the file on Dean Winchester from the SGC."

"Thank you, Chuck.”

The freshly printed documents in the file folder weren't few:  Several schools’ documents, different hospital papers, two police juvenile and numerous CPS’ reports from all over the country.

General O'Neill wasn't kidding, the folder screamed trouble.

Chapter Text

John was surprised, the kid was like a chameleon: He had the military stance of a marine and no one in the mess hall was looking at him like a stranger. There were just a few people in Atlantis who knew about their guest, and most of the folks seemed to assume he was one of the new marines from the Daedalus' last shipment.

Even Dean was acting like he belonged here.

Dean after taking in his surrounding and noting where the exits were, copied every move from the other marines in the line before him, smiling from time to time at a group of female scientists near the door.

When they finally reached the table they were going to sit at and had set their trays down, John and Ronon saw how hungry the kid was.

He ate everything with gusto while he left the piece of pie for last, smiling at every bite.

When he saw the other two looking at him, he stopped with the fork in midair.

"What? A guy can't love pie? This is awesome. Is it apple pie?"

The pie had small pieces of fruit under the crust and Sheppard pointed at them with his fork.

"Uhm…I don't think that was really an apple pie. We have some fruits from other planets, but those are purple so I don't think there are apples in that pie."

"Dude the best pie I ever ate is an alien pie? That's it, I'm gonna grab another piece."

Neither John nor Ronon stopped him and Dean, after a couple of minutes talking with the cook, came back with two big pieces of pie and a big smile on his face.

"Okay we are in Atlantis, in another galaxy far, far away from Earth, gee….this sounds almost like the incipit of Star Wars, so who are you…the good guys?"

"We're not Jedi, and no, this isn't the Death Star for that matter. Anyway, as I said before we're peaceful explorers. We go across a portal to other worlds, this portal was built by the Ancients. We called it the Stargate. We travel to other worlds to try to make friends, understand old cultures, study other technologies and research new environments in order to find allies, knowledge and technologies that can benefit human kind."

"Stargate…"

A portal to the stars…didn't I read something similar in a Latin book in Bobby's house? It said something came through the portal, something…evil.

His mind was working hard trying to remember the story in that book but it was a very old memory. He didn't see Bobby very often and the guy had more books than anything else in his house.

"…you said allies with aliens? How do they look like?"

"Well…most are human like us, they just have different principles. Others are different but friendly and there are some races not so friendly."

"You got into trouble in another galaxy?"

Again suspicion arose, the colonel was being pretty vague.

"We had a few misunderstandings."

Ronon gave a snort at that.

"Who are you?"

Dean shifted his green eyes to Ronon.

"Since we're here I saw several people a bit edgy around you…why?"

"Specialist Ronon Dex."

Ronon said that statement like it was an explanation.

"He is part of my team. Ronon is from another planet. He’s a good guy. He saved my life a couple of times."

"Why are you telling me all this? Isn't it like some big secret no one should know?"

Something was off. They were giving him basic, but nevertheless valuable, information and that set Dean on edge.

He had to be ready for whatever was to come from these space guys.

He heard a little click coming from Sheppard's earbud.

"Yes, but you are here right now, it's pointless not telling you anything. Besides, you signed the non-disclosure papers."

John had a sharp grin on his face.

"I have something to do but Ronon can take you to the Science Department. Why don't you two go annoy McKay?"

"Do I have a choice?"

"Nope."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ sga~spn ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dean and Ronon walked for several minutes in silence with Dean glancing from time to time at his big strange gun.

"So you're from another planet. Why'd you joined them?"

"My planet was destroyed. I was a Runner and they helped me. I fight with them."

"Destroyed by who?"

Dean could tell Ronon was someone who fought for a very long time: He had the look of a hunter and someone who went through a lot of battlefields.

"The Wraith."

"Wraith."

Shit! Are they fighting supernatural monsters or aliens?

"What do they look like? How do they feed?"

Ronon gave him a long look before answering.

"White hair, superhuman strength and they heal fast. They feed on human's life-force with a hole in their hand. I'll kill all of them."

that sounds like a Shtriga not an alien.

"Uhm…so some space-vampire race? How do you slay them... beheading? Iron rounds?"

"Never tried that. I shoot them with my gun. With your weapons, I say three or four in the heart or in the head."

"Good to know."

Then without any other words, Ronon opened a door where a scientist was barking order to his underlings.

"Oh there you are! What took you so long?"

"We had lunch."

"Lunch!? Am I the only one working here? Uhmf…well did you bring some blue Jell-O?"

"No. This is Dean."

Ronon walked away, placing himself in a chair near the door, cleaning his gun.

"The new guy? Don't touch anything! If I say something, you follow my orders. Do you understand?"

"Like I care."

Dean was observing the guy: A genius smartass who liked bulling his underlings and being caustic with people.

The scientist also looked back at Dean, then without a word, he turned around, took an octagon prism from one of the tables and threw it to him.

Dean caught it with his right hand and the octagon lit up like a rainbow.

"What's this?"

"It's like a Rubik's cube, just more advanced. You do know the Rubik's cube, right? Try to solve it and then we'll see if you're worth something."

Dean was staring at the guy and at the strange octagon in his hand.

His first instinct was to punch the scientist in the face. He then looked again at the octagon with the intricate design and lost complete interest in anything else.

He sat on a chair and tried to solve the riddle and after a while he gave it back to the bitchy guy, who was eating a chocolate barrette.

It surprised himself that for the whole time he didn't survey his surroundings.

He must be getting sloppy.

"Fifteen minutes? It took you long enough to solve this."

"Rodney come on this was a good result. We can add the data. Sheppard cracked it in ten minutes and we observed the same reaction. Stop teasing the kid." The other scientist was working on a laptop near a table.

"I didn't ask your opinion."

"Can I go now?"

Dean was, again, tired of this man and his attitude, and wondered why he didn't punch him already.

He shot a look at the strange object now inactive on the table.

The feeling that the little puzzle game was the only reason he didn't mind anything else around him in those fifteen minutes sent a spike of fear and anger in him.

What. The. Hell!? What kind of objects do they have in this lab?

"No, you stay here for as long as I want. Why did you take only MIT's online courses? Too bored to follow in the classrooms?"

Dean was taken aback. "How the hell do you know that?"

"We work in an international secret program in another galaxy. Do you think we can't pull all your life in a file?"

"Rodney, go easy."

"Shut up, Radek! Only an idiot would toss away a scholarship to MIT and then follow online courses!"

"Ty vole, do what you want. I warned you."

The Czech scientist took one last look at them then he went back to work.

“So? Cat got your tongue?”

Dean was boiling with rage and was ready to knock out the man in front of him.

"Don't."

Dean turned back and glared at Ronon, who was watching all his movements. He had forgotten about the big guy with the gun near the door.

"So it was your gun that stunned me last time?"

"Do you want to try it again?"

"No thanks."

He closed his eyes and tried to calm down.

If they knew about MIT, then they knew all that could be found on him on official records. So they knew about his family, probably the several schools where he and Sammy studied, his juvenile records and hospital files.

Hell, he was so screwed. Escaping and erasing everything would be impossible.

The man in front of him was tapping his fingers on his datapad, unaware of how close Dean was to losing control and hitting his face.

"I had a job. I couldn't afford to leave it just to follow MIT's courses. I did it in my free time."

"Your marks are quite good and you say you had a job to do? What kind of job is more important than getting a degree and doing something useful with your life? Are you an idiot?"

He grinned with sadness in his eyes. For a brief moment, it was like hearing little Sammy again, bitching about their life and his dream to be normal and go to college.

"I helped others and sometimes I beat the crap out of the bad guy. Engineering is fun, solving cases is my job."

"Uhmf so we have another Capitan Kirk here. How troublesome. Another guy with a superhero complex."

"And who the hell are you? Spock?"

"I'm Doctor Rodney McKay, Chief of the Science Department of the Atlantis Expedition."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ sga~spn ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Elizabeth, you wanted to see me?"

Doctor Weir was sitting in her office with a preoccupied look on her face. She glanced up but her mood didn't change.

"Yes, Sheppard. Please come in. We have much to discuss."

Sheppard closed the transparent doors behind him and stood in front of her.

"I sent my report to the SGC and talked to General O'Neill. He sends his greetings."

"O'Neill? Is this about Winchester?"

"Yes…long story. Tell me, John, what is your opinion of him?"

"He seems like a good kid, a little cocky maybe. He loves our pie and, from what I've seen, our female scientists. I think he's hiding something, but I don't believe he's a danger to us."

She gave him the folder on her desk. He sat to read the most remarkable parts in the files.

"Well, I'm sorry he lost his mother when he was so young. He sure changed a lot of schools...and visited a lot of hospitals for a kid. His father?"

"Who knows but the social workers' reports showed that he seemed in charge and was overprotective around his little brother. The father was away most of the time, and sometimes Dean got in trouble with his classmates. In all the inspections, the motel rooms where they lived were clean and both brothers were in good health."

She took a file showing it to Sheppard.

"The social workers always believed it was Dean who was taking care of the family and not his father. One guy in an unofficial report said he watched their motel room for a month and that man showed up for only two days. Two days in a whole month! They were twelve and eight years old, John. They were just kids."

"He had a tough childhood. I get it. No wonder the little brother made his way to Stanford at his first chance…Dean instead seemed to keep going around the USA doing God knows what though suspected of impersonating law enforcement, credit card fraud, probably both, break-in at a cemetery…He really got busy."

"I talked to General O'Neill about the situation. He said on Earth the NID and IOA won't let him go for security measures and that was before we had his file. Probably someone will give him the choice to work in Area 51…with a 24/7 surveillance. His background doesn't help him."

"God I hate those guys…he's just a kid! Sure he has some issue but these are petty crimes. We have bigger fish to worry about! Beside who would believe him if he says anything about us!?"

"That's my point too. If he goes back to Earth now, what do you think he'll do?"

"He'll try to escape and disappear…"

He witnessed his attempt to escape custody and on another two occasions he had remarked that, with his talents, their guest wasn't a common civilian.

Sheppard wrote it in his report.

The folder added more proof of his abilities.

"…And then they could pin him down and take away all his rights."

"They want him to escape, don’t they?” John shot back realizing what Elizabeth was thinking.

"Could be…he has the ATA gene, like you, and he is a civilian. If you think about it, without rights they can do whatever they want to him, so they'll leave him no other choice. Winchester tries to escape and he will fall into their net. Some members of the NID wouldn't mind if they have to use these kind of tricks to get what they want."

"We can't let them do that."

"I agree and that is why I want to offer him a job here in Atlantis."

"Here?" He was speechless. John didn't expect this.

"Do you think there is another option? As leader of this expedition, I have the right to offer to a civilian a job here, don't you agree?"

"Yes, you do." John had a wide grin on his face.

"Do you think he could be a part of Atlantis? I don't want to put in danger any of our people for a stranger or a possible threat."

"I'll evaluate him with my men but he doesn't give me bad vibes. I assure you Elizabeth, Winchester will be under my responsibility too."

"Thank you, John. Now where is he? We have to solve this matter as quickly as possible. In less than two weeks the Daedalus will arrive and if he doesn't choose Atlantis, it's possible they have orders to escort him to Earth in handcuffs."

"He is with Ronon and McKay. I’ll call them and ask Ronon to take our guest to the control room. I think that seeing the Stargate before offering him a job can help."

"Very well. I'll wait here."

He got up, turned around and left, calling Ronon through the com-link.

Doctor Weir sighed, wishing for the hundredth time she was doing the right thing.

 

 

When Dean got to the 'Gate room with Ronon and McKay, he was astonished.

The city was incredible but the big circle of stones in the room was something else: Huge and with strange symbols all around it, one which looked like the Orion Constellation.

Sheppard had already told him that the combination of seven symbols were the coordinates for another planet in the galaxy. As much as he wanted to be skeptical, it was hard with all this alien technology around him.

"This is the Stargate."

As Ronon very briefly explained, Dean saw an incoming off-world activation and a big loud horizontal geyser materialize in the middle of the circle of stones.

After a couple of minutes, a team of four marines stepped out from the light blue pool of liquid formed inside the ring.

Dean scarcely breathed the whole time, whatever it was he could only describe it as beautiful.

"You will pay! Do you hear me Winchester!? You almost made me blind!"

"Hello kids! What's up?"

"Sheppard! Tell me we can send him to a desert planet. He tried to kill me!"

Dean snapped out from his stupor state and replied at the whining scientist.

"Oh come on Spock, I was only adjusting the lights. I never thought of blowing anything..." But the amusement in his eyes said otherwise.

"I yelled to think 'off', 'shut it down!' and what did you do? You didn't! You stupid chump!"

"I said I was sorry." There was a hint of mockery in his voice.

"You obviously are not! Mark my words, I'll have my payback!"

And with that Rodney took off, yelling and insulting whoever was in his range.

"…"

"You really did a number on him, didn't you?"

"I was bored."

"Come on. Doctor Weir wants to see you."

They walked in the office with glass doors and Dean was surprised to see a woman. She was in her late thirties, wearing like the others a grey uniform jacket, but quite opened: Under it he was able to see a red shirt revealing all her curves.

She had the appearance of a kind person but her eyes were strong and confident. Doctor Weir was clearly the woman in charge around here.

"Mr. Winchester, nice to meet you. I'm Doctor Elizabeth Weir, Leader of the Atlantis Expedition in the Pegasus Galaxy. Please have a seat."

"Yes, ma'am." He nodded and took a seat.

Even with his overall attitude, he could show some manners, especially with a fine lady.

"We are in a dire situation, Mr. Winchester."

"Please call me Dean, Mr. Winchester is my father." He had a pleasant smile that didn't reach his eyes.

"Very well, Dean. You know where you are right now. Colonel Sheppard told you, didn't he?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"I contacted Stargate Command on Earth and talked about our situation…There aren't many options."

"What do you mean? I can't go home?" His hands were clenching on his knees.

"I didn't say that. You are a civilian who discovered one of the most secret project on Earth. Even if you signed those non-disclosure papers, the government can't let you go free because they can't afford any kind of leak of information. Let me be clear with you."

She took a deep breath and stared in his eyes.

"With your precedents, if you return to Earth, you probably will be assigned to work in a secret facility. You can't go back to your life driving around the States anymore. You will be observed. Always."

"Bullshit! Let me go back to Earth and you'll never see me again." He stood up, rage boiling in his veins.

"Dean calm down and listen to Doctor Weir. We're not the enemies here."

Sheppard's hand unconsciously went near his side arm.

Dean looked at the colonel and after a long moment he sat back, his eyes focused on her.

"I know you're confident in your ability to get off the grid but you'll be hunted down by the United States government and others agency like the NID and IOA; and when, not if, when they find you they will leave you in jail for the rest of your life or worse. You have the ATA gene and there are some guys with their own agenda who'll do everything to use you for their own propose."

"So I'm screwed no matter what."

"You can choose to willingly and permanently work in Area 51 and the SGC can try to help you there...or you could join us here, if you want, and be a part of this expedition."

"Here? You mean in Atlantis?"

His expression was like pure wonder and he was visibly surprised.

They seemed like nice people with some fancy stuff but he understood very well the strategic risk his presence would make for them.

He was a stranger and they were especially selected people from all around the world. They watched each other's back in a galaxy full of dangers.

From a tactical point of view, he was a liability and yet they were willing to accept him no matter what they thought he did for living.

"Yes, here, if you accept a job as part of this expedition, you don't have to worry about the NID or IOA. I will handle them but you can't go back to Earth for a while. We have to first make you an official member of this expedition before you can request a vacation to Earth.” 

She placed her hands on the table, her face serious.

"I will not sugar coat this for you Dean. We are facing threats like no other: Here in the Pegasus Galaxy we fight the Wraith, a race who feed on humans and want the coordinates of Earth to harvest a new rich ground full of people; in the Milky Way we're fighting with a race called the Ori who are beings of another plan of existence who want to enslave the other races in the galaxy and make all people worship them as gods.

"We are an expedition of explorers but we also fight for our people. We keep them safe. Please try to understand all the risks involved and why secrecy is so important to us."

He nodded. He had too much on his mind to say something. In a few minutes his problems became so small: He always fought to save one person at time while there were people fighting to save the entire freaking planet…or even better, an entire freaking galaxy!

"The starship Daedalus will come in twelve days. I don't want to rush your decision so feel free to take your time, but before the Daedalus arrives I will need an answer. You're both dismissed."

Dean stood up and walked away without a word. Sheppard nodded to Elizabeth and followed Dean out of her office.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ sga~spn ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dean was in the isolation room. He moved the bed to where the blind spot of the cameras were and was lying on the bed, thinking.

The only way to see his whereabouts was by watching from the windows where Dean could see who was observing him. The Atlantis' staff seemed to understand his need for privacy and no one said anything.

The situation looked absurd: He was in another freaking galaxy and he was in deep shit.

Three things stuck out as the most important information in his mind: He wasn't on Earth, his father didn't know where the hell he had his last hunt and the Impala was parked near that hunted house.

His Impala.

Damn it! How the hell am I gonna get her back?

The humming of Atlantis in his head changed to a little noise.

Dean could swear Atlantis seemed jealous of the way he thought of his Impala.

Uhm…Sorry? I like you too.

The noise dissipated as Atlantis gave him a gleeful humming.

He returned to analyze his situation, but for what it was worth the choices weren't fantastic.

No matter what, if he went back to Earth he would be a prisoner of the government, a pawn in a bigger political game and he couldn't risk it by escaping and running, exposing his father and fellow hunters to the American authorities.

They already had too much trouble with the supernatural monsters. They didn't have to worry about aliens and the government too.

Even trying to talk about aliens to other hunters was absurd. Their existence wasn't as simple to prove as that of a ghost or a Wendigo.

It was more likely they would believe he went crazy. He wouldn't be the first hunter who lost his mind due to their job. Hell, probably his own father would be the one to put him in a mental facility if he said something along that line.

So unless he wanted to spend the rest of his life in a cozy, padded cell of some psychiatric ward, under some false name, talking about aliens to the hunters' community wasn't an option either.

Also every stupid federal agency in the country would try to find him. He could forget the cozy, padded cell.

With all the alien technology he saw in McKay's lab, who could guess if they didn't put some tracking device in him already? 

His mind was spinning with these types of thoughts when he heard a knock on the door. He stood up, alert to potential danger.

"Come in."

With fluid and soft steps, a woman came in his room.

She had an exotic beauty, brown-red hair, a kind expression on her face and strange leather clothes.

She wasn't a marine that was clear.

"Hello, Dean Winchester. My name is Teyla Emmagan. Am I interrupting you?"

"Nope." He offered her a seat at the table in the center of the room. She had a device with her, like a laptop but smaller.

"Who are you lady? Some kind of shrink?"

She appeared more like an Amazon to him, but in his situation he had to ask.

Maybe he really needed a therapist.

"No, I'm a member of Colonel Sheppard's team. I wanted to meet you and, if possible, help you."

"You're not from around here, are you?"

Her accent was strange. Her movements were too silent and calm, like she was walking in a forest and not in a city, and her clothes were too similar to Ronon's to be a coincidence.

"No, I am an Athosian. For years my people were culled by the Wraith. I and my people were rescued by Colonel Sheppard and his men when they arrived in this galaxy."

"They saved you…and now you're working for them?"

"No, we are friends. I fight with them, for my people and for all the people who are culled by the Wraith."

"So you're here for a prep talk. Thanks, but no thanks, sweetheart."

"Prep talk? I do not understand. I heard you were given a choice and I am here to show you some of our work stored in this datapad. If you know the kind of things we are dealing with on an everyday basis you can choose with much more freedom."

"Why are you doing this? I don't know you. Why do you want to help me?"

"Leaving was a very difficult decision. I was their leader and even if I can go see them, there are moments when I feel I betrayed them. But I know for sure I can do more here to help my people and the rest of the humans in this galaxy than I could ever do on my home world."

She paused for a moment, looking in his eyes like she could see through his little bitter façade.

"You are on a crossroad, Dean Winchester. I came here because I thought it was the right thing to do. You are here for a reason, maybe for helping us, maybe for finding your path. Whatever the truth is, I believe that some things happen for a greater purpose."

"I'm not a believer and I don't know what to do."

"Just because something is unknown does not necessarily mean it needs to be feared. Learn about us, about this place and then try to understand what your place is in the universe."

She stood up with a smile on her face.

"I have a Bantos fighting lesson with Colonel Sheppard. Good bye, Dean Winchester."

She rose and Dean was again alone in the room with a datapad full of redacted mission reports.

He brought it with him on the bed and he was still reading when the guard knocked and gave him a dinner plate. He didn't realize he spent hours reading and he was hungry. After he emptied his dinner, he kept reading until his eyes were burning.

Dean spent several days reading reports and wondering at night what the right choice was to make.

At first he was only mad about the entire situation and decided to work out an escape plan for when he got back to Earth. When he came up with nothing really executable, he was ready to punch something or someone.

Then he tried to focus on the problem as if he were in the middle of a hunt. That was much easier for him.

He studied the mission reports like paper articles and couldn't grasp how Earth and half of the people in this galaxy were still safe…some of their missions sounded more like sci-fi novels than real events and in half the cases luck had been on their side.

After a while he zoned out and thought about the kind of people who were out there risking their lives every day protecting the Earth without anyone knowing it.

It wasn't much different from what the hunters' community was doing for a very long time.

He smiled. They were somewhat like space hunters.

He laughed, picturing in his mind Colonel Sheppard, Doctor McKay and the rest of their team with Boba Fett's outfit and an improbable conversation between Sammy and McKay on aliens and ghosts. They would go on debating like two little geeks indefinitely.

He had a choice to make.

The idea of a job on Earth, in a secure location, doing God knows what, probably with someone always watching him was batshit. He knew with an occupation like that, he would go nuts in a month. He could stay in Atlantis and help people, just not in the way he thought; from the several reports he read, trouble seemed like an everyday occurrence around here.

On Earth, there was always another monster and another hunter trying to kill it.

Like an endless story.

Here instead…If the Wraith knew the location of their planet, if they didn't fight back and stop them in this galaxy, no one on Earth would be safe: Ordinary people, hunters, his dad, Sam.

Only chaos and death.

Knowing all that, he couldn't go back. He had to help with all he had.

He needed to do everything he could to protect Sammy.

After making his decision, he only had to work out a plan for something to say to his father.

He knew if his dad assumed he was dead he would do something stupid, like a deal with a crossroads demon.

No, Dean needed him to understand he was doing something useful with his life, just not in the country.

He spent the rest of the sixth night thinking of a plan.

The seventh morning after their first talk, Dean was escorted, by his request, to Doctor Weir's office.

When he arrived the colonel was waiting for him as well.

"Good morning, Dean. Please sit. How are you today?"

"Fine, ma'am." Even if he had long shadows around his eyes, he was always alert of his surroundings.

He sat in the chair in front of Elizabeth.

"Have you made your choice?"

"Yes, ma'am. But I have a few requests before accepting anything."

She raised an eyebrow.

He had requests. She could easily brush off whatever demands he had since she was the one risking her career for him.

However, she knew better. His next words would tell more about his character than most of the papers she had on him. 

"What do you need? I'm afraid the shipment from Earth is already in this galaxy. There is nothing we can bring here for now."

"I decided to accept your offer, Doctor Weir. I'd like nothing better to help you here in Atlantis than worrying about some stupid federal agency hunting my ass on Earth. But first I have to take care of my baby and my father before anything."

"Your girlfriend? What's her name?"

John was grinning at the witty remark about the federal agents.

"Baby and she's an Impala '67."

Dean's eyes were fixed on Sheppard, daring him to say anything about that.

"A car?" Elizabeth was stunned, of all the things…was he talking about his car?

"Nice car!" shouted John with delight in his voice.

"Yes, a very fine car and I want her untouched and without a scratch…when I go back. You can put her in a garage, right?"

"Yes, that should be easy. What about your father?"

She didn't take long to reply. It was a small concession and it would be helpful to smooth the negotiation.

"I have to make some phone calls."

"What do you want to tell him?"

"I assume I can't say anything to him, but he'll try to find me if he doesn't hear from me from time to time."

"You know your phone calls will be registered and analyzed. Then if Stargate Command thinks it's safe, they will send it. Also, please try to understand, you can't have a phone call weekly or monthly. Every time we open the Stargate to another galaxy we expend a lot of energy. Your phone calls would be sent with other data files when we have a lot of data to send or by Daedalus' shipment. Do you agree with that?"

"It's fine. We don't hear from each other every single month."

He waved his hand to dismiss the subject.

"Can you arrange a single room at MIT, some stuff in it and a student file following courses there on my behalf? I'll tell him I'm taking some courses, and then, if your people agree, in a few months I could tell him I was chosen for a MIT's job, related with the Marines, so I'll probably be out of reach for the rest of the year."

"Why all this?" interrupted the colonel. He probably could guess but he wanted to hear it from him.

"Sometimes we go and check on my brother at Stanford, even if we don't call each other. If he tried to do the same at MIT and there isn't any signs of me around, he would find out pretty quickly that I lied. It's a half-truth and with that he doesn't have to worry."

Elizabeth and Sheppard had a brief, silent conversation with their eyes.

It was a good plan to avoid questions without reveling anything and they hadn't come up with an explanation for his family. Sheppard nodded slightly in agreement with her.

His resourcefulness surprised both of them.

They had the feeling this wasn't the first time he bent the truth around him. Elizabeth shivered at the thought that "suspected of impersonating law enforcement" wasn't so much of a mere possibility.

Both Elizabeth and Sheppard heard his dull tone when he talked about his brother so neither of them asked any other questions on the matter.

"Very well. I don't think we'll have any problem to arrange that."

She took a datapad and moved some files on the screen.

"I have to schedule all this. In the meantime…Dean Winchester welcome to Atlantis."

She extended her hand to shake his and welcomed him with a gentler and warmer tone.

"Thank you, ma'am."

"Colonel Sheppard said you have some military training, but you are first of all a civilian. You'll be under mine and Sheppard's authorities. Is that clear?"

"Yes, ma'am."

Despite what she just said, his stance was similar to every other marine she had encountered.

"For the next few weeks, Colonel Sheppard and his XO, Major Lorne, will supervise your training. They'll evaluate and teach you the basic things to defend yourself and the others here on Atlantis. You have to know what happened here in this city and you'll have access to some of Stargate Command reports in order to understand the differences between several alien races who live in both galaxies."

She took a brief breath and fixed her eyes on his.

"As I said, we are an expedition of explorers. We are searching for new technology and new allies in our fight against the Wraith and the Ori. It's not just for fighting back but to be able to reach all new kinds of scientific breakthroughs. A proper understanding of another alien race is as important as a plant that can help to cure cancer. 

"I understand, ma'am."

"Good…also you have to learn the rudimental of Ancient technology, it's standard for every person who works here. Doctor McKay and Doctor Zelenka will explain the rudimentary and they'll assess you. After that, based on your abilities, you'll be assigned to a specific duty. Is it clear?"

"Yes…ma'am."

The military training was a piece of cake but he didn't expect all the other stuffs.

"Your room will be near Ronon. Please understand that there are some people who are concerned so you will be scrutinized for few weeks."

"I understand, ma'am."

"If you do something stupid, Ronon has the right to shoot you."

John was serious in his statement and in his eyes Dean could read the real threat of someone who would do anything to protect his people.

He respected the colonel for that. He would do the same in his position.

"Got it, sir."

"Then your training start tomorrow. Please sign this paper."

Dean read the paper the colonel gave him and then he signed it.

"Very well. Now I must attend my duties. Gentlemen, you're both dismissed."

"Let's go. I'll show you your room."

With that they headed to the quarters section of Atlantis.

Sheppard showed Dean where his own room, Ronon's room and Dean's new room were located.

"If you need anything, come to me or Ronon. Early in the morning we always run around some blocks of the city. Since you didn't have much with you, we took the liberty to wash your clothes and add two uniforms in the closet as well as another pair of boots. I'll call you tomorrow morning at half past six. Be ready."

Dean took a moment to think what he had on him that night.

Somehow thinking about the fact that he was in Twin Falls just a week, or two, ago appeared so surreal.

Dean felt a little pang of sadness when he realized that except for his Impala, he didn't own anything that really mattered.

Clothes were almost worn out and easily replaceable. He had his cellphone and his wallet, with the three photos he valued the most, on him that night and most of his weapons were safe in the hidden compartment of the Impala's trunk.

His guns. Shit.

"What about my weapons?"

"Not gonna happen, Dean, only authorized personnel has the right to carry weapons around Atlantis. Yours are in the armory. You can't have it back."

Bullshit.

His face was impassive, but his eyes were on fire.

"Don't do anything stupid. After the evaluations if you’re assigned to off-world missions, you'll have them back. On Atlantis you can have weapons only in case of an attack or some other emergency, but you can have back your kit of lock picks."

Sheppard took it out of his vest and gave it to him.

Most of Atlantis' equipment didn't work with a lock pick so it was a safe thing to return.

"Don't make me regret it."

"Understood…sir."

Despite everything, he knew he was the new guy here, in a place where the military staff made most of the security decisions in order to look out for the civilian population.

It was the right thing to do to take his weapons away, but that didn't mean he had to be happy about that.

Those were his guns and his silver knife!

"Good. Try to get some sleep. Tomorrow will start your evaluation week."

Chapter Text

His room was much better than the motel rooms he and his family stayed in the past few years. He had his own bathroom and a spacious bedroom with a rhomboid window on one wall. The architecture was in line with the Atlantis' style with walls painted in a shade of light grey and some azure vertical lamps.

That was a really nice change compared to most of the insufferable patterns he often saw in the thousands of shabby motels in the USA during his career as a Hunter.

Some of them hadn't realized the 70s were over.

The bed was soft, the water in the shower was hot, and the lights were just as he liked. Atlantis was doing her best to make Dean feel welcomed and comfortable.

That was the first time, since he arrived, he slept the whole night.

In the early morning, Ronon, John and Dean were running at a good pace around several blocks of the upper levels of Atlantis. Despite the fact he was in a city probably as big as the entire island of Manhattan, it was clean. Every place seemed connected and most of the constructions looked alike. The smell of the ocean was always in the air but never too strong, and on a bridge that connected different piers, he could hear the noise of some alien bird or whale.

The sunrise was so astonishing, even if a bit too green in his eyes, that Dean fell behind for a while. Staring at the beautiful view of the city in the early morning.

He was in another galaxy, ready to fight aliens and live in Atlantis. He was thrilled and at the same time, he knew the risks weren't few. Dean could easily die out here and his family would never know.

However, watching the alien sunrise relaxed him…and he felt happy like he hadn't been on Earth in a while. Here he wasn't John Winchester's son or Sam's brother. He was just him. He could choose his own path.

A little weight from his chest seemed to disappear.

"Are you daydreaming or do you need a break?" shouted the colonel.

"What? No! I'm coming."

It took him a moment to realize that several feet ahead, Sheppard and Ronon were chuckling and he cursed to himself. He never really liked running for fun as it reminded him of his job, and there were many other enjoyable things you could do for fun, but he always kept himself in shape.

"So what's next?"

"We're going to the gym. You'll have a hand to hand combat test and then we'll see how good you are with handling guns. We will take a break after and have a little fun."

Dean gave a quizzical look to Sheppard before he shrugged. Whatever they had in mind, he was prepared.

When they arrived at the gym, several marines and airmen were already there working out doing push-ups, bicycles, dips and weights.

They all stopped at once to salute or not at the colonel and Ronon, respectively.

Dean could see in their eyes the fond respect and confidence they held for Sheppard. They trusted their commanding officer with their lives and, if the reports were true, for a good reason.

So not just a stupid flyboy.

For him, just his father, Sam and Bobby were trustworthy.

The marines shot wary looks at him and Ronon, other just dubious one.

"Come on kids, let's round up. Lorne."

"Colonel."

Sheppard's XO had a pen in his hand and was checking on some schedule shifts for the marines.

"Is it all ready?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good. Let's see what he can do. Winchester, come over here. I assume you’ve hand to hand combat training from your father, don't you?"

"Yes, Colonel," Dean said, shifting his gaze around the gym.

"Good, let's see if what he taught you was any good. Sergeant Barroso will spar with you."

Dean nodded and took his position on the padded floor ready for his opponent.

Barroso was a trained marine. He took his stance in front of Dean and waited for the colonel's order.

He was young, probably in his late twenties, and was well fit.

The sergeant seemed a good guy, not bold or arrogant enough to underestimate his opponent, but a little carefree due to the fact that Dean was a civilian.

Like that was the right word to describe him.

When they started, Dean let the first move go to the sergeant. They circled around for half a minute before Barroso tried to do a fake punch with his right fist and strike with the other in Dean's left side.

Dean avoided the punch by moving away with a swift move. Then the marine tried several punches to get his guard down but Dean was able to evade every punch except one to his left shoulder.

Then he moved.

He grabbed Barroso's hand, placed his foot behind the foot of his foe and pushed him towards the ground. The poor guy tripped on Dean's foot and crashed on the ground with a loud thud. Dean didn't hesitate and took one of his hands behind Barroso's back to immobilize him to the ground.

The match was over in less than six minutes.

"He is good," was the only thing Major Lorne had to say.

"No kidding…Lieutenant Kemp you're next."

Dean helped Barroso up and, after a brief exchange of formalities, they shook hands. Lieutenant Kemp nodded to Colonel Sheppard and took his position on the padded floor.

Now they knew he wasn't a simple civilian and Kemp kept his guard up, ready for Dean's moves.

Kemp started with a kick and a series of punches from different angles, always trying to stay on guard when Dean punched back, than with his right foot kicked Dean's left knee.

He kneeled on the floor with a grunt, got up fast and began to circle lieutenant Kemp.

A few bruises were already forming on his cheekbones but his eyes were gleaming.

Dean was enjoying the fight.

It was ages since he had a good, fair fight with someone else and wasn't under imminent death.

He decided to try a trick that always worked with Sammy.

Dean held himself like his left upper arm was really hurt and he was protecting it, then when Kemp got close to strike with another series of punches, Dean used the open in his right side to strike a powerful punch to his ribs. When the lieutenant jerked back from the pain, he aimed another punch at the guy's solar plexus.

Unlucky for him, Kemp was able to place a good shot to his face at the same time.

They both stumbled on the ground. Less than a minute later, Dean got up, massaging his face and cleaning off a bit of sweat with a towel while the lieutenant was still on the floor trying to catch his breath.

"Pretty good," added Lorne while handing a chocolate bar to Ronon.

"Okay I get it…what's that?"

John was a bit stunned. In fifteen minutes, their newest addition had been able to beat the hell out of two of his men.

"I lost a bet with Ronon." Lorne wasn't trying to hide the smile on his face.

"And?"

"I bet on Dean, Lorne on the marines," said Ronon with a grin. "I have two bars, one for each match."

And with that, Ronon advanced on the padded floor.

"Oh you gotta be kidding!" Dean said with a groan when he saw Ronon.

"You're wasting your time talking, let's spar."

"Okay, Big Guy, I'm all yours."

Dean didn't even finished the sentence before he moved fast, trying to land a quick blow.

If the previous matches started with slow and measured approaches, in this one Dean moved with expert precision and as fast as he could, hoping to hit his opponent unprepared.

Ronon protected himself and pushed him aside.

After that, Dean defended, blocked several attacks and tried to stall him while searching for a weakness. Then he attempted a roundhouse kick but Ronon blocked the foot and pushed him off balance, dumping him loudly to the ground.

Dean swore. Ronon was one hell of an opponent.

While they were fighting, the other marines began to take bets over the match.

"Sir, what do you think?"

"Ronon will win that's for sure. Anyway the kid is really good. If I didn't know better, I'd say he fight like a vet. Keep an eye on him."

"Yes, sir."

John was wary. Despite everything he read in Dean's file, nothing explained how he could be a top tier fighter like the best of the marines dispatched here without using quite often his "education".

Surprisingly after high school, the electronic trail was sketchy. There wasn't a steady job or place in his life.

Maybe he got in some bar fights around the country but that couldn't be where he learned so much about fighting.

John noted to himself to check Dean's father background as the guy probably was in Special Ops and trained his son like one.

The fight went on for over twenty minutes, where both sides seemed pretty worn out, until Ronon got Dean with a swift punch to his jaw and finished the match, sending the kid on the floor, breathing heavily.

Ronon extended a hand to help him get up.

"You good?"

"Peachy."

"Let's spar again another time."

"You betcha."

"Okay kids, the show is over! Come on guys, go take a shower. We're meeting at the shooting range in thirty."

When they arrived, Sheppard took his time to explain every weapon they had in there: P90, berretta, several automatic and semi-automatic guns, the difference between switch blades, karambits and boot knives, how much distance one needed to be safe from the blast of a grenade or the C4.

Except the Wraith's stunner, his whole speech sounded like a boring lecture to Dean.

While he explained how to use a P90, Dean took one in his hands, switched the safety off and shot at his target. He was able to draw a smiley face on the chest of his paper target.

"Nice, but I still prefer the Colt and the Desert Eagle I had."

"Right…you know the P90 has more bullets and it's more effective on a Wraith."

Dean took his .45-caliber M1911 and shot five times: Two in the head, two in the heart and one in the lower parts of the target.

Sheppard looked amused.

"I can see your point. However, for off-world missions the P90 is our standard weapon."

Ronon took out his gun and shot right where Dean's smiley face was. The hole was so big that half the chest of the paper target was gone.

"Where I can get one of those?" Dean had his envy eyes on Ronon's gun.

"Get in line kiddo. Everyone here would have one those.” Sheppard had a big grin on his face, like it was an old joke.

Envy and delusion were all over his face. However he soon became occupied with the Wraith's stunner and one of the Genii's gun.

It seemed that whatever weapon he picked, Dean was able to handle it without effort.

After that they tried several other weapons. Then the test was over and Dean was walking out of the shooting range.

He was almost at the armory's door.

"Didn't you forget something?"

"Uh?"

Sheppard was cleaning a Wraith's stunner and looking at him with a disapproving frown.

Maybe the kid needed to know what it was like to be stunned by that gun.

"What did I say yesterday?"

"Welcome to Atlantis?" Dean said with a charming, sheepish smile.

Sheppard let out a sigh. It was like scolding a child.

"Come on, Winchester. Leave the knife here. I said no weapons."

His hands were tight on the stunner. Ronon was grinning and half curious to see what would happen next.

Dean shrugged his shoulders like it wasn't a big deal and gave back his silver knife. He had taken it while they were doing the shooting test.

"Well you can't blame a man for trying."

"Yeah right. Don't push your luck kid. You won't have a second chance."

Sheppard's last sentence had a serious tone and Dean nodded, understanding the warning behind it.

John took the knife and closed it in the armory with the Wraith's stunner; Ronon took a moment to look at the knife while he was close to Sheppard.

"I like him. He has good tastes for knives."

"I like him too but he can't have a knife despite your policy to always carry one with you. I know you gave one to Doctor Parrish last week." He gave a huge frown to Ronon.

"It was for his off-world mission with Lorne," Ronon said with a serious face.

"Not the point, Ronon…we don't know him…he's a civilian….just…just don't give him any of your knives okay?"

"Okay."

"Good."

While John locked the armory, Dean was near the door waiting for them with a sergeant who was watching him like he was a thief who just attempted to steal the Crown jewels. It was a bit annoying to be glared at in such a way for his effort to get back his own knife but Dean didn't let it bother him.

"So what's the fun part you were saying early?"

"Let's go. I'll show you."

Sheppard's eyes were beaming and a big smile spread on his face.

Whatever he had in mind, Dean was a little uneasy with that joyful attitude.

After several corridors and ramp of stairs, Dean was confused. If it were up to him, he probably would be lost in Atlantis in a couple of hours.

The buildings had all the same architectures and it was hard to understand the complexity of it when they could move from the inner city to the northern pier just by taking an elevator.

Despite that, the colonel kept showing him things: Laboratories, archives, living quarters and the most frequented areas of the city.

"If I know one thing for sure it's that your life changes forever once you have an experience in outer space or after one trip though the Stargate…you and your problems seem so small in the big picture. Some trips can go wrong but once you do it once, you're eager to do it again. Trust me."

As they entered a new bay, Dean whispered to Ronon, "How long will he keep going like a hyperactive kid?"

Ronon looked at Dean with a little frown. "He is always like this."

"Great," he said with an annoyed face.

"Come on guys, let's have a little fun."

As Sheppard said those words, the doors of a huge hangar opened.

There were vehicles that looked like a mix of mini space shuttle and a tin can. Some scientists were working on two of them while the other vehicles were parked, each one in an accurate spot.

Dean had his mouth open in awe. Those were really strange pieces of technologies and for a while he wondered what kind of engines were in them.

He followed the colonel into one of them.

"You know we call it a puddle jumper, jumper for short."

He wasn't really listening to what Sheppard was saying as his eyes were stuck on the things inside.

At first its shape threw Dean, who believed it was an advanced submarine, since Atlantis was a city floating on the sea and he heard that the city was once on the bottom of the ocean.

He could just picture the city under water, hiding from the Wraith with protective shield in place and these tiny submarines as the only way to go out and reach the mainland.

Then once he saw Colonel Sheppard taking the controls and remembering the name "jumper" in several reports, he grasped the right answer.

"No way."

He was almost half out of it when Sheppard closed the jumper's rear hatch and with simple and quick maneuvers flew the jumper up toward the ceiling of the Jumper Bay.

Dean grabbed the first seat he found and closed his eyes.

"Shitshitshitshit…"

"Hey Winchester! What are you doing back there? Come and see the planet we're on. You can see everything from here and guess what? You're gonna go into space!"

Dean wasn't panicking.

He was cursing and some of his obscenity were directed to a certain freaking flying colonel; at the same time, however, he was sending prayers to whatever deity was out there, hoping that they wouldn't crash by being accidentally hit by an asteroid.

With his luck, that was a high probability.

He began to mumble again.

No, Dean wasn't panicking at all.

"Take me down…now!"

"What? Why?"

"Because…Oh God….those are moons?....shitshitshit."

Sheppard and Ronon looked first at each other and then at Dean: He was using his cursing like a mantra.

A little smile had grown on both their faces.

"Don't tell me… you're afraid of flying, aren't you?"

"No, Sherlock. I'm not afraid. It's statistics: Planes crash, people die."

"You're joking, right?" John's smile grew wider.

"Do I look like I'm joking? I don't fly. Take me down."

"Dean, I'm a seasoned pilot and this isn't a simple plane. We're not gonna crash, at least not from a brief recon without any Wraith ship chasing us."

"Don't jinx it!"

"Fine, fine. Okay come here and see for yourself. The jumpers are Ancient technology, the same as Atlantis."

Dean moved slowly from the seat near the hatchback to the one behind the colonel.

He could see the strange symbols, similar to the ones on the so called Stargate, the pilot joysticks and thanks to the wide front window, the entire alien planet below them and the stars above.

The sight was beautiful and terrifying at the same time.

He knew that if a small piece of asteroid broke the front window all the oxygen would be sucked out in less than a minute and they would die. Asphyxiation wasn't a good way to die. Yet to be able to see another world in another galaxy with a different set of stars was truly astonishing.

His erratic heartbeat started to take a more steady rhythm.

"Thanks to the ATA gene I can control the ship with my mind. I can fly, shoot or cloak the jumper simply by thinking about it. It's much safer than any vehicles on Earth. There is no reason to be afraid."

"I trust my Impala more than this tin can but I catch the drift."

He was fidgeting but it seemed like talking about the technology of the jumper distracted him from the fact he was flying so John kept chatting about drones, cloaking device, inertial dampers and other technical stuff. They just looked like a couple of guys talking about motors and cars.

Dean, however, never let the window's view out of his sight.

While they were talking, Sheppard smoothly flew the jumper around the moon and did a scan.

"Control Tower to Jumper One. Come in."

"Control Tower, this is Jumper One. Is everything okay down there? Over."

"Everything's fine, Colonel. Just a routine check, sir. You've been up there for over two hours. We were wondering if you encountered some anomaly. Over." Chuck had just a hint of worry in his voice.

"All in order up here. We'll do a quick check near the biggest asteroid and we're coming home. Keep the roof open. Over."

"Roger that. Central Tower Out."

The colonel turned to Dean with a teasing smile.

"What do you think? Wanna try or are you too chicken to handle it?"

Dean was a little pale but, just to take that smug smile from Sheppard's face, he took Sheppard's seat and Sheppard's took Ronon's. The Satedan sat behind the colonel without a word.

"What do I have to do?"

"Take the commands. Can you feel it in the back of your mind?"

After a brief nod from Dean, he kept going.

"Think of flying the jumper as if you're driving your Impala."

"I drive on a road not in the middle of frigging nowhere."

Before he finished that statement, a semi-transparent screen appeared in front of him: On the upper right side there was something similar to an odometer, on the left side a mini-map showing his surroundings and in the middle a series of lines like the ones on a road.

"What the hell!?"

"Well you wanted a road…" Even as he said that, John was a bit surprised.

He was a pilot, he didn't need a road to help himself to fly around, and as far as what he knew, none of the other pilots ever mentioned a panel like that. It was similar, yet different in several ways, to the one that showed their trajectory in space.

Atlantis, and by extension the jumper, filled the request of their new member to her best.

There was always something new with her.

"She is something…"

Dean grinned a bit while he adjust his grip on the controls and flew the jumper at first with a wary drive and nervous eyes. When he got the hang on the whole "flying thing", he flew the jumper with more ease.

As they got nearer the biggest asteroid, the jumper was flying like a racecar on a deserted, imaginary highway.

"Okay, now turn around at the asteroid and head back to Atlantis."

"Wha…it's huge."

"Yeah and we're gonna crash on it if you don't stop admiring it."

That was meant to be a little joke but a terrified Dean swiftly turned his head to look at Sheppard and lost his focus on the panels.

Before the jumper's controls were lost and the gravitational field of the asteroid kicked in, John took the gearshifts with a strong mental and physical grasp from his spot.

Dean was as white as a sheet and his hands were gripping the handles of his chair.

Ronon just stared at them with a curious look.

"Sorry. Bad choice of words."

"Son of…Can we go back now?"

Sheppard smiled.

Maybe trying to solve his fear of flying would take more than a simple trip.

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Rodney was having a bad day: He didn't find any muffins in the mess hall this morning, some labs still weren't working properly and he was assigned to several boring duties, one of them involved their new recruit.

It seemed to Rodney that Elizabeth and Sheppard had a complex for strays: First Ronon and now Winchester.

He was just began to adapt to Ronon and now he had to suffer the presence of another dumbass walking in the hallways of his Atlantis.

So Rodney was in his lab working, muttering curses, and doing his best to add the strangest questions to the test for their newest, obnoxious guy: Quantum physics, Latin, math, American history, cultural nonsense taken from Doctor Daniel Jackson's notes, French, chemistry, basic engineer problems on a 302, biology and so on.

The MIT's papers meant he wasn't just a pretty face. Behind his cocky grin, he probably had some brain cells; however, his attitude rubbed Rodney as very few people had managed to do.

Even if Doctor Weir had offered him a job here, now that he was in his domain, Rodney knew how to make his life a living hell.

The test was just the beginning.

He watched with smug eyes as Winchester entered and took a seat in the lab. He was bored and his face showed disinterest for him and his minion.

After several minutes, on McKay's order, the bald man placed several papers and a pen in front of Dean.

"What the hell is this?"

The scientist let out a sigh. "Mr. Winchester, we hoped…"

McKay glared at him with a cold stare and he closed his mouth.

What's his name again? Waldron? Watson? Walton? What an incompetent man.

"That's your exam moron. You have two hours to finish it and Doctor Waldron will stay here to keep tabs on you."

"Watson, sir…I'm Doctor Watson."

"Whatever." Rodney shushed him with a hand.

"And if I don't take it? You…What? Write a note and send me to the principal?"

Dean was teasing him and Rodney's cheeks became red in an instant.

"You'll take it or I will personally see that you will be escorted to a cell since you're a security risk!"

"Aww I'm wounded and here I thought we were bonding so well."

Rodney snorted with disdain.

"You're delusional, Winchester, and your reluctance to do this test is just more proof that you’re a fraud. You probably sent someone else to take the exams in your place. Who? Maybe your little brother?"

"Bite me."

"Enough you two."

Both of them turned their eyes on the person near the door.

Doctor Weir was there with her hands folded across her chest and a deep frown on her face.

"Dean Winchester, we already discussed this matter. Doctor McKay is the Chief of the Science Department and he has the right to evaluate your abilities. So if he says you have to take the test, you'll take it. Is that understood?"

"Yes, ma'am."

Rodney had a huge grin on his face while Elizabeth was scolding Dean.

However, after the response from the guy, the leader of their expedition was glaring at him with the same intensity she had with Winchester.

"Doctor McKay, didn't I order you to explain things clearly? It's a new, unexpected development for everyone. However, I don't need to remind you where we are and what it is we are doing. Quit poking at each other and get to work. That's an order…for both of you."

"Fine."

"Yes, ma'am."

They glared at each other for another couples of seconds before Dean took the pen and started his test.

Rodney took his datapad and walked out of the lab, while Doctor Weir let out a sigh and followed her scientist.

She had many years working on diplomatic missions on Earth and yet, in a situation like this, she felt more and more like an elementary teacher scolding two children rather than the leader of an expedition in another galaxy.

"I don't like him."

"Ronon likes him."

"Well then those two can be Conan the Barbarian and Rambo together with their guns and muscles and stay away from me. Why did you order me to evaluate him? He's another stupid monkey!"

"Rodney! You are the Chief of the Science Department. Act like one! Winchester is here now. We don't know anything about him so I need an evaluation from everyone and that's an order. End of story."

"Fine. Now let me go back to my projects. I already lost enough time for this."

"Did you succeed in solving the problem in Section…Twelve?"

"What? The lab with flickering lights?"

"Yes, I already received a report about that."

"It must be some broken crystals. I'll check when I’ll have time. You do realize there are still several important repairs that need to be done because of the Wraith attack?"

"Yes, Rodney. You don't have to remind me"

"Then let me do my work. God, I need a coffee."

After that, Doctor Weir went to the main tower while Rodney took off towards the mess hall.

When he went back to the lab three hours later, he found his minions working on several repairs and a new paper on his lab desk.

He sat there and took a look at the test he gave to Winchester.

After a while he stormed out of the lab, furiously yelling to everyone to do their job while the paper with a smiley face, some answers and foul words rested on his desk.

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After the so called test, Dean wondered around Atlantis with his appointed guide, Sergeant Stackhouse.

The two of them got along fine and the marine took him to a large room, similar to the gym but in a more isolated area.

Teyla was there sitting on the floor in a meditating position.

"Good afternoon Dean Winchester."

"Hi, sorry to bother you. I didn't know Atlantis had a yoga room."

She looked at him with a little confusion then she smiled.

"You are not the first one to talk about this 'yoga'. What is it?"

"Uhm.. well it's…some touchy-feely form of exercise girls do to relax."

"I understand, thank you. I do not do yoga here. I am meditating. Would you like to join me?"

"Thank you sister but I don't like new age things."

She was trying harder to understand his slang but then she dropped the subject when Sheppard came into the room. After a brief conversation near the door, the colonel dismissed Sergeant Stackhouse and greeted the two of them.

"Then would you like to see Colonel Sheppard's lesson? I am teaching the Bantos fighting style."

Dean nodded. He was always ready to see and learn new techniques.

Despite everything his dad had taught him, Dean always sparred with him or Sam and that didn't leave much room to come up with new moves. Monsters and ghosts didn't count as sparring buddies; every time he was lucky his training was enough to keep him alive.

Besides, this seemed like a good opportunity to see the colonel's fighting abilities.

Regardless of the fact that she was thin and well fit, her stance was that of a seasoned fighter and Sheppard's face showed the dismay typical of someone about to get their ass kicked by their instructor.

No way in hell would he miss the match. He sat near a wall and watched as they began their match.

They circled each other for a while before Sheppard took the initiative and, with a strong slash, tried to hit Teyla on her left hip.

She elegantly avoided it with a rod and at the same time used the other one to hit the right shoulder left unguarded by the colonel. He step back a little to regain his balance while she waited for him.

It was like a dance or, at least, Teyla’s movements were.

She was swift and precise in every action and her rods were always able to hit Sheppard on his hips, shoulders or knees.

After a few minutes, Sheppard was panting and aching all over while Teyla was only a little heated and without an ache.

"You have not practiced your Bantos fighting in weeks, Colonel."

"Uhm…I was a little busy…so what's this…payback?"

"No, I was only reminding you to listen more during our lessons."

"Copy that."

After the brief exchange they kept fighting for another five minutes before Sheppard was on the floor.

"Yeah…I don't think this is only for that."

"No, you were lazy today. You showed up late."

Dean chuckled, unable to keep it to himself. The fighting and the reprimand were awesome; just what he needed to cheer up.

"What are you laughing about?"

"Nothing."

"Yeah, right. Maybe you should be in my place. It's not a cakewalk to fight with Teyla."

"I didn't say anything." His grin, however, betrayed his words.

"Sheppard is right, perhaps we should have a practical lesson. Do you want to try?"

He shifted on his spot. He didn't like to fight with girls but if the previous match was any kind of warning of how good Teyla was then he could easily forget her gender.

Besides, Teyla's words had the distinct tone of someone who didn't accept "no" for an answer.

"Sure, why not."

Sheppard got up and gave the rods to Dean.

He took them and gave them a few practice swings to get acquainted with their weight. When he was ready, he faced Teyla.

As in the previous match the two of them started to circle each other, both prepared with their rods in hand for the other's first move.

Dean wasn't ready to make the first move so Teyla took the first step in their fight. In the beginning, she only bumped her rods a few times with his; tantalizing and letting him defend each blow.

Then when he began to gain confidence in his steps, she increased the pace and was able to hit him a few times. He distanced himself from her to gain a little moment to collect himself. Even if she had hit him only two or three times, they were well placed hits and his body was aching already.

He wouldn't win in a prolonged fight. Teyla would win simply by tiring him so he threw caution to the wind and began to attack.

He tried to mimic her by hitting either her shoulders, knees or hands but each time Teyla was able to defend herself from his attacks.

This time, she was the one that backed off to take a small breath.

Dean was in worse shape, panting and sweating.

He ran towards her at a fast sprint and unleashed a powerful blow with his right rod. She saw the strength behind the attack and defended herself with both her rods leaving her left side uncovered. He took a chance to hit it with his left rod, although it was slower and weaker than the other and as a result, Dean only grazed her left shoulder.

Teyla was a little surprised but without missing a beat, she turned around and with a precise blow, the power increased by her spin, hit his ankle.

He jumped backwards from the pain and was kicked by her foot in the abdomen.

Dean was on the floor without even realizing how it had happened and Teyla was right there, with a rod pointed at his solar plexus.

"I surrender?"

"Very well."

She let him go and went to retrieve her towel.

"Did you have any previous experience with this kind of fighting style?"

"Mmm…not really."

Dean couldn't say that swinging iron bars around to fend off ghost was in any way similar to that but surely it gave him an understanding of how to grip an iron bar, or a wooden rod in this case, and how much strength he had to put in each strike.

"But I saw some movie with Escrima fights," he added trying to dodge any question.

"Escrima?"

"That is a martial art used on Earth by some people. It isn't very common."

John filled in while they were taking a little time to themselves.

"It uses sticks or knives and hand to hand combat. Yeah in some way it's similar but less…"

"Elegant," Dean provided.

"Bantos are more elegant?"

"That or you took it to a whole new level, sweetheart."

John shot a glare in his direction.

Teyla was unfazed by that but pointed the rod again against Dean, this time near his Adam's apple.

"Please call me Teyla. Will you come next week for another lesson?"

"Umh…sure. Sorry…Teyla."

"Very well. I accept your apologies Dean Winchester."

"You can just call me Dean."

She nodded and left the room.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ sga~spn ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Before the Daedalus entered their solar system, Elizabeth summoned her senior staff in the conference room. She wanted an update on their newest addition and something in her gut told her that the next encounter with Colonel Caldwell wouldn't be pleasant.

"Gentlemen, Teyla have a seat. What's your opinion on Winchester? "

"He's good in hand to hand combat, he took out two of my marines without a sweat, and he is well versed in fire weapons too. We talked about military tactics and he was good in that field as well. He can handle himself better than some of my marines although he has fear of flying. He's a hot head and sometimes a bit cocky though I think overall he's a good guy."

"From a medical point of view, he had several old injuries and scars, some compatible with the medical reports you gave me, Elizabeth. Other injuries appeared to be handled by someone with a bittie of field medical experience. As I said before no previous alien encounter visible in his tests. I've cleared him. His arm is fine and he doesn't need any meds. The lad has a healthy appetite but he should lower his consumption of high calorie foods."

"Uhmf…I don't like him," Rodney said without preamble and pushed a paper test to Zelenka.

All eyes were on McKay while Radek raised his eyebrow then looked at the test with a little amusement.

"Rodney, what is it that is upsetting you? The fact that he almost solved a problem on a 302 he doesn't know anything about or the fact that he didn't answer half the questions?"

"There something fishy about him. He dropped school to be a wannabe detective, there is no way he could solve that problem! Besides who knows something about Cajun folklore? About what the hell a Rugaru is?"

They looked each other trying to understand if anyone knew what he was talking about.

"Doctor Jackson?" asked Carson shyly.

"Exactly! Only a freak like Jackson can answer such a question, but at least he's an archeologist! He has to know this kind of nonsense! Winchester doesn't even know who the Vice President of his own country is! I'm telling you there's something wrong with that guy!"

"Come on Rodney! The kid traveled a lot and took online courses, maybe he's just good with engineer stuff."

"Pftt…you can't be serious Sheppard! We aren't talking about a quick, easy car to repair, we are talking about a 302's engine!"

"So he is smart,” Ronon said dryly.

"Smart! Ah! It's more likely he took a lucky guess or coaxed Walton to help him!"

"Who?"

Zelenka's eyebrow rose higher trying to figure which of their minions he was talking about.

"Gentlemen, please, back to the topic. Bottom line is: He has the potential to be a good addition to Atlantis. Am I right?"

Elizabeth saw some of them nod to her words.

"But…do you think he’s a danger to this expedition? Do any of you think he has secondary goals here?"

"Do you think he’s a NID agent?"

"No, Rodney. It seems unlikely and he doesn't fit their standard, but I can't let my judgment be clouded by sympathy. So I ask to all of you…what do you think of him?"

"He is capable of killing."

When all the members looked at Ronon, he shrugged.

"I can see it in his eyes. He is a warrior, not a killer."

"I agree. He is a bit lost though he is not a danger. He can handle himself well."

"Ronon and Teyla are right. The kid is a smartass and probably hiding something but he is trying to do his best in this situation."

"Uhfm…you want to keep him? Fine! Your pet project Sheppard, I don't want him near Atlantis' main systems and especially not the Chair!"

Elizabeth looked to all of them and let out a sigh.

"So…What job do we have for him?"

Chapter Text

It took him three months to get bored with his duties at Atlantis. At first he was all business, like he was on a hunt. But all the wonders about the city and the other worlds were difficult to match with his former life.

Every race the teams encountered had their own culture and mostly were human or at least humanoid, there were alien plants and technologies that could change life on Earth forever: everything was a new discovery, and what lay within was the potential to do good or bad things.

The supernatural world on the other hand was only populated by creatures who wanted to feed on humans or hurt them; in his experience nothing good came from the unknown. He had learned to shoot, behead, stab and burn first and ask questions later.

Thanks to the mission reports he had to study, he learned about other cultures: some appeared to have come from the medieval era, others directly from a steampunk movie and others still were advanced enough but due to some incidents were pretty hostile.

 

None of that, however, was his priority.

His main concern as a hunter was the enemy the people were facing on daily basis: the Wraith.

 

Several aspects of this alien race were so similar to some of the supernatural creatures Dean and his father encountered or heard of, and it wasn't difficult to see a connection.

Maybe Shtriga, vampire and probably Dijin too, were somehow related to this race. Perhaps some Wraith from Pegasus Galaxy did find Earth and through the centuries they evolved in what Dean knew and hunted.

It wouldn't be the first time the hunters missed a piece of the puzzle: supernatural lore had so many different sources, for them the origin of the creatures wasn't important as was how to kill them.

Nevertheless the hunter's song was the same: they feed on humans, they have to be killed, end of the story.

 

Atlantis was now in hiding and all the off-world trips were carefully planned. He was an unknown variable in their expedition, and from their point of view a civilian, so they chose to let him stay and help but he wasn't allowed to go off-world.

However he was a hunter and a damned good one at that, he couldn't just sit around and wait. Dean had set his mind to change his position in the expedition.

The first step was knowledge.

 

An ignorant hunter was a dead hunter.

 

He started to study about the city and his people, learned about all the reports on the Wraith and observed the teams who went or returned from off-world missions.

It was a relief to found out that the Alteran, the language of the Ancients, was very similar to Latin.

Thanks to John Winchester, he had learned to read and speak Latin well enough to be cleared for the Alteran's speed course in less than two weeks.

Thanks to that he was able to access the Ancient database. Based on the Ancient records of Wraith attacks on several planets and the information recorded from different populations, Dean saw a pattern in their feeding, or at least a previous pattern, before the expedition woke the entire Wraith population.

His discovery led him to understand a bit more about those creatures, their queens and what he guessed was a kind of division in different bloodlines. The information he had on their “cousins” helped him to a great length.

He compiled a series of notes, like he and Sam always did when they were researching a supernatural creature, but he didn't know to whom he should show it.

He talked about it to Ronon, since he had a huge experience with the Wraith. After a glance, Ronon gave the notes to Sheppard.

Dean was surprised when the colonel praised him, because in all his life as hunter his research weren't anything his father deemed worth of any praise, just part of the job.

 

For years Dean had left Sam doing all the research, allowing his geeky little brother to read for hours and collecting old dusty books in the public library.

Nevertheless, he was the guy who taught the sasquatch in the first place how to do a proper research. For years he had done it for his father, when Sam was too young to even know what they were doing.

Sheppard, however, was more than happy about his findings: that kind of information was able to save more lives than anything they were doing at the moment.

Just by warning people of a possible attack or planning a surprise attack with few hidden jumpers was more than Sheppard could ask for.

 

Aside learning everything he could, it was also important to keep training and fit in.

 

Dean kept going to the gym with other marines, and attained several fighting matches.

Those kind of fights were good ways to learn something to exchange and to let the people know that he wasn't a simple civilian.

In Atlantis, money wasn't the real coin, sure it still had its value but everyone had something more interesting to exchange for the right item.

One night he was even able to find the woman who had and traded the best alcohol supplies. With little words here and there he was able to acquire some booze for himself and helped the scientist on improving the taste of her experimental beer. The European scientist was really good at making the beer, but her sense of business was a bit lacking and Dean was able to help her seal some good trades around Atlantis.

 

Dean would never admit it, but those people were growing on him.

 

He had also begun to poke McKay when no one could see him.

The guy had the attitude of a prima donna and needed someone to quarrel with to boost his ego. Beside half of the time it was fun to blow his mind with comic paradox or pop-culture reference.

Staying on colonel Sheppard and major Lorne's good sides wasn't always an easy task: he didn't mess around too much and tried to propose himself for jobs other than patrols.

Other duties assigned to him were: helping in the repair of some Ancient device by thinking "on, diagnostic, off" and plain simple manual jobs with the repairing teams.

Even if months had passed from the siege where the Wraith had attacked the city, some piers and labs still showed traces of damages.

It was important to show them he could do more than that, but occasionally his mischief got him into trouble and he was back to square one.

Sheppard didn't mind too much, if it wasn't anything serious, but Lorne wasn't on the same advice.

On the other hand he became friends with Ronon pretty fast. Both of them didn't need much words to explain themselves and they understood each other perfectly. It was like they had a silent agreement to never have chick-flick moments, beside most of their free time they spent sparring.

Zelenka, instead, took him under his wing and they worked together on different engineer projects.

Even if, sometimes, it was difficult to understand the Czech with his extensive speech in his mother tongue, mainly when things went out of control, it was awesome to be able to work on some Atlantis equipment with him.

His understanding of engineering took a whole new level.

It was nothing like the MIT's courses, they worked in Atlantis with technologies advanced beyond anything he saw on Earth.

Teyla and her Bantos' fighting style was another thing he was slowly learning to appreciate but, no matter what, at the end of every lesson, he was always on the mat beaten by her.

 

He was slowly fitting in at Atlantis.

 

However day after day he grew a little more restless.

They gave him a dark charcoal uniform with green stripes on it because he was mainly part of the Engineer Department. He didn't wear it very often, choosing instead to wear half of it and a plain military green t-shirt or just a mismatched BDU they gave to him because it was much more similar to his every day clothes than anything they had.

Although he was a civilian, since he appeared to be a jack of all trades, he was often assigned to guard duty: watching some scientists doing some crazy stuff in their laboratories or patrolling the city with the soldiers.

At first it was a good way to see the wonders the science teams had learned in the Pegasus Galaxy, he familiarized himself with the city and all her peers, docks and hidden laboratories.

He was able to know most of the scientists with his "switch" job and their little obsessions. While he built an EFM meter with spare parts of a walkman in his teens, the scientists around him were all geniuses who instead knew how to make an atomic bomb or other dangerous things without effort.

Nonetheless deep inside they were just a group of nerds who sparkled every time they discovered something new. It was funny and sometimes cool to see how a pretty simple experiment changed rapidly into an emergency situation where the only action was to secure the area and eliminate the threat.

 

In general, small stuff compared to the off-world activities and Dean felt like an eternal recruit.

Worse, sometimes he felt like a convict with a handler: always with someone nearby, never to be left alone in the labs or in the main area. His only sanctuaries was his room and a docking peer near it when he felt the need to be left alone.

 

Often at night, looking at the alien ocean, he thought about his dad and Sammy. He kept reminding himself that Sam was safe at Stanford, out of the hunting life and without any knowledge of the truth.

Dean had read some of the SG-1 reports: in the past years there were few close calls, but in the end the people in the Stargate Command had always saved the situation.

Earth was in danger, but brave people were doing their job to defend it, he shouldn't worry for his family.

Despite that knowledge the thought of his dad and his little brother, billions of light years away, not knowing what could harm them terrified him.

As predicted John Winchester's voice mails were very few and short, somewhat distracted and without any hint of worry. Dean often replayed the phone calls on the laptop they gave to him.

He really believed or maybe wanted to believe that his older son was safe and away of the hunter's life. Or Dean had disappointed him and his dad didn't want to have anything to do with him because he chose a normal life over the hunter life at the first opportunity.

Whatever feelings he had, it seemed to Dean that even without a demon to follow, John Winchester was always too busy with another hunt to care for anything else.

 

Regardless of the initial fear, his flying lessons were another good escape from his routine and his hollow thoughts.

Dean enjoyed being able to fly the jumper from Atlantis to the mainland for supplies and commercial trading with the Athosian, because during those trips, flying at low altitude on the ocean, he could pretend to ride his Impala.

He missed his baby and the feeling of an all-night drive on a desert highway.

The Athosian were nice people and during his trips he was allowed to stay for a couple of days on mainland just to learn about them, their former planet and their culture or help the party hunters in their expeditions in the deep woods near their village.

The hunts in the forest were so similar to what he did on Earth so it wasn't a surprise he was really good at it and all the Athosian hunters were always glad to see him.

They didn't have wary eyes around him or saw him as civilian or a military guy, they just respected him for how he worked. Just like Ronon and Teyla did, and for a while it was fun and refreshing.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ sga~spn ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Major Lorne knew that, except for some people like doctor Weir, colonel Sheppard, Ronon, Teyla and most of the times him, whom had earned his respect, Dean was deaf to anyone else's order.

His bickering with McKay wasn't really an issue, since he had already tuned out whatever complaint Rodney had with everyone, beside the Major thought it was a good way for both guys to vent at each other and be less troublesome.

Lorne's problem was Dean's attitude with the other egomaniacs around Atlantis.

Unluckily for him both scientists and soldiers had their fair share of men like that and Dean was able to rub off every single one.

In order to help him to make new friends, listen to others' orders and solidify his training in teamwork, the Major placed him in a group of fresh marines for simple recon missions on the mainland.

 

He should have expected the outcome.

 

A day and half later the lieutenant assigned as the leader of the mission had compiled a report about his behavior and they had an Athosian in medical bay.

The complaining of the superior officer was about insubordination and defiance of direct orders.

Regardless of the fact that he was a civilian, most people in Atlantis treated him like any other soldier, so a report on the major's desk on Dean's behavior wasn't strange.

Lorne couldn't help but sigh for the countless time.

Wex, a friend of Jinto, was lost in the forest and his father asked Dean and the team for help. Despite the efforts the marines and the group of Athosian hunters weren't able to locate him. The group leader told them to retreat and set camp for the night due to low visibility, Dean complained about the orders but eventually followed it.

The lieutenant stated in his report that Dean left the camp unnoticed, after his night shift to watch the perimeter, and went to find the boy by himself.

Along with the boy's father, Wolan, they kept searching and the two of them had killed a wild beast while it was heading for the boy.

As an aftermath Wolan was injured, Dean had mended the wound and the boy was safe. When the team arrived they decided to transport the Athosian back with them for medical assistance.

 

After that stunt, Dean was confined to Atlantis on guard duty for another two months.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ sga~spn ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

In Section Twelve several technicians were working on Atlantis' consoles: removing the burned chips, calibrating crystals, switching a medium cable with a little one and so on.

It was a complex, slow process; McKay was in the center of the room on a chair around several consoles, barking orders like a captain on a sinking ship, trying to save enough data and solve the other problems all at the same time.

Regardless of the hectic situation, a lazy Dean was near a wall looking intently at a brunette scientist working alongside him.

Sheppard, Ronon and Teyla were at the door when John stopped to talk with Lieutenant Negley.

"Good morning Lieutenant, report."

"Good morning, sir! All in order here, Colonel. Doctor McKay is in the lab with his staff repairing some flickering lights and Winchester is on switch duty."

John smiled at the words. "Switch duty" was the so called job for the people with the ATA gene who were called by scientists to turn on/off, run diagnostic or activate an Ancient device.

However some of the machines didn't respond well to the people who had the gene therapy but worked perfectly fine with those whom already had the ATA gene.

For Carson and McKay that was a mystery.

Ronon and Teyla watched behind him at the chaos unfolding in the lab.

"How's the kid doing? Speak freely."

"He followed most of the orders this month, sir."

Negley almost grinned at his own statement.

"He took several night shifts and did his switch duty without messing around with the scientists nor complaining."

The lieutenant shifted to a more relaxed pose.

"Sometimes he is annoying, and damn if he isn't a hustler, he cleaned four marines last month at poker. Bet he can hustle even Zelenka and the Norwegian scientist over there."

As they watched the turmoil of people going in and out of the room, Negley kept talking.

"Winchester and Doctor McKay don't seem to work well together, they have a habit to quarrel on everything like cat and dog. But for now nothing really important has happened, sir."

He glanced at the lieutenant in front of him, sometimes John had to remind himself that the words "speak freely" tended to be taken literally by his men.

"Good work lieutenant, carry on."

Sheppard heard Dean talking to a pretty scientist, a little laugh escaped from her mouth and just before McKay turned to them with angry eyes, yelling them to go back to work, John decided to step in the room.

"McKay what's up?"

"Sheppard! It's about time! Where were you!? I called three hours ago!"

"Oh! Come on Rodney that was only a hour ago, I had to see Elizabeth first."

"Whatever, hold this."

Rodney took out wires from the console and putted it in his hand, then head back under the console. The center of the lab was much more like a battlefield than an Ancient workstation.

"Uhm… what are you doing? Gutting Atlantis' circuit?"

"What!? Don't be stupid. I'm fixing this, can't you see?"

"See what Rodney?" Teyla looked around trying to understand what their friend was doing.

"The lights! Everything! I removed all the crystals, took apart the panels near the doors and nothing! Even with some of them burned, which I repaired a week ago, there is nothing that explain what's wrong with this lab!"

"What do you mean?" Ronon went to greet Dean and together approached the group.

"This lab is driving me crazy for days! First the damned lights, then this week the heat system broke, and now the damn data is corrupted and incomplete."

"Did something happen in this lab?" an icy thought came in Dean's mind.

"I have yet to figure it out! I can't even access the logs! What didn't you understand when I said corrupted data, dumbass?"

Dean took two step forward and was about to say something to shut his mouth, but was blocked by Sheppard.

"Come on kids, play nice." looking at both of them. Then John let his eyes stay on Rodney "You don't even know what it does?"

"What did I just say Sheppard!? Corrupted data!"

McKay moved around without even bother to see the incredulous looks on their faces while he switched some wires and turned around.

"Winchester come here! Be useful for once, I need both of you."

And without any warning McKay took Dean's arm and placed his hand on a semi-transparent panel.

 

"Fuc…"

 

"What…"

 

"Rod..!"

 

"Sheppard!"

Dean, Rodney and John didn't had the time to finish their words, Teyla and Ronon shouted in unison at the colonel, as a surge of power flashed from the panel touched by Dean to the wires held by John.

A sightlessness light engulfed the three of them and blinded the whole room in a heartbeat. After a minute Ronon, Teyla and the others in the room regained their sight, only to discover that they were gone.

 

Sheppard, McKay and Winchester vanished into thin air.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ sga~spn ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

The three men were unconscious in the lab, Sheppard near a wall, while McKay was on Winchester's left side on the floor several feet away from the console station.

The air was sour and the lab was covered in the darkness.

The first to regain consciousness was Sheppard with a terrible headache and little pain on his left hand. A quick check-up told him he was almost fine, besides the obvious headache, on the ground and with a burn wound. It took him a while to focus on why he had three slightly toasted fingers, so probably he had a mild concussion too.

"Son of a bitch… McKay, I swear touch me again and you'll die."

Dean regained awareness with an itchy pain in the back and what felt like a huge hangover, but he was so outraged with the man near him that he didn't register anything else.

"Winchester… what are you talking about…? And stop screaming, my head hurts."

"Rodney."

Sheppard weak voice and his awkward position snapped them from their quarrel.

"Sheppard what…?"

"The blast."

It was the only thing he could say before recalling the events of what happened to them. A quick glance told John that the other two where remembering the same thing. Sluggishly all of them stood up, glancing around the lab.

"What happened?"

"There was an explosion of light." Dean said recalling the rush of power from his hand on the console.

"Yeah, good thing we have Mr. State-the-obvious here."

"Rodney." John's tone was quite grim and demanded answers.

"What? How should I know?"

They took a long look around trying to understand what happened. The lab was undamaged, no explosion occurred there, it was dark and a thin layer of dust covered some of the equipment.

"We are in the lab, all the lights are off and no one is here..." stated Dean.

"Why didn't they call the medical team!?" shouted Rodney, while he massaged his head.

John placed a hand on his earbud and tapped in.

"Sheppard to Medical Bay, please respond."

When the medical bay didn't respond, he tried to reach Teyla and Ronon then Carson and Elizabeth. All he heard was static noise. After a moment of silence from the three of them another problem popped in his mind.

"Why it's so dark? Wasn't just midday?"

"Oh this can't be good..." murmured McKay.

Sheppard went to the nearest window to check outside, but there was nothing: no clouds, no sky, not even the rest of the East Peer, he saw a piece of their tower and a dark blue shade of mist covering everything.

"There's something wrong McKay, I don't think we're in Atlantis anymore."

"What! Of course we are in Atlantis! Don't you see this console? I worked here for the past three days!"

As Rodney said that he took a look around to see his equipment and the gutting he was doing earlier splitting the console in the middle. He gaped in concentration to see the workstation in pristine condition, apart for a big layer of dust and the crust of something dark red on it.

"Oh God, this is very bad."

"If we are in Atlantis, where is everyone?" Dean was looking at the two of them. Their expressions were grave and his gut told him that the bad news were yet to come.

"Maybe you should ask when..." Rodney said it with a stiff voice.

"What?"

"We traveled in time? Back or forward?"

Dean took a swift look at Sheppard, he couldn't believe what he heard. John was pissed but his expression was that of a man who wasn't fooling around and already has experienced something like this.

"You're kidding, right?"

"It's possible, or it could be any of the other six or seven theories I have in mind."

"We need to know McKay. Now."

Sheppard took his side gun, checked the rounds and patted himself to know how many rounds he had on him. Two guns, three rounds, a switchblade and a Kit-Kat bar. He hadn't had his gear on because he hadn't plan to go anywhere; so no C4 nor other munitions. He glanced at the other two, Winchester hadn't a side gun on him because of their policy of not letting him near any weapons, and Rodney hadn't one because he was working in a lab and he took the gun only for the off-world missions. He sighed and asked Winchester what he had on himself: he had a flashlight, a match, two energy bars and a small pack of M&Ms. However neither of them had water and they both knew it would be a problem in the near future.

While Sheppard and Winchester were evaluating their gun and food supplies, Rodney went near the central workstation in order to pull out some information from that. Lucky for him when they were hit by the blast McKay had his datapad in his hand and he found it on the floor. After some attempt to initiate the panel and run a diagnostic he sighed in frustration.

"Hey you two, quit doing whatever G.I. Joe thing you're doing and come over here. I need an ATA gene user."

"You know McKay you could ask it more politely."

While Dean glared at McKay, he ignored him and kept searching the lab, Sheppard went and lightly touched the panel. A thin glow illuminated the station and a screen appeared in the air above one of the computers.

"Okay so we're still in an Ancient lab, well that crosses off one or two of my theories."

"What theory?" asked Sheppard in a dry tone.

"If we were incapacitated by the blast and our minds were transferred into Atlantis' mainframe by this device, we both would be able to access it."

"Well, good thing that's not it."

"Is that even possible?" Dean asked with a bit of incredulity. He had read some of the reports and saw extraordinary things in these last few months but even if most of them sound like sci-fi works that "theory" went beyond his wild imagination.

McKay didn't even try to dignify that answer as he worked around the console, and studied the screen. Sheppard shrugged his shoulders and his expression was something like "wouldn't be the first time".

"Okay what about the other theories?"

"As I said we probably traveled somewhere: in time or in a parallel reality, shifted in another dimension or to an identical lab on another planet hundreds of light years away. Or we could be still unconscious and hooked into some Ancient device Carson uses in his medical voodoo, kept in a dream state by another Ancient pet project escaped from its cell or maybe infected by an alien virus. Pick one."

As Rodney said the last one out aloud his expression changed from pissed to terrified.

"Oh god... it can be a virus, how can I survive a virus?"

"Let's not panic now, Rodney." John said with a weary expression.

Dean looked at the duo, and stopped to think how all those theories were better as movie plots than concrete possibilities for their situation.

"What's on this device?" John questioned, trying not to think at the worst case scenario.

McKay stilled for a minute before he got back to work. Tapping several times and reading the screen helped to cool down his anxiety. Than the light began to flick and the screen blurred with corrupted data.

"Damn it!"

Sheppard was near Rodney who was muttering curses to the computer so he didn't notice as Dean's hand gesture to take the gun out from his back.

Then Dean remembered, he didn't have one.

It was a habit but he kept forgetting the house rules. Even if a gun wouldn't have salt shots he would feel better with its weight in his hands.

Flickering lights and cold spots in his experience meant just one thing: ghost. However they were in another galaxy and their problem could just be a malfunction, or something related to Atlantis and alien stuff not necessary a supernatural thing.

 

Yet his gut was telling him otherwise.

 

"Rodney, talk to me." John was near him, trying to calm his friend.

"This is stupid! One minute the device works, the next the files are illegible. This Ancient device is broken, I need time to figure it out. And you talking over my shoulder doesn't help."

"Okay, I get it."

Dean approached the two of them and focused his eyes on a blood print near the panels. It was rusty and old but definitely human. He pointed it out to Sheppard.

"So... is someone here to match that?"

"Maybe. The handprint is old, but not years old." Dean said in a wary tone.

"How can you say that? Have you watched a CSI season and now you have a degree?" McKay snapped from his position.

Dean's face morphed in a disgusted expression at the mere thought before he turned his face and looked again at the handprint.

"No Sherlock, you can tell by several things: his position and the different layers of dust. The blood print is recent. There is just one, not several like a lot of people would leave if they were attacked, it's on one side of the panel like he or she was trying to grip onto something to have more stability while with the other hand covered some part of his body, the mouth maybe or some injured side. And if it was years older the blood would be much darker and dusted."

 

The explanation side-tracked Rodney who up until now didn't acknowledge Dean at all. For him he was just a hitchhiker who had somehow won a ticket for another galaxy without any effort and worse without any qualifications to justify being with them.

And he was a pain in the ass. With his witty remarks, stupid movie references and horrible taste in music, most of the time he drove him crazy.

However the guy didn't seem so afraid or useless as he thought; right now they were in a hostile environment and he had helped with his knowledge to assess their food supplies and what could be around beside them. At least he reacted better than Kavanagh in a crisis.

So all things considered he could be useful.

That said it was probably his fault they were in this mess, that idiot must have thought something wrong and most likely started a chain reaction in the computer terminal.
Nonetheless, before McKay could start another quarrel with him, John took the lead.

"Okay we need to check the building, Rodney stay here and work on that machine. Find something, anything. And report to me in an hour."

With a sigh Sheppard gave him one of his guns, he didn't like it but he couldn't leave McKay alone and unarmed. Rodney looked at the gun with mixed feelings before taking it.

"Dean, we are going to search this building and find some clues."

Dean nodded, he wasn't the expert and didn't know what clue they had to find but he was willing to follow Sheppard's lead.

John took position upfront and the two of them moved outside the lab. After they left, McKay closed the door and removed a crystal in the panel as a precaution. If he had to work on their problem at least he shouldn't have to worry about someone sneaking up on him.

Dean and John walked in formation, Dean covering Sheppard's back and making some light with his flashlight. As they passed a long corridor they searched through the unused rooms: some filled with empty stasis chambers, other with construction materials, but in all of them they didn't find anything that seemed remotely alive.

 

If this was Atlantis then he was in a horror version of it, Sheppard thought grimly.

Nothing functioned properly. Even when he or Dean opened a door or lighted up a room.

 

Everything was half dead, covered in dust and with a thick scent of rancid air. In some rooms the lights didn't activate at all. The whole building was cold and stale.

The floor ended with a set of stairs leading upstairs and downstairs. However those leading below were obstructed by debris and impossible for them to move.

"There is another room and then the stairs, the elevator doesn't work."

"Do you think we can find a Stargate here?"

That was a good question. Shepard gazed first to Dean then to the nearest small window.

"No, it's unlikely. If this is Atlantis then the Stargate would be in the Main Tower, we are…were in the East Peer. I doubt there is anything else besides this building out there."

Dean tried to recollect in his mind a map of the East Peer.

"Uhm.. there wasn't any floor above, there were several below and that elevator connected to the Main Tower."

"Yeah I know. I need to inform McKay."

While Sheppard was at the com-link, Dean took a moment to inspect the last room. Again some lights flickered, Dean looked around ready but he didn't see anything out of the ordinary just more junk materials all over the ground. He felt a little puff of cold air and turned the flashlight in that direction, only to find a window and another bloody handprint on a pillar. Like the other one in the lab it was old, but nothing else.

"Found anything?"

"Yeah, another handprint, but that's just it. Whoever left it probably was hidden behind this pillar."

"Then let's go upstairs, McKay said we can narrow down a few more theories if we discover something else."

They left for the stairs, always Sheppard in the front and Dean in the rear, watching his back. The lights in the room they had just left flickered again, the air went cold and on the floor written in the dust appeared two words.

"HELP ME".