"Hi Chuck." An airman Chuck had never seen before greeted him cheerfully near the gateroom of SGC.
"And you are?"
"I know this is going to sound odd even for us but it's me, Hunter."
Chuck raised his eyebrows.
"If you're Hunter Riley shouldn't you be billion lightyears away on a ship that falls apart over your head?" Because of course the Destiny story had made its way even to Atlantis. The Daedalus crew was a bunch of horrible gossips, Hermiod included if it meant he could glee at McKay.
"Destiny is not that bad." Riley protested: "And we have a set of communication stones, that's why I'm here and that's why I'm in this body."
"Okay." Chuck accepted the story with the same equilibrium that he had accepted everything Atlantis and Pegasus had thrown at him so far.
"Can we get out of here? We have no drinks on board except for Adam's paint thinner." Riley sounded a bit desperate. Chuck chuckled.
"Sure, I'm just telling Sheppard where I'm going to be."
"Sheppard, huh?" Riley grinned and raised his eyebrows in a way that convinced Chuck without doubt that the man in front of him was really possessed by Riley.
"Not here. You know very well it can get him in trouble."
"So, spill." Chuck said as soon as they had their beers and were settled in the far corner of the nearest bar.
"I'm stranded on a ship a few million years old billion of lightyears away from home with a bunch of people, some of them crazy." Riley said, then added dryly: "How do you do?"
"Substitute ship with floating, flying city then you could also talk about me." Chuck responded.
"Did I mention that we have no way to get home yet?"
"At least you have a way of communicating with Earth. We were completely cut off for a whole year. Also we have leather-clad Marilyn Manson wannabe space vampires - and Rodney McKay."
"We have Dr. Rush. You can't top that."
"Ever tried McKay when he's on caffeine withdrawal? Or Zelenka for that matter."
"I had Rush pinning me to a wall and yelling at me while he was on caffeine and sleep withdrawal."
"Still no life sucking space vampires." Chuck countered.
"Wait for it." Riley answered: "We had water erasing, intelligent bugs, technologically advanced catfish aliens, planets with Kankra sized spiders, dinosaurs, solar system building aliens and hallucination inducing ticks." He counted.
"We had dinosaurs, too. Plus rogue Asgards, love potion pot, space travellers, nuclear bombs, hostile takeovers from about every human fraction in Pegasus, life sucking dog-sized ticks, Wraith killing and Wraith turning viruses, runners and - you know that we could continue this for the rest of the night without coming to any conclusion, right?"
"So you say we call it a draw?"
"I can live with that."
"Yeah, me too."
"You realise that we're taking this whole long-distance and keeping-in-touch thing to a whole new and ridiculous level?" Chuck asked with a grin.
"We're doing space travel and aliens for a living." Riley reminded him: "I'm pretty sure we're the least average friends ever." He leaned closer after a moment, changing the subject:
"So, Sheppard? I want details."
"Only if I get some details on you and Adam. You're still together aren't you?"
"I turned him purple last week." Riley grinned smugly and looked very pleased with himself.
"Is that euphemism?" Chuck asked flatly.
"No, I turned him literally purple. There, you have your details, now I want mine."
"We're on shore leave. Together. What do you think?"
"I think that you are crazy to still put up with DADT after five years."
"If I'm crazy so is your Adam."
"But Adam and me isn't five years, it's barely one. My brother Neil married twice in five years."
"Your brother Neil is a serial monogamist." Chuck pointed out.
"My sister married during the last five years and has a kid already." Riley continued. Chuck shuddered.
"Don't say too loud or else Atlantis is going to get ideas the next time she decides to drop by in my brain."
"She?" Riley asked incredulously.
"She." Chuck repeated: "Spend a bit more time on your Destiny and believe me sooner or later you will have nicknames for it and know the shuttles by their individual quirks."
"Somehow I hope we'll be home before that."
Five months later:
"Can't they at least give you the same body every time?"
"So, any news from the edge of the universe?"
"We had a hostile takeover by the Lucian Alliance. I was shot, a few people are dead and now we all have to learn how to live with each other because we're still stuck on the ship. Oh and TJ, our medic, gave birth to a little girl after she had been shot, too."
Chuck looked worried but he still asked:
"No life sucking space vampires?"
"No life sucking space vampires." Riley echoed with a tired smiled.
"And we have a nickname for the Control Interface Room the Apple Core. Adam hates it."
"Give him time." Chuck advised: "McKay hated the jumpers first, too."
"Did Dr. Weir and Colonel Sheppard ever hate each other?" Riley asked.
"A few times during the first year until they learned to trust each other."
"Great." Riley muttered.
18 months later:
"Seriously, you're going to go through every member of SGC at this rate."
"You have a dirty mind." Riley grinned.
"So do you." Chuck replied.
"I heard congratulations are in order."
"The representative of Canada in the independent , international City State of Atlantis thanks you very much." Chuck said with glee in his voice.
"How pissed was McKay that they picked you?"
"As much as Teyla's ex-boyfriend was when she announced her intention to marry Lorne."
"Yeah." Chuck sounded very, very happy with a side of gloatingly.
"How's your corner of the universe?"
"It's mildly disturbing when a toddler says 'lightyear' 'spaceship' and 'hyper-drive' before mum or dad."
"Torren's first word was 'recalibration'. I think that's normal for a kid growing up on a spaceship."
"I think Gene Roddenberry was an Ancient."
"Because we encountered tribbles."
"That still doesn't beat our Wraith."
"But if I ever find a Pokémon then that counts, space vampires or not."
"Only if you catch it with a ball." Chuck deadpanned.
36 months later:
"Couldn't you get married on Earth like normal people?" Riley asked a bit annoyed because it had been a right Odyssey to get from Destiny to Atlantis.
"I think we established that we aren't normal people." Chuck replied: "And it's not my fault that you're still on Destiny."
"We're calling her Daisy now."
"Yeah, and the shuttles are Gustav and Donald."
"I thought John's nicknames were awful."
"Isn't it a bad thing to mock your fiancé a few minutes before the wedding?"
"Nah, Atlantis promised me to all the doors if John gets cold feet. Don't tell him that," Chuck whispered conspiratorially: "But she likes me more than him."
"I always forget that your spaceship is talking to you." Riley said and adjusted Chuck's dress uniform.
72 months later:
"Welcome back on Earth." Chuck hugged Riley tightly and finally in his own body. Over Riley's shoulder he could see Adam Brody glaring at him. Riley laughed and hugged him back.
"It's weird to be back."
"If you miss space, we have a few vacant jobs on the Enterprise."
"I think I'll stay here for a while and work out how to shower with water and not with steam anymore." Riley grinned and let go of Chuck.
"Adam, this Chuck. He's one of my oldest friends." He introduced them.
"Dr. Adam Brody." They shook hands and Chuck said:
"I know. Hunter told me about you."
That seemed to surprise Brody because he looked questioning at Riley.
"We've been keeping in touch." Riley said.