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Air Force Ones

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Wallace joins the USMC right out of high school; it's stupid, partly because he isn't so much a soldier as he is a guy who needs money for school, but mostly because he catches shit from Veronica every day until he ships off for boot camp. That day, she pulls another surprise out of her bag of tricks and hugs him until he's breathless and his shirt is a little damp. He doesn't say anything about it and neither does she, but her eyes are bright when she steps back and something in Wallace's chest twists a little. "You're a marshmallow, Veronica Mars," he says, and okay, so maybe his eyes sting a little and maybe he hugs her back just as hard.

"Don't die," she says.

"You'd kick my ass if I did," he tells her and then she hugs him again, quick, fierce, and walks away. She doesn't look back.

Wallace makes it through basic okay and he's expecting Afghanistan or Iraq, someplace that'll give his mom nightmares, but instead he gets Antarctica by way of Colorado.

In Colorado he gets assigned to more training: a crash course in diplomacy, advanced field medicine, and and an endless round of psych evaluations. Then finally there's an old guy -- an Air Force general -- with his hands in his pockets talking to some big black guy in a knit cap (Wallace is sure that no one else notices how weird that is because most people haven't had two years of Veronica Mars honing their keen observational skills, but a knit cap in August is fucking strange, even for Colorado) before he turns around and addresses the room full of good little soldiers.

*

Hey V, starts the letter.

It stays there for a long, long time because all the things Wallace wants to say are classified and all the things he's allowed to say sound like a lie.

*

So it turns out that there is intelligent life on other planets and that there are these snake guys and little green men who are really gray and oh yeah, aliens that came to earth millions and millions of years ago and it turns out that Wallace has some mutant gene that comes from those guys and even though his paperwork says Antarctica, what it means is A Galaxy Far, Far Away.

He spends a little while with the SGC getting used to gate travel and aliens and all that. His mom sends him letters and pictures of everyone. Keith usually adds a little something to the end of his mom's letters, not a lot, but it still feels pretty good to know that there's a full on family waiting for him when he gets back. Veronica sends him a video. She's only on screen for a little bit, but Wallace knows her well enough to see her in every single second.

Going through the gate is actually pretty boring. Everything and everyone looks the same and, except for when they're trying to kill him because of whatever stupid reason, the missions are all the same. Exploring strange new worlds and new civilizations looks a lot more interesting on TV, even when it's a blind Kunta Kinte driving the starship Enterprise. Wallace has never been entirely sure how he feels about that. Because a) it's Kunta Kinte and b) why does the black man have to be the blind one? A ship full of crazy white people and two black guys and one of them is the alien and the other one is blind.

Wallace knows his science fiction and he really doesn't like the idea of being black in space. It feels like he's asking for trouble.

*

In his letter home, Wallace tells Veronica about getting leave in New York and going out with a couple of other guys assigned to the Atlantis expedition. They ended up in some trendy club getting up on some girls wearing a lot of makeup and not a whole lot else. Wallace is pretty sure that at some point, he was dancing with Britney Spears, but since he's more of a Beyonce type of guy, he can't really be sure.

She ran a hand down his arm and there was an offer in her eyes, but she was no Beyonce and God only knew who and what and where that girl had been.

Wallace can see Veronica rolling her eyes and there's a spot on his shoulder that aches like she's just punched it and called him a big liar. He hopes that the story -- totally true and it's the closest that Wallace has ever gotten to a real celebrity, even counting that asshole Aaron Echolls -- distracts Veronica enough that she won't look at the things he doesn't tell her. Stuff like where he's going and when he'll be back and what he'll be doing.

It's not near enough, but he promises to write her as soon as he's able and he hopes that will defuse the mystery enough to keep her from investigating.

*

They don't actually use the gate to get to Atlantis; it takes too much power and it's not worth the drain when they've got a perfectly good honest-to-God spaceship that will take them to a different galaxy. Wallace wanted a Nelly kind of life, all bling and hot naked women dancing up on him and each other. He'd settle for a Huxtable kind of life, except maybe without the sweaters, but he was still really unsure about the Black Guy In Space kind of life.

The fear stays with him until he actually gets to the city and sees some other guys still alive. Lt. Ford is okay, not that much older than him but he mostly hangs out with his team and doesn't have time for the new guys, but he's alive and that's really the most important thing. Sgt. Bates, also alive, is the boss of Wallace and he's all right. They talk about the Lakers a lot and it's Bates' idea to get the teams together for some games of pick up. Ford ends up being pretty good, but Bates is better. Sheppard's terrible and he gives it up after a while, watching from the sidelines while Wallace and Bates kick Ford and Teyla's ass. She's competitive and hardcore, but what Wallace lacks in alien warrior type fitness, he makes up for by being sneaky and really good at basketball.

Wallace is his team's Ancient DNA guy: mostly that means he flies the ship and turns things on when he gets asked. Bates is a hardass, but he's fair and there's basketball talk to tide them over during the long treks through alien pine forests (boring) and alien temples (also boring) and alien farming co-ops (so boring). Dr. Zelenka is the other part of their team and he spends most of his time talking to himself in what Wallace learns is Czech and poking at his computer. Sometimes Bates has to grab the back of Dr. Z's jacket and keep him from wandering off. Bates shakes him a little, gentle, like waking him up, and Dr. Z blinks up at him.

"Sorry, sorry," says Dr. Z. "There is maybe an energy source there," he points, "or else it is a mysterious artifact that will kill us all horribly."

"You are seriously weird," says Wallace. But he hefts his P-90 and follows Bates and Dr. Z over to the energy source/potentially deadly alien artifact. It doesn't turn out to be either, just a big rock in the middle of an empty field.

"Huh," says Dr. Z.

"I don't think we can fit that in the jumper," says Wallace. It's a really big rock.

Bates pokes at it carefully. It doesn't do anything, what with being a rock and all. They climb all over the thing, taking readings and Dr. Z makes Wallace put his hand against it and think it on. The readings stay weird, the rock stays a rock, and finally they settle for taking a sample back for testing. Bates is already pulling out his knife when Dr. Z holds out his hand. It takes him a couple minutes, but finally they have enough of the rock to be worth a damn and they head on back.

Later, they find out that the harmless rock is not actually a rock but is some kind of silicon-based life form (Bates looks kind of like he wants to cry when he hears that) that's really pissed off about getting cut up for science. Weir tries to talk to it, but it's a rock and Wallace wishes they had a matter trans-something-or-other that will dump the rock monster into space and get them off the hook.

Instead they kind of throw the samples back through the gate and hope for the best. It seems like a really sketchy way to solve the problem but it seems to work and Weir puts M4G-118 on the Do Not Disturb list and that's that.

*

Hey, V, says the letter.

Today I saved the world from an evil alien rock.

Wish you were here.

Love,
Wallace.