“Sergeant, hold the door!”
Chuck thrust out his hand without looking up once from his book, his hand stopping the elevator door from closing. He heard a soft limping footstep and stood to the side.
“Thanks.” The man cleared his voice. “Good book?”
“Huh?” Chuck raised his gaze. “Fisherman? Aren’t you staying here with your team?”
The green eyes darted down and Chuck followed his gaze. The cast. Of course, Chuck had forgotten about that. Fisherman had been wounded in a firefight only the day before, so of course he wouldn’t be staying in the Pegasus galaxy.
Fisherman grunted. “It’s alright,” he said. “My team’s gonna be okay without me, plus they also have a couple of Marines and Captain Murdoch of course.” Was there a trace of mockery in his voice? Chuck couldn’t tell, but he nodded absentmindedly and pushed the button.
“Living quarters?” he asked, his index hovering over the panel on the right.
“Yep…” Fisherman sighed and leaned heavily on his crutch. His light brown hair seemed almost dark in this light, Chuck realized. Not that he’d paid too much attention on the Lieutenant. “We’ve been assigned to the same bunk, didn’t you know? Just glad Doctor Keller’s not pushing me to stay in the infirmary.”
No, Chuck hadn’t heard about sharing a bunk, but he supposed it made sense. A lot of people still had to get home, and all the technicians would be going on the Daedalus. Though why Fisherman was going on the ship as well, instead of stepping through the Stargate with most of the other personnel, Chuck couldn’t say. “How bad is it?”
“It’s gonna take a couple of weeks, I guess. Bone was fractured when I fell. Stupid, really.” He managed a smile and shrugged. The firefight had been part of an attempted rescue mission. Three days ago, several geologists had been captured and dragged away. Nobody knew how they’d been taken or where to, and Lorne’s team and Murdoch’s team had spent the better part of these past few days trying to get them back. And then Lorne had been called back to Earth early, because his wife was in trouble. Murdoch and his team would be staying with the Athosians on New Athos… well, apparently not all of Murdoch’s team.
Fisherman stared at the now closed door, his jaw set firmly. He was still relatively new to the Atlantis expedition, and younger than most of his team, so being left to go back to Earth must feel pretty damn frustrating. “Any news of Doctor Lorne?” Chuck asked. Since the Ancients had returned, forcing the expedition out of the city, he hadn’t sat at one of the control panels, but Fisherman was part of Doctor Lorne’s former team, so if anybody knew, it must be him.
“No,” Fisherman grumbled. “But I hope she’s okay. She’s alright, you know?”
Chuck nodded the elevator doors opened again on the level where the living quarters were located. To be fair, he wasn’t looking forward to spending three weeks in this can, and Fisherman couldn’t be happy about the prospect either. “I’m kind of surprised you’re going back via Daedalus,” he said, waiting for Fisherman to leave the elevator before him. The other man hobbled a bit, apparently still not used to walking on crutches. Well, it had only been a couple of days.
“I’m an engineer, you know? And I was almost stuck on the Daedalus for good, before a friend dropped out of the expedition and I got his spot on Atlantis itself.” He shrugged awkwardly and they made their way down the corridor. Their belongings must have already been taken there by some poor low-ranking airman. “Also, I kind of missed the dial-out to Earth.”
“How come?” Keller and her team of doctors must have left with the others about two hours ago. Reaching the narrow door leading to their quarters, Chuck hit the button, which released the mechanism sealing the door and they could enter their home for the next three weeks. A bunk bed, as expected, a narrow desk against one wall and a window. That was something.
He dropped his book on the top bunk. Fisherman, with his injured leg, couldn’t possibly sleep there. “Is that okay?”
The Lieutenant nodded and sat down, stretching out his leg. “Why aren’t you back home already, Sir?”
Sir. Chuck wasn’t used to being called that. Not since his transfer to Pegasus and not since he’d essentially taken over the job as a doorman for the Atlantis expedition. Of course his job entailed a whole lot more than just being doorman, but that didn’t stop him feeling like one most days. Especially since most people just called him Chuck, almost always forgetting his last name. Not that Livingston was a particularly hard name to remember, but apparently people were more comfortable just calling him by his first name. He wondered if his counterpart at the SGC, Sergeant Harriman, ever had to deal with that sort of behaviour, but then again, the SGC was a completely different place from Atlantis. “Because I’m a technician and Colonel Caldwell wanted to have me onboard. In case something went wrong. I don’t know why it should, though. This ship is a masterpiece of engineering.”
Drawing up the chair from the desk, Chuck sat down and looked out the window. The Daedalus had set down on the South Pier, and from their window Chuck could only make out the edges of the South East Pier and the few buildings there. “I’m gonna miss this place,” he admitted. Two and a half years was a long time to spend in one place, and he loved the working conditions here. Never before had he worked in an environment such as this. Well, of course he hadn’t. Next to nobody on the expedition had, maybe except some of the old SGC members.
“Yeah,” Fisherman sighed. “And who knows where we’re going to end up next. At least the American fellows know they’re still gonna be involved in Gate travel.”
With a scoff, Chuck leaned back. “Well, I guess we’ll see what happens next. Maybe they’ll continue this international experiment on Alpha and Beta sites in the Milky Way?” He eyed Fisherman. The other man didn’t seem entirely at ease, and when the ship came to life, the engines firing up to take them away from Atlantis, he turned to look out of the window as well.
“To be honest, I always thought I’d never get home. And I wasn’t too sorry about that.”
Well, that was certainly unexpected. “No family back home? No girlfriend?”
A slight smirk started spreading on Fisherman’s face, his white teeth flashing almost roguishly in the dimmed light as the Daedalus left the East Pier. “Adopted family, and they’re not too fond of me to be honest.”
Chuck pretended not to have noticed that Fisherman hadn’t said anything about a girlfriend. Instead he just kept sitting there, staring out of the window and watching the city below them drift away. He felt a pang of regret at not having seen it full from above one last time.