“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.
Another short chapter. I know these aren't as long as the chapters for "Interrupted", but this is still just a tiny, happy detour.
Two days to get to New Athos. That wasn’t too bad, though of course getting there via Stargate took next to no time at all. Really, it was high time they found another ZPM for the Daedalus. Journeying between the galaxies would go a lot smoother then, and they might have another base in Pegasus a lot faster. If the IOA did decide to do that at all, which Chuck still doubted. The purpose of the expedition had been to find and acquire new technology and with Atlantis lost to them, Pegasus couldn’t really matter to those power hungry politicians, could it? Not even with the whole mess the Tau’ri had created here.
Fisherman was sitting opposite him, stirring the third spoon of sugar into his coffee as they sat in the small cafeteria. His eyes were fixed on the blue and green orb below, where his team was right now. Colonel Caldwell had ordered the ship to stop by here for a short check-in, just to make sure that the team and the Athosians had all they needed. It’d be six week at least before the Daedalus would be back here to check up on them again.
“They’re gonna be okay,” Chuck said, trying to reassure him.
“Yeah,” Fisherman said quietly, taking a sip of coffee, pulling a face and adding another spoonful of sugar. Murdoch had been up here to talk to him briefly, but had of course refused to let Fisherman stay on the planet. Really, that shouldn’t have come as a surprise. By now Chuck knew that the man he was sharing a bunk with, didn’t just have a broken leg, but also a bullet wound in his right shoulder. Chuck had seen the bandage and knew how much Fisherman tried to lie still while also trying to find a comfortable sleeping position. There just weren’t a whole lot of things you missed when you had to share such a small space for a couple of days. “I just feel a bite useless, you know?”
Snorting, Chuck put down his sandwich and shrugged. “Yes, I do.”
Raising his eyebrow, Fisherman leaned back, careful not to show how badly the wound hurt him. “Have you ever even been off-world?”
Chuck had to admit, he hadn’t expected this to sting as much as it did. “Just for the past two-and a half years,” he said pettily. He wasn’t a member of any of the Gate teams, but that didn’t mean the work he did was entirely inconsequential.
“Yeah, sorry.” Fisherman rubbed his long straight nose. “Just a bit testy right now, you know?”
“Have you even been to see Doctor Keller? Have her give you some pain killers?”
With a shrug, Fisherman took a gulp of coffee. “I can manage.” He was desperate to leave, Chuck could see that, but it was also obvious that Fisherman wouldn’t be able to do that quickly, and so, instead, Fisherman would keep sitting here, staring out of the window, until Chuck left. And Chuck was on his break, and he’d be damned if he’d let Fisherman drive him back to work early. They still had almost three weeks to go on this ship, and Chuck had no interest in spending more time on useless check-ups than was strictly necessary.
“Major Marks said something about a movie night,” Fisherman said suddenly without meeting Chuck’s gaze. Fisherman wasn’t all that talkative, Chuck had realized, and usually Chuck didn’t mind that, but being cooped up with someone you didn’t really know a whole lot about wasn’t too much fun. That was why this casual mention of a movie night took Chuck by surprise. Fisherman had rarely attended those on Atlantis.
“What’re they showing?” Chuck asked, glancing at his watch. Ten more minutes until he had to be back at his station with Hermiod.
Fisherman didn’t meet his gaze but looked down into his mug. “Does it matter?” Clearing his throat, Fisherman shrugged awkwardly with one shoulder and looked up again. In this light and from this angle, his eyes looked grey. Well, that was a weird thing to notice, Chuck thought.
“No? I guess?” And why wasn’t Fisherman blinking anymore? The smile on the other man’s face was genuine, when Chuck nodded. “Okay, then. Meet you there after my shift?”
“You got it, Livingston.”
Only when Chuck was heading for the elevator to head down to engineering, did Chuck realize that grumpy Fisherman hadn’t called him Chuck, and somehow that thought made him grin.
A science fiction movie. A bad one at that.
It was the best choice anybody could possibly have made. Chuck’s sides hurt by the time it was over and the residual laughter still hanging in the air as the credits rolled by and his face muscles were aching from grinning. There hadn’t been any alcohol involved, and there really didn’t have to be. Not with a crew which had spent the better part of the last few years in space or on different planets, in spaceships of different sizes and encountering alien species nobody would have thought possible.
“Chuck, you guys want to join us for a snack in the cafeteria?” Madison, one of the other technicians from Atlantis turned around in her chair, her eyes darting between Chuck and Fisherman.
“I’m beat, to be honest.” Fisherman shook his head and reached for his crutches. “I’ll let you get to it.”
“Alright. Take care.” Chuck popped the last of the popcorn into his mouth, as Fisherman got to his feet without too much difficulty, but he didn’t start making his way to the door straight away. There were still a couple of people in the room, but nobody was paying him any real attention.
“Uh,” Fisherman said, looking down at Chuck and it seemed as though he had a billion things to say. About the movie? It hadn’t been that insightful. The green eyes lingered on him for a whole minute and Chuck found his gaze shifting to the small smudge of chocolate on Fisherman’s lower lip. “Thanks for coming along, Livingston.”
“Sure. Thanks for asking me.” Chuck said, wiping his hands on his trousers.
Fisherman just hesitated for one more second, before smiling softly and turning towards the door and Chuck couldn’t help but wonder, just for an instant, whether he should accompany him and make sure he got to their quarters okay. But these corridors were manageable for Fisherman, even on his crutches, so he really shouldn’t be too worried.
When he turned to face Madison again, he found her staring at him, her eyes wide. “Is he okay?” she asked, making Chuck frown.
“Apart from the broken bone and the bullet wound?” Chuck grinned as he got to his feet as well. “Sure.”
Madison grunted softly and shrugged. “Okay. How is he anyway? He’s a bit quiet. Hasn’t been talking much since he got on board.”
“How would I know?” Chuck asked. “What about those snacks? Do they still have Turkey Sandwiches?”
“They better.” Madison shrugged into her jacket, as Marks started packing up the projector. “Do you need help with that?”
“No, I’ll be with you in a minute, go ahead!” Marks said, shooing them away.
“About Fisherman-” Chuck said, as he and Madison walked through the door, heading towards the cafeteria.
“So you do want to talk about him?”
“I-“ Chuck sighed, biting his lip, “I just think he’s a bit frustrated that he couldn’t stay with his team and about the expedition ending. Anyone would be upset about that.”
“Sure, that must be it,” Madison murmured as Chuck stood dead in his tracks.
“Come on, Chuck, you haven’t gone out with anyone since that one date with Doctor Parrish a few years ago”
“How do you even know about that?”
Madison raised her eyebrow.
“Everybody knows, Chuck. And everybody knows it was a disaster.”
“How-“ Chuck swallowed hard, shoved his hands into his pockets and picked up speed. “I’m not talking about it.”
“Parrish told Grodin, though,” Madison argued, her grin making Chuck feel even more uncomfortable.
“What do you even want from me?”
“Just a bit of gossip.” With a shrug, she turned right into the cafeteria while Chuck lingered in the doorway. He really didn’t feel like a snack now, but if he left and headed for their quarters, Madison would surely start gossiping.
Cursing silently, Chuck followed her. These long journeys were mostly annoying because people got bored. Really, it was no small wonder pirates in movies threw a mutiny every couple of weeks.