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Messy by Nature

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Atlantis was new, and strange, and just when Steve thought he was getting the hang of twenty-first century America, someone somewhere apparently had decided that what he really needed to get the hang of was another galaxy - although at least it was still the twenty-first century, for all the good that would do him.

Doctor McKay was nothing at all like Tony, which made sense, even if Steve realized he'd still sort of expected him to be. He was both easier and harder to get along with - easier, because McKay didn't drink or gamble or wander off to have 'fun'; harder because Steve really didn't know what kind of authority he had here, if any. Also: the man was Canadian. Steve didn't quite see how or why this would be a Thing, but it was made very clear to him by both McKay and others that it was, so Steve tried to look like he understood and made a mental note to maybe ask Tony about it when he could.

And then, of course, there was Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard or, as Fury had described him, 'the guy with the messy hair'.


The thing about the hair was: it was messy. Steve wasn't some sort of neat freak, but Sheppard's hair was the kind of messy that would make anyone want to reach out and un-messy it.

Or possibly mess it up a bit more, just to see if that was possible, but Steve didn't think that was an at all appropriate thing to think about one's commanding officer, so he didn't. Think about it. At all.


They'd briefed Steve about the Wraith very briefly (no pun intended), mostly because the files were the wrong kind of classified for SHIELD, which normally wouldn't have been a problem - Tony could've gotten at any file no matter how classified, so long as it was on a computer somewhere that was hooked up to the internet, but Fury had judged the risk of an incident to spoil the mission too high.

Steve didn't think any briefing could have properly prepared him for the real thing. It wasn't even so much that they were terrifying (although they were), or that you sometimes fought them using spaceships (although that was new, too); it was mostly that there were so many of them. Millions.

"Well, they need to eat, see?" McKay explained, when Steve asked him about any live-and-let-live options they might pursue. "And we're dinner."

Not evil for evil's sake, then, Steve concluded. It made him feel a bit better, even if it also made it harder to think of a solution.

"Until they're all dead," was what Sheppard said when Steve asked him about how long they were going to be fighting this war.

They'd said that about the Germans, too, probably, but the Germans had been human. And while some Germans had done horrible, terrible things, Steve'd always known that there were also Germans who were like him. Like Doctor Erskine.


Five months and six days later, Steve still hadn't come any closer to seeing a way for the war to end. McKay was still more interested in studying his databases than he was in studying Steve, which was just fine by Steve, really; he hadn't particularly liked the idea of becoming a lab rat sixty-plus years ago, and he didn't like it any better now.

Sheppard's hair was still messy, and nobody seemed to be doing anything about it, which seemed odd, given that Steve had noticed a lot of people looking. Sheppard wasn't shy or stand-offish or anything, either; Steve was pretty sure he'd been flirted with at least five times, if not more, but he hadn't wanted to assume ... Well.


Given the hair, Steve had expected the slightly messy room. It looked a bit like Steve's room, actually, but where Steve had made his room messy because Tony had made him promise he would ('it's about blending in, all right?'), Steve suspected Sheppard's messiness was entirely unplanned.

Sheppard's uniform came off about as easily as he'd expected - which was to say it took some doing, but that was fine, really; all part of the package, so to speak. It wasn't quite a uniform as Steve'd seen them in the war, or during SHIELD operations, but it was definitely military issue, sturdy and practical and not something Steve'd ever be wearing himself.

"Not the dog tags," Sheppard said when Steve reached for them - to touch them, really; the thought of taking them off hadn't even occured to him.

They were warm to the touch, as they ought to be, with Sheppard having worn them under his clothes all this time.


After, Sheppard said that maybe they should get Steve some dog tags of his own, seeing as how he seemed to like the things so much.

Steve said that maybe that would be good.