Always Comes Back to Haunt Us

Dragonlots aka Dana Bell

Chapter 23

Benton Quest slowly climbed the stairs, his attention distracted by the control room below. He smiled as he watched Dr. McKay trying to work on his laptop while a small black cat darted around his feet. Every time he tried to catch it, the clever feline eluded him and then continued to taunt him to the point Benton wondered how his fellow scientist was managing to get anything done.

"Stop that," McKay groused, even as a grin lit up his face. Reminded Benton of Marari when she played with Prim or Bandit.

At the top, he again looked over the control room, wondering when or if, they'd use the Stargate. He understood the principal on how it worked and couldn't wait to see it for himself, maybe take a trip through the wormhole to another planet. Once they had settled their future. A fate still hanging in the balance.

He entered Colonel Sheppard's office, and stopped, discovering General O'Neill sat in the chair, punching at the laptop as if were an enemy rather than a tool.

"Sorry," Benton apologized, wondering how he could escape diplomatically. "I was looking for Colonel Sheppard."

The general glanced up at him, his annoyance reflected on his aging face. "Know why I woke you up?"

Surprised at the general's words, the scientist shook his head. "I have no idea." He braced for a verbal attack.

"Because every specialist, scientist and consultant who has either worked with you in person or on some kind of call, tell me you're brilliant and help solve problems." He sat back in his chair, his hands resting on the wooden desk. "Now I find out you're the center of some damn bidding war between the planetary governors and IPX."

"I had no idea. Should I be concerned?" He crossed his arms over his chest, glad he wore a sweater. Atlantis tended to be a bit chilly.

"I don't think you have any idea how valuable they all think you are."

"I did in our time. What possible use could I be here? They are years ahead of what I had been working on."

O'Neill shrugged. "Maybe." He glanced at the laptop. "Riley just me an email with an attachment." He tapped a key and scowled. "If I could figure out how to read it."

Taking a deep breath, Dr. Quest offered, "Let me do that."

"Be my guest." The laptop got pushed in his direction.

Quickly he found the file and opened it. He scanned the contents, gasping at what the computer expert had discovered. "I don't believe it."

"Let me see." The general grabbed device and took a quick look, giving Benton an odd look. "They're giving up on the city and going after you specifically."

"That's nonsense."

He heard someone hurrying up the stairs. Marari appeared, glancing from him to the general. "Don't tell me you two are at it again."

"At what?" O'Neill snapped.

She glared at him. "I have no idea what happened between you two, but if you don't work it out, so help me,"

"Dr. Quest is responsible for the loss of your husband's team."

Marari blinked, staring at the general. "What are you talking about?"

Benton covered his eyes, remembering the odd request he'd received, which I-1 had reluctantly forwarded. Their instructions had been to ignore it and finish the priority project they'd assigned to him. That her husband could have been killed, becauseā€¦He felt ill. "I had no idea."

"You never replied."

"I-1 told me not to!" His anger bubbled to the surface. "There's no way I could have possibly known!"

Marari took a step back, her eyes wide, her face pale. "Is that true?"

He had no idea if she asked him or the general.

"You know the nature of the SGC, Marari," O'Neill said, even as the pain of what happened reflected in his voice. "We tried to get the team the best support." He threw Benton an angry look. "We just failed."

"If I had been given the correct information, you wouldn't have." His fist came down hard on the wooden top and Marari started. He hated the look of fear on her face. "I-1 wouldn't allow it. You want to get angry at someone, blame them."

"Little hard to do now!" O'Neill shouted back, getting to his feet.

"Oh, God," Marari breathed. She whirled, her blue skirt making her movement seem like a dance. She ran as fast as she could down the stairs.

Not hesitating, Benton spared a furious glare at the general, before hurrying after her. He saw her almost trip on the last stair before dashing down a corridor he knew lead to the labs. Her passage caused Dr. McKay to glance up, a concerned look on his face.

"Don't ask," Benton said, as he rushed after his future wife, hoping the conversation she'd overheard hadn't destroyed any future they had together.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

"We're here," Julian informed Barnabas as he joined his old friend on the bridge. Several Kindred worked at their posts, even as the planet below, with two warships sitting in orbit, grew closer.

"Reports call this planet New Caprica," Barnabas shared.

"And the ships?" Luna's expression let Barnabas know the Prince wasn't worried, simply curious.

"They're called Battlestars. Surprising they survived, given the distance they must have traveled."

"Prince," one of the crew asked. "Do we make contact?"

"You brought us here, Senator. What do we do?"

He considered, weighing the risks and dangers. His reasons for coming were personal, not to mention the fate of Atlantis could hinge of the proposition he had decided to make. "We make contact."

"You heard him." Luna spoke quietly to him. "I hope you know what you're doing, old friend."

"You've lived long enough to know that risks don't always work out."

"Just don't cost me my ship."

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

After checking the labs, Benton moved past them, down the darkened corridor until he reached a room with an open door. Large windows from floor to ceiling looked out over the spires, reflecting back the beauty of the once powerful city.

The room sat empty, except for a shape huddled on the floor. He bit his lip, almost afraid of how Marari would react to him. Moving slowly, he lowered himself beside her, wanting to hold her and not sure if he should. He could hear her sobbing and it broke his heart.

"He didn't tell me," she cried, burying her face in hands. "Benton, he didn't tell me."

He felt completely helpless, guilt about not being able to save the men from the situation they'd been trapped in, and the complete lack of facts that might have led to their rescue. Benton felt guilty at the same time as he'd fallen in love with her husband's widow. "What can I do," he choked out.

"Hold me," she begged.

Not knowing what else to do, he pulled Marari into his arms, her head against his shoulder, her body shaking as she gave vent to emotions he understood well. He'd felt the same way after Rachelle had died, the images of her fiery death flashing into his mind.

The woman in he held had helped him move past his grief and into a life he hoped he could still share with Marari. If he lost her, he knew there would be stronger words exchanged with General with a very dark outcome. No one hurt a member of his family.