Title- A Moment in Time
Category- AU, S/W romance, action.
Archiving- Would be an honor, just ask.
Warnings- Violence/consensual sex
Disclaimers- I don't own this, no money, yadda yadda.
Summary: An unexpected arrival brings new hope to Atlantis
Chapter 1 - "Sorry, wrong number."
"You're kidding right? I mean, please tell me you're kidding!" McKay stared into the suspiciously unresponsive back of his team leader for a long moment before tossing his hands up with the best long suffering grimace he could muster. "If you're not kidding I might have to seriously reconsider this friendship!"
Sheppard just fired his trademark smirk over a shoulder before returning his concentration to the task at hand. "Just when did I say we were friends McKay?"
"Oh, ha ha." Rodney knew that at this point John was just trying to get a rise out of him, but he'd be damned if it wasn't working. "It was a Zed-PM Sheppard! Where is it really going to do more good, here on Atlantis powering our shields or providing the native Ularins with an admittedly psychedelic laser light show?"
John was quiet for another few seconds before lining the club up and stepping into his swing. The ball immediately cut hard right and the Colonel exhaled sharply through clenched teeth, mumbling something about pushy scientists and their effect on his back swing. "It's not just a 'psychedelic laser light show' McKay, their entire religion is based on that shrine."
"Yes," Rodneys eye roll was so dramatic that he was pretty sure Sheppard could see it without turning around, "But it wasn't built by God, it was built by the Ancients!"
Finally deciding he wasn't going to be able to get any actual relaxing done until Rodney was mollified, John returned his driver to it's customary place in his bag and faced the scientist. "I don't care if it was built by the Kebler Elves, that doesn't give us the right to take it! Just drop it McKay!"
Smirking slightly, Rodney took comfort in the fact he at least managed to get the Colonel to address him face to face, he wanted to see the other man's expression when he fired his next salvo. "Yeah, and I'm sure this decision has absolutely nothing to do with the Ularin Priestess who so graciously offered to share her quarters with you during the visit."
"It...," John's eyebrows did that odd twitching dance that always accompanied his 'oh crap' moments, "Well... that's beside the point! There's right and wrong Rodney, and stealing falls squarely into the 'wrong' category."
"Ah, I see." The scientist tilted his head slightly to one side, "And if she'd been Genii, or Wraith for that matter?"
John visibly shivered for a moment before placing a placating hand on his friend's shoulder. "If she was Wraith, what we were doing in her quarters would have been decidedly more... icky. Besides, Elizabeth agrees with me, so if you're going to bother someone about it..."
"Right." Realizing he'd lost the argument, Rodney figured he could at least land a few parting shots before leaving the Colonel to enjoy his weekend off. "You know, Kirk would have nailed the alien priestess and brought home the Zed-PM."
Sheppard snorted as he reached over to pluck his wedge from his bag, "Well, maybe I'm just slipping in my old a-."
Both mens' eyes widened as the entire city shook violently, sending them sprawling in separate directions before bouncing off the walls and landing face to face on the deck. A long moment passed as they tried to decide if the ground was done trying to beat the snot out of them when John finally broke the silence, "We under attack?"
"I don't think so," Rodney ventured as he slowly raised himself onto his hands and, apparently from the pain he was experiencing, some rather extensively bruised knees. "Felt like it was internal and I didn't hear an explosion."
John was already hauling him to his feet by the large hand clamped around his upper arm, moving seamlessly into a quick trot down the hallway with the scientist in tow. "Well, whatever it was I get the feeling they'll need you."
"Heh, what else is new?" Rodney's snark was dampened slightly by his inability to keep pace with the rather frantic looking man in front of him. They were only a few steps short of the transporter when a low electric hum seemed to echo off the walls and the hallway was plunged into complete darkness. Sheppard came to an immediate halt, causing McKay to bounce off his back like a pinball. "Ouch! I'm not going to do anyone any good with a concussion!"
John just let out a long sigh, turning around and offering a hand to help his friend off the deck for the second time in five minutes. Even in the darkness Rodney caught the slump of the soldier's shoulders and the look of annoyance accompanying it. "Did I miss something? What's wrong with you?"
Yanking the smaller man up to his feet, Sheppard shrugged. "I'm cursed McKay! Every freaking time I go on vacation the city falls apart! Six months since I've had a day off and the first hour of my much-deserved weekend we're trapped on the outer edge of Atlantis without power. Now it's just a brisk twenty-five minute sprint to the control room before we can even start trying to save the day! In fact, there's only one thing that could make this scenario any more unappealing.."
McKay could feel his own shoulders slump as the full weight of the situation was brought to bare, if there was an upside, he decided he wanted to hear it. "Yeah, what's that?"
"Well, I could be making this run in your body." John's earlier smirk was back full force, his short rant apparently enough to recharge his batteries. "Now come on, unless you want Zelenka to figure it out before we get there."
Rodney did his level best to burn a hole into the back of his commander's head with nothing but the heat of his glare, but a few minutes down the corridor he decided his energy would be better spent trying not to pass out.
Elizabeth had no idea how long she'd been staring at the same paragraph of a botanical report from a planetary designation she was far too tired to remember right now, but she shuddered to think of the glazed zombie-like facade she was probably presenting to anyone who glanced into her office. Her third cup of coffee had grown cold nearly an hour ago but she just couldn't find it within herself to actually stand up and walk the distance required to refill it. She'd been up until 0500 Atlantis Standard debriefing Major Lorne's team after a rather dicey run-in with a rebel Genii faction that had left two of his team in the infirmary with serious though non life threatening injuries. After eight hours of catching up on paperwork, she was starting to rethink her earlier assumption that no sleep was better than only having an hour before getting back up.
A soft knock startled Dr. Weir more than she cared to admit, her tablet clattering to the desk and her head shooting up, causing a few stray hairs to drop right in front of her eyes. After blowing the offending locks out of her line of sight with a strategically placed gust of breath, she plastered on a diplomatic, if exhausted smile. "Teyla, please come in." The other woman returned her smile before approaching the desk, but when she didn't speak Elizabeth decided to start things off.
"I thought you were using your time off to visit your people? Not that we don't love your company."
Teyla's smile widened and she nodded slightly to show she took no offense, "Indeed I had. However, my customary pilot is 'working on his backswing' and while Dr. Beckett was kind enough to volunteer, I was hoping you might know of someone more..."
Elizabeth laughed softly at the look racing across the Athosian's face, "More capable? Less likely to fall out of the sky?"
"Yes." Teyla's response is half word, half relieved exhalation. "Not that the doctor isn't a fine.."
Dr. Weir cut off the younger woman's unnecessary apologies with a wave of her hand. "Teyla, it's fine. Carson is the first to admit he's no John Sheppard. I'm sure we can find someone to pilot your jumper. When were you planning on departing?"
"Thank you Doctor Weir." Teyla motioned over her shoulder to a heavily laden Ronon Dex standing silently just outside her office. "We are prepared to leave whenever it is convenient."
Just as Elizabeth retrieved her tablet to check on crew rotations, the shrill scream of a warning klaxon cut through command like a knife accompanied by the sound of the stargate engaging. "Unauthorized off-world activation!"
Dr. Weir was on her feet in a second, all signs of her earlier exhaustion erased as she joined Teyla and Ronan on the catwalk. Catching Chuck's attention with a raised hand, Elizabeth dragged a well manicured thumb across her throat and a few seconds later the alarm cuts off. "Report!"
"Ma'am, as you know we don't currently have any teams off world." Chuck frowns deeply before quickly consulting the technician next to him, whatever she was saying only caused him to look more confused. Shifting his attention back to his own screen, the man's expression shifted to one of pure terror as the readout scrolled before him. "Everyone better hold onto something!"
Rare was the day Elizabeth Weir attributed anything to providence. What most called providence was simply the result of careful planning and a talented team of dedicated professionals - but if Chuck hadn't picked that exact moment to warn them, all three people standing atop the catwalk would have suffered a severe, if not deadly, fall. As it was, Teyla, Ronon, and Elizabeth had all managed to get a death grip on the railing just before all hell broke loose.
The moment the stargate's event horizon had whooshed into existence a massive shock wave blasted outwards into the control room. The Marines who had rushed into the gate room when the alarm had activated were the first to be effected, tossed back and into the air like children's toys in a hurricane. A fraction of a second later it seemed that every console in the room exploded simultaneously, sparks, shrapnel, and viscous smoke only adding to the horrific tableau. Violet lightning danced across the deck plating in the gate room, tendrils curling outward before arcing back and wrapping themselves around the gate's ring itself. The shaking continued for a few long moments before being replaced by a steadily building electric hum.
"Is everyone alright?" Elizabeth angled a grateful smile to Ronon as he leveraged her back to her feet. Below her, command was in chaos as those who had avoided injury were either trying to help their less fortunate comrades or to put out one of the many fires the shock wave had ignited. A quick inspection showed at least four technicians were seriously hurt, and most of the Marines were either lying unconscious or writhing in pain on the gate room's deck. Activating the radio pickup in her ear, Weir flinched as her shoulder popped and protested the motion loudly. "Weir to Doctor Beckett. Carson we have a medical emergency in command, at least half a dozen seriously injured, so we need everyone you can spare."
Static was cutting across the line, but after a few moments Carson's voice finally registered over the comm., "Aye Dr. Weir. Major Lorne's men were tossed clear of their beds by the blast, we'll be down there just as soon as we can stabilize 'em."
"Acknowledged, Weir out." Elizabeth had already descended the stairs and was making her way through command when she spotted Chuck sitting on the floor, back propped against a still-smoking console and a hand clamped over an angry wound on his forehead. Kneeling next to the man she shrugged out of her jacket, gently pulling his hand away from his face and placing the folded cloth against the deep gash. "Can you keep pressure on that?"
"Yes ma'am. Thank you." Chuck offered a week smile as he replaced his hand over her jacket. "I'm sorry, once I realized what was happening it was too late to disengage the gate."
Elizabeth nodded slowly, catching sight of Teyla and Ronon from the corner of her eye, she nodded and they hurried to help the wounded. "It's alright Chuck, it wasn't your fault. Can you tell me what happened?"
"I should have known something was wrong when the connection started initializing. An incoming wormhole shouldn't have been drawing any power, let alone that much at once." The technician grimaced as the console next to him fired off another stream of iridescent sparks. "It was drawing power from all over the city, completely drained our reserves. The blast was some kind of massive displacement wave, but if you ask me the explosion was a simple electrical overload. Those circuits just weren't designed to handle that kind of current ma'am."
"We're just lucky that all our teams are currently on Atlantis, because it'll be at least a month before we can get this straightened out and frankly," The injured man motioned over his shoulder to the still electrically charged gate behind them, "I don't think it's over yet."
"Help me out here Chuck," Elizabeth nodded to the smoking console, "I thought you said all the circuits blew out? How is the gate still drawing power?"
"Maybe it only needed that much power to establish the connection." The technician shrugged his shoulders and Weir didn't miss the grimace caused by the movement. "Ma'am, for all we know it could be drawing power from the other side."
"Can we raise the shield?" At Chuck's negative, Weir glanced to the gate room, catching sight of Captain Ramero who had managed to at least get to his feet. "Captain, I need you and anyone still capable of holding a weapon on that gate. We can't raise the shield and we have no idea what might be coming through."
Turning back, the increasingly ashen pallor of the man bleeding out in front of her caused a flash of guilt to run straight to Elizabeth's stomach. Unfortunately, until Rodney or Zelenka arrived he was the only one who could answer her questions. "I need you to stay with me Chuck. Do you think it was an attack?"
Chuck shook his head slightly, "I don't believe so ma'am. Granted, if they were trying to disable us they did a pretty effective job, but I would imagine whoever's on the other side took just as much of a beating as we did. I'm not exaggerating the amount of power that's at play here. Besides, I'm no tactician, but if this was the prelude to an attack wouldn't they have come through the second we were hit?"
"I hope you're right." Weir placed a comforting hand on the man's shoulder before rising to her feet, "Stay put, help is on the way."
"Thank you ma'am," Chuck smiled drowsily, "And sorry about your coat."
"Think nothing of it." Elizabeth felt a wave of relief wash over her as Doctor Beckett came barreling through the door pulling a gurney stacked high with medical supplies behind him. A small army of medical staff fanned out to triage the wounded and begin treating the worst cases immediately. "Carson, it's good to see you, what can you report?"
Beckett shot her a tight smile as he crouched down to examine the burns on Technician Wilson's face and neck. "Not a good day Dr. Weir. I've got reports of injuries coming in from all over Atlantis." He paused momentarily to flash a pen-light into the dazed tech's eyes before continuing, "Most are relatively minor, falls and such from the blackout."
"The blackout?" Elizabeth arched an eyebrow in surprise.
"Aye, most of the city is apparently without power." Pulling a syringe from the pocket of his jacket, Carson quickly and efficiently found a vein in the curve of the young woman's arm. "You'll be just fine lass, the burns aren't that extensive. Let us give you somethin' for the pain and I'll bandage you up when things slow down a bit, alright?"
At Wilson's nod he ran an alcohol swab over her inner elbow and administered the shot. "That's a good lass, just relax and we'll have you fixed up before ya can blink."
Carson ran a practiced eye over the room, comfortable that everyone who needed attention was receiving it he turned back to Dr. Weir. "We were actually very fortunate. Just thank God sickbay was close enough to command to avoid the blackout or we coulda lost the lot of them."
As if noticing the glowing gate for the first time since his arrival, Beckett's eyebrows jumped two inches up his forehead. "Well, what do we have here?"
"Wish I could answer that Carson," Elizabeth let out a weary sigh as she started heading in Ronon's direction, "Whatever it is, it just burned out most of our electrical systems and wounded dozens of my personnel."
The massive Satedan was just finishing loading the last of the seriously injured onto a waiting stretcher when Weir approached from behind. "Ronon, if you're not too badly injured I could use you at the gate with Captain Romero."
Ronon grunted slightly as he drew his sidearm from it's holster. "A chance to welcome whoever did this? Yeah, I'm healthy enough for that."
Beckett smirked as the large man lumbered past him, but filed away the limp he noticed into the 'deal with it later' section of his mind. "What about you Doctor?"
Elizabeth was staring at the gate with a somewhat vacant expression, her hand rubbing behind her left ear absently. "Huh?"
"Did you suffer any injuries in the explosion?" Carson was just about to repeat the question when a high pitched buzz made itself known in his own left ear, growing steadily in frequency and intensity. "Does anyone else hear that?"
Catching affirmative nods from most of the personnel in ear-shot, Dr. Beckett noticed that Elizabeth was now clutching the side of her head, face contorted in pain. Ronon looked around the room, raising his weapon slightly as if the sound was an enemy he could defend them from. "Hear what? I don't hear anything!"
The Scot was lucky the pieces fell into place for him right about the time his own auditory nerves were assaulted full force, he quickly yanked the radio from his ear and was instantly relieved when the sound cut out. Pulling Dr. Weir's hand away from the side of her head as gently as he could, he removed her earpiece and tossed it to the deck. "Everyone remove your radios!"
Elizabeth smiled gratefully as she rubbed fingers over her temples slowly. "Thank you Carson, that was... unpleasant. How did you know it was the earpiece?"
"Well, Ronon seemed to be the only one unaffected by the noise." Carson shrugged, "Made sense at the time. The real question is what caused it?"
"You know... I think that might just have something to do with it!" McKay wheezed from the open doorway, still rubbing his own ear, one shaking finger leveled at the glowing gate across the room. The lightning circling the gate was growing in intensity and branching out to the surrounding bulkheads. Captain Romero layed a hand on Ronon's shoulder and both men started backing away from the increasingly volatile piece of Ancient equipment, neither ever lowering their weapons.
John tossed a nod to Elizabeth as he helped the nearly hyperventilating scientist over to a chair. "Sorry it took so long, we were on the East Pier when we lost power. What's the situation?"
"The gate activated nearly thirty minutes ago preceded by some kind of displacement wave. Before the explosion the gate was drawing massive amounts of power from all over the city and you can see the damage the buildup caused to our equipment." Weir motioned over to the still active stargate. "Rodney, are we in any kind of danger?"
All McKay could do was shoot a helpless glance at his boss and motion idly to the destroyed consoles around him. "I've got no way to access any data from here. Not that it would matter, seeing as how that explosion likely damaged the diagnostic systems along with everything else! I'll risk stating the obvious here - it does seem to be building up to something and there's no way of knowing if that something is bad or not."
Sheppard frowned from his position retrieving a P-90 dropped by one of the wounded Marines. "I doubt the people who did this are gonna send through a gift basket Rodney."
"I didn't say they would Sheppard. I'm just trying to impress upon you that something is...," Rodney cut off as bright violet light flooded through the gate room, "... very odd."
The air around them seemed to carry an electric charge, every hair on John's body stood at full attention as icy fingers raced down his spine. The sensation was so disorienting that it took him a long moment before he realized his dog-tags had somehow floated off his chest and were now hovering impossibly in front of his face. "Okay... this is definitely new."
As suddenly as it had arrived, the charge fled back towards the stargate, the lightning coalescing around the ring before swirling down the event horizon. To John it seemed oddly reminiscent of a flushing toilet, but he wasn't about to share that observation with the distinguished scientific minds surrounding him. Just as the last of the lightning trickled into the center of the stargate, a final flash of blinding light caused everyone in the room to shield their eyes, and a dazed human form stumbled forward through the gate, collapsing to it's knees as the event horizon winked out of existence.
Temporarily blinded, it took them all a few seconds to realize that the lights had returned to full power the moment the gate had disengaged, giving them a clear view of the traveler gasping for breath on the gate room floor. Ronon and Captain Romero had already leveled their weapons on the young man by the time Elizabeth started forward towards him, Sheppard at her side with his own P-90 at the ready. "Elizabeth?"
"It's alright John." Weir raised a hand to stifle his objections as she tried to identify anything of value about their new arrival. He was still hunched over, breathing heavily with wisps of smoke or steam rising up from all around him. Due to his position she couldn't make out his face, but his uniform was definitely familiar. Desert issued fatigues with a tactical vest, admittedly a little more torn up than she was used to seeing, but the Atlantis Expedition mission patch was clear on his shoulder. His hair was thick, black, and rather unkempt, though Dr. Weir wasn't sure if that was by design or a result of the ordeal he'd conceivable just gone through. It worried her to see that it was also matted with blood.
Coming to a halt roughly ten yards in front of him, Elizabeth focused on making her voice as neutral and diplomatic as possible. "Hello. Are you alright?"
Ronon looked at Weir like she'd just just lost her mind, but his focus quickly shifted back to their visitor when he sat back on his heels, a battered P-90 hanging loosely from the strap on his tac vest. Elizabeth drew a sharp breath past her teeth at the sight and wasn't surprised to hear many of the others joining her in her exclamation.
"What the hell?" John's first reaction was to flick the safety off his weapon, but he looked to Dr. Weir to decide what they should do.
"Well, he's can't be an evil twin." After noticing a few perplexed expressions, Rodney frowned, "He doesn't have a goatee!"
"I say we stun first, ask questions later." Ronon's growl finally seemed to drag the man kneeling on the gate room floor from his revere, bright green eyes coming to rest on the Satedan staring down the barrel of his gun at him.
Raising his uninjured arm as slowly as possible, the soldier's smile seemed oddly at ease for someone in his position. "Alright Chewy, who pissed in your cheerios? Don't I have enough holes in me already?"
Elizabeth motioned for the soldiers to lower their weapons, a command which everyone except Ronon obeyed. Even if the man had evil intent, Weir wagered he was far too injured to be of any immediate danger to them. Taking a knee in front of him, she ran a closer eye over the impossibly familiar face in front of her. It was... John. Well, he looked like John until you started noticing the small differences. The scar slashing through his right eyebrow, the eyes that were more green than hazel, a few less laugh lines around the eyes, a few less wrinkles on the forehead. A person who hadn't spent countless meetings staring directly at his face might not even have noticed it, but they were clear as day to Elizabeth. This wasn't her John. As old as his eyes appeared, there was no hiding the fact he was barely more than a boy.
She didn't even notice the hand resting on his stubbly cheek before Ronon grunted in surprise at the gesture, she had been unable to help the impulse though, he appeared to be in so much pain. Still, there was a comfort in his eyes she couldn't explain as he returned her gaze, a familiarity in the way he turned his face into her hand slightly. "I... never thought...," grimacing slightly, he forced himself to continue, "I never thought.. that I would see any of you again."
"Again?" Elizabeth's frown deepened when her fingertips encountered warm blood dripping down from his hairline. "I'm sorry, but I don't know who you are."
"How can you... you don't?" Shaking his head to clear his rapidly fading vision, the young man finally tried to take in the scene around himself beyond the woman kneeling in front of him. He was growing visibly more agitated by the second, stumbling up onto unstable legs trying to look in every direction simultaneously, "No no... this isn't right! McKay you stupid, arrogant, evil-genius wannabe son of a.."
"What?!" Finally having recovered from his run, Rodney was more than eager to find out why not-John was besmirching his good name. "What the hell did I have to do with this? I don't even know you! And you... you blew up the gate room!"
"It was your idea!" Not-John closed the short distance between them, his wounded arm clutched tightly to his side, his anger surprisingly potent considering it appeared he could barely stand upright. "It was you who activated the gate! It was you who shoved me through! What part of that strikes you as 'not your fault' Rodney?!"
McKay just scoffs, motioning to Elizabeth. "Definitely not an evil twin, that complaining is Sheppard charm at it's finest."
"Hey." Noticing that neither Rodney nor their new arrival seem inclined to stop arguing anytime soon John raises his voice over the tumult. "Hey! Sorry to interrupt this tearful reunion, but shouldn't we be the ones asking you questions?"
McKay sputters to a halt in his typical fashion but no one misses the way their guest froze solid the moment John's voice broke the tension. His already pallid skin skips three steps closer to 'white as a sheet' as he slowly turns to face the Colonel, his eyes wide and disbelieving.
The two lock gazes for a few seconds, John's double sputtering half-formed syllables until finally croaking out a single word. "Dad?"
Luckily, John and Elizabeth were close enough to catch the man when he pitched forward, eyes rolling back into his head. Elizabeth lowered his head to the deck as gently as possible, as Carson rushed over from the far side of the room. "John, did he just call you..."
"Yep." Sheppard's eyes however are focused on the man's dog-tags for a long second before yanking one free and handing it to Weir. Without another word he rose back to his feet and walked quickly from the room, ignoring everyone along the way.
"Should I...?" Rodney motions to the door the Colonel just stormed out of.
Elizabeth just shakes her head slowly motioning to the dog-tag in her hand. "I think he's going to need a minute."
Ronon frowns down at the unconscious man being hefted onto a gurney before glancing over his shoulder to Weir. "What does it say?"
"Captain...," Elizabeth seems to choke on the word before taking a steadying breath, "Captain John J. Sheppard."
Thanks to everyone who's reading. I promise this isn't your average time-travel story, as I have quite a few interesting angles I want to explore with this story.
Let me know what you think, the next update should be Saturday at the latest.