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Ripples part 2

And so to part 2 of Ripples





Rodney was surprised to find he had slept through the night. Ronon was gone from the chair, but before he had a moment to consider whether he could make a quick exit a nurse bustled over and began to take his vitals, and then another nurse appeared with a breakfast tray. And hallelujah! a cup of coffee. Crap infirmary coffee, but still after two months he could feel his body trying to absorb the stuff via his skin.

Once the coffee was gone he ate the chocolate muffin and then the blueberry muffin and figured that it must be a once in a lifetime, two months in a coma breakfast special. Because normally he was lucky if a surly nurse dumped alien oatmeal made with milk of dubious origin and something that wasn't quite tea on his breakfast tray.

He had just finished the last gorgeous mouthful of blueberries when Carson arrived with his chart, and remarkably easily Rodney found he was discharged from the infirmary, with instructions that he was not cleared for work yet. And that he had to come back for a further check-up after Sheppard's call in.

He was barely a corridor away from the infirmary when Teyla caught up with him and said, "While you were in the stasis pod there were some changes to the codes that govern the military here. And it coincided with us opening up some new areas of the city. A decision was made to move senior staff quarters, and so we moved your things into a suite of rooms, John didn't take many of his things with him when he left for the Great Hall, so we moved his things as well. I know he would not mind you watching over his belongings."

"So you're saying what, I'm Sheppard's Girlfriend in a coma room-mate?"

"I'm saying John would have moved your belongings into a room he thought you might like had he been here. And had you been awake you would have done the same thing for him. But as neither of you were able your friends have this for you, so that both of you have pleasant quarters in the new residential tower."

"Okay."

"And if you follow me, I'll show you where that is."

Rodney nodded and followed Teyla.

When they exited the transporter he realised they were in the South Tower. He remembered that plans to move staff there were being considered when he left on that last mission. And clearly while he'd been out of the loop the plans had been realised.

When Teyla showed him in, it was a far nicer room than he remembered. It was like a suite. There was a balcony that wrapped around what was clearly a spacious communal lounge area. There was a typically small Ancient kitchen breakfast room and there were four door off the main area.

Teyla guided Rodney towards the doors on the left of the apartment. He opened the first door and found himself in a study. Shelves full of his journals and text books lined two walls, various laptops were sitting on a work surface, and his collection of intriguing but dead little pieces of Ancient tech were dotted about the selves. One wall was taken up with windows and a door that clearly led out on the balcony. And there was a door that led into his bedroom and beyond that a bathroom with a shower and a bath, an even better bath than had been in his old quarters.

After Teyla left, Rodney had a look round the rest of the apartment. It felt a little odd when he stood in the doorway to Sheppard's bedroom, it was almost the same as his old room, except the sparkly curtain hung down the side of a much bigger window and Johnny Cash wasn't glaring down at the bed, he presided over John's office/weight room instead.

After checking out his new shower Rodney decided to head to the labs to try and find out exactly what had been going on. Maybe Zelenka would be able to give him some proper answers.

When he reached the labs he was pleasantly surprised to see his staff were hard at work. Zelenka came across as soon as he saw Rodney.
"So, is true. You are better?"

"Yes, yes better. Now Zelenka, what on earth has been going on? I haven't been able to get any sense out of Carson, he just keeps muttering about magic for god's sake!"

Zelenka seemed to falter and he glanced to the far side of the lab, Rodney followed his gaze and noticed suspiciously familiar dark messy hair, but of course it couldn't be Sheppard because he wasn't here. Some idiot or other had given him away.

Of course it wasn't Sheppard but it was someone Rodney recognised, Daione. And the man looked up at that moment as if he could tell that Rodney had spotted him. He stood and came over that big happy smile on his face, saying, "Alchemist, Dr McKay, it is wonderful to see you so well. I am so happy I was able to help."

Rodney glared at Zelenka and asked, "What's been going on here? What have you done? What did you let him do."

Zelenka muttered something that Rodney was pretty sure was Czech for, "They don't pay me enough for this shit." But then again his Czech had always been a little shaky, so he could have been saying, "Thank God you're back, never take two months off in a coma again!"

"I made something, for you. When Sheppard visited us the second time he told me of your deadly illness and of machines that might save you if they were working properly, if you had the means to power them. So I created the Cad'nra to trade with. And once I was here Alchemist Zelenka was able to use them to help the physician cure you."

Rodney glared harder at Zelenka and asked, "Would you care to explain?"

The man actually appeared to blush as he replied, "Is best if you see."

"It would be best for me if you just explained it." Rodney insisted.

"I can not."

"Maybe the concept is too difficult for you, but if you explain what you do know I'm sure I will be able to..."

"No, McKay, Rodney, I cannot explain because it is impossible. Let him show you. Remember the device that accelerated your brain? Remember how you healed me, could you explain? It is like that."

"But..." Rodney had always been grateful he had healed Zelenka, yet truthfully he never had been able to explain how he'd done it. But at least that solved one question, "So they're Ancients?"

"No, they don't have the gene."

"Please, Alchemist McKay, let me show you. I have already told you, when we first met. Everything I need is here, I simply take it."
And Daione raised a hand above his head, twisted his wrist, and a soft glow appeared and seemed to grow, then resolved as he brought his hand down holding an object. It was pale shimmering gold, like swirl of glass or crystal and within its depths tiny lights glowed like fireflies in a jar.

"But that..."

"Yes... is impossible.... Is..."

"Beautiful." Rodney whispered. He reached out and Daione placed the object in his hand.

Rodney glanced at Zelenka, who nodded and said, "Is fifty percent more powerful than fully charged ZPM. But is also radically different in how power is supplied. There is close to one hundred percent efficiency. Almost no degradation"

"Can he make anything?"

"What about.."

"I heard he did it but I honestly didn't believe it but....but"

"He could make something to kill the wraith."

"He could kill them with his mind."

"He could kill us with his mind!"

There was a cacophony of voices and Rodney realised for the first time that the whole lab had watched Daione create a ZPM, or whatever the Hell it was, out of thin air.

Zelenka shouted at the scientists. "People! Work day is not finished. You already know Daione created the new power source, and now you have seen with your own eyes. But show is over, so please to return to allotted tasks now."

There was a collective intake of breath, and then everyone did as they had been asked. There was still a quiet murmur of voices but they sounded excited and interested rather than the sound of mass panic from a few moments earlier.

Rodney was impressed. Zelenka had clearly been cracking the whip while he had been away. But the beauty and the utter wrongness of the object he was holding soon drew his attention back to it's sparkling depths. He walked through the lab to his office and went in.

He sensed someone had followed him and glanced around.
Bright blue eyes, pleasingly crinkled at the edges by the smile lines surrounding them, gazed deep into his. It was un-nerving, because Rodney knew that had they met under any other circumstances he would have been charmed and absolutely delighted by this handsome man. The fact that he was so obvious in his interest, was refreshingly different for Rodney as well. Most of his past lovers had been a reticent to be linked to him publicly.

But the trouble was, Rodney's heart had already settled on another impossibly handsome man with crazy, gravity-defying hair, who seemed to crave his company. Even though it was strictly platonic, they were best friends but there were definitely no benefits, still Sheppard's friendship was the most important relationship Rodney had ever had. And he knew the fact that Sheppard most definitely didn't mind openly stating they were friends, maybe even best friends, had been enough to make him fall for John, hard.

But Daione had just handed him the equivalent of one and a half fully charged ZPMs, and that deserved something. so Rodney smiled and said, "Thank you. I still don't quite believe you did this, even though I saw it with my own eyes. But wow. Thanks."

Daione answered, "When they rushed you away I had no idea what had happened. One of us could have reached out and stopped the harm being done to your body had we known. But it is only the legends and tales from our oldest of times that speak of those impervious to our magic. Touchstones, for whom our food and drink is poison. I never believed I would meet one such as you. And I confess that when the idea of making a conra'dh with your people became possible I would have wanted to come anyway. To learn more of your machines and of your alchemy."

"You can create a ZPM from thin air, but you don't understand technology and science on your world?" Rodney could not help asking.

Daione fiddled with a sharpie that was lying on the work bench and said, "You pick up this pen. You think about what you want. You move the pen across the page to write the words and you change the blank paper into a proof, or a story, or a poem, or a message to someone else. Understanding how the pen and the paper are made is not important, but what you have written on the page matters. For us, what we do is the same. I reach out my hand and take what I need, the elementals are all around us, everywhere. In my grasp I move them to become what I will, they become something else."

"So if you can do that. If you can do anything, make anything, why aren't you... Why don't you.... If you really could kill off the Wraith or us just with you mind! How come you haven't? How come you haven't just taken over the universe? You don't seem like the Ancients, ascended and superior and bound not to interfere in the lives of us mere mortals."

Daione laughed, "We powers swore an oath. A pact to share our knowledge and offer our assistance to the fifth race when they came. Had we stayed we could not have avoided influencing their development. So we agreed to wait, to watch from afar, to let you come to us.

"The Stargates, as you call them, were built on worlds were life was beginning. The Alterans built their cities and their ships, many cities like Atlantis and many ships that they sent to travel through the stars. The Nox chose to stay hidden living in the cloud cities of their home world. The Asgaard retreated far away and isolated themselves. We decided to travel to the far edge of the galaxies we knew and wait to see what happened. And we continued to live the life we always have. It is a simple life and we have everything that we need. We travel to the Halls of our cousins to feast and to marry and to mourn. We trade with the people of the galaxies. We used to trade with the Alterans in this galaxy, but we realised they were turning in on themselves, their preoccupation with ascension blinding them to the damage their alchemy was doing."

"Yeah people round here are dying all the time from the after affects of the Ancient's cult of ascension."

Rodney couldn't help but think bitterly of Gaul and Abrams, of Ronon losing everything and being a runner for all those year, of Sheppard being drained by Todd. Then he thought of the life lost and so nearly lost on Arcturus, the way he had been so sure he was right, all the while, until the horrible moment when he realised he wasn't. So he continued.

"But I guess that almost makes the point doesn't it? The Ancients interfered, splicing their genes with irratus bug genes. What were they thinking for God's sake, nothing good is ever going to come of that! And the Asgaard were so isolated they were dying off so they invented replicators to try and fix their bodies, but they escaped and turned into a plague that eats worlds. It is almost enough to make me regret...."

Rodney felt a hand on his shoulder, he felt a breath against the side of his neck as Daione quietly said, "I did not mean to cause you sadness, talking of these things. You have only just woken from your illness. I shouldn't have told you all this so suddenly."

Rodney stared down at the beautiful power source that had literally just been created and handed to him. There was no way he could reconcile all that he was feeling and all that he'd seen so quickly. There was no way he could even begin to do any of that until he'd after rescued Sheppard. He turned his head slightly, he could see a sad little smile on Daione's face, and he answered.
"You just handed me a fully charged, what did you call this?"

"Cad'nra, it is a vessel that stores power."

"A battery! Humph. But prosaic I suppose. So yes, you just handed me this, and I know that with an extra ZPM we can make this city safe for thousands of years, so there is no way you little history lesson could really make me feel sad. But it reminded me of one of the few times when I was wrong, catastrophically wrong. And it reminded me that the only reason I'm still here is because Sheppard was there. He pulled me back, he stopped me from making the same stupid mistake the Ancients made. And I'm sorry but I can't take this from you. I can't take anything from you, because I am going to find a way to break this treaty and get Sheppard back."

"No, you won't."

"Look, you a mmmhh!"
Rodney's voice was muffled when Daione's clapped a hand over his mouth to silence him.

"You won't have to because I am going to return home and tell them the treaty is no longer needed, I am happy for my people to have trade with you. And the Cad'nra are my gift. They are yours to keep. This one is smaller and much more beautiful that the others, I made it as a gift for you, so you would have something pleasing to look at and might remember me with a little favour."

"Mmh..d...memmm!" Rodney tried to talk but the hand didn't move.

"I had planned to suggest a treaty when you first came to visit us, maybe your whole team could have stayed for a while, and then in return we could have visited Atlantis. But when Sheppard came back with the second group, and I learned what had happened to you, that our food had poisoned you and your physician had put you in the chamber because he did not know how to cure you. That there was no hope for your recovery I suggested the old form of treaty. I knew my sister would delight in receiving your Ellylon into our court. She is very taken with him."

"Nnn..mmrr.."

Daione replied "Hush I will let you talk in a minute, just allow me to explain. Although the feel of your lips moving against my palm as you try to speak is very pleasurable. Maybe you wish to say something more?"

Rodney resolutely did not say a word. But he felt heat in his cheeks as he blushed, and he shifted subtly trying not to enjoy the feeling of the other man pressed close to him.

"Oh you are so delightfully perverse, Alchemist. But I know your heart seeks another. And I know that it was cruel to take him from you. But I had to come here, to learn of your science and your machines. I had to hope there would be a cure for you here in the city, because my magic would not work on you. Alchemist Zelenka explained how the city worked. He told of the difficulty you had because you did not have enough power. That you had to block parts of the city to conserve what power you did have. That there were many things still hidden from you because of this. So I fashioned more of the cad'nra. Three now power the city."

Rodney started at that, the city was fully powered, he smiled and mouthed the words thank you against Daione's palm.

"You are welcome." Daione laughed, and Rodney felt the heated breath from it against his neck

"Once the whole city came back to life it repaired itself. Now the whole city is open and safe, any dangers such as the incomplete experiments, are contained and clearly marked and can be dealt with. They were soon able to find information and machines that could cure you, once they could search the whole city. I had hoped the cure would be quick, but physician Beckett said it would be less dangerous to allow the machines to heal you while you slept. But as the chamber slowed down your body's decay, the cure would also be slowed down inside the chamber. This is why you slept so long. But now that is done."

The hand lifted away from Rodney's mouth, although Daione was still pressed close to him. For a moment Rodney didn't actually know what to say. He looked down again at the Cad'nra, at the sparks of fire, or pure energy, or magic even, in its depths and then he turned his face to the side and placed one gentle kiss at the corner of Daione's mouth and whispered "Thank you." again.

Before stepping forward and away from temptation. He didn't think he'd ever been the focus of such a grand, romantic gesture.

He cleared his throat and then asked. "So how will this work? Do you simply tell them to let Sheppard go?"

"No, I am sorry but knowing my sister I think you will have to bring him back."

"Oh My God, I knew it. She's made him her sex slave hasn't she? That's..."
Rodney stopped, then continued in a hard voice, "That's rape. How could you."

"No, it's not. I swear it's not. Only the willing can be beguiled. And she would never force him to do what he was not willing to do. But it makes them forgetful. And time passes differently. And it will take the hand of a true love to hold him fast and bring him back. That is why you will have to go with me."

"But I'm not. He's not. Sheppard doesn't think of me that way."

"Before we agreed the treaty terms, I spoke several times with your Ellylon."

Rodney interrupted him, "Why do you always say his name wrongly? It's John."

Daione smirked, and replied, "It is a little joke. In our old language Ellylon were sprites, they were mischief makers, and their ears."

"Were pointed. Elves? You think Sheppard's an elf!"

"No of course we don't, but he does have an elf's ears."

"Once he's back I'll make sure he never lives that down."

"I would expect nothing less from you, neither will your John."

"So what do I need to do to get Sheppard back?"

"It is simple."



**********

Some time later Rodney arrived in the gate room with Daione. Sheppard's call in was not scheduled for another thirty minutes. Daione enchanted Chuck, who was on gate duty that morning so he would not see them or remember the gate had been operated. Once it was established Rodney and Daione stepped into the wormhole, it winked out the moment they were through.

Unlike the last time Rodney was there, they arrived directly in the Great Hall. The few people who were about happily greeted them and no one seemed to find it strange that they had returned. They headed straight for Daione's quarters.

Daione left him in the first room of his suite, while he went to change. Rodney looked around, the room was dark and inviting. The heavy wall hangings and curtains were deep plums and purples and looked like velvet. There were shelves of books and there were strange and fantastic objects scattered among them. Several tables were covered in open books and papers. Rodney thought that if he were some mythical Furling prince instead of an astrophysicist, his work room would look exactly like this.

Rodney was running his fingers along the spines of some magnificent bound and gilded books in languages he had never seen before when Daione returned. He looked every inch a prince from some fairytale and from the smirk on his face he knew it.

But his voice was warm, when he asked Rodney, "Are you ready for this?"
And there was a hint of sadness in his eyes, like he knew the ultimate joke was on him, because he was the handsome prince and yet Rodney was still planning to run off with someone else.

"Yes let's get this done. You said he won't be hurt by this?"

"No, it can't hurt him, and it can't hurt you. But it will manifest the darkness that is inside John. You will see the things that he hides from the world. And that may be overwhelming and you might let him go."

"I won't let go. And anyway I've already been inside Sheppard's mind. There wasn't that much to see, it was strangely empty."

As they headed to the door Daione said, "There is one other thing I have to tell you."

Rodney frowned and said, "Yes I imagined there would be, there always is just one little thing with these kind of stories."

"When John and I spoke, when we made this plan to save you, he told me of a rule that he had to live under. A rule that kept you and he apart. While you were sleeping that rule was changed. That is why your friends decided it was fitting to move both of your possessions together into those new rooms."

"But?"

"I think John will be content with this."

Rodney was not entirely sure about that, but he had more important things to worry about. He wanted to feel completely certain that he could hold on to John no matter what. But Rodney knew that his natural sense of self-preservation was hard to overcome, and he was afraid, so very afraid that he would fail. But John was lost here, and apparently Rodney was the only one who could save him.

All too soon they arrived back at the Great Hall, and suddenly there was John. Rodney could see the soft look on his face that he remembered from their first visit. He could see and the way John's forehead was free of lines and his mouth was relaxed in gentle smile as he lounged on the velvet sofa beside Leanan-She. He could see the way her hand rested lightly on John's arm like she had the right to touch him.

"Sister, I would speak with you!"
Daione distracted her for a just one moment and Rodney stepped round from behind him and grabbed hold of John.

A hand on each arm, firmly grasping John by his biceps Rodney yanked him away from her touch, and it was as if the air pressure around them suddenly changed with an almost audible pop.

"Sheppard, you're coming home with me." Rodney said urgently.

For a moment John stared at him blankly, as if he had not understood the words. Then he began to struggle.

But Rodney was strong. His shoulders were broader than John's, and while John had an athletic muscled strength, Rodney had more power so he pulled John closer and held on.

At first the change in John was subtle. His expression shifted, his eyes darkened. Then suddenly John's hair was soaking wet and plastered to his pale face. There was a Kay-Bar in his hand, it was dark with blood and there was a careless smudge on John's cheek as if he had wiped a splash of blood away. His eyes glittered with range and he said "I will kill you."

Rodney held on tight and said, "No you won't Sheppard." As John fought him.

Slowly John calmed and then changed again. Now he was dressed in desert camo. His face was dusty and drawn with exhaustion, and his hair was stuck to his scalp with sweat and blood. He clutched a P90 and he said, "Don't worry captain I'll get you out of here."

"It's okay Sheppard, we'll both get out of here."

"Arclight this is roundhouse Zero six." John said as he looked around at something only he could see.

"We'll get out of here, don't worry." Rodney had to fight to hold on to John who was struggling to get free.

"Holland. Holland. Holland!!" The desperate sound of his voice died away and there was a look of terrible sadness and resignation on John's face.

Rodney was beginning to wonder what he was going to encounter next when he saw the neon yellow stain that had begun to grow in John's eyes. As blue spread over his skin and the hard carapace began to grow up his neck. His nails became hard and yellow with chitin and his hands hooked into claws.

The cold stare of the Wraith hybrid watched him, and the uncanny strength that John had possessed at that time pushed hard against Rodney's grip fighting to be free. There were no words this time just the impenetrable alien gaze that sent a shiver of fear up Rodney's spine. The thing that was perhaps the worst of all, the thing that made him want to let go, made him want to run away, was that he was still so clearly John Sheppard. He was still the man that Rodney had secretly fallen in love with. But Rodney held fast.

Slowly the flush of blue faded from John's skin, all but that strange little patch on his arm.

Then slowly, slowly John's skin began to pale and grow thin. His hair greyed and thinned, his skin wrinkled and slowly his body shrank and withered as breath rattled in his chest. Rodney had never seen Sheppard before Todd restored him. It made him afraid of the hold he had on John, but although he gentled his grip a little he still did not let go. He wondered what more he would have to see. He wondered if Sheppard would know what he had revealed.

Slowly the age rolled away from Sheppard, and he stood in his Atlantis gear, his face determined and yet also terrified, his eyes widened and just for a second the brilliant white heat of an explosion was reflected in his eyes, before he closed them and he staggered a little as if he might fall.

He opened his eyes again and his expression cleared and the years fell away from him, as he appeared to grow younger and younger until he was a boy of maybe nine or ten. Thin and pale. And for the first time ever the hair was tamed, but only because of a brutal crew cut. He was dressed in a dark suit with a dark tie, a look that was a least twenty years too old for his young frame. Rodney felt sorrow well up and he wanted nothing more than to put a comforting arm around John.

Rodney had opened up to about his childhood a little, to Carson, and even to John, but John never said a word about his. And Rodney had only learned what he knew from hacking John's records, and the few facts he had been able to get out of Ronon when he had accompanied John to his father's funeral. But now seeing John like this, there was absolutely no doubt in Rodney's mind that this was John after attending his mother's funeral.

"It's okay Sh.. John It's okay." Rodney couldn't bring himself to call the sad little boy anything but his first name.

Two fat tears rolled down the pinched face. But John didn't cry, didn't say a word. Just screwed up his face and stood there enduring the misery.

After a long time John sighed.

The room seemed to come back into focus, the soft murmur of people talking. Rodney blinked and as he opened his eyes again John was standing before him staring back.

Neither of them said anything for a moment and then Sheppard glanced to his side, and Rodney felt his heart clench. If all of that had been for nothing, if there was more he had to do, he wasn't sure if he had anything left to give. If John still wanted her.... Rodney closed his eyes again.

"Thank you."

"Just make sure you take care of him. I find I am rather fond of him."
Rodney opened his eyes again and looked up, that was not the voice he expected to hear answering John.

Daione gave Rodney a smirk then took his sister's arm and said formally, "The terms of our treaty are met in full. You are welcome to stay or go as you please."

"Go, we'll go."

John laughed his horrendous crazy laugh and said "Don't mind Rodney, he's a little challenged when it comes to diplomacy,"

But Rodney was prepared to overlook John's sarcastic wit. Just as long as he was following Rodney over to the DHD.

*********************

When the meetings and the medicals and the further meeting were finally over with. And the team dinner and the endless happy faces making their way over to say hi to John and some of them even said hi to Rodney. Finally Rodney followed John to their quarters.

"So." John said.

"Yeah." Rodney answered.

"I...' John stumbled over his words just like he always did, but Rodney didn't need to hear John's words any more. He'd seen it all.

So he simply grabbed John's hand and pulled him towards his bedroom. When they were by the bed he pushed John down and then he stood there for a moment looking at him. He shook his head and then said, "Let's never do that again."
Before he joined John on his bed and made the very most of their happy ending.

The happy End