Title: A Fire Burning Brightly
Fandom: SGA, SG1, NCIS
Relationships: Sheppard/McKay, O’Neill/Jackson, and more to come
Warnings: Canon-Typical Violence, Medical Bullshit
Summary: AR-1 have spent a day as wolves. Now they have to deal with the fallout of that. Clandestine programs and events start coming to light and discoveries are starting to be made.
Author’s Note: Everyone knows I have little to no respect for actual canon anymore, right? Also, I might have underestimated my word count. Oops. I’m going to finish this on my site. Hold tight. I’m not done.
“Ow.” John rolled over and tried to figure out why he was sleeping on the floor of the isolation room in medical. It took only moments before the whole previous day came rushing back and he moaned in protest. “Son of a bitch.”
“That’s one way to put it, sir,” Lorne muttered from his place on one of the beds placed in the room. “Glad you’re human again.”
“I’m glad to be human again,” John admitted. He ran his tongue over his teeth and winced. “Think I’ll be able to get to shower, brush my teeth, don a fresh uniform and maybe have a cup of coffee before everything goes to hell?”
“No idea, sir,” Lorne admitted. He waved a hand at McKay as the scientist stirred. “He woke up right behind you when you went wolf. Ronon and Teyla took longer to recover. No idea why.”
“Because neither of them is ATA positive and whichever Ancient came up with this, had to have made it easier for those of us with it to recover faster,” McKay offered. He sat up and crossed his legs tailor fashion. “Sorry for getting all up in your dinner last night, Lorne. It looked better than mine. Even if the raw meat tasted fine at the time.”
Lorne nodded once. “You’re welcome, doc. It looked better to me too.”
“Eh. Perspective is a thing,” McKay muttered before he leaned over and poked Ronon in the ribs. “Wake up, fuzz brain.”
“I’m bigger than you as a human, I can still sit on you,” Ronon rumbled as he opened one eye before stretching. “Not going to poke Teyla?”
“Hell no,” McKay said. He glanced at her and then looked away. “I don’t have a death wish and she’d bite me in this form as well as the other.”
“Do you think we’ll transform again?” John asked as he watched his team slowly wake up.
“It was seventeen days between the time we went down on M9S-921 and when we went down here on Atlantis,” McKay reminded him. “I had all day yesterday to think on this. If we go down again in another seventeen days, we’ll know we’re going to keep doing this. In the meantime, I want coffee, food that isn’t really good meat, and answers from Biro.”
Lorne touched his comm unit and then looked up at the isolation room’s observation room. “Markham says that Cooper put cinnamon rolls on the menu this morning.”
“Ha, sold,” McKay said with a snap of his fingers as he rolled to his feet.
“Agreed,” John said as he stood up as well. “This is the isolation room with the large shower, right?”
“Yes, sir. It’s the one for when teams go down, so there are enough showers for all four of you,” Lorne agreed. He watched as the male members of AR-1 headed for the bathroom to get clean.
“I will wait for them to finish,” Teyla murmured from her spot on the floor. “Yesterday is very blurry.”
“I bet,” Lorne muttered. He got off the bed and reached for a sheet. “Here. This might help while you wait for them to finish.”
Teyla took the sheet. “Thank you,” she said as she wrapped the length of fabric around her before she climbed up on the gurney that had her clothes folded at the end. “Thank you for folding my clothes.”
Lorne smiled softly. “You’re welcome, Teyla.”
“Do you think we will get breakfast delivered?” Teyla asked.
“Let me check?” Lorne offered. Walking out, he checked the area for Biro. When he didn’t see her, he turned to one of the nurses working in medical. “Nurse? Is Dr. Biro available?”
“Yes, sir. I’ll get her for you,” the nurse told him.
“You’re going to ignore me?” Beckett asked as he moved to stand in front of Lorne.
“Yup,” Lorne said. He eyed the CMO and smiled, hard and mean. “AR-1 have returned to being humans and they remember yesterday. Think on that.”
Watching the ruddy flush of temper wash out of Beckett’s face was oddly satisfying. The smile on his face got bigger and Lorne kept his gaze steady as the flush came back. Raising an eyebrow at him, he stayed silent. The ball was totally in Beckett’s court.
When he turned around on his heel and walked away, Lorne chuckled softly in satisfaction.
“Have fun, Major?”
Lorne turned to look at Biro and grinned. “Yes, I sure did. AR-1 is human again and Teyla wants to know if they will be getting breakfast delivered or if they can head down to get their own cinnamon rolls?”
“My last tests are still being run, so I think it would be best if we get their breakfast delivered,” Biro said after several seconds of thought. “I’ll call down to Cooper and have her send a selection. But before that, I would like to get a new blood draw from everyone for contrast,” she explained as she waved a basket full of empty vials.
“They’re going to be thrilled,” Lorne muttered. He walked back into the isolation room and paused. “Nice to see you dressed, sir.”
“Nice to be dressed,” Sheppard said. He stared pointedly at Biro. “Are you going to release us, Doc?”
“I want to make sure that you four eat, Colonel Sheppard. And I also need to get a new set of blood draws,” Biro said with a smile.
Lorne watched as Sheppard sighed softly and waved her back into the isolation room. “Come this way, Doctor. Teyla is showering and should be out in a few minutes,” he said. He waved a hand at the chair and table. “Shall we?”
“Yes, sir,” Biro agreed. She quickly set out the vials and glanced over at his arm. “Did you have any issues after I drew blood last night?”
“Nope. Pretty much healed immediately,” Sheppard reported. He pulled a chair out and glanced around the room. “McKay? Did you have any issues with your blood draw?”
“Nope,” McKay said. He held out both arms and showed off his unmarked arms. “What’s weird is that I don’t have the electrical burn I got two days ago.”
“Do any of you have any other injuries or scars that have disappeared?” Biro asked as she carefully swabbed Sheppard’s arm and slipped a needle into his arm. Four vials of blood were quickly acquired and she pulled the needle out under a piece of gauze. When she lifted the gauze to place a band-aid on the small wound, there was nothing there. “Uhm?”
Sheppard glanced down at his arm and raised an eyebrow. “So, we transform into wolves and we heal really fast? How many checkmarks are there in the werewolf column?”
“Oh, several, sir,” Lorne admitted dryly. “If you transform again, we’ll add that in.”
“That was one of the reasons I asked for saliva last night when you were still wolves,” Biro offered. “Because I know I’m not the only person who thinks it.”
“Nope, you aren’t,” McKay said. He poked Sheppard in the shoulder. “Move. The sooner she finishes her vampire work, the sooner I can eat.”
“I’m going to check your blood sugar as well, Dr. McKay,” Biro said as she pulled a blood glucose monitor out of her basket to set up the test. “Once we have that recorded, we’ll get your blood draw done.”
“Okay, let’s get this going,” McKay ordered. He held out his hand and watched closely as she pricked his finger and pulled up a bead of blood.
“You’re reading at 100, Dr. McKay,” Biro reported as she read the meter. “If I give you the meter, can you take your blood sugar on an hourly basis for the rest of the day?”
“Yes,” McKay confirmed. He held out his hand for the meter and stuffed it in his pocket along with a packet of test strips. He turned to Ronon and waved him over. “Your turn.”
“You lot are way too interested in blood,” Ronon bitched as he settled into place. He looked over at Biro and shrugged. “The scars I had on my back from when I tried to carve the tracker out are gone. I don’t have any more pain from the muscles either.”
“You were in pain before?” Biro asked as she slid a clean needle into his arm.
“Yeah,” Ronon said with a shrug. “Not like I could stop to heal right when I made the wounds and it was too long after the wounds were made to heal correctly when I got here.”
Biro glanced up at him as she switched out vials. “But you’re healed now?”
Ronon rotated his free arm in a full circle. “Yeah, I am. There’s no pain when I do that and there always was before.”
“Good to know,” Biro said as she pulled the last vial of blood and withdrew the needle. She looked at his skin and nodded. “Yeah, you seem to have the healing thing too.”
“What is this healing you are talking about?” Teyla asked as she exited the bathroom. She had her hair braided back and to Lorne’s eye, looked much more comfortable dressed in her own clothes.
Lorne held his peace as McKay and Biro explained what they had confirmed. Teyla was nodding along. “I have noticed much the same,” she confirmed. “Do you need my blood, Alicia?”
“I do, Teyla,” Biro said with a nod. She poked Ronon on the shoulder. “You need to get up.” Biro quickly completed her blood draw from Teyla and packed everything up. “I’ll be calling to get your breakfasts delivered and I will make sure that Cooper adds the cinnamon rolls. But I would like you all to stay in here for another twenty-four hours so we can monitor you to confirm there are no lasting after-effects of your transformations.”
Sheppard glanced at his team and then nodded. “Fine. We’ll stay. But I would suggest that you bring us something to do. None of us are all that great about being bored.”
“I have a whole bunch of paperwork I can pass back to you, sir?” Lorne offered with a cheeky grin.
“Yeah, no,” Sheppard disagreed. “But I will take my laptop. I’ve got stuff I can do and I’m certain that I have at least one report that I need to file about this whole thing.”
“General O’Neill did mention that if you returned to normal, that he wanted to get an update from you on what had happened,” Lorne said. He raised his hand. “I promised to explain everything that has happened since you passed out.”
“Best get cracking,” Sheppard directed. He kept an eye on Biro as she walked out and then turned back to Lorne. “I haven’t really noticed Elizabeth being here since not long after I woke up the first time.”
“She hasn’t been down here at all. She’s gotten reports from me and possibly from Dr. Biro, but she hasn’t really done much more than what she does every other day from the reports I’m getting from everyone up in the control room,” Lorne reported. He took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “General O’Neill will be leaving on the Daedalus in the next twelve hours, so I want to do a last verbal report in a few hours. And if we can get some written reports to give to him too?”
McKay gave him a narrow-eyed glare and Lorne stared back at him without a blink until he smiled and nodded. He’d learned the trick the night before in dealing with the scientist and was happy to know it worked when he was human. “Did you get the supply list my departments were putting together?”
“Radek slipped me the lists before my first meeting with General O’Neill,” Lorne confirmed. He turned to Sheppard and nodded. “I had Cooper and Wright looking over any other supplies we might need. Those lists were passed on as well. General O’Neill promised to bring as much as he can with him since the Daedalus is coming off schedule.”
Sheppard looked pleased and nodded. “Good.”
There was a knock on the door and it opened after McKay glanced at it. Jones pushed his trusty cart in and the whole isolation room filled with the smell of cinnamon, eggs, and bacon. “Cooper pulled out all the stops for us?” Sheppard asked as he stepped forward to help Jones move the food onto the table.
“Well, sir, it certainly helped make her decision on what was for breakfast,” Jones confirmed. He picked up a bowl and settled it into place in front of Teyla. “The porridge that you normally ask for when things get a bit rough, Ms. Emmagan.”
“Thank you, MS1,” Teyla said with a smile. She pulled the lid off the bowl and breathed in the steam. “Oh, that smells better than normal. Thank you. And thank Chief Cooper as well for me?”
“I will, ma’am,” Jones promised. He checked his cart and smiled to see it empty of all dishes. “I’ll leave this in here so you can reload it when you’re done,” he said before passing the colonel a thumb drive. “Cooper asked me to pass this along. It’s a copy of the supply list she submitted to Major Lorne, sir.”
“Thanks, MS1,” Sheppard said. He took the drive and slipped it in a pocket before sitting down at the table. “Breakfast looks great by the way. Please let Cooper and the rest of your crew know?”
“Will do, sir,” Jones said. He pushed the cart out of the way and headed out.
“I’ll be heading out to get cleaned up and get an update on what’s happening in the city, sir,” Lorne informed Sheppard. He nodded at the kitchen table. “I’ll also be picking up my own breakfast.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Sheppard agreed. He held up his radio and tucked it into his ear. “I’ll be listening.”
“I’ll let you know if I come across anything weird,” Lorne promised.
“Dismissed, Major,” Sheppard said with a smile. “And thank you.”
“Are we going to talk about this?” Teyla asked as she delicately spooned up a portion of her porridge.
John took a careful sniff in the direction of the bowl and tried to parse what he was smelling. It didn’t smell bad just different. Nothing like he remembered oatmeal smelling like on Earth. Pushing the mini mystery from his mind, he shrugged. “By this, do you mean the turning into a four-footed animal? The awareness I have of each of you? Or the fact that we’re healing a lot faster than normal and any scars we had are gone?”
“All of the above,” Rodney muttered as he carefully sipped at his coffee before giving it a mild grimace. “My sense of taste has been heightened and that’s not the greatest thing with the coffee Cooper gave us. We need to get her better beans.”
“You know she gets the best she can afford for the mess and brings it out vacuum-sealed so it stays fresh,” John reminded him. “You’re just a coffee snob.”
“I am indeed,” Rodney agreed. He set his cup aside and started tasting everything on his plate. “And I’m deeply glad I have better in my lab. At any rate, I might not mind the better smell and taste thing if all her meals taste this good. Be careful with the rolls, some people can find large amounts of cinnamon to be spicy and I have no idea if that will be any of us.”
Ronon snorted once. “I like your spicy foods.”
John raised an eyebrow at that as he started eating his share of breakfast. Nothing Cooper served was super spicy, so how had Ronon been exposed to it the Tau’ri version of spicy foods?
“Chief Cooper served sushi several days ago,” Teyla reminded him. “And he always gets thirds when she makes chili.”
“Oh. Yeah, she did. I prefer my fish cooked, but the pieces were beautiful to look at,” John remembered. “And I did have a few California rolls, so…”
“You ate the wasabi? Straight or mixed into something?” Rodney asked Ronon with a smile.
“I ate the wasabi straight,” Ronon confirmed. “It stung like a bitch for a few seconds, but it had a nice flavor. The sushi wasn’t too bad either.”
“I never really got a taste for it on Earth,” Rodney confided. “Most places that serve fish tend to have a lot citrus on the premises and I don’t really want to chance it. Having an allergic reaction while I’m eating would suck.”
“But Cooper doesn’t allow citrus in her kitchen, does she?” Teyla asked. “Is that why?”
“One of the reasons, yes,” John confirmed with a nod. “Rodney’s not the only person on the expedition allergic to citrus, he’s just the only one with a fatal level allergy. The other person who’s allergic gets pretty nasty hives.”
“So what? Exposure to this ‘citrus’ can kill you?” Ronon asked after a drink of water.
“Yes, his throat closes up and he can’t breathe,” Teyla said with a nod. “It was most distressing when we ran into something much like citrus at a feast. Thankfully, he has a medication that can reduce the reaction so he can get back here to be treated.”
Ronon turned to stare at Rodney and lifted one eyebrow. “Should I know how to give you this?”
“Yeah, we’ll go over that once we get out of here, Ronon,” John agreed. “We can go over a good first aid course with the field medics so you know what we can do and what we would need you to do.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“Okay, back on target,” John directed after several minutes. The meal had been devoured quickly and the only thing left beyond the coffee and tea tray was a second batch of cinnamon rolls, heavy with icing. “After I woke up yesterday, I had an awareness of where each and every one of you were. Even when you moved out of my line of sight.”
“Line of sight in here isn’t that far, John,” Rodney reminded him. “We can test that by running around the city or heading to the mainland to see if we can track each other?”
“That would be very helpful,” Ronon said with a grin. “It would make it easier to get ourselves back if someone tried to take one of us.”
“Right?” Rodney said with a smile in Ronon’s direction. “When we transformed yesterday, nothing felt off or odd. I didn’t have any real issues using my new legs.”
“The tail was a little odd to get used to, but it came in handy when I jumped on stuff,” Ronon said. He was eyeing the cinnamon rolls with intent. “There’s eight there. Two each?”
Rodney made a protesting noise. “You can’t be hungry!”
“Gentlemen,” Teyla admonished gently. “Shall we not get into a fight over rolls? If we ask, I am certain that Chief Cooper will supply us with more.”
“Oooh, I wonder if I can get my own pan. And if she’ll add wasabi to it?” Ronon asked.
“Seriously, what is with you and wasabi?” John asked.
“Food on Sateda was spicy. Wasabi tastes kinda like home,” Ronon explained with a shrug.
“I wonder if we can get him some Thai and Szechwan dishes?” John asked. “I know there are some that can be done without citrus, so maybe we can ask Cooper about it?”
“From what I know, both of those cuisines will make him sweat, so he might enjoy them,” Rodney offered. “Anyway. I didn’t have any mental issues eating the raw meat last night, even if the idea of it right now makes me a bit queasy. How about you?”
“I had no issues with that, but it was very disorientating when I woke up. I did not understand what happened. It took some time to determine which of you was who,” Teyla said. She spooned up the last of her porridge and carefully set her spoon in the bowl. “What kind of creature were we?”
“Right, we haven’t hit werewolves in the movies yet, have we?” John asked. He traded a look with Rodney. “Did anyone bring out the Harry Potter books?”
“I have read those,” Teyla said with a smile. “They were very interesting, but Miko assures me that the reality of Earth has very little in common those books.”
“She’s right,” Rodney said. “The author made up a lot for her stories, but there are some things that do carry through to reality on Earth. Ideas mostly. But I know why John brought the books up. We turn into something like Remus Lupin. Only instead of being stuck in a halfway point and being feral, we went full wolf and retained our minds.”
“So more like Professor McGonagall and her trick of turning into a cat?” Teyla asked.
“Good question. I don’t know if we can do it at will, if the transformation was a one-time thing, or will it happen every seventeen days,” Rodney admitted. “We’ll have to do some tests while we’re stuck in here today.”
“Well, that’ll be something to do,” John said with a small smile. He calmly plucked two rolls out of the pan and placed them on his plate. “I’m going to get mine now before Ronon steals the whole pan.”
“He will not,” Teyla warned. She held out her hand for the pan and wriggled her fingers. “Gimme.”
“How are you feeling, Colonel?”
John stared at Beckett and raised an eyebrow at the doctor. “Why are you asking, Doctor?”
“I wasn’t allowed to be a part of your care, so I wanted to make sure you are doing well,” Beckett explained with a reassuring smile.
“I am doing well and so are my team,” John said, keeping his voice even with an effort. “I have places to be, so I’ll be going.” He turned around and started walking away, trying to keep his temper.
“Colonel, I would like your permission to review all your case information and to perform some additional tests,” Beckett called.
“No,” John snapped. He spun around and walked back to stare down at the doctor. “You are not authorized or allowed to have anything to do with my team. If I find you harassing any member of my team to try to get authorization to ‘study’ us, I’ll make you regret it.”
“I don’t know why you think you’ll be able to stop me. I am the CMO and I have every right to review the work of my departments,” Beckett said with a smile. He looked John over and the smile got bigger. “I expect that I will be seeing your information soon.”
John had to suppress a snarl. “I wouldn’t bet on it.” He turned back around and started walking towards the mess. “Stay away from my team, Beckett.”
Breathing carefully, John entered the mess and looked around for Cooper. Since he didn’t see her, he took a deep breath and tried to remember her scent. Nothing was coming to mind and John gave up.
Eyeing the breakfast line, John shrugged and grabbed a tray, and walked over to the station set up for omelets. “Good morning, Cpl Stoddard.”
Stoddard raised his eyes from his cutting board and smiled. “Good morning, sir. What can I get for you this morning?”
“I’m going to go protein-heavy this morning, so I think I’ll have an omelet.”
“Two, four, or six eggs, sir?” Stoddard asked as his hands hovered over the bowl of eggs.
“Hmm,” John eyed the eggs and then thought about how hungry he really was. “Four eggs, cheese, ham, bacon, and mushrooms.”
“Sound good, sir. I’ll get that started for you if you wanted to pick up anything else for yourself,” Stoddard suggested.
“Good plan,” John agreed. He took his tray and made his way through the line picking up everything that looked good. For once, he didn’t bother to try to keep his intake reasonable. He was hungry.
Stoddard had his omelet ready when he got back to his station and had even been nice to add cheese to the top of it. “All set, sir. Do you need anything else?”
“Nope,” John said with a smile as he accepted his plate. “Thanks!”
Food acquired, he headed for the table his team normally ate at. Tucking into his haul, John suppressed a moan as he tasted the food. He was left alone for almost five minutes before Cooper slid into a seat across from him with a carafe of coffee in her hand.
“Sir,” Cooper eyed his tray in satisfaction. “Jones said that you were checking the place out when you walked in?”
“Mmhm,” John hummed before he finished his bite. “I wanted to say thank you for the meat when we were wolves and then the food yesterday. Everything was soothing and portions were generous enough that we all felt like we had enough to eat.”
“I’m glad to hear that, sir,” Cooper said with a smile. “Do you know if there are any changes I should be aware of with your diets?”
“We’re still working that out, Chief,” John admitted. He waved his hand at his meal. “I avoided most of the foods that I remember canids shouldn’t have. I didn’t want to take a chance. No matter how much I like onions and garlic.”
Cooper sat back and stared at him. “Do you know if this will be happening again?”
“No, we don’t know. But if we know it’s going to happen again, we’ll let you know so you can arrange for us to have meat,” John said. He tapped his water glance. “I would ask that if it does happen again, that you send up more water.”
“We were wondering if you wanted organ meat or some bones to gnaw on,” Cooper asked.
John thought about both of those items and shook his head. “Hard pass on the organ meats for me, but I think the bones would have been good because I had an urge to chew on things and that might have helped.”
“I’ll keep that in mind if it’s needed again,” Cooper agreed. She stood up and nodded at him. “I’ll let you get back to your meal, sir. Have a good day.”
“Thanks, Cooper. You and your people do well by us and I’m glad you’re here,” John told her with a smile.
“It’s our honor, sir,” Cooper said before she wandered off.
Smiling softly, John picked up a piece of bacon to munch on while pouring himself a new cup of coffee. His sense of his team shifted and he smiled as all three of them walked in. McKay looked mildly peeved but then, he looked like that every time he woke up.
By the time his team settled into place around his table, he had finished his meal and was slowly sipping his way through his coffee. Tilting his cup towards McKay, he smiled. “You were right.”
“I’m often right,” Rodney said promptly. “What am I right about this time?”
Snickering softly, John shook his coffee cup. “Cooper needs better coffee. Not even a fresh pot is making things better.”
“We may have to learn to tolerate it,” Rodney cautioned as he cut up his meal. “Getting truly fresh coffee would mean going back to Earth and buying directly from a roastery.”
“I may put an order in so I can get some better coffee,” John muttered.
“You two and your coffee,” Teyla teased softly as she pulled her tea ball out of her cup.
John could smell the tea she traded for off-world. Whatever it was, it seemed to do the same thing for her that coffee did for him. It was just too bitter for his taste and he normally drank his coffee black. “Coffee is life.”
“More like caffeine, but I’ll accept coffee,” Rodney muttered. He eyed the water in Ronon’s glass. “Then again, one of us seems to wake up fine without any assistance.”
“I ran five miles before breakfast,” Ronon reminded him. “If you did that, you might drink less coffee to wake up.”
The look Rodney flashed him was faintly horrified. “There is no way.”
“It’d do you good,” Ronon pressed.
A quick sniff in his direction showed that the Satedan was amused. “At least get up and run two miles in the morning, Rodney. They can be on a treadmill, but you need to be able to run.”
“Fuck, I do, don’t I?” Rodney asked the world as he poured himself more coffee. “Our missions always seem to end with us running all over some planet that wants to kill us.”
“Running is good for you,” John reminded him. “You know I run with Ronon most mornings.”
“You’re crazy,” Rodney said, voice earnest. When Teyla cleared her throat, he slumped slightly. “Okay, fine. If we shift again, I want to see if I can run as a wolf.”
“I nicked myself shaving this morning, Rodney, and I healed in seconds,” John said as he ran his thumb over his chin. “I don’t think we’re going to get out of changing again.”
“John is correct,” Teyla murmured. She tapped her cup. “This was far too hot to drink, but I still did and I did not actually care.”
“Right,” Rodney sighed. He looked at Ronon. “And you?”
Ronon rolled his arm over to show the unblemished skin of his forearm. “I tested it with a cut this morning. Healed within thirty seconds.”
“I tested with a cut on my thigh,” Rodney admitted with a grimace. “I couldn’t cut my arm. I healed in about the same amount of time.”
“So, we’re all still active and healing from anything that happens to us,” John concluded. “Given that, I have something that we’re all going to need to be aware of. Beckett thinks that he’s going to get access to our test results and possibly us. I’ve already told him that he isn’t, but I’d like some backup on that, Rodney.”
“You weren’t the only one to hear what he tried to pull,” Rodney reminded. He started on his omelet and was silent for several seconds while he ate. Setting his fork to the side he picked his coffee cup to play with it as he talked. “I locked our records down yesterday afternoon when I got access to my computer. I’m not sure if he saw anything before then, but he’s seen nothing since. The only ones besides us who can see it are Biro and Lorne. Everyone else is locked out, including Weir.”
“Interesting. Why?” Teyla asked. “She is the leader of the expedition; I would have expected her to be allowed to see any reports she wanted.”
“She technically has the clearance to see just about anything,” Rodney admitted. “But in this, I have the discretion to lock her out. I’ve included that in the report that I’m writing for O’Neill.”
“But that doesn’t really explain why you’re restricting her access,” John pressed.
“I’m not 100% certain why I am, but I’m going to go with my gut for the moment and restrict access to the fewest people I can,” Rodney said. He waved a hand like he was trying to find a point. “Biro can report to her if she needs to, but Weir doesn’t need the raw data.”
“Okay, I get that,” John sighed as he checked his watch. “I have a meeting with her in an hour. I want to have a short meeting with Lorne first.”
“I’m going to be in that meeting as well, so I need to check with Radek and Biro,” Rodney said. He looked at Ronon and Teyla. “Did you two get an invite to a meeting?”
“No, I was not included,” Teyla said with a frown.
“You know she doesn’t meet with me if she can help it,” Ronon reminded them when John had lifted an eyebrow in question.
“Should we all show up?” Rodney asked. He picked up his fork and waved it at the rest of his meal. “I’m going to finish this, hit up my minions, and then go to the meeting. If you two want to show up, the meeting is at 0900.”
“It would let us get some idea of what’s going on with her,” Ronon agreed.
Teyla hummed softly and John could finally hear the tune she was using. He’d heard it sung in the village on the mainland to calm children down. “I think I will.”
“All for one?” John suggested.
“Of all the movies, you chose that one?” Rodney bitched.
“I liked both versions you showed us,” Ronon admitted. “The swords were pretty cool.”
“Swords are always cool,” John said with a grin. “I’ve been thinking about getting one if I back to Earth for leave.”
“Check with Cooper to see if we have any smiths on the city,” Rodney suggested. “Most of my geeks have weird hobbies.”
“Your people are insane,” John reminded him dryly.
The shrug Rodney gave him seemed rather helpless.
John cracked a smile and settled into place in front of his XO’s desk. “Before we go to the meeting with Weir, I need to know: what in the fuck has been happening over the last two days?”
Lorne sat back in his chair and spread his hands in supplication. “I truly have no real idea. I have suspicions and theories, but Weir and Beckett were acting way too weird after it was discovered that you had turned into wolves.”
“Beckett wants to experiment on us,” John said baldly. “I’m not willing to let him near any of my team.”
“I’m honestly, not all that willing to let him near any of us,” Lorne admitted. He handed John a tablet computer with a word document queued up. “I’ve been checking into things and he’s been dropping the ball on a lot of things. There’s been a lot of crazy shit coming out of the sciences and medical has some deeply weird shit.”
John eyed the document and glanced up at Lorne. “Exactly how pissed off is this going to make me?”
“I wanted to raid Radek’s still for something to help me calm down,” Lorne admitted bluntly. “There’s been some fucked up shit happening in this city.”
“I was really hoping that wasn’t the case,” John muttered as he started reading. “Who did you get to help you raid the records?”
“Miko and Radek.”
“Good call,” John said before he drew in a deep breath. He could hear the case of the tablet creak slightly as his grip stressed the material. “Fuck. He wants to what?”
“Super strength, sir?” Lorne asked softly.
“Above average at least,” John muttered. “Beckett really does want to bring a live Wraith onto my city to do what to it?”
“Do some research to see if he can suppress their iratus traits,” Lorne explained. “There’s apparently some kind of serum he’s been working on that he wants to test.”
“Fuck, no,” John muttered. “There is no way in hell that he’s going to experiment on a sentient on my watch. It’s making my hackles rise.”
Lorne eyed him carefully. “Really sir?”
“Mostly metaphorically,” John explained as he continued to read. “But yeah, it’s making me itch. Anyway. Someone wants to see if they can use a jumper to explore the ocean? Please tell me they mean to use the sensors to scan the bottom from above the water?”
“Nope. They want to dive under it to around a thousand feet and scan from there,” Lorne explained. “It sounds pretty cool, but I really want to have at least two jumpers doing it and a lot more work done on the shields before we let the scientists try that. One above the water and one below. Because given our luck, there’s a leviathan out there.”
“For fuck’s sake. Is this in order of severity? Because Beckett’s bullshit is still at the head of my list for ‘hell no’, John muttered as he read the next item. “Rodney’s got a site he wants to check out that may be a massive power generator that the Ancients didn’t complete because of some unknown reason? Is he trying to give me grey hairs?”
“To be fair to McKay, that’s actually on the docket to be talked about and reviewed by the science department as a whole,” Lorne said. “He hasn’t been trying to hide anything, sir. He’s just found something that looks both really cool and really dangerous.”
“Well, we need power, so there’s that in its favor, but I’m going to want to go over the math before I decide how I feel about it,” John decided. He highlighted the entry and quickly put a note in to have someone check the database to see what Atlantis had to say about the project.
“Check out the next entry, sir,” Lorne prompted.
John kept reading and he could feel his eyebrows climbing. “Is this another Beckett project?”
“Only vaguely, sir,” Lorne said. “In so far as the organs are being harvested from the corpses when they are brought to the city for him, so he’s associated. But no, this is one of the biologists with a chemist assisting.”
“There is no way on God’s green earth I want to see what the commercial use would be for Wraith enzyme, either synthesized or natural. That’s getting shut down as soon as we can,” John snapped. “Seriously, after what happened with Ford, who wants to come up with a drug that is instantly addictive? The SGC isn’t going into the drug trade and O’Neill would nuke the IOA if they tried to do it.”
“I’d help,” Lorne said grimly. “I only heard about what happened with Ford. He was addicted that fast?”
“Yeah. One exposure and he wanted more and didn’t care who he hurt to get it,” John remembered. “From what I learned from the nurses and Beckett, it’s worse than heroin. If you survive the initial hit, you’re going to want more, and you won’t care what you have to do to get it.”
John threw the tablet on Lorne’s desk and ran his hands over his face. “Oh, my god. The sciences here are insane.”
“And those are just the civilians,” Lorne cautioned. “I have a whole bunch from the military scientists. We have about a half-dozen who are working on new explosives using naquadah, and whatever the fuck is in the drones. There’s a proposal being written to suggest that if we can find out where the drones are made, we see if we can slightly change the payload so they are more explosive.”
“I don’t actually mind that idea,” John admitted to his hands. “What’s the bad part of that?”
Lorne cleared his throat and hemmed and hawed for several seconds. “Well. It’s currently blowing up if it’s nudged by a feather, sir.”
“That is totally a con for that. We’re not going to play with that one until they get it stable. We need to be able to have a heavy metal mosh pit going off right next to it safely before I’d even consider installing the compound in anything,” John decided.
“A mosh pit?” Lorne asked with a smile.
“Do you know of anything else that can be done out here that’s as loud, and frankly causes as much vibration?” John asked.
“Nope. Not unless we can get an aircraft carrier out here and launch a few jets with the steam catapults,” Lorne mused.
“When did you see one of those?” John asked.
“Friend of mine’s dad was on the America and his bunk was right under one of the catapults. He said it was the loudest thing he’d ever heard along with causing his bones to shake,” Lorne reported. “There are reasons I went into the Air Force to fly. We at least got actual runways.”
John snorted. “True that.”
“Are you ready to deal with Weir?” Lorne asked.
“Yeah, I think so. I read all the reports you filed with O’Neill and the supplementals that everyone else added, I’ve got an idea on the timeline of events,” John said after several seconds. “I’ve got my list of questions and I’m sure Rodney does too.”
John sat in silence for several seconds and then sighed when his watch alarm went off. “There’s the ten-minute warning. Time to head up.”
“Yes, sir,” Lorne said as he stood up. He waved at the tablet on the desk. “That’s actually yours, sir from your desk.”
“Fantastic,” John said as he picked it up. “At least I’ll be able to review the rest of that nightmare list after this meeting.”
“You have antacids in your office, sir,” Lorne promised.
John led his team into Weir’s office and settled into place on one of the two chairs in front of her desk. “Dr. Weir.”
“John,” Weir said, tilting her head as she watched his team settle into place around the office. Lorne took the chair nearest the door and waved it closed. “The meeting we had scheduled was just for the two of us.”
“Given that the meeting concerns my team, I thought that they should be involved with this,” John said with a smile. “And Lorne is here since he’s been working with you for the last few days to keep things calm while Rodney and I were unavailable.”
Weir settled back into her chair and placed her hands in her lap. “I see.”
John opened the tablet Lorne had given him and quickly found the report he’d written the day before. “So, it’s obvious that we’re human again and no longer wolves. The question is: What do we do from here?”
“Do we know if you will be changing into wolves again?” Weir asked as she glanced at Rodney.
Rodney settled deeper into his chair and waved his tablet. “I went and talked to Biro. She’s still running tests on the blood, saliva, and tissue samples we gave her over the last two days, so there’s no definitive answer at this time. When we transformed, it had been seventeen days since our last off-world trip where we had been found unconscious in an Ancient facility. We don’t know if we were exposed to anything, and since the facility is dead, there’s no way to confirm.”
“Given that, do you think it’s wise to allow the four of you to continue without some form of monitoring? And given that we don’t know if whatever changed you is contagious…,” Weir trailed off.
Lorne cleared his throat at that. “Actually, Dr. Weir, we can confirm that it is not contagious.”
“How so?” Weir asked, voice sharp and accusing.
“My team went out and were the ones who did the retrieval of AR-1. If we had been infected with whatever it was that caused them to change, we would have done so yesterday. I spent the day with AR-1 and was under observation the whole time. My team was also under observation. None of us became wolves or any other animal,” Lorne explained. He nodded at Rodney. “Dr. Biro has blood, saliva, and tissue samples from my team as well to allow her to test us as well.”
Rodney checked his tablet computer and cocked his head to the side as he read something. “Biro just emailed me an update to her initial report. We’re not contagious by touch or by breathing on someone. She reports that there have been changes to our DNA and she’s going to look into that with more testing. She expects that we’ll change again, but there’s no timeline for when the next change will happen.”
“That’s even more reason to keep you all from traveling through the gate. We don’t know when or if you’ll transform. Carson reported that you all screamed when you transformed,” Weir explained.
“For the seconds it lasted, it burned and I was worried I was going to go mad from the pain,” John admitted. “But the second time was easier. Less of a burning madness and more of an uncomfortable stretch. If the next time I transform follows the same pattern, it will be even less painful. But through it all, I was still me.”
“You were an animal,” Weir reminded him. “Carson said that there was no way that your brains could support human-level cognition.”
“I was informed of his theory,” Rodney snapped. “It was wrong. Heightmeyer was called down to assess us by Lorne since you declined to do as you stated you would. She confirmed that we were indeed inside the furry skulls of our wolf forms. And the cognition tests she did were the same ones that the SGC did to confirm that the Unas are sapient and sentient, even if they look like humanoid dragons.”
John watched as Weir’s expression darkened and he took a careful sniff, trying to parse the chemosignals she was letting out. If he had to put an emotion to the scent, it would be anger. Rodney smelled irritated, but that was almost a baseline scent for him, so he ignored it.
“I don’t know if I trust those tests,” Weir said with a sniff.
The look Rodney was giving her was the same one he gave his dumber minions and John had to suppress the urge to laugh. “You don’t have to trust the tests, Elizabeth. We’re not asking you to certify them. Which you can’t do anyway because your degree is in PoliSci and that’s pretty much useless out here since the political situation here in Pegasus has no relationship to what’s happening on Earth at all. Heightmeyer followed the procedures that the SGC has in place and is qualified to certify the tests. And Lorne already passed the results onto O’Neill, so it’s recorded at the SGC.”
The scent of anger intensified and John was intrigued to notice that Weir’s expression didn’t change, even as her mood soured. When she looked over his shoulder and raised an eyebrow at Teyla and Ronon, he figured she was looking for a distraction. “You’ve been very quiet.”
“Not much to say. We spent the day as what I now know to be wolves. It was interesting at times but mostly boring. If we change again, I want to go somewhere we can run,” Ronon told her.
John could tell he was staring at her because her scent was shifting again. From anger to something that he could only label as nervous. Tilting his head slightly, he pressed the office to slowly block all the sounds from outside the room for almost a minute. Interesting, he was hearing her heartbeat as it sped up in response to Ronon’s look. Releasing his control over the room, he made a note to pass the information on to his team.
“Teyla?” Weir asked. “How are you feeling about this change?”
“I am conflicted,” Teyla admitted. “But this was not done by the Wraith and seems to have several advantages.”
“But it’s another change to your person. How can you be so accepting of it?” Weir pressed.
“Because whatever did this to me, Dr. Weir did not do it so I would be more edible,” Teyla answered. “I shall tell my people what has occurred as soon as I have news from Dr. Biro on her findings.”
“And if it can’t be reversed?” Weir pressed.
“If it can’t be reversed, we’re all going to be learning to live with going furry every once in a while,” John informed her with a shrug. “Of all the things that could have happened out here in Pegasus, gaining the ability to be a wolf doesn’t bother me at all.”
“But you’ve lost your humanity!” Weir protested. “You were an animal.”
“By some measures, I’ve never been human, Dr. Weir,” John snapped. “I have ancestors who came from an entirely different species. Given my ability to interface with and use Ancient tech, I can only believe that I am more Ancient than I am human. Having the ability to change into a wolf isn’t going to change things for me. And while my form may be that of a wolf, I am still me.”
“And you, Rodney? Are you okay with this?” Weir asked. “You’re no longer human.”
“If I wasn’t okay with this, I would have totally made my displeasure know. I don’t keep that kind of thing to myself,” Rodney reminded her. He pointed at John and then waved his hand between the two of them. “And we’ve never been fully human. Colonel Sheppard is quite a bit more Ancient than I am, but you would do well to remember that even with my artificial activation gene, I’m still one of the strongest of the ATA gene users here in the city. That wouldn’t be the case if I wasn’t more Ancient than human. And neither Teyla nor Ronon have ever been the same version of human that you are. So, your bigotry is just dumb. And insulting.”
“What?” Weir spluttered.
“I didn’t stutter, did I?” Rodney asked. He turned to John and raised an eyebrow.
“No stuttering,” John confirmed. He leaned back and let Rodney take care of this issue. If it had been a physical threat to the team, he would have been okay with Ronon handling things, but this required a different touch. And it could not be his.
Rodney looked back at Weir and his expression got severe. “Every single ATA carrier has at least one Ancient ancestor. In the case of those with the highest percentage of the genome, they have more than one. Sheppard and O’Neill are both practically Ancient on a level that makes me question how often their family trees forked. Given my own percentage, I have to wonder about mine too.”
“But you’re from Earth,” Weir protested.
“And? What’s that got to do with anything? The Ancients retreated back to Earth when they abandoned Pegasus and lived out the last of their lives on Earth. Given that when they left the planet, homo sapiens hadn’t even evolved, there was no way that they introduced the ATA gene then. It had to have been introduced when they retreated from the Wraith,” Rodney reminded her. “We don’t know how they got the genome into humans, but the kindest may be kidnapping and then genetic tinkering. If they went the natural route? Well, that’s just creepy.”
“I don’t even know what to say to you,” Weir muttered as she stared at him.
“Good thing you don’t have to say anything, isn’t it?” Rodney asked. “General O’Neill has been informed of our new circumstances. So has the IOA. They are sending out the Daedalus to review things and see what can be done. All you need to do is let us go about our normal lives. We’ve got planets to explore, science to discover and maybe if we’re lucky, some Satedans to retrieve and Runners to save. That’s also not counting the work Teyla does to keep up her own alliances off-world. We have no right to keep her from doing so.”
“But I’m responsible for this whole expedition and I don’t feel like it’s safe if you leave the city!” Weir protested.
“Well until we’re totally cleared by Biro, I wasn’t planning on putting us back into rotation for away missions,” John told her. He flicked a hand over his shoulder at Lorne. “AR-2 and 3 will be picking up the slack from us, and at this time, there’s nothing on the schedule that has to be done by us. So, we have the time to get used to the changes in us. However, Teyla, due to her standing with her people, will need to be able to go through the gate in a week. If you remember, she has a harvest trading mission that was scheduled our first year and she can’t get out of it. It’s too important to her people and frankly, Atlantis, for her to miss it.”
“Major Lorne? Do you have anything to add to this?” Weir asked.
The sigh Lorne let out was quiet and John suppressed a smile at his XO’s long-suffering sound. “Go ahead and answer, Major.”
“Thank you, sir,” Lorne said after several seconds of silence. “Dr. Weir, unless I get orders from General O’Neill stating that there’s been a change to Colonel Sheppard’s status, he’s my CO and that means he’s in charge. My role here is to take over only if the colonel is incapacitated and then once he’s back at his duty station, to turn everything back over to him. We’ve done that. Colonel Sheppard is once again in charge of the military here on Atlantis and unless he’s incapacitated again, will be for the foreseeable future.”
“Thank you, Major,” John murmured. He stared at Weir and didn’t bother to suppress the threat assessment he ran on anyone not team or frankly, not his. And Weir was not one of his people and never had been. The smell of nerves increased and he had to work not to let his nose wrinkle at the pungent scent. “We’ll be going back to work. While AR-1 as a whole won’t be going out on missions, if we’re needed, we’ll certainly show up. And Teyla is going to go back to her normal schedule. If Ronon wants to go off-world, he can do that. And in fifteen days, we’ll report to medical to see if we transform again. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping journals of everything we notice so when the Daedalus gets here in eighteen days, we’ll have information to pass on to them. Thank you for the meeting, Dr. Weir.”
John stood up and turned around to walk out. Lorne was already on his feet and his team was only a heartbeat behind him. Walking out, he tilting his head slightly to hear whatever Weir was trying to say.
“She whimpered, right?” Ronon asked quietly.
“She did,” Teyla confirmed. She sounded faintly disapproving and John smirked slightly.
“Go, you, sir,” Lorne muttered. Clearing his throat, he raised his voice slightly so the whole of the command level could hear him. “Do you have any orders, sir?”
“Nope,” John said as he looked over the Gateroom and found it fully staffed and operating smoothly. “It looks like everything went by the numbers while I was down. I never expected anything different, Major. I know I can rely on you and our men to be on the ball.”
“Thank you, sir,” Lorne said, satisfaction thick in his voice.
John glanced at his team and smiled. “See you all at lunch?”
“Works for me,” Ronon said. He eyed Lorne briefly. “I’m normally training the Marines when I’m not out with the team?”
“They’ll be waiting in the gym you use,” Lorne promised.
Ronon grinned, hard and fierce. “Excellent.”
“Lunch,” Teyla agreed. She slanted her own glance at Lorne before eyeing John. “I believe I need to have a meeting with my people. I will do so after lunch to give Dr. Biro as much time as possible before I have to inform them of the changes to my person.”
“If you want us there to back you up, Teyla, let us know. We’ll be there,” Rodney promised.
The rumble of satisfaction that John let out was under the level most humans could hear, but he noticed that each member of his team turned slightly in his direction. Another check in the werewolf column. At this rate, they’d figure out how to change again, voluntarily.