When I was first offered the chance to go to Antarctica and lead the Atlantis project, I thought my life had reached its pinnacle of interesting things to do. I had negotiated peace treaties; I’d traveled the world; and I’d even been given command of the Stargate program at Cheyenne Mountain. But to study the Ancients, the ones who were, as Dr. Jackson stated with understated eloquence, the gate builders, I thought nothing could be more exciting than this.
And then we found the gate address to Atlantis itself.
Not so effusive, I know, but how do you sum up the feeling of finding the lost city of Atlantis and discovering it was in fact a flying city built by the progenitors of the human race? Add to it all the fact that I got to lead the expedition to said lost city, and wow was pretty much all I could come up with at the time.
I got to choose the best and the brightest to come with me. Those whose knowledge and skills would allow us the best chance to learn from, understand and bring back a wealth of information on the Ancients. Things that would help us advance humanity, bring peace, end hunger and all those bright hopes and dreams everyone has for us as a race.
So many nationalities all united in the common goal of exploration and discovery. So many brilliant minds, leaders and fore thinkers in so many different fields, the best and the brightest mankind had to offer. And they were all mine to command. I even got to have my choice amongst some of the military personnel accompanying us. I got Major John Sheppard, a man that practically sang with the ability to control Ancient technology thanks to the ATA gene.
John Sheppard. That name will invariably cause my mind to wander from my military commander to the head of my science team, Dr. Rodney McKay. They are the Pegasus galaxy’s version of Colonel O’Neill and Dr. Jackson—living legends, always in the thick of things and more often than not together. I now have an even greater appreciation of what General Hammond went through on a nearly daily basis with O’Neill and Jackson since acquiring a ‘dynamic duo’ of my own.
John and Rodney, oddly enough, remind me of a comedy routine when they are not ‘on duty’ and even when they are at times. The sniping and innuendo that pour from those two have me fighting to keep a straight face time and again.
Some of my staff are not nearly so disciplined as I when it comes to the ‘McKay and Sheppard show’, as it has been irreverently dubbed. Carson Beckett has cracked up more than once when John and Rodney really get into it, and Dr. Zelenka tends to make his own little comments in Czech. I wonder if Radek knows that I speak Czech and can well understand what he is saying? Peter Grodin smiles that knowing little smile of his that leaves me hard pressed not to answer in kind, and Sergeant Bates rolls his eyes, and his hands twitch as if wanting desperately to file a report on improper conduct of military personnel.
‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ seems a very long way from Atlantis right now. About as far away as Earth is.
I have never been more thankful that Atlantis is a civilian expedition than I am whenever I think of these two men. When I chose to lead this mission, I chose to leave Simon for the sake of humanity. Not a night goes by that I don’t think of him and feel the ache in my very bones at not having his quiet strength lying beside me, holding me and keeping me safe. My loss has made me appreciate love all the more, and seeing John and Rodney’s relationship begin, grow and mature into this beautiful thing that is between them has warmed me to the core and taken away some of the ache I have caused myself by walking away from my love. I will do everything in my power to protect these two and what they have built.
In fact I think I may have a little chat with the sergeant about just what ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ means. After all, it’s not like either man has ever announced that they were part of a couple or that they were anything other than friends and co-workers. Therefore, technically, no one has asked and no one has told.
John and Rodney are, perhaps, the greatest blessing I could have received for this expedition. Each man is brilliant in his own way, but together they give me faith that nothing is inconceivable. We will find a way home, and I have no doubt that these two men will play a huge part in that discovery.
It would only stroke Rodney’s ego to hear me say that I couldn’t have held Atlantis together as I have without him and his innate knowledge and understanding of all things Ancient. He is quite literally the one who keeps this city running, and now that he has the artificial gene therapy, he doesn’t need to have John around to ‘light things up’ for him.
John’s creativity and leaps of intuition astound me on a nearly daily basis. He has taken his role as protector of Atlantis so seriously, even to the point where he has disobeyed my direct orders. God, it pissed me off when he did that. And even then I couldn’t stay angry for long because he had saved our lives yet again with his ability to think outside the box.
I really don’t know when John and Rodney’s relationship changed from friends to partners, but if anything, it has given them a greater understanding of each other and has allowed them a greater insight into each other that has only benefited Atlantis as a whole and me as its leader.
I saw them earlier tonight. They were on the balcony just outside the command center. They weren’t doing anything untoward, not even standing particularly close together, simply standing there, talking quietly, and occasionally gazing up at the stars.
It was the peace that exuded from them that caught my attention and has led me on this late night ramble of the mind.
I know both of their personnel files inside and out. I memorized them long before we left Earth. Both men were misfits, neither able to fit into the proper mold of their chosen profession.
Rodney was arrogant, crass, brilliant, egocentric and had very little patience for fools—which was most of the population as far as he was concerned back then. To say that he was abrasive would have been an understatement. He was definitely not well liked.
John’s file was full of demotions, black marks and less than spotless service. His was definitely a checkered past. John had authority issues, tended to disobey orders when he thought he was in the right and was unapologetic about it. While John is a very nice man, jovial and relatively unflappable, he had no problems getting himself into trouble. In fact, I was warned repeatedly about him by everyone from Colonel Sumner to the President himself, not that I’d ever tell John that.
However, what I saw tonight was... beautiful. Two people, so different and so out of place in their old lives, were perfect together. They were content and happy and... loved. Not only by each other but also by everyone in our extended Atlantis family.
Maybe I won’t have to work so hard to protect them by myself if we ever get back to Earth. I have a feeling that I’ll have a lot of support. But I think I’ll still have that little chat with Bates, just to be safe.
Who would have thought that being the one to lead the most important scientific mission in the history of mankind meant that one of the roles I would have to take on was that of ‘den mother’?
But I wouldn’t change my job description for anything. Especially since it means watching good things like John and Rodney happen.
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