Notes: Now that the Canadian sergeant officially has a name, weíre changing it in the Rover-verse to match. Say hi to Chuck (even though heíll always be PTB to us).

The World According to Rover XXXI
Welcome Home

Orithain and Rina

June 2007

Disclaimers: We only wish they were ours. Sadly, this is as close as weíre going to get.

John stared at Helia, the captain of the Tria, in disbelief. "Lady, are you sure you werenít brain-damaged during your millennia-long flight? Itís bad enough youíre kicking us out of our home after we saved it from the Wraith after your people abandoned it, but if you think weíre leaving our carts here, youíre nuts."

"John," Elizabeth murmured, although she agreed with the sentiments.

"The devices are clearly Lantean," Helia began.

"You have a roomful of them to play with if you want, but weíre not leaving without our carts," Rodney snapped, resting a hand on Roverís sensor panel, his fingers tightening convulsively, and Rover clacked his pincers in agreement.

"I donít think you could force the carts to stay without the people theyíve bonded to anyway," John pointed out with one hand on Rover as well. "Whatever Janus originally intended, they have personalities and desires of their own, and theyíre our friends. If you try to keep them, weíll let them do whatever they want."

"As Dr. McKay said," Paul cut in, "there are many other carts, so surely the loss of half a dozen wouldnít negatively impact the city in any way."

"They belong to us," Helia said stubbornly, only to jump in surprise when Rover shot forward, pinched her calf viciously, and zipped back between Rodney and John, grasping the fabric of Rodneyís pants in his pincers.

"As you can see," John said, smirking, "Rover disagrees."

"I cannot see how the devices have that much initiative or individuality," Helia gasped, waving back the guards as they took a step forward. "I do not believe that we wish to keep such things in our home."

"Good, because they donít want to be here if we arenít here," Rodney muttered.

"Now that thatís settled, no offense, but donít call us, weíll call you," John said snidely, a hand in the small of Rodneyís back guiding him toward the door.

"I hope that youíll allow us time to gather our belongings before we cede the city to you," Elizabeth said, her voice calm but tension evident in the lines of her body.

"Of course," Helia replied, gracious in victory. "We donít wish to dispossess you of your belongings."

John snorted on his way out the door. "No, just the city we fought and died to protect. You know, the more I get to know Lanteans, the less I like them."

"I think their advances were a series of mistakes," Rodney hissed, still keeping a hand on Rover as they headed for their room. "In fact, I really, really believe theyíre all idiot savants!"

"You could have stopped at idiot," John growled, still furious at the Lanteans they had rescued and brought back to Atlantis.

"Good point." They passed others of the expedition, and they all wore the same expressionóangry shock.

"Sir?" Sgt. Bryan stepped forward, catching Johnís attention. "Is it true?"

John bit back a sigh as he stopped. "Iím afraid so, Sergeant. The Lanteans are reclaiming their city and evicting us, and Earth is going along with it. Youíd better start packing up your gear; I donít think theyíre going to wait long for us to leave."

"What a bunch of bullshit! Pardon me, sir," Chuck added quickly.

"I think we both agree," Rodney growled, "and Rover does too."

"The carts are coming with us," John put in quickly before anyone could ask. He started walking again, knowing that Rodney and Rover would follow.

"Bryan and Lorne have the same problem we do," Rodney sighed once they were in their room, having explained the situation at least half a dozen times on the way.

John sighed. "Itís going to be hard for us all to go back, in a lot of ways. Iím tempted to just go through the gate and stay here, but without Atlantis, we wouldnít have a chance in Pegasus."

"Too bad to stay on the planet we will not name, youíd have to breed with the local women," Rodney sighed, pulling John into a tight embrace while Rover pressed against their legs.

"Not happening!" John exclaimed.

"Damn right!"

"Donít worry; youíre the only one Iím sharing my genes with."

"You know, if I have a nightmare about being pregnant again, itís all your fault."

John laughed. "At least weíre leaving the device behind, so you never have to worry about it again."

"I should set it to change all of them and not change them back!"

John chuckled. "I donít think Elizabeth would approve, although I like the idea."

"Right now I donít think Elizabeth would care either."

"Youíre probably right," John agreed, "but why bother? Letís just get out of here before we lose the battle to control ourselves and shoot them all."

"Iím at the point of saying we should." Rodney spun away to stare out the windows over the surrounding ocean. "This isóitís home, John."

"I know," John said quietly, unhappiness clear in his voice. "I never intended to go back to Earth. But if we go to our island, we donít have access to a gate."

"I know," Rodney sighed, catching Johnís hand and pulling him forward. "I thought the only times weíd go back would be to visit, not to stay."

"Me too," John replied, wrapping his arms around Rodney. "Earth isnít home anymore, and itís going to feel very weird to go back to it."

Rodney leaned back against him as they both looked out the window, Rover settled beside them. "Not to mention the issues your military has withówith us."

"I may have to resign," John said slowly. "But weíll try it their way first, see if we can manage to continue our careers and keep our relationship at the same time."

"This is so fucking unfair! So goddamn, motherfucking, bullshitting unfair!" Rodney slammed a fist into the window, his shoulders heaving.

Johnís embrace tightened. "Do you want to stay? I know the Athosians would take us in. But there wouldnít be any labs or Ancient technology."

"Iím not quite cut out for the pastoral agrarian lifeóin between running from Wraith attacks, that is."

"I didnít really think so." John reached past Rodney to rest one hand on the wall, feeling the city respond to his touch and knowing how much he was going to miss that.

"Iím sorry," Rodney murmured, stroking the window, and knowing John would understand he was talking to the city. "And weíll find a way so that you donít have to resign either because we will be back, one way or another."

Rover banged on the wall in support.

"I hope youíre right," John said quietly. "I really do because I donít think either of us will ever feel right on Earth again."

"At the risk of sounding trite, Iíll say as long as Iím with you, itíll be right."

John chuckled faintly. "Good point. And we still have Rover." He looked around. "And a hell of a lot of packing to do. Weíre going to need a box for Roverís collection."

"Just one?" Rodney asked, turning his head to see Rover hovering by the shelves that held his shells and rocks, gathering them to him. "Donít worry, boy; we wonít leave them."

"Yeah, weíll need a couple. We want to make sure they donít get damaged." John sighed and let go of Rodney to go over and start putting clothes into his duffel.

"Yeah." Rodney stared out the window for a while longer then went to go begin his own packing, fighting the lump in his throat.

John suddenly slammed his fist into a dresser. "Damn it, this isnít fair. Why the hell did the IOA and the SGC go along with it? This is our home."

"I know," Rodney whispered, moving over to hug John from behind, resting his face against his shoulder. "I know."

"I never even got to fly the city."

"Youíll get to one day, I promise."

John smiled crookedly. "Iím going to hold you to that." He looked around the room almost helplessly.

"How about right now you just hold me and I hold you; this can wait."

John nodded, leaning back against Rodney. "Iím tempted just to hide in the city and stay. I know Atlantis would help me, even with them back."

"No. Iím not going to live here hiding out like some criminal, and neither are you."

"I hate when youíre logical." Even to himself, John sounded sulky.

"So what can I make you do to love me again?" Rodney asked, untucking Johnís shirt and running a hand over his tanned, taut stomach.

John inhaled sharply. "Thatís a step in the right direction," he said, neither of them noticing Rover continuing to pack for them and doing a much better job of it than either of them could.

"Touch the city, John," Rodney murmured, whispering the words against the curve of Johnís ear. "Touch her while Iím touching you."

John nodded jerkily, placing both of his palms against the wall and bracing himself while Rodney pressed closer, pushing his shirt higher and stroking his hands through the mat of dark hair there. "Tell me what you feel, what she feels like."

"What I feel is you! And the city, responding to me, alive and aware," John whispered. "How can they expect us to leave this?"

"Because theyíre idiots who care nothing about anyone but themselves for all they profess to be kind and benevolent." Rodneyís tone dropped to a growl, and he forced himself to calm down again. "If it wasnít for the whole insanity of Origin, Iíd be tempted to send the Ori a note about them."

John chuckled faintly. "Itís nice to think about, but I donít want the Ori to end up living here either."

"Maybe theyíd kill each other off." Rodney stopped speaking and kissed the side of Johnís throat, nuzzling the warm flesh as a shudder ran through him.

"Maybe you should just concentrate on me." John rocked back against him teasingly, causing Rodney to set his teeth against the skin under them and skim his hands downward, working on Johnís belt, then the button and zipper of his pants. John moaned with growing arousal when Rodney bit him, and one hand left the wall to reach back and curl around Rodneyís thigh.

"Just relax and feel it," Rodney whispered, pushing Johnís pants down along with his boxer briefs, then curling his hand around Johnís cock, slowly stroking his firm length.

"Wanna feel you," John murmured, his eyes falling closed as he concentrated on feeling Rodney.

"You will, youíll feel me and her," Rodney promised, kissing Johnís throat again before backing up to strip out of his clothes and grab the lube from the bedside table, pausing to pat Rover and murmur Ďthank youí when he realized what the cart was doing.

John braced himself with both hands against the wall again, arching his back to push his ass back at Rodney, and he spread his legs invitingly.

"God, you look amazing," Rodney whispered, pressing up behind John and rubbing against him.

"You feel amazing," John rasped, rocking back to meet Rodney, who groaned in response and ground against him. "Wanna feel you in me like the cityís in my head."

"Yes," Rodney whispered, slicking up his fingers and pressing them into Johnís ass, stretching him and brushing against his prostate at the same time. "Nothing else, just us."

John could only moan in reply, clenching down on Rodneyís fingers as he continued to move, finally pulling back and stroking lube on his cock, setting himself against Johnís ass, then pressing inside, gasping at the intimate connection.

"You feel so perfect in me," John rasped, clenching and relaxing around Rodney.

"Just the way you feel around me," Rodney nodded jerkily as he rocked back and forth, panting with each stroke.

"Made for each other," John agreed breathlessly.

"And weíll never lose that." One hand curved around Johnís hip to find and circle his cock, squeezing him in time with their strokes.

"Wonít let anyone take it from us," John panted, his body tightening with the mounting pleasure.

"Never," Rodney promised, moving faster and more spastically as he felt John clench around him.

John moaned, meeting the more rapid pace eagerly, and he cried out sharply as his climax began, the pulsing waves causing Rodney to gasp, then drive forward, slamming into John as they both came, and he reached for the city as well, lost in each other and her music.

Long moments passed before John raised his head, which had been hanging down as he fought to catch his breath. "Fuck, that was incredible."

"Yes, yes, it was," Rodney mumbled against his shoulder, biting his lip when he realized it was the last time they would share that intimacy here.

"Weíll be back; someday, weíll be back," John whispered.

Rodney nodded and placed his hand over Johnís where it rested on the wall, not sure if they were reassuring each other or the city.

John straightened up, feeling Rodney slip out of him, and he turned to face the other man, wrapping his arms around him. "Címon, one last perfect shower together."

"And then weíll see what Roverís left for us to pack."

"Knowing Rover, nothing. I just hope he kept our stuff separate since weíll have separate assigned quarters at the SGC till we get settled. Huh, I guess youíre going to have to get a house or something; I think the neighbors at your apartment might notice him."

"Maybe we can buy a duplex and break out the inner walls," Rodney tried to joke as they walked into the bathroom.

"It was a whole lot easier with the city helping us," John said wistfully. "But we might have to resort to that."

"I bet Rover would have it done in an hour."

"Heís our hero. And heíll help keep us sane."

"As sane as is possible anyway."

"As sane as is good for us." John sighed, thinking that soon they wouldnít be in Atlantis anymore, where insanity actually helped.

"I love you," Rodney said suddenly. "No matter what happens, where we go, I do."

"Likewise. I wonít let them keep us apart," John promised, tightening his arms around Rodneyís waist before kissing him lightly. "Although you may end up having to support us both."

"Does that mean youíll wear a cute little apron and meet me at the door with a martini in your hand at the end of a long day?"

John gawked at him before bursting into laughter. "You are a sick, sick man!"

"You say that like itís a bad thing," Rodney sniffed.

"Iím definitely never bored." John turned, keeping one arm around Rodney as he started toward the bathroom, intent on a shower.

The majority of Atlantisí support staff had left on the Daedalus, and the remaining expedition members, mostly those who had come with the original group, stood in the gate room, waiting for the Lanteans to dial Earth for their final trip home.

"I canna believe itís come down to this," Carson murmured, keeping a tight hold on Ciora.

"Nor I," Radek replied, one hand clutching Carsonís and the other on Reza, the babies all sitting on top of Ciora for the trip, aside from the one who, as usual, was with Reza.

"It feels so odd, so wrong, to be leaving," he said, looking down at where Rodney, John and Rover stood in a tight huddle, ignoring the Lanteans who were dispossessing them.

"Aye, with all thatís happened, having the Ancients push us out as if we were so much unwanted rubbish was the last thing I thought would ever happen."

"It is much like a kick in the pants," Radek agreed, sadly looking around the vast room for the last time. "They should not have been allowed to do this. I think after ten thousand years, their title has lapsed," he muttered.

"Sadly, I dinna think they care," Carson sighed as he watched the Ancients move around the gate room as if they had never left, and his hands closed convulsively on Ciora and Radek.

"Whereís Paul?" Rodney muttered from across the room. "I really doubt theyíll let Elizabeth claim him at some later date."

"Holy shit," John breathed, his eyes widening almost comically when he caught sight of Paul entering the room... followed by a cart.

"Paul?" Elizabeth looked as stunned as everyone else felt.

"Thought Iíd pick up a little something to help us with the housework," he chuckled, trying to ease the tension he could see radiating from her, then looking down as the cart pressed against his leg. "Can I keep her?"

"I donít think anyone could prevent that now," Elizabeth replied dryly, finally chuckling when Reza and Ciora zipped over to Rover, hemming him in to keep him away from the new cart. "Whatís her name?"

"We havenít decided," Paul admitted, pleased to see Elizabeth smiling.

"How about Paula?" Rodney called before sobering suddenly when the gate activated behind them.

"As all of you have now arrived, you must depart," Helia stated firmly.

"I hope the city sinks under them," John muttered, giving the Lantean a dirty look while Elizabeth took a deep breath and started toward the gate, Paul and his cart at her side.

"Works for me," Rodney answered, resolutely not looking back as they started for the gate as well, Rover rolling between them.

John reached over, squeezing Rodneyís fingers briefly before letting go to follow Elizabeth through the gate. Behind them, Radek snickered audibly when the lights dimmed slightly as John stepped through, knowing it was the cityís reaction to Johnís departure. He smirked at the startled Lanteans before he and Carson walked through as well, leaving Gen. OíNeill and Mr. Wolsey as the only humans in Atlantis.

"Area 51?!" Rodney squawked, staring at Gen. Landry. "What are you talking about?"

"Youíd be wasted here, Dr. McKay," Landry replied comfortably. "We have Col. Carter here as head of our science department, so your talents would be better utilized at Area 51."

"But I thought Ióweó" Rodney sputtered, gesturing toward Rover and himself. "Weíre used to going on missions."

"A terrible misuse of resources. Youíll be much more effective in the lab."

Rover stirred uneasily at his side, and Rodney took a deep breath to calm himself, knowing that he couldnít tell the general the real reason he wanted to stay at the SGC. "Ofóof course," he managed.

"Excellent. I realize this is short notice, so they wonít be expecting you there until Monday." Landry turned his attention to papers on his desk, clearly dismissing Rodney.

"What about the rest of my staff?"

Landry looked up again, exasperated. "You donít have a staff any longer, Dr. McKay. The Atlantis expedition no longer exists. The various scientists have been reassigned within the SGC or will return to their home countries."

"Oh yes, thatís right." Rodney bit his lower lip, looking momentarily lost, then nodded sharply. "Of course, itís understandable. IóIíll let you get back to your work."

Standing, he rested a hand on Roverís sensor array and walked out of the office and down the corridor, not noticing where he was going.

"Hey, Rodney, wanna goóWhatís wrong?" Johnís tone changed abruptly as he drew nearer and he got a good look at Rodney.

"Area 51."

"What about it?"

"Thatís where Ió" Rodney looked down when Rover pinched dejectedly at his pant leg, "where we are going; apparently weíre too important to send into the field."

John was left speechless, staring at Rodney in dismay. Heíd assumed that he and Rodney at least would stay together, even if it would have been weird to have two strangers in place of Teyla and Ronon. "B-butó" he stuttered.

Rodney reached a hand out, then quickly fisted it at his side. "Exactly what I said." He tried to give a strained smile. "I suppose that duplex will have to be somewhere between here and Nevada."

"Fuck!" John managed to keep his voice down, but his tone was no less intense for the lack of volume. "Iíll talk to OíNeill," he said desperately.

"Heís in Atlantis," Rodney reminded him, "where we belong."

"Fuck," John said again. "Well, heís due back in a couple of weeks. I suppose we can survive this that long." His expression was less hopeful than his words.

"We did when I came back to get Jeannie," Rodney nodded, not sounding any more convinced. "At least we can see her while weíre here."

"Maybe we can take some leave and go visit her next week," John suggested.

"We should pick something up for Madison," Rodney commented before grimacing as several people heíd never seen before pushed past them. "I hate this!"

"Me too." John grabbed Rodney by the elbow and hauled him toward a door, nearly slamming into it before remembering that it wouldnít open for him.

Rover pushed in front of them to open the door, then closed it behind them. "And I really hate not being able to do this," Rodney growled, pulling John in for a kiss.

"Me too!" John muttered fervently, wrapping his arms around Rodney and unashamedly clinging.

"Theyíre sending everyone except for a chosen few back to their home countries," Rodney muttered into Johnís throat. "And Iíd just gotten them all trained."

"Theyíre splitting us up?" John exclaimed, startled. "Why canít we go back to the Antarctic base? At least that has Ancient technology."

"I never thought Iíd say this, but Iím going to miss going on missions."

"And Iím going to miss you," John muttered unhappily.

"If you make me maudlin, I am going to kill you," Rodney muttered before tightening his arms around him. "Itís not as if we arenít going to see each other often." But often wasnít every day, and he knew it.

"We can do this," John said, clearly trying to convince himself, and Rover pressed against their legs, shivering.

"At least weíre in the same country. Carson and Radek are going to be continents apart," Rodney whispered.

"And Rezaís going to be far away from Rover and Ciora," John added, patting the cart.

"Cioraís going to have her pincers full trying to keep Loki, Jaffa, and Titan in line," Rodney nodded.

"Speaking of, Jackís really not happy about being here. This has to be really weird for him."

"Yes, he went to Atlantis so he wouldnít have to live in the older Jackís shadow, and now heís right back in it." Rodney shook his head and gave a soft laugh. "I suppose we arenít the only ones with problems because of this."

"Not even close to it. Lorne and Bryan are in the same position we are, and I know damn well there are a lot of others either in our position or about to be split up by these damn reassignments." John sighed. "If OíNeill canít fix this when he gets back, Iím going to resign."

"Is it terribly selfish of me not to tell you that you shouldnít do that?" Rodney asked.

"Iíd be worried that you were getting tired of me if you did. Of course, I may end up working for you since I doubt they want to let people who know about the program wander around loose."

"Working for me, eh? Are you going to put out to get good reviews?"

"Iíll put out any time," John laughed. "But only for you."

"Damn right, or Rover will come after you!"

"As if I have the slightest interest in anyone else," John snorted.

"I wish I could tattoo a big Ďproperty of Rodney McKayí on your forehead," Rodney grumbled. "And itís not you Iím worried about; itís them!"

John sighed laughingly. "Well, if I need to resign, I may let you. Itíd certainly get me out."

"Nah, if you have to do that, Iíll just plant a big, wet one on you in front of Landryóno, in front of Caldwell!" Despite the situation, Rodney snickered at the last.

"Well, that would certainly be more fun for me." John chuckled, and Rover banged a pincer against the wall in agreement.

"How about we worry about that if it comes down to it, okay?" Rodney asked, reluctantly drawing back away from John and sighing. "Make sure you get Bates or Lindstrom or Cadman or OíNeill on your team, okay? Or preferably all of themóat least I know theyíre all semi-competent."

"Assuming I have any choice of who I get, Iíll try to get a pair of them," John agreed. "And now, much as I hate to say it, we should probably head out of here before someone comes looking for us."

"Yeah, having you Ďcoming out of the closetí probably isnít the best way to start off your time here," Rodney sighed and kissed John again before stepping back away from him, Rover rolling to his side.

"I wish I could," John said before squaring his shoulders and opening the door to step into the hall.

"So? How was it?" Rodney asked in between bites of pizza that had gone cold several hours before.

"I hate this. Iím going to die of boredom; the idiots on my team are going to kill themselves tripping over their own feet; and I miss you!"

"I miss you too," Rodney sighed. "And they can kill themselves as long as they donít get you hurt!"

"One guy sprained an ankle tripping over what I think was the only rock on the whole damn planet!"

"Okay, thatís worse than I ever was."

"Yes! And theyíre not funny or hot to make up for it! Fuck, Rodney, this is worse than I ever expected."

"Tell me about it," Rodney muttered. "Everyone here is soóso boring! All they do is work, and itís driving me crazy!" There was a faint banging noise from behind him, and Rodney gave a soft chuckle. "And Rover misses you too."

"I miss him too. Howíre the people there dealing with him? Or rather, how badly is he terrorizing them?"

"Letís just say he and I have both had to strongly dissuade people who thought taking him apart would be worth the effort."

John winced. "How many pieces are they in, and do I need to bail you out?"

"Thanks for the offer, but weíre goodóat least as good as can be expected. I did talk to Jeannie today; she sends her love."

"Thatís good. You should go visit her. Just donít forget Maddieís present."

"I wouldnít make it in the door if I did," Rodney nodded. "Any chance of you getting a few days off and coming with me?"

"I wish," John sighed. "I donít think theyíre planning to let me out of here before the second coming."

"Iíd settle for a first coming," Rodney muttered.

"Me too! I want you so bad I can taste it. Taste you."

"Feel you," Rodney groaned.

"Damn it, we should be together. Come visit this weekend?" John almost begged.

"Wild Wraith couldnít keep me away," Rodney promised. "And I suppose Rover could stay with you if Iím going to see Jeannieóow!"

"Iím going to guess that Rover doesnít approve of plans to leave him behind?" John chuckled.

"Not really," Rodney grumbled while Rover banged his pincer on the desk.

"And youíre surprised? Bring him along; Jeannieís already met him, and Maddieíll love him."

"And how am I supposed to get him there?"

"Hmm, if they let me out of here, I can fly you up."

"Want me to put in a request?" Rodney asked, trying to laugh it off but sounding wistful.

"Yeah, maybe weíll get lucky. I need to get away from this place for a while."

"Fuck, and itís only been a few weeks."

"I donít fit here anymore, Rodney. Earth just feels wrong."

"Howís Carson doing?" Rodney asked after a moment.

"Heís frustrated. They donít think the Wraith research is important anymore now that weíve pulled back to the Milky Way, so they have him working on finding things to use against the Ori. And as he said, the Ori are non-corporeal, so itís pretty much just make work."

"What about the others?"

"I hardly ever see them; weíre all on different schedules. I did see Loki the other day, and Iíd swear he was drooping."

Rodney sighed and slurped from his mug of coffee. "I talked to Radek yesterday, and he sounded the same way," he admitted. "None of us belong here any more."

"Have you heard from Elizabeth? Iíve called her a couple of times, but I keep getting voicemail." Johnís frown was audible in his voice. "Iím glad she has Paul with her."

"You didnít hear? Heís in Washington. I tried to call her after I found out but didnít get an answer either..."

"Crap, maybe we should postpone that visit to Jeannie and get together with Elizabeth instead. Carson too."

"I like that ideaóthis weekend?"

"Sounds good. Itíll do us all good."

"You tell Carson, and Iíll harangue Elizabeth until she agrees?"

"Sounds like a plan. Take no prisoners," John chuckled.

"And then weíre going somewhere private and take turns taking each other."

"Oh good, neither of us will be able to sit down on Monday."

"Monday?" Rodney chuckled, "Iím planning on being that way by Sunday."

"Iím not planning to get out of bed on Sunday, so I wonít notice."

Rodney groaned at the thought and shifted in his chair.

"Exactly," John said. "Iím already hard just imagining everything weíre going to do."

Thereís always phone sexóagain," Rodney chuckled.

"Naw, itís only a couple more days. Itíll be all the better for waiting. Besides, itís frustrating to open my eyes and realize youíre not with me."

"I know. So, Iíll deal with Elizabeth; you get Carson and make the reservations; and Iíll see you Friday evening?"

"See and feel me. Love you."

"Rodney!" John grabbed him and yanked him into the apartment, kissing him hard even as he kicked the door shut behind Rover.

"God, John," Rodney groaned, holding him close as Rover pressed against their legs, shivering.

"Iíve missed you both so much. We canít keep doing this," John rasped, holding Rodney just as tightly.

"I know, I know," Rodney nodded, nuzzling Johnís throat. "I canít think; I canít work."

"I came very close to shooting Landry today." John curved his hands over Rodneyís ass and drew him closer.

"Why?" Rodney slid a hand under Johnís shirt and stroked his back.

"Because he makes me keep those idiots on my team. Team! Ha!" John buried his face against Rodneyís throat, inhaling his scent.

"This is what I canít take, worrying that those idiots are going to get you captured or hurt or killed or worse!"

"And I canít stand going out to gather plant samples when galaxies are at war!"

"Any word from OíNeill?" Rodney mumbled against his neck. "Old OíNeill, not young one."

"No, nothing yet. Apparently the Lanteans," John sneered the word, "arenít in any hurry."

"Of course they arenít," Rodney said snidely, "they have all the time in the damn world."

"Thatís because they own the damn world since they stole it from us."

"I hope the towers fall down on them."

"A plague would be nice. One that killed them off and gave us back our city."

"Could we talk Carson into sending that UA virus through?"

"You know, we probably could at this point."

Rodney sighed at that and pulled back enough to look John in the eye. "I know we donít mean it, but I almost wish we did."

"Me too. Hey, we have time for a quickie before we go." John leered at him comically.

"Then why are we standing here?" Rodney demanded before shaking his head. "No, no, right now I just want to hold you and talk to youóand no, I never thought Iíd be saying such a thing!"

John chuckled a little shakily. "I know what you mean though. I think I miss that even more than the sex. I keep turning to say something to you, but youíre not there."

"Exactly!" Rodney exclaimed as they walked over to the couch and sat down without losing contact with each other. "And itís the same in the lab; they wonít even argue with me."

"Sic Rover on Ďem," John suggested, slowly relaxing now that he had Rover and Rodney with him.

"I tried," Rodney sighed as they half turned, ending up sprawled out across the couch, "one of them started crying; it made Rover feel bad." The cart shuddered in response.

"How the hell are we ever going to get comfortable here again?" John muttered, pulling Rodney on top of him and sighing with pleasure at the familiar weight.

"I donít know about you, but Iím pretty comfortable right now," Rodney answered, deliberately misunderstanding the question as he stroked Roverís sensor panel, then Johnís hair.

"Yeah, this is good," John agreed, his eyes falling half shut as he luxuriated in the moment. One of his hands came to rest on Rover as well, and he sighed with contentment. "I donít ever want to move."

"Sounds good to me, but Carson will be here in a while, and it took me a hell of a lot of talking to get Elizabeth to promise to meet us, so we have toóbut once we get back, we can not move all we want."

"I think once we get back, weíre going to want to do a lot of moving. But then we can not move," John said, lazily stroking Rodneyís back and ass. "And we can do this for a while before we have to go meet Carson and Elizabeth."

"Works for me," Rodney sighed, nuzzling the crook of Johnís neck and idly playing with his dog tag chain, making John sigh and relax even more.

"Good thing we have Rover to remind us when we have to leave. Oh, that reminds me. Rover, that box in the cornerís for you," John said, turning his head to watch the cart.

"Oh, fine, you bring him presents but not me," Rodney grumbled without heat as he watched Rover wheel over to the box and open the lid flaps. He reached inside, then his sensor lights started blinking with excitement as he drew out a pink and white crystalline rock with a small piece of paper attached to it.

"You get me," John replied, nuzzling Rodneyís throat. "Rover gets something from each world I visit."

"And I think you made him very happy," Rodney murmured, watching the cart sift through the box, removing each rock and examining it closely before carefully setting it aside and picking up another one.

"Well, he needed something to entertain him while weíre out. Although Iím hoping Carson might bring Ciora over."

"Hrmm, we might come back to more baby carts then," Rodney chuckled.

John laughed. "Radek might have kittens when he finally gets back here then." Like the other former members of the Atlantis expedition, John chose to believe that they would somehow get back together.

"Never mind Radek, think of what Reza might do!" Rodneyís smile died away, and he sighed. "I talked to him earlier this week; I think heís bored out of his mind and missing Carson."

"Iím sure he is. Iím pinning all my hopes on OíNeillís return," John said. "Unlike Landry, heís been on a gate team; he knows that separating us all like this is wrong."

"Well, considering that heís separated from Daniel right now, that fact will really sink in for him."

"Good point. And hopefully one that will get him back sooner rather than later."

Rodney nodded and nuzzled Johnís neck as he watched Rover sort through his presents. "Exactly," he sighed.

"At least we have this to tide us over."

"Yes, but Ďthisí is a lot less than weíre used toóand I know, itís a lot more than some of us have."

"I wasnít going to say that. I agree that itís not enough, nowhere near enough. What I meant was having this is all that keeps me from going batshit."

"Same here," Rodney mumbled. "Work isnít enough for me anymore."

John chuckled, trying to lighten the atmosphere. "I think I must be hearing things. That or Iíve just heard the first sign of the coming apocalypse."

"Oh, very funny, Colonel," Rodney sniffed before deliberately biting Johnís shoulder.

"I thought we didnít have time for that?"

"Think of it as an appetizer."

"Tease," John chuckled warmly.

"You think thatís teasing, Colonel?" Rodney murmured, wriggling on top of the other man.

"Bastard!" John gasped, grabbing Rodneyís ass to hold him still. "I donít need to be greeting Elizabeth with a hard on!"

"Well, I could do something about itóif you asked nicely..."

"I thought we were waiting till after dinner?" John said, one eyebrow arching in question.

"You have been going out risking life and limb to collect those dangerous plant samples," Rodney murmured, wriggling against John again.

"Good point, Iíve been in serious danger," John agreed, letting his legs fall open so Rodney could settle between them.

"Exactly," Rodney murmured, catching Johnís mouth in a kiss before slowly scooting down his body, pushing his shirt up out of the way to kiss his chest.

"Mmm," John purred, his back arching at Rodneyís touch.

"And you took time out to find things for Rover; that deserves extra attention." As he spoke, Rodney licked at Johnís nipples, catching one between his teeth and tugging lightly at it.

"I wouldnít dream of arguing with you," John gasped, grabbing on to Rodneyís shoulders.

"Oh, very good answer, John." Dragging the edge of his teeth over the now distended nipple, Rodney wormed his way lower, getting his hands between them to tug at Johnís belt and pants, pulling them both open.

"God, you feel so good," John rasped, watching Rodney through heavy-lidded eyes as Rodney managed to free his cock and licked a stripe over the head, groaning at the flavor. "Love you," he whispered, his hands moving to Rodneyís head to pet the soft hair.

Rodney groaned again in answer, opening his mouth to take John deeper, his hands petting Johnís hips and chest as he did so, and John moaned, starting to move in a slow rhythm. He rocked into Rodneyís mouth, biting his lip to distract himself from the pleasure he never wanted to end.

"John," Rodney moaned, taking him even deeper, licking and sucking at the hot flesh.

"Rodney, fuck, yes," John gasped in response, his hips moving a little faster as he pushed into Rodneyís mouth. In answer, Rodney sucked harder, lifting Johnís hips to get him to move more, and with that permission, John immediately started fucking Rodneyís mouth, groaning with every thrust into the wet warmth.

Relaxing his throat as much as possible, Rodney rocked against Johnís thrusts, petting and stroking his hips and finally reaching around to pet his balls, which made John cry out and come.

After swallowing down the gouts of liquid, Rodney pulled back, licked his lips, and smiled. "Now thatís an appetizer," he murmured.

John pulled him up and kissed him hungrily, groaning as he tasted himself in Rodneyís mouth. "Itís only fair..." he started before he was interrupted by a knocking on the door.

"Oh, now thatís bad timing," he grumbled.

"Youíre telling me!" Rodney whined, half-rolling off the sofa and getting to his feet, at the same time adjusting his pants. "You get it; Iím going to be in the washroom."

"Damn it," John groaned, eyeing Rodney hungrily and seriously considering ignoring the door in favor of going down on him, but Rover took the choice from him as he zipped forward to pull the door open, revealing Carson and Ciora.

"Were we interrupting anything?" the doctor mused, glancing at Johnís disheveled appearance, and John flushed, hitching his pants up more despite knowing that heíd already settled them in place as Rover raced for the door.

"You could say that," he replied dryly. "Though it looks like it was none too soon for Rover and Ciora," he added with a smile as he watched the carts huddle together in a corner of the room.

"Aye, well, I envy them that, and you as well," Carson snorted.

Johnís smile faded. "I suppose once every few weeks is better than not knowing how many months it might be."

Carson winced at that and reached out to pat Johnís shoulder. "Och, I dinna mean to make ye feel guilty, lad. Iím happy that ye and Rodney can see each other."

"Weíll keep working on the higher ups to get Radek back over here," John promised. "Rodney misses him too."

"I do not!" Rodney huffed as he came down the hallway. "Itís that heís marginally smarter than the idiots I have to work with now."

"Of course, dear," John soothed. "Forgive me for ever thinking you might do something so humdrum as liking someone."

"Exactly!" Rodney smirked before glancing at Carson. "Are you doing all right?"

Carson half shrugged helplessly. "As well as might be expected. If Radek were here, I could almost get used to it."

"Almost," Rodney nodded.

"Well, I canít. And couldnít," John said emphatically. "Everything here feels wrong. I canít feel the city anymore, and I hate it."

Rodney reached out to take his hand, pulling him into a hug as Rover and Ciora rolled over to join them. "This sucks."

"Aye, I never thought Iíd miss the city, but I do."

John nodded, holding on to Rodney. "Me too. And Iíll bet Elizabeth does too, so letís get to the restaurant so she doesnít have the chance to leave again because weíre not there." He patted Rover and Ciora briefly, smiling when one of the babies rose to peer at him before settling back on his coffee table.

"Well, youíre the one with the car, so drive!"

"Pushy," John stated, though the fondness in his tone took any sting from it.

"Are ye saying thatís something new?" Carson asked, chuckling as they walked out into the hall.

"Hardly. I might not recognize him without it."

"This I havenít missed!"

"Aw, you know I love you."

"Ye know, if the two of ye start billing and cooing again, Iím going to dinner without ye!" Carson scowled though there was a light of laughter in his eyes.

"I am not a pigeon!" John looked revolted by the thought.

"And we are not sappy, which is what youíre implying!"

Carson pressed his lips together to keep from laughing aloud, and John gave him a look of disgust. "Youíve been hanging around with scientists too long, Carson."

"And just what is wrong with that?" Rodney sputtered.

"Scientists have a negative effect on social skills."

"And you really want to get laid tonight?"

"What?" John widened his eyes in innocent inquiry. "I said scientists. Youíre Rodney McKay, in a class by yourself. You werenít lumping yourself in with every other scientist, were you?"

Carson snickered when Rodney stared at John, for a moment speechless, before clearing his throat and smirking. "Yes, well, disregard the no getting laid tonight then."

"Already forgotten," John assured him.

"Lovely, can we go meet Elizabeth now?"

"If you get in the car." John smirked at him.

Rodney sputtered as Carson climbed into the back seat, then finally settled in the front, buckling his seat belt while going on about insane military people.

"Thatís why you love me," John replied cheerfully as he started the car and headed for the restaurant, Rodney scowling at him the whole way there while Carson chuckled from the back seat.

Once they were parked, John leaned across the seat, curled a hand round the nape of Rodneyís neck and kissed him until he sighed and relaxed.

"Fine, fine, thereís the appetizer; letís go get dinner."

"Itíll be good to be together again," John said, coming around the car and taking Rodneyís hand.

"Hopefully Elizabeth will think so as well," Carson said as they all walked up to the restaurant, then inside.

"Well, Iím sure sheíd rather that Paul... Shit, she looks terrible," John said under his breath when he caught sight of her already waiting at a table.

"She looks like she hasnít slept in weeks!" Rodney hissed while Carson shook his head.

"I think weíve found out who misses Atlantis more than you do, John."

"Why the hell isnít Paul with her when sheís dealing with this?"

"Because your lovely government seems to enjoy keeping people apart!" Rodney hissed as they approached the table, Elizabeth still not seeming to have noticed them. John winced at the comment, but he couldnít deny that many of the couples from the Atlantis had been separated on their return to Earth.

Elizabeth finally looked up and noticed them, and she smiled in welcome, getting to her feet to hug them.

"How are ye, lass?" Carson asked as he hugged her, only to be pushed aside by Rodney before he got an answer.

"Obviously sheís missing Atlantis just as we are," he snorted before pulling back to look at her, frowning mightily as he did so. "We need to stage a coup of the SGC."

"Never mind the SGC, itís the returned absentee landlords we need to get rid of," John grumbled, cautious in his phrasing due to the many people around her.

"Iím starting to wish weíd done that when they first showed up and started making their demands," Elizabeth agreed as she reseated herself.

"And what were we supposed ta do with them?" Carson asked as they all took seats around the table.

"Taking them up in a puddlejumper and shoving them out the door sounds good to me," John muttered.

"Making sure they leave the ZPMs, of course," Rodney added.

Elizabeth startled all of them, including herself, by giggling.

"True, we should get something out of all this," John agreed before picking up his menu.

"Damn right!" Rodney exclaimed, and Carson shook his head as he waved a waiter over and ordered a bottle of wine.

"Have you heard from Paul at all, Elizabeth?" John asked, wondering how they were going to be able to get him back where he belonged.

She nodded, the mirth falling from her face at that. "Yes, it seems they want him to stay and clarify some details for the Joint Chiefsówhile keeping them from trying to dissect Pandora."

"We should have stayed with Teyla and Ronon. With Rodney and Radek on our side, we could have developed a base." John reached over to squeeze her hand briefly.

"Radek doesnae like to go off-world," Carson reminded them with a melancholy smile.

"This is pretty far off-world, off our world," John pointed out.

"And heíd be with you," Rodney added.

Carson nodded and sighed. "Which would make up for many things."

Before anyone could say anything, Elizabethís cell phone rang, followed in rapid succession by Johnís and Rodneyís.

Watching and listening as the others answered, Carson grew more and more frustrated with trying to understand what was going on. "Well?" he demanded.

"Weíll tell you on the way. Come on, we need to go pick up Rover and Ciora," John said, standing up.

"What the blue blazes is going on?" Carson demanded as the others rose and started for the door, all moving at a hurried clip.

"The UAs attacked Atlantis. We have to get to the SGC," John replied tersely.

"As the thought-they-were-all-knowing Ancients are getting their asses shot off," Rodney growled.

"Yes, well, theyíre doing it in our city," John pointed out.

"Oh Lord," Carson whispered.

"We need to get back there and fix this."

"Just what have the idiots done?" Rodney growled when the four of them along with Rover and Ciora made it to Landryís office.

"I hardly think that being invaded by other Ancients make the Ancients idiots," Landry replied.

"I do," John retorted. "And itís UAs, not Ancients."

"Them kicking us out of our home makes them idiots," Rodney added.

"So whatís the rescue plan?" John asked, making everyone sit up and pay attention.

"There is no rescue, Colonel. I have standing orders to destroy Atlantis in the event of a foothold situation; I would like you to tell me how to accomplish that."

"Destroy Atlantis?" Rodney almost shrieked. "You canít!"

"We wonít!" John exclaimed as Rover clacked his pincers in punctuation.

"Surely we can contact Atlantis," Elizabeth began.

"I have my orders, Doctor, and they have a very good reason."

Carson frowned as he leaned forward, one hand on Cioraís sensor array. "And that would be?"

"Whoever holds Atlantis holds the only gate from Pegasus to Earth, to the entire Milky Way. I donít think we want Wraith and UAs overrunning the White House," Landry snapped.

"Then we should try to save the city, not destroy it!"

"The Daedalus is two days out from Atlantis. She will nuke the city," Landry stated. "All I want from you is intel on where best to strike."

"I cannot believe this!" Rodney hissed once they were all alone.

"We have to stop this. If no one else will, we have to save the city," John said, and Elizabeth was already nodding before he finished speaking.

"But how?" she asked.

"Can it even be done from here?" Carson asked.

"No, weíre going to have to get through the intergalactic bridge before Landry has it destroyed," John said. "We need to get the jumper."

Rodney frowned slightly. "We need gate access to do that."

"We need to get access to the jumper, steal it, and get through the gate. Any ideas?"

"I have one that might get us gate access," Rodney said a few moments later, "if Elizabeth is willing to be a diversion..."

"Sheís a married woman, man!" Carson gasped.

"Iím not pimping her out!"

"No one here could afford me."

Rover and Ciora both pinched John, who was nearly falling out of his seat with laughter.

"Hey! Be nice or youíll have to rely on Rodney or Carson to pilot you!" he warned them, still snickering.

"Hey!" Rodney exclaimed while Rover raised a pincer as if volunteering for the piloting job himself.

"Rodney, even you admit that you cannot fly a straight line."

"As I was saying," Rodney sniffed, ignoring John, "with your help, Elizabeth, I can get us through the gate if the colonel can figure out a way for us to get the jumper."

"What will Ciora and I be doing?" Carson asked.

"Youíll be coming with us to retake the city. The two of you are one third of our army at the moment." John sighed. "Well, impossible situations are our specialty."

"Exactly," Elizabeth nodded. "So, gentlemen, letís get our plans worked out and save our city."

"Teyla and Ronon are really going to be surprised to see us," John observed as the jumper exited the gate on the new planet where the Athosians had settled after theyíd all been evicted from Atlantis.

"Unless the Wraith got them," Rodney said darkly before yelping when Rover pinched him.

"Iím sure theyíre fine," Elizabeth said. "This is the life they were accustomed to before we arrived in the city."

"Oh Lord," Carson suddenly said, "if Radek calls, heíll have no idea where I am!"

John looked over his shoulder in surprise. "You didnít call him?"

"I dinna have my cell phone, and this wasnít quite the thing I wanted to be saying over the phones at the SGC!"

"True, but you could have asked Rodney to encrypt a message for you. Oh well, weíll get our city back, and then you can tell him yourself when he comes back."

"If we come back," Carson gulped.

"Excuse me," Rodney snapped, "Iím the pessimist here!"

"No stealing Rodneyís things, especially not Rover or me," John said, trying to make them laugh.

"As if Iíd want either one of ye!" Carson exclaimed.

"Gentlemen, do I have to separate you?" Elizabeth sighed.

John snickered as he watched Ciora fend off Roverís attempt to pinch Carson. "Youíll never know what youíre missing."

"Damn right he wonít!" Rodney muttered as Rover diverted himself to pinch John instead.

"Hey! Pincers to yourself! I wasnít offering us to him," John grumbled as he brought the jumper to a landing just outside the Athosian village.

"Obviously not," Elizabeth said before either Rodney or Carson could answer.

"Looks like our arrival has been noticed," John observed, seeing Teyla, Ronon and Halling heading toward them at a rapid pace, with Jinto on their heels.

"Well, at least someoneís happy to see us," Rodney muttered.

No one bothered answering as they spilled out of the jumper to greet their friends. Ronon and John clasped arms, both grinning like loons, while Teyla and Elizabeth touched foreheads, and Jinto threw himself at Rodney, hugging him fiercely as Halling beamed at them all.

"It is good to see you all," the tall Athosian said.

"Itís good ta be back," Carson replied for them all, being the only one not busy at the moment.

"Have you come to stay?" Jinto asked as Rover tugged him back off of Rodney. John moved between them and hugged the boy.

"Thatís the plan. This is our home now," John said, trying not to laugh when Ronon grabbed Rodney and hugged him, lifting him off his feet and making him sputter, though he grinned when he thought no one was looking.

"Then please, come back to camp and we can discuss your plans," Teyla offered after hugging Carson.

"We plan to take Atlantis back," John replied bluntly.

"That sounds like a good plan to me," Ronon said equally bluntly.

"So youíre willing to help us?" Elizabeth asked.

"Of course we are," Teyla answered.

"And then there were six," Rodney murmured before yelping when Rover poked him. "Sorry, eight."

"Never forget Rover. And Ciora," John chuckled, patting Roverís sensor array. "Theyíre our secret weapon."

"And very welcome additions," Teyla smiled. "We have missed them."

"Except for the pinching," Ronon put in.

"You know," John mused, "with the general in the city, under attack by UAs, Iíll bet he has a cart of his own by now."

Rodney snickered at the thought.

"Iím sure heíll have a great deal to say about that," Elizabeth said, sounding amused.

"And I doubt any of it will be repeatable," Carson added as he stroked Cioraís housing.

"Which will make it all the more interesting. Although Iím not sure weíre ready for a cart named Bart Simpson," John laughed.

"That isnít a ĎJí name," Rodney protested.

"This is Jack OíNeill. Have you ever known him to follow the rules?"

"It still should be a ĎJí name," Rodney muttered.

"I think weíll let you be the one to tell Gen. OíNeill that," Elizabeth said with a slight smile.

"And I want to see it," Ronon commented.

"On camera," John said, remembering watching Radekís reaction when Rodney painted Reza and sent her to him that first night. "Itís much safer."

"Perhaps we should discuss how we are going to get into the city?" Teyla offered.

"Well, we know that the jumpers are designed for underwater travel as well," John started. "So it stands to reason that there should be underwater landing bays too. Of course, we do still have to come through the gate and get out of the gate room without being killed by the UAs, but the cloak should help with that."

"As long as they havenít discovered my back door program for opening the shield," Rodney added.

"Well, if they have, weíll never know it," John said, making Carson look somewhat ill, as did Elizabeth.

"Thank you, Mr. Optimism!" Rodney groaned.

"Hey, Iím optimistic. Iím assuming weíre not going to go splat like bugs on a windshield."

Rodney snorted at that and leaned back. "So, letís plan this thing."

"Guerilla warfare," John said. "As far as I can see, itís our only option. Once weíre in the city, weíll have to get the UAs out, possibly one by one. This isnít going to be easy."

"If we can get to the medical labs, there is the virus," Carson put in soberly.

"Which may save us that war of attrition John was just describing," Elizabeth said. "We have to hope so, at least."

John nodded. "Sorry, Carson, I guess Iíve gotten used to shooting wars."

"Honestly, Iíd much rather not use it myself, but there are times when drastic measures are called for," the doctor sighed.

"And this is one of those times," Elizabeth agreed. "Weíll need to find out if any of Heliaís crew are still alive first though. We donít want to kill them."

"Wanna bet?" John muttered. He returned Elizabethís stare mutinously. "Well, this is all their fault. We managed to keep the UAs out of the city, but these idiots come back, kick us out of the city, and manage to lose it to the UAs in less than a month! Forgive me if their fate isnít my primary concern."

"Perhaps, but we should worry about the UAs first, shouldnít we?" Carson asked.

"Theyíre the bigger threat," Ronon nodded, giving a slight smile when Rover clacked his pincers viciously.

Elizabeth nodded slowly. "I agree. Although I would prefer that we try not to kill the Ancients if at all possible."

John shrugged. "As long as it doesnít compromise the mission."

"And as long as it gets us back in control of Atlantis," Rodney grumbled.

"Thatís the plan," John agreed.

"The only plan," Elizabeth murmured wryly. "Oh, Halling, weíll need to leave the baby carts here while we go to Atlantis. Jinto, we thought you could look after them for us."

Jinto agreed eagerly and Halling nodded his approval.

"Ye do realize the more we talk of it, the more nervous I become," Carson sighed.

"Then stop talking and letís start doing," Ronon said.

"Can we finish eating?" Rodney asked plaintively.

"Is the cloak on?"

"No, Rodney, I thought it would be fun to go through and let the UAs see us so they could shoot at us." John didnít even look up as he started the jumper toward the gate.

"Oh yes, thatís just so funny," Rodney grumbled, swallowing hard as he started working on his own laptop. "I hope they didnít delete the backdoor I put in."

"They underestimate us," John pointed out. "I doubt theyíd even think to check."

"Yes, but if they did..."

"Rodney!" Elizabeth said sharply as Rover poked him in the leg.

"Weíve talked about glass half empty, half full, Rodney," John said. "Quit it."

Rodney glowered at him but kept typing, finally making a triumphant sound. "Weíre in."

"Told you so," John said, but he reached over and squeezed Rodneyís hand.

From behind them, Carson sighed. "Can we go now, lads?"

"Please make sure your seat backs are in their upright positions and your tray tables are locked," John said, nodding at Rodney and then heading through the gate after Rodney dialed.

"Oh my god, this is such a bad idea," Rodney muttered as they appeared in the gate room, looking out the viewport at a roomful of UAs, all scrambling to try and find just what was accessing the gate.

John steered the jumper around the UAs, managing to get them out of the gateroom without hitting anyone. Once outside the city John activated the radio. "Gen. OíNeill?"

"Col. Sheppard? Are you contacting me from orbit on the Daedalus?"

"Nope, a jumper outside the city."

"Ahh. And there are reinforcements on the Daedalus, right?"

"Well, possibly, but the Daedalus isnít here yet."

"This isnít exactly officially sanctioned," Elizabeth put in.

"Dr. Weir, is that you?"

"Not just her," Rodney put in."

"Oh, so we have Sheppard, McKay, and Weir. Well, weíre on easy street now."

"Teyla, Ronon and Dr. Beckett are here too," John said.

"Dr. Beckett you say; well, I feel better already."

"What did ye mean by that?!" Carson protested in the background.

"Is Mr. Wolsey with you?" Elizabeth asked.

"Yes, he is, and... a cart as well," Jack sighed before Rodney cut in excitedly.

"You have one, excellent!"

"Ha, I knew it!" John laughed. "So whatís his name? Or is it her?"

"Bart," Jack growled.

"But, but you canít name it that!"

"Told you so!" John crowed.

"You know, as much as I love all this idle chitchat, am I wrong in hoping thereís some kind of plan to get us out of here?"

"We have a plan," John assured him. "Weíll get back to you in about an hour."

"Well, weíll be here. OíNeill out."

John glanced over at Rodney. "Do you really think thisíll work?" he asked, sending the jumper toward the water.

"If everything goes well, of course, otherwise..."

"Think positive!" everyone on the jumper chorused.

"I am! We just need to get to the docking point and get in the city and..."

"We know what we should do, Rodney," Teyla said gently.

"And then we just need to get to the lab. Thereís the underwater dock ahead," John added, veering toward it.

"Just let meóhrmm."

"Hrm? What hrm? Words, Rodney!"

"Nothing, nothing, it was just a little slow in responding; weíre good."

"Donít do that!" John grumbled.

"Oh, go dock the jumper."

John laughed. "What do you think Iím doing?" He landed the jumper, then looked over at Rodney. "Draining the water and opening the inner doors would be good."

"Iím trying!" Rodney protested, entering a sequence of commands, then repeating the keystrokes in a more forceful manner. "We seem to have a problem."

Everyone turned to stare at him, including Rover and Ciora. "Define problem," John ordered.

"The water isnít draining out."

"I donít think any of us are amphibious."

"Which is why this is a problem!" Rodney snapped. "Fine, fine, Iíll open the outer doors, and we can try to get in some other way."

"That would be a good idea. I donít think weíre going to retake the city sitting here." John glanced down. "Is Rover waterproof?"

The cart zipped forward and back at that, Ciora banging at the jumperís hull where she was tucked in next to Carson. "Probably, but he canít open either of the doors from inside the lock."

"No, but I wanted to make sure they wonít be damaged if we have to swim for it," John said, letting a hand fall to rest on Roverís sensor array.

"How are we going to swim for it if the doors canít be opened from in here?!"

John sighed and activated his radio. "General? We need a favor."

"Colonel, weíre hiding in the underbelly the city; Iím not sure Iím in much of a position to do you any favors."

"Well, weíre in a puddlejumper in a locked docking bay under the city, full of water, whose doors wonít open!"


"And we need you to get to a control panel and drain the water so that we can get out of the jumper and come rescue you!" Rodney exclaimed.

"It sounds like you need me to rescue you!"

"We do have a plan, General," Elizabeth cut in. "But we need your assistance in beginning it."

"So what do I need to do?" Jack finally asked.

"There should be a control room below your location," Rodney cut in. "All you need to do is flip the switch to drain the lock, then the doors here should open."

Jack and Wolsey were working their way over to the stairway down to the next level as they talked, and suddenly there was silence. "Small problem here," Jack announced. "The next levelís under water."

"Canít you hold your breath?"



"For knowing him, youíre fired!"

"Good, then he can come work for me!" Rodney snapped.

"Gentlemen, can we please focus," Elizabeth cut in.

Before Jack could say anything else, there was a splash from his end. "Huh. Looks like Bartís going to go open the door for you. Hey, McKay, are they waterproof?"

"Theyíre smart, General; do you really think he would have done something that would short him out if that was the case?"

"He might if it would keep me out of the water," Jack pointed out, well aware of the cartsí propensity for protecting their companions. "But I gather it will be okay."

"At least once he drains the water."

"Which he seems to be doing," Elizabeth put in. "Itís going down."

"Thank the Lord," Carson breathed as Ciora patted his thigh.

"We always get out of these things," John told him. "You get used to it."

The moment the last of the water drained, the inner door opened to reveal an empty room beyond. "Step one down," Rodney murmured.

"Weíre back in the city now," John said. "That makes up for a lot."

Ronon stood at the back of the jumper and checked his weapons. "So we find your friends and get going."

John nodded. "We need to get the bio-weapon and deploy it."

"General, is your cart back with you?" Rodney asked over the radio.

"Yeah, he just got back. Are you planning to join us anytime soon?"

"It would help if you told us where you were!"

"At the top of the stairs to that level. Where do you think I would be!?"

Rodney opened his mouth to answer, but Elizabeth put her hand on his arm and shook her head. "Weíre on our way," she said.

"Weíll be waiting." Jack glanced over his shoulder at Wolsey. "If anyone comes, shoot them."

"Anyone? What if theyíre our people?"

"Mr. Wolsey, the only people in the city, hell, on the entire planet and pretty much this entire galaxy, who are ours are the ones coming up from the next level. So if anyone comes down that hall, shoot them."

"IóI can do that," Wolsey nodded, gripping his gun tightly.

"I swear, could they have made these stairs any steeper?" drifted up from the stairwell behind them.

"Part of stealth, Rodney, is being quiet," came Johnís voice.

"But the only ones who are going to hear us are OíNeill and Wolsey," Rodney protested.

"And you know the location of every UA in the city?"


"Exactly. So quiet!" John came up the stairs first, nodding to Jack as he looked around, taking in the corridor, and the others came up behind him, Ronon and Teyla spreading out in a defensive perimeter.

Bart rolled up to each of them and scanned them, Rover waving a pincer at him aggressively when he came near Rodney and John.

"Play nice," John murmured, watching as Ciora moved up to Roverís side.

"Leave them alone, Bart," Jack sighed.

"Weíre all on the same side," John said, squatting down. "Pleased to meet you, Bart. Iím John, and these are Rover and Ciora."

"I still say he should have a ĎJí name,í Rodney muttered as he watched the new cart poke at Johnís arm.

"His name is Bart," Jack stated, narrowing his eyes at Rodney.

Rodney glowered in response but didnít reply as he was digging a scanner out of his pocket.

"See if the way is clear to Carsonís lab," John ordered, getting back to his feet.

Rodney nodded and adjusted the scanner as Elizabeth checked with Wolsey on his condition.

They started off, John and Jack in the lead, with the carts ranging ahead and Rodney immediately behind them with the scanner, Elizabeth, Carson and Wolsey in the center, and Ronon and Teyla guarding their rear. "Are any of the Ancients still alive, sir?" John asked, and Jack shook his head.

"No, they refused to answer questions, and they were all killed," Jack replied.

John nodded. "At least that puts an end to the dilemma of how not to kill them ourselves. Carson, once we get there, how long will it take to release the weapon and how long for it to take effect?"

"Weíll have ta get it inta the ventilation system for it ta be best distributed; after that it should be a matter of minutes once it spreads through the city, though Iím not sure how long that might take or if weíve enough ta reach every corner."

"And you call me a pessimist," Rodney muttered.

John nodded sharply. "So once itís done, we do a sweep of the city and deal with any stragglers. Weíll be done with it soon enough and have Atlantis back in our control."

"And I can get home," Wolsey added.

"And the general can figure out what to do with Bart in Washington," John said with a faint chuckle.

"As well as seeing how he and Daniel get along," Rodney murmured.

"Iím sure theyíll become great friends," Jack said. "Bart likes the same things I do, after all."

The new cart rubbed against Jackís leg in support of his words, and Rodney shook his head, keeping an eye on his scanner as they continued toward the central spire and the medical labs.

"Itíll all work out," John agreed. "Rover and I took a little while, but weíre one happy family now."

"Weíve got two UAs up ahead," Rodney reported, and Jack and John instantly raised their hands, stopping the group. They exchanged a glance, and then they moved forward, knives in hand.

"And theyíre gone." Wolsey gave a loud gulp, and Ronon nodded approvingly.

"Good and quiet."

"Thereís a reason I never objected to a military presence in a civilian expedition, even before I knew what we were facing here," Elizabeth murmured as John came back to tell them to continue forward, Carson checking each of them over before allowing them to continue.

"I can see that," Wolsey nodded.

"Letís hope thatís the worst of it," John muttered, and Rodney rolled his eyes.

"Never happens."

"Thank you for that vote of confidence, Dr. McKay," Wolsey grumbled.

"He works best under pressure," John said.

"Though Iíd like the chance to try it another way," Rodney sighed.

"Someday," John promised him, squeezing his arm briefly, getting a crooked smile in return before Rodney looked back at his scanner.

"All right, the best place for distributing the weapon through the air system seems to be the main exchange," he reported.

John nodded. "Then thatís where we go once Carsonís ready." He glanced over at Carson. "We have to be fast in the lab. The longer this all takes, the more likely weíll be discovered."

"At least they will not know what weíre trying to do," Teyla offered as they reached another stairwell and started up the central spire, the three carts floating up along with them.

"And weíre going to try to keep it that way. Itís a good thing theyíre unascended; we donít need to be trying to deal with mind reading," John said.

"And self-healing, and telekinetic and who knows what else," Rodney panted.

"Well, they can probably heal themselves since the one in the ice from ten million years ago could, but not instantly and not against the plague," John reminded him. "We can deal with them."

"Iím trying to remember that!"

"This isnít inspiring confidence," Wolsey said.

"The results will," Ronon commented from behind them.

"They always do," Elizabeth said. "Overcoming impossible odds is what we do best here."

"I only hope they havenít sealed the medical labs down," Carson added as he paused to catch his breath.

"If they have, Rodney will be able to open them," Teyla replied confidently.

"And Carson, put your labs lower in the tower!"

"I dinna think anyone would appreciate that when they come through the gate injured and it takes me five minutes to get there!"

"Quiet!" Jack hissed, falling back. "Weíre almost there." He and John led the way to the door, which opened without any trouble.

"Youíre up, Carson," John said.

The others took positions in the lab as Carson gathered up what he needed, nodding to himself grimly as he pulled the supply of the bio-weapon from its locked storage.

"Iíve marked out the safest way to get to the main exchange," Rodney announced not long after. "And as far as I can tell, there are about twenty UAs in the city."

"Not bad. We should be able to handle them easily if the weapon doesnít get them all," Jack said. "Letís go, people."

"Just how far is this exchange from here?"

Ronon shrugged. "No idea, but weíll get there faster if we start now."

"Rodney, right behind me," John ordered. "Tell me where we need to go, and warn me if weíre about to run into any UAs. Ronon, Teyla, your priority is getting Carson to the exchange."

"What about me?" Wolsey asked nervously.

"Youíre with me," Jack informed him. "You too, Elizabeth. Our job is to not get anyone else killed."

"I highly agree with that," she nodded.

"The main exchange is past the ZPM room and down another two levels," Rodney reported, checking his scanner and at the same time making sure his gun was clipped to his vest.

"Then thatís where weíre headed." John checked that everyone was ready, then led them out of the lab, the carts keeping close to avoid discovery.

"Shouldnít he be taking orders from you?" Wolsey muttered to Jack.

Jack shrugged. "His city, his team, his plan. Sheppard knows what heís doing, and his people trust him."

"I would hope that means you do too."

"I wouldnít be following his lead if I didnít."

Rodney glanced over at John, smirking slightly as he listened to the conversation behind them, and John grinned back at him.

"Everything okay back there, Mr. Wolsey?" John asked.

"Wonderful, just wonderful."

Rodney snickered though it was a sound born of nerves. "Glad to hear it."

"Weíll do our best to keep it that way," John told him, and Jack rolled his eyes.

"Stop trying to make the man nervous."

"I dinna believe that can be considered the two of them trying," Carson murmured.

"No, they can be much worse than that," Elizabeth agreed, making John chuckle softly.

"Weíre not that bad."

"Three UAs are over one corridor; we may want to be quiet," Rodney offered.

Everyone instantly stopped talking until Rodney signaled that they were clear again. After that, conversation was kept to a minimum as they drew nearer to the exchange, the tension growing.

"Down this corridor to the left," Rodney whispered, the trio of carts moving ahead of them to assure that the way was clear. John nodded in response, edging closer to their target, and they were able to slip inside without further incident.

Rodney began working on the console, adjusting the air flow for maximum dissemination of the virus while Carson set the carrying bag on a flat space and opened it, carefully removing a sealed container.

Instinctively, everyone stepped back even though the virus had no affect on humans. "That thing is safe for us to be around, right?" Wolsey asked nervously.

"The virus is designed only to affect Ancients, so thereís no danger to you, Mr. Wolsey," Carson explained patiently.

"Trust us, if it affected anyone else, Carson, Rodney, the general and I would be the ones to worry," John said. "We have the gene after all."

"And thank you for giving me something else to worry about!" Rodney groaned.

"Itís perfectly safe for us, Rodney," Carson sighed.

Rodney only hrumpfed and continued to work, giving a low cry of triumph when he rerouted the flows to his liking.

"All right then," Carson said, stepping forward to place the vial where Rodney indicated.

"The life signs detector should show when they start dying," Rodney commented, and Carson nodded.

"Itíll also let us find any who survive," John added.

Rodney typed a few more commands in, and a door slid closed over the alcove containing the vial, a rush of air followed, and when the door slid open again, the alcove was empty.

"And now we wait," Ronon grunted.

"Nothing else we can do," John agreed.

"Anyone bring a deck of cards?" Jack asked.

Most of the others looked at him incredulously at that comment, and Bart raised a pincer in warning, starting another round of jockeying between the carts. John shook his head as he watched. "Retirementís going to be interesting.

Rover whirled in a circle at that, Ciora and Bart leaving off their jockeying to do the same.

Carson smiled at it, then grew more serious as he studied the life signs scanner screen. "Itís beginning."

They all drew closer, trying to peer down at the device to see what was happening. "Does it work quickly?" Wolsey asked.

In answer, Carson nodded at the screen where the red dots began fading away.

They all watched silently. Even though these were their enemies, it still wasnít a pleasant thing to know they were committing genocide, albeit on a small scale. John reached for Rodneyís hand, holding it tightly as more and more of the life signs vanished.

"Them or us," Rodney muttered, tightening his fingers around Johnís while Rover pressed against him, and John nodded.

"Like the Genii," he said, too quietly for anyone but Rodney to hear. Or so he thought, but Jack gave him a sharp glance.

"Youíve done what you had to, to protect your people. Iíd trust you to have my back any day."

John nodded slightly. "Thank you, sir."

"Three ZPMs! We have three fully charged ZPMs!" Rodney crowed as he practically danced around the main power room.

Watching him, John grinned. It was very unlikely theyíd get to keep all three of them, but he wasnít going to rain on Rodneyís parade. "I think Iím jealous."

Rover patted his thigh with a pincer while Rodney looked up from his examination of the ZPMs to glower at him. "Not funny, Colonel."

"I thought it was. Youíre only supposed to get that excited for me."

"Shall I mention that with three ZPMs you could probably take the city for a joy ride?"

There was a moment of silence as John took that in, and then he said, "Everybody out. The ZPMs and I want to be alone."

"And you say I choose them over you," Rodney huffed.

"Flying the city." John dodged when Rover tried to pinch him.

"Fine, fine, I see where I rate," Rodney sniffed, stroking Roverís housing when he scooted over beside him.

"Lock everyone else out of the chair room while Iím doing it and Iíll be happy to demonstrate exactly what I think of you."

"While you fly the city?!"

John nodded eagerly.

"We might want to wait until weíve figured out if the fighting in the city did any damage to anything," Rodney said dryly.

"Oh fine, be logical," John grumbled before grinning. "Itís kinda hot."

"The romance is gone," Rodney sighed, "the city is hotter than I am." Rover patted his thigh in support, and Rodney gave in to his laughter.

John snorted. "I guess Iíll just have to prove otherwise tonight."

"If we find a bed to sleep inóours was sent back to Earth along with everything else," Rodney sighed.

John stared at him. "Shit! Weíre going to have to send them a ZPM to have gate travel from both sides unless you really want to wait three months for the Daedalus to get back to Earth, pick up everyoneís belongs, and bring them back."

"WHAT?!" Rodney almost shrieked. "Send them a ZPM?! No!"

"We have three, Rodney. And do you really want to sleep on the floor or old beds for three months?"

"I thought you wanted to fly the city!"

"Do you really think the IOA is going to let us keep all three of them here?" John pointed out gently.

"You know, you really could have let me enjoy this for more than two minutes," Rodney scowled.

"Iím sorry," John said sincerely. "I did intend to, but the conversation kind of got away from me. Hey, if the UAs created those while they were here, maybe they left some information on how they did it in the system," he suggested.

"If they made them; itís possible the Ancients did," Rodney sighed, and Rover pressed up against his leg.

"They still would have done it here, and there could be records in the system," John pointed out.

"Then I suppose Iíd better start looking for them," Rodney stated.

"Have you perhaps noticed that itís three in the morning? Come to bed, Rodney. Even mad scientists need their rest, and aging colonels need their mad scientists to get theirs."

Rover seemed to echo this sentiment, tugging at Rodneyís pant leg, getting a sigh in response. "Fine, Iíll go to bed; happy now?"

"Almost. Iíll be truly happy when weíre both in bed and I have my favorite pillow." John drew Rodney toward the door, Rover herding him from behind.

"If we can find a bed."

Rover suddenly zipped past them, and John chuckled. "Ten to one he has some kind of bed in our quarters by the time we get there."

"No bet, not even for position; sadly Iím too tired to even contemplate jumping your bones."

"I give rain checks."

"Good, because I intend to take you up on it."

"Just let me know when," John replied easily. "Iím not going anywhere."

"Damn right youíre not, and neither am Ióweíre home, and this is where weíre staying," Rodney said forcefully as they entered a transporter.

"Damn right! I donít care if a horde of Ancients appears next week; Atlantis is ours." The lights seemed to brighten, as if in agreement.

"I think she agrees," Rodney offered with a tired grin as they walked down the corridor to their old rooms.

"I guess having the city love me isnít so bad."

"Nope." The door opened for them, and they walked in to see Rover arranging the last pillow into a nest on the floor. "Rover, youíre the best," he murmured, stroking the cartís sensor array.

"Iíll second that," John agreed, dropping to his knees on the pillows. "I think I could sleep for a week."

"Not arguing that one bit," Rodney groaned, stripping off his tac vest and letting it fall to the floor, followed by his shirt and holster.

John started stripping as well, laying his weapons to the side and then pulling off his shirt with a sigh of relief.

Rodney kicked off his shoes and dropped his pants, stepping out of them before collapsing onto the pillows with John, immediately flopping into his back and letting out a sigh of pleasure. "Wake me in a month, okay?"

"Only if Iím awake by then," John replied, squirming round to get rid of the rest of his clothes and then sprawling half on top of Rodney. "Welcome home," he murmured.

Rodney raised his head enough to smile down at John then over at Rover, who was settled in beside them. "Itís good to be back," he murmured, hugging John tightly.





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