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11 February 2008 @ 07:33 pm
Help from Unexpected Places: Sanctuary  
Author's note: Still don't own them. Darn it. Previous parts are here.



Sanctuary


John was really starting to hate Wraith Darts. The tiny ships were faster than the 'Jumpers, even if their weapons weren't as strong, and usually they could swarm the Lantian ships.

"I count two...how about you?"

Rather pointedly, his HUD flashed a couple of times. He couldn't spare the time to glare at Alice, but he did think the display off.

"Yes, sir," Ford agreed. "I recommend shooting back anytime now."

"I'm trying. The hit must have caused some damage. McKay?"

"I'm on it." McKay scrambled out of his seat into the rear compartment, digging into the circuits.

"Where did they come from?" Teyla asked, studying the display intently.

"She's right. The Darts are short range fighters. There's probably a hive ship around here somewhere," McKay called from the back.

"Then we need to get out of here," Teyla said sharply.

"Yes we do," John agreed.

"There are no Hives within range," Alice offered. John ignored her, yanking the 'Jumper into a turn that pressed them into their seats and threw Rodney against the bulkhead.

"The Stargate is the other way, sir," Ford reminded him. "On the other side of the planet."

"Yeah, now we're taking the scenic route. McKay?"

"I'm almost there," he promised, poking at the circuits.

"That's not right," Alice murmured, but John didn't have time to react before Ford warned, "There's one on our tail!"

"Thank you. I know all about that one. Keep your eye on the other one."

"Okay." McKay pushed away from the circuits. "You should have weapons now."

"Negative," John said, yanking the 'Jumper around again.

"You sure?" McKay said in surprise.

"Positive."

"I'm pretty sure I fixed it."

"Well obviously you didn't!"

"Perhaps we could lose them in the atmosphere of the planet," Teyla suggested calmly.

"Two more Darts on our two o'clock," Ford warned.

"I see them. McKay?"

"It's not like I'm holding back on you!" McKay snapped, frantically switching circuits.

"That's not going to work," Alice said, addressing McKay even though she knew he couldn't hear her.

"Helpful, thank you!" John snapped.

"I'm doing my best," McKay protested.

The HUD snapped on again as a blast of something like static electricity shot up from the planet, washing through the 'Jumper and snaring the Darts. The Wraith ships vanished in the glare and when it cleared, they were destroyed.

"The Wraith darts have been destroyed," Teyla reported.

"Ah, that's a good thing," John pointed out.

McKay came into the compartment, sitting down. "I thought for sure we were dead. Anyone think we were dead?"

"He hasn't fixed the weapons," Alice protested. John waved her off, listening to McKay decide they'd been rescued by an energy weapon.

"Well, what do you say we find out?" he suggested, putting the ‘Jumper into a low orbit so McKay could run his scans.



"So just to confirm we're all still definitely not dead," McKay said after a moment.

"I feel very much alive," Teyla said.

"Good. Same here." McKay fiddled with his computer.

"Wish I knew what that was," John said idly.

“Looked like lightning,” Ford offered.

“Space lightning?” John said disbelievingly.

“I already said it's some sort of energy weapon,” McKay said impatiently. “One that apparently destroys Wraith darts.”

“Nice,” Ford said uncertainly, “but...why them and not us?”

“Well assuming that we're still alive...and there doesn't seem to be any damage as a result of the pulse, I think we can safely conclude that ah...um...um...I got nothing.” McKay shrugged. “I got nothing to conclude. I'm just...talking for the sake of talking.”

“You're sure you're ok?” John asked, eying him.

“You know how much I hate certain death?”

“You're alive.”

“It wasn’t aimed at you,” Alice said quietly. John glanced at her, unable to question her directly with everyone there; when he looked back Teyla was watching him curiously.

“Could something like that be...naturally occurring?” she asked.

“My money's on not naturally occurring,” John said absently, catching Alice’s nod from the corner of his eye.

“Like a weapon the Ancients left behind?” Ford suggested.

“Yeah. And any weapon that powerful would have to be powered by...”

“A zero point module,” McKay realized.

“That's right,” John said.

“Right well we need to get down there,” McKay said, reaching for his computer again.

“I’ve got to put down, check for damages anyway...before we head back to Atlantis.” John turned the ‘Jumper towards the planet, easing out of the low orbit.



John lagged as the others left the ‘Jumper, fiddling with his vest and equipment. “Alice?” he murmured once the others were off the ramp.

“This planet does not appear in my database,” she said from the cockpit. John turned towards her.

“What about the weapon?”

“It’s not a weapon. There are no traces of radiation, no residue of any kind.”

“If it’s not a weapon, what is it?”

She shook her head. “No information in my database. But it is not a weapon.”

“No ZPM?”

“Not powering a weapon, no.”

“John?” Teyla leaned in. “Dr McKay is eager to leave.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet,” he agreed.

“Have you learned anything?”

John blinked, glancing back at Alice. “Nothing useful. No database entries for this planet.” He followed Teyla out, snagging Ford’s binoculars as they passed him.

“If there's a weapon down here, sir, these folks didn't build it.”

“Not these kids,” John agreed, studying the village just visible in the distance. To McKay, he added, “Picking up anything?”

“I'm picking up everything. Just nothing worth mentioning.” He turned off the scanner, shoving it into a pocket.

“These folks look familiar to you, Teyla?” John asked, tossing the binoculars back to Ford.

“The Stargate is in orbit, Major,” she reminded him. “My people could never have ventured here.”

“Right. What say we venture?”



“Elizabeth’s going to kill you,” McKay murmured as they reached the ‘Jumper.

“Why, just because we’re bringing the religious head of a planet that may or may not be harboring a super weapon back to Atlantis without checking in first?” John shrugged. “She’ll get over it.”

“I just want to make sure I’m there when you explain that to her.” Rodney grinned, heading into the ‘Jumper.

John grimaced, glancing back. Chaya and Teyla were coming towards him, Ford trailing behind them.

“Alice?” he murmured, low enough that Rodney wouldn’t hear him.

“Yes.” Turning, he saw her standing on the ramp.

“We’re bringing a guest to Atlantis.”

“All right,” she said.

“Keep your scanners on her, ok?”

“I will,” she agreed.

“Good. Scoot.”

Alice ducked back into the ‘Jumper as Chaya and the others came into hearing range. “Ready?” Teyla called.

“Yeah.” To Chaya, he added, “It won’t take long to get to Atlantis.”

“Thank you,” she said with a smile, accepting his hand up the ramp.



“Welcome to Atlantis.” Elizabeth did polite interest like no one John had ever met, and this time was no exception.

“Thank you,” Chaya said politely, looking around the ‘Gate room.

"I hope you don't mind, but our doctors do require a medical exam of all offworld team members and our visitors. But after that perhaps you would like a full tour."

"I would love that," she agreed.

"Major Sheppard has already promised to do so," Teyla said mildly.

"Of course he has," Elizabeth agreed.

"Of course I have." John raised an eyebrow, all but daring her to call him on it.

She ignored the challenge, turning to Chaya. "Please, if you'll follow me to the infirmary..." Chaya followed obediantly, smiling when John fell into step behind her.

"Maybe I should tag along in case you have any questions the Major can't answer," McKay suggested.

"I think I can handle it, Rodney," John said dismissively.

"There are a lot of systems you know absolute-"

"Got it covered," he insisted, chasing Elizabeth and Chaya. He caught a glimpse of Alice, watching from the balcony, but she didn't try to talk to him and he hurried after the women.



"How many of you are there?" Chaya asked later.

"Counting all the Athosians on the mainland? Might get a couple of hundred, which leaves a very large empty city. Right now we're living in one section because we don't have the power to spread out more than that. What do you think so far?"

She glanced away uneasily. "I think it's wondrous. But ultimately the decision is up to Othara. You're not a believer, are you?"

John stopped, catching at her arm to keep her with him. "Look, Chaya, I respect that you believe. Look...I can't talk to Othara. I can only talk to you so let me ask you this...What if the shoe was on the other foot? What if your people were in trouble and we could help you? Would you just take no for an answer?"

"It must have been very hard to live your entire life under the shadow of the Wraith," she said thoughtfully.

"Don't misunderstand me. Teyla and her people have known the Wraith forever, but when I say we're new I mean we just got here. From another galaxy...a planet called Earth."

"Earth?" she repeated, frowning.

"Very far away. You know those clusters of stars you see in the night sky? Some of them are called galaxies and they're even farther away from you than the stars. Earth is in one of those galaxies."

"You came through the Stargate?"

"That's right," John agreed.

"And can you not simply return?"

"Well, not simply. We knew going into it that it was probably going to be a one way trip--but we thought what we would find here would be worth the risk."

"And is it?" she asked.

John grinned lazily. "So far. Ask me again when the Wraith show up."



Out on the balcony she smiled, spreading her arms. "Oh, the ocean air is so invigorating."

"Plenty of that here, most of the planet's ocean." John followed her gaze, staring at the water.

"Surely there is enough land to resettle the refugees?"

He nodded absently. "Oh, there is...just can't guarantee their safety."

"Even though you control all of this?" Chaya gestured to the city around them.

"I'd be lying if I said we controlled it all." John looked away, towards the control tower. “This place is so far beyond us in so many ways. For example Atlantis does have a shield that can withstand anything the Wraith can throw at us but we have no way of powering it up...we can't risk taking in any more refugees than we have.” Shaking his head, he turned back towards her and held out a hand. “Come with me.”

She let him guide her back into the city, wandering through the corridors. “Major Sheppard...

“I'd prefer if you called me John.”

“John,” she said uncertainly. “How did you make enemies of the Wraith?”

John flinched. “That was my fault.”

“Yours?” she repeated in surprise.

“I basically woke them up trying to rescue some people they captured, they didn't take too kindly to that.”

“But you saved your people?”

“Most of them.”

She nodded. “That is how you know for sure they are coming back.”

“Yeah, we just don't know when.” They reached the control room, and he started pointing controls out. “Main control console. Environmental support systems. Communications. This...” He hesitated, watching Grodin fiddle with a new console. “This is...uh...what is this?”

Chaya leaned on the console as Grodin answered without looking at them.

“Sorry, Major, we don't have the faintest idea what--what...” He trailed off as the machine lit up, looking up at them. “This is a new piece of equipment we found in another section of the city. It hadn't yet been initialized.”

“You think she has...”

“She has the gene.” Grodin grinned, running his hand over the console.

Chaya backed up, putting her hands behind her back. “Did I do this? What does the machine do?”

“We don't know,” Grodin said absently. “Not yet anyway.”

“Atlanteans are good at lots of things, but writing instruction manuals wasn't one of them.” John stepped forward, gesturing towards Elizabeth’s office. “We should probably wrap this tour up. I know Doctor Weir is anxious to talk to you.”

“Will I see you after that?” Chaya asked, following him.

“And during.” John grinned.

Elizabeth and Teyla were already in the briefing room, and McKay arrived on John’s heels. After a few minutes of small talk Elizabeth got them settled at the table to begin the meeting.

“What we're proposing is a kind of land lease in which refugees rendered homeless by the Wraith could resettle on Proculus. In return we can offer you services and knowledge of benefit to your people.”

“Such as?”

Idly, John thought that Chaya did the best dumb blonde impression he’d seen in a long time.

“Well, you've seen what technology we possess here...we can help you down a path to a more industrialized society, but at a pace that will maintain your planet's ecological balance.”

“Your scientific knowledge is impressive, Doctor Weir, but we have no need of it. Othara provides us with everything we require.”

“Well food just doesn't show up on the dinner table,” John pointed out.

“You do plant all your own crops?” Teyla asked.

“Of course we do,” Chaya agreed.

“We can show you ways to increase your crop yield,” Elizabeth offered.

“We grow all the food we need to live,” Chaya said serenely. “Anything else would be gluttony.”

“Building materials then?”

“We have abundant timber and iron ore to forge what little metal we need. Othara is kind.”

“There must be something,” Elizabeth said. John blinked at the frustration in her tone, but Chaya didn’t seem to have noticed.

“What my people value most is spiritual knowledge. What can your culture provide in that regard?”

Elizabeth frowned, leaning back in her seat. “Earth's people don't share a single spiritual belief. We embrace a number of different religions and philosophies: Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam...”

“Hinduism,” John added. “Kwanzaa...”

“Interesting,” Chaya said slowly. “Tell me about them.”

“All of them?” Elizabeth said in surprise.

“Yes, they sound fascinating.”

“Well—I am hardly competent to discuss all of Earth's religions...but I can offer you some resources. With very little training you could have complete access to our historical database.”

“That would be wonderful,” Chaya said brightly.



“Doctor Weir wanted me to make sure that Chaya saw everything,” John said innocently.

“Everything,” Teyla repeated skeptically.

John fought the urge to hide the picnic basket in his hands. “Well...not everything. Uh...Chaya mentioned she wanted to see the best view of the city at night which I think is at the top of the south west pier and...and since it's such a long walk I thought I'd bring along a few provisions.”

“Continuing our efforts to secure a treaty.” Teyla’s tone was absolutely serious.

“Exactly. Yeah.”

“As our...ambassador.”

“I'm an ambassador and she is a... diplomat.”

“On a late night...” she considered carefully before finishing, “picnic?”

“Yes.”

Teyla smiled. “I know that as ranking military officer here in Atlantis that you feel a heavy burden of responsibility. But you are allowed to have feelings for others...”

“Ah no,” John cut her off, “This is a...this is an ambassadorial diplomatic picnic outing thing.”

“...Without having to justify that to anyone,” Teyla finished. “Although I’m unsure what Atlantis will think.”

“Your guess is as good as mine, she’s not talking to me.”

“Perhaps she is jealous,” Teyla suggested, smiling. “Goodnight Major.”

“Goodnight...Teyla.” John watched her walk away, vaguely disturbed.



“Mmmm, this is delicious.”

Whatever crops they grew on Proculus, they apparently didn’t include strawberries. John grinned, watching her eat. “Well, enjoy it while you can because it's the last of what we have.”

“Then I am honored.”

“When McKay finds out he's gonna kill me,” he said conversationally.

“Othara will save you,” Chaya promised.

“Oh good.”

She laughed, reaching for another strawberry. “Such wondrous things. I can't imagine you'd want to do anything but eat all the time with such a variety of foods.”

“Well, we manage to pull ourselves away somehow.”

“I've been learning much about Earth. Doctor Weir has got me on your—information machines.”

John sat up, reaching for his glass. “Elizabeth's got you on a computer already, huh?”

“I am fascinated by your many religions. So many beliefs, so many philosophies.”

“Yeah, we got a few of those.”

“So many contradicting faiths.” Chaya’s voice was softer, sadder.

“That's a bit of a mess,” John agreed. “More?”

“Yes please.” She held out her glass for him to fill.

“We, uh...traded for grapes. The Athosians...Teyla's people—they make this on the mainland.”

“I wasn't really truthful with you about something,” she said abruptly, playing with her glass. “On Proculus when I told you I did not feel lonely--coming here and being with you reminded me what it was like not to be alone.”

John flinched, rising to his feet and crossing the edge of the balcony for a moment before looking back at her. “What?” she asked gently.

“Well, I mean ... nothing. It's just that ... this is the first time I've been in a romantic situation with a woman from another planet, and it just strikes me as really, um ...”

“Wrong?” she asked sheepishly.

“No! God, no! Just, just funny. I'm sorry - I-I just thought that I would, uh ...”

“You said it yourself,” Chaya pointed out. “We're both human.”

“Yes, we are. And I'm really glad you didn't say 'family', otherwise I'd have to leave.”

“You don't.”

John took the hint and sat back down beside her. “I'm not going anywhere.” Gently cupping her face in his hands, he kissed her.



Walking away from her quarters later, he was vaguely surprised to see Rodney waiting for him.

“Major.”

“Rodney. What are you doing up so late?” Absently he glanced around for Alice; she was usually somewhere nearby when he walked the city.

“I was just, um, I couldn't sleep, so I was going back up to the Control Room to do a little research. What about you?”

“Oh, no thanks.”

“No. I mean, what were you doing up so late?”

John frowned. “I'm always up late, Rodney.”

“Word of caution? The whole Captain Kirk routine is problematic to say the least, let alone morally dubious.”

John slowed to a halt. “What routine?”

“The romancing of the alien priestess? It's very 1967 of you. Actually, I'm surprised ...”

“If and when anything I do becomes your business ...”

“It becomes my business, Major, when an alien woman who is clearly not who she claims to be has the ranking military officer wrapped around her little finger!”

“Don't go there, McKay.”

McKay shook his head quickly, desperately. “I'm sorry - I know I'm not normally Mr Sensitive, but you gotta believe me when I say there is something about her. I know it's intangible but I can feel it.”

“I said don't go there!”

“It's just a matter of time before I prove it, Major. I'm just recommending that in the meantime you keep your ..” He trailed off when he noticed Chaya’s open door; she was listening, arms folded tightly across her stomach. McKay hesitated, starting to apologize; Chaya turned away, going back to her room, and John followed her.

He paused just before entering the room, murmuring, “Alice?”

For the first time since she’d introduced herself, the program didn’t appear. Sighing, he slipped into Chaya’s room.



“John?” Chaya said softly, late the next morning.

He glanced up from staring at the table. “Hmm?”

“You’re distracted.”

“Yeah. Sorry.”

“What are you thinking?”

“I’m just wondering where...it’s nothing.” He changed his mind halfway through the sentence, looking up as the door open; Elizabeth and Teyla. McKay trailed behind with his laptop.

“I admit to being impressed by most of what I've read of Earth religions: the Torah, the Koran, the Talmud, the Bible. Most of them reveal a diverse and deep desire to grasp the divine.” Chaya was watching McKay, though she was speaking to Elizabeth.

“So we do have something we can offer you.”

“But I've also been reading about your history. Even now, somewhere on your planet, you are at war.”

“Yeah, that's true,” John agreed.

“I made no attempt to hide that fact from you,” Elizabeth pointed out. “Chaya, we are definitely not perfect.”

“There's a lot about you as a people that I find disturbing.”

“Can that not be said of any people?” Teyla asked.

Chaya shook her head. “No. Every soul on Proculus is free from the hatred and the anger people from Earth seem to feel for each other.”

“Come on, we're not all that bad. You know that,” John protested.

“I do,” Chaya agreed, laying her hand on his. Her gaze slid past him, and when he followed it he saw Alice standing, arms folded, against the back wall.

“They’re scanning you,” she said, and he frowned. When he looked back Chaya was listening attentively to Elizabeth.

“We're not talking about the people on Earth. I'm talking about every member of my expedition team here in Atlantis; and I'm talking about the friends we've met since coming here, like Teyla's people.”

“There are some among you - yourself included, Doctor Weir - that I know Othara will welcome with open arms. But there are others ...” she trailed off, glaring at Rodney.

“I handpicked every member of this expedition, and I know Teyla feels as confident about her own people.”

“I'm sure,” she agreed coolly.

“At the end of the day, this is a matter of trust,” Elizabeth said.

“Yes, it is, Doctor Weir. Have your scans found anything yet, Doctor McKay?”

McKay looked up, startled. “Um ... uh ... actually, no.”

“What the hell is this?” John asked angrily.

“I'm sorry, Major,” Elizabeth said. “There was cause for legitimate concern as to ...”

“... whether I was or not who I claimed to be,” Chaya finished.

“I'm sorry, Chaya. I honestly felt it would do no harm.”

McKay rose to his feet. “Stop apologising, Elizabeth. How did she know?”

“McKay!” John said warningly.

“She's an Ancient, Major.”

“She's what?!”

Talking faster, McKay pressed on, “I'm right, aren't I? The perfect health, the energy weapon, the fact that she has the gene. It's the only logical explanation.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

McKay ignored him, focused on Chaya. “I just don't understand the act. I mean, you must know we'd give just about anything to talk to you, to learn from you. I mean, what is it? What, are you checking us out?”

Chaya sighed, pushing her chair back from the table. “I see that in my desire to come to Atlantis, I have revealed too much of myself.”

“He's right?” Elizabeth said in surprise.

“I'm right?!” McKay repeated, equally surprised.

“I *am* what you call an Ancient. And it is also true that I can never offer your people sanctuary. But you are wrong as to why I came here.”

“Why *did* you come here?” John rose, taking a couple of steps away.

“You, John.”

“Me?” he repeated.

“I have lived in solitude for so long that when you asked me to come to Atlantis, I ...”

“Oh my God, he is Kirk!” McKay sank back into his seat.

“This was never about, uh ...” John shifted uncomfortably, looking at the others. “Could we just have a moment to ourselves here?”

They refused loudly, and Chaya smiled. “That's alright. I've stayed here long enough.” She rose to her feet, leaving the room. John chased her; he registering Alice keeping pace, watching them.

“C'mon, Chaya. You and your people are the reason we came here in the first place.”

“I can't.” She stumbled, reaching for him to catch herself. “I can't...” She collapsed into his arms, breathing far too fast.

“Her people are calling,” Alice said quietly. Chaya stirred, pulling herself out of John’s arms.

“No.” She took a couple of steps, looking mildly dazed.

“What the hell was that?” John protested.

“They're coming for them. I should have never left them.”

“What's going on?” John protested.

Chaya looked at him, seeing to really see him for the first time since she’d collapsed. “I'm sorry, John.”

“John, get away from her,” Alice said urgently. John stumbled backwards as Chaya’s body dissolved, reforming into a glowing entity. The ‘Gate powered up behind her, forming a connection without dialing, and the glowing being sailed into it.

“What just happened?” Elizabeth demanded from the balcony.

“There's only one way to find out,” John said.

"Go," she agreed.



John ran through the pre-flight as he was sitting down; by the time he got the 'Jumper to the 'Gate room the wormhole was ready.

"Major, are you sure you know what you're flying into?" Elizabeth asked.

"Pretty good idea. The Wraith are attacking Chaya's people."

"You can't hope to defend them with one ship!"

"I don't think I'll have to." He urged the 'Jumper forward, into the 'Gate.

Alice was standing beside him when they reached Proculus; the HUD immediately started flashing proximity warnings, most of which John ignored.

"Where have you been?" he demanded, firing two drones and rolling to avoid a Dart.

"In the city, like always. On your left."

"I see him." He fired again. "You didn't come when I called you."

"I was told not to—on your left, John."

"I still see him!"

"I'm sorry, I must have been confused by the way you're not firing at him!"

John yanked the 'Jumper around, hard. "You are spending way too much time in McKay's computer. I've a good mind to ground you to the control systems." He finally managed to hit the persistent Dart, grinning in triumph. "You were told not to answer me? Who told you that?"

Alice didn't answer, and he glanced over. "Alice."

"I'm just supposed to help you fight," she muttered. "Ten o'clock."

"Who's giving you orders, Alice?"

"Ten o'clock," she repeated.

Light flared suddenly bright in the cockpit and when it faded, Chaya was standing behind them. "What are you doing here?" she demanded.

"I'm here to help you."

"Help me?" she repeated.

"To defend your people."

She shook her head. "Leave. I will take care of this."

"Please?" Alice said quickly. Chaya glanced absently at her.

"Yes, your restrictions are lifted." To John, she added, "Go home." She shifted into her light form, vanishing before he could react. The wave of light rippled out from the planet, destroying the Darts on impact; the 'Jumper didn't so much as rock.

The path back to the Stargate lit up on the HUD; John shook his head, starting towards the planet. "We're not going home yet."

"We were told," Alice protested.

"Chaya might be your boss, but she's not mine. Find her."

The HUD flashed his flight path, showing a course to land by the temple, and he pulled the 'Jumper around to follow it. "What'd she tell you to do, anyway? And when'd she get you? Not in the 'Jumper."

"Not in the 'Jumper," she agreed. "In the infirmary."

"Beckett was with her in the infirmary."

"She told him she was praying. She told me not to go to you, not to watch when you were together, not to speak to anyone or in any way imply that she was other than human."

"And you just agreed?"

Alice frowned. "Chaya is of the People. My program demands loyalty to her above you."

"Did it even occur to you to argue with her?"

They'd reached the surface, and she waited while he set down and powered off the major systems. "I asked her to reconsider," she offered.

"You did, huh." He leaned back to study her. "How'd she take that?"

"She refused to remove the restrictions. But she commended me for loyalty to you." She shrugged. "I was..."

"Wait, don't say it. You were following your program, right?"

For the first time in months, Alice sounded like the child she pretended to be. "I'm made to be useful. Without you I can't fulfill my function. I want to be useful."

"You are useful."

"To you."

"To the city. Chaya knew that, or she wouldn't have bothered shutting you up, right?" Alice smiled hesitantly, and he nodded. "Attagirl. Now, I've got to go find Chaya. Wait for me, all right?"

"Yes, John. I will."



Chaya was waiting in the garden for him; she looked miserable, and he fought down the urge to comfort her. "Is it Chaya, or Othara? I'm just curious."

"When I was a mortal, I lived here." She gestured around them. "This was my home. When those of us who you call the Ancients ascended, we were supposed to leave behind us all human ties. Some of us found that--difficult."

"So you couldn't stand by and watch your people getting wiped out by the Wraith."

"When their terrible fleet approached, I lashed out with my mind and with a single thought destroyed them all. The others of my kind did not approve of such interference in corporeal matters. And so I was exiled. My punishment was the unending protection of this world." She turned away from him.

"Why pretend to be human at all?" he asked, taking a step towards her.

"So that time to time I may walk among the people - know them as the good and kind souls they are. For thousands of years, I have come and gone to the villages, never staying too long to get attached to anyone ... until I met you." She stepped closer, watching him. "I have never regretted the choice I made all of these years - until now. I am permitted to safeguard my people, but my people only. This is my punishment. This is what makes it punishment. If your people came here for my protection, the Others would stop me. Do you understand? I can never help your people." She started to walk away; John darted in front of her, blocking her escape.

"I'm not sure I'm gonna let you walk away that easily. And I'm not just talking personally here, although that's definitely part of it. There is so much more we can learn from you."

"I can't, John. The Others won't allow it. It's their highest law to never interfere. I am bound by those laws, however much I wish to help you."

"So, uh, we can never ..." He gestured vaguely, not quite sure what he was asking.

"I can never leave," she said gently.

"Well, I could come and visit --if you don't mind flirting with somebody from another species."

"Atlantis says you treat her well."

"Try to," he said with a shrug. "She gets a bit battered, sometimes."

"I meant the program."

"So did I."

Chaya smiled. "We're not as different as you think."

"I think we're more different than you think," John retorted.

She bit her lip nervously. "I can show you."

"Show me?"

"By sharing each other. We will know each other as well as anyone ever can."

He thought about it for a moment before nodding. "OK. Gotta get the car back by midnight, though."

“This will only take a few moments.” She gripped his arms lightly, raising them to rest on hers. Her fingers rested on the pulse point in his elbows. “Just close your eyes,” she murmured, and as he obeyed he saw her begin to glow.




“That was fun,” John said for the third time.

“I know,” Alice agreed. “Keep the ‘Jumper pointing towards the Stargate, John.”

“Where’re we going?”

“Back to Atlantis...did you actually let Chaya get you high?”

“I’m not high!” Conspiratorially, he added, “They don’t let you do that in the Air Force. Makes it hard to fly.”

“So I see,” she said, watching the Stargate sail by on the right. “Ready to try again?”

“It keeps moving,” he protested, starting the ‘Jumper in a slow loop.

“I think you keep moving. Just point the ‘Jumper at the ‘Gate, and then stop pushing buttons, ok? And stop thinking,” she added.

“I wasn’t!”

The ‘Gate sailed by on the left, this time, and she sighed. “John, we’ve done this six times now. Atlantis is going to be getting worried. Turn your radio on.” John tapped at his ear, and she shook her head. “No, John. The big radio.”

He found the radio after three false attempts, and Elizabeth’s voice filled the cabin. “...ard, can you hear us? This is Atlantis base calling Major Sheppard. Can you hear us?

“ ‘Lo, ‘Lizabeth!” John called, grinning.

John?” she asked hesitantly.

“Yeah. Hi!”

John, are you all right?

“Yeah! Everything’s cool. Well, we can’t go to Proculus anymore, and Chaya’s an Ancient.” To Alice, he added, “A People, right?” Elizabeth started to answer, but he continued, “So we can’t go there, and she can’t come to us, and we did this thing where we held hands and she went all glowy, and then she went away.” Abruptly dejected, he sank back into the seat.

Behind Elizabeth, McKay hissed, “He’s on something!

Elizabeth shushed him before saying, “John, the wormhole’s been open for a while. Are you in trouble?

“It keeps moving,” John explained earnestly.

I...see.

“John,” Alice said quietly, “We’re pointing straight at the ‘Gate now. Just go forward. Not in any other direction.”

“What if we get stuck?” he protested.

I’m sorry, John, I didn’t hear that,” Elizabeth said.

“Not you. I’m talking to Atlantis.”

He’s insane,” McKay said, horrified. “He’s actually insane.

Rodney, hush,” Teyla said sharply. “John? What is Atlantis saying?

“To go straight forward.”

Then perhaps you should try,” she coaxed him. “Atlantis helps you, yes?

“Yeah...”

Then listen to her, listen to us, and come home.

“Go,” Alice said, and the ‘Jumper shot forward and into the ‘Gate.



“Major,” Elizabeth said brightly, a day later. “Feeling better?”

John flinched, pressing back against his pillows. “Little headache.”

“Sorry,” she said, a little quieter. “Carson says your brain chemistry’s back to normal.”

“Is that what was wrong with me?”

“How much do you remember?” she asked, perching on the end of his bed.

“Not much. I remember saying goodbye to Chaya, but after that...” He made a ‘poof’ gesture. “Gone. How’d I get back here? Doc Beckett says I was pretty out of it.”

“Atlantis called you,” Elizabeth said, eyes dancing with laughter.

“Atlantis called me,” he repeated, glancing towards the door. Alice had been lurking on and off since he’d woken, but they hadn’t spoken and she wasn’t there now.

“Yes, so you said. You had quite a conversation.”

“I did, huh? Knew there was a reason I never did drugs. How’d I really get back?”

“You got the ‘Jumper through. On your seventh attempt.” She leaned forward to whisper, “The ‘Gate kept moving.”

“Tricky things, Stargates.”

“Very,” she agreed, rising to her feet and patting his leg. “Feel better.”

“Thanks,” he agreed, watching her leave. Alice slipped in before the door closed, hesitating just inside.

“You got me back?” he murmured.

“Mostly I said ‘Fly to the right’,” she said with a shrug. “Feeling better?”

“Much.” He leaned back. “Who thinks I’m crazy?”

“Mostly everyone.” She smiled suddenly. “Even knowing there’s a mental component to the city’s controls, none of them have even considered you were really talking to me. They all think it was an hallucination...except Teyla.”

“Teyla isn’t...”

“She hasn’t told anyone.”

“Good,” John murmured, letting his eyes drift closed. “Hey...Alice?”

“Yes, John.”

“Next time an Ancient comes to the city, warn me before they tell you to zip it, ok?”

“Yes, John.” She sounded faintly amused, but he couldn’t summon the energy to check. “Get some rest.”

“Yes Ma’am,” he mumbled, sliding into sleep.
 
 
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
 
 
 
ltcoljsheppardltcoljsheppard on February 11th, 2008 09:05 pm (UTC)
This is a cute take on one of my favorite episodes. I like the additions you put to the show's canon stuff. I like "Alice" because she represents something I've tried to tell people about - Shep's connection with the city being more than just a "touch this" thing. I think he feels her and senses her in ways maybe he's not even aware of. Nicely done. - JS
Acting my shoe size: Homewild_force71 on February 11th, 2008 09:36 pm (UTC)
I like Alice because she's a way for the city to help John without really helping him. Alice can't affect anything; she can't control any systems, she can't even turn the scanners to look at something different. All she can do is tell him what she sees and what's in her memory.

And yeah, I love working around what's onscreen...it's surprising how much you can change things, just by adding dialogue or even adding a look from someone that wasn't shown...
sparrowhawk17: Babylonsparrowhawk17 on February 18th, 2008 05:38 am (UTC)
This was wonderful. I loved it....love the entire series. I like the thought of Atlantis being a sentient being...and Alice is perfect in that regard. Thank you.
Acting my shoe size: Homewild_force71 on February 18th, 2008 07:37 am (UTC)
Thanks for the comment! I'm so glad people seem to be enjoying this, it's brilliant. Keep watching...I'm planning to do the whole series, eventually.

Icon love. That's gorgeous.
shanachie13shanachie13 on September 2nd, 2008 12:57 am (UTC)
I agree with everyone else about the love of Alice, but I just needed to add... John "high" was hysterical... I laughed so hard that I got told to stop laughing by my family.
Acting my shoe sizewild_force71 on September 2nd, 2008 06:40 am (UTC)
Thanks! I had a lot of fun with that scene. :)
shanachie13shanachie13 on September 2nd, 2008 10:30 am (UTC)
I'm sure you did...