Words: roughly 115,000
Timeline: This goes AU at about the midway point of the fourth season. The Asuran planet is not destroyed, but the Replicators are partially neutralized (a 'three-laws' patch, they can't directly harm humans); Elizabeth Weir returns as head of Atlantis and other events of the fourth and some of the fifth season do occur.
Summary: It is difficult to write a paradise when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse. It is obviously much easier to find inhabitants for an inferno or even a purgatorio. (Ezra Pound)
Warning: Enough technobabble to frighten off even David Hewlett. Seriously. And all of it is based on real, honest-to-gosh science, enough to do Brian Greene proud. But other than that -- off-screen death of an OMC is all.
Notes: Betas (almost too many to mention and I think I might have forgotten a few, that's how long this damn thing has taken): Kathgrr, for line-by-line-by-line help; WordWitch; Kisa Hawklin (for helping me rein in Romantic!John); CookieMom; Jer (for timely swats); Ladyholder (for timely hugs and encouragement); Susan, of course; Celtic Tiger (I think, yes?); and OMG Gnat, even after a freaking car accident. If I've forgotten anyone, please forgive me. This story ATE MY LIFE. Seriously. I came close to wrapping it in a burlap bag and throwing it in the river.
There are also acknowledgments: Douglas Adams for being the world's best writer, even posthumously; Bill Watterson for Calvinball; Stephen Hawking for not being boring; Ted Bunn from UC Berkeley for being a freak about black holes; Wikipedia for being always available; half a dozen dead physicists for helping me learn stuff that almost made my head explode; Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke for teaching me how to write good technobabble; everybody from Monty Python; and Neil Gaiman, because I wanna be him when I grow up.
This story is the middle between And All the Seas and Prodigal Sails. It tells you what happens to them and takes them a little beyond Prodigal Sails. You don't have to read either, but it helps. The length of time covered is roughly nine years.
A bit of a preview:
Rodney was silent for a few long moments. "I don't even know where to begin," he finally said quietly.
John bit his lip and concentrated on emptying his backpack. He was positive he'd put the portable chess set in it. "We need a list. Start it at the beginning -- here -- and end it with us going back to Earth." He didn't think a McKay Meltdown was in progress, but he was going to have to watch for it carefully. The panic attack the evening before did not need to be repeated; by either of them. John's calm was precarious, something Rodney did *not* need to know, something John didn't even need to feel.
"Ah. Yes. Go from 'here' to 'Earth' and just expect a miracle somewhere in the middle." Rodney sounded peeved and John could deal with that, far better than he could cope with hysterics. "We're *trapped* here! We have no way to get home, and no one will come get us, except maybe the Wraith looking for some appetizers on the way to getting fried by the fucking Asurans! Tell me how that translates into us returning to Earth."
John looked up at Rodney and smirked. "Because you'll figure it out."
The smirk apparently wasn't strong enough, because Rodney frowned thunderously. "Are you even listening to yourself? To me?"
"Yes, Rodney, I'm listening to you." John turned, put his hands on his hips and returned Rodney's frown. "Yes, we're stuck here in Pegasus. Yes, we only have a well-stocked 'jumper and some equipment -- at least for now. But we also have *your brain* and *my skills* and we will get back." John shrugged, trying to gently push Rodney into aggravated, because an aggravated Rodney was a Rodney he understood, one he could deal with, one who worked a hell of a lot faster and better. The trick was to keep him at aggravated and not tip him over into furious.
Rodney's eyes narrowed as he stared at John. "I know what you're doing," he said and John had to bite back a smile.
"I'm not doing anything," he replied, giving his best shot at innocence. "I just have faith that you'll figure out the best way to get us out of here. You could even build another hyperspace generator for the 'jumper, I mean, you've done it once, you can do it again, right?"
"Not without a power source and not for the kind of distance we're talking about!"
"Then we'll find another way. There's got to be a naquadah generator somewhere, maybe at one of our alpha sites. Right?"
Rodney's eyes widened and he started snapping his fingers. "Wait..."
"Oh, hi there. Sorry, didn't mean to blind you." John moved the light and felt his breath catch in his chest -- the runner was a kid. A gangly, maybe teenage *kid* and he had a hard time controlling his rage. "Come on over here, are you hungry? We've got food in the -- in our ship."
The kid came closer, warily. He looked almost exactly like a puppy who'd been kicked one too many times and didn't want to trust anyone. "You... you're not..."
"My name's John. What's yours?"
"Chand. Chand Agran. Where... you've got food?"
"Yeah, Chand, we do." John kept his voice soft. "Come on, I'll take you to our ship. It's shielded so the Wraith can't pick you up."
Chand finally closed the distance between them and in the light, John could see the boy was covered with bruises and his nose looked broken. He was filthy and dressed in rags and John wanted to hit someone, hit whoever had hurt this *kid*. "We're up here, Chand." He touched his earpiece. "Rodney? We in the clear? I've got a passenger who looks hungry."
"Nothing anywhere near us and the 'gate is still clear," Rodney said. His clipped, sharp words told John he'd been listening in. Wait until he saw Chand, John thought. He was going to be *livid*.
They got up the stairs and out the front door, John being careful not to crowd Chand. He kept up a low-voiced running monologue, nothing special, just working at being calm. When Chand saw the 'jumper de-cloak, he stopped and his eyes grew wide. "That's... that's a ship from the Ancestors!" He turned and looked John up and down in the light from the open hatch of the 'jumper. "Are you from the City of the Ancestors? We thought you were all dead."
"Rumors of our demise, et cetra," Rodney said, coming back to meet them. "But Atlantis is gone. I'm Rodney."
"Rodney is my partner, Chand," John said, indicating Chand should board. "He's going to turn off the transmitter so the Wraith can't find you any more."
"The what?" Chand looked confused and in the light of the 'jumper, John realized how skinny and wounded he was.
John rolled his head over so that he could see Rodney. "Maybe not?" Rodney's eyelids were at half-mast, his hair was sticking up in little tufts and he was streaked in chalk dust. In other words, he looked almost unbearable sexy and John couldn't help himself, he leaned over and swallowed whatever Rodney was going to say with his mouth, giving him the dirtiest, sloppiest kiss ever.
After a surprised second, Rodney started kissing John back, just as enthusiastically. "God you're hot when you're doing math," Rodney gasped as John bit at his neck.
That really should have been funny, and it was, and part of John was laughing hysterically but most of him was chanting 'off off off off' and trying to get both his pants and Rodney's off or at least open as quickly as possible. It seemed Rodney was feeling the same way because he was trying to do the same thing in reverse; they kept getting in each others' way and ended up rolling around in the chalk dust on the too-hard floor, kissing and gasping and fumbling at each other, finally managing to get access to each others' dicks by nearly ripping the fabric apart.
John dove down and got his mouth around Rodney's cock and Rodney rasped, "Oh God, you're a genius, here, here, let me, oh God, do that, do that again..." as he twisted and flailed until they were in a sixty-nine position, until Rodney got his mouth around John.
And Jesus, it was good, except John still had to pee, but he had to come more, and Rodney's dick smelled like concentrated Rodney and tasted so fucking good John thought he would never, ever lose the taste and scent, and he didn't want to. He hollowed out his cheeks and sucked, using his tongue to tease the slit, tasting pre-come and slurping all the way down as far as he could go then all the way back up again, knowing how good it felt by how Rodney's hips jerked slightly with every movement of John's tongue.
The only problem was Rodney's mouth around him was even better. Rodney was really, really good at giving blowjobs, the scientific method and all that. He'd studied exactly what made John go absolutely insane with pleasure and refined it so that he could make John go off like a fucking firecracker. He even enjoyed doing that, the rat bastard, driving John crazed with the need to come and holding it back, ratcheting up the bliss-o-meter until John's head nearly exploded from it.
But this time, this time no, the suction was so damn good and Rodney was just pulling out all the stops and it was drawing John right to the edge, to the edge and over it, hard and fast. He felt like a goddamn teenager he came so hard, so hard he saw stars, whining around Rodney's dick which started pumping it's own load down John's throat, staccato pulses of bitter pleasure shooting every which way.
There's your preview, and I hope you all like it!