Thursday, February 8th, 2007 02:13 pm
Title: Colonel Magpie
Author: [personal profile] bluflamingo
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Pairing: John/Rodney
Rating: G
Words: 1759
Feedback: Yes please. Even if it’s bad. Especially if it’s bad.
Disclaimer: No, I don’t own them. To my profound disappointment.

Summary: (Pica pica) most recognised for their attraction to shiny things... (Spoilers for Sunday)

AN: For [livejournal.com profile] 14valentines Day 8 Peace Movement



Colonel Magpie

One for Sorrow…

Stasis chambers aren’t exactly a new thing in the Pegasus Galaxy, and some of them even prove not to be yet another attempt by the Galaxy to kill them. Either that, or they’re just getting more cautious: John’s not sure which is the better option, actually.

Once life is no longer a desperate quest to find a ZPM, they start sending teams out into the city to explore. John’s doing one of his occasional tag-alongs, this one with what might become their fifth gate team, when he swipes his hand over a door crystal that opens smoothly, into a long, brightly-lit corridor. As soon as he steps into it, he realises it’s not a corridor at all, just an unusually narrow room. The walls are lined with rows of stasis pods, their glass fronts opaque. John moves closer to the nearest pod and sees a screen above it, displaying Ancient numerals in blue script below the words “date of death”.

He walks slowly down one side of the room, dimly aware of the team moving into the edge of the room, exclaiming over the pods. Every screen is lit with dates, none of them much more than 10,000 years ago. Casualties of the war against the Wraith, he thinks, and then his brain catches up with what he’s reading. They’re not stasis pods at all: they’re graves.

*

Two for Joy…

John loves his job, enough to make the boring bits in between near death experiences and daring rescues almost bearable. Not bearable enough that he doesn’t sometimes have to get away from reports and personnel evaluations before he goes crazy, though.

This being one of those times, he wanders down to the Physics lab, where Zelenka gives him the latest box of we-don’t-know-what-it-does-but-it-must-do-something that they’ve found around the city and off-world. John pokes through it, looking for something that might be interesting, and finally pulls out a small purple ball covered in soft spikes. It fits neatly into the palm of his hand and, when he thinks *on* at it, starts vibrating.

John lets it go on for a few seconds, just in case it turns out to serve some kind of useful purpose. He’s about to think *off* at it and try something else when the vibration changes, becomes faster and lighter and he can’t stop the thoroughly unmanly giggle that escapes.

Zelenka looks up, surprised. “Tickles,” John explains. He waits until he’s got Zelenka’s full attention, then tosses the thing at him. Zelenka catches it smoothly, and then he’s giggling as well.

“Dr Jenkins,” he calls, and throws the thing to the scientist when she looks up.

They’ve still got no idea what the device is for when John leaves to go back to his paperwork, but everyone looks a lot more relaxed.

*

Three for a Girl…

John doesn’t remember what happened to Teyla’s necklace; he suspects it’s still in the labs somewhere and no-one’s remembered to give it back to her. He catches sight of the charm on another of what’s beginning to feel like an endless succession of partly industrialised trading planets they’ve hit on recent missions. The stall holder sees his interest and pulls the charm out, holding it to the light so it can swing on its leather thong.

“You want this?” he asks.

John glances over his shoulder. Teyla’s talking to another stall holder and Ronon’s keeping an eye on Rodney, who’s been distracted by interesting energy readings, just for a change. “Yeah,” he says, feeling like he’s doing something illegal, or at least ill-advised. “How much?”

“Thirty,” the stall holder says, which even John, with his limited grasp of Pegasus exchange rates, knows is kind of steep. Still, he doesn’t exactly have time to haggle, so he hands over the square tokens this planet uses for currency and lets the trader drop the charm into his open hand.

It’s not as like Teyla’s as he thought at first, but the resemblance is close enough. He closes his hand over it, intending to pocket it, and the charm immediately grows warm.

The trader grins when John looks up. “Magic,” he offers. “A bargain.”

“Uh-huh.” John stuffs the charm into his tack vest hastily.

It’s not the first time he’s heard Ancient tech and the ATA gene described as magic, but he gets the scientists to check it out anyway before leaving it in Teyla’s bag after training one day.

Sometimes, it’s nice to at least pretend they’re learning from their mistakes.

*

Four for a Boy…

There’s not a lot in Atlantis that requires a natural gene to make it work, and the stuff that does is usually big and important and only used in a crisis. Which, John thinks, is probably a good thing, considering the look on Rodney’s face as he drops something none too carefully on John’s desk, right in the middle of Lorne’s report on how he came to be married to Cadman, again.

“It’s a…” John trails off. It looks like a waffle iron, or maybe a George Foreman grill, but he’s pretty sure they didn’t bring either of those to Atlantis.

“We don’t know what it is,” Rodney snaps, and, oh yeah, that’s the voice he recognises from their first days in Atlantis. “We don’t know because apparently it’s too vitally important for anyone but those with natural genes to operate, even though there’s no real quantifiable difference between my gene and yours.”

“Couldn’t get it to work, huh?” John asks, just for Rodney’s eye-roll of you’re-so-stupid-being-around-you-is-making-me-dumber. He puts his hand out to touch it then stops. “It’s not going to explode, is it?”

“No, Colonel, it’s not going to explode, and I know this because I used my amazing mind powers to discern its purpose.”

“All right, never mind,” John says, and touches the machine, thinking *on*.

Turns out the Ancients placed way more importance on waffles than seems entirely healthy.

*

Five for Silver…

They name the lab the Beckett Ward, and John doesn’t think, at all, about how much of a coincidence it is that they stumble into an Ancient medical lab exactly a year after losing Beckett. Fortunately, there’s nothing in there that would have helped them deal with exploding tumours: Atlantis doesn’t have the same black sense of irony as most of her inhabitants.

John doesn’t understand what half of the equipment does, which puts him about on a par with most of the medical staff, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s all flowing lines and brilliant silver surfaces, and it hums, warm and restful, when he brushes his hands over it. Its discovery cheers up the medical staff, and breaks some of the gloom filtering through Atlantis, and he’d be grateful for that if they never figured out how to work it.

They do, of course, out of necessity, like most things in their lives. John’s not sure if this makes him feel better or worse.

*

Six for Gold…

They came to Atlantis on a mission of discovery in another galaxy, which turned into a fight for their lives and the safety of Earth so fast that they kind of forgot about the discovery part of it, in any sense other than the search for a ZPM and a way of defeating the Wraith. Exploration for its own sake was one of many things they were going to do when the Wraith were finally gone.

John thinks, with the kind of twisted humour that’s all he’s got left some days, that the realisation that the Wraith won’t be gone in any of their life-times is kind of the first really important discovery they make in Pegasus, five years after they’ve arrived.

It’s also the one that reminds everyone they’re not just there to fight a war. As though the scientists have all been given clocks counting down to the end of their research days, suddenly every second piece of paper over John’s desk is a request for Marines to accompany exploratory missions, in the city and off-world, to do more research into a plant they found two years ago, a suite of rooms they closed off when they first arrived and never re-opened.

The abrupt re-awakening of the spirit of scientific discovery freaks him out a little, and leaves him and Lorne scrambling to re-write every duty roster and personnel assignment they’ve got, but after a while, when they reach a balance between cool new discoveries and not getting killed, it gets to be kind of fun. Even Ronon gets into it, in the odd moments when he forgets to sulk over the reduction in their off-world missions.

It’s actually Ronon who finds the device, in response to Rodney’s energy readings, and Teyla who’d picked out the search area for them in the first place, though John’s the one who touches it and activates it.

He explains this to a lot of people over the next few days, that it was a team effort, like everything they do; like the reflected freaked-outness on his team’s faces when people tell them it’s the greatest discovery on Pegasus ever.

It’s just a database search key, John thinks, watching the linguists squeal excitedly in three languages; it’s not like they found the secret to building puddle-jumpers or something really cool.

*

Seven for a secret that’s never been told…

Despite what the social scientists (and most of the rest of Atlantis, come to that) might say, the best thing John’s found in Atlantis isn’t Ancient at all. He’s never going to admit this out loud, because he’s not a 15-year old girl, but the greatest, the best, the one thing he wants to take with him if he’s ever called back to Earth, isn’t a jumper or a drone weapon, or even the contents of the Ancient database, now they can use the damn thing properly.

It’s the annoying scientist he seems to be going everywhere with these days, who rolls his eyes at John, calls him an idiot, then makes him solve Mensa math puzzles just because; who threatens to jump in front of the bullet himself (and means it) the next time John does something he thinks is stupidly heroic and John just thinks of as his job; who steals his food and mocks his hair and sleeps in his bed.

“God, stop thinking,” Rodney groans, throwing his arm over John’s chest. “Sleep.”

And if he could bring the rest of his team as well, John thinks, closing his eyes, that’d be shiny.

Thursday, February 8th, 2007 03:07 pm (UTC)
Truly beautiful story. I loved the flow of it. Thanks for sharing.
Friday, February 9th, 2007 09:53 am (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you liked it.
Thursday, February 8th, 2007 03:38 pm (UTC)
Your story is the first thing I read this morning. What a lovely way to wake up. :-) Thank you!
Friday, February 9th, 2007 09:54 am (UTC)
Thanks :)
Thursday, February 8th, 2007 04:37 pm (UTC)
This is very lovely. :)
Friday, February 9th, 2007 09:54 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Thursday, February 8th, 2007 04:53 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this look at john and their discoveries.
Friday, February 9th, 2007 09:55 am (UTC)
Thanks - I think I was missing strange Ancient devices on the show.
Thursday, February 8th, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC)
This is wonderful. I love the way you tell John's story and all the ways he's got his priorities right.
Friday, February 9th, 2007 09:58 am (UTC)
Thanks. He's definitely got sensible priorities here: Rodney, team, Ancient devices :)
Thursday, February 8th, 2007 05:33 pm (UTC)
Shiny indeed.

I feel all warm and fuzzy now. Thank you.

Saving this one.
Friday, February 9th, 2007 09:58 am (UTC)
Thanks!
Thursday, February 8th, 2007 09:28 pm (UTC)
And if he could bring the rest of his team as well, John thinks, closing his eyes, that’d be shiny.
I've never actually heard the phrase "That'd be shiny" outside of Firefly/Serenity, but I loved to see it here.
Friday, February 9th, 2007 09:59 am (UTC)
Well, I figured someone on Atlantis must have Firefly with them, and it fit so perfectly, I couldn't resist!
Friday, February 9th, 2007 03:11 am (UTC)
That was really very lovely.
Friday, February 9th, 2007 09:59 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Friday, February 9th, 2007 03:17 am (UTC)
This was wonderful: very appropriate for 'peace movement day' and a wonderful moment-in-the-life-of for Atlantis. I really loved the 're-discovery' of exploration, and of course the ending. "Stop thinking" from Rodney. /smile.
Friday, February 9th, 2007 10:00 am (UTC)
Thanks.

I really loved the 're-discovery' of exploration

Blame it on my sociologist brain kicking in (eek, I'm a soft scientist!)
Friday, February 9th, 2007 03:38 am (UTC)
I like these snapshots of the expedition; thanks.

And this made me start laughing: It's just a database search key, John thinks, because, clearly, he's not a librarian.

It might be A Nice Thing To Do to add a spoiler warning.
Friday, February 9th, 2007 10:01 am (UTC)
It might be A Nice Thing To Do to add a spoiler warning.

Oh, I knew I forgot something, thanks... adding it in.

clearly, he's not a librarian.

Yeah, if it doesn't actually do something, he's not so interested!
Friday, February 9th, 2007 05:24 am (UTC)
oh, so shiny.
Friday, February 9th, 2007 10:01 am (UTC)
Thanks!
Friday, February 9th, 2007 08:41 am (UTC)
mmm... so lovely. Thank you.
Friday, February 9th, 2007 10:01 am (UTC)
Thanks!
Tuesday, February 20th, 2007 07:56 pm (UTC)
Liked this. Recced it over on my journal.
Wednesday, February 21st, 2007 04:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the lovely rec. Yeah, it is a common rhyme in the UK< I assumed it was universal, but maybe not.
Monday, March 12th, 2007 07:01 pm (UTC)
This is such a gorgeous look at John, and what Atlantis means to him. I love the rhythm and flow of the way you wrote this. Lovely work :)
Tuesday, March 13th, 2007 09:41 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Monday, April 9th, 2007 01:57 am (UTC)
this is really lovely; the flow of it, and the rhyme framing all of it, and especially the ending -- just wonderful.
Tuesday, April 10th, 2007 01:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007 12:59 pm (UTC)
This is lovely but "Seven" makes me want to hug it. ♥
Wednesday, July 4th, 2007 10:40 am (UTC)
Thanks :)
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007 01:02 pm (UTC)
Oh! How wonderful.
Wednesday, July 4th, 2007 10:40 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007 08:53 pm (UTC)
Really lovely.
Wednesday, July 4th, 2007 10:40 am (UTC)
Thanks.
Thursday, July 5th, 2007 01:48 am (UTC)
in thought and word and deed.
Thursday, July 5th, 2007 09:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Thursday, July 5th, 2007 01:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is wonderful. :-)
Thursday, July 5th, 2007 09:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks :)