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Lorne scans the cocooned faces as he's pursued deeper into the Wraith cruiser, hoping to see someone from Atlantis.  Someone he can rescue, who can help him rescue himself.

~*~*~

12 hours earlier

Lorne takes a break from watching McKay order scientists around to enjoy the gorgeous scenery.  The initial report said nothing about the sweeping vistas beyond the rim of the continental plateau, but he's already idly thinking about where to set up an easel come his next day of liberty.

All that will have to wait, though.  Today SG-1 and SG-4 have brought a contingent of scientists to X7Y-4P6, home the Vantee, one of Atlantis' most promising agricultural trade partners. It hadn't seemed a likely prospect on their first visit to the planet, when the elders threatened to banish them if they couldn't produce a trade gift as a sign of goodwill. After some discussion with his team, Sheppard had cued an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer up on Rodney's laptop, much to his displeasure ("Who said you could clog up my hard drive with your juvenile Slayer fascination?!").

After calming down, Rodney used his 'waver' to cook up three bags of microwave popcorn as part of the offering.  Nobody knew what the ancient device was actually for, but if you held it over a bag of Orville Redenbacher's best, it popped every kernel perfectly - every time.  Naturally, Rodney had co-opted it for use off-world.  (Just as naturally, the name Sheppard jokingly gave it stuck tight.) 

The Vantee were enthralled with the crunchy snack, and agreed to a trade deal before the first bag was gone - well before the first commercial break. In return for corn seed and instructions on growing it, the Vantee would supply Atlantis with the cwrarsh fruit they have in abundance, resulting in today's mission.

Lorne watches McKay shoo the botanists away so he can concentrate on the team who'll be investigating an odd energy signature.  Two other scientists - experts in solar power and livestock breeding respectively - listen in, uncertain if they should wait for Rodney's traditional belittling of their fields before starting toward the settlement. Smiling wryly at their predicament, Lorne turns his attention to the first group, focusing on David Parrish.

David caught Lorne's eye his first week in Pegasus, but he never made a move because of Don't Ask Don't Tell.  As attracted as he was, Evan simply couldn't risk losing his commission. But now that DADT is out the window, Evan is openly studying the lean form when Sheppard joins him.

"Colonel?" Evan asks, his eyes never leaving Parrish's backside.

 Sheppard follows Lorne's line of sight. He snorts softly and shakes his head. "So, I'm guessing you won't mind babysitting the botanists while they walk over to the first site?"

"I was wondering about something.  If we show the Vantee how to grow their own, why will they need to trade with us?"

Sheppard rubs the back of his neck.  "You know, I asked Telya the same thing.  She said it shows good will and gives us a reputation as fair, even generous, traders.  Of course, she also pointed out that the crop won't come in for awhile, and we haven't taught them how to harvest and dry the corn - which Parrish says is key." Dropping his hand, Sheppard asks, "So, are you ready for this?"

"Hm...  Can I handle guard duty on a planet with no large predators or poisonous plants. Sir, yes, sir!" Sheppard laughs as Evan double times it to where Parrish and the others are walking towards a far field.

"Doctor Parrish," Evan says as he catches up to David.

"Major," David responds with that smile that makes Evan a bit weak in the knees.  One day - soon - he's going to ask David out on an actual date.  Until then, he'll have to keep relying on 'chance' meetings. Maybe after this mission, Parrish and he will end up in the mess at the same time...

"What's going on, Doc?"

"Please, call me David."  Nodding towards a remote section of the vast plateau, David replies, "We're going to meet some farmers about 2 clicks from here.  That's a mile and a half, right?"

"Thereabouts." Evan falls into step beside David. "So we're gonna teach them how to grow corn?"

"Can you believe that there's no equivalent to corn in Pegasus?" David asks.  "It's staggering that something as universal as corn is found absolutely nowhere here." David chuckles as they reach the top of an incline.  "Of course, Pegasus broccoli is bright pink and the potatoes are darker orange than our carrots, so it's obvious that plants evolved from very different stock out here."

Evan taps David's forearm.  "True. But remember, there was no corn in the Old World until Columbus brought it back from the West Indies some time around the early 1500s.  And just think, now you're helping spread it across another galaxy.  You'll go down in history as the Johnny Appleseed of corn."

"Wow.  When did you learn so much about botanical history, Major Lorne?"

"Hey - if you're David, I'm Evan." Lorne focuses on the clumps of grass he's walking over in order to hide his blush. "I did some reading during our downtime on Earth."

"Okay, Evan.  If you're interested, I have some books on medieval plowing techniques. We could study them together," David offers earnestly, and Evan can't help smiling at him.

~*~*~

The walk to the field the Vantee are hoping to plant in takes about 45 minutes. Smido, one of the local farmers, leads them along the trail while Evan and David bring up the rear, exchanging flirtatious looks and comments. Or, that's what's happening if Evan is reading the situation correctly.  He's been out of the dating pool so long that he may need to be whacked with a stick marked Clue.

There's a thick patch of foliage 500 meters short of the field. It reminds Evan of a jungle he'd used to evade a Jaffa patrol, back when he was based out of Cheyenne Mountain, except that those bushes had had needle sharp thorns that were up to five inches long.

Smido shows them how to cut through the base of the grassy stalks with a motion like a golf drive.  The Atlanteans' machetes aren't as suited to the task as Smido's seven-iron - mangling where his slices cleanly - but they do okay, and the party makes their way through pretty quickly. 

"Okay, folks, let's get going," Evan says, as the filmy ochre pollen floats around them.

When they meet the waiting Vantee, David handles the teaching as easily as Teyla does trade negotiations (even without benefit of a Lieutenant Colonel toying with the safety on his weapon nearby).  "I hear you folks want to learn to grow corn."       

Evan wipes his machete on the grass and holsters it before leaning against a convenient boulder.  He rubs his palms on his thighs as he watches Parrish steer the discussion. David was pretty quiet during his first Atlantis mission, but assumed a departmental leadership role on their return. Evan's mind strays into thoughts of David taking control in a completely different context, and he shakes his head to keep the delicious images from dominating his thoughts.

He has his libido under good control until the discussion turns to drip irrigation. At one point David bends over to show how the hoses would be buried, showing off his backside. Despite Lorne's best intentions, David's strong arms and nimble fingers make him wonder how it would feel to be pressed against him.  He has a flash of them tangled in his bed, sheened with sweat and breath coming shallow.

He chuckles ruefully.  In some ways, it was easier back on Earth.  He'd see someone in a bar or restaurant and lock eyes for a few seconds. After a few drinks and some conversation, they'd go to his new friend's place - never his - and make a night of it. With the end of DADT he's free to be himself, but has to face the fact that he has no idea how to ask the doctor out.

He's jarred back to reality as David brings his explanation to a close. "I think that just about covers it. Do you have any questions?" When nobody comes up with one, he claps his hands together.  "Okay, let's get started!"

Two hours of dirty, sweaty work later, they decide to stop. David grabs a canteen and empties it over the back of his neck.  "Much better," David says with a groan.  Evan surreptitiously adjusts himself after wondering if that's what David sounds like during sex.  He jumps up as David strides over.  "I guess it's time to head back to the village?"

Evan watches drop a of water trickle down the long expanse of David's throat, thankful his BDUs are a little loose.  He tears his gaze from the damp shirt clinging to David's chest and says, "Oh, yeah.  Back to camp." He turns and sets a quick pace, leaving the others to catch up.

~*~*~

Evan and the botanists arrive at base camp to find Sheppard and McKay discussing whether or not to stay overnight.  "Permission to return to Atlantis, sir?" he asks, figuring his group's part of the mission is complete.

Sheppard scans the milling crowd of dusty people and says, "You go back with the scientists, Lorne.  We'll stick around one more day, see if there's anything else we can trade for." Leaning in conspiratorially, he whispers, "McKay brought pork rinds."

Lorne laughs heartily before throwing a quick salute. "Yes, Sir!"

Stepping away from Sheppard, he waves one arm overhead and raises his voice so it carries, "Okay, guys, let's get a move on. Gate's 20 minutes away, and chow's in an hour."  He hurries to catch up to Parrish, only to fail once he opens his mouth.  "Hey, us, dinner?" he asks, immediately cursing himself. He's rehearsed this, always coming off immeasurably more suave and sophisticated in his imagination. Luckily, David takes the awkward question in stride.

"Sure," David responds, a blush suffusing his cheeks. "It shouldn't take too long in the infirmary, and-"

"Hold up." Evan calls out, peering across the plain to find whatever just moved in his peripheral vision.

"What is it, Major?" David asks.  There's nothing but cactus-like succulents and the Stargate in the distance.

Evan stares off to the southwest for another moment. "Nothin', I guess. Must have been a mirage."  He drops his fist, releasing the 'stop' hand signal that the scientists probably hadn't understood. Taking a last look around, he heads for the Stargate at a quicker pace, making the scientists behind hurry to keep up, with Sergeant Nichols acting as rear guard.

~*~*~

Carson Beckett looks up as the first arrivals from X7Y-4P6 walk in. Finishing a chart notation on Lieutenant Kowalski, who presented that morning with possible appendicitis, he gestures them into the decontamination area.   "Okay, ladies and gents.  If you'll kindly wait in our spacious lounge area, we'll get started in a few minutes."

Major Lorne pauses at Kowalski's bedside while everyone else troops into the side room.  "How you feeling, Kenny?"  Carson notices Lorne's eyes darting around the infirmary and spares a thought for the stress of maintaining constant vigilance.

"Good, sir," Kowalski says.  "Doc says I should be up and around in a couple days, and back to full duty in two weeks."

"Hmm?" Evan responds distractedly, seemingly focused on a spot just beyond the supply cabinet.  "Two weeks.  That's good." He pats the side of the gurney. "Okay, Doc. We're ready when you are."

"Major?" Carson watches Lorne continue to scan the area as he walks over to Decon.  He makes a mental note to have a discussion with Colonel Sheppard about avoiding hypervigilance issues in his troops.  Calling Marie over to help, he starts the process of pulling blood samples and treating a host of minor injuries - mostly blisters and scraped knuckles - before telling the scientists they can go.

Beckett turns his attention to Major Lorne, checking for visible injuries and taking blood, and asks him to wait while the tests run. (Not coincidentally giving him time to relax in a safe zone.)  Seeing that Parrish stayed behind and is keeping Lorne company, he walks the blood to the analyzer himself, thinking that some quiet conversation can only be a boon in this case.

The scan shows nothing abnormal, so Beckett comes back to discharge his final patient.  "Well, Evan, you're right as rain.  Ya can head on out."

"Thanks, Doc."  Evan stands up, putting a hand on the gurney to steady himself.  Carson notices that he's scanning the back of the infirmary again.

"You all right, Major?" Carson asks, absently noting that David had also thrust out an arm in case Lorne needed steadying.

Evan shakes his head to clear it.  "Yeah. There was a lot of pollen on the planet, and I took an antihistamine for the sneezing.  Guess it's really kicking in."

"All right, lad.  How about you pick out a bed here and rest for a wee bit, or you can go rest in your quarters."  He smiles, already knowing the answer.

Evan looks at Carson askance.

Carson nods decisively.  "Quarters it is, then.  David, would you be a good lad and escort the Major?"

"Sure thing, Carson," David says, putting a hand on Evan's back and walking toward the exit.

Carson watches the pair leave, catching Evan's quiet, "Sorry 'bout this, David."  He can't hear David's reply, but the reassuring way he leans in says that he doesn't mind a bit.

~*~*~

David opens Evan's door with a swipe of his hand. As they shuffle toward the bed, Evan trips, knocking a stack of military personnel files off the table. The folders with their attached pictures scatter across the floor.  "Shit!"

"Oh, I'll get those, Major," David offers.

Evan clutches his arm.  "Don't bother - it can wait.  I'll do it when I get up."  He drops onto the unmade bed, so tired he could sleep in his uniform and boots.  He's done it on plenty of missions.  It seems he won't have to, though.

"Do you need anything, Major?" David asks, making sure Evan is steady enough to sit on his own before he kneels down and reaches for a boot.

Evan stares at the delectable vision next to his bed, nimble fingers efficiently loosening the laces, and clamps down on his thoughts. Imagining a naked and sweaty David is one thing, but in his current state he can't bear to have his desires almost come to life. "No, I'm good," he mutters, pulling his other foot out of Parrish's grasp.

David frowns, but stands up and says, "Okay, then. Sleep well, Major." He nudges Evan down onto the bed and pulls up the cover.

"Thanks, Doc," Evan says.  He hugs a pillow to his chest and burrows into the blanket. It's no substitute for a warm body to cuddle, but it's something.

He's asleep before David leaves the room.

~*~*~

Evan Lorne jerks awake. Wherever he is, it's pitch black and filled with an ominous silence.  Staying still in case there are guards, his mind races with possible explanations: the systems in his room have failed, or maybe there's an Atlantis-wide power failure.  Except, if that was the case, there'd be chatter over the earpiece he habitually leaves on his nightstand for just such a situation.

He tries to reach out, to reconnoiter by touch, but he's cocooned too tightly. As his eyes adjust to the darkness, he recognizes the webbing that holds victims on Wraith ships. Feeling a stab of panic, he struggles mightily against the restraints.

It's no good.  He's wrapped up like a present for the next Wraith who comes along.
"Fuck," he intones, not looking forward to life as a Wraith to-go meal.  "Knock it off! You're trained for this."

Consciously regulating his breathing to a slow, steady pace, he tries to figure out how he ended up on a Wraith ship.  The last thing he remembers is the mission to X7Y-4P6: corn, dirt, sneezing, and Parrish putting him to bed.  How did the Wraith find Atlantis so quickly?  How'd they get past the shield?  Past the Marines on duty? No, wait - it's more likely that his confusion and the pounding in his head are byproducts of a concussion that's also affecting his memory.

Even as he runs scenarios, he's checking his pockets for anything useful. He heaves a quiet sigh of relief when he feels the knife hanging from the back of his belt.  Working it around front against the webbing's constriction isn't easy, but he finally manages it and quickly slices his way out of his prison.

There are no guards visible in either direction, only unfocused eyes staring into the distance.  He tries to wake a few of them up, but they're completely unresponsive.  He doesn't know how he broke out of the Wraith stasis, but he's grateful nonetheless.  Slipping behind a nearby protrusion of the wall, he vows to return for his fellow captives. Right now, though, he has to go to ground - he can't save the others if he's recaptured.

He crouches in a deep shadow and starts formulating an escape plan.

~*~*~

Lorne freezes when he hears voices nearby.  They're muffled - not that understands the language anyway.  He huddles further into the shadow, holding his knife ready to strike. There's a knock, and he wonders if he's being kept in sort of special chamber on the Wraith ship; a special prize for the Queen, perhaps? 

The voices get louder, and he swears he hears one of them say 'Vantee'. He closes his eyes and hopes he's mistaken.  He's hit by a sudden, uncomfortable thought.  What if he only dreamed Parrish tucking him in?  It wouldn't be the first time.  Shit! Did the Wraith attack while they were on the planet?  Where's Parrish? Dammit, why can't he remember?!

Eventually the voices grow quiet, then go away altogether. Plagued by thoughts of his scientists (Parrish) being rounded up by the Wraith, he decides he can't wait here in the shadows any longer.

Creeping along the wall, he comes across a window and stares out into the darkness. He's in space; as far as the eye can see there's a vast, velvety emptiness that fills him with despair. If the Wraith ship has already left orbit, his chances of getting his people safely back to Atlantis have plummeted.

Lorne spots a reflection in the window.  Like every face he's seen in stasis, it's cold and lifeless. Turning to get a better look, he's shocked to discover his friends and coworkers.  He reaches out, but they're only empty husks, as brittle as paper. Everywhere he looks another face - and another, all with frozen expressions...

He leans over and empties what little is in his stomach against the base of the wall that's now the only thing holding him up.  He retches again and again, tears forcing their way out of eyes squeezed tight against the pain of loss.

The spasms die away after an unknowable length of time. Evan wipes his mouth and stuffs his emotions down deep where they'll stay until he gets out of this, assuming he does. He takes a deep breath and decides that if it's too late to save his friends, he'll have to avenge them. Hugging the wall, he crabs his way along the passage, looking for a way off the ship, or a way to destroy it.

The wall leads him another room that's much larger than the last, by the sound of it.  He stops to let his eyes adjust to the slight increase in light.  "Dart bay?" he wonders aloud.  He continues along the wall, turning a corner and finding... "A puddlejumper? Why in hell is there a puddlejumper on the Wraith cruiser?"  Again, he searches his memory fruitlessly - is this how the Wraith picked them up?  Jumpers only go out with two or more personnel, so another Atlantean must have been captured along with him.   On the bright side, his odds of getting them off the cruiser just got better.

Hunger pangs interrupt his thoughts. Figuring he'll raid the provisions on the puddlejumper, he locks himself in and collapses into the co-pilot seat. The lights in the cabin are at the lowest possible level, so he thinks "on" at the little craft. Nothing happens, and he wonders if the Wraith somehow managed to tamper with the power unit.  He's watched McKay and Radek take the power units apart about half a million times, and figures he'll at least be able to tell if something's been unhooked.  He rips off the access panel and winces at the clatter, hoping it wasn't heard outside the ship.

Lorne stares at the tangle of wires.  "Jesus," he says, wiping sweat off his brow. He thought the ships mainly worked off control crystals, so the rat's nest he's facing isn't inspiring confidence. "Here goes nothing," he mutters, routing power to what he believes is the engine.

A few tense minutes later a spark flares across the darkness. Lorne wouldn't mind having a pair of insulated gloves, but if this is his shot at escape, he'll take his chances. He keeps at it, dodging the occasional spark, but the console stubbornly refuses to light up.  Finally, the ship lights brighten, accompanied by a low hum. "Hell, yes," he says triumphantly.

Suddenly he hears a voice nearby.  It's not clear, but it's getting closer - and whoever it is definitely just said 'Lorne'. Did the Wraith target him specifically? Or, wait!  Maybe it's Atlantis!

Lorne scrambles toward the voice, but stops short of leaving the jumper. He leans into the vast dart bay, but the voice is gone.  "Shit," he mutters, retreating into the protection of the jumper. Stepping over the panel cover, he sits at the controls and mentally commands the jumper to power up. The unchanged dimness in the cabin seems to mock him.

He's cradling his head in his hands when the light overhead snaps off with a faint snick. "God dammit," he hisses. They must be on to him. He's got to move, and fast.

Lorne sits at the dead puddlejumper controls and goes over his options.  Stealing a Wraith dart would be an option - if he only had the know-how. Sadly, Sheppard's the only one who's managed that feat, as far as he can remember.  And there's the crux of it - he doesn't trust his memory. There's a thought niggling in his subconscious, intruding on his thoughts every few minutes like the rumbling of his stomach.  He checks his pockets for the third time in ten minutes, though it's unlikely that food has magically appeared in one of them.  Snorting, he tells himself to suck it up.  He's gone without food for longer periods than this, and if he doesn't come up with an escape plan it won't matter anyway.

As soon as the klaxon sounds, he knows it's only a matter of time before the general alarm sounds and the ship-wide hunt for him begins.  He has to move - fast.

Almost before he finishes the thought, the dart bay doors open and a dark figure steps in.  It's obviously not a Wraith, but a Wraith worshiper isn't much better. From what Ronon says, they get heightened speed and strength in exchange for betraying humankind, so he only has one shot to get away.  He hefts the cold metal he finds at his hip and crashes it against the man's skull.

Only after the worshipper crumples to the floor does Lorne realize that he coldcocked him with his sidearm.  The concussion - or the stasis - is muddling his thoughts. He'd had no idea he still had his weapon.  He holsters his gun and leans against the wall to plan his next move.

The light flooding in from the hall spotlights the prone figure of the Wraith worshiper.  Lorne grabs him by the arms and drags him into the unresponsive puddlejumper. At least it's good for something.

Lorne lurks to one side of the door, listening for any movement. When he's satisfied the man he struck down was alone, he races barefoot down the hallway.  As he nears a common area, he hears voices and ducks behind a pillar. Two heavily armed Wraith worshipers in strange uniforms are patrolling the corridor.  Whether they've discovered his escape or not, this area isn't safe. As soon as the guards round the far corner Evan slips into a narrow door tucked into the alcove where he's sheltering.

The spongy, springy material covering the floor makes Evan stumble and catch himself on an unseen piece of equipment. God, he hates the Wraith's half-alive/half-mechanical technology.  Holding his hands out, he cautiously makes his way across the room. Suddenly, two figures, each at least a foot taller than him, loom out of the dark.  He freezes, but they don't move.  Either he's invisible, or they're biding their time, waiting for him to get closer.

Evan steps back, intent on making no sound, and bumps into something. Turning around leads to the horrifying discovery of a Wraith glaring down at him with cold, dead eyes. He startles back and the Wraith follows with its hand extended.  His foot catches, and he tumbles to the floor.  It's on him before he can recover.  There's an awful pressure against his chest, followed by the searing pain of feeding. Throughout it all, the Wraith watches him with a sneering disinterest.

As he feels years being sucked away, Lorne remembers his sidearm, and snatches it out of the holster.  Before he can aim, the Wraith rolls off him.  Despite the overwhelming sense of relief that the feeding is over, he's pissed that the creature is lying there basking in his stolen life force. He rolls over and pumps two rounds into the Wraith's face.

Lorne scrambles up before the other two can react. He's weak, and undoubtedly ancient, but still spry enough to unload two rounds into them both as he runs by at a break-neck pace. He's on the other side of the room before they finish clattering to the ground.

"Gotta go, gotta go," Evan chants, keeping his voice down even though the gunfire will have attracted attention.  Seeing no profit in hanging around, he races out the door into a stygian darkness.  He stops short, both to catch his breath and let his eyes to adjust, but hurries down the hall when he hears voices in the room he just escaped, calling out to an unknown master.

~*~*~

Lorne scans the cocooned faces as he's pursued deeper into the Wraith cruiser, hoping to see someone from Atlantis.  Someone he can rescue, who can help him rescue himself.

He ends up in another vast space, this one filled with so much greenery it's like he's been relocated to a planet.  The Wraith don't eat actual food, so he can't figure out what the plants are doing on the ship. Unless... of course, they're to help generate oxygen.  He shakes his head to clear it; this is no time to get distracted. 

Suddenly he's exhausted.  The concussion, the adrenaline spikes, and all the years stolen by the Wraith combine to make him waver where he stands.  Before he can collapse, though, he has to find a defensible position. A search of the area turns up a storage room.  The door is reluctant to open until he forces it.  So much the better, he thinks.  Less chance of someone discovering him.  He huddles behind a crate, tugging a discarded length of cloth off it to pull around him, and lets the mechanical rumble of a nearby generator carry him off to sleep.

~*~*~

"This is getting to be a habit," Evan thinks when he snaps awake, unsure whether it's been an hour since he fell asleep, or a day.  He rubs his face with both hands in an effort to shake off the muzziness. The whiskers bristling against his palms say he's been off-world for at least a couple of days. His memory is still spotty; he barely remembers getting away from the Wraith worshipper. "How long can I keep this up?"  His joints ache, his stomach is trying to turn itself inside out, and he's starting to think he's probably not going to make it back to Atlantis this time.

Evan's not sure what hurts worse, the feeding mark on his chest or the overwhelming loss of a life unfulfilled.  He thinks about never seeing his mother and sister again, and about how he'll miss the soul-deep thrum of being a gene carrier on Atlantis. Mostly, though, he thinks about lost love.  Rebecca, an idealistic college freshman protesting the first Iraq war, first opened his eyes to true intimacy.  Then came Gerald, a regimented ROTC cadet Evan met the semester he took off to 'find himself'. Who would have guessed that the best way to stop Gerald railing against all things Godless - communists, atheists, homosexuals - was to pin him with an abrupt kiss. That summer led into a fall filled with self-discovery and tumultuous passion. 

David Parrish flashes into Lorne's mind, and he realizes that the only thing worse than a love lost is a love missed. If only he'd pursued David despite DADT. Or looked him up after it was repealed, when they were on Earth.  But now, as he runs shaking hands across craggy wrinkles, he knows it's too late. His only comfort is that David won't have to see him like this.

"Jesus!" he thinks. "I sound like a heroine in a bodice ripper.  Screw that!" Determined to go down fighting, he works on levering his stiff bones to a standing position. Having finally creaked his way upright, he spends precious minutes stretching so he can move without groaning.

Evan takes stock of the room's contents, hoping for more options than those he has now.  As he discards a thick, three-pronged fork as not sharp enough to use as a weapon, a trick of the light reveals a door he hadn't noticed before. Opening it, he can't believe the treasure that awaits inside.   He blinks a couple of times to make sure he's not hallucinating before he dares to reach for it.

Space suit. It's a space suit. Where did the Wraith get a space suit? None of the worlds in Pegasus is as technologically advanced as Earth - the Genii come the closest, or maybe that planet they brought Eldon home from.  Whatever, it doesn't matter how it got here. He checks it, front and back, but there's no insignia, so it's definitely not from Atlantis.  But there's an attached helmet, and it looks like it has full integrity.

Evan now faces a tough choice.  Does he sit back and hope for rescue?  Or does he get off the Wraith cruiser - when it means floating untethered in space?

His quandary is interrupted by voices right outside.  He grabs a long, smooth rod with bent metal on one end and hefts it like a bat, ready to attack if they discover him.  The voices pass by and he lets out the breath he hadn't meant to hold.  He sets the rod to one side and rakes his hands over his face. At least it made his decision easy, he thinks as he pulls the suit from the closet.

Climbing into the suit without catching sight of his aged, wrinkled hands isn't easy but he gets it done. Halfway in, he twists a bit too far and gets a stabbing pain in response. Apparently, this is his life now. He rests his forehead against the door, taking a moment to ready himself physically and mentally for the task ahead. Seating the helmet against the metal collar, he takes a deep breath before pulling the door ajar. Now that he's in the suit, with its lack of external mic, he won't be able to hear an enemy approaching. From the sliver he can see, it's some sort of holding area, and deserted.  Widening the gap at a glacial pace, he scours the area for danger, then makes his move when he's sure it's clear.

Evan strides across to a row of portholes looking out on the black emptiness of space.  Turning right on a whim, he follows the wall to the hatch. It's elegant in its simplicity - a door jutting out from the ship, with a single lever to open or close it. He hesitates, knowing that once he pulls the lever any hope of rescue will disappear. Sucked into the vacuum, he'll be just another piece of flotsam until his oxygen runs out. Then he'll become nothing but debris. 

Worried by his wandering thoughts, he briefly wonders how much air is left in the suit.  He snorts a bitter laugh at himself, realizing that there's no good answer to that question. Refusing to check the gauge, he grabs the hold bar with one hand and tugs the handle to open the hatch. Thankfully, the bulky suit nearly mutes the blaring alarm that follows.  The depressurization should be tearing him away from the ship, but he can't feel it. He hangs on to the safety bar anyway, and takes a long look into the vast nothingness.  Finally, he lets go and crosses the threshold, giving himself to the void.

Evan's first step becomes a disorienting tumble as his body transfers from artificial gravity to none at all. He crashes against the ship with a powerful thud as the suit backpack gets snagged and sends him into a spinning roll. The resulting nausea and his weakened state make it impossible to orient himself.  Overwhelmed, he closes his eyes and doesn't fight when unconsciousness comes.

~*~*~

Evan opens his eyes to stars glancing through his field of vision.  Closing them quickly to quell the mounting nausea, he works on slowing his breathing and calming his heart rate.  Throwing up in the suit would be a disaster.

Not that he could be more thoroughly fucked, he thinks darkly.  Concussed, captured by Wraith and fed on, now drifting through space alone with his regrets. It's been a long, bad day. A long, bad, last day, to be specific.  Thoughts of the life he could've had - with David, on Atlantis, maybe even beyond that - choke him up.

Trying to ignore the lightheadedness from poor CO2 scrubbers (unless the tank's already empty and all he has left is what he's rebreathing in the suit), he cautiously opens his eyes enough to look into the vast darkness.  He wishes he could take comfort in the fact that he got away, that he's free and flying, but his memory ends up flashing on an old astronaut movie. One of the crew came untethered and was drifting further away by the second.  Hearing his shipmates - his friends - trying to come up with a plan to rescue him rather than focusing on their vital mission, he tells them good-bye and unlatches his helmet.

'I should do it,' Evan thinks.  It's better than gasping out his last breath, effectively alone in the universe.  At least he'd be in control.  Evan runs his fingers over the latch, but something tells him to stop.  That little voice has kept him safe in life-threatening situations before, so he lets his hand float away from the release. He can always keep that option as a last resort.

Evan's thoughts turn to David and the opportunities he squandered.  Suddenly he gets a feeling, very like the ones he sometimes swears that Atlantis sends him, that David is close. "David." He says the name like a benediction. Letting go of his regrets, for things both done and undone, and tries to be at peace with the universe he now has to leave.

"Evan?" 

Jesus.  His subconscious is a pain in the ass, making him hallucinate David's voice now, when he's finally given in.  His breath is coming in jagged gasps, and he tears up.  It's not fair.  Anger gives him a shot of energy, and he opens his eyes for one last look at life. Instead, he sees the image of David Parrish hovering over him with a concerned expression. 

It hits him like a gut shot - what he could have had and what they've missed.  He caresses David's cheek, amazed at how real this seems. The last thing he manages to do is say, "I'm sorry."  He lets out his final breath and lets go.

~*~*~

Colonel Sheppard drops down to sit cross-legged on the ground next to Rodney for the evening meal and, maybe, some more trading. Teyla shoots a stern look at Rodney's fidgeting, making him grimace and John grin.  The Vantee elders join them, sitting across the serving platform, and dinner begins.  Each person carves off a slice (or, in Ronon's case, a slab) of roasted yak-like creature that tastes just like chicken, much to Rodney's disappointment. Negotiations can start when the last person returns the knife to the platter.

They're still discussing the day's events when a bloodcurdling scream comes from nearby.  John's is suddenly standing with his P90 at his shoulder, muzzle pointing at the ground but safety off and ready for anything.  "What's going on?"

A young man races into the main square screaming incoherently, followed by a trio of guards who quickly subdue him. 

Barata, the Vantee elder, watches the scene unfold with concern. He motions one of the peace officers over.  "Is it Jalla sickness?" he asks, clasping his hands tightly when the guard nods. "This," he says, watching the remaining guards lead the now somewhat calmer man away, "has not happened in many moons."

"Yes, Elder," the young woman responds. "We believe he came in contact with the Jalla sap this morning."

"Jalla sap?" Rodney asks, dropping his fork in case his food's been contaminated. 

"Do not worry," Barata says soothingly. "The effects of the Jalla sap are only temporary.  It causes hallucinations, and sometimes paranoia.  But no off-worlder has ever been affected."

The statement doesn't comfort Sheppard, who raises an eyebrow at Teyla, signaling her to take over the discussion.

"Elder Barata," she asks, "Why have we not heard of this Jalla sap?"

"I understand your concerns, Teyla Emmagan, but there has never been a reason to tell others.  We have never had a trade partner experience any issues.  Even among our population, only a very few suffer the debilitating effects, and they are rarely fatal."

"How rarely?" John asks.

"The sap of the Jalla tree flows only every ten years or so. For those infected, we have medicines to counteract the toxin.  The only danger comes when someone goes untreated.  The last time it happened, two young girls jumped off a cliff to escape hallucinations they thought were Wraith.  Sadly, only one survived.  Since then, we have been very vigilant when we know the sap is running."

"Where did this man come into contact with the Jalla sap?" John asks.

After a nod from Barata, the young woman answers. "He was learning to plant corn in the Quanaka Valley."

Sighing, John says, "Sorry to cut dinner short, Barata. We need to radio Atlantis and make sure all our personnel are accounted for and okay."  He looks over at his team.  "Ronon, you're with me."  Ronon nods, and they jog off toward the gate.

~*~*~

"Atlantis this is Sheppard."

"This is Chuck, Colonel."

"Hey, Chuck.  Who's running the infirmary right now?"

"Dr. Beckett's on 'til 19:00, then Biro has it overnight."

"Thanks, Chuck."  John switches to Carson's private radio frequency and hails him.

"Yes, Colonel?"

"Hey, Doc.  Did anything odd come up in the checkups after the mission?  Anything at all?"

Carson considers.  "Lorne ran into across pollen and ended up taking some antihistamines. He's sleeping them off now."

"Great."  Sheppard's shoulders drop in relief. "Do me a favor, willya, and keep an eye open?   We just found out there's a sap here that's toxic to a small part of the indigenous population.

"I'll be happy to, lad."

"Awesome," Sheppard says.  "Thanks, Doc."  Switching back to the base frequency, he tells Chuck to expect them home some time after dinner.

~*~*~

Sheppard and company straggle back to Atlantis in the wee hours of the morning.  While the other three yawn their way to the infirmary, John climbs the stairs to the control room and finds Amelia Banks on duty. "Banks," he says with a nod. "Anything I need to know?"

"Everything's quiet, Sir.  Yours was the only team off-world."

"What about the group Lorne and Sergeant Nichols went out with?"

Amelia pulls up a life signs detector sweep, adjusting it to pick up only those who'd come back from X7Y-4P6 earlier.  "Most of those personnel are already in their quarters. There's one over in the Botanical lab. Just a minute." She taps in a longer command string.   "Looks like that's Doctor Parrish. And Brown and Standish are in the mess, Sir."

"Great.  Thanks, Amelia," he says.  He jogs down the staircase, ready to join his team in the infirmary.

"Good night, Sir," Banks replies, stifling a yawn as she goes back to wrestling next month's duty roster into shape.

~*~*~

After getting a clean bill of health from Biro, John decides to check in with Lorne.  He can give him a heads-up on the Jalla sap, and maybe they can work out how much more instruction the Vantee will need.

Rodney appears around the corner just as he's about to knock. "John?"

"Hey, Rodney," John says.  "What're you still doing up?"

Rodney looks curiously from John's face to his hand, poised in mid-air. "What am I doing?  What are you doing? Why are you knocking on Lorne's door at," he glances at his PDA, "2:37 in the morning?"

"I need to see how the planting went," John responds, finally knocking.

"Please.  It was a team of botanists," Rodney says with a condescending air.  "Dig a hole, drop in a seed, maybe give it some water. What could go wrong?"

"Raawdney," Sheppard drawls (not whines.  John Sheppard does not whine). "Those botanists are saving our butts; if it weren't for them, we wouldn't be teaching the Vantee to plant corn, and there'd be no trade agreement."

"Corn," Rodney snorts. "Like that's a good crop. Hemp would be so much better - it has a lot more uses, and there aren't any prudish American laws out here to stop them.  Anyway, I'm the one who brought the popcorn in the first place. They should be thanking me for making their great contribution to the expedition possible."

"Yes, McKay," John smirks.  "You're the hero of the day.  Of course, it's only because you wanted a snack, and bogarted that Ancient device nobody could figure out."

"I've figured it out," Rodney says with a defiant tilt of his chin. "It's for making popcorn."

John huffs a laugh and decides his update can wait until morning. Lorne's not answering anyway; he's probably still sleeping off the antihistamines.  Putting a hand on Rodney's shoulder, he turns him around and guides him to his quarters just down the hall.

"And while we're at it, why don't we ever talk one of these backwater planets into growing coffee?  That would be the most useful crop ever!"

John hides his grin.  "McKay, can you imagine what the IOC would say if we got the entire Pegasus galaxy addicted to Kona?"  Seeing Rodney's startled look, he adds, "Of course I know it's your favorite blend, after hearing you bitch about missing it most of that first year."

"Yeah, well," Rodney says, chin again raised in defiance.

"C'mon," John says, urging him into his quarters. "Time for some shut-eye."

~*~*~

"Banks, go ahead."

"Hey, Amelia.  It's Leroy."

"What's up?"  Leroy Johnston is new to Atlantis, part of an expanded scientific contingent for their return to Pegasus.  An inveterate night owl who actively prefers working overnight shifts, he's become a very popular fellow.

"There's a power fluctuation in the crew quarters section. I'm not sure why; it's like something's messing with the power conduits in the walls. Does Atlantis have rats?" He and Amelia both chuckle at the question.

"That would be a negative, Leroy.  Whose quarters?"

"Major Lorne's, ma'am.  Oh, jeez!  Hang on a sec." The sound of frantic typing comes through her headset.  "Sorry - I had to shut it down; it started sparking.  Don't want it starting a fire."

"Lorne's quarters?  Gimme a second." Amelia switches her radio to the military frequency. "Banks to Major Lorne." After a moment with no response, she keys her microphone again.  "Banks to Lorne, come in, please."

After getting the same non-reaction, Amelia calls the overhead speaker for the comm unit in Lorne's room.  "Control room to Major Lorne.   Evan, we need to check out a possible electrical problem in your quarters. Please respond."

Nothing.

Banks clicks back over to the scientist.  "I'm back.  The scanners show him in quarters, but he doesn't answer.  You have a go to check it out."

"Got it.  Thanks."

"You want an escort?" A subsystem pings with the hourly numbers for one of Miko's monitoring studies.

"Why?  Ya got one with a degree in electrical engineering?"  Leroy chuckles.  "Nah, I'm fine. I'll radio if I need anything."

"Okay.  Banks out," Amelia says, moving Miko's report to the proper subfolder. Checking the clock, she realizes it almost 4am.  There should just be enough time to finish inputting the supply request before she has to start on the morning report for Woolsey.  She brings up the Excel order form, making a mental note to check on Leroy before she goes off-shift.

~*~*~

After waving a hand to sound the chime, Leroy steps back and checks that his tool belt has everything he needs.  (He'll never admit it out loud, but sometimes - after fixing as issue on the flying city of the Ancients in a galaxy very far, far away - it feels more like a utility belt.) Pulling his flashlight out of its loop, he activates the sensor again.  Most people aren't as middle-of-the-night alert as he is.  It stands to reason it might take the Major a while to respond.

Two minutes later, he uses the butt of the flashlight to knock. Maybe the doorbell won't work when the power's off in the room.  When he still gets no answer, he pulls the cover off the control crystals and uses Zelenka's trick to hotwire the door.

The mess he sees in the shaft of light from the door freezes him in place. Folders and photos are strewn across the floor, and the bed is draped in jagged ribbons of what used to be a standard issue blanket.  "What the-" he starts. A movement in his peripheral vision has him turning, but a sharp pain in his head blots out everything else. There's a brief sensation of falling, and then nothing.

~*~*~

Lieutenant Laura Cadman and Teyla Emmagan are discussing the particulars of the first training session for expedition newcomers. At first, Laura thought it odd that the SGC would send inadequately trained soldiers and scientists to Pegasus. However, once she considered it - the System Lords usually attack from a distance, and the Ori prefer to use mental powers or plague - the need for additional training became clear.

Laura and Teyla are in charge of Phase One - hand-to-hand combat with a focus on Wraith vulnerabilities, aka "How to Stab a Wraith in the Feeding Apparatus or Eye Socket While Not Panicking". Laura smiles wolfishly as she considers Phase Two, where the military members go up against Ronon Dex. She'd almost feel sorry for them...if she hadn't had to survive the same course.  (After making two geologists and a systems analyst cry in the same session, Ronon announced he'd only train soldiers.)

Approaching the gym to make sure it's set up to their specifications, they're startled by gunfire.  Even as they reflexively duck against the wall, four more shots ring out. Teyla sprints down the hall, while Laura keys her radio.  "Cadman to control room.  Shots fired in the gym.  I repeat, shots fired in the gym.  Cadman and Emmagan responding.  Send reinforcements."

Amelia Banks responds immediately.  "Acknowledged."  Laura hurries to catch up with Teyla at the gym's entrance, hearing the all-call go out on the military band.  "Attention all military personnel.  Shots fired near the gym and rec room.  Teams Four and Seven, please respond.  Teams Two and Three will be three minutes out." 

The last transmission Laura hears before they barrel into the gym is Banks', "Colonel Sheppard, Major Lorne, please respond."  Then she tunes out the radio chatter to scan for hostiles and take in the wreckage.  The training dummies have all been knocked over and shot in the head.  Twice .  The tight groupings suggest someone with military or marksman training.

"Stay here," she tells Teyla, more to brief the security patrol Laura can hear coming than out of concern for her safety. Teyla can more than handle her own.

Willis and Riggs, Security Team Seven, stop just outside with their P90s half-raised. Teyla signals them to wait while Laura checks out the last possible hiding place, and then motions toward the back exit.  The Marines move in unison to bracket the door, while Teyla and her bantos rods covers their six. 

Riggs watches Laura silently count down from three, then ducks through the door with Willis on his heels to cover the other direction. The corridor is empty, and the whole sector is eerily quiet, letting them hear more security coming to help.  Laura's updating Team Four's Russell and Cash when a very cranky sounding Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard steps out of the transporter.

~*~*~

David Parrish is an early riser.  He even moved his bed next to the window so the dawn can wake him. Now, at the height of the Atlantean summer, he's up before most of the birds.  (Literally. The biologists can't explain it, but there aren't any crepuscular birds on this planet.)  His morning routine of watering plants and pulling off dead leaves is going slowly. He's refilling the can, distracted by thoughts of helping Lorne into bed last night, when his radio beeps. "This is Parrish."

"Davie, are you in the lab already?" Kate Brown asks through a strangled yawn.

"No, why?"

"Got an alarm.  One of greenhouse five's external doors just opened.  I thought you might be trying to move those tables out by yourself."

"Not me.   But I'm already dressed - unlike you - so I'll go check it out before breakfast."

"Shut up, you disgusting morning lark," she says fondly. It's a long-standing joke between them. "Let me know. Brown out." Her signoff makes the eternally thirteen-year-old part of David's brain gigglesnort in delight.

David decides to ask Lorne to join him to check on the alarm. That he might see Evan morning-rumpled isn't a consideration.  At all. As he rounds the corner, he sees a military contingent at the Major's quarters, and it throws him a curve, but it's nothing compared to the shock he feels when one of the new scientists - Johnson, maybe? - is carried out on a stretcher.  David hears him tell the orderly, "I don't know why.  He just jumped me." 

Mind spinning, David races for the greenhouse.

~*~*~

Evan's hearing comes back first.  He listens to the quiet buzz of activity, hoping to figure out where he is. There's a light pressure on his left wrist, and the earthy smells tells him exactly who he'll see when he opens his eyes.

Sure enough, David is sitting next to his infirmary bed. What's surprising is that he's sleeping, head on the sheet and one hand over Evan's wrist.  Evan frowns at the angle his neck is at.  He'll get a crick.  "David?" Evan asks, his dry throat making him rasp.

Parrish sits up abruptly, giving Evan a good look at his distressed expression.  Looking down at their hands, David blushes and lets go of Evan's wrist; Evan instantly misses his warmth. "I'm glad you're awake," David says.  "Let me go get Carson." He stands up and starts to turn around.

"David," Evan says again, urgently this time.  Grabbing David's hand to pull him closer, he says, "Carson can wait a minute, okay?  I feel like I've been out for a week!  What happened?"

"A week?  No, Ev- Major, we got back from the Vantee planet less than 24 hours ago."

"24 hours?"  Glancing at their joined hands, Evan gets a look at his own.  The shock silences him completely.  They're not wrinkled, or knobby, or covered in age spots. How can that be? "I don't..." He trails off, not sure what to think.

David squeezes his hand.  "Carson said you might be confused.  Do you remember using your machete on the way to the field?" He waits for Evan's nod before continuing.  "It seems that pollen, mixed with sap from the Jalla tree, can cause hallucinations in a small percentage of their population.  You should be impressed, though. You're the first off-worlder in recorded history to have a reaction to it."

"How the hell-"

David cuts him off.  "And it gets better.  The Benadryl I gave you had some sort of synergistic effect, making it even worse."  He looks at Evan, shamefaced.  "I'm so sorry, Major. I didn't know."

Evan waves off his apology.  "How could you?"  He takes a deep breath.  "So, I wasn't captured and cocooned on a Wraith ship, or surrounded by Wraith worshipers, or fed on?"  He looks at David, who's shaking his head as he sits back down. "Didn't climb out into space to die?"

David turns his hand over and threads their fingers together. "No, thank god. None of that was real."

Blowing out a harsh breath, Evan rubs his free hand over his face. "So what did happen to me?"

"Quite a lot.  From what we've put together, you woke up, cut your blanket into shreds, and tore a panel off of the wall in your bathroom-"

"Oh, god," Evan interjects.  At David's questioning look, he says, "The blanket - I thought it was a Wraith cocoon.  Then I thought I'd found a puddlejumper, but it wouldn't respond to the controls." Evan feels the blush creep up his neck as he realizes he'd mistaken the toilet for the pilot's chair. It explains why the heads-up display didn't work.  "I was trying to access the power unit.  Did I mess up the wiring?"

"One of the night-shift scientists had to cut the power. He came by to investigate-"

"Shit..." Evan mutters, instantly realizing what he'd done. "I thought he was a Wraith worshipper.  I need to apologize. Who was it?"

"Leroy Johnston.  He's one of the newbies," David says.  Evan is scanning the other beds when David adds, "He's already been discharged."

As Evan settles back on the pillows, David continues. "After that - and Cadman can fill you in on this part better - you shot all the training dummies in the gym."

Evan instinctively brings his free hand to his chest, David following the motion with curious eyes.  "I thought they were Wraith, and that I was being fed on." He shakes off the memory. "Then what?"

"We're not sure how, but you managed to escape the area without anyone seeing you.  Nobody realized you were missing - Sheppard thought you were still sick, and Amelia didn't know you hadn't shown up to the shots fired call. Kate Brown called me about an external door sensor being tripped in one of the greenhouses.  I went to ask you to come with me to check it out, and found the Marines helping do first aid on your 'Wraith worshipper'. I double-timed it to the greenhouse and found you.  You'd somehow gotten plastic wrapped around-"

"The space suit," Evan whispers.

"Oh.  You were lying in the courtyard with the plastic wrapped completely around your head, and I thought...  Anyway, you said something, and then passed out while I was trying to get the plastic off and call for help."

David waits patiently as Evan tries to bring order to the jumble of memories and hallucinations from the past 24 hours.  "How long have I been out?"

Looking at his watch, David says, "About nine hours." After another lull in the conversation, he stands up, untangling their hands.  "I really should go get Carson."

"David, wait," Evan pleads.  He wants to say so much, but his mouth is suddenly dry, and he wishes he could sink into the bed.  Amazing. Even after the stinging regret he felt when he thought he was dying, he can't find the words.

"Major," David starts, avoiding Lorne's gaze. "Evan.  You said, 'I'm sorry, David?'  What did you mean?"  When David does finally look at him, his hopeful expression almost breaks Evan's heart.

Taking a deep breath, Evan reaches for David's hand and pulls him closer "I, I was sorry...that I never got to know you outside of work."  Pasting on a smile, he asks, "Will you?  I mean, would you like to watch a movie sometime?  Together?"

David's smile warms Evan's heart.  He steps closer, tripping over the extended feet of the rolling bedside tray table, and knocking over the plastic water cup.  "Yes," David says.

"Whoa, careful there!  Maybe you should sit down so we can talk some more?"  David chuckles and shakes his head as he takes a seat.  "It took me long enough to ask you - I'm not okay with you ending up in the infirmary before we get to go on that date..."

David stands up, but only so he can give Evan a chaste kiss. He's sitting back down when Carson comes in to check on his patient.

~*~*~

Evan isn't discharged until the following morning, much to his disgust. Carson sticks to his guns, though, and keeps him in until he's comfortable with the results of the blood work. After what happened the first time, he decided that 'zero' is the only safe level of the chemical compound in Lorne's blood.  Carson also insists on having an orderly wheel him to his room, which he's pleasantly surprised to find has been tidied up from the previous day's misadventures. Even more welcome is the small fern on a side table, behind the neatly stacked personnel folders. When he goes over to investigate, he finds a note tucked halfway under the saucer.  Reading it brings a smile to his face. Evan taps his radio. "Lorne to Parrish."

A few seconds pass, then, "This is Parrish."

"I'd love to.  I'll see you at six." He signs off, knowing the smile will be around for quite a while.

~*~*~

Rodney McKay and Radek Zelenka are holding a spirited debate in the mess hall. John Sheppard sits back and enjoys the show as they snark back and forth, sometimes supporting their biting quips with scientific citations.  Mostly, though, it's about the snark.

McKay chews on a mouthful of mashed faux-tatoes as he lets Zelenka make some esoteric counterargument in their ongoing feud.  Sheppard spots Lorne and Parrish walk in, and based on their goofy expressions they've finally managed to get their shit together. Rodney McKay glances over to see what's caught John's interest.  Though he'd usually never admit he needs the help of a plant scientist, it's gonna take all hands on deck to make Zelenka see sense.  He calls, "Parrish!" and gestures him to join them.

Sheppard kicks him under the table at the same exact moment Zelenka clips his ear and hisses, "Vážně, McKay?"

John waves Parrish off, and watches as he gladly detours back to Lorne. "Jesus, McKay! For a genius, you can be very dense sometimes!"

"What did I do?!"

~*~*~

Laura Cadman steps away from the makeshift concession stand in Atlantis' new movie theater.  Tired of having to do most of their watching on computer screens, they'd converted an amphitheater the Ancients had used for public meetings while on Earth. Everyone was flabbergasted when the project was approved.  (Laura suspects Colonel O'Neill was behind it - it's just the sort of thing that would amuse him.)

She grabs her popcorn and searches from the doorway until she spots Katie and Miko sitting with Deborah Kiang.  Taking a firmer grip on her soda, she works her way over to them. "Evening, ladies," she says as she takes her seat, noticing that they're all watching something down front. "What's going on?"

Miko leans over and points. "Down there." Laura looks over to see her superior officer and the scientist he's been pining for forever sharing his Jujubes, with David's arm stretching along the back of Lorne's seat.

The lights flicker and start to go down, signaling the start of the movie. Laura watches Parrish pull Lorne in until his head rests on Parrish's shoulder.

"About damn time." She leans back and crunches her popcorn as the credits roll.  Miko leans in and offers up some of her beloved Japanese savory candies, then they all settle in for a two-hour escape from reality.

~*~*~
END NOTES:

Hallucination-to-English translations that weren't explained in the narrative & in-jokes (mostly for our own amusement at how clever we find us. :snerk:)

the webbing that holds victims on Wraith ships = blanket that he twirled into a trap while sleeping

nearby protrusion of the wall = his office chair

comes across a window and stares out into the darkness = wall mirror

but they're only empty husks, as brittle as paper = photos from personnel files

another room that's much larger than the last, by the sound of it = bathroom, with attendant echo

collapses into the co-pilot seat= toilet (inevitably, because we're us)

mechanical rumble of a nearby generator = hum of Atlantis (very soothing)

thick, three-pronged fork = garden hand cultivator (oh, how elderwitty chortled)

long, smooth rod with bent metal on one end = hoe

row of portholes looking out on the black emptiness of space = pre-dawn windows

Evan's first step becomes a disorienting tumble = he fell down and went boom

Willis and Riggs, Security Team Seven = Bruce and Martin (from Lethal Weapon)

Team Four's Russell and Cash = Kurt and of 'Tango &' (wait a minute - Kurt played Cash. I think I pranked myself on that one - elderwitty)

Crepuscular = active at dawn and dusk. (taking advantage of elderwitty's zookeeper schooling)

Notes The Second:
When elderwitty and I looked at this, we took the story idea from the fact that the image has Evan looking at himself; in the image, he's gazing at someone in a space suit. So instead of going what might be the "usual" route, we took a detour to tell this from a different perspective.