Oswald Kittner knew three things so far about his tenure on Atlantis: one, being on Atlantis was seriously, seriously hardcore, and he had no idea how he’d beat out a bunch of older, smarter, more experienced mathematicians for the gig, but he had to kick ass and take names so he could stay; two, Major Lorne was some kind of psychic genie wizard robot, because he knew literally everything that happened on Atlantis, and he could get you anything you wanted, for a seriously bizarre fee; and three, Doc O’Neill had missed his calling in life, should have been a soldier, because the things he could do with his bare hands and a gun were things no scientist should ever know.
Even though Atlantis had both legit and illegal shared media servers, courtesy of the Archivist, people tended to prefer their own personal stashes of music and movies. Oswald had thought to bring many things to Atlantis, had packed and repacked his one shoebox of personal effects - he could order more things over on the Daedalus, so he’d stuck with the essentials. So concerned was he to have his PSP and DS and Kindle and pictures of his family that he’d forgotten the almighty iPod. He hadn’t honestly thought he’d get to listen to music much, doing Serious Science on a Serious Expedition in a super cool Alien City.
As it turned out, just about everybody in the lab listened to their own music at their own workstations. It was usually played quietly, and there was something fascinating about wandering from station to station and hearing all kinds of different music, from Kusanagi’s J-pop to Heidi’s Rammstein to Zelenka’s punk to Hewston’s smooth jazz. The music always cranked up louder whenever McKay got into an argument with Zelenka or O’Neill, who seemed to clash with him most often.
Oswald was late in the lab one night, trying to run projections on the newest round of mini-drone testing O’Neill was doing, but nothing was working, nothing at all. He tried using the whiteboard and all of Kusanagi’s crazy colored and metallic markers, but that didn’t help. He paced laps around the lab, speaking formulas aloud, because that always worked for Heidi, but to no avail. Zelenka’s rubber band ball was also no help, nor was Hewston’s stress ball.
Oswald reached for O’Neill’s yo-yo (he’d once made Sergeant Buckmaster, a Marine with a secret talent for combinatorics, practice Walk the Dog for ten minutes straight before he let her have at the math, and she’d had a breakthrough where she’d been stuck for days before). Oswald could do basic yo-yo tricks, so he scooped it up - and accidentally sent O’Neill’s iPod clattering to the floor. Dammit.
Oswald scooped it up, and music spilled from the headphones attached to it. Not opera music, though, which was O’Neill’s favorite. Funky music, with a jumping bass line and a bouncing beat. Oswald cradled it in his hands and stared at it. The Red Hot Chili Peppers? Oswald and everyone else in the lab was sure that O’Neill knew no music from the last two centuries.
Oswald prodded at it to shut it off, but instead he hit a button that sent it back to the menu. The list of playlists.
O’Neill had a bunch of playlists - Working, Reading, Running, Inspiration, Relaxing, Eureka!
And one of them was labeled Songs To Have Sex To.
That was loaded with Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Oswald fumbled with the iPod some more, got it to shut off - it was one of the old kind, with the click wheels, and the click wheel on it was pretty touchy - and set it back on O’Neill’s desk.
O’Neill was young, under twenty-five, some kind of genius, like pretty much everyone else on the expedition (Colonel Sheppard was not-so-secretly a math genius). Of course O’Neill had an active sex life. Or maybe he’d had one back on Earth? Oswald thought Sergeant Mehra was pretty cute, but he hadn’t worked up the nerve to ask her out yet.
There was only so much a guy should know about his coworkers. Oswald abandoned the yo-yo as well and went to stare at his laptop some more. After a couple more hours, he gave up and went to bed.
The next day he meandered into the lab, yawning over black coffee, and went to stare at his laptop some more.
O’Neill had supergene, almost on par with Colonel Sheppard, but he couldn’t maintain a link to tech and analyze it at the same time, so he picked a soldier off of Doc Murase’s Walking Gene list to light things up for him. Since Oswald was still waking up, he wandered over to O’Neill’s desk. He had a bunch of mini-drones lined up and Major Lorne sitting beside them, one hand stretched over them.
“Be careful with those,” O’Neill said. “Sheppard and McKay went to great lengths to get them from Queen Harmony.”
“Yes, Doc,” Lorne said patiently. He curled his hand into a fist, brow furrowed.
O’Neill swatted him on the shoulder. “No. Relax. That’s better than forcing it.”
“Says the supergene,” Lorne muttered, but he uncurled his fist obediently.
“Relax,” O’Neill insisted. He began to hum softly.
Oswald, about to make a comment about relaxing too much, shut his mouth with a snap. He was humming a Red Hot Chili Peppers song. And Lorne - Lorne was humming along, same song. Didn’t even seem to realize it, the two of them bobbing their heads in time with the beat. And then one of the mini-drones glowed, and another, and another.
“Good job, Major.” O’Neill clapped Lorne on the shoulder, but his hand lingered in a brief caress before he typed rapidly at his laptop. He was really, really fast for a guy who did the hunt-and-peck.
And just like that, Oswald knew.
He said nothing. He finished his coffee and slunk back to his desk, and added a new item to his list of things he knew about Atlantis:
Nothing is as it seems.
Catching McKay and Sheppard making out in an unused side room only confirmed that.