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Week #43 - Hand in Hand

Title: Hand in Hand
Author: ladysorka
Paring/Characters: Mostly Team Gen (slight implied past Sheppard/Holland)
Rating: PG
Words: 3350
Warnings: None
Summary: This was going to give John some sort of complex. Or an incredibly bizarre fetish.

John knew something was wrong when he walked through the gate and almost ran smack into Rodney.

"McKay! Move!" John gave Rodney a gentle push, but he didn't budge.

"I don't think I want to get off the platform." Rodney looked slightly faint.

"I agree with Rodney," Teyla said slowly.

John finally looked out at the planet and frowned. Gone was the gentle field of grasses that they'd seen through the MALP's camera, and in its place was a jagged field of rock. Some of the outcroppings had to be at least ten feet tall, and everything looked razor sharp, even the gravel.

"Are you sure this is the same planet, McKay?"

Rodney rolled his eyes and pointed at the MALP sitting at the edge of the platform. "What do you think?"

"...right." John thought for a moment. "Could it be a Stargate that moves from planet to planet? Didn't that happen to SG-1 once?"

Rodney stared at him. "No."

"It doesn't move or it didn't happen?" Ronon asked.

"I. Both. The Stargates weren't moving, they were just dialing themselves at set times and transporting... you know what, never mind. Why don't we just dial Atlantis and leave?"

John gestured out at the DHD, which was surrounded by rocks that looked disturbingly like shark teeth. "Feel free."

"Oh, ah." Rodney backed up into the Stargate.

Ronon glared out at the rocks. "I'll go."

John shook his head. "No, I will. These boots were about ready to be retired anyway." John braced himself and stepped off the platform.

He found himself in the middle of the desert. Giant red sand dunes, bigger than any he'd ever seen before, rolled out in front of him. The DHD was nowhere in sight. He turned around, already knowing what he'd find. The Stargate had vanished.

"Fantastic," John said, and sighed. He took a step in the direction he knew the Stargate was, hoping he'd just end up back on the platform.

"Johnny!" A voice called out from a distant dune, and John started. "Johnny, come here!"

He knew that voice. He turned around. "Mom?"

"Johnny! There's something I need to show you!" John could see his mother standing on the crest of the next dune, waving at him. Her long brown hair whipped in the wind behind her. She looked the way she had when John was young, before his father had beaten her spirit down in an attempt to turn the hippie he'd married into the perfect corporate wife.

John closed his eyes. It was just a hallucination.

"Johnny!" She laughed. It was just the way John remembered it. "What are you waiting for? Come here!"

John took a step toward her almost involuntarily, and then another. He'd almost forgotten she was a hallucination when he felt a hand gripping the back of his vest and he was yanked back onto the Stargate platform.

He landed ass first on the hard stone and blinked out the DHD surrounded by jagged rock. "What the hell just happened?"

"I was hoping you could tell me." Rodney's face was grim.

John shook his head. "I stepped off the platform and the Stargate was gone. I was in a desert. What'd it look like from your end?"

Ronon shrugged. "You vanished."

"That's it? How'd you grab me?"

"Ronon began to follow you and found you by touch, bringing you back before his feet left the platform," Teyla said.

"Thanks, buddy." John smiled at Ronon, then turned to Rodney. "What the hell's going on?"

Rodney grimaced. "I have no idea. You were in a desert? That's it?"

"I, uh, I saw my mother."

"You saw your mother," Rodney said flatly. "You didn't think that was important enough to mention the first time?"

"She talked to me, too." John shrugged. He didn't really want to think about it.

"Of course she did!" Rodney paused. "What did she say?"

"John may not wish to share, Rodney." Teyla had what John was beginning to think of as her Mom Face on.

Rodney looked embarrassed. "Right. Forget I asked."

John waved his hand. "No, it's fine. She was asking me to come look at something."

Rodney frowned. "She was trying to get you to go somewhere?"

John nodded grimly. "And I felt compelled to go there."

"Well that's... not good."

"No kidding. Any ideas?" John asked.

Rodney frowned. "Not yet, give me a second." He turned to his tablet and tuned the rest of them out.

Teyla put her hand on John's arm. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine, Teyla." John resisted the urge to pull his arm away.

She nodded slowly. "If you need to talk...." She smiled wryly, knowing he wouldn't take her up on the offer.

John smiled at her. "I know where to find you." She patted his arm and walked over to Ronon, speaking in low tones.

John looked over Rodney's shoulder. "Anything?"

"Mmm, maybe." Rodney pointed at a video on his screen. "See that?"

John looked at it. "The video the MALP sent?"

Rodney nodded. "Except that's not a recording. That's live. That's what it's seeing right now."

John stared at it. The sedate field of grasses waved in the wind. He looked out at the sharp rocks in front of them. "Okay, what the hell?"

Rodney lifted up the life signs detector. "And this is a ridiculously strong energy source about three kilometers that way," he pointed to the left of the DHD, "and a slightly smaller one straight ahead."

"My mother was trying to get me to go straight."

Rodney frowned. "I'm guessing what's straight ahead is some sort of trap, to make sure people don't find what's to the left of us. I think we're going to have to go towards the large one. If I'm right, we're going to have to turn off the thing that's messing with our heads before we can use the DHD."

"You just want to get your hands on the source of that giant energy signature."

"Okay, yes, but we're going to have to go there anyway." Rodney crossed his arms.

"How do you suggest we get there if we can't see each other, see what's actually around us, or possibly even hear each other?" John really didn't want to just sit on the platform for ten hours waiting for the standard check-in when a team was late, but they might not have a choice here.

"I, ah." Rodney shrugged. "I'll get back to you on that?"

"I may have an idea," Teyla said, coming up behind them.

"What?" Rodney asked.

"Ronon could feel you when he reached out. Could you feel him as well, John?"

John nodded. "Yeah, I could."

"Then the solution is simple. We will hold hands." Teyla smiled at them, her eyes twinkling

"You want to us to walk three kilometers holding hands?" John stared at her. This might be the worst mission ever.

"It will be the easiest way to remain together if we can not see one another." Teyla was definitely trying not to laugh at him. John fought the urge to pout at her.

"That solves the not being able to see each other problem," Rodney said, "but it doesn't help us with not actually being able to see what's around us."

Ronon pointed at the MALP. "Can we use that?"

Rodney shook his head. "It's too bulky and not designed for going long distances, and the camera can't be removed easily." He frowned. "Maybe I can... hmm."

Rodney picked up the LSD and started fiddling with it. John thought he waited a decent amount of time before finally saying "Well?"

"It's not a feature we use much, but the LSD can give us a basic local topographic map. It won't help us not run into trees or alien bears, but at least we wouldn't fall into a ravine."

John nodded. "I don't think we have much of a choice. Hand it over, Rodney."

Rodney blinked at him and clutched the LSD tight against his chest like a teddy bear. "Why?"

"Do you want to be first in our little hand-holding line?" John held out his hand.

Rodney sighed and gave him the LSD. "You know how to read a topographic map, right?"

John whacked him on the back of the head.

"Hey! And the..."

"Big blinky thing is the energy source, McKay, I know." John rolled his eyes and then stumbled as the ground began to shake. The platform cracked and started to shatter. Whatever wanted to them to move was running out of patience. "Take my hand!"

Rodney grabbed John's hand and John had a moment of distraction thinking about just how odd his day was turning out to be. He stumbled in another tremor and called out "Are we ready to go?"

Teyla was standing between Rodney and Ronon, gripping both their hands tightly. "Go, John!"

John stepped off the platform, tugging Rodney along with him. He was in a desert again, but it was different this time. This was more rock and scrub brush than rolling dunes. He walked forward until he was far enough he could be sure everyone was off the platform and finally looked back. The Stargate was gone and so was his team. His hand gripped Rodney's for a moment, just to remind himself they were really there. Rodney squeezed back.

"Can you guys hear me?" John asked, not really expecting an answer. He didn't get one. John was beginning to feel like Orpheus. Or the Pied Piper.

He looked down at the scanner that was in his other hand. According to it he was standing on a broad, flat plain, so, safe enough. He started walking towards the large, blinking energy source. He gripped Rodney's hand so tightly that Rodney was probably swearing up a storm.

"Sheppard!" A voice called to his right. John refused to turn and look, keeping his eyes firmly on the LSD.

"Sheppard, man, come on! You still owe me, and I've found the perfect little spot for you to pay up." Holland's voice was teasing, the way John tried hard not remember it. John closed his eyes for a moment and took a breath, but ignored it.

"At least look at me, Sheppard, what the hell is this?" Holland's voice was getting angry, and John couldn't help it. He looked. Holland's hair was disheveled and his broad chest was tanned and glistened lightly with sweat in the desert sun. John stopped for a moment, and he felt Rodney bump into him. It was enough of a shock to get him to keep moving, and he squeezed Rodney's hand in apology. Rodney dug his fingernails into John's hand and then rubbed his thumb lightly over John's. This was going to give John some sort of complex. Or an incredibly bizarre fetish.

"Don't leave me, Sheppard!" Holland's voice was different now, raspy the way it had been at the end. "You promised me! You can't leave me here to die!"

John took a deep breath and didn't look. This wasn't Holland. This was a sick hallucination some Ancient gadget was pulling out of his head, and he wasn't giving in. He wasn't going to let it get to him. But he sped up, dragging Rodney (and Teyla and Ronon) behind him. He felt a little guilty making them speed up, but given what the blasted thing was making him see, they probably wanted to escape whatever they were seeing just as badly as he did.

Holland kept pleading, his voice getting fainter and fainter behind John as he walked as fast as he could without breaking into a jog. Finally the voice vanished all together and John breathed a sigh of relief, slowing down a little. Rodney's hand squeezed his in what John assumed was thanks. John squeezed back.

There was a door in front of him. John stared at it, then glanced down at the scanner in his hand. The power source was still over a kilometer away, so this wasn't it. The door was clearly Ancient in design. It looked like it could've come straight out of Atlantis, aside from the fact that it was just a door standing in the middle of the desert connected to nothing.

"I didn't say 'exit'," John grumbled. He paused for a moment and then said "Computer, end program." He was oddly disappointed when nothing happened.

The desert around the door was beginning to disappear the closer John got to it, and John sighed. It looked like they weren't going to have a choice. Through the door it was. He gripped Rodney's hand tightly and, rubbing Rodney's thumb in silent apology, waved their hands over the door sensor. It opened onto blackness, and John closed his eyes and stepped through.

"What the fuck?" Rodney said, bumping into John.

John whipped his head around, not letting go of Rodney's hand. "You're back." Rodney's face was white.

"That was most unpleasant," Teyla said, obviously shaken. John noticed she wasn't letting go of Rodney or Ronon's hands either. Ronon's eyes were wet like he'd been crying, and John was never asking.

"No, seriously, what the fuck?" Rodney used his and Teyla's hands to point out at the room they'd entered. It was full of Ancients.

One of them looked up. "Oh!" She said. "Welcome! Are you our relief? We've been waiting so long we thought everyone had already gone."

"Uh," John said. "No, I don't think so."

"Of course you are," the Ancient woman said, not hearing him. "Please, come, we will break our fast together before my team returns to Atlantis." She started walking away.

Rodney loosened his grip on John's hand and looked like he was about to follow. John squeezed Rodney's hand tightly. "Rodney! It's not real. It's another hallucination. It wasn't able to get us separately so it's trying a new tactic." John held out the LSD, which was clearly blinking with only four lifesigns.

"Right," Rodney said. "Right."

John looked at Teyla and Ronon. "You guys ready to keep going?"

"Yeah," Ronon said. "I want this thing off now."

"You and me both." John sighed.

"Lead on, McDuff," Rodney said, waving his and John's hands.

"You know that's not the actual quote, right?" John asked, walking forward and ignoring the Ancients surrounding them.

"What do I care?" Rodney asked.

"Just don't use it in front of Kaleb," John suggested. He was keeping half an eye on the Ancients, they were starting to look angry.

"Oh please, like I care what that moron...."

Teyla cut Rodney off. "John."

"I see it, Teyla," John said, speeding up.

"Go faster," Ronon said. John looked behind him and saw that the Ancients were starting to follow them.

"Okay, people, we might have to start running soon. This could get awkward." The Ancient's faces were changing, getting paler and developing slits, and their hair was getting longer and losing color.

"No! No running!" Rodney yelped.

"Yes running!" John dodged the Wraith who was coming straight at him, dragging Rodney and the rest of the team along with him. The hallucinations weren't just trying to distract them anymore. They were getting dangerous. Ronon pulled out his gun.

"You don't even know what you're shooting at! You're probably just killing trees!" Rodney's hand was slipping in John's, and John gripped it as tight as he could. Rodney dug his fingernails deep into John's hand. John winced but didn't loosen his grip.

"It's making them stop," Ronon pointed out, shooting every Wraith that got close to them. They were increasing in numbers now, and John ran faster. They had to be getting close.

The shooting stopped, and John turned his head to look. The Wraith were gone, as suddenly as they had appeared. He looked down at the scanner. They were almost on top of it. John looked up and saw another door at the end of the dark hallway, and he slowed down.

"I think that's it," John said, gesturing at the door.

"Oh, thank god." Rodney sounded out of breath and John smirked. Time to start dragging him out of bed to go running with them in the mornings again. It never took for long, but every once in a while he had to try. John stopped, and Rodney bumped into him. "Would you stop doing that?"

"Do you see what I see?" The dark hallway wasn't a dark hallway. It was a dark gigantic pit. There was no floor between them and the door, just a deep, cavernous drop that seemed to have no bottom. It was at least 50 feet across. There was no way they could jump it.

Rodney rolled his eyes. "Look at your map, idiot."

John had kind of forgotten about that. He pulled it up. The topographic map still told him that he was on a large, flat plain. There was no canyon or valley in front of him, and it should still just be solid ground. He looked at the giant pit, and then back at his map. Solid ground. Right. Where was some sand when he needed it?

John closed his eyes and put one foot out onto what appeared to be thin air. It connected with ground and he breathed a sigh of relief. He opened his eyes and looked down, and felt his foot start to slip. He threw his weight backwards to keep his balance and closed his eyes again. It was a plain. He was standing on a grassy plain. He could almost feel the sun on his face. He put his foot down again, and it stayed firm.

"Whatever you do, don't look down," John said. He put his other foot out, keeping his eyes closed. He stayed steady. He was on a grassy plain. "Just close your eyes and keep telling yourself you're on standing on the ground. You have to believe it."

"I'm on a wide open field," Rodney chanted softly to himself, stepping out behind John, his hand slippery in John's grasp.

Teyla was taking deep breaths. John had no idea what Ronon was doing, but it was obviously working for him. They slowly worked their way across the gap (the grassy plain, John told himself, the grassy plain), until John palmed open the door and they stumbled inside.

This time, the Ancient room was more clearly real. It was in that state of disrepair they were used to seeing out in the field, but John didn't let go of Rodney's hand.

"We can't be sure it's real," John said and Rodney nodded. John led them all over to the console and Rodney looked at it.

"Try touching that," Rodney said after a minute, pointing with his and Teyla's hands to a small octagonal indentation.

John put the LSD between his legs to free his hand, and laid it down where Rodney was pointing. He thought 'off!' at the top of his mental lungs because it couldn't hurt, and then suddenly there was silence. A hum in his brain that he hadn't even noticed was just gone, and he knew that whatever those hallucinations were, they were done now. He let go of Rodney's hand.

"John!" Rodney said, reaching out.

"It's fine, Rodney. It's off." John walked over to the door and opened it again, looking out over the actual plain, the path they'd taken clearly marked in the tall grasses. "Look."

"You are certain?" Teyla asked, dropping Rodney and Ronon's hands and coming up behind him.

"Yeah," John said. "Yeah, I am. So what the hell is this place, anyway?"

Rodney made a noise that could only be described as a squeak. John whirled around. Ronon already had his gun out. Rodney looked like he was on the verge of hyperventilating.

"Rodney?" John asked, concerned. Rodney ignored him, scrolling through the Ancient data. "Rodney!"

Rodney turned to him, beaming. "It's a ZPM factory."

"It. What?" John couldn't have heard that right.

"This place. It makes ZPMs." Rodney bounced on the balls of his feet. "I'll need to examine it more closely, but it makes ZPMs. And I think it still works."

John grinned and turned to look out at the blowing grass. This was the best day ever.

Comments

( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
admiralandrea
Mar. 24th, 2012 02:35 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that was exciting! And I had to grin at the mental image of the four of them walking along holding hands *g*
ladysorka
Mar. 24th, 2012 09:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.
hoktauri
Mar. 24th, 2012 02:50 pm (UTC)
Fantastic! What a unique premise, and it totally sounds like something the Ancients would do to protect their ZPM factory. I loved the team holding hands! *smishes team*
ladysorka
Mar. 24th, 2012 09:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I tend to think the Ancients had all sorts of weird tricks up their sleeves that we never saw.
danceswithgary
Mar. 24th, 2012 03:00 pm (UTC)
Cool team fic! :-D
ladysorka
Mar. 24th, 2012 09:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :D
schneefink
Mar. 24th, 2012 05:14 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed that, nice team fic :)
ladysorka
Mar. 24th, 2012 09:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm really glad you enjoyed it.
goddess47
Mar. 24th, 2012 06:00 pm (UTC)
Lovely to see them working together like that...

Good job!
ladysorka
Mar. 24th, 2012 09:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad it worked for you.
esteefee
Mar. 24th, 2012 07:42 pm (UTC)
this read exactly like an episode to me. awesome.

"You just want to get your hands on the source of that giant energy signature."

um. :D hee!

the hand holding was such a great touch. no pun intended.
ladysorka
Mar. 24th, 2012 09:35 pm (UTC)
Wow, thank you! :D I'm glad you enjoyed it.
trillingstar
Mar. 24th, 2012 08:15 pm (UTC)
Wonderfully imaginative! I loved the team interaction at the beginning (well, throughout, but especially at the beginning!), and I liked how you showed how the apparitions affected them all. Teyla's idea to hold hands gave me a fab visual. *g*
ladysorka
Mar. 24th, 2012 09:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm really glad it worked so well for you.
ceitie
Mar. 24th, 2012 09:23 pm (UTC)
Very cool story!
ladysorka
Mar. 24th, 2012 09:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
ozsaur
Mar. 24th, 2012 09:26 pm (UTC)
Whew! That was suspenseful! Enjoyed it!
ladysorka
Mar. 24th, 2012 09:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm really glad you liked it.
rensong
Mar. 24th, 2012 11:31 pm (UTC)
Aww, loved it! Teamy goodness for the win, and hand holding to boot!
ladysorka
Mar. 25th, 2012 08:50 am (UTC)
Thank you! :D
panisdead
Mar. 25th, 2012 01:04 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this, and I liked that you left what the other team members saw up to the imagination. Poor Ronon--I can only guess.
ladysorka
Mar. 25th, 2012 09:00 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. And yeah, I think Ronon's was almost definitely the worst.
mecurtin
Mar. 25th, 2012 01:18 am (UTC)
This is a great team fic, scary in a way canon didn't really try (i.e. not many explosions, just a clench in the heart).

I do kind of wonder what Rodney saw. And whether John starts to wish he could hold Rodney's hand on other occasions.
ladysorka
Mar. 25th, 2012 09:07 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I bet John secretly wishes he could hold Rodney's hand all the time.
tzzzz
Mar. 25th, 2012 04:05 am (UTC)
That was great! Thanks for writing.
ladysorka
Mar. 25th, 2012 09:07 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.
saphirablue
Mar. 25th, 2012 09:07 pm (UTC)
This is such an awesome story!

I love the John POV, I love the handholding, I love the way the factory tries to protect itself, I love the Teamness. ♥

Thank you very much for this fic!
ladysorka
Mar. 26th, 2012 08:57 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
tridget
Mar. 26th, 2012 12:13 am (UTC)
Cool premise for the story. Loved the way the team had to hold hand to make it through the peril. The ending was a plausible explanation for the defense system and very delightful. I enjoyed this.
ladysorka
Mar. 26th, 2012 09:25 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad it worked so well for you.
sholio
Mar. 26th, 2012 02:28 am (UTC)
This is really fun and adorable. <3
ladysorka
Mar. 26th, 2012 09:25 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! :D
lilyfarfalla
Mar. 27th, 2012 02:48 am (UTC)
This was fantastic!! I love the Ancient device plot line, and Teyla's solution (yay hand holding!!!) and that it was a freaking ZPM factory!!! AWESOME!! Seriously, too cool. I just love that the danger was all in their minds, but that didn't make it any less real. I'm curious about what the others saw, but John never would ask, it's true. Aww, just so good. *team*!
ladysorka
Mar. 27th, 2012 07:26 am (UTC)
Oh wow, thank you so much! This comment completely made my day. I'm glad you enjoyed it!
sgatazmy
Aug. 24th, 2014 12:25 am (UTC)
Just found this story and it was a fun read. I love the idea that the ancients would use someth I no like this to protect a zombie factory.
( 35 comments — Leave a comment )

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