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Title: Brains - Not Just for Breakfast Anymore
Author: ldyane
Pairing: John/Rodney
Categories: action/adventure, h/c
Rating: PG
Words: 6,400
Summary: Written for SGA Saturday ‘Brain’ prompt.
Warnings: Zombie movie level violence and gore. May squick. There are zombies, so there may or may not be main character death.
Author's Note: With thanks to my beta, chocolatephysicist. Any mistakes remaining are my own, because I insist in fiddling after she's looked it over.

Rodney settled into the co-pilot seat, ready to get home to Atlantis. They had been offworld for a couple of days meeting with their newest allies. It has been a successful, if completely uneventful, trip.

“Well, that was different,” John said, checking instruments before they took off. The HUD popped up in response to his mental command.

“What, you don’t like easy missions?” Rodney asked. He stowed his computer safely in its place. The trip home was only a matter of minutes; he wouldn’t have need of the computer this trip.

"Come on, Rodney, admit it," John teased, throwing a grin over at Rodney. "You were bored."

"I'll admit that I might have liked a little more to do on this mission. I felt like a second wheel on a unicycle. That doesn't mean that I miss being chased off the planet with slingshots and pitchforks. It's about time that we caught a break."

“I am sure that we all appreciate an easy mission,” Teyla spoke up from her seat behind John. “It is nice when we are not chased from the village, running for our lives.”

Ronon, as usual, spoke for them all, “It was boring. But that’s okay, we’re getting back in time for lunch.”

“Salisbury steak day!’ Rodney agreed with enthusiasm. “I just hope the cooks don’t use that mushroom thing from B95-414 again.” He shuddered remembering the slightly rubbery texture of the fungus. "There's something unnatural about it. I took some samples down for Carson to analyze. Do you know he had the nerve to tell me that there was nothing wrong with it!"

“Alright, let’s dial home. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can all get lunch.” John gestured for Rodney to do the honors.

The only thing wrong with their newest allies was that they loved a little sardine-like fish that they used in everything they served, including dessert. They'd had a steady diet of nothing but the vuldebest, as the natives called the little fish, for the last two days. They were all looking forward to eating something that didn't have the vuldebest in it.

Rodney leaned forward, pushing the familiar symbols. Sheppard brought the ‘jumper up and around, facing the gate as each of the gate symbols glowed. When Rodney pushed the last symbol, the wormhole splashed out to form their path home.

“Wait,” Rodney caught John’s arm as he prepared to take the controls and guide them home. The urgency in his voice caused John to pause automatically. It wasn’t Rodney’s usual I’ve-got-an-idea-for-a-side-trip wait.

“There’s a message coming in on the priority channel,” Rodney explained. He pulled his computer out and had it up and running in a matter of seconds. All was quiet as his teammates watched him work. A low level of anxiety ran through the cockpit.

“I’m going to put it on the overhead,” he said, his fingers skipping over the keys on his computer once it was ready.

The HUD, with its readouts for the jumper, was replaced with Richard Woolsey’s face.

“Whoever is receiving this, do not return to Atlantis.” Woolsey was speaking quickly, looking over his shoulder. They could hear a thump, thump, thump from the recording, like something was beating on Woolsey’s door, trying to gain entrance. He turned back to the camera, his face earnest, speech rapid, “I repeat do not return to Atlantis. A virulent plague has swept through the city. It has taken hold in a matter of hours. While it is spread through bodily fluids, you have to be bitten or scratched, infection is frighteningly quick and it takes anyone exposed in a matter of minutes.”

The thump at his door became more insistent. Woolsey looked that way quickly and then away, turning his full attention to the recording he was making. “Our doctors say there’s no hope for a cure in time to save us. I am locking down the gate. After all of the away teams have heard this message, the self-destruct will detonate. We cannot take a chance that this plague will spread through Pegasus.” He was reaching forward to turn off the recording when there was the scream of metal giving way.

Woolsey looked over his shoulder. “Oh, dear God. Save us all.”

As the team watched he was swarmed by a lumbering mass of people - people they saw every day, people they worked with and sat beside every day. Woolsey tried to get away, but there were too many of the lumbering shapes. They overwhelmed him and brought him down. That was when Sheppard leaned forward and punched the button to turn it off.

There was silence in the cockpit for several long moments.

"How could this have happened?" John knew it was the end of the world because Teyla's voice held an undercurrent of panic.

There was no answer, no one spoke. The only noise was the sound of the keys as Rodney worked furiously.

"No, no, no," Rodney muttered. "I can't get in. They've… they've shut me out. Why can't I get in?"

"Hey, Rodney," John said, keeping his voice gentle. "You heard what Woolsey said. Maybe they've shut out access to the city."

Rodney didn't even look up at him, "I left myself some backdoors in the system. I should be able to get in, but I can't. We need to go there, John, see if there are any survivors. See if there's anything we can do to help." Rodney looked over at John , his eyes pleading.

"We will, we just need to drop Ronon and Teyla off at New Athos first."

"No, John," Teyla protested immediately. "We are going with you."

John turned to Ronon and Teyla, "You guys saw that transmission. This is bad. Rodney and I need to go and see if there's anything we can do. But if this goes… sideways, then you have people here in Pegasus who depend on you - Torren needs you, Teyla. Your people need you. Don't let them forget about us." It was the only argument John had that he thought might convince her.

Teyla took a deep breath like she'd been slapped, but she finally nodded.

Ronon wasn't convinced. "Teyla has Torren and Kanaan, but nobody's going to need me." He challenged John. He crossed his arms across his chest, looking every inch like a stubborn child.

"No, buddy, not this time," John started.

"Ronon, you're the Pegasus galaxies foremost export on the Wraith. They need you, more than they need us most times," Rodney said unexpectedly.

Ronon's mouth dropped open a little; no one had ever told Ronon that he was more important than Rodney McKay. Finally he, too, nodded.

"Yeah, okay, I'll go and take care of Teyla, just until you guys get back."

Teyla did her part to try and help lighten the mood in the cockpit, "I can take care of myself. I will try, however, to make sure you stay alive, too." It didn't really help, but John loved them both for trying.

He took a deep breath. "Okay, if you guys will contact the away teams and have them come to New Athos. I think that's the best place for everyone to regroup. We'll try to contact you if we can."

Teyla nodded, "Of course, we will be honored to do what we can to help your people here. I am sure that the Daedalus will be here soon, and then they can take anyone home who wishes to go. Of course anyone who wishes to stay will be welcomed as one of my people." John realized that they were talking as if Atlantis were already destroyed. He remembered the transmission, the dead eyes of the people he'd seen.  Maybe it was true, Atlantis was gone.

John nodded. He was a little numb, truth be told. It was all too much to take in. That morning when he woke up, the Wraith were their worst enemies – formidable and horrible, but John had a handle on how to fight them. This new thing, this plague that had struck Atlantis was just too much for him to get his head around.

It was only a matter of minutes to dial the gate to New Athos. Rodney pulled up the current list of away teams and jotted the names and addresses down for Teyla.

They walked with Teyla and Ronon to the rear hatch for one final goodbye. They stood under the trees of New Athos for one final time.

Rodney held the list out to Teyla. Instead of taking the list, she leaned forward and rested her forehead against his.

"Rodney, be careful."

Rodney blushed a little, but he leaned into her. "I'm a better person because of you, Teyla Emmagan, daughter of Tagan."

She took the slip of paper from him and moved to John. They didn't speak, she just leaned in for the Athosian gesture. John moved into her.

"Teyla," he began.

She took a deep breath and stopped whatever he was going to say. “No goodbyes, John. I will only say, we shall see you soon.”

“Sure,” he said. “Its movie night remember? We were going to have a Walking Dead marathon.”

Ronon didn’t wait, he swept all three of them into his arms, hugging like he was never going to let go.

It was Rodney who broke finally. “Let go, you beast, I can’t breathe.”

There was a shaky laugh and then Ronon let them go. He pulled out his blaster and held it out to John.

John backed up a step, hands help up, “I can’t take that, buddy,” he protested.

“I know where to get more,” Ronon said gruffly.

“I knew he was holding out on us,” Rodney sniped.

It was good, it was normal. It was everything John had ever wanted. He took the weapon, stuffing it into his jacket.

“Thanks,” he said. “I’ll get it back to you.”

“At movie night,” Ronon said.

“Yeah.” John nodded.

He and Rodney entered the ‘jumper, not looking back. Trying to maintain the illusion that this was just another trip through the gate that they would be returning from.

They sat and stared through the window of the ‘jumper.

“How are we going to get there?” Rodney asked. “Woolsey said that the gate was locked.”

John knew it must be the end of world when Rodney McKay was turning to him for answers.

“We put a gate on several planets close to Atlantis, remember? Just for situations like this when we can’t gate in? We can gate to the closest planet and then it’s about a 15-minute ‘jumper ride to the city.”

Rodney gave a little gasp. He put his hand to his forehead checking for fever, “Oh, god, I think I have it, too – that, that, that plague. Why couldn’t I remember that?” Rodney's breathing picked up in little huffs, his face turned red.

“Hey, buddy,” John moved to kneel next to Rodney. There wasn’t much room, but John made it work. He put his hand on Rodney’s face.

“Breathe, Rodney. In. Out.”

Rodney did as instructed, watching John, his eyes wide with fear.

“You do not have the plague. You heard Woolsey, it infects fast. Heck, you weren’t slobbering that much the other night when you were begging for a blow job.” John leaned in until their heads were touching, breathing in and out with Rodney. “You okay?”

“Wasn’t begging,” Rodney mumbled.

John huffed out a laugh. “Whatever you have to tell yourself to make you feel better.” It wasn't anywhere near their level of snark, but it helped to make things seem a little more normal. John kissed Rodney gently, then returned to his seat.

His hands moved over the controls. The 'jumper rose into the air, gliding slowly toward the gate. As they approached, Rodney dialed. The gate splashed open.

They emerged into a dusty, barren landscape on the other side. Behind them the gate closed. They made the entire trip in silence.

"Do you really think it's gone?" Rodney asked. He didn't look at John, he kept his eyes on the bleak landscape around them, checking his computer for anomalies they both knew weren't there.

"I don't know, Rodney, you saw the video the same as I did." He shook his head. "We just need to get there, assess the situation and decide what to do then." The words sounded calm and even reasonable coming out of John's mouth. "Unless, you don't want to come, Rodney. I can do this alone."

Rodney's mouth dropped open. "What? No. Of course I don't want to go. But you are not doing this alone. So just forget it."

It might make him a selfish bastard, but John was relieved. He would have let Rodney go if he wanted to, but John was relieved that he wouldn't have to face… Atlantis alone.

"Okay," John cleared his throat. "I just wanted to make sure."

Rodney punched random keys on the keyboard, not really working John could tell, just trying to find something to keep from thinking as they drew nearer to the city.

"I don't even know what you're talking about," Rodney muttered, "Don't want to come. That's just crazy talk."

John's hands tightened on the controls. "I don't want to watch you die, Rodney. This situation…"

"We're going to be alright," Rodney insisted fiercely. "We're Butch and Sundance. As long as we're together we can figure this out."

John smiled, or he tried to. He wasn't sure he succeeded. "Yeah, buddy, as long as we're together."

He set their course for Atlantis. The air in the 'jumper was weighed down by their silence as they thought about the video they'd seen. Woolsey going down under a mass of bodies until all that could be seen was the blood, until all they could hear was screams.

The 15-minute flight seemed to take forever and, paradoxically, it seemed to fly by in no time. John slowed the 'jumper as they approached New Lantea. The planet grew in the view screen, floating blue and serene with no sign of the malignancy within. Until they got too close.

The 'jumper's systems flashed a warning as a drone streaked from the planet. Except, instead of it being the familiar gold, it was a sickly green with red licking through it.

"Are they shooting at us?" Rodney squeaked.

John glanced up at the HUD. He nodded. "'Jumper's systems says it's coming from the planet." He targeted the incoming drone with his own weapons and took aim. He didn't want to take any chances and destroyed the drone before it could even get close to them.

Rodney's fingers danced over the keys of his computer. "Oh, this is bad."

John pulled away from the planet taking them out of range of the city's weapons. He put them into a high orbit over the city.

"What was that?"

Rodney held up a hand, staring intently at what he saw on his computer screen.

"So, not good. I think the city is infected."

John gulped. "Is that possible?"

"This is Pegasus," Rodney said.


"And yes, it is possible. We've always thought there was an Artificial Intelligence in the city, it just couldn't manifest because of a lack of power. If it's gotten infected there's no telling what it would do. John," Rodney turned to him, "we've got to go down there. Get into the city; find out what the situation is, like you said."

John nodded, trying to keep from thinking of anything but the mission at hand. He pulled up the HUD to show them a map of the city with life signs highlighted. The signs tended to be in clusters, not moving much at all.

"Do we need to be afraid that the city's systems can infect the jumper?" John asked before he decided where to take them in.

Rodney shook his head. "No, I've isolated the 'jumper's systems so that it can't communicate with the city. We should be alright."

John turned to glare at Rodney. "Should?"

"Will. I meant we will be alright. There's no chance that the city can infect the 'jumper. Well almost none. It's barely a chance at all, it's so low."

John turned back to the controls. "Way to make me feel reassured, Rodney. We'll go in through the underground 'jumper bay. There aren't any life signs even close to that location. You can connect to the city's systems and see if you can find out anything."

"Good, that's good." Rodney went back to his computer as John took the 'jumper in.

He kept the 'jumpers sensors on high alert, but it seemed that one drone was all the city was going to throw against them.

"Should we try to contact the city? See if anyone is left?" John asked.

"Communications are down." Rodney tapped the computer restlessly with a finger as he considered John's question. "What if that drone was someone's attempt to scare us away? What if there are survivors?"

They were passing over the city, its spires gleaming in the sunlight. There was no sign of the deadly plague locked up inside.

"We'll check for survivors before we do anything… permanent." John assured him." We don't have any idea what happened here besides Woolsey's message. Maybe it's not that bad?" John didn't really believe that, but he said it for Rodney's sake. From the disbelieving stare he got from Rodney, he didn't believe it either.

They found the underwater 'jumper bay easily enough. The systems had been repaired so that once they were docked; the bay began to empty of water. While they waited, John and Rodney filled the pockets of their tac vests with anything they thought might be useful – extra ammo, a life signs detector for both of them, John pocketed extra power bars for Rodney, he tucked some grenades into a pocket, just to be ready for any contingency.

Once the bay was dry, John looked over at Rodney. "You ready?"

"No," Rodney scowled at him, "but let's go anyway."

They exited the 'jumper cautiously even though there were no life signs but theirs on the life signs detector. Rodney moved immediately through the bay to the control room that lay beyond the bay. He pulled out the cords that would mate his computer to the city's systems. He worked quickly while John kept watch.

"Anything?" John asked when he couldn't stand the silence any longer.

"Oh, yes, lots, I've found out everything, I'm just keeping it all from you to be mean." Rodney snapped.

"McKay," John growled. The silence was getting to him. The fact that they had to sneak around in their own city was getting to him. The whole situation was making him a little crazy.

"Oh, what have we here?"

"What?" John asked. He peered over Rodney's shoulder trying to see if he could find any answers for himself.

Rodney shooed him away. "I've hacked into the medical records. And Woolsey was right, this thing spread fast. The first case was reported at 0930 Atlantis time, yesterday. By 1300 half the city was infected according to Carson's notes. His last note was at 13:13."

John's stomach had been in knots ever since they saw Woolsey's video, now it clenched hard.

"This has only been going on since yesterday?" John asked.

Rodney nodded. "Carson said that it was some sort of viral infection that was spread through bodily fluids."

"That's what Woolsey said, too."

"The first victims that came in were violent, biting and scratching whoever they came in contact with. They brought in guards to try and control the patients, and as the guards were infected, they brought in more guards. Pretty soon there weren't enough people to control everyone and patients started to escape."

"I don't understand, why didn't Atlantis' quarantine protocols shut the city down?" John couldn't help but feel like he'd failed his city in some way. If he'd only been here, he could have done something. He didn't know what, but something. He had a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, that if he had been here, he would have been one of that mass of bodies attacking Woolsey. It still didn't help with the feeling of failure that swept over him.

Rodney shook his head. "Carson doesn't know why it didn't work. He thought it was something the city had never seen before. But I think the city was already infected at that point."

"Okay," John took a deep breath. "Does he give any indication if there is a cure?"

"If there was, he wasn't anywhere near finding it. Unfortunately anyone we have qualified to work on this was here on Atlantis."

"Okay." John's mind whirled. All they were had were terrible choices. "First we need to do a quick reconnaissance, see if there are any survivors that we can evacuate. Then we need to contact Earth if we can and let them know what's happened. And we need to destroy the city."

"Can't we just resubmerge it?"

John shook his head as decisively as he could. "We can't take a chance that someone could get off the city. If this thing spreads as fast as you say, it would sweep through Pegasus in no time. It could decimate this galaxy."

"Maybe it was something the Ancients were working on to defeat the Wraith and got left in a lab. They were working on city exploration this week."

"Does it matter how it happened, Rodney? We just need to get in and out as quick as we can."

Rodney shook himself. "You're right. Okay, where to first?"

John held up the life signs detector. "Let’s start with the control room. There are a lot of life signs in that area and we can contact Earth from there. "

“The control room? Woolsey was in his office right there when he recorded that message. What if all those victims are still there?” He took a step back when John started toward the door.

“That was hours ago,” John said. “Maybe they’ve moved on by now. Even if they haven’t, I need to check it out. You don’t have to come if you don’t want to.” Rodney didn’t sign up for any of this. This was John’s job. As much as he wanted Rodney with him, he understood if Rodney didn’t want to come.

Rodney huffed out a breath. “No, no, I’ll come. What is it with this galaxy anyway? If the Wraith aren’t trying to suck out our life force through their hands, there are zombie hordes trying to eat our brains.”

John did his best to smile, “Don’t have an answer for that one, buddy. Stay with me. We don’t want to get separated.”

“Right behind you,” Rodney assured him.

John swallowed. He didn't like what he had to say next, "If we run across any of the victims, don't engage them. Remember Carson said that this thing is spread by bodily fluids, so don’t let them touch you or come near you."

Rodney nodded. "Yeah, you, too."

John took off down the hall toward the stairs. He didn't want to be caught in a transporter with a crazed Atlantis at the controls. Rodney followed closely behind him.

The halls were eerily, preternaturally quiet. Since they had returned from Earth, they had acquired more and more personal. The population was five times what it had been when they first walked through the wormhole from Earth. Shifts were staggered so that there were people working around the clock, so there were always people in the halls, especially in the mess hall, the labs and the control rooms. They were approaching the control room before they began to encounter anything or anyone.

The individual victims they came across (John couldn’t bring himself to call them zombies in his head) were easily avoided. They stumbled along, dead eyed and bloody. They all had a wound somewhere on their body – usually something freaky and grotesque like chunks of flesh missing or half their throat torn out; things that would have killed a normal human being. But these weren’t normal. John wasn’t sure they could be called human beings anymore.

They tried to talk to one or two but they received no answer. Instead the victims became more animated and began to move toward John and Rodney. Their eyes were greedy and their hands were grasping, their mouths worked, clearly imitating a chewing motion. It was clear what they had in mind. They had to run but they had no difficulty escaping from the sad wandering victims of the Atlantis plague.

It wasn’t until they neared the control room that they began to understand the true nature of what had happened.

"Get away from me.” They heard a shout from the control room, it was followed by shots that pierced the tomb-like quiet.

John and Rodney took off for the control room at a dead run. They arrived in time to find Chuck, the gate tech, fighting off a mass of bodies.

John waded in, pulling the creatures away. He had Ronon's blaster out, but he hadn’t been able to bring himself to actually shoot anyone yet. These were his friends and family. He couldn’t give up on them yet.

“Shoot them in the head,” Chuck shouted when he saw John. Chuck had a gun that he was using with deadly precision on the crowd around him. The bodies only fell when they were shot in the head John noted.

John waded into the crowd, pulling bodies away from Chuck.

"Don't let them bite you," Chuck screamed when the first person turned on John, reaching for him. One of them had John enveloped from behind, he could feel drool on his neck. Then Rodney was there, pulling the creature away. Together they fought their way through the mob and pulled Chuck free.

They ran through the door on the other side of the control room before the mob could regroup.

They paused when it looked like they weren't being pursued to assess the situation. Chuck seemed to be okay with just a bloody gash in his arm.

“Colonel, I’d like to say I was glad to see you, but you guys need to get out of here,” Chuck grimaced as he surveyed his arm.

“As soon as we see to your arm,” John said.

“Are you alright?” Rodney asked. He had the first aid supplies pulled from his vest.

Chuck stared at them. “You guys don’t know what’s going on, do you?”

“We know enough,” Rodney replied, his mouth tight with emotion. He squeezed ointment from a tube into his hand ready to slather it onto Chuck’s cut.

Chuck slapped at Rodney’s hand. “Don’t touch me. This thing is transmitted via body fluids – you know, blood.”

They stared at Chuck’s arm, the blood was dripping down his arm, pooling on the floor at their feet.

“You mean?” Rodney gulped.

“Yes,” Chuck answered grimly. “I’m infected. And because of all the shots, you can bet that everything left capable of movement on Atlantis is headed this way.”

“How long?” John asked.

Chuck shrugged with one shoulder, he looked away. “I don’t know, it takes longer in some people. Most people started showing symptoms within a couple of minutes.”

“So?” Rodney couldn’t finish the sentence.

“You guys need to go now,” Chuck finished for him. “The control room is shot. It was pretty well shot up in the initial stages of the infection when we were trying to defend ourselves up here.”

“If we want to contact Earth?”

“We need to get to the chair room,” Rodney said. He held up the life signs detector. They could all see the dots beginning to converge on the control room. “And we need to go quick. We’re about to be overrun.”

"We aren't leaving you here," John said.

"You can't take me," Chuck replied. "Very shortly I'm going to be one of them." He nodded in the direction of the creatures they'd just left in the control room. "Do you have any grenades on you?"

John wanted to insist that Chuck come with them, that a little wound on his arm wasn't enough to bring him down. He'd always depended on Chuck's ability to remain calm under pressure, Chuck had been with them since the beginning, Chuck was family. In the end John pulled out two of the grenades that he'd stuffed in his tac vest when he left the 'jumper and handed them to Chuck.

"Give 'em hell."

"Go," Chuck urged.

John wasn't sure, but he thought that Chuck's eyes might be glazing over. He grabbed Rodney's tac vest.

"It's been a pleasure, Sergeant." He saluted smartly.

"Same," Chuck replied. He turned away before anything else could be said. He took off for the control room at a lope.

"Chuck," Rodney took a step after the other man. John caught his arm, pulling Rodney around.

"He knows what he's doing. We need to go." John pulled Rodney in the other direction.

"No, we can't leave him," Rodney insisted.

"Rodney, there's nothing we can do for him," John said, his voice urgent. "Don't let his sacrifice be for nothing."

Rodney looked back where Chuck had disappeared for just a moment more. "Yeah, okay," he said. He took off down the hall, the life signs detector held in front of him.

There was an explosion behind them that rattled the walls and floor causing John and Rodney to stumble.

They didn't talk about it. John didn't know what to say to make it better for Rodney. Rodney's mouth was pressed tight and he wouldn't meet John's eyes.

They came to a stretch of hallway where a fight must have happened, there were bodies on the floor and propped against the wall. They walked carefully, stepping over a severed limb, or an outstretched arm.

John couldn't bear to look at faces. These were all people he knew – that one laid out on the floor was a nurse who always flirted with him when he was in the infirmary, that one lying twisted against the wall worked in the mess hall about once a week and saved Rodney's favorite muffins at breakfast, a body propped up against the wall used to be a gate-room tech. He'd seen Radek go to dinner with her once or twice.

They were almost clear of the hall when one of the arms reached up and closed around Rodney's ankle.

Rodney screamed. "Oh, my god, they're not dead." Rodney kicked himself free as the bodies began to rise and stir. John shoved Rodney ahead of him. They got through a doorway with the bodies shuffling after them.

"Rodney," John hissed as Rodney dismantled the doors controls, his fingers flying as he rewired the door to get it to close.

"I'm working as fast as I can. Maybe you would like to do this," Rodney snapped back.

"Just hurry." John had his weapon up and ready. So far he'd been able to avoid actually shooting any of these shuffling bodies that used to be his friends. He wasn't sure that they were gone beyond redemption. He didn't want to have to shoot anyone, but he would if he had to.

The door slid shut at just the last moment, as the first of the creatures following them reached for John. One of the fingers were caught by the shutting door, cutting it off. It lay at John's feet.

"Shit, that was close," John breathed out. He bounced back quickly turning to Rodney.

"Are you okay?" He asked anxiously. He couldn’t help himself; he pulled at Rodney's clothes, checking for bites or scratches.

"I'm alright, I'm alright," Rodney pushed John away, taking the opportunity to do a little wound check for himself.

"I'm okay," John assured him.

There was a thump on the door as the creatures on the other side tried to get through.

"It's time for us to go," John said.

Rodney nodded, "Yeah, okay. If we can make it to the chair room, I can contact Earth from there and set the self destruct."

John didn't ask him how they were going to escape. He could see the answer to that one in Rodney's eyes.

They found more pockets of… things. John didn't even know what to call them. They weren't people anymore. They walked in slavering, jolting movements. Their eyes were glazed over and they were covered in blood. John couldn't bear to look at them. He was haunted by the memory of Woolsey's final message. He just kept remembering the final shot of something that used to be Jennifer Keller stuffing a fistful of flesh into her mouth.

After their narrow escape, they were more careful making their way through the city. But it was like the victims could sense their presence and the shuffling groups were getting harder to avoid.

After a tortuous chase through the halls of the city, they made it to the chair room, sealing the door behind them.

Rodney didn't wait to make sure John had the door secured. He moved directly to the computer controls.

John went to the chair. He thought that was where he would be the most help.

It was a mistake. The Atlantis that always greeted him was no longer there. If they hadn't been so busy running for their lives since they arrived in the city, he would have felt it sooner. But the joyful Atlantis that he knew was gone. It was replaced by an insatiable hunger, a need for flesh that was nearly overwhelming.

John fought it with all of his strength, but it wasn't a fight he could win. The hunger stole over him, replacing John Sheppard with need. A need for flesh, he was filled with a hunger that pushed away all other thoughts and needs.

And food was nearby. He could sense the bright presence of one that was food and sustenance. He pushed himself to his feet. It was difficult to control himself when all he knew was hunger. He lurched toward the bright one, nearly growling in his haste.


The bright one spoke to him. "It's alright, John, I can contact Earth from here." The sounds made no sense to him. He just needed.


"Yes, yes, yes. I have brains. Just give me a minute to finish this, than you can have all the brains you want."

It was so hard to move. His body didn't respond to his commands. The bright one just kept working, unaware of the looming presence behind him.

"Earth, this is the Atlantis expedition, Dr. Rodney McKay speaking. Please be aware that we have contracted a plague that threatens this whole galaxy. In order to protect Earth and the Pegasus Galaxy, Sheppard and I intend to set the self destruct here on Atlantis and then attempt to escape to the New Athos colony. Any away teams have been directed there. Please direct the Daedalus to rendezvous there with any survivors. Atlantis base out."

There were more sounds that he just didn't understand, he just knew that he wasn't getting what he needed. The flesh that would sustain him. He lurched toward the one making the sounds, determined to feed.

"It's alright now, John. I'm almost done setting the self destruct and we can leave."

He finally found the source of the sounds, the flesh. He grabbed and pulled the bright one to him, taking a bite that filled his mouth with sweet flesh as a bright light swallowed the world.


"Rodney, no!" John flailed in the bed, throwing himself away from the body next to him. He came fully awake to find himself on the floor, Rodney blinking at him over the edge of the bed.

"What are you doing down there?" Rodney was sleep tousled, his eyes at only half-mast, his hair was sticking up in wild tufts all over his head.

John stared up at him, his breath coming in wild pants still, the taste of flesh in his mouth. He shuddered.

"Bad dream," he said shortly. He pushed himself to his feet. He looked around at Rodney's familiar room, the moonlight limning everything in soft light. The panic of the dream hung on, making John twitch at every shadow and sound. Rodney's hand on his shoulder made him jump back in alarm.

"Hey, it's just me," Rodney said. He held out his hand.

John ran a hand through his hair. "I'm sorry. Maybe I should go back to my room for the rest of the night."

"That must have been some dream," Rodney said. He moved slowly, taking John's hand and pulling him gently back toward the bed. John went willingly enough. He knew it was stupid to be so panicked about a dream. At least this one wasn't true, couldn't be true, not like the ones where the Genii and the Wraith formed an alliance to rule Pegasus.

He settled in next to Rodney, let Rodney wrap his arms around him.

"So?" Rodney demanded.

"Hm…?" John was already half asleep again, held safe in Rodney's arms. The dream images were fading away, impossible to hold onto in the safety of Atlantis.

"The dream?" Rodney prompted.

John knew it was no use to pretend to sleep. Now that he was awake, no one else would sleep until Rodney got his answers.

"It was just a stupid dream," he mumbled.

"Not so stupid if it has you on the floor in a cold sweat. Now give."

John growled, but Rodney was unaffected. "Give."


"What?" Rodney mulled it over for a moment before he pushed back. "You were a zombie? And you ate my brain?"

"In my own defense, you could have totally gotten away if you wanted to," John said defensively.

"I told you not to watch that Walking Dead marathon before bed." Rodney snorted. "Who else died?"

"I think Jennifer Keller ate Mr. Woolsey's brain."

"Well, she's going to starve to death. At least you had the good sense to go for my brain."

"Wouldn’t eat anyone else's brains, Rodney," John assured him.

"Well good, I feel so much better now." Rodney pushed John down, making room for himself. The room was dark and quiet.

John let himself sink into slumber. As he felt himself slide into sleep, he whispered into Rodney's ear, "Brains."


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 10th, 2012 09:20 pm (UTC)
very realistically creepy! I admit that I'm glad it all turned out to be John's crazy dream though. whew!
Nov. 10th, 2012 09:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you! There are authors who can write the end of Atlantis and those are amazing stories, but I just don't feel like I can do it. I had to make it all come right in the end.
Nov. 10th, 2012 11:08 pm (UTC)
Nov. 26th, 2012 02:03 am (UTC)
Sorry it took so long to respond, thank you so much!
Nov. 11th, 2012 02:48 am (UTC)
Wooo... creepy! Glad it was just a dream!

Well done!
Nov. 26th, 2012 02:04 am (UTC)
Eeep! I thought I responded, sorry this took so long! Thank you!
Nov. 11th, 2012 01:22 pm (UTC)
That was great. I watch The Walking Dead through Netflix. I'm only partway done with the second season, but I enjoy it.
Poor John. Glad he woke up.
Nov. 26th, 2012 02:05 am (UTC)
Thank you! I love The Walking Dead.

I had to make it a dream, I couldn't destroy Atlantis.
Nov. 12th, 2012 08:39 pm (UTC)

Completely awesome! I loved the shoutout to one my fave shows. : My favorite part would have to be the awesome moment shared by the Team in the Jumper. :)
Nov. 26th, 2012 02:06 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I love The Walking Dead, too. When the prompt brains came up I just had to write zombie fic.
Nov. 25th, 2012 07:34 am (UTC)
Ooh, very creepy and then I laughed at the end, with "Wouldn’t eat anyone else's brains, Rodney," John assured him. Great story!
Nov. 26th, 2012 02:06 am (UTC)
Thank you, I'm glad you liked it. I'm sure that John would be very discerning about whose brains he would eat ;-)
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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