kageygirl

Atlantis slash

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Atlantis kageygirl

Redux

Title: Redux

Author: kageygirl

E-mail: kageygirl@gmail.com

URL: http://www.kageygirl.com

Feedback: LiveJournal

Archive: Ask first.

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis

Rating: G

Season/spoilers: Season 1, 1.14, "Sanctuary" and 1.15 "Before I Sleep"

"So," John said conversationally. He kept his voice low, not wanting to disturb Elizabeth where she stood with…the other Elizabeth, across the room, watching her sleep. John was sitting next to Rodney on one of the lab tables. "You died."

"Mmmm. So I hear." Rodney didn't look up from the paper he was studying, the one with the five gate addresses on it. "You did, too."

"Well, yeah." John—the other John—had been behind the controls of a puddle jumper when he'd died, though. John—probably both of them—had long since accepted the idea of dying in a cockpit, in the line of duty. The "in another galaxy" part was a new factor in the equation, but it basically came down to the same thing. Rodney, on the other hand…"You drowned. In the control room."

Rodney gave an exasperated sigh and looked up at John. He looked tired—understandable, since it was oh-dark-hundred—but it made the lines of irritation on his face more prominent. "Your point is?"

John raised his eyebrows at Rodney. "You seemed a little freaked about it earlier."

Rodney dismissed him with a wave and went back to studying the paper. "Yes, it was a little shocking to hear about my death in an alternate timeline. Forgive me for not having had a chance to process it at that point." John watched him start to worry a corner of the note between his thumb and forefinger. "Really, though, the concept isn't new. Back on Earth, at Area 51, there's a device called the quantum mirror. SG-1 brought it back from another world. It lets you access alternate realities, though they all seem to be in the same temporal frame of reference."

Rodney looked back up at John as he warmed to his topic, scientific enthusiasm lighting his eyes and washing away some of the fatigue. "If you think about it, given that there are theoretically an infinite number of parallel universes, then there are an infinite number of universes where one or the other of us is dead. Or never came to Atlantis, or was never born in the first place."

John found the idea of an infinite number of dead Rodneys pretty disturbing. He shifted on the table, not wanting to think about that any more than he'd wanted to think about Rodney drowning in the control room, watching the water rising and trying right up until the end to open the bay doors so that others could escape. But this time, he held his tongue, didn't say anything cutting and quelling to stop Rodney from talking.

Rodney plowed right on, missing or ignoring John's discomfiture. "So, upon further reflection, the events of any one alternate reality are really inconsequential to our current reality, except in the extremely unlikely circumstance that two parallel realities interact with one another. As it's happened here."

John had to clear his throat. "She put right what once went wrong."

Rodney blinked at him, then rolled his eyes. "If you want to call it that. From a quantum standpoint, you created a new branch of reality when you activated that device and went back in time. Elizabeth didn't so much save her reality as she created a different one where our arrival on Atlantis was much less disastrous." He gave John a withering look. "Which is why Quantum Leap was absurd as well. Sam Beckett would have been creating a myriad of alternate universes, not realigning a single timeline."

John shook his head and smiled, but didn't take the opening to bait Rodney further. "Still, I'm glad she did it."

Rodney gave him one of those "you just stated the blindingly obvious" looks. "Of course you are. If she hadn't, we wouldn't be here having this conversation in the first place. That's like saying 'it's a good thing the Big Bang went off like it did.'"

Yeah, it was, but John didn't dwell on that. There was something more important that he needed to say. "What I meant was, I'm glad you're here. And I'm here. And here's…here."

Rodney looked a little less forbidding, though John wasn't entirely convinced that he wasn't just playing "humor the idiot." "Yes, of course I'm grateful for that, too, given that we are, in fact—here."

John scratched his head, then dropped his hands to his lap. He picked at his wristband as he spoke. "So…do you suppose there's a universe where I didn't completely fuck things up by getting involved with an Ancient under house arrest?"

He heard Rodney snort next to him. "Given infinite universes, yes, I suppose it's possible that there's at least one Sheppard out there who has a modicum of good sense."

John kept his head bowed. He felt a blush creeping up his neck. "Do you suppose there's a universe where you'd forgive me for that?"

He heard a rustling of paper, and looked over to see Rodney folding the note into precise quarters. "Theoretically." Rodney slipped the note into his pocket, and John raised his head, meeting his eyes. Rodney looked wary. "Though it might take a little more time."

John nodded. "Yeah." He pushed himself off the table, pointed a thumb over at the chair near the bed. "I'll be over there. You should try to get some sleep—I'll wake you up when…when she does."

Rodney looked over at the two Elizabeths, and John saw his expression soften. Rodney genuinely liked and respected Elizabeth, and it took a lot to earn that from him. Just like it took a lot to earn his trust. What it took to earn that trust back, John didn't know; he just knew that he'd do whatever it took. He'd put right what once went wrong.

Rodney looked back at him just as John was about to turn away, and his eyes were still shadowed. John blurted out, "I'm sorry."

He'd surprised Rodney. John didn't know why he hadn't said it before; maybe he'd been clinging to some misguided sense of having been wronged, himself, as if Rodney weren't entitled to be angry. But he was, because John had fucked up, and somehow knowing that every member of the expedition team had already had to die to even give them a shot in this reality made him want to do better.

The other Rodney had died for all the people in the Jumper bay—for John, though they'd hardly known one another then. Whatever Rodney thought about that having no bearing on their reality, John felt like he owed it to him, to them, not to waste what he'd been given.

So he stepped in front of Rodney, and made himself say it again. "I'm really sorry, Rodney."

Rodney gave him a long, measuring stare. Then he turned to point at one of the shelving units along the wall. "Can you hand me a towel?"

"Sure." John grabbed a towel and passed it to Rodney, who folded it up and set it at the head of the table.

"Thank you." Rodney nodded to him, and some sharp edge was gone from his expression. John smiled down at him as Rodney settled himself on the table, using the towel as a makeshift pillow. John dropped onto the chair, a little more optimistic than he had been.

He leaned his head back and propped his feet up, feeling the long day catching up with him. Infinite universes, with infinite possibilities for getting it wrong—or getting it right. And if he had any say in it, this would be the one where he got it right.