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Title: The Stars Look Very Different Today
Author name: Icarus
Author email: icarus_ancalion@yahoo.com
Category: Drama
Sub Category: Dark
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: John, Rodney
Warning: Character death.
Summary: This time, John followed orders and did the search and rescue later. "Oh, really? How's that working out for you?"
DISCLAIMER: The characters and universe contained in this story are Copyright MGM, Showtime, Gekko, Double Secret. No infringement on their copyright is implied. Copyright 2006 All rights reserved. This story may not be reproduced in whole or part without the author's explicit permission. Ask, guys. I'm easy to reach and usually generous.
Author notes: Un-beta'd. A nod to David Bowie's "Space Oddity."


The Stars Look Very Different Today
By Icarus

The bay doors clanged against the hull, a controlled crash. Hydraulic claws reached out and clamped onto the spinning metal tube. They'd established synchronous orbit, the momentum carrying them forward, around in a long circle looking out into yawning blackness and then down at the reddish planet below.

John felt empty and helpless without Ancient controls.

Through the bubble of his spacesuit, he glanced over at Zelenka, who shook his head slowly, reflected blue lights from the read-outs blurring his face. No atmosphere inside the elongated tube that had once been an Ancient space station. Rodney had been so excited about it; finally, Ancient technology that was advanced, yet not out of reach. They'd had the Daedalus last time they were here. Now they had to cut their way in.

He'd hate that.

John took a shuddering breath and grabbed a torch, joining the work crew. He needed to do something because command was a bitch.

Yellow and blue-white sparks flew in a satisfying spray, and he only had to be told once by a tech to not let them land on his suit. He didn't know why he didn't care either way, but he did what he was told with a sharp nod, mouth in a firm line. The tech was a tall guy with watery blue eyes who edged back with a worried up and down glance as he watched his commander a fraction longer than necessary, before returning to his own work.

The worst part was the Ancient shielding. It had blocked all communications. "Yes, well, you'll all have to wait with bated breath," Rodney had said smugly. "I intend to take this place apart, piece by instructive little piece."

Rodney couldn't have known why they left; the Wraith attack and his recall back to command the city, for the Daedalus to protect Atlantis; their failed attempt to tow the space station when they couldn't lock onto any life signs.

"Maybe taking it apart's not such a good idea with you in it," John had joked.

"It's a figure of speech," Rodney had griped back, though his sideways smirk had spoiled the effect. "You just stay here and envy me."

He had envied Rodney a little, though itched with curiosity was probably a better description. But there was only room for three men and, "Much as you once dreamed of being a little scientist with your sixth grade chemistry set, Colonel, I need actual competence, not smart-mouth remarks."

The metal plate shifted under their hands as they broke through. The metal glow vanished instantly but Sheppard didn't touch it. They'd been warned that it would stay hot even if there was no oxygen to keep the edges glowing orange-red. Using huge tongs, two technicians tugged at the slab, wires trailing and snapping with delicate flashes like tiny fireflies dying.

No life signs didn't mean anything. If anyone could figure a way off the space station, Rodney could. John half expected to find the capsule empty.

Their makeshift doorway peeled back, he led the way, weapon ready just in case. The headlamp in his spacesuit splashed white light on metal walls.

Two men in blue uniforms were sprawled on the floor and John's mind chose that moment to come up with a smart aleck remark, wondering whether or not they were given names -- a Trek reference Rodney would get. John blinked it away.

Rodney was slumped over the console, seated in the only chair, his head pillowed on his arms as if asleep. John stepped closer, leaned, but then couldn't bring himself to touch him, didn't want that confirmation, wanted to pretend a moment that Rodney would be blinking sleepy eyes as he stretched awake, asking, "What took you so long?"

"I'm sorry, Rodney," John would explain, "We had this little problem with the Wraith."

"I thought you didn't leave people behind."

"I don't. I came back. But I followed orders this time."

"Oh, really? How's that working out for you?" He would cross his arms accusingly. But Rodney just stayed where he was, unmoving, still sprawled across the Ancient controls, his PDA in his hands. He'd probably worked until the last second. The men behind John waited, their flashlights searching across the scene.

John answered Rodney out loud. "Pretty much the same."


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