Betae: Thanks to dkwilliams and candymike for "leaping" in with their super QL beta skillz. Much appreciated! And, as always, thanks to Leah, who knows how much she's adored. She was responsible for the reasoning behind my take on a pivotal plot point and outright handed me a couple of lines at the end... Any errors are completely my fault.
Rating: Adult (sorry, I got carried away)
Spoilers: SG-1 season 10, "The Pegasus Project" (10x03); Season 5, "48 Hours" (05x14); SGA Season 1, "Letters from Pegasus" (01x17); Season 2, "Trinity" (02x06), and "The Long Goodbye" (02x16); Season 3, "Irresistible" (03x04), "Progeny" (03x05); "McKay and Mrs. Miller" (03x08); and "Phantoms" (03x09)-- however, I messed with the timeline a little, and put episode 309 just after episode 304, and before episode 305. Some minor bits of dialog were lifted directly from "The Pegasus Project."
Written For: mardahin, who wanted "Location - Pegasus Galaxy, not Atlantis. Sam Leaps into Sheppard, pairing McKay/Sheppard. Special Request: Sam recognizes McKay from meeting him in person." I got everything you wanted, plus I wandered into a few other locations, including Atlantis and New Mexico. Hope that was okay.
Author's Note: A big ol' handwave on the physics, okay? I know it bears no resemblance to reality, but then again, neither did/does the physics on either show.
Summary: "I'm damned tired of aliens taking over my body," Sheppard told Sam. "How the hell has nobody noticed that you're not me?"
Flash of blue light...
Sam felt the Leap take him, and after the usual moment of disorientation, he blinked his eyes and looked around him. He was in some kind of forest, surrounded by trees and undergrowth on all sides. An explosion to his right made him duck down reflexively.
This was not good. A woman in some kind of uniform, carrying a large firearm, came sprinting through the undergrowth towards him from the direction of the explosion. He raised the rifle he suddenly realized he was carrying, unsure if she was supposed to be a friend or enemy.
“Colonel Sheppard, they are coming this way! Hurry!” she urged him. Okay, friend then. He followed her as she ran through the trees. And the person he’d Leaped into appeared to be called “Sheppard,” and was a Colonel in some branch of the military. Sam wasn’t familiar with the uniforms he or the woman were wearing, though.
“John, did you obtain the mineral sample for Dr. McKay?” the woman panted, as she glanced over her shoulder to watch for pursuers. Sam looked over his shoulder as well, and didn’t see anything. He did hear additional explosions, though, so he kept running. Okay. Full name is Colonel John Sheppard, he thought. Good to know. I wonder what her name is?
“I guess,” he replied. “Where are we going?” That was the wrong thing to ask, apparently--she was giving him a worried look as they began to climb a ridge.
“John, are you well? Perhaps you have sustained a head injury.” She frowned. “Are you bleeding?” He shook his head, saving his breath for climbing. The woman held out a hand and helped haul him over a fallen log at the top of ridge. They crouched down behind the log to catch their breath, and the woman ran her hands over his head and peered into his eyes. “Are you dizzy? Did you ingest anything? Did you come into contact with any strange devices? Any peculiar animals, or...insects?” She tilted her head at him in inquiry.
“Um, no? Honestly, I feel okay. Aren’t those guys coming for us?” Sam desperately hoped for Al to appear any minute now and help him make sense of things before this nice lady took it into her head to shoot him or something.
The woman frowned again and patted his arm. “Very well. This way. Follow me.” She touched her ear with one hand and appeared to speak to the air. “Ronon? Rodney? This is Teyla. Come in.”
Sam startled at the low-pitched voice growling right next to him. He brought his hand up to feel the device wrapped around his ear. Oh, must be a radio. Right.
“You and Sheppard okay? Heard the explosions.”
“We are fine, Ronon. Is Dr. McKay there? Has he repaired the DHD?” The woman--Teyla--looked intently into the middle distance as she moved efficiently amongst the trees just on the other side of the ridge from their pursuers. She seemed to be following the ridge, to the....Sam glanced up at the sun, which seemed more reddish than he ever remembered the sun looking. Well, she seemed to be headed west, at any rate.
“Here, I’m here, Teyla. Where’s Sheppard? He didn’t get himself captured, did he? I told him--” The demanding voice, with its sharp, rapid-fire delivery, was vaguely familiar, as was the name Teyla had called him. McKay... Where had he heard “McKay” before? Had he known the man personally, as Samuel Beckett? Drat the swiss-cheese memory thing!
“I’m fine, McKay,” Sam put a little impatience in his voice, instinctively knowing that McKay would respond to it. “Are you guys safe?” It seemed a good question to ask, what with people shooting exploding things at them. Teyla’s glance seemed to confirm that the statement had been something Sheppard would say.
“We’re good.” The voice was Ronon’s again.
“Well, yes, that’s a bit of an oversimplification. If you mean ‘are we in good health', then, yes, relatively, though my blood sugar is getting a bit lower than is good for my optimal performance. If you mean ‘is anyone currently shooting at us', then, also, for the present, we are mercifully without significant casualties, although my laptop case got some scratches when we slid down that last embankment, and I got a thorn in my thumb that Conan here just tore out without any regard for antiseptic--”
“Rodney,” Teyla interrupted. “The DHD?” She aimed an annoyed glance at Sam, as if he was supposed to be doing something about this. Oh. Oh! Probably Colonel Sheppard would be the guy asking about things like this “DHD". Sam wished he knew what a “DHD” was so he could ask about it--
“Yes, yes, I’m working on it!” McKay snapped. “What did you think I was doing? Admiring the mud? Having a sparkling conversation with Ronon?”
Teyla shook her head, a reluctant smile twisting one corner of her mouth. “I was wondering how much more time you needed to repair the DHD. How much longer should we divert the Gidym’s attention away from the stargate, Dr. McKay?”
“Ah. Well, I should be done in about ten minutes. You can probably start making your way back now. Did you get a sample of that mineral we were interested in?”
Teyla stopped, scanned the surrounding forest, and began to climb back to the top of the ridge before she turned, as if surprised, and raised her eyebrow at him. Sam halted in his steps to follow her. Drat. That’s right. Apparently it had been Sheppard’s job to secure a mineral sample. Sam had no idea what the mineral even looked like. He shrugged apologetically at Teyla, crouched down, and began to paw through the pockets of his tac vest to see if he had a sample case in there. Teyla frowned at him.
“Well, did you get the sample or not?” McKay’s voice demanded impatiently.
“Just a moment, Rodney, Colonel Sheppard is looking for it. We may have lost it in our efforts to draw the Gidym away from you.” Teyla covered for him, but was also looking at Sam impatiently.
He finally drew a plastic specimen jar out of one of his pockets and shook the jar in front of his face. A reassuring rattle came from it, and he peered inside to see a blue-green chunk of metallic stone, about the size of a plum. “Got it!” he told McKay and Teyla, both. He shoved the sample back in his pocket at Teyla’s nod.
“We will see you in ten minutes, then,” Teyla advised. “Ronon, be ready, the Gidym seem to have some sort of explosive weapons similar to the rocket launchers our Marines enjoy using. Rodney, try to finish your work on the DHD as soon as possible. We will most likely be ‘coming in hot', as you say.”
“We’ll be ready,” Ronon promised.
Teyla took a moment to study Sam’s face. Sam swallowed his nervousness. In his prior experience, people couldn’t really see his own face, instead only the face of the person whose life he’d Leaped into.
“Colonel,” Teyla said softly, her voice serious. “You may insist that you are ‘fine', but I can tell that you are not yourself. What has happened?”
“Um,” Sam swallowed sudden hysterical laughter. “Not himself” indeed! He dithered internally, not knowing what affect whatever he said might have on the problem he had Leaped in to resolve. Where the heck was Al? Gushie should have triangulated on him and gotten Al in here by now. “I really feel okay, Teyla. Just spaced out a little, I guess.” He shrugged hopelessly. “Shouldn’t we get going?”
“Very well. This way.” But the look Teyla gave him told Sam that he hadn’t heard the end of this. Hopefully, Al would be able to brief him before Teyla got the chance to ask more questions.
After that, it was a lot of running and ducking and shooting with the funny-looking rifle in his arms, and more running, and sliding in the mud and tripping over tree roots. He never did end up getting a good look at their pursuers. He wondered what country they were from. Heck, he wondered what country they were in. It looked a lot like the North American Pacific Northwest. He didn’t remember any war in Canada.
He and Teyla finally ended up literally sliding through the mud into a clearing where a large circular monument stood on its end on a low, broad pedestal, and two men--one in a uniform similar to theirs and the other looking like an extra in a “Mad Max” movie--were standing next to a sculpture that looked vaguely like a giant, waist-high, mushroom. What a weird place to put artwork, in the middle of a forest like that.
“Done!” the guy in the uniform announced in a triumphant voice, as if he had won some sort of contest. He rapidly began to press down on carved portions of the mushroom sculpture. “You know I can’t dial Atlantis from here, don’t you Colonel? Our IDCs aren’t working because of the energy field from that mineral. You did get the mineral sample, right? Right?” The man paused in his abuse of the sculpture to glare significantly at Sam.
Ah, this must be McKay.
Sam nodded. “Calm down, McKay, I told you we got it.” Golly, that face was familiar. Something about the eyes.
“Then you are dialing the Alpha Site?” Teyla asked McKay.
“No,” McKay glanced up at Sam before directing his reply at Teyla. “Before you left, the Colonel had said something about dialing an alternate gate. I dialed MX4-345. Figured we'd be welcome on Aylesta,” answered McKay, pushing down on the central red crystal at the center of the mushroom sculpture.
A giant waterfall seemed to suddenly erupt out of the circular sculpture. Sam’s reflexive shout of “OH BOY!” was thankfully drowned out by the sound of gunfire and explosions as their pursuers finally began to catch up to them. He turned towards the commotion and began to return fire.
“Hurry! Let us leave this place!” Teyla said, tugging McKay’s jacket. They both ran towards the sculpture, which now had what looked like a vertical pool of water spanning its center, plunged right into the water, and disappeared.
Sam knew his mouth was hanging right open, the rifle dangling forgotten in his hands. What the--?
A tree three feet away on his left took an explosive round, spewing bark in all directions and catching fire. Sam ducked from the flying debris and felt something burning clinging to the sleeve of his jacket. He coughed as the smoke engulfed him and the smell of burning tar tried to smother him.
“Sheppard! Come on!” the big guy, Ronon, bellowed, slapping out the fire and grabbing him by the arm. Before he knew it, Ronon was dragging him towards the vertical wall of water, and Sam had just one moment to take a final gulp of air before his face hit the surface.
It was a wormhole! These people were using some kind of wormhole technology to travel between different planets! The flash of intuition hit him in the endless moment of transition, in that place between. Oh boy, Al! I really wish I could talk to you right now...
He had no sooner thought it than it happened. He saw the Waiting Room, and Al, and another man that must be Colonel Sheppard.
"No, Sheppard, you can't change things with your mind!" Al was saying vehemently to Sheppard. "Are you nuts? You're not going to make me go away just by thinking about it!"
"Well," Sheppard drawled, clearly furious, but clearly holding it in check. "It's been known to happen before. Maybe I can think a weapon into my hand." He looked down at his hand as if he really expected it to happen.
“Al! Hey, Al!” Sam interrupted.
Al turned with his mouth open to speak to Sheppard, and let it hang open as he stared at Sam.
“Sam! What are you doing here? Sam....you do know that you’re....floating, don’t you? And also that you seem to be--” Al swiped his cigar-filled hand through Sam’s body. Sam looked down and saw cigar smoke drifting through his translucent outline. “Well, only semi-visible. How did you do that? Where are you? Gushie's had Ziggy looking for you everywhere and everywhen and Colonel Sheppard here refuses to tell me anything useful.” Al stuck his cigar in his mouth and literally fumed.
Colonel Sheppard jumped in before Sam could answer. “What are you doing in my uniform? Where’s my team? What the hell is going on?”
Sam ignored him. “Al, I’m on another planet! There’s some sort of military top secret project to do with wormholes. Can you get clearance and get Gushie connected to their database? I need to find out what I’m supposed to be doing!”
“Dammit! Answer me! My people were in danger!” the Colonel demanded.
“They’re fine, Colonel,” Sam answered him. “McKay fixed the mushroom-thing--”
“Oh! That’s the DHD? Well he fixed it and sent us to...um, MX4-345? Is that right? Where is that?” In utter surprise, Sam watched Colonel Sheppard blush bright red.
“Aylesta? Dammit, Rodney, of all the times to get romantic...” the Colonel muttered.
“Colonel,” Sam pleaded. “Please, help Admiral Calavicci. It’s the only way you’re going to be able to go back to your own time and place.”
“Gushie,” Sam spoke as loudly as he could, hoping that Gushie could hear him, that Ziggy could record him, or at least that Al would hear and remember and be able to pass the information along. “Doctor Rodney McKay. I think the Leap has something to do with him. I know him from someplace, I just can’t figure it out yet. I wish my memory--”
“SAM!” Sam didn’t need Al’s shout to know that he was disappearing from their sight. He felt intensely dizzy, as if he was in a huge whirlpool, spinning down some immense drain.
Sam flew out of the other side of the wormhole onto MX4-345 as if shot from a cannon. A loud boom resounded from the big circle as the wormhole collapsed. Sam’s body was thrown through the air for a few seconds before crashing into a swimming pool, or...a fountain? He slammed into the water with a force that knocked him out cold for a few seconds before he woke up choking, thrashing, and flailing, with Ronon hauling him out of the water by the scruff of his collar. McKay grabbed onto his belt, and Teyla grabbed a flailing arm and they were all babbling at him, dragging him to safety, patting his limbs, and wiping water from his face, looming over him claustrophobically in their concern.
“That is enough!” came Teyla’s stern voice. “Let us allow him to breathe. Rodney, find the medical kit. Ronon, help me roll him onto his side.”
The rolled him onto his side in the recovery position and Sam allowed himself to take deep, whooping breaths, coughing out the little bit of water that had managed to lodge inside him. He felt like somebody had dumped a truckload of bricks on him.
“Colonel? John? Are you okay? Is he okay? Does he need CPR? Can he breathe?” the tone of McKay’s voice was strident and anxious.
Oh boy! Rodney McKay! The force of memory returning was another ton of bricks dumped on him. Sam had met Rodney McKay at his old undergraduate school, MIT, the last time he'd visited, and had argued physics with him many times since then. No wonder he hadn’t recognized McKay. He remembered a skinny blond teenager--intense, brilliant, a workaholic, and the most arrogant and obnoxious individual on the face of the planet. Sam swallowed a hysterical giggle at the thought that McKay was now probably the most obnoxious man on several planets, and coughed instead.
“He can’t breathe! Teyla, do something!” McKay didn’t sound all that obnoxious now. He just sounded scared. The man here was very different from the teenager Sam remembered, especially since he looked closer to forty than fourteen. His shoulders had broadened, his body had filled out...and his hairline had definitely receded. The eyes were the same though; the same intense blue. The crooked mouth, now twisted in anxiety, was the same too.
Sam reached out and grabbed McKay’s hand. “’M fine, Rodn’y,” he coughed. “Just, just some water went down the wrong way, is all.” McKay clutched Sam’s hand in both of his own.
Teyla stroked the wet hair out of his face, feeling his skull, down his neck and his limbs. “Do you hurt anywhere, Colonel?”
“Huh. All over, actually. But nothing broken, I think.” Sam used Rodney’s grip to help him sit up. “What happened?”
McKay looked over at the big ring. “I’ll venture to say that PL3-843’s DHD was definitely disabled for a good reason. That wormhole was most likely unstable. Hmm. Maybe we passed through the corona of a sun, or a black hole or something. Although those phenomena have documented effects on the behavior of wormholes used in the stargate system, and this wasn’t one of them. Are you sure you’re okay, John?” McKay turned to look at Sam again anxiously. Sam noted with amusement that the man hadn’t even released his hand yet.
He squeezed McKay’s hand and McKay looked down and released Sam’s hand self-consciously. “I’m really okay, Rodney.”
“We’ve got company,” Ronon rumbled, from his position standing guard over the rest of them.
“Help me up, then,” Sam said, accepting McKay and Teyla’s help to his feet. He shook the water out of his hair and wrung more water out of his dripping clothes.
A crowd of people were coming up the road leading to the ring--the stargate. The road wound down a hill of groomed parkland, verdant with grasses, shrubs, and plots of flowers, dotted with fountains and benches and, occasionally, gazebos—or, at least, gazebo-like structures.
The people approached closely enough to make out individuals. In the front were several heavily-armed young men, wearing light armor, and, incongruously, pale green tunics and kilts. They were closely followed by a plump woman with abundant gray hair, round pink cheeks, and an anxious face. She wore a pale orange apron over a dark brown dress, and sandals. Suddenly, Ronon and Teyla relaxed. McKay smiled and waved.
“Hildalena!” McKay called.
The gray-haired woman shaded her eyes to peer at them, then suddenly beamed a broad smile as she lifted her long skirts so that she could push past the guardsmen and stride briskly in the team’s direction.
“Roddy! Sweeting! Welcome back to Aylesta,” she exclaimed happily. Sam turned his head to raise an eyebrow at McKay, who was blushing bright pink but still grinning. Movement caught out of the corner of Sam's eye turned his head in time to witness Ronon rushing at the woman. The warning Sam was going to call about the guards died on his lips as he noticed they’d all lowered their weapons and were smiling as they strolled closer. In the meantime, Ronon had reached Hildalena and picked her up, swinging her in a circle around him, her skirts belling out dramatically.
“Oof! Put me down, Ronon, you big oaf!” Hildalena demanded, but she was laughing a delighted pealing laugh, and Ronon took his time doing so, not letting her feet touch the ground until he had squeezed her into a hug and kissed both her plump cheeks.
Ronon escorted Hildalena back to his team, her arm tucked comfortably into the crook of his arm, her face bright with pleasure and goodwill.
“Teyla, my darling! It’s been too long since you’ve visited us,” Hildalena scolded gently, as she and Teyla clasped hands and bent their heads close to touch foreheads together.
“I have missed you and your people as well,” Teyla responded, gravely but with a sparkle in her eyes.
“Roddy, my sweet, come give your Auntie Hildalena a hug,” she demanded, and McKay promptly complied, taking the opportunity to murmur something quietly to her as well. Sam didn’t remember McKay being very huggy or touchy-feely back when he’d known him before, but perhaps it was this place, these people, that made the difference.
The woman came to him last, regarding him with her hands on her hips. “And why are you so shy today, Colonel John? And why so wet? You will get sick.” She plucked at his wet clothing and patted his face.
Sam leaned down and gave her a peck on the cheek, as she seemed to expect. “I fell into the fountain, ma’am.”
The guards, as well as the small crowd of people who had followed them, all exclaimed and murmured at that. A small red-haired boy in a pale blue tunic wriggled past a knot of his elders to come and cling to the hem of Sam’s wet jacket. “How did you fall in, Colonel John? You’re not clumsy.”
“Um--” Sam patted the child’s head and looked pleadingly at Teyla.
“The Circle of the Ancestors had some difficulty, Jospin,” explained Teyla helpfully. “It delivered Colonel Sheppard more forcefully than usual.”
A young red-haired woman in a long, dark blue dress and bright white apron came and took the child’s hand. “That is very unfortunate. Were you hurt, Colonel? Do you need medical care?”
Sam shook his head. “No, thanks, ma’am, I’m fine. Just wet.”
“Thank you for your kind offer, Mara,” said Teyla pleasantly.
“Does the Circle still work?” asked a red-haired, bearded man in long slate-blue robes, striding forward on sandaled feet to stand next to Mara and Jospin. He folded his arms across his chest and peered up at the stargate.
“That’s a good question, actually, Adran,” said McKay, bustling over to the DHD. “Since we need to check in with our people anyway, let me see.” He looked up suddenly, his brow furrowed. “If...if that’s okay, Hildalena?”
“Of course, Sweeting. It makes good sense, and of course you must check in with your Dr. Weir,” said Hildalena. “Did you come here to visit us specifically, or did you come on your way from somewhere else?”
“The latter, Hildalena,” said Teyla, with a regretful incline of her head. “We did not bring anything to trade, I’m afraid. We came because we knew we could rely on your people’s kindness.”
Adran had gone to stand next to McKay at the DHD, studying it as McKay’s hands pushed down what Sam could now see where coded keys. McKay pressed the red crystal at the center and the wormhole formed dramatically in the big circle. Sam watched as McKay keyed in some sort of code with a device strapped to his wrist.
“Colonel Sheppard? Dr. McKay? This is Atlantis. What is your status? You’re late for check-in,” came a voice over the radio.
Sam thought rapidly. “Um. We’re--we’re fine. We’re calling from MX4-345. There was something wrong with the DHD on PL3-843. Dr. McKay can explain.” He nodded at McKay, who thankfully took over the conversational ball with their home base—code-named “Atlantis” Sam noted.
“Teyla, Colonel John, please ask your Dr. Weir to allow you to stay with us, at least overnight,” Hildalena asked. “You know how much we enjoy your company. I’m sure we have some dry clothes for you, Colonel John. Adran has found additional devices that may have been left by the Ancestors, and we know Dr. Rodney likes to examine them. We will take the opportunity to have a dance and a roast--what did you call it last time, Colonel John? a 'barbecue'--in the town square. I think Leylor and Hurst can even be persuaded to make some of those pastries that Ronon and Dr. Rodney like so much.”
Teyla and Ronon turned identical pleased and pleading expressions on him, like kids asking to go to a birthday party. Sam felt a silly grin come out on his face as he nodded at Teyla. “Why don’t you go ahead and make the request, Teyla? You know what’ll be convincing.”
Teyla made a demure face as she nodded, then went over to stand next to McKay and Adran, waiting for her turn to speak. It was probably best that Sam stayed away from their home base as long as possible, at least until Al finally got back to him with some sort of clue about what his role was in this Leap.
Sam took a moment to marvel that interplanetary travel had turned out to be so strange, yet so familiar. Despite the novel mode of transport, the “aliens” all looked human enough, and acted human too--some of them were willing to shoot you on sight, and others were ready to throw a party just because you’d come to visit. He felt obscurely disappointed, somehow, like the experience should be much, much stranger than it was turning out to be. He felt like announcing to the people around him that he’d seen much weirder things before, and they were letting down the entire concept of “aliens.” Instead, Sam let himself ruffle Jospin’s hair again, and grinned.
Faint sounds of music and laughter and the smell of barbecue trailed him later that night as Sam made his way into the guest quarters—a sturdy little one-room cottage with thick, river-stone walls covered with a creamy white plaster and a grey clay-tile roof on top. The only door was heavy, sturdy wood with a close, dark grain. There was a latch that kept the door closed, but no lock or bar, and Sam mused on the dearth of crime intimated by that simple lack. The room smelled like wax and dried flowers, much less musty than any guest quarters Sam had ever remembered staying in before—their hosts must have aired it out for him. There was a sturdy wooden table just inside the door, and he set the lamp he carried down carefully.
The lamp used some kind of glowing, crystal-infused gel instead of fire, and the light was honey-gold and warm, sparkling with reflections from the crystals. It lapped over the homey furnishings of the room, making them look familiar and cheerful and the alien parts less noticeable. The light reflected back from the surfaces of the three windows set deeply into their sills—one on each wall of the house except for the wall with the door. The windows weren’t made of glass, he remembered Adran mentioning over supper, but the polished carapace of some kind of large domesticated insect. Sheppard’s team had all looked over at him worriedly after that pronouncement, as if Sam--or rather, Sheppard--had something against bugs.
Sam set his weapons and his cleaned and dried uniform down on one of the chairs by the table and slowly circled the room. He trailed his fingers over the top of the wooden table, then over the slick stone countertop next to it, and the slightly cooler stone of the sink next to that. One wall was almost completely covered in broad shelves, except for a cubby framing the window in the center. The shelves were filled with covered baskets, of different sizes, shapes, and colors. He lifted the cover on one of the smaller baskets and saw that it was full of the fuel pellets the townsfolk had used at the barbecue.
He scooped one up in his hand. It looked and felt rather like a hockey puck, except it was a bit heavier. He carried it over to the heater/stove combination across the room. It looked a lot like the ones that had been used for cooking the barbecue and then heating the pavilion with the dancers. He hoped it worked like they had as well, because he was chilly, the sharp night air biting at his bare skin—and right now, Sam had more skin bare than he was used to. Goose bumps decorated his arms and naked legs, the borrowed kilt he was wearing no real protection from the chill. He opened the compartment on top of the stove, dropped in the fuel pellet, and turned the lever on the side. A few minutes of shivering later, the stove began to sigh and emanate heat. Sam stood near it for a few more minutes, absorbing the warmth, before going in search of another necessity.
He found it in the large closet next to the bed. The toilet was basic, but it was indoors, which apparently was something to be grateful for. The kilt was at least useful in this circumstance. Sam hadn’t appreciated it at all during the dancing.
There was a mirror attached to the inside door of the toilet closet. It was probably more insect-carapace instead of glass, but it reflected well enough so that Sam could take a look at his new face--Colonel Sheppard's face. This was what people saw now when they looked at him.
The face was handsome, but more importantly, interesting to look at. A little sharp, with pointed nose, chin, and even elvish ears, but balanced by a full, curvy mouth and bright, clever eyes. The body was long and lean, fit and sturdy. And a tad hairy, he acknowledged, with a rueful glance at the legs and somewhat knobby knees exposed below the hem of the pleated kilt.
“There you are!” exclaimed McKay, bursting in through the front door, startling Sam out of his boots--almost literally, since they were untied.
“Ah...hi, Rodney.” Sam hadn’t realized that the accommodations were to be shared. Well, he’d had a feeling that this Leap involved McKay somehow anyway, so it was probably for the best he got the opportunity to talk with the man. Sam waved a little at McKay, who grinned broadly and brandished a basket he was carrying.
“Sorry I’m late. I, ah, got some stuff from Mara.” McKay waggled his eyebrows in a completely disturbing way, and began to shed his jacket, boots, vest, and pack by the table.
“Stuff? What stuff?” Sam asked curiously, taking a step towards the basket.
McKay snatched it up, grinning. “Oh, you know, stuff...” The eyebrows waggled again as McKay’s eyes looked him up and down. “Oh, hey, were you looking at yourself in the mirror?” McKay swept up to Sam, depositing the basket on the bed, and, with a nudge at his shoulder, turned him around to face the mirror again.
Sam’s skin prickled and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up as he faced Sheppard’s reflection in the mirror, with McKay standing behind him, peeking over his shoulder. Especially when McKay’s hands came up and curled around his waist, right where the cream-colored shirt tucked into the waistband of the dark green kilt.
McKay’s chin hooked over the top of Sam’s shoulder and his body settled closely in back of Sam’s body. Oh, boy... Sam swallowed nervously. He could feel the hard, solid heat of McKay’s erection through all their layers of clothing, pressed familiarly against his ass. Sam swallowed again.
“I don’t blame you for ogling yourself in that outfit,” murmured McKay, oblivious to Sam’s discomfort. His eyes were dreamy-looking in the mirror’s reflection. “You look so hot. So, so sexy.” He turned his face to the side of Sam’s neck and began to kiss tenderly, hungrily, along the taut tendon there, nibbling the skin where the neck joined the shoulder, nuzzling and breathing on the skin behind Sam’s ear. “I’m sorry if, you know, I didn’t spend much time with you tonight. It’s just...just...” his hand swept down Sam’s kilt-covered flank and landed on the skin of the hairy thigh just below the hem of the garment. “I would have made a spectacle of myself in public.” McKay's hand caressed lingeringly up Sam's thigh, hiking up the fabric of the kilt. Sweat broke out on Sam’s forehead, and his heartbeat felt like a throbbing fist in his throat.
“Speaking of which,” McKay’s voice grew sharper, less dreamy, and his hand froze in place. Ironically, Sam felt his panic momentarily turn down a notch. “You really didn’t have to flirt with Hurst’s daughters to get my attention.” McKay delivered a sharp nip to Sam’s earlobe, then a series of tiny licks. “Believe me, you had my attention. Teyla and Mara were giving me raised eyebrows all evening, and Ronon and Adran were laughing at me.” He nuzzled and licked behind the earlobe some more, one hand resuming its leisurely, caressing voyage up Sam’s thigh, the other tugging the shirt out of the waistband of the kilt, then sliding underneath, fingers swirling in the hair on Sam’s belly. Sam drew in a sudden gasp. Jumping Jehosaphat! I can’t be getting turned on!
“R-Rodney?” Sam’s voice came out just the slightest bit squeaky. His hands were shaking and he didn’t know where to put them. His knees were shaking, too.
“Mmm?” McKay’s fingers were playing in Sam’s pubic hair now, and Sam found that strangely distracting, especially since the other hand was drawing a lazy spiral on Sam’s chest, heading inevitably for his right nipple, which was tightening up in anticipation.
“Rodney, I--AH!” McKay had simultaneously flicked a fingernail against Sam’s nipple, bitten down on the join between neck and shoulder, and cupped Sam’s balls in his hand. A hot shock of terror and desire jolted through Sam and his back arched, pressing his body deeper into McKay’s hands, McKay’s teeth. His hands had found a place to land after all, reaching behind him to grasp McKay’s solid thighs and pull him closer so that Sam could grind his ass up against McKay’s erection. Thought froze in a loop of panic and arousal in his dazed mind as he realized that he’d slouched back, knees bent, so that he could loll his head back against McKay’s shoulder. Sam’s shuddering gasps ended in thin, high pitched whining sounds at the back of his throat as McKay’s clever, clever hands played with Sam’s balls and nipples in ways that nobody in his memory had ever done before, as McKay’s tongue licked wetly at the skin that he’d bitten before he began to blow cool air across the dampened flesh.
Sam groaned. “Rod-ney, wait,” he panted.
“Hmm? What is it, John?” McKay’s voice was preoccupied, but his hands stilled, one still gently cupping Sam’s balls, the other flattened in the middle of Sam’s chest, over his thrumming heartbeat. The slow, swaying motion of his groin against Sam’s ass gradually stopped as well. His glittering eyes met Sam’s in the mirror.
Sam winced from his own reflection. That it wasn’t his own body he was seeing, but Colonel Sheppard’s, hardly made it easier to look. The shirt had fallen mostly open, and completely off the shoulder nearest McKay’s wandering mouth. The opening showed Sam his own heaving chest, McKay’s hand standing out pale against the dark chest hair and the flushed, pointed nipples, perspiration gleaming against his collarbone. His cheeks were flushed, his mouth was slack and rosy-lipped, and his eyes were glazed and dilated. Amazing how much terror and desire resemble each other. But no, he couldn’t lie to himself. It wasn’t just fear. The wretched kilt was tenting up in front, and it wasn’t all due to the bulk of McKay’s hand under there. Sam desperately tried to remember if he’d ever Leaped into a gay man before. Wouldn’t he have remembered that he liked gay sex? That seemed like it would have been a memorable thing.
“Rodney. Rodney, we can’t. We can’t do this here.” Sam licked his lips and consciously straightened up, taking his hands off of McKay’s thighs, feeling McKay’s hands leave his skin as Sam took a half-step forward. He couldn't-- He couldn't do this. Couldn't intrude between Sheppard and his lover this way. Even if McKay never knew. Sam would know. He turned to face McKay, who was still standing far too close, the front of his trousers tenting way too disturbingly.
McKay harrumphed in seeming irritation. “Oh, come on! Don’t give me that.” He settled one hand on Sam’s waist and brought the other one to the back of Sam’s neck. “I get it. I do. You have to be a conscientious commander. You can’t let our actions in the field--” McKay waggled his eyebrows again. “Compromise us or put us in a situation that endangers the team or the mission. And, usually, you’ll notice, I’m one hundred percent behind that. I’m all about safety, believe me. You’ll recall that I’m almost never the one who asks for nookie in abandoned barns or caves or whatnot, eh, Mr. Horny?”
Sam opened his mouth to reply, and left it open, having absolutely nothing to say. McKay took advantage of the situation by using that grip on Sam’s neck to pull him down into a kiss. Sam didn’t recall ever kissing another man, either, although his weird memory lapses meant that he well might have for all he knew. But even if he had, he was certain it wasn’t anything like this kiss. A kiss like this, he would have remembered. It started soft and tender and progressed into wet and lewd, then zagged back to tender again. Several times. It took a hundred percent of Sam’s attention. He didn’t realize that the hands he’d brought up to McKay’s shoulders to push him away were now clutching him closer. He hadn’t noticed that McKay had walked them both to the side of the bed. Until, at last, McKay broke the kiss, slowly, and suddenly pushed Sam back onto the bed. Sam sat abruptly with a bounce.
He swallowed. “Listen, Rodney--”
“No, John, look, it’s fine. This is as safe offworld as we’re going to get--safer, in some ways, than Atlantis. Adran says the alarm system we put on the gate for them works great. The underground bunker system is in good repair again, and this moon hasn’t been culled by the Wraith for generations.” McKay had stripped off his own shirt and unbuckled his belt. He leaned down and cupped Sam’s face to bestow another kiss, warm and sweet and frighteningly arousing. “Besides, you didn’t have a problem making love the last time we were here. Anyway, it’s our anniversary.” McKay smoothed the fabric of Sam’s open shirt off both shoulders leaving it pooling around Sam’s lower arms in favor of caressing Sam’s chest and throat with his fingertips.
“An-anniver-sary?” Sam found himself gasping in gulps of air.
McKay waved a finger in his face. “Our six-month wedding anniversary. We got married here on Aylesta six Atlantis months ago. Teyla said you wouldn’t remember.” McKay grinned crookedly. “To be perfectly honest, I didn’t remember either. Do you know Ronon, of all people, reminded me? I think he was really touched that you wanted him for your best man. Who knew he was such a romantic?”
“Wed-ding?” Sam’s voice had gone oddly high-pitched.
McKay frowned. “Well, you did get a little drunk at the reception, but I would have thought that you’d remember Hildalena marrying us the last time we were here.” His face got a little dreamy. “It’s certainly a vivid day in my memory--it’s the first time you let me fuck you. Ronon wanted me to get you a present, but Teyla thought that might be more appropriate for the year-anniversary.”
McKay had stripped off his pants and underwear. Sam’s eyes were relentlessly caught on the other man’s large, bobbing erection. It was very...pink.
“P-present?” Sam’s voice wavered and his thoughts were disjointed, but he thought that he could be excused, because of the way that McKay was carefully draping back the kilt so that it fanned artfully around Sam’s hips, exposing his genitals, like a flower petal surrounding a pistil and stamen. Sam’s own erection was obviously very agreeable to McKay’s plans. Sam swallowed. Hard. Oh, boy, this is gonna happen. It's really going to happen...
McKay leaned forward and cupped Sam’s face in one broad palm, the other hand resting on Sam’s naked knee. He took Sam’s mouth in a warm, wet, leisurely kiss. Sam found himself leaning forward as McKay pulled away. “You want a present, Colonel?” McKay said softly, as he slowly sank to his knees between Sam’s spread legs, looking at Sam from beneath long, dark eyelashes. “How about a nice little blowjob? Ow, my back is killing me,” he complained, ruining the romantic effect. “And how about handing me a pillow for my knees so I don’t have to kneel on this hard floor, hmm?” McKay began stroking deliberately up Sam’s thighs. Sam stared at him, then wordlessly reached for a pillow on the bed and handed it over.
Sam swallowed down his fear and let loose a groan as McKay began to suck him.
They left the next morning, apparently needing to be at some meeting with a group called “SG-1” back at their home base the next day. Sam was grateful to be wearing pants again. McKay was bouncing and happy, having an arm-waving conversation with Adran all the way back to the stargate. He carried his basket with the gift of “stuff” from Mara--apparently several jars of a very good quality lubricant. Sam thought uneasily about what McKay would eventually want to do with that gift later on, and wished he didn't know what was in the basket.
Teyla and Ronon carried their own baskets, and Sam restrained his curiosity from asking what was inside. He probably didn’t want to know about them either.
At the stargate, Hildalena, Mara, Adran, little Jospin, Leylor, Hurst, their daughters, and several other townsfolk who evidently considered themselves friends, all spent several minutes noisily and affectionately bidding the team goodbye and safe voyage, extracting many promises for their return in the near future.
Finally it was time to leave. “Teyla, please take us home,” Sam nodded to Teyla, relieved when Teyla simply nodded back and proceeded to dial the DHD device and produce a wormhole. McKay spoke with their home base to let them know they were returning, and then it was a matter of waving goodbye and stepping into the watery-looking surface.
As before, when Sam stepped through the wormhole, he thought desperately of contacting his home base, and the wormhole’s energy took him to Project Quantum Leap headquarters in New Mexico.
He found Colonel Sheppard in the Waiting Room, slumped at a card table, playing a morose game of Solitaire.
“Where’s Al?” Sam asked him.
Sheppard turned quickly, leaping up and scattering cards over the floor. “Beckett! Where’s my team? Are they okay?”
“They’re fine, Colonel. We’re on our way back to your base right now. Where is Admiral Calavicci?” said Sam, with a large dollop of patience.
“Uh. He’s out negotiating clearance to be told about our project.” Sheppard hooked his thumb over his shoulder. “Listen, what the hell is going on? The Admiral won't tell me--if he really is an admiral, that is. All I know is that I was abducted by you people while my team was on a dangerous mission and you seemed to take over my life without them even noticing! How can you do that?"
Sam sighed deeply. "Okay, okay, calm down, calm down. You're not helping the situation by getting upset."
Sheppard braced his hands on his hips and scowled mutinously. "I'm damned tired of aliens taking over my body, is all. How the hell has nobody noticed that you're not me?"
"I'm not an alien, Colonel. I promise you, I'm as human as you are. I'm just stuck Leaping into other people's lives to fix some kind of problem. Your friends see you when they look at me, even though it's somehow me that's really there." Sam raised a hand to ward off the questions he could see Sheppard was about to ask. "Listen, we don't have time for this. I don't even know why I'm in your life. The thing is, I won't be able to Leap out of your life again until I resolve whatever problem I was brought in to solve. If it helps, I think it has something to do with your husb--with Rodney McKay."
"How do you know that? Is Rodney in trouble?" Sheppard frowned and paced back and forth a tense few steps.
"It's just that I've learned that there are no coincidences with this thing," Sam explained. "And I've met McKay before. Tell me about Rodney, Colonel. What event in Rodney's life have I Leaped in to prevent? Or to cause? Is Rodney in the middle of something important? Dangerous?"
Sheppard threw up his hands abruptly, stalking back and forth like an angry animal. "When is McKay not in the middle of something important or dangerous? Beckett, Rodney's doing important, dangerous, super-classified work--that I can't tell you about--all the damned time!"
Sam felt the intense dizziness sweep over him again. Oh, no. Not now!
"Beckett!" Obviously, Sheppard had noticed him fading out as well.
"It doesn't necessarily have to have anything to do with any of your classified work, Colonel. It could be something personal. Whatever it is, it's something that's going to happen soon. Tell Al, Sheppard. Everything you can, about Rodney, about his work, his life, anything you can think of. It could mean his life, Colonel!"
Or yours, he thought, but didn't say, as the giant whirlpool sucked him away from the look of dismay on Sheppard's face....