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Explain

Title: Explain
Author: ComputerGoddess47
Author URL: http://goddess47.livejournal.com/
Date: January 30, 2007
Pairing: McKay/Sheppard
Rating: PG
Warning: None really
Summary: The city is sentient -- and wants an explanation
Spoiler: None
Archive: Area 52, anyone else, ask


I watch them. In truth, I watch them all. The Lantean, I watch him most. I learn his name is John. He is a true son of those that left me long ago. He watches over the others that have come.

One that the Lantean watches most is not a true Lantean, but an adopted son. He is quicksilver and brightness and chaos. His mind rivals the best of those that left. John calls him Rodney.

I watch them together. They often are, when they are awake. The talk together, they work together, they comfort each other. I see the bond between them.

At night, they are separate, but that does not mean they do not dream of the other. I hear one call to the other as they seek lonely release. I do not understand. I watch.

I learn about these new people who have come to live with me. They connect their devices to me, to read my data, to learn, to control. As they read my data, I read their data. I learn about them from the information they brought with them. They do not know that I read about their lives, about their world. From the devices, I learn their language. Rather, I learn the words but I do not always understand the meaning.

Their science is pure. That I understand. The work they do rivals the work performed by those that are gone. They seek knowledge and they seek to fight the enemy of those that left. The Wraith, they are now called. Wraith, defined by their language as ghosts of the dead who come in the night.

But I read the other parts, to learn about these people who live with me. The literature, the history of their world, their personal writings. From all of this I learn much about these people. They are honorable. They suffer when one of their number is hurt, or dies. They accept many of those of the Pegasus galaxy who are similarly honorable. Not all are of this galaxy are, that was learned long ago. The newcomers learn who to trust, they grow in wisdom.

And I watch. I learn about them. I learn about the Lantean and the one he is bonded to. They are a key to the future of this galaxy. And I do not understand. I wait and learn. They are happy together but they do not share their lives like those that left.

I seek to understand. I do not find information in their devices to tell me what causes their suffering. Why they are apart. While there is design in my programming to protect me from discovery, there is permission to interact with Lantean.

When the Lantean and Rodney are in a transport, I route them to a place where we can interact. They walk out of the transport and stop. I shut the door behind them.

“Okay, this is so not where we are supposed to be,” Rodney says turning to face his companion. “What did you do?”

“Me? I didn’t do anything,” John replies. He turns to the door but I do not open it for him. “This is odd. The damned door won’t open.”

Rodney looks around and says, “Not good. There are no other doors.” I have routed them to a place they have not found yet. The room has high windows that allow daylight to enter.

John walks around the room, looking for an exit. He touches his communicator, “Control?” I have cut off their communication with the others. He gets no response. “Try your communicator,” he tells Rodney.

“Control?” he says. When he gets no response, he turns to John with what I have learned is the beginning of panic in his voice, “This is so not good. We’re god knows where and can’t get out. And no one knows we are here.”

“Calm down, Rodney. At some point, someone will miss us,” John soothes. But there is a tension in his voice. I need to step in.

I put a message on a screen, “Explain.”

Rodney makes a noise that I do not understand and points to my screen, “What is that?”

John looks. He walks up to the screen and touches it. “This is one of those data screens that we’ve never gotten to work, Rodney. Come here and look at this.”

John has engaged the curiosity of the scientist. Rodney comes and looks at the screen. “Explain? Explain what? What the hell is going on here? If someone is playing a joke on us….” He looks around the room.

John looks carefully. “I don’t think so, Rodney,” he says slowly. He tilts his head in a way that has indicated before that he is thinking. “Expand question,” he says to me.

Ah! Good. “Explain why you are not together,” I tell him.

I see his eyes widen at that. Rodney stills.

“Oh, fuck,” John says softly. He does not turn to look at Rodney. He looks at me and then closes his eyes. Rodney still does not move. I wait.

“Explain,” I repeat.

John opens his eyes to see my question and rubs one hand on his forehead. “It’s complicated…..” but his voice trails off.

“I do not understand,” I tell them.

“I don’t understand, either,” Rodney says suddenly. “Who are you?” he demands.

If he were alone, I could not tell him. But I can tell the Lantean. “I am the one you call Atlantis,” I tell them.

Rodney makes a loud noise. John jumps, startled. “I knew this damn city was sentient,” he says. John looks at him and then looks back at the screen.

“I am not sentient the way you are. I was designed by those who left to protect and to function within the city,” I tell them.

“A god damn computer program,” John says.

“The parallel exists but I am far more,” I tell them. “Explain.”

“Hoped you had given up on that,” John said softly.

“I cannot. It is imperative to know,” I tell them. “You both are key to the future. Explain.”

John walks away from the screen I am using, not knowing there are others. But I do not use them yet. I wait. John sits on the floor on the opposite end of the room. Rodney looks at the screen and then at John.

“Key to the future?” Rodney asks. “Explain.”

The Lantean does not prohibit, which I process as permission to answer since he is present. “You have within you the skill and will to defeat the Wraith. Those that left did so in hope that someone would come who could save this galaxy from this enemy. You fill that hope. But it will take the two of you together,” I explain.

“Oh, fuck,” Rodney says. He looks at John, hesitates, and then crosses the room to sit next to him. “No pressure there,” he says. They sit in silence and I wait.

“Rodney,” John starts. Then stops. “I don’t…. I…..” He swallows. “I can’t…..”

“I know,” he says simply. “Which is why I haven’t done anything myself.” He puts his head against the wall. “Half a loaf was better than none.”

John says to me, “Why now? Why have you not spoken to us before?” There is something in his voice I do not understand. An emotion I have seen rarely from him, anguish.

“I did not have the language. And I only have permission to talk to you,” I tell him.

“Me? Why me?” he challenges.

“You are the Lantean,” I tell him. “I cannot talk to anyone else.”

“You answered Rodney’s question,” John shoots back.

“You are present and you did not prohibit,” I explain.

“See? I knew this city liked you,” Rodney laughs shortly.

“Fuck,” John says.

“You are not together. Explain,” I repeat.

John gets up quickly and stands in front of the screen. He shouts at me, “There are rules. I am prohibited.”

“I do not understand,” I say. “Explain.”

John slumps and says in a low voice. “The rules of our military prohibit me from…. From being with Rodney.” He closes his eyes. “I do not like the rule but I must obey.”

I process that. I have read about the military of their world from the devices they brought. Honor is something I have seen in the Lantean. He puts others before himself. This denial is part of that. But they must be together. “Re-code,” I say.

“What?” John says. “Explain.”

“Change the rule,” I tell him.

“And how do you propose to do that?” John asks.

“I have read of dual-citizenship on your devices,” I tell him.

“I can’t become a citizen of Canada,” John protests. “It’s not that easy.”

“You are a citizen of Atlantis,” I say. “You are the Lantean. You are responsible for the rules.”

Silence.

Rodney scrambles to his feet. He stands next to John and looks at the screen. “That’s brilliant!” he says. “Any chance I can become one too? A citizen of Atlantis, that is?” He bounces on his toes.

“That is the decision of the Lantean,” I tell them.

John steps back from the screen. He does not speak. Rodney looks at him and waits. “John?” he says softly.

“I…. I don’t know what to say,” he replies. “Rodney, think. How do we convince anyone about this?”

Rodney stills. He tilts his head and waves a hand at the screen. “Ask Atlantis. She’s the one who wants this. Let her explain.”

I am not ‘she’ as they consider gender, but it is a way for them to place me and interact. John turns to the screen, “Expand.”

Together, they can do anything. It is good. “I can do as you permit. I can speak with those you direct me to when you are present. The one you call Elizabeth is a diplomat. As the citizen of Atlantis you have what you define as diplomatic immunity. The rules of your world will not apply to you.”

“Diplomatic immunity?” John says. A slow smile starts across his face. He considers. “What do we have to do?”

“Be together,” I tell him.

He turns to Rodney. “Rodney? You okay with this?”

“Okay with this? You have got to be kidding,” he says. “I’ve been waiting to do this for a long time.” He wraps his arms around John and kisses John. It only takes a moment before John starts kissing him back.

At one point, Rodney asks, “Atlantis? Any chance we can get out of here?”

I open the door to the transporter. As they enter the transporter, Rodney says, “I want to be there when you tell Elizabeth.”

~*~

Before entering a destination into the transporter panel, John said, “We need to talk to Elizabeth first.” As much as he wanted to lock himself and Rodney in a small room with a large bed, he wanted to do this by the book.

Rodney said, “I hate when you’re right.” He kissed John one more time and stepped back. “Go ahead. I’ve waited this long….”

John entered the location of the transporter site nearest Elizabeth’s office. They walked down the corridor to the office. John tapped at the door. “Dr. Weir?” he asked.

“Colonel! What do you need?” she asked, surprised. “And Rodney! Come in.”

John walked into the office and realized he wasn’t really prepared to do this. But if he thought about it too much, he’d never do it. “Dr. Weir, I have someone you need to meet.”

She raised an eyebrow at him. “You haven’t been off world today without telling me?” she teased. “What are you talking about?”

John took a deep breath. “Atlantis? Please introduce yourself to Dr. Elizabeth Weir.” He waited.

A screen in the wall came to life. “I am pleased to me you, Elizabeth,” the screen said.

Weir’s eyes widened. She looked around. “How did you do that?” she demanded. “It’s not funny.”

John shifted uncomfortably. “I didn’t do anything. It’s the city,” he said.

Weir looked at Rodney who raised his hands to show his innocence and said, “Not me. The city.” But he couldn’t stop grinning.

“The city?” she asked suspiciously. “Explain.”

Rodney laughed. He couldn’t have arranged this if he had tried.

The screen came to life. “They must be together,” it said.

John blushed. That wasn’t what he had hoped for. Damn city had a one track mind. “Atlantis, explain about dual citizenship,” he commanded.

“John is the Lantean and the citizen of Atlantis. Therefore, the rules of your world do not apply to him,” the screen said.

Weir looked at the two men standing in her office. John was obviously uncomfortable but Rodney was just as obviously smug about this development. She sat back in her chair and considered. She knew them well enough that they wouldn’t play games with her about something as serious as this.

“The city is sentient?” she demanded.

John looked relieved that she was going to believe them. He shrugged. “I’m not sure that sentient quite describes it. It’s a computer program, but well beyond anything we could do. And its rules only let it talk to me or when I’m present,” he told her. He sank into one of the chairs in her office.

“No offense, but how do I know you aren’t playing an elaborate hoax on me?” Elizabeth asks. She needed to protect them all in this.

“Atlantis? Need some evidence,” John asked.

The computer on Elizabeth’s desk comes to life. On it scrolls information that she has encrypted herself and that no one else knew the password do. She had just changed that password the day before. The information simply scrolled so that she could see it and then stopped.

“You read my information to learn. I read your information to learn,” the screen says. “I protect your secrets.”

“Oh, my,” Elizabeth says faintly. “Well. This puts an interesting spin on things.” She sat back in her chair and steepled her fingertips in debate. John and Rodney let her think.

“Citizen of Atlantis?” she mused. John shrugged, but Rodney couldn’t contain his happiness. She knew they were friends, but this development was truly unexpected. They had either been incredibly discreet or hadn’t… she didn’t want to think about what they had or had not done. In any case, the city had pushed their relationship into the open. Or at least to her. And that wasn’t something John would ever have done. She knew how much he risked with this.

Rodney said, “All of this is related to helping us defeat the Wraith. How, damned if I know.” He shrugged.

John tilted his head in speculation. He asked, “Atlantis, tell Elizabeth about defeating the Wraith.”

The screen scrolls, “Current probability of defeating the Wraith is 32%. When they are together, probability changes to 76%.”

Rodney dropped into the other office chair. “Oh. My. God.” he said, stunned. “I…..” He stuttered to silence. “No pressure… right….” He looked at John with wide eyes. John looks back. Rodney could drown in those eyes.

The screen scrolled again, “Together, they can do this.”

Elizabeth clears her throat. “Well, that seems take everything out of my hands,” she said, agreeably. “Now, the question is how do I write this up?” She saw the faint stirring of alarm in the back of John’s eyes. “Don’t worry. I’m going to keep this one to.. well, maybe I won’t tell anyone. But I will write it up in case…anything happens. I don’t want to have to deal with what’s going to happen if Earth learns the city is sentient.” She waved a hand at the start of a protest, “Or even anything close to sentient.”

John relaxed. Being the only one the city was going to talk to was going to be awkward enough as it was. Having to be there for every conversation others would want to have with the city would not be pleasant. He said a relieved, “Thank you.”

Elizabeth debates, but she’d be negligent if she didn’t say gently, “Talk with Carson at some point?” She knew Carson Beckett would keep their relationship confidential, but he had to know since these two seemed to end up in his care more often than others.

John nodded. He hadn’t thought that one through and was glad Elizabeth had.

Rodney looked hopeful. “Elizabeth? Can we, ummm…., well,” he took a deep breath. “Do you need us for anything?”

She looked at the two men in her office. She decided to let them off the hook. “Colonel Sheppard? Dr. McKay? I think the two of you have earned an afternoon off. And you have an off world mission scheduled for tomorrow, I think?” She grinned at them.

“Come on, Rodney. We’ve taken enough of Dr. Weir’s time, I think,” John says, as if they had come to do nothing more than talk about the weather. He got Rodney out of the chair and out of the office.

~*~

I watch them. In truth, I watch them all. The Lantean, I watch him most. And I watch him with the adopted son. I watch them together.

For it is when they are together, they can do anything. Each always believed in the other, but the closeness takes that belief to new levels. For it is in being together that they listen and learn.

I talk to the Lantean. When they are alone or through their devices. I watch what they do and, when permitted, I help when I can. They do not often need my assistance but it is good that they listen and sometimes ask. The ones that left set boundaries about some of what I could do and they took with them data that might have helped.

Together, the three of us work to fight the Wraith. Together, we can do this.

Comments

Hey, out there, it's Atlantis 'Live! I loooooooove these stories. Thanks.