INSOMNIA

Lorraine Anderson

Ugh.

John Sheppard looked up at the ceiling in his quarters. The team was due to go off world at 0700—so why was he sleepless at 0200 in the morning? He sighed. There was no reason for it. He had spent yesterday doing paperwork. Elizabeth had insisted on multiple mission reports, just in case the Atlantis expedition connected up with Stargate command again, which, he supposed, made sense.

But he had gone to bed with a raging headache, and Carson's medicine hadn't helped.

Not only that, his laptop was acting up. If he didn't know any better, he would swear that it had a virus. McKay had looked at it, grumbling all the time, and swore up and down that it was working perfectly, that John just didn't know how to work a laptop.

Maybe if he thought about something else? Like a big fat juicy steak? The last baseball game he had seen? He flashed back to the day that the Wraith had awoke. Um, no, that didn't really help him clear his head. He shuddered.

He turned on the light and got up, groaning. Maybe a run would clear his head.

He got his workout clothes and his jogging shoes and changed quickly. He was glad that he had insisted on bringing those as part of his gear when they had set out for Atlantis.

Of course, if Atlantis hadn't surfaced, then the clothes wouldn't have done him any good.

Why was he flashing back like this? He usually wasn't a flashback type of guy. He must really need this run.

Opening his door, he saw Ronon coming down the hall. Ronon acknowledged him with a grunt. "Can't sleep?" John said lowly.

"Too quiet here sometimes," Ronon said. "I feel like I've been in one place too long. Sometimes I just need to move."

John nodded. Ronon had been running from the Wraith for years; it was no wonder that he felt restless. "Where do you want to go?"

"Thought I'd run to the South tower and back a few times."

John nodded and they walked down the hall in silence. They passed Teyla's room, and the door opened.

"You, too? Is insomnia catching?"

"I could not clear my head of thoughts of the upcoming mission. The Volcans …"

John grinned. He couldn't clear his head of Mr. Spock. Teyla shook her head at John, smiling slightly.

"As I was saying, the Volcans can be rather obstinate. I do not believe that we will get any goods without a good, productive argument. And they do love good arguments." She sighed.

"I thought these were some of your best trading partners."

"They are," she said, "but this is the first time I've approached them on behalf of the Lantean city. I am not sure how they will react. They may wish us to take the test of Acka'ar again.

John snorted. "This whole planet sounds like a bad Star Trek episode."

Teyla and Ronon looked at him blankly, then looked at each other and shrugged. "I know that you grin every time you hear the Volcan name," Teyla said. "But I am not sure why."

"I'll have to show you those videos sometime."

"Were you going to take a run?" Teyla said.

"Yes."

"May I join you?"

"The more, the merrier."

They passed Rodney's door. John half expected Rodney to pop out, and he stopped at the door. Listening, he grinned. "He's snoring."

"Good," Ronon said. "This way, we can run as fast as we like."

"Not that Rodney runs slowly," Teyla said, as they walked on.

"He doesn't run as fast as we do, unless a Wraith is after him."

"Hey." John grinned. "He doesn't believe in wasting his energy unnecessarily."

"Really," Ronon said.

"It's a direct quote."

"Oh, I believe you." Ronon grinned. "Sounds like him."

They took a transport booth and emerged out onto the pier. The stars above twinkled down. John wondered when they would get around to finding out what Teyla's people called the constellations.

"You know," Ronon said, conversationally. "I used to avoid being under open sky. The sight still makes me a little nervous."

"Because of Wraith darts?" Teyla said

He nodded.

Teyla looked inwards. "If it makes you feel any better, I don't feel any Wraith around here."

"You know, I could have used you when I was a Runner," Ronon said.

"Well, you're not running now, are you?" John said.

"No," Ronon said, looking up. "Wait. What's moving out there on the dock?"

"Do you have your weapon?" John said. "I didn't pick mine up."

"Always," Ronon said. "And you need to learn to bring a gun."

"Hard to run with P-90s."

"But not impossible," Ronon commented.

"I don't wear my P-90 to bed, either, like you do."

They walked cautiously to the moving object, who turned out to be …

"Elizabeth?" Teyla said.

"I couldn't sleep, either," Elizabeth said, "so I thought I'd take a walk. You three are out for a run?"

"Yeah."

"Rodney?"

"Sleeping the sleep of the dead," John snorted.

"Nothing bothers him, does it?"

"Nothing except Wraith, citrus fruits, and the fact that Samantha Carter might be smarter than he is," John said, grinning.

"He told you that?" Elizabeth grinned back.

"Not in so many words."

"Of course," Ronon said dryly. "I would like to meet this Samantha Carter."

"Perhaps you will someday," Elizabeth said.

"Is everybody up in the middle of the night?"

"Radek?"

The Czech man came up to the group. "Couldn't sleep, either?" John said.

"I was up reading," he said. "But it's not just me," he said. ""Look"

They looked at the residential ring of the tower. Various lights were coming on, but other rooms stayed dark. "This is not right," Teyla said.

"You think?"

"Okay," Elizabeth said. "Everybody back to the control room. I'll accept three or four people having insomnia, but I don't believe that half the expedition should be up."

They quickly walked back to the control room. A number of people were walking the halls, quietly, looking askance at each other. The group looked at each other. "Okay," Elizabeth said. "We need to find some common denominator. Is Rodney up?"

John looked around. "I haven't seen him yet." He looked around again. "I have a hunch." He toggled on his intercom. "Carson. Are you awake?"

"I shouldn't be," the answer came right back, "but I am. I'm in the infirmary. Is there an emergency?"

"Could you come to the control room?"

Carson sighed. "I'm not doing anything else. Including sleeping. Why not?"

A short time later, he showed up. Looking around, he said, "There are a lot of people awake."

"Do you notice the common denominator?"

"Yes," he nodded. "Apart from Radek, Elizabeth, Ronon, and Teyla, they all have a natural variation of the ATA gene. Including myself. But none of the people who have the ATA gene enhancement seem to be awake." He peered at Elizabeth. "You haven't been taking your medicine."

"A few sleepless nights won't hurt me."

"I'll be the judge of that."

She shook her head, smiling. "We need to find out why all of these people are awake. Do we all have a contagion? Is there something outside that's waking us up?"

"The city would have warned us if there was a contagion," Carson yawned.

"But not if it's a cold or some equivalent of the flu."

"True. I could go back to the lab and grab some blood samples as I go."

Elizabeth turned to the Czech scientist. "Radek? Can you investigate if there's some sort of problem with the city?"

He had wandered over to the computer. "Actually," he said, "I'm seeing some sort of collapse underneath the South pier."

"Is it a serious problem?"

"No," he said, then he looked like he had an idea. "But this could be why all of you are waking up." Turning back to the computer, he tapped a couple of buttons. A loud scraping noise came over the speakers. He swore in Czech in a low voice.

"This," he said, "Is what I think is waking you up."

"But I didn't hear anything," John said, "until you turned on the speakers."

Ronon and Teyla looked at each other. "I did not, either." Teyla said. Ronon shook his head.

"I've raised the pitch to the audible range for most people. This scraping sound is just below most people's audible range, but perhaps people with the ATA gene are sensing it somehow. And it's big enough to send minute vibrations through the main tower."

"Well," Carson nodded. "About it being in the low audible range—that's entirely possible. We don't know everything about the gene, only that those with the genes can activate certain things. I haven't thought to check the audible range, since it hadn't seemed important before." He yawned again. "Or maybe the city is sending out a distress signal that only those with Ancient genes can interpret."

"But that doesn't explain why Teyla and I couldn't sleep," Ronon said.

"Or Radek, as far as that goes. And," Elizabeth said. "The warning system seems a bit too subtle for the Ancients."

Radek shrugged. "I was working, anyway."

"Just a theory," Carson said. "I'll have to test your audible range," he said to Ronon and Teyla, "if you don't mind, of course."

"Not at all." Teyla said.

Ronon shrugged.

"You don't think the break is severe enough to threaten the city?" Elizabeth said to Radek.

"If we had ignored it long enough," Radek said, "yes. But I'm certain we've discovered it early. Like you said, the city would have alerted us if it were serious, I think." He yawned. "Right now, it's just annoying."

"How long will it take to fix it?"

Radek shrugged again. "A couple of hours, at the most, unless it's more extensive than I think." He gestured at a few people from the scientific crew, and they set out.

"Think we should go along, just in case it's more than a break in the structure?" John said.

"I'll go," Lorne said, walking up. "You have that mission in the morning, sir,"

John closed his eyes. "Don't remind me."

"And," Teyla said. "These people value promptness and keeping one's word. No excuses."

"I can't imagine that yawning in their faces would help us in our trade negotiations."

"They will understand that," Teyla said calmly. "They may value promptness, but they are not without compassion."

"Hmmm."

"Still want to do that run?" Ronon said.

"Well," John said. "Since it doesn't seem that I'll be getting any sleep for a couple of hours—let's go." He started sprinting to the end of the dock.

John looked at the Stargate and yawned. Rodney walked up to the gate, his pack on his back, a sour expression on his face. "What's the matter, Rodney?" John drawled.

"I hate getting up this early just to go to a planet that has no discernible technology and listen to stiflingly boring negotiations."

"I would not suggest, Rodney, that you fall asleep."

"Are you kidding? I might fall asleep," Rodney said. "After all, I was up all night worrying about that Jumper problem …"

John, Teyla, and Ronon grinned at each other. "Right," John said. "You worry rather loudly."

"While you were snoring," Ronon said, "Radek saved the city."

"Oh, come on," Rodney said. "If there was something wrong with this city, I would know about it." John grinned, and Ronon and Teyla smiled. "Ha, ha. Very funny. You're just having a joke at my expense." He snorted, then turned toward Elizabeth.

"I just got word from Radek," Elizabeth said, walking up. "The break in section B1 has just been completely fixed. I'm just sorry that he couldn't do it sooner so that you could get some sleep before you go."

"Yeah, well," John said. "It's not the first time I've done without sleep." He looked at his watch. "And—it's time to go."

"Wait," Rodney said. "You mean, what Ronon said was true? There was a problem with the city?"

Elizabeth nodded, deadpan.

"Why didn't someone wake me?"

"We decided that you needed your beauty sleep," John drawled.

"Just because the noise got us up didn't mean we needed to wake you up," Teyla said. "One of us should get some sleep."

"But what happened?" Rodney almost wailed.

"Radek was perfectly capable of handling the problem," Elizabeth said. She smiled, and her eyes danced. "We couldn't see any point of waking you up."

John smiled. It was going to kill him that he hadn't saved the city this time.

"I need to know what happened!"

"I'll tell you later," John said. "It's time to go." It wasn't quite, but he wasn't going to tell Rodney. "Now, be quiet. The Volcans probably don't like their trade partners crying."

He could feel Rodney's glare as he entered the gate, and he grinned. This was going to be fun. Rodney was going to complain for days!