Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters to Stargate Atlantis, nor am I making any type of profit from this story. It is a work of fan fiction, for enjoyment only.

SPOILER ALERT: Some spoilers for "The Brotherhood" and minor ones for "The Gift" and "Before I Sleep". This story is set immediately following "The Brotherhood".


By KerrAvon

The sun was warm as the waves gently lapped the sand. Major John Sheppard lay on a beach towel soaking up the rays, as kids in swimsuits raced splashingly past. The breeze tanged of sea-salt and ocean spray, just enough to keep it comfortable. Tan girls in bikinis strolled provocatively past as if they knew just how beautiful they were and wanted to flaunt it. Occasionally John would prop up on his elbows to watch the parade; sometimes he would even wink. If he was really lucky, they might wink back…

"Come on, Major, stay with me here." A man's voice, painted with worry, interrupted the beach scene. Major John Sheppard groaned and tried to roll over, to go back to the tropical paradise, but the gentle slapping of a hand against his cheek pulled him towards painful awareness instead.

Squinting open his left eye, he peered though the dimness to focus blearily on a slightly pudgy astrophysicist. "This had better be good, McKay," he ground out through clenched teeth. "I was in the middle of a fabulous dream." He slowly became aware of some miniature construction worker apparently trying to drill his way out of his skull with a jackhammer.

McKay sat back on his heels, relief washing over his face. "Oh, Thank God. I thought you were…well, never mind." He turned an intense gaze back to Sheppard, who noticed that the scientist appeared significantly grubbier than was his wont. He opened his other eye as Rodney continued. "Listen, Beckett says that you might have a concussion, and that I'm supposed to keep you awake and quiet. So, I'd appreciate a little assistance on your part."

The pounding was getting worse and all he wanted to do was to let oblivion take him; better yet, he wouldn't mind going back to that dream-Kauai…

He was unaware of his eyes drifting closed until McKay slapped him again, this time somewhat harder. His eyes popped open. "Stop that," he growled warningly.

"Then you have to stay awake." Rodney's eyes darted back and forth as he tried to think of something to capture the Major's attention. As Sheppard's lids began to lower, he asked urgently, "Major, do you know where we are?"

'Aw, jeez, why me?' Taking a deep breath, the pilot glanced about his surroundings hoping for a clue. They appeared to be a stone room that had seen better days. Late-afternoon sunlight filtered in through a jagged defect in the wall about ten feet above them, illuminating a ten-foot by fifteen-foot roughly rectangular enclosure. Boulders and rocky debris were scattered about the floor, and there was dust everywhere. The far wall was covered with carved alien words and diagrams…

"PXS-4J6," he replied with a sigh.

"And what were we doing here?" Rodney spoke quickly so as to not lose the Major's concentration.


"If you don't want the questions, then stay awake." Rodney sounded affronted.

Giving up temporarily on the idea of a little nap, Sheppard sighed. "As usual, looking for a ZPM on another God-forsaken hellhole. This time, with earthquakes."

McKay let loose his breath with a whoosh, then managed a faint smile. "That'll do." He keyed his mike, which miraculously still worked. "Carson, he's awake, knows who he is, where he is, and why he's here."

A tinny voice crackled back with a brogue, "That's good, Rodney. What's the last thing he remembers?"

McKay turned back to the prostrate soldier. "You heard the doctor; what's the last thing you remember?"

"The sky falling."

McKay looked towards the ceiling as if Beckett were there. "You get that?"

"Sounds like he's oriented, all right. Keep him awake and talking."

"That's a lot easier said than done."

"You're a genius, so you keep telling us. Think of something. We're digging as fast as we can, but it's slow going - the roof keeps trying to cave in on us, and the two of you injured is enough. Beckett out."

Rodney rolled his eyes in disgust. "Now isn't that reassuring. Oh, no you don't!" he exclaimed as the soldier started to waft away. A few firm pats on his cheek had the Major awake, eyes blazing.

"Would you stop that!" he hissed.

McKay thought frantically for ways to keep the Major engaged, then brightened as an idea occurred to him. "Did you ever figure out that last puzzle I sent you?"

John groaned. 'Not now…'

The day after he'd let it slip that he'd passed the MENSA test, he stopped at his desk on the way to breakfast to find the neat piles of "To Do" OER's shoved aside, and a note with Rodney's distinctive scribble displayed prominently in the cleared space. Sighing, Sheppard picked it up, expecting a demand to come and 'touch something' immediately. Instead, he read: "Write down the next two numbers in the sequence: 1, 10, 3, 9, 5, 8, 7, 7, 9, 6?". He frowned in confusion, 'What in the world…?' The light bulb blinked on. 'He's testing me!' Sheppard grinned. Leave it to Rodney to obsess on how 'smart' somebody was when they were three weeks away from becoming Wraith kibbles. He ran the series in his head, then jotted down "11, 5". Too easy.

The look on Rodney's face as he casually handed it to him in the Mess Hall a few minutes later had been priceless. He had to give McKay style points for his forced impassivity as the scientist casually asked between mouthfuls, "So, how long did it take you?"

Sheppard shrugged as he sipped his coffee. "Ten or fifteen seconds? I just stopped by my desk on my way here."

He mentally subtracted 'cool points' as McKay choked, requiring Zelenka to pound him on the back as he forcefully coughed up the egg-substitute from his trachea. Temporarily giving up on looking nonchalant, Rodney scowled as he caught his breath. He yanked a pen from his pocket and with a determined frown wrote rapidly on his napkin, then thrust it at the pilot.

Bemused, the Major looked at what was written. "Sally likes 225 but not 224; 900 but not 800; 144 but not 145. Does she like 1600 or 1700?"

"Well, that depends," he drawled, handing the paper back to the astrophysicist. "The easy answer is '1600', because they're all perfect squares. However, you could make a good case for 1700 as well."

Rodney's eyes narrowed suspiciously as Zelenka plucked the paper out of his hand. "How do you figure that?"McKay demanded.

"Well, she could simply like numbers in which the sum of the digits plus the number of the digits equals twelve. That would make 1700 correct instead."

Rodney shook his head in disbelief. "What?"

Zelenka started tapping the paper excitedly. "No, no, he is right! Look here - 2 plus 2 plus 5, then add 3 because of three digits - equals twelve. Nine plus three, again for the three digits in nine hundred, equals twelve. But 1 plus 6 plus 4 is only eleven, while 1 plus 7 plus 4 is twelve!" He peered over his glasses at Sheppard in surprise and murmured, "Brillant."

Rodney yanked the napkin out of the engineer's hand. "Let me see that!" Sheppard just smirked as he watched McKay pour over the problem, lips moving as he mumbled to himself. The scientist's eyes widened as he reached the same conclusion as the Czech. He then raised them to fix Sheppard with a challenging stare. "Granted, you're good at math. But so was 'Rain Man'; I'm not excluding the possibility of idiot savant." Tapping his pen on his upper lip, he stared thoughtfully into space. "Hmmm….let's see…."

Deciding that he had better things to do than watch Rodney cogitate, the Major scooted back his chair. "Tell ya what; when you come up with something, let me know; meanwhile, I need to meet Teyla for hand-to-hand practice, then see Weir about possible evac sites." He nodded to the two men. "If you'll excuse me?"

Rodney waved him off distractedly. "Sure, sure. Find you later," he muttered as he began scribbling furiously again.


AN: Sorry it's been so long - Real life and all that - I'll try to post the next part soon! Anyone have any favorite puzzles for our Major to solve?