Title: Hail Mary
Author: imskysmom
Author's e-mail: Feedback: yes please but flames will be incinerated
Archive: SGAHC, Atlantis GenGate, Fanfiction, Wraithbait, anyone else please ask first
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Category: Gen
Rating: T
Pairing: None
Summary: Weir's gone and Sheppard and McKay find a new toy - what could possibly go wrong?
Beta: Tammy and Goo (Queen of the Hardasses)
Season/Episode: Season One
Spoilers: None
Disclaimer: Don't own any of the rights to "Stargate: Atlantis" or the characters but they're sure fun to play with weg
Author's notes: Any mistakes are all mine and are on purpose anyway – so there!

Part One – Perchance to Dream?

The wormhole window collapsed as Major John Sheppard stood watching, arms clasped behind his back.

"Is she gone?"

Sheppard glanced up at the question. McKay stood on the balcony, hands clamped on the railing, peering down anxiously. Looking to see whose ears might be listening, Sheppard moved quickly to stand beside McKay.

"A little louder, Rodney, she might not have heard on the other side of the wormhole." The words were spoken out the side of Sheppard's mouth as he continued to gaze out over the gate room, nodding to a passing tech. "Try and have a little dignity." Stung, McKay's shoulders straightened.

"I'm just saying I doubt whether Elizabeth would really agree with the use we're making of limited resources, Mr. Cool!" This time Sheppard did look at him, the dark eyebrows arched in sardonic disbelief as he silently repeated, 'Mr. Cool.' McKay scowled, ears reddening.

"Just calm down, Rodney, it's all going to work out fine." The Canadian scientist glared at him.

"Remind me again why I'm doing this? Oh yes, it's because you threatened to blackmail me over a perfectly innocent conversation I had with Beckett." McKay snapped his mouth shut and hastily glanced around checking for anyone who might have overheard.

"If it was so innocent, then why are you letting me blackmail you?" The major's gaze had once again been transferred to the activity in the gate room.

"It only sounds bad when you take it out of context!" McKay's tone was a cross between whinging and defensive. Sheppard snorted.

"If you can come up with a context for "space bimbos with big tits" that does NOT sound bad, you're as smart as you think you are," and he clapped McKay on the shoulder.

"Let's just get this over with so I can get back to my work, all right?" snapped McKay striding off rapidly down the hallway toward the transporter. Sheppard took one last survey of the busy Atlantis personnel and followed. They exited the transporter in a remote part of the city that Sheppard had stumbled across recently. McKay moved swiftly, nose wrinkled at the musty, dank smell of the abandoned section of the city, laptop clutched tightly under one arm.

"I don't have all day, Major," he called over one shoulder without turning around. Sheppard blinked where he'd been standing in the doorway of one of the empty rooms and jogged to catch up.

"C'mon, Rodney, this'll be fun!" The scientist stopped and spun around so abruptly Sheppard didn't have time to slow and ended standing nose to nose with McKay. The smaller man didn't back up, but instead thrust one finger in the scant inches between their faces.

"Fun? FUN? Oh absolutely, wasting the morning in a smelly, damp part of the city with no heat, partial lighting and being exposed to toxic black mildew, all so you can relive your high school glory years as a geek-baiting jock and experience a wet dream involving steroid addicted oversized grunts is NOT what I consider FUN." He glared at the major to emphasize his point, and then spinning on his heel, continued towards the room containing the device the major had discovered. "Not to mention losing valuable time I could be working on genuinely valuable technology," he continued grousing.

This was going to be so good for Rodney, Sheppard thought, a satisfied grin on his face.

The room was empty except for a strange contraption that looked vaguely like a modern plastic statue involving five exercise bike frames, handlebars all meeting to make a quadrangle and handgrips carefully delineated. In the center was what Sheppard had assumed was a control panel that roughly resembled the DHD in the 'gate room, but with only one large crystal panel on each of the five sides of the quadrangle, and a single crystal panel in the middle.

McKay moved to an access panel between two of the strange seats and after clipping several wires to the internal workings of the device, held out his hand toward Sheppard without looking up. Sheppard looked down at McKay's outstretched hand, which almost immediately began snapping agitatedly. Belatedly the major realized what he needed, and handed the football DVD over.

"Leave it to you, Major, to find the Ancients version of a Gold's Gym," griped McKay, as the Canadian gave first the DVD, then Sheppard a look of utmost contempt, and then inserted it into his laptop's CD/DVD drive, then continued complaining. "Dragging me down here when I could be doing 'real work.' And don't imagine for one second I have any intention of staying to participate in your ET aerobic session." Sheppard regarded him with an expression of bemused tolerance.

"What are you babbling about now, Rodney?"

The scientist just snorted and rolled his eyes."Obviously this was used as some sort of exercise room, Major. "I shudder to think of what kind of sexual gymnastics you might be imagining. Somehow I DON'T think that was the design intent."

Sheppard just smirked, then looked around as the drive whirred and clicked. "Shouldn't something be happening?" McKay sighed and rolled his eyes, pointing first at John, then at the exercycle nearest him. As he moved to climb on, Sheppard noticed for the first time there was a visor clipped to the side of the panel by each exercycle, a cord running down into the center panel. He unhooked it and held it up to McKay, one eyebrow questioning.

"Think it's safe?"

Sheppard would have sworn McKay couldn't look anymore exasperated, but somehow the Canadian rose to the occasion.

"Obviously that is something I have no way of knowing," he said, seeming to puff like a little banty rooster. Sheppard waved a hand, climbed gingerly onto the exercycle seat and carefully fitted the visor over his eyes. Gasping, he snatched the visor back off his face almost immediately and McKay looked frightened.

"I knew this was a bad idea! Are you blind? Can you see? Are you all right, Major," he blurted out, starting to his feet, laptop sliding to clatter onto the metal floor. Sheppard just goggled at him for a moment, then looked back at the device in his hand.

"Rodney, this is unbelievable! You HAVE to try this!"

McKay plopped down hard onto his butt, clutching his shirt over his heart. "Good God, Major, are you trying to kill me?"

Sheppard was far too excited to pay any attention to the melodramatics. He grabbed McKay by the arm and dragged him up and over to the closest exercycle. Quickly grabbing the visor and clapping it over McKay's eyes, Sheppard ignored the man's vehement protestations, which stilled immediately, just as he'd expected. There was a moment of stunned silence before McKay exploded off the seat, hands scrabbling frantically to rip the visor off as he shrieked wordlessly and stood gasping, staring down at the object and then at the major.

"Tha-tha-that's incredible," he stuttered. The initial look of panicky concern was fading and a slow, delighted smile was spreading across the major's face.

"It's great, isn't it!" he exulted, "even better than I hoped for! You were right there in the game, weren't you!" McKay's eyes were still slightly bugged out, staring down at the visor held tightly in his hand.

"This makes the virtual reality games on Earth look like an Atari system," McKay said in an awed tone. He looked back up at Sheppard. "Do you know what this means?"

"Yes! It means that I get to play football with my favorite team! Do you know if anybody else brought DVDs? Just think about it, Rodney… Have you heard about Simonson's nude volleyball collection?" There was a slightly lascivious look on the major's face that McKay waved off irritably.

"Oh please, enough with the porno frat boy thoughts," McKay said dismissively. "Oh please. Don't TELL me you're still doing "Debbie Does Dallas? Maybe when you're all grown up Radek will loan you his Best of the Czechs collection. Now THAT really holds your attention!" McKay got a dreamy look on his face, and a bit more than that elsewhere. Just as Sheppard was about to leave him alone with his laptop, he shook himself like a dog. "But that's nothing. Juvenile. Just think of how this could be adapted for training sessions! The realism .. . the . . .the . . . the applications! They're just endless!"

The smile on John Sheppard's face grew thoughtful. "Radek has been holding out on me, huh? And what's wrong with Debbie Does Dallas, anyhow? It's got everything?"

McKay snorted dismissively. "If that's all you've got, it'll do, but personally I prefer something with a little more …" he waved a hand wordlessly. Sheppard's grin grew wider.

"Plot?" he supplied helpfully and McKay scowled.


"What do you mean more acting? You thought those orgasms were REAL? Rodney, they must have faked at least fifty percent of those come shots! But I can see it's all about the performance for you," said Sheppard, smirking. "So let's test this out and see how it works when we're both in it." Visibly hesitant, McKay wavered.

"We really should wait to do this until we have someone else monitoring our vitals," he said, the protest sounding weak and unconvincing to both of them.

"C'mon, Rodney. You will never be as safe as you are in a VR! Nothing can hurt you! You can even be the quarterback…," Sheppard said, a wheedling tone in his voice.

McKay's eyes lit up. "Really, because you know, Canadians generally play REAL football, what you Americans refer to as soccer," he said dismissively, "but I always thought I would have had a really good arm for it; I always had excellent aim, but even in baseball no one would ever pick me …," and his voice trailed off.

Sheppard interrupted hurriedly, "I'll bet you have an arm like a cannon and here's your big shot!" None too gently he guided the visor back over McKay's eyes and helped hoist him back up into the exercycle seat. Rushing back around to his side, he pulled his own visor back in place to see…, nothing. Frowning with disappointment, he pulled it down and looked over at McKay, hands firmly clamped on the handlebars, head turning from side to side like a bizarre Stevie Wonder negative.

"Rodney, it's not working over here," he said, not quite able to quell the whine. "Rodney!"

"Try, ummmm," and McKay ducked something and raised his arms in the air.


"Try depressing the center crystal." Reaching over his own handlebars, Sheppard pressed down on the large center panel and then hopefully gazed into his visor again. The sights of the game exploded into his vision, surrounding him completely, and he looked around, trying to see McKay. After a second Sheppard spotted him when a huge linebacker moved slightly to one side. He had just run through the paper flame arch and was standing with the team waving to the roaring crowd. The smile on his face was so huge it looked like his head was going to split open. Sheppard jogged over to him, trying not to laugh.

"So you know those pants make your butt look big," he said, flicking a piece of grass off his own shining helmet. McKay immediately looked over one shoulder, an anxious expression on his face before he glared at Sheppard.

"Oh that is nice!"

Sheppard grinned and slapped him on the back, knocking him slightly forward. "Just having some fun with you, Rodney!" But before he could say anything else, the refs blew the whistles, and the game was on. Trotting out onto the field and lining up for the scrimmage, McKay looked a little pale, but Sheppard kept reminding him it was all virtual reality. As they bent down for the scrimmage, the major thought he actually heard McKay chanting, 'virtual reality, virtual reality,' as he squared off against a hulking receiver a foot taller and fifty pounds heavier.

After the snap, Sheppard couldn't hear anything anymore. He remembered what seemed to have been a flashing 360 degree view of the field; likely because what seemed like his own personal mini-van had hit him so hard he'd completely flipped in the air before landing, face down on the ground, his nose pressed into the grass and someone's knees pressed into his kidneys. When the last elephantine player got off of him, Sheppard had slowly levered himself off the turf, scraping dirt and grass off his tongue.

"Thank God this is college ball," he muttered to himself.

When he caught sight of McKay, there was absolute terror on his face, or what was visible of his face beneath the mud smeared on it. Sheppard repeatedly tried to make his way over to him, but somehow the players shifted him back to his position, and they were once again lined up. It became a long, ugly, painful bad nightmare of crushing hits and slapped bottoms and he cursed himself for convincing McKay to not wait for someone to monitor them. No matter how firmly he :thought: himself out of the game, nothing ever shifted.

Sheppard thought he'd never been more relieved to hear the buzzer calling the end of a game. In that last scrimmage he'd been hit so hard his ears were still ringing; it had taken several minutes before he could distinguish up from down enough to stand and he'd wondered for a disoriented moment if he'd accidentally wandered into a recording of a boxing match. As he dizzily hobbled over to where McKay lay flat on his back on the turf, blood trickling from a split on his lip, he realized his helmet had actually been knocked off his head in that last encounter.

"Are you alright?"

"I'm in hell, Major," was the terse reply.

"Yeah, well, I'm right there with you. Are we stuck in here forever?" It was a moment before McKay answered.

"I think when the DVD ends we should be released…" and abruptly they were staring at each other across the handlebars and crystal panel. They both leaped off the seats, tearing off the visors, but at the first step, both men groaned, Sheppard's hand going to his head, and McKay's to his side.

"I thought you said…."

"We shouldn't be hurt…."

They stared at each other in horror. McKay's hands touched his throbbing lip gingerly and he hissed at the sharp biting pain.