Author: Hekdom-Landers Inc.
Title: The Other Side of Life
Rating: M
Pairings: McKay/Weir, Sheppard/Teyla, Beckett/OFC, Zelenka/OFC
Spoilers: None, really, seeing as this is AU
Characters: Sheppard, McKay, Zelenka, Beckett, Weir, Ford, Teyla, Murdoc
Warning: Foul language and violence

Disclaimer: We, the authors, do not own SGA or its characters. The storyline, Avani Hekdom, Nicole Landers, Nikola and a few minor characters were created by our brains.

Summary: Life seems so easy, so normal, but what happens when the lives of two girls- a conspiracy freak and a normal woman just trying to get by- are swept up in something that could truly be out of a fantasy novel? Trapped in war on the other side of a life they never knew, they need to figure out where they stand and how to stop an evil force before it reaches it's goal.

A/N: Yes, this is AU. Very AU. So AU in fact, that Atlantis is scarcely mentioned. However, pretty much all of season one's cast is in here, with nice juicy parts.

Chapter One

Niki rubbed at her eyes as she looked up from filing the last reports of the day before glancing over at her friend. "Day's almost over," she said with a grin, "And I for one can't wait. I mean, filing's one of the easiest jobs I know of, but it's kinda boring"

Avani grinned at her friend. "I know. Some of these spelling errors are atrocious. I really should have taken that teaching degree and actually used it rather than accept a joint job as a secretary with you."

She gave Avani a mock hurt look, her eyes widening and pouting ever so slightly. "What's wrong with me?" then she grinned and shrugged. "Anyway, we get paid pretty good money, more than you'd be making as a teacher."

"Yeah, ever wonder why?" Avani leaned towards her friend; since they had gotten their first paycheck and had been told that no, they were not being overpaid, she had been hinting that maybe something more was going on behind the office doors behind them.

"Not that again," Niki said, rolling her eyes. "Look, we both have the qualifications...and if they want to pay us way over the rate that secretaries are normaly paid, then who are we to complain, right?" she glanced, however, at the closed doors of the inner office.

"I'm just saying," Avani said, leaning back as she toyed with her pen in a casual fashion, turning her face from the camera in the corner, supposedly there for their protection, "that just maybe we're missing something. How come all the files we deal with look so old, or- more often- too new to have anything to do with any month-long projects. You know how most scientists are- I find it hard to beleive that not a single paper is ripped or stained ever-so-slightly with coffee. Don't you ever question just what goes on here? Because I sure as hell don't believe that bullshit they fed us about going over old government projects."

"Well," Niki said softly, "Do you really want to question their motives? I mean...if something illegal were going on...if we don't know about it, we can't get in trouble with either the law or with them..."

"And how do we know they aren't the CIA? Do we really know what we've gotten ourselves into? Look at the security, for Christ's sake, Nik!" She hissed, motioning to the camera and the door that had two guards outside, "What's all that for? Our protection or whatever is through those doors?"

"They are getting very suspicious." Teyla commented to her partner as they watched and listened to the two women talk, "Our Grecian secretary won't be buying this for much longer, no matter how flexible."

"Yes," Liz said, sounding disappointed, "I guess I should have realized that them being smart would mean they'd eventually start wondering." She sighed.

Niki rolled her eyes and gave a short little nervous laugh. "Well, you know...that's just crazy."

"Is it?" Avani asked, reaching into her bag and yanking out a folder, waving it at Niki, "I have searched the Internet; you know how I am about conspiracy theories and the like. And in every classic case it has symptoms like this! Pointless security for some small operation, the ignorant workers who don't know what's going on till it's too late... mark my words, one of these days we're going to find out what's going on and I don't mean they'll be telling us."

Niki glanced surreptitiously at the camera and then back at her friend. "Avani, what happens to those people who look into these cases?"

"Oh you know, the usual. Either they come in contact with whatever the project deals with and have some freaky experience or die from it, or their employer finds out and there're all sorts of... repercussions..." She slowly stopped talking and looked over at the camera. "Oh. Oops. You don't think they heard all that, do you?"

Teyla grinned at the monitor. "She really does speak too freely about things sometimes."

Liz raised an eyebrow. "We'll give them a couple of days, and if they're still...curious...we'll give them the boot," she sighed again, "And start looking for someone new."

"What do you think the camera's are for, chopped liver?" She shook her head and rolled her eyes again. "Anyway, I think you've been reading entirely too many of those things." Her voice shook as she spoke though, her own mind wondering the same thing. How had two people with degrees in entirely separate fields gotten secretarial jobs?

"I think that maybe now-" she was watching the camera suspiciously from the corner of her eye, "- is not the time for this any longer. We have... files to get done before we leave. I really wish we had editing work to do... I didn't get an English degree for nothing ya know." She grumbled to herself.

"Yeah well, I'm not exactly using my art degree," she smiled and sat back down at the desk, "So lets get finished up here okay?"

"I'm done," she replied, slipping the last of the files away; yeah, that was another thing. How did they have so many files on such a "small" project. She'd bring it up later. "So, Chinese tonight?" she suggested to Niki; they always ate dinner together.

"Chinese sounds good to me...but not that place on Fourth...it's way too greasy for my stomach," she responded before standing up and stretching.

"Oh, of course! I was thinking more like grabbing an order of General Tso's chicken from Chang's and whatever you'll be getting tonight," she replied, packing up her bag and making a note in the planner on the desk as to the precise time of her signing out and how much she had gotten done that day.

"Sweet and Sour Chicken of course," Niki said cheerfully, grabbing her purse--which was actually one of those mini backpacks--and walking to the door, "and of course their famous Lo Mein."

"Of course." She rolled her eyes. "I'm so getting white rice. Do you know how bad the other kinds are? I shudder to think I used to eat that. The chicken is bad enough."

"Ah fudge, give me a moment," Avani said as she accidentally dropped her open bag and had to collect things off the floor, "Did you sign your planner out? Or at least make a note of it?"

Niki sighed and rolled her eyes. "Yes, we've only been doing this for...oh never mind." She bent to help her pick her things up.

XXX-XXX

John walked up to the nondescript building with peeling paint that had no signs except for a building and street number painted on the door in big white block letters. "Think they'll have the info we're looking for McKay? Or is this yet another of your dead ends?"

"Hey, that last one wasn't my fault and yes, I'm sure this is a safe bet. Stop your whining, Sheppard, and let's go." Rodney replied snarkily, walking up the steps and yanking the door open, heading for the elevator near the back

John followed him in, rolling his eyes. "Not your fault? If you hadn't been thinking with your nether region instead of your head, you would have realized that Samantha Carter was married to O'Neill...and that they had nothing to do with monsters...except for her fantasy novel that she wrote."

"Hey," he said as he turned to press the button in the elevator, "I was not thinking with the wrong head, thank you. I thought that was an honest lead and how was I to know she was married to an Air Force general? That was not my fault at all. Her book actually hit the truth one time too many for my tastes. This one will pull through, I promise."

He grumbled a little more before sighing and running a hand through his already messy hair. "Fine, fine." He slumped back against the elevator wall and closed his eyes.

Rodney watched the doors close and the floors rise without another word, although he did start on his annoying habit of tapping the crossbow hidden under his coat. As the doors dinged open, he strode purposefully down the hall towards the soldiers.

John lazily followed his partner and then smiled at the soldiers standing guard. "Hey there! I'm John Sheppard and this is my friend Rodney McKay...we're here to speak with Weir or Emmagan"

Rodney didn't even bother waiting for the guards to answer, just barged right on by and waltzing into the room where the two secretaries froze, Avani halfway back into her seat. She blinked and then put her things away. "Are you Weir and Emmagan?"

Avani gave Niki a quick glance. "No sir, we're just their secretaries," she calmly resumed her seat, "Do you have an appointment?"

"We don't need one. What we need is to speak with them. Now," Rodney said, walking over and leaning on her desk.

John rolled his eyes, "Oh yeah, real smooth mister "Ladies Man",' he muttered under his breath and then smiled brightly at the two women.

Niki frowned slightly, her mind still on what Avani had been talking about before. "I'm sorry, but without an appoint..."

"Why don't you gentlemen come back with me?" Liz asked congenially as she stepped out of the office. She had seen them on the camera and instantly pegged them as what the supernatural community called 'slayers'.

Avani shot Liz a keen, searching look, but then just nodded and pulled a pen seemingly out of thin air and jotted the meeting down in her planner as a note; she was very precise about those things. "Name please," she said absently while writing.

"McKay," he said shortly, already sizing Liz up.

"Hmm…" Avani commented shortly, earning a glare from Rodney as she closed the book and put both that and the pen into her bag, picking up her coat as she stood. "We're taking off for the day, Miss Weir. Is there anything you need?"

Keeping her gaze on the one who called himself McKay, she shook her head. "No thank you Ms Hekdom, I'll see you both tomorrow."

Niki rose and began walking quickly towards the door, intent on getting out of there, her imagination coming up with all sorts of things.

"Yes, ma'am." She walked to Niki, giving Sheppard a once over as well. Still, her boss could take care of herself. "So, Niki," She said cheerfully as they stepped into the hall, "What movies are we getting tonight? I need something action/adventure. Van Helsing?"

John glanced back at the two, his eyebrows going up. Had that been some kind of a crack?

Niki wrinkled her nose. "I'd rather watch X-Men 2, if it's Hugh Jackman you're wanting to see."

"What can I say?" She grinned and growled slightly. "I like werewolves." She looked back into the room and smiled politely. "Gentlemen, Miss Weir." As she closed the door their discussion could be heard continuing. "I still don't know how you aren't attracted to that..."

Rodney stared after them, frowning. They spoke like they knew nothing of the supernatural really existed.

Liz noted from the corner of her eye that the two had left and gave a little sigh of relief. "Now," she said, her tone business like, "What can I do for you?"

"Your secretaries act like they don't know anything of what's going on," Rodney said, still watching the door with narrowed eyes, "Have you told them anything, Miss Weir?"

"They don't need to know," Teyla said, stepping into the room, "And this is a conversation to be had in private."

"Oh?" John asked, "And why is that? We don't hide who we are Miss...Emmagan?"

"It's Doctor to you, thank you very much," Liz said shortly.

She inclined her head. "You know my name but I seem to be forgetting yours, Mr...?"

"Fine. Doctor," Rodney said in that sarcastic tone he got.

Liz nodded tightly and then turned back to the door walking through, calling over her shoulder, "We'll continue this discussion inside."

John put on his most charming grin and held out his hand, "I'm Sheppard, John Sheppard."

She smiled politely back and gripped his hand in an amiable way. "A pleasure I'm sure. Now, "Teyla said, dropping his hand and heading after Liz, "What have you two gentlemen come to us for?"

"Information," Rodney said shortly, following the two.

XXX-XXX

"So?" Avani asked, looking at Niki as they took the elevator down, "What do you think of them?"

"Think of who?" Niki asked absently, "Werewolves? They're okay I guess."

"No, moron!" She chastised, "Those guys! Do they look like "scientists" to you? I mean, I can buy some of the things but I will never buy that "McKay" is a scientist."

Niki rolled her eyes. "Obviously you've never seen my father," she muttered, "Fine, I'll bite. What do you think they are?"

She grinned, bouncing slightly. "I don't know. But my mind bursts with possibilities. Whatever they are, it has to do with what's behind those doors we aren't allowed to see, let alone go through. I'm going online when I get home to see if I can find something out about their type."

Niki groaned and put her head in her hands. "I knew I shouldn't have asked," she muttered.

XXX-XXX

Wind blew bits of trash across the empty front of an abandoned office building in an area of town that few but the worst sort ventured into. Viktor gazed up at it, the collar of his trench coat pulled up to shield his face from the wind. This was where they were supposed to meet?

"Don't give tha' look, Ah think we're more likely nah t' be caught here than in a crowded section," he said, having snuck up on Vik, almost as good in subtlety as his vampire partner.

Viktor hissed slightly and turned towards the werewolf "Don't sneak up on me like that." and then he looked back at the building. "You think so? I think this is one of the first places they'll look...if they are looking."

"Of course they are," he said back just as softly, looking around, "They won't give up till th' last of us is dead. So th' sooner we end this, th' better. Ya have th' meetin' set with our informant?"

"I do," he confirmed, "and if we do not get a move on, we'll be late and we will have missed our chance." As usual, he spoke flawless English with an accent, and often mixed contractions with more formal speech. "And if we miss this chance..." he left his sentence hanging and walked up to the building, checking out the door. Sure enough, it was left just as the informant had said it was.

He followed his friend, hands carefully stuffed into his pockets. Werewolves had mastered transformation whenever they wanted ages ago, and still kept their powers in their human forms of course, but he could feel in his bones the coming of a fullmoon when transformation for new wolves such as himself was manditory. "Full moon in a few nights."

"I'm immune," Viktor murmured absently as he pulled the door open and stepped inside.

"If Ah bitecha, you die. Ya know tha' as well as Ah do," he said in a pointed tone, "Werewolf an' vampire do nah mix blood well."

He shrugged lightly and began walking slowly towards their destination...a small room on the first floor, keeping his senses open. "Better to die by the hand of someone I trust than another way. Besides, I have been around for a very..." he paused and listened, having heard something...the sound of heavy breathing. "…long time." His voice lowered to a whisper.

He stepped towards the room, feet not making a sound and slowly pushed the door open. A man, pale and shaking stared at him nervously and then turned away to look out the dirty window.

"Y..you're l...late" he stuttered "I...I...didn't..t..think...ah! "

Viktor had crossed the room and had him by the lapels before he could finish. "Tell me what I wish to know you sniveling fool, for I do not want my time wasted," he hissed dangerously.

"Easy there, we do nah want t'kill him before we get our information," Carson said soothingly, resting a hand on his friend's shoulder, "Ah would speak quickly." He suggested to the frightened informant.

"I...what you're looking for is in the red desert...that's all I know...I swear..."

Carson gave him a sharp look. "The Red Desert? Is this some kind o' joke?"

"N...no...no joke..."

He growled low in his throat, eyes glowing in the dim light. "I told you, I have no time for fools..."

The man's voice rose to a sharp whine, "The Red Desert...that's what I heard...now do I get paid?"

Viktor relaxed suddenly and stepped backwards, releasing the man as he did so. Then he reached up and straightened the color, brushing away imaginary specks of dust, speaking as he did so.

"Oh yes, you shall have your reward. The greatest reward of them all." As soon as he had finished straightening the man's clothes, his hand shot up with the speed of a striking cobra, easily breaking the man's neck.

"Death."

He watched the man fall to the ground with blank eyes and then turned around, walking out.

Carson sighed in disgust and trailed after his friend. "Oh come on, Vik, do ya have t' kill em every time? We leave a trail of corpses behind us and someone is bound t' notice!"

Viktor ignored his friend and continued walking on.

"Vik! Wait up!" He called, growling under his breath in annoyance and putting on a burst of unnatural speed to catch up.

"We need to find out what he meant by 'Red Desert'," Viktor said, not slowing his stride at all.

(tbc…)