Horse by NebbyJen
Summary: A recent shipment of fresh supplies to Atlantis brings a new kind of trouble to Sheppard and the rest of the gang.
Spoilers/Season: The Hive / Season 2 (When I wrote this, I didn't know about the SGC's new ship. So, this takes place after the destruction of the Prometheus, but before the appearance of the Odyssey.)
Category: Friendship / Drama / H/C
Beta: Gaffer. (But of course, any mistake, and there always is one no matter how hard I try, is my fault because I just can't leave well enough alone.)
Author's Note: Atlantis doesn't belong to me.
(11-6-2010 A story is never completely finished. After recent review, I've noticed that 'ing' is used way too often in my writing style. That is about to fixed. If this looks a little different from other posts or what you remember, hopefully, you'll approve.)
Horse: A basketball game of two or more players, or a slang term for Heroin.
Tumultuous wind thundered hard across the open pier, practically taking Sheppard off his feet as he stood with his hand over his eyes, his gaze fixed on the Daedalus as it rose smoothly from Atlantis. No matter how many times he'd watched the large ship come and go, he still couldn't get over just how cool it was to know that Earth had that out there flying around in space. Finally at it's apex, a mere pinpoint lost in the sky, he glanced away. His focus shifted to the hundreds of supply-filled crates piled about on the open pier.
The Daedalus's latest visit reminded him of a hit and run. Once Caldwell had come striding out the open bay door of his ship, he'd thrust the manifest at Sheppard, grunted orders for him to supervise the unloading while the latest SGC developments were discussed with Weir. Two hours later, all business completed, he'd promptly returned to his vessel. In his brief absence, the replacement team members scurried off the ship while those with injuries that required more extensive treatment were carefully bundled up to be sent home. And sadly, so were those who would never know of their return to Earth. They were carried away with little to show of their service to Atlantis except for a few personal items tucked inside a military duffel and cold remains in a body bag.
Time was of the essence and everyone knew what needed to be done. The destruction of the Prometheus left Earth vulnerable when their only battleship was off in the Pegasus Galaxy. And now it was up to Atlantis to take care of the rest.
"All right people," Sheppard announced over the comm. system, "we've got work to do. Teams two and three, you can start with supplies. Team one; you help locate quarters for our latest additions." Hands on his hips, his eyes hidden from the bright sun behind dark glasses, he watched the hustle. This is what he liked to see, the awkwardness of the early days now replaced by well oiled teams.
"Need a hand?" rumbled the familiar voice of his team's newest addition.
He quirked a grin over his shoulder and nodded towards a stacks of crates. "Care to help me find the skid labeled 'Sheppard Equipment'?"
Ronon merely grunted, plucked the manifest free from Sheppard's hand, and lumbered off for the pile. A pair of techs had directed a lift over for its removal but backed away at his brusque approach. He ignored them and checked the tag against the list. A scrunched face showed annoyance before he moved to the next stack.
Sheppard ambled over to the men once Dex was out of sight. "Don't mind him; he's just looking for the latest supplies for the mess. I think he's hungry."
"Actually, sir," the first tech replied with his hand on the crates, "these are the supplies for the mess." Peeling back part of the plastic, he uncovered the word 'Jello'.
"Oh." The same look that had crossed Ronon's face crossed his own. "Sure that isn't part of Dr. Beckett's supplies?"
The second tech shook his head 'no' and grinned. "Sorry, sir, his has yet to be unpacked."
Eyeing the crate, Sheppard shot a mischievous glance towards the churning water off the edge of the pier. "Probably no chance that might just fall over, is there?"
"Sir, if we did that, Dr. McKay might not have anything to complain about during dinner."
That earned the young technician a raised brow from behind the sunglasses and he swallowed nervously. "Sir?"
"Don't let him hear you say that…" Sheppard glanced down at the name on the man's shirt, "Webster. The more Dr. McKay grouses, the happier he is. And we need to keep him happy. Understood?"
"Yes, sir. Sorry, sir."
Sheppard smirked as he walked away, catching the older tech giving the younger a cuff across the back of the head. He couldn't hear what was being said, but he had a pretty good idea. Spying Ronon as he passed between a stack of crates with his long knife drawn, he decided he needed to catch up. By the time he rounded the corner, sheets of loose plastic lay scattered on the ground and the knife had been slipped back in its sheath.
"Found them," Ronon said without turning around, knowing who was behind him. "What're in these?"
Unhinging the clasp on the top crate, Sheppard grinned like a kid on Christmas morning. With a quick glance back and forth to make sure no one else was near, he revealed a supply of round balls of various colors buried in white packing peanuts.
Ronon reached in and touched one, his face a confused scowl. "Toys?"
"No, not toys, sports equipment." Hefting a basketball free from the static charged peanuts, Sheppard began to dribble back and forth in front of Dex.
The runner did not look impressed. "Like I said, toys."
That stopped Sheppard bouncing the ball and he put it back in the crate, before he pushed aside more packing material to check on the other contents. "Look, sports are a way to burn off energy, create better teamwork, and get some of these people around here some much needed exercise."
Plucking a cylinder of yellow balls free, Ronon raised a bored brow.
"Tennis balls. You hit them over a net with a racket." Tucking the can back inside the crate before anyone else saw, Sheppard relatched the seal and smiled, "Trust me, this is gonna be fun."
The large man didn't look impressed as he helped lift several of the smaller crates onto a hand pulled trolley, surprised to discover the bottom larger ones to be much heavier. "What's in these?"
Sheppard studied his pile of equipment, judging each container before looking satisfied. "Must be the backboards." A forklift rounded the corner and stopped in front of the pair before he had a chance to continue.
"Colonel Sheppard," the driver called out over the hum of the machine, "where would you like me to put these, sir?"
"How about you stack them inside the pier entranceway for now?"
The driver nodded, before lifting the heavy crates off the landing pad. "Do you want me to take those also?" he asked nodding to the pile on the trolley beside Dex.
"We got them. Thanks, Lieutenant," he answered with a wave. Once the lift disappeared back around another stack and headed towards the main pier doors, the colonel grinned. "Let's get these put away and then go see who we might round up for a little round ball later on."
Dex easily maneuvered the cart as he followed the colonel, listening to the man ramble about playing Horse. His grumbled, "I can hardly wait," was not said loud enough for anyone else to catch.
The pair worked their way down through the crowded corridors leading to the science labs. Several unloaded crates were strewn alongside the wall with more packing peanuts spilling out across the floor. In other sections, long strips of the plastic wrap seemed to take on a life of its own, sticking to the bottom of mindless scientist's shoes, while being dragged unceremoniously through the chaos before the wearer shook it off and left it to lie where it landed.
The closer they got to McKay's area, the louder the noise level grew. Several voices could be heard yelling back and forth. One was clearly Rodney's, but the other was unfamiliar.
Picking up the pace, Sheppard and Ronon shoved their way past several frightened junior scientists filling the entranceway, only to bring themselves to a dead stop in their tracks. There in the middle of the room stood one of McKay's assistants, shaking a piece of Ancient equipment in the air over Zelenka's unmoving body, while Rodney tried to convince the man to put the thing down and move away from Radek.
"You're not listening to me!" the assistant cried out.
Rodney took another hesitant step closer towards Zelenka while he kept his eyes fixed on the shivering individual. "David, put that down before you hurt somebody else. Do you have any idea what Dr. Zelenka will do to you once he gets back on his feet?"
Ronon shifted to take up a position behind the man McKay called David, but stopped when Sheppard motioned him to stay still.
"We don't know what he's holding," Sheppard whispered. "Let's see if Rodney can get him to hand it over first." Slowly raising his hand to his ear, he activated his comm unit. "This is Sheppard. I have an emergency in the main science lab and need a security detail and medical assistance." Ignoring the immediate chatter back, he kept his eyes focused on the two standing figures in the middle of the room. "Come on, McKay," he urged quietly, itching to step in and take over.
Rodney was now an arms length away from the other scientist. "Give it to me," he instructed slowly. "David, if you drop that, Atlantis is going to sink like a stone."
"No, you're just saying that," the younger man stammered, his whole body shaking as he took a step back. "I know what this is. You're lying to me. You just want to hurt me. Make me go away."
Shifting uncomfortably on his feet, Rodney shook his head. "That's not true. I just don't want to see you hurt anyone else. Look what you did to Dr. Zelenka. He needs medical attention."
David licked his lips; his eyes flickered over the figure on the floor. "I… I didn't mean, didn't mean to hurt him."
Hearing the sound of running footsteps coming down the hallway, Rodney allowed himself a brief glance towards the doorway and spotted Sheppard and Ronon, with Carson directly behind them. "If you didn't mean to hurt him, then let me get him medical help."
"No." David was no longer able to stand still. Rubbing his nose on the back of his sleeve, he glanced nervously over towards the doorway to see who else might be watching. "Stay back!"
Radek groaned painfully, his hand slowly moving to touch the side of his head. "What hit me?" he asked without opening his eyes.
"Don't move," Rodney ordered his colleague, his eyes locked on the swaying figure before him. "David, what did you take?"
The young man blinked in surprise at the question. "Nothing," he answered belligerently.
"Don't lie to me!" Rodney's snap made all in the room jump at his angry tone. Straightening his shoulders, he stepped over Radek, forcing David to take another step back. "You think I don't recognize the symptoms? What are you, stupid as well as foolish? I've been where you are. I know what happens when your body wants more junk." He took another step forward.
David's shaking increased, the ancient device held perilously loose in his fingertips looked ready to fall. "Stay away from me."
"I can get you help. The same way they helped me."
"No, no, no. You don't understand. It hurts," he whimpered, taking another step back and coming in contact with a work table. Startled, he turned to look behind himself and Rodney made his move.
Using determination he saved for only truly desperate moments, he snatched the device and clutched it to his chest, giving David a slight push to knock him out of the way, before he ran for the room's entrance. "Clear the hall!" he shouted and witnessed several security members duck into nearby doorways.
With Sheppard close on his heels, he made it to an empty storage room and tossed the piece of equipment before he was tackled to the floor. Both men covered their heads as a forceful explosion ripped through the air, raining debris out into the hallway.