Disclaimmer: I don't own Stargate or the characters. If I did... Watch out John Sheppard!
The rhythm of the city changed. So much so, that it woke Major John Sheppard from a deep sleep. For an entire week now, he and various teams had gone to the depths of the city, searching and cataloging room after room, lab after lab. Not to mention the rooms that defied definition. These mystery rooms vibrated with such intensity, Sheppard had to leave.
Rodney McKay of course had followed him out, in fear of his life, "What's goin' on? Is there something wrong?" he would ask every time.
"It's nothing, Rodney. I'm just tired." Sheppard was not about to tell the most paranoid man on this new planet that The City spoke to him.
Sheppard smiled at the memory. Rising out of his warm bed, he walked over to the small window in his quarters and leaned against the wall. He gazed out at the waves hypnotically crashing against the platforms floating above the water. With his fingers, Sheppard traced the window sill. A slight vibration tingled through his fingertips.
"That's weird," he said. Even to his own ears, his voice sounded thick and distant. A wave of dizziness overcame him, pitching him forward; belatedly, he thrust out his hands to keep his face from hitting the floor. The vibration now traveled the rest of his body; he felt like he was sinking through the hard, cold floor. He gave a final sigh, and surrendered to The City.
He floated through The City, traveling the walls and floors like an electrical current. The City took him to a level unexplored by its new residents. Sheppard descended into a room; he felt like he was under water.
This is my hurt, The City whispered. Come here.
Sheppard nodded as well as he could, being non-corporeal. The room nodded back.
"Major?" A persistent buzzing sounded in his ear. He moved away from it, seeking silence, yet above all, the gentle hum of The City. "Major?" It repeated.
Teyla Emmagen came to the major's quarters early the next day to invite him to breakfast. Perhaps some sparring will do him good, she thought. Laying her hand on the palmplate, she didn't expect the door to slide open immediately. She entered cautiously, sensing something was wrong.
The bed was disturbed, so it appeared he had slept at some point, she reasoned. She stepped closer to the bed and saw a bare foot. "Major?" He lay where he fell. "Major?"
Teyla knelt beside him, checking him over. He was cold. Too cold, in fact. Gently, she rolled him over onto his back, feeling for a pulse. It was slow, but steady; his breathing was very shallow. She pulled the tangled blanket from the bed, and tucked it all around his body, encasing him. She touched her headset. "Teyla to Dr. Beckett!"
"Beckett here, Teyla. What's wrong?" He stifled a yawn.
"I am sorry to disturb you, Doctor. I found Major Sheppard unconscious in his quarters."
Carson Beckett instantly sobered. "I'll be right there."
The doctor arrived in record time. He found Teyla straddling the major, rubbing his arms to generate warmth. Certainly quick on her feet, isn't she? Carson thought, admiring Teyla's first aid skills. This wasn't the first time he'd seen her handiwork.
She quickly scrambled out of the way. "He doesn't appear to have any external injuries –" Teyla stopped when Beckett opened his bag. He shined a penlight into the major's eyes.
A small groan escaped Sheppard's lips. Color returned to his face, and his eyes snapped open, darting wildly. "Carson? What are –"
You are needed.
Sheppard struggled out of the blanket to rise. "I gotta go." He stood unsteadily for a moment; Teyla held his arm as he caught his balance. He shook his head once to clear the fuzziness. Taking a step forward, he was stopped by Beckett blocking his exit.
"Now where exactly do ye think yer goin'?"
Sheppard gave his best smile. "I'm fine. Just tired. I'll be back soon. Prom-"
"The hell ye are. Yer comin' straight to the infirmary if I have to –"
"Sorry, Doc!" Sheppard leapt on the bed and jumped off toward the door. He exited the room in a dead run.
Beckett turned his glare to Teyla. "What're yoo standing there for? Off ye go!"
Teyla allowed a smile to curve her lips. The game was on! As she flew out of the room, she heard Beckett say, "Bring him back in one piece, please!"
Sheppard ran down the corridor, not quite sure where he was going. He stopped around a corner to catch his breath. Experimentally, he lay a hand on the wall. Where? he sent the question to The City. A wave of dizziness came over him, though not as severely as the last time. The City showed him the way. A transport station. Really? As he leaned away from the wall, Teyla appeared.
"Major!" She glared at him.
"Not now, Teyla. Sorry," he said quietly. The dizziness subsided slightly as he walked to the hidden doors ahead.
She sighed. "If you will not go back, I will come with you." She glanced ahead of them; it was a dead end. Where is he going?
Sheppard smiled a little, placing a hand on the wall again. All right with you?
The City sent a musical hum that vibrated down his spine. While not unpleasant, he assumed it was amusement. "Let's go." He waved his hand across a pillar, and a door opened opposite the pillar.
Teyla was amazed. "How did –"
"Ask me no questions, and I'll tell you no lies," he said, giving her a wistful smile. They stepped inside, and he waved his hand across the panel on the back wall. The long-dormant panel winked to life and the doors closed. All at once, Teyla and The City demanded his attention. Sheppard staggered back, steadying himself. "One at a time, please."
Teyla stopped mid-sentence. One at a time? She looked closely at his face. His eyes were closed, and he looked pale and tired. He was also mumbling to himself. Is this what a lack of sleep does to these people of Earth?
Sheppard felt the weight of her gaze. He passed a shaky hand over his face. "This has got to get easier," he said to no one in particular. Opening his eyes, he stepped slowly out of the chamber, squeezing through half-opened doors. Looking around him, he smiled at the hanging seaweed and barnacle-type creatures clinging to the walls. Despite the chilled air, he felt a warmth spread over him. He was suddenly homesick. Taking a deep breath, he took a step forward. "Ouch!" Looking down at his foot, he realized what was missing. He smiled sheepishly at Teyla. "Guess I shoulda put on my boots."
They walked a bit further, picking their way through the ankle-deep water covering the floor of the corridor. The major was quiet, occasionally laying a hand on a wall. He seemed to be listening for something... Can he–
"Major Sheppard?" Teyla said tentitively.
"Yes?" he answered distantly.
"You can feel this city, can't you?"
Sheppard tried to give her his best look of disbelief. "That would be weird, wouldn't it?" He laughed nervously. "Ah. Here we are." He lay his hand near the encrusted door. "You may want to stand back."
Teyla did as she was bade, and stepped aside. What was going on?
The doors hesitantly slid open. Water came whooshing through the doors. The stench of decaying sea life and brine was intense. The major had a look of wonder on his face, taking years off his countenance.
The room looked like another lab of some sort, but it had a few blinking lights. Sheppard carefully stepped inside; the water was now over the ankles. There was a fine settlement of silt and sand covering the floor. How long had this place been under water? He made a bee-line for a console along the far wall. Waving his hand across the wall, he finally rested his hand on a control pad on the console. A dim overhead display winked on, illuminating the frown on his face. He gave a firm nod, and turned to Teyla. "Help me." Sheppard began ripping down the decaying plants that had attached themselves to the walls and control panels.
As a result, the room's dim light brightened, and the overhead display stabilized and disappeared. Sheppard lay a hand on the console, breathless. "There. Do ya feel better now?" he asked aloud before he could stop himself. Behind his tired eyes, Teyla could see a sparkle of amusement. He shivered slightly, turning towards the door. "Let's go."
She watched in amazement as he picked his way around seashells and jagged barnacles. How did he know? They entered the transport; he leaned heavily against the wall. The lines of exhaustion had etched themselves into his smooth face once more. As quickly as they closed, the doors opened again, allowing them to leave.
Major Sheppard stepped out, swaying greatly; all his energy had left him. Teyla caught his arm, placing it around her shoulders. "Come now, John."
"Wha–? Where we goin'?" he slurred.
Teyla made a decision. She would return him to his quarters, then call Dr. Beckett. Half-carrying, half-dragging the major to his quarters, she heard him breathe a sigh of relief when they gained his small room. She dumped him onto his bed; he hit the pillow with a grunt. Even though he was damp, she thought it was best he sleep as much as possible. Before she pulled the blanket over him, she heard light snores coming from the sleeping man.
She left the room as quietly as she could, heading for the infirmary. "Doctor Beckett?" she said quietly when she arrived.
"Ah, Teyla! Did ye catch him?" He seemed highly amused.
Hesitating, she opened her mouth then closed it.
"Where is he?" Beckett couldn't help feeling exasperated. That kid is gonna break one day, he thought.
"He is asleep in his quarters."
Beckett crossed his arms thought fully. "Well at least –"
Suddenly, the lights wavered, then stabilized. Rodney McKay popped up from behind a console, looking up. He touched his headset. "McKay to Grodin. What just happened?"
"There was a power spike. Atlantis just got an eight percent energy increase."
There was a hesitation. "Sorry? We thought you had something to do with it, Rodney."
"I'm nowhere near the conduits. Actually, I haven't touched anything."
"I believe Major Sheppard may have had something to do with that," Teyla said quietly.
"What? Did he touch something?" Exasperation was creeping into McKay's voice. Exploring the city had proved interesting, annoying, and frustrating. Sheppard knew it irked Rodney every time things would only work for the descendant. But on the last exploratory trip, the major was irritable and jumpy and looked just plain exhausted. One room nearly sent Sheppard running; he backed quickly out of it as soon as they entered. McKay shook his head and returned his attention to his laptop.
Before Teyla could say anything, Beckett drew her towards his office. "Why don't we check on our fair major." Grabbing his bag once again, he gestured for Teyla to lead the way back to the major's quarters.
They found Major Sheppard still sleeping soundly, tangled in his sheets and blanket. One dirty foot dangled off the bed, lightweight pants damp to the knee. Beckett threw a questioning glance at Teyla. She told him the whole story. By the end, he seemed more skeptical than when she began. Beckett reached over, untangled the blanket and tucked the major in after the sleeping man turned slowly over. Laying the back of his hand on the major's cheek, Beckett frowned. "A little warm, but he should be right as rain when he wakes up." Straightening, he checked his watch. "We'll come back later if he doesn't see us first, huh?"
As they left the room, Teyla took one last look at the sleeping man. His eyes were slits; she thought she saw him wink at her. The lights dimmed and the door whispered shut behind her. She smiled to herself and followed Beckett to the commisary.
Thanks for reading! This is my first fanfic. Feedback would be appreciated! I need a beta!