Disclaimer: Stargate: Atlantis and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story was created for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s), not me. Thank you to the amazing writers, producers, actors, crew and directors who bring it to life.
Category/Rating: GEN/T –action, angst, h/c
Characters: Everyone, but Beckett, McKay and Sheppard pretty much dominate.
Status/Parts: WIP. Probably about 20 chapters (I've written through 17)
Spoilers: Um...up through GUP
Acknowledgement: NT, for being my beta extraordinaire.

A/N: For reasons to become obvious, this needs to take place in Season 2, say around the same time that they discover the Tower. So, before Michael, Coup d'Etat and Allies, but after GUP, Hive and Epiphany. You will see why fairly quickly. The only reason I'm posting now (i.e. before I've finished) is because I wanted to post before Season 3 starts. (Soon! WHOOO!)

Description: Four refugees from a culled world bring some unexpected trouble to Atlantis, and no one avoids the fallout.



"You mean, there really is such a thing as kleptomania?" Rodney asked, leaning forward in his chair, eyebrows raised so high on his forehead it looked almost painful. Across from him, Weir rolled her eyes a little, and turned her head to where Kate Heightmeyer was sitting on the bench against the wall in Weir's office. Standing between McKay and Kate, arms crossed loosely over his chest, Sheppard turned his head to regard the psychiatrist.

"Yes," Kate replied, managing to keep her (sort of freakish, in Sheppard's opinion) level of calm even in front of McKay. "It exists."

"I mean," Rodney glanced up at Sheppard, "I always sort of thought it was a movie thing, you know? Movies, mystery books, the occasional bad TV show..." The colonel gave a tiny smile at that.

"Doctor McKay," Kate interrupted, still calm, though there was a tiny twitch at the corner of one eye, "believe me, it's real. It's a disease just like any other dis—"

"But, I don't really get it," McKay continued, his face a study in total disbelief. "I mean, she steals little things, because she can't help herself, like pens? Why pens?"

"She also took papers," Sheppard noted.

"Yes, but only, like, a random sheet in the middle of a pile. Weird."

Kate emitted a small sigh, "I grant you, Doctor McKay, it can seem odd, but—"

"And paper clips? Do you know she came up to my lab this morning and dumped two full handfuls of paperclips on my desk, apologizing profusely for having taken them? And not from me, I might add. Paperclips are the one thing I'm pretty sure I didn't need two fistfuls of in order to make my day complete. I work on laptops, for goodness sake! And paperclips and laptops aren't really simpatico, if you get my mean—"

"Rodney," Weir snapped, her voice like a whiplash, "stop talking."

McKay pressed his lips together, attempting to look both slightly sheepish and really annoyed at the same time. It really was a uniquely McKay look.

"Thank you, Doctor Weir," Kate said, acknowledging the other woman with a small nod. "As I was saying, Doctor Bryce's kleptomania was something she's managed to control effectively for a long time. However, she admitted to me recently that it's gotten somewhat beyond her ability to..." she shook her head slightly, seeking the right words, "stay on top of. She has..." Kate paused again, her hands lifting off her lap as she once again looked for the right words, and her fingers moved.

"A bad case of sticky fingers?" McKay offered helpfully, his expression innocent. Sheppard looked up at the ceiling, jaw firmly clenched to stop himself laughing out loud.

"Rodney," Elizabeth sighed, putting all her exasperation into the name. McKay shrugged.

"I was going to say," Kate said tightly, "that she has expressed a desire to return home."

"Oh," Elizabeth said sadly, understanding now the other woman's reticence. "I was not aware it had gotten so bad."

"The stress of being here, I think, has augmented her symptoms."

"Hell yes, they're augmented!" Rodney was nodding emphatically. "And I didn't even tell you about the pastel mini post it notes. Radek's desk looked like the Easter Bunny had vomited—"

"Rodney!" Elizabeth gave him a sharp look, "Please. And you!" Her eyes flew up, nailing Sheppard who was rocking back on his heels and biting his lower lip, still fighting his laughter. "Stop encouraging him!"

"What?" The colonel looked suitably shocked, his arms opening up wide. "Encouraging him? I'm not doing anything!"

"You're enjoying it too much, and he knows it. Both of you, behave. Especially you, Rodney." She glared at the scientist. "I would have thought you'd be more concerned that a member of your team is asking to leave. Doctor Bryce was your choice, if I recall."

"Yes, because she looked great on paper. Of course," Rodney shrugged, "she might have stolen the paper in her file that mentioned the kleptomania. After all, if it was in the middle..."

That was all it took—Sheppard burst out laughing, unable to help himself. Rodney grinned, looking oddly triumphant.

"Out! Both of you!" Elizabeth was up out of her chair, pointing towards the door. "Now!"

Sheppard complied immediately, still laughing. Rodney stood up a moment later, the half smile still on his face.

"I am sorry," he tried, "I don't why I—"

"I do," Elizabeth growled. "Thank you for not helping, Rodney. I'll speak with you later about this."

McKay nodded, and turned, following Sheppard out the side door into the corridor. The doors closed abruptly behind him, nearly hitting him in the ass. They were growing much too attuned to Elizabeth's moods.

Still grinning, chuckling softly, Sheppard was leaning against the corridor wall outside, wiping water from his eyes.

"I can't believe you did that," he said.

"I know," McKay nodded, grinning back, not the slightest bit contrite. "Seem to be unable to help myself."

Sheppard laughed some more, shaking his head. "Well, at least the whole thing wasn't more serious. Paperclips and Post It Notes..." He shook his head again, this time more negatively. "God...imagine the damage a real thief could do. "

"Oh please. Real thief? No chance," Rodney shook his head, "Where would they go? It's not like you could get off Atlantis without someone knowing." McKay stuck a thumb in the direction of the transporter. "Food?"

"Yeah, sure." Sheppard's eyes narrowed slightly, still contemplating McKay's point. "And I guess you're right."

"Of course I'm right," Rodney replied, striding away towards the transporter, feeling Sheppard on his heels. "The only way off this City when the Daedalus isn't here is by Gate or Puddle Jumper, neither of which can be used without a lot of people knowing." He waved a hand, already dismissing the conversation. "And even if the Daedalus was here, I don't think Caldwell would be too happy having his ship used as the getaway car." He smiled at his own joke, stepping into the transporter.

Sheppard stepped in with him, hit the pad for the mess hall, then made a show of looking intently around the interior of the transporter, then out at the mess hall when the doors opened again.

McKay watched him curiously. "What are you looking for?"

"Wood," Sheppard replied, stepping out, glancing back at Rodney, "to knock on."


TBC...(and my apologies to the lovely actress who played Bryce in GUP. LOL!)