Disclaimer: Do I really have to, mom?
Gener: Gen, Episode Related, minor Angst
Warnings: Spoilers for Season 3's M&MM!
Notes: I wrote it for a prompt on my Big Damn Table (046: Broken), and wanted to do something not so typical with it. I didn't go after the expected H/C slant, but did this instead. Hope you enjoy it anyway.

-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-

Prompt: 046 - Broken

Sunlight was streaming through the windows, filling the room with a false gold light tinted with shades of blue and green. Solid patterns were scattered about on the floor, shifting only with the movement of the sunlight through the window. It was an image John thought should be accompanied with a sort of sad, mournful music. Because the patterns of light were not joyful or playful. They did not shift in an unpredictable mould.

They were broken shards of light.

Glancing around the lounge, John checked to see if they were ready to begin. They had been forced to move their meeting place from the typical conference room to the lounge after the blackout. Conserving energy. They had to take the first steps somewhere because they were worse off now than they had been the first year here. And looking around at those gathered, John thought a stranger could pick out the survivors of that first year just by the expression on their faces.

Because they knew they were screwed. They knew what they were going to face. They knew what hardships lay before them. The others didn't. Oh, they understood that Atlantis was now completely defenceless. That she was beyond crippled until they could get their hands on another ZPM or another - equally powerful - power source. And that they didn't have that much luck hanging on to the ZPMs that they managed to find.

"I have no idea where to begin," Elizabeth finally announced. And there was something that sounded almost like defeat in her voice. "We have a depleted ZPM and the generators that we still have won't last that long with the way we have been consuming power - not with our population at its current size."

"The Daedalus is bringing more personnel when they get here," Rodney pointed out. "The SGC already had the contracts signed and people waiting for the boat. I don't know what we are going to do with all those people. We can't take them. And we can't tell them how bad it really is."

Rodney looked tired, John noted. Like he hadn't been sleeping well the last few days. John already knew that to be true. He lost count of the number of times he'd woken up to an empty bed, or had come home to one.

Rubbing her face, Elizabeth said behind her hands, "We need to focus on the problems we're facing right now. We'll have to leave the Daedalus problems until they get here." Pushing herself forward, she picked up her palm and scrolled through a list. They'd all sent her one. "How bad is the power situation right now?" she asked.

Zelenka was the one to answer, in the tired voice that matched Rodney's face. "Is much worse than first year," he told them. "We have double population and half the power. Of the generators we brought with us, we still have four. But they will not last long if we do not cut power consumption dramatically."

Nodding Elizabeth asked, "Alright. Suggestions?"

Licking his lips, John followed the straight line of a piece of blue light that cut across the table in the center of their gathering. It bisected the table almost at its middle point, leaving half the table shaded in blue and the other half on gold. "We can downsize the quarters," John said finally. When he glanced back up he could see their confusion. "We found the large rooms a couple of floors above the areas we're currently using. They wouldn't need as much power if we give up some of our personal space and start bunking together. Less rooms to heat and cool, less places to pump treated water to. That and they get more natural light."

"We can move the social science department," Rodney added. "Reducing the number of labs we have open and operating will help."

Elizabeth stared at him for a moment. Everyone did. "But which labs stay open, Rodney? Who will decide that?"

"Radek and I will," Rodney told them, his chin jutting forward. "We'll review the experiments and work being done, then make the selection from there. We can't access much of the database now without the ZedPM. Social sciences would be better put to use either translating what we already have available so we know where to keep looking, or working with the Pegasus populations either on the mainland or possibly off world on safe planets.

"It'll cut down on the number of mouths we have to feed and how many rooms we have to provide power for. With fewer labs open, we'll be significantly cutting back on the power that we do use." Rodney glanced at them all. John watched as a rose tinted shard of light filtered across Rodney's face and throat when he moved his head. "We'll have to cut back on city exploration too."

Elizabeth nodded and added the suggestions to the list she already had growing on her palm. "So we start getting people to bunk together. They'll still have their own bedrooms, but will have to share a bathroom with a roommate, and possibly some living space. That will cut down on the number of recreational rooms we have to power. Prioritizing the research being done in the labs, to cut the number of labs used." Looking up she added to no one in particular, "We could ask some people if they might want to relocate to the mainland."

It was Teyla who responded first, sitting forward, hands resting on her thighs. "My people would be happy to take in some of the city's inhabitants, should they wish to relocate. There is much work that still must be done for the harvests. The added numbers would bring those harvests in sooner rather than later."

Lorne was nodding now, flicking a quick glance to John before he added his own comments. "With the reduced space we need to patrol and the added strain on the power supply, we can always ship some of the Marines out to the mainland on a rotational basis to help out. It'll give them something to do instead of twiddling their thumbs. They'll still be within easy distance from Atlantis, and we can always have a regular rotation of pilots on the mainland with a few 'jumpers in case there is an emergency in the city."

John was nodding but not commenting, he was once again captured by the patterns of light. They were sliding across the room. Elizabeth was sitting mostly in shadows now, instead of being haloed by golden light. Teyla was cut by blues and greens. Rodney was reflected in a sort of pure white fragment. Carson was tinted in a rainbow of uneven colours. Looking down at his own hands he noted they were now slashed by the crimson dyed light.

"The infirmary can't do with less power," Carson tossed in. "We can cut back on the experiments and research we're doing with the database, but we can't stop all the research."

Even Rodney was agreeing with that, nodding his head. "If we reduce the space we occupy, you guys should still be able to retain three quarters of your current power usage." Rodney shook his head. "We're going to be living by candle light at this rate," he muttered. "I should have cut the power before the ZedPM was drained."

"No one is blaming you, lad," Carson told him.

"We aren't," Elizabeth agreed. "You did the right thing. And I have to hope that if the situation were reversed those in the other reality would have done the same thing to save you."

Pushing forward Elizabeth went on to the next topic. "Supplies," she told them. And the conversation began again. Because using the Stargate would drain more power, but it was a necessary drain if they were going to keep eating. They had to start up the connections they had made in the first year. Renew alliances and trade agreements. Because without a constant connection to Earth they had no way to send an updated shopping list home.

They didn't talk about the one thing that would have saved them even more power - sending people back to Earth. They didn't want to consider the possibility that they would have to abandon Atlantis. Atlantis was home now. This was where they belonged - every single one of them.

John turned his attention back to the patterns of light. Because they were in the same space they had been in the first year. They were broken, shattered, scattered across the floor fumbling for something solid to grasp onto and pull themselves back together.

At that moment they were fragmented.

Just like the broken patterns of mournful light on the floor.