Title: Strangers in Paradise Author: Karen Fandoms: Stargate Atlantis/ Highlander: the Series Rating: PG, PG-13 Disclaimer: SG Atlantis belongs to Glasner/Wright Productions, and Highlander: the Series belongs to Panzer/Davis Productions; they are not mine. The characters and situations are only 'borrowed ' for entertainment purposes.

"Strangers in Paradise" by Karen

'It's strange, really, when he stops to think about it.'

Heading into the Pegasus Galaxy had seemed like the greatest adventure imaginable. Not only were all of the recruits and volunteers going to be pioneers in exploration and applications of the Star Gate program, they were also being given the opportunity to explore an whole another galaxy than our own.

Sure, they knew it was going to be a one-way trip but Colonel John Sheppard was okay with that, although he understands that for the many men and women here, it might be a wrench to leave behind friends and family back on the Earth-side of the Gate.

It's not the Wraith that concerns him at this precise moment, because Dr. Weir just gave a base-wide public address: It's sobering news. In the aftermath of a long-drawn out war with an alien race known as the Ori, the Stargate Command at the Cheyenne Mountain is no more. Not to mention, the Earth has also been blown up into its component parts.

John Sheppard had just never imagined that any of the alien baddies that they've gone up against would ever have that kind of firepower, or the chance and will to use it against their enemies.

Still, it's happened.

The Ori had demolished central command, presumably all hands lost. "Scratch that, all hands that they weren't able to send through the Gate that is"

John Sheppard glanced around at the crowded infirmary, trying to stay out of the way and sliding into motion whenever Dr. Carson Beckett or his staff instructed him to fetch a medical device, or wheel in gurneys of injured patients, or run computer checks. It's busy work and it kept his mind on the whole Earth that was in no longer where it is supposed to be.

The Earth and their home galaxy exploded, and without asking Weir and Cavanaugh for the exact details, he still can't quite wrap his mind around the idea of his home. It was there one minute, always with the possibility that when their mission in the Pegasus Galaxy is complete, they will have a home to go back to.

He recalled the organized chaos that just came to an end over forty-eight hours ago. He could still recall hearing about how General Jack O'Neill and Major Samantha Carter coordinated the taxing job of transporting as many people and through the gate as that they possibly could. That was shortly before the explosions, smoke, and fire had wiped out the power supply to the gate, and everything had faded to black.

The refugees and base personnel are understandably quite dazed and confused, and he doesn't blame them. Teyla came by and tapped him on the shoulder.

John nodded in acknowledgement. He had to get moving, instead of sitting in corner like a useless lump. Sheppard stood up, squared his shoulders and gave her one of his patented sure-fire winning smile;, the spring back in his step. The very picture of a confident and reassuring leader. He has to be, not just for her sake, but everyone else that depends on him.

In the back of his mind Sheppard decides that he will save the wallowing when they run out of things to do, until then it will have to wait.

Elsewhere One of the patients that Dr. Beckett had given up as a lost cause after his and his team's best efforts, stirred underneath the white plastic sheet that had been thrown over him.

His memories of the past seventy-two hours are jumbled at best and he can't say for sure if the memories that are reliable and that do make any sense, are ones that belong to him or to the Immortal that he just bested in a fight. The Quickening did strange things to one's mental fortitude not to mention one's body and mind. Richie Ryan has lost many a leather jacket to the aftermath of an Immortal Quickening. He and lightning have never made that great a mix; life can be funny that way.

It is just another reminder, not that he needed many more, that even being an Immortal means more than a few drawbacks, not to mention, ironies.

When he had recovered sufficiently to throw off the sheet, sit up in the bed he realized that he was in a medical facility. It fazed him only to the point that if he survived the fight with another Immortal he should not be the one relegated to the place for the deceased.

Richie raised himself to a sitting position and raises his arms to feel the back of his neck, checking to make sure that his head is still quite firmly attached to the rest of his body.

Reassured on that count Richie blinked and tried to gett a better idea of his immediate surroundings. There were lots of people, all scurrying about in an apparent organized chaos, too busy to notice that one of the 'causalities, is not as dead as they thought.

By his lights and experiences it was probably better that way, it got him out of the inevitable awkward scnees and having to answer a lot of well-meaning but prying questions. about not being dead.

Still as Richie glanced down at his mostly nude form covered by the white plastic sheet he came to the realization that getting out of here inconspicuously and without a lot of undue fuss just might be harder than he thought.

Out of the corner of his eye Richie noticed that a tall, attractive woman was watching him with an intent and curious look in her dark eyes, and standing beside her, wearing what appeared to be some kind of military uniform, is an equally intent and commanding looking man. He had the flag of the United States on his shoulder of the uniform, that it meant anything, not to him, and not now.

Richie tried to appear nonchalant and friendly, but his pale skin betrayed his embarrassment at sitting in the middle of a medical ward dressed in nothing but his skivves. Richie briefly considered reaching down and picking up the discarded sheet.
The woman makes a hand signal to the military officer and they approach his bed.

She did not say anything right away, but only stood a few feet as she stared directly into his own blue eyes.

Richie did not know what to make of this attention, nor does he know exactly what she is looking for. The military officer answers both of those questions, by grabbing him by his shoulders, yanking him forward and asking point blank: "Those blue eyes have seen more than someone your age should have any right to, so tell me, right now. Who are you? What are you doing here"

Richie pulled back from both the questioning and the hold the other man had on his shoulders, breaking free long enough to dart an indignant look at the officer. In the back of his mind, Richie wondered how this military officer could pick up on the 'vibe' given off by Immortals. Sure, he's not the oldest or most experienced among the long-lived race but he'd been around the block long enough too at least keep himself intact. He also had had the benefit of being Duncan MacLeod's student. Still, the fact that Sheppard senses that there more to him than what appears on the surface, frozen at somewhere in his late-twenties, is more than a bit disconcerting.

"I'd be more than happy to answer your questions, it's just better if you told me who you are first."

"Lt Colonel John Sheppard." He turned his head, to look around at the slowly clearing medical ward and then at the woman standing beside him. "This is Teyla. Now, do you want to try that again?"

"Ryan, Richie Ryan," "Well, Mr. Ryan, how about answering my second question.

"I don't know"

"Don't know?" Teyla echoed.

"I don't know what I'm doing here, aside from dying from embarrassment and answering questions. Where are my clothes"

Teyla went over to a cupboard, opened it and took out a folded pile of nondescript charcoal black pants and a loose short-sleeved shirt and then threw the clothes to him with a brusque, "here'. Richie caught the bundle and quickly put them on. Feeling a bit better about being dressed he turned his attention back to Sheppard and Teyla.

"Feel better?" Sheppard asked.

"Much, thanks."

"Now, let's try this again," Sheppard said, "It's been a long, exhausting day, and I don't see it ending any time soon, when we're done here, I've got a date with my pillow. So, did Ford send you to spy on us?"

"I don't know anyone named Ford, except for the ex-president of the United States. Richie tried for the glib reply, figuring it would better than nothing at all.

"Cute. Are you aware that the United States, in fact the entire world just went 'boom' as in it's gone?" Sheppard seemed distracted and a little angry, but Richie could not tell if he was angry at the situation, angry with him for his devil-may-care attitude or just angry in general.

"You have got to be kidding me!" Richie exclaimed, bolting up from his seated position on the bed. "Come on, man, that's a sick joke, the world is still right where I left it when I woke up. It can't be gone. It just can't be gone."

"Well, I assure you it is. It would be ridiculous and irrational of me to place the blame for something like that on a kid your age, and I don't mean to come down on you like a drill sergeant in boot camp." Sheppard shrugged. "I'm just have a hard time dealing with the situation. "Colonel Sheppard, would you like me take over from here?" Teyla asked.

"Sure," Sheppard replied.

"Ryan, what is the last thing you do remember?"

"I feel like I'm the star of some bizarre episode of this is your life meets the twilight zone,⌠ Richie replied, "Okay, for the sake of argument, let's say the earth really is gone, how can we be here, having this conversation"

"Well, it's because we're no longer on the Earth, we're in another galaxy."

"Yeah, one where everyone is completely insane?" Richie sighed, shuffled his feet on the floor and looked around, when he noticed for the first time that while the uniforms of the people in the ward were for the most part quite similar; many wore the colors of their home country flag colors on their lapels. "Refugees"

"No, not so much. We're in the Pegasus Galaxy, and I must say, you are quite lucid and rational for one of the refugees brought over from the Earth side before your world was destroyed." Teyla replied. "The shock of the transition would explain why you have no memory of the disaster".

"Temporary amnesia," Richie shook his head. "That's comforting, I think"

"I should get Doctor Beckkett, when he has a free moment, to check you for head trauma," Teyla remarked. "Good idea," Richie replied, not knowing what else to say to that, "Aside from that, I feel fine, can I live the critical wounded ward, if only to make room for another patient that really needs to be here"

"I see no harm in that," Teyla smiled.

"Great. Excellent, in fact." So, what did you have in mind to keep me occupied"

"If you feel you are up to some physical exertion," Teyla winked at him. "Might I suggest sparring practice." She added this time with an air of appraisal at his short but stocky frame which was now covered by the charcoal sweats pants and shirt.

"Now, that, would certainly keep me occupied." "Indeed." He likes you, you know?"

"He"

"Colonel Sheppard." Teyla smiled. "There is something, I can not explain exactly, but you remind him of an old friend that is no longer here."

"Really. Could have fooled me." Riche shrugged. "I thought he was pretty convincing on the tough military guy act." That old friend wasn't named Ford, something or other, by any chance.

"Indeed," Teyla replied. "Sheppard just erred on the side of caution. It's a delicate situation we are facing at the moment. We will need to treat and brief all refugees. In the meantime please come with me to the training rooms."

"Sure," Richie replied, standing up and stretching. "But what happens after that, I mean with all the refugees?"

"It is a big city. I am certain Doctor Weir, and the others will find something to meet both the needs and resources of all those brought over as well as something that will be an equitable solution to those already stationed at the Pegasus Base."

"Not that I'm interested, but just how many people are we talking about here?"

"Just over six hundred"

"I don't know who Doctor Weir is, but that's gotta be an administrative nightmare, I wish him, or her, good luck with that." Richie whistled, letting out his breath and his tension.

"Well, then, shall we?" Teyla invited.

"I think we shall," Richie smiled. "You really think he likes me"

"Sheppard does not make a habit of drilling all new comers, but he thinks that you are different, and that makes him interested in you." Teyla replied leading the way down the aisles between the stations and the various beds nodding in acknowledge to the apparent senior doctor on staff.

Then she led the way through a door out into a long, winding corridors. "Whether or not this sudden interest in you is a good or a bad thing. Well," Teyla shrugged and titled her head to one side, thinking over the matter, "as I think you say, only time will tell."