Disclaimer – I own none of the Stargate franchise.
Okay, I know what you're going to say. And I agree, I really do – another WIP? WTH! But this got into my head and wouldn't leave… so here's the first chapter. It was originally going to be a lot longer, but here seemed like a good place to end it. This story is going to be comprised of lots of short chapters, which should make updating a lot easier than trying to finish my usual long and cumbersome chapters.
Anyway, this story is complete and utter AU, and has no spoilers except for the names of people and very vague references that you will only get if you've seen the episode in question.
Chapter One – Registering
"I swear to God, Rodney – if you spray that thing one more time…"
Rodney McKay froze, his finger poised over the nozzle of a can of insect repellent, and glared at the boy who had spoken, John Sheppard.
"There are bugs," he retorted.
John glared right back at him. "I think the other can you used up twenty minutes ago will stave them off," he said.
Rodney scowled but obediently tucked the can of bug spray back into the side of his rucksack. They continued up the dirt path in silence for a few seconds before Rodney suddenly ducked, trying to avoid a bug that John had no doubt was entirely in his friend's imagination.
"I am so gonna die out here!" Rodney moaned.
John rolled his eyes. "Quit your whining Rodney," he said. "You didn't have to come."
As John knew he would, Rodney exploded. "Yes, yes I did!" He exclaimed. "After you spent two hours going on to my dad about how great summer camp was going to be – you knew he'd send me too!"
John managed to hide his smirk, but only just. It had been a low blow, to do that to his friend, but Rodney had been annoying the hell out of him for two days straight, teasing him about how he'd decided to go to camp. So, John had got even by extolling the virtues of a summer at Lake Atlantis to Mr McKay – as Rodney said, he'd known exactly what the man would do.
It had seemed like a good idea at the time. Now though, in the middle of a wood with just Rodney and his 40 litres of bug spray for company, John wasn't so sure.
The chauffeur had dropped John and Rodney off at the entrance to Lake Atlantis Summer Camp for Boys, leaving them to hike up the dirt road with their belongings. John was fine – he had a large duffel bag that could be carried on his back – but Rodney had not only a large duffel, but two smaller rucksacks and a huge sports equipment bag that John knew was filled with anything but. After about ten metres, John had known that leaving Rodney to attempt to carry all of his own luggage was going to get them nowhere, so John had one of his rucksacks on one shoulder and was carrying one handle of the sports bag. In this way they made their way slowly up the road, Rodney breathing heavily and complaining in a low voice that John ignored. Luckily, they only had to jump out of the way of a car once.
It took them about half an hour to get to the end of the road, and by then even John was out of breath. It ended very suddenly – they turned a corner and suddenly there was a small car park in front of them, and beyond that, the lake. The boys immediately set down the sports bag, sighing with relief.
Atlantis Lake, John knew, was shaped kind of like a peanut, and the boys' camp was at one end of it, so the lake was much longer than it was wide from their perspective. The girls' camp was set at the other end of the lake, and hidden from view by the peninsula of wooded land on the left.
Next to the car park, on their right, was a large collection of log cabins. They were all quite small, though one huge cabin dominated the landscape, set in the middle of the smaller ones.
John elbowed Rodney and nodded to the large cabin. "Come on, let's go register," he said.
Rodney didn't look happy about picking up the bag again, and John bit his tongue to stop himself telling him that it was his own stupid fault for packing so much. There was very little point in telling him he had himself to blame. It never worked with Rodney.
There were more people around now – boys from the age of fourteen upwards were milling around, dragging bags into cabins and trying to shake off their tearful parents.
The chauffeur had barely nodded to John and Rodney.
John dumped his bag in a pile next to the cabin door, but Rodney refused to be parted from any of his belongings, so John swung the sports bag onto his shoulder and the two of them walked in. It was a long, low hall with two huge tables, benches running along either side of them. Another, smaller table was at the other end of the hall, and a small group was gathered around it. John and Rodney went and joined the short queue.
When they reached the table, they found two men sitting behind stacks of papers. One of them, a middle-aged man with hardly any hair, was looking pretty harassed. The other, a slightly younger black man (also with no hair), was leaning back in his chair, seemingly completely at ease. They were both wearing black Lake Atlantis t-shirts, with the name of the camp and the emblem (a flying horse in a kind of triangle) on them.
"Hi and welcome to Lake Atlantis," said the second man, smiling at them both. "I'm your host, Abe Ellis, and this is my lovely assistant, the very talented Steve Caldwell. Let's play our game."
John grinned, liking the man at once.
Caldwell rolled his eyes. "Names?" He asked.
"John Sheppard and Rodney McKay," answered John.
Caldwell scanned a list on a clipboard. "Sheppard… you're in cabin 23," he said. "And McKay… cabin 19."
"We're not together?" McKay asked, sounding surprised. John wasn't that surprised; he knew that most camps arranged accommodation randomly. But poor Rodney sounded pretty worried, and for a moment John wished that they were sharing a cabin.
Only for a moment though.
"No, you're not – don't worry though, you'll see plenty of each other during the day," said Caldwell.
"Dinner and orientation is in an hour – until then, just get settled down into your cabins and unwind," said Caldwell.
John nodded, and turned to the exit. "Come on, Rodney, let's go find our –"
"But – isn't there any way we can move someone and let us – "
John couldn't believe what he was hearing, and he was starting to get embarrassed now. "Drop it Rodney," he said firmly.
Rodney rounded on him then. "Look, it's your fault that I'm stuck in this hellhole for the next two months – the least you can do is prevent me getting stuck with some stupid jock asshead who – "
"That's enough!" Ellis rose to his feet so quickly John hadn't even seen him move, and the look on his face had changed from friendly and relaxed to ferocious. John took a step back, but Rodney was either too annoyed or too dumb to realise he was in trouble.
"Rooms are allocated randomly at Lake Atlantis and we are not prone to changing accommodation arrangements on the whims of sixteen-year-old boys," said Ellis, glaring at Rodney.
John shook his head silently. Don't say it, don't say it…
"I'm seventeen," said Rodney, glaring right back.
You just had to say it, didn't you?
"Act like it," barked Ellis.
Rodney stood his ground, glaring at Ellis, and John had to grab him by the elbow and physically drag him away to get him to move. Luckily they had been the only people in the cabin except Ellis and Caldwell, and no one else had witnessed Rodney's little outburst.
"Can you believe that guy?" Rodney said indignantly as soon as they were out of earshot.
John rolled his eyes. "You did call his camp a hellhole," he said, trying to be reasonable. He thought that Ellis may have overreacted a bit, but then Rodney hadn't been a bundle of fun either.
John retrieved his bag and he and Rodney wandered off in search of their cabins. There didn't seem to be any logical order as to how the cabins were set out – the large cabin was in the middle, and the rest just kind of spread out around it. Each cabin was the same – raised a little on stilts a couple of feet high and with wooden steps leading up to the front door, which were clearly marked with bright blue numbers. They quickly found cabin 19, and John could see his cabin about twenty feet away.
He set down Rodney's bags. "Okay, I'll see you in an hour then," he said. Rodney just scowled and John, not taking it personally, patted him on the shoulder and strode away.
John headed straight for his cabin, wondering what his roommate would be like. Rodney's tirade had got him thinking – because you only shared with one person, it would make the summer pretty crap if you didn't get on with them. Maybe Rodney had the right idea, wanting to share – better the devil you know, after all.
But there was no point thinking like that, and John jumped up the front steps of cabin 23 determined to make the most of whatever situation presented itself this summer.
TBC – next up, John meets his roomie.