Rodney glanced around the Daedalus' bay. He hated this place, now. After several weeks and untold jumps, they were out of food and out of options. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Those thoughts were counter-productive. He needed to be calm, and he needed to find that internal peaceful place.
He needed wide blue skies, which were in terribly short supply on this ship, hanging as she was, dead in space.
"All right, Rodney. You ready?" John strode in, tired and gaunt but still in fighting spirit. It was a truth about John that Rodney had only realised on this unexpected trip with its many hours of contemplation time. John could take damned near anything, as long as his team was still with him.
"No," he answered honestly.
"Great," John nodded and tapped his radio. "Teyla, Ronon? We're ready to go."
"We're here, John." Teyla shot him a strained smile as she eased past him to take her position on the floor. Ronon followed silently, even more haggard than John. He sat down on the deck before speaking.
"You really think this will work, Sheppard?"
"You got a better idea?" John sat down, then stretched out full length. "I say we try this, if it works, great, if not, we aren't any worse off than before."
"Oh, thanks. That really helps set the mood." Rodney sat down with an irritated huff, setting the tablet beside him and bracing his shoulders against the bulkhead. He looked at the three expectant faces of his team and sighed again. "Relax," he said. "I've turned down the lights and the environmentals. The cold will help slow our body processes."
Ronon grunted but shifted until his coat was more comfortably arranged beneath him, and open across his chest. "At least if the cold gets us we'll die comfortable," he muttered.
"I thought you only wanted to go out fighting," John smirked and wriggled a little, until he apparently found a degree of comfort. He closed his eyes.
"Can I ascend while I'm fighting?" Ronon sounded intrigued.
"No," Teyla told him firmly. Her eyes were closed and her face serene as she focussed on sinking into her medidative state.
"Then this is as good as it gets." Ronon straightened his shoulders a little and relaxed with a deep breath.
Rodney checked his readouts. They were all clearly awake and aware, but their numbers were falling as they each began to fall into the calm state that they hoped would lead one of them to ascend.
For himself, Rodney was betting on Teyla to do it. Of all of them, she had the best head start, with her medidation experience and innate spirituality. She really was the most...
"Right!" Rodney leaned back and closed his eyes, trying to avoid sneaking a peek at the screen. "Wide blue skies," he said out loud, and concentrated on releasing his burdens into the heavens. The sound of the deep breathing of his team around him was incredibly comforting, and he let his own respirations change to match theirs.
Without meaning to, he fell asleep.
He awoke in space, floating between the stars and facing an expanse of blackness and light that made his heart swell at its beauty. The vista was so stunning that it took him a moment to realise he was bodiless.
It worked, Rodney. A warm presence nearby wafted closer. He thought it might be Teyla.
It did. He echoed dumbly, aware vaguely of surprise. Who did it?
Dunno, another presence chimed in. Ronon, he figured. Glad it worked. Let's go back now.
It figured as well that Ronon would be the one to keep his eye on the ball. John?
OK, then. Rodney tried to ignore all the secrets of the universe tapping at the edges of his mind. He really, really wanted to look. What was the point of being ascended if he couldn't make use of anything while he was here?
Take us home, Rodney. John said.
Right. Going home. He really, really wanted to go home. He concentrated hard, focussing on drawing together all the elements of inter-dimensional physics he knew, and some he made up, and drew himself a map back to their dimension and time. Going now, he said, gathering his team close and feeling them wrap themselves around him in return. Hold on.
The universe disappeared in a flash of darkness.
"Holy shit, McKay! You did it!" Rodney came awake to hands on his arm, shaking him wildly. "We're back!" He opened his eyes blearily.
"Jesus Christ, I'm naked!" He jerked away from John's hands on his arm and covered himself with his hands.
They were in the middle of the gateroom, with Woolsey, Lorne, and Zelenka staring at them in blank wonder. Lorne regained his composure quickest and gallantly offered Teyla his jacket, which she took with a grateful murmur.
"You're back," Zelenka said, still shocked.
"Indeed. And, naked." Rodney took a long step to Zelenka's side and started physically stripping him. "I forgot that when you de-ascend this happens."
One of the marine team trotted into the gateroom, carrying some blankets. John took one and handed another to Ronon. He tossed the third to Rodney, who let go of the now struggling Zelenka to catch it.
"What happened?" Woolsey found his voice.
"The Daedalus was universe-hopping," John said.
"We were quite trapped," Teyla added.
"There was no food left!" Rodney contributed.
"So we ascended to come home." Ronon shrugged. "I could eat," he said.
"We left our bodies onboard," John said. "As a warning. I hope no one else gets caught."
"You ascended," Woolsey said slowly. "All of you?"
They exchanged quick looks. "I'm pretty sure one of us helped the others," Rodney replied carefully. "But I don't remember enough of it to say."
"And then, you de-ascended and came back here." Woolsey blinked. "I really don't know what to say."
John wrapped the blanket more tightly around his shoulders. "How about, 'welcome home'?" he suggested.
Woolsey smiled. "Indeed," he agreed. "Welcome home."