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Title: Silent Intruders
Author: penguin13tcj
Pairing: Carson /Rodney Lorne/Zelenka /Chuck
Rating: PG for mature themes, mostly implied
Recipient: flubber2kool
Spoilers: none
Summary: Dreams are windows to the soul…but the soul of what? When something goes wrong in Atlantis, can the whole Team figure it out in time?

Action, angst, H/C, drama, friendship, relationship and more: a surprise discovery just for you!

Notes: This is my very first story EVER- please bear that in mind esp. all the spelling and grammar mistakes and I tried to give you as much as I could that you asked for! All mistakes are mine, everything is made up, I own nothing or no one, Happy Holidays !

Many, many thanks to goddess47 for the beta at the very last minute! All remaining mistakes are mine.

The storm had not let up, even a little, in days. The thunder was so loud it made the klaxons seem like twinkle bells and the lightening was so explosive that the entire city lit up.

It was hard enough to sleep on nights like this especially if you had too many things to think about, more like worry about. The long gossamer curtains that ran from the top of the windows to the bottom of the floor…. wait… Curtains in a tent? That couldn't be right.

Something horrible was going to happen, he could feel it in his bones, his breathing was heavy and he was sweating profusely as he tossed and turned and slid deeper into his night terror.

Everything seemed normal enough, his team was sleeping, with some Marine he didn't know taking the first watch. Not being able to sleep, he suited up for the day to come, wait… that wasn't right. What was going on? He was supposed to be up in the control room, not clipping a P-90 to his vest. He looked over and got a reassuring smile and nod from Lorne, who had heard the noise of one of his team awaken. That always made him feel better but still something was amiss.

The rain was relentless and his breathing heavier as he went to get some coffee, they were on a recon mission to find out who was messing around with the gates. The Stargate had been dialing in by itself for a while now, with no HDO or any other kind of identifying signatures. He knew the shield was up since he himself was in charge of the whole gate room. Then what was he doing in the field?

He took a quick walk over to one of the many Stargates on the planet they were investigating.

The swoosh of the gate as it opened, he dove madly for cover as a huge explosion turned everything white and all he could see around him was bodies falling to the ground in slow motion.

"NO!" he screamed as he also fell. He woke up slowly panting hard and with a knot on his head from hitting the side of his bed in the supposed safety of his quarters. He was tangled up in his bedding and his clothes were drenched through. This was the fourth night in a row. He knew he couldn't go back to sleep if he tried. He looked around the room and saw no one but traces of laptops and notes scribbled in Czech were littered about and there was an Atlantis issue jacket on his desk chair with an American flag symbol. His jacket almost identical, only with a Canadian Flag on the sleeve, was hanging on the other side of the chair.

Wading into the bathroom to splash cold water on his face he looked into the mirror. When did he start graying at the temples? He was only 36. The face that looked back had deep black rings under the eyes and an almost jaundiced color to the face. If he stared long enough, he could swear he would see into his own soul. Something was missing, no not missing, wrong. It had been four days now and he managed to keep it to himself. He told no one but each night things got worse.

It had been almost a week since he had been with his partners. One was off world and the other buried in work in the labs. He recalled their scent and the wonderful mixture of accents as things heated up.

He was in the middle enjoying the intense ministrations, without a care in the world.
Arching his back as they teased him, he was like a cat and had no self control. He protested saying it wasn't fair the wicked things they did to him, and each other, as he watched. It took very little to make him happy when he was with his partners. He had not felt bonded to anyone before like this, let alone with two such totally opposite people. He would have settled for the strong hugs and the wonderful things they did with their hands, never mind all the extras -- he wasn't about to complain. Each of the three were so intense with love and admiration for the other, they always seemed to find their release at the same time -- another thing that had never happened in his entire life. He never had any relationship like this on Earth, and never expected one there, let alone in another Galaxy, cut off from everything and everyone he knew.

Sighing at the memory and the extreme longing, almost hurt just remembering what they had and what he was missing this past week. This was the longest they had been away from each other. Usually it was only one that didn't come home for whatever reason but never two at the same time.

He still had three hours before he had to be on duty so he figured he would get dressed and go for a walk. He walked out of his room, checking one last time that no one was really there, and headed to the nearest transporter. Surprisingly for that time of the night – or was it early morning -- there were a lot of people about. The weekly woman's poker game must have just gotten out.

"Hey, Chuck! How are you?" Katie Brown asked politely.

He mumbled something incoherent and kept walking, unlike him at all. He did not feel well and he was never impolite no matter what.

That alerted the botanist to stop and ask again, "Chuck, is everything okay?" Katie turned to the small Japanese scientist that had stopped with her, both looking very concerned.

He laughed a bit realizing he must have seemed rude, "Sorry ladies," he smiled, "bad dream and now I can't get back to sleep. I have an awful headache, too!"

"Maybe go see Doctor Beckett?" suggested a tiny voice from Miko Kusinagi, the small Japanese lady with long black silk hair and huge glasses that suited her tiny face, making her look like a timid owl.

"Thanks," he patted both of them on the shoulder, with sincere appreciation, "I'm just going to get some coffee for now, but thanks!"

He went to the control room and relieved the tech on duty two hours early because he was just too wired to do anything else.

***

There was a huge meeting that morning -- something big was definitely going on. All the department heads and their seconds, minus Major Lorne who had been off world with his team on a weekly mission, were in the conference room with Dr. Elizabeth Weir, leader of the expedition.

All of Atlantis was curious, everyone walking by either was looking up or over at the big doors of the conference room. It was said even Colonel Caldwell was there. That couldn't be good.

Returning to his console, Chuck looked perplexed. Why were those lights blinking when there were no warning bells? He dialed up his console trying to adjust the problem thinking it was just a glitch.

From somewhere behind him he heard two more techs mumbling about the same thing.

"Okay. This can't be a coincidence, maybe we better get Dr Z. out of the conference for a minute."

No one really liked the idea of interrupting any meetings but it was rare when the heads of departments and their seconds were all tied up in a meeting together, which made them even more reluctant to disturb the discussion.

Before they had a chance to decide, the gate started to dial up. No one was near those controls.

"What the hell?" Chuck ran his hands through his hair, this was too much like his nightmares. He was too tired to see straight and now was confused. No sooner had he said this then he noticed that the meeting was letting out.

"Who's dialing the gate?" Dr. Weir walked quickly to the gate tech's console.

"No one ma'am, it just started dialing on its own," Chuck explained.

"Dialing on its own? Are you crazy? Get out of the way," pushed a snapping Rodney McKay, coffee in one hand, computer in the other.

"It's true Doctor McKay, we had these weird readings on all three consoles just before it happened," an older German man named Cortz, replied from his station.

"Lights too, just started blinking!" the third tech watched as the DHD was still dialing by itself.

"What? Someone turn that thing off," Rodney barked looking at them like they were insects, in other words like he normally would .

"Dr. McKay, we have an emergency in the science lab and need your assistance immediately," a voice called with a bit of panic over the loud speaker.

"Now?!?" Rodney bellowed, "you have got to be kidding me!"

"Well, Rodney when you're hot!" teased Colonel John Sheppard leaning up against the console Rodney had just wiggled under.

"Oh, thank you, Mr. Funny!" they heard the mumbled retort from under the console. Chuck moved in to help the Doctor out but was rewarded with a kick in the knee.

Dr. Zelenka, Rodney's second, was there in an instant to prevent the young man from falling.

"Rodney, go… go I will take care here!" the Czech was pulling on McKay's leg.

"Dr McKay, you're needed in the Botany lab as soon as possible!" A different voice called through his head set.

"Now what?" Seeing the quizzical looks, he motioned to his head set and said he was just called to Botany as well.

John was about to say something as Rodney passed him, "Not one word from you!
It was always a show when the scientist was in a tizzy, which was really most of the time.

"Gentleman don't you have something to do?" Elizabeth tried not to smile at John and Ronon, who said they were going to the gym and wandered off.

Rodney packed up his computer and hurried off to the Botany lab to see if there really was a problem there.

Elizabeth turned to Dr. Zelenka, "What seems to be the problem?"

"I'm not sure, the cover to the fuses is being most difficult," Zelenka grumbled from under the console.

Klaxons started going off, making sit up and bump his head. A string of Czech curses could be heard under the console.

"What's going on, people?" Dr. Weir called out to the room.

"Wires were tripped ma'am!" a middle aged female with an Atlantis patch on one arm and a Australian patch on the other side of her jacket spoke up. "I checked everything twice, should I turn them off?"

"If you're sure everything is in order, Lieutenant. …"

"Prain, ma'am."

"Lieutenant Prain!" Elizabeth smiled an apology and nodded her head. "Give me city wide channel." Cortz opened a channel. "This is Dr. Weir, we seem to be having some difficulties in the control room. It was a false alarm but I would appreciate it if everyone kept their eyes open. Weir out."

"Dr. Zelenka?" Elizabeth asked.

"Moment please, am trying to," she heard a grunt then a pop. "Ah! There we go! Damn, we have to suspend all gate activity for a while, something has burnt out in the wiring for the dial sequence.

"How is that possible?" she asked, "Are we able to even contact our two off world teams?"

"I need another pair of hands, please!" Dr. Z's voice was unhurried. "Yes, I have notified teams before I found problem. Could you please bring a better light, too?"

Chuck grabbed the flashlight from the repair kit and crawled under the console.

Things quieted down in the next few minutes. All consoles were reporting back to normal working order.

Doctor Weir headed towards her office and everyone not needed in the gate room went back to work.

"Are you okay?" Radek asked softly.

"Huh? What? Me?" Chuck was startled.

"Excuse me for saying, but you look like old pot of borsht." Radek grinned to take the sting out of the comment.

Before Chuck could reply, the unmistakable sound of the gate dialing was heard. How was that possible?

"It's Major Lorne's team. Is it okay to open the gate for them?" the German gate tech asked.

"Did they not get request to wait?" Radek was trying to fit the last of the parts back together under the main gate console.

"They're coming in hot!" was the breathless reply.

"Open, open it now," Radek commanded, fixing something quickly to get the tem back.

A huge flash of white light illuminated the entire gate room, the wormhole sprang to life spitting out Lorne and his bloody team, then a huge explosion rocked the whole tower.

Klaxons went on -- for real this time. People were scrambling everywhere to help, medics were there in seconds with reinforcements. Everyone was talking at once.

Dr. Weir and Colonel Caldwell rushed from her office to see what had happened.

John and Ronon ran in from another part of the room, meeting up with Lorne's people first.

"Get the worst dealt with first, these two need to be brought right to surgery." The usually lilting Scottish accent of Doctor Beckett was thickly commanding.

"Lorne? Lorne? Are you all right?" John was careful not to touch him.

"Colonel?" Lorne shook his head a bit, and coughed through the smoke. "What happened?"

"We were hoping you could tell us," John looked up Ronon. "We got your IDC and heard you saying you were coming in hot ..."

"What, what are you talking about?" Lorne was sitting up much to the medic's dislike.

"Everything ok down there?" Was that Dr. Beckett's urgent cry?

"We got it doc, no one's seriously injured here," John assured the doctor.

"Thank God. I have to get to the infirmary. I have two critically injured men on their way there now." With that he whipped around and followed his team down the hall before anyone could ask him anything else.

Still confused and baffled by what Lorne said, John didn't even register what Beckett had said.

"It was a great day, sir!" One of Lorne's men was trying to stand and push off the medics at the same time. "We didn't call in hot."

"Excuse me? Then why didn't you stand down when you were told we were having trouble with the gate?" Sheppard remained calm.

"Trouble with the gate?" Lorne and his men looked at each other, obviously confused.

"You didn't get that message ?" Sheppard's brow raised.

"Sir, we were just returning from our usual run on PX2-447. Everything was fine there, as it always is. We didn't hear from anyone about anything, and nothing was wrong on our end." Now Lorne was standing up as were all his men.

Lorne’s team seemed mostly shaken, except for a few cuts and one nosebleed from hitting the deck so hard.

"Sir, please we really have to get them to the infirmary." A female medic looked on concerned at Sheppard, but was more worried that her boss would have a fit if they were not there in the next five minutes.

Dr. Beckett was a sweet, kind gentle doctor with the bed side manner of a saint, he had to be dealing with this lot but don't get his Scottish ire up or there would be nowhere safe on the Pegasus Galaxy to hide. John had been on the receiving end one of that ire too many times.

"I'm fine. Really. My men and I will go shower and we can debrief in an hour," Lorne started to pull away gently from the supporting hand.

"Now I know you really lost your mind!" Sheppard grabbed the Major's arm and personally escorted the group to the infirmary. "Since when do you go take a shower before seeing the doc, never mind after such a spectacular entrance?"

Ronon was on the other side of Lorne and could feel him shake just a little, a sheepish grin crept across his face, "Maybe I did hit my head too hard!"

The men laughed as they headed to the infirmary.

Dr. Weir and Colonel Caldwell were there also, making sure the Major and his men were in good hands, John and Ronon joined them.

"Where's Beckett?" John inquired.

"In surgery, with Radek and Sergeant Campbell." Weir looked pale. "They were both under the main gate console when everything happened. They were pretty banged up and burnt."

"That's who the Doc was talking about ?" John gasped.

"That's not the worst of it, the Sergeant had no pulse going in to the infirmary. He threw himself on top of Radek right before the whole console frame came down on top of them," Weir recounted.

John gaped then shook his head, "Elizabeth, something is going on, Lorne said he never got the message about dialing in, and it gets better. They never called in hot."

Elizabeth was on her feet in an instant. Teyla, hearing the call, had been sparing and went right to the infirmary to make sure everyone was okay. Rodney was hot on her heels.

"What's happened? Who is it?" Rodney demanded.

Looking at Elizabeth's face they got the wrong impression, ‘Oh my God! Who's dead?"

"Rodney!" Teyla chided sternly but sympathetically. "Give everyone a minute to fill us in." Her eyebrow went up as she turned to Elizabeth.

She told them everything including the conversation with Lorne's team.

The group sat down together and Colonel Caldwell suggested they look for intruders.

"We've already done that, sir. We know the protocol!" John snapped.

No one saw Lorne sag into the wall, upon hearing who was in surgery, no pulse was spinning in his head.

He must have made a noise because Teyla was over to him before he fell. "Major Lorne, are you all right?"

"Major?" Elizabeth asked gently.

"Did the doctor clear you?" John went to assist.

"Major?" Elizabeth tried again, still getting no response from the man.

Lorne took a second, licked his lips and swallowed hard. "I was cleared, sir," he looked at Dr. Weir, then over to Sheppard. "I.." He began again, "I…" and slumped to the floor in the waiting room.

***

After what seemed like hours, Dr. Beckett emerged from the operating theaters. "I thought Lorne was cleared, there were no injuries on his team except for Lt. Harkness's bloody nose,"

"Oh, for crying out loud! Carson can't you see right now that's not important, how is Radek?" Rodney demanded.

"Rodney!" the group admonished as one.

"What?" he looked to them, then back at Carson's exhausted posture. "Oh."

"Well, it was a good thing Chuck was there or Radek would have been killed instantly when the console collapsed on them. He managed to roll on top of him and get them both out of most of the dangerous part. Mind they both have severe burn marks and Radek broke his wrist." Carson rubbed his face wearily.

"Can we see them?" Rodney was bouncing on the balls of his feet.

"Not just yet. Radek did fine in surgery but it's Chuck that has me worried. He didn't have a pulse when we got him here, and he took most of the weight when the console came down. I had to put a few stitches in his back and shoulders and clean out some sharp bits that were embedded too deeply. He started breathing on his own fine shortly after we started to do CPR, but he's not responding like he should be," Beckett recounted.

"What do you mean?" Sheppard asked.

"Well, he's not coming out of the anesthesia the way he should. Radek has already been awake for a short time but Chuck is still lethargic," Beckett sounded frustrated.

"Well, having a thousand pounds dropped on you does that to a person!" Rodney sniped.

"McKAYYY!"

Oh! Oh, that was Sheppard's warning tone. The doctor backed down, "I am sorry Carson, I'm just worried."

"Aye Rodney, we all are!" Carson looked at the concerned group. "Why don't a couple of you at a time go visit Lorne while you're waiting for more news. My staff said they had to sedate him but we canna find anything physically wrong with him." Beckett's accent was thicker and more slurred due to the long ordeal. "Someone will come out in a bit when we move the other two into a more permanent bed assignment. Then you can check on them yourselves."

"Thank you, Carson," Elizabeth put her hand on his forearm, "why don't you go get some rest while you can. I'll have coffee brought down to everyone!"

"Aye love, ta! I think I will. Be in me office if ya need me"

Rodney watched him tiredly sway down the corridor past the waiting room doors into the main infirmary, away from the non-critical patients. His heart was in his throat.

"I'm going to see Lorne!" John scrubbed his face, wondering what would happen next.

"I'll go with you!" Ronon pushed off away from the wall, "then we can debrief the team."

"Shit!" Sheppard looked around embarrassed realizing who was there. "I forgot all about the debrief."

"You won't have far to go, his team is surrounding him as we speak!" Elizabeth replied, with a twinkle in her eye. "Reminds me of another team I know. The medical staff said they didn't know which of you were worse."

Caldwell's eyebrow went up as she said this and he looked at the others. Surprisingly a small, very small but still there, smile reached his lips.

Making sure the others were busy, Rodney left the waiting room and went all the way around to get to Beckett's office.

He noticed that the door was closed and the lights were out, that was odd. Silently, he opened the door looking around waiting for his eyes to adjust. Lying with his head on his desk on his arms was Carson, still in medical scrubs. His shoulders were moving slightly but not like he was asleep.

Moving silently so not to startle him, Rodney made his way behind the desk and slipped his arms around the Scottish doctor. He breathed in his scent and kissed his neck gently silently telling him it would be all right.

Startled for a moment, Carson froze then relaxed as he realized Rodney was not only holding him but also trying to comfort him, two things he was not good at especially in a public place. Okay, it was Carson's private office but anyone could walk in any minute.

"ello Luv" Carson sat up a bit to turn to kiss Rodney's neck as well.

"Bad?" was all Rodney said.

It was not much but Carson knew Rodney wasn't good with intimate moments or moments of deep concern but he also knew the other man was really trying as best he could.

"Aye. I lost Chuck on the table for a few minutes and the worst thing is, except for the superficial wounds and burns, there's nothing life threatening about his injuries. He's still not moved last I talked to my staff."

"You'll figure it out, you always do," Rodney was kneading the doctor's shoulders now.

"What's this then?" Carson turned fully around to see Rodney retreat to the other side of the desk. "Oh, Love, I am sorry, I wasn't making fun, I am exhausted and you never come in my office any more, let alone when the whole staff is here."

"Well, you just looked so damned, I don't know …" Rodney was defensive and all business again.

"I'm a git, luv, truly. I am sorry." He started to get up but Rodney was already excusing himself out the door.

Carson sighed deeply rubbed his face and went to change to make his rounds.

***

Lorne's team was set up all around their Commanding officer, daring anyone to disturb him. Reluctantly but quickly, they snapped to attention when John came in. He waved them to sit. They were just as confused about the day's event as the Colonel.

"Major, Major Lorne, can you understand me?" Sheppard was standing over his second in command shaking him gently.

"S-Sir?" his words were slurred by the drugs.

"Are you up to talking?" Sheppard pulled up a chair, Ronon hooked a hip on the opposite bed.

"Yes, Sir." Lorne tried to sit up or snap to attention or something that he couldn't do any of very well.

"Wow, you must rate. Doc gave you the good drugs." Sheppard smiled at him and looked up at Ronon who shrugged again.

"Take it easy Evan, we're just here to make sure you're all right." John gently pushed down on his shoulders to make him lie back.

"I'm fine, sir!" Lorne wavered as he tried to sit up again.

"Yeah, we can see that. Now just take it easy and if you can, try to tell us what happened. Doctor Biro said your team was fine and you were all leaving, the next thing we knew Teyla and Ronon were keeping you from face carpeting."

Lorne lay back down and closed his eyes. He was quiet for so long John decided he fell asleep.

As they got up to leave Lorne, both he and Ronon turned back when a tray crashed to the floor.

"Major, what the hell are you doing? Get back in that bed," John ordered.

"All my fault, he's dead because of me," Lorne moaned over and over, trying to get to his clothes.

"Who's dead? Your team's all fine. They're right here with you. Come on Major, settle down and get back in bed." Ronon could have very easily picked him up and deposited him in the bed but they could tell he was in real distress and wanted to let him keep some of his dignity.

"No. NO! I heard it. I heard him tell everyone he was dead, because of me. No, no!" Lorne was so agitated and making no sense that Sheppard finally called a nurse who came running along with Beckett.

The doctor eyed the two critically. "We're innocent, he did this all by himself ," John threw up his hands.

"Aye. We'll argue that another day, help me hold him down." Beckett expertly pulled out a syringe and plunged all of it into the Major's i.v. line, instantly drugging him into oblivion.

Checking to see the Major was comfortable, he ushered the Colonel and Runner out asking them what happened.

"That's what we were trying to figure out. He kept saying it was his fault someone was dead," John answered.

"Dead? No one died, his team is fine. I think he must have hit his head too hard when he was thrown into the gate room, he has all the signs of delusions but no concussion. Odd that." Dr Beckett thought back. A strange look came over his face.

"What is it doc? You got something?"

"Nothing I am ready to share yet." The doctor turned on his heels and left the two stunned men.

Hearing Elizabeth's voice, they figured they would go check up on Radek and Chuck while Lorne slept.

"Oddest thing, consoles do not just fall," they heard a slight whispered accent. "I think someone did this on purpose."

"Lie still! Do you need anything?" Rodney was actually fussing over the Czech scientist. He was one of a very few people that he considered a best friend, though he would die before admitting it. Rodney was not a people person and he knew Radek put up with a lot on his behalf.

"Fine, how is Ch… uh the Sergeant?" His eyes were closing as he inquired.

The silence around him made him open his eyes again, "What aren't you telling me?"

"Nothing, you both just need to rest!" Surprisingly, it was Caldwell with the platitude. He was mulling over what was said earlier about it being deliberate.

"Rest, Radek. We will be back to see you in the morning," Elizabeth gently tucked the covers up higher.

"Be well!" Teyla stood in his line of vision before leaving. With her, the whole team left.

"Something is going on and I want to know what it is," Rodney hurried away mumbling to himself heading straight for the gate room where technicians and cleanup crews alike were all working hard to put things right.

"Well, we're not going to see him for a while," John frowned.

"Dr. Weir, I would like a word with you in your office, please," Colonel Caldwell looked down at her patiently to let her proceed.

She nodded to John that it would be okay, "I need Atlantis back at 100% as soon as possible and I need the gate shut down until we find out what happened here." She gave her orders and everyone went about to see them through.

Once in her office, Caldwell came right to the point. "Major Lorne's team said they never got the stand down, and just as the console exploded, the gate engaged. This doesn't sound like an accident. Are you sure the proper procedures were followed?"

Elizabeth was furious, "Are you saying my team is incompetent?"

"Not at all, Doctor. I am not pointing fingers, I just don't believe in coincidences," Caldwell answered firmly.

"Nor do I Colonel. I have seen too much here to even think that something is not terribly wrong. Right now we have to work on finding out what went wrong and why, not who to blame. That will come later," Weir elaborated. "Please head back to the Daedalus and see what assistance you can offer from there."

"If you think that's best," Caldwell allowed and signaled for transport to his ship.

"Thank you," Weir said, tight lipped and fists balled.


***

Several days went by. The gate room was looking much better. Caldwell had sent half his crew to help in any way possible and sent out Marines to help patrol the power rooms and main lower floors that held the ZPM and other important areas.

Lorne was still resting in his room, bored silly and trying to figure out a way to get to the infirmary. He had only a brief glimpse of his partners, when Beckett said he could be released but he was not going to be put on active duty until Lorne told him what was going on.

When Lorne woke up the second time after being sedated, he started trying to get to his clothes and giving everyone a hard time. No one could understand what was going on with the mild mannered, always quick with a smile, young pilot.

Beckett came himself to talk to him but Lorne just sat stoned face and quiet on the edge of his bed.

"You leave me no choice lad, there was nothing in any of the scans or tests we did to cause a reaction like you had. Until I am 100% sure you will not be a danger to yourself or others I am suspending you of all duties," Beckett informed him. When this got no reaction, Beckett sighed deeply and patted the young man's shoulder, "When you're ready to talk you know where to find me. I am confining you to quarters for a few days since you're so insistent getting out of here."

That had been three days ago. He had politely called the infirmary to check on the conditions of Radek and Chuck. No one was told differently so he was given the info he wanted. Still no change with Chuck. Radek was going to be released in the afternoon.

His world had stopped that afternoon in the infirmary, hearing the news of the explosions and Beckett saying Chuck had no pulse. If his team had not gated in when they did, none of this would have happened. He couldn't tell the Scottish doctor what was wrong -- for a while there he wasn't even thinking straight and, worse, he couldn't ask or say anything to anyone. Damn the military anyway.

He dug out his head set, "Doctor Beckett, this is Major Lorne."

"Son? Y' all right?"

Lorne could hear the busy workings of the infirmary.

"Yeah Doc, I'm fine, I keep telling …. Sorry. I feel much better. I was wondering if you would allow me to come down to the infirmary to check on Dr. Zelenka?"

There was a slight pause, "No dizzy spells? No feeling faint?"

"Honest Doc, I am much better!" Lorne winced at the words, they weren't quite a whine, but he was embarrassed.

"Well, after your visit you're to report to me, understood?" The voice was kind but left no room for argument.

Oh, God! He knew! How? They had been so careful.

"Major? Major?"

Lorne jumped a bit when his head set went off, "Understood Doc."

Quickly he made his way down and went right to Radek, who was sitting up finishing his lunch. When their eyes met they were guarded but the concern in them was unmistakable.

"Doctor Z? How are you feeling?" Lorne sat casually at the end of the bed.

"My hair wasn't mess enough, now it has to go get all singed." He tried to make light out of the situation.

Moving closer and lowering his voice, Lorne looked at him for the first time since the accident. "I am sorry. I couldn't get here sooner, I was…."

"I heard, am very sorry. You heard wrong end of conversation then could not say anything my poor dear one." He took Lorne's hand under the cover. "You suffer too much for us, I am afraid for you!"

"I'm fine but I think Beckett figured it out. I have to go see him after we're done here." Lorne looked like he hadn't slept in weeks.

"Don't dismiss Doctor so soon, he is smart man, yes?" There was a twinkle in his eye.

Lorne looked again, "Any word about Chuck?"

"Let's go see..."

"Wait! Are you supposed to be getting up?" Lorne helped him anyway, wrapping his robe around him -- Radek was at a disadvantage with his wrist in a cast.

"He was moved closer to Doctors' office so they could keep closer eye on him, he has still not woken." Radek was moving off quickly, surprising Lorne with his speed.

As they rounded the corner of isolation ward, a nurse was coming out with dirty linens. Another nurse was just finishing up with the cleaning kits they used on patients not able to wash themselves. Chuck evidently had been freshly shaven, too.

"Any change?" Doctor Zelenka asked softly.

The nurse shook her head sadly.

The two men went to either side of the head of the bed. They looked down at the still form of their partner. Picking up his hands they started to caress his face and kiss his knuckles.

"Hey you, we know you're in there somewhere! You scared me half to death, what were you thinking?" Lorne's voice was thick with emotion, this being the first time he had seen Chuck since before he went off world, now six days ago.

"You saved my life but at what cost, pet?" the Czech was brushing back a stray hair that the nurses had missed in their cleanup.

Lorne heard a movement behind them and froze. Radek was just stunned and stood like a deer in the head lights, only for a moment. His back was not to the noise and he saw who it was.

Silently getting out of the chair, he had been writing medical notes on his tablet, Dr. Beckett went to the door and asked his head nurse to not disturb him unless there was a real emergency. Closing the door he pulled the shades closed and walked up to Lorne who was still too shocked to let go of Chuck's hand and felt like he was swallowing sawdust.

Radek seemed not as surprised as he should at seeing the doctor witnessing their little display.

Putting a gentle hand on Lorne's shoulder, he drawled, "I had a feeling it was something like this. I do have to admit though I would have never dreamed it was the three of you!"

Radek smiled a bit over at him, "They are not as understanding in the military!"

Lorne still hadn't moved but obviously was confused.

"It's all right son," Carson gently withdrew Chuck's now white knuckled hand from Lorne's grip and placed it back on the bed. "I admit at first you really had me going there, the other day. We couldn't find anything wrong with you and I knew you came in fine with your team."

"How…" was all Lorne could say.

"Well, let's just say Doctors have more than the privacy of patients to be thinking of, we are very intuitive and it didn't take me long when you were mumbling about his heart stopping, after we sedated you," Carson elaborated.

This got Lorne's attention.

"Easy, no one else was around, it was just me. I stayed with you till you stopped talking in your sleep. I decided the best thing to do was to confine you to quarters before anyone else heard anything they shouldn't, thought you might need some time to pull yourself together," he said kindly. Looking over at Radek, he saw the other man smiling.

Lorne looked from one to other. What had he missed? "Doc this can't go anywhere, I know you know that…"

Radek came around the bed and pecked Lorne on the cheek. "Easy pet, Carson knows all too well."

Both Carson and Lorne's eyebrows went up as they turned to him.

"Working as closely as you do to someone like Rodney you put things together, no?" Radek laughed slightly, "The same clothes as the day before, the calmer McKay, all the little things, the infirmary visits got even more frequent."

Carson blushed slightly but was relieved that Radek put it so delicately.

"You!" Lorne choked, "and McKay?"

"Watch it son, I have pointy objects in me pocket," Carson teased.

"Doc," totally embarrassed, Lorne started to apologize. "It's just you're so, and he's so… and well the two of you are so…. I just don't know what to say!"

"Good, let's all keep it that way!" Carson laughed at the look on Lorne's face. "Now that that's cleared up, can either of you tell me what happened before the incident? Was anything bothering him? Was he ill? He's just not responding like he should."

"I've been off world since last week Doc," Lorne said guiltily.

"I, too, have been too pre-occupied in my lab with all the artifacts that needed cataloging. We really haven't seen each other for a while." Zelenka was guilt-ridden.

"None of that now, we are all here for a reason. I am sure Chuck knows everyone is extremely busy these days with all the new threats." Dr. Beckett tsked at them both. "I was just wondering if maybe he was feeling poorly before this."

"What makes you think that?" Lorne was even more concerned.

"The man is beyond exhausted. We havna been able to wake him up even a little. We cut down on all his meds except the antibiotics." Beckett started taking Chuck's pulse by hand as was his way.

Klaxons started blaring and the lights dimmed.

"God Lord, now what?" Carson breathed.

Lorne was ready to run out the door, when he realized Carson had not released him yet.

"Go, just know you're among friends!" the doctor didn't see the ghost of a smile when Lorne ran out.

He arrived in the control room that looked almost back to normal. Sheppard was already there with his team and Dr. Weir.

"New uniform Major?" Sheppard smirked.

Lorne forgot he was wearing his sweats and a baggy, well worn Marine sweat shirt, he had slipped into an old pair of running shoes as well. "Doc just released me," Lorne shrugged.

"So you thought would come see what's going on ready to protect us all with your what, smelly sneakers?" McKay snarked, bent over trying to figure out why the alarms were going off.

Beckett and McKay? Really? Lorne was still thinking when he heard this.

"We need to do an all city search, something or someone is messing with this system and definitely not from here. At first I thought it was another fluke but readings indicate something's been coming into the city and then disappearing where sensors can't reach." Sheppard was instructing them all from what he got from Rodney.

"Let me get changed and I'll alert my team," Lorne offered,

"They are already waiting for you, Major, in the lower levels," John grinned again. "I have Harkness watching out for things 'til you get there."

Lorne ran full speed out of the gate room to the nearest transporter.

"McKay, you stay here and turn those damn alarms off." John clipped his P-90 to his vest as the rest of his team started to move out. "Sergeant Stackhouse, I want you and your men at the South pier since Colonel Caldwell has the East pier covered by his men. We are going to have to go by jumper to check out the West pier as that sustained most of the water damage by the last flood and has no sensors. Not even lights. That one will have to wait! I have to hope nothing can hide down there long.

After a few more orders and teams to disperse, SGA-1 was on their way.

It was hours later and all the reports back were still all clears. Nothing was found amiss anywhere. The teams were still a few kilometers away and were all heading back. Sheppard was actually glad to have Caldwell here for once since he had some of his Marines pull patrol duty in the newly assigned areas.

Having nothing else to do and having been relieved hours ago by the third shift gate operators, Rodney wearily made his way down the stairs.

"Get some sleep Rodney and make sure you eat first," Elizabeth called after him.

"Pot calling the kettle!" he half heartedly waved. He was exhausted and hadn't realized how hungry he was until he found himself rummaging through his small fridge in his quarters, stomach growling, and dizziness washing over him.

"Oh yuck!" he turned up his nose, he couldn't even identify what was in his hand. He looked some more, nothing seemed edible. He knew this couldn't be right because he had just stocked his little fridge when the Daedalus came in a couple days ago.

"Rodney?" he heard a half asleep voice behind him. Startled, he almost lost his balance.

"Rodney!" the voice was more alert now and at his side in an instant. "Sit down before you fall down. I'll put on the kettle. I bet you haven't eaten all day, either."

"I had a power bar and some coffee, actually lots of coffee, and what are you doing in my quarters anyway?" he plopped down drunkenly on the couch.

"What have I told you about all that coffee? And these are my quarters thank you very much!" Carson looked at him. He was going to scold him more but Rodney's pallor was ghastly grey. "Oh love, you did it again. Just be still. I will make you something to eat."

"Not from that swill," he snarked, pointing at the fridge.

"That's from me mum, so mind your manners. Your stuff is in the cupboard where it always is!" Carson was bustling around in his tee shirt and shorts. His hair was standing up at all angles -- it could have given Sheppard's hair a run for its money.

"When's the last time you slept?" Rodney asked, transfixed by the doctor's hair.

"I should be asking you the same. Now here, drink this. Your sandwich is almost ready. Eat this plum, it will bring your sugar back up for a bit 'til you get some real food in you!"

Rodney mumbled a thanks or something similar, Carson wasn't really sure. "I didn't expect you here or I would have had more on hand."

"You don't want me here?" Rodney was tackling the poor plum, mouth already full.

"Now love, you know that's not true. It's just you, well you haven't been around to even say Hi in a few days now."

"Oh, that!"

Carson made a huge plate and grabbed a napkin and the sugary fizzy drink Rodney liked so much and sat down beside him.

"Thanks!" he took a huge bite of his sandwich.

"I swear you're worse than a teenager!" Carson laughed as he dabbed Rodney's mouth, still not keeping the man from his food.

"Um, ungy," Rodney mumbled.

"Yes, I know you're hungry love, but you have to breathe!" Carson waited until he was done and hurriedly cleaned up. He sat back down on the couch reclining so Rodney would lie up against him.

"That feels good." Rodney drooped as Carson rubbed circles at his temples.

"So what's going on with the controls and what happened that made the intruder alerts come on?" Carson asked casually not wanting to rile up the high strung scientist of his.

"Nothing. That's the problem. Sheppard has teams out looking all through the city but so far zilch." Rodney moved closer to get the most out of the pampering he didn't think he deserved. He often wondered why the kind hearted, easy going man who could have anyone on Atlantis, chose him.

"Lots of trouble for nothing." Carson could not hold back a yawn.

"How long has it been since you slept?" Rodney turned, pinning him with a glare.

The guilt was written all over the Scot's face. When he had critical patients in his infirmary he barely got an hour of sleep until the danger was over and by now all of Atlantis knew Chuck was not doing well.

"Ok, who was it?" Rodney tapped his fingers on his crossed arms.

Instead of playing dumb Carson answered honestly, "Biro, threatened me with a needle of me own if I didn't go rest and not in my office either!" His face was crimson.

"Oh so, Dracula has her uses after all!" Rodney smirked. He was definitely feeling better. He didn't realize how close to a glycolic episode he was. Going to Carson's quarters instead of his and not realizing it explained a lot, never mind all the other symptoms. They weren't exactly sneaking around but their business was just that.

"Okay, let's go!" Rodney got up and pulled on Carson's arm.

"ack, wha?" Carson fumbled away, "I was sleeping afore ya came in!"

"To bed, ya sheep herding voodoo man!"

"Oh well, since you put it so romantically…" Carson took delight at the way Rodney always blushed when something intimate was said, even though they had been together a while now.

Carson didn't even remember getting into bed. Obviously neither was in a playful mood – exhaustion took them both immediately. Rodney was gone when Carson woke up. He looked at the clock and realized he was going to be late if he didn't hurry but he really needed a shower.

Taking one of the fastest showers he could remember, he flew to the mess for his tea and fresh crumpets Caldwell's crew always brought just for him after long layovers at SGC. He almost collided into Ronon as he left.

"Whoa, easy there Doc. Where's the fire?" Ronon managed to catch his elbows and swing him gracefully around, not even dropping a spot of tea.

"Ronon, lad so sorry, late for me shift!" Carson waved thanks on his way out.

"Is Dr. Beckett all right?" Teyla observed the exchange from the other door way.

"Yeah, he and McKay must have finally gotten some time together." He lowered his voice knowing that for some reasons Earthers were not as forthcoming with their intimate relationships.

"Well then, I am very happy for them both. It has been a tough few days." Teyla also knew the strange quirks of the human population but, as always, she respected everyone's views and beliefs.

"Let's get some breakfast, we have a long day ahead of us!" John stood with Lorne in line oblivious of the side conversation.

"So what's the plan?" Ronon's plate was filled in less than two seconds as he grabbed his coffee and a juice and went to sit down.

"We're going to send a jumper out to the West pier to look around. There's shouldn't be any possible way anyone or thing could be surviving down there but it's the last place we have to look." Sheppard looked at Ronon's plate, it was almost half gone. He shook his head as he sat.

"Who's going?" asked Lorne as he sat next to a table near them.

"Well, McKay needs to stay here and work on some stuff to get the DHD back on line properly. Zelenka's going to help him," John elaborated.

"I did not know Dr. Zelenka was feeling so well. I thought he was still in the infirmary," Teyla smiled from ear to ear.

"Got out yesterday afternoon, right after the alarms went off," Lorne offered, as all eyes turned to him. "It was the first chance I had to go see him since before we went to PX2-447." He managed to keep a neutral look on his face.

Sheppard just took his word and continued, "Lorne, you and your team are going, as well as a few Marines from Daedalus. We're spread out too thin here and we still have places to look as well. You need to stop by the infirmary and take a doc with you in case…"

He never finished his sentence. Lorne got a strange look on his face and stood up almost knocking the chair over, heading out of the mess at a dead run.

"I didn't mean this second! I wished all my men jumped like that at my command!" Sheppard was finishing up as were the others when McKay strolled in.

"You leaving?" he asked looking a bit put out. "First Zelenka, now you!"

"We don't have to go yet… Wait. What did you say?" John was about to sit down again.

"I asked if you were leaving." McKay said in his you are a moron voice.

"Not that part Rodney. About Zelenka! What do you mean he left? When? Where?" John queried.

"A couple seconds ago. Rushed right out of the lab like his coat was on fire. Why, I don't know, I'm not his keeper, I just was almost mowed down. Some people!" Rodney had grabbed his coffee when the rest of the team got up to leave quickly.

John tapped his radio, "Lorne, this is Sheppard. Come in."

"In the infirmary sir, we have a situation," Lorne replied,

"We're on our way, Sheppard out." He looked at the others around him and announced, "There's a situation in the infirmary." Sheppard left his tray, mentally apologizing for leaving a mess, and set out for the infirmary. He could hear footsteps close behind him. He ran faster realizing Rodney, who hated to be left out of anything, had sacrificed his coffee to see what was going on.

Ronon scared the staff half to death with his huge blaster out and ready to shoot. Sheppard and Teyla also had their 9 mm's out and ready for action.

"Bloody Hell! What's all this now?" Beckett came bristling through the startled staff and patients. One team had just come in from off world and had their weapons at the ready as well. Though they had no idea why.

"What's the problem doc? We heard you had a situation." Sheppard was turning around to see only scared medical staff and patients. Lorne was standing in the back with Zelenka near Carson's office. His face was a mask of slight confusion, but Dr. Zelenka was in panic mode.

"Put those bloody weapons away. What the hell's the matter with you anyway? You didn't need to alert the whole base!" Beckett's accent was thicker then molasses and his face was almost purple.

Still confused, and a bit slowly for the doctors liking, they put away their weapons and Beckett barked out that they were to follow him.

Once in his office, he regained his composure just before Elizabeth and Caldwell strode in.

"I know it's a wee bit cramped in here but could ya please close the door Colonel Caldwell?" Beckett requested.

"Elizabeth, Colonel? Lorne? What's going on?" John demanded.

"I called them here if ya don't mind. Now settle and I will tell you what's happened. I started to tell Lorne and Radek what happened when you called. We didn't want anyone panicking but I had no idea Lorne was with you when I called him." Beckett started, carefully avoiding the real reason for calling the other two first. "Since Major Lorne and Dr. Zelenka are his friends and saw Sergeant Campbell last, I thought I would call them here first. Then I asked Elizabeth to join us just before you came in." Carson also tactfully left out the part about guns blazing.

McKay jumping to the wrong conclusion, yelped, "He's not……"

"No, Rodney, he’s not dead, for heaven's sake, let me just tell you what I know first," Carson was practically bursting. "I was making my rounds as usual. I knew Angela had just checked on Sergeant Campbell, so I saved him for last. When I got there, he was gone!"

"What are you saying Carson? He's a zombie or something?" Rodney asked.

Ignoring Rodney's outburst, Beckett continued, "At first I thought he may have come around, was disorientated and left the infirmary. We looked everywhere. Then we went back to his bed, there's no sign of struggle or anything. No one saw him leave or anyone enter that wasn't supposed to be here."

"Oh, so now he's a Zombie Houdini," Rodney snarked.

"Rodney!" Elizabeth admonished.

"What? It's not my fault these quacks can't keep a comatose patient without losing him," Rodney complained.

Carson knew Rodney was just as concerned as everyone else, but seeing Lorne and Radek's faces he had to shut him up. "Dr McKay, I do not recall asking for your presence here. Since you are here, why don't you go see if you can't find him on the main life signs console."

That stung. Carson was dying inside but sometimes Rodney could be so daft it wasn't even funny. Swallowing hard, he waited for the fit he knew was brewing -- even McKays' team looked at Beckett oddly.

Rodney, white faced and lips so thin a line you could hardly see them, turned ever so quietly and left.

Carson's heart was breaking -- he wanted nothing more than to run after Rodney and hold him in his arms and tell him he didn't mean it. Just sometimes that man could infuriate a saint and Carson had other people to consider right then, including a seriously ill patient out and about, Heavens only knew where.

Elizabeth cleared her throat delicately. "He'll get over it," she smiled warmly at the doctor.

A lot she knew, he thought, then remembered Lorne and Zelenka in the back ground. "Look, I know we are spread thin with the existing search but our first priority is to find Sergeant Campbell," Beckett tried to get out calmly.

"We still need that West pier checked out as well. Lorne, you and your team go do that and I will reassign some other teams to search for Campbell," Sheppard started calling other teams on his head set, reassigning them.

Lorne was about to protest when Zelenka’s hand grabbed his arm and he shook his head. It was the hardest thing Lorne ever had to do. "Yes, Sir," he left the office with Zelenka behind him. Beckett felt pale but composed himself quickly.

"I will assist Rodney in the control room. We will find him," Radek squeezed Lorne's upper arm. "This I promise!"

Lorne pulled away and double timed it to the jumper bay. He was afraid to let himself feel anything at this moment.

Beckett made one last sweep through the infirmary and asked that Doctor Lindsey be called down since he was going to go with Sheppard's team on the search.

Everyone gathered in the control room after they all suited up. Beckett had his medical bag and his gear was on. Rodney's fingers were dancing on the controls.

"Anything?" John looked over his shoulder at the panel.

"No, I think I'm capable of telling if there is a life sign or not!" Rodney sounded his flippant self but Beckett cringed and felt his stomach go in knots. He just happened to glance Teyla and Ronon's way and swore he saw sympathy on their faces. No, everyone was too stressed, he must have been imagining it.

"I contacted Hermiod. He has internal as well as external scanners searching. He suggested we try somewhere close to where the sensors don't reach," Zelenka told the assembled group.

Rodney harrumphed and before he could say anything else a jumper came down, started turning and the gate started dialing.

"What the hell? Lorne what are you doing? Use the roof !" McKay was trying desperately to stop the dialing sequence.

Static came through their radios and they could just about make Lorne's voice out, "What… We are still…."

"Lorne? Major Lorne! Come in, please!" Elizabeth was using the main console to try to contact him.

Sheppard was on his radio calling to the puddle jumper, "Jumper 2 stand down. Say again, stand down. You do not have clearance to go through the gate -- it's not safe." John started to run over the bridge from the control room to Elizabeth's office to see if he could figure out who was in the jumper. "McKay! Shut down that gate!" he called.

"Gee, why didn't I think of that?" Rodney was now under the newly fixed console pulling wires and setting off sparks near his head.

The gate powered down just as the jumper started its decent to the bay.

"Lorne here, what's going on? We haven't even left yet."

"Stand by Major, we have another jumper here. It just tried to get through the gate." Sheppard and his team ran up the steps to the bay. By the time they got there, the other jumper had the roof opened and was flying out. That was all Lorne needed, he and his team were ready for lift off and without waiting for orders went after the first rogue ship. The bay doors on the roof closed as Zelenka called over the radio, "Colonel you better get down here!"

"What the hell's going on Dr. Z? Who was that?" John demanded.

"Is why I called you. Is no one in jumper!" Zelenka explained.

"What? How could that be? These things don't fly themselves," Rodney, now dirty from sweat and grime and bleeding from a cut over his eye, crawled out from under the console and actually pushed Zelenka's chair away. The wheels went flying but Ronon caught him and righted the exasperated scientist.

"Jumper 2 come in, this is command. Jumper 2? Identify yourself," McKay barked trying to get remote control on the craft.

Lorne called in, "What's that about, McKay? Who's flying that thing?"

McKay continued with what he was doing, Zelenka at his side watching another panel. It was he who answered, "We read no life signs in Jumper 2 Major, be careful."

"Where are they headed?" Sheppard strained to see over their shoulders.

McKay looked up in amazement, "The West pier."

"That's it, let's go!" Sheppard barked looking to Elizabeth as she nodded her head.

"Wait!" Zelenka's strangled cry stopped them in cold blood. "Both jumpers just crashed into what used to be the landing pad."

Everyone was too shocked to move for a moment. McKay jumped to the speaker and radioed Lorne's jumper. Nothing. Sheppard tried next, still nothing.

"Keep trying, let's get out there now," Sheppard scrambled up the rest of the steps with his team and Dr. Beckett right behind him.

They heard Colonel Caldwell direct Hermiod to beam him and a platoon of Marines and some medics, out to the West pier. Sheppard was already taking off by the time he finished. They would need an undamaged jumper out there if anyone was badly hurt and couldn't risk beam out.

***

Part Two

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