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Fic: Taibhsearachd (Part 1/2) (McKay/Sheppard)

Title: Taibhsearachd
Author: sonadorita
Pairing: McKay/Sheppard
Rating: Light R for swearing
Recipient: lavvyan
Disclaimer: None of this is mine.
Warnings/Spoilers: None

Summary: Taibhsearachd is the Gaelic name given to “second sight”, the involuntary ability of seeing the future or distant events. (Definition from http://en.wikipedia.org)

Author's Notes: Lavvyan, I hope I achieved the mix of angst, snark and happiness you wished for. Merry Christmas!

Also thanks to my three wonderful secret santa betas - adafrog, thisissirius and el_gilliath. Thank you!. You rock!

Taibhsearachd


When he started feeling dizzy, John began to realize that taking a sauna off-world hadn't been such a good idea. Whatever these aliens had vented into the sweat house, it lulled his brain into a dangerous doze.

Across from him, through the burning hot steam he could discern the pale, lean leader of the small group of wanderers who resembled the Vikings so much it was scary. The tails of his long blond beard almost reached down to the floor as he sat on the bench with slumped shoulders, his elbows resting on his knees. At least, John thought, he was still wearing some sort of long underwear, and he himself had been allowed to keep on his boxers, too.

They were alone in the small, leather-crafted sauna, but John's team was waiting for him outside so he didn't feel like he was all on his own with the crazy Vikings. Gruslaf, the leader, occasionally looked up at him, maybe to check whether he was dying from the hot steam, John didn't know. While he was already feeling like braised meat after what couldn't be more than twenty minutes, Gruslaf still looked incredibly lively and unimpressed. He was probably doing this every other day and had the practice that John obviously lacked. The heat was burning through his flesh into the core of his body, his lungs were filled with hot, humid air that painfully stung his chest from the inside. Fearing that he might actually doze off, he didn't dare close his eyes although they hurt from the dampness of the steam. And that was what these guys called a 'gift from the Great Mother'.

After John and his team had made friends with the simple people, and after they had agreed on starting a trading relationship, Gruslaf had invited one of them to join him during his session in the sauna. However, he had implied that the newly fledged friendship would be undone if none of them accepted. Feeling like it was his duty as the team's leader, John had undressed, never having sat in a sauna before and not knowing what he was getting himself into. But now it was too late to withdraw, and about five long minutes were still lying ahead of him. Then the sun would touch the horizon, the Great Mother's gift would be considered as granted and he could finally, finally leave and take a long, cold shower in Atlantis.

He winced lightly as Gruslaf poured more water on the coals and new clouds of steam thickened the air. Now John did close his eyes to keep the sweat on his forehead from running into his eyes. Leaning forward, he buried his face in his sweaty hands, his slick forearms resting on his equally wet thighs. Blood rushed into his head, almost blocking out the pain of the heat. Before the pressure became unbearable, he sat upright again, facing Gruslaf who watched him with still very attentive eyes that were not veiled by dizziness at all.

“Are you fine, Colonel Sheppard?” he asked, and wow, how could he still talk with his lungs filled with hot, wet air?

Instead of answering, John just nodded although he felt like shaking his head and running out of the narrow hut. With two damp fingers he wiped over his watch. Another three and a half minutes until sunset, if Rodney's calculation had been right. Three and a half minutes and counting until he could flee this man-made hell.

As a result of the somehow soporific effect of the steam, Gruslaf was swaying lightly in front of him, so John pressed his balls of the thumb on his eyes, mentally counting to thousand, leaving out all powers to three and seven and all prime numbers. By the time he had reached 544, Gruslaf was patting his shoulder.

“You did well,” he said, offering him a hand for getting up. “The Great Mother blessed you.”

“Thanks,” John coughed, grateful for the cold air that welcomed them as they stepped out of the sauna. Soft cloths were draped around his steaming body immediately, but in his shocked condition from changing the climate so quickly John couldn't tell who was doing this and who steadied him so he didn't topple over. Although he was sure that his eyes were open, he couldn’t see anything. For a short moment he had the time to wonder about that, then his consciousness kicked the bucket.

*

He woke up again as faint beeping and muffled voices invaded his quiet unconsciousness. It was cold, which was about the greatest thing he'd ever experienced. Even without opening his eyes, it didn't take him more than a few seconds to become aware of where he was and what had happened. He was in the infirmary, lying flat on one of the soft beds.

“No, we brought him right here,” Rodney just said, maybe two or three steps away from his bed. “He hasn't been unconscious for longer than fifteen minutes.”

“He hallucinated,” Teyla's voice added. “On our way back to the Stargate, he started muttering words that did not make sense to us.”

“Yes, but then he said I looked like a flower,” Rodney threw in quickly and John smiled on the inside. “Can you imagine that? A flower! Of course Ronon got to be the cool lion.”

“Thank you, Dr. McKay,” Dr. Beckett’s voice answered, and when someone, Ronon probably, growled quietly, he added, “and you guys, too. I'll run some scans now to see why he phased out, and I'll call you once he's awake again.”

“Yes, please do that,” Rodney insisted, his voice slowly fading as he walked away. “I have a bone to pick with him. How dare he make Ronon a lion and Teyla a queen and me...”

Okay, at least that didn't sound like he was going to die. Not that he'd actually considered this, but you never knew what aliens viewed as a 'gift'.

Feeling safe and comfortable, John decided to let Carson do his work and drifted off into the cool, black nothingness again.

*

When he woke up again, Carson was at his side, fumbling around with the IV that stuck in his hand.

“Oh, good evening, Colonel,” he greeted him with an almost apologizing smile. “I'm done here in a minute.”

“It's okay,” John answered. “And hi.”

He blinked, rubbing his eyes with the free hand. Carson helped him sit up, although John didn't feel like it was necessary. In fact, he felt like he could get up and bounce lively out of the infirmary even though he'd just woken up. And he was hungry.

“How am I?” he asked instead, eyeing the needle leading into his vein with a bit of mistrust.

“Free to go, actually,” Carson replied, holding him back when he shot up, laughing. “Not that fast, though, lad. I ran a couple of tests and they all indicate you're as healthy as always, but I'd like to keep you under supervision until tomorrow anyway. Your team reported that you hallucinated on your way back to Atlantis, for which I haven't found a reason yet because you definitely weren't suffering from a fever and you haven't shown any signs of being drugged either. I'd prefer to keep an eye on you for the rest of the day and the night, if you don't mind.”

“Well, if you wish,” John agreed with a smile. “So the steam in the sauna hasn't destroyed my brain cells or anything? Rodney would hate me forever.”

Chuckling, Carson assured him, “No, my test results tell me that your brain is working regularly. But aren't you feeling a bit weak? You've been unconscious for over five hours.”

“I'm a bit hungry,” John admitted. “But otherwise, I'm feeling perfect.”

Carson smiled, waving over to a nurse. “Wonderful. Darlene will bring you something to eat. Do you mind if I call your team? Rodney insisted that I inform him as soon as you're awake.”

“Sure, no problem,” John said. “And thank you, Carson.”

Darlene brought him a light meal with medium mineral water which he just started to drink when Rodney stormed in, Ronon and Teyla following on his heels. “Colonel!” he yelled reproachfully. “What the hell was that?”

“Calm down, Rodney,” Teyla chided him, smiling, while she pulled two chairs over. Ronon sat down on the bed next to John's.

“A flower! You said I looked like a flower!” Rodney complained. “Why couldn't I be a lion, too? Or, like Teyla, a qu- I mean, a king?”

John chuckled, swallowing down a sip of water. “Rodney, I don't remember a single thing I've said about you guys,” he defended himself. “But I'm sure you were a pretty flower.”

“As if that makes it better!” Rodney exhaled, pointing at his head. “You said my leaves were floating beautifully in the wind! Can you imagine how embarrassing that was?”

John snorted. “You're kidding me, I didn't say that.”

“You so did! And then you pointed at Teyla and called her 'my queen' and 'whatever pleases you'! That was so unfair!”

“Do you want me to please you, too?” John asked, smirking.

For a moment, Rodney couldn't find the right words, an opportunity Teyla took immediately. “We storm in here and we do not even ask you how you feel,” she apologized, glaring firmly at Rodney when he opened his mouth again to butt in. “So, how are you?”

“I'm fine,” John replied with a smile. “I don't remember anything from our way back to the 'gate and my fantasies trouble Dr. Beckett a little bit, but apart from that, I'm okay. How did you get me back to Atlantis, actually? We didn't have the jumper with us and the 'gate was quite a bit away from the settlement.”

“I carried you,” Ronon grunted.

“What, the entire way?” The broad man nodded. “Oh.”

“We had to dress you,” Rodney remarked. “You sweat through the towels the natives gave you faster than I could blink.”

“That's really fast,” John agreed, earning an honest-to-god eye roll.

“Gruslaf assured us that your reaction to the sauna was common,” Teyla explained more seriously. “Apparently they allow other guests and friends to receive what they call the Great Mother's gift as well, although he would not tell me what exactly 'gift' signifies.”

“We left them an IDC code,” Rodney elaborated. “Gruslaf mentioned leaving the planet with his people soon and supplied us with the address of their next station. I guess trading with these folks will turn out quite difficult.”

“Yeah,” John agreed. “I'd be surprised if everything goes smoothly.”

Gruslaf's small people were nomads, they never stayed on a planet for long to avoid being caught by the Wraith. While that gave them some protection, their way of life made any kind of communication extremely difficult. However, they had promised John's team to inform them whenever they were to leave a planet.

“Dr. Weir says we might have to go back to them again very soon,” Rodney told him. “If Carson can't locate the origin of your fantasies, he'll probably want to interview Gruslaf's people to find out more.”

“That's correct,” Carson joined in, carrying his pad and a stack of scary-looking needles and other devices on a plate. “And if you don't want to watch me exchanging Colonel Sheppard's IV, you'll have to leave now.”

Getting the hint, the others rose. “We'll check on you again later,” Rodney said. “If you're not off to dreamland already by then.”

“Yes, we shall have dinner now,” Teyla agreed, carrying the chairs back to where she'd gotten them. “See you, John, tomorrow at the latest.”

They walked off, Rodney raving to Teyla and Ronon about the fish they were serving this evening. John crooked his mouth, knowing that Rodney would be complaining about said fish when they met again.

Carson waved almost threateningly with the needles. “Shall we?”

*

After a long, relaxing night, John woke up early in the morning, feeling even better than the previous evening. Carson relieved him after running one last check, telling him to drink and eat a lot and not exaggerate things today. First thing he did was take a long cold shower in his quarters that washed away the old sweat and cleared his mind. As he got dressed in fresh clothes again, a stray, intrusive thought crossed his mind: today's power drop would keep Rodney from eating lunch. Brushing his teeth, John wondered where he'd picked up the idea of a power drop – maybe Rodney had mentioned something yesterday on the mission? He would have to ask him later, and remind him of his breakfast.

When he entered the mess hall, Rodney was sitting at their usual table along with Ronon and Teyla. Through the noise in the room, John couldn't understand what he was saying, but from his flailing and his unhappy expressions he could tell that something irked him.

“Colonel, do you think the Daedalus will bring us a new cook?” Rodney asked him furiously instead of a hello.

“If we ask nicely, perhaps,” John answered, nodding to the others as he sat down at Teyla's side. “But why do you want to replace him?”

“The fish last evening was pure horror!” Rodney exclaimed. John wasn't surprised to hear that. “It tasted pale and boring, the sauce was barely more than water with a few casual herbs and I spent the entire night on the toilet--”

“No detailed descriptions please,” John warned him with a slight grin. “Did you consult Carson?”

“It wasn't that bad,” Rodney admitted. “But uncomfortable anyway.”

“Perhaps you had a mild reaction to the fish,” Teyla pointed out. “Ronon and I ate the same meal and we slept quietly.”

Ronon nodded to underline her words, and John wondered why Teyla knew how Ronon had slept.

“Seriously, Rodney, you'll have bigger problems to worry about today than our cook,” he sighed, finally digging in himself.

“And you know that exactly why?” Rodney asked in confusion.

“Weren't you the one who told me of the power drop today?”

“Power drop?” Rodney's expression changed from confused to completely out of the loop. “What power drop are you talking about?”

John frowned. “So no power drop?” Shrugging, he dismissed the idea. “I could have sworn. Well, maybe I picked up something and mistook it.”

“I hope so,” Rodney agreed. “Since this would be a red-letter-day if you knew more about the city's power levels than me.” He got up, stashing his waste on his tray. “And we'll need to have a talk later, Colonel. I'm not done with you yet as far as the hallucinations thing is concerned.”

The three chuckled as he walked away and John deeply regretted that he couldn't remember anything from the visions he'd had the day before. “So,” he started, grinning tongue-in-cheekly. “Will you tell me more about my hallucinations?”

*

The loss of power occurred when they were sitting at Elizabeth's conference table in the late morning, discussing yesterday’s and today’s missions. For a short moment the lights in the room flickered and Rodney jumped out of his seat, listening to Radek briefing him over the comm about their status.

“Will you excuse me, I'm needed in the labs,” he said before rushing out. After a second or two he rushed back in, frowning at John. “If that is some mysterious early warning system of yours, keep me updated, okay?”

Then he was back out, and the others gazed at John questioningly.

“I knew this,” he tried to explain, to Elizabeth and his team as well as to himself. “I mean, I knew the power was going to drop. Don't know why, though.”

“Perhaps someone talked about the power yesterday, and your brain picked it up and this is just a coincidence,” Elizabeth guessed. “Maybe it's some kind of déjà-vu.”

John nodded, although he wasn't feeling at all like she was right. “Yeah, maybe.” They went on with their mission briefing, but John's thoughts kept drifting back to the power problem. He'd known that it was going to happen. This didn't feel like a déjà-vu or any other sort of coincidental occurrences. He remembered his gene – maybe his loose connection to the city had tried to warn him? But since when did Atlantis warn of a short power drop of the kind they experienced every other day?

They agreed on going off-world in the afternoon again as they wanted to check out one of the planets in Atlantis' database where the Ancients had once settled. Elizabeth asked John to talk to Dr. Beckett before he stepped through the 'gate again, so he went down to the infirmary right after the briefing. When the doctor asked John whether he had experienced anything unusual today he contemplated for a moment telling him of the power drop he'd known about. However, he decided to consider it a coincidence, maybe he had dreamed about the power problem and just had forgotten about it. As long as it didn't happen again, he wouldn't attach that much importance to the issue.

*

When he was preparing to move out, though, checking his ammo and tac vest supplies in their weapon storage room, he knew the Wraith had installed a base on the planet they were going to visit.

Shocked and confused by the intensity of this premonition, he hurried to the Jumper bay where Rodney was preparing their Jumper. “Are you sure there are no Wraith on P9M-918?” he asked, his voice trembling maybe just enough so Rodney would notice how odd he felt.

“No, Colonel,” Rodney assured him indignantly, not even looking up from the control crystals. “We scanned it and there was nothing except weak signals from the Ancients' base.”

“And you're certain the signals aren't coming from the Wraith?”

Now Rodney stopped and gazed up to him, confusion written in his face. “Aren't you trusting my scans anymore?” he asked doubtfully. “You're not going to get any better.”

“Yes, Rodney, I just--” ... know we'll encounter the Wraith on this planet, he ended the sentence in thoughts. “Sorry. Yes.”

Rodney hesitated a brief moment, obviously contemplating John's doubts, before answering, “Any minute now. I'll be faster when you let me work.”

John got the hint and left the jumper to wait on the outside. Trying to forget his mind's strange idea of a Wraith occupation, he thought through their plan again – first they would check out the area, Rodney would run his scans, and if everything looked okay they would search for a safe landing place and check out the facilities.

Naturally, they had to change their plan.

They had been orbiting the planet for approximately ten minutes, and Rodney was just running the very last scan of the ruins on the ground, when a hyperspace window opened not far from them and a giant Wraith hive ship dropped out of hyperspace. Intuitively, John cloaked the Jumper, just before a second and a third hive ship appeared.

“Oh,” Rodney exhaled, shooting John a more than just doubtful look. “Is this a new habit of yours?”

“What?” Ronon wanted to know.

“Let's get the hell out of here,” John suggested before Rodney could answer and steered the Jumper back to the space 'gate. “Dial on my mark, Rodney. Hopefully they haven't noticed our presence yet and don't send any darts to keep us from escaping.”

They were lucky, and made it back to Atlantis without a single shot being fired. John hadn't fully realized the full consequences of what had happened, until Rodney said, with an almost terrified expression, “Colonel, you're not having... visions or anything, have you?”

“No, I’m not,” John answered, because what he'd experienced had been far from including anything visual.

“Now, what is it?” Ronon asked in confusion as they flied the Jumper back into the bay. “I don't get it.”

“I... I think I...” John started, only that he didn't know exactly what he was going to say. “I had a feeling before we went on this mission. A... a knowledge.”

“You sensed the Wraith?” Teyla asked.

“No, I didn't sense them,” John muttered. “It was like with the power drop this morning. I just... I knew we were going to encounter the Wraith.”

“Then why didn't you say anything?” Ronon grunted.

“I did! But Rodney wouldn't listen. He--”

“Yes, right, put all the blame on me!” Rodney complained. “You only asked me whether I was sure that there were no Wraith on the planet, and I was sure! If you had told me you'd had an actual premonition--”

“--you wouldn't have believed me either,” John finished the sentence firmly and irritably while the Jumper came to a stop. “Now could we please drop this subject?”

He grabbed his P-90 and rushed out, feeling the worried gazes of his team following him. Surely they were thinking that he was going crazy, or that he'd turned into some sort of medium that received messages from the future. John didn't even know what to think himself.

Leaving it up to the others to deal with Dr. Weir, his first station was the infirmary. “Dr. Beckett,” he announced as he entered, “I think we should run another series of scans.”

“What's the matter?” Carson asked, indicating him to sit down on one of the daybeds.

“I know things before they happen,” John revealed, his calm and composed voice giving the lie to his stirred inside. Carson blinked in confusion and for a moment John wished he hadn't consulted him. “Okay, let me explain it to you,” he spoke hastily. “Yesterday, when my team visited me here in the infirmary, Rodney mentioned eating fish for dinner and I though that he wasn't going to like it. See, I hadn't even known that they would serve fish in the evening, and previously Rodney had never complained about the fish dishes in the mess hall. But when I met him this morning, he told me how awful the dinner had been.”

“That was surely--”

“A coincidence, yes, that's what I thought, too,” John interrupted him quickly, fearing that he wouldn't have the guts to start again if he stopped telling him everything now. “But then there was this... feeling of mine that there'd be a power drop in the city today, and that's what happened. Alright, another coincidence. Before we left for the mission today, I felt that...” For a moment he paused, in search of the right words. “I was hit by the knowledge that we were going to encounter the Wraith. I mentioned it to Rodney, but he assured me that his scans had indicated undoubtedly that there were no Wraith on the planet we were going to visit. But once we were there, three hive ships jumped out of hyperspace. Perhaps they're using the facilities as a base of some kind, I have no clue, but what matters now is that I knew it.”

Carson hesitated for an instance before answering, possibly needing some time to think about the issue, maybe also giving him time to add more. “Do you have visions?” he asked then thoughtfully.

“No,” John replied. “It's nothing visual. Just... knowledge. You could call them premonitions, but they're more than that. A certainty.”

“Do you know the term presque-vu?”

“Yes, but it's not that, doctor,” John insisted. “It's not just a feeling that something's going to happen.”

Carson sighed, sitting down on a chair in front of him. “Listen, Colonel, I'm taking this very seriously,” he said, and from his expression John could tell that he wasn't fooling him. “If you had told me this back on Earth, I would have given you the contact details of a good psychologist, but we're in another galaxy here and I don't doubt that extraordinary things are very common here.” John nodded, in a brief rush of memories remembering Rodney's superpowers not long ago, his own transformation into a bug, Ford's addiction to a Wraith enzyme. “But I don't want to rush things, either. I scanned you often enough in the last two days to be able to say that you're 100% healthy. Whatever it is that causes your... premonitions, it's not affecting your mental or physical health.” He sighed. “I believe you, Colonel, but I'd suggest that we wait until tomorrow. And if you still keep on looking into the future, I'll scan your brain functions in a longer and more exhausting process that should give us more information. But right now, I'd like you to get a bit of rest, read a book this evening instead of sitting in front of your laptop, and go to sleep early. It's still a possibility that you're overworked and your brain just...” His arms flailed helplessly as he searched for the right words. “No alien's using you as a host, that's for certain. I think we can hope for a rational explanation before we rack our brains over this.”

“Okay,” John agreed, flinching a bit because of Carson’s choice of words. He had hoped that he had run another test series, that he had told him that he'd seen this before and that other people had experienced the same. However, he could understand his point of view. Why running a, as he'd put it, long and exhausting brain scan if the only cause of his premonitions was a combination of coincidence, intuition and tired brain synapses?

Carson got up and John followed his action. “Try to forget what happened,” he advised him with a shy smile. “Give yourself a quiet afternoon and evening and come to the infirmary again tomorrow morning.”

“Will do, Doc,” John said, answering his smile. In retrospect, he was actually relieved that he hadn't diagnosed a life-threatening disease or anything like that. “And thanks.”

As he left, he felt a little better than before. Of course he had been very certain that what he'd experienced had nothing to do with presque-vu or something similar, but maybe that had really been his brain trying to convince him that he was having premonitions – and that he, as a result of that, should take a rest. However, he didn't think he was overworked – that was rather Rodney's part – especially after the long night he’d spent at the infirmary, but the definition of “overworked” was subjective. Perhaps his body thought differently.

He dropped his weaponry at the armory and reported at Dr. Weir’s office before heading for his quarters. As he returned to his quarters and the room slowly lit up around him, John wondered whether Ronon's broken finger would be any advantage for Teyla or him in their spars. Slipping out of his loosely laced shoes, he tried to remember where and how Ronon had hurt himself. Only when he sat down on his bed a minute later it dawned on him that he hadn't broken anything yet.

Closing his eyes, he sank back on the mattress, aware that he'd just experienced yet another premonition, flash of knowledge, whatever was the right term. For a moment he considered going to Ronon's quarters and telling him to take care of his hands, but maybe Dr. Beckett had been right and his brain just needed a time out, maybe these intuitions were just some weird ways of his mind to fool him.

John stayed in his quarters that night. When he went to the infirmary after a quick breakfast the next day, Ronon was sitting on one of the daybeds, his hand being aided by Dr. Biro. Teyla was sitting close by, as well as Rodney, who obviously had something to do with Ronon's injury since he babbled something that was probably an apology in Rodney-speak.

“You're not mad at me, are you? See, it's not my fault entirely that I – oh, hi Colonel – it's not my fault that the power levels required my attention. Yes, I could have watched my step, but there was some deflection in the graph – okay, you're not going to understand what I say anyway. Simply believe me that the data pad was slightly more important at that moment than looking where I was going; and hardly anyone ever walks through that corridor, so how should I have known that you were just around the corner? And really, what have you been doing? I mean, you're – you're a rock, you don't just topple over because some, eh, let's say smaller scientist crashes into you. I'm not the only one to blame, okay?”


“Rodney,” Teyla interrupted him softly.

“And don't look at me this angrily, will you? I'm really – it's not like I did this on purpose!”

“Rodney, he is refraining from laughing,” Teyla remarked, smiling.

“What? What, he's-- Ronon, are you laughing at me?”

Ronon snorted, not holding his amusement back anymore. “Seriously, McKay, I've had worse,” he chuckled. “It's just a finger.”

“Yes, but...” Rodney sighed as the words sunk in, relief written in his face. “Oh. Alright.”

“What happened?” John asked, although he was aware that knew it already.

“I smashed into him,” Rodney explained. “I mean, we crashed into each other, and...”

“I broke my finger when I fell to the ground,” Ronon said, shaking his head. “In our own city, after all the Wraith I hunted.”

“Ouch,” John commented weakly, grimacing, but not only because he felt Ronon's pain.

Obviously Teyla noticed, because she turned to him and asked him with concern, “What is it, John?”

“I...” He wavered senselessly with his hands, uncertain what he was going to say, unsure how they would react.

Fortunately, as it seemed to him, Carson joined them, greeting him. “Oh, good morning, Colonel.” He talked for a moment with Dr. Biro about Ronon's injury, then the assistant doctor walked off. Carson told Ronon that he should try to rest his finger and that a surgery wasn't necessary, before turning to John. “So, have you experienced other premonitions?”

In the few seconds he didn't answer, understanding dawned on his friends and their expressions darkened, becoming serious. “In fact, I have,” he admitted slowly, gesturing at Ronon's broken index finger. “Before I went to bed yesterday evening, I wondered whether this was going to be an advantage for anyone who fights against him.”

“Alright,” Carson sighed. “Although that was before you slept in, I'd like to run those brain scans I mentioned. You'll be exposed to a tad bit of radiation, so I need a written confirmation that you're alright with this.”

“No problem,” he agreed.

“Great, then please wait for a moment while I prepare everything.”

Uncomfortable silence reigned when Carson was gone. “So you can see the future,” Rodney stated after a moment of thinking. “That's not bad, is it?”

“Well... no.”

“Next time, warn me,” Ronon grunted, but John knew he wasn't angry at him.

“And tell me once you have any visions of my Nobel prizes, will you?” Rodney demanded, earning a deathly glare for that.

Carson called him and he prepared for a two-hour scan of his brain synapses that would hopefully bring some light into the whole mystery.

*

By the end of the scan, he had almost fallen asleep, but Carson jerked him out of his doze and told him that he was finished, but it would take some time until he was done analyzing the results. He asked him to return to the infirmary in an hour or so, and John walked out with the uneasy feeling he always had when he was told to wait for a physician's examination results. You never knew what terrifying diseases they discovered in your body.

He briefed Elizabeth about his status and she ordered him to postpone all missions until they could be certain that he didn't pass out in the middle of a flight from the Wraith.

As he was leaving her office, he thought that he should warn Rodney about the processor failure he was going to record later.

*

“My processors are fine.” Rodney sounded almost hurt. Hurt for what? Because John had dared to question the quality of his processors?

“Well, you should check them,” John said, shrugging. Looking around in the labs, he noticed that nobody was glancing at him like they'd done when his skin had been blue and his eyes yellow; so either they didn't know about his new ability yet or they didn't care. “Maybe I'm wrong this time, but if a failure would be a problem, you should perhaps try to prevent those processors from giving up.”

With a sigh, Rodney crooked his mouth. “Thank you, Colonel, for your warning. I still believe that a processor failure is even less likely than Atlantis turning out to be a Wraith hive ship, but if you say so...”

“Call me once they fail,” John asked him. “Or tell me if they don't.”

Rodney nodded. “Okay, will do.”

The rest of the hour Carson had set to analyze the tests John spent in his quarters, typing a quick mission report of the previous day, naturally leaving out any hints at his premonitions. His heart sped up when he walked down to the infirmary again, and somewhere in the back of his mind he realized there would be another series of scans, however he couldn't tell whether this knowledge was a presentiment or just a conclusion from proper reasoning.

“Colonel, I fear you'll have to endure another few examinations,” Carson confirmed his prediction.

“I know,” John said, and Carson just raised an eyebrow over that.

“The radiation scan brought up some uncommon activities in a part of your brain,” he explained, leading him through the infirmary to the room with the huge lie-in scanner. “I want to examine this area more closely. Looks like we're getting closer and closer to solving this mystery.”

He smiled encouragingly as John lay down to have his head investigated once again.

*

“Uhm, Carson,” John started, not more than fifteen minutes into the scan. “I think...”

“Yes,” he interrupted him, lost in the data on the screen he was watching closely, obviously not really paying attention to his words. “Now, this is really interesting.“

“If Rodney storms in now, I believe I've just had a premonition,” John informed him anyway and he finally looked up with an enlightened expression that turned into pure satisfaction when Rodney indeed stormed in half a minute later, not even trying to hide his excitement as he told John of his processor's failure that had occurred a short while ago. Somewhere in his long monologue that included technical details John didn't comprehend and actual enthusiasm for John's new special ability, he was sure he heard a “sorry that I didn't believe you” which definitely paid back for all the boring time he'd spent inside the scanner.

“I think we've got it,” Carson announced. “I just noted a momentary rise of electric jolts in one part of your brain, simultaneously with your premonition.”

He continued the scan for another fifteen minutes while Rodney waited impatiently outside, muttering something that included the very significant words “Nobel” and “prize”. When Carson was finished and John was finally allowed to sit straight again, Teyla, Ronon, Rodney and Elizabeth were called to the infirmary to inform them about the news as well.

“Do you see this,” Carson started, gesturing over his screen which showed a model of John's brain. Some parts were lightened in red. “I've never seen anything like this before. These red areas indicate abnormal electrical activity in Colonel Sheppard's brain.”

“That's a lot,” Rodney remarked, sounding slightly worried.

“Yes, but in fact, the electric shocks are very small compared with the usual ones,” Carson explained. “I guess you'll understand me best if I say that some parts of Colonel Sheppard's brain are actually high.”

“What?” John threw in, puzzled. “I'm not high.”

“Your brain is,” Carson corrected him patiently. “More specifically, only very tiny parts are. I don't know how this works exactly, but I'm fairly certain that these parts are responsible for your premonitions. Actually, the status of your brain is slightly comparable with the one of people in deep hypnosis or meditation. Did you meditate in the last days or have you been hypnotized?”

“No,” John answered.

“But you spent a long time in Gruslaf's sauna,” Teyla remembered. “Maybe the herbs they vented into the hut caused your brain to... go high.”

“That's very likely,” Carson confirmed. “Have you talked with the people you visited about this phenomenon already?”

“No, not yet,” John replied. “But if I'm free to go off-world, we can see how they're doing and ask why they did this to my brain.”

“And whether it has long-lasting after effects,” Rodney added.

“Didn't Gruslaf call it a gift?” Ronon asked. “Mother's Gift or something like that?”

“Yes, Great Mother's gift,” Teyla said. “Perhaps he meant the ability to see the future when he mentioned the 'gift'.”

“I suggest you ask them tomorrow,” Elizabeth said, looking questioningly at Dr. Beckett. “If that is okay.”

“Yes, sure,” Carson agreed, smiling at John. “So far the status of your brain hasn’t had any negative consequences, aside from your momentary hallucinations. I see no reason to keep you in the infirmary, although I'd like you to check in with me at least every morning and evening, if possible also around noon. Keeping track of your premonitions and noting down everything you experience will maybe help us to understand better what's happening to you.”

“So I'm not danger,” he asked.

“No, I don't think your brain changed for the worse,” Carson said seriously. “My scans indicate that the electric shocks aren't harming you. From my position here, I say you're free to go and do whatever you want, as long as you record your premonitions and check in with me twice a day.”

“Deal,” John answered, smiling. The thought that there was something unnatural going on in his brain still wasn't nice, but he trusted Carson and knew he wouldn't tell him that he was okay unless it was the truth.

His friends - especially Rodney, who obviously had been afraid that he'd lose his sanity – seemed equally relieved, patting his shoulder on their way out. Ronon and Teyla invited him for a sparring session in the gym and Rodney reminded him once more to tell him everything he saw about his future, implying the Nobel Prize yet again.

Fighting with Teyla and Ronon helped John to relax. Only now he noticed how tense he'd been, never certain whether the premonitions were something good or bad. When he was thrown onto the ground only half a minute into his first fight with Ronon, he also came to the conclusion that the broken finger wasn't a disadvantage at all.

After a long shower, John went to the mess hall for a quick dinner. Rodney joined him a short while later, sitting down cheerfully across from him.

“When we visit Gruslaf's people tomorrow, I'll ask them whether I may receive the gift as well,” he announced, mixing the sauce into his salad.

“Well, maybe the whole thing has negative consequences anyway,” John said doubtfully. “You never know what will happen.”

“You do,” Rodney remarked with sparkling eyes. “Have you fully realized yet what a fantastic gift you received? You'll be able to warn us if the Wraith come! You'll know if someone's in danger and rescue them! Some formulas might even turn up in your head that answer all questions of physics!”

“Rodney, it doesn't work that way,” John sighed, smiling crookedly. “It's not a light I can turn on and off. I don't think 'hey, I'd like to know what we'll eat for dinner tomorrow' and suddenly I know. The premonitions come irregularly, and I can't control them.”

“Yes, but maybe you see the right things,” Rodney answered, digging in while he was talking. “It's not harmful, so I think your ability is a great advantage for us. Next time you warn me about anything, I'll double-check my devices. Maybe we can even prevent things from happening.”

“I'm not sure about that,” John doubted, using the moment Rodney took to shovel salad into his mouth. “So far everything I’ve seen has come true.”

“Yes, but what if you, for example, had warned Ronon about his finger?” Rodney pondered. “Maybe he wouldn't have broken it.”

“On the other hand, I might not have had the premonition at all,” John guessed.

“Anyways, it surely--” Rodney paused, eyeing John with confusion written over his face. John had stopped eating, his fork with the meat was still lingering just a few inches away from his partly opened mouth. Slowly he brought it back on the plate, frowning. “What?” Rodney asked, starting to panic. “Do you have a premonition? You're not seeing something cruel, are you? Will the Wraith attack? Is someone going to die? Or did you... You didn't see that I won't be awarded the Nobel Prize, did you?”

John smiled a bit at that, shaking his head. “No, Rodney, it's got nothing to do with your Nobel Prize,” he assured him.

“Oh, that's a relief,” Rodney sighed, leaning back before shooting upright again. “Wait, you said my Nobel Prize – does that mean I'll get one?”

Rolling his eyes, John chuckled, “I still don't know, sorry.”

“Then what did you see?” Rodney insisted.

“Nothing,” John replied firmly. “You know I don't see, I... know.”

“However you want to put it,” Rodney sighed. “But what was it? Don't try to fool me. Either you just had a bad premonition or you remembered that you forgot to lock your door on the way out, which isn't very likely.”

John weighed his possibilities for a moment, then rose and indicated Rodney to follow him. “Let's talk in private.”

He led him out of the mess hall into a small storage room in an empty corridor. After closing the door to the nearest softly lit room, he realized his choice of location was possibly a slight mistake. Empty boxes were piled up at the walls and forced the two men to shift together closely. They weren’t even a foot apart, and John really regretted that they hadn't walked to a balcony or anything else with more space.

“So, what is it?” Rodney asked again impatiently.

Before answering, John took off his headset and Rodney mirrored the move. “Okay, uhm,” he started, still a mess inside, knowing that his state of mind was clearly visible on his face. “I guess it would be best if we don't tell anyone. I don't know when it's going to happen, I don't know how and where, but... Listen, maybe you were right when you said that the things I know don't necessarily have to happen, so perhaps this isn't final. Rodney, I... we're...” He paused for a moment, then exhaled his final words in one hasty rush. “I know we're going to kiss.”

“Oh,” Rodney just said, surprise displayed in his expression. “That's...” He blinked, aiming for a smile. “Well, at least there's still hope for my Nobel Prize.”

John smiled back, relieved that Rodney hadn’t run away screaming. Not that he'd expected him to do that, but you could never really tell how people would react to such exceptional news.

“Maybe aliens will make us do it,” Rodney pondered, his voice not a tad bit shaky. In fact, he sounded more curious and exited than anything. “Perhaps our choice will be 'kiss or die' and of course we'll go with the kiss. Or some evil alien threatens to kill Teyla if we don't kiss... okay, that would be pretty much the same. Maybe it'll be a farewell kiss. Maybe one of us is going to leave Atlantis forever while the other one stays in the city with no possibility to ever return, and a goodbye hug turns into a kiss because someone pushes against us... Or we run into each other somewhere and our mouths lock accidentally. Someone uploaded a gay porn movie to the Atlantis network, did you know that? I haven't figured out yet who did it, but it's hidden well so it must be some tech-savvy person. Whoever it is, maybe their biggest birthday wish is that we, I mean, being two attractive men, we can't deny that – that we kiss in front of them, and since that person is going to die a day later we grant their wish.” Rodney's lips, close to John's face, moved quickly, his tongue rushing from his teeth to his lips and back. From the hasty way Rodney listed up their possibilities to kiss, John could tell that he was nervous, maybe feeling uncomfortable. “Or it happens because we want to find a reason for you to be thrown out of the Air Force. Or maybe there's some big gay liberation demonstration on Earth in a couple of years and we want to show our sympathies, and the easiest way to do that is kissing.” He hesitated. “Are you...” Trailing off, he shook his head as if to convince himself that his question was senseless.

“Rodney,” John said quietly, trying to calm down his racing heart. “How do you feel about it?”

“Well, I,” Rodney started, deciding to go another way after the first words. Gesturing, he accidentally brushed John's arms and his chest, his brief touches sending shivers down John's spine. The room was too fucking small. “See, it's not like you're utterly ugly. Just look how the girls always throw themselves at you – you're an attractive man... Already said that, didn't I. Anyway, I'd rather kiss you than... Caldwell. Or Hermiod.” He pulled a face as the vision sunk in. “Don't get me wrong, I just... I'm...” Actually at a loss of words, as it seemed, he looked up straight into John's eyes, their blue color seeming a lot darker in the only dim light. “What about you?” he asked then, curious.

John didn't reply immediately because he didn't know what his answer was, and whether he should make up something or tell the truth. When Rodney had problems putting his feelings into words in this situation, what hope did he have for success? Figuring that he was more the action guy, and that Rodney's lips did look incredibly inviting and soft, he pressed his own on Rodney's mouth, regretting and enjoying it simultaneously. Rodney's gasp that followed John's quick movement was muffled by their locked, wet lips. For a short moment, the tips of their tongues met, the sensation sending shivers down John's entire body and into his toes. Neither of them closed their eyes, staring into each other's pupils instead. Uncertain whether it was shock, surprise, fear or joy he read in Rodney's gaze, John drew back with a soft wheeze, cold air caressing his lips where Rodney's warmth had just been.

“W-well,” Rodney stuttered, but considering that he'd just kissed him, John found his voice surprisingly composed and calm. Had he enjoyed it? John still couldn't read his expression.

“Just... just don't tell anyone,” he muttered quietly, the urge to leave the packed room becoming almost unbearable. His hand moved to the crystals that would open the door, but Rodney's words caused him to hesitate.

“Why?” Rodney asked with an indifferent tone, as if he couldn't decide whether to feel hurt or rejoiced. “Did you just want to fulfill the prophecy? Or was it...”

He didn't end his sentence, didn't have to. For a moment John tried to come up with an answer, failing because he didn't know it himself. Wordless, he exited the locker room, escaping the tense situation, rushing down the corridor to the nearest balcony. Only after he caught a breath of fresh, cold air did he feel he could think clearly again. However, he still didn't know the answer to Rodney's question. If he hadn't been so certain that all his premonitions became reality, would he have kissed him?

Slowly, he returned to the mess hall, where he picked up his tray that was sitting alone on the table by now, throwing the rest of his dinner into the trash. Choosing a route he was certain Rodney wouldn't use, too, he returned to his quarters.

He wondered what would have happened if he hadn't kissed Rodney in the storage room. When else would they have kissed? Would they have kissed at all? If they hadn't kissed, would he even have had the premonition? Closing his eyes, he sank down on the bed, his head hurting because of these thoughts that he didn't even really understand. Had he kissed Rodney because of the premonition or had he received the prophecy because they were going to kiss? It was like the stupid question with the chicken and the egg. One of those that no one could answer, because they were too complicated for the human's brain to deal with.

Later in the evening, he visited Carson in the infirmary and told him of the premonitions he'd had that day, leaving out the kiss.

It took John a long time to fall asleep that night.

Part 2
Tags: genre: slash, pairing: mckay/sheppard
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