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Learning How To Fly Chapter 2

Chapter Two


*


Chapter 2

*

Elizabeth Weir walked quickly through the hallways of Atlantis looking for Major Lorne. The major had reported that he had found the missing Marine outside, in a corner of the never used docks. Carson was just waiting for Elizabeth to finish with Michaels, then he would order Lorne to drag the Sergeant back to the infirmary. Michaels had slipped out of the infirmary before his post-mission physical –and debriefing- had been completed.

There.

Lorne nodded at her as she approached.

“Where is he?”

Lorne jerked his head. She had walked right by him; all that was showing was the tips of his boots. Elizabeth edged around the corner, knowing that Lorne was following with his finger on the trigger of his P-90. The lack of intelligence on the man in front of her worried them all. How had he been here so long without anyone noticing such huge gaps in his personnel file?

“Ma’am,” Michaels drawled. He was cleaning guns and sharpening knives. Despite knowing that most of his weapons were not regulation, she was disappointed that he wasn’t filling the now-famous colored tubes that she had heard so much about. Why was he cleaning a six-shooter revolver that looked like it belonged in an Old Western?

“You missed the debriefing where Ohlman and Sheppard sung your praises.” Rodney also had expressed some choice, less complimentary, words about this man.

The Marine flushed slightly. “I was doing my job.”

“Sheppard wants you to make an excessive amount of your liquid explosives and to have them be standard issue to off-world teams, after, of course, a complete training in how to use them. He also is putting a recommendation into your file.”

“You don’t want to do that, ma’am. It would reflect badly on you in the end.”

“Because your name really isn’t Dean Michaels?”

Michaels had less tells than national and intergalactic diplomats that she had met but Elizabeth still knew that she had surprised him.

Michaels huffed. “I’m going to demand a refund from Ash. Fool-proof alias, my a—foot.”

“I had asked for your record from Earth base after we met while I was… under the influence of Phoebus. The SGC finally found something.”

“You knocked me out then,” Michaels interrupted. Curious, he did not want to discuss that.

“You spoke to me. It sounded like it was in Ancient.”

“It wasn’t.” Quick. Certain. Forceful, like she had only heard from him when he had been speaking to the alien entity housed in her body.

“And you did something to Phoebus with your words, something that she had to stop.”

“She stopped it.” Michaels mused as he ruffled the back of his head where she had hit him.

“You were easy to find, standing over your partner.”

“Pacosky gets me into all sorts of trouble.”

“You were trying to protect him.”

“Fine job I did.”

“She was trying to hold on to my body. She was thinking for a while there that she was strong enough to keep it, but you did something that loosened her hold. Sheppard mentioned that he heard someone skulking around the infirmary and speaking in a different language when Phoebus finally left my body kicking and screaming. You came back to finish the job.” Elizabeth had a sudden idea. “Were you the one who burned their original bodies?” Social Sciences had thrown a fit at the destruction, but no one could prove arson. Everyone knew that it had to be arson, but an accelerant had not been found. Elizabeth would have to make sure Michaels hadn’t been involved in the investigation. Arson investigation would have been delegated to the Marines.

“How’s General O’Neill? Is he dead?”

The non-sequitur threw her. How did he know? “O’Neill is in the hospital but recovering well.”

“He got jumped again?”

“…Yes. He knows about you,” Elizabeth realized. Whatever O’Neill had seen in this young man impressed him enough to fast track him onto Atlantis.

“Promised to take care of any additional background checks,” Michaels proved her correct. “Wanted me in the Air Force but even rebelling from my father, I had to follow him into the Marines.”

“We’re keeping you,” Elizabeth said as she made the decision. “So you might as well give us your real name.”

The man considered her. “Winchester,” he said finally.

“And the rest of it?”

Winchester smiled. “Dean Michael Winchester, ma’am.”

Well, that explained how he answered to his ‘fake’ name so easily. His full name added a dimension to the man’s character that she appreciated. She had been half afraid that he was Trust or something worse. He wasn’t even a life-long conman. O’Neill wasn’t a name that just anyone could drop; everyone knew that she talked to the general at least once a week during their check-in and she would check his story. She wondered if Winchester was one of the few aliens that had gained sanctuary on Earth. Why else would O’Neill vouch for him and construct such an elaborate cover-up?

“Sergeant Winchester, you should be forewarned that Dr. McKay is on scaffolding investigating the… ah… markings you put on the ceiling of the hallway to the residential area.”

Winchester jerked. “He’s not dismantling it, is he?”

“No. I’ve ordered him not to. He’s only allowed to look, not touch and his team knows it and will hold him to it. From what Sheppard and Ohlman reported, your… ah… Wraith motel works well enough that it would keep the bunks safer, the wraith would not be able to walk into the hallway, they would have to transport in. We appreciate that kind of protection and initiative.”

“How’d he see it? It’s not something he’d notice.”

“I believe Teyla pointed it out to him. I don’t understand why he just doesn’t ask you.”

Winchester grinned. “He lost a bet.”

And Rodney would not want to admit to anyone that he needed answers from a Marine. He would rather suffer in silence and figure it out on his own. “Yes, well, he demands to be present when you make the others.”

“Others,” the Marine looked… grumpy.

“Sheppard was very impressed and wants one around the stargate and protecting the officer quarters and the ZPM. He’s compiling quite the list.”

“You’re going to let me graffiti Atlantis?” Some part of Winchester found the idea hilarious.

“I’m going to order you to, actually.”

“Order?” With the way he repeated the word, she knew that she had just lost the easy camaraderie and trust that she had been working for.

“I won’t let McKay get too close to your work, but he will be there.”

Winchester said nothing.

“Oh and Ronon has demanded throwing stars. I’m sure that he will be approaching you for training on them.”

Winchester’s grumbling didn’t hide his slight smile. “He just wants an excuse to kick my ass all over the mat when he can’t do it immediately. Again.”

“I heard that you held your own rather well.”

“Still lost the fight.”

“After an hour and trashing the entire gym. Not another person can claim the same.”

“When you order the throwing stars for Ronon, add some for me too,” Winchester changed the subject again. If she didn’t know that the two men had put the gym back together again, she might think that he was trying to slip out of responsibility.

“You can do that yourself when you order all your materials for your explosives,” Weir turned the tables on him and made him think.

She could see him turning the idea around in his head. “When you say ‘your explosives,’ are you just talking about the tubes? ‘Cause my pack had a lot of fun stuff in it. And the wraith are worse than airlines at returning luggage.”

“I’m also talking about your cloth bags. Ronon liked those. The rest of what you think you need, just requisition the bare minimum. After you test them in front of Sheppard and McKay, they might or might not choose to include them. All of these are your inventions?”

“Yes’m.”

There was a crafty light in Winchester’s eyes that she didn’t like but chose not to question at this point in time. “We will be suspending all ‘gate activity in four hours, as soon as Team 7 gets back from their mission. At that point, you will be… marking the floor in front of the stargate. You do have all the needed supplies?”

“Yes’m.”

It was only as she was leaving did Elizabeth recognize the look in Winchester’s eyes. For all intents and purposes, Winchester was a researcher who had been denied experimentation. He probably had many new ideas that he’d like to test and Elizabeth had just offered him a seemingly limitless list of materials to choose from, since no one knew what had been in Winchester’s pack. Elizabeth would have to discuss a mainland lab to both Teyla and Sheppard. She didn’t want an explosives lab actually on Atlantis. She was pretty sure that Winchester would take full advantage of such a place and opportunity.

*

“An explosives lab?” Dean looked from one woman to the other. He had arrived in Elizabeth’s office after she had called him. He seemed to expect the director to rescind her order about his painting. The offer of the explosives lab completely floored him. Elizabeth enjoyed the brief crack in his shield.

“Yes.” Elizabeth answered. “You need a place to experiment and I’d prefer it not to be on Atlantis. Teyla’s people have the room and are willing to build it for us.”

“Mine is a proud people,” the native took over the explanation. “We would like to perform a job and trade for the service, instead of always being forced to accept the charity of Atlantis.”

“No offense,” Dean waved at Teyla. “But on the mainland? I don’t like to fly and most certainly can’t fly myself. I’d need a pilot every time.”

“We’ll put you top of the list for the gene therapy.”

“No,” Dean argued. “I hate flying. That’s the other reason I joined the Marines and not the Air Force.”

“How do you endure the mission trips in the puddlejumper?”

“Going? Gritting my teeth and humming Led Zeppelin. Returning? That one’s normally bad even when we aren’t being chased. Ohlman trades missions with some of the other leaders so that we are walking through the gate, not flying. He’s pretty effective, as we just have a part-time pilot as a part of our team. Captain Bass doesn’t even come with us most of the time. It’s the three of us and a scientist most of the time.”

“You’ll have to get over your fear. I am not having an explosives lab on Atlantis.”

“Why not?” Dean wasn’t whining, really, he wasn’t. “I’m sure the Ancients had some sort of lab set up for weapons experimentation.”

“Most of their weapon experimentation was completed on other planets,” Teyla reminded him.

“My explosives aren’t that effective.”

“Colonel Sheppard reported that you managed to destroy the hive ship that Team 1 and Team 4 escaped from.”

Dean perked up at that. “Really?”

“Really.” Weir smiled at him. “Just try not to outdo McKay in the size of explosion.”

Dean looked momentarily downcast. “I won’t be able to function the whole time I’m on the mainland, recovering from the flight.”

“Fear of flying is a control issue,” Weir said. “You’ll get the gene therapy and then I’ll have Sheppard train you. I think you’ll do better when you are flying yourself, but all this will happen after you paint the floor in the gateroom.” If the gene therapy failed, she’d figure out some sort schedule, but thus far those with the ATA gene were smart, smart alecks and a general pain in her ass. Dean would fit right in. Elizabeth knew that it was a completely unscientific theory, but she’d put money on Dean’s ATA gene therapy working.

“Yes’m,” Dean grumbled. “I’ll be in my room preparing. Radio me when Team 7 returns.”

*

Dean stood on the stairs facing the Stargate shaking the paint-mixture can needed for the Seal of Solomon.

This whole situation was totally surreal.

He was surrounded by impatient, unbelieving scientists and their monitoring equipment, though most of the regular personnel had been relieved of duty. Sheppard, Weir and Ohlman didn’t constitute scientists, but they were among the curious that had the rank to spy. Dean was suspicious that Weir thought he was an Ancient in disguise and the whole crew knew the boner she had for anyone Ancient. That would explain why she was letting him get away with so much. Pacosky was his go-fer so that Dean wouldn’t be interrupted in the middle. Currently, his friend was placing orange cones, marking the extent that the scientists could hover. McKay complained loudly at the distance from the ‘gate, but there was no way Dean would let them any closer.

He had a scientific audience for a supernatural undertaking.

Dean glanced at his watch. Thirty seconds until he had mixed it for a full seven minutes.

This situation was ridiculous to the extreme.

Also extreme was the list of places that Sheppard wanted a Seal painted. If he had his way, Atlantis would remind Dean of Bobby’s place every time the hunter/Marine turned another corner. He would have to get a message to Missouri asking for more paint; she knew all of the ingredients and had helped him develop this special recipe. Missouri had been his friend since the time Dad had dropped him on her doorstep with a broken leg at age eleven. He might even get some cookies out of her. He’d mention it when he requested some of his other materials he’d need for his new lab that only she could procure.

Him.

Dean Winchester.

With an explosives lab, paid for by the government.

Sammy would so be rolling on the floor laughing if he knew, but hiding from Sam was just as important as hiding from everyone else, if only to protect him.

Dean set down the compass, then paint can and pried it open north-south-east-west. He had a lot of painting to do. He dipped the clean and purified brush into the ‘paint’ and got to work.

It’s a good thing he was never prone to performance anxiety.

He had agreed to painting the Seal near the Stargate because he had legitimate concerns about demons following him to Atlantis more than because of any order of Weir’s. His father had chased him away on purpose. The demons could track John and Sam Winchester but for some reason, they couldn’t sense Dean even though he was considered as dangerous to them. The demons feared John’s training and tenaciousness, Sam’s mind and blood and Dean’s inventiveness. It had taken Dean a year to figure out all that and by that time he had completed Basic Training and the specialized explosives training that privates should not have been able to join and then O’Neill had placed him on the Atlantis team.

His father had been scared for him and scared that Sam would be killed in the crossfire. The demons had found out about the three ‘Colts’ that Dean had made in his teens and really didn’t want a human, and especially a hunter, making weapons that could kill anything. The original Colt that Elkins had showed John when Dean was eight was bad enough. Dean had made it a mission to make more after the Winchesters had managed to kill Azazel with it six months later. Making friends with Elkins behind Dad’s back proved to be one of the smartest things Dean had ever done. Closely followed by the tour of the gun factory. Dean had started making weapons and followed that up with his true love of explosives that could kill any evil he came across and he was damn good at it. Too good. John had been selling Dean’s inventions since he was ten and he had only improved in the meantime. The demons had been targeting Dean for years, but it had gotten really bad right before John Winchester had picked a fight with his son.

Dean had saved Jack O’Neill’s life on accident and then had disappeared into the Marines under his supervision. Dean had to wonder if that was something along those lines that John had planned all along.

Before he started experimenting again, Dean wanted some assurance that the demons wouldn’t be able to find out about it before he had something to combat them. He had never seen evidence of demonic activity in the Pegasus galaxy and he wanted to keep it that way. The Wraith were bad enough.

Dean finished his third circuit of the outer circle of the Seal of Solomon and heard whispers of ‘energy spike’ from the scientists. Then he started on the hard part and completely tuned out the audience. He remembered stretching several times and being sore. He knew that his knees hurt and his hand was cramping. He was tripling up on all the sigils. He was making this Seal as strong as he knew how. He was in a zone. He could feel the building electricity and the power of the Seal. He was almost done.

He finished the last sigil like an exclamation point and nearly blacked out. (He would never do anything girly, like faint.) The wave of power flowed over him; the riptide dragged Dean out of the Seal and near one of the orange cones. In some back corner of his mind, he made note of it so that he could ask Bobby if anything like this had happened to him. Or maybe it was an Atlantis thing.

Scuttlebutt had it that Colonel Sheppard had long conversations with the city.

Untrue.

Huh?

A gift, is it not?

Dean grinned stupidly. Only a Winchester would consider a protective seal a good gift. Now his subconscious was chatting him up. Or he was chatting up his subconscious?

A tall silhouette blocked the light.

“Sammy?” Dean called out… croaked, really…

*

John Sheppard went through Dean Michael Winchester’s file again. He didn’t like what he saw. How much of this was true? How would he know?

Lorne walked into his office and quickly figured out the problem. “Winchester?”

“Yeah. What if he’s a sleeper agent?”

“A sleeper agent would come from someone other than O’Neill.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“’Cause the same person that sent Winchester out here, sent you.”

John found it hard to argue with that logic. O’Neill had figured out his character and potential in a short amount of time. Why couldn’t he do it for Winchester as well? “Why didn’t O’Neill tell anyone?”

Lorne rolled his eyes at that. “Sir. Did you spend any time with O’Neill?”

“Not much. He told me that my clearance was upgraded and then let me wander around an Ancient outpost.”

Lorne didn’t look surprised. “He didn’t tell anyone that he was letting you wander around the outpost that most governments don’t know about. Why did you agree with Weir that Winchester should paint around the Stargate?”

“It worked. Though if I’m not around Teyla or Ronon, I can half convince myself that I was imagining it. But it worked. I might not trust Winchester, but I’ll use him. I really like his explosives.”

“Understood and agreed.”

“But?” John prompted. He liked Lorne, he was a great 2IC. He trusted Lorne and the man did have the experience from the SGC. He would listen to the other man’s advice.

“You’re coming across like a certain original member of the expedition about you.”

“Sumner.”

“Yes, sir. Something to think about.”

John would consider it. In his own defense, John’s Air Force jacket had contained all of his flaws and positive attributes; Winchester’s jacket omitted vital parts. What was best for the people of Atlantis and the city herself? A search of Winchester’s room hadn’t turned up anything but it would be easy enough to hide something in a little traveled area of Atlantis. Not to mention that since part of Winchester’s job was to patrol the little traveled parts of the city, Winchester would be one of the very few in a selected area. “Just keep an eye on him. And especially visit his explosives lab as often as possible. I don’t like him being unsupervised so often.”

“I will.”

*

Dean awoke to a soft, incessant beeping. He opened his eyes to see the infirmary. Again. This might be his least favorite part of the city.

Oh, hell.

Dean sighed even as he started striping off all of the wires attached to his body.

“What do ya think you’re doing?” The Scottish accent was thick and perturbed.

Dean grinned, “leaving.”

“No, you don’t. We don’ know what happened to you to cause you to faint.”

“I didn’t faint,” Dean immediately argued.

“Of course not,” Dr. Beckett threw up his hands. “Marines don’t faint. They black out, lose significant amounts of blood… fall asleep standing, but they don’t faint.”

“Damn straight.” Dean threw off the last of the wires and swung his legs around. “I’m hungry. I’m leaving.” His stomach growled on cue.

Beckett looked thoughtful. “If all the energy readings that Rodney was griping over came directly from your body…”

“Whatever you’re thinking, doc, don’t. I’m just hungry after graffiti-ing the gateroom.” He was not about to become a damned experiment for McKay, if he wasn’t one already.

“If you can convert sustenance into energy fields… you must consume huge amounts of food, all high sugar.”

Dean didn’t want to think about that or what Ohlman and Pacosky would say if questioned about his diet. Bobby had once complained that Dean was really a Trickster with the amount of sugar he ate and the ideas and pranks he came up with.

Dean stood and was pleased with how few stars floated by his head. He was surprised that Beckett was helping him with a firm hand on his elbow. “No stupid orders to stay in bed?”

“If I am correct in my theory, you do need food. A lot of it and immediately. By assisting you to the mess hall, you’ll get it sooner than if we stood here arguing until I caved.”

Dean frowned. Contrary Winchester that he was, he really would have preferred it if the doc was trying to get him to stay in bed. He didn’t want them thinking that he was extra special or, heaven forbid, that he wasn’t even human.

“I will insist upon a wheelchair.”

“Do-oc,” Dean whined. “I’m not a damn invalid.”

Beckett fixed him with a stern glare. “If you don’t, I will tie you to that bed and send a nurse for healthy food. If you get in the chair, I’ll get you foods more to your liking.”

Dean sat in the wheelchair. “You don’t play fair, doc.” He paused. “Would it be a pretty nurse?”

“No, he wouldn’t be. I dinna like my patients undoing all my work as soon as they wake.”

“I’m not that bad.”

Beckett pushed Dean into the mess hall, which was humiliating beyond belief. If Pacosky saw him now…

Damnit. Pacosky was grinning at him like a loon, but there was a warning in his teammate’s eyes and Dean followed his gaze to where scientists were staring at him like lions eyeing a limping gazelle.

Damnit. “Hey, doc. I won’t be able to stay here long, will I?”

“Nay.”

“And I’m not healthy enough for any questions when I go back to the infirmary.”

There might have been a slight smile to the doc’s voice when he said, “Aye. I’ll protect ya from the aggressive scientists.”

Dean grunted. “Fifteen minutes?”

“You cannay eat all you need in fifteen minutes.”

“Watch me.”

“If you take less than twenty minutes, I’ll let them in the infirmary.”

Dean grumbled but said, “Deal,” loud enough to be heard. Beckett parked him next to Pacosky and went for a tray of food.

“Winchester,” Pacosky nodded. So his true name was well known around Atlantis now. Scuttlebutt was faster than a trip through the wormhole.

“Hey,” Dean watched him, but his teammate didn’t seem too upset about the alias ‘Michaels’ that he had used since Boot Camp. “Anything going on?”

“I’ve been debriefed three times since you hit the ground in such a girly fashion. They wanted to know if you’ve ever done something like that before.” The insult was instantly forgiven since Pacosky also handed over a candy bar that Dean quickly unwrapped and bit into.

“You’re my teammate, you were supposed to catch me,” he said with his mouth full.

“You didn’t warn me that you were changing sexes in front of everyone.”

“I wanted to be like you, bitch.”

“Ronon caught you when you suddenly went sight-seeing in your head.”

“So, I didn’t actually hit the ground… no thanks to you.”

“He’s looking for payment. Wants another sparring round.”

“Damnit. The doc’s not going to let that happen anytime soon.” Dean liked fighting the alien; it was a challenge, on par with fighting Sam since he became the size of Sasquatch.

“Neither am I.” The Marines turned to see John Sheppard join them at the table. A half step behind him was McKay, Zelenka, Ronon and Teyla. “I’ve got that list of places that need prettied up like only you can,” Sheppard reminded. His sharp eyes went from Dean’s pale face to the wheelchair he was sitting in. “How are you doing?”

They all hear a thud under the table, presumably someone getting kicked. “That wasn’t one of the questions I wanted you to ask,” McKay exploded.

Dead silence as the members of the premiere team stared at the outspoken doctor. “I mean… yeah, that’s important. How soon can he do another one? What?”

Dean was chuckling, trying to smother his humor a little. “As soon as I get out of the Marines, my goal will be to become as rude and obnoxious as you.”

“Yes, well, it helps if you’re always right,” McKay answered without thinking. “What?”

Sheppard ignored his friend and shook his head at Dean. “Don’t encourage him, we’ve finally gotten him to the point we can take him out in polite company.”

“Very funny,” McKay grumbled.

Beckett slid a tray full of food in front of Dean, who tossed away the empty wrapper and dug in. Beckett picked up the candy wrapper with a frown and glared at Pacosky, who had mastered an innocent look that always reminded Dean of a five year old Sammy.

Teyla spoke before any of the scientists could interrogate him and she, of course, was interested in knowledge of a more personal nature. “Where did you learn to paint that… what do you call your symbol?”

“It’s a seal,” Dean answered. “I watched it done when I was five and copied it a couple hundred times before I was eight. I think that was the first time I did it without looking.” A demon had followed Bobby home and he had been desperate.

“Who taught you?”

“A friend.” Dean’s eyes dared her to ask for more information. He had been very careful to never mention the names of the hunters that had helped raised him and Sammy. Several years of childhood had been spent more in the company of other Hunters than his father. Of course, Sammy and Dean had been enrolled in the Singer School for Hunters nearly every school break. Not that it was official or anything, but Sammy and Dean had saved up for Christmas presents for Bobby every year. Most years they had been in South Dakota to deliver them.

“Of your family?” Teyla didn’t back down- much, but she unknowingly opened a wound.

“Nah. Mom died when I was four and Dad could and would piss off anyone who couldn’t help him or who’s helping pinched his pride. So, more of a friend to me.” And to Sammy.

“That’s quite a tightrope,” Sheppard said.

Dean shrugged. “That’s the way he is.”

There was another thud under the table. Dean really liked it that McKay couldn’t directly ask the questions himself. He knew that McKay only followed the agreement because he didn’t want to turn over the four hundred dollars that he owed to a Marine. Dean was pretty sure that McKay rarely had had to pay money for being wrong and didn’t want to pay up against someone who didn’t even have a college education.

“Has anyone recorded you painting the seal before?” Zelenka asked.

“Nah. Why would they?”

“Did you pass out the other times you did it?” Ronon asked. He looked both serious and teasing. Dean was relieved that he hadn’t lost the tall man’s respect.

“Nope. But I never tripled up on it before.”

Zelenka tilted his head. “That makes it stronger?”

“Think so. Couldn’t hurt.”

“Are you planning to triple up the other seals on my list?” Sheppard asked.

“Wasn’t going to. Don’t have enough paint, for one. Also didn’t think they needed it.”

McKay kicked Sheppard and pointed at the computer in front of him. Sheppard was going to have a sore shin before this interview was over. “What all is in the paint?” Sheppard obliged.

Dean didn’t. “This’n’that. And most of it isn’t available out here. I’m going to have to order it from Earth.”

“Yeah, ‘bout that,” Sheppard leaned forward. “You mix it yourself or order it from a specialty store?”

“Either. Kinda. I was going to ask a friend to do it, ‘cause I don’t have the time and it’s another thing that really shouldn’t be interrupted.”

“You should make it here,” McKay blurted out. “When we analyzed the contents you left in the paint can, there was an ingredient we couldn’t identify.” And they probably got three of the ingredients wrong, but he wasn’t going to clarify for the scientists. Yeah, he could just imagine explaining grave dirt to McKay and Zelenka.

Dean took great pains in ignoring the genius. “Did anyone walk on the Seal? ‘Cause I was going to protect it.”

Sheppard shook his head. “Elizabeth- Dr. Weir noticed that you had a water resistant, clear topcoat sitting there and figured that you had planned on covering it to protect it from all the foot traffic. We thought about doing it ourselves but since you had a procedure for everything else, you get to do it as soon as Carson says you can. Weir wants it ASAP though.”

“Me too,” Dean agreed with the command. He looked down as his half-empty plate. He suddenly couldn’t eat any more. “Uhm, I had an extra paintbrush in my pants pocket?”

“It’s sitting on top of the can you left in the gateroom,” Ronon reported. “Everyone’s working around it.”

“Oh, good. I’ll do that next.”

“No, you won’t,” Beckett argued.

“It won’t tire me at all,” Dean told the doctor. “And it needs done.”

“If you don’t need to complete it yourself,” Teyla spoke, “I would be honored to follow your directions.”

Dean shrugged. He couldn’t think of a reason not to. The topcoat shouldn’t help or hinder the power of the Seal. “Why not?”

“Good,” Beckett and Sheppard chorused. Sheppard was already radioing Weir with the information; McKay was radioing his staff to gather the necessary monitoring equipment and meet in the gateroom.

“Did you have similar symptoms when you painted the seal on the ceiling?” Beckett asked. “Sheppard and the others reported that you had no such ill-affects when you made the seal on the hive ship.”

“Nah, the hive ship one was with a marker and the ceiling one, I kept having to stop so no one would catch me doing it. Quick and dirty, both of them. I should probably redo the one in the hall. And I normally don’t make Seals that big either, I just didn’t want there to be a way to avoid it when anything came through the gate.”

“’Preciate that,” Sheppard said.

Dean nodded. He was finished with the food and was more tired than he wanted to admit. He looked at the Athosian. “Let’s get it done.”

She nodded serenely and stood. Everyone else followed suit.

“Where’s my compass?” Dean asked suddenly.

“In the infirmary,” Beckett answered. “With the rest of your personal affects.”

“Actually,” McKay dug into his own pockets. “It’s right here.”

Dean nearly fell out of the wheelchair snatching the compass out of McKay’s hand. He checked it over and it seemed fine. “What did you do to it?” he demanded.

“Now I’m good enough to talk to?” McKay sniped.

“What. Did. You. Do?”

“Nothing… really. I just ran a couple tests on it. For being a compass, it has quite a bit of residual energy. What I don’t understand is how it would help you at all on a hive ship, it isn’t as if you can have a magnetic north in a place like that?”

Dean glared.

“I didn’t do anything destructive to it. The energy didn’t seem to dissipate while it was hooked up to the machine. As far as I can tell, it’s in the same condition as when you used it.”

Dean dropped the compass in his lap and whirl the wheelchair around and toward the ‘gate. Getting speed out of a wheelchair was like riding a bike; once Dean had learned how, he never forgot. He had learned how during races with his brother and he hated losing those. Dean hid his grin at leaving everyone else behind, or making them jog/run to catch up with him.

“He’s fast,” Dean heard Teyla mention.

“I’d imagine he learned how during one of the multiple incidents that he broke his legs. He has had quite a few bad breaks,” Beckett answered.

Damn loud mouth with the most advance scanning equipment available. There was a reason he had never made friends with doctors. That and every hunter that Dean had conned into taking him on a hunt had hated doctors as well. Even more, they hated having to return Dean to John Winchester in less than stellar condition, so Dean had visited more ER’s than he would have if he had hunted with his father regularly.

Dean wheeled into the gateroom and was suddenly subject to several pairs of staring eyes. Why had he agreed to paint the damn Seal in front of the stargate? Protection, right.

He was still rethinking that choice.

“Sergeant Winchester,” Weir greeted him. “It’s good to see you awake.”

“Yes’m,” Dean muttered even though he hated that she was reminding them all of him passing out in front of an audience.

The rest of the group stumbled in behind him. Was Dean imagining things, or was Weir smirking at the spectacle McKay was making of himself?

“Rodney, is your team ready?”

McKay huffed and puffed his answer. “Yes, they are. Or they should be. Where are they? I told them to get here.”

“We’re here,” some scientist Dean didn’t know spoke up, but she was pretty. Dean made note to introduce himself to her as soon as possible.

Teyla approached Dean with the water sealer jug in one hand and the paintbrush in the other. Dean was feeling lazy, so he handed the jug to Ronon. “Shake.”

Ronon accepted both the jug and the order without complaint.

Dean glanced at his wrist and realized that he didn’t have a watch. Glancing around to the others and Sheppard was already removing his and dropping it in Dean’s lap. Dean set the timer for three minutes and then set the breaks on the wheelchair. He stood slowly, but that didn’t stop Beckett from putting a hand under his elbow again. Dean yanked away (and didn’t regret it too much). “I’m fine.”

He waved to both Pacosky and Teyla. They followed him onto the platform. Dean checked the ‘compass,’ but he already knew where they would start. He positioned Teyla inside the main circle at 12o’clock. Pacosky, he put directly across from her.

He addressed his teammate first. “You’ll be pouring the stuff. A fine dribble in the middle of the line, but enough for her to cover both sides. Like you did for me when we were laying the firewall. Remember?” Pacosky nodded as expected, part of the reason that Dean had chosen his friend for this duty. “Ma’am, just brush it up and then down, all the way. We only have one chance at this. Don’t let it puddle, but have Pacosky give you more if you need it. He’ll fold it over in a steady stream. Don’t step on any of the painted sh…stuff yet. Stretch if you need to, ‘cause you’ll get a break after you finish the outline, but you’ll have to do the inner part all at once.”

“I am ready, Sergeant Winchester.”

She was much too formal for him. He had a sneaky feeling that she was doing it intentionally so that he would say, “Dean, or Winchester. Either’s fine.”

“And please call me Teyla.” She smiled at him and though her expression did not hold a hint of triumph, he still felt slightly manipulated.

Dean checked his watch. Forty seconds. Good. Dean approached Ronon with a hand out. He said thanks quickly as he took the jug and shook it himself for thirty more seconds. He also murmured a prayer a voodoo hunter had shared with him ten years ago. Mardi Gras in New Orleans: good times. When he had finished both shaking and the prayer, he handed the jug to Pacosky and stood back.

His wheelchair bumped the back of his calves in a not so subtle hint. Dean knew that he would never be able to see the end of the project if he stood the whole time. That didn’t mean that he would cave gracefully to Beckett. He grumbled as he sat and watched.

Teyla had the natural grace and rhythm to seal a Seal. She was in no way… lessened by being the only person on her hands and knees in the room. If she was self-conscious, it didn’t show. Pacosky was a good helper, had steady hands, was rarely impatient and was completely unruffle-able. All were good qualities if you were the person helping the explosives expert; Dean liked working with Pacosky.

Dean knew that he was not feeling as well as normal; he should be really antsy but he wasn’t. He hated waiting. He should be doing this himself, but he didn’t have the energy to take the paintbrush away from Teyla. Why was he so tired?

Pacosky and then Teyla completed the outer circle and looked to Dean for direction. He stood to offer it. “Start here,” at the top of the Seal, “and work your way backwards around. You’re covering it as in slices of pie. Pacosky will dribble enough of the sealer down for a ‘slice’ and step back, then Teyla will even it up and make sure all of the ‘slice’ is covered. Avoiding the art will be more of a challenge, but please don’t step on it if you can help it. Are you going to stretch now? ‘Cause you won’t get another pause.”

Teyla looked to Pacosky to answer. “Ma’am,” he said. “You’ve got the hard part. We go when you say go.”

“Perhaps a little stretching would assist,” she reluctantly admitted.

Dean waved her in the direction of a semi-empty hallway. “Don’t take too long,” he warned.

She nodded as she glided away.

Dean stood guard at the top of the seal and waited. Only when Teyla returned to the platform and began again did he sit in his chair. He was relieved to note that neither Teyla nor Pacosky were hurrying. They were just as concerned with their quality now as they were when they had begun.

Finally, they finished. Dean heaved a huge sigh of relief. “Ten more hours,” he told Dr. Weir. “Then anyone can tramp over it.”

“Understood Sergeant. Go rest.”

Beckett turned the wheelchair around and pushed Dean to the infirmary. This time, he didn’t complain as he was assisted back onto the gurney. He fell asleep immediately.

*

John Sheppard didn’t like being a suspicious bastard about the people under his command. The paranoia didn’t fit his personality. He didn’t like being compared to Sumner. He watched Winchester sleep and considered recent events. Winchester hadn’t had to paint the seal on the hive ship. If it hadn’t been for the stupid symbol on the ground, Winchester would have merely gotten another glowing recommendation in his file for his explosive experiments.

Winchester hadn’t balked at all at the idea of painting the seal around the Stargate. In fact, he had agreed without hesitation. John believed that the seal would help keep Atlantis safe. Winchester believed that it would help keep Atlantis safe. John weighed that knowledge against the secrets Winchester kept. They almost evened out on his mental scale.

Until further notice, John would keep an open mind, but he would have Winchester watched.

*

Comments

legio_felicia
Mar. 11th, 2012 11:54 pm (UTC)
Rereading this again, and Elisabeths comment struck me:

"She had been half afraid that he was Trust or something worse. He wasn’t even a life-long conman."

God she has no idea has she. :)
faithburke
Mar. 12th, 2012 02:06 am (UTC)
ha! I was snickering as wrote that line, I'm so glad that someone appreciated it.