- Character Bashing
- Death-Minor Character
- Explicit Sex
- Alternate Universe
- Canon Divergent
- Established Relationship
- Science Fiction
Tony followed his escort back to his cell while projecting a calm, casual attitude. Unfortunately, the guards—jaffa as McKay called them, never loosened up. They were practically robots when it came to doing their job. Still, that wasn’t a reason to give up and break character.
“So, any chance for a little sightseeing tour while I’m out? No? I mean, I’m not sure how big your space ship is, but you would think you could at least find a different path between the cell and the dining hall.” Tony chattered on with inanities and questions that he knew would receive no answer.
They reached the cell door, and the guard opened it before giving Tony a shove to enter.
“And thank you for the enjoyable after-dinner conversation.” Tony smiled wide at the jaffa as the door closed.
“Why do you bother? They’re not going to respond unless ordered, so why waste your time?” McKay was snacking on some kind of dried fruit thing while reading material on a datapad.
“It’s not a waste. I’m building a persona here. Putting them at ease with my compliance and easy-going attitude. Trying to get them to drop their guard.” Tony cracked his neck at McKay’s snort. “I’m playing the long game here, McKay.”
“Teal’c is a jaffa who has worked with the SGC for years. Relax and drop his guard are not words in his vocabulary. You’re better off teaching a pig the principles of aeronautics. It’s just the way things are. Goa’uld are dedicated to power, and complete obedience through their fake godhood and the Jaffa are indoctrinated from birth that they exist to serve their gods. Your long game won’t change that level of cultural indoctrination.” McKay waved around the stick like blue fruit thing as he talked.
“You see, you denigrate the soft sciences, then you throw around terms like cultural indoctrination,” Tony quipped. He smirked unrepentantly as McKay flipped him off. He let the brief amusement roll through him before considering McKay’s words. “Peitho isn’t like that.” Tony shivered. “He is very personable and smooth. It’s seriously creepy to play at pleasant dinner conversation while knowing that I’m really talking to some kind of head snake. And, how come you get sent to bed with snacks and reading material while I have to stay out there and play nice with the sinister alien?”
McKay winced and looked a little green. “He likes you. Well, the snake likes you. I mean, you’re likable enough in the fluffy-haired-puppy sort of way. But you look like—well, like some GQ cover model, you can keep up with him on almost any conversation, and you have the ATA gene in spades. Isn’t it obvious?”
Tony just shook his head because he still hadn’t assimilated everything in McKay’s Fucked Up New World lessons.
McKay stared at him until Tony was becoming seriously twitchy. Obviously, he had missed something major. “He’s planning on taking you as his next host.”
Tony jerked. “Oh, hell no. He has a host already.”
“Sure, but you’re basically an upgrade. A newer, younger model with a shiny new gene.” McKay grimaced.
“That is seriously the scariest, most fucked up thing that anyone has ever said to me.” Tony sat down and went back through all of his interactions with Hendley/Peitho. Damn. McKay was right. Peitho was playing with him. Grooming him. “Tell me the truth, McKay. How screwed are we?”
“Bent over without lube. The moment they removed my transponder, it became twenty times more difficult for my people to find me. Not even being on the planet? They won’t even have a clue we’re gone. If I could get a signal out then, eventually…maybe. But, everyone is super vigilant on this ship.” McKay held up the datapad he was reading. “They haven’t missed a step. I figure our best hope at this point is to see if they drop their guard, and we get a chance to access the stargate on this world we’re going to.”
“You said there’s one of these stargates on Earth, and you know the address, right?” Tony asked and then continued when McKay nodded. “So we make it to the stargate, and we can just dial Earth and go to your Stargate Command. That’s the plan?”
McKay winced. “No, you can’t go straight to Earth. There’s a shield over the gate to keep the goa’uld or whoever out. You have to send a code to the SGC, so they open the shield. We’re compromised, so even if I had a way to send my code, they wouldn’t open the shield. We’ll head to one of the beta sites for help. They can send us home.”
Tony felt so unprepared for this. “I need to know how this whole system works. If something happens, then I need to be able to make a move.” Tony looked up to see McKay’s brow furrow deeply as his mouth twisted, and his face fell. Aww, Hell. Tony walked over and sat down next to McKay. “We’re together in this. I’m not an asshole who would leave you behind to save my own butt. You’re the expert out here, but you’re also a civilian. Doesn’t matter where we are; it’s my job to protect civilians. I’m not leaving without you, but I need to know what to do if you’re incapacitated.”
McKay relaxed and stared at him. “Are you sure you’re not a Sheppard?”
Tony just grinned. “How long have you and Sheppard been together?”
“He joined the SGC just before we left for Atlantis.”
“Sure, you said. But how long have the two of you been together?”
“Why would you think…” He trailed off when Tony gave him the look.
Tony could tell when someone was deeply entrenched in the closet, and that wasn’t McKay. But the man had worked with the military most of his career to hear him speak, so it was probably more of a situational closet. Tony had learned the hard way what happened when these things became known in law enforcement, so he could appreciate a little hesitation to share. “There’s a look in your eyes when you talk about him. When your life depends on watching for tells, it’s easy to see. You cover it well by all the gruff, but I do this for a living. So, come on…spill. DADT has been gone for four months.”
McKay huffed. “Oh, yes. Your country’s latest attempt to catch up with enlightened societies. Fine. I won’t say there wasn’t instant mutual attraction, but John’s position in the military was always a little too precarious to take the chance. And, contrary to most opinions, John never crossed that line, even when the SGC removed the rule from the Expedition’s Charter.”
Tony could understand that. “OK, but that was before the change in the UCMJ. Is he worried about discrimination if he comes out? Because I can’t see you having the patience to wait if it’s not necessary.”
“Seriously…how do you know this?” McKay stared at him a moment while Tony just raised and lowered his eyebrows at him repeatedly. “Alright, fine. Yes. The day we got the notice, I broke up with Jennifer, our CMO. Then kissed John in the middle of the Gateroom.”
Impressive, Tony thought. McKay didn’t seem the type for the grand gesture. “Bold move. And his response?”
“He took the day off, and we had sex in a jumper in space.” McKay smiled with a wonderfully satisfied look as he was obviously remembering.
“Go you. How did the girlfriend react?”
“See, that’s what I don’t understand. She was pissed. I mean, I thought everyone on base knew she was our beard. For some reason, Jennifer had already picked out engagement rings or some shit. She’s been all passive-aggressive with me ever since.”
“Well, you did publicly dump her to run have space sex. Ohhh, space sex. Was that like zero-G?” Tony leaned over to nudge McKay’s shoulder with his own.
“Get your mind out of my gutter, DiNozzo.”
Gibbs arrived at the Navy Yard a full hour before his team was due to arrive. He had argued with himself on Sunday. Half of him wanted to shove his retirement papers up Vance’s ass. The other half knew that his only hope of ever finding out what happened to DiNozzo was to be here when and if the man ever called for help.
His gut said DiNozzo was in deep trouble, but still alive out there. And if he knows anything, he knows that DiNozzo is fully capable of getting himself out of any trouble he can get himself into. So here he is in the last place he wants to be today, backing up his partner the only way available to him at the moment.
The first thing he did was clear out DiNozzo’s desk. When Tony comes back his mighty-mouse stapler will be safely packed away for him. He hesitated a moment and then opened the bottom desk drawer to pull out the stack of awards that DiNozzo had accepted on his behalf. Gibbs smiled and added them to Tony’s box as well.
After he had stored everything in his car to take home that evening, Gibbs stopped by his usual coffee shop to pick up a couple of refills. This was the other thing he had considered: his plan of attack. Right now all his potential sources were avoiding him like the plague. Hounding them wasn’t going to get a response. So, he needed to play with his food. Do the unexpected, act out of character, and eventually they will come sniffing around to see what he’s up to.
He watched until he saw Vance’s car arrive then headed back. He was in the building and sitting in Vance’s office when the man arrived. Gibbs watched with concealed amusement as the Director turned on the lights, hung up his jacket, and turned to put his briefcase on his desk before noting Gibb’s in the visitor’s chair. It was amazing that the man didn’t swallow that toothpick.
“Leon.” Gibbs took a sip of his coffee to hide the smile. Vance had expected him to come storming up into the office after everyone got here, but he wasn’t going to do it. Storming the gates wasn’t going to get him a response to his demands, so he was going to kill them with compliance. It would drive Vance crazy, trying to figure out what he was up to. Double win.
“I’m…surprised to see you here so early.” He tried to casually finish his actions, but the jerky movement showed Gibbs had drawn first blood.
Gibbs gave him an innocent look. “Ready to start the day.”
Vance’s eyes looked like they were about to pop out of his head at that friendly tone.
Gibbs decided it was the little enjoyments in life that would keep him going today. “You said you would have some TADs for me to chose from.”
“Yesss. You’re accepting a TAD? No argument?” Vance carefully sat down and ran his hands along his desk drawers.
Gibbs grinned through another drink of coffee. As if he had tried to get into Leon’s desk. He paid attention to where the man’s hands and eyes hesitated longest. Always good to know where the important files where hidden.
“OK, I have three files to chose from.” Leon unlocked his right-hand drawer and pulled out the folders. He hesitated only a moment before handing them over.
Gibbs flipped through them quickly. He was already aware of which agents were available for assignment in the area, but needed to know who Vance would offer. Walt Brently was an intelligent young man, but his history was too heavily entrenched in white-collar crimes to be a good fit for the MCRT. Besides, there was a note that he was only available three weeks before his next assignment out of San Diego. He put it aside.
Philomena Sands was ex-Navy, spoke three languages, and had spent part of her last assignment on a joint task force with local law enforcement. The recommendations from Mayport, FL PD showed she worked well with them. She was more than qualified for the promotion to SFA when a position became available.
Internally Gibbs relaxed when he opened the last file. He had been hoping for this. Mike Williams was coming off a two-year assignment on the Truman as Agent Afloat. He had seen combat in the Marines and was discharged at the rank of Captain. The transfer note in the file indicated he had been married for less than a year and was requesting stateside assignment due to the impending birth of his first child. More importantly, he was a solid investigator with stellar leadership skills.
“I’ll take Sands and Williams.” He handed the files back to Vance.
“You only have one position to fill.” Vance opened them side by side as if trying to see what it was Gibbs was looking for.
“I’m doing my job. I’m not causing waves. But I meant what I said about not sending anyone out into the field with McGee and David. You want them to stay on the team? Fine. But it’s my choice how I run my team and how I use them. I won’t allow anyone to take the risk of them turning off their comms because they don’t like to listen to someone doing their job.” Gibbs drank the last of his coffee and stood up.
“I want Williams as my SFA. Sands will be his partner in the field. Between the two of them, they have most of what DiNozzo brought to the table. Would probably have to hire three or four people to get it all.” Gibbs turned and headed for the door, the beginnings of a smile showing on his face.
Vance’s voice behind him didn’t make him hesitate or turn. “How do you plan to use McGee and David?”
“Well, I figured you’re supposed to be traveling off and on the next month. I’m assigning them for your security detail.” As he swung the door shut, he allowed the smile to grow.
McGee and Ziva were at their desks before Gibbs returned from his latest coffee run. He knew they had received the same orders he had regarding Tony. McGee looked like he had been sick all weekend. Good. Ziva, on the other hand, looked relieved and superior. He was going to take pleasure at chipping that away.
He carefully put away all urges for murder and picked up a box of files from behind his desk. Gibbs placed it on the corner of McGee’s desk. “Cold Cases. I’ll get you more when these are finished.”
“More, Boss?” McGee asked quietly.
“Do you have a hearing problem, McGee? Maybe you need to use headphones so you can turn up the volume?” Gibbs saw him swallow hard and bit back another retort. “Get to work. As soon as our new people are here, we’re back on rotation. If we get a callout, the two of you will be working from the office. The Director has meetings on the Hill this afternoon, and you two are on his security detail.”
He just glared at them when it looked like they were going to speak again. He noticed the glances they exchanged as they picked up files to work. The aborted stares at Tony’s empty desk were telling.
Gibbs just worked on his reports for the next hour until his two TADs arrived. He stood as they were escorted to the bullpen together. He reached out to shake hands, “Agent Sands. Agent Williams. It’s good to meet the two of you.”
“Agent Gibbs, I’m glad to get the chance to work with you.” Agent Williams spoke first. “There are stories around the fleet.”
“I bet.” He motioned toward the empty desk across from him and bit back the urge to pull the man away from Tony’s spot. “Please, drop your gear here. This will be your desk. Agent Sands, yours is on the opposite side of the divider. I have a request to have it moved, but that’s waiting on building services.”
“No problem, Agent Gibbs. And feel free to call me Sands or Mena. Never Philomena, please.” She stepped around to the other side and came back with just her folio in hand a few moments later.
Gibbs took the time to glare McGee and David into submission and preemptive silence, before turning back with a smile to the new agents. “If you could come this way. I have a conference room ready to get you up to speed.”
He led them to his reserved room and checked as he entered that the speakerphone and video camera were both still unplugged. He wouldn’t put it past McGee to try to tap into the system to snoop.
Williams looked at Gibbs as he took a seat and then reached out to run a finger along the phone cord. “So, Gibbs, before we get started, can you clear up some rumors about DiNozzo?”
Sands pushed her pen and paper away from her hands then stared at Gibbs with a serious expression.
“What do you need to know?” Gibbs put his hand under the table to make a fist.
Sands traded looks with Williams before starting. “The rumor mill briefly exploded and then imploded, and nothing is coming out of this office. First we hear that DiNozzo was missing, then something about it being a mistake. He’s not here, so what can you tell us?”
“Officially, DiNozzo is on loan to another agency for an op. Unofficially, that is all I’m allowed to tell you.” Gibbs narrowed his eyes in thought, watching them process that.
Sands looked angry, and Williams just briefly sad. It was good to know that the two of them could extrapolate the consequences of those few sentences. DiNozzo had mentioned the two of them once or twice, and while Gibbs didn’t remember details, it was always positive where it counts. It’s the problems with the secrets they keep, DiNozzo has contacts everywhere.
Williams nodded slowly and then showed his intelligence by letting it drop, “What do you expect from us?”
“Do your job. Until further notice, you’re my SFA.”
“I’ve heard rumors about how this team is run. I respect your skill and your record, but I’m a little more by the book. Is that going to be a problem?” Williams looked ready for a fight.
Williams just raised an eyebrow and waited.
Gibbs leaned forward. “We work together. We solve the cases. I like things done my way, but you’re free to make your mark.”
“And when it comes to the rest of your team?”
Gibbs grimaced because he hated to lay that out on anyone, especially when he couldn’t tell them why. “You both have higher ratings and more time in service at higher positions than either of them. They don’t get a say.”
Williams looked at Sands, “You got any questions?”
Sands made a face. “A couple dozen, but I think I will just get the brick wall if I ask. So, for now, just one question. If you were only replacing one person, why did you request both of us?”
“You’re both due promotions. You are due for SFA, and Williams should be looking for a supervisory position, not SFA. If he can get one, he’ll need an SFA he can trust. Prove you can work together while Vance is watching.” Gibbs looked to see if she understood, it was hard to tell. He motioned to the door. “Why don’t you go get settled in? And remember, you don’t answer to them.”
She nodded and left, closing the door behind her.
Williams waited until the door was secure before glaring at Gibbs. “Not answering to them isn’t enough. The rumors were much more damning. Why are they still on your team?”
“Because officially, nothing happened. You want to get those two off the team, wait for them to give you a reason you can take to Vance.” Gibbs shrugged. It had been made clear that there were no reasons that request would be entertained if coming from himself.
Williams shook his head. “I worked with DiNozzo a couple times when he was afloat. He didn’t pull punches when he talked about you. Do you want to tell me the real reason you asked for me?”
“Tony respected you when you worked together. It takes a lot to earn that respect, and I trust his instincts. The MCRT has a job to do, and I need someone trustworthy to see that it gets done. I know my duty, but between just us I could care less right now. My focus is protecting Tony, no matter which way I need to do it. When I get him back, and I will get him back, my job here will be done.”
Williams raised an eyebrow while giving Gibbs a half-smile. “You’re offering me your job, Gibbs? Last I checked, you weren’t the person around here who could offer that position.”
“Maybe. You’re on Vance’s radar. He didn’t approve your reassignment from a ship in the Pacific just to move you to D.C. without a plan. I figure there are a few old-timers up for retirement in the next two years. Most of them don’t have someone ready to take over. He’s probably planning to move you into place in one of the more visible slots, but most of them will be a waste of your skills. So, prove to him you can do this job. I’ll sit back and let you and watch them lose their minds wondering why.” Williams shook his head, and Gibbs just grinned, happy that the man’s file had been on the list.
He sobered quickly and stared, thinking about how to word it without stepping over that invisible line. “I want you to remember that on this team, you and Sands are partners. When you go out into the field, you need to trust each other. Be careful who else you trust.”
Williams looked at him, concerned, before cocking his head to the side in consideration and then nodding. He stood up and waited for Gibbs to join him. “Thank you for your welcome, Gibbs. I think we can work well together.”
Gibbs led him back to the bullpen and got the team’s attention. “Everyone, this is SFA Mike Williams. He’ll be my second on the team until further notice. Over here is Agent Mena Sands. You can get to know one another on your own time. For now, Agent Williams, get yourself settled in. When you and Sands are ready, call down to our dispatcher and let them know we are back in rotation.”
Gibbs watched the expressions McGee and David were trading for a moment before grabbing his weapon and heading out to the coffee shop. He needed to give Williams some room to smack them down with a newspaper when the two of them tried to push for info.
Tony shivered as the ship left hyperspace and entered orbit above a beautiful, clear world. He would almost call it earth-like, though the single continent he could see was humongous. He imagined it was something like Earth would have been if the continents hadn’t split. It was deceptively inviting after the time spent on the ship.
He and McKay had been escorted to the…well, bridge? Tony wasn’t certain what they called it. But they were brought here thirty minutes ago to see their arrival. Peitho was as charming as ever. He treated them more like friends and partners than like prisoners at times like these. Though his temper was mercurial, and he could have guards putting you on your knees at a moment’s notice.
Right now, Peitho had come up between them and had his arms wrapped around their shoulders in a casually friendly pose. It took every undercover skill Tony had ever mastered to not shudder away from the interaction. Since McKay had pointed out that Peitho was sizing him up as a potential host, he had dreaded every touch.
“Just look at it. So much potential in such an unremarkable place. There are rich mineral sources as far as the eye can see. The asteroid belt in this system is rife with riches that the Ancients barely touched. It is almost as if they set up this entire place for automation and then left without turning it on. Fabulous and frustrating in one, given that so few are found with the ability to operate the systems.” Peitho hugged them both briefly before releasing them and walking toward the center of the space.
“Not to worry, though. With the two of you here, I’m sure we will make wonderful work of it all. I can’t wait to see what you are capable of accomplishing. With the right incentive, of course.”
The jaffa shoved Tony and McKay into place near Peitho, and the ring transporters dropped into action. Tony quickly shaded his eyes as the brighter than normal sun flooded the landscape. By the cursing under his breath beside him, McKay was doing the same. Peitho seemed unaffected by the change. As for the jaffa, who could tell?
They walked toward a ground vehicle that looked like some cross between a Star Wars land speeder and a golf cart. It was all shiny metal and bizarre. But Tony happily climbed aboard because the gravity was just enough over Earth-normal to be noticeable. Tony was not looking forward to the inevitable health issues.
The vehicle shot forward across the open land toward what looked like the base of a large hill, or very small mountain. There were signs of recent excavation in the area, but as they approached, doors slid open, and they entered an underground structure.
The vehicle entered a lift, and it started going down. Tony didn’t know if it was his imagination and things were feeling lighter, or if he was just adjusting quickly to the gravity. The lift passed through metal and rock to emerge in what appeared to be a massive man-made cavern. It was so big he couldn’t see the other end, but what was visible was a sci-fi movie on steroids. The best CGI out there couldn’t create something this fantastical.
It was alien and yet aesthetically beautiful in a way the goa’uld’s ship had not been. And mixed with the other-worldly, there was a feeling of welcome and excitement and warmth and need and…McKay nudged him and frowned harshly.
Tony nodded in understanding. McKay had explained about Ancient technology and how it would try to interact with people, but Holy Hannah. This was a mind fuck. He thought about creating a wall between himself and the tech. Then his mind flashed over to Harry Potter occlumency lessons, which in retrospect wasn’t a good idea because that made him think of Death Eaters, and snakes, and the fact that Voldemort would probably have been one of the best and worst hosts for a goa’uld.
And besides, Snape just used the lessons to torture the kid, which was completely horrific and seriously detracted from trying to portray the character as this ultimate tragic hero at the end. Why he allowed himself to get sucked into that pit after it showed teachers and government employees taking sexual pleasure out of torturing kids was completely unknown. Frankly, he had found his dedication to completing the experience appalling.
It took a moment for Tony to realize it, but the stream of movie trivia consciousness had succeeded in divorcing him from the pull of the technology. It was like it gave him something to hold onto that was just Tony. Just himself without anything pressing down on him from outside.
They were nearing a ship…an actual space ship that appeared to be resting gently in a cradle that supported it for work. It looked new and pristine as if it had just rolled out of the factory. It was all shiny metal in a shape and pattern that seemed to imply speed and power. Something beautiful, but that hinted at deadly. Around the ship was an energy field. Strangely Tony got an impression of something sleeping deeply within.
They stopped and got out at a balcony that allowed one to look out over the ship. It was embedded with a range of equipment that seemed to do everything from monitor to analyze to control the ship. It was all turned off, though it obviously had power flowing through it. Obviously, because someone had torn apart one of the monitors for no obvious reason.
Peitho stepped forward to look. “Isn’t it beautiful, Doctor?”
“Um, yes. It is impressive. Can I…May I? What I mean is, can I look at the equipment?” McKay stumbled, obviously chomping at the bit to figure out how it worked.
“Of course, Doctor. That is what you’re here for.” Peitho grinned and leaned forward to watch as McKay hopped from one system to another while making sounds that ranged from disgruntled to joyful to strangely sex-like.
Tony felt the tendrils of something brushing against his mind again and firmly pushed back. The last thing he needed was that distraction right now. At that thought the feeling receded, and Tony wondered if it was responding to his desire.
They were there for at least half an hour before they returned to the vehicle and were taken into a residential hall for a meal. Tony had noted since he had been with the goa’uld that his people were very tuned to McKay’s dietary requirements.
As usual, the meal was filled with pleasant conversation and no talk of the work for which they were present. Once they were finished, they retired to the lounge. Peitho was in a great mood, while McKay’s had been rapidly degenerating throughout the meal.
“So, Doctor, what do you think of my Ancient Warship?” His eyes shined briefly on the word Warship.
“Well, yes, it is impressive. However, it was unfinished before the Ancients ascended. It was clearly a proof of concept design and never intended for functioning in a…” McKay trailed off as the smile faded from Peitho’s face.
“Now, Doctor. This relationship won’t work without complete honesty on both our parts. I may not be fluent in Ancient, but I can understand enough to know that ship was intended for heavy combat.”
“Be that as it may, it is still unfinished. The Ancients put it in stasis and stopped all production when they abandoned Pegasus. The last entries in their database are dated not long after they left Atlantis at the bottom of an ocean. After this much time, you know it may not be possible to fix it.” McKay jutted his chin up.
“Another lie, Doctor. That stasis field has left the ship pristine. It is as it was the day they walked away from it. All we need is for you to bring down that field, and we will be able to assess what is needed to make the ship operational. It will be mine. And you, Dr. McKay, will make it happen.”
McKay’s eyes darted around, and he paled drastically before squaring himself and standing tall. “No.”
“Excuse me?” Peitho’s voice didn’t modulate from its pleasant tone, and yet something about it made the hair stand up on the back of Tony’s neck.
Peitho snapped his fingers, and a servant ran forward with that glove thing on a pillow. The goa’uld slipped it on while he started speaking to McKay. “You are obviously under the impression that you have a choice here, Dr. McKay. And while you are correct in that I am loathed to damage you, there are many ways in which I can impress upon you my power in this situation.”
Tony watched and calculated his chances to get between McKay and Peitho. Unfortunately, he did not need to worry. He saw the look of terror on McKay’s face a moment before Peitho turned and reached out his hand toward Tony. The eyes glowed, and light brought crashing pain upon him. He fell to his knees.
“Stop. If you want to hurt someone, hurt me. Tony has nothing to do with this.” McKay’s shout rang out.
The reverberation from the goa’uld’s voice echoed through his skull with the pain, “I assure you, McKay, Agent DiNozzo has everything to do with this.”
“I’ll do it. Just stop!”
“Let’s make sure this object lesson lasts, shall we. I’m certain Agent DiNozzo would not like for you to have to repeat it.”
The pain exploded and overwhelmed his senses, the only sound he could hear was the screaming, and he realized it was his own as he felt his nose and eyes gush blood and his lungs seized. Then he heard no more.
Tony awoke on a pillow-soft bed with silky sheets running across his bare chest. He sat up quickly and allowed the sheets to slide off the bed. A choked sob was his only notice before arms wrapped around him, and he felt McKay drag him in for a hug.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t think Peitho would go after you.” McKay hugged one last time before releasing and sitting back.
Tony patted him on the shoulder before running a hand over his own face. “What was that? I thought I was dying.”
Tony dropped his hand and stared at McKay. “Excuse me.”
“He killed you and then used his sarcophagus to bring you back and heal you.”
“Yeah. I had to agree to work on the ship before he would put you in it.” McKay looked so guilty.
Tony suddenly understood. “I’m grateful to be back, but we can’t let him have that ship…can we?”
“No. We can’t allow Peitho to get his hands on that ship once it’s fully functional. Earth’s got nothing to match it. The only thing that’s remotely close is Atlantis. This ship’s got all the potential of Atlantis in a much smaller package. I think it was originally designed for science, but the Ancients altered it for war.” McKay sighed. I can’t let him have it.
“I understand. McKay.” Tony sighed because they were way past last names now. “Rodney. If he does this again, you need to let me go. I can’t…I can’t let him use me against you. Not with the number of lives at stake.”
McKay poked Tony in the chest. “No. You don’t get to run out on me that way, DiNozzo. We just need a new plan. We pretend to work on his ship and find a way to destroy it. Then we high tail it to the stargate and leave this rock alone.”
Tony stared back into Rodney’s eyes and nodded slowly. “Ok, we have a plan. Pretend, sabotage, escape, and evade. Whatever it takes.”