Title: Force Protection
Author: Jilly James
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis with a bit of NCIS
Characters: John Sheppard, Rodney McKay, Tony DiNozzo
Genre: Drama, Fix-it
Prompt: John Sheppard
Word Count: 1,977
Warnings: No beta, death of a minor character.
Author Note: Fuck timelines.
Summary: John felt like he was suffocating under all the things gone wrong and his inability to do anything about it.
– – – –
John stared out over the water, wondering how much longer he could let the situation on Atlantis escalate. He felt like he was suffocating under all the things gone wrong and his inability to do anything about it.
Everything about the experiments on “Michael” were wrong. Ethics aside, they achieved nothing and created a security problem that was a complete nightmare.
He knew without looking who had joined him at the railing. “Have you decided what you’re going to do?” Rodney asked bluntly.
“I can’t continue to let her put the city at risk.”
“You could wind up court-martialed.”
“I know. But what else can I do?”
“I can’t believe the SGC didn’t listen to you. To us.”
John growled. Before Carson had begun the experiment, John had filed a formal complaint. Landry had still given the go-ahead despite John’s repeated objections. “Instead they sent us that…farce of an agent afloat.”
“He figured out who was taking the coffee from the labs,” Rodney said.
John looked over and glared. “I needed someone to verify that Weir is putting the expedition and even Earth at risk with her decisions. O’Neill showed just how much he cares by sending us that clown. I don’t really care that he figured out the coffee thefts.”
Rodney just shrugged. “Have you tried talking to him? Explaining your position?”
“Now why didn’t I think of that!”
It was Rodney’s turn to glare. “Don’t get bitchy with me, Sheppard!”
John huffed and glared at the water as if it were personally offending him. “Of course I talked to him. Repeatedly. He just kept yammering on about how life on Atlantis reminded him of some movie or another.”
“The movie references drive me crazy.”
The whole thing drove John bat-shit insane. An NCIS agent should be exactly what he needed but, instead, he got someone who made the situation worse, if that were even possible. “We have to get ‘Michael’ off the city. The experiment is a failure.”
“It’s not really a failure, per se.” Rodney halted at the heat of John’s glare.
“Daily treatments means it failed,” John snapped.
“Scientifically speaking, no it didn’t, but in any kind of practical way, yes, it’s a flop.” He nudged John’s shoulder. “You know I’ll back you. Just tell me what you want to do.”
“I’m not taking you down with me. If I have to forcibly take command of the expedition, I’d rather your hands stay clean.”
“We’re not having this discussion.”
Rodney’s look was mutinous and John settled in for an argument.
– – – –
In the end, they got Michael off of the city by virtue of the fact that he remembered who he really was and killed someone. Despite that, Carson and Elizabeth pressed to continue trying to refine the treatment, and Michael was moved to the alpha site. Not John’s first choice, but better than having him on the city.
Then John got word that Michael had broken free and taken Teyla hostage.
He and Ronon ran toward the ‘gate, desperately hoping to get there before Michael took Teyla off-world. John had no doubt that was the plan, and they couldn’t let it happen.
When the stargate was in sight, he nearly faltered, because their insane agent afloat appeared out of nowhere and suddenly put two rounds in Michael’s head. Even though he was stunned, John kept moving. By the time he and Ronon reached the ‘gate, there was also a squad of Marines securing the area. It only took John a beat to realize these were the Marines who rotated in with DiNozzo.
“What the hell is going on?” he asked, noting that Ronon was cutting Teyla loose and helping her to her feet.
Before DiNozzo could answer, Teyla was beside Michael. “You did not have to kill him,” she said stiffly. John knew her well enough to know she was trying not to be accusatory but, in this situation, there was no other interpretation.
“Yes, I did,” DiNozzo said with a fair amount of bite. John registered that the man’s demeanor was nothing like he’d seen over the last few weeks. The teasing and joviality were completely gone, and someone deadly and serious had taken his place. “Has a Wraith ever come back from a head shot?”
“What is going on here?” John demanded instead of answering the question.
“We’ll debrief when we’re back on Atlantis.” He looked at the first sergeant standing near Michael’s body. “Sergeant, as soon as Ms. Emmagan is through the ‘gate, take care of the matter we discussed.”
“Jumper?” John asked, realizing a cloaked jumper explained where all this manpower came from. “You coopted my people without my permission,” John gritted out.
“First Sergeant Harrison, who do you and your squad report to?” DiNozzo barked out.
The sergeant snapped to attention. “Supervisory Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo until such time as I am given new orders directly from Major General Jack O’Neill.”
John took that in. O’Neill had listened. “Well, this is going to be an interesting story,” he said dryly, wondering what the this meant for all of them.
As soon as Teyla was gone, John watched as Sergeant Harrison triple-zatted the remains, completely erasing the research.
– – – –
As soon as they cleared the ‘gate, DiNozzo’s Marines vanished into the city to carry out whatever orders they were operating under. The agent afloat told John to give him twenty minutes and then join him in Weir’s office. Teyla and Ronon were both sent to medical.
He cooled his heels in his own office, frustrated that he couldn’t figure out what had happened.
Five minutes before the meeting, McKay slipped into his office and shut the door. “Elizabeth and Carson are both under guard.”
John stared. “Are you fucking kidding me?”
“Aside from that, those Marines of DiNozzo’s have special authorization codes and locked down all research files. We need those!”
John held up a hand. “I know. But we need to find out what’s going on more. There’s something major happening, and yelling about research files is our last priority considering that there’s been a damn coup.”
DiNozzo’s voice came over his headset. “Colonel Sheppard, I’m ready for you. And since Dr. McKay is with you, might as well bring him along.”
“On our way,” John replied, willing the door open. “Come on. He’s asking for you too.”
When they entered Weir’s office, DiNozzo was sitting behind her desk going over paperwork. Like actual paper. Sergeant Harrison was standing in the corner of the office, watching everything closely.
“What’s with the paper?” Rodney asked.
DiNozzo glanced up then leaned back in the chair. He gestured for both of them to sit. “I thought it was the easiest way to sneak the information I needed in. You folks overlook paper. Weir had one of her pet spies in the science department hack my personal laptop, my fake orders… Frankly, anything digital was hacked. But the paper…” he trailed off and showed the front and back of the top sheet. “Some really bad Deep Six fanfiction on the front. Everything I needed on the back.”
“Needed?” John pressed.
“Landry was stopping most of your reports from getting to O’Neill,” DiNozzo said gravely, no hint of the idiot John had been enduring. “By the time you dial Earth again, Landry will have been removed. As soon as we get the word, Weir and Beckett will be going back to Earth.”
John and Rodney exchanged looks. “Clearly there’s a lot we don’t know,” he said, wondering how much DiNozzo was gonna tell him. Or were he and Rodney about to be under guard too.
DiNozzo nodded. “Caldwell got the reports to O’Neill because he was concerned about some of the decisions being made.”
“Caldwell?” Rodney echoed incredulously, and John agreed with the sentiment.
“Mm-hm. Landry and Weir have a different agenda. She had carte blanche to research and learn about ascension provided she kept certain experiments in progress and reported only to Landry. I was sent here to find proof and intervene if she put the expedition or Earth at grave risk. My cover was agent afloat. Which, I admit, hampered my investigation sometimes.”
John made a face. DiNozzo had been off-world, ordered so by Weir, when the Michael situation had gone to hell and one of John’s men had been killed on the city.
“When I got back to the city, you were all at the Alpha site. I detained Weir and brought part of my team in a cloaked jumper to monitor the situation. I planned to come find you and reveal everything, but then Michael escaped.”
“Why detain Carson?” Rodney asked.
“I decided Dr. Beckett is ill-suited to maintaining ethical research standards. Also, he’s lacking in the common sense I’d expect from a CMO. Dr. Madeline Gates will be replacing Dr. Beckett and will arrive on the Daedalus. Beckett will be given new orders.”
John’s brows shot up. He’d heard of her. Former Navy, somewhere in her fifties, complete hard ass. Good reputation.
Rodney started to defend Beckett, though it was half-hearted because they both knew Carson had crossed the line because he’d been allowed to.
Finally, DiNozzo waved him off. “I’m not here to negotiate. It’s done. I asked you here to talk about next steps.”
“Who will lead the expedition?” John asked.
“The charter requires a civilian lead,” DiNozzo said leadingly.
“Oh god,” McKay muttered.
“Don’t worry, Dr. McKay, you’re in the clear. They’re sending a new leader on the Daedalus, but until it gets here, I’m in command.”
“You?!” Rodney yelped, but John could kind of see it.
“The thing is,” DiNozzo continued like he hadn’t heard, “once the new leader is here, they’re going to be trying to put their stamp on things. It could be difficult to get some needed changes made.” He picked up the papers and started reading through them. “I see requests for more force protection support, beta site, additional military support, access to the Atlantis gate only from the beta site, mandatory weapons training for civilians…” he trailed off and glanced at them. “So many requests submitted to Dr. Weir. All reasonable, all denied.” He practically tossed the stack in John’s lap. “Mind the nasty fanfiction on the back. You’ll be scarred for life.”
“What are you saying?” John asked, trying to feel his way through the situation.
“Well,” DiNozzo began, propping his feet up on the desk and lacing his fingers behind his head, “I see myself as the absent-minded type of leader. If the military leader and the chief science officer were to, say, resubmit some requests, I might just approve everything without really paying attention—as long as they didn’t go crazy. If all the orders were complete or in process before my replacement arrived, it’d be too late for it to be stopped.”
“Are you telling us to fix the expedition?” Rodney asked, sounding stunned, again mirroring John’s own reaction.
“Oh, I’d never do that. I’m sure the two of you will only submit the absolute essentials. I won’t even have to read them, no doubt.”
“Are you really an NCIS agent?” John felt like they’d been given a gift, and he wanted to get started fixing the problems.
“I was,” DiNozzo replied. “Homeworld Security now. I fix things for Jack.”
“Things,” John repeated carefully.
He inclined his head then ushered a stunned McKay out of the office. They had some work to do.
– – – –
“We can do anything we want,” Rodney enthused as he looked up from going through his old requests that had all been denied by Weir or Landry.
“Not anything. We need to focus on stuff that’s going to give us the best chance of succeeding out here.” The computer chimed. John’s very first request for eighty additional military assets had been “accidentally” approved. He felt like he could finally breathe.
– – – –
Most of my short stories are prompt fills. As with my longer works, they are not up for adoption.