Rating: PG-13, gen
Summary: Pegasus is full of evil things and Sheppard is good at finding them.
Word Count: 2,863
Disclaimer: Not mine
Warnings: Um, would spoil the story. Not character death or rape or anything.
John Sheppard woke up nestled in a bed of long grasses, a field pillow shoved under his head and his sleeping bag lying next to him. He was baffled, at first, about why he wasn’t inside of the sleeping bag. It was evening, the sky a dark blue and the ground cool and moist enough that it had soaked through his clothes. He was chilly, his skin clammy and wet.
That didn’t really help.
Sheppard did the next logical thing and tried to sit up. That was how he discovered that moving was a really, really bad idea and that he was incredibly nauseated. Sitting up didn’t work; he ended up on his belly, stomach flipping until he gave in and emptied it into the grass. His vomit was thin and watery, and it didn’t make him feel any better.
He must have made some noise, because suddenly he heard voices and realized he wasn’t alone.
“You are supposed to be watching him!” It was a woman’s voice. For a second he thought it was Teyla, but the tone was too deep and angry.
“I am!” The other person was a male, and not McKay or Ronon as much as the woman was not Teyla.
Hands grabbed his shoulders and tried to roll him back over. Sheppard resisted, mostly because he didn’t know who the voices belonged to, but also because moving was definitely going to make him throw up again.
“Put him on his side,” said a third voice, another man and still not McKay or Ronon.
Sheppard dug his hands into the wet earth as fingers closed around his upper arms and rolled him sideways. He stomach rolled, too, and he was gagging again.
“Oh, eww.” The guy that had been admonished for not watching him wasn’t a big fan of vomit.
Sheppard blinked, blearily trying to locate the owners of these voices and figure out what the hell was going on.
The one that had turned him over was kneeling at his side, shirt pulled up over the bottom half of his face. That was the first thing Sheppard noticed. The second thing he noticed was that the guy was wearing McKay’s BDU’s. Sheppard froze, eyes fixed on the Canadian flag on the sleeve.
“Can you not throw up on me again?” Asked the guy wearing McKay’s clothes. “This is my last clean pair of pants.”
Sheppard moved his hands to his waist, searching for his hip holster. It wasn’t there. His stomach flipped again, less about nausea and more about the fact that he was unarmed.
“Do you want some water, John?” It was the woman, and a second pair of knees appeared by his face. Slowly, Sheppard raised his eyes upwards, knowing the moment he saw the black pants what he was going to see.
In Teyla’s clothes, she looked a lot like her. She even had red hair, but it wasn’t the right color. It was too dark and too long. Her skin was too gray and her face was too square. When she smiled down at him, she had too many teeth.
Sheppard tried to say something, but his voice was thick and choked. A canteen was shoved in front of his lips.
“Perhaps you should just rinse,” the woman pretending to be Teyla said.
He sure as hell wasn’t going to drink anything she gave him. She held the canteen in place, pushing the opening between his lips and angling it so the water rushed out. He raised a hand to push it away, surprised and not too happy to find out his reflexes were slow enough that she’d already taken it away when the water started spilling out of his mouth. He swished and spat, trying to keep from swallowing any of it.
Ronon had an impostor, too. Sheppard found him standing behind the other two, peering down. He was the worst of the three. Definitely shorter than the real thing, and the hair was all wrong. It looked like a wig. And his skin was the same strange gray as the fake Teyla’s. But he was wearing Ronon’s clothes. And he had Ronon’s weapon. There was only one way to get Ronon’s gun away from him. Fuck.
“Help me sit him up.” The woman started to lift him.
Fake Ronon was as strong as the real one, though. And Sheppard’s reflexes were still total shit; he brought his arms up to shove the man away and accomplished absolutely nothing. They propped him up against the base of a nearby tree. The movement made his head spin terribly. When it stopped, he had to throw up again.
“I’d say not.” The impostor was trying to imitate McKay’s squeamishness, the shirt still up over his face and staying at a slight distance.
They’d drugged him. Drugged him and replaced his team with these close-but-no-cigar duplicates. Or maybe they’d hit him in the head.
The woman gave him more water. It cleaned his mouth, and he spat it out on to her boots. The real Teyla would have glared at him, but this one didn’t even notice. She pressed the palm of her hand against his forehead.
“He is cooler,” Teyla said. Except she wasn’t Teyla, and he had to remember that. They wanted him to be confused. He had to call her something else, had to keep reminding himself they weren’t his team.
“You’re not Teyla,” he whispered to the woman.
“What did you say?” She hadn’t caught that, possibly it had come out as an unintelligible whimper.
Her hand felt warm against his head. Too warm. The longer it stayed, the hotter it got. His thoughts were slow and muddled, but finally it occurred to him that she was doing something to him. Maybe she could reach into his head like a Replicator. Frantically, he tried to bat her hand away and missed entirely. He saw his own arm blur in front of his eyes, coming down uselessly on the other side. When he went to try again, it was too late. She’d removed her hand and rocked back on her heels.
“He’s not better,” Ronon said, still looming over them with his ridiculous fake dreads.
Rodney finally pulled his shirt collar from over his mouth. The face was all wrong. It wasn’t Rodney at all, just eerie twisted gray features. If Sheppard could have moved he’d have jerked away.
“How is it there’s anything left in his stomach?” Rodney said. “We shouldn’t have stopped.”
“He would not sleep while being carried,” Teyla said, tiredly.
“So?” The creature did have some of Rodney’s mannerisms. “If he’s going to try to asphyxiate himself, we shouldn’t let him sleep. Let’s go.”
“Okay,” Ronon said. “You carry him.”
“No thanks, already got my daily vomit bath. You aimed him at me.”
“No I didn’t.” It lied exactly like Ronon. The impersonation was too close, too creepy coming from this grotesque imitation of his friend.
“Stop it,” Teyla said. She leaned closer to Sheppard, the caricature of Teyla’s face looming close to his. “Do you think we can travel again, John?”
He wanted her to back off. The proximity of that twisted, familiar face made his heart pound, his stomach churn.
“Where we going?” he managed to ask, even though his revulsion had to be obvious. Maybe he could pretend to be truly disoriented, pretend he was too sick to tell the difference.
“The Prom, Sheppard,” Rodney snapped. “Where do you think we are going? We’re trying to get you back home before you vomit up a kidney or something.”
“I wanna stay here,” he said, miraculously managing to draw his legs up against his chest without throwing up. He had no idea how long they’d been here, how long until Sam would send a rescue team.
Teyla exchanged looks with the other two. Maybe they could communicate that way, because Ronon abruptly sat down.
“I’m not sure we should let him vote,” Rodney said.
Sheppard wasn’t sure how long they let him rest. The three creatures started whispering to each other, a strange twittering language. They wore human forms, but that noise was utterly alien. Sheppard stared at them, helpless. He felt around for rocks, found nothing to help him but loose leaves and twigs on the forest floor. His stomach was still churning, his head still aching. He wondered if they’d poisoned him.
Abruptly, the aliens switched back to pretending they were human. As if he hadn’t just witnessed them acting like something else entirely. He wasn’t as out of it as they intended, or maybe they just didn’t care.
Shortly after that, the one wearing Rodney’s face tried to make him take some pills. He shoved his palm in front of Sheppard’s face. His hand was all wrong, too. The wrong number of fingers, with too many knuckles. The fingernails looked like claws.
“Get away from me,” Sheppard growled. He tried to slap the pills away, but he missed completely. Rodney’s eyes rolled and for a second Sheppard saw a second pair, small and red blink beneath Rodney’s lids. He shrank back against the tree.
Rodney’s mouth moved, speaking words Sheppard didn’t listen to. He focused on the sharp, pointy teeth behind those lips. His tongue was forked, sliding against those shark-like teeth.
“Okay, while you’re staring at me like a little crackhead, I’m going to put these on your tongue and you just swallow, okay?” He sneered and showed more teeth, all the way into the cavern of his cheeks. “Oh God, I have to touch your tongue.”
The creature moved his claws towards Sheppard’s mouth. He did the only thing he could think of, the only defense he had against this thing pretending to be Rodney. Sheppard waited until one of the knuckles passed his lips, then he grabbed hold of the man’s arm to keep it in place and bit down as hard as he could.
Blood filled Sheppard’s mouth. The creature shrieked, a high-pitched inhuman sound. It ripped its hand away, knocking Sheppard sideways.
The movement made his stomach heave again, bile filling his mouth. He spat on to the ground. Getting up was going to be impossible, but maybe he could crawl away while the aliens were distracted. He could hear it, yowling right behind him. Sheppard got his elbows underneath him, got to his knees, and went for it. His equilibrium was shot; his vision made no sense. Motion made his entire body blur.
He didn’t get anywhere. The one in Ronon’s skin appeared in beside him, strolling at a pace that didn’t make sense, and yet suddenly placed him directly in Sheppard’s path.
“Hey,” Ronon said. “No.”
He reached down and put hands under Sheppard’s armpits, lifting him easily off the ground. This brought him against the creature, let him feel just what these things were made of and how wrong it was. Ronon’s skin was hot, burning wherever it touched Sheppard. It felt like boiling clay, slimy and impossibly solid at the same time.
“Let me go,” Sheppard said.
He tried to fight, but his limbs still weren’t working. Ronon lifted him higher, draping him over one shoulder. This put him next to the fake dreadlocks. It wasn’t hair. It was moving. It was living. The black strands were straining and squirming in place, sliding towards him with outstretched tendrils.
Sheppard freaked. He grabbed the mass in both hands and ripped as hard as he could, trying to pull it apart, pull it off, just get it away from his face.
It must have been attached to the creature, because Ronon screamed. Sheppard was flipped back on to the dirt, so hard his vision went fuzzy. He could feels his fingers being bent back and peeled off, his grip breaking. Sheppard’s head was pounding, his stomach churning. He rolled until he was face down and just stayed there, not caring what was happening outside his body.
The next thing he knew, another one was grabbing him. This time it was Teyla’s impostor, taking his arms and pulling them up in front of his face. She had the same crooked claws as the others, and she was holding his wrists in a hot, burning grasp. She was snapping a pair of plastic field restraints in place. He stared, horrified. He’d taught Teyla how to use those and now this thing was using them against him.
“Fingers, too,” said Ronon. Sheppard saw Ronon’s form standing nearby, arms wrapped around his head.
“That is not necessary,” Teyla said.
“Yeah it is.”
The alien in Teyla used medical tape from one of the First Aid kits to bind Sheppard’s fingers together like mittens.
“Satisifed?” she asked Ronon’s impostor.
He grunted, still holding his head. Sheppard felt a surge of triumph. He’d hurt it. The one in Teyla didn’t have such an obvious weakness. He looked harder, staring at Teyla’s hair. It wasn’t the same size, but her strands were moving, lifting themselves into the air. That was how these things had taken over.
Sheppard let Teyla roll him on to his side. He didn’t help, though, and when she bent down to get a better position, he brought his legs up and wrapped his knees around her neck. Every other time his aim had been wrong, his timing off. This time he got his target and dragged the creature to the ground.
It wailed, the same alien scream as the others. The other two were on him in a second, pulling him off. He clenched his knees with all his strength, squeezing his eyes shut and just trying to kill it. He heard the tone of Ronon’s weapon and opened his eyes in time to see the red pulse consume him.
Sheppard woke up in the infirmary in four point restraints. There was an IV in his arm and a catheter in his dick, but otherwise he felt fine. His head was clear and pain-free, his stomach didn’t flip when he turned his head.
Something alerted the medical staff he was awake and shortly Dr. Jennifer Keller was at his bedside.
“Hello,” she said, sitting down on a stool. “How are you feeling?”
“Okay,” he said. “Tied to a bed.”
“Yeah,” she said. “If I undo them you’re going to try to rip my head off?”
“Probably not.” He paused, thinking. “Though I know why’d you think that.”
“Are they okay?” he asked.
“You’re going to owe them one,” Keller said. “Possibly a lot more than one.” She started unlatching the restraint on his right arm. Sheppard watched her hands, relieved to find them pink, five-fingered, and human.
“Next time the friendly natives offer you hallucinogenic drugs, Colonel, just say no.” She moved on to his other arm.
“I didn’t,” he protested. He didn’t remember anything except headaches, vomiting, and the three evil things that had taken over his team. Okay, maybe he had licked something he shouldn’t have. “Did I hurt anyone?”
“You pulled some kind of WWF move on Teyla,” she said. “Ronon shot you both. I take it before that you tried to bite Rodney’s finger off,” Keller said.
“Did I succeed?”
“No, but he wants you tested for rabies.”
He winced. “How mad was he?”
“Oh, very. And he had some choice words about choosing a profession where you are in constant danger of experiencing the flow of someone else’s vomit, so I take it there was a lot of that involved. He also had to carry Teyla to the ‘Gate and claims he put his back out.”
“Yeah.” He thought back. “Think most of it was on Ronon, though.”
“We had to cut off some of his hair.” Keller said. “It wouldn’t wash out.”
Sheppard stared at her. “He’s going to kill me.”
“Can you tell ‘em I don’t remember?”
Keller rolled her eyes. “You can tell them yourself. They’re all waiting for you to wakeup.”
“Tell ‘em I died,” Sheppard came up with.
“We can hear you, you know!” That was when Rodney busted in to the exam room, followed closely by Teyla and Ronon.
They looked normal. Well, Rodney looked kind of pissed, but they were all human again. Rodney was pink, his mouth round and teeth straight. Teyla and Ronon were back to golden, their features natural and untwisted. Teyla put her hand on the end of his bed and it was just a hand, small with neatly trimmed fingernails. Ronon’s hair looked a little thinner, but it was still and unmoving against his skull. Sheppard resigned himself to an extra special ass kicking the next time they sparred. Teyla’s hair, too, looked much less evil.
“Hi guys,” he said, trying to offer a grin. “Um, sorry?”