vain_glorious (vain_glorious) wrote,
vain_glorious
vain_glorious

SGA_fic: Uncertain Thing, PG-15, Gen 4/5

Title: Uncertain Thing 4/5 Out of Order? Here's part 1
Author:vain_glorious
Rating: PG-15/R but no graphic sex or violence. Gen.
Summary: A series of medical issues threatens Sheppard's place on the team.
Word Count: ~28,000 in total
Author's note: Set over season 4, pretends Teyla's pregnancy and the Michael situation never happened, but not otherwise AU.
Warnings:  Very long and ultimately wrong. That's all the warnings I'll give. If you make it all the way through, I'd love to know it.
Disclaimer: Not mine.



It took nearly two and a half months into his stay in Isolation, but Sheppard finally found out what Keller was keeping from him. McKay never came through; he was fairly certain that it wasn’t because of the amazing security of the medical computer system and had more to do with Keller putting a stop to it. Sheppard tried, himself, to hack into the database with his laptop. He only half knew what he was doing and had no idea what he was looking for, and ending up falling asleep in the middle of it.

He was tired now. Despite the fact that he’d mostly been flat on his back on a gurney, in a tiny room that was only about twelve paces wide. Sheppard found himself napping like a four year old. Keller noted it, but she didn’t look alarmed. He didn’t know why; it was pretty damn alarming to him. The creature inside him was getting bigger – he’d gained a total of twenty-four pounds and couldn’t wear his pants anymore. And now it was sapping his energy, too.

That was the only thing that changed. He was still trapped in Isolation, bored out of his fucking mind in the moments where he wasn’t thinking about the evil parasite taking over his body.

His team was still visiting regularly. Ronon had been reassigned to Lorne’s team. He told Sheppard pretty much immediately, and whereas Sheppard should have been appreciative that at least one person in the goddamn city was being honest and direct, it mostly just pissed him off. He knew Ronon, of all people, had an innate need to stay occupied and could get downright destructive if bored. But that didn’t mean he wanted to hear about how his team was going to be dismantled after his death while he was still living.

Teyla was bopping around, occasionally going on missions with other teams, but mostly hanging out with her people. Specifically this Kanaan guy. Sheppard was sure he was a nice, proper Athosian, but that didn’t mean he wanted to hear about how much fun Teyla was having with him.

Rodney came around less. Probably because he expected Sheppard to be pissed at him. Which he was, but not enough that Rodney should be avoiding him. Sheppard left a message on Rodney’s voice comm. to that effect, adding in the fact that if Sheppard died while Rodney was staying away, he’d feel really, really bad about it. The guilt trip worked, mostly because Rodney showed up immediately to yell at Sheppard and insist he wasn’t going to die.

So, it was mostly the same. He watched dumb movies with Ronon, made meaningless chitchat with Teyla, and played mindless chess while Rodney babbled. It probably wasn’t a bad way to spend the last few months of his life. He wasn’t in pain. Really angry and bitter, but not suffering.

Even so, he tried to be cooperative with the medical staff. Being nice took a lot of effort, especially since he’d exhausted his reserves for tolerating the constant invasion of his privacy on pretty much the second day in Isolation. But he also figured if he were polite and not combative, eventually someone would slip and tell him something they weren’t allowed to.

In the end, it was an Israeli xenobiologist who spilled. Dr. Avi Lautmann kind of looked like Santa Claus – except Jewish – and was one of the scientists who showed up daily to shove a scanner against Sheppard’s belly. He didn’t have the best bedside manner, evidently unaccustomed to specimens that could talk back. Sheppard didn’t mind all that much; he preferred being basically ignored to being coddled and patronized like some of his caretakers did until he said something horrible to them or accidentally (sort of)  knocked their tablet to the floor and broke it. Lautmann was also really, really excited by whatever it was he saw on the scanner screen.

Excited enough, Sheppard thought, maybe to share exactly what it was that he was seeing. He waited until Lautmann had the portable scanner set up over Sheppard’s stomach, cooperating in a way that he didn’t always do. The easier he made this, maybe the easier Lautmann would forget he wasn’t supposed to talk about it.

Lautmann had his face shoved practically against the little view screen, mumbling enthusiastically to himself and jotting down words in a spiral notebook propped up on a clipboard against Sheppard’s thigh. It was really old-fashioned and quaint, but Sheppard didn’t mind because it was lighter than the laptops everyone else used to take notes about him. Also, he’d stolen it once, only to discover, of course, that Lautmann was writing in Hebrew. There’d been a couple of meaningless diagrams, but the xenobiologist’s art skills tended towards the abstract.

“So, Avi,” Sheppard drawled when he thought the man was suitably engrossed in his work. “Keller said you could explain this thing to me better than her?”

“Hrm?” said Lautmann. He didn’t look up, which was perfect since Sheppard wasn’t sure that his plan would hold if they made eye contact. “Oh, I don’t know about that. About the same, I think. Is not really explainable.” And then he laughed, which was totally bizarre.

“Yeah?” Sheppard said, trying to sound casual. “She said you’d try.” There was silence, so he went on hurriedly. “You’re in here the most, looks like you know the most about it.” That part, at least, wasn’t a lie.

“Well,” Lautmann said. “Is absolutely amazing. I have never seen anything like this."

He sounded strangely positive, like the parasite was impressive or something.

“Yeah?” Sheppard said again, unable to disguise his annoyance.

“I suppose you disagree,” Lautmann said, abruptly looking a little embarrassed. “But an alien organism that can successfully imitate human female reproductive system including functional uterus is unbelievable discovery.”

Sheppard sat up so abruptly he knocked the paper notebook and the scanner to the floor. He heard it crash and probably shatter, but he didn’t register anything else. “Uterus?” he asked. “What?”

Lautmann was on his knees on the floor next the cracked scanner, sadly poking at the shards from the screen. “You broke scanner.”

Sheppard reached down, got a fistful of the man’s lab coat and pulled violently upwards. It made his incision sting a little, but he ignored it. “Did you say uterus?” he demanded. “What the hell do you mean by that?”

Lautmann immediately twisted out of his grasp. For an old, fat man, he did something incredibly painful to Sheppard’s wrist and instantly broke his grip. Sheppard remembered belatedly that all Israelis were ex-army.

“Oww,” Sheppard said, holding his arm.

“Sorry,” Lautmann said, looking genuinely apologetic and standing only a few feet from the gurney. He also looked betrayed, defensively crossing his arms over his massive chest. “You tricked me.”

“Yeah,” Sheppard said, not sorry at all. “Get Keller the hell down here.”

~

 “I didn’t tell you,” Keller said, flatly. “Because I believed it would be detrimental to your health.” She pointed to the monitors by the gurney. “And it is. Your blood pressure has shot up. You’re already hypertensive.”

Sheppard was sorely tempted to threaten to be detrimental to her health, if he didn’t think she’d just dope him unconscious or something.

“I don’t care,” he said, might have fairly growled. “Don’t change the subject.”

Surprisingly, Keller kind of dipped her head. “I’m sorry,” she said.

Sheppard gripped the edge of the gurney so tightly he felt the bed frame creak. He just needed to hold on to something.

“Tell me everything,” he ordered. “All of it. Right now.”

Keller finally showed him a picture. And even though that’s what Sheppard had been after for nearly three months, the first thing he did after looking at it was lean over the side of the gurney and vomit.

Because he knew what it was. Because he recognized it, immediately. His brother had shown him the sonograms for both his nephews; in Afghanistan members of his squad had taped the ultrasounds of their unborn kids on their walls next to photos of their wives. And that’s exactly what it looked like.

Gingerly, maybe expecting he was mad enough to strike out at her, Keller help him roll back to the center of the gurney and quickly and efficiently cleaned him up. Lautmann, standing awkwardly at the far wall and looking really, really guilty, made himself useful and went and got Sheppard a cup of water to rinse his mouth.

“You can’t be serious,” Sheppard said, after he’d spat a few mouthfuls of water into the proffered emesis basin. Even though he’d seen it with his own eyes. “It’s not what it looks like.”

Keller opened her mouth, took a breath, then flicked her eyes at Lautmann. “All we know,” she said, after a second. “Is what it looks like.”

“But,” Lautmann interjected, softly but firmly. “In all ways, it looks like what you think.”

“The physiological changes you’ve experienced,” Keller went on, keeping her voice down, “are consistent with it, particularly your hormone levels.”

“Which you haven’t mentioned,” Sheppard accused.

Keller nodded. “They’re atypical for…” she paused, and he knew what she was trying to avoid saying or even implying. “Atypical,” she said, finally. “You may have noticed some signs. Slowed facial hair growth, for instance.”

Sheppard touched his face. “I’m scruffy,” he said. But he hadn’t shaved in pretty much forever.

“By now you should have beard like me,” Lautmann said.

“And your other problem,” Keller said, “is also probably hormone related.”

Sheppard grabbed the edge of the gurney even harder. “This is ridiculous,” he said. He heard the note of panic in his voice. “This doesn’t happen.”

“Do you want a sedative?” Keller asked, and at least she was requesting his permission first.

“No!” Sheppard tried to slow his breathing, tried to visibly calm himself. Acting like a nutcase wasn’t going to help.

“Okay,” Keller said. She glanced at Lautmann for some kind of support, but Lautmann looked more uncomfortable than she did. Sheppard figured he wasn’t used to his samples having emotions.

“Who knows?” he asked, leaning back against the gurney.

“The medical staff directly involved in your treatment,” Keller said. Then, she amended it to “observation,” because, of course, they weren’t actively doing anything about this. “Lautmann’s xenobiology department-”

“Very few, quiet people,” Lautmann said, trying to be reassuring.

“And Carter,” Keller finished. “That’s all.”

“Not my team?” Sheppard asked.


“No,” Keller said. “Although, I caught Rodney hacking into your medical records file.”

“I asked him to,” Sheppard said. “I knew you were lying to me about something.”

“For your own good,” Keller said, but she looked really guilty and Sheppard was glad. “I told him that. He doesn’t know the specifics.”

“Is no reason to be ashamed,” Lautmann said. He patted Sheppard’s shoulder with a big hand. “Is private matter, yes, but you should not be embarrassed.”

“I wouldn’t describe myself as embarrassed,” Sheppard said, angrily, and the man hurriedly removed his hand.

Sheppard looked down at himself, at his protruding stomach under the sheet. Then he looked up at Keller and swallowed down as much emotion as he could. “What the hell are we going to do?”

“In my professional opinion,” Keller said, carefully. “The game plan has not changed. The goal is to ensure your survival and terminate the organism.”

“Organism,” Sheppard echoed.

“To our knowledge,” Lautmann said, “is alien life form imitating human fetus.”

“There is no reason to believe that it is what it looks like,” Keller interrupted.

“Because I’m male,” Sheppard said.

Lautmann kind of looked like he wanted to launch into a much more complicated explanation; Sheppard recognized that expression from Rodney’s face, except Rodney didn’t usually shut up. “Yes,” was all Lautmann said.

“If you were female,” Keller said, “things would be different. But the organism and its structure are entirely alien to your physiology.”

“You do not have uterus,” Lautmann said.

“I know that!”

“I guess it doesn’t feel this way,” Keller continued, and he could tell she was trying to be comforting. “But this probably good news.”

“Yeah?” Sheppard demanded. “How’s that?”

“Is not trying to kill you,” Lautmann said.

“If it is imitating human fetal development,” Keller said. “There is a natural and predictable end point to its...” she paused and trailed off.

“To it living inside me,” Sheppard provided.

“Yes,” Keller said, and Lautmann nodded.

“And just how the hell do you think it’s going to get out?” Sheppard asked. He was trying to keep from yelling, but that wasn’t working so well.

“Surgically,” said Keller.

“You tried that already,” Sheppard said. “You couldn’t do it without killing me, remember?”

Keller nodded. “That’s changed. Rather, it is changing.”

“In my observation, the supporting structure that has compromised your internal organs is reducing over time,” Lautmann said.

“What?” Sheppard asked. “What does that mean?”

“Do you want to see?” Keller asked, and he supposed that was fair since he had thrown up the first time.

“Yeah,” he said.  

Keller pulled out the same body scan she’d been showing him from the beginning. “Those,” she said, pointing to the pink wisps trailing around his abdomen. “They’re vanishing.”

“Dying, more likely,” Lautmann said. He hit a button and nearly half of the little pink lines turned a dull gray. “Still there, but not functional.”

“That’s over the past three months,” Keller said. “I think it’s a gradual process preparing for…"

“Birth,” Sheppard said.

“Departure,” Keller said. “It wants to leave, Colonel. That’s good.”

“So enough of those tentacles let go of my kidneys,” Sheppard said, “You can cut it out?”

“They aren’t tentacles,” Keller said. “But yeah, I think so.”

“That is good,” Sheppard said. He didn’t feel all that much better, but he no longer wanted to puke.

“My one concern,” Keller said, “is that while these things are declining, your blood pressure has been rising.”

“It relates to blood flow within the organism,” Lautmann said. And he was back to looking excited. “Its circulatory system –”

“It’s probably only going to get worse,” Keller interrupted. “I’m going to be monitoring you very closely. But I want you to tell me if you start feeling more fatigued, get headaches, experience dizziness, blurred vision, ringing in your ears, or feel flushed. It can be very dangerous.”

“Okay,” Sheppard said. “How long we looking at?”

Keller and Lautmann exchanged looks. “It’s difficult to be sure,” she said. “But based purely on its developmental progress, I’d guess at least 12 weeks.”

“Three months,” Sheppard translated.

“About.”

“Okay,” Sheppard said. He paused. “You could have told me from the beginning. You should have.”

Keller nodded. “I’m sorry,” she said, but he wasn’t sure he believed her.

~

It turned out that maybe Keller had had a point. Knowing what it was – more specifically knowing what it was pretending to be – didn’t actually do anything for Sheppard’s peace of mind. In fact it was kind of driving him crazy, so much so that it was really all he could think about. It didn’t even help that Keller seemed to think that he probably wasn’t going to die now. He didn’t feel any relief.

Well, he did feel some relief, but not about that. Sheppard was just really, incredibly glad that wherever he’d picked up this goddamn thing, it’d latched on to him and not to Teyla. He had no idea what’d it do in a body actually capable of pregnancy – maybe there’d be no tentacle stranglehold on her lungs – but it somehow seemed like it would be so much worse.

Now, they let him look at all the pictures and scans they had of it. He almost threw up again, especially when Lautmann pointed at an indistinct shadow on the scan and said: “Is a girl. There is vulva.”

Keller took the scanner away before Sheppard accidentally broke another one. Then she hauled Lautmann out of the room, presumably for a discussion on what he should and should not say.

What they weren’t saying was weighing heavily in Sheppard’s thoughts. Most of the staff didn’t talk to him about it at all, but those who did deliberately avoided the words that they obviously would have used if he’d been a woman. Except all the synonyms for ‘gestation,’ and ‘birth’ were incredibly obvious and awkward. One of the nurses accidentally called it a baby, turned white, and made an immediate excuse to leave the room. Sheppard didn’t get upset. Well, he didn’t get more upset.

“What’s the plan for when it’s out?” he asked Keller that night, as she did her usual checks of all the monitors before he went to sleep.

“Hmm?” Keller paused and looked at him. “What do you mean?”

“When it’s out,” he said again, and gestured at his stomach. He didn’t look pregnant, which was one small mercy. He looked fat, mostly, or conspicuously bloated. Lautmann said it was because the alien uterus wasn’t in quite the same place as it would be for a woman. Lautmann said lots of marginally helpful things like that. Sometimes it was more horrifying than informative.

“I mean,” he said finally, “What if it still looks like a human?”

“It’s not,” Keller said, far too quickly. “That’s not possible.”

Sheppard just looked at her. He didn’t have to say anything to communicate just how many impossible things they’d already encountered in Pegasus.

“We’ll use standard alien life form protocols,” Keller said, which was probably true but still somehow, a totally inadequate answer. “No matter what it looks like. Don’t worry about that now.”

~

In other news that Sheppard could actually mentally process, they’d narrowed down the list of missions in the timeframe that the medical staff thought the thing had planted itself inside him. How they’d determined that, Sheppard wasn’t entirely sure. They didn’t know how long it had taken for the organism to build the artificial endocrine system. Sheppard didn’t know if he should want it to be slowly or quickly.  The doctors had settled on ‘fast,’ though, and that what they were going with. There were only five missions in the identified timeframe. Two had been to uninhabited planets left barren and empty by the Wraith.  Those missions had been unremarkable, just depressing as always. It seemed unlikely that a parasite that reproduced by imitating human reproduction – Lautmann’s typical helpful and yet repulsive assessment – would have been hanging around in either environment.

A third had involved actively fleeing the Wraith. Sheppard didn’t actually remember this one, having been stunned into unconsciousness. He’d been woken up by the pain of Teyla and Rodney dragging him towards the ‘Gate by the arms, Ronon having taken off to go after the Wraith. Nothing conclusive, but no one remembered any living humans on that particular planet. And that was one time Sheppard had gotten a full body scan, namely because he thought Teyla and Rodney might have dislocated his shoulders.

The fourth and fifth missions were judged the most likely contenders. One had been a standard trade mission to M3X-106, antibiotics and seedlings for a season’s worth of bean crops or something. Sheppard didn’t remember this one either, because it’d been normal. And because Ronon had convinced him to play a Satedan drinking game with the ale the chieftain had gifted them. If it turned out Sheppard had gotten knocked up with an alien parasite while drunk off of his ass…well…Sheppard wasn’t sure what he was going to do, but it would probably involve a combination of laughing and then crying hysterically. 

The fifth mission was the one to the broken mountain face covered in goat shit and its guano-coated caverns of naked unconsciousness. This planet was a lot more suspicious.

Except that Sheppard had had a body scan after this mission, as well. And there was absolutely nothing on it. Not even a stray speck of dust. Keller and Lautmann weren’t convinced by it, though. They used words like ‘zygote’ and ‘blastocyst’, stages of embryonic development that were too small to be detected on the massive scale of the body scanner. There was also the possibility that the organism skipped those stages, only needing to imitate the phases where its host might be aware of its presence.

That was when they got to the timeframe where Sheppard had skipped a bunch of body scans. His next one had the giant pink blob on it.

Carter sent reconnaissance teams to both planets, under strict instructions to gather information without putting anyone in danger. Sheppard wondered how specific their orders were, if they mentioned anything about asking the natives about any unexplained incidents of male pregnancy. He didn’t know if the teams knew the missions were about Sheppard’s condition. As much as he felt that being infected by an alien parasite was just another in a long line of mysterious and ultimately really unpleasant shit served up by the Pegasus galaxy – a chain of which Keller and Lautmann were mostly ignoring in favor of  repeating constantly that this wasn’t his fault and he shouldn’t be ashamed of it, like two goddamn rape counselors – he also really didn’t want anyone more than was absolutely necessary knowing he had something that looked an awful lot like an unborn human baby living in his gut.

He did, however, tell his team. It seemed likely that Rodney already knew or nearly knew. Actually, probably not. No way would he be able to keep his mouth shut about it. He knew something Keller had made up, which might be worse. Sheppard would have to fix that. Ronon and Teyla were around too much for him to not tell. He generally didn’t lie to them and didn’t really want to start. Besides, despite Keller’s new confidence that he’d probably survive, he might not be around much longer.

Teyla and Ronon reacted well to it. Better than Sheppard would have, in their position. It confirmed to him that they were really far too used to totally bizarre shit happening. Especially to Sheppard. That seemed unfair.

Teyla’s eyes got really huge and she tilted her head to the side. “A human child?” she said, disbelieving. And of course, she was staring at his abdomen.

“That’s what it looks like,” Sheppard said.

Teyla looked at him like she didn’t fully understand how that made a difference.

“The xenobiologists think it’s an organism imitating human reproduction,” Sheppard said. “Sort of like a cuckoo bird.”

That just made Teyla stare at him.

“It’s a bird on earth that lays its eggs in other bird’s nests,” Sheppard explained. “It takes the other eggs away. Only in this case, it’s an alien. And it thought my intestines were a nest. Or something.”

He wasn’t sure she got the comparison.

“But you are male,” she said.

“Apparently it couldn’t tell.”

Teyla stared at him, obviously searching for something reassuring and kind to say, and yet coming up empty.

“I take it you’ve never heard of anything like this in Pegasus?” Sheppard asked. He wasn’t sure if he wanted her to say yes or no. It’d be nice to know he didn’t just have the worst luck ever, and that this had happened to other people. At the same time, he wasn’t sure he wanted to stay in this galaxy a second longer if this was legitimate threat.

“No,” Teyla said, emphatically. “Women are the child-bearers,” she added.

“Where I’m from, too,” Sheppard told her, and sighed.

She did like hearing that Keller thought this meant it wasn’t trying to kill Sheppard.

“That is good news,” she said.

Sheppard shrugged. “Relative to everything else, yeah.”

Teyla was still staring at his sheet-covered midsection.

“Do you feel it?” she asked, and then abruptly looked almost embarrassed. 

“No,” he said. “Keller said it’s positioned so that I really won’t.” Which was totally and completely fine with him.

Teyla seemed to understand he didn’t really want to talk about it anymore – or that there wasn’t much else to say –  and politely changed the subject.

Ronon didn’t want to talk about it much, either. He listened as Sheppard explained the situation, a weird expression of confusion and possibly disgust coming across his face.

“A baby?” he said, when Sheppard was done.

“Alien baby,” Sheppard corrected, not bothering to dispute it.

“I didn’t know you could do that,” Ronon said.

“I can’t,” Sheppard growled. “It built itself a wom – a bunch of alien organs.”

“Oh.” Ronon was staring at Sheppard’s belly again. At least this time, he didn’t look like he wanted to rip him open and take it out so he could shoot it.

“So, you’ve never heard of this happening to anyone, either?” Sheppard checked.

“No,” Ronon said. “It’s weird.”

“Yeah,” Sheppard agreed. “That’s one word for it.”

He expected Ronon to turn on the laptop then, insert a DVD, and go back to their standard, silent movie-watching routine. Instead, Ronon reached out and pulled the sheet back, suddenly bringing his palm to rest on the curve of Sheppard’s belly where it stuck out from his pants. For a second, Sheppard let him. Mostly out of slowed reflexes, he decided, because in the next second he realized just what that gesture mirrored in the normal world, and violently swatted Ronon’s hand away.

“Knock it off!”

Ronon withdrew his hand. “I felt it.”

Sheppard readjusted the sheet. “You did not.”

“Yeah, I did. Like a flutter.”

“I don’t care,” Sheppard went with. “What movie did you bring?”

Ronon allowed himself to be distracted. Sheppard really hoped the person providing their film library knew enough to remove all movies having to do with pregnancy and birth, too.

“Dawn of the Dead,” Ronon said, tossing the DVD case onto Sheppard’s chest.

“Good. I’m in the mood for a zombie movie,” Sheppard said.

“What’s a zombie?” Ronon asked.

“An undead mindless killing machine who wants to eat the living.”

Ronon blinked at him.

“It’s really violent,” Sheppard assured him, and shoved the disc into the laptop.

He never got to tell Rodney. Teyla and Ronon took it upon themselves to do it for him. Fairly obviously to spare him the unavoidable reaction. Sheppard wasn’t sure how he felt about that. On one hand, it was kind of nice. On the other hand, it reeked of being coddled, like suddenly he was too much of a wilting flower to handle the obnoxiousness of one Dr. Rodney McKay. And then Sheppard got genuinely pissed off about it. He didn’t mind fighting with Rodney; he was good at it and he usually won. And he’d been cooped up for months with medical staff that came running and looked worried if he raised his voice in the slightest. Teyla and Ronon had just robbed him of the best chance of a remotely more interesting day, and that sucked.

Teyla and Ronon also came with Rodney the first time he visited Sheppard after hearing the news. That was pretty funny, actually. They stood on either side of him like a phalanx, as if their mere presence would prevent Rodney from saying something awful. Clearly, they’d learned nothing.

“Hey,” Sheppard said, from his usual spot on the gurney. His incision was long since healed, but Keller insisted he stay hooked up to a thousand monitors and that made moving around the room a giant pain in the ass.

“Hi,” Rodney said. He looked a little browbeaten; Sheppard imagined Ronon and Teyla had both threatened him with bodily harm. He paused, mouth hanging open.

Sheppard waited. He wasn’t disappointed.

“So,” Rodney said. “Think you’re going to grow boobs?”

Teyla inhaled sharply. “Rodney!”

Ronon said nothing, he just immediately smacked Rodney upside the head with the closest hand.

“Ow! Hey!”

“Did we not talk about this!” Hissed Teyla.

“It’s a valid question!” Rodney retorted, moving out of reach of Ronon and rubbing the back of his head. “Watch the brain!”

Sheppard shook his head, exhaled. “In your dreams, McKay.”

“Oh, shut up,” Rodney said. But he didn’t actually have any other horribly insensitive comments, so maybe Teyla and Ronon had gotten most of it out of his system. Sheppard was still kind of annoyed they’d deprived him of that.

Rodney did have some interesting info, though. He tossed a tablet onto Sheppard’s chest, took a seat in the ever-present visitor’s chair. “Anthropologists’ mission report from M3X-371,” he said.

“Which one was that?” Sheppard asked.

“Goat shit planet,” Ronon provided.

“Oh.” Sheppard picked it up. Over the top of the screen, he saw boredom on Ronon’s face and Teyla looking uncertain if they should stay.

“You can go,” he said. “I can hit Rodney myself.”

“Okay,” said Ronon, stepping towards the door.

“Oh, funny,” said Rodney, as Teyla nodded and followed Ronon out. “Did you know that Teyla’s really scary?”

Sheppard ignored him, already reading the document before him. It wasn’t actually from the most recent reconnaissance mission – it was the scientific follow-up to the original mission:  just the typical anthropology report detailing the culture of the natives and analyzing whether their social organization and economy could support engaging in any kind of trade relations with Atlantis. That wasn’t the relevant part. Rodney had highlighted the addendum, where the anthropologists talked at length about matters that were irrelevant to establishing trade relations and were theoretically of interest to other anthropologists.

“The kinship system,” Rodney said, since Sheppard evidently wasn’t reading fast enough. “It…might be related to what happened to you.”

That part of the report was highlighted and Sheppard skipped to it.

“They wanted to go back for more field research,” Rodney said, as he read. “I said no, because who cares. Then they asked to have an actual anthropologist in charge of approving their departmental requests. I denied that, too.”

Sheppard discovered about five seconds into the first paragraph that anthropological language was utterly incomprehensible. He put the tablet down.

“Related to what happened to me how?”

“All four of the tribes living on that mountain trace their origin back to same sex ancestors,” Rodney said. He looked awkward. “They don’t intermarry, either. Well two of them don’t, the other two recently had a Romeo & Juliet type situation and now they will, but before that they didn’t.”

Sheppard wasn’t following. “Point?”

“Same sex founders,” Rodney said, as if it should be clear. “Three sets of patriarchs and one set of matriarchs. No intermarriage. And they made babies.”

“That’s impossible,” Sheppard said.

Rodney looked down at Sheppard’s abdomen. “Really?”

~

~please feed the author~

Part 5 (end)
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