Their first day back, long before John unpacked any of his SGC-provided office supplies or downloaded the monstrously-huge patches his computer apparently needs immediately—”But I just turned it on,” John said helplessly; “Doesn’t matter, sir. It’s Tuesday,” his assistant had said grimly—he got an email from Rodney. It said:

To: Lt. Col. John Sheppard
From: Dr. Rodney McKay, Ph.D (x3)

In about 20 minutes, I’m going to hack your computer. Do not panic.


John stared at it for a long time before he glanced at the time stamp and then glanced at his wall clock. He sighed and leaned back in his desk chair, listening to it squeak in protest just as the mouse on his monitor started to move of its own volition.

The first thing Rodney did was open a text editor through the command line and type:


John rolled his eyes and debated whether or not it’d be worth it to call Rodney and yell at him or if talking through two whole mediums would be entirely too 14-year-old girls, so he just snapped his wrist over the mouse and followed up Rodney with:

i’ve been at my desk for like, 30 minutes. i promise that right after we kill the evil aliens, setting up linux will be my next priority. cross my heart and hope to die.

Rodney made a noise of broken irritation over the screen—WELKRJSF OH MY GOD SHIFT, SHIFT SHIFT—and then spent about an hour fucking around with John’s computer, downloading and running the updates, downloading software and hacking his way through the security restrictions.

Tech support, live and bitchy, John thought to himself, laughing and unpacking a box of files, sorting them away into his new file cabinets and glancing over his shoulder every few minutes to see that Rodney’s phantom presence was still moving around his computer screen, files and windows popping up and scrolling. It was perfectly silent, a ghostly afterimage, a half-picture of something he’d seen so frequently on Atlantis he could almost see Rodney hunched over a console, scowling as his fingers flew across the keyboards.

Then, just as John had tucked a stapler into his left hand desk drawer, a messenger window popped up.

rodney.mckay (gmail) : Congratulations, you no longer have a hobbled, broken machine.

John stared at it for a moment before cracking his knuckles and typing into his own side of the window, more than a little frightened by whatever username Rodney had picked for him. On Atlantis, the default usernames were first name, middle initial, last name, followed by a number or randomly assigned letter if yours was a particularly popular sequence. Because Rodney had been the most singularly hateful temporary sysadmin in the history of time, he’d created editorial aliases for all of his so-called friends. BleedingHeart for Elizabeth, LovesSheep for Carson, CaptainKirk for John.

princess.sheppardina (gmail) : no, instead i have one littered with programs and language i don’t know how to use.
princess.sheppardina (gmail): RODNEY.
rodney.mckay (gmail) : WHAT? I swear all the other usernames were taken!
princess.sheppardina (gmail): you are SO FULL OF SHIT!
rodney.mckay (gmail) : At least this proves you can use capital letters.
princess.sheppardina (gmail) : go to hell.
rodney.mckay (gmail) : Oh, like I’ve never heard that before.

John rolled his eyes and snapped the laptop shut with a click and shoved away from the desk.

He had pencils and pens and a computer and had been issued a footlocker and all sorts of mid-level codes. But he didn’t have a self-destruct code, he didn’t have keys to the joint, and when he touched the walls, they didn’t touch him back.

John had never been so far away from the sky as he was here, miles underground at Stargate Command, and he closed his eyes and pressed his forehead to the closed door of his office and counted to ten in Ancient, thinking of his city—their city now—and how she might be glowing, with her people back, how she might shine at night.


It took him more than a week to remember how to use light switches, doors, keys.

He could always identify the occasional Atlantis refuge from their expressions of blank concern, standing in front of a doorway or another, their key cards handing from round their necks but waiting for the doors to understand them, to sense them, to say hello, and open with a sweet, inviting whoosh.

Lights, John admitted, were probably something only he struggled with. He hadn’t been the only carrier of the ATA gene, especially after Carson’s treatment, but he’d gone native the most quickly, and even as others had taken to using the light consoles in their rooms John had just thought it brighter or dimmer, warm or cool shades.

It wasn’t just the novelty of controlling a city with his mind—sometimes he thought she was lonely, with all those residents and nobody talking to her. So John spent most of his free time babbling at Atlantis in a language understood by only two. In absent brushes of his hand, in the way he’d searched through her secret hallways, admired her lush, outward view of the ocean, and how he’d sometimes liked to sit on the balcony at her highest spire, to lie flat and feel her heart beat with his own.


3 Responses to “[sga] Shift”

  1. 1 ZoniDuck April 26, 2007 at 12:10 am

    Yay! So wonderful to see SGA fic from you. I look forward to reading more. 🙂

  2. 2 raucousraven April 26, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    SOB. My SGA OTP is John/Atlantis, and you are hitting all the right notes here.

  3. 3 shari April 27, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    More. It’s so good. And I want to get to his view on the Rodney break down. Let me into John’s head.

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East Coast Gazette has a terrible editorial focus and tends to use a lot of ALL CAPS but TOTALLY NOT BECAUSE OF HARRY POTTER. Stories in progress as well as snapshots will be listed in the "box full of snapshots" below, website archive for stories and assorted tomfoolery is glitterati.

recs (on


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