It took Mikey all of 1.5 seconds to figure out who could possibly program his phone to ring while off. Then he got to his feet and said, “Uh, sorry, I have-- Nature calls.”
He picked up as soon as he was outside the interviewing room. “Rodney?”
“Has Ronon ever mentioned a race called the Onorlei?”
Mikey frowned. “No. Should you be asking me that on my cell phone?”
“I secured transmissions from this number,” Rodney said dismissively. “They’re a telepathic race. Well, telepathic with a larger side of psychopathic and—“
“Is Ronon okay?” Mikey asked, already knowing the answer, because Rodney didn’t call him. John called him, Teyla had even called once or twice, hell, Evan, who wasn’t even on the damn team had called him. Rodney, though, was usually either busy trying to fix whatever had been broken, or not really the guy you wanted relaying the emotional news.
“Jennifer says he needs an energy-compatible match before forty-eight hours is up or he’ll be brain dead.”
Mikey’s immediate reaction—probably because anything else would have been trauma—was to wonder why Jennifer couldn’t have called him. She had excellent bedside manner. “What is an energy-compatible match?”
“I’m a scientist; I don’t practice witchcraft, how the hell should I know?”
Mikey rubbed his forehead. One would have thought marrying a so-called witch would have helped with that particular prejudice, but evidently not. “Rodney—“
Rodney said, “He needs you, Mikey, that’s what I know,” and all arrogance, all certainty fled from his tone.
Mikey swallowed, pressing his hand against his stomach and trying not to be sick. “The Deadalus—“
“No, John’s-- He needs Jonas. You’re convening at the mountain, and coming through the Stargate.”
Mikey blinked at that. He’d never been near “the mountain,” let alone inside it, and he sure as shit had never stepped through the ‘Gate. Forty-eight hours. “Gimme twenty minutes. Then lock onto my cell and get me to Colorado.”
The guys took it well, particularly considering they’d taken most of two years off because Mikey’d wanted the ability to go off-planet whenever he was called. Granted, it had also meant that Frank could go and have twins, and Gerard could actually be around his daughter for her first words and steps. It hadn’t been all Mikey, but that had contributed heavily to the choice. Ray said, “I’m not crazy about the term energy-compatible match.”
Neither was Mikey, but, “I’m really, really not crazy about the term forty-eight hours.”
“Yeah.” Ray nodded.
Gerard was on top of Mikey then, and he wasn’t as soft as he had been for a while, but still Gerard and still soft enough. (It wasn’t as though Mikey had a leg to stand on, really.) Gerard said, “Go. We’ll, uh, we’ll tell everyone Bandit gave you the death flu.”
“Yeah, that’ll about match my manly image,” Mikey said.
Frank dogpiled onto the Way hug. “Go. Be energy-compatible.”
Ray was there, too, then. Mikey told them, “I’ll be back as soon as possible.”
“We know,” Gerard responded.
Mikey knew they knew. It felt necessary to say it anyway.
Mikey had met Jonas Quinn a couple of years back, before John and Jonas had even gotten together. Jonas had been on Atlantis as a consultant about something Mikey wasn’t supposed to know about—above and beyond just knowing about Atlantis. Mikey was pretty sure John and Jonas had waited to get together until after DADT’s repeal, but Mikey had never asked out of complete lack of giving a fuck. Jonas was easygoing and could talk about the weather for an hour and still be interesting, and John actually let people who weren’t his team touch him when Jonas was around. Mikey would have been glad to have anyone he knew inside the mountain with him, but Jonas was actually a qualified plus, as these things went.
Mikey’d had to ride an elevator one thousand leagues below ground level and was feeling slightly panicky when Jonas came around a hallway with a couple of soldiers and said, “Hey, Mikey. First time?”
Mikey nodded tightly. Jonas said, “Yeah, it can take a while.”
“You’ve been here, then?”
“Used to live here, when I was exiled from my planet for a bit.”
Mikey’d known Jonas wasn’t from Earth, but to this day he had no idea what Jonas’ actual story was. He didn’t think now was really the time to try and find out. “You know what’s going on?”
There was a flash of anxiety beneath the calm Jonas wore like a shirt. Then he shook his head. “Not-- not precisely. Just that we need to get there.”
As he said this, they walked inside a room with a large upright ring, sporting runes along its edges. Mikey said, “That’s the Stargate, right?”
Jonas blinked. “You’ve never seen Atlantis’s?”
“’Gate room’s kind of off-limits for me.”
“Oh.” Jonas looked uncertain as to what to say for a second. Then he smiled. “C’mon. You’ll love it.”
For the record, Mikey did not love it. He didn’t hate it, but it was pretty weird-feeling and disorienting, and he stepped out feeling a little carsick and unsure of which way was up. Jonas’ hand on his wrist steadied him. Jonas said, “First time’s the hardest. Take a breath.”
Mikey had just managed to do so, but before he could really recover, a medical team was ushering them toward the hospital wing. Teyla met them there, squeezing both their hands. Jonas beat Mikey to asking, “What happened? What’s needed?”
Teyla said, “We encountered an Onorlei perimeter defense on a planet that has supposedly never had any contact with them. It drained all of us. It was only because we were so close to check-in that we even survived.”
“If you were all—“ Mikey started.
Teyla cut him off, which wasn’t like her. “Rodney had Jennifer to bond to, and I had Kanaan. Their pull balanced us as soon as the bonding was complete.”
Jonas looked intrigued, “Dr. Keller figured out how to use the Ancient device to effect a bond between multiple sentients?”
Mikey wasn’t sure why he had to be the voice of reason, but it had happened before while in the city and he imagined it would again. “John, Jonas. Science later.”
“Right,” Jonas said, looking a bit chagrined. “How long does it take? Does it hurt?”
“Kanaan said it is not the most pleasant experience he has ever had.”
Mikey could not believe he was asking this, but he had read enough science fiction to feel it was warranted. “What are the side-effects?”
Jennifer had made it over in time to hear that question and her uncomfortable look was enough for Mikey to know the answer, but she spoke anyway. “We’re not sure. We’ve never had to use it before. I wasn’t even sure it would work.”
“So,” Mikey said slowly, “potentially, I could be unable to return to Earth? If there’s some sort of distance requirement?”
Jennifer said, “I can’t say no for sure. I wish I could. But I don’t think so. The Ancients used to travel far further than simply Pegasus to Milky Way, so far as we can tell. It seems improbable they would build a device that would limit themselves in such a way.”
“And if I didn’t—“ Mikey made himself look Jennifer straight on. “He would die, yes?”
She hesitated a second, but nodded.
Then evidently Mikey would be crossing all other bridges when he got to them. “Okay. Let’s-- what do I do?”
“Not the most pleasant experience” was kind of a big fucking understatement, Mikey thought, when he came out of the bonding process nearly seven hours later. The process itself had been easy—a little bit of blood taken, holding onto an artifact with one hand and Ronon with the other hand. Mikey hadn’t paid attention to the chill of Ronon’s skin, his stillness. After a second, he couldn’t, because he was caught in the expanse of Ronon’s memories, both sense and narrative. His own mental energy was being tugged, for lack of a better way to describe the experience. All in all, it had felt like he was holding himself and Ronon together with one hand—and not his dominant one.
Surfacing from it, though, had its benefits. It was the first time Mikey had ever felt how glad Ronon was that Mikey was there. Ronon said, “Hey,” rough and low and Mikey felt it in his stomach, his toes, everywhere.
Mikey said, “Hey,” back, and wondered if that was happening for Ronon, too. He suspected so, by the way Ronon’s features softened even more.
After a second, Ronon looked slightly above Mikey and said, “Hey doc.”
Mikey tried to roll over, but found himself too tired. He felt Jennifer’s hand on his elbow and she said, “Sleep it off.”
Mikey was closing his eyes before she could even finish the sentence. The last thing he heard was Jennifer telling Ronon, “You too.”
He could feel Ronon’s amusement, and, deeper down, the part of him that was touched by her concern. Mikey held onto all of it until he couldn’t.
Mikey awoke from a nightmare about Wraith that wasn’t his own at one point, and at another ran into Ronon in the dream Mikey’d had since he was a little kid about being Green Lantern. When Mikey finally, truly woke, he could feel the uneasiness rolling off of Ronon. He countered with some abashedness of his own and by telling Ronon, “I knew you had nightmares.”
Ronon rolled off the bed with more agility than anyone who had been dying less than ten hours previously should have. With his back to Mikey, he asked, “They told you they’ve got no idea how to undo this thing, right? And that they don’t know how far apart we can be.”
Mikey nearly rolled off the bed himself—not nearly so gracefully—at the wash of guilt that ran through him. He blinked. “Uh, d’you know, is that gonna-- Are we gonna get better at not—“ He waved his hands back and forth.
Ronon’s shoulders hunched, his back still to Mikey. “I don’t know.”
Mikey sat up slowly and scooted until he could wrap himself over Ronon’s back. “’Kay. Just wondering.”
“Shut up,” Mikey said. “You were dying.”
“Maybe I was supposed—“
Mikey interrupted him. “Y’know something nice? About now, usually, I’d be thinking this was because you didn’t want to be stuck with me.” But it wasn’t, at all. In fact, just the words made something in Ronon calm a bit. Mikey hung on a little closer and tried to figure out if he could pinpoint emotions in Ronon, roll around in the ones he liked.
“Hey,” Ronon said.
“Am I hurting you?” Mikey asked. He didn’t think he was, but he didn’t know if they felt each other’s physical reactions aside their mental ones.
“No, just, that’s not—“
“You can do it, too,” Mikey offered, and then concentrated on his own emotions for a bit, seeing if he could pick out certain ones and send them to Ronon, mute others.
“What are you—“
“Is it nice?” Mikey asked.
“Uh uh,” Mikey cut him off. “Is it nice?”
Mikey smiled at the irritation Ronon gave off as he grunted, “Yes.”
Mikey returned to what he’d been doing. “Good.”
They could be across the city from each other without even feeling the distance. Ronon could also hop planets in the system without it being a problem. There was a bit of an ache that rested just beneath Mikey’s ribs, like an emptiness that somehow hurt, but it wasn’t anything he couldn’t ignore.
The problem, as Jennifer had pointed out, was that it might mean hopping systems could end in something a little more dire.
Jonas was looking into getting permission from his government and the SGC to stay. John was disturbingly good at being nonchalant about things, and Jonas told Mikey, “It’s kind of different, knowing he’s pleased.”
Mikey blinked. “I-- You couldn’t read him?”
Jonas shrugged. “Some of the time. You could read Ronon all the time?”
“I was getting closer,” Mikey lied.
Jonas grinned. Mikey smiled a little bit, giving credence to Jonas’ instinct. Jonas said, “Jennifer had it right. She got the easy one.”
Mikey managed a straight face for all of two seconds before he burst out laughing.
Caldwell was clearly less than thrilled by the idea being presented to him. Mikey didn’t blame him—having to turn the Daedalus around when a third or more of the way back to Earth didn’t sound like fun to him, either, thanks. But neither did both him and Ronon bleeding out energy until they both died. Lesser of the two evils, then.
Luckily, Woolsey wasn’t going to back down on this one—probably more because he needed to know this kind of information for seven of the city’s inhabitants than because Mikey’s livelihood was at stake, but Mikey was fine with that, too.
Mikey’d been sending short emails to Gerard through the daily data packets letting him know things were fine, he just couldn’t get straight back. But he told Ronon, “I need to-- I kinda need some face time.”
Ronon nodded. “I told John two days ago, when you first starting worrying about it.”
“Oh,” Mikey said.
Ronon looked away. “You can tell me these things.”
Mikey snorted. “You’re one to talk.”
Mikey could feel the swirl of agreement in Ronon, so he smiled and let it go. John managed to get Mikey the vidconference he needed. Mikey was definitely getting John football tickets the next time he was on the surface—assuming Mikey could get back.
Gerard, Ray and Frank were sitting in front of the camera when they dialed through. Mikey said, “The short version of the story is that I had to bond with Ronon and we’re not entirely sure if I-- Uh, the bond might have a distance radius. Maybe.”
Mikey’d been practicing what he was going to say so he could make it come out easily and quickly, but it was possible he should have slowed down, since they were all staring at him a little blankly. Mikey tried again. “Um. Think Korvus and Marvel Girl. Except, Ancient Tech and we were already pretty dumb over each other.”
That helped a little, since Frank was nodding, Ray was rolling his eyes, and Gerard looked both concerned and as though this was the best thing to happen EVER. Mikey sighed. Ray was the one to say, “Tell us you’re not stuck there, Mikeyway.”
Mikey hedged. “Probably not?”
Frank frowned. Gerard looked panicked. Mikey winced. “I’m going to try coming home on the Daedalus. We’re just not sure if I can or not.”
Gerard tilted his head to the side. “Do you think there’s much of an audience for us in the Pegasus galaxy?”
It was Frank’s turn to look panicked. Mikey forestalled a wig out with, “Let’s take one step at a time, Gee. See if I can make it home first.”
Lyn was going to kill Mikey if she had to pack up and move herself and her kid to another galaxy. And Mikey wouldn’t even be able to blame her.
“Okay,” Gerard said, but he sounded dangerously like he was thinking.
Mikey threw a plea for mercy silently at Ray, who nodded and said, “See you in a couple of weeks.”
Mikey put his crossed fingers up by his face, where they’d all be able to see them.
Ten days into the trip, Mikey got a headache that made him want to vomit at the smell of air and cry whenever someone made a noise. The onboard physician gave him cautious doses of experimental pain-meds, uncertain about how they would mix with the anti-depressants and not wanting to cause any sort of relapse of addiction. Mikey appreciated the thought, really, was sure he would appreciate it even more if he could think straight.
On the twelfth day, he developed a nosebleed the doctor couldn’t stop, and Atlantis contacted them. Ronon was bleeding from his ears.
The Daedalus turned around, and within five days, Mikey felt achey, but fine. When they docked back at Atlantis, Mikey allowed the pull of Ronon to lead him under the stairs in the docking bay. Ronon was sitting beneath them, knees curled into his chest.
Mikey sat down next to him, curling his own knees up, scooting in close enough that he was practically atop Ronon. Ronon didn’t say anything for a long time, but Mikey could feel the way everything inside of him was pent up, unsure, frustrated, except for the part where Mikey was near, and that was all Ronon really wanted.
Finally, Ronon said, “I asked-- Jen had already said there was no way to undo it, but if I-- You know, if one of us died—“
Mikey had never once in his life hit someone. Not even the time he was in high school and he caught the fucking chess club screwing with Gerard, just because they had a group and he didn’t. Even then, Mikey just pulled the nearest teacher in, figuring that’d do more damage than him trying to reach down and find his non-existent kung-fu skills. Now, however, with Ronon being four times the size of him and a fully-trained military machine, now Mikey pulled back his arm and hit Ronon, as hard as he could. He felt Ronon react more with shock than with pain, and if anything, that just pissed Mikey off more. He moved far enough that he could kick Ronon, could say, “You complete. fucking. asshole,” and know Ronon would feel everything Mikey was, which was a million times worse than anything Mikey’s shitkicker boots could manage.
Ronon took it for a bit before restraining Mikey, his hands careful, always careful on him, and said, ”Okay, okay. Just, I know how Gerard is for you. I knew before, but now I know.”
Mikey clung to Ronon—he had somehow ended up being held by him, but that was fine, that was where he wanted to be. “You should know how you are for me, you gigantic fucking douchegrenade.”
The flurry of emotions that weren’t Mikey’s was impossible to parse—regret and determination and guilt and love. Ronon just held on. Mikey said, “I’m still glad you knocked Worm out and scared the shit out of me in that alleyway. I’m still glad.”
Ronon said, “Me too,” like an apology. Mikey laughed at him, just a little.
Mikey emailed Bob. He knew he shouldn’t, that Frank would yell at him, but this was bigger than some bug they’d each gotten up their ass about the music and turned into some epic, band-rending shitfit.
The email said, “Something happened, okay? I can’t get back “state”side. Rodney says he needs a month, probably, but he can fix the issue. Give them cover. Tell people something, a working-out-issues something, dying of cancer something, I don’t care, just, please. You owe me.”
There were certain favors Mikey’d never thought to call in—things he hadn’t even thought of as favors at the time. The kind of favor where he’d helped Bob keep quiet his marriage to a Sudanese woman and subsequent adoption of her child was probably at the top of the list. But Charuni and Nijam were settled, had all their papers. Mikey could well understand Bob not wanting his private life made public, knew for a fact Bob had stayed as far away from the public as possible to manage it. Mikey was pretty sure, though, if his private life went public, it would cause, among other things, a major international incident. Also, he would probably be taken out back and quietly killedalong with everything and everyone else he held dear.
As for the email Mikey sent to Gerard, all it said was, “Tell Frank to fucking deal.”
Within three days, there was a headline running on MTV about MCR taking a break. “It’s rumored they’re speaking to ex-drummer Bob Bryar about a return. Further information pending.”
Bob’s return email said, “N says to tell you he beat your Wii Tennis score.”
Nijam was four. Then again, Mikey really blew at Wii Tennis.
It took Rodney twenty-nine days and sixteen hours to figure out a solution to the problem. That was three days after permission came through from Jonas’ government, so Mikey suspected Rodney might have delayed a little bit, but that was okay. Twenty-nine days and sixteen hours had evidently given his band time to get back together. It worried Mikey a little that it had taken him literally disappearing from the Earth’s surface for this to happen, but he was somewhat reassured by Ray’s email. It explained, “Char’s been trying to get him to talk to Frank for ages, evidently. He misses playing. And Frank actually apologized.”
Mikey wasn’t as surprised by that last as he could have been—Frank missed Bob, Mikey could tell.
The device Rodney had managed to rig up would have to be worn at all times. Not wanting to take chances, Jennifer embedded the thing—which was about the size of Mikey’s pinkie fingernail—in his left forearm. She told him, “Try not to break that arm.”
Mikey figured that was good advice.
On Mikey’s last night in the city, Ronon and he stole popcorn from Rodney’s stash and sneaked up to the highest balcony on Atlantis. Ronon was cleared to be there, but Mikey not so much. It had never stopped them before.
It was a mild night, if a bit chilly that far up. They sat with their legs hanging over the balcony, curled into the blanket Ronon had brought up with them. Mikey ran his fingers over the area where he knew Ronon’s knee was still bruised from a bit of a “misunderstanding” on a mission the week before. Mikey told him, “I would have stayed.”
Ronon said, “I would have left.”
Mikey loved the fizzle of truth that ran through him at the statement. He smiled. “All things being equal, though, I really hope I don’t see you again in twenty-four days.”
Ronon huffed a little with laughter. “The Denver show, maybe?”
Mikey snuggled more tightly against Ronon’s side. “We’re playing Denver?”
“I had the SGC book an extra date for the tour.”
Mikey had a moment of trying to visualize one of the generals wrangling a venue. “Uh—“
Ronon must have understood his confusion because he said, “They have people who do things.”
“Oh,” Mikey said, as though that completely cleared everything up. Then again, given some of the stories Mikey’d heard the SGC disseminate over the years to deflect suspicion, he thought maybe it did. “Okay. So, Denver.”
“Fifty-three days,” Ronon told him.
It wasn’t quite as nice as getting to take Ronon back with him would have been. Still: “It’s a date.”