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The Frayed Bonds of Family

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"The ties that bind us to life are tougher than you imagine, or than any one can who has not felt how roughly they may be pulled without breaking." ~ Anne Bronte

 

“You know you have to read the whole thing, Son.” The General sat back and eyed Spencer with only a little bit of suspicion.

“General O’Neill, this isn’t my first rodeo as they say.” Dr. Spencer Reid leaned back and pushed the rather large NDA he had just finished signing and dotting all the lines too. “Believe it or not, General, that isn’t even the largest NDA I’ve ever had to deal with.”

Spencer saw that the General wanted to ask questions, but decided against it. They were both waiting for Spencer’s protection detail in the form of ex-Force Recon Marine, Derek Morgan to finish with his copy. Spencer had insisted and wouldn’t talk to the General without Derek knowing what Spencer knew. It was non-negotiable.

“He ain’t jokin’, Sir. Though, this has got to be the strangest.” Derek smiled as he finally finished with his and slid it across the table to O’Neill.

“Okay, now can we discuss what it is you had me called to Washington for?” 

Spencer stood and nodded to Derek who stood as well.

“Let’s have this conversation somewhere more private. We haven’t had a chance to do our daily sweep of this office.” Spencer walked out of the front office, down a hallway and to a non-descript wall that Spencer pushed an almost invisible button where a panel slid down exposing a strange keypad. Spencer typed in a code, the door slid open and as they passed into the room there was a hiss that made the General frown as they moved to find places to sit.

“That noise you heard was a cleaning agent that cleans the keypad after every use. The code gets changed every fifteen days, and in cases of emergency or if I’m kidnapped, Derek has protocols on his phone that scrub the keypad until I can input an override code that gets changed every sixty days.” Spencer pulled the laptop that was on the table in front of him then activated the screen on the wall at the opposite side of the room.

“That is some high security, Dr. Reid.”

“Yes, I developed the protocols myself with a friend I met in university. I knew what career path I wanted for myself and started to implement my own security measures without relying on others. My parents instilled in me a sense of independence that only got worse as I got older.” Spencer smiled at the General who looked suitably impressed. 

“Approximately twenty-two days ago while working on another classified project for the DoD, I stumbled upon some internet chatter in what people call the ‘dark’ web. In actuality what we are talking about is a whole other internet system called TOR, which is the most popular. There are other systems that can be used and I have utilized them myself in my work and research, but currently, TOR is the most popular for what can only be labeled as Internet Anarchists.

“You see, no one person, persons, government, or other entity is actually in charge of TOR. It just is. You can literally find things legal and illegal if you know what to look for. I won’t go into a long lecture about the nature of TOR and it’s possible ramifications. What you, General O’Neill, are here for is this specifically.” Spencer pulled up the chatter he had stumbled onto and immediately set about copying everything he could. “This was captured in real time. They didn’t even know I was there.”

Spencer gave the General time to absorb what it was he had found. Spencer advanced the information on the screen as O’Neill signaled that he was done with each section. Once all the information had been gone through, the General leaned forward and laid his head in his hand for a moment, then sat back.

“I assume this information is between us?”

“And a couple of key people that I trust that I knew could make this meeting happen.” Spencer shut down the computer then folded his hands over the laptop. “You have a problem, General O’Neill, and it’s more widespread than you might imagine.”

“I suppose you have an idea of what I might be able to do?”

“Yes. Since I am a high-level analyst with the security clearance to match. You bring me in to do a top down audit of the SGC. We can come up with a cover story that would make sense, but from this internet chatter someone in the Mountain is feeding information to The Trust. Whoever they are I promise you, I will find them.. 

“I am having a colleague do a deep investigation into the NID and I want to know if they are connected in any way to each other. No, I am not telling you his name, not even Derek knows it. He goes by Mr. Bones and that is all you’re getting.” Spencer tapped his fingers on the top of the laptop and waited for the General’s reaction. Spencer knew O’Niell was far more shrewd than a lot of people gave him credit for, but Spencer also figured out that was exactly how the General wanted it. 

“As I get into the investigation I may bring in others who can help me filter the information. They will be off-base and only I will have access to them. Their security is of the utmost importance to me. I don’t want any of my people compromised.”

General O’Neill appeared to be thinking about Spencer’s proposal. 

“I understand, Dr. Reid. When did you want to get started.”

“As soon as you give the okay.”

Spencer wasn’t unsympathetic to the General’s position, he would be upset at the information he had learned if their situations were reversed. This thing he had stumbled into went deep, but Spencer was good at rooting out the nexus of any shadow organization that had tried to get traction on American Soil. He had even helped out British and Canadian Governments a time or two. 

“When can you be in Colorado?”

Spencer smiled and knew this was going to be one of the more intriguing assignments he had ever been on.

* * * * *

Spencer settled in at his desk deep underground at the SGC. General O’Neill had taken over the day-to-day operations with his partner, Dr. Daniel Jackson. Spencer knew DADT was dead, but it didn’t mean that there weren't any issues among the rank and file, but the weeks that he had already been in the Mountain, as everyone called it, most of the major prejudices were culled. You couldn’t have groups of people going out to meet alien races who were racist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, etc. Some of the stories Spencer heard from those around him he would have called bullshit on weeks ago.

Laughing to himself, Spencer got down to work. He had already interviewed over half the civilians and a little over half of the military. He rooted out two people already that had slipped in by stealing the identities of soldiers that were either missing in action, or found dead in a nondescript morgue and tagged as John or Jane Does.

Spencer had Mr. Bones, Miss Gemma, and a few others checking identities of SGC personnel, both foreign and domestic, before the individual interviews. Also, people from Area 51 were being transported over as well. 

He was deep in reading over some files when there was a knock on his door. Looking up, Spencer saw his next interview. Smiling he got up, introduced himself and led the woman to the room next to his office. All interviews were recorded, and copies automatically made to his laptop, and one sent to Miss Gemma for fact checking and an identity confirmation. 

“Thank you for coming in, Dr. Carter. I know your time is essential, but there are concerns about the SGC and I have been contracted to make sure everything is as it should be.” Spencer pressed a button, then turned on a digital recorder in the middle of the table. “I had some security upgrades to this room made. No listening devices or recording devices other than that particular digital recorder will work in this room.

“Now, do you, Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Samantha Carter understand that you are being recorded pertaining to an ongoing investigation within Stargate Command?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Could you please, for fact checking purposes, please state your name, rank, and duties here at the SGC?”

“My name is Samantha Carter, Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. Currently I am head of research and development over at Area 51.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant.” Spencer pulled his notes and the stack of files closer to him and waited a few beats before continuing. “Is it true that you father Jacob Carter, a former Major General in the United States Air Force, allowed himself to be taken over by an alien symbiote known as a Tok’ra?” Spencer kept his tone neutral and his demeanor professional. The glare he got from Colonel Carter Spencer had already gotten from other members of the SGC.

“I don’t see how my father having the opportunity to save his own life has anything to do with this.” 

Spencer leaned back in his chair and gave Carter an appraising look.

“It has everything to do with this investigation and audit, Colonel Carter. Everyone is a suspect until they are cleared. Now, please answer the question.”

“Yes. My father accepted the symbiote named Selmak. They were both dying and my father, to save his own life, agreed to host Selmak, who was also dying because his host at the time was.”

“And your father currently lives off-world, is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have regular contact with your father, Colonel?”

“Yes.”

“And do you have access to technology that the Tok’ra have?”

“I do. They have given us a few things to study and make use of.”

Spencer wrote a few notes for himself while the Colonel just glared at him.

“Colonel, did you know that, what I have recently learned, is a Tok’ra healing device has been found on the black market being sold?”

Carter frowned and pulled back in her chair.

“No. I had no idea.”

Spencer opened up a box that was on the table that he knew Carter had been eyeing the whole time they were sitting there talking. He pulled out what looked like a ‘glove’ and set it down on the table.

“A black ops team that I have access to raided the person that had this and several other items that have been identified as Tok’ra. I’ve been told that all of these should have been in secure, labeled storage boxes at Area 51. 

“The conclusion is, you have a problem, or you are the one to take them out and are releasing them to the black market.”

There was a storm in Colonel Carter’s eyes, but she held herself in check as she sat there glaring at Spencer.

“I would never betray the SGC, or the trust of the Tok’ra in that way. If you have evidence of something I’ve done wrong, I’ll gladly answer, but this is ridiculous.” 

Spencer kept his own counsel and kept his face neutral as he made his note.

“Then, there is a leak somewhere either in Area 51, or here at the SGC. What I need from you, Colonel is a list of all personnel that have unfettered access to both areas.”

Carter glared and looked reluctant as Spencer handed over a pad and pen. 

“Look, I’m here as an independent third party. I don’t know any of you which means I have no bias towards anyone. In the grand scheme of things, I truly don’t care who you are Colonel. My whole professional life revolves around people who do heroic acts every single day. While I can say I am grateful for your service, I have no care who you are.” Spencer put the items back in the secure box they had been housed in, then finally looked up to see Carter’s stunned expression. Spencer was honest. He didn’t care who she was, what he cared about was the truth.

“Now, I need the names of everyone who had or has access to both SGC and Area 51.”

Spencer sat back and waited for Carter to stop glaring at him and concentrate on the task he had given her. It was only a couple of moments later when she was handing him a list which he took and put it in a file that he slipped into his briefcase.

“Thank you, Colonel. That will be all.”

Carter stood and walked out. He knew she was going to go to the General and complain about him, several of those that had been at the SGC for a long time had already made their complaints. Lucky for Spencer he had a thick skin and didn’t really care about what they thought.

Needing to clear his head, Spencer made his way out of the small conference room to his office where he locked up the Tok’ra technology as well as his notes, the recording of the interview and the computer transcript. He was feeling a little restless and decided to go find Doctor Daniel. Spencer was drawn to the older man, but more on a professional level. He knew of the not so secret relationship between Daniel and the General. Stepping into Dr. Daniel’s office he noticed the man was deep into a translation so Spencer decided to wait for him as he slowly walked around the room looking at all of the tech Dr Jackson was examining.

Spencer leaned against a counter and was intrigued by an item to the left of him. It appeared to be some kind of toy. Picking it up Spencer was surprised when it lit up different colors on all sides. Turning it around in his hands a few times he figured out this was some kind of learning device. Spencer was fully immersed in playing with the device he had not heard the sharp intake of breath from Dr. Jackson. 

“Dr. Reid,” Daniel called out making Spencer look up at the man.

“Yes? Did I do something wrong?”

“Umm, no not exactly. But, I think we might need to talk. But first, can you hold this in both hands?” Daniel took the toy from Spencer and handed him a two handled device that Spencer took and held. It also lit up bright and clear. “Well, shit.”

“Okay, want to tell me what’s going on?”

“I think I better take you to Jack and he can try to explain. Come on.” Daniel walked toward the door to his lab and walked out forcing Spencer to follow him. “Oh, and keep that with you,” Daniel yelled over his shoulder.

Spencer, though confused on what was going on, followed Daniel to O’Neill’s office. Before they even got all the way there, Daniel was calling out for O’Neill.

“Daniel, you don’t need to shout, what’s going on?” O’Neill was standing at his office door watching the two men as they came closer.

“Dr. Reid, show Jack.” Daniel made hand gestures to mean that Spencer should hold the device once more.

“Well, shit.” 

“Okay, can someone tell me what’s going on?”

“That is a long explanation. Let’s go to the conference room where we’ll be more comfortable and we can keep you in copious amounts of coffee.”

Spencer frowned, but the thought of coffee had him moving where O’Neill was headed towards. They all settled after Walter came in with fresh carafes of coffee, one for Spencer, one for Daniel, and the other for whoever wanted some. Spencer wondered how Walter knew he would want his own carafe, but there were some questions that Spencer had come to realize he just didn’t want answered. He poured a cup and doctored it to his liking while Daniel did the same.

“Jesus, there’s two of you,” O’Neill teased.

Spencer took a sip and smiled before setting it down and picking up the device he had brought with him.

“Okay, now will you tell me what’s going on?”

O’Neill held his hand out and it took a moment for Spencer to realize that the General wanted the device. He held it and it lit up as bright as when Spencer held it. He then passed it to Daniel, where it barely glowed.

“It’s called the ATA gene, or Ancient Technology Activation gene. You, Dr. Reid have the natural ability to use ancient technology and by how bright that device glowed, it’s a fairly strong expression. I know how private you are, but can I ask who your parents are?”

Spencer sat back and sipped his coffee contemplating if he wanted to disclose that information. “Can I ask why you want to know?”

“We don’t ask this lightly, Dr. Reid, but in cataloging those who have the gene we’ve been able to determine that certain family groups have this potential. All information stays here at the SGC under extreme security directives. I promise you, nothing you say will leave this room.”

Spencer had a gut feeling that he could trust General O’Neill. Nothing in the weeks that he had been at the SGC told him that O’Neill was anything other than completely loyal not only to the program, but to the US Government as a whole.

“Dr. Diana Reid is my mother and Patrick Sheppard is my father.” Spencer sat back after pouring another cup of coffee. By the shocked looks on both men’s faces Spencer had the impression they knew exactly who Patrick Sheppard is.

“Would that make you the younger brother of Major John Sheppard?” O’Neill shrewdly watched Spencer as he frowned and pushed his coffee away from him.

“Umm, yes, but how do you know my brother?”

“I think I have a few files you need to read.” O’Neill stood up and not thirty seconds later Walter was handing him a stack of files as well as a tablet. 

“How does he do that?” Spencer asked as he watched Walter leave the room.

“Frankly, we don’t ask because I think Jack would be afraid of the answer.” Daniel’s amused look had Spencer chuckling. The stack of files was set before Spencer as was the tablet after Daniel unlocked it and slid it over to Spencer.

“I think we’ll give you some time.”

“Can you tell me what’s in these files?”

“Son, I think it’s better that you read everything before you ask questions. Once you’re done, then we’ll talk.” O’Neill stood and tapped Daniel on the shoulder indicating they should leave. Daniel smiled at Spencer, grabbed his carafe of coffee, making Spencer chuckle, and the two left Spencer alone to go through all of the information left for him.

After a couple of hours Walter brought Spencer a plate of food and another carafe of coffee. Spencer just watched him leave and wondered just how the guy knew when someone needed or wanted something, but he just shook his head and returned to the files.

“That son-of-a-bitch!” Spencer shoved back from the table and was seething with anger. He started to pace as fury like he had never felt before enveloped him. He couldn’t believe that his brother had gone off to another galaxy and never said anything to anyone. Spencer was breathing hard and trying to get his emotions under control when O’Neill walked back into the room.

“To be fair to Major Sheppard, there wasn’t much time and he was essentially drafted to go. I’m sorry for that.”

“I can’t believe he did this.” Spencer stopped and felt the devastation settle on him as he almost fell down onto a chair. Luckily O’Neill was there and quickly was able to grab a hold of Spencer before he hurt himself. “He could die and we would never know! Why would he do this?” Spencer wiped at his eyes and felt like he did the first day his father had taken him to the Sheppard family home. 

“I don’t know, Dr. Reid, that would be something you’d have to find out from him. We’re working on getting The Daedalus finished to send supplies and reinforcements.”

Spencer stood and started to pace, his mind spiralling as he tried to work all of this out in his head. He couldn’t believe the complete stupidity of his brother. He was angry at a level he never had been before. When his thoughts stopped spinning, he leaned on the table and glared at the General.

“I will make you a deal General. I will deliver the traitors to you in one week and take down the elements of the Trust, whoever is at the head of it, and you get me to Atlantis.”

“Son, I don’t know if I can authorize that.”

“I have five PhD’s, and several BA’s both in hard and soft sciences. I am a cryptographer and code breaker. I am also a formidable linguist and if you give me time I could learn Ancient in no time. You also have seen that I can use Ancient technology without even trying. 

“There are also some things you need to have changed and if you need to get the IOA in here to do it, that would make my job all the easier. I have some words for them, and I suspect that some of the members of the IOA are Trust. Believe me, General I have enough pull with enough people to make this happen.”

O’Neill watched as Spencer stood his ground. He knew he was going to get his way, that also meant him calling in a few favors and having some people he trusted to come to the Mountain for a meeting. He was already close in identifying the rest of the people involved in the treasonous acts, he just needed to find who was leading them in the Mountain then turning them over to those that were better equipped in breaking them down and getting the full picture.

“Alright. I’ll make some calls.”

Spencer smiled, but even O’Neill and Daniel could see it was not a nice one. They looked downright scared of Spencer, which he didn’t mind at all.

* * * * *

One week later, Spencer was true to his word. He not only finished his investigation and found members of the Trust and rogue NID on six other teams, but the ones that had been taken into custody gave up the name of the leader. Spencer was not interested in the clean-up, that would be O’Neill’s job and then ultimately General Hammond, seeing as he was head of Homeworld Security.

No, what Spencer was interested in at the moment were the members of the IOA, the Atlantis charter he had in front of him and the ridiculous referendums in the charter. He was also angry that they put someone who had never worked at being an Ambassador a day in her life, and was not a scientist in charge of a scientific expedition. He wanted answers, and he had drafted a proposal of his own with his colleagues, who already had some of the highest security clearances in Government. When they had read the charter, they all agreed it was beyond unreasonable.

“Dr. Reid, why exactly are we here?” Carl Storm, the IOA committee head asked Spencer, who was giving no quarter to any of the people there. 

“I called you here because frankly every single one of you sitting in those chairs, aside from General O’Neill and Dr. Jackson, are idiots of the highest order.”

“No see here, Dr. Reid, you have no idea...”

“No idea? Sir, I know every single move you people have made when it comes to both Stargate Command and the Atlantis Expedition. I have people working with me that have clearances you all only dream of. I can assure you that in my research and investigation I learned more about each and everyone of you than you will ever be able to find out about me.

“You sit in your ivory towers of politics smug and condescending believing that you and your individual Governments will benefit from the research and development that takes place here on Earth and on Atlantis. You are arrogant, self-righteous, self-centered, morons that didn’t even realize that the NID and Trust were working their way to taking every single one of you down.” Spencer stood, grabbed a stack of reports to the far left of the ones in front of him. He literally threw one down in front of each of the committee members, not even trying to show grace and humility. His anger was a living breathing thing in the room.

“I can assure you that General O’Neill and others in command of the SGC would all tell you go fuck yourselves if they could. But, you all have conveniently gotten your barbed hooks so deep inside this organization, it would take years to untangle. 

“However, I can assure you that after today, you will have an oversight yourselves. And, believe me if you thought General O’Neill was a bastard, wait until you meet with the UN Security Council after I get done with you. They don’t like you. Any of you and frankly each of the companies that you represent in under the table agreements,  are on their major hit list of the worst offenders in regards to pollution, slave labor, unfair labor practices, price gouging, and the list goes on. They would love to tear each of you apart and give a piece of their mind to your Governments for mixing politics and this type of unconscionable greed.

“But, they know they can’t, what they can do is bring you to heel.” Spencer smiled that sharklike smile of his as he sat back down at his place at the table. O’Neill was trying his damndest not to smile. 

“And just exactly how are they going to do that?” The representative from France, Jean LaPierre had a smarmy smile on his face that Spencer frankly wanted to punch. He normally wasn’t a violent man, but the way they had vetoed reasonable requests for the expedition made him beyond angry, and not just because his idiot brother was there. 

“Each of you will be brought up on charges in front of the UN World Court. Since you each represent your countries, and in fact have secret agreements to many manufacturing and industrial companies, you will personally answer for their crimes.  For every single violation that has been brought to their attention the charge brings upwards of ten million dollars worth of damages and some of you have quite the list going for you. Mr. Chapman, Wickingham Manufacturing alone has over 100 allegations being brought against you. That’s a potential of one billion dollars in fines and restitution as well as clean-up of the environment the company has polluted. 

“Miss Xiaoyi, do I even need to bring up the numerous violations to not only China’s air quality, but water as well from a direct result of a major environmental hazard that your company caused? Oh, I know that you did not actually give up your chair as CEO of Bei-Jing Mining and  Smelting as you were ordered to do before taking a seat as an IOA rep. You could be looking at billions of dollars worth of restitution if the World Court found you guilty.

“Do I need to go on? Those packets in front of you are all of the potential charges that the UN is willing to go forward with and absolute proof of each of those violations have been gathered by several sources and are being stored on a secure hard drive that not even I know where it’s being kept.” Spencer smiled once more and each of the members of the committee started to squirm in their chairs. “You do see the problem, don’t you? If you were to end up in these lengthy court battles, your resources, as well as your Government’s would be put on hold and you would no longer have the funds available to essentially bully and berate the SGC and the Atlantis Expedition with your utterly ridiculous demands, or your unreasonable instances of telling them no they can’t have resources critical to do their jobs.”

Commander Woolsey tried not to smile and Spencer wondered at that. He had read up on Woolsey and found him to be too by the book, but also had an open mind. The rest of the committee looked like they wanted to kill Spencer.

“And what exactly gives you the right or authority to be here challenging us?” Colonel Chekov sneered at Spencer as leaned on the table.

“For one, I’ve grown up in the kind of wealth each of you commands at your whim, so I know exactly who each of you are and how you wield that wealth. Secondly, my degrees and knowledge have put me in a position to help out powerful people in not only the US, but Canada, France, the UK, and several other countries. Me and my team don’t use our real names when we are contracted to do an investigation. You won’t find us anywhere in any documents. Only certain people around the world know who I am. And, lastly my colleagues and my family are as politically and financially powerful as any person sitting at this table.” 

Spencer stood up once more grabbed the next stack of reports he had and once again practically threw them down in front of each committee member. Once he sat back down voices around the table were raised in protest after they read the title of the document. There was shouting and the shaking of fists, threats, and vile comments thrown at Spencer. A loud whistling from O’Neill had everyone sitting back down and shutting up.

“I read through every single Atlantis report and realized that all of you sitting here are, one, ignorant of military strategy, two, have zero knowledge on how a scientific mission should be handled, and three, put people you thought you could control in charge. Dr. Weir, though an intelligent and capable woman when it comes to negotiations, is hardly leadership material. The reports from Atlantis show that she has absolutely no fucking clue what she is doing.

“Her hesitation on critical decision making makes her the biggest liability Atlantis currently has. The second liability was putting a medical researcher as the CMO of the expedition! Dr. Beckett, by his own admission, had not worked in a medical facility doing hands on care in almost fifteen years. Yes, he was instrumental in creating the ATA gene therapy, but some of his actions in the Pegasus system are beyond suspect. Dr. Beckett does not follow proper scientific protocols and is too wrapped up in research that he does not consider the consequences of his actions.

“Everyone of you, except Commander Woolsey vetoed more military personnel and military ordinance as well as food stores, additional uniforms, medicine, and more. Frankly none of you should have been involved in putting this half assed mission together.” Spencer was far from being done, but he needed something to drink as he sat back down after pouring some water.

“I take it this is some bullshit new charter?” Carl Strom looked furious, but Spencer had dealt with worse in his years as an independent analyst, code breaker, and cryptographer. 

“Oh, it’s not bullshit. Your original charter was gone through with a fine toothed comb by a man on my team who has put together dozens of scientific expeditions. The other person was a high ranking military asset that has been critical in the creation of large scale multinational and multi armed forces operations. They both told me to tell you that everyone of you is a fucking idiot that doesn’t know your ass from your mouth.”

“Dr. Reid. You are treading on dangerous ground.” Representative Aurelia Dixon-Smythe ground her teeth as she spoke up for the first time.

“Is that a threat Miss Dixon-Smythe? If so I would be very careful on who I threatened. Now, Dr. Jackson, General O’Neill and myself,  are going to give you exactly two and a half hours to read though the new proposed charter and the addendum at the end, then we will come back here with some people you will want to meet. And after that, this meeting will be finalized.” Spencer stood and walked out with Daniel and O’Neill who was headed to O’Neill’s office.

“I think I love you, Dr. Reid.” O’Neill gave Spencer a cheeky smile as he walked into his office. “I’ve been wanting to give those assholes a piece of my mind since I took back my mountain from Landry.”

“Yes, well, Landry was an idiot for letting the IOA get such a foothold without talking to a proper negotiator. Giving them so much control was a stupid move.” Spencer flopped down in a chair and let out the breath he was holding.

“And he sincerely regrets his actions. But, I want to thank you for all you’ve helped us with here.”

“I’m not doing all of this for you, General. I’m doing this for my Brother and for my family. You just get the benefit of my current righteous anger.” Spencer smiled at the General belying his words just a little.

“How did you get so much information?” Daniel asked.

“I have a good team. I didn’t do this by myself. Of course some of them had already been looking into the individual companies at the UN’s request. The money that the IOA is pouring into the SGC and the Atlantis mission isn’t all coming from their individual Governments. We found secret agreements that had been signed by almost everyone on the committee. Some of the Governments know, some don’t. By the end of the week they will be fully informed. It really is a huge coincidence that the very people the UN World Council was investigating, are the very people on this committee.”

O’Neill nodded and looked at Daniel with a smile on his face. Spencer wondered if there was a bit of subterfuge on their part in regards to the UN’s questions. Frankly Spencer didn’t care how all of this played out. What he cared about was getting to John and getting the resources they are due. He had a gut feeling that time was of the essence.

* * * * * 

Exactly at the two and a half hour mark Spencer walked back into the conference room with Daniel, O’Neill, and two new faces that the committee members were eyeing warily.

“You cannot be serious with this.” Strom threw the charter on the table and leaned back glaring at Spencer.

“Very serious. While Dr. Weir is a very capable negotiator and diplomat, she is not a leader. She has no experience with a science expedition, and has no background in leading a team of any kind. While I do see her value as a second contact person, I don’t understand her value in leading a mixed scientific and military operation. She has no military background, no scientific background. She is a diplomat and negotiations expert, that is all.”

“She has the second best knowledge on the Ancient language.”

“Technically third, maybe fourth best. Dr. Daniel Daniel is the foremost expert as he has been working on translating Ancient since SG-1 found what is essentially the Rosetta stone.” O’Neill looked far from pleased at what he was hearing. “Dr. McKay is a close second in his understanding and then Samantha Carter. Dr. Weir is frankly late to the game.”

“No offense was meant General.”

“Oh, yes it was. I also agreed with Dr. Reid’s assessment and voiced my concerns when Weir was appointed as the head of the expedition. Now, reading these reports, even her own, you see a woman who is far out of her depth.”

Strom held the charter in his hands and tapped it against the table as if he was thinking. “I take it you have someone else in mind?”

“I do, and she has been sitting here patiently waiting. Ladies and Gentlemen, please meet Dr. Alex Blake and her husband Dr. James Blake. Alex is one of the foremost linguistics experts working in Academia today. Her credentials, no offense to you Dr. Jackson, far outstrip Dr. Jackson’s, Weir’s, or Carter’s. 

“Her husband James has an extensive medical background. Currently he runs his own team through Doctors Without Borders. He knows combat medical care, emergency triage in unusual circumstances and has many years clinical experience. While he has also done research, patient care is his emphasis.”

“I am going to assume they have been read in.” Xiaoyi asked in a tone that told everyone there how displeased she was.

“Yes. Both of us have. I have to say it was not only a bold move, but frankly a stupid and irresponsible move to put a man like Dr. Carson Beckett as the CMO. Doing my research, he has been a pure researcher longer than he has been a patient forward physician.” Alex smiled and waited.

“He was instrumental in creating the ATA Gene therapy. He deserved to go.”

“Maybe so, but you don’t put someone who hasn’t done clinical patient care in charge of medical operations of a combined military and scientific expedition. That is just asking for all sorts of trouble.”

Spencer sat back and let James and Alex take over. Alex talked about her years at the FBI and leading large operations like search and rescue, as well as the day to day running of an FBI satellite office. Spencer was impressed at how both of them answered all questions. 

“You really give us no choice here. You seem to be holding far too many cards, Dr. Reid.” Strom pressed his lips together then hesitated only a moment before he was signing the new charter putting Alex in charge with Weir as the resident negotiator and Earth Ambassador to the Pegasus System. James was to take over as the CMO with Beckett put into the role of research scientist with oversight from James.

There was going to be a lot of shake-ups when Alex, James, and himself finally made it to Atlantis, he just hoped that they were changes for the better.

* * * * * 

Spencer was nervous as he held the phone to his ear pacing the back of the restaurant that Alex and James had taken him to. He knew had needed to make this call, but Spencer was still nervous. He had not talked to his father in a few years because Spencer had sided with John after the divorce from Nancy.

Hello?”

“Dad...” Spencer was tongue tied as he leaned against the wall, closing his eyes he let his head fall back against the wall. “Dad, it’s me. It’s Spencer.”

Spencer,” Spencer could hear the catch in his father’s throat and it made that hard knot that lived in his heart when it came to his father loosen just a little. “ It’s good to hear from you, Son. Where are you these days? Are you safe ?”

“Yeah, Dad. I’m safe. Listen, we need to talk, but it can’t be over the phone. I need you to come to Colorado and I need you to not ask a lot of questions until you get here.” Spencer looked down at the floor as he nervously shuffled one foot back and forth.

That doesn’t sound like you’re safe.”

“Dad, please. This is important. I need to see you and you need to hold your questions until you get here.”

Spencer could tell his father was thinking by the pregnant pause. There was the sound of keys clicking and Patrick calling his secretary into his office.

I’ll get my schedule cleared and be there tomorrow. Does David need to be there?”

“He can come, but I haven’t been able to get him clearance. But, I’d like to see him.” Spencer’s heart was racing and his stomach was in knots.

“Son, I promise, I’ll be there. Whatever this is, you know we can work this out.” Patrick paused and Spencer could hear him moving around his office. “ I know I made a mess of things, kiddo. I’m glad you called, I’ve missed you. You’re bother has missed you.”

“Are you still angry at me, at, John?” Spencer had to ask before he ended the conversation.

“Oh, kiddo, I was for a time. But the longer you both stayed out of contact, I realized what an ass I was being. I had too many expectations when John got married. But, why don’t we talk about this when I get there. Now, give me details so I can get arrangements made.”

Spencer let out a long breath before he gave his father the pertinent details on how to get to the hotel Spencer was staying at in Colorado Springs when he wasn’t in the Mountain. After hanging up he made his way back to the table where Alex and James were waiting.

“You all right, Spencer?”

“Yeah. Yeah I think I am. It’s just that I haven’t spoken with my father in far too long. It’s going to be an interesting day tomorrow.” Spencer grabbed the coffee that was waiting for him and drank half of it before he felt he could talk again. “Are you guys certain you want to do this?”

Alex leaned on the table, smiling.

“It’s an interesting adventure. I know how dangerous it is, but I feel like it’s something worth doing.”

James had a contemplative look on his face and looked to weigh his words before he spoke. “I have been in some very complicated and dangerous situations but every one has been rewarding in some way. I think this new phase will be the same.”

“And you both have advanced weapons training, so that’s a plus. I’m nervous about what’s going to happen when we get there.” Spencer speared one of the appetizers that was in the middle of the table and popped it into his mouth, giving him a moment.

“Oh, I’m sure there will be some upheaval, but from the reports that I read, it’s what’s needed. Don’t worry, Spencer. James and I have waded into worse situations. You know exactly what it took to get me back in the BAU. The small and not so small battles I had to wage.”

“I do. I’m really glad you’re here, Alex. I think eventually it will be the right thing.”

“I do to. Now, I think we should set all of this aside and talk about what else you’ve been doing lately.”

Spencer smiled and sipped at his tea glad that his friends were here with him. He admired both Alex and James, she had been a mentor of sorts to him when he was working on his linguistics degree after moving back to Virginia.

Conversation was good as was the meal and by the time Spencer got back to General O’Neill’s house, where he had been staying the whole time he was at the SGC, he was feeling good.

“Dr. Reid, didn’t expect you until late.” Daniel was leaning against a counter sipping a cup of tea. Spencer knew after a certain time Daniel switched from coffee. He was a lot like Spencer in that sleep was often elusive. Spencer had to swallow down the arousal that his him as he looked up at Daniel. The man was only in his boxers and a tight plain white t-shirt. 

“Alex and James were tired from the travel and wanted to get some sleep. I think I’m going to take a shower and try to read, or listen to some music to relax.”

Daniel set his cup on the counter and crossed his arms over his chest. “Or, we could all just stop dancing around the obvious attraction we have been avoiding these last few weeks.” Daniel leaned back even more and Spencer cussed the man out in his head.

“What makes you think I do one-night stands.” Spencer took off his jacket after setting his messenger bag near the table by the front door. He had also slipped out of his shoes and set them with the others, O’Neill had no shoes on in the house rule. 

“Who says it has to be a one-night stand.” Daniel’s eye crinkled up as Spencer walked towards him. “You’re going to be here until the Daedalus is ready, and Jack and I have liked having you here.”

Spencer went to the fridge to get a bottle of water to whet his now dry mouth. Dr. Jackson’s proposal wasn’t unwelcomed, Spencer just was not sure at the dynamics at play. 

“Aren’t you and the General in a committed relationship?”

“Of course we are.” O’Neill walked in but at least he had on pajama pants and a t-shirt. Still did not help the arousal Spencer felt. He had seen them in various states of dress and was privy to a very hot make-out session when they were supposed to be making dinner. “But, we sometimes invite someone we’re interested in to share our bed.”

“And you’re saying you’re interested in me?”

“Since the day I walked into your house.” O’Neill’s sarcastic smile had Spencer sitting on the arm of the couch so he wouldn’t fall flat on his ass with how weak his knees got. He wasn’t opposed to what they were offering, Spencer had not had sex in a while and the thought of having the two men in front of him was short-circuiting his brain. Contrary to what some of his friends believed, Spencer liked sex, he liked meeting new people and dating, even if he was often quite awkward at it. 

But this was something different. O’Neill and Daniel were a committed couple and they were telling Spencer they wanted him to share their bed. He had to make sure he was okay with it before anything further happened.

“And you are both okay with this?” Spencer watched as Daniel moved closer.

“Yes, Spencer we are both more than okay with this.”

Spencer stood and wrapped a hand around Daniel’s waist, while the other gripped the back of his head. Pressing in close he kissed Daniel. He was hesitant at first, but slowly as Daniel kissed back, Spencer let out a moan and pressed in closer. A hand fisted in his hair and gripped tight, then pulled him away from Daniel. O’Neill went in for a kiss while Spencer still had a hold on Daniel. The manhandling from O’Neill made his cock twitch as their tongues met and stroked across each other.

“Why don’t we take this to the bedroom.” O’Neill pulled back and began to walk toward the back of the house, Daniel followed after and then Spencer, who began hastily pulling off his clothes as he went. This was an unexpected, but exciting turn of events. Hopping down the hall as he pulled off his socks, Spence stopped by the bedroom he was using and threw the clothes he had taken off inside. The only thing he had left was his trousers.

Walking into the bedroom and seeing both O’Neill and Daniel naked, half-hard already and waiting for him made all thoughts in his head fly away. 

“He’s not completely naked, Danny. Maybe you should go help him.” O’Neill leaned back in bed as Daniel moved towards Spencer, dropped to his knees and worked open his pants. Spencer closed his eyes while taking a deep breath to try to control himself or this would be over before it began. Daniel pushed boxers and trousers down, exposing Spencer’s full erection. The mouth that wrapped around him had him crying out. He laid his hands on Daniel’s shoulders to steady himself while Daniel worked his cock with his mouth.

“Shit,” Spencer let out a filthy moan as he was deep throated. Looking over to the bed, Spencer made another noise as he watched O’Neill slowly jacking himself off. “Daniel, dammit, if you don’t stop I’m not going to last.”

Daniel pulled off Spencer’s cock and grabbed him hand as he stood up. Being led to the bed, Spencer crawled up towards O’Neill and smirked before he bent his head and slowly took the man’s cock in his mouth.

“Fuck,” O’Neill exclaimed as he fisted a hand in Spencer’s hair, but didn’t try to guide him. Spencer licked the head, letting him feel the soft skin before he took the whole thing in his mouth and let the cock hit the back of his throat. He was so lost in the pleasure of giving O’Neill a blowjob, that he lost track of what Daniel was doing. A condom had been slipped over his cock as was some kind of cockring. When it snapped in place a light vibration moved though his genitals, 

“Goddamn,” Spencer cried out as he thrust his hips against the air trying to find some relief. A hand stroked him while fingers breached his ass slicking his entrance. 

“You are fucking gorgeous, Spencer,” Daniel sounded breathless as he pulled his fingers free. He also stopped his strokes making Spencer whine. “Don’t worry, you’re going to love this.” Daniel breached him with his cock seconds later and as he slowly stroked in and out a warmth built up inside him that was making Spencer shake with the amount of pleasure he was feeling. O’Neills hand was back in his hair, gripping hard and guiding him back to his cock. Spencer eagerly took it in his mouth and continued his ministrations.

The warmth inside of his ass built up as Daniel began to fuck him i earnest. Hands wrapped around Spencer’s hips keeping him still. Little talking was going on as each man was lost in the sex. O’Neill grunted and pulled Spencer’s head up until his lips were wrapped around the head. Gripping the base of his cock, O’Neill cut the rush and stopped himself from finishing.

“I want your ass. Come up here.” O’Neill let go of Spencer who crawled into O’Niell’s lap. “Sit on my cock, Spencer.” O’Neill’s tone had Spencer shivering. He loved a top who knew what he wanted and wasn’t afraid to ask for it. 

“Be glad I’m a very greedy bottom, Jack,” Spencer snarked as he lifted up on O’Neill’s lap while the man gripped his ass and pulled his cheeks apart. Spencer felt it when Daniel moved behind him and held O’Neill’s cock still as Spencer slid down with ease. 

“Fuck, Spencer. So tight and hot.” Spencer let out the breath he was holding as he fully seated himself on O’Neill’s cock. Daniel wasn’t idle behind Spencer, his hands slid over his skin heightening the sensation of being sandwiched between the two men.

Lips locked on Spencer’s neck, while O’Neil kissed his lips. Spencer was almost overwhelmed with all of the sensations running through is body. The humming against his cock continued and Spencer wasn’t sure how much more he could take. O’Neill began to move in time with Spencer’s movements, while Daniel began to play with his nipples, tweaking and pulling making Spencer suck in a breath.

“Fucking gorgeous. You like getting fucked don’t you? Two of us giving you our undivided attention.”

“Yes. Shit, please, Jack.”

“Please, what, Spencer?”

“I need..” Spencer cried out as Jack thrust up hard and fast while Spencer pushed down. He began to shake with the need for release. “I need to come. Please.”

Jack grunted as he continued thrusting up. “Take it off him, Danny.” 

Daniel removed the ring from Spencer’s cock then wrapped a slick hand around him and began to stroke in time to O’Neill’s thrusts. It wasn’t long before Spencer fell forward with the force of his orgasm. Daniel kept touching him while O’Neill chased his own release. 

Spencer slumped down against O’Neill who wrapped his arms around him and kissed his forehead.

“What the hell was that?” Spencer asked when he could finally form words. Daniel and O’Neill chuckled.

“A little thing we found in a cache on a planet the Ancient’s abandoned.”

“An Ancient sex toy?” Spencer pushed up and looked O’Neill in the eye.

“Yup,” O’Neill popped the P as a smug smile crossed his lips. 

“You guys are terrible, and I should write you up for taking Ancient technology off base.” Spencer teased as he eased himself off of O’Neill’s lap.

“And just how do you think that report will go?” O’Neill’s cheekiness had Spencer chuckling. Rolling off the bed he padded towards the bathroom, pulling off the condom and disposing of it. 

“Going to take a shower,” Spencer yelled into the bedroom. “And I wouldn’t be opposed to anyone joining me.” 

It took all of twenty seconds for Daniel and O’Neill to get off the bed and follow Spencer inside.

* * * * *

Spencer paced the waiting area of the small airport that his father was going to be landing at. Patrick Sheppard did not fly commercial. The Sheppard Industries plane was coming in for a landing as Spencer watched from his place inside the waiting area nervous as hell. This was the first time he was going to be seeing his father since settling down in DC, which was almost five years prior.

The plane finally landed and a moment later Patrick and David both came down the steps while a baggage handler was pulling suitcases out of the cargo hold. It was all so familiar to Spencer. Many family trips with all of them had been on one of the private jets. Spencer almost expected to see John walking down with his pilot uniform on, yet Spencer knew where John was and the hurt welled up inside and Spencer had to turn away to get his emotions under control.

Spencer walked towards the doorway that separated the waiting area from the tarmac and put on a smile as his father and brother walked through the door. What Spencer did not expect was for his father to go right to him and pull him into a tight hug.

“Oh, kiddo. I have missed you.” Patrick had a hand on the back of Spencer’s head holding his son as close to him as possible. A kiss on the forehead had not been all that unusual as a sign of affection when Spencer was growing up. He had not realised how much he missed it from his father until that moment. If he shook a little as tears fell, then were quickly wiped away neither man acknowledged them as they broke apart. 

Patrick held Spencer’s face in his hands a moment and sighed.

“You look good, Son. I’ve missed you so much these last five years.” 

“I’ve missed you too, Dad.” Spencer remarked as he pulled away, a little self-conscious with public displays of affection. As soon as Spencer was back far enough he was then engulfed in his brother’s arms. 

“Hey, Dexter. I am so sorry, kid.” David hugged Spencer tight then pulled away. Dexter was an old nickname David and John had given Spencer as a kid. They called him Poindexter, but as an affectionate nickname. They never used it maliciously. If they had, Catherine, John, David, and Alec’s mother, would have had their hides. She tolerated no bullying of any kind amongst the brothers.

Spencer chose not to respond as he backed away from David. His emotions were in turmoil, but he knew he didn’t want to deal with them in the middle of a small private airport. 

“Come on. There is a lot to get through today.” Spencer flashed a quick smile that held no warmth. He was nervous, but not for the reasons his father might assume. Spencer was nervous about them knowing what happened to John. 

The trio made it to the car that Spencer was borrowing. General O’Neill and Daniel often carpooled so Daniel’s SUV was available for use. It was perfect for Spencer’s purposes. The ride to the Mountain was done in silence. No one really knew what to say and Spencer had a feeling they all wanted privacy for the conversation they were going to have to have. Spencer hated confrontation with family. Emotions were involved and he always had a hard time processing his own emotions, let alone those of other members of his family. Words were going to be said and feelings were going to be hurt, and Spencer couldn’t help but be concerned about that.

After getting into the Mountain, then up to the conference room where Spencer settled David and his father, he left them with the NDA’s, coffee and sandwiches since it was the middle of the afternoon. He left them alone and went to the office he was still currently using.

“You don’t want to be with them while Jack does his thing?” Daniel leaned against the doorjamb sipping a cup of coffee.

“When Jack is done, I’ll give them the Atlantis files. It isn’t going to be easy for any of us. There are too many things that happened when John joined the Air Force.”

“What happened?” 

Spencer threw down the pen he had in his hand, he was going over the Atlantis supply lists once more before he gave them to Alex and James for them to do their final review. In just a couple of short weeks they needed to get all of this stuff loaded onto the Daedalus before it ships out to the Pegasus system. Spencer was nervous about that as well. Telling his father he was going just might piss Patrick Sheppard off, but the man had stopped trying to tell Spencer what to a long time ago. 

“Dad didn’t want John to go into the Air Force. He didn’t want any of us to go into the military. He wanted all of us to get degrees that would allow us to work in various divisions of SI. The fight they had was terrible. After a couple of years Dad realised that John was really serious. I don’t see how he couldn’t have been. John has been flying since he could legally be allowed in the cockpit of a plane.

“Then John met and fell in love with Nancy, but two years later they divorced. He was on a lot of secret missions and it put a strain on their marriage. I had my own suspicions, but I never got to ask him.” Spencer pushed away from the deck and leaned back so he was looking up at the ceiling in an attempt to distract his thoughts.

“Why?”

“You know the rest. He tried to rescue a friend, fellow pilot who died. Captain Holland’s father pushed for the court martial, which wasn’t successful. John got sent to McMurdo and the day he called me to try to make up for all of this was the day he disappeared.”

“I’m sorry, Spencer.”

“Not your fault, Daniel. The kind of fight John and Dad got into was bad. Dad threw John out of the house and told him to never come back. He took that to heart.” Spencer frowned as he stared at the generic, military gray cinder block ceiling. He knew it was going to be some time before his father and David were done with all the paperwork, and he was hungry.

“You want to get something to eat? I need to get out of this office and stop worrying.”

“Sure, come on.”

The two walked to the mess and Spencer picked out a sandwich, chips, and some fruit before sitting down at a table. Daniel came back with two plates of chocolate cake, and some more coffee. “Here, I think you could use this.” 

Spencer laughed as he took the cake and ate it first. Daniel just shook his head as he ate his piece and sipped his coffee.

Spencer was quiet as he ate and was glad that Daniel was quiet as well. He didn’t really want to talk until he had time to work some of this out in his head, but Daniel’s companionship helped immensely. 

Walking back towards the conference room after eating, with coffee cup in hand, Spencer walked in and sat down across from his father and brother.

“This all sounds crazy, you know that.” Patrick threw one of the files on the table and glared at O’Neill. 

“Dad, it’s all true.” Spencer pushed the coffee cup between his hands and tried to stay calm. 

“Why the hell would John do this?” Patrick shoved out of his chair and started pacing. Spencer had kept his cool up until then. He too shoved out of his chair and bunched his fists next to his sides.

“I think the fact that you threw him out of the house and told him he couldn’t come back might be a reason!” Spencer yelled. Spencer hardly yelled. He was never afraid to use his authority, like he had with the IOA, but he rarely yelled. All the years of pent-up anger came out of him.

“Spencer...” Patrick used Dad voice on Spencer which just made him even more upset.

“What? You were angry that John didn’t want to be involved in SI. I mean, how in the hell could you not understand all he wanted to do was fly.” 

“He could have done it at home.”

“No, Dad. He couldn’t. He wanted you to be proud of him, he wanted you to support him. And you just couldn’t. Like you couldn’t support my decision to go freelance. I love what I do, Dad, but you just can’t be happy that we’re happy. 

“You have David. What else do you want?”

“I wanted all my sons with me. I...I was afraid of losing you. All of you.”

“Yeah, well after reading about Atlantis, we could lose John at any time. Is that what you wanted? Huh, Dad? You pushed us away so much that you couldn’t see that we have been right there all along.” 

“I know I’ve made mistakes...”

“I’m going.” Spencer stood tall and squared his shoulders staring at his father.

“I’m sorry, what?” This time is was David who jumped to his feet.

“I said, I’m going. I’m going to go to Atlantis. They need someone who can help break the computer coding, and I can do that.”

“No. No, Spencer you....you can’t....” Patrick looked devastated as he sank back down on his chair.

“Yes, I can and I will. I’ve already written Mom. So, that means you have to take care of her like you promised. 

“Please, Spencer. Don’t do this.”

“Why? You know I can take care of myself. I may not be military trained, but I have gotten training in a number of firearms. You put us in martial arts classes and I have several black belts. It’s not like I’m helpless.”

“I know, Spencer. I know you aren’t helpless. And I know you want to go for John, but what about here. What about your friends, or you know your boyfriend.” 

“Dad, I haven’t had a lover in eighteen months. Gerald and I broke up. My friends will always be here and if I go I can help them restore communication, and maybe help them understand Atlantis and its systems a little more. If I can make it better, easier for them then that means they survive that much longer. That means John can come home.” Spencer slowly sank back onto his chair and David sat as well. “I want to make it better for them so our family can be together again.” Looking down at the table before picking up his coffee cup and drinking from it.

“Oh, kiddo. I have really messed things up, haven’t I?”

Spencer bit his lip and tried not to be angry, but he was. 

“Yeah. Yeah, Dad you did. I know I should have talked to you, but I’ve been so angry with you. Then John called me the day he was leaving to fly O’Neill to Antarctica and now...now he’s where none of us can reach him. Please Dad, don’t make this harder than it is.”

“All right, kiddo. I won’t. I’m sorry I made it hard in the first place. I love you boys and I know Catherine would be kicking my ass right about now.”

“Yeah, Dad. She would. Mom wouldn’t have liked what you’ve become.” David finally spoke out against how their Dad had changed and Spencer wondered if David finally understood. “You’re more rigid, you have these high expectations and don’t ask us what we want. I think...”

“Say it, David.”

“I think you need counseling, Dad. I’ve been trying to talk to you about this for a long time, but you don’t want to listen. You have pushed everyone away, Dad. Even Alec doesn’t stay when he comes home.”

Patrick gave an unamused laugh as he looked over at O’Neill. The man had a sad look in his eyes that Spencer wasn’t sure what it meant. 

“Sorry for the family drama, General. I”m sure you don’t really want to hear about our dysfunction.” Patrick tried to joke, but it fell flat.

“Listen, I don’t give out a lot of advice to families, but I say this in all sincerity. Hold onto your sons, Sheppard. You don’t know what could happen in just a single moment. Excuse me.” O’Neill got up and left leaving the Sheppards in stunned silence. 

Spencer watched and stood up to follow. He turned around to look at his father and brother. “The base has already signed a car out for you to use for a couple of days. Walter will be in...” Spencer didn’t even have the words out of his mouth when Walter walked in. “As I started to say, Walter here will take care of you.”

Spencer ran out the door and almost instinctively knew where O’Neill was going to be. When he got to Daniel’s lab, he saw Daniel and O’Neill in a tight embrace. He almost turned around to leave, but Daniel called to him. 

“Hey, you all right?”

Spencer couldn’t speak, too many emotions crashed inside of him as he stood just inside the door to Daniel’s office.

“Not really. Seeing them was harder than I thought. Brought up too many things we haven’t wanted to deal with.”

Daniel let O’Neill go and came over to Spencer and grabbed his hand and pulled him into the office, shutting the door behind him. O’Neill engulfed him in a hug. If someone were to see the care O’Neill took with Spencer they would come to the wrong conclusion that Spencer was trying to work out some Daddy issues. Spencer almost laughed at his own thoughts. There was nothing fatherly in the affair he was having with the two men. He was realistic in knowing his place with them. It was as much for his comfort as it was an exciting experience for them. Spencer wasn’t stupid. He did care about Daniel and O’Neill, they had become friends over the time he had been with them. Sex was an outlet, it was exciting and they all enjoyed each other. Spencer was leaving, they all knew that, but until the day he was on the Daedalus he would continue to share their bed. It helped assuage the loneliness that had seeped in after Gerald had left. 

Spencer pulled back and sat on a stool and worked to set his anger aside. It wasn’t gone, but he knew he needed to try to deal with it.

“I didn’t realize just how angry I was at my father. After Catherine died he changed so much. He pushed us all away even when we were grieving as well. The worst was John and how Dad had clung too hard on him. Nothing John did after his Mom died was good enough for Dad.”

A warm hand gripped Spencer’s shoulder, and a kiss was placed on the top of his head.

“Father’s, in their grief, can do terrible things. When I lost Charlie there were days that I almost ate my gun. The pain of his loss never truly goes away. It dulls, but it’s never gone. You’re father has lost sight of who is left and in trying to hold on too tight, he made mistakes. It says something that he’s here and wanting to make up for those mistakes.”

“Yeah, I know but I don’t know how to forgive him.”

O’Neill cupped Spencer’s cheek while Daniel wrapped his arm around his shoulders. Spencer was surrounded by two people who cared deeply for him. Time was the only thing that was going to heal the divide in his family. There was no magical cure.

“You don’t have to right now, Spencer. But, maybe spending your last few days with them might go a long way in beginning those repairs.” 

O’Neill made sense and much as it pained Spencer to leave the General and his partner, Spencer knew being with his family was more important. To that end, he left Daniel’s office and went to their house, packed up his things and later that afternoon showed up at the cottage his father was renting out for the few days they were going to be there. Spencer hoped the old adage of time healing all wounds was true. He wasn’t sure if he could take another rejection from his family. When Alec showed up in his Air Force uniform, there was much celebrating and Spencer had his suspicions on where his brother had been. If Alec was going to Atlantis as well, their father was going to lose his mind. But, Spencer wanted to deal with one issue at a time. However, time was in short supply as there was only a few days left to them to even trying to be a family again.

* * * * *

Spencer couldn’t believe he was on a spaceship heading to another galaxy. He was standing at one of the observation windows looking out in awe. They were going too fast to really make anything out properly, but it didn’t stop the feelings he was feeling. 

“Amazing isn’t it?”

Spencer startled. He had not heard anyone come near him, he had been so lost in his head. The man beside him was tall, maybe an inch taller than himself. He had a deep voice, short close cut hair and an air of authority surrounded him that Spencer was trying to place.

“Yeah. It is. I never thought anything like this was real. I mean, I’d been hearing rumors for years about what was really going on at Cheyenne Mountain, Area 51 and other secret bases, but I always chalked them up to rumors. I’ve been trying to work out the physics of even being able to do something like this. 

“I mean, the Stargate system shouldn’t work. Wormholes don’t really act like that. To create a stable wormhole to go from one planet to another is...astounding.”

The man was smiling at Spencer as he crossed his arms over his chest.

“I could walk you through the astrophysics of the Daedalus if you want. But, I had something a little less scientific in mind, that is if you’re interested.”

“Seeing as I don’t know your name or what you want from me, I don’t think I could give you a straight answer.”

The man laughed and it lit up his whole face. Spencer was intrigued because the man was, frankly, hot. 

“Major Aaron Hotchner. I heard you caused quite a stir with the IOA and I just needed to meet the man that was able to put them in their place.”

“You’ve dealt with them I take it?”

“A few times. When the X-302 failed the first time, they blamed my team. Which I had to remind them we were working from several different downed aircraft not of Earth origin and it would take years before a viable space fighter was ready. 

“They pushed us, threatened to take our funding and basically acted like bullies. When the F302 rolled out it mullified them somewhat.”

Spencer turned to look at Major Hotchner fully. “You speak as though you personally were involved.”

“My team designed them, I worked on the engine specs, and the physics on getting them up and past our atmosphere. It was a challenge. One that frustrated me as much as it fueled me. ” Aaron smiled as he turned his head to look at Spencer.

“So you aren’t just some sexy flyboy. You’ve got brains as well.” Spencer didn’t even stop the little smirk that crossed his lips.

“I came over to see if you’d like to have dinner with me.”

“Really?” Spencer turned and leaned against the glass of the window. 

“That is, if you’re free. I saw you a few times in the Mountain with one of my pilots, so wasn’t sure if you...” Aaron trailed off as he stepped closer, but not too close to Spencer.

Spencer frowned a moment trying to think back to who he could possibly be seen with other than O’Neil and Daniel. When he understood who Aaron was talking about he laughed a little and shook his head.

“Yeah, no I am not dating Alec Sheppard. He’s my brother.”

Aaron raised his brows so high Spencer didn’t think they could disappear like that. He couldn’t help laughing at the almost comical look on the man’s face.

“Yes, before you ask, Patrick Sheppard is my father. It’s a long complicated story that I think I’ll wait to tell you about. You can take me to dinner, Major.” Spencer pushed off the glass and walked by Aaron, “And maybe breakfast if you don’t mind the whispers and innuendoes.”

Aaron swallowed hard, but a moment later started to run after Spencer who had already started walking towards the mess.

“DADT was repealed after projections from analysts let the Military leaders know just how stupid the law really was and how many high value assets they would lose if even one of them slipped up. It was a four year study and at the end of it the President put an end to it. Of course it didn’t curtail prejudice, but it did make it easier to prosecute those that acted on those prejudices. If this is just a ‘I want to get to know you as a friend’, kind of dinner tell me now because I think you are seriously hot and I am not opposed to some very athletic and satisfying sex.” Spencer kept walking as he talked making Aaron keep up with his quick pace.

“And why are you telling me something I already know, why?” 

“Because it was my team that was instrumental in shutting it down and since I have an ulterior motive, like I said, I think we’d be fantastic in bed together. Just want you to know exactly who you’re dealing with.” The little smirk on Spencer’s face made Aaron softly chuckle as they kept walking. 

“You’re very forward. I didn’t guess that you would be.” Aaron laughed at the look Spencer gave him. “You don’t appear forceful, Dr. Reid. That must be your hidden superpower.”

It was Spencer’s turn to laugh as they rounded the corner of the corridor they were walking in and stepped into the mess. Spencer went first and picked up a sandwich, salad, and a piece of chocolate cheesecake the cook had made as a treat. He watched as Aaron picked up a salad, grilled fish with vegetables, and a lemon square. There was one thing that Spencer had been impressed with at the Mountain and on the Daedalus, was the quality of food on offer. They found a table out of the way of most everyone else where they could talk. 

“Are you secretly a geek, then Major?”

“I do enjoy the occasional comic book. But, my book collection consists of spy novels and mysteries.”

“I bet that was hard to decide on what to bring. I know leaving all my books gave me a bit of a heart attack.” Spencer saw that Aaron thought he was joking. “Not kidding. I left my brother in charge of making sure they got packed up safe.”

“I had my brother take care of my book collection, as well as getting my condo packed up and things in storage.”

“You don’t plan on coming back?”

“Not for a while, at least. My appointment to Atlantis is permanent. Only my men will change as they rotate out every two years. At least that’s the plan.”

Spencer smiled as he ate his sandwich, a blush creeping up on his face. He watched as Aaron lifted a brow as a little smirk appeared. A moment later they were rudely interrupted.

“You know, I don’t know if I want to know what my brother and my commanding officer are doing alone together in an out of the way table.” Alec Sheppard picked up an apple off his tray and took a bite.

“You can go away now, Alec.” Spencer glared while he drank his coffee that had been set in front of him by Alec.

“Oh, Dexter, I don’t think so. I think I wanna know what’s goin’ on.” Alec’s playful smile belied any anger that might have been heard in his voice.

“Alec, I swear if you don’t leave us alone I’m going reinstate the Sheppard prank war, and I don’t know if John will be ready for that.”

Alec stared at Spencer before swallowing hard. “You wouldn’t.”

“Oh, I most certainly would.”

Spencer noticed how Aaron had been mostly silent, but thoroughly amused at the antics of the brothers.

“Sir, you aren’t going to help me here?”

“Captain, don’t you have something better to do? Or, somewhere else to be?” Aaron glared at his SIC who laughed, grabbed his tray and bowed.

“I will leave you two to your own devices.” Alec walked away whistling and sashaying away. 

“He is a menace.” Spencer laughed as he watched Alec. Spencer was happy that his family had started talking again, but there was still a lot between all of them that had not been worked out. It was going to take time, but Spencer knew he wanted to be where John was. That was his first priority.

“Hey, where’d you go?” Aaron had finished off his food and was watching Spencer.

“Nothing. Just family stuff.”

Aaron stood up, grabbed his tray and put it into the bucket with other discarded trays to be washed. He grabbed two cups, got some coffee and came back to the table. 

“Here. brought you a fresh cup. Why don’t we continue this discussion somewhere else.” Aaron sipped his coffee while Spencer took a sip of his. He pulled it away and looked at the contents then took another sip.

“You...how?”

“Like I said earlier. I noticed you in the Mountain.”

“You noticed me enough to get my coffee right?”

Aaron just sipped his coffee and smiled behind the cup. Spencer felt his cheeks flush again and he was not immune to the look Aaron was giving him. Standing up, Spencer finished off his coffee, set the cup with the other dirty ones and came back over towards Aaron.

“All right, where would you like to go?”

Aaron stood up and after depositing his cup with the others, he indicated with his head for Spencer to follow. Curiosity won out and Spencer followed Aaron. He was surprised a few moments later when they approached Aaron’s quarters.

“Are you sure about this?” 

Aaron didn’t answer, just smiled and walked in with Spencer trailing behind him. After the door closed with a soft snick, Aaron pulled Spencer close and kissed him.

“I’ve been wanting to do that since I saw you in the Mountain.”

Spencer blew out the breath he had been holding since he walked into the room. 

“You’re courting scandal, Major.”

Aaron stepped closer laying a hand on his cheek smiling the whole time.

“Do you really care?”

“Not in the least.”

“Good, because I plan to lay you out on my bed and have my way with you. That is, if it’s what you want as well.”

Spencer didn’t take but a moment to look in Aaron’s eyes to know that was exactly what he wanted.

* * * * * 

“People are talking, you know that, right?” Spencer rolled over in bed towards the warm body of Aaron. They had spent the last two weeks together and almost every night Spencer was in Aaron’s bed. There was more to them than just deep affection and Spencer didn’t want to lose whatever this was they had found.

“You do know that Dr. Jackson and the General are literally the worst kept secret in the Mountain, don’t you? Same with Dr. Carter and Dr. Frasier? No one really cares, at least in the SGC. Plus, you’re a civilian. Nothing in the regs about starting a relationship with a civilian.”

“Smug asshole, aren’t you?” Spencer teased as he pushed up on one arm to lean down and kiss Aaron.

“I try.”

Spencer snorted, then rolled out of bed and padded naked into the bathroom to get cleaned up. Colonel Caldwell had told everyone that they would be approaching Atlantis in a few short hours and everyone needed to make sure they were packed and ready to go.

“Listen, I need to get my squadron ready for anything. I don’t know what we’re going to find once we get near Atlantis.”

Spencer kept his face neutral, but the possibility that Aaron’s squadron was going to be involved in a fight was very real. The reports about the Wraith were frankly frightening.

“I know.” Spencer didn’t want to meet Aaron’s eyes, he didn’t want his lover to know that he was worried.

Strong arms came around Spencer and he closed his eyes and held on. 

“I will come back to you, Spencer, I promise.”

“Don’t. Don’t promise me something like that. I know we are going into a dangerous situation and anything can happen. I know you’re good at what you do, you wouldn’t have made it this far if you weren’t. But no one is indestructible.” Spencer laid his head back against Aaron’s shoulder.

“Then how about this; I think we have something here and I want to be with you even after we land. I promise that if it is in my power to come back to you, I will. I’ve never felt like this with anyone before, Spencer. You make me want things I never thought I could have. But, I’m career military. Are you going to be able to handle that?”

Spencer turned around in Aaron’s arms and kissed him.

“I want whatever you can give me, Aaron.”

The two men spent some time in each others embrace before Aaron broke away to get dressed. When he was in his BDU’s and black tshirt Spencer sucked in breath. He loved how Aaron looked in his casual gear. He knew that as they got closer to Atlantis Aaron would change into his uniform. But he needed to meet with his squad first. 

Spencer had learned that Aaron was one of very few Major’s to actually lead a squadron. This first half was thirty pilots, then in two more weeks thirty more would arrive. Spencer knew that a squadron could consist of up to 500 aircraft. Aaron’s was currently sixty because that was the number of X302’s that could be built in the time allotted them. From what Spencer understood they were working on the next group of sixty, which half of those would be transferred to Atlantis and a constant number of ninety pilots would be stationed there. 

From what Spencer learned they had to retrofit some of the hanger to be able to accomodate amount of planes being transported. Once the base was deemed secure, the F-302 interceptors would be transferred to Atlantis, then over the course of a few trips Atlantis would have two medium sized squadrons of F-302’s and X-302’s. It was all a game of tetris as explained to him by Spencer.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen when we get to Atlantis, but I promise I’ll find you.” 

Spencer smiled, but something churned in his stomach that when they got to Atlantis things were not going to be as smooth as everyone hoped for.

Dressing and leaving to get breakfast by himself for the first time since arriving on the Daedalus, Spencer was unsettled.

“What’s wrong?” 

Spencer looked up to see Alec sliding in across from him.

“How do you guys do it? I have this feeling in my stomach that I don’t like. I don’t know what’s going to happen when we get to to Atlantis, but something is telling me it isn’t good.”

“Hey, it’s going to be fine, Spencer.”

Looking down at his plate, Spencer didn’t feel like things were going to be fine. He wanted to be at a station listening to deep space noise just in case. But, Colonel Caldwell had assured Spencer that he had it covered. Being a few hours out, Spencer had nothing to do. He had exhausted the small library, played more than his share of chess, checkers, and cards, met with Alex and James to go over last minute details and everything seemed set. 

“How can you say that, Alec? I just met...What if...” Spencer, for the first time in a long time felt unsure and was scared.

“The Major is a good commander, Spencer. He helped figure out the issues with the X302. He’s brilliant, and I admire him a lot. If there are any problems, he’ll pull us through.”

Spencer pushed around his food on his plate, not longer hungry. He drank his coffee and felt useless at the moment.

“Here. Dr. Blake wanted to find you, but she had to go into some meetings and saw me coming this way. She said you’d want to continue working with the Ancient language. You seem to get it even better than Colonel Carter.”

Spencer took the tablet which lit up immediately under his fingers. He wondered if this was a modified ancient device. He read through some of the translations that had already been done compared to the rosetta stone that Daniel had found. It was slow going, but there was something about the language that Spencer had picked up on rather quickly. Even Daniel had been impressed at how intuitively he had been able to decipher some of the language on unidentified devices laying around Daniel’s office.

“Thanks. I suppose this is her way of trying to keep me occupied.”

“Hey, Spence, Hotch is going to be all right. I have his back, okay?”

Spencer looked up at Alec and tried to put on a fake smile. The reality of what they were getting themselves into was settling on him fast. Just a few more hours and they would be entering the planet’s orbit that the Atlantis base was on.

“Yeah. Thanks, Alec.”

“Three Sheppard brothers, together again. This will be awesome. You know we’ll drive John absolutely crazy. Especially when he finds out you’ve gone and fallen in love with one of his commanders.”

Spencer looked up at Alec and wanted to wipe the smug grin off his face.

“I am not in love. It’s too new.”

“Oh, baby bro, I know what you look like when you’re in love, and I can say without a doubt that you’ve fallen for the sexy Major. We were all taking bets on who was going to finally catch him when we got to Atlantis.”

“Keep your hands off of my Major, Alec Sheppard, or you will regret your life's choices.” Spencer stood and narrowed his eyes at his brother.

“Hey, don’t look at me little bro. I’m straight as an arrow. Doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate someone as good looking as Hotch. You have nothing to worry about from me.” Alec gripped Spencer’s shoulder after he stood up from the table and lightly squeezed. “And Spence?”

Spencer looked up at his brother, “Yes?”

“Congratulations.”

Spencer closed his eyes and smiled to himself. He watched Alec leave then got back to reading through the texts that Daniel had loaded onto the tablet for him to read through. Knowing he wasn’t going to eat anymore, Spencer picked up the plate and set it in one of the bins with other dirty dishes, then made his way to the small library where, with pen and paper he had picked up from his room, he sat and worked out more of the Ancient language. It kept his mind occupied for the final hours of their approach. 

Spencer only looked up when he felt a gentle touch on his shoulder.

“James and I wondered if you’d like to have lunch with us. It will probably be the last meal on this ship before we get to Atlantis and you have been rather elusive the last couple of weeks.” Alex gave Spencer a knowing smile before stepping back.

“Were we that obvious?” Spencer stood after closing his notebook and sliding the pen in the spine and turning off the tablet. He held onto his things as he and Alex began to walk towards the mess.

“Well, no one can say they blame you.” 

Spencer blushed, not knowing what to say to Alex. His relationship with Aaron was new and a part of him wished he could keep it to themselves, but he also knew how rumors flew on military bases. That was one reason he had opted to go freelance when he first started out. Spencer had been courted by more than one military and civilian intelligence group. When he sat down and weighed all of his options he realised he didn’t want to work with any one particular group. Any work he did would be owned by that group and that wasn’t what he wanted. His research, as well as the intelligence he gathered, he owned, that was written into every one of his contracts. If the organization didn’t like it, they didn’t have to hire him. The thing was, most were more interested in what Spencer could do for them to care about who owned and securely stored said information. It made him not only valuable, but at times a target as well. Being a Sheppard on top of that didn’t help. Spencer’s colleagues uncovered more than one plot to kidnap him and try to extort money from Patrick Sheppard. Thankfully, his father’s people were good and rooted out these plots before anything serious had happened. And, Spencer had Derek and his team to watch his back. Now, everything was going to change and Spencer was both nervous and excited about his new prospects.

“How has it gone with you and James getting everything sorted?”

“I think we have a solid plan. I know we’ll experience push back, which is to be expected, but once everyone is read in on the new charter things should get normalized quickly. You did a good job with it, Spencer.”

Spencer bobbed his head in agreement, he was lost in thought as they rounded a corner and walked into the mess. There were quite a number of people getting food, the noise level was higher than normal as anticipation built up the closer they got to their final destination.

“Thank you. I just don’t get what the IOA was trying to do out here. Their reach was too long and it made sense to get them under control, and not keep it the other way around.”

“I read the notes from the meetings. You were ruthless with them. When I think you are just a brilliant analyst who works in the shadows and doesn’t come up for air, you end up surprising me. And, I’m quite flattered with your faith in me and James.” Alex grabbed a salad and coffee while Spencer went for a made-to-order hamburger. A special treat for everyone for the last day of the trip.

“Your track record speaks for itself, Alex. And James’ extensive knowledge in triage medicine, and treating people under some of the most difficult situations makes him the better choice for CMO. He’s a patient forward Doctor, not research forward. He is the kind of Doctor Atlantis should have had in the first place.”

They found a spot at a table with some of the Marines that were going to the City as well as the Air Force. Thankfully the small rivalries that flared up were quickly squelched by each groups commanding officers and the two week trip held few incidents, which was frankly a miracle.

“Thank you for the vote of confidence, Spencer.” James had a salad and a sandwich, which didn’t surprise Spencer. The man was fairly health conscious and worked to stay as healthy as he could. 

“You deserve it, James.” Spencer went on a mini tangent about how Atlantis would be no different than some of the things he had done while with Doctors Without Borders. Just with strange new to them technology. Alex and James just smiled at him while he talked. Spencer knew it was nerves, but he had a hard time controlling them as they got closer to their destination.

“I’m just hoping Dr. Beckett doesn’t put up a big fight. Under controlled conditions his research is sound and could actually have far reaching consequences outside of the Pegasus system. But, things like the vaccine against the Wraith he created and tested with zero oversight are things that Dr. Weir should have vetoed. I know for a fact John would have had problems with it, but I haven’t heard his side of the story yet. I’m sure once we get settled there are going to be a lot of meetings and probably more than a few arguments. I am aware this transition will not be easy, but if it saves lives, then we’re doing the right thing.” Spencer stopped speaking as Colonel Caldwell’s voice came over the ships comm.

Ladies and Gentlemen we are ten minutes from entering Lantea’s orbit. Please prepare yourselves per your embarking instructions. All flight crews please be prepared as we make our final entry. Caldwell out.”

“Well, I guess this is go time. We’ll see you once we’ve settled, Spencer.”

Everyone scrambled in an orderly fashion to get to their assigned destinations for the transfer of personnel and equipment to Atlantis. Spencer was with the science team coming to beef up the science division. His thoughts were scattered as everyone held their collective breath as the Daedalus began to slow and settle into orbit. 

Those ten minutes were the longest ten minutes of Spencer’s life, and he assumed other’s felt the same. Silence reigned except for the occasional reports from the Colonel on their progress. Locking into orbit was felt by just about everyone. 

Spencer looked out of the widow in his area and his heart stopped. What they came out on was a veritable war zone.

* * * * * 

Spencer could only watch the intense battle as it was put up on view screens for everyone to see so that no one was kept in the dark. Spencer knew Aaron’s crew was out there, which mean Alec was out there as well. Drones and fighter planes were everywhere engaged in battles with the enemies forces. When one of the X302’s went down, Spencer’s heart stopped cold in his chest and there was a moment he thought he was going to die of a heart attack watching the battle unfold.

The Daedalus fired off a few shots at what Spencer could only assume was a Hive ship. Some of the battle chatter was being broadcast, Caldwell found it only fair that everyone knew what was happening.

Hearing that Aaron’s squadron was going to make a run for the Hive ship had Spencer’s heart racing. Then, it was radio silence as they made their attack run. Not much could be made out from the distance Caldwell was keeping from the Wraith. The room Spencer was in, everyone was deathly silent as well. When a few moments later the ship blew up and the squadron of X302’s were flying fast back towards the Daedalus, a sigh of relief came from all around him, but he wouldn’t feel the same until he saw Aaron alive and in person.

Daedalus, this is Major John Sheppard, we here on Atlantis Base want to thank you for the assist. Thanks to your timely intervention, we have minimal loss of life. Atlantis welcomes you.”

Hearing John’s voice again after more than a year was a blow to Spencer as he stood there with his heart beating hard in his chest. Spencer had to hold onto something close as his knees began to buckle under him. He needed to be alone, so he left the room he was in and walked out to go to his temporary quarters. He was packed up and ready to go down there, but he needed time to get his emotions under control.

Spencer had his messenger bag, something he was rarely without, around him and the tablet he had been studying off of was in there. He pulled it out to read through it trying to get his mind off of everything that happened.

Knowing there were casualties among Aaron’s men had Spencer on edge. He knew Aaron or Alec could have died out there and Spencer wasn’t sure if he was prepared for that. Shutting off the circular thoughts he was having, Spencer concentrated on the information in front of him, it was the only thing he could control at the moment. He knew they would be moving equipment first, then the Marines, the Air Force and the scientists and civilians would go last. 

The knock on his door was unexpected. Getting up, he threw the tablet on the bed and hoped what was on the other side of the door wasn’t bad news. Hitting the button that made the door slide open, it took a moment to comprehend that it was Aaron on the other side. The smile was what did it as Spencer launched himself in Aaron’s arms.

“When I saw fighters blowing up, I couldn’t help worrying. I thought...” Spencer pulled back and stopped himself from saying anything else, he instead kissed Aaron like it was the first time. 

“I promised you, I’d come back to you.” Aaron almost whispered against Spencer’s lips as they kissed. Pulling away, Aaron cupped Spencer’s cheeks, swiping away tears that Spencer had not felt himself shed. “I have to get going, but once we’re boots on the ground, I’ll come find you. I know this is fast and you’re going to call me crazy, but I think I’m falling in love with you, Spencer.”

Spencer’s breath caught as he looked in Aaron’s face. A slow smile crossed his lips and he once again kissed Aaron. “You aren’t crazy. I think I’m falling in love with you as well.” Reluctantly Spencer let Aaron go. “I’ll be looking for you.”

Aaron nodded and left to go make sure his men were ready. Spencer felt the anticipation of the next few moments as things started to move quickly. He grabbed his things and made his way to his designated waiting area with James and Alex. This was it, the next great adventure and Spencer was anxious as he waited with everyone else. He smiled at James and Alex and didn’t even consider wanting to be anywhere else.

* * * * *

Beaming down to Atlantis from the Daedalus was still strange to Spencer. Even though he has experienced it several times now he knew it was always going to feel strange. Much like the Stargate. The first time he walked through the wormhole, Spencer thought he was going to puke his guts out. It was only the firm hand of Daniel that had steadied him. Now he could go through and not get sick, but it was a near thing in the beginning. 

Taking a deep breath, Spencer looked up to see controlled chaos.

“Get those supplies over in that northwest corner, we’ll sort them out later. Ammunition boxes follow Lieutenant Ford and he’ll show you where to put them. Chuck, help McKay find the best place for those fighters...” On and on more orders were being given by none other than John Sheppard. Spencer’s felt weak in the knees seeing John after all of the reports he had read and watched the videos that were sent in with their one data burst.

Spencer needed something to hold onto to try to get himself under control. Then as he stood there and watched, underneath the love and pride he felt for his brother surged the anger he had been working so hard to get rid of. 

John had abandoned them. When Spencer found out this was a voluntary mission and that John went without telling anyone, especially him it churned something in Spencer’s gut. He looked up felt his face getting hot and the frown deepening on his face. Spencer was never prone to violence unless his life was in danger. He had killed in the past to defend himself, but he never actively sought out violence.

Straightening up, Spencer squared up his shoulders, looked directly at John, who was still giving orders on where to put everything and where all of the new personnel should go. A pretty dark haired woman to John’s left was assigning rooms as fast as she could. Dr. Rodney McKay, who Spencer recognized from guest lectures at CalTech was manning a control station and helping Colonel Caldwell with the placement of the remaining X-302’s. Spencer took all of this in almost instantaneously. When his focus returned back to John and there was a clear line from him to his brother, Spencer marched over, anger lining every part of his body and just as John turned to look at him, shock clearly on his face, Spencer swung his fist, which connected to John’s jaw hard enough to make the man stumble backwards and almost fall.

“Spencer! What the fuck!” John righted himself and stood toe-to-toe with Spencer.

“I should ask you the same damn thing, John Christopher Sheppard! You call me a little over a year ago that you want to talk, then the next day you fucking disappeared. Don’t you think I have the right to be a little angry with you? You abandoned us.”

John stood there breathing hard and Spencer saw his brother’s eyes darken.

“Dad and David abandoned me first, kid.”

“That didn’t give you right to keep Alec and myself out of your life! We didn’t abandon you, John. We were still there, but no, you had to be the fucking hero and run after the next thing that would keep you away so that you wouldn’t have to deal with you feelings.” Spencer’s pent-up rage at John was all coming out. He had felt abandoned and betrayed by John, who had been his anchor after Catherine died and their family started to fall apart.

“I didn’t leave to not deal with my feelings, Spencer,” John growled as his eyes narrowed. He stood straight up almost a mirror of Spencer’s posture. “I left because the mission needed me.”

“The mission always needed you. That was your excuse every single time. Wasn’t the next mission the reason you and Nancy divorced? Because you were never there?” Spencer knew it was a low blow when he said it and the sting from John’s hand was the evidence of the consequence of his vicious tongue.

“You know, I forgot how vicious that tongue of yours could be.”  

John and Spencer were staring each other down and the gateroom there was complete silence. 

“I think if we’re going to hash this out, we need to go somewhere more private.” John walked away and started for some stairs, he looked back down, but not at Spencer, “And don’t think I didn’t see you there, Alec Sheppard. Get your ass up here as well, since this seems to be one fucked up family reunion.”

“I was staying out of it, but now that you’ve invited me to the party, I think you’re going to like what I have to say about even less than what Spencer has said.” 

John didn’t say anything more, he just moved with a sureness of step that only came from years in the military. Spencer turned and flew up the stairs with Alec behind him. At the top of the stairs, John stopped on the landing and looked down. 

“Bates,” John yelled.

“Sir?”

“Take over. I have something to finish here.”

“Yes, Sir.” Bates turned back to everyone and picked up where John had left off. Stepping into what looked like a small conference room, Spencer and Alec stood to one side, with John on the other. Luckily the door shut behind Alec and they had some semblance of privacy.

“Both of you, pack your damn bags, you’re getting right back on the Daedalus and going home.” Spencer could tell John was gritting his teeth and trying to rein in his temper.

“Might I point out, John, that you would have to explain to Major Hotchner why you are sending his wing man home. I doubt he would be happy with you.” Alec crossed his arms, glaring at his brother.

“Fine. I get why you’re here, but Spencer, I swear I will put you on the Daedalus myself. What are you thinking?”

Spencer didn’t say anything, he just took the tablet he had been fiddling with that had his research and translations of the Ancient Database on it and threw it onto the conference room table. 

John looked at it, then looked at Spencer with a look of confusion on his face. Spencer’s brows rose and with a slight flourish to his moments, he indicated John should pick it up. Rolling his eyes at Spencer’s antics, John picked up the tablet while Spencer moved to lean against one of the walls. As he leaned back there was an immense feeling of home . There were no words Spencer had to describe what it was he was experiencing, only that whatever Atlantis was, it wanted him there. A soft warm energy flowed down inside Spencer as he kept contact with the wall almost as if Atlantis was welcoming him into its embrace.

“You figured out Atlantis’ database?” Spencer noticed that John stood there shaking, barely able to contain the visible excitement his body was giving off. 

“Not all of it, but working with the Rosetta Stone and the files from your data burst I’ve been able to make some conjectures. That feels right, but I just am not sure why. I think Atlantis is trying to both welcome me and nudge me in a certain direction at the same time. I feel this faint hum in the back of my head. Not unpleasant, but just...”

“Almost like you’re home?”

Alec and Spencer looked towards John, both of them swallowed hard and Spencer felt John’s words resonate. 

“Yeah.”

“Goddamn it!” John cursed and bounded a fist off the table a few times as he looked down for a moment. Spencer knew that look. It was his brother taking his frustration out on an object rather than a person. “I don’t want you both here in the middle of all of this. What the hell do I tell Dad when one of you gets hurt or worse, gets killed and I have to be the one to deliver the news. If he hates me now, I can assure you if something happens to you two....” John rolled his neck a couple of times before looking back at Spencer and Alec.

“John, Dad doesn’t hate you. I don’t know what happened, neither he nor David will say anything, but I know he regrets what he did to drive you away.”

There was a beat of silence before shadows appeared in John’s eyes and a darkness fell over him the Spencer had never seen before. 

“I told him I was gay and that’s why Nancy and I divorced. He told me to get out of his life and never come back.” 

Spencer slowly fell into a chair as his knees buckled out from under him. His breathing deepened as he tried to comprehend what John was telling him. The pain of knowing his father had rejected his own son made Spencer speechless.

“Look, I saw Dad before we left,” Alec began speaking, which Spencer was grateful for. It was like his words had been taken from him and he needed time to get them back. “He regrets what happened between him and you, John.”

John stood rigid and silent for a few moments, no one knew what to say. All three brothers eventually sat down near each other as the uncomfortable silence stretched on. That hum in the back of Spencer’s head was pulsing, pushing, almost like Atlantis was trying to say something to him, but he didn’t understand the language. Looking up into the faces of his brothers he knew they were feeling the same thing by their strained expressions.

“We’re here now, John. And I think, somehow, Atlantis wants us to be here. I need to be here, nothing you can say is going to make me leave.”

John threw up his hands in defeat.

“Fine! But, you,” John pointed at Spencer, “Are going to train more than you have before. You understand?”

“Dude, Spencer has more blackbelts that you or I. What more training do you want him to do?”

“Combat training. These Wraith are no laughing matter. We may joke about the Space Vampire moniker, but they are seriously dangerous. I cannot overstate how diligent both of you, especially you, Spencer, need to be in your training.”

Spencer smiled softly and looked up at John. “I can agree to that.”

“I need to get back down there. You both, behave.”

John stood and started off towards the door when Spencer called out to him.

“What?”

“Is now not a good time to tell you that I’ve started a relationship with Major Hotchner?”

“You....I don’t wanna know. Don’t tell me, I do not need to know anything about either of your sex lives.” John leaned to the side, hands on his hips.

Spencer had a smug smile on his face as he looked out the window to see Dr. McKay staring inside. The man had been there the whole time, but Spencer wasn’t going to point it out.

“Just like we shouldn’t know that you and McKay are together?” 

John’s eyes widened comically as he turned around to see McKay standing there looking like a kid who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

“How?”

“You forget, analysis is my forte.”

“Smartass.” John laughed and shook his head then turned towards McKay and started to bark out orders again. Spencer and Alec laughed as they stood and made their way back down into the chaos.

“Dr. Reid, I have your room assignment. You’ll be here in tower two sixth level south side. And Captain Sheppard, you are also in tower two, but the fifth level also south side, here.” The woman named Teyla gave them their room assignments, then Spencer asked what he could do to help. His brother put him to work and that was just fine with Spencer. When he looked over and saw Aaron was also helping out, stripped down to just his tshirt, Spencer felt the heat rise up his neck. He knew his cheeks were going to be a dark pink, but he smiled anyway as he turned back to his own assignment. There was a lot of work to do and little time to get it all done.

“A ZPM?” An excited shout rang out from across the room and all activity stopped.

“Oh, yeah. Dr. Jackson, myself, Colonel Carter, and General O’Neill got a heads up when I went over Merlin’s encrypted database. I knew they were having trouble cracking it and chalked it up to an unsolvable mystery. But, I was able to figure some of it out. In his files was the location of several Ancient outposts, some had nearly full ZPM’s. We are going to get another one in the next drop off form the Prometheus.”

Before Spencer was even finished speaking McKay flew across the floor of the gateroom and pulled him into a hard hug.

“I think I fucking love you. Are all of you Sheppards this gorgeous and smart?”

Spencer laughed as he pulled McKay off of him.

“Well, Alec does have a few degrees in Maths, Astrophysics, and Engineering. David back home has a couple of Phd’s himself. So, yeah we are all kinda smart.” Spencer wasn’t arrogant, but he never downplayed his intelligence. It was one trait his father had instilled in all of them. Be confident in your intelligence and don’t let anyone take advantage of you. It was one thing that Spencer lived by.

“This is fucking miracle, Dr. Reid. You don’t know what you’ve done for us.” Another scientist that Spencer recognized as Dr. Radek Zalenka looked almost tearful at the crate that Dr. McKay was nearly drooling over.

“Well, it was what helped me to work on cracking Atlantis’ database. I can show you later what I think I’ve figured out.”

“That is good. Atlantis records are all terrible. We get nowhere fast.” Zalenka shook his head, but a small smile spread across his lips making Spencer chuckle.

“All right people, back to work.” John walked through and got people back on track. Spencer paid attention to his task and felt even more in that moment that he had come home.

* * * * * 

Five Months Later

Spencer rolled over with Aaron under him. He had found out quickly in the relationship that Aaron loved to bottom. Being in command of his squadron and having a high pressure job, especially in the crazy war zone they were in, He liked to be taken out of his head. Spencer was all too happy to oblige. 

“You don’t know what it is you do to me, Spence.” Aaron held Spencer’s face in his hands and kissed him. They both were coming down and basking in the warm glow of post-orgasm.

“What do I do to you Aaron Hotchner?” Spencer smiled as he laid down on Aaron’s body, and sighed as he was wrapped up in those strong arms. 

“You make me believe in things I thought I could never have. I love you, Spencer and I am grateful everyday that you are in my life.”

Spencer rubbed his face against Aaron’s chest and let the emotion of being told he was loved for the first time since he and Aaron had gotten together. He knew that Aaron was it for him.

“I love you, Aaron.”

“I think you should move in.” Aaron’s fingers were drumming an erotic staccato down Spencer’s spine making him shiver.

“Really?”

“Really. You know I have the room. You spend most of your time here and not in your space.”

Spencer sat up and looked down in Aaron’s face. He was studying those deep chocolate colored eyes and the line of that mouth he loved to kiss. He took a moment to answer, not because he didn’t want it, but he wanted to make sure Aaron was serious. When he saw what it was he was looking for, Spencer’s mouth slowly turned up at the corner.

“Yes, Aaron. I’ll move in with you.”

Aaron wrapped around Spencer and rolled them over. Kissing Aaron was never a hardship, and Spencer relished the attention.

“Good, because Syler and Wynn want you here as well.”

Spencer sat up and thought about the two children that Aaron had effectively adopted after a particularly bad fight with the Wraith on an unnamed planet designated M65-298. It was an outer planet in a small solar system where they only received daylight for ten hours out of the day, the rest of the time was in semi-darkness. The remaining inhabitants had become Wraith worshippers.

When Aaron’s group arrived after a call from now Colonel Sheppard, they found a colony of children that had been shunned for not being ‘culled’. The elders of the village had deep, skewed religious beliefs that those children not taken with their parents were sinful children. Aaron had been horrified to learn this and Sheppard told the kids if they wanted to leave the planet that Atlantis would give them shelter and real homes would be found for them. 

The older kids had decided to stay, but they encouraged the younger ones to go with the Lanteans. Sheppard had given the de facto leader of the children’s village an emergency beacon that if anything happened, Atlantis could come to help. 

Syler and Wynn were a brother and sister whose parents were taken. They were six and four and had taken to Aaron right away. He took them in and when he arrived back on Atlantis had told Spencer what had happened. Spencer spent time with the kids and slowly they grew a bond between them. He loved them like his own, like Aaron had come to love them. 

Spencer worked with Teyla and some of the other soft scientists to create a school for all of the children who lived on the city as well as those Athosians that wanted their kids to have an education. Spencer spent some time in the village explaining to them what the school was and what they would teach. Some of the villages liked the idea of giving their children something more, something that may help them survive the Wraith.

Two of the civilians that had come with that first group of new crew members was an educator and administrator by the name of Dr. Emily Prentiss. She began work as soon as a space in one of the other main towers had been cleaned out and the rooms fitted out to be classrooms. Two full floors had been dedicated to a school. Her partner, Dr. Jennifer Jareau had learned about the plight of many of the children in the Pegasus system and the homeless situation many faced. She had worked with Alex on setting up an orphanage in the same tower as the school. The four floors above the school became rooms that were still taking shape. It was slow going, but her contacts back on Earth had contributed thousands of dollars to the effort. She had to be discreet, but many generous souls gave up their money for the cause not knowing the full nature of the orphanage. They gave because they trusted and respected JJ.

Syler and Wynn would have ended up in the orphanage, but Aaron couldn’t do that. So, with permission from Colonel Sheppard he took them in.

“They’re adjusting well.”

“Yes, they are. And I know you’re okay with raising them as gender neutral. It’s still something I’m getting used to, but seeing how many planets in Pegasus don’t have words or context for gender, I didn’t want to push them into something that was completely foreign to them.”

Spencer slid out of bed and headed towards the bathroom to begin cleaning after morning sex.

“You’re doing a good job with them, Aaron. Never doubt that.”

Aaron followed closely behind Spencer to get ready for the day. Spencer knew he had some things to do with Alec and the newly arrived F302 fighters. Mail was also arriving that day and Spencer couldn’t wait to get the letters from his Mother. Patrick had kept his promise and checked in on Diana as much as possible. Spencer found out he had even bought a small condo so he could spend a few days a month with her.

“I appreciate that, Spencer. I never saw myself as a father, but those two...”

“They stole your heart, you big softie.”

Aaron laughed as he stepped into the sonic shower with Spencer. “Yeah, I guess they did. How about pancakes for breakfast? I was able to get some flour and other staples from the PX yesterday. They are getting in some relatively fresh food when the Prometheus arrives later today. I’ll see what I can get on my ration card.”

“You can have mine. My ration card that is. Since I’m, you know, moving in.” Spencer blushed before turning and kissing Aaron on the cheek. They finished quickly in the bathroom, dressed and stepped into the small living room where Syler and Wynn were already there working in their school workbooks.

“Hey you two, I think I’m going to make you a treat that I grew up with for breakfast. How does that sound?”

“Will we like it?” Syler asked looking up at Aaron. Spencer noticed their eyes weren’t as clouded as they were when first coming to live with Aaron. There was an excited anticipation in the way they leaned up and bounced on their feet when the two men walked into the room.

“I don’t know, why don’t I make them and you tell me.”

The furious nodding their head had Aaron chuckling a little under his breath at Syler. Wynn was still quiet, but interest shone brightly in their eyes. While Aaron walked to the small, but efficient kitchen, Spencer got down on the floor and worked with the kids on their assignments. Aaron called breakfast half an hour later and they all sat around the table. Spencer watched the kids carefully, he knew how he himself felt about Aaron’s pancakes, but Spencer wanted to know what the kids thought.

“Oh,” Syler smiled big after swallowing the first bite. “These are good. What do you think Wynn?” Smiling wide, Wynn nodded that they liked them. “Don’t worry, Wynn will speak when they want to. Won’t you?” Wynn nodded again, but neither Aaron nor Spencer were concerned. Dr. Heightmeyer was taking time out of her schedule each week to spend time with the children. She had said that Wynn was still processing the trauma they had experienced, and to have patience. 

“I am glad you like them. One of these days, if we get some, there is a fruit called a blueberry. They make these taste even better.”

Syler and Wynn didn’t say anything, Aaron knew they had no context, but went back to eating with enthusiasm.

After breakfast, Aaron kissed the kids on their foreheads, then Spencer gave a lingering kiss on his lips. 

“I’ll be down in tower three all day going over the F302’s making sure they all made it here in one peace. Alec and I are doing a full inventory and work with Atlantis’ AI to get a space ready for plane repairs and spares storage. I don’t know how long I’ll be.”

“Okay, I have meetings with Alex, Elizabeth, and Rodney on the file indexing. I was surprised when AR1 found another ZPM. If one more is found, Atlantis will be operating at 100%. We’re currently at 75%. Need to just find the instructions on how to recharge them.”

“I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”

“I know we will.” Spencer said his goodbye to Aaron as he left, then after cleaning up from breakfast, he got the kids ready to take to school. Spencer took their hands and it was another feeling of home that he had been experiencing for the last few months. 

* * * * *

“This is amazing work, Spencer, Rodney. The indexing is going smoothly, hopefully we’ll get a working database that makes sense.” Alex laid her tablet down on the table and turned to Dr. Weir. “Elizabeth, the work you’ve done with the new provisional government of the Genii has been no less than astounding. However, do you think we can trust them? Especially after the last few encounters with Kolya.”

“Kolya has been considered renegade and no longer a Commander. They’ve officially exiled him along with Sora. Just because they’ve reached out and want to negotiate, I think we still need to be cautious. They need to prove to us they are worthy allies.” 

Spencer heard the tightness in Dr. Weir’s voice and the rigid way she held her body she was still pissed that the IOA agreed to make Alex the leader of the civilian and administration arm of the Atlantis mission, with Rodney in charge of the Scientists, James the Medical and now Colonel John Sheppard continuing his leadership of the Military. 

Dr. Weir’s arrogance in thinking she was the de facto leader of all parts of the mission had caused too many problems in the first year of the mission. Spencer had found the files Dr. Weir had tried to hide, including all of her research into Ascension. Alex was wary of her motivations.

“Good work. We have several new planets that we need to work on negotiations with. I’m going to assign a permanent team to you, Elizabeth so that you can work out a schedule of when to meet, and to speak with the Governments we have tentative agreements with.”

“As you wish.”

Alex lifted a brow as he tilted her head. Spencer knew that look. It was the ‘don’t give me your bullshit’ look she often gave students and other agents alike.

“You’re attitude, Elizabeth, will get you and your team killed. What you’re doing is as important as what we are all doing. If you don’t want to be a part of this expedition any longer, we can arrange for an equally qualified person from the SGC to come in and take your place. 

“You have been under the impression from the beginning that you are not expendable. I’m sorry to tell you this, but every single one of us, except for McKay and the Sheppards are expendable. And you very well know why. Now, get over it and cut the attitude.”

Alex just proved to everyone in that room why she was the best person to be in one of the head positions of the Expedition.

“What do you expect from me, Alex? You come in here after we’ve been here for a year and mess up everything for me!”

“For you? This mission isn’t for you and your little obsession with Ascension. You are a good Ambassador, Elizabeth, you position is just as important. If you don’t want to be here anymore, you don’t have to be.” Alex didn’t back down and it made Spencer proud of her.

The shocked look on Weir’s face, Spencer knew she wasn’t going anywhere. But it also meant Alex and Spencer were going to watch her even closer than before.

“Elizabeth, just cut the crap. You know you always had a problem with the Military arm and you also let Carson be a little loose with his research. Reigning him in was the best thing we could have done. We want people to like us, not make more war!” Rodney was visibly upset.

“All right, all right. I’ll stay and try to work this out. I think we have something incredible here and if you need me as the Ambassador, I’ll do my best.”

Spencer didn’t believe her, he was going to watch her, but also give her the benefit of the doubt.

“I’m hoping when the indexing gets done we can find the information on recharging the ZPM’s. AR-10 and myself are going to explore tower 4. Since we have towers two and three running smoothly and opened up more housing everyone seems to be comfortable. 

“Dr’s Jareau and Prentiss have the Orphanage up and running really well and the kitchen in their tower is up and running. I know Master Sergeant Jones is working with the Athosians to plant some of the seeds we brought with us. Also, Dr. Brown has been able to create a robust multi-level hydroponics bay. It feeds directly into the body of water we are currently on. Along with Dr. Kusanagi and Lieutenant Sheppard, they got the water recycling going. It’s going to take a few months, but we should start seeing fresh food soon.” Spencer set his tablet on the table and leaned forward, happy with the progress that is happening in all parts of the city.

“You’ve been quiet, John.” Elizabeth’s gaze bored into John’s eyes and Spencer leaned back waiting to see what his brother was going to say.

“Well, Elizabeth. I’ve not exactly made my opinions secret about how you’ve handled, or not handled my authority over me and my men. You tied my hands more than once, and you let Carson run rampant. So, I think what you’re doing now speaks to your true strength. But, frankly, I am not going to beat a dead horse. We need to move on and work smoothly together.”

“James, anything new?”

“I have authorized Carson to continue his research into the vaccine, but under controlled conditions with the information he has now. The only problem is that even though we are encountering different humans, each ethnicity is slightly different. Freely given blood samples would help, but I am not going to compel anyone to give up their genetic make-up. John, if your teams find them in the position where they agree to help, we’ll be able to get more information. But, I’d appreciate some training involved. Sensitivity and in taking samples.”

John stood and began to pace, Spencer knew how his brother felt about this.

“Are you really sure about this, James? The last time...it didn’t go well. That is on myself and Weir for not reigning in Carson.”

“I think in a controlled environment, with computer simulations and very controlled experiments there’s a possibility we can create something viable. But at no time will we do live Human or Wraith experiments until we know what we are doing.”

“Okay. Okay, if you think you can control this, I don’t have an objection.”

“Okay, good meeting. Thank you everyone for coming.”

The meeting broke up and Spencer walked out with John.

“You promise you’ll be careful in the new section?”

“I promise, John.”

The brother’s walked together for a little while then John stopped near one of the alcoves and leaned against the support beam.

“Do you ever feel that Atlantis is nudging you in certain ways? I feel it now, like she agrees with our current plans. I sometimes think she’s sentient and is trying to talk to us. I felt it the moment I stepped into the gateroom.”

“I felt it them moment we came out of the wormhole that first day. I don’t know how to interpret what she wants, but when we do something she likes, It feels good. Alec told me he felt it too.” John and Spencer shared a moment before Spencer spoke again.

“McKay thinks she likes us more than anyone else.”

John crossed his arms over his chest and laughed. “Yeah, he could be right.” John grew quiet as they stood there. It was a whole two minutes before John spoke again.

“I wrote Dad.”

Spencer was quiet as he leaned on the opposite beam, looking out the window knowing John needed time to say what he was going to say.

“What did you say?”

John hung his head as a bitter laugh came out while he ran his hands through his hair. Lifting up, his eyes darted between the window and Spencer in a nervous back and forth.

“I told him how I felt. I told him he was an asshole for treating me like he did and I did nothing wrong. I unloaded on him pretty hard.”

Spencer bobbed his head while he shifted from one foot to another. He wanted to move John along, but his brother had his own way in letting out what he wanted to say and Spencer needed to be patient.

“I also told him that you were angry with me and had every right to be. I never truly apologized to you or to Alec. I’m sorry, Spencer. My anger at Dad and the way we left things should never have extended to you and Alec. You’re my brother’s and in my pain and anger, I forgot that. I wanted to disappear and gave no thought how you would feel. I deserved that punch you gave me that first day. But, don’t expect to get the drop on me ever again, kid.” John’s playful smile had Spencer smiling back at him.

“Has he responded?” Spencer pushed off the pylon and took the two steps to lean next to John. 

Slowly bobbing his head, John kept his gaze straight ahead while rolling his shoulders and shaking out his hands. 

“He did. He apologized. It was quite the emotional bloodletting, but he let me know he’s seeing someone to talk to about Mom. He admitted losing Mom made him hold on too tight. He wants to continue talking.”

Spencer took a moment before he started speaking.

“What do you want?”

“I want to give him a chance, but I’m cautious, Spence. He really hurt me and It’s going to take a lot for me to forgive him.”

“That’s fair.”

“I’m glad you’re here, Kid. I’m glad Alec is here as well. Having some of my family with me, it’s given me a new outlook, you know?”

“And, McKay?”

“What about McKay?”

“Seriously?”

John turned and frowned in Spencer’s direction. “What?” John pushed off the pylon and crossed his arms.

“Oh my God, you cannot be that clueless. I mean, I seriously thought you two were already together.”

John’s eye started to blink so fast Spencer thought he was going to hurt himself.

“McKay- but- “ John’s breath was knocked out of him.

“Big damn clue bus for my clueless brother, huh?”

“Shaddup.”

“I think you should tell him.” Spencer sing-songed as he began to walk away with John sputtering after him. Spencer was still laughing when he met AR-10 in the gateroom and they made their way towards tower 4 hoping to explore it and what’s happening there. He also hoped to download any files that they didn’t already have. As he stepped into the elevator with his team, Spencer felt that nudge from Atlantis letting him know she agreed with him. Spencer smiled to himself and knew things might be hard, they might be dangerous, but he knew he didn’t want to be anywhere else.