Orpheus outtakes

by Domenika Marzione

Rodney McKay

1) Once he's freed by the Jolly Green Giant, once he's awake and alert, he keeps looking around for evidence that time has passed, that he's lost a year. But it's hard to see, if not impossible. In the hive ship, it's Sheppard and Teyla and Safir and marines and if he hadn't known that they'd left Sheppard on Earth when they'd gone, there'd be nothing wrong with that picture. On board the Odyssey, it's the same brisk efficiency of the airmen and the doctors that he'd have expected on any SGC vessel. He looks the same in the mirror -- tired, a little worse for wear, but there's nothing in the mirror to say that he's a year older than the last time he looked. He returns to Atlantis, gets debriefed, goes to a lab, and Zelenka is still making too-weak coffee and the marines are still making tuna sandwiches. He wants something to have changed, something to be so awesomely out of place that he can look at it and feel like he's not the only one put back together wrong.

It's two weeks before he asks Sheppard how he felt after returning to Atlantis after being away. Sheppard shrugs and says he's used to it, that the military bounces people all over all the time, and you learn to not take it personally to see other people filling the holes where you used to be. It's half an answer -- Sheppard has changed, profoundly, but in this he's still the same as ever -- but Rodney doesn't press.

2) The debriefs -- plural -- are endless. It takes days to go through everything the first time, then another week to go through it all again to verify timelines and casualties and whatever else everyone wants to know because Rodney is pretty much the only member of either the ship's or expedition's command to be retrieved. He learns to... disconnect during these marathons, to just see and remember without actually thinking about it. Without feeling anything. Everyone seems pleased that he's got good recall and even more pleased that he's not digressing as he usually does.

Which is most of the reason -- but not all of it -- why Heightmeyer is the only one to know that the real reason he survived was pure ego and selfishness. He told everyone else the truth when he recounted the story of requesting a substantial marine escort down to the aft engineering room on the third deck, of how the entire detail was killed protecting him while he tried to patch together a manual override on the weapons system, of how the Wraith took him prisoner from that room without interrogation or even showing any interest in feeding on him.

What he left out was the hissy fit he threw to get the escort -- he'd been given three marines and told that that was all that could be spared, but he'd reminded Major Lorne that he was the last person anyone wanted to fall into Wraith hands and that he deserved better protection than that. Lorne had given him nine more marines from the group protecting the bridge and a dirty look; it was the last time he saw Lorne. He'd not said a kind word to the dozen men who would soon die protecting him; instead he'd barked at them to watch his back because he was important. He didn't even know their names, just that they told him to hide in the space behind the console and stay there and he'd listened to them fight and die for him.

3) There are a half-dozen men who beam aboard Moby Dick with him. They are Air Force, not marines. Rodney surprises them all by asking their names.


Yoni Safir

1) There are days when he hates Carson for giving him a job he never wanted and then managing to actually fuck off and die without Yoni getting the chance to tell him to do so. The work is endless -- the damage to the unit is deeper than destroyed walls and emotional fragility; they have to simultaneously minister to everyone else while trying to put their own house in order -- and that is before Yoni has to go sit in a room with Radner and Zelenka and Teyla and try to sort out the 'big picture.' His colleagues are now his subordinates and that actually improves things a little, but it's not a cost-effective strategy because now he is obligated to sort out their problems, which in turn multiply as time sucks away more of their resources and his own conscience won't let him do anything less than everything he can. Success reaps its own punishment.

There are days when he hates Carson, but most of the time he doesn't. Because if he is going to be stuck here, he'd rather be the one making the decisions than the one having to live with the questionable ones of his colleagues. Yoni knows why Carson chose him and it wasn't meant as a punishment, no matter how often it feels like one. Which is why he has not yet quit -- Carson trusted him to hold the fort while he was gone and he has not yet returned.

2) Life in Atlantis is profoundly lonely. Which is ironic because he so rarely gets a minute to himself and he's not anyone's idea of a people person, but that doesn't make it less true. He has very few people he can conceivably call friends -- Teyla and Radner, maybe -- and nowhere but the mainland and the odd humanitarian mission to go to and the claustrophobia makes him want to scream. They knew before they went through the wormhole that it could be years before either the Daedalus was ready or the Prometheus retrofitted to be able to swing the intergalactic journey, but this soul-killing sense of isolation is something that only really began after the siege, when the possibility of returning to Earth, even for a visit, became a reality. It hadn't crossed his mind to leave Atlantis after the siege, but now it's what he dreams of most often. He misses his family and his freedom; he wants solitude to be a choice and not a default; he wants friends and lovers that he comes together with for reasons other than there's nobody else around.

3) Carson has not fucked off and died; he has merely fucked off. Yoni is too... everything to react in any other fashion than he does, which is to compartmentalize and just deal with it later. Carson, because he is Carson, understands perfectly well what Yoni is doing and lets him know precisely what he thinks of that. But while he'd like to 'do this favor for someone lost for dead,' he can't. He can't drop his guard like that and expect to pick it back up and put it in place once Carson has taken what he needs from him. There's been too much death, too much sadness, too much loss over the past year for him to grant Carson even this and still be able to weather the rest of whatever this afternoon brings them. He knows that Carson won't hold it against him, even as pissed off as he is right now, and he'll just have to rely on that grace while holding on as tight as he can to his composure and ordering Carson to the waiting area.

He still nearly loses it when Teyla comes up silently behind him and takes his hand in her own.


Kate Swinson

1) Puddle jumpers are awesome. She loved C-17s, don't get her wrong, but the jumpers are... like everything that was awesome about the 302s, except with the comfort of a cargo bird. They're responsive -- they read your mind! -- and handle like a dream and you never forget that you're driving a space ship. Atlantis has been worth it on many levels, but she'd have been happy just with the jumpers.

2) Being deputy Ops officer in a marine unit is sort of like being Margaret Dumont in a Marx Brothers movie. It's exhilarating and insane and you feel like the only one not in on the joke some of the time (and the only adult the rest) and they're just cute enough in their craziness that you don't want to reach for your sidearm. Matt and Mike and Ryan (which one is Harpo, Chico, or Groucho depends on the day and the scheme; Dave is Zeppo) think her greatest sin is being Air Force, but it's a venal sin and not a mortal one and most of the time, they can work with it. (The rest of the time, they think they can work around it, but she's Air Force because she's smart and they're still marines.) The female thing matters and doesn't -- when they bring it up, it's usually in the context of combat arms experience, which she will defer to most of the time except when they're just being marines and foregoing concepts beyond "shoot a lot." When they don't bring it up, it's because it doesn't really matter as much in a place like this and with Teyla still bruising any marine who steps on to her practice mat. That, or they're staring at her tits again.

3) She's never forgotten for a day that she's in Atlantis because there were five 302 pilots on board Daedalus who were supposed to be the original flight attached to the battalion. Their names and photos are up in the office where all of the pilots have desks to do pilot-related work (as opposed to the desk she has in the Ops office, where she does 'keep the marines from doing stupid shit'/'help the marines do stupid shit' work) and she hopes that she gets to meet them some day.


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30 September, 2009