Down the Rabbit Hole

by Domenika Marzione

Ford goes through giggling like a kid, so he knows it isn't going to hurt, but after that, he doesn't have a clue. He thinks it will be like diving into water. Or maybe getting spaced. No air, no feeling of anything but cold. No turning back.

But, point of fact, it doesn't feel like anything so dramatic. Going through a wormhole to another galaxy should register as something more than stepping through a curtain, but it doesn't. One minute he is in NORAD's sub-basement, the next minute he isn't even on their radar.

It was only once he steps into Atlantis that things get weird.

He feels it immediately. A brush, a tug, a caress in his mind. Relief he knows with disturbing certainty is not actually his own. Thirst quenched, pressure relieved. Like the chair in Antarctica, but nothing like it. That was a wave -- this is the sea.

"The lights are coming on by themselves," he says, wanting to believe it, but knowing it for the lie that it is.

He hears McKay and the others wondering who is readying Atlantis to accept her new tenants, but he doesn't answer them. How could he explain? He doesn't understand himself how he knows, how he feels potential energy turning into kinetic turning into lights, heat, and the hum of a city waking from slumber. He doesn't understand how it is happening or why. It unnerves him in ways he can't express, not even within his own mind where he doesn't need words. A mind that is suddenly not quite his own anymore.

He walks around, driven by a compulsion he can't resist, can't fight off because there is nothing to grab hold of and push. Come here, go there, let me feel you but not in so many words. Not in any words at all. Vague impressions, ephemeral urgings, and he feels it carry him along like a riptide until he fights his way free, until he shakes himself loose and is seeing only through his own eyes.

This is why they brought him, he knows, this is why they'd fought the Air Force, SOCOM, and anyone else who'd stood in their way. So he could do this. And it makes him feel like nothing more than a human sacrifice, even if he isn't really human after all.

"I didn't touch anything," he says as the screen illuminates. The stairs had lit up as he'd climbed them, but he isn't even close enough to brush things by accident here. Weir tells him not to worry and he bites his cheek rather than laugh out loud. In the corner of his mind, he feels the sea of want reach out for him and he ignores it.

McKay's bustling around like he already owns the place, explaining what the consoles are after only having laid eyes on them a second ago. Sumner calls for Weir and he follows along dutifully. He can't be Sumner's boy, but he can be Weir's man, making sure the Marines don't turn the place into their own the way they always do. In what little he's seen, he knows that Weir is savvy to the politics of the world, but she's not prepared to handle the sort of intransigence that comes with BDUs and op orders. She asks instead of commands, looks for agreement instead of demanding what is hers. Sumner's not a bad guy or a bad commander, but he's old school and will prod her until he has an understanding of her weaknesses and her willingness to compromise will be one of them.

They get downstairs and that's when things go from a little spherical to downright pear-shaped.

Atlantis has been so busy showing him how happy she is to see him that she forgot to mention that they're under water.

 

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1 January, 2006