So I Married A Chair
Story 8 - Bachelor Party
Carson knew something was up as soon as Rodney and John entered the infirmary, both without injuries and both with identical wicked grins. Beckett sighed and looked up at the pair of them. “Alright, what are ye planning?”
“Nothing,” Rodney answered, lying poorly.
“I’m not buying that. Ye and John rarely drop the act of hating each other.”
Sheppard smirked. “What do you mean, act?”
Dr McKay glared at him. It took him a moment to register that the Major was only joking. Beckett stared. “I think my secret has benefited the both ye in positive ways. First ye in cahoots with each other and now Rodney understands what a joke actually is.”
Rodney and John exchanged glances, realisation dawning on both their faces. They both looked away quickly. Carson smiled. “Now don’t let me make ye forget what ye came here for in the first place.”
“Right!” Rodney declared, remembering. “Well, we figured that you’ve been married to Nena for at least seven months. This led to us wondering when it was that you two actually got married.”
Carson pondered this for a moment then said, “About nine months, I suppose.”
“Wait a minute,” John frowned, “When did you guys meet?”
“Forty-two weeks ago tomorrow.”
Sheppard’s eyes gleamed. “Well that settles it! We’re holding you a belated bachelor party.”
“Not to disappoint ye, lads...” Beckett shook his head in amusement. “But I don’t need one. We don’t have enough people to celebrate and, as far as I know, there aren’t any strippers in the city.”
Rodney rolled his eyes. “Well, hardly. But I was able to locate some beer in the city.”
“And where did ye find some?”
“Your study!” John said triumphantly.
Carson sighed. “So ye not really doin’ this for me. It’s so ye can get sick on beer.”
“Well…that too…” Sheppard muttered.
“Ye do realise that Nena wouldn’t be too pleased, don’t ye?”
Rodney leaned forward and whispered in tones of discretion, “Not if she doesn’t know!”
Later that night, Beckett had completely forgotten about the conspirators’ visit and was entirely wrapped up in studying blood samples with odd Ancient devices that he had previously never known anything about.
“It’s late,” a voice said in his ear.
He didn’t flinch, merely searched for his wife’s hand and kissed it, all without looking at her. Nena turned his face to her and kissed him on the lips. She told him sternly, “You’re going to get some sleep, if you’re to stay up all night tomorrow.”
“I didn’t bother telling Rodney ye’d know anyway,” Carson said resignedly. “I almost said no. I’m sorry, love.”
She smiled, taking his hands in hers. “I am not angry about that, Carson. However, I could be a little upset that you seem to find your work more important than me.”
The doctor, not wanting to be on the receiving end of her ire, shimmered the both of them away.
The next day, as evening drew near, John Sheppard shirked his scouting duties and simply disappeared. If the life signs detecting software in the control room hadn’t been tapped into by the city itself, anyone who bothered to look at the screen would have pinned his location as the infirmary.
“I can’t believe I’m letting ye do this,” Carson muttered, watching almost helplessly as John hauled out the prized crates of beer.
The Major paused to wipe his forehead, stating, “And I can’t believe you haven’t drunk it all by now.”
Beckett sighed and glanced at one of the Ancient communicators he kept in his infirmary, mentally commanding a link to the one he’d given to Rodney. Beckett demanded, “Is everything set up?”
“Yes,” answered the scientist smugly, “now will you quit worrying? Between you and me, we can make this sojourn of ours completely unnoticed to everyone else.”
Carson briefly tapped the command room speakers, finding that there was no alarm over the lack of control at the console. He still felt ill at ease and grabbed one of the beer bottles to calm his nerves. He upended it and drank deeply.
“Let’s go!” John declared.
All three of them met up half an hour later in an abandoned pier of the city that shouldn’t have had power. Everything was set – except there seemed to be one vital flaw in the plan.
“What’s the point of getting drunk if there is no party?” John demanded, staring down at the cases of beer in disappointment.
Rodney whipped out one of his energy bars and chomped into it. Then he picked out a bottle, flicking off the lid. He explained to the other two, “One bar per beer. I should avoid becoming too far gone.”
“How many energy bars do ye have?” Beckett asked.
“Oh, only five.”
“Actually, scratch what I said.” John sat down. “I want to get McKay smashed. That’ll be the party.”
Rodney exclaimed indignantly, “Hey! It’s not like I haven’t been drunk before. Really,” he added at the disbelieving expression on the Major’s face.
John leaned forward and dared smugly, “Prove it.”
“I don’t think drinking to excess is such a good idea,” Carson advised.
Sheppard challenged, “And why not? It’s not like the Wraith are suddenly going to attack us or anything.”
Beckett was thinking more along the lines of his respectability and a certain entity. He connected up to the city’s systems for a moment and found Nena lurking nearby. Sensing his uncertainty, she urged him to forestall responsibility for the night.
“Alright,” Beckett conceded, “I’ll have a few – but a few only!”
Some time later…
“How is this fair?” Rodney wanted to know in a slur. “Carson got jumped before me!”
Beckett snorted, also slightly inebriated. “Tha’s not really a surprise Rodney.”
Sheppard prised the cap off another bottle and looked over with interest. “So how does that work anyway? A guy and a chair?”
“Ye really want to know?”
“Yes!” chorused John and Rodney.
Shrugging, Carson explained as best as he could. There were two different reactions from the audience. McKay was hanging on to every word, but Major Sheppard…
“No! Stop! Stop! Forget I asked!” John was bawling, fingers stuffed into his ears.
Beckett continued, grinning, and at last Sheppard could no longer bear it and tackled him.
“I was listening to that,” Rodney protested.
John whacked him over the head. “Rodney, if you start doing sordid things with chairs, you blame Carson and not me!”
“There is one more chair, isn’t there?” McKay asked brightly.
Beckett scowled. “Don’ ye even think about it. Tha’s still Nena.”
“Hey, you sound more broguish when you’re drunk,” Sheppard noted suddenly.
Rodney said fiercely, “Broguish isn’t a word!”
“Ah, lads, quiet.” Carson frowned for a moment. “I’m startin’ to sense…Wraith!”
Rodney gasped dramatically and fell backwards over the crate he was sitting on. He giggled. John whispered loudly, “Manly hunger!”
Some part of Carson reminded him that Wraith were a serious matter. This part also told him that it was urgent and that he ought to pay attention. He wavered a moment, then called, “Nena!”
His wife appeared, face taught with worry. She raised her eyes to the heavens, bemoaning to the Ancients, “Of all times for a Wraith dart to appear…”
“Wha’ d’ye need us to do, darlin’?” Carson leant over to kiss her, but she stepped away. “We’ll deal with it.”
“In this state, I very much doubt it,” she snapped.
“Don’ worry. John and Rodney will take out a ‘Jumper and I’ll stay here.”
“No!” Rodney spoke up from behind his crate. “We’ll need you to keep in contact with the city and that.”
Beckett hesitated. He didn’t want to leave Nena, but he knew she could handle things fine. He rubbed her hands. “We will return.”
Disregarding his breath, Nena kissed him fully. As the three men staggered off to the nearest transporter, she touched a hand to her heart in farewell then vanished.
“Dr Weir, we have incoming! Two vessels.”
“I want ‘Jumpers in the air, now,” ordered Elizabeth, clenching her hands in front of her.
“Controls are not responding. I’m locked out.”
If Nena was in human form in the control room at that moment, she would have looked smug. Perhaps not tactically sound to reject assistance, it would be easier for her to do her part in defending the city if she had full autonomy of the systems.
Rodney marched into the Puddlejumper and slid into the pilot seat. “I’m driving!”
“You couldn’t fly straight with the steering disabled,” hooted Sheppard.
“It’s not sech a bad idea,” Carson mused. “Ye need to focus on the weapons and I’ll link up tha…tha…”
“City laser gun thingies!” John finished wisely.
Once the Puddlejumper was shuddering in lift off, Rodney scowled over at him. “They are not laser gun thingies. They are demolecularising, atom reversing…laser gun thingies.”
As the Puddlejumper cleared the launch bay, it threatened to slip a few metres. Rodney struggled to level it out, ignoring the snorts from John in the co-pilot seat. Beckett retreated to the back part of the ship and closed his eyes, connecting to the city. He felt Nena already immersed in the operations.
As their consciousnesses touched, there was an exchange of warmth and understanding. Nena diverted power from the least demanding parts of Atlantis into the shield and weapon stations. They split the number of weapon stations between them.
“Here it comes!” McKay yelled.
John amended quickly, “There are two!”
“Oh God!” Beckett said to this.
The city’s defences let off a volley of shots, skilfully missing the ‘Jumper and slamming into one of the darts. It promptly exploded in a bloom of furious fire. Sheppard hollered triumphantly, “Go Carson!”
“Keep ye eyes on tha other one!”
The other dart happened to disappear at that moment behind taller areas of the city. Beckett ordered, “Follow it! Nena says the weapons on that side are weak.”
“Don’t tell me my job,” Rodney said importantly and swooped after the dart.
It occurred to Carson and John at the same time that Rodney was flying a lot better under the influence of alcohol then when he was sober. They both looked at each other with worried expressions. The ‘Jumper advanced on the Wraith ship steadily.
Sheppard popped the lid off a bottle of beer and guzzled some of it. He passed it around. Beckett only had a few sips, but Rodney drank thirstily, droplets sliding down his chin unchecked.
“It’s comin’ round behind us,” Beckett told him, taking the bottle.
John let off a torrent of shots which glanced behind the ‘Jumper, one connecting with the target. The dart wasn’t severely damaged, however, and kept coming. Rodney suddenly swung the Puddlejumper upside down in an arc that brought them face to face with the enemy ship.
“You could have warned us to hold onto something!” John snapped.
Rodney shot back return, “Inertial dampeners – and keep your focus!”
Sheppard missed once, but struck home on the second shot. It didn’t explode the dart, but it left the vessel careening out of control. Rodney chased after it, yelling, “Blow it! We don’t want a Wraith beaming into At…At…the city!”
Before John could think anything more, shots burst from the city itself and finished off the dart in a spectacular fireball. It could almost be imagined as fireworks, except not so pretty.
“Yeaaah!” John crowed. “Nice shooting, Doc!”
“That wasn’ me…was Nena.”
“Well good on ya missus!” Sheppard increased in volume if possible.
Beckett was silent for a moment then said out loud, “Nena thanks ye and advises that we land somewhere inconspicuous with enough time to get away.”
“So we’re not claiming credit for this?” Rodney demanded, disappointed.
Carson patted him on the shoulder. “We know ye want to impress Dr Weir, but ye’ll be in more trouble than good with yer breath like that.”
Rodney brought the ‘Jumper down at an uninhabited pier in a shaky landing, due to the lack of a proper landing apparatus. As soon as it was safe to disembark, all three of them bailed to their separate rooms.
Twenty minutes later, after battling mysterious glitches with transporters and even stairs (of all things), Dr Weir arrived with a few marines. The ‘Jumper was empty except for a few spent bottles dripping beer.
“I want to know who was responsible for this,” Elizabeth ordered, viewing the scene somewhat anxiously.
Who knew what destruction a few drunks could have done?
John stumbled into the cockpit of the ‘Jumper, smothering yet another yawn. He flung out an arm and latched onto the scientist of the team and commanded, “Your turn to drive.”
“No!” Rodney snapped. “I’m not feeling up to it today.”
The Major almost felt like pleading but he refused to sink to that level with McKay. He coaxed desperately, “Go on, Rodney, you know you want to.”
By now Ford and Teyla had taken their seats, exchanging glances. The Athosian watched their bickering for a few moments more before noting, “You both look weary. Were you unable to sleep last night?”
“Yeah, got a headache?” Aiden pressed, catching on to her loaded question.
Rodney snorted and tried to disguise it with a short cough. He winced at the orchestrated wheeze, closing his eyes briefly. Ford shook his head. “So it was you two last night. Weir said she found a load of alcohol on that thing.”
“A word of warning, Ford,” John said smoothly as he slid into the pilot’s seat, “don’t spread that on the rumour mill. That’s an order.”
Aiden threw his co-conspirator a beseeching look and Teyla caught it, turning her attention to the Major. She pointed out, “People will eventually suspect you, even if we hold our silence.”
Ford jumped in quickly, “Not that we will say anything, right? I just want to know…if you two were in the ‘Jumper, who was firing the city’s guns?”
“Oh I don’t know,” John responded airily. “Ghosts? Automation?”
Carson Beckett groaned as he cautiously opened his eyes. Too bright. Too loud. Who opened that bloody window? The usually peaceful roar of the ocean battered against his head. When he could focus properly, he realised he was half off the bed in his assigned quarters, not with Nena in their own version of Atlantis. It was her equivalent of kicking him onto the couch.
“Och…wha’ happened?” he managed in amazement.
He felt Nena comb his unruly hair and struggled to sit up. She was perched halfway down the bed, resting her free hand on her swollen stomach. Carson said sheepishly, “I’m very, very sorry, love.”
“I’m not angry…anymore.” Nena smiled. “I made sure the life signs detector placed you in your office all night. Rodney was, oh, in his lab and John was roaming the East pier. There just happened to be an electrical malfunction with the communications and radios at that time. Our secret is safe.”
Beckett reached over to stroke her face. He returned the smile, his one of relief, and stretched his protesting shoulders. He asked in a sudden rush of memory, “Are ye alright? And our daughter?”
“All is well. Although, watch out for Lieutenant Ford and the Athosian leader. They alone suspect it was you three last night.”
“We shouldn’t have had a party,” Carson moaned.
Nena laughed and said sweetly, “But Rodney would have crashed the ‘Jumper sober.”
“I’m swearin’ off alcohol, Nena. I promise ye I won’t touch another drop.”
His wife’s gaze turned away from him, brows furrowed. She laced her hands together but they trembled in a tell tale sign of something a lot more important than a drunken revel to destroy Wraith ships. Beckett probed in concern, “What is it, darlin’?”
“Carson…” Nena hesitated. “I’ve picked up Wraith hive ships on the long range sensors. Three of them. They’ll be here in two weeks.”
He slid his arms around her, holding her, trying to expel the shaking in her body. There was nothing he could say to comfort her. Nena murmured, “You have to tell your expedition leader.”
“I can’t do that.”
“You must!” she exclaimed, pulling away from her husband. “If your friends do not get the forewarning they need, Atlantis will be lost!”
“And what should I say, lass? ‘Oh excuse me, Grodin, can ye check out the armada headed our direction?’”
Nena shot him an icy glare. Not wanting to incite an unnecessary argument (there are only so many mornings one wants to wake up on the couch), Carson rubbed his eyes wearily and tried to calm down. She told him steely,
“There are more subtle ways to inform your friends.”
“Aye there are…”
Zelenka blinked at his computer screen. He peered closer until his nose was almost touching it. His eyes widened behind his glasses and he pulled back for another view of the screen. Yes. There it was.
Three blips, three blipping somethings staring him in the face – and they looked very much like Wraith hive ships. He closed his eyes briefly, counted to ten and opened them again. Still there. He tapped his radio slowly, reluctantly, as though hoping he was seeing things.
“Dr Weir, we have a problem…”