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Title: Entrapment
Author: Espiritu
Rating: PG13
Category: Drama, Angst
Spoilers: Anything from season one to be safe
Summary: What started as a routine exploration of the Atlantis, turns into a life or death situation when two team members are trapped in a remote part of the city.
Author Notes: Thanks to highonscfi to being a sounding board for my plot ideas and for volunteering to be my beta reader. This one is for you my friend!
Disclaimer: I couldn't come up with any money to buy Stargate Atlantis, so MGM & Gekko still have dibs on it and its characters. I can only take them out to play as long as I have them back by midnight.


Entrapment

Chapter 1: Best Laid Plans

The first light of morning was just an hour old as Major John Sheppard stood in his favorite spot on the balcony outside the control room. Enjoying a welcome respite from his normal duties, he rested his elbows on the railing as he looked out over the surrounding ocean and watched the gentle waves lap against the pier below. It wasn't often he had the chance to catch a moment's peace and quiet or even time to himself. When he did, he usually found himself on this balcony being soothed by the tranquil sounds and sights of the endless expanse of sea and sky.

Unfortunately, these infrequent private moments never lasted long. The city's inhabitants invariably managed to track him down with questions that needed to be answered, problems that needed to be solved, missions that needed to be planned, duty rosters to be filled out, or reports that needed to be filed. Not to mention all the scientist geeks that needed protecting from the countless dangers this galaxy had to offer. The job of ranking military officer did have certain drawbacks with its neverending responsibilities and the headaches that came with them. Still, he wouldn't have it any other way. In the many months since they arrived in the Pegasus galaxy and settled in the vast city, Atlantis had slowly but surely become his home and the expedition members a surrogate family.

Lost in thought, Sheppard studied the reflections of the sunbeams on the rippling water as he quietly sipped his still steaming cup of coffee. Their java supply would soon be depleted, so he intended to savor every last drop while he could. While the Athosians brewed a strong tea that packed a fairly powerful caffeine jolt, it still did not compare to the rich flavor of the popular Earth beverage. Even Teyla had to concede that her favorite morning tea couldn't hold a candle to a good strong cup of joe.

He didn't need to turn at the sound of the balcony doors sliding open to know who was interrupting his solitude this early in the morning. It had become an unspoken agreement between them to make this particular balcony their private sanctuary. It was here they found solace from the burdens of command, habitually enjoying each other's company either in silent contemplation or in quiet conversation.

"You're up early, Major." Elizabeth Weir stated in slight surprise as she walked through the doorway and found the major had already claimed her unusual spot at the railing.

"I could say the same of you, Doctor." Sheppard responded in a teasing tone.

"What can I say? I'm a morning person. Besides, I like to come out here to relax for a few minutes before everyone else is up and demanding my attention.” Weir came up alongside him and stretched slightly as she leaned into the railing. "Aren't you off duty today?" She asked, turning slightly to look up at him.

"Yep, the boss finally let me have a day off. No off-world missions, no lengthy debriefings, no reports to write, no impending disasters to save us from--I don't know how I'll survive having a full 24 hours to myself with nothing important to do." The major feigned a long-suffering expression as he replied.

"Oh, I am sure you'll find a way to stave off the boredom. Just promise me you'll try to stay clear of trouble while doing so." Weir tried to sound stern, but the gleam in her laughing hazel eyes gave her away.

"I seem to recall when I became ranking military officer, I warned you that I could get us into all kinds of trouble." Sheppard reminded her.

The leader of Atlantis nodded her head in agreement. "That you did. Since then, you've certainly done your part to live up to that prediction, I must say."

"I don't know whether to be touched or insulted. Though, I prefer to see it as keeping things...interesting around here." The major shrugged before taking a sip of coffee.

"Yes, you certainly do that. I bet you were the type of child that gave your parents gray hair at an early age or at least kept them on their toes. Probably still do." Weir wondered out loud, imagining the major as a rambunctious little boy.

"Yeah, I suppose I gave them no end of worry." Sheppard murmured, looking quickly away to study the calm ocean before them.

The sudden change in the major's demeanor was not lost on his superior. She noticed immediately that Sheppard retreated behind an impenetrable wall at the mention of his family, becoming lost in silent reverie. She did not miss the sadness that briefly clouded his expression before he turned his head to face away from her scrutiny. She knew very little of his past except the basic information in his military personnel files. He never talked about his family or his life prior to joining this expedition. Everyone else on Atlantis reminisced about friends and family back on Earth at one time or another. Even Rodney spoke of his estranged sister Jeanie. The major, however, never once spoke about himself or his family during such discussions, preferring to listen to his colleagues' stories or finding a way to change the topic of conversation if asked directly about his own relatives. She wondered about that, occasionally pondering what past experiences made him so reticent to speak of his family. She tried to imagine what would make her normally outspoken and optimistic second-in-command become so remote and guarded.

Not willing to broach what was obviously a painful subject, Elizabeth nudged him playfully in the arm with her elbow and steered the conversation in a more lighthearted direction.

"So what are you planning to do with all your free time today then? Maybe Rodney could use some help in his lab."

Sheppard turned back to face her before replying with a slight grin. "I think I'll pass on that particular suggestion. Having a root canal would be more enjoyable than acting as McKay's experimental, ATA gene-enhanced guinea pig. Let him kidnap Beckett and drag HIM screaming into his lab to touch Ancient doohickeys for a change. I think I will kick back down near the south pier and maybe read some more of 'War and Peace'."

"Haven't got past page 17 yet, have you?" Weir asked in a mocking tone.

"I'll have you know I am all the way up to page 20. I just like to savor my literature slowly. It's the only book I brought with me so it has to last awhile." The major retorted.

"Wow, a whole three pages in four months. I am so impressed, Major." Elizabeth couldn't resist poking a little fun at Sheppard.

She knew most of his down time was spent training with his team, playing lab rat for McKay, or researching ways to better their defenses against the Wraith. Any spare time after that, she discovered, was filled by coming up with pranks with his partners in crime--McKay, Zelenka, and Beckett. The four friends were under the mistaken impression Weir was clueless about their escapades, but she made it a point to find out everything that went on in the city. She preferred to turn a blind eye and let them have their fun. Lord knows it was good for morale. With the stresses they dealt with on a daily basis, not to mention an uncertain future, the people under her command deserved to blow off a little steam.

"You have been hanging around McKay too much, Elizabeth. His sarcastic wit is rubbing off on you." Sheppard shot back as he rolled his eyes at her.

Weir just grinned in response and deftly changed the subject. "I was about to go grab some breakfast in the mess hall. Care to join me before you're off to the south pier?"

Sheppard looked at his now empty coffee mug. "Sounds like a plan. I am starving, and I heard a rumor that there might be waffles on the menu or at least those toaster Frisbees the military calls waffles."

"Well, shall we then?" Weir turned from the railing and together they headed out through the balcony doors.

"So when is the last time YOU took a day off, Elizabeth?" Sheppard asked as they walked past the gate room.

"I take a few hours here and there. I don't really have the luxury of a vacation as head of this expedition." Weir explained.

"Even the President of the United States takes a vacation. It would do you good to take a break for a day or two. There are enough capable people on your staff that can handle the day-to-day running of the city. It's not like you would be out of radio contact should any emergencies arise." Sheppard urged. He had noticed how tired Weir looked lately and felt she needed to get some rest from the burden of her responsibilities once in a while.

"As soon as I take care of some backlogged paperwork, maybe I'll consider it. But right now, I really cannot spare the time." Weir glanced up at the dark-haired man walking alongside her and added when she saw the look of doubt he shot her. "Okay, I will try to take some time off soon."

"I could get Carson to write you up as medically unfit for command." Sheppard threatened with a devilish glint in his eye. "Seriously, Liz, if you don't give yourself a chance to unwind, you'll drive yourself to exhaustion. Then Carson WILL have a say in it."

"Fine, John. You've made your point. Will it placate you if I promise to take tomorrow off?"

"You promise?" John stopped walking a minute and turned to face her.

"I swear!" Weir held her hands out. "See, I didn't even cross my fingers. Satisfied now?" She asked in exasperation.

"Yes, I am." Grinning, the major nodded his head and continued walking while Weir shook her head and followed along.

They continued along in silence down the corridor leading to the mess hall.
As they opened the door to the mess hall, they were greeted by the sounds of Dr. Rodney McKay in full-volume rant mode.

"I cannot believe your utter stupidity, Kavanaugh. If you had half a brain in that head of yours, you might actually be considered dangerous." McKay was waving his hands in the air as he chastised the other scientist who was attempting to fill his coffee cup.

"I don't need to stand here and be insulted by the likes of you. It was a simple oversight. Get over it. I have more important things to do than to listen to your diatribe." Kavanaugh flashed McKay a look of disgust as he added sugar to his cup.

"You really are a piece of work. If you would get off your egocentric pedestal of self-worship, you would see you are not the only one around here engaging in crucial research. That laptop you conveniently commandeered contains vital data stored on it that has not yet been downloaded to the mainframe." McKay looked ready to choke his colleague as he cornered him next to the coffee dispenser.

"Dr. McKay, Dr. Kavanaugh. Is there a problem?" Weir interrupted the heated discussion before it escalated further.

"Yes, Elizabeth. There is a big problem. Mr. Congeniality, hippy-wannabe here took it upon himself to steal my personal laptop to take on his survey of the northeast section of the city. Then he was careless enough to leave it behind when he came back." McKay sputtered.

"I did not steal your precious laptop, Dr. McKay. Mine was having a defective CD drive replaced so I asked Dr. Zelenka if I could borrow one of his. He's the one who told me to take it from the workstation in his lab." Kavanaugh countered back.

"I spoke with Radek before tracking you down here. I had given him my laptop so he could begin downloading the data. Did you pay attention to which computer he was actually pointing to or did you assume any one of them was being offered to your noble cause?"

"I did take the computer he told me to." Kavanaugh insisted.

"Obviously not, Brainman, since the missing laptop is the one with MY data on it, and Radek would have never loaned that particular machine to you.

"Rodney, it was a simple misunderstanding. Your laptop can be easily retrieved without any harm done." Weir interjected.

"Well, just who is going to go all that way to get it? It's not like that section is conveniently close to a transporter. That is at least a two-hour walk from here, and I am in the middle of writing some critical algorithms that just might help us against the Wraith. He left it behind, make him go!"

Kavanaugh glared at McKay. "I just returned from that area, so I am not walking ALL the way back now. I have to prepare for a debriefing and analyze the information from our survey. Your stupid laptop can wait until tomorrow." Before anything else could be said, he grabbed his rapidly cooling coffee and left in a huff.

"I told you, Elizabeth, didn't I?. Our team could have used an entertainment director, but instead you hired Kavanaugh. What were you thinking?" McKay put his hands on his hips as if he was demanding an answer.

"Let him go, McKay. We can always hang him off a balcony by his ponytail later." Sheppard grabbed the astrophysicist by the arm to prevent him from chasing after the departing Kavanaugh.

"Personally, I would rather stuff him in the stasis chamber where we found Elizabeth's freeze-dried doppelganger and set the controls to release him another 10,000 years into the future." McKay muttered.

"Rodney, I do like how that overactive brain of yours works. Always thinking up a plan." Sheppard stated in admiration.

McKay folded his arms and rocked back and forth on his heels. "Well, yes. I am just full of great ideas for retaliation in regards to that self-important idiot. Aggravation is the mother of invention."

"I thought that was "necessity"?" Sheppard remarked.

"Whatever." McKay grumbled throwing up his hands.

"Though I would be hesitant to dump him on some poor unsuspecting future inhabitant of Atlantis." Sheppard said in retrospect.

"So we'll send him off with a warning label attached to his clothing...translated into every language in our database of course." The scientist added as an afterthought.

"Gentlemen! Do I need to remind you that whatever your personal feelings towards Dr. Kavanaugh may be, he is still a valued member of this expedition. As such, he deserves a modicum of respect." Elizabeth admonished the two men standing next to her.

"Fine, fine. Respect is a relative term. Anyways, aren't you the one who threatened to gate him off to a deserted planet when he ticked you off?" McKay reminded his colleague.

"How did you find out about that?" Weir asked, raising one eyebrow as she regarded the scientist.

Weir wasn't too surprised that the Atlantis rumor mill passed her conversation with Kavanaugh throughout the ranks of personnel. She knew the arrogant, long-haired scientist was not well-liked and news of his dressing down by their leader when they were trying to dislodge the jumper carrying Sheppard's team from the stargate was too juicy to pass up.

"Oh, word gets around." McKay replied back.

"Nevertheless, it was my prerogative to reprimand him during a crisis situation. This hardly compares, so try to be a bit more tolerant of the man." Weir warned her top physicist.

"Besides, Rodney, it's not a big deal. Tell you what, I am off duty, so I'll just go get your laptop, and you can finish your data download when I get back." Sheppard winked at McKay when Weir was not looking to let him know they would plot some appropriately retaliatory prank on the unsuspecting Kavanaugh later. He was, after all, their favorite target.

"Okay, that works for me. You're right of course. I am...erm...just cranky due to low blood sugar. I'll just go get some breakfast before I go into hypoglycemic shock." McKay picked up a tray before heading to the food service line. He took a few steps before stopping and turning to call back to Sheppard.

"Oh, thank you, Major, for volunteering to retrieve my laptop. I owe you one. By the way, I think Zelenka has a little experiment...er...fermenting that should be ready for you to test when you get back." McKay shot the major a significant look to let him know that the latest batch of Czechoslovakian home-brew would be waiting upon his return from his self-appointed errand.

Sheppard gave the departing scientist a knowing nod before addressing his superior. "Well, since I now have something productive to do on my day off, I better get going. Elizabeth, why don't you come with me? It's a long hike out to that section of the city, and it would make the trip more enjoyable to have someone to talk to along the way."

"I really need to finish some reports today, John. And then there is the debriefing I need to sit in on with Dr. Kavanaugh's team now that they are back from their survey." Weir stammered out an excuse.

"Come on, Elizabeth. It won't kill you to get out of the office for a day. Take a break from running Atlantis, engage in some exploration of our mysterious city, and do Rodney a favor by retrieving his precious laptop." A hesitant look appeared on Weir's face as she considered the pros and cons of temporarily leaving her responsibilities in someone else's hands.

Seeing her indecision, the major tried another tactic. "Think of it field work practice without the hazards of off world travel. Which reminds me, weren't you the one who just mentioned at yesterday's debriefing that we all should get some experience out in the field?" Sheppard gave Weir his best puppy-dog look as he coaxed her into accompanying him.

"Oh, all right. I guess I should get out and see more of what Atlantis has to offer. I suppose it won't hurt me to delegate some of my work. A little exploration might be fun." Weir acquiesced.

"Good. You won't regret it. Besides, we're staying within the confines of the city. What could possibly go wrong on a simple milk run?" Sheppard asked innocently as they departed the mess hall to gear up for the trip ahead.



(TBC)


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