Rodney returns opening the door to find Carson reading some medical book with John flattened between him and the wall. His shoulder is resting on Carson’s hip, face down, his head resting on Carson stomach.

Quiet words pass between them, not a conversation as such more a verbal reassurance to both of them. Rodney clears his throat, John sharply lifts his head and blinking begins to unpeel himself from Carson.

“Food is one of those essential parts of life. As a medical man you should know that and as a military man you should know that the mess is almost done serving. Between you, you should have been able to figure out that I was waiting for you. But as you clearly couldn’t so I’ve come to get you before I collapse in a hypoglycaemic coma and die.

Not that either of you would notice at the moment seeing as you are totally wrapped up in each other and friendships clearly fade to insignificance given the chance for some pseudo-sexual time together.” Carson frowns, shaking his head slightly. Rodney blithely continues “I however am not prepared to starve to death or watch my friends starve to death just because they are too absorbed in their own little world to figure out how to tell the time.” Carson and John stare at Rodney in stunned confusion. “I mean John looks like he is starving to death half the time anyway so how you can possibly lie there reading a book while he misses an opportunity to put some weight on I just don’t comprehend.”

The rant continues as Carson stands, stretching,  passing John his gloves and jacket  “of course me actually dumbing down enough to comprehend something that you two do would be deadly.  Although neither of you are as bad as Kanavan. I had a dream that I was him. It was like I was an insect of some sort. I was so stupid, I didn’t have the brain capacity to understand exactly how unintelligent I was. Every time I thought that I had come up with something amazing it almost killed me. It was horrible.”

“Does that mean you now feel sorry for Kanavan?” Carson enquiries sitting back down with a smile.

“No, it just means that if I ever, ever get a brain trauma and lose brain cells you have to kill me before I wake up. I just couldn’t live like that!” Carson and John look at each other and after a few seconds John crumples with silent laughter falling back down on the bed, jacket sliding to the floor. Well Carson is clearly in a rude mood. Mentally muttering things to John behind my back Rodney thinks.

“Well it wouldn’t do for us to let our ‘dumb’ actions kill Rodney would it now, John?”

“I guess not” John says looking uncomfortable then with a small voice “We should go to the mess then?”

As John catches the jacket Carson walks over to Rodney, neatly catching his elbow he starts to pull him out of the room as John trails obediently behind them.

“Maybe you should stay here if….” Rodney starts turning back to face John

“Maybe you should just leave it” Carson hisses in a low almost deadly murmur. Rodney falls silent with a worried glance to John and a harsh reminder of Carson’s words from months before.

“He’s changing a lot”

“Only to be expected” Rodney and Carson are sitting in the mess watching John pick his food off the counter hunched up avoiding eye contact and contact before retreating to a corner table as far from everyone as he can get. Carson sighs then looking at Rodney’s frown mutters “Think of it like chronic pain, the mind comes to accept the pain as normal and so starts to ignore it. When the pain is gone the brain refuses to accept that and continues to fire the pain receptors for a while. The patient knows their OK but can’t stop flinching. That’s where we are.

After the brain stops sending the false pain the patient has this huge rush to do all the things the patient couldn’t do while they were in pain, things they wouldn’t have done before the pain.

Later there are setbacks, hard falls that makes the pain flare up for a while and then will come caution of slowly discovering what is safe.” He smiles bitterly

Silence falls as Rodney mulls it over and eventually Carson touches his arm and says “He will never be like you and me. He will never be comfortable with what he is. There will never be a time where the wrong word or move or person won’t send him running back to hide behind old behaviours. There will be days, even in twenty years time, where he will go back to this.” 

Rodney stabs something unidentifiable on his plate and finally says

“There probably won’t be twenty years like this for him”

Silence reigns for a while as they watch John.  Finally Carson leans forwards close in to Rodney he barely breathes the words “If I thought that do you think he or I would still be here” Rodney frowns at him before lifting his eyebrows, Carson shrugs “how hard do you think it would be for the lead geneticist to take the person with the strongest expression of the gene back to his main research lab in the university of Edinburgh?”

The area around the Gate is a large clearing with forest on three sides. The team progresses forward cautiously towards a spot of light in the far distance. John takes point with Ford carefully staying just out of reach.

“Shep, 2 o’clock” Ford murmurs pointing in to the forest’s edge.

Moving off quickly, John catches a flash of moving white and raises his fist.  He creeps on, Ford following him slowly. A small figure races out of the trees pursued by a white-haired figure.  The sound of Ford’s safety coming of brings the first figure to a halt an arm’s length away; ‘Children’ John thinks fear poring through him suddenly. The second child, wearing a mask, crashes in to the first and they tumble to John’s feet a tangle of limbs.
“Please, don’t hurt us!” One shouts scrambling to his feet holding the crushed mask up like a shield. The other child lies still at John’s feet chest rising and falling quickly.

“Shep?” Ford calls closing in

“Kids” John wants to crouch and check the child over but fear holds him still,

“Just a couple of kids playing, sir” Ford shouts over his shoulder to Colonel Lorne moving forward swiftly.
John flinches away before he can be touched as Ford quickly falls to one knee hands sliding over the child’s head before taking his pulse. The standing child looks between the two men and then glances back to the forest.

The rest of the team closes in, encircling the group as the Colonel crosses to John and lays his hand on his shoulder despite the flinch. Read him he projects before letting go.

John swallows and crouches down in front of the trapped child

“What’s your name?” the child gives him a wide-eyed look and hugs the mask in to his chest “I’m John, umm, and that’s Ford… do you even speak English?” he mutters

“ Jinto an’ that is Varen” Jinto says in a small voice before offering “ we’re not meant to play out here” John dips his head slightly as the child speaks, he rocks away a fraction before frowning.

John takes a deep shuddery breath before taking a glove off and holding his hand out

“Good to meet you, Jinto.”  After a few seconds John reaches further out and forces their hands to touch.

John surges to his feet smoothly, features snapping from distressed to mask like, his hand scraping repeatedly at his tac vest “His father’s not far behind, he’ll be here soon. The village is small and about 20 minutes walk due south. It’s lead by a woman called Teyla.” Lorne nods turning away snapping orders

“Ford, pick the kid up. Let’s all look real friendly while we meet the parents”

“Sir…” Lorne glances back “… there’s these things, monsters, they come through the gate. The fear of them is overwhelming. That’s why I had to…” John cuts off waving a hand vaguely.

Ford snorts, rolling his eyes “Kids! Probably a bogeyman.”

Lorne turns fully looking at John calculatingly, the man frowns before shaking his head looking at the hand still scraping. “Later. Ford in the centre, Shep at 6. Parker, take point heading due south. Smitty, Gregson you’ve got the gate.”

John roughly pulls his glove back on before lifting his canteen to swill his mouth out.

Thought I was done with this crap.