Pairing: Gen, but references Stackhouse/OFC
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Series: Part of Dramatic Exit
Summary: There's more than one kind of frat regulation.
Author's Note: Just something I wrote while bored at work. Takes place just before the end of Season 3.
It started, as many things did, with a decree from Earth. The IOA had become concerned that members of the Atlantis expedition were becoming a bit too connected with Pegasus. Therefore, fraternization with Pegasus natives outside of mission-related activities was forbidden, with violations punishable by recall to Earth. Most people ignore the pronouncement, either because it didn’t affect them directly, because they were violating completely different frat regulations already, or because they ignored everything that came out of the IOA.
Not everyone had the luxury of pretending the rules didn’t exist, though, which was why Gunnery Sergeant Adam Stackhouse was in his quarters, carefully packing up his most essential belongings – clothes, a few old pictures, the blanket his mom had knitted him. He hadn’t gotten any kind of formal notice yet, but he knew from experience how this would turn out and he wanted to be prepared.
“Going somewhere, sergeant?” The unmistakable drawl made Adam jump and spin around to see Colonel Sheppard leaning against the door frame. He’d been so intent on what he’d been doing that he hadn’t noticed the door opening. The fact that the colonel had walked through a supposedly locked door didn’t surprise him at all, because no one could live in the city for three years without noticing the way it rolled over for Sheppard.
“No, sir,” Adam replied quickly, trying to think of an excuse. “Just getting ready for the next mission, sir.”
“Seems a bit much for a two-hour trip to pick up some beans.” Sheppard walked in, with the door closing and relocking behind him, and sat down in one of the chairs around the room’s table. Adam stayed standing, not quiet at attention, until Sheppard lazily waved at the chair across from him. “Sit down, Stackhouse. You’re not in trouble.”
Adam reluctantly sat down, back still stiff. “In that case, sir, can I ask what this is about?”
“Drop the sir. This isn’t official.” Sheppard leaned forward and crossed his arms on the table. “Although it’s about exactly what you’re thinking.”
Closing his eyes, Adam quietly asked, “How did you find out, sir?”
“Keller told me. She found out when she was doing rounds at Athos yesterday.”
Adam nodded sharply. He’d figured as much, since he’d learned while escorting Keller on that same trip. Looking down at the table, he said “If it’s not too much to ask, I’d like a chance to say goodbye.”
“Goodbye?” Sheppard frowned and shook his head. “I’m not shipping you back to Earth, Stackhouse. And if I was, we both know if I let you go through the gate to Athos you’d never come back.”
Adam’s head jerked up at Sheppard’s words. “Sir. I – I don’t know what to say.”
“As far as anyone’s concerned, the father of Kiara Tullegen’s child is unknown, and that’s what the medical records sent back in the databurst will reflect,” Sheppard explained gently. “The only other people in the city who know are Teyla, Weir, and Lorne.”
"But. Sir, you could get in a lot of trouble." Adam got up and started to nervously pace the room. "I mean, if the SGC finds out that you’re falsifying records…"
"Who’s falsifying records? The woman didn’t tell us, so there’s nothing to lie about.” Sheppard shrugged, as if omitting details in official reports was an everyday occurrence. “’Sides, it’s not like you two are the only illicit couple in the city.”
"Yeah, but I’m just a replaceable grunt, not the commander or chief scientist,” Adam blurted out without thinking. He froze, face red, and braced himself for the inevitable explosion. Instead of anger, though, Sheppard reacted with laughter.
"I suppose I deserved that, although your gossip is out of date,” he said, shaking his head. “The point is, we’re covering for a lot of people. You’re just as valuable as anyone else.”
"Thank you, sir," Adam said. He still wasn’t sure quite how to react, but he wasn’t going complain. “I can’t express how important this is to me.”
"You can thank me by doing me a favor,” Sheppard replied. Adam’s face fell, and he knew he should have realized this was too perfect. “Lieutenant Hillman’s going home on the next flight to Earth because his mom’s sick. I need someone to take over as head of our security detachment on Athos.”
“What? Sir, I’m don't have the rank to-“
“All the officers are busy in other assignments, except for a couple of green lieutenants,” Sheppard explained, interrupting Adam’s protest. “I need someone experienced, and I need someone I can trust.”
"There has to be a catch." Things never went this well in Pegasus. He believed the colonel when he said he the best qualified, because the SGC had been stingy lately with fresh, experienced officers – with personnel period, really. Most of the guys had been here a long time, with the exception of the occasional group of oddballs dropped off by the Daedelus. Still, there had to be something up.
Sheppard’s eyes grew shifty, a look Adam recognized well from mission debriefings of the more embarrassing kind. “I might need you to occasionally look the other way as some stuff gets moved through.”
“Wait, what?” Adam couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. It brought back a few unpleasant memories of his time before the SGC. “Excuse me, sir, but I don’t think I understand.”
“Nothing much, just extra shipments of grain, cloth, that sort of thing. We’ve been negotiating a few trade deals under the radar, stuff we’d prefer the IOA and SGC not know about.” Adam relaxed again, and sat back down in his seat. Sheppard shot him a puzzled look. “What did you think I meant?”
Adam shifted in his chair, embarrassed. “Well. It’s just that when people say things like that, they mean things a bit more illegal than tava beans.”
“Oh.” Adam saw understanding dawn on Sheppard’s face. “Oh. Ok, I need to rephrase that next time. We’re just trying to build up our food stockpiles in case we can’t rely on regular shipments from Earth.”
“But why hide it from the SGC, then?”
“Let’s just say that you’re not the only one who wants to make sure they can stay in Atlantis, no matter what Earth thinks.” Sheppard tapped the table with his fingers before adding, “A few of us have been making arrangements in case they try to recall the expedition again.”
Adam gaped at Sheppard, wide-eyed. “That sounds like a conspiracy to, to – god, I don’t know what. Mutiny? Treason?”
“It’s probably safest for you if you don’t know anything,” Sheppard said, suddenly completely serious and watching Adam closely. “There’s no strings attached to your assignment. Just give me a call if you want to talk more.”
He got up and headed for the door, but before he could leave Adam called out, “No, wait.” Sheppard turned, face placid, as Adam jumped up and walked over to stand in front of him. “I want to help. Even without the regs, sooner or later I’ll be reassigned. I’ve got a life here. I'm going to have a wife and a kid. I’m not going to leave it all behind again. If I’m going to get in trouble anyways, it may as well be for something useful.”
“Good man.” Sheppard grinned broadly and held out his hand, and Adam took it with a firm grip and a renewed feeling of confidence. Even if it did all end horribly, at least he’d have tried to do something, and if anyone could pull something as crazy as this off it would be Sheppard. “Welcome to the browncoats, Adam.”