A Physics of the Spin/Something Worthwhile Crossover
(Gilmore Girls/Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Stargate Atlantis)
Author's note: This is a fic I wrote for Laoshi, who nominated one of my stories over at the COA
and has been an amazing reviewer over the years. This is a (very) small thank you
for his great feedback. He wanted to see a chapter in Floating, Magic and Memories
with Faith from Something Worthwhile
, and it turned into this...
Disclaimer: Sony and MGM own all things Stargate Atlantis. Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy own all things BtVS. Gilmore Girls is likewise note owned by me. I am only borrowing the sandbox. No copyright infringement intended.~~~Three years after Something Worthwhile and An Ancient Dilemma. Early days on Atlantis for Physics of the Spin...
Faith wanted to punch someone.
Not the Wraith, sadly, as Atlantis was Wraith-free at the moment, and it was unlikely that Team Shepp's Gate travels would turn up some old-fashioned ass-kicking anytime soon.
Atlantis was relatively free of the other crazy shit they'd seen in the past few years - no exploding machine things, no evil gas clouds, no more of the crazy spider-bats they'd found in one of the wings of the city. Nothing at all upon which Faith could direct her pent-up rage.
So she kept kicking at the dented gym practice dummy and told herself that if she got through the next week without slapping a certain someone
in the face, she was taking time off for good behavior.
And then, wouldn't you know it, into Faith's last remaining hiding place, walked Little Miss Perfect.
"Oh, hello," said Rory Gilmore, stuttering to a halt in an awkward stumble of feet that never ceased to annoy Faith. "I was looking for Staff Sergeant Herrera."
"He's not here," Faith said with what she considered extreme patience, giving the practice dummy a violent kick.
"He said he would meet me down here."
"And yet." Faith took a few steps over to the wall to kick off her shoes before returning to the mats.
"So you haven't seen him?"
Faith didn't bother to respond to that. Maybe, if she ignored Gilmore, Gilmore would go away.
With a practiced kick, Faith went back to demolishing the practice dummy.
Only to stop a minute later when she realized that Gilmore was still there.
"What?" Faith demanded, letting her foot drop to the mat.
Rory shrugged, her shoulders curving in slightly. Her posture was horrible, all fragile female, and Faith didn't understand why the girl didn't just stand up straight. "Could I talk with you for a minute?" Rory asked.
"You know, life on Atlantis." Rory took a deep breath as if girding herself for battle. "What it's like here. Working here."
"It's like working anywhere," Faith retorted. "Five-to-nine, eight days a week. Three solids a day and time off for good behavior."
"But with life-sucking aliens and machines that want us dead," Rory tried to make it a joke, but Faith's nerves were raw and sometimes the Slayer was too close to the surface for her to joke.
"Like I said, it's like anywhere." Faith turned her back on Rory, wondering if the kid would ever take the hint. "If Herrera shows up I'll tell him to go find you."
The silence that followed that line, broken only by the continual thud thud
of Faith's foot on the practice dummy, was extremely welcome. Faith liked silence. It meant that annoying people had finally taken the fucking hint and gone away.
When Faith turned back to the door a minute later, Rory was gone.
And god-damn John Sheppard stood in her place.
Faith didn't stop her routine, just kept up with the kicks. Sheppard, smart man that he was, didn't try to interrupt or join in. With her mood, Sheppard would just get pounded into the mat.
When the sun had climbed the windows and Faith was getting a bit bored with the repetition, Sheppard finally spoke. "What's going on?" was all he said.
Faith shook her head. "You tell me, fly-boy." For Sheppard had that alert air of one about to deliver a lecture, unusual in him. Normally, the two of them were pretty laid-back with the talking. He didn't try to boss her around unless they were in the field and it was life-or-death, and she took it easy on the sarcasm when he was around.
Sheppard sighed. "Why do you never let up on Gilmore?"
, but Faith didn't want to deal with this. "I'd love to let up, but she's always around."
"No, she's not. She's usually with the math geeks downstairs."
Faith glared at Sheppard as she went for her towel. "Then maybe it just seems like she's always here, because a certain someone
never shuts up about her."
"You can't blame McKay for talking about his kid."
"I don't!" Faith snapped, a little too quickly. "So he's got a mini-me, power to the man. But we've got stuff to do, you know? I don't have time to listen about Gilmore's fairy tale life."
She expected Sheppard to pitch in a witty rejoinder, like he usually did, but the man kept his mouth shut and his eyes on Faith. He had that curious glint in his eye, the one that made him seem ten years older and three times smarter than he usually appeared.
Faith really hated it when Sheppard got that look.
The silence was getting to her. "What? So I'm not Little Miss Perfect's biggest fan, what of it? She's got Herrera in charge of the fan club, let him plan the social events."
Sheppard pushed himself off the wall, slouching a bit on his way across the room. "You and her, you're a lot alike," he said suddenly.
"Me and who?" Faith demanded, because that was so far out of left field that she couldn't parse it.
"You and Rory."
"Hell no!" Faith threw her towel at the wall to face Sheppard unencumbered. "Me and the Perfect Princess have nothing in common."
Sheppard shrugged, hands in his pockets. "You both were born to teenage mothers, without a father around."
It was as if he'd slapped her in the face. The air knocked out of her for a moment, Faith had to struggle for a response, any response at all. Finally, she said, "Do not
go saying that any of the shit I went through is anything similar to Gilmore's life!"
"It's a reason, though," Sheppard said, never breaking eye contact with Faith. "You both started at the same place, and ended up in the same place. The trip was just different."
Faith had to turn around and walk to the end of the room. She was breathing hard as if Sheppard had attacked her. He was wrong, that was all. He had no fucking clue what he was talking about.
When she reached the wall, Faith touched the smooth cooper and felt the pulse of Atlantis flow beneath her fingers. "Word of advice, Bo Peep. Don't ever compare the two of us again."
When Sheppard spoke again, it seemed like it was from far away. "I get what you're going through, Faith."
Faith pressed her palm flat against the wall. "Fuck off."
"I do. You get a glimpse at what might-have-been, you start thinking. I've been there."
"If you even start pretending you know about my life was like before I came here, what shit I went through, Ritchie Rich, I'm going to hurt you."
Sheppard let out a breath. It wasn't a sigh, it wasn't a question, it was just a tangible reminder that he was there and alive, just like she was. "I don't mean like that," he said. "It's just that I used to be the one everyone gave up on."
Faith spun around. "Are we seriously going to do this?" she demanded. The panic and pain in her chest hadn't gone away, had only gotten worse with every word that came out of Sheppard's mouth. "Let's hold hands and skip in the daisies? You don't know shit about my life or what I been through, and no kumbya storytime is ever going to get you there!"
Sheppard took his hands out of his pockets, his shoulders going back, the soldier peeking though his oh-so-careful laid-back facade. "Because you know so much about my life?" he said, his voice finally showing some heat.
"God damn it, John! We ain't the same and you know it!"
"I get what it's like to be not wanted, Faith. I've been down the road of not wanted
. I know what it does to you and how it never really goes away."
Fine. Sheppard wanted to do this? They'd do this. Faith stalked across the room, stopping too close to Sheppard for it to be anything but a fight. "Really, pretty boy? And what exactly does 'not wanted' do to you?"
Sheppard looked at her, just looked. "It turns people like us, into people like us."
She could have stepped forward, made this physical. The woman she had been before Sunnydale, before Angel, before jail, would have punched Sheppard in the face for the sheer fact that he was there.
But that was then, and this was now, and Faith was face-to-face with a man whose orders she accepted in battle, life or death. Somewhere along the line, when it seemed like it was just them against the universe, Faith had fallen in the trap of trusting John Sheppard with her life.
In Faith's books, that list wasn't long. Angel was one of the only others was on that list.
Faith backed away from Sheppard, from his words or from the fight, she didn't know. "So you and me, we're just the same," she said, trying to buy some time because he wasn't fucking wrong and Faith wasn't sure she could deal with that.
"Exactly the same. Except the super-strength thing." He smiled, just a little lie, and made a punching movement with his fist.
"We're the same?"
"Then what the fuck does that have to do with Gilmore?"
"Not a lot about Gilmore. More to do with McKay."
Jesus on a sandwich, the man was totally insane. "What about McKay?"
"I get how you and Rodney are. Rory showing up like she did must have changed that."
Faith blinked, thrown. "How me and Rodney are what
Sheppard let out a strangled sigh. "Look, I remember what McKay was like when you showed up. He didn't give a damn what you'd done, only what you could do. Can do." Sheppard rolled his shoulder in a sorta-question. "He was the same with me. Didn't care what had happened with me before I showed up in his Antarctic lab, just wanted me to play light switch to Atlantis and save his ass all the time."
Faith just stood, mouth agape, listening to the ramblings of a crazy man. "So?"
"So don't let your problems with his daughter drive the two of you apart."
"What's to drive apart?" Faith asked a little too quickly.
Sheppard gave her a look. "I'm not an idiot, Faith. I see how you look at McKay.
"You mean watching him so he doesn't wander off a cliff?"
"That's not what I'm talking about, and you know it." He made a pained expression. "It's been three years since you came to Atlantis. You're allowed to... you know."
"I know what?" Faith bit out, hands balling up at her sides.
Sheppard looked distinctly embarrassed. "You can have... feelings. For people."
"People?" Faith repeated. She wanted to yell at Sheppard he was being an idiot, that she didn't care about Rodney McKay any more than she cared about the chairs in the cafeteria. But the words stuck in her throat because that would have been a lie, and she didn't know how Sheppard could possibly have known things Faith had a hard time admitting even to herself.
"People," Sheppard confirmed. He gave her a ghost of a smile. "And like it or not, 'people' now have a daughter that we have to deal with."
Faith took two steps back onto the mat. It was too loud and confused in her head. She wasn't a thinking kind of person. She was more about action first, question never.
"Anyway," Sheppard said, hands going back in his pockets. "Like I said. We're a lot alike."
And with that, Shepard turned on his heel and wandered out of the gym.
Faith was having a hard time focusing. Somehow, the conversation had started on Rory Gilmore and ended up with Sheppard playing matchmaker between Faith and McKay.
Which was insane.
Shaking her head, Faith went to find her shoes. Maybe this would make more sense after a run.~~~
The sky was darkening beneath two moons when Faith finished her final circuit of Atlantis's east star-point. The wind was picking up into a squall at the ocean-line, and Faith was exhausted, cold, and more than a little wet from the sea spray.
Not that the run had helped her confusion.
Stumbling a bit as she headed back into the tower, Faith made it to a transport booth and back to her room without running into anyone. Normally, Faith would wonder who was where and what was up, but now, she was just so tired she had a hard time thinking straight.
Yeah, tired. She'd go with that.
The shower helped with the shivering. Faith braced her hands against the wall of the shower and let the hot water slide over her skin. Now that she wasn't running, it was harder to keep Sheppard's words out of her head.
Okay, fine, Faith thought. So Sheppard thought she had fuzzy feelings about McKay. So what? Maybe he was cute in a totally abrasive and not-her-type sort of way. Maybe Faith appreciated having someone around who could be smart enough for the whole team, who saved their lives with science and brain power and all that crap.
And maybe on some days, it was a fucking miracle that he didn't treat Faith like some cheap piece of tail. Or like a felon.
Maybe Faith didn't know what to do with a guy like McKay. A guy who treated her like Sheppard most of the time and got tongue-tied when Faith dressed up like a girly-girl and got angry on her behalf when any of the Marines got bitchy about her criminal record.
Faith ducked her head under the shower spray and let the water flow over her face.
She didn't know what to do.~~~
Teyla was still in the cafeteria when Faith dragged her sorry ass in for a late dinner. The Athosian woman was walking back and forth by the railing, singing softly to the fussy baby in her arms.
Grabbing some food out of the cooler, Faith headed over to a table in Teyla's path. When the other woman came around again, she slipped into a chair next to Faith gratefully.
"How's the munchkin?" Faith asked through a mouthful of sandwich.
"He may finally be asleep," Teyla replied quietly. She shifted the baby in her arms, brushing his dark curls off his forehead.
"He is." Teyla looked about as exhausted as Faith felt. No wonder, Faith thought. The woman did her job on Shepp's team and then took care of a baby on her own.
And if that was what it was like as a single mother as an adult, Faith had no idea how her teenage mother had thought she could manage when Faith was a baby.
Or what the hell Gilmore's mother had been thinking.
The food turned to cardboard in her mouth, but Faith kept chewing. Needed to keep up the Slayer strength and all. "You've got us, you know," she said when she managed to swallow.
"I beg your pardon?"
"You know. Us. Me and Johnny boy and McKay and Ronon. We can pitch in more than you let us."
Teyla stared at her son, sleeping in her arms. "I can do this," she told Faith.
"Hell yes you can do it," Faith said. "But you don't have to."
Teyla was silent for a long time. "I should have my people around," she said finally.
Faith swallowed against the thread of rejection in Teyla's words, because this wasn't fucking about
her. "We'll find the Athosians, Teyla. Sheppard said so."
"And if we do not?"
It was the closest Faith had ever heard Teyla come to defeat. Faith knew how it sounded, the weariness and guilt of being left behind, or surviving. She'd heard it in the remaining Slayers after Sunnydale, in Buffy's voice nearly every time they talked.
Sometimes, Faith heard it in her own voice.
Faith pushed her tray aside and reached across the table to touch Teyla's arm. "Then we remember them and do our damnedest to get the bastards who took them from us."
Teyla didn't react, didn't look up from her son. Faith stood and circled the table to sit next to Teyla, part of her brain marveling at the total role reversal they had going on. Normally it was Teyla being all serene knowledge lady, while Faith was fighting to hold it together.
And because she didn't know what else to do, Faith put her arm around Teyla and they sat like that for a while, with the wind rattling the windows and the storm outside far enough away.
Torren shifted in Teyla's arms, making baby sucking motions with his lips. Teyla lifted the boy enough to kiss his forehead as he settled back into sleep.
"Now," Teyla said. "Tell me what is wrong."
"Why do you think something's wrong?" Faith replied without thinking.
The look Teyla gave her was eloquent with a little bit of pity thrown in. "You do not often go for such a long run when things are well."
Faith shifted back in her chair, resting her hands on the table. "It's not much."
Teyla said nothing.
"Okay, so maybe Shepp's lost his mind a little."
"What has he said to you this time?" Teyla asked.
"He's got this idea that, just possibly, I might have... feelings, for someone."
"For Rodney," Teyla stated matter-of-factly.
Faith nearly swallowed her tongue. "Has Sheppard been spraying this all over the city?" she demanded.
"Of course not, Faith."
"Then how the hell--"
"Because this is about Rodney," Teyla interrupted. "And it is about you. Do not forget that you are as much a part of this team as he is."
Faith just blinked.
Teyla stood. "You should consider it."
"That what you feel for Rodney, he may feel for you."
"What, exasperation at having to save his life twice a week?"
Teyla's slips curved up into a smile. "Oddly enough, he said something very similar last week."
And with that, Teyla left the cafeteria.
Faith let her head fall into her hands. This was fucking perfect. ~~~
The next day, Faith wandered into the geek club house, slurping on a cup of truly horrible coffee and carrying a chocolate bar as a peace offering.
The usual chaos filled the air, but Faith had spent enough time down here over the past few years tugging on McKay's pigtails that no one paid her any attention. She had an easy enough time locating the person she was looking for, all tucked away in the corner. All right Faith,
she said to herself. Time to be all grown-up and mature and shit
Rory jumped. "Hi! Hello." She stumbled to her feet, nearly upsetting her computer. "Rodney isn't here."
Faith winced. Dear god, she wasn't that transparent, was she? "Not here for him. Can we?" She held up the chocolate bar and gestured at the door
Rory followed Faith out of the lab, down the hall, and to one of the large windows that looked out over the south pier. Faith broke the chocolate bar in half and handed one part to Gilmore. The girl took it without comment.
"You doing okay here?" Faith asked after a minute.
"I guess," Rory said, eyes on the chocolate bar. "It's been a bit different than I expected."
"Yeah, Atlantis does that." Faith leaned against the wall. She'd spent most of the morning practicing in her head what she wanted to say, and now everything she had in mind sounded really fucking dumb. Man up,
Faith told herself sternly. "Sorry about yesterday."
"What about yesterday?"
Was the girl trying to twist the knife, or did she not get that Faith was trying to apologize?
"I could have been a little less... you know."
"Oh. Don't worry about it."
Man, that would have been so easy. "No, I..." God, Faith sounded like such an idiot. "I wasn't expecting you," she blurted out. "Not the 'McKay has a kid' part and not you being..."
There were so many things Faith could have said. 'Debutante Princess' was one line, as was 'Being Everything I'm Not', but neither of those would really help.
"...it's like, you never met Rodney before, and you're like him, you know?"
Yes. Faith was now officially sounding like a total moron, in front of the new Atlantis brain trust.
Rory stared at Faith with McKay's huge blue eyes. "Most people say I'm a lot like my mother."
"There's more than one person like Rodney McKay out there?" Faith said, falling back on wise-cracking as a habit.
Rory gave Faith a tiny smile. "Scary thought, isn't it?"
"You have no idea."
Rory put the last bit of chocolate in her mouth. "Can I ask you a question?"
Since this was how yesterday's debacle had started, Faith was a bit wary as she said, "Shoot."
"How long have you and my dad been dating?"
Faith felt as if her heart was going to stop. "Been what?"
Rory's cheeks went red, but she kept staring at Faith. "He talks about you all the time, more than he talks about John. I mean Sheppard," she appended hastily.
"I'm not dating McKay!" Faith blurted out, focusing on the immediate threat, rather than the interesting slip of the tongue around the Colonel.
"Oh. I thought you were." Rory returned around to go, but hesitated.
"What?" Faith demanded.
"Maybe you should," Rory said, her voice laced with a level of steel that was nothing like McKay at all. "Not a lot of people understand Rodney."
And with that, she went back into the labs.~~~
Team Shepp gathered in the Gatrium at noon, Atlantis standard time. Well, most of the team.
"Where's Teyla?" Rodney asked as he checked something on his computer. "We're leaving in a minute."
Sheppard tugged at a strap on his vest. "Teyla's taking this trip off. Baby time."
"Baby time?" McKay repeated, sounding incredulous.
"Yes, McKay," Sheppard said with his most annoying drawl. "The time one spends with one's new child in order to get to know them."
"What's to get to know?" McKay asked, but his tone had softened. "Torren's a baby. He drools and makes random noises."
"Maybe it's best you got a fully grown kid instead of having to deal with a factory-fresh model," Faith said without thinking, then froze. Had she just said that about McKay's daughter?
Before she could react, Rodney was already waving her comment away. "There's nothing wrong with babies," he said as the Stargate began to light up. "I'm just better with people who aren't pre-verbal."
"That's for damn sure," Faith said, taking up her position at the rear of the group. "Hey, Ronon, got anything to add?"
The large man turned slightly from Sheppard's left. "No."
Faith and McKay exchanged a glance, and McKay rolled his eyes. "Are we going?" he asked Sheppard.
"All right kids," Sheppard said, squaring his shoulders in his good ole boy
posture. "Let's go make friends."
"He always says that right before things go straight to hell," Faith said to McKay in an undertone, just their usual banter. Although she didn't usually have these butterflies in her stomach when she was whispering in McKay's ear.
"I know, you'd think he'd learn," McKay groused. He gave Faith a quick smile, and they were off.~~~
"Next time, I'm going to tape Sheppard's mouth shut before we go through the Gate."
"Get in line." Faith rested her head against the tree's mossy trunk, wanting to be anywhere but there.
"No, I'm serious. With real tape." McKay was a few feet away in the darkness, tapping gently on his computer.
"Go easy on him, it wasn't like he could know we'd get chased away from the Gate and split up." Faith pulled her collar tighter, wishing that she could keep the incessant rain from trickling down her neck.
"Don't see why not, with our track record."
McKay huffed and puffed, but settled down enough to let Faith listen to the sounds of the night. No sounds of anyone creeping toward them, no indication of any life at all. Maybe they had really lost their pursuers.
Now all Faith had to figure out was how to locate Sheppard and Ronon on an unfamiliar planet, in pitch blackness and the rain, without a working radio and with a civilian hanging off her arm. Simple, really. At least there weren't any Wraith in the picture.
So it was just like any other week, then.
Something shifted, and Faith nearly jumped out of her skin as something touched her arm. She bit back a scream. "What the hell, McGrabby?" she demanded in a whisper.
"I wanted to make sure you were still here."
"Of course you know I'm still here, you're the one holding the life signs detector!"
"Fine!" McKay let go of Faith's arm, but instead of returning to his previous position, he settled down at her side, his leg pressing against her hip and his arm smushed against her side. Fine
, he'd said. Easy for him to say. Faith had to swallow hard against the fluttering in her chest. This was totally ridiculous. They were cold, lost, exhausted, in danger of being captured by crazy pitch-fork-wielding villagers, and all Faith was able to think about was the wet Canadian next to her.
"Do you want to have dinner? With me?"
Faith jerked back, starring blindly at the large dark blob that was Rodney McKay. "The what now?"
They were so close that Faith could hear Rodney breathing. "Um, well... I thought..."
"You thought what?"
A moment of quiet, then Rodney took a deep breath. "If we get out of this one alive, I thought we could have dinner or something," he said, voice nearly inaudible.
Faith shook her head. How the hell was this her life? Lost in the Pegasus Galaxy with a loud-mouth belligerent genius, and it was the best her love-life had been in years.
Actually, all things considered, this was pretty much where she wanted to be.
"That depends," Faith whispered, pressing her thigh against his.
"Oh what?" Rodney stuttered.
Off in the distance, Faith could hear crashing footsteps in the darkness that had none of the grace of Sheppard or Ronon. "On what or something
means." Faith smiled as she spoke, feeling a strange sense of triumph as Rodney's breath hitched in his throat. "Come on, we gotta go save Sheppard and Dex first."
She slid her hand down Rodney's arm, squeezed his cold hand, then stood.
"How can we do that when we can't even see?" Rodney complained, letting Faith pull him to his feet.
"Simple, Tex. I got your back."end