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AKStarlightFic
Pieces/Strands Universe Fic
Strands (6a/8) - Wait A Minute 
6th-Jun-2011 10:52 pm
Strands
Authors: shiny_starlight & alfirin_kirinki
Beta: cross-beta'd.
Pairing: Stackhouse/Markham
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: Season one; some aspects of season two - mostly season two AU.
Summary: Stranded in the alternate universe, everything is FUBAR'd - and when it comes to the crunch, they are forced to pin all their hopes on a shadow of something once familiar.

Authors' note: Today is D-Day 2011, which is ironic, given the content of this chapter and the summary of the last one. We made that post a staggering four and a half years ago, so we don't anticipate that many of you will remember this story.

Re-read Pieces and the earlier chapters of Strands if you need to get caught up.

For those of you who do remember, sorry it took so long.

All pigeon-German is wholly intentional and we apologise in advance.





Wait a Minute
Burn this city down to show you the light.


The figure in the doorway froze, staring at Marc with open-mouthed horror, and then, gibbering in terror, it stumbled backwards to flee.

"Hey! Hey – uh... shit – HALT!"

Marc turned his gaze to Markham, as he used the shelves to pull himself to unsteady feet, frowning in concentration.

"Halt – and… uh… kommen sie hier... or something..."

In the light of the corridor, the frail creature turned and lifted watery blue eyes to look at them fearfully. Its skin was grey, the fair hair receding and it seemed gaunt and malnourished. It wasn't until it crept closer, babbling in servitude and cowering beneath visibly shaking hands, and the dim light hit its face clearly for the first time, that Marc realised who it was.

"Dr McKay?"

"What the hell have they done to him?"

"Whatever it was, it didn't include feeding him..." Marc looked over at Markham for a second, and then reached out to beckon McKay into the room. "Tell him to come in and that we don't want to hurt him."

"I can't! I can say like, 'come here', and 'do you speak English' but I only 'cause my brother and my pa were into war movies... Does Adam have a radio?"

"No," Marc told him, pulling a Power Bar out of his pocket and holding it out to McKay in an attempt to lure him closer.

Markham sighed and shook his head, and then tried again: "Kommen sie hier, bitte. Speak...uh. No. Sprechen sie Englisch?"

McKay balked at him. "Englisch? Speak... Englisch? Ja. Small bit... Mi -"

"Friends," Marc told him firmly, gesturing to himself and Markham before taking his hand and pressing the Power Bar into it.

McKay gave Markham a sceptical look over and shuffled closer to Marc.

"Well, that ain't good. He's more scared of me than he is of you! What the hell d'I do to him?"


The lights were brighter in the more regularly accessed corridors, throwing shadows across Adam as he made his was back to the store room. The news wasn't good. There was a disturbing lack of servicemen in the halls and the only people in the Mirror room were scientists, buzzing around the artefact like flies. Adam observed them from almost around the nearest corner. The double doors were open, and from his vantage point he could see most of the room.

It was still so unsettling to hear people he knew talking and chattering to each other in German. He recognised some of the scientists, but barely. They were nothing like the people he remembered. They were nervous and twitchy and there was a sense of fear in the air as they worked, speedily setting up wires to the mirror and connecting them to bulky, heavy looking boxes that Adam figured were their version of 'portable computers'.

It seemed innocent enough, but something just didn't sit right with Adam. There were hardly any soldiers around and they should have been swarming all over the place. An unexplained energy surge in his own city would have meant that the entire section would have been packed with guards, and the scientists would have had a small army of guards around them. The security-paranoid Nazis would have every available man in and around the area.

Adam sensed a trap.

It would make sense: if the sensors were down, or if they didn't have the same access to them that they had in Adam's own universe, then instead of searching the city they could set a trap in the hope of catching them – make it look as though their target was easily accessible and sit in wait to ambush.

Fantastic. They'd have to be extra careful now, lest they run into people. He didn't think that they'd be falling over themselves to help them if they were found out.

But that wasn't the most worrying news he had.

He knocked quietly on the door before waving a hand over the panel and stepping inside as soon as the door slid open. He stopped short at the scene in front of him.

"Who the hell's this?" he asked, drawing up his weapon instinctively. "Wait... fuck. That's - !"

Marc sighed and shrugged; "Yeah."

"So what happened?" Markham asked, drawing himself on to his knees and standing up. At least he could manage that, now.

"Well. Fubar'd, mostly..." He shifted out of the range of the door sensors and closer to Markham.

"What, like, 'SS all over the mirror', fubar'd, or 'Holy shit, they redecorated' fubar'd?"

"It's just covered in labcoats. I've got a real bad feeling they're trying to reel us in and all their guys are sitting waiting for it."

Marc gave a huff of frustration. "So..."

"That's not all," Adam told them, taking a deep breath as he prepared to give the even more disconcerting news. "You know you said it was dark?"

"...Yeah?"

"It's not dark because it's night. It's dark because we're in space."

"WHAT?!" Markham asked so loudly it made McKay jump and cower further into the shadows.

"SHHH!"

"We're not grounded, we're in deep space... I guess that's what you'd call it. Nothing but stars as far as you can see."

Markham looked unsteady for a moment, and Adam reached out a hand to grasp his arm. "Wait – what does that mean? Are we gonna be stuck on this thing until it goes back to Atlantis, or what?"

"We don't know it ever will," Marc pointed out, scratching his head.

"I guess we got here while it was in motion, so..." Adam trailed off, shrugging. "I mean, we're moving between planes of existence, not points in space, aren't we?"

"You'd better hope you're right..."

"Yeah... So... what're we doing with McKay?"

"Well, he's terrified of me... keeps hiding behind Bates."

"You're the only one who can speak what I'm guessing is mostly-coherent German... you'd better tell him what's going on."

Adam sighed and moved over to the shaken individual, trying to seem as unthreatening as possible.

"Are you fine?" he asked him, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. "You don't need to be afraid, we won't hurt you, but we need your help."

McKay blinked at him and clutched his Power Bar to his chest. "The Sturmbannführer? The Sturmbannführer is known for his severity, Feldwebel. I'm in breach of many regulations simply by being here. I could be shot."

Adam frowned. "Who is a Sturmbannführer?"

"Him." McKay nodded at Markham before quickly averting his eyes.

"What, Jamie?!"

The others looked at him in alarm.

"What? 'Me' what?"

Adam gave an uncertain laugh, "He... he says you're a Sturmbannführer... A Major in the SS, here... and not a real nice one."

Marc was outraged. "Are you shitting me? Every universe we go to, this jackass gets a better rank!"

"I guess that's why he's so scared of you."

Pushing himself away from the wall, slowly, Markham moved over to Adam's side and held out a hand.

"Tell him I ain't no sturminbaffer, or whatever he said."

McKay looked at the hand held out to him unsurely and then looked to Adam again. "What is this?"

"This is difficult to explain. I don't speak very much German and I hope you are understanding. We are from a different cosmos in time. We are wedged here – lost."

"How did you come here? I heard of an energy surge, but I don't understand how you came to be here – we are travelling, do you have a ship?"

Adam shook his head, "No – we are from a mirror in a very grand room. We need to go home or we will die."

McKay gave a snort; "You must go, or we will all die. They will hunt you down like wolves and find me with you..."

"Will you help us?"

"Where are you going? Is it much different to here?"

"Yes! Yes, very different."


Slowly McKay nodded, then surprised them all by announcing in clear English, "I will try if you take me to your home."

Adam blanched. "Take you with us? Can we do that?" he asked, lowering his voice and stepping closer to Marc.

"Looks like we don't have a choice if we want to get home," Marc replied. "Besides, can you blame him? I mean, look at him. That's not how Dr. McKay should be.”

"What makes you guys so sure he won't turn us in?" Markham asked, standing closer to them as if he was afraid that McKay would overhear him and get ideas.

"He won't, not if he can come with us," Adam said. "He wants out of this universe, and he won't trade that for the chance of a pat on the head from the Sturmbannführer, or from his boss or whoever the hell is in charge of this place. It's no trade really."

"Why is he trusting us? I don't get it."

"Because of him," McKay said, pointing to Marc. They all looked at him in surprise. McKay rolled his eyes, and Adam saw a tiny spark of the McKay they knew and feared. "I have ears. I can hear you. It's not the biggest room in the city. It is because of him that I know you are telling the truth. I have only ever seen pictures… It is astounding…"

He stepped forward and grasped Marc's wrist. Marc shifted uncomfortably as McKay rubbed his fingers over the back of his hand then looked at his fingers in wonder. "It is amazing… Your skin – it is so dark!"

"Your point?" Marc asked, shrugging his shoulders uncomfortably at McKay's scrutiny.

"I have never seen someone so dark before. When the Fuhrer defeated America, he purified the country. He did the same to Canada, and around the world. Your people were shipped back home, to Africa. Or they were killed."

"'Home' to Africa? I haven't stepped foot on that continent in my goddamn life!" Marc snapped.

"My grandmother lived through the war. She saw what happened. She didn't believe the propaganda, and taught my mother and she taught me. But most of the world? It believes what the Fuhrer told them. It has been many years since the war, and the world has embraced the Nazi way of life. Especially the people here. The soldiers we brought here were the best there is, which means they are the most ruthless. Especially the Commandant. Sheppard would destroy entire worlds just to test a new weapon. It is rumoured he met with the Fuhrer himself before he came here!"

"Jesus! Sheppard's in charge here?"

"He is in your world too?" McKay asked, suddenly fearful and practically shrinking into himself.

"Yeah, but don't worry. He's a good guy. Has a bit of a Captain Kirk complex, but he's a good enough guy," Adam tried to reassure him.

"Captain Kirk? I do not understand… you mean he..?"

"Doesn't go around destroying worlds for fun? No, he doesn't. Though the women on those worlds probably aren't entirely safe. And to be honest, I can’t even vouch for the guys."

Marc smirked at Adam's description of Sheppard, and turned to McKay. "Trust us. The world we come from is a hell of a lot better than the one here. Where we come from, Dr McKay is the head of the Science Department. He is on Colonel Sheppard's off-world team. He is… well, okay. Not very well liked but well respected throughout the entire programme. He has saved our lives more times than I thought possible. He did that. You did that. There are millions of worlds out there. If you help us, we'll help you start a new life somewhere. Somewhere the Nazis didn't win."

"I already said I would help you," McKay huffed. "You have no need to try to convince me."

Adam grinned. "Well, alright then Doc. We know that you can tune the mirror using infra-red beams, like the ones on our watches." He held up his arm to show McKay and the scientist in front of him grabbed his wrist and peered at the watch. "We just don't know how it's done. We never expected to be stuck anywhere on our own, and when they were explaining how to use them, we were… distracted."

McKay muttered in German under his breath, and there was no need to be fluent in the language to realise he was muttering about the collective intellectual prowess of soldiers.

"Well, you may be adept at 'hopping' realities, but it is new to us. It may take me some time to establish how it works."

"What do you need?" Adam asked.

"I need some of my equipment from my lab to take readings with. And I need some time in front of the mirror, with none of the other scientists around. They are a bunch of…" he trailed off into German again.

"Right," Marc said. "I'll go with you to the lab. Stack just got back and Markham here couldn't fight his way out of a grocery sack. We'll come back as soon as we can."

"Be careful," Adam warned as McKay hustled him out the door.

"City full of heavily-armed super-racists. Got it. I'll be careful."

The room was quiet for a few moments after they left; Markham had sunk back to the floor rubbing his face and Adam carefully eased himself down beside him.

"Didn’t know y'could speak German…" Markham mumbled.

"Maybe I couldn't."

"Well, that part about being stationed in Europe made sense. Had yourself stationed on a British base in Gibraltar for six months, I think… something like that. Was before you went into Kosovo."

Adam nodded slowly. Gibraltar, Kosovo, Quantico, McMurdo, SGC, Atlantis. "Sounds about right."

"How d'you end up here, in this timeline?"

"This one, or my one?"

"Your one, dummy. I know how you got here."

Giving a little snort of concession to the stupid question, Adam shrugged. "I just got streamed into security, I guess. They had me out for NATO in Serbia and then they brought me back to Quantico and had me on EmSec and I guess that's why I ended up looking after things on Antarctica. That's where I met Jamie. He'd been in Afghanistan working on the front line as an LAV and MBT Tech with the Logistics Corps, then he got shot and when he recovered he volunteered to come down to the ass-end of nowhere to work on a bunch of snow cats, but ended up doing more security than anything else."

Markham was gazing at him thoughtfully when Adam looked up from worrying the edge of his sleeve. He could just see the glint of the light from the corridor outside the door shining on his eyes. "We met in Antarctica?"

"We did."

"We did in our world, too," Markham told him, his voice growing quieter. "I was in Logistics for the USAF and they put me in as co-pilot on the snow shuttle, flying in personnel and supplies from Tinker and Christchurch. Every three days you were on rotation at the airfield, checking everything in, and I just got to looking forward to seeing you… and then there were a couple of nights when the weather got too bad to fly out on the first leg to New Zealand and me, my pilot and our flight engineer had to stay extra days. Y'kinda took me under your wing and it just all went from there…"

"So…" Adam did the math in his head, pushing down a pang of envy and regret, "you guys must've been together kind of a long time."

"Well, we met about eight months before we started seeing each other – could never really call it 'dating' 'cause we didn't get to go nowhere…"

Adam could hear the bashful smile in Markham's voice without even looking at him; he closed his eyes, listening to his voice.

"Then, one day you came into Tinker on my flight home for leave, 'cause your brother Pete was getting hitched a couple of days later, and we went for something t'eat and something t'eat became a few beers and, y'know… Nothing had happened before then, really. We'd spent those first eight months kinda tippy-toeing around each other, being kinda friendly but not wanting to make a move 'cause of the rank issue… but we really hit it off and I didn't want you to leave, you didn't wanna leave… so I ended up staying with you at your hotel and we kinda talked ourselves into me coming up to Seattle with you.

"And then after that it was about a half a year before they figured out I had the gene and had me stationed down on the base full-time. That's when things got serious… I mean, I knew it was gonna be serious by the time I had to say goodbye and leave you on the IR at William Field after the wedding thing, but we didn't get to spend a lot of time together before I was reassigned. And that was maybe nine months before we came out to Pegasus and we were there for five years before…" Markham's voice trailed off into a sigh.

Adam hadn't really expected it to hurt so much to hear their story. His chest clenched and his mouth went dry as he tried to digest the fact that in Markham's universe they had had so much longer together; three times what he'd had with Jamie. He'd have given anything to have had that. The idea of having their freedom – a place where the greatest concern they had was the fraternisation policies of services they didn't even share and would almost certainly not have been regarded as an issue – was almost incomprehensible.

"You – " Markham cleared his throat and began again when the word came out cracked. "You, um… didn't have so long, did you? In your world, I mean…"

Adam shook his head.

"I'm sorry. I wish y'had more time."

"Yeah. Me too."

"Look, I really didn't mean to upset you before, Adam. It's just… I spent the last year dreaming every night that it wasn't real and waking up to find that it was. Every day I wished I could go back and make you put on your vest. Just… wished that it never would've happened."

"Wishes don't come true, Jay; they just don't."

It took a moment for Markham to answer and it left the air heavy. "I know. But I kinda hoped for a minute that mine had. Hope makes y'stupid, right?"

Drawing his knees up, Adam rested his head in his hands and exhaled slowly. He knew what he'd said. "I'm sorry if I made it worse."

"No… Well, I mean… it wasn't the welcome I would have picked, but…"

"You tried to get yourself killed. If it wasn't for Marc –"

"I would be, I know."

"Do you really think I would've – or your Me – would have wanted that?"

"Nope. But what did it matter? My Adam wasn't there to see it happen like I was; it couldn't've hurt him anymore. I made that choice for me, so I could stop."

The tightness in Adam's chest had slowly turned into a lump in his throat. The thought of the tables being turned – of Jamie being the one who'd watched Adam's puddle jumper explode and been left behind to feel the way Adam had since he'd been gone – was devastating. He'd always told himself that Jamie would have been fine; he would have got over it, would have moved on, but with the possibility placed in front of him the alternative was suddenly far too plausible. It was sitting right next to him.

He pressed his thumbs into the corners of his eyes to suppress the prickling beneath his lids.

"Besides," Jamie's voice told him quietly, "I don't have any place to go, now."

"You're coming home with us," Adam said firmly, sitting up straighter. He couldn't afford to lose his shit now. In his own time, when they got back home and he could be by himself, maybe; but not now.

"Sure; I can come back with you if we can get there, like the rest of my guys, but for how long? Ain't there some kind of domino thing that'll mess everything up? Doc Grodin said something about it before we even got to your 'verse."

"I don't know; I'm not a scientist. And I don't want to talk about dying anymore."

"D'you wanna talk about anything else?" Markham asked carefully, patting Adam's arm with the back of his hand in a gesture he imagined was intended to comfort him.

"Like what?"

Markham shrugged. "I dunno. Us. Like, your us, I mean – I just… you said I was different, so I wanna know what I was like; what my life was like, here."

"Well," Adam said slowly, after several moments thinking back to the shore of the mainland; Jamie's head in his lap, the smell of flowers and the sound of the water lapping at the sand. "It was… getting better."

Markham waited for him to continue.

"We'd been talking about making it public. He was happy. Actually, he was almost always happy, but this was different. He was such an idealist, y'know? He wanted everyone to know because he was too naïve and good-hearted to realise that just because he was happy about it, didn't mean everyone would be. It's not even legal where we're from – the only reason we thought we could tell, was because we'd lost contact with Earth and we didn't ever think we'd get it back… But I knew he wanted it more than anything and I was tired of feeling like I should be ashamed of what we had; so we decided, and then the next day, before we had a chance, he was gone."

"Damn. That's… real sad."

Well, that was one way of putting it, Adam thought, grimly.

"And… you said we met on Antarctica…?"

"Yeah. I'd been there a while when he got shipped in. Can you believe he actually volunteered?"

"Sure I can," Markham told him with a smile in his voice. "Sounds like something I'd do…"

"Oh… uh, yeah. Yeah, I guess that makes sense…"

"So, I came down, we met…?"

Adam nodded, shifting to uncurl his body slightly and drape his arms around his knees. "Jamie kind of… decided he was into me from the start, for some reason, and there wasn't any way he was going to let me ignore it. If I'm totally honest, it was bordering on sexual harassment, and not exactly subtle harassment, either… people started noticing… I guess it was lucky that – " he paused to lick his lips, embarrassed, " – the first time I saw him I was so blown away by how attractive he was that I forgot what I was doing and stuck myself in the face with a fork. Smooth, right?"

Beside him, Markham gave a small laugh and muttered, "Thank you."

"What? Oh." He could feel his face burning and was glad of the dimness of the light. He'd almost forgotten who he was talking to.

"Now I feel bad that I wasn't exactly on the ball, when I met you."

"It's fine. I mean, it wasn't me, anyway."

"But it may as well have been, right? For what it's worth, it's not like I didn't think you were attractive, it was just that I didn't have a lot of time to get to know you, right away. I'd be coming in from like, an eight or nine hour flight, most times… I wasn't always totally with the programme…"

"If you say so," Adam shrugged, just wanting to get off the subject. "The short version of things is that he wouldn't give up and eventually we worked things out and when I was asked to bring together a team for rotation at the outpost, I obviously picked him. Then I was asked to come to Pegasus and it turned out he had the gene."

"Just like that?"

"Well… we didn't know he had the gene at first, so he went to Weir and asked to be allowed to come on the expedition, and she told him he was already on the list. Let him beg and then told him, actually…"

"So, I followed you out here, huh?" Markham asked, scooting nearer and nudging him with an elbow.

"You gave up everything to come to another galaxy with me, never knowing if you'd ever see your family again, and ultimately it got you killed. Or, it got Jamie killed – you know what I mean."

"Listen," Markham began, reaching across Adam's back to rub his shoulder comfortingly, "you know it's not your fault, right? Because, y'know, I know you. Even if you think I'm different from the Jamie you knew, I know the way your mind works. And I don't care what universe I'm supposed to be from, I know that I'd always have wanted to have you with me as long as I could, no matter what the risk."

Sighing, Adam nodded. He did know that. Jamie had told him that himself, in the letter he'd left in case anything happened, but Jamie was still dead and Adam had still been the reason he'd agreed to come to Atlantis at all. There was no denying the correlation between those facts.

"We used to talk, sometimes, about what we would've done if we'd stayed on Earth or if things just got fixed and we could go back, somehow…" Markham admitted, pulling his hand back and scrubbing it over his face, wearily.

"Did you have plans?"

"No… not really 'plans,' but, if things had been different there were things we would have liked to do."

"Like what?" As soon as he'd said it, Adam realised that he was asking something deeply personal that Markham may not even want to go into. "That was kind of an asshole question, I'm sorry…"

"No, it's fine… I want you to know. It was just like, some dumb stuff, some serious stuff, y'know? I mean, we were never gonna stay young forever, right? One day, if we'd been on Earth, we woulda had to retire, one way or another. So, it was just things like where we'd go, what we'd do… what kind of dog we woulda got."

"I always kind of wanted a – "

"Bernese Mountain Dog."

"How the hell did you know that?"

"It's what you've always wanted – a big, cuddly, working dog. Something kind of energetic to keep you active in your old age…"

"But…"

"See, I told you you're the same person," Markham snorted.

"I just don't get it. I can understand us having similar personality traits, but wanting the same damn dog is just… it's crazy."

"For me, it's crazier to find it crazy. It's just obvious that it should be that way, because it's just another version of you."

"But look at us – we've seen three kinds of McKay already and – "

"They all seem pretty similar to me... give or take a few pounds. Maybe they all want the same dog, too."

Adam laughed a little, in spite of himself.

"We figured we'd set up somewhere near the mountains; maybe not in Seattle, or even Washington, but maybe the North West somewhere… We thought about Portland a lot. I wanted to get out of the bible belt, and you just didn't want to be somewhere that didn't have real weather."

"I really never thought I'd miss rain, until I lived in the Antarctic..."

"I know. You used to say that a lot."

"But what did you want? If all of that was about what I wanted, what part of it was yours?"

He could hear the rustle of a shrug beside him. "I wanted to be with you; that was all I needed. I'm easy, y'know? Something comfortable and stable, and that would have been enough for me, after all this. I guess what you said about wanting to go public, that would have been what I would have asked for, but our families did know, it was only the guys here who didn't."

"We never really even thought about the future," Adam told him, realising it for the first time. "Everything was just such a day to day thing, we never thought about more than what would happen in the immediate few days or weeks. I don't even know what he would have wanted, really… I could take an educated guess, but I don't think I ever asked him. Once, he asked me to run away with him to Canada – right before we came here. I took it as last minute nerves; I didn't think he really meant it."

"If you'd've known would it make not gettin' that any easier?"

Adam shook his head.

"Then just trust me when I say anything would've been fine so long as it made you happy."

"I never even figured out what he saw in me. There are things about me, Jay, that you don't even know, that he did, and I really worked damn hard to fuck things up for myself, sometimes… We didn't even have anything in common."

"I always figured that was why we worked out. Can you imagine two guys all wired like I am? It'd be like a couple of them Tellytubby things off kids' TV dating; we wouldn't have to worry about the Wraith killing us, 'cause one of our own would’ve done it already. And if we were both wired as stubborn and restrained as you, I would never've asked you out to dinner or bugged you into being with me like I did in your world, in the first place. We balanced each other, right? That was why it worked."

"Were things really that simple, for you?"

"Simple is relative, right? On Earth, simple is like, always returning calls and showing up when you're meant to be there and knowing which take out you're gonna order from on a Friday night. Here – when you're something else's take out – simple is just knowing you have someone to come home to."

"Maybe. If that's something you know you're gonna have and you don't spend a half of your time thinking up reasons why that person shouldn't be there."

"Is that how you spent your time?" Markham asked, and the frown was audible in his voice.

Adam nodded. "You could have had anyone you wanted. Anyone."

"It sounds like I was pretty determined to have who I wanted, and I got him."

"Sometimes it just felt like I was being pranked, though, y'know? I was always waiting for something to take you away. Like, what had I done to earn this amazing guy, who everybody loved and half the women in the city had some kind of crush on – apparently – and who treated me better than anyone I've ever known? You took all of my shit with this unbelievable patience… you were worth ten of me."

For a little while, there was no reply from the officer beside him and Adam listened to him breathe instead. He was just about to turn and check that he hadn't slipped back into unconsciousness when the other man moved and there was a gentle press of lips to his temple, an arm around his shoulders again, squeezing him close. He didn't bother jerking away; it wasn't a come on, it was comfort, and maybe not even for his benefit. Adam allowed him to rest his forehead against the side of his head for a few seconds before carefully turning to look toward the door, breaking the contact.

"That," Jamie's voice told him quietly, loosening his grip as Adam turned away, "is exactly the kind of thing that made you amazing to me. Y'just had no idea how kind or sensible or reliable you were. People depended on you to be the one they could fall back on. You worried about what people thought a lot, but it wasn't an ego thing, you just wanted to do the best by everybody. Since you've been gone, there's just been this space. Nobody could ever fill it; it's like we'd be sitting there in briefings waiting for you to make some totally logical suggestion that no one else had even considered, and you just weren't there to do it. I mean, Aiden grew up a lot after what happened and tried to take up the slack, but he just ain't got the kind of level head you had in a crisis. Y'can even see it in Sumner, sometimes: he opens his mouth to ask you to take care of something and then he looks at me, and then he calls out somebody else. We all miss you."

It took a lot of restraint not to tilt his head and rest it on the other man's shoulder; to resist leaning it there and closing his eyes just for a while, just long enough to take the edge off of the hollowness that had opened in his chest again since they'd been talking. It wouldn't have been fair to tell him categorically that there was no hope and no future for them on the one hand, and then offer him affection with the other. So he stayed as he was, breathing deeply and hugging his knees a little tighter.

It seemed a long time before Markham spoke again, fingers still rubbing gently at the fabric on Adam's shoulder. "If I get stuck in your universe forever you're not just gonna pretend I'm not around or nothing, are you? I mean, you'll be my buddy, right?"

"Sure," Adam told him lightly, "I'd like that." It wasn't strictly true; he knew deep down that he wouldn't like it at all, because trying to be friends and spend time with him would mean he could never put it out of his mind. But he wasn't enough of an asshole to just abandon him, and if the tables were turned, he would have hoped that his counterpart would have taken care of Jamie for him.





Next part


Comments 
7th-Jun-2011 11:50 pm (UTC)
This is so moving, you're killing me here! *clings*
10th-Jun-2011 10:37 pm (UTC)
Please don't die! There's more to read...
11th-Jun-2011 09:45 am (UTC)
No, look, I'm here, I'm alive!! Keep writing!!!!! *waves madly*
10th-Jun-2011 10:20 pm (UTC)
Oh this is so amazing...

...and you're back!!
10th-Jun-2011 10:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Glad that you're liking it :D
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