By Kat Reitz and tzigane

"It worked." -- J. Robert Oppenheimer

Once upon a time, the world had been different.

Greg Sanders had never believed there would be something he couldn't explain with a little hard work in a DNA lab. The problem was, he'd never thought about the kind of science it would take to cure any crazy shit he ran across there. He'd wanted to identify it, solve crimes with it. Catch the bad guy.

He wasn't exactly sure how he was supposed to catch the bad guy when the whole world was full of them these days.

Things had changed too rapidly, settled into new patterns too fast. There was probably some kind of crime researching group, but what they considered crimes looked a lot more like gang warfare to him, and all he had to do was stay alive. Walk the line and stay alive and human.

It was easier said than done.

For the most part, he could spot them. They didn't look that far from human, but he'd been trained to recognize certain things, and learning to identify vampires wasn't that far from the other things he'd been taught, literally at the feet of a master of apperception.

There were days that Greg still missed him. They'd had their ups and downs, and that thing with Sara had been one hell of a dip, but afterwards... yeah. It had gotten better, maybe even been heading back to the way they had been before that. Everything had gotten better until the day that they'd come swarming out of nowhere.

Some people said they were the result of some kind of government experimentation. Some people said they were a way to help along the process of natural selection.

Greg mostly never wanted to see if he fit the criteria for selection. Why would he want to be that? Why would he want to lose his humanity and join the vicious people who'd overrun his home? Fucked up his job?

Taken Gil?

That last one had probably been the easiest, and fighting back a bitter laugh was harder than it should have been. Gil had a pretty good moral compass as far as actions went, but he had a hell of a lot more curiosity than was good for him. They'd come in, presented themselves as something clean and brilliant, and somehow they'd ended up in charge of... everything. Just everything, and there was one that had come to see Grissom often, repeatedly. Gil had been so fascinated and so gently led that he'd...

That had been the real end of it. Not Sara, who'd picked up and moved to the tropics. It had been the vampire.

It had been McKay.

He was fairly high up in their... their whatever, if not the apex from which it had all descended, and Gil was prone to curiosity. Greg didn't want to know how they turned people, and the rumors were bad enough, vicious twists of old human myths. Vampires weren't supposed to exist, but they did, and they controlled every single inch of Las Vegas.

For all that they called New York the town that never slept, Vegas was worse, and they were everywhere. Even their watchdogs were visible, always there, and that left guys like Greg out in the cold. He didn't have a job, he didn't have anywhere to go, and he was fucking tired. He was tired and he was lonely, and.... and he missed Gil. More than anything, he missed Gil.

Didn't know what Gil was doing, or more like whom. And that was okay, because Gil wouldn't want to know what his new pastime was. Pastime. Job. Both. It was kind of a shitty hobby, as far as Greg was concerned anymore, but he liked to pretend he still had a lot of fun with his johns and it made the job easier. Made it so that he could mostly look himself in the eye when he finally stumbled home, eyeliner smeared, ass sore and sticky.

Christ. He had never been so grateful that his Poppa Olaf and his mom were dead as he was on the mornings when he couldn't manage to do that.

Generally, he hung in there. He coped, and he was alert enough to stay out of danger. Years of being a CSI had only gotten him bare survival skills, but Greg guessed that if he'd stayed a lab rat, he would've been dead already.

It didn't help him shake the paranoid feeling that he was being followed.

He shifted into the shadows and moved, quick-footed and sure. He'd been here, a couple of years before hell had come to Earth. He'd thought that weekend was hell, a different form of it. He'd killed a boy there, even if he was evil, and thinking about it... thinking about it still hurt. It made the bones in his face ache, made his ribs feel like he couldn't pull in a deep enough breath. It was a place that felt familiar, though, and when he was being stalked in the dark, he'd take every advantage he thought he could get.

He knew it. He could feel someone coming down the alley. Feel it before he heard it, and when he heard it coming towards him it was slow, evenly paced steps. Someone who didn't want to be heard.

Someone who was hunting for something.

Greg slipped behind a dumpster and held his breath. He knew it was pretty useless; they could smell fresh blood from a mile away, and if one of them wanted to suck a whore dry in some back-alley, it wasn't like CSI was around anymore to catch these bastards.

It wasn't as if anyone was going to stop it from happening to him. He'd been lucky so far.

He heard footsteps coming closer to him, and then they stopped. "Hey. I know you're hiding there."

"Yeah, well. I've got garlic and I'm carrying an illegal stake. I'm skinny and I have high cholesterol, so you'd be better off going someplace else for supper," Greg called, licking his lips nervously.

"Because you can really outlaw pointed sticks. If only gun law advocates had known how easy it was." The voice didn't sound that tiny bit off, that step to the left of correct for a human voice. "I know you're behind that can, Greg Sanders."

Shit. Just. Shit. Who could possibly be looking for him? It wasn't like there was anybody left. Nicky had headed back to Texas sometime during the invasion, and everybody else was pretty much dead or turned. There was just him, and nobody knew him anymore. "Who are you?"

"Someone who wants to help you out. And you can help me out, and possibly the rest of this planet." Yeah, the last time Greg had heard something like that, it had been one of the schizophrenics from a back alley.

"What kind of crack have you been smoking, buddy?" Yeah, he sounded disgruntled. That was because he was, and then some. "I can't even help myself, so what makes you think I can help you?"

"You used to be a CSI." It was ego stroking, and probably for no damn reason. The guy moved in front of his hiding space, waiting. "Look, just talk with me face to face."

The fact that this guy knew who he was made Greg nervous, but it wasn't like he had anywhere to go. There was a brick wall at his back and at the other end of the dumpster. He should have taken his chances with running. "Tell me who you are."

"John Sheppard. US Air Force Colonel." Not ex. One of those guys, then, one of those guys who never gave up. It was stupid, like if Greg went around introducing himself as CSI2 Greg Sanders.

"And you think that's supposed to mean something? That you're a colonel?" Still. Still. At least Greg knew he was dealing with another kind of crazy, so he stepped out from behind the dumpster. "It means about as much as what I used to be, I figure."

"There's still a few of us left, and there's enough of a command structure left that it still means something to me." Sheppard rolled his shoulders. "Might mean something again sometime. If you help me. You knew Gil Grissom."


Greg could feel his stomach drop unpleasantly, a roller coaster sensation. "Yeah. A long time ago." He'd known him, and he'd known him. Colonel Sheppard probably knew that, too, if the guy already had him pegged as one of Grissom's protégés. "That doesn't mean anything now. Not to me."

"Yeah, well, I used to know McKay. And that means a whole hell of nothing at all, but it means a lot, too. I need someone to get me into their building."

The guy looked old and tired. His hair was threaded with gray and it was all over the place, his eyes looking at Greg with a kind of hardened determination that made him shiver. "He's not gonna want to see me. He left..." Greg. "...all of us behind when McKay came to town."

"Lots of people would have done the same. Smart people." Sheppard tilted his head a little. "Are you sure that your guy won't want to see you?"

"If he wanted to see me? He'd know how to find me." Vampires knew everything in this town. If they didn't know it for themselves, they had somebody to tell them. Gil didn't want to see him.

Somehow, that still hurt, even knowing what Gil was now.

"You're not hard to find," Sheppard agreed. He moved slowly, hooked a thumb into his belt buckle. "You ever wonder how you can be so easy to find, but no one's drained you yet?"

Greg felt the shudder work through him. "If he really cared? I wouldn't be the only one left."

"Might've been out of his hands. Look... let's talk somewhere that isn't a wide open alley, huh?"

He didn't want to talk, but Greg didn't figure this guy was going to give up and walk away even if he didn't. "And if I don't like whatever it is you have to say?"

"I don't know. Why, do you need to be threatened before you can have a civilized conversation with someone?" Sheppard gestured with his chin towards the way he'd came down the alley. "Let's go."

The guy was probably a serial killer who liked male prostitutes in eyeliner for his chopping up purposes, Greg thought, sullen, but he went with him anyway. It wasn't like he had anything to lose.

It wasn't much, but as far as bases of operations went, John had been involved in worse ones. He'd had his whole life ruined, and compared to a lot of humans in the city his one room hellhole was pretty high standard.

"Sorry, all I've got for chairs are old milk crates."

That didn't seem to bother the guy in the ragged jeans and the ripped up t-shirt. Rumor had it he used to be a criminalist, a DNA expert. His name was Gregor Hojem Sanders, if John had the right guy. He looked a lot younger than thirty-four, and John felt a lot older than forty-two.

"It's okay. I'll stay standing if it's all the same, thanks."

Suspicious as hell, too, and who could blame him?

"You should. I'm just saying that this is a conversation better held on a fake sofa than standing up. Look, the vampires... I know how it started and how it's progressed, and I know how to kill one if I get to it."

The way Sanders looked at him was all brown-eyed doubt, mistrustful shift of mouth. "And what good will it do to kill one? There'll be another one coming along to replace it."

"McKay? You have no idea how deep in it McKay is, how vital he is." If McKay stopped, if he stopped assisting the turning itself, their numbers would peter off and their infighting would take them all.

Nobody every would have figured Rodney for the kind of guy who'd manage to run a city, much less hold an iron fist over the head of an entire group of blood-crazy aliens who couldn't seem to agree on the merits of AB- versus O+. Then again, most of the people who would have thought that were crushed under his heel now.

John knew Rodney better than that. He knew Rodney could do anything he put his mind to, and this? This was just the start. First Vegas, then the world, completely by himself, with the help of a handful of minions that he didn't trust but was willing to abuse. Hand-chosen for brilliance, vampiric ruthlessness an added bonus.

"So. I need help getting to McKay."

"Okay. What makes you think I can give you that? You think Grissom's going just to be happy to see me if I walk up to the Bellagio and try and make it past the pricks they've got at the door? I won't even make it that far. They'll drain me before I get into the lobby."

"Call up. Call ahead." John waved one hand slightly. "Look, if you agree, I'll help you work out that part of things."

"Fat lot of good that'll do when I'm bleeding to death." Still. John recognized the shift in his body, and the look on his face. He was going to accept it, gonna do it, because it was the right thing to do. Sanders took a breath and flicked out his tongue. "Okay. What is it you need me to do?"

"Just get me in. I know that your Grissom will welcome you. They're not... the all powerful, all seeing all self-sufficient beings they were in the myths." John shifted, leaned his back against the table he had set up. "They're flawed."

The kid took a deep breath and seemed to think about it for a minute. "Well. If I've gotta die, I guess I can die with panache. I'm in."

"That's the spirit." John's mouth tipped a little, and he turned, looking carefully at Greg. "You want some food? You look kind of..." Kind of like he hadn't eaten in days, and even then it probably hadn't been anything good. There was a system, and if a man wasn't a part of it, he was so far outside that it made old-fashioned poverty look kind.

Sanders gave him a long, steady look and nodded. It was more than John could have done. He probably would have snapped something, asked if the guy offering was afraid his hip bones would bruise on his ass if he didn't feed him. "I could eat."

John was more controlled than he used to be. "Good. It's not much, but it's solid. I kind of miss restaurant meals." MREs kept for twenty years, technically, and they'd be edible longer. If anybody could call it that.

Rodney had always loved them.

"I kind of miss meals period, so I guess I can see where you're coming from." And then some, because his stomach had to be gnawing a hole in his backbone.

"Right." John shifted, and then reached behind him beneath the table to pull out one brown sealed wrapper. "MRE. It's got 1200 calories, so it should give you a pick me up. Don't eat the cracker now, save it for later. The salt content is high, and you'll throw up if you eat it with everything else. Later with water, though." John tossed it easy, underhand to the kid. He was a kid. There was an eternity between their ages, even with everything that had happened after Rodney had stepped back through the gate. After all.

John had lived through all of the shit that had happened before it.

"Thanks for the advice." Greg was pulling it open, not bothering with the chemical heating pack. It wasn't like warming it up helped the taste much anyway. At least it was one of the vegetarian ones nobody ever seemed to want. Maybe the lack of meat would help it stay down.

"Welcome." John crossed his arms, half-watching Greg eat. "You might want to heat it up."

"'sokay cold." He knew it was a crock of shit, but the kid was obviously starving. At the very least, John could feed him while he risked his life. "So. Wha' kinda plan have you got?" Greg asked, mid-nibble. "Because if I'm gonna die for a good cause, I'd at least like to have a great plan to start things off."

"We need to start by trying to make contact with Grissom. You can't just... call up like you might've done with casinos. Do you know the place where he is?"

Yeah. That was a look that called him stupid without saying it. "It's not like they announce their sleeping places, Colonel." His mouth was full but he managed to talk around it anyway. John knew what that was like. "But they've got offices. Gil... Grissom's always with McKay. Public meetings, they do together."

"Any idea why?" He had his own ideas, but he wanted to know Greg's.

"Strength in numbers? I have no idea how they think. Well. Vampires." John could see the twitch that betrayed the weirdness of saying that word aloud. He'd have done the same if he hadn't spent years fighting off Wraith only to have actual blood suckers show up and try to take over the universe. It just went to show, he guessed. "McKay's building an empire. Gil's... he was smart enough to see all of the probabilities even if he couldn't see the practicalities." The kid was poking at the MRE, and John figured he'd be lucky if he kept it down now. He'd eaten it too fast. "Rumor was, McKay was a genius. Before. Gil was just a different kind. Maybe. Maybe he wanted the balance."

"McKay was a genius," John confirmed quietly. "Brilliant. I worked with him on a project that was classified -- space exploration, all of that. The stuff of science fiction movies. He was the guy who saved our ass."

"Yeah, well, now he's the guy who's kicking them. Nobody can do anything without McKay knowing about it. I don't know what makes you think this is gonna get past him, either." Sanders was pretty desperate, though. Death or an attempt to help the world. John had kind of figured that he'd go for it, and he hadn't been wrong.

"Let's just say he doesn't expect betrayal from within."

He watched as Greg seemed to stop, slow down. The remains of the MRE were balanced on one bony knee, his dark eyes focusing on it as if it required a great deal of concentration. "You really think Gil's gonna just... betray McKay because I ask?" He looked up at John, and the line of his jaw was tight, his expression unreadable. "Just because he's left me alive and whoring on the edges of Vegas doesn't mean he'll be willing to risk getting left out in the desert sun because I come begging."

John snorted, and crossed his arms over his chest. "Man, do I wish that sunlight shit actually worked. Otherwise we would've rigged the world's largest solar reflector to be done with it."

There was that look again, the one that asked him if he was stupid. "It might not kill them, but a whole day in the sun's a little more unpleasant for them than it is for you and me. McKay's not afraid to stake somebody out to make sure they know their place."

"I'm also sure he's hard at work looking for a way to tamper their DNA so the sun doesn't even make them blink," John countered. Sanders didn't seem surprised by that, but he did look like he was thinking pretty fast.

"So basically, you want to hand a DNA expert over to McKay. You think that'll get me in as far as I need to go." That was about it. Nobody could say the kid was stupid. "That's kind of risky in a lot of different ways."

"Between that and Grissom... yeah." John swallowed, inclined his head slightly at Greg. "Then open a back door and let me in. Their security is insane."

"And you think I'm gonna manage to get past Gil and McKay and just magically let you in." Yeah. It sounded kind of stupid.

"I actually think it's going to take a few days," John admitted. "I mean, first thing Grissom's probably going to want to do with you is uh." Fuck him. Fuck him raw, maybe, because vampires were damn near insatiable. John knew more about that than he wanted to think about.

The kid was looking at him, and the knowledge was stamped on his face. John almost felt bad about it.


Mostly, he couldn't do anything but want to kill McKay.

Kill Rodney.

Drive a stake through his heart, pour lighter fluid over every inch of him and toss a match. It was for humanity, and it was personal, all at the same time. It was going to be a good deal for the whole world.

"So, uh. I mean, so you know. I don't want to send you in there blind."

"Just stupid. This is nothing but suicidal." He didn't look at John. His fingers were crumbling the cracker into little jumbles of cardboard guaranteed to fuck up the pit of a man's belly. "And you can't do it so you're looking at me. And you think maybe my life's not worth it to me anymore." Greg sounded quiet, not quite on the verge of breaking, but not steady, either. "You know, my mom wouldn't even let me roller skate when I was a kid. She, uh. She took me to the ER if I ever got a nosebleed." He took a deep breath. "Maybe. Maybe you're right."

"We don't have much else left to try." John folded his arms. "My group, my people... they're back out in the desert, working on plans. It's going nowhere, no resources, nothing but desperate hope."

"Nothing but me." At least he saw things pretty clearly. There was that. "Okay. I'll do it. Just." He shook his head. "Just stop with the saving the world bullshit. Go ahead and call it what it is. Tell me what your plan is, start to finish."

"Well, the short version is that I plan the save the world by killing McKay. You can't ... vampire chronicles bite and drain and whatever and you've turned someone. It takes some chemical reactions that we only had back in Pegasus Galaxy. McKay's engineering it all for them, because that's what he does. He dies, the whole thing falls apart and we at least don't have an ever expanding population of them to handle."

Just Grissom, and the little cadre of nippers Rodney had built from the ground up there in Vegas. That was bad enough, wasn't it?

"I want the long version. Then we'll see."

"Right. Just promise not to eat the cracker, okay?"

Twenty hours straight in a chem lab made Rodney hungry.

It also made him stiff and pissy and generally not very pleasant to be around, actually, and the fact that he could admit that was a sign that things had likely gotten very bad.

It didn't help that he'd bitten the last of the street trash that they kept around for food a little too hard and now they were one short. Vampirism had always sounded slick and erotic in the admittedly trashy novels he'd read as a teenager. It had never presented itself as worrying that playing with the food a bit too much might result in finding a clean source of warm nourishment negated.


Clean being relative, of course.

But warm, yes, and he needed to find another bit of personal street trash. It could eat Twinkies and MREs and chips and hamburgers and anything it wanted, as long as Rodney had something to savor when he was hungry. He tried hard not to do that, because... well, because.

He'd had a personal fondness for bland, and humans were... less than bland, actually, or maybe specifically more than bland in that they were actually sort of spicy in a strange and awkward way. He had difficulties with the notion of human blood, although his immediate subordinates (and that was a less than reliable description for people who were not so stupid that it hurt him to think about it, but much shorter, at least) assured him that human blood was vitally necessary.

Rodney had to admit that the nutrients that were necessary came much more easily from humans. Pigs only fulfilled roughly half as much of what they needed for some reason.

They hadn't figured out that part yet.

It was the reason he'd come to Earth, and all right, so he'd had to commit to his plans for world domination much earlier than he'd ever considered actually putting them into place, but it was better that than stay in Pegasus and let Atlantis keep searching for him.

They still were, of course. They couldn't actually get to him nearly as easily now. They'd try, and wasn't that a horrifying thought? That Atlantis, land of misfits and losers, was going to be one of the last strongholds for Earth humans? But he'd come and set up shop on their planet, in one of their cities, and instead of putting up the grand fight he'd hoped for... They'd scattered.

Of course, it made it harder for him to find them, so it did cut both ways. Still. He had brilliance on his side, and he'd always had a very fine-tuned sense of self-preservation, so if that meant having Samantha Carter for dinner one night -- literally -- he certainly wasn't opposed.

"You know, if you keep getting snappish and finishing them off unexpectedly, it's going to become even more difficult to get good help."

Ah, yes. Speaking of brilliance.

"I know that. I just... I was hungry. And I'm much too important to worry about whether or not my meal agrees with me before I finish it off." Or something like that. Dear God, he sounded too much like a Wraith queen for comfort. All he needed was to begin hissing randomly, and flashing his fingernails in a bad impression of Eartha Kitt.

"And if everyone did that, where would we be?" Grocery shopping in L.A.

"What have you been up to?" Gil Grissom wasn't just brilliant. He'd been seriously considered for the Atlantis expedition once they'd realized that entomology was something they needed to study in a much more serious way. It had been decided that he wouldn't give up his job in Vegas, and in the end, that was for the best. The plague that had overtaken Pegasus, created the creature Rodney was now, it was entomological as well. He was sure of it.

That was probably why Grissom had been so willing to be turned.

"Research. Same as you." Gil quirked an eyebrow at him and it neatly told him that he knew Rodney would want to read anything he came up with even though he was hungry and tired.

"Well?" Impatience was more intense now, and he snapped his fingers demandingly. At this point, it was frankly miraculous that he didn't stomp his foot as well. He was at least aware enough of how irrationally tired and hyped up he already was, and he managed to refrain.


There was a faint brow furrow, and Gil gestured for Rodney to follow him. "You might as well drink off of mine, because you're not going to be able to think clearly until you do. This is our worst limitation, you are aware."

"Yes, yes, and I'm trying to address it, but there's this problem where I am, oh, an astrophysicist and an engineer. I left my geneticists in my other pocket, how about yours?"

Probably not the right thing to say, considering.

"MIA." Gil's voice was a little clipped. Yeah, that was his city and his people that they were eating, that they were ruling over. "We'll overcome it. But you should eat first."

Yes, he definitely should, and the skinny blonde lurking in the shadows behind Grissom was just enough to catch his attention. Not much more than that, though Rodney had long since discovered that it was much easier to hide an interest in tall broad-shouldered brunettes if he was loud about his adoration of dumb blondes.

He didn't even want to drink off of Grissom's food, because it was blonde and he wanted brunette, and that was a seriously whiny train of thought to be having, proof in and of itself that he was shaky from hunger. The color of his food had never bothered him; just the probable content.

She came forward, hollow-eyed and willing, and tilted her head back to reveal the bruised and marked line of her neck. That wasn't what he wanted. There were other bites there, and while it had never been shown that vampires could actually contract infections, Rodney saw no reason to take the chance. Instead of taking what she offered, he reached for her wrist and pulled it to his mouth to bite.

The taste when it hit his tongue was crisp and sweet, vaguely tasting of apples. It was unexpected considering the look of her, but Rodney liked it, and sucked hard and steady. It tasted nothing of blood or spices at all, a deep satisfying feeling as he swallowed, let his eyes close while he concentrated on the sweet taste. Gil was somewhere behind him, possibly supporting his meal. Rodney didn't much care. He'd make sure Rodney didn't polish it off the way he'd done the one earlier -- breakfast? Like Rodney could remember.

It was best if Gil watched out for their food. Rodney wasn't in the mood for kindness, and that was the understatement of the year. He'd heard rumors, unpleasant words that implied someone was coming, and it was probably someone he knew.

If he was honest with himself, it was almost certainly John.

He knew it was coming, but he didn't want to waste time anticipating it. John had no idea how outclassed he was, and Rodney wasn't going to fret that he hadn't outclassed John. It was ... depressing that it had come to that.

"Rodney. That's enough."

Enough, but god. It was amazingly good in a way that made Rodney's mouth water. She pulled away and he whined, but Gil was there, gently shifting her away and lifting Rodney out of his stupor. "You've had enough for now."

"No such thing as enough," Rodney mumbled, the fruit-sweet taste of her still on his tongue. Then again, there probably was. Gluttony made him stuporous, and if John was coming, stuporous wasn't a good idea.

He needed to be alert and careful until John did arrive. "Yes, there is." Gil probably had the exact optimum amount worked out per body weight or strength or something. He pulled at Rodney. "Lie down and I'll explain what I did today."


Bed time stories.

Rodney could live with that.

Sometimes Gil wondered why he'd made the decision to take Dr. Rodney McKay up on his offer. He'd been satisfied with his life, more or less. He'd been settled in his ways and entirely pleased with his world the way it was. There was something to be said for that, of course.

It was unfortunate that his curiosity had always gotten the best of him, one way or another.

He was different now. Everything was sharper, more vibrant, so much easier to see and perceive. His hearing was amazing, which was ironic. It had been... a good choice, one that he didn't particularly regret, because he was able to do a lot to mitigate the circumstances. He was able to temper McKay, to a degree. It didn't stop him from having his regrets, from wishing he'd made different choices, or at least protected the people who mattered most.

In the end, it had been easy to let Nick go back to Texas, to ignore it when Sara left Vegas. He'd been moderately sorrowful when Warrick and Catherine had disappeared. They had probably run for it and made it out under his detection, and he was proud of them for that, because he couldn't imagine them dead. Not them, not if they were together. Not with Lindsey with them.

He had managed to keep an eye on Greg. He'd worked hard to make sure that he wasn't stalked down and sucked dry. He was the only one left.

Sometimes Gil disliked what he'd become.

It wasn't anything he had ever intended. All he had ever wanted was to learn and to be, to find solace in knowledge. For a time, he'd thought he'd found it in Sara. It was a relationship that was more acceptable than the one he'd had before, and so he'd abandoned that. He'd abandoned Greg, and Gil thought that was worse than his choice to embrace the offer McKay had made.

If the one decision hadn't been made, his second one wouldn't have come so easily, Gil knew. He did have to admit to the depth of opportunity he had, for research, for learning, for...

"Mister Grissom." No phone calls, no intercom, just a quiet knock on his door.

"Yes?" He looked up over the edge of glasses he didn't need, plain lenses that he kept now out of pure habit.

"There's someone downstairs to see you. You have his name on your list."

It was a short list, and most of them had it. People who they wanted to see again, people they'd take in or turn if they had the opportunity. It was most often family and loved ones, and the people in their building tended to respect those lists.

Gil stood up from his desk. "Who?"

"He said his name was Gregor. That you would be willing to see him." The concierge was deliciously polite, decorous in the way he waited. If it were someone on Gil's list, he'd be escorted upstairs with all possible pomp and ceremony.

It was a good thing for Greg that he wasn't going to be leaving the Bellagio the other way.

"Bring him up." Greg should have been relatively safe in his alleys, not there, not seeing him. What could possibly induce him to come all this way looking for Gil?

He pondered the answer to that question while he waited for the concierge to bring Greg to him. He was probably desperate, and Gil knew he was near starving. Greg had never been much beyond thin, all slim hips and capable hands, hope and innocence and a yearning for fun. He could only imagine what the last several months had been like, and he wasn't sure he wanted to take a good look at Greg.

What was he supposed to do? Apologize, maybe, but it wasn't worth a damn. He could feed him, but then the urge to feed from him would be irresistible. Greg had always been irresistible, in his way.

It was the reason he'd given in to him, and the same reason that he'd moved on to Sara. Knowing that Greg was impossible to say no to was... disturbing, somehow. Things with Sara had been easier for a time, and then not so easy, and then there had been McKay.

A very different story indeed.

The door opened and Gil glanced up, trying to appear half-curious, still captured by the papers scattered across his desk. It wasn't easy, not when Greg still looked... Well.

Like Greg. Like Greg if he was one of those hookers whose bodies they'd carefully gone when they were found murdered horribly. There was still that look in his eyes, though, and yes, he had made some horrible decisions. "Greg. I didn't expect to see you here."

He wasn't sure what he had expected. Not this, though, he was pretty sure. Not Greg moving forward, all slinky hips, skinny legs, dark eyes that had seen more now than they ever had before. It almost hurt. "I didn't expect you'd see me here, either."

"Why would I turn you away?" He set his pen down, tilted his head, because Greg was, Greg was enticing, Greg was amazing to watch move. Even now, half-starving, he was long and lean and he wiggled in ways that had always left Gil feeling appreciative.

"Same reason I never thought I'd show up here. Different lives, new Vegas." Greg shrugged, and Gil felt a flood of saliva hit his tongue, hot and bitter, felt the prick of fangs lowering. "I'm not one of your investigators anymore. I'm just a whore."

"You're still Greg." He couldn't deny that, because he knew, he knew what Greg did for food, for clothes, for a little shelter. He had gone down to see for himself once or twice, watched from the shadows while someone he'd paid fucked Greg so that he could watch it.

No matter what, he was still Greg, and Gil's Greg, at that.

Pink tongue darted out; nervously moistened chapped lips as if that would help somehow. "I hear you're looking for a DNA expert."

"Now where did you hear that?" It was true, but that was something he'd been feeding out in quiet tendrils, working through quietly. There had to be someone, somewhere out there who was receptive to being turned.

Someone not Greg.

He shrugged, and even his shoulders seemed thinner, bony underneath ragged, dirty cotton. "Same way snitches used to hear things before. I listen. People don't expect the guy sucking their dick to have a brain."

Gil never expected Greg to come forward. Not on his own, which led to very unpleasant conclusions. That perhaps he should have made the offer to Greg, open and sooner, that perhaps he was willing to become one of them after all. "There are only two ways you can stay here, Greg."

That perhaps there was a lot more to this than there seemed to be, and Gil sincerely hoped it was the former.

He watched as Greg straightened. The door was within reach, but they both knew that running was useless. It didn't seem to stop the fight-or-flight reaction, but knowledge rarely did. "So what's the other one?"

"To simplify the food chain, you can eat or be eaten." He lifted his chin, watching Greg's face, trying to read past the fear. That was normal. Being afraid was a sign of intelligence as much as anything else, and Greg was frighteningly intelligent even on a bad day.

"Whoring of a slightly different kind." There was something, something... But it wouldn't matter. Not in the long run, no matter what Greg thought. "Well," he said finally. "It isn't like it'll be the first time."

"Greg, I..." He what? He, he something. He felt something, a murky mixture of regrets. "I'm sorry I couldn't do more for you." Regret was something that didn't seem to come hardwired into what he was now, not nearly so much as what he had been.

There came that indifferent shrug again, and it made him want to... to do things, things he hadn't wanted to do to Greg before. Then again, possessiveness was hardwired. "It doesn't matter now. Another month of this and I'll be dead. Some people'd probably say coming here to you and.... agreeing.... to this is a different kind of dead." He grinned, then, a ghastly parody of the way he used to beam at Gil, all excitement and joy. "I say as long as you're alive, there's some kind of hope. Right?"

"That depends which choice you're agreeing to," Gil pointed out quietly.

"If it's all the same to you, I'd like to hang on to living for a little while. So long as you've got iron supplements or liver or something..." Gil could almost hear him gag at the thought.

"It's... not really that bad, Greg. Why don't you sit down?" He stood up, moved to check that the door was closed and closed, so they had privacy. He'd want that. He was already hard, and Greg hadn't even sworn himself to Gil's service yet.


He saw the shudder that rippled through Greg when the door latched properly, but he sat all the same, skin and bones, dirty hair and smudged skin, and Gil wanted him, even now. Even like that.

"When did you last eat?" He could start there with the solicitous things that were also very important. If Greg didn't eat, he wasn't able to serve as food.

"Somebody gave me some canned pasta earlier today, and a couple crackers."

Not enough to matter, then, or to make any difference. No, it wouldn't be enough for Greg to withstand what Gil wanted.

Gil shook his head slightly. "I'll take you up to my rooms. You should wash up, and I'll have some food brought up for you."

"And then, what? You fuck me? Or does it not work that way anymore?" Gil couldn't be sure whether the sarcasm was pointed at Greg or himself. Either way, it should be discouraged.

"No, it..." Gil closed one hand in a fist, flexed his fingers. "No."


He could see the exhaustion in Greg, the vague defiance, the desire to be anywhere but where he was, and the realization that he'd gone as far as he could go without dying. Dark lashes swept down, hiding the desperation in those eyes, ones Gil remembered as teasing and fun and everything but what he saw now.


"I don't want to... do that to you. I want you. I miss you. But I don't want to take and take..." And take more than blood, more than nourishment. He wanted what Greg had given him once, even if he had turned it away. He wanted it freely.

Gil didn't think Greg would offer it to him again.

"That's what you are now, though. Right?"

"What?" Gill moved closer to Greg, close enough to smell his blood, close enough to sense his heartbeat running too fast. Even under the filth, he smelled like Greg. A certain tang and warmth and a hint of something, something...

"That's what vampires do. Take."

"We're not vampires." Gil crossed his arms over his chest, holding back his hand. "When I was human, I took food, the same as I do now."

"But you didn't take over Vegas." He watched as Greg shook himself, taking a deep breath. "I. Never mind. I don't mean it. I'm.... I'm tired."

"It isn't something that can be stopped," Gil said quietly. "You're tired and you're hungry, Greg. Rest. Come with me and rest."

Greg reached up, and laid his dirty-knuckled fingers in Gil's open palm. "All right."

It was inevitable that Greg would come to him, after all. Gil was only glad that the time had finally arrived.

"Just to sleep," Gil reiterated, helping Greg stand. "And eat. And rest. We can argue later." They would argue later, because Greg would want to know why he had made the choice he had, and he would want to justify himself. In the end, though, it would all come out the way that Gil wanted it to.

That was the way things happened, now.

Greg would get used to it.

Two hours later, Greg was clean, fed for the second time in one day, and feeling ridiculously lethargic, satiated in ways he hadn't felt in so long he couldn't even begin to remember when the last time might have been.

Actually, he did remember the last time, at least the last time with Gil. It hadn't been anyplace like the Bellagio, that was for sure. The room he was in now wasn't quite the penthouse, but it probably hadn't cost much less back when people actually rented these rooms.

Now it was like some bizarre sprawling office complex that merged in spots into a frat house. At least, that was what Greg thought of. The lower levels were more cluttered feeling, less well tended, but it was all well tended compared to the best situation any 'independent' humans were in.

Gil hadn't made a single move at him.

That was unexpected. Not because of the things Sheppard had said, but because of the things Greg had seen. Vampires were... They wanted things. And what they wanted, they took without ever asking if whatever (or whoever) they wanted was willing.

He should have known Gil would be different.

Gil was off in a side room, working, Greg guessed. Or beating off in a bathroom that had a huge TV in the middle of it, but that didn't seem like something the Gil he'd known would have done.

He was allowed one huge bed, clean clothes that might have fit him a year previous, and more food than he seriously knew what to do with. Dying might be worth it, just for the food, and that made Greg work very hard not to laugh. Gil had to know how amazing it was. He'd probably had all of it sent through so that Greg would know what he had waiting for him.

What he had waiting for him was Gil. Gil was... Things were different now, but he looked so very much like the man Greg remembered. It made his fingers itch to touch; made him want things he shouldn't want. This idea of Sheppard's? It was a bad one. Greg made for a sucky spy, especially since all he could find in the pit of his belly was a sick, twisted relief that Gil wanted him again. It made him feel pretty disgusted with himself.

Gil had turned his back on him, turned away from Greg and everything that they'd been, for Sara. Greg tried not to think about it, tried not to think about everything it had meant that Gil had done that, because Gil had never explained why. He'd ... done it. And Greg had let him because he didn't know what else to do. Say no? Tell him he couldn't leave? It wasn't like it would have made any difference, one way or another. Instead, he'd gone on. Pretended like it hadn't meant anything, flirted with everybody who crossed his path, like always.

He wondered sometimes, though. If he had said something, if he had done anything except accept it, would it have made a difference? Would they still be standing in a Bellagio suite with Gil watching him, bright eyes gleaming and the faintest touch of teeth visible?

"I thought you were resting," Gil remarked quietly. He was holding onto a plate, which was not what Greg had been expecting. More food. He was going to not-starve, and it felt very gingerbread house, actually. Unreal, like the dollhouse Isoäiti had always kept for them to play with at Christmas.

"I, uh, I've been a little paranoid for a while now. Hard to switch it off."

"I know. It must be like living in the middle of a horror movie. Someone tried to stake me last month." Tried and failed, apparently, but yeah. If Greg was a good human, an upstanding version of his species, he should have done that.

He didn't think he ever could.

Gil looked different now -- paler, thinner through the cheeks. He watched Greg differently now, too, his eyes full of a lust that couldn't be hidden, where before that was all it ever was.

"I figured that was probably an old wives' tale. I also figured you guys wouldn't be too interested in letting people know what might really work."

"This... what I am now, Greg. It's not of this planet. It's part of something bigger, something that is spreading through this universe. I'd like for you to accept my other offer, some time. Until then, I want you to stay here in my quarters. No one touches something that's mine but McKay. However, he's not careful with his meals. Not reliably."

Just thinking about it made Greg swallow. Yeah. He'd bet McKay wasn't careful about much of anything. "Okay." Okay, even if he was betting that made him more of a whore than a DNA expert. He was starting to wonder if Sheppard's lead wasn't a line tossed out to see if Grissom could net him.

"The second bedroom is more of a laboratory than an office. Do you feel awake enough to see what you'll be dealing with?" Brains and body, well, at least Grissom wanted him for both.

There were worse things.

"You know how much I like state of the art," Greg said, getting up from the bed. Gil still had the plate, but he put it down, and it was mostly stuff that would be okay if they left it there, breads and things that probably wouldn't upset his stomach. "Show me your lab."

"Some of it's going to look familiar. Some of it came from the FBI lab." Gil led the way, weaving through bits and pieces of opulent furniture as if it were twigs to be brushed past. There was a sofa there that Greg was pretty sure he could live happily on for the rest of his life.

Come to think of it, he probably would, one way or another.

The door into the lab obviously hadn't been part of the suite originally. It was sealed, to start with, and whatever made it open seemed to be triggered by Gil specifically, at a guess. That was a curiosity that would have driven Greg nuts a couple of years ago. Now, he wondered how deep a hole he'd managed to dig. "Nice."

Gil lingered in the doorway, and ushered Greg in. "It's secure. The technology is McKay's doing. It's amazing, and to a degree, organic. He's always working on something." There were pieces of his lab on smooth wide tables, old equipment made new again.

The wild swell of excitement in his chest was almost sickening. It wasn't like he should be excited by any of it. This should be the kind of thing he wanted to fuck up, not use. "Wow. This is..." Incredible. Amazing. He felt guilty for liking it so much, all bright stainless steel and glowing lights in soft blues and greens.

It was comfortable. It felt like coming home, and it shouldn't have felt like it, not to Greg. "Yours to work in," Gil said quietly. "It's a safe place for you to do it."

Safe was relative, Greg figured. Being Gil's whore and food source was probably a lot safer than whoring in an alleyway. Okay, make that definitely. If Greg was honest with himself, he'd have to admit that seeing Gil, seeing what he'd become, was... it wasn't as hard as he would have thought. Gil was still Gil, and that should have been more disturbing than it was.

"You want to tell me what I'll be doing?"

"Words can't describe it." Gil lifted his eyebrows slightly at Greg, mouth tilted slightly in a vague smile. "It's a multipart project. Right now we're limited by the sun's effects, to a certain degree, and preference of food source. This is all genetic, and nutritionally, we could drink pig blood and we'd be just fine physically."

"But." But pigs obviously didn't taste as good as humans, at a guess. "You want me to, what? Work on making it appetizing?"

"I'm working on narrowing down what sequence exactly makes human blood the most appetizing. And when I say appetizing, it... It's the difference between eating banana peels and a gourmet meal. I can smell you, Greg. You smell like heat and cinnamon, like fresh toast."

Gil sounded like porn, but there was nothing new about that. Greg had always thought that he sounded like porn. "Well. That's, uh..."

"Probably disgusting, I know. And given that McKay would like to turn everyone, we'd lose humans as a food source. So... pigs and chickens and reintroducing the nutrients in vegetables."

Christ. Greg's stomach churned, and he drew in a deep, shuddery breath. "Well. Great. A world full of vampires. What... what's the scientific rational for that, anyway?"

"New evolutionary step. And that it's hell when your food shoots back. In terms of long-term sustainment, Greg, the horror movie setup can't last."

It was all he could do not to laugh. Hysteria, maybe, probably. Almost certainly. "You don't think turning the whole world's horror movie setup enough?" he asked, and he wanted Gil to give him a better answer. He wanted Gil to hold him, and not the Gil that thought he smelled like fucking toast, and he hated that.

Toast. Seriously, what the hell?

"It's not... that different from being human. Better senses. Faster thought. Faster everything." Gil did step closer, putting a hand on Greg's arm. "I'm not exactly cold to the touch. I'm not the dead brought back to life."

"No. You're the kind of guy who takes over the world now instead of the kind of guy who saves it."

"We could all be enslaved. They had planned to drain this world of everything. Strip it bare; move on to the next one. This is... the best we could manage."

Greg looked up at him, feeling hollow and thin and tired. The fact that he smelled like toast now made him wonder how he'd smell when he wasn't sick and exhausted and starving. "I guess I'd hate to see what it'd be like if that's so."

"I would, too." Gil didn't look happy, and his mouth pressed into a thin line. "I'm sorry. I don't think I can justify myself to you well enough."

He probably could have if... Greg decided not to think about it. "Yeah. Me, either. But it, um. It's not like it matters. After all." There he was, in Gil's lair, and he was there to be DNA and toast, apparently.

"I made... a lot of mistakes where you were concerned," Gil offered, and he was looking at the equipment in the lab and not at Greg. "I shouldn't have left you."

That was good to hear, even if it was a little late. "Why?" Greg thought he deserved that much. Maybe he should have asked before Gil went all Dark Shadows on him, but he guessed it was better late than never. Even then, he knew what the answer was. He kind of needed to hear it.

"I still love you. I was trying..." Gil rolled his shoulders. "To do what was expected. I'm not sure."

"I guess it was just that easy, then. Getting rid of me." So easy he hadn't explained anything at all. Just one day he'd been there and the next day he wasn't. It wasn't like they'd made promises, so Gil wasn't being an asshole. "I'm sorry you're kind of stuck with me now. Not sure where else you'd get a DNA guy."

"No, it. It wasn't easy and I didn't want to, and I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Greg." Gil repeated it, and he'd apologized a couple of times. "It was a stupid mistake, and then I didn't know how to undo it."

There wasn't a lot to say about it, wasn't anything to change anymore. He shook his head and turned, leaving the lab behind him and heading for the plate Gil had left in the bedroom.

He expected Gil to stand there, linger and probably wonder what he'd said wrong. Maybe Sheppard's plan had been horrible all along. There was no way that Gil was glad to see him, not when things were so fucked up and all they could do was quibble about things that were fucked up. Things couldn't be fixed, especially when he was pretty much the equivalent of a breakfast burrito these days.

"I'll do it," he said, fingers closing around a cracker, a better one than that scary shit Sheppard had handed him. "Whatever it is you need. I'll do it."

"Research. I need you to do research for me. And...." And food, of course. He was going to serve as Gil's food source, personal and private, which was probably better than doing the fondue-bowl thing and passing someone around.

Gil's hands closed on Greg's shoulder, and Greg worked hard not to shudder. The touch was light, but it wasn't human. It wasn't right. "Okay." Okay, because that was part of what he was there for, right?

"Let me..." Gil hesitated. "If you want to. If you're comfortable."

"And if I say no?"

"Then I won't." Gil at least wasn't a liar. Greg knew that much. He might not say a lot, but he didn't outright lie.

The breath he drew in was soft, shaky. "Okay."

"Okay in general, or...?"

"Okay. You can... you can. If you want. If you're..." Hungry.

He had to be hungry. It was the nature of the creature, even if Gil said they were different. They were still hungry things, beasts in people's skins, and Greg needed to keep that in mind of he knew he'd fall for it.

"A little."

"Then if you want. You can." That was part of what he was there for, right? For eating and fucking and working in Gil's lab. It'd be kind of like old times, except for the part where he was working with Sheppard and he was gonna kill Gil by the time it was all over.

Gil was looking at him, and the want was so obviously there, a sense of need that radiated off of Gil. "I want to. But you need to rest more. Let's head for the bedroom..."

Yeah, that was an oxymoron in action. Rest plus bedroom somehow didn't actually make a lot of sense when Grissom the Vampire was talking. Still, Greg kept munching on his cracker and went in the direction Gil indicated. At least he'd gotten a chance to wash up, even if it had been kind of worrying to look at himself under good light for the first time in a long time.

He looked like hell. He looked, actually, like one of those homeless people who'd populated the strip in the old days, back before everyone was basically turned into food or one of them. They were lucky if they didn't go half mad on top of it all. It had to be the toast thing, he figured, because he damn sure wasn't attractive at the moment. That was the understatement of the year. He was...

Greg decided not to think about it. Gil was herding him, strangely gentle, and he let him. He let Gil pull back the covers and tuck him in, let Gil settle down beside him without protest. "So. Um."

"I want to," Gil reiterated quietly. "I've missed you. But this can be as soothing as it can be excitable." There was a pinprick gleam of visible teeth against Gil's bottom lip.

Excitable. Oh, God. Sudden panic was one way to look at it, but Greg managed to catch his breath, barely. "I think it'd be better if I didn't think about it." No. No thinking about it. Just closing his eyes. That was better.

"You'll be surprised. No one is kept chained and restrained here. It feels... Amazing." Gil always did have the power of understatement, but Greg wasn't sure he could believe it. Not believing didn't stop Gil from leaning slowly in towards his neck.

He shivered, held his breath. He was sure, sure, sure that this was going to be wrong, going to be bad, going to be terrifying. He could feel warm, moist breath against his skin, and then pressure, not a pinprick so much as a sensation like cat claws unfurling into his skin. Greg let out a whimper, unable to stop it, his entire body going tense and then loosening, slow and easy as if it wasn't bothering him at all. It was. Gil was....

He let out a sigh, and that was all.

Greg's body was limp and loose on the mattress, easy to tuck away beneath sheets. Gil added a few more pillows, tried to arrange Greg's posture into one he knew Greg was comfortable sleeping in. A little food and the frustration he'd been feeling had eased away.

He looked tired. Exhausted. It was worth it to Gil to put him to sleep that way, a light, easy bite. Sometimes, it worked like that. Most times, actually. The first bite made them sleepy, the second bite... Well. That was for later, when Greg actually felt up to it instead of offering for whatever reasons he had.

That would come in time, Gil knew.

With Greg tucked away like that, it was easy to leave him there while Gil went in search of McKay to see what sort of mood he was in. At a guess, that mood would be biting, whether it was hunger-induced or a sarcastic snap. Either way, it didn't bother Gil. McKay was like that, and so long as someone made sure to feed him regularly, he was fine.

It was when he got peckish that he was a regular bastard.

It was usually McKay's own doing that led to that state, too -- too much work, too much frustration, not enough down time. It was hard to think about down time as a vampire-creature, but it seemed that they, too, needed rest. And recreation.

Definitely recreation.

"Out! Out! For God's sake, get out before I make you regret it!"

McKay needed to get out more. Go swimming, take the occasional nap, something that didn't involve working twenty-eight hours at a stretch. He also needed a regular source of food that wouldn't be afraid to make him stop and take a break. His personal preference for a source of food was probably a good third of his problem from the start. Vampires, Gil supposed, were already picky enough when it came to nutrition. Hair color shouldn't have mattered.

Gil moved to hover by the door, knowing it would open before he could knock. The frantic scrabbling was no surprise; especially when the door flung open and a redhead came tumbling out. He wondered what it was that gave McKay his almost obsessive interest in brunettes, and his equally perverse insistence on halfway avoiding them.


Gil nodded at the man as he stumbled into the hallway, and moved to catch the door before McKay could kick it shut.

"You again." Rodney scowled at him, watching dinner scrabble away down the hall. One day, Gil knew he was going to run half of the blood pool into going the way of alley whoring. "What? I thought you were off seeking a geneticist or a DNA specialist."

"I have one. That's what I came to tell you. My DNA specialist from the lab days turned himself in to me." Not without feeling intimidated and scared and angry, but he was there. It was a start, a good one. No matter what look McKay was giving him.

"I thought he was whoring down off of Casino Central."

"He was also starving down off of Casino Central." Gil shrugged his shoulders. At its base, it was a simple transaction -- food for the food. But Greg would do so much more. It would take a little time and some persuasion.

Gil could do persuasion.

Rodney's lips pressed together, slanting a little as he watched Gil. He seemed to be considering the probability that Greg might still be a viable source of assistance, never mind all of the other things Gil wanted him for. "And is he good enough?"

"He is. He's no Carson Beckett, from what you've said about the man, but he'll grasp the work and build on it." That was what intelligence was for, and Gil knew that Rodney understood that. Greg was good. He would manage.

The mention of Beckett seemed to bother McKay, though. "No one. No one is ever going to be Carson." Never mind all of Rodney's mumbles about sheep shaggers, or shearers, or whatever. "Well. If you'll vouch for him. And if you'll watch him."

"I'll watch him. I've put him to sleep for a while, and he's in my rooms." Gil looked at McKay, tried to gauge what state of agitation he was at. "Did you actually eat any of your food or were you playing with it again?"

Rodney waved a hand dismissively. "Whatever. Look, it's good you have someone, even if he's a whore in his spare time. Who cares? I think I've got a lead on this thing."

"Which thing?" Rodney had a tendency to be involved in too many things at once. "I did mean the eating question."

"Yes, yes, we'll get to that, but right now I think I've got an idea as to the basic building blocks of this. Of us. Of what we are." McKay stressed it as if Gil wasn't bright enough to figure out exactly what he meant. Definitely a sign that he'd been too busy to eat. For a man who blathered on about hypoglycemia even now that he wasn't human anymore, it was a bit ridiculous.

"You need to eat. When did you last?"

"Not important!" McKay reminded him, irritated. "Are you listening?"

"Yes. Yes. I am listening, McKay." Gil reached out, put a hand on Rodney's shoulder. "I'm listening. And while I'm sure you have made a breakthrough, you still need to eat if you don't want to look at your notes in five hours and wonder what you were thinking."

Rodney's problem, Gil thought, was purely aesthetic. He wanted one kind of food, it was hard to find, and he wouldn't make do with what was available. How many A+ spiky-haired brunettes could there be in the world? "But... I want..."

"You want to read your notes and you need to eat," Gil reiterated. "I'll send someone out looking for someone more to your type in the morning."

The way Rodney pulled his face and turned away said it all. He was never embarrassed about anything, but this was something else altogether. He would never address his issues, whatever they were.

Gil wondered how much he had loved whoever it was.

"Fine, fine, no blonds."

"No blonds. Can you... I'll get you someone else for the moment." Gil offered it, but he lingered. Just in case.

"I really hate you," McKay grumbled, but he came along. It was a daily ritual with them, one that they followed almost inevitably. The man was brilliant and stubborn and completely ridiculous.

Sometimes Gil wondered what would have happened if he hadn't been there, what would have happened if he weren't there to support and drag McKay through the necessities. Perhaps he was only feeding the man's need for drama. "No you don't."

"Okay. I don't. But you swear you're going to get your whore on this? First thing?"

"The project? Yes. Yes, as soon as he wakes up. Your food source, now, someone else will take care of." He patted Rodney's shoulder, walking him towards the common room. There was always someone from the pool there, and the blondes had at least stopped coming for the most part. Even the stupid ones seemed to have realized it was a bad idea.

"And you're sure he hasn't smoked his brain out on some sort of alley-crack?"

Gil was going to kill him. One day, he was going to forget that McKay was brilliant, was all that was keeping Earth from an invasion of creatures much hungrier than either of them. He was going to forget that he needed to figure things out before he reached right out and....

"Yes. I've kept tabs on him. He's clean, he's sane." Bitter and angry, too, but that would fade with time, Gil hoped. "I was waiting for him to come here willingly."

"Oh. Well." Rodney blinked at him. "Huh. You know, I really do think I'm hungry."

"I need to arm you with some kind of blood monitor." Gil patted his shoulder and opened the door to the commons. "After you."

"You're sure your guy's going to be okay for this? I mean, you already admitted he's no Carson," Rodney grumbled, pushing in ahead of him and eyeballing the bloodstock. "You. Come here."

Redhead again, though not the one he'd chased off. Apparently he preferred redheads to blonds, but it... didn't matter, because Gil knew what Rodney preferred. "Have a good night, McKay."

Rodney waved him off, already reaching out and making sounds that even Gil had to grimace about. Some day he was going to absolutely savage one of them, take their head off at the neck. Right off. They'd do damage control for weeks afterwards. But Gil let him walk into the place, and he was strong enough to pull him back if necessary. He hoped. Maybe someday soon they'd run across whoever it was McKay was so pissed off with that he avoided eating and still only wanted to munch on that same specific type.

Jack O'Neill was a serious pain in his ass.

First off, he was crazy. John had always known he was a fucking nut, but some days pretending that the guy made any sense was impossible. Now that Rodney had decided to take over the world, he made even less.

Especially the part where he was still convinced that McKay was incapable of taking over the world.

"Sheppard, this is proof positive that you've gone off your nut. You know that, right?" O'Neill was unbearable when he was in that mood, like King Arthur at his under populated round table. It probably didn't help that Jackson was dead.


"What I know is that this whole thing you've got going on isn't gonna be anything that'll work against McKay, General." John could feel the tension rising, pounding in his temples. "It's like the last time we were Earthside. You keep expecting all of us to be fuckups, and we're not those people anymore. McKay's not some guy Carter gets to springboard off of anymore." He was a whole different kind of dangerous now.

"And if he's really that dangerous, Sheppard, you think you can go up there and stake him and it'll all be over?" Jack was probably secretly planning to nuke the city. That was doubtless his real plan, if he had any brains left.

"What I think is that I try this before you drop a bomb on the entire city. You didn't see them when they came into Pegasus. You didn't see 'em when they hit Atlantis. McKay's not shit compared to them, and you can't even handle him!"

"Yes, I know this, and that is why I'm going to approach the situation with a tactical nuke, and not a sharpened piece of wood, Sheppard!"

"Let me repeat observation number one. Entire city plus nuke does not equal happy ending. Christ!" It was all John could do not to explode then and there. "McKay's expecting you to nuke Vegas, General. What he's not expecting is for me to show up and sever his head from his neck."

"Just how do you plan on doing that?" O'Neill had that strained, frustrated tone that John had always hated. "Look, you go up there and one of two things is going to happen." He held up a hand, two fingers extended, and Jack ticked each finger off as he talked. "One, you get there and you kill him and his second in command steps up to bat like a damn hydra, or two, you get up there and he either kills you or turns you into one of them."

"I've already got somebody to take care of his second in command." John wasn't going to tell him that it was a whore. That wasn't any of his business, because the kid was smart, and he'd been somebody else before all of this, like the rest of them. Just like John. "And we'll have time to steal his research. He hasn't made so many that we can't at least get that out to you before the ones left behind get to us."

Jack looked at him, then tilted his head in a wobbling side to side motion that John took for a shrug. "Fine, sure. It's not like anything I say is going to make you change your mind. But if he turns you, I swear to god I'll nuke the city."

"If he turns me, you'll have that right." He wasn't going to, though. Things weren't good between them at the last, and Rodney wouldn't want John as an inside man for any operation. "I'll need somebody ready for the transmission when the time comes." He knew better than to think O'Neill would send anybody along with him.

"We'll be ready. You signal it somehow, we'll take it." Jack tilted his head. "So go with it. I just hope it goes according to plan. You've got a really big knife for this, right?"

Christ. "Yeah." It had been Ronon's, before they came, and it had made its way to Earth with John. "I've got one." He looked across at O'Neill and finally saluted, slow and probably a little insulting. "Sir."

"Good man. I know I don't like to take on a vampire version of one of my old friends without a really big knife on hand. Weaponry is always important." Jack threw him a look. "Get out of here. Get yourself a couple of cases of MREs, and don't let them give you the ones from back in 'nam. Good luck, Sheppard."

"Goodbye, sir."

That was all. Easy enough, and John was out of there, heading on to pick up the MREs so at least he could bribe the handful of people he needed to and keep from starving until Sanders gave the okay.

He hoped it wouldn't be long.

Greg loved his lab.

It made him feel guilty and a little sick to think about. This wasn't supposed to be something he enjoyed. It was supposed to be something he had to do, not something that....

Well, that he loved. He loved working with science again, and the structures and the research he was working with were like nothing he'd ever gotten to play with before. it was one of those things where he wanted to learn more and more about what he was doing, even if it would contribute to the downfall of humanity.

It was honest to God killing him.

Sheppard had expected better, and Greg didn't know what to think about that. Maybe he'd spent too long whoring, because there were so many worse things than working for food and a soft, warm bed, especially when it was work he loved enough that it might as well be play instead.


Gil's voice caught his attention, and Greg looked up from his microscope, a little surprised. "Um."

"How are you doing?" Gil's voice was mellow, quiet, and he was standing too, too close to Greg.

His hands were shaking, and that hadn't happened since... Gil had been the one who'd told him it would stop, then. He hadn't mentioned that it would start again when Gil turned into a vampire and came looming up behind him. "I, ah. I'm doing okay. This is really fascinating stuff."

"Good. Is it going anywhere?" Gil patted his shoulder lightly, and then moved to look at the rest of the worktable.

"Mm. Yeah, here, look at the restriction enzymes, the way I've got it set up." He reached out and tapped the space bar on the laptop and the model spun to life beneath that touch. "The differences here, and here? I was analyzing the digested DNA with agarose gel electrophoresis so I could compare them, right? And here. This is one of the major differences."

"How does it look like it'd pass? The..." Gil seemed to hesitate, looking sideways at him. "The turning requires a certain level of blood to blood contact. I've been trying to understand how that could lead to the DNA change."

Greg shook his head. "I'm still not sure about the exact process. What it looks like, just under the scope, is pretty simplistic. It's red blood cells literally turning on themselves in a frenzy." Yeah, that had been seriously creepy. "There's a secondary cell that hides inside of the red blood cells. It holds that cell together while it seeks out other red blood cells and causes them to lyce. I haven't figured out the exact pattern, which was why I was looking into the restriction enzymes."

"So you're working on paralyzing the secondary cell?" No, not yet, but that was something to head for, a long-term goal. Why was Gil interested in that?

"I have to figure out what the secondary cell is before I can work on doing anything to it," Greg replied, frowning. "If that's what you want me to work on...."

"It would help us understand it, what we've become. What you might become, some day." That was a thought that made him squirm. Christ. Of all the things Greg never wanted to happen, turning into one of them was high on the list.

Before, he'd figured they were pure evil. He'd been wrong about that, but not as much as he wished he had been. Gil was still Gil in so many ways, but when he got hungry, his eyes started to ice over, going pale, pale blue, and the look on his face...

Greg didn't want to think about it. He'd let Gil feed on him, but he couldn't bring himself to actually sleep with him despite everything, and Gil had been patient.

So far.

That was only a matter of time, and it was probably only going to last as far as Gil's willingness to humor an old friend. "I'm not going to bite." Gil even smiled when he said it, like he could read Greg's mind. "Not without permission."

He shifted on his seat, grateful for the table. There was always something about Gil smiling at him that way, and the fact that it made him hard even now, even with Gil something other, well. He was seriously fucked up. "That's, uh. Good to know." Especially since McKay took permission to be something unnecessary from his food. He'd seen McKay pin some random human up against a wall and then drag it off to his quarters like he was some kind of wild wolf. The fact that Sheppard thought he could take that on one on one...

It was crazy. It wasn't going to work.

"I mean it." Gil's smile was still light while he looked over Greg's notes. "We might eventually find a way to reverse this."


Just thinking about that, about the possibilities, about Gil being Gil again and not some bizarre thing made Greg's world shake for a moment. "You think we can do that?"

"I think so. It would still fit in with McKay's plans." Plans, plans, god that scared Greg, but he couldn't think of anything to do to keep himself from looking at Gil, no piece of work he could direct his attention to.

"And what are McKay's plans?" Stupid, stupid, he should have kept his mouth shut and not even asked. Knowing would make him a bigger risk than he already was, and while he didn't think he was getting out of this one alive, he wanted to have the best chance of it humanly possible.

Humanly. Ha.

He wanted the best chance of humanity even possible.

"He was the first. I think I told you the night you arrived that the rest of them are coming. He wants to be prepared." Oh shit, that sounded bad. That sounded like something out of a bad horror movie, 30 Days of Night or something, and he really didn't want to be there when that happened.

"Oh," he finally said, voice faint, heart momentarily speeding up. God. That was terrifying.

"If there's a way to reverse it, it would be so much easier than trying to kill them all. They're space faring." Gil's eyebrows went up slightly. "Now do you understand why I'm here? There's so much more than we ever knew existed."

So. Yeah. Not so much for Gil, probably, or McKay, who seemed a little crazy. Or more like a lot. "So not to reverse it in you, but to reverse it in some kind of space-faring invading force." That sounded like a ball of crap, but then, if anybody had asked him about real life vampires a couple years back, he'd have said that was crap, too.

And there was Gil. Real life vampire. "It's not a bad state of existence, Greg. Do you know what we're capable of?"

"Eating from people? Taking out the government of an entire country?" Or maybe not so much, but it wasn't like anybody had come in to help the good people of Nevada when everything had gone down, so Greg didn't know. "Putting people like me to whoring on the streets?"

"It's proof that the system was weak. It collapsed on itself. Is still collapsing. Unaided. I'm sorry you ended up doing that, Greg. But I could protect you."

"In exchange for me whoring only to you." Yeah, maybe it wasn't smart to goad the guy who pretty much held Greg's life (or death) in his hands. He couldn't seem to stop himself, though. He kept saying things, kept goading him on, hoping to show Gil for the monster he was, and Gil smiled.

"But you came here. Why?"

Why. Jesus. Because Sheppard asked him to. "I was starving. To death. It's not like there were a lot of other options, Grissom." Not Gil. Not anymore.

"I miss you. I miss what we had. I want to fix things between us." He wanted to drink Greg dry. He wanted to suck at his neck, like a horror movie, and Greg was going to have to let him.

"I don't know how," he confessed finally, quietly. "You're... and I'm... I've been..."

"You've been?" And Gil was in his personal space now, not that he hadn't been looming dangerously close into it before.

"Alone." Yeah, no. Not exactly. "Except. Not. Whoring, which is... not alone, right. And you... I...."

"You're scared of me," Gil noted quietly. "You shouldn't be. I can make your life so much better."

Yeah. Regular food, a safe place to sleep. All of those things, which was something to be grateful for. A lot of things to be grateful for, actually. "But I'd have to give in. To..." He paused and licked his lips. "I have a right. To be scared of you, I mean."

"I know. I know I've betrayed your trust." And that he wasn't even fucking human anymore, which was the crux. There was no way to address that.

Greg said it anyway. "You're not even human anymore."

"How do you define human? Is it the emotions? I still have them." Gil stepped one step closer, and if Greg stepped one step back it would: A, look like a cartoon; and B, he'd be in a corner soon.

It wasn't like he could do anything else, except step up to the plate, so to speak. "But they don't mean the same thing. Not anymore." Did they?

"Why? Why do you think they don't?" After all, Gil had always been sort of cold around the edges.

He licked his lips and tried not to shake. Gil was in his space now, and Greg could smell him. He didn't smell the same anymore, but it was close enough to make him remember everything. "If they were, you wouldn't have left me." Not out there.

"I did what I could. I thought you valued your humanity more than your safety. It was that or McKay would have pulled you into the general food pool. I didn't have the position then that I do now, and the trust he needed to have in me to bring you in to do this work." There was a hand reaching for him, not hot against his skin, but not icy. Lukewarm, colder than his own skin.

He'd spent the last two years whoring, and starving, and Greg was pretty sure that he was whoring now. He wasn't sure he cared as much about whoring himself out to Gil. It was almost... almost like before. Close enough, and he let his eyes close because they were stinging. It hurt, and there wasn't any saying stop or no to be done when Gil kissed him, when Gil grasped his arms and pulled him close, kept him close.

"I... missed..." God. He'd missed this so much, and he was shaking despite himself, hands coming up and curving at Gil's hips, clutching at him.

"I've missed you," Gil murmured. "I promise not to turn you, just let me touch you..."

And what was he supposed to say to that? No? He couldn't, not when all he wanted was this, all he'd wanted since... "Yeah."

He'd missed it. Except that Gil had used to be a personal heater's worth of warmth, it felt the same. Smelled different, different temperature, but he closed his eyes and leaned into Gil, and Gil lifted him, which was novel, too.

"I missed this." His voice cracked, but he got it out, all of it. "I missed you." Like a toothache. Constant and just as shudderingly painful. And the only reason he had come back to this, come back to Gil, was to be his downfall.

And he couldn't say that. He couldn't say, but Gil seemed to suspect. Suspect and kept him there despite it. "I'm so sorry." Gil was sorry, and maybe that was why he put up with it. He was sorry.

He was sorry and Greg was a horny whore.

He shook his head, hid his face against Gil's throat, and let out a full body shudder. "Me, too." Sorrier than he could say, and he breathed in, let it out slowly. "Me, too."

"We can fix this." Whatever 'this' was, it was probably them and a lot less the world, and he was being put down on the bed, big and comfortable and taking up as much room as it had when he'd first found himself there.

"It's pretty fucked up." Really fucked up, and Greg didn't know what to think anymore. He was a mess, in more ways than one, and he couldn't think of any way to fix anything. He was exhausted and messed up, and Gil was above him, hands touching his face with that weird lukewarm skin of his. "I'm pretty fucked up."

"We have time. I have time." The implication that Greg could have time, too, was there. Gil was kissing him again then, and Greg could only relax onto the cushions, let Gil come over him, let Gil touch him. It was as good as he remembered, even though he didn't want it to be.

"Gil... I..."

"Mm?" Just a quiet question, asked over another kiss against his mouth.

He didn't know. He couldn't say no, either; couldn't bring himself to do it, so he let his lips part and let Gil kiss him, teeth and all.

Teeth. He felt his tongue catch on one, and he recoiled even as Gil pressed him down against the mattress. It was enough to catch his attention, to make him give a noise of protest and turn his head away despite everything.

That was when Grissom growled, low in his throat. "Dammit. What's wrong?"

"Teeth." What the hell else was he supposed to say? Gil would know if he was lying, and Greg was shit for that. He wasn't going to hide this when he was already hiding so much.

"I won't bite you, I'm not going to hurt you. They're just... They're there." Like Gil was, part of him now, but it still made Greg's heart rate ratchet in fear.

He licked his lips and ducked his head, because even if he was terrified, this was what he was here for. He was whoring in a rather special kind of way now, and he was going to have to control himself, even if he didn't want to. "Okay. I just. I guess I wasn't prepared."

He needed to find a way to get Sheppard into the building. If Gil slept for once, before he did, that could solve that. "I wish you could enjoy this..."

"I can. I will. I need to..." Greg dropped his head back and closed his eyes, sighing and parting his legs to let Gil slide deeper between them. "Just let me learn."

"I can hardly remember the last time you said that." Learning. They'd done a lot of it, once, once upon a time, that seemed forever ago because it was. It was before everything went to hell, before he spent time doing things that would have made his mother sick to think of, just to eat, just to live. It was forever ago, when Gil cared enough about him that Greg didn't ever think he'd do anything like this.

"You mean with the chocolate pens?" He did his best to smile, to be valiant about it.

"Huh, that would be when." Gil smiled before leaning down and nipping gently at the line of his neck.

It scratched, tingled, and Greg couldn't help gasping, tipping his head back despite every instinct to do the exact opposite. Gil knew him, knew all of the ways to make him hot, and that faint scratchy nip had always been top of the list. He could come from it, Gil sucking, biting softly below his left ear, and wow, conditioned responses kind of sucked.

He was still conditioned to it, and Gil knew how to ply him, how to do it so Greg went weak kneed, rubbery limbed against the mattress until fingers snuck down between his legs and palmed his dick through his clothes.

It made him pant, rocking up into Gil's touch, heat flushing through him. "Jesus," he mumbled, and turned his face to the side, closing his eyes. "Oh God."

He wasn't touched a lot in his profession, weirdly enough. Most johns expected him to do the touching, wanted him pre-lubed so they could stick it in, do their business and go. He was considered a prissy bitch on his street, because condoms were a necessity, not an option, but even with the world as fucked up as it was, Greg didn't have a death wish. Not in any way, shape or form. He didn't need whatever vampire version of AIDS had probably worked its way into humanity, even if he was going to get it now, and if getting fucked up the ass turned him, fuck. Fuck.

"Tell me that feels good. I want you to feel good."

"It feels good." It wasn't a lie, either, because it did, and Gil was nuzzling him, lapping at that one spot, and he couldn't help shaking, rocking up into the hand that was still stroking him. Gil's fingers were as clever as they'd ever been, working his zipper down and sliding inside, and oh. Oh, that felt too good. He'd give up a lot for that, he'd already given up a lot. Given it all and there was nothing left for him to have except what he had from Gil then, fingers on his dick. Gil slipped down, pushing his t-shirt up, and Greg sucked in a breath because there he was, sliding down and mouthing at Greg's nipples. His thumb was easy, gentle, rubbing at the left one while he lapped slowly at the right.

It was mind-numbingly good, and Greg could almost forget. Almost.

He couldn't seem to, couldn't seem to wrap his mind around it, the fact that Gil was dead but standing there, jerking him off slowly, kissing at his chest. Touching him, and he was responding despite himself because it was Gil. Gil, who had always made him want things he couldn't have, even if it had turned into something he shouldn't have, not ever. "Please." His voice cracked, hips arching, pushing up into Gil's touch. He could never seem to do anything but respond to Gil that way, whether he wanted to respond or not. Greg closed his eyes, and gave up, gave up on thinking too deeply, and hoped that he didn't end up turned from it. Hoped that Gil still had enough honor in him, enough of whatever there had been between them to remember that he didn't want that.

The curl of Gil's fingers slid loose from his cock, moved to cradle his balls, and he was nipping at Greg's nipple with the flat of his front teeth, careful and easy. Greg spread his legs, second nature, let himself open for invasion. He knew what Gil's fingers felt like before they pushed between his ass cheeks, knew that Gil would test him with one finger, then two, and the third one was iffy, dependent on Gil's mood. On how much Greg wanted it to hurt, how slow Gil wanted to go.

Right at the moment, he didn't want anything to hurt; he wanted it to feel good, wanted it to be okay and not... not fucked up. Not somebody fucking him because he was a nice hole, warm for a while. The fact that his vampire ex was the only somebody Greg thought would do that was so fucked up it made his sinuses sting, made him shudder, because God. Christ.

Fuck, because Gil stopped, fingers sliding to rest at the inside of Greg's thigh before he leaned up to kiss his neck. "Greg. Greg, it's only me." Only him, and that was part of what was wrong with things, but he didn't know how to say it.

Instead, Greg let his breath out, slow and shaking, and he didn't open his eyes. "I know. I... sorry."

"Don't be." He didn't want to watch Gil reigning himself in. There was another slow, sucking kiss against his neck; too close to what Greg was afraid of. "There's nothing to be sorry for."

"Isn't there?" Nothing except everything, because sometimes he was so fucked up, and if it had been anybody but Gil... He'd be getting fucked, whatever he felt about it.

"No. There isn't." It was just that simple. That clear-cut, and Gil kissed him again, a light buss against his mouth. It was enough to make him open his eyes, look up, try to get himself together.

Greg licked his lips and let out a sigh, unsteady. "I'll do my best. To. To do what it is you want."

"I want you to be willing. I promise not to turn you without your permission." Gil didn't lie. Greg thought he could depend on that, for Gil not to lie. It was all Greg had left, that and kisses that soothed him, and the disquieting feeling of teeth against his lips.

"Okay." Okay, because that was the best he could do, but kissing... Well. He could do that. He could love that, could pretend it was like it was before, because he had a job to do. That meant he had to make sure Gil believed he was faithful, and to do that, he had to be faithful. Had to be what Gil needed, wanted, believed him to be.

Greg wasn't sure how to keep himself from becoming completely and utterly Gil's again.

It had taken a couple of days to make his way back from what was left of Area 51. The fact that O'Neill was camping out there, even when he was planning to nuke Vegas, said more than John ever could about his kind of crazy.

Mostly, it gave John something to brood about while he moved himself around, carrying his MREs back to his hole of a place a handful at a time, bribing the handful of junkies and whores that made up his ridiculously small band of resisting citizens as he went.

He wasn't sure if he was bribing them or what. He was possibly keeping them alive, because food was scarce. Food was scarce to lure people into the Feeding Pools. John figured if he were of weaker stock, with less training, he would've taken that bait, too. Hell, even with the MREs, he'd dropped weight. The only person he'd ever known who could eat the things was the same guy who'd created this fucking mess.

The worst part of it was how guilty John felt about it. About all of it, but mostly about Rodney, because in the end... in the end, it was his own damn fault.

Rodney had done what he'd been told, and he'd gotten captured, and that was John's fault. Everything that followed had been John's fault, in a way, John's fault for not acting fast enough, John's fault. He could have killed Rodney when he was in Pegasus, but he'd let him live, like Ford, hoping, not knowing how wrong it would all go.

He could have killed Rodney when he'd asked John to, instead of believing Keller would ever be able to do anything about it. She hadn't been up to the challenge, and okay. She'd managed to keep them patched up after Carson died, but not much more than that.

He shouldn't have had that kind of blind faith in somebody who hadn't been with them since the first year.

He shouldn't have underestimated Rodney. He should have expected Rodney to hijack the Daedalus, he should have expected Rodney to take the gate. He should have expected Rodney to pick a city he was somewhat familiar with to use it as his base of operations. John Sheppard, out of all of them, should have seen it coming.

He hadn't.

Reaching up, he rubbed a hand over his face hard and got up to rummage through the boxes for some of the bottled water. He hadn't expected Rodney to do those things. Hadn't expected Teyla to fall. Hadn't expected Ronon to knock him out and stick him in a rigged together jumper with Zelenka and then go down fighting.

Hadn't expected Zelenka to get blown to shit when they finally did get the damn thing to the Milky Way.

Hadn't expected it would be too late by the time he made his way to Earth, but it all had. Every last part of it, start to finish, and what was left of the SGC was operating out of Area 51 after the breach. The funny thing was that Carter had managed to jam Rodney's attempts to take the gate long enough for a pretty good delegation to make it through to the alpha site. John hoped they were okay. They were probably doing better than the rest of America.

If they had better communication, he'd know what the rest of the world was planning to do about it, if anything. If there was an IOA. Only Jack hadn't mentioned them, never talked about it. Never talked about anything except how stupid John's ideas were and how they ought to nuke the city, nuke the country, nuke everything.

John was pretty sure he wasn't the only person convinced that O'Neill was batshit crazy. Hell. He was pretty sure he was batshit crazy, for the same reasons, in a way. His team was gone, dead or beyond reach, and O'Neill's team had fallen beneath Rodney's onslaught. They'd underestimated him, and it had been one hell of a fatal mistake.

He could understand it. Rodney McKay was one hysterical balding guy who was kind of out of shape. But, there were brains there, brains that worked all the time, 24/7, even when he was panicking, even when he'd been shot. Even when he wasn't human any longer. They never should have trained him for the front line.

Now, John was going to need to do what he should have done to start with. What he should have done when McKay asked, because they were friends. Christ, they were more than friends, they were... and he should have done it. It would have been easier then, all the security aside.

He would have still loved Rodney then, and not loved him but been so fucking infuriated that he was going to enjoy slamming the stake through his heart and then splattering those amazing brains all over the floor before his goons could kill him.

He didn't think he loved Rodney anymore.

Rodney had always considered Oppenheimer an admirable man. A bit of a melodramatic pisser, but sometimes one needed to step back and reflect on the fact that they were going to change the world in the midst of that impending nervous breakdown.

This? This was going to be so big. If he could modify the process, get it all down, get everything in production. They were draining as much blood as they were taking in for nutrition, these days, and he was always exhausted and snappish and... well. A little crazy. Maybe even a lot crazy, because seeing somebody come in from the blood pool made him choke, gorge rising. If he had to suck on one last vein, he was pretty sure he'd come up with fantastic Technicolor puke, but they didn't have time, and there wasn't any other way to do it.

Grissom's DNA whore wasn't half bad. He'd been making progress on the side processes, but he'd been run ragged, and he was still refusing the procedure. Rodney wanted his second in command to take the little bitch down to the labs and strap him in, but he hadn't dared recommend it yet. Even he wasn't so off as to miss the stiff ice-cold gleam that screamed back off when Grissom talked about the guy.

He was involved with the man. That was undeniable. It made Rodney nostalgic for those days, and if Grissom wanted to feed on his DNA pet, so be it. He left well enough alone, and kept his thoughts to himself.

They needed to step up the exchange rate time of the process, and he didn't have anything left. No time, no blood, no energy, and if he kept stumbling through the halls to his private rooms, somebody was going to get a clue and probably come gunning for him. It wouldn't be the first time, although, hey, with the Degonesti on their way from Pegasus, conquering all the planets for bloodstock as they came, it might be the last. He'd have to wait and see, except it wasn't waiting and seeing so much as waiting and being ready. He was ready. And he was tired.

By the time he managed to get into his rooms, he was a little surprised to find that someone was there already -- Grissom, haunting a dark little corner, a glass in his hand, warm bag of blood in the other. "Come to feed me, I see." At least somebody realized that taking care of him was undoubtedly in their best interests.

"Come to feed you," he agreed. It wasn't mocking, just muted agreement. "You need to rest."

"There'll be time to rest when I'm dead. Okay, so, I'm already dead, technically, or maybe partially alive, but deader. Because if I stop now...." If he stopped now, everything would fall to pieces, and how badly would that suck?

"I didn't say stop. Rest. There are enough of us to spread it without you for a few hours. You need to eat." And he needed to rest and he needed to win, and he needed someone to snap at him instead of Gil's calm, firm words.

Christ, he'd kill for...

But he couldn't have that, couldn't do anything, and he was wild with it, thinking about it, and furious and.... and getting erratic, so he would have to take the glass when it was put in his hand and choke it down.

He'd left the best with Atlantis. Left Zelenka, and Simpson, and he'd hoped that at least they'd do the smart thing. Be able to save themselves, convince Rodney's team that they couldn't save the world, not anymore.

Only he didn't know. He could just assume.

He swallowed the glass quickly, choking it down despite the fact that it tasted dead on his tongue, lifeless and nausea inducing. The feel of it rose up for a moment, but then he swallowed it down, took a deep breath and shuddered. That was terrible, tasted like crap, but it was better than facing anybody from the pool.

"Not time," Rodney said finally, raising a hand to push the heel against his eye. It was unreasonable, that he'd have a headache when he was... well. "There's not enough time." And he wasn't stupid enough... well, no. Crazy enough, to start delving into time travel of any sort. There was the possibility of slowing down time within a field, but he hadn't had enough time to study the sanctuary that that they'd found in Pegasus. He hadn't had time, and that was a sideways train of thought he didn't have resources to pursue, even with his options. But weaponry... weaponry he could do.

"What do you want to do, Rodney?" Gil asked it calmly.

He thought about it, seriously thought about it for a long moment before holding out the glass to Grissom again. He needed the nutrition. "Start feeding your DNA expert uppers. We're going to start building bombs, and we're going to need to know how to speed up the process, and if there's any kind of agent we can deploy against them when they get here." Which wouldn't exactly be what the first bombs were for, of course.

Jack O'Neill was stupid if he though Rodney McKay wouldn't know he was hiding out in the wreckage of Area 51.

He wasn't going to let a rat take his master plan out because he was distracted. Rodney watched Gil fill the glass -- and he wished he had time to get someone from the blood pool, someone who tasted like almond or even charred meat. Anything was better than that. "I'll get the rest of them up on uppers, too."

"And call Nathan Stark. Get that bunch of slack pseudo-scientists in Eureka to start cooking up something with a punch. They've got to be good for something, after all."

He threw back a slug from the glass, and shuddered again. Fuck, that was terrible, but he didn't have enough time.

Never enough time.

One day, he'd find a way to make time.

He'd been awake for days.

Okay. Maybe not days. Maybe it felt like days, because Greg couldn't remember when he'd slept last, or if he'd ever slept. Not at this point.

Gil came in, and Gil left. There was food, and the most amazing coffee, and drugs, and God. Gil wouldn't have given him drugs when they'd been at the lab, never would have handed over stuff to keep him going and going and going.

There were a lot of things that were different now.

He was tired and when he had his breakthrough and explained it to Gil, and Gil had passed it on to whoever had been double-checking behind him, everything had eased up. He probably didn't have to stay awake for days, now. Maybe it was over.

Maybe it was always going to be this way, and wow. He wasn't tracking at all, but that wasn't so bad. Gil had brought him french fries, and it was the first greasy bad for everything food he'd had since he'd arrived, so he was contentedly putting them away one right after the other.

Even if he puked, it'd be worth it.

Gil had brought him french fries and steak, and it seemed like they were celebrating. Greg would have killed for a steak a few weeks ago, and now he was thick in food and comfort, even when he had drugs to keep him awake. "McKay sends his regards, dubious as they may be."

"McKay is scary," Greg informed him dreamily, munching on another fry. He'd missed Gil when he'd started eating, thought he'd left the room, but maybe he hadn't. "McKay is the whole reason I...." That he was here, but he shouldn't say that. Shouldn't. Right? "He stole you. For this. I...."

"I learned about it and joined, voluntarily. The others will be here soon, and this will climax very quickly." Gil set a bag down, into the mini fridge near the wall.

"The others." It slid off of his tongue, honey slow, and maybe Gil had given him something else. Something not uppers, because the whole world was starting to chug down around him, steady and slow. "Remind me about the others?"

"The original ones. And we're going to repel them, right here, with the work you did." Gil seemed mellow, too, relaxed.

"Wow, that's... That's completely awesome." Really amazingly cool, and he had to ask. "'d you put something in those fries?"

"No." Gil smiled. "That might be relief setting in. Your body needs some time to come down."

Maybe. Maybe, and then, he looked like Gil. He was treating him like Gil used to treat him, and it made him soft somewhere in the middle of him, places where he shouldn't be. "Missed this. Like this. With you. So much."

"I know. I've missed you, too." Eating french-fries, talking, rattling down from adrenaline. Gil was smiling when he sat down. "Everything will be better soon. I promise."

Except it wouldn't be. Not really, because he had plans. Him and Sheppard, who was going to die, and then Greg would die, because Gil would know.

He didn't want to die.

"I'd like to believe you."

"You should believe me. Today's been hectic. We're getting ready for the invasion, and I'm going to protect you now the way I should have from the start."

Jesus. "I...." Greg could feel himself start to shake, and okay. Okay, Gil didn't mean it. He couldn't, because he, he wasn't Gil, he was a blood sucking vampire, and he just. He couldn't.

Gil was standing up, looming close to him, smiling at Greg in that tired way Greg was used to, no teeth, just a little lust in his eyes. A tiny bit.

The way he used to look at him.

The urge to splutter out something ridiculous, something movie tacky that was huge and wrong. He managed to keep his mouth shut, but he looked up at Gil, and all he could do was tremble and keep his face tilted.

"I'm so sorry, Greg. Nothing can make it better, I can't fix what happened. I can just try to make things better now." Gil was watching him, trying to pick up on some signal that Greg must have sent. He didn't know what it was. He didn't know how to give it, and so he curled his hand upwards, reached out because he didn't know what else to do.

Gil took his hand, first, a slow, gentle motion, and then he leaned down to kiss Greg. "You should rest. You've earned it."

Rest. Rest would be good, would be fantastic, but Gil kissed him again, and Greg shifted, raised his other arm and slid his fingers to clasp the back of Gil's neck. "Don't want to rest," he murmured, and parted his lips to let Gil inside.

Gil took, took what Greg offered, leaning in, kissing him hard and slowly, all mouth and tongue, and Greg moaned. He couldn't stop it, the sound, couldn't keep himself from bringing his hands up to grab Gil's biceps and pull him in.

"You should rest," Gil murmured again, moving, though, in closer, herding him up to standing. Greg's knees felt a lot like Jell-O, but he was still too hyped, even though he was slowing down. He was, and he didn't want to rest.

"Take me to bed or lose me forever." It wasn't any better a line aloud than it had been in his head, but he meant it. He did.

Gil smiled, and kissed Greg's temple with that smile. "Cake or death. I think I'd prefer the cake. Let's go to bed."

To bed, together, and Gil's hand on him was the same hand it had always been. It was the same touch, and he was.... he wanted to make sure Greg was taken care of, and it was kind of Greg's own fault that he'd avoided this for so long. He was pretty sure, anyway.

Almost certain.

He was more sure when Gil kissed him again, moving him the short distance to the bed, pulling Greg's clothes off. He'd been afraid to do that, sleep with a Turned human. Been afraid to let Gil do more than feed from him when he asked, and he'd always fallen asleep immediately afterwards, as if it had taken everything out of him.

He hoped that didn't happen again, even as he started fumbling at the buttons to Gil's shirt, the material crumpling beneath his fingers. "I want... I want...."

"Tell me. I want to hear you say it." Gil was moving smoother, more calmly, pulling at Greg's t-shirt. It came off over his head, his hair ruffling beneath the soft cotton as the neck caught slightly, and Gil dropped it to the floor beside them.

"I want. You. I want to, us, to..." The way they used to, and maybe that was crazy. Probably it was crazy, but Greg was starting to think crazy was all he had to work with anymore.

If Crazy was the new standard, then he needed to give up and embrace it. "Fuck," Gil offered, twisting to bite at his neck. "Or make love?"

And yeah, that was kind of how it worked. Making love was a thing that didn't happen a lot. Greg had always figured sixty percent of sex was fucking and thirty-eight percent was sex, so that left a damn small percentage available for lovemaking. Generally, he was a man with preferences.

"Fuck me blind. You can do the other sometime later."

He heard Gil exhale, even though he was mostly sure that Gil didn't need to breathe. "Oh, I'm not sure about blind, but I can try for sore and deaf..."

"I'll take it." Greg grinned at him, because that was the best invitation in the world. He wasn't going to think about how he knew that, exactly. It was better not to, after all.

He flicked the last of Gil's shirt buttons open, pressed the flat of his hand against his chest. It was cool to the touch, disturbingly so, but he could ignore that. He could, could pretend that wasn't the way it was, or that his hands were very hot. Something.

Gil shrugged his shirt off, and started on Greg's pants. It wouldn't take much work, it wouldn't take much thought, seeing as all he had were sweat pants. "You will."

He would, and Greg got a little off-balance, falling backwards and onto the mattress. He bounced, and that didn't seem to give Gil any trouble. Greg's pants were gone, easy as that, and Gil was coming over him, making him breathless. "Wow. That's. Yeah. Okay."

Gil was moving at the same time to kiss Greg, kiss him down onto the mattress, while he got his own pants off, and that felt so normal. He wished Gil were warmer. That he felt like Greg remembered, a little. He could live with it, though; he could do whatever he needed to do, so long as Gil's hands were on him. As long as he kept touching him, and there were hands, fingers, Gil's entire body over him. "I... oh, fuck I..." Just like that. Yeah, like that, exactly like that.

He knew the hands, he knew Gil's body, he knew the feeling of Gil's dick, hard against his leg while Gil kissed him, sliding tongue into his mouth in an imitation of fucking. "Let me get the lube."

Lube, and seriously, who needed foreplay? Okay. Maybe him, but it was... it almost felt like it should. Like it had, and he wanted that, he was so desperate for that, and maybe, probably, it was pathetic. Pathetic and stupid and selfish, but he wanted it. Wanted things with Gil, wanted them to be okay, and he could wait for the other. He didn't even know what he wanted anymore. He just knew that he wanted. Gil kissed him again, and got off of the bed, a quick motion that almost startled Greg, but it was only to one of those cabinet drawers and back, setting it aside.

"Hi." Hi, because what else was he supposed to say? The world stuttered a little, time-wise, but everything was still in order, as it should be. He was there, naked, on his back, and Gil was coming over him, and God. God, he had dreamed about this, and been sick with longing and disgust for feeling that desperate need.

"Hi." Gil gave him a sly smile, and that was familiar, too, that eager glint in his eyes. "Tell me how you want it."

How he wanted it, because Gil always liked to hear it. Wanted to know the dirtiest thoughts he had, how he wanted Gil to curl his fingers, how hard he wanted to be fucked. Greg had never minded. "Hard. I want you to fuck me until I feel it tomorrow. The next day."

"The day after?" When Gil kissed him again, he could feel teeth, a nick of them, a pressure, but it didn't make Greg want to stop. Nothing was going to make him want to stop. "On your stomach."

Just like that, told what to do, and that was good for Greg. That was okay, he didn't care, he just... He wanted, wanted to be fucked stupid without thinking about all of the things that he'd been so afraid of when he was whoring. He rolled over, lazy, legs tangling a little before he got himself on his belly, shooting a look back at Gil over his shoulder. The look, more than anything else, maybe more than solving Gil's problem for the world, got Gil up behind him, reaching for the lube and moving fast. He was smiling, but it wasn't drifting bliss, it was intent, focused on Greg's face, his back.

Sometimes he forgot about that. Forgot about how much it had burned, even after he'd been sent home from the hospital. He'd never forgotten how Gil had looked at him, looked at his hands, told him they'd stop shaking, and they had. They had, and that was part of the reason he l....

"C'mon." It was easy to toss him a smile, easy and slow and inviting, because that was what he wanted. Never mind what he'd thought before, he knew it wouldn't pass that way. Didn't matter. "Fuck me."

"How? Fast, slow, easy? I can still make you feel it for a week," Gil promised slowly, moving fingers down to Greg's asshole. Two fingers, and they didn't push in but they threatened, pressing. He felt the flush of pure lust, and closed his eyes for a minute before pushing back, searching, hoping.

"How do you want...?" Because all he could think about was getting fucked. How didn't matter.

"I want you. I want you like I used to have you." Two fingers pressed, pushed into him and stopped, maybe one knuckle deep, but it was enough to make Greg's ass clench, enough to make him arch up, a thick whine building in his throat.

"Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck!" Yeah. Yes. Just like he used to have him, thick and hard and driving every other thought out of Greg's head.

Taking him over, without bites, and he didn't want Gil to bite him, didn't want anything to break the feeling that it was right, that he was there and things were almost normal. "So tight around my fingers, so tight. Are you ready for me yet?" He pushed those two fingers in, starting to twist them, starting to curve them, and Greg could only pant through the sharp need that slid through the pit of him.

Yeah. "Y-yeah. Yeah. Yes. Oh, fucking Christ, Gil, I...!" Now. Now would be good, now would be perfect, now would be the best thing fucking ever.

It had to have been there in his voice, a signal for Gil to withdraw, because he pulled his fingers out at an angle, trying to stretch Greg's ass out a little more, and then he was kneeling, spreading his legs wide. His knees pushed Greg's further open, and his hands fastened on his hips, pulling him up, positioning him the way Gil wanted him. Greg didn't fight, because he'd dreamed about this, wistful and hating himself for it; he let his arms and shoulders rest on the bed, let Gil do what he wanted.

He could feel the head of Gil's cock, slipping between his cheeks, searching him out, finding him. "Oh God." Greg could hear his voice shaking, but there wasn't a chance in hell of him stopping it.

He'd have to let his voice shake, because Gil pushed in, moving slow, but not stopping, not slowing or pausing, edging firmly forwards, the head of his cock spreading Greg wide. He'd missed that; missed the way it felt to be opened, inexorably, the way only Gil could do it, like it wasn't hurried, just.... what Gil wanted. What he knew Greg could take.

What Greg wanted to take.

He could hear himself, babbling something on the edge of his own awareness, begging, maybe. Pleading. Possibly even demanding, but fucked if he knew.

He didn't care, because fucked if he wasn't getting fucked. Slow and steady to start with, but he knew that soon, Gil would be pounding him flat onto the mattress, his arms shaking with the effort to hold him up over Greg, hips pistoning. He'd been amazed the first time, dying for it the second, but Gil never gave it to him the same way twice. Sometimes, it was like this, hard and steady and perfect, and sometimes it lasted for what felt like hours, a solid, slippery eternity, where he was moved the way Gil wanted him, shifted to see what would feel good, what would feel better, what would feel fucking amazing.

That would, would be later, that exploring, that slow, luxurious, endless kind of fuck. He wanted hard and steady and oh, god, Gil pulling out, and sliding back in, timed like a metronome that was off beat with his pulse.

"Oh my God oh my God oh my God." Because that was all he could think, all he could say, and he finally got it together enough to desperately scrabble a hand beneath him, reaching for his dick.

He'd have to jerk himself off, but he'd always had to do that, and he didn't even have to, he could rub off on the sheets, but the sheets were so soft, smooth, no traction at all, and his hand fit. Curled around his dick, and he couldn't help giving a wild sound when his thumb rubbed the flare of the head, and he was close. He was so close, on the verge, and Gil wasn't stopping. He was hammering in, pounding down on all the best places, the ones that made white flare behind his eyes as it came on, overtook him, left him a shaking over-fucked mess.

He wanted that, though, to fall apart, to fall into it, to get fucked out of sense, until all he could concentrate on was Gil's dick spreading and Gil flattening him.

It was the best thing that had happened to him in a very long time, Greg thought blearily when Gil's sweaty chest was pressed against his back.

"Wow." He sounded slow, like his voice was drowning in molasses. "Oh wow."

"Still want more?" Gil asked, sounding a little out of breath. That was remarkable, considering the way oxygen actually worked its way into his blood now. Greg hadn't thought he could get that way, much.

"'m done." Done in and dizzy with it, drunk with the lingering pleasure and Gil, the combination of them. "'m done now."

Gil kissed the nap of his neck, and Greg felt him smile against his skin. "I missed you."

Missed him, and oh. Thank God. He wasn't alone, wasn't... "I thought about you. Every day. Every trick. All the time." And he'd been so fucked up and so angry and so, so confused. He was still fucked up and confused. "I wanted...." Everything. Wanted Gil. Wanted all of the stuff that had happened to stop, to go away, even when he'd known it was stupid and juvenile.

"No more tricks. No more times like that," Gil promised him. "I'm going to keep you safe."

Safe, and he felt a little dirty. Different than whoring had made him feel, but maybe a little like he'd sold himself anyway, one way or another. Still.


Greg knew he was fucked up, a mess. Knew he shouldn't be making decisions or declaring himself in any way, shape or form. Knowing it, and keeping his mouth shut, that was something else in that moment.

"I'd have done anything. Before I came here. To get... if I thought I could get you free. From McKay. From this."

"We can get ourselves free, now." Gil shifted, moving slowly, pulling out of him and moving to lie against Greg's side. Whatever the plan was, Greg was pretty sure he didn't care. At all, so long as Gil was there and with him, and he needed to go through with the plan. He'd spent so long, been so careful not to be caught up in the entire blood-run world, and now here he was. And.... and he didn't know what to do anymore.

"How?" Because he didn't see it. What he'd been working on was a start, Greg thought, but he didn't think it was enough. That it would be enough. He wasn't even entirely certain what Gil meant.

"We can weaken them. Ruin their DNA, turn them back into what they were." Gil seemed comfortable telling him that, as comfortable as he'd been having Greg do the work in the first place. That made him feel good. Feel trusted, feel like he meant something.

"What were they?" Because, okay. DNA, they'd needed an expert to create... something. To find the answers, and obviously they had somebody else to make sure they'd get what they needed out of Greg's research. Make what they needed.

Make... what?

"Once, they claim they were human. In the same way that we can claim we were descended from monkeys. The conversion, the sharing of blood, turns a human into us. You've taken it apart, made it possible for us to turn it the other way."

The other way. Make them human again.

Make Gil human again, because Greg needed him. He couldn't live without him anymore, and maybe, instead of what Sheppard had planned, they could use whatever they'd come up with. Make things right.

Make things better.

"'s pretty impressive. Can I...." He stopped, had to yawn, couldn't help himself. "C'n I see? What... the..."

"Yes, in time." Gil's hand was petting over his back, settling them both in for a rest, and Greg's eyes were getting heavy. He'd missed it, Gil biting into him, and he raised his wrist slowly to see.

He'd probably needed that. If he was ever going to sleep, after the last few days.

"Wanna...." His mouth didn't seem to agree about talking with his mind. "Wanna see it."

"You will, Greg. You will."

It was early. Too early, but it wasn't like he had any choice.

McKay had blown up what was left of Area 51.

Sometimes, John felt like a moron. He never saw this shit coming, even when he should have. He definitely should have seen that coming. Hell, he had, but O'Neill hadn't thought McKay would do it.

John had known he would. He didn't think it would be so soon.

He hadn't expected McKay to wipe out Earth's best hope, hadn't expected him to do it like that, but he'd also underestimated how many cities, areas, technological centers that Rodney had control of.

He'd been busy while John wasn't looking, or more like while he was looking too hard. Trying his damnedest to figure out how to get in, how to stop McKay, and he'd gotten nowhere real fucking fast.

He'd worked out how to signal to Greg that he needed to get inside, and that was the important part, because that was all he had left. Hopes about the Alpha site, and for killing McKay in person.

Making sure the job was done right.

It was round about, and dangerous in its own right. He knew where McKay's quarters were, how to get to Grissom's, and he'd banked on Grissom keeping Sanders close. That meant Greg would be able to see lights flashed in the hotel window across the street between the Bellagio and the Caesar's Palace. He'd see it, sneak away, let John into the back door, and in. In, and then up and then he could end it all. Without McKay, humanity had hope again. Had something, anyway, because it was the best John could do.

His life was pretty much all he had left to give, that and shitty MREs that were going to run out before Rodney managed to control all of Earth. Considering that ought to take him maybe two more weeks, it was a little worrisome.

If he died while he was trying, then at least he'd died trying, and John could comfort himself with that. He needed to get in. He hoped that Greg had seen the lights, that his plan was all working out. For all he knew, he was going to be crouching in those bushes for hours, and it would all come up to nothing. And less than nothing.

At least he hadn't run across anything resembling poison ivy. Not that he'd be alive long enough to regret it if he had.

John had spent a long time whittling out a wooden knife long enough, thick enough, to make its way through Rodney's ribs and into his heart. He thought Ronon would be proud of it, if he saw it.

He hoped like hell it worked.

Mentally, McKay had him, but physically, he still had the edge. Even if Rodney was stronger now, he had the edge over Rodney because Rodney never believed. He didn't believe John was capable of something like that, he wouldn't believe that John would actually do it, no matter how badly it needed to be done, and Rodney... McKay. He was fucking wrong.

McKay was going to suffer.

He heard the sounds behind the door before heard the doorknob turning slowly. Either it was Sanders, or it was someone else, but he was getting in. That was the important part, John figured.

"Sheppard." He was relieved that it was Greg, that he was still alive, that he was still going forward with the plan. "That you?"

"Yeah." He was quiet except for that answer, standing up from where he'd been crouched in the bushes. If John had been running the place, he would've fixed the landscaping, made the place a better fortress.

That kind of thing probably hadn't occurred to Rodney. It wouldn't have, before, so John saw no reason that it might now. "This way. It's... I... this way." The door pushed open, enough to admit him into the hallway, some kind of service entrance.

"Thanks." John kept his voice to a whisper, ducked into the narrow back hallway. "You in good shape?"

"Better." Better, and the lights showed it. He'd filled out some, didn't look like he could be knocked over with a feather anymore. "I think we need a change of plan, Sheppard."

"What do you mean?" He was feigning lazy, but he was waiting, too, for Greg to turn the tables on him. To be there with a horde of armed vampires, but what did it matter when Area 51 was already gone? It wasn't like there was much of anybody left to make up a resistance except him.

Sanders looked a little strung out despite being healthier. John wondered what the hell they'd been giving to him. "Look. I've been up for a couple or three days, working on something. That thing they were looking for a DNA guy for. It's, it's a retrovirus. It's supposed to devolve the people who've caused this, this. Conversion process. We can fix this, Sheppard. We don't have to kill...." Grissom, John knew. He'd gambled on this kid, and he was more attached than John had thought.

Shit. "Do you have access to it?" He kept his hands in his pockets, ready to move if he had to. He didn't want to, not yet.

"He's converted the twenty-eighth floor to lab space. I'm on the list, and Gil gave me a card. Last night." Greg licked his lips, and it was obvious he was nervous. "I just. I want you to promise me. We can, I can... I know I can talk him into it. Save him. Save... Just. Please."

McKay was recreating the failure of a project that had been Michael, Michael and all of the rest of them, and John was more than willing to do it to the whole building if he could. It was a painful process, and he knew he could use that pain against them. "Just don't do anything stupid to get me killed." Because Sanders was a lost cause.

He used to be that way. Would die to protect what he loved. He should have been able to kill to protect it, but he'd learned his lesson on that one.

"I won't." Greg was looking at him, wide dark eyes. "I won't. But. You have to come with me. There's, I've been trying to find a way up. Without anybody seeing, the whole place, there're cameras everywhere. So... so I'm not good enough with computers to rig them, but there's a service area. They, there's, it's not big enough for more than one person to get through at a time. I'll go up, in the elevator. Distract the guys at the... I'll make sure you can get through."

"I don't want to spend the rest of my life stuck in some elevator service shaft," John guessed, "So, thanks. Lead the way."

The hallway was well lit enough to make John nervous as hell. There weren't many cameras, and it was easy enough to shift around them once he was aware of them. Sanders didn't bother, which was reasonable. One way or the other, he was caught. They both were, if this didn't work.


It was less of a door and more of an access panel, and John had to crouch down to open it. Hopefully it for roomier when he got into the space. "How far up?"

Greg shifted, licking his lips nervously. "From here? Twenty-eight floors."

John exhaled. "There floor number markers up in here, or am I guessing?"

The way he shrugged made it obvious that Greg was still pretty undernourished, a bony sort of motion. "The doors probably have markers on the inside, but, uh. Could be you're guessing. I'll give you half an hour and go distract the guys on the floor. Unless you think you need longer."

Twenty something floors in half an hour. Sure, that was easy shit, if he was looking to die at the end of it. "Thirty minutes is good." He'd probably give himself a heart attack, but what the hell.

Today was the day he was going to die, anyway.

"Okay." Okay, and Sanders reached to help him pull off the panel. He'd put it back once John was in.

Hopefully it would come off at the top, because he wasn't sure that he had the energy to do anything else but back down the ladder the hard way. "Good luck, kid."

The nod he got back was jerky, unsteady. "You, too. I'll be up there when you get there." A firm promise, and John hoped he was.

"Go on, so no one notices you're missing." John shifted into the little space, and slowly stood up, facing the rows of rungs. He could do this. If he could climb up the outside of Atlantis's central tower, he could climb up the inside of a service shaft for elevators.

Grimly, John set his watch to alarm in a quarter hour, and twenty-five minutes, and set his foot on the first rung.

It was a hard climb. Not because it was a climb, because once he fell into a rhythm, he was sort of all right with it, steadily moving up. His arms burned like hell, and his left ankle was starting to feel dodgy, but he'd felt worse. Mostly, it was hard because it was boring, and steady, and it turned out that the outer doors weren't numbered after all. He had to keep up with the floors on his own, and whose bad idea was that, anyway?

He was either on floor twenty-six, or twenty-eight then, depending on how many rungs he was on and whether he'd guessed the right number when he'd lost count between sixteen and eighteen. Taking a guess, he was pretty sure he was at twenty-eight, and he hoped like hell he was right. This was the only chance he was going to get, and fucking it up because he'd dazed out would cost more than his life.

It would cost the world everything.

John stopped, eyed the access panel. It was going to be a bitch, sliding through that, and he hoped like hell there weren't guards standing out there waiting. He'd had damn good luck so far, and all he could do was hope that it held.

He was careful to shift the access panel, turning off his watch alarm while he twisted and did not look down, did not look down while he pushed the panel off.

The hallway was clear. It looked god awful expensive, and it was a bitch, crawling out without making a fuckload of noise. Sanders seemed to have kept his promise, though, and that was the important part.

The hall was clear, and he stepped out, stood up, and was prepared to move fast, to find Sanders, see if they could get that drug, change things. Change the whole damn building. He needed to start looking without Sanders, only he needed the key, too.


Taking a deep breath, John pulled his sidearm, and gently, gently slid himself back into a small recession in the hall. It wasn't shit by way of actual concealment, but it was better than nothing. A glance at his watch proved that it was still a couple of minutes shy of the half hour mark. Not bad for an old man, which was a pretty grim thought. Still.

He'd wait it out, watch the elevator, and hope that Sanders was coming up like he'd promised, or their already shaky plan had gone to hell.

The seconds ticked by, hour long, and he could hear something down the hall. Movement, probably the guards Sanders had told him about.

When the elevator dinged, John damn near jumped out of his skin. Jumping out of his skin would've been extra noise, though, and he couldn't afford that. It was a relief that Sanders stepped out of the elevator, and John waited, let the man turn and see him rather than stepping out of his miserable space and scaring the crap out of him.

The kid nodded at him, taking an unsteady breath, and headed down the hall, towards the noise John had heard. Carefully, John began to move after him, quietly, with an eye out behind him.

"Hey, guys, I... SHEPPARD! LOOK OUT!"

He turned, bolted, knowing that his best chance was to get to the elevator and back out somehow, hell, back to the shaft where he could at least hole up, maybe head for the roof and, well, he didn't know from there. Jump and make a great splat. Climb back down from the building outside.

Except it didn't matter because there were men coming down the hallway towards him, and men behind him, and he was completely fucked.

"Well, well, well. I've been waiting for you, Colonel. I think you'll agree that I've expended an infinite amount of patience, all things considered."

"No idea what you're talking about, McKay." He still kept a hand on his gun, because no one had shouted at him to drop it. He hadn't heard anything from Sanders since he'd yelled, so chances were damn good the kid was dead already.

Rodney leaned against the wall indolently, giving John a slow, steady smile. "I've been waiting for you to come to me, Colonel. I knew, after what you failed to do when I asked, you would figure out that you'd made a mistake eventually. I knew that you'd come, then. I guess I should be grateful that you had the sheer moronic stupidity to try using one of Grissom's people to get in here. What made you think I wouldn't have them watched?" He clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth reprovingly.

"Wishful thinking." John shifted, moved the gun to try to aim at Rodney as subtly as he could. "You bombed Area 51."

"Sheppard, how stupid do you think I am? Hand over the gun. Even if you shoot me, it won't do you any good." The sheer ice blue of his eyes was almost mesmerizing. That? That was the problem with goddamn aliens.

"I'd still like to try. You know, seeing it with my own eyes, all of that. I mean, if you're right, I wouldn't have been able to do what you asked me anyway." And hell, no more waiting. He lifted the gun and squeezed off one good shot at center body mass. It sparked off with a flare of green and embedded itself in the wall.

Rodney's smile was uneven, and lazy, and full of teeth. "That was before I had time to do a little work on that personal shield business, Sheppard. Take him."

Before he could do anything more, shoot anybody else, he had half a dozen guys on him, his pistol wrested from his hand.

John grunted, his face mashed down against the smooth tile. "Nice to see you taking charge, McKay."

"Mm, yes. Isn't it?" He couldn't see Rodney, but he could see him, the figment of his imagination that bounced off the gateroom floor with the same kind of glee John could hear in his voice. "Take him upstairs, and make sure he's well-secured."

"Yes, sir." John thought he recognized that voice, and he probably did. Rodney hadn't been shy about stealing personnel from the SGC. "And the other one?"

At least that let him know Sanders wasn't dead. Probably.

"Take him to the lab three floors up. I'll talk to Grissom, and thank him for the use of his whore."

Yeah. That was McKay, all right. Subtle as a freight train.

He waited, hung heavy dead weight between the men who were hauling him up, and oh, that was great, fucking... "Walter?! Jesus, you of all people..."

The guy didn't look like he regretted it all that much, but then, that was one of the first things to go, wasn't it? "Sorry, sir. It's just that... well. Dr. McKay's plan made more sense than General O'Neill's. In the end." After all, Rodney had blown the SGC to shit, and some people preferred living to dying. John never would have thought Harrison would be one of them.

"I thought... you. Of all people..." John sighed, and let Harrison -- who was stronger than John ever remembered the guy being, because even for a master sergeant the guy had sometimes come close to breaking tape -- haul him after McKay.

"I made them offers they couldn't refuse. After, of course, I set up a little experimentation center in the infirmary before I blew the Mountain." Rodney sounded damn pleased with himself, and he paused, hit the button for the elevator once, and then again, and then again for good measure. Obviously he missed transporters.

John hoped like hell it hurt every time he thought about them. He hoped that McKay ached when he remembered them, and he hoped that maybe, in the small space of the elevator, he could lash out, kick, fight, and kill McKay despite the device. Did he even need to breathe?

"Take him up first," Rodney ordered as the doors opened. "You know where to put him. I want four guards in the room at all times. I have some business to take care of before I attend to him."

John didn't want to know what that business was, but he could guess. It was a damn shame McKay wasn't going to get into the elevator with him.

In all honesty, Gil hadn't expected McKay to be quite so needlessly rough with Greg when Greg didn't belong to him. Of course, that was undoubtedly foolish beyond belief, but he'd had other things to take care of. Once they knew the Degonesti had entered the Milky Way, time had been flowing down the drain so quickly, they were both on edge, and one of them had to be in a directly supervisory role all the time.

When one of them was asleep, the other was awake, and that wasn't a good way to function, not for the long-term. They were ready, though, ready and armed, and that he was being summoned to the labs possibly meant that it would all be over soon. The fact that he was getting reports that didn't make him happy, well. That was something he'd have to deal with in his own time. Forcing things with McKay never worked out well.

Gil swiped his card and stepped into the main lab, automatically clenching his back teeth.


"He's not ready for that yet."

"He would have gotten us all killed if you hadn't been involved," Rodney told him sharply. "I haven't started yet, I've just set it up. You can talk to him first if you wish."


He walked past McKay and reached out, cupping Greg's face. He wasn't making any sound, looking up with terrified eyes even as Gil slid his fingers back, released the strap on the ball gag.

"G-g..." His lips were dry, and Gil traced his thumb over the lower one.

"I didn't mean it to end this way. Precisely." Not precisely. McKay snorted behind him, but he kept his attention on Greg instead. "I promise you that you will come out of this better for it, Greg."

It pissed him off, that complete panic, the way he looked on the verge of tears. "I... I just wanted...."

Gil knew what he'd wanted. He should have been more careful, led Greg less in the direction he was going. He supposed he'd hoped that Greg wouldn't open the door for McKay's Sheppard, and now that he'd seen him on the cameras, so much was explained.

The issue with brunettes made laughable sense, the way the man slinked and leaned and still looked quite physically attractive despite all of the stresses he'd faced. "I'll miss feeding on you, Greg, but I won't be losing you. This will give you... perspective."

He opened his mouth again, and that glisten turned to tears because Gil slid the ball back in, gently, and reached up to start the IV regulator.

He could leave, move to yell and rant at McKay, or he could stay and watch and sit with Greg. Gil reached back behind him, grabbed a lab stool.

"This won't take long." Not anymore.


The asshole could work on the Ancient's personal shield, but he hadn't come up with anything better than steel to hold John into a chair that looked ridiculously like the command chair in Atlantis.

Just great.

He didn't even have a hope that somebody would come in at the last minute, blasting away alien vampires, and getting him out of them.

There was no escaping it. There was no one to rescue him. No McKay to perform the last minute save, no... Nothing. He was John Sheppard, fuckup extraordinaire, in the end.

And then McKay sauntered into the room, carrying a glass of oh Jesus, let that be wine.

"Rodney." He smirked, knowing how much that usually pissed off marauding aliens bent on galactic domination. "I'm ready to kill you now. Don't know why you're not ready to die."

"Mmm, you know, for a while I actually deluded myself into thinking that I'd missed your witty repartee? Except, now that I hear it again, I can't remember why I ever missed it." Rodney took a sip, and swallowed, moving to loom beside John. "Nostalgia, I suppose."

"Yeah, I can just imagine. I used to think I missed you, too. Then you blew up Colorado Springs." And Area 51, and probably a hell of a lot more places than John was going to think about right now. "What'd you do with the kid?"

"He's being turned." That was the moment where most evil villains would have dismissed the guards and started to go on about their evil plan. Rodney lifted his chin a little. "You will be, in time."

Oh, hell no. "No." No, because it came out before he could stop it, all ground glass, adamant. "You even think about it, you've gotta know. No matter what happens, McKay, I'm going to kill you."

"You say that often enough and you might believe it yourself in time." Rodney turned his back to John, looking towards the wide windows of his suite. "See, we're coming up on a deadline here. And while I don't have a floating city, I have a fantastically networked system and a chair."

"A chair." The chair, John knew. The one he was sitting in. Well. Chained to, more like. "And what exactly do you think I'm going to do for you, McKay?"

"Save humanity," Rodney declared blithely. He leaned, calmly, and set the glass down on a side table. "I could do it myself, but this is more effective and more amusing. Go on, reach out. You can see the invading force coming in."

"Fuck you, Rodney. I'm not helping you." His heart sped up, all the same. "If I do, you're just going to keep on converting humans into what you are, or using them for food. Have you seen the back streets around here? How about one state over? You're worse than anything we've fought against so far. You're a fucking demon."

"I'm doing what none of the rest of you would. I'm saving this planet, Sheppard. Now reach out and see those damn ships." And he was snapping his fingers, like they were in the middle of a normal argument, not deciding the fate of the Earth itself.

John didn't have to reach out; the chair was giving him the information even though he didn't want it, feeding him full of the oncoming armada's path, their weapons potential, their plans, because they weren't shy about those. They never had been.

"Fuck you," he said again anyway, hoarse with it.

"Now, I have these warheads all loaded up. Different frequencies are emitted to slide past their stunning shielding technology, but after you've rebuilt a few Ancient shielding devices, you know how to get through similar things. Not that you care. I just need you to fire them in the right trajectory, Sheppard."

"I won't." Not if it meant the world belonging to Rodney, because that would be impossible and wrong, and he'd been fighting against that for too long. He'd been determined to bring Rodney down.

He wasn't going to give in.

"So, you'd have humanity die so you can get the last word in our intergalactic spat? How magnanimous of you, Sheppard. What a lovely sentiment, offering up genocide the likes of which no one will ever see again so you can win. Guards, get him out of the chair."

And Jesus, of course he'd call the guards, and they weren't anybody John knew. They were big, though, the kind of guys who probably would have enjoyed taking on Ronon, given the chance, and struggling was kind of a bitch when guys that big were picking him up by his arms and his legs.

"It's not gonna do you any good, Rodney! You can't work it, can you? That's the reason you waited for me, isn't it? Because you can't get it to do shit for you, and you knew I'd come for you!"

"I was right, wasn't I?" He folded his arms over his chest, while the guards stood him up. "You came for me. Now, you're going to let, oh, the whole rest of the planet die. China, India, Europe, Mexico, Canada, Africa, South America, the people in the Alpha site, and every planet out past that, die because you wouldn't do what you've done all of your life."

Kill things.

And okay. Okay, maybe he was right, because John was really thinking about it, that and all the hope he had left wrapped up in the Alpha site, in the hope that there were people there who might make plans, come back, kick McKay's ass. "I came for you." His voice was hoarse, and he bucked against the men holding him down. "And I'll blow them out of the fucking sky."

He'd take one last chance -- aim at least one of the remaining weapons down into Las Vegas.

"Put him back down." McKay gestured at the guards. "Once this is taken care of, I can deal with negotiations, with what comes next. Just do this, Sheppard."

Do this.

Save Earth.

Do what he'd done a thousand times before, and they dropped him down in the chair with a bone-jarring thud, and he closed his eyes as the back smoothly reclined.

They were coming. They were close, and the image of them, slipping in among the stars and sliding up through the planets, was burned on the backs of his eyes.

He should have rescued McKay. He should have saved McKay, gone after him, found him before it was too late, and then he should have encouraged him, should have treated him differently, not like a returned war criminal, and how they'd thought they could contain him when the city was as much Rodney's as it was John's, more than it was the SGC's, and now he was a war criminal. Now he was taking over cities, parts of continents, and giving John weapons that he'd never felt before to fling with precision at the enemy.

They weren't as beautiful as Atlantis's drones, golden flood firing up from the city; they were colored, in his mind, a bright, bright blue that spread out behind his eyes, an explosion of energy shooting through him and making him arch up, gasping through the feel of it. Firing them was a feeling that ricocheted from the inside of his skull down to his toes, and John could feel the yell that tore out of his throat even if he couldn't hear it.

He felt it as he fired, heavy things that made it seem like he was still knotted up in them even after they were on target, because he was tacking the progression, watching them stream through space, faster than momentum, sub light. Out to the edge of the solar system, where the ships were.

The flare of the shield fizzled, useless against Rodney's weapon, and then the first ship exploded in a wash, the force of the hit lighting the air inside it on fire with the force of the detonation. Before the first one was even in pieces, John was riding the azure wave into the second and third ships. He seemed separated from his body, the chair, but he knew he was there, convulsing in response to McKay's weapons system, to whatever biological commands he'd built in between the chair and the intense blue weapon.

He went for it, though, and was almost surprised himself when the second one penetrated, and then the third, and oh, god, there were as many ships as there were weapons, and not one more. Not even any secondary systems tied in, not enough, and somewhere, disconnected from his body, he felt the warm gush when his nose began to bleed. Five, seven, nine, and he could take out Vegas with the last one, unlucky number thirteen, but then it would be the same old song and dance except with aliens instead of McKay.

John rode the wave of the last explosion into unconsciousness.

John wasn't as defiant as he liked to think he was.

Rodney was tired now, exhausted, and John had been moved out of the chair and into a more restrained position so he could sit in the chair and check the positions, make sure they were all gone. He could do that much, but the weapons precision had been beyond him. There was a difference between blowing up a stationary object and taking into account the rotation of the planet and everything between them and the ships and the ships' movement through space.

He didn't want to admit it, but the blood change had also affected the gene therapy. He could do small things, even the sort of things that he needed for working in the labs, but what John had done... well. Only John could have done it, now. On Earth, in any case.

Satisfied that they were safe, that the threat was gone, Rodney was left to... Consider.

The thing of it was that Michael's plan had never been anything acceptable insofar as what Rodney actually wanted to do. It had been more by way of his backup plan -- what to do if the ships made it past the other edges of the Milky Way.

Now that Plan A had gone accordingly, he had time. Well, and clots of cities that were functioning fine, because John was exaggerating. He'd only taken over Vegas, and smashed Colorado Springs out of necessity, more to crush NORAD than the SGC, but they were egotistical that way. Without a gate, the SGC was a bunch of brains with no plan at all.

He'd been tempted to nuke Siberia into nonexistence, but then, Siberia might as well already be a nuclear wasteland, so it wasn't like anyone would have noticed. Plus, he'd come to an agreement with the Russian government, mostly because they didn't seem to want him coming into their country and spreading his... well.

The treaty was worth more to him than the revenge.

Rodney started to sit up, moving out of the chair. "Well, Sheppard. The threat has been averted."

He didn't expect John to say anything back, at least not right away. He'd had someone come in and clean up the blood, despite the urge to lean in and taste, just to see. That was something he could wait for, because he needed John awake and aware and spitting fury when he finally took what he wanted. After he did, then he could consider his next plan of action. He hadn't spent a great deal of time thinking past that moment, and perhaps subconsciously he'd thought they'd all die despite his efforts so there hadn't been a need to plan past it beyond the bare bones of things.

He heard Sheppard groan, a low, thick sound in his throat that Rodney recognized from too many bedside vigils over the years. It meant he'd be coming to within the next few minutes, and then Rodney would undoubtedly need to hover over him and force him into submission.

Even considering changes in his plan, that felt like a damn good thing to do. Just once, because he could, because he wanted to, so badly he could taste it. Would taste it soon, because he wanted to do that while John was awake. Then he could consider the new future, and where he wanted to go from here.

"'saname o' thatruck?"

Mmm, yes. That was a familiar sound, and for the moment, they were safe enough. John wouldn't be reasonably coherent for a while, and that suited him.

"Hello, Colonel. You've been out for a while." He leaned over John, close as he dared.

"eeeey, Ro'ney." Slurred, and he had to be exhausted. Rodney hadn't been entirely certain how much it would take out of him to use the new drones he'd been busy designing. He'd figured it would be enough to wear him out, but the nosebleed had been a bit excessive. "Time'zit?"

"About eight in the morning. You've slept pretty hard." He reached out, down, slipped his fingers through John's hair.

"Head's killin' me." There, he was coming out of it a little. "Carson comin'?"

"Carson died in Atlantis, John." He let his fingers idle over the edge of John's sideburns. His face was rougher than Rodney remembered, the wrinkles around his eyes deeper and when he finally blinked his eyes open, it was obvious he wasn't tracking yet.

"Nuh. Nuh, Keller did a... she did a thing. A..."

"That Carson. That Carson still lives in Atlantis, but that isn't where we are. You did just save the planet, though." It was nice to touch, to re-familiarize himself with that face. He hadn't thought, hadn't realized, that what he wanted, what he'd wanted even before, was....

"Whu..... fuck, what, what..." He was getting himself together, now, and yes, pulling at his arms, realizing that there were chains there, still, even if he'd been moved to the side.

"Sorry about the decor. I'm still afraid for what's left of my life, seeing as you were hell bent on getting here." Rodney didn't pull his hand back -- if John bit him, well. It might be worth it.

"McKay." He still sounded wrecked, worn out beyond believing. "McKay, lemme out of here. I... I've done what you wanted. Fuck..." His nose was bleeding again, a little.

Rodney reached down and dabbed a fingertip into it. "If I give up. If I put this all back, will you still chase me down to kill me?"

"What?" John always had been a little slow following head injuries and... well, anything as bodily demanding as what he'd just done. "You can't. You've blown up half the fucking western United States!"

"One city, and a desert base that was inhabited by squatters. They didn't believe me when I said what was coming. They didn't believe me when I told them what needed to be done. So instead of arguing, I did it."

Rodney didn't see what was so strange about that. It seemed pretty much par for the course.

"Fuck you, McKay. I know what you're planning." Sheppard was tugging at the chains, for all the good it would do him. "And I wanna know what the fuck you think you'll be eating when you've managed to convert all of Earth to bloodsucking assholes who've got the same plans for world domination you've got."

"It's a non-sustainable system," Rodney admitted, still not pulling back. Let John believe what he wanted. He wasn't stupid enough to spill out his real plan, and the one Sanders had mistakenly believed in was just as good as any other. "Which was why we were trying to tweak that gene. But it's easier to wholesale convert back than it is to get rid of that... nuisance of feeding."

He could see the way Sheppard's jaw clenched. "Leaving just you, then, I'm figuring."

"I'm tired of drinking people who aren't you. It's insane how tired I am." Grissom following him around like a red-cross nurse with his bags of blood, and that tasted worse, but it didn't have a face.

Not one that wasn't Sheppard's.

"Well, excuse the fuck out of me, but I'm not on the menu!" Yeah, except for the part where he was. John just didn't know it yet.

"Just once." Rodney leaned in a little more, smiling at John. The lie was so easy. "Just... the once."

It was good, watching him struggle desperately against the chains and ropes tying John to the chair. "Fuck you, no!"

"And then I wave the chemical wand, John. I turn everyone back. Without me as the catalyst, able to turn them in the first place, it will never happen again." Rodney leaned in, letting his fangs show, angling for John's neck.

"No!" No, but he couldn't go anywhere, and Rodney knew what would happen. He knew the chemicals that were released through micropores in the fangs that had grown in above his eyeteeth, that the first dose would make him drowsy, and exactly what the second dose would do.

He leaned in and took that bite, the first one, and tasted John, just tasted him. Tasted John finally and oh. Yes. Yes. This was what he'd wanted, this was what he'd been desperate to taste, and it didn't take long, not at all, to feel John start to relax, go limp beneath the onslaught of Rodney's teeth.

He sucked, saving the deep, highly spiced taste. Everyone tasted different, and John oddly reminded him of allspice and coffee or something. Deep and heady with that extra taste that lingered on his tongue. Rodney pulled back for a moment, swallowing and licking his teeth. "Well?"

Well. Those eyes were nearly closed, practically gold from the first bite and the exhaustion it brought on. His sigh was heavy, slow as he let it out, murmuring something practically unheard beneath his breath. "Zzzzmmkay. Nnnn."

"I've missed you. This immortal, super everything, it sort of sucks in ways I never estimated." Rodney leaned in again, to take that second bite. He could feel John try to rally, try to move and bring himself up, try to struggle, and fail. He failed, but it was still good for Rodney. Good to feel him. Good to taste his skin, almost salty against the flat of Rodney's tongue, and then he bit. Bit hard, and John gave a sound that was like pure pornography.

"Mmmph." He sucked, one hard suck, and then another, and then he stopped himself because he wasn't full but he was satisfied and John had already lost blood. Not a lot, but it was the first time in months that Rodney had felt sated -- not hungry, not pissed off that his food wasn't Sheppard. The fact that he could see John's hardon when he pulled back, well. That was another bonus.

"Fuuuuuck." Fuck was right, in so many ways.

"Should I?" Rodney shifted, moved to at least stretch out beside John. "You know the crazy thing? It kills the libido." Perhaps not entirely, but as far as he was concerned... well. It wasn't like he'd felt anything close to interest in that sort of thing in a very long time. It could work that way.

"'m gonna k-kill you. Kill you whenever..." A shudder rippled through John, long and steady.

"You won't." Rodney kissed the side of John's neck, licking up rivulets of blood. Just tiny drips, but they lingered on his tongue. "Do you want me to fuck you?"

"Yyyyeees." Ripped out from somewhere around the center of him, and he was still tied down, but that didn't mean Rodney hadn't made arrangements. Didn't mean he didn't know how to get John's legs open, didn't have a knife to cut off the BDUs.

He did. Low libido or not, when he tasted John a little more, touched more bare skin, he'd get more than well into it. He'd fuck John's brains out. "Oh yes. Yes, let's get you naked the lazy way."

Lazy. More like hot, because the knife was sharp, and when it first slid beneath the hem resting against John's right ankle, it parted the fabric with little more than a steady tug. "Fuck, oh, fucking, gonna, I, I..." Yes. Gibbering. Just the way Rodney wanted him, so keyed up to be nailed that he'd practically beg.

He would beg, even if he cussed and wailed and howled. John was going to be turned eventually, was going to be by his side throughout everything to come, even if he didn't believe he would. For now he had this, the clean slide of black through fabric, over muscle, stopping to lift because there were chains in the way.

"Jesus fucking..." Of course knives turned John on. What dangerous thing didn't turn him on would probably be the question with the least answers, considering his nature, and Rodney let his mouth spread in a grim smile as he reached up and pressed the palm of his hand against John's dick.

"You like that, don't you? Don't deny it. You've always liked it... interesting." Rodney shifted; reached between them with his free hand to pull his own pants open, because seeing John arch and squirm was enough to get him hard after all.

"Fuck you, McKay." It seemed to be the only word John was actually capable of using, but it didn't stop him from pushing against him, from writhing beneath the chains and ropes holding him down. "Fuck, fuck, fuck!"

"Do you have any idea how long I've wanted to have you again?" Rodney got his dick free, and then wished he had some useful ability. Levitation, self-lubing dick, something. "How long I've wanted to take your bony knees and push them back and fuck you until you fell apart, knowing you wouldn't have me anymore?"

Yeah. Yes, because John was panting, and Rodney's fingers curled around his cock with a familiarity that he hadn't been able to lose, to do anything about at all. "Oh Christ."

"Yeah, you want me to take you," Rodney murmured. "Dry, spit or lube Sheppard? You tell me."

"Just for Christ's sake FUCK me, you sadistic shit!" Oh, yes. Yes, Rodney knew it was like this, he'd heard. He'd on occasion suffered the advances of those he'd made the mistake of biting twice, in fact, but it had never made him hard. It had never made him want, and damn, Sheppard had always done that.

Rodney spit in his hand, once, twice, and reached down to rub it between John's ass cheeks. "Hold on, you impatient..." Eager, hot, and he could see that John's eyes were mostly pupil, wide and blissed out, the way he'd looked the handful of times they'd been drugged off-world.

It wasn't enough to dampen Rodney's ardor, not any more than the curses still fumbling their way between John's lips. He almost seemed unaware of them, the same way he was unaware that he was still halfway clothed, the rags of his pants splayed and twisted around him as Rodney pushed and moved him where he wanted him.

It was hard with the chains, but he still got John to move, right, got enough room to spit on his dick one last time before he pressed the head between John's cheeks, nudged up against his hole.

John was whining, high pitched and desperate in the back of his throat, pushing up, and it was dry for Rodney's taste, catching uncomfortably, but at the moment, he didn't care. He was too busy concentrating on getting in, into John, and fuck whatever Sheppard thought about it. He was hungry and he could consider everything later, start to finish to the real finish, because then he was sliding into John for the first time in too long. It shouldn't have surprised him that John felt stupidly tight, that the sound of him was different now, aching, and John was almost coming back to himself now. He should have gotten lube, obviously, but it didn't matter now. Rodney was too busy, too hot. He'd missed John too much to stop now.

It wasn't as if it was going to take long. It wasn't going to be a long drawn out fuck, not with his hand on John's cock, jerking him off quickly, thrusting in and out as fast as he could manage because god, John. John, and it had been so long since he'd wanted... wanted anything, wanted anyone, and he should have known that Sheppard would be the one that fixed that problem.

John tensed, yelled, and he was coming into Rodney's fist, clamping down around his cock, and it was enough to make Rodney fuck him harder. Just a few more strokes, desperate, fast motions that made John push against him while Rodney fisted his fingers around John's dick, semen slick, and then he hunched closer against John, savoring the strange feeling that was orgasm while transformed. It was better than before, longer, a sensation that slid from his balls to the base of his spine and then up and down his body like a high-speed train.

This was almost worth everything that had happened. This moment, and John was still shaking beneath him, a wrecked mess. "Fuck. Oh, Christ. Oh my god."

He shifted, started to pull out slowly because John was still squeezing around him and it had to be hurting him. "Yes."

Yes, and he could see it, that secondary exhaustion Gil had talked about coming over John. His eyes were drooping, and within a small amount of time, he was breathing evenly under Rodney.

Now he needed to close his eyes and consider what to do while John slept.

Greg was still sleeping.

He'd be exhausted, of course. Gil remembered that, the sheer sick fatigue that had lingered for the first week or so. McKay had warned him about it, but he hadn't truly understood until afterwards. He wanted to be there when Greg woke up, though. That would be important, being there, talking to Greg about it, how they hadn't, he hadn't, had another choice.

"Do you think he'll forgive you?"

Of course. There was McKay, lurking in the dark, waiting to see what would happen next. Damn him.

"Would you?"

"With time, I would." He was leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest. "Will you forgive me?"

That was the question, wasn't it? "Eventually." After all. Part of who he was, what they were, was a certain dispassionate sense of what had to be done. In the end, there wasn't much choice. He and McKay were wrapped up in changing the world, for better or for worse. It wasn't an association easily cut.

"All right. I'm going to be turning Sheppard, in time. I'm going forward with that meeting we had with Mexico. They're tracking the nuclear wind contamination from Eureka."

Gil nodded slowly, still watching Greg. He hadn't been healthy enough for the conversion, so he felt obligated. "I assume Gomez-Alvarez is prepared to accede to your wishes, given proper... encouragement."

"I don't really see any problems forthcoming. Old communists, I can deal with." Rodney moved from the doorway. "Rest, Gil. It's over for now. I'm sorry about your boy."

Well. As sorry as McKay could be, he supposed. "You'd better be careful with Sheppard. He's fairly determined, you know. It would be a shame if he killed you before everything was in place." Gil knew Plan B was firmly on track and rolling, and it was for the best. The red herring he'd given Greg was ridiculous and implausible.

Humans were much easier food than the effort required to convert pig's blood to something palatable or nutritious.

He supposed that was how the Goa'uld began, from the records he'd read. There were always wars between the classes, a hierarchy to society. Even insect society. "He's wrapped in chains and sedated. But I appreciate your concern."

"Mm. Well. I doubt the international community fears me as much as they do you. We'll get the work done faster if you're living." The term being relative.

Rodney laughed, and moved towards the door. "We'll get the work done soon. And when we're stable, I dial the alpha site." Once they dug the gate out of its well-guarded box of sand, they could start there. Plan B was a good one.

Gil hoped Plan C and domination fell into place as well. "Let me know when we leave for Mexico. And, of course, what Stark and Deacon find out. I'll be here."

"Of course." Of course he'd be there. McKay left then, left Gil with his sleeping lover, left him to contemplate the weight of everything that might happen now. Everything that would happen, because he wasn't sure there was a force in the world that could stop Rodney McKay. There hadn't been so far.

He didn't think anyone would be able to stop him. Ever.

As long as he kept his focus, and Gil could provide that. Keep Sheppard from throwing McKay off track, from wavering. He would, Gil was sure of it, make McKay waver, but as long as he didn't do more than contemplate....

In the end, they'd be victorious.