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Dr. Rodney M. McKay, or Rod to his friends, stared out at the horizon from the balcony of Atlantis. He’d been in this version of the city of the Ancestors for almost three days. From his limited explorations, the city wasn’t that different from his own. Sure there was a slight color difference in the walls, and the layout of a few rooms was not the same. The most striking difference he seen so far were in the faces of the people he knew and in the faces he didn’t recognize. Overall though, it was Atlantis but it didn’t feel like home.
He’d been working with their version of Rodney McKay on a bridge project when Colonel John Sheppard came to drag him away to hit a few golf balls. And wasn’t that the strangest thing he’d encountered since coming here. John Sheppard. So similar to the John Sheppard he left behind in the other universe but different in ways he couldn’t count. His John Sheppard was hard and bitter about the disappointments life had given him.
He glanced down at his wrist. His John Sheppard. What a joke. It was too late for what might have beens. He only had regrets at this point.
Rod was startled out of his thoughts as Colonel John Sheppard asked as he prepared to strike at the ball. “So were you and he involved?”
Rod didn’t need to ask whom Colonel Sheppard was referring to. “No. Why do you ask?”
Colonel Sheppard asked, “Then what’s up with the tattoo on your wrist?”
“It’s my soul mate mark.” Rod shrugged his shoulders as he took the club and positioned himself at the tee.
“Soul mate?” John asked like he didn’t understand what Rod meant by soul mate.
Rod just looked back at him.
“Soul mate?” John asked again.
Rod blinked at him and straightened up from the tee, puzzled. “Eh? You know Soul Mates. The whole SMG thing? I don’t know. Maybe you call it something else here.”
“SMG?” John probed him for more info.
It suddenly dawned on Rod. “You don’t know what the SMG is?” He never even considered a universe that didn’t have soul mates.
John shook his head in denial. “No. What is it?”
Rod started to explain, “The SMG is the soul mate gene. Surely you’ve heard of it before?”
“Not outside of fan fiction.” John told him.
Thinking to himself, crazy alternate universes. Rod snorted and prepared himself to start a mini-lecture. “The Soul Mate Gene is just that. It’s a genetic marker that identifies someone’s soul mate. It activates during early puberty and identifies a name when that person just about ends puberty. Before the Star Gate Command, no one knew where it came from of course.
Not everyone on Earth has the marker. A few fruitcakes in history, religious persecution, famine, disease, kept the numbers to a relatively small population. However, the number of individuals with the SMG started increasing with population booms. Now, roughly 70% of the population has the gene.
We know more now that the Star Gate came into play and we found out about the Ancients. While not public knowledge, SG scientists know that the Ancients had the gene and the trait was passed down to their descendants on Earth. Not everyone is ATA active but they have the soul mate gene.”
John appeared to take his time packing up the golf equipment. “What name did your John have on his wrist?”
Rod glanced away from him.
“Yeah, thought so. Your leaving like you did was a really shitty thing to do him.” John told him.
Rod just stared back over the horizon and nodded. He was beginning to realize that.
He thought more about what Colonel Sheppard said as Rod readied himself for bed that night. Colonel Sheppard and Dr. Sheppard couldn’t be more alike and still have similarities. They way walked, the lazy drawl to the quick tempered statements.
The next day…
Rod stared into his counterpart’s eyes trying to share how important it was that he at least try to return home. “My John may be a know it all, but he’s mine. You of all people know what that means. I have to try.”
When he left his Atlantis he didn’t think there would be a way to return home and he’d been willing to live with it. However, with the discovery that the bridge was still open, there was a small chance that he could return using the connection and utilizing the Asgard beaming technology on the Daedalus which was still in orbit.
It was chance he had to take. The past few days on this Atlantis had been a revelation and it was better to try to go home then to live the rest of his life without John.
Thoughts of John swirled through his mind. Not the John of this Atlantis, but his John. The John that he left behind, knowing what they could mean to each other. This John was bizarre, not at all like Dr. John Sheppard, PhD, PhD, as he introduced himself to everyone he met. It was a habit Rod had spent years trying to break him of and he wasn’t about to give up now.
He handed the mini-computer to Rodney and went to the designated transport site. “Hermiod, I’m ready.” He nodded goodbye to Rodney and vanished in a white flare.
The next thing Rod saw was the lab with Radek, John, Elizabeth, and Jeannie at the central computer. He closed his eyes in relief that he returned. He knew he was in a world of grief over the decision to leave.
What Rod didn’t expect upon returning home was the punch to the face and then darkness as his head hit the floor.