Carson looked up as John walked into the lab where he was working. He tensed for just a split second, before he made himself relax. Warring instincts made it tricky having a herd stallion at his age. Carson's reflexes told him that he should be challenging John -- or staying the hell away from him. But it was impossible to do the latter, and Carson didn't want to do the former. His instincts were also telling him something else entirely, and it was those he tried to encourage.

John wasn't walking over right away; he'd stopped and talked with Sharon, showing a polite interest in the work she was doing. John had started doing more of that after he'd realised he owned the lot of them. The humans, of course, didn't know why -- but Carson had overheard a lot of amused and appreciative comments about John's new interest in the civilians' well-being.

None of them realised why, of course, and Carson knew none of them would be likely appreciate John's point of view if they found out. For himself, Carson supposed that he would get used to wanting to submit to him and that it would be a hell of a lot easier now that John had finally got a clue. He had to admit that he envied Radek, a bit. Radek didn't have any trouble at all submitting -- but Radek was rather more oriented that way than Carson was. Carson had always known he was bisexual, but Radek was pretty much completely gay, and as such his instincts allowed him to freely accept being owned, as a mare would be.

On the other hand, Carson didn't envy Bates, at all. Will Bates would certainly have become herd stallion himself, if John hadn't been the one to kill Sumner. For weeks, after, Carson had expected Bates to challenge John. But he hadn't, and Carson had eventually got up the nerve to ask him if he were planning to. Bates had explained that under the circumstances, it wasn't an option -- but he'd be keeping an eye on John. If he proved himself incompetent, matters would change.

After hastily reassuring Bates that he, himself, had absolutely no intentions of making any challenges, nor objecting to anyone who did end up in charge, Carson had settled back to watch what happened. John had slowly grown used to being the ranking military officer, and after several false steps had finally shown himself to be pretty good at being in charge.

Bates had relaxed, and when Carson had gone to tell him that John had only just twigged to his real status, Bates had only rolled his eyes. But he'd kept to his word and not offered John a challenge. Theirs was a delicate truce, Carson knew, but they seemed content to just avoid one another as much as possible.

Finally, John made his way over to Carson's worktable. He leaned against it, casual and relaxed. Carson gave him a smile. "What can I do for you, Major?"

John rubbed the side of his nose, and glanced around. "I was hoping I could get you to fly a jumper this afternoon."

Carson looked at him in surprise. "Why can't you fly it?"

"I'll be in another one. Radek has this... thing, he wants to test the jumpers. He needs one control, and one experimental -- don't worry, I'm flying the one he'll be messing with. But you and Bates will be in the other jumper."

Swallowing his immediate protest about flying, Carson gave him an inquisitive look. Surely it wasn't coincidence that John was taking the four centaurs out in jumpers?

John grinned, a little. "And if we have to set down on the mainland for awhile, stretch our legs..."

"I'll be there," Carson said, immediately. "As long as we can fly low to the ground?" he added. "Er, low to the water, rather."

"You can fly as low as you like," John said, grinning. "Meet us in the jumper bay after lunch."

Carson nodded, quickly. For the chance to go running, he'd fly -- not anywhere, but as far as the mainland, definitely. He hadn't had a chance to even be in centaur form outside his tiny quarters since they'd come to Atlantis; he didn't know if the others had, either. His quarters had barely enough room for a centaur to turn around in; his legs were starting to ache at the mere thought of getting to run.

John nodded and turned to go. "Thank you," Carson told him.

"Hey, gotta look out for my--" He stopped as Davis walked past.

Carson nodded. "I'll be there." Nothing short of a medical emergency would stop him. A thought occurred, and he asked, "Should I bring some brushes?" Their coats would, after all, get caked with dirt and sweat if they had enough time for it.

John's eyes grew wide. "You brought brushes?"

"Yes. Didn't you?"

"I didn't have room in my bag." John looked rather like he was about to pounce Carson right there, and mug him. "And I know Radek doesn't have any, either."

Carson grinned. "I'll just bring them along, then."

"Yes. Good. You do that." John's eyes looked like they were beginning to glaze over. Then he gave his head a sharp shake, and he stepped away. "I'm going to go...go. I'll meet you later."

Carson watched him walk out, then returned to his work. Tried to concentrate, but it was bloody difficult when all he could think of was running.



Radek was typing as quickly as he could. Yesterday, John had asked him to come up with a reason why the four of them should need to fly an uninhabited part of the mainland. By evening he had six project proposals, five involving the jumpers, and one admittedly very lame one involving potential sources of raw energy.

Unaware of the purpose of Radek's projects, Rodney had leapt upon two of the most interesting proposals, and was even now down here in the jumper bay playing with Jumper Three. Radek had set aside the two more boring and trivial proposals, and had recommended the remaining one to John. It was, at least, potentially useful to determine what effects certain types of modifications would have on the Jumpers.

But the primary advantage to the project was that it would require them to take two jumpers out for a flight -- possibly more than once. And a layover on the mainland would be nothing at all unusual, landing to compare the readings on the jumpers and make any tweaks to the modifications Radek was proposing. The disadvantage, of course, was that he would have to actually spend some time working on the jumpers once they'd landed, which would cut into his time to go for a run.

But given that the alternative was not going at all, Radek was perfectly happy to do the work. Besides which, John had informed him that Carson was apparently the most clever centaur in the galaxy and had brought a set of curry combs to Atlantis. A short run and a brushing was worth any amount of work Radek had to do.

He kept typing, needing to get the preliminary tables set up before the others arrived. He could hear Rodney, banging away at something and talking rapidly to Marie, the poor engineer tapped to assist him today. Radek stifled the urge to go see what Rodney was doing -- there would be time for that tomorrow. He couldn't get distracted, because in case someone asked, he had to be able to prove that he really was conducting the experiments they were purporting to do.

It wasn't as though they could say 'we wanted to go change into centaurs and run around.'

Radek heard John greeting Rodney. He saved his report to the PC tablet, then set it aside. Stepping out of the Jumper, he found Sergeant Bates and Carson waiting nearby, both trying to look as expressionless as possible. Bates was shifting from one foot to the other, as though he would break into a sprint as soon as John gave the word they could go. Carson looked like he was thinking about the fact he would have to fly, first.

"You know, I'd be happy to take a puddlejumper," they heard Rodney say. Each of them tensed, looking over as Rodney followed John towards them.

"That's okay, Rodney. You have stuff to play with here," John told him.

Rodney frowned. "It isn't playing. It's important research into -- not that it isn't fun, of course. But I would hardly call it--"

"Rodney, have you found out whether we can incorporate the new systems into the Puddlejumpers?" Radek asked, interrupting him smoothly.

"Well, not as such. It looks promising, and I'm sure we can figure it out. I'm actually thinking we need to try the secondary scanners, first, instead of the additional weapons, just because it won't make as much difference if it doesn't work. That is to say we won't blow ourselves up testing it. I think."

"I would be happy to take a look in the morning, and see what you have," Radek said, nodding. The subtle hint would be obvious to the other man, that Rodney might not have anything ready by then.

"In the morning? I'm not sure... well, I can probably.. yes, morning will be excellent. You're all going, then? Have fun." Rodney wandered back towards the other Jumper, talking to himself.

"Was that nice, Dr. Zelenka?" Bates asked, grinning. "He's gonna be there all day, now."

"It keeps him out of trouble," Radek said, shrugging. "As much as is possible, that is."

"Which is to say, not at all," John said. "So -- we ready to take off?"

They all nodded eagerly. Bates and Carson headed over to Jumper Two and Radek followed John into Jumper One. He stayed in the rear compartment, preparing the tablet interface for the flight. He could hear John talking to the control room, telling Dr. Weir they were ready to go.

Radek was actually a bit surprised they had convinced her to let them do this so quickly -- or at all, given the crises with the Wraith. But if they were able to make modifications to the jumpers, they might be able to use them more effectively to scout, as well as fight the Hive ships. It was, he thought, a long shot. And really, they were going out to spend the afternoon off from work -- logically, Radek knew it was a good, healthy thing to take a few hours off. Emotionally, he wasn't quite convinced.

But he was not about to argue with John. He braced himself as the jumper rose from the floor of the docking bay, thinking not for the first time that two feet was really a very poor design. He didn't think John would mind if he changed, now, but he wasn't sure he wouldn't hit his head on the ceiling.

He focused his attention on his work, and quickly got caught up in the project for real. It was with some surprise when John's voice interrupted him.

"You ready to land?"

Radek looked over, blinking. "Land?" It would explain the slight feeling of nausea, of course, if they were above ground. But -- he looked through the doorway to the forward compartment, at the front screen. Blue sky. He walked forward and took a better look. There was land up ahead. "We're here already?"

John looked up with a smirk. "We've been flying for half an hour, Radek. But that would explain why you didn't answer any of my questions."

"You had questions? I'm sorry. What did you want to know?"

But John laughed and shook his head. "I was just making conversation. Don't worry -- talking Carson through the flight kept me entertained."

Radek nodded. "That is really too bad, that he has the gene that allows him to fly." He frowned. "How is it--"

"I already asked him," John said. "Far as we can tell, both of us had human ancestors at some point. Well, Atlantean ancestors." He grinned. "But we'd apparently have to test more centaurs to determine if it's a fluke, or not."

Radek nodded. "So we are landing soon?"

"Give me two more minutes and we'll be safely on the ground." John turned his head around, facing the flight controls.

Walking up behind his seat, Radek watched their approach. "I am not worried about crashing," he said.

"I wasn't planning on crashing," John said, voice drawled out with sarcasm. "I just thought you might not be enjoying being so far above ground."

"If I were human, I would have already thrown up twice. As it is, I did not eat lunch and I focus very hard on my work."

"Oh." John glanced back. "As long as you're all right." His casual words did not disguise the real concern; Radek found himself smiling.

"We should worry more for Carson, who had only flying to distract him from flying."

"Yeah, I know." The teasing had gone from John's voice. "I-- okay, there's a good landing spot. Hang on."

Radek grabbed onto the back of his chair and said, "I thought we were not crashing. Why should I hold on?"

"Don't make me flip us," John threatened.

"Don't make me prove centaurs *can* throw up," Radek returned, calmly. He would not, of course, but in the few minutes since he'd stopped working he had begun to feel the effects of being in the air. He felt very sorry for Carson, and wished the Atlantis team did not require the doctor's services as a pilot quite as often as they did.

But perhaps a good, long run would help him, and be worth coming back out here again. In the meantime, Radek decided he would come up with a project that would allow them all to travel in the same Jumper and let John do all the flying.

They landed smoothly, and Radek waited for the ramp to descend. As soon as it did he went outside, looking around as the others joined him. Bates looked as though the flight had not disturbed him much, but Carson was frowning and breathing rather fast. John walked over to him, placing a hand on the back of Carson's neck.

"You all right?"

"I will be," Carson said.

"You wanna change and let me brush you down?" John offered.

"Oh." Carson's face lit up underneath the paleness. "That would be lovely." He sat down and began removing his boots. Radek turned slowly, looking over the surrounding area. There were trees and low hills in one direction, almost three hundred meters off. The rest was flat, if rocky, ground. Radek began removing his own boots, and saw Bates doing the same.

"You two go ahead," John told them. "Stay without shouting distance; I don't want to use our radios, in case Atlantis is listening in."

"Yes, sir," Bates said, nodding. Then he changed, and waited. Radek changed quickly and moved away from the Jumpers. Bates came up beside him and pointed towards the line of trees, at the edge of the line of hills. "Let's head that direction."

It seemed a fair compromise between dodging rocks, and getting out of earshot in a shallow valley. Radek nodded, and the second after Bates leapt into a gallop, Radek was off as well.



John watched them go, noting their speed and direction. Then he turned his attention back to Carson. He'd changed forms already, but looked only slightly better for it. John went over to the bag Carson had dropped by the edge of the ramp. He dug through it, finding the brushes easily.

As he walked back to Carson, he saw that the other centaur was already breathing easier, calming down quickly. "Sorry about the whole flying thing," John said as he stepped up beside him. "Maybe there's some old parks or something in Atlantis that we haven't found yet."

"Aye, maybe. As long as we can... oh that's... I... long as we can... avoid being found..." Carson sighed, deeply.

John grinned and ran the brush down Carson's flank again. His coat was a blue-roan, a sharp contrast to John's own black coat. It hadn't surprised him to see Bates' dark bay coat -- but Radek's rich, warm chestnut had been unexpected. Usually a centaur's colouring stayed the same, form to form. It seemed to suit him, though, even if his tail didn't match the hair on his head.

It had been awhile since John had done this, and brushing Carson was making it hard to ignore the fact that he was going to get one soon, as well. He had to shake his head, to concentrate. He kept brushing, noting that Carson's coat really didn't need it. But of course that wasn't the reason he was doing it, now. He asked, anyway.

"Who brushes you down?"

"Hmmm?" Carson raised his head and looked back, blinking. John realised with a wince that he'd probably just woken Carson up.

"Looks like you get brushed a lot more often than I ever manage. Which would be easy, since that would be 'any time in the last twenty years.'

"Oh. Well, I can brush the upper part of my own back," he said, twisting around to demonstrate how he could reach. "And whenever I visit my mum, we brush each other."

John blinked. "Um. How do you... um." Maybe it would be really fucking rude to ask *that* particular question.

Carson grinned. "Deal with the 'fall asleep, wake up ready to fuck anything that moves' problem? She has a boyfriend, and I just head down to the pub, after. Either I find someone to take me home, or I get drunk enough I don't mind."

John blinked some more. "I can't believe you still see your mom."

"Aye. It's nice." He looked at John, a bit sadly. John wasn't sure if it was because now, trapped as they were in Pegasus, he couldn't see her anymore -- or if it was sympathy for him. John went back to concentrating on brushing Carson down, even though he seemed to be recovered from the flight.

He did as complete a job as he could, brushing down Carson's legs and even running his fingers through Carson's tail. Carson didn't say anything -- he'd gone to sleep while John was brushing his belly.

When he was done, John walked silently over to the extended ramp, and sat down to remove his own boots and pants. He could hear hooves in the near distance, and smiled. He thought about joining them and getting his brush-down afterwards. He changed forms and stretched his legs, moving around a little as he considered taking off to join Radek and Will.

"Your turn?" Carson asked, muzzily.

"I can wait," John offered. "If you're still unconscious."

"No, I'm fine." Carson sounded more awake, and after a moment he went over to where John had left the brushes. He changed forms and picked them up, and brought them over.

John could barely stand still. "I ought to warn you," he began.

"You haven't been brushed in two decades," Carson said -- in a scolding tone.

"I-- it isn't like I could bring a date home and ask them hey, you mind if I change into a centaur?'" He didn't glare at Carson, though, because despite the scolding, Carson was starting to run the brush firmly down John's back. "Oh, god," he groaned. "I... know you don't... when I wake up, if you want to get Radek..." It was already really hard to think clearly.

"I don't mind," Carson said, quietly. "I... think I'd rather like it, in fact."

John turned his head and found Carson determinedly not meeting his gaze. "Yeah?"

Carson glanced up, and gave him a hesitant smile. "If you want. If you'd rather have Radek--"

"No, no. This is good." He found himself grinning like a sap. Carson nodded as his smile grew warmer. John watched him for about two more strokes, then realised he wasn't going to stay awake any longer and turned back around.

This was possibly the most fantastic thing he'd ever felt, he thought, before everything went black and he was sound asleep.

He woke up and smelled a centaur nearby. A happy, relaxed, faintly aroused centaur. A centaur who was *his*, and John was hornier than he had ever been in his life. He looked over and saw Carson watching him. Carson. Good. Human form, which was fine. John changed and moved forward.

Carson caught his arms as he got near, and John bore them both down to the ground. There was a flash of cloth; someone had laid a blanket down. Good, excellent, John moved into position. Carson was raising his legs and John leaned in, found himself sliding in easily. Carson had got himself ready, he realised, then John thrust forward and was fucking him.

His world was Carson, and fucking. The distant sound of his own voice and the smell of heat and sweat couldn't overcome the feel of his cock slamming into Carson's ass, over and over. Couldn't overcome the smell of musk that drove him nuts, couldn't overcome the panting and shouting of the other centaur beneath him.

John kept pounding him, thrusting as hard as he could. Holding onto something, something firm and moving with him. It was wonderful, fucking fantastic, and John felt like he would never, ever get enough.

He leaned down and bit, hard, finding the flesh in his mouth and hearing the gasp and groan, feeling the way Carson yielded under him and it was driving him on, pushing him harder than his own body, pushing into Carson. Slamming again, and again, and John could feel it -- soon, and they still rocked back and forth violently with each new thrust. John leaned his head back and screamed, coming finally with a sensation that was almost like being in free-fall.

Catching himself with his hands, John didn't quite collapse onto Carson, after. He pulled out carefully, then leaned down and gave Carson a hard kiss. There was a sticky mess all over their stomachs, and John laughed. "I'm *really* glad you thought to bring brushes."

"Oh, aye. Very glad." Carson sat up as John moved back onto his heels. He wriggled a bit and looked absolutely delighted. "Ready to go for a run?"

"Oh, gods yes." John stood up and moved away from the blanket; Carson used it to wipe himself clean before standing and changing, as well. John was practically prancing, unable to wait much longer. He couldn't hear Radek and Bates running, and he frowned.

Carson trotted up beside him and they took off. John headed in the direction the others had initially gone. He was pretty sure they wouldn't have gone too far and they knew this planet didn't have dangerous predators.

It was likely that they'd known what he and Carson were doing and had just left them to some pretense of privacy. They came over the crest of a low hill, and John spotted them in the distance. Bates waved; they were just standing, waiting for them.

He and Carson raced towards them and came sliding to a halt.

"Enjoy yourselves?" Bates asked with a grin.

"Hell, yes. If you're nice I'll let someone brush you, too." John gave him a glare without any heat -- he felt too damn good to pretend he was annoyed.

"No offense, Major, but I'm not really hoping to get nailed, afterwards," Bates said easily. "I don't see you letting me have one of yours."

John shook his head. "Not a chance. But nobody says you can't jerk off by yourself." Bates nodded in easy agreement, and John felt that subtle settling, once again. Every time he and Bates talked, he could feel that adjustment. Their relationship was, as far as he knew, unique. Even the other herd stallions he'd heard of around North America, the ones with humans or half-humans in their herds, had nothing like this.

The only thing that came close was the kid he'd heard of, who had trained as an apprentice before taking over in peaceful exchange. No challenge at all, the herd stallion just stepped aside and let the other take over. Of course, the first herd stallion had had a human family he'd gone back to. John had an odd mix of stallions and humans for a herd, and he had Bates whose only reasons for not challenging him was essentially because there was no way to hide the body.

But he was apparently content for the moment to take John's orders, and John had every intention of making sure neither of them regretted it.

"How long are we staying out here?" Bates asked.

John looked at his watch. They'd already been on the mainland for an hour. "Probably another hour before anyone starts wondering where we are."

Bates nodded. "In that case, I'd like to collect my brushing now. So I have time to sleep it off." He winked.

"Sounds good." John looked at Radek, about to suggest the two of them go back. He stopped, stunned to notice how unhappy Radek suddenly was. He'd guessed, no doubt, that John was going to suggest he and Bates brush each other while John and Carson got in their run.

And while they'd made it clear that Bates wasn't having sex with anybody but himself -- that left Radek in the same situation.

John frowned, instantly just as unhappy about that as Radek. "Come on. I'll do you both."

Radek looked surprised. Bates looked from him to John, slightly confused for only a second. Then, to John's surprise, he smiled fondly. John raised an eyebrow at him and he shrugged. "It's only fair you claim him, too."

The approval in his voice was obvious. John felt like his brain was still trying desperately to catch up with his reality. But -- instinct told him that he knew exactly what Radek wanted, what he *needed*.

And instinct was apparently telling him that John wanted it to -- because as soon as he stopped trying to think it over, he found himself stepping forward and taking Radek by the shoulders, then kissing him.

Radek's mouth opened easily under his, John's tongue sliding into Radek's mouth and tasting him. He could feel Radek moving slightly, shifting his weight from side to side. He tasted...like nothing John would have expected. He tasted the way he smelled, John realised.

The way he smelled made John think 'mine.'

He heard a cough, behind him. "You think they're gonna need the brushes?"

Carson laughed. "Come on, I'll brush you. We'll see if they make it back in time."

There was the sound, then, of two centaurs galloping away. Then there was only Radek, in front of him, close and ready.

He wouldn't have expected to be ready himself again, so soon, but John broke the kiss and pushed at Radek, nudging him to turn around. Radek did so and once more John found the last of his coherent thoughts slipping away. He reared up, slammed into Radek and shouted, once more.



"Here," Carson said, holding out a small packet.

John frowned at it. "Wha--" He stopped, and swallowed. "What is it?"

Carson grinned. "Throat lozenges."

"Oh, good." John grabbed them and tore the packet open. "Ow." He rubbed at his neck.

"Yes, well, that'll teach you," Carson said, not sounding at all like he expected John to behave any differently next time.

"Maybe we should just come out here two at a time," Will suggested. He felt really fucking terrific. Even being around John wasn't making him feel pissed off. He knew it was the brushing -- Dr. Beckett had really good hands. He didn't know if it was from being a doctor, or if it was just the way he was.

Either way, he told himself he was going to go out of his way to be nice to the doc. Just in case.

Dr. Zelenka was sitting down to put on his boots, wincing. He looked rather smugly pleased about it, too. Will didn't blame him. John had been their herd stallion for quite a while, now, and this was the first time he'd done anything to let the other two know that he really wanted them.

Will didn't care that John hadn't claimed him -- he wouldn't have argued if John had pressed the matter, but he really hadn't wanted to take another male that way. John had realised that, though, and the fact he was being conscientious about Will made him think that maybe John was going to be all right as his herd stallion.

Submitting to someone else wasn't new to him. Hell, he'd joined the Marine Corps and spent every waking second since being ordered around by loud humans. Most of them he'd accepted willingly, realising that they knew their stuff. The ones that hadn't earned his respect tended not to have anyone else's, either, and Will hadn't ever stayed under their commands for long.

Being assigned to the SGC had been the best move of his career. Colonel Sumner had been a damn good commander, and one Will had been happy to submit to. Coming to Atlantis was probably as mind-blowing as he imagined it was for any human, and being here -- well, he was willing to put up with John, in exchange for the privilege.

He looked over as Dr. Zelenka stood up, bending backwards a little to stretch. He yawned, and Will heard the sound of his jaw popping. "That put you to sleep?" Will asked, curious. It did that to mares, sometimes. Every stallion he knew of was wide awake and ready to run, after sex. But he'd never met any gay stallions before.

But Dr. Zelenka shook his head. "I was up all night, working. The only reason I am awake now, is because of really good sex." He grinned.

"Thanks," John said, dryly.

"Oh, it was really good," Carson put in. "You did fine." He patted John on the shoulder in a very obviously placating manner. John gave him an even drier look.

Will was suddenly reminded of Patricia, the alpha mare from his home herd. She'd treated Corbett the same way -- smiling indulgently and treating him like a somewhat backwards colt. Will coughed, trying not to laugh.

"Next time, I'm coming out here with Bates," John said, sounding aggrieved. "*With* the brushes."

"You won't," Dr. Zelenka said, sounding utterly certain. "Because then you will have no one to fuck, after." He stretched his arms in front of him, and rolled his neck to one side.

"I could wait til I got back," John began.

Will and the others gave him flat looks. John scowled.

"Okay, not. I think it's time we got back to Atlantis."

"Yes, John," Carson said, and it was echoed almost exactly by Radek. Submissive -- indulgent, amused.

"Yes, sir," Will said, in as close an approximation to that tone as he could manage. He grinned at the sudden frown John gave him.

"I could have sworn that centaurs were *obedient*," he said.

"We're obedient!" Carson protested. Although it was clear from his tone that he wasn't taking John any more seriously than John had expected them to.

"Very obedient," Radek said, nodding. "For example, if you were to say 'Radek, go into jumper and lie down, I would do so instantly."

John frowned at him. "Radek, what is with you not sleeping at night like a normal centaur?"

Radek blinked. "Am engineer. There is work always, to be done. Not to mention there is Rodney, saying 'Oh, Zorlounko, could you do this one more thing?'"

"Remind me to have a talk with Rodney."

Will raised an eyebrow at him. "You really think you can get him to do what you tell him to?"

John paused. Then he shook his head. "No. But I'm pretty sure I can trick him into thinking it's his idea. I doubt he's been getting any more sleep than Radek, lately."

"He hasn't," Radek agreed. He shrugged. "With the Wraith on their way, there is too much to do."

They fell silent. Will knew they were all thinking the same thing. When John said, "Let's get back in the air," Will knew that they weren't going to be coming out here again -- not until the whole Wraith business was taken care of.

Will glanced over his shoulder at the hills as he followed Carson towards the jumper. It had been worth it. One perfect afternoon, even if they didn't get another for awhile. Even a long while. He was used to it -- living with Marines who noticed if you went sneaking off alone in the middle of wherever, and didn't come back for an hour. He'd gone long stretches without being able to change forms, and indulge himself. This would just have to last him, until they could make another chance.

He walked up the ramp and headed for the co-pilot's seat. He glanced over at Carson, who was already frowning unhappily.

"Hey. You'll be okay." It was actually a pretty lame thing to say, but Carson smiled, and nodded. Will added, "And if not, I don't mind crashing into the water."

Carson rolled his eyes. "Oh, thank you for that thought. Or don't you get seasick, too?"

"Hell, yeah, I get seasick." Will settled himself in, checking over the few systems that would turn on for him. "So don't crash."

"I'll try not to," Carson agreed. Will looked over and saw him looking out, a sad, yearning expression on his face.

Maybe Will would get a contingent of Marines together and get on with exploring more of the city. There had to be a park somewhere -- unless the Ancients teleported to the mainland. In which case -- finding *that* would be just as good.

"You ready?" John's voice came over the radio.

"Aye," Carson answered. Quietly, he added, "As I'll ever be."

Then they heard John calling Atlantis. "Jumpers One and Two, we are ready to head back to Atlantis."

Dr. Weir's voice came over the radio. "We read you, Jumpers One and Two. How did it go?"

Will and Carson looked at each other. They heard the hidden amusement in John's voice as he replied, "Everything went fine. You'll have our reports... uh... tomorrow."

"Understood, Major. See you soon." Weir clicked off the radio.

Will smiled. "What do you wanna bet, he's already sound asleep in the back of the jumper?"

Carson shook his head, grinning. "Nothing at all."

Then he lifted the jumper into the air, and Will found it easier to just not say anything at all.

Although he did sort of wish centaurs could vomit.

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