Fandom: Heroes/Stargate Atlantis
Spoilers:up to (and including) Heroes 2x01 and SGA 4x01
Word count: 1000
Summary: When Micah first started talking to machines, they didn't talk back.
Notes: Written for the picfor1000 challenge. Blame can go to hannahrorlove. Thanks for the beta goes out to zulu. All else is my doing.
Podfic by reena_jenkins
Micah joins the SGC when he's twenty-four, a doctorate in electrical engineering under his belt, seven years after the world recognizes them for what they are. (Of course, recognizing is one thing, accepting is another thing entirely, and Micah likes the SGC best because they don't bat an eye when he uses his powers, not even the slightest flinch.)
He's hardly the smartest person to join the program, but he's definitely not the stupidest, and when they say they're going to send him to Atlantis, he smiles.
When Micah first started talking to machines, they didn't talk back. They just listened to him, did what he asked of them, but once, when he was fourteen, the traffic light on the corner of Williams and Main asked him to stop pressing down so hard on the button for the crosswalk. Micah had been so surprised he let go. He spent most of the next month apologizing to it, and in the end, it forgave him and always changed the light when he asked nicely.
He started listening after that, to the hard drive as it's dying, to the television when a show it particularly likes is on the air, to the cell phone as it makes a call.
One of the other scientists once asked Micah if the Ancient machines spoke in a different language from the Earth-based ones, and Micah had to explain that none of them speak in English or Chinese or Russian but a language of electricity, flowing through wires, through crystals, that the language is so beautiful Micah's just glad he can speak back.
One day, Micah wants to tell someone that the stargate sounds like it's singing as it's dialing, that it crescendos as the wormhole engages, that the first time he touched it, it told him the story of the first person who stepped through it, an Ancient scientist visiting PRK-141, who had none of the awe of the SGC away teams, none of the same fear and respect.
When he steps through it himself, for the first time, he asks it to wish him a safe journey.
The first thing the city says to Micah is, hello, welcoming him in, and it reminds him of the way his mom used to hug him, before things went bad, before his dad died, and he says, hi, back, pressing a hand against a wall.
The first person he meets is General Sheppard whose hair is a shock of silver, his hands lined with age and experience. "Welcome to Atlantis," he says, and Micah knows his story from what the SGC scientists say amongst themselves, that he came with the first expedition and never left, that he's still here because no one can make him leave, that he's not the only one who's stayed.
Micah can understand that now that he's met it, now that he's heard it speak.
It seems like everything in Atlantis is old, like everything has a story to tell.
The doors like to spread gossip, who's entered and who's left and at what times. The hallways talk of epic battles fought and won, the action that has transpired in their corridors. The puddlejumpers can describe a thousand different worlds to the tiniest detail, can try to explain what it feels like to fly through space. On one memorable occasion, the DHD tells him about the time SGA-1 came through the gate in traditional Gabrellian garb and the entire room burst out laughing. Micah laughs, too, which makes the gate tech look at him like he's crazy, but it's worth it.
The machines like him, Micah thinks, give him more control over them than even General Sheppard, because the ATA gene means that almost anyone can speak to them, but Micah's the first person who's ever listened to what they have to say.
There is a rumor that perpetually circulates through Atlantis that says that the city is alive, that it thinks and dreams and acts on its own.
What Micah wants to say is, of course it does; they all do.
There's a Wraith attack Micah's third week in Atlantis and he can hear the urgency of the city as weapons fire rains down on the shield. There's not enough power -- there's never enough power -- and the shield buckles as darts pour down from the sky.
Micah's in the chair room as it happens, listening to Dr. McKay bark out orders, watching as General Sheppard commandeers the chair. Micah's done a lot of things -- he's rigged an election; he's helped save the world -- but it's never been like this, never this controlled chaos of people and machinery.
He can hear the damage the city is taking (fix me, fix me, the walls plead), can hear the chair as it fires off drones, can hear the way electricity crackles along the walls like excitement. It sucks the breath out of him, even though this is not the first time, even though it's hardly the last.
When the dust finally settles, Micah's in the control room listening to the consoles brag about the other battles they've seen, how this one was nothing like the time the Replicators used an energy weapon on Atlantis, bad enough they had to fly away.
He watches as General Sheppard and Dr. McKay and Ms. Emmagen and Mr. Dex step into the gateroom, watches the way they touch the walls, with a reverence that Micah knows, that Micah understands.
"It loves you too," he says from the balcony.
They look up at him, surprised and confused, and for a moment Micah wonders if he's overstepped his bounds, but he presses on.
"Atlantis," Micah says, as the city whispers, yes, yes, tell them, tell them, "it loves you too."
The four of them share a look, and General Sheppard says, "Thanks for letting us know, kid," in a way that almost sounds dismissive, but Micah sees his smile as he says it, secretly pleased.