Elizabeth knows that what she sees has to be real, has to be, has to be, has to be, because the alternative is that she, and the rest of Atlantis, were loosing their minds.
Which is a distinct possibility, she thinks, looking at the two most senior officers in the city after her. Both are seated on beds in the infirmary, naked from the waist up, as Carson and his team poke, prod, and try to figure out what the hell has happened to them.
Rodney's indignant howl cut through the air, pulling her from her thoughts. “OW! Damn it, Carson! That's attached you know.“ She watched as her Chief Science officer's eyes flashed sky-blue for a moment, before pulling his wing, HIS WING! out of the physicians's grip and wrapping it tightly around his chest, the claws on the first joint catching like fingers with it's mate on his other wing, before laying like a cloak against his chest.
From his position on the bed across from Rodney, John's own wings give a sympathetic twitch, before he jumped and glared at Dr. Alten, who, judging by her guilty expression, had probably poked a little too hard on John's tail for the soldier's liking.
Elizabeth closed her eyes and put her hand on the bridge of her nose, squeezing hard. Wings. Tails. Her two senior officers have wings (remarkably bat like wings, in that they were a leather tough, thin skin-like material stretched over bone, versus feathers), had tails (thick, more reptilian like tails, rather than one like a bird's or a cat or dog's), had spikes growing on their elbows and kneecaps (no explaining that one), and had grown in height, thanks to their new legs and feet. Nearly a foot and a half. In fact, both men were taller than Ronon now. Teyla barely made it up to their armpits. Carson had theorized the longer foot and clawed toes made for better shock absorption for when they landed, like springs loaded into the legs. Lorne commented that the two men looked like the gargoyles on some Disney cartoon from the nineties, but refused to admit how he knew that.
A deep, rumbling growl had her eye's flying open. From their positions around the room, Marines snapped to attention, P-90's up and aimed. Carson and his team were backing away from Rodney slowly, hands held up, trying to project as an unthreatening air as possible. Elizabeth gave a tiny gasp of protest as Lorne reached out and jerked her behind him, Beretta out and aimed in his other hand. She could see Carson and the rest of his team in similar positions around the room.
Rodney, for his part in whatever had happened, was sitting straight up, eyes locked forward, his eyes glowing a deep sapphire, hands fisted so tightly on the edge of the table his claws were digging into the material, leaving tiny scratches in their wake. As far as Elizabeth knew, the only thing they had that could damage Ancient artifacts like that were the plasma torches and diamond edged drills.
There was a sudden rush of motion, as John launched himself off of his bed, wings fluttering behind him as he placed himself between Rodney and the rest of the room. The Marines all tense again, but she waves them down when all John does is wrap his hands around Rodney's wrists and gently tug his hands loose from the bed. She couldn't hear what the two of them were saying to each other, as their voices had dropped down to nearly inaudible murmurs.
After a few minutes, John gave a low, throaty laugh, to which Rodney groaned and dropped his head forward onto the other man's chest. From her position behind Lorne, Elizabeth can feel the Major shift slightly, keeping both men in his sights while trying to keep her as behind him as he can manage. She feels him twitch as Sheppard lifts his head and looks back toward them, a smile on his face, fangs showing.
“It's okay, Carson. You didn't do anything wrong, at least, not on purpose.“ The tension levels in the room dropped slightly as Rodney slumped forward a little more, the stiffness leaving his frame, eyes returning to their normal shade of blue.
From his position behind his own Marine next to her, Elizabeth feels more than sees Carson take a deep breath before asking what was wrong. She feels her face flame red, and can see the color first drain, then come rushing back to Beckett's face as Sheppard explains.
“Uh...You see Carson, apparently, the undersides of our wings, where they join our backs, are... Well... You see, the thing is, there are a lot of nerves there, and it's an extremely sensitive area. When you brushed over it with your fingers, it was kind of like as if you had reached down and wrapped your hand around-“
“Thank you very much, Colonel! I think he get's the idea,“ McKay jumped in, thumping Sheppard none to gently on his shoulder. There's a tiny, collective wince as the room registers that if McKay had his any one other than Sheppard that hard, he probably would have broken bone.
Four hours later finds them all in the conference room, seated around the table, trying to figure out just what the hell had happened. Rodney got into a shouting contest with Zelenka over (of all things) whether the button that had triggered the device that caused his and Sheppard's transformation was blue or purple. It had started as arguing, flowed into shouting, degenerated into the two of them cursing at each other in French and Cezch respectively, and ended when Rodney had thrown his arms out in frustration, and nearly taken everyone's heads off as his wings flared out behind him.
“I think now would be a good time to take a break,” Elizabeth said, picking herself up from off the floor, giving Ronon a quick dip of her head in thanks for pulling her to the floor and keeping her from getting whacked in the head. Rodney nodded once, face pale and white, before wrapping his wings back around him and heading for the door. He jerked to a halt when the Marines stationed there got up to follow him. From his position a step behind Rodney, John turns and casts a pair of what her mother used to call 'Woobie eyes' at her. She can't help but think it makes him look like demented Precious Moments doll, all wide-eyed and yes, God help her, 'Woobie-ish'.
“I don't think that either Dr. Mckay, or Colonel Sheppard require guards at this time,“ she gives in with a sigh. ”Neither of you have shown a change of behavior, and while Carson isn't quite sure what it is you are exactly,“ she steadfastly ignored Lorne's muttered 'Gargoyle' and continued on. “He assures me that, from what he can tell, you two are in perfect health. Just, try to stay out of trouble?“ A tight nod from Rodney, and a bright, toothy smile from John were her answers. She really should have known.
Looking out from a balcony, twenty stories up from the ocean at the two figures currently doing aerial acrobatics in-between the spires on the East pier, the only though running through Elizabeth's head, I really, really should have known.
The smaller, slightly heavier figure has to be Rodney, who even with the added height his new body gives him, is still shorter than Sheppard, who just missed whipping out on a turret. There's a few seconds frantic flapping, as John tried to get air back in his wings, and after a good seven story drop, managed to even out and circle back around.
Rodney, meanwhile, has taken the opportunity to set himself up for a perfect dive-bomb at John, and the moment Sheppard's balanced out, the scientist gave a quick, sharp cry, folded his wings up behind his body, and pile-dived into John's back, plunging the two of them into the ocean with a tidal-wave making splash. There's a collective gasp from those who've gathered to watch, a good three minutes when absolutely nothing happens, and Elizabeth is just about call for a rescue team when Sheppard bursts from the ocean in a rush of wing and water, McKay a moment behind him. She could hear their laughter from her vantage point, but not the words that came after.
She watches as they tread water for a moment, before heading toward a low point in the Pier, where a ladder leads up out of the ocean, arms propelling them forward, tail acting as a rudder, wings tucked in tight against the skin of their backs.
Thank GOD they can still swim, is her next thought, followed by a feeling that she is intruding on something private between the two of them, as Sheppard reaches out and pulls McKay off the the ladder, and the two go under for a moment in a swirl of bubble, limbs and tails churning the water.
With an order to the marines and scientists that have gathered to gawk and gander to leave the two men alone, and waiting until they are actually gone, asking Ronon and Teyla to make sure they don't come back, Elizabeth heads back to her office to try to catch up on paperwork and reconcile with the scene she had caught just before the balcony doors closed shut. Of two winged bodies stretched out on the pier, arms pillowing behind heads, tails entwined.