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Chopping up cardboard to finish a puzzle

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They assigned Scott to dad's room.

He wasn't sure why they thought he'd be any more able to rearrange dad's stuff than Sara had been.

It felt a lot like dad was going to walk through the door any moment now and ask Scott what the hell he was doing here.

It felt a lot like if he moved anything that illusion would shatter.

He shoved off the bed and wandered out of the room, leaving his stuff on the floor. Unless dad happened to have an empty drawer (unlikely), that was where it was going to stay for the foreseeable future.

Getting anyone to let him do anything was like pulling teeth.

Everyone kept telling him to rest and get better like he wasn't doing that while his sister was busy getting shot at by a species that had taken their entire template from a horror vid.

He had to go to Dr. Carlyle and make it really clear that he was going insane with nothing to focus on before they finally passed him some busy work.

He had a lot of expertise that could have been useful. His Master's thesis had been on hard light lattices and his half finished PhD research was on energy usage in blast shields. They used hard light for pretty much everything and energy consumption was kind of a big issue, so he'd been expecting to be eased onto those teams.

Instead, they'd given him the sort of coding issues that his dad usually unraveled.

It made sense. Who else was going to do it? Scott had learned how to code by peeking over dad's arm while he worked and sometimes getting enough of an explanation to figure out what to go look up. He'd published code in this language for similar (much simpler) applications, so even if they hadn't just been trying to replace dad then it wouldn't have been unreasonable to send him this sort of project.

There were probably only two people on the ship that had any hope of dealing with something like this in less than a couple weeks. If you narrowed it to the people who had clearance…this stuff had probably been waiting for Sara to work on it in her non-existent free time.

Dad could have done it in a few hours. It took Scott three days. He couldn't pull an all-nighter or Dr. Carlyle would notice, and he couldn't skip PT, but otherwise he worked on it. It was kind of nice to not have to focus on anything but lines of code.

He absentmindedly rearranged some of dad's desk and didn't realize it until a few hours later.

He sat back sharply when he noticed, staring at the desk, then carefully moved everything back to the original positions.

They didn't say anything about how long it had taken Scott to finish when he sent the adjusted code off to the team that needed it. They just spent three more days fussing about rest before finally giving SAM leave to set him up with a ticket system.

Half of the claimable issues were hard light or related to coding languages that Scott had used more recently than undergrad. He wondered if whoever was in charge of the tech teams knew, or if SAM had just taken the liberty of adding those projects. He claimed a dad-project for the next one anyways and wondered how disappointed they would be if he had chosen to focus on the things he was actually good at.

They were trying to replace Alec Ryder with his kids. It wasn't really possible. Even with Sara pulling off the impossible as Pathfinder and Scott doing his best to fill in the gaps here, it wasn't possible. Dad wasn't the sort of person you could replace with anything less than a few teams and even then you'd come up short.

He knew, in his bones, that if anyone in the Initiative could turn back time and somehow save Alec Ryder by having Scott die during that mission, they would do it. Even if it meant both Scott and Sara dying instead, they would do it. If it meant having the whole damn team die instead, they would do it.

The only person who would ever have chosen Scott or Sara over their dad, was their dad. And he was the one who got to make the choice.

Scott wasn't arrogant enough to think that he could have possibly changed how things happened. If dad hadn't seen it coming, who would?

It still felt like he should have been awake to try. Maybe if it had been him, instead of Sara, he could have convinced dad not to go through with the switch. Or maybe something as simple as positioning would have made it so dad got to them too late to even try. Maybe. Everything was maybe. There were no actual answers and no way to know if anything would have ever changed it.

The best case scenario would have been to leave them on the Hyperion where they couldn't get in the way.

Sara stopped in the doorway, eyed the unchanged room. She'd been in here before and didn't ask, so Scott wasn't sure why she was expecting him to suddenly decide to rearrange things.

"We could ask Liam to pack dad's things up for us," she offered, flopping onto the bed and totally ruining their unsaid truce where she didn't comment on the room and he didn't ask what the hell had happened on the Archon's ship.

"Or we could leave it. Forever. Eventually I'll be out of here."

It would have been nice if he could have actually come to help on something beyond coding projects. They'd gotten the same training, if he wasn't stuck in PT hell he should have been able to keep up. Instead he was here, useless.

"I could kidnap you and drop you on Aya," Sara suggested. "The Moshae would go for it. She likes nerds. We could call it an 'exchange of knowledge' and make Tann panic a whole lot."

"The diplomatic section would murder you." Scott snorted. "And I have work to do."

"None of what you've been working on is essential and the diplomatic section should thank me considering the rudeness I caught one of the nerds stationed there getting up to," she groused. "It's like they just picked names out of a hat without any sort of filter."

Scott tried to pay attention as she launched into the story. It was a bit more difficult than it usually was, with a Sara story, but he was pretty sure he managed to laugh at all the right parts.

Because, fuck, he knew everthing they were giving him to work on had been sitting there for months, but usually he could at least pretend to be useful.

In the end, rearranging the room was taken entirely out of his hands. First the Kett ransacked the place looking for whatever the fuck they were looking for while he was in piloting getting his neural pathways forcibly adjusted, then the ship crash landed.

It was hard to get overwhelmed by it with SAM in the back of his head, categorizing everything in the jumbled mess the instant Scott set eyes on it, but he was still tempted to say fuck it and just leave it. Nevermind how pissed dad would have been about that.

"I still say we should just make Liam pack it up," Sara said, clearly having come to the same conclusion.

"I have a list of Scott's belongings for transfer to the Tempest," SAM responded. "The rest can be categorized and packed. It can be sorted later."

Scott was tempted to point out that 'later' might very well be 'never', but he kept it to himself.

He was somehow a lot calmer surveying the mess than he was expecting. He was pretty sure that SAM was doing something to keep him calm, but he didn't particularly want to call the AI out about it.

"That solves that!" Sara declared, grabbing Scott's arm and pulling him back out of the room.

Immediately after the whole kidnapping mess, which he was trying not to think too hard on at the moment, Sara had decided that he was cleared to go onto the Tempest and bullied the Hyperion crew into releasing Scott's amp from storage.

He was pretty sure having the amp wouldn't have mattered, but arguing the point meant thinking about the thing he was definitely not thinking about, so he was left to watch his sister consolidate her people like… like dad had herded the two of them into the Initiative, in retrospect.

Lexi seemed to think that being surrounded by the chaos of the Tempest crew would be "steadying", for some reason. Dr. Carlyle seemed to think that staying on the Hyperion could be "traumatic". Scott had only found out that last bit by hacking into his own medical files so he couldn't argue with anyone about it, which made it extra annoying.

He wasn't sure why they didn't think he would immediately abuse having access to SAM. Sara probably didn't, much, but Scott had gotten a lot more of dad's ruthlessness.

With SAM connecting them, they were a lot closer to being one whole Alec Ryder.

Scott wondered, a little, if that was why no one had argued too hard when Sara said it wasn't worth the risk of disconnecting SAM from him even though they had to reconnect SAM to her. That was true… but despite how most of the Initiative seemed to have adjusted to Sara being their Pathfinder, he could still see Leadership looking for a ghost.