Rodney stood frozen, his body shaking and his heart pounding in his chest, watching the door to the transporter slide shut taking Sheppard with it. The words, if you really wanna try, echoed through his head in surround sound. Those particular words made it seem as if there was still hope, that Rodney would be able to eventually make things right and regain what he had lost. Both Sheppard’s trust and friendship, but Rodney knew the truth.
He would never be able to make things right. He had effectively ended a friendship that he valued above all others and he knew that nothing would fix that. Sheppard might be able to push his anger and disappointment aside to continue working with him, but he would never want to be friends with him again.
Rodney’s life just didn’t work that way. Eventually everyone left, if not by way of death, then by their own initiative. Rodney knew that he was hard to like, but he thought that here he’d finally turned a corner. That they’d seen him.
It wasn’t meant to be though. The best he could do now was work hard and keep his head down. He didn’t want to leave Atlantis, it was the first place in a long time that’d felt like home. He wasn’t sure he could go back to a life on Earth, devoid of the wonders that Pegasus had to offer.
He had spent a good portion of his life feeling adrift, tied not to any single place, but rather the people around him. Earth had never felt like home, he had always had the sense even as a child, that something was wrong, missing maybe. The moment he stepped through the gate and into Atlantis, the feeling went away.
He knew some of the others with the gene felt the same way, but in his case he didn’t think that the gene had anything to do with it. He’d felt it long before his gene was activated and unlike the others it didn’t go away when he went off world.
It wasn’t Atlantis that felt like home, it was Pegasus itself. And he couldn’t lose it.
Rodney startled at the sound of footsteps near him, realizing that he had been stood, staring at an empty transporter for longer than he cared to think about. He spurred himself into action and all but leapt into the transporter, selecting the main lab from the map in front of him. A brief moment of disorientation and the door opened onto the corridor near the labs, sounds of work echoing off the walls.
A deep breath proceeded his entry into the lab, with silence falling as each person took notice of him. He looked at them with no small measure of shame, the look of disdain on Zelenka’s face too much for him. His head dropped, his face heated, and he felt his eyes burn.
He forced himself to walk to his office, when he wanted nothing more than to run, and shut himself inside. The office was mostly bare of personal effects as Rodney preferred the actual lab and its workstations over the empty and quiet office. He dropped into the chair and ran his hands through his hair his eyes closed.
A soft knock had his eyes opening in worry and his heart restarted its pounding. His relief was palpable when Miko opened the door, a cup of coffee in her hands and a sympathetic smile on her face. He took the coffee gratefully, the strong bitter scent filling him with a sense of contentment. He smiled back at her after his first sip, thankful that apparently not everyone hated him.
Two months had passed in a haze of work and meaningless missions. He had been wildly surprised when he wasn’t removed from the team, but had been relieved. While he loved Atlantis he would have hated being stuck in the city, cutoff from the rest of Pegasus. Cutoff from his team.
He loved them, even if they didn’t feel the same and it would have been like having his heart cut out to be separated from them. As it was the coolness that both Sheppard and Teyla were employing made his chest hurt.
The cold burn of Sheppard’s anger and the disappointment in Teyla’s eyes were almost too hard to handle, might have been too hard to handle if not for Ronon. The teammate that he had the least in common with and knew the least was the one who had understood.
4 Days Post Doranda
Rodney sat down at a table near the windows in the cafeteria, as far from his regular table as he possibly could and still remain in the same room. He had taken his lunch the last few days in the labs, but Miko had convinced him to get out of the lab today and honestly it hadn’t taken much convincing.
The glares and mumbles of dissent from the other scientists was starting to get to him and he had desperately needed to get out. Only problem was that the glares and comments had continued outside of the lab as well. The military, the support staff they all looked at him like he was dirt.
He had nearly killed their golden boy, never mind that he would have died as well, and the result was a city wide cold shoulder. Well, except for Miko. And apparently Ronon.
Rodney frowned, one side of his mouth pulling down further than the other, as Ronon threw himself into the chair opposite along with a plate full of food.
“What are you doing?”
Ronon raised an eyebrow and looked down at his plate and then back up at Rodney as if to convey just how stupid he thought Rodney was.
“I meant, why are you sitting here? Everyone’s been giving me a pretty wide berth these last few days.”
“Not me.” Ronon looked at Rodney his eyes heavy lidded and started to shovel food into his mouth at a rate that astonished even him.
“Why?” Rodney was baffled at the non sequitur. It just didn’t make any sense.
Ronon huffed and set his fork, which Rodney was thankful he was finally using, down and leaned forward. “We’re team.”
A pressure began just behind Rodney’s eyes and he swallowed hard. “Sheppard and Teyla are team too and I don’t see them here.”
“They’re stupid. We needed the weapon, you nearly killed yourself trying to get it. I respect that.” Ronon picked up his fork and started eating again, as apparently that seemed to settle the issue for him.
“I wasn’t just trying to get a Nobel you know. I know I said things to that purpose, but I thought they’d understand.”
“Don’t look hard enough, if they did they wouldn’t be mad. You care more than they realize.” Rodney dropped his head, a stray tear falling into his half eaten plate. How did this hulk of a man see what his former friends had missed?
“Thanks. I appreciate it, really.” He gave Ronon a wan smile and got a toothy grin back.
Ronon scraped up the last morsels on his plate, stood, and started away from the table. He faltered and seemed to have a kind of fit, before he turned back to face Rodney.
“After dinner, meet me at the gym. Gotta get you trained.” With that he stalked away as Rodney sputtered.
As much as Rodney had tried to resist Ronon’s attempts to turn him into Rambo, without the crazy bits, he had found that it was easier to succumb. Not that he would ever be anywhere near Rambo’s league, but he found a kind of peace in working out with Ronon. He started to remember why he had loved athletics so much when he was younger and before events had forever soured him on them.
Plus with Ronon in his corner the pain of the cold shoulder treatment had abated slightly. Though no one other than Miko had thawed towards him. Even as he had stubbornly continued using his workstation in the main lab, only Miko would voluntarily work with him. And practically everyone went to Radek with questions and concerns, though he was still the Head of Science.
Rodney sighed as he walked into the cafeteria for a cup of coffee and a muffin to start his day. He looked around to see if Ronon had gotten back, but was disappointed to see that he was still absent. He figured the festival on the mainland had run late into the night, most likely with plenty of alcohol present.
He had attended the festival with the Athosians about the same time last year and he still remembered the hangover better than he did the festival. He grabbed an overlarge cup of coffee and pondered between a chocolate chip muffin and a banana-blueberry one in an attempt to forget that he hadn’t been invited this year.
Teyla still wouldn’t speak to him outside of missions and the other Athosians had followed her cue. He never thought he’d miss sharing a cup of terrible tea with her in the mornings, but he did. He gritted his teeth and grabbed the chocolate chip muffin, less chance of lemon, and left the cafeteria in favor of the lab. He had some new artifacts SGA-5 had brought back from P98-403 that he wanted to go over before his own mission tomorrow morning with SGA-2.
The planet’s shield generator was malfunctioning and as Lorne’s team had made initial contact, the Andrassins had been adamant that they be the ones to return. That Rodney went with them, considering that Radek was in actuality the best choice, was the result of two factors, 1) Radek had flat out refused after the fiasco that was the kid’s planet and 2) the Andrassins had insisted that Rodney, as Head of Science, be the one to fix their shield generator.
Elizabeth had of course not asked if he wanted to go on the mission, or if someone else could do it, but had drafted him instead. She was still barely speaking to him and he knew that she was having his work double checked even now. What was worse was that she seemed almost gleeful when she told him he was going.
He shook his head as he entered the lab and made his way over to his workstation. Miko was already there cataloging the new items without touching, smart girl. He set his coffee and muffin on the counter next to Miko’s and which got her attention.
“Oh, good morning Dr. Rodney.” The unusual greeting made him smile as usual, one of the few times he smiled now. He had tried in vain to get her to call him simply Rodney, but she had felt it was not respectful. Her idea of a compromise was to replace his last name with his first. He was pretty sure she only did it now because it amused him.
“Miko, I see my lab’s still standing.” She smiled and turned back to the six ancient artifacts laying over the surface of the lab table. “Anything in the database?”
“Yes sir. Those two,” She pointed at two similar items, both round with striations on the surface, though the patterns were different. “I believe are stealth grenades, similar to what the Goa’uld use.”
“Okay, assign those to Aaronson, but see if we can’t get Lieutenant Cadman in to help. She claims to know explosives. Nothing on the rest?”
“No, and I did not touch others.” They turned back to the artifacts ready to get started, but Rodney could feel eyes boring into his back.
“I can guarantee that you all have work to do. So do it!” Shifting slightly he saw glares directed his way, but they shifted back towards their workstations. Out of the corner of his eye Rodney saw Zelenka grit his teeth and narrow his eyes, but he said nothing.
Unlike the others, Zelenka wasn’t even talking to him. Rodney had been forced to use Miko and email as a go between and he missed the relationship and ease they used to have with each other. Very few people reached his intellectual heights, but Zelenka came close.
The only other two were Sam Carter and Daniel Jackson, soft sciences notwithstanding, but Rodney had already burned his bridges with Sam and while he, reluctantly, liked Daniel, being a galaxy apart tended to prevent any developing friendships.
Gathering his thoughts Rodney ran his eyes over the table, where a single object caught his eye. Not because it was strange or unique, but for precisely the opposite. It was small, maybe a little over half a meter by quarter of a meter. Its surface was shiny, like a mirror, only the surface was not in the least reflective.
The frame was simple, black with a single silver line running in the middle and had no seams or flaws. He hesitated but reached out and lifted the object by the corners careful not to touch the center. Grasping it more firmly in his left hand he ran a scanner over the object testing for any lethal measures and came back with nothing.
Confident that he wouldn’t be immediately killed should he activate the device, he hesitantly thought ‘on’ at it. When nothing happened he pushed harder at the device, but still it did nothing. He frowned at the device in consternation when it continued to refuse to work. It needed a stronger gene, Sheppard’s gene most likely and he knew that Sheppard wouldn’t be happy if Rodney asked him to come down to the lab. He blew out a huff and handed the artifact to Miko.
“Give it to Zelenka. He can ask Colonel Sheppard to try it later.” He quickly turned back to the table, away from the sympathetic look Miko was directing his way. He had no desire to see her hand the device over, knowing any discovery from it would have to be found by Zelenka.
A new chapter that I hope you enjoy. I will try to have a new chapter ready for you all on Friday or Saturday.
Rodney was more than a little upset. He had rushed through his work the previous day only to discover upon entering the gate room at ridiculous o’clock that the mission had been postponed to the next day.
He stomped back to the ready room and began tearing his gear off and throwing it into his locker.
“You’re gonna break something, throwing things like that.” Rodney looked at Major Lorne and glared, not having noticed the other man entering the room.
“You could have told me the mission was postponed until tomorrow before I got to the gate room. I could have been in the lab working, instead of looking like an idiot!” Rodney could feel his face heat up as he flung his arms out.
“Sorry, it was a last minute thing.” Lorne cocked his head. “I take it you don’t know?
“Know what? What’s going on?”
“SGA-7 found a small group of Satedians late last night on their mission. They think one of them might be Ronon’s mom.”
Rodney was taken aback and was immediately filled with a sense of hope. His friend deserved a bit of happiness and he desperately hoped that SGA-7 was right.
“I take it Ronon left immediately?” Rodney was a little disappointed that Ronon would leave without telling him.
“Colonel Sheppard said they were gonna come here. Somethin’ about not raising his hopes.”
“Not raising… You’re saying they haven’t told him?” Rodney saw red, his voice getting louder as he spoke.
“Calm down. I’m sure the Colonel knows what he’s talking about. I’m sure he knows Ronon pretty well by now.” Lorne shook his head and headed towards the shower, towel in hand, completely oblivious to Rodney’s anger.
He narrowed his eyes and huffed. It was more than a little obvious that Lorne wasn’t paying attention to the dynamics of their team. Ronon and Sheppard spent almost zero time together outside of missions. Rodney highly doubted that the Colonel knew anything at all about Ronon or how he’d react. He had to find him before Ronon was blindsided.
After checking the cafeteria, Ronon’s quarters, and rechecking the cafeteria, Ronon liked to eat almost as much as Rodney, he finally found him in a room that Ronon had confiscated for himself near the gym.
Rodney stopped inside the door and watched as Ronon put a newbie Marine, one of the ones who had been giving Rodney trouble since getting off the Daedalus, on his ass. He joined the two others who were already on the floor, looking a bit like rag dolls.
Ronon caught sight of Rodney and grinned. Shit, he thought. He doesn’t know, Sheppard actually didn’t tell him.
“Roe, thought you had a mission.” Normally Rodney would smile to hear the nickname from his childhood, a name Ronon had taken a shine too, but not today.
“We need to talk caveman.” The marine who had been slowly getting back up, who he thought was named Ridges or Riges or something similar, snorted and smirked nastily.
“Boyfriend troubles, ehh….” Ridges or Riges’ laugh caught in his throat as he caught sight of the murderous look Ronon was giving him. It annoyed Rodney to no end when his own glare was ignored and he wondered if the marine would ignore him after his quarter attacked him.
“You know Ridges…”
“It’s Rigler!” Rodney’s eyes narrowed and a somewhat evil smile crossed his face.
“Ridges,” He emphasized, watching color fade from his face as he spoke. “Ronon can beat your ass, but I can make your life miserable. No hot water, quarters that randomly alternate between freezing and sweltering, doors that won’t open…or close. There is no end to the ways I can fuck with you and they’ll never even know it was me. NOW GET OUT!!!”
The three marines hauled themselves and their gear off the floor and as they left, two of them glared at Rodney, but the third smirked and nodded, as if to say ‘go you.’
It felt surprisingly good to berate someone again, to show them that he may be down, but he wasn’t broken. He barely felt welcome in Atlantis anymore, but he wasn’t about to let one of the only two people who cared about him be treated the same.
“What's up?” Ronon grunted, as eloquently as ever, and clearly having spent too much time hanging out with the marines.
“SGA-7 went on a mission yesterday. They found some people… they’re Satedian. One of them may be…” He was interrupted when Ronon whooped and grabbed him in a bear hug.
After letting Ronon bounce him around a bit, he good-naturedly snarled at him, “Get off you big lug. There’s more!”
Ronon looked at him with his green eyes wide and bright, delight and happiness shinning through. It was a good look on him.
Rodney nodded and took a deep breath. He struggled to speak for a moment and when he did it was in a hushed tone.
“They think one of them may be y…your mother.” Rodney watch the delight from his previous revelation turn to cautious elation and a suspicious shine came into his eyes.
“Where… where did you hear that.”
“I ran into Major Lorne in the ready room, after I was not informed the mission had been cancelled per usual,” Ronon’s eyebrow raised, as Rodney went off topic. “He gave him a sheepish look. “Sorry, anyway, he told me.”
“Hard to believe. Seven years, never heard anything, even running you hear things.” Rodney stared at Ronon, his eyes were downcast as he sat on a bench, elbows on his knees and his head in his hands.
Rodney followed, taking a seat next to Ronon and tentatively put his hand on his shoulder. He wasn’t remotely good at this, but Teyla, the person who was good at it, wasn’t really speaking to Ronon anymore than Rodney. He was going to have to take a stab at it himself.
“You’re right, it is hard to believe. But look on the bright side, they did find some Satedians. That’s still something right?” He gave Ronon what was undoubtedly a creepy smile if the strange look that crossed his face was anything to go by.
“Yeah, yeah its good.” Ronon gave Rodney another famous Ronon look, a raised eyebrow and a bemused smile.
“Ok, your nice and socially adjusted. Go take a shower, you actually smell like a caveman.”
Later that morning after he and Ronon had parted ways, Rodney found himself once again in his lab holding the mirror-like ancient device. He had meant to hand it over to Zelenka for further analysis, as well as the John Sheppard special touch, but something about it held him back. He couldn’t get the device to activate, but he got the feeling that it wanted to work for him.
He was contemplating ways he could boost his gene’s influence, Professor X’s Cerebro coming to mind, when Colonel Sheppard stormed into the room, “I need to talk to you now McKay!”
Rodney took a deep breath and attempted to make his hands stop shaking. It was the first time Sheppard had spoken to him outside of meetings or missions since the Doranda incident two months ago. He stood, his heart pounding, and followed the Colonel into the corridor outside the lab, thinking the doors shut. He’d rather not have this conversation with the entire lab listening in.
“What can I do for you Colonel?” Rodney’s voice was noticeably shaky and it seemed to momentarily startle Sheppard. He overcame it quickly however.
“What the hell do you think you were doing telling Ronon about the Satedians SGA-7 found?!” He kept his voice low, but the forceful and angry nature was disguised. “I had already decided that we were gonna wait. He didn’t need to get his hopes up unnecessarily.”
“So what, you were just going to spring it on him? Go ‘Hey we found some Satedians last night’ and ‘Oh here’s your mother.’ Because that would have ended well with no preparation.”
“What the hell would you know? It’s not like you two spend enough time together for you to know how he’ll react.”
Both of Rodney’s eyebrows rose up, not a particularly good look for him as it emphasized the unfortunate height of his hairline. Did Sheppard not pay any attention? Rodney ran with Ronon, well after him really, nearly every morning and he sparred with him several times a week. Other than the rare bits of time he spent with Miko, playing chess usually and she wasn’t very good, outside of work, Rodney mostly spent time with Ronon. And it’s a surprisingly large amount of time considering that he was not now or ever going to be dating him. Not that he wasn’t attractive, but Ronon was an arrow he was so straight and Rodney had had recently began to have ‘brotherly’ feelings for him.
“Are you kidding me? I spend nearly 80% of my free time with him, which you apparently haven't noticed!”
Sheppard’s brow crinkled as he frowned. If Rodney wasn’t certain that he didn’t care, he’d almost think the Colonel was jealous. Which was insane, as Sheppard had never really showed any interest in Ronon after he got to the city and Rodney knew that he didn’t care about him.
“I wasn’t… I didn’t…I didn’t realize you two were spending so much time together. Forgive me if I didn’t think you two had much in common.” Sheppard’s voice got increasingly louder until he was nearly shouting.
“We don't, but he’s the only one who’d talk to me for months! Months, Sheppard! We were supposed to be friends, not just coworkers and you completely froze me out. As did everyone else! The only people I’ve been able to actually talk too and spend time with are Ronon and Miko!!! The rest of you gave up on me!!!” Rodney couldn’t help but raise his voice, shouting nearly at the top of his lungs. His eyes were burning from unshed tears and he was practically vibrating with rage. “Haven’t I been punished enough!”
“I…”. Sheppard got no further because it was at that moment that Ronon shoved Sheppard against a wall and snarled in his face.
“Who are you, to tell me what I can handle? To hurt him?” Ronon let go of Sheppard and stepped back. “It’s dishonorable.”
“Ronon its fine, I’m fine. I just got upset.”
“No, its not.” Ronon turned away from Rodney and back towards Sheppard. “When?”
The Colonel looked from Rodney to Ronon and back again his shoulders slumping. “About an hour. They had a long walk to the gate and had trouble convincing some of the Satedians to come back.”
“Okay, an hour then,” Ronon nodded at Rodney, glared at Sheppard, and ambled off leaving him alone with Sheppard again.
Sheppard opened his mouth and abruptly snapped it closed again. He took one final, lingering look at Rodney his brow furrowed and then turned and left. Rodney felt confused by Sheppard’s actions. He wasn't acting like a man who was angry, he seemed almost subdued, letdown even, after Ronon arrived. Rodney looked at the closed door of his lab and sighed.
If he was going to be in the gate room in an hour, and he was going to be there, then he couldn’t go back into the lab. He knew himself quite well and it was pretty much guaranteed that he’d get caught up in something. Just then his stomach growled embarrassingly loud, which made him realized that he had forgotten to eat in the excitement of the morning. He metaphorically crossed his fingers that Ronon’s mother was with the group of Satedians.
Ronon and Rodney entered the gate room together an hour later, just as the gate began to light up. Ronon was a ball of energy, nearly bouncing on his toes the way a young child would on Christmas day. Rodney’s stomach felt like he had swallowed an iron ball, it was so twisted up. He was sincerely wishing that he had waited to eat.
The initial cascade of the wormhole connecting had both Rodney and Ronon’s eyes glued to the gate. The familiar uniforms of SGA personnel entered the gate room first and then behind them were a small handful of older men and women, dressed in dark cloth and leather that had seen better days. Ronon froze beside him and Rodney felt like he couldn’t breath. Suddenly an unfamiliar woman’s voice rang out, freezing every person in the room.
“RONON! RONON!” An old woman, around sixty-ish, pushed past the Satedians and SGA personal alike. She had Ronon’s green eyes and she had tears pouring down her face, and she was beautiful.
A quick look at Ronon and Rodney knew all he needed to know. This woman, with Ronon’s eyes, was his mother. Rodney swallowed hard and fought back tears as he watched Ronon carefully gather his mother in his arms and break down in tears of joy and pain. It was an amazing and painful sight to behold, he couldn’t imagine what that felt like, would never feel it himself.
And he made the mistake of uttering that fact aloud. A mistake that Lukas, another newbie off the Daedalus and friend of Ridges, took advantage of.
“Of course you won’t. You’ve never suffered like that. Fucking people like you always have to make it be about themselves. Some friend you are!”
Rodney pulled back from the sheer animosity in the man’s voice. “I… I didn’t…”. He tried to explain but was interrupted.
“God, stop sniveling.” Lukas sneered at him and then huffed away.
Rodney’s heart pounded and his lungs felt like they were on fire, like he’d been running for miles. He looked over at the happy reunion of Ronon and his mother. It made every inch of him hurt, knowing that he could never have that. That there was no one left for him.
He took a shuddering breath and blinked several times in an attempt to clear the tears from his eyes. When he couldn’t he hurried away without looking back. Missing the worried look on Ronon and Sheppard’s faces, the former having heard some of what the Captain had said.
He never saw the look of hope and desperation aimed at him from one of the elderly Satedian women who had accompanied Ronon’s mother. And back in the empty lab, an ancient artifact shaped like a mirror pulsed a brilliant blue before going dark once more.
Sorry this took so long, I had intended to post on Friday, but after reading all of your wonderful comments I had a fresh dose of muse juice. Originally I had intended to write this chapter from Sheppard's point of view, but then I figured out how to continue with just Rodney. Which was my preference all along. Hope you enjoy.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Rodney nearly stumbled from the gate room in his efforts to get away. The corridor was blurry from the haze of tears clouding his eyes and he kept bumping into people, each time causing him to move faster and more erratically. He finally broke free of the congregation of people around the gate room, the better to see the show, and all but ran to the nearest transporter.
Drawing a hand across his face to clear his eyes he pressed the location on the map that corresponded with the South pier. Another dash through empty and darkened corridors brought Rodney to an equally empty and dark pier with a rather spectacular view of the ocean and faintest glimpse of the city itself. The ocean was dark and roiling with the force of a coming storm, the sky a deep indigo shading towards black. His emotions matched.
The surface of the pier was positioned lower to the ocean than most and as such was soaked from a constant light misting as the ocean beat against the city edges. Unheeding of the wet floor Rodney slipped to his knees and leaned his head against the cool railing that lined the pier. He found a comfort in the fact that he could no longer determine the difference between his tears and the spray. His breath hitched and his heart seemed like it would pound its way out of his chest or shatter into pieces.
“He’s an idiot, he’s just a boneheaded, know nothing marine.” He mumbled to himself, a sob pushing out of his throat. The effort of holding back the succeeding sobs made his lungs burn and he gasped over and over.
A sound behind him had him on his feet and whirling around, his time with Ronon making him more nimble on his feet, like when he was younger. A shadowed figure stepped from the corridor forming into a familiar shape. He watched Sheppard take him in and saw a frown form on his handsome face. Rodney stood there soaked nearly head to toe and waited for Sheppard to do something, anything.
A look of anger crossed the Colonel’s face and Rodney waited for the diatribe to begin, most likely something along the lines of ‘you need to toughen up’ and ‘maybe if you didn’t bring it upon yourself’ that had been so common during his childhood. He was more than a little surprised thought when something like resignation slumped Sheppard's shoulders and pushed a frown on his face.
Rodney startled and looked at Sheppard with shocked eyes. He wondered if he had in fact fallen into the ocean and he was hallucinating, because there was no way in hell Sheppard was there saying that. “What?”
“I said, I’m sorry. He shouldn’t have said that shit to you, he doesn’t have the right.” Rage suffused Rodney and he blew up, his emotions all over the place.
“He doesn’t have the right? What, does that right only belong to you! Only you’re allowed to be angry with me and treat me like shit! Well then, you haven't really been paying attention if that’s how you feel. With a very few notable exceptions, the whole fucking city has turned on me. Not even Teyla will speak to me! So you go fuck yourself!” His voice broke on another sob and he turned back towards the ocean, the waves seeming to mirror his emotions.
“Fuck, I’m sorry, okay! I’m sorry for how I’ve treated you and I’m sorry that people are dicks! I’m sorry I made you think you had to earn my forgiveness and I’m sorry I acted like I don’t trust you! You had every right to ask me to trust you. I fucked up!”
Rodney’s whole body was shaking, in some part because he was getting cold, but mostly because he wanted to give in. His whole existence was vibrating with the need to give in and accept what Sheppard was saying, but he wasn't ready. He just wasn’t there yet. He turned back to Sheppard and leaned against the railing.
“You might have forgiven me Colonel, but I’m not ready to forgive you. It’s going to take more than an, I’m sorry before we can just go back to normal. I’m having a really hard time right now, not hating you for what you’ve put me through."
Sheppard ran his hands over his face, his whole body reading ‘uncomfortable with the situation.’ He shifted from foot to foot and opened and closed his mouth several times, as if he couldn’t figure out what to say. His head dropped and he leaned his body back against the door frame.
“If your going to say something, Colonel, then just say it already so I can go back to my self deprecation.” Sheppard gritted his teeth and looked back up at Rodney with hard glittering eyes.
“Why why do you have to do that?”
Rodney sighed, “Do what?”
“Put yourself down. Even before Dor…before everything you did that. Like you think you’re worthless or something.”
“Well, when you’re told that often enough, I guess you start to believe it.” Rodney gave him a pained smirk.
“Who the hell would tell you that?!” Sheppard looked angry on Rodney’s behalf which forced a nasty laugh out of Rodney.
“No Sheppard, just no. I’m not going to share my sad past with anyone, especially not you. I just, go away, please go away.”
“Okay…I’ll go. For now, but I’m done being an idiot and an asshole. I promise I’ll earn your trust back somehow. I don’t know how, but I will.”
His heart heavy and aching, Rodney watched Sheppard turn and walk away, the dark corridor seeming to swallow him whole. All Rodney could think was, ‘I hope you do” but he wasn't getting his hopes up. He’d been burned before.
Glancing back at the ocean, Rodney realized that he felt better than he had in a long time. It appeared that Sheppard’s apology, no matter how late, had in fact made him feel better. Plus yelling at him hadn’t hurt either and for the first time since Doranda Rodney felt his spirits lighten. A smile quirked across his face and with a bounce in his step he wandered back through the corridor’s to the transporter.
He started to select the labs, but realized that he was still soaked and unless he wanted to catch pneumonia and die a horrible, painful death he really needed to change. The transported opened on the long hallway his quarters were located in and pretty much immediately spotted Ronon waiting for him, his mother standing near him looking cross as she caught sight of Rodney.
“Death, you’re going to catch ya death boy. Running around soaked with so much dampness in the air, which of these doors is your’s? You need new clothes.” Rodney looked at Ronon with a bemused look, which Ronon returned sheepishly.
“It’s that one,” Rodney pointed at one of the doors along the corridor near to where Ronon and his mother had been waiting. “If you’ll wait out here…”
“Nonsense, I raised three boys in my day and you've got nothing I haven't seen before. Anyway, you need to shower, you’ve got a shower in there don’t ya, and warm up. And we’re waiting so’s you don’t run away again.” Rodney felt a little overwhelmed as he asked his door to open, Ronon and his mother following him in. It felt surprisingly good, the last time anyone had been motherly toward him was before his Nan had died.
Once in everyone was safely secured in his quarter’s Ronon’s mother shooed him into his bathroom. He huffed out a laugh and shucked his clothes, thought on the shower, and stepped into the warm spray. Although the water wasn’t all that hot, contact with his fingers and toes proved that he had been too cold. Rodney sped through the shower, well aware of his ‘guests’ awaiting him outside. He quickly dried off and went to tie the towel around his waist when he realized that a stack of his clothing was sitting on his bathroom sink.
He looked between the clothing and the door, wondering how he hadn’t heard her come in to leave the clothes. And he knew without a doubt that it had to have been Ronon’s mother. While Ronon could be deadly silent while on a mission, he seemed to have no compunction in being loud the rest of the time.
Back in the bedroom, Rodney found Ronon sitting on his bed with a happy, but resigned look to him. This was probably because his mother was bustling around the room cleaning up. Rodney just stared as she whipped around the room gathering dirty clothes, stuffing empty MRE and power bar wrappers into a trash can, and somewhere she had found some kind of window cleaner.
“Ma’m, Mrs. Dex? You really don’t have to clean up, in fact I wish you wouldn’t.” She moved towards Rodney’s desk and he panicked. “Don’t! Please don’t mess with my desk. I have everything the way I want it.”
“Everything the way you want, is a mess. Ya mother would be ashamed. And my name is Tura. I expect ya to use it.”
“I didn’t have a mother, just my Nan.” He said quietly, watching as she turned and looked at him with sympathy. Ronon looked at him startled as this was a bit of information that Rodney had never shared.
“Everyone has a mother.” Ronon’s brow was wrinkled and a rather large frown spread across his face with his statement.
Rodney smiled wryly, “No, not everyone. I was abandoned, I never knew either of my parents.”
Ronon looked wildly unhappy and Tura had a sadness about her. “What I see is a strong man, a good man if my Ronon has told me the truth. Nothing and no one can take that away from ya.”
She stepped up to Rodney and ran her soft hand down his cheek and cupped his jaw. She was about a full foot shorter than him and had to crane her neck in order to look into his eyes. They had a moment of complete symmetry and it was almost like his Nan, looking at him for the first time since she had died years ago. But it was Tura, with Ronon’s green eyes and kind smile.
“Now its gotten late and Ronon told me that you have a mission tomorrow morning. When you get home we can talk more, but for now you sleep.”
With that she walked back to the door and turned to wait for Ronon who stood up and smirked. “Go to sleep.” Rodney narrowed his eyes at Ronon, but he wasn’t quite as intimidating as he hoped.
He watched Ronon and Tura walk from his room with a sense of happiness and contentment. He just knew that from now on, things would go better.
Ohhh, buckle up kiddies, its all gonna hit the fan now.
So, I'm sorry this is a little later than I'd planned. I usually write during the lulls at work, but my carpel tunnel refused to let me hand write. I chose to post this even though it's a bit short, but I couldn't honestly think about how else to end it. I plan to have another chapter ready to go tomorrow.
Rodney stomped back to the gate uncaring of Lorne and his team’s inability to catch up. For once he was immensely grateful for Ronon’s early morning runs. And of course for the lack of mud coating his legs and instead coating nearly every inch of Lorne’s team. How Rodney had managed to remain relatively clean while the unhappy villagers had thrown mud at them was a point of contention.
While Rodney had been know to piss off villagers from time to time this incident wasn’t on him. ‘Nope,’ this one was on Parrish. In the attempt to stop a villager, the chieftain’s father in fact, from drink a tea that he had assumed to be made from Monkshed, he had angered the said chief’s elderly and very important father.
The tea of course had not been made with a poisonous plant, but rather with a Pegasus variant that looked similar and was obviously not poisonous. It was fortunate that all the angry villagers had done was thrown mud as each one of them had long bows. That they were very adept at using.
None of that had actually upset him, in fact it had amused him. It was being yelled at like he was a child by Major Lorne for using one of his teammates as a human shield that had pissed him off. As far s he was concerned Parrish deserved it for causing the mud throwing to begin with.
Reaching the DHD he started to punch in the gate address and had to bite back a fit of giggles as the mud encrusted team finally caught up. They really were a hilarious sight, covered head to toe in the viscous black mud, hair in muddy spikes. He keyed in his IDC code and signaled the others that it was safe to go through.
Stepping through the gate last, Rodney entered Atlantis to the sight of a widely grinning Weir and a highly amused Carson Beckett. Carson’s amusement turned to a fit of the giggles as he looked between Rodney and the very muddy team a few times before shaking his head, his chest heaving with the struggle of taming his giggles.
“Och Rodney, could ya explain just how ya managed ta stay all spic and span and ta others arna?” Carson tried to beat back his wide grin, but was not having much luck, undoubtedly knowing what was coming.
“Plant whisperer over there insulted one of the elders, so I used him as a shield from the mud.” Weir’s eyes widened and she was clearly fighting a laugh as she looked over at Parrish who was turning red beneath the mud and starting to sputter.
“He was trying to keep the man from killing himself!” Lorne yelled at Rodney, taking a step towards him intimidatingly.
“He slapped the cup out of the man’s hand and called him an idiot. Loudly.” Rodney glared at Major Lorne. “Even I wouldn’t have done that.”
“I think that’s enough gentleman.” Weir was firm, but still apparently fighting the extreme urge to laugh. “Major, do you think that if we sent a second team with an Athosian to explain that they would keep to the trade agreement?”
Lorne looked over at Rodney and glared one more time. “Yes, most likely. They could have shot at us with bows and arrows, but hey chose to throw mud. They were angry, but not homicidal.”
“Okay, then I think that our briefing can wait until you and your team has had the chance to clean up and get checked out.”
Rodney started to follow after the rest of the team when Weir stopped him, “Rodney, we seem to have a problem. One of the devices activated while you were gone. A man just suddenly appeared in the main lab.”
“What! Why wasn’t I informed and called back immediately. Which artifact?” Weir backed up a bit, seemingly overwhelmed by Rodney’s mix tone of excitement and reproach.
“I chose not to call you immediately because we had to vet the man who came through and that takes time. Plus this all happened only a few hours ago and there hasn’t been enough time to even discover which artifact activated. Captain Ecley has been helpful and patient while we waited for you to return.”
Rodney’s eyes bugged out slightly, “He’s been helpful! Do you know what happens in the SGC when strange people just suddenly show up? He could kill us all!”
Weir raised an eyebrow and Rodney realized that he’d been too doom and gloom once again. He tried to reign himself in, “Elizabeth, he could be dangerous.”
“Colonel Sheppard, Teyla, and even Ronon have been keeping an eye on him, Ronon in particular has been watching him like a hawk. I’d like for you to meet him. Maybe you could help figure out just where he came from and how we can send him home.”
“Okay, sure,” Rodney was still skeptical, but followed Weir through the corridors, to what he soon realized was the route to the cafeteria. ‘Great’ he thought, ‘they’re treating him to dinner,’ and then drifted off into thoughts about how he was going to send this Éclair guy home.
They entered the cafeteria, Rodney still not paying attention. That was, until a very familiar voice, shaky and uncertain, rose in disbelief, “ROE!”
Rodney’s whole body stilled and he raised his head slowly, his heart feeling like it had seized up in his chest and his lungs as if they had frozen solid. He tried desperately to breath and ended up gasping as he felt the blood rush from his face as he took in a familiar and much missed face.
“Max?” The single word was uttered in a strangled tone, that wouldn’t have carried far had the entire room not gone silent. It was the only word Rodney was capable of getting out before a solid body had collided with his and arms were wrapped tightly around him.
He felt wetness on his face and he kept trying to suck in air, resulting in a heaving sobbing mess that was echoed by the older man, who was obviously crying as well. Rodney reached up and gripped the back of his shirt and just held on. It felt as though if he moved his heart would shatter or his rubbery legs would simply give out. A low steady murmur reached his ears as Max whispered over and over, “Oh fuck, you’re here, you’re alive, oh god.”
Their reunion was interrupted by Sheppard, who clearly uncomfortable, cleared his voice and said, “I guess you two know each other?”
They pulled away from each other, but not letting go. Rodney could see tears streaking down Max’s face, his eyes swollen and red and knew he looked the same. He couldn’t even take his eyes away from Max when he found the ability to answer him.
“He’s my brother.”
Slight warning in the notes at the end.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“He’s my brother.”
“Your brother? You have a brother?” Sheppard's shocked question brought Rodney out of the stunned disbelief he’d been in since seeing Max. A feeling of panic washed over him and he moved to leave the room as quickly as he could.
He was stopped by a hand gripping just above his elbow and turned back to see Sheppard looking at him with sadness and a bit of anger. “Let go of me Sheppard.”
“No, you can’t just run away from this!”
Rodney shook his head and fought back a second wave of tears. “I was wrong. That’s not my brother, my brother is dead! He died fifteen years ago, when a drugged up asshole shot him for twenty-five fucking dollars! Now let go of me, I have to go!”
His voice rising with every word, Rodney wrenched his arm out of Sheppard’s grip and ran from the cafeteria. Panic followed him all the way to the labs where Zelenka and Miko were going over every artifact collected in recent weeks, trying to find the one that had brought their ‘visitor.’
Rodney pushed past them both, not noticing the look of worry on Miko’s face or the confusion and astonishment on Zelenka’s. He ran his eyes over everything collected on the lab table and his eyes landed on the mirror he had been so fascinated with earlier.
He reached out to touch it, but stopped himself short. He didn’t know how he knew, but Rodney was absolutely certain that it was the cause of his mysteriously appearing ‘dead’ brother. He saw in a kind of tunnel vision that his hand was shaking and that led him to realized that it wasn’t only his hand, but rather his entire body that was shaking.
Zelenka’s worried tone broke through and startled Rodney enough that he jumped back and would have nearly fallen to the floor if Sheppard’s body hadn't stopped him. “Dobrý Bůh, what happened to you?!”
“Captain Ecley turned out to be Rodney’s brother.” Rodney’s body tensed and he pushed away from Sheppard and snarled.
“He is not my brother! I don’t know who that man is, but my brother is dead!”
“Rodney get ahold of yourself and calm down!” Sheppard grabbed hold of Rodney’s shoulders and shook him gently.
“Colonel is right. We will figure out problem and send imposter away.” Zelenka reached out to pat Rodney’s arm consolingly, but drew back when he flinched.
Captain Ecley stepped into the lab escorted by Tura, Weir, and the rest of Rodney’s team. “I know how strange this is, trust me. My brother’s been dead since he was nineteen and then suddenly you’re standing in front of me. I’m just as freaked as you are.”
Rodney again pulled roughly away from Sheppard, “I don’t want to hear it!” Rodney tried to turn away, but was stopped.
“Now ya listen here boy! Ya are not a child and I’ll not stand here and listen to ya act like one. He may not be the brother ya remember, but I saw how the both of ya reacted when ya saw one another.” Tura shook her gnarled finger at Rodney, her eyebrows up high, looking surprisingly like Ronon.
“I…I can’t. Tura I just can’t. You don't understand.” Rodney pleaded with his eyes, practically begging her to understand.
Tura’s voice went soft and caring, the features on her face shifting to match. “It’s hard, I know. Believe me I know, but it will be okay.”
“It’s not hard, it’s impossible. I can’t do this.”
“You can, if anyone can, it’s you.” Sheppard’s words were quiet but heartfelt. Rodney’s heart skipped in his chest, but he needed to explain.
“I know how he got here, I know which artifact it was.” He snagged a small piece of cloth from a close lab table and picked up the would be mirror. “I’m fairly certain this is how he got here.”
Weir stepped up to get a closer look and asked the question they all wanted to ask. “How do you know?”
Rodney hung his head, he didn’t want to see anyone’s sympathy or concern. “It’s almost certainly a quantum mirror. SG1 has come across them a few times. I don't know how this one works, it’s most likely a prototype and doesn't really resemble the others, but it makes the most sense.”
He drew a deep breath and looked back up at Max, his whole being urging him to just shut up and be happy. He just couldn’t though. “The different last names, the fact that my Max died, and that his Rodney died. It all points to an Alternate Reality. He’s not my brother, not really, and no matter how I feel…he has to go home.”
Max appeared conflicted, but Rodney could see that he understood. Maybe understood from the moment he arrived. His lips thinned and every emotion could be seen as he ground his teeth. “Roe’s right. As much as I hate to admit it, hate to have to go, I have responsibilities and a family back home. But you are wrong about one thing.”
“What, what am I wrong about? Rodney spoke like a man defeated.
Max stepped forward, nearly toe to toe with Rodney. “You are my brother. My little brother who took things apart to see how they worked, who asked question after question trying to work the world out, and who was always stronger than he should have had to be, especially for a kid. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to get to see you as a grown man.”
“Do you have any idea what this is going to do to me? What it'll be like to lose you a second time? At least last time I had Derek and Nan to help me through it. Not to mention that they had lost you too!”
Rodney’s heart felt like it was lodged in his throat and he was more than a little worried that he was going to be sick. The shaking had gotten worse, not better and Rodney was starting to see little gray spots in his vision. He saw Max’s eyes widen and his body lurched forward just as the grey spots turned black and spread to fill his entire field of vision. Then arms caught him as he lost consciousness.
As Rodney came to, voices began to penetrate the fog. He shifted in the rock hard infirmary bed and opened his eyes, trying hard not to squint at the too bright light filling the room. As he came fully awake he became aware of Teyla setting in the chair next to his bed, looking at him softly. He shifted again trying to sit up and Teyla hurried to help him, propping him up with a couple of pillows.
Rodney looked away from her sympathetic gaze. “What do you want?”
“To explain. I need you to understand why I was so upset.” Rodney looked at Teyla reluctantly. Her eyes were soft and filled with regret.
He swallowed hard around a mouth that suddenly felt like it was packed with sawdust. “Okay, but I’m not sure what you think it'll help.”
“You nearly died, nearly killed yourself and John as well. I do not distrust you, that has never been an issue. You are my family, my brother and I nearly lost you.” Teyla stood and paced next to the bed, her emotions seeming to get the best of her. She turned towards him and crossed her arms over her chest. “I know that I did not handle this very well, but every time I looked at you I could not help but think of how close you came. And to know that you did it to yourself.”
“I wasn’t trying to kill myself, I mean have you met me?” Teyla opened her mouth to respond, but was interrupted.
“I’ve known you longer than any person here and I probably know you better than anyone else.” Max pushed the curtain aside and stepped up to the bed next to Teyla.
“Oh come on, I’ll admit to having tunnel vision where Doranda was concerned, but I do not have a death wish Max!”
Max ran his hand over his mouth and looked up towards the ceiling. “Does everyone who comes into the infirmary wear long sleeves, Roe? Or is there a reason that you don’t want anyone to see your arms.”
Rodney sucked in a breath and went wide eyed. “I…I don’t know what you’re talking about. I get cold easily and I could catch pneumonia, so I keep covered up.”
“Roe…”. Rodney felt tears gather at the corner of his eyes.
“Things were different then, I…I’d just come out and I hated myself.” A single tear ran down his face, leaving a long wet streak behind that Rodney reached up and swiped away. He caught a glimpse of the devastated look on Sheppard’s face from the corner of his eye. “I d…didn’t wanna be like him.”
“Never, you know that you’re not.”
“I know,” Rodney let out a small chuckle. “Between you and Nan and Derek, I knew. I understood.”
Rodney looked at Teyla and begged her to understand. “I wasn’t trying to kill myself. It’s just that when I see the Athosians and you and Ronon, I see how much the Wraith have taken. I could care less about winning an award, I just want to stop them.”
A look of deep sadness filled Teyla’s face and then suddenly Rodney was being hugged. She had buried her face in his neck and he could feel the hitches as she struggled not to cry. He laid his head against hers and whispered into her ear.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. I promise it’ll never happen again.”
“No, it will not. I will see to it that it does not.” Teyla smiled and reached up pulling his forehead against hers. After a moment she leaned back and looked into his eyes. “You must understand that this fight does not belong solely to you, it is not on only your shoulders to destroy the Wraith. We fight together or we do not fight at all.”
Rodney nodded and smiled his crooked smile and a weight, larger than he’d expected, lifted with Teyla’s reassurance that he was not alone.
“Are ya finished now. Canna see ta ma patient now, or would ya all like ta keep standing around?” Carson’s left eyebrow was hiked nearly up to his hairline as he impressively glared at them all before turning the glare on Rodney. “Yer sugar was verra low Rodney, I can only wander at how tha happened.”
“I didn’t eat.” Rodney looked at Carson sheepishly at first and then gathered up some backbone, “I did have something of a shock you know, my dead brother showing up alive.”
Carson narrowed his eyes, but didn’t argue. “Fine, but I want ya on light duty fer at least twenty-four hours.” Rodney opened his mouth to argue, but was met by Carson’s stubborn look. “Twenty-four hours or I’ll keep ya here where I can keep an eye on ye.”
Rodney narrowed his eyes, but agreed with a jerky shake of his head. Carson smirked victoriously and almost bounced away from the bed, Teyla and his brother following, leaving him alone with Sheppard. Rodney pulled at the sleeves of his shirt and glanced up at Sheppard.
“I’ll take you back to your room.” There was no argument as Sheppard’s tone left it clear that the two men had a lot to discuss.
Dobrý Bůh- Good God
Warning- Subtle mention of past attempted suicide.
Rodney dressed quickly, more than aware that Sheppard was waiting just outside the flimsy curtains. Fully dressed Rodney pulled the curtains open following Sheppard as he started out of the infirmary. Neither man said anything as they made their way through the corridors and transporter to Rodney’s quarters. As expected, once reaching his door, Sheppard followed Rodney inside and a loud click signaled that the door was locked.
Rodney turned to face Sheppard fully and felt his heart speed up. He wasn’t really sure what was going to happen, what Sheppard was going to say. What did come out of his mouth was nothing he had expected.
“Let me see.” Sheppard moved closer, his arms coming up as if he were going to grab Rodney.
“Let me see your arms Rodney.” Rodney startled, folded his arms, and shifted to put more room between himself and Sheppard.
“Wha…no! I’m not gonna do that! What the hell’s wrong with you?” Rodney’s back collided with the wall next to his bed and he jumped unaware that he was still moving away from Sheppard.
“Sheppard hung his head and took a deep breath. He appeared to Rodney to be gathering himself. Rodney was shocked to see a shine in the other man’s eyes when he looked back up at him. Sheppard ran a hand over his face, scrubbing at his eyes.
“I’m sorry. That was out of line. I just couldn’t imagine a Rodney McKay who’d try to take his own life.” Sheppard turned and sat on the bed, threading his fingers through his hair until it was even messier than usual. “I…I wanna tell you something, and you don’t have to reciprocate, okay.”
Rodney nervously pulled away from the wall, his arms still firmly and tightly crossed to his chest, as if Sheppard was going to leap from the bed and grab at his arms.
“Okay… just stay over there though.” Rodney sat in the chair next to his desk and watched other man cautiously.
Sheppard immediately looked down and away as if he couldn't stand to have Rodney looking at him right in this moment. When he finally spoke it startled Rodney.
“I had a pretty normal home life. Stay-at-home mom, a dad who worked all the time, requisite snotty little brother. Then my…. Uh my mom got sick.” He hugged and then continued, “My dad, he just kept working like it would solve everything and Dave, my little brother, chose to go off to boarding to school. His way of escaping I guess, but I.. I stayed home.”
Sheppard stood and started to pace, obviously agitated. “She died and…and suddenly I was alone. My dad was nowhere to be found and my brother, well too much of an age difference and my father’s expectations of us kept us from ever being close. I just couldn’t handle. I took. I took a bottle of her pain pills. Would have died, but the housekeeper found me.”
Sheppard look right at Rodney, his eyes bright and wide. “I just wanted you to know. I…I don’t want you to feel like it's something to be ashamed of. You survived, we survived and made something of ourselves.”
Abruptly, the door opened and Sheppard rushed out leaving Rodney sitting in his chair stunned.
Rodney woke the next morning feeling rather like he’d been run over the previous night. With everything that had happened the previous day combined with Sheppard’s confession last night, Rodney was feeling overwhelmed. The situation with his brother would eventually work itself out, most likely with a lot of pain on his part, but he didn’t know what to make of Sheppard.
On one hand it made it easier to understand the man and relate to him, but on the other hand he wasn’t sure what Sheppard expected. He had realized after Doranda that their friendship had bordered on the superficial. They had worked together, even hung out from time to time, but they had never shared anything about themselves with each other. Rodney had known Ronon for a much shorter time period, but he knew more about Rodney than Sheppard.
Thinking of Ronon lead Rodney to get out of bed and begin searching out a t-shirt and some sweatpants as the other man was likely to be knocking on his door soon. Rodney wasn’t sure he was up for their usual morning run, but Ronon wasn’t likely to let Rodney’s passing out the previous evening stop them.
Short of an actual physical injury or impending, wide spread death Ronon would drag Rodney out on a run at least three times a week. A knock sounded at the door and considering that he and Ronon hadn't run together for at least three days, Rodney was wildly surprised to open the door and find Max standing there.
Max shifted nervously and scratched at his temple with two fingers. It was a gesture that Rodney recognized and it made him smile. “I know that you are probably expecting Ronon, but he said, well he said we should talk?”
Rodney looked at his brother and felt none of the panic from yesterday that had ruled his actions. He suddenly wanted nothing more than to get to know the man standing in front of him, especially if they had little time in which to do it.
“That sounds good actually. I..umm I’m sorry about how I reacted yesterday, but after everything it was just too much. I sort of fucked up and destroyed three eighths of a solar system a couple of months ago. You showing up just pushed everything too far.”
Max’s head jerked in surprise before he left out a little chuckle. “You never did do anything small did you?” Max shook his head and smiled. “Take a walk with me?”
Rodney nodded his head, “Yeah, just let me put some different clothes on.”
“Sure, go ahead.”
Rodney stepped outside a few minutes later wearing one of his new black uniforms, its long sleeves covering his arms. Rodney could tell that the long sleeves didn’t go unnoticed by his brother, but he seemed to let it go unquestioned. Max’s next question however, caused Rodney to stumble as they wandered through the corridor.
“So, you seeing this Ronon guy?”
“What! No, nononono. I am not seeing Ronon!” Rodney was vehement in his protest and he caught Max taking a peek at him.
“Geez, don't bite my head off. The man is so your type it’s scary. Not to mention that he seems to be overtly interested in your wellbeing. It wasn’t a hard conclusion to leap to.”
“Ronon is not my type. That’s not to say that I don’t love him, like a brother, because I do. He’s a great guy, really, and attractive, really attractive honestly,” Rodney shook his head to dispel some rather disturbing thoughts before continuing. “He reminds me more of you. Anyway, I’m not really sure I have a type other than male.”
“How can you not have a type, everyone has a type. I mean, what kind of guys do you typically date?” Rodney sped up, his every step now matching his heart beat.
“I…I ummm. I don’t…” Rodney took a deep breath and steadied himself. He hated talking about himself. “I haven't dated anyone since Derek.”
Max stopped dead in the corridor and turned to Rodney, who was more than a little glad that they were alone when Max finally spoke. “No one? How could you…no one?!”
Rodney forced himself to look Max in the eyes. “Derek was the love of my life, the first man I ever loved, ever trusted. The idea of being that close to someone again terrifies me, especially here. The threat of nearly constant death and…and…and”
Max pursed his lips and one side of his mouth tipped up in sort of half smile. “And you’re in love with someone here aren’t you?”
Rodney’s eyes widened and he spun himself back towards their former direction and stomped down the hall. A few seconds later the sound of quick footsteps reached his ears followed by Max falling into stride with him. Rodney could almost feel the smug satisfaction radiating off Max as they walked to the cafeteria in silence.
Due to the earlier hour the cafeteria was nearly packed with soldiers and scientists grabbing breakfast before their shifts began. Max and Rodney started towards the mess line when an unfamiliar voice cut through the din in the cafeteria.
“Look at them Tura! Just look!”
“Quora, ya need to calm ya self. It’s not them.” The cafeteria was nearly silent as everyone listened to the rather loud conversation between the two elderly Satedian women.
“You are wrong, it is them!” Quora pulled away from Tura and made her way towards Rodney and Max, but was stopped by Tura. “Please, please just look at them! They are my boys! Tura please, please.”
Rodney stood stock still as he watched Tura try to calm her friend. It didn’t stop his heart from pounding in his chest like he’d just finished a run with Ronon. He couldn’t help, but think what it would be like to actually meet his mother. No matter how impossible, Rodney wanted her to be right.
“They can not be your sons, Quora. They were taken during a culling, they are not them.”
“Why can it not be them. Why is it so impossible, you got your son back!” Tura pulled back from Quora as if she had been struck. Rodney felt close to tears, it truly wasn’t fair that one mother got her child back while the other continued to suffer.
“Tura, please!” The elderly woman grabbed both of Tura’s shoulders and got into her face, tears streaming freely. “How can you not see it, how can you not see how they look like Leris. The same eyes, the same mouth, and jaw.”
Tura looked at her with sad eyes appearing to be fighting back tears herself. “Ya are seeing what ya want to see. They do have a resemblance to Leris, I will not deny it. But you have believed others to be your sons before. Ronon’s friend and his brother are not your boys….I’m so sorry.”
With Tura’s final soft words, Quora’s shoulders slumped and she began to sob quietly. Tura wound an arm around the woman’s frail shoulders and gently led her from the cafeteria pausing for mere seconds to give Rodney a sad smile.
“I still wonder to this day what it would be like to find our mother. To be able to ask her why, why did you give us up, abandon us.”
Rodney looked at Max for a moment before stating simply, “I’m hungry, with any luck I won’t get killed by rogue citrus.” He turned back to the cafeteria line, ignoring the worry on Max’s face.
Warning: Description of Attempted Suicide.
Rodney stood at his lab table once again going over the pseudo mirror, trying to find anything that would allow Max to return home. It had been nearly a month since Max had shown up and neither Rodney nor Radek had made any end roads into the object’s function. He was becoming frustrated by a lack of response from the mirror, it wouldn’t turn on, it seemed to have no buttons, even Sheppard hadn't been able to make the damn thing work.
Once it became clear that not even Rodney was going to be able to make heads or tails of the device, Weir had requested that Daniel and Sam, both of whom had experience with quantum mirrors, come to Atlantis. Rodney hadn’t exactly been happy with the decision, but resigned himself to the necessity of help.
The only upside to the whole thing had been Max himself. The last month had allowed Rodney to get to know Max all over again and Rodney had never felt happier. Max hadn’t had much with him when he came over, but the one thing he did have was a wallet full of pictures which Max had explained, he carried everywhere. Pictures of his wife Angie and his two daughters Rose and Cara filled nearly every inch of the wallet.
The last handful of pictures however, had been of him. Rodney had been surprised at the pictures, but Max had explained that he’d always made sure to keep Rodney alive, both for himself and his daughters.
Rodney had choked up and ended up crying in his office after Max had explained that his oldest daughter Rose, had been named for him. The name a derivation of the childhood nickname which Max himself had always called Rodney. Rodney had felt honored, but it was bittersweet. He would never meet either girl and there was no chance that he ever would. Angie and the girls knew nothing about the Stargate and Max would likely never be allowed to tell them about meeting Rodney again.
Rodney set the mirror back down and signed mournfully. He had tried his best, but it just wasn’t enough, which made him feel like a failure. Then they had received word yesterday that the Daedalus would arrive in three days, carrying the entirety of SG1 with them. Rodney had been upset ever since.
It was clear that most of Atlantis still believed heartily that Rodney was stuck on Carter. So far the only people who knew that he was gay outside of his brother was his team, Carson, and Weir. His being vocal about his, completely false romantic affections towards Sam was his way of hiding. They all thought that he was worried about seeing the woman who got away. He was much more worried about seeing Teal’c again.
“Rodney, you have not eaten. Brain does not work without food.” Rodney was jolted out of his thoughts and he turned to look at Radek. His mood lightened considerably as he took in the concerned tone of his friend.
The friendship that they had started when first arriving in Atlantis had begun to heal as the two men worked to reveal the mirror’s secrets. A sincere apology from Rodney a week in had done a lot to repair the relationship and it was solidified with Radek’s apology for shutting Rodney out completely.
Looking back over his shoulder at the still full plate Rodney snarled his nose, “It’s lemon chicken.”
Unlike most people who tended to narrow their eyes when angry, Radek’s would get wide and shiny, not unlike a crazed chimpanzee. A comparison that Rodney would never voluntarily share with the other man, Radek could be especially vicious when he wanted.
“I did not receive lemon chicken when Captain Rigler brought lunch. I did not know lemon chicken was on menu!” The smaller man was vibrating, seemingly with rage, as he stalked over to have a closer look at the plate.
“It wasn’t. Pretty sure that came out of an MRE.” Radek growled and Rodney had to very quickly choke back a laugh at the extremely Ronon-like sound. He had no intentions of pissing off the Czech again anytime soon.
“Ten kus hovno! He knows, yes, that you are allergic?” Rodney drew back slightly at the somewhat maniac expression that covered Radek’s face.
Rodney swallowed around a lump in his throat and shrugged, unable to speak. While things had gotten considerably better since Max’s arrival, not everyone was willing to forgive and forget the way Sheppard, Teyla, and Radek were.
Weir was thawing, but still visibly cool towards Rodney in their dealings and most of the rest of the city were taking her cue. Some, it seemed, were going a step further and Captain’s Ridges and Luks were at the front of the line. Rodney cleared his throat and opened his mouth in an attempt to verbally answer, but was quickly interrupted.
“That was rhetorical question Rodney. Everyone in city knows you are allergic.” A devilish grin washed over Radek’s face. “Maybe this Ridges needs to be taught little lesson, not to mess with scientists.”
“Nooo, nonono that’s okay. I’ll… I’ll just go get my own lunch.” Rodney quickly tried to reason with Radek, he didn’t want to further antagonize the rest of Atlantis, but it was clear that the man was lost in his own world and didn’t hear him.
Rodney slowly backed away from the crazed chimpanzee masquerading as his friend and nearly fled from the room to find Sheppard.
It was nearly two hours later that he located the Colonel, who had just returned from a supply run to the mainland. One of the two marines who had went with Sheppard brushed past him with a friendly smile. Rodney recognized him as one of the marines who regularly sparred with Ronon and smiled back. His attention was pulled back to the puddlejumper as Sheppard emerged, a smile lighting up his face when he caught sight of Rodney.
“Hey! Thought you were gonna be holed up in the lab all day?” He swung his head around as if looking for someone else. “Where’s Max? You two’ve been glued at the hip whenever you weren’t working.”
Rodney shivered slightly at the intensity of Sheppard’s gaze. He shook his head slightly. “He went off world with Ronon and Lorne’s team. Something about grain, I think.”
“Ahh,” Sheppard’s eyes narrowed the slightest bit and he moved forward into Rodney’s personal space. “So what are you doing out of the lab?”
Rodney shifted on his feet nervously as warmth suffused his entire body. It had been easy to keep his feelings regarding Sheppard to himself when the other man wasn’t speaking to Rodney, but he had really struggled over the last few weeks as their friendship had begun to heal. He was terrified that the perpetually straight Sheppard would discover Rodney’s feelings and go back to hating him again.
While they weren’t completely back to normal yet, Rodney didn’t think that he would be able to handle going back to the animosity from just after Doranda. He might not be totally willing to forgive Sheppard for his previous actions yet, but that didn’t stop Rodney from being completely in love with the man. It appeared that nothing could do that.
“I was… well…I” Rodney closed his eyes for a moment and tried to calm his thoughts. “I think that Zelenka might be up to something.”
“Zelenka’s always up to something.” He seemed to pause for a second and what he said next made Rodney's eyes pop open. “It’s not about the still is is?”
“Still! He has a still. He could go blind, everyone could go blind, or explode. What the hell is he thinking?” Rodney took a breath, thought for a second, and decided that he was a little put out. “Why didn’t I know? Why didn’t he offer me some?”
Sheppard’s eyebrows rose up towards his hairline and an amused sort of grin spread across his face. “Probably because no one is supposed to know. Don’t feel so bad, he’s never offered me any either. So far as I know he’s never offered to anyone at all, which is why I’ve let him keep the thing running.”
Rodney pursed his lips, “Plus you’re hoping he’ll eventually give you some.”
“And I’m hoping he’ll eventually give me some.” Sheppard’s grin spread wider and Rodney could swear that he could see every one of his teeth. “So if it’s not the still, then what exactly is Zelenka up to?”
“Well he may, and I repeat may be planning some kind of retaliation against Captain Ridges and Captain Luks.”
The smile dropped off Sheppard’s face and he frowned, his forehead scrunched in consternation. “You mean Rigler and Lukas? Zelenka may be a vicious little Gnome of a man, but he’s not intentionally cruel. So you wanna tell me just exactly why he’s after these guys?”
Rodney blinked rapidly and looked away from Sheppard. “Rigler brought lunch to everyone today.”
“And that’s reason for Zelenka to go after the man? What’d he do, spit in the coffee?”
Rodney’s response was nearly a whisper and mumbled to boot, and he had no idea how Sheppard could have understood a single word. “He brought me lemon chicken.”
The silence that came after he spoke was louder than Rodney would have thought considering that nothing had been said. He brought his head back up and was shocked to see Sheppard white faced and thin lipped with anger. Sheppard took a step closer to Rodney, which brought their bodies within inches of touching and when he spoke it was in a very low, but intimidating voice.
“Rigler brought you food with lemon on it?” Rodney nodded reluctantly. Sheppard appeared to be even more angry than Radek had been. “He’s gone. If Zelenka doesn’t get him to leave voluntarily, then I’ll make him.”
“Okaaayy, I just wanted to make sure that Radek didn’t get punished. He’s the only one of my scientists who isn’t a complete moron and I refuse to lose him because of a few pranks. I…mmmphh”
Rodney’s babble was cutoff, surprisingly enough, by Sheppard's mouth colliding with his. The kiss was wholly unexpected on Rodney’s part and his mouth had been slightly parted causing a momentarily painful bumping of teeth on flesh. But then one of Sheppard’s hands found its way into Rodney’s hair and the other into the small of his back so that the other man could pull their bodies flush against one another.
Sheppard shifted his head and then amazingly enough, everything just fell into place. A tug on his bottom lip got Rodney to open up and Sheppard took complete advantage by licking his way inside. Rodney pressed forward into Sheppard and moaned into the kiss, having forgotten how incredible this felt.
They might have gone on this way forever, but the echoes of footsteps sounded in the corridor outside the jumper bay. Rodney pulled his mouth away and tried to follow suit with his body, but Sheppard held tight and would not let him move.
“No,” Sheppard, well John at this point, shook his head, still so close that his forehead brushed Rodney’s. “You could have died, fuck you could have died.”
“She...” Rodney closed his eyes, huffed slightly, and took a chance. “John, I’m fine. It’s not like he hid the lemon, he was being an ass, he wasn’t trying to kill me.”
John pulled back slightly, not enough to separate their bodies, but enough to look Rodney comfortably in the eye. “If you’d been busy… not paid attention… You could have fucking died! You don’t get to die, do you understand me… I can’t…I… just no. No!”
Rodney’s heart pounded so hard that he was more than a little afraid it might explode, or give him a heart attack. All of which was exacerbated by his brain screaming, ‘public, this is a public space.’ “John, please. I’m fine, I’m not going to die, but we have to stop, someone will catch us. You’ll get thrown out of the Air Force and everyone will hate me even more than they do so I’ll get fired and everyone will die!”
Rodney’s outburst caught John off guard, a quiet chuckle slipping out of his mouth. His arms tightened and he hugged Rodney his nose and mouth pressed against his ear where John left a soft kiss before pulling back to look at him.
The sincerity in John’s gaze was quickly matched by his words. “My career is not worth more than you. I might be forced to resign from the Air Force, but Elizabeth would fight tooth and nail to keep me here. To keep both of us here.”
Rodney finally relented, wrapped his arms around the slightly taller man, and rested his head Athosian style against John's. “I’m not worth that much. John, I nearly killed you.. and myself.”
Rodney fought back a sob as Sheppard leaned in and brushed their mouths together. “Stop, what happened was as much my fault as yours. It’s my job to reign you in and I…I let you down. Fuck, I was so angry afterwards because I nearly got you killed! I would die before I let anything happen to you.”
“John…I,” Rodney started to dispute John’s view of what had happened when suddenly their radios blared to life.
“Unscheduled wormhole activation! Colonel Sheppard, Dr. McKay you’re needed in the gate room now.” Chuck’s calm, but insistent voice pushed both men into action.
As they ran from the jumper bay to the gate room all Rodney could think was, ‘not Max, not Ronon.’ John seemed to be reading his mind and tried to ease his mind. “It’s probably not them. They were getting grain on a safe planet. They’re fine.”
Rodney would have replied in his most sarcastic tone, just how unlikely that any planet in this galaxy was safe when they caught sight of the new arrivals. As it turned out John was right, it wasn’t Ronon and his brother who came through the gate.
“Howdy folks.” Jack O’Neil gave a little sort of half wave to go with the giant smirk on his face.
SG1 was here.
Translation: Ten kus hovno!- That piece of shit!
Rodney was still shaken from the kiss in the jumper bay and stood frozen just inside the doors to the gate room. ‘They were early,’ was the loudest thought in his head followed closely by ‘He kissed me!’ Rodney shook his head trying to get his thoughts in order and heard the tail end of Weir’s conversation with O’Neill.
“…expecting Colonel Carter and Dr. Jackson.” She looked distinctly uncomfortable and slightly put out to find the entirety of SG1in their midst nearly three days early. “I mean we are always happy to have all of you here.”
O’Neill gazed around the gate room, his eyes briefly stopping on Rodney, before looking at Weir and smirking. “Nah, couldn’t risk it. Daniel alone I’m gonna have ta drag back by his hair. No telling what Carter’s gonna be like once she and McKay get going.”
Weir nodded, oddly enough, resembling a bobble-head doll as Daniel gave O’Neill a glare. Sam simply looked slightly annoyed as O’Neill went on. “Anyway, thought I’d tag along, keep em out of trouble, maybe get some fishing in.” O’Neill looked wistfully at the balcony.
Rodney figured that O’Neill’s desire to fish explained the tall, skinny bag and the now obvious tackle box that Teal’c was carrying. Rodney snorted which drew Daniel’s attention.
“Rodney! This place is amazing!” Daniel started towards Rodney rubbing his hands together gleefully and Rodney couldn’t help but smile. Daniel was like a kid in a candy store.
Though Rodney had worked for the SGC for years before coming to Atlantis, he and Daniel had not actually met until the Antarctic mission. Rodney had been ready and prepared for the other man to hate him on sight due to Rodney’s previous meetings with SG1. He’d been incredibly surprised when instead Daniel had put all that baggage behind him and become Rodney’s friend. He had been looking forward to seeing Daniel again, it was the rest of SG1 he was worried about.
“Yeah, it is.” Rodney looked at Sam hopefully. He had hopes that they could work together and put aside their differences for the foreseeable future. “I’ve got the lab all setup, if the two of you would like to get started?”
Sam grimaced and nodded her head, Rodney’s heart fell. He knew that it had been unrealistic to expect her to change her mind in the time he’d been on Atlantis. They’d been butting heads for a long time now, too long apparently for Sam to forgive and forget. He knew that most of the fault lay with him, but he had thought once that Sam understood, that she knew him better.
Rodney looked away and caught sight of John, his face heating as he took notice of the way John was looking at him. It was as if John didn't think he needed to hide his feelings, whatever they were, from anyone in the room. His heart started thumping so loudly in his chest that he was surprised that no one could hear it.
The kiss replayed itself in his mind again and Rodney forcefully directed himself away from that line of thought before anyone noticed. He’d been told many, many times that his face was an open book and he didn’t want Sheppard to be implicated in front of General O’Neill. Rodney turned to leave with a jerky wave of his hand in Daniel and Sam’s direction. But before he could even open his mouth to invite the scientists to come with him he was interrupted.
“McKay wait a minute.” Rodney stumbled as a hand stopped him abruptly. He turned slowly and discovered that the hand belonged to O’Neill. His lungs lodged themselves into his throat and he had to fight back a cough. “So, I hear you blew up a solar system?”
Rodney could only nod his eyes so wide they felt like they were bugging out, terrified was not a good look on him. Was this why all of SG1 had come to Atlantis? So that O’Neill could yell at him, further humiliate him in front of the city. Or worse did O’Neill plan to just fire him? He could have gone on and on with worse and worse thoughts, but when O’Neill next spoke it shocked Rodney out of his own head.
“Impressive, Sam only managed to blow up a sun.” O’Neill patted him once on the shoulder and looked back at Weir, who looked like she’d swallowed a very nasty bug. “How about some pie?”
Insane, Rodney decided that O’Neill had gone completely insane since the last time he’d seen the man. He had always known, heard rumors to the fact, that the General was a bit off. And although it worried him a bit to have this man in charge of the SGC, it was a good feeling knowing that he wasn’t angry with Rodney. Plus it was nice to see Weir so unsettled. She was still treating him like he was just looking to blow something else up.
“The cafeteria has Erdos-Berry pie right now Sir. It does go fast though, so…” John tilted his head towards the gate room doors which lead towards the cafeteria.
“Sounds great, lead on. We can talk about the Wraith while we’re at it too.” O’Neill held out a hand, in essence saying lead-on, and followed John out of the gate room, who winked and smiled at Rodney.
Teal’c raised an eyebrow, dumped the gear he was holding into a random Marine’s arms and followed with not a single look at Rodney. He was honestly relieved, he really didn’t want any of Teal’c’s attention.
“So…I guess if you’ll come with me, we can get started.” Daniel grinned and bounced in place obviously ready to get to work, but Sam looked like she’d rather do anything else.
Leading Daniel and Sam to the lab was not as easy as it sounded. Daniel stopped every few feet wanting to examine the architecture and anything else that caught his attention. His excitement over the city made Rodney wish that Daniel had been here from the beginning. It made him wonder if having Daniel here would have prevented some of their losses. If Daniel had been here to translate, instead of having to rely on the two inferior linguists they had brought with them, Weir, or himself.
Rodney was more than a little grateful that Daniel had taken the time to teach him the Ancient language before they had shipped out, but he still struggled with the more esoteric concepts outside of the scientific fields. Learning an entirely different language was a difficult prospect to being with, not that he’d ever had many problems with it, but learning an entirely dead language was another prospect altogether.
Sam on the other had seemed torn between amusement in watching Daniel act like a kid hopped up on sugar and her unhappiness in having to work with Rodney. He miserably remembered a time when he and Sam had been friends, best friends really.
They had met at MIT when Rodney was twelve and Sam was fifteen. It had been the first day of college for both of them and being that they were the youngest in the class, they had been partnered together. It had been difficult at first, Rodney was still gun shy around new people and Sam seemed to have chip on her shoulder about being a girl in a man’s field, but overtime a friendship had blossomed.
It was almost entirely his fault that their friendship had crashed and burned. After Derek had died Rodney had pushed her away, pushed everyone except Nan away. He’d been nasty and spiteful in the worst ways. Then when they had met up again at the SGC, he had treated her exactly how she had feared she would be treated by the men in their field.
He hadn’t realized just how bad he had gotten until he found himself on the way to Siberia, sent by a woman who had once been his best friend. The stress of pretending to be straight had made him bitter and it had bled over on her. It was was no excuse really and he had tried later to fix things after he’d come back from Siberia, but Sam hadn't been having it.
The lab was full when they finally got there, everyone working diligently on their individual projects. Radek and Miko stood at a lab table where everything had been moved, except for the mirror and a handful of tablets, each running a different diagnostic.
“Ah, Colonel Carter, Dr Jackson. Is nice to see you both again. Rodney and I have run every diagnostic three times now and we have nothing, we all hope you two can shed some light on mirror.” Radek gave the two a hopeful smile which turned slightly worried when he caught sight of Rodney.
Before Radek could ask what was wrong with Rodney, he interrupted. “Radek if you could show Sam the results of the most recent diagnostics? Miko, it’s going to be a full table here, I’d like you to go ahead and get started on this month’s power consumption figures. I’d like to cut another four percent if we can.”
“Of course Dr. Rodney. I believe that I may have some ideas that would help.” After Miko moved over to another lab table and began setting up, Rodney noticed that Sam was frowning at him.
“Don’t you think that four percent is a little petty and a waste of her time? Another Naquadah generator could pick up that four percent and give you some wiggle room for additional power needs down the road.” Rodney bristled and puffed himself up at the condescending tone in Sam’s voice.
“No. I don’t think it’s petty, I think it’s necessary. Everything in this city that can run on a Naquadah generator already is. There are certain systems, like the shield or the long range sensors that can only pull power from the Zed-PM and we need to save as much power as we can. The wraith don’t know we survived, but they will eventually find out the truth. We have to reserve as much power for the shield as we can.”
“That’s a little fatalistic don’t you think. It could be years or hell, they may never find out the city survived. If you cut the power usage down then you may not find something we need to fight the Goa’uld.” Rodney took a deep breath and forced himself to calm down. He opened his mouth to further explain, but the need was taken out of his hands.
“The Wraith will find us. One can only hide from the Wraith for so long and we do much to show our selves on other worlds. They will come and we must be prepared. Rodney has kept us alive and well in this city, you are an interloper. Do not disparage him in front of his people, it is disrespectful.” Teyla’s voice was calm, but there was no mistaking the threat in her voice.
Rodney moved to see how Sam was taking Teyla’s decree and caught sight of several of the scientists, Radek and Miko included, nodding their heads in agreement. It was a show of support for him, the first since Doranda and Rodney had to swallow hard against the lump in his throat. Teyla shifted to face Rodney, effectively dismissing Sam.
“I sought you out to determine the reason you missed our sparring session earlier, but I now understand. We will reschedule for tomorrow, same time.” Teyla’s warm brown eyes sparkled in amusement, but he could tell she was serious all the same.
“As long as nothing comes up.” Teyla gave a slight bow of the head and made her way out of the lab leaving Rodney happy and relaxed.
He turned back to the table to see Daniel smirking as he poured through the notes attached to the device and Radek wiggled his eyebrows at Rodney, once again reminding him of a crazed chimpanzee. Rodney took a seat on a stool next to Sam and began to give her the rundown on the device.
Rodney took a final bite of the meatloaf, no lemon in sight this time, and read over the results of the latest diagnostic. After reviewing everything that had been done, Sam had quietly, and amazingly enough respectfully suggested testing a small shaving of the device itself. Rodney had been hesitant to damage the device in any way, but had realized they were getting nowhere. The results of the test had come in just as the team was eating a very late, and somewhat cool dinner two days later.
Unfortunately, all the testing had done was show that the device was made of a variation of Naquadah, incredibly similar to the original quantum mirrors and a highly refined native Pegasus wood. They weren’t getting anywhere. Well, Rodney, Sam, and Radek weren’t getting anywhere.
Daniel on the other hand had identified eight devices from the ‘what the hell is it’ box, as it had been lovingly nicknamed by the other scientists, and passed along the information. What he had not found mention of was the device in question. It seemed as though the mirror was going to continue to be difficult.
“Maybe we need to take a break. We’ve been at this for two days solid and I need a shower.” Sam sniffed distastefully towards her armpit and grimaced. “I smell and I think you’ll find that none of you are exactly as fresh as Daisies.”
Daniel blinked at her owlishly from behind his glasses, it wasn’t hard to see the circles of exhaustion under his eyes. Radek didn’t look much better with his hair lying flat and limp, as if even it had no energy. Rodney himself had been drinking an enormous amount of coffee to keep going, enough to give Carson a coronary if he knew.
“I think you’re right. We all need some downtime, a shower and a night’s sleep’ll probably help more than anything at this point.” Rodney got up and along with everyone started to stow their portions of the project when John burst into the room.
“Rodney, I need you in the ready room and geared up in fifteen!”
Rodney’s heart leapt into his throat and a chill filled his body. “Wha…”
“Lorne’s team missed their check-in half an hour ago and we haven’t been able to raise them.” Sheppard looked frustrated and angry. “Colonel Carter, Dr. Jackson, General O’Neill volunteered SG1 as backup, if you’d follow us, time could be of the essence.”
Daniel and Sam joined Rodney and John as they started the trek from the labs to the ready room off a corridor near the gate room. “Teyla?”
“She was visiting with the Athosians last night, I radioed her when we couldn’t raise them. Her jumper should be here in 10.” Rodney nodded and kept moving.
Entering the ready room they found O’Neill and Teal’c already gearing up and Sam and Daniel went for the additional gear laid out for them. Rodney went over to his own locker and began to strip his uniform as quickly as he could. Normally Rodney wouldn’t take his clothes off around the rest of the team and he was reminded of why when a gasp sounded as soon as his shirt was off. He looked over his shoulder and saw John starting at him with wide eyes and a pinched mouth.
Rodney shook his head slightly, “After John, after.” Rodney could tell that John wanted an answer right now, but accepted that they had more important things to deal with than what had happened to Rodney over twenty years ago. Neither man caught the shared look between the members of SG1 or the look of sorrow that clouded Sam’s face.
Rodney pulled his off world uniform on, secured his sidearm to his leg, and moved over to John so that he could tighten and double check all his straps. As he made his way out he saw that everyone else was ready as well and they all made their way over to an auxiliary armory that served the gate room and gate teams in an emergency. John was handing out P-90’s and ammo when Teyla reached them.
She took her own weapon and after securing it, she pulled Rodney to her so that their foreheads met. “You must believe that they will be fine.” Rodney pulled away and ignored the strange looks that SG1 was giving them.
“We can’t know that, they could already be dead or taken!” Rodney felt a tendril of panic begin to weave its way up his spine.
John got into his face and hands cupping his jaw like he was going to kiss him, but only he didn’t. “Teyla’s right. We don’t know what’s happened and we need you to stay calm. Okay?” John waited until Rodney nodded before letting go and starting towards the gate room.
In the gate room, Weir waited for them next to the gate and seeing them she turned to the operations center, “Chuck dial the gate.”
Standing in front of the gate waiting for it to connect, Rodney felt the hairs on the back of his neck raise and he looked back to see Tura standing just inside the room next to the door with Quora at her side. The strength that he could see in the two women was astounding and he knew he would do anything to bring Ronon back to her alive.
Quora’s face was white with stress and her hands were clenched tightly in front of her. She had not wavered in her belief that Rodney and Max were her sons and it broke his heart to see this poor woman in so much pain and be unable to help. If something happened to him or Max then this woman would mourn the death of her son’s all over again, no matter if they were her sons or not.
The gate opened and he heard Weir give them the go ahead, but his eyes were still locked on Tura and Quora. It was Tura mouthing the words come home safe that pushed him into action and he turned back to the gate and followed his team through the gate.
Stepping through the gate into the bright sunlight made him squint, but even with the warmth from the bright afternoon sun his blood ran cold. He didn’t need Teyla’s growl of Wraith to recognize the sound of the darts in the air. Immediately they took off towards the tree line at a run, their guns in hand and eyes towards the sky.
They hit the shelter of the forest canopy just as a single dart flew overhead its beam missing the edge of O’Neill’s boot by mere centimeters. Rodney, John, and Teyla immediately turned and began to fire on the dart with SG1 following suit not far behind. The dart took a fatal hit from Teal’c’s staff weapon, but had enough time before exploding to beam down several Wraith.
The Wraith raised their weapons and began to fire as they moved toward the tree line the team had taken cover in. Rodney dropped to the ground as a blast hit the tree next to him and watched as a barrage of gunfire took down two of the Wraith, but had little effect on the others. Rodney pulled himself back up to his feet and began to fire at a Wraith that had suddenly come up behind Teal’c. The Wraith changed course and lunged at Rodney snagging hold of his gun and throwing him against a tree.
A crack and a burst of pain across his chest pulled a yelp from his mouth. Every breath he pulled hurt and when he looked up he saw the Wraith closing in on him with none of his team aware of the peril he was in. He tried to fire his P-90 at the Wraith, but the tigger was jammed, most likely from the impact with the tree. The Wraith snarled and grinned, it’s sharp shark-like teeth bared at Rodney as it stalked closer obviously enjoying his fear and pain.
Rodney hurriedly reached down and fumbled the clap on his holster open and jerked his sidearm up and at the Wraith. The Wraith’s lip curled and it speed up, but before it could reach him Rodney emptied his clip into the Wraith’s chest and face finally dropping the damn thing.
Grimacing and trying to pull himself up with the help of the tree he’d been thrown into Rodney grunted and groaned trying to keep from screaming at the pain in his chest. When he was finally vertical, or as vertical as he was going to get with the pain radiating from what he assumed was a broken rib or two he discovered John and Sam taking out the final Wraith.
Teyla and Teal’c were making their way over to Rodney at a fast pace and O’Neill appeared to be watching the sky for more darts, Daniel laying on the ground next to him, apparently having been hit by a stunner, Sam tending to him. Teyla reached Rodney first and placed a hand on his side. His knees buckled and he would have dropped back onto the ground had it not been for Teal’c.
The last Wraith dead John turned and sprinted over to Rodney and helped Teal’c and Teyla slowly lower him into a sitting position.
“I think that he may have broken some ribs.” Teyla stated quietly her hand hovering anxiously over the left side of his rib cage.
“I concur.” Teal’c knelt beside Rodney and braced him as John and Teyla worked to unclip his gun and remove his vest. Teal’c’s deep voice sounded in his ear, his words quiet but heartfelt. “You saved my life, I will not forget.”
“I….ahh… I think we’re e…even.” Teal’c flashed a rare smile at Rodney and nodded. Suddenly free of the vest Rodney felt his shirt being pushed up to his armpits and he turned his head back towards John.
John’s lips were tight and pale from being clenched so tightly. Rodney swore he could almost hear his teeth grinding. “We’re gonna have that talk later.”
Rodney nodded not trusting his voice, fairly certain he’d scream as they began to snugly wrap a bandage around his chest. His shirt was dropped back down and they started to put his vest back on when the sound of gunfire filled the air.
“We’ve got friendlies headed this way! We gotta move! The natives don’t appear to be all that friendly anymore!” O’Neill yelled back at them and let his weapon fall to his side. He reached down and looped an arm under one of Daniel’s shoulders and with Sam doing the same on the other side began to haul him back across the open field to the gate.
“Fuck!” John looked back at Rodney and then reluctantly turned to Teal’c. “Can you get him to the gate? I gotta help my men.”
Teal’c answered by way of hauling Rodney up against his side and all but dragging him towards the gate. Up ahead he could see that O’Neill and Sam had nearly reached the gate, Daniel propped awkwardly between them he and Teal’c not far behind.
The sound of gunfire got closer and he could see O’Neill reach the stone monoliths that had prevented the jumpers, but apparently not the darts, from flying in.
The first of the gunfire reached Rodney and Teal’c within seconds of the two ducking behind one of the still intact monoliths continuing to make their way to the gate. The gate in sight he could see Sam punching in the gate coordinates on the DHD while O’Neill kept Daniel propped up. Just as Rodney was about to begin protesting leaving without his team or his brother Parrish and Halling, who’d gone along as a diplomat, cleared the rocks carrying an injured Cadman between them.
The sound of gunfire got closer and the entire group moved towards the now open gate as Rodney entered the IDC code. He saw Sam drag Daniel through the gate just as he and Teal’c came up to the DHD when suddenly gunfire caused him and Teal’c to drop to the ground. The pain of colliding with the ground took his breath away and prevented him from screaming. O’Neill was forced through the gate by the gunfire and the other three had to drop down onto the ground to avoid taking bullets.
He could see that somehow a smallish group of natives had gone around and beat the others to the gate. Teal’c was firing and his attention was directed at the natives and did not see Ronon starting to clear the rocks. One of the natives did however and for Rodney it seemed like time had slowed to a crawl.
He could see what would happen next and he couldn’t let it. He could not bring a body home to Tura, he couldn’t let Ronon die. The pain in his chest was fierce, but Rodney pushed against it forcing himself to his feet and ignoring the yells of Parrish and Cadman he immediately began to run towards Ronon. For a moment, just a moment he didn’t think he would reach him in time, but then a horrific pain burst through his back and his continued momentum forced Ronon back and to the ground safely out of the line of fire.
He could hear an anguished roar near his head and then more pain as someone collided with his body. He turned his head to see who it was and was met by the sight of John with tears running down his face. He took a breath to ask what was wrong, but darkness over took him first.