Atlantis was safe. Or as safe as it ever was, anyway. Sure, she had about a million holes in her that hadn't been there before. Sure, about eight dozen different systems were fritzing out citywide. Sure, just about every person here would be needed to pull her back together again, and probably soon.
But as far as Rodney was concerned, that was for later. Much, much later, when he didn't feel like every cell of his body had been transmuted to lead by the strange alchemy of stress, when his eyes weren't made of the kind of grainy rock that sent the geologists into spasms of delight (at least, he's always assumed it was delight – who knew with earth-scientists?), when he wasn't so goddamned tired that he'd happily allow a wraith to drain him in the absolute certainty that there wasn't enough life left in his veins to sustain a gnat, let alone a homicidal alien warrior.
Someone touched his shoulder. Light, questioning, with none of the demand that had accompanied his every contact over the past ... god, how long was it, now? Didn't matter. It was over, and he had every right to refuse the silent question asked by those tentative fingers. But ... they had taken the care to ask, and not demand. That kind of care ... it deserved a response. With herculean effort, he raised his head from the pillow of his arms, and met Radek's exhausted gaze with his own. The other scientist's mouth twitched a little, as close to a smile as his tired facial muscles could manage.
"Time to sleep?" the little Czech asked, his english flattened beneath the weight of exhaustion, not to mention the aching head where Ford had kibitzed him. Even his accent was subdued. Rodney blinked blearily, waiting for his brain to process the words, and nodded, trying valiantly to keep his head from falling off while he did so. Radek's fingers tightened on his shoulders in sympathy, with strength Rodney could hardly believe under the circumstances. How had Radek managed to hold onto it?
"Sleep sounds like a plan," he rasped, blinking at the crushed sound of his own voice, idly wondering how difficult it would be to chew someone out in this state. But even the thought of it made him slump, so he put it from his mind, and focused what was left of his willpower on bullying his body to its feet. Radek helped as much as he could, what with not having the energy himself to pull the bulkier Canadian up, but Rodney appreciated the stabilizing grip on his arm. "Thanks," he murmured, not even pausing to consider his reputation. Radek smiled that little smile again in response, not bothering with words.
Damn, but they were tired.
Elizabeth looked at them once as they turned awkwardly to leave, arm in arm. Well, it was that or fall over, Rodney justified to himself. With the hours he and Radek had just worked, the miracles they'd managed to pull out of thin air with no sleep and bugger all food ... Rodney figured they were allowed to help each other stagger to their quarters. Okay, there might be a problem once they had to split up, and Rodney wondered if he could convince Radek to drop him off first before the little scientist made his way home, but then again ... that would hardly be fair, would it? Oh well. They'd figure it out when they came to it.
"We're going to bed," he ground out. Not whining, not petulant. Not enough energy for that. Just a fact. "Anything short of another Wraith fleet, or the end of the universe, talk to someone else." He paused for a second, thought about it. "Actually, no. Even those. I couldn't do anything about it anyway, and this time I want to face imminent destruction while warm, horizontal and sleeping."
"Do not forget snoring," Radek murmured beside him, a wisp of teasing in his voice, barely distinguishable beneath the accent, but Rodney's lips twitched anyway, and his shoulders straightened a fraction in an instinctive shadow of his usual affront. Elizabeth smiled tolerantly at them, the shadow of exhaustion clear in her own eyes.
"Understood," she said softly. Then her smile faded a little, and something came into her eyes that was utterly serious. Relief and pain and gratitude, and hope. And Rodney flinched from the look, coiling away from the need and the gratitude hiding behind Elizabeth's ever-present strength. He didn't want it. He didn't want to be the person someone that strong leaned on. But ... he had saved them, he and Radek (and everyone else, yes, even Sheppard, but he was too damn tired to think about that moron), and he was just going to have to live with the consequences.
The moment stretched out a little, almost unreal, and for a second Rodney thought he could actually feel time, as if it were a physical, tangible entity, and as his brain dizzily sought for the right equation to explain the phenomenon, he could feel the weight of Elizabeth's proud, tired gaze, and the warmth of Radek's arm, and the absolute weight of the universe, and suddenly going to sleep right then and there seemed such a good idea ...
A stream of barely vocalised Czech in his ear, and Rodney straightened as fast as his body would allow, cursing as his back twinged insistently in complaint. But Radek hardly deserved to be dragged down with him, not this stage. Shaking his head to clear it, Rodney shoved determinedly at the fuzzy wall of tiredness behind his eyes, beating it back by main force while he stood straight and free, nodding slightly to Radek as he pulled back to let the man focus on keeping himself upright rather than Rodney. Not much of a gesture, under the circumstances, but Rodney was far too tired to figure out anything else. Besides. Radek smiled in thanks, so all was well.
Deciding abruptly that waiting around here for his body to finally give in and collapse was not the best of plans, he started moving. Slow, deliberate steps, a steady rhythm that he could hopefully sustain all the way to his quarters. He probably could, though. He'd learned this walk, this movement, from all the years of blood-sugar crashes that teacher after teacher had refused to believe were anything other than the whining of an arrogant boy. He could do this in his sleep.
In fact, for all intents and purposes, he was doing it in his sleep.
Some steps later, Radek caught up with him, worming his wiry arm back around Rodney's, and together they feel easily into the steps of the walking dead. Zombie scientists. Argh! Run away! Rodney chuckled deliriously, and for some reason, somewhere between telepathy and just a desperate need for something to laugh at, the little Czech joined in. Snickering, they wove their way drunkenly out of the control room, down corridors that seemed to blur and twist, staggering over each other and running into walls more times than Rodney had the energy to count, or care about. Sleepwalking. Drunk on exhaustion and the distant joy of still being alive to be tired. Whatever. They made it.
Rodney's room. Or was it Radek's? Which one of them had been driving, again? A room, anyway. With a bed. A real bed, not a floor, not a hideyhole under machinery, snatching naps. An actual bed. He could swear he was drooling at the thought. They stood there for a long second, still locked together, swaying gently in tandem, when Rodney recognised that there was probably something he should do about the door in the way. Blinking at himself, vaguely annoyed, he muttered at Atlantis. Open. Door. Open the door. A second later, she did, and if maybe he thought she was laughing at him, he didn't care. He didn't care. He staggered doggedly towards the door and the promised nirvana beyond. Sleep. God. Sleep.
Except. Except. Something tugged at his arm, almost toppling him, and he looked around in glacial startlement to see Radek's sheepish expression hovering just behind him. He blinked at it, until it seemed to reattach itself to Radek's face, then opened his mouth.
"Huh?" he asked, intelligently. Radek flushed, and mumbled something inaudible and possibly Czech. Rodney shook his head, carefully. "Huh?" he repeated, and Radek's sheepish expression grew.
"Must release me," he explained softly, gesturing with one hand to the arm Rodney still had hooked around his own. "Find own room, yes?"
Rodney blinked at him, looking stupidly at the arm he held, then back towards the room and the bed, then back at Radek's tired and flushing face, his tipsy bandage and skewed glasses. He thought about the man staggering on alone, punch-drunk, bouncing off walls, and wow, no. Wrong. Not good. Shut up, brain, and go to sleep.
"No," he managed, watching as Radek blinked at him. "No. Not worth the effort. Stay here?" Questioning, at the end, but really they were both too tired for this to be interpreted as anything but what it was, just two people collapsing in more or less the same spot, and he'd always figured Radek to be basically sensible. A theory confirmed when the little man blinked a bit, owlishly, and nodded.
"Ano," Radek whispered, at the end of his rope. "Ano." And yay, and huzzah, and oh god, let me have some sleep.
It was a tight fit, but neither of them really noticed. Radek did remember to take off his glasses, and Rodney actually managed to remove his shoes and one of Radek's too. Eighteen hours later, when he blinked briefly awake, he found that really surprising. He probably should have found the head nestled under his shoulder and the sleepy breath tickling his nose a bit more surprising. But hey, Radek. Tired. Sleepy. Achey. Comfortable. Who cared why?
Snuggling closer, wriggling to wake up a dead leg, smiling at Radek's answering grunt and cling, Rodney cheerfully went back to sleep.
They were alive. Anything else, they could sort out later.