On Monday, Radek tried to kill him.
That wasn’t even the weirdest thing that had happened this week.
Rodney was perplexed when he had arrived back at the lab after his lunch break to find Miko and Radek arm wrestling. The other scientists were looking on, some with interest, others with apprehension.
“Uh, Radek, what the hell are you doing?”
“We are having an arm wrestle, Rodney. I would have thought that was very obvious.”
“Yes I can see that. But, unless I’ve fallen into an alternate universe, you’re supposed to be running a diagnostic on that new piece of Ancient tech we discovered yesterday. Not arm wrestling with Miko of all people.”
“I will run diagnostic as soon as I am done here.”
“Shut up Rodney.”
Rodney gaped at Radek’s impoliteness. Such conduct was completely out of character for his fellow scientist. Before Rodney had any time to even call him out on it, Miko’s arm forced Radek’s wrist down onto the table with a fierce push. She jumped up, rejoicing.
“I win Bitch!”
If Rodney had been put off by Radek’s behavior, he was absolutely appalled by Miko’s.
“Dr. Kusanagi, what-”
“You. This is your fault.” Radek was looking at Rodney with pure rage.
“Aww don’t blame Dr. McKay. It isn’t your fault you’re a sore loser!” Miko cried.
“No it’s his fault! He distracted me!”
“I hardly see how it’s my fault you lost. Now if you two would like to explain to me why you’re behaving like this-” Rodney cut off as something hard hit his nose, knocking him off balance. Radek had punched him.
“Oh my god, you just punched me!”
“I’ll kill you!”
Rodney rushed to move out of Radek’s way as he took another swing at the astrophysicist’s face. “Radek, I don’t know what’s going on, but you need to calm down! You’re not yourself-”
Chills ran up Rodney’s spine. He’d heard that tone of voice before, but never from Radek. He’d heard it from Wraith, Genii, Replicators, but never Radek. Never his friend. Suddenly Radek grabbed on of the tools sitting on the work bench next to him, and ran towards him. Rodney yelped and ran behind a table, pausing for only a moment to watch in horror as Radek lunged across the table at him. He quickly moved back and turned into the corridor, feet slipping on the polished floor, hands pushing him back up to keep running as he frantically tapped his earpiece.
“McKay to security! Radek’s gone insane and is literally trying to kill me with a wrench!”
As he dashed down the hall, turning the corner he heard Bates’s voice. “He finally snapped huh? Honestly I’m surprised he put up with you this long.”
“Hardy har Sergeant. I’m not kidding-” he cut himself off as the fl oor abruptly ended and became a flight of stairs. Unfortunately, Rodney’s feet hadn’t gotten the message in time.
As he fell, he could hear Bates shouting in his ear, and what sounded like John, Elizabeth, and, maybe Carson? And who was that screaming? Oh. Oh . That was him screaming. There was the thudding of several footsteps drawing closer, and wow, the floor was cold, and hard, and where is Radek? Where did he go? Oh, there he is, coming right at him with the wrench.
Rodney jumped up from where he was crumpled at the base of the stairs and began to run again. He didn’t get very far before Radek caught up with him, grabbing his shoulder and swinging the wrench into his back.
“Zelenka! Stand down!” Sheppard, Bates, and team of marines stood over the two scientists with their weapons drawn. Instead of stopping his assault of his colleague, Zelenka responded to the order to stand down by swinging the wrench at Bates’s face. Fortunately for the sergeant, he caught it and twisted it out of Zelenka’s hand. He and a marine then grabbed Zelenka and wrestled him to the ground. Sheppard came over to assist Rodney in standing up. “You okay buddy?”
“Oh I don’t know. I’m probably dying from internal bleeding or some sort of hemorrhage from falling down the stairs. And I’m positive my shoulder broke when Radek tried to beat me to death with a blunt force object. And I have no idea why the hell my friend would suddenly go postal and decide to take his homicidal urges out on me, but I’m sure there is some perfectly logical explanation such as mind control, alien possession, or possibly a sudden case schizophrenia. But don’t worry I’m sure I’m absolutely A-Okay.”
“Well that’s good to hear. I still think it might be best to get both of you to the infirmary.”
“Gee, good thinking Colonel. Where would Atlantis be without you?”
As it turned out, apart from some minor bruises, McKay was fine. Zelenka, on the other hand, was not.
“I’ve run all the tests I can think of. There is no conclusive reason as to why Radek would be behavin’ in such a way as this.” Carson’s scottish brogue cut through the minor argument Rodney and John were having in the infirmary, as to whether or not Zelenka could’ve been replaced by a murderous reptile person.
“I’ve run several scans, blood tests, and urine samples. There are no signs of drugs, chemical imbalances, tumors, or even anemia.”
“You thought he attacked me because he was anemic?”
“No Rodney. The point is there is no medical reason as to why he is actin’ this way.”
“What about psychological?” Elizabeth inquired.
“Well, Kate’s still talking to him now, but so far she’s ruled out blocked memories, trauma, and hypnosis.”
“Hypnosis? You can really hypnotize people into killing someone? Cool.” Sheppard mused. Rodney gave him a disgusted look.
“Anyway, the most likely suspect right now is that for whatever reason, Radek’s mental state has been altered in someway, and drastically. We aren’t sure what’s caused it, just that it seems to be affectin’ others in the city as well. I don’t think Miko is typically one to run around yellin’ profanities like a sorority girl, but apparently that’s all she’s been doing this morning. And we’ve been getting complaints of Dr. Kavanaugh bein’ polite.”
“Yes, he’s been pullin’ out chairs for people, sayin’ hello and thank you. He even smiled at someone.”
“God, that’s terrifying.” Rodney cringed.
“Exactly. Whatever’s been affectin’ Radek is spreading.”
Elizabeth crossed her arms. “Well then we need to stop gate activity until we figure out what’s causing this behavior. I’ll make a city wide announcement, and John I think you should check up on your people, see if anyone is acting oddly. We need to make sure this isn’t a new tactic to catch us off guard and take over the city.”
“Aye, and I’d like to do a medical exam of all personnel to make sure there isn’t some cause my scans are missing.”
“I wish I could say I’ll get the scientists working on figuring out why this is happening,” Rodney interjected. “But unfortunately it seems like all the Dr. Jekyll’s have left the building. My best people are already being affected by this thing, and I can’t have Radek working on a project with me if he’s prone to hulk out at any moment.”
Elizabeth nodded. “Just do your best Rodney. If anyone can figure out what’s going on it’s you. The expedition is in your hands.”
“I believe this is the part where I say ‘No pressure’ right?”
So far, Rodney wasn’t having any luck. He had gone over the activities of every scientist over the last week and none stood out to him as potential triggers for the odd behaviors of the expedition. On top of that, pretty much all the scientists had succumbed to the effects of whatever this thing was. Laura Cadman had been spotted brushing her hair and threatened anyone who tried to stop her with pain of death. Major Lorne had discovered Dr. Parrish in his quarters with all the lights out and the windows blackened, listening to Suicide Silence on full volume, and repeating some mantra about the establishment being a lie and how corporate commercialism controls our lives. Kate Heightmeyer had been confined to quarters after she kept insulting people and acting indifferent towards their problems, mainly Katie Brown, who had come to see her with a uncharacteristic urge to steal pretty much anything from everyone. Shortly after, Katie had tried to steal a few naquadah generators, so Sheppard deemed it best she be confined to quarters as well. Pretty much all the rest of the scientists had been discovered having a shooting contest on the west pier, organized and run by Miko. It had been difficult to break that up, but eventually the scientists had either been sent to their quarters or to the infirmary sporting some gun related injuries. Thankfully, none were too serious.
“Any luck Rodney?” John Sheppard drawled as he strolled into the room.
“Hello Colonel! Would you like a cup of coffee? A power bar? A back rub?” Kavanaugh inquired.
“Uh no thanks.”
Rodney groaned. “I would probably have more luck if I wasn’t stuck working with Howdy Doody over there. He’s useless on a good day, but now he’s downright intolerable!”
“Well at the moment the Doc doesn’t think this… situation is likely to be a fatal one. Just, odd. So how about you and I go and grab something to eat and we can take a break in my quarters? I have The Search for Spock.”
“Sure! Let me just shut down the equipment in here. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m actually glad I have so many incompetent morons working for me. At least I don’t have to close up the lab.”
“See? I told you they had to be useful for something.”
On Tuesday, Elizabeth was sad. And by sad, Rodney meant absolutely hysterical.
He had woken up in John’s quarters, as he often did after movie night. They had fallen asleep on John’s bed sometime between the third and fourth movie, and now Rodney’s back was killing him because John’s was much too soft, not like his own prescription one, but his sheets were nice and the bed was warmer when someone else was in it too. He slowly opened his eyes and suppressed a groan at the weight across his body, pinning him to the bed. A sleeping John was really just an octopus in disguise, and Rodney had fun from time to time teasing the Colonel about his need to cuddle. Not that he’d ever admit it, he kind of liked waking up next to John, and even enjoyed the cuddling occasionally. But that was not a thing you said to your straight manly best friend, no matter how much heteronormativity annoyed you. If you wanted to continue waking up being cuddled, you kept your mouth shut. This was something Rodney had learned in life, although unfortunately, it had not translated to any other relationships, so he still found himself insulting people until they hated him. Oh well.
“John. I have to pee. Move.”
John groaned sleepily. “Ughh… sorry buddy.” The arm was removed from Rodney’s body and he got up to go relieve himself. When he returned, John was already dressed and talking on his comm.
“Major, calm down. Okay we’ll be right up. Oh and call Dr. Beckett and tell him to hurry.”
“What’s going on?”
“There’s a situation in the gate room. Elizabeth has been affected by whatever is making people act differently.”
“What’s she doing? Did she hurt anyone?”
“...No. But she’s freaking pretty much everyone out.”
“Oh my god, that is terrifying.”
When Rodney and John arrived in the gate room, they were even more shocked at the sight of their strong leader than when they’d heard the news ten minutes before. Elizabeth was sobbing, loudly and grossly, with snot and tears and spit, wailing about how no one loved her and she would die alone. She was draped over Major Lorne's arm, clutching it like it was the only thing keeping her alive. Dr. Beckett knelt on the ground next to her, a syringe in hand, and Rodney could see the gurney and team of nurses lurking in the background.
“Elizabeth, ya have to let me see you. I promise this will make ya feel better.”
“NO! I’ll never feel better! Not until I’m loved! And that will never happen! Never!”
“I know you feel like that right now love, but yer not yerself right now. Please let me help you.”
“No! No! I don’t want-” Carson suddenly snapped forward, jabbing Elizabeth in the arm and pressing the plunger into her skin. Within seconds, she had slumped against Lorne, who then helped the nurses put her on the gurney.
Rodney shook his head. This couldn’t go on.
“I’m going down to the lab to see if I can make any headway. We can’t let Elizabeth, or anyone else to continue on this way. It’s weird, and frankly terrifying and I’m sure they’re not too happy about it either.”
John nodded somberly. “Okay. I’ll see what I can do to make things run more smoothly up here, since Elizabeth is out of commission. Good luck Rodney.”
Rodney thought he was going to need it.
On Wednesday, Teyla danced the “Macarena”.
Well she had been dancing non-stop since whatever it was started happening, but it was on Wednesday that she discovered the popular Earth songs that were referred to as line dances. After twenty listens to the “Cha Cha Slide”, and twenty-two listens of “Y.M.C.A.”, she had decided that the “Macarena” was the best, and had begun to slowly make her way around the city inviting people to join her. Rodney had had to lock himself in the lab with Kavanaugh that day, to avoid the giant Conga line that had formed. Eventually, however, he’d had to send Kavanaugh away because “Can I help you? Are you sure? Are you positive?” started to get really annoying after three hours. On top of all this, he had still not made any headway with what exactly was causing the situation.
On Thursday, John had come to visit him, and asked him to babysit Ronon.
At this point, all those left unaffected had come to agree that it was getting really weird around Atlantis. Most of all the dangerous people had been locked up, and so what was left was various scientists and marines acting bizarre. Ronon, however, was by far the weirdest.
He was behaving like a child.
John had taken to bringing him along everywhere he went. As long as he gave Ronon crayons and paper to draw with or some other distracting activity, he was pretty much calm, but if he got bored, well then, it was best to duck and cover. Imagine a giant child over six feet tall throwing a temper tantrum. Chairs were thrown, mugs were shattered, and there were even a few laptop casualties. Unfortunately, Rodney had nothing for Ronon to do to keep him occupied, so he decided to improvise.
“Hey Ronon, do you wanna watch some movies?”
And they proceeded to watch all three “Back To The Future” movies. Rodney got no work done that day, because every time he tried to get up and go work while Ronon was engrossed in the movie, the large Satedan would start whining and grab his arm, and Rodney really didn’t want him destroying the lab in another tantrum.
On Friday, John did something… weird. So weird in fact, Rodney had to taser him in self defense.
They were sitting on Rodney’s bed, watching Battlestar Galactica. The popcorn had long been finished and Rodney was honestly beginning to doze off. He was tired from staying up the whole night before trying to figure out why everyone was acting strangely. So far, the only connection he and Carson had been able to come up with was that only people without the ATA gene were being affected. This was actually incredibly useful, as it meant that whatever was causing this phenomenon was geared towards anyone who was not an Ancient, meaning that it was being caused most likely by Atlantis herself, as some sort of defense mechanism. However, they had made no progress as to what part of Atlantis’s defenses were actually at fault. Rodney had gone nearly two days without sleep trying to figure it out when John had shown up and dragged him out of the lab to take break. Thus, ending up watching tv on John’s laptop in Rodney’s room.
“Hey buddy, you tired? We can turn this off and I can let you get some sleep.”
“No, no, I’m fine just resting my eyes.”
“Rodney, you’ve been up since Wednesday-”
“I’m fine John.”
There was no reply. Rodney cracked an eye open to find John staring at him with a thoughtful expression on his face. “What? Is there something on my face?”
“No, I um… just really like it when you call me ‘John’. Not Colonel or Sheppard, just John.”
“Well you’re welcome then. I guess.”
When John still hadn’t stopped staring at him, Rodney started to get a sinking feeling in his gut. “Why are you still staring at me?”
“You’re just so… cute.”
Now Rodney was wide awake. Did his straight-as-an-arrow, Kirk-like, platonic-best-friend John Sheppard just call him cute? Oh yeah, something was definitely up. “ What did you just say?”
“I said you’re cute.”
“Why are you cute?”
“No, why did you say that?”
“I dunno, because you are.”
“John, pay attention. I think you’re being affected by the- the thing that’s making everyone act weird.”
“But I have the ATA gene.”
“Then we were wrong. You’re being affected.”
“I really don’t think I am.”
“Yes you are! You have to be.”
“What do you mean I have to be?”
“Because, there’s no other explanation as to why anyone would find me cute!”
Rodney was hyperventilating now, panicked breathing filling the silence in the room. John was staring at him again, this time in shock. “You can’t really think that about yourself."
“I don’t think anything. It’s a proven fact. Now please let me call Carson so he can-”
There was a flurry of movement, and suddenly John was coming towards him, fast. In a panic, Rodney reached behind him for the concealed taser he’d been carrying since Radek had attacked him on Monday, and threw his arm out at John, pressing the trigger. He watched at John’s body convulsed with electricity, and then fell limp on his bedroom floor. Breathing a watery sigh, Rodney slid down the wall into a fetal position and tapped his radio.
“McKay to Carson.”
“What’s wrong Rodney?”
“I need a medical team to my quarters. John’s been affected.”
“We’ll be right there. What are his symptoms?”
“He’s unconscious, I had to tase him. He- he attacked me.”
“I’m on my way Rodney.”
Rodney nodded, even though he knew Carson couldn’t see him. He didn’t take his eyes off John, for fear that at any moment he’d wake up, and Rodney didn’t know what he would do if he had to face an angry and confused John on his own. Hopefully, Carson would be there soon, and then he’d be safe.