Rodney sat in the pitch black of the tunnel, and wished for magic for the first time in years. God, what he wouldn't give to be able to cast a healing Integro right now. Or a Reducto to clear the damn cave-in separating them from Teyla and Ford. Or even Lumos. At least then he could tell where the hell the Major was losing so much blood from.
Sheppard moaned softly, and Rodney swallowed the lump in his throat.
"Hey, John" he said shakily while inspecting the Major with trembling hands. "This whole trapped and wounded in a cave deal? You're taking the Star Trek thing way too far. I mean, really, can this be any more cliché? I expected better of you. Not 'City on the Edge of Forever' better, obviously, but something on par with 'The Best of Both Worlds,' at least."
"I am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is futile," came the soft response.
Rodney smiled despite himself. "Yeah, well, I'm warning you now. If the facial hair of evil makes an appearance, you'll have to find someone else to play Spock to your Kirk."
A soft pained chuckle echoed in the darkness.
When Rodney McKay turned eleven, he snuck out of bed at the stroke of midnight to sit impatiently at his window. When no owl appeared by sunrise he told himself he had been silly to wake so early. Of course no self-respecting mail owl would deliver a letter when no one would be awake.
At breakfast his mother told him not to worry. "They probably ran into some bad weather," she soothed. Rodney looked out the kitchen window at the clear, bright day and only nodded.
At lunch, Rodney fidgeted until his father ruffled his hair. "Come now, Rodney. You can recite the ingredients to all of your mother's potions and the theory behind all the spells in my old textbooks. How could they not accept you? You'll be at the head of your class!"
At dinner, no one spoke.
When Jeannie McKay received her letter on her eleventh birthday, their parents made much of the occasion. When Rodney McKay built an atomic bomb for the science fair, they didn't pay much attention until they received a visit from the Unspeakables. Rodney preferred the visit by the CIA ... at least they had been impressed.
Rodney could hear Sheppard's breathing become more strained even as he held his makeshift bandages to the Major's side.
Sheppard moaned again and fell silent.
"John?" Rodney whispered. There was no response. In the darkness, there was only his companion's harsh breathing and the growing sounds of their rescue for company. Rodney shifted so he could run a hand through John's hair.
"Please, John. Just a little longer. Teyla and Ford will get us out of here soon. Carson will have you fixed up in no time. Just wait." Rodney fought the tears he felt forming in his eyes, whispering every healing spell he could remember. Even a squib could have a little magic, right? Please, even a little.
The first time Rodney McKay saw a picture of Harry Potter in the Toronto Wingardium, he thought the paper was running an exposé on wizard runaways. Potter reminded Rodney of the scrawny little stray cat he snuck scraps to, all big green eyes and messy black hair and shy, skittish mannerisms in the enchanted photograph. He looked nothing like the teenage Merlin-incarnate Rodney had always heard him made out to be.
Little Jeannie swooned over the newspaper picture and extolled the virtues of the great Harry Potter, and Rodney, of course, sneered and teased and tormented until she stormed off in a huff. Later, though, when Jeannie proudly displayed the knitted mittens she wanted to send to her idol, Rodney could only think of the little stray he'd first seen shivering in the cold. He helped address the package and paid for the postage to England when Jeannie came up short.
Rodney wrapped his free arm around Sheppard when the Major began to shiver. Rodney remembered how easy it could have been to hate Major John Sheppard. In Antarctica, he wanted so badly to have the Ancient's gene. The truth had been another slap in the face. He didn't have the gene, just like he didn't have enough innate magic to be anything but a squib. He had been judged again and found wanting through nothing but random luck.
It could have been so easy to hate Sheppard, with his uber-genes and easy smile, but there had been that messy black hair and a skittishness that couldn't quite be hidden. Besides, Antarctica was cold and lonely and Rodney really missed his cat.
Sheppard shivered again. When they return to Earth, Rodney decided, he'd take John to meet Jeannie. Rodney could just imagine Jeannie's delight. She would probably knit Sheppard mittens and a hat.
Rodney remembered the day Harry Potter defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. The Boy-Who-Lived survived the evil wizard by less than an hour. He remembered Jeannie, 15 then, weeping in her room.
The wizarding press was full of stories about Harry Potter's final battle. Some said he lead an army and destroyed all of the Death Eaters until only Voldemort remained. Others claimed Voldemort strode up to Hogwarts itself and demanded a wizard's duel. To Rodney's mind, though, the most believable account came from the most disreputable source. According to the Quibbler, Harry Potter, tired and guilt ridden, had quietly slipped out of Hogwarts, tracked Voldemort through a connection forged during Voldemort's first defeat, and had finished what he believed he had begun.
There in the dark, curled around a best friend struggling to live, Rodney could feel a cold knot form in his gut. John, who had never asked to be gifted with the ATA gene, who had been forced to choose between obscurity in Antarctica and 'destiny' in Atlantis, who felt responsible for bringing an evil back there seemed to be no hope for destroying. Please, John. Just wait.
Ronald Weasley, grieving and enraged, lashed out when reporters would not leave him be: "You all got your wish, didn't you? You wanted a savior when you were too scared to fight for yourselves. Well, congratulations! Voldemort's gone, and Harry ... Harry is dead." Weasley had taken a deep breath and said, tears streaming down his face, "Fuck you."
Rodney recognized now the looks the rest of Atlantis gave Sheppard, desperate and demanding. And Rodney had seen in John Sheppard's eyes the same strange emotion that Harry Potter had had in that picture all those years ago ... the weight of the world on his conscience and the belief that there was only one way his battle could end.
Rodney could hear Teyla and Ford coming near as they cleared the rubble. Pulling the man more tightly to him, he leaned forward slightly to whisper into Sheppard's ear. "Fuck them, John. They'll have to find someone else to be their martyr if Teyla and Ford and I have anything to say about it."