(If you are reading this on any PAY site this is a STOLEN WORK, the author has NOT Given Permission for it to be here. If you're paying to read it, you're being cheated too because you can read it on Archiveofourown for FREE.)
Rodney was shunned and left to handle all the low-level dirty work, because no one trusted him any more. He was cleaning out the glycolene ballast chambers when his hypoglycemia kicked in (he'd been living on expired MRE's because the mess hall had been decorated with clove-studded oranges and lemons on the pretext that a fake Christmas would boost morale).
Rodney figured it probably was working because everyone was happier without him around.
He was fine, too, really. He'd traded his last chocolate bars to an Athosian kid in exchange for a gray striped fur blanket the color of the cat he'd had to leave behind on Earth and once he rolled it up into a bundle about the same size as Toast (he'd named the cat after rescuing it as a kitten from some drunk undergraduates who had tied buttered toast to its back and planned to throw it out a third story window to see whether it would land on its feet or on its back on the butter.)
Well, anyway, once he rolled the fur up, it was warm and soft and even smelled a little bit like a cat, so he had something to hold when he tried to sleep now that no one in Atlantis would come near him, much less sleep with him. It wasn't as if he had a lot of time to lie awake, anyway. He got woke up for everything that went wrong, fixing other people's mistakes, but he wasn't complaining about the long hours and the lack of respect. He had to earn the privilege of doing research again, prove that he had learned his lesson.
He had to stop thinking about himself. Put others first. He worked hard at that, so it was a few minutes before he realized that his shakiness and exhaustion were a bit more than usual. He leaned against the wall, and rummaged through his pockets. No Powerbar. No chocolate. No food of any kind. He considered calling and asking for help, but while someone probably would come, the humiliation of being tossed food, like a starving stray dog... no, everyone said he exaggerated, said he was a hypochondriac already, he wasn't feeling that bad, that desperate. He'd just ask Atlantis for help.
She didn't mind him. She didn't love him, like she did Sheppard, but she did appreciate his repair work. Several times she'd sort of... brushed against his mind... not words exactly, but a feeling that led him to where he was needed, where he'd find tools. Food was a tool, wasn't it? He wouldn't have to ask out loud, wouldn't have to chance someone listening, oh, he knew they had random surveillance on him. He'd just close his eyes and think how he couldn't work without food.
There. That was a feeling. Rodney straightened and followed it. After a few minutes a door opened in what had been a blank wall. Rodney peered in and sighed in disappointment. The room was empty except for yet another unknown device. He should call it in, have Zelenka and the other scientists check it out. He shouldn't touch it. Shouldn't even go near it. So what if it was new and possibly amazing. It wasn't as if he could discover anything that would earn forgiveness. But... what if it was dangerous? What if he reported it and it killed someone? What if Sheppard died? The city needed him. Obviously they didn't need Rodney if they could afford to use him as a janitor.
It was a simple equation, risk someone worthless equals protect valuable people. Rodney went over to the device, wavering slightly, not because he was afraid, but because he was so hungry. It was one of the weirder devices, a metallic bronze colored hollow, smoothly bent, cone shape, studded with glowing button/lights with a wide gold and silver platter/bowl set directly beneath the open end.
Huh. A catch basin? Some sort of dispenser? Rodney felt a little more hopeful. Maybe this was the Ancient equivalent of a vending machine. Probably thought activated, judging by the lack of inscriptions. Rodney thought hard about being hungry and touched the machine.
A strip of something pink and brown appeared in the bowl. Huh. Rodney eyed it suspiciously before he recognized it. Smoked salmon! He leaned in close and sniffed. Fresh, and... yeah. He hadn't had a good piece of smoked salmon since leaving Canada. He picked up the strip and broke off a piece.
It was delicious. He ate the whole strip, and when a beautifully ripe red pear appeared, he ate that, too. He patted the nearest wall, silently thanking Atlantis for the best meal he'd had in months. He really should turn the device over to the others, but then he'd have to explain how he found it, and he'd heard enough of the 'thinking with your stomach, McKay?' sneers to last him. It wasn't as if they didn't have plenty of food. They had enough citrus to use as decorations.
And really, what if the food was bad and it would have a delayed reaction? He really should wait a few days to make sure it was safe. Just a few days of not having to sneak into stored supplies to load up on MREs.
When Dr. Weir called a meeting, Rodney wasn't invited, but even though he wasn't informed, it was fairly obvious things were tense. The Wraith knew Atlantis existed and they'd keep coming. Rodney couldn't even help, wasn't allowed to try.
No one was actively shunning him any longer, but it wasn't an improvement. Rodney didn't intend to eat lemon chicken and die, but he was fairly sure no one would notice if he did. He kept fixing what he could, and eating what Atlantis gave him. She always gave him what he needed. What he needed to help Atlantis.
He thought it over, trying to phrase it in his mind. He thought of the Wraith. They needed... Rodney couldn't think of a weapon that would save them. They needed something like a guided Wraith-seeking missile, self-sustaining, invulnerable, incapable of being turned against their own people or even traced back to them, and ideally able to be mass-produced using locally sourced materials.
And why not wish for a pony at the same time, he thought bitterly. The dispenser, which Rodney had never, ever, thought of as a food replicator, despite a few times asking for a tribble chicken sandwich (which Atlantis had delivered minus the tribble) or tea, Earl Grey, hot (which Atlantis had given him without any fuss, and not minded when Rodney remembered it had oil of bergamot- citrus!- and threw it away.) Well, the dispenser produced something new. It was a blue Jello blob. And it glowed, but not in a radioactive way, as Rodney was quick to verify. No, it was a rainbow glow.
Rodney poked it, cautiously. It jiggled. Seriously, this was Atlantis's answer to Life, the Wraith, and Everything? Well, Rodney did like blue jello. Consolation prize. He picked up the bowl and prodded it with the included spoon. Then he shrugged and ate it. Tasted like blue jello. Chemicals. Yum.
He finished the bowl.
He yawned. And the yawn kept going.
He stretched, and the stretch kept going.
He burped and his chest kept going.
Oh, crap, he had time to think, before all of him kept going and there was a lot of crashing and bent door frames and he was so damn hungry, and angry, and really, really this was all the fault of the Wraith. If it wasn't for them, he wouldn't have been desperate, and he wouldn't be ostracized and eating bad jello by himself down in the sewers.
He shouted and kicked and threw a complete hissy fit. After a while, he noticed something tickling him and looked down. And down. And saw Sheppard and a group of soldiers, with grim faces and raised weapons, but they all looked wrong, tiny, as if seen through the wrong end of a telescope. Rodney got up and looked around, but he didn't see any enemy. The tickling happened again, and he realized they were shooting at HIM.
Now, that was just too much. Rodney yelled, and WOW, flames shot out of his mouth and melted a corridor wall. He cringed, knowing he was really in big trouble now, and put his wings over his face to... wait... wings? Flames?
Rodney turned his back on Sheppard and stared at the nearest shiny surface. Huh. A puff of smoke came out of his long, reptilian jaws, and the very handsome, really, long tendrils, tentacles, whiskers? at the base of his jaw spread out, seeking, like antennae.
He really should be upset about this, he thought, lifting one clawed hand? forefoot? to examine it, spreading his toes to admire the sheen of his bronze colored armored scales. He had five toes, like... an Imperial Chinese dragon... five toes so he could handle a teacup. He arched his long neck and preened a little, just a little. He was one goddamn good looking dragon.
And he was hungry. He looked at his eyes in the 'mirror'. They swirled with an opalescent sheen. Not quite a Chinese dragon, then. Something shifted on his back, between his wings. He craned his neck. A saddle? What... oh, oh, ok, so... em.... Pern? Why... oh. Right... Pern dragons can travel in space... and TIME.
He nodded in satisfaction and began walking, heading up to the Jumper bay. What else, what else... well, Rodney had a sudden surety that Wraiths were delicious. And... oh, crap, he'd need a rider.
Rodney swiveled his head to look at Sheppard, who had finally stopped shooting and was looking at Rodney's wings with green-eyed wing envy. Pern dragons are telepathic with one person, their chosen rider. Sheppard was as big a geek as Rodney, he could see the moment the realization hit him.
Rodney let his jaw drop in a grin. He walked up to Sheppard, and then past him. Ronon, would you like to be my rider? It's a lifetime commitment.
"Huh," Ronon replied. "What would we do?"
Ronon narrowed his eyes in consideration. "Already do that."
Go back in time and kill Wraith. Anywhere and any when you can remember.
Ronon's eyes widened. "How far back?"
Rodney thought about it. In the books going back hundreds of years was hard, but ten or twenty years shouldn't be a problem.Far enough to save Sateda.
Ronon reached for the harness. "Take more than just the two of us," he said as he climbed into the saddle, while John pouted.
Yeah. Rodney grinned a toothy grin at the thought Atlantis was giving him, a vision of Elizabeth Weir eating blue jello. You know, a group of dragons is called a Weyr?
"Huh," Ronon said, sounding not very interested at all. "Let's go fuck up Wraith."
You got it. Rodney spread his wings and soared over Atlantis. It was good to be invulnerable. And right. So very, very right.
After he'd fathered enough dragons to take over, maybe Rodney would go to ancient China and get some respect.