|The Healing Touch
Author: theicemenace PM
Rodney is heartbroken when Jennifer chooses Evan Lorne over him. Then one day, salvation comes along in the form of a southern woman named Charlie. Will Charlie have the healing touch Rodney needs to make his heart whole again?Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Humor - Rodney M. - Chapters: 5 - Words: 11,834 - Reviews: 26 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 08-12-11 - Published: 07-24-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7214367
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: This started out as a Rodney/SO songfic, "My Heart Can't Tell You No/Baptism." The chapter got such wonderful responses along with requests to hear more about Dr. Charlie Atherton that I've made it into a longer fic so the relationship between Charlie and Rodney can be explored.
The Healing Touch
Rodney walked with a bounce to his step and a sense of anticipation. Jennifer had called to invite him to have coffee with her in her quarters. That had to mean she wanted him and not Ronon, right? He was just about to announce himself when the aforementioned Satedan approached and came to stand next to him.
The two men stared at each other, Ronon impassively and Rodney with dread. "Let's just get it over with." They physicist touched the chime and the door slid open almost immediately.
Jennifer still wore her uniform but without the jacket. "Right on time, guys. Come in." The smile on her face was the same smile all medical personnel wore to keep their patients from panicking when something was wrong. "Have a seat."
"I'd rather stand, if you don't mind." Rodney crossed his arms stubbornly. If she was giving him the keys to the street he didn't want to get comfortable.
"Me too." Ronon looked more at ease, arms hanging at his sides, dark eyes hooded to hide his emotions.
Taking a deep breath to fortify her, Jennifer looked from one to the other. "Ronon, Rodney, I called you here to…well, I wanted you to know, uh…" She was having trouble putting her thoughts and feelings into words. "Uh, Ronon. I'll start with you. I'm, uh, sorry but…"
"…you're interested in someone else." Those eyes that saw everything slanted toward Rodney who was practically dancing with delight.
Not able to help the grin that crossed his face, Rodney bounced on his toes and clasped his hands together to keep them from shaking. He took an involuntary step forward stopping when Jennifer put up her hand.
"I'm sorry, Rodney."
"What? Really?" He and Ronon exchanged a confused glance. "If it's not me and it's not you, then who is it?"
The chime dinged again causing Jennifer's eyes to widen in anticipation that looked almost like panic. "He's here." Her words were soft, as if she hadn't meant to say them out loud. Checking her hair in the mirror, she tugged the hem of her top into place and rolled her shoulders to loosen up suddenly tight muscles as she opened the door.
Major Evan Lorne, in casual wear, awaited permission to enter.
Her voice tremulous, Jennifer gestured. "Please come in."
"Ronon. McKay. What's going on? If this is a surprise party, you should know it's not my birthday."
Trying not to show how brokenhearted he was, Rodney went to the door. "No, Major. It's not a party. Conan and I were just leaving. Come on." The last was said to Ronon. To Evan, he said, "If you break her heart, I will make your life miserable."
"We both will." With that parting shot, Ronon grabbed Rodney by the arm and dragged him out leaving Jennifer and Evan alone.
Ronon dragged Rodney from Jennifer's room so he wouldn't say anything to embarrass himself. Eventually, the physicist got tired of having his arm yanked and dug his heels in jerking them to a stop.
"You can let go now. I wasn't going to make a scene. I just wanted Lorne to know the score."
"Yeah." The two friends stood there in silence until it was broken by a deep sigh from Rodney.
"I have to get back to work. I'll see you at the team breakfast meeting."
Ronon nodded, but Rodney didn't see it. He'd already stepped into the transporter and was gone. Not one to feel sorry for himself, the Satedan did regret that his friend would now take refuge in his work, leaving very little time to brood about the loss of the woman he loved. It would also take him out of the mainstream of life in Atlantis; remove him from social interaction that could be a salve to his bruised emotions.
Ronon did care very much for Jennifer but wasn't in love with her. Rodney, however, was and he'd needed an impetus, motivation to step up his game where she was concerned, and his own pursuit of her had worked, for a while. But in the end, her affections leaned toward the military 2IC.
Heading for the gym, Ronon decided now was a really good time to take on a squad of Marines. Just for practice.
Powering up his workstation, Rodney opened the file on the project the IOA had been hounding him about for weeks, determined to complete it by the end of the week. While he waited, he thought about the night and what Jennifer had said. She was in love with Lorne. And because Rodney loved her, he wouldn't stand in their way.
I wish you and Lorne all the best, Jennifer. He'd better treat you right or…or what? What could I do? Send Conan after him? From the look on his face I won't have to.
With a sigh, he got to work.
A Few Months Later
Following the directions how to reach the main science lab given to her by Dr. Cole, Charlie had nearly made it to her destination when a man burst out of the room swearing in a language she didn't understand. From the few words she was able to catch, he appeared to be upset with her new boss.
"Excuse me." She touched Radek on the arm to get his attention. "I can see you're busy, but Dr. McKay's expectin' me. I'm Charlie Atherton." The soft lilt in her voice elongating her vowels, "Ah" replacing "I", one vowel becoming two, along with the frequent dropping of her "R's" all placed her home south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Radek was instantaneously charmed.
Radek stared at her for too long to be considered polite, realized his blunder and cleared his throat in embarrassment. Pushing his glasses up on his nose as if that would change what he was seeing, he exclaimed, "You are Dr. Atherton?"
"Dr. Charlotte Atherton, yes. Call me Charlie. Everyone does, sugar."
"And I am Dr. Zelenka. Radek."
"Pardon me for askin', Radek, but why are you starin' at me like that?"
A grin and a blush came over the physicist's face. "Forgive me, but you are not what I expected and I suspect not what Rodney will be expecting either. Please come with me." Gesturing her ahead of him, he stayed behind her until they reached Rodney. He was hunched over his work station tapping at the keys. "Rodney?"
Rodney huffed at his second-in-command. "I thought we'd finished this discussion when you stormed out in disgrace. What're you doing back so…sss-soon…" Rodney lifted his head and found himself looking into a pair of the greenest eyes he'd ever seen. The wavy hair surrounding her pretty face was short, barely reaching her shoulders and a color of red he'd never seen before. Darker than Cadman's, lighter than Teyla's and completely natural. "I, uh…what can I do with…I mean for you, uh…"
"Dr. Atherton, this is Dr. Rodney McKay." Radek didn't bother to hide his delight at his friend's reaction to their newest member of their team.
Charlie smiled and extended her hand over the computer as Rodney came to his feet. "You're Charlie Atherton? Theoretical physics, cosmology, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics. That Charlie Atherton?"
An easy chuckle came from deep in her chest. "I get that a lot. So, which one of you handsome gentlemen will be showin' me around this amazin' city?"
"I will!" Both men spoke at the same time, glaring at each other.
Radek continued alone. "He will. Welcome to Atlantis, Charlie."
"Thanks, Radek." Charlie again gave Radek's arm a quick squeeze then turned to Rodney with a smile. "Shall we, Dr. McKay?"
"Sorry? Oh. The tour. Um, this way please."
She went ahead and waited for him to come alongside her. "I'm pleased as punch to be here. May I call you Rodney?"
"O-of course, um, Charlie." The smile she bestowed on him was genuine and unassuming, the touch of her hand on his arm warm, making him feel like he'd been baptized, in a way. Down with the old man, McKay, and up with the new.
Her sunny smile cheered him and he found himself smiling back though it felt out of place, as if he hadn't used the muscles in a long time. And he hadn't, he realized with an internal groan. His happy moments had been infrequent in the months since the day Jennifer declared her love for then-Major, now Lieutenant Colonel Evan Lorne, effectively kicking Ronon, and him, to the curb.
He recollected seeing the happy couple having lunch together a few days ago, a sparkling diamond on her left hand. They looked very happy and very much in love. And he wondered if he'd ever find someone who did that for him. Now that it had been a while, and though he still cared very much for Jennifer, the love he'd had for her had dimmed somewhat and only partially because she loved someone else. Time had given him clarity. He was still hurt by her rejection, but now he could tell it was for the best. If they'd stayed together and the doubts had begun, he and she might have hurt each other even more. And that he wouldn't have wanted. For either of them.
Rodney started at the gentle stroke on his upper arm followed by a quick squeeze. "Oh, sorry."
Again Charlie smiled and he had the feeling that's how she approached life at all times. "Don't let it bother you. I've gathered my share of wool."
A little puzzled at what was obviously a local expression, Rodney gave her a smile in return and had another feeling. One he hadn't had in a while. Not since the day he met Carson and his first meeting with John. Instant friendship. Just add a lost city in another galaxy, ancient technology, mix in aliens who suck the life out of you and blend until you're shaken and stirred.
"The Mess Hall." The door opened before them, the room about half full. "Would you care for a coffee? Or maybe you'd rather have tea."
Her mock glare elevated his mood even more. "Just 'cause I'm from the south doesn't mean I drink tea from a fancy china cup with my pinky stuck up in the air. I'll take coffee please. The way the good Lord intended."
Rodney was startled when Charlie giggled. "Oh, bless your heart. I'm gonna have to teach you to speak like one of us. Black coffee, hun."
Jennifer had once told him not to bother with little gestures of courtesy, but with Charlie, it just seemed the right thing to do to hold her chair as she was seated. On his way to the food line, he was struck by an epiphany. What if Jennifer had told him that as a test, to see what he'd do? The more he thought about it, that was the only answer. She'd been testing him and he'd failed…miserably.
He returned to the table with two cups of coffee, black, the way the Lord intended, and there they sat just talking for nearly two hours.