Since it seems to be part of the SGA fic writers code that you must write something about The Storm/The Eye, here's mine. :)
Grateful thanks as always to Lyn for the beta read.
Additional note March 2022: As with previous stories, I've gone back and given this one a polish. The exposition has been corrected to a more active voice, and I cleaned up the grammar. No big changes, but lots of little ones.
Rodney ignored his throbbing arm as he made his way out of the control room and back to his lab. The stab wounds had waited this long, he reasoned. They could just continue to wait. He didn't want to see what … he … had managed to do to him.
"Now, Doctor McKay. Let's discuss your plan to save Atlantis."
Rodney shuddered at the memory. The knife slicing deeper into his arm with every cut. His body jerking against the Genii soldier holding him down. The moment when his meager courage vanished, and he told … him … everything.
So far, Sheppard hadn't said anything to him about what happened, but Rodney knew it was only a matter of time before Sheppard confronted him. Would Sheppard drop him from the team? he wondered.
He ducked into an empty room as two Marines passed him carrying supplies and speaking in low voices. He may not have been able to hear anything of what the two men were saying, but Rodney assumed it had to be about the invasion and how he had spilt his guts to the enemy.
"Get to the lab," he told himself as he left the room and headed for the nearest transporter. "Everything will be fine once you get to the lab."
His arm throbbed, reminding him he really should go to the infirmary, but the only person he wanted to avoid more than Sheppard was Carson. He had to assume someone had probably told Beckett by now that Rodney had been a few keystrokes away from killing him and Teyla.
"He would probably throw you out the moment he saw you anyway," Rodney muttered to himself as he tapped the sensor for the transporter.
The door opened on the section with the science labs, and Rodney blew out a breath when he found the hallway empty. He entered his lab and let the door close behind him, revelling in the silence. He wasn't hiding, he told himself, he was working. Someone had to make sure the storm damage was assessed, prioritise repairs, and fix any systems blown out by the electrical surge through the city.
The fact he didn't have to deal with the curious looks or the whispers, quickly silenced whenever he entered a room, was beside the point. The rumors shouldn't have surprised him. He'd talked. Given up vital information. Rodney glanced down at the gauze wrapped around his jacket sleeve. Did it matter how … he … found out the plan to save Atlantis?
Rodney scrubbed a hand over his face and walked over to his desk. He glanced at a report someone had left for review, then wandered over to the various Ancient items stored on the shelf by his work table. He picked up one of the small devices, turning it this way and that before setting it down and picking up another. He set the second device back in its place with a tired sigh. He just couldn't be bothered to figure out their mysteries at the moment. His arm gave another painful twinge, and he rubbed at the gauze, then sat at the work table staring into space.
"Doctor McKay recently shared with me there's a plan in action to save the city."
Rodney heard again the mix of anger and disappointment in Sheppard's tone and pinched the bridge of his nose. Sheppard was one of the bravest people he knew. Rodney doubted anything he could say would justify what he did in Sheppard's mind.
He was a coward. He'd known that for most of his life. His parents and the school bullies had made sure he was well aware of his shortcomings in terms of bravery. Since coming to Atlantis, he'd done any number of things, not the least of which was going through the 'gate, to try and convince himself and others there was more to Rodney McKay than ego and bluster. But when the chips were down, when all he had to do was keep his mouth shut, he'd caved and blurted everything.
He swiped at the trickle of sweat running down his face and grimaced. It was too hot in the lab with his jacket on, but removing the coat also meant removing his makeshift bandage, and he wasn't ready to do that yet. He made another halfhearted swipe at his sweaty brow, then pulled the combo computer over in front of him with another grimace of pain, let it boot, and opened a new document.
If he couldn't stand up to a maniac with a knife, maybe he could at least learn more about the shield and if there was a way to reliably power it without a Zed-PM. Maybe that would be enough to keep Sheppard from kicking him off the team, he thought to himself.
He stared at the blank document for several minutes. "Need more information." He booted up another computer and started a search of the Ancient database for more information on the shield generator.
"It all comes down to power," he muttered to himself. "We'd need a constant source of energy and a way to store it." He snapped his fingers several times, wincing when the movement jarred his arm and booted up another computer. "You're sitting in the middle of an ocean," he grumbled to himself. "There has to be a way to transfer the wave energy from the stabiliser systems and store it in some kind of battery."
Rodney glanced at the array of computers on the work table. He realised he wouldn't be about to write up anything about his ideas concerning the shield until they were finished compiling data. Which meant he needed another distraction.
His gaze fell on a spare GDO sitting on a nearby shelf. "What you need to do is figure out a way to prevent ..." Rodney swallowed. "Prevent him from using that trick again," he muttered to himself. "Not a very secure defensive system if it can be hacked with a lot of alcohol and a scared farmer."
He booted up another computer, and his mind found refuge in the detailed schematics of the shield and the GDO device. Several minutes later, he felt himself start to relax as he traced circuit paths and computed new code algorithms.
He wasn't sure how much time had passed when he heard a tap at the door, and Zelenka came into the lab carrying a datapad.
"Rodney, I have more reports on the damage from the flooding," Zelenka said, stopping at the end of the work table. Rodney looked up from the schematics and saw Radek frown.
"What?" Rodney snapped when he saw the expression on Radek's face.
"You look awful," Zelenka told him bluntly and pointed to his own eye.
Rodney reached up to touch his face and grimaced when he found the skin around his eye puffy and hot. No wonder people had been staring, he thought to himself.
"Your arm appears to be bleeding as well," Zelenka added. "Maybe you should go to infirmary?"
Rodney glanced at the bandage wrapped around his arm and saw a few spots of red. He hid his arm under the work table and glared up at Radek.
"You said you had something on the damage? Anything major?" Rodney asked, ignoring the hint about the infirmary.
Zelenka gave him another strange look. Rodney could almost believe it was concern.
"No, no," Zelenka replied. "The east and north piers are almost completely pumped out. I will send engineering teams into those areas once we restore power. There was some minor damage from the electrical surge. I have teams working on those repairs."
Rodney snapped his fingers for the datapad, and Radek handed it over. He skimmed through the reports and saw Zelenka had most of the repairs well in hand. Other than a few blown systems from the power surges, the city had come through the storm in relatively good shape.
"The Marines have most of the medical stores back in the infirmary," Radek said carefully. "I was checking the conduits near the medical lab and saw Doctor Beckett directing the orderlies on where to store the recovered supplies. Other than a few medicines Doctor Beckett thinks he can remake and basic some first aid supplies, the Genii did not steal much."
"Good for him," Rodney mumbled as he read through the various reports. "Why is Kavanagh working on the desalination plant? There wasn't any damage to those systems."
"True," Zelenka said with a tiny, conspiratorial smile. "But he does not know that."
Rodney almost smiled in return. "What's this note about the air scrubbers in the lower level of the control tower?"
Zelenka crossed his arms over his chest and ducked his head. "It may be nothing," he replied with a sideways glance at Rodney. "Major Sheppard used several smoke grenades in that area. The system should be monitored to make sure scrubbers equalise over time."
Rodney shoved the datapad into Zelenka's hands. "Fine. Good." He waved toward the door. "Why don't you go do that."
"Rodney? Are you -"
Rodney waved a hand at the computers scattered on the work table. "I'm working on something here. Go. Out."
Zelenka pursed his lips and stepped back from the work table. "I will let you know when the repairs are complete."
Rodney waited until Zelenka was gone, then closed the lab door, sank into his desk chair, and stared blankly at the wall. He'd been doing a good job of not thinking about the attempted coup.
"And then you had to bring up how Sheppard fought a one-man battle to save the city," he muttered with a glare at the door.
With that one comment, Rodney's brain went into overdrive, replaying everything about the Genii invasion and what he'd done wrong.
He should have stalled longer, he berated himself. Or made repairs slower. Basically, he should have done more to help Sheppard deal with the Genii.
He leant forward in his chair with his arms braced on the desk and his head in his hands and felt himself on the edge of sleep. He had been running on pure adrenaline for hours and was beyond exhausted. Even after the Genii were gone, sent packing back through the 'gate, but Sheppard, Rodney hadn't had time to relax.
"Wait! What are you doing?" Ford exclaimed.
"I thought I'd activate the shield and save the day. You got something else in mind?" Rodney retorted, his hand hovering over the control console.
"Teyla and Beckett are still out there."
Rodney blew out a breath. "The tracking system's down. There's a tsunami heading towards the city, Lieutenant. Two and a half minutes, they're dead." Rodney's hand inched closer to the control panel.
"Then give 'em two minutes!" Sheppard ordered.
Rodney jerked upright as the memories assaulted him. He hadn't done enough to help Sheppard once the Genii were in the city. He'd nearly killed two people he considered friends. However, the biggest blunder by far was admitting there was a plan to save the city. If he'd just kept quiet, regardless of the knife and the threats, the rest would have never even happened.
"There's a skill you could teach me," Rodney said to a non-existent Sheppard. "How do you stuff the bad things away in boxes and forget about them?"
"Did you ever doubt me?" Rodney asked.
"Yes. Several times," Elizabeth replied.
At the time, he'd been too tired to think about it, but now he wondered if Elizabeth was being honest, that she thought less of him because he'd panicked.
"Was it said as a joke or was she serious?" Rodney wondered.
He scrubbed a hand through his sweaty hair and stood. Introspection had its place, but he didn't have time for this. He needed to get back to work. Prove that he was still useful to have around. He walked over to the shelf, picked up the spare GDO, sat at the work table, and picked up a screwdriver. He hadn't been of much use after the Genii invaded. The least he could do was make sure it didn't happen again, he decided.
~*~*~*~ SGA ~*~*~*~
John knew he was punchdrunk due to exhaustion when he started thinking about just how few people were needed to defend something the size of Atlantis. Apparently, all he needed was a Marine Lieutenant, one Athosian, and three people with various PhDs to help him deal with an invasion force, he thought to himself and smiled.
He quickly sobered when he remembered the bodies of the two Marines Kolya had killed in cold blood. And it hadn't escaped his notice that it was the civilians sporting the injuries from the attempted coup, not the military. Teyla and Beckett had assured him their injuries were minor. The persistent itch at the back of his skull, not to mention the building headache, led him to believe Rodney wasn't as fine as he wanted everyone to believe.
What happened to his arm? John wondered with a glance down the corridor where McKay had disappeared.
"Get some rest," Elizabeth said with a tap on John's arm. "We'll worry about the debriefings later."
She walked across the bridge to her office. She hesitated, and John saw the shiver run down her back before she took a deep breath, crossed the room and sat behind her desk.
And then there are the less obvious wounds, John reminded himself as he followed her to the office.
"John?" Elizabeth said as she looked up from the closed computer on her desk. "Was there something else you needed?"
John leant against the doorframe and crossed his arms. "Just wanted to make sure you were all right."
"I'm fine," Elizabeth replied. "Kolya didn't hurt me."
"That's not what I meant," John said. "You were held hostage at gunpoint." He pushed off the doorframe and walked over to the desk. "It's not the same, is it?"
"Reading the after-action reports and the commendation letters," John replied. He rested his hands on the back of one of the chairs in front of the desk. "I'm sorry if anything I did scared you," he said. "I know from experience it's more than a little unnerving having a bullet whiz past your ear."
Elizabeth glanced at him with a faint smile as she looked around the office. "It's been a long couple of days," she admitted with a weary sigh.
"Yeah," John agreed and resisted rubbing his forehead from the building headache.
She looked down at her desk and sighed. "I could really go for a hot shower and a cup of strong coffee."
"And about twelve hours of sleep," John added.
"That too," she agreed. "I'll be fine, John, really. I just need some time to let it all sink in." She looked out at the gate room.
John stepped away from the desk, ready to leave Elizabeth to her thoughts when she looked back at him.
"He stepped in front of a gun for me," she said quietly, and John felt his jaw clench, knowing exactly who the 'he' was. "And after the 'gate shield was raised …" She looked away again. "Kolya had Rodney backed over the railing near the grounding station. If Rodney hadn't done some fast talking …" She looked John in the eye. "Kolya was ready to throw him off."
"I've dealt with bullies most of my life. Usually, I'd just out talk them," John remembered Rodney telling him once.
Elizabeth crossed her arms over her chest. "I'm worried about him, John," she admitted. "He's only allowing himself to see a small part of the picture." She sighed and glanced down at her desk. "He needs to get that arm checked."
"What happened to him?"
"I don't really know," Elizabeth replied. "Kolya sent me to get the Wraith data recorder. When I got back, Rodney's arm was bleeding. I tried to see how badly he was hurt, but he refused to show me."
John felt a hard jolt in his stomach as a conversation with Kolya replayed in his head.
"Doctor McKay recently shared with me there's a plan in action to save the city."
If McKay had been left alone with Kolya … "Damn," he muttered under his breath.
John waved off the question and walked back to the door. "I'll deal with McKay. Don't forget to take care of yourself," he said and left.
Once in the hallway outside the control room, John squeezed his eyes shut and rubbed his head. The itch, not to mention the headache, had been building for hours, and now he knew why.
If what he suspected was true, John didn't blame Rodney for wanting to forget what had happened with Kolya, but he knew from painful experience how well that worked. Rodney needed to start talking to him. To start getting past it certainly, but, like Elizabeth, John had the sneaking suspicion Rodney was only focused on one part of what had happened during Kolya's attempted coup.
"All right, McKay. Since you won't come to me, I guess I'm coming to you."
John pushed off the wall and stopped in the mess hall long enough to pour two cups of coffee, then headed for Rodney's lab.
John exited the transporter, thinking about the best way to approach the subject with Rodney when he rounded a corner and nearly ran down Zelenka. Radek's quick dodge saved them both getting splashed with hot coffee, and John gave him a crooked smile in apology.
"Major Sheppard," Zelenka said as he took a hurried step backwards and held a datapad behind his back.
"Sorry about that," John said.
"No apology necessary, Major. We scientists learn quickly to get out of the way of someone lost in thought carrying hot liquids."
John chuckled and asked, "How're things going with the cleanup?"
"Very well, actually," Zelenka replied and brought the computer out from behind his back and tapped the screen. He showed a schematic to John and said, "The areas flooded by the storm are nearly all dry. We will need to survey all of those sections, make sure they are still structurally sound, but so far, everything is going well."
Zelenka looked up from the computer. John saw the anxious expression on Radek's face as he glanced down the hall toward Rodney's lab.
So he's worried too, John realised and shook his head. Time to put an end to this.
"I was just on my way to see McKay," John said, holding up the coffee cups. "Figured he'd need a break by now."
Zelenka glanced at the closed door for Rodney's lab, then stepped closer to John. "You will make him see Carson, yes?"
"Where does everyone get the idea I can make McKay do something?" John grumbled as he maneuvered around the engineer.
Radek smiled and pushed up his glasses. "You are the only person he will listen to, I think."
"Lucky me," John replied.
He entered Rodney's lab a moment later and found the work table littered with computers running various programs and McKay sitting on a stool, poring over what looked like a disassembled GDO.
John set one of the coffee cups on the table where Rodney would see it but where it wouldn't spill on any of the components, pulled over another stool, and sat on the other side of the table.
He had no idea what to do next. It was obvious Rodney needed sleep as well as a trip to the infirmary. John didn't need any special mental connection to tell him that. He supposed he could simply order McKay to see Beckett, maybe drag him there if need be. He didn't want to have to do that except as an absolute last resort, however, so he sat, sipping his coffee, and waited.
It didn't take long for Rodney to look up at him, and John's fingers clenched around the cup a little tighter when he saw the black eye again.
"Something you needed?" Rodney asked, ignoring the coffee cup in favor of the various pieces of the GDO.
"Just came down here to see how you were doing," John replied with forced nonchalance. He saw why Zelenka was worried. The black eye and exhaustion aside, a thin line of sweat beaded on Rodney's forehead, and the screwdriver in his hand shook in his grip.
"I'm busy." Rodney waved a hand at the work table.
"Not what I'd call it," John said. He bent forward and waited for Rodney to look at him. "You can talk to me, you know," he added gently.
Rodney dropped the screwdriver and scowled at John. "You know I'm an adult, right?" he demanded, his tone suddenly harsh as he slammed a hand down on the work table. Unfortunately, it was his injured arm, and he gasped as he curled the arm to his chest. "I am fully capable of taking care of myself," he continued, his voice breathy from the pain. "I've been doing it for a good long time now."
"Rodney, calm down," John said, glad the door to the lab was closed. No reason the entire science department needed to hear them.
"No, I will not calm down," Rodney snapped. "I've just had one of the worst days of my life. I think I'm allowed a moment to try and deal with it."
"Hey," John said. He sat back on the stool and held up his hands. "I get it. I do. Probably more than you realise. That's why I really need you to talk to me. You can't just keep this bottled up and hope it will go away. Trust me that doesn't work."
Rodney glared at him for a moment longer, then ducked his head and picked up the screwdriver and twirled it between his fingers.
John sat and waited. He wasn't sure what would happen when the lid came off. Rodney's moods were mercurial at the best of times. He finished his coffee and watched Rodney toy with the screwdriver.
"I just want to stop feeling like this," Rodney said softly after a few minutes of silence. He set the screwdriver aside and absently fiddled with one of the GDO pieces.
"Like what?" John prodded and inched forward on his stool.
"Like he's going to come back." Rodney glanced up at him, then focused on the components on the work table.
"Like who's going to come back," John pushed, and Rodney glared daggers at him. "Can you even say his name?" John asked, concern evident in his tone.
"Kolya," Rodney spat. "His name was Kolya. He stuck a knife in my arm, and I told him everything he wanted to know."
"Exactly," John said, determined to keep his own anger under control. He didn't need Rodney misreading his reactions and thinking John was mad at him. "He hurt you. And he kept hurting you until he got what he wanted."
Rodney shook his head, turned away from him, and focused on one of the computers.
"You're not a coward if that's what you're thinking," John said softly, and Rodney's hands froze on the keyboard.
Rodney turned his head just enough for John to see his face. "Could have fooled me," he muttered. "Haven't you heard what everyone is saying?"
"Elizabeth told me what you did."
Rodney snorted and went back to typing.
"She told me you stepped between her and Kolya's gun. That you saved her life at least twice by risking your own." John closed his eyes for a moment, thinking about what had almost happened. "That's the only story I'm interested in hearing," John finished.
Rodney glanced at him, and John leant forward until his arms rested on the work table.
"You also managed to get key information about Kolya's plans to me without him knowing. You came up with a way to stall Kolya long enough that he chose to leave the city empty-handed. And then you saved the city from that tsunami. That doesn't sound like someone who's a coward to me."
John reached across the table and rested a hand on Rodney's unbandaged arm. "I'm proud of you, buddy," he said sincerely. "You did good."
He could tell Rodney wasn't ready to believe that quite yet, but at least McKay had stopped typing and turned around on the stool.
"I was so scared," Rodney admitted in a whisper as he rubbed his bandaged arm.
John glanced down and saw spots of blood on the makeshift bandage. He really needs to see Beckett, he thought to himself with a frown.
"I didn't know what to do," Rodney continued. "He kept threatening Elizabeth and you and the city." He looked over at John. "I really thought he was going to kill me," Rodney whispered. "He had me pushed over that railing, and I just knew he was going to let go."
John stood from the stool and paced around the work table. From what Elizabeth had told him, John knew precisely when and why Kolya had nearly pushed Rodney off that balcony. If McKay hadn't convinced Kolya to let him go … John clenched his hands into fists and hid them behind his back. Chances were, they would never have found a body. Rodney would have just been gone.
John swallowed his fear and anger and said, "I'm sorry you had to go through all of that. Part of my job is to make sure stuff like that never happens to you."
"It's not like you were just sitting in the mess hall drinking coffee," Rodney replied. "If I'd'veI'd've thought of a better plan, maybe you wouldn't've needed to …" Rodney waved a hand, and John got the message.
John stood at the end of the work table. Now or never, he thought to himself. "You really should let Beckett take a look at your arm," he said.
Rodney shook his head and sighed. "He probably knows by now," he replied.
John frowned. "Knows what?"
Rodney looked up at him. "That I nearly killed him. And Teyla. I'm pretty sure he's more than a little mad at me right now."
"I'll go with you if you want me to," John said. He stepped away from the work table, hoping Rodney would follow.
Rodney stared at the GDO pieces on the work table for several seconds before he finally stood.
"Fine," he said with a tired sigh. "If it will get you out of my hair and make you happy, I'll go see Carson." He followed John out of the lab. "Maybe you'll be able to keep him from using every needle in the infirmary on me as revenge," he finished.
"Major Sheppard," Beckett greeted when they entered the infirmary a few minutes later. "What brings you by?"
As Rodney trailed John into the room, Beckett's expression of pleasant enquiry changed to a frown.
"Carson," Rodney mumbled, refusing to look at Beckett.
"Rodney," Beckett replied with a sigh and held out a hand. "Come on, lad, let me take a look at you."
Rodney looked up in surprise. "Umm, okay."
John followed them to one of the beds in the corner and stood with his hands resting on the rolling bed table as Carson helped Rodney to lie down. Beckett took a gentle hold of Rodney's arm and tsked as he examined the haphazard bandaging.
"I suppose you did this yourself?" he asked as he carefully unwrapped the gauze around Rodney's jacket sleeve.
Rodney grunted and refused to look at his arm. He turned his head away from Beckett, and John saw Rodney's eyes close for a moment before he jerked himself awake. He exchanged a worried glance with Beckett, who blew out a quiet breath as he dropped the bloody gauze on a nearby tray.
Once the gauze was removed, John saw Rodney's jacket sleeve was slashed and covered in dried blood from his elbow nearly to his wrist. The bandage had done a good job disguising the damage. John felt his anger rising and clenched the edges of the bed table so hard his knuckles turned white.
Beckett tsked again and patted Rodney's shoulder. "I'll be right back, lad," he said softly. He came back a moment later with a prepared syringe. "This should help take the edge off," he said as he found a vein in Rodney's other arm and injected the contents of the syringe.
It didn't take long for the morphine to kick in, and John watched as Rodney's eyes, drooping even before Beckett gave him the injection, closed completely.
"Daft bugger," Carson muttered at Rodney as he picked up a pair of surgical shears and started to cut away the jacket and then the shirt sleeve underneath. "Why didn't you come to me right away instead of waiting hours?"
"He said you were concussed," John answered. He chose not to mention the other reason Rodney had avoided the infirmary.
"I had worse nights at the pub when I was at university," Beckett replied, then hissed when the last of the fabric came away from Rodney's arm. "Bloody hell," he murmured, and carefully touched the edges of the three angry cuts running up Rodney's forearm. From what John could see, it looked like Kolya had made each incision deeper, probably as Rodney refused to answer Kolya's questions.
John growled low in his throat and ignored Carson's startled glance in his direction. All he wanted to do at that moment was dial up the Genii homeworld, find Kolya, and take him apart.
John promised himself if he ever saw the Genii commander again, Kolya wouldn't survive a second encounter. He certainly wouldn't be allowed within a mile of Rodney.
"Did you know it was this bad? "Beckett asked, and John shook his head.
"Elizabeth told me Rodney was left alone with Koyla when she was sent to get the Wraith data device." John stared at the bloody arm. "When she came back, Rodney was bleeding, but she never got a good look at his arm, and Rodney refused to tell her what had happened."
"Sharon," Beckett called, still gently probing the cuts.
Sharon Peterson came over to the bed and winced when she saw Rodney's arm. She glanced up at John, sympathy evident in her expression.
"Can you clean and prep Rodney's arm with a local while I get the suture kit?" Carson said as he stood. "Get the rest of that jacket and shirt off of him as well." Beckett stepped back from the bed. "He's had a dose of morphine already, so he should be out for a few hours."
"Right away, Doctor Beckett," Sharon replied.
"Major?" Carson said, and gently led John away from the bed. "Since I know you won't leave, you can wait over here. When we have those lacerations sutured, he'll need to sleep off the morphine. Once he's awake, you can take him back to his quarters."
"He's going to be all right?" John asked. "No permanent damage or anything?"
Beckett's expression turned dark. "That Kolya knew what he was doing, I'll give him that," Carson growled. "He knew where to do the most damage and how to inflict the maximum pain without hitting any major arteries." Beckett rubbed a hand over his face. "There is muscle damage, but physically, at least Rodney should be fine."
Carson stopped at the supply cabinet and picked out the items he'd need for Rodney's arm. "It would have been better if he'd come down sooner. There's the start of an infection, but we should be able to nip that in the bud. He'll be fine in a few days." He gave John a measured look. "Are you all right, lad?"
"Yeah, just tired, I guess," John replied. He'd never told Beckett or Rodney about the weird feeling he got whenever McKay was seriously hurt. No wonder he'd had such a headache, he thought to himself. Rodney had been hurting for hours and had done nothing about it. "I suspected Kolya must have …" John scrubbed a hand over his chin. "I didn't realise he'd cut him more than once."
Carson gave him a steady look. "He's going to need to talk about what happened, you know."
"Way ahead of you," John said, his expression serious.
"And what about the rumor mill?" Beckett asked with a stern look at John and then Rodney. "Don't you think for one second I don't know the real reason Rodney didn't come to me sooner. I've already heard several different versions of what people around here think happened with the Genii."
John rubbed the back of his neck. He hadn't heard the specifics of any of the rumors, but he had a good idea what people were saying about both of them. He'd used tactics against the Genii he hadn't needed since Afghanistan and Iraq, tactics he'd hoped were safely left behind in the Milky Way galaxy. While the scientists were content simply to know the city had survived, the Marines certainly had some ideas about what had happened during his guerrilla war with Kolya's men.
Unfortunately, everyone had the wrong idea about everything else, John thought with a glance at Rodney.
"Doctor Beckett?" Sharon called as she moved a portable curtain around Rodney's bed. "He's ready."
"Thank you, Sharon. I'll be right there." Carson turned back to John. "This shouldn't take too long. You can sit with him once we're done."
John nodded and sat on the nearest bed to wait. Thirty minutes later, Sharon removed the screen, and John walked over to the bed. Rodney wore a scrub top, and his arm was neatly bandaged, and John was relieved to see the pain lines around his eyes had softened.
"All right, Rodney, all done," Carson said and stepped back from the bed. He glanced at John and added, "He should be fine."
"Thanks, Carson," John replied.
"You're welcome, lad," Beckett replied.
John waited until Beckett and Sharon left, then sat in the chair next to the bed, watching Rodney sleep and plotting the various ways he would make Kolya pay for what he'd done if they ever met again.