Chapter 11: If Looks Could Kill
Elizabeth stood on the observation deck overlooking the jumper bay as Jumper 2 made its reappearance from its latest voyage. The 'whoosh' of the Stargate closing had become a familiar sound to her and she enjoyed just standing and watching the team file out of the small space craft…unharmed. 'Why was it Stackhouse and Ford usually came back unscathed, but if she even thought of Sheppard and McKay going out, she had better be ready with a med team on standby the entire mission?'
The thought of her two senior team members brought a hint of a smile to her face. Apparently, they had done it again, only this time Dr. Beckett had found himself a participant in their latest quest, joining the troublesome twosome in valuable time spent in the infirmary.
It had been a week since the McKay had returned and the trio quietly rejoined their stations after separate releases from the medical facility. John had suffered from exposure and a mild concussion. Carson had come in contact with a foreign substance that mimicked the signs of an acute hangover. And, Rodney, bruised but not broken fortunately, suffered soft tissue damage that would take the longest to recover from.
Returning to her desk, she tapped the laptop keyboard, bringing up copies of all three incident reports. Remarkable. Each man gave a full account of the misuse of the submersible while accepting complete blame on himself, diverting attention away from the others. If she didn't know any better, she would have thought that they might be covering up a few details.
A sly smile crinkled the corners of her eyes. She would give them until tomorrow before confronting the trio together. As far as she knew, there was nothing worse to a man than being in trouble with a woman and receiving the silent treatment. It only made their expectations of the confrontation to come that much more imaginative. And right now, she was in the mood to be creative.
What had once been Rodney's private getaway had evolved during the past few days into a retreat of sorts for all three men. Beckett had created a small lab off in one corner, Sheppard cleared a spot to rip the go cart apart and rebuild it, and McKay maintained his cluttered workbench and piles of useless junk.
It had taken the major and physician an entire afternoon to clean up the hanger bay while the physicist was forced to sit on the sidelines and supervise, much to his chagrin, as the others rearranged his mess, throwing out trash he claimed he needed. When they had completed, he admitted begrudgingly, it did look better but refused to commit to keeping it neat.
Although completely engrossed in their separate projects, they each had one common concern raging in their minds.
Sheppard was the first to break the silence. "So, she hasn't said anything to either of you?"
"Nay, lad, not a peep."
Rodney turned on his stool to face the others, knocking a piece of his project to the floor with his elbow. "No," he groaned, bending down to retrieve the object, only to be halted by Carson's hand on his arm and the major picking up the piece and setting it on the table. "I could have got it," he protested.
"Aye, but this way we don't have to listen to you moanin' like an old man," Carson replied with a wink to Sheppard.
"Yeah, McKay, we're here to help." Sheppard didn't miss the brief glare from the physicist. "What?"
"If it wasn't for your help, we wouldn't be waiting like chickens at the stump wondering when the axe will fall."
"Oh, that's just bloody gruesome, Rodney."
"Yeah, nice visual there, Dr. Gloom. What do you mean my fault?"
"You're the one who got us in this mess. If you'd stayed out on the platform sunning yourself, we never would have gotten in this situation." Rodney closed his eyes, riding out the spasm in his chest muscles. He didn't mean to be nasty with the major and realized he'd made a mistake the minute the words left his mouth. "Sorry," he mumbled.
The major stared at the bowed head in front of him, taking in scientist's pained demeanor. "No, you're right, McKay. I'm sorry."
Carson shifted on his feet, knowing he needed to stop this before it went any farther. "What do you say we go to the cafeteria and get somethin' to eat?" Placing his hand on Rodney's shoulder, he gave a small squeeze, "That way you can take your pain meds before goin' to bed."
"I'm not tired," Rodney replied petulantly, glancing back and forth between the two men in front of him.
"Aye, lad," Carson smiled, "but you will be once the muscle relaxants kick in."
"Human jello, McKay."
Rodney couldn't stop the smile from spreading across his face. "Watch me wiggle…" he started as Sheppard and Beckett helped him stand and waited while his stiff muscles eased up.
"See him jiggle," they sang, making their way out the door.
The following morning, the trio converged on the upper balcony after breakfast to enjoy the warm sun. They had started this ritual after each had been released from the infirmary following their underwater fiasco. With a bit of ingenuity and some refurbished litters, they had been able to create three deck chairs using the aluminum frames and canvas material.
Carson stretched like a cat in a sunbeam before squinting over to Rodney, "How are you feelin' this mornin', lad?"
"Pretty good, actually."
Sheppard glanced over, taking in the physicist's appearance, "When do you start back?"
Rodney closed his eyes, turning his face to the sun, "Next week. You two?"
"Today," they replied together.
"Oh, that's too bad," he said quietly, with a smug smile.
"McKay." Sheppard sat up and poked the scientist on the arm, "You will refrain from driving the cart by yourself."
Rodney's mouth opened to protest but snapped shut. "I couldn't even if I wanted to. We're out of fuel until I can make some more."
"Speakin' of fuel," Carson sat up and poked Rodney on the other arm, "I did some tests on that concoction of yours. Do you have any idea what I might have learned?"
"No, but I have the feeling that you're about to tell me."
"The fruit you used contains a natural narcotic substance that when distilled, magnifies in potency 100 percent. Combined with 180 proof alcohol and possible toxins from the hydraulic fluid, you could have bloody killed me!"
Rodney sat up carefully, wrapping his arms around his middle, and glared at Carson. "I didn't tell you to drink it!"
"Gentlemen, am I interrupting?" Weir's voice spoke softly from behind the trio.
The three men froze like deer in the headlights.
Elizabeth allowed herself a slight smile before hardening her features, making her way to stand in front of the seated individuals. When Sheppard made motion that he was about to stand, she glared at him and he remained seated. Folding her arms across he chest, she remained quiet, studying each man. "I believe that there's a problem with communication on board Atlantis. Not only does it exist in the structure, but also in the vocabulary, as well as the technology."
"Let's begin with vocabulary. If I was to ask you to define 'leave', and I'm not, I would imagine that you would describe a temporary absence from duties. But for one to have absence from duties, one must be part of a 'structure' that is in place, where there is a higher and lower chain of command. Last time I checked, I was at the top." She shifted slightly giving Sheppard the raised brow.
The major felt a twitch forming in the back of his neck but remained sitting still.
Elizabeth's focus shifted to Rodney. "Then of course there's always technology. Technology so advanced that we can't use it for our own pleasure because it may be harmful if we say 'shut it off'. Early detection systems, communication systems, and surveillance technologies that are imperative to the well being of every, did you hear me, every individual onboard this station."
The scientist stared at his feet, waiting for a hole to open up and swallow him.
"And then there's personal accountability. Even if there wasn't a problem in communication, accountability for the health and well being of all participants is incurred to those specifically trained. To those entrusted with this position, a certain responsibility is expected."
The physician felt his face warm, knowing she was staring directly at him.
Bringing her hands beside her, Elizabeth leaned back against the railing. "Gentlemen, I respect the friendship that you have carved out but I cannot allow you to use Atlantis as your personal playground. There are rules to follow. And the three of you are to be leaders and examples for the rest to follow. With leadership comes responsibility and you must take responsibility for your recent actions."
Three sets of eyes focused on her, waiting for their punishment. "You will repair the McKay. You will also be confined to Atlantis for the period of one week. Gentlemen, if another instance should come to my attention, you will be demoted to my second team. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, ma'am," they replied in unison, properly chastised.
"Good. Major Sheppard, Dr. Beckett, I believe it is time for you to report on duty. Dr. McKay, I expect you to rest and be ready to return to duty when you're cleared. Good day." And with that, she disappeared back through the doorway.
Beckett, Sheppard, and McKay remained silent a moment before they grinned and glanced at each other's backsides.
"Is it gone?" Rodney breathed.
"Sheared clean off." The major stood up, cracked his neck, and rocked on his heels.
"I don't think I've had such a scoldin' since my mother caught me spyin' on the pretty girls next door when I was grown' up. Are we sure Elizabeth isn't Scottish?"
The smile on Sheppard's face grew larger as he helped Rodney stand. "Spying on girls? Is that why you became a doctor?"
Carson grimaced, "Not everythin' I see is attractive."
Heading back inside Atlantis, Rodney paused a moment to give the doctor a smirk. "So, you're saying you 'do' look?"
"I'm not a bloody blind man, if that's what you're askin'."
Their voices faded down the hallway as Elizabeth stepped out from the shadows shaking her head. She would have to keep her on eye those three.
A/N Done! Holding hands up in the air away from the keyboard.
First off, I'd like to thank you for all of the reviews, comments, pointing out of errors, and way funny suggestions. (Some of you should really seek professional help! LOL) Overall, I wanted this to stay light hearted with just a bit of whumpin' thrown in to appease all. Personally, I laughed and snorted my way through this just picturing the looks on all the character faces as they overcame each obstacle that befell them.
Can't you just see the disgust on Weir's face when the McKay opens and the heat and smell of vomit escapes, Carson appears looking as if he'd spent the night in a bar and then drops on her feet, and the sub is trashed inside? (I can see her raised brow and small sneer, eyes a blazin'!)
Finally, this couldn't go on any longer because I couldn't think of any more bloody song titles! Think it's easy…you try it! Take Care! Jen