McKay-centric, team fic, with Sheppard-McKay friendship
Summary: How much can one person take? (yes yes, vague and annoying- but I don't want to give anything away)
Feedback: yes please!
Disclaimer: I own McKay, Sheppard, Ford, Beckett, Teyla, Weir, Zelenka and Bates … but, uh… you can have Kavanagh, if you really want. :P
"Jeez, why didn't the MALP warn us about the heat?" I complained from behind the others, futilely waving my hand like a fan, trying to cool my face.
"That's what I was going to ask you, McKay." Sheppard grumbled, sparing a glance over his shoulder to shoot me a dirty look. "Isn't it your job to look over the MALP info?"
I gave up on the fan thing, letting my hand drop. "Of course. And I did! The scanners must have malfunctioned, maybe because of a virus… I did see Kavanagh messing with it a couple weeks ago." I glanced up at the sky resentfully, wondering if this place might have two suns. "Or perhaps something on this planet busted it when we sent it over. Hm. Either way, I'll have to look at it when we get back."
I think Sheppard had stopped listening to me. And I had a sneaking suspicion Teyla and Ford had never started.
We plodded along the dusty path in relative silence after that. I say relative, because I was letting the others know of my discomfort on a regular basis.
"McKay, we get it!" Sheppard finally decided to yell, not even having the decorum to look over at me when he did. "We all know it's hot out here. It's not some big secret!"
"Well you wouldn't be able to tell from the pace you guys are walking at!" I snapped back, just as irritated as he was, "Can't we slow it down? It's too hot to exert myself like this!"
"The quicker we reach the city, the quicker we can go home." Teyla pointed out reasonably, totally ignoring my plea for rest.
"City?" I rolled my eyes, recalling what Teyla had told us of the Brewin people back in Atlantis during the briefing. "A city implies technology of some sort. And from what you've said, I get the impression we'll be lucky if these people have indoor plumbing, let alone anything that would be useful to us. Which reminds me," I stopped walking, wiping a hand across the back of my neck in an effort to rid myself of the sweat that had begun trickling down my back. "Why do I even have to be here?"
The others finally came to a stop too, Ford pulling out his water bottle and taking a swig.
"You didn't have any complaints before." Sheppard reminded me, running a hand through his hair and actually succeeding in making it look crazier then usual.
"That was before I knew this place was a freakin' furnace!" I exclaimed, following Ford's lead and taking out my own water bottle.
Sheppard watched me drink the water, and I knew he was resisting the urge to bring out his own. Why he would resist that urge, I had no idea. "You're here to answer any questions they have for us about technology we could potentially share."
Feeling a little more refreshed, I lowered the canteen thoughtfully. "Hmm. Right. I suppose none of you could handle that task." I sighed, aptly ignoring their glares while pouring some cool water into my hand and splashing it onto the back of my neck. "Next time, take Zelenka with you, all right?"
Sheppard nodded fervently, beginning the trek down the trail again. "Oh, you can count on it."
I tilted my head slightly to the side as Ford and Teyla started off behind him. "Wait a minute." I held up a finger, although no one was looking in my direction and none of them stopped. "Were you just being sarcastic?"
"Of course not, Doctor." he called over his shoulder.
I jogged to catch up to them, getting to the front of the group and stepping in time next to John. "Sometimes I wonder why you didn't go into stand-up," I commented, stuffing my water bottle back into the pack. "But then you open your mouth and it becomes painfully clear how not funny you are."
He shook his head and I heard him mutter quietly, "It's too hot for this."
Reaching into my utility vest, I decided to test his theory, pulling out my scanner and pressing some buttons. The read-out beeped a moment later. "My God!" I stared at the small screen, "It's 106 degrees out here!"
"Yeah, sounds about right." was all Sheppard said.
I turned to Teyla and Ford, waving the scanner in front of them frantically, looking for support in this outrageousness.
Teyla smiled at me apologetically and Ford just adjusted his cap.
"You people are insane!" I declared, hands dropping to my side in defeat.
"Aw, c'mon McKay." Sheppard laughed at my expression, resting a jovial hand on my shoulder while urging me to continue walking. "Didn't it ever get hot up in Canada?"
"I wouldn't know, because like any sane person, I was in my air-conditioned house!"
He grinned, "Ah. I remember air-conditioning. Nice invention, that."
We can't use the Ancient form of air-conditioning that Atlantis provides, preserving what little energy we have until we find another power source and all that. Thankfully though, the Ancients had been sensible enough to colonize on a planet with reasonable seasons, and not on some godforsaken hell hole like MG7-855.
"We'll be back to Atlantis soon enough." Sheppard said, kind of talking to himself now. "This is just a meeting to make sure we're friends, and hopefully- cross our fingers here- trade for some food."
"The Brewins are a practical people." Teyla spoke up from behind us, sounding very sure of herself. "They would not deny the friendship of a potential ally against the Wraith."
"Heads up, Major." Ford said suddenly, his voice tense.
I turned in the direction the Lieutenant indicated with his lifted P-90, although the warning hadn't been for me. Standing at the end of the path, covered in the shade from the trees around them (ah, shade!), was a small group of people, conversing with each other and watching us.
"All right, it's just a welcome party I'm sure." Sheppard said, carefully pushing down Ford's gun as he spoke. "Be cool." He waved casually as we continued walking towards them.
"Hello!" An older woman with graying hair greeted us pleasantly, speaking for her group. Their dress was similar to Teyla's, with crude weapons strapped to their backs and waists. Her eyes traveled over all of our faces, doing a double-take when she saw Teyla. "Is that…? You are an Athosian?"
Teyla smiled, nodding, "Yes. I am Teyla Emmagan."
The woman cocked her head to the side, tapping a finger thoughtfully against her chin, "Emmagan…Emmagan… Your father, I believe I remember him. We had a rather interesting discussion about Athosian beliefs many seasons past."
Teyla brightened immensely at the mention of her dad, "You must be Yolee! My father spoke very highly of you and your people."
"It is me." Yolee agreed with a smile, looking the younger woman up and down and commenting softly, "You look just like him." She shook her head sadly- then clapped her hands together, seeming to break out of her thoughts as she turned toward us. "Well then. Who are these fine young men accompanying you?"
Teyla, quickly overcoming her initial surprise, introduced us all in quick succession.
"Pleased to meet you." Sheppard said politely, but immediately jumped into the business part of our trip. "So, who do we talk to about possible trade negotiations?"
Yolee blinked, surprised at the sudden question. "Well, that would be myself and Orin." She spun on her heel, rather sprightly for an old lady, I couldn't help but think, "Come, follow me."
"More walking?" I whined, but only so Sheppard could hear me.
He rolled his eyes, but I could tell he felt the same way. It was damn hot.
Teyla had migrated to the front of our little group and was conversing comfortably with the Brewins. Mostly Yolee, though.
As we walked through the forest- which, actually, was a nice change from the path, at least here we had some coverage from that merciless sun- the most disappointing thing about this whole trip was that I had nothing to look forward to once we reached the city. No Ancient ruins to search through, no strange inventions to tinker with… Lost in my self-pitying thoughts, I barely managed to avoid a nasty collision with a tree-root.
"Damn it!" Steadying myself by leaning on a nearby tree trunk, I kicked the root angrily, grumbling, "Should've stayed back on Atlantis."
Sheppard, slightly ahead of me now, turned back with a frown when he noticed I wasn't beside him anymore. "Quit lagging, McKay." he ordered impatiently, grabbing a part of my utility vest and pulling me off the trunk.
I managed to resist the urge to repeat what he'd said in a mocking voice as I fell in step next to him. But just barely. This heat was obviously doing funny things to mind; my thoughts were drifting in a very un-genius like way.
In an attempt to get my usual high-functioning mind back to being high-functioning, I pulled out my scanner for something to do.
Beep beep boop beep.
Boop boop beep.
B-beep b-beep boop boop.
"Stop that!" Sheppard snarled, his temper evidently running on a short fuse.
I cringed. All right, I admit it. I had been getting into the beat.
A moment later, the scanner beeped again, and I swear Sheppard almost hit me.
"Hey! It did it by itself!"
He watched suspiciously as I checked the read-out.
"Huh. That's interesting."
"What is it?" he asked, a hint of concern lacing through his exasperated voice.
"Oh, uh nothing to worry about." I assured him, reviewing the data, "Just seems that the Brewin's are a bit more technologically advanced then I'd thought."
Sheppard raised an eyebrow, "You're sure it's nothing to worry about?"
I shrugged, "I wouldn't think so. I'm only getting readings of low-powered computers, running electricity…" I trailed off, waving a hand dismissively, "That type of stuff."
He nodded, "Doesn't seem too dangerous."
"Unless you're threatened by calculators and light bulbs, I think we're good."
I was still looking down at the scanner when Sheppard's hand pushed against my chest, stopping me. Glancing up, I saw that we had reached a clearing in the trees--Yolee and her group were facing us, a smile lighting up her weathered face.
"Our town lies just ahead." she announced cheerfully, indicating yet another path. "Unfortunately, my group and I must leave you now. We were on a hunting expedition when we saw that you visitors had come." She shared a look with Sheppard, promising, "I will return soon-- then Orin and myself will discuss trade negotiations with you. Until then, please make yourselves comfortable at the Town Square."
John tried to smile, but it came out as more of a grimace. The heat was just too much. Instead, he only repeated, "You'll be back soon?"
Another grin before she confirmed, "Of course."
We parted ways with the Brewins; Teyla and Yolee sharing a brief hug before we began our walk down another path. Another path. In 106 degree weather. I didn't even have the energy left to complain about it.
Fortunately though, this walk was a short one, and we came upon the Town Square almost immediately. Many Brewins were scampering about looking busy; some pushing carts full of food, while others carried appliances for various jobs. In the middle of all the hustle and bustle stood an enormous fountain, shaped like an unnecessarily large human head, spewing water from its mouth and ears.
"Yay." I commented unenthusiastically, adjusting a pack strap that had begun to dig into my shoulder. "We're here."
Teyla was looking remorseful. "When I was told stories of the Brewin people, this… intolerable heat was not mentioned."
"I find that hard to believe." was my grumbled reply, knowing I wouldn't forget the discomfort of this place for a long time and would talk about it to anyone that would listen.
Turning away from Teyla, I noticed Sheppard looking towards the numerous stone buildings situated in the area, creating a sort of half-circle around the expansive Town Square. "Maybe it's cooler indoors." he said thoughtfully.
"I'm willing to try anything." Ford told us, having taken off his hat to rub the sweat away from his short hair. "They might not appreciate us just walking into any of the buildings though…"
"Who cares?" I snipped impatiently.
But Sheppard ignored me, already walking forward into the crowd, stopping a random Brewin and asking, "Excuse me, do you have a…" he waved a hand, trying to think of the right word. "visitor's center?" he tried hopefully.
The man nodded, pointing toward the buildings, our attention now on the smallest one in the group. "There is a water-pool inside where you can freshen up if you like." He looked us all up and down, a small smile playing on his lips, "You look rather uncomfortable."
Sheppard smirked, "Yeah, we're not really used to this kind of heat." He turned to the rest of us, "Let's go to the uh, water-pool guys."
After thanking the man, we gradually made our way through the crowd of Brewins, finally arriving at the innocuous building. It was dome-shaped and looked to only be as large as a small convenience store. Carved above the door on a wooden plank in fancy-lettering were the words 'Water-Pool."
Sheppard, always in the lead, pushed the heavy-looking door open and stepped inside. "Oh wow." I heard him say, though it was spoken quietly.
"What is it?" I demanded, coming in behind him and expecting to see strange murals or some more crazy-looking fountain heads.
But I didn't see anything, I just felt. "Oh." I breathed. The room was actually cool. Cold, not hot. Magnificent.
Closing my eyes and taking in the wonderfulness of it all for a second, I felt my entire body temperature lower. The heady, unfocused McKay was gone, replaced by the clear-thinking and level-headed me.
I finally opened my eyes, seeing the others satisfied faces looking just as comfortable as I was.
"This is nice." Ford said, grinning ear to ear.
"Yes it is." I agreed, looking around to take in my new surroundings. There were bright and happy paintings hanging from the stone walls all around; and placed artfully between them were small tidbits of information about the Brewins themselves in little framed cases. Apparently, the town of Brügmoore had been founded nearly six hundred years ago.
Yeah, that was interesting. Anyway, I quickly bored of reading information on people I didn't really care about, so I turned to the water-pool -- standing like a slightly oversized bird-bath in the middle of the small area.
I no longer felt the desperate need for water anymore though, so I went over to one of wooden benches situated against the walls of the room instead, sitting down heavily as I shed the heavy pack from my back.
The others quickly followed suit, sitting on the other benches and taking off their own packs.
With nothing else to occupy ourselves with, and none of us really being the silent types, we got into conversations of sports. I don't really remember how it started, but it quickly morphed into me defending my favored sport of hockey against Sheppard and Ford's precious football.
"Why the hell is it even called football?" I demanded, trying to steer them away from offending the Vancouver Canucks, which they seemed to be dangerously close to doing. And I wasn't sure I'd be able to be friends with them anymore if they did that. "Only one person on the entire team even kicks the ball!" I exclaimed, holding up a finger to illustrate my point.
Sheppard scoffed, "Let's not even get into names. I mean 'hockey?' Come on!"
"What?" I asked heatedly, dropping the finger and rounding on him. "What's wrong with 'hockey'?"
Ford and Sheppard exchanged a knowing look that irritated me to no end.
Teyla, who had been watching us amusedly but mostly silently for the last half hour, finally spoke up, "These sports are very interesting, but I'm afraid they both pale in comparison to the Athosian game of Poundball."
The three of us shared curious glances, temporarily putting our, uh, 'discussion' to rest as Sheppard repeated curiously, "Poundball?"
"Yes." She nodded with a smile, continuing, "A team game, that, truthfully, sounds much better then your Earth competitions."
Our interested was piqued, and since she'd pretty much challenged the entertainment value of our sports with that statement, Teyla began explaining the rules of Poundball to us.
Right in the middle of a rather fascinating, and, not to mention painful explanation of a 'ground pass,' the door to the visitor's center suddenly banged open.
"Yolee!" Sheppard greeted with surprise, rising to his feet quickly. Ford and Teyla did the same, but… I wasn't quite ready to get up yet.
"Sorry to have kept you waiting." She said, tucking strands of gray hair behind her ear and breathing a bit heavily, "A rather large Ganoo didn't want to be our supper tonight." She flashed a toothy grin, saying proudly, "Fortunately though, we managed to convince him." While she chuckled at her own joke, we sort of smiled awkwardly.
She seemed uncomfortable standing in the cool room though, so she quickly went to business and asked John, "Are you ready to have that meeting with Orin, Major Sheppard?"
"Sure," he answered instantly, slipping his pack up onto his back. He looked over and saw I was still sitting on the bench, hands linked behind my head. He frowned, asking sarcastically, "You coming?"
"Uh, that'd be a 'no'." I said, pretending I'd forgotten how to identify sarcasm, "Sorry."
After a long moment of consideration, he finally sighed and said, "All right. Ford, you stay here with McKay. We'll come get you both if they have any questions." The lieutenant grinned happily, obviously pleased that he wouldn't have to go out into the heat again. "Teyla, you ready?"
And the three of them left.
I glanced over at Ford, who'd promptly slumped down on the bench again, pulling his hat down over his eyes. "You think Poundball is as good as Teyla makes it out to be?" I asked.
I made out his grin from underneath the brim, "You ever known Teyla to exaggerate?"
I laughed, "True enough."
We lapsed into silence after that, Ford taking a sort of cat-nap, while I pulled out my laptop and worked on catching up on some reports I'd been putting off.
But that got boring fast. I'm sorry, but here I was, sitting on another planet, in another galaxy and… doing paperwork?
I just couldn't.
Snapping the laptop shut, I slipped it into my pack, rising to my feet.
"Hey, where ya' goin'?" Ford asked, pulling up his hat and blinking a few times, trying to clear away the drowsiness from his snooze.
"To find Sheppard," I strode towards the door, "the Brewin's probably have questions about the technology on Atlantis, and we both know how up-to-date the Major is on that subject."
"But you didn't want to go earlier…" he tried.
I shrugged, pausing by the door as I slung the pack over my shoulders. "I do now."
"All right, all right." he gave-in, waving a hand at me, "Just wait one second."
I tapped my foot impatiently as Ford stood, stretching leisurely and giving a big yawn. Taking his sweet time, I might add; as if I wasn't standing there waiting.
"Okay." he finally said with a heavy sigh, coming up next to me and baring his teeth. He was obviously bracing himself- but in true Ford fashion, all he said was a sulky, "Into the furnace then."
I pulled the door open, immediately feeling the heat waves from the outdoors intrude into the cool, little room.. I stood for a second, in-between the heat and the cold, enjoying the bizarre sensation before Ford rudely poked me in the back.
"Aaagh." I commented, feeling the full effects of the heat when I stepped all the way out of the building and onto the dusty planet.
"Yeah." Ford agreed, walking out behind me and giving me a resentful look, "I hope you're happy about this."
I sniffed, raising my chin, "Of course I'm not happy. I'm doing this for the team."
He scoffed, "Oh yeah. 'For the team.' Admit it, you were just bored."
I stomped away from him, avoiding collisions with busy Brewins while looking about the buildings, wondering which one they were having the meeting in.
"Hey!" Ford suddenly yelled, sounding alarmed.
I began a turn to find out what was the matter.
But I didn't find out.
Because quite suddenly, I lost consciousness.
TBC… as soon as beta finishes up the second chapter. (: