Disclaimer: I don't own any of the people mentioned in this fic. But if anyone has a clue as to how I can get hold of a certain Scottish doctor……..
A/N: My first real 'Atlantis' fic. Please be gentle. I'm trying. And if any of you are regular readers of my other fics, I swear to you I haven't given up on them. But all the plots are lodged in my brain. And it's been my experience that a few one-shots sometimes get the ball rolling, so to speak.
Premise: There's a rift between John and Rodney after the events of 'Runner'. And Carson is determined that they work it out. Rodney-John-Carson friendship with a bit of Aiden thrown in. Probably a little angsty, but I'm not sure. I've never written angst before. Snatches of humor here and there. One-shot.
Hope you like!
"Mind if I sit down?"
Rodney looked up from his laptop to find John Sheppard looming over him. Wonderful. Another mother hen. He shrugged and turned his attention back to the computer screen. Taking that as a yes, John pulled a chair up next to the bed and sat down.
"Does Beckett know you brought that thing in here?" he asked, gesturing towards the laptop.
"Carson asked Radek to bring it to me. I'm working on a project," Rodney replied, not even looking away from the screen.
John frowned slightly.
"He didn't let me have my laptop when I was staying in the infirmary for observation after we were exposed to that radiation."
Rodney rolled his eyes, but still stayed focused on the laptop.
"The two situations are hardly the same, Major."
"Whatever. I am working with Radek on a possible power source SA-3 discovered while we were gallivanting around on Earth," the scientist explained.
"Did you say 'gallivanting'? McKay, I didn't know you could 'gallivant'. Just what, exactly, does 'gallivanting' involve?" Sheppard pestered his friend. Rodney let the comment pass.
"It's possible that we could adapt this power source to the Ancient equipment of Atlantis, thereby diminishing the need for a ZedPM. On the other hand, everyone knows there's nothing on your laptop but games. I fail to see how the happiness and life quality of your Sim compares to the importance of my project."
John knit his brows together and huffed slightly.
"His name is Michael. And he's about to propose to his girlfriend," he announced somewhat petulantly.
Rodney studiously ignored his friend and John fell into silence for a moment. But only for a moment.
"Isn't it annoying to only be able to type with one hand?" he inquired.
Rodney did look at him then. His blue eyes penetrated John's hazel ones, their expression a mixture of disbelief, frustration, and anger.
"I'd simply love to be able to type with both hands. But, I seem to have sprained my wrist and dislocate my shoulder. Any idea how that might have happened, Major?"
"Don't avoid the question!" Rodney shot back.
Both men looked up to see Carson coming towards Rodney's bed with the scientist's medical chart in hand.
"The question I just asked," Rodney explained.
"About what?" Carson inquired as he set down the chart and headed towards Rodney and his injuries.
"Who's on first?" John piped up cheerfully.
"Shut up!" growled Rodney as Carson started to examine his injuries.
"Oh, you must still be grouchy about that tree thing," John stated as he leaned back and propped his feet up on the other bed. He dropped them a split second later when Carson turned around and glared at him. Clearing his throat, he continued. "You're really going to have to forgive and forget when it comes to that. I think I might like Ronon on the team."
"Ronon? I'm not angry with Ronon! I'm angry with you. This is all your fault!" Rodney barked out.
Carson couldn't see John's face at the moment, but he was certain the Colonel looked very confused. Truth be told, he was slightly confused himself. But he usually found himself in that state of mind when he was around these two.
"How could it be my fault!" exclaimed John, starting to rise from his chair.
"You should've cut me down when you first found me. But no, we just had to run off and play hero again, didn't we? Leave McKay in the tree. He's worthless, after all."
"Rodney. Be still, lad," Carson gently reminded him as he tried to take a look at the sprained wrist.
"Who said you were worthless? I never said that! And me cutting you down when I first found you wouldn't have made any difference. You still would've gotten injured. You seem to excel at that sort of thing," John retorted.
"So now I'm worthless and I'm a klutz? Oh, that's just fine. Tell me, Major. How many more insults are you going to be heaping on me while I'm bedridden in the infirmary?"
"Rodney! Stay still!" the doctor's voice had gone from gentle to slightly commanding.
"Colonel! It's Colonel! And I didn't mean you were a klutz. I just meant you have a special knack for finding trouble."
"I don't give a flying…..fornication for your rank. You certainly never bothered with my title. Why should I bother with yours? And if I have a special knack for finding trouble, it's because you have a special knack for picking the wacked out worlds we go to!"
"I don't pick them! Elizabeth assigns the worlds to the teams!" John defended himself.
"Well, isn't that just like you? Put the blame off on someone else. Let me tell you a few things, Major-."
"Rodney! Either be still or you're going to be on the unpleasant end of some bloody big needles. And for the love of all that's holy, please call the man 'Colonel'. I'm sick of this childish nonsense in my infirmary. And as for you," Carson rounded on John, who had been smirking until he came face to face with the Scot's fiery blue gaze, "if you can't come in here for a quiet chat, you can bloody well leave. My patients need rest, not constant pestering. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"
John stared at Carson, momentarily stunned. Everyone knew the chief medical officer of Atlantis had a temper, but it was rarely seen in the infirmary.
"Well?" Carson prodded, looking back and forth between the two men and feeling very much like the father of two wayward children.
"Crystal," John finally replied.
"He started it," Rodney began.
"Fine. No more arguing. But it wasn't my fault."
Carson sighed, knowing that was probably the best he would get out of Rodney. He returned to his task of examining the sprained wrist…..and waited for the two men to start talking about what was really bothering them. This wasn't really about John leaving Rodney up in the tree. Although when Rodney first arrived in his infirmary, Carson had been more than a little peeved at John himself. Friends just didn't leave friends hanging upside down in a tree on an alien planet. But Carson had observed John over the past couple of days. His eyes had a haunted look to them and the Scot knew he was thinking about young Lieutenant Ford….and most likely blaming himself, again, over Aiden's condition.
It was silent in the infirmary, something Carson infinitely preferred over shouting matches. He worked quickly now that Rodney was still. When he was done, he reached over and grabbed the laptop away from Rodney. The scientist barely had time to register that his 'security blanket' was gone.
"Hey! You said I could have that!" he whined, reaching for the laptop with his good arm. Carson held it just out of his grasp.
"I changed my mind," Carson calmly replied, placing the laptop on the bed next to Rodney's.
"You can't do that! Can he do that?" Rodney looked at John, who shrugged.
"It's my infirmary, son. I can do anything I want. You can have your laptop back after you've engaged in a civil conversation with Colonel Sheppard."
Rodney pouted as John began to look smug. But John was so busy enjoying his supposed victory that he didn't have a chance to deflect Carson as the doctor reached out and whipped John's radio earpiece off his head.
"Hey! What if Elizabeth needs me?"
This remark earned a stunned look from Rodney and a raised eyebrow from Carson. John winced inwardly as he realized how that must have sounded.
"She's gotten along without you most of her life, Colonel. I imagine she can wait for a few minutes," Carson replied, trying not to smile.
John scowled at him.
"I meant, what if they need me? What if there's an emergency or something?"
"If there's an emergency, I'll let you know," Carson assured him, knowing he had a valid point. "But until then, enjoy the conversation."
He beamed at the two men and made his way across the infirmary to Ronon, who had just been brought back from more tests on his back. Rodney and John watched him go, irritated looks on both their faces.
"Great. Now he's a psychiatrist, too," Rodney muttered to John.
"No! Just a concerned friend," came the reply from across the infirmary.
"With ears like a bat," remarked John, exchanging surprised glances with Rodney.
"Stop that, Carson!" Rodney shouted. John thought he could see the Scot's shoulders shaking and he even detected a slight smile on Ronon's face. Could that man smile? He wondered.
The two of them sat in silence, unwilling to be the first to speak. Things had been uncomfortable between them since Aiden first went AWOL. But the incident on P3M-736 had only served to broaden the gap between the two friends. John cleared his throat several times, starting to say something and then changing his mind. Rodney picked at the blanket that covered his legs for a while before turning his attention to the bandage on his wrist.
"Oh, this is ridiculous," John finally spoke up. "Look, McKay, I'm sorry I left you up there, alright? I kind of had a singular focus at the time."
Rodney started to make a sarcastic reply, but stopped himself. He was new at this whole 'friend' thing and this entire situation was completely foreign to him. He felt as if he had betrayed Ford and disappointed Sheppard. And he didn't like it at all. It was eerily similar to the feeling of failure and Rodney McKay did not take failure well. Taking a deep breath, he went with the nicer approach.
"You were following orders, Colonel. Trying to catch Ford before he hurt himself……or one of us."
Sheppard snorted derisively.
"Yeah, I did a top notch job there, didn't I? Not only did I not succeed in bringing him back to Atlantis, I also managed to put a bullet in him."
The self-loathing in John's voice instantly crumbled the walls Rodney had carefully been placing around himself for the past few weeks. The scientist felt as if he had just been kicked in the gut. Had he really been so caught up in everything else that he hadn't realized Sheppard blamed himself for Ford's condition? Well, chalk up another failure in the friend department.
"I shot him, too, you know," Rodney spoke up, his voice very quiet.
"Yeah, I know. Um…..McKay, do you mind if I ask you a question?" John's tone was hesitant.
Rodney shrugged, not trusting himself to speak. He was still working on putting up those walls again.
"What did the two of you talk about? You know…..out there."
And the walls came tumbling down. McKay sighed inwardly. He wasn't going to answer that. He didn't have to answer that. He'd been trying his best to forget those moments when Ford had seemed like himself again. They were even more torturous than the moments when it was obvious that the young man was completely out of it.
"Rodney? I need to know."
Oh, crap. Did he have to use that pleading tone? Rodney had never heard that tone in Sheppard's voice before. Well, maybe he did have to answer after all.
"Well….um….we talked about stuff."
"Yeah. You know. Stuff. He wanted to rescue you and Teyla. He knew Ronon had the two of you. He thought if he rescued you, it would prove he wasn't crazy."
God, this was hard to talk about.
"He wanted to save us from Ronon?" Sheppard asked. "That's what the two of you talked about out there?"
Rodney nodded and watched as the emotions flickered across John's face. As always, the Colonel's mask soon slipped back into place. Although everything Rodney had ever believed was screaming at him to shut up, he kept going.
"Ford was happy for you, you know," he ventured.
John looked over at Rodney, surprised at this revelation.
"Happy for me?" he asked.
"Um….yeah. He seemed very happy for you. I told him about your promotion and he just……grinned. Said 'Good for him!'."
Again, Rodney watched as his friend struggled with emotions. It was funny, he thought, how similar they actually were. Both of them determined to not show any true feelings. He hid behind sarcasm and Sheppard hid behind military bravado. Under normal circumstances, Rodney would've died before saying what he said next. But these were certainly not normal circumstances.
"It's not your fault, John. What happened to Aiden, I mean. Nobody blames you except yourself."
Sheppard shook his head and stood up, beginning to pace back and forth.
"I betrayed him. I've lost his trust. Would you trust me if I shot you?" he turned to Rodney.
"Uh…..you did shoot me. And you pushed me off a balcony," Rodney reminded him, unable to keep a spark of humor out of his eyes.
For a moment, John just stared at him. Then slowly, very slowly, a smile crossed his face as he remembered the incident in question.
"Oh, yeah," he said. "I'd forgotten about that." He chuckled slightly.
"Well, you don't have to be so pleased about it," the scientist rebuked, feeling oddly comfortable suddenly.
"Why not? I'm sure plenty of people would've gladly traded places with me. Zelenka, Beckett, General O'Neill….." John paused before continuing. "Colonel Carter."
"Alright, you've had your fun. That's enough," Rodney complained. But he couldn't stop himself from smiling back at his friend. Again, they fell silent. John sighed as his smile faded.
"We'll find him, John," Rodney heard himself saying. "We'll find him and bring him back here."
"Of course we will."
"Carson! Stop skulking around! It's creepy. Although I guess all you voodoo doctors practice skills in that area," Rodney baited the doctor.
"Aye, Rodney. It's a little known fact that all doctors are required to take 'Skulking 101'," Carson replied, rolling his eyes before turning his attention to Sheppard. "Everything alright over here, Colonel?" he inquired.
"Just lovely," came the reply. Carson raised his eyebrows at the sarcasm and John shook his head. "Sorry. Don't pay any attention to me. I'm just brooding."
Carson frowned and put his hand on John's shoulder.
"We'll find him, son. And when we do, I'm going to do everything in my power to get him back to normal. We owe that to him."
"We owe him more than that," John retorted. Both Rodney and Carson could see the Colonel was about to head in the self-loathing direction again. And they were both determined to cut him off.
"Why don't we just start with getting him back to normal?" Rodney suggested.
"Right. Then we can concentrate on the other things," Carson agreed. "I'm sure that, once he's back to normal, Aiden won't have any trouble coming up with ways we can make it up to him. The boy has quite an imagination."
Amazingly, John found himself grinning.
"Yeah, he just can't name things worth a crap," he said. "Maybe I'll let him name something when we get him back. McKay's lab needs a name."
"Aye, I think that'll be just the thing for him, Colonel," Carson beamed.
"When I get him back," John repeated.
"When we get him back," corrected Rodney. John smiled at him.
"When we get him back, Rodney. When we get him back."
A/N: Okay, so I know it probably sucks. But like I said before, this is my first attempt at an actual 'Atlantis' fic. Unless you count my 'Ode to Steve'. But I don't count that. That's more about the Wraith and doesn't involve characterization. If any of my favorite 'Atlantis' authors are out there...Neuropsych, jennamajig, Dr Dredd, McRaider, nebbyj, Layton Colt…….and if you're reading this, I'd appreciate any constructive criticism you have. You guys rock!
Any flames will be used to light a bonfire on a deserted island with my choice of Jack Sparrow, Sawyer from LOST……..or Daniel Jackson and Carson Beckett. And you won't be invited.