Summary: McKay encounters something all-too-familiar, the team's underwater mission goes bizarre in more ways than one, and Atlantis has its own problems. Phantom Thoughts sequel. That should be read for background information, but I can't force you.
Placement: Season 2, between Trinity and Instinct
Spoliers: General for Season2
Disclaimer: All things SGA canon are not mine, I like to borrow them, this plot is mine however.
Return of the Orange Couches
Rodney was once again down in the main lab, hunkered over a small piece of Ancient technology recovered from a freshly explored part of the city. It was fairly late at night for most of the population of Atlantis, but not for McKay. He relished working when the other scientists had left for the day to do normal things at normal times, like sleep when it's dark. Radek had been the last one to leave and attempted to get him to also since 'He wouldn't be any worth to them sleep-deprived.'
This particular little piece of Ancient technology had decided it didn't like Rodney's not-so-natural gene and was giving him a hard time. But he was determined on getting it to work. It was pear-shaped, sort of a reddish color, and cool to the touch. He didn't look up as a figure appeared at the door, but he knew who it was.
"Colonel, just the man I was hoping would come bother me at ten o'clock at night. Or in your lingo, 2200 hours." Holding the device out, head bowed, and writing notes down, he continued, "Activate this."
John's face stiffened and he crossed his arms, "No way in hell, Rodney. Remember the last little bit of tech I touched for you?"
Rodney finally looked up and drew the stubborn piece of tech closer to him, "That was a one time occurrence. How was I supposed to know that a little square purple box would emit a shockwave that caused your hair to fall out? Besides that was what, over a month ago?"
When it happened, the hardest thing for Rodney not to do was laugh. The Colonel was standing pretty much where he was now, rubbing the top of his head, watching chunks of hair fall out in horror. You would have thought a Wraith had his hand on his chest and was sucking him dry.
After the initial alarm had passed and John had been deemed healthy by Beckett, Rodney had commented between bouts of laughter that he looked like a hairless cat. He went on to say how creepy those cats were and how Lt. Col. Sheppard looked exactly like one. The man didn't even have eyebrows for a couple weeks. By now, most of it had grown back, but it had yet to reach the old floppy just-got-out-of-bed look.
"I don't care. You weren't the one who had to walk around bald." He walked closer, standing right across the table from McKay.
"Still hung up on it, Colonel?" For the weeks afterward, Rodney expected to walk into his quarters and find a P90 pointed at him. But that had never happened; fortunately killing for his vanity wasn't on John's list of 'Things to do in the Pegasus Galaxy.' He avoided McKay like the plague for two weeks, except on the missions, but the banter was gone for awhile. He had also worn an Air Force issue baseball cap wherever he went.
"I am not hung up on it. There are better things to do than stay fixated on the most humiliating experience of my adult life." He stood with his hands in his pockets, the tone is his voice was not sincere though.
Rodney snarked, "Yes, yes. I am very sorry for causing you soo much pain." It was only hair after all, no actually harm had been done. "Now here, just take this." He waved the device in front of John's face, causing him to take a step back.
"You can't make me. Besides, you have had the handy little gene for way over a year now, you make it work."
"What do you think I've been doing for the last couple of hours? Some things require a certain more powerful version of the gene, yours."
"I am not touching that damn thing. I came here to see how you've been treating those poor new recruits who arrived today."
"I put them through the typical probie routine. 'No, don't touch that, you'll blow the city up in a million little pieces!' 'Everything I say goes, do you understand me?' It can be exhilarating, you should try it sometime."
"That is why I'm thankful I'm not one of your geeks. Being under the command of a mad scientist is not one of my fantasies."
Rodney glared at him, he had an experience with a mad scientist before, Garin Trelio, someone he did not want to be compared to. He even had the scars to prove it - one on his left side, the other on his right calf. Add those to the one on his arm, courtesy of a certain Genii, one would think McKay was actually in the Air Force, not working with them. Scientists don't expect to get battle scars. The week long stay in the infirmary had healed him physically enough to be released all those months ago, and it took a few in depth discussions with Kate Heightmeyer/Elana Trelio after that, along with a few from John, Radek, and Elizabeth to get past what had happened.
Not long after that, they found the stasis-Elizabeth, had another incident with Kolya, and discovered they had two weeks before the Wraith attacked. That hadn't left much time to reflect on the occurrences of the first year in the Pegasus Galaxy. After the first return visit to Earth, things hadn't slowed down either.
John saw his look and corrected himself, "Brilliant scientist."
Rodney chose to ignore the obvious slip about being a mad scientist, "It doesn't hurt one bit that your fantasies lack my presence. Though I'm sure most of the Expedition's female component is stung by them not being a part, along with a few of the other men. Anyway, how are your new probies?"
"For one, I don't call them probies. I'm not in the fire-fighting business; I'm in the let's-make-sure-the-geeks-don't-get-themselves-shot business."
"It makes perfect sense though, probie, probationary, that is after all what all these fresh off the Daedalus people are, on probationary status until we decide they can stay." Except Kavanagh, who knows what that man did to get there, but Rodney can't get rid of him. He has brought up countless reasons to send him back to Earth, and when that didn't work, he considered pushing him off the highest balcony, but Radek convinced him to just resort to driving the man mentally off the edge by countless pranks. Still hasn't worked.
"Of all the things to pick up from your American uncle, you pick up a Fire House term." John also really thought that must have been where his secret inner bravery came from.
"That was my mother's side of the family. FDNY through and through." He swore at himself for letting the Maj…err Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel steer him away from the original subject, he thought he must be getting tired. He waved the device in front of him again, "Just take the thing!"
John didn't move at all, "No. It is late, Rodney. I'm going to bed." He turned and left with a smirk Rodney didn't catch.
"And which one would that be?" John didn't hear him, that or he ignored it.
After continuing on the device for a few minutes, Rodney decided that sleep did sound good. He put the frustrating piece of Ancient technology down, doubtful that it would be of any sort of use anyway, and left the lab. The halls were all but empty now, the only people being the ones on the night shift. Rodney snickered silently at the people who traveled across a galaxy only to be put on the eventless night shift.
He exited the transporter at the end of the hall and walked to his quarters' door. It slid open and he walked in, expecting to see the usual front room with a desk in the corner, a coffee table, and an overstuffed chair, all that he needed. His bedroom was just beyond that room, with its own bathroom and amenities.
But now in addition to the usual living room furniture, there were two bright orange couches.
His mouth dropped open as the door shut behind him as he thought, This is not happening… it can not be happening…
He heard a man's voice, "Long time, no see McKay."
"Garin, you ass, show yourself now!" It had to be him, the Ancient who had taken control of his body and in the struggle for control, crashed a Jumper and gave Rodney those scars.
"Why would I do that?"
"Because you just should! Now get down here!"
"What do you mean, no!" He never had a problem with gloating before.
"You cannot force me to, I have control of your mind again."
"Alright, fine!" Rodney took a moment to compose himself as he sat down in the couch that he had so many times before, "I thought you were gone, I mean you've been gone for months…"
"True…but you forget I designed that panel, it was tricked. The crash had altered the signature of my consciousness enough so as the computer believed it had gotten all of me."
He rubbed the back of his head and snipped, "Well, why come back now?"
"It seemed as good a time as any."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean!"
"It's been enough time that no one would expect that I, a murderous, crazed Ancient genius, was still in your mind. I also needed time to repair myself."
"They figured it out before!"
"Well, yes… but the situation is different."
"Yes, yes, yes… now there's no computer to hack into, everyone thinks you're dead, Peter's gone, and you're not going around downloading your wife into Kate…"
"You're forgetting one thing."
"What?" He snipped again, really hating this man. Loathed him with every fiber of his being, and hadn't even thought about him for a few months, not since Elana had left, well, died, after the Daedalus had came to Atlantis. Two consciousnesses in one brain evidently was quite taxing. The situation with him and Lt. Cadman had been different from the experience with the Trelios – there had been a mind-suppressant involved and then Kate and Elana weren't fighting like him and Cadman, but the fundamentals were the same enough. Him or Cadman would have died like Elana eventually did, albeit incredibly sooner since they were fighting with each other.
"This isn't real."
"Of course this isn't real! I'm stuck in my mind again."
"That's not what I meant." He looked at the door to see one Lt. Col. Sheppard standing there, grinning wildly. "I thought you needed a new decorator."
"You…" Rodney couldn't get any words out as he felt for my headset that was still there. He was just talking to him through his headset. "How did you…there is no way two orange couches could have been carried through the city without my knowing about it."
"I recruited my little naked gray friend."
"Hermiod! Now this has gone too far."
He pointed to the top of his head, "Did you think I was just going to let this go?"
Rodney would never admit it, but this was good. It took a lot of planning to bring these on the Daedalus, now he knew why John didn't shoot him a month ago. He had this in the works.
"I suppose not." He watched as the Colonel sat down on the opposite ridiculously orange couch, "Hermiod beamed these down? Since when have you been on good terms with him?"
"Since I presented him with this idea. Honestly, it was a little scary that he jumped on it immediately." He set down two bottles of beer he had snuck in behind his back on the coffee table and sat opposite McKay.
It scared Rodney a little too, now he had an Asgard after him. He wondered what he ever did to him, "Yes, well, he isn't exactly a typical Asgard." He crossed his arms, and clenched his jaw, not too happy about this payback.
John motioned to the table, "I brought you beer."
He snipped at John, "I see that. Soften the blow with alcohol? What good that would have done me with a heart attack."
"They're just harmless couches Rodney."
"Harmless? Hello, they represent four days that I literally watched someone else hijack my body and live my life." Rodney's eyes flamed anger.
John knew he had just screwed up. It had taken a while for Rodney to get past the ultimate week from hell, with a lot of help from Heightmeyer and the Ancient in her head, Elana Trelio, and himself. But that was months ago, and no one else had come out hurt by it, no one was killed. A lot had happened since then, and their friendship tested more than once. Through all the planning of this payback, he didn't think Rodney would still be so angry at what had happened.
He quietly and apologetically stated, "I'll have Hermiod take them back to Earth."
Rodney grabbed the nearest bottle of beer, opened it, and took a long swig. He patted the arm of the couch and leaned back, John watching him the whole time.
They sat in silence for a few minutes, neither knowing what to say at that particular moment, one of the rare times for both of them. Rodney continued to think about the couch, it was actually very comfortable, and he didn't want to deal with decorating… nor did he have the time, "Just leave them."
John grinned, "They do also represent you saving your own ass, don't they? Crashing that Jumper and all. If you didn't, who knows where Garin would have gated to. Elana might have not figured it out."
"Just wish I would have had a seat belt." He scratched the scar on his side. It acted up once in a while, but Carson had sown him up well when he was wheeled to the infirmary in a coma.
John opened the other bottle of beer, "They were installed by then."
"I was more concerned about getting control and not going through the Gate at the time."
"Well, Garin is long gone, his computer is in storage. Everything is hunky dory." He took a sip from his bottle.
"If you call the threat of the Wraith discovering Atlantis wasn't destroyed and coming back to kill us all, yea then it's all perfect."
John slouched into a more relaxed position, his arm draped over the end of the couch, beer in the other, "One takes what one can get."
Rodney let himself relax also and drank a little more, "Ready for the sub mission tomorrow?"
Yawning, he replied, "Yea, it's a pretty cool mission, more exploration of the underwater cave system, and I get to pilot the sub."
"Why do you like doing that so much anyway, wouldn't you rather be flying in atmosphere?"
John shrugged, "A mix can't hurt."
"You're an Air Force pilot, you're supposed to enjoy flying through air and the like." Rodney took another drink, wondering how exactly the Colonel managed to get two orange couches…
"Yea, you're just trying to get out of it. The first sub mission scared the hell out of you, admit it."
Rodney denied it and began a rant, "It did not. It was… different. At least a Jumper can crash on solid ground, those subs just spell a deep, watery, wet, and cold death if something goes wrong. Not to mention the drowning… of all your recklessness you cannot say that thought hasn't crossed your mind at least the once."
John nodded remembering the alternate expedition that had drowned in the city, though he went out in a fight, "It has. But that will not be happening."
"Ronon doesn't seem too excited."
"He's hiding his anticipation." John leaned forward and took a swig from the glass bottle.
"Doing a damn good job of it then."
"We'll see how it goes."
Rodney leaned forward and asked what had been eating away at his brain, "How did Hermiod get these couches from Earth, he didn't just steal them did he? I don't want people knocking on my door with a bill for the things."
"I had a friend find them."
Rodney raised his eyebrow, "From the SGC?"
"Well, it would have to be someone who knows about the Stargate Program to be in cahoots with Hermiod."
"Oh come on!"
"I'm not telling."
Rodney glared at John, "I will find out."
John smirked back, "No you won't."
A very anxious man was walking through the dark halls of the city where previously studied devices and artifacts were stored in numerous rooms, passed off into the Atlantis version of oblivion once more after their millennia of resting before. He found himself not being able to sleep, and decided to go exploring the city.
He opened a door by using the side panel and looked in. Metal shelves lined the walls and others were in the center of the room. He passed his hands over the first shelf, barely being able to see the rows of smaller devices in the almost non existent light, or their tags identifying what exactly they were.
Moving on to another row, he noticed the artifacts increased in size as the shelves went on, and how in the back the extremely large artifacts that didn't fit on shelving rested on the ground.
He walked over to the line of consoles that had been deemed to no longer serve a purpose for the Expedition or were duplicates of ones already in use. He quickly counted the eighteen of them and went by the first one.
This man usually didn't have a spectacular interest in Ancient technology, but for some reason this night he felt he should get to know more about it, and he wasn't one to go around asking people for help. So, he was on his own.
He began his way down the line of consoles, all looking somewhat the same in his eyes. They had the same coloring, the same type of old-fashioned push buttons, the same height… very monotonous. The Ancients seemed to like their tested designs.
He continued to move slowly down the row, his hand grazing the edges of each as he went. They passed one by one until a specific one made him stop when his fingers grazed a panel on top.
This console was unlike the others, besides the panel it had a monitor and seemed to be a little larger. He studied the panel, looking carefully at its rectangular design and the metal cording that lined it. The cording was cool to the touch and the surface of the panel itself seemed to be made of the same material.
His fingers pressed down on the center of the panel and jolted them slightly off after being stunned. He shook his arm and rubbed it, the feeling dissipating after a few moments and decided that perhaps it wasn't such a good idea after all to be down there.
A/N: As usual, reviews are welcomed, I really want to know what you all are thinking!