A/N: So uh… been awhile, huh? I stashed this away as I had Final Exams. But, now it's break so here you go. The last chapter… wow.


Chapter 15-Cleaning Up

Dr. Rodney McKay is in a coma.

Teyla Emmagan is unconscious.

Specialist Ronon Dex had woken up from his medical-induced coma and told them all Duplicate Rodney's wishes.

Lt. Colonel John Sheppard is confined to the infirmary.

Sgt. Stackhouse survived a Wraith feeding.

And let's not forget that the said Wraith, Jim, was dead.

Carson could barely remember the morning, how calm and peaceful it was without an infirmary full of the leading Atlantis team. He patted Rodney's hand as he looked down on him. "You can wake up anytime now, we're all wondering what's going on in that head of yours."

Elizabeth rose from her chair at the bedside, "What I wouldn't give for one of his techno babble rants."

"Aye. So would I."

"Dr. Beckett?" He looked to the door to see the head nurse. "She's awake."

Elizabeth and Carson left Carolyn to sit with the scientist, and rushed to where John was standing beside one of two occupied infirmary beds. They walked into the middle of a conversation.

"I feel fine, Ronon." Teyla tried to assure the man as she sat up in pure white scrubs.

"You don't look like it." He spoke from his own bed beside hers.

Carson agreed silently. She looked as if she hadn't slept in about a month.

Elizabeth spoke sincerely, "Teyla, it's wonderful to see you awake," as she solemnly remarked to herself how Rodney would have a field day with seeing his team clothed in red, white, and blue scrubs.

"Colonel, I shouldn't be seeing you out of that bed."

"I was just-" John was stopped when Carson gave him a -Don't make me stick a needle in your bum to sedate you- look. His face morphed into a look that can only be found on a guilty puppy dog and he crawled back onto the bed.

Carson began to check Teyla over asking her the usual questions and when he was finished and announced that she would be alright, Elizabeth asked the question. "What did you see?"

Teyla swallowed and responded, "A ship."

John raised his eyebrows, "Hive ship?"

"Yes. But it is not on its way here. They are not aware of Atlantis's continued presence."

"Oh thank heavens." Carson sighed, "The Wraith was acting on his own then?"

"Yes. His mind was… a jumbled one but I sorted out that he is but an adolescent."

"Was." Elizabeth shifted her weight, "He died shortly after you passed out."

Teyla breathed deeply and immediately noticed that she could not sense him anymore, something she missed upon waking, "How?"

Carson resisted shrugging, "I'm still working on that one." And unknown to the others, he had a solid theory developing and needed three particular tests to come back before he was going to say anything, to anyone.

"Continue please."

Teyla nodded and followed Dr. Weir's request, "His dart was hidden amongst the wreckage above, what I can only assume was, Doranda."

Elizabeth had a flash, along with everyone else; of the planet that was part of the three-fifths of a particular solar system.

"He was on his way to investigate the Ancient Weapon on the planet when he detected a lone Jumper."

John ran his IV-linked hand through his still stubbornly short hair, "Rodney and I."

"Yes. Before the weapon exploded, he beamed aboard the Daedalus and has been there ever since."

"How'd he do that?" Ronon looked around in search of an answer. No Wraith he had ever encountered was able to transport themselves from inside their darts.

The others had equally confused expressions and John built upon the Satedan's question, "The Wraith do not have beaming technology like the Asgard. Unless he walked out into the middle of space and scooped himself up."

Teyla shook her head, "He was important, a son of a Hive Queen and he was readily becoming a leading scientist. His was the only dart to possess an altered version of the technology the Wraith use in cullings, so he was able to gain access to the Daedalus."

Elizabeth carried on the logical flow of the conversation. "And as a scientist, an Ancient outpost would be very interesting to him."

Ronon crossed his arms in his mostly lying down position, "Sounds like he would have been an asset for some intel."

The head of Atlantis turned to the Chief Medical Officer, "Carson, I want to know what killed him."

"Right." He began to walk to the medical research part of the infirmary but turned back to the two men in scrubs, "Not one move," and he was gone.

Ronon and John looked at each other and John shrugged. Ronon remarked, "Why does he assume I would want to leave?"

"Are you kidding?" John quipped, "You're associated with me."

"Oh." Ronon forgot about that little detail.

--- ---

"You can really do that?" It was only a few minutes later when Elizabeth had run into Radek and Alexa, literally, on her way to her office. The last remaining ten thousand year old plant was the casualty of the trio's collision. After dusting themselves off, calling a clean up crew, and wondering how that particular dead plant had managed to evade the eyes of the maintenance crew and Elizabeth herself for over a year, they secluded themselves in the office.

Radek nodded, "I believe so. It would be a matter of isolating the particular section."

"So you can actually blend Duplicate Rodney's memories of today into Rodney's?"

Radek shifted a little, "Without explaining it in too much technical detail… yes it is possible. Not easy, but possible."

"I saw the look in your eye when we talked about it, it is more than possible." Alexa resisted poking the man in his side for underplaying his intelligence.

"We won't be loosing him them. That eases my mind about this whole situation." With the rush of adrenaline long gone from her body upon the news of the survival of the original McKay, she felt like sleeping for exactly three months… make that four. But of course that thought passed in an instant, barely leaving a mark.

"As long as Duplicate-Rodney agrees to it." Alexa commented.

"Yes he… uh," Elizabeth paused, "Ronon told us he wishes to be erased once extracted."

Radek took a moment and replied, "That is possible now."

"You know why he wasn't before?"

"Yes. There was a problem with one of the internal connections."

"I assume you corrected it?"

"Yes." Radek was relieved as it seemed like he wasn't going to have to explain why there was a loose connection.

"Did it just become faulty over the years?" Elizabeth asked like she would with any problem.

Nope, he wasn't getting out of it.

Alexa could see Radek's discomfort and spoke before he could, "That would be the logical conclusion." That couldn't be classified as a lie… right?

Radek hid a smile, glad that one of the memories he had of Peter was going to stay locked away privately. He hadn't told Alexa exactly what happened, that he and Peter were having difficulty maneuvering the large console and rammed it into the doorway of the infirmary, but she got the most of it.

"Let's go discuss this." They headed to the infirmary.

---

"Dr. Beckett?" Carolyn rushed into the research lab with the results of three tests, ones that Carson's whole theory rested on.

"You have them?" Carson looked up from the microscope.

She nodded and handed them over. He quickly read over the one line summaries, all reading 'Positive.' He sunk down into a chair trying to beat back memories, but they flooded into his mind like water from a broken dam, threatening to break the barrier that was holding them from leaking out through his eyes.

"Are you alright?" Carolyn placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Yes…uh it's nothing."

She wisely left to give him time alone, sensing what was going on.

Memories of days spent on a distant planet in a galaxy far from his home on the Scottish shores were sloshing around and running into each other like waves on the rocks. He never thought he'd find someone quite like her, Perna, somewhere so foreign.

He helped to kill her along with thousands of her people.

Now that protein was staring him in the face from the reports.

"Bloody hell." He murmured alone in the lab, not once had he considered that he would ever find a living person, let alone two, that possessed the same protein that one Hoffan man did so many years earlier. One he helped to create a vaccine out of, and inadvertently a possible biological weapon.

He collected himself and activated his radio, "Elizabeth?"

It was a moment before she responded, "Yes, Carson?"

"I need to see you in my office. I found something you should know about."

"I'm almost to the infirmary. Talk to you in minute." She could hear something off in his voice but he hid it skillfully.

Carson rose from the chair and walked quickly, his white lab coat slightly billowing behind him. When he reached his office, he was surprised to see Radek and Dr. Stroh with Elizabeth. "What's this now?"

Alexa responded, "We have some news of our own."

"Go ahead." Carson was relieved to have at least a few moments until he had to delve vocally into the subject of the Hoffans.

Radek explained, "I've found a way to isolate the part of Duplicate Rodney's memories after he was copied, the only part that diverges from our Rodney, and blend them into Rodney's memories of the day."

"A part lives on." Carson nodded in agreement.

Elizabeth replied, "Exactly. We need both Rodneys permission first of course."

"Then you'll need to talk with Duplicate Rodney."

"Would it be safe?"

Carson thought a moment before answering Elizabeth, "A switch or two between control should be fine, but no more than that."

"That's all we need. You had some news?"

Carson looked at the two scientists out of the corner of his eye, "Aye, I'd like to tell you in private." He wasn't being mean, he just wanted as little people as possible see him in the state he was fighting back, and it wasn't as if anyone but Elizabeth needed to know right now.

Radek looked at his friend and knew something was happening and that he'd find out later if it was necessary, "We'll be going. Much work to do." Radek steered Alexa gently to the door after brief goodbyes and left Carson and Elizabeth alone in the office.

Carson sat down in his chair as Elizabeth followed and sat in one facing him. "What is it?" She kept her voice softened.

"Jim… the Wraith, was poisoned."

Elizabeth furrowed her eyebrows, "By what? Not the garlic?"

"The garlic had nothing to do with it. It was the protein we first learned about on Hoff. Sgt. Stackhouse possesses it naturally, and I found massive traces of it in the Wraith's systems. That is why he was unable to feed on him and eventually died. All his organs shut down." Carson was surprised at how he was able to keep back his emotions so well now, after the initial shock of it. He realized the time here must have hardened him some.

"I suppose that confirms the possibility of it not only existing in the Pegasus Galaxy." She knew Carson must have been startled by coming into contact with the protein again, after what happened at Hoff, she had given him a few days off and they had a few talks.

"There's more. Ronon also has it."

"Really?" She thought and continued, "Do you think that's why he was chosen as a Runner?"

"I'd bet on it. He said the Wraith stopped feeding on him in a few seconds."

They sat in silence until she breached the touchy subject but it had to be addressed, "I know it would be difficult, but with a direct source of the protein, would it be possible to make a better inoculation?"

"Yes, but I'm going to keep focus on the retrovirus I'm working on."

She wasn't going to push, "Understandable."

Carson gripped the reports in his hand, "I should go tell Sgt. Stackhouse and Ronon, if you would come along we can ask Duplicate Rodney his wishes as well."

Elizabeth nodded, "Of course," and they left his office.

Xxx Xxx

Rodney breathed in the smell of the ocean and felt the sun beating down on his bare chest. "This is the life."

"Almost paradise." The manifestation of his subconscious was sprawled out on a lounge chair next to Rodney's, and wasn't exactly alone.

Rodney snapped his head around to look at him, "What do you mean almost?" He felt the touch of a woman's hands massaging his shoulders and couldn't imagine what could be better than the past few days, at least he thought it was days, spent on the beach with beautiful, dumb blondes in bikinis at his beckon call and ready and wil- never mind.

"Don't tell me you don't know." He pushed the woman clad in bright yellow away.

"Well I don't, and isn't it your job to tell me?" The blonde in a pink bikini kept working his fantasy-tanned shoulders.

The equally tanned and shirtless Garin look-a-like clad similarly as Rodney in swim trunks searched up and down the strip of beach, seeing nothing but imagined women in all colors of bikinis playing volleyball, Frisbee, running, bouncing…

"You were never and will never be the typical bachelor, McKay."

Rodney countered with, "I've always been a bachelor."

"How easily the consciousness forgets, but I never have."

"Stop being so cryptic, would you?" He snipped.

"Do I have to spell it out for you? There's a reason you haven't had a serious relationship, or relationship at all for that matter, in over a decade."

Rodney grinded his teeth with the sudden realization, "Shut up."

"You're sabotaged every feeble attempt you've made."

"Shut up."

"Because you didn't want anyone of those women, not really, not for the long run."

"Shut up!"

With the shout, the beach and blondes faded away to leave the two men in an old apartment.

The Garin look-a-like pressed on as he looked around at the surroundings, "So you do remember after all." They were standing in the middle of a smaller sized living room, just large enough for a couch, overstuffed recliner, coffee table, and a place for the television. Off to the left separated by a half-wall was the kitchen and behind the living room was the hall leading to two bedrooms and the bath.

Rodney shook his head, "No, I refuse to."

"You can't just forget years of your life, it doesn't work that way."

"It does because that time doesn't exist. It was a dream that didn't last." With a thought the apartment faded away to be replaced by Rodney's apartment in Colorado Springs.

"One of these days, you are going to have to remember."

"No I won't."

"Pain does not disappear without being faced, and you know that if I do."

Rodney snapped at the other man, "That part of my life is dead, literally or did you forget that?"

"Some of it is dead, that it true. But the other-"

"Might as well be dead."

The Garin look-a-like sighed. Why did he have to be so stubborn? He sunk onto the couch and went on solemnly, "I can't do this anymore, not by myself. Every day you stuff more pain on top of this foundation, you bury it, and you bury me. There will be more death in the Pegasus Galaxy, you'll most likely lose more people, and one day it will all hit you like a train."

Rodney sat down next to his subconscious and spoke just as solemnly, "Thinking about death is not something I do well, and I don't see that changing. You pack it in, and move on to the next day, believing that they didn't die for nothing."

The other man nodded his head and perked up, "They're calling you. It's time to go."

"What?"

"You most likely won't remember any of this, but goodbye anyway. I'll be in touch."

"Funny, very funny." And with that, Rodney was gone from that reality.

His subconscious leaned back into the couch and changed the setting back to the old apartment. He thought I'll never forget as he heard keys in the door.

-

The first thing he felt was wrong. His body didn't feel right, it felt weak and immovable. He knew he was on his back and had something draped over the lower half of his body, probably a blanket. Where was he though? … his mind was still cloudy having not been awake for so long.

He heard shuffling to the left of him and a soft sigh. It couldn't be, was he back?

"Liz'beth?"

The memories of the crash and of the subsequent events began to filter back in as he felt her take his hand.

"Yes, Rodney. Stay with me."

He followed her voice as she called on her radio and fluttered his eyes open to the soft light of the room. There were those ceiling tiles. The cursed ceiling tiles. But it seemed as if he was in a separate room… not the regular infirmary. Was he that bad?

"Rodney, you've been worrying us for awhile." She gently stroked his hand.

"How long?" He mumbled quietly.

"You've been back in Atlantis for five days."

The room came fully into focus as he looked around. Yep, it was definitely one of the private rooms in Carson's infirmary. There were all the machines, a couple of chairs for visitors, and a table with extra blankets…

"Rodney, do you remember what happened?"

Wait, when did Carson show up? Best to answer his question, "Of course."

Carson and Elizabeth smiled a little at the way Rodney snipped that answer. He was back.

"Well, lad, then what happened?" He began his checks, including looking at Rodney's pupils and he gave him some ice chips for dry mouth.

"Mission, sub, copy-me and Ronon, power failure, crash, more power failure…"

"Alright." Carson thought a moment, "Is 7,549 Prime or Not Prime?"

"Oh, please, Prime." Rodney sat up a little so he stayed fully awake.

"Just checking. This is the first time you've been awake for more than a second."

"How bad am I?" For some reason he had a bed feeling about it…he couldn't exactly remember the time he spent talking with is subconscious or the shock of not being able to speak and the moments that time-skipped in the reality, but the feeling remained.

"We had to repair damage to your lungs by broken ribs. There was more blood loss than was good for ya."

"Carson…"

Dr. Beckett knew he was avoiding a part of what happened, but he didn't want to shock Rodney in the first few minutes he had of full consciousness.

"Carson, I can tell there's more."

"Rodney, I don't think-"

He cut off Elizabeth before she could finish, a very rare occurrence, "I need to know."

Carson sighed, "Your heart gave me trouble before and during surgery."

"How much trouble?"

"It stopped, and I- I called it."

"You pronounced me dead? How long?"

"A few seconds."

"Oh man…" They heard the monitors pick up pace. "I died, I died... I was dead…."

"You're not the only one Rodney."

Rodney eyed the smirking man at the door dressed in his usual uniform, "Colonel? You don't look dead to me."

"Not anymore."

"Oh right, bug-on-the-neck thing. But you weren't legally dead. I was."

John took a step closer, "Everything is fine now. You're awake and alert."

The monitors returned to normal, "How's the… Copy-me?"

"He's back in the computer." Carson replied.

"He's just going to sit there?"

Elizabeth shifted her weight, "Well… we have this idea…"

"What idea?"

John answered, "To give you his memories from that day."

"What?"

Elizabeth explained their position, "We don't feel right just… deleting him."

"He's agreed to this?"

"Wouldn't you?" John countered.

Rodney sucked in a slow breath, "Yeah. Whatever. Whose idea was this?"

John shrugged, "Zelenka."

He scoffed, "I should've known. Trying to fix his mistake, hmm? You did tell him I plan on retribution, some serious, painful, retribution?"

"Yes, I did. He doesn't seem too worried."

"Then he's not as smart as I thought. Get him up here; I want to know exactly what I'm getting myself into."

Xxx Xxx

"Psst, McKay."

Rodney stirred from his half-asleep state to see John standing next to him with a wheelchair in the faded light of the infirmary sometime in the middle of the night, "What, Colonel?"

"Are you blind? It's a jailbreak. I figure after being awake for two days you might want a change of scenery."

"Oh, right." He swung his legs out to the side and John helped him into the chair, hooking the IV bag to the hook on the chair.

"Gotta love hospital wheelchairs. They have everything."

"Oh yea." Rodney picked up his feet and placed them on the little metal plates so his feet didn't drag on the ground. He grabbed the extra blanket from the foot of the bed. Scrubs weren't exactly warm.

They looked around cautiously at the darkened infirmary and John started to push. "You're the last one in here." Ronon had just been released earlier in that day, and Teyla had been released the day before with John.

"I'd rather not be. Bring me anything?" They spoke below a whisper as they were at the infirmary door.

Rodney felt something fall into his lap and looked at the bottle of beer and a chocolate bar. "Ooo!"

"Shh!" John looked down both sides of the hallway and with the coast clear, he pushed Rodney into the hall toward the transporter.

"Sorry, sorry." Rodney whispered.

They were two feet from the transporter when they heard a cough behind them. They froze.

"Going for a midnight stroll?"

John turned around and saw Carson, "Yep, doc."

"Did I authorize one?"

Rodney turned his head around, "Well, uh… you said get some rest and this seemed," He waved his hand in the air, "like rest."

"Yea, he's not doing the work, I am."

Carson crossed his arms across his pajama shirt, "Only if I come along to keep an eye him."

"Umm… sure." John replied, glad that they weren't being scolded. Once Carson got mad…phew.

The three men stepped in the transporter and came out near a balcony in what would have been a good fifteen minute walk from the infirmary. At this point, Carson noticed what Rodney was feebly trying to hide under his blanket. "What is that?"

"Nothing, nothing."

Carson snatched the bottle from where Rodney rested it on the side of the seat and raised his eyebrow at John, "Colonel?"

They now moved onto the balcony, the warm breeze blowing back their hair.

John smirked, "I have an extra one if you want, doc."

"I can't allow this." Carson clutched the bottle of beer.

"It's just one. Come on, you can't expect me to live on blue jello alone."

The doctor thought for a moment and handed it back to Rodney, "Slow sips, or you'll be paying for it in the morn."

Rodney took it and popped the top, "Yes, mom."

John took two more bottles out of his jacket, handed one to Carson, and sat down against the wall. "How'd you know we were… leaving?"

Carson sat down next to him, "You mean breaking out? Did you forget everything that happens in the infirmary reaches me?"

John eyed the doctor's button-up pajama shirt, matching light-blue pants, and the moccasin-style slippers, "Right. Your spy network."

Rodney snarked, "Spy? What are you, James Bond?"

"No, I'm a one-woman man… One-lieutenant man actually." Carson smiled as he opened his beer.

"Whoa, I so did not need to know anything about that." Rodney replied quickly.

"Stop being so daft."

The banter and talk continued through the warm night, and Rodney marveled at how Carson didn't suspect that he had something else hidden under his blanket. Or, if he did, he wasn't letting on. Either way, he had chocolate.

Xxx Xxx

"Will you let me do this?" Radek snipped at Rodney as he stood by Garin Trelio's console in the infirmary. Rodney had pulled his arm back rather quickly.

"I'm having some issues, give me a second." He snipped back.

Radek crossed his arms and looked down at McKay, "It will be fine. I've spent the last week and a half working on this, since you first came back to Atlantis."

"The last time you used that thing you copied me, so forgive me for my hesitation." Rodney rested his back on the tilted-up infirmary bed. He was due to be released, but they wanted to fuse the two Rodneys while he was still there, just in case.

"Are you having second thoughts?" Carson was on the other side of him, ready to act if anything happened.

Elizabeth looked on the scene, "You don't have to go through with this."

"I am." Rodney stretched his arm out to Radek, "Do it."

Radek made sure Rodney's arm was rested securely on top of the console and stepped back around so he could enter the instructions and read the monitor, "Here we go."

Rodney placed his hand on the panel and relaxed with his eyes closed.

Radek began typing and Carson kept one eye on the equipment he had attached to Rodney, including heart monitor, blood pressure, and EEG, while keeping the other on the scientists' appearance. All were normal.

Rodney could feel energy running up his arm and to his head, warming his skin on the way. It was a strange feeling but it didn't hurt. He twitched his head a little at a new memory – of waking in the backseat of the sub and looking at himself in the front… the feelings of shock and confusion followed. The rest of that day flooded into his mind, all the emotions of depression, anger, and resolution, all up through the talks with Ronon, and of the last one in the infirmary being told about the possibility of what was happening right then.

The feeling stopped.

"That's all." Radek announced as the program ended.

Rodney brought his arm back to his side and opened his eyes, "Huh."

"Rodney? Are you alright?" Carson asked.

"Yes, uh, that was just… interesting."

Elizabeth asked with a twinge of suspicion in her voice, "Did it work?"

"Completely. I remember two perspectives of the same day."

Carson was checking over the readouts from his machines, the EEG showed everything normal. "Looks like I can let you go."

Rodney's face lit up, "Really? I can just…" He motioned to the door, "Going now." He hopped out of bed, already in normal clothes – jeans and a deep green t-shirt since he wasn't on duty until the next day – and left the infirmary.

He needed to get out of there, he had spent way too much time memorizing the ceiling tiles again and watching the people go back and forth again.

He glided through the halls, thinking about how this time he didn't have to be wheeled out of the infirmary since both legs were as good as ever. His chest was still tight and he was warned to take it easy, but he was fine.

He turned the corner and came face to face with a certain German woman. "Dr. McKay, finally free I see."

He was startled and he absentmindedly touched his face where he had been slapped all that time ago, "Yes, not a day too soon."

Alexa looked behind him, "Have you seen Zelenka?"

"Yes, he's in the infirmary but should be moving Trelio's console back down to storage soon. What is it?"

"Oh, it's not work-related at all."

Rodney was a little confused, "No? Then uh… what?"

"I wanted to discuss dinner plans for tonight." She took a step to get around him, "For two." She smiled as she walked away, knowing she just caused him a little shock.

Rodney was speechless. When did he miss this? He was going to need to have a serious talk with his 2IC, was he going crazy? Radek and Stroh? That… that woman? Didn't he know how… how... dangerous she is? How she slaps people? Well… him… and in some views he knew he did deserve it… but still. He wasn't going to pick up the pieces when Radek came to him with… red marks on his face for saying something stupid. Nope, not him.

Then again… Radek did deserve every microsecond of happiness able to be squeezed out of this place…

He kept walking to his quarters, not realizing that maybe, just maybe, he was a little jealous.

He thought the door open and stepped in. The two orange couches were still there, and now he really didn't care that they were orange. They were comfortable as hell and looked soo inviting. He plopped down on one of them and sighed.

It wasn't long until the door chimed.

Like usual, he thought it open.

"Hey, I heard you got out." John leaned against the doorframe.

"Yes, that's obvious. Are you going to stand there all day or are you going to come in?"

John sneered playfully and walked in, "I would have been at the… combining thing but I was training some of the younger troops. How'd that go?" He sat opposite Rodney.

"Well," He pointed to his head, "I have an extra set of memories from the last mission."

"Is that… weird at all?"

"Extremely, but I'll get used to it."

John propped his head up on the arm of the couch, "Did you talk to Ronon yet?"

"Yea, he was by in the infirmary a couple of times."

"You guys cool?"

"Sure."

"Really?"

"It's not something he wants to go through again, but uh… from what I now remember he took it in stride. The last talk the two of them had consisted of Ronon trying to… I guess you could say comfort Copy-me. Me. So if anything, this whole ordeal has been quite the team-bonding experience."

John nodded, "Teyla was amazing."

"I've thanked her for… well keeping me alive."

"She was really worried about you down there. So was I." John sat back and folded his hands.

"I don't plan on a repeat performance."

"Good, because watching you die wasn't a pleasing experience."

"Dying wasn't either."

"Tell me about it." There was a pause as the two men thought and John continued, "I've never told you, but do you know what Ford said to me before we found you after you and Trelio crashed the Jumper?"

Rodney cocked his head, "No…"

"He said he wanted to download Garin into a Wraith's head and shoot him. Then he fired at a target and hit it between the eyes."

"Really? Ford? Huh… wouldn't get that from his recent behavior of trying to kill me."

"He wasn't himself at the time. Enzyme and all."

"I know, I know." Rodney took a breath and wondered if he should take the chance… there were on the subject sort of… "I've never told you either… there was a point when Garin had control that… I… well… I didn't want it to go on. If I would have had… I saw myself in Copy-Me, and I remembered where I was, how I hid most of it."

"Oh man, have you told Heightmeyer?"

"No, just you. I thought I just… needed to unbury that I guess."

"You're past that point, past the pain of it."

Rodney snipped back, "Life is pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something." He paused, "But it was odd, to not want to live, even for that moment? It's me - the spokesman for survival instincts."

"It was only for that little while. It's nothing to be ashamed of, especially under the circumstances and that now you feel like you normally do."

"Yep, life is good. Good to know that the city can survive Wraith sabotage without us."

"Yeah, there are good people here."

"Lorne might have a bit of a hero-complex, naming the Wraith Jim? After you named the other ones Steve and Bob?"

With a touch of defiance in his voice, but mostly light-hearted, John responded, "No he doesn't, he was just following the established protocol."

"I'm sure that's not standard."

"Okay, then unofficial protocol."

"I thought so." Rodney rubbed his chest, the bandage still attached. He looked down at the arm of the couch, "Hey, you never told me who helped you get these here, other than Hermiod. There had to be someone on Earth since you haven't been back there for while."

John grinned, "I'll never tell."

"Oh come on. That isn't fair!"

"I keep my secrets."

"Can't you give me a hint?"

"No."

"Just a-"

"No."

"But-"

"No, McKay."

Rodney glared at John, "Fine. One of these days, Colonel, one of these days."

"Just think of them as a gift."

"From what? The tooth-fairy?"

"No, from a friend with connections."

Rodney consented, "Be that way."

John moved the conversation on, "So, when are you going to be cleared for off-world?"

"Carson said in a week. I go back to work in the lab tomorrow."

"So no more Zelenka as defacto Chief Scientist?"

"Nope. He's been doing a good job though. Just don't tell him that."

John laughed, "He's been getting pretty cozy with Stroh."

"Yea…" Rodney shifted position on the couch.

John noticed. "What's your problem with her?"

Rodney crossed his arms, "I don't have a problem."

"I can tell. What is it? Did she stand you up once?"

"Worse. Slapped me."

John snorted, "When? What did you do?"

"At the SGC when we went back after the siege. And I didn't do anything." He kept his eyes off the Colonel.

"You had to do something."

Rodney mumbled, "I uh… insulted her work."

"Oh… that explains it."

The two men spent the rest of the day joking around about practically everything, glad that the ordeal at the bottom of the ocean was officially over.

Xxx Xxx

General Hank Landry looked up from his desk to see Chief Master Sergeant Harriman walk in, papers in hand.

"The mail, sir."

"Thanks, Walter." He took the stack, "Anything exciting?"

"Since when is mail exciting, sir?"

"You have a point."

After Walter left, Hank began opening the envelopes. Everything was the normal things, more paperwork to be filed, more requests to be transferred to the SGC from R&D and vice versa. But, one was different. He looked at the return address questionably and opened it. After making sure he was reading it right, he picked up the phone and punched in a long-distance phone number.

It was picked up quickly and General Landry responded, "Jack?... yes it's Hank… … too long… … What was that?... … I managed to pry the drawer open… just some things George left. I sent them to him… … No! Nothing like that."

Hank picked up the letter, "The reason I'm calling is that I received a bill… yes a bill … I have a feeling you can shed some light on it… why? Because it's from D.C. … … I don't know why I got a bill from D.C., why do you think I called you?... it's addressed to m- wait, no, It's addressed to you, sorry for opening it I just assumed… … from a custom furniture store… … two orange couches… … I said orange."

"Fifteen-hundred per couch… … Jack, I know you had something to do with this being sent here… … call it intuition… … This isn't payback for beating you in every game of chess we've played is it? … … Yes, getting a three-thousand dollar bill is very funny." The General tapped his fingers on his desk.

"I'll send it to you… … Alright… … If this happens again… … you're right, it won't… You do know with your dealing with… … I do too… … Bye." Hank hung up the phone with a smile and got back to work, the little diversion over with.

-

General O'Neill grinned to himself. It was always good to keep Hank on his toes. The commander of the SGC had to be at all times, and a break from the tedium was good once in awhile. He knew that.

He started whistling, eager to get word from Lt. Col. Sheppard the next time Atlantis dialed in. Man, did John owe him one. How did someone max out their credit cards when they were stationed at McMurdoh for crying out loud?

He had to admit, when he got the message from Sheppard about why he wanted to get back at McKay, he laughed so hard imagining the man bald his new staff thought he was having a fit. He was always one to help a fellow man in need, and being able to twist it to give Hank a laugh was just a benefit.

FIN


A/N: That was it. I hope I wrapped up things sufficiently, but if you're wondering what the heck Rodney's subconscious was talking about, you'll find out in my next multi-chaptered story Secrets from the Past (fififolle is helping with that one). I know I'm evil, I just couldn't resist, it seemed so natural to put that in. It will be a little awhile until that one is out though. Be patient. See you all then!

For the last time, click the little button down left. Thanks for sticking with me!