Title: Familiar Faces
Disclaimers: I certainly wouldn't mind owning Stargate Atlantis or it's characters, but alas, I do not.
Author's Notes: Thanks to Tina for betaing this fic. )
Rodney glanced up from the computer console to see Lieutenant Marina Russo glaring at him, arms crossed. "I thought we were supposed to meet for dinner an hour ago."
"Sorry, Marina," Rodney said, looking back at the console. He continued to speak to her as he typed away. "I found the most amazing subroutine and I just had to explore it. You understand, right?"
She shook her head, but a grin formed on her face. "Trying to keep you from a computer console is like trying to tell someone not to breathe. Don't you want to take a break, though?"
"I still can't figure out what the subroutine does so a break would be great. Food in my stomach sounds like the perfect way to help jump start my brain cells." He walked around to her and took her hand in his. "Of course, spending time with you would jump start anyone's brain cells."
"Haha. Let's go. I'm starving."
Rodney smiled. "A woman after my own heart. Lead on."
The pair arrived in the mess hall, grabbed some food, and sat down at a table outside. Marina absolutely loved Atlantis. They'd only been there for about a week, but it had been one amazing week.
"Rodney, there's something I need to tell you." He nodded for her to continue. "We've known each other for a few months. It's about Major Sheppard... I used to date him."
Rodney took a deep breath. Guys like Sheppard always got the girl. Would she leave him once Sheppard remembered her? No, it's not like they could really get together. All those Air Force regulations.
"Are you all right?" Marina asked, taking his hand. "Rodney, if you think I'm going to leave you for Major Sheppard, you're wrong. Yes, we were together at one time, but we had a... misunderstanding of sorts a long time ago."
His ears perked up at this. "What did he do?"
"My Father is a lawyer and at one point, John worked as an accountant for his firm. He was caught embezzling money. My Father liked him and didn't want him to be put in jail for the rest of his life. So, he made John join the Air Force. I, however, was not happy about it at all and I left him."
Marina didn't add that two years later, she learned the evidence against John Sheppard had been created by her father. It had hurt her deeply that he would do something like that to the man she loved. She just didn't want to reveal that particular part of the story. At least, not yet.
Rodney couldn't believe what he was hearing. He saw that Marina was silently picking at her food. He really needed to discuss this with a certain Air Force Major.
"Lieutenant Ford," Dr. Weir said with a nod. "How are you feeling?"
"For a guy who fell down a flight of stairs and broke his ankle slightly embarrassed."
She smiled. "I'm just glad you're all right."
Sheppard entered the infirmary. "Those science guys should really watch where they put their packs," he said tersely. "Ford could have been seriously injured."
"I've already reprimanded the responsible parties, Major. Have you found someone to take Lieutenant Ford's place on your next mission?"
He nodded. "Yeah. Lieutenant Marina Russo. I just have to let her know."
"Do you know Lieutenant Russo?"
"I do. We grew up together. She's always looking out for everyone. She's actually the reason I went into the Air Force."
Elizabeth eyed him skeptically. "Are you certain you want her accompanying you?"
"Very well, Major. I trust your judgement. Assemble your team. You leave in 20 minutes," she replied. "Get well soon, Lieutenant," she said, then left the infirmary.
"I trust her, I just don't know if she trusts me," he muttered.
"Sir?" Ford said. Sheppard looked over at him. "I've spoken to Lieutenant Russo. She never mentioned knowing you."
He sighed. "That's because the last time we saw each other, she was breaking up with me."
"So what do you guys think?" Sheppard asked as they headed back to the Gate. "Does this look like a good choice for our Alpha site?"
Teyla nodded. "I believe it is, Major. There are no signs of civilization or the Wraith."
"I agree," Marina replied.
Rodney looked up from the Atlantean technology his eyes were practically glued to. "Um... we have a problem."
Before he could say more, weapons fire erupted all around them. "What the hell?" Sheppard muttered. "Lieutenant, dial it up!"
"Yes, Sir!" Marina exclaimed, rushing to the DHD. She ducked down behind it when a shot fired too close for comfort.
Rodney joined her. "Stay down and fire at them. You have better aim than I do," he said, "I'll dial it!"
"Be careful," she said to him, then began firing her P-90.
Rodney wasn't even paying attention as he punched in his IDC code. But suddenly, he found himself on the ground, Marina lying unconscious next to him. "Marina!" he cried out. "Major, let's get out of here."
Sheppard nodded, pushing Teyla towards the event horizon. "Atlantis, this is Sheppard, we're coming in hot! Have a med team standing by!"
"Understood, Major!" Came Dr. Weir's voice.
As soon as their team arrived in the Gateroom, the medical team got to work. "Let's get her to the infirmary, stat," Beckett exclaimed. He knelt next to Rodney. "Dr. McKay, you'll have to let go of her hand. We'll take good care of her, I promise!"
"Yeah, I know."
Sheppard placed a hand on his friend's shoulder as they watched her being wheeled away. "Go ahead with them, Rodney. I'll debrief Dr. Weir."
"Thanks!" he replied, shooting a grateful smile at him.
"Major, what happened?"
"Oh," he replied, "the usual. It seems like everyone hides when the M.A.L.P. shows up, but as soon as we arrive, all hell breaks loose."
She nodded in understanding. There were very few worlds in the Pegasus Galaxy that were willing to help out. "I take it Lieutenant Russo was hit by their weapons fire?"
"Yeah. McKay was dialing the Gate and she was covering. He would have been shot if she hadn't jumped in front of him."
"Thank you. I'll talk to Rodney downstairs. I'm sure you would like to get cleaned up and check in with Dr. Beckett."
"Thanks," he replied, turning to leave.
"John!" Elizabeth put her hand on his shoulder and he looked at her. "Are you all right? I mean, you know her, don't you?"
"I did... a long time ago."
John found his friend sitting next to Marina's bedside. He left him there to find Dr. Beckett, who was sitting in front of a computer console in his office. "Major," he said with a nod.
"How is she?"
His face was grim. "Not well. This weapon attacked her nervous system. It essentially fused all her neurons."
John took a deep breath. "I know you're doing all you can, Carson. Is she conscious?"
"Barely." Dr. Beckett noticed a flicker of something in John's eyes. "Is something wrong, Major? How well do you know Marina?"
"It's a long story, Doc. Maybe I'll tell it to you sometime, but not right now."
Dr. Beckett nodded. "Fair enough. Perhaps you can get Rodney to move? He hasn't moved since your team returned."
Rodney didn't turn when he heard someone come up beside him. John was surprised his friend acknowledged him, though. "How do you know her?"
That wasn't something he was expecting. "That's a long story, Rodney."
"I need to go for a walk anyway. Clear my head. Carson said he'll contact me. I want to know about the two of you."
John nodded slowly. "All right, but you have to take a shower first," he replied. "You stink!"
"I met Marina when I was 20. We were in most of the same classes in college."
"Wait a minute," Rodney interrupted, "She took a ton of advanced physics courses."
"As I said, we were in most of the same classes."
"Right, go on."
John took a deep breath. "I swore I would never tell a soul about this..."
"Jonathan Sheppard, I never thought you would stoop so low."
Excuse me?" John stared at Wayne Russo in confusion. What had he done wrong this time?
Wayne ignored his genuine look. "Don't play dumb with me, Sheppard. You stole from this company! You stole from my daughter!"
"I didn't steal anything. I really have no clue what you're talking about!"
Russo held up a stack of papers. "This is my proof! I don't want to hear any denials because I know how much you've stolen from me!"
"Now hang on!"
But Russo didn't reply. He hit his intercom button. "Rose, call the police and Marina. Get them here immediately."
"Right away, Sir!"
"Sit down, John. We're going to be here for awhile."
John sat down with a sigh. He really wanted to take a look at Russo's proof. Whatever it was, it must have been very convincing. John had noticed the books were off. In fact, he had been in the middle of figuring out what had gone wrong when he was called to Russo's office.
He loosened his tie and leaned back in the chair. Every so often, he would glance up at Russo. The man was ignoring him now. However, John knew not to press his luck either so he remained where he was.
"Daddy!" Marina exclaimed, rushing into the office. "What's going on? Rose said it was urgent!" She was so concerned for her father that she didn't even notice John sitting there. "I know that look, Daddy. You want to tell me something, but you don't know how I'll react to it so you're being cautious."
Russo nodded. "I am, Marina." He looked at John. "Why don't you tell her why she's here?"
"John?" she asked. Marina was getting upset. Something huge happened and her father and John were acting so… frosty towards each other.
He stood up. "I really think you should tell her. After all, it's your lie."
"John, you are skating on thin ice!"
"Stop it!" The two men stared at Marina in shock. "You are both acting like children! Daddy, please tell me what happened."
Russo put a protective arm around his daughter. "Sweetheart, John has been embezzling from the company."
Tears formed in her eyes. "John…?"
"Marina, I swear I didn't! I would never do that your father. Please believe me! You guys are like family to me!"
Marina seemed torn as to who to believe. That is, until her father showed her the evidence. Her voice became hard and she glared at him. "John, I can never trust you again. I'm sorry, but we have nothing more to say to each other."
"She just turned and left. When the police arrived, I thought I was going to be arrested, but Russo knew those guys and offered me another solution. Go to jail for so many years or go into the Air Force to teach me some discipline. Obviously, I chose the latter."
Rodney could not believe what he just heard. "That is… wow."
"A speechless McKay. I never thought I'd see it."
"Yet you still trusted her to come with us."
John nodded. "If I hadn't…"
Rodney shuddered just thinking about it. Not that he wanted Marina to… He was just glad it wasn't him. He sighed. Sometimes (not often), he really hated himself!
Rodney sank into the chair next to Marina's bed. He was still trying to wrap his brain around what Sheppard just told him. The minute he took her hand in his, Marina stirred. Rodney jumped up from his chair in surprise. "Marina. Can you hear me? It's Rodney!"
Dr. Beckett came from his office after noticing his monitors going off. "Rodney, could you please step aside so I may examine her."
The young doctor's expression looked grim after he finished examining Marina. She smiled sadly at him. "It's bad, isn't it? It's taking my breath away as I speak."
He nodded. "I'm afraid so, Marina. There's not much else I can do, love."
"It's all right, Carson. I know you tried everything in your power to help me. The weapon's energy was just too strong."
"What?" Rodney's voice had finally come back to them after listening to their exchange. "What are you talking about? You're going to pull through this, Marina! You have to! We're going to go back to the planet and find a way to save you!"
"Rodney," Beckett began.
Marina took his hand in hers. "Carson, if you would excuse us."
When the doctor was out of earshot, Marina looked Rodney in the eyes. "I understand you're upset; Rodney, but you can't say things like that in front of Carson. He's upset enough as it is even though there's nothing else to be done. Besides, I highly doubt those hostile people will offer us anything but more weapon's fire."
"I-I know. I promise I'll apologize to him. It's just… God, Marina, I think I love you!"
Marina smiled. "I love you too, Rodney. I'm sorry about this, but I want you to know that I wouldn't change this for anything in the world. I saved you and you are the one Atlantis needs the most."
"Marina…" She pulled him close and kissed him deeply on the lips. When they finally pulled apart, he smiled back. "Thanks."
"I guess we know how to shut Rodney McKay up."
"Would you get Major Sheppard for me? I need to speak with him."
Rodney looked worried. "Are you going to tell him how to shut me up?"
She laughed. "Of course not... Well, maybe."
Marina was typing something in her laptop when she saw a shadow cast over her. She looked up and smiled. "Hi," she said.
He nodded. "Rodney said you wanted to see me."
"Yeah," Marina replied, closing the laptop. "Dr. Beckett says I don't have much time. In fact, I can…"
"Marina!" John said, worriedly as took her hand. She was squeezing it tightly, but he could tell that her pain was far worse than his.
"I'm fine. I just… need to let this… pass…" When it did, Marina took a deep breath and opened her eyes. She could see the love John had for her. "I'm sorry."
"No, John, please. I need to talk to you about this."
"Okay. I'm listening," he told her, taking a seat.
"When my Father first told me you had embezzled money, I was skeptical. That is, until I saw the overwhelming evidence."
"What evidence was that, by the way? I never saw it."
Marina looked almost embarrassed. "I can't believe I fell for it, John. Whoever forged it was an excellent accountant. You would have figured it out if they let you see it. I didn't discover the truth until two years later. When you were already overseas. Well, by then you were hard to get a hold of."
"I can see why you had trouble contacting me. After that little adventure, I was stationed at the McMurdo Base."
"When I found out that you were coming to Atlantis with us, I was hoping to find you and tell you what I discovered. However, you were always so busy and I could never get near you." She laughed. "I didn't even think you knew I was here."
John smiled sadly. "Yeah, I knew you were here. I just didn't think you would want to see me so I stayed away. However, when Lieutenant Ford was injured, I knew there was only one person who I trusted with my team."
This time the pain was getting worse and Marina had tears streaming down her face. "Doc!"
Carson ran over to his patient, Rodney hot on his heels. "Major, if you please."
John stepped aside to let the doctor do his job. He glanced back at Rodney. His friend's face was as white as a sheet. "Rodney, go to her. She's going to need you."
"I... what? What about you?"
"It's all right. We've reached an understanding. Go to her."
Rodney went to the opposite side of Carson and took Marina's hand. He watched as pain medication was administered to her. When Carson was finished, he gave John a look and the pair left them alone.
Marina opened her eyes and smiled. "Don't forget me, Rodney."
"Never!" he replied vehemently. He leaned over and kissed her softly on the lips, feeling Marina's last breath on his cheek. "I love you," Rodney whispered.
The last thing Elizabeth Weir wanted to do was give a eulogy at a funeral so soon to coming to Atlantis. She didn't even know Lieutenant Russo. Elizabeth looked up from her laptop when she realized someone was watching her.
"You should let Dr. McKay say a few words."
"Major," she said. "Have a seat. What about you?"
"Don't worry about me. Dr. McKay knew her better than I did. And I really think he needs to do this."
She nodded. "Very well. Have you seen him lately?"
"He's locked up in his lab. He won't let anyone in. I, however, know how to break him out, despite what people might think about me."
"I take away everything I ever said," Elizabeth replied with a smirk.
Twenty minutes later, John was standing in front of Rodney's office with Zelenka. "I'm sure you can do this."
The Czech sighed. "This is Rodney McKay we're talking about, Major. There's no way anyone could figure out how to unlock this door!"
Before John could respond, it opened. Standing in front of them was Rodney, taking a bite into a sandwich. "It's called knocking."
The two men stared at one another. "Thanks anyway," John replied. Zelenka shrugged and walked away, muttering something in Czeck. "Rodney, what are you doing?"
John followed him into the room and sat down. "I can see that."
"Are you hear to make certain I'm alive and not wasting away in the corner of the room?"
"Something like that. Seriously, Rodney, how are you doing?"
He took a deep breath and sat across from his friend. "I kept trying to detach myself from the whole thing, but that's not right. Marina deserved so much more than that. I loved her very much."
"Yeah," John replied with a smile. "She had that effect on people. So easy to care for."
Rodney nodded. "What about you?"
"I'm doing all right. I haven't even seen her in years. I'm glad I got to talk to her before, though. " John glanced down at the notes Rodney had made. He didn't have the heart to tell the astrophysicist that he got an equation wrong. Rodney was smart, he'd figure it out. "Dr. Weir was wondering if you'd like to say a few words on Marina's behalf."
"Really? I mean, should I?"
"Yeah. You should."
"...Dr. McKay, would you like to say a few words?" Elizabeth asked.
Rodney nodded and walked up to the top of the stairs in the Gateroom. Elizabeth gave him a hug and warm smile. "Thanks," he whispered to her.
He stood still at the top of the stairs. All eyes were on him. He had wanted to make this speech good. He hoped there wouldn't be any snickers in the crowd. He wasn't really good at this and hated wearing his heart on his sleeve.
"Marina Ann Russo. It's always been hard to find words for what I think about her. I suppose I could begin by saying that I think that Marina Russo understood me better than just about anyone else in the world. She and I understood each other. Though on the outside, we were very different people; on the inside, we were remarkably similar. Similar enough that often we didn't need words to express what we were feeling or thinking to each other."