Summary: Rodney knows a British scientist transferred to Atlantis. She has to explain to him where she disappeared to years ago, and how it involves other Brits of the Expedition. Nanotech, conspiracy theories, cover ups, Mystery, Suspense.
Placement: Post Grace Under Pressure, pre The Tower. In SG:1 timeline, post Ripple Effect, pre Stronghold. Spoilers will pop up, but mostly for GUP, Hot Zone, and The Siege
Rating: Teen, like always.
Series: Follows my Phantom Thoughts and its sequel Return of the Orange Couches, but this isn't a sequel as much as a continuation of the series timeline and they will be referenced. I gave a hint of this fic's plot in the last chapter of Return if you all remember. Also, Got To Get Out Of This City by fififolle for Carson's history and other British things and people.
Characters: Rodney McKay, Cora Matthews, Carson Beckett, John Sheppard, Radek Zelenka, Irene Costello. Others make appearances.
Disclaimers: SGA is not mine, the Stargate Universe is owned by those viciously lucky people.
: Cora Matthews, Irene Costello (first introduced in Return), George Gilbertson, and the story are mine.
: A couple parts have been contributed by fififolle.
: Dr. Alexa Stroh is the German scientist from Duet I named and shipped with Zelenka in Return. Sgt. Bryan Grimault is that young Canadian that's now doing Peter Grodin's job (They still didn't give him a name! Sheesh.)
A/Ns: I'm trying something new to me with the format of this one. It will be told through present-day happenings in Atlantis like usual, but there will be flashbacks. Those will always be in italics and well noted so it won't be confusing.
Later on, we'll be visiting Earth in the present-day a little. Not the fic's main cast though, you'll see.
Secrets from the Past
Beta-d by fififolle
(Who this was developed with and brutally edited by)
Chapter 1- Surprise
Rodney McKay grumbled as he headed off to the Gateroom at 1300 hours, about anyways. He had to high-tail it or face the wrath of one Dr. Elizabeth Weir, something he did not want to face again. That woman could get mad and you'd better stay out of her way when she did.
He couldn't understand why he of all people had to be down there at a little 'Welcome to Atlantis' meet-and-greet. It really didn't have anything to do with him. Yes, the new woman did have a PhD in Electrical Engineering and Nanotechnology, a Masters in Theoretical Physics, she teaches at Cambridge, and yes she got to work side by side with Dr. Stephen Hawking, but that was no big deal.
Rodney sighed, who was he kidding? Maybe he was a tiny, itty-bitty bit jealous of Dr. Matthews.
He continued to walk through the halls wondering why Carson wasn't going to be there. She was going to be working with him after all on understanding more about the nanovirus that could have killed most of Atlantis' population. Though she could, possibly, be quite a bit of help in the Engineering and Physics departments. Perhaps that's why Elizabeth wanted him there…
He walked into the lower level of the Gateroom to find the Expedition leader there, tapping her foot ever so slightly.
"Rodney. Good to see you finally made it." She said diplomatically.
Crap. She didn't look happy. "Yeah, well, I got caught up a little."
"Since when are you not caught up in something?" She teased with the slightest hint of a smile.
"Good point." He turned his attention to the area in front of the Stargate, "So when is this woman due to be beamed over?"
"Any moment." She looked over at him, "Be nice to this one, the British Government requested she be on board the Daedalus' next trip out here."
"I don't get that, what's so special about her that any other scientist here doesn't have?"
"Didn't you read the file?"
"I skimmed through it." Which was half the truth. He only looked at the credentials.
"Did anyone else here finish their PhD in less than two years after their Masters?"
Rodney grumbled, "I finished a double in three."
Elizabeth shook her head slightly in amusement at his antics as a white glow of light appeared in front of them, materializing into the doctor. She stood about an inch or two shorter than Elizabeth and so was shorter than Rodney. Her sandy-blonde hair rested lightly on her shoulders, layered and styled conservatively but elegantly, and her green eyes shown out. She had avoided the Expedition-issued uniforms and dressed in black slacks and a lilac blouse with a matching black blazer.
"Dr. Matthews," Elizabeth held out her hand which was promptly taken, "I'm Dr. Weir and this is Dr. McKay."
The other woman responded politely while keeping an eye on Rodney who was making a remarkable impression of a deer caught in headlights, "I am honoured to be met by you in person, Dr Weir. I didn't expect to meet you so soon."
"I always meet every new member." She looked at the floor around her, "Did you bring any luggage?"
"Hermiod was kind enough to delay sending it until he knew the coordinates of my quarters."
Elizabeth didn't fail to notice how the woman in front of her kept looking over to Rodney with a look of excitement … fear and something else on her face, but she hid it well. Rodney on the other hand had just about every feeling Elizabeth could imagine mixed on his features.
Dr. Matthews turned her attention to McKay, knowing she had to address him at some point and he didn't look as if he was going to break the ice. So despite her head doing the freestyle and her stomach doing the butterfly, she managed to verbalize a few words while hiding the quivering in her voice, "Hello, Rodney."
He opened his mouth to speak, closed it again, and finally got out a quiet, "Cora?" The moment he saw her, thousands of memories began to flood his brain, and he stared at her in disbelief.
Cora gave a sheepish smile as Elizabeth questioned, "You two know each other?"
The other woman nodded, "From graduate school at MIT." She looked directly into Rodney's eyes, "Correct?"
He startled out a response, "Oh, right. Yes. Uh… excuse us." He reached out for Cora's arm and mumbled to Elizabeth something about seeing her later and dragged Cora away. Cora turned her head around and called out, "It was nice to meet you Dr. Weir."
Elizabeth watched as Rodney released what looked like a gentle grip and walked quickly, Cora keeping in step behind him. "Huh." There was definitely a fact or two they weren't telling her.
Rodney walked with his hands in his pockets without saying a word until he opened a door to what he knew was an empty multi-purpose lab. He turned to face Cora and once he saw she was in the room, he thought the door closed and locked it. There were three distinct urges he had at that time – to run, to scream, and to wrap his arms around her in a tight embrace. He fought all of them, mostly.
"What the hell is this? Hmm? Showing up here out of thin air! Literally! In another galaxy? And what's with this 'Matthews' crap, since when did you change your name? You just disappear one day and appear eleven years later? How can you do that! God, I don't… I don't even… just… what the hell!"
Cora let him go on a mini-tirade and once it seemed he was finished, tried to remain calm or risk the first time they talked in years escalating into a full-blown fight, "I'm sorry, but I can't tell you much, only that I'm here now."
"Well that's obvious!"
"Rodney-" She reached out her hand to provide some comfort, but he twisted away and cut her off.
"Damn it!" He kicked the wall, "You just had to come here, everything was fine. As fine as it could be with the Wraith wanting to kill us all so they can get to Earth, but still! And now… now you…" He took a quick breath, "Just stay away from me and have Carson deal with you." With that, Rodney pushed his way out of the door he thought open.
Rodney practically flew down the hall, with memories long forgotten plaguing him.
"Watch your side, sir, or succumb to my sword."
"I think not, good knight." Rodney twisted to avoid a blow and swung his weapon around to clash with his foe's. The sound of metal upon metal clanged throughout the large cool room.
With a sly grin, his opponent moved his own weapon away from Rodney's in a swirling motion, "You will never defeat the Black Knight! I'm invulnerable!"
"Oh come on, George! Does Arthur, King of the Britains ring a bell?" Rodney kept his weapon held out in a dueling stance.
George lowered his own and commented, "The Black Knight would have bit his legs off if he had the courage to stay."
With a grin of his own Rodney lunged forward, "Ha!" and stabbed the other young man's side. "Not so invulnerable, eh?"
George gripped his side in mock pain, "It's only a flesh wound." He swung at Rodney from his elbow for speed, only to be blocked. He continued attacking and advancing as Rodney defended himself and was backed into a lab table.
Seeing his position, Rodney ducked to the right, and attacked from the side, "You shall never back me into a corner." He quipped.
George blocked, "Hast thou forgotten the last match so soon?"
"You cheated!" Rodney brought his weapon down on George's.
"I did not!"
Another clash of metal.
The next clang also echoed through the lab.
"Did not!" George protested as he was retreating from Rodney's blows.
"I would say 'yes' if I were you."
Both men froze and looked to the doorway of the lab, where they were supposed to be conducting research at the sound of a… British woman's voice.
She looked around the good-sized lab; it contained six long lab tables made of black countertops and light wood cabinets. Each had two separate sinks and hook-ups for gas. The rest of the room was rimmed with a counter and other cabinets. In each corner was a 'hood' for more dangerous and odorous chemicals and for other uses. On the front counter, away from the duel was an elaborate set-up of metallic devices, which she could only assume was the property of the two clowns in front of her. One young man looked a little familiar… the same mop of light-brown hair and somewhat thin build.
She looked at Rodney, "You're the one who ran into me in the hallway earlier."
Rodney lowered his 'weapon,' "You ran into me."
George arched his eyebrow and continued in the game, "You injured a maiden? Shame on you sir!"
Rodney quickly fell back into the way of talk, "I did nothing of the sort! I asked if she was in need of aid."
She furrowed her eyebrows a tad at the way they were speaking, on purpose, and were those rod stands they were using as swords? "I replied I was fine and he snipped at me 'I didn't ask how you were.' "
George smiled at an idea, "I will have to defend my lady's honour." He took a fighting stance, holding the piece of lab equipment out to imitate a sword, "Prepare thyself."
Rodney protested, "No honour was imposed upon!"
"I am no one's lady." She eyed and picked up a rod stand from the nearest counter, "I can protect myself."
"But thou art a fair maiden, surely you do not know how to duel." George said as he looked over at the young woman who was now swinging the 'weapon' around like a real sword. "I suppose it's a possibility."
It was a game after all, so she played along, "I come from a long line of knights in the King's service."
George stepped aside and bowed, "It is your duel then."
Rodney objected, "But, I don't think-"
The woman interrupted him, "Let's first introduce ourselves." She placed her hand on her chest, "Cora Neville."
He grinned, "Rodney McKay."
"George Gilbertson." He raised his hand slightly from his out-of-the-way position.
Cora brushed her just-above-the-shoulder length auburn hair behind her ear and let a smile play on her lips, "The Department Head told me you two are supposed to be among the brightest and most serious of the grad students."
George drawled, "We are."
Cora snorted and kept smiling as she took a fighting stance in front of Rodney, "Ready?"
Rodney matched her attack pose, "Always."
He moved down the hall to his private lab, reminiscing about how that little duel of theirs ended, with Cora backed into a corner defeated, but the three of them laughing. Thinking about that day, about his antics with his best friend and roommate and of meeting her should have elicited happy emotions and nostalgia, sending him grinning down the hallway, but it didn't. There was too much associated with that one section of his mind where the memory came from, and he was determined to shove it all back in. Screw the past, a lot of good that did him. A scowl began to be permanently fixed on his face as the people he passed skirted out of his way.
The door to his lab opened and then closed behind him. Sealing himself in seemed like a good thing to do, block the world out. Focus on work. Work good, past bad. Ignore her, she doesn't exist. George doesn't exist. Past doesn't exist, it brought too much pain with it.
He sat down at his cluttered desk, looking at all the mechanical devices from Earth contrasting with the material of the Ancient technologies littered among them. It was chaos to anyone else's eyes, but arranged in a perfect order in Rodney's world. Order. Order was good, nothing complicated. Like Cora…
Damn it. Past bad. Work good.
He opened his laptop and set back to work, blocking glimpses of long-dead events from protruding into his mind.
After composing herself when Rodney had bolted away from her, Cora had taken a survey of the room. It was beautiful in an alien sort of way. Alien. It hit her again that she was in a city built by aliens, something she didn't know existed until roughly a month ago. It looked like a lab, with some tables in an Ancient style amidst metallic ones that were obviously from Earth. A column of water bubbled on the far wall, light emanating from it. The walls were a type of red with geometric figures of green bordered out in a seemingly random pattern. All the tables had equipment on them, it being a common lab.
She had left the room and headed back to the Gateroom, immediately running up the stairs and talking with a young military man, Sgt. Grimault. He was kind enough to point her in the direction of her room and to contact Hermiod with the coordinates after giving her a headset and instructions how to use it.
Now she was busying herself with her luggage, attempting to focus on where to put everything, but she was failing as of now. Her room had a small foyer-type area large enough for a couch or two and a table. Beyond was the small kitchen area, and to the left the bedroom attached to a bathroom could be found. She had been contacted with the status of her quarters wondering if she would rather have one on the smaller side if it meant it had a private balcony. She didn't have to think about it.
As she opened the balcony door, she heard a chiming noise, followed by a strange chirp. She looked around her bedroom, not knowing what it was. Then immediately she heard was a voice echoing from the headset she had put on the bedside table.
She hastily picked it up as she realized the sounds must be the Ancient's version of a doorbell. As she walked, she put it on. Clicking the side she said, "Hello?"
"Open your door already."
She smiled at the voice and thought the door open; thankful she didn't need gene therapy since she was one of the lucky ones to be born with the ATA gene.
"Dr. Irene Costello, I presume." Cora crossed her arms in mock annoyance.
"Dr. Cora Matthews." The woman standing outside her door replied in the same manner, her brown hair pulled into a loose ponytail.
After a moment smiles spread on their faces along with short laughs and they embraced.
"I can't believe you're actually here." Irene commented as they separated.
"That's my feeling. Please, come in." Cora stepped back into the foyer/living room to make space.
"Stuart finally coerced you into coming. I couldn't believe it when word was sent."
"Believe me, it didn't take much convincing." She looked around the empty room, "Sorry, I don't have a place to sit down in here quite yet."
"No worries. I'll just…" She looked beyond the room, "Mind if I sit on the bed while you unpack your things?"
Cora gave her best friend a –are you kidding? - look, "Of course not. I haven't really started."
They began to move as Irene asked, "What did he say to get your thick skull to listen to him this time?"
"He came to my house, stood in my front door so I couldn't close it, and started explaining about nanotechnology that they needed someone with specific expertise to study."
"Got you completely, hmm?" Irene sat down on the edge of the bare mattress.
"Yes." She sighed as she opened a drawer in the dresser.
Irene's senses started going off looking at Cora's profile, "There was something else, wasn't there?"
"I… well…" She turned to the suitcase on the bed, "it's Rodney."
Irene bobbed her head, "What about Dr. McKay? He's not bothering you already is he? I'll let you in on something, Dr. Alexa Stroh has quite the power over him, strange really, he seems afraid of her. So if you asked her nicely, she might-"
Cora cut her off as she pulled out a stack of clothes from the suitcase, "I mean that he's Rodney."
Irene's eyes widened, "Rodney… as in your Rodney? Didn't you assume that he's dead?"
"He's the very same one."
"Bloody hell Cora! Do you know he's been here for over a year? That he was in Antarctica as well?"
"I did as of a month ago." She put the stack gently in the drawer, pressed up against the side.
"So if you just would have let Stuart tell you about the Stargate Operation years ago, you would have been able to… reconnect?"
She sighed, "Yes."
"Oh my word. If I would have known I would have sent you a message immediately."
Cora shook her head as she continued to unpack, "There was no way for you to know he is one-and-the-same."
"If you would have, I don't know, told us his surname…" Irene moved her hand in a small vertical circle.
"Oh, shush you."
"Have you seen him?"
Cora responded hiding her emotions, "He was there when I was transported to the Gateroom."
"How'd he take you showing up like this? Or did you send him a message before?"
"I believe saying that he kicked the wall sums it up." She closed the now full drawer, "He had no idea I was coming."
"No message? Why not? That might have been easier to take."
"And what would I say?" Cora turned to her friend and placed her hand on her hip, " 'Sorry I sent no word for eleven years, but I'm back and I was wondering if you would forgive me?' That's not something to be said in an email."
"Something would have been better than nothing. Your name is even different than when he knew you, Matthews for heaven's sake. He's going to want an explanation."
"It's not as if I'm allowed to tell him anything at all. There are less than a dozen people alive in two galaxies that have full disclosure to precisely what I would have to tell him for him to understand."
Irene made her point as her eyes followed Cora around the room, "You have to at least give him something to go on, even if it's only that you were involved with our government and it is completely classified."
"That would send him digging! I can't have that." Cora set down a picture frame on the desk, looking at the moment depicted.
"True enough, but there's nowhere to dig. Everything was destroyed, except what's in our heads. Speaking of which, I assume you're going to be using some of that knowledge in your work here?"
Cora traced the edge of the frame with her fingertips, "How could I not? It's a nanovirus."
Irene shivered, "You could not get me near that."
"That's the difference between you and me. I was fascinated by it while you shied away." She moved from the picture.
"I didn't shy away from government operations."
Cora sighed and looked back at the picture, of the three Brits smiling wildly at a party, "Neither did Peter."
Rodney stopped typing in frustration, he couldn't concentrate on work. His mind was reeling at the sight of Cora Matthews. He had to know a few things - what happened to send her packing with precious little (as he remembered) without telling him and where she had been during all those years. It wasn't much to ask. He had a right to know. Immediately he switched the screen on his laptop to the Atlantis Directory, if he was going to confront her he had to know where her quarters were.
It took about twenty seconds before he was out the door.
A/N: Updates will be weekly (the semester has begun...), I don't not finish a fic, no worries now.
Click down left like always, please.