Pinch Hitting for the Atlantis Basics Ficathon. This story is for Alexa. She'd wanted the following: "ancient device does something bizarrely inexplicable yet terribly amusing, hopefully involving as many of the characters on the show as possible." This started out amusing, then got warped. What could I do? It wanted to go that way! And warped does seem to be my default setting.


"I can't understand why it is that you can't seem to do anything without me actually being there," Rodney shot over his shoulder, and by "you" he meant the staff, not Radek specifically.

And he knew that Radek understood, because the man rolled his eyes and replied,"Yes, yes, we are working and all of our thoughts on the matter must first be approved by you, Rodney."

Rodney ignored the sarcasm. He pulled his robe around his body as he stalked the night-darkened corridors of Atlantis, trailing Radek in his wake. He heard Radek mumble something about "...three in the morning, nothing better to do than to take abuse from..." and then trail off into Czech.

Rodney stifled a smile. He knew that Radek would only have come to get him from bed at this ungodly hour if it were something important. The man had enough sense for that, just as he had enough sense to know when Rodney was taking the piss out of him.

Rodney walked into the lab, pausing just inside the doorway. His staff stood in a circle around one of the lab benches, a glow from bench the only light in the room. It illuminated their faces, turning them a sickly green, and casting their backs into shadowed relief.

He looked at Radek, who simply raised his eyebrows and nodded towards the bench. Rodney stepped into the circle, people moving aside to allow him in. He looked down at the item on the bench and hissed in a breath of surprise.

It was a "...child's ball?" Rodney asked aloud, feeling a mix of puzzlement and awe, because that couldn't be it at all. The device was too perfect - there was simply no other way to describe it - and Atlantis tech was never that simple. If this was even Atlantis tech. It looked off, somehow. Maybe Wraith? But that wasn't quite it, either.

He felt Radek slide into the circle beside him, the group opening wider to grant him access. "Watch," Radek said, then tapped the top of the small, silver sphere that was sitting there on the table, its glow touching all those standing around it. After a moment, the device floated and started spinning. Lights started flashing as it moved to hover over their heads, then Rodney heard...was that actually supposed to be music? The ball expanded slightly and a light flashed, encompassing them all, and that's when he felt it, the beat, its pulse irresistible.

And Rodney McKay, of the two-left-feet McKays, started dancing. Arms flailing, heart pumping, joy felt from the tips of his fingers to the tips of his toes, he found himself moving. He could tell that everyone else felt it, too, because madness had burst out around him. Pandemonium: people dancing, laughing, bumping into each other in their glee.

He'd never danced like that, like he meant it, like it was natural, as natural as maths or breathing. Like he was one of the popular kids, a kid who didn't care what others thought of them. Who KNEW that he was good. Who WANTED people to watch him.

Rodney heard a thud and the room went quiet and dark. A groan rose from the people around him. Someone turned on a desk lamp, and he could see the ball, now settled back on the bench. Rodney looked down on it, disappointed.

Radek, beside him, frowned down at the device. "It lasts about five minutes."

Rodney, his breath fast in his chest and his heart pumping madly, simply nodded. That had to have been one of the most brilliant times he'd had in his life, and it had lasted all of five minutes. He could still half feel the beat inside him, compelling him to get back out there and start dancing, you stiff Canadian bastard. Out of breath, he managed, "So what's the problem?"

He looked up when Radek didn't answer. Radek stood there, eyes bright, looking at him expectantly. "We want to make it last LONGER," Radek replied, and the others around him nodded excitedly.

Rodney smiled, and his eyes slid back to the device.


Rodney heard a commotion at the door, but he didn't look up. Sitting on the floor of the lab, the others around him, he remained hunched over the device as he worked on the problem. Radek was beside him with his laptop, their computer model rotating on its screen.

He heard John's voice through the door, but he ignored it like he'd ignored the calls from Elizabeth, and John, and Carson on the radio. Eventually he's simply removed the headset.

He heard a thump against the door behind him, and then a whine. John probably had a team trying to get through, but they'd already planned for that and jammed it. Rodney ignored the fuss. With a bunch of genius-level scientists focused on keeping John out, it was unlikely he'd be able to get through.

"Radek, could you..."

And before he could finish the sentence, Radek had started typing and the picture changed. Radek looked at Rodney, and Rodney nodded.

They'd been working that way all night. The whole staff, working via a series of glances and phrases half-spoken, acting on each other's thoughts before they could be voiced.

"That's it," Rodney said softly, pointing in delight at one part of the computer model. He looked up at Radek and saw his own smile reflected back at him.

Rodney heard a crash behind him, but he ignored it. Turning his gaze to the device, he watched as several sets of hands reached forward, each poised to work on a different aspect of the modifications they'd developed.

Rodney was about to lean forward himself when he felt hands on his shoulders. He managed to reach a hand toward the device, brushing its edge just as he felt himself being pulled bodily backwards. Sliding across the floor, he gave a muffled groan, then started struggling. He kept his eyes on the device as he was pulled away, one hand reaching towards it even as they dragged him from the room.

Then he was on his back on the floor, Carson's face looming above him. "Rodney," was all the doctor got out before Rodney started screaming.


Music, and dancing, and God, he'd never felt so good, so free. It was pure. It was amazing.

Rodney felt someone move beside him, then the rough brush of a strap as it was removed from his wrist. Restraints, he'd been restrained. Confused, he opened his eyes.

He watched as the orderly removed one strap from his left wrist, then moved on to the one on the right.

He heard a voice from beside him. "Rodney?"

It took all his effort to turn his head. "Carson," he said, his voice sounding muffled and far away.

Carson, worry marring his features, said, "It's good to have you back with us."

"What's wrong?"

"You've been sedated," Carson replied, turning on the monitor beside his bed.


Carson looked at him in surprise. "What do you remember?"

"There was a device..." Rodney said, his voice trailing away as he started remembering.

"That device did something to you," Carson replied, twisting the second word as if it were something evil. "To all of you. You were under its influence..."

Rodney tuned the doctor out. He didn't believe him. There was no way that device had any sort of control over him. Once he'd heard that music, felt that pulse, he'd wanted to dance. Hell, he didn't care if it did have control over him, because he'd do it all again. It had felt...God, he'd felt wonderful, brilliant, completely high. He closed his eyes, settling back onto the bed, letting Carson's words flow past him. Even thinking about that feeling now, he wanted to get back to his lab, start working on it again. They'd been so close. He could have gotten it to work for longer. And even better, he thought he'd figured out a way to get its range to encompass most of Atlantis. If he could just have a few more minutes...Rodney opened his eyes and sat up in a rush, the IV someone had inserted jerking from the back of his hand as he made to get off the bed, the monitor beside him beeping madly as someone pushed him back down. Then there were four of them, and he was struggling as he felt the restraints being strapped back around his wrists, his ankles.

He struggled and...Rodney found himself lying there, dazed and staring confusedly at the ceiling. He was absolutely exhausted, as if all the life that had been filling him just seconds before had been drained. As if he'd been grabbed by a Wraith, and...he forced those thoughts aside. "What happened?" he asked, surprised that his voice sounded so rough.

Carson stood there a moment, as if listening. And he was, because he replied into a radio, "Thank you, Elizabeth."

The doctor looked down at Rodney. "Colonel Sheppard managed to turn off the device."

Rodney, sinking into sleep, thought that was probably a good thing. Drifting, he dreamt of dancing.


Please review and let me know what you think of this short piece. Thank you!