Title: The Mousetrap

Spoilers: None

Setting: Anywhen - first to third seasons

Rating: K+ (for slight language)

Disclaimer: All characters etc are owned by someone else. No copyright infringements intended.

A/N: This is very closely based on a dream I had after one of my Moggies brought me a small squeaky to chase.

As always - Thanks Kiky.

The Mousetrap

"C'm'ere ya bugger, I can see you!"

A lab-coated arm darted under the infirmary bed, the action almost immediately followed by a startled yelp. There was a sound of fingers being stuffed angrily into a mouth and a somewhat muffled voice exclaimed, "Ya bit me, you wee bastard! 'Timorous beastie,' my arse!"

Rodney McKay stood in the doorway for a few moments, wondering if the unseen individual would try again, but apparently the excitement was over for now. Rodney pitched his voice loud enough to carry over the muttered curses. "Still not caught all your escaped vermin yet, Carson?"

The loud 'thunk' of a head hitting the underside of a bedrail had the physicist wincing in sympathy.

"Bloody hell, Rodney, give a man some warning, won't you?" Carson's flushed face appeared above the bed. He cut a heroic figure; left hand vigorously rubbing the back of his head, right index finger jammed into his mouth. Rodney manfully managed to keep his grin down to a minimum.

"I'll take that as a 'no' then." McKay walked around the infirmary bed and offered a solicitous hand to help him up.

The medic batted his hand away and used the bed to lever himself to his feet. "Is this just an annoyance call, Rodney, or did you want something? A series of painful shots, maybe?"

"Well, I brought you this." Rodney held up the humane mousetrap that he'd had one of his lab-techs put together. "But, since you mention it, are your own rabies shots up to date?"

Carson virtually snatched the mousetrap from McKay's hand. "I'll have you know that my white mice are disease-free. They're probably the healthiest creatures on Atlantis." He turned the mousetrap over and peered at the complex system of levers and trapdoors inside. Here's a tip – never let a lab-tech design what should be a simple device. "How the hell does this work, then?"

Rodney took the mousetrap and deftly set the mechanism.

"Here," he tossed it back to Carson, "Good hunting."

McKay was halfway to the door when Carson called out, "Hey, Rodney, have you, by any chance, got any chocolate on you that I could use as bait?"

Rodney froze, then slowly turned, his eyes wide in perfectly understandable horror at the suggestion.

"I'll take that as a 'yes' then, Rodney." Carson grinned smugly, holding out his hand.

McKay reached into his pocket in resignation. God save us all from smart-ass medics.

oOo

2:00am and the sky above Atlantis was truly spectacular. You didn't get nights like these in many places on Earth any more. Light pollution had reached the point where even the desert stars shone less brightly, and city skies were a dreary, washed-out grey.

Here, unfamiliar constellations lit the sky from horizon to horizon like carelessly thrown diamonds on a black velvet cloth. With no moon in the Lantian sky, the stars didn't so much twinkle as blaze.

Rodney McKay had blackout curtains at his bedroom window. He liked it dark.

Rodney didn't need a light to locate the emergency night-time PowerBar on his bedside table. He didn't even bother to open his eyes as his fingers felt along the low tabletop.

The huge Tim Hortons coffee mug was the first familiar shape that he reached. Next came the picture of Smokey, his big, grey longhair who'd had claws like needles and a purr like a motor-boat. Rodney gently stroked the back of his fingers over the cold glass of the photo and smiled sleepily in the darkness. There was a tenderness in the smile that would have surprised many of his staff and lost several of them sizeable sums in bets if there had been anyone else there to witness it. Although, if there had been anyone else there, that would have lost yet more of his people even larger bets.

Rodney's fingers moved slightly further along the tabletop to where the PowerBar should have been. His smile slowly turned to a puzzled frown. Instead of the smooth, plastic wrapper, his questing fingers encountered something soft…and warm…and furry…and moving.

His eyes snapped open. The thin ribbon of light that he could never seem to completely eliminate, no matter how well he closed the curtains, angled through the darkness and shone onto a pair of tiny pink eyes.

oOo

Bang, bang, bang.

"Carson!"

Carson Beckett rolled over in his nice, cosy bed and groaned. He hovered for a moment in the twilight world between waking and sleeping, the shadowy tendrils of a rather pleasant dream playing out across his eyelids.

"Carson!"

"Awww, five more minutes, Ma." His murmured plea to his mother, millions of light-years away in another Galaxy, not surprisingly, went unheeded.

Bang, bang, bang.

"Carson!"

The last traces of sleep finally drifted away, and a pair of bleary blue eyes cracked open.

He yawned deeply, the clicking of his jaw echoing like firecrackers in his head. His hand reached out to the bedside lamp and he narrowed his eyes against the bright light. You'd have thought he'd have been used by now to being woken up at… he squinted at his clock… 2.30am! Bloody hell!

Carson leapt to his feet, a slight shiver of fear running through his body; the heightened senses of an adrenaline rush bringing the world into sharp relief. Not since his Saturday night stints at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary had he experienced such a powerful, dry-mouthed 'fight-or-flight' reaction. His skin tingled.

Way beyond voluntary control, his brain started to work with what little information it possessed.

Someone was banging on his door at 2.30am, so it was an emergency.

The strident alarms were silent, so Atlantis herself had not detected a threat.

The voice doing all the shouting was Rodney's, so...

Carson's shoulders slumped slightly as conscious thought kicked in. His internal risk assessment indicator made a small but significant adjustment to incorporate 'the Rodney McKay factor' and he ran his fingers through dishevelled hair, wincing slightly as they touched the painful lump on the back of his head.

He took a deep breath, holding it for a second before letting it slowly out through pursed lips.

Bang, bang…

Carson opened the door.

Rodney McKay stood in the corridor, wearing a grey flannel bathrobe. He was carrying an oversized coffee mug on top of which lay a thin book entitled 'Non-Noetherian Unique Factorisation Rings', acting as a lid.

Carson closed his eyes.

This had to be a dream. If it was, he much preferred the one he'd been having earlier which involved… well, never mind exactly who it involved, but she was a damn sight prettier than Rodney, in Carson's opinion.

He cautiously reopened his eyes. Rodney was still there; he hadn't disappeared, grown fangs or turned into a giant rabbit. So this probably wasn't a dream.

Which begged the obvious question.

"Rodney," Carson carefully kept his voice equable, "Why have you brought me an enormous mug of coffee and a book on maths at half past two in the morning?"

McKay thrust the giant mug towards him. "Here, take it."

Beckett automatically grabbed hold of the mug with both hands, half expecting hot coffee to slosh over his fingers, but it was cool to the touch and surprisingly light.

"And I want it scalded out before you give it back." Rodney glowered at the surprised Scot, turned on his heels, and stalked off along the corridor in the direction of his own room, bathrobe flapping around his bare calves.

Carson watched McKay turn the corner and frowned. That had been surreal. Even for someone accustomed to dealing with Rodney, the last few minutes had been strange.

The mug twitched in his hands.

Carson jumped, the adrenaline in his system still giving him a nervous edge. He held the mug slightly further from his body, at the same time gripping it more securely. With exaggerated care, he walked over to the low table at the edge of his room, eyeing the mug apprehensively. He cautiously placed the gently shaking mug in the centre of the table and took a step back. In the quiet of the very early morning, he could hear a soft skittering noise coming from underneath the maths book.

Warily, he lifted the corner of the book with his forefinger, and peeked beneath it.

"Bloody hell, Rodney." Carson failed to contain his cry of annoyance. "Couldn't this have waited until morning?" The white mouse looked up at him, blinked once in the sudden light, then settled down and started to groom itself.

He looked around his room for a more suitable container. The short walk to the infirmary and a real cage didn't appeal. If he was lucky, he could be asleep again in a few minutes despite his earlier alarm, which was now beginning to fade away, leaving his eyelids heavy.

A large, plastic box on the far side of the table looked promising, so he reached across, inadvertently catching the overlarge mug with his elbow. He watched in dismay as the mug and maths book gracefully toppled over.

Mice are nippy, in more ways than one. This one had crossed the table, leapt to the floor, and found a nice, safe hiding place before the startled doctor could even react.

oOo

A pyjama'd arm darted under the bed. "C'm'ere ya bugger, I can see you!"

End

A/N: If anyone was wondering, the small squeaky my cat brought in (a wood mouse) was caught alive and well. It's now back under the shed with its family. ;-)