Authors notes: I am grateful to An Kayoh for editing this story.


The Mug of Coffee


Atlantis, mess hall, evening. Some time after the events described in 'No Man's Land'
Radek slowly swirled the spoon in his coffee mug.

Khrrr… khrrr… khrrr…

"Would you stop that!" Rodney finally snapped, looked at the upset face of the little scientist and added with a false patience: "What's wrong?"

Radek glanced at him distractedly, pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket, took his glasses off and started to clean them.

"Why are you sulking?" Rodney asked again.

"No reason," Radek raised his defenseless, nearsighted eyes. Then he put his glasses back on and sighed. "I was just thinking… When I was little, we used to believe that if you do a bad thing… something really awful, your mother would die."

Rodney rolled his eyes: "What did I do this time?"

"Nothing," the man looked almost scared. "I was just thinking… It's a good thing Wraith don't know about that, right?"

"Oh, not that again!" Rodney exclaimed. "You're trying to imagine how you'd feel if you'd betray your family and your mother died. But you know what? His species is incapable…" Rodney glanced around and continued in an angry whisper. "His species is incapable of such feelings!"

"Last time you told me the same thing about Kavanagh. And he is a nice guy, when he is not disgusted. It's just his family has very high moral standards. He was brought up that way. And you know it yourself – we here and morals…" Radek shrugged.

"Kavanagh! I hate him as much as the other guy – but he is no Wraith! You, on the other hand, are brooding about Wraith feelings! Want to know what he's feeling? Ah? He is glad his mother was killed! I'm glad she was killed and all of us came back alive! And you should be glad too!"

"I'm glad…"

"Good!"

"…that all of us came back alive."

"Argh!" Rodney got up, taking his empty tray with him. "Why do you have to make things difficult all the time?"

"Why do you have to think all the time?" the little scientist shrugged. "It's the way my mind works. He is a Wraith all right. But I'm not. And I wish you'd leave me alone. I'm not bothering you. I'm just trying to get some coffee."

Rodney gave the mug a disgusted look. "When you'll finish trying, you should pour it out and get some fresh one. Yours should be ice-cold by now!" With those words he turned around and stalked away.

Radek sat for a while, not moving, his face slowly taking on the expression of an upset child, so annoying to Rodney – corners of his mouth went down, and eyebrows moved up wrinkling his forehead, his eyes staring into space. Then he reached absentmindedly for the spoon and swirled it slowly in his coffee.

"Khrrr…" said the spoon, "khrrr…"