STUPID STUFF - by NotTasha
PART 3: GENIUS
Ronon remained in the infirmary until Beckett released him. The Satedan was too smart to disregard the doctor's orders, and had too much respect for the doctor. Beckett knew enough about the former runner to keep him for only the minimal advisable time-period. The relationship worked well between them.
His team had the habit of taking shifts in the infirmary until their injured teammate awoke, but they had the common sense to wander elsewhere once the danger was gone.
Sheppard and Teyla had stopped by Ronon's bed several times during his infirmity, just to talk for a few moments and then discreetly leave. He tired too easily, and they knew enough to leave before he embarrassed himself by falling asleep during their visit. McKay, having been released after his medication had worn off, had been absent since then. Well, that wasn't entirely true. Beckett had told Ronon that the scientist had been by several times, still complaining about his back, but always managing to pay his visits while Ronon was asleep.
Ronon didn't know whether McKay was just 'lucky', or if the visits were paid with careful timing.
All in all, Ronon was glad to be out of that place of sickness and on his own again – even if he had been ordered to return to his room and 'take it easy'. But he'd had enough of sickbeds and stillness, and even though his side still ached, he had something he needed to do, and it would wait no longer.
Dex moved gingerly down the dim hallways, feeling the odd tug at his side where Beckett had skillfully stitched him back together.
His destination came into view fairly quickly, one of the large labs. His target was here – he'd been assured so by one of the scientists that had been scuttling down the hallways. As the door opened into another hallway, he wondered about McKay.
He couldn't quite grasp what drove the man. McKay seemed soft and weak, yet he worked himself to exhaustion nearly every day. It took something strong to manage that, didn't it?
It was late. The labs were otherwise empty, but as Ronon quietly trod through the hall, he could see one lit room on the far side of the complex. He moved toward it.
He paused, standing in the doorway, and observed the man a moment. McKay, stupidly oblivious to his presence, was leaning against a counter. His eyes were closed as he hunched over some strange object. He stretched his shoulders, first one and then another, his face drawn with pain.
Ronon realized that McKay wasn't all bluster, his complaints weren't only to draw attention. Here, alone, there was no point to theatrics. And Ronon Dex caused the injury. McKay never should have had to take on the responsibility of hauling him home. After all, Ronon was the muscle, and McKay was supposed to be the brain.
Ronon let out a soft sigh.
McKay's head shot up as he stared at the figure in the doorway. "Who's there?" he demanded.
Realizing that he was in shadow, Ronon quickly stated, "It's me," as he moved forward, into the light of the lab.
"Oh…" McKay responded, looking relived. "Great." His expression changed to alarm again. "What's wrong? Something wrong?"
"Oh, okay." Puzzlement was the new expression. Ronon wondered if McKay had any idea how readable he was. "So… why are you here? I mean, aside from the fact that you should probably be in bed, aren't you the guy who usually hits the sack early? You know, early bird and worm and all that?"
Ronon didn't even try to understand the comments. "Meds got me all messed up," he explained, wishing he'd taken a little of the pain medication that Beckett had given him. His perforated side was starting to make its presence known. "Been sleeping all day anyway."
"Oh, yeah, of course." McKay waved a hand. "But again, I ask, why are you here?" He gestured toward the ancient device that he'd been fussing over. "This isn't exactly the sort of entertainment you usually seek out, is it?"
"No," Ronon admitted. He grimaced slightly, as the wound increased its ache. Beckett was right. He should have stayed in bed. He really should sit down.
Ronon lurched forward, into the room, and was surprised by the latest look that crossed McKay's face. He looked scared. Was McKay frightened of him now? Well, after the abuse he'd laid on the man, was it any wonder?
Instead of shirking backward, McKay grabbed a lab chair from beside the counter and slung it around, slamming it down in front of the former runner. "Would you sit down before you get yourself killed for real?"
With a grimace, Ronon sat, mortified by his weakness.
McKay went on, " 'Cause I really don't think I'd be able to get you up again if you went down." He rubbed one hand absently at the small of his back. "I've taken all of the Dex-toting I can handle."
"Yeah," Ronon said softly. "I… well… it wasn't supposed to happen like that." He looked away, stating, "You shouldn't have had to … carry me… back to the Gate."
McKay scowled and snapped out, "You got that right!"
Ronon paused a moment, surprised at the outburst. But it was completely understandable, he decided, and justifiable. Ronon continued, "I know. I'm the one who's supposed to be watching out for you. Not the other way around." He paused slightly, then tried to say, "I was only yelling at you because that's what Sheppard does."
"What? And that gives you free rein to jump all over me?"
"You should have left…"
"I should have left you?" Rodney echoed sharply.
Ronon didn't nod. "It was my responsibility to see that you returned safely. I should have figured out that I wouldn't be able to make it to the Gate. I should've sent you on without me."
McKay looked furious. "What do you mean? We DID make it to the Gate."
"You could've been captured or killed," Ronon responded. "You should've left me. You're too important."
Turning about, McKay stormed toward the counter, slapping one hand down on the surface making a sharp sound. "Don't!" he bit out. "Don't start that!"
Ronon could understand McKay's anger, it didn't take a genius to figure out that McKay had ended up with a bad deal -- having to tote the 'muscle' home. He opened his mouth to speak, but McKay cut him off, his face red, spouting, "Too important? How dare you say that, you… you… stupid ape!"
Crinkling his brow at the moniker, Ronon recalled something about large primates. It seemed a bit harsh, but it was deserved.
McKay went on, his voice crackling with rage, "Jumping in front of a bullet? That's like the worst movie cliché ever! What the hell were you thinking?"
Ronon sat back, surprised. "Trying to save your life," he tried.
"You ever try shouting 'get down'? Because, I have to tell you, I'm pretty good at hitting the ground."
"Wasn't time for it," Ronon told him.
"And jumping around like a lunatic is faster than just shouting 'duck'?" McKay scowled. "You figured getting killed was a good solution, huh?"
"I was just trying to get you out of the way."
"Yeah, by jumping in front of a projectile designed to tear holes into your body and KILL YOU!"
"I was trying to save your life."
"By 'taking the bullet'?" McKay's anger seemed to draw back a bit, replaced with something else. "You wouldn't even let me try to bandage it."
"There wasn't time."
"It was stupid. You could have died. Could have bled to death. Do you know how close you were to dying? Do you have any idea how scared I was?"
"I had to do it."
"What? Trade your life for mine? Is that what you were doing?"
Ronon regarded the scientist a moment, seeing the distress written all over his face. Finally, he said, "You're too valuable to Atlantis."
McKay's face twisted again, as he spat out, "And you're not?"
"You're... you're the genius. Me... I'm just one of the 'boneheads'." Ronon used a phrase he'd heard bandied about Atlantis.
McKay turned again. He looked, strangely, hurt by Ronon's comment. "No," he said softly.
"I'm not the important one," Ronon went on. "Sacrifices must be made to save those that are worth more."
"Now, that was a bonehead remark!" McKay sniped, gesturing wildly, "Don't! Don't even TRY to convince me of that. I can't stand it! I just can't stand that anymore!"
Ronon was silent, watching McKay as the physicist leaned on the counter and lowered his head.
Rodney whispered, "Why do people keep doing that to me?" His voice caught for a moment and he went on, "Why do they do that? I mean, Griffin knew he was going to die and he just… he just shut that door… to save me. It must have been a horrible when the water…" He stopped, blinking his eyes, then restarted with. "He made a ridiculous decision. Don't you see how absurd that was?"
"Maybe he…" Ronon tried.
McKay kept talking, "People are always dying around me. They just keep dying. Gall -- good God. He... he killed himself so that I could help Sheppard. Right in front of me. Just shot himself to save me." McKay's voice was soft, disbelieving. His eyes became distant in the memory. "And Abrams and Dumais and Peterson and Wagner and Johnson and Hays and Lindstrom and Collins -- God, I'm sorry about that – and Grodin. Grodin… I should have…" He paused, swallowed, then added, "So many others. People just keep dying."
Ronon said nothing. He'd seen plenty of death, but he was a soldier, he was supposed to see death, wasn't he? It was never easy though… never.
"No more dying!" McKay grumbled. "I'm sick of it! I am so tired of having people DIE all around me. I won't have it out of you." He turned again, moving away from the counter. "Next time, just say, 'Get down!' I get down really quickly."
"Okay," Ronon responded stiffly.
"No more throwing yourself in front of the bullet because that really SUCKS."
"Okay," Ronon said again, the phrase something he never had spoken before he'd been in Atlantis.
"And no more talk about leaving you behind," McKay declared. "You know how the colonel is about that. He has this fantastic ideal about not leaving people." He was leaning on the counter again, obviously still feeling the pain in his back. "And it's not as if you're still... 'running'. You have people around that actually give a damn about what happens to you -- Teyla and the colonel, Beckett even."
"Sorry," Ronon said, nodding when Rodney looked at him. " 'Bout your back," he concluded.
"Yeah… well," McKay replied. "Could have been worse… I mean it's stopped hurting for the most part. Just when I get tired it acts up."
"Yeah," Ronon responded and for a moment they said nothing.
"So, we got this straight?" McKay finally said. "You're not going to get yourself killed because of me, right? You're not going to purposefully go kamikaze to save me, because, that's just ludicrous, stupid."
Ronon remembered how McKay had risked his life to save Cadman, how he came to Sateda in spite of his injury. He remembered hearing how McKay had drowned, sacrificed his life in an alternative universe in a hopeless attempt to save the others. He'd heard of the incident with energy beast. And then there was the business with the overdose of Wraith enzyme. Stupid and risky choices – meant only to ensure the safety of others.
When Ronon didn't answer, McKay raised his head and said, "No more stupid moves, okay?"
"Yeah," Ronon responded.
"Is that a promise?" McKay asked, sounding hopeful. "I mean, you can protect me all you want, but no more of the 'stupid stuff', right?"
"No stupid stuff," Ronon agreed.
"Great." McKay straightened slowly. "I'm going to bed," he declared. He winced, moving his shoulders. "Beckett gave me some pills that'd help with the... you know..." he grimaced again. "Said it'd knock me out though."
"I should be going back, too," Ronon stated, standing with some difficulty. "I think he gave me the same stuff."
Rodney gestured to the door and they both hobbled their way out. They moved side-by-side down the hallway, and Ronon glanced toward the scientist as Rodney staggered along.
Sheppard had said that Rodney was made of 'tough stuff'. Ronon realized that now, even as the scientist made pathetic whimpering sounds as he moved.
Ronon chuckled at a particularly wretched noise from McKay. Rodney glared at him in return.
"What?" McKay snarled.
"You're grumpy when you're in pain."
"Oh, don't start with that," Rodney grumbled churlishly. "You were one hell of a good time when I was hauling you back to the Gate, an endless barrel of laughs, all daffodils and sunshine."
Ronon laughed again, stopping short as his side shot through with pain. The grunt of discomfort got a smug smile out of McKay.
Yeah, they'd made an agreement, no more 'stupid stuff' -- but that didn't mean Ronon would keep his end of the deal. Sometimes, he just couldn't help being stupid for certain things.