Authors notes: this is an alternative development of a short story written by Velocitygrass (text reference is in my profile). In my humble opinion the very essence of SGA was captured on two pages of that short story.
So I thought what if Dr. Wiener wouldn't be a little, scared, submissive girl? What would happen then? What if Mr. Sh would be from a decent family? Because people from decent families do make poor choices sometimes, the difference is how they deal with those poor choices.
I am grateful to Gracie for editing this story.
I am grateful to Leah Silverman for the inspiration.
"You mean you picked at her for months? Sent her to the sewers for no reason, tampered with the climate control in her room and such? "
During the last year Rodney had studied the man quite well, but he never saw that expression on his face. He couldn't even understand what it was. Pity? Incredulity? Mixture of both?
"You're her boss," Sheppard kept staring at him with that strange expression.
"So what? It'll do her good."
"Rodney, she is a woman."
"Since when you became a sexist?" McKay grinned, grabbing John's sleeve and pulling him a little closer.
Sheppard carefully freed himself and stepped back. "Just because she didn't want to take some dirty clothes to the laundry?" Now Rodney was sure about his expression. Helplessness.
"What's wrong with you today?" McKay finally exploded. "Weren't you angry when that bitch just left you standing there in the hall after that mission?"
"I suppose I was," Sheppard shrugged. "I don't remember – it was half a year ago." He backed to the door. "I... I need to go."
That night Sheppard didn't come to McKay's quarters. So after an hour of tossing and turning in his bed Rodney got dressed and went to John's.
John, still in his uniform, opened the door. Apparently, he didn't even try to sleep.
McKay made a move to enter, but Sheppard blocked his way.
"Are you going to let me in?"
"Rodney, it's over." Sheppard's voice wasn't angry or upset. It was... empty.
"What's over?" McKay stopped his attempts to get in, and glared at his lover.
McKay couldn't believe his ears. "You're dumping me? Here, in the middle of the corridor?"
"I suppose I am." Sheppard said tiredly.
"Why? Because of that bitch?"
"No. Please go, Rodney," Sheppard whispered, the same expression of helpless pity settling on his face.
Here she was, working on some complicated device on her bench.
Sheppard drew a breath, preparing himself, and suddenly realized that he forgot her name. He scratched the back of his head, then walked to the bench and put his hand on the woman's shoulder. He expected her to jump, just like Rodney would, then he would apologize – for scaring her, and for Rodney's tricks, and it will be one big laugh – no harm done.
She didn't jump. She slowly turned her head toward him at looked at him through her working goggles. Next, still slowly, she took her goggles off, placed them on the bench, and looked at him again.
Oh, yes, now he remembered. He was angry. Not because that day, half a year ago, when he asked her to carry some things to the laundry, she looked aside, mumbled something and rushed away.
But because of how she looked at him.
Now those gray eyes were staring at him again. With the same cold, thoughtful, unyielding disdain. For some reason the word 'steel' floated into Sheppard's thoughts.
"Get your hands off me," she said about two tones louder than Sheppard would expect. All the scientists and technicians in the lab turned to look at them. "And if you ever touch me again, I don't know what I will do."
John realized that his hand is still on woman's shoulder. He took it away. "Hey, lady, I didn't mean to–"
"I would suggest you get an appointment with Dr. Heightmeyer," the woman continued in the same determined and rather loud voice.
"What is going on here?" McKay came rushing from his office. "Dr. Wiener, what is the problem?"
"Oh, no problem, Dr. McKay. All of this has gone far enough. May I be excused? I have a matter to discuss with Dr. Weir."
Sheppard and McKay shrugged simultaneously, looking at her back, disappearing between the benches cramped with equipment.
Dr. Weir finished reading the paper lying on the desk in front of her, and raised her eyes to meet the woman's sitting in front of her.
"Dr. Wiener, you have some time to reconsider. It will be a few days, before the next Gate convoy to Earth."
The woman smiled a little. "Thank you, Dr. Weir. I've considered my options carefully."
"I hope you understand, Dr. Wiener," Elizabeth began again, "that it might be difficult for you to get another appointment, if you decide to go public with these accusations? Any government position, actually."
The woman laughed. She actually threw her head back and laughed, and Elizabeth realized that she wasn't faking – she just wasn't afraid.
"Let me tell you one thing, Dr. Weir," the woman was still chuckling. "I'm not Dr. Kavangh. That poor bastard didn't have a soul to back him up when he spoke what he believed was true. I have my family. Actually, you might've heard of my father. Boys call him Steel Robby."
Steel Robby Wiener. Yes, indeed, that name rang the bell. Elizabeth didn't remember all the details, but that was a great scandal. Senators went down, just because some moron ordered General Wiener to do something that the old man considered to be dirty. He threw all his cards on the table, risked everything, never backed down–and won.
"I see," the woman smiled good-naturally at Dr. Weir's expression. "So unless you plan to assassinate me during these couple days, this Bacchanalia is going down." The woman got up, preparing to leave.
"You forget yourself, Dr. Wiener." Elizabeth got to her feet, too.
"Oh, do I?" Steel Robby's daughter cocked her head to one side. "I was quiet when our ranking officer and the chief scientist started to sleep together. I knew you were aware of the situation, but I didn't say a word."
"Atlantis is an isolated place. Everyone is trying to cope with the situation the best they can, and if-"
"For a soldier sodomy is an offense punishable by court martial – Article 125 of UCMJ , if I'm not mistaken. And if you think about it, there are some good reasons why that law is enforced. I mean reasons beyond your common homophobia. But I kept quiet. I was quiet, when my boss, Dr. McKay, started to harass me. I grew up in military family, I respect the chain of command. I was quiet when a couple of days ago I finally found out what was the reason for that harassment. Apparently, I unknowingly and unintentionally stepped on the toes of my boss's lover."
"Please let me finish. I was quiet. Up until today, when that... when my boss's lover came to the lab and lay his hands on me. The rule is if you're not in sexual relationship with that person, keep your hands to yourself."
"I'm sure the colonel didn't mean to–" Dr. Weir began and stopped, seeing how uncontrollable disdain rippled the face of the other woman.
"About that assassination," Dr. Wiener said in tired voice. "I told a couple of guys about this. A couple of military guys. And the thing you don't know about military, Dr. Weir – they gossip. Like fishmongers. Believe me, I know – my entire family is in service. So, please, do me a favor – don't call my boss's lover by the rank which doesn't belong to him. It makes me sick."
"May I come in?" Sheppard noted how spartan her tiny room was - bare walls, no tiny-winy girlish things on her bed stand. Nothing.
"No." Dr. Wiener was sitting on her narrow bed, her back propped against the pillow, book on her lap.
Sheppard sighed, staying at the doorstep. He always got along well with women. His 'I'm a cute little puppy' look ensured, if not an attraction, then at least some motherly instinct in most of them.
Now it wasn't working. Even the 'I'm a dying cute little puppy' wasn't working.
"Today, in the lab," he began. "I just came to apologize. I mean, I came to the lab to apologize. Back then I was tired, and angry, and I told Rodney about what happened, and I forgot... I didn't think he'd go after you. I didn't know."
The woman stared at him out of her steel-cold, unsmiling eyes. Sheppard couldn't keep her gaze and looked down.
"I was filthy that day," he tried to smile, but that didn't really work. "So if I were you, I'd think twice before touching myself back then."
"I'm not afraid to get dirty. If it would be Keith... Major Lorne, I'd help him gladly."
Simple, clear, straightforward. Sheppard didn't know what to do with all that.
"Why not me?"
"I'm from a military family. You are the very definition of disgrace."
'Great,' Sheppard thought. At this very moment he finally believed that this situation is going to land him in jail. "Because I love the man I'm not supposed to love?"
"No. Because you sleep with the person you not supposed to sleep with. Think – all the people under you, and all the people under my boss are involuntarily involved. There are rules about it. Those rules exist for a good reason, don't you think? Good thing it was me who got caught between your bed sheets. What if it would be Miko... Dr. Kusanagi? She thinks McKay is some sort of god – she'd be totally defenseless."
"I told you - I didn't know. If I knew-"
"Oh, goodness," Dr. Wiener closed her eyes for a second. "It's not about me. This entire place... The CMO experiments on POWs and local folks, the chief scientist sleeps with the ranking officer, the head of the expedition covers all that."
"Not anymore," Sheppard said quietly. "I mean, I don't sleep with... him anymore. Since the day I found out..."
"Why? Sorry – scientific curiosity."
"Certainly not because I care about your troubles, lady," Sheppard retorted, and felt how an invisible noose on his neck tightened, cutting his breath. That invisible noose he felt when Elizabeth had told him this morning. 'I'm my worst enemy,' Sheppard thought.
The woman kept quiet, so John glanced at her. She was smiling. "Now, that wasn't a lie."
Sheppard tried to keep the woman's stare, but failed again.
"Who is it?" she asked softly. "Is it your father?"
"Is what my father?"
"When I'm in iffy situation, I always picture my father's face. So I can spot things that would revolt him. You're doing the same – you can't do things that would disgust your... father? Is it your father?"
"I obviously can," Sheppard snorted. "And don't tell me that you're celibate."
Dr. Wiener narrowed her eyes. "At least I don't sleep with my boss. It must be hard for you – taking into account your preferences."
"What're you talking about?"
"Oh, please... As I mentioned before - military men gossip. There were three military men in that room. I hope you didn't expect it stay a secret forever?"
"Which room? What are you–"
"Your promotion. That "Lt. Colonel" thingy. There were three military men in that room, and one woman who happened to be on very friendly terms with the President. The men were against that promotion. So, don't tell me you didn't sleep with her for that."
Sheppard felt his face went numb.
"Oh, come on!" the woman chuckled. "Don't try that 'I didn't know' face on me again."
"That's bullshit," Sheppard could barely master his voice.
"Go ask Steven," the woman gave him that look, a crooked smile with gray eyes glinting again. "He was in that room."
Sheppard found Colonel Caldwell on Daedalus. The colonel was working on a power-block, buried under the console so only his feet were showing from under the machine.
Sheppard crouched, then sat on the floor. "Colonel? May I have a minute?"
Caldwell climbed out. "Lt. Colonel?"
"Some malfunction?" Sheppard nodded at the block.
"Nah, not really. I think the baby is seeing double, that's all," Caldwell chuckled. "What can I do for you?"
Sheppard was silent for a while, Caldwell looking at him with a half-smile.
"When the decision about my promotion was made, were you there?" John said and looked other man in the eyes.
Caldwell kept smiling. "Yes."
"Were you... against it?"
Caldwell cocked his head. "Yes."
"Who else was against it?"
"Listen, Sheppard – what do you want? You kept your job, you got your O5 paycheck – enjoy."
"So it is true," Sheppard nodded thoughtfully. "Thank you."
"For being honest."
All her possessions fit in a single bag. Not a very big one either. She pulled it to the corridor, and stopped at the doorstep, looking into the empty room. She sighed and turned to go, almost slamming into Sheppard.
"Goddamn it!" she muttered and stepped back.
"Finally I managed to scare you," he said without a smile, reached for her bag, took it, and hung it over his shoulder. "That's what men are for – to carry things. I'll walk you to the 'Gate."
The woman shrugged. "I hope you don't expect me to drop the charges?"
"Do what you got to do," Sheppard turned to go. "I thought your friends would be here to say farewell. Since you're doing it for their sake."
"Are you kidding? I said my goodbyes yesterday. My friends have to live here. I don't want them to get in trouble for being associated with me. By the way – why are you here? I could quite manage without your help."
Dr. Wiener looked at his face, amused. "Goddamn it. You really believe that your friends would do something to me, aren't you?"
Sheppard didn't reply and didn't look at her.
"He put your name in dirt once, and you don't want him to do it again. Is that it?"
John turned around and stepped in front of the woman so suddenly, she walked into him.
"Do you enjoy torturing me?"
"Well," Dr. Wiener smiled. "I didn't invite you, you came yourself."
"Listen, lady. I didn't do anything bad... well, I obviously did." Sheppard fell silent. Then he sighed. "It might sound strange to you, but I love that guy. Oh, I know sometimes he is such an ass. But you see – you have your father, and I have mine, but Rodney has no one. He never had anyone of value at whom he could look and say 'oh, gosh, I wouldn't do that, because it'd revolt him'. That's why I'm here. That's why I will never be with him again. I don't care about my name, but I don't want him to do those dirty and miserable things to protect me. He will be better off without me."
Dr. Wiener studied his face for a while. "You could've been that person of value for him. Instead you let him down. Let's go – I don't want to miss my trip."
The rest of the way to the 'Gate hall they walked in a dead silence. Only on the ramp, right before walking through the event horizon, did the woman turn and give him a little wave.
"See you in a week."
She was wrong.
Many times recalling those days Sheppard caught himself thinking 'she was wrong' with a little pang of satisfaction.
It was almost a month before he was sent back to Earth.
It took SGC a while to find for him a proper replacement. But Sheppard suspected that the main reason for the delay was their desire to arrest him properly.
He remembered that day of Daedalus' arrival very well. The marine Colonel, new Atlantis ranking officer, looked through him as if he weren't there. His men, self-confident and lazy like overfed cats, spread all over the pier.
"Lt. Colonel Sheppard?"
John looked at the military man in front of him. "Yes, sergeant."
"You are under arrest. Turn around and put your hands behind your back." Sheppard sensed a pity beyond that façade of correctness and duty, but the guy was holding handcuffs...
Sheppard stepped back. "I didn't kill anyone."
Two marines accompanying the sergeant made a step toward him.
"Please, sir. Don't make your situation worse, it's grave as it is." Yes, that was clearly pity.
That was unbearable. Sheppard turned around and put his hands behind his back.
"Is this really necessary?" Dr. Weir came closer. "I'm leader of this expedition and I can assure you–"
"Dr. Weir, right?" the sergeant dipped his head a little in her direction. "These are the proper procedures. The handcuffs will be removed the moment the Lt. Colonel is placed in his holding cell at the SGC."
"Can I at least get my things?" Sheppard turned to look at his captors.
"Sir, your articles will be collected and sent to the SGC with the next 'Gate convoy. We have to go, sir. I have orders to deliver you as soon as possible."
At the end they let him collect his belongings. The 'Gate suddenly malfunctioned, and while scientists were running full diagnostics, the sergeant agreed to let his prisoner to spend his last Atlantis hours not in brig, but in his quarters.
"Can I see him?"
The man emanated defiant arrogance and the sergeant looked at him with amusement.
"Dr. McKay, I presume?"
"Yes. So, can I see the prisoner?"
"He is in enough trouble as it is, Doctor."
"Come on!" the scientist waved impatiently. "He was here for a year and a half, and without any guards at his doors. Five minutes is not going to worsen the verdict. I don't believe anything at this point can worsen it."
"I hope you aware that if questioned, I will have to disclose–"
"Whatever," it was another impatient gesture as the scientist pushed in the room.
Sheppard was sitting on his bed, his back to the door. His packed bag was in the middle of the floor, and Rodney felt a sudden pang of pain, seeing that it was half-empty.
"I'm ready," John got to his feet and stopped, looking at Rodney. "Ah, it's you."
"Yes, it's me," McKay retorted. "Can you imagine – that bitch filed a case of sexual harassment against me!"
McKay looked at him with suspicion. "That's the gratitude for everything I've done for her!"
"And it's all your fault!"
John gave him a sad little smile. "Yes. I know. I'm sorry, Rodney."
Sheppard and his guards stopped at the foot of the 'Gate ramp and the sergeant cuffed his hands behind his back again. It was the last time McKay saw him.
The worst thing for Rodney during the following months was dealing with Elizabeth. She wasn't mad at him. She just stopped noticing him. In a very level voice she let him know that he doesn't have to go to Earth to settle his sexual harassment case. Rodney silently gasped at the amount of money it cost the organization to put out the fire. Elizabeth wasn't mad at him. She simply avoided looking at him. "Dr. McKay, please, never put me through that again."
A couple of days later he walked into Elizabeth's office without a knock. She was sitting with her feet in her chair, staring into space, and Rodney suddenly realized how old, defenseless and fragile she was.
A few months later he found out that the military let Sheppard off the hook. It all ended in dishonorable discharge and the only time he spent in jail was the couple of months it took for the trial to be over.
Strange, but Rodney almost couldn't remember his face. He couldn't remember how he looked on the missions, or during those nights they spent together.
The only memory that for some reason stayed with him was that last moment at the foot of Atlantis 'Gate.
The sergeant cuffs Sheppard's hands behind his back, John turns his head and tells him something with a smile, and the Marine shakes his head in amusement.