SEASON: Third Season - somewhere after Tao of Rodney
MAJOR CHARACTERS: Radek and Rodney
DISCLAIMERS: The characters, Atlantis, etc, all belong to Sony, MGM, Gecko, Showtime, the Sci-Fi Channel. I own nothing.
SPOILERS: Small ones for: "Tao of Rodney" (really nothing more than referencing a conversation regarding Radek's childhood) and another small reference to "Grace Under Pressure"
NOTE: I'm writing a series of short stories, each featuring McKay and one of the others. If you want to check out the other stories, please see "Stupid Stuff", "Weird Kid" and "Strange Doings" also found at this site.
NOTE: Tipper issued a challenge to write a story based on a poem. This is my second response. The poem is at the end of the story

ODD HOURS - by NotTasha


He dozed, knowing it was too early to wake. For a moment he just breathed, listening to the quiet sounds of his home. The ocean rolled nearby, a quiet roar. It was one of the strange acoustic properties of Atlantis – he could hear the tumult of the ocean, but not the sound of anyone walking past his quarters – not that anyone was out at this odd hour.

Letting himself relax, he tried to return to sleep, his nose growing a little cold as it poked outside the blankets. But, even as he tried, his mind was back to work, images of wiring, crystals, Ancient symbols, long basins and fluttering lights filled his head. The hydroponics room awoke in his consciousness.

Did I reset the array after I ran the test of the watering system yesterday? I should attempt to bypass the the control console again. Maybe now I can access the day-to-night program and correct the cycling program. Now, if I would just...

It was a curse, he decided, as he fought to banish the ideas, the problems, the possible solutions, the conjectures from his brain. Go to sleep. You can work on this in a few hours. This is your off time.

And for a moment or two, he tried. It didn't work. He turned in his bed to stare at the red numbers on his clock. Squinting, he forced the image into a semblance of focus-- 4:48 AM.

Too early. See? It's too early to be awake. Go back to sleep.

He closed his eyes tightly, but the room already knew he was waking and the temperature was rising.

In a few minutes, the environmental controls would bring the room to a pleasant temperature, perfect for exiting his bed. He liked the room chilled as he slept, and was comforted by the weight of blankets above him. It felt homey, but no one liked getting out of bed when the room was cold. And now, he was getting entirely too warm.

Atlantis learned his preferences and provided. After a few days of setting the controls, the room adjusted without him touching a thing. The problem was, today, he would rather have slept. All he needed to do was manually adjust the controls to plunge the temperature back to its usual Siberian levels, but that would have meant getting up, and the moment his feet hit the floor he would be awake. So, why bother? Stay put a moment or two longer

It was getting too warm to remain under his mountain of bedding. "Nádherný," he grumbled. This just wasn't going to work.

Frustrated, he shoved back the covers, and cursed those who were born lucky, able to interact mentally with Atlantis. He muttered thickly as he wished that the ATA gene therapy had worked for him, but he was a man of little luck, and was forced to bear such unhappy burdens.

He sat on the edge of the bed, not even feeling the slightest chill remaining, and blinked blearily at the room. The lights came up slowly, gently.

It was before 5am and he was now wide-awake. He felt for his glasses, fumbling them off the little stand his niece had given him years ago. With a familiar movement, he shoved them onto his face, then stood and started toward the little bathroom.

Well, he decided. I can make good use of this time. The labs will be empty – quiet, and free from so many beseeching voices -- asking questions, demanding answers. There will be no one making demands of me. Yes, make good use of the time. The odd hours are the best for completing serious work. Then, you can call an early end to the day. And he chuckled softly at the idea, realizing such a thing would never happen.

He entered the bathroom and turned on the shower.

He stood outside it, tugging off his t-shirt and tossing it to the floor. After a yawn, he plunged a hand into the water to check the temperature, even though his room already had learned his preference. Old habits die hard.

He was surprised by cold water.

With a frown he adjusted the control, wondering if something had reset the system, wondering if Atlantis had 'forgotten'. He brought up the heat and tried again, finding only cold water.

"Podivný," he said under his breath.

It wasn't as if the city ran off of hot water tanks. The water, filtered and desalinated from the ocean, flowed to the various sections of Atlantis and was instantly heated to the correct temperature as it entered the faucet or shower head.

Nearly a miracle, really. They'd just started to understand how the mechanism worked. It was beautiful and simple and should never fail.

He scowled as he turned the controls from warm to hot to scalding without success. The water remained cold.

Either someone had adjusted with his personal shower as a prank, or something had gone wrong with the entire system. He tried the faucet on his sink and was met with the same response.

Scowling, he backed from the bathroom and considered the possibilities. He could start disassembling his plumbing and tapping into the system to diagnose the situation, but if it was a citywide incident, maybe someone was already on task.

With that thought, he booted up his laptop to check the schedule for the day. It took no time to find the notice that several people had already reported the problem – no hot water. No one was happy. Some reports were quite 'hot' in their wording. Fortunately, one man was already working on correcting the situation.

Radek noted where the worker was located and his brow furrowed.

Grabbing for his radio, he fitted it on his ear and activated it. "Rodney," he called. "Why are you in hydroponics to repair the issue with the water heating system?"

There was a pause. He called again, "Rodney?"

"I'm kinda busy here," was the irritated sounding response.

"Why are you in hydroponics?" Radek asked again, imagining McKay adjusting and changing all of his hard work.

If possible, the voice returned was even more pissy, "Because that is where the problem is originating. Somebody turned on something that should've been thoroughly tested."

Zelenka felt his face grow a little red at the accusation. "The problem in hydroponics has nothing to do with the watering system," he declared. "You should be in system control, or in the desalinization facility." Radek turned to his dresser and began rifling through the contents. "I will come there and show you," he declared.

"Fine," was McKay's response. "If you're coming, hurry up. I'm fed up with the cold water complaints!" A pause, and he added, "Great, another report just came in. Yes, I know! What do they think I'm doing down here?"

Undoing all my work, Radek thought as he quickly dressed. Ready to go, he regarded himself for in the mirror. With a frown, he dragged a hand through his disheveled hair, trying to tame it. It was unusually riotous this morning. Well, without a shower, there wasn't much he could do, and besides, he had to get to his project.

He left his room and started at a quick trot to the hydroponics lab.