Just Us Few
By Leesa Perrie
Set after The Return, Part 2
Elizabeth had told everyone the good news; that General O'Neill said they could stay on Atlantis, much to everyone's relief.
Sheppard was particularly relieved to find out he wasn't sacked.
After McKay reset the macros so that they could contact Earth and General Landry via the gate bridge, it was agreed that Woolsey would return immediately to discuss the situation with the IOA, and to recommend that Weir and her senior staff not be relieved of duty. O'Neill elected to remain for the time being, part of him curious to see the city in the hands Elizabeth and the others, and part of him reluctant to leave it solely in their hands at the same time.
The Daedalus beamed down some supplies; food, drinks, toiletries, laptops and other assorted necessities, along with a handful of marines and scientists to hold the fort, so to speak, until those Expedition personnel who wished to return could be recalled. It then headed back to Earth, to ferry back the larger supplies that couldn't be gated to Atlantis via the gate bridge, and some of the personnel that were not urgently required.
General Landry had been given a list of personnel who should be considered a priority to contact. The list included a couple of doctors, some nurses, gate techs, military, especially Major Lorne, and scientists, most especially Zelenka. Elizabeth had smiled and suggested he was probably top priority, to ensure that McKay had someone to discuss all the new things he was discovering thanks to the Ancients and the Replicators, so that his brain didn't overload and explode on them.
McKay had merely muttered something under his breath about not inflating Radek's ego more than it already was, and went back to checking out the newly restored systems.
John persuaded a dubious Carson into piloting Woolsey back to the SGC, and then returning the next day with a few personnel, on the basis that he could take the time to nip over to his apartment and check on his turtles. Carson wasn't fooled; he knew John was not looking forward to facing General Landry and intended to put it off as long as possible, and if it wasn't for the fact he was worried about his pets, he would never have agreed to go.
Once Woolsey and Carson were gone, and the personnel from the Daedalus were primed in the basics of keeping Atlantis safe, for example the use of the gate shield, Weir suggested that everybody got some rest. Sheppard suggested everyone took rooms close to the control room and close to each other, as their own quarters were rather too spread out for his liking, from a security point of view. A suggestion O'Neill agreed with.
It was an hour after everyone was supposed to have retired, when Jack wandered into the control room, needing to do a final check before heading for bed, when he stopped to watch McKay, who was showing no signs of getting to sleep any time soon, as he worked.
He still didn't like the man, but had to admit, to himself at least, that there was more to McKay than met the eye. He'd read the mission reports after all, but still found it hard to believe that McKay – McKay – of all people was not only on Atlantis' foremost team – their very own version of SG1 as he liked to think of them – but actually wanted to be on the team. And the team wanted him, too.
It boggled his mind. Even more so as he now realised just how much a part of the team he was, and just how much the team seemed to like the cranky pain in the ass. Even Elizabeth seemed to like him, though maybe that shouldn't be that much of a surprise. She was quite capable of handling difficult people, and seeing beneath their bluster to whatever lay beneath it. And obviously something good lay beneath McKay's myriad personality flaws.
Even Carter seemed to have mellowed towards the man a tiny bit. He shook his head at that.
And it was McKay's plan that saved Atlantis, and therefore his own butt. He didn't like being in the man's debt, or in the debt of the rest of them either for that matter. He thought they were all crazy. Just what had Sheppard been thinking of, bringing along Elizabeth, not to mention that Beckett guy, on a dangerous mission like this? Definitely crazy.
But perhaps no more crazy than some of the stunts that he and SG1 had pulled in the past, though usually to save Earth, not just some alien city, no matter how advanced it may be.
He had a light bulb moment and realised something he hadn't really considered before recent events. What he and SG1 had done was to protect their home, and what Sheppard and the others had done was no different.
He'd heard from various sources that none of them had been happy back on Earth, even McKay with his hand picked team and the huge resources thrown at his projects. O'Neill had assumed they would adjust, after all, Earth was home and they could keep in contact with the friends they'd made in Atlantis.
But it wasn't home anymore, not to them, not entirely. And judging by what he had seen of this bunch since the Replicators had been dealt with, they were more than friends. They were family.
Who appeared to be in seventh heaven right now with three ZPMs to play with, and all the repairs that the Replicators had made. Obsessed even, which made him think of Daniel and Sam and how obsessed they could get with their own projects at times.
Damn scientists got excited by the strangest of things.
Elizabeth appeared by his side.
"I thought you had retired to your room?" she asked.
"And I thought you had."
"Just felt the need to check on things again. I suspect I'm not the only one," she suggested.
"No," he admitted, looking over at McKay. "He seems very…dedicated."
"Very," she agreed. "He hasn't slept since…before we left Earth."
"You could make it an order," Jack suggested, curious to see if McKay would follow it if she did.
"No. I think I'll leave it to John," she said, adding wryly. "I prefer to save orders for more pressing times."
He raised an eyebrow at her, but she just smiled, looking back to the control room as Sheppard entered and approached McKay.
"Besides," she admitted. "This holds the promise of more…entertainment value."
"McKay, you still up?" John asked.
"Hmm," Rodney replied absently, before the comment registered. "What? Yes, yes, I'm still up, evidenced by the fact that I'm still up. One would have hoped you'd be past making such blatantly obvious statements by now, Colonel."
"Obviously not," Sheppard replied with a grin at McKay's glare of death sent his way.
"Oh, just go away and bother someone else," Rodney said, irritated by the failure of his death glare. He should have known better by now than to waste it on someone as irritatingly immune as Sheppard was. "I'll bet Teyla is just dying to beat you up with her sticks. I'm sure she must have missed that pleasure whilst we were in exile."
"She's where you should be, in bed, and we were hardly in exile."
"Oh, and what else would you call it?" McKay quirked an eyebrow in question, before continuing. "And just how many team members did you go through at the SGC, by the way?" McKay smiled smugly. "Couldn't find another me, could you?"
"There is no other you, McKay. At least not in this universe, thankfully."
Silence fell for a few minutes as McKay's attention was diverted by something on one of the monitors.
"So, what're you doing?" John asked.
"Trying to find out just what the Ancients and Replicators did to my city whilst I was gone."
"Yes, my city. I'm the one that keeps this place running; I'm the one who comes up with the brilliant plans to save it from disaster on a far more regular occurrence than I'd like. So, my city."
"Uh, huh, and of course the rest of us never do anything to save Atlantis or keep it running either," John said dryly.
"Oh, you have your parts to play, of course. But still, my city." Though there was a hint of a smile around Rodney's mouth as he said it.
O'Neill, who had been watching this with a smirk on his face, looked at Elizabeth quizzically.
"His city, not yours?"
"Sometimes it's better to let him have his little delusions," she commented with dry humour. "But I think he's trying to wind John up more than anything else. Sometimes they're like a couple of ten year olds."
"So," John said nonchalantly. "You going to get some rest?"
"What? Hmm, oh, later. Do you realise just what we have now? I mean, Atlantis was amazing before this, but now? We have three ZPM's. Three! And the Replicators fixed a lot of the damaged parts of the city, including some of the previously flooded areas. They even fixed the stardrive after Beckett blew it up, but we stopped them before they could use it. We could fly Atlantis!" McKay's eyes were wide with enthusiasm, and his hands were gesturing wildly. "And you seriously expect me to rest? There's too much to do, too much to find out about. I need to work out which areas have been fixed or not. Just think of all those new areas we can explore now, who knows what could be down there?"
"Yeah, black energy clouds, maybe another deadly nanovirus or three, or even some failed experiment just waiting for an unwary scientist to come along and get hurt by?"
"Fine. Be like that if you must. But in amongst all of that, there could be the answer to dealing with one of our many enemies in this galaxy and back home."
John sighed. A manic McKay in the beginnings of sleep deprivation was not going to be easy to bring down. He wished Beckett was here to threaten to sedate Rodney. Perhaps he should have gone back instead? A pissed General or a manic physicist? Not much between them really.
So, Plan A, to talk the stubborn Canadian into going to bed, had failed just as he'd suspected it would. Time for Plan B.
Due to the lack of security, they had not only taken rooms close to the control room, but the food was now in the main rec room, as this was closer than the mess hall. Plan B depended on that.
"Okay, so not sleeping anytime soon," Sheppard commented. "In which case, you need some coffee, and I'm betting some food wouldn't go amiss now either?"
Rodney paused in his work momentarily.
"Bring me something," it was part demand, part request.
McKay glared at him, and Sheppard crossed his arms, leaning back against a nearby console.
"Look, you need a break. Ten minutes to eat, and you'll feel much better, I'm sure. This can wait for ten minutes, surely?" he cajoled.
"Humph. I'll get one of this lot," he waved a hand at the Daedalus scientists close by, "To go and get me something."
"They've got more important things to do, like ensure we don't get invaded whilst the rest of us sl… take a few minutes out to rest."
Rodney muttered something under his breath in annoyance.
"Come on, McKay," John continued to cajole. "Food, Rodney. A choice of your favourite MREs. Not to mention blue Jell-O and chocolate. Chocolate, Rodney! And coffee, lots and lots of coffee…"
"Okay, okay, fine," Rodney snapped. "I'll take ten minutes to get some food if it'll shut you up!"
"Good. You'd better hurry as well, I believe Ronon's making quite a dent in the Jell-O…"
"He'd better leave me some," Rodney said grumpily, getting to his feet. "You coming?"
"I'll be along in a minute. Just want to have a quick word with Elizabeth."
Sheppard wandered over to where Elizabeth and O'Neill had been watching as McKay left for the rec room.
"Don't tell me McKay's stubbornness has you beat," Jack said, expecting more from Sheppard than that.
"You wound me, sir," John said, a sneaky look entering his eyes.
"Do I want to ask? Or am I better off not knowing what you've got up your sleeve?" Elizabeth queried, knowing her military commander too well. John gave a quick laugh and smiled.
"Nothing to worry about," he reassured her. "Teyla, Ronon and myself will be bedding down in the main rec room, hope you don't mind. The food and stuff can go next door."
"And Rodney will be joining you?" Elizabeth quirked an eyebrow.
"Yes. He's exhausted, even if he doesn't want to acknowledge it. A nice comfy couch, some soft soothing music, some food and decaf coffee…he'll be asleep before he knows it. Ronon's got a mattress from one of the rooms and is going to sleep in front of the door, so if Rodney does wake up he'll have to get past Ronon…and Rodney's too smart to try and tiptoe past him, especially as he'll have to actually step over him…"
"I take it Ronon is a light sleeper," Jack stated.
"Yeah. Of course, Rodney's somehow got the impression that waking a sleeping Ronon is a good way to find a knife at your throat. Can't imagine where he got that idea from, the guy's too sharp to wake up like that," John shrugged his shoulders, the innocent expression on his face not fooling anyone for a moment.
"So I take it Teyla and you will be on the other two couches?" Elizabeth asked.
"Of course. Back up, just in case McKay gets brave."
"Seems like you've got everything in hand then," she said with a grin and a shake of her head.
"Yeah, we've got McKay. I hope you're going to get some rest as well. Or do I tell Beckett when he gets back that you haven't slept…"
Elizabeth rolled her eyes at his threat.
"Yes, I'm going. I just wanted to check everything was fine, which it is."
"Same here," Jack said.
They headed down the corridor together, Sheppard saying goodnight before ducking into the main rec room, where they could hear the sound of soft conversation.
Jack said goodnight to Elizabeth, and went into his own room next door.
He still thought they were all crazy, but he had to grudgingly admire their determination to save Atlantis, as well as Woolsey and himself. It took guts to do what they did, and not just this recent adventure either.
It was easy to forget that just being here, in the Pegasus galaxy, was a thing of bravery in itself. Easy also to forget that a certain mild-mannered doctor had been off world several times, which took guts; that a cranky, pain in the ass astrophysicist had risked his life to save Atlantis and his friends, more than once, even risking his sanity by taking a large does of Wraith enzyme; that an easy-going, laid-back pilot had taken control of a city, had protected it at all costs, and had even worked out how to handle said cranky, pain in the ass astrophysicist; that a tough diplomat had made hard decisions, had gone off world despite the fact that all worlds could contain danger, no matter how friendly the locals might seem, and had earned the respect of her command staff; something he suspected was not easily done, especially with Sheppard and McKay.
A little bit of craziness wasn't such a bad thing. Sometimes the potential gains far outweighed the risks involved, something he knew from his time with SG1.
He smiled to himself. He knew that Atlantis was in more than capable hands.
But he still couldn't stand McKay.