It wasn't all that different of a view than she was used to. The table was circular, the design was foreign, the people were unfamiliar, but it was the same nevertheless. Dr. Weir, she recognized, sat at the front of the table to her left. Across from her was Colonel Cadwell. Another Colonel sat beside him and two others beside him, but she recognized none of them. The last two seemed alien. A civilian sat to the side of Weir; he looked like a scientist.
Sam's gaze fell back on Rodney as his words filtered into her ears. She could follow every word he said, but she also knew that there was only one other person sitting there knew what the hell he was saying. "What McKay is trying to say, is that the ZPM draws its power from subspace when it's initialized, not throughout its lifetime. This device allows it to be reinitialized-"
"Thus drawing more energy from subspace." He turned to look at her with a smirk on his face as he finished for her, "I was getting there."
"Not fast enough." Sam looked back out over at the others. "It's like a battery recharger. When the battery runs dry, you plug it in for a little while and then you're good to go."
"So…" They both looked to Weir, "This basically gives us unlimited power?"
They both looked over at each other, their shoulders rising simultaneously before they looked to Weir again. "Basically."
"And we can take the three depleted ZPMs we have here and recharge them? Bring the whole city back up to full power?"
Sam nodded. She looked to Rodney, who was already focused on Weir as he explained, "Exactly. We'll have shields whenever we need them. We could probably figure out how to submerge the city again, if we wanted. We could explore anywhere in the city without worrying about power drainage… We can go home through the stargate whenever we want." Rodney eyes darted off the other side, finding Cadwell leaning back with his arms crossed over his chest. "No offence or anything, but a week on your ship isn't much fun."
Sam looked to Weir again, "You also have the half-charged ZPM that's running Atlantis now and the one from Antarctica that we brought with us. Both of them can be recharged and brought back to Earth. We can power the Antarctica chair as well as Earth's stargate."
Weir nodded. "Looks like you made one hell of a find."
Rodney and Sam could only smirk at each other. Then Rodney shrugged, "It was nothing."
"Nothing?" Sam slapped him in the gut, "You were just there; you didn't find it."
"But I was there for the finding of the instruction manual."
"And Daniel read it."
He just shrugged. "That's not my job anyway."
Weir coughing caught their attention. The two broke their gaze and looked back over at her. "I'm sure that you two and Dr. Zelenka are anxious to get started with recharging the ZPMs and bringing full power on-line."
"Oh, right." Rodney nodded quickly. Looking down, he shut down his laptop. He nodded awkwardly at Zelenka then and, with his laptop under his arm, headed out of the room. Sam shrugged over at Zelenka before they both scooped up their laptops and followed after him.
"Okay," Rodney sighed as he tapped his fingers, waiting as he watched the ZPM rise out of the console. "Removing the old mostly charged ZedPM," Rodney commented as he carefully grabbed the crystal object and pulled it from its place. "Sam," he nodded to her and she stepped up and around him, placing the freshly powered ZPM into the old one's place. She twisted it into place and gave the top of it a gentle push until it began to slide down into its place on its own.
"So how do you think we should do this? Tap this one off," Rodney lifted the one he was cradling in his hands, "And then grab one of the depleted ones we've got lying around? Then we can power up the station and do a little exploding as we let the other two re-charge?"
Sam nodded her agreement. "Sounds like a plan."
Zelenka shrugged instead. "How long will it take to recharge?"
Rodney shrugged as his eyes moved over to look at Sam. "To fully charge that one took like four hours. So, thirty minutes, tops, on this one I would think."
"Dunno. Something like that I would like. It's still mostly charged."
Zelenka nodded at their estimate then turned his attention to the black case they had set on the floor near the console. He picked it up and snapped the locks open and then lifted the device from its cushioned hold. He looked it over for a moment, playing with the object in his hands for a short time. "How precisely does one operate this thing?"
Sam stepped off the platform and moved over to stand across from him at the console. "It's really simple actually, once you figure it out," she said with a sidelong glance over at Rodney. He just grunted in response. "Just lock in the ZPM." Zelenka glanced at her and then reached out to take the ZPM from Rodney. Rodney handed it over reluctantly, but it stood quietly watching as Zelenka followed Sam's silent instructions to turn the ZPM around and how to set it in. "And, we're pretty sure that you punch in a series of these buttons, we just haven't figured it out yet."
"Pretty sure? How did you re-charge the other one then?"
"Um…" Sam looked over at Rodney, "We just guessed."
"We'll use the trial and error method later to nail it down," Rodney shrugged. "For right now, we've come up with a computer program that does that for us." Zelenka nodded and let Rodney take over at his unpacked his laptop and began hooking it up to the machine. He watched over his shoulder until Rodney glared over at him. Zelenka sighed and took a step back but continued to look over Rodney's shoulder.
"We still haven't come up with a name for this thing yet."
Rodney smirked, never raking his eyes off the laptop screen as he said, "What? You didn't like my earlier suggestion?"
"'The greyish object with seventeen symbols' just doesn't do it for me."
"We could shorten it to GOSS… the goss." She laughed at him, openly smiling as she shook her head at him. Rodney smirked up at her, but it faltered as he looked over at Zelenka, feeling suddenly odd. Zelenka's attention, however, seemed more concentrated on what Rodney was doing on his laptop than the conversation.
"I think 'ZPM charger' will work just fine."
"Boring. You could at least try-" Rodney cut himself off as the glowing of an extra light brightened their workstation. "And that's basically it," he explained with a shrug.
"And when do you plan on using the trial and error approach?" Zelenka looked to Rodney.
He shrugged, then looked to Sam. "We could try it once we start re-charging the Earth ZedPMs."
She rolled her eyes at the smirk on his face. "Gee, thanks."
"No problem… Seriously, though, we should give it a try once we start recharging the last two. It'll take forever but…"
"And Daniel is still looking through that database we found. There might be more there."
"Oh, sure, because they always have schematics and step by step instructions."
"No, but occasionally they give a few hints." He sighed but couldn't help the smirk that had taken up residence on his face.
"Um, it is done glowing." Both Sam and Rodney's eyes turned almost simultaneously to first Zelenka and then down to the ZPM.
"That means it's charged."
"I know that."
"Why didn't you just say that then?" Zelenka grunted; Sam didn't miss how he rolled his eyes at him.
"That was fast."
"Yeah… more like thirty seconds." Rodney tapped his ear piece, "Elizabeth, we're going to cut power again and put a second ZedPM in."
"Sounds good." He smirked. He could hear her excitement seeping through the comm. link.
Rodney nodded over at Zelenka; the Czech began the sequence to cut the city's power. Sam was already carefully twisting the ZPM to release it from the device. Zelenka took the ZPM from Sam's hands as he walked past her. Her eyes found Rodney as she walked around the console. She could see the way he flexed his cheeks and knew that he was restraining himself from jumping in. Sam caught his eye and smiled at him.
"We've got a few hours then before we start exploring the city, then right?"
"Yeah," he nodded at her, "About four or five hours, I guess."
"Well, I'm going to head to my quarters for a while then. Take a nap or something."
She used a quick flash of a smile to be her parting words and retreated from the room. Rodney watched her go until he heard a muffled chuckle near by. "What?"
Zelenka snorted then. "It is nothing."
"No, you're chuckling. You don't chuckle."
Zelenka looked at him, brows creasing. "I don't chuckle?"
"You chuckle, just not often. What's so funny?"
He shrugged at first before he smirked. "So you and Colonel Carter seem to be getting along quite well?"
Rodney swallowed and looked behind them. "You think?"
"Think? McKay, we're you even listening to your conversation?" Zelenka started laughing again. Rodney just elbowed him in the side. "Well I'm going to go get something to eat. You want to come?"
"Yeah, sure. Was it really that obvious?"
"Hey, Cadman? Could I have a word with you?" he called as he took a few jogging steps closer to her.
She paused, long enough to turn around and see him falling into step with her. "Sure. What's up, McKay?"
He shrugged, shifting awkwardly under her gaze. His hand rose to rub at his neck as he began walking a little faster. "Um… Can I ask you… some questions?"
He looked away at that. "About…" he bobbed his head back and forth, suddenly feeling like his embarrassment might send him running away. "Women…"
He glanced over at him, almost afraid to see what her reaction would be. Her lips were twitching; he could tell she was just one controlled thought away from cracking up at him. "So you want my help now, eh?"
"Yes, well you're not that… imposing when you're not in my head."
"It was easier when I was in your head."
He laughed awkwardly at her before suddenly shaking his head, "Okay, could we agree to discuss that as little as possible."
She laughed then, shrugging, "Sure." He let her voice resonate into silence as they walked a little further. "So what kind of women advice do you need?"
He looked over at him, rolling his eyes as if the answer seemed perfectly obvious. But then he sighed and looked away, his tongue rolling over his lips as he tried to think of the right thing to say. "I like… this person."
Cadman smirked at him. "And?" she groaned, making a face at him, letting him know that she wanted him to continue.
"And?" His shoulders rose and his hands flailed around uncertainly. Then he just sighed, "And that's what I need your help with. What should I do about it?"
She shook her head at him. "You could always ask her out."
He shook his head back. "But I don't know how she feels about me."
"Then ask her."
"But what if she doesn't like me? I mean… no one really ever seems to be able to do more than tolerate me. But she tolerates me very well. I don't know if that means anything-"
"Rodney! Shut up!"
"Who is she, anyway?"
He couldn't look at her for a moment, embarrassment reddening his cheeks. He only looked when she smacked him in the arm. She made a face, showing that she was still waiting for her answer. "Colonel Samantha Carter. You probably don't know her."
"Yeah, sure I do. Colonel Carter of SG-1."
He shrugged. "Right. Of course."
"So what happened to Katie Brown?"
"Um… we broke it off."
"Yes, well you kind of… creeped her out."
"Oh, sorry." She paused in her questions and he took the time to look away and puff out a breath. "So… You like this Sam? The only way you're going to find out if she likes you is to either ask her how she feels or ask her out on a date and find out for yourself."
He looked at her and sighed, nodding. "Right. Thanks."
Rodney nodded, snapping his fingers as he turned around and began to walk away. Cadman shook her head at him, smirking as she continued forward.
Suddenly Rodney u-turned and took a few quick steps to catch back up to her. "What should we do on our date?"
"Just do something simple. Dinner."
"But not in the commissary."
He looked at her for a moment before smiling. "Right."
"Somewhere like, I don't know-"
"I've got a spot. Thanks."
"Sure," she sighed, "No problem."
He turned around again. She shook her head as she glanced behind her to watch as he walked away. She turned back to watch where she was going just in time to miss him u-turn again, his fingers snapping in thought.
"One last thing." Cadman just smirked at him. "What should I say?"
Confusion burrowed her brows together just as amusement pulled at her lips. "Hmm… How about, 'Hey, Sam, wanna go get something to eat with me? I know a great spot with a gorgeous view'. I'm just assuming that there's a gorgeous view."
He snapped his fingers together again, "Oh that's good," he nodded, "Perfect." He turned again and began walking away. "Thanks," he called over his shoulder.
Cadman just shook her head and began walking again. She stopped suddenly, turning and watching as Rodney turned a corner. She sighed and shook her head, laughing suddenly at the entire conversation.
He stepped up to the door, awkwardly looking around himself, checking to make sure no one was there to see him. Swiping his hand over the access terminal, he rocked on his heels, waiting for an answer. Most people on Atlantis had taken to leaving their doors unlocked and to simply call out, but that was assuming they were ever in their quarters, which Rodney would admit he hardly saw his longer than a few hours a day on a good week. This door, however, was locked against unwanted visitors; Rodney didn't take anything by it.
It took a moment of him waiting, wondering if maybe he had disturbed her shower or that perhaps she wasn't even inside, just before the door slid open to admit him into the room. Just as he went to step forward, Sam appeared in the doorway. He sighed, forcing a smile on his lips before she saw his nervousness. "Hey."
"Hi." Her voice alone was enough to make him blush; his eyes immediately darted away. That was when he noticed her attire- simple grey jogging pants and a white t-shirt with 'AIR FORCE' printed on the front.
"Were you still in bed?"
"No," her brows pulled together, her tone expression her confusion. She glanced down at herself, shaking her head at him, "I was going for a run."
"A run? Why?" She looked at him, opening her mouth to respond, but Rodney continued, not yet finished with his rant, "That's just… wrong," he managed to say about her running, "People aren't meant to get up and exercise."
"Oh please. You must do some kind of work out to stay in shape."
"Sure," he said with a shrug, crossing his arms over his chest, "I do the occasional push-up. Crunches now and then."
"Push-up? As in singular?"
"Yeah, you don't need more than that."
"What, being naturally fit is a crime these days?" She just laughed at him. "Oh yeah, and there's that matter of being chased by aliens. I'd call that a workout. There's kilometre after kilometre to walk on those damn planets. That's a workout. See, I workout, I just don't enjoy doing it."
Sam was laughing at him, but Rodney found he didn't care, because he was far more memorized by her laughter. When she finally contained herself, she asked why he was there. Rodney took a moment to hear the question and then remember an answer. "Oh, well, I was going to ask if you, um, wanted to get something to eat with me, but I guess if you're so busy with this running thing…"
Sam rolled her eyes at him, stepping out of her doorway. "I'll be… twenty minutes, tops. Can I meet you there then?" Rodney's eyes found the ceiling and he made a dramatic face to show that he was considering the option. "McKay!"
The use of his last name got his attention quickly. Her smile was the only thing that kept his light mood alive. "Fine, fine. Twenty minutes? I'll hold you to that."
"It might be more like twenty-one minutes."
"Nope. You've got twenty minutes exactly and I eat with out you. Starting… now. Better get going."
She laughed at him, spinning back around to be facing the right direction. Rodney chuckled lightly as she took off down the hall; shaking his head he closed her door for her and headed back to his quarters. She was trying to kill him. Wearing those sweats, being all cute, and making him wait as his nerves increased exponentially.
He mostly paced as he waited. It didn't exactly calm the nerves, or dissipate the nerves, or really do anything for them. In fact, it actually made them a little worse.
Finally her time was running out and Rodney made his way towards the cafeteria. He smirked when he noticed her- hair wet and tousled and her hands tucked into her jeans pockets as she leaned against the wall.
She smirked at him and pushed off from the wall. "Hey."
"How was your run?"
"Wonderful. You should join me next time." He chuckled a little at the thought and tossed his head from side to side. "Shall we?" He creased his brows at the question before he saw her gesturing to the cafeteria's doors. Then he smirked and shook his head.
It almost wasn't awkward when he wrapped his fingers around her elbow and pulled her gently away from the door and further down the corridor. "Actually, I had a differently place in mind."
"Oh yeah? Where's that?"
She was smirking as they neared the southern pier, still trying to prod the answer out of him. But he just smiled and shook his head, trying desperately to push away the nervousness filling his stomach again. He was focusing on remembering all the tips Cadman had given him.
"All right, close your eyes."
"Close my eyes?"
"Trust me." She smiled and shook her head, but shut her eyes even as she did. He took her by the shoulders and gently led her forward, releasing her right only long enough to open the door. "All right… open them."
"Oh… wow!" She twisted around to look at him. Rodney could only grin at her face. She took a few steps forward, stopping where he knew she could see how high over the ocean they were. The sun was hanging low over the horizon, colouring the water with its red hues. "This is absolutely stunning."
"Yeah, it's pretty here."
They ate in relative silence after she had taken the time to absorb the view. Rodney picked at the remains of his sandwich as the sun finally touched the horizon. "So… you leave in two days?"
"Yep. Wednesday. 1700 hours."
"Kind of wish you could stay longer. I wouldn't mind a sane mind hanging around the lab for a while."
She smirked. "Yeah, I know what you mean. But my orders were to stay just until we figured out the device. Besides, I'd kind of like to bring the ZPM back."
"Right…" Rodney shifted against the wall, looking away for a moment before he looked back at her. "So, um, this might sound weird but I wanted to thank you for being there for me a little while back in a rather… desperate situation."
"You're right. That sounded a little weird."
He chuckled awkwardly, but stopped himself short as he looked away and tried desperately to remember why this sounded good in his head. "Well, um… I don't know if you read the mission report but I was sinking in one of the puddle jumpers when it… well crashed-"
"Yes, I'm familiar with that incident. I'm just not sure how I got involved with it?"
"Right, um, you see," he sighed and twisted to look at her, "You were there. Well, you weren't there, obviously but you… I hit my head pretty hard," he said with a twirling motion of his finger towards his forehead, "and I imagined that you were there helping me. Because… Well you really helped me to stay focused and keep me alive until Sheppard and Zelenka were able to get to me and I just wanted to say thank-you."
She smiled, a sort of awkward, uncomfortable gesture of appreciation. "You're welcome, I guess." He just shrugged and looked back out to the ocean, resisting the urge to shudder at the creeping memories. "I wasn't naked was I?"
"Hmm?" His eyes darted back to find hers. They were smiling and yet her face seemed on the verge of being disgusted.
"I was naked, wasn't I?"
"Um… well, partially." And then her expression crossed over into disgust. Her eyes rolled away from him and yet a laugh managed to escape. "Only for a couple of minutes. You make a rather dull fantasy when one is near death."
"You ever experience something like that?"
"Hallucinations?" He looked over at her bemused expressions. He was sure she had lived through her fair share of drug induced, alien induced, and injury induced hallucinations.
"No… Well yes. I mean… hallucinating someone you trust to help you out of a tough spot."
She smiled a little. He wondered if it was the slip about trusting her or the question itself. "Yes. Once."
"I hallucinated my team while trapped on the Prometheus."
"Hmm… When you were trapped in that… energy cloud?"
"Did they help?"
"A lot. Surprisingly."
He just nodded, looking away again, his eyes settling on the sight of the sun lowering even further beneath the horizon. Sam's eyes however didn't stray from his relaxed face. She smiled lightly at him. She was surprised at him. He had changed so much since she had met him; since he had left for Atlantis really. He was… nicer was the only way to put it. His sarcasm had dulled some, making his wit funnier, cuter. And he didn't seem to be trying as hard. As if he had finally found his place in the world and was comfortable with it.
"Um… What do- um… Do you want- I mean… I'm just going to shut up now." She laughed lightly as he bumbled through his thoughts. He finally just looked at her, his face begging her to help him out.
"Are you trying to ask me what I'd like to do now?"
"Just sitting here is kind of nice."
He smiled, nodding as he shifted into a more comfortable position. "Then we shall sit here… until our butts go numb and we need to get up."
"That would be a good time to stop sitting here."
"I thought so."
She laughed. And yet, despite how much he had changed, he was the same old Rodney, just a little easier to be around. She kind of liked the new him. And that kind of scared her. She wasn't really sure what to think about the how thing. And she honestly didn't really want to. She would be leaving soon, not knowing when the next time she would see him would be. She just wanted to enjoy what time left she had with him.
He could tell that every person in the control room would rather that he leave. Chuck had long ago taken over the job of dialling Earth and monitoring the power outage. Rodney didn't really have much of a job in the control room during such diallings anymore. And yet it made him feel better to wait impatiently, standing and looking at the computer over the technician's shoulder.
"Wormhole established," Chuck said as he looked over his shoulder. Rodney grunted down at him, his eyes straying not to the glowing blue circle but to where Sam was standing off to the side, hands stuffed in her pockets as she waited to go through.
He sighed. He had been dreading that moment.
"Hey, Sam." She smiled up at him. He gestured to her from the top of the stairs to join her up there. She sighed and scooped up her bag, slinging it over her shoulder before jogging up the stairs. She followed him as he lead her a few steps into the corner and away from the hustle of moving everyone and everything through the gate.
"Um… Well this is probably kind of late to be asking this, but… Is there any chance that this-" He sighed, his fingers weaving through the air to gesture between the two of them. "Whatever this is, possibly work?"
"It would bring long-distance relationship to a whole new level," she tried to smirk and he huffed in an awkward attempt at amusement.
"Yeah…" He sighed. "But I wasn't really asking how we're going to make it work… What I was more asking was… are you willing to try?"
She couldn't look at him. There had some moments when she thought, maybe, she could stay there on Atlantis and that, maybe, something could happen. But then she thought about her life back on Earth and her job there. She sighed. "I… I don't know, Rodney. I want to say that I'd like to have something, but… I can't promise anything."
"I'm not sure I understand what you're saying."
"I really have no idea what I feel for you, Rodney. I'm… You- you confuse me. I thought I had you figured out. You were just another arrogant jackass genius that got on my nerves and looked at me the wrong way-"
"Sorry about that." A blush darkened his cheeks; a soft smile pulled at her lips at how embarrassed he looked.
She stepped closer to him, her hand reaching up until it made contact wit his warm skin. "But you've changed a lot, Rodney," she smiled as the pad of her thumb brushed over his jaw, "You're actually rather cute."
"That's a compliment, trust me."
"As long as you say so." She stepped away, letting her hand slowly drop to her side. He looked off to the side, watching medical staff carefully walk their patients through the gate. There was still equipment littering the gateroom floor. Sam just rocked on her heels, adjusting her bag's strap.
"When we send through the next round of personal messages," she looked over at him at the sound of his voice. Soft blue eyes were staring back at her. "Look for one with your name on it."
She smiled at him. "Okay…"
"They're almost done sending the equipment through."
She nodded. "I should get going then."
"Yeah," he shrugged, his hands stuffing themselves in his pocket. Sam nodded, taking a step away. "Um?"
Rodney's eyes shifted off to the side for a pause before they focused on her. He stepped towards her, closing the space that she had made between them. One hand reached up to cup her cheek, pulling her even closer.
"Well, I guess this is goodbye."
"For now." She smiled and shook her head at him. "Bye."
He watched her take a few steps backwards before finally spinning around to jog down the stairs. She turned to smile up at him when she reached the gate. He pulled one hand free from his pockets to wave down at her. With one awkward wave of her hand and two steps backwards towards the gate, she disappeared from sight.
Well that's it... for now anyway. There are some thoughts for more, so hopefully I'll get it written before too long. Just keep harassing me. I'll let those who reviewed know if something is going to happen.
But, in the mean time, drop a review. Let me know what you think. Let me know what you'd be interested in seeing in a hypothetical chapter.
Thanks for reading!