Title: Music to my Ears.
Setting: Second season.
Disclaimer: All characters etc are owned by someone else. No money made. No copyright infringements intended.
Summary: Being in tune with Atlantis becomes more than just an expression. First person POV.
As always, Beta'ed by Kiky – Thanks again for the excellent suggestions and help.
A/N - A short three parter - A middle, a beginning and an end.
Music to my Ears.
A loud jarring note woke me.
I swung my legs over the side of the high bed and gently lowered myself to the floor; the cold of the tiles making me flinch as my bare feet touched the ground. A plain white over-jacket hung from the back of a chair and I wrapped it around me, tying it closed for warmth.
The unpleasant noise was getting louder, filling my chest with its clamour. Looking around the room I could see no other people, but the door was open and I left, hoping to discover the source of the grating sound.
I padded along empty corridors, following the sound, until I reached a large room with a black metal box in the centre.
The discord in my chest was loud enough now to reach my ears. It came from the metal box, which was attached via a long wire to a small flat pad covered in tiny keys.
A thin man with straggly hair was tapping frantically on the keys, but his efforts were having no effect on the discordant noise.
"May I?" He turned to look at me as I spoke. His blue eyes widened behind round glass lenses and his mouth fell open.
"Rodney? What are you…"
The noise was becoming unbearable now, and I stepped past him and stood before the instrument that he had been using.
The problem was obvious; the metal box was out of tune with everything else. I ran my hands experimentally over the tiny keys, discovering to my delight the liquid music that they produced.
I closed my eyes and composed a short piece to resolve the cacophony. As I played the last note, the strident discord segued into a gentle melody. I opened my eyes again and took a deep breath, holding it for a moment as the music in my heart swelled. I listened as the new tune that I had created intertwined with all the other harmonies in the air around me.
A voice from the doorway broke the spell and I turned to see a tall, tousle-haired man, all in black, standing there. I smiled at him, still enjoying the moment.
"Radek, what's he doing here?" The tall man had turned his question to the man beside me, who was now staring at a small flat screen.
"I honestly don't know, Colonel." The man called Radek tapped twice on a key, but the notes he produced sounded flat. "One of the Ancient power distribution units was overloading and I could not shut it down, then Rodney just appeared and…" he squinted at the screen, "it now seems to be working perfectly." He looked up at the man he had called Colonel, "At 120 percent efficiency."
The tall man looked at me and drew his brows together. "Rodney, are you okay?" He seemed intent on my reply, but I was unsure of his meaning. Now that the harmony had been restored I felt fine, but I had an impression that he meant something more. I was about to ask him what, when the smaller man spoke.
"Colonel Sheppard," Radek's voice sounded excited as he hunched over the tiny keys. "I have no idea how he did it, but he's completely rewritten the unit's power flow subroutine. I've never seen code like this before." He tapped again on the keys, and peered at the screen. "I don't even know how he persuaded the interface to accept these commands." He started muttering to himself in a language that I couldn't understand.
On a nearby bench sat several more of the flat keyboards. Picking one up, I turned to face the black clothed man who now seemed to be in charge. "May I take one of these?" I asked.
"Ah, not that one, please." The smaller man gently took the flat pad from my hands and replaced it on the bench. He looked at Colonel Sheppard who raised a single eyebrow. "That is McKay's own laptop." Radek offered, apparently in explanation. "There are things on it that we will need if he doesn't regain…" He stopped abruptly, glancing at me with a strange expression on his face.
The other man's eyes narrowed. "He will." There was a fierce determination in the statement that left no room for debate.
I picked up another of the flat pads and looked questioningly at both men. They exchanged glances and the tousle-haired man nodded at me so I settled down on a stool and began to run my fingers over the keys. I was immersed in the pleasing melody that I was creating when I became conscious of the small man looking over my shoulder at the screen that stood at an angle to the keyboard. I shifted slightly to allow him a better view and continued.
"Colonel," Radek's tone was hushed, as though he did not want to interrupt me, but the other man came over to stand behind us both. "Colonel, I don't know exactly what he is doing, but this is…" He stopped for a moment as if searching for a word. "This is amazing."
Radek leaned closer over my shoulder and his eyes skittered across the screen. "Rodney, do you know what this does?"
I considered my answer for a moment. "If it's allowed to combine with the music it will resolve some of the dissonance."
He turned to me with furrowed brows. "What music?"
I was puzzled by the question. Almost everything in the room was part of the music, including the three of us. The black-clothed man was most in tune with the world around him, I added to the symphony; even Radek was in harmony to a lesser degree.
"Rodney!" A new voice spoke my name so I stopped playing and turned to the door.
"Rodney, oh thank god." The lilting voice belonged to a dark-haired man wearing a long, white coat over a pale shirt. He glared angrily at the men with me. "Colonel Sheppard, did you not think to call me when you found him?"
"Sorry, Doc." Colonel Sheppard's hand fell onto my shoulder and squeezed gently. "But Rodney here has just shut down an overloading power distribution unit and I guess I got a little carried away." He sounded pleased, as if I had done something difficult.
The white-coated man gave me a piercing look before turning back to Colonel Sheppard. "D'you mean he remembered how to?" He demanded.
It was Radek who replied. "I don't think so, Doctor. What he is doing now seems to be on a different, almost subconscious, level."
The newcomer walked over to me and took my wrist between his fingers and thumb, looking down at something strapped to his own wrist. After a few moments, he let my hand fall and took a small black cylinder from his top pocket. "Okay, now can you tell me who you are?" He shone a bright light into my eye as he spoke and I screwed up my eyes in discomfort.
"My name is Rodney." I replied, turning around to the men standing behind me for confirmation.
"Sorry, Doc." The black-clothed man rubbed his neck and looked sheepish. "I guess we all sort of told him that."
"Okay, then. Can you tell me where you are?"
I looked around the room, taking in the details for the first time. It was high ceilinged with dark walls and a red squared floor. Around the walls were tall banks of blinking lights, and on metal benches sat a number of boxes, similar to the one in the middle of the room, many of them adding to the musical harmony around me. It was a pleasant room, but nothing about it was familiar. I shook my head.
The white-coated man returned the cylinder to his pocket and put a hand to his left ear. "Elizabeth, this is Carson; we've found him. He made his way to his lab."
I looked towards the door, expecting to see whoever he was talking to, but the doorway remained empty.
After a short pause, the man called Carson continued speaking. "No, I'm afraid not." He looked down at me. "In fact, if anything, it seems to be getting worse. I'm taking him back to the infirmary with me now." He gently took my elbow and encouraged me to stand. As I did so, a feeling of dizziness rolled over me and my legs gave way. I would have fallen if strong hands hadn't caught me and helped me back onto the stool.
"Thank you, Colonel." Carson spoke over my head as he again took my wrist in his hand. I was content to just sit and wait until the dizziness passed while Carson again flashed the light in my eyes.
"D'you want to try that again, Rodney, or shall I order a stretcher?" The lilting voice sounded anxious but I slowly got to my feet without help. I reached over to the bench and lifted the keyboard and screen that I had been using. When no one complained, I tucked it carefully under my arm and allowed Carson to lead me from the room and back along the corridors, now busy with people. Many of them looked at me as we passed; some with a smile, but mostly with a mixture of curiosity and concern.
By the time we reached the room in which I'd woken, my legs felt heavy and my head had started to ache. I listened for a few moments to the melody in the air, but, within seconds of lying back down on the high bed, my eyes closed and I fell asleep.