On Any Given Day
On Any Given Day -Good people can do bad things - Bad people can do good things and Smart people can do really stupid things
The Watch Stander © 2006
I just want to Thank everyone for reading my stories, as one of them had over 36,000 hits! Wow! That story was also nominated by a very nice person for the Stargate Awards! Yes! Thank you!
Disclaimer: SONY & MGM own Atlantis and all of it's characters. The wonderful interpretation of these characters is owned by the cast of Atlantis. The fun of writing this story about these characters is owned by me and is in no way intended to infringe on any of these rights and is done without payment or profit on my part.
I felt a follow up story to Trinity was needed as both John and Rodney have fences to mend and bridges to cross. They need to come to grips with what has happened and how each has handled the situation. There are several wonderful music vids that were an inspiration to write this, along with the need to make it better between the characters. They really needed a follow up story. I know there are quite a few already written, but I decided to finish this and get it out of my system. The story will be under a hundred pages and is already 80 percent finished.
This was half-written last year, before I saw the rest of season two and before I wrote The Last Piece. Hopefully I've kept everyone pretty much in character, but this was my first story so . . .
Anyhow, hope you enjoy it.
It's angst, some humor, friendship and of course whump to a certain character. Guess who!
Rating T - just incase of sensitive ears- no slash
CHAPTER ONE - The Fallen One
Why had it all gone so very wrong?
Dr. Rodney McKay wondered to himself as he sat quietly in his lab, staring at his laptop screen, looking for answers, but deep inside he knew, it was obvious even to him:
That on any given day, genius scientists can do very stupid things.
It was the Arcturus weapon that put an end to all the good things that he had accomplished on Atlantis after allowing himself to believe that he could do something that the ancients couldn't. Once again his arrogance had gained him nothing but heartache.
His very own words spoken to Sheppard came back to haunt him now . . .
I know what I'm doing . . .
He had even gone so far as to use Sheppard's friendship to get what he wanted; thinking that sacrificing that friendship wasn't as important as proving that he could make the weapon work.
I won't let you down . . .
Instead, he'd failed and proved that he was no longer the superman they all believed him to be. In the end it had cost him more than he could bear or was willing to lose. Sheppard would never trust him again unless he proved himself all over again. He wasn't sure he could play that game. It was too hard to win. Always on the defensive and never knowing that whatever he did or said was right or wrong. There would always be doubt about every decision he made.
All of this made him wish there was some way he could go back in time and avoid the discovery of the weapon entirely. He wanted his reputation and his standing in Atlantis back, but most of all, he wanted Elizabeth's and Sheppard's friendship back. There wasn't anything that he wouldn't give for that second chance . . .
It wasn't going to happen though, even he knew that.
How the mighty have fallen . . .
Someone in the mess hall this morning said it out loud as Rodney passed their table, but he just kept on walking, knowing that it was true and that he was no longer the man with all the answers, but just another arrogant scientist that everyone despised.
Elizabeth had been furious and Sheppard had turned his back on him, telling Rodney that he no longer trusted him.
No apology was ever going to change the fact, that their friendship was gone, destroyed by his own hand; from that point on it had been a short spiral down to where he was now, a hated and bitter man.
He had fallen about as low as he could go, working by himself in his lab, eating alone and shunned by many of the scientists he thought were friends.
No where to run and no one to run to. I've really messed up this time. Why don't I ever learn that even I can't fix everything? I'm not superman!
Resting his elbows on the bench, he held his aching head between his hands - trying to block out the picture of Collins' charred body.It was his fault the scientist had died, there was no denying that and it was a bitter lesson learned.
Whenever he tried to sleep, the night kept closing in on him, bringing the faces of dead colleagues with it. Their faces taunting him, asking him why he had let them die.
As sleep continually kept eluding him, he found himself sitting in the lab most of the night. His fatigue becoming so bad that he often forgot to eat - only aware that he hadn't when one of his migraines started to appear and his stomach ached with hunger.
Several cups of coffee a day helped him stay awake, allowing him to work, but even that took its toll, causing his stomach to burn from the caffeine and making him overly nervous. A permanent tremor seemed to have taken control of his hands for they were shaking even now as he sat here.
Most of the people in Atlantis looked away when he walked by, but for some strange reason the rest of his team hadn't shunned him. Teyla and Ronon still talked to him and sat with him in the mess. They hadn't prejudged him as the rest had, but accepted the fact that he wasn't perfect and was still their team mate.
Sheppard on the other hand was a different story entirely. After making the awkward apology, Rodney hadn't talked to him in more than two weeks. Their paths hadn't crossed in all that time; due mostly to the fact that Rodney avoided all the places he knew Sheppard would be. He was afraid to face Sheppard and see that look of disdain in the Colonel's eyes - it still hurt remembering that same look on Sheppard's face in the transporter, just after Rodney had apologized.
Hiding like this was cowardly, but he wasn't able to deal with rejection right now, it hurt too much. Before coming to Atlantis, it hadn't mattered as he had no real friends, just colleagues and acquaintances. His only solace was his work - friends were something that you couldn't find in his competitive work environment and couldn't afford to have.
It wasn't supposed to be like this, I had friends here . . . it was different!
But he had destroyed all of that now . . . Sheppard would never forgive him, he knew that, but it hurt just the same. They had been friends and Rodney had counted on that friendship - it's what helped keep him sane in an insane world that contained life-sucking aliens. Now he was alone again and it was his own fault.
Sheppard spent time with Ronon now. He'd seen them together several times talking.
Maybe because they were both soldiers, or was it because . . . Sheppard trusted Ronon. ..
It was a lonely world that Rodney McKay lived in now and it was all his own doing; that's what made it so hard to accept. He had never been considered a hero like Sheppard, but after saving Atlantis so many times with his brilliant ideas, even he was looked upon with new respect and treated accordingly. That was all gone now, because of one mistake - it had been a huge one, but not deliberately done.
All I wanted was to find another source of power for Atlantis . . . how I wish that I'd never tried.
He had joked about winning a Noble Prize, but Atlantis wasn't exactly known to the scientific world. The only accolades he'd ever hope to receive were from his peers here in Atlantis.
Somehow, he managed to keep up with his responsibilities by emailing each scientist to tell them what their project was - Zelenka did the followup and reported back to him through email as well. As head scientist, Rodney was not about to shirk his duties - just because he'd failed in another part of his job.
He had avoided the last few expeditions off world, by sending Zelenka in his place. Telling the scientist that he needed to finish an experiment and couldn't be spared. Sheppard must have accepted the switch, because nothing was ever said.
Teyla however, had sought Rodney out afterwards and said that he had been missed. She was always the diplomat, somehow knowing all that was going on around her. Rodney sometimes felt that she could see into his mind and read his every thought.
Her quiet smile reassured him though and he thanked her for her kind words. This was a different response from him, one that wouldn't have come from the arrogant Dr. McKay that had first arrived on Atlantis so long ago.
That man was gone, but in his place was a lonely soul, a man who just couldn't seem to come to terms with what he'd done, what he had become . . . and what he had lost.
Teyla made her way through the mess line in the cafeteria, carefully choosing foods that she knew were tasty as well as nutritional. She watched what she ate so that she would remain healthy and alert, knowing that her teammates relied on her to watch their backs on every mission they went on.
Taking her tray with her she looked for a familiar face to sit with and spying Ronon, made her way over to his table. Ronon was more or less a loner and like Dr. McKay, wasn't a people person. Teyla always made an effort to sit with Ronon and try to make him feel at home.
She would have liked to have found Dr. McKay here as well, but the elusive scientist didn't seem to eat here anymore. This fact was worrying her, as he was prone to illness and had looked very pale the last time she had seen him. She had heard rumors of Sheppard and Rodney being on the outs, so she decided to check on Rodney after breakfast and see how he was.
Smiling at the Satedan, she sat down gracefully in the seat across from him and greeted him with the Earth salutation. "Good Morning."
Ronon looked up from his tray that contained three heaping plates of food. "Hey! "
Teyla looked at the massive amount of bacon, eggs, potatoes and sausage that covered his three plates. "Are you hungry this morning?"
"Nah, this will be enough for now," he started to eat the potatoes first.
Teyla smiled and shook her head as she picked up her utensil to eat the fresh fruit on her plate. Most of the food came from her people on the mainland, but having the Daedalus arriving more frequently, supplemented their diet with Earth food as well. She found it refreshing to have so many foods to choose from.
"Ronon, have you seen Dr. McKay?"
Ronon paused before the next bite, "No."
"I'm worried about him."
"He's hiding," The Satedan responded as he reached for the next plate of food.
Teyla looked surprised, "Why do you say that?"
Ronon looked up at her, pausing between mouthfuls of food. "Sheppard is still angry about something that happened on their last mission and McKay is afraid of him. So . . . McKay's hiding." He shrugged and started eating again.
Teyla thought about that summation and how it made the two men's actions seem so childish. After all, these men were friends, or so she thought.
Maybe the people from Earth have different standards for friendship. If you make a mistake, you are then shunned.
This was a terrible thing to do to someone, especially a friend. Her people would never do that over a mistake that hadn't been intentional. Dr. McKay may be many things, but he wouldn't deliberately hurt anyone. On the contrary, she had seen him save many lives by his bravery; once he had stood alone against several Wraiths during the siege of Atlantis. Fortunately, she had arrived in time to save him or he would have been killed and Atlantis would have fallen because of his death.
There was also a shyness about him as well. A part of him wanted recognition, but he hid within himself, preferring to give off an arrogant demeanor that repelled most of those around him. She thought that John had seen through all that and considered him a friend, but maybe she was wrong and Sheppard just used him as someone that could get the job done.
This bothered her, for it meant her concept of John Sheppard was all wrong. If he could treat Dr. McKay so callously, what did he really think of her and Ronon? She continued to eat her food in silence, trying to decide what to believe.
Ronon finished his last plate of food and sat back in his chair satisfied. He watched Teyla quietly eating across from him and the look on her face spoke volumes of what she was thinking.
Leaning forward he spoke to her in a low voice. "They have to work it out between them. One of them will be smart and decide to forgive the other. I think Sheppard will be the one to come forward. McKay's far too hurt to take that step."
Surprised by this response Teyla looked closely at the man across from her. She knew Ronon was many things, but his grasp of human feelings and situations surprised her. He was indeed a man who spoke little, but observed much.
She smiled again. "Perhaps you're right. I will take a tray of food to Rodney and check to see how he is."
Ronon nodded, " Good idea."
Teyla picked up her tray and started to leave to fetch another for the scientist.
Ronon called out to her, "Say hi for me."
Teyla smiled, "I will."
John Sheppard was a very busy man, at least that's what he told himself. As Military Commander of Atlantis it was his job to protect everyone here as well as lead off world missions to make new allies and friends.
There was also the fact that he had to break in new team members. His newest team member, Zelenka, was ok as a scientist, but he was terrible with a weapon or in a combat situation. The man was just afraid of everything and refused to carry a gun.
Zelenka made even McKay look like a soldier. McKay whined a lot, but at least he wasn't afraid to shoot at things that were trying to kill them.
That last thought brought up a subject that he was unwilling to deal with at the moment. Even though he preferred to have McKay back on the team, he was still having a real problem with the matter of trust he had told McKay about the last time they'd spoken.
The hurt look on McKay's face as the transporter's doors closed, came quickly to mind. McKay had never shown that much emotion on his face before, but then he had never done something this drastic. John quickly squashed that memory, refusing to feel guilty about being the cause of that hurt as he was still angry with McKay.
Life's a bitch . . . McKay will just have to suck up and get on with it. People don't have time to coddle scientists who screwed up. There were lives were at stake.
The arrogant scientist had used him to get what he wanted and that was something that Sheppard refused to allow. People didn't use him, he refused to accept that.
However, the seething anger inside him seemed to refuse to quell itself, each day it was there, constantly eating away at him. He hated feeling this way. McKay had been a friend and somewhere inside he wished all of this had never happened. It just proved to him once more that friends were a luxury that he couldn't have. Too many ghosts reminded him of that. In the end, all friends ever brought him was heartache, when something they did went against him, or worse they got themselves killed, just like McKay would have if he hadn't practically dragged the arrogant fool out of there. It had been so close, and they both almost died. No wonder the arrogant sob had no friends.
At first Sheppard had tried to avoid McKay, but after several days of not running into the scientist, he no longer bothered. Even when he was in his office, a place Rodney use to frequent in better times, there was no sign of the scientist. No ancient devices were brought to Sheppard to activate, and of course no more meals were shared between the two men. McKay had become a ghost that no one saw.
John figured McKay had finally got it - Sheppard didn't want to talk to him.
Sighing, he pushed the whole subject aside as he hurried into the mess to grab a cup of coffee before he met with Elizabeth. It was time for the weekly report and there was a lot of territory to cover. One of the off world teams had discovered an energy spike on a planet that suggested Ancient Technology and possible ZPM's. They could certainly use a break.
A little back up power would come in handy right now.
As he entered the door into the mess, he almost collided with Teyla who was carrying a tray of food and several cups of coffee. By carefully stepping aside he avoided the collision.
"Good morning, Teyla, eating outside today?" He asked with a smile.
"Colonel Sheppard . . . No, I'm bringing some breakfast to Dr. McKay. I believe he is in his lab working too hard as usual, for the last time I saw him he looked very tired."
Sheppard annoyed at the mention of the scientist, stopped smiling, "Well, he's very lucky to have you looking out for him."
"Yes, he needs all the friends he can get right now," she smiled sweetly at him and added, "I must leave before this becomes cold," then she headed out the door. She didn't care what John thought at this moment, her only thought was that Rodney needed her support.
John just stared at her back, not sure how he should take what she had just said.
Elizabeth Weir as head of Atlantis, was also the watcher of all that happened around the city. The many people that worked here all had diverse personalities as well as quirks that caused clashes with their co-workers. During their short time here, she had to step in several times to disperse arguments amongst the scientists; they could be very territorial and petty about their research projects, always afraid that someone else would steal their work.
All of this she had expected, but what she hadn't anticipated was that her Chief Scientist would take it upon himself to do something that was risky and in the end, destructive. He had also put his own life at risk as well. Fortunately, John had stopped him from committing what might have been suicide. A solar system had all but been destroyed, but the two men had returned unharmed.
Looking back at it all now, she was able to put it in its proper prospective. Rodney had only wanted to help with another source of power as well as gaining possible accolades for the success in doing so.
It was after all, what scientists do.
She had been very angry with him, but a lot of that anger was because she had come so close to losing him that day. Even Colonel Sheppard might have died as well. She found those two facts hard to accept. Rodney must have known how much she counted on him and what his loss would mean to her as well as Atlantis.
Shaking her head she decided that it was over now and time to move on. This was the reason she had asked only John to the meeting today. She wanted his input about how to handle another new energy discovery they had found off world and whether Rodney should go on the mission instead of Zelenka.
The last time she had seen Rodney, he'd looked exhausted. There was something else wrong as well, for the energetic man she had grown use too had been replaced by someone who looked beaten, with a haunted look in his eyes as well. This might be due to the fact that John and Rodney were on the outs and that their friendship might be over as well. She hadn't seen the two of them together once in more than two weeks and Rodney no longer went on missions with John's team. There was a rift there and she wasn't sure how to mend it.
She knew the scientist was a loner, but John seemed to have brought him out of that mode by taking Rodney with him on off- world missions. The two seemed to have clicked from the very first moment they entered Atlantis; their mischievous antics reminded her of two kids in a toy store.
Now it was up to her to try and make peace between them - a tough job, but one she was willing to undertake. The two men were vital to Atlantis' survival and having them at odds wasn't a good thing for anyone.
She was thinking about all this, when John Sheppard entered her office carrying a clipboard in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. He sat in a chair in front of her desk.
" Good morning, Elizabeth." He gave her his usual boyish grin.
She smiled at him warmly, "Good morning, John."
Sheppard looked around the office and realized they were the only ones there.
"Zelenka joining us anytime soon?"
Normally it would be McKay representing the science department, but lately Zelenka had been the one delivering the reports. Especially since he was the one going on all the off world missions.
"No, I wanted to get your insight as to whom you wanted to take on this next mission. "
Surprised John slowly nodded."Okay," he drawled out.
"I think, since this could be a significant find, you should take Rodney with you." She waited for his response.
" I don't think that's a good idea . . . Zelenka will be fine," John stated, his anger at McKay still hidden just below the surface.
"That's not what I've heard. He's terrified of everything and your other teammates have confirmed that he just isn't up to par with weapons."
" Oh, they did, did they!" John snapped back.
He would have to speak to Ronon and Teyla about telling tales out of school and going over his head.
"Well, I don't agree. Zelenka is working out just fine."
That famous stubborn look suddenly appeared on John's face and seeing it made Elizabeth smirk. She'd dealt with tougher personalities than his and got what she wanted in the end.
Smiling again, she went on, "Well then . . . I will offer another scientist in his place . . . one that would be better qualified than Zelenka."
"Fine," John said curtly as he picked up his coffee cup.
"You can have Kavanagh," Elizabeth said simply and waited.
John had been sipping the coffee and suddenly choked, spilling it down his shirt.
"You did that on purpose!", he accused as he brushed spilled coffee off his T-shirt.
"Did I, I don't think so," she replied sweetly with a smirk, then continued.
"So, It's either McKay or Kavanagh . . . you choose. I don't want my Chief Scientist cooped up in his lab, not sleeping and not eating properly; he needs fresh air and something to distract him."
She was staring straight at John hoping he heard all that she said and what it implied - there must be some part of him that might still worry about McKay.
John sighed, "Is this a conspiracy? First Teyla, now you!"
" John, Rodney needs to be cut a little slack. I know what he did was arrogant and stupid on his part, but that was one mistake out of how many decisions that he's had to make since he came here. I for one am willing to give him this one as long as he doesn't repeat it."
John shook his head. " I don't trust him, Elizabeth. It all comes down to that . . . he almost got us both killed!"
There it was! She had found the underling cause for the problem. Mistrust, a hard feeling to overcome, but not impossible. She sat back in her chair.
"I think you need to know a few things about Rodney before you completely condemn him. We've never discussed what the Genii did to him in the gate room, but I was there and saw the aftermath. It wasn't just a cut on his arm - Rodney was traumatized and I'm sure they threatened to kill us both if he didn't talk. When Kolya threatened to shoot me, Rodney didn't hesitate; he stepped in front of me directly into the line of fire. He was willing to take that bullet that was meant for me. Kolya would have shot him, but Rodney stood his ground and used some quick thinking to talk him out of it. " She paused a moment letting it all sink in before continuing.
"Also, are you aware that during the siege of the city by the Wraith, Rodney while carrying the ZPM, was left on his own when his Marine escorts were stunned by the Wraith? When Teyla arrived he was aiming his weapon at several Wraith ready to defend himself. She said that he was very brave. So you see, this is not the whining Rodney that everyone sees daily, but a very brave, loyal and decent man who would die before allowing harm to come to others."
There was emotion in her voice that John didn't hear very often. He hadn't been aware of all the facts surrounding these incidents. No one had ever mentioned them before, especially McKay.
"He still almost got us both killed, Elizabeth." John argued back. "Friends don't do that!"
Elizabeth sighed. John just didn't get it - he felt betrayed and was blinded by that.
"I asked Rodney about that very point. You know what he said?" She waited.
John shook his head.
"He told me, 'I would have stayed and shut down the experiment, but Sheppard was with me and I couldn't risk letting him die as well'."
She stressed the next part, "Don't you see, John? When you wouldn't leave without him, he was forced to abandon the experiment; he didn't care about himself, but he wasn't willing to sacrifice you."
John sighed again. When it came to feelings and expressing them he was probably even worse than McKay. Right now he felt like a wrung out rag. Sometimes he thought McKay was a coward with an occasional show of bravado, usually after the fact or when forced into it as a last resort. That was why he always threatened him.
What Elizabeth was telling him about, was a side of McKay he knew was there, but he'd rarely seen; maybe he'd misjudged the scientist.
There were times when McKay acted brave, getting rid of the black entity, and that time he came to John's aid on a planet where one Wraith was beating the crap out of him.
That was just self preservation, he tried convincing himself.
Elizabeth could see John thinking all of this over and finally decided to go for it all.
"I've known Rodney for quite a while and when we first came here I was very pleased to see you both hit it off so well. When I first chose him for my senior staff, I was afraid that he would be a complete loner, the same as he'd been at Stargate Command. It was wonderful that you became friends so quickly. "
She smiled, " However, I must admit you two together, was a little more than I bargained for. That fall of his from the balcony in the gate room took years off my life; I thought for sure you'd killed him! Sometimes you two remind me of two little boys who are always getting into trouble."
Rising from the chair, she came toward him, then sat on the corner of her desk as she went on, " Needless to say, you bring out the best in each other. Rodney has made some friends and has even come out of his shell. And you have become much more responsible, thinking more about what's happening and not being so haphazard in your thought process. "
Raising her hands palm up she added, "All in all a win-win scenario for both of you. "
She finished with a triumphant smile knowing that she'd presented a very clear argument in Rodney's defense.
John raised his hands in surrender, "Ok. You've convinced me. He's back on the team."
He then leaned forward with a serious look on his face, " But, if he screws up . . . I will push him off that balcony without his shield!"
Somehow Elizabeth knew he meant it.
Rodney was sitting in his lab with Teyla, eating the breakfast that she had brought him. This beautiful woman with the soft brown eyes had saved him from the wraith during the siege of the city and he would never forget that. Now it seemed she was out to save his soul as well. He was touched by her thoughtfulness and obvious concern, for she made him feel human again and less of a pariah.
"This was very kind of you, Teyla . . . I don't know what to say." His face turned a shade of pink, blushing since he wasn't use to saying, Thank you.
She smiled, "You're very welcome, Rodney. You must keep up your strength or you'll fall ill. Ronon and I still consider you our friend and team mate; you must not let others make you think otherwise."
Embarrassed, Rodney's face suddenly took on that shy smile of his, the one that she found so endearing. It was a rare glimpse of the man that hid behind the arrogant mask he presented to everyone. Both she and Ronon had seen behind that mask and found a very different version of Rodney McKay hidden there.
A man, that even though frightened, would put his life on the line to save his friends and others.
She didn't understand why Sheppard was being so hard on the scientist. Mistakes happened and they always would.
People were only human after all . . .
Hours later Rodney was standing on the balcony outside his quarters, looking out over the ocean, thinking that maybe he should just end it all by jumping into the sea below. It would solve everyone's problem and put an end to all his heartache and misery.
No one would care . . . why should they, I have failed them and now everyone hates me.
A sad smile crossed his face.
I use to be the man with all the answers, now I'm a Pariah.
He couldn't remember ever being this bone tired and depressed; his body ached all over and his legs felt like rubber bands, barely able to support his weight. Getting very little sleep in the past two weeks had caused this and nothing he took seemed to help.
I know it's from all this emotional stress I'm going through.
Beneath all his arrogance, lay a sensitive soul who was always hardest on himself when he failed at something. Blaming himself for every scientist's death and adding each of those to all the other failures that he would never be able to forgive himself for. Feeling that somehow... he should have been able to prevent their deaths.
It would have been so much better if Sheppard had just left me behind on that planet, at least I wouldn't have to go through all this.
Wearily he walked back inside, too much the coward to consider jumping, and knowing this just made him even more depressed. This was the hardest time of day for him, not knowing where to go or what to do. He knew that he would never be able to sleep with all this anxiety going through him. There was no way he could even face Carson for fear of what the Scot might say if he asked for sleeping pills.
His mind wandered back to the call earlier that day from Elizabeth, telling him to be ready for a mission off world tomorrow with his team. He had tried to get out of it, but she had insisted, making it a point of telling him that Colonel Sheppard had agreed. Even though he wasn't looking forward to it, he had to face Sheppard sometime, if he planned on staying here.
Leaving Atlantis forever wasn't something he wanted to do - this was his dream - it was all he had left. He would just have to live with the rejection and bear the scorn.
Somehow, I will adapt, I always have in the past . . .