Written for 14 Valentines Day 3 - Health
Title When it Rains
Word Count – 2700
Disclaimer– I do not own and am in no way connected with Stargate: Atlantis, this is unauthorised fanwork which I make no money from.
Betaed By Gumbie Cat, who is still extremely star-like!
Overall, Rodney left Atlantis in better shape than he'd been in when he went there. Better muscle tone, greater lung capacity, though not lower blood pressure (unsurprisingly!). He could fly a ship and shoot a gun, and though one of those skills was totally useless and he devoutly hoped never to need the other, he was secretly proud that he had leaned them both.
In other ways, of course, his health wasn't quite so good.
It hadn't been quite so apparent when he first returned to Earth. Everyone who'd been on the mission had nightmares, after all, especially those who'd been on off-world teams, and Rodney's had been no worse than anyone else's. It was only after a while, when Sam had gone off to DC to replace General O'Neill and Radek had gone back to Prague to remind himself of who he used to be and Sheppard had left the military altogether to spend the rest of his life doing whatever it was you did when you stopped being the military commander of a base in another galaxy. Rodney himself had managed to snare the sort of live he'd always dreamed of. Nice office, his name in every journal, plenty of people who recognised that Rodney McKay was right, right, right and those that disagreed with him were wrong, wrong, wrong. Which made it all the odder, really.
Rodney had actually quite liked seeing the mission psychiatrist. Not because he was particularly a fan of discussing his feelings, not because he felt that his subconscious was plotting against him, but because the purpose of a psychiatrist was, in fact, to listen, and as Rodney had always been a fan of hearing himself talk, he found that this suited him. The fact that medical ethics stopped them running off to tell everyone what he'd told them was something he'd also appreciated; scientists may be renowned for their poor social skills, but their driving force does tend to be curiosity and Rodney had expressed the view, once or twice, that if it were possible to recharge a ZPM through the power of gossip then they would have been back in contact with Earth after the first week. Rodney was a great fan of gossiping about other people, but slightly less keen on them gossiping about him, especially when they were armed with actual facts rather than wild surmise. He hadn't felt the need to resume going once on Earth, though.
"I mean," he said to Radek on the phone one night, "now I'm not spending my life running from one disaster to the next, I'm hardly going to need to, am I?"
"Rodney, there is time difference between you and me, yes? I think you forgot this in your desire to tell me you don't need psychiatric help," Radek informed him shortly.
"Time difference, hmm? For some reason, they're the one thing I can never quite get straight. I put it down to a fucked-up sleep cycle and 24 hour TV – it makes life so confusing."
"It is middle of the night," said Radek clearly. "I am sleeping now. You will be calling me back later if you will continue to talk."
"But you're awake now," Rodney pointed out. "And there is such a thing as a connection charge, you know…"
"Goodnight, Rodney," Radek interrupted him, and there was a click. Rodney glared at the phone for a moment or two, but managed to prevent himself from calling back immediately.
It started the next day, in the middle of a lecture. Rodney had been gesturing wildly, as usually, scrawling and erasing equations across the whiteboard so fast that one of the boys on the front row was almost in tears, and so to feel a twinge in his arm at the end of the session wasn't surprising. He rubbed it briskly, feeling but not registering the scar tissue under his fingers.
By the time he left campus, the rain was hammering down and Rodney's arm was hurting so much he could barely move it. He drove home awkwardly, one-handed, the other arm pressed to his chest. It took him two tries to get the key into the lock with his left hand, he's always been far too right-handed for his own good, but he managed in the end and collapsed on the couch, still in his wet clothes, closing his eyes and just breathing.
The day after, it was much better, or perhaps he was distracted by the pain in his back from spending the night on the couch. Rodney half-heartedly panicked about getting sick from spending the night in damp clothes but somehow couldn't quite summon the energy, choosing instead to just pull on clean clothes and get to work. If his new minions felt that he was a little bit off, they were too new to him to comment.
"You did not call me back," Radek informed him.
"It's three in the morning!" Rodney spluttered into the phone.
"I am aware of this," Radek informed him. "I am capable of calculating time differences."
"I was asleep!" Rodney snapped. "The noise of the telephone has probably taken at least ten very valuable years off my life!"
"This is pity," agreed Radek. "But, as I said, you did not ring me back."
"Why did I ring you in the first place?" groused Rodney, rubbing at his arm and listening to the gale blowing outside.
"If you cannot remember then I will not tell you," Radek said serenely, and launched into a story about his day. Rodney listened, even asking questions.
"You have not hung up on me," Radek observed.
"Your powers of observation never cease to astound me," Rodney said snippily.
"But it is three in the morning where you are," Radek said. "I know this because I worked it out for maximum inconvenience."
"Which I am completely thrilled by," Rodney said. Then, smaller than he'd intended, "My arm hurts."
"Too much masturbation," Radek informed him. Rodney snorted.
"I expect that kind of remark from Colonel Sheppard, not from you."
"You are aware that we call him John now?"
"You can if you want to," said Rodney, getting distracted by the pain in his arm. "And as you mentioned my hanging up on you earlier, I'm going to take that as a hint and do so. Goodbye." He put the phone back into the cradle and went to take two ibuprofen. It was nearly five o'clock before he got back to sleep.
After a while, it became clear that Rodney's arm always hurt more when it was going to rain.
"Seriously, I'm not kidding you," he told Radek earnestly, having managed to contact him at a point when they were both awake and not busy. "I've noted down the pattern of incidence and there's a definite pattern emerging."
"I thought it was only broken bones that were affected by climatic changes," Radek said sceptically.
"Well, yes, but my arm hurts and it wasn't broken, so therefore, scars must be able to predict the weather." Rodney said.
"Hmm," said Radek.
"Hmm? What sort of response is that?" asked Rodney indignantly.
"You have seen a doctor about this pain, yes?" Radek said, sounding cautious.
"….No," Rodney said.
"Then perhaps you should see a doctor, get this medical miracle verified by someone with medical degree," Radek said gently, and there was something in his voice that made Rodney just put the phone down and took the next two days off work even though it wasn't raining and his arm hardly hurt at all.
Shortly after that, Jeannie phoned.
"So, big brother, when are you coming to visit?" she asked.
"When do you want me?" Rodney asked.
"What, seriously?" Jeannie laughed in disbelief. "No 'I'm far too busy to see you anytime this year, please phone my secretary for a list of dates when I will be available', just 'when'?"
"I'm not doing anything I can't cancel," Rodney said, suddenly certain that this was true.
"Um, well, god, last minute flights cost a fortune, let me think…"
"Can I come next weekend?" Rodney asked, and Jeannie paused for a moment, and then said
"Yes, yes of course you can."
"I'll let you know what time I'm arriving," Rodney said and hung up. He stared at the phone for a little while, and then picked it up again to quit his job. Then he unplugged it.
Rodney turned up on Jeannie's doorstep a little earlier than he'd planned. She wasn't in, so he sat down on the front step and leaned back against the door, closing his eyes.
"Oh, my God, Rodney?" Jeannie sounded surprised and alarmed.
"Yes, yes, it's me," Rodney said, startled, glaring up at her. "I've been here for ages, open the door and let me in." He hauled himself to his feet and gestured impatiently in the direction of the door. Jeannie just kept staring at him. Self-consciously, Rodney raised his right hand to his face, trying to ignore the shaking.
"Hmm, guess I haven't shaved in a while," he said, vaguely. Jeannie literally shook herself and reached around him to open the door.
"You are going to have a shower, we're going to eat and then you're going to talk." Rodney opened his mouth
"No, the talking comes after the showering and the food. Go!" Jeannie said firmly, and Rodney made his way up the stairs without saying another word.
"So, how are you?" Caleb asked later that evening, when Rodney had cleaned up and they were all sitting around the table, eating vegetarian lasagne which Rodney couldn't even be bothered to mock.
"My arm hurts," he said automatically.
"What have you done to it?" Caleb asked, and Rodney, without thinking, said:
"I got tortured."
"Mer!" Jeannie exclaimed, and Rodney blinked.
"Oh, not recently," he added hastily, taking in their shocked expressions. "Back in the first year I was…away," he corrected himself with a glance at Madison, "There was a storm, there were invaders, there was a disagreement about command codes, and it was all very messy. Major Sheppard saved the day," he said vaguely.
"But still, I mean…" Caleb said, catching Jeannie's eye with a pleading expression.
"Just another day," Rodney said. "I talked about it with the shrink and she said I handled it very well, actually. She said that I'm very resilient," he finished proudly. Jeannie grinned.
"But you've still got a receding hairline," she pointed out.
Rodney snorted. "Yes, because my hairline is what proves my resilience or otherwise."
"You said it, not me," Jeannie retorted smugly. Rodney spluttered and she took advantage of his momentary distraction to give him a second helping of the lasagne.
Because he'd read somewhere that that was what you were supposed to do, Rodney did his best to help Jeannie with the clearing-up.
"So, you spoken to John since you came back?" she asked, putting the stack of plates by the sink and handing Rodney a bottle of detergent.
"Why does everyone keep talking about him?" Rodney asked, taking the detergent with a mournful look. "First Radek, now you. And why don't you have a dishwasher?"
"He's a nice guy, Rodney," Jeannie said, looking surprised. "And we don't have a dishwasher because dishes are good for the soul."
"But bad for the skin," Rodney said, squirting detergent liberally into the water and watching the bubbles rise up. "And I think he's not speaking to me." He lowered the first plate into the water and washed it carefully, smoothing the sponge slowly round and round to make sure that every little tiny speck of grease was gone.
"Why do you think that?" Jeannie said, more gently than he would have expected.
"Because he hasn't called me," Rodney said. "If he was speaking to me, he would have called." He put the dish into the draining rack and moved onto the next.
"Have you called him?" Jeannie asked, picking it up and starting to dry it.
"I'm not the one who resigned my commission and fucked off to God knows where," Rodney shouted. He slammed the clean plate into the rack, grabbed another dirty one and viciously swabbed it down.
"He didn't go to God knows where, he went to California," Jeannie said calmly.
"That's not the point," Rodney said, putting the dish down roughly. "And how the hell do you know where he went, anyway?"
"Radek phoned me," Jeannie said. "He said you keep phoning him at ridiculous hours."
"He deserves it," Rodney said grumpily, suddenly feeling more tired than he'd ever felt in his life.
"Well, you can stay here as long as you want to," Jeannie said.
"I quit my job," Rodney told her.
"Oh, in that case I want you out within the week. I'm your sister, not your mother." Jeannie said, with a noise that might have been a laugh.
"Thank God for that," Rodney said. He'd got into a rhythm with the plates now, right to left, dirty to clean, and they worked in silence for a few minutes before Jeannie started a story about something that had happened at work and Rodney listened gratefully. He went to bed early that night and didn't wake up for two days.
When he woke up, groggy and disoriented, a familiar voice said
"About time," Rodney frowned and blinked.
"You're not exactly Sleeping Beauty, you know," John told him.
"Who… what…" Rodney asked, sitting bolt upright in the bed, covers around his waist, and staring at John, who was slouching against the wall by the light switch, looking uncomfortable and out of place.
"Jeannie called me," John said easily, moving forward to the side of the bed and taking a seat in a chair that Rodney didn't remember seeing when he'd fallen asleep. "I think she called Radek first because Radek called me as well."
"No one's got enough to do around here," Rodney muttered, but it didn't come out as grumpy as he'd planned.
"Well, you're the one without a job, so you should know."
"Atlantis was three jobs, minimum. I deserve some time off," Rodney said crossly. "And it's not like you have a job either. You resigned your commission!"
"When you're done here, you should come see me," said John, ignoring that. "You can bitch about the sun and the surfers, you'll like it."
"My arm hurts when it rains," Rodney told him.
"Not gonna be a problem in Cali," John said. "Mostly sunny there."
"And Colonel Sheppard flies to the rescue again," Rodney said, suddenly so, so sick of the whole business. "What would you do if I said I didn't want your help?" There was a long pause. Rodney stared at John, who was staring at the floor.
"I'm not Colonel Sheppard," John said, after a while. "Colonel Sheppard doesn't do anything any more." Rodney bit his tongue, hard.
"Maybe I'd like you to come," John said after a while. "We're team. I flew here for you, seems only right that you should fly there for me." Rodney looked at him closely. John was unshaven, his eyes slightly red. He seemed to have added weight and added years since the last time Rodney saw him, becoming a tired-out middle-aged man instead of the Kirk of the Pegasus galaxy.
"You and your surfing," Rodney said, gently.
"Yeah," John said, letting out a breath. "I've got plenty of room, space for your computers or whatever."
"I might do that," Rodney said. "You staying at a hotel?"
"Yeah, you're kind of using up her spare room, and," John said with a wry grin, "Jeannie says she isn't running a refugee hostel for ex-Atlanteans." Rodney chuffed out a laugh.
"Anyone made you eat maple syrup yet? Or watch hockey?" he asked.
"So far, no."
"Got to remedy that, then," Rodney said, getting out of bed. "Clothes, then Canadian stereotypes." John grinned.
"I'll make some coffee," he said.
"You do that," Rodney said. "The good stuff, mind!" he hollered as John headed off down the stairs. Shower, clothes, coffee and TV with John. The water in the shower beat down on Rodney's arm and it didn't hurt a bit.