Title: Checking In
Genre/Rating: gen, K (couple of minor swear words)
Spoilers: The Kindred, Part II
A/N: This popped into my head last week (for obvious reasons). Posted it first on sgaflashfic's second verse challenge — though it wasn't written specifically for the challenge, the story sure seemed to fit!
McKay checked the monitor every day.
Sometimes he did it first thing, stopping at the stasis chamber with his first cup of coffee still steaming in his hand, its rich scent filling the room that otherwise smelled faintly of ozone. He'd look over the readout, do a quick diagnostic and then inspect the chamber for cracks or other signs of problems.
He talked as he worked.
"Carter wants us to check out PX1-124 today. We think there are people there who have information about Michael." He took a sip of coffee, sighing as the hot liquid slid down the back of his throat and warmed his empty stomach. "Don't worry. We'll be careful."
Sometimes he did it last thing, stopping at the stasis chamber before he shuffled off to bed, his mind still jumping with calculations and theories and ideas while his body ached with exhaustion.
"Radek almost blew himself up today," he said, running the diagnostic. "Damn ancient device destroyed a quarter of the lab. Second time this month. And before you ask: no, no one was hurt. But you know, it would be nice if we could make it through a few weeks without an explosion."
Some days he stared at his friend, sitting cross-legged on the cold floor in front of the chamber, marveling at the real, live, back-from-the-dead second chance who was neither really live nor truly back from the dead, but who was certainly real and definitely felt like a second chance. On those days he talked the most, about their recent missions, about his day, about how Sheppard landed in the infirmary again and how Ronon was addicted to kung fu movies, and, hell, about the newly citrus-free lunch menu when he ran out of everything else to say.
Some days he couldn't bring himself to look at all. On those days he'd struggle to manage a "Sorry, Carson," before shambling away.
He briefly considered going against Carson's wishes and programming dreams into the chamber. Nice ones. That dream fishing trip. A dream vacation to see his mother in Scotland. Maybe a dream day on Atlantis, with no emergencies, no tragedies. A day just with friends.
But McKay couldn't be sure of the programming. If the dream turned into a nightmare, Carson would be stuck, terrified forev—
Carson wasn't going to be in there forever.
But for a little while. Probably for weeks. Maybe months. Until they captured Michael. Or until Keller figured out the treatment. . . .
Either way, too long to risk giving him perpetual nightmares. Better to let him be.
But McKay still checked every day. He checked even though the system was automated. Even though it was tied to his computers and Radek's computers and Sam's computers, with double redundancies and triple failsafes. It wasn't the machine he was worried about. It was the man.
So he checked in.
It's what Carson would have done.