Me, Myself, and McKay
Season: Set a short time after McKay and Mrs. Miller.
Summary: Rodney McKay never meant to bring him here. But now that it's too late, will his presence change Rodney's life forever? Contains: Jumper crashes, barf machines, and mutant polar bears!
A/N: Months ago I read a challenge that asked, "What if Sheppard had never joined the Air Force?" Well, this is where that thought took me. And no it's not an AU. Enjoy!
A/N 2: A million thanks to my awesome beta slyprentice without whom I could never have pulled this off.
"No, no Abbot! I said point zero two, not point two, are you trying to kill all of us?" Rodney snapped at the newly arrived scientist.
Susan Abbot swung around, her trim body stiff with anger as she was scolded for the third time that day. "I'm sorry sir. I'll fix it right away." But her words fell into empty air as Rodney had already moved on to yell at the next hapless scientist that got in his way. It was nearly impossible not to get in McKay's way as the science lab was filled to busting with scientists, computers, wires, and other equipment, most which looked Ancient in origin.
"Do I have to remind you again people? This is quite possibly the most important breakthrough in quantum physics since the unmasking of particle-wave dynamics. I don't need a bunch of half-brained nitwits screwing this up for me… I mean, for the scientific community. I wasn't trying to suggest that I was the only person who would benefit from such a discovery, after all…"
"After all, you didn't do it alone." McKay spun on the spot and found himself facing John Sheppard.
"What are you doing here?" Rodney asked, irritation barely hidden in his voice. He didn't like being interrupted and he knew that the colonel wasn't interested in the science behind the test. "I'm not going to blow anything up."
"We'll see." Sheppard replied calmly.
Rodney glared at him, knowing there was the possibility that this could go explosively wrong. But he wasn't going to admit that to the man. He turned to a nearby team member with short cropped blonde hair. "Stevens, do you have that calculation, yet?"
The blonde looked at his team leader with calm resolve. He had been on Atlantis long enough to get used to Rodney's emotional outbursts. Not to mention he knew that Rodney was all bark and no bite. "I've just finished. I'm starting to think this might actually work."
"Of course it will work," The scientist admonished, snatching the papers Stevens was holding. Studying them intently for a moment, he nodded. "Excellent, just what I thought."
Sheppard, meanwhile, obviously bored with all the science jargon taking place around him walked over to his friend and asked, "Do you mind telling me again why this is so important?"
Rodney sighed exasperatedly, but answered nonetheless. "This," he gestured expansively, "could be the key to an unlimited source of energy."
"Ah." Sheppard sounded as if the world had suddenly made sense, though clearly it didn't. "But how does it work?"
"Essentially we are going to be drawing energy directly from subspace time."
"That sounds incredibly familiar." Sheppard pulled a face, knowing he had heard this somewhere else before.
"Well, that's because it's what we were doing when we accidentally damaged Rod's universe."
"Rodney…" Sheppard warned, having spotted an obvious flaw in this plan.
"Relax, I've found a way to protect alternate universes from the negative effects of exotic particle formation. That's the breakthrough. I'd explain but it'd be a waste of effort."
John, ignoring the obvious dig at his intelligence, asked quietly, "You're sure you got this figured out?"
"I'm one hundred percent positive." Sheppard stared at him in disbelief. "Okay, ninety-nine percent, but it's worth the risk."
"I don't know…. We always seem to fall into that one percent."
"Not this time." Rodney's voice was excited, his hair stuck up at odd angles, and his eyes were sparkling. He looked a bit like the mad scientist.
"Really. Listen I've put fail-safes into the device, if anything goes wrong, it'll turn off." Rodney could tell that Sheppard still didn't fully trust him, but he was confident. This was going to work.
"All right people, let's get this started. Abbot, are the parameters set?" She answered in the affirmative. "Good, Zelenka let's start slowly, turn it up to ten percent power," Rodney commanded as he stood hunched over a computer console staring intently at the tiny numbers scrolling past. "Good, good. Go up to twenty-five." An audible hum began to issue from the large device sitting in the center of room. Sheppard stood on Rodney's right, his body taunt, like a spring ready to be released.
"Up it to fifty," if possible Rodney's voice was even more excited.
Everyone in the room stood perfectly still, all eyes on the now humming and vibrating device. There was a moment when nothing was moving except the large machine and then a few large sparks spat from the device. Rodney saw John move as though about to grab the fire extinguisher hanging on the wall. But the sparks stopped and, as if stabilizing, the device stopped vibrating and only the humming could be heard.
"Okay," Rodney breathed, exhaling the breath he had been holding. Sheppard was not the only one on edge. He continued, "That's a good sign; let's push her up to seventy-five…"
"Hold on, do you really think that's a good idea?" Sheppard interrupted. "Seems like you're pushing kind of hard."
"Yes, because if we never turn it on, we'll never know if it works." Rodney's voice dripped with sarcasm.
"I'm just saying, wouldn't it be safer to leave it at fifty for awhile, and uh, wait?"
"How many doctorates do you have again?"
"Do I need to remind you what happened last time you just had to push all the buttons at once?" Sheppard's eyes narrowed at him.
Rodney recalled the incident quite clearly, thank you. How do you forget blowing up an entire solar system? But he remained stubbornly silent as if daring the Colonel to say it directly. Sheppard however wasn't going to play that game and simply glowered at Rodney, probably trying to intimidate him into being more patient. McKay, either oblivious to this tactic or simply ignoring it, turned back to Zelenka. "Up it to seventy-five. Let's see what this thing is capable of.
Zelenka thumbed a dial on the console in front of him and then…chaos. The machine burst into flames, smoke spewed from it's top, several people grabbed for extinguishers, Sheppard pulled at Rodney's arm bodily moving him away from the flames, and there was a small 'pop' that originated in a corner of the lab that was not noticed until quite a few minutes later.
As the smoke cleared from the scene and the 'whoosh' of the fire extinguishers died away, Rodney was able to make out the confused scene taking place in the lab. Many people were shouting. It appeared as if a few had received burns. Rodney decided to feel guilty about that later. Right now what he wanted to know was, "what went wrong?" The question had been addressed to Zelenka but it was Abbot who responded.
"Preliminary data is showing that there was an unexpected variance in the wave emissions and it resulted in a short burst of excess electrical power." She broke into a coughing fit and Rodney noticed that her brown hair which had been tied carefully back before the explosion was now hanging limply around her face.
"Is there any clue as to what caused the variance?" He asked when she finally cleared her lungs.
"Right now, I have no idea." Her voice was weary but beyond that Rodney detected a hint of anger. He would have to deal with that later too.
Just then a medical team arrived with gurneys and med kits in tow. Dr. Jennifer Keller rushed over to a man sitting on the floor. The man's dark hair was matted with sweat and his face was incredibly filthy. It took Rodney a moment to realize that it was Sheppard. At once he knelt down beside his teammate. "Are you alright?" There was an edge of panic in his voice.
Sheppard got up slowly and carefully. Dr. Keller was already examining a burn that ran along the side of his right forearm. "I'm fine, Doc," he said even as he grimaced in pain as Keller touched his wound.
"I'll be the judge of that. Colonel Sheppard you need to come to the infirmary right away so I can clean and dress this burn."
Ignoring her, Sheppard rounded on McKay, "I told you this was a bad idea but you just…" Sheppard's eyes suddenly widened in surprise. "What the hell?"
Rodney saw Keller follow Sheppard's gaze and her face twisted into a look of utter confusion. Turning to see what they were both looking at, McKay's eyes traveled to a dark corner of the room. There, huddled on the floor, was none other than John Sheppard.