Disclaimer: Nope, still don't own them or have any rights to them. You know if I did, they would still be making me happy on Friday nights. Speaking of idiots . . .
Surrounded by Idiots
The call for a medical team to Swanson's lab didn't surprise Rodney, but it did make him curse and pick up his already hurried pace. He'd been on his way there to rescue the colonel from that nitwit's clutches, but obviously hadn't been in time. From the moment Zelenka told him Sheppard had been snagged by the engineer to activate some Ancient gizmo the guy had been studying, Rodney smelled disaster. Swanson had only been in Atlantis for five weeks and Sheppard hadn't had time to figure out that the man made Kavanagh look like a brilliant and selfless hero.
Rodney jerked to a stop at the threshold of the lab by grabbing hold of the doorframe. A thin film of smoke hovered near the ceiling and the room smelled of scorched plastic. Swanson was picking himself off the floor about two meters straight ahead. Behind him, Rodney could see where a console had exploded, its ruined panel still sparking and spitting out little tufts of smoke. Spread-eagle on his belly, with half of the front panel on his back, was John Sheppard. And he wasn't moving.
"Jennifer, where are you?" Rodney asked after tapping his radio.
"On my way," she huffed. "What can you tell me?"
"Just got here, but Swanson is picking himself up off the floor and Sheppard is unconscious."
"Don't move him."
"Yeah, I know the drill." Rodney was already kneeling beside John as he clicked off his radio. He removed the metal panel from the injured man as gently as he could, determined not to cause any more harm. Even before he got his fingers to the right place to find a pulse, John groaned. Rodney let a deep breath out in relief. The pulse was a little fast, but seemed strong and regular. "What happened?" he asked, turning his attention to Swanson.
Tall and lanky, Swanson stretched up to his full height with a grimace, rubbing his lower back. His metal rim glasses sat askew on his face and little tufts of his thinning blonde hair stuck up at odd angles. Smudges of something on his cheek and rumpled lab coat combined with the rest of his appearance to make him a fitting image of the classic mad scientist. Rodney had to squelch the inappropriate urge to laugh.
"That idiot blew us up!"
Okay, no more urges to laugh. Anger welled deep and hot. "Somehow I doubt Colonel Sheppard is the idiot here. You are the one with the PhD the last time I checked. Radek says you wanted him to activate something for you."
"Yes, I did," Swanson said indignantly, thrusting his chin up. "And he used it to blow us up. He may have the Ancient gene, but he obviously doesn't know what he's doing."
Rodney stood and before he knew it, he was right in Swanson's face. Okay, more like at his chin, but Swanson got the point. "That man has thought us out of more certain death situations that you've ever even been exposed to. He's not an idiot . . . or a stupid grunt for that matter. If he wanted a PhD, I have no doubt he could get one in pretty much anything he wanted. He is the reason Atlantis is still standing."
Swanson snorted and took a step back. "Oh, really? I thought you were the reason Atlantis is still standing, or so you keep telling us."
"Well . . . I am," Rodney sputtered. "But he is too. There have been many times when I was . . . too busy fixing things to come up with a plan. Sheppard has always come up with one when we needed it. A plan that saved our lives . . . and sometimes came pretty close to ending his. I doubt we'll ever see you volunteering to fly a nuke into a Wraith ship or chase a rogue fighter almost into a sun in order to save others. And don't even get me started . . . "
A loud groan pulled Rodney's attention away from ripping Swanson a new one. Abandoning the shocked engineer, Rodney returned to Sheppard's side as he tried to lift his head.
"No, no, no, you need to lie still, Sheppard. Jennifer is on the way."
"W-What . . . about Swanson . . . he okay?" John lifted his head again and tried to turn it, an action quickly abandoned with a grimace and another groan.
"Stop moving, you idiot!"
"I thought you said he wasn't an idiot," said Swanson with a smirk.
"Hey! I'm using the term idiot in a totally different way than you were. And besides, we've saved each other's lives numerous times. That means I can call him idiot. You, definitely not." Rodney really wanted to use that move Ronon had been trying to teach him the last three weeks to wipe that smirk off Swanson's skinny face.
Then Jennifer was there with the medical team, pushing Rodney out of the way. Once he was sure they were properly caring for Sheppard, he returned to Swanson, who was now seated and being checked over by a medic.
"Swanson, I want to know what you were working on and exactly what happened. Now."
Swanson sighed heavily, as if being annoyed by a small child. "Fine. I was attempting to get the colonel to activate that scanner we found earlier this week. It was found amongst some engineering equipment, so we had reason to believe it might be something we could use."
"And of course you searched for it in the Ancient database before asking Colonel Sheppard to activate it," said Rodney.
"I did a . . . preliminary search. The database is so large . . . it was taking too long. I figured having the colonel activate it would be faster." Swanson sighed. "I didn't know he would blow us up with it."
Rodney grit his teeth and clenched his fist, resisting the urge to hit the man. "After doing a thorough search of the database, protocol dictates that you have all testing of Ancient technology cleared through me. Funny, I don't remember giving this particular experiment a green light."
"Well, that's just ridiculous," whined Swanson. "I'm in engineering and you're merely a physicist. Why should I clear things through you?"
Did the man seriously just say merely a physicist? Rodney took a deep calming breath. Not yet. "You clear everything through me because I'm in charge of all scientists, a department you fall under for some unfathomable reason. Okay, so far you failed to follow the first two steps of proper protocol. And then you had the colonel activate an untested, improperly researched 10,000 year old piece of Ancient equipment. And you think Sheppard is the idiot? How did the console blow up?"
Swanson had the sense to look embarrassed and rubbed the side of his head thoughtfully. "Uh, I hooked the scanner . . . thingy up to the console and to my computer. I thought once activated, I could use it. I was pretty sure it would diagnose all engineering problems and needed repairs in the city and . . . well, . . . "
"You thought you'd look pretty smart when you presented Woolsey with a detailed list of everything wrong with Atlantis," Rodney finished for him. "So basically you conducted an unauthorized experiment and ignored all safely protocol, practically killing the military head of the city so you would look good in front of the expedition leader." Rodney shook his head. "I'd say you have no right to call anyone in this galaxy an idiot, much less Sheppard. And for the record, the explosion is your fault, not Sheppard's. He did the only thing he was supposed to – activate the device. You, however, failed to do anything you were supposed to do."
"But . . . but . . . "
"No! Once the infirmary clears you, you are confined to quarters until further notice. I can get Major Lorne to assign guards if I need to. He won't be happy that you've blown Sheppard up. It means a lot more paperwork for him." Rodney crossed his arms as Swanson huffed and snorted a few times before stomping out of the room with the medic that had been tending him.
With a sigh, Rodney turned to see them raise the gurney with Sheppard. His neck was encased in a cervical collar and they had placed him on a backboard, which sent Rodney's blood pressure back up to the stratosphere until he heard Sheppard complaining to Keller.
"Doc," the pilot drawled. "This really isn't necessary. I think I just bumped my head."
"That's a little more than a bump, colonel. Tell you what, I won't tell you how to fly jumpers if you won't tell me how to practice medicine." Her voice was firm, but she smiled at her patient while patting his hand.
"Okay, I guess I can live with that." It was hard to tell from this angle, but it looked like Sheppard had rolled his eyes. As the gurney wheeled by, John reached out his hand. "McKay?"
Rodney walked over to stand where Sheppard could see him, and with the injured man's head immobilized that pretty much meant right over his face. "Hey, Sheppard. I see you and Jennifer have been playing dress up."
Sheppard just grunted in response and then frowned as he looked up at Rodney. His face went through a myriad of emotions and then finally neutralized. "Rodney, I just . . . I wanted . . . thanks."
"For what?" Rodney was confused for a moment before the virtual light bulb went off. "Oh . . . you heard that?"
"I was in and out for a while, but . . . I heard enough."
Rodney was aware his mouth gaped open, but it was a moment before he managed to regain control. "Yes, well . . . don't let it go to your head."
John barked out an odd laugh as the gurney began moving again. "My head . . . right."
Rodney almost jumped when Jennifer gave his arm a squeeze. "You're a good friend, Rodney." Then she followed the rest of her team out the door. Suddenly Rodney ran to catch up.
"Wait! What did he mean by that?"