Genius Has Its Limits
begun 7/25/10, finished Sept. 2010
Summary: John thinks Rodney does something stupid.
My thanks to Lyn. You're a wonderful beta reader. Thank you for taking on another 'project'. Any and all remaining errors are 'so' mine.
Disclaimer: The characters and settings of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis belong to Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Film Corporation. All other publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis or any other media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. This story was written by ljc with the love of the show in mind.
The mission had gone as planned. Easier than planned. Unbelievably uninterestingly easier than planned. Sheppard was bored. Teyla was bored. Ronon was more than bored, and he couldn't even pace in the confines of the Puddlejumper. Rodney had noticed Sheppard and Teyla exchanging glances while trying to draw Ronon into conversation. They looked a little worried, like Ronon would take out his knives and start sharpening them or something.
Rodney kept glancing surreptitiously at the rest of his team and smirked to himself. So typical. He always had his laptop with him, so he was never bored. There were always dozens of things he could be doing: planning, scheduling, designing, deciphering, calculating, or something. And for most of that he didn't even need the laptop. He went back to today's 'something', that was really a convoluted virtual reality video game that had arrived on the Daedalus (for which he 'did' need his laptop), and he wasn't about to share it, at least, not yet. He hadn't beaten it yet. But he would; he was sure.
Everything was A-OK. Situation Normal. But then that IS where the the acronym SNAFU started.
A just noticeable 'pop'. The lights went out. Dead silence. Very dead silence … as in no-air-moving-we're-soon-to-be-dead, silence.
Sheppard said carefully, "McKay, were you doing something I should know about?"
"Right. Of course, it had to be me. I, who was just sitting here pla - uh, working away on my laptop ..."
"McKay, maybe you haven't noticed but your laptop is the only thing that seems to be working right now. Could you maybe use it to find out what's up with the Puddlejumper?"
Rodney froze, then asked, "I can't feel any connection with the 'Jumper. Can't you? You're the pilot!"
"If I could, I would. Okay? Could you get on that, Rodney? Haven't you beaten that game yet?"
Rodney sniffed disgustedly, because 'no', he hadn't. He began a hookup with the main diagnostics and got a feeble response, which was good. Really. But it was bad. Oh, so very bad. "Uh, well … this doesn't look too ..."
"What? … Too good? What?"
"No! It doesn't look too good."
Ronon rumbled a response that sounded Satedan, and Rodney was pretty sure he didn't want to ask for a translation.
Teyla, like the others, could be seen only dimly in the light of the laptop, but Rodney could see her tight-lipped composure slip into place.
"McKay. Can you enlighten us please?" Sheppard growled impatiently.
"Well, we were running with minimum shields."
"We weren't under attack, near a sun, or otherwise in a potentially dangerous situation. That's normal procedure. What happened?"
John Sheppard looked blank for a moment then said, "It couldn't have been very big."
"Well, duh! We are still alive."
"And sitting in the dark."
"Yes, well, it only has to be just big enough … and hit just the right spot … to kill us."
Rodney could feel the change in atmosphere and it wasn't because of the lack of the sound of air flowing through the vents.
Sheppard leaned toward him in the gloom. "You 'can' fix this, McKay, right?"
Rodney stopped tapping for a moment and decided evasion was the correct choice for the moment. Or lying. He really hoped he wasn't lying. "Of course I can. Just give me a moment." He started tapping faster, and then stopped. Well, this was really, really bad. He really hadn't wanted to be lying. It really was a one in a … Oh, hell, he didn't have time to figure the odds. But something needed figuring. How long could they last without the air scrubbers? Not long, with four people in this small space.
Power then. Get power back, and get to Atlantis. It wasn't far. Just the next solar system over. The power diagnostics ran quickly through their paces and Rodney sighed in relief. They'd been knocked offline, but would come up quickly. Time? Not enough. Not enough for four. Rodney froze for a moment then powered up.
Everyone looked relieved but John.
Rodney noticed that his fingers were shaking slightly so he snapped them quickly and pointed to the rear of the 'Jumper. "All of you. To the overhead panels. I'll need your help."
Sheppard jumped up and unlatched the panel at the back, above the side seats and storage bins. Rodney looked at Ronon and Teyla and said, "Go. Go. He's going to need your help." He gave them his best glare.
They moved quickly, but looked a little doubtful. They didn't know much about 'Jumper tech, not enough to be of much use with repairs. But if Rodney said to help Sheppard, they'd do their best.
Rodney looked at the three of them and hit the strategic buttons on his laptop. A shield came instantly into place between the front and back halves of the 'Jumper.
John looked surprised, then suspicious. "Rodney? What's going on?"
Rodney stood slowly, and with great regret said, "I'm sorry." He pressed another button on the laptop and a hiss came from both sides of the rear compartment.
Teyla coughed and stumbled. Ronon caught her barely in time to prevent a bad landing, and passed out himself as he cushioned her fall, all the while glaring at McKay.
John had been quicker. He'd held his breath, but knew it was pointless. "McKay! What are you doing? What have you done?" He didn't have time for more before he too passed out.
Rodney visibly winced, because John was going to have a heck of a bump on his head. And he cringed inwardly because he knew that Colonel Sheppard thought he'd betrayed them. To save himself. After Doranda, maybe Rodney couldn't blame him.
He didn't have time to worry about it though. Maybe none of them had time, but he was going to give it his best shot. And 'his' best was pretty hard to match, much less surpass.
He went to the controls of the 'Jumper and set it for automatic. It would take them to Atlantis then perform the actions Rodney calculated were necessary. It wouldn't take long to get there. Just too long for four. But he tried.
The file on available sedatives that he'd accessed to 'gas' the rest of the team had reminded him of a long rambling talk he'd had with Carson Beckett after the stasis pods were discovered on Atlantis. Something had niggled at the back of mind as he gasped his last conscious breaths. A couple more taps, another hiss of gas, and Rodney had finished his task to the best of his ability.
The 'Jumper followed the automated commands and reached Atlantis in record time. The inertial dampeners had been stressed but had held up under the emergency acceleration. At the appointed time, a hiss of gas was released into the cabin to awaken the sleeping occupants as per Rodney's hurried programming.
John Sheppard scrunched his face up and groaned. He had the headache to end all headaches. He rubbed tentatively at the lump on his forehead. Then he remembered.
"MCKAY!" He sat up abruptly, winced, and then saw Rodney at the controls, slumped over his laptop. "McKay! Rodney!" The shield was still up, but he halted his efforts to take control of the 'Jumper when he realized it was landing in the 'Jumper Bay on Atlantis. Instead, he turned to Ronon and Teyla when he heard them begin to stir.
Ronon roared out, "McKay, you wait till I get my hands on you!"
Teyla palmed her forehead, looking nauseated. She scanned the 'Jumper and looked questioningly at John, "Rodney isn't moving."
John looked back at Rodney in confusion. "What just happened here anyway?"
At that, the 'Jumper's back section opened and the shield went down, and Dr. Carson Beckett and a med team pushed their way through.
John muttered softly as if to himself, "Yeah, we're okay, Doc. Don't worry about us." But he stopped in horror when he saw the team lift Rodney down to put him on a stretcher.
They tried to stay out of the way, but John wanted answers. Still, there was no way he'd interfere with Beckett's treatment of Rodney. They followed the med team to the Infirmary.
John tried to get something, anything, out of the Doc before he disappeared for what could be hours in the exam room with Rodney. "Carson. What's going on?"
"No time now, Colonel. The lifesigns the 'Jumper sent us showed us you were fine. Now leave me to 'ma job."
John, Ronon, and Teyla were left in the hall to wait for further answers.
It wasn't long before Elizabeth showed up. She looked grim and she carried Rodney's laptop.
They all stood but Elizabeth waved them to silence and otherwise ignored them as she pushed through the doors to the exam room and talked hurriedly to Beckett. Carson looked quickly at the laptop, scanning through several pages before looking pleased.
That was good. Right? John thought.
The pace of treatment changed, and Beckett injected a fluid into Rodney's IV. Then he stepped back and took Rodney's wrist in his hand, checking his pulse, as if not trusting the machines working all around him.
It wasn't much more than an hour later that Beckett came out. He stopped to update the team on Rodney's condition. He had the laptop with him. He started to say something then changed his mind. He tapped a couple of buttons on the laptop and handed it to Colonel Sheppard. "Rodney will be fine, but he'll have a dreadful headache when he wakes." Turning directly to Sheppard, he said, "Colonel, you should read this."
John took the laptop with trepidation. He was afraid that he knew what was on it. Teyla and Ronon crowded around to read over his shoulder.
/Sorry. No time. Not enough oxygen. Not enough for four. There's enough for three. I think. I hope they make it. Sorry I had to betray them but it was the only way I could think of to save them. Trying the chemical stasis all the 'Jumpers still carry per Beckett's orders. Tell Carson. Hope it works. Hope the expiration date on the stuff is longer than 10,000 years. Carson, tell them I'm sorry./
Rodney scrunched up his face and moaned. He whispered pathetically, "I really hope I'm waking up in Carson's infirmary. And I want some aspirin. Now. Ow."
John grinned and shook his head. "You got better stuff than aspirin."
Rodney slowly rolled his head to look at John. The question in his eyes was unspoken.
John hung his head. "I should have known you'd do something stupid like that."
Rodney sputtered weakly, "Stupid! I saved all of you, didn't I?" Then he sat up abruptly, grabbed his head, moaned, opened both pain-filled eyes and whispered, "Didn't I?"
John reached out and patted Rodney's arm, "Yes! You did. Stupidest stunt you've pulled in a … a … week, maybe."
Rodney slumped in relief. "Good." He sighed heavily. "But not stupid."
John said, "Yeah, maybe, but I've learned that genius has its limits. There are times when they can't come up with a brilliant answer. So, don't try something stupid like that again. That's an order."
Rodney hmmed noncommittally and leaned back. "It's only stupid if it doesn't work. Therefore it wasn't stupid." Then he murmured pitifully, "Ow."
"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."