Written for leesa_perrie on LiveJournal who donated to Help the South. She asked for a Rodney centric fic and hoped to see Carson as well. I hope you enjoy. Why don't people listen to Rodney? (Note - plain italics in their own line are thoughts; italics in quotes are being heard over the communicator) Folks, I don't own anything that you recognize!
"I told them. Didn't I tell them?"
Doctor Carson Beckett, Atlantis' leading medical doctor, paragon of patience, took a deep breath and rolled his eyes as the unending flow of words continued behind him. He understood the man's frustrations, but this could get out of hand. Coming to an abrupt stop, he turned to face that agitated scientist.
"Rodney," he said in a soft, but strained Scottish burr. "Let it go. I get that you're upset, but we've still got a bit of a walk ahead of us, and I'd rather not hear every English version of "I told you so," before we get to the gate."
Doctor Rodney McKay, Atlantis' leading scientist, paragon of tactless honesty, gave a small snort.
"So, you want to hear it after we get there?" he asked, before shaking his head. "And seriously? Why don't people ever listen to me?"
Carson heaved a sigh and rubbed his fingertips across his brow as Rodney ranted on. He knew it was the scientist's way of dealing with nerves, but it was giving him a bloody headache.
And it had started out as such a lovely day, too.
Early that morning, the two men had agreed to join one of the gate teams to visit a small village on a peaceful planet. According to Teyla, the people on this planet had an agricultural lifestyle with small villages scattered over the planet. Between her words and the team's report, both Weir and Sheppard considered it safe enough for the two men to join the team already there without additional back up. Rodney had been called for to look at some artifacts that the team had discovered. Carson wanted to accompany him so he could speak with the village elders about local diseases, cures, and treatments. Everything had gone along perfectly, without the slightest hint of trouble all morning.
As everyone had relaxed in the village square for the noon meal, Rodney had begun to get antsy. Despite the peaceful surroundings and warm hospitality, Atlantis' lead scientist would not settle. He paced the square, tiny though it was, eyes darting from the team to the surrounding area. His ever-present notepad tucked away, his hand kept creeping towards his weapon – almost unconsciously it seemed. Finally, Carson moved over to join him.
"Rodney," he said quietly, catching the man's arms. "What's the matter?"
The scientist actually twitched.
"It's too quiet," he replied, eyes continuing to dart around. "There's something very, very wrong here. Something is not right."
Carson frowned and looked around; trying to grasp what was bothering the man. He found nothing out of place. Children darted around the houses, playing some game that looked remarkably like tag. Women strolled down the market street, looking over the offerings of their neighbors while men sat and talked, relaxing before heading back to the field and the pasture.
"Now, Rodney…" he started.
"No!" interrupted Rodney. "Don't tell me I'm imagining things. We need to go back to the city. Now."
With that, the scientist strode over to the team and began badgering them about returning to Atlantis. Unfortunately, this was not his team, and they were less than inclined to take him seriously, or even to understand his rather impolite manner of speech. As Carson joined them, he could see the exasperation growing on the faces of the soldiers.
"Look," Rodney was saying, "I've looked at the artifacts, and they don't belong here! There is nothing, I repeat, nothing on this planet that could explain the presence of these things. It would be like finding Bronze Age weapons in the middle of the Canadian Rockies. They were planted…or something. Whatever. They don't belong here, and other than some vague academic value, they are basically worthless. We've traded for them, and everyone's had lunch, so let's go already."
As the scientist threw up his hands in annoyance, the team leader rolled his eyes.
"That's Doctor McKay to you," interrupted Rodney. The other man's lips folded in aggravation as his team glared.
"Fine, Doctor McKay, we've done the mission, and these nice folks have offered some fine hospitality. The least we can do is enjoy some downtime in a friendly atmosphere, and that is what we are going to do."
As the soldiers turned away, Rodney huffed.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Let's pay no attention to the man who routinely has to save the whole city. Be that way…stay if you want."
Giving a growl that Ronon would have admired, he turned around and began striding towards the outlying fields. As he passed Carson, he snagged one arm and began dragging the medical doctor along.
"Where are we going?"asked the bewildered Scotsman.
"Anywhere that's not here," snorted the furious Canadian.
After a long period of silence, they reached the tree line. Taking out his tracker, Rodney took a heading.
"Come on," he said. "The gate is that way."
Carson had been following along, hoping the man would walk his frustration out of his system. It did not seem to be working.
"Are you sure this is what you want to be doing?" he asked.
Rodney came to a stop and took a deep breath. Letting out a long sigh, he turned and gave Carson a steady look.
"Carson, I'm not Ronon, or Sheppard, or even Teyla – I don't normally sense threats. That's their expertise, and I'll leave it to them. I know I'm obsessive about my own safety; I've a tendency to be paranoid, and I can tick people off without trying. However, I am a scientist – I know when things don't add up, when the evidence doesn't make any sense. Those artifacts we came to see? They belong in a city; they reference a high level of technology and sophistication that this place has never had. So what are they doing here? Does the very oddity of their presence mean something is going to happen? No, but it doesn't mean we can ignore it either. I mean, really, this is Pegasus! Murphy doesn't just have a code of laws here; he damn well rules the place!"
The men stared at one another for several moments before glancing towards the village. Carson frowned – it appeared deserted. Less than half an hour before, it had been bustling with activity, and now the only apparent movement came from the small team of soldiers still seated in the square. When he started to move back down to the village, a hard hand grabbed his arm and pulled him to a stop. Looking over his shoulder, he blinked in surprise at the expression on Rodney's face. The narrowed eyes and hard mouth would have been more fitting on John Sheppard as opposed to the scientist. Carson followed his gaze back to the quiet scene.
The soldiers had begun reacting to the silence around them. As they stood, a roar echoed through the clearing. Rodney's head whipped around and he began taking readings on his pad.
"Damn," he said quietly.
"What?" snapped Carson.
"Shh!" Rodney hissed. Taking hold of the doctor's arm, he pulled him back into the tree line, out of sight of the village. The two men watched as a pack of…creature came out of the hills to the north of the village. The creatures seemed to be some strange reptile-wolf hybrid. As they loped into the square, the soldiers reacted immediately. Attempting to create some kind of barricade with the tables in the square, they brought their weapons to bear on the attacking creatures. Despite their firepower, and the number of creatures they brought down, it was obvious they were hopelessly outnumbered.
The two men jumped in surprise as the word crackled across their communication devices. Before either of them could answer, the team leader's voice continued.
"Doctors, if you can hear me, get out of here! Get to the gate! It's a…"
The man's voice went silent as the device crackled loudly in their ears. Before Carson could move, Rodney began pushing him into the trees. With a focused determination, the scientist had his pad in front of him and kept taking readings to make sure they were on the right track. After a half-hour of walking, Rodney had relaxed slightly and then began complaining.
And has yet to stop.
As Carson's thoughts came back to the present, he heard Rodney heave a deep sigh.
"Finally," the scientist muttered as his communicator came to life. Carson had to agree with the sentiment.
With a quick grin at his companion, Rodney toggled his communicator.
"Sheppard, where the hell have you been?"
Carson gaped at the ridiculous question – it was not like there had been any reason for Atlantis to be concerned. He realized he had misjudged the cue when John's voice came back hard and furious.
"What went wrong?"
An expression of tired unhappiness came over Rodney's face.
"There was an attack – some kind of strange native life form, looked like half-wolf, half-komodo. Communication's out."
"He's with me. We were on the outskirts."
"We've got you now. Be right there."
The two men watched as a Jumper came over the rise and settled in the small clearing just ahead of them. They trudged in that direction as the rear hatch opened. John, Ronon, and Teyla stepped out, eyes searching the surrounding trees, weapons at the ready. As the two doctors drew closer, Ronon and Teyla took up protective positions as John met them. Eyes narrowed and searching, his gaze raked over the sorrowful and horror-filled expression on Carson's face while also taking in the distress and lingering anger in Rodney's. John closed his eyes, sorrow and frustration crossing over his face.
"We'll take the Jumper and check out the village from above. Those things didn't have wings did they?"
Carson shook his head. Rodney crossed his arms over his chest and just looked away. With a hand on his arm, John led him back to the Jumper, nodding at Carson to follow. Ronon and Teyla followed, their focus still on the trees around them even while they gave their silent teammate looks of deep concern.
On the Jumper, Rodney just sat on one of the benches even though Carson had expected him to move to the front. Teyla took a seat next to him while Ronon moved Carson over to the seat behind John. He then moved to sit on the other side of the scientist. The medical doctor could see the depth of the bond between the members of Atlantis' lead gate team. He knew they cared of course – it was hard to miss considering how often one or the other of them ended up in his care. However, this little misadventure was driving it home. They had not questioned Rodney on their lack of injuries or why the men had been away from the rest of the team. There was no suspicion or distrust in their gazes, only genuine concern. An explanation could wait until the scientist felt capable of giving it – they would take care of him in the meantime.
As the Jumper passed over the village, Carson did not look, preferring to watch his erstwhile companion. Rodney kept his eyes trained on the bulkhead across from him. Teyla took his hand and waited with him while Ronon moved up to stand at Sheppard's shoulder.
Ronon's quiet expletive sounded loud inside the silent vehicle. John said nothing, but his lips folded tightly in anger. With swift sure moves, he brought the Jumper about and left the village. Carson twitched, almost asking, but biting his voice back at the last moment. John had caught the movement.
"There's no point in landing," bit out the pilot tensely.
In silence, they returned to their city, and disembarked. As Rodney strode quickly out of the gate room with Teyla right behind him, Carson snagged John's arm.
"He tried," the doctor began.
"I know," sighed John. "He tried to warn them and they ignored him."
Carson cocked an eyebrow in question. Ronon snorted.
"Soldiers keep forgetting – he's part of the lead team too. Man's loud – not blind."
"Yeah," John agreed. "He doesn't have a fighter's instincts, and I hope to God he never has to develop them, but he's not stupid. When things don't add up, he's going to notice. Some of these guys just don't get it – it's safest to assume the worst in Pegasus. If things are off, things are wrong."
The doctor gave a thoughtful nod and the two men took that as a cue they could go. As he made his way slowly to his quarters, he realized that he had been guilty of the same mistake. He had underestimated the man badly. Rodney's ego and tactlessness, even his scientific genius, led people to ignore his other qualities. He was a part of the lead gate team, and kept up with them. All three of his teammates were superlative fighters, and they never questioned his right to be on their team. If they trusted his instincts when they flared up, why shouldn't everyone else?
Rodney's lack of social skills hid his deep sense of responsibility and concern for those around him. He had never learned to show friendship and love in a normal way, so he hid behind scathing remarks and sarcastic commentary. No one had ever bothered to try and get behind those walls – no one until John Sheppard. Sheppard had seen something in the rude scientist and had worked to find the man behind the multiple degrees. The crack that had opened led to Teyla and Ronon finding their way behind his walls as well. Now, that small foursome had created their own family. Others were allowed on the outskirts, but no one else shared the silent communication and understanding that existed in the exclusive circle. He felt honored to be a friend.
I've got to change the visitation policy for them – any time one of them is a patient, the others get full access.
With a deep sigh, he entered the cool quiet of his quarters. Despite the loss of life and the troubles that could come from that, he could not regret the insight he had been given to his friend, to the differences from their first days in the city. It would give him something to consider over the days to come…how deeply people had changed by coming to Atlantis.