Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters of Stargate Atlantis….*sniff*
Summary: Tag for the Storm and the Eye. Guilt is a heavy burden even upon the greatest of minds. Rodney McKay knows this very well after what he considers to be a cowardly deed. McKaySheppard Friendship (a little Beckett thrown in there too!).
Dr. Rodney McKay peered out over the balcony to the calm sea below. It was amazing that twenty-four hours ago that same sea seemed destined to annihilate them. Twenty-four hours since the city had been captured by the Genii, twenty-four hours since his insane plan had been put into place, twenty-four hours since he'd broken.
He glanced down at the messy bandage on his arm. He had never been good at first aid but even he knew not to put the bandage over the jacket, but that would have meant removing the jacket and have been confronted with his failure. Because that's what it was, a failure to keep his mouth shut while some stupid kid with a knife scratched his arm. A part of himself knew that it was more than just a scratch and that it probably needed several stitches but the prospect of seeking medical attention made him feel sick. He knew the questions that would result from that and he didn't think he could stand the disappointment in their eyes, the recognition of his failure. The look he had grown accustomed to at home when he grew up on the faces he trusted…..he respected. No, he couldn't deal with that right now.
He sighed as Carson's face popped into his head with Teyla not far behind. God….he had almost gotten them killed because he couldn't wait. Two GOD DAMN MINUETES and he couldn't wait. He turned away from the view and sank against the railing, the bruise on his back flared on impact but he ignored it and dropped to the floor. He pulled his hands up and clasped his weary head. Why couldn't he have been stronger? Held out against a cut on the arm? He looked again at the bandage with disgust… 'Yeah, the great Rodney McKay saves the day again. What a joke.' He thought. He didn't know how long he sat out there mulling over his failures but when he finally looked up darkness had overcome the horizon and seemed to engulf him as he slowly stood and made his way back inside.
Major John Sheppard awoke slowly from his deep sleep. God he felt so much better after a good night's rest. He raised himself on his elbows and looked at the clock and chuckled as it read 2:00 PM. 'Well', he amended, ' a night and a half a day's rest.' He stared up at the ceiling letting out a sigh of contentment. His mind began to wander to the previous day's events. To think this had all started with him and Teyla's 'weather forecasting' and led to an entire invasion of the city. He finally pushed all the thought away and got up to change.
After showering quickly and a quick change of clothes he decided to make his way down to the mess hall. He walked down the corridors noting the light attitude everyone seemed to have. They were all chattering aimlessly about their own theories as to what had happened during the storm. They all knew the Genii had invaded the city but Dr. Weir had purposely left out the details. The city was abuzz with gossip. It aggravated him to no end; they had all been safe and dry during the storm, completely oblivious to goings on at Atlantis and come back to find that the city had survived not only the horrible storm but an invasion as well. Their cheerfulness felt wrong after such a tragedy, after all they had lost two good men and he had been forced to kill so many soldiers.
His thoughts were interrupted as he entered the mess hall and spotted the only two people not talking excitedly. Elizabeth Weir and Carson Beckett sat at the table both weary eyed and slouched in a way that appeared to ward off any potential cheery visitors. He grabbed a tray of food and made his way over to them. He sat down at on the side of Dr. Weir and both heads looked at his presence. Elizabeth gave him a slight smile.
" Looks as though you got plenty of rest." She said.
" Yeah, I needed it. I about passed out after we got everybody home." He said.
She nodded her head in agreement and he continued, " Did you guys get any rest?"
" Yes, actually. I woke up only an hour ago feeling, I'll admit, much better being warm." Elizabeth said.
" Aye." Beckett commented. Sheppard noticed the way he squinted under the lights of the mess hall.
" Hey Doc, how's the head?" He asked remembering the bloody nose and disorientation after Sora had clogged him. Once they had everyone back Beckett was looked at and given a prognosis of a mild concussion but nothing too serious.
" Hurts, but pain medication 'tis a wonderful thing." He said shortly.
" No kidding." Sheppard smirked.
He glanced around the mess and took in the cheery faces and laughter that seemed out of place after yesterday's events. He sighed and began eating his food, the warmth seemed to radiate throughout his body.
" So who asked the Chef to prepare soup?" he questioned his two companions.
" I did. I thought we all needed something warm after sitting out in that storm so long." Elizabeth said. " Plus, chicken noodle soup's my favorite. " she quipped.
He chuckled. "Mine too." As he dug into his soup he noted something felt off. It took him awhile to pinpoint it as they sat there in comfortable silence.
" Have either of you seen McKay today?" Sheppard asked as he put his now empty soup bowl to the side.
" Can't say I 'ave." Said Beckett. He seemed to contemplate his answer before noting, " I 'aven't seen him since after everybody was safe and sound. He was doing a diagnostic to see which systems were damaged by the flooding."
" I can't say I have seen him either. He's probably asleep, after all he did he deserves a good night's rest. From what Radek told me he had been up all night long before the storm making the final calculations to release the grounding stations and allow for the energy to flow through the corridors." She said.
" Did he get that cut looked at?" he asked Beckett.
" What cut?" Carson asked curiously.
" He had a bandage around his arm and he said that he got some kind of cut. I can't say where he got it though I didn't think to ask." Sheppard replied.
Elizabeth's eyes had darkened at the mention of Rodney's arm. She knew that he probably didn't want anyone to know where he got the cut but if he wasn't seeking medical attention then she was forced to tell.
" I led Sora and a team of genii to get the wraith data device and some medical supplies. When I returned Rodney's arm was bleeding and Kolya knew the plan to save the city." She said regretfully.
" What!" Sheppard's voice became low and deadly.
" Are ya sayin they tortured him for the plan?" Carson asked urgently.
Elizabeth only nodded, incapable of speaking at the moment remembering Kolya's dead eyes and a frightened Rodney apologizing to her. She hadn't thought to check on him, he was acting normally. She realized that should have tipped her off right away, no one could act normal after such an event.
Sheppard's eyes grew cold at Elizabeth's nod. No wonder they had not seen their resident genius. He was probably trying to avoid everyone and everything, escape from reality. He needed to find him but where to look. He glanced at the others noting their worried faces and he devised a plan of action.
" Elizabeth go to the control room and see if Grodin can find him on sensors. Beckett, you check the infirmary and see if he was seen any time today. I'll go check his lab and his quarters." He waited for the determined nods, then jumped from his chair and made his way briskly to McKay's domain.
Rodney scrubbed his hands over his face trying desperately to wipe the sleep out of his eyes. The wound in his arm burned and seem to inflame anytime the appendage moved while the bruises on his back and other parts of his body seemed to make themselves known the more time he spent on his work bench. All he wanted was to forget, to wash it all away with the receding tide. However his subconscious had decided otherwise, his attempt at sleep was soon thwarted as his mind slowed down enough for him to realize exactly what he had done. He could have destroyed the entire city if the Major hadn't been there, or worse he would have let it fall into the hands of the Genii.
He stared back at the screen on the laptop trying to focus on the numbers that appeared there. It seemed the flood hadn't been all that bad. While there was still damage it seemed that the section was intact and basically in no immediate danger. He would have to bring a team to check it out later but so far so good. He allowed himself a moment of reprieve and slouched at his stool his head meetings his arms to form a kind of pillow on his desk. He couldn't take this for much longer. How many times had he been in life threatening situations since embarking on this trip to another galaxy? He found himself chuckling darkly at the fact that he had lost count. How many people could say that they lost count as to how many times they almost died?
He straightened his back holding back a moan as his battered body protested. His eyes searched the lab finding it still mercifully empty, he had sent all the scientists to lunch in the old McKay fashion of shouting until their ears bled. Zelenka had remained for some time until enough of Rodney's biting remarks had too led him packing. He knew that he could count on them not returning for an hour at least as he had made it remarkably clear that anyone coming back better have an important reason to be there. The questioning looks he received were silenced with one menacing glare that he held back for just the right occasion. His thoughts were interrupted at the sound of someone clearing their throat.
" Something I can do for you Major?" he asked. He really did not want to talk to anyone but especially the Major.
" Just wondering what you been up to." said the Major carefully " I hadn't seen you since yesterday so I figured I go track you down."
" Well you found me. Now be a good little doggy and go find someone else." McKay quipped.
While the words were right the tone lacked the usual energy and snap that Rodney McKay brought to the conversation. Just looking at him made John tired. The dark circles around the eyes were in startling contrast with the pallor of his skin. The disheveled hair and rumpled uniform gave him a very unkempt look which for Rodney did not suit him at all. Add that to the messy bandage clumsily wrapped around his arm and the man looked like a disaster. His eyes were drawn to the bandage as he noticed a faint pink showing through the thick fabric. His worry went up another notch but he kept his light tone.
" Why should I when you've got all the treats stacked away." He said with a smirk. Everyone knew of the stash of power bars Rodney hid from the rest of the base and even with the food shortage no one had asked for him to give it up. They all figured it was a small price to pay for him to save their asses time and time again.
" Ha ha." he rolled his eyes " I need those for my hypoglycemia. If my blood sugar drops below…"
" I know Rodney. Don't worry I won't sneak into your stash." Sheppard cut him off mid rant.
Rodney stopped talking and glared at Sheppard but left it at that. He returned to his laptop studiously ignoring the major as he tapped a few commands into the counsel. This did not bode well for the mental state of the scientist if that's all the sarcasm he could come up with. Sheppard took a nearby stool and dragged it across to the same table Rodney was working and promptly plopped into it.
" So, did you get that cut looked at yet?" he asked.
" I told you Carson's busy." He replied shortly not taking his eyes off the screen.
" Really" Said John " because I just saw him and he did not look to happy that you didn't tell him about that little cut of yours."
McKay glanced up at him "What did you tell him." He asked nervously.
Sheppard frowned at the tone. " Only that I hadn't seen you and whether you had been down to see him yet. Why?"
" No reason." Rodney replied quickly. He turned back to the screen but had trouble focusing on the numbers again. He glanced back at the Major and noted his concerned gaze.
" I'm fine, Major." He said simply.
Sheppard had about enough of this. He needed to get to the bottom of the problem so that he could escort McKay down to the infirmary. He was getting more pale as he talked to him and the noticeable shaking in his hands did not escape the Major's eye either.
" Really, because if I had been tortured I think the last thing I would be feeling is 'fine'." He said.
Rodney stiffened and his eyes grew huge. There was a desperate look in them that Sheppard was worried to see. McKay's gaze dropped to the floor as he seemed to deflate. It looked as though he had the entire world on his shoulders.
They sat a moment in silence until McKay's voice broke it " I….I didn't….um ..I don't.." his tone was timid and all the snark that was Rodney McKay seemed to disappear. John watched his friend struggle with the words and as his eyes darted everywhere but Sheppard himself.
" Come on, Rodney. Let's go to the infirmary." He said gently. He figured he could coax it out of McKay on the way. He made a move to take Rodney's arm and help him up when McKay jumped up abruptly.
" NO!" he shouted. The effect was diminished though as he went paper white and swayed on his feet. Sheppard reached out just in time to catch the man before he took a header into the worktable. He gently laid the man down and then reached up to his radio.
" Beckett!" he all but shouted.
" What is it?" Carson replied immediately.
" I need you in McKay's lab. He just collapsed." He said. At the sound of conformation he looked down and saw McKay starting to stir. When the blue eyes finally opened it took awhile for them to seem to focus on anything.
" Hey." Sheppard said.
McKay's eyes wandered for a minute before resting on the Major. His eyes shifted as the memories came flooding back. He tried to sit up but the major's hand on his chest held him down.
" Stay still for a minute. That was quite an impressive fall." He smirked trying to belay his concerns. When the moving continued he used a harder tone. " I'm serious McKay. Carson we'll be here any second. Just take a minute to rest while he looks you over."
If anything that distressed McKay more as he frantically tried to sit up. " You called Beckett?" he asked alarmed.
" Of course I called Beckett!" Sheppard said. " You just about took a header into your own work bench."
Sheppard looked up at the sound of the door. Carson's face came into view but only him and none of his associates seemed to be tailing him with a gurney.
" No gurney?" Sheppard asked.
" They'll be around in a few minutes. I figured I'd head down while they gathered all the other equipment." He then strode his way too them and kneeled beside McKay.
" How long did he lose consciousness?" Beckett asked as he took out his penlight and shined it on Rodney's eyes.
" About a minute or so. Long enough for me to call you." replied Sheppard. McKay didn't say a word as Carson continued to look him over. Carson finally came to the bandage on his arm and began unwinding the material. McKay tried to pull his arm away but the physician's strong hold made the resistance futile. Once the bandage was removed the air came thick with tension.
Sheppard's eyes became dark as he saw the wound. Damn. This was no 'cut' this was a whole new level of hurt. The gash itself was small in length but it was deep and the edges were uneven as though the blade had cut that very spot more than once. His stomach clenched as he realized that the gash was still bleeding leaving red stained bandages and blood dropping lazily to the floor.
McKay turned his face away in shame; this was all it took to break him. This little slice on his arm and a couple of punches was all it took for him to spill the entire plan to the sadistic Genii commander. He did not want to see the disappointment in his friend's faces or the blame.
Beckett's lips formed a thin line but that was the only reaction shown in the doctor's face. He spoke quietly to Rodney, " This needs stitches, when the gurney gets 'ere we'll go to the infirmary. Now, does anythin else hurt?"
Rodney found no sense in lying since they already knew the truth. He nodded and said, "Got a couple of bruises in a few uncomfortable places." Trying to lighten the mood he attempted his usual side smile but it turned to more of a grimace as Carson started to poke and prod his body. He heard the distinct sound of a gurney and lifted his head to see the medical team rush in.
Sheppard made his way towards the infirmary after the gurney had wheeled off with Rodney. He found Beckett next to him walking at his own leisurely pace.
" Shouldn't you be with him?" Sheppard asked more harshly then he intended.
" They'll take awhile gettin 'im settled. I was wonderin how you were faring in this ordeal." He stated quietly.
John sighed, " I can't believe what they did! I mean its Rodney for Christ's sake. He's not a soldier, not trained for this sort of thing!" his voice started to rise until it was almost a shout.
" Aye." Carson muttered darkly. " But it happened to him no matter what and I have a feelin' he's not dealin with it so well." The Scot said simply.
They rounded the corner and entered the infirmary. Rodney was on a bed in scrubs when they approached his eyes glanced at him and then suddenly turned away. Beckett approached him silently picking up a glucose monitor on the way and without warning stuck Rodney's finger with it.
" Ow! Hey what do you think you're doing?" Rodney complained. A little of the old McKay spark shown through the raccoon eyes and Sheppard had to hand it to Beckett, he knew how to get Rodney riled up.
Carson didn't say anything until the monitor beeped at him and he frowned at the numbers. " Rodney, when was the last time you ate?" he asked suspiciously.
" Um….. I think yesterday, before the storm hit." He said his eyebrows furrowing as he tried to remember when exactly his last meal was.
" Bloody hell, Rodney! Ya need ta eat!" Beckett scolded him.
" I haven't had much of an appetite." He muttered.
Beckett hooked up an IV containing a glucose drip and then turned his attention back to McKay.
" I'll need to take a look at those bruises and then we'll get that arm of yours patched up." He said. Then Sheppard and him helped Rodney out of his scrubs. The bruises he saw underneath were almost nauseating. Only his trained experience with these things allowed him to show no emotion however Sheppard could not hold back a "Shit" at the sight of the black and blue that now marred Rodney's torso. Rodney seemed unnoticing as Beckett probed the bruises looking for any signs of internal bleeding. Finding none he turned his ministrations to the arm and began stitching. It took twelve stitches to finally close the gash and he finally tied the last not. He looked at Rodney feeling uneasy as the man had uttered not one sound during the whole proceedings.
Sheppard stood to the side behind Beckett watching the whole process. His eyes never left McKay's and he knew that Rodney was aware of his gaze but he never looked up from the floor. He had always known McKay to be straight with him, never lie, always told you exactly what he was thinking looking everyone directly in the eye no matter how large a weapon you carried. That Rodney seemed gone and this shell of him was left behind to impersonate him. Hopefully the old McKay was still there somewhere and all he had to do was press the right buttons in order for him to show.
After McKay had finally been settled Carson took the opportunity to talk to Sheppard out of hearing range of Rodney's bed.
" Looks like they did a bloody number on 'im." said Carson letting some of the anger at his friends predicament show through.
" No kidding. If I ever get my hands on the men who did this…" Sheppard let his voice trail off and let the imagination speak for itself.
" Aye. But since we don't know who they are we need to focus on Rodney. He needs to open up, holding this all in is nay good for his health or his mental state."
" I know." Sheppard said simply " I'm gonna go talk to him if that's alright."
" Tis all right, but don't be long. Who knows how long it's been since he last slept! He needs his rest and don't get him too riled up it might cause more damage than harm." Beckett warned.
Sheppard nodded then made his way back to McKay's bedside. As he approached he noted the blue eyes staring at seemingly nothing. He wondered what McKay was thinking, what he was seeing.
" Hey buddy!" Sheppard said " I think you and I need to have a little talk."
McKay's eyes came up to him and the fear in them threw him off. What the hell was he afraid of?
" So….do you want to tell me what happened with Kolya?" he asked simply.
" Not particularly." McKay replied. What did Sheppard really want from him? Why was he here? Maybe he needed to be reassured that Rodney had not told the Genii more than the plan to save the city.
He sighed, " I'm sorry Major." He whispered.
" Sorry for what?" asked the Major lightly.
" For being weak, for not being able to hold out against a few guys, for not seeing a way out, for almost getting you killed and not waiting two minutes and almost getting Beckett and Teyla killed." He chuckled darkly " For being me." He whispered.
The admission almost broke John's heart. How could he have not seen this coming? How could Rodney think that all these things were his fault? How could he place the blame on any one man? He contemplated what he would say next and chose his words very carefully.
" You Rodney McKay are an idiot." He stated. McKay's head dropped down at that fearing what was to come but he continued, " You are in no way weak. You are one of the strongest people I know! You're not a soldier, you're not trained for this yet you stood up to the very man who tortured you. You saved Elizabeth's life and the rest of us when you manipulated the Genii at the end. So what if you needed to be reminded that you still had two minutes! That's what I am here for; to make sure everyone's head stays in the game! That's what your team is for, what your friends are for! You saved us all yesterday with that big head of yours and you're the one of the only reasons this city is still standing. Your plan saved the city, your big brain that you're always bragging about has saved us more times than I can count. You are no coward and I don't want you ever thinking that again!"
Sheppard finished his speech almost out of breath. He needed McKay to see what he saw every day, the strong man behind the cowardly exterior. The one he now called friend, and that in itself spoke to Rodney's true character. He watched closely at McKay's expression and watched as the cloud in his eyes cleared and he finally met John's gaze.
" Well of course I did! What do you expect from the smartest man in two galaxies." Rodney quipped.
Sheppard smiled in relief, he was back. " So no more moping around not sleeping or eating?" he asked hopefully.
" Moping? I do not mope! I simply ponder certain things with an appreciation that is beyond your comprehension." He snarked.
" All reight then!" he said still smiling. " I have to go before Beckett kicks me out so rest up we need you out there!"
" Okay." said Rodney sleepily.
Sheppard made his way to the exit when he heard a timid voice ask, " John?"
He turned around and found McKay looking up at him. " Yeah?" he asked.
" Thanks." Rodney whispered. Sheppard nodded and watched as Rodney's eyes closed for some well deserved rest. He exited the infirmary feeling better about almost everything. The cheerfulness didn't seem to grate at all anymore and he found himself sharing some of that joy. Rodney McKay was well on the way to recovery and all was right with the world.
All done! I finished this in a day since I found the start of it in an old notebook of mine and I just had to finish it! Hope you all enjoyed! Please Review!
All my luv!