Title: 2000 Light Years Away
Series: Light the Way
Series Order: 1
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Relationship(s): Rodney McKay/John Sheppard
Content Rating: PG
Warnings: Season 1 SGA;
Word Count: 2150
Summary: An ancient device helps John get something he wants.
The first package arrived in the middle of the night. Or so Zelenka informed Rodney the next afternoon during their daily meeting. Rodney had seen the package in question on his desk in the lab when he entered that morning, but didn’t open it. He didn’t have time to deal with whatever joke was being played this time. The Wraith were coming and ego or not; he knew he was their best hope at finding something to help them.
“You didn’t open it?” The other scientist asked, noticing the colorful fabric-wrapped box was still sitting, unopened on the desk.
Rodney shrugged, looking over the figures Radek had just handed him. “Didn’t have time for another practical joke.”
“What makes you so sure it’s a joke?” Radek asked picking up the box in question. The fabric was soft, similar to Earth silk, neatly tied with a matching ribbon, a design similar to one he’d seen some of the Athosians wearing. It seemed like whoever had wrapped this package had gone to a little trouble.
“What else could it be?” Rodney asked seriously, still staring at the report.
“Maybe you have a secret admirer.” Carson Beckett said with a smile as he entered the lab. Radek was late for lunch and that invariably meant he could be found in Rodney’s lab. The man had absolutely no regard for other people’s schedules and frequently forgot when it was time to stop working himself.
Rodney snorted as he looked up for the first time but didn’t actually comment.
“He might be right.” Radek said seriously after a moment before turning to Carson. “Lunch?”
“Aye, I’ll meet ye in the lounge.” Carson turned to go.
Rodney heard the doctor leave as his eyes trailed over to the package before meeting his friend’s eyes. “Why would anyone send me…anything?” He shook his head again and walked over to the desk with a sigh. “But if you’ll shut up, I’ll open it.” A bit worried about what might be inside, he picked up the package carefully.
The ribbon untied easily, and he lifted the top off. Tissue paper covered whatever was inside. Dipping his fingers into the box, he lifted the paper-wrapped object out. His brow crinkled as he stripped the paper off an oddly shaped box. Not quite an octagon, but close. The sides appeared to move and shift, almost like a complicated Rubik’s Cube.
Radek stood behind him and stared as Rodney turned the object over. “What is it?”
The box was made of an unknown element that resembled granite and was covered in strange symbols.
“This looks Ancient.” Rodney said as he ran his fingers over what appeared to be a pattern in the writing.
“What does it say?” Radek asked.
“I’m not entirely sure.” he pointed to one section of the inscription. “I think this says…unlock the code.” Rodney’s brow scrunched further. “And this looks like some sort of equation, but…”
“Let me see.” Radek plucked the object from Rodney’s hands and examined it more closely. “Hmmm, there looks to be a section missing.” He peered a little closer at a block of what seemed to be script. “What does this say?” he asked, pointing.
Rodney stared at the writing in question. “I’m not sure.” Rodney admitted, somewhat reluctantly.
Before any further examination could be made, Dr. Weir’s voice echoed through the room’s comm system, reminding Rodney he had a briefing to attend. The astrophysicist placed the object back into its box and grabbed his notes, leaving Radek to his lunch date.
“So…any luck with that gizmo?” Major Sheppard asked at breakfast the next morning.
“Which gizmo would that be?” Rodney asked with a raised brow.
“That puzzle box from your…admirer.”
“How did you hear about that?” Rodney asked suspiciously.
“Beckett may have mentioned something about it.” Sheppard smirked slightly, remembering the doctor theorizing on who may have gone to such trouble to wrap such an intriguing gift for their arrogant scientist. “So, any luck?”
“Not really. It seems to need some sort of mathematical code to open it, but it’s missing some pieces.” Rodney shrugged.
“Hmm.” Sheppard answered noncommittally before changing the subject.
“You have another…gift.” Radek Zelenka said walking into Rodney’s lab late that afternoon.
“What?” Rodney asked absently as he ran another set of numbers through his simulation.
“Another gift, Rodney. I think Carson may be correct, you do have a secret admirer.” Radek answered, setting down a flat box wrapped in the same fabric as the previous package.
Rodney snorted. He was well aware of Carson Beckett’s propensity to believe in all sorts of romantic notions. But it was Rodney McKay’s position that there was no one in the Pegasus Galaxy who would take the trouble to send him love gifts. It had to be something else entirely.
“Open it.” Radek suggested.
“Fine.” Rodney released a long-suffering sigh and pushed his laptop away slightly and began to unwrap this new offering.
Once the box was unwrapped, Rodney removed what looked to be a flat piece of the same granite-like substance as the puzzle box. This one also had writing on it, but instead of script of some kind this looked to be a sort of key, almost like a map legend.
“What is?” Rodney asked pulling out the first gift and comparing the text on both.
“Here, this part here, I think it’s the missing part of the equation.”
Rodney put down the granite and took the box from Radek’s hands. He twisted it around, trying to find the part of the code he had been having trouble with earlier. “I think you’re right,” he said as he maneuvered the box so that one side was resting against another side in a way that hadn’t made sense before.
There was a click, then the box started to glow, a low hum emitting from it.
Rodney noticed a door he hadn’t seen before and tried to lift it. It opened much easier than he anticipated. Inside was a folded up piece of parchment and a triangular piece of metal that looked to be made of the same metal alloy from which much of Atlantis was built.
Setting the box aside, Rodney opened the parchment and stared at what appeared to be a map of some sort. Unlike the triangular object and the box itself, this didn’t seem to be of Ancient design. It looked like any other map, charting a path from Rodney’s lab to a section of Atlantis he had yet to visit.
“Are you going to follow it?” Radek asked with a small smile.
Rodney turned to his friend and scowled. “Why? It’s probably someone’s idea of a joke.”
“Rodney.” Radek chastised. “Why would someone go to all this trouble for a prank?”
“Why would someone go to all this trouble for…” Rodney didn’t finish the sentence.
“For you?” Radek finish quietly. “I’m not sure, but someone obviously knows the answer to that question, and you’ll never find out who or why unless you follow the map.”
Rodney continued to stare silently at the map as his friend and fellow scientist left the lab. He knew Radek was right, but if he followed the map and it was a joke, or worse, it wasn’t, there was no going back. Whoever or whatever he would find there wouldn’t be ignored. He wasn’t sure how he knew that, he just did.
“Very well.” He said to the empty room as he stood up, placing the triangular metal object in his pocket. It was time to let the map guide him where it would.
It took Rodney nearly an hour to reach his destination, and when he did, he found the door to a locked room. He was about to turn around and return to the safety of his lab when he noticed a triangular niche next to what looked like the locking mechanism of the door.
Pulling the small metal object out of his pocket, Rodney fit the triangle into the niche. There was a tiny click and a humming sound, similar to that of the box, and then the door slid opened. Rodney took a deep breath before stepping inside.
Hearing the door slide shut behind him, Rodney jumped slightly. “This is ridiculous.” He scolded himself before looking around the room.
The room appeared to be bare except for a low table in the center. The only lighting came from a phosphorescent stick sitting on the table next to what looked suspiciously like a picnic basket.
Rodney opened the basket, not sure what he might find inside, and couldn’t stop the snort that escaped at what was inside.
A bottle of Athosian liquor, two glasses and a dozen packages of MRE’s.
He heard the door slide open and shut behind him, but didn’t turn around. Although he hadn’t been sure before, now he was almost positive who was behind this.
“You know, Carson has Radek and half my staff thinking I have a secret admirer.” Rodney said as he pulled out the liquor and poured himself and his friend a glass.
“You say that like it couldn’t possibly be true.” John Sheppard said as he excepted the glass Rodney held out to him.
“Is it?” Rodney asked doubtfully.
“Yes.” John’s expression was serious.
“You know I’m an asshole, right?” Rodney asked, just to clarify.
“I had noticed that, yes.” John answered before leaning forward and kissing Rodney.
Rodney knew the kiss was coming. Still it was something of a shock. First lips, then tongue, then nothing as John was pulling away.
“This is madness, John.” Rodney said, more breathlessly than was warranted by one kiss.
“This is us.” John countered as he pulled out an MRE that purported to taste like macaroni and cheese but John suspected would actually taste like chicken.
Rodney raised an eyebrow. “Why the mystery? The puzzle box, the map…where did you get that, anyway?”
John shrugged. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but, you’re a smart guy, and I know you. If I had just said, let’s fuck, you would have ignored me and not thought about it again. You wouldn’t have taken me seriously.”
“So instead you have me playing The Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew and I’m supposed to take this seriously? And…let’s fuck? Is that what this is about?”
“No, Rodney. This about you and me.” John said, looking him in the eye. “And us…and how I’m in love with you. As for the mystery, I needed to get your attention, get you thinking… what better way than some Ancient puzzle? Which, by the way, I found in one of the unexplored rooms. Or I should say, it found me.”
“You’re in love with me?” Rodney asked, not quite able to believe that.
“Yes, you didn’t know?”
“Um, no, I didn’t.” Rodney admitted before taking another deep breath. “I, uh…I love you…too.”
John’s smile was bright and happy and Rodney felt a little short of breath at the realization that this smile was just for him. He leaned forward to initiate a kiss of his own. John responded by sucking Rodney’s tongue into his mouth. Wrapping his arms around Rodney’s body, he brought them closer together.
After a few minutes, Rodney pulled away slightly. “What do you mean, it found you?” He asked after a minute.
“What?” John looked a little dazed.
“You said the puzzle box found you.”
“Oh, yeah, I was walking around down here one day and I scanned the room with a flashlight and there wasn’t anything I could see. But when I stepped inside, I nearly tripped over the box. It wasn’t there, and then it was. Weird.”
“Yeah, weird.” Rodney agreed, looking around the room, a frown wrinkling his brow.
“Can we get back to kissing now? Save the Ancient mysteries for later.” John emphasized his point by thrusting up against Rodney.
“I’m not easy.” Rodney murmured, but John’s erection burned against his thigh, causing an equal reaction in his own body that made a lie of the words.
John chuckled as Rodney’s lips latched onto his throat. “Oh, you’re anything but easy.”
Anything else that either man was about to say was forgotten as hands and lips alike started to wander.
Several hours later found the two men in John’s quarters, lying sated on his rumpled bed.
“So…we’re an us now?” John asked quietly, a barely there hint of hesitation in his voice.
Rodney turned his head slightly, lifting one arm and intertwining his fingers with Johns. “Yes, we are definitely an us.”
“Cool.” John smiled.
“Yeah, cool.” Rodney echoed before closing his eyes and drifting off to sleep.
Down in Rodney’s office, amid charts and files and computer components, a box hummed quietly, as if in satisfaction of a job well done.