Title: Speed of Light
Series: Light the Way
Series Order: 2
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Relationship(s): Rodney McKay/John Sheppard
Content Rating: PG
Warnings: Season 1 SGA; Sentient Atlantis
Word Count: 1977
Summary: Rodney wants to know where the puzzle box came from.
Major John Sheppard looked up from the monotonous paperwork he’d promised Elizabeth he’d work on. Rodney was standing in the doorway of what Elizabeth called his office. Personally John thought it was more like a dull cage. The room had no balcony, only a window with a weird vertical tinting that looked kind of like bars, and a strange humming sound when you got too close. John hadn’t actually tested it out, but he though if he touched it, he might get the Ancient version of an electrical shock.
“It’s later,” Rodney repeated, drawing John’s attention back from the window. The scientist had that impatient look on his face.
“I heard you the first time,” John said stepping away from his desk.
“Well?” Rodney demanded.
John had no idea what his lover was talking about, and he knew he should avoid pissing Rodney off, and he really shouldn’t find that expression cute, but he did.
“Okay, I’ll bite. It’s later, so what?”
Rodney sighed in frustration and waved his hands around. For the first time John noticed Rodney was carrying something in his hand. It was the puzzle box. The one John had used to lure McKay to the lower levels. He’d needed something intriguing to catch Rodney’s attention and that box was perfect. They’d made love for the first time that night.
Sheppard really should have known better than to think he could distract McKay well enough that he’d forget about that little mystery. After all, if the distraction had worked, McKay wouldn’t be the man with whom he’d fallen in love.
“You promised to tell me how you found this.” Rodney waved the box around to illustrate his point.
“I told you, it found me.”
“Semantics,” Rodney snapped.
Sheppard closed his laptop and stood, acting like a man readying himself for death or at least something extremely unpleasant.
“Well?” McKay snapped again. “Let’s go.”
“Where exactly did you find it?” McKay asked again after they’d been walking down dark corridors for almost thirty minutes.
John was surprised Rodney had kept quiet for that long. “I told you before, it found me.”
“Yes, yes,” Rodney waved his hands around impatiently. “Skip to the part where you tell me how it found you.”
Sheppard shrugged. “I was looking around down here late one night.” He stopped in front of a closed door. “I heard a noise from inside here.”
Rodney looked around the corridor. “How far are we from actual civilization?”
Sheppard shrugged. “Far enough.”
“And why exactly were you down here…alone?” Rodney looked around again. “This section hasn’t been cleared yet. Has it?” He looked pointedly at the Major.
Sheppard smirked. “What can I say? The city loves me.”
McKay rolled his eyes. “Please, you talk as if she’s alive.”
“Maybe she is,” Sheppard whispered.
Rodney was staring at the familiar triangular niche next to the door when he heard Sheppard’s words. He arched an eyebrow at his friend. “You think Atlantis is alive?”
Sheppard shrugged. “Maybe not alive, like you or I, but sentient…” He trailed off, tilting his head slightly towards the still closed door. After a moment the door slid opened easily. “Yeah, I do.”
Rodney thought that over as he stepped into the room. It wasn’t completely impossible. It was even probable, given what he knew about the Ancients. Sheppard had seemed to connect with Atlantis almost from the beginning. Maybe there was more to it than just his super-expression of the ATA gene.
“When I came here last week, I needed a key to get inside,” Rodney commented as he looked around the room, only just recognizing it as the same room John had lead him to days before. The table was still in the center of the room. Only this time there was no romantic picnic, just a bare tabletop in a darkened part of the city.
Rodney narrowed his eyes at John, not missing the fact that John hadn’t needed to use a key. “So, how did you find the box, exactly?”
John sighed. “I told you. I came in here and nearly tripped over it.”
“It was just lying on the floor?”
John groaned. “I don’t know, Rodney, maybe. Or maybe…,” John trailed off, realizing how crazy what he was about to say would sound.
“Maybe…what?” Rodney prompted.
“Look, I walk around at night. Sometimes I talk to her…Atlantis. Maybe she…I don’t know, led me here.”
“And what, she just knew you had use for an Ancient puzzle box?” Rodney asked incredulously.
John sighed again. “I said sometimes I talk to her.”
Rodney looked around the room again, trying to decide if he could sense anything other than an empty room. He wasn’t sure if he was fascinated or wary by the prospect of Atlantis being sentient. Clearly, sentient or not, she wasn’t inclined to connect with anyone but John.
“Come on, let’s head back.” John placed a hand on Rodney’s shoulder. Rodney nodded once and followed John out of the room and back towards the populated sections, still thinking about the city.
The explosion in one of the labs was felt all the way up to the control room. John knew that his concern should be for every person in Atlantis. He knew that he should be worried about every single scientist that might have been injured, but he was only truly worried about one.
He tried to reach Rodney on the radio as he ran all the way down to the lower level. Either Rodney was too busy to answer, or he couldn’t.
That just made him run faster.
He arrived in the lab to find chaos. Beckett’s medical teams were swarming all over the lab tending to minor wounds, but the doctor was strangely absent. The air filtration system made an odd straining sound as it worked to clear out the smoke. It was hard to see what exactly had happened.
“Major?” Dr. Weir’s voice sounded through his earpiece. “There’s been an explosion in one of the lower labs.
“I’m already on it.” Sheppard disconnected his radio and made his way through the room. He found Radek Zelenka in one corner of the room, holding a large piece of gauze against a wound on his head.
“What happened here?” Sheppard asked.
Zelenka turned to look at the Major. “Kavanaugh made some adjustments to the saline filtration system down here.”
“A few small adjustments did all this?” Sheppard asked, looking around the room. The filtration equipment wasn’t blinking nor had any alarm sounded, but it also wasn’t running properly. It looked like the whole system had just shut down. “What does this mean for our water?”
Zelenka shrugged. “As soon as Carson is finished with Rodney and we can get started on repairs, it shouldn’t take too long.”
“Where is Rodney?”
“Carson took him back to the infirmary.” Radek answered. “He was in here when the explosion hit.”
“Is he hurt?” Sheppard asked, already moving towards the door.
Zelenka shrugged, taking another look at the damaged equipment. “He was unconscious when we arrived.”
Sheppard waited for the technicians to arrive and start working on fixing the malfunctions before he started moving back towards the lift that would take him to the main level. “Elizabeth, Rodney was injured in the explosion; I’m going to go check on him now.”
“Keep me informed.” Elizabeth answered sounding only slightly upset.
Once Carson had gotten Rodney hooked up to his monitors and scanned six ways from Sunday he was pleased to learn Rodney only sustained a mild concussion and a few bruised ribs.
Major Sheppard arrived in the infirmary as Carson finished checking Rodney over. “Hey.” He said standing a few feet away from Rodney’s bed.
“Hey.” Rodney tried to see around Carson as he checked over the monitors. “What are you doing here?”
John blinked at Rodney. Where else would he be? “You okay?”
“Peachy for someone who almost died an hour ago,” Rodney snorted.
“He’ll be fine,” Carson interrupted. “I’m going to keep him here for a couple of hours. Come back after dinner and he’s all yours.”
“What happened, Rodney? Dr. Zelenka said something about Kavanaugh.”
“That man is a nuisance. If he had more than one brain cell, he’d be dangerous,” Rodney snapped, looking around Carson again. “He went down to the Saline Filtration lab and changed some of the adjustments I had made this morning. After my meeting with the biologists this morning I went down to double check something. I noticed that the filtration system was overheating. I tried to correct the problem and got tossed around the room for my trouble!”
John grinned at his friend. He knew Rodney couldn’t be hurt too badly if he was bitching. “I’ll be back with dinner,” he said and left to tell Elizabeth what had happened.
“So…John?” Carson asked as he tapped information into a data pad.
McKay frowned. “What about him?”
Carson rolled his eyes. “Your secret admirer, you daft bugger.”
“Oh that.” Rodney shook his head. “I don’t know what he was thinking.”
Carson sighed. “Probably something about how you were completely oblivious and he was getting desperate.”
Rodney’s brow crinkled. “Huh? What?”
“Rodney, you’re brilliant…in science. People aren’t exactly your strong suit.”
Rodney rolled his eyes at his friend, not even bothering to comment on the vast understatement Carson had just made. “Yes, yes, I know, and why I would want to understand people is a complete mystery I’d rather not solve. No, what I meant was I was wondering why John felt it necessary to go gallivanting around unexplored sections of Atlantis looking for some sort of trinket to get my attention.”
“It worked, didn’t it?” Carson asked smiling back at his friend.
“Well, I,” Rodney looked slightly confounded for a second. “I guess it did.”
“All though even with the trinket you still needed a push in the right direction.” Carson smirked as Rodney grabbed his jacket. “Off you go. I have some real patients to see to.”
Rodney left the infirmary in a slight daze, remembering how Carson was the one who kept insisting that his gift had been from a secret admirer and trying to figure out when Carson had gotten out of his med lab long enough to play matchmaker.
“You got sprung,” Sheppard said when he met McKay midway between the infirmary and the mess. “You’re place or mine?”
“Could you be any more of a cliché?” McKay asked with a snort, continuing to walk towards his own quarters. “What difference does it make, they’re both in the same section.”
After dinner and a hot shower, Rodney lay on his stomach flat on his bed while John attempted to work out all of the kinks in his back. “Elizabeth wouldn’t let me throw Kavanaugh over the nearest balcony, but she did put a reprimand in his file, assuming we ever contact Earth again.”
“You mean another reprimand.” Rodney frowned. “If we ever make it back, he’ll be lucky if he’ll be allowed within five miles of a laboratory.”
John pressed his thumbs into a particularly hard knot. Rodney groaned as the tension left his body. “Enough of him, what do you say to you and I getting into some mischief of our own?
Rodney chuckled and turned around. “I’m sure I could be talked into it.”
John leaned down and kissed him, his tongue mapping Rodney’s mouth from the inside. “Hmm,” he hummed.
Rodney broke away for a second. “You know we’re not done talking about this thing between you and Atlantis, you know?”
“I know,” John whispered before claiming Rodney’s lips again.
The lights dimmed slowly without a conscience decision on the part of either man, as the city continued to watch over all her charges, keeping a special eye on her favorites, as always.