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Cold – Part One

August 1, 2013

Part One

Rodney huddled on the floor just inside the door to his quarters. He had no idea how long he had been there and at the moment he didn’t feel like moving anywhere. Every part of him was cold, frozen in a way he suspected he would never warm up from.

It had been a week since Doranda, a week in which John had ignored him in every meeting, avoided or flat out walked away from him in the mess and had refused to come down to his lab once, regardless of who the request had come from, himself or even Zelenka.

Rodney wondered vaguely if he would ever feel warm again. It seemed as though ice water was flowing through his veins instead of blood these days and he shivered where he lay. He tried pulling his jacket closer around his chest but he felt frozen through. The tightening in his belly was the only warning he got before it lurched and he turned over to vomit only nothing happened. Of course he hadn’t eaten for a while, Rodney tried to think back to when but his mind came up blank. His stomach heaved a few more times before he just lay back to rest his head against the cool floor and curled his aching body around itself. Rodney clenched his hand near his face and felt sweat bead all over his face and neck.

Rodney had no idea how long he had lain there just inside his room but eventually he rolled up onto all fours and crawled slowly towards the bathroom.

Dragging himself to his feet he stared into the mirror and at his reflection staring blankly. Pale face, red eyes and something that looked wrong with him but he couldn’t work it out. Then it came to him, light was missing in his eyes.
Light and life and in his stomach he knew, John was missing.
Rodney recognised he could not go on like this, feeling as though a part of his soul had been ripped from of his body. His best friend had stopped being his friend.

Zelenka was at least talking to him. Hell, after what he had done, that was kind of surprising, and even though Rodney could feel an icy blast hit him every time Zelenka turned angry eyes in his direction at least Radek was still looking at him.

Unbidden, John’s voice again filled his head, “if you really really try” and in an instant of clarity he knew he would never get it back, the trust that John had once held in him and the belief that Rodney could do anything he asked. For a second Rodney could barely breathe.

Looking deeply into his own eyes he knew that it was time to stop. This crush on John, on Sheppard, had to stop or it was going to tear him apart. Straightening his back, he breathed in sharply and nodded at his reflection. “Time to move on,” he spoke to himself. Rodney knew he was who he was, he couldn’t change his personality anymore than he could change the colour of his eyes and if Sheppard couldn’t accept that then he wasn’t the friend, the man, Rodney had thought he was.

Sheppard was just like the rest of them, he saw a version of Rodney he could be happy with and when Rodney shattered that illusion, as he always did, he was hated for it, for not being this imaginary person they all believed in. Sheppard and Elizabeth, no Weir he reminded himself, had known the risks. Of course they had, because regardless of Rodney’s enthusiasm, professionally the Chief Scientist was always sure to put every negative and every possible outcome into his report, he might occasionally highlight the positives to encourage their favourable response but really, since when was he known as being the “glass half full” kind of man.
Both Weir and Sheppard had given their okay, pushed by Caldwell; he knew they wanted that weapon every bit as much as Rodney. Even Zelenka had wanted Rodney to succeed, okay, so Rodney should never have told him he was acting from “professional jealousy”, he had apologised for that since, and he knew Zelenka would get over. That was the kind of scientist, kind of man he was. And anyway Weir and Sheppard could have stopped him. Sure, Rodney would not have been happy, but if they had even once said, ‘Stop,’ he would have, in an instant.

Perhaps he could have shut it down after Sheppard had ordered it, but in the time he’d had left, in his head, he had known they were choiceless, that they couldn’t outrun the blast radius. But in the end he had acquiesced to Sheppard’s plea to leave, knowing they were dead either way, simply because Sheppard had asked and he hadn’t wanted to die without him. He had left for John and it was only pure luck they had survived at all.

John, no, Sheppard damnit, he had to keep that distinction clear in his head now that there was a difference between John, his friend and Sheppard, the man that barely spoke to him.

Well if his friendship was to be cut off, Rodney decided he would take control and do it properly. First, shower, then food and then back to the lab. At least Rodney could try to salvage his working relationship with Zelenka and with his department and maybe with Weir.

Rodney allowed the cold that filled his body to harden his heart and bring strength to his resolve. He would concentrate on getting back to work repairing this city that was their home. The wraith would be back, and he had to be ready for them, personal relationships be damned.


Rodney’s door swooshed open half an hour later and he stepped out intending to go straight to the Mess, grab a tray of whatever was on offer at this time of the morning and then head to the Lab when he stopped cold, surprised by the person standing right outside his door.

“Colonel,” he acknowledged.

Sheppard looked pained and Rodney wondered, if just being in Rodney’s presence made him so sick, why he had even bothered to come and knock on his door.

“You headed to the Mess or the Lab?”

Rodney was confused. What answer was Sheppard hoping for? The question gave no indication as to what the Colonel really wanted but it couldn’t be a simple question to get the excuse for company that went with it. Rodney knew Sheppard would not have come here for that. Not anymore.

“Why?” he snapped deciding to make it easier for the man.

“Christ McKay, it’s just a damn question,” Sheppard snapped back, looking almost relieved to reignite his anger. “Look, you haven’t been seen in the Mess for a few days and Teyla…” he cut himself off.

Of course, Teyla. Rodney snorted to himself, for a moment he had thought, but no matter, he would not allow the Colonel’s false concern to bother him.

“Tell Teyla not to worry, I’ve been eating. In fact, I’m going for a tray right now to take to the Lab and since I have answered your question you can happily go away now.”

“McKay” Sheppard sighed loudly and stepped back to allow McKay to step out of his quarters.

McKay brushed past him and was surprised when Sheppard fell in step beside him.

“What are you doing?” he snapped. “I don’t need an escort.”

“Don’t you?”

Sheppard had muttered softly but McKay exploded anyway, “Fine, I get it, I am not an idiot. You’re still pissed with me, well swan off in your righteous anger and leave me alone. You clearly do not want me anywhere around you and yet here you are standing at my door. Well, I absolve you of all your team leader responsibilities and you can go away and tell Teyla you did your duty to the best of your ability.”

The Colonel was silent for so long that Rodney finally turned in a huff and stomped down the corridor away from his once friend. And as he suspected, Sheppard let him go.


Zelenka stopped just inside the Lab, surprised to see Rodney already buried in two laptops and writing notes furiously with his free hand, a half empty mug in the other. Next to McKay, on the desk, was an empty breakfast tray.

McKay glanced at him briefly and waved the mug around, as if to say, “yes, yes, what are your looking at, get back to work,” and dropped his eyes back to the laptops in front of him.

To Radek, Rodney looked better than he had all week. He had on fresh clothes and clearly he had showered, as the hair at the back of his neck appeared slightly damp. The red in Rodney’s eyes did not look nearly as bad as yesterday, though; it was still there, he clearly needed more sleep. The empty tray, however, was a good sign. As were the crumbs and stained plates indicating that he had eaten substantially. Perhaps, Radek thought to himself, Rodney had finally repaired his friendship with Colonel Sheppard. Radek himself was still angry at the head scientist but he also recognised the immense pressure the man had been under to perform his sometimes daily miracles and Rodney had at least apologised to him for his hubris during the disaster that was the Acturus experiment. Radek held no belief that the man had been truly humbled by the experience but he did believe the chief scientist had learned something from the disaster. And for a man like McKay that was important.

But there was something different about McKay now. Radek couldn’t quiet put his finger on it but he felt he knew the man well enough to recognise a new resolve had settled into him. He seemed colder, almost calm. He wasn’t rocking back and forth or fidgeting and moving in his usual, hard to contain, manner as he worked, in fact, the scientist’s body seemed unnaturally still. Clearly he had come to some sort of a decision and was at peace with it. Zelenka was happy to move on as well if that was Rodney’s choice. This last week had been full of misery, watching his friend shrink and fade away before his very eyes, hesitant to make a call or to continue any of his projects and Rodney had even refused to order his “minions” around. Something Radek knew had disturbed them all. Radek had witnessed Rodney second guess every decision and he had known, that if it Rodney’s behaviour continued beyond this week it could lead to someone getting killed. It was good to see Rodney had managed to shake off the numbing fear that had surrounded him. Radek had determined that if it had lasted one more day he was going to confront Weir about it. As much of a pain in the ass McKay was, it was dangerous work the expedition was doing here on Atlantis and the scientific teams had to be kept in line in regard to their experiments. Radek knew Rodney was the only one who could command enough fear to ensure that.

As fellow scientists trickled into the Lab around him to start their own day’s work he could see them start, to see McKay sitting there, and then settle into their work as they realised their “Boss” was back. And later, as McKay bellowed and berated each and every one of them, Radek too began to feel as though McKay was back. As the day went on, however, and the insults grew more pointed and cutting Radek began to realise that what McKay had learned from his experience at Doranda may not have been what they had all wanted. The experience seemed to have bought the old Rodney McKay, the one that Radek had first met down in Antarctica, back and Radek realised they had all lost at lot more than Rodney McKay learning a well deserved lesson.

Radek sighed quietly to himself and returned to his own calculations, rechecking the numbers carefully in the hope that he could avoid the same fate as many of his colleagues that day when he finally handed them over for Rodney McKay’s review.


Rodney watched Zelenka out of the corner of his eye through most of the day but apart from those initial grunts of surprise when he had first walked in and seen him, and then later, the occasional deliberate interruptions to query an interesting result, Zelenka had not said a word to Rodney that was not encased in a work context and he was glad of it. Zelenka’s lack of including Rodney into any personal discussions had helped him maintain his resolve to keep his distance and to keep all interactions with his staff on a strictly professional level. Therefore, Rodney felt that this first day of his new life felt right.

He now questioned his own behaviour over the past year and was astounded by how much he had changed, by how soft he had become. Rodney shook his head and pushed the distracting thoughts from his mind. Focus, he reminded himself, focus on his work is what would keep them all alive. It would be by completely focusing on his work that he would catch any mistakes that crept into his and his team’s work when he was distracted.

Rodney’s had also added a new layer of review to the pre-sign off and first round signoff procedures for all changes to new and current projects in order to also catch the mistakes that he might possibly miss. Zelenka had agreed to the protocol changes without comment so he had no fear that the protocol would be blocked by Weir before he rolled it out to the rest of his team. It was his concession to the events of the last week and even Rodney could admit that it was actually a good idea. Afterall, how often had he and Zelenka been forced to work with only a few hours of sleep or rushed to complete a weapon with only an hour’s notice. Adding an extra layer of review made sense in the long run and he couldn’t understand why he hadn’t thought to add it previously.

Rodney’s communicator buzzed softly in his ear. “McKay” he acknowledged.

“Hello Rodney, I was wondering if you would be joining the team for movie night tonight?” Teyla’s gentle voice did not disguise the fact that her question was more of a strongly worded request and one that booked no argument.

But Rodney had been having such a good day that her request could be easily denied. “No Teyla. Not tonight.” He signed off abruptly before she could reply. Rodney had decided that he could not waste his precious time the ways he had before, by stopping work at the beep of a communicator for breaks and movie nights and John. Rodney intended to enjoy his uninterrupted time and since Weir had also cancelled all off world exploration for the two weeks after Doranda and since he had one week of that two week time left to enjoy the peace and quiet he intended to do just that.

Rodney had also decided to petition Weir to be removed from the first contact team. Clearly today had shown his time was better off spent staying in the Labs. He would use this coming week of enforced Lab time to demonstrate exactly that. Already today, he had greatly furthered three crucial experiments without the delay caused by the usual distractions from Sheppard, Teyla and Ronan with their intermittent interruptions to eat or train or talk. And Dr Kusanagi had collected lunch and dinner for the Lab today so Rodney McKay had had one of the most productive days he had ever had.

Really, he hadn’t missed his team once, really, he repeated to himself.

End of part one

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From → Fan Fiction

  1. Hey I really like your writing 🙂 How do you come up with this? I write just things like daily life or my opinion but mine is more of a in the shadow Ideas page. None of my friends or family know that I write this but they read my posts. If you have any free time I would appreciate it if you read some of my stuff. In one of my articles I put my email address so if you ever need anything or want to tell me anything you can tell me 🙂 Thanks and again really love your writing 🙂

    • HI there, thank you so much, such lovely comments. Yes I would be happy to read some of your stuff, let me know when you would like to send something through. As to how I come up with what I write, well I really have no idea! 😛 sometimes stuff just comes to me, I read heaps and heaps so sometimes I like to re-write the way something ends and it just comes out from there, sometimes in dreams. I just like to write, So if you like to write, I think you should just go and do it! 🙂

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