Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
Disclaimer: Stargate: Atlantis and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story was created for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s), not me. Thank you to the amazing writers, producers, actors, crew and directors who bring these shows to life.
Characters: Carter, McKay, sides of Radek, Miko and Chuck, and a dash of Sheppard
Rating: Gen/T – character story, action/adventure, AU
A/N – Carter worries me. She worries all of us SGA folks, I think, because we don't know what to expect of her. So it was interesting to read Amanda Tapping's interview a couple weeks ago when she said that, apparently, Carter isn't sure what to expect of herself, either. In Amanda's words: "[Carter] is aware that she is replacing a much-loved leader when she comes onto the show—or into the galaxy. And so she's very aware of treading lightly. In a lot of ways for me, as the actor, it feels like playing a much different character. She's almost not as confident, because she is out of her comfort zone." And, she said, "I'm painfully aware that I have a lot to prove." Her words swirled around in my brain, and this came out. This is not SG-1's Carter. This is Carter standing on the shoulders of the giants of Atlantis, to paraphrase the Newton quote, and trying not to fall off.
A/N 2: I just wanted to say that I wrote this before I
saw Adrift, and my beta will attest to that (plus, you must all know by
now that I definitely don't write quickly). It's sort of
strange, because, I think one of the reasons the ep
resonated so deeply with me is that it had very, very similar themes to
this fic. So, I am a little worried
about that. But, well, can't do anything about it now. There
are no spoilers at all for that episode, obviously, but, like I said, similar
themes. Right. Okay. Enough of that.
This fic is an imagining of, potentially, Carter's first crisis on Atlantis, so it's AU. Note: I have read *no* spoilers for season four. This is just wishful thinking.
I hope you like it.
Description: City in peril, check. Sheppard and team on a suicidal mission, check. McKay acting like an ass and doing his own thing, check. We've seen it all before—but Col. Sam Carter hasn't.
Only one man in a thousand is a leader. The other 999 follow women. – Groucho Marx
PART ONE: ALONE IN A SEA OF TROUBLES
She had been here before. Standing on the ground floor of Stargate Control, staring up at the monitors, trying to find a way to stop a massive asteroid from impacting the planet.
Except, she hadn't been here before.
This wasn't Earth she stood on, and that asteroid wasn't an asteroid. It was the remnants of three melded together Ancient warships aimed at Atlantis, sent on a collision course by the Asurans. In 35 minutes, they would hit the City dead on.
And this time, she was in charge.
There was no Hammond to call, no Jack to bounce ideas off of, no President to get the okay from, no SG-1 ready to back her up. It was just her. She was the top of the pyramid, and she had never felt so on the edge in her life.
The situation was extreme. The City's shield wouldn't stop the ships—Ancient warships were programmed to fly right through the dome, to be welcomed while all else was kept out. Drones sent on intercept hadn't done any damage—just bounced off the warships' own combined shield.
There was no way to stop them.
The City's control room was abuzz in activity, and her mind raced to stay on top of everything that was happening. Rodney, standing five feet away from her, was yelling over the radio at Colonel Sheppard, who was currently trapped on said plummeting warships with Teyla and Ronon. The three members of Sheppard's Team had attached a Jumper to the largest of the three congealed Ancient warships in a now failed attempt to take control of the ships from the inside or, if that failed, to use the Jumper like a tugboat and push the warships away from the City. Unfortunately, the Jumper had just become part of the whole—the same Asuran nanites tying the three warships together had just sucked up the Jumper like a long lost son.
Carter had already evacuated the bulk of the personnel through the Gate—leaving only those necessary to deal with this particular crisis—about twenty people who could easily escape via Jumpers should worse come to worse.
Which looked like it might happen.
She looked over Radek's shoulder, checking his work as the Czech scientist sought to find a way to bolster the City's shield, to block out the warships. But, so far, every change to the City's shield's frequency had resulted in the warships immediately adjusting their own shield frequencies to match. They were just too closely linked. A glance at Chuck's station showed he was monitoring time and distance and trajectories, feeding whatever he could glean to Rodney and Radek. Behind her, she could hear Miko Kusanagi's fingers flying over a keyboard, the woman searching the database for flaws in warship design that they could exploit.
Carter's head lifted to look over at Rodney, who was gesturing wildly as he rattled off orders to his team on the ship. He was trying to give Sheppard, Teyla and Ronon a means to override the controls on the warship, but Carter already knew it was futile. The three congealed warships were all capable of working separately—even if Sheppard managed to get one of them to respond, the other two would just compensate and wrench control away again. McKay was wasting precious time trying.
And they needed to start facing facts.
"Rodney," she called when he seemed to have stopped yelling, walking across to his side. He was typing furiously into the laptop in front of him, bent over because he was standing before the station, not sitting.
"What?" he snapped, not looking at her.
"I need you to think of a way to detonate those ships from the inside."
"No," he said, turning away and moving to another laptop. He clicked his radio as he reached it, "Sheppard, you copy?"
"McKay," Sheppard's voice answered over the com, and Carter glanced towards the screen showing the still plummeting ships, "the navigation is locked. I tried all the tricks you just gave me, and it's still locked. What else you got?"
"I'm working on it. I think I can find a back way into the warships' engines. Maybe get them to fire in the wrong direction."
"Right," Sheppard said. "We'll be waiting, and trying to break into the systems from up here."
McKay nodded, "Right." He was attacking keys, and schematics of Ancient warship engines flashed onto the screen before him.
Carter's jaw set. "Rodney."
For a moment he ignored her, still typing madly, then he abruptly turned to glare at her. "What?"
"Don't look at me like that," she snapped. "You know we need to find a way to bring those ships down before they hit this city."
He just stared at her a second longer, then turned away again. "So," he muttered, "put someone on it."
"I'm putting you on it."
He closed his eyes briefly, then shook his head, his jaw rock-hard. "I can't. I'm busy. Radek!" He turned and pointed to the Czech.
"Yeah?" the other man perked up.
"Put Miko on the shield. Carter needs a way to blow up those warships before they hit."
"But, Colonel Sheppard and the others could still be—"
"I know. I'm working on that. You work on finding a way to cause the warships to self-destruct." And with that, he turned and went back to work on the warship engines.
Carter closed her eyes, then opened them again. Damn, he was infuriating. "Radek!" she shouted, turning around to face the Czech, and saw him jump in his seat. "Get back to working on bolstering the City's shield. We'll need that, even if the ships break up before they get here. Miko," she turned to the woman, who looked like a deer caught in headlights, "work on the warships' engines. Rodney," she turned back to the chief scientist, ostensibly, her chief scientist now, "I need you to find me a way to detonate those warships. You have the most experience working on them."
Rodney stared at her for a moment, then shook his head. "Yes, yes, I do. I do have the most experience working on Ancient ships, which is why I need to be the one working on finding a way—"
"The City comes first, Rodney."
His eyes just narrowed, and she could see him fighting to hold back his words. Finally, he turned and growled something under his breath. She watched to make sure the schematics of the warship on his screen moved to focus on its self-destructive capabilities, then nodded.
"Thank you," she said.
He didn't answer her, his fingers flying once more over the keys, eyes watching the screen without blinking.
She drew in a slow breath, then walked over to where Miko was now pulling up information about the warship engines. Carter studied the information a moment, wishing she had had more time to memorize the technology of Ancient warships before she'd come to this post, but she had to rely on Rodney and the others right now to do what was right.
"How's it going, Rodney?" Sheppard called over the radio. Carter glanced at Rodney, then clicked her radio.
"He's working on it, Colonel," she said. "How are you doing?"
"Getting a little nervous, Colonel," Sheppard replied with a chuckle, though it was obviously forced. He was going for light-hearted, but she could tell he wasn't comfortable with her yet. Fact was, no one was comfortable with her yet. It was strange—she hadn't expected open arms, but she hadn't expected it to be this hard either. The looks she'd gotten when she'd been promoted to this position from the Atlantis team had been a mixture of fear, distrust, dislike—from those who felt she was standing in someone else's place—and, to a degree, cautious optimism. They just didn't know what to expect from her.
Worse, once she'd sat in Elizabeth Weir's chair for the first time, she wasn't sure what to expect from herself. All she knew was, she had been asked to come here and protect Atlantis, and the IOA had not been subtle about the idea that her job was not only to protect the City from outside, but from the inside as well. She was supposed to protect the people of Atlantis from themselves—particularly from the ego, recalcitrance and nonconformity of its chief military officer and its chief scientist. It was an ugly burden, and one she had not gotten a grasp on yet—after all, she had spent the best years of her life following a man who hadn't played by the rules, and had learned to both idolize and emulate that behavior—but Jack had never been here, in charge in a place where people didn't know him and didn't trust him. He had never been so alone. She may have ten years under her belt at the SGC, but, right now, that could have been ten minutes for all the good it did her in these people's eyes.
The City came first. She just had to keep telling herself that. The City comes first. You have to be the leader, have to think of the collective good, have to...to...
"What is our status, Colonel?" Sheppard asked then, and she heard the tone in his voice—the one that said, he was willing to die for them, if need be. He must have guessed by now that they would be looking for a way to trigger some sort of self-destruct.
Suck it up, Carter. You know what you have to do. And he knows it, too.
"Radek is still trying to modify the City shield's, Colonel," she replied, lifting her chin and shutting down the emotions under the surface. "And Doctor Kusangi is working on finding a way to affect the warships' engines."
"Kusanagi is doing that?" Sheppard asked, and there was a clear question in his voice.
Carter nodded, though she knew he couldn’t see her. "I've asked Rodney to seek out ways to destroy the warships from within."
Sheppard was silent for a moment, then, "Understood."
Carter sighed softly, grateful. "Thank you, Colonel."
"Just..." Sheppard paused, then, "Rodney, I had a thought."
Carter gritted her teeth at Sheppard skipping over her again, but didn't say anything as Rodney looked up from his station.
"What?" the scientist asked, sounding hopeful.
"We tried to use the Jumper as a tugboat, and it went and got itself integrated by the damn nanites. But, here's a question, can Atlantis' Chair still remote control the Jumpers? Sort of like an override?"
Rodney seemed to pause, then his eyes lit up, and he looked over at Radek.
"Program's still in the system from the Siege," the Czech confirmed, his own eyes bright.
"What?" Carter asked, looking at the two of them. "What program?"
"No time to explain," Rodney said, jumping of the dais he was standing on and running out of the room. "I'll be in the Chair Room!"
"Rodney!" she shouted, trying to stop him, but he was already gone. "Damn it!" she swore, her hands gripping themselves into fists. Her gaze turned to Radek, but the Czech had his head down, obviously trying to hide from her. She then looked to Miko, but the Japanese scientist seemed to have nearly disappeared behind her desk. "Fine," she said, lifting her chin. Turning, she walked over to Rodney's station, quickly absorbed what he had been working on...and started typing.
"Twenty minutes to impact," Chuck intoned from his station by the DHD. Next to him, Radek swore under his breath in Czech. He was still working on the shield, but, clearly, without much success. Miko, also, seemed very quiet—as if she couldn't spare a thought from what she was working on.
Carter, meanwhile, had found a way to convince the warships' power cores to overload without letting the warships know they were doing it. A series of unconnected commands, delivered on the bridges of all three ships at the same time, would create a chain reaction that, eventually, would create a terminal overload.
She stared at the information, rereading it a second time before looking up. Her gaze lifted to the monitor showing the incoming ships.
"Sergeant," she said, leaving her station to walk to his, "how far away would the ships need to be such that an explosion wouldn't damage Atlantis?"
Chuck frowned briefly, but he answered. "Ten minutes."
She pursed her lips. "Does Doctor McKay know
Chuck nodded, "Yes."
Carter grimaced, but gave a nod in return. "Okay." Turning away, she clicked her radio. "Colonel Sheppard."
"Hey," he responded instantly. "What's the news?"
"I found a way to overload the warships' power cores."
He took that in. Carter imagined he was looking at Teyla and Ronon at his side, checking their reactions. God, how could she do this to them?
"I see," Sheppard said, no hint of anything but strength in his voice. "Okay. Tell us what we need to—"
"Wait!" Rodney's strident tone burst over both the radio and through the Control Room. Carter swung around in time to see the scientist running up the stairs from the Gate Room below, his data tablet on his arm. "I have something!"
Carter lifted her eyebrows, and actually smiled. "What?"
"I've rewritten a remote program we created during the Wraith siege to override the Nanites control of the Jumper." Rodney handed the tablet to Carter, who took it and quickly started reviewing the work he'd done. "It'll take a little time to get it integrated into Atlantis' systems, but I should be able to use the Chair to control the Jumper's engines and separate it from the warship."
"Well, that's great," Carter said, looking down at the tablet. "How long?"
Carter looked up at McKay, her eyes soft. Fifteen minutes. There wasn't enough time. "Rodney, those ships are practically right on top of us, with three warship engines driving them at full speed. If we wait fifteen minutes for your plan to work, then input the self-destruct and give Sheppard's team enough time to—"
"Then we've missed Chuck's ten minute barrier, I know that. Chunks of the exploded ships could be large enough to breach the shield, and there could be damage to the City. But," he gave a shrug, "we can rebuild."
"With what?" Carter asked. "And how do you know that the damage wouldn’t be too severe to fix? And, tell me, if the pieces of the warships that fall to the city still have working nanites on them, what do we do when they infect the City?"
Rodney paled briefly even as he frowned. "Then we'll shut the nanites down. We've done it before. And we can rebuild—given enough time."
Carter grimaced, looking again at the pad, then back up at Rodney. "I'll give you ten minutes. If you can't do it by then—"
"You know I can't. I can't make the computers work faster than they work."
Carter pursed her lips together, and she looked down. "Then I'm sorry, Rodney."
He stared at her, then let out a slow exhale. "You're kidding."
She looked up, frowning slightly. "No," she said quietly, "I'm not."
He just continued to stare at her, then, oddly, he smiled, snorting a disbelieving laugh. "Well then," he said, taking back his tablet and walking to the empty station next to Miko, "I guess we know where we stand." He looked at Miko's station, eyes narrowed. Leaning over her shoulder, he hit a few keys, and Miko shook her head. "Try that," he said to her, and the Japanese scientist sighed and started to type. Carter frowned at the interaction.
"What are you—"
"Does it matter?" Rodney asked, looking at her. "Thing is, Colonel, you haven't really left me much choice, have you?" Never taking his eyes from her, he hit a couple of keys on his tablet, then touched his hand to the Ancient console, his gene causing the console to flash.
Immediately, the room powered down, screens locking up, and a plain white box appeared, a cursor flashing on one side. Miko gave a little squeal of surprise.
Carter whirled around, her eyes wide with shock. "What the hell have you done?"
"Locked you out," he said, his chin lifted. "Agree to let me run my program to save my team, and I'll let you back in."
Oh God, Carter thought, her heart hammering in her chest as she met Rodney's unflinching gaze, I've become the bad guy.
"Eighteen minutes to impact," Chuck said worriedly, looking up from his watch.
PART TWO: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY
Carter's jaw was set firmly as she strode towards the brig. Her eyes, though, were a million miles away. Or, to be more precise, three hundred million miles away.
What the hell was she doing here?
The click of two sets of boot heels drew her attention back to the present, and she did her best not to frown at the overly formal stance of the two guards standing at the door to the brig. Neither marine met her gaze as she reached the door, which was as frustrating as it was telling.
"The door," she said to the marine on the right, "if you please."
"Yes, Colonel," he replied, shifting and swiping his hand over the control. The door to the Atlantis brig slid open softly, bathing her in the blue light of the force field around Rodney's cell. She gave the marine a nod in thanks. He didn't acknowledge it. Had she really expected he would?
These were not her people, yet.
She stepped across the threshold into the small room, and peered through the deceptively wide bars. Rodney was pacing, wringing his hands as he did so, a furious scowl on his face. As she walked into his line of sight, he stopped pacing, his eyes finding hers.
"Less than five minutes," he said, a hint of smugness in his still angry voice. "Giving up so soon?"
Carter steeled herself—this was a McKay she recognized. Icy blue eyes met icy blue eyes.
"You know we can't crack your code in time," she said calmly. "You need to tell me your password."
"Nope," Rodney crossed his arms. "Not until you agree to go with my plan."
Carter shook her head. "Rodney, at this point, we have thirteen minutes left until those ships hit. I need access to the computer so I can tell Colonel Sheppard how to blow up them up before they breach the ten minute barrier. Give me your password. Now."
His chin lifted. "No. My program still needs six or seven more minutes to run. I'm not giving you my password until you let me use it to save them."
Carter's right eye twitched briefly. Finally, she drew in a heavy breath and lowered her gaze.
"Rodney," she said, trying to sound reasonable, "I can't do that. You know I can't. Your plan risks the City, could even destroy it." Her eyes lifted to his again. "That is unacceptable."
"The window will be tight, but Chuck hasn't taken into account just how good this City's shield is—especially once Radek boosts it, which I know he can do." He stepped forward, "Give my plan a chance, Sam."
Her eyes narrowed, 'What if your plan doesn't work?"
"It'll work," he stated firmly.
"You've said that before."
Rodney actually growled, knowing she was talking about what had happened between them five years ago. "I'm not that man, anymore, Sam. This isn't about glory. It's not about beating you. It's about saving my team."
"Yes," she nodded, "I know that, and if I thought we could save them, I—"
"But we can save them!" Rodney shouted, stepping close enough to the force field to actually get shocked. Hissing and stepping back, shaking his hands, he shook his head at her. "Sam, listen to me. My plan will work. Just let me try—"
"I can't, Rodney! Can't you see that?" Sam screwed her eyes closed, then opened them again. "If I let you try, and you fail, everyone here could die!"
"But if I don't try, sure, you would save the City, but Sheppard, Teyla and Ronon would all be dead!"
"The window's too tight, Rodney! The risk is too high!"
"You know what?" Rodney shouted. "You go out there," he pointed towards the doors, "and you ask those two marines what they're willing to risk for Colonel Sheppard. I think you'll find that they, and everyone else in this City, is more than willing to reduce Atlantis to ashes if it means they get him, Teyla and Ronon back alive. You just ask!"
"That's not the point, Rodney!"
"Then what is?" he demanded. "Because if you're not willing to let me do everything I can to save them and this City, then you're not fit to step into her shoes!"
Carter hissed in a breath. That was harsh. It took everything Carter had not to take a step back as if she'd been slapped. Instead, she let out a short breath and stepped forward.
"Rodney, don't make this about me versus Doctor Weir. This is about you and me."
Rodney just stared at her, then, strangely, gave a tiny smile. "You're wrong."
"Am I?" Carter asked. "We've been adversaries from the very moment we met. Are you trying to tell me that my coming here isn't a threat?"
"No!" Rodney grimaced. "Yes. Maybe. But not right now. Not about this."
Carter snorted, "Well, you could have fooled me after this stunt you pulled." She crossed her arms, "Rodney, your plan isn't just bad, it's reckless and it's dangerous. Even if it could work, we have no idea what delaying that long could do to the City, no idea what the extent of the damage could be."
"But we know what the damage will be if we don't try!" Rodney nearly hit the shield again, only arresting his hands at the last second. "Damn it, Sam! It's worth it, can't you see that?" His hands curled into fists, and, for a moment, the terrified, hopeful, desperate and vulnerable Rodney shone through the angry and arrogant façade. "Sam, please," he said, his voice impossibly soft all of a sudden. "It is worth it. Atlantis needs those three people. Please."
It was strange, she thought, staring into his pleading eyes, how much louder his words were when he said them quietly. Where she hadn't stepped back from him before, she did so now. Then she stepped even closer, close enough to touch the bars, her brow furrowed in amazement.
He was right. This was not the same man she used to know.
"What has happened to you, Rodney?" she whispered.
He frowned, and his eyes narrowed slightly. "What has happened to you, Sam?"
If it had felt like he had struck her before, those words slammed her like a hammer blow.
For a moment, neither moved, and then Carter screwed her face up in frustration. She glanced at her watch—it was counting down the time, and now read 11 minutes. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, then looked up. Rodney hadn't moved.
"Okay," she said, flexing the muscles in her jaw as she spoke, "we'll do it your way, but you need to let me help."
The shock on his face was almost worth it—as if he hadn't expected her to actually give in. Then he smiled, all sneering smugness, and her anger came back ten-fold.
"But as soon as this is over," she warned, "you're going back in there. Ten days locked up in the brig should show you I don't mess around, Doctor McKay."
His smirk vanished, but, instead of arguing, he just nodded. "Fine, fine," he agreed, rolling a hand at her impatiently. "But right now, we've got a City and a jumper with three idiots on it to save. So, how about letting me out?"
Carter snorted, but she hit the release on the cell. As McKay stormed out, not even waiting for her to catch up as he darted out the door, she had a feeling that she had missed something.
She also ignored the smiles on the two marines faces as she ran after her chief scientist. Her watch was beeping. Ten minutes mark. Damn it.
McKay blew into the Control Room with all the grace of a bull in a china shop. "Radek!" he shouted. Carter came in just as the password locked screens disappeared—because Radek had typed in McKay's code. For a second, she just stared at the Czech, but he was too busy, back to working on the shield.
"Miko," Rodney called, moving to stand up next to her in the back row, "Any luck?"
"I can slow them down, but not by much," she said.
Carter bounced up behind Miko, looking over her shoulder. She said nothing as she recognized instantly that Miko had found a way to slow the engines down on the three warships. Carter's jaw tensed, and she looked at Rodney.
"You knew she could do that, and you didn't tell me?"
"I didn't know," he said, hitting buttons on his tablet. "I hoped. I knew she needed more time to implement it, though, and I didn't think you'd give her the time."
Carter looked down at Miko, and saw that the woman was still working away. Had she been working this entire time? That meant, like Radek, she knew McKay's codes. Oh for the love of Pete. She was going to kill him.
But she couldn't deny that McKay was probably right. From the looks of it, Miko was only just finishing her work—and it hadn't been by the ten minute barrier. Carter wouldn't have allowed it.
Speaking of...She glanced at her watch. Eight minutes.
The Japanese scientist tapped her radio, "Colonel Sheppard, I'm sending you commands to input into the controls of your ship."
"We're ready," he said, sounding too calm. And too martyrish.
Rodney snorted. "Oh, please. They're for the engines, Colonel. It'll slow you down. Stop being so melodramatic."
"Oh." Sheppard tried to hide the hope from his voice. "Okay. By the way, nice to hear your voice again, McKay. You were worrying me there with the quiet. Thought maybe you'd decided to go work on something more important."
"Yes, well, I got a bit tied up, what with the City about to be destroyed thing," Rodney answered, not looking up from his tablet. "I'm back on the case now, though, looking to save your sorry ass, as usual."
There was a snort of laughter over the radio. "I was beginning to think you didn't care anymore, Rodney," Sheppard joked. Rodney's fingers stilled briefly, then continued.
"Not at all, Colonel. You'll be happy to know that we've decided the three of you are worth a little wire walking."
"Well, thanks so much," Sheppard called.
Carter watched McKay, amazed that he hadn't said anything about her tossing him in the brig. She hadn't told Colonel Sheppard about it either—he'd find out soon enough.
As Carter watched, a new velocity and trajectory appeared on the screen showing the warships, and it was sent straight to Chuck's computer. The sergeant hit several keys, then nodded.
"We have more time. Impact is now in 14 minutes."
She nodded, then turned to Rodney. He looked up at her. "I need to go to the Chair room now," he said. She inclined her head.
"Miko," Carter turned to look again at the Japanese scientist, "the commands for overloading the ship's engines are at that station." She pointed to where she had been before, "When I tell you, send them to Colonel Sheppard." Miko nodded, getting out of her seat and heading over to the other station.
"Where are you going?" Rodney asked, his eyebrows lifted. She looked back at him, then smiled.
"To help you."
Carter knew she should be upstairs, standing in command, watching with the rest of her staff as the three warships hit the last-chance point.
But she was down in the chair room, standing next to Rodney, watching the screen from across the room while he sat rigid in the chair. He wasn’t talking to her, his eyes weren’t even open. He probably didn’t even sense her there anymore. But this is where she stood.
The large screen across the room showed everything that was happening above, and she watched as a small part of the image depicting the three warships split away. It picked up speed, and soon was given a call sign by the database. PJ-4. Rodney sent it upwards, flying up into the cosmos and away from the dangers of gravity.
With a gasp, he suddenly sat forward, his eyes wide open. They were unfocused, wide and scared. Carter rested a hand briefly on his shoulder, to let him know he had done what he wanted to do.
A heartbeat later, the screen showed a terrific explosion. Carter stepped forward, watching as the three warships shattered into tiny pieces, each fragment picked up and designated with a number by the precise computer system. As she watched, the pieces lost power, any light or energy signature they might have been emitting winking out. Any references to them being part or once part of a warship disappeared, and Atlantis automatically responded to protect itself against what had once been part of its own. Now, it was just shrapnel.
The shield responded. Nothing breached the dome. The bits of ships became nothing more than bugs on a windshield, disintegrated upon impact. Radek’s extra work to make the shield even more potent had worked.
It had all worked.
Carter turned around at Rodney's call, to find the scientist was still sitting in the chair, leaning forward and tapping his radio. “Sheppard?” he called again. “Teyla? Ronon?”
“We’re here, Rodney,” Teyla replied, her tone bright. “You did it.”
“We did it,” McKay answered quickly, grinning with relief. He looked up then at Carter, and his smile broadened. “We did it,” he repeated, this time obviously talking about him and her.
Carter smiled back. She pointed upwards towards the control room. “We all did it,” she said. And it was amazing, she added to herself. It was strange—she was used to being the one doing the bulk of the work, the one who comes up with the last minute save, pretty much all by herself. Now she had a whole team of scientists, all, let’s face it, just as smart as her, to rely on. And, she realized, she could.
There’s irony there, she thought. She'd been thinking earlier how alone she was, but...Damn, to be alone, but not be alone—this was going to take some getting used to. As Rodney continued to smile at her, though, finally standing and stepping forward off the dais and patting her on the shoulder, she had to grin. Whatever else, she knew her future wasn’t going to be boring.
He put his hands behind his back, and stood quietly at her side, both of them staring at the clear skies over Atlantis depicted on the screen—empty except for the Jumper, beeping away happily up in the corner. He sighed, and she glanced at him.
“So,” he said, his voice low, “do we have to talk about it?”
“By it,” she said, her voice also low, but not dark, “I assume you mean, your blatant insubordination, recklessness, and nearly destroying the City because of your blind need to save your team?”
“I wouldn’t have destroyed the city,” he said, his voice even more quiet. “I would have given in, if I’d had to. Radek, Miko, Chuck...they all knew the code I used to block you out, and they would have let you in, if they knew there was no other way.” He looked at her, “You need to trust me, Sam. Me and my team. If I say I can do something, believe that I can. I am the chief scientist, not you, no matter how smart you are. I love that you’re here to bounce ideas off of, to help, but you can’t be me. You can’t interfere. Whatever you think of me personally, I am very, very good at my job, and you have to trust me.”
She stared at him a moment, reading his features. He showed a lot on his face. “I think,” she said, smiling weakly, “I’m just not used to seeing others in the role I always had.”
He gave a nod—he understood.
“And,” she said, “you’re not used to seeing someone else in the role Elizabeth had.”
He was still for a moment, then, slowly, he gave another nod.
“Rodney,” she tilted her head, “I’ll make you a deal. I won't send you to the brig for ten days, and nothing about what happened between you and I will make it in the records—no arrest, no punishment, nothing—provided,” she lifted her head straight again, “you agree never to pull a stunt like that again. And, in turn,” she smiled, “I will trust you to do your job, and not interfere unless you ask me to help.”
He met her gaze, and she saw the hint of defiance in there that had always been there for as long as she had known him.
Finally, he nodded. "Okay."
"Okay," she repeated back. She was fairly sure he only half meant it, but...she wasn't sure she wholly meant it either. Still, they were getting there. Today had been a huge step. But, oh yes...
This was going to take a lot of getting used to.
“Hey,” Sheppard called then, over the radio. “Rodney? Carter? You still there?”
Carter looked up at the ceiling, as if she could see through it to the Jumper far above the planet. “We're here,” she answered.
"What's up?" Rodney asked.
“Can we come home now?”
“Oh!” the scientist turned around and plopped back down into the chair. “Right! Let me just make sure the Jumper’s purged of all the nanites and…” He closed his eyes, and Carter looked up in wonder as a three dimensional Jumper schematic appeared overhead. Parts of it started to flash red. Not good. She grimaced.
“Oh dear,” Rodney mumbled softly, opening his eyes to look up at the same schematics.
“Oh dear?” Sheppard repeated. Carter found herself grinning at that. Clearly, the Colonel knew Rodney all too well. “What does ‘oh dear’ mean, Rodney?”
“Um,” Rodney licked his lips. “You’ve got some food and stuff up there, right? Sleeping bags? Usual mission gear stuff?”
There was a pause, then, “Rodney.”
“It, uh,” Rodney twirled his fingers around each other, “might take a little while.”
“12, 13 hours, give or take.”
“Better than dead, Colonel,” Carter noted. And Rodney shot her a grateful look. Sheppard just sighed.
“Could be worse,” Ronon then interjected over the line.
“How could it be worse?” Sheppard asked, sounding peeved.
“We could have Rodney up here with us.”
That earned a bout of laughter from the Jumper, and Carter smirked. Rodney rolled his eyes.
“Ha, ha. Bite the hand that feeds you, why don’t you. In fact...” Blue eyes turned to Carter, “I’m kinda hungry. Hey, Sam, how about lunch?”
“Hey!” Sheppard called, the laughter from the Jumper ending instantly. “Now hang on a minute!”
“I could eat,” Carter said sweetly. Rodney grinned.
“Colonel!” Sheppard shouted.
“You wouldn’t want Rodney to go into hypoglycemic shock while he’s repairing your Jumper, would you, Colonel?” Carter countered, looking at Rodney and tilting her head towards the door. He stood up, stepping over to join her.
“Colonel, Rodney, I am certain that Ronon did not mean his statement.” Teyla had an edge of desperation to her voice.
“Sure, I did,” Ronon said.
“Ronon!” Sheppard’s voice had an almost reedy quality to it.
“Back in half n’ hour!” Rodney called gaily, stepping off the dais with Carter. "Try not to eat each other while we're gone!"
The voices in their ears kept them company all the way to the mess.
The End :)
Yeah – poshy me got the chapter titles from Hamlet's famous soliloquy. So, I'm obviously a nerd, but not smart enough to steal from a lesser known soliloquy. Heh.
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