Chapter 2 - Rodney and Elizabeth
Major Sheppard approached Elizabeth’s office with some trepidation. There was a good deal of dirt the Atlantis leader had up her sleeve. It may have been one of many reports that he’d typed up late into the night. It could even be that he’d missed a briefing in favour of a breakfast date with Teyla.
“Come in, Major,” Dr Weir said, seeing him hovering at the door.
John sat down uneasily, trying hard to keep a relaxed grin on his face. He tapped his foot restlessly. Elizabeth raised her eyebrows. “Usually you burst in here unannounced. Is there something wrong?”
“Nah, why would there be?” Sheppard replied, attempting to keep up his nonchalant façade. “I’m sorry I missed the briefing, but hearing Rodney that early in the morning would have melted my brain or something.”
Dr Weir crossed her arms. “Alright, Major. Why do you think you’re here?”
John was chagrined – he felt like a naughty child who’s done so many bad things that he can’t remember which one he was caught for.
“Erm…I missed the briefing and you want to tell me off?”
“That could be it.” Elizabeth tapped her lips mock-thoughtfully. “Or I could be wondering why you disobeyed my orders and went to that…Room of Twilight.”
Sheppard relaxed. This he could deal with. He said casually, “Oh, well, I had to make sure it wasn’t a threat.”
The leader of Atlantis wasn’t fooled, but she let it slide. She leaned forward, asking, “And what did this fortune teller tell you?”
“Nothing about the Wraith, sorry.” John shrugged, clearly not sorry. “But I scored a date with Teyla out of it.”
“Hold on. Since when were you and Teyla…?”
Sheppard snickered. “Don’t act so surprised. The Ancient or whatever told me when and where I should act on my feelings. It worked.”
“I just didn’t think either of you would have the courage,” remarked Elizabeth. “So that’s why you and Teyla didn’t turn up this morning.”
It had been obvious to all but the pair for the past few weeks. A blind man could have seen the attraction between the Athosian leader and John. Dr Weir rubbed her forehead. Usually she would have been alerted by the overexcited rumour mill about this turn of events.
John stood up, presuming correctly that the absence from the briefing hadn’t been that much of a big deal. He suggested, “Why don’t you try it? Just to see. I bet there’s someone you like.”
Elizabeth immediately thought of Simon. She shook her head. “I don’t need a prankster telling me what I already know. I expect your team ready to go by the end of lunchtime.”
Anyone in the gate room at the end of the lunch hour would have thought the universe had gone cosmically out of balance. The first to arrive were Teyla and Major Sheppard, both grinning secretively and speaking quietly with each other. Then came Ford, unable to hide the glee he felt about placing several large bets on the next couple the Room of Twilight would reveal.
The last to arrive was Dr McKay. It was so unusual for him to arrive last that nearly everyone checked their watches. The physicist was hurriedly secreting away power bars into the many pockets of his uniform. Another unusual occurrence. Rodney was known for being fully prepared before arriving.
“I do believe you’re late, Rodney!” John said in genuine surprise.
McKay shot him a glare. “If you must know…”
“…I was talking with Carson.”
“What about?” asked Ford suddenly.
“If you must know…”
“Rodney, be quiet,” Sheppard ordered, “and step through the gate like a good boy.”
Miffed, the scientist strode on ahead. John blinked. “Did he just…strut?”
“Let’s go, sir,” Aiden said, giving him a small push.
With SA1 out on a mission, things seemed to become eerily silent. Elizabeth Weir tried to tell herself that everyone was having some sort of siesta following lunch, but she had to concede that the team was a particularly amusing part of the expedition. She continued to plod on with her work.
Some time later, stifled by the silence, she poked her head out the door. “It’s too quiet. Why hasn’t something gone wrong?”
The technician fixed her with a stare of disbelief. The command centre was empty except for him, a couple of chattering scientists and Carson Beckett, who was nursing a cup of coffee.
“I was just thinking that myself,” Beckett said. “Why don’t ye take a break, love?”
On any other day, Dr Weir would have disagreed and returned to work. But this day it was so quiet that it was driving her mad. She sighed. “I guess a short walk couldn’t do me any harm. Make sure you call me if something does go wrong.”
As she walked, she wondered what she was supposed to do with her break. She didn’t feel like being swamped by an ardent Zelenka on a sweep past the labs. Knowing Carson wouldn’t let her back into her office after such a short time, Elizabeth decided to heck with it and went to the Room of Twilight.
The door was open when she arrived. Hoping she would at least get a good laugh, she stepped inside and waited. She was about to announce herself when a voice oozed from the perimeter of the domed room, “Welcome, Elizabeth Weir. I see you couldn’t keep yourself away.”
“For lack of something better to do,” she said indifferently. “So what are you going to tell me today?”
“I give romantic fortune.”
“So I heard.”
“We’re a long way from Earth, Elizabeth Weir.”
The leader of Atlantis sighed exasperatedly. “What wonderful foresight you have. We are a very long way from Earth, as a matter of fact.”
“That’s not what I meant,” the voice sounded indignant. “It is time to let go. By leading this expedition, you were trying to let go. Why don’t you follow through?”
Elizabeth’s lips pressed into a thin line. She hadn’t told anyone about Simon and the only way anyone could know was by hacking into her laptop. It wouldn’t be that hard, she reflected. She squared her shoulders. “It’s not that easy. There’s nothing to follow through with.”
“What about the one you like here?”
“Don’t be absurd,” snorted Weir. “Even if I did feel something for someone, I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t in charge.”
“Oh, all those secret glances at him...nothing there at all,” the voice added sarcastically. “Don’t seriously tell me you weren’t thrilled when Rodney stepped in front of the gun for you?”
Elizabeth crossed her arms, lifting her chin. “Rodney! What makes you think I have something for Rodney?”
The voice was not put out, however, saying, “You’re just afraid because you’re the superior here. Tomorrow when he walks into your office without any of his gadgets, give him a chance. And you know how nervous he is…I’d give him a nudge if I were you.”
“So tomorrow Rodney is inexplicably not going to bring any gadgets with him to my office?” Dr Weir wanted to know, thoroughly amused. “That’s extremely unlikely.”
“Is it? Well, our little chat is over. You know all you need to know.”
Elizabeth Weir just stood there for a few moments. She reached for her radio and found that it was off. Annoyed at herself, she switched it on, saying, “Weir to gate room. What have I missed?”
“SA1 came back just after you left,” the technician reported. “I tried to call you, but your radio was off. It wasn’t that important to put on the city’s PA system.”
Elizabeth sighed in frustration.
Rodney was not, to put it frankly, a happy camper. He had been hoping to put an end to his record number of visits to the infirmary in a row, but an overload in the device he’d been examining had zapped a nasty burn on his right hand.
“Some bandages and I’ll be fine,” McKay insisted.
John, who’d accompanied him down, glanced at the burn and winced,
“I don’t see how you’re going to hold anything in that hand.”
The burn stretched onto the palm of Rodney’s hand, making it impossible to open or close a fist without grimacing in pain. Dr Beckett came over with some antiseptic cream, shaking his head. “Major Sheppard’s right, Rodney. Ye should take it easy on how much ye carry for the meantime.”
McKay grudgingly promised he wouldn’t do anything of the sort. He got to his feet and experimentally flexed his fingers. Trying to hide his wince, he stalked off.
John rolled his eyes. “I’d better make sure he holds to that promise.”
He followed Rodney quickly.
“I’m going to be a good little boy, don’t worry,” the scientist said sarcastically when he caught up.
Sheppard hid his smirk by pretending to cough. “Hey, I know that. But you’ve just got to nod at whatever Carson says to you. Gets you out quicker.”
Rodney stopped short, saying in disbelief, “I didn’t think of that.”
“Oh, but you know everything,” John deadpanned.
“As a matter of fact, I do.”
McKay shot him the look he reserved for fools – everyone, in fact, “Haven’t I proved it enough?”
“Why don’t you let the Room of Twilight settle this?” John suggested, a manic gleam in his eyes.
Rodney entered the domed room. He said loudly, “Major Sheppard tricked me into coming here, so let’s keep it short, shall we? You’ll say something vague, I’ll tell you that this is a waste of time and then I’ll leave.”
“Alright then,” the voice didn’t sound at all fazed. “I’ll make this is as succinct as possible. You really like Elizabeth but you’re too scared to tell her.”
The physicist, a snide remark poised and ready to go, forgot entirely what he was meant to say. He struggled to think of something, finally saying lamely, “I’m not afraid of asking someone out!”
“Practising on your cat doesn’t count.”
“Wait – how do you know about that?”
“Lucky guess,” the voice said dryly. “Tomorrow you’re going to be alone with her. And if you ask her out, she won’t refuse you. Oh, I’m afraid our time is up.”
Rodney wanted to protest, but he got the distinct feeling the voice’s owner was gone. Grumbling under his breath, he marched outside to a waiting John Sheppard.
The Major grinned. “So, what was your reading?”
“I don’t have to answer that,” Rodney said haughtily. “I’m starving. And if you’re not wooing Teyla, you can sit with me.”
“I’m honoured,” John chuckled, wondering just what romantic fortune that his friend received.
Ignoring the pain in his right hand, Rodney was carrying his laptop through the corridors, busily sorting through some problem that Zelenka hadn’t managed to solve. McKay hoped that with his laptop as a shield, he could speak to Elizabeth without making a complete and utter fool of himself.
“Good morning,” he muttered as he passed them.
John Sheppard stopped in shock. He spun, but Rodney was already far down the corridor. He demanded of Teyla, “Did you just hear that? He said good morning!”
“We’ll make a person of him yet,” Teyla smiled.
Rodney was drawing closer to the command centre, deeply involved with his laptop when he was caught out. He grasped at it was it was torn from him by a very stern Dr Beckett who said, “Now what did I tell ye, Rodney?”
“I’m very busy at the moment,” McKay snapped. “And I need that!”
Carson tucked the prized object under his arm. “I’m sure ye can remember whatever was on here. If I catch ye carrying something else…”
He let the threat hang. Feeling vulnerable, Rodney tried to protest but it was futile. But he did have what was important memorised. And it sure wasn’t the problem that Zelenka had struggled with.
“I’m coming back for that!” Rodney shouted as he marched towards the command centre.
When he reached it, however, his pace became slow and uncertain. Without his technological shield, he had zero confidence. Not that he had much with the laptop anyway…
“I wouldn’t go in there, McKay,” the technician on duty suggested as he walked past. “Dr Weir’s been sending people away all morning.”
Rodney’s heart sank. He sighed in defeat. Maybe this wasn’t the moment they were alone. The office did offer very open views through the glass panels. He hovered in the command centre for a few minutes.
After some deliberation and dirty looks for fiddling, he decided that he would try anyway. The sooner he asked and the sooner he got rejected, the sooner he could steal his laptop back off Beckett. Rodney shuffled up to the door and hesitantly entered her office, nerves humming.
“Hello Rodney,” Dr Weir looked up from her paperwork, smiling.
He gulped and stammered. “H-Hi Lizbeth.”
Her eyes went to his hands. Seeing her gaze, Rodney also looked up at his bandaged right hand. “Uh, I’m still on active duty. I’m fine. Oh you didn’t ask yet. Well I’m fine anyway and I’m here for a reason.”
“And what reason would that be?” Elizabeth asked gently.
He completely lost his nerve. He hunched his shoulders and suddenly found his shoes very interesting. Rodney said down to the floor, “I was just, you know, on my way to the mess so I don’t pass out or anything. I did miss breakfast.”
“Oh, I see.” Dr Weir sounded disappointed.
She looked down at the reports, barely reading them. After a few moments, she still felt his presence in the room. She glanced up again and had to smile at his nervousness as he scuffed the floor. Rodney noticed her looking and immediately stopped. He straightened up.
“That’s not actually the reason,” he admitted. “What I really meant was…I was just coming by…no, it’s stupid. I’m just going now.”
Elizabeth stood up, opening her expression. “Wait, Rodney. I’ll hear you out, no matter how long it takes to get it out of you.”
McKay again paused, some part of him wondering why it was so hard to think up a solution to this one. He finally burst out, “Doyouwanttohavedinnersometime?”
“You’re in luck.” She laughed. “I can understand Rodney-speak. I’d love to.”
She walked around her desk and kissed him.
“In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past hour, the latest pash was in Dr Weir’s office between her and Dr McKay. Whoever bet that has won a large stash of stuff.”
“Aiden, what are you doing on the PA system?”
“Er, sorry, Dr Weir. I just thought everyone should know.”
“Who won, out of interest?”
“Would ya look at the time?”