So I Married A Chair
Story 7 - The Problem With McKay
“Hey! Carson, get up!”
Beckett blearily got out of bed and shot a look at the door. It slid open, admitting John Sheppard who was holding some sort of device and looking peeved. He asked, “Could you make this work?”
“Ye woke me up for this?” Beckett grumbled.
But he accepted the device into his hands and carefully connected with it. He sighed and handed it back. “A word of advice, John. Don’t try to make heat detectors sense cold things.”
Sheppard grinned. “Sure thing, your majesty. I was just seeing how much you’ve learnt is all.”
Carson took a swipe at him but missed. In the two weeks since the coronation, he’d learnt much and was able to control nearly everything he saw in the corridors with his mind. John grew serious. “Look, McKay ended up in the infirmary. You might want to get down there.”
“Oh that’s no problem,” Beckett smirked.
His form shimmered out. Sheppard groaned in frustration.
“Alright, what did ye do Rodney?”
The scientist was sitting on a bed, holding his left arm with a pained expression on his face. He looked impressed. “That was fast, Carson. Did you run all the way for me?”
“Aye,” Beckett said sarcastically, “everything revolves around ye. What’s the problem?”
Rodney held out his arm which was covered in small burns. He explained, “I was running a simulation on the computer in my lab when it blew up.”
Carson frowned. He was sure Nena wouldn’t do something like that on purpose. He smoothed his forehead into a relaxed expression. “Well, ye should be careful when linking up to the city’s systems.”
“How did you know I was doing that?” McKay asked, eyes narrowed.
Beckett mentally cursed. He couldn’t exactly say he’d felt it. He covered for himself, trying to sound nonchalant, “Ye told me, Rodney, remember?”
The scientist considered this for a moment and conceded with a shrug. When the bandages were on, the doctor smiled. “There ye go. Don’t try linkin’ up again.”
“It’s not dangerous,” Rodney said matter-of-factly. “There was an error in the system. I was trying to debug it.”
He left, a jumble of thoughts almost visible above his head. Soon after, John Sheppard came in. He stopped and asked in concern, “Why that look, Carson?”
“I’m not sure,” Beckett muttered. “I should sense if anythin’ is wrong. Yet I feel that I’m missing something. I think Rodney could be right. There’s an error in the system.”
“Wouldn’t Nena sense it also?”
As soon as the Major said that, the entity of Atlantis appeared and drew her husband into a kiss. John rolled his eyes. “It’s never the city crisis first. It’s always kiss Carson.”
“Priorities,” the doctor grinned, a faint blush on his face.
Nena frowned, eyes narrowing in concern. “I’m just accessing Rodney McKay’s computer. It seems that an error did occur…but a marginal one.”
“An energy spike?” Carson’s eyebrows rose. “Marginal?”
John Sheppard sighed gustily. “You’re both starting to sound like McKay. I think I’m going to pop a fuse.”
Nena crossed her arms, lifting her chin haughtily. “An energy spike occurred. It happens from time to time because of the failing ZPMs.”
“Word of advice, John,” Beckett told him seriously, “don’t ever cross yer lass. She knows best.”
John nodded, smirking. He cleared his throat in mock annoyance. “Now, Nena, I have to steal away your husband for breakfast. Ford is attempting to convince Teyla of the benefits of coffee. We bought front row seats.”
“Jus’ a minute,” Beckett muttered and surprised his wife with a passionate goodbye kiss.
Nena blinked afterwards, smiling in a silly sort of way. Sheppard had never seen that expression on her face and howled with laughter. Carson winked at his lass and walked off, John trailing and shaking his head in amusement.
“You really knocked her socks off,” the Major commented as they neared the mess.
Beckett chuckled. “I’m not always a passive man. I like to express my feelin’s.”
John began talking about one of his old girlfriends when it happened. As they entered the mess, Carson Beckett slowed his pace, rubbing his forehead. Sheppard spoke on for a few moments, slowing also, but not noticing anything wrong. His eyes were glued to Teyla in adoration and Aiden in amusement.
It was quite a few more steps before Beckett felt his very being shaking and a blinding headache burst between his eyes. He gripped John’s arm, hissing, “Somethin’s very wrong!”
The white wash began flickering all over him. Stunned only for a moment, John pushed the doctor behind him and guarded the sight with his body. He hoped that Teyla and Ford did not look at him.
“What’s going on?” he asked out of the corner of his mouth, pasting a smile on his face just in case the two members of his team did turn to look.
Carson groaned. “I can’t even shimmer out. Nena…Nena says the city’s power is spiking and failing by turns. Oh no.” His eyes widened. “John, ye need to tell Rodney. The city’s goin’ to sink.”
The Major cursed, but softly. He glanced behind him just in time to see the confusion of man and king added to by nothingness. The three different stages were flashing rapidly. Then the moment got a whole lot worse.
“Can you stop it?” John asked apprehensively. “Dr Weir just entered the room.”
Another grown from the doctor gave him his answer. He concentrated on his Ancient genes so that if Carson was a hologram, he could still touch him. Beckett muttered, “Good idea. Can ye…can ye get me to the supply closet? Jus’ over there. I might…be able to use the power outlet.”
John pulled him over to the door, glancing around at the still unaware three in the mess and pushed Beckett into the closet. No sooner had the door shut than Elizabeth saw Sheppard and approached. “John, have you eaten?”
“Um, yeah, just about to head off,” he nodded vigorously.
He had his back pressed to the door, trying hard not to look like he was listening for sounds from within. He shifted awkwardly. Weir raised her eyebrows. “Are you hiding something?”
John’s face drained of colour. He coughed. “Uh, no, nothing to see here.”
“John, move away from that door,” she told him, smiling slightly.
The Major shook his head, trying hard not to look trapped. Dr Weir put her hands on her hips. “I order you to stand aside.”
Sheppard was sorely tempted to refuse her, but he moved, hoping that Beckett had made it out. The door was opened. Elizabeth peered inside, forehead creasing. She demanded, “Is this some sort of joke?”
John glanced in at the empty supply closet, eyes staying mainly on the power outlet. He smiled in relief. “Yep, a really lame joke. I have to go see Rodney now, see ya.”
Then the alarms started screaming.
Carson Beckett was filled with renewed strength upon entering the small replica of the city. His wife was waiting for him, pale and drawn. She fell into his arms, trembling. “Systems are failing. I can’t control them anymore.”
“It’s a good thing you married me then, darlin’,” Beckett tried to smile, but couldn’t.
Nena stroked his face tenderly. “It is. In another year, I would have been unable to sustain the city. But with you…many, many millennia. I need to rest and protect our daughter. Make me proud, Carson.”
They kissed, holding each other tightly from fear of being torn apart. The moment continued for a few seconds more, and then was shattered by duty.
John and Elizabeth arrived at the command centre, where Rodney was busy telling off a small group of people. Elizabeth demanded, “What happened?”
“The city just lost a lot of power,” Rodney explained quickly.
“A lot,” he repeated, tersely.
Major Sheppard shifted his feet, asking quietly, “Does this mean the city is going to sink?”
Dr McKay again paused in his tirade, frowning heavily for a few moments before becoming extremely uneasy. He snapped at the technician, “Has Atlantis sunk at all?”
There was a tense silence.
“Yes,” the technician answered, voice shaking, “we’re going under.”
There was an odd spluttering sound and nearly everyone turned. Dr Beckett had appeared, looking faintly ill. Sheppard immediately stepped beside him and muttered in his ear, “Can you fix this?”
“Aye, with a good deal of effort. Nena can no longer sustain her control. It’s up to me.”
“Make it fast then,” John told him.
“Quiet up. I’m tryin’ to concentrate.”
The doctor closed his eyes. The alarms increased in their intensity. Carson chuckled nervously. “Oops. Let’s try that again, shall we?”
The alarms did not decrease at all. The city shook worse than before. Beckett gripped John’s arm to keep himself upright. He opened his eyes carefully and said in a degree of panic, “John, I can’t! I’m not Nena. I’m just a human.”
“You have to!” Sheppard reminded him tightly.
Unknown to both of them, Teyla and Ford were watching from the other side of the room. The Lieutenant voiced interestedly, “I wonder just what is going on there.”
“It is my belief we will find out soon enough,” the Athosian leader steadied herself on one of the consoles, “but whatever their secret it, is has something to do with Atlantis sinking.”
Rodney’s surprise-filled voice piped up, “Does anyone know why the ZPMs’ power has been diverted to a domed room in an uninhabited part of the city?”
Beckett grew pale and had trouble breathing. John held onto him firmly, murmuring, “Keep concentrating. Bring us up.”
McKay was answered with negatives. He scowled. “There’s something going on here and I don’t like it. I’m cutting power to that room.”
“No! Keep focus!” Sheppard urged, now having to restrain the king of Atlantis.
“But my daughter…”
The power was cut. Carson collapsed into the Major, trying hard not to cry. When he looked up again, his eyes were full of fire. He spoke dangerously, “No more.”
The entire city titled violently to one side, throwing nearly everyone out of the command centre. Gripping shields swam over John and Rodney, keeping them in place. The city tipped up again, but not before the doors slammed shut, leaving only three of them in the room.
Carson Beckett stood by himself, needing no gripping shield to keep in place. His arms hung limply by his side. McKay shook himself from the shield, saying in amazement, “I’ve been thrown out of the system.”
Black out screens covered all viewports to the control centre. Rodney could only stare at the readouts. John didn’t even try to open the doors with his genes. He glanced over at the simmering king of Atlantis.
“Alright,” Carson ordered, “Rodney, get away from the screen.”
Wordlessly, the beaten scientist obeyed. Beckett rested his hands on the screen and closed his eyes. He said idly, “I hope ye can keep a secret, Rodney.”
The alarms began to fade reluctantly and the city shuddered with the efforts of its king. The readouts showed that power first returned to the domed room. Rodney stared between the screen and the doctor with his jaw hanging open.
“Don’t ye ever do that again!” Beckett said angrily.
McKay was too stunned to speak. He looked over at John, hoping to find the same shock there. He was disappointed – Major Sheppard merely shot a casual grin in his direction.
At last, Atlantis shuddered to a halt and raised again, a faint and fragile shield crackling over the surface. Carson collapsed and was caught by John. The doctor muttered, “Ye’d better explain this to Rodney.”
The viewports and doors opened, admitting very bewildered and relieved members of the expedition team. Beckett made himself scarce and disappeared out the door, leaving John and Rodney to explain, both lacking the complete understanding of what had just happened.
“What’s going on?” Elizabeth demanded.
“Atlantis has stabilised,” Rodney answered in an odd, spaced out voice.
“On its own,” Sheppard added firmly.
Dr Weir accepted this a little sceptically, but decided that for now she wasn’t going to delve too deeply into it. The city was on the surface and, for the moment, she needed to sort other issues out. John seized hold of Rodney and said quickly, “I’m taking McKay down to the infirmary. I think he’s nerves have fizzled out.”
The scientist just nodded dumbly, the very picture of a man whose nerves have been shot to pieces.
In the other place, the smaller version of Atlantis, Nena and her husband embraced. This was their one sanctuary. Beckett asked worriedly, “Is she alright?”
The queen nodded and her bump reappeared. Carson squeezed her tighter to himself, “Losh, I’m so relieved. I could have killed Rodney.”
“Speaking of whom...” Nena smiled. “You’d better explain this to him yourself. I don’t think John is up to it.”
Carson chuckled and shimmered away.
Rodney McKay jumped as the doctor suddenly appeared in the infirmary, wearing white from head to toe and a head hugging crown. John sniggered. “Quite the entrance, Carson. I’m sorry – your majesty.”
Rodney managed, “A-Are you human?”
“Aye,” Beckett reassured him, “but I was more human before I came here.”
He explained the story in summary, leaving various bits out which Sheppard felt absolutely necessary to add. The last interjection he made was delivered with a smirk, “They’re gonna end up with a kid in three months. How’s that for weird?”
“Let me get this straight.” Rodney frowned. “You’re married to a chair, you’re having a kid and you’re the king of Atlantis?”
At this point, Nena appeared, making the physicist jump again. She said indignantly, “I’m not just a chair! I’m the entity and queen of Atlantis.”
McKay rubbed his forehead, envisioning plates upon plates filled with food. He complained, “Why didn’t you tell me sooner? You’re one of my only friends.”
“He’s your only friend,” John simpered, earning reproving looks from the Becketts.
Carson shifted, wringing his hands. “I wanted to tell ye, but ye wouldn’t have believed me.”
“Do you realise...” Rodney’s eyes widened in his excitement. “...that this could be very helpful in raising a shield.”
“Aye, I established a weak one a few minutes ago. It’s not taking up extra power – it’s been diverted from the hot water system in an uninhabited part of the city.”
The scientist rubbed his hands together in glee. “I would love to run some tests.”
Nena clucked in annoyance. “We are sentient beings, Rodney, and Carson is still human. I’m sorry but we must refuse.”
Rodney didn’t look all that put out. He nodded. John Sheppard’s grin became wicked. He declared, “You know what this means? I have someone else to joke about this with.”
“Oooh, no ye don’t!”
Anyone passing might have wondered why there was so much laughter coming from the infirmary. If it had been Teyla or Ford, there would have been immediate investigation. The two of them were definitely getting suspicious.