Season: AU Season 1
Archive Permissions: Area 52
Summary: Rodney's in charge of Atlantis and not happy about it.
Notes: This is specifically "Ghostsforge's" fault. This is a challenge put out to the group:
Dr. Weir was killed shortly after arriving in Atlantis, and since it's a Civilian Expedition, McKay is left in charge...This is was out of Rodney's comfort zone, even though Sheppard is in a similar position, now Ranking Military Officer, and that they hardly know each other, Rodney still needs John's help in making this work for all of them...
Not fair.... I had other things to do...... sigh.....
“I hate this fucking job,” Dr. Rodney McKay moaned to himself. He was past anger and into serious frustration. He sat back in the chair and rubbed his eyes. He was tired and getting hungry, which fueled his foul mood. And it was only mid-morning, with his senior staff coming in shortly for a meeting.
He should get something to eat. Otherwise this meeting would go worse than he might expect. He wasn’t cut out for this. He could run a lab. Running a city – that was something he wasn’t so sure he could do.
If only Elizabeth hadn’t died, he thought for the millionth time. Elizabeth Weir was perfect for this job. She knew how to handle people. Rodney snorted to himself. People skills – that was something he knew he sucked at. But she had wanted to explore the city with them. If they hadn’t opened that one lab….. He sighed. They were lucky to lose only two people that day. They had slowed down their explorations after that.
He looked at a clock. If he hurried, he could get down to the kitchen and get some coffee and maybe a muffin. He got up and stopped as he saw Zelenka coming up the stairs. Damn, there went his snack.
“Yes. What now?” he asked brusquely before Zelenka could say anything.
“Dr. McKay, I need some of your time in the lab this afternoon,” Radek Zelenka demanded. “That thing, your experiment, it either needs to be finished or dismantled. I need space.”
Rodney took a mental deep breath. “Zelenka, we’ve been over this before. Find another space and leave my experiment alone. It’s not like there isn’t any other lab space.”
“But that is best space,” Zelenka protested.
“Which is exactly why I took it in the first place,” Rodney retorted.
Zelenka stood between him and the kitchen and while he didn’t want to have this debate, Rodney knew he had to try to work with him. He almost laughed at the irony. Rodney McKay, trying to be reasonable.
He gave up entirely on the idea of a snack and went into the conference room they used for large group meetings. Rodney knew he spent entirely too much time in that room. The rest of the senior staff started to gather. As they settled in, Major Sheppard waltzed in with a small tray. Rodney could smell the coffee and his mouth watered. “Did you bring enough to share, Major?” he asked.
“Nope, just for me and you,” Sheppard grinned. He slid a cup of coffee in front of Rodney and a plate of cookies. Rodney grabbed at the coffee like it was the last cup in Atlantis. Sheppard sat down next to him and put the cookies between them.
“Thanks,” Rodney mumbled around a cookie. He swallowed and said briskly, “Okay, status reports, please.”
Rodney looked at the group around him. Scientists, engineers, military, support staff. How the hell did you learn to care about laundry? He wanted to scream. But after Elizabeth died, it turned out that he was the next highest ranking civilian. That put him in charge, since this was technically still a civilian-run expedition. He knew how to run a lab. He just didn’t know how to run a city.
Major Sheppard’s report was last. Since it had been quiet since the last meeting, his report was the shortest. But in thinking about it, Sheppard was pretty much in the same boat as he was. When Colonel Sumner was killed by the Wraith, Sheppard had to step up and take charge of the military. Hmmm….
“Okay,” Rodney wrapped it up. “Anything else?” Seeing nothing, he said, “Thanks, everyone.” That’s how Elizabeth had ended the few meetings she had run. It seemed to work, since everyone picked up the things they had brought and started to leave the room.
“Major? Stay a minute,” Rodney said. It wasn’t as much a request as a plea.
“Sure,” Sheppard said as the others filed out. He sat back in the chair he had during the meeting. After the room emptied, Sheppard asked, “What do you need, Dr. McKay?”
Rodney rubbed his forehead again, with the beginning of a headache. “Um.. Thanks for the coffee. Before, that is,” he ground to a halt. He wasn’t sure what he wanted. He just wanted someone to talk to.
Sheppard grinned. “Knew you work better with coffee and food. I had you pegged for my team and Dr. Beckett had warned my about your hypoglycemia. Figured anything that would make you less cranky would make these damn meetings easier.” And something had nagged in his head to do it. He kept that to himself.
“Cranky?” Rodney demanded. “I get cranky? In meetings?” Sheppard let him be. Rodney sighed. “Okay. So I get a bit…. Well… Cranky…” But then he grinned. “Thanks.” Then he parsed through what else Sheppard had said. “What do you mean ‘pegged for your team’?”
Sheppard shrugged. “Was looking for a scientist to be a fourth member. Ford’s still wet behind the ears, so I wanted to keep him with me. Teyla’s our spokesperson. You’d figure things out for us,” he said easily.
Rodney was oddly touched. He was the stereotypical last-kid-picked-for-anything. And that Sheppard had wanted him….. That made a whole month of bad days go away. Then reality hit him. He’d never get to go with them.
Sheppard could see the emotions run across McKay’s face. “Hey, doesn’t mean you can’t ever go,” he said softly.
“Yeah. Right. Who’s going to make sure we have meals and laundry and keep Zelenka and Cavanaugh from killing each other?” Rodney asked bitterly. He looked at Sheppard. “I can’t… I…. How do you manage?” he finally blurted out.
Ah! That’s what was behind this. “Well, the first thing is that you have to have fewer meetings,” said Sheppard. “Or at least fewer large group meetings. The laundry people really don’t care about Zelenka’s newest trinket. And I really don’t care about the medical scanner that Beckett found.”
“Unless you’re the one it’s being used on,” Rodney pointed out.
“But I don’t care what he’s using, just that it works,” Sheppard pointed out. “If you had smaller, targeted sessions, we could share pretty much the same information, just do it faster.”
“But, Elizabeth…” Rodney started.
Sheppard waved his hand dismissively. “That was her style. You need to find your own, is all,” he said reasonably. “Like this. You and I should talk almost all the time. Between us, we run everything. Weir and Sumner never would have done that, but I think you and I do better together.” Sheppard paused. And admitted softly, “And, well, sometimes, I need someone to talk to, too.”
Rodney stared. Major John Sheppard not having someone to talk to? He talked to everyone. But Rodney sat back and though about it. Sheppard listened to everyone. In reflection, Rodney realized that Sheppard took things in, but the Major never let anyone inside that barrier that was only centimeters from his skin. So it looked like John was everyone’s friend. In reality, he probably didn’t have a real friend on Atlantis.
“Can’t promise not to get cranky,” Rodney said, but with a grin.
“And stop trying to be nice,” John – and it was John in his head now, and not Major Sheppard – said. “It’s not natural. You never worried about people liking what you had to say before. Don’t start now. You’re in charge. Do it.”
“Oh, thank god,” breathed Rodney. “That’s been the most horrid part of this. I’m not good at being nice and everyone knows it.” Rodney’s eyes narrowed. “Damn them. They’ve been taking advantage of that, haven’t they?” he demanded.
John laughed. “Knew you were a genius,” he said. He stood. “Interested in lunch, Dr. McKay?” John asked.
“Why, Major Sheppard, never thought you’d ask!” Rodney replied.
They went down to lunch together. Rodney realized that, together, they could do anything.