Pairing: Mckay/Sheppard pre-slash
Sequel/Series: Looks like it; unknown length. I'll be done when you're tired of reading 'em
Summary: Rodney learns that management-by-walking-around works in Atlantis.
Remedial Leadership - Lesson 3
"If I have to read another lousy report, I'm going to scream," Rodney McKay whined to himself. It wasn't just that is was another report. It was lousy – poorly written and mostly meaningless. He didn't learn anything from it and reading it wasted his time. That was probably the most annoying part. He hated wasting time with drivel.
Rodney reached for his communicator and then hesitated. He hated to bother John just to complain about reading reports. He sighed and decided to suck it up and slog through a few more. He opened the next report and started reading but hadn't gotten more than a few paragraphs before his patience gave out.
Rodney shut down the report, resisted saying what he really thought about it and sent it back. *Make this readable before you send it back,* Rodney wrote. *You're wasting my time with unintelligible drivel.* Rodney hit 'send.'
"One more chance," Rodney said to himself. "Someone has got to get this right." He scrolled through the list and found one he had hopes for. *Kusanagi and Bates.* He held his breath and opened the file. Finally. Concise, clear and honest. "They even admitted to the laundry screw up. Damn," he said. He sent a *thank you –R* as a reply.
The one good report gave him the patience to try reading several others, but he sent them all back with scathing messages to redo the report – immediately. He was tired of trying to run Atlantis with bad information. Not for the first time, he wondered how Elizabeth Weir would have managed. But she had died and he was now in charge. He had learned that he had to do this his own way, and figuring this out was one of the lessons he had to learn.
He looked around the office and knew he had to get out. But he didn't know where to go. He wasn't scheduled to meet with John for his weapon's training and he knew Zelenka was using the lab for an experiment that shouldn't be interrupted at this point. Exploring the city on his own was still too dangerous. Rodney didn't have any place to go, and that felt... well, it didn't feel good.
Okay, maybe coffee would work. He could go down to the kitchen and see if he could get some coffee and a snack. It was only mid-afternoon and the kitchen would be quiet. Anything would be better than sitting here any longer.
No one stopped Rodney as he walked to the kitchen area. Oh, he realized. They're pissed about having to re-do their reports. They'll get over it, he decided. As he walked in, he saw Bates talking with one of the cooks. "Sergeant," Rodney said, "any chance a tired man can get a cup of coffee?"
Bates looked up at the question and said, "Sure, Dr. McKay. Give us a minute?"
Rodney nodded, "Not a problem, thanks."
"Grab a seat and I'll bring it out?" Bates said.
"You don't have to..." Rodney started to protest.
"Not a problem," Bates said firmly. "Go and sit." He waved Rodney out to the eating area.
Rodney put his laptop down and sat at a table not too far from the kitchen area and Bates came out shortly with not only a mug of coffee, but a plate that he slid in front of Rodney.
Rodney smiled, "Damn, just what I needed! Thanks." He took a cookie and bit into it and hmmm'd in happiness. "Sit… sit..." he said to Bates.
Bates looked uncomfortable for a moment, but grabbed a chair anyways. "Do you need anything else?" Bates asked. He didn't sit as much as perch, as if to be able to get away quickly.
Rodney thought for a second. "You and Kusanagi are the only ones who can write a decent report around here. Well, except for Major Sheppard and a couple other," Rodney found himself saying. "How is that?"
Bates shifted in his chair and looked down at the table. He cleared his throat and said, "Well, Dr. Kusanagi... well, she writes most of the reports for both of us." He looked at Rodney and admitted, "She says if we are to take care of things properly, we must tell both the good and the bad."
"Exactly," replied Rodney. "If no one knows what is going wrong, how can we fix it?" He waved his free hand. "That's the universal 'we' mind you."
He saw Bates relax fractionally. Rodney knew he wasn't always the best when it came to dealing with people but even he could take a hint when hit over the head with it. He finished up his coffee, pickup up his laptop and said, "Thanks for the cookies, Sergeant." Bates nodded as Rodney went off.
Walking pretty much at random, Rodney found himself in the botany lab. He shook his head, since stepping in there was more than likely to set of any one of his pollen allergies. But, he wasn't going to back down now. He walked into the lab and everyone looked up, startled to see the Chief Science Office and Head of the Expedition walking into the lab. Rodney snorted to himself. This was too much fun, he should have done this weeks ago.
He stood still for a minute and once he had the attention of everyone there, he said loudly, "Okay. A gold star for the first person to tell me one thing that's important that went wrong in the last week."
Silence. "Come on," Rodney said, disgusted. "We're dealing with life-sucking vampires, a city that can kill us if we don't pay attention and we don't know when we're going to get back in contact with Earth again. You can't tell me everything is peachy-keen."
A movement from the back of the lab and a voice that said meekly, "Sir?"
"Yes, yes," Rodney said brusquely. Then he remembered something John had said. His voice softened and said, "Tell me who you are?" *Learn who they are,* John had said. *It's easier, and harder, that way.*
"Dr. Susan Greene," the woman said softly.
Rodney wrote it down, aware that he was obviously taking notes, to make sure he got it right. He knew they were watching him write it down, also. "Alright, Dr. Greene, what do you have for me?"
"Well, the hydroponics greenhouse that we've started has developed a fungal growth that we can't yet identify. Until we can get it under control and identify it, we won't be able to grow anything edible in there."
"Excellent!" Rodney said. "What do you need to fix it?"
"Well, Dr. Rodriguez thinks…" she started.
Rodney stopped her with a glare. He said carefully, "I asked what do *you* need to fix it?" He mentally crossed his fingers.
He was rewarded by the relief in her eyes, but she kept her voice steady. "I want to empty out the watering system, scrub out the tubs and purge the system with bleach. Or whatever we have that would have a similar effect. Then we start over."
Rodney wrote it down, and looked up at her. "Reports every three days, good or bad. If it doesn't work, tell me why. Got it?"
She nodded at him. "Thank you," she said softly, but there was a look of delight in her eyes.
"Then go back to work," Rodney huffed. He looked up, "That means all of you." He left without saying anything else.
Rodney managed to do wreak similar havoc in biology and astronomy before he ended up in electrical engineering. Interestingly enough, the electrical problem was in the report in his in-basket that he hadn't gotten to. "I couldn't read another written report," he admitted to Dr. El-Abrahim, the head of the department. "Sorry."
Knowing that several of his colleagues had their reports sent back to them with somewhat unprofessional comments, Dr. El-Abrahim could understand the frustration on both sides. But he also knew that was as much of an apology he was going to get from Dr. McKay.
Rodney wandered back to his office to close down before dinner. As he was reading the report from electrical engineering that really did outline the problem and was pretty well written, John stopped in.
"What the hell have you been doing McKay?" he asked, curious, sitting on the chair opposite Rodney's desk.
"I've decided I'm tired of not learning about things we do ourselves that can kill us," he declared, somewhat defensively. "So I went out looking for it."
John thought that through. It wasn't terribly different from any standard risk assessment that he would have done in planning a military exercise.
Rodney looked up from the report he was no longer reading and forced himself to ask, "And what should you be telling me that no one else has?"
After his knee-jerk reaction that Rodney should be treating him different, John stopped and forced himself to be honest. He shouldn't be any different and he wasn't being a friend to Rodney if he wouldn't let Rodney call him on it.
Rodney watched John's reaction and tried not to let his personal concern show through. John's friendship meant a lot to him, but he had to place the welfare of the expedition ahead of his personal happiness. When John didn't immediately react, and, even better, didn't react badly, Rodney let out a breath he didn't realize he was holding. Happiness? When did John and *happy* become connected in his head?
John looked down at his feet as he answered slowly, "You know, I didn't even think I was doing it, until you asked. But it's too easy to shade information on the positive side and forget that it affects everyone. With no backup and limited resources, it's too tempting to try to be optimistic." He looked up at Rodney and said, eyes bleak, "In trying to protect you from even more bad news, I'm not doing you any favors, am I?"
"Oh, god, don't tell me we're almost out of ammunition or something like that," Rodney said gloomily.
John had to grin. He could count on Rodney to go to the worse case scenario. "No, no, no. Nothing anywhere as serious as that," John reassured him. "It's just that there are some morale issues among the Marines that I've been trying to handle myself. Some of them aren't as happy here as I would like – they aren't getting along so I'm juggling assignments to minimize that. Couple of the others are having problems getting along with the science staff."
"Hell, *I* have problems getting along with the science staff," Rodney huffed. "And I guess I wouldn't be much help with your morale issues. But you can talk at me about them if you want," Rodney offered.
"How about over some dinner?" John asked. Having someone he could talk to was one of the reasons he made friends with Rodney. He wondered when the friendship had become more important to him than anything else.
Rodney beamed. Dinner with John would be the best part of the day. Maybe John and *happy* did go together. "Yes, I'd like that!"