Nov. 19th, 2007 07:52 am
Fandom: SG: Atlantis
Characters: Implied John/Rodney, Lorne
Warnings: Language, implied slash, violence
Disclaimer: Not mine!
Beta: ferret_kitty. No made up words, this time!
Summary: When Sheppard gets kidnapped, again, his captors send a disturbing message back through the 'gate. McKay doesn't take it well.
Author's Note: So, I was thinking, it's always John that gets to go all violently murderous in fics when Rodney is threatened/tortured/killed. It's not fair. At all. And I'm all about role reversals...
Things are really going pretty much par for the course for negotiating the release of hostages with unknown, possibly violent parties when said unknown, possibly violent parties toss a small brown box through the 'gate. Lorne watches McKay pick it up, watches the scientist turn it over in his hands just once, watches the man shrug and then open it.
John Sheppard's been gone twelve hours, almost to the minute, when McKay opens the box. The city has been a mess of nonstop panic, of frantic planning and meetings in Weir's office that usually end with Rodney throwing insults and Elizabeth assuring everyone that she's almost worked out a diplomatic exchange and that all she needs to do, really, is talk them out of their desire for Atlantis' drones.
It's silent now, and Lorne doesn't understand how that happened. It's not like McKay's even made a sound. He's just staring down into the box in his hands, expression curiously blank. But the city is holding it's breath, everyone in her walls doing the same. He can feel his own chest burning with the pressure.
When McKay turns on his heel, still eerily silent, and marches up the stairs to Weir's office, Lorne follows, drawn inescapably along. He's got his finger on the trigger of his P-90, and he's not sure why, can feel a chill down the back of his neck, can taste iron and copper in the back of his throat.
Weir startles when Rodney enters the room, Lorne still on his heels. For a second all he can see is the wide, surprised flare of her eyes, and she's opening her mouth, saying, "Rodney, I don't have any more-"
Her voice cuts off, like a record interrupted, when McKay sets the box gently, almost reverently on her desk. Lorne still can't see the contents, Rodney's body blocks it, but he catches a sharp, salty smell in the air that sours his stomach. He checks, absently, that his safety is off, knows it shouldn't be.
Rodney's voice is calm and flat and just as disconnected as the expression on his face, "Give them what they want."
Lorne still can't see what's in the box, but apparently Weir can. Her face is ghost pale, her eyes riveted to it, her lips thin and her hands, folded on the desk, are trembling. He's impressed, in some distant corner of his mind, when her voice is steady, "You know I can't do that."
He expects McKay to argue, to throw one of the fits that he has every other time she's refused to give up their weapons for Sheppard's safe return. Instead, the other man says nothing, just stands still as stone for a long moment before turning and marching out of the room. There's something cold and terrible on his face, in the brief glimpse Lorne catches before he's gone. Something hard and sharp and cruel as a knife.
He's licking his lips, inexplicably nervous, when he turns back to face Weir, now cradling her head in her hands, face turned away from her desk. He lets his feet carry him forward, silent and slow as a sleep walker, stares down at her desk and feels something in his mind shudder and turn away.
There's a finger, in the box. He thinks it might be an index.
And on top of the horrible, terrible thing, there's a piece of paper, stained brown and crimson with blood. Lorne can barely make out the writing, sharp jagged letters hidden beneath flaking crimson, black as sin across bone white parchment.
It says: One every hour.
He finds McKay in his lab, the other man moving fast and determined, brow furrowed, lips pressed tight together. He's typing on four separate computers, fingers blurring as he goes, pausing every now and then the shove something in the backpack by his feet.
Lorne doesn't have to ask what he's doing. Says instead, "I'll send a team of Marines with you."
McKay doesn't even look at him, slams one of the laptops shut and shoves it to the side. His voice sounds distant. "No." And Lorne hadn't been offering, but the rebuttal is so clear and firm that he knows he won't. Knows McKay wouldn't let him.
He tries again anyway, "Look, we all want him back and we're working on a timetable here, let me-"
And then Rodney does look at him, and he wishes that he hadn't. He'd thought maybe whatever would be staring out of McKay eyes wouldn't be the same man he'd come to know over the last few months. He'd though maybe it would be a sleep walker's numb gaze, or the crazy gleam of insanity.
But it's not. It's Rodney, and somehow that's more frightening than anything else could have been. And it's Rodney's voice, with just a hint of irritation creeping in around the edges. "No. Go away."
He does, because he doesn't know what else to do. Because he's not welcome, not right now, and he'd only get in the way. He goes back to the 'gate room, back to Weir's office where the grisly message is still on her desk, a bright stain of blood seeping through the cardboard and into the papers beneath it. He stares down at it, feels the seconds sliding to minutes, running away from them.
When the 'gate starts dialing itself, Lorne knows what's going on before one of the techs yells, "It's Doctor McKay, he's overridden the system, I can't-"
He thinks, later, that it would have made more sense if McKay were running for the open 'gate. That it would have made it easier for him to give the order for his men to stop him. To not let him through the event horizon.
But McKay's not. He's walking, slow and purposeful and steady, wearing his BDUs and a backpack and with a computer cradled under one arm. And Lorne gives no order at all, catches one of the Marine's eyes and slowly shakes his head. But something makes him call out, at the last second, "At least take a gun, McKay."
Rodney freezes, a step before the open Stargate. The light casts odd shadows across his face, turns his skin silver-blue, flat and hard as steel. He cocks his head, like he's thinking, and Lorne will never know for sure if he smiled or not when he says, "I don't need one."
They get the 'gate closed after McKay's through, but Lorne's half sure that the other man shut it down so they wouldn't try to follow him. Minutes later, as they try unsuccessfully to get the 'gate to dial anywhere, anywhere at all, he figures he's right.
The hour mark comes and goes, and there's no second bloody package.
He's just thinking how pissed off Teyla and Ronon must be, stuck off world on a trading mission, when the 'gate flares to life again. The gate techs are making helpless faces and he nods to the Marines still lining the room. Weapons swing up and he tightens his hold on his own gun, even though he has a pretty good idea what's about to come through the 'gate.
Maybe because he does.
There's a moment of silence, as the surface of the 'gate ripples smooth and calm as still water. A moment where everyone stops what they're doing and stares and waits and Weir stands up from her chair, hands gripping the table hard.
When Rodney McKay steps through the 'gate, he's got the eyes of everyone in the room on him. Lorne curses, loud in the silence, and takes the steps down to the 'gate two at a time. Around the room he can see the other Marines closing in as well, weapons slipping out of their hands, faces drawn up tight and tense.
Because McKay is carrying Sheppard, and Lorne's sure that it would be hilarious in any other context but this. The Colonel's long, lanky body is awkward in the other man's arms, all knees and an arm dangling loose and limp. Lorne's not even sure how McKay is managing to hold Sheppard, but he is, face still curiously calm as he holds the limp, unconscious man.
God, Lorne prays he's just unconscious.
The first Marine reaches the pair, starts to reach a hand out, either to steady McKay or to try and grab Sheppard, and freezes, hand half extended. Rodney's staring at the man, and Lorne doesn't know what it is in his eyes that stopped the Marine, but he can almost feel the icy chill from across the distance between them.
Rodney takes one step, two, and Lorne can see the strain in his shoulders, in his legs with each movement. His computer is gone, as is his backpack, and he smells like electricity and smoke, so strongly that it hits Lorne like a physical blow. He takes a step backwards as McKay walks slowly across the silent room, towards the hallway that leads to the infirmary.
Elizabeth's voice is almost unbearable loud, "Rodney, what-"
But McKay doesn't even pause. The doors opening for him and closing behind him and Lorne turns to stare up at Elizabeth, half leaning over the balcony. She's still pale, but she looks alive in some indefinable way that she didn't before. She meets his eyes, and he can't tell if the brightness of her gaze is a reflection from the 'gate or unshed tears.
She says, "Take a team, find out...find out what happened."
He doesn't have to be told twice.
He's seen horrible things in his life. Seen men dying with limbs blown off and shrapnel turning their guts to hamburger. Seen women cut to pieces, seen a twelve year old kid with a hole in the middle of his forehead that he put there, because it had been shoot the kid of watch one of his men die. That had been no choice at all.
This is just one more thing that he's sure will come back to him in nightmares later in life. That maybe he'll wake up seeing beside a pretty wife, or flashback to while tucking his kids in. It's one more thing that he takes and stores in the back of his head where he can pretend that he never saw it, at least for a little while.
He doesn't know what McKay did to them, to these people that took Sheppard. The air smells like fire and burnt hair, and most of the bodies are charred, blackened husks. A few of them are still alive, ruined skin cracking into angry red lines that seep and bleed as they roll around on the ground, pleading for mercy. Death.
That's just the hallways.
In the rooms there are bodies piled on top of each other in the doorways, faces purple and swollen, eyes bugging out. Some of them have blood still seeping out of the corners of their mouths, some dug gouges into their own cheeks with fingernails, left bloody smears over the doors and walls.
They find McKay's laptop in an out of the way room, plugged into the side of some kind of data terminal. There's still code running on it, dancing across the screen in an unholy pattern, and it doesn't mean anything to Lorne, just random numbers and symbols. But he's sure it would mean something to someone, that Zelenka or Kavanaugh or one of the other geniuses back home could figure out exactly what McKay did to all those burned up people, the men and women with their huge eyes and bloody mouths.
After a burst of weapons fire the laptop is nothing but a twisted mess of metal and sparks. He takes his team home.
He likes Weir. He does. Especially when the first thing she says to him when he steps through the 'gate is, "He's fine. Carson says he's going to be just fine."
She seems like a real nice lady, and she's done an impressive job leading the city under pretty much the worst circumstances imaginable. But she's a civilian, and he knows, bone deep, that there are some things that you just don't burden those who walk outside the bloodshed with.
When she meets him on the other side of the 'gate, her arms crossed, fingernails digging white crescents into the soft flesh of her arms, he already knows what he's going to say. He thinks she tries to smile, but it doesn't reach her eyes and it just looks painful. Still, her voice is steady when she says, "What's the situation, Major?"
"Don't think we're going to be setting up a trading relationship with them anytime soon, ma'am." One of the Marines behind him snorts, and he hears someone elbow the man in the ribs, makes himself smile as bright and open as possible. He's relieved when she smiles back, more naturally this time, but allows his face to sober when he continues, "Honestly, I think we should block the 'gate address for a while. They were still pretty upset."
She nods, the brief smile gone as though it never was, and waves an absent hand up towards the control room, already moving towards the stairs. He hopes she blocks it immediately, follows her up the stairs just to make sure.
Someday, they can go back, he's sure. They can blame the bodies on the Wraith after they've decomposed enough. If he has his way, though, they never will.
He understands that there are some things you have to do. He understands why McKay did what he did, and doesn't blame him, no matter that the tormented bodies left behind will haunt his dreams potentially for years to come. He understands, also, that sometimes you have to leave that behind in order to keep from going crazy.
He hopes that McKay's not already too far gone.
Later, he finds his way to the infirmary, because he knows he won't be sleeping tonight without some assistance and Beckett's never been stingy with the medication. A soft brush of sound, a tired, low voice stops him in the doorway, his breath in his throat as he eavesdrops shamelessly.
It's McKay, voice still curiously almost tonelessly flat, "It said one every hour, John. And it was a finger. I thought-and Elizabeth wouldn't give them the drones and I thought... We wouldn't have gotten to you in ten hours. I couldn't stop thinking about what they would start cutting off next and I could see them sending your hand through or your arm and I-"
"Hey. Hey. Sh."
Sheppard's voice is a surprise, rough and hoarse, like he's been sleeping or screaming or both. Lorne can hear a soft rustle of fabric against fabric, wonders which one of them is moving. "It's okay, Rodney. It's fine now, okay? See, I have all my fingers. They just drugged me, you heard Carson. That's all"
There's another sound, a hiccup or a sob, and Sheppard's voice is dripping concern, "God. Rodney, hey, no. It's okay." A whisper of sound, barely audible. Lorne wonders if they're touching, wonders if John knows what exactly it was Rodney did, if he was awake and aware for any of it.
McKay's voice is drenched in despair when he speaks again, all raw emotion, "You know how people say that they were so angry they didn't know what they were doing? I thought it would be like that. I thought-I thought it'd be, what's the term, blind fury? But it wasn't. I knew. I knew what I was doing, and I did it anyway, I killed them, John, I killed them all and-"
"Listen to me." Sheppard talks right over top McKay, voice low and urgent and Lorne has to strain his hearing to pick up the whisper intense words that follow, "If I thought that people were planning to cut off your fingers one at a time I would have done the same thing."
It's only when McKay laughs, sharp and high like it was surprised out of him, that Lorne lets himself breath. Because it'll be fine. It'll all be fine. McKay's more resilient than most take him for, his voice already steadier when he says, "Please, give me some credit. You couldn't have written half the codes I used with a step by step instruction guide and I figured the entire thing out in thirty minutes."
Sheppard sounds amused, "Uh huh."
"Seriously, do you have any idea how insanely difficult it is to write a program to control a system you've never even had access to before. If I had been anyone else you'd still-" Rodney cuts himself off, but it's already there, said, hanging in the air, and Lorne knows it's true. If it had been anyone else but Rodney that had gotten it into their heads to get John back he'd still be there, and possibly by now they really would have started cutting pieces off.
For a long moment the silence stretches, and then he hears John again, almost muffled, "C'mere, McKay, I'm exhausted and I don't want to hear you bitching about how bad that chair was on your back in the morning."
"Now, Rodney." John sounds exasperated, and tired, but there's no mistaking the satisfied grunt a moment later, or the creak and shift of the bed as another body settles into it. Lorne backs out of the doorway, abandoning any thoughts of a sound night's sleep.
He settles against the wall outside, leans his face up to the ceiling and lets his mind drift. It's been a long time since he took a night watch, but some things need to be protected.
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