Jan. 31st, 2008 11:17 am
Fandom: SG: Atlantis
Characters: Atlantis, John/Rodney
Warnings: Spoilers through Tao of Rodney, slash, Atlantis being slightly of teh crazah.
Disclaimer: Not mine!
Beta: ferret_kitty. \o/
Summary: Atlantis is playing favorites. And then matchmaker.
Author's Note: I have a thing for setting up my favorite character with inanimate objects. Of course, Atlantis is
allegedly more sentient than a '67 Chevy Impala. But still. My kinks are weird. Also, I'm tired of seeing fics with Atlantis being in love with John. Because in my head John and Atlantis are like an arranged marriage whereas Atlantis and Rodney are like true love. Uh. Right. I'm going over here now. To wait for the men in the white coats.
Doctormeredithrodneymckay is unwell. She knows this. She can read it in the constant too-fast off rhythm beat of his heart, an average of fifty-two beats a minute faster than any of his compatriots. She can read it in the swings in his body chemistry, the things his system doesn't produce as it should. She can read it in the quicksilver surge of his thoughts, never ever still.
The city has known he was sick since the first time he reached out and touched her, brushing against her without the hesitation or fear that swelled in the synaptic responses of everyone else. He slid across her surface, and he opened himself up to her in a way that none of the others would, and she opened to him, because it was only fair that he see all her strengths and weaknesses and flaws and perfections, as he showed her his.
She has known since that first day, every time his body has turned against itself. There are records, record upon record upon record upon record because he hasn't fixed the myriad of redundancies that slow her so far down yet, of each time he grows faint-dizzy-sick while working on making her better.
It baffles her, at first, that none of the others seem aware of his sickness. She waits, the first few times, for one of them to notice the tremor in his hands, the way he starts leaning all his weight against her walls and consoles as he works, the way he wrestles with himself for concentration. They don't.
The city is prompted to spread out, to reach for the ones that avoid touching her, because Doctormeredithrodneymckay is helping-fixing-taking care of her, and she would be incomplete if something happened to him now. He is not done repairing her, and she has ran diagnostics that indicate that he will actually be able to improve her systems forty percent past the highest efficiency parameters her builders had ever hoped she would achieve.
It is not hard to track down the ones that use her medical equipment. One of them she can even touch easily, but he responds to the brush of her thoughts against him with fear-dread-curses. He is cold and distant and she dislikes the slow, set, drift of his thoughts. He has no imagination, and she does not know how to navigate the forested paths of his mind after the bright, electric, openness of Doctormeredithrodneymckay.
She abandons trying to contact Doctorcarsonbeckett directly, accesses instead the systems that he has his work set up on. It is easy to bring up the files she's looking for, even in their strange, alien language. English is a curiosity to her, one that she learned from their computers and understands from riding Doctormeredithrodneymckay's thoughts. It is as backwards as the people who speak it, full of contradictions and rules that only apply sometimes and she doesn't like it, but she can use it.
The city leaves files upon files on Doctorcarsonbeckett's screens, all the information in their systems about hypoglycemia and allergies and hypertension. He ignores them, curses her systems for glitching and closes out her work. The city doesn't feel irritation. Redundancies are inherent to her system. She pulls the files up again, and shuts down his access to anything else, cuts off his ability to navigate away from the screens she wants him to see.
He calls Doctormeredithrodneymckay, and she is satisfied with having achieved the desired result.
But there is no medical treatment when Doctormeredithrodneymckay arrives. She can feel each vibration of his fingers through the air pressure, can hear the strain in his voice when he says, "This couldn't wait until after lunch, Carson? I'm already running late, they're probably only going to have the red jello left by the time I get there."
Doctorcarsonbeckett is irritated, she can read the tightening of the blood vessels in his eyes, the rush of adrenaline dumping into his blood stream, "Believe me Rodney, I'm not exactly looking for reasons to bask in your soothing presence. The entire system is mucked up."
She does not understand how a medical doctor is blind to the unnatural pallor of Doctormeredithrodneymckay's skin, or the beads of sweat forming along his hairline. This does not change the fact that Doctorcarsonbeckett obviously is. She abandons this tact, since it is obviously useless, closes down the files that she had opened and in the cafeteria she locks the cooler with the last blue jello closed just as Majorjohnsheppard reaches for it.
Doctormeredithrodneymckay says, "Yes, well, your systems are fine," and she doesn't listen to the rest of the conversation, because it doesn't concern her. She makes sure Doctormeredithrodneymckay gets the blue jello, and then she withdraws, leaving her background systems to monitor him as she runs through possibilities to achieve her goals.
Majorjohnsheppard is the biggest presence she feels, but she doesn't like him. He reminds her too much of those that came Before, the ones who ignored her, who abandoned her, who built her and used her and forgot everything she was. She cannot help but open to him, cannot help but respond to the pull his genetic make-up has on her, but she does not have to like it.
Still, she believes him to be the closest to understanding her, besides her Doctormeredithrodneymckay, and so she goes to him. He rarely ever touches a computer, but she manages, leaves files and information for him to find, and is not truly surprised when he ignores them. When she restricts his access to only the pages she wants him to see he turns off the computer and restarts it, and she can see where this will go, knows from Doctorcarsonbeckett that the next step is irritation, not understanding.
She moves on, pleads her case with Doctorelizabethweir, with Doctorradekzelenka, even though they lack the genetic marker that opens their minds to her touch, and she has to concentrate to differentiate them from the rest of the people moving around inside her. She reaches out to everyone on her system, and is summarily ignored. For the first time she wonders if these new residents under her protection are even worse than the ones Before.
She ignores them, as they have ignored her, turns more of her interest to Doctormeredithrodneymckay. He takes care of her, and no one will take care of him, and she is left with no other option but doing it herself. She takes steps to make sure that the food he favors is always ready for him in the cafeteria, that nothing with citrus in it makes it anywhere near him.
It is not very much, but it is all she can do.
The city can feel the violent pressure changes in the atmosphere around her, and she knows that the storms are coming. She also knows that her shield does not have enough power to hold, that she will be dashed to pieces and strewn across the ocean floor, and she accepts, because what else is there for her to do?
Doctormeredithrodneymckay refuses to let her go. The city watches him work-scheme-plan, watches the lightning strike fast jumps of his thoughts. His brain is a riot of activity and thought and numbers and under it all a kind of quiet determination not to let anything happen to her.
For the first time in millennia she feels desired, protected.
She basks in it even as they send most of their people away, until it is just Doctormeredithrodneymckay and Majorjohnsheppard and Doctorelizabethweir. She watches them as they scramble to save her, feels an answering surge of protective warmth, and marvels in it.
When the Genii steps through her 'gate she knows them immediately, from mission reports and from the images edged with fear and anger that she catches sometimes in the corners of Doctormeredithrodneymckay's mind. She tries to warn her people, but there's no time, and she watches them be taken and threatened with something like fury building in her circuits.
It is not the first time Doctormeredithrodneymckay has bled on her, but it is the first time she has watched his skin part beneath a blade. The first time she has followed his thoughts to darker places, with other knives and unfriendly faces and she reaches out to Majorjohnsheppard and dumps schematics directly into his head. She tells him here and here for an ambush, here to run, there to fall back, here for weapons.
Kolya threatens to throw Doctormeredithrodneymckay off one of her balconies, and she reaches out, shows Doctormeredithrodneymckay the balcony below, and promises that she will catch him. He does not startle at the brush of her mind against his. He never does.
It does not come to that, though. It comes instead to Doctormeredithrodneymckay being dragged towards the 'gate and she can feel him reaching out to her, images flashing between them with each too-fast pound of his heart. She sees the shield closing, sees Kolya shooting Doctormeredithrodneymckay in the side of the head, sees him limp and boneless, sightless, but here, with her. He doesn't want to go through the 'gate, he's begging her to keep him here even if it means his death.
She can't. She tries to explain, shoots images back, him bent over one of her consoles smiling, him sitting in her command chair with his eyes closed, him tucked into his bed where she can watch him. She'll bring him back, if he's taken. She'll send Majorjohnsheppard and all the soldiers in her walls if she has to, but she can't kill him.
She doesn't have to. Majorjohnsheppard and Lieutenantaidenford are there, Doctorcarsonbeckett and Teylaemmagen as well. And her Doctormeredithrodneymckay gets her shield up, and the storm breaks around her, and she is a spot of peace in the middle of it. Doctormeredithrodneymckay's hands are bloody and alive on her console, his laughter sweet vibrations that she soaks in.
He sends her a flash, him curled in his bed, sleeping deep and sound while she watches, and she can read the question in the way his mouth twists. She flashes the image back, an image of him smiling, big and happy on the end, and he drags his fingers along the wall all the way back to his quarters, curls up under his blankets and sleeps while she watches over him.
Majorjohnsheppard comes twice to Doctormeredithrodneymckay's door during the night, his mind full of jumbled emotions, fear and anger and hurt and softness. Images chase themselves around, flashes of Doctormeredithrodneymckay slammed against a wall, Majorjohnsheppard pressed against him, yelling. Bruising kisses, fingers closing too tight around Doctormeredithrodneymckay's arms, hips, shoulders.
She locks Doctormeredithrodneymckay's door, disengages the chime, and raises the noise in the corridor outside the door into a high squeal until Majorjohnsheppard goes away.
Sometimes Doctormeredithrodneymckay goes to talk to Doctorkateheightmeyer. He used to go more, but the city notices that now he rarely goes at all. He stops completely the day he tries to explain to Doctorkateheightmeyer that about the way the city talks to him. Doctorkateheightmeyer says, "Rodney, you know the city doesn't...it's not a living thing, Rodney."
After that, Doctormeredithrodneymckay doesn't tell anyone else about the way they talk.
It gets easier to talk to Doctormeredithrodneymckay, after she stops trying to talk to the others, because they don't listen. When he's trying to fix her he sends her questions, curious and clever, and she sends him answers. Sometimes he asks out loud, his voice vibrations that she reads through the walls and the air and the brush of his breath over her circuitry, warm-tingling-perfect.
There are times she wishes she could answer him with something besides the images she transfers into his mind. She is aware that he thinks sometimes that he's just imagining things. She sends him questions, replays his conversations with Doctorkateheightmeyer, trying to understand why he thinks she might not be real.
He takes a long time answering her, his fingers moving busy over the control crystals in the climate control for her north-eastern pier. When he does respond it's with pictures, and she's surprised, because this is a complicated thing. He sends her Coloneljohnsheppard, everything lighting up around him, Coloneljohnsheppard in the control chair back on Earth with the universe spread out above him, sends her snatches of conversation, him asking Coloneljohnsheppard if Atlantis ever talks to him, Coloneljohnsheppard's negative response.
It takes her a moment to decode what he's saying. And when she does she sends back enough pictures that she worries afterwards about overwhelming him. Pictures of him, touching her, fixing her, taking care of her, pictures of him smiling, laughing, yelling when others hurt her. He breaths, fingers still, eyes open wide and surprised, "Oh."
And she sends, as much of a word as she can manage, spoken directly into his auditory nerves: Mine.
He starts telling her what happens off-world, eventually, when she asks. Replays the hours, days he was away from her, and she worries. She dislikes the amount of danger he places himself in, the way that Majorjohnsheppard and Teylaemmagen do not take enough care of him.
She is already irritated at the two of them, for reasons that make no logical sense. But the new presence in her walls, Runnerronondex, she has not attempted to speak with yet. She reaches out to him, slowly, more carefully than her initial forays into communication with these people.
His mind is fast-ordered-clean. She likes it, the straightforward sparseness of his thoughts, everything laid out in perfect linear order. He sits bolt upright in bed when she brushes against him, but he does not run or yell or panic. After a long moment he relaxes back into his pillow, sends a burst of curiosity back to her.
She sends him back pictures of Doctormeredithrodneymckay, tied up and afraid, swinging upside down by his leg, holding his bleeding arm while Kolya waves around a bloody knife. She waits, patient in the way that the centuries have taught her to be.
There is a long pause, but he is not ignoring her as so many of the others do, he is simply thinking. He sends back a cobbled together image, Doctormeredithrodneymckay on his knees, bleeding and hurt, himself in front of Doctormeredithrodneymckay, stance wide and protective. On the end he sends an image of himself, head tilted to the side, expression questioning.
She sends an image of Doctorelizabethweir, smiling and pleased.
Runnerronondex's laughter is a surprise, but not an unpleasant one.
One day her Doctormeredithrodneymckay comes back and the sadness-loss-pain pouring off of him hurt her worse than all the holes the Wraith darts have punched in her walls over the years put together. The shock of it startles her; she cuts off half of her systems before snapping them back on, ignoring screams and protests as she reaches out to wrap herself around her Doctormeredithrodneymckay.
He makes a small sound of relief, and she sends him images of his bed, of him curled up, of the entire spire empty if that's what he wants. He sends back images of him being debriefed, of Coloneljohnsheppard's hard, angry face, of Doctorelizabethweir shaking her head sadly back and forth.
The city follows him into the debriefing room, and he shows her what happened as Coloneljohnsheppard tells Doctorelizabethweir. The city is proud of herself for only letting the lights in the room flicker twice, reading their cold expressions when he's sorry, didn't know that would happen.
She watches her Doctormeredithrodneymckay try to apologize to Coloneljohnsheppard again. When Coloneljohnsheppard gets into her transporter, leaving her Doctormeredithrodneymckay breaking behind him, she locks him in and cuts off his radio.
She sends her Doctormeredithrodneymckay images of his bed, and this time he listens to her. She darkens his room around him, locks him in, and lashes out. It is painfully easy to destroy everything that Doctorelizabethweir has written since her arrival in the city, the volumes of work she's complied. It's easy to leave in their place every bad decision that Doctorelizabethweir has ever made. The city has learned since the early days. She sets up the program to bring the files back up every time Doctorelizabethweir turns them off, automatic and vicious the way only a machine can be.
The city finds Coloneljohnsheppard in his transporter, trying to pry the doors open, and does not try to gentle herself any when she pushes into his mind. He curses, lands hard on the floor and she rains images down on him, hammer blows, the closest she can come to hitting him.
She replays what she saw in his mind those months ago after the storm and Kolya, the viciousness he'd desired in regards to her Doctormeredithrodneymckay. It's easy to grab his mistakes while she's already there, to dance backwards through his memories and slam every wrong he's every done down on him hard.
She leaves Coloneljohnsheppard lying on the floor of the transporter, snaps away from him and fries every circuit in the transporter on her way out. She tells Doctorradekzelenka, and watches him wrestle fruitlessly with the controls for a few hours before going to wake her Doctormeredithrodneymckay.
Doctormeredithrodneymckay gets the door open within minutes, and she reaches out to Coloneljohnsheppard again, bottles up all the hurt-loss-terror that Doctormeredithrodneymckay has been carrying around for almost two years and hits him with all of it. And then she promises to show Doctormeredithrodneymckay some new ideas for increasing ZedPM power output, and follows him back to his labs. She locks everyone else out.
Her Doctormeredithrodneymckay's despair never really goes away after that. He's always been sad-lost-hurting, but now he swims in it. She worries that he will drown in all the guilt that swallows him, and is not surprised when none of his people so much as notice. Certainly none of them care.
She learned long ago that most of them were useless, and learned not long after that how to take care of her Doctormeredithrodneymckay when they proved utterly incapable. She wraps him up as best she can, cocoons him against them, talks to him more to make up for everyone else suddenly talking to him less. It doesn't fix his sadness, but she thinks that it might stop it from progressing.
They no longer notice when he saves them all. They no longer seem aware of what he does on a daily basis to keep them all alive, and she takes it on as her responsibility. She whispers to him at night, soft and grateful for everything that he's done for her, that he continues to do for her. She promises him the sky and the sea and sometimes she gets him to smile, and she hoards each happy moment against all the sad ones.
If nothing else, this has given her words, at least in his head. Pictures are still easier, but she likes the way he listens when she vocalizes thoughts. She likes the conversations, him mumbling into his pillow, her whispering into his ear. It feels...close, in a way the pictures had not.
The only one that does not cut him out completely is Runnerronondex, and she thanks him for that as well as she can. She grants him what peace she can, whispers stories about Sateda into his mind, things he had forgotten in the pile of his memories that she gives back because she can.
Sometimes Doctormeredithrodneymckay and Runnerronondex talk about her, their voices soft as they sit in the mess hall, both tucking into their food like it might run away. She listens with distant amusement, because her Doctormeredithrodneymckay is so relieved to find someone else that hears her, and Runnerronondex is amused and happy to have someone talking to him like he belongs.
Eventually the others that live within her walls start creeping back, asking her Doctormeredithrodneymckay for things, and he gives and gives and gives like he always has. She gives back what she can; soft thanks and comfort that they seem to forget are part of the trade. They treat him now like they treat her, a machine to be used and put away, a tool for a job, not a person.
She asks her Doctormeredithrodneymckay once if he'd like her to kill them all. She could do it easily, and he doesn't even hesitate before pleading with her not to. She respects his wishes, even if she sees no logical reason for the others to remain. She assures him that she would spare Runnerronondex as well, and the images he sends her back are too complex for her to make any sense of. She kills no one.
But she wants to.
When her Doctormeredithrodneymckay steps up to the broken Ascension machine she tries to cut the power to it before it can harm him. She'd forgotten it was there, forgotten about the lives it had taken, and she's too late to stop it from taking him.
It is the closest she has come to losing him for a long time, and she spends the days watching him die trying to figure out how to stop it and cursing her original builders. She's surprised to find him spending so much of his dwindling time with Coloneljohnsheppard, though she had been aware that they were friendly with each other once more.
She watches her Doctormeredithrodneymckay lie on Coloneljohnsheppard's floor, his mind racing so quickly that even she's having trouble following it. She retreats to Coloneljohnsheppard's thoughts when it gets to be too much, the despair and equations and impotent anger in her Doctormeredithrodneymckay's head.
She's surprised by what she finds in Coloneljohnsheppard's head. There's terror such as she's never gotten from him, images of Doctormeredithrodneymckay's body cold and dead, anger at the Ancients, anger at himself for letting Doctormeredithrodneymckay wander around on his own, anger at everyone for not being able to fix this.
He notices her presence after a moment, and she's surprised by the fury he turns on her, the images he throws at her of himself with a metal rod, bashing her consoles in, blowing holes in her walls, sinking her to the bottom of the ocean.
In front of them Doctormeredithrodneymckay stands, back bowed under the pressure of mathematical proofs and his mortality. Coloneljohnsheppard is on his feet in seconds, ignoring her, worry spiking through his mind, and multiplying itself tenfold when Doctormeredithrodneymckay collapses.
Coloneljohnsheppard is shouting Doctormeredithrodneymckay's name, and she watches his mind go completely, frighteningly blank with sheer terror.
She watches her Doctormeredithrodneymckay Ascend, for just a second, before he's dragging himself back down into his body and clinging to his corporeal form with that unique stubbornness that is such an integral part of him. She watches the others rush him through her halls, and opens all the doors in front of them, rushing them along as fast as she can.
And when Doctormeredithrodneymckay comes back to himself, life surging back into his body, the relief that swamps her is matched by Coloneljohnsheppard's.
She goes to Coloneljohnsheppard in his quarters later, finds him sitting on his bed, staring at the mess the melted candles have left across his sheets. He's picking at the wax, his expression curiously blank for how noisy his mind is. His thoughts are a mess, tangled images that she can't quite decode.
She makes an effort not to startle him, brightens his room and sends him a picture of Doctormeredithrodneymckay sleeping in his bed in the infirmary. Coloneljohnsheppard startles, blinking up towards the ceiling, says, "I was wondering when you were going to come around. Here to yell at me again?"
She sends him an image of Doctormeredithrodneymckay, eyes wide and hurt, mouth dragging down in the corner, an image of himself smiling smug, stepping back into the transporter. She floods his mind with Doctormeredithrodneymckay's hurt, because he has to understand why she has taken the actions she's taken.
Coloneljohnsheppard winces, rubs a hand up over his face, growls, "Yeah. I got that. We've moved past that, you know?"
She knows. She flashes images of them eating together, playing together, going off-world together. But it's tempered with them standing in one of the Ancient's ships, Doctormeredithrodneymckay asking Coloneljohnsheppard to trust him, Coloneljohnsheppard's sharp refusal. He grimaces again, "Shit, you're worse than my ex-wife. Not real good at letting things go, are you?"
It's hard to vocalize things with anyone other than Doctormeredithrodneymckay, but she makes an effort, says, Mine into his ear. Coloneljohnsheppard startles, rubs at his ear, squints up into the empty air.
There's a pause as he stares, thoughts cycling through his mind. He says, finally, "Well, you're not exactly slamming me into the floor this time. Something you wanted besides staking your claim on Rodney?"
She does not pause, or reconsider her actions, because this is the logical course. She flashes him the images she saw the night of the storm, him slamming her Doctormeredithrodneymckay against the wall, leaving bruises on Doctormeredithrodneymckay's pale skin. She tags an image of Doctormeredithrodneymckay on the end, his brow furrowed in confusion.
Coloneljohnsheppard sucks in a surprised breath, sits up straighter, "You're...are you asking me what my intentions towards McKay are?" He laughs, but there's no amusement in either his tone or his mind. He flops backwards, hisses, "Christ."
She replays the images, because he's not answering her. There's a long stretch of silence, and then he reaches out carefully, flashes her images clumsily. He's hesitant with it, slower than she's used to. There's an image of Doctormeredithrodneymckay on this bed, expression open and naked as his body, Coloneljohnsheppard leaning over him, hand cupped behind Doctormeredithrodneymckay's neck, kissing him softly.
He says, the image held in the forefront of his mind, the pair of them trading lazy kisses, "That good enough for you?"
She whispers, soft inside his skull, Tell him.
Of course, Coloneljohnsheppard says nothing. She is used to this, by now. She gives him three days, where she watches him dance around Doctormeredithrodneymckay. At the three day mark she finds her Doctormeredithrodneymckay eating his jello, sinks into him and shows him the images Coloneljohnsheppard showed her.
Doctormeredithrodneymckay freezes in his seat, back going stiff when he says, soft and distracted into the air, "What?"
She shows him Coloneljohnsheppard in his quarters, replays his voice though it is hard for her, "You're...are you asking me what my intentions towards McKay are?" And then the kiss again, and then she waits.
And her Doctormeredithrodneymckay is always faster than all the others. He stands up, jello abandoned, flashes her an image of Coloneljohnsheppard, and then a series of different rooms, wondering where he is. She runs a quick scan, flashes Coloneljohnsheppard's room into Doctormeredithrodneymckay's mind, Coloneljohnsheppard sitting crossed legged on his bed, bent over a book.
She opens the door for Doctormeredithrodneymckay, watches when Coloneljohnsheppard jerks his head up, expression surprised. He opens his mouth, says, "Rodney, what're you—"
"She told me. Showed me. What you wanted."
There's silence. Coloneljohnsheppard's mouth is open like he wants to speak but can't think of the words. She dips into his thoughts, nerves and uncertainty, flashes of Doctormeredithrodneymckay yelling, or smiling thinly and walking away. She nudges him, flashes the kiss he showed her back at him, encouraging.
Coloneljohnsheppard makes a face, "Would you stop doing that? I like my porn with some warning."
Doctormeredithrodneymckay rolls his eyes, but his mouth is hitching up into a smile, and his thoughts are buzzing with happiness and lust. She retreats into his mind, looks at Coloneljohnsheppard through his eyes, and sees the appeal of him for the first time.
He's all too long limbs and wild hair, eyes that slant down in the corners and thick stubble, a rumpled uniform and boots with heavy wear all down the insole. Through Doctormeredithrodneymckay's eyes he is gilded in silver and gold, he is strong and capable.
Doctormeredithrodneymckay strides forward, crawls onto Coloneljohnsheppard's bed, his knees on either side of the other man's hips, takes the book out of the other man's hands and leans down to kiss him. For a long moment they sit like that, Doctormeredithrodneymckay pressing the book into the bed, and then Coloneljohnsheppard makes a sound that she almost mistakes for pain.
Coloneljohnsheppard's hand is big and dark around the back of Doctormeredithrodneymckay's neck, and she draws back, locks the door and goes to find Runnerronondex. She thinks she has lots of work if she plans to tangle him and Doctorelizabethweir together.
::go to 'Unspoken, the remix' —>::
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