Archive: Please ask first
Summary: Rodney’s not really in the Christmas spirit until he get a visit from several of them.
Spoilers: Everything up to Sanctuary
Sequel/Season: Season One
Authors Note: Merry Christmas you guys!!!
God Bless Us, Every One
Doctor Rodney McKay sighed and stabbed at the laptop in front of him. Christmas. He hated Christmas. Overly sentimental music, fake emotions of good will from fake people, having to get people present whether you liked them or not. At least, there weren’t any of the obnoxious crowds of people rushing in and out of stores here in the Pegasus galaxy. The only good thing about Christmas was the food. Everyone was always giving away free food. He sighed. Except here in the Pegasus galaxy. No Tim Hortons. Not even a Krispy Kreme or Duncan Donuts for that matter.
“Doctor McKay?” a tentative voice queried.
He looked up to see Zelenka standing there. He raised his eyebrows in question waiting for the English physics go to on.
Rodney sighed. “Yes, tomorrow’s Christmas. Everyone has off. Don’t worry about it. I’ll finish what we’re doing. There’s a party down in the mess hall.”
The man gave him relieved look. “Are you coming?”
“Sure,” Rodney said, going back to his laptop.
The man smiled. “Don’t be too late. The Athosians are fascinated by our traditions and many of them have come in from the mainland.”
Rodney just nodded. “Yeah. Bye,” he said dismissively. Great. Wonderful. More golly people to deal with.
He heard Zelenka leave and he heaved a sigh. It wasn’t that he didn’t like Christmas, well, he didn’t like Christmas, but he just really didn’t feel like being around people right now. He might stop down later for food, maybe.
Rodney turned his attention back to the puzzle on his laptop screen. They had found a piece of Ancient technology and he was still trying to figure out how to interface it their technology.
* * * * *
A grating sound cut through the small lab and Rodney jerked awake. He realized he had fallen asleep in the lab again. He sat up and rubbed his face, realizing he had been drooling in his sleep. He quickly used the elbow of his shirt sleeve to erase the incriminating evidence from the counter top, grateful no one else was there. He frowned as the grating sound started up again. He slowly got to his feet to try to find the source.
It sounded like it was out in the corridor and coming closer. He reached for the panel to open the door when flick of something blue seemed to materialize before his eyes. He jerked back as someone walked through the door. He stared in open mouth shock.
“Brendon,” he managed his voice coming out as more of a squeak than anything else.
A ghostly image of the man he had known as Doctor Brendon Gaul stood there staring at him, just the way he remembered him the last time he had seen him, well minus his brains being splattered against the bulkhead of the Wraith cargo ship.
Rodney’s mouth opened and closed, but he couldn’t get a sound out.
A smile split the apparitions withered face and Brendon just smiled at him. “Hello, Rodney.”
“I’m going crazy,” Rodney said, almost to himself. “I’ve lost it.”
The man, who had once been younger than him, chuckled. “Not exactly.”
“’Not exactly’?” Rodney shot back. “I’m standing here talking to a dead man. I think that qualifies as a psychotic brake.”
“Normally, I would agree with you, but not tonight.”
Rodney sank onto a near by stool and scrubbed his hands over his face. “They should just lock me up now so I don’t hurt anyone.”
“Geez, McKay, get a grip,” Gaul snapped, rolling his eyes. “I’m here to bring you a warning.”
Rodney looked up. “A warning? Great, I’m getting warning from dead people. That makes me feel so much better. I can just hear it now. ‘McKay, he sees dead people’.” He groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose between his forefinger and thumb.
“McKay, would you shut up for a minute!” Gaul shot back in exasperation. “Geez, only you would argue with a ghost!” He huffed and then started at him. “This is exactly the reason I’m here.” He looked around the empty lab. “Where is everyone?”
“At the party,” Rodney answered, not sure if he should be hauling himself down to Beckett or whoever it was in medical right now, actually Heighmeir would be the better person to talk to. She had been wanting him to set up an appointment with her for a couple weeks now. Maybe if—
“Hey, hello, dead person talking to you!” Gaul said, snapping Rodney out of his musing. “You here, them there, you alone. This is why I’m here. You can’t keep pushing everyone away, McKay. You know the saying, ‘all work and no play’, well, you’re living up to it and making everyone around you miserable.”
Rodney sighed deeply and crossed his arms tightly across his chest. “Your point?”
Gaul rolled his eyes. “That is the point, Rodney. You can either lock everything up inside yourself like you have been doing and push them all away or you can reach out. You can retreat into science and let that consume you or you can reach out to the people around you. You still have that choice,” he paused. “I don’t. I waited until it was too late and now I’m stuck like this. Stuck to just watch and wish I could help those around me I was too busy being brilliant to help. It’s the discoveries you’ve made that make a mark. It’s the people you’ve helped.”
Rodney stared at his shoes. “Yeah,” he said tightly.
Gaul stuffed his hands into his pockets. “I’m the just the first that’s coming to remind you about this. There will be three more. Expect the first at twelve. Remember what I’ve told you, Rodney. You still have time.”
Rodney ground his teeth as he stared at the floor. He looked up to say something to Gaul, but there was nothing there. The man or his ghost or the figment of Rodney’s imagination was gone. He sighed and ground the palms of his hand into eyes. “I’m going crazy,” he mumbled, suddenly unable to keep his eyes open any longer. It had to have been a dream. He leaned back against the counter and ended up pillowing his head on his arms. It had to be a dream.
* * * * *
“McKay!” a clipped military sounding voice jerked Rodney awake. “McKay, snap too. We don’t have all night.”
Rodney turned and his brain just locked up. “Sumner?”
The Marine Colonel stood there, his camouflage fatigues, crisp and sharp looking. The permanent scowl, Rodney remembered from the short time he had know then man, was etched sharply into the man’s face.
“You’re dead,” was the only intelligent thing Rodney could think to say.
The Marine just stared at him, placidly. “You going to continue to state the obvious or you ready to get going?”
“Going where?” Rodney said, getting shakily to his feet.
“Apparently, some brainiac decided that I’m your guide to the past,” Sumner said, sounding rather irritated by the prospect.
“Past?” Rodney echoed again, his brain struggling to process this. “The cities past?”
“Nope,” Sumner said, heading toward the doorway. “Your past.”
“Are you just going to continue to repeat everything I say or get you butt and gear so we can get this over with?” the Colonel snapped.
Rodney quickly fell in step with the Marine not knowing what else to do. They quickly strode down the corridor past several doorways and into a corridor that Rodney knew lead to a dead end. He was just about to tell Sumner this when the doorway to their left opened. Sumner motioned for him to go in. Rodney took several steps into the room and froze.
They were no longer in the cool, futuristic interior of Atlantis, they were home. His home to be precise. The house he had grown up in Canada. He glanced at the windows and he saw snow falling gently against the window and piling against the window frame. He couldn’t help the smile coming to his face. He had been back here in years. A picture perfect tree stood close to the mantle with picture perfect presents piled under it. A small boy saw off to the side trying his best to be quiet and still, but hyper vibration through his small frame giving evidence that wasn’t going to last long. Angry voices could be heard arguing in the kitchen beyond him. The boy flinched and turned his attention back to the tree. He seemed to see something stood slowly.
“Oh, no,” Rodney said, with a grimace. “Geez, leave it alone,” he told the boy. McKay glanced over at Sumner.
The Marine stood there at parade rest. “You know the drill, McKay. Can’t see, can’t touch, not really here.” He frowned a bit. “Where is here?”
“This is my house and that’s obviously me,” he said a bit testily. “What’s the point of this?”
“You remember what happened?” Sumner asked him.
“Yes,” Rodney said shortly. “Mom and Dad were having this big party for dad’s bosses and clients and everything had to be ‘just perfect’—“ his voice trailed off as he spied the boy, pushing an ottoman over towards the tree. The adult Rodney shook his head. “I saw the star on the top of the tree was skewed and I tried to fix it,” he said as the younger version of himself, stretched to reach the top of the tree, his fingertips brushing against the gilded star.
“Rodney!” a harsh male voice bellowed and both Rodneys, flinched at the tone. The younger one losing his balance and tumbling into the tree, toppling it and getting snarled in the tinsel and garland.
A tall man hauled him out, giving the boy a vicious tongue lashing. The adult Rodney turned away. “I screwed up and ruined Christmas that year. Mom and Dad were furious. My sister was modified and I spent most of holidays locked in my room.”
“Seems like a bit of an over reaction, if you ask me,” Sumner commented.
Rodney shrugged. “Holidays were stressful. Mom and Dad got a lost less tolerant around then. I found out pretty quickly to make myself as scarce as I could then.”
Sumner just nodded for them to head back to the door. The door opened and Rodney followed, reluctantly. The mood in the room had lost the festive feel, but it was still home. He sighed and headed through the door way after the Colonel. He blinked as the alieness of Atlantis came crashing back around him and a small shudder passed through him.
He looked around the Sumner was headed into a different doorway farther down the corridor and he had to jog to catch up. He skidded to halt in what looked just like his college dorm room. A hunched figure sat a computer on a beat up desk, his back to them, but yet again, it was him, just a little over a decade younger and quite a bit thinner and lanker. Shaggy hair hung down over his collar.
The door behind them opened and a young man bounced in. “McKay, you coming?”
The younger McKay looked up. “I need to get my dissertation finished, Aaron,” he snapped back.
“Come on, Rodney, it’s Christmas. You’re supposed to stop working on Christmas,” Aaron answered. “Aren’t you parents coming up?”
He shook his head. “They’re going to my sister’s. I told them I really needed to get this finished so I’m caught up for next semester.”
Aaron threw himself down on the bed facing the desk. “Avoiding the inevitable fireworks?”
Rodney shrugged and then looked over at the other young man. “And what are you doing going to Christmas party? I thought you were Jewish.”
Aaron gave him a toothy smile. “Free food,” he said and they both laughed. Aaron got to his feet and grabbed Rodney’s arm hauling him up. “Free food,” he said in a singsong, dragging him out the door.
The older McKay smiled. “Aaron’s always been a good friend. This was one of the better Christmas’.”
Sumner led him to the door again and Rodney trudged after him. They headed to another doorway and inside.
Biting cold cut through the thin material of his shirt and he started to shiver. Snow swirled around them and for a moment he though they must be back at Antartica, but then he recognized the house Sumner was headed toward. He pushed the door open and then pulled Rodney inside. Warmth washed over him and he rubbed his arms as laughter filtered in from another room punctuated intermittently by coughing. Instinctively, he headed toward it. He halted at the doorway into the snug little living room. Three people huddled around a fire blazing on an open grate in the ancient cottage.
“Vlad and Irina’s,” Rodney said almost reverently. He spied himself bundled in a couple blankets close to the fire. The present day McKay glanced over at Sumner. “I was sent to Russia to head up the naquada generator project. I got a really bad cause of pneumonia while I was there and was laid up for a bit. Vlad was heading up their program and his wife was a nurse at the base. They put me up while I was sick. They’re good people,” he said softly.
“Sounds like it,” Sumner commented. “Looks like you’re having a good time,” he said, nodding to the small group.
“Yeah,” Rodney said softly. “That was the best Christmas I ever had. I got called back to the SGC not long after this and then went to work on the project at the Ancient’s Outpost in Antarctica.”
“The last Christmas you had with friends.”
Sumner turned. “Come on.”
Rodney wanted to linger. Russia had been hard, but Vlad and Irina had made it easier to deal with. Reluctantly, he followed after Sumner back into cold and then into the lonely halls of Atlantis. They walked in silence until they got back to Rodney’s lab and went in.
He sat back down at the bench again, feeling completely drained. He struggled to keep his eyes open, but the emotional rollercoaster he had just been through paid its toll and he was asleep before his head met the counter.
* * * * *
A soft hand rested on his arm and shook him gently. Rodney rubbed his eyes sitting up slowly. He must have dozed off in the lab again. He opened his eyes and the focused on a slim young woman standing in front him. He bristled a little when he realized who it was.
”Chaya,” he said, standing quickly. “What are you doing here?” he asked the Ancient woman.
She smiled. “I am here as the other, to help you.”
Rodney glared at her. “Fat lot of help you’ve been to us. That whole ‘noninterference policy’ you and your people have.”
“Please,” she said gently. “That has been my punishment for what I have done in the past. I wish I could help you and your people, but the others will not allow it.”
He sighed. “So what are you doing here?”
“My inability to help with action against the Wraith does not stop me from helping you as a person,” she said gracing him with one of her beautiful smiles.
Rodney caught himself before he rolled his eyes. “Great. Another stroll down memory lane?” he asked.
She shook her head and held out her hand to him. He stared at it a minute before taking it. Light flared around them and they were in another of the labs. A red headed woman was carefully folding a large knitted object while another dark haired woman looked no in disgust.
“I can’t believe you’re going to give it to him, Daria,” the dark haired woman said.
“Why not?” Daria responded. “It’s Christmas.”
“But he’s…he’s a jerk,” the other woman complained.
“He’s not a jerk, well, he isn’t most of the time. I mean, come on. He’s had pretty bad time the last few months. First the Genii and then Gaul and Abrams getting killed like that and then the thing with the nanites.” She shook her head and struggled to tie a piece of twine around the blanket. “So, I made him an afghan. I made ones for Doctor Weir, Major Sheppard, Doctor Beckett, and Teyla.”
“And Doctor Marks and Nurse Dickenson and –“ the dark haired woman started to laugh. “Have you made one for everyone on Atlantis yet?”
Daria smiled. “Not yet.” She shrugged. “There’s no TV and I’ve ready nearly all the novels everyone bought. I’ve got to do something with my evenings.” She finished tying up her bundle. “Anyways, the Athosians have been very generous in getting me yarn. I just had to give some of the women lessons on how to crochet.”
The dark haired woman shook her head. “You’re nuts and your really nuts to make him one.”
Daria just smiled.
Chaya grip on Rodney’s arm tightened a little the scene changed.
Sheppard lounged against the wall beside the food table and Doctor Weir came over to stand beside him.
“Rodney show up yet?” she asked.
Sheppard shook his head. “Not yet, but he should soon. There’s food.”
Carson walked up and joined them. “Still no sign of him?” He tisked when they shook their heads. “He’s not much for Christmas, but we probably should drag him away from his lab if just for a bit.”
Zelenka walked over. “He’s still not here?” he asked, shaking his head. “He told me he would be coming.”
Sheppard smiled, pushing away from the wall. He smiled at the Doctors. “Care to join me in a little kidnapping operation?”
The scene changed again and Rodney blinked hard. He looked out the window to the snow covered landscape. A warm snug living room hung with Christmas decorations surrounded them, a decorated tree in the corner.
“Where—“ he started to say and woman walked into the brightly decorated room, looking through a handful of mail. Rodney stared at her.
“Last of the Christmas cards,” she announced sounded disappointed.
A man looked up from a hokey game on the TV. He shifted to look back over the couch at her. “Still nothing from him?”
She shook her head. “I really didn’t expect anything, but still—“ She shrugged. “I don’t even know if he got my last few cards. He’s moved so much in the last few years. Nevada in the U.S. then Russia and last we heard Antarctica. Who knows where he is now.”
“I’m sure he’s okay,” the man said.
The woman nodded and sank down beside him on the couch. “It would just be nice to hear from him. He’s still my brother.”
The scene shifted again and Rodney sank down on the stool. “I didn’t know she even thought about me any more,” he said softly.
Chaya smiled at him. “You have many people who care about you, Doctor McKay. Don’t push them away from you.”
Rodney nodded tiredly, feeling fatigue washing over him again irresistibly. He yawned broadly, slumping back down against the counter.
* * * * *
Rodney came awake with a gasp, cold tendrils of fear arcing up and down his spine. He sat upright, the air in the lab around him icy and his breath clouding out from him in a white mist. He whirled around and froze.
“Steve”, as Major Sheppard had dubbed the Wraith they had captured grinned at him.
Rodney’s hand went instinctively to where he carried the berretta when they were on missions, but it wasn’t there. He glanced around wildly for something to use as a weapon.
‘Steve’ just grinned at him. “I will not harm you, Doctor Mac-Kay,” he hissed.
“Yeah, right, sure,” Rodney shot back, scuttling around the counter, trying to put some distance between them.
“I am here to help you,” the Wraith hissed and the words sounded totally wrong coming out of his mouth.
“I’m sure you are,” Rodney said, his fingers curled around the corner of one of the scanners and he hefted it in front of him.
The Wraith just grinned. “You will come with me,” he rasped.
“And what if I said, ‘Not a chance in—‘” Rodney felt himself being drawn away with the Wraith, everything around him took on a shadowed distorted look and melted away.
He found himself standing in the gate room, but everything looked…different. He looked up at the control room and Elizabeth stood there. He stared. It was Elizabeth, but it wasn’t. The woman looked like Elizabeth only much, much older. Worry pinched her eyes and mouth, grey streaked her collar length hair. She stared down at the Stargate as it started to dial. The wormhole opened and four figures stepped through. He recognized them, but each carried the weight of years with them. Sheppard looked haggard and gaunt. Teyla’s warm rusty colored hair was streaked with grey like Elizabeth’s. Ford carried a maturity in his face that spoke of many years of hard fighting. The fourth member made him stop. Kavanagh. Kavanagh with short hair and hard features. Rodney looked around for himself and he was nowhere in sight.
“Major, how did it go?” Elizabeth called down, coming down the stairs slowly to meet the group.
Sheppard shook his head. “The Wraith bet us there. There was no one left and they destroyed the ZPM.”
Elizabeth nodded grimly. “Bates and his team should be back shortly.”
“Hope they had better luck,” Sheppard said, nodding to the others to go. Ford, Teyla and Kavanagh filed out of the room. Sheppard came over to Elizabeth. “We found traces of the Genii and this,” he said, holding out a ragged bit of orange cloth.
“He’s still alive,” Elizabeth said softly.
“Yeah,” Sheppard said. “But who knows for how long or even if he’s him any more.”
She nodded. “The ZPM.”
He nodded. “Could have been C-4.”
“Did you tell the others?” she asked and he shook his head.
“Did you tell the others?” she asked and he shook his head.
“What good would it do? We can’t get to him."
She sighed wearily. "Why?"
Sheppard stared at his boots a moment and then said, "If I had just been watching him a little closer. If he hadn't wandered off like he always did."
"If. If. If," she said bitterly. "If he just trusted us a little more."
Sheppard nodded. "Yeah."
The scene shifted again in shadows.
He vaguely recognized the house they stood in. Windows shattered and snow drifted in across the floor. Realization hit him like a punch in the gut. His sister’s house. He hurried to the door and pushed it open. Rows of decimated houses greeted him.
“No,” he said softly and a tattered bit of newspaper drifted in and caught against his leg. He picked it up, reading what was left of a headline. “Wraith ships headed toward Earth Milita—“ He let the paper drift out of his hands, a feeling of numb horror washing over him.
He whirled on the Wraith. “What is this?” he shouted.
‘Steve’ just grinned at him. “Your world just waits for us. What is the word you called it…a ‘smorgasbord’ just waiting for us to begin feeding on.”
“No,” Rodney said, backing away. “No. We’ll stop you.”
‘Steve’ grin widen. “You will not. Your people will not because you will not be there to help them. You did not trust them and that lack of trust lead to their destruction and our feast.” The Wraith began to laugh, a sickening sound something between a rasping choke and a wet gurgle.
Rodney backed away, his back hitting the wall, his legs giving out from under him, he slide down to sit on the floor. “I do trust them,” he said softly. “I do.”
“McKay. Hey, McKay wake up.” A hand gripped his shoulder and shook him gently.
Rodney sat up with a gasp. “What?”
“Whoa,” Sheppard said. “Easy there. You okay?” Concerned hazel eyes studied him critically.
Rodney felt a hand clamp around his wrist, finger tips poising there. He looked and saw Carson checking his pulse.
Rodney found his voice after a moment. “Yeah, I’m okay. Just a really weird dream,” he said still feeling a bit disoriented.
“Heart rate’s a mite high,” Carson commented. “When’s the last time you ate?”
“What?” Rodney said, blinking at him.
“That’s what I thought,” the Scottish doctor said with a shake of his head. “Your blood sugar is probably low. Would explain the nightmare.”
Rodney just nodded. He had a feeling it was something little more than that.
“He’s not sick is he?” a slightly accent voice asked and it took Rodney a moment to identify it as Zelenka.
Carson rested the back of his hand against Rodney’s forehead. “He doesn’t feel feverish. Most likely just his blood sugar.”
“Probably why I was seeing dead people,” Rodney said absently.
Sheppard and Carson gave him a sharp look.
Rodney couldn’t help himself. “What? You see them too,” he said, looking at Sheppard.
The Major started to protest and then seemed to catch on. “Oh, yeah, that.” He looked over at Carson. “Is he going to be okay?”
“Once he eats,” Carson said, getting to his feet and pulling on Rodney to get up too.
Rodney frowned deeply realizing he was sitting on the floor. Hadn’t he fallen asleep at the counter?
Sheppard grabbed his other arm and they pulled him. Rodney halted them, looking at the concerned face around him. “I do trust you,” he said after a moment, looking from Carson to Sheppard to Zelenka.
The men looked a bit confused, but just nodded one by one.
“Let’s get some food into you,” Carson said. “You know better than this.”
Rodney just nodded.
Sheppard glanced over at him. “That must have been one dozy of a nightmare.” He quirked a smile. “Let me guess. I was there and Carson and Zelenka and—“
Rodney laughed. “You’d never believe it if I told you.” His smile softened a little. “The party still going on?”
“Yup,” Sheppard answered. “You think you’re up to that?”
Rodney nodded. “Yeah. I am.”
He didn’t miss the smile the other men shared. Rodney wasn’t going to forget what he had seen, real or not.
They made their way to the party in the mess and Carson and Sheppard parked him at a table while Zelenka went to get some food for him. Rodney just sat there watching the others. Ford had settled himself in with several of the Athosian kids deeply engrossed in telling them a story. He saw McKay watching him and flashed him a quick smile before he announced to the kids “And then Tiny Tim said “God bless us.”
“Every one,” Rodney said softly with him.