Fandom: Stargate Atlantis/Traders xo [Atlantis: sur la mer segment]
Spoilers: none -- set beginning of second season SGA and after Traders finished
Beta: the LKY and L, lovely lassies.
Mind wide open and pockets filled with chocolate.
Grant poked his head outside the door of his suite. The air was crisp with morning freshness. Only the faint slosh of waves against pylons was audible. No hum of electricity, technology or equipment sounded in the silence. Grant breathed a quiet ‘o’, marvelling in a different, hushed world.
It was time to explore; the party goers would be sleeping, partied out.
Grant took a crab-wise step out into the corridor. The door slid shut, and Grant knew that the whisper to herald movement was not necessary, it was an affectation to indicate a door.
Grant pulled his floppy boonie hat down over his ears. SGC issued trousers, walking boots and blue sciencey t-shirt (he’d added his favourite baggy blue cardigan), he was all set and correct -- ready to explore.
The door across from his, one down from Rodney’s, opened and John stumbled out.
“Hey. Morning,” John said blearily and stretched, reaching for the ceiling on tiptoes. Wearing a black t-shirt, which quite frankly has seen better days, and a pair of shorts coupled with bare feet stuffed into trainers it appeared that some form of exercise was on his agenda. Yawning widely, he braced one hand against the door frame and bent one leg back, stretching his calf muscles. “You wanna go for a run?”
Grant opted for widening his eyes – horrified.
“Hmmm, I’ll take that as a no,” John said around a yawn. “Normally the commissary would be open for breakfast, but I don’t think that anyone will be up. Might be some fruit and bread left out. You know the way?”
Grant pointed down and to the left. Rodney had shown him a detailed diagram of the main tower and the single support turret where ninety percent of the expedition’s activities were concentrated. He had been instructed not to venture out of those areas on pain of stringent chocolate regulations. Grant patted his cardigan pockets, checking on the wrapped Quality Street chocolates that he had appropriated. He had managed to acquire the coveted green triangles and the purple caramels on his trip to the infirmary.
“Have you got you got your button?” Flyboy stretched out his other leg.
Grant nodded, pulling the chain from his neck to show the emergency trigger that Rodney had cobbled together.
“Okay.” John said slowly as he cocked his head to the side. Focussed elsewhere, his gaze shifted to a distant point. The lights along the corridor pulsed, matching a heartbeat. “Stay in the cleared areas, okay?”
Grant added an emphatic jerking nod. He wasn’t going anywhere, he was going to stay in the cleared areas, there were a hundred and one ways to search, but the most efficient way was in his lab.
“Have fun.” John bounded off as if shot from a cannon.
Mind wide open and pockets full of chocolate, Grant pootled happily in his lab. Boxes upon unlabeled boxes were strewn around his new laboratory, containing the entire contents of his personal computer array.
He ignored them, exploring his new world. A bank of crystals sparked in the morning light. There were banks and banks of transparent crystals behind the panels that he pulled off the wall. Each panel yielded to his fingertips until an entire wall of light was revealed. Grant touched a cool glowing sheet and a cascade of light rippled.
He turned in a circle.
The lights blinked ones and zeroes, a veritable cornucopia of thoughts but curtailed. He squatted and stroked a dully glowing crystal.
Patterns hiding. Grant blew a soft kiss at the wall.
He needed his computers; he needed to see. On his bottom, he shuffled under a table and started to untangle the biggest box of snarled up cables.
“Grant?” Rodney staggered into the lab, sleep befuddled and coffee deprived.
Grant flopped back, sprawling out from under the table.
“You winning?” Rodney asked. He dropped with a thud to sit crossed-legged at Grant’s side. He scanned the detritus of Grant’s attempts at assembling his computers. “How much crap have you got? Is that a SX-6 vector? I see you haven’t hooked up to the power grid? Sensible. I’ll get Radek to come and help you when he unearths from his crypt.”
Grant reached up on the table top, feeling until he gripped the edge of a computer tablet. He pulled it down, opening and powering it up in one smooth motion. The touch sensitive screen purred under his fingers. He angled the screen to Rodney and tapped impatiently at the graph in the lower corner. Rodney set his elbows on his knees to better lean forwards.
“Power output. Yeah, minimal. Not quite. What of it?”
Grant stared mutely and tapped the screen.
“Oh, come on, Grant. Talk. It’s been over a week. Talk!” Rodney jabbed a finger. “Say: Rodney is the King of the Castle.”
Grant sniggered and ducked his chin.
“If you can snigger, you can talk.” Rodney set his hands to the floor and levered up. He clambered on to a stool and proclaimed, “King of the Castle. Beat that. I am the master of all that I survey. I am the King Scientist of Atlantis.”
Grant took a breath, a slow deliberate breath. “Geek,” he whispered around a smile.
“What?” Rodney bent over and cupped a hand to his ear. “What was that?”
“King Geek,” Grant said a fraction louder.
“Well, that goes without saying.” Rodney jumped down from the stool with a thump. “Good, King Geek it is. Radek’s my chief minion and you’re my prime minister of the Geek Federation of Atlantis. And my first proclamation as King Geek is: breakfast.”
“King Mer.” Grant swallowed a croak of disuse.
“Ah a ah!” Rodney’s finger shot out. “Rodney. Rodney McKay. I prefer Rodney.”
Grant nodded. Rodney had been sensitive about the Meredith name since he started kindergarten. It didn’t make any difference to who he essentially was, whether he was called Mer, Meredith or Rod, ‘Ney or Rodney. It didn’t change his aura.
“You know, I kind of expected you to start speaking when I got trapped under a fallen pillar and you had to tell the rescue team how to help us in our desperate straits. You know a bit like Skippy or Lassie rushing to tell a Ranger that Timmy was stuck down a well?”
“Coffee time?” Grant said piteously, in the face of such silliness.
Rodney strode into the commissary filling its previously quiet edges with multi-tuned vibrancy. Grant stood at the threshold, waiting for the wake of his passage to settle. A couple of hungover scientists shuffled lower in their plastic chairs. Blowing past a table laid out with breakfast supplies, Rodney headed straight for an industrial grade cylindrical heater on the back counter. The heater had a single, glowing red eye like a cylon.
“Come on.” He beckoned, the other hand turning the tap to free the coffee from the mechanical monster.
Keeping one eye on the potential alien, Grant shuffle-walked to the breakfast treats. John was right; there wasn’t much in the way of victuals. But they had eaten until busting the night before. With a sly glance at Rodney, Grant selected an orange and a sad, brown banana.
Rodney did not disappoint. “Back! Put that back.”
Grant, dutifully, swapped the orange for a pot of yogurt.
Rodney kept one baleful eye on him as they sat under the largest window overlooking the south-east expanse of the city. A fret billowed against the lower pylon, fingertips of watery mist reaching to touch Atlantis before whispering away.
Rodney threw a damp napkin at Grant’s head. “Rub your hands; you know that it’s the oil that I’m really allergic to.”
There was indeed a light sheen on his index finger, a little scale of orange wax. Grant licked it off and Rodney shuddered.
“They don’t believe me, you know,” Rodney said querulously and tore a crumb off his breakfast muffin. “They think that I’m exaggerating. Sometimes I think I should bite into a lemon just to show them. Yes, I don’t know if I would have a full blown anaphylactic reaction – it’s been years. But I don’t really want to experiment. Strange that, hmmm; I don’t want my throat to swell up and choke me to death.”
Grant patted at his cardigan. He should have an epinephrine pen for Rodney, just in case. He had carried one for years.
“Grant?” Rodney asked. “What are you looking for?”
“I don’t have an epinephrine pen for you. It went bad. It was past its use-by-date.” Grant picked at his front pocket not even finding fluff. “I had one for years. But you went away and I couldn’t get the doctors to give me another one, because you weren’t there. I don’t have an epi-pen.”
“Oh.” Rodney dropped the shredded fragments of his muffin on the table. “I…”
Grant looked at his empty hands, hands contaminated with orange oil – oil that could kill Rodney. “I should wash my hands. You’re here now.”
“Grant!” Rodney leaned slightly over in his chair to better get at his trouser pocket. He pulled out the magic pen and dropped it towards Grant’s outstretched hands. Grant barely managed to move them out of the way so that the medicine fell on his plate untouched.
“Contaminated.” Grant waved his hands and Rodney jerked back.
“Wash your hands in the kitchen.” Rodney pointed through the feeder window.
Grant stood immediately. He made a wide berth around Rodney and promised to wash his hands at least five times. When he returned, a shower damp Colonel Sheppard was standing next to Rodney pointing at the epi-pen on the table.
“What’s that for?”
“It’s for Rodney,” Grant said urgently rushing forward. He scooped up the pen and cradled it against his chest. “He’s allergic to citrus oil.”
“Hey, Squirrel.” John stepped back, hands raised, warding him off. “I know he’s allergic to lemons, I just wanted to know why it was out.”
“Not lemons,” Grant clarified, “the oil of citrus plants. He could, theoretically, drink lemon juice--”
Rodney gagged dramatically.
John cast a curious glance at Rodney. “You’re not allergic to lemons?”
“Please,” Rodney growled. “You think that I’m going to trust my life to processing methods? Yes, sir,” he continued in a high pitched voice, “we’re a hundred percent sure that when we cut into the lemon to get the juice to make the lemon cheese cake we didn’t get absolutely any of the oil from the lemon rind in the cheese cake. At least I don’t think so.”
“It’s bad,” Grant said intently. “Oranges, especially Seville oranges, make him throw up and give him hives and rashes. But lemon oil…” Grant blew out his cheeks and clasped at his throat pretending to choke.
“Hey!” John’s eyes widened and his finger pointed like a gun. “You’re talking.”
“Now you notice,” Rodney said acerbically. “While I appreciate that Grant can add credence to my word that I am indeed allergic to lemon oil, I need more coffee.” He stood, empty mug in hand and stalked off.
Grant pulled out his pen. “You take the cap off.” He demonstrated. “And then you jab it in the fleshy part of his hip and press this button. I’m not going to press --”
“Grant.” John caught his hand, his fingers warm as they curled around Grant’s. “I know how to use an epi-pen. Carson showed us. Just in case.”
“Oh.” Grant wiggled his fingers free from John’s grasp, and, head down, returned his pen to its pocket. He didn’t understand.
Why -- if Rodney said that they didn’t believe him -- had John learned how to use the auto-injector?
“Here, Grant.” Rodney returned with two mugs of coffee from the cylon death machine.
“Where’s mine?” John asked.
“I’ve only got two hands.” Rodney set the mugs down and sat with a flourish.
“For that, I think I’ll get some hot tea with lemon. Kidding,” he said in the face of Grant’s intake of breath.
There was still a party atmosphere or a Sunday morning after a good party atmosphere. A few scientists wandered into the commissary, blurrily staggering to the coffee. There was a dearth of air force or marine personnel or any of the security forces. In large they seemed to be living in a ghost town.
Teyla walked alongside the food table, finally deciding on a yoghurt and a spindly elongated fruit to go with a large white mug of tea.
“Colonel Sheppard, Rodney niki Grant.” She nodded soberly. “Ma’ya wkg?”
“Hi, Teyla,” John said brightly and gestured at the free seat at their table. “Did you have a good time at the party? You we’re still dancing when I left.”
“Ya eke. Yue odrg dq’oy.”
John nodded. “Well, yeah. My body clock hasn’t quite adjusted. I dunno, should the Daedalus slowly match the local time en route? Might make things easier.”
Grant gnawed absently on his littlest fingernail as conversation, gibberish and English, ranged around him. John responded to Teyla with neither hesitation nor confusion, as fluent in the Athosian tongue as his own.
“Aha haha ah!” Rodney interjected. “The Malathusians are deluded morons.”
Rodney understood the Athosian language as well; he had a certain facility for languages – so why didn’t he speak in Athosian? Why were they speaking English rather than Athosian, Grant wondered? If Teyla understood English, why didn’t she speak it? A religious or social constraint? Grant listened carefully, trying to track nouns but the words flowed lyrically from her mouth. Grant guessed that she could sing most beautifully. ‘Ya’ probably meant ‘I’. It would take awhile but he would be able to speak with Rodney’s beloved team member.
“You all right, Grant?” John asked.
Grant nodded, he was content: good food, good company, what more could a Grant on Atlantis ask for?
Grant continued to unpack the forest of cartons of computer equipment that the soldiers had collected from his apartment. They had been very… Grant settled back on his heels and tried to think of the best word… diligent? They must have used a mile of bubble wrap and parcel tape. The tips of his scissors were sticking together with adhesive.
He also seemed to have acquired more cables than conceivably possible. Perhaps, when they were all collected together in one box instead of carefully kept with the computer, data storage device or video they belonged to, they bred?
Grant unearthed the hard drive that held all his favourite television programmes and films. He set it aside like the valuable commodity it was. Pegasus predominantly had a barter economy. He contained a visceral shudder.
“Dr. Janksy?” an accented voice interrupted his thoughts.
The vision before him was coiled energy that vibrated intensely and was underscored with a bounce. Grant held his hand up, shielding his eyes from the glowing aura.
“Radek.” He stepped away from the backlit, sun drenched doorway and he turned into a small man with messy dark blond hair.
“Radek? What’s Radek mean?” Grant asked intrigued.
“It’s my name.”
“Ah!” Grant held up his finger. “Dr. Radek Zelenka. Author of a hundred and thirty two peer reviewed articles in renowned journals such as Annales de Physique, Canadian Journal of Physics Chaos, Computing in Science and Engineering, Condensed Matter Physics, Czechoslovak Journal of Physics, Foundations of Physics--”
“You’ve read my resume?”
Grant looked at his SGA-Atlantis enabled computer tablet that had previously belonged to Rodney. A Rodney who hadn’t been very conscientious in cleaning its files. He couldn’t think of a nice way to say that he had snooped. He hadn’t meant to…
“So,” Radek continued, “I did come to help you with your computers and interfacing with the Ancient database, but...”
“But,” Grant echoed nervously.
“If Rodney’s been talking about me, perhaps you could share a few Rodney stories?”
Grant pondered a moment. Rodney had left the information the laptop so that seemed fair.