McKay had been missing for a year…
Rodney McKay goes missing three weeks after
this story starts a year after that. The episode order for
‘Irresponsible’ and ‘Tao of
Rodney’ has also
been altered. This story contains spoilers for all three
Beta: Thank you to Jayne Perry for
By Leesa Perrie
, Chapter Two
, Chapter Three
Chapter One – Gone
Without a Trace
Atlantis - One year after losing
Carson Beckett was not a happy man. Colonel
had come to P2L-209 to trade with the inhabitants, to discover a plague
in progress. It wasn’t that Carson didn’t
help these people, it was that he was going off world to do
He should be used to gating off world by now, he knew. And he
should be used to collecting equipment and taking it with him into
primitive situations. But it still made him nervous; the
going through the gate. Not to mention, the whole never
what was going to happen once through the gate.
Of course, the fact that it was a year to the day that Rodney McKay,
his annoying but valued friend had disappeared on a similar mission,
had nothing to do with it. Except he knew it did.
plague that Sheppard had detailed sounded very familiar.
familiar. In fact, it sounded like the same plague that he
been called in to try and cure, and failed to cure, when Rodney went
No one knew what had happened to him. He went to get
for Carson from the supply tent that had been set up, but never
returned. There had been no trace, no clue of what had
or where he might have gone. Even Ronon couldn’t
anything to help them locate their missing friend.
And they had looked. They had torn the planet apart looking
the Canadian pain in the neck. Eventually, the search was
reluctantly called off by Elizabeth. He knew Sheppard, Ronon
Teyla still went back to the planet from time to time, but that was
it. Rodney McKay was MIA, possibly dead.
He sighed. This seemed wrong. The timing, the
nature of the
plague, everything. And even after all this time, he
couldn’t adjust to seeing Radek on Sheppard’s
Radek, who had jumped at nothing on his first trip off world, but who
had stepped up to the plate and taken McKay’s place, despite
worries, because he knew it would be what Rodney would have
wanted. And, amazingly, Radek had adjusted to the danger, and
whilst Carson believed Radek would more than be happy to retreat back
to the labs if he felt that he could, he had also proved himself in the
field. Still nervous, but able to control his fears, hide
and do whatever needed to be done.
Of course, for all that the Colonel, Teyla and Ronon had taken Radek in
as a part of the team, no one doubted for a moment that that would all
change should McKay be found alive and well. It was clear
Radek would be happy to stand down and therefore Rodney’s
on the team was secure as long as Radek filled it.
Carson sighed. If this was the same plague as had hit M8J-459
year ago, there wasn’t much hope of finding a cure.
continued tests on it even after the population had died, but had soon
realised that the plague was unlike anything he had seen before, and
was outside of their current level of medical knowledge.
Eventually, he’d had to leave it and turn to more pressing
work. The only good thing about that plague was the fact that
had been tailored to kill the local inhabitants on M8J-459
specifically, and the Atlantis personnel, including Ronon and Teyla,
had proved immune to its effects.
Carson gathered his equipment, and waited for the gate tech to dial
P2L-209. Looking back briefly to nod to an anxious looking
Elizabeth, he headed through the wormhole to meet up with Radek, who
would take him to the village.
– A Wraith ship - One year previously
Rodney McKay woke up to a nightmare. Strapped to a table on a
Wraith ship, he so desperately wanted to scream, but somehow managed to
stop himself, afraid that it would bring someone to
He did, however, struggle against the restraints frantically for
several moments before rational thought returned, and he
The restraints were too tight and too strong. He was trapped.
Trying not to hyperventilate, he cast his eyes around
the…lab. Oh yes, definitely looked like a
Wraith lab…and over there, with its back to him…a
Wraith. His breathing increased, and it was all he could do
control it. His eyes darted around the room, panic squeezing
heart, and he realised one more thing; there were no other Wraith here,
at least, not yet.
Movement drew his eyes back to the Wraith as it turned to look at
him. Male, not a drone, and, oh crap, approaching
Rodney pulled back, but the restraints stopped his movements, as the
Wraith stood over the table, bringing its face in close to
Rodney’s. He remembered both Teyla and Sheppard
the Wraith seemed to like getting into your personal space, real
close. Like this one was. And he couldn’t
“Please,” he whimpered.
It grinned at him, enjoying his fear and panic, but pulled back
“You are mine, human,” it said.
“Um…yours?” Rodney managed to say, not
liking the slight squeak to his voice.
“Mine,” it reiterated, placing its hand over his
“No…please…” Rodney closed
expecting the worst. Instead, the Wraith pulled its hand away
and…laughed. It laughed…at
him. McKay felt
anger stirring, battling with his fear, and opened his eyes to glare at
The Wraith merely leaned in closer again, and trailed a finger down the
side of his face. And then…Rodney screamed, as the
invaded his mind. Flicking through his memories like some
rolodex; reading his thoughts. Rodney was powerless against
it. This wasn’t how Carson had described what
done to him on that planet…this was something
It felt like an eternity, but was only minutes. The touch of
Wraith’s mind burned him, leaving an imprint, and then it was
gone, and his screams subsided into pain filled sobs.
“Mine,” the Wraith said once more, before injecting
with something, causing darkness to calm the fire still burning in his
– The Village - One day after Carson’s arrival
The plague was almost a carbon copy of the one on M8J-459, except that
it was now tailored to the people of P2L-209. Again, Sheppard
his team, as well as Beckett and a handful of personnel he had
requested to join him, were immune. And again, a cure was
impossible to find.
The Colonel, Ronon, Teyla, Radek and himself seemed to be especially on
their guard, the events here too much like a year ago, and the fear of
losing another member of the expedition the same way as Rodney was
clearly on all of their minds. No one went anywhere
unaccompanied, and to be extra safe, everyone had a subcutaneous
transmitter fitted, in the hopes that if someone was to go missing,
they could be found easily. Unless they were taken somewhere
shielded, of course.
He had worked almost constantly after arriving here, only taking short
breaks when forced to. But he knew it was hopeless, and grew
depressed as well as frustrated as each villager died despite all of
his and his medical team’s efforts to save them.
A few hours later, he, along with Ronon, entered a hut belonging to an
ailing villager at the very edge of the village. There was a
light, and then nothing, until he woke up later, alone, in a
cell. A Wraith cell…
– The Wraith ship – One year ago
When Rodney awoke this time, he was no longer in restraints, but he was
still in the Wraith lab…with the Wraith. His head
and the skin on his left cheek felt tender. Confused and very
scared, he slowly pulled himself upright, looking towards the open
doorway...and then he felt it, the Wraith, in his mind…a
and brooding presence, but this time there was no pain, just a
horrible, creepy awareness.
“You cannot escape, Rodney McKay.”
“Get out of my mind,” Rodney snapped. The
turned to look at him, and he shivered.
added more calmly.
“When I am ready,” the Wraith merely
“You are mine now, completely, to do with as I
imprinting is complete, I can access your thoughts, your memories, your
knowledge whenever I wish, and you cannot stop me. I own
“Imprinting?” Rodney said, trying to ignore the
issue, trying to understand what this Wraith had done to him.
The Wraith approached, and Rodney found himself off the table and
backing away before he was aware of his actions. The Wraith
simply looked amused at this, and continued to approach, backing him
into a corner, and looming over him.
“For every few thousand Wraith born, there is one such as
I. One who can connect to a human in a way others of my kind
can’t. Those such as I are normally killed, but I
to escape death. However, I am shunned, an outcast.
connected to a human in this way is seen as a weakness, but with the
right human, it can be a strength,” the Wraith placed its
over Rodney’s heart, but did not feed.
“Your mind is
strong, and you have much knowledge I can make use of. You
be a fine slave. The imprint allows me to access your mind as
please…and enslaves you to me. I can kill you with
thought, should I wish to, Rodney McKay.”
Throughout this speech, all Rodney could think of was how incredibly
screwed he was, and when was his team going to get here and rescue him
from this nightmare.
“Your team will not find you. Soon we will leave
planet, and they will never find you then. You should be
pleased. If they found you, I would have to kill
would be such a waste.”
The Wraith pulled away from him, returning to whatever it was working
on, and secure in the knowledge that Rodney could not, would not run.
And the fact was, he could not run, not if he wanted to stay
alive. Besides, if this Wraith could access his mind so
easily…he couldn’t go home.
Home. Atlantis. Oh no…
“I have no interest in Atlantis. Nor in helping
would kill me. Your secret is safe from other Wraith, for
now. Of course, if you try to run, not only will I be forced
kill you, but I will ensure that Atlantis’ continued
as well as Earth’s location, is passed onto them.”
And now he really couldn’t run, could he?
Oh crap, he was so, very, very screwed.
– The Wraith ship – About an hour after waking up
Carson had hoped that Sheppard and the others might have located him by
now, via the transmitter, but if so, no rescue attempt had yet been
made. Neither had he seen any Wraith since he had woken up,
which he was extremely grateful.
But the sounds of footsteps meant something was about to
His hope was that it was rescue, but it sounded like one person, or
Wraith… Not a good sign, he decided.
Fully expecting a Wraith to appear in front of his cell, it took him a
moment to realise that the person standing there, wearing Wraith
clothing, was not a Wraith. In fact, it was…
“Hello, Carson,” Rodney looked into his eyes,
averting his gaze at Carson’s reaction to seeing him face on.
“Oh crap,” Carson moved closer to the
door. “Rodney, what’s happened to
“This?” he asked dully, fingering the tattoo that
his left cheek. “Some Wraith use tattoos to
hive they belong to. The one who owns this ship is alone,
rejected by his kind. He altered his tattoo, and now I wear
a sign of being part of his hive. His hive of two; one Wraith
“That about sums it up,” Rodney said
“I’m sorry about this. My
Wraith,” he huffed a
bitter laugh at that. “My Wraith has decided that
you to help him with his experiments. You were the target the
first time, but he caught me by mistake. But I’ve
useful to him, just in different ways.”
“And now he has me.”
“Yes. Takes him a while to engineer the plague to
a specific group of people, and then he had to wait for a team from
Atlantis to arrive before he could release it,” Rodney saw
look in Carson’s eyes, and cut him off before he could
start. “Don’t you dare blame yourself for
deaths. He’s killed far more people for far less
his life…you can’t be held responsible for his
“Maybe, but the fact remains, the people on both planets are
dead or dying because he wants me.”
“Not your fault.”
“Maybe. I have no intention of helping
“Not like me, you mean?” Rodney said bitterly,
turning haunted eyes to him. “You think I want to
his…his slave? He knows about Atlantis, knows how
Earth. He has no interest in any of that, or in passing the
information on, but if I disobeyed or tried to escape, he would do
that. He’d kill me, and then make sure that
Earth fell to the Wraith. You think he won’t use
threats on you?” Rodney’s voice had risen during
as he tried to make Carson understand what was at stake and explain his
“Aye, I expect he will. But I’m hoping
for a rescue sometime soon.”
“No one came last time,” Rodney stated
“And no one will come this time. He’ll
make sure no
one can find us.”
“Don’t. If you have reason to hope, keep
yourself. I…he can read my mind whenever he wants
no effort. Not like other Wraith, that’s why he was
out by them. He’s connected to me, imprinted
me, and I can’t stop him. I
trailed off, distressed and embarrassed. “He owns
Carson, completely. I can’t fight him, and
nowhere I can go to escape him, even if he wasn’t holding
Atlantis and Earth over me. He says he can kill me with just
thought. It may even be true, I don’t know, but I
can read me and that I can’t stop him,” he rubbed a
through his hair, shuddering slightly. “I can plot
want, try to find a way out of this mess, but he reads my mind
frequently, without warning. He finds it amusing, my plans to
kill him, to get away. Because he knows I
he’d find out and stop me before I could, and that I know
too,” he looked at Carson, fear and anger in his
“He finds me amusing, Carson. Amusing, like
some…some pet… some…”
“You don’t know what it’s like.
To feel his
presence in your mind, to feel his laughter…You
what it’s like,” the last came out in a whisper.
Carson was leaning against the doorway, and he reached through a gap in
the membrane, placing a hand on Rodney’s arm.
“It sounds a lot worse than anything I experienced with
Michael,” he said calmly, quietly.
Rodney looked at the hand on his arm.
“I don’t think he can connect to more than one
human at a
time. You might be safe from this, unless he releases
don’t think he intends to release me, though. He
very… possessive of me.”
“Just hold on, a little longer, Rodney.
I’m still hopeful for a rescue… or maybe an
“I’ve tried to hold on, really I have, but
so long. He has me trapped, enslaved… you
what it’s been like,” Rodney’s eyes were
desperate. “I lost all hope of getting out of this
time ago. It’s too hard…” he
ashamed of his outburst.
Carson pulled on Rodney’s arm, making him look him in the
“Trust me,” he said simply. And the
Canadian pain in
the neck, the annoying but valued friend, nodded and smiled.
slightly, hesitantly. And then left. Carson just
that he didn’t end up letting Rodney down.
– The Wraith ship - Half an hour of waiting later
Further footsteps alerted Carson, and this time there were more than
one person approaching. The hurried but quiet steps came
and he almost fainted in relief when Radek appeared outside the cell
door, immediately starting work on opening it, as Teyla, Sheppard and
Ronon covered his back.
“Colonel,” Carson breathed out.
“Oh crap, am I glad to see you.”
“Hey, you okay?” the Colonel asked in a quite voice.
“Better now,” he replied.
“Colonel, Rodney’s here.”
“What? Do you know where?”
“No, sorry, but he’s on this ship.
is only one Wraith on board, and you have to kill it, as it knows too
He then went on to explain as quickly and succinctly as he could what
Rodney had told him about the Wraith, the plague and Rodney’s
situation. The door opened just as he finished catching them
with what he had found out.
“Any idea what the experiments are?” Sheppard asked.
“No, Rodney didn’t say. Does it
“I hope not,” Sheppard stood in thought for a
“Okay, Ronon, you, Teyla and Radek check out the ship that
way,” he pointed to the left. “Carson and
I will head
this way,” pointing to the right. “Stay
contact, every five minutes. If you see Rodney before the
don’t let him see you. If that thing can read his
“Understood,” Ronon said.
“Good. We need to kill the Wraith first, then
rescue Rodney, and get the hell out of here.”
Once he was sure they were all on the same sheet, they split up into
groups to search the ship.
- The Wraith Ship – Fifteen minutes of searching later
Sheppard and Carson heard voices, and approached the room they were
coming from carefully.
“How long to repair the inertial dampeners,
Rodney?” a Wraith voice asked.
“Another hour,” came the emotionless response.
They cautiously looked into the room, and saw that Rodney was sitting
in front of a console, with the Wraith standing over him, a hand placed
on his shoulder. As they watched, the Wraith leaned down,
bringing his face close to Rodney’s, thoroughly invading his
personal space. Sheppard had expected a reaction; maybe a
shudder, or a recoil even, but Rodney seemed resigned to it.
“One hour is not acceptable,” the Wraith
hissed. “Work faster.”
“Good,” the Wraith moved away from Rodney, and
his opportunity, entering the room shooting. Rodney spun
and then dived to the floor.
A few seconds later, and the Wraith was dead. Sheppard put a
more shots in, just to be certain. Carson entered the room,
heading for Rodney, who had screamed as the Wraith died, and was now
holding his head in his hands and rocking in pain, whimpering.
“Oh crap. Rodney, lad, are you okay?”
Carson sat next
to him, trying to pry Rodney’s hand away.
let me see.”
“No, no…” the voice was weak, pain
“Oh crap, it hurts… it hurts…
please… it hurts…”
Sheppard sat the other side of Rodney, looking worried, and offering
Carson the med kit from his pack.
“We need to get him out of here. We have a couple
of cloaked jumpers outside.”
“Okay,” Carson said, injecting Rodney with a field
morphine. “Just give him a moment, this should take
Sheppard contacted the rest of his team, telling them to fall back to
the jumpers. Rodney’s shuddering and rocking motion
to still, as the morphine took effect.
“Hey, buddy,” Sheppard said gently.
can move yet? We have a nice ride waiting outside for
Rodney looked up, his eyes still pinched with pain, but nodded
carefully. Although Carson had mentioned the hive tattoo on
Rodney’s face, it was more disturbing than John had thought
would be to see it in the flesh. However, he managed to hide
reaction beneath a grin.
“Good, let’s get out of here.”
“The hibernation chamber…you need to destroy his
experiments,” Rodney said, wincing at the sound of his own
voice. “Tried to create Wraith with the ATA
sure of his success, but need to…to destroy them.
“Okay,” Sheppard said.
“Let’s get you
safely aboard one of the jumpers first, and then I’ll deal
Carson and Sheppard helped him to stand. He swayed, groaned
loudly, but stood nonetheless. Supporting him, they moved out
the waiting jumpers.
Once Rodney and Carson were safely onboard, Sheppard, Teyla, Ronon and
a small team of marines, that had been guarding the two jumpers,
returned to the cruiser, placing explosives throughout the
Sheppard and Ronon made sure that the five hibernating young Wraith
were dead, before retreating back to the jumpers. Sheppard
remained in the back with Rodney and Carson, allowing Major Lorne to
fly them home.
Once they were all far enough away, they detonated the explosives,
destroying the Wraith ship. A jumper on recon had picked up
approaching hive ship on its sensors, which was now about an hour out,
so they didn’t have time to study or try to take control of
Wraith ship they’d found on the surface.
Fortunately, with the rescue going without a hitch, they were able to
return to Atlantis long before the hive ship arrived.
Chapter Two – Mending
that which Broke
– Once the jumpers have been parked up
Back on Atlantis, a med team entered the jumper, but McKay pulled away,
trying to hide his face.
“Easy now, lad,” Carson said, leaning in to hear
Rodney’s quiet plea.
“Don’t… I don’t want people to
see… not now…”
Carson gave a heavy sigh.
“Okay, Rodney. How about the Colonel and I help you
gurney, and then you can lie on your left hand side?”
McKay nodded his agreement, and Carson ordered everyone but Sheppard
out, until they got Rodney sorted.
“Sorry,” Rodney whispered.
I know. I just… I just don’t want people
Carson and Sheppard shared a look, and then the Colonel went out of the
jumper, to deal with an anxious Elizabeth, amongst other anxious
bystanders, whilst Carson and his med team took Rodney down to the
Once there, Carson cleared it of unnecessary personnel.
“Okay, Rodney, there’s just Ellen and myself here,
no one else.”
Ellen was one of Carson’s excellent nurses, and one who had
always been able to handle Rodney, even in his most difficult and
Rodney slowly uncurled, not looking at Ellen or Carson, but allowing
them to start taking his vitals.
“Are you still in pain?”
“Yeah… it’s like a burning…
mind,” Rodney was quiet, and subdued. Too subdued
“Okay, I’ll get you some more pain meds once
we’ve done a scan.”
“Can I…” Rodney paused, wincing against
pain. “I’d like to… get out of
clothes. Never liked them.”
“Aye, I can imagine. Ellen, love, could you get him
some scrubs? Then we’ll take him for a
Ellen nodded and left. Rodney removed the Wraith jacket, with
some help from Carson, as he was feeling very unsteady, and then the
shirt underneath it.
“Oh crap,” Carson said quietly, looking at the
scars on his friend’s chest. “It fed on
“I don’t want to talk about it, okay?
happened… but I’m okay, as you can see.
aged. Just… leave it, please.”
“Okay. But you’ll need to talk about it
“I know, just… not now.”
Rodney turned pleading eyes on him, and Carson looked away.
Rodney McKay he knew didn’t plead. He snapped, he
defensive and he clammed up, but he didn’t plead.
except that once, but that had been due to enzyme withdrawal.
Ellen returned with the scrubs at that point, and Carson busied himself
helping Rodney finish changing, and then went about getting a scan
sorted out. The sooner he knew about any physiological
the sooner he could treat any that appeared. As for his
friend’s psychological state… he feared that was
take a lot longer to fix.
– Elizabeth’s office - A little while later
Carson, Sheppard, Teyla, Ronon and Radek were with Elizabeth, ranged
around her office. Elizabeth had been briefed on the events
P2L-209, as well as everything Rodney had told Carson about the Wraith,
and what it had done to him.
“Any lasting physical effects we should be worried
about?” Elizabeth asked.
“No, not really. The pain he experienced when the
connection was broken is fading now, and I can’t find any
problems with that. He’s exhausted, both
physically, and, well, I never thought I’d hear myself say
about Rodney, but he could do with putting some pounds on.
Something he’s already made a good start on,”
slightly at that. “You should know he has some
scars on his
chest from a Wraith feeding. And no, I don’t know
happened, he doesn’t want to talk about it, but he
appear to have aged more than would be expected,” he shrugged
shoulders. “Maybe another Wraith did it, and this
it, I don’t know.”
“I could talk to him, if you think it would help,”
John offered, though clearly uncomfortable with the idea.
“You could try, but I wouldn’t push him.
He seems very… subdued.”
“Not like himself, you mean,” Sheppard interpreted.
“No, not like his normal self. It could be a side
from the psychic connection, or due to his captivity, I don’t
really know enough to be certain. Either way, I’ll
encouraging him to talk to Dr Heightmeyer. Who knows what
the lad’s been through this last year and not told us
Worried looks followed this comment. As if the psychic
connection had not been bad enough in itself.
“Is he up to visitors?” Elizabeth queried.
sure I’m not the only one anxious to see him.”
Carson sighed deeply.
“Well, the one thing he is being difficult about at the
with people seeing him. He was extremely grateful to get out
those Wraith clothes, but the tattoo… That’s
he’s going to have to live with, possibly for the rest of his
“Isn’t there a treatment for removing tattoos these
days, doc?” Sheppard asked.
“Aye, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Not
tattoos. The treatment isn’t perfect, and tends to
scars. Especially considering the area the tattoo
No, I’m afraid the tattoo is something he’s going
to live with. And I can tell you now, it’s not
going to be
easy. I think he’s afraid of how people are going
to it,” he sighed again. “And probably
“People will get used to it,” Ronon pointed out.
“True, but people are bound to stare or be uncomfortable with
at first. It’s only human nature to do
so. As it is,
I’ve placed him in a side room and restricted access to him,
that he can rest.”
“He can’t hide forever,” Elizabeth said.
“No, and he knows that. I think he just needs some
time. He’s having to adjust to being back here, as
the fact that he safe from that Wraith. He was alone for a
Elizabeth, alone and trapped. It’s going to take
get used to being around people again.”
“Okay. Hopefully he’ll agree to see Kate,
and maybe she can help him with this.”
“We will give him the time he needs,” Teyla said,
to her team-mates for agreement, and receiving it from Radek and Ronon.
“I’ve already seen him and the tattoo,
“Aye, I know, Colonel. I’ve already left
with my staff to let you visit. I’m hoping you can
him to let others visit as well.”
“I’ll do my best.”
The meeting came to an end shortly after that, with both Carson and
Sheppard headed to the infirmary.
– Infirmary – Forty minutes later
Sheppard was sitting by McKay’s bed, playing solitaire on a
tablet and waiting for him to wake up. He had to admit, McKay
looked better in scrubs than in the Wraith clothing… the
look not really working for the Canadian.
The tattoo... well, it might take a while to get used to it, but he
would. They all would, including McKay himself,
He was just glad McKay was alive and back where he belonged; on
He had just lost the card game again, when he heard a muttering from
the bed next to him, and turned to watch his friend. McKay
restless, and as Sheppard watched him, he started to twist and turn,
distress on his face. Held in the grip of a nightmare, he
at the blankets, trying to free himself of them, but in fact tangling
Sheppard leaned over, gently taking McKay by the shoulders.
“Easy there. You need to wake up now.”
Rodney’s eyes flew open and he cried out, pushing away from
person standing over him. Sheppard pulled back quickly.
“Hey, it’s okay. It’s only
Rodney’s eyes flicked back to him, and John relaxed as he saw
recognition dawning. McKay’s harsh breathing
“Bad dream?” Sheppard asked him.
“Yeah,” the pale scientist whispered, before
himself up into a sitting position. John stuffed a couple of
extra pillows behind McKay, so that he could lean back, which he did
“Want to talk about it?”
“Thought not,” John shrugged, settling back into
his seat. “Bet it was about that Wraith.”
Rodney closed his eyes for a moment, before sighing heavily, but
“I’ve decided to call him Jim, hope you
mind. Too much of a mouthful to say ‘that Wraith
captured McKay’ all the time. Thought I’d
you know,” Sheppard continued, getting a snort of wry
from McKay as his reward.
“I called him Dave, in pure Sheppard-esque style.
You’re a bad influence on me,” Rodney admitted
“Dave it is, then. And I’m a wonderful
influence on you.”
“Oh sure,” but the normal sarcasm was half-hearted
“Must be good to be back?”
“Yes,” he replied almost inaudibly.
Sheppard sighed. He wasn’t good at talking about
and such, but he’d hoped McKay might open up to him a
He’d found that acting as a sounding board, with the
comment here and there, was often a good way to get his stubborn friend
to work this sort of thing out.
“You’re not making this easy,” John said
“McKay!” he ground the name out, frustration
getting the better of him briefly.
“You’re not,” John shrugged.
“Maybe you’ll talk to Heightmeyer.”
Rodney wrapped his arms around himself, suddenly looking vulnerable and
small. It hurt, seeing McKay like this.
“You’re not alone anymore, Rodney.”
“I know…and it’s harder than I
thought. I keep…” he didn’t
finish the sentence.
“What, Rodney? You keep what?”
“I keep expecting to feel his presence in my mind
know he’s dead, crap, I felt it. It hurt enough,
it. So I know he’s dead, but I keep thinking
going to invade my mind again. Stupid, I know, but I
“S’Okay. You’re bound to be
jumpy for a
while. He tortured you, Rodney. Mental torture, and
ways that’s the worse kind. It’ll take a
the fear will fade. He can’t hurt you
“I know. I just want it over, now,”
his arms from around himself, and started to pick at the blanket, his
hands shaking. “I was dreaming
of…” again, he
couldn’t seem to finish the sentence, leaving it to John to
“He fed on me. Took maybe twenty, thirty years, and
left me like that, for hours. I thought… I thought
going to leave me like that, but he didn’t. Did
gift of life thing,” he rubbed a hand over his face, before
returning to picking at the blanket, keeping his eyes down.
“He did it to me again… three times, in
think… I think he was exerting his… dominance
me. That he could take or give life, my life, whenever he
“I’m sorry. Sorry you had to experience
“Yeah,” a small smile touched his lips briefly,
fading. “I saw him feed on others.
He’d go to a
planet, grab a few people, and then I’d get to see him feed
them, one by one. He fed once or twice a month… I
fifteen people die that way… he made me watch,”
Rodney’s eyes were full of the pain it had caused
“And they all looked at me with hatred. They
thought… I’m not sure what they thought.
That I was
a Wraith worshipper or sympathiser or…something.
hated me,” he paused briefly. “I’m scared
will. He marked me.”
“No one here will hate you, Rodney. If there had
been a way
for you to save those people, I know you would have taken it, but you
couldn’t risk it. He would have alerted the Wraith
Earth’s location, to the fact Atlantis remained.
that mind thing of his, you didn’t stand much chance of
“That ‘mind thing’.
I’ve always thought I
have the best mind in two galaxies, but to feel the invasion, to not be
able to use the one thing…the one thing that I’ve
myself on, to have that taken away. All my intelligence did
absolutely nothing for me. I should have been able to help
people. I should have been able to get away, I had access to
ship’s systems. But that ‘mind
thing’ took that
all away from me. I should have been able to do something.”
“No one here blames you.”
“I don’t want pity, either.”
“You won’t get that, not from the people that
Just… friendship and… and…
John leaned forward. “It would help if
people visit. I know Teyla, Ronon, Radek and Elizabeth all
to see you, and I don’t believe a Wraith tattoo is going to
effect them. They’ve been worried about you, and
see for themselves how you’re doing.”
“I can’t… not yet. Please,
I… don’t think I can handle them. Not
“Okay,” Sheppard said with another sigh.
“Okay, not yet. I won’t push
“Yes you will. Crap, isn’t that what
you’ve been doing since I woke up?”
“Well, maybe a little,” John replied, unrepentantly.
“You’re a pain,” Rodney huffed.
“Takes one to know one.”
“Oh, very mature.”
But John saw the tentative smile on McKay’s face, and started
relax. Yes, McKay was struggling, as evidenced by the
need to talk, but he’d get through this, somehow.
– Infirmary – Two days later
“Elizabeth, I was just about to contact you,”
as Elizabeth entered the infirmary. “I’m
heard about Ronon’s little visit to Rodney this
“Yes, I gather his patience ran out and he barged his way
in,” Elizabeth said. “But that Rodney
throw him out.”
“Aye. I don’t know what the lad said to
he even asked me to let Teyla know she could visit if she
As if she wouldn’t,” Carson shook his head, and
smiled. “She was down here within
“That’s a good sign, then.”
“It is. Though I had to chuck them out after an
so. He still tires easily. And then Radek visited
afternoon, making it clear he expected Rodney to take his old job back,
the sooner the better. And then they argued for a good half
about some theory or other,” he shook his head at the memory.
“Sounds like Rodney’s feeling better. Do
you think he’d see me?”
“That’s why I was about to call you. I
lie, Elizabeth, he is better than the last couple of days, but
he’s still…feeling vulnerable. However,
he’s realised he can’t put off seeing people
I’ll let him know you’re here.”
A few moments later, and Elizabeth was entering the room Rodney had
taken over, to see him sitting with a PC tablet on his lap, busy
typing. The sight brought a smile to her face; it was just so
Rodney. And then he looked up, and although she had been
expecting it, the tattoo caused her to pause for a moment, and she knew
he had noticed her hesitation. He looked away quickly, and
cursed herself silently for reacting.
“Hey, Rodney, you’re looking good,” she
said, trying to ignore the fact he looked thin and far too pale.
“No, I’m not, but thanks for the try,” he
said without bite, looking her in the eyes again.
“Okay,” she said wryly.
“I’ve been told
my bedside manner sucks. No point in trying to deny
are you feeling?”
“Alive. Free. It’s a
start. I’ve agreed to see Heightmeyer.”
“Does this…” he paused, pointing to the
tattoo. “Does it bother you?”
Elizabeth’s first instinct was to say no, but she had a
he’d know she wasn’t being entirely truthful, and
deserved for her to be honest with him.
“Not bother, as such. It’s
just,” she sighed,
gathering her thoughts. “It’s strange, to
with it. But I’ll get used to it, as will everyone
“That’s honest, at least.”
“I will get used to it,” she repeated.
“Not sure I will, but hopefully I’ll learn to live
it. Ronon,” he snorted. “Ronon,
the big lug
that he is, told me to get over it. That there were worse
that could happen, and I should be grateful to be free.”
“I wondered what he had said.”
“Huh. He also told me to stop pushing away the
have been worried about me, to stop being selfish and wallowing in self
pity. Well, not in those exact words, but that was the gist
it. He’s right, you know. I need to deal
with all of
this, it’s just…” he sighed, rubbing a
his hair. “I don’t know, it’s
I know what I need to do, but all I can think of is how people are
going to react to this,” he pointed to the tattoo
“It’s stupid, but I can’t seem to get
“It will get easier,” Elizabeth said gently,
realising just how fragile Rodney was.
“Maybe. But all I see are obstacles. I
off world easily now, certainly not on a first contact team.
lot of people in this galaxy would take one look at the Wraith tattoo
and instantly distrust us, me in particular. Maybe I can go
world once friendly relations have been made, but even then there could
be problems. Not to mention that I can’t go back to
“Why not?” Elizabeth was puzzled.
“Because I don’t think I could cope with strangers
at me like I’m some kind of weirdo. Some freak who
tattooing his face would be a good idea. Or the people
who’d ask stupid questions, like, is it some new age thing,
tribal tattoo, or some other rubbish like that,” he
grimaced. “Which is doubly irritating as
cared what anyone, certainly not strangers, thought of me
“I’m sure it won’t be that bad.”
“And I’m sure it will be. Elizabeth, what
think about some stranger who, for instance, got a seat next to you on
an airplane, looking like me? If you didn’t know
didn’t know what this was?” he asked her earnestly.
“I…” she closed her eyes for a moment,
nodded. “Okay, I see your point. As for
the off world
thing, I’ll talk to John, see what we can do about
whatever the outcome, your job as Chief Scientist is still here for
you,” she grinned. “Radek will be relieved to hand
reins back to you, the sooner the better probably. He never
wanted the job in the first place really, but I persuaded him into
it. Of course, Dr Simpson and Dr Kusanagi have taken over
the job. Seems it takes more than one person to fill your
“Of course it does,” he said with a trace of the
ego, and Elizabeth found herself smiling even more. He was
there, the Rodney they all knew and loved, just hidden.
“There’s a couple more things I’d like to
talk to you
about,” Elizabeth started. “One is about
people to get used to your new look, and therefore hopefully making
things easier for yourself as well. I was thinking, maybe a
photograph, to be distributed to everyone here? Give people
to adjust, so that you don’t have to deal with
initial reactions, like mine.”
“Yours wasn’t so bad.”
“True, but I’m still sorry about it.”
“You think it would help?” he asked.
“I do. Look, people here are glad that
and that you’re alive and reasonably well. The
is…strange, yes, but no one’s going to make an
it, and eventually people won’t even notice it.
help speed that process up for you.”
“Okay,” he agreed hesitantly.
“We’ll try it.”
“Good. I’ll get Radek to take a photo and
distributed. Now the second thing is more personal.
wants to see you. I’ve made arrangements for her to
“Tomorrow?” he asked, looking anxious.
“Yes, but if you want me to ask her to wait, I
“No, no, it’s okay. I’ll see
her. Just, how much does she know?”
“That you’re alive, nothing else as yet.”
“Could you brief her, warn her about my new look?
Maybe show her that photo?”
“Good. That’s good. Thank
A call came over Elizabeth’s radio for her.
“Okay, I’ll be there in a few minutes,”
she said into
her comm, and then turned her attention back to Rodney.
“Duty calls. I’ll see you in a
Rodney nodded, and returned to his typing as Elizabeth headed to her
office to deal with a minor staff problem.
Three – Still Gluing the Pieces Together
– Rodney’s quarters – that evening
“So, you never reassigned my quarters?” Rodney
asked Sheppard, as he entered his old room.
“No. Packed up your stuff, put it in storage
but Elizabeth never got round to reassigning them,” Sheppard
shrugged nonchalantly. There was no way he was admitting to
part in this. Packing McKay’s stuff had been hard
and could be explained away as keeping it safe. But somehow
reassigning his quarters had been a step too far for
And no one had complained when they had been left empty, even though
they were in a prime spot for the labs.
“We unpacked some of your things for you, but left most of it
you to do. Hope that’s okay.
Didn’t want you
complaining if we put things back in the wrong places,” John
Rodney ignored Sheppard’s comment, too busy reacquainting
with the room, and his things. The diplomas and other things
had been on his wall were still packed, but that was okay. It
wouldn’t take long to re-hang them later. He picked
two framed cat photos, putting the one of Sasha by his bed, and the one
of Alfred on his desk.
“So, which one is the one you left with your neighbour before
coming here?” Sheppard asked, looking at the
“And who’s the other one?”
Rodney picked up the photo of a long haired cat.
“This one is Sasha. A few weeks after arriving in
she strolled into my place as if she owned it, and me. What
I do? Kick her out into the cold Russian night to
“Of course not,” John agreed, smirking at his
friend’s ‘excuse’ for keeping
“What happened to her? Did you leave her behind
were recalled to the US?”
“No,” Rodney sighed. “I only
had her for a year. Died of feline leukaemia.”
“Yeah,” Rodney pointed to the tabby cat photo on
“That one is Alfred, who is lucky enough to reside with a
stunning brunette these days. For a cat, he was a bit of a
if you know what I mean,” Rodney smirked, seeming more
than John had seen him since being rescued. “Good
job I had
him neutered. Can’t image the number of paternity
“Ouch, taking his manhood. That’s not
John said and then grinned. “Just because he got
action than his owner, I bet.”
“Maybe you could persuade Elizabeth to let you have a cat
here,” John said, ignoring Rodney’s indignant
his previous statement.
“Oh yeah, I can so see that happening,” Rodney
rolled his eyes.
“Oh, I don’t know, right now she’s so
relieved to get you back, she might let you.”
“Uh, uh, and so what should I expect to get from you whilst
you’re ‘so relieved at getting me
Rodney tilted his head slightly, thinking it over.
not-so-secret stash of popcorn, candy and beer?”
“I thought you’d say that.”
“So, no cat?”
“I wouldn’t want to bring one out here
might have escaped your notice, but Atlantis isn’t the safest
place in this universe. Besides, could you imagine the
cat could do if it got loose and decided to investigate the ten
thousand year old conduits?”
“True,” John agreed, looking at his
“I’d better get going, I have a session with Teyla
sticks and I wouldn’t want to upset her by being
“Of course not. You wouldn’t want her to
her. She’d just kick your butt more than she
“Thanks,” John said dryly, letting himself
“For that I’m tempted to set you up with some hand
combat training with her.”
“Beckett wouldn’t let you…what was it he
Ah, yes, food and rest. Nothing about getting beaten up by
John rolled his eyes, secretly glad at McKay’s more normal
“See you later.”
“Bring food,” Rodney said to his retreating
back. John just waved causally without looking back.
– Rodney’s quarters – The next day;
Rodney was in his quarters, looking out of the window at the ocean,
when the door chimed. He didn’t move, worry about
sister’s reaction to him freezing him in place. Not
mattered, the door opened anyway, thanks to Sheppard and his damn gene.
“Hey,” Sheppard came to stand beside him.
“Yeah. Don’t worry, she won’t
said with a grin, patting Rodney on the arm.
leave you both alone.”
He heard Sheppard leave, and a short murmured conversation outside his
door was followed by someone else entering his room, the door closing
Arms turned him around gently, and then he was enveloped in a fierce
hug, which he found himself returning, tears threatening him.
“I missed you,” Jeannie said quietly, voice tight
emotion. “I’ve been so worried.
I’d never see you again…I was afraid you were
“It’s okay, I’m here,” he
“I…I missed you too. I’m
Jeannie pulled back from the hug to look at him, moving a hand up to
trace the tattoo. He flinched back at first, but then stilled.
“It’s not so bad,” Jeannie said with a
sad smile. “Not so bad at all.”
Rodney relaxed, cursing himself for a fool to think she’d
“I’m sorry I missed Christmas,” he said,
attempting to rein his emotions in.
“I’ll let you off, this time. But
to see you this Christmas,” she said with determination.
“I don’t know about that…”
“Yes, Elizabeth said about not wanting to be seen by people,
so I’ve been thinking…”
“Always a scary thought,” he said with a small
“Pain,” she said, slapping him on the
grimaced, more for show than in actual pain. “Caleb
will hire a place in Colorado, somewhere nice and secluded, and then
one of us will pick you up from Cheyenne. That way, no
staring at you or anything. As for Madison, we’ll
you got stranded with a tribe somewhere and the tattoo came from
that. It’s not so far from the truth, after
“You’d do that for me?” he asked, clearly
surprised, and touched.
“Of course,” she rolled her eyes at him in
exasperation. “You’re my
“Okay, that…that sounds good.
You’re sure Madison won’t be freaked
“She’ll be fine, don’t worry.
She’ll be too busy with the twins, anyway.”
“Twins? What twins?” Rodney said in
surprise, and some consternation.
“The twins I’m pregnant with…or did you
I’d just been overeating?” Jeannie quirked an
him, and he stood back, taking a good look at his sister, and then
“I didn’t notice. How could I not
notice? You’re huge.”
“Thanks,” she huffed in mock outrage, and he had
decency to look sheepish. “That’s what
you’re six months pregnant with twins, duh!”
“I thought something seemed different about the
I was too…tense to notice what,” he shook his head
himself. “I suppose I should offer congratulations.”
“Yes, you should.”
“I just did,” and then it sunk in.
babies, two of them! Maybe I should skip this Christmas as
Jeannie laughed at his horrified expression.
“Oh no you won’t,” she said sternly
again. “I promise not to make you change any
anything like that.”
“Ugh. You wouldn’t get me near any smelly
with a barge pole,” he suddenly looked concerned.
“Should you be travelling? And do you need to sit
crap, you’re not going to give birth whilst you’re
are you? Maybe you shouldn’t have
“Mer, relax. Yes, I’m fine to travel so
long as I
take it easy, and with the beaming technology onboard the Odyssey, I
didn’t even need to travel to the SGC anyway. Yes,
down sounds good, and no I’m not about to give birth, and
course I should have come.”
“Oh, okay,” he said, leading her to a chair, and
down himself opposite her. “So, what have you been
“Being a mom, mainly,” Jeannie smiled.
I’ve also been reading science journals and some books as
well. Colonel Carter sent me a few things she thought
be interested in reading… nothing classified, of
“Yes. When you went missing, she came in person to
herself. She thought it would be better from someone I had
than from a stranger. Anyway, we kept in touch after
“That was good of her. She didn’t have to
“I’m glad she did. John came to see me a
your disappearance as well. Talked to Caleb and me about what
happened. I think he was feeling guilty, not that there was
anything he could have done. You have a good friend there,
“Don’t go telling him that,” he said with
a small smirk.
“Men,” she said with a roll of her eyes.
tough and macho to admit to being friends. Well, maybe not so
tough and macho on your side.”
“Oh, thanks,” he huffed.
“Pleasure,” she grinned.
Just then, McKay’s headset chirped on his desk.
“I’d better get that,” he sighed, getting
putting his ear piece in, activating the comm.
here. This had better be important,” he said in an
“Well, I was
on the balcony,
you know the one I mean, and spotted your old whale friend.
Thought you might want to show Jeannie,” came
the nonchalant voice of Sheppard.
“Oh. Not sure I’m up to
“Oh come on,
can’t hide in your room forever. Anyway, the
mostly be empty of people at this time of the day, so just get on up
“Um…” he sighed again, having a feeling
Sheppard might just come down and drag him up there, probably with
Jeannie’s help at that. “Okay,
up,” he said, signing off, and looking back at
“You up for a short walk?”
“Well,” he said, ushering his sister out into the
corridor. “Have I ever told you about the time I
trapped in the back of a sinking puddle jumper? There was
whale, well, technically it’s a fish, not a mammal, but it
and acts like a whale. Anyway, it helped them, Sheppard and
Zelenka that is, to find me...”
Over the following weeks, Rodney regained much of his old confidence,
to the relief of his friends, though there were still times when there
was a haunted look his eyes that still worried them. He
to his job as Chief of Science, but Radek remained on
team for the time being. Although Rodney was getting used, as
much as he ever could, to the tattoo, the danger of alienating
potential allies still remained. His fear of being accused of
being a Wraith worshipper or worse was a valid one, and not one they
were going to get past very easily, if at all.
And then, three months after returning to Atlantis, McKay ran foul of
an ascension machine, and they nearly lost him. Permanently
time. Of course, when he realised that he had the ability to
heal, he removed all of the scars from his own body that he’d
collected over his time in the Pegasus Galaxy, and managed to remove
the tattoo as well. Something he would have celebrated, if he
hadn’t been dying, of course.
Fortunately, he’d survived his run in with the machine, and
the tattoo gone, was persuaded to rejoin his team, something Radek met
with an audible sigh of relief.
The first outing with the newly reformed team was to investigate tales
of a superhero. It sounded unbelievable, but also too
useful to ignore. Carson insisted on joining them, concerned
about how Rodney would react to his first off world mission since being
rescued, not at all convinced that his friend was recovering as well as
Rodney tried to make out. Besides, he wanted to be on hand to
check out said superhero if his exploits weren’t just the
of exaggeration. The chance to study someone with superpowers
could prove invaluable in the future, and he had to admit to a small
worry in the back of his mind that the powers attributed to this person
could be related to the Wraith enzyme.
Of course, the mission didn’t turn out as easy as expected,
led them to an annoying ‘acquaintance’, and a
In other words, back to normal…
1) Wraith tattoos: in Allies,
the Wraith tattoo is above the left eye, but in Common Ground, it is on
the cheek just below the left eye, and some Wraith don’t have
at all. I chose to place Rodney’s tattoo on his
as I feel that is the more prominent and therefore most distressing
place for it to be located for him (bad person that I am
<g>). I’m not sure where I picked up
the idea of the
tattoos being hive tattoos, but I’m positive that
it somewhere and can’t claim it as an original idea!
2) In ‘Letters from
Pegasus’, McKay refers to his cat as a
I’m assuming he means the tabby cat he leaves with his
in ‘Rising’. However, in
‘Duet’, there is
a photo of a long haired cat by his bed. This is probably a
continuity error, but hey, maybe he had two cats in his life?
Anyway, the fun thing about fanfic is that you can explain these things
if you want! Also, I chose the name Alfred, as it is the name
Batman’s butler and we know McKay likes Batman (!), but
Wayne and Robin all seemed a little bit too obvious for my liking.
3) Yes, I have altered the episode
order after ‘Echoes’, it now goes:
then the long gap as detailed in this story, followed ‘Tao of
Rodney McKay’, ‘Irresponsible’, and then
back to the
normal running order.
4) I have to admit that I was puzzled
in ‘Irresponsible’ how Carson’s presence
on the team
isn’t explained, as occurs in all other episodes where he
off world. Not that it matters particularly, but I thought
I’d offer an explanation that could fit outside of my AU, as
as the one that is specific to my AU. There are probably
other possible reasons out there, but I’ll leave those to