In order to maximize everyone's enjoyment, (and my fan mail) I'll be posting one fat (usually two part) chapter every two days. This first one is a little on the short side, so think of it as the teaser.
Hope this brings a pleasant start to everyone's New Year,
Title: Touch of a Lonely City
Author: Taylor Dancinghands -
Characters: Rodney McKay/Radek Zelenka
Category: slash, established relationship, angst
Rating: 'PG-17' in a couple of chapters, but not most of them
Spoilers: season two-ish?
Archive: Generally yes, but please let me know where
Summary: Rodney thought Atlantis was safe, and so did Radek. Now Rodney has discovered just how not safe and Radek is his only hope.
Beta: Thanx to scifinut, for invaluable perspective, occasional reality checks, and extreaneous space preventative.
Author's notes: This would then be number 3 in "The Angsty & Amorous Adventures of Rodney & Radek" (you *may* want to read the prequels: "Discorporate" and "In Extremis") and will officially steer the series into an AU.
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, never will, not claiming to. Just wanna play with 'em a little. Can't I, can't I, huh?
Touch of a Lonely City
By Taylor Dancinghands
Chapter 1 - Too Much Information
Radek Zelenka knew that these words, when uttered by Dr. Rodney McKay, might herald something as trivial as a paper cut, or as ominous as imminent city or galaxy wide cataclysm. What ever it was though, it likely bore further investigation, and so Radek turned away from the open access panel he’d been studying to see what Rodney was on about.
The two of them, along with Drs. Simpson and Chen, had come to this curious little vestibule at the far end of the North Pier after some of the Marines had discovered it a few days ago and recommended as being worthy of attention. It was the large plaque or panel in the center of the south wall that attracted the most attention, but there were several less obvious features of the space which Radek found quite curious as well. The fundamental design of the room seemed slightly different from that of the rest of Atlantis, and Radek was convinced that understanding the reason for this difference was critical to understanding the purpose of the plaque. Radek was also sure that there was some significance to the fact that the largest doors in the room, opposite the plaque, opened out onto a wide open deck at the tip of the city’s northern arm. The large, clear paneled double doors had the look of a formal entryway to him, but no one else seemed to find this of significance.
At the moment, Radek and the other three scientists were applying themselves to what they'd all come to refer to as the ‘greeting plaque’, as it bore the recessed imprint of a human seeming hand in the center, thumb and fingers spread out, as if in greeting. Markings on either side of the hand print appeared to be some kind of binary code, which Simpson and Chen were working on, while he and Rodney were working on figuring out the reason for the odd power readings emanating from behind the plaque.
Radek really hadn’t thought it would actually be necessary to tell anyone not to place their hand into the depression at the center of the plaque, but he had not accounted for Rodney McKay’s insatiable and occasionally less than sensible curiosity. Looking over to discern the reason for Rodney’s outburst, Radek saw the man examining the palm of his open hand with a pained expression, and knew with dismay just what he’d done. Seeing the bright droplet of blood seeping from the small wound in the center of Rodney’s hand had the hairs on the back of Radek’s neck lifting with dread. This could not be good.
Radek was radioing Dr. Beckett and the infirmary even before he reached Rodney’s side, leading him away from the panel and over to where the light shone in through the transparent doors to get a better look at his injury.
“It bit me!” Rodney exclaimed with outrage, as Radek daubed at what appeared to be a small puncture wound in the center of Rodney’s palm with the handkerchief he always kept in his pocket.
“And you are surprised about this why?” Radek masked his concerned with the plentiful annoyance he also felt.
“This isn’t some unknown alien base; this is Atlantis!” Rodney complained stridently. “We’ve never found booby traps here before. Never!”
“Yes,” said Radek crossly, rolling his eyes as he pressed his hanky into Rodney’s hand, “in fourteen percent of the city we have thoroughly explored we have found no booby-traps. How anyone could imagine that remaining eighty-six percent might hold surprises, I do not know.” Radek waited for Rodney’s doubtless biting rejoinder but was answered instead with silence. Glancing back at Rodney with growing concern, Radek saw that the man’s eyes were opened wide as they darted about the room with alarm.
“Radek, why are there six of you?” Rodney asked with growing alarm.
“I promise you that I am and an entirely unique phenomenon,” Radek answered, feeling his heart in his throat and trying not to let it show.
“Not six of you…” Rodney answered, “six… views. I’m seeing it six views… of the whole room. I can see me. Why can I see me?”
“Rodney?!” It was becoming increasingly difficult for Radek to keep the distress from showing in his voice. Rodney was not even trying.
“Oh my god, it’s in my head!” he cried.
“What is? Rodney, tell me what is going on!” Radek implored
“Of course power levels are low!” Rodney yelled suddenly. "We're short about four ZedPMs and… Wait, why are you telling me about the inertial dampeners?"
"What?" Radek struggled to hold panic at bay. "Rodney, you're not making sense. Who is speaking of inertial dampeners?"
"The thing in my head!" Rodney was panicking, grabbing at Radek as he tried to steady him. Simpson and Chen had, by now, stopped what they were doing to look over at the commotion. "It won't shut up!" Rodney cried desperately. "Get it out!"
"Carson is coming," Radek attempted to assure him, leading Rodney over to one of the benches set against the wall near the front door. "He will be here soon. You must try to stay calm."
"I know Carson is coming!" Rodney resisted being sat for a moment, then collapsed next to Radek on the bench. "I can see him! He's just stepping out of the eighth floor transporter, in section 'F' of the north pier. I can see every single fucking transporter in the whole fucking city… except the three in the south east pier that are off line… and the two in the far tower on the south pier… oh god, it won't stop! God help me, Radek, I can't make it stop!!!"
Radek did not know when he had seen Rodney so frightened, and he was plenty frightened himself. Part of him was furious with his lover for taking such foolish risks as well, but even so, it was impossible not to take the terrified man beside him into his arms and hold him close until Dr. Beckett arrived. His and Rodney's relationship had been more or less an open secret among the science staffs from the very beginning, and a number of the 'old-timers' among the military knew as well. The unique bonding experience of that first year of life on Atlantis had left the survivors much less likely to pass judgment on how and with whom their fellow survivors took their comfort. Certainly the better portion of the science personnel had never cared.
By the time Dr. Beckett appeared on the scene, Rodney was twitching and muttering in Radek's arms, his face buried in the engineer's shoulder, the fist of his uninjured hand clutching at his lab coat. Radek did his best to explain what had happened, as Carson looked at Rodney's hand and checked his pulse and blood pressure.
"Well, there seems little doubt that we're looking at some kind of intentional infection," Carson said, as he and Radek and a couple of Carson's assistants got Rodney unlatched from Radek and loaded onto a gurney. "We'll have a look at his blood and whatnot when we get him to the infirmary. And since we are looking at the possibility of contagion, even though it's almost certainly blood born, I'll want the lot of you to come with me straight to the infirmary to be tested as well."
Radek had no objections to this, being determined to follow Rodney in any event, and none of the other scientists raised any objection either. "Go with him," Simpson instructed Radek as Carson and his lover headed out. "The two of us can pack up. There's not much."
Radek thanked her, taking her hand briefly in gratitude, before following after his heart to the infirmary.
"The contagion must be technological in nature," Radek was saying, probably not for the first time, as he restlessly paced the confines of Carson Beckett's personal lab. "He appeared to be interfacing in real time with monitors and other city systems... I cannot think of any other explanation."
"Aye, it may be you're right," said Carson, also probably not for the first time, "and we'll know for sure in a few minutes, but not if you don't bloody settle down and stop interrupting me!"
"Sorry, sorry," Radek stopped himself, combing his fingers through his already disordered hair in anxiety. "I just... I worry..."
"I do understand, man," Carson spoke gently, "and it's likely true that Rodney'll need you to play a part in getting him out of this, but now you need to let me do my part, and I need some peace and quiet to do it in."
Radek sighed, removing his glasses for a moment to rub at his eyes. "Perhaps I will go sit with him for a while," he said.
"There you go," Carson approved. "There's no harm in that. I'll be done here in only a few minutes and if you're right then I'll be out to tell you first thing."
Rodney was sedated, dressed in scrubs and ensconced in a bed in a semi secluded corner of the infirmary, a single IV keeping his blood sugars where they ought to be. Radek sat in the chair beside Rodney's bed and took one of the restless, twitching hands into his own. Even under heavy sedation, Rodney McKay stirred and muttered, head moving from side to side as he spoke.
"Power levels... ," Radek thought he heard Rodney say as he stroked his hand tenderly, "Ventilation systems... south east pier, zone twelve, obstructed duct,... Desalinization tank number two, diode failure,..."
"What have you gotten yourself into now, milacku?" Radek asked with quiet despair.
Radek Zelenka had reflected many times before on how foolish it was to fall in love someplace as patently dangerous as this Ancient city in an alien galaxy, and yet how could one endure such a place, such astonishing and terrifying circumstances without love? How, without love, could he have endured his accidental, conscious incarceration in a wraith dart? How, without love, could he have dared descending into the ocean in a puddle jumper, or rescued Rodney from torturers or himself from the traumas of that rescue? And how, without this city, her mysteries and her terrors, would Radek have found such a love as he had in Rodney McKay? Most days there was no question in Radek's mind as to whether it had all been worth it, but there were moments -moments like this- when he found himself watching his love suffering and frightened, when he knew doubts and wondered if he might come, some day, to have regrets.
Well, we're in the soup now, aren't we? But what kind of soup, and who's cooked it up?
On to Chapter 2!