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Title: Well Chosen
Author: goddess47
Recipient: aqualegia
Rating: NC 17
Warnings/Spoilers: All of Season 5
Pairing: McKay/Sheppard
Length: 18,000 words (meep!)
Summary: "I chose you."

Note: For aqualegia who asked for "John/Rodney. Must have happy ending and prefer both John and Rodney using their brains. Plot (not PWP). Mission fic, Team genfic." Hope this fits, thanks for a great prompt!

Many thanks to mezzo_cammin for filling in as beta! You made it a better story!

Dedicated to Fenny, the kitty who could.


"If you’re not too busy," Rodney looked up over his breakfast, "I have something I'd like to work on today and I could use some help."

John pretended to debate for a moment and shrugged, "Sure, I suppose I can fit you into my busy schedule."

Rodney gave him a wry grin, both of them aware that while the city was floating in San Francisco Bay there really wasn't anything serious going on. They had their mission reports up to date, all of the various visiting dignitaries -- nosey busy-bodies Rodney had snorted at one point – had left and now they were just waiting for the IOA to make a decision about the fate of Atlantis.

It had come as something of a shock when they had realized that Richard Woolsey was fighting for the return of the city to Pegasus. With the Ori under control in the Milky Way, the Wraith in Pegasus were the biggest threat in either galaxy. Woolsey was doing what he could to get them home.

"Come down when you can, then," Rodney agreed.

John finished a breakfast of real eggs, bacon from a pig and fresh bagels – he'd have to up the running with Ronon at this rate – and wandered off to his office. The boring 'nothing happened' reports from Major Teldy who had taken the overnight watch were there, a couple of leave requests that he granted, and his work was done. The Navy was keeping the bay clear of visitors, and John only had to worry about the city itself. With only a skeleton crew at the moment, it didn't leave much for him to do.

Wandering down to the labs, John noted the absence of most of the scientists. A number of them had also taken advantage of the chance to visit home and family, also.

"So, what've you got?" John asked Rodney, who was looking at a bank of computer screens in front of him.

"Remember when I almost ascended?" Rodney asked. "And I wrote that new math piece?"

John nodded. He remembered it too well. That and all the other times that he – they, he had to keep thinking they – had almost lost Rodney. That time it was Rodney's own last-minute miracle that had saved his life.

"Well, now that it's been quiet and I've had some time to look at it again, I tried running some pieces of that through Atlantis' database," Rodney explained.

"Kind of a Google search?" John asked.

Rodney shot him a glance, "No. Well, okay, kind of. It's much more sophisticated than that. The search algorithm alone took me a week to refine and then putting in the equations took another couple of days."

"What did you find?" John asked.

"Surprisingly, I already have over a thousand hits and it’s still searching the database," Rodney grinned. "Some of it is obviously multiple hits of the same reference, but quite a few of them look viable."

"So what do you need me for?" John asked.

"A couple of the more interesting references lead to other labs that I'd like to go and explore," Rodney elaborated. "Couple of them are in damaged parts of the city."

"Our old buddy Janus have anything to do with any of these?" John asked, suspicious. They'd had nothing but bad luck with most of Janus' work, and he didn't want to go looking for trouble.

"No, no, no," Rodney replied quickly. Then hesitated, "Well, I don't think so. This doesn't look like his work. It's completely different."

"Okay, show me where you'd like to go," John allowed. "Tell me what you'd like to try first and we'll go from there."

Rodney pulled up a map of the city on the large screen. "Unfortunately, some of the best-looking options don't exist. We lost some of them in the asteroid belt. But there are a couple of labs here," he highlighted them on the screen, "that I'd like to try."

John moved closer to the screen to see the highlighted sections. He frowned. "Parts of this may be underwater," he warned Rodney.

"Yeah," Rodney sighed. "But, well, I'd like to try it."

"Tell me more," John asked. "So I know what kind of help we'll need."

"I was kind of hoping to just have Ronon and Teyla go with us," Rodney suggested. "If we need more help than that, we can make another trip. They could use something to do, and this is something useful."

"Useful to you," John teased.

Rodney shook his head. "I hope it's more than that. I'm curious about whatever this is. I'm just hoping it's something useful. "

"Tell me what you think we'll find so we know what to take," John countered, hoping to draw Rodney out and get more information. "We're not going out there empty-handed. We've lived here too long to do that."

"The transporters really only get us half-way," Rodney answered. "So, there's a good walk, and it looks like it's down a couple of levels, so plenty of hiking to make it a workout."

"And then once we get there, you won't want to leave," John added, but smiled to take any sting out of it. "So, we'll be sure to take some food and water along. Show me how you figured this much out."

"You really want to know?" Rodney laughed. "Your geekiness is showing."

"There's no one to notice," John countered, "and it tells me more of what we're getting into."

Delighted to have an even semi-interested audience, Rodney launched into a description of what he had done and some of the results he had found. John didn't understand all of it, but he followed as best he could and got in a couple of questions that made Rodney stop and think before he rushed on.

When the lights in the lab came on, John looked up, "Okay, time for dinner. I have to check in with Security and see if there's anything from Woolsey."

"I'll meet you for dinner?" Rodney asked.

Without thinking, John said, "Thought you'd be calling Jennifer." She had taken some time to visit colleagues on the East Coast and being three time zones over meant calling about local dinnertime to reach her in the early evening.

Rodney winced. "Ummm... that's - not going so well. We're kind of taking a 'break' at the moment."

John could hear the air quotes. Having worked hard to stay out of Rodney's relationship with Keller, John decided that now wasn't the time to ask questions and Rodney would talk to him when he was ready.

"Sure, dinner's good," John answered cheerfully. "Real cow meatloaf and real mashed potatoes, I hear."

"Never thought I'd miss tormack," Rodney laughed.

"See you in an hour?" John asked.

Rodney looked around his lab, "That'll be about right. Call me if I'm not there, though."
John waved and went off to check with the Security detail. Not that he expected anything, but keeping up the routine gave them all something to do and prevented any bad habits from developing when – he had to think when and not if – they went back to Pegasus.

Also, they knew Atlantis itself was a dangerous place, and getting too lax could kill someone. That fact had helped them get rid of a number of visitors quickly, since the spaces cleared for visitors was limited and Rodney wouldn't allow just anyone into the labs. They both knew that it was unprofessional, but dropping reminders about Ancient equipment that could cause exploding tumors helped keep the politicians at bay, and General O'Neill had turned out to be helpful in keeping the military, in general, as well as the SGC, away.

When the initial shock of being on Earth had subsided, all of the senior staff had been called in to the SGC for 'debriefing', which turned out to be a relentless grilling about everything they had done in Pegasus, with not much of a chance to defend themselves. After three weeks in the mountain, John finally threw what Rodney called a temper tantrum, but what John liked to think of as being firm, and went to O'Neill who called a halt to the sessions. John didn't want to know what O'Neill had said to Landry and company but the Atlantis crew was pretty much kicked out of the mountain the next day and given leave for two weeks before having to report back to Atlantis.

Rodney had been invited by Keller to visit her family, so John decided it was as good a time as any to drop in on Dave for a visit. They had kept in casual contact after their father's death and he knew Dave had some business related things to go over with him. It gave him a destination and someplace to stay for a week.

John had spent the second week in Hawaii, doing some surfing and visiting some clubs that he had visited before, where he knew he could get what he wanted anonymously. But when he realized that the men he was looking at were stocky and blue eyed, he gave that up as a really bad idea. So he surfed alone, slept alone and reported back to duty almost rested.

After the time off, John had come back to Atlantis to find Rodney already in residence. He didn't ask any questions about Rodney's vacation and they had settled into something of a routine. They worked on reports, did some over due housekeeping, lay in supplies, made an occasional day-trip into the city and marked time while they waited for a decision.

Rodney showed up for dinner pretty much on time and Ronon and Teyla joined them. Ronon and Teyla were more than enthusiastic about anything that resembled a 'mission' and Teyla asked questions about what they were looking for. John could see Ronon listening intently but saying nothing.

"I have all the movies we want," Rodney announced. "Got into Netflix and I've downloaded a bunch of things to our servers."

"Isn't that stealing?" John asked."You're not supposed to keep the movies you get from them forever, you know."

"Not if you're part owner of the company," Rodney answered smugly. "I invented the download process they use so other people can't keep the movie. I get all the movies I want out of the deal."

"So why didn't we have more movies when we left for Pegasus, then?" John demanded.

"They hadn't worked out all the distribution rights at that point, so I couldn't get quite as much then," Rodney defended himself. "But it is why we had as much as we did."

"My turn to pick," Ronon announced.

"Sure, not a problem," Rodney agreed easily.

John had picked up a wide-screen TV to use for movies for themselves while he was on his vacation. John knew Rodney had a second one stashed somewhere as a spare and had spent a probably indecent amount of money on electronics, although John couldn't say anything since he had done something similar. Since they had all the storage space they wanted in the city, it didn't matter if they had to store things before they would use them. John had arranged for Dave, a lawyer and accountant really, but someone Dave had recommended, to simply pay his credit card out of his funds so he wouldn't have to bother with it. So John had several surprises stashed away for when they went back to Pegasus.

They had commandeered the room next to John's as their own to set up the equipment. Rodney had fussed over setting up the connection to the servers and Ronon had played with the audio equipment, following the directions when he could and just trying things to see what worked best. They now had a better movie space, had couches from empty rooms and didn't have to crowd around a single laptop to see the film.

John was always amazed by Ronon's picks when they watched movies together. After watching all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, he knew Ronon was a Johnny Depp fan and where Ronon had found out about Chocolat he would never know. He suspected the Marines had shown him the Internet Movie Database, Ronon never said. But movies about both food and making someplace home were a theme Ronon had followed.

After a relatively early night, they met for breakfast and did their own pre-mission briefing. Ronon made sure they had weapons, Teyla organized food, John let the Security team on duty know where they were going and Rodney packed up his computers.

The first part of the trip was easy since there was a working transporter about half way to their destination. After that, nothing was simple. A walkway that should have existed, didn't any more. An entire building was missing, replaced by a pile of debris and they had to work their way around it.

"We should do more exploration and mapping," Rodney complained.

"Hasn't been a priority," John answered but privately agreed. He'd see if the Marines could do more of it as a training exercise.

"No one is shooting at us," Ronon pointed out. "You don't have to run for your life."

"It is as much as a puzzle than anything else," Teyla agreed. "The weather is good and we are really not that far from home."

"Weather's always good here," Rodney grumped.

"If all there is to complain about is the weather, well, we have it made," John teased.

Rodney tapped on his laptop and then looked up. "Well, it's supposed to be right.... Here." He pointed to a mass of debris.

"Well, that's not good," John declared, eying the tangled mass.

Ronon moved closer to the pile and inspected it for a moment. "Not too deep, really," he decided. "None of it's too big, I think we can get through it."

"No, no, no," Rodney protested. "No one's to get hurt."

"We'll be careful," Ronon promised. "Come on." He started with some of the larger pieces on top, pushing them to the side so that they slid off the pile and then could be moved.

John moved in to help. "I agree. Some of this looks worse than it is. It's more awkward than heavy." He looked over his shoulder. "Rodney, put your things down across the way and help me with this."

Sighing, Rodney found what looked like a safe place for his laptops and went over to help. "What can I do?" he asked.

"Take the other end of this and I think the two of us can move this out," John pointed to the other end of the girder lying across the pile.

John watch Rodney carefully to make sure he didn't lift anything too heavy but he knew Rodney could handle more than he thought. He had seen Rodney manhandle equipment in the labs, slinging monitors around and moving equipment into new configurations.

"Ow!" Rodney exclaimed, shifting the girder in his hands. "It bit me!"

"You okay?" John asked.

"Yeah, don't think I'll bleed to death in the next two minutes," Rodney answered. "Just need to check it when we out this down."

Looking at the wound after they were done moving the girder, John figured Rodney had grabbed a rough edge when he picked up the piece. The cut was jagged but not too deep.

"I have a small first aid kit," Teyla volunteered. "There are bandages and we can take care of this."

"Come on, Sheppard," Ronon called. "You can help me while they fuss."

Reluctantly, John went over to help Ronon with the next piece while Teyla cleaned out the cut and put a bandage on it. John could see them talking together as she worked but he couldn't hear what they said.

"Couple more pieces should do it," Ronon decided. "Then we can see if McKay can get his door open."

"Okay," John wiped the back of his neck. "If I knew it would be this much work, I would have brought some Marines with us."

"Wuss," Ronon shot back.

John rolled his eyes, Ronon obviously spent too much of his free time with the Marines.

"Move out of the way," Ronon directed. "I think I can push the rest of the over enough to clear the door."

"Careful," John warned. "I'm not going to carry you if you hurt yourself."

"More likely to have to carry you before we're done," Ronon threw back.

"Hey!" John protested half-heartedly, knowing that had been true too many times.

Ronon positioned himself and shoved, moving the rest of the debris out of the way. John eyed the stack critically, concerned that something might fall now that they destabilized the pile.

When he was reasonably sure it was safe, he called, "Okay, Rodney, do your magic."

"Magic, says Mister Super-gene," Rodney scoffed.

"That's Colonel Super-gene, if you don't mind," John shot back with a grin.

Rodney fiddled, taking a panel off the wall and reaching in to take out a crystal. He held it up to the light to check its integrity. He carefully placed it back in the slot and snicked it back into place. He stepped back and tapped the 'doorknob' – the door slid open.

"Stand back," John warned Rodney. "Let us check it out. Ronon, with me. Teyla, keep an eye out." John was grateful that Rodney didn't protest and suspected he remembered some of the horrors they had run into in the city.

A quick look around showed none of the structural problems that were outside the room and no obvious dangers. John poked his head out, "Looks clear, Teyla, keep an eye out from the door?"

Rodney eagerly entered the lab. John watched as he stood in the center of the large-ish room, turning slowly as he mentally cataloged the contents of the room. The walls were deceptively plain but there was the occasional indentation that told John there were hidden doors or drawers. Multiple consoles were around the room with a larger, primary console in the middle.

Rodney headed to the center console, taking his computer from his backpack and gingerly connecting leads from the computer to the console. Rodney tapped the computer to life and started reading the screen.

"So is this what you were looking for?" John asked after a few minutes.

"I've just gotten into the database here, it looks like an independent subset of the larger city-wide database, which is why my searching didn't find anything but references. But anything more than that? It's too early to tell," Rodney answered.

"So we're here for a while?" John asked.

"Yes. Now go away and leave me alone," Rodney commanded.

John shrugged, he'd seen Rodney like this before and would give Rodney a couple of hours before he interrupted him again. John understood the need to focus on something to work on a task like this but Rodney's amazing focus also let him get too deep and didn't always take breaks as he needed them. He quietly set the alarm on his watch for two hours.

Walking over to Ronon, John stated, "Okay, this will be a while. You and Teyla do need to keep a general eye out but I'd appreciate it if you take a look to see what caused the debris out here and if we're going to run into any trouble with things falling down while Rodney's working."

"Okay," Ronon agreed. John could see Teyla settling in just outside the door.

John picked a stretch of wall that looked like it was just a wall and didn't have anything hidden behind it to lean against. He didn't want to accidentally activate anything before Rodney had a chance to scope it out.

John silenced the watch as it beeped gently. Rodney had stopped typing a bit ago and was peering at the screen, obviously reading.

"Ready for a break?" John asked softly, not wanting to break Rodney's concentration if he was in the middle of something.

"Umm... I think so," Rodney replied absently. "Another minute."

John knew that was anything from 5 minutes to 5 hours, so he gave Rodney another half an hour before he called, "Okay, time for a break. I need some food and I know Teyla talked the cooks out of some of the chocolate chip cookies they have planned for dinner."

John smothered a laugh when Rodney's head came up. "Cookies?"

"Yes, Rodney, cookies. Time for a break," John repeated.

Rodney stretched his back as he moved away from the computer. "Should have brought a chair," he grumbled.

"Next time," John promised. "I assume there will be a next time?"

"I don’t know," Rodney hedged. "Probably but I was just re-reading a section that seems to show how to access the information I'm looking for. I think I'll need you to activate a console for me in a bit that will help with what I'm looking for."

"Is it safe?" John asked.

"That's what I'm checking," Rodney answered. "Woolsey would kill me if I broke you while he was away, so I'm double checking my work to see exactly what needs to be done and what the effects are."

"I'd appreciate it if you don't break me, either," John grinned. "Come on, let's get some lunch."

Ronon had come back to sit near the door on watch and Teyla had set up the food across the open space, away from the debris. The spot was sunny but sheltered from the breeze, making it comfortable.

"So, what did you find?" John asked as he unwrapped a turkey sandwich.

Rodney shrugged. "Looks promising but I need you to activate one console while I activate another. The two consoles working in tandem should be able to give me more information. Whether it's the right information, that's another question."

"Well, it's progress anyways," John replied. "Ronon, what did you figure out?"

"Looks like the debris landed here from a couple buildings over. There's a couple of pretty messed up buildings in that direction," he pointed in a direction opposite the one they had come in from that morning, "and this was where it ended up. The building you're in looks reasonably okay from the outside."

"That's good news," John agreed. "Didn't want to have you dig us out from there if it came down while Rodney was getting his information out."

"It has been good to get out, even if it is within the city," Teyla offered. "This at least feels useful while we wait for your IOA to make a decision."

John and Ronon plotted out some tasks the Marines could do when they got a full contingent to work with. Clearing out sections of the city would be useful in giving the Marines something concrete to do as well as help them to open up new sections for other uses.

"Have you talked to Jennifer lately?" Teyla asked.

Looking carefully at his sandwich, Rodney answered, "No. We're... kind of taking a break, you could say. When we went to see her family, well, let's just say it didn't go well."

"I am sorry," Teyla commiserated.

John suspected that Teyla wasn't really too sorry. She hadn't said much when Jennifer and Rodney were dating but had expressed some concern to John about both Ronon and Rodney being interested in her. While she personally liked Jennifer she had been concerned about their team even more. John had told her all they could do was wait and see what would happen.

"Good lunch, Teyla," Rodney announced, to firmly change the subject. "If you're ready, Colonel?"

Teyla and Ronon gathered up the remains from the lunch as John and Rodney went back into the lab. John waited for Ronon to come back to watch the door before he went in to work with Rodney.

"Okay, I need you here," Rodney started. "Don't touch it yet, I don't know how sensitive it is and don't want to stress any crystals that may be fragile. What I can figure out tells me that this was meant for two people to do. Why, I'm not quite sure."

"Umm... what are you doing?" John asked as Rodney peeled the bandage off his hand.

"Needs two gene carriers and the bandage will interfere with the connection. The cut wasn't deep and I made sure Teyla had more bandages if I need one," Rodney explained.

"You sure about this?" John persisted.

"Not a problem," Rodney dismissed his concern. He looked at his laptop one more time, tapping they keyboard. He moved over to the other console. "When I say 'go' put both hands on the console."

John had studied the console as Rodney had completed his last minute tasks. There were two obvious places to put his hands. He had slung his P-90 over his shoulder so it would be on his back, there was something about all of this that made him nervous.

"Ready?" Rodney called. John nodded. "Okay, then, now."

John put his hands on the console – out of the corner of his eye, he could see Rodney doing the same.

At first, there was nothing. Then the console came to life and he could feel the computer come to life. Then.....



Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard



You seek information


Anomaly.... Processing...

Your Chosen has provided supplemental information. Access granted

A feeling of brightness, then darkness.....


Fuck. Infirmary again. That was John's first semi-conscious thought. Rodney! was the next, which fueled his fight to consciousness.

"Easy, Colonel," a feminine voice soothed. "We have you."

Nurse John identified. Nathalie. Gentle hands. He tried to relax but croaked out, "R'ny?"

"Shhh.... Don't speak. Dr, McKay is here, too. Still unconscious but stable," she told him, placing a hand on his arm. "I'll let Dr. Beckett know you're awake."

With the reassurance that Rodney was alive, he fell back asleep.

The next time John woke, it was more gradual but much more painful. He had a pounding headache and his muscles ached if he moved at all. He opened his eyes briefly, closing them when the lights felt blinding.

"Ah, back again, I see," Carson offered cheerfully.

"Hurts," John got out. "Drink?"

"Suspected as much and we'll get you some water in a minute," Carson answered. "From 1 to 10?"

John vaguely thought it was kind of sad somehow that Carson didn't need to identify one as no pain and ten as excruciating. John thought about it. The headache was the worst but the muscle ache was mostly when he moved. "Four," he replied.

"Och, for you that's not good," Carson replied, much too cheerfully John thought miserably. "One shot of 'the good stuff' should do it." John heard footsteps go away and come back.

A too-familiar prick on his arm and some of the muscle pain started to ease. He knew to breathe slowly through the first rush of the pain killer to give it a chance to work. This is getting old, he thought to himself. After a few minutes, the headache started to ease. His muscles still twitched but that would take a little longer.


"In about the same shape as you," Carson reported. "Headache and muscle ache but otherwise fine. What the heck were you doing out there?"

"'speriment," John replied. He licked his lips.

"Oh, sorry," Carson apologized. John felt the head of the bed rise slightly, cracked open his eyes to see Carson offering him a straw. John took a few pulls and let go when he had a good mouthful of cool water. He swallowed most of it and swished a bit around in his mouth to moisten it.

"Thanks," John said, it was easier to speak at this point and he could start to focus now that the edge of the pain had gone away.

"Ronon and Teyla called for help, as soon as they realized whatever you were doing had gone wrong," Carson elaborated. "Your Major Teldy organized a jumper to get you both once Teyla explained where you were. Teyla and Ronon have been waiting to see you but I wanted both of you awake before I let them in." Carson looked over to the nurse, "Nathalie, tell Ronon and Teyla they can come in for a few minutes."

"How long were we out?" John asked.

"About five hours," Carson told him. "Since I didn't know what really happened, I've had you under observation and did some basic scans during this time to make sure we don't get any surprises like those damned exploding tumors." John mentally winced at the thought of finding anything as nasty as that.

"Now what?" John asked.

"Full battery of tests," Carson replied. "Since we don't really know what Rodney's machine did to you, have to check for everything. Any real anomalies we find, we may ship you back to the SGC for additional workups but I think we can do what we need here."

John sighed, resigned to at least a full day in the infirmary. "Everything else okay?" he asked.

"You're the most excitement we've had in days," Carson assured him cheerfully. "I'll let you chat with your Major Teldy in a bit."

"Any reason Rodney and I can't share a room?" John asked. Much as he knew Rodney was all right from Carson, he wanted to see for himself. Selfishly, if he had to stay in the infirmary even overnight, some company was always welcome.

"None, now that you're both conscious," Carson agreed. "Ah! Ronon. You can help me move the Colonel's bed in with Rodney's."

"Sure," Ronon replied. "Easier to keep an eye on them that way. And they can entertain each other."

"I can walk!" John protested automatically.

"Not just yet," Carson disagreed, shaking his head. "You've just gotten that pain med and the pinched look about your eyes tells me it's not fully taken effect. Not going to let you wander about when I have someone to help move you about on the bed."

John rolled his eyes but lay back, knowing that even if he got around Carson, Ronon wouldn't let him up just as yet, either.

"I think, yes, Teyla went to visit Rodney," Carson offered an explanation of where their missing teammate was.

It only took a few minutes for Carson and Ronon to move the bed from one room to another. John let go the last worry he had when he saw Rodney sitting up in the bed and looking okay. They parked his bed near Rodney's.

"....and the lights were so pretty, just like you," Rodney babbled waving his re-bandaged hand. "... and the Colonel, don't you think he's pretty?"

Oh, yeah, the good stuff, John thought. Then something Rodney was saying caught his attention again.

"....it wanted me to choose, so I chose him. That was the right thing to do, wasn't it?" Rodney went from happy to uncertain, looking to Teyla for reassurance.

"Yes, Rodney, that was the right thing to do," Teyla soothed but John knew that it was her diplomatic keep-the-crazy-natives-calm tone.

Chosen echoed in John's head. Something about that was important.....

"Colonel!" Rodney brightened. He leaned toward John and said in a only slightly lowered voice, as if no one else in the room could hear. "I chose you."

And suddenly, it wasn't the drugs talking. There was something... wary.... In Rodney's eyes. Something that made John answer solemnly, "And I chose you."

A dazzling smile, then Rodney leaned back and chirped, "Ronon! Big guy!"

"McKay," Ronon answered gravely.

"Okay, now that you've seen they're alive, I'm going to be askin' you to leave," Carson ordered. "We need to run some tests at this point but you can bring them a snack later since they've missed dinner." He looked at the chart and thought for a minute. "Come back in about an hour and a half, we should mostly be done then."

"We can do that, Carson," Teyla agreed. "Thank you."

Teyla and Ronon left the infirmary and Carson said, "Okay, you two, let's get started."

Nathalie moved in with a tray and started taking blood samples from each of them. When she was done with that, Carson said, "You first, Colonel, I think. I'd like to have some of the painkiller run its course in Rodney before we do some of the next tests."

"No problem," John answered, more than willing to go first to get this over with. "But only if I can use the bathroom first."

"That probably is a good idea," Carson agreed. He grabbed a container. "You can give me a urine sample while you're at it."

Carson and another nurse hovered as John got into a wheelchair and then hovered again outside the small infirmary bathroom as John relieved his bladder, Carson pushing John to the room in the back of the infirmary with the full-body scan machine they had found early in the expedition. They helped get John into place.

"Since I have no idea what I'm looking for, I need to do a full body scan, Colonel," Carson explained as he changed some settings on the front panel. "The scan will take about 30 minutes, so I need you to just relax and not move around too much," he outlined.

"Okay, I can take a nap," John offered. A nap might also help get rid of the rest of this headache.

"That would be even better if you could fall asleep or at least relax as much as possible," Carson admitted. "We get a better scan that way."

"One nap, coming up," John grinned. He closed his eyes and willed himself to relax. He might not really fall deep asleep but, like most soldiers, he had learned to cat-nap when the opportunity presented itself. Piss, eat, sleep, in that order, when you can was a common philosophy. He'd been to the bathroom, food wasn't coming until later, so sleeping was next on the agenda. He closed his eyes as he felt the hum of the scanner start up.

A hand on his arm woke him. "Okay, done," Carson announced. "Let's take you back so I can run Rodney through the machine."

John sat up and moved back to the wheelchair. Carson wheeled him back to the room where Rodney was snoring lightly on the bed.

"What did you find?" John asked.

"Not sure, yet," Carson hedged. That told John that Carson had some idea that he was reluctant to discuss at the moment. John knew Carson wasn't going to say anything until he was good and ready so he didn't push for an answer.

"Your turn," Carson woke Rodney with a hand on the sleeping man's arm. John could see that Rodney was slightly groggy from the painkiller but the natural sleep must have done him some good since he wasn't as manic as before. Carson and the nurse guided Rodney to the bathroom, also, before taking him off for scanning.

John must have dozed some more, he woke with a start as he heard Carson bring Rodney back to the room. John must have been dreaming since he had memory of formula, numbers and complex structures in his head. He focused on the formula for a moment to try to remember it, knowing that if he did not that it would fade away, as dreams usually do.

Rodney looked better as he got back into the bed, John was glad to see. His movement was steadier and his eyes looked clearer.

"So?" John asked for both of them.

Carson drew up a stool and sat between them. "Okay, I'm going to ask Carolyn Lam for a consult on this because I need a second opinion."

John's head came up. "Umm.... Can you ask her to keep this quiet within the SGC?" he asked. "It's just that, well, if the SGC, or even worse the IOA, gets the idea that we've been compromised, then they may not let us go back to Pegasus."

Carson nodded. "I understand. Carolyn can be discreet and keep it under patient confidentiality as much as she can. I'll talk to her and ask her not to put your names on what she does." He looked at them sternly. "But if you are compromised, I will stop you from going back myself. Just as a warning."

"I guess that's as much as we can ask," Rodney reluctantly agreed.

"What did you find?" John persisted.

Carson sighed. "Both of you show a significant increase in brain function, the same way Rodney did when he almost ascended that time." He held up a hand to stop them from interrupting him. "What I see for both of you is nowhere as dramatic as what Rodney had before, which is an important factor. How that works out for you, I don't know yet. You have to give it some time."

"Do we have the time?" John asked, remembering how little time Rodney had when that damned machine had 'treated' him.

"Yes," Carson said firmly. "At this point, it's not as extensive, so I don't see it progressing as fast. That hopefully gives us time to figure out what is going on before anything else happens."

"Well, that's a relief," Rodney put in.

"What now?" John asked.

"I need to run all the tests again in the morning," Carson informed them. "I need to see if there is a change over time and since you both were unconscious for a few hours, you need to sleep where we can keep an eye on you. So you sleep here tonight, I do the tests and scan again in the morning and we go from there."

Rodney's yawn reinforced the sleeping part of the plan. Just then, Teyla and Ronon brought in trays of food. Rodney perked up slightly at the sight of them.

"Is this a good time?" Teyla asked.

"Perfect," Carson replied. "I'll leave you to it and I'll be getting some sleep myself. The night nurses will call me if anything develops."

"Good night then," Teyla nodded to the doctor.

Teyla used one of the rolling carts and placed a tray in front of Rodney. "Where did you find chocolate pudding?" Rodney asked,

"Got that for you," Ronon answered.

John looked down on his tray, "You didn't get me one?" He put an exaggerated pout on his face.

"You got turkey," Ronon pointed out. "Again," he had to add, knowing John had eaten turkey at lunch.

John looked carefully at the sandwich on his tray. "You did! Thanks," he said happily.

Teyla and Ronon stayed while they ate and chatted about nothing in particular, simply providing company for which John was grateful. When John and Rodney were done, Ronon picked up their trays and Teyla came to each of them, put a hand on their shoulder and softly wished them 'good night.'

John went off to use the bathroom, scrounging a toothbrush from the cabinet under the sink. "All yours," he announced to Rodney when he was done.

The night nurse came in to check on them while Rodney was in the bathroom. She waited for Rodney to come back and with a cheerful, "Call me if you need anything," she dimmed the lights.

John lay in bed, not terribly sleepy since he had dozed earlier. He could hear Rodney toss and turn in his bed.

"Can't sleep?" John asked softly.

Rodney stilled and John could see him sit up in the dim light.

"Do you.... do you remember anything?" Rodney asked tentatively.

John looked up at the ceiling for a moment and sat up also, sitting cross-legged on the bed. "Something...." he admitted. "A voice... it didn't want to do... something,"

"It asked me about you," Rodney told him. "I told it you were with me."

"That makes sense," John filled in, "it called me your Chosen."

Rodney sat still for a minute, then climbed out of his bed to sit at the foot of John's. "You..... well," deep breath. "You're unexpected in my life. I had never had a friend before you. Now.... now it's complicated."

John wanted to reach out and touch but he resisted. He had resisted for so long it had become habit. One he was afraid to break because, once he started, he suspected he wouldn't be able to stop. "I know, I...." John hesitated. "Complicated doesn't begin to describe it."

Looking down at the blanket on the bed, Rodney said in a low voice, "Before we came to Earth, Jennifer often complained that I spent more time with you than with her. And that if I wasn't talking about work I was talking about you. When we went to visit her family, we had a fight about it and I came back. Alone."

Before he could stop himself, John blurted out, "She wasn't right for you." John shut his mouth in horror at what he had just done. He had promised himself he wouldn't interfere.

Rodney laughed ruefully, "I finally figured that out. And I'm not sure if I'm glad you let me figure that out myself or if I'm mad at you for not telling me before this." Rodney looked up at John, "You're the only one who's ever stuck around."

John hoped his blush didn't show in the dim lighting. "You're worth it," John tried to be encouraging.

"Given the opportunity, I would choose you," Rodney said solemnly. He reached out and touched John's knee lightly.

They were both startled by the arc of electricity that shot between them. "Whoa," John exclaimed, moving slightly toward the head of the bed. He stilled and the formula that had been floating in his head before sharpened. John looked around, "Paper, something to write on. And with."

John was grateful when Rodney didn't hesitate, just got off the end of the bed and scouted the immediate area. He brought a data tablet that was probably for medical charts and handed it to John.

John took it and started writing on the flat surface. He frowned at the tablet and took a look at what he had just written. "Umm..... Okay, I do and don't know what this is. Rodney?" He handed the tablet over.

Rodney looked at the tablet and frowned in turn. He studied the screen and took the stylus and started writing on the screen. After a minute he looked up and asked, "Where did you get this?"

"From... from whatever that was that we ran into," John answered, confused. "What is it?"

"It's an odd combination of Ancient and the symbolism I used for my math," Rodney stared at the screen. "Like a bad mashup of two incompatible systems."

"Then what did you write?" John asked.

"Something that it told me," Rodney answered. "It seems to be another piece of whatever you wrote. They work together somehow."

John reached and took the tablet back, looked at what Rodney had written. It almost made sense but it needed....... Without conscious thought, he started writing.... when he stopped, he looked back up at Rodney. "Your turn," he offered the tablet to the other man.

"Turn?" Rodney asked, startled.

John held on to the tablet, startled himself. He drew it back slightly and glanced at what he had just written. "Umm.... Okay, let's try something. You take it and do whatever you think you need to do but don't hand it back to me."

"See if it continues?" Rodney caught on.

"Just don't give it back to me," John continued. "See how much of a compulsion it has. If you hold on to it, then I'll see how much I want to add to it. Or if I can resist at all."

"Okay, hand it over," Rodney directed, reaching for the tablet.

John handed it over and watched as Rodney wrote on the screen. When he was done, he focused on what they had written.

"Anything more?" John asked.

"There's not enough but...." Rodney snapped his fingers in a way John knew he had a sudden insight. "Power....." Then he stopped. "Energy equations, I think." The last was more hesitant. Unsure. Not a good look for Rodney, John thought.

When Rodney moved to hand the tablet back to John, John said, "No! You hang on to it. Remember?"

Rodney slowly withdrew the tablet and frowned at it. "I..... I want to hand it to you but it's not overwhelming."

"And I do want to take it but it's not overwhelming. As long as I think about doing it later, it seems okay," John answered.

"Think we can sleep?" Rodney asked, stifling a sudden yawn.

"Can you save that somewhere so we don't lose it?" John pointed to the tablet.

Rodney tapped on the screen and answered, "Saved to my personal drive and I sent you a copy,"

"Okay, that feels.... okay," John stated.

John thought Rodney seemed reluctant to move back to his own bed. He knew that now, even more than ever, he couldn't touch Rodney ... whatever had happened to them seemed to have started when Rodney touched his knee. They had it under control at the moment and didn't want to break that equilibrium.

"I'll just... go back to my own bed," Rodney nodded at the other bed. After a few moments, he got up and moved to the other bed. Rodney drew up the blanket and lay down, facing John. Blue eyes flashed in the dim light, "Night."

"Night, Rodney," John replied softly.

He must have fallen asleep since the next thing he knew was Nathalie quietly creeping around the room, reading the monitors over the beds and taking notes on their data tablet. No-o-o-o-o.... was John's immediate reaction before he had a chance to remember that Rodney had saved the work on the network and that it was okay.

"Colonel? You okay?" Nathalie asked concerned, looking sharply from him to the monitor over the bed.

John took several deep breaths. "Just..... must have been something of a bad dream," he stammered. He forced himself to breathe slowly and evenly to bring his heartbeat back down to normal.

She kept an eye on the monitor and placed a hand on his wrist to get his heart-rate. For all the machinery they had, the medical staff always took a second, hands on, test to validate the data on the monitors. "Okay, just the spike, looks better now," she agreed. "If you're not sleeping well, talk to Dr. Beckett and see if he'll give you something to help."

"I'll think about it," John temporized. He hated taking sleeping pills, they make him groggy and he didn't like the loss of control. He looked around, "Where's Rodney?"

"In the bathroom," Nathalie replied as she made notes in his chart. She handed him a small cup with two pills. "Tylenol," she explained and John took them gratefully since he was mildly stiff but didn't have anything like the muscle pain he had the night before.

John turned to look and saw Rodney coming out of the small room which reminded him of the demands of his own bladder. John swung himself up and nodded at Rodney, "Morning."

"Morning," Rodney answered. "Sleep well?"

"Reasonably," John answered, moving toward the bathroom. He took a small side-step to ensure that he wouldn't touch Rodney before they were ready to test this.... connection.... between them. He wanted to be somewhere private where they could work out whatever this was.

Rodney's eyes lit up as he realized what John was doing and moved back toward his bed. "Breakfast?" John heard him ask Nathalie.

John took the time to brush his teeth and use a wash cloth on his face and arms but he really wanted a shower. He came out just as breakfast trays were being placed on the tables by the beds. "No coffee?" he teased.

Rodney scowled. "Evidently we're not allowed until after our scans," he grumped. The lack of coffee didn't stop Rodney from eating everything on his tray.

Carson came in shortly after they were done and asked, "Sleep alright?"

"As well as possible considering we're in the infirmary," John answered for both of them.

"I didn't get to ask last night," Carson asked. "How did you cut your hand, Rodney?"

Rodney snorted, "Moving a girder. The lab we wanted was behind a pile of debris and there must have been a sharp spot since I sliced the hand picking it up." He looked at the clean bandage. "Teyla cleaned it up and wrapped it, I just needed to take it off to initialize the device. Why? Is it infected?"

"No, it's fine," Carson hastened to reassure him. "Since it all happened about the same time, looking to see if it had anything to do with what happened to you."

"If you're sure it's okay," Rodney replied doubtfully.

"Who's first, then?" Carson asked.

"Take Rodney," John offered. They looked at each other and Rodney shrugged.

"Okay, then," Carson wheeled the wheelchair over to Rodney's bed.

"I can manage," Rodney complained.

"Behave, Rodney," Carson ordered. "Just humor me."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Rodney sighed as he sat in the chair. John was relieved to see that Carson didn't have a nurse hovering to assist him with the transport.

John didn't have much to do as he waited for Carson to return to take him for scanning. He lay in the bed and stared at the ceiling. He wasn't tired and was starting to get restless. Just then Major Teldy came in. With Lorne getting a refresher course on the 302s while they were on Earth, Teldy had expanded her role in managing the military on Atlantis which John knew was good experience for her. As a secondary consequence, he had gotten to know her better.

"Everything okay?" he asked.

"No problems," she replied quickly. "Nothing, nada, boring, same old. Just thought you'd be starting to worry about now so figured I'd swing by on my way to bed."

"Thanks," John answered. "And thanks for the airlift yesterday. Doc should be letting us out of here in a bit, so everything should be back to normal. Well, normal for Atlantis, anyways."

She laughed. "You're dreaming if you think the Doc's going to let you back on duty today. I took advantage of the dullness to re-arrange the roster, figuring you'd be out for at least a couple of days."

John grimaced, knowing she was right. At best, Carson would let them out of the infirmary after their scans but keep them off duty for another day while he consulted with Carolyn Lam. "Okay, thanks," he told her. "What did you do?" He wasn't worried about it, just needed to keep him mind on something else while Rodney was gone.

They went over the revised duty roster. John mentioned the idea of getting some of the Marines to clear out debris from sections of the city while they had time and relative security. Teldy brightened up at something concrete to do and promised to get right on it.

"I'll see if we can get some Corp of Engineer types to take a look at it," she offered.

"Just let me know before we get any newbies," John ordered. "This is Ancient debris which makes some of it pretty dangerous by default. If we get a gene-carrier, don't know what might happen."

The reality that while they were on Earth they were still in an Ancient, and dangerous, city tempered the eagerness. "Maybe we can get some equipment delivered," Teldy countered. "We could use some heavy equipment once in a while just on general principles. Some mini-tractors and earth-moving equipment that would fit through the gate would be very useful."

"Now that's a good idea," John agreed. "See what you can get."

Teldy gave a nod and went off to pass that on before she went to sleep. Nathalie came back to check on him briefly but since there really was nothing to do until Carson came back with Rodney, she went off. John suspected she called Ronon and Teyla since they showed up only a few minutes after that.

"What has Dr. Beckett decided?" Teyla asked.

John shrugged. "Nothing yet, he's off running scans on Rodney and I still have to be scanned after that," John brought them up to date with what little he knew. "He says there's some increased brain activity last night and he's double checking to see if there's any changes overnight."

"Is this like that time McKay almost ascended?" Ronon asked.

"Don't know yet," John had to be honest. "But Carson doesn't think it's exactly the same since most of the initial signs are different. There's something going on but we don't know what yet."

Carson brought Rodney back shortly but refused to answer questions. "Not until I've run them both through," Carson answered firmly.

John dozed again through the procedure since Carson was busy doing the scan and didn't have a chance to talk.

"Okay, time to go back," Carson woke John. John climbed out of the scanner and into the wheelchair, wishing vaguely for coffee to help wake him completely.

Once they were back in the infirmary, Carson looked at Ronon and Teyla and at their calm looks back, obviously decided it wasn't worth the fuss to get them to leave.

"At this point, there's no change between the scans I took last night and the ones I took this morning," Carson announced to John's relief. "There are changes over your baseline scans that we have on file but there are no changes between the last two scans."

"That's good, right?" Rodney demanded.

Carson shrugged, "Maybe is the best I will say for now. You know as well as I do that there's no telling what will happen."

"Can we get out of here?" John pleaded.

"I want you back here tonight and then every morning for repeat of the scanning and no more exploring until we know more one way or the other," Carson told them sternly. "That applies to all of you. I'll send the scans to Dr. Lam shortly and I'll be able to talk to her later today."

"Can I work in the lab?" Rodney asked.

Carson hesitated, obviously weighing his professional option that Rodney should rest and his personal knowledge that Rodney was going to work no matter what he said. "Teyla, Ronon? You're to make sure they both take meal breaks and get to sleep at a reasonable hour. And carry them in if anything the least bit odd happens."

John knew that would be as good as it got. Teyla and Ronon would make sure he and Rodney got to meals and quit working in the lab at a reasonable hour. "Movie night?" John offered his team in compromise.

"My turn to choose, I think," Teyla said firmly.

Rodney rolled his eyes but didn't protest. "Can we go now?" he demanded.

"Don't see why not," Carson agreed.

Cheered by the relatively easy escape from the infirmary, John swung out of bed, "What did you do with our clothes?"

"Laundry, I think," Carson looked around vaguely but without concern. "You'll survive the trip back to your rooms in scrubs."

"I need a shower anyways," John admitted. "Ready?" he asked Rodney.

"Waiting for you," Rodney shot back with a small grin.

Teyla and Ronon accompanied them back to their rooms. Unsure of how much to say in front of their team mates, John suggested, "I'll meet you in the lab?" Rodney nodded.

In his room, John dug out clean clothes and got into the shower. The hot water felt good on his sore muscles and he resolutely didn't think about Rodney -- naked, in his own shower... no! -- while he cleaned up.

John drifted through the mess to pick up some coffee and a mid-morning snack to take with him. He figured Rodney would enjoy the coffee if nothing else and the snack would hold them until lunch.

Rodney got to the lab about the same time and looked eagerly at the snack, "What did you bring?"

"Bananas and blue jello," John pushed them toward Rodney. "Figured there'd be more coffee here." He had managed to finish his cup on the way to the lab.

"Better be," Rodney replied darkly. "Thanks for..." he glanced at the fruit and jello.

"Can we work on.... it... here?" John asked, suddenly unsure if this was the place to do whatever they needed to do. There were only a handful of scientists around but they made John uncertain.

Rodney considered. "Maybe not. Even with hardly anyone around it's not something I want to do in public. Let's get some coffee and I have a secondary lab that might be better suited to what we need to do." He grabbed a mug for himself and refilled John's coffee, "Come on." He pointed to a second laptop as he picked up one, "Bring that along."


( Well Chosen - Part 2 of 2 )


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 18th, 2009 03:10 am (UTC)
Its a pretty amazing meep! The back and forth exchange - math and feelings - is awesome.
Jan. 2nd, 2010 01:34 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it! Back and forth is what John and Rodney do....

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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