Spoilers: Erm... The Eye and The Storm. Possibly some other stuff from season 1.
Summary: There is Rodney... and then there is another of him... and he makes Carson see some stuff he had been missing.
"Either I'm having the worst nightmare in my life, or there really are two of him." John said.
"I see that sparkling Sheppard charm and wit isn't unique to our universe. Won't he be pleased." One of the two Rodney McKay's standing side by side in the briefing room said caustically.
"Figures that would carry thought the universes." The other snorted.
John looked a little shell-shocked. Handling one McKay he could do, but two? Did that higher power he didn't believe in, really hate him that much?
"Lets sit down shall we." Elizabeth said.
One of the McKay's immediately followed her order, while the other looked at her dumbly for a moment, before following that lead.
"Now, Rodney, *our* Rodney, why don't you explain how this..." Elizabeth made a vague gesture to the other McKay, "happened."
"We found a quantum mirror. Actually it looks nothing like the quantum mirrors the SGC found in the milky way galaxy, probably isn't even appropriate to call it a quantum mirror, but it does basically the same job. We have about thirty-six hours to play whatever little 'you're universe, my universe games' you want, before we have to send him back." McKay explained.
"I read those reports; I thought it was forty-eight?" Elizabeth commented.
"Well sure, if we want him to go through hours of pain. I'm sure he'd rather skip that." McKay said matter-of-factually.
Elizabeth nodded, seemingly considering it, when the doors opened to another new arrival.
"Sorry, I was delayed. Sergeant Bates was training with his men again." Carson said, in that way that meant one or more of them had come out a little lighter on blood.
All eyes turned to the McKay's when they heard a choked sob.
"Doctor McKay?" Elizabeth questioned softly.
"Sorry, I suppose I should have expected... after all you're..." The McKay everyone was now able to identify as being from the other universe, simply because of where at the table he was sitting, stuttered slightly while he spoke, tears in his eyes which hadn't left Carson.
"He is dead in you're universe?" John asked without thinking. McKay let out a barely suppressed whimper of pain and nodded stiffly.
"He and Doctor Weir were both killed by the Genii. I... I failed them." McKay said, turning away from Carson to look at the table, tears still running silently down his face.
"I very much doubt that." Elizabeth said softly, reaching a hand across to rest on his.
Sad blue eyes looked up at her. "I don't." he said quietly.
The room was silent for a few moments, the uncomfortable sort of silence that goes with such a moment, until Carson spoke. "If you'd rather I left...."
Both McKay's looked at him. "You would, I know." The McKay from the other universe said softly a gentle smile on his face, eyes shining brightly.
"Oh my God!" McKay jumped up from the table. "You... he... you!" All eyes were on him, curious and despite the somber mood that had dropped over the other McKay's admission of Beckett and Weir's deaths, also a little amused.
"Yeah." The other McKay agreed.
Suddenly the McKay's were both babbling at almost the same time and no-one could understand a word of it, they were both dressed the same, talked the same, had the same mannerisms, it was scary and extremely confusing.
"Hey!" John yelled. "Does someone want to explain to the rest of the class what's going on?"
Both McKay's replied co-currently.
"I like his answer better." John said, pointing to the McKay from the other universe.
"Well you would. It's none of you're business. Go fly something, isn't that what you get paid for." McKay snapped.
"Rodney!" Elizabeth snapped.
"What?" came both replies.
"Stop, everyone just stop a moment. This is getting too confusing. You answer to McKay." She said pointing to the Rodney McKay from the other universe. "You answer to Rodney." She pointed to her own scientist.
"Now, McKay, what exactly is going on?" Elizabeth asked.
"Nothing." McKay answered clipped and clearly irritated.
"That's not what it sounded like." John said.
"Well since last I checked you aren't a qualified psychologist you don't get to tell me what it sounded like." McKay snipped.
"Since you're in our universe, I really, really do." John said pointedly glaring.
"Don't ask, don't tell Major." McKay retorted angrily.
"You're a civilian." John returned with barely a blink at the implications of what McKay had just said.
Elizabeth watched stuck somewhere between shock and vague amusement. It seemed regardless of which universe Rodney McKay came from, he and John were destined to snip like school boys.
"Gentlemen. Doctor McKay, if we're to figure out where our universes differ we really need to know." Elizabeth said diplomatically.
"You already know he's..." McKay paused, closing his eyes and swallowing past the lump in his throat. "You already know he's dead. What more do you need to know." He asked softly.
"I understand it must be difficult..." Elizabeth began.
"No, I don't think you do. Carson and I were lovers. That's the big secret. In my universe we'd been together for just under a year when the Genii came. He'd been planning some sort of surprise to celebrate... he..." McKay choked back the tears that threatened him, "he had talked Elizabeth into performing a wedding ceremony for us. Because I'm Canadian and it's legal he... but then the Genii came and they killed him. They beat him into a bloody pulp and when he wouldn't tell them anything they considered valuable enough they slit his throat."
When he finished the whole room was in silence except for the shuddering breaths coming from McKay himself. Breaths punctuated only by soft sobs.
"I'm sorry." Elizabeth finally said.
McKay looked at her, his eyes filled with a deep sadness. "So am I."
Elizabeth finished up the meeting as quickly as possible, giving Rodney instructions to learn all he could from McKay before they had to send him back. The atmosphere was strained as everyone began filing out of the room.
"Carson, could I have a word?" Elizabeth asked. "I noticed you were very quiet." She said when he sat down again at the table.
"Nothing much for me too add." Carson said.
"No I suppose not." Elizabeth agreed.
"I... what he said... I..." Carson paused clearly embarrassed.
"You have feelings for Rodney." Elizabeth surmised.
"Aye," Carson agreed with a nod of his head.
Elizabeth nodded slowly. "Can I ask how long?"
"Long enough. Antarctica maybe. I know he can be stand-offish and obnoxious but he's a good man really." Carson said, like he was trying to explain himself.
"Yes he is. I'm going to assume he doesn't have any idea about... your feelings though." Elizabeth said.
"No. I would never... Rodney is my friend, likely the best friend I've got here on Atlantis. I wouldn't want to hurt that, especially after... his reaction to the other McKay's... well..." Carson told her.
Elizabeth smiled reassuringly. "I understand, I won't say a thing."
Carson thanked her and left, confident Rodney would be so wrapped up with McKay over the next day at least that he'd be no where near him. Carson wouldn't call what he felt for Rodney unrequited love exactly, but he couldn't deny he felt something and clearly McKay had cared a great deal for his version of Beckett but as far as Carson was aware, Rodney was straight. The constant babbling about blond hair, long legs and breasts kind of suggested it.
For the rest of the day, Carson resolutely put it out of his mind. He worked happily in his lab until well past dinner when the door chime interrupted him.
"Come in." he called, his eyes focused in the microscope.
Carson tried to hide how startled he was, schooling himself. "Rodney, I didn't expect to see ye today."
"Not Rodney. Well okay clearly Rodney but not... other McKay... other universe. I don't want to interrupt, I just... this will sound strange, I know you and he aren't, but I've really missed... can we just talk, I've missed that and... if you're uncomfortable I'll leave but..." McKay stumbled over the words.
Carson felt a sting of pain. His own maybe, but he thought it was more like sympathy for the obvious pain in McKay's eyes. Despite his own feelings, Carson couldn't dismiss the man. "It's fine, really, I haven't eaten yet, shall we go to the mess?"
McKay nodded and Carson felt him trotting along behind him but neither of them spoke until they were seated with food.
"I'm not really sure what to talk to you about." McKay said quietly.
"Well what... do you mind talking about him, I'd... I'm a wee bit curious." Carson said, feeling dreadful asking but far to curious not too despite his misgivings.
"Curious about how you put up with me?" McKay asked with a self-deprecating laugh.
"No, no, of course not I'm just..."
"It's okay. I know. We... when we had our first date, he made me dance, I *really* can't dance. We didn't... we just kinda kept doing that. Then we came here and it really was great, petrifying but great. We were two months shy of our one year anniversary and he'd convinced Elizabeth to marry us when... I was out fixing the lighting rod when they killed him, he, Teyla and Ford got back from the mainland, they came to help us, but they were caught. Afterwards Kolya showed his body to Elizabeth and I... I couldn't even... I sometimes think maybe I died when he did, but the others keep me going, life-support in the form of Major John Sheppard." McKay said with an ironic kind of smile on his face.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked." Carson said regretfully.
"No, it's okay. I'd have asked too. I honestly don't know what to say though, we made sense, I wasn't use to relationships making sense. Physics I could handle but people... I understood him though and he understood me. It was nice. Seems like a pretty terrible thing to say doesn't it, 'nice', after a year together and all I can say is nice but I can't think how else to say it. It was comfortable, but not boring not like we were stuck in some rut, things were always crazy but even when they were we were comfortable... I knew I could fall in to bed at three am wake up at six and he'd be there. I've never had that before." McKay told him.
"It sounds nice." Carson said, smiling when McKay grunted at his choice of words. It appeared they were comfortable too, because before long they were discussing other things, everything. Carson was surprised by how much McKay knew about medicine, even more so when he learned that *his* Rodney knew at least as much and had taken courses in first aid in the past.
"After the storm when Rodney hurt his arm, he'd bandaged it himself, badly." Carson explained by way of his disbelief.
"I'd probably have bandaged it badly too if I were him. Surely you don't think we're that much of a hypochondriac. He just wants an excuse to visit the infirmary." McKay snorted.
Carson flushed. "I doubt that."
"Sorry, I guess it's just weird you two not being... but I suppose you can't be gay in every universe. More is the pity for me. Him. You know what I mean." McKay said.
"Aye well I'm... not entirely straight, but so far as I know Rodney is." Carson told him.
"If he's straight I'm stupid and we both know irregardless of what universe I come from, I'm a genius." McKay said earnestly.
Carson shook his head. "He's never given any indication..."
"Because he's afraid. If you... he... my Carson, hadn't approached me I'd never have made a move." McKay said assuredly.
"I'd like to believe that but..." Carson shut his mouth; he hadn't meant to say that.
"So you *are* interested in him." McKay said.
"I'm... we're friends, I wouldn't jeopardize that." Carson said.
"Believe me, you wouldn't be. He likes you. He's me, I know him." McKay told him.
"Easy for you to say." Carson grumbled.
"*Not* easy for me to say. I miss *my* Carson every single minute, of every single day, but at least I'll never doubt another day in my life that I *was* loved. Trust me, he'd be very receptive to the idea." McKay said.
Carson didn't know what to say and it seemed the ease with which they'd previously talked had gone away, but before he could comment McKay did.
"Thank you for... this... I hope... things work out." McKay said, leaving Carson sitting alone and confused.
McKay had told them all he could, sharing a few bits of technology they hadn't yet found, or figured out how to work and taken back a lot of information for his own universes scientists to pour over, it wasn't as much as it could be, but he'd begun to experience the effects of entropic cascade failure, he had to go back.
"It's been... interesting." McKay had said, before he stepped up to the quantum... whatever it was they were calling it these days and he was gone. John had saluted cheekily, Elizabeth had given him a hug and Radek had said something in Czech that had McKay laughing and shocking them all by replying in Czech. Carson had avoided it all.
McKay had been gone three days when Rodney came into the infirmary cursing angrily. "Carson! Get out here!"
"Aye Rodney, what can I do for you?" Carson asked.
"Well if you're sure you aren't too busy looking down your microscope, then I'm bleeding to death over here." Rodney snarked.
"It's barely more than a paper scratch," Carson said, shaking his head fondly as he ordered Rodney to sit on the bed. As he set about cleaning the wound he remembered what McKay had said, Rodney was more than capable of taking care of this himself. It was crazy, beyond comprehension, but Carson couldn't ignore what he knew.
"Rodney would ye like to have dinner with me tonight?" he asked, steeling himself against any possible reaction.
"I suppose so." Rodney agreed, but Carson could tell he wasn't really paying attention.
"No Rodney I don't think you're understanding what I'm asking." He said.
"You. Me. Food. What's confusing?" Rodney asked.
"Well yes but... alone. Just us." Carson put an emphasis on the 'just us' part.
Rodney's eyes went wide and for a moment Carson thought he might actually jump out of his skin. "Us... we... are you crazy?" Rodney asked. "Is this because you aren't getting any and because of *him* you know I'm interested so you thought we could just... and... are you crazy?
Rodney continued ranting quietly, which was so amusing that Carson had to laugh; because Rodney's attempts at hushed yelling were... well they were funny.
"... and I don't see what's so funny this is..."
"Rodney!" Carson said, using his best 'Doctor' voice.
"What?" Rodney asked pausing for breath.
"I'm not just looking to scratch an itch. But our visitor did give me a lot to think about." Carson admitted.
Rodney cocked his head to the side in a way that made Carson want to start calling him Fido, but nodded slowly not entirely convinced but listening, interested, it was a good start.
"So dinner then?" Carson asked.
"Yeah. Okay. I don't dance though and you can't make me." Rodney insisted.
"Wouldn't dream of it." Carson assured him.
"Good. So are you going to let me bleed to death or..." Rodney looked pointedly at his hand.
"Wouldn't dream of it." Carson repeated, finishing treating it before bring it up to place a kiss against the white bandage that now covered it.
"If you do that when there are people around..." Rodney warned.
Carson laughed. "Wouldn't..."
"Dream of it, yes I know, you wouldn't dream of a lot of things." Rodney said.
"Only the really important things." Carson said earnestly and Rodney blushed.
"So tonight... erm... seven?" Rodney asked.
"Seven. My quarters, I'll get the food if you bring the drinks." Carson told him, knowing Rodney would go straight to Radek.
"Seven. Drinks. Right. I... thanks." Rodney stuttered.
Carson smiled, watching Rodney go. He thought about the other Rodney McKay and frowned slightly, he wondered if he'd ever find happiness again, he hoped so. But either way Carson was going to make sure *his* Rodney knew he was loved the same way the other one did.