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Fic: Friday I'm In Love

Title: Friday I'm In Love
Author: paradise_city
Pairing: Lorne, Zelenka pre-slash
Rating: PG
Recipient: isiscolo
Spoilers: Up through Runner
Summary: Looking at Rodney and the colonel, Zelenka thought, That isn't all gene. Looking at Lorne standing beside him, he thought, Perhaps this isn't, either.

The first time it happened on Tuesday.

Radek was tired and frustrated and as he stared at the power output readouts for the eighth straight hour, he was starting to lose hope as well. The difference between theoretical and applied disciplines, he had learned, was that beating one's head against a theoretical wall didn't produce nearly the headache. After his attempt to prove his longest shot theory failed, just the like the two previous attempts, he was forced to concede defeat. No matter how many more diagnostics he ran, the output would continue to be the same: none of the currently accessible systems were responsible for the steadily increasing power flow. It lay to reason that the system responsible for the spike was one they had yet to discover, but with McKay a week into his shore leave there was no one with whom to bat around ridiculously implausible theories in search of the one that was, against all odds, correct.

Radek was tempted to pack it in for the afternoon lest anyone start to mistake him for McKay, what with the misguided attempts at simply bludgeoning the power consumption into submission, but ignoring the problem would not solve it and he did not want to let Dr. Weir down.

He glanced at his watch, did the conversion to Atlantis Standard Time, and prepared for his ninth hour with the recalcitrant data. He could already feel the headache coming on.

It was then that Lorne appeared, issuing orders to a younger Marine who continued down the hall while the major paused in the lab's doorway. "Hey, doc," he said, "if you've got a minute, could you take a look at one of the jumpers?"

Radek sighed in blessed relief. "Jumper 2?"

"Yeah. It's doing this thing," Lorne said, with a vague wobbling gesture that would have been completely unhelpful if Radek hadn't already known what he meant. "I think it's the thrusters."

Radek nodded, already gathering the necessary tools from the tables and storage boxes around him. "Is loose cable," he said. "We keep fixing, but jumper is particularly problematic."

Lorne grinned. "Well, it is the Colonel's favorite."

Radek didn't bother to hide his smile as he left Miko with instructions to stare at the power readouts for a few hours and left the lab behind Lorne. At last, something he knew he could fix.

The second time, it happened on Thursday.

Command team meetings had been doubled, one at 0800 and one at 2600 following the four shift division of the day precipitated by citywide exploration taking mission priority. Lorne found the four shift system much more logical and time efficient and hoped it would continue to remain in place after the Colonel's return. Sheppard had summarily dismissed the changes instituted by Colonel Caldwell during his Eratus-induced absence, his reluctance coming from a distaste for anyone's authority but his own and, Lorne suspected, a bit of insecurity. He liked Sheppard well enough as a guy and there wasn't anyone he'd rather have by his side in a fight, but as a commander Sheppard had a long way to go. Lorne just hoped he'd be more amenable to his and Weir's suggestions than he'd been to Caldwell's; he really wasn't looking forward to having to recalibrate his body yet again.

He shifted in his seat and winced at the twinge in his back. He knew Dock Beckett was laid out with the chickenpox outbreak among the Athosian children, but Lorne's abused body couldn't handle much more waiting before he started to get really impatient.

Zelenka noticed his restlessness and gestured at him with friendly inquiry. "Dex," Lorne said by way of explanation, and from Zelenka's sympathetic glance, Lorne thought the jumpy little Czech number might have had a run-in or two of his own. "I think he wants to be sure the Colonel's troops are in the same condition he left them in when he returns, if not better."

"Combat babysitting?"

Lorne cocked an eyebrow. "I never had a babysitter who enjoyed kicking the shit out of me this much. Uh, ma'am," he added quickly in apology in Elizabeth's direction.

"My sympathies," Zelenka said, looking entirely too smug in his scientist's stripes. Lorne made a note to suggest mandatory basic combat training for all non-military personnel, but then Beckett rushed in and the meeting began.

It was blessedly quick and Lorne was halfway out the door as soon as Dr. Weird had called an end to it with an eye toward a long, hot shower when Zelenka stopped him. "Major, if I could have a moment?"

"Yeah, doc?"

"West tower," Zelenka said, leaning in close to whisper. "Third level. Take transporter by B-15 storage area. Only transporter that will get you there."

Lorne narrowed his eyes. "And where exactly is 'there?'"

"Somwhere that will make you feel better. But, is scientist secret. Tell anyone else and I will kill you, but first I will make training with Conan look like walk in park."

It was just a ridiculous enough threat that Lorne was tempted to believe it. "You sure about this, doc?"

"Trust me," he insisted.

Later, as he soaked in one of the hot whirlpool tubs in the extensive baths he hadn't even known existed, Lorne decided to take the doc at his word in the future.

The third time it happened, there was a chocolate power bar involved. The fourth, a retrofit on a wraith stunner. The fifth, a couple of souped-up fishing rods.They all went as unnoticed as the first and second had.

The sixth time, it happened on Wednesday.

Radek was in the lab, tinkering with a square little Ancient something-or-other and wishing for the millionth time that the gene therapy had taken. He had a vague idea what the device was-some kind of short-range static generator, likely used for communications jamming-but without Rodney to beat it or Sheppard to seduce it into activity, the best Miko had been able to do was make it glow faintly, leaving Radek to prod at it in vain hope of getting it to work.

He poked at it again and was rewarded with a low level electric shock for his troubles. Excellent, perfect, just what he needed: Ancient technology that fought back. He was right in the middle of an impressive, profane tirade when he heard Lorne's distinctive knock in the doorway.

"Don't let me stop you," he said, leaning against the wall in a sprawl that wasn't quite Sheppardian in proportion, but a respectable imitation. "I can come back later if you need me to."

Radek shook his head with a final, vehement swear. Lorne cocked an impressed eyebrow. "No, is fine. Just Ancient technology, no Ancient gene."

Lorne moved in for a closer look at the item Zelenka had gestured to. "What is that? Looks like a Rubik's cube."

"I think is short-range communications jammer, but is difficult to tell without activation."

The major reached out and picked the device up, turning it over in his hands. It glowed a bright blue, much stronger than it had for Miko, and the square box unfolded itself in steps revealing an inner control panel.

Radek frowned at Lorne, at the device, and back to Lorne. "You do not have gene," he said accusingly. "You fly retrofitted jumper."

Lorne quickly put the device down and stepped away. "Uh, I do, actually," he said, watching as the device's glow faded and it folded itself back up, "I've just never gotten it to work. Doc Beckett said it's dormant, something about an activator chromosome."

"But you can...?"

Lorne shook his head, a little bewildered. "Never done that before."

"Try again," Radek said, and after a moment's hesitation, Lorne reached for the device. It opened up like a prom dress and waited patiently to be used.

Zelenka looked at Lorne suspiciously. Lorne just shrugged. "Sorry, doc. Don't know what to tell you." He backed quickly toward the door, the bewildered look edging into something more apprensive, when Radek stopped him.

"Wait. You came to lab. What did you need?"

"Oh." Lorne stopped, looking a bit sheepish having been caught in his escape. "Just a heads up. Fish in the mess tonight, thanks to your rods. Stay away from the first batch; that was experimental. I have it on good authority that the second batch is pretty good, though."

Zelenka was still looking at him appraisingly, but then he said, "Thank you," and turned back to his work.

The seventh time, it happened on Friday and Zelenka finally understood.

Though the Daedalus made regular supply runs, there was still a perpetual shortage of several crucial laboratory items including but not limited to white board markers, which is how Radek had come to be sweeping ineffectually at a shelf several inches above his head and cursing impressively.

Lorne, who'd had several occasions to hear Zelenka's fluent swearing, was more impressed than usual when the door to Zelenka's quarters slid open before him and revealed the tableau. "Problem, doc?"

Zelenka uttered a girlish scream and nearly fell from the chair he was precariously balanced on. "What are you doing?" he cried, clutching his chest. "I did not open door! What do you want? Vybafnout nedovtipa!"

Lorne paused, thought briefly and affectionately, Jumpy little Czech number.. "I-" he said, looking confused. "I didn't open the door. I just stopped here because...." He frowned. "Because you needed help."

Zelenka climbed off his chair, fixing Lorne with a studying gaze. "I needed help?" Lorne nodded. "Why did you think that?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. I was on my way to the jumper bay and I passed your quarters and I just...I don't know. I just thought, 'The doc needs help.' And then the door opened and you were there, on the chair, what were you doing, anyway?"

Zelenka shook his head. "No matter. You thought I needed help, but you did not open door?"

"No, it just opened. I thought you opened it."

Radek frowned. "Come in, come in," he finally said impatiently, tugging Lorne into the room by the sleeve and hitting the door control. He paced for a long minutes then stopped, bright eyes staring right into Lorne's own. "What am I thinking?" he asked, cutting Lorne off when he started to protest. "Stop. Do not talk. Do not think. Close eyes and tell me what I am thinking." Lorne was still looking at him skeptically. "Major, please. Just try."

Lorne shrugged and closed his eyes. "The hell-I don't know, doc. You're...short," he said, frowning. "I mean yeah, you're short, but you're thinking short. And, uh. Doc, really, I don't think-dumplings? Dumplings?" He opened his eyes. "Look, I don't know what you're doing, but it's not working-"

Zelenka was staring at him in something close to stunned silence. "Knedlikový," he said slowly. "Is, is...one who is rather partial to dumplings. Old curse, something my mother used to say. And short, yes. Could not reach markers on top shelf." He took off his glasses and rubbed at his eyes. "Telepathy, Major. Low grade telepathy."

Lorne's eyes widened. "You know what I'm thinking?"

"Freaking out," Zelenka said sardonically. "Does not take telepathy to see. Come here," he said, taking a white sphere off the desk and holding it out. "Turn this on."

"I can't, doc, I told you."

"No," Zelenka said, "you can. Just think on at it." To the doc's surprise, the sphere lit up in his hands, casting a haze of colors up at the ceiling. They shifted as he looked from the sphere to Lorne to the ceiling, slowly drifting and changing.

"Huh. I think you just did," Lorne said from somewhere close by his side. Zelenka realized with a start that the major was well within his personal space and had been there, in one form or another, for the better part of a week. He thought of Rodney's hands and the way the colonel lit up and it all fell into place.

"I think Atlantis is evolving," he said in a hushed whisper.

"She is evolving," he said an hour later to Elizabeth and Lorne. "Over the last week, Major Lorne and I have grown...better able to work together. Colonel Sheppard and Dr. McKay have excellent partnership, work very well together. We have assumed their partnership was natural, unaugmented. But since they have been gone and Major Lorne and I have been-" he gestured quickly, muttering in Czech.

"-seconds in command," Lorne supplied.

"Yes. Without the colonel and Dr. McKay, the major and I are closest to Atlantis, have most control. We have been behaving more like the colonel and Rodney, same type of partnership even though we have not worked together much in the past. He can sense in vague way what I need and I can do the same for him."

Elizabeth took it all in with an expression Zelenka had come to understand was purposefully, carefully neutral and asked, "What about ATA ability?"

"Major Lorne has gene, but is dormant," Zelenka explained. "My gene therapy did not take. But we have been able, to varying degrees, to activate Ancient technology that requires gene. I think Atlantis can recognize Rodney and the colonel are gone and that the major and I are closest of what remains. I think she is trying to help us be like them. In doing so, she is evolving."

Elizabeth remained skeptical. "You are aware you're ascribing sentience to a city?"

"With all due respect, ma'am, she's a flying, floating Ancient city," Lorne said. "Is some low-level sentience such a long leap to make?"

Radek smiled at him, a smile Elizabeth had come to think of as the one reserved for her. More than anything else she'd seen or been told, it gave her pause. "Assuming all of this is true, what do you suggest we do?"

Zelenka looked vaguely hopeful. "I don't suppose we could extend Rodney and the colonel's leave? The city has done so much in the last week they've been gone I cannot even predict what she could do given more time."

"No," Elizabeth said, looking genuinely apologetic. "Two weeks was all I felt comfortable sparing them for. I fear more would be asking for trouble."

Zelenka nodded. "I thought as much. In that case, is not much more we can do. When McKay and the colonel return, we can perhaps rotate them on and off duty. This ability of the city, without Rodney and the colonel, we cannot tell if it is designed to work in lieu of or in accordance with those who have gene."

"If it's some sort of emergency programming," Lorne asked, "when Colonel Sheppard and Dr. McKay return, we could lose this?"

Zelenka nodded. "Is distinct possibility." Lorne frowned; Zelenka sighed. "If nothing else, at least we have learned this is possible. We never thought city could run without ATA personnel. Now we know that maybe, if it has to, it can."

"Well," Elizabeth said. "This is a rather unexpected development."

After that, there was nothing more to say.

The last time, it happened on Monday.

Lorne and Zelenka had spent the weekend holed up in the lab and Zelenka's quarters, working with the Ancient devices Zelenka had deemed ATA-functioning only and/or too interesting for Rodney to have. They'd had varying levels of success, but any success at all was unprecedented.

Lorne made a quick trip to the mess, returning with the almost-cranberry muffins he knew the doc liked best without ever having asked. It was 0830. The colonel and Dr. McKay were due at 0900.

"We should go meet them in the gate room," Lorne said, putting the devices that had completely failed to work on the top shelf above the doc's window where they'd be out of his way.

Zelenka nodded and started for the door, then stopped. "Open door, please," he said.

Lorne frowned but tried, then tried again. "Nothing. You?"

"Nothing. Is why I asked." Zelenka frowned, then keyed the door manually. Colonel Sheppard and Dr. McKay, who had never quite mastered the concept of punctuality, were coming down the hallway toward them. They were arguing amiably about, from the best Zelenka could tell from their gestures, well-endowed women. Rodney waved jovially and the colonel snapped the major a lazy salute as they passed and Zelenka thought, Not all of that is gene.

Looking at Lorne sprawled in the doorway, hand on Zelenka's shoulder the way it had so often been during the past week, he thought, Perhaps this isn't, either.


( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
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Dec. 23rd, 2005 07:12 pm (UTC)
Eee! Lorne and Zelenka, yay! I've been hankering after fic with these two ever since their too-brief scenes together in Lost Boys. And you've managed to articulate exactly why I like them together: each is a second-in-command who is no slouch at all at what he does, yet is overshadowed by his flashier boss. The idea of Atlantis evolving is quite clever and makes for an interesting plot device. Thank you for this story!
Dec. 25th, 2005 04:42 am (UTC)
These two really are fun together, and I agree that Lost Boys really gave me a hankering to see them together, too. I like the main cast, but I'd love to see more of the seconds in command both in their own right and interacting with each other.

Glad you enjoyed the fic. It's not as fleshed out or as polished as I would have liked, but things got busy and I didn't leave myself the luxury of time. Anyway, hope it was sufficient to meet your holiday wish. :)
Dec. 23rd, 2005 07:40 pm (UTC)
Now, Radek is one of my very favourite characters, but I loathe Lorne to the very core of my beaing - and yet, I adored this.

So very sweet. And an AWESOME idea about the city. I'd love to see a follow on.
Dec. 23rd, 2005 07:55 pm (UTC)
Oh, very interesting and neat.
Dec. 23rd, 2005 09:49 pm (UTC)
Oooo! I flipped when I saw 'Lorne, Zelenka, pre-slash' because that is so one of my favorite pet pairings that no one writes. :D This is cool; I love the way you work their competence, the insight into things going around them, the mentions of other characters (yay Miko!) and the city's influence on them as well. Neat!
Dec. 23rd, 2005 10:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, I loved this! Zelenka is my favorite SGA character, and this captures him so very well. Lovely characterization, and very interesting concept---I was all YAY!

Thank you for writing this. It's definitely a keeper. :-D
Dec. 23rd, 2005 11:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, this was great! These are definitely two characters I'd like to see more interaction between, and what you've written is fabulous. I loved the growing comraderie between them and the possibility of what could be there, if they only had enough time. Very, very neat.
Dec. 24th, 2005 12:14 am (UTC)
This is lovely. I think this is the first time I've read this pairing.

Oh, and the idea of Atlantis evolving is very interesting.
Dec. 24th, 2005 12:22 am (UTC)
Oh my, but I like this. I adore Zelenka, and am growing more fond of Major Lorne with each appearance. Sentient Atlantis is one of my favorite ideas. Putting them all together was wonderful. Thank you very much!
Dec. 24th, 2005 12:36 am (UTC)
Heee! Lorne and Zelenka! Heart!! Also, Atlantis as sentient, evolving being? Nice.
Dec. 24th, 2005 12:52 am (UTC)
I've been jonesing for a Lorne & Zelenka story for ages, and this one was just perfect. I love the concept of Atlantis evolving, too, what a great idea!
Dec. 24th, 2005 01:53 am (UTC)
Wow, great idea and a lovely fic. I really enjoyed this look at the two of them!
Dec. 24th, 2005 02:54 am (UTC)
Great Zelenka voice. Good read. Thanks.
Dec. 24th, 2005 08:58 am (UTC)
I loved this story! I never thought Lorne/Zelenka before but after reading this story I can see it. :) thanks so much for sharing.
Dec. 24th, 2005 09:52 am (UTC)
:giggle: Their competency shall rule the world...
Dec. 28th, 2005 01:51 am (UTC)
Dec. 24th, 2005 10:51 pm (UTC)
This is lovely.
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( 37 comments — Leave a comment )


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