Thaw

by Domenika Marzione

John shows up in the infirmary intent on being a force of good cheer. The trouble is, he's visiting Rodney.

"Where's Cadman?"

John blinks. "Uhm? Somewhere in Little Tripoli?"

If she's not here visiting her marines, he has no idea where she'd be without consulting the battalion calendar or a relevant officer.

Rodney, still pale from the internal bleeding and looking like he'd come out on the wrong end of a fight with a couple hundred pounds of ice, gives him a withering look undiminished by his current condition. "Aren't you supposed to know where your people are?"

It's John's turn to give the are-you-kidding-me look because, really? Coming from Rodney, who professes to not even know who all of his people are, let alone where? (Which is a lie and John has always treated it as such; Rodney knows who everyone is, what they're working on, and how far behind schedule they are.)

"Not unless they're in trouble," is what John actually tells him. "And I don't think Cadman's going to be blowing up the city this week."

Cadman's got half of her platoon on restricted duties due to their injuries, plus four marines still incarcerated in Medical. Hanzis has probably got her doing classroom work or inventories or something that doesn't involve running around or setting anything on fire.

"Well, you should order her to come down here," Rodney tells him, trying to push himself up in the hospital bed and then thinking better of it once his ribs start barking. "We need to get started on the paper and I don't want her forgetting details."

Over the years, John has gotten used to this feeling, the one that comes with playing Chutes & Ladders with Rodney's thought process. "You're leaving out the important steps again, McKay," he says. "Such as 'what paper?' and 'does Cadman know about it?' and--"

"Cadman and Istvan designed -- with my not insignificant help -- a functional and, dare I say, elegant prototype high-energy laser that will have far wider applications than getting us out of cave-ins. Especially considering the resources discovered on Warrat, it needs to be put down on paper so that it can be refined and reproduced. I would think you'd be all over this, Colonel -- a new weapon!"

"Cadman has no idea what you've got planned, does she?" John asks with a smile, ignoring the jab.

Rodney snorts. "If she doesn't think there's a paper out of this, I don't know what the hell she was doing in graduate school."

John shakes his head. "You're going to give her proper credit, right? It was her idea and her design and--"

"And considering that it's going to remain classified, it'll get her into any doctoral program she wants," Rodney replied dismissively. "I don't need to steal anyone's work. All I did was make sure she didn't incinerate the planet. She will get the bulk of the credit and she will do the bulk of the work in the writing process."

Accepting that Rodney's not going to let this drop anytime soon, John nods. "I'll talk to her CO," he promises, then pauses. "She wants to go back to school?"

Rodney gives him another look. "Do you even know who they are without their names on their shirts?"

John stops by the bedsides of the injured marines on the way out -- he was on his way to Little Tripoli anyway -- and stops by Weapons Company's headquarters. Hanzis is bemused, but readily agrees -- Cadman's not essential to what her platoon's got planned for the next couple of days and everyone in Little Tripoli is used to being borrowed by Science after misadventures.

The final tally on this particular misadventure is as of yet unknown. They've had to evacuate three people to Earth for medical treatment, for once with injuries that are completely possible within the state of Colorado. They've got to decide how much to tell the Warrati about what's on the other side of the mountains, since the knowledge is not only potentially dangerous, but it will also affect the willingness and cost of the Warrati to let Atlantis mine and siphon and explore. They've also got to figure out a plan of action for dealing with the SGC, which is already salivating over the potential for their own naquadah source, especially since Atlantis's own ability to excavate the site is hampered even if they get full Warrati permission. And, on top of all of the big-picture stuff, John's got to figure out how to get Ronon to sit for a damned examination so he can get his medical clearance. They're not going anywhere anytime soon -- Teyla's banged up, John's banged up, Rodney's at least week away from being released from Medical and probably twice that before he's even a possibility for going off-world -- but without clearance, Ronon can't even go wander the galaxy with any marines and he's a royal pain in the ass when he's got cabin fever.

When John gets to Lorne's office, Lorne isn't there - someone's got to take the missions John had scheduled and that couldn't be put off -- but he's left John hard copies of the letters of commendation for both Cadman and Sergeant Ansbacher for him to sign. There's also a printed-out warning from the SGC's G-1 office that both he and Lorne are due for their annual PFTs, with a handwritten comment from Lorne pointing out that either they're going to have to do them at oh-dark-thirty or come up with a damned good reason why they're doing the Air Force version and not the Corps's. Because while the SGC expects both of them to be fit by USAF standards for their age bracket, the marines they lead aren't bothered by such things as logic or regulations or paperwork and already give them crap for only doing one PFT a year.

John doesn't mind the Corps's required three-mile run, but he hates pull-ups and can't do very many of them. Maybe they can get a deferment until the next time they're on Earth.

He doesn't get down to Medical until the following afternoon; he can hear Cadman and Rodney bickering from outside the infirmary doors. Metzinger's on duty, sitting in a chair by the door to the clinic instead of at the space the doctors have carved out for themselves closer to the rear, which is closer to where Rodney is parked.

"Have they been like this all day?" John asks, already knowing the answer.

Metzinger rolls his eyes. "If this is what it was like when they were sharing a brain, it's a wonder McKay didn't stroke out for real."

John chuckles and heads back to see the action up close and maybe suggest that they pipe down a little for the sake of everyone else's sanity and health. But while Metzinger and Tomita look annoyed (and an annoyed Tomita is never a good thing), everyone else seems to think this is the best show in town. The marine orderlies lounging around near the nurse's station are leaning forward so they can see and the marine patients are actually not paying full attention to their stashes of Maxims and other quasi-inappropriate reading material. The scientist patients are possibly taking notes. Or keeping score.

Cadman is sitting at McKay's bedside, his table co-opted into a laptop stand, although she is currently holding a pencil and leaning on a notebook. Neither of them notice his approach, so intent on verbally drubbing the other are they.

"Children," John interrupts at a moment when they both are pausing for breath. "What have I told you about inside voices?"

They both look up at him in surprise, clearly having forgotten that a larger world exists.

"It's an academic discussion," Rodney informs him sourly. "We are simply exchanging opinions."

"Sorry, sir," Cadman says, not sounding very contrite.

"Try to keep it to a dull roar," John tells them, knowing that they won't listen -- or at least, not for long. "Remember, Nurse Tomita is cleared hot."

The arguing goes on for as long as Rodney's in the infirmary -- later, Carson will privately tell John that he thinks that the intellectual distraction proved a greater healing aid than anything any of the doctors did -- and then it presumably continues over in Science. Except John isn't a witness to it there, so he's just going by Zelenka's increasingly wild hair, which is as accurate a barometer of Science's mood as John can come up with.

Then they graduate to the blowing-things-up part of the show, which John does get to witness, since while there are many people who can (and do) tell Cadman not to blow shit up in the city, there are only two who can give Rodney the same instruction and this is one of those times when John can save Elizabeth the headache. And he probably owes her one after she finally got Ronon down to Medical for his check-up.

"How are we supposed to get a working prototype if we don't test it?" Rodney asks, annoyed.

"You run a simulation, like you do with everything else that has the potential to turn the city into rubble," John answers evenly, since this is not the first time they've had this conversation. "This is high priority, McKay, but not that high."

"But--"

"And when all of your simulations are green and you're ready to move to prototype, then you, Lieutenant Cadman, and the rest of her platoon can take a field trip," John cuts him off. "Because we don't play with high energy lasers inside the city."

He feels a little hypocritical laying down the law like this after some of his earliest shenanigans, but shooting McKay while he had a personal shield on and risking the lives of a thousand people are really not quite the same thing.

Rodney glares at him anyway.

Totally not to get away from a still-seething Rodney, John takes advantage of the fact that Ronon's cleared for action by taking him and Teyla back to Warrat. He brings Lieutenant Murray along because while he doesn't mind the occasional visits, if they're going to be working at the facility for an extended time, there are going to be many more visits than occasional and he wants to set up a lieutenant to handle the most routine of those. Sina and Alvo like Murray and are familiar with the concept of apprenticeship, so they are fine with the arrangement. Sina teases Ronon about being properly dressed this time and not needing the igloo warmer.

A couple of weeks later, when John is sitting in the sanctuary pretending to meditate, he thinks it's fortuitous that he set everything up so nicely, like he planned on getting lost like this. (In his darker moments, he thinks it's part of the reason nobody's come looking for him yet.) Of course, he hasn't missed anything and his planning has no scent of auguring about it and by the time they actually do get back to the naquadah facility, John's almost fine enough in his head that he can say that he wishes he were back in the sanctuary and almost mean it.

feed me on LJ?


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15 August, 2009stanceEndEditable -->