Fic: Obvious Answers (PG)
Author: R. Tom Mato
Characters: Zelenka, Campbell, McKay, Sheppard
SGA-verse or MENSA-verse: MENSA-verse
Spoilers: The Brotherhood, McKay and Mrs. Miller
Notes: Because I am so easy for a canon AU, I participated in the mensa_au challenge thinger and this was the result. It was written for ihavecake.
The first time Rod was approved for off world travel while on Atlantis was the first time Radek was in charge of the labs.
"Are you sure everything will be all right?" Rod asked worriedly even as he adjusted the straps on his vest. "I wouldn't be doing this, but they need someone who will be able to make sense of the energy readings they found and I have the most off world experience."
"All will be well," Radek assured him. It was obvious that while Rod's voice was unsure his eyes were pleading to be let through the Stargate. The man was insane in that respect; he had been all but clawing at the dialing device since Colonel Sumner had started sending out teams. "You go risk your life recklessly; I will keep the city in one piece."
Rod grinned and shrugged. "You'd like it if you tried it."
"This I highly doubt."
The other man looked about to say something else, but his radio clicked and he lifted his head a little. He turned on his mouthpiece and nodded. "Yes, I'm just making sure everything's running smoothly in the labs. I'm all ready to go; I'll be right there." He reached up and clicked it off. "That's it then," he murmured to himself, then raised his voice to be heard by the scientists in the main lab with them. "Everyone have fun while I'm gone!"
He gave a final goodbye to Radek before hurrying out of the lab. As soon as the door slid shut behind him, Radek slowly rose from his seat. All eyes turned to him and he hid a smile.
"All right," he exclaimed, barely refraining from clapping his hands together gleefully. "Status checks of all systems, now!" He added a few commands to hurry in Czech just because he knew it drove a few of the American scientists crazy to not be able to understand what was being said around them.
The room burst into productivity and he nodded approvingly. This was how a good science department ran.
It hadn't taken long for Radek to find his very own mortal enemy. They were both engineers and Radek was his boss so it was to be expected that his underlings would loathe his existence, but there were usually *reasons.* Dr. Sheppard just seemed to hate him with more than the standard level of distaste he showed to everyone else. He would disregard direct orders, saying his way worked better, and made it a point to not get his name right.
The man refused to work on anything but the Puddlejumpers (they had been Gateships for all of two days before Rod had renamed them, but he wouldn't say why) and he had a fit if any of the pilots took one of the ships up without him. There was always room for more data to be gathered, his excuse was, and during flight was the perfect time to gather it. He kept a cot in one corner of the 'Jumper Bay, but Radek had heard from a few others that he slept more often on the benches in the back of the Puddlejumpers themselves. Sheppard had to have a room *somewhere* because Radek had seen him in more than one set of clothing and he had the appearance of someone who showered at least semi-regularly.
"It is not healthy," Radek muttered one evening as he checked the maintenance logs on his laptop.
Rod glanced up from his own laptop curiously. "What isn't?"
"Dr. Sheppard's behavior."
"The 'Jumper engineer?"
Radek frowned. "He sleeps with them and is getting possessive of them. No one else must touch without his permission."
Rod nodded, sitting back in his seat. "He was the same way with the F-302s that he was working on, I heard. You have to admit that the ships are improving in leaps and bounds with him there; we haven't had any malfunctions with them in weeks."
"I am glad you approve of his dysfunction," he replied without any bite in his tone. "When you start sleeping on a cot in the 'Gateroom, I will keep Dr. Weir from sending you to Dr. Heightmeyer."
Rod laughed and the topic was dropped, both of them becoming once again absorbed in their work.
"You stupid, stupid man!" Radek yelled, clutching his left hand to his chest as he hurried out of the 'Jumper Bay. The smell of burnt flesh caught in the back of his throat and he fought not to gag.
Sheppard was a half-step behind him, screaming to Dr. Beckett over the radio. He clicked his headset off with a sharp motion. "I told you it wasn't ready!" he growled back, glaring through the thick lenses of his glasses.
"You had wires everywhere! Crystals and wires open and ready to shock anyone who happened by!"
"I was the only one who was working on it; I knew which ones were safe to touch with the power on!"
Radek made a sharp right to the transporter, Sheppard jumping in just before the doors closed. "I did not approve that experiment!" he shouted, his voice echoing in the small space. The doors opened just outside of the infirmary and he shot out. "It was too dangerous!"
"I knew what I was doing!" Sheppard shot back.
Carson met them at the door and rushed Radek in, thankfully ordering Sheppard to stay back by the doors. Finally, Radek allowed himself to calm down as much as he could. Dr. Weir, Colonel Sumner, and Rod showed up not long after that and he could hear Sheppard trying to explain what happened. His voice got louder and carried over at the end ("Never mind! I have to go fix it!") before the opening and closing of the infirmary doors signaled his departure.
Once his hand was bandaged, Carson let the three come over. Radek had been pushed back onto one of the beds, half lying down, and let his head tip back against the huge pillow. Rod, frowning now instead of wearing his usual amicable expression, spoke first.
"Carson give you something for the pain?" he asked worriedly.
He had, actually. Radek was expecting it to kick in any moment now. "Yes, soon colors will be floating around my head and I will be reduced to nonsensical babble." His comment got a half-smile out of Rod and Dr. Weir.
"What was Dr. Sheppard working on in the 'Jumper Bay?" Dr. Weir asked. "He tried to explain but wouldn't tell us anything specific."
Radek sighed. "Dr. Sheppard was experimenting with the output of the Puddlejumper's power cell. He believed they had the potential to accommodate a hyperdrive."
"I thought we'd decided that it was too dangerous to try right now," Rod exclaimed. "It would have taken at least three scientists to monitor everything and we still don't have enough information on what the 'Jumpers are capable of to even think of messing with it."
"He apparently thought he could," Colonel Sumner added. He stepped back. "I'm going to go close off the 'Jumper Bay before someone walks through and touches something they shouldn't. We had two missions that were going to be using the ships today."
Dr. Weir nodded. "We'll postpone them until we can get the experiment dissolved safely. Thank you."
The man left, leaving Dr. Weir and Rod staring at each other.
"This will require a firm punishment," she told them both. "I'll trust you two to decide on what is appropriate. Let me know when you do." She turned to Radek. "Feel better."
Then it was just him and Rod, who sighed and pulled over one of the chairs and sat in it heavily. "Well, I think letting him near the 'Jumper Bay is out of the question," Rod muttered.
"Take him with you to dissolve the experiment," Radek advised. "His system is chaotic."
Rod nodded, and then shook his head. "I don't get it; why would he go ahead and do this after we already told him it was too dangerous? We didn't say no, we just said not right now."
That was Rod, right there, Radek thought to himself. Trusting of all and confused when that trust was broken.
"He is not fond of following orders," he explained, though they both knew that even before this incident. "And he believed he could do it."
"I believe he can, too," Rod said in a rush. "Just not right *now.*"
"Ban him from the 'Jumper Bay for the next three weeks," Radek stated. "Have him help Miller and Brighton with the Zero Point Module schematics, but never let them leave him alone there. He will get bored and start to experiment outside his boundaries."
"Again," Rod groused. "Do you think that's what happened? He got bored?"
He gave a soft huff of laughter, feeling the lightness as the medication finally kicked in. "I do not claim to know the workings of Dr. Sheppard's mind, but perhaps."
Rod stood, putting his chair back to where it had been. "All right, I'll go get this mess cleaned up. Just relax, you know Carson wont let you out of here until he's satisfied you're on the road to recovery."
Radek snorted, letting his eyes close because he might as well get some rest while he could. "Is only a small burn. Second degree at worst."
He listened to the footsteps as they grew fainter until the sound of the doors opening and closing cut them off.
Carson kept him under observation for *two days.* He was allowed his laptop halfway through the first; thankfully, it wasn't his dominant hand that was damaged. Rod kept him company at meal times and on the second day, just before he was let out, even brought Sheppard for an official apology. It had started out well enough, but thirty seconds in Radek was on his feet and trying to close both of his hands around the other man's throat. Rod managed to pry them apart long enough for Sheppard to stumble back, gasping. The moment Rod loosened his grip on Radek, he leapt forward again.
He would have made it, too, if he had not been tackled with incredible force by one of the nurses. They hit the side of the bed and fell to the floor in a tangle of limbs, Radek too shocked to actually struggle so he could continue killing Sheppard. There was a lot of yelling around them, mostly Rod telling Sheppard to get out before Radek got his wits back and Carson yelling at the nurse who was still holding him down and--oh, he was yelling too.
"You really, really don't want to do that, Dr. Zelenka!" the man insisted, his hands pushing on Radek's shoulders.
"I really, really do," Radek told him. He slumped back onto the floor; now his back hurt as well. "But I will not."
Rod leaned over the bed that was next to his own, worried frown in place. "I sent him back to his quarters," he said. "Did you really have to try to strangle him?"
Carson appeared as well, grabbing the nurse under the arms and lifting him up. "We do not tackle our patients, Campbell!" he yelled, hauling the man a few feet away so that he could get to Radek and help him up--only much more carefully. "Does anything feel bruised, Radek? That was an awful fall."
Radek batted Carson's reaching hands away and brushed his indignity off. "I am fine," he insisted. There was a wet feeling under his bandages and with a sigh he lifted his hand. "But I appear to be bleeding again."
That was how he earned a second day. Rod had come to play a game of chess with him in the morning, since his laptop had been taken away so as not to break the healing skin again (he had protested that he could type just as well with one hand, to no avail). It wasn't long until his friend was called away, however--a scientist's work was never done. Radek was just preparing to sleep the sleep of the terminally bored when the nurse from yesterday came over to his bed wearing a sheepish smile.
"Sorry about yesterday," the man apologized without preamble.
Radek lifted his good hand and waved it in a dismissive gesture. "There is nothing to apologize for. I should be thanking you; no matter how much satisfaction strangling Dr. Sheppard would have given me, it was not my finest idea."
This brought a small laugh from the man. "You've got a point." He held out his hand. "Dr. Charles Campbell."
Not a nurse. Interesting. He looked a bit young to be a doctor. "Dr. Radek Zelenka." He shook the offered hand firmly.
Dr. Campbell took the seat that Rod had left by his bed and looked at the chess set. "Would you like to play a game?"
Radek carefully hid his surprise. "You are not on duty?"
Dr. Campbell shook his head. "No, not today. I figured you could use the company, since Dr. Beckett's got you under lock and key here." He smiled, his expression a little uncertain but still confident.
Radek smiled back and gestured to the bored. "I certainly could."
"Great!" The smile turned more confident. "I'm not all that good, though, so go easy on me."
Such an admission was an understatement, but Radek was bored enough that he began offering pointers and tips to keep the game going longer. He still had half a day to go.
His hand was healing quickly now that he wasn't reopening the wounds. Thankfully, Radek managed to escape Carson's clutches that third morning after swearing on his soul to follow the instructions given to him. The labs were devoid of Sheppard's presence and the previous day's reports told him that his disgruntled minion was indeed working on the ZPM schematics. There was little progress, understandably, but he hoped that would change. He hated it when projects became stagnant.
Rod celebrated his return by going off-world and leaving him to take his frustrations out on their scientists. After a morning of reminding people that work was still supposed to happen even if he was not there, Radek felt more at ease after his three-day stall. He left for lunch with something almost like a bounce in his step (though it certainly, undeniably wasn't).
The line was short, another bonus for his day, and as Radek took his place at the end he felt a hand rest on his shoulder. He turned and saw Dr. Campbell standing behind him, grinning.
"Good afternoon, Dr. Zelenka," he greeted, letting his hand slide off of Radek's shoulder.
Radek nodded. "Dr. Campbell. How are you?"
The line shuffled forward and they moved with it, picking up their trays.
"I'm doing well," Campbell replied. "Things are peaceful lately; none of the Marine teams have set anything off in the city yet this week."
Radek gave a wry smile. "Yes, I too am enjoying the quiet in the labs. Maybe it will last?"
The other man chuckled, reaching across Radek to grab a plate with a ham sandwich on it. "I doubt it."
"Ah well," he said with an overdone sigh, grabbing his own plate. "We can hope."
They got the rest of their food and Campbell followed a half-step behind Radek to take one of the empty tables.
"So, when does your shift end?" Campbell asked, glancing up quickly before focusing on his meal.
Radek raised his eyebrows, shrugging. "Perhaps around supper time. There is nothing pressing in the labs," he cringed, "so as long as no one tries to make anything explode."
Campbell chuckled. "That happens a lot," he remarked.
"Indeed it does. Why do you ask?"
Now Campbell shrugged. "I thought perhaps we could play another game of chess. You're a really good teacher. Chess really seems to be the preferred, ah, sport of the expedition at this point. There are at least four boards floating around besides yours. If you don't know how to play, there really isn't a whole lot to do around here."
Radek listened carefully and nodded. It was a good point, though; the chess boards were always in rotation--the ones whose owners rented them out, in any case. He put down the too-casual tone of Campbell's request to simple shyness as they hadn't known each other very long.
"I will bring my board here at six o'clock," he agreed. "We will eat and play."
The lessons became a part of Radek's routine and he was surprised that he was actually enjoying them. He didn't have the patience to point out the ridiculous errors his scientists made, but he could coach Charles--he would not use that inane nickname the rest of the expedition had started calling him--through strategies and even calmly correct his mistakes. Of course, Charles was much better company that the idiots he worked with.
It was one such lesson--Rod had joined them and was sitting at the end of the table, watching quietly--that his number one idiot interrupted, storming over and already waving his hands.
"You have got to be kidding me!" Sheppard yelled, never one for subtleties.
Radek sighed, giving Charles an apologetic glance before concentrating on the board. "I haven't done anything."
"Not you," Sheppard growled. "Him! He's signed me up for off world training!"
That made Radek look up and give Rod an incredulous stare. "You cannot be serious."
Rod sat back with a tight frown. "I thought it would keep him from being bored."
"Who told you I was bored?" Sheppard demanded. "I am not bored! I started a MENSA chapter here in Atlantis and there are already eight members; I'm too busy planning our first meeting to be bored!"
"Will any of the Marines even take him?" Radek asked.
"Lieutenant Ford said he would." Rod nodded. "He's good at reassuring the scientists that are skittish about off world travel."
Sheppard stomped his foot. "I am not *skittish!*"
"Dr. Sheppard, you wanted to gather data on the 'Jumpers while in orbital flight, didn't you?" Rod asked, tilting his head back so he could give the other man a level stare. "Your first mission would be on a Puddlejumper, taking scans of a planet's surface for any potential minerals we could use. Ford promised me that you'd get to perform all the tests you want on the 'Jumper as time allowed afterward."
Radek observed Sheppard and took the moment to appreciate the stunned silence his friend had sent the man into. If only it were permanent.
"Really? All the tests I want?" Sheppard murmured, eyes distant.
"Well, you can't stay out there forever, but a reasonable amount, yes," Rod agreed.
"That's...that's...I have to make a list. There's equipment I'll need and so many tests...I'll have to list them by importance to make sure I get the essential ones done." Sheppard was talking to himself by now and already starting to walk away, no doubt to the 'Jumper Bay.
Charles frowned. "He didn't even thank you."
"Thanks are not Sheppard's way," Radek explained. "We should just all be grateful that this will distract him for the next week and a half."
Rod just grinned and got up from his seat, giving Radek a pat on the shoulder. "Have fun, I'm turning in."
"Already? It's barely nine o'clock."
"Mission tomorrow, bright and early. Night, Chuck!" Rod waved and headed toward the doors.
Radek shook his head. "Yes, you go out. Have fun. Leave me with thirty dysfunctional children all day!"
Rod's laughter drifted back and was cut off as the doors closed behind him. Radek turned to Charles and rolled his eyes.
Charles grinned back. "It really is fun, going off world," he said. "There's so much to see out there."
Radek shook his head. "There is plenty here to keep my attention." He glanced down at the board and frowned. "Is it my move or yours?"
"Yours," Charles replied. "Is it going to be busy for you tomorrow?"
"Most likely. I have three projects to check the progress of tomorrow morning. I have to have a talk with Dr. Lorne about stealing Dr. Parrish's flowers to make dye for his paints. The entire botany department is ready to form a lynch mob," he murmured, sliding a pawn forward and sitting back. "And a dozen or more such complaints."
Charles gave him a wide-eyed stare, still not quite used to the goings-on of the civilians outside of the medical department. "So no lunch?"
Radek sighed. "Unfortunately, no. I will have no time to leave the lab."
"I could bring something by," he suggested, sitting up a little in his seat. He moved one of his pieces and Radek held back his cringe at the other man's current position. "That way you wouldn't have to leave."
"I do not allow anyone to eat in my labs," Radek said, shaking his head. "They are constantly bringing in snacks and I am constantly running them out."
Charles sucked his lower lip in between his bottom teeth. "Yes, but you could argue that they don't need to eat in the labs because they have time to go to the mess. I mean, if it weren't for you needing to watch over them to make sure they don't...blow up the city, you'd be able to go to the mess to eat lunch."
It could work, Radek thought, and he was going to be very hungry and irritable by the end of the day if he didn't get to eat until supper. "Nothing messy and we must keep it at one of the far tables. I will not have any projects damaged by bread crumbs."
"Of course not," Charles agreed, smiling again.
Charles made good on his offer and at noon the next day Radek waved him and the two plates he held over to the far part of the room. All delicate equipment had been moved away from the area, leaving an empty table and two chairs. A few scientists had looked up at the smell of food but Radek cut off any protests they could make. They would all get their lunch breaks, it was only decent of them to allow Radek a quick meal while he was trying to help them get their oh-so-important projects up and running.
"All right," Radek shouted, clapping his hands. "Stevens, restructure your project; I have no wish for the mainland to end up a tar pit, which is what will happen the way you are going. Dumais, it looks good but you are going to need to take it slower. As for the rest of you: I am ashamed of choosing you for this expedition. Come back when you have practical, thought out proposals. Now, I am going to have my lunch; no one is to bother me for ten minutes unless the city is going to explode in less than fifteen!"
He nodded and turned around, walking to the isolated table and throwing himself into the empty chair. Charles pushed one of the plates over to him.
"And here I thought the scientists were lying when they said you were a tyrant," he joked.
Radek smirked. "I run a very productive lab, though."
"That you do," Charles said with a nod. "Hey, Rod's team checked in about fifteen minutes ago. They made contact with the locals, apparently there's a good chance the ZPM is still on the planet."
"Ah, that would be very lucky. The last two planets did not prove successful." Radek tore into his sandwich, keeping half an eye on the lab.
"Yeah, we could contact Earth again, let them know what's going on. They're not going to like the threat of the Wraith."
"No, they will not, but the Wraith are sleeping," Radek pointed out, starting on his food.
"There are a lot of families to be contacted as well. I heard some people talking about whether or not they would go back." Charles frowned.
Radek snorted. "A stupid question with an obvious answer."
"A lot of them miss their families. Did, um, did you leave anyone behind?" Charles shoved the corner of his first sandwich half into his mouth.
"No, if there was anyone to be left behind, I would not have come," he replied, smiling slightly. "Did you?"
Charles swallowed hastily. "No, no one. Well, a couple of brothers, a sister, and a grandmother. They were happy for me."
Radek nodded, finishing off his own lunch quickly. "They will be glad to know you are safe." He wiped his hands on his pants and stood. "Thank you for lunch, but now I must go and continue the damage control."
"No problem. Do you mind if I...?" He held up his last sandwich half and raised his eyebrows.
"Of course not, just keep all crumbs away from my delicate projects," Radek said with a stern tone, but then smiled before heading to the busy center of the lab.
Radek glared at the small image coming through from the MALP on the other side of the wormhole. "What do you mean, you are staying there?"
Rod sighed. "Radek, it'll be easier if we don't have to keep 'Gating back and forth. This is an extensive search and it'll go quicker if we're focused."
"You have projects running!"
"You've got the list I sent back with who can take over which project. We'll check back every 24 hours, so if there's anything you need to consult me on you can do it then," Rod explained, then frowned. "Isn't John ready yet?"
Radek just narrowed his eyes further. It didn't matter that Rod couldn't see, it was therapeutic. "I believe they sent a Marine search team for him. He ran the moment I radioed him."
"You're kidding." Rod blinked. "He loves puzzles and this one has the best prize of all. He doesn't want Brendan or Allison to win, does he?"
There was a commotion down on the 'Gateroom floor and Radek leaned back from the screen to see Sheppard storming into the middle of the room. Two Marines were behind him and when Sheppard tried to make a run for it they managed to grab his arms.
"He is here," Radek said. "And looks about to pass out. This will be the highlight of my day."
On the screen, Rod frowned and reached down to speak into his radio. "John? What are you waiting for?"
Sheppard swatted the Marines away from him and turned on his own radio. "I'm not cleared for off world travel."
"Yes, you are. You were cleared two days ago."
"You said I'd get the mission with the Puddlejumper!" Sheppard yelled, sounding like an indignant child.
"And you will," Rod soothed, ever the spoiling parent. "I just need your help on this first. You've been through the 'Gate before; you aren't nervous, are you?"
Radek had been one of the first civilians through the Stargate when they had first come to Atlantis and had watched everyone arrive behind him. Sheppard's eyes had been squeezed shut, depending on the flow of the crowd to direct him through.
"No," Sheppard growled quietly, probably trying to retain some privacy in their conversation. His reluctance was drawing quite a crowd even though Elizabeth was trying to get them to move onto their business. "There were Marines on the other side, then. I knew where I was going."
Rod laughed. "There are Marines over here, too."
"What about the angry natives? There are always angry natives."
"They're not angry, John."
"Yet," Sheppard shot back snippily.
"I'll be right here on the other side waiting for you. Come on, this'll be fun. Think of everything we can do with a ZPM, John. I want your help on this one."
Want, not need. It wasn't the ego stroking that getting Sheppard to do anything he didn't want required, but it worked. Sheppard had something of a restrained hissy fit, arms half-flailing and stomping his foot, before he strode to the 'Gate.
He was moving quickly and when he disappeared Radek turned to the screen. There he was, tripping a little but Rod jumped up to steady him and perhaps standing too close.
"Oh my God," Sheppard's breathless exclamation carried over the MALP. "Where are we? How far is everyone from here?"
"You're not going to get lost; you're staying with me," Rod explained. "Teams of two. Good, right?"
Radek leaned forward. "If that is all, Rod?"
Rod jumped back, sending Sheppard stumbling again and this time he steadied him with just one hand on his arm. "Yes, yes, that should be it. Just follow the list and contact me only if there's an emergency. Lieutenant Ford's going to take over and finish things with Colonel Sumner; I'll talk to you tomorrow, Radek."
"Good luck," Radek called before stepping back, picking up the list that lay innocently on the table next to him. "Though I may need it more."
He left the 'Gateroom but turned the opposite way of the labs. It would be best to go and straighten things out there now, but Radek feared he would end up making a desperate trip through the Stargate to drag Rod back. He did not like being in charge. Specifically, he did not like being the person officially in charge. There were meetings to snore through and strings to pull and people to please. Rod was better at all of that. He liked working in the background; everyone knew he ran the labs but it was Rod that was official head of the science department.
A week. A *week* of meetings and strings and *people.* Not people he could yell at, even.
Radek strode into the infirmary, spotting Charles at his workstation and going over. "Have you heard the good news?" he asked, letting out a huff as he leaned against the desk.
Charles looked up as if surprised to see him there. "ZPM?"
"A trail of breadcrumbs to one, really, but yes." He nodded. "Have you heard the bad news?"
"There's bad news?" Charles asked, frowning.
"Rod has made me acting Chief Science Officer until his return, which could be as long as a *week.*" Radek folded his arms over his chest, grumbling.
"Wow," Charles deadpanned. "That's bad."
"I am going to be too busy going to meetings and fixing squabbles to do any actual science! Thank goodness he took Sheppard with him or I'd have dragged him back here myself. I am stuck with desk job and he is off playing space hero!" He muttered a few impolite but very satisfying phrases in Czech.
"That didn't sound nice," Charles commented, but was giving him a half-smile.
Radek found himself smiling back. "It wasn't. I will teach you them someday."
"Sounds great. Should I start bring lunch to your lab every day, now?"
He was smirking, but the offer sounded sincere. Radek tilted his chin up a little. "If you feel you can brave the labs, it would be appreciated. No doubt the others are thinking up their excuses to call in sick for the next week."
Charles laughed. "Can they do that?"
Radek waved a finger. "If they do, I will send them to Carson. They will wish they stayed in the labs." He let his hand drop. "When is your shift over? I am putting off going to the labs, probably until tomorrow. We could play a game of chess."
Before he could get an answer, his earpiece clicked and he could hear Dumais's voice coming through with a stream of babble.
"I am going to bed!" Radek snapped at her, ignoring the questions. They were valid ones, but nothing so important it couldn't wait. "I will assign everything tomorrow. Do not disturb me to ask stupid questions." He cut the connection and turned to Charles.
"My shift's been over, I was just looking over some stuff," the other man stated. "If you'd rather turn in, I don't mind."
Radek shook his head. "I only said that so she would leave me alone. We will have to play in my quarters, however. No one will leave us alone otherwise."
"Okay. Now?" Charles asked, already pushing his seat back.
"Gladly," Radek replied.
The week passed much more quickly than Radek had anticipated. He survived his meetings and succeeded in only having two shouting matches with Colonel Sumner. One was about allowing scientists to accompany Marine teams on city exploration missions, since they would know what they were finding more than the Marines would, and the other involved an accident off world. Something about the anthropologist on the mission accidentally offending the entire chain of villages by reading the script on one of their monuments out loud. Apparently the holy words were for the priests’ eyes only.
He had won both, but had had to give a speech to the science department about being discreet while dealing with other cultures. Just because the ones that were dead and dust hadn't had any objections back on Earth didn't mean the ones living felt the same way.
He managed a fifteen minute lunch without any crises every day and without Rod there for him to yell at, Charles became his target. The man took the position with ease and surprised Radek by actually paying attention and understanding enough to ask relevant questions that helped Radek reach his answers. They would eat supper in the mess hall before retreating from the helpless mass of questioning minions for their chess game, though a couple of times they simply sat and talked or watched some of the movies other expedition members had brought with them.
They were having one such night, lounging on Radek's bed with the laptop in front of them, when a voice came through Radek's earpiece. It was Elizabeth so he slipped it on and opened the connection.
(Radek!) came a voice that certainly wasn't Elizabeth's. (I brought you a present!)
"Rod?" Radek leaned forward, pushing the laptop away. "You found it? You actually found it?"
There was a laugh. (You doubted me?)
Laughter bubbled up inside him and Radek let it out, jumping up from the bed and yanking his shoes on. "I never doubted you for a second, my friend! I will be right there! Do not run the tests without me!"
He heard the click that meant Rod had closed the channel and turned to Charles. The other man had moved as well so he was sitting on the edge of the bed, staring up at him.
"The ZPM?" Charles asked, his own voice soft and disbelieving. "They found the ZPM?"
"Yes!" Radek laughed again. He grabbed Charles, pulling him to his feet and into a tight hug. "We have the ZPM!
The infectious laughter caught Charles and he whooped loudly in Radek's ear as he returned the hug.
"I must go run the tests," Radek stated after the stepped apart. "I will let you know when we are finished, but it may be a while."
"Even if it's partially charged--"
"We can still contact Earth, yes," he finished, nodding. They went to the door and as it opened the sound of murmuring voices could be heard throughout the hallway.
"I don't think anyone's going to be getting much sleep tonight." Charles observed.
Radek chuckled. "If anyone could sleep through this excitement, I would be surprised." He gave Charles a final pat on the shoulder before running to the transporter.
"It's fully charged!" Radek exclaimed hours later as the first signs of dawn began on the horizon. They were in the mess hall, rushing through their breakfasts.
Charles nodded, a wide smile on his face. "I heard. This is amazing; there's so much happening. There are things in the medical labs that we didn't even know turned on coming to life!"
"The same is happening in our labs. Three of the scientists passed out from excessive joy, I believe is the term Carson is using."
"Yeah, he's really annoyed about that," Charles said with a laugh. "He's going to just start handing out smelling salts pretty soon."
They finished at the same time and jumped up, walking quickly to put their bowls and trays away. There were other people in just as much of a hurry as they were; so much was happening and they were all rushing to keep up.
"Dr. Weir has scheduled to make contact with Earth this evening after, she says, we all get at least six hours of sleep," Charles told him, and Radek looked at him, surprised.
"Sleep? With all that's happening?"
Charles smirked. "Dr. Beckett has suggested sedation."
"He must catch us first." Radek snorted.
They left the mess hall, keeping to the right as other expedition members, Marines and scientists alike, darted past.
"There have also been a few resignations turned in, when the SGC clears us for sending people through," Charles added, his excitement waning a bit. "One of ours is going; Beckett couldn't convince him to stay."
Radek shook his head. "It is their choice. Like you said, some have families to think about."
"Yeah," he replied, shrugging a little. They parted ways with a quick good-bye and Charles disappeared down the hall while Radek stepped into the transporter.
He didn't allow the thought that Charles would be among those leaving to gain any form in his head.
In the end, Radek did end up with slight sedation. Carson had gotten Rod first, since the fool had thought he could talk the man out of it. Radek hadn't made it out of the room either, though he had tried. The other scientists and quite a few Marines were under the first round of sleepers as well, though the Marines hadn't put up a fight with Sumner giving the order. He heard later that Sheppard had evaded the medical team for ten minutes before Carson had threatened his Puddlejumpers. The Scot was a cruel, cruel man.
Radek woke in the infirmary sometime later. Charles was sitting by his bed and gave a small wave, smiling. He sat up quickly.
"They're going to contact Earth as soon as Dr. McKay wakes up," he said, pointing to Radek's other side where Rod still slept on his own bed. "You didn't miss anything."
Radek reached out and Charles slipped his glasses into his hand. He put them on and blinked as his vision cleared. "Good, good. I would be very angry if that had happened." He looked around the infirmary. "The city is still floating, I see."
"Everything's fine so far. It's mostly just defense systems and other day-to-day systems that we didn't realize we had. Your guys are working on cataloging them and seeing which ones are important enough to keep on."
"Some are not?" Radek asked.
Charles grinned. "Some are weird. You'll see." He leaned forward, resting his chin in his hand. "Did you know that Albertson is pregnant?"
Radek frowned. "Who?"
"Linguist. One of yours?"
"I claim no ownerships of the linguists," he stated. "That is interesting."
"She and one of the Marines. They're going back to Earth as soon as possible." Charles nodded.
"From what I heard about the celebration parties, quite a few babies will be born in nine months," Radek muttered.
"I wouldn't doubt it."
Radek scooted back so he was leaning against the headboard. "What about you?"
Charles let out a snort. "I'm not pregnant."
"Funny." Radek rolled his eyes. "I meant are you going to go back to Earth?"
There was a silence, but once Radek looked over he held Charles's gaze. After a moment, the other man smiled.
"That's a stupid question with an obvious answer, Radek," he replied. "I expected better of you."
A knot of tension unwound in Radek's shoulders. "I am not one to assume, I like definite answers."
Charles gave a slight nod of his head. "I'd be leaving someone behind, I can't go." Then he gave a sheepish grin. "If you'd like to start dating, anyway. Definitely."
"Is that not what we've been doing?" Radek asked, proud that his voice didn't betray the fact that he had had absolutely no idea this was coming.
It got a laugh out of Charles, though. "That was more pre-dating. To see if we could get along and if we were interested."
"And we are...interested." Radek gave a slow nod. Pre-dating?
"We are very interested," Charles agreed. "I wasn't sure for a while, though. All we ever did was play chess."
"You do not like chess?" Radek asked, eyebrows going up in question.
"Hate it, really," he admitted, ducking his head and glancing up at Radek. "I suck at it."
"Yes, you do."
"Thanks," Charles grumbled, but he was still smiling. "It was fun with you, but..."
"I promise to never make you play another game of chess again," Radek stated, smiling in return. He looked around the infirmary. "Is Carson here?"
Charles looked surprised at the change in topic, but shook his head. "No, he's getting the next round of people that are supposed to get some sleep. I doubt too many will argue this time."
Radek pushed back the covers and swung his legs out of the bed. There was only a slight moment of dizziness when he stood, nothing to be concerned about. Carson was careful about not overmedicating anyone.
"You can't go until he clears you," Charles told him, standing as well.
"That is not what I was going to do." Radek stepped forward and pressed his lips to Charles's, bringing his hands up to rest on the other man's shoulders. One of them made a pleased sound, perhaps both of them, and Charles's arms wrapped loosely around his waist.
“CAMPBELL!” The yell made them both jump apart and turn to see Carson standing in the doorway with a few of the other doctors. “I did not leave you here to molest my patients!”
They both gaped, trying to form a response. To their left, Rod sat up a little in his own bed, still blinking sleepily.
“I think,” Rod stated, rubbing his eyes, “that it was a consensual molestation, Carson.”
Carson’s glare thankfully shifted from them to Rod. “I don’t give a damn whether it was consensual or not; there is none of that in my infirmary.” He strode over and stood in front of Radek, tilting his chin back and flicking on a penlight he drew from his pocket. “Any dizziness?”
“No, Carson, I am fine.” Radek replied, frowning at the bright light.
“Mm, I may have to question your judgment skills,” he murmured, tucking the penlight away.
Radek blinked to clear the spots and narrowed his eyes. “Carson,” he warned.
“Aye, best wishes to both of you. Now get out of my infirmary,” Carson replied, waving a hand. Radek wasted no time. “You too, Campbell. I meant what I said about leaving such things for outside of the infirmary.”
Charles nodded, following Radek. “Got it, Dr. Beckett. We won’t let you catch us again.”
“See that you…that is not what I meant and you know it, Campbell!” Carson yelled after them.