Author's Notes: In rereading the book again to prepare for this I realized just how much actually happens, so honestly this is the much abridged version. Special thanks to Jane Jordan for the quick beta. My 1st full length SGA story. I'm not completely happy with it, but it was fun to write.
Warnings:It's a free for all from the book and the movie, so spoilers for both as well as anything up to mid second season Atlantis.
Happy Birthday Wesleysangel!
The Scientist Groom or 'Cool': A re-envisioned and abridged retelling of the abridged retelling by William Goldman, of the S. Morgenstern classic.
Throughout history, bad luck and trouble have been accorded in particularly large amounts to those of extraordinary intelligence. Sometimes this was due to other people, sometimes to themselves, and often for no discernible reason at all, except the universe’s attempts to even things out a little. Despite this, extremely smart people continue to be born. Rodney McKay was one of them.
When Rodney was born, he was a bright baby. Soon he was a smart toddler, a clever pre-teen, an extremely intelligent teen and a genius adult. By the time he joined the expedition to the Pegasus galaxy, he was generally considered brilliant.
Unfortunately, along with his intelligence, Rodney was very grumpy, somewhat of a hypochondriac, abidingly fussy, and extremely rude.
“What’s a hypochondriac mom?”
“It’s someone who thinks they are sick all the time, even when they’re not.”
“Like Mrs. Cosmo?”
“Ya canna be violating Doctor/patient confidentiality like that.”
“Sweetie she calls here day and night. Last night she kept Lizzie on the phone for fifteen minutes explaining her symptoms.”
“Well, she is a doctor’s daughter.”
“Dad! Let mom finish the story.”
Anyway. People put up with Rodney because he really was the smartest person on Atlantis, and underneath everything he could be rather sweet, and surprisingly heroic. Most people dealt with Rodney either by yelling back at him, ignoring him, cursing or crying. Sometimes all at once.
But then there was Major Sheppard. Of all the people on Atlantis, Rodney probably treated the Major the worst. It was always "Go here-and run!", "Shoot this-my god! You barely winged it", and "Touch this. Touch it now!".
Unlike other people, whenever Rodney would order the Major around, he would shrug, give a half smile, and say, “ cool.” Rodney would snap back “fine!” unreasonably irritated at the Major’s laid-back attitude.
Rodney was very smart, but he wasn’t very self-aware. He didn’t realize why he snapped so much at the Major until the beautiful Chaya came along. She was instantly taken with the Major, and for once, the Major didn’t follow Rodney’s orders when he demanded that he leave the woman alone. Rodney fumed and plotted, and proved she wasn’t what she was supposed to be, but that didn’t stop the Major from running to her rescue.
This upset Rodney greatly because he and the Major took turns rescuing each other, that was the deal, and this Chaya person was interfering in that. That night, after the Major returned, Rodney showed up at his door. “I insist that you never go back there. After all she lied about one thing, who knows what else she could be lying about. Besides, I love you, if you just need some type of validation of how hot you are. God knows she probably give you some sort of space disease, plus…”
“Wait. You love me?”
“What? Is that all you heard? Yes, yes, I love you all right. Now pay attention.” Rodney didn’t get to finish speaking because the Major grabbed him and kissed him.
Laura stopped again. “What’s wrong?”
“Shut up, it’s not yuck-it’s romantic.”
“That’s enough! The both of you. We’ll just skip the kissing part for now.”
“You can always imagine what happened.”
Lizzie’s expression turned dreamy. “Cool.”
After the kiss, the Major declared his love for Rodney as well, though he of course put it in somewhat less insulting terms. If Rodney had been the smartest man in Atlantis before, he soon became the smartest man in two galaxies. It was as if love had freed his mind, and now he made leaps of intuition that left the other scientists in awe.
He and the Major were very happy together for a few weeks, though Rodney was no less rude, and the Major was no less laid back. Still, all good things must come to an end, and soon a threat they couldn’t control arrived. The Wraith were going to attack the city, and despite Rodney’s every effort, he couldn’t come up with anything to save them. The major took it upon himself to carry a bomb to the Wraith’s ship to blow it up and save the city. Unfortunately it blew him up as well. And it didn’t exactly save the city.
“All right that’s enough for now. I’ll tell you more tomorrow.”
“Wait-that’s not what happens.”
“What do you mean?”
“That’s not what happens. The Major can’t die. Him and Rodney have to save the city and live happily ever after.”
“But sometimes people don’t live happily ever after.”
“I know, but they have to!”
She leaned over and kissed him on the forehead. “Go to sleep and you’ll see tomorrow.”
The sniffling from the other bed woke her. “He’s fine you know.”
“But Mom said…”
“Don’t be such a butthead Petey. Mom isn’t going to read us a story with a sad ending. He’s the hero of the story, he’s going to be fine.”
“I thought Rodney was the hero?”
“No-Rodney’s the Princess.”
“But uncle Rodney always says he’s the hero.”
“Not in this story though. In this story Uncle John is the hero. Uncle Rodney is the damsel.”
“But they live happily ever after right” his voice was slightly anxious again.
“Right. Mom’s just teasing you. Now go to sleep.”
“Okay, where was I?”
“The Major died.” His tone was cheerful and she looked between the two of them suspiciously.
“What’s going on?”
“Nothing Mom. We just want to hear the rest of the story.”
The Major died, and the city wasn’t saved, at least not until they came up with the idea to make the Wraith believe the city had been blown up. After the dust settled, and the Wraith went away, Rodney turned his wrath on the expedition members that allowed the Major to take that ship on his suicide run. Then he locked himself in his lab. For weeks, he was a ghost to them. Only the empty trays and piles of notes about ‘everything’ that appeared outside his lab doors let them know he was still alive.
When he emerged two weeks later, Rodney McKay was the smartest person in the universe. He was the smartest man in five hundred years. If love had made him brilliant, then loss of love made him incandescent. Now his mind was not only open to everything there was, but to everything there could be and could have been. He saw ten ways they could have saved the city and subsequently the Major. That they came too late, that his greatest gift had been useless in saving his one true love only made him grumpier and ruder than ever. Among the crying and yelling and ignoring, the absence of a ‘ cool’ echoed in Rodney’s heart.
Months passed and the expedition worked to rebuild the areas of the city affected by the battle. The need for a ZPM to replenish their energy was urgent, and while the scientist were working on a temporary solution, a message arrived from their enemies, the Genii. The Genii had found a ZPM, and they were willing to trade it to the city, if, and only if the city was prepared to make an alliance with them.
Everyone was cautious before they found out the terms and outraged after, because the Genii’s request was simply this. In order to cement the alliance, they demanded that Rodney McKay marry their leader Cowen.
The military-now lead by captain Bates, objected on security terms. Dr. McKay was privy to highly classified information about both Atlantis and earth. The scientist objected because Rodney, no matter how irritating was still the smartest among them, and without his knowledge, their work would suffer. Elizabeth objected on the principle that they were not in the business of bartering humans. Surprisingly, the only one without any objections at all, was Rodney.
“Look Elizabeth, it’s not an issue. We need that ZPM. The Genii may be vicious, irrational and scientifically still climbing out of the sludge, but they aren’t completely stupid. They aren’t going to shoot the golden goose, and as long as I’m still useful to them, which considering how far advanced I am intellectually, will be about a hundred years after I’m dead, they are going to make sure nothing happens to me.”
“But Rodney, you’d be leaving Atlantis permanently.”
“It doesn’t really matter where I am if the Major’s not there. Just negotiate the best terms you can for us. Make sure that they guarantee you access to me and my work, regular visits between the two planets or whatever.” He waved a hand neglibly in the air.
Elizabeth watched sadly as he walked away.
“I don’t think Rodney and John would appreciate their place in your story tellin’.”
Laura snorted. “They’re the ones that sweep through here with heroic tales of Atlantis. The kids don’t want to hear regular fairy tales anymore. How can Snow White compete with a planet run by kids, or Sleeping Beauty seem anything but dull after the first Elizabeth’s story?”
“It’s not like I can tell them about the losses or how Rodney was tortured, or how John lost his eye. How you almost died-how we all did so many times. So earth stories get Atlantified, and this way we’re all happy.”
Carson wrapped his arms around her. “I’m sorry love. I know it’s hard for you. Despite everything John and Rodney love Atlantis, and they can’t help spreading that to the children. I can ask them to tone it down the next time they visit.”
“No. I don’t want to take that from the kids or them. It’s just –Lizzie told me the other day that she wants to be a doctor like you, so she can work on Atlantis. Even though the Wraith are gone, there’s still so much going on that the idea terrifies me.”
“I’m not the only one that left everything behind to travel to a new galaxy.”
“Well I was young and crazy.”
“Darling she’s only nine. She could change her mind a hundred times.”
“Are you going to tell us the rest of the story Uncle Rodney?”
“Yes. Your dad briefed me, so I know where your mom left off.”
“Wait, you’re going to tell them a bedtime story?”
“Look it was my sister’s favorite movie all right? I must have seen the dam...er darn thing twenty times. Besides, hello genius? I can do this.”
John squeezed into the kid-sized chair, and folded his hands on his lap in anticipation.
“You really don’t have to stay you know.”
“Oh no, I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
Rodney traveled back and forth between Atlantis and Geniia for the next few weeks while preparations for the ceremony were being made. He spent all of his time in the labs; pretty much ignoring what else was going on. Late one night he was on his way back to his quarters for a few hours sleep, when a large hand came out of nowhere. His mouth was covered while a hand expertly touched his neck, and there was blackness.
He awoke to the rustle of leaves and felt nausea start to rise as he realized he was hanging upside down, blindfolded and hands tied, off the back of a giant moving mountain.
“What the hell? Ow! Stop! Stop!”
A cavernous voice came from the thing carrying him. “He’s awake.”
“Stop damn it!”
“I’m afraid we can not just at this moment, as we are being followed.” The mellifluous voice came from somewhere to the side.
“I told you we’re not being followed! That would be inconceivable.” A grating whine this time, slightly ahead of them.
“I’m terribly sorry Kavanagh. We can not stop as the man in black behind us is rapidly hurrying in the same direction as we are.”
“Who put you up to this? Oh God! You’re not working for the Wraith are you?”
“That’s for us to know and for you to find out. Or rather not to find out, since you’ll be dead soon.” The laugh was even worse than the whine. “Teyla, you stay behind and finish off our unwanted company. Ronan, double-time it man. All that size and strength has to be worth something.”
The swaying and bouncing suddenly sped up to such a degree that Rodney wished he were still unconscious. He also wished he hadn’t had so many of the meat pastries they sent down to the lab.
Rodney lay uncomfortably on the ground, listening to the confrontation between the man in black and the Whiner. There was some mention of iocane powder (a colorless, odorless, tasteless poison) which Rodney thought was the stupidest thing he’d ever heard, and some inane ego thrust between the two.
Suddenly there was a cackle from the Whiner. “You just drank the poison! Never get between a Scientist and death.”
“Wouldn’t think of it.” Then there was a loud boom.
“Hello! What just happened?”
There were hands on him, helping him sit up. “Your friend there lost.”
“First of all, he’s not my friend, and secondly you shot him? Are you out of your mind?”
“Well, considering I’m still alive and he’s dead, I would have to say not.”
“Except you drank poison, which means he’s dead, and you’ll be dead soon, leaving me here to be devoured by whatever mutant form of bear this planet has.”
“I’m glad you’re so concerned for my well being, but let me assure you, I did not drink poison. Iocane powder is a myth.” There was a tug, and suddenly Rodney’s hands were loose. The blindfold came off, but all he saw was a tall shadowy, somewhat familiar figure in the still dark forest. “ Now come on-we need to run.”
“Wait a minute! You left out the best part.”
“What? What are you talking about now General?”
“You skipped the part where I…er the man in black beats Teyla at stick fighting.”
“Don’t you mean swords?”
“It’s Teyla-Stick fighting. And the part where he manages to kick Ronon’s butt in hand to hand combat.”
“I’m a genius General not an illusionist. I couldn’t create something that fantastic.”
He patted John’s knee. “It’s all right-you’re still really pretty.”
“Did I mention it’s a long walk back to the hotel?”
The children giggled, used to this type of back and forth between their uncles.
“Now where were we?”
Rodney hurried behind the man in black, stumbling and getting whapped in the face frequently with branches that had leaves he was sure he was allergic too. It slowly lightened, and the figure became more and more familiar. He knew that shoulder, that thigh, that hair!
He stopped dead. “John?” His presumed dead beloved stopped and turned to face him.
“Rodney, we can’t stop, we’ve got to make it to the gate before they catch up to us.”
“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. Look, it’s a long story, but I was rescued right before the bomb went off. The ship that saved me went after the Wraith. We just returned.”
“You…you complete and utter idiot! Do you know what we went through? What I went through? All this time, and you just show up doing some stupidly heroic stunt like always. When it’s not even necessary.”
“Trust me Rodney it is.”
“No. I’m sure the Genii are looking for me right this minute. When they find us we can explain what happened. I admit they’re not the most accommodating people in the world, but once they know I’m still willing to honor the contract, it’ll be fine.”
The Major shook his head. “Rodney, the Genii were the ones who had you kidnapped in the first place.”
“That doesn’t make any sense. I’m invaluable to them.”
“Some of them still blame us for what happened during the storm. This was the perfect opportunity to make sure there’d never be an alliance between Atlantis and Geniia”
“I guess that make sense in some twisted universe, but we can explain that to Kolya and Cowen. They can root out the traitors and take care of this.”
“This is stupid Rodney, don’t argue with me, let’s just go.”
But it was too late anyway. Time, and their followers caught up with them. They were soon surrounded by Genii soldiers. Rodney breathed a sigh of relief to see Kolya at the head of them.
“Dr. McKay are you alright?”
“I’m fine thanks to Major Sheppard, but we need to have a serious discussion about your security. After all I’m one of the most valuable assets you have now, you can’t just leave my fate to some knuckle dragging reject from the brute squad. From now on, I’ll need at least two of your best soldiers guarding me.”
Anger flashed in Kolya’s eyes for a moment before he nodded. “Of course you’re right. We’ll see to that as soon as we get you back.”
The Major grabbed his arm. “What? Rodney, you can’t go back, you need to come home.”
Rodney jerked away. “To what?”
“To me-to us.”
“Oh really? For how long would that be Major? How long until the next time you manage to engage in asinine and completely unnecessary heroics that will succeed in getting you killed permanently this time? I’m not grieving widower material John.”
He turned and headed back in the direction they’d come, steadfastly refusing to look behind him. If he had, he’d have seen Kolya’s smirk.
“I’ll send an escort to see you to the stargate Major.”
“I can make my own way back thank you.”
“I’m sure you can, but we’d feel better if someone one saw you on your way safely. After all, who knows how many more of these hooligans that kidnapped the Doctor are out there?”
Kolya’s smirk was returned with a lazy grin. “Cool.”
From a distance, Rodney’s back stiffened, and he paused for a long moment before continuing on.
The wedding was a quick affair, more like a business deal than a joining of two lives. Contracts were signed and witnessed, and a pact of allegiance was made.
The ‘Lanteans and the Genii cautiously celebrated, each group eyeing the other warily, though attitudes softened somewhat after drinks started to flow.
To Rodney’s great relief, Cowen had no desire for the two of them to share a marriage bed. He stayed a token amount of time at the party, and then headed for his new bedroom.
“Wait-that’s not right.”
“What’s wrong now?”
“They don’t get married.”
“Well, yes they do. Rodney agreed.”
“But…I mean does Cowen die or something so Rodney can go back to Atlantis?”
“Blood thirsty little thing aren’t you. No Cowen doesn’t die or something. I assure you he lives through the end of the story.”
“Let me finish.”
Rodney lay down. He thought of many things, and he made sure none of them were the Major. Eventually he drifted off.
He went down to the lab the next morning to work, and the Geniian scientists peered over his shoulder in disbelief.
“What is this? This does not make any sense.”
“Of course it does.” Yet when Rodney looked down, he saw that all the equations he had been writing were gibberish. He quickly scribbled down the most basic equation he knew, one he’d learned in elementary school. It made no sense.
“You’re a fraud! The great scientist! You’re nothing!”
“No! I can do this. I don’t know why this is happening.”
“I do…it’s because you gave up the greatest gift a person can receive. True Love. You had love in your hands and you threw it away.”
Rodney shook his head. He had started to sweat, and his hands were shaking. “I had to. I’d given my word…”
“Lies! You did it because you’re a coward! You’re afraid of love; afraid to lose it, so you gave it up. Tossed it away like so much garbage, and that’s all your life will be from now on, garbage!”
Rodney shook his head and backed out of the lab as all the scientists took up the shout.
He awoke in a cold sweat and looked around. His eyes lit on the calendar with relief. There was still a week before the ceremony.
“It’s like this. If I go through with this travesty and marry you, I’ll be as useless to you as those lumps you already have. Worse. Apparently some heretofore unknown, yet incredibly feeble part of my brain needs John Shepard to function well. I’m perfectly willing to continue to help you in any way I can, and Atlantis would be glad to share information with you in the spirit of the agreement.”
Cowen nodded. “I understand Rodney. I don’t like it, but an alliance cannot be forced. I’ll send my two fastest runners towards the Gate to bring the Major back. “
Rodney nodded. “Thank you.”
“But what if he won’t come?”
“I mean, from what Commander Kolya tells me, you did refuse to leave with him. He says that the Major was pretty angry the last time he saw him.”
Rodney waved that off. “Don’t worry about it. He’ll come. I may have to hear about it for the rest of my life, but he’ll come.”
“But if he doesn’t. Would you consider following through on the original plan?”
“I won’t have to, because he’ll come.”
“Ah, of course he will.” Cowen nodded. “ Well then, let’s get some one after him shall we?”
Rodney eyed him suspiciously; sure he’d caught a hint of patronizing in the other man’s voice. He shrugged it off though. It didn’t matter what any one else thought, because he knew John Sheppard, and there was no way the man would resist being able to say ‘I told you so’.
Rodney packed his things and waited. Then he went down to the labs and terrorized the scientist in the lab, and waited. He went to the food hall, and ate several more of the pastry things he was very fond of, and waited. For the next day, that was his routine. Lab, food, room-wait. Either John had already made it to the stargate and they were trying to contact Atlantis or the Major had decided to stray from the path and was probably lying somewhere with an Erasmus bug attached to his neck draining his life away, or perhaps he’d found a wandering damsel in distress and …Rodney cut off his train of thought.
All of it was stupid and useless speculation, because he knew sooner or later, the Major would be back for him.
What was actually happening was this.
“Hey, who’s telling this?”
“You seem to have a few issues with the Major, so I’m just trying to help you out here.”
“Fine, why don’t you take over this part Slick.”
What was actually happening was this. Before they got to the Stargate, the four escorts with the Major attacked him and tried to kill him. He of course was expecting this, since three major rules of Atlantean living were, never cross your heart in front of a Wraith, never get between a scientist and coffee, and never trust the Genii.
The Major put on a stunning display of physical prowess, managing to take out two of the Genii soldiers and make his way to the gate. Unfortunately he was badly wounded, and the other two caught up with him. He fought valiantly, knowing if he could just get through the gate he’d be fine. Just as he was afraid he wouldn’t succeed, help arrived from an unexpected source.
The giant and the warrior that he had encountered earlier showed up, and engaged the two remaining Genii in combat, quickly dispatching them.
The Major held a battle ready stance until the warrior laid her sticks down. “Please, we have no wish to hurt you.”
With that, he collapsed, partly in relief, since he really didn’t think he had the strength to fight them again, but mostly from blood loss and excruciating pain. The giant and the warrior rushed to his side.
“Please man in black, you can not die. Kavanagh was our leader, and since you defeated him, you must become our leader. Someone who could beat me at sticks and defeat Ronon fighting would make a magnificent leader.”
There was a less than quiet snort that interrupted the story.
“You have something you want to add?”
“Oh no. Please continue ‘magnificent leader’”
The Major gasped out the gate address, and the warrior hurriedly dialed. The giant picked up the Major gently and carried him through. Upon their arrival, the Atlanteans all rushed to his aid, but it was too late. He was dead.
John glared as Rodney laughed.
“That tends to happen to him a lot.”
Anyway. The Major was clinically dead, but fortunately Dr. Beckett was a miracle worker, and managed to revive the Major once more. The Major’s only thought was to rescue Rodney.
“Yes, your Daddy is excellent at what he does. I admit at times he’s even made me reconsider my stance on medicine as a science. Now I believe I can take it from here General.”
Rodney had given up on waiting and decided to rescue himself. Unfortunately, the two guards he had demanded were making things a little bit difficult. He was captured and taken to Kolya.
The guards were dismissed, and Kolya dropped the friendly act, and pulled out an extremely large knife. “I was hoping I wouldn’t have to do this myself. It’ll be a lot harder to make your death look like a plot by Geniian enemies if you die here.”
“You’re part of this? And this is not something I have to say very often, but I don’t understand.”
Kolya sighed. “The council came up with this plan, and instigated it despite my protests. Cowen had no choice but to agree. Don’t take it personally Dr. McKay, I like you. But you people are dangerous. For the protection of the Genii, our two people must never join.”
“Cowen is in this too? Why not just let me go then? I can assure you that we’d be more than happy to return things go status quo…although you’re not getting the ZPM back.”
“Well the problem is, these last few weeks have shown us that you’re too smart to leave in the hands of someone who is not an ally.”
“Great, I’m going to be killed by a lunatic with circular logic.”
Kolya started towards him. Rodney swallowed hard and looked around for something he could defend himself with.
Just then the door burst open and the warrior ran in, sticks at the ready.
Kolya smirked when he saw her. “Well, if it isn’t the little Emmagen all grown up.”
She moved between Rodney and Kolya. “I will not be so easy to defeat as that small girl you used to play sticks with.”
“We’ll see.” He placed the knife back on the desk, and grabbed up his sticks and they began to circle each other warily.
“Dr. McKay, if you will go down the hall, the Major is waiting.”
“Wait-you’re on our side now?”
“Yes, Ronon and I have asked to join the man…the Major’s team.”
Rodney shook his head. “It figures. Birds from the trees that man. ”
He looked uncertainly between the two of them.
“It is all right. I will be along in a minute.”
“Don’t count on it. But go ahead and run McKay, we’ll catch you eventually.”
Rodney ran down the hall, cursing the fact that the warrior chick hadn’t told him which way, so of course with his luck he went the wrong way first. He turned around and after checking a few doors, found the Major and the giant. They were looming over a tied up Cowen. Rather the giant was looming, and the major was leaning. He still wasn’t in the best of shape after his latest bout with death.
“Rodney! Would you explain to the Major and this other ‘person’ about our agreement? I’ve tried to tell them that I already promised to let you leave, but…”
“Oh please! Save it. Kolya already spilled the beans. You were planning to take until death do us part a little too literally for my taste.” He ignored the confused look on Cowen’s face.
“So, can we please get out of here now? ‘Sticks’ is fighting Kolya, and I can’t say much for her chances, so…”
“Here-hold him up.”
“What?” Rodney didn’t get to finish, before the giant had propped the Major against him and taken off.
“Um, I sort of died again.”
Shouts could be heard in the distance. There was a sound of glass breaking, gunshots, and someone screaming. Rodney ignored it all.
“You sort of died again? See! This is exactly what I was talking about. Clearly I can’t leave you alone for five minutes. I think you’re the one that needs a guard on you…”
“Rodney? Could we escape now and talk later?”
“This is the escape plan?” Rodney asked quite reasonably, “Because this may be the stupidest plan I’ve ever heard of. Exactly how are we supposed to get ou…” With that the Major pushed hard, and Rodney tumbled out of the window and was barely caught by Ronan’s waiting arms. John and Teyla jumped behind them. Fortunately the plan was better thought out than Rodney gave them credit for, because they only had a short distance to travel before a cloaked puddle jumper materialized.
Ronan and Teyla joined the Major’s team, making excellent additions. Rodney and the Major continued to snipe at each other, and the Major died several more times. Rodney even died a few, but they always came back, and somehow, between the arguing and fighting off villains, and saving the city over and over again, they managed to live happily ever after.
“Did you and Uncle John live happily ever after?”
“Sure did. Mostly, but you know how your Uncle John snores. Now go to sleep.”
John turned off the lights and they wandered into the living room, settling on the sofa.
Old bones weren’t exactly suited for making out on the sofa, but with the kids just down the hall, that was all they dared.
“Who’s bright idea was it for us to baby sit anyway?”
“I believe it was yours General.”
There was silence for a moment, as they settled into a comfortable position. Rodney leaning back against the side of the sofa, John’s head in his lap, feet propped on the other end.
Rodney knew exactly what John was asking. He flexed the hand that he’d never gotten full feeling back in. He looked down at John, who’s eye patch gave him the look of a rakish pirate. He thought of friends lost and found, of their beloved city, and of the love that sustained them still.
“Yes, we did.”