Ficlet: Of Two Hours
Characters: Zelenka, McKay/Sheppard (but not explicit)
Rating: Teen. Pretty mild.
Disclaimer: Unfortunately none of them are mine. So sad.
Summary: Most days, Radek appreciates it, how he and Rodney can communicate in half sentences.
Notes: Unbeta'd, since I just decided today that it might be fun to try my hand at writing Zelenka fic. Apologies for any errors that might be contained herein.
After a year and a half on Atlantis, this Radek knows: when Rodney is in the lab things go *drama*. They go all CAPITAL LETTERS and italics and bold crisis and Rodney’s hands wave, wave, wave. Under Radek’s nose and Kavanagh’s—and Radek admires him for that, he does, because that is Rodney taking his life in his own hands—and he’s pretty sure that he would wave them under Miko’s nose, too, if they all didn’t think that she would bolt like a scared rabbit.
She is too good of a scientist to make her bolt.
Some mornings, though, when the circumstances of the previous evening are correct, Radek knows that he can plot and make careful plans. Knows that he’ll be able to get to the labs early, that he’ll have a full two hours before Rodney arrives and that gives him time to poke at his projects all by himself, in peace and quiet. To play with the pieces of Ancient technology that they find, or run his tests on the ZPM without Rodney trying to distract him every 2.3 seconds, asking "Did you try—?" and "Have you considered—?"
Most days, Radek appreciates it, how he and Rodney can communicate in half sentences. But occasionally not, not when Radek is good scientist and there is method, and yes, he will eventually try and consider and if he doesn’t and still cannot make it work, then he will ask Rodney’s opinion, yes?
So, circumstances conspire the night before, and Radek is in the lab early. It is empty, just Radek and workbenches and oddly beeping machines and it reminds him of his favorite times back at the university, when he would come in on Saturday and Sunday and no one else would be around. He would work in peace; he would get a lot done. Atlantis has no Saturday, no Sunday—they exist only in name, that is—so that’s what Radek’s two-hour blocks have become to him. Also, the end of the two hours feels like Monday mornings used to: his colleagues will stumble in and they’ll talk about their evenings and their projects and that, he tries to tell Rodney, is a good time for the ‘tries’ and ‘considers’ that Rodney tosses about. Then Radek will welcome it. Mostly. Usually. When he’s not wishing for just an hour more to himself. He wishes in the way that a child asks for one more hour of wakefulness before they must go to bed. It is wrong, not in his best interest, but it never hurts to ask.
Usually that is the way that Radek feels, but this morning it is different—an hour in, an hour of staring at an old ZPM and he makes a breakthrough. There is a little piece near the base, a little groove, and he remembers one of the pieces of technology they found in a room four floors down, and he thinks if they did this—
And they did that—
—and suddenly he needs for Rodney to be there with him, asking his little questions and pushing both of their minds to greater heights. Even if it means exposing his plotting and his planning and his reasons for how he knows which days he’ll be able to have his two hours, he must have Rodney now, because this is BIG and deserves italics and lots of wave, wave, wave.
So, with 55 minutes left until the other scientists usually start straggling in, Radek leaves the lab and starts walking quickly down the corridors, until he reaches Major Sheppard’s quarters.
He knocks, loudly, and even through the door he can hear a thump and a muffled swear and then the sound of someone coming to the door, and when it opens it is Major Sheppard. Of course it is, and he is wearing boxers and pulling on his T-shirt. He looks flustered, hair standing even more on end than usual, but Radek is already looking past him, searching the room for Rodney.
"Dr. Zelenka," Sheppard says slowly, deliberately, and just a tad too loudly, as if wishing his voice to carry further back into the apartment. "This is a surprise."
He must notice that Radek is not rolling his eyes with fear, and thus knows that the city is not in any danger, and that is why he does not first ask what is wrong. Or maybe he just knows that Radek would not be the designated bringer of bad news.
"McKay," Radek says without preamble. He does not see Rodney in the main room, which means there is only one place for him to be. "Tell me he is not hiding in toilet."
Major Sheppard turns a little pale. He swallows once, quickly, and Radek can hear his denials before he even opens his mouth. He tries to wave his hand at Sheppard, shushing him, so that he can get onto the important part of this conversation, but Sheppard starts in on the denials anyway. Plus, he laughs. Nervously, with a touch of hysteria added in.
"McKay? Why would he be hiding in my bathroom?"
Radek rolls his eyes. "Because he spends the night here, but that is not important—"
Sheppard, of course, interrupts him. He draws himself up, as if trying to intimidate Radek without being obvious about it; it’s impossible, though, with his hair sticking out the way it is. He says, "Wait, wait, what are you—?"
"I *know*," Radek says, trying his hand at waving the Major quiet again, and this time it works. "Is obvious. You come by lab late at night, you make googly eyes at each other, you make some excuse for Rodney to leave with you, and I have two hours of peace and quiet in lab next morning—and some other time, I must thank you for this, but not now. Now I must speak with Rodney."
He hopes that his words will provoke a reaction from Rodney, prove he is hiding in toilet, and indeed they do. The door slides open and Rodney steps out into the main room, wearing his pants and an unzipped shirt, and Radek notices the Major is glaring at him.
He says, "Rodney," but Rodney just waves his hand in Radek’s direction and says, "Well, obviously he already knows or he wouldn’t be at your door asking for me, now would he? And maybe you’d consider asking him in so that all of Atlantis doesn’t end up outside your door, hearing this conversation?"
The Major flushes, then motions for Radek to enter. He does and the door slides shut behind him. The Major says, "Now listen, Dr. Zelen—"
But now he is inside, face to face with Rodney, and there is no more time for petty small talk. There is ZPM, with piece of equipment with matching grooves, and there is no coincidence, only a connection that has not yet been discovered. He interrupts, says, "Rodney, I was doing work on the ZPM—"
That makes Rodney stand up straighter, as Radek knew that it would, and also it makes him look as if he is going to start ranting, as he does, and that will waste more time. Before Rodney can interrupt, though, Radek says, "No, no. Let me finish. There is groove at base of ZPM, yes?"
Rodney nods, deflating slightly as a thoughtful look comes over his face. Already, the proverbial wheels are turning; Radek can nearly hear them grinding together.
"Remember in the room, down there? The one with the—?" He gestures, and Rodney nods. Out of the corner of his eye, Radek can see that the Major’s starting to look amused, but Radek does not want to devote any of his brain to puzzling out why.
"There was that one machine, with the—" He sticks two fingers up in a ‘V’ like an antenna, because for some unknown reason, the machine had one. "And also—"
"The compartment," Rodney finishes for him. "With the matching— Oh my god, of course! Why didn’t we see it? Did you—?"
Radek shakes his head, because no, he didn’t try to fit them together; he knows that Rodney would never forgive him if he did, and besides, he doubts that it will be as simple as fitting two pieces of equipment together and making them both work. With the Ancients, it never is. It is better for the both of them to be there, to work together, so that when Rodney says, "Have you considered—?" Radek will be able to say, "Yes, yes, but how about—?"
Radek watches as Rodney’s hands fumble with his zipper, clumsy with excitement, and now the Major isn’t just looking amused, he is laughing. He says, "Well, I guess the two of you had better get on it then."
"Yes, yes," Rodney says, and his mind is already in the laboratory, fitting the ZPM and the machine together, Radek can tell. But then Rodney’s gaze shifts and he reaches out to squeeze the Major’s elbow, then slides his hand down to his hand, and Radek decides to give them a moment, so he starts for the door. Rodney follows just a step behind him.
Outside, in the hallway, Rodney says, "First, we should decide: do we move the ZPM to the machine, or the machine to the ZPM?"
"I think—" he says, and he waves his hand around, indicating the lab and the machine four floors down both, and he watches as Rodney nods.
"Yes, yes, exactly," Rodney says, "I agree." He continues, already speculating as to what will happen when the ZPM and the machine are joined, moving three steps forward with every possible outcome, moving the same pathways that Radek’s brain is. They are on the same page.
And no matter that Radek occasionally likes his peace and quiet, his two hours of time alone, this, he thinks, this is good.