The movie was over, and Rodney was in the bathroom when something on John’s desk caught Ronon’s eye. “What’s this?” he asked, walking over to it.
“What’s what?” John asked as Rodney emerged, wiping his hands on a towel.
“This.” Ronon picked up the tiny, perfectly-formed crystalline jumper.
“John, that’s lovely,” Teyla breathed. “Where did you get that?’
John looked at Rodney, his expression clearly asking, Well?
Rodney sighed. “I made it.”
“You made this?” Teyla asked. “Rodney, I had no idea you could work crystal so intricately!”
“Uh… it’s not crystal,” Rodney said. “It’s air.”
Ronon frowned. “Air?”
“Yeah.” Rodney held out his hand, palm up. A shimmering, crystalline shape began to form. Rodney twisted his wrist, and wrapped his hand around it – and mere seconds later, he was holding the hilt of a crystalline knife. He handed it to Ronon. “It’ll only last an hour.”
Ronon turned the weapon over and over. He set the tiny jumper down and checked the blade. He nodded in approval to find it sharp. He raised his eyes and bored them into Rodney’s. “So now you’re never unarmed, either.”
Recognising the acceptance in the statement, Rodney smiled. “You might say that.”
“Teyla?” John asked the staring woman. “Are you all right?”
She shook herself slightly, snapping out of it. “Rodney, that is… amazing!”
John grinned at him. “Told you they’d take it well.”
And Rodney all but collapsed with relief.
Others knew of Rodney’s abilities. When they started manifesting, he’d desperately needed someone to talk to – and was afraid to talk to John or the others on his team at the time.
So Carson had found himself all but baby-sitting an emerging mutant. It was in those months that they became fast friends.
Radek found out by accident – and kept it to himself. He figured when Rodney wanted them to know, they’d know.
Miko also knew, from overhearing a conversation between Rodney and Carson. She, also, kept it to herself.
When the Daedalus made its supply runs, occasionally replacement soldiers would arrive. One of the newer ones was Albert Chadwick, who did his job competently and kept to himself.
He was on Major Lorne’s team, and was shot in the leg on PLY-008. “Planet Plywood,” the team had facetiously nicknamed it. While he was in the Infirmary getting stitches, an agitated Doctor McKay had walked in.
Doctor Beckett had gone to talk to him, and Biro had finished taking care of Chadwick. When she released him, Chadwick went to the office to tell Doctor Beckett he was leaving – and overheard Doctor McKay’s big secret.
His eyes narrowed as his fists clenched. He slid out of the Infirmary and stormed down the halls.
“Damned mutants,” he spat. “They’re everywhere! Even in another galaxy I can’t get away from those murderers!” He shook his head. “And of all people -- McKay?”
Chadwick shook his head again. “He won't get away with passing for normal here,” he snarled. “He's like those monsters who murdered Bethany. And he'll pay for it. Oh, he'll pay.”
Rodney's very first sparring session with Teyla was cut dramatically short. She was teaching him how to hold and balance the sticks.
All at once, she whirled toward him and sent one of the sticks slicing at him. Rodney yelled, jerking backwards, his hand flying forward.
Teyla gasped as her hand and wrist were surrounded by a crystalline matrix. “Rodney!”
He looked absolutely stricken as he dissolved it. “Oh! Oh – Teyla, I am so, so sorry! I-I didn't think – I just reacted....”
“Rodney.” She put a hand on his shoulder. “It is all right. Truly. Your ability is remarkable. But you must learn to fight as well.”
“I know.... I just....”
“Rodney.” She lowered his forehead to hers. “Relax. It is all right.”
His eyes closed as he tried to bring his panicked breathing under control.
His radio flared to life. “Corporal Chadwick to Doctor McKay.”
Rodney blew the air out of his cheeks and touched the radio. “McKay.”
“Pardon the interruption, sir. But Colonel Sheppard asked me to tell you there's a problem on Sublevel Two.”
Rodney groaned. “What part? That’s a big sublevel!”
“Near the spare naquadah generators.”
Rolling his eyes, Rodney said. “I’m on my way.” He cut the channel and shrugged at Teyla. “Sorry.”
“It is all right. Tomorrow at this same time?”
“Do I have to?”
She smiled gently. “You do need to learn to fight well, Rodney. Perhaps Ronon—“
“Tomorrow’s good,” he said quickly. He held out the sticks.
“Take them. Practice.”
Rodney shot her a smile and headed out, touching his radio as he did. “Colonel Sheppard,” he chuckled when the reply came. “No matter how many times I hear that, I may never get used to it.”
John chuckled. “What’s up?”
“What’s going on in Sublevel Two near the spare naquadah generators?”
“What do you mean?”
Rodney froze in his tracks. “One of your grunts just called me down there – said you’d told him to get me.”
There was a pause. “Rodney, if I wanted you to do something, I’d call you myself!”
“I know – that’s why I couldn’t figure out why you’d tell him to … John, what’s going on?”
“I don’t know. Let’s find out.”
Rodney walked into the sublevel and looked around. “Chadwick?”
“Over here, Doctor!” Chadwick called.
Turning toward the sound of his voice, Rodney headed that way. “Okay, so why exactly did Colonel Sheppard tell you to—“ His voice ended in a startled “….eep?” and his eyes widened as he skidded to a stop.
Chadwick smirked, holding the gun level, pointed between Rodney’s eyes. “The radio, Doctor.”
“Give me the radio. And don’t try anything funny with it.”
Slowly, eyes on the gun, Rodney raised his hand and slid the earpiece off.
Chadwick held out his hand. “Don’t even think of using your powers in here. You do, and I’ll shoot you where you stand.”
“My what? What are you talking about?”
“Don’t play stupid, McKay. I overheard that conversation with Beckett. I know you’re not human.”
Rodney drew himself up. “Now hold on a second!”
“Shut up!” Chadwick spat. “You’ve got powers – you’re a monster like every other mutant out there!”
“I said shut up! No – on second thought, don’t. Talk to me.” He took a step closer. “Tell me what it feels like to use your power. Tell me if you get off on it. Tell me how it feels to unleash it. Tell me how it feels to bring down a building with a thought and crush the life out of a child!”
Rodney’s eyes widened. “I can’t do that – wouldn’t intentionally if I could!”
“Liar!” And Chadwick swung the gun, cracking Rodney across the mouth and crumpling him into a heap on the ground. “You’re a damned liar!”
“You’re a mutant!”
“Mutants kill kids!”
“She was only ten, McKay! We waited hours for rescue – and she died in my arms! She was only ten!”
“I’m sorry –“
“I doubt it! Mutants can’t feel remorse!”
“It wasn’t me…”
“Doesn’t matter. You’re a mutant. That’s good enough for me.” He pointed the gun again. “This is for my sister, McKay.” And he cocked it.
Rodney’s hand flashed upwards, and Chadwick screamed as gun and hand up past the wrist were encased in crystal.
“Please tell me you’ve heard enough!” Rodney yelled.
“More than enough,” John scowled as the doors opened and he, Ronon, and Lorne walked in.
Chadwick swung his encased hand toward Lorne. “Major! Look, he assaulted me—“
Lorne shook his head. “That’s not assault, Chadwick. That’s self-defense.” He suddenly punched Chadwick, sending him spinning to the ground. “That was assault.” He addressed John, though he didn’t take his eyes off Chadwick. “A request, sir?”
“Yes, Major?” John asked, one hand hauling Rodney to his feet.
Lorne glared at Chadwick. “Get this… person… out of my sight.”
“With pleasure,” Ronon said, jerking Chadwick to his feet. “McKay?” he asked, grasping Chadwick’s arm and holding it out – away from all of them.
Rodney nodded, and the crystal dissolved.
Chadwick’s hand spasmed and the gun went off. The bullet went harmlessly into the wall, and when Ronon applied pressure to his wrist, the gun fell to the floor.
Rodney looked at Chadwick. “I am sorry about your sister,” he said – and meant it.
Chadwick glared at him. “I hope you burn in hell, mutant.”
“All right, let’s go.” And Ronon dragged the struggling, cursing Chadwick away. Lorne followed, struck dumb by his own rage.
John laid a hand on Rodney’s arm. “You okay?”
“Physically,” Rodney said, meeting his eyes. “Tell me I’m human. Even if it’s a lie, tell me.”
The hand moved to grip the back of Rodney’s neck. “I won’t lie to you,” John said firmly. “You are human. You’re just – gifted. Physically as well as intellectually.”
That brought a small smile to Rodney’s face.
John bored his eyes into Rodney’s. “And you will never become the kind of monster he described.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Easy.” John grinned crookedly. “We won’t let you.”
And Rodney let out a single, soft sob as he relaxed into John’s grip.
Return to The Stargate: Atlantis page
Return to The Realm