Seperis (seperis) wrote,

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sgafic: the sleeping city

Title: The Sleeping City
Author: jenn (
Codes: McKay, Sheppard
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Glaciers. In Atlantis.
Author Notes: Prompt from ltlj--her icon! Icon is borrowed for this post. The cute sleepy one from the nap challenge. *hugs* She said it didn't have to be porny, just hurt/comforty or snuggly. We have achieved snuggly. And hurt/comforty.

ETA: Thanks to amireal for beta duty. She is made of win.

ETA 2: Icon originally created by ileliberte for the nap challenge and Naptime by ltlj.

Fourteen hours into the second power failure, and Rodney's lost feeling in his toes. Simpson hunted up sandwiches from somewhere, coffee from the Marines and their bizarre boy-scout set-up in the gateroom, now grand central station for a city that's come to the conclusion they're actually an arctic zone. Someone that eventually Rodney will convince John to kill got their ipod on portable speakers playing Christmas music. And Rodney's quarters are blocked by--of all Godforsaken things--a glacier.

A *glacier*.

This is the glamorous life of a space explorer. Television *lied*.

Thick military issue gloves, fingers peeled back, make it easy to type, but his fingertips are paying for it. Leaning against the edge of the bench, Rodney gives himself a second to hate everyone he's ever met and wonder if he'd just been a little less utterly genius, right now he could be a millionaire in Malibu.

"Rodney," Radek says from somewhere that's not right beside Rodney. Rodney pretends Radek is dead, because otherwise, he may try to kill him.

There's ice on his screen. This can't be good.

"We need to do a reboot," Rodney says slowly, because that's pretty much all they have left. The John Sheppard Laptop Repair Method, Modified (origin, slamming laptop into bed in strategic places; Rodney still has flashbacks about training Sheppard out of that)--if it doesn't work, turn it off. Also applicable on random space viruses and non-functional coffee pots.

"I think so, too." When Rodney looks around, Radek's blinking at him owlishly from behind foggy glasses. Rodney wonders vaguely how long its been since he slept. "The gateroom and adjacent rooms are warm enough for habitation. You need rest."

"It'll be like Siberia," Rodney answers, rubbing the rough wool of his glove into his cheek. It's almost enough to wake him up. "But without the hope of dying quickly. Okay, get everyone in here and let's do this. Also, get me some coffee."


Rebooting a city isn't like rebooting a ship.

Fifty scientists, ten Marines who are disgustingly underutilizing their master's degrees, ten anthropologists with engineering experience, Elizabeth, and Sheppard are given their marching orders and their positions. Teyla, Ronon, and Lorne are set on Sheppard-watch in the chair room because in a fit of brilliance, during the clearing of ice from personnel quarters, Sheppard managed to sprain his ankle and get a concussion and is still under the impression his help is needed. Elizabeth's in the gateroom to oversee shutdown of all non-essential systems with Miko and Simpson in tow. Zelenka is trying to drink the rest of the coffee.

"Give me that," Rodney snarls, taking the cup, where a thin layer of ice has formed over the liquid. Breaking it with a finger, Rodney takes a drink of what appears to be coffee grains in a small pool of almost-liquid. Chewing unhappily, he stares at his screen.

"Okay," he says, touching his headset--at least, he thinks he is. "Tertiary systems, then secondary, then primary. Five minute cool down, then start up on marked essential systems only. Unless we all want to go the way of the woolly mammoth and be found five thousand years from now to be marveled at as amazing specimens of humanity in the twenty-first century, let's not screw this up. I hope the warning that *we will die if this does not work* has penetrated. And, um, good job, people."

Zelenka looks at him over the top of his laptop. "Your speeches are the stuff of legend, McKay."

Rodney ignores him. His speeches have *meaning*.

"Shut down tertiary systems--now." Elizabeth's responsibility; Rodney watches between the Ancient consoles and his laptop as the power drops, red fading spikes going black and dormant. Taking a breath, Rodney takes another bite of coffee; he can't seriously call this drinking. "Secondary systems--now, Zelenka."

Zelenka gives him another poisonous look, but it's mostly, Rodney thinks, because of the coffee, again gaining a sheet of ice. The power goes more slowly this time, and Rodney marks off what they're missing until the last grid collapses. Taking another fortifying chew, Rodney stretches numb fingers and takes a deep breath. "Primary systems shut down--now."

The lights go out.


When Rodney was six, his parents had decided that night-lights were a crutch on which his life would never recover if not removed immediately. Thirty-something years doesn't change the instinct, though, and the windowless labs are his childhood bedroom all over again. Closing his hand over the edge of the bench, Rodney closes his eyes and takes a deep breath

Monsters aren't under the bed, don't live in closets, poke out of corners and the spaces beneath desks. The ones he faces fly in space in invisible ships, that skulk in Ancient tech waiting to attack without warning, live in the bodies of friends and colleagues carried through the gate on gurneys or in bags. His monsters follow him in daylight and at night, and today, they're all around him, a dead city in the middle of the ocean, and his mind is the only thing that stands between his people and darkness.

Rodney closes his eyes and touches his radio, pressing the code for the private channel. "Sheppard?"

There's a too-long pause, and Rodney thinks of the last time he saw him, makeshift bandage in the gateroom, slurred speech and worry buried beneath irritation. "Yeah."

Rodney licks his lips. "One minute, power comes on, chair comes on. The diagnostic--"

"Should figure out the problem and engage countermeasures to fix it, or tell you where the problem lies," Sheppard drones back, which is almost annoying enough for Rodney to forget how much he wants to crawl on top of his bench and away from the dark spaces beneath. "Got it."

Right. Okay. "If this doesn't work--"

"It will. We'll be ready."

Rodney touches the controls. "Primary systems engaged," and closes his eyes.


There's still a glacier in the personnel quarters.

Rodney knows because he went there, flashlight in hand, as the environmentals came back essential room by essential room. Ronon led the Marines to lock down doors to keep the heat concentrated near the primary systems, and Rodney keyed the security himself just in case. Elizabeth organized occupation of the three rooms nearest the gateroom for temporary occupation while Teyla assisted with the wounded. There are a lot, but Rodney reminds himself, there could have been so many more.

Rodney's not sure they've won yet, but at least they haven't lost. Leaning into his bench, he watches the carefully stable power levels, minimal effort for minimum function. They have environmentals and shields. Everything else will have to wait.


Rodney looks up blearily at the thin figure trying to lean into the propped-open doorway casually and just missing falling over on his face. Someone let him up.

"Kill Lorne," Rodney says to Zelenka, then remembers Zelenka left hours ago, herded into one of the warm rooms to sleep. "Wait. What are you doing up?"

"Walking?" Sheppard limps across the room, bracing himself on a lab bench. "Come on. Time for sleep."

Rodney looks at his screen because looking at Sheppard hurts too much. The bandage's been changed, but there's still blood around his temple, dried to his cheek, and both hands are wrapped from cold burns. He looks like shit. They all probably look like shit. "I have to--"

"Six hour cycle before we can bring more systems up, you said so yourself." Sheppard leans a little more, probably to take the weight off his leg, and settles himself against the bench like he's thinking of taking up habitation there. "Simpson's awake and can take watch until it's time. Come on."

It's easier to agree when Sheppard coughs, deep and pathetic and muffled and effective. Rodney's pretty sure he's faking it. "Right. Okay."

Sheppard hadn't bothered with a crutch because he's an idiot, so Rodney takes his weight, ridiculously light, like cellophane against his side. Limping into the hall, Rodney steadies their flashlight and looks at their ice-glazed city, glitteringly beautiful and so deadly, watching the floor for melting water. "If I'm not there--"

"It'll work," Sheppard says, breath blooming white. The arm around his shoulder tightens slightly, fingers struggling to grip through the gauze. "It's good."

The gateroom doors are opened by two Marines, and while it's not much warmer in here, it's better than the labs. Rodney gives up on letting Sheppard navigate, following the beckoning hand of Teyla from the left side, coming into a place of almost-warmth, various expedition members like tiny mounds of forgotten laundry. Ronon's passed out against the wall with sleeping bags and thermal blankets. Rodney pushes Sheppard down before he says something idiotic about security rounds, because when he opens his mouth, like now, he's almost sure to say something like that.

"Shh," Teyla says, easing John down as Rodney stretches out on a sleeping bag, so yeah, Sheppard had been saying that. Rodney burrows into the blankets and sleeping bags, getting an arm around Sheppard and pulling him the three precious cold-air-filled inches that separate them. Warmth soaks into him like a sponge as he shoves his hands beneath Sheppard's shirt and parka to skin so blissfully warm that Rodney kind of wants to cry.

"If it doesn't work," Rodney hears himself say, and then forgets the words as Sheppard rolls over, slowly and with much lost heat, one bandaged hand suddenly covering his mouth. It tastes like antiseptic, sweat, and weirdly, tea.

"It will," Sheppard murmurs, forehead pressing briefly to Rodney's. "Go to sleep, genius."

The lack of worry is--worrying. "I'm not--not always right."

He can't see it, but Rodney can feel Sheppard's cold grin against his cheek. "But usually, you are." Gauze scrapes the back of his neck as Sheppard pulls him closer, pressing Rodney's hands warm and safe between their bodies. Rodney spreads his fingers over bare skin with a little sigh. "Night."

Burying his face in Sheppard's throat, Rodney's out like their lights.
Tags: fic: stargate:atlantis 2007
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