Yes, two fics in a row with "Night" in the title. Sadly, not a Halloween story, despite the timing. This is McKay h/c.
NIGHT HIGHWAY (or Why Rodney Never Went to Niagara Falls)
Disclaimer: Stargate: Atlantis and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story was created for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s), not me. Thank you to the amazing writers, producers, actors, crew and directors who bring these shows to life.
Characters: McKay, Team, McKay's family
Rating/Genre: Gen/T – pretty much pure h/c
Status/Parts: Complete in Six Parts
Status/Parts: Complete in Six Parts
A/N: I've written a flashback story, of sorts, which makes this potentially AU. I'm hoping you forgive me. Blame the long drive home I had the other night.
Description: The Jumper is stranded several light years away from the nearest Stargate. The Team knows the Apollo will find them before they run out of power, but there's a problem. Rodney's sick—very, very sick—and he's running out of time
CHAPTER ONE: THE ENDLESS NIGHT
"This is the last of it."
Rodney closed his eyes, waiting for a moment, before turning to look up at the man standing next to his chair. His neck protested the motion when it pulled at the cut, and he lessened the angle. John was leaning against the DHD console in the Puddle Jumper, his right hand outstretched. Three white pills rested on the palm.
"This is the last of the Tylenol," John said, as if Rodney needed clarification of the man's first statement. The scientist sighed softly, and uncurled his arm from the blanket cocooning him. Hand trembling slightly, he plucked the three pills up and placed them on his tongue. John then handed him a bottled water to drink them down.
Rodney grimaced at the way the pills dragged at his swollen throat, as if cutting open his neck from the inside. The water helped a little, but not much. When he handed the water bottle back, John capped it then placed it on the co-pilot's console in front of Rodney.
"For later," he said. "In case you need it."
Rodney just gave a small nod, and looked out the front.
"Auto-pilot is still working fine," John told him. "In case you're wondering. In fact, I'm getting kinda bored." John smiled and leaned forward so he could see more of Rodney's face. "I was wondering if, now that you're awake—you might want to help me teach Teyla and Ronon how to play bridge." He shrugged, "They already know all the other great card games—poker, hearts, gin, war, rummy, whist," he paused, "canasta..."
Rodney's eyebrows lifted instantly, and he turned an incredulous look at Sheppard. "Canasta?" he whispered. "You know how to play canasta?"
"I had grandparents," John shrugged. "And no siblings to distract them growing up."
Rodney quirked a smile, but it didn't last. He was just too tired. Looking away from John, he looked outside once more, eyes focusing on the never ending stars.
"So," John said after a moment, his voice full of forced cheerfulness. "Whaddya say? Feel up to a game? Bridge needs four after all."
Rodney considered answering.
And then forgot the question.
He couldn't seem to look away from the view outside the Puddle Jumper, mindlessly absorbing the endless expanse of stars and darkness stretching out before him. It just continued forever and forever, black and cold and untouchable.
At some point, Rodney had stopped seeing the stars and planets and galaxies as individual things. They'd blurred inside his brain into one massive tapestry of light and energy, of which he and the three members of his team were just one tiny, insignificant part. And some ancient, nihilistic part of his soul knew that, in the end, whatever happened to them now, whatever happened to anyone in Pegasus, or in the Milky Way, or anywhere else—the universe would just keep going. All those planets, all those stars, all those galaxies, all that life, it would all just keep spinning past without stopping.
"Okay. I'll...uh," he felt a feather light tap on his arm, "I'll check in with you later. Join us if you want to, okay?"
Rodney blinked slowly, feeling the dryness in his eyes, the sickness in his stomach, the dull throb of the headache inside his skull. Why would he want to join anything? He curled deeper into the co-pilot's chair, trying to get warmer inside the blanket around his shoulders. He just wanted to forget it all. Forget where he was.
He closed his eyes.
The car rocked sharply, and he opened his eyes, startled awake by the abrupt motion. There was crud stuck to his eyelids, and he wiped at them furiously, trying to clear his vision so he could see. Blinking quickly, he took in the soft, navy blue fuzzy fabric of the station wagon's back, frowning a little to feel some of it sticking to his face where he'd been drooling. Darn it, why did he always slide off the pillow?
Wiping at his face, which felt itchy and hot, he pushed himself up onto his arms, letting the sleeping bag slip off his shoulders. He immediately shivered, and grabbed at it to pull up over his shoulders again. It was cold in the car.
A gurgled sigh from the other side of the wagon had him peering around the pieces of luggage separating him from his sister. Being four, she needed a lot less room than he did, and she looked like a cat curled up in a little ball between the suitcases and boxes. He smiled slightly at the stuffed unicorn in her arms, the animal's soft horn crushed under her arm. Jeannie had also fallen off her pillow, but her head was pressed into the stuffed animal, so she was fine.
He sniffed, wiping his running nose on his arm, and slid himself (and the sleeping bag) forward to look up over the top of the backseat. His mom was driving now, her frizzy hair sticking out in all directions, the headlights of approaching cars putting it in stark relief. It reminded him of the mad scientist from that movie with Frankenstein (best movie ever!). His dad, from what he could tell, was sleeping in the passenger seat, judging by the way he was sitting...and snoring.
He scratched at his neck and under the collar of his pajama top, and tried to figure out where they were.
It was still night. He'd sort of hoped it'd be day by now. Dad had explained that the drive from Vancouver to Montreal, to the University where he was supposed to be getting some new job, would be long, but, to Rodney, it seemed to be going on forever. He'd worked it out—on the route Dad had mapped out (they were driving through America on a road called Interstate 90), they would travel a distance of 4,903 kilometers. At a speed of 80 kilometers an hour, it would take them 61.3 hours to get there. Of course, you had to factor in speed while in cities and on smaller roads and stops. He estimated it would take them three days (well, 70.2 hours, but he knew how to round up).
So why did it feel like longer? He didn't understand that.
Dad had given him his own map, which was neatly folded and tucked inside the comic book he'd been reading (Conan the Barbarian – he was collecting them, had been since he was 8, and even had the first one, carefully protected and sealed inside some of his other books in the U-haul trailer). Problem with pulling the map out now, though, was that it was too dark to see.
He sniffed again, then sneezed softly. Wiping his nose again on his sleeve, he looked to see if his mother had noticed. She hadn't. She was staring at the road. She looked like she'd been hypnotized, like in a magician's trick. Frowning, he peered out the window at the other cars, wanting to understand what she was seeing. Cars surrounded them on all sides, their headlights and brake lights filling the scenery. Some were faster, some slower. He tried to catch glimpses of the faces inside the car windows, people who never looked his way, and whom he quickly realized would never see again. There were other kids, sometimes, like him. He saw dogs and, at one point, a horse. Men and women, young and old, all different colors, all different races. None of them ever saw him, so he focused on the vehicles.
He knew the differences between them. He knew Fords from Chevys from Buicks, could tell you the engine size of the Lincoln Continental versus the Dodge Charger, could calculate the gas mileage of the Firebird and the Mustang off the top of his head—he knew it all. And, at first, he took delight in recognizing each one by just the shape of the brake-lights alone.
But soon, even the cars began to all look the same. They weren't individual cars anymore. Just cars. Lots and lots of cars.
He stared and stared, until the most horrible sensation he'd ever known took over his body.
He felt...hollow. But he didn't know why. His body started to shiver, and he couldn't make it stop.
He closed his eyes.
A cool hand rested on his forehead, startling him awake again. The hand stayed, and Teyla leaned into his field of vision, blocking his view of the space outside the puddle jumper. She smiled softly.
"How are you feeling?" she asked. It was strange—she sounded far away, like he had stoppers in his ears.
"Cold," he said softly. Teyla nodded, and reached into his space to pull the blanket higher up on his shoulders.
"Your fever seems to have leveled off," she said, smiling again. "About the same as yesterday."
He frowned. He'd always questioned the efficacy of the whole 'hand to the forehead' means of taking temperature. He would have said something, but something else bothered him more.
"When was yesterday?" he croaked, wincing a little at the roughness of his voice. Teyla's expression saddened, and she knelt a little so he wouldn't have to look up to see her.
"When we ran out of the Tylenol in your pack," Teyla said, her tone apologetic. "Remember?"
He didn't. Not really. He knew that they'd been using it since they discovered he'd picked up an infection from that planet, but he had thought he'd had at least 25 pills. Which meant they'd been flying for longer than he thought. If he'd had eight a day, and there were 25 pills, then...four days? Four days since they left that planet, four days since the Wraith had destroyed the orbital Stargate's power source and prevented them from going home, four days since he'd started getting sick.
"How's your throat?" Teyla asked then, peering down at his neck.
She nodded again and pulled away some of the blanket to see the wound on his neck, and the infection surrounding it. Though she tried to hide it, he saw her wince at little. It had to look bad for Teyla to wince. Of all of them, she was the best at hiding her feelings.
He was, of course, the worst.
She gamely tried to smile again when she saw the clear dismay on his face. "No, no," she assured, patting his shoulder beneath the blanket, "do not worry. It does not look worse."
"But it doesn't look better," he inferred. Teyla paused, the answer already obvious, and then, slowly, she nodded, lowering her head. For a moment, she said nothing, just stayed there, her hand on his shoulder, her head bowed.
When she looked up again, her bright, gorgeous eyes meeting his, there was nothing but certainty in her gaze.
"They will find us, Rodney," she promised. "The Apollo will find us, and they will make you better."
He said nothing.
He thought about telling her to look out the window, to see what he saw, to show her how vast space was—and how small they were. He thought about telling her that this was why it would be impossible for the Apollo to find them quickly. He thought about telling her how unlikely it was...that the Apollo would find them in time.
But he said nothing. Because, looking into her eyes—she already knew.
"Do you want to go in the back and lie down?" she asked, looking past his shoulder to where Rodney guessed John and Ronon were standing, then back to him. "You have been sitting here for a long while now."
He shook his head lightly, and returned his gaze to the window. To the outside. "I'm good," he told her.
It absorbed him soon enough, the expanse. The hollow feeling in his chest was one he knew well now, had known for most of his life. He had just forgotten what it felt like for a while.
Out of the corner of his eye, he watched as Teyla tried to not frown, but he saw it on the corners of her lips anyway. Her hand patted his shoulder once more.
"Call if you need anything," she said as she drifted away. "We'll be here."
Of course they would. They had nowhere else to go.
He closed his eyes.
Oh, and, this story is also being posted at my site and on fanfiction.net, if you like those better.
- Current Music:Gone, Gone, Gone - Robert Plant