Radek waited outside
the cafeteria despite McKay's insistence that he should eat and get
back to his lab without him, having wasted enough time. But
Radek couldn't shake the image of Rodney looking so vulnerable and
terrified. He could not eat until he saw that his friend was
well and also eating.
The obviously strong reaction had reminded Radek that there had been darker days in his homeland. As a boy he'd seen grown men break down when something triggered some unspeakable memory. Strong men. Whatever lay in McKay's past to frighten him so, what Kavanagh had done to remind him was inexcusable. There was no doubt in his mind now that this claustrophobia had a source. It should not matter that they had no proof. They knew. Others would believe them. Rodney was hiding it because he was ashamed and did not wish to be reminded of whatever had happened to him. Radek had seen that before, also. In fact, he had often watched the way Rodney kept all people at arms length, and wondered…
A tightening knot growing between Radek's shoulders eased when Rodney finally arrived, showered and acting as though nothing had happened. But the confident stride faltered when they entered the cafeteria to see Kavanagh speaking with Lorne, not far from the entrance.
Kavanagh wore a smug grin, "Why no, Major Lorne. I haven't seen Dr. McKay since before lunch. He was fixing a desalination tank." When he spotted McKay his grin broadened, "Oh look! There he is now."
Lorne looked to the entrance and made a straight line for McKay, while Kavanagh sauntered behind him. Zelenka scowled at the smugness that dripped off of the American.
McKay regathered his arrogance and smoothly beat Lorne to his obvious question with a tone of annoyed impatience, "Relax Major. It's fixed."
Lorne paused, frowning suspiciously, "All fixed?"
"All fixed." McKay assured.
"Oh…" Lorne seemed to let this sink in as though he'd been expecting to have to argue, or grovel. "Thank you". He eventually said with as much genuineness as he could muster given that he thought he'd been arm-twisted into submission by a conspiring science team for some unknown wrong.
"Oh you SHOULD thank him!" Kavanagh chimed in. "It's not really a task worthy of a Head of Department," His voice was sugary sweet as he stood taller, the way he did when trying to intimidate other members of the science team. He smiled directly at McKay, "We're just lucky to have a leader who doesn't 'confine' himself to his position."
Normally McKay would have easily defended himself with a smart-ass quip and arrogantly upraised chin. But when Kavanagh had put the additional emphasis on the word 'confine' Radek's friend had actually flinched. And this was too much for Radek. With only a dim awareness of his actions Radek lunged at Kavanagh and threw the much larger man against the nearest wall, pinning him with his forearm.
Kavanagh gaped in speechless, wide-eyed shock while Radek ground out his words, not caring how loud they might be in the now completely silent mess hall, "I do not have proof. But I know what you did to McKay. You are a weak-minded bully who thinks he can make people listen to him by frightening or hurting them. If I hear of you hurting anyone else here I will teach you real fear, proof or no proof." Kavanagh grew steadily paler and Radek was satisfied that his point had been made. Then, just as suddenly as he'd exploded, he calmed and became aware of hands pulling him back.
"Radek! Get a-hold of yourself!" it was Rodney. His sudden strength draining he allowed himself to be pulled away from Kavanagh.
Lorne looked stunned. Behind him, Dr Weir and Col. Sheppard stood, looking extremely displeased. Actually, Sheppard looked like he might be the next person to turn violent. And Teyla and Ronon looked ready to back him up. It was Dr. Weir who spoke, addressing Kavanagh, "What is this all about?"
Kavanagh gathered himself quickly and glowered defensively, "He just attacked me! I'm the victim here! He even said himself he has no proof!"
Weir turned to Major Lorne, who finally seemed to have recovered from his surprise, "Take him to my office for questioning. Keep him there." There was no question she meant Kavanagh. For once Kavanagh had the wisdom not to argue and left silently.
Carson appeared seemingly out of nowhere and took a firm hold of Rodney's arm, "And ye are comin' to the infirmary where we'll discuss where ye've really bin all bleedin' afternoon." He looked sternly at Radek, "And you're comin' too."
Carson steered Rodney over to one of the infirmary beds and firmly commanded, "Sit".
"Oh, very nice bed-side manner Carson! Did you learn that command while tending the sheep-dog during your internship on the FARM!" Rodney's diversionary tactics had been coming out in full force all the way to infirmary.
Carson made a show of his patience wearing thin, "Aye, ye cheeky bugger. Now sit down before I find ye a leash and muzzle!"
"Ha!" McKay cried in triumph, "I knew it! You heard him Radek! I have witnesses!"
He pointed over to Radek who was already sitting on the neighbouring bed. Radek waved McKay away in a futile, 'Keep me out of this' gesture.
"Rodney. Behave." Sheppard stood at the foot of the bed and folded his arms.
"Pfttt! What is this? Obedience training?" Rodney folded his arms huffily.
Sheppard just smiled casually with a twinkle in his eye. The look he used to tell Rodney that John didn't even need to say anything more because Rodney had just said it all.
"I hate you." Rodney narrowed his eyes and spat the words.
Carson just shook his head at the sibling-like banter and turned to Radek, "Right then, let's have a look at that hand."
"Hand?" Radek looked confused as Carson lifted up his left hand by the wrist. A wince immediately followed, "That hurts!"
"Aye lad, that's to be expected. Surprisingly, I don't think anything is broken. Let's get that on some ice, though it may take a few minutes to get it." Carson looked over to the only nurse in the room who immediately left to get the ice, and probably take a little extra time getting it.
When Radek continued to look confused, Sheppard filled in the apparent blank, "I thought for sure Kavanagh was going to pass out when you punched the wall right by his head."
Radek blinked. He did not remember punching the wall. But then neither did he remember ever being so angry before.
Carson's brows furrowed in concern, "Right, we'll be taking your blood pressure and cholesterol levels then too. Won't we? But first why don't ye tell us what this was all about."
"Carson! Priorities!" Rodney chided. This time Carson didn't have to feign holding his patience. "It doesn't MATTER what caused it. What matters is it happened and now we have to figure out how to run interference for Radek. You just know Kavanagh's going to make trouble about this."
John wasn't going to let it slide that easily, "What did he do?"
"It doesn't matter! Maybe NOTHING. We don't know. We don't have proof." Rodney spat the words.
John matched Rodney's defiant look with one of his own, "Proof of what!"
"Proof of NOTHING!" Rodney narrowed his eyes. "And you can't keep me here when there's NOTHING wrong with me!"
He made to get off the bed but Carson pinned him with a threatening glare, "You stay on that bed or I'll strap ye there. Now ye've been missing all afternoon. Ye missed the staff meeting. Then when ye finally make it t'supper you are clearly dehydrated, ye look weak as a wee bairn. Cadman told me she saw Radek takin' ye to yer quarters right before ye came to supper and that ye were shakin' like a leaf. And how that I've finally got ye here I can see minor electrical burns along yer arms!"
"And he was limping." A deep voice interjected.
"Aye! I was getting to that. Thank you!" Carson turned to see that Sheppard's new Satedan had join him.
"Yes!" Rodney spat, "Thank-you Dr. Chewbacca."
Carson turned back on Rodney, "Stop yer bleedin' avoidance. Either tell me where ye've been all afternoon or I'll have Dr. Biro do a full examination."
"Carson! She examines dead people!" Rodney's eyes bulged in alarm. "Oh alright, FINE! I got stuck in a tank. The MINOR burns are from when it shorted out. Electricity uh…" Rodney suddenly paled as he tried to explain, "It uh sort of arched around a bit. Fried my lap-top too I think. I haven't really looked at it yet."
"A tank?" John furrowed his brows, "Atlantis has tanks?"
Rodney rolled his eyes, "Not THAT kind of tank, Rambo! A desalination tank on the lower level. I was trying to repair it and got stuck inside."
"You got stuck inside." John repeated sceptically.
Rodney hated repeating himself at the best of times, "YES. That's what I said. Isn't it?"
"And you made that happen ALL by yourself." John prodded further.
When Rodney didn't answer immediately Radek did it for him, "Not all by himself. Kavanagh sealed him in and left him there." He jabbed a finger in Rodney's direction, "And you can stop saying we don't have proof. It does not matter. We know he did."
"Aye," Carson sighed and put a steadying hand on Rodney's shoulder, "I did notice what a good mood he seemed to be in when I saw him late in the afternoon. It was pretty obvious he was up to something. How long were ye in there, lad?"
It was Radek who answered again when Rodney didn't, "At least five hours. Maybe six."
Johns fists were clenched now and Radek could easily imagine smoke coming out of his ears. The Satedan at his side didn't look much happier, "Why didn't you call for help?"
Radek answered again, "The tanks are sound-proof and have some yet unidentified property that prevents radio signals from getting in or out…"
Carson felt the shoulder beneath his hand quiver as Radek continued to describe the tank and he turned back to see Rodney looking alarmingly ill, "Bloody hell. Radek stop."
Radek cut off in the middle of describing the smaller size of the tanks on the inside, compared to the outer bulk, and the fortune that there was an operational oxygen circulation system within the tanks. His eyes widened when he realized what he had done, "Sorry, Rodney."
Rodney just focussed on getting his breathing under control.
John looked at where he knew Teyla was standing just outside the infirmary door and she nodded in understanding. She would fill Dr. Weir in on the situation, while Ronon and John stayed with Rodney.
Dr. Weir sat at her desk, her expression diplomatic but deadly serious. Kavanagh leaned back casually in the chair across from her, arms folded.
"You're right Dr. Kavanagh. We can't prove that you intentionally sealed Dr. McKay in that tank and left him there. However, I think you'll find that the opinions of myself, and the other members of this expedition, matter a great deal both here and on Earth. That opinion of you, right now, is very low.
I have been given every reason to send you back to earth with a long list of personality conflicts and outright insubordination. If you were sent back to earth with that, I doubt it would possible for you to find another placement any time soon. As you've already seen."
She let that hang. She knew that he had tried to defame her leadership and even tried to demand other choice placements when returned to earth. He'd had quite an unpleasant shock when he discovered that the attempt had only succeeded in making enemies of a lot of people in high places. She'd taken pity on him and, thinking he'd learned his lesson, allowed him to return to Atlantis. "So here is what I am offering you now. You are to withdraw these formal charges against Dr. Zelenka and in return I will give you yet another chance to prove yourself. The alternative is that I send you back to earth with the Daedalus as soon as it returns."
Kavanagh stuck his tongue in his cheek and slowly withdrew his letter of complaint, "Very well… Dr Weir. Consider the complaint withdrawn."
"Good. I expect you to use this opportunity to mend some bridges. You're an intelligent man, one of the best, or you wouldn't be here. But you will be useless to us if your people skills and judgement don't improve."
Kavanagh nodded and rose to leave but Weir wasn't finished, "One more thing before you go. I'd be extra nice to the military for the next little while. I heard that slime that shot out of the showers after that mysterious power surge caused quite a few rashes in very unpleasant places." The look of horror and the nervous swallow before he left was quite satisfying.
If she had thought that Kavanagh actually intended to cause permanent harm, there would have been no room for negotiating. But the science team had no idea that the tanks were radio-proof. It was natural for there to be rivalry within the department. And Kavanagh simply had deadly poor judgement. It was enough to limit his responsibilities and keep him watched if it meant she wouldn't have to send Radek back to earth to face assault charges. Now she had to talk Rodney's team into accepting that Kavanagh was being given another chance. Then again, maybe he'd be safer at the Alpha site. Dr. Weir added reassigning Kavanagh to the Alpha site, at least temporarily, to her morning agenda tomorrow.
-Star Gate Command. Cheyenne Mountain. Earth-
General Landry looked grimly between the file on his desk and the insufferable man sitting in the seat in front of him. If the NID thought they were going to make trouble in his base on his watch, they better be up for a fight. Richard Woolsey, NID, the balding bespectacled champion of civilian supervision over top secret military programs, and general pain in the ass, wore an equally grim expression.
"Why is this only now coming to my attention?" Landry motioned to the file, "How does something like this remain absent from the SGC files of a man like Dr. Rodney McKay? Do you really expect me to believe that this is only coming to light now, given his work with Area 51 prior to this, and the Pentagon!"
Woolsey didn't even flinch at the Generals clearly rising blood-pressure, "Shocking. I know. Clearly some policies on information sharing need to be adjusted."
"Clearly," That was one thing Landry could agree with Woolsey on. He doubted there would be much more.
Then Woolsey was quick to add, "Although… it's not as if the CIA knows about the Stargate program either…"
Landry's facial expression alone was enough to suggest to Woolsey that he move on.
"Be that as it may, do you want the official explanation first?" the spectacled man offered courteously.
"Go ahead," Landry's tone indicated that the unofficial explanation had better be good and the official one better be short.
"The official explanation is that due to his young age during the time that he was aiding the CIA, all cases involving him were sealed for his own protection. This incident was tucked away with those files." He paused for effect, "The unofficial explanation is that they believed the facility which they raided to be an authorized and secret military operation, and that secreting away the files was necessary to protect both the boy and themselves from their own government."
Landry nodded and cut to the tough questions, "If they believed the experiments were authorized then why did they raid the facility?"
Woolsey looked offended that the question was even posed, "Maybe because it was the RIGHT thing to do. Maybe they recognized the need for some checks and balances and the responsibility of the government to act within the law. And maybe they just felt protective of him because he was one of there's. He'd worked for them."
"Maybe," Landry conceded. "So why is this coming up now?"
"Recent intelligence has revealed strong indications that the organization which held Dr. McKay for 2 years has been incorporated into the Trust, and what's more, that they intend to revive this project." He motioned to the file.
Landry leaned forward in a gesture of annoyance, "Well then, where's the rest of the file?"
Woolsey looked confused for a moment, "Rest of the file?"
Landry injected a tone of command into his voice, "What they were doing. What the experiment was all about. All this pretty much says was that McKay was missing, then he was found."
Woolsey rolled his eyes, "I assure you General. It's all there. At least, everything the CIA had on record. According to the records, by the time they reached the facility it was already abandoned and all the computers were destroyed. We have no idea what they were doing. The only reason we even know about this or were able to draw a connection is because the Trust has been looking for Dr. McKay. It seems a large portion of the original research was lost and they believe if they had Dr. McKay their chances of succeeding would be higher. The good news is we have no reason to believe they know anything about Atlantis, so they won't find him."
"Why are they so interested in this experiment now, after all these years?" Landry was liking the sound of this less and less.
"Whatever it was they were working on, the Trust believes it could offer a key line of defence against the Priors of the Ori. If Dr. McKay can tell us what they were working on, maybe we can determine the Trusts next move and stop them." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a letter with a presidential seal. "Now that you've been filled in, I have here a letter of authorization to travel to Atlantis and speak with Dr. McKay."
Landry took the proffered letter and began to open it, "Isn't this a little out of your remit?"
Woolsey adjust his glasses and gathered his briefcase, "Actually, it's exactly within my remit. The NID wasn't around to prevent whatever happened all those years ago. But we're here now, and we're not going to let it happen again."
Surprised at that answer, Landry looked up from the letter and seemed to consider the other man. He might just be developing a grudging respect. "The Daedalus leaves at the end of the week."
Woolsey smiled appreciatively. He knew full well that the general had connections and could have put up a fight if he'd wanted to, "Thank you General. I'm already packed."