As If From Nothing

Chapter 1: Shell shocked

Awakened by a rumbling in his stomach, Rodney rolled over and blinked in disbelief at the alarm clock on his nightstand. He had slept more than thirteen hours. Apparently he had been too tired to set the alarm. After a shower to start the day, and a quick cup of coffee, he hurried for the meeting room certain he'd missed the mission report of his team's most recent excursion. Now, that would really be a shame he thought. To his dismay, Sheppard, Teyla , and Ronon were just filing into the room looking well-rested and ready to take on another day.

"Mornin' all."

John Sheppard had just come from a hurried shower after his brisk five mile run. Dark hair was still damp and developing a mind of its own . His demeanor matched that of his teammates. Their efforts not forgotten, but chalked up to a valuable learning experience. Yeah, that was it… the school of hard knocks, live and learn. They should all be god damn geniuses by now.

"You missed breakfast McKay." Ronon's statement brought Rodney's attention back to the rumbling in his stomach.

"Ummm, yeah, wasn't hungry." And I've got a bridge to the mainland for sale.

'Well, you are now" John said as he rolled his eyes at the sheer volume of the protest emitting from Rodney's mid-section. " I'll bet you haven't been up for more than a half hour."

"Actually, thirty nine minutes exactly if you must know", Rodney shot back. He really wasn't looking forward to sitting through this meeting. It seemed such a waste of time especially since absolutely nothing had been accomplished. What he did want was to get on with his day. He planned to immerse himself in his work right after he contacted his sister Jeannie. She had left word for him that she needed help with something of great importance. Well, here it was, the chance for him to show off a little. After all, it seemed that it was her genius being showcased when they had seen each other last. Now, apparently, she needed his expertise.

He smiled slightlly at the thought as jealousy began to give way to a certain sense of familial pride. Little sis could hold her own in the science world and he knew it. Besides, curiosity was getting the better of him.

"Tic Tock, time's wasting." he said. "We're not getting any younger, except maybe Sheppard over there."

As everyone's eyes were cast in Colonel Sheppard's direction, a paper airplane sailed through the air and bumped off Teyla's forehead. John's feet were propped on the desk and he wore a cat that ate the canary grin on his face.

"What?, I'm a pilot. I fly…stuff..."

At that moment Dr. Weir breezed into the room seemingly distracted by her heavier than usual schedule. She paused only momentarily to scan the room for those present and accounted for, then began the meeting.

"Hopefully we can keep this brief today. I understand the people of MX7-998 were somewhat of a challenge?"

Taking the cue from Elizabeth, the SGA-1 team recounted their latest mission and reluctantly agreed to make another communications attempt at a later date. Hopefully they could find out just when the hell spring arrives in that neck of the galaxy before the next meet and greet in popsicle land. It would only be fair if their next assignment took them somewhere lush and warm.

The meeting, as promised, was brief. Dr. Weir thanked the team for their efforts and strode from the room, her mind already on her next order of the day.

Already halfway out the door, Rodney turned with a sarcastic smirk and said "Oh goodie, how soon can we go back? Dibs on shotgun."

"You got it "Threepio" Sheppard wise-cracked. "Wouldn't think of going without you."

"Again with the STAR WARS Sheppard? Please! Just, give it a rest already."

"Threepio?" asked Teyla. A look of annoyed confusion masking her usual serenity. She didn't think she would ever fully understand the ways of these men who had become her comrades and friends.

"It's a cultural reference to a character who is very intelligent." Sheppard stated matter of factly.

"Among other things." Ronon added from across the room.

As everyone looked at Ronon with 'How the hell do you know that?' expressions, he simply shrugged and said "STAR WARS, right? Hey, Sheppard lent me the DVD's. McKay's a lot like that See-Threepio …. smart, nervous, and hates loud noises. Oh, and always thinks somethin's wrong with him"

"Oh god, not you too"… although Rodney guessed he had it coming. Conan strikes back. … touche, he thought, as he smiled slightly. With a mock bow he shook his head and made his way for the communications room. First things first, then he would see about getting an early lunch. He was beginning to feel the familiar edgy lightheadedness of too many hours between meals preceded by sugar-laden nutritionally deficient snack foods.

Jeannie's reply came through almost as quickly as he clicked on "send" which launched his greeting. It was as if she were eagerly awaiting his missive.

"I need to see you Mer, Madison's been sick"

Well, no wonder nothing was getting done. Distractions…Madison and what's his name…Probably spending her precious time all 'Debby domestic'… baking cookies and telling bedtime stories. Kids were okay, as long as they weren't his, and they were clean,quiet, germ-free, and ...Well, maybe okay was too strong a word. This one was different though. She called him uncle Rodney and not "Mer" as his sister always did. Yep, Madison was an okay kid, maybe even more than okay. She always wanted presents though. He wasn't up on all the occasions for gift-giving, especially with kids.

He quickly typed his response: "Well, I guess if you can't figure this one out on your own, I COULD lend you my superior intellect for a day…..bribes of really good coffee accepted. Your, uh, I mean Madison's dad could watch her for the day. What's she got anyway? Chicken pox or something? Because seriously Jeannie, I'm not sure if I've had the chicken pox. And you know how miserable I get when I'm sick. I DO NOT want some kiddie sickness, especially anything with spots or itching, or even worse…. swelling of any kind…. "

The transmissions took a few moments. His mind wandered to the first time he saw his niece in four years. She looked so much like his sister, thankfully, and not so much like his brother-in-law…what WAS the guy's name? Anyway, Madison had run right up to him and given him a hug…asking where her present was of course. But, hey, she hugged him…AND she wanted to say goodbye when he left. Hm. Go figure, the kid actually liked him. There were crayon art works in his room to prove it.

His thoughts were interrupted as new text arrived. He felt like he'd been kicked. It was only three words. Three words that would change his world in more ways than he knew.

"It's leukemia, Mer." he read, as his vision seemed to swim before him.

His head began to pound. He stared at the screen, his mind unwilling to process the information upon it. He had been such and idiot. His arrogant self-absorption and biting humor had no place in this conversation. He wondered what Jeannie must be thinking right now. She seemed to be waiting for him to respond. How was he supposed to respond to news like that? What should he say? He knew a lot about a lot of things but nothing about leukemia. It sounded, well, so fatal.

He needed more. He needed to know more about the disease, the diagnosis, and what was being done. Doctors didn't know everything, not even a close call there. Maybe she'd been misdiagnosed. He pooled his ebbing mental resources and rapidly typed a reply: " I'm so sorry Jeannie. Will be there as soon as I can. PS…tell Madison I'm bringing her a present."

His work forgotten, he became a man on a mission. Carson could at least fill him in on the specifics of the disease and what could be done. He found himself wondering what the survival rates were. As much as he hated to think of his little niece as a statistic, he was mathematically inclined. Numbers, percentages, ratios, analysis… he could work with the finite, with empirical data. Medical science seemed to him to be such a 'mushy' science. Always with the "it's up to the patient now" and "we'll have to wait and see" platitudes. It was all just a cover up for "we don't know what we're doing" and "hope your insurance is paid up". He worked in more 'solid' science. Black or white, yes or no….and he was not going to take no for an answer. Tendrils of anger were working their way into his derailing train of thought as he hurried toward the infirmary.

It was the first time he had ever felt like this. Completely overwhelmed and so far out of his element. He was the answer man. The guy to go to when a problem needed to be solved. And now this. What could he possibly do?

Carson had reacted as a professional and a friend. The tremor in Rodney's voice and extreme pallor had not gone unnoticed. It was quite evident all reserves were depleted. His blood sugar levels were in the sub-basement. Quickly and gently he was guided to the nearest chair while a friendly voice admonished him to sit down before he fell down. Carson promised unlimited access to any leukemia information available in the Atlantis medical data base, and assistance with clarifying the medical 'mumbo-jumbo' as Rodney called it.

Then with a reassuring nod, a hot meal was placed before the faltering scientist. When did Carson order that?

Rodney McKay, scientist, needed to gain control of this situation. The hot meal and wealth of information would certainly boost his ability to think and function more on par with his personal expectations. The food seemed to lack its usual appeal, but was eagerly consumed as a means to an end.

"Have ye been asked to be tested for possible bone-marrow match Rodney?" Carson hesitated only slightly as he asked. If it hadn't been discussed, it may soon be. Better to be ahead of the game as far as he was concerned.

"Uh, no. …I, uh, actually Carson, I'm not sure what's going on with Madison's treatment. Jeannie didn't say much. I think she's shell-shocked."

And she isn't the only one thought Carson.



A/N: I don't own Stargate Atlantis or characters, nor is any money being made on this stuff I make up. It's just for fun…..and reviews!