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31 October 2006 @ 10:38 am
Unfamiliar Weight (Lorne/Zelenka)  
Title: Unfamiliar Weight
Author: skandrae
Beta(e): hedgeworth
Pairing: Lorne/Zelenka
Rating: G
Spoilers: Season 2, "The Lost Boys/The Hive" (02x10-02x11)
Written For: polaris_starz, who wanted Lorne/Zelenka during McKay and Sheppard's
absence in "The Lost Boys/The Hive"
Summary: "Lorne was worried about Sheppard and his team, but not like Radek and the scientists were worried about McKay. He supposed it was the difference in their backgrounds; the major had trained for situations like this. Not many universities offered courses on 'How Not to Panic When One's Chief Scientist Vanishes' in conjunction with their PhD programmes and applications for research grants."



"What do I know about those guys?"

"Just that they tend to get all caught up in whatever it is that they're doing, and sometimes they don't check in. They forget how much you worry.
We worry, collectively, I mean."

Lorne was not having the best day.

He blamed the Jenev for it. Six hours of double-filtering everything he thought and holding his tongue while a bunch of very polite, very courteous, people listed off all the reasons why they had no intention of trading with Atlantis had taken its toll. Lorne honestly hadn't meant to trivialize Doctor Weir's concern about Sheppard's team being overdue, he really hadn't. It had sounded so much better in his head.

Peterson smirking at him from behind Doctor Weir as she gave him the skull-eye hadn't helped his mood any.

He was sure Sheppard's team had just forgotten their check-in. McKay did tend to get caught up in stuff, and Lorne had firsthand experience of how difficult it could be to get the man moving, particularly if he thought he
was on the trail of something interesting.

But there was no sign of them in the immediate vicinity of the gate, and no response over the radio. When Peterson found signs of a possible struggle in the direction Sheppard was supposed to have taken, Lorne knew his day had just gotten a lot worse.


"All right, can you give me the last few addresses dialled from that DHD?"

"Maybe
somebody can, but that's a little out of my skill-set."

"I'll send Zelenka."

"Good call."


It wasn't that the science department was incapable of functioning when McKay wasn't around.

Point of fact, it could be argued that productivity was at a higher level when McKay was offworld, focussing his sarcasm and caustic wit on his teammates and defenceless Pegasus natives, leaving the scientists to their own devices. Even Radek felt it, sometimes; a kind of quiet stillness that allowed him to look at things from different angles, try new approaches, even make mistakes.

Mistakes that McKay would tear apart upon his return, of course, belittling Radek's intelligence, thought processes, and probable ancestry, but still...even mistakes lead to better things in the future.

But it was an altogether different matter when McKay went missing.

The thing of it was, McKay was a force of nature, like a black hole or a star. He was like the sun: he'd burn you if you weren't careful, but he sustained and nourished ideas as if they were plant life. People were drawn
to him, whether they admitted it or not, whether they wanted to be or not, and Radek secretly thought that the occasional burns were worth it.

Radek could feel it starting the moment Doctor Weir asked him to check out the DHD at McKay's last known location. McKay and the others were no longer simply overdue, they were missing, and missing McKay was like a sudden eclipse, and the scientists responded accordingly. Oh, they worked hard, harder than before, even, but there was a sense of loss and quiet panic that wouldn't dissipate until McKay came barrelling into the lab, clicking and pointing and tearing people to shreds with his mind.

Radek hated going offworld, hated the way his heart would stutter and jump at every unfamiliar noise and sudden movement. But he could no more have refused Doctor Weir's request than he could have decided to breathe under
water. Staying in the labs, absorbing the increasing fear and agitation of the other scientists, was unthinkable. So he put Simpson in charge, packed up his tools, and set out to rendezvous with Major Lorne.


"Okay, so long story short?"

"It's going to be next to impossible to find Colonel Sheppard and his team based on what I can get from this DHD."


Nine times out of ten, Lorne would choose to work with Zelenka over McKay. While the past few months had given him a better appreciation of McKay's genius, he found Zelenka far easier to work with. He wasn't as prone to
grandstanding as McKay, for one thing. And, while he was noticeably nervous and agitated in offworld situations, he was totally focused on the problem at hand once he had the tech in front of him.

His habit of swearing at the machines put him in good standing with Lorne's Marines, too.

He was less hesitant than McKay to admit uncertainties. When he looked up over the DHD and said he had no way of knowing if the fifty gate addresses he'd been able to retrieve were right, Lorne knew he meant it. There was
nothing more to be done on the planet, so they headed back to Atlantis.

Lorne clapped his hand on Zelenka's shoulder before they stepped through the wormhole. "Good work, doc."

"Not good enough," Zelenka said.


"I want everyone who is cleared for offworld activity to help with
this search."


Lorne had been surprised when he showed up in the gateroom to accompany the search teams, Radek knew. If he had been in Lorne's place, he probably would have been surprised, too. He hid it well, though.

Lorne was worried about Sheppard and his team, but not like Radek and the scientists were worried about McKay. He supposed it was the difference in their backgrounds; the major had trained for situations like this. Not many universities offered courses on "How Not to Panic When One's Chief Scientist Vanishes" in conjunction with their PhD programmes and applications for research grants.

Radek envied the Major his training. His own youthful enforced-enlistment in the armed services hadn't left him with the kind of calm coolheaded-ness Lorne embodied as he broke the volunteers into teams and gave them their
assignments.

He signalled the gate tech to start dialling the first planet on Radek's list, and said, "You're with us, doc." Radek nodded, and fell into step with the marines, feeling the unfamiliar weight of his thigh-holster and
loaded pistol. They would find McKay and the others. The odds were against them, it was true, but they would find them. They had to.


"Are you insane?!"

"Yes,
yes, now that I've taken the enzyme, yes!"

Doctor Weir was waiting for them when they returned from their fourth fruitless planet. She told them how McKay had returned on his own, without Colonel Sheppard and the others. She told them of the state he was in when
he returned, and Lorne watched Zelenka's expression turn from concern to joyous relief to an even deeper worry. Weir explained how tenuous McKay's situation was, that Carson wasn't permitting any visitors, but Zelenka took
off toward the infirmary anyway.

"Major," Weir began, looking utterly exhausted.

"I'll take care of it, ma'am," he said, before dismissing his men and following after Zelenka.

He was standing just outside the infirmary door, unmoving. As Lorne got closer, he could hear McKay's voice. He was alternately pleading with and screaming at Doctor Beckett, accusing the doctor of enjoying his suffering
and conspiring to kill him. Half of what he was saying came out as gibberish, vulgar and paranoid, and Lorne didn't envy Beckett his job at all.

Zelenka still wasn't moving, just standing there with his head bowed and hands hanging limply at his sides. Lorne put a hand on his shoulder, feeling the tightly coiled muscle beneath the stiff uniform jacket. "Doc?"

Zelenka sighed deeply. "He took the enzyme," he said. "He took the enzyme to get back here, and now he is losing his mind." He looked at Lorne, and there was terror in his eyes. "If he loses his mind, what becomes of the rest of us?"

Lorne didn't really have an answer for that, so he settled for turning Zelenka away from the infirmary and leading him back to his quarters. The other man protested, but Lorne pointed out there was nothing to be done
until McKay was more coherent. He followed Zelenka into his quarters, made sure he removed his boots and lay down on the bed. Only when Zelenka took off his glasses and placed them on the night-table, grumbling about 'not being a child', did Lorne turn to leave.

He stopped at the door, looked back toward Zelenka. "Get some rest, doc," he said. "McKay's mind isn't the only one we rely on."

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Larian: Flower Fairy by i_am_the_crimelarianelensar on November 1st, 2006 08:43 am (UTC)
Awww....Lorne's just so....*nice* to Zelenka. And you can tell he's sincere too! I liked this fic, was a good easy read.