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New Fic: Frostbite

Frostbite
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Rated: G
Category: Sheppard POV, Carson and Rodney Friendship.
Season: Five. Takes place within The Seed - after Carson’s release from stasis, but before his release from the infirmary and before Keller is discovered in her quarters with the alien infection. That was a decent chunk of time. It was also likely early evening, when Sheppard would probably be free.
Spoilers: Sunday, Kindred I/II, The Seed.
Summary: Done properly, a thaw takes time.
Word Count: 674
Disclaimer: Just Playing In The Gateroom. Don’t Mind Me.
Note: For lemonpiefirefly, with thanks to Paul McGillion, again and for always. Happy Paulyversary, Love.

xxx

It’s good to have him back.

It’s also complicated and more than a bit weird, but mostly, it’s just good.

It’s so nice that even though I saw him just a few hours ago, I find myself at the infirmary doors again.

As I enter that room of so many memories, I hear voices, and I can’t help but smile.

One of them is Rodney’s, and the other has that Scottish lilt I never thought I’d hear again, despite Keller’s assurances that she could develop a drug to stabilize Carson’s condition.

I know I shouldn’t eavesdrop, but I also don’t want to interrupt.

And so I wait, just outside the curtain separating Carson’s bed from the rest of the world, and I listen.

Rodney laughs, and my smile grows wider. Carson tells him to shut up about something I can’t quite make out, and both of them laugh again. Then it’s quiet for a few seconds before Rodney speaks up.

“So, what’re you going to do when they let you out of here?”

Carson chuckles. “Run away forever?”

Rodney snorts. “Like you could stay away.”

I don’t need to see Carson to know he’s nodding. When he answers, his voice is wistful.

“Aye, you’re right. I’ll be back at work in no time if they’ll have me. But first, I could do with some time in the real world. You know, spend some time back on Earth if I can. Maybe go fishing.”

Carson’s last word spurs my feet forward, and I step around the curtain just in time to see Rodney’s face pale and his back stiffen. He’s eating a pudding cup, and his hand stops its motion toward his mouth for just a second before it shoves a huge bite of pudding into the abyss that is Rodney McKay. Carson’s fiddling with his IV line and somehow seems to miss this telltale sign of Rodney being upset.

But I don’t.

I also don’t miss the slight tremble in McKay’s hands as he stands, dumps his now-empty pudding cup into the trash next to Carson’s bed, and makes an excuse to leave.

“Ah. Well, that sounds lovely, Carson, but I really need to get back to the lab and… oh! Colonel Sheppard!”

Rodney looks up at me like I’m a life vest on a sinking ship and pats Carson’s leg before continuing to babble.

“I’m sure he can keep you company while you thaw out. I’ll see you later, Carson.”

With that, Rodney is gone. The slight movement of the curtain behind him and the trash are the only signs he was here at all.

Carson gives Rodney’s backside only the slightest frown for his sudden departure. Then he shrugs and looks up at me. He’s too used to the rudeness of one Doctor Rodney McKay to take much notice of it.

I smile at Carson and we make small talk.

I’d only planned on a short visit, but I have no pressing need to be anywhere else right now, so I settle in and we talk about golf and football and all sorts of other things that don’t matter for a good long while. Somehow, no one calls on my radio, and even better, fishing never comes up. Carson doesn’t seem to see any link between his earlier words and Rodney’s disappearance, and I’m grateful beyond measure.

Because while I might not be the genius McKay is, even I understand that when you’re in an Ancient stasis chamber, you aren’t exactly frozen. Still, though, it’s the best word we’ve got to describe the situation, and Lord knows the side effects are similar. You’re cold for days - and apparently, with the right word, you can even unknowingly give your best friend frostbite.

Now, I’ve had frostbite. It hurts. A lot. But it’s usually fixable, and when Rodney’s head reappears from behind the curtain a few hours later, I excuse myself. After all, I’m not the one with fishing trip baggage to unload.

And Carson’s not the only one who needs time to thaw.

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