"I want you all to visit Dr. Heightmeyer to talk to her about the 'simulations' Oberoth created in our heads," was how Elizabeth finished the post-mission meeting. She noticed McKay's expression. "She wants to see you tonight, Rodney. Dismissed."
"Oh, great." Rodney muttered to himself, his tone of voice enough evidence of what he thought about meeting Heightmeyer.
* * *
He couldn't. He just couldn't tell Dr. Heightmeyer what Oberoth had seen in his mind. What that machine had made Rodney think about. There were other things to do. Much more important things. Things he had to accomplish if the city was to stay safe.
He had to check the test results in the lab.
* * *
"We just finished changing the security codes and the self-destruct one." John Sheppard stood in the doorway to McKay's lab. Mission-critical information conveyed and an excuse for his visit created, John moved on to the real reason he was here. "Dr. Heightmeyer said you haven't been to her office."
"There were other things to do," McKay said. "More important things. I have to finish these calculations." He continued typing something into his laptop. John had meanwhile moved over to the desk where McKay was, noticing how tired Rodney looked.
"Oh, come on," John said. "It couldn't have been so bad. I told you what happened in mine."
"In which you died heroically for the rest of the expedition," McKay said sarcastically. "I got that, Colonel. You wanna be a hero. I've seen it already when we thought you were dead."
"Yeah, I know," John said, remembering how McKay had reacted when John had returned from the Daedalus last year, after almost blowing himself up with a nuke. Still, McKay had to tell someone. John had found that telling Heightmeyer about his experience had made it less real and more like a very vivid dream. It was useful, even if John hadn't liked the idea at first. If McKay didn't want to talk to Heightmeyer, maybe Rodney would tell him. "What happened in yours, McKay?"
"No," McKay said grimly.
"One of your plans didn't work and we all died?" John cajoled.
"It was worse." Now McKay finally stopped typing, turned and looked directly at Sheppard where he stood next to him. John wasn't sure he'd ever seen an expression like this on McKay's face. "Since you're so insistent on wanting to know what happened in my 'simulation'," the sarcasm was clear in McKay's voice, "I helped her to kill you! You and everyone else in Atlantis. I had to watch you die before my very eyes, while she let me live. Satisfied?!" The horror on McKay's face was clearly recognizable.
For a moment, there was complete silence between them and John Sheppard didn't quite know what to say. Finally, he said, "Who? A Wraith queen?"
"Them. The Replicators. The Asurans. Whatever you want to call them. Someone who looked like Colonel Carter walked though the Gate. She was the trap, and we all fell for it. I fell for it."
"What did she do?" John asked. He remembered having read about the Replicators and but he didn't know that their talents extended that far.
"She arrived with an elaborate story that a fleet of Replicators was due to arrive at Atlantis within two weeks. I showed her everything she asked, until she knocked me out. When I awoke, I was bound," McKay began.
For a moment, John wanted to do something to try to make it right, but he stopped himself, knowing McKay needed to say it aloud to make the demons disappear.
McKay's voice started cracking as he went on. "She made me tell her all about Atlantis, all about our defences, but she still killed you. There was nothing I could do to save you."
* * *
How could he have been so stupid as to believe that Carter was real?
She had seemed just like he remembered her, coming through the Gate, explaining that they had bundled up huge numbers of the newest naquadah reactors for her to make the trip. She arrived with the plans for that reactor and an idea to adjust their rail guns to give Atlantis a better chance to survive. It all seemed so plausible to him.
Carter reacted like he expected her to (of course she had, she was a fragment of his imagination after all). He had to wonder about the logic in his simulation, though.
Somehow Rodney had found himself back in Atlantis' Control Room, supervising the transfer of their team report about the Asurans back to Earth. A few hours later, just when he and Sheppard had been in the mess hall, eating lunch, Carter had arrived. Not that Rodney wouldn't have expected Carter to come up with a good idea (she was a brilliant woman after all, next to him), but he had to admit he wondered why he hadn't been more surprised about her arrival, just like Elizabeth had been. Since Sheppard and Dr. Weir both had agreed that it was a good idea to be prepared for the eventuality of an attack by the Asurans, Rodney had started working with Carter. He'd shown her around, and Atlantis had looked just like he knew it. Nothing had been out of the ordinary. Even Sheppard had dropped in from time to time while they'd been working, distracting him from impressing Carter with his accomplishments.
Rodney hadn't suspected anything until Carter knocked him out. When Rodney awoke and was tied up, he almost suspected her of being kinky, but that changed immediately when she walked in with Sheppard.
That was when Rodney realized something was wrong. Very wrong.
He tried to buy time, to wait for Ronon to show up, or Teyla, or Lorne, but instead, Sheppard told Rodney that they were all dead. Killed by this strange version of Samantha Carter. Rodney's worst fears had come true. Knowing that the Daedalus was due soon, trying to buy time for a rescue, he bargained for his and Sheppard's lives.
On the condition that she wouldn't kill Sheppard, he told Sam Carter what she wanted to know. She agreed to it, but the moment she gathered the information she wanted, her hand changed into a pike and she stabbed Sheppard through the heart.
Rodney never would forget the shocked look on John's face as he died.
* * *
"Ouch." John patted McKay's arm twice, then let go. "I'm still alive."
"I know," McKay said, still looking shattered. "It's just...," his hand was hovering above the area of John's heart. "Can I?"
Even though it was unusual, John couldn't see any reason why not. "Sure."
Watching the hand approach his chest and watching McKay's eyes behind it, John was amazed at the way Rodney's face changed once he felt John's heart beat under his fingers. The simulation must have had a huge emotional effect on McKay, far more than his friend was letting on. John wanted to say something profound to assure McKay that it would ease, but couldn't think of anything. Instead, he acted. "C'mere," he said and pulled McKay into a hug. For a second McKay stiffened, then John felt him relax and return the embrace.
It actually was oddly nice to hug McKay and John wondered for a moment why they hadn't done this before. McKay also smelled nice. John had never noticed that before either. The embrace lasted quite a while and John started to feel awkward. McKay didn't seem to want to let go yet. If he didn't know better, John would say that McKay liked it. "You okay, buddy?" he muttered near McKay's ear.
"I'll be fine, Colonel," McKay answered, sounding a little tired as he loosened his arms. Still standing close to one another, John tried to read the expression on McKay's face, unsure of what he should make of it. "I'll go and see Dr. Heightmeyer later on," McKay added.
"Good," John said. He'd accomplished his mission, but he couldn't just walk away. Not when Rodney was like this. Not sure how to proceed, he tried to change the topic. "You wanna go and grab dinner in the meantime? I heard the cook made coffee ice cream." John saw McKay's face lighten up a little at the prospect of it and couldn't help but smile in response.
"Okay," McKay said, turned around and headed for the door.
Amused at this reaction, John followed McKay towards the mess hall. He wanted to keep an eye on Rodney for a while longer, to make sure he really was okay.
Summary: A take on what happened in McKay's simulation during the events of "Progeny"(season three) and how he and Sheppard deal with it.