Title
We Fought in a War
Prompt
Big Bang 2008.   Forks in the Road: Reunion - Sam isn't the one that gets chosen as leader.
Summary
This is a complete rewrite of season four (and the first two of season five apparently, but seriously, a lot of this was written before that) with the concept that Radek Zelenka was made leader of Atlantis. Some of the changes are subtle, some of them are very drastic, but mostly this is Radek's story and his struggle to balance all the things that make him who is plus his new position as leader.
Pairing
Gen
Rating
R
Word Count
70339 words
Notes
So, I would like to blame this on an assortment of different people, but really, I was writing this before any of those people got involved. Except for maybe Martin Gero. I would also like to take this time to thank my betas rilestar and el_gilliath. Seriously, they freaking rock and I love them to pieces. Alright, so, enjoy the fic.
Companion Artwork
  • We Fought in a War by Fruiturchin
  • We Fought in the War by lilbreck

There are two things Radek Zelenka knows for sure about his life.

One is he knows that he will never get married. It's not that he views himself as unattractive, or that he that he has low self-esteem. He's just a realist.

You kind of have to be when you're a scientist, he thinks.

So he's aware that he is not the most attractive man in the world, but that is not the reason he does not see himself getting married.

He's known this since he was twenty-four. He'd been kind of attractive at twenty-four, but it had clicked. Like theories and numbers and particles, elements bouncing together to create something more. He had known.

He would never get married.

That is not to say that he would never find love. He has loved many women in his life. Some more than deserving, some not. He has been in love, has known love, has known that peace. That contentment that rushes over you when you know that someone loves you, really loves you in that special unconditional way you rarely find outside of your family.

Her name had been Eva. Beautiful, sweet Eva with her long brown hair always thrown in a loose ponytail, hats to disguise her features and army garb that made her blend in with the rest of the world, with the rest of the power of the country.

He'd been lost before her, unaware of the conflicts going on around him. His father had been a stubborn man, there when the Nazis had marched on to Czechoslovakian soil. His father's younger brother had fought in the resistance against them and paid for it with his life.

He'd refused to leave, though Radek's mother had begged, had pleaded for a better life for her children— he had been too proud.

They would not take our spirit, he'd said. They would not take our hearts.

And so Radek had lived his life in huts and tents, too poor for anything else, but longing to get away. Never really knowing what he was supposed to be getting away from.

He'd heard tales of American students who would protest anything and everything, it had seemed and he never understood. Even with his father ranting about pride and nation, he had never understood.

Until Eva.

Fight, she had said, fight and be proud and show them. Show them all.

She would speak so strongly and she had loved him, really loved him with everything she had and Radek had thought, huh, this is love.

He'd never loved her as much, though.

Because he had understood, yes, but he had not felt it. He'd heard it through his father's words, but had been shielded through his mother's arms.

Feel however you feel, she had told him, love whoever you love and form your own opinions, but it is you who decides. Not your father, not me, you, she had said. Take the path that makes you happy.

And he had.

Science. Science had made him happy more than anything and while he could hear the atrocities of the Soviets, he had not been alive for the Great Purges of Stalin.

But Alexey Leonov was a name he knew well.

Eva had not understood, not fully. She had understood his passion, sure, because she had had her own. Had voiced her opinions loudly to anyone who would listen and Radek would duck his head as the university professors would frown at them.

Revolution is among us, she had said. There will be change. They will fall. We will be free soon, it's strength in numbers.

Radek could never argue about this with her. Numbers were something he knew just like people know how to breathe.

She would try and persuade him, but in the end he could not give up everything he had worked for, he could not give up science for a situation he could see no end to, hadn't been able to see an end to it at all.

He hadn't known what would happen, hadn't known how it would all change in a matter of moments and she would never look at him the same way again. He had known when she'd been there the seventeenth and the nineteenth and even the twenty-seventh, when practically all of his country had been there on the twenty-seventh, that he would loose her eventually.

And it had been while he'd been running his experiments in a lab safe from whatever revolutions went on around him that he had realized he would lose her.

The next morning, after what had felt like a decade, a new beginning for not only his country but himself, he found a few flowers on his pillows.

He hadn't needed a note; he had known.

He's known since then that he would never be his brother, stupid and married, with somewhat overweight, but generally likeable children and stupidly happy. Or like his sister, married to a man he's not sure she still loves and stuck with a monster of a child.

They all look at him like he's a crazy person. He thinks they are the crazy ones.

He has come to grips with it, though. Is okay with the fact that he'll forever be married to science as so many of his fellow scientists are.

It's one of the reasons Atlantis had been so appealing.

A group of people who understood him. He got that being married and having a family was not all there was to life, that you could be free to have fits over coming up with the solution to a problem that had puzzled many men for generations before you.

He (almost) never regrets his decision.

The second thing that Radek Zelenka knows for sure about his life is that he will never be a leader.

Atlantis is it for him and he loves the city almost as much as Rodney and Colonel Sheppard do. It is his home.

He knows Rodney will always be the Head Scientist. It's something he just knows, something that will never change unless Rodney dies and with his team looking out for him the way it does, Radek highly doubts that will happen. It is fine. He does have his own department after all and even if Rodney calls it a crap department, Radek knows that no one else has one.

But he will always have to get approval from Rodney and then, the way things had been, Elizabeth.

There is no more Elizabeth, though. Radek tries not to think about the way that makes his chest tighten. He's sure it is the same for everyone on Atlantis.

But he is not quite sure why he is back on Earth. Why he'd been asked back when Rodney and Colonel Sheppard stay back in Atlantis. He hadn't asked when General Landry had dialed Atlantis and told him to pack up whatever he would need for a small trip to Earth.

He'd said Radek would need a suit. Radek had to borrow one.

So here he sits in the board room of the SGC, the room that is rumored to be the place where Colonel Carter has come up with all her brilliant ideas. His hands sweat a little, but he thinks that's because of the fact that he's sitting in front of Mister Woolsey, the Chinese ambassador, the Russian ambassador who keeps glaring at him and General Landry who stands off to the side, grinning every once in awhile.

"Me?" He says.

He feels a bit lightheaded and Mister Woolsey smiles at him encouragingly.

"We feel you have the best qualifications."

"How?"

"You are international, born and raised in what is now referred to as the Czech Republic, yes," the Chinese ambassador asks.

He's thrown by her political correctness for a second before he nods his head.

"You've got excellent schooling. You're a brilliant scientist and both Doctors McKay and Weir speak very highly of you. Even Colonel Sheppard wrote in his report that it was your act of bravery that helped save Atlantis from certain destruction in the vast void of space," Mr. Woolsey says.

Radek bites his lip. He remembers this of course, and it hadn't seemed brave at the time. It had seemed like what needed to be done.

Rodney would have done it himself if he hadn't been too busy at the time.

"And it says you have a degree in what can be considered political science from your university. Granted it's only bachelor level, but that's more than many of your colleagues who have been considered for this position have," Mr. Woolsey says.

Radek frowns. He barely remembers those courses. He'd taken them for Eva, taken them to try and understand it all better and he'd never really understood them, but sometimes things are just memorization and intuition.

He doesn't even remember having enough credits to get a degree.

"So as you can see, you're more than qualified. And you've been living on Atlantis for three years. You've gained respect and you know your colleagues well. It won't feel too much like an imposition."

He wonders who had fought for that. If maybe Elizabeth had made it a request upon her death, or something. Or if Mister Woolsey is as genuine as he is seeming right now.

Radek doubts it. He remembers the way he had treated Elizabeth.

"All in all, you're the best candidate for the job. Will you accept it?"

He takes a deep breath. He wonders what they will all think, Rodney and Colonel Sheppard and the rest of Atlantis. He doesn't think Colonel Sheppard actually wants it, but Rodney might.

He's not even sure he wants it.

But unless the alternatives are Rodney or Colonel Sheppard, he does not think Atlantis could handle a transplant, someone new telling them how to run things with Elizabeth's disappearance weighing so heavily on all of them.

He's not sure he wants it, but he knows there probably isn't anyone else who could have it.

He nods.

"Yes, yes I will," he says.

He doesn't trust his voice enough to say more than that, but he doesn't need to. The leaders of the IOA all smile, even the Russian, and they congratulate and pat him on the shoulder. General Landry gives him a firm handshake.

"Welcome to the role of leader. I'm sure you'll do fine."

Radek wishes he were sure.

He can always take comfort in the fact that he knows one thing in his life will never change.


His first test happens the minute he steps foot back in Atlantis.

(Complete in his new uniform with the shiny red panels. The same kind that Elizabeth wore and he feels like he should be back in blue. His shirt is still the same blue and he knows it probably clashes horribly, but this is the uniform he must wear now.

This is the burden he must bear.)

It comes in the form of Ronon, after the hoopla and Rodney staring at him like he just stole his ZPM. After a speech that was pretty much, 'hi, I'm the new leader; I will try and do my best, get back to work'.

Rodney had looked at him like he appreciated it — the brevity or the awkwardness, Radek still isn't sure to this day—for all of two seconds before he had gone back to glaring at Radek.

But  then there is no time to argue about it, because Ronon comes up to him, daring plan in hand, because apparently gate travel hadn't stopped while he'd been away and Sheppard had kept sending teams through to planets.

His people are back, he says. Some of the best and they have a plan, a good plan and Sheppard's already looked over it.

"Is it sound?" Radek asks.

They all stare at him, their eyes on him and his usual place next to Rodney is being filled by Simpson. Lorne's at Sheppard's side and he's pushing papers to him and generally being as helpful as he always is during these meetings.

"It looks like we can't pass it up. Opportunity to invade a Wraith testing facility. Could be worth something."

They've talked to Ronon's people already and, by the look on Rodney's face, that tight, pinched this has bad idea written all over it in Magic Marker, and even the one on Teyla's face that says I do not believe this course of action will get us anywhere, but I am willing to go along.

They speak the words Sheppard doesn't want to, the ones that doubt and will make Ronon all the more eager to leave.

"You would need more manpower, no?"

"We've got it covered," Ronon says.

"They say it isn't that heavily guarded. That we can take it out no problem," Sheppard says.

Radek doesn't ask if Sheppard believes it. He can see that Sheppard doesn't, not really.

"You would have to check in at the hour. Just to be sure."

They must be the right words because Sheppard nods.

"Right."

"And if you are even minutes late, I send in another team."

Sheppard nods again and Lorne smiles at him encouragingly.

It's good to know he has supporters.

"Sounds fair."

Oddly enough, Rodney seems to know better than to object and Teyla probably just doesn't want to. Stirring the pot more at this moment isn't something anyone is feeling up to.

They'll all leave that to him.

They scatter out of the room, Sheppard, Teyla and Rodney to get ready for the mission, Simpson and Lorne to do whatever duties it is they have as second in commands. Ronon stays. He looks him over and Radek's used to the feeling of being judged up front.

Scientists are just as brutal about it.

"I'm leaving with them once this op is done."

Radek nods. He's heard this from Sheppard, has heard Sheppard through the halls, pleading and cajoling and trying to convince Ronon to stay. He's seen Ronon packing, seen Rodney going through his things, patting him on the shoulder and telling him to have fun like he's going on vacation. He's seen Teyla, at a loss for words and looking as if the ones she had given didn't have the desired effect.

"I have heard."

"You gonna stop me?"

Radek shakes his head.

"No, no. If you want to go… I understand."

Ronon grunts.

"Not many people do."

"You are tied to these people, yes. They are like your family from before. Where I come from… if it is important to you, then it is important. I will not stop you. I will not keep you here against your will."

It's a big task to ask of him when he's just barely accepted the job. When he's just barely stepped through the Stargate with a fancy new title and Ronon wants to leave. If he does not handle this the right way, there will be people pissed off at him.

"I do ask that you consider staying in contact. I understand that you must go, but that does not mean you must sever ties. You will always be welcomed in Atlantis."

He thinks it's what Elizabeth might have said, maybe it is something Elizabeth had said, he doesn't know. He just knows that he's not as good at this as she is and he's starting to think it was a horrible mistake.

"You're in charge," Ronon says.

"Apparently, yes."

"Would've thought they'd go with Sheppard or McKay."

"I had thought so too."

"You know Sheppard's going to be pissed that you're letting me go, no questions asked."

Radek shakes his head.

"Yes, quite possibly. It is quite possible that this job is too big for me. It is quite possible that I will never live up to it. That Elizabeth… she left a very big hole you see. She was… she was a presence."

Ronon nods.

"But… in my country on Earth, we had… we had a government that kept us under its rule, made us oppressed, made us adopt values that we did not want and I would not wish that life on anyone else. So if you must go, then go. I would hope that you found what you were looking for."

Ronon leans back in his chair and quirks his lips. Radek takes a deep breath and gulps.

"You know, that's something Weir might've said."

Radek smiles.

"I try. Atlantis will always have a place for you, Ronon. You are a great friend to many."


It doesn't go well.

They get captured. Honest to god captured and Radek thinks, this is my second day on the job and already my flagship team along with Ronon's Satedan friends, get captured.
It doesn't even take an hour.

It doesn't taken an hour before Ronon's rushing through the gate, demanding a rescue team and Radek had already been prepared for this. He'd already had the plan, strategic and at the ready, and the jumpers lined up. Lorne had already assembled the teams.

They were prepared.

"We gotta rescue them."

"Yes, we do."

"You coming with?" Ronon asks.

Radek frowns.

"I am not…"

"Don't you think it's better to leave the physical heroics to the guys that know what they're doing?" Lorne says.

"I could be needed. For this plan to work anyway. Besides I am fine at the physical heroics."

Lorne takes his hands away from the console for a moment and holds them up in a mock surrender fashion.

"Just make sure I don't get shot," Radek mumbles.

Ronon smiles.

"Wouldn't want the boss to get shot," Lorne says.

The plan works. The Wraith follow the other jumper and they make their way in with the cloaked one. Radek's just glad that at least Ronon's friends weren't lying when they said the base wasn't that heavily guarded.

They infiltrate the Wraith research facility virtually undetected and Radek finds a power relay station that Lorne has no problem blasting away with his P90.

And there they are.

"Ronon," one of Ronon's friends says.

"It's about time," Sheppard says.

"Sorry we're late, sir."

"The Wraith caught us. They took Rodney," Teyla says.

"Then I guess we should go rescue him," Lorne says.

"We could have taken care of this ourselves. If your… friends hadn't shot down every idea we had for escape."

"They were stupid ideas. We don't even have any weapons," Sheppard says.

"They are few and we are many. We could have overpowered them," the woman says.

"Perhaps now is not the time to argue. Only who knows what horrible tortures they could be inflicting on Rodney at this very moment," Radek says.

"Yeah and that would be a damn shame," Lorne says a bit sarcastically, as he hands Sheppard a gun.

"Oh, don't act like he hasn't grown on you, Major."

"Yeah, like fungus."

Weapons are handed out like toys on Christmas and Radek doesn't miss the glares the Satedans are throwing their way. Radek frowns, but he'll think on that later.

"Lead the way," Sheppard says.

Radek nods and looks down at his sensors.

"Do you have any idea of where they took him?"

"No, the Wraith didn't say much. They aren't exactly chatty," Sheppard says.

He looks at home with a gun in his hand, holding it like it belongs there. The Satedans look a bit out of place with this different technology, but a gun is a gun.

"We should just look. Split up. We'd be able to complete the mission easier that way."

"Mission? We're so over the mission right now. Right now the Wraith have one of my people and that's the only priority."

"We did not come all this way just to let this opportunity pass us by. We must complete the mission."

"Tyre," Ronon says.

"No, Ronon. This is too important. They knew the risks when they signed on for this mission. This is acceptable."

"Losing a member of my team is not acceptable," Sheppard says.

"You said it yourself that Doctor McKay is knowledgeable on the Replicator base code. If they're keeping him alive, it's because of that knowledge. He could be a very dangerous man. If he talks, there could be…"

"You finish that sentence and we'll see how acceptable a loss you are to your team," Sheppard says.

They're standing there, chests puffed out and Ronon right in the middle of it and Radek does not envy him his position at all.

"All this talking is not going to save McKay," Ronon says.

"Well then maybe you better tell your friends to knock it off," Sheppard says.

"Perhaps they are right."

"Radek," Sheppard says.

"They are still right about what this place is being used for and we cannot let the Wraith get the upper hand. If they think that they can still blow this place to hell and gone, then we should let them. We'll focus on getting Rodney out safely. It does not take all of us to do so," Radek says.

The man— Tyre, Ronon had called him, nods.

"Thank you."

Radek nods.

He looks at the other members of his group, the woman and the buff man and then to Ronon. Radek sees the hesitation there.

"Go," He says.

"McKay…"

"We'll save McKay, you blow up the Wraith research facility. Just give us enough time to make it back to the jumper," Radek says.

Ronon nods and turns back to his friends. He spares one glance back at them and runs off with them.

"I hope you know what you're doing, Doc," Lorne says.

"If we had allowed them to come with us, it may not have ended well for Rodney. They strike me as the 'shoot first, ask questions later' type. This way they complete their mission, we get Rodney and everyone walks away from here with that happy feeling of a job well done."

Sheppard nods.

"That is not a bad plan," Teyla says.

"I occasionally come up with a few of them."


They make it to Rodney just in time.

The Wraith are fed up with his stalling and ready to kill him just out of sheer frustration. One of them actually has their hand on him before Sheppard, Lorne and Teyla fire more than enough rounds to keep him from killing Rodney.

He has a big wound on his chest, but other than that he is fine.

Hysterical, but fine.

But there is no time for reassurances. Radek is sure that the Satedans, now free from their prison, will no doubt blow up the place as fast as they can.

Sheppard and Lorne seem to think so,  too.

They make it to the jumper just in time to feel the explosion, shaking the ground and rocking them just slightly. Teyla yells for medical supplies, her hand squeezing Rodney's tightly and it's not that bad, but Rodney's probably in shock over the whole thing.

Sheppard and Lorne stand, guns in hand and totally alert, waiting. Waiting for Ronon and the rest of the Satedans.

Radek's not sure how long they wait. He can hear Wraith darts zooming overhead and he knows that the Wraith are in a panic, that they can't believe that their testing facility has been targeted.

No one says anything, not even Rodney, who's moaning and screaming in pain and shock. Teyla makes shushing noises to keep him from going out of his mind.

And then.

"Open up! We've got Wraith right behind us."

It's Ronon's voice. Sheppard quickly opens the hatch and in stumble Ronon and the rest of the group.

"Take off," Sheppard yells at Lorne and Lorne does as he's told.

The take off is slightly bumpy, given the fact that the Wraith darts are still whizzing around.

Sheppard frowns and Lorne looks tense, Teyla holds on to Rodney's hand and Rodney's reduced to whimpers. Even Ronon looks a bit lost.

The Satedans just laugh.


Doctor Keller says that Rodney will be just fine.

"The Wraith may have taken something, but not enough to leave him permanently injured. He wasn't even injected with the enzyme," Doctor Keller says.

"He seemed to be in pretty bad shape after we came charging in,"  Lorne says.

"Probably just the shock from almost being fed upon. Teyla did a pretty good job cleaning up the wound. He's going to be fine. I think it was just stress."

Radek nods.

"Thank you, Doctor Keller."

She smiles.

"Just doing my job."

Radek sighs and nods.

"So he's going to be fine," Sheppard says.

"That is what Doctor Keller just said. Rodney is strong, but I am sure any man in his position would have panicked. Not to mention he'd been by himself and under a lot of stress. He just needs time to calm down, relax," Teyla says.

"Yeah, because McKay knows some much about relaxation," Lorne mutters.

Radek smiles.

"Yes, well, since that is dealt with…"

"We can't let him just go off with them," Sheppard says.

He doesn't look at them, just stares off in the direction of the infirmary and Radek frowns.

"I will not force him to stay."

"They'll get him killed. They're so far gone that they don't care what needs to be done in order to defeat the Wraith."

"It is the only way they know, John," Teyla says.

"Yeah, I get that. And it's great… for them. I mean… I don't want them to get themselves killed, but the way they're going about it… that's what's gonna happen. And Ronon…"

Sheppard cuts himself off, lips pursing and his fist clench and unclench.

"He feels responsible for them," Teyla says.

"Yeah, well, I guess I feel responsible for him," Sheppard says.

"We could let them stay. The Satedans. We could let them stay here in Atlantis. Maybe put them on a team or something. I mean they're pretty good at what they do, even if their style is a bit… but it could work," Lorne says optimistically.

"They'd never stay. They… I don't think that's a good plan. They wouldn't go for it," Sheppard says.

"We can try."


They don't go for it.

"We have a job to do. A job we thought the people inhabiting the great city of the Ancestors would be more than willing to take part in," the woman, Ara, says.

"We've shed our own blood fighting against the Wraith. Just because we like to have better plans when we do it, doesn't mean that we're not committed to making sure every last Wraith in this galaxy is dead," Sheppard says.

"You question our methods," Rakai says.

"When it leads to the probable death of people for unnecessary reasons… yeah."

Rakai glares.

"You have not been fighting the Wraith your whole lives."

"No, but we have been fighting them. And we know. We've seen the destruction."

"Yes, but you sit there in your Ancient city, passing down judgment on us because we do what is necessary in order to win against the Wraith. Yet you don't really know," Tyre says.

"He may not, but I do. And Colonel Sheppard is right. What you do is needless. I applaud your efforts against the Wraith, but here you can do more on a much larger scale," Teyla says.

They look at her with disdain.

"We will not be tied down. If we need your assistance, we will ask for it."

This seems to be the end of the conversation and Radek watches them leave. Watches as Ronon looks at Sheppard and Teyla with… something in his eyes.

Radek recognizes the look, but can't put words to the feeling.

Eventually he gets up and follows them.


Radek is glad that everyone on Atlantis has other things to do.

Sheppard is silently fuming in his office and he doesn't envy Lorne who has to fume with him.

It's a rule, or something. Radek isn't entirely sure of the details.

Teyla is meditating. She's tried to talk with Ronon again, but Ronon doesn't seem to be listening to her, so she mediates.

Radek sits in the mess with what appears to be tea. They've started to ration the coffee again, because if the scientists had free reign, it would disappear much too fast.

Radek sometimes likes tea better anyway.

"Hey."

Radek looks up.

"Ronon."

"I wanna thank you for letting them come here, you know, after everything."

"It was nothing. They did complete the mission."

"Yeah, well, thank you anyway. And thank you for letting them come back to Atlantis. And for telling them they can stay here."

"I just wish it had made a bit of difference. Colonel Sheppard had said they'd be resistant."

"They've been doing it this way for a long time. I used to do it that way."

"And no one is looking down on them because of their methods. We just feel that we can offer them a better means of fighting against the Wraith."

"I know," Ronon says.

Radek nods.

"Teyla told me all about why she came here instead of staying with her people. She said she could do more here. But I think it's more than that."

"You do?"

"I think… I think that's what it was in the beginning, you know. That she chose Atlantis because it meant she could make a difference. That there could actually be an end to fighting the Wraith if she stayed here and she could see it."

He takes a deep breath and Radek is hanging on his every word.

"But she stayed because it became home."

Radek smiles.

"I think that can be said for many here on Atlantis."

"You?"

"Yes, oddly enough. I cannot imagine going back to Earth at this point. Although it sounds nice. When we did… it wasn't exactly as peaceful as I had imagined."

He remembers the six weeks and the small apartment and the research facility in Prague and how he'd gotten to see his family, but how it had stopped feeling like home long ago.

"Yeah I figured. Sheppard and Teyla and Weir and… and even McKay." He says with a laugh.

"They're good people. They… offered me Atlantis just like you offered my friends Atlantis. It's home."

"No one is saying you have to leave."

"They…"

"I will say this once, Ronon, because I do not think you need to hear it more than once. I have already told you that I would support any decision you chose to make and that you would always be welcomed here. I wish that you would stay with us and that you would not just make this an all or nothing thing.

"But it is your decision. I will not stand in the way and I will make sure that Colonel Sheppard and Teyla do not as well. But you must decide for yourself if you want to stay. You must decide where your path lies."

"I figured you might say that."

Radek nods.

"Yes, well, I am all out of advice and strategy. It is only my second or so day on the job."

Ronon smiles.

"Right."


In the end, Ronon doesn't go.

He doesn't say why, not even to his Satedan friends, even as they glare at him as they go through the Stargate. The promise to keep in touch, but Radek doubts it.

He knows Ronon will keep tabs on them.

No one says anything as they walk through the gate. No one says anything for long minutes after they're gone and the wormhole has shut down.

Ronon is the first to talk.

"McKay gonna be alright?" he asks.

Sheppard shakes his head.

"Doctor Keller says that he will be just fine," Teyla says.

"Good. It'll be nice. Going on a mission," Ronon says.

"Yes, just like old times."

And this is all they say to each other, but Radek knows there's more in what they don't say.


"Tell me about your people," He says.

Radek looks up from the mountain of paperwork, backlogged from the time they didn't actually have a leader, but Sheppard had stepped up and everyone one in Atlantis knows of Sheppard's aversion to paperwork. Some of it is new, and if it is any indication on how Atlantis is run day to day, Radek thinks he might die from paper cuts.

He stands there leaning against the doorway, eyes expectant, arms folded across his chest.

"Why don't you tell me of yours?" Radek says, gesturing to the chair across his desk.

"Not much to say," Ronon grunts.

"I very much doubt that."

Ronon smiles.

"No sense living in the past."

"That's very healthy."

Ronon shrugs.

"You gonna tell me?"

Radek smiles. Thinks of Czechoslovakian history and the struggles and the fights for political freedom, of being taken over and he hadn't been alive, but his father talked of it. Talked of the resistance against the Nazis and Hitler and they're a nation of people scarred, his father would say.

It sounded stronger in Czech.

"Like you say, no sense living in the past."

"It's not the past though. You're people are still around."

"Do you really want to hear a history lesson on my people, or are you looking for something to take your mind off your own?"

Ronon grunts.

"It happens to the best of them."

Yes, yes it does, Radek thinks. Nations influenced by power. It's human nature.

Radek doesn't understand human nature.

Apparently neither does Ronon.

"It is a long history."

Ronon shrugs. He pushes off from the doorway and walks over to the chair that Radek had gestured to him earlier and sits in it. He sprawls loosely, gets comfortable and looks at Radek expectantly.

"I've got time."

"Hmm… where would you like me to start."

He can think of a few places, motivational and heartbreaking alike, but this is Ronon's time. He may not know anything about the people of Earth, about Radek's people in particular, but it's his choice all the same.

"The beginning is always a good place."

Radek nods.

He starts from the beginning.


He really realizes he's in charge when it comes to M3X-387.

Yes, he knows on the superficial level. He did organize his own search and rescue mission just a few days ago to get Sheppard's team out of the fire.

(He thinks he'll have to do that a lot more in the future and he tries not to think about it too closely for fear that it'll make him start drinking before noon, whatever noon might be on Atlantis.)

And actually,  Lorne does most of the organizing. He's just there, helping with the plan as he'd always been.

But it hits home, really hits home, with M3X-387.

"I do not think we should waste our time with this planet, Rodney. The MALP readings show that it has nothing to offer. No interesting energy signatures and certainly no ZPMs. Not even a life sign."

"Do you know how many planets we've been to that didn't have anything interesting on the MALP readings, but ended up being fruitful? You should, I mean they did give you the mission reports and you've been here since day one," Rodney says.

"Yes, but I have a feeling that this planet is particularly useless."

"We won't know until we go."

"I don't think you should go. This is what I am saying."

"Yes, well…"

Rodney hesitates. Rodney never hesitates. Radek's seen him bulldoze his way through these kinds of meetings with Elizabeth, never stopping and always presenting arguments. He sees Colonel Sheppard look down at his hands and Rodney's lips are pursed tight like he's trying to think of his next argument and then it clicks.

He's the leader. He can say no. His word will matter. They cannot do anything as a Gate team unless he says so.

"In fact, I think it should be thrown out of the database."

Rodney's eyes widen.

"What!"

"Yes, I think it is of no importance," he says.

"Could be good for an Alpha site. You know, uninhabited with no energy signatures. Good place to hide out in case the Wraith show up," Sheppard says.

"The MALP showed that this planet is heavily forested. It is of no use."

"No use. Just because you said so?" Rodney says, voice a bit hysterical.

"Yes. It is my prerogative."

Rodney glares.

"This leadership thing is going to go to your head."

"It might, but as the leader, you do have to listen. If… if it comes down to it and somehow our already designated Alpha and Beta sites are overrun, then we can think about it. Add it to the list. We do have a bit of a long list when it comes to that, though."

"You're crazy," Rodney mumbles.

"Maybe. But I say this is what we're doing. It is the best course of action, I think."

"I bet you it's not."

Radek opens his mouth and he thinks, months ago, possibly even weeks he would have taken Rodney up on that, made them suit up and go and run around a plant that's full of dense plant life and smiled when they came back, muddy and frustrated.

But he is the leader now and if he gives into Rodney's baiting like this, Rodney will know how to play him forever. Just like he had with Elizabeth, although Radek thinks she allowed it most of the time.

"No. This is my decision. We have many planets to explore. Pick one of them."

Rodney fumes, throws his hands up in the air and stomps off to explore the database some more to find a planet that they can explore.

Colonel Sheppard nods.

"Nice work there."

Radek frowns.

"What?"

"With Rodney. Not letting him bully you around. He does that even if he doesn't know it. Elizabeth… Elizabeth was a great leader and I'm not gonna say that you don't have big shoes to fill, but… I think maybe you can handle it."

Radek smiles nervously.

"Really?"

"Yeah. I mean… you know. You can deal with Rodney and you have been here since the beginning."

"Is this buttering me up?" Radek asks.

Sheppard frowns.

"I was just thinking… Elizabeth may still be out there."

"And we will continue to look."

"I just think we should go back to the Replicator planet. See if we can get some information, recon, anything."

"It would be very dangerous."

"Yeah, I know, but… it's Elizabeth."

Radek's lips purse and he knows. He knows that it's Elizabeth and he wants her back just as much as anyone else. But it's dangerous and going to the Replicator home world in the first place had been possibly the most risky mission they've ever done.

"I will think on it. And I hope… I hope that you have something more than wishes and hopes, Colonel."

"Radek…"

"Do not make the mistake of thinking I don't want Elizabeth back. If it were possible… but at the same time Atlantis cannot lose you or Rodney or Ronon or Teyla. Not now. You come to me with a good solid plan that I cannot say no to, and I will not say no to it."

Sheppard nods and he thinks he's approached it right, reminded him that Elizabeth's loss is something they all feel, not just him.

"Rational."

"I like to think of myself as a rational man. Now, go join Rodney in finding a planet you two can annoy. He will no doubt want to rant about how I am a tyrant."

Sheppard smiles.

"Everyone says bad things about their boss every once in awhile." 


They eventually go to some planet that has interesting plant life.

But that is all and Rodney glowers at him and gives him attitude during the debriefing. It's not like Radek isn't used to this, so he just listens to Sheppard talk about how it had been nice, easy and relaxed.

Radek nods in the right place and gives the okay for a group of botanists to look over the planet, see if there is anything valuable.

He forgets sometimes that they're not just in this for the weapons.

Rodney stomps off the moment he can and Radek smirks, watches him go and it seems to amuse both Sheppard and Ronon too. Ronon actually pats him on the shoulder, like he's done the man a favor.

He's so caught up in Rodney's dramatics that he doesn't notice that Teyla is still there.

"Is there something you wanted?" he asks her, as he gathers his papers.

Just a few notes he took because Sheppard and Rodney are never known for having their mission reports done in time for these things. Or eve, really, and it's a wonder that Rodney gets them done at all.

"I must admit that I have been watching you."

He frowns.

"I… I do not think you incapable."

He bites his lip. He'd thought, for some strange unexplainable reason, that he'd already had Teyla's support. They've never talked about it, yes, but he'd thought.

"That is nice to hear."

"I had my doubts of course. You must understand that Elizabeth and I were very close friends. I considered her family."

He nods.

A lot of people had.

"And when she would talk of leaving, of stepping down because of the military, I could not honestly picture anyone else in her position of leadership. I felt she would always be the leader of Atlantis."

"So did I."

She looks not shocked or surprised, but somewhere in the land of those two. She smiles at him gently and shakes her head.

"I know you admired her as well."

"She was… indefinable."

Teyla nods.

"So you see, I held my reservations. John and Rodney… they are great leaders, yes. I would not say they weren't. They…"

She seems to not have the words, so Radek stops her.

"It is fine, Teyla. I understand. I feel everyone would have been more comfortable if one of them had been giving this job. I honestly…"

"You misunderstand me. They are great leaders but they needed someone to balance them. To make sure their decisions aren't impulsive or stubborn. Elizabeth did a great job of being that equalizer. As much as I respect and care for them… I cannot see them in your position for very long."

Radek frowns.

"I had thought…"

"As have many. I do not say anything because they are both deserving. But I saw the way you handled the situation with Rodney today. He may be angry with you, but in the long run… he will learn the lesson."

Radek nods.

"I have your support then?" he asks.

Teyla smiles, one of those calm serene smiles that seem to make everyone she graces them with feel at peace.

"Of course. I think you will make a great leader. Elizabeth would be proud."

"I…"

"She would," she says, tone stronger and she's looking at Radek like he must believe it.

Because if he doesn't, then he'll fail.

He nods.

"Yes. Thank you."

She nods.

"It was easy."


"Tell me again why we are going on this mission?"

It's been on the docket for quite some time and with Teyla visiting with the Athosians and Ronon on a trailing mission for his friends, Sheppard's team had been short a few members.

Radek thinks that's how he's found himself on a mission with them.

"You're going to have to meet these people some time. They are one of our best trading allies," Rodney grumbles.

There is still tension here, Radek thinks. Among all three of them. They'd been distracted by the whole Ronon thing to come back to this, but it is clear that Rodney still feels upset about being passed over as leader.

And probably about M3X-387, but Radek seems to be ruffling feathers all over the place.

He honestly can't tell what Sheppard thinks.

He doesn't think Sheppard's all that forgiving about the Elizabeth thing. Even if he had said he was. Radek stands by his decision, but sometimes, he'll catch Sheppard looking, scouring through things that have nothing to do with his latest mission.

Strategies and stories about the Replicators told to him by people from the planets he's visited.

Radek can't blame him. He told Sheppard that if he came up with a good plan, if Sheppard came to him with something he couldn't ignore, then Radek wouldn't ignore it.

"They've met Elizabeth. It's going to be a shock to the system to find out that there have been so many changes. We thought you might like to meet these people and start having it not be so… shocking," Sheppard says.

Radek nods.

"I suppose you are right. Still…"

"You're going to have to get over this jumpiness you have about being off-world."

"I am not as bad as I once was," Radek says.

Sheppard nods but Radek thinks he doesn't look like he believes it.

"I am better," Radek says.

"Yeah, yeah, you're great at it," Rodney mumbles.

"Look, let's not going into this arguing, okay. Only I think it looks bad in front of the allies."

Rodney glares again, but nods.

"Fine."

But Radek isn't convinced.

They seem to remain civil with one another as Flora and Mardola, the two beautiful ladies who seem to be in charge, feed them wine and toast to good relations.

They are taken aback slightly by Sheppard's admission that Elizabeth is no longer with them and that Radek is the new leader of them.

Sheppard doesn't even stumble over it.

Radek takes it for a win.

He thinks this will be easier than he had thought. They will just talk about the new changes and offer some new medical supplies are anything that they might need in exchange for food that they may need for a rainy day.

The politics of it all is boring, but Radek knows that it's something he is required to sit through. He must listen to the terms and the agreements and the negotiations. He is prepared.

They only have one.

Apparently they want the three of them to take their sister, who is destined to be queen, on some sort of sacred mission to mediate or something.

Radek frowns.

"I do not think…"

"It would mean a lot to us, if you could accompany Harmony on her quest. We grow increasingly worried about her and the times that this must take place," Flora says.

She looks at Sheppard the whole time. Radek would be upset with this, but it's clear that she's got some ulterior motives. Her eyes soft and Radek can tell it's an act, but she seems to be threatening trade agreements if they do not do this so Sheppard agrees.

"A walk in the park," he says.

They both smile widely and run off to get their other sister.

"What is she like?" Radek asks when they've gone.

They say she's lovely. That's she's a complete charm to be around.

Radek sort of doesn't buy it.

Rodney shrugs.

"We didn't even know they had another sister," he says.

"Really?"

"Yeah, this is the first time we've heard of her," Sheppard says.

"I call dibs," Rodney says.

"What?""

"Dibs. I'm calling it."

Sheppard pulls a face and Radek watches as they fall into a completely ridiculous conversation about who gets to hit on this new alien princess. They're completely focused on their argument when Mardola and Flora come back, Harmony right in the middle of them.

"Um…"

"This is our sister Harmony." They say.

They finally notice and when they do, they see what Radek's seeing, a thirteen year old child standing in front of them in a lovely dress, smiling simply.

It doesn't seem like this is going to be a walk in the park after all.


She at least sounds intelligent.

She keeps going on and on about this journey and how excited she is and how she is a quick learner and her lessons, which Radek thinks sound sorely lacking, he doesn't care how fast you can pick something up.

"Tell me… who is the leader among you."

They all stare at each other and isn't this the craziest question ever, Radek thinks only it shouldn't be.

"Well, I am leader of the… well of our people," Radek says.

Rodney glares for just a second and then it's gone. Sheppard frowns a bit and shakes his head.

"Yeah, but while we're out on missions, I'm in charge," Sheppard says.

He says it like he expects Radek to argue and Radek merely shrugs and holds up his hands.

"This is true," Radek says.

Harmony looks thoughtful.

"Then what is he here for?" She says pointing to Rodney.

Rodney frowns.

"I am a valuable member of this team," Rodney says.

"Really."

Radek's never thought he'd heard a child use that much sarcasm and condescension in his life.

"Yes, I am. I have saved everyone's life many, many times. My genius is greatly needed for these missions to… to, well, save everyone's life."

She doesn't look convinced.

"I suppose you could serve some purpose."

Sheppard snorts and Radek thinks it's probably a good thing that he's there because he puts a hand around Rodney's forearm and keeps him from getting any angrier at Harmony.

"She is not worth it," he whispers harshly.

He's not sure if he means she is not worth this whole journey or if she is not worth the anger and huff Rodney is currently working up.

Rodney glares.

"She's irritating."

"Yeah, well, most small children are."

Sheppard rolls his eyes.

"If the two of you are done having the conversation that means you'll never be married…"

"Then everything would go according to plan. Now… this bridge."

Sheppard pauses and Radek does not want to discuss this with him. He just wants to get this little interlude over with so that they can go back to Atlantis, trade agreement still secure and perhaps not as sweaty and dirty as Radek thinks this may get.

"It's on the map, but…"

He points to where the remnants of what could be a bridge are. Radek frowns.

"The map must be old," he mutters.

"You think?" Rodney says a bit sarcastically.

Radek sighs and thinks we are never going to make it through this mission alive.

"This map has been passed down through the generations. It has most assuredly proved effective."

Radek sees Rodney rolls his eyes and Sheppard purse his lips.

"Sure, it's just… we'll have to find some other way through without the bridge is all."

Harmony beams.

"I am must certain you will be able to find a way John," she says.

Radek turns to Rodney whose face looks like he feels and Rodney looks back at him. They share a look, a moment of for god's sake, and it makes Radek feel better about the whole thing, about the whole situation.

"Yeah, well, I'll try," Sheppard says awkwardly.

Radek thinks that if this is how he acts with all women, it's a wonder that he's considered Kirk.

Maybe it's a best friends thing between him and Rodney.

Radek really doesn't want to know.

Sheppard goes off to find them an alternate route because the bridge is gone. Rodney rifles through his pack, hands getting increasingly furious as he searches for something and Radek sighs, pulls out his power bar from his own back and slaps Rodney on the shoulder with it.

"What…"

"You already ate yours. Take it. You'll be complaining about hypoglycemia soon and I don't think I could deal with both hiking and your whining."

Rodney frowns.

"I don't whine."

Radek rolls his eyes.

"Sure."

But Rodney's too busy tearing into his new power bar to bother with anything more than glaring in Radek's general direction. He takes a big bite out of it and chews a bit noisily, but anything is better than Rodney getting pissy.

"Why is it that you are leader of your people and not someone like John?"

Rodney's eyes widen and he takes a bigger bite of his power bar.

Coward, Radek thinks and he sighs.

"I am just who they choose."

"Why didn't they choose John?"

"Why didn't your people choose one of your sisters?" Radek asks.

She frowns, eyes narrow at him.

"It doesn't work that way. Someone does not choose me. My becoming Queen is something sacred, passed down from generations. It has to do with faith and dignity. No one person simply chooses me as Queen. It is foretold that way."

Radek sighs.

"Right, well, in most circumstances, our people elect the best person for the job."

"How are you more qualified than John?"

Rodney seems to run out of power bar, so he starts to chew slowly.

"I… I don't know exactly."

Harmony's lips purse and she crosses her arms over her chest.

"Hmm… a leader with doubt. It's a wonder that they chose you over John."

She turns around to look at a rock or something and Rodney grins around his mouthful of power bar and Radek wants to strangle him.

This, is going to be a long day, he thinks.


Sheppard lets her navigate from the map after he finds a way around the bridge and back onto the path.

He seems irritated and he and Rodney snap at each other at irregular intervals. Harmony tries navigating from the map, but Sheppard has to correct her so often that Radek wonders how he even has the patience for such things.

Radek Zelenka will never have children, he thinks and he's fine with that.

It's one more thing he definitely knows about himself. He can move the count back up to two.

He thinks this trip will not kill him, despite everything.

That is until he hears about the Beast, complete with a capital B.

"The Beast?" Radek says.

"Yes," Harmony says as though they're talking about something everyday, something ordinary.

Not some Beast that could rip them limb from limb.

"And this Beast… is it… it kills people then?" Radek asks.

She shakes her head.

"The Beast is meant to protect the Temple of Larris. It will not harm me. I am the Queen."

But as she says it, she pulls out a little penknife and Radek isn't all the reassured.

"Well we'll just have to make sure to avoid this Beast," Sheppard says.

Rodney doesn't look as set at ease. In fact he's frowning and he turns to Harmony, best pleading look on his face and he tries to convince her to just say they made it to the ruins. No one will know, he says.

But she is stubborn and Radek watches as they argue back and forth about the whole thing and he wishes for a gun.

And not just because there's a Beast out there.

"Rodney, just… stop. Colonel Sheppard does not seem to be worried about the whole thing," Radek says.

Rodney glares.

"We're supposed to be showing a united front here. If she senses weakness, she'll take us down like that," he says snapping his fingers.

Radek raises an eyebrow.

"You're being ridiculous."

"No, I'm not. John back me up here."

Rodney starts to look around and Radek looks over his shoulder and there is no Sheppard.

Sheppard is missing.

"Colonel," Radek says.

He even taps his radio and calls from him, Rodney just as frantic, but Sheppard doesn't answer.

"They say that the Beast attacks silently."

Radek huffs.

"You are not helping," Radek says.

She glares at him.

"I was just merely stating…"

"Yeah, but you said that the Beast wouldn't attack you because you're the Queen."

There's something worrying about the way Rodney looks so frantic that makes Radek reach for the gun Sheppard had put in his thigh holster, for just in case he'd said. Radek doesn't know how to use it, but it's weirdly comforting.

"Well it didn't attack me."

This makes Rodney look even more panicked.

"John!" He yells.

"It's odd that the Beast would attack John, though considering it's supposed to attack enemies to the Queen. The two of you are prime candidates."

Radek frowns.

"You're still not helping."

She tosses her hair, head held high and Radek hates her just a little bit more.

"I wasn't trying to."

"I am somewhat out of my depth here," Radek mutters.

Harmony tilts her head up in that snobby way Radek remembers from those that had actually had some money when he had had none.

He really hates it.

"It is a shock to me as to why you are leader of your people and not someone possessing such astounding leadership qualities as John." She says.

Radek frowns.

"Hey, Radek's very smart. And he's doing his best. And he's… he's done good," Rodney says.

Radek's frown deepens.

"I…"

"He was so willing to break of trade with my people," Harmony says.

"Hate to break it to you, but we're not in dire need of your crops. I mean… not to the point where we want to get torn apart by some Beast."

Harmony sniffs.

"You are cowards," she says haughtily.

"Yes, yes, we are very bad men, but this does not explain where Colonel Sheppard is," Radek says.

He looks over at Rodney.

"Well don't look at me. If he took off, that's all him."

"Does he do this often on missions."

Rodney frowns.

"No, which is why I'm freaking out a little bit. Also there is the little matter of this Beast thing."

"Yes I understand that, but…"

"Don't move."

Radek freezes and slowly turns around, Rodney and Harmony doing the same and they're faced with three Genii soldiers

Radek really wishes he had pulled out that gun.

Rodney has his pulled out at least and one of the Genii soldier— the one standing closest to them with a gun in his hand— tells him to drop his weapon. Rodney doesn't of course and the soldier gets a bit mad, calls for reinforcements.

"You're Genii," Rodney says.

"Glad to see you've caught up," Radek mutters.

"I'm just saying. The Genii… they… they're like our allies. They should… they should know that. You should know that," Rodney says to the guy.

The soldier grunts.

"Seriously, your leader. Ladon Radim. He's like… we helped him get into power. We… we've helped you countless times what with the bomb and everything," Rodney says.

"Look, we aren't here for you. We're her for the girl. Hand her over and we'll let you go."

Rodney purses his lips.

"Huh, really."

"You're… are you actually considering yielding to these thugs. You… you took a sacred oath to protect me."

"Oh now you're just making stuff up," Rodney says.

"We are not yielding to anyone," Radek says.

"Then you leave me no choice but to kill the two of you and take the girl by force."

"Are you just going to stand there? Do something," Harmony shrieks.

"What would you have me do?"

"Smite him!"

"Radek," Rodney says.

And he knows that tone of voice. Rodney trying to tell him something, trying to point at Radek's gun without being too obvious.

Radek's not sure what that's going to do.

And then.

Shots are fired and Radek watches as all three soldiers seem to fall at once, like puppets with the strings cut off, falling limply to the ground.

Radek's not sure what happened, but then Sheppard is coming out from the shadows and Rodney is squawking at him about the whole thing.

"He was going to turn me in," Harmony says venomously.

"It's called buying time. Strategy. Radek and I were cooking up a plan."

"You lie. I could see it in your eyes," Harmony says.

"I was not."

Radek could see where this is going.

"Please, let's just… let's get this whole mission over with because now not only is there a Beast after us but there is also a bunch of Genii soldiers."

Rodney and Harmony glare at him.

"You're not seriously thinking of continuing with this whole thing?" Rodney says.

"You think I want to continue any more than I do? Let's just… go," Radek grumbles.

Rodney keeps glaring but starts to walk.

"Thank you," Harmony mutters.

"I am not doing this for you. There is a reason the Genii are after us, so start talking," Radek says.

Harmony glares, starts to walk and sighs.

"You know we should go back," Sheppard says.

"Something tells me that isn't going to be an option. You know you should have informed us of your plan."

"I'm…"

"Yes, yes, you're in charge when we're on missions and you didn't want to tip them off. I get that. It was more of a hypothetical situation. Like the one you just posed."

"Radek…"

"She strikes me as the sneak type."

"Okay you seem like the kind of guy that thinks all children are the sneak type."

"I didn't say that I didn't. I just… we're still pretty close and something tells me that this whole thing is a set up."

"Yeah, by one of her sisters. Glad we're on the same page."

"And something tells me that they're not going to let us get back to the castle without a fight. So the best thing to do is make sure that… make sure that Harmony is named Queen and deal with it when we get back."

Sheppard nods.

"That was pretty hard for you to say, wasn't it?"

"Extremely."


They stop about halfway through.

Harmony claims to be hungry and they watch as she hunts, captures and kills some sort of bird-chicken thing with her hands and that little penknife.

She smiles as she cooks it and Radek doesn't know what to do with that.

She bats her eyelashes at Sheppard as she tears off the feathers and Radek's reminded of some sort of mutant demon creature.

"This is most disturbing," Radek whispers to Rodney.

Rodney shakes his head.

"Really, really disturbing," Rodney says, shaking his head in agreement.

He still eats some of the bird-chicken thing when Harmony, begrudgingly, offers him some.

"We must hurry," Radek says.

"We are not in any danger from the Genii. The Beast will protect us," Harmony says.

Radek sighs.

"Yes, so you've said, but I do not think you're appreciating the danger here," Radek says.

Harmony rolls her eyes and continues to eat. She flirts with Sheppard some more— something that Radek finds both amusing and highly disturbing. Sheppard's looking around, tight, pinched look on his face as he stays alert for any sort of danger.

After Harmony finishes off the bird-chicken thing, she decides that it's time to keep going.

Radek is extremely grateful for that.

"Alright, we're not that far away from the ruins. Let's go," Sheppard says.

"Yes, yes, let's."


Radek's not sure how he got into this position.

Sheppard is lying on top of him, firing off random shots at what Radek thinks are Genii soldiers. Radek feels dizzy and disorientated and Sheppard's still lying on top of him.

At least it's nighttime and Radek's pretty sure that no one can see how embarrassed he feels.

He remembers making it to the ruins. He remembers Genii soldiers surrounding the place and he remembers Sheppard shooting them all, questioning what the heck they were doing there.

He also remembers the ruins being of Ancient design.

"Colonel Sheppard?"

"Yeah," Sheppard says.

"Is there a reason you're still on top of me?" Radek asks.

"Yeah, the Beast."

"Um…"

"Drones, Radek. Drones sent to destroy everyone that doesn't have the gene."

"Yes, I remember that much."

Because he does. He remembers how he and Rodney had figured out that this is a mini drone testing facility and that Harmony must have the gene, but the thing needs to be fixed because, of course, the Genii soldiers wrecked it.

This still doesn't explain his current predicament.

"Rodney's fixing it."

"But he hasn't fixed it yet.'

"And the drones haven't attacked me yet."

"Probably because being surrounded by us confused them," Rodney yells from his place next to the crystal tray.

"How could Ancient technology get confused to easily?" Radek yells back.

"This is just a testing ground. The drones probably aren't advanced enough to distinguish between gene carriers and not gene carriers unless they're within a certain distance," Rodney yells back.

"Yeah, yeah, okay how is fixing it going?"

"It would go easier if you weren't holding hostage someone who could greatly help along the process," Rodney yells.

Sheppard grunts.

"Could you at least get off of me? Because you're quite heavy," Radek says.

Sheppard does that much at least, but he still keeps Radek guarded between himself and a rock.

"Thanks," Radek mutters.

"No problem."

And that's when everything happens at once.

Rodney finishes with the crystal tray, but that's when the Genii decide it's time to make their presence known again. They start firing from all directions and, once again, Colonel Sheppard is throwing himself in front of Radek to keep him from getting hurt.

Radek's really starting to hate that.

"Is the device fixed?" Colonel Sheppard asks Rodney when he's able to scramble to safety.

Harmony's yelling at the Genii and Radek would find her threats almost comical if the Genii hadn't been shooting at them and doing some threatening of their own.

"Well, yeah, I think?"

"You think?"

"They started in with the shooting again, so now I don't know."

"What're the odds?"

"Fifty-fifty?"

"And anyone with the Ancient gene can use it?"

Harmony seems to think this means her. She's nodding and saying, yes, yes let me do my duties as Queen, just provide me with some cover.

Radek thinks that's not quite what Colonel Sheppard has in mind.

"Alright, fire everything you have at them. Radek… stay down," Colonel Sheppard says.

Radek frowns and he watches as Harmony continues to nod, continues to think she's the one who's going to be in the line of danger. He watches as Colonel Sheppard snatches her pendant, watches as Harmony's face turns to one of shock and Colonel Sheppard runs down to the ruins and uses the device to call forth the mini drones.

Rodney bats at him and then Radek remembers that he's supposed to be crouched down.

"Usurper!" Harmony screams.

Radek thinks that's a little harsh, but she is a child. He knows that they're finicky. One minute she has the hugest crush on Sheppard and the next she's calling him a traitor to the Queen.

(Though, Radek thinks, it's a pretty apt description in her eyes. Only the Queen is supposed to be able to call forth The Beast. Of course, Radek doesn't see it that way. He sees it as Colonel Sheppard and Rodney saved everyone's asses again.)

But Harmony doesn't let up the whole time they make their way back to the castle.

"You are a traitor," Harmony says.

Sheppard rolls his eyes.

"And you… you're an incompetent leader. Hiding behind the coattails of your men. The only person who is truly brave in this bunch is Rodney."

Rodney smiles.

Radek thinks he's enjoying this too much.


"So… do you feel as lousy about this as I do?"

Radek frowns. He picks up another mission report and sighs.

"Slightly."

"At least they're still gonna trade with us."

He nods and watches as Colonel Sheppard walks over to his desk and leans against it.

"Yes, and we have to deal with an annoying child queen."

"Harmony wasn't so bad."

"Yes, because people who routinely threaten to hang you are actually quite pleasant."

Radek frowns and angrily throws down the report he'd been looking at.

"Are you having weird flashbacks or something?"

"I'm just wondering why I was picked for this job."

"Why? Because some thirteen year old tyrant said you weren't good at it?"

"She was right though. I was… I wasn't much help out there."

"I kind of didn't let you help. You know, after finding out that the mini drones were targeting people who didn't have the gene."

"Yes, well, that wasn't my finest hour."

"So, this wasn't your mission. Elizabeth had the same problems starting out."

"Yes, well, I can hardly compare."

Sheppard shakes his head.

"So don't compare. You're too completely different leaders. You haven't found your stride yet. And it's not like she didn't rattle all of us at one point."

Radek nods.

"Yes, she fed into my insecurities," Radek says.

Sheppard nods.

"There are gonna be times when you're not the best man for the job," Sheppard says.

"I'm not sure I am the man for this job."

"There's a reason you took it."

Radek sighs.

"Because they offered it?"

Sheppard smiles.

"If they had offered it to me, I would've said no."

Radek frowns.

"But…"

"Look, Atlantis is my home. I'm not going to pretend otherwise, but… I don't envy you."

"Really?"

"Yeah, well, I mean Rodney still seems a little pissed, but… I'm not the kind of guy that likes the politics of it all."

"Yes, I do not enjoy it either."

"But you said," Sheppard points out.

"Yes, because I had visions of them putting Woolsey in charge. It was not a good vision of the future."

Sheppard laughs.

"Yeah, that sounds scary."

"Very much so."

Sheppard shakes himself a bit and straightens.

"Even so, you'll find… I think you'll do okay."

"You hope I do okay."

"No, you hope you do okay. I hope that you realize that you'll do okay."

Radek nods and Sheppard nods back. It feels slightly awkward and Radek's not sure what to say to that.

"So, you're not still mad about Elizabeth?"

"You put your foot down. How can I be mad about that?"

"I just thought…"

"You made a decision even though you knew it wasn't going to be all that well liked. You're learning."

Radek grimaces.

"It's not like people see you as a tyrant or anything. You'll find your footing. You have the rest of us to, you know, help."

And then things get even more awkward because Sheppard's talking about things he's never heard Sheppard talk about and he's talking about them with Radek of all people.

It's awkward, but strangely comforting.

"Thanks."

"Yeah, well, you know, anytime."


Rodney's hiding something from him.

Radek's been stuck in his office all day doing the necessary bureaucratic things to keep Atlantis afloat, but he knows that Colonel Sheppard was supposed to be back hours ago.

He's waiting for someone to come to him. Chuck, anyone, but so far no one has come up and explained the situation to him.

Rodney seems to be handling it himself.

At least until a point.

"Kidnapped," Radek says.

Rodney shakes his head and looks vaguely annoyed, and it might have something to do with the fact that Radek's said it already

Twice.

"Kidnapped?"

"Yes, kidnapped. For the millionth time, kidnapped," Rodney snaps.

"But he is not a kid?" Radek says.

"Alright, he's been taken hostage, abducted. Whatever. The point is, he's missing," Rodney says.

Radek nods. Routine mission, Sheppard had said, no need for anyone else to tag along and Radek had known it was because of the planet, because of one of the cute doctors that Sheppard likes to flirt with.

So he'd gone alone.

And now he's been kidnapped.

"Do we know by whom? Wraith?"

Rodney shakes his head and that means that they've already been investigating and Rodney's already gone through his usual histrionics and Radek's been spared.

Now if he could just be spared the fact that his military commander has been kidnapped.

"No. We were picking up a signal, Morse code. It's not much, but it's all we have to go on. I mean, it has to be Sheppard, right?"

Radek nods. Of course Sheppard would use Morse code, SOS.

"What are you suggesting?"

"A few teams of Marines, in cloaked jumpers, to check it out," Rodney says.

"Can you have them ready soon?" Radek asks, looking over at Lorne.

"It's already done, sir."

Radek likes Lorne. Likes the fact that Lorne does not question, that he's a good solider, that he's smarter than people give him credit for.

That he knows how to handle himself in a crisis situation, because Radek's still somewhere around kidnapped.

"Then we must go as soon as possible."

"We?" Rodney asks.

They stare at him expectantly, each pretty shocked and surprised that he would want to go, no one as shocked as Rodney, though Ronon looks pretty close.

"Yes, we. If it is a group of people, then you will need someone to handle negotiations. This is my job," he says.

He feels confident, but that could just be adrenaline, coursing through his veins and making him feel like he knows what he's doing.

"It could be Wraith," Lorne says, doubt clear on his face.

Radek shakes his head. He doubts its' Wraith. Wraith tech would be too complicated to send a signal with, at least for Sheppard. Not that Radek doubts Sheppard's abilities, but something like this screams a certain level of understanding with the technology.

And he knows, somewhere in his gut, that this is not Wraith.

"I will go."

"You're a scientist," Rodney says.

"As are you."

"Yes, but I've been on off-world missions. I have training for this kind of thing. You should get your feet wet on an easier mission."

"Our Military Commander has been kidnapped, Rodney. Please tell me that this is not the perfect situation for me to… get my feet wet. I am the leader."

It doesn't come out as strong as it should.

"And if you go and it is the Wraith and we lose, Atlantis loses its whole contingent of leaders," Rodney says.

But he looks at the group that's charging to Sheppard's rescue and he knows that if they lose, then Atlantis will lose a lot more than that.

"Then we must ensure that we do not lose."


The first thing Radek thinks when he sees Larrin is that she's quite beautiful.

Then he thinks of course Sheppard would get kidnapped by good-looking aliens.

"Who are you?" she yells.

She holds her gun out, pointed at everyone, but it doesn't have the same effect when there are at least twenty Marines, all highly trained with their guns pointed at her.

They've managed to get this far. Instead of unleashing weapons on the fleet, Radek had the brilliant idea to open a channel and try to communicate with them. Negotiate some kind of sit down meet, with the other jumpers cloaked and sneaking in the second they opened the bay doors.

And this is what it's gotten them.

"We're here for our military commander. We do not want any trouble," Radek says.

"You've gone through a lot of trouble to get him back," she says.

"He is an important member of my staff."

"So, he's valuable?"

Radek frowns.

"What do you want?"

She smirks.

"You get right to the point."

"There's no reason not to. Is it repairs on this ship? Do you need assistance with your fleet?"

He can feel all eyes on him. This had been his decision to try and bargain with them, with Larrin. She looks at him speculatively, like she's trying to decide whether or not he can come through with his promises.

"You would do that? After I took your military commander hostage."

Good faith, he thinks and he watches Sheppard pace around his cell and he doesn't even look back to see if they're approving of what he's saying, what he's doing.

"I am sure that Colonel Sheppard has told you that we would help you if you had merely asked. We are not very vindictive people. We will help you with your ship if you need it, but you must release Colonel Sheppard."

"And if I don't?"

Radek takes a deep breath and straightens up as much as he can.

"Then we rethink our position on how vindictive we can be."

He doesn't have to turn around to see Ronon smirking, or Lorne looking at him with respect, or even Rodney staring at him in amazement. It's all reflected in Sheppard's wide eyes.

Larrin smirks.

"Sounds like we can do business."


It's after Colonel Sheppard's inevitable kidnapping, and Radek says inevitable because of course their ranking military officer would get kidnapped mere weeks into his new position as leader, that Rodney comes up to him, all wringing hands and nervous twitch.

He's holding something in his hand that Radek can't quite see because he's holding it so close and tight. He clears his throat and Radek looks up, sees him standing there in the doorway to the office that Radek commandeered.

(Not Elizabeth's old office. The memories are too sharp for that, too poignant with all the times that she sat there, determined look on her face as she went over why they needed to do this or that. He can't do that, not yet.)

"Yes?" Radek says.

Rodney huffs.

"You're leader of this expedition."

Radek frowns.

"I have been for quite sometime now."

"Four weeks, three days and… oh, six or seven hours give or take. Things work different on Atlantis than on Earth and we still haven't been able to figure out this new planet's rotation. But that's beside the point."

"There was a point?"

Rodney glares.

"Yes, there was. A very valid one, too. You're the leader and as much as I've squawked… you did good with the whole alien abduction thing, for what that's worth. Sheppard's fine, the city isn't in danger… you're doing good."

Radek frowns.

"Thanks."

Rodney snorts.

"Yes, well, take it for what it's worth. I don't give out compliments too often."

"I know."

"Teyla and Ronon both believe in you and John… he seems to be warming up to the idea. It was never a matter of you being incapable, you see. This… it's Elizabeth, you know. Losing her on top of everything with Carson… we're nothing if not survivors, though."

Radek frowns.

"I suppose."

"The thing is… this belongs to you," he says.

He holds his hand out and Radek sees a key, small and silver and Radek's frown deepens even more.

"What is it?"

"It's a key. It opens the drawers in Elizabeth's desk."

"Rodney, I don't…"

"There are files there. Stuff she'd want you to have. To look over. Not you specifically, but if she were to ever get replaced… she made me promise that I would give this to her… successor."

He doesn't say replacement. Radek silently thanks him for that.

"Why?"

"She… like I said. There are files she'd want you to look over."

"Could I not access them through the database?"

Rodney shakes his head.

"No, she kept them hidden. Her eyes only. There's a tablet… it has the necessary stuff that you need to look over. You'll know it when you see it. Also, you should really think about moving your stuff in there. It'd be a pain in the ass to have to run from here to the control room every time there's a disaster. And considering this is Atlantis… it's going to happen often."

"I don't…"

"It's not replacing her. It's just… it's just rational, you know. To move to the closer office. Just because… no one will think you're trying to replace her."

He nods.

"I suppose."

"If it's not her office, pick one that's at least closer to the control room. But… it would be easier. All of the stuff that you need is there."

"I will think about it."

Rodney nods.

"Yes, well, don't wait too long to open that drawer and check things out. There's important information in there."

Radek takes a deep breath.

"Right. I'll get right on it."


He gets up the courage to open the tablet about a week later.

It doesn't seem to be out of the ordinary, just standard issue and he shakes his head at Rodney's cloak and dagger routine. When he turns it on, it's devoid of anything standard.

This makes him straighten.

The only thing on it is video clips and a system to play them on. That's it. Nothing else. No files or information. Just video clips.

He shakes his head and picks one at random, third one down and he double clicks it till a separate window pops up. It takes seconds to load and then there's Elizabeth's face. She's smiling at the camera and Radek is thrown for a second, because it's Elizabeth and he hasn't seen her face since they put her stuff in her room, moved her stuff out of the office so it wouldn't have the funereal feel to it.

"I still remember that first outbreak. In the first year. All the panic that caused. It seems like a million years ago. Atlantis has had so many shut down crises since then. Of course, our latest involved whales, which was new."

She laughs, warm and rich and Radek's captivated.

"But there had been nothing like that first one. All of us stretching our limits. And okay, you can count the Genii invasion as the first time Atlantis had really been attacked. I'm not saying it wasn't, but I don't think the whole city really felt that one. Being shuffled off in the face of a storm that could have wiped us all out, yes, but that same razor edged hysteria… that'd be a no.

"So many people died that day. We almost lost some very valuable members of this expedition. I think… I think of what would have happened if we had lost those lives. I can't imagine it would have been anything good."

Radek straightens. He is one of those lives she is talking about. He'd almost died. He can't believe he'd almost forgotten about that.

She straightens up in front of the camera, goes from informal to professional in the span of seconds and her lips tighten.

"So this is to you, future leader of Atlantis or to whoever may be watching this. If you are not prepared for an outbreak to happen on Atlantis, then you're just tempting fate. Because it will happen."

She lets out a breath.

"And it will happen when you least expect it."

**** 

He is not sure he is hearing this correctly.

"Pegasus equivalent of chicken pox, then."

Doctor Keller at least has the courtesy to look taken aback.

He hasn't had much experience with her. She comes to the morning meetings and smiles at him as she tells him her new information. There isn't much of it, because there's nothing much new. No major crises and everyone that had been injured from the Replicator attack have healed up nicely.

At least the ones that are alive.

He has gone over Doctor Keller's file. She is very smart and had been very competent at her previous job, before Atlantis, and Elizabeth must have had some reason for promoting her after Carson's death.

He thinks he should probably take the time to figure out why. She had come up to him after the IOA had decided to make him leader. She had asked him if they had decided to change the Chief Medical Officer and he had told her no.

The look on her face had made him want to tell her yes.

She seems to second guess herself as much as Radek does, at least when it comes to the whole leadership thing. She is good at her job, Radek knows. Competent in what she is doing.

But it is hard to step into a place that had once been occupied by someone so grand.

He remembers looking at her, after Carson had died, and wondering himself. Because Carson had been a great friend to many, Radek included.

But now that he is her, he cannot judge.

"Yes, well, more advanced than that now. The basic structure is still the same, but there are definitely some changes to it." She says.

"Explains why Atlantis lockdown protocols haven't taken place yet. The system must think it's a harmless virus," Rodney says.

Radek nods.

"And it explains why Ronon and Teyla aren't affected. They have antibodies against it."

"That's all well and good, but how does that help us?" Sheppard asks.

"Well, it doesn't. Not really. I mean it would take months to reverse-engineer some type of cure,"  Keller says.

"There is a plant, the sap of the enchuri plant. My people have used it for generations to fight off the effects of Kirsun fever. It has always worked."

Ronon nods.

"Then we will go and find this plant. Colonel Sheppard, I hate to ask this, but…"

"We'll take a jumper."

Ronon frowns.

"You disabled the gate."

Radek swallows.

"What?"

"You disabled the gate. Like two hours ago. You and McKay took the crystal out yourself. To keep the virus from spreading to Earth."

He looks over at Rodney and Rodney looks just as clueless as he feels.

"I do not… I do not remember."

He tries very hard to remember. He thinks that he should probably remember. He's been popping the stimulants as much as every one else, but his grasp seems to be slipping just as much as theirs is. He thinks if he does not keep his sanity, if they all don't keep some semblance of sanity, Atlantis will be doomed.

He's just glad that Teyla and Ronon will keep theirs.

"Radek."

"I just… I do not remember. I don't even remember taking the crystal out."

Rodney frowns.

"Neither do I."

Radek does remember running into Lorne in full gear, gun never far from his hand and he'd looked tense, just like his men. He remembers that second of pure terror that overtook him, the one that said run, it's a trap, you must run.

He hadn't run. Instead he'd smiled tensely and Lorne and had told him to keep up the good work.

"So what are we going to do? If we can't find the crystal and we can't dial the gate…"

"Mainland?" Ronon says.

"Ronon is right. On many planets the enchuri plant is native. It is possible that it would grow here as well."

It's a plan. It's a not so well thought out plan, but it's a plan nonetheless. Rodney assures him that he can come up with some sort of delivery system through the ventilation shafts and Radek tells him yes, get it done.

While he tries to keep his strenuous hold on sanity.


They move.

He moves too, tries to keep them off his tail.

He's special, he thinks. They want him. They want all of them. They want stop until they've got them all on the run and scared.

He knows this, he thinks. It's almost instinctual, the way he feels it. That sliced panic running through his veins making him feel like he can never stop.

He must always move. He cannot stop.

He'd woken up alone, scared and in a strange place, glass surrounding him and he recognizes known of the faces in the pictures at the desk where he'd been sleeping at. Naturally he recognizes himself. He doesn't know how, but he has a feeling that it is him, the face staring back at him in a picture with a few others, but the other faces don't even register.

He gets up, walks and that is when he sees them.

They seem to spot him first, make loud noise and their boots do something to his whole nervous system. They set him on edge.

So the second he sees them, he runs.

He doesn't know where, but his feet take him places. Down long corridors and through green halls. He runs and scurries until his lungs start to hurt and he's panting and then he spots him.

"You," he says.

The man turns around.

"Oh thank god," he says.

He looks relieved, scared, but relieved.

"I had thought… where is everyone? I've… I've been running around here for a long time and I haven't seen anyone. Where is everyone?"

He frowns.

"They've all been taken."

"Taken?"

"Rounded up. By the soldiers. I do not…"

He stops. He thinks he hears something in the corridors, boots clanking. He does not know why the sound of boots makes him feel this way, why they make him  want to run and hide.

"The soldiers what? What don't you know?"

He knows his face. It's in the pictures he'd woken up near, though it's not nearly as pinched and annoyed looking.

He knows this man.

"I… I do not know anything."

The man sighs.

"Neither do I. I can't… I can't remember anything. Except."

He pulls out a tablet and presses a few things on the screen. A picture pops up and the man pushes it into his face.

"This woman. It… I say I have to find her. It's all in the video. Have you seen her?"

His brows furrow. He's been running through this huge place and he hasn't seen this woman. He's seen the soldiers rounding up women and men alike and taken them to someplace.

He doesn't know where; he doesn't follow.

"No."

"We have to find her."

"I… who is in charge here? Why… why is this happening?" he asks.

The man sighs.

"I don't know. All I know is that it is, and we have to find this woman. We have to find Teyla. She's important. Somehow."

He frowns. Every instinct in him is telling him to run, to not go snooping around for some woman he doesn't even know. They are rounding up people. Taking them out of their homes, or what can be seen as the equivalent of their homes. He wonders where they are, he wonders too much.

"I…"

"Hey! You! Stop!"

His eyes widen and he begins to run. He does not look back to see if the man is following him or running.

Then he stops, his body tightens and he feels electricity flow through him.

Then he doesn't feel anything at all.


He's been caught.

He's surrounded by others just like him, all scared and frightened and sweaty pale. Like they're sick. He wonders if they're all sick.

"You shouldn't try to escape. What about the soldiers?"

"I don't trust them. Why are they doing this to us? Why aren't they telling us anything?"

He looks up and sees the same man ranting to a woman. She looks tired, the same sweaty pale of all the people and he wonders, not for the first time, what the hell is going on.

"I… I don't know. But… we are sick. You can see it. Maybe it's for our own good."

"Then they should tell us that? They're acting like… like… I don't know. Something. It's on the tip of my tongue!"

He knows the feeling. He has a name for them, it's screaming in his brain but he cannot remember what it is.

"They… they are doing this. We do not know why. They have their reasons, maybe, but we do not know what they are. We must…"

The man looks at him hopefully. Like he has faith. Like he's supposed to solve everything with some sort of cleverly crafted plan.

"I do not know. We must ask who is the leader here."

"Well, they must be. What if… what if we're prisoners or something? What if that's why we're being held like this, why they aren't telling us anything?"

The woman looks scared out of her mind. There are plenty of people that look frightened out of their minds and he doesn't know what to do.

"I don't… I don't think we are. I mean I don't feel like a prisoner and even if I was… I may not have my memories but I just… I don't think that's how we do things."

"But you don't know. You don't know for sure. This could be exactly how things are run and we're just… we could be really bad people."

"You're just being… you're being hysterical, okay. We're not bad people. We're just stuck in a bad situation. Now, little guy is right. We need to find out who the leader here is. Anyone have any ideas?"

He shakes his head. He feels a little offended at being called the little guy, but at least the other man is agreeing with him.

That's something.

"Maybe it's the little guy."

He frowns.

"What?" The man says.

"Well, I just… I mean his jacket. Yours is blue and mine is yellow and the soldiers have black. He's the only one with red or maroon or whatever. Maybe that means something." The woman says.

"Huh?"

"That… I mean that's not… maybe I am just…"

"Even if he was, there's no proof. They're not gonna…"

"You're the one that said."

"I know but…"

He hears their boots before they come busting into the room, another person in hand and he wonders how many more of them there are. How many people are still running. The woman they're hauling in is speaking to them in some other language and he recognizes it.

He tries to calm her down, but she is hysterical, tears running down her eyes and she keeps repeating the same thing, please don't hurt me. I am innocent.

"You must tell us what is going on."

The soldier, he appears to be the leader. He has a hard look, but there is something in his eyes that screams paranoia, manic and high and he watches as the soldier pops some pills into his mouth.

"I don't have to tell you anything."

"Yes, yes you do. You cannot treat us like this. We are people."

"Look, I have my orders."

"From who."

The soldier hesitates. He sees it. The soldier does not even remember who gave him the orders. He's just following them blindly.

"You are scaring the very people you're trying to protect. Look at this woman."

She's so frightened and pale and she's still crying hysterically, telling them she hasn't done anything and he just knows what she is saying.

It reminds him of something, but he cannot remember what.

"I have orders," the soldier repeats.

"Think outside of your orders," the man says.

"I don't know what's going on. All I know is that I was told to round people up and bring them here. Those are my orders."

It feels futile. He can feel it in his bones. There's something about the mentality; the orders have been beaten into his head and he doesn't know if they'll be able to break him.

"This woman. You have to tell us about this woman," the man says.

He takes out his tablet and shoves it into the soldier's face. The soldier's face hardens and he doesn't know if he knows anything. He can't tell. There's something there, but the soldier hides it very quickly.

"I don't know anything about her."

"She's important, okay. She… she knows something or… I don't know. She could be the key to fixing this whole thing."

"Or she could be the cause."

The man's eyes widen.

"You know where she is. You're holding her. Look, the tablet says that she's important. You have to believe that."

"I don't have to believe anything."

This seems to be the end of the conversation in the soldier's eyes. He makes some hand movements and he and his men leave the room, the man screaming at them for the truth and the crying woman's sobs following them.

He purses his lips.

"We must get out of here," he says.

The man nods.

"Yes, yes we do."


They are the only ones that escape.

They don't know the city that well, they didn't even know it was a whole city until they saw it in all it's glory.

Beautiful, he thinks, utterly breathtaking and he knows why he lives here.

It's beautiful.

But there's no time for that. They must come up with a plan, but his head feels fuzzy and the man keeps calling Teyla by the wrong name. Everything in him is screaming to just avoid the soldiers, to hide away from everything.

He can't though.

They will never find Teyla, he thinks. They do not know where to even start and the city looks the same all around. Every corner the same, yet slightly different.

So they decide to follow the soldier.

It's a ridiculous idea, but it is the only one they have and they find guns, the same type of stunners that the soldiers have used on them. They do not want to kill the soldiers after all, because after this is all over they may regret it.

So they follow him and they get led straight to Teyla in a holding cell.

And that is when things piece together.

"I don't… I don't know. This… I don't remember anything."

"It is in your blood. It is who you are."

"Glad you have confidence in me, because I can't remember anything."

"Just focus," he says.

"Oh, what do you know? You're not being asked to do the impossible."

"But he has and you should listen to Radek. He is almost as brilliant as you are and he knows what he is talking about. You can do this Rodney."

She uses their names so casually. He is Radek. The other man is Rodney. She is Teyla. He doesn't remember, but he trusts that she knows.

"I don't…"

He presses a few buttons and that's it.

"Wow. It's done."

The man— Rodney-- looks up astonished.

"That's…"

"Amazing."

Rodney smiles.

"Yeah, it is."


He wishes he didn't have to deal with the paper work.

There's so much of it, and he still feels kind of crappy, what with recovering from the nasty virus. 

But it needs to get done and he is the leader.

He hears a knock on his door and he looks up. Major Lorne is standing there, looking sheepish and slightly pale.

"How are you?" Radek asks.

"Shaky. And embarrassed. But mostly shaky."

"What did Doctor Keller say about the stimulants?"

He frowns and makes his way over to the chair. He hadn't been hit as hard because of them, but stimulants do have their way of messing with your body. Radek knows. He's had enough days where he'd been forced to take too many to keep Atlantis afloat.

"We'll detox a bit. I can already feel it, you know. I was never one for medication. I'm always prone to cotton mouth and dry heaves. So on top of the whole coming down from the sickness, we get to be shaky too. At least I can take comfort in the fact that Sheppard is still knocked out cold."

"Hmm… yes. Amazingly."

"At least Atlantis is quiet. Meaning I can be shaky and embarrassed alone."

"You should rest."

"I just wanted to say sorry."

Radek shakes his head.

"It is fine. You were just doing what came naturally. We were all a little crazed."

"Yeah, but you tried to get through to me. I knew… I mean something in me knew that rounding up everyone like that was probably bad, but I just kept telling myself that I was following orders."

"You were. They were my orders."

Lorne gives him a small smile.

"Yeah, I know, but…"

"You did what you thought was good at the time and I did what I thought was good. We cannot be faulted if neither one of those were right."

"You helped save the day."

"Yes, well, what I really wanted to do was hide in the ventilation system."

Lorne frowns.

"I understand. Your gut is telling you one thing, but you have to ignore it or you follow it and it leads to where we were."

"So you don't think…"

"It was our first outbreak… without Elizabeth that is. We cannot be faulted if we didn't handle it in the best possible way."

Lorne smiles.

"You're doing good, Doc. Just so you know. She'd… she'd be proud."

Radek smiles.

"I would hope so."


"You're sure they don't need a military escort?"

Radek wrings his hands and this is the first time they've done a mission that hasn't followed procedure exactly.

He knows it's just a simple meeting with the Athosians, that there have been many before he was made leader of Atlantis, but things haven't exactly gone smoothly since he's been made leader.

And it's Doctor Keller's first off-world mission.

"They're gonna be fine. Teyla's been to a million of these things by herself," Sheppard says.

"I know, but…"

"You're worrying about this too much. It's just a check in with the Athosians. Make sure things are running smoothly. They'll get hopped up on Ruus wine during the Tendol Feast and come back happy and well fed."

Radek frowns.

"If you're sure."

"You have been around for these kinds of thing, Radek. Stop worrying."

"Yes, I know, but it seems that since I've taken command things have been going a bit more…"

"Things are running normally. You're just seeing it from a different perspective is all," Sheppard says.

Radek sighs and shakes his shoulders.

"I guess."

"Hey, you wanna grab some lunch? Maybe watch me and Rodney play chess and criticize our moves until Rodney yells at you?"

Radek raises an eyebrow.

"As entertaining as that sounds, Colonel, I think I'll pass. Besides, I have much paperwork to get to."

"Damn paperwork. It's part of the reason I keep Lorne around. He loves the stuff."

"He's told you this?" Radek asks questioningly.

Sheppard frowns.

"Well, no, but he does it without complaining."

Radek nods, brows furrowing.

"I think it is possible that Major Lorne needs a raise."


Radek's just managed to relax after sending Teyla and Doctor Keller off to New Athos. He's had time to immerse himself in paperwork and the daily life of Atlantis.

And just for kicks he had gone down to the mess hall to see Rodney lose spectacularly to Colonel Sheppard for the third time that day. Granted, they'd played six games, so the whole thing had been pretty even at that time.

Until Radek had started heckling.

So that had been pretty fun.

Now he sits at his desk, waiting for Teyla and Doctor Keller to come back, when Ronon comes barreling in, serious look on his face, fists clenching and unclenching. Radek knows it's because they're late and he's started to have that cold chill run through him as well about the whole thing.

"Teyla hasn't returned."

Radek frowns.

"I had noticed that," Radek says.

"Have you called the settlement?"

"I was just about to radio Colonel Sheppard about it."

"It's not like Teyla to be late."

Radek nods.

"I agree."

"So you gonna radio Sheppard?"

He seems worried, very worried, so Radek radios Sheppard right away and luckily enough he's already with Rodney. They make their way to the control room and Chuck dials the gate to New Athos.

Teyla doesn't respond.

Radek quickly sends a rescue team, though he knows he doesn't actually have to say anything for her team to go after her.


"Atlantis is going to throw you some curve balls."

Given, Radek thinks. Anyone that's in Atlantis knows that.

"And I'm not just talking about the Replicators and the Wraith and the Genii and all the craziness that happens there. Believe it or not, that's a given."

She huffs and pushes her hair out of her face.

"You know, you fight against the Wraith, help out villages and then you come back and one of your team members is turning into a bug. An honest to god bug. But I won't go into that. I mean, you can read it in the mission files.

"There are so many things out there. So many things in Atlantis. And you may think you know everything, but you don't."

She looks straight into the camera, eyes serious, and she makes you keep watching.

"Be prepared."


The Athosians are gone.

Just gone, and Radek doesn't know what to do with this information. They're gone. Vanished without a trace and Teyla had looked so lost as Doctor Keller had ushered her to the infirmary.

"There was no trace of them?" Radek says.

"None," Sheppard says, shaking his head.

"How is that possible?"

"I don't know, but they were just… they were gone," Rodney says.

Radek nods.

"We will look for them."

"Of course," Sheppard says.

It's really all they can say at this point.


Teyla comes to see him after Doctor Keller clears her.

Radek has already gone through the plans with Colonel Sheppard, rotating teams hot on the Athosians trail. They've already started to make contact with their allies off-world about the whole thing and Sheppard thinks they can keep this up for months if they have to.

He tells Teyla all of this, Radek knows he does, but Radek tells her again in the hopes that it might take the utterly devastated look off of her face.

It doesn't.

"Thank you," she says.

"It is no problem. The Athosians were… they are the first people that ever took us seriously. That ever offered their help and guidance to us in the Pegasus galaxy. Do not underestimate their importance to many of us here in Atlantis."

He thinks it's the right thing to say because her face brightens some.

He wishes it would brighten more.

"Your passion is very reassuring."

"Not too carried away, then."

She smiles.

"No. It was just right."

"Good. Because I know it seems bleak now, but we are going to put as many resources on this as we can."

"I do not doubt that."

"Good."

He doesn't think he can say anymore, but it is clear that she is here for a reason. She hasn't left after the reassurances and Radek can't even guess what it is she might want to say after this.

"Not to sound harsh, but is there more?" Radek asks.

Teyla's brow furrows and she opens her mouth a few times to say something, but no words come out. Radek leans forward and waits for the words to come.

"Doctor Keller has given me some very interesting news."

Radek looks up.

"I see."

"You do not wish to know?"

Radek shakes his head.

"Only if you wish to tell me."

"I could have a horrible virus that could affect everyone on Atlantis."

Radek smiles.

"Then she would have told me."

Teyla gives him a small smile.

"Then maybe it is not that."

"Do you wish to tell me?"

Teyla frowns.

"I… it may affect my work."

"You are in no way bound to tell me anything."

"I am pregnant."

Radek's eyes widen.

"Well, that is something."

"I… I do not know how to tell John and the others. I am not sure how they would take it. If they knew."

"I think Colonel Sheppard would advise you to resign from active duty."

Teyla frowns.

"I am not suddenly incapable because I am pregnant."

Radek's eyes widen.

"No one is saying that you are. But you must know that it puts everyone in an awkward position. Many of us… well, we love you Teyla, and we would not wish for harm to come to you or your child. I am sure Colonel Sheppard would feel the same way. It in no way means that you are incapable, or less of what you are. Many women on Earth take time off while they are pregnant and they don't have jobs nearly as dangerous as yours."

"The Athosian women have raised children with the threat of the Wraith for centuries."

"Yes, they have, but I think they didn't generally go looking for trouble. And you and your team never have to look very far."

"You think I should resign for active duty."

"I think you will make any decision you want. I also think that you put me in a difficult position. Me and Doctor Keller. Women on Earth who are in the military are often asked to resign from active duty. Nobody wants to be responsible for the tragedy of a miscarriage."

Teyla nods.

"You are a strong woman, Teyla. I have no doubts in your capabilities. I just… I just hope that you will discuss if with Colonel Sheppard sooner rather than later. Perhaps the two of you can come up with a timetable. A possibility for when your team will take lesser missions or, if you feel it necessary, resigning for active duty."

"You will not force me."

"Only if it seems to affect your work and Atlantis. Then I will ask you to really consider it. I do not want to have to force you, but if I have to..."

She smiles.

"Hopefully it won't come to that."

"Hopefully."

He means it, too. Teyla is a capable woman, but something like this is bigger than capability or feelings. He doesn't want to force her, but he may have to. Especially with the Athosians gone missing.

She will want to be out there, searching for them and seeking vengeance on those that took them, and he doesn't want to deny her that.

But he's not so sure he can be responsible for this.

"You will not tell John?"

He sighs.

"I think it would be better coming from you, but Teyla, you cannot wait too long. Colonel Sheppard… he is allowed to take you off his team."

Teyla frowns.

"You don't think…"

"I think he would see it as the right decision. Like I said before, nobody wants to take unnecessary risks."

She takes a deep breath.

"Please do not wait. I will back you up, but I can only do so for so long," Radek says.

She nods.

"I thank you for the time."

He smiles at her.

"It was easy."

She smiles too, and he thinks she will make an excellent mother and they may have a tough road— she may have a tough road— but he knows she can do this. She will have everyone behind her once they get used to the shock of the situation.

These are people that have given up pretty much any chance of a family like that, at least the dedicated ones have. He thinks he and Sheppard, maybe a few others. Rodney still clings to the notion, but Radek wonders sometimes.

But now is not the time for that.

"I think congratulations are in order."

She takes a shaky, shocked breath.

"Yes, I suppose. I just… with everything."

"It is okay to take a moment to be happy about this."

She nods.

"I know."

****

Their sources run out of new information.

It takes awhile, weeks, but eventually all of the tests and recon come back saying the same thing.

The Athosians have disappeared without a trace.

Radek is determined to keep looking though, no matter what it takes, and he's willing to listen to every idea they might have on the matter.

This, of course, is not what he'd been expecting.

"He can see the future?" Radek says.

Rodney's still rolling his eyes over the whole thing and Radek can't blame him. Something like this is virtually impossible according to what they both believe as scientists.

Of course, Radek had thought wormhole travel to different galaxies had been virtually impossible before Pegasus.

"It is rumored that he can do so, yes."

"And you think he might know where the Athosians are?"

She smiles hopefully.

"Our usual means of obtaining information has told us that there is nothing. This could be a way to get the information that I seek, that we all seek. The way to find my people."

"And it's not exactly a hardship. We have no missions scheduled for the day. Let's just check out this planet, see if it turns anything up," Sheppard says.

Rodney's still rolling his eyes. Ronon has remained quiet throughout which tells Radek nothing, but he thinks that Ronon will go anywhere Teyla asks of him.

Radek thinks it's only right that he do the same.

"Fine. Check it out. Be as cautious as you normally would. And remember that Mr. Woolsey is coming in from the Midway station today."

They don't exactly groan out loud, but it's in their expressions, the way they shake their heads and Rodney rolls his eyes again.

Radek's starting to think if he does that one more time, his eyes are going to get stuck.

"I know an IOA inquisition is never fun and I know that it's my fault that he's coming here."

"It's not exactly your fault. This three month evaluation thing… they never did it to Elizabeth," Rodney says.

Radek frowns.

"Yes, that makes me feel so much better about the situation," Radek says dryly.

Rodney shrugs his shoulders.

"Well, it's not like they could."

"Yes, well, be that as it may, Mr. Woolsey is stopping in. So…"

"We know, be on our best behavior and try not to get ourselves killed," Sheppard says with a smile.

Radek doesn't feel at all comforted.


" IOA inquisitions are like… there's nothing like them. I mean, I could compare them to something I suppose, but… you can't really know until you've been through one."

She straightens and lets out a sigh.

"I suppose I should be trying to warn you, whoever you are. Give you tips, make it easier on you. But the truth is, nothing will make the IOA easier. And who knows if the same people are even going to be there by the time I'm gone. I guess my hope would be that we all left at the same time.

"Really though, with the pressure I receive from them… and although they're all the way on Earth, in the Pegasus galaxy I still feel heat from them. And the inquisitions… I guess the only advice I can give is be yourself.

"Because they can second guess every one of your decisions and make you feel so small in the process, if you let them. If you let them get to you. You have to remember that your decisions are yours and when you made them, they seemed like the best possible solution and hindsight is very much twenty- twenty."

She shakes her and looks off to the side, biting her bottom lip slightly.

"You know, listen to me. I let them get to me sometimes,"she says, eyes still staring off.

"It's hard not to. I understand that, but you also have to stand up for yourself. You also have to know that the people you lead are going to stand up for you."

She turns back to the camera and smiles.

"I guess that's the only real advice I can offer."


He's nervous.

He can't help it. His flagship team is off hunting down a psychic and he doesn't feel at all calm about anything.

And when Mr. Woolsey steps through the gate, he feels even less calm.

"Mr. Woolsey," he greets.

He puts out his hand and Mr. Woolsey shakes it, firm grasp and Radek clears his throat.

"How was your trip?" Radek asks politely.

He starts to talk about the Midway Station and how he'd been stuck there for a day in quarantine and Radek nods, doesn't say much of anything, just nods along and he's still not sure of what to do with his hands.

Woolsey explains that he is only here as an observer, that he is not here to interfere in anyway, but Radek isn't stupid.

And he finds it a bit insulting that Mr. Woolsey would think he was.

"Well, I…" he begins to say when Chuck radios loudly that there is an unscheduled off-world activation.

"Um… I must attend to that." 

So he goes and Mr. Woolsey follows, pulling out a rather large notebook that resolutely does not make Radek feel more nervous.

"It's Captain Robbins on M2R-441, sir," Chuck says.

Radek nods.

"Yes Captain," Radek says.

Robbins tells them of the villagers that have been culled and how they had been visited by another Wraith ship. A ship that had left a message with these villagers to pass on to the Lanteans.

A message that says this Wraith wants to meet with Colonel Sheppard.

Mr. Woolsey begins to write in his notebook and Radek thinks that nothing about this visit will go standard.

But then again, that would be asking for too much anyway.


"You think its wise then," Radek says.

Sheppard nods.

"We've got the upper hand here, no? I mean, we know what's going to happen."

Radek's lips purse and he tries not to think about the fact that the psychic they had thought was just rumor has actually turned out to be a psychic.

Mr. Woolsey writes all of this down in his notebook.

"I suppose you're right," Radek nods.

He doesn't need to know the plan to know that there is a plan. Probably one very much like the plan they always have, go into the meeting, the trap, and have some cloaked jumpers making sure things don't go utterly pear-shaped.

Mr. Woolsey, however, does not seem to get the fact that this is the plan.

"You're talking about just walking into an ambush."

"Yep," Sheppard says, that same fake innocent smile that makes Radek feel nervous and his blood pressure rocket up a few notches.

Doctor Keller says it doesn't actually, but Radek is not convinced.

But he watches as his team leaves and he knows that they will be alright. This isn't their first stab at this, after all.

Mr. Woolsey does not look as convinced.

"You're just going to let them go."

"Yes?"

He doesn't mean for it to come out sounding like a question.

"But they're deliberately walking into a trap."

"They have a plan. Colonel Sheppard has a plan."

"Really, because he didn't seem so inclined to share that with the class."

"He wasn't aware that he had to. You are witnessing the day-to-day operations of Atlantis."

"He routinely doesn't specify his plans in writing, or even orally?"

"He does not have to," Radek says.

"Well, perhaps you can explain it to us who are not so tuned in."

Radek frowns.

"Colonel Sheppard knows this is a trap. He is not a stupid man. He will no doubt gather two teams of Marines, with Major Lorne leading one team, and have them follow him through the gate in cloaked jumpers as back up."

"And you got all that from 'yep'."

"Yes," Radek says, like it should be obvious.

It is obvious to him.

"I see," Mr. Woolsey says, and he still does not seem as convinced.

He jots something down in his notebook and Radek feels his blood pressure rise again.

This job is turning him into a bigger hypochondriac than Rodney.


Woolsey keeps following him around.

He knows, on some level, that this is to be expected. Woolsey is here to monitor him, to write a report on how he is doing as leader of Atlantis.

Woolsey follows him around the control room and to his office as he nervously waits for Sheppard and his team to get back from their mission. Woolsey follows him to the control room and interrupts his conversation with Doctor Keller.

Observe, Radek thinks. If observe means the same as interfere, then yes, Mr. Woolsey is here to observe just as he says.


This is the kind of information he hadn't wanted to come out during the IOA inquisition.

The Replicators are attacking people as a means of defeating the Wraith. Crude, yes, but apparently, according to Todd, fairly effective. It's keeping the Wraith on their toes and they're beating their heads against the wall to try and figure out the attack code.

And how to make it inactive.

"This is not good," Radek says.

Rodney sighs and shakes his head.

"No. It's not. Thousands of people, dead. Because of me."

"Rodney," Sheppard says.

"What, you're gonna try and convince me that it's not because of me? That this isn't my fault? We had everything we needed and then… then we just got… it was my idea to deactivate the attack code."

"It was my call."

"Yeah, but…"

"It was a good idea."

Rodney looks over at him, frowning.

"What?"

"It was a good idea. With all of the information that we had, it was a good idea."

"Really?"

"Yes, do you not think so? Get the Replicators off our back and the Wraith cut down. Why would that not be a good idea?"

"Because it's too good to be true?" Rodney mutters.

"Hindsight."

"Yeah, it is twenty/twenty after all. There was no way we knew the Replicators were going to go on a mass killing spree," Sheppard says.

"But didn't we… the nanovirus…"

"There was never anything that definitively linked the nanovirus to the Replicators," Radek says.

"Other than the fact that it was tiny little robots that made people's heads explode? And the fact that they hate people."

"Yes, yes, it's all very biblical, with the favored sons. We can keep going over this again and again…"

"Or we can come up with a solution. I got it, Oh Fearless Leader."

Radek smirks.

"Any solutions?"

"We know it's been done before."

"By the Wraith," Radek says.

"And our new prisoner claims to have the original deactivation code," Sheppard says.

"Which could be very useful in finding a way to engineer some new type of code that will stop them," Radek says.

"So we try and make a deal with him," Sheppard says.

"Cooperate with the Wraith," Radek says.

He sees the hesitant looks on their faces and he gets that.

"There you are."

Radek sighs.

He takes a deep breath and stiffens a bit, bracing himself for Mr. Woolsey and he turns around.

"Yes."

"I had wondered where you had gone off too. This is Doctor McKay's lab, yes?"

Rodney nods.

"I guess you were discussing this new development."

He says it so casually, like thousands haven't died, fake sincerity.

"Yes, we were just discussing whether or not to try and bargain for the original deactivation code," Radek says.

"You mean cooperate with the Wraith?"

"That is a possibility, yes."

"Well, that's out of the question."

Radek frowns.

"I do not think…"

"Must I remind you what happened the last time we cooperated with the Wraith? It did not end well."

"No, but…"

"Colonel Sheppard, as someone who has the most experience with the Wraith, what would you think our best course of action would be?"

"I think you should let Radek finish a sentence."

Mr. Woolsey's lips purse and he gets that pinched look on his face. He stands up straight and adjusts his tie.

"Well, then, Doctor Zelenka. What do you think the best course of action is?"

Radek frowns.

"I think the best course of action is to think about this some more. We do not want to make any rash decisions."

Mr. Woolsey cocks an eyebrow.

"I see."

Radek's really starting to get sick of those words.


Mr. Woolsey is talking to his superiors.

He's doing it cloak and dagger style too, which is pretty hard considering the only way to talk to people in the Milky Way galaxy is through the control room. He's demanded complete monopoly of the control room and as much as Radek hates it, he has to let him.

Chuck glares the whole time and when Mr. Woolsey adjusts his chair, Radek thinks he might have to stop Chuck from committing homicide.

Radek just watches from his office.

"So, it's confirmed then."

"Yup, another two worlds destroyed," Sheppard says.

"Then this is not just a fluke. The Wraith is serious."

"It would appear."

"I feel any decision I make is just going to lead to more people dying."

"Well, you did kind of inherit this problem."

"Yes, because I hadn't been right there. Because I hadn't seen Rodney going over the attack code many times. Because I hadn't helped him with it. If I were him… I would have made the same decision."

"And now we're here."

"Yes, we are. We can either trust the Wraith…"

"Something Mr. Woolsey doesn't want."

"Yes, well, he's contacting the rest of the IOA right now. Apprising them of the situation."

"You do know that they're just going to argue about this until you're forced to make a decision without them that they can say is the wrong one."

Radek frowns.

"Yes, I'm very well aware of what they did to Elizabeth. I was there."

Sheppard nods.

"Yeah, well…"

"I just have to decide what I am going to do. That's what Elizabeth would do. Make a decision and stick with it."

"Right."

"I just don't know what that decision is yet. I mean, this Wraith, well, we don't have to trust him implicitly, but if we could trust him for a time, we could maybe make this thing work," Radek says.

"And we have to trust a Wraith to do it," Sheppard says after long moments of silence.

"Yes, well, stranger things have happened before. We have a possible psychic in our infirmary."

Sheppard nods and takes a deep breath.

"Yeah. I'd almost forgotten about that."


Keller's news isn't any better than the news of the Replicators. 

"So, he's really a psychic?"

"Yup. It's a genetic defect. He was born this way."

Radek nods.

"Mister Woolsey wants a copy of my report," she says.

She says it like she doesn't want to, says it like she's completely uncomfortable with it and Radek can understand the ethics behind that uncomfortable feeling.

"I am sorry, Doctor, but you will have to give it to him. The IOA demands complete cooperation on these things. And they would probably see it anyway after it was sent to the SGC. This way…"

"This way we don't look bad," she says a bit angrily.

Radek frowns.

"Davos is dying. They will not make him come to Earth or anything like that. The most they can do with this information is study it. Just like you plan to do here. Now I understand…"

"No, look, it's possible I'm overreacting."

"There is much of that right now."

She sighs.

"I guess these IOA things make people jumpy."

"I am fairly nervous," Radek says.

She smiles.

"I've heard about the Replicators."

Radek bites his lip and shakes his head.

"Yes, well… I suppose I should see the patient," Radek says.

She frowns at the segue, but nods.

"Yes, I suppose. I think he's awake now."

Radek nods and follows her to Davos' bed. His daughter is there. She is pretty and young and blonde and smiles warmly at him, even though her hand clutches so firmly at her father's shoulder and it is clear she is scared. Radek nods to her as well, but there really isn't much he can say to her.

He is not good with those kinds of words.

Davos smiles as he approaches and Radek wonders if introductions are necessary. 

"Hello, I am Doctor Radek Zelenka."

"You are the leader of these people."

"The ones in Atlantis, yes."

"Hmm… you are very wise, but also very troubled."

"Troubled?"

"Yes, you hold the weight of many on your shoulders. Not an easy task,of course. You have very many questions and I am afraid I do not have as many answers."

"It is alright," Radek says.

Davos' eyebrows furrow and Radek puts on what he hopes is his most reassuring smile.

"I did not come here for answers. I just wanted to see that you were alright."

"I am, for now. I may be sick, but I have much to say before I pass. In fact..."

He holds out his hand and Radek looks at him uncomprehendingly for a second. He does not know what Davos wants until Davos sighs.

"I have something to show you."

"I… you are very weak."

"You must see this. I believe it is part of the reason I was sent to you."

Radek looks over at Dr. Keller and he feels very nervous, but she shrugs and makes a gesture like go ahead.

"I sense the doubt within you, but you must see this."

His voice holds conviction, slight desperation to take away this burden that he bears.

Radek nods.

"Sure."

He takes Davos's hand and then a wave passes over him, cold and hot at the same time and his skin tingles and the light feels brighter than ever.

And then he sees it.

Davos' vision, the one he had to pass on to Radek so badly.

It's the destruction of Atlantis.

Radek watches it as though it were a movie, as though it weren't actually happening to him. It's filled with static, unclear and it makes his head hurt just a little, but Radek thinks that could be because it all goes by in a rapid motion.

When it ends, Radek doesn't say anything, but he looks over and Davos who has a pained look on his face.

"I am sorry," He says.

And Radek thinks, we're all sorry.


"We have to stop trusting this Wraith," Woolsey says.

"Not necessarily," Sheppard says.

"Yes, necessarily. These visions…"

"Aren't real. I don't buy it."

Woolsey sighs that sigh that makes Radek thinks he's dealing with children instead of grown adults.

"The vision that Doctor McKay experienced, as well as the other ones, have come true exactly as Davos had predicted them."

"The Replicators are not destroying this city. Not as long as I'm around," Sheppard says.

"But you're not really in the driver's seat here, Colonel. Doctor Zelenka…"

"I think perhaps we are approaching this the wrong way," Radek says.

Woolsey frowns.

"How do you mean?" Woolsey says.

"We cannot just assume that these visions just happen. Like Rodney said, maybe they only predict outcomes that are probable."

"With all due respect, Doctor Zelenka, considering that all of them have come true I would say that this is all a little more than probable."

His tone is haughty and Radek feels a little stupid for even saying it.

"I am merely pointing out that perhaps we should not focus on the fact that this may or may not happen. We have to focus on why the Replicators attack."

"Because we're thinking about teaming up with the Wraith."

"But we can't know that."

"Yes, yes we can. We can because we're not a target right now, but we will be eventually. All because you want to team up with the Wraith to disable the attack code. Of course that makes us a target."

"Just like the rest of the humans in this galaxy, who are dying by the thousands because of something we did," Sheppard says.

"Again, I say…"

Sheppard looks ready to hit Woolsey and Radek doesn't have the words to stop him, can't even think of the words to stop him.

Not when Radek wants to hit him as well.

"I say that perhaps we shouldn't make any rash decisions. That we keep going on things according to plan."

"And what plan is this, Doctor Zelenka? You've been decidedly indecisive about the whole thing up until now."

Radek takes a deep breath.

"I just think…"

He is interrupted by Chuck and he's never been so grateful for Chuck's excellent timing, his ability to come in when things are at their most tense and give them some new information that will keep their minds of the other problem at hand.

Except.

"We've been monitoring the Hiveships, just a precaution to make sure that they don't find out our location. They don't usually do anything out of the ordinary. Except this one, about an hour ago, suddenly changed course and is headed straight for us," Chuck says.

His words are quick, his tone hurried and Radek nods.

"They're not supposed to know where we are," Woolsey says and Radek thinks a big fat duh.

He wishes he could say it out loud.

"No, they're not supposed to," Sheppard mutters, before he rushes off.

Woolsey stares at him and at Sheppard walking off into the distance.

Radek opens his mouth several times to say something before he sighs, giving up, and he rushes off to follow after Colonel Sheppard.


 


****

He feels the weight of everything crashing down on him.

He hides in his old office because it feels the most comfortable, most familiar and he doesn't want to think about the Hiveship in orbit above the planet. He does not want to think about the fact that the Wraith that they're holding is the reason that there is a Hiveship in orbit around their planet.

He just doesn't want to think about any of it.

Even if the Wraith has promised that the Hiveship is just there for security reasons. That they won't attack unless they need to, unless the Atlanteans force their hand.

Radek still doesn't want to think about it.

"Hiding?"

Radek frowns and turns. Colonel Sheppard is leaning against the doorway, unreadable look on his face and Radek nods.

"Perhaps."

"So that's a yes."

"That's a perhaps," Radek says.

Sheppard nods.

"You're going to have to come up with some kind of decision soon. Woolsey's chomping at the bit to do so."

"He's going to make a decision, then."

"He seems to be putting a lot of stock in these visions. Wants to blow the Wraith out of the sky. Not that I can blame him for that, but…"

"This, I do not understand," Radek says.

"You're not the only one," Sheppard mutters.

"This man cannot know the future."

"Everything he's said so far has proven true."

"Yes, but… the destruction of Atlantis."

"Radek."

"I just… he couldn't have picked the worst possible time to come."

Sheppard smiles.

"Woolsey."

"That man has a way of getting under one's skin."

"Tell me about it."

"I can see him, looking at me, trying to undermine my every decision. Something tells me that I was only approved for this job by him because he thought I would bend to his will."

"But you won't," Sheppard says.

His tone is strong. Stronger than Radek would have thought, and he's not just saying it. Radek can tell that he actually means it.

Radek frowns.

"No."

"Because you know what is best for Atlantis."

"I…"

"Look, Radek, I wouldn't want this job. I just… I took it when we were floating out in space, because someone had to step up. And as much as Rodney prides himself on his leadership ability… it'd been a military situation.

"But now, the day to day. I told Ellis once and I tell you, as much as the idea of being leader of Atlantis is appealing… I'm not sure I'd be cut out for it."

"I think you'd make a fine leader," Radek says.

Sheppard smiles.

"That's nice, but look, I make the tough decisions and I love Atlantis because it's the first place that's… I just don't think I'd be good at it."

Sheppard fidgets and Radek knows that he's admitting more than his fair share of feelings over the whole thing.

"You're good Radek. And you're getting better by the day. Don't yield to the IOA. Stick to your guns."

"I don't even know what my guns are," Radek says morosely.

Sheppard smiles a little.

"Sure you do. You just don't know that you know."

Radek's frown deepens and Sheppard shakes his head.

"I mean you know, okay, because it's already there, in your heart or whatever. In your gut. You know what the right decision is and, when the time comes, you'll make the right one. The best one for Atlantis."

Radek nods.

"I want to trust this Wraith," Radek says.
Sheppard shrugs.

"It's a tall order."

"For the moment, there are no other Hiveships on the way. We need his help."

Because they do. Rodney says that the attack code will take some working around and they can't do it without the original virus that the Wraith created.

"Then I guess, for the moment, we're trusting him."

Radek sighs.

"Yes, for the moment."


Trusting the Wraith is made slightly harder when Teyla receives a vision.

Hers also shows the destruction of Atlantis, only not really. It shows the Wraith, it shows them firing drones at the Wraith, shows a Hiveship exploding.

Woolsey takes this to further his point.

"We have to destroy the Hiveship," he says.

"If we do that, then we loose our best chance to defeat the Replicators," Radek says.

"It may not matter. Either way, events will unfold that lead to the destruction of that Hiveship."

"Then that also means that events are gonna unfold that lead to the destruction of Atlantis. If we think that way, then what the hell are we doing here?" Sheppard says angrily.

He offers the solution of a double cross. Say what they need to and get the original deactivation code, and then blow the Wraith out of the sky. Ronon agrees, but there are flaws with that plan.

One, Rodney cannot finish the plan without the Wraith's help and if they double cross the Wraith then that will definitely ensure that they don't have his help. Two, the Wraith could still compromise their position if they do not act fast enough.

"I do not know why we are still discussing this. I have already made the decision to trust the Wraith. The Hiveship in orbit and Teyla's new vision do not change that fact."

Sheppard nods and Woolsey looks as though he wants to say something, but his lips purse.

"Though perhaps I must speak with the Wraith. Just to ensure that this is the best course of action."

Sheppard nods again and Radek gets up from his seat.

"Mr. Woolsey, perhaps you would like to join me," Radek says.

Mister Woolsey blanches.

"Me."

Radek tries to keep the smirk off of his face.

"Yes, lets go."

It's probably the cruelest thing he's done. Mister Woolsey looks terrified, not that Radek feels any better. Radek knows the Wraith, he's lived under threat of imminent Wraith attack, has worked with their technology and talked to their scientists.

Mister Woolsey hasn't done any of those things.

So they stand there, facing the Wraith and he's snarling a bit and looking angry. He's got at least four Marines with weapons trained on him and Sheppard stands to Radek's right side, Mister Woolsey on his left.

He can take comfort in the fact that Mister Woolsey looks terrified.

Radek finally finds his voice and he lays down all of their terms, Sheppard standing there looking menacing and Radek doesn't think his voice breaks at all.

You are the leader of your people, the Wraith asks at the end, you are the one that makes these decisions? He says it after agreeing to everything and Radek nods.

The Wraith says nothing, just sneers and Radek steps back outside of the cell and watches the force field go up.

"I hope you realize what you have done?" Mister Woolsey hisses.


They get the code; Rodney starts working with the Wraith.

It kind of amazes Radek how at ease Rodney can be with working with a Wraith. They start working on it immediately.

It doesn't take long for Rodney to realize that the Wraith are holding out on them.

And its right around the time that Chuck walks in again and tells them that there is another Hiveship on the monitors.

And of course they knew this was going to happen, on some level, but Mister Woolsey is using this as his perfect platform.

"We're just going to cloak the city because a Wraith tells us too? He is more than likely lying. He's been lying to us this entire time."

"That's not true," Radek says.

"Yes, it is, Doctor Zelenka? Or haven't you realized that yet?" Mister Woolsey says like he's talking to a two year old.

Radek really doesn't appreciate that.

"I have and he's just doing what he thought would be necessary. He is a Wraith and we haven't forgotten that at any point."

"There is another Wraith ship coming. Perhaps now is the time to remember what it was like when they were laying siege to Atlantis."

Radek frowns.

"I haven't forgotten that. I was here for that. You were on Earth, Mister Woolsey. You do not know."

"They could attack us. We would be left vulnerable."

"Whoa, whoa. Now the Wraith are the ones who are gonna wipe us out. You said it was the Replicators. Which one is it?" Sheppard says.

Radek's grateful for the interruption, for Sheppard's input.

"Exactly. We are sticking with the plan."

Mister Woolsey glares.

"May I say that it's ridiculous plan, thought up by people that clearly aren't thinking."

Radek glares.

"You may, but I don't think it's going to do you any good."


"You're not freaking out, are you?"

Radek frowns.

"There are about to be two Hiveships orbiting our planet. Of course I am not… freaking out."

Sheppard bites his bottom lip and Radek really wishes the Colonel would stop following him around like this. He's already seen him in two varying states of uncertainty and Radek knows it's not doing much to assure everyone— Sheppard, he means because even though Sheppard got over the whole thing a lot more easily than Rodney had, Radek still sees doubt some days.

"Yeah, okay, point."

Radek sighs.

"You should go to the chair room."

"Yeah, well…"

"We will be fine up here. But if we need to fire the drones… you're the only person who can do that."

"So we're going with that course of action?"

Radek shakes himself.

"I do not know. I think… no, I think not. I just don't know yet."

"Is it… is it the visions."

"No, though they are troubling."

This does not seem to the answer that Sheppard had expected, but really, the visions aren't tripping him up. Not any more than any other kind of information.

They visions are fairly generic, all things considered, and Radek does not put much stock in them. They happen yes, but it's almost like a horoscope. Such a small glimpse is not enough to convince him that they are infallible.

"Then what is it?"

"Just plain doubt."

"Over?"

"The decisions I have to make. Whether or not I am the most qualified person for the job. I am used to running around with Rodney trying to figure out the puzzle. Instead I am dealing with bureaucracy and Mr. Woolsey."

"He was harsh."

Radek snorts.

Harsh doesn't quite describe it, not completely, Radek thinks. He was more than harsh. He was mean and cruel and he said all the things that Radek had been letting settle in the pit of his stomach in the first place.

"He is right though. The city is our first priority, but how can we stand by while the decisions we made to stay alive make it impossible for others to do so?"

"It's a sticky position."

"One I've never been in before. I build the bombs, Colonel. I write the codes and help with the retroviruses. I sit in the scientist chair and there's nothing wrong with that. I enjoy that. I just don't know if I'm cut out for the leader one."

"The decisions you've made so far have been right on. And you're right. We can't just sit here while the rest of the galaxy gets destroyed."

"Then I guess we continue," Radek says.

Sheppard nods.

"Yeah, we continue."


He does not mean to see Davos.

He knows, the visions, knows what the mean and yes they're terrifying, but he doesn't believe.

He does not believe.

He doesn't know why he goes to see the man, sick in his death bed and Radek can tell, just from the guarded look on Doctor Keller's face and the way the nurses whisper quietly, they he is going to die.

Soon more than likely.

He doesn't ask about the visions and Davos respects that. He does not say much at all and Davos seems to respect that as well.

"The people of this galaxy are important to us?" He says to him.

Davos shakes his head.

"And that is why it is so hard for you to make a decision."

"The decision is made. It is sticking with it that is hard."

Davos shakes his head again.

"Yes, I can sense that. The weight of it all, resting squarely on your small shoulders. On the shoulders of your people."

He sighs and takes a deep breath, eyes flickering slightly and he is weak, Radek knows this.

The galaxy is at a crossroads, he says and Radek knows this.

"Never before have I sensed that the future of so many worlds can turn on the actions of so few," Davos says.

"So few who are not qualified," he mutters.

Davos laughs.

"No one is quite qualified for this."


This is it, he thinks. This is it.

"Cloak the city, Rodney."

Rodney nods, nothing betrayed in the look on his face and he starts going about setting the necessary things for the cloak.

Mister Woolsey is saying something, trying to complain about the fact that once the cloak is up, they'll have to take a long time to bring up the shields.

Radek knows this. Radek's repaired both systems enough times and he knows them like he knows himself.

Better even.

"This is the right course of action," Radek says.

His voice doesn't even shake that much.

"It will be the only course of action," Mr. Woolsey says.

"Perhaps. If it worries you that much you can go back to Midway through the Stargate. There is still time before the other Hiveship appears."

He shakes his head and Radek nods.

There is no going back now.

Colonel Sheppard gets into position and after that it is just waiting, silently waiting for something to happen as the second Hiveship leaves hyperspace. Rodney does the running commentary, Sheppard listening for anything but radio silence and he tersely demands to know what is going on.

Rodney tells him to hold on.

And then they're powering up weapons.

It happens in a blur really, Woolsey's shocked exclamation and Rodney's panicked face, Sheppard saying he's going to fire the drones and Radek thinks he has seconds to think before he does it.

"Wait," he says.

Rodney looks at him incredulously and Sheppard remains utterly quit on the line.

"If we just wait."

"There is no more waiting Doctor Zelenka!" Woolsey screams.

But there is, Radek thinks, but he can't explain why and he looks over to Rodney for some help, for some reassurance, for Rodney to understand. He doesn't look like he gets it, not entirely, but he's willing to walk through the fire.

"This for the best, I swear. Just…. Wait."

"You're crazy."

"That may be, but I just…"

"Colonel Sheppard, I am ordering you to fire the drones on those Hiveships," Woolsey says into his radio.

"What…"

"As ranking member of the IOA I am taking over this base, and if you don't like that then…"

"Colonel Sheppard, do no fire those drones," Radek screams into his radio and he doesn't care what Mister Woolsey has to say about that.

It doesn't seem to matter; Sheppard doesn't fire the drones.

And as quickly as it had started, it ends.

"Wait," Rodney says.

There's a smile forming on his lips and then he's shaking his head, snapping his fingers and waving his hands and they're firing on each other, he says excitedly, they're firing on each other and they're not going easy either.

The sound of weapons firing can't be heard, but Rodney's fingers on his keyboard are noisy enough as they wait for the small battle taking place to end. It's minutes really, and Radek knows that they stretch for a lot longer than they should. He knows its minutes because with that kind of firepower, it doesn't take very long.

It still feels like a lifetime before Rodney tells him that both of the ships have destroyed each other.

"Did they get a message out?" he asks Rodney.

His heart feels like it's beating out of his chest and it's all sort of anticlimactic, but he still feels all the adrenaline coursing through his veins and he doesn't know when it's going to crash.

"No," he says and Radek thinks that one single word has never sounded as good as that one.

He sighs. He feels like he can breathe again and he can't focus on Mister Woolsey who is probably having his own like breakdown over the admittedly great turn of events.

He's just happy they've all survived.

"You can stand down now, Colonel," He says.

There's no crackle from the other side of the radio line, just a tired and eager okay, yes.



Mister Woolsey looks chagrined, face cast down and Radek almost feels sorry for him.

He's done with his evaluation. Nothing much more to say after Atlantis' position had been compromised and it would have been all Mister Woolsey's fault.

Radek thinks that his decision is the same kind of impulsive decision they'd always accused Elizabeth of making.

Everyone in Atlantis seems to be holding their breath, ready for Mister Woolsey to be gone and Radek can't really blame them.

Odd things seem to happen when he's around.

"Well… I suppose…"

He trails off, clearing his throat a bit and Radek stares at him, waiting for him to say something, whatever it is he was about to say.

"I don't really know what to say in this situation."

His voice is low, as though he thinks it will carry to all of the inhabitants of Atlantis.

"I don't either."

Mister Woolsey grimaces.

"I suppose I deserve…"

"You were making a decision you thought was right. Whether or not it was didn't matter much at the time."

"Really."

"Yes, no one… no one could have known for sure."

"That doesn't help much."

Radek shrugs.

"No, I imagine it doesn't. But that's life here in Atlantis. You make the best decisions that you can."

"Some better than others, I suppose."

"With hindsight, yes."

Mister Woolsey nods.

"I just… I have to ask, because it's been on my mind a bit. How did you know the Wraith ships were going to fire on each other?"

There are many reasons, Radek thinks, not the least of which is the in fighting amongst the Wraith and the exiled status of the Wraith they currently have hostage. So many reasons, facts that Radek has gleamed from tense meetings, looking for a way out.

But, in all honesty.

"I didn't. It was… a hunch I suppose," Radek says.

He's honest and something about the honesty behind it shocks Mister Woolsey just a bit. He frowns and for a moment, Radek thinks that the other man might ask more, might ask how Radek had been willing to place the lives of all those on Atlantis on the line for a hunch.

He doesn't say anything though, mouth shuts and he nods.

"I suppose we all have to rely on our gut feeling every once in awhile."

Radek nods.

Mister Woolsey starts to make his way towards the gate and Radek takes a deep breath.

He knows his position on Atlantis is safe for a little while longer.


He wishes there were a video to tell him Congratulations, you've passed your first IOA inquisition.

Unfortunately, there isn't and Radek thinks it's probably just a bit selfish to want one anyway.

He just wishes for something to take his mind off the fact that there is paperwork and more mission reports to write and this one is turning out to be thousands of words long, expansive, and he still feels like he's leaving something out.

He doesn't know why he's bothering when Mister Woolsey's account will probably be more than thorough enough for Radek to get out of it.

"You're still up."

Radek's head snaps up and there is Colonel Sheppard, standing in the doorway.

"Is it late?"

"Yeah, kind of. I was just coming up here to check on patrol. Chuck said you were still in your office. You're kind of giving Rodney a run for his money in the working long hours department."

"I have a city to run, he just has a division," Radek mutters.

"True."

Radek takes another deep breath and he can feel his eyes crossing. He takes off his glasses and inspects them.

No specks.

"Davos died."

Radek nods.

"I had heard."

Because Doctor Keller had informed him, officially, and she had looked so sad and tired. Teyla had told him as well, soon after Mister Woolsey had left and Radek had to okay the transport of Davos's body.

He'd known her secret, she'd told him and Radek had nodded. He'd known that the Athosians were missing and that she had to keep looking, she'd said and Radek had told her of course.

"McKay's still trying to make a break through with the Wraith. They're having some problems."

"Yes, I had known it wouldn't be easy. Still, I hope we're able to glean some valuable information."

"Still a win, though. We've got this new information and our location is still secret. And oh yeah, we're alive."

Radek snorts and nods.

"Yes, there is that."

"You know those visions…"

"Colonel."

"You just, you didn't seem to put as much stock into them as everyone else. You were even more skeptical than Rodney. I just… I hope you're not letting it get to you."

"Letting what get to me?"

"The fact that they usually come true."

"Yes, Atlantis is going to be destroyed sometime in the near future. What else is new?"

Colonel Sheppard smiles.

"That's the attitude to have."


He's losing the will to live.

Seriously.

He'd thought that paperwork had been bad, but this… this sitting here and doing nothing while Rodney stares at the white board in front of him, this is much worse.

It's been three hours.

"Rodney."

"What," he says distractedly.

Radek sighs. He's been here before. Long nights spent waiting for Rodney to come up with some brilliant idea.

But Rodney usually talks during those times.

This time he's staring blankly and the other scientists have mutiny in their eyes and Radek undoubtedly has a substantial stack of paperwork piling up on his desk via Chuck.

"You're stuck."

"I'm not stuck," he says.

"Yes, yes you are. You have no idea what to do next on the nanite coding and you're not asking for help from the Wraith, and you're not asking help from…"

"I don't need her help."

"According to the reports you've sent to my desk…"

"Yes, yes we're all aware that you're the head honcho here. We don't need you reminding us of it every five seconds."

"No one has spoken for the last three hours. You glared at Bennet when he even tried to talk."

Rodney turns and frowns.

"I…"

"Email her, will you. For all of our sakes. And then write me up a report about what she has come up with."

"Write you up a report? Why…"

"Because I had to schedule this chunk of time in advance to come down here and try and see if we could work this problem out. You do realize that I am a very busy man."

Rodney rolls his eyes.

"So we've got a deal, then?"

"I guess I could hand this off to her. I mean there are more…"

But everyone is shuffling off, sending Radek looks of gratitude and Radek just nods to them as they pass by.

Rodney's frowning more.

"I didn't tell them they could leave."

"They took it that way."

"But…"

"Rodney, keeping them here any longer could lead to them killing you out of sheer boredom. And then where would Atlantis be?"

Rodney nods like he understands, but he's still frowning.

"You're getting to good at this diplomatic thing. Think you're going to turn into someone who likes… political science."

He says it with disdain, like it shouldn't be called science and no one in their right mind should like it.

"You would not believe how hard it is to get time in my own lab, with my own department. Part of me thinks I should just hand it off to Simpson or Doctor Kusanagi."

"Part?"

"It's science, Rodney."

He opens his mouth to say more, but Rodney's got that look in his eye like he's thinking, like he knows and Radek knows if anyone does, it's Rodney. He goes on missions and he saves the world and he does his best to be an action hero despite the physical shortcomings, but at the end of the day he's still a scientist.

It's still his first love.

"Then I don't think you should give it up. You're a smart man. I'm sure you can juggle it just fine."

He says it stiffly, but Radek knows it's from the heart.



He doesn't like being the bearer of bad news.

He'd looked over the information from the emergency databurst several times over, willing it to say something else, anything else.

Not Jeannie, he thinks. Not her.

But in the end he dials the Gate, just like the SGC had asked, and he sees General Landry on the screen, big head looming over the people in the control room.

"General Landry," He says.

"Doctor Zelenka. I had hoped that the first time we had talked in a professional setting such as this, the situation would have been better."

Radek nods.

"Yes, well, things so rarely go as we would hope."

He watches General Landry nod.

"Has Doctor McKay received the news?"

Radek wonders if he knows just how flippant he sounds. This is Jeannie's life. He only knew her briefly, had to focus on work and nothing but work, but he respects her, admires her for so many things.

He looks over at Rodney, tight lipped and on the brink of losing it. Sheppard and Ronon bracket him as though by standing near him, they can give strength.

He stands in front.

"Yes, I have General," Rodney says, his voice stronger than Radek had been expecting.

"Colonel Sheppard, Ronon and I are ready to step through the Gate."

Landry nods.

"Good. We're ready to have you. Agent Barrett has already started gathering intel. He'll brief you once you step through."

The video feed ends, the wormhole still active and he hears Rodney take a deep, shaky breath. He turns and nods.

"You must bring her back."

Rodney frowns.

"I will."

"Yes, I know. You and Sheppard and Ronon will go charging to the rescue."

He says it jokingly and it gets a least a half smile from Rodney.

"It's what we do," Sheppard says.

"Yes, but you will bring her back. And then you will all come back to annoy me. Now, you must go. No time to lose. Atlantis will be fine."

Rodney nods.

Radek knows it had been the right thing to say.


"Captain's log."

"Oh, be serious."

"What, you call me Kirk all the time."

"This is supposed to help future generations, not make them roll their eyes and pass on watching you."

"There's nothing to say."

The Sheppard on screen fidgets, moves awkwardly and Radek has never seen the tape he did for Colonel Sumner's family, but he's heard the stories. The passed down versions, despite the fact that Sheppard had done it cloak and dagger style.

"What am I supposed to talk about?"

"I don't know.  Talk about the mission."

"It was boring."

He can't see Rodney. He's standing behind the camera and Radek thinks it's a bit weird because he's watched a few of these and it's always been Elizabeth with the odd Rodney and Carson, though he hasn't watched those, thrown in and, from the ones he's watched, it's always been someone by themselves.

Now it's Sheppard, and he's on the screen looking completely uncomfortable and Rodney's trying to coax information out of him.

"Fair enough. Oh… talk about turning into a bug."

"Yes, everyone from the future generations will all be turning into bugs. You know, I don't know why we even have to do this. It's kind of morbid," Sheppard says.

He folds his arms across his chest and leans against the table.

"It doesn't have to be for future generations. You could just… talk."

"Talk?"

"Yes, you know that thing you do when you interact with other humans."

Sheppard pulls a face.

"I'm not interacting with other humans. I'm interacting with a video camera. And you."

"It's supposed to be relaxing. If you'd just give it a try…"

"What do you want? You want me to talk about what it was like to turn into a bug? To have no control over my own body like that and how fucking terrifying that is?"

"You don't…"

"Or how about the million other missions I go on where your ass is in danger and I have to save it. Do you want me to talk about all the times I've almost had to watch people I… watch people die? Is this Elizabeth's new half assed attempt at getting me to open up about my feelings because I won't go to Heightmeyer?"

"We just thought…"

"You almost died three days ago. Do you want me to talk about how I was going out of my mind but I had to keep it together? How you wanted me to write your goddamn eulogy, when all I wanted was for someone to fucking fix it already?"

"John."

He doesn't see Rodney, but he sees Sheppard, almost as expressive as Rodney can be and it's something Radek's never seen before. Something deep and Sheppard's lips purse and his eyes get angry.

"Shut it off."

"John…"

"I don't want to ever do this. Don't ask me again."

There's a beat, Sheppard still glaring, life sized and hard and Rodney says okay very softly before the camera turns off.

Radek bites on his bottom lip and looks through the files.

There are no more with Sheppard's name on them.


He reads the reports over and over again until his eyes start to hurt.

It doesn't read like Rodney's usual reports, the ones he's read at least. It's stripped of all superfluous language, only what's necessary and even then it's barren, so very barren. The SGC had approved it, no questions asked, but Radek thinks that has more to do with the fact that they just don't know Rodney.

Sheppard's isn't any better. He had been touring the labs with Wallace, the Wraith got loose, Jeannie is all better. Chopped sentences that barely place the blame on anyone, even the Wraith.

It's all very clean, very clinical, not at all like how Sheppard usually keeps his reports.

But then again, Radek doesn't really believe the story anyway.

It's implausible really. Radek knows Sheppard a little bit better than to think he would let a Wraith, even Todd, get the upper hand like that. That any of the military men involved would. But the SGC bought the story, what that says about them and what the SGC thinks about them is irrelevant.

Radek knows.

He can see it in the tight way Sheppard holds himself, tries to keep things light and Rodney talks and talks about all the things he'd had to buy his sister for getting her taken hostage.

Ronon looms.

Radek sets the reports down and sighs. He will never know the truth and part of him thinks he doesn't want to. It happened on Earth, not on Atlantis.

He can live in denial for a little while longer.

He gets up from his chair, walks out of his office and spares a nod for Chuck. He doesn't bother to ask if things are okay. Chuck would tell him if they weren't and he's kind of hungry. He hopes that the mess still has some food for him.

When he gets there, he sees Sheppard and Rodney sitting at a table having a snack.

"Hmm… Radek. What's been going on with Atlantis while we've been going? You've kept things from blowing up I see," Rodney says.

Radek nods.

"We managed just fine, Rodney. You should probably take more vacations to Earth."

Rodney glares.

"Very funny."

"We managed, Rodney. As you can see. No Hiveships or Replicators. Luckily enough."

Rodney nods.

"That's great," Sheppard says.

He takes another bite of what looks like pudding.

They're relaxed, they're at ease.

They're denying it as well.

Radek can live with that.


"What's it do?" Sheppard asks.

Rodney sighs and looks over at Radek. He holds his hands up and Rodney glares at him and shakes his hand at Sheppard.

"It's a streamlining program meant to increase operating efficiency and why am I telling you all this? I already got the okay from Radek."

Sheppard turns to him and Radek shrugs.

"I did help create it, Colonel. I did not think you were going to have any objections."

"Yeah, but I hear things like the gate is going to be offline for a few hours and I get twitchy. Call me irrational like that, but considering I've got four gate teams out there…"

"They've all been apprised of the situation. Besides, most of them are not meant to radio in for quite some time."

"I would still like to be informed."

Radek nods.

"Yes, well, this has been on the docket for quite some time, Colonel. We scheduled it for now because we knew it would be the perfect break between things. We don't often get the chance to do these things."

Sheppard nods.

"I know. I just…"

"I promise that this is for the good of Atlantis. This streamlining program will definitely increase efficiency."

Rodney beams and Sheppard shakes his head.

"Yeah, so I've been told. I just…"

It is then that the gate decides to dial. Radek frowns and he can see the questioning look on Colonel Sheppard's face as well.

"I thought you said we weren't expecting anyone," he says.

"We're not," Rodney says, puzzled look on his face.

Radek turns to Chuck and he's busy tapping buttons and raising the shield on the gate. He presses a few more things before turning to them.

"It's Major Jordan from M34-227."

"He's early," Rodney says.

Sheppard rolls his eyes.

"Yeah, I got that much. Radio or video?"

"Video. I'm patching it through right now."

It takes a few more seconds for the feed to come through, but when it does there is Major Jordan, standing in front of the recorder.

He doesn't look injured and they're not rushing the gate so Radek thinks that this must not be that huge of an emergency.

Jordan shakes his head and says that's there's nothing wrong, but he's got someone that wants to speak with them, urgently. He clears his throat and steps out of the way.

And Radek thinks he's not quite ready for this kind of an emergency.

"Elizabeth!" Rodney says and Radek doesn't even need to be looking at him to hear the excitement, to know that he's overjoyed.

That something inside of them has been let go, that painfully tight hold around their hearts that they've just gotten used to living with has been lifted just a little bit because there she is and she's alive and they haven't had to resort to any schemes to get her back.

And even as she says that she is not the Elizabeth Weir that they had all once known, it doesn't seem to matter. It doesn't matter that she is a copy because everything that makes her Elizabeth is there and staring at them through the screen.

"This is all… this is completely…"

"Weird?" she says and she quirks her eyebrows, lips pursed and she looks so completely like Elizabeth.

"Well, yeah," Sheppard says.

"We have to meet. We have some very useful information you could use in your fight against the Replicators."

"Well you'll have to run that by Radek," Sheppard says.

Her eyebrows furrow and she bites on her bottom lip.

"Radek."

"Yes, he's the new leader of the expedition."

If she's surprised, then she hides it well and Radek thinks that's just one more thing she's incredibly good at that Radek couldn't ever possibly master.

"Well then I guess congratulations are in order to you, Radek."

"Thank you Elizabeth and of course we will meet… did you say we?"


Radek's very grateful that his double apparently died in an explosion that took out the whole city.

He can't imagine how awkward it is for the rest of the team to be face to face with exact copies of themselves.

Rodney, of course, makes the best of it. He meets his double and they immediately begin to mind meld, coming up with solutions to the problem of trackers on the small Replicator ship the team stole.

"You had something for us?" Radek says, when it doesn't seem like the Rodneys are going to calm down anytime soon.

Elizabeth smiles and she turns to Sheppard.

"Rodney."

Both of them look up and Radek thinks this could take awhile.

It does take awhile, but eventually the other Rodney pulls out a complicated looking piece of machinery. Radek can tell that it's like Ancient design and must be from the Replicators.

Possibly the big ship he saw when they were walking from the gate.

Replicator Rodney explains that it's the core drive of a Replicator ship tracking system and Radek thinks, yes, yes, this is the break they've been waiting for since the Wraith told them that the Replicators were killing off people in the galaxy.

"Yes, yes, you're right. We mustn't waste any time." Radek jumps in when he can get in a word edgewise.

The Rodneys smile.

"Whoa, wait, you're just… you're gonna let us go to Atlantis? You're not even gonna check us out first? We're… we're kind of a security risk," Replicator Sheppard says.

"I agree," Sheppard says.

He's giving Radek that look that means Radek's jumping the gun a bit and Radek purses his lips and nods.

"Yes, of course. I… I am sure that we can contact the necessary people to come and bring the equipment that we need," he says.

"Yeah, it'll be no problem," Rodney says to the other Rodney.

They start going on about humanity and benefits, but Radek isn't really paying attention.

He's too busy smiling stupidly at Elizabeth.

So much so that he doesn't even hear when Sheppard clears his throat, doesn't even notice when he does that weird eyebrow thing that means he's trying to convey complex messages through code.

Radek's never been able to decipher the code before. He doesn't know why Sheppard thinks he can now.

"Well, everyone, even though it's really… great that you've given us this information, we actually came here for other reasons," He says.

He looks at Radek and does that eyebrow thing again and considering the lead in, Radek thinks he gets it.

"Oh, yes, this information is extremely valuable, but, like Colonel Sheppard said, it is not the only reason we came. We came to find out what you know about our Elizabeth and to question whether or not you would be willing to help us."

Elizabeth purses her lips and Radek can tell.

He can tell by the look on her face, by the look on all of their faces.

This will not be good news.


He's avoiding her.

He's letting Sheppard do the talking, letting Sheppard question the story that they've been told about the other Keller and the unfortunate death of Elizabeth.

He just doesn't think that they can do it.

He avoids the copies too, which isn't all that hard. Ronon and Teyla, both versions, go off into the forest, probably to discuss the whole situation.

Replicator Ronon and Teyla look to their Elizabeth; Ronon and Teyla look to him.

He tells them yes, of course, go off. He doesn't know why they must, he doesn't even ask.

He can't imagine what it must feel like.

He sticks with the Rodneys as they make modifications to the ship and try and come up with an interface for the tracking system. He made the call to Atlantis and requested that the necessary people bring the necessary equipment and then tried to jump into the fray.

Rodney is someone he can deal with. Rodney is a creature he knows, on a scientific level, almost better than himself. Just because there are two of them makes no difference.

It just makes things louder and more frequent.

So he works because it's easier than thinking about the obvious. He wonders if Rodney has, but Rodney is so absorbed in himself and the task at hand that Radek doubts that the thought has even crossed his mind.

The thought that Elizabeth is dead and there is a copy of her running around and it's all different, but it's the same.

It would make anyone go a bit crazy.

"Radek."

He looks up from his tablet. Both Rodneys don't seem to notice her presence, but Radek thinks it's hard to ignore.

He smiles.

"Yes, Elizabeth," He says.

"I was wondering if I may speak with you. In private?" she asks.

Part of him is screaming not to, because he feels like he should be mourning, he feels like there should be this great feeling off loss.

Seeing her face makes that a bit difficult.

"Yes, I suppose. They've got this covered I think."

She looks over at where the Rodneys are hovering over the tracking device, to where Replicator Sheppard is just sort of looming, never really asking any questions and Radek would ask him, but his arms are crossed over his chest and he's frowning. She nods.

"I'm sure they do."

She turns as if to walk away and Radek nods and follows her out of the small makeshift tent into the forest. They walk for some time before she stops and turns to him.

"The maroon… it looks good on you," she says.

Her tone is nervous. Her whole demeanor is nervous and this makes Radek frown. He's seen Elizabeth Weir nervous before.

He doesn't know what could be making her so now.

"I suppose. They've added a whole array of new and interesting colors," he says.

"Is that so?" she says wringing her hands.

"Yes, I believe I saw someone wearing a jacket with green panels. I'm not entirely sure what that stands for. There's a memo I'm sure."

"Those memos are pretty important. You should probably read them."

"It's on my list of things to do. Now, we are done with the small talk, yes."

She gives him a tight smile and nods.

"Yes, I suppose we are."

"Then you should probably tell me what is bugging you."

She sighs.

"John is going to want to try and find a way to make this work," She says.

"Make what work?" Radek asks.

"This. This relationship between us and Atlantis."

He frowns.

"But it could. A simple test to see if the nanites are dangerous and you could… you could come back to the city."

She frowns.

"Or not."

"It's not… don't think that I don't want to go back. More than anything I would love… to step foot in Atlantis one more time. To walk the halls. To be able to… to say goodbye. But… we would never truly fit."

"Elizabeth…"

"Maybe I would. Maybe my presence there wouldn't feel… but I doubt it. They would… they would see me as different once they knew."

"No they wouldn't."

"Radek, I see myself as different. How could they not? But… that isn't all."

"What…"

"The team could never come back there, Radek. They are copies of people, people who are very instrumental in running Atlantis. It would be awkward for all of them. I can't… I cannot abandon them."

"No one is asking you too."

She sighs.

"Radek I would have to. They would never want to come back to Atlantis."

He takes a deep breath and bites his bottom lip. He paces a bit. He thinks he knows what she is saying, but he needs to hear her say the words, make them real.

"What are you saying here?"

"If John asks, if he tries to come up with a way…. You must tell him no."

"We could still have a relationship. We could still make this work. We could still give each other information."

She shakes her head.

"In emergencies, yes, but…" 

"You must come back."

He doesn't mean to blurt it out like that, doesn't mean to sound so completely desperate and utterly needy, but it does and he can't take it back. Not now. Not after it's out there and in the open like that.

"Because… because I can not do this job. I… I tried, but it's… I am not you and now that you are here, you can take it back."

Elizabeth quirks her head to the side, teeth nibbling at her bottom lip.

"I can't. There's…. there are too many risks."

"But…"

"You seem to be doing fine."

"I can't… you do much better job, Elizabeth."

"I'm not the real Elizabeth Weir, though."

"It does not matter."

"Yes it does, Radek, and you know it. John… he's told me a few things about what you've done and I know that you've never given into something like this in all the time that you have been leader."

"It's only been a short while. You… you are our leader Elizabeth. You always have been and I… I am just a replacement."

She frowns, her hand grabs his and she squeezes it and he looks at her.

"You are not a replacement. You are their leader now. This team… this is my people. We have different roads to take, Radek. Yours is as leader of Atlantis and mine is with them."

He does not want to hear this. When he'd seen her there, on the screen with that determined look on her face, he had known. He had known what he'd been so very careful to hide in the recesses of his mind.

He is not the true leader of Atlantis. He never could be. Not compared with her.

"Elizabeth…"

"You'll never really trust them. You may trust me because I am the only copy and you're holding onto her, but you'll never really trust them. And how can I leave them? They are almost a part of me. I couldn't leave them anymore than you could leave Atlantis. Don't you see? There's no way this could work out."

He takes a deep shuddery breath and he wants her to listen, wants her to change her mind, though he doubts, with the conviction in her voice and the way she doesn't seem to waver at all, that she will not.

"I…"

"Radek, this is Sheppard, please respond."

Radek frowns.

"Yes, Colonel?" he says into his radio.

"The Replicators are here. We need to fall back to the jumper immediately."

He shares a look with Elizabeth.

"We'll be right there."


Rodney hasn't let up on the interface they'd received from the Replicator team.

He'd spent three hours with him, holed up in his lab, working furiously on various streams of coding until his eyes felt like they were going to go cross.

Rodney hadn't stopped working.

He'd tried to cajole him, tried to get him to at least take a break, but Rodney had been firm, lips turned down and he'd said no, no I can't deal with the loss right now so I'm just going to lose myself in my work and please, please don't make me think about it right now.

Radek had just nodded and quietly left.

He had his own work to lose himself in.

He stalls on what to say about the Replicator team exactly, how to couch their bravery in words because that's what they had been. Brave. Courageous against the fact that it would more than likely result in their death.

They'd provided the much needed distraction, Replicator Sheppard flying their jumper as the rest of the Replicator team flew their stolen Replicator ship, firing with everything they had on the new ship.

Radek hadn't looked back to see if they'd made it. They had expected not to; Radek had known this.

He'd been too busy running for his life to really notice.

He's not quite sure how to put that into a report. The IOA will no doubt criticize them for even listening to the Replicator team in the first place. It won't matter if the core drive ends up yielding good results.

Radek doesn't care.

Anything that will help them in the fight against the Replicators obliterating all the humans in the galaxy is much appreciated, Radek thinks.

His eyes feel like they're closing and he's barely halfway through his report. He debates going back to his room when he hears boot steps, fast and loud and pounding into his doorway.

"You're up," Sheppard says.

There's a bit of surprise in his voice, but Radek just nods.

"I am."

"Rodney… that's good. We… Rodney figured it out."

Radek takes a deep breath and nods.

"And."

Sheppard's biting on his bottom lip.

"It's not exactly good news.'

Radek sighs.

"It never is."


"Where is Teyla?" Sheppard says.

Radek bites his bottom lip, eyebrows furrowed.

"Couldn't you just go on this one without her?" he asks.

"We could, but the Sions are a bit…"

"They're a pain in the ass," Ronon says.

Radek doesn't mean to smile, but the honest way Ronon says it has him cracking his first smile in weeks.

The relay they set up with the core drive has been most helpful. They can pinpoint where the Replicators are going to be within an hour of their arrival. It isn't a lot of time, but it's usually enough time to evacuate the people living on the planet in danger.

And they're ahead of schedule.

"Well, I was going to say difficult, but yeah, I guess that works too."

Ronon raises his eyebrows and shrugs.

"We're ahead of schedule. Stop worrying."

"It just… we need you and Teyla out there, smoothing the way. Most of the planets on the Replicators hit list have been places we've had no contact with."

Radek nods.

"Yes, well, perhaps you should go through with your mission without Teyla. She seems to be indisposed," Radek says.

He doesn't say puking her guts out. Teyla's very lucky that Sheppard is sometimes easily distracted by impending genocide to notice the fact that she's having morning sickness.

Ronon isn't so blindsided.

"I think she has the flu. I think I saw her puke in a plant the other day."

Sheppard frowns.

"What…"

"I am fine."

Radek looks over his shoulder and there she is, hair perfectly in place and if he hadn't known, he would never have been able to tell that she'd been sick.

But he does know.

It scares him just a little bit.

And then Lieutenant Kemp's team dials in. Some of the villagers won't leave, he says. They are stubborn and wish to stay behind. They do not believe in what the people from Atlantis have to say and they push Kemp's team away.

We're sending through the ones that want to evacuate, he says. He asks for Teyla and Radek hears and Sheppard says no, they can't, the Replicator ship will be there in less than a half hour and there's something in the way that Sheppard's voice cracks, something in the way that Teyla won't look him in the eye, that gives Radek a horrible feeling in his stomach.

"Just get the ones that want to come through the gate, Lieutenant," he says.

The man nods and he opens his mouth to say more when he turns his head up, eyes looking towards the sky and he yells incoming and Radek hears the missiles, sees them fall to the ground.

"Get your men through the gate, Lieutenant," Sheppard yells.

"I… I can't. There's…"

He doesn't finish his sentence. The transmission ends and Radek feels himself lean forward, as if in a haze, as if drawn to the screen that is now black and white and snow. He barely hears Sheppard yell to Chuck to dial the gate again.

He doesn't need to hear Chuck's reply. He knows that they've taken out the gate.

Two thousand people, he thinks as Teyla says the words. It's too many.

One is too many.


Ellis does not shake his hand when he beams down from his ship.

Colonel Caldwell does. He even smiles at Radek and congratulates him on his new position and all the good he's done in the Pegasus Galaxy.

Ellis just looks at him questioningly and raises an eyebrow.

He says Doctor, curtly, eyes softening just a tad, and not entirely in any normal sort of way, when he sees Colonel Sheppard. He salutes the other man and Sheppard does the same.

Radek feels just as out of place as Rodney does.

Ellis looks to Sheppard to lead the way, barely acknowledging his presence and pretty much flat out ignoring Rodney.

Radek knows he will not like this man, just as Elizabeth hadn't liked this man.

He sucks it up anyway.

The galaxy is at a crossroads after all and he needs the man to help him turn the tide of this war.

He just has to keep telling himself this.


Rodney has a beautiful speech planned.

Radek's looked over it and everything and there's nothing about it that would say anything to the contrary.

Except that it doesn't work.

They don't have a way to deactivate the attack code. They've been working and working and Rodney's been working himself to exhaustion and still nothing.

They do have a better way of using the Replicators for medical purposes, but other than that… nothing.

Rodney's not quite ready to admit that.

So, instead of having a plan that works, he has a speech. One that outlines everything that would occur if the plan could actually work and Radek's actually looking forward to listening to it, just a little bit, just to delude himself into thinking that this could maybe work.

Colonel Ellis, on the other hand, doesn't want to hear it.

Radek had known this from the moment the man had shaken his head and said doctor. He's no nonsense. He's the kind of man that would tell Elizabeth to her face that he didn't like her.

He's the kind of man that's questioning Rodney's manhood.

"Gentlemen," Radek says gently.

Colonel Ellis glares and Rodney looks to him like he wants Radek to do something.

So Radek does.

"The plan is not yet ready, this is true, but given some time…"

"How much time, Doctor? How many more planets and people need to die before you realize that we have to act?"

Radek frowns.

"I understand your concern, but you have been here for just a few minutes."

"We've been told the whole situation, Doctor."

Radek's getting a little upset that Colonel Ellis keeps cutting him off.

"Yes, I understand. So you must know that we are doing everything we can to prevent any more human loss. But this plan is the best one we have right now. We are pouring all our energy into it."

"What about the plan to use the new Asgard weapons to target Replicator ships as they're attacking other planets?"

Radek frowns.

He does not like this plan.

"It is not foolproof."

"And a plan that isn't even ready yet is?"

"If we blast them with the weapons, they'll be lost in the void of space, effectively neutralized. How much more foolproof do you need?" Colonel Caldwell says.

At least his tone is less haughty than Ellis's.

"Yes, but they can always be re-activated," Rodney says.

Ellis glares.

"It's the best plan we have at this point in time. It's the only plan we have that is operational."

This is true and he sees it in Rodney's eyes. He sees it in the way Sheppard hasn't actually given his support to the idea, but he hasn't exactly tried to make Ellis listen. He sees it in the way Caldwell seems to already have gotten onboard with unleashing the weapons.

Radek bites the inside of his cheek and he doesn't want to give his okay to this, but he knows that he will have to.

"Perhaps…"

"Look," Rodney says sharply.

His words are fast and clipped and he says he needs ten hours with the Wraith and then their plan will be done.

It's not going to hurt, even though Radek knows that it is impossible. Still, it will not hurt and they can still go to Plan B if they need to with enough time for it to actually work.

"Okay," Radek says.

"Okay?" Ellis says.

"Yes, okay. Go ahead and try it. We will be able to resort to Plan B if we need to."

This does not seem to pacify Ellis, but it's all the encouragement Rodney needs as he bounds off and goes for it.

Ellis glares.

"I'll be ready when you decide this is a complete waste of time," he says stomping off.

Radek turns to Sheppard and Colonel Caldwell.

"That went well," He mutters.

Sheppard grimaces and nods.


Rodney's plan does not pan out; they go with Plan B.

And Plan B works for a while, much to Radek and Rodney's chagrin. They defeat all the Replicator ships they come up against, which is great. Radek isn't going to complain about success.

That would seem petty.

Except.

"They're retreating," Radek says.

"Yeah, I guess they figure safety in numbers," Sheppard says.

"They're making their way to the Replicator home world. If they stay there…." Colonel Caldwell starts.

"Yes, yes, they could build themselves more ships. In record timing," Radek says.

"Which would make all our hard work for nothing," Sheppard says.

"But they'll all be in one place. It'll be easier to attack them," Colonel Ellis says.

Radek would roll his eyes at the screen that Colonel Ellis is reporting from, but he thinks that would be seen as petty as well.

"Yes, but they have a whole fleet of ships and we only have two," Radek says.

"Not to mention the fact that we're attacking them on their territory. They could have drones or any assortment of weapons that we don't know about," Colonel Caldwell says.

"Well we've got to do something. Hey, now would be a perfect time for that killer program of yours, Doctor McKay. You know the one that you said you only needed ten hours to complete."

Radek rolls his eyes. If this man can be petty, then Radek thinks he can be petty as well.

"We are working on this." He says before Rodney can get embarrassed.

He doesn't need to see Rodney to know that there's gratitude there.

"Really."

Radek didn't know you could put that much sarcasm and condescension into one little word. Colonel Ellis continues to amaze him.

"Yes, we are." He says.

He looks over at Rodney who seems to get the hint. He babbles a bit before leaving the room to check on the program. 

"So, hopefully we'll have something this millennium." Ellis says.

"I have every faith in Rodney's abilities to come up with a solution to our problem. In the meantime, we must rethink our strategy." Radek says in a tone he hopes is confident and maybe just a bit haughty.

"No doubt they'll be traveling in pairs soon, maybe even more." Sheppard mutters.

"Yeah and that's going to drastically change our success rate. The reason this is working so well is the whole surprise element. But even if it's just two ships at once, it's a bigger risk then before." Caldwell says.

"So we need to take them out when they're in one place." Ellis says.

He says it like duh. He says it like that's what he's been saying from the beginning, which is completely untrue and Radek frowns.

"We will think of something."

"There's nothing wrong with taking them head on, now. We know these things can take them down."

Radek sighs.

"Perhaps we should give Rodney some time to come up with something. I'm sure he'll have the answer soon."

Ellis snorts.

"You put way too much faith in him, Doctor."

"Be that as it may, I think we should give it some time. The Replicators are not attacking any more planets. We should take this time to come up with a good, solid, plan. The Apollo should come back."

Ellis's lips purse.

"Sounds like a plan."

****

It's all Rodney's idea.

Radek teases him a bit about a slump, but really, this is pure genius. Thought up in that place in Rodney's mind that people equate with brilliance and Rodney is brilliant. Flawless and so utterly like art that Radek has to pause for a second and admire the beauty behind it.

Because Radek's been the leader of Atlantis for quite sometime now, negotiating treaties and the back and forth and all of the bureaucratic red tape he'd thought he'd avoided by becoming a scientist. He'd done all this and he'd sent the teams out to save the world and fight the aliens, but, and he may be a little biased, the scientist never seem to come up with the same… brilliance.

He never tells this to Rodney of course. It would over inflate his head— more so than it already is, and no one on Atlantis wants that.

It requires more ships, though.

"I could maybe bring more ships to the battle," the Wraith says.

"How many?" Sheppard asks.

"It depends. I have been held by you for quite some time. But, I think there could be twelve."

Radek nods.

"Twelve more ships. That makes fourteen."

"That makes more than two," Sheppard says.

"There's gotta be a catch," Rodney says.

The Wraith smiles. Radek thinks that will never stop being unnerving.

"An alliance of this magnitude must be negotiated in person. They're not going to trust me if I'm not there personally," the Wraith says.

"And there it is," Rodney mutters.

Sheppard nods.

"I'll take him. Me and the rest of the team. You stay here and work on the problem," Sheppard says.

"Right," Rodney says.

"I will of course help. We need to get this done as quickly as possible, Colonel," Radek says.

"I'm on it."

Radek nods.

"Yes, I'm sure you are."


"This is a good plan?" Ellis asks.

He is just a few hours out from Atlantis and Radek thinks it might improve relations between them if he keeps the man up to date.

"It's a very good plan."

"Sounds kind of impossible."

"It's not. It's just exceedingly complicated."

"Right, I wouldn't understand it."

Radek takes a deep breath.

"You would. I would rather wait to explain it in more detail when you are back. So you can see our findings with your own eyes."

"Why do you care if I see this with my own eyes? You're obviously going to do it anyway. Whether I think it's a good idea or not. We're teaming up with the Wraith, again."

"Because I think this arguing is petty."

"And I think this blind faith you all seem to have in Doctor McKay and his scientific solutions is stupid. Science doesn't always turn the tide of war. Sometimes you have to act."

"We are acting. We just…"

"Um, sir."

Radek turns around and sees Chuck standing there, nervous look on his face and Radek frowns.

"Yes."

"I'm sorry to interrupt, but I think, and this is complete speculation, that we are about an hour away from sudden death."

Radek's frown deepens.

"I must take care of this," Radek says to Colonel Ellis.

"Oh, by all means. Sudden death is very pesky."

Radek nods, but he's already out of his office, already making his way to the monitors that Chuck is hand waving at.

"It's a Replicator ship. We didn't spot it on the tracking system, which is a bit disconcerting."

"Where is it?"

"Maybe an hour out."

Radek takes a deep breath.

"Have you informed Colonel Sheppard?"

"I've tried radioing him. He hasn't contacted back. It's possible they have to keep radio silence where they are."

"Right. So…"

Shields, he thinks. The cloak isn't going to work in this situation. And they need Sheppard back. They can deal with Major Lorne in the control chair if Sheppard doesn't make it back in time, but they are going to need Sheppard and Ronon and Teyla back.

And they are going to need to work a lot faster on the plan.

"We're going to need to bring up the shield and…"

"We're receiving a radio transmission," Chuck says.

Radek bites his lip.

"Should I patch it through?"

"Yes, yes, go ahead."

Radek holds his breath. He's afraid to find out who or what it is. He tries to stand up straight, to appear as confident as humanly possible even though he feels as though his insides are liquid.

"Well, hello, Radek. It's nice to see you again.

And all at once the pressure bursts and Radek can't believe what he's seeing on the screen, blinks and almost tells Chuck to punch him or something just to make sure this is real.

By the look on Chuck's face, he can't believe it either.

"Elizabeth," he says and the word barely sounds like anything, a puff of air.

"It's good to see you, Radek," she says.

She's smiling and Radek thinks, yes, yes it is.

It is very good to see her.


As much as he is glad that the Replicator team is back and that they're alive, Radek wishes he did not have to deal with this.

Colonel Ellis had high-tailed it back to Atlantis so fast after he'd heard that the Replicator team had made contact.

It had disappointed Radek slightly. They'd had just a few minutes to welcome Elizabeth and the rest of the team back before they had to escort them back to Atlantis to Colonel Ellis's cold stares.

Luckily, Radek had spared them. He'd ushered them off to the infirmary and then to wherever Major Lorne had wanted them.

Radek had told him not to tell him, that he hadn't wanted to know as long as it would be as far away from Ellis as possible.

"You knew about this and you didn't inform the SGC?"

He's almost had enough with Colonel Ellis, insulting his people and undermining his judgment. Radek may not be the best leader that they could have chosen, and he's still having problems with the whole thing, yes, but he is the leader.

"We did inform the SGC," he says.

"That you'd made contact with replicator copies of Doctor Weir, Doctor McKay, Colonel Sheppard, Teyla and Ronon, yes. But from my understanding of the report, they were all killed trying to save your asses from a Replicator attack."

"And this is what we had thought before they made contact with us. Look, they have a Replicator ship. It's the equivalent of an Ancient Aurora class vessel. Not only will it add to our numbers, it greatly increases our chances of getting close enough to the Replicator home world surface without being detected," Radek says.

"Unless this is a trap. Who knows if they've been captured and reprogrammed."

"I sent a team to their location. I went there with Major Lorne to appraise the situation and make the necessary arrangements. They want to help. They need to help, and more importantly, they are the whole reason we were even able to track the Replicators in the first place and save all those lives."

"And you were going to just leave me and Colonel Caldwell out of this?"

He looks over at Colonel Caldwell who doesn't seem to be agreeing or disagreeing with Colonel Ellis. At least, not in anyway that Radek can tell. He thinks that's because there's a relationship there. Because Colonel Caldwell has fought alongside them, has shed blood and his ship and he's come out of it more or less whole and somehow it's always been because of something Rodney had thought up and he'd helped with.

He won't have Colonel Caldwell's backing until it's absolutely necessary. Until then, the man is Switzerland.

"This is a decision that was made by the people of Atlantis. It is the Pegasus Galaxy that is in danger here, Colonel. It is in danger because of decisions we made in an effort to survive. We are attempting to undo it."

"So maybe you don't need me and my ship. Maybe we should pack it in and go back to a galaxy that actually wants our help."

Colonel Caldwell raises an eyebrow and Radek thinks, remain strong. It's what Sheppard said.

"If that is how you feel, than that is what you must do. But may I remind you that you are here under order of the SGC, the IOA and the president himself in order to assist us with this. Assist. Not take over command. Do whatever the hell you think is necessary. It is of no consequence to me."

Colonel Ellis frowns and straightens.

"If that's the way you feel about it."

"It is," Radek says curtly.

"You're plan doesn't work without as many ships as possible," Ellis says.

"We are currently in talks with the Wraith to try and gain more ships. It'll be difficult without the Apollo there to back us up, but if you honestly feel that you can't possible follow these people into the line of fire, then you are not needed here."

Ellis's jaw twitches and it looks as though he is really considering leaving, take his ship and his people and telling the SGC whatever. That Radek's crazy, that's he's a tyrant and a dictator and has absolutely lost his mind.

"I… I'm keeping my ship here. And I'm going through with this crazy plan."

Radek nods.

"But I'm also telling the SGC about this. And if…"

"If the shit hits the fan then we will all be in trouble and the fact that we were helped by a team of Replicator copies will seem of little consequence."

Ellis's lips purse and he stands straight. He mutters something that may mean he's dismissing himself, Radek doesn't know.

He just knows that Ellis leaves and that they need this to work.



After he's done yelling at Ellis, Radek goes to find Major Lorne.

He is exceedingly nervous about meeting with the Replicator team again, but they will be needing Replicator Rodney's help with this one.

And he wants to see them again, for whatever reason that his heart can't justify to his brain.

He needs to see them again.

"So… fireworks then?" Lorne asks.

Radek grunts.

"More like nuclear explosions."

"He can't be against this."

"He is."

"Yeah, well…"

Radek can see that he's torn. Torn between bad mouthing a senior officer and sticking up for Atlantis, for the Replicator team and all of Rodney's crazy ideas.

"You gave them personal quarters then," Radek asks to change the subject.

Lorne's a good guy. He doesn't need to be torn.

"Yeah, well, I gave them rooms as far away from the main population as possible. They seemed to want it that way anyway. I think Ronon was gonna go for a jog? Anyway, Sheppard pretty much didn't say anything and took off. I think he's exploring the city a bit. It's kind of… I mean if anyone loves this city, it's Sheppard."

Radek nods.

"It has to have been hard for them."

"Yeah, but… Doctor Weir."

Radek smiles at the tone in which he says it, because Radek gets that tone.

"Anyway, it was nice. They… I mean, they seem… look, it's a security risk, okay."

Radek frowns at the abrupt change in subject.

"I thought you should know that," he grumbles.

Radek nods.

"I know it is."

"So, you know, I get Ellis' point. Because it is. And with Colonel Sheppard away…"

"He's not in charge here. If anyone were in charge of the military here, it would be you. In Colonel Sheppard's absence."

Lorne's eyes widen.

"I…"

"I made this decision, Major. You don't have to worry."

"No, it's not… I mean, it is. Kind of. But really, it's… I don't care, okay. I… they seem the same and the look on Sheppard's face."

Radek takes a deep breath. He's not so sure if he wants to see the Replicator team with the way Lorne keeps talking about them.

"Anyway, I support you," Lorne says.

Radek nods.

"Thank you."

He smiles.

"Yeah, well, Ellis…"

"Let's not focus on that anymore, yes? Only, we're here to see the Replicator team and try to fix this. If the man wants to make things difficult, then he will."

Lorne shrugs and laughs a little.

"Yeah, I guess. So… we're here."

Radek nods. They're in the most deserted living area of Atlantis, just like Lorne had said and they're in front of a door. A door that houses probably most of the Replicator team and Radek isn't nervous.

Really, he's not.

Okay he might be a little nervous.

He lets out a shaky breath and knocks on the door.

It takes a few moments before Replicator Teyla answers. She has a smile on her face and Radek smiles back.

"Hello."

"You are done with your meeting with Colonel Ellis," she says.

"Yes."

"Was it productive?" she asks, moving out of the doorway so that Radek may enter.

He does, Major Lorne on his heels and he sees Replicator Rodney and Elizabeth as well, Ronon and Sheppard visibly absent. Replicator Rodney has a tablet with him and he's working on it at a furious speed.

"I suppose. He's going to fight beside us, if that's what you mean. Whether or not he's going to like it doesn't matter to me."

Elizabeth smiles.

"It probably should."

Radek sighs.

"And it will. Later. When all of this is said and done."

"We'll be happy to help in anyway that we can."

Radek nods.

"I was actually hoping that we could steal your Rodney."

Rodney looks up, head turning this way and that and he frowns.

"Me?"

"Two McKays are better than one," Major Lorne says teasingly.

Rodney groans.

"Please don't say that."

Lorne grins.

"It's true."

Rodney frowns.

"Yes, well, I may have a bit of a plan. I just need access to the right instruments."

"We have a plan as well," Radek says.

Rodney smirks.

"Really, well does yours include abnormal Replicator bonding and neutron star levels of density?"

Radek smiles.

"Well, actually…"

"Oh, come on."



They've been working on this for hours.

Ever since Radek gave the okay and ever since he had managed to escape the arguing with Colonel Ellis long enough to actually work on it. Since Replicator Rodney had stopped fussing and complaining that it had been his idea first.  Since he had sucked it up and followed Radek to the lab and had said I have this plan and their Rodney had said, yes, yes, I have a plan too, and they had been of one mind.

Radek would be freaked out; he's only seen it from the other angle once with Colonel Sheppard and that had been unsettling all on its own as well.

He's not, though. This means it will work. This means that they will defeat the Replicators and the Replicator team will have helped and the IOA will not have anything to reproach him about.
       
"It's not going to work."

Radek frowns.

"You don't know that," He says.

Replicator Rodney— Meredith, they're calling him, much to his chagrin, but it just makes it easier— sighs and purses his lips and gives a little shrug.

"The machine wasn't meant to work that way. It was meant to create human-form Replicators. You've taken away too many of the base codes. It's not going to work."

He says this in hushed tones, and Radek wonders just how much those two months have changed this Rodney.

"Have you told him this?" Radek asks.

"Yes, I have, but… well, it's a genius idea, really. Brilliant. But… making this mass might prove to be the death of the whole plan."

"Do you have…"

"Doctor Zelenka, you are needed in Section Seven. There seems to be some power problems in the infirmary."

Radek frowns.

"I am on my way."

He turns to Replicator Rodney, who is currently starring intently at Rodney, who's trying to successfully make a block of replicator pieces. He's biting on his thumbnail as though he's thinking about something.

"I must go," he says.

Replicator Rodney nods.

"Yeah, okay."

"Will the two of you be fine?"

Replicator Rodney turns to him, stops biting on his thumbnail and frowns.

"This whole thing doesn't freak me out, you know."

"I…"

"I mean, it freaks John out. I mean, it really freaks him out. Although, I think being in Atlantis is making him feel a lot more comfortable. But, anyway, I'm not freaked out by it."

"Uh… I just meant with the Replicator block."

Replicator Rodney's frown deepens and he bites on his bottom lip.

"Oh, yeah, we can… yeah, we can totally handle this. Go… go fix the problem."

Radek nods.

"I will try to not be too long.

"Sure. Just… we'll be fine," Replicator Rodney says, waving his hand.

Radek nods again.

This will be easy, he thinks, everything is going according to plan.


This is not according to plan.

"What did you do?" Radek asks.

"The mass idea wasn't working. We were trying to make a very complex machine do something too basic. We had to do this."

He's almost not sure which Rodney he's talking too. They've both taken off their jackets and they're wearing the same shirt, hair in the same state of disarray, but there's something manic in the way this Rodney says it that lets Radek know it's not Replicator Rodney.

"But this…"

"Don't worry about it. We figured out a way to strip it of most of the programming so it's only the stuff vital to basic functions. It's perfectly harmless," Replicator Rodney says.

"It? That is not an it. That's…"

It's a woman. A woman with long, straight dark brown hair and soft green eyes, and she's smiling at Radek.

"Hello."

Radek frowns.

"This is not what we talked about."

"But, like I told you before, that mass wasn't going to work. We needed to create something that would get the job done," Replicator Rodney says.

"Yes, but this… this is a person."

She's still smiling at him and it's a bit unnerving, knowing she was just created for the express purpose of killing herself and all other Replicators.

On a scientific level, it's brilliant, more than brilliant really, but Radek's gotten so far away from just thinking about things on the scientific level that it almost makes his head hurt.

"I… this is not going according to plan."


He can see that Sheppard is pissed before he even walks into the office.

"I assume you've heard that the Replicator team is here," he says.

Sheppard frowns even more.

"Yeah, I heard it over the radio. After Chuck was able to get a hold of us."

"Yes, there was quite a bit of time where you weren't answering," Radek says.

It's a question, but Sheppard could take it anyway he likes if he wants to.

Instead he sighs and shakes his head.

There's something in the way his jaw is set, the way he walks, stiff and a tiny bit awkward and Radek wants to ask, but Sheppard just tells him that they have seven hive ships and now Larrin is trying to convince her fleet to join into the fray.

Radek just nods.

"So, fifteen ships. That's great, right," Radek says.

"Sure."

He infuses so much angst and turmoil into that one little word that Radek just has to ask.

"Is there something wrong?"

He seems to take his time with his answer, trying to find the right words and Radek wonders just how big this is and just how much they can handle right now.

"I had to take Teyla off of active duty."

Radek nods.

"Then she told you."

His face blanches, eyebrows knit together and then he's biting on his lip and looking even more angry then before.

"She told you?"

Radek takes a breath.

"Yes, she did."

"And you didn't feel it was necessary to tell the rest of the class?"

His voice is cold and his eyes are cold and Radek wonders if he's about to be punched or something.

"She asked me not to."

"She asked you? So you just kept putting her in danger because she asked you?"

"I was not putting her in danger. It was her choice. More than that, I gave you mostly missions that would mean she would not come to any harm. And with the Replicator threat, it has been mostly evacuations."

"What if one of those evacuations had gone wrong? Because they have. We've lost plenty of men."

"I am aware of that, but she…"

"Right, she asked you."

Radek glares.

"She had rights. As a person, she has rights and I couldn't just make her tell you and it wasn't my place to tell you."

"So you let her stay on the team and made me the bad guy."

"If the way you are acting is an indication of how you handled this, then perhaps you made yourself the bad guy."

Sheppard's stare turns even icier.

"You didn't tell me," Sheppard says, his voice lowering and it's that angry voice that Radek's heard described before, but never actually had pointed his way.

"She asked me not to."

"This is information I need to know about my team."

"If she had thought it necessary, she would have told you. She has that right, you know."

"For God's sake, Radek, she's pregnant. I get that she has rights as a person and a woman, but that… that has nothing to do with it."

"Colonel…"

"No, she shouldn't… I shouldn't have put…"

"She put herself there."

"It wasn't her choice. Every time… it's an unnecessary risk."

Radek takes a deep breath and nods.

"Perhaps, but she thinks it's very necessary."

"If she got hurt…"

"But she hasn't. And I guess we can thank God or whoever for that."

"She will eventually. We're not exactly living in a bubble here."

"Yes, I know. You think it's been easy watching her go through the gate on missions where I know she could come back seriously injured? And the baby…"

"You should have told me," he says.

His voice is strong and cold and he's standing his ground like Radek had thought he would.

"It was not my place. She asked for my silence and I gave it to her."

"You're the leader. You should have ordered her off the team."

"And taken it off your hands."

He doesn't mean to say it and Sheppard flinches back like Radek had just hit him. Radek bites his bottom lip and waits for Sheppard to say something, anything to break the uncomfortable silence they've found themselves at.

He doesn't say anything.

"I… I should have handled the situation differently."

Sheppard snorts.

"But this is the way she asked it to be. She said she was going to tell you."

"Well, she didn't."

"And if it had gone on any longer I would have…"

"It doesn't matter now."

Radek nods, but he thinks that it might.

"I took care of it," he says.

Radek doesn't doubt that he has.

"I think…"

"They stunned her, Radek. Don't tell me that I overreacted."

"I wasn't going to. I wasn't there. I do not know. All I know is that you can be angry at me all you want and you can be angry at her, but right now, we have much bigger fish to fry."

"And by that you mean?"

Radek sighs.

"Come with me."


Sheppard's reaction is pretty much the same as his own.

"What the hell Rodney?" Sheppard says.

"I… it's the best we could do, all things considered."

Replicator Rodney nods and he stands off to the side with Replicator Sheppard close by.

Apparently he's already been let in on the whole thing.

"This… do you have an idea how big of a security risk this is?"

"More so than a bunch of Replicator copies walking around the city?"

Sheppard glares at his copy a bit and Radek would think it was funny if he hadn't already known that Sheppard was beyond pissed about a whole number of totally different things.

"Well… I mean… yeah," He says, feeling a bit of a confidence boost at the end, it showing in the tone of his words.

"They've explained it. Seems like the best course of action if we want this thing to work," Replicator Sheppard says.

Sheppard grunts.

"What about…" he says, pointing to the Replicator.

She's still smiling and it hasn't gotten any less unnerving.

"I've tried that angle, Colonel. They go with the 'it's a weapon' argument," Radek says.

"How can…" he says, staring at the Replicator copies.

They look at each other, seemingly sharing a whole conversation through expressive and expansive eye movements and Radek wouldn't doubt that they were. He wonders if they've talked about this, if they've thought about it, and Radek thinks they have.

"It is a weapon," Replicator Sheppard says.

Sheppard sighs.

"Yeah, I guess it's just one of those days."


The plan takes another interesting turn.

The whole thing isn't explosive enough, the Replicator tells them as they're going over the final coding. The Replicators will be able to adapt much faster than they have given them credit for and they're going to be stuck with a huge, angry blob just like Sheppard had feared.

So the plan adapts.

They have to blast the ZPMs on the surface of the Replicator home world. They have to actually, possibly, put themselves in the line of fire.

It's wacky and it's zany and it's totally a Rodney plan.

Radek wishes he could have a drink.

"So… the plan keeps changing."

Radek smiles.

"Thanks to you and your people coming in and saving the day."

"I think Rodney is technically doing the day saving. And he hasn't even saved it yet. Don't count your chickens before they're hatched."

He turns away from the balcony, from the impressive view of their new planet and there Elizabeth stands, as tall and graceful as ever.

"Right. I just don't feel very confident going in there to tell Colonel Ellis of the new plan. He's already causing much fuss."

Elizabeth nods.

"That's kind of his way."

"He is distrustful of you."

"As he should be."

Radek frowns.

"Come on, Radek. He has a point. We could be very dangerous. Just because we aren't doesn't mean the threat isn't there."

"I am sick of trying to convince him."

"Then don't try and convince him. Just go in there and be yourself and present your plan and make sure that it works."

Radek takes a shuddery breath.

"It will work, right."

Elizabeth shrugs, makes a face that says she's weighing the odds and Radek is stupidly grateful that she is here.

"It's a great plan. Our ship allows you just enough time to have Rodney down there to implement the ZPM take-down program and give your ships the extra time to keep the Replicator ships occupied."

"You'll have to leave before this thing starts and you and your ship get caught up in the vacuum pull."

"Hmm… yes, we will. We know how to take care of ourselves," Elizabeth says.

"Yes, well, can you take care of me?"

He says it jokingly and she smiles kindly at him.

"You can take care of yourself too."


The way Larrin is staring at Replicator Sheppard is making Radek feel a bit uneasy.

She's staring at Replicator Rodney with the same interest, but Radek thinks that has more to do with what he can provide scientifically, rather than anything else.

Radek doesn't want to think about the anything else.

Especially not during this meeting, which is important. Vital. Necessary, really.

A really big deal and Elizabeth squeezing his shoulder reminds him that it's his turn to speak.

"Yes, yes, this idea will work," Radek says.

Ellis doesn't say anything. It surprises Radek just a bit.

"My ship will be able to get to the surface of the Replicator planet pretty easily. We'll be able to get Rodney, Ronon and the team of Marines to the core room without exposing our plan any earlier than we have to," Replicator Sheppard says.

"It will buy the ships, the seven hives and the rest of the smaller ships, time to get into formation and less time to attack," Radek says.

"Won't you and your… team be affected by the whole, super dense Replicator blob thing?" Colonel Ellis says.

You could almost mistake his tone for somewhat caring.

"We're beaming out of there faster than that. The minute we get Rodney, Ronon and the team of Marines to the Core room," Elizabeth says.

"Then you almost don't need us," Ellis says.

She smiles at him.

"Almost."

"The Replicators will need to be distracted as we do this. And someone will have to beam Fran down to the city."

"Fran?" Ellis says.

"Friendly Replicator Android," Rodney mutters.

Replicator Rodney looks down and Replicator Sheppard is glaring at him.

"Rodney…"

"It… it noticed that we all had names and it wanted one too," Replicator Rodney says.

Radek looks down because he'd been there too, arguing names with the Rodneys.

"I didn't realize that we were naming things," Sheppard says.

"That is of no consequence," Radek says gruffly.

He clears his throat and takes a deep breath.

"What we're here to discuss is the plan. Now that everyone is apprised of the situation, I… I think it's time," Radek says.

Everyone looks around, eyes wide, and Radek has a moment to think 'we're not prepared', before he realizes that this is. It doesn't matter if they feel unprepared, they are prepared and they must do this.

"Let's move out," he says.


He's not quite sure how to deal with this.

They are, after all, in the middle of what is proving to be an epic battle and the Daedalus has already taken several hits. He's trying his best to help with the repairs when a radio transmission leaks through.

Colonel Caldwell orders his men to open a channel and there is Elizabeth's face.

He'd thought they'd already made their way out, but he guesses they stuck around a bit, holding back to see all the ships.

Wraith and Ancient and Earth ships all fighting at once, together.

Caldwell had made reference to the Cold War, but Radek hadn't really been listening.

He'd been watching this.

Radek thinks, they don't have long. Fran will be activated soon, Rodney's voice over the radio had told them so. If they stay any longer they're going to get sucked in with the other Replicators.

"This won't take long," she says.

Radek opens his mouth to speak, but she talks over him.

"This is it for us. We will not be meeting you at the rendezvous point. I know we've already made this more difficult than we should have."

Radek wants to say no. Wants to say that it's because of them that the Daedalus has been spared more repairs, that they were given extra time. That they hadn't had to fight that much to begin with.

But then an explosion jostles the Daedalus, jostles him and she's saying something more, something important he thinks, but the ship's frying around him.

"Please do not try to contact us. Or look for us. I am sure that one day, possibly in the near future, our paths will cross again, but right now we are gone."

She smirks.

"And you can tell the IOA and the SGC that I just don't give a damn about their rules and regulations either. If they have a problem with that."

The transmission ends abruptly. Radek hadn't been able to see their ship in the first place, but he's sure they jumped into hyperspace.

He wants to take a moment to figure out what just happened, but then Rodney is radioing him and he's saying that they need to think, that the mass is getting too heavy too soon and the ZPMs aren't going to be able to overload and this will all be for nothing.

Rodney's dramatic, if nothing else.

"Neutronium," he mutters into his radio.

Caldwell frowns.

"What?"

"The base raw material in the Replicator cells. Of course the Ancients would set up on a planet that's abundant with it."

"Yes, yes, yes, it is incredibly dense, wouldn't you say?"

He waits for the light bulb to go off in Rodney's head.

And when it's done, it's magical.


He doesn't find it until later.

He doesn't find it until after they've won, after they've defeated the Replicators and Rodney's plan had gone off with only some minor glitches.

Fran hadn't even betrayed them, which was something Radek had been desperately afraid of, though he would have never told the Rodneys that.

Until after they all meet up and Larrin's ships are all repaired, at least the ones that survive the battle. After the Wraith don't show up and that's not exactly unexpected

Colonel Ellis hadn't said much as his ship left. He'd congratulated all of Atlantis on a job well done and that had been that.

Colonel Caldwell had stayed for the impromptu celebration. He did, after all, have some friends in the city. He'd taken Radek's hand and shaken it, no words passing between them, but Radek got the message.

After that he'd turned to Rodney and told him that he just hoped, for the galaxy's sake, the Rodney never ran out of crazy ideas because that might really be the day things turned FUBAR.

Then he'd grabbed himself a wine glass.

It had been after the symbolic deleting of the Replicator planet, Rodney just the good side of tipsy and flushed and Colonel Sheppard a little red-cheeked as well. They make some jokes about Doranda, though it's a lot lighter- hearted than it once had been.

"Will you just get on with it?" he remembers saying.

He remembers the looks they give him, the odd glances and Sheppard cocking his eyebrows a bit.

"Anxious?" Sheppard had said.

"Just a bit," he remembers saying.

"Yeah, well, like I said. It takes a lot," Rodney had said defensively.

"You're done now though, yes? So get on with it."

Rodney had rolled his eyes.

"You wanna do the honors?" he'd asked.

He remembers shaking his head. He remembers Rodney shrugging his shoulders and pressing the button, colorful commentary that had made Sheppard crack the first real smile in weeks.

And then M7R-227 is gone, forever nixed out of the database and Radek says let's have champagne.

It's after all that, when Radek is in his room and getting ready to wind down after a glass of champagne and some actual food to keep him from starving to death at an early age.

He thinks about cracking open his laptop and maybe the tablet, maybe watch another one of Elizabeth's inspirational videos and think about her out there, her and the team, fighting the good fight.

Instead he places his laptop on his desk and then he sees it, propped up against a potted plant that Sheppard have given him, there's a note.

It says, use this in emergencies, tell who you need to, but we would appreciate it if you could keep this between us, and maybe Rodney and John. I am sorry, it says, sorry that we cannot stay, but it will be best this way, you'll see.

She's signed it and everything. Elizabeth Weir, in her loopy handwriting, flourished, but still elegant looking despite the fact that Radek knows she must have written it in a hurry.

He knows what it is, can just tell from the way it looks, but he'll have to run some tests in secret just to be sure. It's a locator beacon. He knows that if he turns it on, they will know and maybe they will come.

Radek smiles.

It may not be much, but it is enough.



She sighs. Shakes her head and she looks older her, if that's possible. She brushes the hair out of her face and takes a deep breath.

"Sometimes… I don't know, sometimes I think they don't want me running this expedition. I've given… I've given everything and I would give everything all over again. Just to be here. Just to be in the city of the ancients."

She takes another deep breath.

"It's just lonely sometimes, you know. And then… then days like this happen."

She laughs humorlessly. Radek checks the date on this one and remembers.

It hadn't been the best week for anyone.

"Can you honestly believe they told me I should have known? That the situation shouldn't have escalated the way it had. That I should have ordered… but this is Carson we're talking about. He doesn't do anything if he doesn't want to. He is a true hero and I will not demean his sacrifice for them."

He can see the strength in her words, even if he can't see it in her.

"I have worked so hard, but some days… I wonder if it's enough. Am I making the right decisions? Or am I just… are they all bad? Am I just messing with people's lives? Maybe none of us is ready to lead."

She says it in that same weary tone that Radek remembers, from the game. From when she couldn't believe that people could fail so unbelievably.

That he could fail so unbelievably.

"I feel like every move I make is false, sometimes. Like they see it that way. Like the people see it that way."

She lets out a deep breath and rubs her eyes. She is tired, Radek can see it. Tired of the death and the chaos and the IOA. Tired of it all.

She will not let it defeat her though. Not even at the end.

"Maybe I'm just being melodramatic. I'm sure the people of Atlantis think I'm a fine leader."

She says it with a self-deprecating smile on her face and that's where the tape ends.

Radek swallows and his fingers, his hands shake. He should put the tablet away. He cannot watch anymore. He does not want to watch anymore. He fears what he will see.

But to not watch would dishonor her memory, so he will continue. Eventually. Just not tonight, he thinks. He too is tired of the decisions of command. So he turns it off and puts it back away, in the drawer that is its home and he contemplates a drink.

She is wrong though; the people of Atlantis think she is the only leader.

They always will.


It's their first celebration.

They had put it on hold after the thing with the Replicators because it had been bittersweet.

But Radek's not thinking about that right now.

He's thinking about his friends, his colleagues and family and how it had been a small gathering, just everyone that had been at the mess at the time and Radek's bottles of alcohol that could strip paint. Word had gotten around that they were partying, for lack of a better term, and a few people came to the mess looking to relieve stress.

It's just them now though, in the wee hours still riding high on the adrenaline and the knowledge that the Replicators are gone and they have the Wraith on the run, that they can still defeat the Wraith with bombs and a little help from Teyla's mind control powers.

(He doesn't want her doing it anymore and she doesn't want to do it anymore either. At least not until the baby is born.)

He sees that the tension has left Sheppard and Teyla now and he hopes they have resolved the issue. He'd seen the request pass his desk, though he hadn't given it much thought because they'd been in the middle of an epic battle strategy that would last days, sleepless days and nights.

(Not to mention Sheppard had yelled at him about the whole thing and Radek's not thinking about that now, either.)

He's signed it now, just by the look on Teyla's face that says, yes, it is okay, I know this is not a punishment, nor is it you telling me what to do.

He silently thanks her for that.

"To Elizabeth," Sheppard says, noisily clanking his glass against Rodney's and Lorne's.

"To Elizabeth," He mutters, and so do the rest of them.

"Hmm, and the rest of the Replicator team," Rodney says.

Radek nods.

"I wonder if there was a Replicator me," Lorne says.

Rodney shakes his head.

"Why do you care?"

"I don't know. It's interesting."

Sheppard laughs and takes another big drink from his glass. Keller sits beside him, snorting at the three of them, Rodney scowling and Lorne and Sheppard slightly laughing at him.

It's possible they're too drunk, though no one is slurring their words that badly. Yet.

Surprisingly, it's Ronon who's the lightweight. He's already passed out in his chair, head thrown back and his mouth is open and if you look closely enough he's drooling.

Not that Radek wants to look that close.

(He tells them later, when he wakes up, groggy and disorientated and throws up spectacularly all over the mess floor, that because he'd been a soldier in Sateda, he'd never been allowed to drink because it dulled the senses, made you less than what you really were.)

Lorne's a little loopy, eyes half-lidded and words slurred, but his pink cheeks make him bright and his smile makes him look happy.

"Great day," He says.

"Best," Colonel Sheppard says, and they clink there mugs together and start laughing a bit hysterically, Sheppard's braying donkey laugh mixed in with Lorne's high pitched wheezing one and it somehow still sounds good.

It sounds right.

"They're drunk," Rodney says.

Radek nods.

"Lightweights," Rodney says, taking another drink from his mug.

Teyla nods her head. She doesn't drink the alcohol, obviously, but Radek remembers back with the Genii and Lieutenant Ford telling anyone who would listen that Teyla could drink more than anyone ever.

(And Radek once met a man who could drink two six packs of German beer and not even bat an eyelash at it.)

"They've drunk a lot, Rodney," Radek says.

"Oh right, I've had just as much and I'm still thinking with my higher brain functions."

"It's the adrenaline. The combination of the adrenaline crash and the alcohol has enhanced its effects," Doctor Keller says.

"Whatever. This is prime gloating material. I wish I had a camera."

"There are the security feeds," Radek says thoughtfully.

Because now they're swaying to muted music and they're singing something Radek can't quite pick out— and apparently neither can they, because they keeping messing up the words and Sheppard will sing one verse and it will be completely different from the verse Lorne sings. And while he admires them, respects them in all the ways that matter, it's mostly just really hilarious and needs to be saved for prosperity and gloating alike.

Rodney is looking at him with something akin to pride, maybe honor, and Radek can feel his chest puff just a bit. Rodney is a friend, a colleague, sure and now his subordinate, though Radek doesn't remind him nearly as much as he had in the beginning, but he's still Rodney McKay and Radek still remembers his lab in Prague and just dreaming about what it would be like to have ideas half as brilliant as M.R.I. McKay. Back when science had been new, but still his love, cherished and adored as he cradled it close because no one had understood.

Rodney understands.

"You are a genius, Radek Zelenka."

"Now we must get the security feed because you surely will not remember you said that in the morning."

Rodney beams.

"They are going to be so pissed," He mutters.

"What the hell are the singing? I can't… is it country western?" Keller asks, her face scrunched up.

"I think it is by Johnny Cash," Teyla says.

"God, this just keeps getting better and better."

And for the moment, crisis averted and Atlantis is calm like she only is in those few hours that mean the Wraith are distracted and the Replicators are planning, but the new Atlanteans have won the previous battle, Radek thinks that maybe it will continue to get better.

At least until Chuck comes running into the mess.
 
His face is flushed and his eyebrows are knitted together and Radek thinks, this is it. This is where he tells me the Wraith and the Replicators have joined up together and are an hour away from totally destroying Atlantis and the Genii have just somehow made it through the gate and are taking people hostage.

It's melodramatic, but not exactly impossible in the Pegasus galaxy.

Instead he says, "Oh my god, are you all drunk?"

Rodney looks confused, eyes glassy and he shakes his head.

"No."

Keller looks serious for a few seconds, shaking her head before she bursts into giggles and Teyla's following suit.

"You are. Colonel Sheppard and Major Lorne are singing Addicted to Love,"

He looks fairly disturbed by this; Radek can't blame him.

"You… you cannot be like this. What if something happens? You should all just… go back to your quarters and sleep it off," Chuck says.

He looks extremely distressed and Radek wishes he could do something, say something, but Sheppard bursts into giggles, giggles, real giggles and Rodney's slapping Sheppard on the back.

"But there is no disaster. All is well."

Chuck purses his lips and shakes his head.

"Fine, but still go back to your quarters. You're making too much noise," he grumbles.

Radek decides to at least give him that they're making too much noise. Sheppard and Lorne are practically yelling at this point.

"Whatever you say, Chuckie D," Rodney says.

Chuck's face goes stoic and for a man with such an expressive face, Radek thinks this is a mean feat.

"My name is Chuck Campbell."

"Chuckie C makes me think of a big rat. You're much better off with Chuckie D," Rodney says.

"He's drunk off his ass. You said you guys weren't drunk," Chuck says.

And he's looking at Radek and Radek remembers the time when the still had first opened for business and the scientists had gotten alcoholpoisoning drunk and Carson had ranted for hours and Elizabeth had looked chagrined.

Except there's no Elizabeth in this situation, and the role of Carson is going to Chuck and Radek's the leader and he can't even remember two plus two at this point.

"I'm not as drunk as them. Stop freaking out."

Chuck looks like he wants to scream, but he doesn't. He keeps it bottled in and just lets out a deep sigh. He closes his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose and when his eyes open he's got a determined look on his face.

He pulls out one of the chairs and sits down in it and grabs the bottle from Rodney's hands, Rodney protesting the whole time.

"Can it. I don't get paid enough for this shit," He says, before he takes a big drink.

Rodney snorts.

"None of us do."


He's stuck.

He's really, really stuck. Like, no-getting-out stuck and he's sick of Atlantis getting itself contaminated with some sort of toxin or another and locking him up in strange places.

The communication system is down so he can't even get information from the control room.

Some leader he is, getting stuck in a transporter.

He tries, with difficulty, to open the transporter doors. He thinks perhaps that they may open. They aren't as heavy as the regular doors of the city after all, but he has no luck and fiddling with the controls only makes it harder.

They are in level four quarantine, which is insane because he thinks they'd all be dead by now if that were true. He's going to have to have a talk with Rodney about fiddling with systems without proper authorization.

He just hopes Rodney isn't having the biggest panic attack ever.

Part of him wishes he had a ball, something to distract himself from the transporter walls. He feels like he's been here for ages, when in reality it must have only been a few hours or so. He feels like he should be doing more, doing everything he can, but he's run out of ideas.

Rodney will figure this out, Radek thinks. Rodney will make sure that this all gets set right.

He just hopes Rodney is by a computer.

He sighs and turns on his tablet. He probably shouldn't be carrying it around, but it's almost like a compulsion. He wants to watch them all.

He presses play on a random one. It has a date and Elizabeth's name, but that's all. It's not marked anything at all.

"I think I understand what Rodney went through a little bit better now. To be stuck, in your own body, and see the changes going on around you."

She sighs and runs a hand through her hair, palms briefly pressing against her eye lids.

"Steven too, when you think about it. All of us not trusting him. Of course they'll go back to trusting me soon enough. Trusting John and I. Still… there's nothing like having someone else inside your body, directing your movements and knowing your thoughts. At least with Rodney…"

She shakes herself and blinks her eyes a few times.

"There's nothing quite like it. I really do hope I never have to go through that again. Although, this is the Pegasus galaxy."

Her film ends and Radek presses another one, this one Rodney.

" It's like, completely disturbing. I don't know why Elizabeth wants me to talk about this. I get that she's had her own little possession problem, but I really would rather brush this whole thing under the carpet. Seriously. I don't ever want to think about Laura Cadman in my head. Ever. It's never going to happen to other people anyway," Rodney says.

He shakes his head at the camera a bit and then the screen goes blank.

Radek is about ready to press play on another one when a few things happen.

First, the self-destruct alarm goes off. Radek's eyes widen and he scrambles, stands up and looks around. There's nothing what he can do and it's starting to really piss him off.

A few minutes pass and the alarm goes off. He takes a breath, but he doesn't know if it's a good thing or not. He hasn't exploded, so he thinks it's probably okay.

Minutes after that an explosion goes off near him and he knows that sound. Explosives, C4. The soldiers must be mounting a rescue.

"Hello!" he screams.

"I am in here! In the transporter!"

He keeps screaming until the doors start to open and Sheppard and Lorne stand on the other side of it.

"Zelenka," Sheppard says.

"Sir, are you alright?" Lorne asks.

"I am fine. What has been going on with my city?"

Sheppard's lips purse.

"There isn't an outbreak. The system is malfunctioning."

"I was able to figure that out. Who disabled the self-destruct?"

"No one, sir. I just turned off the alarm," Chuck says a bit sheepishly.

Radek frowns.

"Then I must get to a computer to try and disable it."

"The power's down," Chuck says.

"Yeah, we've been trying to blast our way to the Main Power room."

"Someone didn't have enough C4," Sheppard mumbles.

Radek thinks if Lorne could glare at Sheppard, he would.

"Alright, so there is no way to get to the rooms and we have no idea how long we have before the self-destruct kicks in."

"That pretty much sums up the situation Doc," Lorne says.

"Well, there must be someway."

"Maybe. What about those vents?" Chuck says.

And this is how Radek finds himself like a rat in a maze, working his way through the tunnels that are the ventilation system and he takes a minute to note how remarkably similar they are to Earth technology before he focuses on the task at hand.

This is not something he signed up for as leader, but there was no way they could let Sheppard go. He had been too big and it would have been too hard to talk him through the procedure once he got there.

So Radek knew that he had to go. It hadn't even really been a question in the long run.

It's really just these damn vents.

Once in the main power room, it's a piece of cake. Flick a few switches and the self-destruct is off. All very anticlimactic, he thinks, or at least he would if his wrist hadn't been killing him.

"You did it," he hears Sheppard say through his radio.

Radek nods to no one in particular.

"Yes, yes, and now I think I need medical assistance."


He's staring at walls again.

Only this time it's the walls of the infirmary. His wrist doesn't hurt anymore; Keller had wrapped it and given him some pain medication. She says it's a sprain, not a break. That he just fell on it wrong when he fell through the ventilation shaft.

She says this all while looking sheepish and Radek can tell it's because the infirmary is a mess and he's going to have some fun reading over her report for this, her requisition forms after.

It gives him a small thrill.

"How're you feeling?"

Radek looks up to see Sheppard, Ronon and Teyla standing to the side of him near the infirmary entrance.

"Better. The infirmary has really fantastic drugs."

Sheppard smiles.

"Well, that's good. Sorry you hurt yourself, but hey, you saved the day. You're a hero."

Radek nods.

"Not exactly the most impressive way to save the day, though."

"It was like that movie. Where he disarms the bomb before it explodes," Ronon says.

Radek smiles uncertainly.

"Yeah. No one likes exploding. You did good," Sheppard says.

Radek nods.

"Yes, Atlantis is still standing."

"Yes. That is the main thing. And no one was badly injured," Teyla says.

Radek smiles.

"Yeah, there wasn't even a real outbreak. You know, McKay thought there was. He started to make himself sick because of it," Ronon says.

"Well, that's McKay for you."

"What's McKay for you?"

They turn around and see that Rodney's standing right there, sad look on his face and Teyla smiles at him.

"That you're a…"

"Brilliant scientist," Teyla says with a smile.

He gives her a funny look.

"I guess. Though the man of the hour happens to be a pigeon lover."

Radek shakes his head.

"Circumstances, really. You would have figured it out."

He says it because he thinks it's true. It had been all he'd thought while he'd been stuck in that transporter with no way of getting out.

Rodney puffs up, shakes his head and sighs.

"I couldn't have fit through those shaft," he mutters.

Radek smiles.

"They weren't exactly the highlight of the day. Then again, nothing was."

Ronon starts to ask him questions about it; Teyla wants to hear of his daring heroics so he tells them, but he listens. Listens to Sheppard ask about Rodney's date and Radek's never quite heard the word date said that way.

Rodney distracts him by asking Radek about his wrist, but there's something in his eyes that says not right now, please don't ask me because it hurts too much to even think about it.

So Radek answers him so Sheppard won't ask again.

Radek thinks maybe he wasn't the only one with a hard day.


The first time Sheppard almost dies on his watch, Radek drinks a whole bottle of vodka.

It's not the good stuff and it burns going down his throat, but he drinks the whole bottle anyway. He knows he shouldn't; there are important things he might be needed for and he can't make those decisions if he's drunk.

But he just doesn't care, not with Colonel Sheppard lying in the infirmary, comatose and pale while his whole team waits for the news, any news. Not when he just closes his eyes and he can hear them yelling for medical assistance, can see them coming out of the jumper and into the jumper bay, dirty and sweaty and Ronon's holding the Colonel like a rag doll. The blood had been everywhere, on Rodney's cheek and flecks of it in Lorne's hair and dripping down Ronon's shirt, dried on the sides of Colonel Sheppard's lips.

The debrief had been the hardest. Clearly none of them had wanted them to be there and Radek could understand why, but he needed to know why.

"What… I…" He's lost for words.

He can't come up with the right ones and Rodney shifts around in his seat, writing down things and Ronon staring off to the doors, wanting to be anywhere but there.

Lorne sighs and takes a deep breath. He tells the story of mistrust, how their new possible allies had spoken with others and how, on a few planets, Atlantis had been rumored to be responsible for the destruction of many worlds.

His voice is a monotone, cold and distant and strange, and Radek wouldn't recognize it if it hadn't been for the Major's unique accent that bleeds through his every word. He tells of the natives getting restless, of not believing and of the long run to the jumper.

He tells of the shoot out and the blurry, hazy moments before Colonel Sheppard had gotten shot and the way he had just crumpled and how Ronon had been there seconds later, catching him before he hit the mud.

He tells of Ronon with Colonel Sheppard those last few frantic paces until they got to the jumper and Lorne had kept shooting, Rodney right beside him, shooting and they'd gotten into the jumper and Lorne had flown as fast as he could, Rodney dialing the gate.

Rodney had spaced out during the whole explanation and Ronon had tensed more, terse and annoyed and agitated as he swings in his chair just waiting to get the heck out of there.

But Radek had listened. Radek had listened intently and absorbed it all because it's his job to know.

He knows this. He knows its part of the job and Elizabeth had to do this way more than he's had to, but it's his first time. It's his first negotiation gone wrong, the first time he's actually really dropped the ball in anything.

And he didn't even pay for it. Colonel Sheppard had, with his blood and almost his life.

So he drinks because most of the teams are on base with the exception of a few science teams and they've closed negotiations.

He's not sure why they need allies anyway.


"You know, I've never gotten used to the whole thing. The risking their lives thing. I mean, theoretically I know it happens more times than I'm actually willing to acknowledge. But they always come back okay, you know. I mean, not okay, but… it's been awhile since one of them was severely hurt."

She clears her throat and shakes her head.

"Today I was forced to watch John die. I know he came back. I know the Wraith gave him his life back, and I know that he's fine. Carson said. But I… it's still so very hard."

She sounds bone weary, that tiredness that falls over you when there's just nothing you can do about anything and you are defeated no matter how you look at it.

Radek can't listen to her anymore.

Maybe he could. Maybe if it didn't hit home, maybe if Sheppard hadn't been in the infirmary with tubes coming out of every end.

Keller says he'll be fine. Same assurance, different doctor.

He angrily turns off the tablet. He's drunk too much. He feels it in the steps he takes, the way he walks. He feels it in pretty much everything he does.

He just doesn't care.

He doesn't go to the infirmary. He thinks if he does he'll see their faces, Rodney's and Ronon's. He doubts they've left Sheppard's side and if they have it's been for trivial things. He doubts they know how to do anything else but sit there and wait for him to wake up and for Keller to tell them everything is okay.

Not that she hasn't. She says he'll make a full recovery, at this point it's just a medically induced sleep to help him heal without the trauma of pain getting in the way.

They don't seem to believe her.

He cannot stay awake any longer, he thinks. Not now. There's nothing he can do now. He has done everything and it has led to this.

So he sleeps.


He wakes to Teyla shaking him, Teyla's voice in his ear.

"Radek."

He snuffles.

"Huh?"

"You fell asleep at your desk. Chuck was worried."

He squeezes his eyes together and sighs.

"I was working."

"I can see that."

"Is Colonel Sheppard alright?"

She frowns. He asks her because she will know.

She is his family after all.

"I… he is fine. He is awake, actually."

"That's good," Radek says absently.

Her frown deepens.

"You should go see him. Doctor Keller says that his wounds will heal nicely. That they actually looked worse than they really were."

"Yes, doctors always say that."

"I am certain she is right in this instance. John appears to be fine. Agitated with having to be in the infirmary, actually."

He nods.

"Are you sure you would not like to go see him?"

He shakes his head.

"I have much work today."

She nods.

It looks like she wants to say more, but Radek doesn't want to hear it. He wants a little more time to wallow in his failure. It isn't his first, he knows this, but it's one of the bigger ones and he thinks something like this should be given time.

Instead she walks over to the other side of his desk and squeezes his shoulder. When he looks up at her, she tilts her forehead down to his. It's awkward considering their positions and her hair is in his face, but Radek gets it.

This is not going to defeat you, she says, this is not going to defeat him. A snag, she says, nothing more and you'll wake up tomorrow and the next day and you will still be home and you will still be with your people and this will not seem so life-changing in the grand scheme of things.

She says it without even saying a word and someday, one day, Radek will thank her for it.

Now he just looks at her oddly, doesn't look her in the eye and she smiles sadly at him before leaving his office.

He turns back to his papers then, back to his tablet and Elizabeth's face stares back at him, same feelings written all over her face and Radek hates her for a second. Hates that she left this to him and now he must carry her weight. Hates that he hates her because it is not her fault, none of it is.

He presses play.

"And you know, he doesn't even realize it. He doesn't even realize how strong he really is. He never will. It's his thing. Rodney calls it a hero complex, but I… I don't know. All I know is that for all the heartache and despair he causes me… they cause me… they are my people."

She smiles.

"I guess it's just something I'm glad I'll never get used to. I'll never get used to him being hurt, to any of them being hurt. But I guess that's what makes me human."

The clip ends and Radek feels no more inspired then before, just very utterly wiped out. That kind of bone deep wiped out that makes him wish he were anywhere else but here, but he knows that he could never be anywhere else but here.

Here on Atlantis. Here on his home. Heartache and despair and all of it and he wishes he didn't care, but he isn't exactly that lucky.

Or maybe he's the luckiest man in two galaxies. He hasn't quite decided. 

He looks over the reports and sighs.

Tomorrow is another day.


"They won't budge, Radek. It's insane."

"It's their home Rodney. Can you honestly say you're surprised that they're resistant to leaving? They've been dealing with these problems their whole lives. They don't see it as an emergency."

"But it is and they're moronic for thinking any different."

"Why, because your analysis should be the word of god?"

Radek sighs.

He should not be surprised that they're going at it like this. Rodney's been agitated ever since Colonel Sheppard had come back wounded. It probably has something to do with the fact that he hasn't really been off world in a good long time and he thinks it's because Doctor Keller is stalling in giving her okay on Colonel Sheppard's status.

He had thought giving Rodney this little mission might ease tensions, but, apparently, he'd been wrong.

"If they were intelligent, they would take the scientific information I'm offering them and leave the planet," Rodney says.

"They don't know what your scientific information means."

"I told them what it means."

"So they're just supposed to take your word for it then? Ask no questions at all," Keller says, a look of disbelief on her face.

"I think we already covered that."

"You are so…"

"Please. Stop. Just stop arguing. You sound like children," Radek yells.

They both have the decency to look embarrassed by their behavior, Rodney less than Doctor Keller but he does have that sort of deer in the headlights look he gets when he's being called out onto the carpet.

"What exactly are the two of you asking for?"

"For you to come and play little Mister Diplomat. Cut through all the crappy red tape. Maybe try and convince them that this would be the best thing for them."

"Me?"

"This is supposed to be what you're good at. You've done it before."

Radek frowns.

"You want me to try and convince these people of something that you yourself could not convince them of?"

Rodney frowns.

"I've been told, on more than one occasion, that I can be kind of… abrasive."

Doctor Keller snorts and Rodney glares at her.

"Anyway, look— these people aren't listening to me and they're not listening to her and while living there for as long as they have has been all well and good, they're basically living on a ticking time bomb. Any minute a massive earthquake could hit and I'm talking mass causalities." 

Radek nods.

"Have you discussed this with Colonel Sheppard?"

Rodney glares again.

"She won't let me."

"He's recuperating. He needs as little stress as possible," She says, like it should be obvious.

Radek wonders if she'd been there for the bug incident. Or the million other incidents that had left them all pretty banged up, but still walking around and doing their jobs. He knows she has been and he has to wonder why she's being so vigilante about it this time.

Perhaps there is more to Colonel Sheppard's injuries than she is letting on, but Radek will never know.

She says he's going to be okay. That he's getting better. That he should be back to active duty any minute now.

But he wonders if it hadn't scared her a bit, seeing Sheppard like that.

He knows it scared a lot of people.

"So ship him back to Earth. This is John we're talking about and he's not going to be too happy that he's been out of the loop about his own city. I'm surprised you've been able to confine him to his quarters."

Doctor Keller blushes and Radek vows to question her about it later because he knows there's a story there.

"He needs to avoid as much stress as possible. There's no reason he needs to know about this mission."

"We will need a military escort."

"Ronon will go with us," Doctor Keller says.

There's something about the way her voice cracks a little, the red dots high on her cheeks, the way she bites on her bottom lip that says there's a story there as well, but Radek will not ask about that.

"I was thinking an actual military escort," Radek says, because he knows all about procedures.

He's had to read all of them after all.

"You could ask Major Lorne," Doctor Keller says.

Radek sighs. Neither one of them is going to give up on this, but it is their jobs not to. Radek understands, but he's not feeling too generous with the natives as of late.

But he also can't stand by and let the natives be destroyed by their own stubbornness.

"Fine. I will talk to Major Lorne about possibly going to talk with these people. I make no guarantees on how fast we can get this done. Just be sure to have everything you need ready to go at a moment's notice."

They both smile at him.

That cannot be a good sign.


"So what's up with these people again?" Ronon asks.

He looks so utterly bored and Radek almost feels sorry for bringing him. He remembers the camping trip and how he'd been terrible, like a child without his favorite toys and he'd sulked and been sullen the whole time.

Doctor Keller sighs.

"This planet that they live on, it's been used for mining purposes."

"Yes, yes, and now there's seismic activity that's threatening to kill them all and oh yeah, they have some minor breathing problems."

"Minor breathing problems? You call debilitating respiratory problems minor?" Keller says.

"They're alive, aren't they? And they've been breathing like that for awhile. That's not the pressing issue here," Rodney says.

"The pressing issue is…"

"Oh my god, get a room and go at it like bunnies already. Whatever it is you want to do, just shut up already. If I had known I was gonna have to hear all of this, I would never have agreed to come," Lorne mutters.

Ronon grunts.

"What?" Rodney sputters.

"Oh please. Like I would ever," Keller protests.

"Hey!" Rodney says indignantly.

"You can't possibly think there would be any chance…"

"I'm not hideous."

"Yeah, and you're also not my type."

"Well, you're not my type either."

"What, a woman?" Keller says snidely.

Radek thinks it's really about to come to blows. Rodney looks like he's got murder in his eyes and Doctor Keller is glaring at him just as hard. The only thing keeping them separated is the fact that Ronon and Major Lorne are standing between them.

"Oh my god, the two of you are about to pull each other's hair," Radek mutters.

"She insulted me. Twice," Rodney screams.

"He's an arrogant…"

"Okay, look, stop," Lorne says, holding his hand up in the air.

To Radek's surprise, Rodney actually stops. It takes Doctor Keller another second before she's backing off too and now Major Lorne looks pissed.

"Now, okay. Rodney, I know you know how to handle yourself on a mission, so please start acting like the head scientist on Atlantis's flagship team."

Rodney frowns, his brows furrow and he lets out a shaky breath. He nods his head.

"And Doctor Keller, I know you haven't been out in the field much and, from what I've seen, you've been doing a great job at things, but when you go off world on a mission, it's best to not let the natives know that there's infighting. Sort of makes them jumpy and not want to trust you."

Doctor Keller looks chagrined.

"Great, so I guess we're all settled in for a nice, uncomplicated mission. And if it makes you feel any better Rodney, I think you're the prettiest girl in all of Atlantis."

Rodney glares, but Major Lorne is already walking, side by side next to Radek and Radek smiles.

"That was actually quite good."

"I took a course in conflict management."

"Yes, well, hopefully now we can have productive meeting with possible off-world allies who do not like strangers."

"Hey, I handle our people, you handle the natives."


He doesn't exactly handle the natives as much as they handle him.

And also, they want his brain.

Literally.

And figuratively, but right now Radek's too concerned with the spears pointed at him to be flattered by that.

There's spears pointed at Doctor Keller and Ronon as well, Rodney on the ground with an arrow in his arm and Lorne's too busy pointing his gun at the natives and yelling at Rodney to notice the spears.

Or maybe the fact that he has his gun out means that he does notice the spears.

"You're so stupid."

"Oh, yes, thank you. Call the man with an arrow in his arm who saved your life stupid. Oh Jesus it hurts."

"What the hell were you thinking jumping in front of me like that?"

"That the situation had gone south. I don't know. I just… did it."

"Yes, well, the situation has gone south," Radek yells to them.

Lorne frowns.

"I can see that. Ronon."

He goes to grab his gun, but one of the natives holding a spear on him pokes him in the shoulder.

"Ah… well there goes that plan," Ronon says.

Red starts to bloom from the wound, dampening his shirt with it. Doctor Keller looks shocked and makes a move like she's going to help him, but then remembers that the natives have spears on her as well.

"What exactly is it you want from us?" Radek asks.

"You come in here, tell us that our land is bad, that we are in terrible danger. You expect us to just accept that at your word."

They're not dressed up in loincloths like their spears might have one think. They actually look about as advanced as most of the average Pegasus natives, pants and button up shirts and the one talking to Radek seems to be the leader.

"We seemed to have been making progress before."

Before they went to shoot Major Lorne and Rodney had stepped in front of the arrow like some kind of human shield. Before they had said that it might be nice to keep Radek because his brain had seemed to surpass any that they had in their village and Major Lorne had taken great offense to that.

"You've felt the shakes. You know. It is not your fault that the Genii used your planet for mining purposes and caused all this. If you just let us relocate you…"

"Away from our home."

"You were listening to me before."

"Yes Doc, remind them of the fact that they want to keep you," Major Lorne mutters.

Radek glares.

"You are not helping Major."

"They're not exactly inspiring me to want to help. You know what with the big spears facing me and all."

Radek sighs and turns back to the native leader.

"If you would just listen to us. The information that we have is very sound. We could share it with you and our methods of obtaining it so you can see for yourself."

"You are the leader. You are a smart man and their leader."

"Yes and this is why I can't stay with you. Because I am their leader."

He doesn't even know why they want him to stay so badly. He doesn't remember when the conversation had gone from you must leave your planet because it isn't safe to be here to you must stay with us because your brain is rather large and you speak of wise things.

Again, Radek will wait until later to be flattered.

"If you were in my position, would you leave?"

They are looking at him, pleading for him to lie to them or say what they want to hear. He sees Ronon, fingers itching for his gun. Doctor Keller looking scared and furious and out of place and Rodney's still bleeding all over the place, Lorne with his gun pointed at everyone as he tries to tend to Rodney and keep his eye on all the natives.

"I can understand why you would be resistant. We are strangers to you, telling you to leave your homes. But I am a man of science and, if presented with all the facts that my people have given you… I would leave. We are not trying to make you leave your homes. We do not need this planet for any reason. Do not believe that we are trying to manipulate you out of your planet."

The leader's face gets serious.

"We just want you to be safe."

The leader takes a few deep breaths, eyes darting to a few of his people before he nods his head just slightly.

"We will listen to what you have to say. I do not promise full cooperation, but I will back your plan here if you promise me a few things."

Radek breathes a sigh of relief.

"Okay, we will make this work."


Sheppard yells spectacularly.

It's not even negated by the fact that he's more or less leaning on the wall for support and he's holding himself, curling in on himself and Radek thinks maybe Keller had been right on the whole light duty thing.

"I don't understand what the hell happened here."

He's said that a few times and Radek is reminded of the whole kidnapping debacle.

"Sir, I…"

"No, I don't get it, Lorne. First, I'm told that you all went on a mission without even informing me and now I have to see Rodney get hauled through the gate because he's been shot in the arm with a goddamn arrow because he was saving your ass."

"I saw the arrow coming, sir."

"But you didn't see McKay jumping right in front of it?"

"I did, but that happened so fast. I wasn't… I wasn't expecting him to do that, sir."

Radek's still a little thrown by it as well. Rodney willingly stepping in front of an arrow to save Lorne, to push Lorne out of the way and granted if the arrow had kept going it would have pierced Lorne straight through the heart, but Lorne is a soldier.

He knows these things.

"When you're out there with him, it's your job to protect him."

"Yes, sir."

And Radek thinks about all the times Rodney has been hurt on Sheppard's team and how Sheppard had just patted Rodney on the shoulder and made some kind of stupid joke. This is who Sheppard is.

Radek does not really know this Sheppard.

"Colonel, please calm down. Doctor Keller says that it's not so bad. It just looks worse than it is with all the blood."

Sheppard glares.

"You should have informed me," Sheppard says.

"Doctor Keller tells me that you are not on active duty."

"Well, I'm not gone. I'm military commander of this base."

"Yes, and I'm the leader of this expedition."

He thinks this is useless. This pulling rank thing. Sheppard will never surpass him, but it doesn't matter because Radek had wanted to tell him anyway. Would have told him, but it's not like he needs Sheppard's approval to send out an off world team.

Sheppard seems to realize this because he takes a deep breath, closes his eyes and rubs his hands over his face. He sighs and leans to his other side, holds himself a bit stiffly and Radek wonders for the first time if he should be in bed at this very moment. If he should be resting because he may pull stitches or something.

"I just don't like my people coming back injured."

"And you think I do? This had not been in the plans, Colonel. But then again, injuries so rarely are."

Sheppard frowns.

"Yeah, I know."

"Then you won't mind maybe not yelling in my office. Or at all. But if you must yell at Major Lorne, then could you please do it in your own office."

Because his head is swimming and he has just spent hours upon hours trying to impress upon these people the volatile nature of their planet, their home. And he is exhausted from their yelling and he is exhausted from all of the diplomatic promises he's had to make to them.

"Right. Sorry. Lorne."

Lorne gives Sheppard a curt nod and they don't salute, but something in Lorne's eyes makes Radek think he wants to in this kind of situation, like he's been trained to.

When he leaves Sheppard is still there leaning against the doorframe and he's frowning.

"I heard you did good out there."

"I try my best."

"I don't… it's not that I doubt you."

"I'm sure Elizabeth would have handled the situation better."

Sheppard's frown deepens.

"You have to stop doing that."

"What?"

"Doubting yourself. You've already saved our asses more than once, okay. And just because I'm a little…"

"Upset?"

"Yeah, that. Just because I'm… it doesn't mean I don't think you do good out there. I just don't like people coming back hurt."

Radek nods.

"I know," he says.

He stares at Sheppard and tries to convey all the things he's not saying through his eyes. He's not good at it, hasn't mastered the art like Sheppard has and he hasn't had time to get used to it like Rodney has.

Sheppard straightens as much as he can with his injuries and Radek thinks he gets it.

"Yeah. It's a bitch."


"You're gonna feel like this is all too big for you."

She laughs a bit self-deprecatingly.

"I still find it overwhelming at times. I mean, I've brokered treaties with some of the most powerful countries on Earth, but this… this is completely different. This is… this is like nothing you've ever seen. Nothing you've ever done. Pegasus will chew you up and spit you out and make you feel like everything you've ever done before now was insignificant.

"But then again, I guess that's the point. Fish out of water. You get used to it, though. You get so used to it that you crave it. That you feel like you couldn't possibly do anything else and that's…"

Radek turns off the video. He doesn't want to hear about how she had gotten used to it, how it had became so much apart of her that it still feels like she should be running things so many months later.

"Big shoes to fill."

Radek looks up. Rodney's standing there, arm nicely bandaged and he looks less pale than before when Keller had slapped emergency Band-Aids on him.

"Very big."

"You did good."

"Yes, I've been made aware of that fact. I'm sure Elizabeth's negotiations never got anyone shot."

"You remember the Genii, right? And the whole 'they sucked the life out of Sheppard thing', right?"

Radek frowns.

"You do not need to make me feel better."

"That's not what I'm doing here."

"It's not?" Radek says doubtfully.

"No. It's more of a 'welcome to the club' thing. You know, the club where aliens want to hold you hostage because of your vastly superior intellect. It happens to me all the time. Actually, I'm surprised it happened to you while I was there."

Radek smiles.

"I'm sorry the aliens wanted my brain instead of yours."

Rodney smirks.

"Yeah, well, I told you they were idiotic."

"I just… this is the second negotiation that I've tried that's ended with someone getting hurt."

"Elizabeth had a lot more than two in the first year."

"I wish you wouldn't do that."

Rodney frowns.

"Do what?"

"Compare me with her. It's… it makes me feel even more like an imposter."

"You're not…"

"I got this job to appease all the members of the IOA because I am not an American. It helps that I have certain qualifications, but it's not… I am not a diplomat. She could broker treaties in her sleep and I'm just… I'm faking it here."

"You're not faking it."

Radek rolls his eyes.

"You're not, okay. Because if you're faking it, then half the time I go out there with my team, I'm faking it and I don't like to think that I have to fake anything. We do the best with what we have. That's what you're doing. And… um… you do very well at it."

"You are very bad a pep talks."

Rodney rolls his eyes.

"Yeah, well… still."

Radek sighs.

He understands the sentiment, but it still doesn't feel right, the whole thing doesn't feel right. And while he appreciates Rodney trying to make him feel confident, he really just needs to feel it.

Just like he had to feel Colonel Sheppard getting hurt.

"Yes, well, thank you."

Rodney nods.

"Yeah. Anytime." 

He goes to leave, quiet as he came in when Radek frowns and remembers.

"Why'd you do it?" Radek asks.

"Do what?"

"Step in front of the arrow. I would think with your rampant…"

"Yes, yes, my rampant hypochondria. I get it. You think I make things up."

"I don't…"

"Look, I don't know, okay. Maybe I was sick of people getting really hurt or something."

Radek smiles.

"You got really hurt."

"Keller says it's just a flesh wound. Though, you know I don't trust her voodoo."

"She's really trying, Rodney. It is hard, you know."

Because Radek knows. He knows what it's like to have to come in and take someone else's place and have to make everyone like you through sheer force of will.

He knows.

"I… I mean, its fine and… I don't know, alright. I've tried explaining it and I still don't know. I saw the arrow coming and I thought that Lorne wouldn't move out in time and if I just shoved him out of the way than it would be fine. We would both be fine. There wasn't really any thinking involved."

Radek nods.

"Is that it?" Rodney says, and he looks more than anxious to get away so Radek nods and watches as he scurries away.

He sighs and looks back at the tablet, Elizabeth's genuine face smiling back at him.

He presses play.

"The thing about Atlantis," her voice says as though she hadn't been interrupted.

"Being here… it pushes you. It's pushed all of us. Made us better people. You may not feel like you have the strength to make it here, but I'm sure if you've been chosen, then you'll do just fine."

Radek smiles.

He hopes to prove her right.


"Sheppard risked his life for us again."

Rodney clears his throat.

"Or, well, Teyla. He risked his life for Teyla again. He has a habit of doing that. Never leaving a man, or woman in this case, behind. I… I mean, I believe it too. How crazy is that? I guess three years of knowing the man… I mean, something was bound to rub off."

He shifts in his seat.

"He's kind of a hero. He saved a whole civilization. I know he did it for Teyla. She told me that he said he'd do it for any one of us. He seems to make the grand admissions to her. Like that time he told her he sees us all as family. He doesn't think anyone else knows about that."

He gives the camera a small smile, like he's remembering exactly when Teyla had spilled the beans about that.

Family, Radek thinks. He knows who Sheppard considers family, can guess what the list would look like.

He knows he's not on it.

"You know, sometimes I think he hatched from an egg. He hardly ever talks about his real family. You know, his biological ones. He's got that military stoicism thing down to an art form."

Rodney shakes his head and rolls his shoulders. He yawns and runs a hand through his hair.

"Of course, he's family to me too. Though, being men we're not supposed to say that. I don't even know why I'm saying it now. I just… it goes both ways. I don't think he realizes it, though. That we'd all do anything for him. Makes me wonder about his family. The biological one."

He nods at the screen and looks sleepy. He smiles, just barely and bites on his lower lip.

"Guess it's just hero mentality."


This job makes him the messenger more often that not.

He delivers bad news all the time and he's finally getting used to it, but this, he thinks, this he will not get used to. He's never had to deliver news of a parent dying. It's always condolences to the next of kin to soldiers and scientists that die on the expedition.

This is odd.

He says it hurriedly, because he doesn't know how else to deliver this kind of message and it's terrible because Sheppard has been out of the infirmary for a week, yes, but the scars are still there and he's still paler than usual. He doesn't know how not to cause pain. He just knows, remembers his own father, the doctor explaining everything to them in medical terms, the coldness in his voice, clinical and bored.

"I'm sorry," He says.

Sheppard swallows and nods, lips tight and Ronon awkwardly pats him on the shoulder. He wonders if Ronon's father is dead, which is more than likely considering the fate of Sateda. He wonders if Ronon had been there. He wonders if Sheppard, of all people, is the last one of them to lose his father.

"You will be able to go through the Gate immediately," Radek says.

"Why?"

Radek frowns.

"For the funeral."

Sheppard nods.

"Right, the funeral. Is it…"

"I don't know. All I know is that he suffered a heart attack. I… I am very sorry John."

It is later, when Sheppard has packed a bag and is on his way through the Gate, Ronon at his side in a sharp, strong presence. Rodney stands with him at the balcony, pinched look on his face, Teyla on his other side.

"It's good that he isn't going alone. He says he's fine, but I don't… I don't think he is," Rodney says quietly, urgently.

"His father has just died, Rodney. Of course he is not fine," Teyla says.

"I know. I just… I wish I could go with him, you know. Give him support. I mean, I suck at it, but…"

Teyla nods. She understands. They are family, Radek knows, but they cannot go with him.

"He will be fine. Ronon will make sure of it."

Radek hopes she is right.


"Where's Sheppard," Rodney asks as he sees Ronon walk through the gate alone.

"He had stuff to do. Stayed back. Family things," Ronon says.

Rodney frowns.

"He's okay, though, right? I mean he's not… he's okay?"

Ronon nods.

"Yeah, he's good," Ronon says.

"So what's up for today?"

Radek frowns.

"Major Lorne was just about to accompany me and Rodney to M3X-287. We're trying to establish trade negotiations with them."

"Just Lorne?"

"We've been talking with them for a week or so. I thought just bringing Major Lorne along would be fine."

Ronon looks skeptical and he shakes his head.

"I'll go with."

"Ronon," Rodney says.

"I've got all my stuff right here. Just let me take my bag to my room and I'll go with you."

"I'm sure…"

"Look, just… let me come okay? What's another set of eyes?"

Radek nods.

"Fine, I'm sure you are overreacting though."

"If I am, then I'm wasting my day, not yours."

Rodney sighs.

"Fine, if Radek let's you be Mister Macho Man, then who am I to complain. I've only been ready to go on this mission for the last three hours."

Ronon just rolls his eyes.

Secretly, Radek thinks it is a waste of time. They've been talking with the good people of M3X-287 for a solid week now with no complications.

Still, if Ronon wants to come along, then what is the harm, Radek thinks. It's not like it's going to hurt anyone.

And things do go smoothly. Radek says all the right things and the leader nods and just keep nodding.

He doesn't say anything that could remotely mean I am going to capture you all and then kill you very slowly.

But, apparently, that's on the agenda for today.

"Run!" Lorne screams as he fires another round of bullets into the angry villagers.

Radek wants to scream at him that he is, he is running, he sure as hell isn't standing around waiting to get shot at by villagers who looked like they were the cast of Braveheart, but somehow had pretty advanced weaponry.

But Lorne's too busy shooting to care and Radek's too busy running to be that angry.

Rodney's shooting and Ronon's shooting and Radek can't even get his hand on his gun long enough to do anything.

"You have to hold them back!" Rodney shouts.

"I'm trying, Doc, but there's kind of a lot of them!" Lorne shouts back.

"Oh, god, wait, there's… I think I can do this if you could keep them from shooting at me. Or at the very least, shooting me. I know the first thing is a bit much to ask considering their penchant for firing off rounds of bullets aimlessly."

"What the hell are you doing?"

"What does it look like I'm doing?"

"It looks like you're not running," Ronon says.

"Well, yes, that, but I'm… I'm making a bomb, alright."

"Out of what?" Radek yells back.

He, of course, is listening to Lorne about the whole running thing. Rodney doesn't seem to have gotten the memo.

"Stuff, okay. There's… they had parts lying around and, if I'm correct, which, let's face it…"

"A little less exposition, a little more hurry the fuck up!" Lorne shouts.

He empties his magazine and hurriedly grasps for another one before the villagers can get in another shot.

"Look, this stuff, its Wraith, okay. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a Wraith ship in orbit here and we just… we have to blow them up. Because they're Wraith worshippers if the whole 'this is Wraith technology' wasn't clear enough for you."

This makes Radek stop, though he hadn't really been running that much to begin with.

"Okay, okay," Lorne says calmly.

His eyes cut to Radek.

"But you have to hurry, okay."

"Yeah I think I got that much. I just have to…"

He trails off and keeps tinkering. Radek thinks maybe he should help, but Ronon's kind of blocking him, firing shots off into the distance and Radek can see the crowd. They're not that far behind and Rodney really needs to hurry.

"How big will the blast be?" Lorne asks.

"Pretty damn big," Rodney answers.

Lorne's eyes cut to Radek again and Radek sighs.

"Yes, yes we are blowing up potential allies. What is new? Just hurry, yes?"

Lorne nods.

"You almost done there?"

"Almost. Just gotta… okay. Okay we have to run now," Rodney says snapping his fingers.

Lorne doesn't argue with that.

So they're running again and Rodney's counting of the seconds pretty loudly as the villagers chase them and Radek thinks he can see the Stargate in the distance.

And then he trips.

Over a discarded tree branch.

The fall knocks off his glasses and he scrambles to pick them up, scrambles to get up and the villagers are right there so he scrambles for his gun.

And it doesn't work.

He takes a deep breath and tries to make it work, but it doesn't and he thinks that this is ridiculous. He's fired a gun before. Not many times, but he has and now, in the face of imminent danger, he can't make it work.

And then shots ring out and the villagers coming after him fall to the ground.

"What…"

"You really need to get better at that," Ronon says.

"I…"

"Come on."

Radek doesn't even have time to protest before Ronon's picking him up and carrying him the rest of the way to the Stargate, shooting at the villagers at what seem like random intervals.

He would protest. He would scream loudly. He would tell Ronon to put him down and that he can run to the gate on his own.

Except he's feeling a little bit like he can't.

And then, when they make it to the gate and through it just in time for the bomb to go off— the only knowledge that they have of that is the rumble that happens before they step through it and then when they send a MALP back to the planet and all they see is rubble— maybe it is such a good idea.

They make it back alive anyway.


Sheppard comes back a few days after that.

He's gotten cleared by Doctor Keller. M3X-287 has been wiped from the database by a less than pleased Rodney.

He grumbles the whole time, not that Radek can blame him.

Radek's really starting to wonder if they're ever going to find any new allies in the Pegasus galaxy.

He's just going over the mission report he had to file— Lorne and Rodney's sit on a pile on the far corner of his desk along with some performance evaluations and gate diagnostics— when Chuck informs him that Sheppard is about to step through the Stargate.

Radek just nods.

"I hear you almost got yourself killed out there."

Radek frowns. His face hurts and he knows it's because of the cuts and the lump the size of a golf ball. They itch, his cuts, but he knows better than to scratch them. Every breath he takes is a breath that means he's not been over-aged by the Wraith.

"I am not a soldier."

He remembers, years ago back in Czechoslovakia, telling Eva this. Telling her he had never been meant to be a soldier, even though she had never wanted him to fire a gun. Peaceful, non-violent, non-threatening, but even then he could not be a soldier of any kind. Remembers telling her that he believed in the Resistance, but that he could not fight it in any sort of way.

"No, but then again, neither is Rodney. And he still manages to hold his own."

"He has been doing this for a long time."

"He had training."

Radek frowns.

"You think I need training."

"If you're going to go out there and broker trade agreements, then yeah, you need some training."

"I do not like to fire guns."

"Yeah, the Wraith aren't going to care about that."

"I suppose I should know something about it. I honestly never thought that this would be my life."

Sheppard nods.

"Life throws you curve balls."

"I…"

"Look, I know this isn't exactly your thing, fighting space aliens and going on adventures and everything, but you're the one that wants to be a proactive leader."

"Perhaps I'll die and then they'll make someone else leader."

Sheppard frowns.

"Why would you say that?"

"It was a joke…"

"Yeah, but… you've done good here, Radek. I don't… I don't know if you don't realize that or not, but you've become Atlantis' leader and I…"

Radek frowns.

"Yes?"

"You're part of Atlantis. I can't picture it without you."

Radek knows he probably looks surprised, but it's as close to an admission of family as he thinks Sheppard will get with him. He can't believe that he's made it on the list, that Sheppard would care about him like that. He is just a man, a scientist raised above his calling to circumstances beyond his control.

He is not Elizabeth, he is not Carson. He is Doctor Radek Zelenka and John is Colonel Sheppard and Radek had thought that had been where the story ended.

"Thank you, John."

Sheppard gives him that bunched up, twisted smile.

"It's nothing."

"Do you need a few days?"

"For?"

"I just thought…"

"I need to get back to work more than anything. I've taken my time off. Made peace with it."

"Your time was interrupted by Replicators."

"Yes, well, I still got my time. I… I've made my peace. I need to get back out there. Fight the good fight."

Radek smiles.

"Yes, Rodney had figured as much. He's got a mission ready for you."

Sheppard nods.

"Better get some sleep then. Looks like I've got some work in the morning."

"Hmm, yes."

"And you better get some sleep as well."

"Why?"

"Because you've got a date with Ronon tomorrow."

Radek has the good sense to be scared.

**** 

Sheppard hadn't been kidding when he said that he would have to train with Ronon.

Ever since that first talk, right away the next morning Ronon and Sheppard had knocked on his door and had told him they were going to go running.

Radek had been lucky enough that Chuck could hear his telepathic help me signal and had radioed Radek with a critical gate emergency.

Although it hadn't been that critical. It had, however, been a great excuse.

That doesn't mean he has been able to get out of any training. Sheppard has been insisting and Keller has been hounding him to just do it because Sheppard's blood pressure is too high, or something.

Radek knows better than to say who cares, he's working himself into a tizzy.

Really. He does.

So he's been spending whatever free time he can muster training with Ronon.

His whole body feels like it's about to break.

They've been at this for hours. Ronon does not know the meaning of taking it easy. He's treating Radek like he would any soldier or Marine and Radek's got the bruises to prove it. He's almost surprised that he hasn't passed out from pain.

"We must stop," he wheezes.

Ronon frowns.

"You're not any better."

Radek huffs and waves his hand at him.

"I have much to do," He says.

It's not exactly a lie.

There is the inquisition to consider. Teyla's already been questioned, and from the information she's given them, it doesn't seem like this whole thing is going to be a walk in the park.

It's a status report, they say. They are just going to look over Radek's qualifications one more time, all of the things he's done as leader. He's pretty sure that his record is spotless. They have defeated the Replicators and come up with brilliant plans to counterattack attacks made by the Wraith.

He is not worried about himself.

He gives Ronon a pained smile, but he's too busy twirling his big stick and looking menacing to notice that Radek's having another panic attack. He doesn't mean to. He knows Ronon is a smart guy, for all the bluster he hides it under.

But he's also brash, has his own way of doing things and he's a bit impulsive sometimes. These things take a certain amount of humoring, playing the game and Radek's not entirely sure he can pull it off.

And it just makes him panic even more.

"You're worried. You're not focusing hard enough."

"I'm sorry. My mind is elsewhere yes. As it so often is nowadays."

Ronon grunts.

"If this is about those IOA guys…"

"Yes, it is. And it's as much about you as it is about me. I'm being interrogated here, too. It's my first inquisition, as it were. I still remember how Elizabeth would be after them. To say it is something I am not looking forward to would be an understatement."

Ronon smiles.

"I'll do my best. Stop worrying so much."

Radek bites his bottom lip.

"If only it were that easy."


"The thing with Ronon and Teyla is that they're very similar sometimes, but also exceedingly different. I don't doubt that both are very intelligent. They've proven that. But Ronon is who Teyla would have been if forced to an extreme, I think."

He smiles. This is exactly how he thinks of the both of them as well. Very similar, but also very different. They are unique. Teyla can charm anyone, assuage anyone if she really tried. Ronon likes the gruff approach.

Elizabeth laughs.

"Listen to me. I sound like a dime store psychologist. I'm just glad they're on our side."

Radek couldn't agree with her more.


He practices sometimes when he knows Ronon is off doing other things.

It's not that Ronon is not a good teacher. He is as good as one could possibly be, given the circumstances and he is the best at what it is Radek is supposed to be learning.

Radek thinks it's much like trying to teach his nephew how integrate something. Ronon just has too much instinctive knowledge to dummy it down so that Radek could possibly understand.

It is not Ronon's fault. Radek is the child in this metaphor, impulsive and frustrated by his lack of understanding, and he wonders how Rodney even got through the first round of this without completely loosing his mind.

He can take comfort in the fact that he and Ronon share that much, the need to succeed, the drive that makes them want to do better.

It doesn't mean that either one of them will.

"I am not good at this," Radek says.

Lorne frowns.

He wishes Lorne weren't here sometimes, but he'd caught Radek trying to fire a pistol and almost hurt himself.

"You're doing good, Doc," Lorne comments.

"I miss more shots than I actually hit," Radek says dryly.

"But you're learning."

"Ronon seemed to get irritated with me. Because I didn't seem to get it right away."

"It's in his nature, fighting and what not. Or maybe it's just that he's been doing it for so long he forgets what it's like to learn it for the first time. By the way, your stance is off."

Radek frowns.

"Perhaps this was a mistake."

"If you're gonna be out in the field, you have to learn these things."

"It is frustrating."

"Yeah, imagine doing it with angry drill sergeants."

"You are Air Force though."

"Still have to learn how to shoot a gun. We just get to fly planes, too."

He likes Lorne. Heated arguments over Ancient civilizations aside, Lorne seems to be the only one who understands his position.

He's a man who's found himself on the inside without a clue as to how he'd gotten there.

"You won't get it in five tries, you know. You won't even get it in a hundred tries. For Ronon and me and Sheppard and all the Marines and Air Force officers here, this is something we've been trained to do. This is something we've spent years learning to be able to do in our sleep. And we had all the time in the world to learn. You know what it's like."

Radek nods.

"I suppose."

"It's not easy. Especially when you've got a lot more shit to deal with."

Radek smiles.

"This IOA inquisition is proving to be a lot more of a headache than we had all had previously thought."

"The IOA's a bitch. This is new how exactly?"

Radek laughs and Major Lorne smiles as well.

"It's not. But this new man, Mr. Coolidge. I fear he's even worse than Woolsey."

Lorne grimaces.

"I heard about the whole 'honey' thing. Honestly, if I'd been Teyla, I'd have ripped the guy's balls off."

"And that's what I fear Ronon will do once it is our turn."

"Slippery slope."

"Very much so. At least with Mr. Woolsey we know what to expect. I may not like the man…"

"No, how could anyone not like Mr. Woolsey?"

"But he's been a begrudging supporter of all the play here on Atlantis," Radek says, as though he hadn't been interrupted.

"Yeah, I guess. You know, barring the whole trying to undermine Elizabeth's authority and yours the last time he was here."

"We haven't been cut on funding and, as much as it pains me to say, he hasn't pulled us all away from here."

"Yeah, well, don't expect me to be thankful."

Lorne takes the gun away from him and eyes it carefully before pointing it towards the target that's riddled with holes everywhere except for the bull's eye.

He doesn't miss.

"You'll keep working until you get the hang of it. The only reason Sheppard never made Elizabeth do it was because she didn't go out in the field nearly as much as you do. He made sure she knew how to fire a gun, though."

Radek nods.

"This thing with the IOA… you'll get through it. Ronon will get through it. What are they gonna do if he doesn't? Make him leave?"

"Perhaps."

"They'd have a hell of a fight on their hands," Lorne says.

Radek smiles.

"I was counting on that."


"What?"

"We have to go after them," Ronon says.

"Yes, yes, I'd heard you the first time I just… we?"

Ronon rolls his eyes.

"If you're not going to come..."

Radek frowns.

This is not what he had been thinking when he and Ronon had stepped through the gate to Midway, but here they are, overrun by Wraith with a lock down looming and Radek's just glad they haven't found him.

He does have the codes to override it, after all.

"They're going to Earth."

"I can see that."

"So we have to stop them," Ronon says, as though it were obvious.

Radek takes a deep breath.

This will more than likely be a gun fight, a battle to the death against a whole gang of Wraith. They are stronger and faster than Radek could ever hope to be and he thinks he'd be better off staying here at Midway trying to figure out a way to make sure that no more of them make it here.

He can only imagine what Lee and Kavanaugh are doing and he knows that it cannot be pretty.

But if he doesn't go then that means that Ronon goes alone, and while Ronon is perfectly capable of handling himself against twenty or so Wraith, Radek's not sure he can stand by while Ronon single-handedly saves his whole planet.

"You don't have to come," Ronon says.

Radek takes another deep breath.

"I'm very sure that I do not want to go."

"You better make up your mind soon. The gate's about to close."

Radek sighs and pulls his gun, a P90 they were able to snatch from the very small armory at the Midway station, along with maybe two other guns that Ronon is holding, close to him.

"Let's go."


Radek gets exactly thirty-five seconds to look over the device before Ronon informs him that Mr. Coolidge has contacted the military and they are now prepared to blow up the whole base.

"What?"

"You keep saying that. Keep up. We've gotta kill all the Wraith here otherwise they're going to blow us up."

Radek shakes his head, but refrains from saying what again.

This is certainly not his best day ever. Or most intelligent sounding, for that matter.

"You're serious."

"Very."

"Why would the man do that?"

"Because he's an idiot?"

Radek sighs.

"There is no way we can kill all of those Wraith. And what about the people that are still unconscious?"

"That's what I said, but Coolidge seemed more concerned about getting the hell out of here."

Radek looks back down at the device.

"They were very smart about this whole thing."

"Yeah, I can see that. Now we need to kill them."

"We could never get all of them in time."

"Maybe not you."

"There are too many."

"Look, you made the decision to come along. I told you not to. You can run away like Coolidge did, or you can stand up and try to fight."

Radek frowns.

"Are you finished?"

Ronon frowns, eyebrows furrowing and he's looking at Radek like Radek's crazy.

"I guess."

"Good, now if you had listened to me, you would have heard me say that it would be impossible to take all of them out one by one."

"You've got a plan to fix that problem."

"Quite possibly," Radek says.

Ronon raises an eyebrow.

"You've got some kind of science plan, don't you?"

"What makes you say that?"

"You've got the same expression McKay does when he's got some plan that I can't even begin to understand."

"Well that's… I mean I do, but that's fairly disturbing and also you might be spending too much time with Rodney."

"You don't think I know that? What's your plan?"

"This device. They used it to knock out all the people in this base right?"

"Yes."

"And the blast radius is fairly big, but not big enough to knock people out on the outside. The Wraith knew what they were doing. But they didn't come through before. They pushed the device through first which means that it is possible that they are also vulnerable to this device."

"So you want to use it to knock out the Wraith?"

"I want to go to the lab and look over the device."

"You think you can make it work."

"I think I can try. But considering the blast radius is so big, you'll need to get out through the escape hatch."

"You want me to run?"

"This isn't going to work if you get knocked out with the rest of us."

"And if it doesn't work? You're opening yourself up. You'll be killed by the Wraith."

"You're the one who said we must fight. This is a good plan."

"It's a crazy plan."

"You're strong, Ronon. Very strong, but you cannot take on this many Wraith by yourself and with me here you may get distracted trying to make sure I'm unharmed. Let me be an asset rather than a hindrance."

"By being bait?"

"We really do not have time to argue about this."

"You could get yourself killed. Are you sure you want to do this?" Ronon asks.

Radek takes a deep breath.

"I'm fairly sure that I do not, but I'm also fairly sure that this will work. I knock out all of the Wraith, you come in and kill them all."

Ronon smiles and grabs him by the arm, right at the elbow and he shakes him.

"Let's do this."


Radek still can't believe that it had worked.

It had been down to the wire, Ronon rolling the device down the hallway to the nearest lab and they're lucky that the Wraith hadn't been following them, too busy trying to figure out how to get out of the SGC and onto the surface.

The plan had been easy. Radek would fix the device and, after he was sure it would work, Ronon would get the heck out of the SGC. Radek would wait just long enough for Ronon to get out of the SGC before he activated the device.

Simple and Radek still can't believe it worked.

"So I get stuck in a spacesuit and you get to play action hero," Sheppard says to Ronon.

"I shot a bunch of stunned Wraith. Zelenka here's the real hero," Ronon says, hitting Radek on the back.

Hard.

"Oof. Um… thanks," Radek mutters.

Sheppard smiles.

"Brilliant plan. Heard it even impressed the IOA," Sheppard says.

"Yes, they're off our backs. For the moment," Radek says.

Ronon nods.

"Just asked me if I thought I was good enough for the team. Said yes. That was the end of it."

"My questioning was a bit more extensive, but, suffice it to say, it wasn't nearly as bad as I had thought it would be."

"Guess the trick to getting out of these IOA things is to save the planet while doing it," Sheppard says.

"Yes, yes, you save Earth and I have to spend what feels like a lifetime stuck in the back of a jumper with Kavanaugh and Lee," Rodney grumbles.

"We're rescued now," Sheppard says.

"Yes, because it was so painful for you sitting in the front of the jumper with your headphones and sleeping the whole time."

"Rodney."

"No, see, this is going to be worth at least a week's worth of grumbling. Dear god, why haven't they fired Kavanaugh yet? Seriously, someone needs to fire him."

"He's smart sometimes," Radek says.

"He blew up the Midway station," Rodney says.

"That is unfortunate. It took a long time to build."

Rodney smiles, not that wide and it looks like he's trying to keep himself from laughing, but he cannot help it. He laughs, loud and his face crinkles and Radek stares as Ronon starts to smile as well, soft laughter coming from him.

He loses it when Sheppard starts to laugh though, loud and braying and Radek can't help but laugh too, because this has all been the strangest last few days of his life.

So he laughs too and to the other members on the Daedalus they must look like crazy people.

Radek can't bring himself to care.


He ducks and misses the first shot, but the second one hits him in the shoulder.

"Ow," he says.

"At least you're getting better," Ronon grunts.

"You know I saved a planet and possibly a galaxy single-handedly."

Ronon nods.

"Yeah, I was there. You did good. Fast thinking under the circumstances."

"Perhaps you can lighten up."

"The Wraith never will."

"You're not the Wraith."

"No, but that's what you're up against."

"Yes, yes, I'm up against the Wraith. I understand that. But you must understand that I'm not going to turn into you. I am not cut out for that."

Ronon smiles.

"I know that."

"Then why…"

"Because you let me."

"You've been bruising me because I let you?"

Ronon shrugs.

"You back down when it gets too much. It's not like I'm holding you hostage."

Radek frowns.

"This is your way of teaching?"

"This is my way of trying to make you stronger. I know you're not going to be me. Pretty impossible when you think about it."

Radek nods.

"It's just… I didn't get why McKay was out in the field at first. Seemed like too much of a risk, but I trusted Sheppard knew what he was doing and he did. McKay saves our asses pretty frequently."

"That's nice of you to say."

"He gets better at this part of it, but I know he's never going to be like me or like Sheppard. It's just not who he is. It's not who you are. You save our lives, we back your play. But sometimes we're not always going to be there. You still need to know how to take care of yourselves."

"I think I do pretty well."

He thinks for just a few months out in the field, doing what he's been doing, that he's become pretty good.

That Atlantis has forced him to become that good.

Ronon smiles.

"Yeah, but Sheppard worries, you know. When you guys get shot at or get shot. Doubles up the training. It's his way of showing he cares."

"By making us get bruised?"

"Like I said. That's all you. You're not a soldier. If you said you didn't want to do this… I wouldn't keep you here."

Radek nods.

"I guess I bring it on myself, then."

Ronon shrugs.

"Yup."

Radek thinks that if learning how to shoot a gun and fighting off a whole gang of Wraith, thus saving your whole planet, is what happens when you subscribe to the Ronon method of training, he'll try to keep up.

"Alright then."


Radek's gone over the print out until it reads like nonsense.

He's fairly aware that this is going to be a huge problem. A really huge problem. Huger than the Replicators destroying planets.

He's had regular updates from Doctor Keller and he's been sending out various teams to combat this. Starts with respiratory difficulty, continues into flu like problems until there's major organ failure. Starts the same, ends the same, and takes the same amount of time to kill.

Except some of the villagers don't die.

Only thirty percent of the population has been dying according to the reports in front of him.

And they have no idea how it's spreading. They have no idea who's started it. They have not much of an idea at all.

He takes another drink from his mug of coffee and sighs.

"Need a refill?"

Radek looks up.

"I need for this to not be happening," He says shaking his head.

"Still going over the reports?"

He watches as Rodney sits down on the other side of the table, mug in his hand and Radek nods.

"Yes, and, so far, I do not see anything that I can do."

Rodney frowns.

"It's not just you, you know."

Radek quirks his lips and shakes his head.

"I did not mean for it to come out like that. I just… I do not know. Everything that Doctor Keller and the medical team have thrown at it hasn't stopped it."

"I know, but we're trying. We're trying to keep everyone from freaking out."

Radek frowns, eyebrows knitting together and he rubs his neck.

"When you become the one giving the pep talks, I become scared."

Rodney glares.

"I was just trying to be nice. We're all on high alert here."

"I know, Rodney. I just… thank you," Radek says with a sigh.

Because, really, there's nothing else he can do. Nothing else that he can say.

"Well, yeah, thanks. I… well I don't mean to add to your problems. Really, I don't. I talked about it with John and I don't think she's going to say anything, but I guess I thought that maybe you should know."

"Know what?"

"Teyla. She's… she thinks she's having visions."

"Visions?"

"Yeah, about Kanaan. The father of her baby. She thinks that he's trying to communicate with her through these visions. Trying to tell her where the Athosians are and who took them."

Radek doesn't know what to say to that.

"You're right. You shouldn't have added to my problems," Radek says.

"Radek."

"She's not…"

"I thought you should know," Rodney says defensively.

"I know, I know, but…"

"Doctor Zelenka."

Radek sighs and taps his radio.

"Yes, Doctor Keller?"

"I've had a breakthrough on the disease. I'd like to discuss it with you in the infirmary"

"Alright."

He spares a glance to Rodney.

"Doctor Keller has had a breakthrough on the plague. I have to meet with her in the infirmary."

Rodney nods.

"Radek."

"If she comes to me, Rodney, I will listen to her."

"She just needs someone to listen."

"I know."

So he will listen, but he is not so sure that there will be anything he can do about it.

**** 

"The Hoffan drug."

"Yeah. It was designed…"

"I know, Doctor Keller," Radek says.

She frowns at him a bit, but he's not willing to apologize for snapping.

He doesn't have to hear what the drug does. He remembers. He remembers Carson working on it and Rodney working on it and the tight, pinched look Elizabeth had had on her face when she had agreed to letting their Wraith prison take part in the trials.

He'd been working on something else at the time.

This doesn't stop Rodney from glaring at him. Or Sheppard.

"This means that someone is doing this deliberately. That they're spreading this virus… that someone is doing this on purpose," Keller says.

There's conviction in her voice, a desperate need to understand what the hell is going and Radek can't blame her for that.

"Yes, that is what this means."

"Someone is murdering these people."

"Yeah, they are," Sheppard says.

"I just want to know how all these people are getting inoculated with this drug and they don't even know about it. The drug can't spread. It isn't contagious," Rodney says.

"And the planets don't have regular contact with each other. We already know that, Rodney," Sheppard says.

"The protein make-up is slightly different. In the original test trials, the Hoffan drug killed fifty percent of the population. This only kills thirty. That and it's probably easier to pass of in the food and water supply now," Doctor Keller says.

"So, the question we need to be asking is who is responsible for this?" Sheppard says.

"Maybe the Hoffans have altered the drug and decided to proceed with distribution of the drug," Doctor Keller offers.

"No, that is impossible," Radek says.

"Why? Because I suggested it?" Keller snaps.

Radek frowns.

"No, because what was left of the Hoffans were wiped out by the Wraith because of their drug," Rodney says.

She looks a bit appeased, but still angry.

"It's still worth checking out though," Radek says.

He hopes that that makes her stop glaring at him.

"Well, then I guess we're checking out Hoff," Sheppard says.

He gets up and pats Rodney on the shoulder.

"Come on, Rodney, let's go."

Rodney nods, but he doesn't look that happy about it and he follows John out of the conference room.

"Try to play nice," Rodney mutters to Radek on his way out.

Radek thinks that's easier said than done.


"And you get much satisfaction out of this?"

"Well, not much. I mean it's… it's kind of relaxing, you know. Helps you through it. It's kind of therapeutic."

"Do you tell it everything?"

"Yes, that's kind of the point."

Teyla looks at the camera skeptically. She looks as though she has just come from the gym, hair in a messy ponytail and her face glowing.

"I thought you weren't allowed to discuss the Stargate program with anyone?"

"Well, theoretically, the only people who will see this already have clearance. It's mostly just our thoughts, our feelings over all the madness that goes on here on a daily basis. Rodney finds it soothing. Although I'm not sure I know how Carson feels about it."

"Does Colonel Sheppard participate?"

Elizabeth frowns, face pinched and she shakes her head.

"He did it once and didn't like it. He's the type to keep things bottled in."

"That rarely ends well."

"Yes, I know."

"I  do not know that this will help, Elizabeth. I already have many ways of relieving stress."

"I know. I think those ways are very valid and good. I just thought…"

"I am honored to know that you would want to involve me in something that is clearly a ritual you do with the staff. It means a lot to me that you would include me."

"Of course, Teyla. I just want you to know that you are a very valuable member of this expedition."

"And just the thought that you would include me is enough. I know, Elizabeth. I understand."


"I do not understand."

Radek sighs.

"I do not think that this mission is a good idea."

"I have explained…"

"Yes, I understand that. And now I hope that you will understand that while I get that this is real for you, we have no real evidence."

"I told you what I saw."

"Yes, a vision."

She glares at him.

"You do not believe me."

He wants too. He really does, but he is a scientist and this does not make sense, Wraith DNA or not.

It just doesn't add up.

"I would like to."

"You cannot keep me here. I am free to come and go as I please."

"Yes, but I would hope that it doesn't come to that."

"You are keeping me from the truth."

"I am keeping you from making possibly the biggest mistake of your life. You want to believe and I understand that, but we do not know anything for sure."

"You know what I have told you. I would have hoped that would be enough."

He sighs. He does not want to argue with her, but he does not think they can resolve this.

They are already stretched too thin with the plague that is spread among the various planets of the Pegasus galaxy. Every bit of manpower is being diverted to that.

But she is determined. She stands in front of him a woman on a mission and he's reminded of Eva.

He couldn't give Eva anything either.

"I am sorry. I cannot authorize any more resources on this. You already went to the village. That is all I can offer."

Her face goes hard, cold and her glare stiffens.

"Then I will do this on my own."

He takes a deep breath.

"I had hoped you would wait until at least the crisis with the plague was over."

"There is no time," she says.

No time, he thinks. There is never any time. There is never enough.

"If you must…"

"I must."

He tries to swallow against the lump in his throat. This is it, he thinks. This is where she leaves to walk out of his life forever, to walk out of Atlantis forever or at least until she finds what she is looking for. And even then, who knows if she will even come back.

"Then I will tell you what I told Ronon. You are free to leave. But I hope you know that Atlantis is always open for you."

"So you've told me."

She rushes out, skirt twirling as she walks and Radek watches her go.

He is not ready for the fallout.


"You can't just let her go like that."

He rubs his forehead. A headache is forming right at his temples. He can feel it.

"She made her choice, Rodney."

"You couldn't divert some manpower to escorting her? What, are you trying to prove a point?"

"Yes, the point that this whole thing has 'very bad idea' written all over it. We are in the middle of a crisis."

"We're always in the middle of a crisis."

"And with the way things are, diverting men to escorting her places is insufficient," Radek continues, as though he weren't even interrupted.

"It's Teyla."

"Yes, I am aware of that. And no one… I understand what she is going through Rodney, but give me something. Give me something more than a few dreams. Give me evidence that she is right."

"So you let her go off on her own even though you think it's a terrible idea."

"I was not going to keep her here against her will. But I was not going to put the lives of all the people here in jeopardy."

"Who says they were?"

"Who says this isn't a trap? We have no idea what these dreams are being caused by. She said it herself, Rodney. It's possible the link is because of Wraith DNA. Now the most we can hope for is she doesn't find what she is looking for, or these are really just dreams."

"Doesn't look like that's going to happen."

Rodney turns around and Radek looks over. There Sheppard stands, pissed off as hell and glaring at him. Ronon's there as well, glaring just as heavily.

"Teyla was taken by a Wraith dart."

"What?"

"Yeah, one of my scouts saw it."

Radek frowns.

"You had men following her?"

"As military commander of this base, it's my prerogative."

"And as leader of this expedition you should have cleared it with me first."

"I wouldn't have even been in this situation if you hadn't gone on a power trip and decided not to send escorts with her."

"This would have happened either way. It was a trap."

"Yeah, but your way means we wouldn't have known about it. My way means we can do something about it."

Radek sighs. He presses his fingers against his eyelids and wishes for the situation to go away. Somehow the whole Replicator thing had seemed so much simpler in comparison.

"We do not have much to spare," he says.

"You've got us. Her team," Sheppard says.

Radek nods.

"Yes, without the slightest clue as to where to begin looking."

"There's Todd."

Radek frowns. He'd been hoping to use that favor for something else.

"Yes, but that involves us showing all of our cards."

"Do we have much of a choice?" Ronon says.

Radek shakes his head.

"You can't seriously be thinking of just… letting her stay out there. We know… we know who has to have her. Todd said…"

"Yes, I am aware of what Todd sais, Rodney," Radek snaps.

Now Rodney glares at him.

"It's okay to admit when you're wrong," Sheppard mutters.

"I was not wrong," Radek yells.

They hear him in the control room. He sees Chuck and Doctor Keller stare, eyes wide, and the whole of Atlantis seems to be looking at him.

"I was not wrong. Clearly I was not wrong as everything points to the fact that this was a trap and I was right. But that doesn't matter right now. None of that matters because we're too stubborn and we're too prideful. We all are. And now she has been taken."

Sheppard's lips purse and Ronon looks down. Rodney looks desperate, helpless.

"She has been taken and you're right, if anything happens to her it is because of me. Because I didn't restrain her like I should have."

"Radek."

"Isn't that what you're saying? That I should have made her stay when she wanted so badly to go. And what if I had sent a team with her. Would their deaths be on my hands too? I made a decision and I will stand by it, but I will also make other ones. Ones that will get her back because… because she's Teyla. Because we do not leave anyone behind."

They stare at him.

"Give Todd all of what we have and tell him what we want in return. Make sure the deal is clear and what will happen if he does not deliver. I want whatever manpower we can possibly divert, scientists and Marines, contacting our allies in case this does not work."

Sheppard and Rodney nod.

"We didn't…" Rodney opens his mouth.

"Just do your jobs. Tell Doctor Keller of the plan and have her talk to me if she needs anything. We must move quickly."

They seem to take the hint because they leave after that, running almost and Radek is so utterly grateful that they leave him to make more strategy.

He hopes this all works.


In the end it comes together.

Somewhat, anyway. They have the Daedalus and the favors with Todd don't seem to be running out, apparently. He comes through with coordinates, a planet that's rumored to be one of Michael's outposts housing some of their people.

The information is reliable, several other sources concur and Radek orders a full scale attack on it, three teams led by Sheppard, Lorne and a Major Marks with the help of the Daedalus.

Colonel Caldwell does not question when Radek all but orders his consent and help with this one. Radek thinks it's the force with which he says it.

Or perhaps he recognizes Radek for who he is, a desperate man just seeking redemption.

The whole thing takes two hours and sixteen minutes, everyone waiting with bated breath for something, anything, any news and in that time Radek delivers no speeches, offers no assurances.

He wonders if they hate him a little more for that.

And when the clock comes up on two hours and seventeen minutes, he gets the transmission.

"Atlantis, this is Sheppard— we're coming in with a refugee."

"You found her?" Radek asks, confusion in his voice.

"Well, we found someone.


" I hope I'm doing this right."

It's the first time he's seen Carson in one of these, though he's seen Carson's name on some of the titles. He's avoided clicking on them because it's Carson. It's different from Elizabeth.

Carson is really dead.

"I can't believe Rodney talked me into this. I'm not exactly photogenic."

He messes with his lab coat, which is wrinkled. It's never anything but, Radek remembers. He remembers endless nights, medical and science teams working side by side to figure out the problem.

For some reason he'd thought Carson would keep it crisp, clean and ironed, but they are on Atlantis after all and Radek doesn't think there are any irons.

He smiles one of those warm smiles.

"I'm not even sure what I should talk about. This whole thing is a bit eerie. Like when Aiden was walking around with that video camera, trying to get us to say goodbye to our loved ones. That was unpleasant."

Radek remembers this of course.

"All of my medical experiments are on file. I've dictated them into a microphone as well. I honestly can't think of anything to say here. Anything that you might not already know, anyway."

Carson smile gets wider.

"I guess I'll start from the beginning, then. My name is Carson Beckett and I am a geneticist."


He can't quite believe what he's staring at.

Carson. Carson alive and smiling up at them, waving as much as he can with the tubes all around him and he doesn't seem the least bit disturbed by the fact that there are medical doctors in hazmat gear surrounding him.

It is Carson, after all.

Or it's not. They're not sure.

"So, not a Replicator," Sheppard says.

"No, we've ruled that out," Rodney says.

"He's being extremely cool about this."

"He's Carson. Like he said, he's made these protocols. We're going by rules he set in place long before he… died?"

It's a question. Radek's wondering when that turned into a question.

"Is he really Carson?" Sheppard asks.

"Maybe. He could be a clone. Or someone from an alternate universe, parallel timeline."

"So many choices, so little time," Sheppard mutters.

"Yeah, well, whatever it is… it's weird," Ronon says.

Rodney hums and nods.

"Yes, I'm sure he's feeling the same way. He seems to think he's the real deal. That he's just been held prisoner for all this time. I can't imagine."

They're silent for a second and Radek knows that if this is a clone or an alternate Carson, they will have to tell him. They will have to tell him that he had died and they had sent him to his parents and his mother had cried like she had been dying.

Or so Radek had heard.

They will have to tell him of Elizabeth and the fact that they still haven't found Teyla, that all they know is that she's with Michael and that can't be good.

"If this is him, then we will tell him," Radek says.

Sheppard frowns.

"You think the one we brought back was a clone?"

"No, it is impossible. Even with Michael's advancements… there's no way he could have had that much information on how to reproduce a clone so quickly during that time. It is more likely that this Carson is a clone," Radek says.

Sheppard nods and goes back to staring at Carson and the medical team through the glass. Rodney glares.

"Does it matter?"

"What?"

"If that Carson's a clone. Does it matter? It's… it's still Carson."

"Rodney…"

But Rodney does not want to listen. He just glares some more and mutters something about finding him when the results are in before he storms off.

"This is why this is weird," Ronon grumbles.

Radek has to agree with him.


"Atlantis is something I sort of walked into. Because of my gene mostly, though some people will say it's because I'm a brilliant geneticist. I like to believe the latter, mostly. Maybe it was a combination of both. No one wants a skittish medical doctor on an expedition of this magnitude."

Carson clears his throat.

"I never wanted to stay. Even after that first year. But even when I could come back… I didn't. Atlantis has a way of… pulling you in. It's scary and it keeps you up at night and I've spent more than my fair share of time here. Sometimes I wonder why I stay. Why I didn't just stay when we were sent back. "

He smiles.

"But it is also the place where I have found the best of friends. My family."


In the end, this Carson is a clone.

Rodney doesn't like it when anyone calls him that though, Clone Carson. Keller had thought it had been cute and he nearly bit her head off because of it.

She had to get everyone to stop saying it after that.

It's clear to Radek that Rodney's already bonded, already made up his mind that it doesn't matter if this Carson is a clone because it's still Carson. There's still something of Carson left and Rodney had spent three hours in the isolation room talking to him, patting him awkwardly on the shoulder and giving him platitudes that everything would be alright, that Rodney would make it alright.

Sheppard is weary.

"He is attached," Radek whispers.

Sheppard frowns.

"This is the man that's still attached to a dog he had back when he was seven. Of course he's fucking attached," Sheppard whispers back.

It is clear that Sheppard is tired, Radek sees it in his eyes and he is not ready for the argument that is going to come.

It will no doubt be explosive.

"He can help us with Teyla. He knows layouts. We have an inside track that Michael didn't think we were gonna have."

"Or he knew exactly that we'd have it," Sheppard mutters.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"I'm just saying that he could be a ploy. Michael could have known exactly what we were going to do and that we'd take him," Sheppard says.

"He wouldn't…"

"Not consciously, but… it wouldn't have to be consciously, Rodney. If he's a plant."

"He's Carson! He's not a plant and he's not a clone. He's just Carson."

Radek sighs.

"Enough."

They both look over at him.

"You are both right here. I… I would like to talk with Carson. See how good his information is and then I will decide. It would not be wise to just let an opportunity like this go. Teyla has been missing for over a day now. Even if he is a plant of some sort, we still have the upper hand here."

Sheppard quirks his lips.

"You're right."

Radek nods.

He's not sure when he started thinking of things in terms of military strategy, of who is right and how they will deal with a situation, but that is the job of a leader.

To lead.


"I guess you have to be a part of it really. It is the greatest adventure, sure. I never thought myself a man of adventure. Genetics, as exciting as it can be, isn't exactly a thrill-seeking job."

He pauses and his face gets serious, contorts into a bit of a grimace.

"I am surrounded by heroes. They wouldn't know it, but they are. Heroes."

He gives a self-deprecating smile.

"I can only hope that I can be just as good as they are."


"So they made you leader?"

Radek nods.

"Mindblowing."

"You are a bit of a leader. Always have been. While Rodney's off playing space explorer, you're here rallying the troops."

He sounds so much like Carson. Radek remembers tearful goodbyes and late nights spent with Carson giving them stimulants and telling them that they can, that they must, that Atlantis needs them.

Rodney's right. This is no mere clone. He has Carson's memories, his personality, everything that makes Carson who he is stored within him and he smiles like Carson. He moves like Carson.

"It's still very new."

"Yes," he says, head bowed.

"Rodney has told me. About everything. About Elizabeth. About myself. It has been tougher than I would have imagined."

"Just as tough for you, yes. Tougher, some would say."

Carson frowns.

"I suppose that I had been hoping for a return that was more… welcoming. Not that I don't know why all this must be done. I completely understand. I just…I was expecting hugs and a celebration. Not to be told that I am a clone and that the real me is dead and one of my closest friends is dead."

"That doesn't mean the end, though. Rodney says you have information that could help us with the fight against Michael."

"And to get Teyla back, yes."

"Yes."

"You don't trust me."

"It is not a matter of that."

"No, I understand. It isn't a matter of me. It is a matter of the circumstances."

"We would like to trust you. Rodney already does. Colonel Sheppard and I…"

"You must do what is best for Atlantis."

"You are what is best for Atlantis, Carson. You must know that… you must know that you are a big part of Atlantis. Even after you died."

Carson smiles.

"I would understand…"

"No. This is my decision is it not? I decide that I trust you. I trust you and I am willing to go on a little faith here."

It's completely against his nature. More something that Carson or Elizabeth or Teyla would say, but he's learned to take from the strengths .

And Carson's right here.

"Well, I don't know much."

"Whatever you can give. It is important."


In the end, it does turn out to be an ambush.

A small one, a one man ambush and it makes them pause, makes Radek and Sheppard really wonder, though Sheppard is a little less inclined to mistrust Carson.

Radek thinks it's because they've talked, been able to see that it really is Carson and Carson has that way of charming people without really meaning to.

Even Ronon seems to be sticking up for him.

And just when Radek is about to make an impassioned speech about why they may not be able to trust Carson, he collapses.

"So… he's dying," Rodney says.

His voice is choked and his eyes may even look a little watery, but that could be lack of sleep.

"I've already gone over it all with him, but yes, for all intents and purposes. His cells aren't renewing. He's… it's like he's getting years older right before our eyes. Biologically speaking."

Carson sits there quietly, hands folded in his lap, staring off to the wall.

"We must find a cure," Radek says.

Doctor Keller's eyes widen.

"We've been trying. It's not like we've been sitting on our asses twiddling our thumbs. It's just… this is complicated stuff. Our staff is nowhere near that level of expertise. I mean, a few…"

"You have someone at your disposal who knows the cloning process intimately."

Carson looks up.

"He's dying. He needs to rest," Keller says.

"I think that is up to him."

Carson's lips purse.

"His cells are deteriorating right before our eyes. If he does anything strenuous…"

"I will not bloody sit here and let other people fuss over my life. I will not be useless. Not like this. Not after all these years."

This is the Carson they know.


Stasis.

It's the only answer Keller has. They must put Carson into stasis so that he can be frozen in time until they find a cure. Until this has all ended and they've found Teyla and they can focus on Carson solely.

The problem is, Carson knows too much.

"He is dying before our very eyes," Rodney says.

"I know that Rodney," Radek says, a bit exasperatedly.

"We should put him in stasis now."

"And forget all the information that he has on Michael's lairs that can help us save Teyla," Sheppard says sarcastically.

"So we ask him about it. We get detailed? descriptions of what we're walking into here. Is it really worth it to risk both of their lives"

"This is Teyla, Rodney."

"This is Carson, John."

They stare at each other for awhile, intense and, in Radek's opinion, it's a bit futile. Neither one is willing to budge, neither one is willing to give up any ground and Radek knows that Rodney had all but begged Carson to stay behind, to enter the stasis chamber so that they could be sure that he would live.

Carson had said no, just like Radek had believed he would. Because Carson may not know it, but he is a hero as well.

Probably more so than any of them.

"He will go, Rodney. Because he wants too."

"He's going to get himself killed," Rodney says a bit hysterically.

"It is his choice."

"No, that's not true. It's your choice. You can tell him no. You're the leader."

He says it like an insult, says it like it's supposed to cut him, make him bleed. Radek stands tall, as tall as he can and as straight as he can and musters up all the confidence in his bones.

"Yes, I am. And as the leader I would not ask him to do something that I wasn't already going to do myself."

Sheppard looks shocked.

"Radek."

"It is my fault that she is out there. If I had just… if I had made her be accompanied by Marines. If I had listened to her instead of judging by my own standards… it is possible we wouldn't even be in this position. You will not go without me."

Sheppard frowns.

"You're not ready."

"Neither is Carson and you wish him to go."

"He knows things."

"Yes, he does. But like I said, I will not send him out there while I stand idly behind in the Gate room waiting for your return. I will go with you. Along with Lorne and a group of Marines."

"We can handle…"

"It is not a question of capability. It is a question of making Michael know that we will not stand by idly."

Sheppard nods.

"We're gonna blast him out of the air, then."

Radek smiles.

"Very much so."


Sheppard has gone over the tactics with him enough times that Radek thinks he could recite them in his sleep.

Covert, he'd said. We don't want to engage if we don't half to, despite Radek's need to just kill them. The mission is to get Teyla out with as little fuss as possible. If the other team was needed, it would hopefully be to cover their six.

Radek's never experienced blood lust before, but he thinks he's going through it now. The intense need to kill off all the Wraith, Michael especially for his crimes against humanity, crimes he couldn't care less about and for taking Teyla. For turning Radek into a fool.

It's good that Sheppard's there to keep him balanced, to keep him from making bombs and sending them at the Wraith.

This is about Teyla after all.

Once in the fortress they are surrounded by Michael's hybrids, being shot at as the look for Teyla and free the Athosians. He doesn't think he's every fired as many shots as he does now. He's not even sure if any of them make their target.

He sees the ease with which Sheppard and Ronon fire their guns, precise and to kill and even Rodney, Rodney who loves physics as if it were a person and inhales coffee and berates the science team, holds his weapon with ease, shoots his intended targets.

Radek feels strangely inadequate.

So he calls in for back up and focuses on Carson, making sure Carson is alright because he doesn't think Carson's even firing his weapon and that's when he sees him take off.

"Carson!" Rodney yells.

He makes the decision in a split second, thinks what would his people do, what would these men he's fighting with do.

"I will follow him," Radek says.

"Are you crazy? It could be a trap," Rodney shouts over the gun blasts.

"Then we will know for sure if he was lying to us all along," Radek says.

He doesn't spare a minute to listen to Rodney's protests, just runs to the sound of bullets whizzing by and Rodney calling for him to come back as he fires his gun.

He runs. He keeps on running and every once in awhile he catches a glimpse of Carson until he rounds the corner and he hears Carson's voice. He looks over and sees them. Teyla so frightened and scared and backing away from Carson, Carson looking desperate, urgent and praying that she believes him.

"Teyla. Teyla you have to listen to me love."

"You are dead."

"I know, dear. It's complicated, but we must leave now. Colonel Sheppard and Rodney and Ronon and Radek are all here to rescue you, but they're having a tough time fighting off Michael's army. So we have to run."

"Kanaan… I must… I cannot leave him here. I will not leave him here."

"We can't stay. I promise you that we will rescue him too, but right now we've got to leave. This place is no place for someone in your condition. We must leave now. There is little time."

"Wrong. You have no time."

It's then that Radek sees him, from the shadows he steps out, looking as menacing as any villain in any horror movie ever.

They stand strong, stand tall in the face of Michael standing in front of them. Carson pulls his gun and points it at Michael. He gets ready to shoot, but his hand twitches, shakes and Teyla's urging him on, saying shoot him.

He can't though, Michael says, he can't because Michael's smart and he's thought of this, thought of his creations rebelling against him and Carson looks as though he's sweating, like he's fighting it with all his being.

And then Radek knows, just knows. Knows what he must do and he grips his gun as tightly as possible and steps out from behind the shadows.

He doesn't even really feel the gun going off, doesn't see if his bullets hit their target, not really, but he hears Michael let out a scream, a howl and he sees Teyla and Carson flinch out of the way.

He empties his whole clip and he wishes he had more, but he doesn't and there's no time for that. Rodney says that the ship is powering up.

"We must go," he says.

And then they run.

They run so fast and hard. They run as fast as Teyla can possibly manage and even then Radek thinks she's running faster than she had even thought possible, her feet pounding the ground as they make it out of the complex. They keep up that pace until they make it to one of the jumpers and Radek presses the button on his remote to de-cloak it and open the door.

"Colonel Sheppard, please respond. This is Doctor Zelenka. We have Teyla and we are making our way to the jumper."

"Yeah, okay, we're making our way out now. We're still dealing with some fire from Michael's cronies. You see the Athosians?"

His end is riddled with the sound of bullets and gunfire and he has to shout to be heard. Radek hears him of course and he looks around. He does not see the Athosians any where so he tells him so.

"Damn. Well at least I'm pretty sure they're out of the complex."

"Did Major Lorne not tell you if he saw them?"

"I didn't see them sir, but then again I was running around trying to come and give you guys back up. Aw, son of a bitch!"

"Major?"

"I'm fine, I'm fine. Just a little shot. Got the sucker though."

"Fall back to the jumper, Major. And take Rodney and the rest of the team with you. Ronon and I will offer cover fire."

"Sounds like a plan to me, sir."

There's quiet on the line, minutes pass as they stand by the jumper, bated breath and Teyla's gripping his hand tightly.

It's then that three things happen.

One, the complex explodes, right before their very eyes and they all let out a surprised breath, Teyla gripping his hand tighter. The building just collapses right in front of them with a loud roar, only overshadowed by the fact that Michael's ship seems to be taking off at exactly the same time.

Radek feels his heart in his throat. He thinks of Colonel Sheppard and Ronon and Rodney and Major Lorne and the group of Marines not to mention the Athosians. They could be stuck, he thinks. They could be dead.

Then.

"Radek."

"Not now Carson. I must… I have… I must dial the gate. Call for back up."

Because they can now that Michael has left and Radek just saw most of his men get trapped in a collapsing building.

"You better tell them to hurry."

He turns around to see what Carson's talking about just in time to see him collapse onto the ground of the jumper.

"Carson," Teyla says.

"He is very sick," Radek says, telling her the situation in those four words and he thinks it's quite possible that he sounds like he forgot them as well.

"He may not be the only one in need of medical assistance."

"Yes, yes. The… they will be alright. I'm sure of it. Ronon's had worse and Colonel Sheppard is strong. And I'm sure Major Lorne made sure Rodney was fine."

"Although I'm sure you're right… that's not who I'm talking about."

She grips his hand tighter and he sees she's gripping the side of the jumper as well. There's pain in her eyes, her forehead sweaty and her brow furrowed and Radek gets it.

And he really wishes he didn't.

"Well shit."


He dials the gate.

"This is Radek Zelenka and we need medical assistance as well as every man and woman we can possibly spare for a rescue and recovery mission," he says.

He doesn't even give Chuck time to respond or say anything, just demands to speak with Doctor Keller and whoever is the highest ranking military officer that hasn't just been caught in an exploding building.

He gets Keller on the line as well as some Captain whose name he can't even remember and knows doesn't matter at this point.

"What's wrong?" Keller says.

So very many things, Radek thinks.

"Carson is not faring so well. I didn't know if it would be wise to move him. I will let you make that decision," Radek says.

"And Teyla?"

He would thank her for her faith that they'd been able to rescue Teyla if there weren't more pressing issues.

"I think the baby has decided that now would be the perfect time to be born."

There's silence on the line and he can hear Teyla's muted screeches of pain and Keller's bated breath and Carson's harsh breathing and no one has even come out of the rubble or radioed that they were fine.

"Okay, I'm sending a medical team through right now. Captain Johnson has already started to assemble a rescue team. Is there anything else we need to know?"

"Yes, the building where Michael was housing Teyla exploded with almost all the members of the rescue team inside. So when I say we need medical assistance, I am not joking. And the Daedalus might be helpful as well. To beam out the most injured parties."

He can't see Keller, but he pictures she's nodding to this, mouth set in a grim line and this is quite possibly bigger than the time they were trying to escape the Replicators and that time they were only being faced with losing Elizabeth.

"Captain Johnson says we'll be through the gate in twenty minutes. I'm sending through a medical team as soon as it's assembled. Chuck has already contacted the Daedalus and informed them of the situation. They were busy dealing with some of the sick."

"Colonel Caldwell says he can be to your location in no time, sir. He's reluctant to give a specific time at the moment, but he says he'll push the engines and get to you as soon as possible. He'll radio Atlantis and you when he manages."

Chuck's voice is nice and steady. The same cannot be said for Keller's, not entirely. Radek knows she's trying, though.

"That's good. Just… just get here," he says.

"Will do sir."

"Great," Radek mutters.

He needs to remember that Chuck needs a raise.

He takes a deep harsh breath and turns back to Teyla and Carson. He frowns. Carson has passed out again and Teyla is breath harshly, arms flexing as she grabs the bench she's sitting in.

"Maybe I should have sent you through the gate," Radek says.

"Doctor Keller did not order you to. She's sending a team. They should be through shortly," she says.

Radek nods.

"Is there anything…"

He stops himself because of course there is nothing he can do except maybe offer his hand for her to squeeze off.

"It will be fine."

"Aren't I supposed to tell you that?"

She gives him a small smile.

"Perhaps."

"This is bad," he says.

He hates to state the obvious, but really, he has to because it doesn't seem real otherwise. Teyla laughs a little, voice light and laced with pain and Radek has nothing to give her.

"Yes, yes, it is. But I am certain that we have been through worse."

He frowns.

"Really."

"Yes," she says, certainty in her voice that he does not feel.

"Then how come I cannot think of any other time?" he asks.

She laughs again.

"Because right now..." She stops, takes a deep breath and her arms shake from the pain.

"Right now you are only seeing the situation at hand. But I assure you, we have been through worse."

He nods.

"How is Carson?" she asks.

Radek blinks and scurries over to Carson's side. He's pale, unbelievably pale and gasping and he looks so close to death that Radek can feel it choking him.

"How are you?" he asks lightly.

Carson takes a shuddery breath and swallows.

"Not so well, I'm afraid."

Radek squeezes his shoulder and there is nothing he can do for him, either.

"You just need to hold on for a little while longer. Doctor Keller will have a team through in a little while. She says she's got them mobilized. It is just a matter of time."

"I know the risks here. I am a doctor. I am just happy that we were able to rescue Teyla."

"There will be more than that. You will live. We will figure out a way. You just have to stay strong."

He is aware that he sounds awkward, but Carson does not say anything about it. He just closes his eyes and takes another deep breath. He keeps his eyes closed and Radek wonders if he is in pain, wonders if he wants to scream and he's just not doing it.

That would make him stronger than most people Radek knows, not that he hadn't already known this.

He is not sure how much time passes. He moves back over to Teyla and he does not want to look, has no idea what he's looking for, but she's gritting her teeth and asking for help and he's freaked.

"Radek!"

Radek turns and looks outside of the jumper and he sees two figures, one slumped over and the other dragging the first.

It is Rodney and Major Lorne, and Major Lorne looks like a doll the way Rodney is dragging him about.

Radek runs out of the jumper and to where they are. He tries to help Rodney pull Major Lorne to the jumper. It takes some maneuvering, but they get there and gently set him down on the floor.

The jumper is starting to get crowded, Radek thinks hysterically.

He ushers Rodney to the back of the jumper for more space. He's kept the jumper rear hatch open just in case people start to file in.

Like Rodney just did.

"Rodney. Are you alright? Are you hurt?" Radek asks.

He stares off a bit and it looks like he hadn't even heard Radek talk to him.

"Rodney," Radek says a bit more sharply.

"I'm fine. I mean I hurt, but a building just collapsed on me, so I think I can hurt a little, yes. I mean, can you imagine if we hadn't been almost out of the thing? If we'd…"

"Of course," Radek says quickly.

He does not want Rodney to dwell on what could have been. It is in no way healthy.

"I just… he's… he's breathing, right?"

Radek nods. He can see the rise and fall of Major Lorne's chest from the distance.

"I probably shouldn't have moved him, but I didn't know if people… I didn't know if anyone was going to call for a rescue team. But I couldn't leave him there."

"It's fine, Rodney. I'm sure you didn't hurt him more."

"You don't know that. I could have paralyzed him for life."

"Rodney."

"What, aren't we leaving? He needs medical assistance. So does Carson and oh my god is Teyla going into labor?" Rodney says, like he's noticed the other two people in the jumper for the first time.

"We were on our way out, you know. John… he'd ordered it. He'd ordered us to start leaving and we listened. We were already running out of the building so it was easy to get out. If John… oh god, John."

He's panicking, his eyes are wide and his face is so pale, stained with dust and blood. He's wringing his hands, sweaty and nervous.

"We are not leaving because I called in medical assistance and we need to stay in case Sheppard or Ronon or the other men make it out of the wreckage. And yes, Teyla is in labor."

"Fuck."

"Yes, that is the situation."

"The medical team?'

"They are on their way. They must come through to make sure Carson and Teyla are stable enough for Gate travel."

He doesn't say what will happen to Carson if he isn't. Rodney knows without being told.

"He pushed me out of the way."

Radek frowns.

"Rodney."

"He must have thought it was his turn or something. I don't know. Probably thinks he was just doing his job and for a second there I thought he wasn't breathing, but I think I was wrong."

He stares at Lorne for a few seconds before turning back to Radek.

"We're not going to die here. None of us."

Rodney doesn't answer him for a second and this is not how Radek needs him. Radek needs him alert and aware and Rodney, making snap decisions and saving the day because they're not out of the woods yet.

He may have shot Michael pretty good, but who knows what will happen if they stay here for too long.

And they may have lost many men.

But then he snaps out of it and nods.

"Right. We're not gonna die. Not like this. Not after everything. Has Sheppard or Ronon radioed?"

Radek shakes his head.

"No, you're the first to make it out of there."

"And Teyla?"

"I am…" she says.

She cuts herself off with a scream and they can both see the sweat on her forehead and the way her teeth clench and if Major Lorne weren't lying there prone, Radek thinks Rodney would have rushed to her side.

"And Carson?"

"You know Keller's timeline as well as I. So did he. He wanted to come."

"But how is he?" Rodney snaps.

Radek takes a deep breath.

"It does not look good, but I am not a medical doctor. We will know more when they get here."

"What's taking them so damn long?"

"It's only been a few minutes. They'll be here."

"So what? We just wait in the meantime?"

"Yes, that is what we do."

"I do not know if I can wait."

The both turn their heads to Teyla.

"Excuse me, what?"

"I… the pain is getting increasingly worse."

"Oh, well, Keller will be able to give you something," Rodney says.

"I do not think you understand my meaning."

"It hurts. I get it."

"It more than hurts. I think… I think it is almost time."

"What?" Rodney yells.

"Rodney."

"I just… it's been like, what, an hour?"

"I was having these pains before…"

"But most people don't have kids this fast," Rodney complains.

"Then I am not most people, because I think this baby is coming soon."

Rodney frowns and he brushes some of the dust off of his face and sighs.

"Okay, collapsing buildings, I can handle, but this…"

"Rodney."

"What about Carson. He's a medical doctor. I'm sure he's done this once or twice before."

"I do not think he is any position to deliver a baby at the moment, Rodney," Teyla says.

"But…"

"Rodney, we have to… we have to do this."

And this whole situation is more than what he's used to handling. Their men could be dead and who knows if the Hiveship is still in orbit around the planet, waiting for them. Who knows if Michael's gotten his strength back by feeding on one of his human Wraith hybrids.

And in the middle of it all, they're about to deliver a baby.

"Radek."

"We must be here for her."

"Nowhere does it say we gottta deliver her baby."

Teyla lets out another loud scream and her hands clench the seat beneath her.

"Rodney."

"Okay. Right, so… maybe we should move her to a more comfortable position."

"There's not really that much room on the jumper floor," Radek says.

Because Lorne is collapsed on the jumper floor and while Carson is in one of the chairs, his legs are dangling out.

Rodney moves her anyway, finds a spot on the jumper floor and there's some back and forth between them before they're situated and Rodney's actually going to do it.

Rodney's actually going to deliver a baby.

Radek scrambles over to them and grabs a hold of Teyla's hand.

If they're gonna do this, then they're gonna do it together.

"Oh, god," Rodney says, and Teyla keeps pushing, her screams echoing off of the jumper walls and she's squeezing his hand so tightly he thinks she's going to break some fingers.

She keeps pushing.

Rodney's muttering words of encouragement and making faces and Radek's not sure how long they're like that, how long the whole process takes. He's just glad there's no difficulty because he's heard horror stories about such things.

"Almost there," Rodney murmurs and it's muted by the rush of blood to his ears, pounding, and Teyla gives his hand one last squeeze.

And then there's a baby.

A loud, screaming baby and Radek's never liked kids, not even babies because they're messy and he's never really thought they were all that cute like everyone says.

But this baby, who's wrapped up in Rodney's jacket and crying his head off, this baby that Teyla is making gimme motions towards as Rodney tries his best to clean him and cut the cord.

This baby isn't exactly different, but at the same time he is.

"Oh, wow," Rodney says.

And Teyla's laughing and crying a bit and she still looks very beautiful, sweaty and exhausted and her smile brightens even more when Rodney hands her the baby.

Her son.

"He's…"

Radek doesn't finish his sentence. He's not sure what to say. They're silent for a few more moments before groaning comes from the other side of the jumper. They watch as Major Lorne stirs and he tries to pull himself up, but he can't.

"Oh fuck," he curses.

Radek and Rodney scramble to his side to help him sit up and he's kind of groaning in pain, only low and a bit muted, but Radek can see the pain coming off of him in waves. He makes a dash for the emergency medical kit as Rodney helps him sit up.

There's pain meds and he hands them to Major Lorne.

"I'm afraid we don't have any water."

"That's okay, doc," he says as he dry swallows them.

Radek winces in sympathy.

Major Lorne blinks a few times, eyes adjusting to the light around him. He looks around and his eyes land on Teyla and her baby.

"How long was I out?"

"Not long. A few minutes, maybe a half hour," Rodney says.

Lorne nods.

"Congrats," He says, nodding his head at Teyla.

She smiles.

"Yes, thank you. I wish the circumstances were different…"

"Well, now he'll have a story he can tell everyone."

She nods.

"So… why are we still here? Anybody radio in? Do we know the casualties?"

"You think you could stop for one second and just breathe? I mean, you must be in pain," Rodney says.

"No, because right now I'm the ranking military officer and a building just exploded on us. I'm just trying to gather my bearings."

"So you can do what, exactly? Bark orders while you're wincing in pain?"

"Rodney," Radek says.

"So I can know the situation."

"Well the situation is we are utterly screwed, okay."

"We are not screwed," Radek says loudly.

Rodney frowns.

"Radek."

"The rescue is close."

"I didn't… look, I know okay. This… this is technically a win, right. We… Michael gave up and we rescued Teyla. It's…"

"You're right. We're not screwed," He says, and his face has that determined look to it that Radek's always associated with brilliant ideas.

"I'll just… I'll use the jumper's life sign detector. I'd use it to try and scan the planet, but considering we're kind of using it as a makeshift infirmary..."

He twirls his hand a bit and gets to work, pressing buttons and Radek sees the glance he gives Carson, the grimace on his face, but he doesn't say anything.

"So help's on the way?" Major Lorne says.

"Yes, the Daedalus should be here soon, as well as a medical team and people to look through the debris."

"Michael?"

"His ship took off. I… I do not know if it is gone, or just in orbit around the planet," Radek says.

It's on the tip of his tongue to say that he shot Michael, that Michael went down and he may be dead, but he doesn't. He doesn't know why, doesn't want to get their hopes up or perhaps he just doesn't want to say.

He doesn't know.

"I'm not picking up any ships orbiting the planet. He must have taken off," Rodney says, not looking away from his screens.

"Then that's a good thing, right. That means the Daedalus won't run into any problems," Lorne says.

"Yeah, that's…"

"Doctor Zelenka, come in Doctor Zelenka."

"Yes."

"This is Major Marks. We're not that far away from the jumper. We can see it in our sights."

"Great. Doctor Keller and her medical team are with you?"

"Yes, Doctor Zelenka. How bad is the situation?"

"Well, Teyla has just delivered her baby, Carson is still… he's breathing, from what I can see, but he is very pale. Major Lorne is now awake. We gave him whatever general pain medication is in the first aid kit."

" Okay, okay, we're almost…"

"Here."

He looks toward the jumper doors and there she is along with Major Marks, her medical team and a whole bunch of rescue people. Rodney takes the lead, barking orders to the rescue team about six life signs and the distance between them.

The medical team pushes him out of the way, already getting to their jobs before Doctor Keller even has to tell them what to do. They push him forward, out of the jumper and Doctor Keller rushes to Carson's side, takes a few vital signs and walks back over to Radek.

"I'm afraid to move him," she says.

"That is fine. Take the jumper."

"The others…"

"The Daedalus is on its way, yes?"

Major Marks nods.

"Then take the jumper. Leave some of your people here to help with the injured that make it out of the wreck, but if you are afraid to move him, then take the jumper," he says.

She nods.

"Okay then," she says, as she heads back inside the jumper.

"We're gonna be down a jumper," Major Marks says.

"The Daedalus will be here. Right now, their needs are important. We must focus on rescuing the people that we can right this second. We'll worry about transport later."

"One step at a time."

"Yes, very much so."

"Alright, let's get to work then."


"I still remember the first time John had me shoot a gun. It'd been… odd. With the kickback and everything. I hadn't expected it to be that… it had been pretty intense.

"Somehow that time, with the alien possession where I'd been a gun toting kind of gal… somehow I just knew it instinctively. Which is probably true, all things considered."

She brushes her hair out of her face and sighs.

"I can honestly say I'm not that good at it, but you know John… I told him that once and he said good. I didn't get it at the time, but… he doesn't want any of us to be good at it. I still think he hates it that Rodney's gotten as good at it as he has. And Carson… John Sheppard is an oddly— or perhaps not so oddly— protective man.

"He'll try and make it so you don't ever have to shoot a gun. Unless you're military, then he might make you, but… he never wanted that for me."

She takes a deep breath.

"I should probably thank him for that.


"How are you feeling?" he asks.

"Like crap, you?"

"I wasn't injured," Radek says, holding up his hands.

Sheppard has just gotten out of surgery, an operation that had been so long that it had Rodney pacing up and down the hallway, Ronon holding his injured arm close to himself, standing silently and holding his own vigil.

He'd missed Carson going into stasis, but then they'd had to do that immediately and Carson had understood.

He'd told Rodney to say goodbye. Rodney had just nodded and looked like he was going to hug Carson again.

"Still… I hear you did good out there."

"I kept it together. Anyone in my position would have had to do the same."

"Yeah, I know. But that was a compliment."

"Oh… yes, well…"

"You got Teyla. And the baby."

"Yes, well, I didn't deliver him."

"I know, Rodney did. I'm sure that we won't be hearing the end of that for awhile."

Radek smiles.

"He did what was necessary. Although I thought he might pass out for a minute there."

Sheppard laughs and then grabs his side a bit, wincing in pain and Radek frowns.

"I didn't mean…"

"It's okay. I just have to remember not to move much. Or laugh, apparently."

"Keller says you will be fine."

"Well, yeah. It's just a scratch, really."

Radek frowns.

"It's not…"

"We're not making a big deal out of it are we? Because what happened had to happen and I'm not going to feel sorry about it or for myself. You shouldn't either."

"You should have left the building sooner. I… I had Teyla. We should've…"

"Yeah, hindsight's a bitch."

"I…"

"It's a win, Radek. We've got Michael on the ropes and we got Teyla back. It's a win."

Radek sighs.

"I shot him." 

"Radek…"

"He was going to take her and Carson… Carson wanted to, you know, but Michael did something to him to keep Carson from attacking him. So… I followed Carson and I shot him."

He feels… something. He's not quite sure what the feeling is, but it's something and it's almost like a huge weight has been lifted, but a bigger one has been added to his load.

Sheppard's face is hard, unreadable and Radek feels nervous for no reason that he can fathom.

"You did what you had to."

"Yes."

"I can't… did you want to talk to Heightmeyer?"

"No. I… should I want to?"

"You're asking me?"

Radek laughs.

"I haven't told anyone. I just… I don't know why I haven't told anyone."

"You will, eventually. You're probably just in shock."

"It's pretty valuable information."

"And you'll tell it when you're ready."

"I would have thought…"

"Look, you know the first time Rodney actually shot a Wraith, you know one that he knew for sure that he shot and killed all by himself, he freaked a little too, but he got over it. He got over it and he's fine. It'll be the same for you."

"Yes, well… even when that happens we'll be dealing with more things then we could possibly handle."

"Maybe we need some help. Only I don't know that we have allies, besides maybe Larrin, that we could call for help."

Radek nods.

"I could think of one."


He doesn't want to meet like this, but she insists.

He decides to play things her way, even though Colonel Sheppard insists that Radek at least be accompanied by him.

Elizabeth says no. No one who is a double. No one who can make them feel uncomfortable.

They've heard the rumors of course. On all of the planets threatened with the plague, there has been the story of a massive ship engaging in battle with the Wraith.

Radek has no doubts as to who it is.

"I was afraid you weren't going to show up alone."

He smiles.

"It was your request."

"I didn't think you were gonna go by it."

Elizabeth smiles, enigmatic and quirky and Radek can't help but smile back at her.

"How's Atlantis?" she asks.

"Fine. We've been hit with some unexpected unpleasantness."

"I've heard."

"I guess word gets around then," Radek says.

"You've got Michael on the ropes, though."

"One could hope. But do you really want to know about Atlantis?"

"You want to get right down to business?" Elizabeth asks, eyebrow cocked as she looks at him questioningly.

"I thought that's the way you wanted it. To keep things simple."

She smiles.

"Part of me wants to keep it to just business. Honestly, I wasn't even going to answer your call despite the fact that we gave you that locator beacon to call us whenever there was an emergency."

"I understand."

"Yes, well, another part of me wants to hear all about it. All about the new things that have happened. Everything about everyone. It's selfish, considering I wouldn't even let the rest of the team come."

"It's easier this way," Radek says.

But it doesn't feel like this is easier. None of it feels easier, because he sees her and she's still Elizabeth and he knows that somewhere there are copies— Rodney and Teyla and Ronon and Sheppard— and it's supposed to be easier for everyone involved not to have to see them.

Radek still wants to beg her to come back, just like he'd done when he first realized she was there.

"We don't know if Michael is dead," she says.

She doesn't answer. Doesn't even seem to acknowledge what he's said about it being easier, but he knows that is it so for her.

"I shot him," he says.

"You shot him?"

"Yes, I'm getting better at that."

"Hmm, I suppose that's a good thing."

"We want to go after him, but we are very busy dealing with all of the people he's poisoned with this plague."

"Yes, the Hoffan drug."

"You recognized it."

"It took awhile. We don't have access to the kind of stuff that you do. And we also don't have a geneticist to sort these things out. We just can't figure out, even with the Hoffan research, how he'd come up with the drug so fast."

"He had help," Radek says.

"Really?"

"Yes, he made himself a Carson Beckett."

Her eyes widen.

"Carson?"

"Yes, he made a clone of Carson. We… we have him in stasis right now. It's not exactly a perfect process. Though it is possible that Michael made it that way so Carson would be dependent on him. Whatever the reason, Carson is not a perfect copy and he is dying. We are trying to find a cure."

Elizabeth purses her lips.

"That is quite the situation."

"As I have said."

"Well, at least the Replicators are done for."

Radek smiles.

"Yes, but we seem to be teaming up with the Wraith more and more."

Elizabeth sighs.

"It just seems to be that way. Michael… it's our fault. Thousands of people have died because of the one choice we made to test out the retrovirus."

"Never has the future of so many rested in the hands of so few," Radek mutters.

Elizabeth frowns.

"Too true. Where did you…"

"Someone we've met through our time here once told it to me. I cannot know which decisions will be the right ones and that scares me some."

"You can't tell me that you always expect certainty. You're a scientist, Radek."

Radek smiles.

"No, I mean… I am, but those decisions… they never affected a galaxy before. A galaxy. Every move I make seems to have a… a shockwave effect and I am just one man trying to decide what is right for a small group of people."

She grabs his hand and he can feel her eyes willing him to look up at her, to pay attention to what she is saying.

"And you're doing fine."

"Fine can't cut it."

"Fine is all we have, Radek. What we know, what we can do. You make a decision because it's the one that you think is right at the time and you hope and you pray that it all works out for the best. Some of them do, some of them don't. You're not alone though. You have many people behind you."

"We can't go after everyone. Michael… we're very much trying to find a solution to this plague. And then you throw Carson into the mix…"

"Why did you ask me here, Radek? I…"

She stops for a moment and Radek thinks he should say all the things that he had planned to, all the things that he had said to himself and everyone to justify contacting the Replicator team.

It dries in his mouth.

"I should be angry," she says jokingly.

"Yes, I suppose you should be."

He doesn't deny it. He can't. There were reasons, yes, but they do not exist now.

Not now that he's confronted with her.

"We can handle Michael. We have been trying, you know."

"Yes, I had figured."

"All you have to do is deal with the plague. We don't exactly have a doctor with us. At least, not one that can cure the drug. Save the galaxy, I know you have it in you."

"And Carson?"

She smiles.

"You'll find something."

He nods.

"I suppose."

They stay silent for a few moments and she's still squeezing his hand, trying to transfer some of her strength into him, he thinks, and that's why he needed to see her. It's one thing to see her on a screen, to hear her words through a recording, but it's another to hear it in person.

"You have Doctor Keller working on it. She'll come up with something."

"You would think we would have all gotten used to losing people more than once," he mutters.

She hears it and all she does is nod. She is not lost, but she is lost to them and Radek will accept that now.

He must.

"How'd you convince John not to come?"

"I set up a meeting with Larrin."

"Larrin?"

"She's an ally of ours. Colonel Sheppard… he's the only one that seems to be able to handle her in the long term."

Elizabeth smiles.

"He does seem to have a way with alien women."

"Yes, it amuses her greatly to bind and gag him."

Elizabeth's brow furrows and her mouth opens and she starts to laugh, really laugh.

"I guess I spoke too soon." 


Carson comes out a stasis exactly seven weeks after he's put into it.

Keller has a breakthrough, with Teyla's help and though no one likes to make Teyla talk about what happened during those hectic, frantic days she'd been stuck with Michael, she cannot sit idly by as Carson withers away in stasis.

Radek looks over the printouts until his eyes cross and he's dreaming about genetics. It's risky, apparently. Something to do with the tritonin drug from the SGC and a bit of wraith synthesis.

The real risk comes from Carson himself, contact with the Wraith or, god forbid, Michael and they've heard the story from Carson and Teyla about how he froze facing Michael.

Radek knows it's true.

"If we're not going to at least try it, then what the hell are we even looking for? Why the hell are we diverting manpower? Why the hell do we even give a damn if you're not really going to give a damn?" Keller screams at them one staff meeting.

She's tired, there are dark circles around her eyes. Ronon pats her arm gently, but she moves away from him, angry and embarrassed and a whole bunch of other adjectives that Radek doesn't want to examine too closely.

There are risks. Everyone's saying it. Everyone's feeling it and he knows that he and John are the only ones really appreciating it.

All Rodney sees is Carson, safe and healthy and walking around like his best friend again and Elizabeth's gone, whether really dead or fighting the resistance with the replicator team that doesn't want any contact with them.

"This is Carson," He says one night when it's just the three of them.

He's been battling back and forth with Sheppard, arguing and Radek's tired of it. He's tired of the infighting.

"You know, for someone so pessimistic, you sure don't see the risk factor when it comes to some of our own people."

"Oh, I'm sorry. I'm surprisingly human that way."

Sheppard looks ready to hit him and Rodney looks about ready to throw down too, and Radek's just so very tired.

"Stop it. Both of you," he yells.

He feels like muttering in Czech, anything at this point, but they look at him like he's crazy when he does that and he's found that it's more effective for the people who work under you not to think that you're losing it.

"I must think on this some more. Alone," he says.

They both leave, glaring at him and each other and who knows who else and he wants to tell Rodney that he's being too naïve and he wants to tell Sheppard that he's not heartless and he wants to tell Rodney that he wants it too. That he wants Carson and Elizabeth and he wants those first few years back when everything hadn't been so damn difficult.

In the end he decides to go through with it, because as much as he doesn't want to admit it, it's Carson. It's like losing a limb and then having the opportunity to grow it back and while the scientist in Radek can't abide by the sentimentality in his thinking, Radek Zelenka can.

So he prays and he prays some more and he catches Sheppard's eye when he tells them of his decision and he knows that Sheppard doesn't want to be the bad guy.

He knows that Sheppard wants it, too.

But he can't look at Sheppard too much because of the fear and the longing there. Nor can he look at Rodney, because he's too hopeful, too desperate for something to go right in this universe.

Ronon is easier. Radek knows he feels all these things, but he hides them behind a mask and tells Radek to stand straighter, bend his knees, always be on the ready for any sort of attack, even though his own arm is barely healed enough to be out of a cast.

It doesn't surprise him that Teyla is who he goes to for comfort. That much hasn't changed, even if he still doesn't know what to say to her.

He sees Teyla sitting in the chair next to Carson, murmuring Athosian bed tales to him even though he can't hear her through the pod and the minute she sees him, she smiles softly.

He's been meaning to talk with her about everything. He misses their chats, misses the way she had made everything clearer by just a few whispered words of encouragement. But they haven't talked much since she got back, since they rescued her and Carson had spent every last second he could possibly spare making sure she was safe.

Not since they had yelled at each other and she took off through the gate, a woman on a mission and Radek had just let her.

"I hope you do not…"

Teyla puts a gentle hand on his arm.

"It is alright. I understand. There are different circumstances."

Radek shakes his head because the circumstances aren't different. He'd kept her from finding the truth, even if it hadn't really been the truth. She'd believed it and that should have been enough.

"I do not think that they are," he says.

He's tired, so very tired and he doesn't like that he had to make this decision and that it might ultimately lead them astray.

"They are. I helped with this cure and I am certain that it will work just as Doctor Keller intends it to. John is just… cautious. He does not wish to get his hopes up on this."

"He's thinking straight. Like a military leader should."

"But he is also thinking like a person, like a human being. Carson's death… it rattled us all."

"I just wish that I could make it up to you," Radek says.

Teyla shakes her head and sighs.

"It is unfortunate that Kaanan is still lost to us. I wish… there are very many things that I wish had gone different, but the Athosians are safe and my son… if anything I owe you, for standing by your convictions despite our friendship. You did and have done everything in your power to help me as well as the Atlanteans in the destruction of Michael. Do not think that you are a lesser leader because of a few casualties."

He nods his head.

"I do not know if this is the right decision. I… I am afraid that I have been making lots of bad ones lately."

She smiles.

"I remember Elizabeth in crisis situations. She would show emotion. I always thought it funny. Not that a person can't have emotions, but leaders… it sounds very much like Ronon for me to say this, but… the leaders of my people have never shown any.

"Then I realized… it was her emotion that she drew strength from. That let her make those decisions, even if they were unwise. Even if they were ultimately bad. Even if they were ultimately good. She stood by them."

"I…"

"I saw you out there, when Carson was dying and I was having my son and Rodney was panicking over Major Lorne. When it was possible that everyone was dead. I saw you make the tough decisions. I saw your conviction to never leave a man behind. Just as you have done with the people of this galaxy, first when they were being tormented and killed by the thousands at the hands of the Replicators and now as they are attacked by this new plague.

"You are a leader, Radek Zelenka. Whether you know it or not does not change that fact. You are a leader."

There are tears in her eyes and Radek smiles at her. Walks over to her side and squeezes her shoulder. She places her hand over his and they stand there, two tired and bone-weary people going through another six rounds of hell.

He likes that they can all go through it together, at least.


The day Carson comes out of stasis he dies exactly two times. Almost three, but Keller and her team are there to keep it from happening. They all take turns sitting in the infirmary, worried and harried looks on their faces and Rodney even holds Carson's hand at one point.

He mutters something that Radek can't hear, but he can see it in Rodney's eyes. Don't die, they say, stay because you're my friend and I can't go through this a second time and you can't do this to me a second time. Sheppard brings him coffee and smiles and Rodney smiles back.

Radek thinks he'll never get their relationship. How they can blow up at each other and then forget it. How Rodney can be so bad with other people and he reads Sheppard like a book, gets that when Sheppard brings him coffee and smiles it means I was just doing my job, it's not that I don't want Carson, but there are risks that I have to keep you and everyone safe from.

But it works and Sheppard clears his throat and takes the seat next to Rodney and watches the beeping monitor for any change.

Carson wakes up exactly three days after the second time he dies. He'd been in a coma, heavily monitored with Ancient and Earth tech and everyone waiting with bated breath for any change, any sign. Keller looks happier and happier with each test result until she says yes, and allows herself to sleep.

"We are glad that you are okay," Teyla says, forehead bending against Carson's, even though he's sitting uncomfortably in the hospital bed.

Carson smiles shyly.

"It was mostly all Jennifer," He says.

Keller shakes her head.

"All in a days work."

"No, thank you. I… well, I quite literally owe you my life."

"Think nothing of it."

"If there's anything…"

She puts up her hand to keep him from talking, lips pursed and Radek watches as she shakes her head again.

"You can do one thing for me. This may sound… no, you know what, I don't care. Take you're job back, because this job… it fucking sucks."

Rodney's eyes widen and Radek can see it. He can see it in her eyes and how they're sunken in and the way her hair is greasy and tied back in a ponytail and he thinks about himself, he thinks about Replicator Elizabeth and how he'd begged her to come back and take the job, to make it all better again.

Carson is alive and he's relatively healthy and they've all gotten past the clone thing a few Hiveships ago. It's Carson, for better or worse and this has been their decision. This has been their path and if Keller doesn't want it, Radek can understand.

"I don't know. I mean it's a nice offer."

"It's not an offer. I'm not… I know my own skills. I know myself and while I'm grateful for this job and I love Atlantis… I couldn't do this all the time. Not like you. You were made for this job. It's yours."

Just like Rodney's is chief scientist and no one could replace Sheppard as military commander and Radek knows what she means.

"Sure, he can have his job back," Sheppard says.

Carson sputters a bit and everyone looks encouragingly and he wonders how long it will take because Carson realizes that the clone thing doesn't matter to them.

"We just have to clear it with the IOA first."


Radek puts on his best suit.

It's worn and outdated, but it's still his best and he brushes his hair as best as he can, clean and flat on his head even if it curls ridiculously behind his ears.

He and Rodney and Sheppard are set to walk through the gate any moment now. Chuck is supposed to radio them when the wormhole has been dialed and Radek takes a few deep breaths.

They can get through this, he thinks. They've gotten through IOA inquisitions before, with Teyla and Ronon, and Radek had nearly had a heart attack with Ronon. But this time it's different.

This time it's Carson and it's a copy and it's the Wraith and his job on the line.

He doesn't know what he'll say to them to make them believe him. He knows Rodney has note cards, but he's hoping that the fact that they elected him in the first place will still hold some weight.

Carson is still insisting that they don't need to do this, that they don't need to fight for him to be there Chief of Medicine. But Radek tells him, no, this is what they all want.

This is what they all need.

And he doesn't think that this is all that this latest inquisition is about anyway.

"You ready?"

He turns to see Ronon in the doorway and he wonders if that's strategy on the part of Rodney and Sheppard, or if Ronon had just been right there in the control room, watching him fuss over himself.

Radek takes another deep breath and shakes his head.

"No, I don't think I am."

"You're gonna be fine."

"I don't know that I am."

"If you don't believe that you are, then they're not gonna believe that you are."

"Mind over impossible circumstances then," Radek mutters.

"You're a good leader."

Radek purses his lips.

"I don't…"

"You are, okay? And it's getting a little old to have to tell you that."

Radek frowns.

"I just…"

"You're not Doctor Weir, okay. I'll give that. But, from what I know, she signed on for this job. You didn't. They just… gave it to you and expected you to be able to do it."

Radek straightens and Ronon is looking right at him, eyes not letting him look elsewhere.

"And you did it better than you think you did."

Radek opens his mouth to speak, but he can't quite form the words, doesn't know what you say to something like that.

He's saved the embarrassment of trying by Chuck.

"Doctor Zelenka, we're just about ready to dial the gate. Are you ready to go?"

It's on the tip of his tongue to say it, to say no, he is no way ready for this.

But Ronon's still looking at him with such intensity and intent and he can't say no, the words die in his mouth. He nods his head for several seconds before remembering Chuck can't actually see him.

"Yes, I am."


"Sometimes… sometimes your people will do things that make you want to pull your hair out, but you've got to remember…"

"Elizabeth?"

Radek watches as she sighs and rubs her forehead. Rodney appears on the screen, harried and tired. He's wringing his hands and he looks completely nervous.

"Yes, Rodney?"

"I just… I wanted to thank you. For helping out Nola and her people. For… well for cleaning up my mistake I guess."

"That's very big of you, Rodney."

"I know, I'm trying this new thing. It's… anyway, thanks. I know I didn't… it's weird because part of my brain still thinks of it as a game, but I know… I know it's not."

"I suppose that is a bit… unsettling."

"Yeah, it is. Because I didn't know that I was effecting a whole… people, you know. But still I mean if that's the way I deal…"

"It's different, Rodney."

"Really, because you're the one that was saying they're not my people and that we're not qualified to make those kinds of decisions," Rodney says.

Radek frowns. He knows this. This is from right after the whole game incident, with the nations on the brink of war.

He remembers Elizabeth telling him that. Remembers feeling utterly ashamed for the way he and Lorne had been acting, for giving in to the pull of the power.

He'd forgotten and now here he is, trying to ruin the city of Atlantis.

He thinks the IOA must not have read this mission report.

"Did Doctor Zelenka tell you that?"

"No, Lorne. Well actually Lorne told Sheppard because he thought you were going to tell Sheppard and he was going to get into trouble because of it, so I guess he wanted to head it off at the pass or something. I'm kind of hazy on the details, but apparently that's what you said. And I think… I think you're right."

"Rodney."

"No, seriously, I have terrible leadership skills."

"Your leadership skills are fine."

"Why are you trying to make me feel better about this?"

Elizabeth sighs and she looks like she doesn't want to explain this, but Radek's on the edge of his seat waiting to hear what she has to say.

"Because… because I would really love to lay into you, into John and Major Lorne and Doctor Zelenka about the abuse of power and the responsibility that comes with it, but, at the end of the day, I know I don't have to."

"Why?"

"Because, Rodney, you run your own departments. You're the head of the science division. Radek has his own department. He practically runs the day-to-day. Lorne handles all the day-to-day for John and the military and you cannot tell me that John isn't a very capable military commander. I wouldn't have stood up for him if I didn't think so.

"If you're asking me do I think the four of you are capable of running separate countries against each other, then the answer is no, because you'd go power hungry within a day, always trying to one up each other, because that's your nature. That's human nature."

She takes a deep breath and the Rodney on screen is just as transfixed as Radek is, hanging on Elizabeth's every word, absorbing it all to keep and remember for later.

"But, thankfully, I won't have to deal with that, because you all come as a package. Together… together you work very efficiently. Yes, you were bad and yes the decisions you made ultimately led to bad things, but… you can't…you can't let that effect the way you think about your position now."

"How…"

"Because I am a smart woman, Rodney. I knew."

"I just… the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it didn't look good for me. That I probably didn't look good… in your eyes."

She smiles.

"You look fine, Rodney. You'll still look fine. You fixed it."

"No, you fixed it. Sheppard fixed it. I tried, but…"

"No one every said you were good at the diplomatic side of things. John's way of doing things was completely military. Showing them the error of their ways. You think like a scientist, Rodney. That's why you have the job that you have."

"So I'm never gonna be leader of Atlantis?"

"I should hope that I'll still have this job for as long as possible."

"Hmm, either till you die or until Atlantis is no more."

She gives him an odd look, but nods.

"Something like that."

"Well, I suppose that's for the best. You're really the best leader for Atlantis anyway."

"Thank you, Rodney."

"And I'd rather let you deal with the diplomatic stuff. You're good at it."

Radek watches as they make some more small talk, Rodney informing her about a few things Radek's sure she already knows, but Rodney wants her to know about anyway. After a few minutes, he fiddles with his radio and gives her a short wave before leaving.

Elizabeth smiles.

"And sometimes they remind you why you chose them for this job."


"Now, remember, we've got to be united here, because they're gonna pick any little thing to trip us up. If we don't look like we all agree on this then they're gonna use that against us."

He's pacing around the boardroom, the boardroom they were shuffled into after walking through the gate, General Landry giving a curt response to their hellos.

"Rodney."

"No, look, I know you have your reservations. And Radek you haven't exactly voiced much of an opinion and that's fine. I mean you're the one that okayed the treatment in the first place, but we're gonna have to be together on this."

"Rodney."

"John."

They stare at each other a bit challengingly and Radek sighs.

"We are not here because of that, Rodney." He says.

Rodney frowns.

"What…"

"Well, we are, sort of I guess. But mostly we are here so that the IOA may berate my every decision in person. The whole thing with Carson is just a way to justify it."

Sheppard looks everywhere but at Radek and Radek knows that he knows, that he's known since they called up the SGC for the weekly check in and had said, surprise, we all almost got blown up and we've acquired a Carson Beckett.

It's nice to know that he isn't the only one prepared for this.

"But… that's ridiculous."

"Yeah, well these things so often are." Sheppard says.

"They've already given you the approval. They've already said that they agree with all your decisions. Hell, they could've given you crap for the whole Replicator copies thing and they didn't. Why now?"

"Because of the plague. Because of Michael. Because we made Michael and now he's wrecking havoc and that's not what we're there to stop."

"Using the retrovirus on Michael wasn't even your decision."

But that's not completely true. They're all so very guilty for Michael. For Michael and the Replicators and Rodney has to see that.

"It doesn't matter. This is the IOA."

Rodney sighs.

"Oh right."

They're silent for a few minutes before Rodney clears his throat.

"Well that's crap." He says.

"That's the IOA." Sheppard says.

"I don't care if it's the IOA. They're not… they're not living it. What do they know?"

"That's what makes them so dangerous. They don't know. They don't know and the President has appointed them the decision makers, so… we play kiss ass." Sheppard grumbles.

"Well that's… that's stupid."

"Very eloquent Rodney."

"Well it is."

"Rodney."

"Look, Radek… we stand by you." Rodney says.

Radek frowns.

"I…"

"Look, you've done a great job. Better than John or I could've done and don't ever think I'll say that again. I am a leader, but you're our leader and if the IOA thinks that they can take that away and put in their own flunky, they've got another thing coming." 

He doesn't know that to say to that. Rodney has had that angry, planning look on his face that Radek has come to know well. He's been planning since they got Carson out of stasis, planning what to say and he's probably going to yell and scream until his face turns red and the IOA has to listen to him because he's the loudest of the bunch.

And now all that energy is focused on Radek, on making sure that they don't take away Radek's job.

It's intense to say the least.

"They will rake my decisions over the coals. They will take every action I've made, that we've all made whether I was the one that made it or not and they will find fault. Elizabeth spoke of it many times."

"And we always backed her up. She would still be the leader if…"

They all don't like to think about the Replicator team and what they could be doing. They answered that one call and now they won't answer any more. Radek knows that they won't. They're fighting against Michael and they could die and Atlantis would never know.

They wanted it that way, they all did because it was easier and Radek's talked to both Elizabeth and Carson. He knows a little of what they feel like and he thinks he understands where they're coming from.

"But she's not."

His voice doesn't even crack that much.

"You are. You are and you're good and no matter what they say… we know the truth. And we'll stick by the truth."

Sheppard nods, face firm and he nods. Rodney's fists clench and unclench and he looks battle ready, tense and ready to strike. Radek doesn't know what to say, what to think.

They wait like that in the board room of the SGC, where this whole adventure had started for Radek for a few more minutes before General Landry comes in, the same members of the IOA that had asked him to take on the role of leader with him coming in behind him.

They sit almost in unisons.

And then the questioning starts.

Things that Radek can answer, things that he can't, every little detail of the past year or so and he wonders if they are just going through the motions and have already decided to make him step down as leader.

He doesn't ask though, just continues to answer.

He's not sure how long he answers for, Rodney offering detailed descriptions of events past and Sheppard adding a few tidbits of usefulness.

They don't seem appeased.

"You let this… Replicator team get away. After all it took to get rid of the Replicators." The Chinese ambassador says.

"Yes, but they are our allies. They are assisting us in the fight against Michael." Radek says.

"And you do not think that they will turn around and create a new species of Replicators?" She asks.

"No, I think they are trustworthy. I think that all the information that Doctor Keller has provided proves this."

"Just because they won't attack?"

"Because they can't. Because they have been helping us. Because there are bigger fish to fry than them."

"Like this Wraith Michael."

"Exactly."

"Who is still a threat and yet you let one of his copies, a man who could not fight against him, stay. You let him stay in the city and you heal him and you want him to be the Chief of Medicine."

He had known this was coming. The IOA would not let their smokescreen go without any words. Of course they were going to talk about Carson, of course they were going to bring him up.

He's prepared for this as well.

"Carson is still Carson. We're still looking for a way to make it so that he doesn't have the inability to resist Michael." Radek says.

"But he can't now, though. And you think that it would still be a good idea to have him as the Chief of Medicine?"

Radek sighs and he doesn't know what to say to convince them, to make them see.

"You may not approve and while your okay is what is needed for Doctor Beckett to get his job back and for me to keep mine, I would like you to consider that Carson is someone with intimate knowledge of what Michael is doing, what he's done. He knows the Hoffan drug better than anyone. He's the best. And the Atlantis expedition wants nothing but the best." Radek says.

"And you think that's you?" Mr. Woolsey asks.

He's remained almost silent throughout the whole ordeal, asking follow up questions and making notes in his notebook. The Chinese and Russian ambassadors have been raising most of the heat.

Mister Woolsey looks at him pointedly, pencil tapping on the desk and the question hangs thick in the air.

"He is." Rodney says snappishly.

"I wasn't asking you, Doctor McKay, though your input is helpful. I was asking Doctor Zelenka."

"You should ask us all. You should ask me and Colonel Sheppard. The people of Atlantis. We'll tell you." Rodney says.

"But I'm not asking them. I'm asking Doctor Zelenka."

"You're asking the wrong question." Sheppard says.

"I'm asking the only question that is valuable to me at the moment. I want to know if Doctor Zelenka feels that he is the most qualified man to run Atlantis."

They look at him, eyes wide as though they're hanging on his answer, ready to chew it up and spit it out in seconds. He can feel Rodney fidgeting nervously next to him and Sheppard sitting stock still in his chair.

He isn't prepared for this.

"I… I often ask that question myself. I honestly do not know why you, The IOA chose me in the first place. Why, out of the many applicants, you choose me. Some people say it is because… because you thought I would be easily influenced by the IOA. Because I was actually qualified. I do not know."

He takes a breath.

"I do not know if I am the best. I do not feel as though I am most days. Because there is one person… the best person and you belittled her decisions.

"I am not Elizabeth Weir. I am not the President. I am not whoever is the acting head of the IOA. I am just a man, a scientist has helped turn the tides of war. Who has seen countless others die in battlefields, scientists and soldiers alike. Who has made decisions and done it with Atlantis in mind.

"They haven't always been the best. There are decisions I've made that seemed good at the time and have turned out not to be that way. And there are decisions I've made that I hadn't been too sure of, but made them anyway and they turned out to be the best for all of Atlantis."

"I have taken a while to get used to it, but now I know that… I can do this job. I have been doing this job and I want to do this job."

"That doesn't really answer the question of whether or not you think you are the best man for the job," Mr. Woolsey says.

"Yeah, I think it does," Sheppard says.

Radek looks over at him, eyes wide and it looks like he's going to actually say something profound and maybe even a little emotional.

"I don't think there is anyone who is perfect for the job. There are a lot of people who seem to think they could do it better, but you don't know. You don't know until you're faced with it. Till you're staring at a Wraith and you're making the tough decisions.

"Radek's done that and he's done the best job he could do and I think… I think of all the people who want this job, he's the best for it," Sheppard says.

Radek smiles.

"Yes, I suppose that is what I mean," Radek says.

Mister Woolsey takes a deep breath, hand writing furiously at on his notebook and he shares a few looks with the other two members before they nod.

It's kind of creepy how they do that.

"Then I guess that's all we have to ask. If you don't mind, me and my colleagues are going to further discuss this matter in private. We will get back to you with our decision."

They get up in unison and leave.

"Well, I guess that went well," Rodney says with a frown on his face.

Radek can't tell if he's being sarcastic or if he's just worried that if he says it out loud then it won't be true.

"We did all we could. It's up to them if they want to listen," Sheppard says.

"I hope it's enough," Radek says.

"It is," Sheppard says.

"It has to be."



They're staring at him.

All of Atlantis. Every man and woman, scientist and military, crowded on the steps and the control room, in the adjacent halls and right in there in the gate room, right in front of the gate.

Teyla, with her son in her arms and Ronon on one side, determined looking and sure. Major Lorne stands to her other side, crutches supporting most of his weight and he's still got a noticeable gash on his face, and he looks nervous and anticipatory.

And there's Carson in his normal Carson clothes and he looks eager, but he's wringing his hands and biting his lip. Doctor Keller is standing right next to him looking just as eager and worried.

These, these are his people.

And then, Colonel Sheppard is swinging an arm around Radek's shoulders and he feels so stiff, but the gesture is welcome.

"I guess we're stuck with the pigeon guy for a little while longer."

He's not ready for the explosion that brings. He's not ready for the way everyone in Atlantis seems to celebrate it all at once.

And then there are drinks and slaps on the back and congratulations and flurry that they all get caught up with.

Home, Radek thinks. This is home.


"Oh… Radek. Is there anything I can help you with?"

He watches himself smile nervously, watches as he holds his reports close to his chest and scurries over to Elizabeth's desk. She's smiling indulgently at him, bemused and he hasn't forgotten how beautiful she is. It's not something one forgets, even with time and death and copies.

He remembers the curve of her lips, the way her hair curled. He remembers.

"Yes, yes, we… we've come up with some interesting test results on the power fluctuations that I thought might interest you."

"Did you run through them with Rodney?"

It's important to her, Radek thinks. Important to make sure that everyone is involved. Rodney had been the boss, his okay had been needed for almost everything before she'd even considered it and Radek gets it now. Gets what it's like to have to appease Rodney and compromise with Sheppard. He gets what it's like to walk that tightrope that means he's making independent nations happy.

She hadn't gotten enough credit for it.

"Of course. He looked that over and he agrees, but he's late for his off world mission. Had to get himself ready."

It's the half truth, Radek remembers. He remembers pushing it under Rodney's nose twice, once during breakfast and Radek had had to print out another form because Rodney had gotten food all over it and the second time right before Rodney had left. Sort of a 'hey, this is what's going on' type of thing. The way Radek had gotten things done when he had known Rodney hadn't wanted to deal with the bureaucracy anyway. 

Rodney's good at a lot of things, a genius by anyone's standards and Radek knows this, even if he doesn't always feed the ego. He knows Rodney and he knows what Rodney's capable of.

He thinks of nuclear reactors and everyone safe and Rodney's ears ringing as he practically hauls Major Lorne through the wreckage, this will not defeat me written all over his face. He knows.

And he also knows that Rodney trusts him. Has trusted him from the moment Radek had stepped up and taken his place as second in command and Rodney hadn't even questioned it. Had said that Radek had been the next smartest, the next logical solution.

Radek does not forget this. He does not forget the way Rodney had handed off half the personnel files and told him that Radek would have to be the one monitoring the idiots and it would only be fair for him to choose half. Rodney fills out the staff evaluations, he pisses and he moans and he belittles intelligence and inspires odd adoration and respect from the troops.

He is a boss, yes, but with a very unique style that only works for him.

And Radek knows.

"Fair enough. So we're looking at extra power."

"Very much so, if we push as far as the calculations allow. There's a margin for error of course."

"There always is."

"But the results are very promising."

"Excellent work then."

"We try."

"You and your troops," she says jokingly.

They'd all been her troops though, even if she hadn't realized it.

They're Radek's now. It makes him less twitchy then it had before, when this all started.

"It is Rodney's department. It's all Rodney's department."

"Yes, but you run the day to day. Rodney assigns and you delegate."

"Rodney is busy saving the galaxy. He is allowed certain… leeways."

"You wouldn't want it then. You wouldn't want his job."

He can't remember all of what he'd been thinking in that moment. He wonders if, had he known it was being saved for posterity, he would have thought about it longer, harder. If, knowing the position he's in now, he would have given a different answer.

"Rodney leads. I would not be so good."

Because he'd had his own department, but that's because Rodney had allowed it. Had given him leeway where other bosses would have told him he'd been out of his mind for diverting manpower to his side projects.

They'd been his, though, and he's not ashamed to admit that he'd taken advantage of Rodney's odd generosity. Rodney never let anyone else have their own subdivision. Radek hadn't evaluated it that closely, glad that he could have the freedom for such an excursion without having to deal with the lion's share of the paperwork.

He's not sure how he feels about it now, knowing he's got a city in his hands.

Elizabeth on screen smiles, wide and bright and Radek remembers that, sees himself get flustered even more and she tilts back in her chair.

"I think you would have made a fine leader."

He sees the him on screen open his mouth, but then the film stops, abrupt and he's staring at snow for a few ticking seconds before there's Rodney, big and nervous looking, wringing his hands and his lips are set in a determined line.

"If you're here then you've seen it all and, if you haven't figured it out by now… as much as I wanted the job, as much as I thought I could lead Atlantis, and sometimes I still think I could have, you know. You as head of sciences and John as head of military. We would have made a great trio. Maybe not as… well you get the picture."

Rodney straightens up and clears his throat.

"As much as I would have liked it and as ideal as it sounds… she wanted you to have it. She always… she saw something in you. Maybe it's something in your background, I don't know. I never bothered to look beyond that fact that you're a brilliant scientist with almost as many degrees and commendations as I have.

"But she had this odd notion that, if forced, she would have liked nothing better than for you to be her replacement. You know, ideally or whatever because you know with the military and how bullheaded they are, nothing like that can happen unless it's ideally."

He snorts and shakes his head and then he looks straight into the camera, blue eyes piercing Radek with a stare that could almost be frightening if thought about too closely.

"I guess we live in a bit of an ideal world then, eh."

The screen fades, nothing but snow.


It's quiet.

The night lingers just outside his window and he's finally learned how to open the windows in his office. He's happy about that because the air is crisp, cool and nothing like the biting chill of Prague, the forever shadow of gloom and overcast.

The staff is skeleton, bare and he nods his head at Chuck before turning back to his windows. They can turn opaque without the gene, there's a setting on the wall and Radek spares one last glance to the control room, to the stillness that usually never is, before he presses it.

They will radio him if he's needed. They always do.

He clears his throat and turns back to the objective at hand. It's the most uncomplicated piece of technology he's dealt with today, but it still makes his hands shake, makes him nervous and jittery and feel like he's not in control of anything or anyone.

It's not true. He runs a whole city and he's just starting to settle into that.

He presses the radio button and moves away. He feels awkward. He's known this is a long time coming, that he's put it off for far too long and he knows that it's not mandatory, but it feels like it. It feels like he must and Radek gets posterity.

So he moves back and sits like he had decided. He'd debated with himself for a good four minutes before deciding that standing would just be awkward, unreal and sitting feels genuine, feels like he knows what he's doing.

He looks down at his hands once and takes a deep breath, and he can do this, he knows he can, it's just a matter of those first few words, getting them out and making sure that don't sound weak, like it doesn't sound like he doesn't know what the hell he's doing.

He doesn't, most days, but that's half the adventure.

"This is Doctor Radek Zelenka and I am the leader of the Atlantis expedition."

The End
Notes
This fic is my Everest and not because it's 70,000+ words of Gen. I was completely sure that no one would want to read it and that it was going to be complete and utter crap and who cares that much about Radek Zelenka to want to read a fic about him being the leader of Atlantis. And then people were like, yeah, I would and I started writing and I didn't ever want to stop.

And here's where I blame... I mean THANK everyone.

1. Danielle: okay seriously, I would never have written this if it hadn't been for you going 'OMG that fic would be the shit and now you have to write it because I said!'

2. The Beta team: rilestar, thank you for not strangling me over my weird aversion to commas. el_gilliath, thank you for sending me that last minute email about what you thought about this fic because that really gave me the boost I needed to not think this fic was complete crap.

3. seikaitsukimizu: For all the random 'You can do it!' IMs. Without even reading any of this because I'm oddly protective.

4. Gateworld/My Season Four DVDs: Because I totally completely admit that there's some dialogue in this fic that's kind of been lifted (but mostly rewritten to say almost the exact same thing, but in different words) from various episodes with that sites help.

5. Martin Gero: because, um, every time there was a piece of this fic I wasn't sure about, I had his voice in my head saying 'No, that's not how that should happen! It should happen like this!'