Notes: I wrote this SGA story a little while ago, then forgot about it. It's set in early season 1, between “38 Minutes” and “Suspicion”, before the Athosians leave Atlantis for the mainland. So Ford, Grodin and Bates show up here (I gave Bates the first name of Kyle), and I'm assuming that “Sgt. Canada”, aka Chuck Campbell came in with the original Expedition, since we first saw him in “The Brotherhood”.
I really didn't think Bates is the ogre that Sheppard and the others make him out to be. He did have legit concerns, and being paranoid was part of his job. This story focuses on an unlikely set of connections [Chuck, Bates and Halling, though you don't really see Halling in the story.]
Please R&R. This is a change from my usual style of writing. Thanks.
He really didn't mind the graveyard shift. Most nights, it was only him and one other person in the Control Room. Sometimes it was Doctor Peter Grodin; other times, Doctor Elizabeth Weir was working late in her office. He kept a close eye on her; as far as he was concerned, she worked too much. He and Grodin would glance at each other and make a run to the Commissary for coffee and snacks. Doctor Weir appreciated the thoughtfulness with a smile. Sometimes, it reached her eyes. Other times, it didn't.
Tonight, Grodin and Radek Zelenka are arguing over some Ancient device or another. He listens with only half his attention. What he knows about astrophysics he can stick in a breadbox with enough room to spare, but that doesn't stop him from noting every nuance of their voices, the different accents, the unbridled energy of the Czech as opposed to the calm Englishman.
“It wouldn't work, Radek. Just the power consumption alone---”
“It will work, Peter. If we divert the secondary flow, here and here---”
Unknown to the two scientists, Sergeant Kyle Bates leans casually in the doorway. Bates isn't well-liked on Atlantis; he is as tough and uncompromising as the late, lamented Colonel Marshall Sumner had been. The sergeant has the unpleasant task of informing Major Sheppard of the possible consequences of their actions, ones Sheppard doesn't like hearing. It is both necessary and enlightening, but Bates is frustrated that his concerns aren't taken seriously.
Chuck can sympathize with him at times. Tonight, Bates raises his eyebrows and he gives him a slow nod.
“I'm taking a break, Doctor Grodin. Do you or Doctor Zelenka need anything?”
“No, lad, I'm fine. Grodin glances at Zelenka, who shakes his head. “Thanks, Sergeant.”
He nods and leaves the scientists to their argument. When he and Bates are out of earshot, he asks Bates, “All ready, sir?”
A rare smile cracks Bates's face. In fact, it's not common knowledge that Bates can smile at times, and no, the Head of Security doesn't grow fangs, or sharpens them to a point. “All ready. I've seen the members of the Expedition sniping at each other again.”
“Stress from the Wraith and being so far from home.”
“Yes.” A shadow passes over the sergeant's features. “We can't allow this to continue at this level. It'll compromise our effectiveness and our security.”
Chuck only hides a chuckle. Of course, those are the only things Bates concerns himself with. “You're right, as usual, Sarge.”
Bates rolls his eyes at the informal truncation of his rank. “Let's get this over with. This was all your idea.”
“But you agreed to it. If you had a problem with it, you'd objected to it right away.”
He cleared his throat. “Just don't let this slip out. I got a reputation to protect.”
“You got it, Sarge. I won't tell a soul.”
The shadow makes its way to the Science labs. He stops by one in particular, its lights blazing like a bight sun. A hunched figure sits in front of his laptop, scowling at the results. A coffee cup next to him has long grown cold. Suddenly, the man jerks awake and spins around in surprise.
“Hello? Anyone there?” The corridor is empty, but the lights catch a gleam off a shiny bundle. To his surprise, it's a tightly compact box of Powerbars: the chocolate kind, the ones that are rapidly becoming a trade commodity among the Expedition members. The attached note reads simply: Thank you for all you do for us and Atlantis, Doctor McKay.
Rodney McKay gazes down the corridor in openmouthed shock. For once, he can think of nothing to say.
The shadow smiles to himself. It's a simple gift. Granted, it's not a Zed-Pee-Em (and it's zed, thank you very much), but sometimes, simple is best.
The next stop: the gymnasium.
Teyla stands in the middle of the room, eyes closed, breathing slow and calm. She holds her bantos rods with a relaxed grip. Gathering her energy, she launches into a routine: deliberate at first, then faster and faster. The rods slice the air and strike down an invisible foe. For Teyla, victory is one goal, but not the only one.
Even now, she can't tell how she feels the presence. It's just there in her consciousness. She timed it so that, at the end of her dance, her rods end up at the intruder's throat.
But the intruder is not there. She blinks in surprise and listens to the silence. Her brow wrinkles with confusion, then she catches the glow of dim light on wood. Teyla bends over the object on the floor near the door and picks it up. Not it...them.
Her second pair of bantos rods, the ones which had belonged to her mother. One of the sticks had been cracked during a vicious fight with a Wraith. She had meant to repair it, but someone has already done it for her. She runs her finger over the crack. It's no longer there, the glue nearly invisible, the surface sanded smooth, the varnish nearly perfect. Her heart fills with wondrous gratitude.
One of her people? One of the Atlanteans? If she knew who it had been, she would offer her heartfelt thanks. Instead, she bowd her head and imagines herself pressing her forehead against her benefactor's.
“Thank you,” she whispers.
That unseen benefactor nods in reply, then silently leaves.
“Bloody hell.” Carson Beckett scowls at the empty box of tea. “I swear, I've got to find a better place to hide this from the nurses...” He sighs and shakes his head. A cuppa shared is a heart shared, his mother used to say. He only shakes his head and reaches for a cup of lukewarm coffee instead. How can Rodney drink pot after pot of this? Carson chuckles as he answers his own question: because he can, and he will, no matter what his doctor says.
And if Carson knows Rodney, the scientist is also up late, analyzing some Ancient tech or fussing over one of his experiments. Carson sighs and shuts his own laptop. It was fair time that he---and Rodney, too---were asleep.
A noise from the main infirmary startles him. Then, “Doctor Beckett?”
Carson enters the treatment area to see a young man there. His sharp eyes immediately notices the wince as the man holds his hand. Carson frowns as he recognizes him. “Sergeant...Campbell, is it?”
“Yeah, Doc. Chuck Campbell. I work---”
“--in the Control Room, on Peter's shift, as I remember. Aye, then, what did you do to your hand, son?”
Chuck sighs and uncovers his hand. “Sorry to disturb you, Doc. I got a splinter in my palm.”
“No need to apologize. Let me see.” Carson gives Chuck's hand the once-over and clucks his tongue. “Och, that's quite the splinter. You were prudent to come see me before it got infected. Stay right there and I'll fix you up, right as rain.”
Carson goes to the equipment cabinet for a pair of tweezers, peroxide and a sterile bandage. It takes him a few moments, for the supply of bandages is low (though Teyla's people have their own sterile dressings, and had promised to give him some for the Infirmary), but he snags one that will do. He returns to find Chuck pretty much where he should be, and proceeds to remove the splinter. Carson keeps up the reassuring patter to distract Chuck from his pain.
“How on earth did you get a splinter in your hand, lad?”
Chuck winces. “Dunno. I was checking some circuits in the control room, then I felt something sharp. Doctor Grodin practically threw me out and told me to come here, and not show my face till I did.”
“Peter's right. A wise one, he is, and very protective of his control room crew.” Carson applied the bandage. “There we go.”
Chuck flexed his fingers. “Thanks, Doctor Beckett.”
“You're welcome. Come see me if you have any other problems, all right?”
After Chuck leaves, Carson goes back into his office and takes off his white lab coat. An object on his desk catches his attention and his jaw drops in shock. A neat wooden box, carved in Athosian style, with several rolls of bandages nestled inside, and a pouch of loose spice tea, the kind that Teyla favors. A wide grin splits his face as he shakes his head in bemused wonder.
“Are you sure it wasn't Chuck?” Sheppard asks as he leans back in his chair. The team, plus Beckett and Zelenka, has gathered in the Commissary for breakfast. “He could have slipped it into your office when your back was turned.”
Carson shakes his head. “I was gone only a few moments. He wouldn't have had time to do that and get back into the main room without me noticing. Besides, I asked him already, and he denies anything to do with it.”
“He was on duty in the control room last night, but was gone for about twenty minutes,” Radek Zelenka points out. “He could have left the power bars for Rodney, the bantos rods for Teyla, the tea and bandages for Carson---”
Teyla shakes her head. “No one knew of my sticks being damaged, except for Halling, and he swears he was in his room all of last night.”
Rodney scowls and points at his laptop screen. The others crowd around as he pulls up some security footage from the previous night. “I've already looked at he video feeds. Nothing at all. If it was someone in the Expedition, they'd have to be really skilled at manipulating security protocols.”
“Bates?” Sheppard sounds incredulous. “He wouldn't do anything like that.”
“Then we have some kind of fairy godmother,” Aiden Ford muses, “that knows exactly what we need.” The young lieutenant waves his fork in the air for emphasis.
Rodney snorts. “Fairy godmother. Please.”
Aiden rolls his eyes and counters, “Okay, then you explain it.”
“Obviously, there's a rational explanation for all this---”
Sergeant Chuck Campbell listens to the discussion with a secret smile. He glances over at Sergeant Bates, who sits at his usual table, facing the Commissary exit with his back against the wall. Bates only smiles thinly at him in response, then returns his attention to the Pegasus version of scrambled eggs.
Chuck taps on his tablet and brings up a list on the screen. He makes a mental note to talk to Halling about some Athosian delicacies that Doctor Weir seems fond of and to make a copy of the latest World Cup final for Doctor Grodin.
Yes, it was a good thing to have connections, even this far from home, to acquire the simple things.