?

Log in

Previous Entry | Next Entry

SGA Fic: I, Rodney 1/5

Title: I, Rodney

Rating: I'd guess PG-13 for some swearing, violence.

Spoilers: Specific for season 1, general for McKay and Mrs. Miller (if you know who Mrs. Miller is, you're golden).

Summary: A season-1 AU where Rodney is a robot. Gen.

A/N: If you have been reading along with my drafts, you won't find any dramatic changes; the epilogue has been added to part 5.
A/N 2: Thanks to Wihluta for beta and un-sticking help, and to my Regular Readers for cheerleading the draft.



“I’m not sure you and Dr. McKay should both be on the same offworld team, now that you’re the military head of Atlantis,” Dr. Weir said. “We’ll putting all our eggs in one basket, so to speak.”

Funny, John had expected that including the Athosian woman, Teyla, on his team would be the controversial choice. He glanced over at McKay. “It’s not like anything’s going to happen to him,” John pointed out. “He’s the only one here who’s immune to the Wraith.”

“I can still be shot,” the robot pointed out. “Or blown up, or disassembled, or--”

“Anyway,” John said over him, “we’ll be going to the most interesting planets, so it’s only natural that the head of sciences should be with us.”

Changing course on a dime, McKay said, “Of course, that could happen no matter whose team I’m on, and as the most valuable member of the expedition, I should be protected by our best military personnel.

I suppose that’s you,” he added doubtfully.

“Hey!”

“Unless they put you in charge because you’re always the only one to walk away alive,” McKay added, and pulled his laptop toward him. With a few keystrokes, he pulled up what John recognized as his own personnel file. “Huh,” he said, glancing over it. “No, I think it’ll be all right. Major Sheppard can take me to planets with the good technology.”

And, to John’s intense irritation, that was evidently that.

#

“Here, try some of this.”

Teyla delicately plucked a kernel of popcorn from the bowl and put it in her mouth. “Most…unusual.

But will only four of us be able to eat such a large portion?” She gestured toward the large bowl.

“It’s mostly air,” John assured her. “OK, let’s put the tape in.”

“Should we not wait for Dr. McKay?” Teyla asked.

John had wondered why she said there were four of them. “McKay?”

“Is he not coming? You had said that this was a team gathering.”

He’d only said that because Teyla had seemed reluctant to accept the invitation to his quarters, and then
he’d had to ask Ford to join them. It hadn’t even occurred to him to invite McKay.

“McKay’s not really…didn’t we explain the whole robot thing?” He knew they had; she’d seen McKay plug himself into the puddlejumper.

“Yes.” She frowned. “I mentioned your invitation this evening at dinner. I would not have done so if I had known that Rodney was not included.”

“He’s a robot, Teyla, he doesn’t care.” He cued up the recording. “Now, this is really good. Watch.”

#

Rodney was not a computer. He didn’t have perfect recall of everything that had ever happened to him, and his memories of his first few months, when his brain was reorganizing almost every day, were especially foggy.

But he was fairly sure that his earliest memory was of the day with the blocks. It was one of the days that Dr. Ingram brought his daughter to the lab—later, Rodney suspected that his wife probably thought he was spending quality time with her, rather than using her as a tiny, unpaid lab assistant.
But that was later, and at the time, he’d only noticed that Jeannie, unlike the real lab assistants, didn’t know enough to keep out of his way. He’d been building a tower, the tallest ever, 48 blocks, and was about to add the 49th—one of his favorite numbers, the square of a prime—but the girl snatched the 49th block out of his hand and knocked down the tower, laughing.

Screaming—he hadn’t been able to talk yet then—he snatched a block up off the floor and threw it at her. Dr. Ingram said something, and pulled Jeannie away, but Rodney didn’t notice, because the block hadn’t behaved the way he had expected it to. He had thought that it would fly in a straight line from his hand to her head. That didn’t happen. Instead, after leaving his hand, the block immediately started to lose altitude, and it hit the ground long before it hit Jeannie.

Not only that, but every block that he threw displayed the same unexpected behavior. He’d spent what must have been the better part of an hour throwing blocks, observing their trajectories.

Years later, he’d learn that Dr. Ingram and his team had written up the incident as their creation’s first temper tantrum, demonstrating that he reacted to frustration in exactly the same way that a real child would.

Rodney never told them any different.

#

Dr. McKay showed up in the locker room fifteen minutes late, shoving power bars into his mouth and spewing crumbs as he talked to one of the scientists over his earpiece. “Yeah, no, you’re an idiot.” He listened for a moment, then singsonged, “I-di-ot! Okay, I have to go. Try not to break anything.” He opened his locker and then looked around at the rest of them. “What are you staring at?”

“Just waiting for you to be ready to go,” John said, leaning against the doorframe.

“Huh. How does this thing go on?” McKay asked, holding his tac vest upside down.

Later, during the three-mile trek from the Gate to the village, Teyla fell back to walk alongside John.

“John, I believe that Rodney’s feelings are hurt that he was excluded from our social gathering last night.”

He glanced back at McKay, who was holding a life signs detector in one hand and yet another powerbar in the other, and was still bitching about his power levels and why couldn’t they have brought a gateship, which was what he insisted on calling the puddlejumpers. “How can you tell?”

“Evidently he spent the entire night in his lab working, and skipped breakfast.”

“So?” Clearly, McKay ate—it would be hard to miss—but John was fairly sure he didn’t sleep.

“And he told me that he believes you do not like him.”

John decided not to dignify that with a response.

“You do not?” Teyla sounded surprised.

“I don’t not like him,” he answered. “I haven’t made friends with the MALPs or my P-90, either.”

Teyla was quiet for a moment, and John briefly entertained the notion that he’d won, until Teyla finally said, “You explained that Rodney was a mechanical person.” She stressed the last word.

“Well, he’s--” John glanced back at Rodney; he was still absorbed in the LSD and barely even looking at the path in front of him. “—person-shaped.”

“I see,” Teyla said, her voice strangely formal. “Thank you for clarifying this matter, Major Sheppard. I will take point.”

For the rest of the morning, both Teyla and Rodney seemed to be avoiding speaking to him. Ford even asked him what was going on; John tried to pretend that he was in no way at all just as confused as Ford was.

Fortunately, around the time that the natives turned on them, Teyla seemed to get over whatever her problem was. “The Perranians have never behaved in this way before,” she said as they were trussed up like chickens and shoved into a hole in the ground. “I do not know what we did to offend them.” As he was pushed into the hole, he heard her say to the guard, “If we could simply discuss this, I am sure that our differences can be resolved.”

Finding himself in what looked like a limestone cave, at the top of a heap consisting of McKay and Ford, John managed to get to his feet in time to catch Teyla and—not incidentally—prevent her from landing on top of him. A cover was clamped over the hole, leaving the cave lit only by the eerie glow of McKay’s life-signs detector.

At least, until they all dug the flashlights out of their vests and turned them on.

McKay walked over to one side of the cave. “This hole opens up into a tunnel after about half a meter. Do you have any C-4?”

“I think maybe we should try negotiating before we start blowing up these nice folks’ jail cell,” John suggested.

“Yeah, no, they’re going to turn us over to the Wraith. They promised immunity from culling to the planet that turned us over.”

“And you know this how?”

“They were talking about it outside while we were in the barn admiring those hideous goat-things.” He glanced up from his life-signs detector for the first time John had noticed on the entire trip, and added, “I happen to have excellent hearing. So. C-4?”

So they blew a hole in the side of the jail cell and crawled through the tunnel—which certainly did open up after half a meter, but didn’t open up enough to actually walk through for another 300 or so.

McKay had rigged up his lifesigns detector to display a sort of contour map of the cave system, and for the next several hours he led the way, looking down at the green lines on the display rather than at the actual terrain ahead of him, as they clambered over rock piles, rappelled up and down cliff faces, picked their way through chambers full of stalactites and stalagmites, and sidled through barely-passable cracks in the stone.

Eventually, just after they popped out of a tunnel into a cavern, Rodney suddenly slumped down onto the ground. “Okay, I’ve got to sit down.”

“What for?”

“To rest, Einstein. I didn’t realize this was going to be a forced-march-running-for-our-lives kind of day.” The rest of them standing in a semicircle around him, McKay rummaged through his pockets and came up with nothing but empty wrappers. Grumbling, he unstrapped his laptop from his back.

“I don’t want to rush you or anything, but we’re still in the middle of escaping,” John pointed out.

“Yeah, yeah, okay.” Looking at the laptop, McKay swore, slammed the lid shut, and connected a USB cable from his neck to the computer. “Okay, stick this back on my back,” he said, handing it to Teyla and turning around. “Careful, don’t disconnect it. What else do we have with a USB port and a battery?”

John looked around. “…Nothing?”

Fuck.”

“I have my iPod,” Ford volunteered.

McKay made gimme-hands. Ford was about to hand him the iPod when John intercepted it. “You want to tell me what’s going on?”

“Not particularly.”

“Allow me to rephrase. What the hell is going on?”

“I’m having a…power problem.”

“What kind of power problem?”

“The kind where I don’t have enough power,” McKay snapped. “Do you mind?”

John handed him the iPod. “Didn’t you, I don’t know, charge up your battery or whatever it is you do
before the mission?”

“I was going to do it in the Gateship.”

“How critical is this power problem?”

“It’s…not good.”

“How long do you have?”

“Depends.”

“On what?”

“Stuff.” John was about to wring his neck, but McKay continued, “Activity levels, mostly. In standby mode, I’d have ten hours or so before I have to go into emergency shutdown. If we’re doing more climbing and running, more like an hour, or less. My laptop’s fully charged, so I’ll get another 20 minutes or so from that. And maybe a minute and a half from this,” he added, holding up Ford’s iPod and stuffing it in a pocket.

“So you bothered to charge up your laptop, but not yourself. That’s just great,” John said. “Excellent planning.”

“Well if you’d told me anything about this mission, I would have known we weren’t taking a Gateship, you smirking asshole.”

Before John could respond, Teyla laid her hand on his arm. “John, now is not the time to assign blame.

Rodney, perhaps it would be best if you waited here—we could proceed to the Gate and return with a Puddlejumper and a backup power source.”

“I’m not staying here,” McKay protested.

“No, I think that’s a good plan,” John said. “We’ll send a retrieval party back for you.”

“I’m not staying.” McKay got to his feet and looked at his LSD again. “Okay, we should start thinking about how we’re going to get across a bottomless pit—it’s about five meters wide, and it’s a hundred-fifty meters that way.”

“McKay. Stay. Here. That’s an order.”

McKay looked at him with something like curiosity on his face. “Does that work on your military goons?”

It usually did, actually, but at the moment, John was more interested in why it wasn’t working on McKay. “Don’t you have Second Law?”

“No,” McKay answered, in a tone that was a perfect imitation of incredulous disgust. “Also, and I realize this may be hard for you to believe, but my head won’t explode if I’m confronted with a logical paradox.”

“Do you have First Law?” He probably should have asked that question before issuing McKay a sidearm, John realized belatedly.

“Do you?”

“I’m not a robot,” John pointed out.

“And I’m not fictional. Christ. Look, I’m going that way.” He pointed. “Feel free to catch up any time you want.”

#

“..five, six, seven. St. Charles Place. OK, I’ll buy it.”

Rodney, who was banker, took the Monopoly money Jeannie was holding out, and gave her the deed. He was spending the weekend at Dr. Ingram’s house, something he didn’t enjoy as much as he once did. It
hadn’t been that long ago that any chance to spend time somewhere other than the lab had been novel and exciting, but the Ingram house had somehow come to be old hat. He rolled the dice and carefully moved the little car around the game board.

Part of it had to be that he had grown up faster than Jeannie. She was, technically, older than him, having been about three when he was initialized. But now he was nearing the end of his high-school level work, and she was still only in sixth grade.

Rodney heard a car pull up outside, and a moment later, the front door slammed. “Mom’s home,” Jeannie said.

Mrs. Ingram was another reason he didn’t like Dr. Ingram’s house as much as he once did. She didn’t understand how important Dr. Ingram’s work was, and often complained about the amount of time he spent at his lab. “Water Works. I’ll buy it,” he said, putting some money in the bank.

“Duh, I already have it,” Jeannie pointed out. “You have to roll and pay me four times what it says.”

He glanced at the cards in front of Jeannie. She was right, she did have it. He rolled a seven and paid her twenty-eight dollars.

“—greed you wouldn’t bring him here anymore,” he heard Mrs. Ingram say downstairs. She was walking across the dining room, where the hardwood floor was—he could hear the heels of her shoes. Dr. Ingram must have been in the kitchen, which was diagonally opposite Jeannie’s room. Rodney could hear his voice as he responded, but couldn’t make out the words.

“Your turn,” he told Jeannie, but she was listening too.

“They’re fighting again,” she said, disgusted. “That’s all they ever do.” She rolled.

“Marvin Gardens—now I have the Monopoly. I want to build houses.” She shoved some play money at him.

As Rodney counted it and gave her the green plastic houses, he heard Mrs. Ingram crossing the dining room again. “—has to be the last time, Stanley—that thing is creepy. Make one of your research assistants take it home, or something.”

Somehow, Rodney didn’t quite figure out what Mrs. Ingram was talking about until he heard Dr. Ingram answer. He was still speaking more quietly than his wife, and Rodney missed a few words, but he was able to make out enough. “—part of the project since the beginning, Katie…portant to replicate…natural home environment.”

It was him—Dr. Ingram and his wife were fighting about him. “I have to go,” Rodney blurted, standing up and stuffing the Monopoly set back into the box.

As he did it, downstairs Mrs. Ingram was saying, “This isn’t a replica of a home, Stanley, it is our home. Mine and Jeannie’s, at least.”

Jeannie was looking at him in surprise. “What? Why?”

“I…have to get back to the lab. I left some simulations running.” It was what Dr. Ingram said when they were out on campus and someone boring tried to trap him in a conversation.

Jeannie, for some reason, looked furious. “Fine!” She scooped up her plastic houses and flung them into the box. “You know, I only play with you because Dad pays me.”

“Yeah, well—you’re stupid!” Unable to think of a better retort, Rodney ran out of the house.

#

After they rigged a rope bridge over the bottomless pit and passed through another system of chambers, McKay pointed to an opening in the cave ceiling. “Right. All we have to do is climb up that chimney, and we’ll be on the surface.”

John eyed it. “It stays wide enough for us to pass through the whole way up?”

John was sure that earlier in the day, McKay would have answered that question by asking if John thought he was too stupid to have thought of that. Now he just nodded. “It’s about thirty meters, going at an 85 degree angle.” He did rally enough to add, “for the math-illiterate, which I assume is everyone except me, that means ‘almost vertical.’ Luckily, it’s a tight enough squeeze we shouldn’t really have to worry about falling back down.”

“Will you be all right, Rodney?” Teyla asked quietly.

“I can make it.”

McKay had been growing quieter and more sluggish since explaining about his “power problem.” John knew that it was the robot’s own fault—and they were going to have words about that later—but for now, the priority was to make sure they all made it back to Atlantis intact. It had been almost an hour since McKay had said that he had an hour and twenty minutes of power left. “Are you sure?” he asked. “You could just wait down here. When the retrieval team comes, they can haul you out.”

McKay mumbled something.

“What was that?”

“I said, I’m not crazy about enclosed spaces.”

John wasn’t sure how a robot could be claustrophobic, but Rodney flatly refused to stay, so they roped themselves together and started the climb, first McKay, then Ford, Teyla, and John last. They climbed by bracing their backs against one side of the chimney, legs and hands against the other, and inching slowly up the wall.

The climb was mostly silent, except for Ford’s occasional attempts at starting a conversation—did they suppose that pit was really bottomless? Were Wraith more like vampires or more like zombies? What were they having for dinner at the mess hall, and would there be any of it left when they got back?

After what seemed like an eternity, Ford and Teyla were grabbing his hands and hauling him out of a hole in the ground, into the night and a forest of not-quite-pine trees. “Everybody okay?”

Ford and Teyla were moving stiffly—no surprise there—but McKay was huddled up on the ground, his knees drawn up to his chest and his arms wrapped around them, peering over his knees to look at the life-signs detector.

“I do not think Dr. McKay is well,” Teyla said unnecessarily.

Shining his flashlight on McKay, John saw that he was shaking noticeably. “Yeah. McKay, what’s your status?”

McKay shook his head and said, “Just a minute.”

Teyla crouched next to him. “Dr. McKay, are you able to continue?”

“The Stargate is 10.3 kilometers magnetic southeast,” McKay told her. “That way. This arrow--” he tilted the screen toward Teyla and jabbed his finger at it “—will point toward it. Should be idiot proof. I hope.”

Teyla asked him something John didn’t quite catch.

“I lowered my core temperature to conserve power. It’s—unpleasant.”

“Will it help if we build a fire?”

“Well.” McKay frowned. “It might make me feel better.”

Even though it was obvious to John that McKay wouldn’t be walking to the Stargate either way, Teyla started gathering wood. After a moment, John joined in, and Ford copied him. Once Teyla had the fire going, McKay uncurled slightly and held his hands out to it.

“Do you feel more comfortable?” Teyla asked him.

He nodded slightly. “Not enough to charge my…solar cells, but…feels good.”

Teyla patted his shoulder and looked over his head at John. He shrugged slightly. McKay didn’t sound good, but he didn’t know anything more about it than she did.

On the pretext of getting another armload of wood, Teyla took him to the edge of the clearing. “Perhaps one of us should stay with Dr. McKay. It will be some hours’ time before we are able to return for him, and I believe he will soon be unable to protect himself if any unexpected dangers arise.”

She had a point—he wasn’t sure how much could go wrong, but Dr. McKay was the single most valuable piece of equipment on the entire expedition. It was a good idea to be extra cautious. “Good idea. Ford, you’ll stay with McKay.”

“Sir?”

He explained Teyla’s reasoning, adding, “I don’t think anyone’s going to come along, but just in case.”

He adjusted the straps on his tac vest, which had gotten twisted around as he climbed. “We should have a puddlejumper back for you in a few hours.”

#

Rodney inched as close as he could get to the fire without falling in it. He didn’t know if what he experienced as “cold” was the same as what humans felt—sometimes people asked about things like that, but there was no way for him to know. But he was cold, and he didn’t like it.

He really should have charged himself up before the offworld mission. He’d even known that last night, when he’d been busy not doing it. But the mission really wasn’t supposed to be as strenuous as it had ended up being. And he’d never been out of reach of a power source before. He hadn’t known what it was like.

What it was like was, frankly, awful. This must be what it was like to be sick.

Shortly before crossing the bottomless pit—on what the Major called a rope bridge, and any sane person would call “two very thin ropes”—he had shut down several background processes (fortunately, one of them had been the one responsible the sensation that he labeled “mortal terror”). Since then, he’d gradually been shutting down other processes as they became unnecessary and as his power situation became more desperate. Now that he didn’t have to move, he’d shut down most of his motor cortex and visual cortexes, leaving just enough synapses activated that he could keep his balance and perceive the fire in front of him.

It felt like dying.

“Ford?” The young marine was sitting somewhere off on his left. McKay couldn’t quite see him.

“Yeah, Doc?”

“I’m going into standby mode. It’s…like I’m asleep. You can wake me up if something happens.”

“Okay. How?”

Rodney had to think about that for a moment. “Just—yell, or shake me or something.”

“Okay. Goodnight, Doc.”

Slowly, Rodney shut down all non-autonomic processes.

#

“Your SAT scores came through,” Dr. Ingram said, putting the envelope down on his worktable. “About what we expected.”

Rodney put his pencil down and picked up the envelope. Taking out the sheet, he glanced at the scores. 760 verbal and 800 math. “The test was easier than the ones you give me.”

“I know. Have you written your essay yet?”

Dr. Ingram had assured him that there would be no problems with his admission to the university, but the board had insisted that he put an application through the admissions office like everyone else. “On the printer.”

He kept working on his calculus while Dr. Ingram picked up his application essay and read it.

“Meredith?” Dr. Ingram’s voice had that too-casual sound, the sound it had when there was some unpleasant surprise coming, a reporter visiting or some promised treat that had to be cancelled.

This time, he knew what the surprise was. “Yeah?”

“What’s this about applying to the College of Science?”

“What about it?” Rodney stalled.

“The computer science department is in the College of Engineering,” Dr. Ingram said, as if he thought Rodney might not know that.

“I decided to major in math and physics. They’re in the college of science,” he added, as if he thought Dr. Ingram might not know.

Dr. Ingram didn’t speak. Rodney started to worry.

He finished a problem and wondered if he ought to say something.

One more problem, and if Dr. Ingram still hadn’t said anything, he’d say…something.

He worked another problem. Dr. Ingram still hadn’t said anything. “Um, is that okay?”

“No, Meredith, it’s not okay. We discussed the department of computer science.”

“I looked up the admissions criteria for the college of science. I won’t have any trouble getting in.”

“Of course you won’t. That’s not the issue.”

“Then what is the issue?”

But Dr. Ingram didn’t answer, and he never really did, in any of the other conversations they had on the subject.

#


The several-hours slog through the wilderness was, fortunately, uneventful. They approached the Stargate cautiously—John wouldn’t have been at all surprised to meet an ambush there—but they didn’t encounter any Perranians, or any Wraith, either. After Teyla remarked on their absence, John said, “Let’s not hang around waiting for them to show up,” and dialed the Gate.

On the other side, Dr. Weir met them in the gateroom. “You’re more than six hours past your scheduled check-in. What happened? And where are Dr. McKay and Lieutenant Ford?”

“They’re on the planet. They’re safe.” John gave her a brief rundown of the events of the day.

“We should return to retrieve our teammates as soon as possible,” Teyla said, the first time he paused for breath.

John had meant to suggest that Lorne’s team make the pickup, since they hadn’t been climbing around in caves all day, but Dr. Weir agreed with Teyla, and before he had a chance to really think about it, John found himself getting into a jumper and going back through the gate.

“John,” Teyla said as they flew over the dark planet.

“Yeah?”

“I have gotten the impression that you hold Dr. McKay to blame for his illness.”

“He’s not sick. He forgot to charge up his batteries. He’s got no one to blame but himself.”

“The mission was far more strenuous than any of us anticipated.”

“We’re coming up on their position. Keep an eye out for a place to land.”

He made several passes, one the last one coming close enough to see that Teyla’s fire was still burning.

Finally, he located a suitable clearing.

Ford’s voice came through his radio. “Major, is that you?”

“Yeah. Setting down about 200 meters from your position. Everything all right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“How’s Dr. McKay?” he asked as he landed the jumper.

“He’s out,” Ford said. “I can’t get him to wake up—he said he was going to sleep, and I should wake him up when something happened, but he won’t wake up.”

“I’m pretty sure he doesn’t sleep,” John pointed out.

“That’s what he said, sir.”

“Well, keep trying.”

They were close enough to the clearing where they’d left Ford and McKay to see the fire. Walking toward it, John took the time to clear the path a little, since it looked like they’d be carrying McKay back.

By the time he got there, Teyla was shaking Dr. McKay. “Rodney? Rodney, it is time to wake up.”

John wasn’t too surprised when McKay didn’t react.

He and Ford heaved McKay up onto their shoulders—and damn, was McKay heavier than he looked.

“Couldn’t park any closer, sir?” Ford grunted as they walked.

“Thought we could use the exercise.”

When they finally got to the jumper, they put him down on one of the benches in the back. Well—more like dropped him, really, but it wasn’t like he was going to bruise or anything. “Should we try to plug him in?” Ford asked.

John studied the robot. “No, we’ll be home in less than ten minutes, we can turn him over to--” He realized he wasn’t sure who did McKay’s maintenance. “Whoever. There might be a, procedure or something.”

#

Rodney came back into the lab carrying an ice-cream cone. Chocolate ripple with sprinkles and nuts. The week before, he had successfully argued that he ought to be allowed to walk around campus by himself, considering he was going to be an undergraduate in just a few months. Dr. Ingram had finally agreed, but he’d been so busy with homework and experiments that today—the day Dr. Ingram had his four-hour graduate seminar after lunch—was the first chance he’d had to exercise his new freedom.

In fact, one of the graduate students had tried to stop him, saying that he was supposed to have his visual perception tested that day, but he’d reminded her that they hadn’t done that in years, and left anyway.

He wasn’t too surprised to find Dr. Ingram there in the lab—the seminar had been over for almost an hour. “Where have you been?”

Rodney shrugged. “Out.” He had, in fact, been in the Math building, wheedling the secretaries into giving him a look at the draft of the Fall term schedule, then walking around looking in people’s offices so he could start figuring out which professors he wanted. But he knew that to mention it would only start an argument. “What’s that?” he asked, leaning over Dr. Ingram’s workbench, where an intriguing assortment of parts and diagrams were laid out.

“Don’t drip on it,” Dr. Ingram said, shooing him and his ice cream away from the bench. “Finish your snack, and then I’ll show you.”

Gulping down the rest of his ice cream, Rodney sat on the rolling stool from his own worktable and pushed off, perfectly calculating the necessary force to bring himself to a stop right next to Dr. Ingram.

“Okay, what is it?”

“It’s a project I thought we might work on together,” Dr. Ingram explained. “Most of these parts come from a commercial kit for building a toy robot dog. I thought we could replace the control chips with a self-repairing synaptic membrane—just a small one, of course. Then we could work on developing a naturalistic learning program for it. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

Rodney looked down at the lab bench. One of the diagrams from the kit happened to be in front of him, showing how the toy dog’s leg joints fit together. He stared at it. They’d had robot toys in the lab before. But they were just that, toys. “What for?” he asked suddenly.

“Pardon?”

“You already built a self-repairing synaptic membrane, and developed a naturalistic learning program—mine. What do you want to do a toy one for?”

“I—thought you might enjoy it,” Dr. Ingram answered.

“You thought you might bribe me into going into comp sci,” Rodney retorted. “With a stupid toy dog. What do you think I am, a child? Maybe in the math department they won’t patronize me.” Getting up off the stool, he grabbed his recently-discarded backpack. “I’m going to the library.”

“Meredith, wait.”

“Don’t wait up for me.”

He left, slamming the door behind him.

#

“Is there something I can help you with, Major?” one of the scientists asked him. It was the short, not-quite-Russian guy. Z-something.

“I just wanted to see how Dr. McKay was doing,” John answered. It was late evening in Atlantis, and they had been back for several hours—long enough for him to have made a full report to Dr. Weir, gotten his severely abraded back checked out, and had a late supper. He figured McKay was probably back to making his underlings miserable, even if he was still plugged into the wall.

“Dr. McKay went into emergency shutdown mode,” the scientist explained. “He won’t regain consciousness until he completes a full maintenance cycle.”

“Oh. How long does that take?” John wondered.

“Did you not read Dr. McKay’s personnel file?”

“Uh—glanced at it.” The file was longer than War and Peace, most of it seemingly made up of dense academic papers—some by McKay, some about him.

The scientist looked back at his computer screen. “I was only in military in my country for short time, but I seem to remember that it is important for a commander to know the abilities and limitations of his personnel.” He pushed up his little round John-Lennon glasses and looked at John. “Tell me, is it different in US military?”

“Hey, now, that’s not--”

Fair, John had been going to say, but the scientist continued, “Rodney is my head of department, and my friend. He could have been severely injured. Yes, Major, I do think it is fair.” The scientist picked up a clipboard and stood, holding it in front of himself like a shield. “Rodney’s file includes segment made for television newsmagazine program. If you are unable to read, perhaps you start there. Now excuse me, I have work to do.”

#

Rodney woke up in his quarters, on his bed. All of his processes were running at full capacity, power levels at maximum. He could use some chemical energy, maybe—a power bar or something—but it wasn’t urgent.

Moments ago, according to his memory, he was on the planet, sitting next to a fire, shutting down every part of himself that he could manage without. Telling Ford that it was just like going to sleep. Then he was in the jumper bay, Zelenka connecting him up to an emergency power source, for just a second—and now he was here. Time must have passed—logically, he knew that quite a bit of it had—but he had no sense of it.

It was disconcerting. Even when he did a normal charge-and-defrag, like he was supposed do every night, he came out of it aware that time had passed.

Also disconcerting was that he was apparently calling the Gateships “jumpers” now, using Major Sheppard’s name, like everyone else. He still remembered that he wanted to call them Gateships; he still thought it was a better name. But “jumpers” was the name that sprang to mind now.

Maybe if he kept reminding himself—Gateships, Gateships, Gateships—it would switch back on his next defrag. Maybe.

He rolled out of bed and checked the time on his laptop. He’d lost almost ten hours. Resetting his internal chronometer, he stripped off his filthy uniform. After a quick wash, he put on a clean one and hurried to breakfast.

He had planned to just grab some coffee and a power bar to take to the lab, but on the way in, he ran into Teyla. “Dr. McKay, I hope you are feeling better,” she said.

“Yeah! Yeah, I am, thanks.” Privately, Rodney wasn’t sure how well Teyla understood the whole “robot” thing. “All better.”

“I am glad. Would you like to join me for breakfast?”

They were near the serving line, and Rodney saw that they were dishing up bacon with the full hot breakfast. Knowing from experience that the cooks wouldn’t just turn over a handful of bacon to go, he agreed.

He applied himself to his food for a few minutes, methodically downing toast and reconstituted eggs while Teyla nibbled delicately at a piece of fruit. Sometimes, he was painfully aware that his eating habits made him look like a glutton—but he couldn’t help that his power requirements were prodigious compared to just about anything except a Stargate. One of his recurring fantasies involved retrofitting himself to include a small naquedah generator. He often tried to figure out what he could take out to make room, even though that was the smallest of the problems with the idea.

With most of his breakfast finished, Rodney picked up his bacon. “I hope I didn’t make too much trouble for you guys, you know, yesterday. On the planet.”

“You did not,” Teyla answered.

“Because, you know, I want to go again. I mean, I’ve just never been anywhere there wasn’t someplace to recharge. I didn’t plan ahead. I know better for next time.” He shuddered a little, thinking of that shutting-down feeling. “Definitely a mistake I won’t make again. I mean, if, you know, Major Sheppard lets me go back out again.”

Teyla stayed quiet until he finished babbling, then said, “I would not worry. If you had not been with us, we would not have known that the Perranians meant to turn us over to the Wraith, nor would we have navigated the cave system as successfully.”

Somehow, he hadn’t thought of it that way—something about being distracted by the total crushing humiliation. But Teyla had a point. “Well, that’s true,” he agreed modestly.

Rodney finished his bacon and was thinking about going back for more coffee when Teyla said abruptly, “May I ask you something?”

“I guess so,” he said cautiously.

“It is of a somewhat delicate nature,” she warned him.

“Okay.” She was probably going to ask if he was sexually functional. Either that or if he used the toilet. He got those questions a lot.

“Are many on your homeworld biased against…artificial life forms such as yourself?”

That was a new one. For a moment, he wasn’t sure how to answer.

“Major Sheppard seems in many ways to be a good man. I was shocked by some of his remarks yesterday.”

She didn’t repeat them, but she didn’t have to. Rodney knew which ones she meant. “So was I.”

The thing was, most of the people he worked with were other scientists. They may have had the same stupid ideas about AI from movies and TV as everyone else, but if they wanted to know the truth, they knew where to look--Dr. Ingram had published dozens of papers about him. And they were also familiar with Rodney’s own work. Even the soft-sciences people could follow enough to know that he was a brilliant scientist in his own right, not a walking, talking MALP.

It hadn’t always been that way, of course. Back when he’d first left Dr. Ingram’s lab—or before that, when he’d started university—he’d been around normal people. Or MIT undergraduates, which was as close as he cared to get to normal. “I don’t know. I’m usually the only one people have met. It’s hard to tell.” He cut himself off before he could finish the thought—hard to tell if they didn’t like robots, or if they just didn’t like him.

“Oh? Do most of your people not leave your home village?”

“Hm? Oh, no, it’s not…there’s no robot village.” Teyla seemed to have some trouble with the idea of “countries” or “nations”—the various Pegasus civilizations seemed be organized into villages and city-states, or planetary governments, but nothing in between. “There were a couple of other groups working on artificial intelligence at about the same time that I was created, but they used a multi-parallel processor instead of the synaptic membrane like I have, so they--” Realizing that Teyla would have no idea what he was talking about, he cut himself off and finished lamely, “They aren’t like me.” He’d met one of them, and “person-shaped” pretty much summed it up.

Teyla took a moment to absorb that. “Ah. I had thought that you at least had a family of your own people.”

“No. No, I was made by humans. And raised by humans. In a lab. I mean, it’s not as tragic as it sounds. It was a nice lab. I had lots of books and toys, and there were always grad students around to play with me.” He realized that he didn’t want Teyla to feel sorry for him, which was weird because, at the moment, he was feeling a little sorry for himself. He’d never really longed for the company of other robots—after all, it wasn’t like humans had some special connection with each other based on the shared experience of being made out of meat—but something about Teyla’s casual assumption that he had come from a village of robots left him tempted to wonder what that would have been like.

It wouldn’t be a village, though. A campus, maybe, or a lab complex.

“Right.” He stood up quickly. “I’m going to get more coffee.”

“Of course. Thank you for answering my questions.”

“Sure.” To his surprise, he hadn’t minded as much as he usually minded doing Robot 101. Maybe because Teyla’s questions had been naïve, but not stupid.

#

John dropped his bantos stick as a blow to his elbow sent pins and needles running up and down his arm. “Let’s take a break, all right?” he asked, before he bent to pick up the stick. Experience had proven that Teyla was not above hitting him again under those circumstances.

“In a battle, your opponent would be unlikely to agree to end combat because you dropped your weapon,” she pointed out.

“In a battle, I hope I’d have more weapons than just sticks.” He picked up a bottle of water and offered one to Teyla.

Saying, “Thank you,” she took it. After drinking, she said, “I talked to Dr. Mckay this morning.”

“Oh. Yeah, I’m going to apologize to him later,” John said, because Teyla was giving him that look that made him feel like he just disappointed his favorite teacher.

“Good.” They put their water bottles down and got ready to start sparring again, and for a moment John thought he’d gotten off that easily. Then, as she raised her sticks, Teyla said, “For what will you be apologizing?”

“Oh.” He warded off a blow with his left-hand stick. “You know.” He struck out, but Teyla easily blocked his stick with her own. “Stuff.”

“I do not think that he will appreciate an insincere apology,” Teyla said, landing a blow to his midsection.

“Oof.” Suddenly reminded of the Peanuts Halloween special, John protested, “I’m sincere!” He managed not to add that he was the most sincere pumpkin patch in Atlantis.

“You will not be able to convincingly apologize for hurting his feelings, if you continue to deny that he has them.”

“I’m not denying that he—ow!” Teyla managed to get another blow in while he was distracted. “--that he has feelings.”

“It certainly sounded that way, when you said that he would not care about being ostracized.” Unfortunately, the conversation didn’t seem to be distracting Teyla at all—every strike he attempted was blocked by her sticks.

“He’s not very sociable,” John pointed out, as Teyla’s bantos stick scraped along his, banging his knuckles. “He never goes to movie nights, he’s always eating by himself, or he just grabs something and runs back to the lab.” Dr. starts-with-a-Z had said that McKay was his friend. Although that might just mean “guy I share a lab with and don’t actively dislike.”

“He told me this morning that he is the only one of his kind in existence.”

John had sort of known that, but he hadn’t really thought of it that way before.

“There are many different cultures on your homeworld, are there not?”

John nodded, a little surprised by the change in subject. “Yeah.”

“So even though most of your people have never been to another world before coming here, you have encountered societies different from your own before, yes?”

“Yeah,” he said. “I mean, the science people, they come from all over the planet. The military personnel are mostly American—I told you about America, right? But everybody has been stationed overseas at least once.”

“So you are all experienced at encountering viewpoints that differ from your own?” Teyla sounded slightly disbelieving.

“Uh….” John blocked another blow. “Sort of. I mean, it’s something we have to work at.”

She nodded. “I see. Many of your people have expressed surprise that you allowed an ‘alien’ on your gate team.”

“Oh. Yeah, that’s…I mean, some people can be idiots.”

“Among my people, everyone has had the experience of going to another world, where people have different ways, and think of our own ways as strange. In a way, we are accustomed to being...alien.”

“Yeah, I can see how that would--” He blocked a blow from Teyla’s sticks. “--be an asset.”

Teyla nodded, and for a few moments the only sounds were the crack of one stick against another. “There is a saying, used by my people as well as those of many other worlds. When someone is…unwelcoming, or fails to make allowances for someone who does not know the local customs. We say, ‘he acts as if he has never been a stranger.’ It seems to me,” she continued, “that most of your people behave as if they never have.”

“I guess not,” John had to admit. “Listen, if anyone is giving any of your people a hard time….”

“I will come to you, as one leader to another,” Teyla agrees. “But while we are strangers here, we are strangers together. It strikes me as very sad, that Dr. McKay may have never known what it is not to be a stranger.”

So they were still talking about McKay. “If he hasn’t, it’s hasn’t done him any good,” John pointed out. “I don’t think he’s ever made allowances for anyone not knowing something.”

“I’m not sure that’s true.” Teyla seemed deep in thought, but still blocked John’s moves effortlessly. “Perhaps it works out to the same thing, never having been a stranger, and always being one.”


#

“You’ve got a big day today,” said Dr. Ingram, as Rodney pushed his breakfast around on the plate.

“Uh-huh.” He was more nervous than he wanted to admit. He wasn’t sure why. He knew he could handle the work—he’d tested out of loads of things already, and he’d looked over all of his new textbooks. He was going to be fine.

“You know where all of your classes are?”

“Yeah.” He braced himself for one more pitch for comp sci—even after he’d formally accepted an offer of admission to the College of Science, Dr. Ingram hadn’t stopped trying to convince him to change his mind. Yesterday he’d found a class schedule on his worktable, with all of the comp sci classes with open seats highlighted in yellow.

But Dr. Ingram just said, “I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

He was, of course. Fine. He didn’t get lost, or lose his books, or fail any tests (there weren’t any). But his first day was both easier and harder than he’d expected it to be. No work was accomplished in any of the classes; instead, the professors would hand out a syllabus and spend most of the period talking about the information that was on it. Occasionally, if time was left, they’d be asked to break into small groups and work on some small problem.

The students mostly used this time to talk about geography. For some reason, the first question that almost everyone asked what state and town the other students came from. The only topic of greater interest was what dormitory one was presently living in.

Taken by surprise the first time he was asked, Rodney blurted out, “I’m from here.”

“Oh, a townie!” the girl who had asked said. “You’ll have to tell us where all the cool places are. Do you live at home, or are you on campus?”

The real answer, he supposed, was both. He was staying in the lab, like he always had.

He must have waited too long to answer, because the girl said, “Not sure?” and laughed.

For the rest of his classes, at least, he knew the answers: he confessed immediately to being “a townie” and then said that he lived in Lincoln, which, since his classmates were all freshmen, no one knew was a lab complex and not a residence hall.

At the end of the day, he thought that everything had gone well. It wasn’t until Wednesday, when he had the same round of classes again, and somehow all of his classmates had formed work groups, with him the only one left outside, that he realized he must have done something wrong.

#

By lunchtime, John had made his way through most of Rodney’s file, after skipping all of the parts that were too technical. When Rodney had first been hired by the Pentagon, someone had taken the trouble to go through all of the scientific papers and write up a summary of all of his abilities and weaknesses—which, John, thought, ought to have been stuck on top of the rest of it, not buried in the middle of the file.

The document informed him that heavy power consumption was “the unit’s” most important disadvantage, information John really could have used earlier. It also told him that a full maintenance cycle took eight hours, and was necessary approximately once a week, or if the unit experienced an emergency shutdown.

It left out a lot of other important stuff, though, like that McKay was claustrophobic, and after a while, John found himself getting annoyed with the way it kept calling him “the unit.” Like he wasn’t really a person.

Only when had John started thinking that he was?

John did have to delve into some of the scientific papers to figure out that no, McKay didn’t have first law (or second or third law), because he wasn’t actually programmed at all. He couldn’t really follow the science, but the gist of it seemed to be that Rodney was supposed to be a robot that learned on his own.

Unbidden, he found himself imagining a young McKay at school, being the weird kid that everyone picked on. But that couldn’t be right—McKay had never really been young, had he?

It couldn’t have happened like that, but John still found himself remembering his own childhood, times when it had seemed like the only choice was between being the kid everyone picked on and the one doing the picking. John had been a stranger—maybe not in the way Teyla meant, but he’d been the new kid at school more times in his life than he cared to count. And there was one easy way for a new kid to establish himself in the cutthroat social world of a school: figure out who the obvious target was, the nerd, the fat kid, the effeminate one, or—best of all—the fat, nerdy, effeminate kid, and pick on him. He’d done that a few times, just enough to figure out that after he did it, he wouldn’t be able to stand to look at himself in a mirror.

It wasn’t quite the same as what he’d done to Rodney. They were all adults; he knew nobody was going to be impressed by the military commander of Atlantis taking cheap shots at a robot. But thinking back on it, it gave him the same feeling, sort of squirming and ashamed.

Having done enough of the hard work to erase some of the sting of the not-Russian scientist’s remark, John decided he might as well look at the 20/20 segment. It began with schmaltzy music and a voiceover about the nature of life, shown over juxtaposed shots of robot bugs and newborn kittens stumbling blindly around as they learned to walk.

Next was the talking head of a scientist, who explained, “The brain of a living organism learns by perceiving stimuli, creating connections between stimuli, and recognizing patterns among those connections. This is also how the synaptic membrane learns.”

The next section answered some of John’s questions about what McKay’s childhood, or what passed for it, had been like. He looked almost the same as he did now—possibly with a little more hair—but he was sitting on the floor, stacking blocks with the same expression of concentration John had seen him wear when he was working on some complex Ancient gadget. The voiceover explained that he had been initialized 18 months ago, and was functioning at the same level as a two-year-old child.

It was kind of unnerving to watch—like seeing baby pictures of one of his colleagues, only even weirder because McKay looked almost the same.
The rest of the segment was equally vague on the science behind the robot, relying heavily on oversimplified metaphors, but John got the impression that he’d gotten the gist of the scientific papers. The home movies, he was just going to have to try to forget he’d ever seen.

As he continued to plow through the file, John was surprised to see that McKay’s title wasn’t, as he’d thought, a courtesy—he actually had two earned doctorates, as well as an undergraduate degree from MIT. According to the LIFE magazine article that was included in his file, he’d completed a regular high school curriculum through independent study, and then enrolled in college when he was 12.

He hadn’t looked 12, of course—he had looked the same way he did stacking blocks at age two, nearly the same way he had yesterday. But the LIFE article also had a picture of his room in the lab where he’d grown up, and from the Legos and action figures on his shelves, John had a feeling college-freshman McKay’s mental age had been closer to his real age than to that of his classmates.

He thought about being twelve, and about being nineteen, and about the million and a half ways a college freshman could find to be an asshole to a bright little kid who also happened to be a robot. It couldn’t have been easy.

And one thing the 20/20 segment, the LIFE article, and even the scientific papers all agreed on was that the robot—they didn’t use his name, for some reason—the robot had feelings. Maybe not exactly the same kind that humans had, but some kind of functional equivalent—or they might be exactly the same as a human’s; you’d have to have experienced both to be able to tell.

That feeling of creeping shame came back. The “person-shaped” crack had clearly been out of line—even more out of line than he’d thought at the time. And if McKay had overheard it, which seemed pretty damn likely—his feelings had to have been hurt. No two ways about it—he’d been a dick.

On the other hand, reading between the lines of the evaluations written by various supervisors and coworkers that McKay had had over the years, John got the definite impression that he was hard to work with, even though people cut him a lot of slack over the robot thing. He was arrogant and sometimes whiny, took positive pleasure in proving people wrong, and did not like to share his toys. One director of a think tank suggested that the best was to manage Dr. McKay was to stick him in a room by himself with whatever he asked for, and stop by once or twice a year to pick up the publishable results. It seemed entirely possible that the SGC had sent him to Atlantis in part to get him out of their hair.

So maybe not the ideal choice for an offworld team. Except….

McKay had whined all morning, sure. And he hadn’t been shy about telling the rest of them they were idiots for not knowing everything he knew. But when they were actually in danger—and when he was in what John now knew had to have been a considerable amount of discomfort—he’d stopped whining and gotten the job done.

Also, when he’d taken a brief break from the McKay file to consult with Lorne and the scientist from his team, he had learned that displaying topo maps of underground cave systems was not something the life signs detectors actually did. Nor was pointing out the locations of Stargates. Except for the one that McKay had had yesterday—that one did those things. And unless McKay had taken the precaution of reprogramming the LSD before they left, to do the exact two things that he’d had no way of anticipating they’d need it to do, he had programmed it to do the first one while they were being shoved into a hole, and the second while he was minutes away from passing out from starvation.

Maybe he was the kind of guy John wanted at his back, after all.

#

Jeannie didn’t come to the lab as often as she used to, but she did come on the Friday of Rodney’s first week of college.

Rodney wondered if Dr. Ingram paid her. She had only said it one time, and Dr. Ingram had told him how humans sometimes said hurtful things that weren’t true, but when asked, he was unable to explain how to tell the difference between a hurtful thing that was true and one that wasn’t, so Rodney didn’t know.

“Let’s go get ice cream,” he suggested, instead of asking whether she was being paid or not.

“Okay,” she said, “but we have to come right back. I have a lot of homework.”

Rodney was disappointed—he’d been hoping to take Jeannie around to various places where his classmates might be. He had noticed that other students were rarely alone when eating, studying, or walking around campus, and theorized that his classmates thought that since he was always alone, he preferred to be that way. If they saw him walking with a friend, they might realize they were wrong and invite him to join them.

Still, he supposed a lot of people would be at the ice cream place. That might be enough. “Okay,” he said. “I mean, so do I.”

“Great.”

While they walked, Rodney told Jeannie about all of his new classes, and pointed out the buildings where they were held. “We aren’t even getting past Newtonian physics until after Thanksgiving,” he said of his physics class. “Can you believe it? I asked the professor why not—I mean, anyone can work that stuff out, you just have to observe. He didn’t really give me an answer, though, and everyone laughed. I don’t know why. It isn’t funny. We’re spending a whole week on--”

“Tell me you didn’t really ask that in front of the whole class,” Jeannie said.

Rodney stopped. “Sure, I did. Why wouldn’t I?”

“Because you just called everyone else in the class stupid! God, no wonder you don’t--” She stopped short. “You’re kind of ahead of a lot of other people,” she finished, which obviously wasn’t what she had been going to say. “It’s not polite to show that you know more than other people.”

He thought about that. “I don’t think that’s right, Jeannie,” he said after a while. “Dr. Ingram knows more than everybody else in the lab, and he doesn’t pretend he doesn’t.”

“That’s different.”

“How?”

Jeannie had to think about that. “Dad’s a professor,” she finally said.

“I’m going to be a professor.”

“You are?”

“Well, yeah.” He was an undergraduate now—that was the first step. Then you were a graduate student, and then a professor. That was how it worked.

“Well, when you are one, then you can know more than everybody else,” Jeannie decided.

By that time, they had reached the ice cream place, so Rodney was distracted from pointing out all of the flaws in her logic.

#

“Hey.” John was relieved to find McKay at his usual place in the lab.

“Zelenka, do you have those--” he snapped his fingers several times.

“A noun would be helpful,” the not-Russian guy said, handing Rodney a tablet.

“Yeah, those.” McKay keyed some numbers in to his own computer with the other hand. After he’d apparently decided he’d ostentatiously ignored John long enough, he said, “Yes, Major?”

“Brought you some coffee,” John said, depositing the cup and a handful of Tootsie rolls scavenged from MREs onto the table next to him. He’d spent enough time in the lab activating Ancient gadgets to know that coffee and candy were the traditional McKay-appeasement offerings.

McKay drank some of it and turned back to his computer. “Did you want something?”

“Just checking if you’re doing okay.”

“I’m fine.”

“Cool.” John hesitated, hoping McKay would say something to make this easier for him. “You know, I was kind of an asshole. Yesterday.”

“Were you?” McKay rolled his desk chair to another workstation.

John followed him. “Yeah. I mean, you should have said something about the power problem before it was a crisis.”

McKay glanced up at him. “Why? What were you going to do about it?” He looked away. “Anyway, I’m working on a portable emergency power source. Give me a couple of days to perfect it, and it won’t happen again.”

“Great. That’s really great. I think Ford thought he broke you or something, when we got back with the jumper and he couldn’t wake you up.”

He’d meant it to be funny, but McKay didn’t laugh. “I’m sure Ford will get over the trauma,” he said snippily.

“Sorry. I’m sure it was scary for you too.”

“I wasn’t scared.”

McKay sure wasn’t making this easy, was he? Doggedly, John kept trying. “Look, I think we got off on the wrong foot. Can we start over?”

McKay rolled back to his original workstation.

“It’s funny, when I was a kid, I really wanted a robot friend.”

McKay rolled back to the second workstation.

“So, um, we’re having a team movie night tonight—Teyla’s never seen Star Wars, can you believe it? Well, she’s never seen anything, but—you know. Anyway, are you coming?”

McKay stopped in the middle of rolling back to his first workstation and looked up at him. “Tell you what,” he said, his voice absolutely flat. “Why don’t you make friends with your P-90 first, and then maybe we’ll hang out.” It wasn’t until he was back at the first workstation, staring at the screen, that McKay spoke again. This time, his voice wobbled. “Get out of my lab, Major.”

John got.

#

Rodney wasn’t sure how long he stared at the computer screen without seeing it until he noticed that Zelenka had, at some point, cleared away the coffee and candy that the Major brought, and was now replacing them with a fresh cup from the lab coffee pot and some of those weird licorice things from his own candy stash.

Rodney didn’t like the weird licorice things, but he ate one to be polite.




On to part II!

Tags:

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
looking4tarzan
Mar. 12th, 2010 08:21 am (UTC)
How'd I miss you writing in the SGA fandom? (mind you I distracted by the fact I've been playing due south catchup since last June)

“And I’m not fictional. Christ. Look, I’m going that way.” He pointed. “Feel free to catch up any time you want.”

Awesomeness!
mirror_mirrin
Mar. 12th, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC)
OK so I am not generally the type to read non-slash fics, but this has really caught my eye! Very intriguing so far. I've come across robot!john but never the other way around. I like your take on things. Poor Rodney. Really not liking john very much right now.
hajimebassaidai
Jun. 4th, 2010 01:19 am (UTC)
I *really* wasn't sure about this as a concept but decided to give it a go.

Am extremely happy I did! Well thought out and characterised with the flashbacks neatly used. Plus I'm now fascinated!
gail19
Jul. 2nd, 2010 02:27 pm (UTC)
Fantastic. Rodney - you've provided the background to make him real as a robot / artificial person - and yet still managed to keep him completely Rodney.
wanted_a_pony
Jul. 4th, 2010 12:35 am (UTC)
Ow-ow-fuck-OW! John certainly deserved that bitch-slap & I'm glad Rodney was able to deliver it. I hope this gets better for Rodney 'cause it really sorta hurts, so far....
alex51324
Jul. 4th, 2010 05:05 am (UTC)
Glad you liked the story! As you saw, it does get better for Rodney, once John gets over being an asshole.
margarks
Dec. 4th, 2010 05:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, man. This Rodney makes me so teary eyed, especially the flashbacks to his early life. So sad, but so realistic, that he would want to show Jeannie off, not because he wanted to show people he had friends, but because of the logical thought process that they might then understand that he didn't like to be alone all the time :(

And the bit with John at the end had me so teary! I love this Rodney you've written. It's him, with the extra added ostracism of being completely unique - and not just because of his IQ.
evalangui
Jan. 15th, 2014 11:18 pm (UTC)
could I request this fic be on the next batch of things you upload to Ao3? :p
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )