EAD’16 – SciFi Writer – SGA

Title: SciFi Writer (temp file name)

Author: Anthea Davis

Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: SG1

Word Count: ~4600

Primary Pairings/Characters: John Sheppard/Rodney McKay

Rating: PG-13

Content/Warnings: Canon level violence, dealing with life changing injuries

Summary: After a helicopter crash ends John Sheppard’s Air Force career, he decides to take up writing as a way to pass the time between surgeries. His favourite writing cafe just so happens to cater to the local base, Cheyenne Mountain.

Beta: None. Just a casual spell check. No bitching.

~*~

A medical discharge was definitely not what he had expected in his ten-year plan, but when the official papers were in his hand and he was sent on his way. John wasn’t sure what to do with himself.

For the first month after the incident, he was stuck in Colorado at the mystery base Cheyenne Mountain receiving medical care until he was finally transferred to a general hospital and then after that, finally discharged.

Being that he was still stuck on crutches, and would be for at least the next six months until all the surgeries were done and healed up, he was stuck in military housing with nothing to do.

Which is of course when the idea struck him. The complimentary PC in the house he supposed would be adequate, but the only thing he ended up using it for was to go on the internet and buy a new laptop. And a new phone, he supposed, now that he wasn’t stationed in Antarctica or Afghanistan.

The packages arrived the next day after which he happily spent hours customising both.

The next day he officially started writing.

Or attempting to anyway.

To begin with, it started off with a lot of staring at the screen as he contemplated what he was going to write about. He already decided that Science Fiction was a subject he had found he was always interested in, but there was always the problem that perhaps he was a little too well versed, and was continuously trying to skirt away from plagiarism.

Of course, the idea come to him as he was brushing his teeth before bed, which inevitably meant that he ended up in bed at 3.30am. Just to make matters worse, he had a Physical Therapy session at 0815 hours the next morning too.

By the time he was back from that, he was not in the mood to write and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening catching up on Dr Who episodes.

By day five, he was back in front of the laptop, staring at the screen as his mind sifted through plot ideas and opening sentences.

By day nine he was wondering why he ever thought he could write and just what the hell he was going to do if he actually did manage to produce a book.

Day sixteen saw him writing what he could of the plot down and some brief character descriptions.

Day twenty saw him playing World of WarCraft.

It was a month after his discharge when he had begun to grow slightly hostile at the same four walls and ceiling, that he decided it was time he ventured out.

Calling a cab and packing the laptop into a satchel he swung over his shoulder, he asked to be taken to the closest cafe.

The closest cafe was a dingy place that sold some of the worst coffee he had ever tasted, and he had lived with MRE Coffee for most of his career. Though he should have noticed the signs when the cabbie had first pulled up. It was dank, dreary, and slightly dilapidated. He also ever saw one other patron for the two hours he managed to stick around for.

The next day when he called for a cab, he was a careful to be a little more specific in direction. After getting the cabbie’s opinion on where he thought a good cafe a was, he paid for it in the pocket when he was taken across the other side of the city. It took him an hour to get back home that night. The coffee was certainly not worth the trip.

Sticking with the third time’s a charm rule, the next day he asked where all the Military in the area got their coffee.

The shop he was taken to was by no means a cafe, so much as a bakery and a roastary combined in one large converted factory building. There were large open spaces where seating was liberally placed, as well as a few fireplaces with lounge settings that created cosy spots for patrons. The place smelt divine as fresh coffee was roasted and pastries baked.

He little bit fell in love with coffee again when he took his first sip of the Cafe’s home brew.

After that first day at The Factory Bakery, he was hooked. Every day after that he was back, setting up his laptop in the booth near the register, so he didn’t feel bad flagging down staff while cleaning as well as keeping off his leg as he was supposed to.

After the first week there, the girls behind the counter knew him by name and were occasionally bringing him refills and the odd Danish. He was starting to finally find his feet (metaphorically speaking as his left leg was still violently protesting) as he had developed an easy routine between PT and days at The Factory.

He was even starting to piece the first parts of his story together and getting some dialogue down.

Things were finally settling in.

“A Crystal based technology using nuclear power? Are you serious?” An indignant voice said from behind him.

John whipped around to see a man with piercing blue eyes and a receding hairline looking at him with an expression of pure disdain.

“It’s only fiction,” John replied, quietly blushing as he turned back.

“And anyone who knows an ounce of actual science will scoff at the concept before proceeding to laugh themselves into an early grave.”

“And I suppose you know what would work then?” John returned testily.

“Well, as a matter of fact, I have several theories, but there is the matter of copyright to consider,” the man said thoughtfully, crossing his arms over his chest.

At that point, the line to the desk moved up, and the man moved along with it, leaving John in peace.

He supposed it was to be expected, being approached in such a public location about what he was doing. Still, it was rude to read off someone else’s screen. Shaking his head, he turned back to what he had been typing. He had been trying to piece together the technological structure and social structure of the universe he was creating. Reading back over the technology side, he realised that nuclear power did have a lot of drawbacks, and for the kind of advanced society he was trying to create, too much of a dirty power source, especially coupled with crystal technology which seemed to carry a synonymous theme of purity.

Back to the drawing board then.

“Right, I was thinking perhaps something along the lines of harnessing some kind of energy that we are currently aware of, but yet to fully understand, such as anti-matter.”

Right before John’s eyes, the man was back with not one but three of the Ultra large travel cups of coffee which he placed on the table beside the laptop before dragging a chair out from across the table, sending the crutches flying.

“Shit! Sorry,” he said, hastily putting laptop bags and satchels down to grab up the crutches again and rest them against the other chair.

“Anyway,” The man plonked himself down across from John, pausing his running monologue to take a large gulp of coffee. “I was otherwise thinking perhaps you could use some kind of subspace reactor that could harness energy from exotic particles being created and destroyed within the reactor. Then again, that would probably work better as a weapon, than general power.”

He took another gulp of the coffee as he appeared to think. John could only stare blankly back, trying to take in just what exactly was happening.

“Actually, keeping the subspace field, you could perhaps generate your own miniature star. Feeding it Hydrogen when needed. True, it is close to your original idea of nuclear fusion, but that’s just semantics. Did you want to get any of this down?”

John blinked as he registered being asked for input.

“Ah, I’ve got a good memory. And besides, anything I don’t understand is what Google is for.”

“Gah. All you Flyboys are the same,” He said derisively.

“How did you….”

“The Tags.”

John’s hand automatically came up to the chain around his neck. He’d worn them so long he had completely forgotten they were still there.

“Anyway,” the man did this strange hand-flappy thing that brought a smirk to John’s face. “What’s your email address? I’ll send you some links and titles to some books that should help you.”

“Uh, Thanks,” John said, surprised. “But I don’t-”

“You cannot be seriously that technologically deficient.” The man rolled his eyes theatrically.

“Yeah, well the last fifteen or so years email has been around, I’ve been overseas at war. It’s only the last few weeks that I’ve been back in civilian life.” John said sarcastically, slouching back in the chair.

“Medical Discharge?” The man asked, surprisingly gentle.

“Yeah, last month. Chopper went down under friendly fire. Kept the Colonel alive and well, but screwed my knee and broke the shin.” John said softly with a heavy sigh.

“So you thought you’d try your hand at being a science fiction author?” The man said, a good-natured smirk on his face.

John scratched the back of his neck, the only nervous twitch he knew he had, “Well, try as a hobby, to keep me occupied. If anything comes of it, well that’s a bonus.”

“Heh, well. Good luck. When you get an address, email me.” The man said, pulling a business card out of his wallet.

“Dr M. Rodney McKay. PhD. PhD. Mechanical Engineering and Astrophysics. Heh, well, I guess you know what you’re talking about then.” John read the card aloud with a laugh.

“Oh! Now you believe me!” McKay said dismissively.

“John Sheppard,” John replied, holding his hand out to shake.

“Yes, nice to meet you and all that.” McKay shook his hand quickly then drained the first coffee cup. “That’s yours, by the way. I asked the girl behind the desk what you were drinking.”

“Oh, thanks!” John was starting to get seasick from how fast McKay was speeding through emotions. Disdain to interest, to compassion, back to disdain then generosity.

“I’ve got to get back to the lab. Make sure the minions haven’t broken anything. They haven’t blown anything up yet. We would’ve been able to hear it.” McKay was saying half to himself as he grabbed up his bags again. “Email me,” he said by way of farewell.

John could only sit in stunned silence as Hurricane McKay disappeared out the door.

That night he created a generic Hotmail account and shot an email off to McKay. By the next morning, he had a reply with a long list of general science forums and links to online articles. At the end were a few texts that Rodney had thought would help if he needed any further detail on the science behind what he had been talking about. He had explained that these weren’t as wrong as most mainstream texts. These authors hadn’t gotten their PhD’s out of Wheaties Boxes.

After another round of excruciating P.T., he eventually made it to The Factory by lunch time. Using the hotspot function on his phone, he had just started going through the links when McKay rocked up.

“How’d you go with that list? Anything helpful?”

“Just starting to go through it,” John replied, pointing to the screen.

McKay snorted, “What were you doing all morning?”

“P.T.” Sheppard said with a grimace, McKay winced in sympathy.

“Ok, I’ll let you off for that one.”

“Gee, thanks, Rodney.”

For some reason, the simple use of McKay’s first name seemed to inspire a genuine smile from the man which could only leave John wondering.

“Have you decided what to go with, though?” Rodney asked when he came back with another coffee and sandwich.

“Maybe. I’m not certain yet. But I thought maybe the solar idea. Purely for the fact that using Crystal technology for mechanisms and interfaces sort of implies a purity or cleanliness of energy. Though I was wondering how you would be able to remove the helium produced so the reactors wouldn’t go nova.”

“You know,” McKay sat back in the chair across from John and observed him, “I don’t think any of my minions would have been capable of thinking of that as a problem. Which worries me, as it is what they are paid to do.”

John could only laugh at the sour expression on McKay’s face.

“I take it I passed the test then?”

“Hmm? Yes, quite.” Eventually, McKay shook himself and came back to the present. “Leave it with me, I’ll think about it. See if I can come up with anything.”

“Thanks. For all this actually,” John said.

“Don’t worry about it. If there could be one modern day Science Fiction Author that had an ounce of actual knowledge about the subject they were writing about, I’d be happy. Even if I have to educate that author myself.”

“Thanks.”

“What?”

“I’m assuming there’s a compliment in there somewhere.”

“Oh, sorry. You many have noticed I’m not exactly the nicest person,” Rodney said, chagrined.

“By the sounds of it, you have reason to be in a bad mood with little tolerance. Are they really that bad in their field?” John wondered.

“Most, but not all of them. I can’t really name name’s, classified project and all that. Hmm, we’ll call her the Geisha. She has promise. I was so glad when we managed to steal her from her home country. And she is just like a Geisha: strong, beautiful, full of poise and fire. One of my favourite past times is watching her take strips off Pony Tail Guy. Now him, he is a classic case of buying his doctorate. I’d say he might have blackmailed his way through his dissertation and defence, but that would imply intelligence when he plays at conniving. He’s not.” Rodney said with a nasty little smirk.

John just sat back and listened to Rodney rant about Ponytail Guy and his stupidity as well as the Geisha, and someone else he referred to as Zippy. Apparently, he talked really fast and not always in English.

It made for a nice break to hear about people in the real world. Since his stint in Antarctica, he had become somewhat of a loner. He didn’t want to think of the guys that had been in his regiment. He was too busy getting reprimanded and being sent to the furthest base from the United States to attend their funerals. As for his family, that was one door he did not want to darken again. He still had access to his trust fund which had been boosted substantially with all his untouched combat pay. But at the same time, he didn’t want to just mooch off that money for the rest of his life. Perhaps he’d get another job with a private company, flying jets or helicopters. Maybe even start his own helicopter company that did local tours. Either way, they were long terms ideas. At the moment he was enjoying the downtime, even if he was in pain. But it gave him the chance to exercise his brain, which was something he hadn’t had the chance to do previously in a very long time.

It was a week later that Rodney came back into the cafe again with a handful of papers and an excited grin on his face.

He had still come in each day for lunch and coffee, but he had never come in so late in the evening. John had just about finished packing up when he sat down at the table and started babbling.

“I’ve got it!!!” he said excitedly before going into an in-depth discussion including diagrams on just how they could inject the hydrogen and extract the helium from the vacuum.

“So you want to open a matter bridge between two vacuums?” John reiterated, mind boggling with all the technical jargon that had just been unloaded on him. He had some understanding of basic physics. Mainly just the high school level that had allowed him into the Air Force as a pilot.

McKay frowned, “Very simply, yes.”

“Well, my target audience won’t need to know the equations on how it’s achieved, but I think that’ll work once I’ve got the basics down in my head. Thanks!” John said enthusiastically as his mind spun with plot ideas on how he could create scenarios around possible problems or how it could be modified to power other things.

“You’re welcome. It’s given me a much-needed reprieve over the last few days from some of my other projects. Should have seen Zippy’s face when I started bouncing ideas off him,” McKay said as he finally settled down from the academic high. He finally looked around at the table and noticed that only the laptop power cord needed to be packed away.

“Sorry! I’m keeping you! I forget not everyone keeps the same works hours as I do.”

“Nah,” John said dismissively. “I’ve got nowhere to be. Just need to move around a bit to keep this from stiffening up.” He pointed to his leg. “You got anything planned?”

“Not really. Just the cat and some physics journals to ‘mark’,” He replied with an evil gleam.

“Let me buy you dinner for your help this week.”

“Oh, um sure.” Rodney agreed with a faint blush covering his cheeks.

“Awesome.‘Cos your driving and your choosing. I only know the take out joints near the base housing.” John informed him with a smirk.

“McKay just shook his head as he grabbed the laptop bag from off the table and hefted it over his shoulder. “Typical,” he muttered.

The restaurant they ended up at was a casual diner that had a wide variety on their menu.

They also seemed to know McKay very well. The waitress spent a good minute writing Rodney’s ‘usual’ down before she ever turned to John.

“So, Astrophysics. What made you go down that vein?” John asked as he poked his straw through the thick shake. Rodney had just shaken his head when he had ordered it.

“It was more interesting than the other topics. Besides, I’m a science fiction nerd at heart. Being able to understand the science of Star Trek and pushing the technology toward that level in the real world were too good to pass up.

“Yeah, I wanted to fly space ships,” John said with a big grin that had Rodney snorting. “NASA picks their astronauts from the Air Force. Apart from that, I just love flying. And Ferris wheels.”

“Ferris wheels?” Rodney asked with a derisive snort.

“Yep,” John said with a grin.

They were saved at that moment by the waitress returning with their meals.

“As per your normal requests, there is no citrus in any part of your meal, and all utensils and work surfaces were cleaned especially again before your meals were made. We also took the liberty with your guest’s meal, just in case.”

“Thanks, Casey,” Rodney said, embarrassment colouring his cheeks.

“No worries, Dr McKay. You know chef Bordin doesn’t mind,” she said with a smile, before leaving them in peace.

Nervously, Rodney just started eating, waiting for whatever it was that John was going to say.

“So Citrus. How bad?”

“Life-threatening if you were to breathe on me after a sip of OJ,” Rodney said into his waffles with a heavy sense of bitterness.

“Epi Pen?” John asked, his face a seeming casualness that Rodney had never seen before.

“Uh… Pants pocket. Usually a spare in whatever bag I have with me.”

John just nodded, starting in on his burger and fries.

A few awkward moments passed where they ate their meals in silence.

“I’m sorry,” Rodney said, not looking up.

“For what?” John replied, not looking up from his burger.

“I”m not sure, but I feel like I’ve done something, anyway.”

“You haven’t really. Just would have been good to know earlier. I’ve had juice at the Factory when you’ve been around shortly after.” John said, making Rodney feel guilty.

They finished their meals in silence, both in uneasy thought.

“Sorry to put a dampener on things, but I’ve seen enough death as it is, I don’t want to cause for if I can help it,” John admitted, uncomfortable with sharing more.

“No, I totally get it. It’s just not many people take me seriously, or frankly, seem to care that much,” Rodney admitted.

“Well I care, buddy,” John said with a smile. “Ice cream?”

~*~

Things picked up a little after that, but it wasn’t until two days later that they were back to their normal banter.

John continued to flesh out the plot as well as getting several thousand words down of the first chapters. He was quite pleased with his progress.

He was still exchanging emails with Rodney throughout the day as well as catching up for a while at lunchtimes.

It was just after a month when they’d had the allergy talk that Rodney brought someone else with him to lunch.

“John, this is Radek Zelenka. Or as you might know him, Zippy.” Rodney introduced them in a rush as he made his way to the line for coffee. Zelenka took a moment longer to shake hands with a quick quirk of a smile before he too joined the coffee line.

“God this coffee is good,” Radek said reverently, leaving his sandwich pushed to the side in favour of the Holy Brew.

“Told you,” Rodney said gleefully as he sipped his own happily.

“So you are science fiction author that McKay will not shut up about,” Zelenka started.

“Unless there’s any other writers out there he’s coaching that I don’t know about,” John said with his own smirk. He turned to Rodney, “You talk about me huh?” he ribbed with a quirk of the eyebrow.

“Oh shut up!”

“And what is this Zippy?” Zelenka asked with a derisive snort.

“Well, I didn’t want to breach anything that’s classified, including who we worked with. So I had to come up with something.” Rodney said defensively.

“And you couldn’t think of anything better than Zippy? Do I look like Kangaroo or something?” he came back, mock offended.

John couldn’t help laughing as he watched the two banter back and forth.

“So what are you writing about?” Zelenka asked once Rodney had started eating his lunch.

“Futuristic Sci-Fi. I’m trying to stay away from mainstream sci-fi, being such a sci-fi buff, it’s making it hard. Rodney’s been helping me with some of the technological aspects, making them believable anyway.

“By the time I’m through with him, publishers will be lining up to sign book deals.” Rodney boasted between mouthfuls.

“Well, you haven’t actually read any of it yet. I could be a really crappy writer,” John blushed, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Oh get off it! Your emails are perfectly legible. You’re also putting a lot of effort into it. Though, at the first mention of Vampires or Werewolves, I will disown you.” Rodney snarked.

“Just because they’re legible, doesn’t mean they’ll be enjoyable,” John snarked right back.

“Then practice, yes?” Zelenka butted back in. “And get different people to read?”

“It’s just a hobby,” John defended himself, though he wasn’t sure why.

“And that’s all it will be with that attitude,” Rodney said, suddenly coming across very serious. “If this is something you truly enjoy doing, and something you currently have the financial means to pursue, then what is there to lose?”

“Like that high school boy that wrote Eragon. Anyone can try,” Zelenka added.

John could only accept their well-meant guidance. Truthfully, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.

~*~

For the rest of the week, there was no mention from either Rodney or Zelenka about taking his writing more seriously. Zelenka had started coming in late morning to the cafe and having his lunch with John.

John learned that Zelenka was Rodney’s 2IC, so it stood to reason that they wouldn’t often come together. As Rodney had put it, someone had to watch the barely trained monkeys. But no matter what, Rodney was always at the cafe between twelve and one pm, and usually stuck around for just under an hour.

“I’m not sure why I bother,” Rodney grouched as he dumped his bag on his way to the counter to make his order.

John barely looked up from his screen at the apparent drive by.

A few minutes later, McKay was back and caressing his coffee mug, watching John.

Who still hadn’t looked up from his screen.

Rodney spent another few minutes watching Sheppard type. The waitress came and went, delivering his lunch and another coffee that Rodney hadn’t ordered.

Still, he was absorbed by the screen.

Knowing what it was like to be on a roll, Rodney let him get out what he needed to on the computer. Another twenty minute later, lunch was finished, his coffee long since gone. He was contemplating stealing John’s when the man glanced up from his screen to grab it himself that he finally saw McKay sitting across from him and jumped.

“Sorry, Rodney. How long have you been there?” John said, taking a moment to stretch.

“About half an hour,” Rodney smirked at John’s shocked expression. “How’s the book going?”

“Surprisingly well, actually,” John replied, seemingly surprised himself. Rodney noticed when he tried to stretch his leg out and barely stifled a pained gasp.

“How long have you been sitting here?” Rodney asked, rifling through John’s bag for his pain medication.

“Umm, since about 0800 this morning?”

Rodney could only smirk, all too familiar with the situation.

“Damn, my physio is going to kill me.” John moaned as he continued to stretch the joint out.

“That bad?” Rodney asked with a wince.

“My appointment is tomorrow. If it’s in good shape, he was going to schedule my next surgery.”

“Surgery? Again?” Rodney asked, “Did those voodoo doctors stuff something up?”

John laughed, “Nothing like that. There’s just only so much they can do each stage. I’ll have one more surgery after this before it’s all done.”

“That just plain sucks,” Rodney said emphatically.

“Yeah, it is.” John sighed. “Hows things going with you?”

“I fired the whole lot of them. Even Zelenka.”

John raised his eyebrow.

“They were all being idiots. Not one of them seemed able to follow any instructions and instead put us all in jeopardy. I have no room in my lab for stupidity,” Rodney ranted loudly.

John had to wonder what astrophysics had to do with anything that could explode, but he was used to classified and “Need to Know”. The first fifteen years of his service record spoke to that.

“So you gave them the afternoon off?”

“Two of them got the week off and are on two-month probation after that.” Rodney huffed.

“You can’t send them off to redo or get more training?” John asked, thinking of how it was done in the military.

“While I would love for most of these people to go back and redo their supposed qualifications, it’s mostly on the job training, and they just think they’re above pesky things such as risk procedures. It’s not like they’re there for a reason or anything,” Rodney snarled, but it seemed only half-hearted now, having lost some of the steam from earlier.

“There’s no OHS training that they can do, even just as punishment. If they pick anything up, all the better.” John asked, trying to help.

Rodney just smiled viciously, “That’s Monday morning, and the whole department is attending.”

 

TBC

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7 Responses to EAD’16 – SciFi Writer – SGA

  1. Pingback: Evil Author Day – 2016 | Anthea Davis

  2. MonkeyMel says:

    Good start.

    Like

  3. gail19 says:

    So good. I was drawn right into the story and so absorbed into the characterization that reaching the end was a shock.

    Like

  4. daisymay1 says:

    Ha. Love it. You got Rodney’s characterisation spot on. (And John & Zelenka’s too, it’s just that I could actually hear Rodney in my head.) Thank you

    Like

  5. AlisonK says:

    Excellent! As daisymay1 commented, you have really captured the voices. Thanks!

    Like

  6. Mysteryqueen says:

    lovely lovely start. As Gail said, above, reaching the end was a shock. I want to see more, but I’ll be patient. Good things come to those who wait! 🙂

    Like

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