Spoiler: The Storm/The Eye
Summary: "Haven't you noticed that we're about ten miles from the coast of...anything?"
"What have you got there, McKay?" John asked as Rodney furtively stuffed something into his pack. "Come on, let us see."
"It's none of your business, major," Rodney said as he fastened the strap and snugged it tight.
"It's contraband," John concluded with a smirk. "All right, if you don't want to share, we can take a hint. Come on, lieutenant." Aiden glanced over his shoulder at Rodney and then followed John into the puddle jumper. Rodney sighed in relief, until he realized that he was still being observed.
"Are you carrying contraband, Dr. McKay?" Teyla asked bluntly.
"No. No...it's just something Halling gave me."
"Halling gave you something," she said doubtfully.
"Well, actually, I bartered for it," Rodney explained, carefully setting the pack at his feet when he took his seat.
"Are we all set?" John asked as he started the jumper's engines. "Lieutenant?" Aiden nodded, stealing another curious glance in Rodney's direction.
"What did you barter for?" Teyla asked once the jumper was in the air and on its way back to Atlantis.
"I'd rather not say," Rodney replied tersely.
"Well, then, what did you barter with?" John persisted.
"What is this, an inquisition?" Rodney cried. Aiden turned and looked at him once more.
"Oh, now you've got to tell us, McKay. I won't sleep tonight till I find out what's in that bag," John teased.
"Candles, okay! Halling gave me candles! There! Are you happy?" Rodney sighed and slouched miserably in his seat. Aiden smiled and turned his eyes forward, but John was not so easily satisfied.
"What the hell do you need candles for?"
"You know... In case it gets dark," he muttered. Not unexpectedly, John found the notion hilarious. Aiden glanced at him and winced, but otherwise remained focused on the horizon.
"Come on, Rodney! You know better than anyone how Atlantis functions. If our ZPM fizzled out a lack of light would be the least of our problems."
"Perhaps Dr. McKay plans to assure a lack of light," Teyla suggested archly.
"What; you think he's planning to get a little action?" John said. "You have got to be shitting me!" He turned to stare at Rodney. "McKay?" Rodney turned toward the console at the rear of the cabin and refused to engage with him. "Come on, Rodney, you've got to tell us who the lucky girl is."
"Uh oh," Rodney said, ignoring John to study something on the screen before him. He abruptly rose and went to the main console. He leaned over Aiden and began to to punch in something. A holographic display appeared before them.
"What the hell are you--?" John fell silent as he caught a glimpse of what Rodney was focused on.
"What is that?" Aiden asked.
"A storm," Rodney replied. "A very serious storm."
"Can we outrun it?" John asked.
"I suppose there's a slim chance, major, if by 'outrun it' you mean reversing our direction and circling the planet." Rodney said. "At its current speed I'm not sure we'd be able to stay far ahead of it for more than ten, twenty minutes tops."
"Flight, this is Major Sheppard. Come in, flight!" John shouted worriedly.
"We read you, John," Elizabeth replied from the city. "What's wrong?"
"We're picking up a storm headed your way," he said, but Rodney tapped his shoulder and pointed at the hologram.
"Not your way, Elizabeth," he said. "Ours. Atlantis is perfectly safe. We, however, are in dire peril."
"How dire?" Elizabeth asked. Aiden looked up and met Rodney's eyes. Rodney immediately became lost in them until Elizabeth's insistent voice brought him back to the situation at hand.
"Well, it's nowhere near as big as the storm that hit the city, but it's big enough to make things very difficult for us."
"Can you make it back to the mainland?" she asked.
"No," Rodney said. "The major has already turned the jumper around, but the storm's picking up speed. The good news is that it's small and fairly localized. The worst of it should miss the mainland. They'll probably just get a little rain."
The jumper sped up and Aiden grabbed hold of Rodney's arm when turbulence suddenly shook the craft. Rodney reached out for his chair. Teyla saw Aiden grab his hand and squeeze it when he sat down. He turned back to the console, leaving Rodney to deal with her questioning gaze, but she, too, reached out and gave his hand a reassuring squeeze.
"We'll get through this," John said through gritted teeth. "If we aren't blown out of the sky." Rodney nodded nervously.
"Can't we land or something?" Aiden said when a second wave of turbulence slammed into the small ship.
"Land?" John spat, his concentration riveted to the task of piloting the jumper. "Haven't you noticed that we're about ten miles from the coast of...anything?"
"I know!" Aiden replied. "I meant, well, couldn't we land on the water? These things float, don't they? You once told me that the jumpers were probably meant to be submersible. Couldn't we ride out the storm underwater?"
"Are you nuts?" John cried.
"No, no, not nuts," Rodney shouted, rising and stumbling forward, practically ending up in Aiden's lap. "Not nuts at all. In fact, he's brilliant! All this time I thought you were just a pretty face. You've been hiding a brain behind it, haven't you?" Rodney said as he reached over Aiden and began to do calculations on the console, seeking the information he needed. "Take her down, major," he said, grinning at Aiden.
"It was just a theory!" John cried. "Zelenka said--."
"Never mind Zelenka! It's not a theory," Rodney replied. "We know that the jumpers are fully submersible to a depth of at least five hundred meters. We won't need to go anywhere near that far down. A half hour ought to do it. Elizabeth!" he shouted as he stumbled yet again. Aiden held him securely till the turbulence eased and then moved out of his seat so that Rodney could take his place. Rodney quickly alerted Elizabeth to his plan and seconds later, the jumper plunged into the water. "Turn off the engines, major," Rodney ordered.
"Just do it." The ship went completely dark and for a few moments, the team held its collective breath. After a while, their eyes adjusted to the dim light and they stared through the jumper's windshield at the vast blue ocean before them.
"Fish," John said after a few minutes. "That reminds me; I'm hungry. Break out a few MREs lieutenant."
"You can eat at a time like this?" Aiden asked incredulously.
"We're fine. At this depth, we're not even stressing the hull." As John spoke the ship shuddered. "Besides, I missed lunch," he said reasonably. "So what are we doing, McKay, hiding out from the storm?"
"A storm carries a lot of electrical energy. It's just precautionary," Rodney replied as he opened his pack and pulled out an apple-like fruit.
"Hey! You told us you bartered for candles," John said accusingly.
"I did! I picked this on my way to check on the generator," Rodney said defensively.
"How about those MREs, Ford?" John asked. Aiden sighed and rose to his feet. He pulled out a small flashlight and went to the rear section of the jumper, using the manual control to open the door.
"I thought this thing had inertial dampeners," he said as he returned with the rations. He leaned against the back of Teyla's chair when the ship bobbed again.
"They don't work when the engines are off," John explained.
"Can't you turn them on? I'm getting seasick," Aiden complained. "In fact, why can't we just travel back to the city under the water?"
"Why? I'm kind of enjoying this," John said with a smile. He took one of the MREs from Aiden and ripped it open. "Mac and cheese; I was kind of hoping for fish sticks."
"Really, sir," Aiden said sometime later. "We don't have to stay down here a whole half hour, do we?"
"Actually, I think Ford's right. We can go home now, major," Rodney said, smiling.
"You're the one who said we should shut everything down!" John complained.
"And now I'm saying otherwise. The worst of the storm ought to be well past us by now. It's been nearly twenty minutes."
"You really do have a hot date tonight, don't you?" John said with a sidelong glance as he started the jumper.
"Maybe," Rodney said with a glance over his shoulder. He pulled out his flashlight and searched the dark for Aiden. Not finding him, he rose and went into the rear compartment, where he found Aiden sitting on a bench. "Are you okay?" he asked, kneeling beside him and raising his light to study Aiden's face.
"Yeah. I'm just--. Well, let's just say there's a reason I chose the Marines over the Navy."
"We'll have you home in no time."
"I--." Aiden took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. "I may not be up to that dinner tonight, doc."
"I can wait," Rodney said. He patted Aiden's hand affectionately and rejoined the others.