Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Summary: AU. John Sheppard needs to prove his innocence. Unfortunately, he ends up with Rodney McKay in his stolen car.
“I said I was sorry.”
“Yeah, well, the searing burning in my neck actually kinda hurts.”
John’s hostage looked aggrieved, which seemed a bit rich to John, given that he was the one who’d just been attacked by the cigarette lighter.
“Pardon me for trying my best to escape from being KIDNAPPED by a LUNATIC!” His expression turned crafty. “Except you’re not a lunatic, are you? The crazy hair, the crazy eyes: it’s all a disguise. Ha! And you thought you could fool me! Me, Rodney McKay! Oh, I know what you’re up to, mister!”
“Uh-huh,” said John absently, probing gently at the burn on his neck. Then the diatribe sank in, and he glanced across, surprised. “Wait, Rodney McKay? The Rodney McKay?” Rodney preened at the recognition, though it didn’t last long. “Didn’t you win a Nobel or something?”
Rodney scowled. “No. That idea-stealing, research-cloning hack Lewenstein won it. What a bastard. You should have seen his face when he accepted. He even sent me an invitation to the presentation. Can you believe that? Wait… is he behind this? Oh, I bet he is, isn’t he? He knows I’m going to disprove his entire thesis ANY DAY NOW, and he’s trying to kill me before I ruin his ENTIRE LIFE, and he thinks that sending some kind of rakish ASSASSIN after me will actually work!”
“I’m not an assassin. And kidnapping you was entirely accidental.” And unwanted, thought John, as he wound in and out of traffic, the cops – the number of cars seeming to increase exponentially as time went on – close behind him. Why couldn’t it have been some mild-mannered kindergarten teacher or accountant or something in the gas station? Anyone, in fact, other than Rodney McKay, who was loud and annoying and, well, distracting.
Next to him, Rodney snorted. “An accident. Yeah. Right. You just happened to kidnap the world’s greatest mind. Wasn’t that a crazy stroke of luck?!”
“Not so much,” said John, pinching the bridge of his nose and thinking – just for a single, fleeting moment – that staying in prison might have been quite relaxing.
Captain Steven Caldwell wished very much that he was on holiday. Somewhere quiet, remote. Doing a little fishing. Drinking a few beers. That would have been nice. Anything, in fact, except presiding over the media circus that had developed over some guy taking Rodney McKay hostage. Actually, Caldwell had never heard of McKay until half an hour ago, and he’d been quite happy with that state of affairs. Except now McKay was a hostage in a car chase that was edging closer to the freeway, and it turned out he was a big deal. The governor had called. A senator had called. There’d even been a cryptic phone call from some high-ranking USAF officer. And now he had the man’s boss or ‘departmental director’ or what the hell ever marching through his office.
“Captain, it’s imperative you get McKay back safely,” Elizabeth Weir was saying, her voice stern. “He’s one of the brightest minds of the country. Not to mention the national security implications… in fact, I think you should really be thinking about involving the FBI. Or the NSA.”
“Ma’am, my men can cope with the situation. We’ll have Dr McKay back before you know it,” said Caldwell, hoping that was true, because he was pretty sure he didn’t want to deal with the fall-out.
“Have you even found out who it is that’s kidnapped him?” demanded Weir.
“We’re working on the security camera footage from the gas station,” he replied, gesturing her over to a computer. “How’s that going, Chuck?”
“Nearly there,” said Chuck, enhancing fuzzy black-and-white images. A clearer picture emerged, of a dark-haired man, his arm wrapped around McKay’s neck. Chuck started a cross-reference, and a result immediately popped up.
“John Sheppard,” he read out. “Just been convicted of fraud, theft, a bunch of other stuff. Escaped custody… hey, boss, isn’t he that guy we got a warning about? The escaped con?”
“You knew about this?”
Caldwell swiped a hand over his brow. This was going to be a long day.
Rodney was still expounding on his theory as to who had hired John to kidnap him, when his cellphone started ringing.
“It’s Elizabeth,” he said, keeping a wary eye on the gun in John’s lap. “She runs my department.”
John checked his mirrors again. Yep. There were still about a dozen police cars following them, at least two helicopters, and what he suspected were a couple of news crews. He smiled wryly at Rodney. “Well, it’s not like she doesn’t know where you are. Put it on loudspeaker.”
Rodney did as he was told. “Elizabeth?”
“Rodney – are you all right?”
“Well, I’ve been KIDNAPPED and terrified HALF TO DEATH and I haven’t eaten in an hour, so I think my hypoglycaemia’s going to kick in at any moment, and I haven’t decided yet whether it’s better to go into a coma and die slowly or just get shot by a ‘rival’ scientist – as if anyone’s even in the same stratosphere as me – and as for…”
“OK. So you’re fine.”
Rodney’s outrage was palpable. “Fine? Fine! Elizabeth, did you not just hear a word I said?”
“Yes, Rodney. Which is why I’m fairly sure you’ve not been hurt much. What does Sheppard want?”
“A good haircut?” hazarded Rodney. “Oh no, wait, he wants to KILL me!”
“Actually kinda don’t,” put in John, in what he suspected would be a futile effort to set the record straight.
“I’m impressed,” came the voice over the tinny loudspeaker of the cellphone. “I don’t think I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t want to kill Rodney after about five minutes.”
“Well, he’s under a lot of pressure,” said John diplomatically.
Rodney nodded. “Exactly. Anyway, Elizabeth, I think you should set the cops on Lewenstein. I’m pretty sure he’s behind this.”
“He’s really not,” said John, and was ignored.
Over the phone, a groan was clearly audible. “Rodney, will you please get over the Lewenstein thing! Just because he won—”
“—the Nobel, it doesn’t make him your nemesis. Anyway, he won it. I doubt he really cares about what you’re doing.”
Rodney looked savage. “Oh, he cares all right. He knows I’m going to disprove his little theory.”
“Well, the Nobel committee seemed to think it was just fine, so…”
“Actually, I saw some of his early work on it, and the math looked a little dodgy,” John threw in casually. The voice on the phone went silent, but Rodney merely seized on his statement.
“Exactly! I’m telling you, Elizabeth, it’s not going to be too long before everyone discovers that Lewenstein is the charlatan I… wait, what?” He stared at John, then back at the phone. “I’ll call you back,” he said, and hung up, looking at John triumphantly.
“So, you do work for Lewenstein!”
And that was it. That was enough. John had had quite enough of Rodney’s insanely paranoid suspicions. “No, I do NOT work Lewenstein! I don’t work for anyone! And hard as it may be for your ego to accept, I DIDN’T kidnap you deliberately, and believe me, if I could do it again, I would take the damned cashier! All I wanted was to find the proof to clear my name before I have to spend the rest of my life in prison thanks to that little weasel Kavanagh, who stole my designs and got me into a whole heap of trouble with the government and…”
“Wait a second – are you talking about Kavanagh with the ponytail and no social skills or functioning intelligence of his own? Works for some aeronautical company after he couldn’t hack it in academia?” John nodded. Rodney humphed. “Yeah, he’s a prick. So, what did he do?”
And John told him.
“They’ve gone onto the highway,” reported Chuck. Caldwell resisted the urge to resign as Jeannie Miller – McKay’s sister – peered at the TV screen.
“That’s bad, right? Plus, Meredith’s never been great at anything over about sixty.”
Weir patted the blonde woman on the arm. “He’ll be fine,” she said reassuringly.
“Yeah. But he’s probably freaking out.”
“Batman?! Oh, that is so lame!”
“What, and Superman isn’t?”
“Whatever. You suck.”