Pairing: All and sundry
Word Count: This part 1,482
Notes: The title comes from the Buffy episode where Xander is left alone to save the day because everyone else is "occupied".
Prompt: Chuck Campbell is the only one on Atlantis not affected by some alien-mating-voo-doo ray.
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue, no offense, no money.
Thanks to *superfox* for the beta.
Summary: Having received no response to his panicked call for Doctor Beckett, Chuck had tried Rodney, John and then in desperation Elizabeth but no one was answering. After wrestling Angie back into her chair after she’d tried to remove his belt with her teeth, he’d apologetically tied her to it with the same belt and then had beat a hasty retreat when she’d seemed pleased about it.
The night shift pretty well sucked.
Atlantis was lonely and cavernous when not many people were about. Chuck hadn’t realised how much he’d come to rely on other people to fill up the empty spaces, but he’d been a month on the nightshift and it was really starting to bug him.
Every now and again a group of marines would pass on their patrols, but other than that and a small fellow technician named Angie who stared at him as if he were crazy every time he tried to strike up a conversation, it was a lonely time.
“See the galaxy my ass,” Chuck grumbled and Angie snapped her head around, eyes narrowing.
“Did you say something?” she asked, suspicion in her tone.
“Now why would I do that? Say, don’t they make you take a psyche exam before they cart you off to another Galaxy, or were people so sick of you on Earth that you were shipped here to give them a break?”
Okay, so Chuck wished he had said that, instead of just mumbling “No,” and staring at his hands.
Unauthorised ‘gate activation wasn’t that unusual.
Chuck would come on alert, ready to advise anyone necessary, but usually it came to nothing. He was even starting to get used to the dull thuds that meant something or someone had tried to come through with no forewarning. It was always necessary to advise someone senior when this happened, but considering it was four in the morning and Sheppard’s team had just come in two hours earlier, Elizabeth following them to bed only just after they had been cleared out of the infirmary, Chuck wasn’t looking forward to making that call.
There was a dull, concussive whump and then the ‘gate shut down and then… nothing. Angie had gone for coffee and Chuck was by himself, hand hovering at his ear piece when the strange wailing emergency alarm started up and the control room closed itself off with a series of ominous thuds.
“Oh crap,” Chuck sighed.
Twenty minutes later, the control room section finally opened up again and standing outside with a laptop hugged to his chest and his hair sticking up in the back was McKay, glowering sullenly.
“What did you do?” he demanded as he elbowed past Chuck and thumped his laptop down on the console and plugged in. John and Elizabeth trailed in after them, both looking tired but curious.
“No talking!” Rodney snapped, hooking a chair with his foot and dragging it underneath him. He knocked his forehead twice with a fist and then bent to the task at hand.
“Are you alright?” Elizabeth asked, touching his elbow and Chuck looked at her and then realised that the question had actually been aimed at him.
“Oh, yes. Fine.” He nodded at her relieved smile.
“Did you do anything while you were in here?” Rodney demanded.
“Yes,” Chuck responded, wanting to be snotty but resisting the temptation. “The ‘gate activated and I brought up the shield. There was a concussive noise and then the automatic quarantine system came into effect because a biological agent was detected.”
“Just in here?” Elizabeth asked, nudging John whose face had been swallowed by a giant yawn. He scratched his head and gave her a ‘What?’ look.
“No-o,” Chuck said, eyeing them both. “The quarantine should have blocked off all inhabited parts of the city, just like the nano-virus outbreak. Standard procedure.”
“Well, we didn’t-“ John began but was cut off by Rodney gesturing wildly.
“Failures all across the board! This is ridiculous!”
“Failures? Rodney, what-“ Elizabeth was cut off also.
“It’s here. Biological agent detected and city goes into self-protection mode. Then nothing but a series of rolling failures right after the control room was sealed off.” Rodney turned in his chair and glared at Chuck. “What did you do?” he demanded again.
“Rodney, he didn’t do anything,” John sighed. “Anyway, didn’t the Ancients build backups or something? How could we have had a failure this bad?”
“Ah, well yes, the Ancients had backups and redundancies up the wazoo.” Rodney had swung back around to the console, allowing John to turn to Elizabeth, raise his eyebrows and mouth the word ‘wazoo’ with a comic eyebrow waggle. “But since everything we do is kind of mish-mashed and cobbled together and we have one partially full ZPM instead of an unlimited supply of full ones, we tend to go…without.”
“Without?” Elizabeth asked in an arch tone that led Chuck to believe that there would be further conversation on the subject later.
“The way we’re running at the moment, unfortunately Atlantis is like a string of Christmas lights.”
“Is anyone else deeply confused?” John asked.
“What I mean is, we have one system failure and it will affect a whole series of related systems. It’s just unavoidable with our current level of populace and the research we’re doing.”
“Alright, we’ll discuss that later. For now I want to know that this was a false alarm or the biological agent was harmless. The alert didn’t seem to last very long.” Elizabeth interjected.
“Well, we’re showing a clear city across the board now. Maybe it was just an anomaly,” Rodney agreed, looking hopeful.
“But the ‘gate activated just before and something definitely happened. I don’t think it was just a glitch,” Chuck said and all three looked at him.
“Well Mr Downer, you can just reassure yourself with the fact that if something did happen, you’re probably the only one that’s going to survive.”
“Rodney!” Elizabeth snapped and Rodney flushed.
“Sorry, impending doom makes me crabby.”
With nothing to do but test every member of Atlantis for infection from the most senior staff down, everyone returned to what they had been doing except those first in the queue, waiting for their call to the infirmary. For the majority of the populace, that meant going back to bed but for Chuck it was back to nightshift.
Angie returned after another hour had passed, two cups of coffee in hand. She handed Chuck one with a small smile and he blinked at her.
“Um, are you okay?” he asked when she dropped into the chair next to him and pulled it closer.
“Sure, fine,” she said, her smile turning impish and he hadn’t even realised that her face was capable of any expressions other than frowning or glaring. To make matters more bizarre, she rested a hand on his shoulder and looked up at him through her lashes.
Chuck thumbed his radio.
“Doctor Beckett!” he yelped.
Having received no response to his panicked call for Doctor Beckett, Chuck tried Rodney, John and then in desperation, Elizabeth but no one was answering. After wrestling Angie back into her chair after she’d tried to remove his belt with her teeth, he’d apologetically tied her to it with the same belt and then had beat a hasty retreat when she’d seemed pleased about it.
A disturbing amount of radio silence met his pleas for assistance when he went out on the public channel so Chuck resolved himself to actually going and getting someone, dreading that Rodney’s joke of earlier was close to the truth.
Major Lorne’s quarters were nearest to the gateroom of all the senior military personnel so Chuck headed there first. He knocked on the door for what seemed like an hour before finally working up the nerve to just pass a hand over the door sensor and step inside.
“Major Lorne?” Chuck said, stepping into the gloom and fearing the worst when he heard moaning coming from the bed, but then backed up fast when he realised there was more than one voice.
“Oh, hi!” Teyla said brightly, emerging from under the blankets. There was a squawk of protest and then Ronon tumbled out of the bed and fell to the floor.
“That wasn’t necessary,” he snarled as finally Lorne appeared, looking smug.
“I told you not to tickle me,” Lorne grinned, unrepentant and Chuck, eyes so wide that they threatened to drop right out of his head, backed out of the room by feel and only breathed again when the door closed.
Chuck was sitting outside the infirmary with his back against the wall and his knees drawn up to his chest, chewing on the material of one sleeve. He’d gone to see Doctor Beckett next and had encountered more pale Scottish flesh that he’d ever intended to, plus quite a fair bit of Laura Cadman’s to boot and he wasn’t that comfortable seeing an explosives expert in her full glory.
He knew his next logical step was to seek out either Colonel Sheppard, Doctor McKay or Doctor Weir, but he needed a few moments to… work up to it.
He was starting to suspect what was going on and Chuck had never needed a drink more in his life.