When Rodney was first informed about the Stargate Program (after what seemed like an infinite amount of paperwork with such tiny print and convoluted legal jargon that he wouldn‘t be surprised if he‘d inadvertently signed away his soul to the U.S. Government) his response had been a neutral, “Huh.” The agents, having conducted such briefings numerous times, were used to a wide range of reactions after enlightening someone as to the true nature of the universe, life, and everything you thought you knew but didn’t really because obviously you missed the part about wormholes and aliens. Usually there was disbelief, laughter, belligerence, annoyance, tears, shouts, fainting, and on one very memorable occasion: projectile vomiting.
The agents (their names are not important, Rodney himself never took the time to learn them and in fact, he completely forgot about their existence after learning that he would be working with alien technology) had been witness to a few quiet reactions which were quickly followed by something much louder, dramatic, and often times quite messy. They stared at Rodney expectantly with badly feigned empathy.
Rodney didn’t have the heart to tell them that he’d been well aware of the existence of sentient and technologically advanced life outside of Earth since he was sixteen so he ranted about “secret conspiracies”, “the utter cliché of evil, bodysnatching aliens”, and “the utter stupidity of the United States government” to make them feel better. (Actually, that’s a complete and utter lie and anyone who has actually met Rodney would tell you that the man relished each and every opportunity to tell everyone how absolutely wrong, wrong, wrong they were. But since he didn’t fancy being snatched by spooks, interrogated, and most probably tortured, he kept his mouth shut and contented himself with radiating smugness at the ignorance of everyone around him.)
No one would be particularly surprised to learn that Rodney McKay was an arrogant little snot at sixteen.
Rodney McKay was a genius. He knew it and he made sure everyone else did, too.
He reconsidered his stance on self-promotion as he awoke, groggy and disoriented in a tiny, box-like room (four walls, sealed door and nothing else).
Genius that he was, he considered various scenarios before alighting on the most probable.
Understandable yet very shortsighted. He was a genius, but he knew that he was nowhere near the level he could be with more instruction, more knowledge, more time.
Unless, of course, all his captors wanted was someone to build them bombs.
“Fabulous,” he hissed sarcastically as he dragged himself to his feet.
Rodney deliberated on his options. He could call out--and draw attention and be put to work on weapons of mass destruction that would kill people. No. Next option. He could wait meekly--oh, who the hell was he kidding? When had he ever been meek?
“Be brilliant and figure something out, it is,” he muttered to the walls.
“This is very flattering, really, it is, but I really think you should reconsider--”
The right wall of his box reverberated with the force of the shutting door.
Rodney forced himself to count off an entire minute before raising his voice. “Hello! Can you hear me?” He thumped on the appropriate wall for emphasis.
“Hullo! I can hear you perfectly, actually. Not as well as I could have before, but then I did have bigger ears then. Who are you?” The man was British, a babbler, and clearly insane.
“Rodney McKay!” he answered (because the man might be insane but he was the only thing Rodney had at the moment).
“Rodney McKay? Doctor Rodney McKay? Really? Oh, that’s just brilliant! I’ve been meaning to speak to you about--”
Annoyed and more than slightly suspicious, Rodney interrupted. “I’m not a doctor, yet!” he emphasized. “And who the hell are you? And where are we? And what the fuck is happening?”
“You’re not a doctor? Are you sure?”
Rodney wondered whether it was possible to reach such levels of aggravation that he could tear through the wall and strangle the man. The thought was more than a little appealing.
“When I get my PhD, I will always introduce myself as Dr. Rodney McKay,” he shouted.
His cell door opened.
“What, no Meredith? Well, I suppose I‘ve no leg to stand on either. My name‘s a bit rubbish, too.”
Rodney hissed at the name and glared at his “rescuer”. The crazy hair (he’d always blame this encounter for his issues--becoming irrationally aggravated at the sight of unbelievably messy hair), presumptuous eyewear, wrinkled brown suit, pretentious overcoat, and ragged Chucks made an absolutely ridiculous picture. Clearly, the man was trying too hard. But he’d saved the greatest mind since Einstein so Rodney was in a rather forgiving mood.
“How’d you get the door open?” Rodney asked in lieu of any sort of gratitude as he stood and scrambled towards the door.
The man waggled his eyebrows and twirled what looked like a fat, novelty pen between his fingers. “Sonic Screwdriver.”
“Screwdriver. It has oh, a couple thousand settings. Opening a locked door is a snap!” He snapped his fingers as he started down the corridor at a brisk jog.
“Right,” Rodney mocked as he followed. “You still haven’t answered the rest of my questions!”
The man let out a put upon sigh. “I’m the Doctor, we’re on a Firgvulinian ship, and I’m saving you and various other oblivious little geniuses from being abducted. And by abducted, I mean taken to take part in their sacred Kih’lat’jir’fup ritual where they‘ll bash your head in and offer your brains to their High Chancellor. They believe that by consuming your brain they can acquire your intellect and become smarter. Silly, of course, especially since they have hyper drive capabilities but it’s the way it’s been done for centuries and, well, they probably think ‘why mess with a good thing’ ey?”
“Firgvulinian? Brains?” Rodney repeated weakly as he raced to keep up. “Hyper drives?!”
“Yes, Firgvulinians from the planet Firgvulin in the Nurmidian System. It’s a ways away. Took them, oh, I dunno, a year or so to get here. Of course, you were the first one they found--I would have guessed they’d go for Samantha Carter first--and their whole scheme was pushed off schedule when they found me on board. So it’s just you and me against a hoard of Firgvulinians.”
“Who the hell is Samantha Carter? Why would they need her when they have me? I‘m all the brains insane, brain-eating Firgvulians need!”
Clearly, Rodney was being drawn into the blatantly crazy man’s delusions.
Rodney shook his head and chided himself for pandering to the man’s fantasies. “You’re insane,” Rodney stated.
“Only a little bit,” The Doctor winked. “But I’ve only told the truth. Look to your right if you don’t believe me.”
Rodney McKay was a genius. When presented with proof of something he wouldn’t waste time trying to deny and reject the impossible; he’d tackle the information with his formidable brain and demand answers to his questions until he made sense of it all. Until it all fell into place and became as effortless as breathing.
At sixteen, Rodney McKay did not believe the word ‘impossible’ existed.
“Okay,” Rodney’s voice couldn’t convey all the awe he was feeling, his eyes couldn’t look away from the sight of the Earth below him (they were right above Africa!). “Aliens want my brain. I like my brain. And I suppose if there are no other marginally intelligent people then no one could even attempt to understand my genius and that would be unpardonable, so we can save the other geeks, too. How do we stop them?”
The Doctor laughed. “You’re not too bad, Rodney.”
Rodney did not blush. “Yes, well don’t you go lusting after my brain, too!”
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” the Doctor teased. “Now, we just have to erase their data, destroy their teleport and send them back on their way to the Nurmidian System.”
“What kind of alien are you?” Rodney asked boldly.
The Doctor looked a little impressed, at least. “None that you’ve ever heard of.”
Rodney only looked like he was pouting. He brightened. “Hey! Does this mean that screwdriver thing really works? I could use something like that because Jeannie--”
The Doctor cleared his throat pointedly. “Goodness, you‘ve got a gob. Might even stand a chance against mine. No, you can’t use my sonic screwdriver, it’s mine. Now, back to business. Here’s the plan…”
“That’s a stupid plan,” Rodney criticized.
“Don’t knock the stupid plans,” the Doctor chastised. “They work.”
“Oh, God. We’re gonna die. My brains are going to be eaten!”
“OH, MY GOD! I’M GONNA DIE AND I STILL HAVEN’T WON MY NOBEL!”
“Rodney? Rodney! Are you tracking?”
“Yes, yes. I saved your life.”
“No, you idiot! You have this beautiful, marvelous--I think I’m in love.”
“With my TARDIS? You haven’t been the first to say so.”
“I want to see everything.”
“HEY! Don’t touch that!”
“I can’t believe that worked,” Rodney muttered, still slightly dazed from from thwarting an alien abduction and his frenetic dash around the TARDIS console; touching and poking and riding the biggest, fucking high ever. He didn't know how long the Doctor had indulged him but it wasn't enough. He still couldn’t look away from her, his eyes were unblinking and his fingers itched to touch her.
“You’d be surprised how often stupid plans work when thwarting devious plans,” the Doctor chuckled.
“For a space capable species they were pretty stupid,” Rodney sneered.
"True," the Doctor conceded with a hum. “Well, then! That’s that, I suppose. You’ll be wanting to get back home. I’ll set you down--”
“No!” Rodney shouted desperately.
The Doctor arched an eyebrow.
“I want to come with you,” Rodney said defiantly.
The Doctor shut down. Rodney saw it and barely contained his instinctual flinch. He bit his lip, unsure as to whether he should apologize or keep quiet. Neither option ever worked with his parents, but The Doctor was an alien, he‘d saved Rodney‘s life and he had a ship that was a thousand times better than anything science fiction had envisioned. And Rodney was a genius, he could keep up with the Doctor in any situation and maybe even help!
“No,” was the Doctor’s answer.
Rodney opened his mouth to argue.
He shut it and looked away from cold, grieving, alien eyes.
“Here we are,” the Doctor cried with exuberance.
Rodney wasn’t fooled by the big grin and energetic gestures.
“Thanks,” Rodney said, hoping he didn’t sound sullen and childish. He patted the console (he would always swear that she hummed at that) and leisurely made his way to the door.
“Rodney,” the Doctor called.
“I believe that’s my sonic screwdriver in your pocket,” the Doctor observed mildly.
Rodney tried to look innocent. Judging by the look on the Doctor’s face, he’d failed miserably. He sighed, reached into his pocket, and withdrew the item in question.
“Trade you for the TARDIS?” Rodney joked feebly.
The Doctor smiled, a small curl of the lips, so very different from his toothy grins and insolent smirks. It looked real.
He took the sonic screwdriver, laid a hand on Rodney’s shoulder and squeezed as he led him through the TARDIS doors. “You won’t need one, trust me.”
“Be brilliant, Dr. Rodney McKay!” the Doctor called as he dashed through the doors and slammed them shut.
“Wait! Was that a hint? Were you telling me my future? You so were! No one likes enigmatic! Doctor? Doctor!”
Rodney couldn’t even glare at the awesome sight of a dematerializing TARDIS; it was just too breathtaking.
The Doctor wanted brilliant? Rodney would show him brilliant. He’d outshine everyone, especially that Carter girl the Doctor had mentioned.
Now, how to design hyper drive engines, verify the possibility of time travel, and create his own TARDIS?
He could do it. He was Rodney McKay! First though, he needed something a little more sonic.