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26 October 2009 @ 09:49 pm
Like Thermodynamics (SG-Prompts #29: Luck)  
Title: Like Thermodynamics (sg_prompts #29: Luck)
Author: michelel72
Series: Crossover? (SG-1 timeline, pre-SGA)
Genre/Rating: Gen; Teen for themes
Wordcount: ~2400
Timeline/Spoilers: AU of SG-1 5x14 "48 Hours"; includes spoilers for SGA 3x08 "McKay and Mrs. Miller"
: Major character deaths; a little gore; dark.
Disclaimer: Plot mine; Stargate characters and environments not mine. (Transformative work.)
Notes/Credits: This is not in the same continuity as my "Remorse". I won't be continuing this 'verse, but anyone else who wants to pick it up may feel free. Beta by (and my profound thanks to) valleya and greyias, who helped me with characterization particularly and who reinforced my faith in the beta process; any remaining errors or problems are of course my own.
Audio: Podfic by sophia_sol
Archives: At Dreamwidth; At AO3

Summary: Unlike Sam Carter, Rodney McKay did not rely on luck … and unfortunately for everyone, he was right.

Zeroth: You must play the game.
First: You can't win.
Second: You can't break even.
Third: You can't quit the game.
— The Laws of Thermodynamics, as summarized by C. P. Snow

Rodney McKay did not consider himself a lucky man, simply because he didn't consider "luck" a rational concept. He had worked very hard to accomplish what he had in his life; his successes and failures could be ascribed to specific causes. He didn't depend on luck or blame his setbacks on unluckiness, and he felt only derision for those who did. Working at a facility located near Las Vegas gave him ample opportunity to mock those who handed their money over to the casinos on the theory their luck was good or was due to turn around soon.

Despite that long-held worldview, he suspected his being alive at the moment had as much to do with luck as anything else.

He was lucky that he had disregarded his attraction to Carter to speak up when he had, trying to warn them that the Goa'uld's scheme for the DHD was far more likely to explode the gate than to magically produce their missing team member. He was lucky they had all disliked him enough to rush him out of the mountain before they tried it. He was lucky the driver had directed him into the back seat of the car. He was lucky they had made good time moving away from the mountain. He was lucky there were just enough buildings between the car and the mountain to absorb most of the force of the blast. He was lucky the seat belt hadn't failed when the driver lost control. He was lucky he was sitting on the right side of the car when momentum threw them both left, relatively speaking.

The driver hadn't been as lucky. They were far enough away or shielded enough or positioned just precisely enough that the car's windows hadn't shattered and fallen away with the explosion; the one next to the driver's head had been intact and solid when his head struck it.

Rodney reached forward shakily to check for a pulse at the man's neck, but he wasn't surprised to find nothing, not when he could see entirely too much organic matter smeared on the cracked and crazed glass.

He released his own seat belt and climbed carefully out of the car, his ears ringing. He wiped at moisture on his upper lip and his hand came away bloody. He would have panicked, but he was too stunned at what had happened.

He wasn't surprised. He had predicted it, after all. The scope of it was humbling, though, and he hadn't wanted it to happen. And he also wouldn't be surprised if he turned out to have a mild concussion. Everything seemed remote, a little unreal.

A cloud rose in the distance. Rodney could see people with mouths wide, presumably screaming, though he heard them only faintly through the ringing. A few fell to their knees as if praying. One person kept shouting something that sounded like nuclear war, and in a calmer time Rodney would have spent hours lecturing him about the properties of matter and explosions. A mushroom cloud would form with any sufficiently large explosion, not only atomic ones.

He was in fact a little surprised the explosion hadn't been larger. The gate was naquadah, after all. Then again, it was under quite a lot of mountain, which had apparently blunted the worst of the force, and the explosion itself might not have consumed all the gate material cleanly. He would run the math on that, but … later. Later. That was academic, and he had far more pressing problems.

He pulled out his cell phone and dialed, his mind racing. He didn't have the number programmed, not after the way they'd been fighting, but it was easy enough to remember. The call failed the first four times, which was no surprise at all, but it connected on the fifth. Luck? The answering voice was probably her. "Jeannie?"

"Oh, what now?" Jeannie snapped, her voice distant and faint. "If you think —"

"Shut up, no time," he said. "Explosion. Huge. Get to the store, stock up. Staples, non-perishables. Hurry, before news gets out."

"Ow, Mer, quit yelling —"

"Hurry. Might destabilize the continental shelf, atmospheric effects, I don't know. Oh, your meds, refill those too, if you can. Be careful. Take care of yourself."

"Mer? Is that — are you —?" Her voice was louder, sounding scared, but he hung up on her. He couldn't count on the connection to remain stable much longer, not as more people started trying to call out, and he ought to free up the tower for emergency communication anyway. He had just needed to warn her, because they might not get along, but he cared whether she survived.

He turned back to the car. It had slammed sideways into a building, and the front end looked intact, so it might still run. Yet more luck? He opened the passenger door, released the driver's seat belt, and wrestled the man out of the car, trying not to look at him any more than he had to. He couldn't do anything to help the man, and he needed the car, but he'd never had to touch a dead body before and he hoped he never would again. He swallowed heavily a few times and the slop from the SGC commissary did stay down, barely.

He straightened the body as best he could and muttered an apology. He was just wishing for something to cover the man's face with when he noticed the driver's coat, the one he had taken off as they got into the car, the one that had been dragged along as Rodney pulled the man's body across the seat. He used it to cover the man's face. That didn't make him feel as much better as he had hoped it would.

Rodney started to climb back into the car but hesitated. After a few more seconds, and with another apology, he went ahead and took the man's sidearm. Just in case. He wasn't in Canada anymore, and he had just become one of the most important people in the world — far more than he had already been.

There was nothing for him to do here, no reason to linger. His training for handling lab accidents would be of little use. The few actual injuries and accidents around him were being dealt with by others who had some idea what to do, and he certainly wouldn't be any use calming anyone. He doubted any of them were in any real danger past their immediate alarm anyway, despite what he'd told Jeannie. He wasn't a geologist, a seismologist, even a volcanologist, and he had never dreamed he would need to know anything from those fields; but as his mind cleared from the first shock, he found himself doubting the explosion had been quite big enough to be that disastrous. He couldn't be positive what would happen now, though, so he had no advice or reassurance to offer them either. Whatever decisions they made about leaving or staying would be just as valid as his own.

But Earth's safety depended on Stargate access, especially considering that the American gate had been lost as part of what was surely a more detailed Goa'uld plot, and continued Stargate access now depended on him. He needed to move somewhere far safer for him personally, not just in terms of the immediate disaster but also in terms of people and politics.

Back in the car, he grimaced at the side window. Having that in the corner of his vision was going to make him sick. The car's engine didn't seem to be running, but the key was still turned forward, leaving the accessories engaged. With a grinding noise he could hear even over the ringing that still filled his ears, the window eventually responded to the control and moved downward in a series of jerks. It was cold, but he couldn't bear seeing that mess any longer and he didn't trust the window mechanism to work again, so down it would stay.

He tried starting the engine back up and it caught quickly. He then tried easing it forward, and it felt a bit wobbly, but it moved. There was little by way of traffic or other obstacles as he headed away from the abating chaos, too, and all the little signs of comparatively good fortune were starting to creep him out.

Carter had counted on luck.

Working at Area 51, Rodney had heard all the stories about SG-1. They escaped harm and disaster time and time again, pulling success from the most certain of failures. Everyone had agreed they were good, but everyone had also agreed they were inordinately lucky.

The problem with counting on luck so heavily was that it eventually ran out.

Did luck operate under conservation principles? Had SG-1 relied so heavily on good luck that a true disaster was necessary to balance the equation?

Rodney blinked firmly a few times, disliking the irrational turn of his thoughts. Concussion, definitely.

Carter's impish smile flashed in front of him and he blinked again. He had liked her, even though she was so profoundly wrong. She was gorgeous, and brighter than most.

If only she had listened to him.

But no, she had been too sure of her own theories, too blinded by the loss of her friend, too trusting that a Goa'uld would tell the truth. Too reliant on luck over everything else.

And now she was dead, along with the friend who had probably been gone long since. And with them had gone the whole of the SGC, and the American Stargate, and their dialing program. All that was left were the program members who hadn't been on duty, or had come back through Russia and not made it back to Colorado yet, or were researchers at Area 51. And the Russian gate.

And Rodney.

He had already been the world's foremost expert on gate technology, Carter's greater practical experience notwithstanding. Now even she was gone, leaving no one anywhere near his level. Rodney could reconstruct a dialing program, and the Russians now held all the cards. They would come calling soon, and Rodney had to work out exactly what his conditions and requirements would be. At least he would get the real gate access the Americans had so long denied him; they would have no option. They needed him.

He was also much more valuable to the darker elements of the American political structure. Had Simmons still been in the mountain? Rodney couldn't quite bring himself to grieve if so. He didn't like being used. He was no pawn for someone else's game. Simmons wasn't the only one out there who would be willing to use him, though. That was why he was headed back to Area 51, to the closest thing he had to a base of operations. Besides, he wanted to get back to his cat.

Come to think of it … he had just about given up on Jeannie, but maybe this would be enough to make her see sense. They would need people capable of truly advanced work, and he knew she was qualified for it. Surely she wouldn't stick to her bizarre plan of becoming a stay-at-home mother if the safety of the planet depended on her. She might have dropped out of her degree program, but Rodney could endorse her. Maybe they could even work together. That might be … that might work out.

With her or alone, he would eventually go to Russia. It was ironic that the Americans had meant to send him there anyway, for an energy program, when now he would be headed there as the one person who could restore the planet's access to the rest of the galaxy within any acceptable timeframe. The Russians wouldn't let him be completely in charge, he was sure, but he was also sure he could wrest quite a lot of control from them.

They would also be much more clear-headed than the Americans. They would never tolerate risking the entire program for one probably-already-lost person. Their entire history was steeped in tragedy, not improbable fortune and derring-do.

The Russians would never gamble everything on luck.

They might in fact be a little too draconian, really. If he remembered correctly, their response to trouble with their first gate experiments was to neutralize the personnel of an entire facility and plan to blow it up as well. He would have to have a few words with them about proportionate responses if he was going to put himself in their hands.

On the whole, though, Rodney knew he and the Russians would fit together well. Between their fatalism and his pragmatism, they would prevent anything like this ever happening again.

The ashes of the Cheyenne facility smeared across the sky in his rear-view were more than a testament to folly; they were a memorial to a life that should never have been lost. He regretted the deaths of everyone in that facility, of course, but one hurt more than the rest. Carter had been wrong in her theories and wrong to disregard him, but he had admired her. He had respected what she had accomplished in her part-time science, and he had been impressed by the promise in her papers.

A part of him had wanted to impress her in turn. He had wanted to prove himself to one of the few people who had any real prospect of understanding. If things had gone very differently, and perhaps if he had been a little better at dealing with people, she might have deferred to him. Over time, he could have guided her away from her misconceptions — preferably with a more personal relationship to sweeten the tuition, but even strictly as colleagues would have been enough. He thought he would have liked that.

That possibility was lost forever, though. That and so much more.

Rodney was determined it would not happen again. By manipulating the natural tendencies of the Russians and judiciously exercising the power he could demand from them, he would ensure that no misguided but promising minds were ever again sacrificed on the altar of luck.
sophia_sol on October 27th, 2009 10:07 pm (UTC)
Wow, depressing much? But really good! That is a very believable way for things to have gone if Sam had indeed turned out to be wrong!

I particularly like how one of Rodney's first thoughts is for Jeannie's safety, even though they're estranged. And the theme of luck running through the story is really effective.

But wow, this sure makes me happy that this isn't what actually happened in the episode! Everybody in the mountain -- dead! And yet the only ones Rodney really acknowledges in his head as being gone are Carter and Simmons; the rest are merely "gone". It's rather telling of how little he really connected with anybody in the entire mountain in the time that he was there. Rodney needs a hug (and a friend, to give him one...).
michelel72: SGA-RodneySam-Readingmichelel72 on October 28th, 2009 02:52 am (UTC)
Yeah, I don't know where all this dark stuff is coming from. It's very strange. It just struck me that Rodney's reasons not to try were very logical, and Sam's reason to go ahead was "I want it to work". Sure, it's great that it did work, and it had to for the plot, and it can be seen as a statement about faith, but ... it was a gamble. The heroes' gambles almost always pay off; what happens when they don't?

The weird thing is that I had the basic concept a month or two ago and no idea what to do with it, and I wanted to be more active in sg_prompts, but it took a week or two before I opened the front door and caught the concept and the "Luck" prompt kissing on the front porch. So to speak.

ANYway. I'm really glad Rodney made sense to you here; my betas really helped me bring that out. Thank you for the lovely feedback!
dossierdossier on October 28th, 2009 02:53 am (UTC)
awesome! I love when people blow shit up, and alter the course of history!

Rodney as the ultimate pragmatist is wonderful. Of course he'd be leveraging his way in as the top dog, because he belongs there, not out of any personal gratification... :)

michelel72: SGA-RodneySam-Sadfacemichelel72 on October 28th, 2009 03:13 am (UTC)
Rock 'n' roll! Heh.

I just think it's funny that Rodney's always the careful one, trying to minimize casualties, relative to Sam. He warned that the gate could explode (which cost would have been dire); he argued for the EMP counterattack against Anubis because waiting was too risky; after that made things worse, he argued for dropping the gate in the ocean to get drastic but contained damage rather than gambling they could pull a way to get the gate off-planet out of thin air; he cautioned against full-yield explosions with the nukes in "The Pegasus Project" (until they were down to their last one) because it could take out the gate as well, ruining their strategy ... compared to her, he always takes the measured, lower-risk option! Which seems just weird! And of course it has nothing to do with gratification; what are you implying? Heh. Thank you!
Sholio: SGA-young McKay pointingsholio on November 4th, 2009 01:42 am (UTC)
You know, that brings up a really weird point about both the Stargates (not sure about SGU since I haven't seen it) -- in conflicts between the cautious/pragmatic viewpoint vs. the wildly optimistic/reckless viewpoint, the cautious characters are usually painted as wrong, if not demonized outright. Kavanagh vs. Weir in "38 Minutes" is remarkably analogous to the "48 Hours" situation. Or Sheppard vs. Caldwell in several episodes from seasons two and three ("Sateda" comes to mind in particular). It's not inevitable and I can think of a few places where the "cautious" and "reckless" roles were being acted out by sympathetic characters whose opinions were given fair play on both sides, but it seems like there is a general trend towards "cautious=wrong" and I find that very interesting.

(Oh, enjoyed the story, btw!)
korilian: Deranged Mckaykorilian on November 6th, 2009 12:28 am (UTC)
I loved this. And sorry for making my comment here, but I was just about to bring up Kavanaugh as well. The way Kavanaugh received abuse (and has ever since) for pointing out the risks was completely irresponsible. The leaders make the decisions, but that decision should be based on a complete picture.

Rodney got vilified for not wanting to risk the state for one guy who might already be dead (and fine; for being a jack ass, and for being connected to the wrong person at the wrong time). For him it was 1 person he didn't know for millions he didn't know. Not a hard choice. For Carter of course the choice was personal, but even though it worked out in canon, I don't think saving Teal'c was the responsible choice.
I wonder if they would have taken his point more serious if they hadn't already had a personal dislike of Rodney. I suspect she would have still written him off like the other SGC scientists (who I admit, are jokes).
michelel72: SGA-Rodney-Skepticalmichelel72 on November 6th, 2009 01:10 am (UTC)
Here's fine; thank you!

And to a point, I agree about Kavanagh. I just mentioned to sholio: I actually was thinking similar things about Kavanagh, and that the two episodes were very similar ... but they did make Kavanagh obnoxious in different ways. (He doesn't just point out the danger, it's implied that he's blocking the entire group from researching other solutions as he insists on his point, and Rodney later himself points out the same risk but also the mitigation for it. So Rodney remains cautious but moves more towards trying despite low odds, and Kavanagh gets pushed even further down the "villain" ladder.)

The bizarre thing about that episode ("Thirty Eight Minutes") is that no one talked to Rodney — I mean, they were working on the problem, they knew he was too, but they left him to find the same things they did rather than working with him, even though they're in radio contact. Maybe that was to play up that he was just as good, alone with a datapad, as practically the entire remainder of his staff with all their equipment ... but it was dangerous. What if he hadn't realized the risk of explosion and accidentally triggered it, simply because nobody bothered to warn him? But after having rewatched that episode recently, I'm much less critical of Kavanagh, though I do think he bears the blame for not calling Rodney's or Elizabeth's attention to the problem and then moving on to try to find a different solution.

Back to your last point about "48 Hours": I think that yes, they would have disregarded him because it is never, ever acceptable to write off any person not yet confirmed as dead — or admit that death is even possible, much less sometimes worth accepting. (I have major issues with the way they used Elizabeth to hammer that message home, in multiple episodes.) That ethos seems to run through both series, to me ... and this story was my reaction to it, I guess. Is that slogan really absolute? Should there ever be a line or limit? If so, where? Fun stuff; anyway, thanks!
michelel72: SGA-Rodney-Fingermichelel72 on November 6th, 2009 01:00 am (UTC)
I've been thinking the same. It's been too long since collge for me, even though I majored in this stuff, but I want to say that they conform to a very Classic American narrative: The whole optimist, bootstrap, pioneer, cowboy, instinct-over-intellect model that is much less common recently but runs through many American texts. (And do not even get me started on the way they characterized Elizabeth and her bizarre, even offensive reaction whenever anyone suggests that someone might die; I think that's part of the same phenomenon.)

I actually was thinking similar things about Kavanagh, and that the two episodes were very similar ... but they did make Kavanagh obnoxious in different ways. (He doesn't just point out the danger, it's implied that he's blocking the entire group from researching other solutions as he insists on his point, and Rodney later himself points out the same risk but also the mitigation for it. So Rodney remains cautious but moves more towards trying despite low odds, and Kavanagh gets pushed even further down the "villain" ladder.)

The greatest inversion that comes immediately to mind is the attack on the Replicator planet; that's one of the few cases (perhaps the only) that I can think of in which the SGA personnel are all more cautious than an ally and unwilling to endorse a bold strike.

And thank you!
Tarlan: McKay - District SGtarlanx on October 30th, 2009 04:25 pm (UTC)
Excellent 'what if' story!
michelel72: SGA-Rodney-Pensivemichelel72 on October 31st, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Essie: Rose Grinsentientcitizen on October 31st, 2009 10:31 pm (UTC)
Re: what you said to dossier up there: Huh. I'd honestly never thought of that - but it's very true! It's just, Rodney McKay as the rational one seems off-kilter. I'm so used to thinking of him as brilliant but easy to fluster and suchlike.

Er - also, I'm really bad about this whole "commenting" thing. ^^' I'm more of a, "read the fic, think to myself that I enjoyed it, and move on" type. Sorry. *sheepish* I liked this fic!
michelel72: SGA-Rodney-Mathmichelel72 on November 1st, 2009 12:59 am (UTC)
Rodney: I know, right? But when you think about it, he's almost always confident he can be amazing, but he'll also say he just can't do things when it turns out he can (leading to John yelling at him just to get on with it, heh). Excepting Doranda, and possibly reinforced by that, he really hedges his bets when there are consequences, doesn't he? So to speak.

(Oh, and no worries. Not every story is to everyone's taste, and I'm not perfect at commenting myself, though I'm trying to improve. Around here, feedback is treasured but not required.) Thank you!
Essie: Live a Life Extrordinarysentientcitizen on November 3rd, 2009 05:08 am (UTC)
I'm trying to remember - when the Genii are threatening him, and he shouts, "In case you havn't noticed, I'm a very arrogant man - I always think my plans are going to work" (or something to that gist), was the failed plan an actual faliure, or a self-sabotague?

It's not that the story isn't to my taste - if it hadn't been, I wouldn't have bothered to comment at all! I like your way with words, and I really like your McKay. I've just been a fandom lurker for so long - I'm not yet in the mindset of even having an account to leave comments with. :)
michelel72: SGA-Rodney-Mathmichelel72 on November 3rd, 2009 06:04 am (UTC)
I just checked the transcript to be sure — he somewhat dramatically tries several times, declares that it's failed, points to that failure when Kolya announces plans to keep him and Weir as a reason why they don't want him, really ... and then the moment the Genii are gone turns back to make it work for real. So I'm thinking minor sabotage, which is pretty impressive. I think in that case he honestly knew it was a long shot but they had a fallback (of evacuation) originally; when it was down to "fake out the Genii" or "make it work now", he chose the option that neutralized the Genii. Which is remarkably "the good of the many" of him, again. Huh.

And ... thanks!
beege22beege22 on November 2nd, 2009 06:46 pm (UTC)
Very interesting character study of Rodney - wrong about some things, but so very right about others.

Prior to SGA, Rodney was basically cast as 'the asshole' and okay, he was, but what gets lost is that he was an asshole with a really good point. Personally I think sometimes he was too conservative (within a verse like Stargate there is a place for hail mary solutions) but that doesn't invalidate his position. Esecially not when you consider just how many times SG1 got by on luck.
michelel72: SGA-RodneySam-Sadfacemichelel72 on November 3rd, 2009 06:07 am (UTC)
I know, right? That really is a thread throughout both series, I think — that instinct is better than logic and that hail mary plays are always worth the attempt. An interesting perspective.

Making Rodney right (over Carter!) about a big conflict and yet not perfect was tricky. I'm glad you appreciated this study. Thank you!
beege22beege22 on November 5th, 2009 02:42 am (UTC)
It would be interesting to read some snippets in this universe where Rodney would more or less rule the stargate program, by virtue of having no real peers left (and having the moral authority of being the only one who saw the disaster coming).
michelel72: SGA-Rodney-Mathmichelel72 on November 6th, 2009 12:48 am (UTC)
I'll confess I'm curious myself. I don't think I'll be writing more here — I don't know enough about SG-1 canon to be able to work out what would happen to Earth and the conflict with the Goa'uld without the SGC, just for starters. (ETA: And my heart is in a different "48 Hours" AU, so even trying would just mess up my head, I think.) But ... is Rodney right about Jeannie, or would she still turn him down? Which program members might not have been in the Mountain, and which of them could get into the Russian program? What politics would rule the Russian program anyway? Which of Rodney's 2002 traits would soften and which would harden based on this event and on what follows? Which SGA personnel, if any, might feasibly still end up with the program? Might Radek and he have the same relationship, or one closer to the 2002 McKay/Carter one, or ...? And if they did find Atlantis, would Rodney be required to stay on Earth to keep the program going? And I really like your point that having predicted this event would give Rodney a moral authority in later conflicts. I do hope someone feels motivated to pick this up, though certainly I'll understand if folk find it too depressing!

Edited at 2009-11-06 12:49 am (UTC)
Frith: Warning signfrith_in_thorns on January 4th, 2010 12:10 am (UTC)
Oh, ouch! But this scenario is scarily plausible, they do play with luck so much, and it can't always go right, surely. I really liked Rodney here, scared and shaken and rational, all at the same time. Lovely for him to be thinking about Jeannie, and warning her. And his thoughts about Carter are also so sad.

Really liked this line about the Russians: Their entire history was steeped in tragedy, not improbable fortune and derring-do. Because Rodney's approach really was the more sensible one - I don't remember whether or not the SGC (esp. Sam) acknowedged that he had a point (and a very good one at that) with his argument?

I've been reading the comment threads, and I agree with the stuff in there. I've found this with American TV as a whole in the past, that when there are two viewpoints, logic and 'instict', the logic one seems to be presented as somehow wrong - the dynamic in Bones is an example of what I mean, and why I tend to get really fed up with that show and just watch it on and off. Which is, to me, rather odd. Things aren't like something just because you think they should be. Except million-to-one chances, which work nine times out of ten ;)
michelel72: SGA-Rodney-Skepticalmichelel72 on January 21st, 2010 05:14 am (UTC)
(Sorry for the late response!) Yeah, I'd really like to see both realistic outcomes and accurate statistics far more often than I do. I get that it's a thing in Western English-language narrative; I get that playing against the odds is a tried-and-true tension tool. Still.

The closest they ever came to acknowledging Rodney's points in the episode was to say "we can make the risk [of the gate blowing up and destroying the entire base] very small" and to evacuate all non-essential, non-SG-1, non-Russian-dude personnel from the base before trying ... and even with those "minimizing" steps, Siler got zapped (which was a huge deal when McKay got Carter zapped with a failed fix the next season, come to think of it, but it's apparently just a joke here) — and Daniel notes the explosion they got never happened in the simulations. So even in succeeding, the show calls out they were operating from flawed premises every step of the way. Which makes their having taken those courses right? ::headdesk::

I gave up on Bones because they kept faking the forensics; with the exception of House, I can't forgive shows that fake what they're allegedly based on. That would drive me crazy if I were still watching, I think.

Thank you!
cantarinacantarina1 on January 31st, 2011 05:49 pm (UTC)
Here via the podfic!

Oh wow, excellent early!Rodney voice. He's so obnoxiously arrogant without most of the soft edges that Atlantis lends him, although calling Jeannie goes a long way toward making him sympathetic. It's a short interaction between them, but a really great one, considering they're still not talking at this point.

His observations about the Russians are really clever, but for the same reasons, I think he's overestimating their measure of his value, certainly in the long term, when he was already in and had already got them set up and had others trained. It would be really interesting to see how this AU would play out! I've really enjoyed all of the discussion in the comments too, even though it's all old hat to you.
michelel72: SGA-Rodney-Skepticalmichelel72 on February 4th, 2011 07:40 am (UTC)
Yes, I'm pretty sure Rodney's estimation of the Russians' esteem is just a wee bit inflated. The politics would certainly make for a complicated dance, and I wish I had some idea how that would play out, but I just don't know enough!

I'm pleased you enjoyed the story and discussions. Thank you!
brasslizardbrasslizard on April 10th, 2011 06:52 am (UTC)
I'm really enjoying your 48 hours au's as they tend to mimic a lot of my own thoughts on that episode in particular and about the SGC and SG1 in general. The thing that annoyed me most about the episode (well, besides the part where Sam seemed perfectly willing to risk large scale casualties on what largely amounted to a wish) was how petty she was in her victory afterwards.

In fact, I've noticed that exact same trend carried through both series; behaviors that are laughed off in anyone else become a major issue when they come from McKay. In trying to use McKay as the comic relief or heroic foil, the writers frequently just made everyone else look petty and small.

Anyway, great "what-if" story and character study. Thank you for sharing!
michelel72: SGA-RodneySam-Sadfacemichelel72 on April 11th, 2011 02:36 am (UTC)
Yeah, what really struck me about "48 Hours" was the way that those events are remembered, in both canon and fanon as far as I can tell, was that Rodney went out of his way to harm Teal'c, but that doesn't match the actual episode — throughout, he's only citing the limits of science as they know it, while Sam keeps insisting he's wrong because she wants him to be. (In a comment thread above with sholio and korilian, we discussed how the show treats science and caution.) They make Sam a bad scientist to showcase her as the better person, which, yeah, made her vindictiveness at the end really strange.

And I think you're right: Rodney is treated as a criminal, coward, or clown for actions and statements that are perfectly natural or are certainly not unique to him. (I'm not saying he's a saint, at all — he really isn't any good with people, though he does get better over the course of the series — but he really does seem to be judged by a harsher standard.)

I'm happy you liked it. Thank you!