Summary: Radek sent a letter to Earth during Letters from Pegasus, but he never returns to visit. In this Stargate: Atlantis AU, he got a letter back.
Genre: Family/Drama. Including science-team appropriate romance, friendship, angst, and adventure for good measure-even. Mostly drama.
POVs: Radek and OC. Rodney crops up situationally.
Updates: When I do, it's Friday. And right now trying to do every Friday. Life's wild.
Rating: T to be safe. A few vulgarities (because, you know, Zelenka). Science-team appropriate action and violence.
Pacing: Relaxed and completely unhurried (this is the fanfiction I write when my life spins out of control, okay? I like to have a little corner of my world where things go on as normal without too much angst)... mostly consisting of cute little slice-of-life stories. Bits of excitement I introduce are concluded eventually, but often not for a month or more of posting. In short, this story doesn't treat either chapters or episodes as hard stopping points for arcs. And it's slow.
Pairings: mild Weir/Zelenka. I do give mush alerts. You know. For when it gets mushy.
If you're here for Lorne, he first shows up in Chapter 61.
The usual: I don't own them. I only profit enjoyment from writing and when lovely readers like you leave comments for me. I use dialog from the episodes for context or if something important happens, though that becomes less as time goes on.
Even though there are similar family stories surrounding characters more integral to Atlantis, I had to do this one to answer the question I'm sure all Zelenka-fans ask: Who is he talking to in Letters from Pegasus? My answer to that question got... a little out of hand. This is a very long story. I'm not splitting it into parts because, though arcs exist through an episode or a season, the whole thing is really one story. So, yeah, this is a long haul.
Note: I am not Czech. Any Czech is courtesy of Google Translate, or, such as in the title, a line from Stargate: Atlantis. At which point, I suppose, you can take up any arguments of bad grammar with someone not me. ;) For real, though, corrections are loved. I put translations at the bottom of chapters in which it applies.
If it's in quotes and italicized, the characters are speaking in Czech. If it's not in quotes and italicized, the character is thinking. If it's in quotes and not italicized, it's English... unless otherwise specified?
Chapter 1. Packing.
"Drž se, miláčku." *
The recording clicked. Radek removed the disc and put it into its sleeve. Not bad for last words. Wouldn't change it now, even a few weeks later. Almost everything was ready to go. The room just as he found it—had it been a year since it was empty like this? Somewhere around there. He had the feeling when he went through the Stargate on the way here that it wouldn't last.
He just didn't think it would be so short.
The alarm on the door sounded, nearly scaring him out of his skin. He waved a hand in front of the control as he walked by. A few books still sat on the desk. Couldn't leave those behind.
"Okay, so, I've left a—whoa." McKay took a step into the room, looked up, then stumbled back out. "I knew you didn't have a bit of decorating sense, but… Wait. Are you packing?"
It was only a matter of time before someone came along to have this conversation. On the other hand, McKay was probably too distracted and self-absorbed. Still, better to have it sooner rather than later. Preferably with McKay than anyone else. He was the one least likely to care, to make a big deal of it. Might even bid him good riddance.
"I didn't know you were going back to Earth with us…" McKay looked down at his tablet and seemed to rethink everything on it.
"Neither did I," Radek mumbled.
"Hm." Rodney tapped into his tablet and then tucked it under his arm. "That's okay, I'll leave it with… um, Kavanagh? I'll have to see who's staying." He walked around the room.
Radek watched out of the corner of his eye. McKay got quieter as he realized that every single thing was gone from the walls. Not a book on the shelves. Not a sheet on the bed.
McKay spun toward Radek, eyeing his suitcase. "Who you seeing?"
"Hm?" Radek asked.
"Back on Earth. Most—I mean, some people are going to see family or—"
"I don't know yet," Radek answered. That was a lie.
In a metaphorical sense it was true. He didn't know the person he was meeting. She was a stranger. What would happen after he stepped through the Stargate back to Earth was anyone's guess. Except his. He ran out of guesses hours ago.
"Then what are you going back for?"
Radek sighed. "The Daedalus brought messages from Earth. Did you have one?"
"No," McKay said.
Radek nodded. Of course, McKay wouldn't have any messages, urgent or otherwise. He didn't think that his cat dying counted as urgent. "Yes. Well, my ex-wife—"
"Wait a second." McKay held his hands up. "Ex-wife? You were married?"
"Is it really that hard to believe?" Radek asked. He was pretty sure everyone else on Atlantis was of the same opinion. For whatever reason. He tried not to think of it too much. It didn't matter what they thought.
"Well," McKay pondered, "aside from the fact you have all the social skills of a woodchuck."
"Yeah, and you're so good with people."
It was hard to even think her name. Ex-wife was the last thing in the world he ever wanted to call her. But he decided that it was unfair. He let her go. He could bury himself in his work easy enough. If only he'd known how easily. Work that would bring him to another galaxy.
"It doesn't matter, anyway," Radek went on when it was clear McKay didn't have anything else to say. Yet. "She died four months ago."
"Oh, god." It was the first time he'd heard McKay sound sincerely apologetic. "Radek, I'm sorry."
He waved the apology away and avoided his eyes. Didn't know they were on a first name basis. Didn't know McKay actually knew his first name. "These things happen. It doesn't matter." He wanted to believe that, and maybe he would someday. Then again, maybe not. Not the way things were about to go. "My sister has been taking care of my daughter because—"
Radek paused and rolled his eyes. He felt a severe headache coming on. "You know what, Rodney, I have to pack." He shouldn't have to explain himself. Didn't want to imply it was a mistake—because his family was not a mistake. He was young then and—well, he couldn't explain it in words McKay would understand. McKay didn't know what love was.
"So you're going to see her," McKay said. He paused. "So what's with the…" His voice trailed off as he gestured around the empty room.
Radek looked. He'd miss this view, the sparkling city at night. The ocean peeking out between one spire and another. In the afternoon, the sun glinted off the stained glass in the central tower, putting bars of light edged in pink and purple on his wall for almost two minutes.
To think he'd almost thought of this place as home. To think he'd almost thought of McKay as something other than insufferable. To think he almost died here and yet couldn't think of anywhere he'd rather be. He didn't want it to end like this.
Who was he kidding? He didn't want it to end. Never mind, like this.
"I don't think I'll be coming back." He'd been offered a position at a university in Brno before the assurance of his place on the Atlantis expedition. More recently, the SGC guaranteed a position studying and adapting alien weaponry. It wasn't what he wanted, but it would have to be close enough. "At least I'll be able to pay for college for her."
"Pay for college? After just this year?" McKay looked a little hurt. "Are they paying you more than me?"
Radek sincerely doubted that, but grinned anyway. "I don't know. Hazard pay is incredible."
"Hazard pay." McKay scoffed. "I'm the one going through the Stargate."
"I don't think she was planning on going to… MIT."
"Well, you never know. She is your—" McKay cut himself off and cleared his throat. He looked around, probably for something else to say.
Radek laughed. "Were you about to compliment my genes?"
"Of course, not," McKay sputtered. "I'm just saying, if she's halfway intelligent she might… have bigger goals."
Radek knew she was intelligent. She was ahead in all her courses, but that was according to correspondence well over a year old. His sister wrote that she knew conversational German, and learned some English in the past year because she knew he worked in the USA. He didn't know what she wanted to do with her life, but she was his daughter. Of course, she was intelligent.
"But, look." McKay interrupted any further thought on the subject. "You can't leave."
"I haven't signed the second year's commitment," Radek said. "I don't have to stay."
"I don't mean you 'can't leave' as in there will be legal repercussions," McKay mumbled.
Radek sensed McKay's ego quivering with how intolerably close he came to paying him a legitimate compliment. Radek supposed he might as well save him the torture. "Thank you for the concern," he said. "But I have to take care of my family."
"Right, family…" McKay mumbled. "Well, I guess we'll have a little over a month to change your mind on that."
* "Take care, darling." Thank you, Stargate Atlantis episode transcripts.