Music Notes
by Jennamajig

SUMMARY: "The notes always stayed with him, fresh in his mind."

SEASON/SPOILERS: Season One. No real spoilers for Atlantis, though includes a slight reference McKay made in "Underground." Slight mentions of the Stargate: SG-1 episode "Redemption – Part 2."
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A random thought brought me back to the first two episodes of the sixth season of Stargate: SG-1 (The only two I watched that season before giving up and not coming back till season 7) and the conversation in the infirmary between Sam and McKay, whose interactions I loved. Then it spawned this little scribble. Blame the muse, I guess. Hope it makes sense :).

DISCLAIMER: I don't own Stargate: Atlantis or anything associated with it. I'm simply borrowing, but I promise to return all in one piece. Eventually.

The notes always stayed with him, fresh in his mind. Ingrained in his memory. The sight of the keys before him as if they held the answer to a great puzzle, one you had to pluck out on your own, revealing your heart and soul so that the last piece of the puzzle could fall into place and reveal its wonderful message for all to hear.

/ "Just stop! That's not right!"

"But the notes –"

"Music isn't just about notes, it's about heart. Soul. You can't be a musician if you can't realize that. The notes will always sound wrong." A sigh. "Rodney. You are a fine clinical player. You always hit the right keys, the right chords, the right timing. All in perfect order, nothing out of place. But you still have no sense of the art." He placed his on top of the twelve-year-old's. "I don't think you will. This I can't teach you. I think you should invest your time elsewhere."

The man walked away, leaving the boy staring down at his hands, crushed, as he still held them in perfect position. /

Rodney shot up, sending a slew of papers tumbling with him. His desk. He'd fallen asleep at his desk, his head buried in the mathematical equations he been scribbling only a couple of hours before. A lone coffee mug sat to his left, its contents long cold. He cleared the last few bits of sleep from his brain and stretched, his back protesting at the effort.

Why, all of a sudden, did he remember that? The day he gave up on music, a choice he always felt, was not his own. His piano teacher had not been unkind, but he was a very honest, hard-working man, that liked to take pride in his students. Rodney had known the man
always felt Rodney didn't use all of his potential. He never, however, thought that the man thought he should give up.

It was an interesting traumatizing memory for his brain to pick, for really, considering all of the other memories he had it wasn't the worse. Far from it, really. He could harp on other moments of his childhood, including the moment his mother called him a mistake to his face. His parents hadn't been on the best terms when his mother discovered she was pregnant. They had stayed together because of him, and he knew his presence was resented greatly because of it. The piano was the one way he could escape that and pretend all was right. He could practice and make sure he got it right. So they could be proud of him. He attempted to do that when he designed that working model of the Atomic bomb in sixth grade, but that backfired when his mother had to meet with the principle after the CIA was through questioning him. He'd been sent to his room without supper, which oddly enough the next morning turned into the first hypoglycemic episode he'd ever had. That made his relationship with his parents even more strained which eventually led his holier-than-thou attitude. Easier to cut yourself off and hid your feelings when you weren't nice enough for anyone to get close in the first place.

Cause and effect, he supposed. The world starts gives up on you, you start to give up on the world. Heightmeyer could have a field day with him, he supposed. But his file said little about his childhood and nothing about his relationship with music. Music had been something he truly loved. If he played loud enough, tucked away in the far corner of the living room, he could block out his parent's shouting. Or his sister's absence. She was nearly fourteen when he'd been born and left the house the second she turned eighteen. He couldn't blame her and they'd never been close. Never had the time.

In his mind, he could still see the sheet music positioned above the keys on the ancient slightly out of tune piano. Tucked away next the last family photo hanging the wall where everyone wore fake smiles and hid their thoughts from whomever may walk through the front door and look at the picture. See a happy family.

He thought he did put his soul into the piano.

He put his soul into science. His job was his life. It defined who he was and it was how he spent almost every waking hour. Priding himself on the fact that he was smart enough to skip a grade here and there, earn a couple of degrees, get the Air Force to notice he could be of use. Smart enough to compete even with the great Major Samantha Carter, who before the days of neglect and hiding, he may have greeted in a better matter, instead of taking his awe and appreciation of her and twisting it into the asshole persona that had become part of the person he was.

Yet, she was the only one he shared his piano story with. Abbreviated and lacking the emotions it held deep inside, but shared it non-the-less. And later somehow been able to shatter the walls for a moment and they did bond, over science. Not that he'd truly ever have a chance with her. He was himself, after all.

And he wondered why he was dateless.

He was getting too introspective after a silly memory, he realized, and bent down to pick up the scattered calculations. As he placed them back in order he noticed that somewhere is the mist of the last page he'd begun drawing musical notes until they trailed off into what amounted to a tired scrawl as he presumed he fell asleep.

Musical notes meshed into the scientific calculations almost fluidly, as if they simple belonged among the numbers. He wondered how he'd made the transition and not noticed he did it.

Maybe he put the wrong part of his soul into the piano. The part that had surfaced and tried to protect the hurt deep piece that very few saw a glimpse of. Suddenly he could hear the ticking of the metronome as he played, fading away his father's angry and hurtful words and his mother's scorn. Concentrate and pay attention to the sound. Make it match the beats. Pound it out till it was perfect, unlike every other facet of his life. Something to control. Control what went in.

And what came out.

His adult hands positioned themselves in the air and in his mind he replayed every second of that last piece he'd played for his teacher.

This time it felt different, despite the lack of piano, the lack of sound all together. Silence in an empty lab, light-years away from Earth and the ancient piano with its creaking bench and slightly out-of-tune middle C.

Suddenly, then, in the mist of silence and scattered science experiments, the puzzle was complete.