To Walk on Water by nebbyJ (Jen)

Summary: Sometimes to heal wounds of the past, you must save the future. McKay centered fic with a healthy dose of Sheppard and Beckett.

Rating: T (Language and abuse) Angst / Friendship / Drama / H/C

Archive: Fanfiction (Do not archive without permission. Thank you.)

Spoilers: Too many to name. I've incorporated several moments from Season One to tie into this story.

Author's Note: Once again, Atlantis does not belong to me. Feel free to comment, reviews are warmly accepted. Or email me if you find any errors in need of correction.

This has been betaed graciously by Gaffer and patiently reviewed by Emergencyfan. Thank you both for your invaluable insight and wisdom!

To Walk on Water

Chapter 1

Calling Dr. Rodney McKay 'difficult' was an extreme understatement, but over the past week he had actually become even more contentious and belligerent to all Atlantis staff than usual. Any attempt at discovering what could possibly be eating at the astrophysicist resulted in a wake of individuals with hurt feelings, threats of transfers, and a general state of shock.

When coworkers and friends came up empty of possible explanations, the medical facility was given the challenge, only to find their advances rebuffed or completely ignored. He refused to see Carson, claiming there was nothing wrong with him, and that the voodooistic practices of highland sheepherders should be kept out of the science labs, or be in fear of finding themselves shorn. Heightmeyer wasn't even that lucky. Every time she went to confront the antagonistic individual, he was nowhere to be found.

It eventually came down to Weir being at her wit's end as to what direction she should take and resigned herself to Major Sheppard's tactic of 'I'll figure out what's wrong with him, even if I have to shoot first and ask questions later.' Giving her second in command twenty-four hours to resolve the issue before the upcoming banquet honoring the new trade agreement recently brokered with M24-987, he was to find McKay and have him at the table with the senior staff by 1400 hours tomorrow, or there would be hell to pay.

And with that, word spread like wildfire of the impending search for their now missing teammate. Carson dropped off a small med kit; more complete than the standard off-world issue. This one included a mild sedative to be injected by the major if absolutely necessary.

Ford brought fresh radios even though Sheppard had already checked those he carried. Understanding the young officer's desire to help, he merely nodded and handed over the equipment he'd previously affixed to his jacket.

And, Dr. Zelenka carried the final pieces of gear; an enhanced life sign detector that should be able to override whatever McKay might come up with and a small silver flask. When Sheppard balked at carrying the alcohol, the Czech sadly shook his head and stated that whatever might be troubling his science colleague, perhaps a slight libation may help.

Glancing about Weir's ready room, the major gave the small assembled group his patented reassuring nod before heading down the staircase, past the closed gate. With a quick glance towards the extra guards stationed near the controls, he shook his head in disbelief before making his way out of the populated area. He had twenty four hours before the ambassador's entourage would arrive for the banquet.

Whatever was eating at the scientist had to be settled soon. Sheppard could only hope that it would be that simple. But with McKay, he seriously doubted it.

SG: A

Half way through his allotted time to search, Sheppard brought his trek to a halt. Resigned to the fact that McKay clearly knew the layout of Atlantis better than any other member on board, he wasn't surprised that he had yet to come across any sign of his friend. Sliding down to the floor, with his back pressed against the wall, he closed his eyes, mentally setting his internal clock for one hour. If he was tired, he knew the same had to be for McKay, and that the scientist also had to rest whatever demon the Canadian might be battling and/or running from that caused him to disappear without explanation in the first place. The major could only imagine what was going on in his friend's mind.

He didn't know a lot about Dr. Rodney McKay and the scientist certainly wasn't about to open up and reveal his innermost secrets to anyone. What he had learned came from attentive listening and carefully applied teasing used to draw the egocentric man out of his shell. And what the major discovered, after peeling away the layers of sarcasm and pompous superiority, was someone not that much different than himself. Sure, McKay had a rough childhood. Come on now, who really didn't? But then again, most kids didn't build bombs for their class project at the age of twelve to gain attention.

Then there was his sister, Jeanie, whom Beckett mentioned Rodney was concerned about when he thought he was going to die from the virus. After that, though, the scientist had been tightlipped about her and it was only after Ford showed the major a copy of the tape that they were able to send back to the SGC, did Sheppard realize just how limited McKay's outlook on what may happen actually was. The man was waiting for death. He would pull every rabbit out of his hat to save others, but to himself he only recognized the inevitable, that he was going to die, and he lived in fear he would make a mistake that would cause others to perish as well.

"Shit," Sheppard groaned inwardly to himself, dropping his head to rest on his knees. He was so sure that he'd somehow broken through and made the scientist realize that he wasn't about to let that happen. They were going to get through this together. With the now familiar, cumbersome weight of responsibility resting squarely upon his shoulders, he allowed his body to succumb to sleep, knowing that in a few more hours, one way or another, he was going to have to find some answers.

SG: A

Exactly one hour later, the major was on the move again, winding his way down unfamiliar corridors, eventually coming to stand on what he figured was the North Pier. As far as he knew, no one had spent any time at this end of Atlantis except for a brief survey team visit to check for damage after the hurricane. The power was set at minimum, leaving little light to guide his way, and he found himself blinking several times to adjust to the natural sunlight once he stepped outside.

A cool wind blew across his face as he scanned the open water. Overcast clouds from an advancing storm front cast long shadows over the ancient structure as he briefly studied his surroundings before removing Zelenka's enhanced life sign detector, giving it a quick scan. So used to seeing only one blip on the screen during his search, he automatically stuffed it back in his pocket before his mind registered that he wasn't the only one on the pier.

He snatched the small piece of equipment back out of his pocket and rescanned the area to confirm the previous reading. There it was again, a second blip. With the stealth of a trained soldier, he advanced cautiously to the end of the pier, the scanner in one hand and his 9mm in the other.

A small structure blocked his view and he could only guess as to its purpose. Maybe it's where the ancient lifeguards used to sit, he mused, as he neared the raised housing. Shoulders to the wall, he edged around to the front, sidearm ready, and froze, recognizing the back of the head staring away from him out across the temperamental whitecaps. He'd found McKay.

The scientist was oblivious to the major's position and the last thing Sheppard wanted to do was frighten the man, possibly causing Rodney to loose his precarious position and fall off the end of the pier. Holstering his gun and tucking the life sign indicator back in his pocket, he opened his mouth, ready to spout off some witty sarcastic comment, but stopped and sighed heavily. Instead he made his way over and took up a seated position alongside his friend, waiting quietly for McKay to be the first to break the silence.

When the words didn't come, Sheppard turned to face the scientist, taking a good look at the haggard individual. Dark circles turned usually inquisitive blue eyes listless, his hair and clothing were damp from the cold ocean spray, and he appeared flushed, possibly feverish.

'When did all of this happen and what the hell caused it?' the major mentally demanded. In a week's time, McKay had done a complete one-eighty, going from vibrant terror to a mute recluse. Racking his brain, he retraced the past seven day's events and realized the first real noticeable change had occurred right around the time they'd first visited M24-987.

As far as Sheppard knew, nothing had happened offworld. He and Teyla did their usual song and dance 'how about a trade' routine, while Ford checked for possible weapons to use against the Wraith. Rodney was left on his own to study whatever it was he found useful. The team had been separated for a couple of hours, four tops. They had been successful in their mission and returned home. But now that he thought about it, McKay had been unusually quiet while walking back to the gate. Sheppard had chalked it up to the scientist pondering whatever it was he had gleaned from the civilization. Now, he realized, that wasn't the case.

"McKay," the major spoke gently, breaking the silence, "I don't know how to help until you tell me what happened on the planet."

The slumped shoulders of the scientist shifted, haunted eyes turning to face Sheppard, "Did you ever want to kill someone because they reminded you of a person from your past?"

TBC