SUMMARY: Can you go home again? Rodney angst. Sorta an Intruder missing scene.
SEASON/SPOILERS: Set season two, between Siege III and Intruder. Slight spoiler for Siege III.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Haven't written a purely Rodney fic in awhile, so I sat down and this is what came out. It's written in present tense because I felt it flows better and added to the tone. And Rodney is never mentioned by name for the same reason.
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.
He isn't sure why he is still scared, but he is.
He always was.
The hallway is bright white and there's a small crack in the wall beside his door. He studies it as if it held the key to the universe.
He looks up. "Jeanie," he says, simply, and devoid of any emotion. He and his sister didn't talk. Not since she'd fled their home thirty years previous. All he wanted then was for her to take him with her. He'd even packed a bag, shoving anything he could into a small backpack.
She couldn't. She didn't.
She disappeared into the night and left him with the consequences of her actions.
She gives him a tight smile. "You came."
"I did," he says curtly. "Though I'm not sure why."
"He's been asking for you. Asking for you for months. I've been trying..." she trails off.
"I've been away," he tells her, not elaborating. The truth is, that even if he had been on Earth, he isn't sure he would have responded to his sister's pleas. He'd probably have deleted her phone messages and emails, and crumpled any letter before tearing into a thousand pieces and tossing it like confetti.
Watched the tiny pieces that connected him to his past fall gently around him.
"I got your message," Jeanie says softly.
He blinks. What message? His babbling when he wasn't sure whether or not he'd manage to figure out how to fight off a giant Wraith attack? One that, in the end, he really only managed to escape by the skin of his teeth? He feels something inside him snap a moment, and wasn't sure what it was and how to deal with it.
"You did?" He doesn't turn his head; doesn't think he could meet her eyes. He shouldn't still be mad at her. He should be grateful for this second chance and follow through with his intentions. He should bond, somehow. But perhaps his muttered ramblings were no different than the man that tells God he'll give up fatty food forever if he can just survive the heart attack he happens to be in the throes off. The man, which a month after the fact, pulls into the nearest McDonald's drive-through and orders a cheeseburger.
She purses her lips. "Rodney," she starts, but paused, unsure. He can hear her swallow. "I should have taken you." The sentence is whispered and for a second, he's not really sure if he actually heard it at all.
"You were seventeen," he finally answers as if it is the answer to
"I was scared, Rodney. I was..." She bits her lip and he finds himself looking up at her and meeting her eyes.
"Pregnant," she finishes. She reaches for her purse. "I have three children, actually. I have pictures-"
He shakes his head. "Pregnant, Jeanie? God, he would have killed
She lowers her purse. "I know." There's an awkward moment of silence between them before she speaks again. "I couldn't call home."
He falters, the walls holding all his emotions crumbling for a split second. He spent so much time angry with her for leaving, angry with his mother for dying, and angry with his father for still existing.
"No, I suppose you couldn't," he responds, not sure how much longer he can stretch this conversation. He'd not a people person; he knows he's abrasive, had to deal with. Too many brains, his father used to say, it's not right. From the age of three, he found himself trying everything to make his father happy.
His mother was happy with him, but that hardly mattered since she was dead by the time he turned three. He cried for weeks.
His father told him to shut up. His father was angry and Jeanie had entered her teenage years, spending more and more time away from home and with boyfriend after boyfriend.
He tried. He really did. Built the best science project in the sixth grade. Hoped he'd get a blue ribbon.
Instead, he earned a trip to the principle's office and a call to his father.
The hitting started soon after. The name-calling. The half-muttered admittance one rainy Friday night that he was just some bastard product of his slut of a mother's countless affairs.
He couldn't handle that. No one was going to drag his mother's name through the mud. Not his mother, the woman that dried his tears and told him that being smart was a great gift and it needed to be showcased for all to see. To let no one forget it or stomp on it.
"Rodney." Jeanie is speaking again and he focuses back on her, hoping the past can just disappear. "He wants to see you."
Of course he does, he thinks. But he can't do it. He wonders why he came to Canada in the first place. He reaches for Jeanie, pats her shoulder. He's not any good at showing affection or care. It seems like ages since someone had shown him how to do it properly.
"I need to go," he says.
"But, Rodney..." she started and he raises a hand.
"I can't." The sentence is short, straight to the point. "I just...can't."
"I understand," she replies, but he doesn't think she does. It doesn't really matter. He's still going to leave. Going to head back to Colorado and lock himself in a lab, babbling about Ancient technology and preparing things to take back with him when the time come to go back to Atlantis, to go back home.
He may regret it, but he may not. He's not strong enough to convince himself that he will, so he has no choice but to assume the latter. He starts to walk.
"Wait." Jeanie stops him, takes his hand, and places something small and rectangular in it. A business card.
"Mine," she says. "I sell real estate. The kids have started to grow up and the youngest is in high school, so...call me, Rodney. Please."
He closes his fingers around the card. Yes. This he might be able to do.
"I'll try," he tells her, not wanting to break his heart if courage fails him yet again.
Then she smiles and her hands envelope his shoulders. A hug. When she lets go, their eyes met yet again and he sees his own sadness reflected in them.
He walks away and heads towards the airport.