Title: The Letter

Pairing: could be McShep…there's not enough to this to know for sure

Feedback: Please

Disclaimer: Stargate: Atlantis is not owned by me, nor do I make any material profit from this story.

Spoilers: for S2 'Siege 3', sort of

Warnings: Heavy angst. Tears.

A/N: My genre dial is kind of stuck on angst at the moment, much as I'd like to write something amusing...I've had this lurking at the back of my brain for a while, though.


The meeting had run overtime, as so many of them did, despite the fact that they no longer had the horrible urgency of the 'no power/no supplies/no weapons/Wraith heading straight for them' situation they'd lived with for far too long defining every thought, word, and deed. At least they seemed to have accomplished something, since every issue on Elizabeth's lengthening list had been discussed and some plan of action conceived for each and every one. Rodney was tired, but it was the good kind of tired, the kind where he felt he could go back to his quarters and maybe take a little nap, just to refresh his brain, and not wake up shaking and sweating from a nightmare fifteen minutes after falling asleep.

He shut down his laptop, tucked it under his arm, and had nearly reached the door when Caldwell called out to him.

"Doctor McKay, I nearly forgot - I have a letter for you." The commander of the Daedalus pulled a sealed envelope from his pocket and handed it to the scientist, who accepted it wordlessly.

Rodney headed for the door again, tearing the letter open and scanning the paper inside. As he read, his face suddenly drained of color and he staggered. The paper fell from suddenly numb fingers.

Sheppard, who was nearest, saw the look on his face and lunged to catch him before his knees gave way, lowering Rodney gently to the floor as he gasped for breath. Carson knelt at his side, efficiently checking vitals while calling for help from the infirmary.

Elizabeth picked up the letter. "Oh my god," she whispered after she'd read the terse, impersonal contents. "Rodney, I'm so sorry."

Rodney didn't hear her - he was staring blankly at John while tears rolled unnoticed down his cheeks.

"No, please, oh, no, no, no..." he moaned.

John wordlessly gathered the scientist in his arms and Rodney broke down completely. Harsh, painful sobs, eerily silent, shook his body. Carson placed a comforting hand on Rodney's back, looking up at Elizabeth for an explanation.

Caldwell looked on with surprise and a certain amount of distaste.

"His sister died," she told them quietly. "Several months ago, it seems. Her husband and two children, as well...a car accident. The Air Force was unable to deliver the video message he sent to her."