I've been in Atlantis for almost a year now, and I guess it's safe to say I know some people pretty well. I hadn't expected it at all when I got here, I didn't even want it. But you can't work with anyone in this setting without finding out things about them.
For example, I knew exactly what the major was doing when he got out of the chair.
I know I should be in disbelief, and I am. I know I should be horrified, and I am. But I know I should be surprised and I'm not. I hate what he's done, but somehow it just makes sense.
Oddly enough, what I can't get my mind around is the "So long." It's just so like him: his flippant way of completely dismissing anything dangerous. Whenever we are faced by death and danger, every single time without exception, he will spout some remark that must undoubtedly pass as 'witty' in his mind. I have no idea what the thought process behind that is, if any thought goes on at all. Is it something like, "If I make the situation funny by wisecracking, then the trouble goes away"?
Hey, my friend's about to go kill himself to save the rest of us, isn't that hilarious?
Nope, that's definitely not the reason.
Maybe he thinks "So long" is better. Maybe he believes that it just makes things easier for the both of us: no tearful good byes, no complex emotions shown, nothing but three short words. I can see why he might not want to give a long-winded speech, but something a little more personal might have been nice. I mean, we've saved each other's lives so many times it's not worth keeping track anymore. When near death experiences become a weekly occurrence, it's difficult not to become friends, even if you never planned on it. I'm not asking for much, just anything but "So long." Maybe, "Well, McKay, it's been nice working with you," or "Thanks for saving my ass as much as I've saved yours." Hell, at this point, I'm thinking I'd rather have had him walk out wordlessly than just "So long."
And did he spare a thought that even if he didn't want to say anything, then I might have? Did he even consider that maybe I'm not as shallow as he is; maybe I might've wanted to say something a little more meaningful than "So long"? Did it even cross his mind that I just might want to tell him what in idiot he's being?
Of course it didn't. He's too damn busy being a selfless martyr to think about anyone else.
And y'know what? No one's even going to know what he did. Even if he does single-handedly save Atlantis and Earth, it's not like the Earthlings will ever find out about the so-called "courage" of one Major John Sheppard, USAF. And the rest of us don't even know if we'll live long enough to be able to recognize his "brave sacrifice," which, if we all die, would be rendered useless anyways. Talk about misplaced heroics.
What's that they say about soldiers? That they don't die, they just…fade away. But he couldn't do either of those things. Defending the place we all called home, defending us—that's simply Sheppard, going out in a typical blaze of glory. But from where I'm standing, it's neither a blaze of glory nor a fading away.
It's just one dot on a screen of many, blinking out.
And that's it. That's the end. The end of the friendship I hadn't even wanted in the first place. I stare at the screen a few more seconds, unwilling to accept it. I've seen the man go into cardiac arrest and live, get thrown twenty feet on two separate occasions and escape with just two broken ribs, be shot, nearly blown up, and poisoned, and still be able to show up like clockwork for breakfast in the mess hall the next morning. I've seen him survive things no one should have survived, what makes this time any different? But when the Canadian technician whose name I still can't remember reports, "Target has been neutralized," that adds an air of finality to it.
Elizabeth is the first to break the gloomy, morose silence. Her voice is filled with tears, and she only manages to choke out, "He did it."
So now's my chance to be the better man, to actually say something more meaningful than "So long" or that scripted military "it was an honor to serve" crap. Now's my chance to say the goodbye I wanted to say, But I know that now that goodbye is just as meaningless as the "so long" because I didn't say it when I could have. I know that meaningful words aren't coming to me; even if they were, my throat is too choked up to be able to say anything much longer than the four words I barely manage to whisper.
"Yeah. He did it."
So much for being the better man.
So… which POVs did you like better? Personally, I think the first one's a little stronger, but I want to know what you think. Do the perspectives feel different, or the same? Comments, criticism, and commendations most welcome! Hope you enjoyed!
If you want a really good McKay POV for "Siege II," check out chapter 2 of emergencyfan's Dominoes Doesn't Deliver Here.