If you're one of my regular readers, you came here looking for hilarity, no doubt. Look elsewhere. Since the comic I'm writing (one of them...I'm currently working on two now...yes, I do so love to add to my workload -heavy sigh-) is a drama, I have to stretch my angst writing muscles. It's just something I threw together that came to me a couple of nights ago, and it's not as polished as some of my other stuff...it probably sucks totally because I never write angst, but meh... I need the practice. This is a response to a forum challenge, the specifics of which are in the after-fic author's note. Rodney-centric (as usual).

ANGSTWARD HO!

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He can hear the waves crashing against the city. Feel the breeze caressing his face.

But his senses are dull.

He knows that they're dull. Knows that things don't feel right. He can remember how what it was like last week to feel the sea spray...what the ocean smelled like.

He can remember every minute detail that no one would ever think he'd notice.

He remembers them all, and that makes him feel all the more bitter as he stares out at the ocean from his vantage point in the wheelchair. The cumbersome item he's come to depend on for transportation since his legs will no longer support his weight the way they once did.

Those eyes...the ones that used to shine with such vitality and thirst for knowledge, the ones that saw things from another galaxy...wonderful things, magnificent things...

Horrible things...

Now they're gray and listless, no longer the brilliant blue that rivals the ocean of his adopted planet. The bright light that once resided within the orbs has dimmed considerably, leaving in it's place a dull sheen reminiscent of frosted glass.

Those hands...the ones that had saved Atlantis and Earth countless times with their speed and accuracy as they flew over countless keyboards, keypads and crystals...now they're hard, callused and knotty and arthritic to the point of worthlessness.

An old man's hands.

A very old man's hands.

His grandfather's hands.

He looks down at those formerly functional appendages and wishes that he could curse them.

Curse their uselessness, their ugliness, their impotence to do anything but lay in his lap like stones.

He can't curse them out loud...he's far too weak to do any severe snarking these days...but oh, how he shouts and rails and screams inside his head.

He calls down every pox he can think of on his useless, battered body.

If his unseeing eyes weren't so dry with age he would weep. He would weep until his throat closed up and he choked on his bitterness and anger and sadness.

That Wraith stole his youth. All of it. His body has aged seventy years at least and it's about to give out.

No matter what Carson says, he knows...

He has only days left, maybe a week, if he's lucky.

But then again, Rodney McKay is never lucky.

Sheppard...now there's a man who can be classified as lucky. Fortunate even. When he had an encounter with a Wraith, it was gracious enough to give him back his life.

Not Rodney. Rodney remains an old man.

Everyone keeps telling him it'll be alright...they all squeeze his hand and pat his head and lie directly to his face.

He wants to scream. He wants to tell everyone to stop fawning over him, get back to work and find a fucking solution.

He just wants his life back.

But he knows he won't get it back.

He can tell.

He can see the sadness in Carson's eyes when he checks him over every day and every night, dutifully doing what little he can to make him comfortable.

He can sense that damn compassion in Teyla's when she assures him that they will find a way to restore him to his former self.

Sheppard isn't the same either...he has a deep sadness in his voice and demeanor that he can't hide, no matter how hard he tries.

And he does try.

Even though the cataracts have clouded Rodney's vision quite a bit, he can still see the pity, hear the agony and sorrow in their voices...feel it coming off of his friends and comrades in waves, assaulting him with it's intensity.

Damn them. Damn them all. How dare they pity him.

They don't know...they don't understand what it's like to be trapped inside a body that won't do what you will it to.

To fight a battle with muscles that refuse to cooperate the way they're designed to.

To have the nerves ignore your conscious commands, no matter how hard you wish or hope or pray.

Yes...Rodney had actually broken down and prayed.

Well, maybe not so much prayed as rambled on inside his head to whoever happened to be on duty attending the universe at large.

As far as he could tell, no one was listening.

Not that it matters, as he sits here, listening to his own wheezy breathing. He can feel the end coming.

Feel the darkness tugging at the edges of his consciousness, trying to tempt him into it's waiting embrace.

He wonders what it'll be like when he finally does let go...when he finally stops fighting the inevitable. Will there be anything waiting for him? Will there be anyone?

One of the greatest minds in the universe is slowly slipping away into the abyss and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

He can feel it happening. Feel it getting harder to stay. Harder to force his mind to stay rooted to his body where it belongs.

He has to stay. He can't leave them.

Even though he knows they'll never be able to cure him...even though he knows that he'll never be the same...that he'll never get to be the young-

Alright, the younger man he was just a few days earlier.

If he had the strength, he might just hoist himself out of his wheelchair and toss himself off the balcony.

But he doesn't have the strength.

The fates weren't that kind.

They left him without any ability to choose his own destiny.

How dare they. How dare anyone think that they have the right to govern how his ending should come.

If there's one thing a man should have control over, it's how he dies.

He should have died like Grodin did, or Ford...or Sumner.

Well, maybe not like Sumner.

But he should have died a heroic death, a death that would have made someone proud...not rotting away in a wheelchair.

He shuts his eyes and listens to the ocean with what little hearing he has left. The waves crashing against the city of Atlantis is more beautiful than anything he ever had the pleasure of hearing on Earth.

Atlantis is his city, his greatest love...as surely as Kirk loved his Enterprise, Rodney loves Atlantis. She still holds so many secrets that he'll never have the opportunity to unravel...still retains so much knowledge that will remain unknown to him and it makes his chest ache with sorrow to think of what will be lost to him.

Another sound mingles with that of the waves of his fair planet...that of his heartbeat fluttering unevenly inside his chest.

No one is around...he barked that he wanted to be left alone with his thoughts and his friends complied.

No one is here to hold his hand as he feels his heart rate decreasing and he feels the ache of the lack of companionship.

He can feel the end is near and he suddenly finds himself wishing for a great many things he never realized he wished for before.

He's slipping deeper now, the darkness is closing in around him like a blanket and he can't fight it anymore. He just doesn't have the strength.

As his heart slows inside his chest and his mind clings to what little coherent thought is left, everything he thought was important, physics, science, knowledge, all of it flies out the window, replaced by the thought that he is dying alone.

That word echoes inside him, hurting him just as much as the physical pain of being fed upon did days ago...and as his heart beats one final time, his mind repeats the refrain of that treacherous word as though someone was whispering it into the shell of his ear.

Alone. Alone. Alone.

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A/N: Oh I so wanted to make this all a dream at the end, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I felt like it would have cheapened the work I put into it. It's been a coon's age since I wrote any angst, so if I'm rusty, forgive me. This is for the Themes challenge on the When Plot Bunnies Attack forum, the theme I chose was number forty three, Dying. Check out the challenge and tell me what you thought of my little foray into the word 'o death fic.