All Was Quiet

For a long time, Rodney McKay was perfectly, totally, completely silent. The scientist had hoped that a little peace, a little quiet would make the ache in his chest ease or keep the unshed tears from burning his eyes or stop his mouth from twitching whenever he tried to talk about his dead best friend. So he'd taken a moment to be silent, to stand outside of Mrs. Beckett's door and not think about the wail she'd let out at his quiet "I'm sorry" or the way she'd explained that she'd have to break the news six completely different times or the look on John's face when McKay had refused to let Sheppard come with him to do this.

It wasn't working. There were birds chirping and people laughing somewhere and the wind was blowing loudly through the trees. He'd never been good at silence anyway.

Rodney opened the car door, realized he was on the wrong side (he'd never gotten used to the reversed driver's seat on these European cars), decided he didn't care and sat down anyway. He left the door open, tore off his suit jacket and then just sat there, being silent, for at least three minutes. His blue eyes stared off into a nothingness that was full of Carson's laugh and the halves and pieces of his life that Rodney could remember hearing from him.

Carson had always said that his mum would like Rodney. After today, McKay knew that even if she did he could never come back here because every time he saw the red-painted door of that house it would remind him of blood and blood would remind him of Carson and if he thought any more about Carson he just might go more insane than he already was.

But he couldn't not think about Carson, and he didn't want not to. The tears started to fall and McKay brushed an angry hand across his blue eyes, refusing the moisture and the emotion attached to it free reign. He wouldn't cry. It wasn't over yet.

With mechanical movements Rodney pulled himself out of the car, closed the door, walked over to the driver's side and actually managed to get the key into the ignition before the first sob tore through his chest. It was a dry, hard compression of his muscles that made him hurt and as soon as it started he reined it in and made it stop, and that hurt worse. But he smothered it anyway, because he didn't have time for it. He slammed his foot onto the accelerator, cursed when he realized that he hadn't put the thing in gear, and finally peeled rubber out of the Beckett's neat front drive.

It wasn't until halfway back to the hotel that Rodney remembered that Mrs. Beckett had invited him and John to the funeral. It wasn't until he was telling John about Mrs. Beckett inviting them to the funeral that he realized that Carson was finally, honestly, truly gone. And not a single tear came out, because it was like being in the tower room all over again and the shock was too much to handle so he shoved it away to deal with later.

They decided to go, because Carson had always wanted to introduce them to his folks anyway. They went shopping a few hours beforehand and Rodney bought a new tie because he couldn't stand the thought of wearing the same one to the funeral as he had to Mrs. Beckett's house to tell her that her youngest son was dead. John bought them lunch and talked the entire time so Rodney wouldn't have to.

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Sheppard had to help him walk out of the church after the funeral, partly because Rodney hadn't slept in three days and sitting in a pew for so long had made him really tired, and partly because neither of them were sure what was real and what wasn't so the physical contact was actually kind of nice. They found a bench outside the church and just sat there for a long time, and Rodney tried to be silent again.

But the world was loud and noisy, even outside a church just after the biggest funeral he'd ever seen. There were birds chirping and clusters of laughing, crying people passing and the wind was blowing loudly through the trees.

And in that wind, Rodney was absolutely sure that he heard a soft, familiar Scottish brogue whisper, "Life goes on, lad. Isn't it about time you joined it?" And Rodney suddenly realized that is was Sunday morning and that a week had gone by without him noticing and that he really, really, really missed his best friend. So he talked about it. He talked and talked until the sky started to darken, until a crowd of Carson's siblings had gathered round to listen to the stories (Rodney hoped he hadn't said anything classified), until he'd gotten tear-stained hugs and condolences from people he didn't even know, and at least six invitations to dinner at the pub, most of which John accepted for them.

And when John led him back to the car, Rodney almost felt better. He almost felt like he was part of the world again. Scotland was a really beautiful place. It was no wonder, seeing the green hills and the loud family and the love and compassion all around him, why Carson had been the person he was.

"I miss him," he whispered helplessly as John let him lean against the car.

The words seemed to make the world stand still. The wind stopped, the birds were quiet and the echoes of conversation in the air deadened until they were gone. For the first time in his entire life, Rodney realized that the universe was perfectly, totally, completely silent.

It made him feel better to know he wasn't the only one who didn't know how to say goodbye to Carson Beckett.

Then the wind came back and the birds chirped again and finally, finally Rodney let the tears fall and he cried for two days straight.

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Author's Note: My way of coping with the loss of Carson Beckett, and maybe a little bit of wishful thinking on my part that maybe he isn't gone for good. Feel free to drop by and leave a review if you don't mind, I'm always glad to hear from you.