Disclaimer: I do not own Atlantis or the characters, because if I did this fic would never have been written.
Author's Note: I needed to deal with my sadness after watching 'Sunday' and this is how I did it. I wrote it in only a few hours so I apologize if it seems too rushed.
Rodney McKay once almost ascended. He, and most of the people on Atlantis had not thought it possible, but the EEG reading was conclusive. Dr. Rodney McKay, the arrogant, selfish scientist could have ascended. Luckily for the poor souls on Atlantis in need of his genius, Rodney had figured out in his state of almost-ascension how to undo the effects of the Ancient machine. All of his special abilities were taken away, a small price to pay for his life. So no more telekinesis, no more mind-reading, no more super genius for Rodney McKay. No more ability to heal those mortally wounded, to heal his friends.
That was what hurt the most, Rodney decided. Going up to the fire-scorched hall and finding the mangled body of his best friend and knowing that just a month ago he might have saved him, saved Carson as he had Radek. But now he could do nothing. He had not shouted his grief and slammed his fist into a wall like Ronon, nor cried like Elizabeth, or calmly started ordering a body bag like Sheppard. He had just stood there, doing nothing. He still did nothing, knew he could do nothing because the world had tilted on its axis and nothing could ever be right again, so he did nothing but wait. Oh, he picked up Carson's room, packed his stuff neatly in boxes, but he was just going through motions while he waited.
He waited for the moment he knew was coming, the moment every cell in his body was anticipating. It had happened before and he figured would happen for a long time to come. After the first terrifying occurrence, Rodney realized that it was probably an affect of his almost-ascension: a chance to see the departed one last time.
It happened first on the station where they found an entire civilization frozen in stasis. Soon after Herick had committed suicide-by-shuttle, Rodney saw the pilot standing near him. Herick had apologized, his eyes full of sadness and yet hope, and then faded from sight. At first Rodney had attributed the sighting to being knocked around the control room and then the stress of imminent death. It was not until after that mission, when the Atlanteans were helping reintegrate Jamus and his people that he realized that something was going on.
Despite Rodney's strident objections, Carson had insisted that he be checked over with the rest of his team instead of overseeing the reintegration process. As soon as he was cleared he had started walking quickly to the room where his inept underlings were probably messing up the whole operation. As Rodney walked through the empty hall he was stopped by Jamus. "Oh hi. I guess everything's going well."
Jamus gave Rodney a content smile, a strange look on a face that had been so careworn on the moon base. "Yes, everything is well. I wished to thank you for your aid. I know you may not forgive me for using your friend as a hostage, but you see, my daughter and granddaughter were in that stasis pod and I could not let them die. So I thank you, for saving them."
Rodney had just shrugged, uncomfortable with the man's gratitude. "Oh, well if Teyla comes out of this fine, I guess I can forgive you. I'd probably do the same if, well, I have a sister and, um, I guess I understand why you did it." Suddenly even more uncomfortable, Rodney quickly started walking away, muttering his good-byes without a backwards glance.
When he had made it to the lab, he walked in with his usual snappy air. "Well folks, I saw Jamus walk by so I guess you haven't screwed everything up entirely." He had been met by several shocked and open-mouthed faces. "What?"
Radek Zelenka pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "Rodney, Jamus did not survive the reintegration process. He was already too weak."
Through his own shock, Rodney managed to babble something about mistaken identities and hurried to help with the operation. The rest of Jamus' people and, thankfully, Teyla all reintegrated without problems and in the chaos of reintegrating several thousands of people including children, Rodney's brush with Jamus was forgotten.
Forgotten until the next time it happened. A few weeks later, one of Rodney's scientists had activated an unknown device that had turned out to be a poisonous gas bomb. Three scientists had been seriously injured and the marine who had dragged them out of the gas cloud had died. After yelling at his scientists to be more cautious and lecturing them on the consequences of carelessness for the next few days, Rodney had retreated to a lonely balcony to get away from the incompetence. As he had continued to silently berate the stupidity of his scientists and the needless deaths they had caused, he was interrupted when he felt a presence behind him. Thinking it was Sheppard or Ronon, Rodney had turned only to stare in disbelief at Sergeant Carroway who had died only a few days before.
"Oh great, I'm going crazy."
The young, red-haired man had rolled his eyes as he leaned against the wall near the door. "You're not crazy Dr. McKay."
"Not crazy! I'm seeing dead people!"
Carroway just smiled. "You shouldn't be too hard on yourself. This is Atlantis, things happen."
McKay turned away from the apparition. "I'm not listening to a figment of my imagination."
"From what I've heard you should listen to 'figments of your imagination' more often." That got a snort of derision from the scientist. Carroway's smile never left, but his eyes softened. "Hey, I'm sorry we're gonna have to cancel our shooting lessons. Guess you'll have to badger another marine into helping you get good enough to beat Sheppard."
Rodney mouth twitched as he looked at the soldier. "And Ronon."
"And Ronon. I'd suggest Lt. Cadman." At Rodney's glare, Carroway laughed. "So long McKay."
Rodney watched as Sgt. Carroway faded with a wave. "Good-bye."
That had been the last time someone had died on Atlantis. Now so many had died in the two explosions that had torn the heart out of the city. And Rodney could do nothing. He just waited because he knew that he would show up. Rodney needed him to show up, needed to tell Carson how sorry he was and to have that one chance to say good-bye to his best friend.
Yet he waited. Days passed, Rodney had packed up Carson's room, gone to the memorial service, flown to Scotland to tell Mrs. Beckett her son was not coming home. He had laughed and cried through Carson's wake, stood red-eyed at the funeral. Then after returning to Atlantis, he waited. He saw the others who had died, Dr. Hewston being especially apologetic for blowing up and Rodney had the unpleasant task of giving her a smile and comforting words while inside he wanted to scream at her for turning on the device that caused Carson's death.
By the time the marine from the ordinance disposal crew gave a last wave, Rodney felt sick. Where was Carson? What was the use of being able to speak to the dead when the one person he wanted to say goodbye to never showed up? Would he just spend the rest of his life waiting, and looking over his shoulder for the friend who he would never see again?
It was then that Rodney realized that he needed to get away. There were so many people around him in Atlantis. In fact, the few times he had been alone, the others who had died had barely a few minutes before they faded when the living interrupted. Carson would not want to be interrupted, not with this. So Rodney had to get away from everything, everyone. Ignoring the worried looks on his team members' faces, Rodney abruptly left them in the mess hall and walked. He walked passed the scientists, the marines, the doctors, all with haunted eyes, and opened the door to the south-east pier. Walking across the platform, Rodney stood at the edge, watching the waves rolling in the distance as the setting sun spread radiant colors across the surface.
A small smile flittered onto his face as Rodney felt a familiar presence walk up beside him. "How'd it go back on Earth?" came the soft, Highland voice, and Rodney knew, as awful as the ache in his heart was, that everything would be alright.
Carson Beckett in mermoriam