A/N: The Snarktastic legacy lives on...why? Because I found a load of old unpublished one-shots and needed somewhere to stick 'em. So, Atlantistastic! was born. More drabbles and one-shots with an Atlantis flavored theme than you can shake a stick at. There will be the required Rodney-ness that you've come to expect from me, but for a change, I'm branching out, babe! Every pairing, every genre, every character...request it and it'll be written, kids. Pay attention to the chapter names to find the stories that feature your favorite characters and pairings. Don't see what you want? Request it!

Now then, let's dive in, shall we?

Prompt: The first sentences challenge on the When Plot Bunnies Attack forum, number seven: Love thyself.

Word Count: 800



Love thyself was never a concept that Rodney McKay had a problem understanding. To the outside observer, he absolutely adored himself, and to the not so outside observer...someone who knew him a little bit better than those he met on the street...

Well, he was a good man but he was still a conceited man.

Rodney kept his more prickly personality traits closer to the surface, using them as a shield for his deeper, more vulnerable self. The sarcasm and inflated ego were nothing more than smoke and mirrors to keep his feelings under wraps.

After all, it was much easier to snap at someone than it was to break down...much easier to keep from being hurt if he struck first and didn't let anyone in.

But even Rodney's defense mechanisms weren't fool proof. Like any other kind of armor, they could be pulled away like so much wrapping paper and shredded before his eyes, leaving his emotions naked and exposed for all the world to see.

It only happened under the most extreme of circumstances--when his feelings were so potent that he couldn't bury them beneath seemingly impenetrable layers of work, self absorption and snappy comebacks--but it did happen.

Far more often than he liked to admit, in all honesty.

Whenever Rodney was feeling vulnerable, he would put himself in self imposed solitary confinement, finding peace with silence and his own company, rather than finding comfort with friends the way 'normal' people would. He liked being alone when he needed to think about things. It gave him an opportunity to recharge and to make certain that his 'I don't like you, go away' mask was put firmly back in place where it belonged.

There were a few people who could rip off that mask, toss it aside and see what lay beneath, whether he liked it or not, but recently, that select number had suffered

a loss.

Which was why Rodney was staring sightlessly at the waves, trying to make sense of the universe. If he were rational and someone had suggested that he wasn't able to make sense of the universe, he would have snapped at them, waved his high IQ around in circles and said that he knew how to make sense of the universe just fine, thank you very much.

And he could...through the eyes of logic and science.

Through the eyes of a man--a man who was currently feeling like he was drowning in feelings that he usually tried to keep buried--nothing made sense anymore.

The closest thing he'd ever had to a best friend had suddenly been torn away from him and he felt...

He felt lost.

There was just no other word for it.

Maybe 'numb' would have fit in this situation, but he was hurting too much.

Guilt was a powerful master for Rodney, blinding in its intensity and with a firm choke hold around his throat. He didn't feel guilty often, but when he did he made it count.

Today was one of those days.

Even if he knew running the scenario over and over again in his head wouldn't solve anything, he still couldn't shake the thoughts of Carson that haunted him. It was like the man was standing right there, staring at him reproachfully.

Though he spoke to the specter...said goodbye...made it known just how bad he felt...he knew that it was nothing more than his mind trying to cope with the loss in the only way it knew how: by calling up a vision of a man who couldn't possibly be there and making the aforementioned vision absolve him of some of his guilt the way a priest in a confessional could.

Rodney sighed. He should have gone fishing...he'd have been so much happier if he'd gone fishing...

But nooooo, he had to pull out of the deal at the last minute...

And take away Carson's good time, only to replace it with death.

For this, Rodney was angry at himself, but the anger was buried beneath the immeasurable layers of remorse and grief that were floating on top of all his other emotions. Self loathing had taken the place of inflated ego, an almost wholly unfamiliar feeling.

What he regretted most of all was the fact he hadn't gotten the opportunity to say goodbye to Beckett...

Of course, if given the choice, he would have rather not said goodbye at all...but if wishes were horses...

He really should've just gone fishing...

McKay straightened up slightly, his eyes gone wide and shiny with the light of a good idea coming from their depths.

He could make it up to Beckett...in spirit if not in truth...he could...

An ironic little upwards twist of the lips accompanied Rodney's statement to the air around him, "I'm going to need a fishing pole."