On Any Given Day - The Watch Stander
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A Fifth season!!! Thank you all for watching Atlantis, it made the difference.
Chapter 11 - Forgiveness
When Sheppard entered the room, McKay was lying with his face turned toward the chair, still asleep. One hand resting on the bandage over his wound as if to protect it. He looked pale as a ghost with dark circles still surrounding his eyes.
John slowly sat in the chair next to the bed, leaned back against the wall and waited for the scientist to wake up as his thoughts about what to say and how to say it, ran through his mind.
He also thought about how all of the things that had happened lately to the man lying here had been bad. After the seige from the Wraith, McKay had almost died on the way back from Earth on the Daedalus, then Ford tried to kill him as well.
Now I've almost gotten him killed. Everything is so screwed up...
If they ever found Ford again, John would have to consider him a potential murderer. Aiden trying to kill McKay was not acceptable, the young Marine had better have a good explanation or else deadly force would have to be used against him.
While all of this went through his mind, he didn't notice Rodney twitch several times as a nightmare began to take hold of the scientist.
Lost in his dream, Rodney felt more afraid than he had ever known, for he was back in the weapon's outpost on Duranda. The weapon's gage before him kept rising and he couldn't make it stop. Looking up from the screen, he sought Sheppard to inform him that he was no longer able to stop the weapon's power spike and had failed to control it, but the soldier was gone.
He was now alone . . . with no more time left. The weapon's overload status went off the scale.
Knowing that there was nothing more he could do, he closed his eyes and waited for the inevitable explosion.
A huge light enveloped him - then his body jerked as he cried out -No!
His heart still pounded as the weapon room slowly dissolved around him, then a voice spoke to him, "Easy, Rodney, it's just a dream . . . "
He opened his eyes, someone was holding his arm and talking to him, so he tried to calm himself, realizing that it had just been another nightmare.
John placed his hand on Rodney's shoulder, gently holding him down, as the scientist got his emotions under control."Take it easy Rodney, it was just a dream, you're safe." He rubbed the scientist's shoulder, trying to be reassuring.
Rodney swallowed, took a deep breath, then slowly turned his face to see who was here beside him. Finding Sheppard there, he tried to smile at him, so glad that a familiar face was here with him and he wasn't dead.
"Sheppard, "he managed to croak, wiping his face with his hand as he tried to grasp all that had happened, but as reality slowly came back, his smile faded.
Why was Sheppard here?
"What are you doing here?" it sounded pitiful, but he had to know.
John looked at him, trying to decide what to say. Carson would kill him if he said the wrong thing and upset Rodney. An angry Scot was not something Sheppard wanted to deal with right now.
"I think we need to talk," was all he said.
Rodney looked confused, then realized what it meant. "Oh," he replied softly, thinking he was in for a lecture.
Sheppard tried to smile, but instead settled for taking a deep breath. Not good with expressing feelings, he was even worse with apologies. This was not going to be easy by any means, but there were things that had to be said to make things right.
"What happened to you in the outpost was my fault and I'm sorry, Rodney, I didn't mean for you to get hurt. If I'd know there were Genii on the planet, we would have left immediately."
Rodney's eyes widened in surprise, Sheppard had never said he was sorry to him before. Usually it was him apologizing to Sheppard for something he'd said or done or caused. He remained silent, not knowing what to say
John quickly went on, hoping to get it all out before he lost his nerve. "I also owe you an apology for being angry and unfair in the way I've treated you lately. Something happened at the weapon facility on Duranda that shook me up inside." He looked down at the floor trying to gather his thoughts, it was so hard for him to admit this to himself, never mind telling other people.
The silence from Rodney was unnerving, so John finally looked up and stared at him, "Look, when you wouldn't listen to me and leave . . . I almost left you there. Something stopped me and I gave you my speech about pilots . . . but I don't know if I would have still left if you hadn't decided to leave with me. It was a close call . . . I hate to think I would leave a friend behind, just to save my own skin."
John then turned away, avoiding McKay's astonished look. Staring straight ahead, he continued, "Would I have gone? I don't know . . . when you did come with me, I managed to bury it, but inside I was still angry with myself."
He paused for a moment. "I meant it when I said we don't leave people behind, it's something I've always believed, but when it came to crunch time at Duranda, I almost broke that rule and left you there."
He looked at Rodney with a haunted look in his eyes," What kind of a person leaves a friend behind to die? That's a question that's been bothering me ever since it happened. Every time I saw you after that, reminded me of the fact, that I almost left and failed both you and myself. That's why I was so angry, it wasn't you I was angry with . . . but me . . . with what I almost did . . . "
Rodney continued to stare at him, not knowing what to say to the man. Never good with emotions or comfort, he honestly didn't know how to react to Sheppard's confession or what the soldier expected from him. .
However, the one thing he was very familiar with was failure, he'd felt it enough times in the past two years. He knew what it was to fail people and watch them die, it hurt and he always felt it was his fault no matter what people said to him after.
Yes, I know failure very well, we're old enemies and we battle each other on a frequent basis.
Rodney's looked down at his hands as he quietly replied, "Sheppard, it's not your fault that you wanted to leave, self-preservation is always the number one priority of any species. Everyone feels that way when threatened. It's part of us."
He stopped for a moment then looked at Sheppard with a vulnerable look on his face, "What's remarkable about you, is the fact that you stayed and finally made me leave. It's who you really are, a soldier maybe, but a decent person, who takes risks to help others. I know that . . . It's why I left with you. I... knew you'd stay till the end and I couldn't let that happen. I... didn't want another person to die because of me."
Sheppard could see the honest emotion that was written all over Rodney's face. He Knew the man wasn't just saying things to make him feel better, but meant every word, for this was the real McKay, not the arrogant ass persona he tried to hide behind.
Suddenly embarrassed by Sheppard's close scrutiny, Rodney looked away. His eyes began to water as his emotions came close to the surface, "I 've messed up . . . so many people have died around me, when I couldn't protect them by finding a way to defeat the Wraith. I failed with the weapon and destroyed any chance we had of ever using it and now everyone hates me . . . I've even lost your respect and trust," he sounded defeated and heartbroken.
Listening to this confession made John feel terrible, the man before him had been coming apart these past two weeks and all he had done to help, was get angry and almost get the man killed.
"Rodney, that's not true, I don't hate you . . . " He tried to smile, but sighed instead. "We both made mistakes . . . I can't begin to tell you how sorry I am that I put you in harm's way."
His voice suddenly seemed rough, but he went on with sincerity clearly in it, "Please believe me when I say, I would never let anything happen to you if I could help it."
When he looked at Rodney, he saw surprise then hope appear on his face.
"Really?" Rodney replied quickly, then embarrassed, he tried to change the question. "I mean . . . you don't hate me?"
John started to grin, knowing full well what Rodney had meant. The snarky little guy probably never had a friend or anyone who gave two cents about his welfare before he came to Atlantis. He probably wasn't even aware of how many people worried about him and there were a lot of people that cared, his team, Elizabeth, Radek, Lorne and many others. With McKay you either liked him or ignored him. There was no in between.
"No, I don't hate you," he said seriously, then added, "But . . . you drive me crazy sometimes . . . "
Rodney tried to look indignant," What? ... I do not!"
John slowly smiled and squeezed his arm, "Just try and stay sane for me, we'll get through this . . . "
The scientist appeared thoughtful for a moment and then with a hurt puppy look, he sadly asked, "Will you ever trust me again?"
That look always got to John, he found it heartbreaking, so he nodded and replied softly, "Yeah . . . I will . . . it'll just take a little while to get over everything that's happened." He watched Rodney carefully for his reaction, wanting him to believe that they would get through this.
Sharp stabbing pains in his chest made Rodney's eyes begin to water, his wound was hurting again as the medication wore off. Taking a breath, he tried to regain control for he needed to say a few more things to Sheppard.
"I accept your apology for what happened on the planet, but I also want you to know that I'm sorry things got so out of control on Doranda."
Now out of breath, his voice full of emotion and pain, he was barely able to whisper, "Please believe me when I say . . . that I'll never use your friendship to get what I want again."
John smiled at him, "I know that, but if you need me . . . " he took hold of McKay's arm again, "Don't ever be afraid to ask . . . "
Rodney swallowed, as his face paled and he grimaced in pain. Perspiration appeared on his brow - his wound was throbbing and his chest felt like it was on fire, "I think I need Carson," he gasped.
"I'll get him," John immediately got up, "Just don't go anywhere . . . " he tried to say teasingly as he left.
"Right, as if I could even move . . . " Rodney painfully snarked back as he sank deeper into the pillows. A wave of pain rolled through him and he closed his eyes.
Carson quickly returned with Sheppard and sat on the bed to check Rodney's vitals. "How are you feeling, Rodney?" he asked softly, as he observed the pain lines and perspiration on the scientist's face.
"Not so good, feels like a nail's being driven into my chest." Rodney managed to whisper, the pain taking his breath away.
"Aye, your pain meds are wearing off. You and the Colonel have a talk?"
"Yes, please Carson, it hurts . . . " Rodney whimpered.
Carson wasn't being deliberately cruel, but he did need to know if Rodney's level of pain was genuine or if he was using it to avoid Sheppard.
"All right then, I'll give you something for it . . . " He got up and injected a needle into the IV drip. It only took a moment for Rodney's look of pain to disappear as the painkiller went through his veins.
"Better now?" he asked his patient.
"Yes, Thanks, Carson," Rodney looked up at his friend gratefully, his blue eyes expressing how much he appreciated the Doctor's help.
Carson smiled and patted Rodney's hand affectionately."You want to stay awake and talk some more with Colonel Sheppard, or do you want to sleep?"
Rodney could see Sheppard standing in the shadows, waiting, "I'll stay awake if it's all right."
"Of course, but only for fifteen more minutes, then you need to rest." Carson turned and looked at Sheppard to be sure he understood.
John stepped out of the shadows and smiled at Carson. "We'll only be a few more minutes. I know he needs his beauty rest."
"Aye, that he does and so do you. I'll be back in a few minutes to tuck him in."
After Carson left, Sheppard sat on the edge of the bed in front of Rodney, so he could see him better, "So, you think we can get past this and be a team again?" He looked directly at Rodney, the loaded question seeming to hang in the air between them.
Rodney suddenly felt very tired, his emotions had been on a roller coaster ride for the past hour, but it was a good feeling as well. Not like the way he had been feeling for the past two weeks. Now his heart was no longer aching and there was a feeling of warmth and well-being inside him, knowing there were people who actually cared about him.
Sheppard doesn't hate me . . . he apologized for his behavior . . .
He looked at Sheppard sitting before him and smiled shyly, "I think so . . . "
John grinned and nodded, it seems they were going to get through this together after all.
An: This ending was tough to write! Did it over three times, hope everyone enjoyed it. I think I need to write something humorous after this. Hmmm, what will it be...got just the thing...off to write it!