I am still on a writing hiatus until summer, but I did have the chance to write this short vignette. It's my idea of what a breakdown would be like for Rodney since I'm fairly sure he's on his way to one.
Spoilers: Up through Last Man. Contains speculation on next season, but does not contain spoilers for next season.
Rodney dwelt in the city of sorrows. At first he hadn't recognized Atlantis as such a place, but as each year passed, it became undeniable. Every corridor, every face, every experiment was a march in time that proclaimed the lives of those who had passed and those that were yet to come.
"Hey?" John called from behind him, his tone cautious and unusually soft.
Rodney stared at the sea. Not far away, Teyla's baby was crying. Not loud enough for Rodney to hear, of course, but it stood to reason that the child was bawling fiercely.
"Rodney?" John called again, and it was hard to ignore the worry in his voice.
Yet Rodney continued to stare at the endless waves. He couldn't say why; he just couldn't seem to do anything else.
Teyla had given birth on an unknown planet amidst gunfire. They had almost been too late.
Now Teyla and child were alive and well, a shinning beacon of a new era in Pegasus. Yet all Rodney could think about was that the child wasn't safe. Never could be safe. Not on Atlantis.
John took a seat next to Rodney, watching his friend behind dark glasses.
"This is a new one." A pause. "You not talking that is. Normally it's all I can do to keep Ronon from kicking your ass because you're talking too much."
"Go away." He wasn't going to admit how much effort it had taken just to say that much.
Rodney hated to admit it, but hewas depressed. It wasn't an instantaneous change, but rather so subtle that he never noticed it coming. One day he was a member of a team exploring a new galaxy and the next he was missing Elizabeth and Carson and so many others. Meanwhile, Pegasus had grown old, and Rodney had grown weary of her grandeur. He couldn't help but think that this was what going insane felt like, and he couldn't even bring himself to care that he might be right.
One thing was for sure, this was not normal.
"You didn't show up for work today. Radek was about to call a search team when he noticed you out here."
Rodney's feet splashed in the waters below, long past the freezing stage and well into the disturbing numb stage. It should concern him, and any other day it would have, but not now and not today. For whatever reason, he had woken up with less energy than he had had when going to sleep. He had made it half way to his lab when he found himself doing a 180 and heading out to the pier. Why? He couldn't say. He just couldn't go to his lab, couldn't face this day.
He'd never been like this before.
Sure there were the angsty teenage years, but they were fueled by more fears than regrets, and Rodney had a lot of regrets now. Oh God, he was going to drown in a sea of regrets and no one would ever find the body.
"Look, I didn't come out here to talk to myself. What's wrong with you?"
Whatever happened to Ford? Was he still alive? Was he slowly dying from lack of enzyme as more and more Wraith died or had he accidentally taken in the Hoff virus when stripping a Wraith of his precious drug?
"You missed the staff meeting. Keller thinks she's getting close to reviving Carson…"
So we'll lose him again?
Wow, that was really morose. This sucked, being down and not talking and not working. What the hell was wrong with him?
"Rodney, you're starting to scare me."
Me too. Rodney could only guess how desperate John must have been to say something like that in the first place. How much time had passed? He couldn't help but feel he had missed half of what John had been saying.
The sea had a soft voice. When Rodney was little he always dreamed of going to the ocean and allowing the waves to lull him to sleep.
"I'm going to call for help if you don't start answering me. Seriously. I don't want to do that but…"
Oh, please, give me a break. It's not like I'm standing on a cliff.
John was panicking. He'd lost too many people, too. Hell, maybe he was on the verge of his own breakdown. Maybe they all were. Pegasus wasn't a horse; she was a snake that coiled round its victims until they suffocated.
Okay…again with the disturbing.
So did that confirm it? Was he having a breakdown? What was a breakdown anyway but a problem with chemicals in the brain? Did it mean he was crazy? Probably. Did it mean they'd send him home?
No, not home. They'd send him to that foreign land where people lived in ignorance of true science and didn't understand him and…
Wait. What was he thinking? He couldn't risk a breakdown!
"Rodney?" That was a new voice. Keller's? Rodney willed his head to turn and see her and to tell her that he was fine and John was just being an idiot. His head didn't move. It was eerie how resolved it was to staying in place, defying him.
"He's been like this for a while, doc," John explained.
No, no, no. I'm fine! See, I'm fine!
Why weren't the words coming out? He was still staring, catching only bits and pieces of John and Keller's conversation. It was surreal and wrong wrong wrong!
"I'm fine!" he shouted, surprised by his own voice.
Keller flinched back, her eyes wide as they always were when she was surprised. "Okay, you're fine," she said cautiously, reaching out her hand again. "I just want to take you to the infirmary, okay? Just a quick check to confirm that everything's okay."
Stop talking to me as if I'm crazy. My brain is thousands of times more powerful than yours so I think it would know if I wasn't fine, thank you very much.
John helped lift him up. He found himself walking down the pier and toward the glass doors then down the corridor and another corridor and everything going by in dazes and daises. Wow, that really made no sense, but the thought of daises was strangely alarming.
He saw faces watching him but all he saw was death. Didn't they know that they would die? That's what Atlantis did! It killed people…it…
A brown bag was placed in his hand. He didn't even process what it was for before he found himself breathing into the darned thing. No no no. Not a breakdown. There had to be some way for this not to be him being crazy, because he wasn't crazy. If he had it in him, he would have broken long ago. Not now. Not after rescuing Teyla and baby and…
His eyes clenched closed. I'm okay. I have to be okay.