Author’s note: As a huge fan of TLC I’m well acquainted with the acronym ‘diy’ for those that are not it means ‘do it yourself’. Trust me, there is a reason for this information.
Special thanks to burningchaos and brandywine for the great beta jobs - you’re both, in the words of Sheppard, cool.
Three quarters of a solar system, well, five sixths to be more precise.
How many planets were in that solar system other than Doranda? How many millions of lives on those never to be known planets had he snuffed out because of his arrogance? Who was the Dr. Fumbles McStupid now?
The perpetual motion machine that was Rodney’s brain had finally fallen silent under the weight of his guilt. His egotism had killed Collins, had nearly killed Sheppard and himself, had alienated Weir, Zelenka and almost all of his staff and had quite possibly wiped out millions of lives. And all because he believed that Project Arcturus was his own personal Manhattan Project.
How could he have been so blind?
The sob caught Rodney unaware. He’d never been overly emotional, so why was he leaking like a DIY’ers faucet? And the noises coming from his throat, god, he sounded like a wounded animal, so why couldn’t he stop? At least his tattered dignity would remain intact, what with him having stepped into a transporter and hit a random, uninhabited part of the city in order to give himself complete privacy to think.
He’d made his apologies to everyone, leaving Sheppard until last, and then had quietly slipped away, leaving his com on his desk in the lab. Not that he actually expected anyone to look for him. After all, everyone was avoiding him, like Sheppard had intimated in their last, oh god, their last conversation.
How could he go back? Face them all? How could he answer the questions that needed answering without everyone second-guessing him again? Rodney’s intellectual certainty was now flawed, fallible. There were no more rabbits to be pulled out of his hat, no more miracles to make him shine. He’d been exposed, his golden sheen scraped away to reveal the dross beneath.
Would anyone miss the 9mm he’d checked out of the armory, Rodney wondered as he looked down at the weapon strapped to his leg. Would he actually be able to use it and put Atlantis out of its misery, or would he be a coward in this, as in all things? Only time would tell. Perhaps this once fate would smile on him and he’d have the chance to die clean, if not die well.
It irked him more than he knew how to express, the way everyone was treating Dr. McKay. The people who had time and again expected Rodney to pull off one miracle after another and to save their collective asses with his brilliance had turned on the man like a pack of ravening wolves at the first mistake he made. Oh, it had been a great one, no question about that, but he hadn’t been the first to make such catastrophic mistakes from the Atlantis expedition.
John Sheppard had awakened the Wraith, and look at the devastation they had wrought on the galaxy. Elizabeth Weir had changed the future - for good or for ill none could say beyond the fact that the Atlantis expedition lived instead of dying; who knew what the long-term effects could be? Carson Beckett had helped create a vaccine that wiped out half of an entire planet just so the other half could live that much longer before the Wraith decided to destroy the planet for being unpalatable.
So many rules had been broken or ignored, military protocols, the Geneva Convention, hell, they’d even bartered for nuclear weapons. How quickly Weir, Sheppard and the others had forgotten the old biblical adage ‘let ye who is without sin cast the first stone.’ Caldwell, at least, had been honest in his desire for a weapon and was willing to take it above Dr. Weir’s head to get what he wanted.
Dr. Weir could have said no. Sheppard could have put a stop to the experiment before it had gone critical; even Radek could have refused to help. No, while Rodney was guilty of great hubris regarding his intelligence, he could not shoulder the blame for this disaster alone. And yet, everyone loves a scapegoat and in this case hisname was Rodney McKay.
The poor man. For all his outward bluster he felt deeply and truly. Each death of a member of his team cut into the man. After each one he would spend hours composing handwritten letters to the family of the deceased, praising them and speaking of the self-sacrifice and heroism of their son/daughter/sister/brother, even those that didn’t really deserve to be so lauded. But very few knew of that side of Rodney McKay, and even fewer cared to find out.
He knew, however. He’d stayed up and watched Rodney write, ripping out page after page of paper when the words he wanted to say wouldn’t come out right. Rodney was a scientist, not a linguist; the words didn’t flow; they were stilted and choppy, awkward in the extreme, but they had feeling behind them. Depth. Like the man himself.
Such a pity people turned a blind eye to the man beneath the illusion he had created to keep everyone at bay.
But not Carson Beckett. He’d had to deal with his own demons after Hoff, so he had a fairly good idea what Rodney was going through right now and damned if Carson was going to be one of those fair-weather friends who ran when the weather turned foul. Now all he had to do was find McKay and be the friend that the man deserved.
Carson had never been so thankful of his gene as he was right now. There Rodney was, gun in hand and staring at it with an intensity that was terrifying.
It had taken a bit of work to figure out how to find Rodney, but he’d managed to do so by a process of elimination. He’d first checked Rodney’s quarters and then his lab, where he’d found the com. That had been enough of a jolt to get the normally sedate Scot to move like there was a Wraith behind him. Rodney never went anywhere without his com while on Atlantis. Hell, the man probably even went to the loo with it on.
After that shock to the system Carson had braved the control tower, and with a few hushed words to that nice Canadian sergeant he’d managed to locate a single life sign in an unused portion of the city. His gut had told him it was Rodney, and so he’d listened. After all, he was a man who practiced voodoo on a regular basis.
Carson made his way over to where his friend sat as silently as possible. Oh, he had no doubt that the good doctor was aware of his presence but had chosen to ignore it. "Rodney, what are ye about, man?" he asked quietly, watching the scientist carefully.
"Ars moriendi," Rodney replied distantly, his thumb rubbing back and forth across the safety. ‘The art of dying’, or more particularly the art of dying well.
Carson reached out and gently but firmly placed his hand over Rodney’s, stilling the thumb and holding Rodney motionless. "I’ll not tell you all the obvious reasons not to do what yer thinking of; I’ll not insult yer intelligence like that. And ye are intelligent, Rodney, the smartest man I know. Instead I’ll tell ye but one. If ye pull that trigger, ye’ll be leavin’ me without a man I consider my most valued friend."
"Friends come and go; you’ll find someone else to value, just like everyone else has. I hear that Radek is the new Rodney."
"I’ve never been one t’follow the trends, Rodney; you should know that. Besides which, he’ll never be you, I promise you. And he’ll never mean to me what you do," Carson promised quietly.
"What? He’ll never be the whining, pain in the ass, hypochondriac thorn in your side?" Rodney replied sarcastically.
"No, you daft man," Carson replied with a kind smile. "He’ll never be the love of me life." And with that the CMO leaned in and kissed Rodney carefully on the lips. "Even if I’ll never be yours, I simply can’t imagine living my life without you in it. So put the gun away and come home with me, Rodney McKay. I promise t’love ye, warts, ego, hypochondria and all."
"You promise?" It wasn’t the arrogant, sure of himself scientist asking the question, but the little boy so desperate for love and acceptance buried deep within.
"Aye, love, I promise," Carson replied gently. "Perhaps instead of ars moriendi ye’d be willing t’try ars vivendi with me?"
"Ars vivendi, the art of living. That does sound better, doesn’t it?" Rodney mused as he re-engaged the safety and slowly slid the 9mm back into its holster.
"Hey, Carson? We don’t have to tell anyone about," Rodney’s hands waved towards his side arm.
"No, luv, it’ll be our secret."
"About that loving you back? I think it’s quite doable. Just like you are."
"I’m glad t’hear it, luv. So, shall we try livin’ t’gether and see what fate has in store for us?"
"That would be a yes, Dr. Beckett," Rodney replied with a glimmer of his trademark smirk. "That I can do."
|ars moriendi||"The Art of Dying" is the name of two related Latin texts dating from 1415 and 1450 which offers advice on the protocols and procedures of a good death and on how to "die well", according to Christian precepts of the late Middle Ages.|
|ars vivendi||The "art of living right".|
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