“Bloody Hell!” Carson was stunned as he listened to Elizabeth’s words over the citywide PA system. Never had he imagined her doing this. Rodney must be in shock. Radek had only gotten a few meters down the hall on his way back to his lab when he’d stopped to listen. He spun on his heel and headed back to Beckett’s room, gathering him and heading them off to the gateroom.
Everyone stared at Rodney as he stared at Elizabeth’s retreating back. Unsure of what to do, the gateroom staff went back to work. There was a lot of milling around among the people on the balcony when finally Dr. Amundsen, the head of the Geology department walked up to Rodney and shook his hand. “Dr. McKay, my apologies as well.” That seemed to trigger them all to move. Slowly they filed up to him, some just shaking his hand, others with words of contrition. Eventually he was left with just John standing there.
“Now it’s my turn. I’m sorry Rodney.” The colonel stood in front of McKay waiting for him to look up and meet his eyes. “I let my anger get in the way of my judgment. I know better than that.” Rodney just stared at him, not sure what to do or say. When he didn’t respond, John continued, “I think Elizabeth has more that she’d like to say….in private. Later this afternoon, I’d like the chance to talk to you too.”
Still at a loss for words, Rodney flushed, then nodded. John patted him on the arm then gave him a shove towards the door of Weir’s office. “Go ahead, she won’t bite.”
Weir was on the balcony, staring out over the water. It had become something of a cliché for Atlantis. If you needed time to think or just a break, you went for a balcony. Rodney debated leaving when he saw her leaning over the railing but he knew there was no avoiding this talk, only putting it off.
“Elizabeth?” She turned around at the sound of her name and stared at him, a speculative look on her face. She really had no idea what his response was going to be. She could imagine everything from gratitude to outrage. Regardless, she was content. After she’d calmed down and the shaking had stopped, she’d discovered a feeling of satisfaction growing where there had recently only been sadness. The choice was Rodney’s now, where they went from here. She could be content with whatever he decided. It might not be what she’d want or hope for, but she would accept it. She hoped, at the least, that he would hear her out. There were still things that needed to be said. She smiled shyly and motioned for him to join her. They stood there together, for a while, not saying anything. He seemed at ease, and that gave her some hope. At least the angry, cold Rodney of just a few weeks ago was gone.
“You didn’t need to do that.” He turned to look at her now, wanting to see her face.
“Yes I did, Rodney. You deserved it, so did they.” Her voice was calm, but there was genuine conviction in it, none the less. She had done what was needed.
“But you aren’t responsible for my arrogance.” She raised an eyebrow at that. “Well if we’re being honest here, I was pretty insufferable, even for me.” A hint of a smile played at the corner of his mouth.
“Be that as it may, Rodney, I was the one who gave you the final go ahead.”
“As if Sheppard and I gave you any choice.”
“Don’t overestimate yourself or Sheppard, Rodney. I made the decision, over my best judgment, because I wanted the weapon as badly as you did. I was so used to you pulling off miracles it never occurred to me that I’ve come to take them for granted.”
There was silence again for a while, this time it was Elizabeth who broke it. “Out there, I apologized for failing you as a leader.” She reached up to lay her hand on his arm. “Here, now, I want to apologize for failing you as a friend. I have no excuse for it. I was angry, frightened, we’d almost lost you and John. Living here has taught me a lot about friends. I don’t think I’d want to stay here if you or John were gone. Anyway, I’m sorry, Rodney, for not being the friend I should have been, the one you deserved.”
His hand came to rest over hers, and they watched for a while longer before her earpiece crackled to life. “Dr. Weir? You’re needed in the gateroom.”
Rodney stood up with her, “No rest for the wicked?” There was a small smile on her face.
Radek and Carson were waiting outside on the balcony when the two emerged. Elizabeth glanced at them and smiled, then made her way over to the console where she was pulled into a discussion with two of the technicians who sat there.
“Rodney, he is your responsibility now.” Radek gestured towards Carson and left without further ado.
“So that was….unexpected.” They started down the hall, towards the doctor’s quarters.
“She about gave me a heart attack when I heard it citywide.” He was looking over at his companion. “I gather you talked afterwards.” They turned down a little used corridor. It wasn’t the most direct route back, but it was less traveled, more private.
“She apologized….for failing me as a friend.”
Rodney dropped Carson at his quarters then headed to the lab. The events of the morning played out over the next several hours, mostly as Rodney keeping to himself, more distracted than productive. Somewhere around 4PM, the lab door whooshed open and John walked in, stopping just over the threshold. Radek saw him and immediately shutdown his laptop, ushering the two technicians at the adjacent bench out ahead of him. Left alone, John walked over and plopped down on the stool next to Rodney.
“What’s this?” He reached for a small Ancient artifact that was sitting by Rodney’s laptop.
“Aw c’mon Rodney, it won’t hurt anything.”
“And you know that how?”
“Well, how can something so small be dangerous?”
“Does the word ‘nanites’ ring a bell, colonel?”
John huffed, “Those weren’t Ancient!” causing Rodney to roll his eyes.
Rodney looked at him and scowled, “If you want to make yourself useful, go pick up that lumpy rectangle over there.” John flashed him a genuine smile and bounced up, grateful to have something to do.
“What does it do?”
“We don’t know.”
“But you know it’s not as dangerous as that one?” He pointed to the object he’d originally singled out. Rodney shrugged. They worked for two hours, Rodney giving instructions and John carrying them out, trying everything they could to activate the device. Finally, Sheppard’s stomach grumbled. Loudly.
“Sorry.” John looked slightly embarrassed. “Dinner?” Rodney glanced at the time then shook his head. “Carson’s gonna be expecting me.”
“Oh, of course.” He stood up to leave. “Look, Rodney, before I go, I …” He sucked in a breath to calm himself. “It was nice working with you again. I’ve missed this. I just….I’m sorry, for acting like a jerk, for being such a lousy friend.”
Rodney stared at him speculatively. He’d known when Sheppard walked in that the man wanted to apologize, but wasn’t surprised when they’d fallen into working together instead. Neither was particularly good with words, not the important ones. They spoke more in actions. It was really all Rodney had needed, but he appreciated the effort that went into saying the words.
“It’s okay, I mean, I’m not always…well, my ego almost got you killed. I should have listened to Radek. You had a good reason not to trust me.”
“I do trust you. Rodney. Always have.”
“Even when I let space weapons use us for target practice?”
John picked up the device they’d been working on, idly fingering the bumpy surface. “Yeah, well, I’d appreciate if we didn’t do that again anytime soon.” He expected a snarky comeback from Rodney but instead the scientist was staring, openmouthed, at Sheppard’s hand where a row of blue lights glowed to life.
“What did you do!”
“I don’t know!” John was just as astounded
“What do you mean you don’t know? How can you turn it on and not know?! We’ve been working on it for two hours!”
“Rodney, I just picked it up. I didn’t do anything.”
“Well then don’t do anything exactly like you did before because it worked! Come on, think John, what did you not do?”
Rodney, I didn’t not do anything in particular, that I hadn’t not done for the last two hours and getting upset isn’t going to get me to not do it again any faster!”
“You know, I’m not sure I even want to know what this argument is about.” Carson’s soft brogue surprised them both. “Gentlemen.” He held out an arm indicating the way to the mess. Radek was standing beside him, having been summoned when it looked like Rodney would need prying from the lab. The foursome made their way to the mess, with John and Rodney bickering all the way.
Carson was in a teasing mood as they walked back to his quarters after dinner with Sheppard and Zelenka. “So to what do I owe this honor?”
“You’re not going back to the lab.” He smiled at Rodney’s annoyed frown.
“I can arrange to if you don’t want to see me tonight….”
“Oh no you don’t, ye daft bugger. You’re not getting out of it now.” He nudged Rodney with his shoulder as the walked side by side.
Halfway to the residential section where their rooms were located, Carson picked up the train of thought he’d had at dinner. “You and the colonel seem to have made amends.”
“It was good, working with him again. I’d missed it.”
“Just working with him?” Carson was curious how far their reconciliation had gone.
“No, you know better.”
“This had been quite a day.” He changed the subject slightly.
“I told Elizabeth she didn’t have to do that.” Rodney’s tone was slightly defensive.
“But you’re glad she did.” It didn’t take a genius to know that her public apology had spoken to the part of Rodney that had always been mocked and scorned by the world around him. Rodney nodded.
“So what made you decide to let go of it?” They’d arrived at Carson’s quarters and he thought the door open.
“Lots of things, but it started with you.” Now that surprised Carson, and he sat down on the bed, waiting to hear more. Rodney walked over to the windows and looked out on the night sky, continuing with his explanation after he’d turned to see the puzzled expression on the doctor’s face. “The day you said you were mad at me but you still loved me. See, my parents didn’t. They were always mad, fighting, and they didn’t love me, well not me or Jeannie really, or even each other. So I’ve always just assumed that those things… and well then you… and it occurred to me….” He stopped abruptly, trapping his fluttering hands under his arms. “I’m not making any sense. See you shouldn’t ask me this sort of thing. I’m lousy at it.”
Carson stood up and moved over to lean in next to his lover. “So you’re still friends, and the rest is working itself out?” He felt Rodney nod next to him.
“You said I still had a lot of making up to do.” Rodney turned to brush a gentle kiss across his lips.
“Oh. Aye, that you do, and it’s time you started.”