For a brilliant man, Rodney McKay could be damn stupid at times.
It wasnít about five-sixths of a solar system that was now so much cosmic dust on the other side of the galaxy. It wasnít about the loss of a potential new energy source or a potential weapon in the battle against the Wraith. It was about friendship. It was about trust; knowing the other person well enough to recognize their limits and believing they would know them as well.
Until the Arcturus incident, John could honestly say he hadnít seen Rodney pushed to his intellectual limit. Yes, he complained about many tasks being impossible, but he always managed to pull some technical miracle out of his hat at the end and savage the situation. This time, however, he hadnít and if it hadnít have been for Caldwell and the Daedalus, they both would have paid the price.
So yes, John had been pissed at Rodney because he should have known his own limits; it as only days later, after another exchange that could be called perfunctory at best, that he realized he was pissed at himself. Rodney was Rodney and part of that package was the monumental ego that never allowed him to admit there was a problem he couldnít solve. It hadnít been Rodneyís job to pull the plug on the mission, it had been Johnís and by the time he realized it, it had almost been too late for both of them.
With this realization came both a sense of freedom and a feeling of a tremendous weight settling on his shoulders. Yes, John knew he was responsible for the whole damn expeditionís safety, but this was different, it was personal, it was Rodney, and that made all the difference.
It took another few days of wrestling with the concept to fully come to terms with it and once he had and went searching out the scientist, John discovered heíd pulled in his bridges and barricaded his doors, living as solitary an existence as a person could in a community the size of Atlantis.
If there was one thing John Sheppard understood, it was loneliness. It didnít matter if you were in a jam-packed bar, a crowded mission briefing or a mess hall full of people in a lost city built by a long-dead race, there were times when you could feel totally alone, even among friends.
If those friends let you be that way.
John grabbed his tray of food and started across the mess hall, the weight of his responsibility settling more closely around his shoulders until it felt more like hug than anything else. All right, heíd accept it, heíd save Rodney McKay from everything life threw at him - even if that meant the man himself.
Stopping at the table near the window, John took a moment to study the flickers of expressions that crossed Rodneyís face as he stared out at the waves; sorrow, loss, and finally a steely determination, as if Rodney had come to some important decision.
"Hey." It took a moment for Rodney to register the fact that John was there, and even longer to look at him. "This seat taken?"
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