Spoilers: Up to second half of S2 "The Hive"
Summary: Ficlet about the aftermath of certain events in the episode “The Hive”. Elizabeth's perspective on what happened to McKay.
Conflict of Interests
She's been waiting for far too long, sitting here at her desk. Yet she knows when he walks in that it couldn't possibly be enough time for him.
"Well, look at you," she says, because it's hard to know what to say. She knows he shouldn't be up and about; even though it’s possible, it’s not medically advisable, just something Carson can no longer enforce.
"Ah, yes. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, as the idiom goes," he proclaims, flashing a smile to prove it. He looks pleased to be here, and she figures what it's actually about is that they're finally doing something towards the rescue, that he isn't confined and babbling anymore. He’s ready to finish what he started, what led to his overdose - saving the rest of his team.
Considering the situation, she found it rather odd that he used the words he did to describe himself. He doesn't look it. Underneath the subdued and fake cheerfulness, she can see how weary he is and his eyes look red, still a little bloodshot, showing he isn't really over this.
But the mission isn't over, either. He needs time, but it's time they don't have right now, time they need to use for something else. Therefore, his need is demoted to merely a want; he won't die if he puts it off, but others might if they wait. Still, she needs him to know something: that he isn't forgotten; he still matters, even if they can't sacrifice any time on him.
"You gave us quite a scare."
He doesn't respond to it directly, instead commenting a little on his experience.
"It was very strange. The whole time I was under the influence of the enzyme, it felt like I was, uh, I was perfectly lucid – eloquent, even. That it was you who wasn't making any sense or listening to reason. It was very peculiar. I think I kind of understand how Ford must have been feeling this whole time."
She wonders if he has a need to justify his overdose. After all, it was one of the few things she had gotten out of him after he'd returned. He'd just kept repeating how it was necessary, how he'd had to take it. Somewhere in there, he had doubts. It's something to address later; today, she simply nods. She notices the welts on his wrists from the restraints that his sleeves don't quite hide properly, the way he closes his eyes for a fraction longer than you'd expect, as if the light hurts him - and she ignores them.
Not bright-eyed, not bushy-tailed, nowhere near. But alive and surviving, meaning now isn't the time, however much she wants to talk to him and make sure he knows there is no blame; that she understands and accepts his choice, as misguided as it might have been. She mentally files it away as something for later on, after the crisis. The sad thing is, there's often no reprieve, and she finds later never comes anymore, not for that. There is always one more thing to do and deal with. Quite usually something she's not trained for, like having no clue where her people are for example. And it's so easy these days to forget he's not military – that's he's risking just as much as any of them when he walks through the gate; that he could just as easily get in trouble, not return.
What she wants all too often conflicts with what everyone needs. But nothing changes where they are now, what must be done - so she asks the questions she needs to for them all, and tries to forget how it makes him feel to be reminded of what he hadn't managed to tell them before, despite all his struggles; how what had gotten him back had made it impossible. But he is here now, one member safe, if not sound, and soon she knows they'll find out what's happened to the others.
Everything will work out, and maybe there will even be that later she wishes for. She hopes so, as she watches him walk out the door – for some things can't be put off forever.