Spoilers: Season 1, nothing more specific than characters existence.
Summary: It's practically law that you can never get rid of the jerks. Now she wishes that were true. Kavanagh/Simpson angst/tragedy.
A/N: Betaread by fififolle, Ellex and Fanwoman.
The chamber is dank and grimy, water seeping through cracks. It has been confirmed stable enough for exploration, exploration being their job. They're there for a quick preliminary, scanning the room and taking note of any features they find. There hasn't been anything particularly exciting so far, as he has commented on several times already. She finds herself wishing she was almost anywhere but here. She nearly always gets lumped on projects or missions with him, perhaps because no one else can handle him well enough and they know she can’t wriggle out of her assignments so easily. She doesn’t have the connections others do; she has nothing of real value to offer in trade so she might get out of such work.
Hence, here she is, in some decrepit Ancient catacomb on the mainland with William Kavanagh for the umpteenth time – and him no less churlish about his luck at being stuck with her again. It's so typical of him to complain about that. Then again, who doesn’t he complain about? She should probably feel lucky he merely comments to her directly, instead of bitching behind her back - not that it would be easy to do that when they are so frequently in each other’s professional company.
Moaning is exactly what he’s doing at the moment, sniping between breaths - and the usual scans they had to run – about Jenny Granger's mysterious ratio of acquisition approvals for all the best lab equipment. He has yet to imply Jenny’s been sleeping with Dr. Klaus, the scientist to whom McKay delegated the duty, but if he gets that far, he'd at least be right on this occasion.
In the middle of his tirade, suddenly there it is, a slight sound, of displaced air – a zip past her and an accompanying noise at the cessation of movement. She turns, pivoting on her heels with a certain amount of trepidation, to see him standing there, mouth open in shock, a thick, spear through his left shoulder, dangerously close to his heart. A little blood oozes out around the wound, and he gasps before collapsing.
The whole thing blurs about now. She knows she called for the medics, and that's about it. Her mind whirs as she slowly walks over, no clue exactly what set off this booby-trap, or even why it's there. What is it protecting that's so important anyway? Now's not the time to find out.
She stops midway between where she was and where he is, a sudden thought of “What if there are more?” She falters, shaking, near tears because she knows he needs help and she's the only one here right now. She doesn't know what to do, but it's somehow important that she's here and that she get to him, hold his hand, examine the injury. She can't do anything, but surely it's customary to tell the person in question they'll be fine, that's it's not as bad as it looks or feels. It might not mean anything much, but it's desperately important to her just then. It's that one thing she can do in a situation where she's in over her head.
She takes a step forward, placing it down lightly at first. When nothing clicks, she realises it’s either safe or too good of a trap to detect. Then she rushes forward, skidding down into a crouch to avoid any more of the spears, just in case. Her lungs contract painfully as her breathing comes hard, and she has to calm herself, lest she panic. That wouldn't be helpful, and all she wants is to help, in some way, any way.
Looking at him, she can't imagine how she can. She almost laughs because it seems impossible - he has an inch-round stake through him for Pete's sake! Based on his breathing, and some rather obvious deduction on her part, she'd say his lung is punctured. He's losing blood and being deprived of oxygen. He doesn't have all that long, and the walk down to this sub-level takes a couple of minutes. They might make it in time if they were running. The question is, does he have any time left, or is this it for him? Just a matter of farewells.
He isn’t supposed to die. He’s the kind who’s meant to hang around, like a bad smell, and whine and criticise until the end of time. He’s always around, bugging the hell out of someone or other, and his being there has always made her feel better somehow. Like stormy skies, he’s been there whether anyone liked it or not.
And now, she realises dully that she did like it, in a perverse kind of way. She’s denied it with every fibre of her being, but she has found some solace in his constant presence. He has been like a rock, though really more of a giant immovable boulder that gets in your way every day. He’s been part of the scenery. Everything in her life here has somehow formed around him, and she can’t face the possibility he might disappear on her like this.
She slaps him on the cheek, hard. It barely makes any difference; his eyes flutter a little. He's slipping away, and there is nothing she can do.
It was meant to be different. She shouldn’t care, not for him. He has made life hell, and she’s put up with it. But it's difficult to channel hatred for someone when a) they're dying and b) you're in denial that you could, perhaps, be in some strange kind of love with them. She wants to feel burning rage at him for dying on her, vexation at the damnable twists of fate in this horrible, wonderful galaxy. She wants to feel something, anything. She doesn’t care what emotion takes her, so long as it's not what she feels right now: this terrible ache inside that makes it difficult to draw breath, that causes tears to well up and that settles in her stomach - deep and hollow. It's fear, the fear of change, of not changing enough while you could, of not saying what you really meant and never getting the chance to.
She could tell him, maybe, if he could still hear her, but she's never truly thought about it. She has been too busy ignoring it as a ridiculous notion or an inconvenient crush, something she'd be ridiculed for - like he's the boy in the school yard nobody wants, and then, eventually, no one is allowed to want. In any case, she doesn't have the right words, or any at all, in fact, apart from the trite, meaningless three-word phrase that seems inappropriate and is, furthermore, inaccurate. This isn't some wonderful romantic fairytale. This is grim and fatal, with no promise of happily ever after.
She's about to say the only thing she thinks could really have meaning here, when help arrives. She's pushed to the side and watches silently, with the words still on her lips. She repeats them over and over in her mind, like a mantra, so she can never forget them, no matter what the outcome - “You were different.”
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