Spoilers: Up to Season 3 “Sunday”
Summary: McKay/Weir UST or unrequited. Future set MIA fic. He carries on but Atlantis will never feel the same.
Warning: Main character death.
A/N: Thanks to fanwoman and fififolle for betareading.
The city is vast, but it had never bothered him before. Once it had felt warm, inviting, full of more secrets than he could hope to explore. There had been the thrill of new scientific discoveries to lay claim to, and of course, he shouldn't forget the hope of the betterment of mankind. The last bit was more of a priority for others, like Elizabeth, but still obviously something necessary for him to recognise as important.
It was his city; in his heart, he knew it was. She might have been the leader, Sheppard along side her, but he was one of the keepers with them. Nothing had made him feel prouder than to be one of the few responsible for the magnificent place that was Atlantis. Together, they had done pretty good, their triumvirate coming out triumphant time after time, even when he had thought they'd never see the light of day again. Doom passed them by miraculously. Each time, he thought it would be their last, the one they couldn't survive. Perhaps it was unfortunate, surviving all those crises virtually unscathed, their repeated successes of getting through those crises lulling them into a false sense of security.
Now, in his dreams, it's no longer his city. A light breeze sweeps down the deserted corridors, nothing stopping it from cutting through them. It's so empty. Atlantis feels devoid of anything, its vacant disposition nearly physically painful. Foolishly, he feels the tears well up, threatening to spill over, and he can't explain why he wakes up with those same tears rolling gently down his face. It could be worse - at least he isn't sobbing like an over-sensitive child- but it's as if nothing else is disturbed by the nightmare, only his mind. The one definite sign of his grief is that small rebellion by his body, the nagging ache in his chest.
He's sick and tired of mourning for her, for all the others, too. They've lost so many people over the years that he feels like the normal reactions of grief don't adequately express his loss. He tried to give a speech at her memorial, but he failed. In front of over a hundred people, he'd been at a loss for words for the first time in his life. As tears pricked his eyes, John had stepped forward supportively, a hand on his shoulder, and had taken over from him. Deep inside, he'd resented that the eulogy had been inspiring, more than adequate for a person of her vibrancy, but it was no surprise that everyone thought John had a better understanding of Elizabeth.
Rodney had always been at a loss with how to explain personal things to people, though it'd never been a problem when she'd been around because she could translate his nervous, awkward or excited babblings effortlessly. So had Carson, he remembers, which brings yet another wave of desperation upon him. Apart from those two and his team members, others tended to think of him as socially inept, and he only proved it by being unable to give her a proper goodbye. He couldn't stand up and tell them all how much he respected her, considered her a dear friend and a simply wonderful, charming and intelligent woman. It was left unsaid, prolonging the aching inside, the guilt for giving up on her and, after that, of not confessing his feelings. She'd deserved more. He'd always felt that, which was why he'd never told her, and now, his last chance to admit it, he'd chickened out. Twice.
Mutely watching the pallbearers lift the empty coffin and walk through the Stargate had been painful, more so than fumbling his eulogy for her. By the time he'd gotten up the courage to say something, there'd been no point; it was over. She was gone in spirit, and they were gone, back to Earth. Someone else - John, he guessed but wasn't sure; he hadn't asked – taking on the job of informing her family. But then, that decision, not to deliver the news of her “death,” Rodney had made long ago. He couldn't leave; what mattered now was Atlantis, keeping her going. So he pushed himself harder to the task, stretching himself thinner because he was the only one left he trusted to do the job properly, apart from the absent John and possibly Radek.
Now he works relentlessly to keep the expedition safe, his previous efforts at the mammoth task doubled, tripled strenuously. For he has come to realise it's the only thing that has real meaning - to save others from the pain he's been through, of losing friend after friend. Maybe he can't stop what might well be fate, not that he really believes in such things. Sometimes it happens to fit with reality – with so many unlikely coincidences and nearly impossible escapes, it’s difficult for even his singularly secular mind not to ponder – but even if he can just minimize the suffering, it will be worth it to someone. Whatever he can do, he does.
Despite all efforts, he is left emptier than he ever thought he could be, but not completely empty, not empty enough for his liking. As if it wasn’t painful enough to not have love returned, to lose all hope of it, now he is haunted by these redundant, completely useless feelings. He curses the very emotions he had started to accept not too long ago, because of his experiences trying to ascend. The calm of his mind afterwards had made him think he could be happy one day – with Elizabeth, he'd hoped. He'd started to believe attachment wasn't so foolish, that they'd continue to be lucky, dodge the bullet each time, and here he is now, lamenting his choices, damning himself for thinking it could wait, that good things take time. Here he is, right where he'd feared he'd end up - alone and broken, wishing he was as emotionally vacant as the city in his nightmares so he might be spared the sadness.