Spoilers: For S1 of The 4400 and S1 of SGA too.
Summary: Marco Pacella breathes in deeply and prepares for the journey of a lifetime. AU crossover between The 4400/Stargate Atlantis. Diana/Marco ship.
He stepped through the gate by her side. She'd smiled back at him right before, but right after she was smiling in wonder at the city. She never seemed scared of it like others had been, as he had been for a little while. Well, maybe scared wasn't the correct word, more like creeped out. The whole thing with the 'ghosts of the Ancestors' - really an energy-draining being - had quite a lot of people unnerved in the first week. Including him. But he can't complain because she actually noticed, tried to cheer him up. They stayed up all night talking and he'd started to feel more at home, not with the place, with her. But the life sucking vampires they'd made enemies of put a dampener on life in the city generally. Having her around made the days seem a bit less doomed.
A lot happened in the first few months. Times grew harder, and soon enough they won't have any coffee left, which is what prompts the rationing – lest McKay gets unbearable by the complete lack of caffeine. He takes up drinking Athosian tea because it's not that bad an alternative, but she gets rather grouchy about the same time, it doesn't make her easy to work with and he overhears people commenting on it. At first he'd thought it was the decrease in the coffee but after a while he realizes it can't be that. She doesn't have that many friends here, most view her as supremely professional, so he visits her more, striking up casual conversation as they discuss results. From what he gathers what had upset her was the Athosians leaving, she'd got on quite well with a few of them and she doesn't have any cause to go to the mainland. He pulls some strings with his connections – being friendly and doing favors, going that extra bit further, does have benefits - and the next week she's scheduled to assist Kavanagh, among others, with studying a new water source found by the Athosian camp. When she comes back from the fieldwork he find she smiles a lot more frequently, he likes the sight and makes it his mission to steer available studies on the mainland in her direction whenever possible.
She's solemn after the events on the Hoffan homeworld. When the news broke out she wanted to be there helping them, but Atlantis rescinded it's offer of services once they knew what had gone wrong. Beckett is grave and it rubs off on plenty of people to see him like that. He's normally so cheerful, a bit cheeky even at times. Marco'd gotten a bit jealous of the amount of time Diana had spent working with him over the past month or two but it was stupid of him to think there was anything going on. He's heard about the doctor on Hoff that Beckett had a thing for, was possibly having a thing with.
And now he thinks about it it feels even dumber. Biro had always been around, too, and no one accused her of having a thing for Beckett just because she spends time working with him. He certainly hadn't, but he had for Diana. Well, not accuse, not literally, just in the way he'd been around her; not inclined to be as supportive as she probably needed. He'd been self centred. Just because half the reason he came here was for her doesn't mean anything in regard to how she behaves, she has every right to date whoever she likes. He's still just a friend, and it has to be good enough. It won't always be enough for him, not if they're all going to live and die in this galaxy. Eventually he'll have to say something, make his move, let her know what he wishes for every day. But in the grim silence of the labs today is not the day.
When the storm comes he feels anxious even though they're all safely tucked away on Manara. She's safe, he's safe; so what feels wrong about this? He realizes he's worried Atlantis might fall, and he doesn't care because it's their only possible way home, it's because it's home to him now.
Diana notices his behaviour, and it please him to know it's not just him watching out for her.
The Manarans are shifty, not happy to have them there. They're eager to keep them all in one place, monitoring them all night – only the Athosians get to roam freely. The expedition members sit together in the hall, he and Diana next to each other as they eat their rations and they end up falling asleep at the bench, too, because there's not enough floor space designated. In the morning he wakes up next to her, which is strange in a novel way, but he's glad they get to go home even if it means they go back to their little slices of life on Atlantis, and see it other sparsely. Maybe she'll make more time for him, he hopes so. At least he knows she cares about him. It might not be as much as he does but it's something.
She nearly died when the nanovirus hit them. An hour and a quarter longer and she would have. He doesn't tell her he nearly died, too – that he was with those in the messhall. He was one of the few who didn't panic when they were told. He sat down calmly and thought of everything that mattered; he thought of her, of surviving with her.
But when it's all over he doesn't do anything special. He comes round to see her in the lab, tries to be comforting, but it isn't much different from the other times they've been in danger. They both survive, separately. She lets him comfort her but he's never any closer to her, never let in. She's quiet but firm, resistant to his attempts to talk about it, wanting only to get back to work – blocking out her feelings on the matter as she tends to. It's always dry wisecracks rather than dealing with anything. She handles it worse than he does, and he's the one who underestimated the risks of coming here.
He wonders if following her here was a mistake. If it is he can't take it back, this trip was on purely a one-way baby. He doesn't really regret it though, he just misses his family. Dr. Weir had been reluctant to accept him despite his qualifications and references. She knew what a good candidate he was but she wasn't certain it was wise to bring along someone with clear family ties. Of course she could see there was more to it, but she let that slide, let him on-board, because he was simply so committed to the project. It's possible she's figured by now that's not the only thing he's committed to here.
When they have a chance to send back a message he's ecstatic. He can't tell his family about half the things he'd like to but he still has so much to say to them. What catches him is whether he should say he's happy. He's fine physically, and he does enjoy working here – it's as challenging as any other job he's had, if not more – but he knows they'll want to be reassured he's well overall.
A lot of friends and colleagues have died here, and it's hard to swallow, he can't say he's happy about that. Anywhere else it would be tragic, worthy of significant time off, but here it's become a sad part of the day to day. It's something you overcome, it's bad news but it doesn't stop you from doing what you must. Happy might not be the right word, but he can say truthfully to the camera that he has plenty of things to be glad of. He's alive, he's able to say hello to his family, he has a good friend in Diana and he's working toward safeguarding all the people he loves from the Wraith. Some of those could be twisted round, made into cause for concern, but he doesn't let pessimism settle in. He does wonder what Diana makes of the same things, and whether she has an joy at the task of recording a message. He knows she has few relatives, nothing much to tie her down on Earth. He decides it's better not to ask, but he hopes maybe she will share it with him. Now is not the time to carry extra burdens other than the one that looms over all of them.
He's only had basics weapons training, so the gun strapped to his thigh makes him nervous, as if the thought of the Wraith invading his labs isn't enough of a worry. For once he's jittery, hyped up on too much coffee as well as scared almost witless. He's sleep deprived like most of the scientists have been since the announcement the Wraith were on their way here. He feels like a coward because he wishes he was on the Alpha site like Diana, but many of the physicists and engineers have been kept around incase they're needed for last minute solutions and repairs.
When the Wraith arrive he's terrified, and that terror doesn't stop for days even once help arrives fails and more comes along. Finally, after three days he can sleep but he's waiting in the gate room watching the others come back – waiting for her. She walks through the gate steadily, but she sighs and stops to scan the room, surprised to see him there, emotion showing on her face. Although he can't tell quite what, he thinks it's relief, it would make sense – and it would make him feel happier to know she was pleased to see him. It's possible she prepared herself for the worst, it was entirely possible for him to die during the siege, only sheer luck had helped him escape his close encounter with one. A bunch of Athosians and Teyla providing covering fire as he retreated back to a comparatively safe area. He could have so easily been a Wraith snack, but he's not sure he should tell Diana that, or if she already knows how close they all came, those who stayed, by the fact many didn't make it.
He falls into step by her side, both of them walking out of the gateroom in an awkward silence. Neither know what to say. She looks to him, as if she wants to confess something, but doesn't speak – and he can't find the right words to express what he's been through. All he can think of is tha he should be dead, and it's not the first time, either. Time after time they've avoided really talking about it, and now it's hard to even for him, regardless that he wants to.
Instead he pauses at her quarters, and he's supposed to say something, ideally involving goodbye because it isn't yet time for goodnight, but he doesn't. There's no words suitable, and he's come to a decision. No day is perfect, but they have today; they're alive once more when by rights they shouldn't be. So he kisses her and has no regrets – he's getting used to taking risks and this one might have a happy ending. And anyway, he figures luck's been on their side lately.