Not mine. Never were, never will be. (Damn.)Title:
It grew harder everyday to watch the man he loved suffer but Rodney had pushed him away like all the others.Notes:
For the Urban Legends Challenge
. This one is better written than the previous story (on purpose *g*) and is far more angsty. This fulfills challenge number 9 - Statues bow or call out messages when a virgin walks by. Beta-ed by the lovely amezri
.“What are you so afraid of?”
“It’s... I can’t be close to anyone.”
“Because they’ll hurt me. They always do.”-o-o-
Rodney settled at his lab bench, looking over a small battered device Lorne’s team had found amid the ruins of an Ancient outpost. It was silver and etched in the same intricate patterns as all of the society’s other technology, but it emitted a power signature and that had made Cadman snag it for the scientist.
No one had quite been sure why Rodney had become so depressed. His mood swung from anger to sadness in seconds and he never let anyone get close enough to cheer him up. Even Sheppard, who considered himself Rodney’s best friend, couldn’t even figure it out.
Most of the city’s residents, assuming he was just being McKay, ignored and avoided him. His friends, however, the ones he’d let in before, knew something was wrong though they didn’t know what.
It had started after they’d returned from PXJ-014. At first everything had been fine, then Rodney slowly became tired, lost track of what he was doing in projects, and Radek often found his friend searching for what was right in front of him.
Laura watched him from the doorway, waiting to be acknowledged even though she knew Rodney wasn’t even aware she was there. He was deeply involved in his work, using it to put his back up against whatever had happened.
“Rodney,” she called softly, trying not to startle him but failing. “Colonel Sheppard says they have chocolate chip cookies in the mess. You hungry?” she asked.
It had become routine for Cadman or Sheppard to find Rodney at dinnertime, getting him to eat at least one meal in the day before taking him to his quarters. Sometimes John would go in and make sure Rodney got into bed, but for the most part Rodney never let anyone through the door.
“Yeah,” he muttered and then looked up at her as he finally realized what exactly it was that the woman had said. “Yeah, I just need to...” He stuffed the device into a drawer and locked it, shutting down his laptop and accidentally knocking over his empty coffee cup in the process.
Luckily it didn’t shatter; only a small chip was missing from the handle. Laura picked it up and slipped it back onto the bench. “Come on,” she said as she slipped a hand on his back, feeling the solidness of the body beneath her fingers. As they walked, she felt the hunch in his posture and the slump of his shoulders against her arm.
Rodney ate six cookies and drank nearly an entire glass of milk that night. He promptly threw it up when he returned to his quarters. Returned to the reminder.-o-o-“No one can live without friends, Rodney. Human beings need contact.”
A snort. Then, “Yeah, right. I was alone when I was a kid. I had absolute no friends – not even the AV nerds wanted to know me.”
“So you’d rather be alone then possibly rejected?”
“I’d rather be alone then knowing I’m rejected.”-o-o-
Carson watched Rodney from across the table. He was the only one who actually knew what had happened on PXJ-014, also known as Orcania, and he itched to hold Rodney like he’d done before. It grew harder every day to watch the man he loved suffer, but Rodney had pushed him away like all the others.
It had taken him days to bring back all of Rodney’s things from his apartment when Rodney broke up with him; it was only a few items – toothbrush, towel, some clothes, a picture of them together. As little as it was, they had been reminders that Rodney was always there.
Now he wasn’t. He was trying to bring himself up from a dark place, using metaphors with Kate and never telling her why he’d grown so horribly sad.
Radek spoke at the briefing while Rodney stayed quiet, his eyes dull as he doodled on a piece of paper. Elizabeth caught sight of whatever it was he was drawing and laid a hand on his shoulder, which Rodney promptly shrugged off. Carson glanced at her as if to tell Weir that it was best to leave him be.
Keeping their relationship secret had been one of the hardest things Carson had ever done, but for Rodney, he’d done it. Only a select few had known, finding out in their own ways and nothing was ever said directly to them, though the little things had made it obvious – John always invited them both to hang out, Elizabeth had tried to ensure that once a week they had a few hours of downtime that coincided.
It had been Elizabeth who first asked him what happened, wanting to know if they’d broken up and if it’d been bad. She’d been fully prepared to order them both to work it out in the face of Rodney’s declining work.
Carson wished it been that simple.
His thoughts were interrupted when Elizabeth dismissed them and he hurried after Rodney, hoping to catch a few minutes with the man. He missed his friend and he hated how far apart they’d gotten; how far apart Rodney had placed himself.
Rodney wasn’t having that and the moment Carson called his name, Rodney disappeared in a transport tube.-o-o-“Why won’t you talk to Carson?”
“What does it matter?”
“Considering how defensive you get when I bring him up, it matters a lot.”
“I can’t talk about this right now. I... I have to go.”-o-o-
Rodney always went to his room after a session with Kate, giving himself time to rebuild the walls she tore down, though they weren’t as tough as they’d been before. He would lay in his bed and think of all the reasons it was a bad idea and he’d think of calling her to cancel his next appointment, but he never did.
Carson knew that. Carson knew a lot of things about Rodney that the other man didn’t even realize, and he’d used that to his advantage many times before. He decided to use it now.
Waiting, cross-legged and barefoot on Rodney’s bed, Carson thought of Rodney’s face when he came to him in the middle of the night, tears making glistening tracks on his face and his voice cracking. He’d been tired and in pain, begging Carson to forgive him even though Rodney couldn’t forgive himself.
The door slid open and Rodney stared at his ex-boyfriend. He eyed Carson, watching his hands while the door closed behind him and asked, “What are you doing here?” He was clearly ready to turn tail and run if he had to.
“We need to talk,” Carson said without sugaring it and without tempering his tone. “I can’t keep doing this, Rodney. I can’t keep looking at you and not want to take it all away and I’m sorry I can’t. I know that’s what you want.”
Rodney trembled, his knees weakening, but managed to make it to his bed. He was careful to not allow himself too close to Carson, chewing his lower lip and wringing his hands, “I know you can’t.”
“But you expect me to.”
McKay shrugged and made a face. “Everyone expects someone to take it away and I thought you could, but you’re human
,” he said the last word as if it were something he’d just figured out, as if he hadn’t realized Carson wasn’t some omnipotent god who could take away the pain of the memories.
“Aye, I am.” Carson longed to touch Rodney, pet his hair and soothe the nightmares he knew Rodney had. They were so close and all he needed to do was reach over a few inches, but Rodney recoiled from touch.
Carson remembered what he’d been told – the hands and the people who’d touched him, holding him and when he begged for help, just made him cry out more. Rodney had been nowhere near death on the stone altar, but he’d feared for his life and he’d bled for something he didn’t believe in because he’d been a virgin.
Rodney’s skin had been flawless when he’d arrived on the planet. Smooth and soft, Rodney didn’t have marks like Ronan or the scars of Teyla. While he did have his fair share of imperfections such as stitch marks and calluses, his only real scar was the one he’d received from Kolya during the Storm two years before, but it was a small white line on his arm, nothing more.
Now Carson didn’t need to look under his shirt to see what had been done to him. The shallow cuts had healed, but the substance left behind in them marred his skin prominently.
“It wasn’t your fault,” Carson whispered.
Rodney didn’t say anything in reply.-o-o-“You don’t like being hot.”
“No, I don’t and what does that have to do with anything?”
“You’ve only worn long-sleeved shirts and jackets lately. It’s the middle of summer, Rodney. Botany says its perfect tropical weather, Colonel Sheppard is running around in surf shorts and you’re still dressing in layers.”
“I like to be covered.”
“Why do you care?”
“Because I can’t decide if you dress like that to hide your body from everyone or to hide your soul.”-o-o-
Rodney watched the water as it fell from the showerhead, the droplets splattering against his skin to join the rivulets that flowed down his legs and into the drain. He cupped a hand, letting it fill with the warm liquid before he parted his fingers just enough for the water to slip down his arm.
He stood there, trying to focus on the swirling of the water as it disappeared down the drain instead of the memories flitting through his mind. Rodney tried to ignore the ghost of the hands that had touched him not so long ago. Adults’ hands, children’s hands – tiny fingers that shouldn’t have been there with tiny eyes that watched and the slickness between his fingers.
Blood drops that slid from his back to his chest and congealed on the stone. Rough ropes that bit his skin like a wool sweater.
Somehow Rodney got to the floor of his shower, curling up with his head on his knees.
That was where Carson found him four hours later.-o-o-“Carson thinks you’re falling apart.”
“Well if he hadn’t broken into my bathroom at the worst time, he would know better than that.”
“Yeah, I don’t know what that means either.”-o-o-
“So I think maybe,” Rodney announced quietly, “I made a mistake.” He stood in Carson’s quarters, his fingers twisted together. “I just wanted you to know.”
As he turned to go, Carson grabbed his arm and Rodney forced himself to not pull away. “Wait. Please,” Carson said as he relaxed his grip and hoped Rodney wouldn’t run away – he knew the rift between them would become impassable if Rodney did.
There was a moment of sheer terror before the tension flowed off Rodney, but he nodded weakly and sat on the couch after Carson did. He wasn’t sure what to say or do; he sat there looking at Carson, flicking his eyes to the door every few seconds as if to assure himself he could escape if he needed to.
For his part, Carson just watched Rodney for a moment. He wanted to say something, wanted to take away the look on Rodney’s face and replace it with that old lopsided grin. But there was nothing he could say or do and they sat there, looking at each other for twenty minutes before Rodney sighed and stood again.
Carson didn’t stop him when he left this time and he wondered if things would ever be right between them again. He knew the answer to that, but Carson wasn’t going to let them grow to be strangers without putting up a fight.
He made up his mind.
Rodney’s quarters weren’t that far from his own and Rodney stared at him when the door opened. Carson helpfully told him, “Atlantis lets me get away with a lot.” He didn’t have to say that Atlantis only did things like that when there was a medical need for it.
Looking at Rodney, Carson finally found the words he couldn’t minutes before. “I know how to fix that mistake, Rodney.”
“Yeah, how?” Rodney asked, angry with Carson though he didn’t know why.
“We get back together.”
If it were possible for Rodney to turn a brighter shade of red, Carson was sure he probably would have. It made him smile and he pulled Rodney to him, expecting to be hugged in return.-o-o-“So you pushed Carson away?”
“It’ll be better for him.”
“If it wasn’t good for him, do you think he would have come after you?”
“That’s not the point.”
“What is the point then, Rodney? To spend the rest of your life alone and scared? You’re pushing everyone away, even me, and then you go off and no one can reach you.”
“Now who isn’t making sense.”
“They said I was a virgin warrior. I don’t even know what that means, but some stupid statues bowed down when I walked by and they took it to mean that they could just take me for some fucked up ritual.”
“Is that why you broke up with Carson? Because of what happened?”
“No, I broke up with Carson because of what didn’t happen.”-o-o-
“Rodney, wait up!” Carson called and followed him down the corridor, ducking into the same room as his friend.
“What?” Rodney watched him with arms crossed protectively. His face was twisted in some faint grimace of forced displeasure and Carson counted it as a victory – Rodney was finally breaking down and accepting that he wasn’t going away, maybe he even liked it.
“I wanted to know if you’d like to come over tonight. I got Spaceballs
from Radek,” he said. Carson hadn’t really ever seen the appeal of the movie, but during their relationship Rodney had watched it sixty or so times and Carson had liked the laughter it evoked. “I’ve got chocolate.”
Rodney wanted to resist, he really did, but Carson hadn’t rejected him yet and Rodney knew logically that Carson couldn’t be upset with him because Rodney hadn’t even told him the full truth of what had happened. He hadn’t told Carson how the Orcans “deflowered” their warriors, about the blood he’d been covered in and how it had gotten there.
He didn’t remember ever telling Carson yes, or the rest of the day for that matter, but at eight that evening, Rodney was at Carson’s door. He let himself in and tried to get comfortable in a place he hadn’t been for weeks.
Kate had told him that he’d only begin to get past what had happened when he talked about it, but since he hadn’t even told her the full story, he’d ignored her and her prying. Now he was there with Carson standing a few feet away and wanted to tell him so badly about the way the little girl had cried, the way her blood dowsed his body and he’d never fought to try to save her.
So he did. The words poured from his lips, jumbling together and then smoothing out in a sick imitation of a rollercoaster. It took him an hour to tell the story and when he stopped, Rodney stood with his shoulders hunched by the door. He looked ready to flee.
Carson moved slowly, watching Rodney flinch when he got too close. “You didn’t kill that little girl, Rodney, and if you’d done anything who’s to say they wouldn’t have killed you too. The only thing you can do now is make sure her life wasn’t sacrificed in vain.”
He was in Carson’s arms then, eyes closed and his face pressed into soft fabric.-o-o-“I’m okay now.”
“And why do you think that?”
“I told Carson. I told him about it from beginning to end and nothing happened.” A blush. “Well something happened but I’m not telling you about that.”
A smirk and a laugh.