Character: Rodney McKay
Summary: Details of part of Rodney's past that he'd rather forget come to light, details that he's afraid will ruin the tentative friendships he's made in Atlantis. Brendan Gaul lends him a helping hand.
Part 1, 2, 3
Ante Animus - Part Four (of four)
It turned out that Cathy was totally his type, and totally into him from the looks of things. Which could definitely pose a problem.
After spending every evening with her since their coffee shop rendezvous, Rodney reluctantly decided to break it off before it went too far. The only problem now was how to do it he thought, mentally pushing away the fact that he didn’t want to do it in the first place. He was known for his brutal honesty, but somehow he didn’t think she’d be overly impressed with “I’m afraid my dealer will kill me.” Then again what did it matter what she thought of him if he was breaking up with her?
And so when the credits rolled on the film they had been watching, two nights before term resumed, Rodney prepared himself for an uncomfortable conversation.
However, just as he was about to start speaking to door to the dorm opened.
“Hi Brendan!” Cathy greeted the intruder brightly.
“Cathy?” he asked with a frown as he dropped his bag by his bed.
Rodney dropped his head onto the back of the couch and closed his eyes, somehow managing to keep the stream of cursing internal.
“What are you doing?” Brendan asked.
“Watching a movie,” Cathy told him.
“But it’s finished now,” Rodney said, doing some quick thinking and reworking his plan. The first step of the plan was to get Cathy out of the dorm so he could get the second step into motion; coming up with a new plan. “And it’s getting pretty late,” he continued. Brendan frowned at the clock, it was barely eleven pm.
“That’s Rodney speak for ‘I’ve had enough of you for today’,” she said with a smile as she stood up. And damn how did she know him so well already?
“I-” Rodney glanced at Brendan then back at Cathy. ‘Coward!’ he screamed at himself mentally.
Nonetheless, he followed her to the door and smiled after she kissed him goodbye, adding an automatic ‘See you soon.’
When he closed the door he leant his forehead against it and screwed his eyes shut with a groan.
He was so dead.
* * *
When the four of them were all seated and the briefing room doors shut Weir began speaking.
“My original intention when I organised this briefing was to apologise to you Rodney,” she said, looking into his slightly surprised face. “The way in which I dealt with this situation wasn’t ideal and likely made it more stressful than it had to be,” she continued.
Rodney opened his mouth to protest, but then closed it again when Weir shook her head fractionally in response.
“I also would like to add that whilst I have yet to devise a suitable punishment for your misconduct, that there will still be one. I can’t and wouldn’t punish you for past misdemeanours, but I can for the fact that you deliberately deceived me by withholding this personal information,” she said firmly. Rodney nodded his acceptance, that was more than fair.
“You said that was your original intention, so there must be something else?” Carson questioned.
“Yes,” Weir nodded. “Not long after I contacted you to organise this briefing, Chuck came to me and told me he’d found another encrypted portion of Doctor McKay’s file,” she told them.
“What?” Rodney asked in confusion. “I didn’t, I mean I don’t, I-” he stuttered. “It was just that, there was nothing else,” he said eventually.
“As I discovered,” Weir nodded. “Would you like me to read it to you?” she asked. Rodney glanced hesitantly at Carson and Sheppard before shrugging, it couldn’t get any worse than it had.
“Okay,” he nodded. Weir smiled and diverted her attention to the laptop in front of her and began reading.
“Dear Doctor Weir, or whomever it may concern. If you are reading this letter then Rodney’s dismal plan to keep his past hidden has failed - as I told him it would, repeatedly. I’m unsure if my part in all of it is alluded to in the files but I was there, not for it all, but for the worst of it. And whilst it’s an experience I’d rather not have had, I’m glad that I did if it means that I’m able to defend Rodney now,” Weir paused and glanced at Rodney who was staring at her with wide eyes. She took a deep breath and continued.
“And herein lies the purpose of this letter. I Brendan Gaul wish to vouch for Rodney McKay. Shocking, I know. But whilst he acts like a complete and total jerk most of the time and is one of the most arrogant people you’ve probably had the pleasure of meeting, he’s also -on some hidden level- a good person. One who tends to get caught up in bad situations, as his presence here with us on this expedition once again proves.
“Again I am unsure as to whether the file details the situation extensively, I’m sure you know which event I’m alluding to. But rest assured if Rodney hadn’t acted (by hitting Jason Cooper in the head rather forcefully with the butt of his own gun, which wouldn’t have killed him if the pressure inside his head wasn’t already too high because of the colourful cocktail of drugs he had taken), then I wouldn’t be here today and neither would Cathy Richards, not to mention any others who Jason manipulated into drug dependency.”
Rodney idly wondered how things had got so bad so fast, as he pressed his hand over the bleeding wound on the side of his stomach. He had realised things would be bad when Jason found out about him and Cathy, but he’d belatedly realised that bad may have been a bit of a conservative prediction.
He blinked groggily at the floorboards before turning his head slightly so he could just see Brendan, unconscious on the floor by the coffee table, which Jason had thrown him on. There was blood oozing out at a worrying rate from his head.
From this angle he couldn’t quite see Jason and Cathy. He shifted again, ignoring the shot of raw fiery pain that ran through him as he did so. Finally, he could see them. Cathy was sitting against the headboard of Brendan’s bed, Jason in front of her, pining her arms down with one of his hands and running the tip of the knife he’d used on Rodney down the side of her face with the other.
Rodney had known from the minute Jason had burst into the dorm, brandishing his weapons with a frenzied energy which Rodney was unfortunately all to familiar with, that things were going to turn bad. He had stared into Jason’s eyes -dilated pupils and all - with horror as he threatened Rodney with the business end of his gun, not ten minutes ago.
The same gun which was now lying on the floor at the end of Brendan’s bed.
Rodney would have grinned or smirked, but every single movement seemed to be causing him pain so he wasn’t going to waste it on that, instead he began moving as quietly as he could over to the foot of Brendan’s bed.
When he finally reached it his hands closed over the cool metal with a wave of relief, which was almost immediately punctuated with a pang of reluctance. He had absolutely no idea how to use a gun.
He gritted his teeth and stood up as quietly as he could. Luckily Jason was concentrated solely on Cathy, and having seen him she had started struggling again as a distraction. Smart girl.
Mustering all his strength, and anger, Rodney swung the gun forward so that it hit Jason’s skull with a loud crack, before he collapsed to the ground and passed out.
Rodney blinked out of his flashback and returned his attention to Elizabeth’s voice.
“This surprising selflessness in life-or-death situations has been brought to the forefront of Rodney’s personality since our arrival in the Pegasus galaxy, but the point I’m trying to make is that it was always there, even when he was at his lowest points.
“Rodney McKay will always remain one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met, but also one of the bravest. I’m sure he will have saved us all many more times between the time I’m writing this and when you read it. I feel safer out here knowing he’s here with us, and so should you, despite any revelations about his past. Yours faithfully, Brendan Gaul.” Weir finished and a heavy silence fell in the room.
Rodney was more than aware that he was glassy eyed and that his mouth was stretched into a very thin line, with his knuckles being bone white from having his fists clenched so tightly.
He didn’t know whether to cry of laugh. In the end he let out a sound halfway between a sob and a laugh.
“Idiot,” he muttered. Weir chewed on her lip -for once unsure of what to say, whilst Carson looked at him with concern. It was Sheppard who finally broke the silence.
“Sounded pretty smart to me,” he said sincerely. Rodney felt something in his chest tighten as the others nodded their agreement.
* * *
Brendan glanced around Rodney’s quarters upon entering and smiled to himself. Despite them having only been on Atlantis for barely a week, and also taking into account that Rodney had likely not even slept yet, he’d somehow managed to make the room his own, even with the sparse decoration. A jacket slung over a chair, unmade bed, laptops, tools, and piles of paperwork made it as haphazard as their dorm had been at university all those years ago.
Rodney himself was sitting at his desk, staring in concentration at the screen of one of the laptops. Brendan seated himself on the end of the bed, nearest to where Rodney’s desk was and waited to be acknowledged.
Realising he’d likely be waiting a long time he glanced over Rodney’s shoulder to see what he was doing and sighed in irritation at what he saw.
“You can’t seriously still be going through with that,” he snapped at Rodney.
“I think you’ll find I can,” Rodney replied, without looking away from the screen.
“Rodney, you can trust Doctor Weir. I’m sure she wouldn’t judge you solely on this,” he reasoned. And it was the truth, from what he’d seen of Elizabeth Weir she was an amazing individual. Having been thrust into such a hostile situation she could have easily diverted to a military mindset, but she’d kept her ideals whilst still being the best leader possible in the situation they found themselves in.
“I’d rather not have to find out thank you,” Rodney answered stubbornly. Knowing he wasn’t going to win this argument, Brendan decided to be the voice of warning. Providing himself with future opportunities to say ‘I told you so’ would have to do for now.
“Someone will find out eventually,” he said. “We brought the best and the brightest with us, Rodney. And whilst you are probably among the brightest of us,” Rodney smirked smugly and nodded at that, “This won’t stay hidden forever, someone will find the anomaly and decrypt the file,” he finished.
Rodney bit his lip and glanced at him briefly, and Brendan realised Rodney knew that as well as he did.
“Yes but at least this will give me some time to…” he trailed off and waved a hand as if to explain what he meant. Brendan understood perfectly. This would give Rodney time in which to prove himself. But he could tell Rodney didn’t believe that. Even when Rodney proved himself to others it was never enough for himself.
Brendan had every faith that Rodney would prove himself to everyone on Atlantis, repeatedly.
“Anyway, you’re here, you can vouch for me when it hits the fan,” Rodney said distractedly as he returned to the screen.
Brendan nodded seriously. Knowing Rodney was already engrossed in what he was doing, he spoke anyway. “Yes, I will.”