By Leesa Perrie
(Second Season, Post ‘Trinity’)
Chapter One – Failure and Forgiving
You don’t know what it’s like to be me
To be hurt, to feel lost
To be left out in the dark
To be kicked, when you’re down
To feel like you’ve been pushed around
To be on the edge of breaking down
When no one’s there to save you…
Lyrics from ‘Welcome to my Life’ by Simple Plan
Rodney stormed out of the office, leaving Sheppard, Beckett and Elizabeth staring at each other in concern in his wake.
“Well, that went well,” Sheppard said dryly.
“I don’t understand.” Elizabeth said, “Why wouldn’t he want to attend his parents’ funeral?”
”Might just be shock,” John suggested, shrugging his shoulders, “not easy to find out both of your parents have died in a car crash.”
”Somehow I doubt that’s the reason,” Carson said, sighing.
“You know something we don’t?” John asked him.
“No, but I can guess. There must be a reason for Rodney to be the way he is. His lack of people skills, not to mention his paranoiac tendencies. Wouldn’t surprise me to find out his childhood was less than wonderful, nor that his parents weren’t paragons of virtue either.”
“He never speaks about them, as far as I know,” John said thoughtfully.
“Aye. He did mention his sister when he thought he was dying from that nanovirus a while back, but he admitted that they were estranged. Sounds like he was estranged from his parents as well.”
“Even so, don’t you think he should go?”
“Aye, perhaps. But he obviously doesn’t. Though if you mention his sister being there, it might help convince him to go. Help build some bridges with her, rather than have something else between them. Assuming she wasn’t estranged from them as well, of course. I ken he still cares for her, despite whatever pushed them apart.”
“I think someone should try and talk to him. I don’t like the idea of him doing something he might regret later.” Elizabeth said.
“I’ll talk to him.” John volunteered.
“Be careful, lad. If he doesn’t want to talk about it, there’s no use forcing him.”
“I won’t force him… just try and convince him it’s a good idea to talk to someone, even if that someone isn’t me.”
“Okay, just be careful, John. Things have been strained enough round here after Doranda.” Elizabeth sighed. “He’s still carrying some guilt over the death of Collins, even if he won’t admit to it. And over nearly getting you killed as well.”
“I’ll be careful.”
Rodney had intended to go to his lab, but instead found himself in his quarters. He hadn’t meant to lose it like that in front of the others, but they were so sure he would need time off to attend the funeral. Well, he didn’t. But they hadn’t accepted that so easily, hence his blow up.
He sighed. He knew he shouldn’t leave things as they were, but he really did not want to go into his reasons or into his crappy childhood with them, or with anyone for that matter. Why couldn’t they just leave him alone?
Because they were worried about him, a voice inside said. But he didn’t believe it. Couldn’t afford to let himself. After all, he’d nearly killed Sheppard and himself at Doranda, had caused Collins’ death, and had destroyed five sixths of a solar system.
He wasn’t stupid. Despite his apologies, he couldn’t believe for a moment that they would, or could, forgive him. Or that they might care about him. No one wanted anything to do with a failure, and that’s what he was. Sure, he had saved their asses several times, and would probably do so again, but deep inside, he knew, he was a failure. Despite all his intellect, all his achievements, he was a failure.
His dad had said so. And his mom. Constantly. They were right.
He closed his eyes. He felt nothing. No sadness at their deaths. Okay, actually, he did feel something. Relief. Relief that they were gone. So what kind of person did that make him?
A failure. He couldn’t even feel remorse at their passing. Couldn’t feel anything but relief that he would never have to see them again. Never have to deal with their hatred. Their scorn. And that made him a failure, as surely as blowing up most of a solar system did.
It was better just to forget it. Forget them.
Better not to expect anything from anyone, like friendship. Easier that way. He’d let himself slip recently. Let people mean something to him. But no more. He couldn’t take anymore of it.
If he didn’t care, then no one could hurt him. He needed to get back to what his was. A social failure. A loner.
It was the only way to survive.
The only way to avoid the look of disappointment in people’s eyes when he let them down.
And he always let them down, in the end.
Sheppard had decided to wait a little while before finding McKay, give him some time to calm down. It had been an hour since McKay had stormed out and he was hoping that would be long enough.
McKay wasn’t in the lab, so he headed for McKay’s quarters. Hopefully he’d find him there.
He really wasn’t sure what he was going to say. He had a feeling that he was about to open up a particularly nasty can of worms. He hadn’t had a brilliant upbringing himself, but at least he knew he’d been loved. Even when he annoyed or disappointed one or other parent, he was still loved. And forgiven, most of the time, anyway. The idea of being estranged from his family; he couldn’t begin to understand how that could happen. His parents were dead, had died some years ago now, and the thought of not attending their funerals seemed wrong. He’d moved heaven and earth to attend each one.
He knew bad things happened out there, to others. Abuse of various kinds. He truly hoped Rodney had never suffered that. But what else could cause him to react like this?
No, he had a bad feeling about this. And that was if he could get McKay to open up. And that was a big if. Especially as he’d pretty much told McKay he didn’t trust him.
This wasn’t going to be pretty.
Rodney had a bottle of whisky hidden in his room. He’d smuggled it back from Earth. Carson knew about it, had even shared a ‘dram’ or two with him.
He didn’t like to drink alone. In fact, he rarely imbibed much alcohol. Had imbibed more since finding people to share with, like Carson. Or Sheppard.
Maybe he should give it to Carson, he liked a good Scotch malt whisky. He didn’t think he’d be sharing a drink with friends…with anyone any time soon. And drinking alone was just too sad. Too much like his dad.
Oh, to hell with it! He opened the bottle, found a glass, and drank some. And then some more. And some more. His dad would be so proud of him; following in his footsteps, getting drunk as a skunk. Strange saying that. When did a skunk ever get drunk? His dad, now yeah, he got drunk. Often. Not a true alcoholic. He didn’t drink all the time. But every so often, he’d get blind drunk, and mean. Even meaner than when he was sober.
Yeah, his dad would be so proud of him right now.
Even as he was getting blind drunk, a part of him was crying out; that he was just proving them right, that he was a failure, that he was just like them, and that they were winning, with every drop he drunk, and with every person he pushed away, they were winning,
But right now, he couldn’t care less who was winning.
He just wanted to forget.
Okay, McKay hadn’t answered his door. So, did he go away, or did he risk his wrath by overriding the lock?
He sighed. No, overriding the lock was not a good idea. It was hardly an emergency. He tried once more to get a response. Nothing. Maybe he wasn’t there. He turned to walk away just as the door opened. And a not-too-steady looking McKay looked at him.
“Go ‘way,” he muttered, and then went back into his room.
Crap, was that alcohol he smelled? McKay looked wasted. He followed him into his room, and looked around. Okay, one almost empty whisky bottle, and several items that appeared to have been thrown against the wall recently. And one definitely drunk astrophysicist. Not good.
“Hey,” he said.
McKay spun around, a little too quickly, and started to sink to the ground. Sheppard grabbed his arms, and moved him over to his bed.
“Tol’ you go ‘way,” he slurred.
“No can do.”
“You’re drunk, and I don’t think you’re safe to be left alone in this state.”
“Drunk. Like a goo’ little daddy’s boy.” He giggled. “Drunk like a skunk. Why a skunk?”
“Probably because it rhymes,” Sheppard answered absently. He picked up the whisky bottle and took it into the bathroom, throwing the last of it down the drain.
“Hey! Good stuff tha’! Carson’ll kill ya…throwin’ good stuff away.”
“I’ll take that risk.” He turned to see Rodney on the floor, leaning against his bed. He was looking rather green. Sheppard grabbed a bowl, and rushed over to the man, just as he started to be sick.
“Oh, yeah, good stuff alright.” Sheppard sighed, rubbing McKay’s back as he seemingly tried to spew his entire stomach up. He wrinkled his nose. Oh yuck.
When Rodney had finished, John took the bowl into the bathroom and got rid of the contents. He grabbed a glass and filled it with water. Had to keep McKay hydrated, try and stave off the hangover he was bound to get. Rodney was not going to be a happy bunny when that kicked in.
“Here, take a few sips of this.” He offered the glass to Rodney, who took a sip.
“No, not whisky. Just water.”
Rodney sipped some more, his eyes tracking lazily around his room.
“Why you here?” He asked Sheppard.
“I came to see if you were alright. Maybe to talk. Guess that can wait, though.”
“Talk ‘bout what?” McKay said again.
“Like I said, that can wait.”
“’Bout parents.” Rodney nodded to himself. “Don’t wanna talk ‘bout them.”
“I kind of guessed that earlier,” Sheppard said, “but it would be better to talk about them, than to get drunk.”
“Heh, dad used to ge’ drunk. Couple a times a month. Blamed me. She blamed me too. Said he never got drunk ‘fore I was born.” Rodney blinked, “mom n’ dad argued. Blamed me for tha’ too. My fault. Shouldn’t a been born. Was mistake. Big mistake.”
“You know,” Sheppard said quietly, “it sounds like they were idiots to me.”
“No. I’m idiot. Failure. They were right.”
“Hey, where’s that ego of yours? You’re no idiot, McKay, and you know it.”
“I’m no good. Wi’ people. No good. They hurt you. Turn on you. Say they your friend, then side ‘gainst you. Best not to let ‘em.” Rodney paused, “not to let ‘em close. Forgot that. Forgot that here. Let people close. Hurts.”
Sheppard closed his eyes. Yeah, big nasty can of worms time. He hadn’t realised how… vulnerable… Rodney was. How unsure of himself, and the people around him. Damn, McKay was sure good at hiding his true insecurities. The ego and the bluster hid the truth.
He wasn’t sure how to respond. He wasn’t a damn shrink. But he was a friend. Sure, their friendship was strained right now, but he was still a friend.
“You hate me.” Rodney continued.
“What? No, I don’t.”
“Ever’one hates me. Made mistake. Big stupid mistake. Like me.” He giggled, “I was big stupid mistake. So, now ever’one knows I a failure. No good. No one want to be my friend now.”
Damn, was he crying? Sheppard rolled his eyes. Wonderful, McKay makes a great drunk. Maudlin in the extreme. He huffed a little at that. Figures. McKay does most things to the extreme.
“I don’t hate you,” he said, “nor does Carson or Elizabeth. Neither do Teyla or Ronon… or even Radek.”
“No. No forgiveness. No’ really. Say one thing, think other. People like that. Tricky. No’ fall for it.”
Sheppard sat next to Rodney, propping himself up against the bed.
“Okay. Some people are like that, I guess. But not me, and not them.”
“S’okay. No need to lie. Messed up. Big time. Know that. Been there, done that, got scars to prove it.” Rodney sighed, “big scars for big mistake.”
“Scars?” Sheppard didn’t know if McKay was talking about physical or mental scars, but he feared the meant both. “What scars? What happened?”
“I wanted to learn. So I experimented at home. Big mistake. Made big mistake. It exploded. Lucky wasn’t killed. Burned down tree house. Not my tree house, Jeannie’s. Nothin’ good like that for me. She was mad. They were mad. Got beaten.” Rodney paused, “got scars on back. Carson seen ‘em. Told him some story. Can’t ‘member what now. Not truth.”
“They beat you often?”
“Nah, just couple of times a year, maybe. When I forget and did somethin’ stupid.” He paused, “thought college be better than home. Wrong. People hate me for being so good at stuff. Or bully me to do work for ‘em. Or steal my work. Say they friends, then steal my work. Best not to have friends. Friends turn on you.”
Sheppard moved closer to McKay, nudging his arm.
“Not this friend,” he said, “I know things have been difficult, but I won’t turn on you. You’re still my friend, even after Doranda. You’re still on the team, aren’t you? I wouldn’t keep you on the team if I didn’t like you. You don’t see me taking Kavanagh off world, do you?”
“Kav’nag’s a schmuck.” Rodney slurred.
“Yeah, but even if he wasn’t, even if he was smart as you, I wouldn’t have him on my team.”
Rodney turned red blurring eyes towards Sheppard, frowning.
“Don’t hate me?”
“Of course not!” Sheppard rolled his eyes, “come on, get it through you’re not-usually-so-thick skull. I. Don’t. Hate. You.”
Rodney blinked several times, and then looked away.
“They hated me.”
“Didn’t wan’ me. Didn’t wan’ ‘nother child. Happy with one. Jeannie.” Rodney closed his eyes, “then mistake happen. Want ‘nother girl. Got me.” He opened his eyes, and looked at Sheppard, “they hate each other. Argue. ‘Bout me.” McKay looked away, “say my fault they argue. My fault he drink. My fault she on drugs.”
“Anti-depre…depressants. ‘Cos of me. Jeannie, she liked me when I was small. Then, she change. Not wan’ me around. Start believe them. I cause of all trouble. My fault family no good.” Rodney blinked rapidly, “thought she loved me. Not sure now.”
“Hey, she was just a kid. Things are probably different now. It’s not your fault your parents were the way they were. Certainly not your fault for being born. And, well, I’m glad you were born. So are a lot of other people here, despite your… abrasive personality.”
“I sent her a video. When we thought we were gonna die. Sent messages home. You know?”
“Yeah, I know. Before the siege started.”
“She never responded. Phoned her when we got to Earth, got answer phone. Never returned call. Sent her a letter. No reply. She hate me.” Rodney sighed, “always hate me now.”
Sheppard felt angry at these people, these so called family. How could they have treated Rodney like this? He hoped he never saw this Jeannie, for her sake.
“You have family here, Rodney. Not by blood, but by choice. That’s even better, isn’t it? That people have chosen you as a friend, as a family member?”
As he said this, he was aware of McKay listing to one side, and realised he was falling asleep.
“Okay, let’s get you onto your bed.” He muttered, struggling and eventually succeeding in getting McKay onto his bed, and out of his shoes. He threw a blanket over the man, and then sat down in a chair. There was no way he was leaving McKay alone tonight.
Though he did contact Carson before settling to his vigil.