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[ aftermath ]

“So, here´s the thing,’ John said, plopping his lunch tray down across from Rodney, turning the chair around and straddling it. He draped his arms over the back and looked at him. “I´m probably looking a gift horse in the mouth.’

Rodney swallowed his bite of food and blinked at him. “Did you just call me a horse?’

John just raised an eyebrow. “You´ve been really quiet lately.’

Rodney looked back down at his tray, fork jabbing at something that looked an awful lot like eggs but probably wasn´t. “Have I?’

“Around me, yes you have,’ John said, leaning forward and trying to get Rodney to look at him again. When he didn´t, he sighed. “Kind of like you´re mad at me?’

Rodney snorted. “What possible reason would I have to be mad at you, Colonel?’

John rolled his eyes. “I don´t know Rodney, which is why I´m asking.’

Rodney shook his head and continued shifting his food around on his plate. “I´m not.’

“Hmm,’ John said, eyes drifting down to look at Rodney´s barely eaten food. “And that´s another thing. Because you love food, Rodney. I´ve never known anyone that loved food more than you, but you haven´t been eating a lot lately.’

“Maybe I´m watching my figure,’ Rodney said, deliberately taking a bite of food, grimacing as he swallowed. “Been letting go lately.’

John let his carefully schooled look of indifference fade and frowned at him. “Bullshit.’

Rodney rolled his eyes and shrugged. “Okay.’

“So here´s the thing,’ John said, propping his chin on the back of the chair and just staring Rodney down, determined to look at him long enough to annoy Rodney into looking back. “I´m kind of… I don´t want to say obtuse, but--’

Rodney snorted, glancing up at him long enough to quirk an eyebrow up.

“Slow, I guess. I´m kind of slow on the uptake sometimes, so I didn´t notice it at first. Actually, I didn´t notice it at all. I mean, I noticed you weren´t talking as much, because my perpetual headache was becoming more of an occasional thing--’

“Oh, gee, thanks,’ Rodney said, mouth quirking on half a smirk.

“But actually what it took was Ronon asking me what was up with you. McKay´s mad at you, he said. And I said, what? Why? I didn´t do anything. And then he said… you know what he said, Rodney?’

Rodney rolled his eyes. “Yes, of course I do, for I am the all knowing Oz.’ He glared at John and pointed his fork in the air, waving it around. “Why are you telling me this?’

“He said, ever since we destroyed the hive ship, McKay´s been weird.’ John nodded, licking his lips. “Think he´s got something to that?’

“What do I know about the way Ronon thinks,’ Rodney muttered, scowling down at the remnants of what passed for biscuits in this galaxy. “The man´s an enigma.’

John just kept looking at him, his gaze level and unwavering. “At first I thought he meant when he and you were trapped in the cocoons. And I thought, well, that´s maybe not that unexpected. We all know you don´t deal well with imminent death.’

Rodney put his fork down. “Actually, I do. I happen to work much better under stress than the vast majority of people--’

John continued like he hadn´t spoken at all. “But then I think, no, because you seemed fine after that. Normal. At least, normal for you.’

“Am I needed in this conversation? Because you seem to be doing just fine all by yourself.’

John´s eyes flashed at him and Rodney shut his mouth. “Then it hits me. He wasn´t talking about the cocoon, Rodney. He was talking about the planet.’

Rodney looked away, his jaw tightening. “Is this little analyzation exercise about over? Because I have work to do.’

John rolled his eyes. “Rodney.’

“No, really, Colonel, as much as I´m sure you think this is helpful, it´s really not,’ Rodney said, his voice clipped and curt. “Now if we´re done here--’

“Rodney, what the hell is up with you,’ John asked, his voice lowering to the point of almost sounding pleading. “Did I do something? Because if I did something--’

“You didn´t do anything,’ Rodney said, avoiding his eyes and standing up. “Now if you´ll excuse me--’

“Rodney, god damnit, sit your ass down,’ John said, his voice raising slightly. He glared at the people turning to watch them and lowered it again. “What´s going on with you?’

Rodney sat back down, teeth grinding together. His fists clench by his sides and he took a deep breath. “I didn´t go into science to kill people, Colonel.’

John blinked at that. “What?’

“I didn´t go into science, into physics, to kill people,’ Rodney repeated, staring down at the table top. “I didn´t sign up for that. You did.’

John shook his head, feeling utterly bewildered. “Rodney, what are you…’

“I killed them,’ Rodney said, his eyebrows furrowing together as he finally looked up at John. “Over a hundred, Colonel. There were over a hundred human beings on that planet, and I… I killed them.’

John felt it hit like a blow to the gut, this sudden dawning realization. This loud, deafening, resounding ‘oh´ in his head. “McKay…’

“No. No,’ Rodney said shaking his head. “Don´t tell me I didn´t. I did. I fixed the weapons system. I aimed them. I hit the god damned button.’

John closed his eyes. “Rodney, we had to.’

“You think I don´t know that,’ Rodney yelled, voice warbling on the end. “You think I don´t know? I know. I know, Colonel, and I´m not even saying that I don´t agree that it was our only choice.’

John opened his eyes, taking a deep breath. “Then why--’

“Why,’ Rodney asked, shock written all over his face. “Why? I don´t know, Colonel. Why would I feel bad about killing over a hundred scared, confused, helpless people? People, Colonel. People. Human beings. Because they weren´t Wraith anymore. They were people.’


“I know,’ Rodney said, breathing rapidly, like he was about start up on another tirade, but suddenly his eyes shut and his head pitched forward. “I know,’ he said again, and this time he sounded defeated. “It was the only way. I know.’

John swallowed, taking a deep breath. “If we´d had more time… if we had known… Rodney, if there had been any other way to--’

Rodney laughed, rolling his eyes up to look at the ceiling. “This is so typical, Colonel. Just… so typical of you.’

John sighed, running a hand through his hair. “I know that sometimes the military approach to a situation doesn´t mesh well with the scientific… but, Rodney…’

“No,’ Rodney said, laughing and looking at him finally. “No, I mean the guilt. You. I´m not angry with you, Colonel. I don´t blame you.’

John fought the urge to look away, because he´d been trying to get Rodney to meet his eyes since he sat down and now that he finally has he´s not sure he can handle it. “It sounds like you do.’

“I don´t,’ Rodney said, shaking his head.

“I gave the order,’ John said, swallowing again, sick feeling in his gut. “If I hadn´t ordered you to--’

“The thing is, it was the right thing to do,’ Rodney said, steamrolling right over John. “Well, depending on how you define right. It was… it was the only thing to do. We had to.’ He shrugs then, looking away again. “I just. I didn´t sign up for that. It wasn´t part of the job description.’

John looked up at Rodney and found himself at a loss. “Rodney…’

“I know,’ Rodney said, standing up and flashing a quick smile at him. “I just… need time.’

“I´m sorry,’ John said softly as Rodney brushed past him. All he got in response was a hum of agreement and the back of Rodney´s head.

Suddenly he wasn´t so hungry anymore either.

All feedback much appreciated!
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