Warnings: Non-main Character Death
Spoilers: McKay and Mrs. Miller, The Tao of Rodney
Characters/Pairing: John Sheppard, Elizabeth Weir, Teyla Emmagen, Ronon Dex, Jeannie McKay, and Rodney McKay, none
Disclaimers: Nope. I wish.
Notes: You'll either cry, laugh your butt off, or roll your eyes. Or possibly a combination thereof. Dedicated to beloved kittypets everywhere.
Summary: When Rodney gets a message from home about a death that hits him harder than some might expect, his team rallies around him and helps him see that life goes on.
Sheppard, Ronon, and Teyla stood down in the Gatrium, dressed in full gear and waiting for the last member of their team to finish his impromptu meeting with Elizabeth. They were supposed to have left on their mission already but Elizabeth has insisted that it wouldn't take long.
Twenty minutes later and they were still standing here.
Sheppard had been annoyed as the time ran on, but now he glanced up at the window to Elizabeth's office and his frustration immediately vanished. Something was wrong.
Rodney sat in the chair in front of Elizabeth's desk, his head down, his shoulders slumped as he listened silently to whatever Elizabeth was saying. The real kicker came when Sheppard saw Rodney wipe surreptitiously at his eyes with the Kleenex offered to him.
Oh man. This was really bad.
Sheppard stood as Elizabeth came around the desk and paused to rest a hand on Rodney's shoulder. He nodded at whatever she said, then dropped his face into his hands and hunched over.
Turning to his two remaining teammates he said, “I have a feeling our mission's just been rescheduled.”
They looked at him in question, but Elizabeth coming down the stairs distracted them from asking any questions of him. She'd be the better one to ask anyway it appeared.
“I'm sorry, Colonel, but Rodney's not going to be accompanying you today.”
“What has happened?” Teyla asked, voice full of concern.
“A message came through for Rodney this morning. I'll leave it to him to give details if he so desires. He won't be available for the mission however. If you'd like to pick someone else to go with you we'll reschedule your departure for this afternoon.”
Sheppard shook his head. He didn't want to take another geek and he had no intention of letting Rodney deal with whatever had happened alone. “How long will we be off the rotation?” was all he asked.
A tiny smile of understanding curled one corner of Elizabeth's mouth and she nodded without argument.
Then it faded. “I've granted him some leave to return to Earth. He said he'll be ready to go in about an hour and he expects to be gone for three days.”
“Granted,” she said before he could finish. She'd already begun mentally shifting things to account for the loss of her primary team when she saw Rodney's reaction to the news.
They turned to leave and Elizabeth stopped them.
He half turned back and she shook her head, rethinking the necessity of saying something. There had been a time when perhaps it would have been required. Not anymore. Not for these four.
He nodded and they headed out to be ready to leave for Earth in an hour.
On John's orders not a word was said to Rodney about who would be flying him back so when the physicist showed up in the Jumper Bay to find his teammates waiting he stopped, brief confusion flitting across his face before it was replaced by a scowl.
John met the blue gaze squarely.
“If you're as smart as you claim to be, you won't waste time arguing.”
A slight flush rose in Rodney's face, then his whole posture and expression unexpectedly sagged and he dropped his gaze to the floor. Without a word he resettled his grip on his bag and continued up the ramp, taking his usual seat at the co-pilot's station.
Teyla glanced at Shep who blew out a breath quietly and ran a hand through his hair with a grimace. She cocked her head inquiringly but he just shook his head and waved her in.
Everyone took their seats and the next thirty minutes were filled with only the sounds required to traverse the stars separating the Pegasus and Milky Way galaxies via the 'Gate bridge.
Sheppard almost wished it was longer so he could try to talk to Rodney, but from the closed expression on the other man's face perhaps now wasn't the time.
They docked in the SGC's version of a Jumper Bay and climbed out.
Sam was waiting for them and surprised them all when she greeted Rodney with a soft, “I'm sorry,” and a hug. He was stiff for a second, then he relaxed and returned the hug.
“Thanks,” he said just as softly.
When they pulled apart she sniffed and cleared her throat, then handed him a manila envelope.
“I went ahead and had arrangements made to get you all to Canada and copied Jeanie on the times. She'll be waiting to pick you up.”
This seemed to overwhelm Rodney and he turned away and started walking quickly for the door.
Sam glanced at Sheppard who gave her a smile of gratitude before he followed his friend, Teyla and Ronon on his heels.
They passed through customs at almost midnight and found Jeanie anxiously scanning the crowds for them. When she spotted Ronon's tall and very easily recognizable form she started forward and brother and sister met in a teary hug.
“I'm so sorry,” she murmured.
“She didn't suffer did she?” he whispered in a barely audible voice.
She shook her head. “No. It was quietly in her sleep.”
He squeezed his eyes shut and buried his face against her shoulder.
He must have mumbled something because Jeanie shushed him and rubbed a hand over his back murmuring, “She was just old, Mer. There wasn't anything you could have done.”
There was something else and her tears welled over.
“No. She knew. She knew you loved her.”
Finally Rodney pulled back, and wiped at his eyes.
They gave him a moment to pull himself together under the guise of renewing acquaintances, then Jeanie led the way to the parking garage and her car.
The drive home was silent though only uncomfortable because of the very obvious grief Rodney was trying not to show. Not even Teyla had any words of comfort so no one bothered to try.
By now, Sheppard was very curious as to who exactly it was that had passed away. Obviously it wasn't Jeanie's daughter since he doubted she'd be here picking anyone up if it had been. Not to mention it seemed that whoever it was had been closer to Rodney than Jeanie.
This also pretty much left out Rodney's mother. He wasn't aware of any aunts or female cousins that Rodney was particularly close to and that still didn't explain Rodney's connection. He thought there was a single grandmother left that had been mentioned once or twice in fond affection.
His musings carried him all the way to Jeanie's house where she parked her car. She squeezed Rodney's shoulder once more, then got out and led the way up the walk.
Jeanie's husband met them at the door. He gave Rodney a nod which was half-heartedly returned, then they all went inside.
“Do you . . .” Jeanie hesitated. “Do you want to see her?”
Stark denial washed over Rodney's face in a white sheet, then he nodded and silently followed his sister further into the house.
“Can I get any of you something to drink?” Caleb asked. He looked distinctly uncomfortable with this whole thing.
Sheppard couldn't blame him. It was kind of creeping him out to know there was a dead body in the house. Ironic, he thought, how a silent, natural death left him feeling creepy while he dealt with battle inflicted death regularly without anything like that. Not that death of any kind didn't bother him, but somehow the one kind bothered him more. It was probably something to do with how often he encountered the one and not the other, a sadly backwards ratio.
When there were no takers, Caleb dropped to the couch and leaned back.
“I have to admit,” he said after a moment. “I was a little surprised to find out all of you were coming.”
“We're a team,” Ronon said in a low warning rumble, as if the other man had said something insulting.
“Well, yeah, but . . . you came all this way,” he said, glancing heavenward, “because of a cat?”
That caused all three of them to turn and look at Caleb in surprise.
“A cat?” Sheppard repeated, remembering at the last second to keep his voice down.
“Yeah.” Then Caleb seemed to realize what was going on. “You mean you didn't know?”
The silence and shared looks gave him his answer.
“Wow. How . . . dichotomous."
Three frowns met his assessment and he gave a sort of half smile. "Well you guys are so close that you came without even asking who it was that had died, but you didn't know how close he was to his cat. You have to admit, it's kind of funny.”
“Rodney is our friend,” Teyla said and her tone clearly stated that was all they needed to know.
Jeanie returned alone.
“I'm sure you're all tired after all the traveling . . . Let me show you your rooms.”
“We don't want to impose,” Sheppard protested. “We have hotel rooms-”
“Nonsense,” Jeanie said, waving it off. “No imposition at all. Besides, I called and canceled your reservations.”
That got a few looks of surprise from the Atlanteans and a look of reproach from her husband.
“I'm sure Mer will appreciate having you close. And it's only a few days.”
Sheppard gave in with a sigh. It was too late to argue and it would be rude to continue doing so. Besides, she was a McKay. 'Stubborn' didn't begin to describe them.
“Well if you insist,” he gave in and she smiled slightly.