Absolution



"Are you angry with me?"

Sheppard shook his head too quickly for him to have given it any thought and then reconsidered and asked, "Should I be?"

"The whole fantasising about Major Carter thing?"

"Yeah, I was meaning to ask you about that." Sheppard shifted over so that McKay couldn't avoid looking at him. "Not me?"

"I didn't need you."

"You know, you're going to look back on that remark later and think of so many ways you could have phrased it better."

"She -- well, me, it was all me -- was what I needed to get out of there, that's all. So that I could be back here. Safe." McKay smiled triumphantly, feeling that he'd redeemed himself. "With you."

"Or just safe."

"Well, yes, that is nice."

It was. Even if Atlantis was surrounded by whale-infested water.

"So let me see if I'm getting this. You were minutes away from dying and you were kissing her?"

"Myself. I was kissing -- no, that doesn't sound right." McKay frowned. "Sex wasn't on my mind."

"Yes, it was." Sheppard closed his eyes. "And I wasn't."

"I've never kissed her."

"Which is why it was something you wanted to do in your final moments?"

"Yes, of course -- Look, can we not talk about my delusions?" McKay tapped the neat dressing on his forehead and winced. "I was injured. Panicking. Terrified --"

Sheppard snorted and stretched out, making room for McKay on the bed. "You knew I'd come and get you."

He seemed to be waiting for a yes McKay couldn't give him.

"Rodney?"

"I hoped! I definitely hoped."

"You didn't trust me to get you."

"Trust is such an overrated element in a successful relationship."

"No, it isn't."

"Well, it is in mine!"

"Which is probably why you don't have many. Any."

McKay blinked at him. "I do. One. Don't I?" He knew he sounded uncertain, which was pathetic but he'd had a hard day.

"Yes. You do. Assuming you figure out a way to extract your foot from your mouth by the time being glad to see you alive wears off." Sheppard smiled at him. "Come here."

"Beckett said I needed to stay awake." He had a relationship. There. Confirmed.

"You can be awake lying down."

"I suppose I can."

Rodney didn't cuddle but Sheppard didn't seem to know that. Odd.

"Going back to the being angry with me --"

"Rodney..."

"No. I need to -- that was hard, you know that?"

"Which part in particular?"

"The not being a hero part! The doing nothing part. The standing around while people died to keep me alive and risked their lives to save me. That part."

Sheppard thought about it and shook his head. "Not angry that you're not dead, Rodney. Don't ask me to be. Wish we could have saved you both, but --"

"He thought Columbus was Spanish and he still thought faster than me when he had to," Rodney said bitterly. "That's just not how it should have happened. I should have been the one to see what needed to be done, I should have been the one everyone's dragging up anecdotes about and raising glasses to and saying nice things about."

"He's dead, Rodney."

"I know," Rodney said in an anguished whisper. He could be dramatic at times, he knew that, but he meant it. "And I'm glad it's not me who died. Now, are you angry?"

"You'll have to do better than that." McKay leaned into an awkward, gentle pat from Sheppard, his eyes closing. "You know, you've only got to wait a day or two, and I can practically guarantee I'll be yelling at you again. Just -- not tonight, okay?"

"But I need you to do it tonight," McKay said. "Before I forget how guilty I feel and start remembering that I'm more valuable to the programme and he was just a -- just a --" He rolled to his back and closed his eyes. "God, none of you do what I want you to."

Sheppard's hand touched his face. "Rodney..."

"No."

McKay sat up and stared at the empty room, his hand falling away from his face.

"No."


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