Rodney's Last Message

by Speranza

Author's Note:  Written for the SGA_Flashfic "38 Minutes" challenge; thanks to all the usual suspects and especially Shalott for helping me format the email part.

When they finally got the damn thing open, McKay practically fell through the jagged crack John had made in the door. He was pale and sweating profusely, damp hair plastered to his forehead. His laptop was tightly nestled in the crook of one arm. Instantly, Beckett was at his side, pulling him through and kind of holding him up.

"Okay, so," McKay said breathlessly, "that didn't take long, did it? How long was that?—maybe thirty, forty years?"

Elizabeth's voice was calm and relieved. "It was a trap, Rodney."

McKay rolled his eyes. "Yeah? You think?"

But Elizabeth refused to be baited; it was, John supposed, one of her best qualities as a commander. "I mean that the door was designed to be one-way. It wasn't ever supposed to open again. "

McKay looked over at Zelenka. "So what'd you do—analyze the material, look for a structural defect?"

Zelenka shrugged. "That was plan A, yes; I was working along those lines. As a plan B, Major Sheppard kept trying bigger and bigger guns."

John grinned as he hoisted up the Abbot Air Cannon. "She's a beaut, ain't she?"

"Yes," McKay replied fervently. "Yes she is."

Beckett tugged gently at McKay's arm. "Let's go to the infirmary, I want to have a wee look at your vitals and fluids."

"Yeah, okay," McKay said, and then he twisted back unexpectedly and looked at John. "Hey, do me a favor, will you? Don't check your email for a while. I, uh—" He licked his lips. "I got pretty worked up in there, and I might have said some things that I—"

John waved the Abbot magnanimously. "Sure, no problem. I understand perfectly. Been there myself."

Rodney looked relieved. "I'm gonna wipe the server in a bit; that'll be phase two of me pretending this terrible day never happened."

"Good idea," John said, and he stood there calmly until Beckett had taken McKay off to the infirmary. Then he ran to check his email.

John scrolled down the list of emails—it seemed funny now that Rodney was okay—and quickly saved them onto his hard drive; these were too good to be destroyed in a server wipe. Then he paused and glanced at the messages directed specifically to him: a haranguing plea to check his email, an excited burst of encouragement as Rodney heard the first of the big guns, and then Rodney's last message:

John sat back in his chair. All the fun had gone out of him; it hadn't been at all fun reading Rodney's last message. Rodney had thought he was dying.

The messages on the server began to pop out of existence, one by one—Rodney must have been given a clean bill of health and gotten himself onto the server first thing. John had a moment of panic over the disappearing messages until he remembered that he had them all saved. Still, it was weird to watch them disappear: What the fuck is TAKING SO LONG?—-pop! My laptop battery is dying—pop!

You're not going to make it in time, are you?

He had, though: Rodney wasn't dead, and John hadn't broken his streak. Still, was that the whole thing? Was that everything? John let his head roll back and stared up at the ceiling, Rodney's last message rolling around in his head. He'd written so much and yet said so little. "Let's leave it at that." Let's leave what where exactly?

He was still sitting like that when there was a knock at the door. "Yeah," John called. "Come in," and he wasn't at all surprised to find that it was Rodney.

"Hey," Rodney said, looking nervously at the desk; it was only then that John remembered the open laptop. "You didn't read any of those messages, right?"

"Nah," John waved a nonchalant hand at the screen. "They were still there when I got here, but I just deleted them. That's not — they were written under extreme circumstances. Nobody's at their best in those conditions." Except sometimes, maybe, you are. "So what say you and me go and get some dinner, and then—" John waggled his eyebrows. "I got a bootlegged copy of Close Encounters of the Third Kind from Sgt. Reimer. You wanna hang out and watch?"

"Yeah," Rodney said in visible relief. "Yeah. I'd like that a lot."

The End

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