Summary: He has to decide where he wants to be.
Characters: Rodney McKay
Author's Notes: This takes place during- and post-Teyla leaving and post-the initial set-up of the Alpha Site, but before Lorne and the Daedalus.
"I was going to marry once." Radek said suddenly.
"Oh? What happened?" Rodney continued to type on his computer and did not look up.
"She was a professor and would not leave university. I would not stay." Radek paused and then added, "I still love her."
"Will you go back to her now?"
"No. I am not who I used to be. I think she will be different too. Besides, going back requires contact with Earth and--"
"I'm working on it."
"Perhaps you shouldn't be. Teyla will not stay, Rodney." Rodney's fingers stilled.
"Believe me, I am quite aware of this fact."
Rodney interrupted Radek with a sharp look. "I'm working on it."
And he was working on it. He knew better than anyone that Teyla would not be staying. The pull of her people, their need for their leader, was too strong, especially when compounded by Atlantis' growing list of requests."
"More." Teyla waved a rare piece of paper in front of Rodney's face while he answered his email in her quarters. "They ask even more now of my people. No longer is food enough, but Elizabeth now wishes for me to send some of the young Athosians to be trained as soldiers for John and to be sent to the Alpha Site with Colonel Caldwell." Rodney looked up and frowned.
"Let me see that." Teyla laid back on her bed and handed the paper over.
"I understand," she said, "the need for warriors, especially since the force here will be split in half for the Alpha Site, but I do not see why those warriors must be Athosians."
"If the problem is warriors, why don't they ask Ronon if the Satedans would be interested in trading hours for quarter? The Athosian population is too small really to be of any use..."
"I do not understand anymore," Teyla said. "I cannot tell my people to do this. I am poor leader already, but to ask them to divide the population this close to harvest and without any promise of a return---"
Teyla's condemnation of herself snagged Rodney's attention. "You've been talking to Halling again."
Teyla sat up and rested back on her hands. "He did approach me yesterday," she admitted. "He is right, Rodney. My people do deserve a leader and that position is not his responsibility. I cannot ask him to assume it any longer."
"You're leaving." Teyla met his gaze and then looked away, saying nothing.
Holding Teyla that night, her belongings packed away in boxes around their bed, Rodney made his decision. In his head he drafted twenty reasons to go and an equal number to stay, but only a few of those twenty mattered, including the one within his arms. Earth was gone for now; he needed to accept that. Earth was gone. Sam was gone. Publishing was gone. His sister was gone. All of it. The only things he had were here. Radek could keep Atlantis afloat. John could take a different scientist on his team. Teyla could visit Atlantis and he could fly both ways between. So, where did he most want to be?
He knew the answer even as he asked the question and spent the entire three days after Teyla left and before he told John rationalizing his decision.
John's reaction was not a surprise.
"They don't have any cool Ancient toys."
"I know, Colonel."
"Mckay, they don't even have access to a 'gate."
"Yes, Colonel, I am aware of this."
"So you're leaving your job and life behind for a girl, then."
"Yes, Sheppard. I am leaving Atlantis behind for a girl. My decision to go has absolutely nothing to do with what I want from life or my own desires. Teyla is my only reason. Look, you still have Radek and he has all my notes. If there's an emergency, I'll help out, but I am going to the Mainland and I am going tonight."
"We need you here, McKay. If you want to visit Teyla, that's fine, but you are needed here." John walked away and did not respond to any of Rodney's outraged replies.
This was ridiculous. If he wanted to leave, then he would. Rodney returned to his quarters and finished his packing. He regretted having to leave his computer, but Zelenka would need it and the Athosians would not have any way to keep it charged. Rodney waited until John was meeting with Elizabeth to sneak his bags aboard one of the jumpers.
"Running away, Rodney?" Lorne. Rodney stepped back from the PuddleJumper.
"What of it?" he asked, his chin raised up. Lorne shrugged and shook his head.
"The Colonel seems to think you are."
"And let me guess, he sent you to stop me."
"Actually, no. Seems someone kept him too busy talking that he was unable to issue any clear orders before Elizabeth called him away."
"I can't let you take one of the jumpers, Rodney."
"So you are going to stop me."
Lorne raised an eyebrow. "Actually, I thought I'd get some flying practice in."
"Sheppard will kill you."
"So you'd rather stay?"
"No. I'm just pointing out that if you help me, you will not be Elizabeth and Sheppard's favorite guy for a while. I'm pretty invaluable."
Lorne rolled his eyes. "Yes, genius, I remember. Are you coming or not?" He walked into the jumper and sat down in the pilot's seat. Rodney followed.