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There Came Things In My Path Which Are No More (Written for the sga_flashfic Amnesty/Darkness Challenge)
Rating: PG
Spoilers: The Defiant One
Summary: Rodney has an unanticipated reaction to Gall’s death.

In the days after Brendan Gall’s death you don’t get much sleep. People think you aren’t handling it well, and hey, you aren’t – but it’s not Gall waiting for you in the darkness. It’s Jeremy. You can’t remember Jeremy’s last name. Hell, before Gall blew his own brains out, you didn’t even remember Jeremy. Now the boy haunts you, torments you in your dreams.

Jeremy would have been part of the Atlantis team, his ghost insists. You agree unwillingly. Jeremy was brilliant, maybe even as smart as you are. His studies were in just the right fields for the expedition. He knew you, so you probably would have considered him, at least. Yes, Jeremy might have made it to Atlantis in the flesh, driving you crazy in the full light of day. Instead of…

His ghost is more civil than you expected, seeing as how you killed him. OK, you didn’t pull the trigger, but you were…complicit? yes, that’s it, complicit in his death. You always refused to admit it until now. Jeremy still doesn’t get your lack of compassion. The damned ghost always wants to know why. He thinks you should have been the one to understand.

You did. You understood totally. You’d dealt with the mocking and the alienation that goes with being smarter than everyone else, including the teachers, being younger than the rest of the class. You were a seventeen year old college junior unable to see past your own hurts. Empathy? You wouldn’t have even a passing acquaintance with it for another decade.

And Jeremy? He was a fourteen year old freshman away from home for the first time. He thought you’d be kindred spirits. He wanted to bond, for Christ’s sake. You didn’t care that he looked up to you. You never asked to be anyone’s hero. You only saw a chance to get a little of your own back; to be the one mocking instead of mocked. You treated him the same way everyone else did – the same way they treated you. You always survived it. Jeremy went back to his room and a small caliber revolver.

Your clearest memory of the whole thing was the grief on his parents’ faces when they came to take him home. Jeremy’s parents loved him. He missed out on the most important lesson, the one you learned before you were six. We are all alone and the only person you can ever count on is you. His parents shared responsibility for Jeremy’s death since they never made him learn that lesson.

No one knew he’d come to you. Everyone figured he’d cracked under the stress – so many geniuses do, you know. Now you wonder if you’re the one cracking. You don’t really believe in ghosts and it’s highly unlikely you’re going to want to deal with whatever it is inside you that’s dredging up this spectral hurt. You’d ask Heightmeyer, except you’d never actually trust her with any personal information. It probably doesn’t matter. The Wraith will be here soon. Until then, you leave the lights on.
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