Fifty years after Doctor Rodney McKay disappeared, the stash of devices he’d found had also disappeared - - into myth and rumor. Every now and again, particularly on the anniversaries of the people who had also mysteriously disappeared, people would speculate about the technology that was rumored to be involved.
Madison McKay Miller sat on her bed, her hands clutching the beautiful box. The disc she had initialized years ago sat on her desk, waiting. She’d invited her son Kevin to a rare dinner. Being the Chief Science Officer on Atlantis had always been a demanding job, and that hadn’t changed in the years since her uncle had held the position.
She sat on her bed reviewing the past. She thought of loss and of the things she had never had, but wanted. She thought of the endless responsibility she’d shouldered, and of all the things she’d been forced to give up. She still recalled the words Rodney had spoken to her, years ago when she was a child, on his last visit. She never saw him again, and what he’d told her hadn’t made a lot of sense at the time. But, she never forgot.
He’d spoken of duty and love and impossible choices. She hadn’t understood until she was grown. She had kept his words close, turning them over and over in her mind until they made sense.
Madison, like her mother before her, had only had one child. That child was now thirty and newly married. She’d been grooming Kevin from the time he was six to be her 2IC, and to eventually step into her place. She loved Kevin, but had always been fearful of loving him too much. She’d had too much ripped away from her over the years.
Madison would have welcomed the chance to do pure research without the headache of running the science department. That was not going to happen now. It couldn’t. She had made her choice, much like Rodney once had.
Evan Lorne had given her the beautiful blue box two weeks after David Parrish had died and one week before he’d vanished. That had been twenty years ago. Evan had been given the box by Jack O’Neill in similar circumstances fifteen years before that. He told her everything he knew or suspected about the devices, laying yet another burden on her slim shoulders.
The box still held most of the beautiful devices Colonel Sheppard had found so many years before. Two were lost to time; the ones that Jack O’Neill and Evan Lorne had used. The one that Rodney had used had gone dark after O’Neill’s disappearance. Lorne told her he’d taken a jumper to the deepest part of the ocean and thrown the dead device away.
And of course, her own disc was only waiting for her touch once again.
Years before, Jack O’Neill had deemed that only a few would be privy to Rodney’s fate. The secret of the discs he’d held even closer. Only he and his lover, Daniel Jackson had known there were more of the devices that had allowed Rodney to find John Sheppard. Lorne had presumably told his lover as well.
When Lorne came to her quarters to pass the secret on, he hadn’t needed to tell her to keep the information close. He also hadn’t needed to tell her he would soon be taking his own journey. And if she’d held him too tightly before he left, and sobbed into her pillow like a child after he had gone, that was no one’s business but her own.
Madison looked around her apartment, knowing she would miss it, but eager for her own journey. Kevin was grown and ready to fly, and it was past time to find her own happiness. A buzz of excitement gripped her then, and she felt young and eager and ready for adventure.
And when the chimes rang out, Madison rose from her bed smiling.