Wesley was not precisely fond of Dr. McKay. That wasn't to say he disliked the man. He recognized easily enough the defensive posturing that put most others off. He also recognized the dynamic between McKay and his team. It was a dynamic Wesley had once shared with his own.
A dynamic which he'd once thought had meant family.
He fingered the scar decorating the base of his throat as he watched McKay scowl at his food. He was alone, again, while his team sat on the opposite side of the room. Wesley hadn't been present this time to see whether the team had arrived before or after McKay but it hardly mattered. The one time he'd born witness to the expression on McKay's face as the others eschewed his table, it had left Wesley with an all too familiar aching hollow in his chest.
It has been a week since their return from the Ancient Outpost and McKay's rather spectacular failure. And Wesley had had enough.
It was as if there were an invisible bubble surrounding McKay. Wesley understood that for some it was a typical response to any kind of tragedy. The awkwardness that came with the inability to offer appropriate words after such an event lead to avoidance. It was the ones that refused to see the failure as a tragic mistake, but rather an arrogant man's comeuppance that Wesley wanted to throttle.
He picked up his own tray and moved across the room. He could practically feel the others watching. Wesley himself was still a bit of an oddity on Atlantis. He knew McKay had not been happy at his inclusion to the expedition. Though he was one of the few non-military expedition members that did not hold a doctorate, he did have a facility with languages that McKay could not deny.
Wesley had made significant progress with the Ancient database, something that McKay had not been able to refute.
McKay's scowl deepened as Wesley laid his tray across from McKay's own. Wesley took his seat without asking permission, ignoring McKay's unhappy look.
"Good afternoon," Wesley offered.
McKay glared. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Having my afternoon meal," Wesley said. The rations today were, like most days, a mix of supplies from Earth with game and vegetables from both the mainland and their trading partners. "It is rather fascinating what the kitchens can devise, isn't it?"
McKay sighed. "I don't like to repeat myself, Doc - Mister… Pryce. You know how odd it is not to be able to just call you Doctor? It forces me to actually remember your name."
The corners of Wesley's mouth turned up in a smile. McKay could be amusing if you were able to ignore his arrogant veneer. "Then perhaps you should just call me Wesley. Or Wes, if you prefer."
"And why would I prefer that?' McKay asked.
Wesley chuckled. He noted at the same time that some of the tension had leeched from McKay's frame.
"Well, I offer my Christian name, whether you utilize this information or not is entirely up to you."
McKay grunted, but Wesley noticed that McKay began eating in earnest once again.
"Do you know, Dr. McKay, why I accepted Dr. Jackson's offer to come to Atlantis?" Wesley asked, swirling his spoon through the mashed vegetables on his plate.
McKay paused with his fork halfway to his mouth. "Rodney," he offered.
"Thank you." Wesley nodded in acknowledgement. "I came because I had nothing left to lose. Because I believed, erroneously, that my books and my knowledge gave me an edge that none of my colleagues had."
McKay's scowl had returned, so Wesley held up a hand to stall him. "Please, let me finish."
"Yes, I made a mistake and it destroyed, well, several lives." Unable to stop himself, Wesley once again fingered the edge of his scar. "I made an arrogant mistake. But it was a mistake, though my so-called friends treated it as deliberate sabotage."
"So, what? Are you telling me to transfer? To give up Atlantis and start over like you?" McKay's voice was strained, angry and upset, but pleading as well.
"No, you misconstrue my meaning," Wesley said. "I only meant to lend an ear or offer a friendly visage if needed. My own mistakes were… unforgivable, or so I was told. I don't believe your own have reached quite that magnitude."
"I blew up three-quarters of a solar system!" McKay hissed.
"You did," Wesley agreed. "And while that was an error on a much larger scale universally-speaking, mine was much more personal."
"John seemed to take this pretty personally," McKay muttered.
Wesley nodded. "I understand that you were both in quite a bit of danger toward the end."
"Please," McKay scoffed. "John lives for danger."
"Perhaps," Wesley said with a shrug. "But do you suppose the thrill is the same when others he cares for are along for the ride?"
"John doesn't - I mean, I thought we were friends but - " McKay's eyes cut across the room toward Sheppard.
Wesley had felt Sheppard's eyes on them throughout their meal. He thought perhaps, all hope was not lost.
"Though it goes a little against the grain considering my own recent experience," Wesley said. "I advise giving him time to reconcile his own feelings on the matter."
"What does that even mean?" McKay asked, sounding exasperated.
"Give him time, Rodney," Wesley said, collecting the detritus of his lunch back onto his tray. "Your circumstances may not be quite as dire as you feel at the moment. That's not to say you are not entitled to feel betrayed or abandoned, for in my estimation you were, only that it may not be an irreversible position."
McKay glanced at Sheppard once more, then back. "I'll admit, as long as you don't repeat it, that I may not be a genius when it comes to social cues."
"Nor I," Wesley said. "Your secret is safe with me."
He was gratified to get a small smile from McKay at that. He stood to take his leave and added, "Thank you, Dr. McKay, I've enjoyed our lunch together. Perhaps we can do it again sometime."
"Wesley," McKay called and Wesley turned back. "Thanks."
"Of course." Wesley nodded and offered a smile of his own. "Anytime."
There was a kind of shine that had returned to McKay's eye that left Wesley feeling immeasurably better about the future in general.