The Physics of the Spin
: After the prologue, post-series for Gilmore Girls; post-series for Stargate SG-1, season 4 for Stargate Atlantis.~~~
"What do you mean, you're not my father?"
The words fell into the silence of the room. Christopher sat slumped on the couch, hands linked loosely in his lap. He refused to look at Rory.
She was an adult, twenty-four years old. She shouldn't want to curl up into a little ball and suck her thumb, but it was only with great effort that Rory didn't break down.
Everything was moving too fast. It had been one week since Christopher learned he had the same leukemia that killed his father. Six days since Rory sat in a laboratory, staring at ugly white and blue walls, thinking about the twist of the light through air while a cold needle slid under her skin to take blood to match for a transplant.
One day since the report came back saying that Rory's bone marrow was completely incompatible with Christopher, impersonal letters dancing through the ink ripping her life to shreds.
Thirty minutes since Rory had shown up at Christopher's place to apologize for not being a match, not being able to save his life with the cells in her bones.
Three minutes since Christopher's words had turned her world into an Escher still-life.
Christopher cleared his throat. "I... hell, Rory, how am I supposed to explain this?"
He hadn't taken it back. He could have told her it was all a mistake, that he'd been pulling her leg, but he hadn't.
Christopher Hayden had done many things as Rory grew up. He'd forgotten her birthday, he'd skipped out on showing up at her school pageants and celebrations, but he had never, ever lied to her.
That ugly fact echoed down to a narrow point of pain in Rory's head while she waited for him to speak.
"The hell with it," he muttered. He shoved his hair back from his face. "Your mom and me, we were having some problems back around the time... about ten months before you were born."
Rory would have given anything to not hear the rest of this, but her muscles had petrified under the weight of her own unfamiliar blood and she couldn't move.
"We sort of broke up for a while. I heard your mom went out with this other guy for a while, one of the Canadian exchange students at another school in town, but then we cleared things up and, well, eight and a half months later you were born. I thought..." He still wouldn't look at Rory. "You always looked so much like me, even as a baby, I never even doubted that you were mine."
Rory ran her tongue over dry lips, anything to keep herself from throwing up. "But..." She stopped, breathed in to calm the gag reflex, and tried again. "You didn't seem surprised today when I..." She couldn't even finish the sentence.
Finally, Chris looked up, and Rory saw her pain echoed in his eyes. Not her father's eyes.
"You always were too smart to be my kid," he said, the joke falling flat as his voice cracked.
Rory looked at her hands, faintly surprised to see the lab report ripped to shreds on her lap. There were eight little red half-moon marks on her palms, nails spotted with blood. Not Hayden blood.
"Does Mom know?"
"I doubt it." Chris stood up unsteadily and walked to the window. "Lorelai couldn't lie about something like this. Not-- not to you. She'd never do that."
Rory carefully stacked the blood-stained paper scraps on the table. Her hands shook and she stared at her fingers. Not Hayden hands.
She'd never had any illusions about Chris, what kind of man he was, what kind of father. He'd always tried, always cared, always loved her.
Now she had no idea who her father was, what kind of man he was. All she knew is that he was Canadian, and what was that?
But she couldn't think of that now, her conscience whispered to her in Emily's voice. She couldn't think
The scraps toppled to the floor as the words spilled from Rory's lips. "I'll pay you back for Yale," she blurted out. "And all the books and all the birthday presents--"
"No, Rory, stop," Chris said. He hurried across the room, but Rory was on her feet and backing away.
," she said, as if anything could make this better.
Chris put his hands on her shoulders, and she was four years old again when a hug from Daddy would make it better. She put her arms around him, the same Dad he'd always been, but it was all a lie.
He wasn't her dad.
And he was still dying.
With everything she had in her, Rory managed to draw away. "So, if I'm not a donor, we need to find someone who is."
"No!" She stepped back, straightening her shoulders. If she wasn't able to save Chris's life, she'd find someone who could. "I need a list of everyone you're related to and everyone they're related to and everyone they've ever met."
"No!" Her palms stung, but she ignored the pain. "We're going to find you a donor and you'll get better and live forever! Gigi needs her father!"
The nausea was back, but as long as she stayed standing and didn't think about it, she would survive.
Had no choice but to keep on breathing.
Chris was staring at her. Did he see her shaking? Just another lie in her life. I've been a lie since before I was born,
she thought. That has to be some kind of record.
"And don't tell Mom," Rory whispered. Chris flinched, and closed his eyes. "She... she doesn't need to know."I can't have her know I'm not who she thinks I am.~~~
She got the list of names, and spent the next three weeks on the phone with Christopher Hayden's relatives, handing out fliers in Hartford and in Star's Hollow, organizing donor awareness sessions and blood drives and everything she could do so she wouldn't have to think
Lorelai knew what she was doing, but not why, and if Rory got home too late and left too early to talk to Lorelai, all the better.
At the end of those three weeks, Chris called Rory to tell her that three of his relatives and two people from Star's Hollow were potential matches, and the doctors were scheduling the next step in the transplant process.
There was nothing else for him to say.
Rory hung up and made it to Lane's house before she broke down, crying into a pillow so she wouldn't wake the twins from their nap.
Lane asked what was wrong, but the thoughts wouldn't form into words on Rory's tongue. She was a lie.
Rory left a few minutes later, just got in her car and drove to Hartford without thinking. The main library was still open and Rory slipped though the stacks of books, deeper into the building, down stairs and into the thick concrete rooms of the archives.
Once upon a time, Rory had loved these sort of rooms, had spent breathless hours reading old newspapers, seeing the stories of past lives shivering through the fading ink on the pages. Now she choked on the thick air, the whispery smell of the newspaper like decay in her mouth.
The newspapers from the beginning of 1984 were supposed to make things better, but it only took Rory two hours to find proof of her life's lie. In January, 1984, four Canadian exchange students visited the top technical school in Hartford for a month. The paper had featured a grainy black and white picture of the four at some kind of completion, even including their names.
Whatever ambiguity there may have been vanished as Rory stared at the names. Two lovely girls and one beautiful boy with gleaming dark skin were on one side of the photograph, away and apart from the other boy.Rodney McKay.
Rory stared at the photograph of her father at sixteen, a scream building in her head. It was like staring into a mirror, his face was so familiar. Alice, through the looking glass,
Rory thought dully. Moving on auto-pilot, Rory convinced the archival clerk to photocopy the picture for her. She folded the paper into her pocket and escaped from the library into the street.
The paper burned in her pocket and the air tasted like metal on her tongue. Rodney McKay.
Back at her car, Rory unfolded the paper and stared at the photograph. His eyes were as light as hers, the cleft in her chin echoed on the paper. How could she look so much like someone she'd never met?~~~Rodney McKay
Rory stared at the words in Google search box. This was it. If she hit enter now, she couldn't go back. There was no way of un-knowing what she was about to find out.
She could just walk away, pretend that she didn't have a father, never tell Lorelai that she'd raised the wrong man's child.
She could hide from the truth for the rest of her life.
She hit enter.
At first, she didn't understand the results. Below a webpage for a real estate agent in Canada were hundreds of hits from scientific journals, physics and math and all the subjects that Rory had ignored in her quest to be a journalist.
Could that be him?
Google couldn't give her any real answers. Rory went to Yale's library website and logged in with her alumni account.
The number of scientific journal articles written by Rodney McKay between 1986 and 1998 were staggering, then it was as if he'd fallen off the grid. Rory's first heart-stopping thought was that the man was dead, but then she found a reference to him as consulting on an article in 2002.
An article written in part to do with discoveries by U.S. Air Force scientists.
Rory pulled up the article, symbols dancing incoherently on the screen. The meaning was just out of reach.
Somehow, Rory knew that if she could understand these words, then she'd be able to understand the man who might be her father.
Once she understood him, then maybe she'd be able to find him and say to him, I came from you.One day.~~~
It hadn't been easy. Rory had always coasted through math and physics in school, not putting too much effort into the A's she'd pulled in from classes she needed to take to graduate. She was always going to be a journalist, and journalists didn't need math or physics or any science other than a spare spattering of biology.
When she read Rodney McKay's first published paper, when he was a sophomore at Cal-Tech, she realized how wrong she had been.
She went back to the beginning. To the calculus and physics of her youth, and it was like going home. She'd always pretended that she didn't need math, but the language of math and physics was pure unadulterated perfection, shimmering numbers lining up in order.
She'd always craved the perfection of order, and it existed in the lines of numbers and in the sweep of gravity and magnetic pull and light moving across the universe. She wanted to make that herself, to put the words of chaos together into perfection for others to see.
She had wanted to make order from chaos, and turned her back on the numbers that made it all seem too easy.
She'd scored 800 on her Math SAT and never told her mother. The 740 Verbal was the important one, the one the universities wanted to see to let her be a writer.
Now, staring at Rodney McKay's sophomoric equations dance across the page, Rory wondered if he'd felt the same thing, and instead of chasing a description of chaos, had sought the perfection of the universe's order.
She camped out in the Yale libraries for weeks on end, teaching herself physics and higher mathematics as necessary to understand Rodney McKay's increasingly complicated research. She ignored her mother's calls, skipped Friday night dinners, barely remembered to eat most days.
All that mattered was understanding Rodney McKay.
Then, one day, weeks after this all began, the pain in her head and the numbers on the paper coalesced into a brilliant point of light, and she understood
She could see what Rodney McKay meant, where all of his research was going over the years.
She could see a universe condensed to a single point, the power of a trillion suns twisted small enough to hold in the palm of her hand.
It was impossible.
It was inevitable.
She couldn't breathe around the perfection she saw in the numbers.~~~
She showed up for Friday night dinner halfway through the meat course. Emily was furious and Lorelai was hurt, and Richard didn't see a thing.
Somewhere in the weeks of research and seeking perfection from the numbers, Rory had forgotten how the Gilmores were, well, Gilmores. The lingering memory of perfection stripped Rory of lies and words, and she had no response for the demands placed upon her.
Peas lined up on her plate, little suns circling a whirling vortex, powers of the gods cupped in the fragile hands of mortals.
"Are you on drugs?"
Rory finished chewing her mouthful and laid down her fork. "What?"
Lorelai had her arms crossed across her chest, defensive and angry. Living a lie.
"Are you on drugs? Is that why you haven't been home in a month?"
Dimly, Rory noticed they were alone in the room. Emily's voice drifted out of the living room, a muttering undercurrent to the scent of lilies in the hall.
"I'm not on drugs." You raised the wrong man's daughter
"They why aren't you ever home? After they found a donor for Chris--"He spent twenty-three years loving another man's daughter.
"It's not Chris. I've been at Yale."
Rory looked at the lit tapers on the table, the empty air between wick and flame reminding her of perfection. "I've been doing research for a story."
"What story?"Who I am.
The pain in Lorelai's eyes faded slightly. "Anyone I know?" she asked.
Rory dug her fingers into the fabric of her skirt. She ached to touch the empty air around the flame, to feel the excruciating pain of perfection in her fingertips. "We'll see."
She was saved from further interrogation by the return of her grandparents. In twenty minutes, she escaped from the house to the driveway. The night was cold and clear, and Rory could see sparkling stars in the dark black of space.
The gods could crush the stars together in their hands, roll perfection between their fingers, and her father had understood
. Now, so did Rory.
She had to find him and ask him how he could stand breathing, knowing that such perfection could exist.