Title: A Little Learning - posted Dec.
Author: Lacey McBain
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Rating: PG. McKay/Sheppard
Summary: John suspects Rodney isn't dealing well with the events
of "The Defiant
One" - and John isn't dealing well with how he thinks Rodney is coping.
Spoilers: Spoilers through "The
Defiant One". Originally started for the sga_flashfic school challenge, but I didn't finish it
A Little Learning
“A little learning is a dang’rous thing.” – Alexander Pope
he was a masochist. John seriously thought he might be, considering he
was wandering the halls of Atlantis looking for Rodney McKay. Surely,
it should’ve been enough he’d spent fifteen hours on a puddlejumper
with him listening to Rodney and Gaul argue about concepts John only
had a passing acquaintance with. Abrams had tried to keep the
atmosphere congenial with occasional breaks for food and invitations to
play Tetris, and John did his part by distracting Rodney with flying
lessons, although Dr. Gaul always looked a little green when Rodney
took the controls.
Then there’d been the battle of wills with
the Wraith-Who-Wouldn’t-Die and less than a day later, they’d been
flying back to Atlantis with Abrams’ and Gaul’s aged dead bodies. He’d
been surprised when Rodney insisted it should be them transporting the
two scientists, but John had nodded and instructed the marines to put
the bodies aboard their repaired jumper. He’d ridden with the dead
“Shall we join you, Major?” Teyla had asked, meaning she
would gladly ride with them or change places with one of them if John
requested, but John had looked at Rodney’s dusty face and shook his
head. The four of them had come out here together—they’d go home
together, too, even if John suspected Rodney had no idea how hard a
burden it was to accompany the dead.
Another fifteen hour trip
home and John found himself starting conversations only to have Rodney
look at him with exhausted eyes and shake his head, as if he didn’t
have the energy to even snipe at John. He hadn’t thought it was
possible for Rodney to be voluntarily silent for more than a few
minutes, but the whole trip back he didn’t say more than a handful of
words, and John was actually relieved when Rodney finally dropped off
to sleep because at least then the silence was natural. Bearable. Then
all he had to deal with was the weight of the dead men they carried and
Rodney’s snores. He could live with that.
Even after the
memorial service was done, after they’d both been cleared for missions
by Beckett, Rodney remained quieter than usual. When he looked at John
it was with a certain measure of anguish that hadn’t been there before
and their interactions had become more professional and less personal.
It hadn’t been John’s choice. For some reason, Rodney was drifting away
and John didn’t like it. Hated it. He’d gotten used to McKay being
there, being McKay in all his screwed-up, over-the-top, “I’m a genius
and you’re not” glory. And he’d grown to like it, so much so that he
missed it when it wasn’t there.
He needed to find out what the hell was going on with McKay. He wanted
John stood outside Teyla’s quarters, one hand raised to knock, and then
he heard a familiar voice.
“Wait, just—just—give me a minute.” Rodney sounded out of breath, voice
shot through with stress and exertion.
“Are you certain you want to do this, Dr. McKay?”
yes, yes. Just—” Another wheeze from Rodney, and John splayed his hand
flat against the door but didn’t knock. Teyla didn’t usually hold
training sessions in her quarters. In the evening. John didn’t know she
and McKay spent any time together outside of missions.
“Rodney.” Or that Teyla called him Rodney.
I want to do this.” There was something in Rodney’s voice John
recognized. Determination and an underlying sense of need, although
John didn’t know how he’d learned to identify need in Rodney’s voice.
He’d definitely been spending too much time with McKay.
“You must breathe. Deeply. Let go of what troubles you. This will help.”
voice was like an invitation wrapped in silk. John could hear her as
she moved around the room. He could almost picture the way she would
shift, small graceful steps, circling Rodney, gently settling a hand
against his shoulder, his back.
“Breathe, Doctor. This is nothing we have not done before.”
considered what that might mean when he heard Rodney give an awkward
chuckle. “Teyla, if you don’t want to—I mean, you really don’t have to—”
are my friend. You asked for assistance. I would be remiss if I did not
do all I could for you.” John sensed she had moved closer, probably
standing right in front of Rodney. Maybe she placed her hands on his
broad shoulders, leaned in so her forehead touched his, Rodney’s hands
pale and large against Teyla’s bare shoulders. “But, I do believe you
should tell Major Sheppard—”
John’s ears perked up. “You agreed not to say anything.”
“I know, but I believe the Major would be most understanding of your
“Teyla.” Rodney’s tone was pleading.
“As you wish.”
The sound of deep breaths, Teyla’s voice dropping to a soft rhythmic
lilt of encouragement. John could imagine her fingers trailing along
Rodney’s arm, down to the thick bones of his wrist, the hands that
never stopped moving. Maybe she would place her palms flat against
Rodney’s chest, fingers splayed the same way John’s were against the
cool surface of the door. She would feel his heart beating wildly, and
try to gentle him with her touch. John could picture it as clearly as
if there was no door between them.
“Maybe if we could—um, could
go back to what we were doing before?” Rodney sounded almost shy,
hopeful. “But more slowly. I think I’m getting the hang of that.”
“You are doing very well.” There was a smile in Teyla’s voice. “We can
do anything you like.”
stepped away from the door. There was no need to interrupt, nothing for
him here. Teyla was … training Rodney. Giving him some kind of lessons.
That was all. Something that involved touch and relaxation. Something
they had obviously done before.
John knew the idea of it being
anything more was ridiculous. This was Teyla. And Rodney. John scrubbed
a hand through his hair and shook his head as he ambled away. There was
nothing going on, and even if there was, it was none of his business.
had told John to swing by the infirmary after lunch. The blonde nurse,
the one with the nice smile, just waved him towards the back
examination room that doubled as an office when Carson needed. There
was a sheet drawn around the area and John could hear two familiar
voices. He stopped and waited.
“You have the patience of an incontinent badger,” Carson said irritably.
you would know, wouldn’t you? I knew you had more than a passing
acquaintance with the inner workings of furry things with four legs.
You know entirely too much about them to be a real doctor.”
“Rodney, you’d make the angels reconsider their vocation, you know? I
said I would help, but—”
“I’m sorry, I’m … sorry. I’m not used to being bad at things, and this
“All right, yes, let’s just carry on—can we just try it again? Once
Carson gave a tired sigh. “Aye, but we best hurry. I told the Major to
stop by and—”
“I don’t want him to know about this, Carson. Just let me try again.”
was the sound of the bed moving slightly, wheels squeaking on the tile
floor. John could only see one set of feet turned towards the
bed—Carson’s from the looks of them—and there was the sound of fabric
rustling and Rodney grunting hoarsely.
“Okay, steady. Keep the pressure on, wrap it around—yes, that’s it.”
“I’ve got it.” Rodney sounded as if he had something in his mouth, and
John hesitated. What the hell were they doing?
slide your finger in. There.” Carson’s voice was calm, as if he was
explaining how to take someone’s temperature instead of … well, John
couldn’t quite imagine what Carson was explaining, but Rodney was in
there, lying on the bed, maybe with his knees up and his legs spread …
feels tight,” Rodney said. John stared at the curtain and wished for
backlighting. He needed to know what the hell was going on with Rodney
these days. He’d been distant, and he certainly hadn’t been asking John
for any kind of help. Especially not this kind of help. John closed his
eyes and listened to Rodney’s small noises as he wrestled with whatever
he was doing. John tried not to think of fingers, blunt and strong,
pushing, tight, and oh, God …
“Aye, just like that. It should be tight, lad. And if you’re doing it
yourself, it should be even tighter.”
took a step back. He didn’t want to know. Anything. His brain was
already supplying images he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to forget,
Rodney’s fingers and tight areas and what he could do to himself or
someone else. John’s face was hot as he backed away from the curtain
John thought maybe he should talk to Ford,
see if he’d noticed anything strange about McKay’s behaviour lately. He
tracked him down to the gym. When John passed his hands over the panel
to open the door, it beeped in protest. Locked. Common areas weren’t
supposed to be looked. Ever.
“Ford?” John banged on the door with one hand. “Hey, open up.”
was the sound of scrambling, heavy military boots on hardwood floors,
and two voices—one slow and casual, one frantic and a little bit
breathless. McKay. John was starting to think there was something going
on that everyone knew about except him.
The door slid open and a
sweaty red-faced McKay emerged with his jacket bundled in front of him.
In front of his groin, and John did not want to be thinking about
Rodney’s groin or any reason he might want to hide it behind his
jacket. Maybe it was just a coincidence.
“Major, I was—we were—”
Major,” Ford said, standing just behind Rodney and wiping his face with
a towel. He was wearing a damp t-shirt and loose sweat pants, and John
was definitely not looking to see if Ford had been up to something. So
“Ford. A little unscheduled training?”
possible, Rodney flushed even brighter and managed to stammer out,
“None of your business, Major. We’re on our own time. You don’t get to
ask, and I don’t have to tell.”
As soon as the words were out,
Rodney blinked, started to retract what he’d said, then apparently
deciding that was futile, took off towards the residential area. Ford
turned and fled back into the gym, and John stood there opened mouth.
What. The. Fuck?
“Ford, you open this damn door right now or you are going to be pulling
inventory duty for the rest of your tour.”
The door slid open to show Ford trying to suppress a fit of giggles in
John leaned in the doorway and crossed his arms over his chest. “Would
you like to tell me what you and Dr. McKay were doing, or am I going to
have to make sure you have no off-duty time ever again?”
smirked like the boy that he was, but drew himself up into a posture of
attention. “I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to discuss it, sir.”
“You’re not at—Ford, I’m your commanding officer.”
“All right, I order you to tell me what’s going on.”
can’t do that, sir.” Ford’s giggles had subsided and been replaced by a
steady tone. The same tone that would’ve reeled off his name, rank, and
serial number. John wasn’t going to get anywhere with Ford. That was
clear. Not without some serious threats or blackmail.
He tried a
different approach. “Aiden, look. I’m worried about McKay. Ever since
we got back from the satellite—since Gaul and Abrams—he hasn’t been
“He said you’d be concerned if you knew, sir.” Ford’s
brows were furrowed, as if he was trying to decide if keeping quiet was
really the best thing after all. John just had to keep working on him.
what isn’t he telling me?” John needed to know. Rodney wasn’t only his
friend, he was on his team, and therefore John’s responsibility. If
Rodney needed help dealing with what had happened, he could do that.
He’d send him to Heightmeyer or whatever it took. Rodney should know
that. Not be sneaking around getting help from everyone who wasn’t John.
Ford shook his head, decision made, and it wasn’t the one John had
hoped for. “I can’t say, sir. Wouldn’t be right.”
“Really, sir. He’s dealing with it. Nobody minds helping him out.”
raised an eyebrow. “Look, Lieutenant, I don’t know exactly what’s going
on, but tell McKay,” John paused, sorting through his feelings
carefully. He wanted to be the one Rodney came to. If he needed
comfort, if he needed this interaction, John wanted it to be
from him. Not anyone else. “Tell him he can come to me.”
really, Lieutenant. Why do you sound so surprised?” Rodney must have
said something, given Ford some reason to think John wouldn’t be okay
with this, wouldn’t understand.
“I just didn’t think you and
McKay were … well, quite frankly, sir, you two don’t seem like you’re
on the same page a lot of the time. The way you argue and all.”
don’t argue,” John protested, trying to find an appropriate word for
what they did. He definitely shouldn’t call it flirting. It was banter.
Friendly banter, and it was a sign of exactly how much they were
on the same page, as far as John was concerned. Had he been reading
things wrong? Had McKay missed the affectionate undertone of the barbs
and only heard the words?
“Looks like arguing to me,” Ford said. “Sir,” he added hastily when he
saw John’s face darken.
“Do you know where McKay was heading?”
“I believe his next appointment was with Sergeant--”
John asked. Rodney was setting up appointments for … interaction? John
really couldn’t convince himself it was all about sex. This was McKay.
Sure, he was solid and kind of attractive in his own way with those
ocean-blue eyes and that crooked smile. Those hands that never stopped
moving, hands that made promises about what they could do, how deftly
they could move. John had watched Rodney rewire a jumper with the same
care and attention he would probably bring to a handjob, and John felt
his cock twitch and decided maybe he should be the one carrying his
jacket over his groin.
Maybe it really was about sex, after all.
“He’s got appointments?” John repeated incredulously. Damn.
shouldn’t have said that.” Ford looked embarrassed. “Major, he needs
this. Just let him work it out, okay? No one minds. The doc’s saved our
lives more times than we can count, and we’re all willing to go to the
mat for him. As many times as he needs to prove himself.”
just stared at Ford’s earnest face, the hair on his forehead damp with
sweat. He tried not to imagine Ford pinning Rodney against the blue
mats in the gym, straddling him with his thighs, and making McKay’s
eyes roll back in his head. Maybe Rodney was already hard when Ford
touched him. Maybe he traced the outline of Rodney’s nipples through
his pale blue shirt, teased the zipper down with his teeth. Maybe …
John shook his head and backed out the door.
“This isn’t finished, Lieutenant."
wasn’t dealing with what had happened to Gaul and Abrams—that much was
clear. John had seen it before, guys who tried to lose themselves in
sex, but he hadn’t ever expected it from Rodney, and he hadn’t expected
McKay to be meeting with unprecedented success instead of opposition.
Since when had everyone jumped on the McKay bandwagon? Granted, Rodney
did kind of grow on people after a while, and there were days when he’d
had enough food and sleep and coffee, when the world wasn’t a step away
from ending when Rodney seemed downright pleasant to be around. Like a
super-smart Furby. Cuddly and mouthy, but still something you wanted to
be near—most of the time—when you could get past the urge to throw it
in a closet and beat it to death with a broom handle. Or maybe that was
And if Rodney needed this, needed sex, comfort,
reassurance that he was alive, why hadn’t he come to John? They were
friends. Improbable friends, maybe, but they’d been through a lot
together. They’d faced down a Wraith together. John had taught Rodney
how to hold a gun, and he spent most of his days watching the man’s
back. Not because he didn’t trust him to take care of himself, just
because … well, John liked knowing Rodney was there. That he was okay,
and yes, he’d noticed the man’s ass on more than one occasion when he
was saving it, so if Rodney had wanted something more, John wouldn’t
have been opposed to exploring the possibility.
But maybe Rodney
didn’t know that. Maybe John needed to tell him before he slept his way
through the half of Atlantis that didn’t include John.
"Who's he meeting, Ford?"
"Sergeant Bates, sir."
Bates? No, there was no way. No damn way.
would've given him mine, sir, but I lost it a while ago. Sorry." Ford
stood there looking a little bit guilty, and John just backed away
because clearly the whole damn galaxy had lost its mind.
checked in with the control room and found Sergeant Bates had armoury
duty. John was going to put a stop to this destructive behaviour and
save McKay from himself. Right now. And if it meant offering to have
sex with Rodney himself, well, he was prepared to do that.
For Rodney’s sake, of course.
book?” John said, knowing he’d just repeated Sergeant Bates’s last
three sentences, and the man was looking at him like he was a baby seal
who’d suffered one too many blows to the head. Too cute for its own
good, but inherently stupid.
“Yes, sir,” Bates acknowledged
patiently. “Dr. McKay wanted to borrow a book. I gave it to him, and he
left. I believe he was headed back to the lab.”
seemed to think for a moment, then shook his head. “Sorry, sir. It was
a personal request from Dr. McKay. I don’t think it’s appropriate to
discuss it with you.”
John snapped. It was a book, a damn book,
and what could he possibly be borrowing from Bates? Rodney didn’t even
like the guy! It couldn’t be anything that personal. He couldn’t
picture Rodney sauntering up to Bates and requesting his copy of Gay
Sex for Dummies. Not that Rodney would need such a thing. Gay
Sex for Geniuses
maybe, but … John took a deep breath and convinced himself it was not
in his best interests to strike a marine. Especially one who would
gladly press charges.
John put his hands on his hips, and tried one more time. “You’re not
going to tell me what the book was, are you?”
“Torture wouldn’t help?”
“I’m a U.S. Marine, sir. Torture is part of boot camp.”
you were, Sergeant,” John said, and headed for the labs. McKay had to
be stopped. Before he drove John completely out of his mind.
door to Rodney’s lab was closed and locked when John got there, but he
could still see the two blue-shirted scientists through the observation
window. Zelenka and McKay were seated side-by-side—awfully close
together, John thought—on a pair of lab stools, and they appeared to be
totally engrossed in whatever was directly in front of them. In
John leaned his head against the window and
screamed inwardly. This was not happening. He pressed his ear to the
window and concentrated on what was being said.
“No, no, no,” Rodney was saying. “Look at it. It’s not right.”
exactly the same. Exactly.” Radek’s hands were thrown up in the air for
a moment before he dropped them back to Rodney’s lap.
“No, it’s too thick, it’s got a weird curve in the middle, and the
texture’s all wrong.”
how would you know that? You have grip like Hercules on it. No wonder
Major is telling you to ease up on puddlejumper. One day you will break
John couldn’t help but grin. Rodney did have a
fierce grip when he flew, especially when he was nervous or scared or,
well, alive. Rodney just didn’t have a light touch. John had spent more
than one lesson saying “relax” and hoping that the puddlejumper
wouldn’t take letting Rodney fly as some kind of a personal affront.
Sometimes John got a feeling the jumper was almost sentient, and if it
could’ve given him a turkey sandwich, it probably would’ve. He settled
for letting it keep him out of trouble, responding to his touches with
only the faintest coaxing. Rodney hadn’t gotten the hang of that yet.
In any area, apparently.
“It doesn’t feel the same,” Rodney complained. “It usually vibrates a
launched into a stream of Czechoslovakian that thankfully covered
John’s strangled groan, and just made Rodney get louder in an attempt
to be heard.
“Seriously, Radek, I need this. You’ve had access
to the original. It shouldn’t be that difficult to create a replica
with the same responses built in. It’s not rocket science.”
that, Rodney started to get up, and John darted away from the door
before he could be seen. Access to the original? And it vibrated? John
was really wishing he’d brought his jacket with him now because he was
seriously hard and wondering if Elizabeth had been right about wanting
to keep a closer eye on what happened in the labs. It did seem like
Radek’s expertise wasn’t confined to jumper systems and engineering.
had managed to get around the corner before Rodney swooped out of the
lab. He’d track him down later. When he wasn’t quite so wound up. After
he’d had some time to think of things that didn’t involve anything
associated with Rodney’s lap.
“Yes, Major?” Rodney
stood in the doorway to his quarters, blocking the entrance. Behind
him, John could just see the unmade bed, the laptop glowing with some
sort of three-dimensional design that circled in an infinite loop, the
remains of a half-eaten MRE on the cluttered desk. Something meaty and
brown with gravy.
“Can I come in?”
“No.” Rodney crossed his arms and didn’t budge. “I’ve got work to do.”
“Are you mad at me?”
“Should I be?”
John didn’t want to fight. He just wanted to know what was going on.
They were still friends, weren’t they? “I want to talk to you—”
it’s a conversation I’d rather not have in the hallway,” John finished.
Rodney never made anything easy. The blue eyes narrowed at him, and
Rodney stepped back enough to allow him entrance. John scanned the room
once, his eyes lighting on a book on the corner of the desk. Rodney
seemed to register what John was looking for at about the same time and
they collided as they both lunged. John’s arms were longer, though, and
he’d played football. He managed to hold on to the paperback even as
they tumbled to the floor in an unglorified heap, the remains of the
meatloaf MRE landing squarely on top of them.
just wanted to see the—Rodney, let go of the damn—Rodney!” John tugged,
keeping his arms wrapped around the book as he would a football, and
finally managed to wrestle it away from McKay by rolling backwards. He
didn’t even care that there was meatloaf gravy in his hair.
the hell are you doing?” McKay sputtered, wiping gravy off his face and
licking his finger in a way John should not have found at all
attractive. “It’s a book—it’s just a book, and it’s none of your
Rodney’s voice was not at all convincing, and
John hunched his shoulders up in a protective gesture, carefully
turning his prize over in his hands. He held a slightly battered,
grease-spotted copy of The U.S. Marine Corps Guide to Field Protocol.
Huh. Well, that was a surprise.
“What the hell is going on with you?” John said. “You up and enlist
when I wasn’t looking?”
was just curious,” Rodney said, grabbing the book away from John and
tossing it upwards towards the desk where it collided with a stack of
journals that had been resting precariously close to the edge. John
watched them go like a barrel over Niagara Falls. Rodney, resigned,
flopped backwards onto the floor beside him.
“Rodney, come on.
We’re friends.” John reached out and picked a piece of onion out of
Rodney’s hair and flicked it across the room towards the trash. He
missed. “You’ve been avoiding me ever since we got back from the
satellite. Since Gaul and Abrams died.”
Rodney looked away, and
it was so pitiful, John felt his heart breaking. He’d do anything to
get Rodney to stop feeling the way he looked. Lost and sad and
completely alone. John let his fingers trail along Rodney’s forehead,
brushing aside the stray wisps of hair.
“Major, just—just let it
go, okay? I’m dealing with it in my own way. Maybe it’s not the best
way, but—but I really don’t need your permission to do this.”
on my team—” John started to say, and maybe it was something he’d said
a thousand times before, but this time Rodney’s eyes flared with anger
and John found himself sitting up and backing away—just a little—as
Rodney sat up and glared at him.
“And maybe that’s why I’m doing this! It’s not just your
team, you asshole. It’s mine too, and every time we go out and someone
doesn’t come back, that’s as much my fault as yours. We screwed up on
that planet. Both of us, and Gaul and Abrams were the ones who paid for
it. And you—you—dammit, John, why couldn’t you just leave it alone?”
watching you sleep your way through Atlantis to deal with the fact we
lost two people isn’t my idea of a good time, Rodney!” John yelled
back, not realizing he was shouting until he heard the echo of his
words bouncing off the walls. Atlantis had damn fine acoustics.
Rodney blinked, looking owlish and confused. “Would you like to run
that by me again?”
really, really didn’t want to, but he did because Rodney was looking at
him like he was about to haul him down to the infirmary and John
started to realize that maybe, just maybe, Rodney wasn’t the only one
who’d been acting insane here. John had been stalking him for the last
week or so, paying way more attention to Rodney’s sex life than his
own—not that he had one to speak of—and maybe this wasn’t about Rodney
John was so, so screwed, and he knew it for certain when Rodney started
was a reasonable assumption,” John said hotly after Rodney stopped
cackling like a hyena and John had given up trying to make him stop by
poking him in the side. They were still on the floor, but it wasn’t
uncomfortable, and for the first time in a week John felt like things
were almost normal between them. Even the meatloaf gravy in his hair
wasn’t really that strange, all things considered.
in what universe? Granted, I’m really quite a catch, but most of the
idiots here don’t know that—except you, apparently—and you can’t
possibly think that Teyla, that Teyla and I—not to mention Ford and
Beckett?” Rodney started to laugh again, and John couldn’t help it. It
was actually kind of funny now that it had been pointed out to him that
he was completely insane.
“I heard you and Teyla. You
were all breathless and needy.” Rodney raised an eyebrow at him, but
John pushed down his embarrassment and kept going. “It sounded like …”
apparently,” Rodney said, still snickering, “although I think I should
be hurt that you used ‘breathless and needy’ to characterize my
approach to sex. I can assure you it’s a lot more diverse than that.”
didn’t need to know that. He closed his eyes and tried not to remember
how Rodney had sounded that day, tried even harder not to think about
the man lying a foot away from him. Not breathless or needy, but
confident, comfortable, tapping out a complicated rhythm against the
floor with one hand while he talked.
“It was an honest mistake.”
I can see how you would confuse ‘being beaten with sticks’ noises with
sex. This says a lot about you. I’ve always wondered about your
training sessions with Teyla.”
“No, no, I get
it. Sex and violence go hand-in-hand for the warrior caste. You heard
me wheezing my lungs out and assumed Teyla was taking one for the team.
I get it.”
“Oh, for the love of God, would you—”
what about Carson?” Rodney propped himself up on his elbow and looked
at John carefully. “You had no reason to think I was even interested in
men. Did you?”
“I hadn’t ever thought about it,” John lied, and
Rodney smirked at him because he knew it was a lie, but it was one
Rodney seemed willing to let him get away with for the moment. “But
Carson was …” John draped an arm over his eyes and prayed for mercy. He
still didn’t know what Beckett had been talking to Rodney about, and he
wished he’d never started this conversation because Rodney wasn’t the
type to let things go. Anything. “He was talking about fingers and how
things would be tight and—”
John peeked out from under his arm
and saw that Rodney’s face had turned slightly pink. Good. At least he
wasn’t the only one partly mortified by the turn of the conversation.
“And you thought—your natural default assumption was—”
“Look, I can’t help what it sounded like!”
just like that Rodney was a foot closer than he’d been a moment before.
John could feel the warmth against his side, and he didn’t move, didn’t
breathe, didn’t say a word.
“Let me get this straight,” Rodney
said, and if there seemed to be an emphasis on the word ‘straight,’
John couldn’t imagine that it was particularly important, “you really,
seriously, idiotically”—John would’ve winced at that if it hadn’t been
true—“thought that because I was having a hard time dealing with
things, I was sleeping my way through the population of Atlantis,
sleeping with team members--except you, of course—getting
advice on sexual techniques from a man who’s most recent partner
probably had four legs and went ‘baaaa,’ and that I needed a book, a book
to round out my sexual education, and—”
“I didn’t really—”
not finished, Major.” John could see the shadow of a finger being waved
in the air over his head. “A book borrowed from a marine so
straight-laced that he could give a corset a run for its money, and
then, then, because The Complete Encyclopedia of Gay Sex
for Astrophysicists and Other Sexually-Challenged Scientists
wasn’t enough, I apparently instructed my colleague, who has been known
to spout Czechoslovakian incoherently and steam up his own glasses when
confronted with Elizabeth in a modestly low-cut blouse, to make me
a—what was it?—yes, some kind of vibrating penis-like sex toy modeled
on the original, which of course, you naturally took to mean me. As if
I’d be letting Zelenka anywhere near me with plaster of Paris and
liquid latex. Did I miss anything?”
John shook his head. If
Rodney had missed anything, he wasn’t about to draw attention to it.
All he wanted was to slink away, back to his quarters, and forget this
conversation, this whole thing had ever happened.
even bigger idiot than I thought,” Rodney said, and John took his arm
away and looked up into Rodney’s face. He still had a spot of gravy on
his cheek, and John resisted the urge to wipe it off. It was Rodney and
it would’ve been okay to do it because they were friends and
comfortable enough to lie on the floor and talk about all the sex
Rodney hadn’t been having, but John had a bad feeling if he touched
him, it wouldn’t stop there. It maybe wouldn’t stop at all, and thing
almost seemed normal between them, or as normal as things ever were. He
didn’t want to lose everything for one touch.
"John, just because you've been thinking about having sex with me
doesn't mean everyone wants to."
And there was the crux of the situation in a nutshell. John's rational
mind had flown the coop even when he knew, he knew
there was a logical explanation for everyone's behaviour--except maybe
his. Because this thing with Rodney wasn't conducive to rational
thought at all.
Rodney leaned closer, and John felt his heart
beat faster, couldn’t help the way his head came off the floor an inch
or two, the way his tongue darted out to lick his own lips.
Anticipation or just nerves, he wasn’t sure which. But Rodney stopped
leaning and started talking and John settled back down and tried to
keep his head in the game.
“We weren’t supposed to have this
conversation. Not for weeks, anyway. Maybe not ever. I was—you were
right. I wasn’t dealing with it well, but,” Rodney looked at John
fondly, like he wanted to ruffle his hair for being so silly. “I wasn’t
drowning my sorrows in sex—huh, I should be so lucky. I just
didn’t—didn’t want to go through that again, being in a situation where
I felt so helpless. Powerless. You were out there with that Wraith and
I was stuck massaging Gaul’s fingers, listening to explosions, and
wondering if you were dead.”
“No, just shut up
and listen. You could’ve been killed because I didn’t know what to do.
I didn’t even know what I was supposed to do—stay with Gaul or go after
you. Gaul took it out of my hands, and—and I’m sorry he had to do that,
except that it probably saved us both.”
“You saved my life.”
Ford saved our lives. And Elizabeth—because she’s a very smart woman
who doesn’t think we can stay out of trouble, and she’s usually right.
And even the glowy bugs saved our lives. Me, not so much. I can’t even
fly the damn puddlejumper in a straight line.”
“Rodney, you hit that Wraith with everything you had. You bought us
time. I was—I was damn proud of you.”
if I’d missed, I probably would’ve hit you, and then that would’ve been
an even bigger problem, don’t you think?” Rodney let out a frustrated
sigh. “I couldn’t afford to miss. But I’m not trained for things like
that. I—I don’t have a clue what I’m doing most of the time, and when
you’re not there to tell me … well, I just figured maybe it shouldn’t
be your responsibility anymore.”
“You’re on my—”
“Yes, yes, on your team, I got that, you can stop repeating it. But
see, you’re on my
team too, and that means I don’t want you getting hurt either.”
Rodney’s voice was quieter, and John knew he wasn’t saying everything.
Maybe it wasn’t that important to say it.
Realization started to sink in. “You were getting lessons from
everyone. Stick fighting from Teyla. Hand-to-hand from Ford.”
yes, protocol from the book Bates lent me, although quite frankly there
are some key things wrong with the whole chain of command thing, and
there are at least three sections that completely contradict one
another. I’m beginning to wonder if the military doesn’t keep
attention-deficit grammatically-challenged gerbils on retainer because—”
If John let him continue, he’d never hear the end of it, and he wasn’t
sure he disagreed. “What about Beckett?”
blushed. “Um, field dressings. You had to wrap your arm out there. I
just wanted to make sure I could do the same if I needed to. Apparently
you test if it’s tight enough by slipping a finger underneath the
Yeah, field dressings had to be tight if they were going to do any
good. “And Zelenka?”
love this.” Rodney’s face lit up enthusiastically. “He’s working on a
flight simulator for the jumpers. Small control panel that simulates
the yoke design, but it’s still not—”
“Not quite like the
original,” John finished, thinking back to what he’d heard Rodney say
in the lab. “Yeah, the sticks do vibrate slightly when the jumper’s in
“All perfectly innocent.”
think I like your version better, though,” Rodney said. “At least that
way I was getting some action other than being pounded into the floor
by both Teyla and Ford.”
John flushed at the visual image, and
Rodney let out a sharp laugh. “Jeez, who knew you had such a filthy
mind, Sheppard!” Then he was leaning over John again, and this time he
let his hand drift across John’s ribs. “You shouldn’t look this hot
with meatloaf in your hair, you know?”
“Sorry,” John murmured,
but he wasn’t sorry at all. His hand slipped around the back of
Rodney’s neck and pulled him down until their mouths found each other.
The first touch was tentative and warm, a little bit gentle, and John
thought it was exactly right for two friends who’d finally figured out
they were more than that. It was comfortable and familiar and John felt
a sense of completion settle into his bones. When they broke apart,
they just looked at each other for a moment.
“Are you sure you’re not here just because you were afraid of being
left off my most wanted list?” Rodney asked suspiciously.
“And if I’m not dealing with things, you think sleeping with you will
hurt,” John said stubbornly, pleased to see that Rodney was smiling.
“Rodney, what’s the real problem here? Why couldn’t you just tell me
“Because you’d tell me I’m a scientist and you’re a soldier and it’s
your job to protect me.”
Damn straight, John thought. He traced the fine hairs on the back of
Rodney’s neck. “You have a problem with that?”
I do. I was fine hiding behind you when I didn’t know you, when you
were just a good-looking body between me and certain death. I was
perfectly willing to let you die for me then because I was vital to the
mission and you were just somebody who knew how to point and shoot—”
me finish.” Rodney laid a hand on John’s chest. It was warm and heavy,
and John closed his eyes and relaxed underneath the touch, even as
Rodney’s words tumbled over him, fast as light. “I didn’t get what
being part of a team meant. Before. When I signed up for this. I didn’t
know it would mean caring about people like this, and I sure as hell
didn’t expect you, and now you can’t die. I’m not willing to let you
die for me out there.”
John’s eyes flashed open. “Don’t think a few extra sessions with Ford
don’t be ridiculous.” Rodney brushed the sentence off with a wave of
his hand. “I’m not going to go Rambo on you in the field. I just don’t
want to take any chances with either of our lives, okay?”
Rodney looked shocked. “That’s it? No argument?”
“Only if you keep talking.”
tugged less gently on Rodney’s neck and this second kiss was longer and
deeper, more tongue and less caution, and John liked that Rodney
touched his face and moaned like it just wasn’t possible for him to be
quiet for longer than ten seconds. John was already hard by the time
Rodney rolled on top of him and pressed a knee between his thighs.
“You’re sure about this?”
really not the time to ask,” John replied, getting a hand under
Rodney’s shirt and stroking the bare skin on his back. He nuzzled into
Rodney’s neck and kissed him.
“It might hurt your career.”
really don’t think Elizabeth’s going to ask, and I’m not going to tell
her. Are you?” John pulled back long enough to look Rodney in the eyes.
There was a worried crease between his brows that John couldn’t help
but reach up and soothe his fingers over.
“Well, normally I’d be
standing on the rooftop shouting that I was sleeping with someone this
hot, but considering you’re military, I do know how to keep a secret.”
Are we done with the talking yet? Can we get back to the kissing?” For
emphasis, John nipped at the skin of Rodney’s throat, making him press
John ruthlessly against the floor.
“That’s better,” John said, and licked the spot of gravy off Rodney’s
much for not going Rambo on me,” John muttered as they limped through
the gate, Rodney’s arm clutched tightly around John’s waist. Teyla and
Ford came in behind them, still firing frantically at unseen enemies.
As soon as they were through, Elizabeth called for the shield to be
“You can’t blame this one on me,” Rodney said, helping
lift John onto the stretcher that Beckett had brought. John could feel
the muscles in his side pulling with the effort. He was going to be
“What’s the problem, Major?”
arm,” Rodney bit out, pointedly ignoring John’s dirty looks. God, the
man was annoying. Waste of a perfectly good glare. “Again.”
how to duck, have you?” Carson was already pulling up John’s sleeve to
have a look. When he caught sight of the field dressing, he smiled.
“Some of your handiwork, Rodney? You did a fine job. Nice and tight.”
“Except I wouldn’t have needed the bandage if I hadn’t gotten shot!”
“And you wouldn’t have gotten shot if you’d done your job and let me do
mine!” Rodney yelled back.
going on here?” Elizabeth said, laying a hand on John’s arm, the one
that wasn’t covered with blood. He knew she meant well, but honestly,
he didn’t need Elizabeth getting in the middle of this. “Are you two
all right? Aside from the obvious, I mean.”
“We’re fine!” the
two of them said at once, and Elizabeth took an involuntary step
backwards. “I see. That’s the kind of day it’s been, huh? I’ll expect a
full de-briefing after Carson’s finished with you both.”
didn’t say anything else as they wheeled him to the infirmary, Rodney
two steps behind the trauma crew, chewing on a power bar like he hadn’t
eaten in days. Apparently acting like a complete and utter idiot worked
up an appetite. John was actually grateful when Carson kicked Rodney
out so he could work on John’s wound.
“Aye, he did a damn fine job of this dressing,” Carson said proudly.
John decided that was as good a time as any to pass out.
he woke up, he was still in the infirmary, his arm aching dully. He
blinked in the too-bright lights and they dimmed suddenly.
Rodney let out a chuckle. “You’ve sure got her number.”
“Who?” John said thickly, mouth still heavy with the aftermath of
whatever drugs Carson had given him.
She’s one easy city when you’ve got the right gene.” John could see
Rodney had his laptop open, but the screensaver had gone into
hibernation mode. Obviously, he’d been sitting there a long time.
“You okay?” John ventured. He didn’t remember Rodney being hurt, but it
was always best to ask.
“I’m not the one who was shot.”
sighed. They never ever had these conversations when they were both
feeling their best. He didn’t know why he expected this time to be any
different. “It wasn’t your fault.”
“That’s not what you were
saying when I dragged you through the gate,” Rodney pointed out, and
John winced. He had a feeling they were still going to end up arguing
even if they’d completely changed sides on the topic. He knew it wasn’t
Rodney’s fault—he’d known it then—but sometimes it was easier to yell
at him to keep him moving until they were all out of danger.
“I may have been mistaken,” John mumbled into the glass of water Rodney
no, you were right, Major.” Somehow Rodney sounded more sarcastic than
penitent. Not a good sign. John glanced over the edge of the plastic
glass in his hand as Rodney continued with his speech. “I was just
supposed to get the gate working again. It’s not the poor helpless
scientist’s job to shoot back at the people trying to kill us, or oh, I
don’t know, defend himself when someone tries to stick a knife in his
side. No, there was no reason for you to think that I might be able to
handle things considering you were already pinned down, Ford and Teyla
were on the way, and I was perfectly capable of taking care of myself!”
winced as Rodney’s voice got louder and higher. Nope, not penitent at
all. All he could hope for now was salvation in the form of Carson and
a really big needle full of morphine.
“Imagine my surprise when,
in spite of the fact that I’d already disarmed my attacker with a nifty
little tuck-and-roll move Ford showed me,”—John rolled his eyes—“and
was in the process of dialing the gate, you—with a complete and utter
disregard for your own pitiful life—popped up like a gopher with a
death-wish. Do you really think they needed an invitation to try and
kill you, Major? Your hair was already sticking over the barricade like
a sign saying ‘come and shoot me.’”
“No, don’t ‘Rodney’ me. You stepped out from perfectly good cover
because you didn’t think I could handle one guy.”
“He had a knife. A really big pointy knife with serrated edges.”
if he’d had a knife with my fucking name carved on the blade, it wasn’t
a good enough reason for you to stand up like a deer in headlights, you
idiot! You got shot!”
“I know!” John could feel a headache
starting behind his eyes. He handed the water back to Rodney and rubbed
at his forehead. A second later there was a hand on his shoulder, a
pair of blue eyes looking worried.
“Should I get Carson?”
“No, but maybe you could stop yelling at me for a little while.”
I—I can do that.” Rodney sat back down and let out an exhausted huff of
breath. “John, I know it’s hard, but really, I can do this.”
John figured they weren’t talking about the not yelling anymore. “I
I do.” And John really did. He just hated the possibility that it might
not be enough one day. That even with all the lessons he and Teyla and
Ford could give him, it wouldn’t be enough to save his life. “It
doesn’t mean I won’t forget sometimes.”
“Me too,” Rodney said
softly, and John knew that was probably the closest he was going to get
to an apology from Rodney, who’d deliberately ignored his order to head
for the gate when they first came under attack. He’d stayed beside him,
arguing with him practically the whole damn way as they retreated,
until there was no choice but to split up. John had only left cover for
a moment, just long enough to see Rodney going down, the knife blade
flashing in the sun above him, and John hadn’t registered anything
other than “Rodney” and “no” when the stray bullet caught him in the
shoulder and he landed hard. By then, he realized Rodney had been
diving out of the way, dislodging his attacker’s knife with some kind
of Ford-inspired flailing move that shouldn’t have worked, but
apparently did, and then Ford and Teyla were back with them and giving
them cover fire while Rodney called him an ass and half-dragged him
through the gate. Just another day in the Pegasus galaxy.
should rest,” Rodney said finally, his hand lying warm and heavy on
John’s. “I’ll give Elizabeth the short version. No ZedPM, and the
Gemayans aren’t likely to be inviting us back for tea.”
John smiled. “Well, at least you didn’t offer to build them any nuclear
bombs. I figure we got off easy.”
“Yeah, easy,” Rodney repeated, his eyes straying to John’s patched
“It wasn’t your fault.”
know. It was completely yours for not having faith in me, but—but I
still don’t like seeing you get shot.” Rodney ran a finger lightly over
the bandage. “Do you think we could try to avoid it for a while?”
“Sure. Why not?” John murmured. “Might be nice to try something
smiled and placed a quick kiss against John’s mouth. So quick he almost
didn’t feel it, but he reached out a hand and caught Rodney’s arm
before he disappeared.
“Hey?” John tugged him back. “A little
learning is a dangerous thing, you know. Just because you’ve got some
skills under your belt doesn’t mean you’re invincible, Rambo. Check
your protocol book. You still have to listen to me out there.”
“I know,” Rodney murmured. “I’m learning.”
“Yeah, well, I’ve still got things I want to teach you, so let’s try
not to get killed, okay?”
Rodney’s mouth quirked into a smile. “Deal.”
cupped his right hand on Rodney’s cheek and pulled him closer. When
their lips brushed, the kiss was sweet and calm, a promise of better
things. Yeah, John still had lots to teach him, and John suspected
Rodney had more than a few things to teach him as well. Maybe a little
learning was a dangerous thing, but a lot of learning could only be
good--for both of them--and John had always been a good student.
When John drifted off to sleep, it was with a hopeful smile on his face.
Stargate Atlantis Fiction
to Main Fan Fiction Page